A Dollar's Worth Of The Devil
never cease to be surprised at the way the "love of money," as the root of all evil (I Timothy 6:10), still grips huge numbers of Christians in America. Furthermore, one of the strange ironies is the fact that it is frequently the poor that have yet to learn the truth about money.
Believers of modest means read the verse about how "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:23), and they are strangely comforted as many resent how the successful in our society always seem to get away with everything; yet when it comes to the deceitfulness of dollars, the truth is, the Christians are among the most deceived people on the planet.
Many believers look on the prosperity preachers (also known as the name it and claim it crowd) with significant disdain - and rightfully so. Such "ministries" practically promise that if you give them a dollar bill, the Lord will give you back a twenty. These preachers, many of which are on television, have twisted the issue of monetary support of ministry into a manipulative formula that is the religious equivalent of purchasing a retirement stock portfolio they "guarantee" will increase in value. In reality, the support provided to the prosperity prophets is a bit more like ordering a dollar's worth of the devil.
On the other side of the denominational aisle, popular mainstream evangelical ministries seem to have no difficulty sustaining their ministries through the "miracle" of the tax-deductible donation. These don't need to promise you a prosperous return on your "investment," as it's clear every dollar you give them will come back every April 15th in the form of a reduced tax liability. However, buried beneath the barrage of "Christian" corporations clamoring for your check, are those that know if they tell you the truth, you will most likely not support their efforts with your rapidly diminishing supply of dollar bills.
The Heaping Of Teachers
Few recognize biblical prophecy actually predicts a free market economy - something that was unheard of when the scriptures were written - will emerge in the last days. The Apostle Paul intuitively tell Timothy
"...the time will come when they [the Christians] will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Timothy 4:3,4).
This verses tell us that, in the time of the end, the money will come to control the message. The KJV phrase "itching ears" means the people will only support the preachers that tell them what they've already decided they want to hear. Colloquially speaking, they'll be "scratching" those "itching ears" by "heaping" to themselves teachers that will reaffirm that they already have the truth. Because of this upside down way of controlling the prophetic content, Christians by the millions have steadily eroded any possibility of an independent ministry actually preaching the hard truth on a large scale concerning what is about to happen on planet earth.
In effect, the "sheep" have gotten together and foolishly hired shepherds who will allow them to graze on dangerous 'feel good' grass - even when that idol shepherd knows of the danger. Jesus Christ specifically predicted this process would emerge when He stated
"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep" (John 10:11-13).
Remnant ministries, such as this one, are thoroughly convinced the LORD will soon bring about an event we call the reckoning. A rather ominous term that essentially means "accounting," the reckoning is the event seen in Matthew 25 where "after a long time the lord of those servants [sheep in the above analogy] cometh, and reckoneth with them" (Matthew 25:19).
The term "reckon" has a definite sense of judgment associated with it, for the Bible tells us JESUS CHRIST was "reckoned among the transgressors" (Luke 22:37) - a figure of speech indicating He was scheduled to be "cut off...in the midst of the week" (Daniel 9:26,27). Since Christ tells His true disciples that "Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of (Mark 10:39), we are not expecting the unscriptural evacuation taught by the rapturists. Instead, we are expecting the wide-open judgment that is the reckoning.
At the risk of belaboring the issue, literally millions of Christians still believe they will be "taken" away to safety before the tribulation -- as their hirelings continue to misinterpret Christ's description of the end times -- which He taught would be analogous to the time of Noah and the great flood. The last days will be "just as it was" in the days of Noah, when "they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded" (Luke 17:28 - notice the commercial aspect of the activity), and they "knew not until the flood came, and took them all away..." (Matthew 24:39).
Obviously, Noah and his family knew the flood was coming, so the ones "taken" away had to be the unsuspecting people that were unaware the great reckoning was about to occur. Yet, to this day, the blind believers think the ones taken away will be "raptured" when the analogy plainly states the ones that are "taken" are killed. In fact, when the disciples asked Jesus "where, Lord?" - (in effect, 'where were they taken, Lord?'), He said their "carcase" could be found wherever "the eagles be gathered together" (Luke 17:37, Matthew 24:28).
This is hardly a popular view; thus for every letter of support with a check in it sent in by some sweet soul trying to help us warn the masses that they're in terrible peril, we receive three or four letters from "Christians" reviling us, and angrily demanding they be taken off our mailing list as they never want to hear this again. Amazingly, vast amounts of believers only support those "prophets [that] say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place" (Jeremiah 14:13).
In Jeremiah, we see the LORD rebukes those that preach a rapture instead of a reckoning. He writes
"The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them: They prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart" (Jeremiah 14:14).
This amazing truth places those that have a genuine calling from God in a position that is practically impossible to sustain. To put it another way, the world's political and economic systems have deteriorated in such a fashion that ALL ministries have a progressively more difficult task in sustaining the ability to speak the truth to a population that is inexorably moving in the wrong direction. In short the collective "flock" is moving towards the spiritual edge of the cliff, and very, very few are hearing the cries of the true prophets that are now shouting from the rooftops that the wolf is at the door. .
Many pastors have simply given up fighting this downward spiral, and are now moving in sync with the flow of apostasy. Such are the "hirelings," and they will be held accountable; however, the sad truth is, this lethal spiritual inertia is cumulative, as the people themselves are dictating, with their collective fiscal support, or lack thereof, the destructive direction the herd is moving in.
Be Thou Warm And Filled
The Apostle Paul demonstrated a brilliant strategy in his evangelistic efforts in that he was a tentmaker who could sustain himself with that profession, and thus be able to afford to preach the gospel without the need of any tithes. To the Christians in Thessalonica, he wrote
"Neither did we eat any man's bread...but wrought with labor and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you...." (II Thessalonians 3:7)
This verse (and several others), have been misinterpreted to mean that ministries should never charge any money for anything associated with the Gospel. This could not be further from the truth, for Paul is simply saying that in his evangelistic efforts, he intentionally worked for his own "bread" so that he would be free to say whatever he chose when he first established the church at Thessalonica - thereby avoiding the disastrous fate of the "hireling."
However, in the very next verse, Paul stated that he chose to earn his own way with his trade, "not because we have not power [read authority to receive tithes], but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us" (II Thessalonians 3:8). Indeed, he noted (to the Corinthians) that that he had received funds from "other churches," because the Corinthians were too spiritually immature to understand that it was scripturally appropriate for them to provide financial support to Paul as their spiritual leader.
Of course, this fiscal responsibility goes well beyond the assembly's need to sustain their shepherd as it it also seen in terms of charity for those believers that are "naked, and destitute of daily food...." (James 2:15). James writes how the Christian's faith will be evidenced by their works. James says it is not enough to just "bless" someone when the need is clear. With just a hint of sarcasm, he writes of those that behold the need for support, but say to the person in need "depart in peace, [and] be ye warmed and filled" -- without actually providing any of "those things that are needful to the body..." (James 2:16).
In the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, we find one of the key ingredients to the huge revival that took place in Jerusalem was related to the tithing that sharply increased. In the beginning of the book, Jerusalem was desolate with a depressing outlook. After Nehemiah taught the people about their glorious heritage in the LORD, they demonstrated their exuberant obedience through the gifts made to the temple and the priesthood.
"And the rest of the people separated themselves...from the people of the lands....everyone having knowledge, and having understanding...Also we made ordinances....to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God....to bring the first fruits of our ground, and the first fruits of all fruit...and of our cattle, as it is written in the law, and the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks, to bring to the house of our God, unto the priests that minister in the house of our God:
"And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests...For the children of Israel ...shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers...and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God." (Nehemiah 10:28,32,33,35-37,39).
As many believers have convinced themselves there is no requirement to sustain their spiritual leadership (and validating that rationale by reasoning they are not "under the law"), they have completely forgotten that same law is allegedly written in their hearts. Thus, like Paul before us with his tentmaking profession, we distribute books, tapes, and health items as a means of support as many remnant believers have yet to discover they are only robbing themselves of rewards in the kingdom of God through their refusal to tithe. Indeed, we count it all joy whenever some foolish believer periodically chastises us for "selling" books - posturing that anything having to do with the LORD should be free. Predictably, those that complain that all things Christian should be free, never donate a dime to the LORD's work.
The irony is that God will bring all He desires to His millennial kingdom through His Son and the work of the true remnant - and we will have done all we can do with whatever resources He provided (Matthew 25:15). We see this principle in the parable of the talents wherein the first two servants utilized their abilities (the "talents" in the parable) to increase the scope of God's great bounty, while the third "buried" his talent altogether. In essence, those that do not take part in the work can only be viewed as the "wicked and slothful servant" in Matthew 25. Such are missing the opportunity to add their "talents" to the project - thereby diminishing their reward at the time of the great harvest - assuming they make it into the kingdom at all.
Intriguingly, the book of Matthew tells us this great accounting applies to the "servants" of the great man who returned "after a long time...and reckoneth with them" (Matthew 25:18) - apparently an allusion to the believers. Likewise, in Revelation, we see how the LORD counsels the rich "believers" to "buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed..." - clearly an admonition to place their treasure in the things of God. When we stand before the LORD, we pray that He will see us as His disciples who "have left all, and have followed" Him (Mark 10:28), and not as the wicked and slothful servants - who instead decided to hold on to a dollar's worth of the devil.
- James Lloyd
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