Monday, September 9, 2013

The Love of Money

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Timothy 6:10 NRSV). The preceding verse says, “But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction”(1 Timothy 6:9 NRSV). These verses tie up neatly with what the Lord says: “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing” (Matthew 13:22 NRSV).

In presenting this article, we do so out of obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord who sends us to you with this message knows that we are not sharing this out of malice, greed or jealousy. Instead, our message is intended to lead you to repentance and deliverance.

Furthermore, we are not in competition with anybody when we deliver the messages from the Lord to you, nor do we use this as a platform to set ourselves apart as super or better. That view is worldly and demonic; in fact the Lord warned about sectarianism (Mark 9:40). What we therefore desire to see is the Lord’s message transforming lives and rendering humble, faithful and worry-free Christians separated from worldly passions. When we strive to live pleasing to the Lord in our every walk, we will be seen by Him as bearing fruit.

Fruit Bearing

Speaking about fruit bearing, this is seen in obedience to the Lord (John 15:1-5): fruit bearing through the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), giving to the poor and needy (1 John 3:18), witnessing (Acts 1:8), love for God and all mankind (1 John 4:7-12), and helping others in every way in Christ (1 John 3:17). Having said this, some might think, “This is asking a lot from me!” However, remember Jesus Christ shared His life for the benefit of everyone (John 3:16). Likewise, in nature God has provided rich deposits of every kind of fruit and seeds for the benefit of all living creatures (Genesis 1:29-30). Therefore, the benevolence of God in nature serves to show us that His gifts to us are free and for the benefit of all.

In reality, fruit bearing is being stifled by the spirit of personal greed. In simple terms greed wants more things than what we really need, while selfishness is keeping everything for oneself while ignoring the suffering of others. As Christians, our obedience in indiscriminate sharing holds in great future blessings. The worldly and unsaved are also practicing limited but discriminatory altruism; this they do to receive praise from man (Matthew 6: 1-4). This holds no future rewards; fruit bearing must be in Christ for His glory and He must be seen through every Christian who remains anonymous to the world but known and visible to God. As it is, when Christ is seen through our fruit bearing, then it is no longer us doing, but Him through us (Galatians 3:20). Someone once argued and said, “If Christ worked through me, then how could I still get rewarded by Him since He did everything?” The Lord answered and said: “Because you obeyed Me and allowed Me to use you on that basis, your faith and obedience is being rewarded”. The Lord also said that a dedicated believer in Him has his heart richly decorated with His word and the spirit of obedience is resident in that person. This kind of person, He said, easily hears His voice and follows Him (John 10:27). Therefore, faith expressed in Christ in the absence of self-interest magnifies God (John 14:13).

Winds of Doctrine

Brethren, with this article we are not presenting to engage in arguments or to play referee between those who embrace the prosperity teaching and those who don’t. We simply just share our convictions and what the Lord Jesus Himself has taught us on this subject. I want to mention this, not in arrogance or to express superiority over other precious children of God. I mean this in a humble spirit and in submission to Christ’ grace and love to us. We as a family and ministry have had the grace of hearing directly from our Lord Jesus Christ for more than three (3) years now. Whether you believe us or not, faith, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are required to judge if our message is indeed from our Lord Jesus Christ to you.

When I first gave my life to our Lord Jesus Christ in February 1991, I read and did only what the Bible said. Later on I joined a local church and attended services every night for more than six (6) months. I have a notebook in which I recorded all the notes and Scripture references as given by my then pastor. This led me to slow down my Bible reading and instead study these verses. Being a young Christian, my faith was shaped through these teachings. As new born babes in Christ, we always value the experience of those who were or are in the faith before us. In fact the Scriptures encourage us to submit to make their work easy (Hebrews 13:17). This is true and must be obeyed and the Lord said this is only applicable when we are under the authority of our leaders’ teaching. Just last week, the Lord said to us, we must discern if what we are told is consistent with the rest of the other teachings and examples in the Bible. The Lord also said this Scripture does not give a minister of the gospel a life-time authority over our salvation; it is only “… until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature…” (Ephesians 4:12-13). We do not remain infants forever like all living organism in nature, but we must fend for ourselves and start bearing fruit (Ephesians 4:14-16). I am not encouraging division here; we must reach unity in the faith and allow the Lord to whom we all belong to sustain those He committed under our care. The Lord Jesus Christ has not called us to ‘… lord it over those in your charge…” (1 Peter 5:3 NRSV). I have mentioned this with the hope of delivering those who are in bondage to the every word of “authority” by their leaders. We have been given freedom in Christ and we must honour Scriptural truth over the word of teaching of man. That is why I encouraged you to judge our teaching using the Bible and the Holy Spirit.

The Love of Money

Furthermore, if we base our Christian lives on the teachings and following the life examples of the God-fearing men and women in the Bible, our confusions and ignorance would be answered. In our Christian faith, we are taught to seek God’s riches of holiness and righteousness more than earthly wealth (Matthew 6:19-21, 33). It is deceptive to use the gospel to encourage people that this is their way out of poverty. While the Lord will supply all our needs, this should not be the only reason we have come to the Lord. The most important need of us serving the Lord is for the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:9). If we have been given earthly riches by God as a result of our faith, then He has blessed us to share with others so that His abundance can be seen and not our showing off. This is bragging, and sadly this is not a Godly attitude of humility, but a worldly attitude.

Kindly allow me to say this: some pastors make very good financial advisers and they have an “anointing” to preach and teach on finances. These ministers encourage you to “store riches here below” and are even paid for telling you that this is what God wants for you. This is the promotion of the spirit greed. If you are to take their advice, listen to God and sow in needs around you. This is a ministry and service to God and not in man’s self-enrichment scheme. Recently, the Lord warned us to be aware of pastors who are constantly looking for money saying the Lord wants them to build big buildings, domes, etc. While we must have a proper place of worship, God cares more about His word and souls. Therefore, invest your wealth into people’s salvation; this is where true riches are (Luke 16:9).

Briefly, before I was called to minister full time, I worked for about US$600 or R6000.00 a month. I have a family of 5, including myself. We faithfully contributed to the church out of this money. Later on the Lord added 4 more people to my family. Honestly, and being human, this was a very hard thing for me to do. I prayed and fought every kind of excuse until I submitted and told the Lord to let His will be done. I am testifying the truth here and this is verifiable. The Lord blessed whatever little finances we had, as we lived on basic and simple needs only. Again, we are not saying this to be commended by man; we say this to demonstrate the power of Christ and our deliverance from greed, selfishness and the love of money. The Lord taught us how to live and share our lives and possessions with others.

Also, some people in our ministry have been severely warned by the Lord not to practice greed. A particular sister, the Lord revealed, stashed her cash away while there was want around her. If we ignore a need around us while we do have money, we are possessed by greed and the love of money. The Lord also revealed how one person, motivated by his greed, lent money to someone he lives with, and at the same time benefited from it while he reserved his money. Beloved, this is what some people practice, including pastors. We must not pursue love for worldly things, but we should be content with what we have (Hebrews 13:5). The prosperity doctrine encourages the love for money and greed. I have been to some churches where the spirit of greed is so rife; people are encouraged to just give and keep giving. Some even charge for using the bathroom facilities. This is a trend that has been set and almost all new pastors desire neither souls nor the Lord, but to be like the trend-setters. Judge therefore for yourself if that is the commission of the church (Matthew 28:19-20).

In conclusion, are we serving the church and its needs more than what God called us to do? Do we minister to the needs of others around us or have we decided to donate to the church only so they will do it on our behalf? Are we individually bringing glory to Christ or do we only believe that only doing so corporately matters? This is not the gospel we preach! The gospel we represent is for individuals who will give account for themselves one DAY before God (Romans 14:12). God called you into the body to “prepare you for works of service” (Ephesians 4:12); this is your individual ministry.

To accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please pray this Prayer of Sincere Repentance. For any questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed regards,

Brother Glenn.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ignorant People

The Danger of Ignorance

Webster’s dictionary defines ignorance as “a lack of experience or knowledge,” or “the state of being uninformed”. In this article, we will limit ignorance to the things pertaining to God. The Lord said that we must write an article about “Ignorant people”. As I stressed in some of our previous messages, the Lord Himself says what must be taught. Like I said elsewhere, if what we proclaim here seeks to promote us or our ministry more than Christ, then we seek man’s approval and not God’s. But if our message glorifies Christ and points man to correction, then it means we ourselves are subject to the message and we must therefore learn the Word to obey (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Ignorance is Not an Excusable Sin

As people, we all have sinned against God in ignorance. We have all done something that we didn’t know or realize was sinful until we are being made aware that we have indeed sinned. In the Old Testament, atonement was made for all the people of Israel whether they had knowledge of sinful acts or not; they were held accountable (Leviticus 4:22-23). As it is, the Bible gives us the knowledge of sin and the Holy Spirit convicts us not to sin (John 16:8). In simple terms, a conviction is a strong feeling of guilt. This guilt serves as a witness to our conscience. When we act out of ignorance, we are somewhat ‘free’ from guilt, so we repeat our behaviour. Consequently, when we are being made aware of our wrong behaviour, guilt manifests and retribution is needed to remedy that guilt (Romans 5:12-13). In this particular portion of Scripture, we are shown that retribution was added even when ignorance was present. God therefore provided the knowledge of sin (Romans 7:7) so that we might acknowledge our guilt and accept correction in obedience to His law of retribution (Romans 5:18-19). This leaves no one without an excuse unless we deliberately choose to ignore God’s warning. Additionally, we are also warned that “… Since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:29-31).

Ignorance is Self-inflicted

In the Bible we read (and this Scripture lists among the most quoted): “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6 NIV). As it is, verses following this Scripture point to a deliberate act on the part of the people – they ignore God’s law intentionally. This is fueled by a lack of interest in the things pertaining to God and our obligations towards Him. When we act in intentional ignorance and sin, we choose to follow our own counsel, and by so doing we think that we are absolved from our responsibility towards God. We think we have an alibi so God will understand. This attitude brings regret and all of mankind are subject to God’s judgements whether sin was committed in ignorance or intentionally (Romans 2:12-16). Ignorance is therefore self-inflicted and this is a choice we exercise. Where there is a choice, there is cognizance and thus accountability.

Therefore, each believer in Christ has a responsibility to hear God for themselves through the Scriptures and obey their teachings. Daily Bible study is a must for every believer (2 Timothy 2:15). Knowledge about God is freely available and people exercises an option to believe and obey. This does not requires expensive or specialised training; you only need faith and the Holy Spirit will guard the truth within us through His fruit, gifts and convictions (2 Timothy 1:13-14). I personally have no problem with Bible School training, and I have learned to embrace whatever teaching I receive about the Lord that builds my relationship with Him, not into wrong doing but in holy living (Philippians 4:8). But if what I am being taught is promoting an individual or a body other than Christ, who is the theme and message of the Bible, I will exercise my choice and follow what the Bible teaches. For I follow and obey what the Bible says more than what a preacher or Bible teacher says. No one has been given special positions in the body of Christ, but we are all called to be servants (Matthew 20:26-28). Themyth surrounding certain servants of God comes from ignorance. While we do not claim to have all knowledge, we have received the grace to deliver God’s message to you.

The Cost of Ignorance

The Bible has already declared all believers in Christ as equal (Galatians 3:28). But some believers through ignorance set certain ministers of the gospel apart as special. They ignorantly use certain Scriptures to “sanctify” certain ministers, and in reality such Scriptures essentially apply to all believers. Through ignorance, we for example cover our authority and infallibility with “Do not touch My anointed ones; do My prophets no harm” (Psalm 105:15). While this is true that God does forbid us unjustly persecuting others, this Scripture applies to all His children (John 8:31). Furthermore, our ignorance leads us to honor man above God. If we ignore Scriptural guidance and take the word of man above the Word of God, we are practicing idolatry and there is no excuse but God’s pending judgement of Hell fire for this kind of self-inflicted ignorance.

In addition, the problem of ignorance comes from us becoming followers of man more than of Christ and this is at the centre of divisions within the body (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). Divisions often lead to quarrels and fights and ultimately some people’s faith suffers and they lose their salvation – the costly price Christ died for.

Ignorance is an Infliction of Satan

The devil is also playing a part in our ignorance. The Bible says he blinds our minds so that we ignore the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). When we ignore the gospel we act in disobedience (Ephesians 2:2). Blaming the devil for our overall ignorance is also not correct. As conscious beings, where we can exercise a choice we accept accountability as well. The Lord has provided witnesses against us so that we have no excuse when we are called to give an account (Romans 1:18-21). We have a duty to shun ignorance and seek God (Acts 17:27).

In conclusion, many people are ignorantly following others in wrong doing. It is sinful and dangerous to place your spiritual destiny into the hands of man. We must follow Christ and focus on Him and His work; this secures our arrival in Heaven (Matthew 7:24-27). What I am saying is this: we must not be overwhelmed or intimidated by the knowledge or gifts of a servant of God. The knowledge and the gifts must glorify Christ Jesus and not ourselves or our work for God (John 16:13-15). The true fruit of a servant of God is always seen in love, humility and in glory to Christ, beyond the following of some leader, doctrine or institution. Finally, imposed ignorance is equally sinful and dangerous.

While this might not have been what you expected following last week’s revelations, the Lord told us this message is of equal importance and it will help in your knowledge of Him. Remember, ignorance is not BLISS (Mark 12:24).

Yours in Christ,

Brother Glenn.