THE BLESSINGS OF GOD. (Feb 2004)



Ephesians 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

BLESSINGS or BLESSING...

    This scripture is the only scripture verse in the New Testament of the Bible, where the word "Blessings" is used. However, this word has become a much different thing in the teachings of the Christian church today. As discussed in the "The Gospel of Convenience", and "Investing Christian" articles here on this site, American Christianity teaches that money, possessions, stock market holdings, "toys" and all manner of material possessions are "the blessings of God". We too used to accept this as truth. We have recently been convicted by the Holy Spirit , and instructed by God, to speak out against this principal as a heresy, and a deception of the Devil, that it has taken some 30 - 40 years for our enemy to foster into church doctrine. We have encountered some truly amazing responses in this endeavor, in the form of, in some cases, condemnation from fellow Christians. We have been told we are "lost", "out there", "unthankful to God". 

Accumulation of wealth is a christian past time today     The concepts of the "blessings of God", and "stewardship" are now doctrines in the church. They include the teaching that your possessions are bestowed "blessings", or "gifts" from God, and that it is you're duty as a Christian, to be a faithful "steward" of those things (I.E. that you are to maintain them, upgrade them, increase them, or nurture (love) them.) However, the word "blessings" only appears in the above scripture, and in the following verses, as "blessing"...

Luke 24:53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
Romans 15:29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
Galatians 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Hebrews 6:7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God:
Hebrews 6:14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
Hebrews 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
1 Peter 3:9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
Revelation 5:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.
Revelation 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Revelation 7:12 Saying, Amen: blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

    4 times the word is used as meaning "Praise or Worship", ( Luke 24:53,Revelation 5:12,5:13, and 7:12). 4 times it is used as meaning "salvation" ( Romans 15:29, 1 Corinthians 10:16, Galatians 3:14,and the second use in 1 Peter 3:9). 3 times it is used as meaning "Approval" or "Love" ( James 3:10, Hebrews 6:7 and the first use in 1 Peter 3:9). In the last 2 uses, ( Hebrews 6:14, and in Hebrews 12:17), Paul was discussing the Old Testament patriarchs, and the circumstances surrounding their "inheritances" which as we know, were the "blessing" (anointing) of God, as the rightful leaders of Israel. 

The new standard for christian success has become money     In no context in scripture, other than the context of ancient Israel, which we all know WAS in fact an earthly kingdom, is the word "blessing" used to indicate land, or material possessions. So the use of "blessings" as a doctrine in which people are given material wealth, possessions, and increase, as a gift of God, is out of context with the Church of Jesus Christ, (a Spiritual kingdom), and with the Bible as a whole. Since the Old (earthly) covenant is fulfilled in Christ, its principals do not apply to the Church, except where Jesus expanded on them. 

STEWARD OR STEWARDSHIP...

Also, in the entire New Testament, the word "Steward", only appears in the following verses... 

Matthew 20:8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
Luke 8:3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
Luke 16:2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou may be no longer steward.
Luke 16:3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord takes away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
Luke 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

    In all 8 uses of the word "Steward" given in the New Testament, the meaning of the word is "Care Taker" of something. It is indicated as this person's secular job. The only verse in which a steward is stated in a doctrine concerning the Church of Jesus Christ is in Titus 1:7, where the Bishop is described as one who posses these traits, please note that one of those traits is, "not given to filthy lucre;" (as described in "The Investing Christian" article). Most of the scriptures above were part of a parable, where Jesus was teaching a principle of our faith, but the "items" described in those parables were not the point, we will discuss this further later in this article.

There are three appearances of the word "stewardship" in the New Testament, and they are found in the following versus, 2 of them were above...

Luke 16:2-4 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou may be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord takes away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses

Dreaming about money?     Brothers and Sisters, "Stewardship", as a doctrine from God that orders us to grow our money, make it increase, and spend our lives, and we might add a HUGE portion of our time, dedication, and strength doing, is not in line with the things that Jesus taught us about a life that is pleasing to him. These scriptures do in fact teach a "principle" of faithfulness, but when taken in the context of ALL of Jesus' other teachings, they can not possibly be intended to refer to our constantly increasing wealth, especially when Jesus spent a very significant portion of his time condemning riches. Some would then ask "Then, what is meant by this scripture"...

Matthew 25: 14-28 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and dug in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoned with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou delivered unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou delivered unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knew that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed: Thou aught therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents...

    We would contend, that like other scripture verses that we have discussed here, Jesus is teaching the principle of faithfulness in this Parable. Often times in the Parables of Jesus, the examples given are used to teach a principle, not give a teaching on the exact items in the parable. When taken in the context of Jesus' teaching one would need to say that Jesus contradicted himself, if he was teaching here about how we need to expand our wealth, since he utterly condemned wealth everywhere he went. Would Jesus teach in one city that riches are evil, and of the devil, and in another city, that you must make your money grow and grow faithfully? We think not. All of Jesus' parables used earthly things to illustrate his point. This parable is no exception to that rule. The parable is not about money. Here are a few examples of what we are saying...

IN THE PARABLE Of THE CANDLE UNDER THE BUSHEL...

Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 

    Is Jesus talking here about how important it is that we don't put a candle under a bushel? Certainly not, or he would have discussed how a fire would result. Was he teaching that the best cities, are those that we build on a hill? No. He was talking about the great commission, that his followers needed to go out into the world and share the gospel, by living it

IN THE PARABLE Of THE GREAT BANQUET...

Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper... 

    Was Jesus teaching here, that if we get an invitation to a banquet, we had better show up? certainly not. He was discussing how the Jews had been invited to the salvation he represented, and that they made excuses, and he was foreshadowing the fact that the gentiles would be offered this salvation.

IN THE PARABLE Of THE WORKERS IN THE VINEYARD...

Matthew 20:1-16 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the 
sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour,  they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the good man of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
 

Show me the Money?    Was Jesus teaching here that Christian Bosses should pay all their workers the same rate? Was he teaching that workers should be paid daily instead of hourly? He wasn't teaching about paying workers at all folks, he was teaching that all who come into his salvation, would receive that salvation, weather they were the first to come or the last to come, that his first 12 followers are no more worthy of him, than the last man who accepts the truth at the end of the world.

DECEPTION...

    So we see that, and we already know that, many false doctrines can be taught using the scripture as their backup. We know of many of these.. The Jehovah's Witnesses teach that we are not supposed to receive transfusions of blood. The scripture verses they use to back that teaching are these.. 

Acts 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. 

    Given the fact that blood transfusion technology didn't exist in the days of the Apostles, I think it could be said that these verses are closer to saying that we shouldn't eat real beef gravy, or drink human blood, than they are to the interpretation that the Jehovah's Witnesses use them to mean. We all have learned throughout our Christian lives that context is vital when interpreting scripture. We know that we have to look at what they were saying at the time, and we need to weigh what we think they were saying with the rest of scripture. We would obviously agree that you need to be responsible with your money, and that giving to your church is what the Lord expects us to do.  After all, if you are being ministered to by your church, they deserve to receive their sustenance from you. (is the workman is worthy of his hire?) However, using the "Talent Parable" (Mat 24: 14-28) as a way to teach that we as Christians are to constantly increase our cash is a misuse of that parable for sure. Today's interpretation of "The blessings of God" certainly doesn't line up with the rest of New Testament scripture, and neither does the doctrine of "stewardship" as it is currently used in modern day Christianity. What would those of you who disagree with this say to the following verses of scripture...

Matthew 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
Mark 4:19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
Mark 10:23-24 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answered again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 
Luke 6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 
1 Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor 
trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; 
James 1:11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning 
heat, but it withers the grass, and the flower thereof falls, and the grace of the fashion of it perishes: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. 
James 2:5-6 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 
 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. 


The following verses speak clearly to the state of affairs I am talking about in this article...

Which shadow should the Christian cast on the world? 1 Timothy 6:5-12 5 Perverse disputing of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

    I would like to take a look at that last set of verses for a minute. 1 Timothy 6: 5-12 talks about exactly the state of certain people, and fully addresses the reason I wrote this article. Look at this set of verses piece by piece. In verse 5 Paul says, "Perverse (incorrect) disputing of men of corrupt- (or mistaken) minds, and destitute of the truth, Supposing that gain is godliness". Clearly, Paul is talking about a belief that has been around even since Christ's time, that "Gain" or financial increase, was a sign of godliness or the approval of God. He also clearly doesn't agree. In 6-8, he goes on to explain his disagreement.. 6-8: But godliness with contentment is "great gain". For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment (clothing) let us be therewith content. In 9 and 10 he tells what the state of people who pursue wealth and money is. 9-10 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. I don't think Paul could say it any clearer than this, money and wealth ARE a "temptation and a snare", and there are "foolish and hurtful lusts" which "drown men in destruction and perdition" (waywardness and separation from God) for those who seek after it. Why? Verse 10, For the Love of money is the root of all evil: which while some have "coveted after" (longed for and go about to possess) have erred from the faith, and "pierced themselves through with many sorrows". I don't think it can be said by anyone, Christian or not, that the Apostle Paul (who had spoken to the lord himself many many times in his life), had anything good to say about wealth, in fact he taught throughout his ministry that it was of nothing but hurt to the Faith. How do we know this? Verses 11,12 go on to say how we know this.. "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; (money and wealth) and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. Paul has left no uncertainty here at all. Money and wealth are NOT the goal or even an interest of the faithful and true servants of Christ. 

THE DECEITFULNESS OF RICHES...

    I think it necessary to define "rich" here for a moment, because I believe that most American Christians would have a bit of trouble with that definition, where our standard of living has progressed to such an amazing level of avarice. Most people wish to think of those that are "filthy rich" when they think of the word rich, like Bill Gates, or the Wall kids (of Wal-Mart). The modern English dictionary defines "rich" this way... "a: having abundant possessions and especially material wealth" b: well supplied". Could it be said that a man who has a home, (or two), 2 cars, 2 or 3 color televisions, stereo equipment, 3 or 4 computers, beautiful furniture, thousands of dollars of saved cash, and possibly, a couple motor bikes, or a boat would be considered "rich" or "well supplied", "having abundant possessions and especially material wealth"? Yes, I think we could. When we contrast that, to the way of life of the average person alive in Jesus' day, we believe that even those who live in what we call "suburbs" in America would be considered more wealthy than the "rich man" that Jesus asked to sell all that he had, and that those who live in "ghettos" here, are more wealthy than the middle classers in ancient Israel. When we consider how much work maintaining these things are, and replacing them over the years, upgrading them, it could be said that it is a life consuming job to maintain our "standard of living". How much time does that afford the average Christian to further the kingdom of God? 

    What is "the deceitfulness of riches"? What are "The cares of this life"? What are the "foolish and hurtful lusts"?  How does one describe men being "drowned in perdition and destruction"? What is meant by being "pierced through with many sorrows"? Please allow me to give my definitions of these tragic states of being...

Greed Greed Gimme Gimme!     "The deceitfulness of riches". I think the deceitfulness of riches, is the lie that we will be happy once we acquire them. the funny thing is, that no "thing" that I have ever acquired, no amount of money that I have ever earned, has made me "happy" or "satisfied". When I made $25,000 a year, I thought I'd be in great shape if I made $30,000 dollars a year. When I made $30,000 a year I thought I'd be secure with $40,000 a year... and so on and so on, I wasn't. Money is like Athlete's foot, the more you scratch it the more it itches, until eventually you are sitting there with a towel, raking it in between your toes, as it turns to burning! You become trapped in a constant effort to get more, increase, add to your wealth, not to mention the ENTIRE lives we waste "maintaining" these "Blessings". The deceitfulness of riches, is that no matter how wealthy you are, you never consider yourself wealthy, because if you have this much, you could use that much, and so its the "really" rich guy that is "rich". You never put yourself in that category. Honest readers would admit that they too, have experienced this "rising need" scenario. 

    "The cares of this life". I would obviously define the cares of this life as the things that we need to do in order to maintain, increase, add to our money. The job, the business, making sure we have another job lined up for next week, the constant effort to  maximize our "earning potential "to maximize our "profits". When one considers that the average business owner in America works in excess of 60 hours per week maintaining his business, and another 15-20 hours per week at home "working out details", it is safe to say that the greatest portion of our life is spent caring for again, the "standard of living" that we feel we need. Not to mention the hours and hours we spend, maintaining our properties, repairing our "blessings" and out and out "consuming".

    "Foolish and hurtful lusts". I think "foolish and hurtful lusts" could be adequately described like this, when we are working day in and day out on the cares of this life, do we see that man who drives a BMW, or Mercedes, or 350Z and say to ourselves when we look at his lifestyle, "Man, I want that". Do we envision ourselves driving that car? Do we wish that we could "strike it big" like he has? When we see that 52 inch plasma screen in our friends home, do we want one? It seems obvious to me that if you have a 32 inch color TV, that it could be said its "foolish" to think you need a 52 inch plasma screen. It also seems "hurtful" for you to be in a position that you feel like you are not adequate with what you have, there by causing you to be unsatisfied (unthankful) for what you have, and "lusting" after more or bigger "things". I think most honest readers living the "American dream" will admit this is common.

    "Drowned in perdition and destruction". I spent a lot of time thinking about what is meant by men being "drowned in perdition and destruction". I think the "Investing Christian" Article describes a large part of how this is happening in America today. People take their "excess" money and put it in the stock market, or in mutual funds. I mean its the responsible thing to do right? We need to build for our retirement. What most people don't realize is what this money is doing and how it is increasing. It is invested in the large corporations of America, and as those companies make money, (minus the billions the executives take for themselves before they determine what is "profit"), they share it with "investors" (those who have their money in the Market). The problem with this, is that by becoming an "investor" or a "benefactor" of these companies' profits, we are also morally responsible for how those monies are made, even if we do not share in the decision making processes, because with our "investments" we "enable" them. American corporations today have become so ruthless in their money making policies, that incredibly divisive and even out right evil things are being done for profits. Think of it, "profitability" is determined by a comparison to last year. If a company makes the same money three years running, it is considered unprofitable, or is an undesirable investment. This standard defines "capitalism" perfectly in my view, because the whole thing is based on increase, increase, and more increase I.E. GREED. Closing down factories in the United States, and killing millions of jobs here, they open factories in third world 
countries, and pay already starving populations pitiful wages to do very difficult and time consuming labor, for many more hours a day than American workers did, all in the name of showing a greater profit, when in fact their payrolls aren't nearly the highest of their expenses. I have asked this question before on this site, By "entering in" to that which is evil, do we not become evil ourselves? When we stand before God, how will we distance ourselves from these activities, when we profited with those corporations from them? Will we be able to say to our lord, "I didn't know they were doing these things Lord."  We will not, as the Bible proves many times that being in "darkness" is no excuse.  If you didn't know what your money was doing, you should have known. By choosing "not to know" aren't you fulfilling the scriptures discussed concerning "Loving darkness" in the "Gospel of Convenience" article? 

    Pierced through with many sorrows. I think that this state of being is one that has both present AND future concerns. We all know what a "Pain" money and the constant struggle to get more can be, we who own homes certainly know what a "pain the buck" the constant upkeep and maintenance can be. Those who have their money in the market certainly know how stressful, and even heart shaking the stock market can be for the person who turns on the news each night and sees his stocks and his life savings going down the proverbial tubes, up and down, up and down. Get the picture? The consistent service to money and "lifestyle" that is now the American way of life is chalk full of "sorrows" isn't it? What about the "future" concerns I mentioned? As we know, there are consequences for everything we do. Sometimes those consequences come fairly quickly for us, and we are faced with dealing with them sooner, rather than later. But when an entire society follows a certain course, and that course is the "accepted" way of life for that society, there aren't really any consequences to face, since it is considered the "right" way to do things, (much like Sodom and Gomorrah). The future "sorrows" that I believe will face the common American Christian, is facing a judgment that is laden with things he doesn't even know he is going to be required to answer for. Losing rewards that God has in store for us in his kingdom, and possibly even finding ourselves eternally separated from him, seem to me to be the ultimate of "sorrows" to face. This is why we write these Articles. 

Stariway to Heaven?     The Bible very clearly teaches the principles of the Christian walk, and due to the fact that the devil is working so diligently to deceive as many as possible before the Lord's coming, there are many who are leaving their spiritual guard down, falling in love with the deceitfulness of riches, devoting all their time and energy, even now in the last days, to things like houses, cars, property, stock market investing. Turning their allegiances to the political arena and the mighty American military to "protect their blessings" and bring about God's will on earth, calling the ungodliness of the lies and deceit of these politicians holy and from God, putting their trust in uncertain riches, supposing that gain is godliness, turning a blind eye to the evils they are investing their money and trust in. All of this is done so that the Christian can feel good and safe in his wealth. It is truly the last days of which Jesus spoke, we believe the last generation before the fulfillment of all things is alive today, yet life goes on in America as though "all things were as they have been from the beginning." 

CHRISTIANITY AND MONEY... 

And what about the Christian leadership? What are they saying about money? The church leadership also teaches that financial pursuit is good as well, of course if you think about it they really don't have much choice, given the fact that they have been teaching the "10% or more" tithing standard for decades, if your parishioners make more, they give more, and as a result, doctrines like the "Prosperity Gospel" are commonplace in today's American church. I don't think you will hear many leaders who draw their incomes from the tithes of their parishioners teaching the scriptural realities about money, since that would directly affect their own earnings. Here is a short list of the most well known, and respected Christian ministries in America today and their earnings, as reported to the (ECFA)...  "Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability" 

Top ten Christian organization's earnings

** Turning Point's audits reported for only a 6 month activity, the above amount is based on a probable 12 month period.

** Turning point's reported income does not appear to include income from sales of books written by Dr. Jeremiah.

    Only a general breakdown of the use of these monies are given on the ECFA site, and as far as we can tell from that information, above 80% of these amounts are spent running these organizations, (salaries, rents and mortgages etc,). We would welcome more clearly stated breakdowns of the balance sheets of these companies, and will post any that are submitted to us. As a result of these ministries, the founders have accumulated to themselves vast fortunes, multiple properties, and excessive reserves of cash. Pat Robertson for example, has stated on his program (1998) that he manages a personal portfolio that exceeds 40 Million dollars. The men running these organizations above are all multimillionaires who live an example that excessive wealth is an acceptable goal of today's Christian. One of the most unbelievable functions that some of these ministries are now performing, is to help their donors with their estate planning, steering just short of actually saying that you should leave a portion of your estate to the ministry, but the implied reality of greed is astounding. 

    It is almost disgusting to consider the financial lives of men like today's "Televangelists" when we consider the vast level of abject poverty right here in the United States, never mind abroad, when we consider the words of Jesus Christ. The disciples of Jesus taught that people who would lead the children of God were not to live lives like this, and that the Christian life was one where an example is shown. One that is not "given to filthy lucre" or greed. They said very specific things about the leadership of the church and how they were required to live. 1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind, neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples (examples) to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away. Remember that verse in Timothy we discussed earlier? 1 Timothy 6: 11-12 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; (Money and wealth) and follow after  righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. If even one of the men above could factually state, and verify that his personal income is under the 100k level, we would love to post a formal and public apology!  Not that 100k is modest at all, but even if they were that low, we would be truly impressed. I'm fairly certain we won't be hearing from any of these folks any time soon, however if we do, (and we invite them to communicate with us), I will post their responses straight away.

THE TRUE BLESSINGS OF GOD...

    Ok so, most folks reading this article, are probably asking, what are the "Blessings of God"? If not the possessions we hold or the money we receive from our lives, then what? Take a look at the following verses of scripture...

Romans 2:4 Or despise thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads thee to repentance?
Romans 9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Romans 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how UNSEARCHABLE are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
2 Corinthians 8:2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Ephesians 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and 
what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the UNSEARCHABLE riches of Christ;
Ephesians 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
Colossians 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

    These are just some of the verses that the word "riches" lives in in the New Testament of Scripture. Do you think its possible that Paul knew of a different kind of riches? A source of a different kind of a wealth? He mentions quite a few different kinds of "riches" in these verses. "The Riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God." "The riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering" "The riches of his grace" "The riches of his glory" There is a wealth my 
friends that far surpasses the wealth that is measured in dollars and cents! It is the wealth of knowing the mercy of our heavenly father, The wealth of the understanding of the world and men that comes from the revelation of the wisdom and knowledge of God, it is the rich fulfillment found in receiving the eternal salvation of Christ, and the resulting thankfulness that rules our lives from that day forward. There are many other "blessings" that can be found in a life of service to God. The glorious moment when you literally see a man's face realize the salvation of God, as you are sharing your faith with him. The look of staggered fear you see in men's faces when you get a word of knowledge and say it, and their skin turns slightly pale as they compose themselves and walk away. The awesome wonder that comes when you pray for a man, and he is healed. The excellent excitement that comes from realizing that you have a ministry, and that God approves of it. These are riches of such greater value than money, and houses and land, and this world's "riches" are pale, temporary, and dull in comparison. 

    It seems that due to the fact that so many Christians dedicate their entire lives to the pursuit of wealth and greed, that fewer and fewer Christians are experiencing these great miracles on a daily basis, and assuming that "worldly blessings" are what God has in store for them. see "The Righteousness of Christ" article on this site for a deeper explanation of this fact. The feeling I get when my young son runs up to the door when I get home, and yells "DAD!" and jumps all over me cause he's happy to see me, and that same feeling from his 4 older sisters before him. The power of my wife's kiss, and when we make love. That that love is sacred, guilt-free, holy and approved of by God. These are the blessings of God my friend. Money never satisfies, homes are never glorious or new enough, cars are never quite exactly what we are looking for, Careers are made up of constant feelings of failure and disappointment. Businesses are a constant The almighty dollar rules the lives of Americans grind to find more jobs, clients and accounts, I.E. the constant chase after the ever fading dollar. These things offer no lasting reward, and what reward they do offer is only temporary. At best these things are "the fruit of our labor" or the "consolation of our efforts" but they are NOT the blessings of a Lord that clearly condemned service to money.

A TIME FOR CHANGES...

The scripture teaches that we have a job to do here, and that when that job is done, and we come into the eternal kingdom of God that we will THEN live lives of reward and eternal happiness and blessing. It also teaches that the life committed to Christ would be rejected, outcast, downtrodden, persecuted, and hated. until "when the chief shepherd shall appear, and you will receive a crown of glory that fades not away". Yet today's American Christian lives as though that is already the case. He builds wealth and an estate for himself, and lives a life that pretty much describes the one promised to us in the eternal kingdom. And that is what ALL of his days are spent doing, it is "The American Dream". This is his goal, and it is taught as the right way for the Christian. Unfortunately ALL of the doctrines used to promote this kind of life are false, taken out of context, and will lead many to perdition and destruction. Brothers and Sisters we have a job to do! We have been given very specific instructions by our Lord, on how we are to live until the time of his coming, and it doesn't resemble that which is called the "American Dream" at all. It doesn't resemble the American way of life in even its most remote reaches, and we must speak to that. Finally I will leave you with the following words, spoken by Jesus Christ our Lord. I would ask you to consider how the American Dream compares to the life Jesus exhorted his followers to live...

Matthew 6:19-34 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (money). Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

    That speech by Jesus is one that many Christians have come to believe was for another time, and is not for them to live "in our world of advancement and progress". We disagree with this statement. Just because "the world" has created a life where one can become incredibly wealthy, doesn't mean that this is the way God wishes for us to live. We have never been called to be involved in the ways of the world, or to partake in her "blessings" at all. In fact, when one reads the Gospels, he sees a very different picture of the life that is triumphant in Christ. Unfortunately, most Christians have lost sight of the fact that triumph in Christ equals loss in the world, and we believe, that as one presses toward "the prize of the high calling of God in Christ" (Philippians 3:14), the only thing that he moves closer to in this world, is that he will someday be killed "for the world of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ" ( Revelation 1:9). We are in the process of laying down our pursuit of wealth, and returning to the commission that God has given us in Christ. We believe that by laying down the constant search for more money, and all the things that come from it, the demands on our time and energy will be freed up to be busy serving God as we are intended to do. Sure, we won't be living in big expensive homes anymore, but we also won't have to make 100 grand a year to support that lifestyle as well. We are excited about the possibilities of returning to a life where the daily job is to figure out ways to further the kingdom of God. Follow us, and be free!

  

In Christ, F.E.Reilly

ęCopyright 2003 11th Hour ministries All Rights Reserved
For more information feel free to Contact Us