NO ROOM FOR OUR PET DOCTRINES:
As you read this article today, I prayerfully ask that you would set aside any pet doctrines you may have in this area – either for or against, and just consider God’s word. My desire, as I believe yours is, is to walk in the full counsel and truth of God’s word, I desire to rightly divide the word of truth, understand it, and walk completely in it.
THE BABY AND THE BATH WATER:
When we see abuse or extremes in the church, many times our first response, is to turn and run all out in the opposite direction. I think we have all been guilty of this at some point in our lives. But, we must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, ie. We mustn’t abandon the pure truths of God’s word because someone mixed them with error, excess or manipulated God’s word for their own personal gain.
What Does God’s Word Have To Say?
THE SAME HOLY SPIRIT: (II Timothy 3:16)
If all scripture is inspired by God, then the same God who inspired the words in Deuteronomy 8:18 – but thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is He who gives us the power to create wealth, that He may establish His covenant… also inspired Jesus to speak what we find written in Matthew 19:23 – it is hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God,…. but with God all things are possible.
When we do a general overview of the Old and New Testaments we see quite a difference in the message on this topic. I used to find this confusing until one day when God gave me great understanding and showed me His purpose in this.
OLD TESTAMENT PROMISES & PROSPERITY
To be completely honest with you, I cannot read through the Old Testament including the Prophets, Psalms, and Proverbs without coming across numerous accounts of God’s promises to His people. If God’s people would obey Him, they had the promise of blessing, prosperity, success, and victory, this is very consistent throughout the Old Testament. But, if they disobeyed and rebelled, typically the result was a curse, famine, sickness, invasion by their enemies, early death etc. You will find examples of this throughout the Old Testament as well.
NEW TESTAMENT WARNINGS
However, when I move into the New Testament, I find mostly warnings about wealth and a few promises. In the parable of the sower in Mark 4:19 we see a warning about the deceitfulness of riches and how they choke out the word and make us unfruitful. I Timothy 6:9 warns those who desire to be rich, that they will fall into many temptations. And I Timothy 6:10 warns that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and those eager to get rich would wander from the faith and pierce themselves with many sorrows.
PROMISES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
I do think it important to bring out a few of the promises in the New Testament. Many who followed Jesus left everything they had. Peter said, Lord we’ve left everything to follow you! But, we do see that Jesus made a promise in Mark 10: 29-30 for those who sacrificed all, a promise for a 100 fold return in this life and in the life to come eternal life. We see another instance in III John 2 which is more of a prayer than a promise for prosperity. For the most part, if we will be honest, we see mostly warnings in the New Testament about riches and wealth. Why is this?
SO WHAT IS OUR CONCLUSION?
Are the Old Testament Promises for His people today or should we disregard them because of all the warnings we see in the New Testament. Why do the two Testaments seem so different on this issue? Are they really different, or is there something deeper being dealt with here?
JESUS COMES TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUES & IDOLS OF THE HEART!
When Jesus came, He did not come to do away with the Promises in the Old Testament, for Heaven and earth will pass away, but His word will never pass away. Nor, did He need to teach the Jews about the blessings of obedience or the curse of disobedience and rebellion. They knew this teaching all too well, they had learned it from early childhood. But, Jesus did come to confront and deal with the issues and idols of the heart. I love that about Jesus, He always went straight for the heart!
BALANCE & THE FULL COUNSEL OF GOD’S WORD
If we will embrace the full counsel of God’s Word and not just our favorite scriptures, God will keep us in balance, and our hearts right. His Word washes and cleanses us. The Old and New Testament scriptures we mentioned today do not contradict each other but rather compliment and bring balance to one another. This is the beauty of God’s Word. It keeps us on the straight and narrow path that leads to life.
GOD WANTS OUR HEARTS AND AFFECTIONS SET ON HIM!
God wants all of us, not just a part. He wants us chasing after His heart and not just His hand! Colossians 3:2 admonishes us to set our affections upon those things which are above, not things of the earth. God wants us to be spiritually minded which is life. He wants us to fix our eyes on Christ.
CONCLUSION: SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD
I believe Matthew 6:32-33 communicates so well what our focus and priorities should be as His people. God does not want us chasing after and worrying about all the things the world does, He wants us to seek first His Kingdom and righteousness, then He promises that everything we have need of will be added to us. We should keep this truth close to our heart so we do not get pulled into the world and its ways and patterns.
I want to close by making a few comments regarding the prosperity message. I pray this will help bring understanding and balance.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY of the Prosperity Message:
When parts of the prosperity message are preached and taught in balance and in context it can have a great affect and influence.
1. PUTTING OUR HOPE IN GOD:
It can cause people to look to God as their provider and source, encouraging them to put their trust in God rather than man or money.
2. BUILDING THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND ESTABLISHING HIS COVENANT:
When people with a pure heart motivation to give towards the gospel, apply God’s word regarding prosperity in their lives, it. can have great impact. God responds to faith and acting on His word and this results in us being able to give more generously to advance the purposes of God in the earth, to give to missions, feed and care for the poor. Care for our families and the elderly, give to organizations who are taking a stand for righteousness in our land – this is all a very good thing. So this prosperity has purpose and is not to feed our pride or the lusts of the flesh, but to build the kingdom of God.
When not in balance this message can really draw people’s hearts away from the things of God and more into chasing after things, materialism and worldliness. They get there eyes on the blessings rather than God. It becomes deceptive and dangerous, and more self serving than God serving. When out of balance, there is no teaching on surrender, dying to self and taking up our cross, but instead hearts can become filled with the pride of life.
I think the saddest, and I will label the ugliest of all is when God merely becomes the means to an end. The relationship is so cheapened that God is no longer God, but becomes nothing more than a slot machine and someone we go to when we want something. The person is no longer a yielded servant of God but rather sees God as His servant.
IT'S TIME TO EMBRACE THE FULL COUNSEL OF GOD'S WORD
It is time for the Church to embrace all of God's word, we must set aside our pet doctrines and be willing to embrace correction. God wants His Church to be glorious in the earth and that will only happen when we walk in the light of His counsel and words.
But, Seek First the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and everything you have need of will be added to you. Matthew 6:33