Thursday, September 25, 2008

# 261: A Comment Sent to Post # 9

This comment is long and detailed, and too long for the comment section. I felt it would be of interest to many bloggers, so I put it in the main section of this blog. My response is short and to the point.

“robov” has left a new comment on your post # 9: “A Message for Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Assemblies of God, etc."

This is an interesting one. Many speak against the prosperity message and declare that as Christians we should be poor or at least not prosperous or wealthy. After all Jesus was poor and we should be like Him. Yet scripture declares: 2Co 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. Now I've heard it preach, Ahhh, yes, but Paul means spiritually rich. The Greek word Rich here is "plousios" Thayer Definition:

1) wealthy, abounding in material resources 2) metaphorically abounding, abundantly supplied 2a) abounding (rich) in Christian virtues and eternal possessions New American Exhaustive Concordance:plousios; from G4149; wealthy: - people (1), rich (19), rich man (7), rich man’s (1), rich people (1). So the word rich here refers to material wealth as well as in Virtues. The key I believe though is what a person does with that wealth and who they believe it came from. For God clearly declare's in Deu 8:18 "But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. NASB

I believe the downfall according to scripture is the "love of money" as stated in 1Tim 3:3, 1Tim 6:10, 2Tim 3:2, Heb 13:5. Jesus also said in Matthew Chapter 6 Starting in verse 24, Jesus says that you cannot serve two masters. Referring to God and wealth. Then he goes on from verse 25 - 34 telling us not to worry about getting material things such as clothing, food and drink, generally material "STUFF", but rather HE says verse 33."But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

So again the focus should be the Father and His Kingdom and His Righteousness, the result of this being that He will provide all your material needs. So I asked myself one day "What is His Kingdom, how would it look and where would I learn about it." Scripture of course and the teachings of Jesus. "His Righteousness" was easy, for I have no righteousness of my own apart from what's been imputed to me by faith. Jesus is my righteousness. But back to operating the kingdom princles as I am learning to do and seeing results for the first time in my 5 1/2 year Christian walk.

Jesus showed us much, to much to put here so I will choose a few only. Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." NASB or I like this Translation:Give, and you will receive. A large quantity, pressed together, shaken down, and running over will be put into your pocket. The standards you use for others will be applied to you." God's Word.

There's a cause and an effect here. You give, then you receive. Operating in the kingdom priciples is no more diffult than understanding what God said to Noah after the flood: Gen 8:21 The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, "I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. Gen 8:22 "While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease."

Isn't it intersting here also that God said never again will "I" curse the ground. The earth is cursed today because of man. One only needs to look to the destructuon of our environment to know that. But I digress. God said as long as the earth remains it will be seed time and harvest, Sowing and reaping, this does not apply only to planting and harvesting seeds. It is a spiritual principle that applies to every area of our life.

Jesus taught us about the seed and the harvest, Mark chapter 4 in the parable of the sower. He said the sower sows the seed and depending on where it landed determined the harvest that was produced. The seed that fell on the good soil returned up to a hundred fold return. Now the seed Jesus said is the "Word" and the soil He said is our heart. Everything with God is a heart thing, he looks upon our heart. How hard it is He said for the rich to get into the kingdom, why, because their trust is in their riches rather than in the source of the riches. The sower sows the seed(Word), which determines the harvest. Are you sowing word's of life(God's word) over your situation or word's of death(the devil's words) Are you speaking to your mountain and commanding it to get smaller or are you speaking to the mountain and declaring that it is getting bigger. Jesus said that we could have whatever we say and brothers and sisters, most of us are getting exactly what we say, because what we say is what we believe and what we believe is what we say and that is what ends up manifesting in our lives. Romans 4:17 say Faith comes by hearing....... and by hearing the words of Christ. What are you hearing that's building your faith. That we shouldn't be wealthy or prosperous. Abraham was a very wealthy man on the earth in his day and we are joint heirs. We are sons of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Kings sons and daughters are not poor but are entitled to everything their Father has.

I understand your intention here JC, and I believe that your heart is right. There are many out there that are abusing this prosperity principle. But Jesus said that you would know a person by there fruit. If the particular ministry is reaping abundantly, look to see if they are sowing that wealth abundantly. Are they leading many to Jesus. In my own life I do want to be prosperous and if I can become wealthy, it means I can sow into more and more ministries. But I do not expect God to just throw the money on my lap or into my bank account supernaturally. I work hard for it and trust that he will provide greater opportunities for me to gain more. I sow abundantly and reap abuntantly and daily I declare it and speak it out of my mouth. I speak in agreement with what God says. I give and it's given unto me. Everything I set my hand to prospers, no weapon formed against me will proper. I'm learning everyday to sow the Word of God over my life, my children's lives and all those that I'm praying for. If I have lack I call abundance according to the Word. I say my mountain of debt is getting smaller. I'm simply doing the sayings of Jesus and it's working. The Word of God is living and active, Jesus said my Word's are Spirit and they are life. John 6:63God spoke everything in the universe into existence, the invisible into the visible. We are created in His likeness and image and Ephesians 5:1 says we're to be imitators of Him. Start saying what God says about who you are and about your situation not what some Pastor or person says. God told His people they could have whatever the say, but instead we continually say what we have.

Pro 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love to talk will have to eat their own words Deu 30:11 "For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. Deu 30:12 "It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' Deu 30:13 "Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' Deu 30:14 "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.

Deu 30:15 "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; Deu 30:16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. I finish with this, many of us(Christians) have cut ourselves so short of all that Father God's has given us and we do it because we think we're being humble. There's nothing humble about not accepting and receiving all that God has for us. That's called presumption. There's also a vast difference between humility and arrogance, don't get the two confused.

God has given man dominion over the earth and His situations and the power of His living Word, and if you've received Jesus as Lord then you also have the power of His annointing. Nothing should be impossible to you. Love and life in Christ


Dear Rob,

Thanks much for sending us this comment. I know exactly where you are coming from, and why you believe as you do. It was not too long ago that I was in your shoes.

There are several errors in your belief concerning the subject of material wealth and prosperity. The first is this: In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was never promised eternal life, even though it does mention eternity concerning God. Israel was promised the land flowing with milk and honey. Yes, they were promised material wealth and prosperity over and over again. And what did they do with it over and over again? They turned their backs on their Lord and went the way of the nations around them.

Therefore, the Old Testament Scriptures concerning making us wealthy and prosperous for holy and good reasons do not apply to the Church of Christ. Christ came to fulfill the law. Wealth didn’t make them obedient or holy, nor does it do any good for Christ’s Church, except to make modern-day Pharisees. Jesus Christ said, "Blessed are the poor." No where does it say, “Blessed are the rich.”

You see, wealth for good or selfish reasons produces a secret pride in what we have accomplished. And that is the least of the damage it does. It makes us feel secure in our success. We don’t have to rely on God. Money is God’s most formidable enemy. As you know, money speaks louder than Scripture, regardless of how noble and noteworthy one’s intentions may be. That is why Luke said (speaking for Jesus) in Luke 16:15: "What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight." Tell me; what is more highly valued than money? Not even health.

The reason Jesus Christ said the above is this: How can a person have love for God and Godly love for their needy neighbors around the world and still have more than their immediate needs? Authentic love is that demanding. The whole will of God is displayed in these two commands: Love God with all our energies and love your neighbor as yourself. Do this and you will live. Luke 10:27. For that simple reason, your rationale is in serious error.

I could give you dozens of New Testament verses that are in this blog that speak of the damage material prosperity does to people who are honest and sincere "christians." But I won’t do that.

I realize having or desiring wealth/security is one of the strongest human desires. Therefore, I can understand why many churches and individuals, like yourself, have incorporated it into their Christian lives. The only thing is that what Christ offers apart from material wealth is far superior, and more potent, but it must be experienced to be known, which doesn't come cheap.

Think about this: If material wealth was a pillar in the Christian life—as if it isn't—and you were a wealthy Christian and a role model for other Christians, what would those who emulate you seek—holiness and obedience, or wealth? You see, it is not money that people love; it is what they can do and get from it.

Rob, I beg you to reconsider your stance on the benefits of material wealth in the Christian life. I am aware that it is next-to-impossible to do that, but with God’s help, you can do it. The road you are now on is a portrait/recipe for eternal destruction. In this last sentence, I am speaking for Jesus Christ. jc.

Rob, I just read your comment on # 248: “The Knack of Making Sin Acceptable.” What you believe about sin is the most ungodly scenario I have heard to date. You could not pay me to put such ungodly stuff in this blog, because I wouldn’t want any of the Christians who regularly read this blog to know that type of belief actually exists. Do me and yourself a favor; please don’t correspond to this blog any more, unless or until you straighten up your life.

Monday, September 01, 2008

# 260: The Cross

Why is the cross mentioned so often in Scripture, and what are the implications and aspects of the cross for disciples of Jesus Christ?

One aspect concerning the cross, which is not found in the Bible, is that it was Rome’s way of punishing criminals found guilty of a capital crime/s or less serious offenses—like the two robbers crucified alongside Jesus—with a horrific death; a death that was shameful, slow and extremely painful—Hebrews 12:2. "Jesus . . . scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of glory." The reason it was shameful was because the soldiers divided the garments of the one they were crucifying, leaving the condemned person naked—check the gospel of John, 19:23-24. The reason it was slow was because the injuries were on the bodies’ extremities (hands and feet), with no fear of immediate death. There may not have been a more painful death as a form of execution. Another reason for this extremely slow and painful death was Rome’s way of keeping a tight reign/control over the rabble throughout the entire Roman Empire. Most would think twice before breaking Roman law because of the severity of dying on a cross. That may be what we need to keep potential criminals in control, instead of a slap on the hand/wrist, as it were.

Actually, the wooden cross may have been no more than a fairly straight tree trunk, bark and all, without the cross bar. Why would Rome go through the trouble of making extra work for themselves, and use up scarce lumber by placing a cross bar? Another reason for supposing a tree trunk was used is because there are five verses that use the word “tree” instead of the cross. There are three different Biblical authors who used the word “tree” instead of “cross”: Luke—the book of Acts used it three times; Paul, in the book of Galatians; and Peter, in 2nd Peter. Another possible reason why the tree trunk was called a cross was to signify that if anyone in the Roman Empire disobeyed/crossed Roman law, their desires for life would be shortened by placing them on a tree. Repeating, if anyone crossed Roman law, Rome would cross them. Either way, the end result (death) and the slow and excruciating pain was the same.

1) The cross is symbolized in several different ways. One of the main ways is to bring death to our sinful human nature. That death is to be continually activated—the cross—throughout our lives. Since our sinful, animal nature is tremendously strong, we have to continually put it to death. Taking up our cross daily, which is not an actual cross, signifies the death of desires and actions which oppose the ways of God’s Will. Without putting our selfish ways to death every day of our lives, our sinful nature will—with little or no effort—slowly gain control of our lives again, and most often without our knowledge, until we are too far gone into the ways of the world/Satan to regain our faith, love and obedience. Hebrews 6:4-6. "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."

Romans 6:6. "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin . . ."

Romans 6:11-12. “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires."

In Galatians 2:20, Paul blatantly says: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." That verse should be the cry of every born-again Christian.

Galatians 5:24. "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."

Matthew 16:24. "Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’"

Luke 14:27. "And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me daily cannot be my disciple."

Therefore, the cross we must take up daily is not an actual cross we hang around our neck to signify we are somehow affiliated with Christianity, or a cross we hang on the wall, or a picture of a cross, or any other way a cross is displayed. The cross (death of our old self) is to express our diligence in continually paying attention to all our desires and actions so that they conform to the Will of God. To actually believe and live as if our old self has been crucified is not an easy thing to accomplish; but with God’s power, we will continually live for Christ, since we will believe that our sinful nature has been crucified. This concept of carrying our cross daily is one of the most difficult to explain in a way that is understood by all disciples of Christ.

2) 1 Corinthians 1:18. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." That is still true today. This verse seems to indicate that carrying our cross is the power of God working in us. Wow!

3) Then there is the stigma the cross carries or should carry. When our lives conform to the dictations of the New Testament, we no longer will conform to the ways of the world. This type of holy life, in which we continually carry our cross, will be offensive to many, because our changed lives will testify that the way they live is ungodly and sinful.

Galatians 5:11. "Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished"

Galatians 6:12. "Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they are doing this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ."

4) Are we living as enemies of the cross of Christ? We can know that answer by what this next verse indicates: Philippians 3:18-19. "For as I [Paul] have often told you before and now say again with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven." Paul is adamantly saying that the way we live—and not what we say—will tell if we are enemies of the cross.

5) Since many humans love to boast, let us boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 6:14. "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Yes, let us boast in the difficulties of living in a way—the cross—that brings glory to God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

1st Corinthians 2:31. "Therefore, as it is written: Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

6) Do atheists think all Christians are foolish and naive to put our faith in a crucified Jew? Do Jews refuse to believe in a Jew who died on a Roman cross for their sins, so that they may be connected (become one) with the God who created the universe?

1st Corinthians 1:23. "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block for Jews and foolishness to Gentiles . . ."

In conclusion, the aforementioned twelve or so verses used have nothing to do with a physical wooden cross; they are all symbolic/a condition giving the true meaning of the cross. It is only apropos to condense the meaning of the cross with all its complexities and erroneous beliefs into a simple sentence: The cross of Jesus Christ and the cross we are to bare are not trinkets, or even fixtures on church buildings, but are the mainstay and centerpiece of the genuine Christian life.

The apostle Paul puts it this way in 1st Corinthians 2:2. "For I resolved to know nothing while with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."

I will take the time to pray to our God through Jesus Christ for those who adhere to most of the Biblical principles displayed in this blog, and share that good news with someone who might be interested in learning what the complete gospel of Jesus Christ is about—the sour along with the sweet. That sharing will, without a doubt, be good works/fruit that are required of all Christians/disciples of our blessed Savior. Do that and I am certain God through His Holy Spirit will personally bless you in ways you may never have asked for or expected! Amen and amen.