Living stones and Eternal Security

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Living stones, the metaphor that suggests security

Living stonesWhen individual Christians gather in one place as living stones, they become the temple of God. Every believer is like a stone of this building and the Lord Jesus is the foundation.  He is the corner stone and we are smaller stones built up together by Him.

. . . you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1Peter 2:5

God’s house is built with living stones

If there was the possibility of a believer losing his salvation then the spiritual temple of God would be full of missing stones and less attractive than an old house. Just imagine if we could see the spiritual reality of the construction of God’s house with these living stones with our eyes.  At any given moment there would be stones removed and others taking their place, there would be an advance but then a regression.

God has planned the placement of every living stone

God is a master planner and architect and He has already separated the materials for the edification of His temple.  No chosen living stone will be lost.  Some may take longer to prepare than others before they are laid in place, but none are chosen and then discarded.

And the temple, when it was being built, was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that no hammer or chisel or any iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built. 1Kings 6:7

Here we have a prophetic illustration of the building of the temple. The artisans cut and prepared the stones on the mountain so that there was no banging or grinding of steel tools.  The workers then merely laid the stones in their place.

Can you imagine that Solomon’s artisans were more capable of building than God Himself was? Could God make a mistake when He sets a stone in His temple? Could God not know how to calculate the lasting capacity of an individual stone?  In the Old Testament, He used men to build, but in the New Testament He is the builder.  If we are part of the Temple of God, we cannot be lost.

The use of living stones as a metaphor has been divinely inspired

At this point, I just want to make a statement about analogies and types.  Many people think that an analogy is only useful up until the point that it affirms one’s doctrinal position. If at any point the analogy contradicts one’s position, it is no longer valid or necessary and can be freely used or discarded as needed.  Analogies are neither good nor bad: in general, they are only tools to illustrate a position.  The problem is not with analogies, but with faulty teaching.  A good analogy of a bad teaching only serves to cloud the understanding.  In attempting to refute the teaching of eternal security, I once coined the phrase “nobody is going to analogize their way into heaven” and I still believe that is true. However, God has divinely chosen the examples that He has given us in His Word to teach doctrine so we cannot treat them as just incidental choices to illustrate truth.

God calls us sons because that perfectly describes our relationship with Him. And to teach that once we become sons of God we will always be His sons, and thus cannot lose our position as sons as heirs of eternal life is by no means an abuse of the word picture used by God.  The same is true when God calls us members of the body and living stones of the temple.  God did not provide us with these metaphors to obscure meaning but to help us picture the nature of spiritual truths.


All Christians overcomers?

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Do all Christians qualify as overcomers?

overcomers

According to 1 John it seems as though the mere fact of being born again and believing that Jesus is the son of God is sufficient to qualify all Christians as overcomers.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 John 5:4, 5

Various passages in Revelation (2:7, 11, 17, 26, 3:5, 12, 21 & 21:7) speak of specific privileges of overcomers.
“To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

“He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”

“To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”

“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations”

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.”

If these privileges and rewards are for overcomers, then we could conclude that every Christian will receive a reward, because all are overcomers. This is true, but we need to understand the difference between legal and experimental position. Legally we as Christians are all more than conquerors. Christ guaranteed us the victory. However, it is possible for any Christian to fail to live this out in his experience. The legal position is that which we have in virtue of the new birth. In Christ Jesus, we are overcomers because He already paid the price; He died and rose again; He subjected principalities and powers. He overcame and because we are in Him, we have overcome as well. His position has become ours.

The experiential position, however, is to take into our experience that which is already legally ours. It is possible to be a legal heir of a great fortune, and, in practice, live in abject poverty. Some are sons of the King, but live as if they were slaves. I would even venture to say that most of God’s children live as if they had no spiritual inheritance as princes and princesses, the titles given to children of royalty.

Charles Spurgeon tells of a poor elderly woman that he once went to pray for at her home. On a wall of her humble home was displayed a framed document which was given to her years earlier by a member of British royalty that she used to work for as a house cleaner. It turned out to be a last will and testament worth millions of dollars but since the elderly woman did not know how to read or write she just thought it was a fancy and important looking document of no monetary value. Spurgeon later informed her that she was legally a millionaire. She lived as a pauper all those years, legally very wealthy, but her experience was that of a poor elderly widow. How many Christians today are heirs of a spiritual fortune yet live as spiritual orphans destitute of God’s riches?

Does that bother you?  It pains me to think that we can be proprietors of a great fortune and live in poverty. This however is the life story of many Christians; they are legally rich, but experimentally poor. God’s part is to give, but our part is to receive, to appropriate. If there is no appropriation, there will be no enjoyment of the inheritance. Overcomers are those who already have entered into the experience and appropriated for themselves that which is every Christian’s rightful inheritance. Therefore, there is a difference between being a saved child of God and being an overcomer.

Although every born again believer is legally an overcomer by right of spiritual inheritance, we know this is not the experience of all Christians. Many Christians live defeated lives. Is there such a thing as a defeated believer?  Can a person who lives in spiritual defeated still be a born again believer? The answer is yes because our salvation and new birth is not only a question of experience but also of legality. Our salvation does not depend on our personal victory, but on the victory of the Lord Jesus. It is one thing to be a born again child of God, but it is another thing to be an overcomer. Salvation is the gift of God to those who believe in Him; but only the overcomer will experience victory and receive a reward. Salvation comes by faith; however, the reward comes by works that we practice before God.

Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,  (Galatians 4:1) 

Many Christians although they are sons of God, appear to be common slaves, and it appears as though God treats them no differently than servants. They are “lords (masters) of all”, but live as though they had nothing. The overcomers are all those believers that have already entered into the experience of the inheritance. We should recognize that being an overcomer is a question of maturity. Overcomers are mature while defeated believers live like immature spiritual children. Overcomers are spiritual, while defeated Christians are carnal, immature and natural. Salvation is a matter of being in Christ, but the kingdom is a matter of Christ being in us, living His life within us and transmitting His character through us. We all have the legal victory over the devil; the flesh and the world, however not all possess the victory in their experience.


Millennial Kingdom of Christ – What’s the point?

The Purpose of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom

millennial-kingdomI always wondered why God would bother with the Millennium.  Why not just get on with heaven and skip Christ’s millennial kingdom?  What exactly is the point of this one-thousand year-long prelude to heaven?  The answer to that question may have several aspects but I believe that at least one of them is that it that Christ’s millennial kingdom reign is the time when God will distribute rewards and punishment to His people.

Paul wanted the prize of the high calling of Christ, which is a reward.  Why do people automatically think that the rewards that God refers to are limited to streets of gold and heavenly mansions? If God does in fact offer rewards then we should not think it improper to desire them.  There is nothing spiritual about despising what God offers.

Just in one sermon alone from Matthew 5:12 to 6:18 Christ spoke of rewards at least nine times.  The truth is that this whole section of Matthew’s gospel deals with receiving rewards. Are we supposed to respond to Christ and say “no thanks I am not interested?”  “No, I don’t want your rewards?”  “No, I am too spiritual for that?” God’s rewards are precious; we must not interpret them as mere trinkets.  The crown of righteousness is not an object of gold placed on someone’s head.  The crown is a symbol of recognition to those believers who have responded as overcomers in this life.

Once we recognize that the crown is merely a symbol, we can begin to understand the utmost importance of the difference between salvation and reward. The reward is the recompense of the believer.  What then is the difference between receiving salvation and receiving recompense?  Salvation relates to and points to eternal life however; receiving recompense points to the time when the Lord distributes rewards to those of His servants who were faithful, I believe that scripture teaches that this will happen during the millennial kingdom.  We receive salvation by grace, through faith, and not by our works.  The reward, on the other hand, depends on our merit.

Distinguishing Christ’s millennial Kingdom from Heaven – An illustration

Let us suppose that I am a very wealthy man, the owner of a school, and you are a poor ignorant person, that wants to study and learn.  So then, I offer to pay for your studies and for those of as many of your friends that wish to study with you.  The registration and tuition are free as well as all the other educational expenses.  That is what salvation is like.  Jesus was very rich and He paid all the expenses necessary for you to study and attend private school.  He paid for the registration, the tuition, everything!  There is not detail that He has left unresolved for the furtherance of our education.  Jesus has already paid the price for everything!

In spite of this, your diploma is not free.  It is necessary for you to attend the classes and study, to take the tests and pass them.  It would be absurd for us to think that the person who paid your expenses would also take your tests and study for you.  No, you know that you would have to study hard and work up a sweat to pass the course.  If you pass the final exam then you will be qualified to receive your diploma.  The tuition was free, but the diploma comes at a great cost.  Salvation is the tuition, by way of salvation (the new birth), all students are able to enter the school of God, but the diploma is the kingdom, the reward.  Some Christians just want to remain in the school, because they like the fellowship and company of the students, the recesses, and the classes.  However, all of this must result in good grades.  Many enroll in the school, but not all receive a diploma.  Many receive salvation, but not all will receive the recompense of the millennial kingdom.  Many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14).

Some people just want to be students for the rest of their lives.  Instead of studying to prepare for a profession, they study just to study.  There are many Christians like that today.  They do not care if they graduate or not, they just study year after year.  They do not want to develop a ministry they just want to study about the ministry and gain more and more knowledge about the bible and spiritual things.

Salvation is the paid tuition, the paid enrollment and expenses.  Jesus has taken care of all the educational expenses, but now you must work and study ardently.  This arduous work is the qualification necessary for receiving the diploma.  In the end, you will take the test, and if you do not pass the test, you will not receive the diploma of a good and faithful servant.

No school principal will expel students from the school because they got a bad grade on a test.  In the same way, nobody loses their salvation if they fail a test.  What happens to students who do not do well on the test?  They will have to repeat the school year or the course, or retake the test and maybe pay a fine.  What will the millennial kingdom be then?  The answer is the repetition of the course or school year.  The problem is that Christ’s millennial kingdom will last for a thousand years.  It is a much better idea to make the effort and pass the test here in this era!

We can only receive salvation through Christ.  Only the blood of the Lamb can wash, forgive and justify us.  The goal of sinners should be to receive salvation, but once we have already received salvation, our goal should be to receive the reward. Today we should be concerned about receiving the diploma at the end of the course.

If there is not clarity with respect to the difference between salvation and recompense, we will have a hard time understanding certain parts of the Bible.  There are verses that speak with respect to reward and many people apply these to salvation.  When they do this, they fall into error. That is why some people place salvation as something so difficult and unattainable, that it would be easier to yield to all of the demands of religion.  Salvation is in reality something very simple: it is enough just to believe with the heart and confess with the mouth that Jesus arose from the dead and is Lord (Romans 10:9-10).  Receiving the reward on the other hand is not so simple, it is in this regard that the millennial kingdom begins to make sense.

Eternal security and the health of the body of Christ

eternal security and the health of the bodyEternal security is often attacked by many Christians because they are not comfortable with the implications of  a “baring all rules free for all salvation”. This is understandable however we must be careful not to base our Christian beliefs on the implications of rejecting them but on the weight of biblical evidence that supports them no matter how uncomfortable the outcome.

There are numerous bible passages that indicate the position Christians should take regarding the issue of Eternal security and here we will look at a few that relate salvation to the church as the ever-growing and developing body of Christ.

Eternal security and the metaphor of the body

The bible teaches that when someone receives salvation, God not only regenerates them but He makes them one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17).  Beyond that, they also become members of His body. This claim, which carries with it implications that can be argued to support the doctrine of Eternal Security is established by the following passages:

But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  (1 Corinthians 6:17)

Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.  (1 Corinthians 12:27)

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!  (1 Corinthians 6:15)

When a sinner converts, he not only receives regeneration and eternal life, but God also unites him to the body of Christ and transforms him into a member of His body.  If it were possible for a Christian to spiritually perish at a later time and become lost, that would imply a mutilation of the body of Christ.  There would be one less member, a hand, finger, nose or other member. The body of Christ is not merely an illustration; it is a definite spiritual reality, not a physical connection but a spiritual bond that transcends time and space.

The bible does not claim that the church is like a body, it affirms that it is the body of Christ. To affirm that Eternal Security or the belief that salvation is not lost is against the spirit of scripture is to do violence to this Holy Spirit inspired metaphor.

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.  (1 Corinthians 12:26)

The apostle Paul spoke of the possibility and case of a member of Christ’s body suffering and how the remaining part of the body should react, but not of the possibility of bodily members entering and leaving the body. New members can enter the body as a function of its normal process of growth but the idea of a body with temporary members does violence to the metaphor. God was not forced to use this metaphor but chose to use it fully knowing the natural implications that would result.

Parables of Jesus and talents – profitability and faithfulness

The parables of Jesus & the bottom line

parables of JesusOf the several parables of Jesus the one that dealt with the three servants and their use of talents shows how God cares about profitability and faithfulness to His purposes. This profitability and faithfulness is shown by how each of the  three servants “traded” with the talents they had received.

Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  (Matthew 25:16-17)

The parables of Jesus and His faithful servants

The Lord distributed His talents to His servants.  The servants, who received five and two talents respectively, right away went out and “traded” with them.  Notice that the Lord did not command them to go out and trade with their talents . . . they went out voluntarily.  How is it that they knew they should act in this manner?  The answer is that they perceived the intention of their Lord.  They understood the mind of their Lord.  Therefore, they went out and trades with their talents.

To know the mind of the Lord is fundamental for all those who want to fulfill the purpose of God and be qualified as overcomers.  To know the Lord is extremely important for success in His service and several of the parables of Jesus point to details that help us to know Him better.  Verse 18 says that the servant that had received one talent dug a hole and hid his talent.  The servant hid his talent because he did not know the Lord.

The parables of Jesus and the lazy servants

Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’  (Matthew 25:24-25)

What?  He was afraid of the Lord?  Could that be right?  Could it be that we should fear the Lord in this way?   Is it correct to say that the Lord reaps where He has not sown, or gathers where He has not strewn?  Who is like that?  Nobody can expect to reap where he has not sown!  God is nothing like what this servant had accused Him of being. This parable is teaching nothing of the sort, nor do any of the parables of Jesus teach that God is a tyrant. This servant had a twisted concept of who his Lord was.  He thought that his Lord was a severe and unjust authoritarian despot.  Nowhere in scripture is God described in this manner.  On the contrary He is a gracious, patient and generous giver who as bestowed upon us, everything that we have.  We have nothing that He has not granted us, or allowed us to possess.

The first two servants negotiated with their talents and turned a profit, multiplying them, without anyone commanding them to do so.  They did this because they had discerned the mind of their Lord.  The one that buried his talent did so because he was afraid.  He was afraid because he did not sufficiently know his Lord.  A proper vision of God is vital to our spiritual growth.

Just as the servant who buried his talent viewed the Lord as being gratuitously cruel many people today are similarly deceived.  Others however think of the Lord as a God that could never be capable of disciplining His servants since they are also His children.  Many people think that a good father would never physically discipline his children and so they project that view of human fatherhood onto God.

The parables of Jesus and His treatment of unfaithful servants

It is necessary to know how God has revealed Himself through His Word in order for us to have a proper idea of how He deals with His people, His children and His servants.  The truth is that the Lord is a loving God that looks at His servants and children through the eyes of love.  However in Hebrews 12:5-6, the Word also affirms that the Father disciplines the children that He loves and that it is a fearful thing (from the Greek phoberos: also meaning terrible) to fall in the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).  God addresses His own people in these passages and not unregenerate sinners.  While it is true that unbelievers come under God’s judgment, they do not “fall into the hands” of God.

Several of the parables of Jesus in Matthews gospel reinforce the fact that He will firmly judge the fruit of His people’s lives when He returns to set up His kingdom. However He will never unjustly incriminate us or falsely accuse us.

Parable of the talents

The Parable of the talents, not what you thinkParable of the talents

Many of Christ’s parables are needlessly misinterpreted. The parable of the talents is one which is often misinterpreted as  speaking about investment of money and human abilities or gifts. This is not the case as can be seen by revisiting this parable.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.”  Matthew 25:14, 15

The servants in the parable of the talents

The man who traveled to a far country in the parable of the talents,  is undisputedly the Lord Jesus Christ.  The far country is heaven, and the country that he left behind is the world.  The Lord dwelt among us physically in flesh and blood and today He does so in the spiritual realm through the Holy Spirit.  He was present with us and then traveled to a far country.  This trip refers to His ascension after the resurrection.

Before he left, he called together his own servants. Some bible teachers affirm that these servants refer to the Jews.  This is not a correct interpretation however because in the New Testament slaves and servants are those who have been bought with a price.  The Jews as a people, have never recognized Jesus as their Messiah. The Jewish prophets, kings and priests were the servants of God under the Old Testament but not in the New Testament.  The Lord possesses goods which He called talents and these He delivers to His own servants.  The Lord only delivered the goods that He possesses to His servants.  Why would He entrust His goods to the ungodly: to those who mock His name, and do not do what He commands or desires?  No, the Lord only entrusts His goods to His own servants, to those who have been born again, to His Church.  The un-saved, the ungodly are not God’s servants; they belong to Satan and are servants of Satan and sin.  This parable therefore is for and concerning God’s New Testament people: the Church.

The goods in the parable of the talents

So then, what goods was Jesus referring to in this parable?  What does the Lord have that He has delivered to us?  I believe that the answer is the ministry of discipleship or the spiritual care of souls.  Verse 15 tells us that the Lord gave talents to His servants.  A commonly mistaken interpretation is that a talent refers to possessions, position, education, intelligence, diplomas and status.  In the Word of God a talent does not represent these things.  God allows any person to possess these things.  Even the ungodly have all these things, and quite often in greater quantities than Christians.  A talent in this parable does not refer to natural things.  Talents are the possessions of the Lord. They are the privileges and responsibilities of the spiritual care of His people.

In this parable, the Lord gave five talents to one servant, two talents to another and one talent to a third: each one according to his ability (vs.15).  From what Jesus mentioned in this parable, we can arrive at several practical conclusions.

A talent is something that only believers can receive, because the talents are the goods that the Lord left for His servants, those who have been born again.  God does not give these talents indiscriminately, but according to the ability of each servant.  You may wonder how God determines the ability of each servant.  While this is an honest question, within the text there appears to be no answer.  I suppose that one’s ability would depend on several varying factors but one thing we can be sure of: God is a just God and depending upon our response will reward us accordingly.  In any case, the text of the parable implies that God considers the ability of each servant and bestowed talents to each one based on their ability to use them properly.  The ability is not the talent; rather it is that which helps us use the talent.  However, each servant must accept the responsibility and eventually give account of the multiplication of his or her talents.  In any case, God determines the ability, gives the proper amount of talents, and expects a return on His investment.

Faithfulness in the parable of the talents

We can also observe that God may increase the amount of talents that He originally gives when His servants are faithful in using and multiplying them. The servant, who received five talents, gained five more, the one who received two, gained two more.  So if any given servant is faithful in multiplying what he has been given he can hope to receive more, or in other words no servant is given a fixed amount of talents.  God gives each servant an initial amount and from then on, it depends on his faithfulness in multiplying what God has given him.  The Word clearly demonstrates that each servant should develop his talents and that the talents speak of spiritual things since they are the Lord’s goods bestowed upon His own servants.

Rewards and punishment in the parable of the talents

God can recall the talents. The parable goes on to explain that the servant who received one talent buried it, and in the end the Lord took it back and gave it to the one that had ten. Here again we can see that the talents are not natural abilities since once a person learns something they cannot suddenly lose what they have learned.  For example if I learn to play the guitar, I can’t all of the sudden lose that ability because I was somehow unfaithful in multiplying it, even less so could that ability be automatically transferred to someone else who was more faithful with their specific talent.

In this parable, the master took the talent back.  Therefore, these talents are not natural but spiritual.  One day at the Judgment Seat of Christ, the Lord will require an accounting of our use of His goods (talents).  If we have not multiplied these talents, we will have to give an account at the Judgment Seat of Christ and subsequently disciplined.  Those servants whom God deems faithful will receive even more talents as reward from the Lord.

For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. (Matthew 13:12)

Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. (Matthew 25:28)

In the parable of the talents all the servants receive talents.  These three servants represent all the servants of God.  Some receive more, some receive less, some are faithful and some are unfaithful.

God of Money (Mammon)

god-of-money

The God of Money – Mammon and His promises

It is necessary to come to grips with the concept that Satan has placed an evil spirit, the god of money called Mammon, to rule man through riches and through him seeks to govern people’s lives in the area of money, finance and material wealth. This spirit desires to rule over our lives. That is why Jesus said that we cannot serve God and the god of money (Mammon).

This god of money seeks out servants.

Satan’s objective is that the god of money occupy God’s place. Mammon promises us only what God can deliver: security, significance, identity, independence, power and freedom. Let’s take a brief look at the meaning of each one of these false promises.

In the first place, who is the source of your security? Those who serve the god of money feel completely insecure and unprotected if they lose their job or run out of money. They are unable to simply believe in God’s care for them. They live in anxiety and worry about tomorrow because God has not yet become their security. Mammon is a cruel God that torments his worshipers.

The second promise of Mammon, the god of money is significance. Are you one of those people who believe that the value of a person is in his bank account? Such are the servants of the god of money. If they have money, they feel as if they possess value and meaning, if they run out of money, their self-esteem runs out with it. Have you ever noticed how the sense of humor of some people diminishes as the month wears on? The less money they have, the more their good humor deteriorates. This is the thinking of Mammon: “you are what you have”. The god of money says that if you had more money, people would listen to you. If you had more money, your relationship problems would be solved and your life would be marvelous.

The god of money has also entered our churches. He has convinced many Christians that if they had more money they could really help people out. This is a lie. Jesus never said that the solution to people’s problems is more money. Money is not the solution, God is. This lie has ensnared many servants of God, who think that they cannot do more in God’s kingdom because they don’t have money. This is a lie! We need God, and God alone! All resources proceed from Him.

The god of money is constantly presenting us with once-in-a-lifetime business propositions. He is the one that whispers in your ear “just think of all the good things you can do for others if you were a millionaire.” This line of thinking is a lie of the enemy and from the pit of hell. God does not need money to help people. You should force that phrase into your spirit until you are convinced that you can do all things through God who strengthens you, with money or without it. When we think that problems can be solved with more money it is because we are under the influence of this money god called Mammon.

The third thing that the god of money tries to give us as if he were God, is an identity, a name, a well-known and famous and influential name. When we talk, we want others to listen and pay attention. We love to have position, status, fame or power. All these things come from Mammon. Who are you? What is your name? Are you someone important? Mammon says that if we drive the right car, live in the right neighborhood, have the right title before our name and if we are friends with the right people, then we will be happy and fulfilled.

The fourth promise of the god of money is independence. If you skim through any book about finances from the worldly viewpoint you will see that independence is the goal. People want to make money to feel that they don’t need anyone or depend on anyone and thus they will not no longer feel anxious or worried. But it is only when we are dependent on the leading of the Holy Spirit that we truly become independent of enslavement to others.

Mammon also offers power. People dream about having a position that bestows power over others. Jesus is the greatest example of humility that exists. He did not cling to the glory that he had as God when he came as a man. And after everything that He suffered here on the earth, He surrendered everything: the kingdom, the power and the glory to the Father.

The last lying promise of the god of money that I will mention is freedom. Whoever has a lot of money can do what they want. This is the doctrine of Hollywood. Mammon is a God that enslaves, but if the truth sets us free, we will be free indeed! Let me be clear, Mammon is not the same thing as money. The apostle Paul said that the problem is the love of money. He said in first Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Mammon is this idolatrous love. In other words, it is selfish, greedy and covetous.

This is the reason why we cannot serve God and Mammon, because they are opposed to each other. Mammon says to take, but God says to give. Mammon is selfish, but God is generous. Mammon says to buy and sell, God says to sow and reap. Mammon says to cheat and steal, but God says to give and then we will receive.

When we learn to perceive that these characteristic are not simply loose and disconnected tendencies, we will much more easily perceive that we are in reality, up against a devious evil spirit that preys on our material insecurities.

The Bride of Christ and the Purpose of prosperity

bride-of-Christ

The bride of Christ points to the purpose of prosperity

In Deuteronomy 8:11-18 God spoke through Moses and told the people in Israel to be careful not to forget their God by not keeping his commandments.

He also told them to be careful after they have eaten and are full and have built beautiful houses and have lived in them, and when their herds and their flocks have multiplied just as everything else that they have, and when their heart and their pride is lifted up because of all this blessing and they begin to forget God who brought them out of Egypt and protected them along the way providing for their needs and protecting them from enemies.

If they should say in their heart “my power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth”, He warned them that they should remember the Lord their God for it is He who gave them the power to get wealth so that they may establish His covenant.

God is gracious and generous and loves to pour His blessings upon His people. However as He spoke these words through Moses He has established a definite principle that the power to get wealth comes from Him and He gives it toward a definite purpose that being establishing His covenant. The bride of Christ is the principle channel of establishing God’s covenant.

One way to do this is to appreciate the value of the bride of Christ and care for her

The church is the bride of Christ. Unfortunately today, most Christians do not much appreciate Christ’s bride. There are too many “friends of the groom” who feel that the bride of Christ is not very lovely or desirable. This is a major and strategic error of many Christians who never experience what it is like to eat the good of the land. What they do not recognize is that the Lord, by no means takes kindly to those of His people, who despise His bride.

Suppose I was a rich man who went on a journey and left three of my most trusted servants to care for my bride. I promise to send $10,000 each month to each servant with the understanding that each one gives $1000 each month for my bride to spend on her needs.

On the first month of my trip the first servant gave $1200 to my bride and did so for the rest of the time that I was gone. The second servant was faithful each month and gave $1000 for the support of my bride. The last servant however gave only $800 to my bride on the first month, $400 on the second month and nothing for the remainder of my travels.

When I returned from my journey how will do you suppose I will deal with each servant? Since the third servant had abandoned his commitment with my bride I will take the privilege of receiving $10,000 per month from him and will add it to what I give to the first servant since he went beyond what I requested and proved himself to have a heart for my bride. The second servant will remain in his present position because he has been faithful.

God will treat his servants in the same manner with respect to the bride of Christ. He will reward those who have been most faithful with what He entrusted to the least faithful and punish those who are unfaithful by taking away everything and giving it to those who are most faithful. The first will be promoted, the second will retain his position and the third will lose everything.

In God’s kingdom which of the three describe you? If you want to eat the good of the land you should be most like the first and least like the third.

Eating the good of the Land

good-of-the-landThe Good of the Land – God’s best for you.

The prophet Isaiah stated in Isaiah 1:19 “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land”. These words were spoken to God’s people at a time of great difficulty and affliction. Isaiah prophesied during the time that Israel, the northern kingdom , had already been taken captive by Assyria. In the first part of chapter 1 of Isaiah the Lord speaking through his prophet expressed His disappointment and displeasure in the different manners that His people had abandoned Him. God wanted to bless His people so much, yet God’s blessings flow within the parameters of His instruction.

God’s will is that His people eat the good of the land. God’s desire is that you eat of the good of the land. However, He requires that you be willing and obedient. Most of us have no problem with the first part: the willingness to eat the good of the land. However, we must recognize that this willingness must be qualified. It is not merely a willingness to eat the good of the land but a desire to eat the good of the land above all other desires.

Many wish to eat the good of the land but subject their willingness to eat the good of the land to their desire to live in the way they please and do what they want. It really comes down to the fact that most people’s desire to be blessed is subjugated by their desire to determine their own way. However, the Lord through the prophet said: “If you are willing.” If you can get to the point of truly willing to eat the good of the land then your journey is already half over. The other half of the journey is being obedient to the direction that God gives. The Holy Spirit is saying to you today “I want you to eat the good of the land and if you are willing and obedient to my direction, you will be blessed and you will eat the good of the land.”

Two simple commands: be willing and obedient and the blessings will follow. So if you are willing to eat the good of the land, then there are several things that you can do to obey God’s direction required to experience His blessing. In the following posts I will suggest some “forgotten” principles that have been largely neglected in the lives of God’s people who play a major role in whether or not we enjoy the good of the land.

Five barriers to a closer relationship with God

relationship-with-GodA relationship with God is a privilege!

However some people needlessly miss out on the opportunity of having a healthy relationship with God. Some people think that a relationship with God is an illusion, something that cannot happen. Some people try to think up logical explanations for why not even Christians can ever hope to have a close relationship with God.

The truth is that everyone can and should have a vital encounter with the Lord that develops into a closer relationship with God. The Bible says that everyone needs God, but there are some basic barriers that get in the way of a closer relationship with God. We will now examine some ways in which this can happen and how we can eliminate these barriers.

A passive mind

Possessing a passive mind can hinder having a relationship with God. But what causes a passive mind?

An un-renewed mind

The New Testament teaches us that we should be transformed by renewing our mind with the truth of the Word of God. A mind that has not been renewed provides much territory for the operations of the devil. Satan does his best to try to keep us in ignorance thus preventing the possibility that we may seek renewal.

Wrongly interpreting the truth of the Word of God

Christians often misinterpret the truth of the Word of God when they consider the things that Satan does in their lives such as provoke problems at work, health problems, financial problems and problems in their relationships as normal. When we interpret these things by the dictates of the enemy we are yielding precious ground in our thinking.

Satan always acts out of our ignorance and seeks to distort the Word of God; as a result our relationship with God is hindered and often falls into regression.

By accepting demonic suggestions

Satanic suggestions sometimes come in the form of thoughts and it is up to us to correctly identify their source and reject them.

Satan plants ideas in our mind and then observes our reaction to them. If he perceives that we tolerate or even accept them, then he advances in his evil plans to undermine our relationship with God.

As a result, we have and we experience, that what we believe and accept

An empty mind

An empty mind cannot think since there are not thoughts to ponder on, and is at the mercy of the devil who will actively act to take it over by injecting his own miserable thoughts.

We must exercise our own mind and recognize that God gave us a mind to use rather than yielding it to the devil or to someone else.

The old saying is accurate that affirms that an empty mind is the workplace of the devil.

The consequent of all these things is a passive mind. A passive mind waits for external information to activate it. Passivity is the failure to take up a position on our own acting upon external information. All of our thoughts should pass through the filter of the truth of the Bible through an active mind. A closer relationship with God demands the active use of our mind, just as a relationship with any person would.

Accusation

Even though we have already been forgiven by the Lord it is not always easy to accept this forgiveness completely and have the grace to forgive ourselves. Many people feel accused even after God has forgiven them their sins.

The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us of all ungodliness.

Therefore believe in God’s Word and rest upon its truth. Remember: confessed sin is forgiven sin! A closer relationship with God cannot thrive in the presence of feelings of guilt and accusation.  It is not God who accuses but the enemy!

A heart far from God

Some people are not able to experience a closer relationship with God because they spend all their time thinking about the things that they would have to abandon.

The truth is that their hearts are cold towards God, because there are attracted to the things of the world; this is a barrier in their mind, a barrier on their part that will never allow them to enjoy a closer relationship with God. Such hearts must deny this coldness and prefer God and allow Him to touch them.

The Bible says: do not love the world neither the things that are in the world. If someone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15.

We must recognize that this world and all that is in it will someday come to an end, because the world is already condemned by God, and the devil is the prince of this world. In the same way, everything that is attracted to the world will also perish together with it.

But those who have a relationship with God will be with Him forever!

A mistaken idea of God

Many people believe that is very difficult to maintain a relationship with God, because they believe that God is overly demanding and difficult to please.

Others believe that God is unloving and indifferent, always angry with them.

This is a lie! God loves us all. He does hate sin; therefore, He will not allow any of us to remain living in sin! The reason is because His greatest desire is to live inside of us. He not only wants to have a relationship with us but He wants to be our best friend, and wants to be close to us. If you run to Him, He will run to you. A lack of relationship with God is almost always due to a mistaken idea of God.

Indifference

Indifference is the lack of desire for a certain thing.  Jeremiah 29:13 says: And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Many people never attain a closer relationship with God and don’t get to know Him because they don’t seek Him and with enough interest.

There are some ways that we can show our interest in having a closer relationship with God such as crying out to Him, applauding Him, extending our hands to Him, prostrating ourselves on the ground, confessing our sins and confessing the Word of God by appropriating it in our own lives.

Jacob wrestled with God all night long. Many struggle for 10 minutes, others for an hour, but few are prepared to seek God all night long as Jacob did in Genesis 32:24

It is not difficult to spend two or more hours watching a movie that you’re interested in. But if you find it difficult to spend a few hours or more seeking His presence then you may never succeed in developing a closer relationship with God.


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