Money! What a Babylonian Confusion!

The church needs to look again at what the word of God teaches about finances. We must definitely reconsider our position and our view on this. What most children of God believe about finances is not what the Bible teaches!

The church has caused so much devastation and confusion in the area of finances in the Christian church that no one is sure exactly what the Bible says on this very important subject.

This journal entry sheds more light on this topic:

Prosperity preaching

At the very extreme of this confusion are the typical American “prosperity” doctrines that do great damage to the church. Where does this doctrine come from? How did it turn into this superficial, vain doctrine that is preached to the world just as easily and with as much zeal as the gospel of Jesus Christ? What are the consequences?

Among other things, it leads to greed for money and a superficial way of life among Christians while neglecting many other important aspects of Christianity. It also leads to great suspicion and skepticism in the word of God regarding Divine provision.

What made the “prosperity” doctrines so ugly? Why did it become so superficial? The answers to this question are the following:

First: Well-known church leaders with mega congregations have started to attract attention. Instead of using the surplus finances generated as a result of the larger congregations for social services, many of these leaders enriched themselves and began to maintain much higher living standards than the rest of the church members. It caused inequality, separation, envy, and jealousy. Many times the church leaders live in luxury and the church members are suffering from misery. There also has been a rivalry between congregations for ages. The one wants nicer facilities and offers better programs than the other. This is of course not possible in house churches because the fivefold ministers in the house church community do not receive salaries and also have no control over congregation finances. It falls outside their area of their areas of responsibility and influence.

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Second: Church leaders of mega congregations obviously have a lot of expenses and therefore fundraising is a very important aspect of it. If they do not pay very diligent attention to this, they will not be able to maintain all the programs and activities of the church. This aspect of the institutional church has over the years given rise to many ingenious and inventive fundraising methods and projects. It has created a whole new culture in the church regarding finances. These fundraising methods and projects are not always managed completely honestly and acceptably. All sorts of little foxes have popped up and the real motive behind projects is sometimes obscured, especially when these motives are not entirely honorable. It is these little foxes that have done very great damage in the church.

Over the years, church leaders, due to fear and/or greed for money, have done things around church finances and said things that shocked many people. The fear that the “ministry” could collapse due to a lack of finances is an eternal nightmare for many institutional church leaders. Christians began to see through these methods and projects and began to lose their respect for church leaders and also for the system. People have started to see that many times it is more about money than anything else.

When such church leaders quote Scripture on finances, their motives around this aspect may not always be trusted. Whatever they say about finances from the pulpit is viewed with suspicion or taken with a pinch of salt. Some of these statements are really ridiculous and absurd. Unfortunately, many church leaders feel that such steps are for a very good cause and that they justify their actions. Eventually, the position of trust between church leaders and church members around finances was thus irrevocably damaged. Not only that but also “prosperity preaching” and “prosperity teaching” have become unacceptable to many people.

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God is glorified when I suffer

At the other extreme of this confusion is the false doctrine that children of the Lord must suffer. They have to live in poverty if they want to learn the lessons of life at all. They believe that poverty and misery are an absolute necessity and in fact, when they live in poverty, they glorify our God through it. Without this exposure, we can get nowhere in the spiritual realm. Without it, we remain superficial and can never become spiritually mature. For people who believe in this belief, “prosperity teachings” were born in hell. They can never identify with it. To them, it is synonymous with a swear word.

On the contrary, it is precisely the distorted message of “prosperity preaching” that I discussed above that made them finally give up. Rather, these people lay aside all wealth and all greed for money to rather “suffer” for God voluntarily. This is a very honorable thing for them to do. They feel that they are pleasing God and that they can be a pure instrument of excellence in his hands. They have no desire at all to be wealthy or rich and have no false motives when it comes to finances. Many institutional ministers cling to this view and proclaim it from the pulpit.

Some of these people live in childlike dependence on God to provide for their basic needs. This is quite amazing, but, these people are not doing well. They live from hand to mouth. It’s not fun to live like that. The hardships are visible on their faces. Yet many of them are very happy. One can see how God cares for them and they constantly testify how God miraculously provided for them. It is precisely this supernatural provision that makes them feel even more that they are in the perfect will of God. I’ve heard a lot of their testimonies and it’s amazing how God provides for these people.

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They are content with little and they receive from the heart of God exactly what they believe. Many of them are truly great believers and there is a childlike dependence on God among them that is commendable.

Then there are many variations between these two extremes. As you can see, there is a real Babylonian confusion here. Many people are very confused regarding this topic and they do not know what to believe. Scriptures regarding prosperity and provision often contradict each other throughout the Bible, or at least, that’s how it seems to people. To many, it seems that God wants things to go well with his children. Others read other passages of Scripture some of which Paul wrote and it seems to them that God wants his children to suffer.

How do you feel about it?

This is a wrong question to ask. The question we need to ask is this: Is your belief in this subject according to the word of God? The reality is that it does not matter how you and I feel about it. It also does not matter what you and I believe. What matters is what the word of God says about it. The word of God is the foundation on which all doctrines are built. No other book or opinion other than the word of God can be used as a real measure or basic frame of reference regarding his will. The Bible says that the Scriptures are profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.

To make more sense in a nutshell of all this information and opinions, regarding finances, with which we are bombarded daily, I always say to people: “Do not let people who have false motives cause you to abandon the true word of God”. When I make this statement, I am always responded to by a “What do you mean?”

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My answer: “Prosperity preaching” comes from God. The Bible says so explicitly in so many words. On the contrary, the word “prosperity” is quoted or mentioned in the Bible and then the Bible says that “prosperity” is God’s will for his children. However, this is a different “prosperity” than what the institutional church preaches. It is not that dirty, money-hungry, getting-rich, “barns full” rich “prosperity”. No, it is a Divine selfless abundance, without that abundance becoming too important to you or becoming an obstacle in your life.

What does the Bible say about this “prosperity” or abundance and where does it say that it is God’s will for us? Psalm 35:27 (KJV) and in many other places. We’re going to look up some of them.

Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favor my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, let the Lord be magnified, which have pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.

The word for “prosperity” in the original Hebrew here in Psalm 35 is, שׁלום, which is pronounced “shalowm”. The true meaning of this word is financial prosperity, physical health, and safety.

God is actually saying here, not only that it is His will, but also that it is a pleasure for Him that things should well with His children in all areas or levels of their lives.

Now the question is: What exactly does the Bible mean here by “well“?

First, we need to go and see how a good father and a good mother feel about their children. I think the following words will come across their lips: “My heart desire is that my children should be well“. “I do not want them to have a lack of whatever they need“, “My desire is for my children to have what they need, whatever it is.” By that, our earthly parents always mean that their heart desire is that we should be healthy, that we should be safe, and that we should not have a shortage of what we need to live.

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This does not mean survival but also a good social life. So our earthly parents would like us to have enough food, enough clothing, a good home, and one or two good vehicles. They would have liked us to be able to meet all our obligations regarding school fees and other school and sports activities. They would have liked our children to be able to go on school tours. They would have liked us to be able to pay for our children’s education and that we could go on holiday once a year. They would have liked us to never have to borrow money. They would have liked us to eat out a little now and then or book a weekend at a holiday resort every now and then. We work so hard and we need a little rest.

There is much Scripture in the Bible that proves that this is exactly what our Heavenly Father wants for us. It gives Him infinite pleasure when we live like this:

Psalm 112

1. Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments.

2. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed.

3. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.

4. Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

5. A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.

6. Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.

7. He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.

8. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies.

9. He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.

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10. The wicked shall see it, and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth, and melt away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.

Psalm 23

1. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Psalm 91

1. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

4. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

6. Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

8. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

9. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

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10. There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

Matthew 6:25-33

25. 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 than raiment?

26. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

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32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34. 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.

John 10:10

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

The original Greek word for “abundance” here is pronounced “perisos”. It means “more than enough”. The dictionary gives the following exposition here: Superabundant, excessive, exceedingly more, beyond measure.

Philippians 4:19

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Here Scripture affirms that our good heavenly Father also wants for us what our good mother and father want for us: That every need of ours must be fulfilled. He also wants us to lack nothing.

Luke 6:38 continues in the same vein:

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Here Scripture affirms that God wants us to have plenty. We can also see that the institutional church leaders are not lying when they say that if we give we will receive much more. This is the truth. Church leaders’ motives are just not always pure around how much you should give and for whom you must give. In the early New Testament church and also in house churches today, everyone, out of their free will, to whom they feel led, gives as much as they feel led, usually to the poor and needy. In house churches, money is usually not collected for any purpose other than described below. This is because there is no cost involved with house churches.

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The Old Testament “tenth” tax system is not followed. It is always a voluntary matter of faith between church members and God.

When there is a great need among church members and even among the Five-Fold Ministry, money may be collected occasionally, but no pressure or manipulation is applied to get money out of people. It is always voluntary. It is always according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Fivefold ministers are never involved in this aspect of church life. The elders (not the Five-Fold Ministry) and the members of the congregation handle the care of the needy in the congregation. By the way, in house churches, pastors are not regarded as elders.

Deuteronomy 28:12

The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.

It is still not God’s will today that we should borrow money from anyone or any institution because He cares for us and He blesses us financially. We just have to turn to Him for help. Scripture says that we must cast all our anxiety on Jesus Christ because He cares for us.

Philippians 4:6

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Here it is no longer just needs but even desires. Desires in everything. The word desires in Greek here is a petition, a requirement, a request. It means asking God for something that matters to you, something that is important to you. A desire of your heart. The Old Testament counterpart to this passage of Scripture is Psalm 37:4

Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Desires here in Hebrew have exactly the same meaning as desires in Philippians 4: 6. God wants to provide not only for our needs but even for special desires we may have.

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Psalm 34:10

The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

Psalm 34 explicitly states that those who serve God and fear Him need not suffer want. Those who seek Him have no lack of anything. This passage of Scripture is very important! Do you realize what anything means? If you’re experiencing lack in your life, there’s a good reason why you do, and it is not because of satan or God. It is because you do not believe or act on the word of God.

We get what we believe and negative things happen to us because we do not apply the word of God in our lives. Hence the misery and hence the suffering. It is not bloodline curses and the will of God that causes them. It is we who do not make God’s promises part of our lives. It’s available to us but we walk past it.

2 Corinthians 9:6-9

6. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

7. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

8. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

9. (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

Here the Scripture is very clear that we reap abundantly and can be abundant in all respects and can have because we sow. There can be no misunderstanding or doubt of any kind regarding God’s will for us.

We can choose

In the Old Testament, someone (Jabes) asked the Lord to richly bless him and increase his territory. This happened because 1 Chronicle 4:10 says that God gave him what he “desired”. He gave him the desires of his heart. Jabez was a righteous man.

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In the New Testament, an unmarried man who was willing to live quite poorly to achieve his goals denied himself many comforts and privileges to which he is entitled to for the sake of the gospel. He was called in truly unique circumstances. He had to plant and establish the church for the first time here on earth. He denied himself all convenience because he was focused on this task.

However, your name is not Paul. You are not unmarried and have a family to take care of. You were not called to establish the church here on earth. Paul was definitely an exception. It is a decision he made and it was probably the right decision in light of the time and place of his calling in history.

However, it is not God’s will for man to live that way. I think the Scriptures we have dealt with prove God’s will for prosperity to His children very clearly.

Why I wrote this section

Child of God, do not allow people who are on a witch hunt to rob you of prosperity, peace, and blessings. There is a “prosperity preaching” that does not come from God yes but God wants it to go well with you. He wants you to lack nothing but to have plenty of everything you need. He wants to give you the desires of your heart. Not to selfishly pamper. No, to enjoy a full and good life. This does not mean that there will be no trials and times of need. No, it means you can be content in all circumstances. As Paul says, I have learned to be content in all circumstances. This does not mean that we simply accept these circumstances. Times of scarcity must again make way for abundance. It means we trust God to save us from unwanted financial circumstances and bring us back to our victory in financial matters because that is where God wants us. It is in prosperity where God is actually glorified. Not in poverty.

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Just look at what the Bible says about poverty:

Proverbs 10:15

The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.

Proverbs 19:7

All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.

There is no glory in poverty. Poverty is, in a sense, a sign of failure. This is not what God wants for us. Yes, not all of us have had the same opportunities and background. However, it is in the power of all of us to make all the promises of God part of our lives through faith. We never have to stay poor. Christ became poor so that we may lack nothing.

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