Giving and receiving is a natural and or spiritual law applicable to all. God made it so for man. Giving and receiving is not knowledge exclusive to Christianity. Nature teaches it. Business teaches it. The farmer or the sower knows it. The cultists and mystics too know it. All the false religions too! That today ‘giving’ is becoming a magical word in many Christian circles at the expense of weightier matters is sickening. In Matthew 23:23 Jesus says: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” To relegate first things and weightier issues to the background is fearsome.
The frenzied approach to ‘financial giving and reaping’ sweeping many congregations today smell real carnality, makes us like the children of this generation; and really would hardly turn the sinner’s soul to Christ. After all, there is no global statistic anywhere that shows that church people, let alone those born again, are materially and financially richer than any other group of persons including the false religions. Those people get from Satan, the god of this world. This is not THE reason Jesus Christ came. Jesus came to save souls from sin, from Satan, and to turn them over to God and those so saved and turned over to God He commands to seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, and then adding that He will add to them ‘from God’ those things the children of the world and, sorry to say, many church folks get from Satan, the god of this world, as lure, bait and ensnarement to keep them from the Kingdom of God unto their own eternal damnation. The children of this world or of this generation get these things limitlessly though with chains.
Another Foundation is Perilous!
So, you already would know that this ‘prosperity thing’ brewing in many a pulpit from America to Nigeria and to everywhere in our age has almost always failed as far as genuinely leading sinners to genuine conversion and God’s son-ship is concerned. Many of those false religious folks have in abundance what you are frenzying about. There is something else, something of incomparable importance those people don’t have, and which they need very seriously and very urgently: Salvation of their souls from sin and Satan, which only Christ can make possible!
And, then, the already saved need to know how to live for God acceptably, how to present their bodies unto God as living sacrifices, in holiness, righteousness and in truth; they must know how to worship Him in truth and in spirit and worship Him so; and they must know how to serve Him to His pleasure, which is in holiness and reverent obedience. They must become light of the world, salt of the earth and written epistles read by men to the glory of God and must be thought and rooted in sound doctrine that plants hearts in heaven and lay treasures up there. We must always make them to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. We must always make them to look up and to be conscious of eternity always! For He that will come shall soon come and will not tarry. Let us not take these weightier matters to the background. John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and the early Apostles must know better!
‘Another foundation’ that directly promotes the unrighteous mammon at the expense of the Kingdom of God can only be to our peril, eternal peril. And ‘any foundation’ that indirectly promotes the unrighteous mammon through insincere, feigned and selfish promotions of things God says He will add because the people can easily be preyed on by such things with the result that they (the people) would give and keep giving the unrighteous mammon to feed the lust in the pulpit can only be to our peril, eternal peril!
I believe in miracles. But freely we receive and freely we are commanded to give. But we can only speak here to those who receive from God; those who receive from Jesus Christ! We speak not to those who receive but not from Jesus Christ, for they understandably cannot give it freely; and as many of such who have invaded the church have their damnation waiting for them except they repent while it is still day. But for those of us, who got it freely, freely let us give it: for not to, is one way of becoming ‘workers of iniquity’ on that Great Day of the Lord.
But is this age really the Laodicean age, as some think? Well, be it as it may, may God find us among His few in this age! And I think the Puritans, early Anabaptists, The Brethren, the Huguenots, Society of Friends (Quakers) and the early Pentecostals among others have some things to recommend to us. And Pietism, the German Lutheran reform movement of the 17th and 18th centuries emphasizing individual conversion, “living faith,” and the fruits of faith in daily life must still be part of the emphasis in our age. No age, nation, group or person runs from the Bible, under whatever cover, and gets away with it!
May God once more raise and plant the likes of Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, Tertullian, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, John Huss, Richard Baxter, John Wesley, John Bunyan, George Fox, Watchman Nee and many others on our pulpits! May our literatures relegate the unrighteous mammon, put it where it belongs and let them exalt the heavenly life as in days of yore. Saints of old knew about the existence of the unrighteous mammon before all of us, but they stocked to the Bible and its plain commands and held on to the God of Heaven. They sought the City that has foundation. They were consumed by the weightier matters of the Kingdom and its righteousness, and God never forsook them in the additives, which He adds or gives according to their individual needs and or according to the general need of the larger body through individuals who do not consume them upon their lust. They laid all their treasures in heaven; and so their hearts were there.
Hidden Rocks/Stumbling Blocks and Shipwrecks
No man has his heart in heaven that frenzies about the unrighteous mammon; that feigns scriptures to satisfy the flesh; that speak lies in hypocrisy for belly’s sake or for any other reason for that matter; that make merchandise of the unsuspecting people; and that present fables as the Word of God.
“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” – Jude 1:11-13
Finis Jennings Dake sees “Five comparisons of lascivious teachers” in verse 12 of Jude 1: Spots (Greek: spilas, hidden rocks) in your love feasts on which many shipwrecks are made (1 Tim. 1:19); Clouds without the true refreshing showers of truth (Deut. 32:2); carried away by their passions and licentiousness (2 Peter 2:17); Trees that are diseased and fruitless (Matthew 7:15); Raging waves of the sea, foaming out the wickedness and shame like a troubled sea (Jude 1:13; Isaiah 57:20); Wandering stars or meteors floating about without direction and guidance (Jude 1:13; 2 Peter 2:14-17).
Many shipwrecks have been made by these ‘hidden rocks or spots’ that many ministers and their messages represent; many unsuspecting folks have gone back from the faith and many find it difficult finding the true Christ and the true Gospel because of them. Yet, many other folks with itching ears just like it so, streaming in and out of their emotion-targeted sermons. And how can a people really think they can take Christianity from the realm of the spirit to the realm of emotion! They are ‘clouds without the true refreshing showers of truth’, and the people wade in darkness, a darkness which they think is Christianity. This is what happens when both ministers and people are carried away by their passions and licentiousness. Our age must eschew these ‘trees that are diseased and fruitless’; these ‘raging waves of the sea, foaming out the wickedness and shame like a troubled sea’; and these ‘wandering stars or meteors floating about without direction and guidance’.
Let us do real Christianity; Christianity as we see it in Scriptures. As we did elsewhere, we shall say it here with this hymn of mine, “Certain Men have crept in Unawares”:
Certain men have crept in unawares.
These turn God’s grace into lasciviousness.
Ungodly men, the Scriptures call them,
Ordained of old to this condemnation!
Let us forbid mammon worship;
Let’s not corrupt the Word of God,
Or deal untruly with the Scriptures.
But as of sincerity, but as of God,
In the sight of God, may we speak in Christ.
Through covetousness and by feigned words,
They shamelessly make merchandise of you;
Whose judgment for longtime lingers not,
And just as their damnation slumbers not!
They that are such do not serve the Lord,
But their own belly, their very belly!
And by good words and with fair speeches,
They do deceive the hearts of the simple.
Their very mouth must be stopped brethren.
For verily they subvert whole houses,
Teaching things which they ought not to teach;
And this they do for filthy lucre sake.
Let’s no more walk after our own lust.
Never again should we run greedily
After Balaam’s error for reward!
Let’s spare our pulpits and pews this evil.
Frenzy not about Mammon of Unrighteousness
The admonition of Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-4 must be also to all ministers and church people in our age “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they 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.”
Our age must return to the Bible that drew a real demarcation between heaven and the world; heaven and hell; the narrow way and broad way, and the spirit and the flesh! We cannot worship God and mammon at the same time; and all nation and people that forget God (with His plain commands in Scripture impliedly), He says He will turn into hell. Let us be among the few that find God. And it takes the voice of the Spirit through our spirit and subsequent obedience to be among the few on the narrow way, just as it takes the voice of Satan through our flesh and subsequent obedience to belong to walkers on the broad way, and it does not matter whether we are church folks or even ministers. And interpreting the Scriptures with the flesh has been the ruin of many. Let us seek God’s Kingdom and its righteousness and frenzy not about Mammon of unrighteousness? Let us be in the ministry because of heaven and not otherwise.
The subject matter of giving and its attendant benefits should not attain such magical aura for that is what it is among the cults, mystics and the sundry false religions. Let us not be like the children of this world, for our heavenly Father knows that we need these things and he has promised to add them by Himself if we seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness. The weightier matters of the Kingdom of Heaven and its righteousness cannot be compromised for the unrighteous mammon.
To put this matter where it properly belongs in God’s plan we shall in our next two parts of this series be looking at “Giving and God’s Yardstick of Approval” and then “Learning to give to God Acceptably”.