Friday, June 15, 2012

The future of marriage of worship and love of money

Our bible's inspired warnings about how we handle money are there for a reason. The Old Testament is rife with warnings, examples of misuse of money, and having wrong attitudes about it. Mixing money and worship never works if you bring the wrong attitude along. Jesus told several parables about money and the Holy Spirit inspired several of the Apostles to issue warnings about it.

I'd like to take a look at the tie between money and worship.

The Tribulation will be a time when the fullness of sin will be allowed to prosper. It means that the world will be saturated with sin to an extent not seen since the Days of Noah. (Matt. 24:37-38). "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” (Gen. 6:11-12).

With the Holy Spirit restrainer out of the way (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7) sin will come to the full. One of those sins has always been the corrupting influence of money in the church. It was a problem even in James's day. (James 2:1-7). In James it speaks about not favoring the ones who come to church dressed well and obviously wealthy over the ones who arrive looking bedraggled and poor. It says to make no distinction between the rich and the poor. The warning exists because it is fallen man's natural tendency to try and curry favor with the ones who have money, influence, or power. But when money is used as an influence-maker, and being born again do not mix.

The influence of money skews worship. Look how adulterated things had become in Ephesus. When Paul proclaimed Jesus, and said that their god whom they worshiped (Diana) was a work made of man's hands and thoughts, there was a riot.

"For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, "Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship." (Acts 19:24-27).

Most telling: 'men, you know from this business we have our wealth.' What business? The trinkets for worship business. I am not making this up, but I knew a man who used to take many business trips to Italy to look for items that would end up churches or funeral homes, mostly Roman Catholic churches. Crucifixes, Jesus-art, silver and gold accouterments to the ordinances, etc. He used to describe his import-export business as "Junk for Jesus." I think Demetrius could describe his living as 'Debris for Diana.'

Pagan idolatry corrupts. When the true church is corrupted, money is almost always at the root of it. Wrong attitudes about money are a hindrance to true worship. Demetrius was upset. Note that his opposition to Paul was first that his silver business would decline. Diana was second.

Peter reminded the pastors to enter into their calling not for 'filthy lucre' but out of eagerness to serve God. (1 Peter 5:2). Deacons are not supposed to be lovers of money. (1 Tim 3:3).

A false prophet's motivation will be money. In the case of when lucre becomes filthy it is when people USE God to make money. They turn Christianity into a trade, and industry upon which they make money.

We are not talking about hating money in and of itself. We need money for the practicalities of pastor salaries, church operating expenses, missions support, and charity. Money serves those biblical purposes. But the fleshly drive to acquire a huge personal wealth from your service to God cannot be justified.

TD Jakes was in the news this week. There was a huge gala held at the AT&T Performing Arts Center/Winspear Opera House in Dallas TX. It was called "A Triumphant Journey" and since Mr Jakes says he is a man of God you would think that the title referred to Jesus's triumphant journey from glory to earth and back to heaven again, triumphing at the cross for all time. You would be wrong. The second half of the gala title "TD Jakes 35th Anniversary". It was a gala held to acclaim Jakes's 35 years in the ministry. A gala for Jakes, about Jakes, uplifting Jakes. Ticket sales started at $150. The blurb states:

"an extraordinary 35th year celebration and Black Tie gala featuring distinguished celebrity guests, community leaders and special entertainment in celebration and honor of Bishop T.D. Jakes."

The Opera House was full, as celebrities sang Jakes's praises
under banners proclaiming TD's name.
The news review stated it was an... "epic-length event celebrated the Dallas-based spiritual leader, TV star and entertainment mogul for his 35 years of ministry. From the red carpet to the army of cameramen filming it for future broadcast to the $150-and-up ticket prices, it was a major soiree befitting The Potter’s House senior pastor..."

"And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." (Luke 9:58)
Source, HT Do Not Be Surprised
There was not only the gala, but the after-gala soiree. source
Jesus said, "I tell you, they already have their reward." (Matthew 6:1-6). Gill's Notes succinctly says, "verily I say unto you, they have their reward; and a poor one it is, the applause of men: however, it is what they seek after, and is all their empty performances deserve, and all they will have."

Creflo Dollar was in the news this week. He allegedly hit and choked his teenage daughter in an allegation of domestic abuse. With is arrest comes scrutiny of his past. Remember that money was at the root of previous allegations. The Athens Banner Herald article strolled down memory lane, its report noting--

"Along with Bishop Eddie Long, Mr Dollar is one of the most prominent African-American preachers based around Atlanta who have built successful ministries on the prosperity gospel, which teaches that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches. Ministers in this tradition often hold up their own wealth as evidence that the teaching works."

The article quoted Mr Dollar as saying--

"I stopped taking a salary," he said. "But no one ask the question, 'Where are you getting your money from?' Well, I have boxes of invitations to speak. At first, I was glad to preach for anyone. What I didn't know was I received a love offering for preaching. Back then, it was for $25 bucks. But over the years, people began to appreciate what I was bringing to them."

To Mr. Dollar, money is the evidence that his work  is appreciated? "I tell you, they already have their reward." He was glad to preach to anyone "at first" but now, at the last, it takes money to get him to preach? That is certainly the implication I take away from the quote.

I started this essay with the reminder that during the Tribulation, sin will have its full, unrestrained expression. We will see the final unholy mix of money and worship when the Antichrist demands worship. He demands it. And in order to display that submission to his demand, you must wear a mark on your hand or forehead. The mark of the beast is a mark of worship. Primarily is it a visible demonstration that you claim antichrist as messiah. Note, though, how the antichrist ties in money with that worship. Economic Babylon and Idolatrous Babylon finally have their consummation: without that mark of worship, you cannot buy or sell.

Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and  money." (Mt 6:24)

In the Tribulation, the people who love money will have no problem trading their very souls for it, (Rev 14:9-11) as they choose to worship the Antichrist, in that pinnacle of man's craven attempts to meld both worship and the love of money- and they will lose it all, forever.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Elizabeth, well this blog is timely, as my mum and i were talking today about money and faith and that i wasn't interested in material things anymore, as their are far more important things, like trusting in The Lord for everthing and serving Him completely, as one can! She then referred to a christian friend of hers, who takes the money side very seriously and gives a lot of her money to charities and lives rather frugally herself, and then said that The lord wants us to have nice things and dosen't want us to go without.mmmm.
    Well it seems that there are christians who think that they should have home comforts and prosper under the Lord and those who are willing to give up what they have and through faith and trust follow Him.
    I was the former, but i am beginning to see that certain financial comfort can blind you from The Truth and following Jesus properly. By following others who have to have their homes spick and span and the latest accessories, tends to take our time from serving The Lord.
    I did commend my mum's christian friend, if she is doing it for the right reasons, i'm sure she is, i wonder how many us would do that and to what, would be prepared to give up for Our Lord?
    I think that mum, like all of us still has a way to go, bless her. It sure takes time, trying to get our robes spotless!
    Rebecca Bonnell

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  2. It is true, you can not serve God and money, money blinds you from the truth of God because he is the truth and the way. The thing is I am not sure if you are judging these pastors or what. I follow T.D Jakes and I never not once thought of him as being a lover of money. Mr. Dollar on the other hand, who knows but T.D Jakes? Just because he had a bankquet doesn't mean he is the lover of money. He is just being appreciated because of his service. There has to be more evidence when it comes to that. As long as they are giving their money freely, then it shouldn't a problem with being blessed. However in the end they know, because they know the bible/who are going to be the elect and if they are not chosen. Then people will know...but for now I don't think one should judge a pastor or claim him to be a lover of money because he wears nice suits. Again I personally can't stand money sometimes, I rather it be like it was in the old days where people traded in catel or beans and rice to get meat or whatever else. Money supposed to be a stress reliever but I don't see that at all in this world. I mean GREED is the root of all evil and its when people are doing things that they don't suposed to be doing when they are greedy or lustful. Money does a lot of things, some are good and others,bad, but its not the money itself its the one that carries it. If he spend only on himself then is when he is accused of being a money lover but if he spends it well, gives it to the poor from his heart, preach the love of God from his heart then there is nothing wrong with having it itself since your doing what is right with it.

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    Replies
    1. 1 Timothy 3:2 is enough evidence for me. It outlines the qualifications for elders of the church, the men God wants to lead the flock. Can you see Paul renting out the Colosseum, hanging banners with *his* name, to celebrate *his* 35 years of being Paul, charging $150 to enter and being the center of attention, applause, and accolade all night? No? That's because it goes against scripture. How much evidence do you need? Not to mention common sense!

      "If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money." 1 Tim 3:1-3

      so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:31

      TD Jakes boasted in himself

      "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." 2 Cor 11:30

      He boasts in his strength: his longevity in the ministry

      "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Eph 2:8-9

      An expensive evening of boasting in works is the opposite of this scripture

      Our reward is in heaven, anonymous. Not now. Yes, he is appreciated for his service, and Paul was wise and humble enough to wait until heaven to receive it, from Jesus. TD Jakes is not wise enough to wait, and as Jesus said, Jakes has his reward now, empty and hollow as it is- because it is from men.

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  3. Placing a inappropriate value on any one thing is Idolatry. Money is not a sign of God's blessing, if it were then why do so many of those who have are openly opposed to God and His people? If we go back to the beginning and see how the Lord established how it would work to receive blessings,
    Genesis 3:17 And to Adam he said,

    “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
    and have eaten of the tree
    of which I commanded you,
    ‘You shall not eat of it,’
    cursed is the ground because of you;
    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
    18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
    and you shall eat the plants of the field.
    19 By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread,
    till you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
    for you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.”
    The system that has moved away from the agricultural based way of life has put people in a place of vulnerability in that the worlds system requires money to trade. What I see is a real problem for Gods people developing is that it does not matter who you are you need food water and shelter from the elements. In the slow economic decline we have been seeing a growing number of people are increasingly dependent on food supplement programs. Take a look at Maine's numerical designation for it's program.
    #165A
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
    OFFICE FOR FAMILY INDEPENDENCE
    FOOD SUPPLEMENT PROGRAM

    TANF or PaS: I Med: 1550 CFR 273.10, 273.14 Section: FS-666-9
    Page 2

    CERTIFIED HOUSEHOLDS

    Redeterminations

    Untimely Redetermination

    The household shall lose its right to uninterrupted benefits for failure to file the recertification form by the 15th day of the last month of the certification period, attend any required interview scheduled on or after the 15th day of the last month of the certification period, or to submit all necessary verification within the time frame established by the agency as long as the time frame elapses after the 15th day of the last month of the certification period.

    If the household loses its right to uninterrupted benefits due to such failures but is otherwise eligible after correcting such failures, the agency shall provide benefits within 30 days after the application was filed or within 1 0 days of the date the interview was completed or the required verification is provided, whichever is later.
    666.9 ? who's number is that? Paying homage to a system as this is also an act of worship. Join me in praying as to where God's people are to break away from "worshiping" the system. It is already here under our noses. I have watched many church "leaders" turn their backs on the truth to not interfere with what they see as the greatest need for their ministries, money. If your ministry needs money it will ultimately find itself at the crossroad of decision, serve God or mammon? One other thing I see as a real problem is the tax exempt status will eventually come around as a tool to apply leveraged coercion against those who have that status. In order to maintain that status your organization has to do this this and this. Who decides that? ultimately it is the god of this age. He who has an ear, let him hear.
    Let me speak plainly if you have a tax exempt status the anti-christ system will be able to set policy for your church, end of story. Wake up.

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  4. You are right Elizabeth, regarding T.D Jakes and other Pastor's like him, it is a shame that he seeks accolade from men. As with anyone serving God it is a another test from Him, to see if we shall try to seek our award now on earth (And blow our chance of salvation) or wait till Heaven, when the fruits of our labour shall taste even sweeter!
    There is a lesson, for all of us here, to keep humble at all times.
    Love and Blessings
    Rebecca Bonnell

    Hi Jeff, you are also right, i have been thinking a lot about the benefit system of Great Britain that i am in at the present, due to widowhood and Leukaemia. All the while the state pays me benefits, although the main benefit looks like it's stopping in september(due to government cutbacks) the other smaller one could also be stopped later this year, i feel i should be trusting Jesus completely to provide for me not The System(Mammon) and if that means that i have to suffer and go without lots of things, then so be it. The most important is to save our souls not our bodies. The OUR IS LATE and our time here on earth is now short, to get ourselves ready for HIS RETURN. AMEN
    Peace and Blessings,
    Rebecca Bonnell

    ReplyDelete

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