Monday, March 11, 2013

The Money God

A man robs a bank and makes off with 10 million dollars. He is never caught and his family invests the money and generations of his family become wealthy. They call it God’s blessings.
Tens of millions of slaves are transported to America. They play a significant part in America’s growing economy. Later, many white people who benefited from that slave labor directly and indirectly proclaim God’s blessing on their finances.

I’m not seeing much difference. In America, “God’s blessings” are almost always measured in dollars. Donald Trump and Hugh Hefner must be God’s favorites. Somewhere along the line we have made God a divine rich uncle. But God desires to fill our hearts, not our wallets.

Eph.1: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
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:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

The church of Jesus Christ was never meant to acquiesce, much less embrace, the dictates and mores of the culture in which God planted it. But so often the church at large and individual believers as well have lifted up their eyes and seen how the heathen lived and what satisfied them. And after gazing longingly at their lost neighbors they began to acquire a lust for the things that enamored the kingdom of darkness. And instead of fulfilling such needs with the spiritual blessings given to us in Christ the church found their lusts could easily be satisfied by money and material things.

And after a while the word “blessings” always had something to do with money or material things. And when you cement an attachment to God’s blessings with money then you will easily fall into a deep trap. Without even realizing it you can become prosperous by leveraging the fallen culture and call it God’s blessings. That is exactly what has happened to the evangelical community in the west. Anything that positively affects your financial situation must always be God and anything that negatively affects your finances is a cause for prayer asking God to turn it around.

Jude 11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

These are very serious and even dire warnings. Could it be possible that millions of professing believers have believed in God’s hand and not on God’s Son? The church has brought God the sacrifices of Cain which are the fruit of our hands. Larger buildings and larger numbers and more activities are what the evangelical church believes God will accept. We have great organizations and well orchestrated events and even our gatherings have been well thought out from parking to taking offerings. Our churches are corporations and are constructed to mirror the world in most things.

And we measure the church’s spirituality by numbers and offerings. The larger the church gets, and the greater the offerings, the preacher’s salary gets larger and the requirements for a new pastor can now be elevated. When a church reaches a certain numerical level they usually require any candidate for pastor to have a “Dr.” precede his name. It is run and evaluated just like a secular corporation.

And when the structure and practice is designed according to worldly principles then it isn’t long before the Spirit no longer works within the structure. Even though there may be much activity, a growing congregation, and a wonderful building complex, and in general a thriving ecclesiastical unit, in spiritual terms it is a place of compromise and even death. And let us just take two practices and see if they are according to the Spirit or if they have been adjusted to conform to the habits of a western culture.

The church does not observe any days or feasts. We live in the Spirit and not in the “beggarly elements” of the law. But there are two and only two observances taught in the New Testament. They are communion and baptism. Baptism should occur when a sinner believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ and is born again. He then is commanded to be baptized in order to make public his profession of faith. In some cultures that may cost you dearly, however in our culture it is so meaningless that even a fallen culture accepts it as a religious event that is mostly a talisman. It occurs conveniently at the end of a service or at the night service, but somewhere where it does not significantly interfere with the overall timetable.

Pictures can be taken, and many families enjoy a get together of cold cuts and a general atmosphere of celebration. Every person baptized gets a certificate which is proof of that event, and that baptism also is a necessary component to being a “church member” which is another element of being like a secular club. Being an official church member has been gleaned from the culture and is primarily so a person can vote in church business meetings. Voting and church business meetings are also another way that the church has been constructed according to the culture. And baptism is the door to it all. Some churches have even spent much money to have a wonderful place to baptize which looks like a lovely pond surrounded by green foliage and is accommodating for pictures.

Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, was instituted by our Lord at the last Passover observance. It is spiritually important and is a time for repentance and remembrance. In fact Paul deals extensively with the Corinthian church over how they were observing communion. It seems they were conveniently incorporating it into their church picnics. Yes, the early church ate together regularly. But in Corinth they would get hungry and so instead of waiting for everyone to arrive they would begin eating and consider that communion as well. Even back then they began to treat the gathering in terms of convenience and without the sacred aspect it deserved. How much more today?
Communion has been shoehorned into a tight schedule and observed with the utmost efficiency and with a breathtaking redundancy. Rarely, if ever, does it consume an entire gathering. And it is served to the entire mixed multitude without question, and after a person is baptized he is allowed to participate, which usually requires little more than eating and drinking when a prayer ends and everyone else does it. And it is an incredible show of compartmentalization to see how quickly the mood and direction can change after the communion is over. We even have a table for the event. And if done correctly it does not extend the service significantly and all is well with the world.

Rev.2: 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

This admonition was not written to an apostate church. It was written to a church which could not abide heretics in their midst. This was a church that would have rejected Rob Bell or Rick Warren or Joel Osteen. They did labor for Christ; they did have a missions program; they did see people saved; they did observe communion and baptism; they did believe God’s Word. But the Spirit said they had left their first love. Wow, what an indictment from God.

You would have thought that since they did serve God in those areas that the Lord would have cut them some slack. But God is not interested in redundant ecclesiastical constructs even though they might serve God in some ways. God seeks our hearts, and too often local churches have an organization which serves the people well but they have lost the passion and deep spiritual love for Jesus. And money, personal success, and the material world in general have become lynchpins for how we love and praise Christ.

But the Laodicean church in Revelation chapter three were lukewarm toward God but very focused about the material world. They claimed to be “blessed” and all their needs were met, however they were poor toward God. The American evangelical church uses the word “blessed” as well. “We have been so blessed here in America” is a well word mantra in the church. And what is meant by that can be defined it terms of money and material goods. When people say America is the “greatest country in the world” they mean materially and militarily. And yet God said the Laodicean church was poor and wretched and blind, even in the midst of their prosperity. They had earthly gold, but nor the gold of knowing and serving Christ.

I do wonder, though, since we have become so entrenched and so integrated within a dark and fallen culture, only a mighty move of God could ever break our spiritual inertia.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Pastor Rick for this reminder - modern 'christians' have simply placed a JESUS sign outside the tents of Satan. The examples you provided are great, but I believe the problem is much greater than that. Many Christians are building careers for themselves in companies / industries / organizations that oppose Biblical principles. Products, services, even corporate culture - just keep quiet about the reality, and say 'I glorify God through my job'. Well, God is not mocked - recessions, depressions, economic slump, GFC, etc are brought on by human greed and hypocrisy. Has anyone noticed that places with extreme poverty also have pockets of extreme wealth??? What about the fact that in places where you can get 'everything', and 'very cheap', you also see alot of beggars, homeless alcoholics and drug addicts??? God is very good in that sense - when a society disobeys Him, He provides signs and symptoms to draw us back to Himself. As you state, only a mighty move of God could ever break our inertia - I begin to fear that mighty move is called the great tribulation. God help us please.

Jamie Morgan said...

For quite a few years now the Spirit has really been bringing this to light in my soul.It started with short term mission trips to a poor deaf school in Jamacia and then to the jungles of Peru.The continment the poor in these other countries have was so overwhelming that I was lead to many passages of scripture that opened my eyes to the the truth but trying to relay that to others here in America is met with much oposition.You can not serve both God and mammon.Thanks brother Rick I love reading your blogs from a brother in Christ.

Anonymous said...

When self-professed christians say that the church needs to penetrate the secular establishments, government, education, sports and Hollywood and entertainment, and when few christians speak out about this, it shows that we have been brainwashed.

To be fair, yes, individuals in these 'dominions' can be reached by a colleague, teacher, mentor, friend, or a stranger next to them on a train, plane, but the idea that the whole icon, like Hollywood, or the sports industry, must be changed corporately as a "christian" corporation, is foolishness. These industries work for one thing only. To make lots and lots of money. And even if every individual in these industries all became convicted by the Lord together, and were all baptized and repentant, would they continue in their jobs? Would they still be working in an industry that gives out multi-million-dollar contracts to those with the most beautiful bodies, faces, athletic fitness? Could they still work in an industry that glorifies man's beauty, and demeans women by exposing as much skin as possible. Would it change the attitude in these women actresses, writers, agents, producers not to go out and rearrange their faces with pout trout lips and silicone implants and facelifts? Would they finally be satisfied with the faces that God gave them and would they grow old gracefully? Or would they still rebel against what is natural? I think this new brand of church warfare doesn't want to "change" Hollywood or any other mountain. They want it to stay exactly where it is, raking in the sinful amounts of money it makes off the backs of fantasy-lovers. The church just wants to have a piece in that investment. It doesn't care if the 'mountain' changes it's wicked ways in the profit-making department, in fact the church WANTS Hollywood to continue increasing, because the church is NOT interested in people's souls; it wants their blessings. It wants to steal the blessings and riches and opportunities of the heathen for itself. It wants the spoils of war for itself.

If christian leaders could convert whole industries, like for instance, banks, wall street and convict them and teach them the gospels, would these people leave in droves? Or would pastors soothe them with soothing words and tell them it's OK to sell money that instantly multiplies or divides off the backs of a newly-closed manufacturing plant, where families are laid off in the middle of winter. If really convicted, they would no doubt leave. But the element in today's church doesn't want these people to 'leave' their places. They want them to continue working in these humanistic trades so the profits will still roll in and the clergy can benefit from all those juicy tithing profits.

Instead of the church warning people against this sinful and greedy world, it's falsely teaching it can 'save' the industry, take it by force, convert it and be blessed by it.

We are seeing last days' scenarios play out right in front of us, and it's that unsaved portion of the church who are not living like John The Baptist, who came in with rags and eating grasshoppers saying, "Prepare ye the way" for the Lord, but they are coming in disguised as wolves in sheep's clothing, saying, "trust us to let US prepare the way for YOU" or "we will take what the Lord wants to entrust to us from sinners and turn it into something beautiful" or "prepare to be rich beyond your wildest dreams".

michael said...

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord. (Psalms 10:1-3 ESV)

This phenomenon is nothing new. As you can read there from the tenth Psalm the wicked whose god is mammon hotly pursue the poor renouncing the LORD! As you can also read there isnt a good result at the end of the day for such ungodliness!

This scheme shows up every day in the marketplace, through the media and it grips the fallen nature of the heart and mind of the naive!

In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, "There is no God." His ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of his sight; as for all his foes, he puffs at them. He says in his heart, "I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity." (Psalms 10:4-6 ESV)

This sort of message you write about, if it takes root in the heart and soul of the local gatherings of true believers, it will cause adverse responses by the wicked marketers and merchants! They have no other recourse seeing their god is money and not Christ Jesus The Lord!

His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless; he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net. The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might. He says in his heart, "God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it." (Psalms 10:7-11 ESV)

This scenario is played out thousands of times a day in strategy meetings in boardrooms these days as the paid analysts feed the weekly tallies to these greedy merchants that reflect the bottom line. When they see adverse results they go looking for answers and then they go about attacking and destroying the adverse cause for their declining profits. They come up with the newest scheme, the catchy pitch that tickles the ear and deceives yet again with another vain promise. So goes this vicious cycle of marketing deceits. This is the way of the worldly and the wicked. It will not cease until the LORD brings it to its bitter end!

As you take in the totality of the broad picture of Psalm 10 and see both the utter despair the wicked work upon the fatherless and poor, the unfortunate and misled, you can gain insights into the sore consequence of the judgment that awaits them, the unrighteous, whose heart and mind have put out of their conscience the reality of their deeds by taking advantage of the naive who are ensnared by their evil practice through false advertising and misleading pitches that make promises that are empty all the while God's PROMISES are sure and yield their results to the satisfying of one's soul when believed and clinged to! Here's the end of the matter from Psalm 10: The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalms 10:16-18 ESV)

Anonymous said...

We don’t have a church building and my wife and me have never owned our own home. At the group home where we have a Sunday service one of the fellows asked my wife what church sent us to their place, what church we were affiliated with and who paid our way? My wife replied that it was God who sent us, it was God who takes care of our needs and this is the church that belongs to Jesus, right here in this group home.

michael said...

"They want them to continue working in these humanistic trades so the profits will still roll in and the clergy can benefit from all those juicy tithing profits. "

When I read that I thought of the humorous story, sad, but captures the essence of what you wrote.

A Wall St. Banker went sailing with a friend off the Carribean Islands and they suffered shipwreck! They made it to the shores of a lone deserted island. As they settled in for what may be a long wait before being rescued the friend noticed the banker wasn't bothered by the loss of the yacht or their circumstances fearing they might never be found.

He asked the banker why he had such calm? Well, the banker said, knowing how much my pastor loves the money, I suppose because I'm his biggest tither, when he finds out we're missing from a weekend sailing adventure he'll move upon heaven and activate all on earth to find us! He won't sleep until he does!!