Friday, March 12, 2010

"STUPID" PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH
...and how not to be one

"Is God Short of Cash?"
I was on a famous Christian TV show several years ago before their demise. During a 'commercial' break, the host of the program told me if I would give $100 to his ministry the Lord would give me back $1,000... I asked him politely, "Sir, where does it say foolish written on me?" He was a bit shocked and asked me, "don't you believe that the Lord will bless you by giving your money to our ministry?" I told him, "No I don't." And that furthermore he didn't even believe such a thing. He was again a bit surprised by my response and said, "Yes I do." I answered, "No, you don't." He said, "YES, I do." I said, "NO... you don't." With a puzzled look on his face he frustratingly said, "Why do you keep telling me that I don't believe this?" I said, "Simple. If you really believe this, then why don't you give your $100 to God, He'll give you a $1,000 back, and you'll quite asking me for mine?" He looked at me with that dumbfounded kind of quasi pseudo-theological televangelist deer in the headlights don't bother me with doctrine look, and replied, "I never thought of that before." I quietly muttered, "I think that's the problem."

That encounter illustrates the picture perfectly, doesn't it? Some people in the body of Christ feel that the Lord will actually grant others prosperity if they give to their "ministries." This has sadly left many in the dust of dashed hopes. Naive believers have actually trusted these glory boys in their false and fallacious claims about increasing their mutual funds by Divine Design. They view God as some sort of "Celestial Monty Hall" granting them door #1, door #2, or door #3 to satisfy their fancy and material cravings as long as they have enough faith. This is so foolish and should not tolerated in the church.

Questions: What does the Bible say about prosperity; and if you are experiencing tough times financially does that mean you are out of the will of God?

Answers: Second part first... of course not. The Lord is sovereign working all things for our good and His glory. Even Paul considers himself in his service to the Lord, "...as having nothing, yet possessing all things" (2 Cor. 6:10b). As learning "to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry; both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:12-13).

The absence of money or wealth beloved is not the barometer by which we measure someone's spiritual richness. The Apostle Paul gives us profound insight when he says in 1 Timothy 6:5, "and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of [financial] gain." Sound familiar?

Turn on most TBN shows or Christian TV broadcasts and that's precisely what you'll see... men and women "huckstering the Word of God for profit" (cp, 2 Cor. 2:17).

What is the N.T. formula for "success" or "prosperity?" Paul gives us the clear biblical answer in 1 Timothy 6:6, "...godliness, plus contentment is great gain." Are you living a godly life in accordance with the Word of God; are you content with what you have from the Lord--not seeking more or complaining of less? Then the Lord calls that, "great gain."

If you have nothing... don't be bitter; if you have great wealth... don't be prideful. Give to the Lord by faithfully giving your offerings first to the local church and secondly to biblical, credible ministries. Then ask yourself one question before you send another "love gift" to TBN or a TBN-like network: Is God really short of cash?

Remember, thinking can be beneficial for your spiritual health. Mind your faith.


this has been an encore presentation

29 comments:

Matthew2323 said...

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3

Bretheren, meditate on His Word!

donsands said...

As a young babe in Christ, back in the mid '80's, I was sending $ to these T. V. false teachers; Jimmy Swaggert, Kenneth Copeland, and so on.
Man, what a fool I was. My heart was finally enlightened by the grace of God through brothers like you.
Thanks for sharing this. Keep on.

Cedric said...

Great post! Those "proseprity" teachers are an embarassment to the Christian faith. If anyone is interested, I wrote an article a while back on the Copeland's and their prosperity gospel. Also, here is a list of Scriptures about discernment and false teachers.

Andrew Wheatley said...

Steve - I think you mean fallacious, not felacious. 'felacious' is not a word according to dictionary.com

SJ Camp said...

Andrew... thank you. Now I know how a liberal feels :-). They're just making things up as they go along!

The word is now spelled correctly... This is what I love about you all--nothing escapes your attention!

El Campo

MARK JOHNSTON said...

I'm sure the look he gave you was priceless. Here is the million dollar question for you steve-- Were you ever invited back on the program? I think I know the answer to this question.

Mike Ratliff said...

I would hate to be one of these "hucksters" when they stand before the Lord at the Judgement Seat. Oh, wait a minute, they may be flat on their faces before the God at the Great White Throne Judgment instead.

Sorry, I couldn't resist. :)

When are "Christians" going to learn that the message the Church must proclaim to the world is the Gospel alone.

littlegal_66 said...

Mark--

You wrote, "priceless" and "the million dollar question"......two references to money.....was that a clever play on words on your part? ;-)

-littlegal

vegemitechristian said...

Wonderful & edifying post.
But you know, it's got me thinking now: we've got a responsibility to our brothers and sisters in the Lord who get into such things as prosperity doctrine, and ministries who fleece them etc.

I look back on when I became a christian at 16. The local (only) christian book shop was wonderful - they had like a lounge you could sit down for as long as you liked, have a coffee etc. and they had a shelf of videos you could watch for free. So, I'd put on whatever they had of course! From memory, a lot of them were the kinds of people we're all talking about (not that I can remember anything particularly bad being taught). I guess I'm reflecting that although I didn't really go down that path, perhaps I could have, you know?

I'm just reminding myself I guess, that when I might come across others who are totally into preacher "so and so" - the best thing might not be to launch right into an attack! I'm only going to get them off side! Better, I suppose, to just ask some questions, and offer some videos/books of some good guys.

vegemitechristian said...

Money is a big topic, hey? I never realised how much the bible speaks relating to material possessions etc. Last year, I read "The Law of Rewards", wonderful little book by Randy Alcorn. In it, he mentioned several times, "The theology of money" or somesuch, which has just been revised and reprinted as, "Rich in every way" by Gene Getz (subtitled, "everything God says about money and possessions"). Okay, I've only read the first chapter (which I see you can also read free at amazon), but it looks to be a good one, and I look forward to getting into it properly, hopefully this weekend.

I guess the key is being "faithful" with what we have. Even the person in debt can be faithful with money if they want to be: pay what's owing, even if it's the minimum etc., be generous and wise with the rest etc.

Anyway.....some out there interested in the topic might like to pursue these books. I have also found it helpful to read through a series of John McArthur sermons, "who'se money is it anyway" http://www.biblebb.com/mac-h-z.htm and John Piper has been helpful as well.

4given said...

You're quite clever and funny. Stupid me. I must be out of the loop. (Perhaps it is homeschooling 6 children that takes me out of the loop. ha.) Blogging is new for me. I did not realize you were reformed. i do enjoy your music.
I tend to be highly opiniated in my blog, but people seem to e-mail me and not leave comments on my post... some of these e-mails are sadly stupid... scripturally ignorant.

4given said...

Oh. When I wrote "stupid me"... I did not refer to myself as stupid in the church or scripturaly stupid... by the grace of God... though I know I have much to learn. I was merely pointing to my ignorance of not knowing you were reformed.

Alex said...

4given,

Don't worry i'm pretty sure steve
will 4give you.

Alex said...

Oh, by the way great read steve
keep it coming.

Breuss Wane said...

Yea! Steve finally blogged something.

Next time a televangelist tells you that, you ask him for the same. Tell him you'll give him $100 if he'll give you $100. First one to $1000 is "blessed of God". :-)

Jeremy Weaver said...

Go Campi! I would never think to say something that clever. I I would probably pronounce an anathema on him and turn him over to Satan!
That's how redneck Calvinists do it, I think.

Joel said...

Note: this isn't meant to be inflammatory. Honest.

I have to say I see a strong parallel between the "prosperity gospel" and the attitude of the early Calvinists toward wealth. The idea sems to have been that prosperity was a sign that God had favored you and you were probably one of thhe elect. You don't hear much about that today except for the occasional reference to the "Puritan work ethic," but much of the economic structure Protestant/northern European culture derives from it. The only Calvinist writer in modern times I've seen mention it was Lorraine Boettner.

SJ Camp said...

4Given:

Home-schooling six children? WOW! That is a busy and full day. Welcome to COT. May the Lord continue to bless your tireless effort with your children...

Grace and peace,
Steve
Col. 1:9-14

pgepps said...

I say it lightly, but not insincerely: If you have to put scare-quotes on "stupid," you probably know better than to use it--listen to yourself!

Your point is well-taken, and I join you in your low opinion of the hucksters and con men that love to be called "Christian teachers" by the unbelieving world.

I do disagree with one point in your post. You say we should give first to the local church, then to credible Christian ministries.

I think we need to be still more careful not to divert funds from God's work. I would suggest we give to the local church, then urge the local church to expand its ministries and support other churches in expanding theirs (including church planting), and thus defund the institutions which compete with the church for Christian namespace, attention, and money in the world.

When our local churches are using all we can give--then we should pray for more. If we can give more than our local churches can give--then our local churches should be doing more with it.

Diverting funds away from the local church just builds up the competition--and churches (in worldly terms) are hard-pressed enough without their own members robbing them.

Cheers,
PGE

4given said...

Busy homeschooling 6, yes, vacation is now over. We took a week off and I explored the blog realm and actually found material on your site and others that I will be sharing with my older boys. Appreciate your diligence.

4given said...

By the way PYRO teammate James Spurgeon is looking for you...

Elizabeth Davis said...

Well said.

The Seeking Disciple said...

Good post that I agree with you on. Thanks brother.

Kurt Michaelson said...

Great post!

I was once guilty of believing that it was biblical to give so that it would be given unto me, mostly because that is what the pastor was teaching and still teaches to this day. Thankfully, I no longer attend that church.

It is sad that the people of TBN think that it is necessary for them to receive money, from the audience and viewers, in order for God to do something.

They are nothing but thieves.

JJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JJ said...

The next thing you'll try to tell me is that Benny Hinn is a huckster, just out after money and, umm, rendezvous. Certainly not, according to Benny Hinn.

This whole "seed faith" understanding of giving has been in every televangelist and Word of Faith and semi-charismatic movement that I have seen since 1960. When will the American "churched" populace stop tuning into this garbage and start reading their Bibles?

Steve, you gave us (in one short blog) the foundation of what it means to be faithful with our money. And why the prosperity messages fall short. Godliness is actually a means of great gain, with contentment.

The sad truth is that we people wouldn't keep being duped if we were just more content with Christ.

All For His Glory said...

Thanks Steve for this enlightening article. I found it very "freeing" as well. How we as Christians tend to make "living" as a Christian so much harder than it really is. I appreciate you simplifying it for us.

Debra said...

Thanks for this!

Glad to see I am not the only one out there that thinks the prosperity Gospel is crap or that grabbing congregation members by the ankles and shaking them down is NOT a good Christian way of supporting a ministry.

Loretta Benedict said...

Congrats My Dear! I know how much goes into that! My Christian tv has 'favorited' your Christian tv (that would be the soon to be not-so-dormant Kindred Kollections!)Christian tv