.What is the tithe?
.Can’t serve God and money
.The old hospital
.New Testament giving
.Epicureans n Stoics
.Harvest of money?
PAST POSTS [verses below]-
. THALES AND THE PRE-SOCRATICS
Ok- let me do a little teaching- maybe finish it tonight.
Christianity is not simply ‘made up stories’ from some bible.
No- the history of Western Thought- Philosophy- ideas- all of the various World Views are imbedded with God- our concepts of God- and ask the ultimate question ‘where did all this come from- and why are we here’.
We usually trace the beginning of Ancient Philosophy to the 6th century BCE.
A thinker by the name of Thales sought to find ways to describe natural phenomena without the use of Greek Mythology.
Even though Philosophy deals with Metaphysics [things beyond the natural- physical realm- Physics] yet Thales wanted to find explanations for existence- without leaning on Myth.
He is considered a ‘Pre Socratic’ thinker [before Socrates] and espoused an idea that water was the key source of all things.
These guys were looking for a singular thing to explain stuff.
Sometimes referred to as a unified theory- the same thing that Einstein was seeking to find some 2 Millennia later.
So- Thales surmised that water was the key thing.
There are various ideas of why he came to this conclusion- but one reason might have been the idea of motion.
Many Geek thinkers were looking for the source of motion- where did it come from?
And to the natural eye- if you observe the ocean- rivers- etc. - there does seem to be no cause for the moving of water- so to these guys it seemed like water itself was the source- motion came from water.
Now- there were other religions who taught a sort of idea along these lines.
Some pagan religions said that the ‘god’s’ moved upon the water- and life came that way.
If you read the Christian account of creation in Genesis- you will notice that God did move upon the waters- and the account in Genesis does indeed say that he brought forth life from the water.
Thales came from for Miletus- in Asia Minor.
He was famous for the prediction of a Solar Eclipse that occurred on May 28th- 585 BCE.
The earliest account of this is found in the writings of Herodotus.
Thales is considered one of the 7 sages of the time.
Christianity was born at a time where Greek thought/ideas were a big part of society.
We do find the early apostles using the language/ideas of the Greek philosophers when describing the reality of Christ.
The apostle John refers to Christ as THE LOGOS- The word Logos- is a Greek word for ‘word’.
Jesus is called ‘the word of God’.
Now- the Greek thinkers were in fact seeking for the Logos- they used this term to describe the ultimate answer to all tings.
They were on a search for some Divine principle that could explain things.
So- the writers of the New Testament were in a way saying ‘look- we have found the Logos- the thing that you guys are looking for- it is Christ- the Divine Logos’.
We also see the apostle Paul debating with the Greek thinkers in the city of Athens [the seat of Geek philosophy- the city/state where Socrates was forced to drink cyanide].
In Acts chapter 17 he is preaching to these guys on Mar’s Hill- he says ‘In him we live AND MOVE and have our being’.
Now- today as we read this- we don’t get the full import of what he was doing.
But- to the Greek mind- the source of motion was a big thing.
Paul was a smart guy- and he was saying ‘in him we move’ showing that yes- the ‘source of motion’ [Thales water] is not found in the natural world [Physics] but the source comes from the Metaphysical world [God].
He also says ‘when I was walking thru your town- I saw one of your altars- to the unknown god’.
At the time many believed in a Pantheon of gods- and to cover their bases- they had an altar for any god they might have missed- smart thinking!
So Paul says ‘him I declare unto you’.
Notice how Paul was able to debate- converse with them- and at the end actually use their own ideas- to present the gospel.
In this chapter- Acts 17- we read of the only 2 groups of philosophers mentioned in the bible.
The Epicureans and the Stoics.
The Epicureans were an early form of what we call Hedonism today- the idea that pleasure is the principle purpose of man.
The Stoics believed in ‘stoicism’ that man should have no emotional response to pain or pleasure- that’s why we call people today ‘Stoics’- when they seem to not be moved by anything.
Ok- that’s it for now- might make some comments tonight- but I’m getting ready to fly out soon- and trying to wind down before I leave.
If I don’t write tonight- I’ll talk again when in North Bergen- God bless you all.
1Corinthians 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
1Corinthians 1:20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
1Corinthians 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
1Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
[parts of a book I wrote a while back]
'HOUSE OF PRAYER, OR DEN OF THIEVES'
a critical look at the modern prosperity gospel.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 ‘YOU CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON’
CHAPTER 2 ‘TWISTING THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER’
CHAPTER 3 ‘WHAT IS THE ABRAHAMIC BLESSING ?’
CHAPTER 4 ‘WHAT DID JAMES SAY ?’
CHAPTER 5 ‘WHOSE MINISTRY, JESUS OR OURS ?’
CHAPTER 6 ‘1 TIMOTHY 6’
CHAPTER 7 ‘WERE JESUS AND THE DISCIPLES RICH ?’
CHAPTER 8 ‘COVENANT THEOLOGY’
CHAPTER 9 ‘SOWING INTO GOOD SOIL’
CHAPTER 10 ‘IS THERE HOPE FOR FALSE PROPHETS ?’
It all started a few years back when I was regularly listening to certain ministries who taught the prosperity gospel. Over the years I subscribed to a few of these ministry magazines and truly enjoyed their teaching, but every now and then while reading through the bible I would come across certain passages of scripture that seemed to contradict the themes of the prosperity movement. I also found it strange the way they interpreted certain passages of scripture, it was almost as if when they were done explaining them, that these passages meant the exact opposite of what they were plainly teaching.
During this season of learning, while the Lord was dealing with me about these various doctrines, I would find myself at times saying 'something needs to be done about the extreme teaching coming from this camp'. I would also deal with some of the unbalanced teaching through the small avenues of influence I had through a local radio program and various speaking opportunities. I would even go through stages where I was so upset over some of the more extreme elements of this teaching, that I would avoid dealing with it at all because of the emotional baggage that comes with having to disagree with a brother in Christ.
Then why write this book? Each time I would determine to drop the whole matter and never deal with this issue again, something would happen, or be said on Christian television or radio, or be written in a new book, that was so off base that I would ask the Lord again if He wanted me to do more in bringing about a more balanced view of biblical prosperity. The most recent incident was while watching Christian TV one night, the preacher who was speaking is a well-known prosperity preacher. Before he preached he invited another prosperity preacher to share a 'special' revelatory word the Lord had given him, as the preacher came to the pulpit he began to lead the people in a series of confessions/actions that he told the audience to imitate in order for them to experience breakthrough in their finances. As he stood on the stage he then went through the motions of pulling down an imaginary lever on a slot machine while confessing in a very loud voice the words 'MONEY COMING'. He did this three times while the audience followed. When they got to the last shout, the preacher emphasized the importance of this last shout, and as he led them in the pulling down of the lever they all shouted at the top of their lungs 'MONEY COMING TO ME'
Well to say the least this was another one of those 'incidents' that caused me to ask the Lord if I should do more about such obvious abuse in the church. A few days later, while driving to work one morning, I remembered this incident and asked the Lord if he wanted me to write a book on this subject. Later on in the day during a lunch break, while reading through the bible during a regular devotional time, I just happened to be reading through the book of revelation, and when I came to revelation 1:19 where Jesus tells John to 'write the things which thou hast seen', it hit me like a ton of bricks. So here I am today, believing that this book will serve a definite purpose in the Body of Christ and cause us to return to a more balanced view of the 'things of this world'.
CHAPTER 1 'YOU CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON'
It has been said that the best way to spot a counterfeit is to know the real. So let’s begin with a biblical look at true prosperity. In the past, while trying to deal with this subject, I would often find people responding in defense of the prosperity gospel by saying things like 'oh, but you don't know how good the Lord is' or 'you don't know how much God wants to meet our needs' or, 'the bible doesn’t say money is evil, but the love of money'. To which I would reply 'AMEN', I agree with you. But the bible also gives us many warnings against materialism, seeking to be rich, and living for material things.
So while trying to deal with the false prosperity gospel, I would like first of all to establish the truth that God is good, he does want to meet our needs and give us the desires of our heart, and yes, he even wants to bless us financially and materially. God promises not only 'heavenly' or 'spiritual' blessings, but also earthly or material blessings as well. If you go through the bible from Genesis to Revelation you will find instances of Gods people being rich, prosperous and blessed in every way. You will find many promises of Gods provisions for us, not only spiritual but also financial and material. There is no doubt that God can, and does bless His children in all areas of life if they are obedient to Him.
We also know that there are many warnings in the N.T. against seeking to be rich, living for material wealth, and the like. So how do we harmonize these two truths?
Let’s look at the overall purpose of God for his church. We are commissioned by Jesus to tell the whole world about His love for us, so we can make disciples of all nations. The message from our lips, [and hearts] is to overflow with who Jesus is and what He’s done for us. As a matter of fact, Jesus tells us that as we proclaim and talk about Him, and seek first His kingdom, that He will take care of all the other less important things. MATHEW 6:19-24 ' LAY NOT UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES UPON EARTH, WHERE MOTH AND RUST DOTH CORRUPT, AND WHERE THIEVES BREAK THROUGH AND STEAL: BUT LAY UP FOR YOURSELVES TREASURES IN HEAVEN, WHERE NIETHER MOTH NOR RUST DOTH CORRUPT, AND WHERE THIEVES DO NOT BREAK THROUGH AND STEAL: FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS THERE WILL YOUR HEART BE ALSO........ NO MAN CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS: FOR EITHER HE WILL HATE THE ONE, AND LOVE THE OTHER; OR ELSE HE WILL HOLD TO THE ONE AND DESPISE THE OTHER. YOU CANNOT SERVE GOD AND MAMMON. THEREFORE I SAY UNTO YOU, TAKE NO THOUGHT FOR YOUR LIFE, WHAT YE SHALL EAT, OR WHAT YE SHALL DRINK; NOR YET FOR YOUR BODY, WHAT YE SHALL PUT ON. IS NOT THE LIFE MORE THAN MEAT, AND THE BODY MORE THAN RAIMENT? BEHOLD THE FOWLS OF THE AIR: FOR THEY SOW NOT, NIETHER DO THEY REAP, NOR GATHER INTO BARNS; YET YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER FEEDETH THEM. ARE YE NOT MUCH BETTER THAN THEY? ...... THEREFORE TAKE NO THOUGHT, SAYING WHAT SHALL WE EAT? OR, WHAT SHALL WE DRINK? OR, WHEREWITHALL SHALL WE BE CLOTHED? [FOR AFTER ALL THESE THINGS DO THE GENTILES SEEK;] FOR YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER KHNOWETH THAT YE HAVE NEED OF ALL THESE THINGS. BUT SEEK YE FIRST THE
AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS; AND ALL THES THINGS SHALL BE ADDED UNTO YOU. TAKE
THEREFORE NO THOUGHT FOR THE MORROW:
FOR THE MORROW SHALL TAKE THOUGHT FOR THE THINGS OF ITSELF. SUFFICIENT UNTO THE
DAY IS THE EVIL THEREOF' Jesus is making a distinction between material things
and the KINGDOM OF GOD . He is saying if
we seek first His kingdom, then all these material needs will be met. If the
kingdom is about material things, then Jesus contradicted himself. The plain
meaning and thought of this passage is that if we put God first, He will take
care of us. Now say if the disciples took this to mean that the primary message
of the gospel was 'God will add all these things unto you'. And say if they
went around teaching all nations to quote 'all these things shall be added unto
you'. And then all over kingdom
and Jerusalem Judaea and unto the uttermost parts of the
earth they had people quoting 'all these things shall be added unto you'. And after
a lifetime of ministry they taught the people how God would give them things if
they kept quoting and meditating on the passages of scripture that speak about
material wealth. What do you suppose Jesus would say when He comes back? First
of all the plain teaching of Jesus in this passage is to get their focus
[meditation, confession] off of material things. He plainly says that the
'gentiles seek these things', and that the disciples are not to be thinking
about these things all the time like the gentiles. He tells us to focus on the
kingdom as opposed to focusing on material things. He tells us that as we go
forth by faith to proclaim his gospel, that he in turn will meet our needs.
After all, the disciples left their jobs in order to follow Christ, and he was
reassuring them that they would be taken care of materially if they forsook all
to follow him.
I find it troubling that some teachers use this very passage in order to justify materialism, while the plain meaning of Jesus words are the opposite. Jesus says you cannot serve God and money. So we must take our minds and thoughts and meditations and focus them on God, not worldly things!
So true prosperity can be defined as God meeting all the needs of his children as they proclaim him in all nations. True prosperity is God meeting our needs while our focus is on him [not on our needs being met!]. True prosperity is being able to preach the word of God without a covetous motive [1 PETER:5:2].
I should make note that there are some who teach that this passage of scripture [MATT. -24] actually teaches that we have a bank account in heaven with real money credited to our account! And every time we sow [give into] the
, that we are
actually building a fund in this account. And that by faith you can claim a
withdrawal on your account and receive your financial harvest now. But if this
is what Jesus was teaching then the entire passage is twisted into turning our
attention towards money once again! Jesus plainly warned us against focusing
our thoughts on the material things in life, he told us not to be like the
unbelievers who have all their possessions in this life only. Jesus told us to
build up treasures in heaven, which meant a life lived for eternal purposes as
opposed to temporary rewards. I believe that if we get our priorities right,
that God will meet our needs, and we will be so excited about God and his
kingdom that we wont even have time to think about serving mammon! kingdom
CHAPTER 2 'TWISTING THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER'
While a new Christian, enjoying that early honeymoon period with the Lord, I’ll never forget the joy I experienced while learning the bible for the first time. The clarity, pureness and unity of scripture were a sure foundation for a long road ahead. While working as a house painter and listening to Christian radio all day long, it was an early introduction to the various 'streams' of teaching that were being produced in the church. One day my job foreman, who often heard me listening to Christian radio, thought I would enjoy listening to a new tape series that he had just been given. So I popped the cassettes into my radio and listened with the excitement of a new believer in Christ. The cassettes were a new teaching on the parable of the sower. MATTHEW 13:1-9, 18-23 ' THE SAME DAY WENT JESUS OUT OF THE HOUSE, AND SAT BY THE
AND GREAT MULTITUDES WERE GATHERED TOGETHER UNTO HIM, SO THAT HE WENT INTO A
SHIP, AND SAT; AND THE WHOLE MULTITUDE STOOD ON THE SHORE. AND HE SPAKE MANY
THINGS UNTO THEM IN PARABLES, SAYING, BEHOLD, A SOWER WENT FORTH TO SOW; AND
WHEN HE SOWED, SOME SEEDS FELL BY THE WAY SIDE, AND THE FOWLS CAME AND DEVOURED
THEM UP: SOME FELL UPON STONY PLACES, WHERE THEY HAD NOT MUCH EARTH: AND
FORTHWITH THEY SPRUNG UP, BECAUSE THEY HAD NO DEEPNESS OF EARTH: AND WHEN THE
SUN WAS UP THEY WERE SCORCHED; AND BECAUSE THEY HAD NO ROOT THEY WITHERED AWAY.
AND SOME FELL AMONG THORNS; AND THE THORNS SPRUNG UP, AND CHOKED THEM; BUT
OTHER FELL INTO GOOD GROUND, AND BROUGHT SEASIDE FORTH
FRUIT, SOME AN HUNDREDFOLD, SOME SIXTYFOLD, SOME THIRTYFOLD. WHO HATH EARS TO
HEAR LET HIM HEAR.........HEAR YE THEREFORE THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER. WHEN
ANYONE HEARETH THE WORD OF THE KINGDOM, AND UNDERSTANDETH IT NOT, THEN COMETH
THE WICKED ONE, AND CATCHETH AWAY THAT WHICH WAS SOWN IN HIS HEART. THIS IS HE
WHICH RECIEVED SEED BY THE WAYSIDE. BUT HE THAT RECIEVED THE SEED INTO STONY
PLACES, THE SAME IS HE THAT HEARETH THE WORD, AND ANON WITH JOY RECIEVETH IT;
YET HATH HE NOT ROOT IN HIMSELF, BUT DURETH FOR A WHILE: FOR WHEN TRIBULATION
OR PERSECUTION ARISETH BECAUSE OF THE WORD, BY AND BY HE IS OFFENDED. HE ALSO
THAT RECIEVED SEED AMONG THE THORNS IS HE THAT HEARETH THE WORD; AND THE CARE
OF THIS WORLD, AND THE DECEITFULLNESS OF
RICHES, CHOKE THE WORD AND HE BECOMETH UNFRUITFULL. BUT HE THAT RECIEVED
SEED INTO GOOD GROUND IS HE THAT HEARETH THE WORD, AND UNDERSTANDETH IT; WHICH
ALSO BEARETH FRUIT, AND BRINGETH FORTH, SOME
AN HUNDREDFOLD SOME SIXTY SND SOME THIRTY'. As the teacher taught through the
parable he explained how Jesus was teaching us how to plant [sow] the word
[scriptures] in our hearts [through confession, meditation, etc.] in order to
receive a thirty, sixty, or hundredfold return. He then applied the entire
teaching to reaping an hundredfold return of MONEY! He taught how that at each
stage of the parable the devil tries to steal the word so we don’t receive our
harvest. He then got to the part where Jesus says 'THE DECIETFULLNESS OF RICHES
CHOKE THE WORD', I couldn’t understand how Jesus could be teaching us about
reaping a financial harvest, and then say this! It almost seemed like a
contradiction. Well the teacher then began to sound uncomfortable as he
explained how the deceitfulness of riches was actually that old traditional
teaching that says you cant be rich [or something to that effect]! Even as a
new believer in Christ I just couldn’t accept this explanation, it was almost
as if the teacher was trying to make Jesus words say the opposite of what he
The basic plain meaning of the parable is self-explanatory. There are always obstacles and enemies of the gospel. Ultimately those who overcome these obstacles will bear good Christian fruit in varying degrees [30,60 or 100 fold]. The various hindrances to the word of God include the 'cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches'. If you want to produce fruit for God you cant get caught up in the materialistic pursuits of the world [2 TIMOTHY 2:4].
Many times in connection with this parable is the doctrine of sowing for a harvest taught. Jesus often uses planting [sowing] and harvesting [reaping] illustrations in his teachings. The main focus is usually dealing with the spreading of the
and the message of Christ to the nations. Sometimes the seed refers to
believers themselves, and other times the actual message preached [MATT. ,38]. Sowing and reaping also
refer to the works we do, as well as the money we give into the kingdom [1COR. , GAL. 6:8]. While there are many
ways you can apply sowing for a harvest, I find it disturbing that some in the
church have focused the entire teaching towards financial and material gain.
This type of preoccupation with money is in direct opposition to the warning
that Jesus gave in this parable, he told us that the deceitfulness of riches
could derail us from being fruitful, and the distorted teaching that applies
this entire parable to money is in itself a fulfillment of the warning that
'the deceitfulness of riches' can deceive you, because it denies the very
warning of Christ and makes him say something that he never said! kingdom of God