Posted in john Oliver, pagan, prosperity gospel, scam, sow a seed

John Oliver takes on prosperity televangelists: Why does it take a non-believer to say what Christians all know?

HBO’s John Oliver

Yesterday I wrote about a so-called conservative so-called pastor collecting a very large salary. No, it’s not Joel Osteen. No, it’s not Joyce Meyer, though those two are so-called and are definitely collecting a large salary. Who I wrote about was Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham, whose nearly a million dollar salary from combined corporations Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse was raising eyebrows even among secular CEOs.

Today then, it seems fitting to follow that up with a post about excessive money-grubbing from excessively greedy pastors. But it’s really a post about how a pagan is showing us up.

John Oliver is a comedian.You will know him from Jon Stewart’s Comedy Central show “The Daily Show” in past years. He’s British, he’s pagan, and he’s finally had enough of the in-your-face money grubbing televangelists begging for money from gullible people.

A few days ago, Oliver performed a sketch on his show “Last Week Tonight” regarding how some televangelists are blatant about seeking money for money’s sake from people who watch their show- AND call their organization a church. The following article is from Addicting Info. The sketch is still having its effect.

John Oliver May Have Just Forced The IRS To Consider Taxing Greedy Televangelists
AUTHOR: STEPHEN D FOSTER JR AUGUST 24, 2015 10:42 AM

It could be the end of the line for televangelists who fleece their own flocks to make themselves wealthy, and it’s all thanks to John Oliver.
Last Sunday, Oliver spent 20 minutes eviscerating prosperity gospel televangelists who advocate a sort of trickle-down policy when it comes to donations. According to preachers like Creflo Dollar, the more money people donate so that he can be wealthy and own mansions and private jets, the more likely it is that God will favor them and make them prosper in return.

“They preach something called the prosperity gospel which argues that wealth is a sign of God’s favor and donations will result in wealth coming back to you,” Oliver explained the scam. 

“That idea sometimes takes the form of seed faith – the notion that donations are seeds that you will one day get to harvest. The argument is ‘sow your money into the ground, you will reap returns multiple times over,’ except as an investment you’d be better off burying your money in the actual ground because at least that way there’s a chance your dog may dig it up and give it back to you one day.”

The scam has resulted in a transfer of millions upon millions of dollars from church-goers who are already struggling while their pastor gets to live a wealthy lifestyle completely funded by the congregation. For years, televangelists have gotten away with this by taking advantage of the tax system by declaring their operations as religious organizations. Current tax law allows churches to be tax-exempt and the IRS largely fails to investigate to make sure that churches are churches and not scams by so-called “pastors” designed to make themselves rich. But all of that could now change. According to a new report by CBS, the IRS is under a lot of pressure to tax televangelists in light of John Oliver’s exposure of the corrupt practice of prosperity gospel.

Someone was brave enough to call it what it is…what we all understand and know that it is: a scam.

Now, this behavior is certainly nothing new. Simon the Magician tried to buy the Holy Spirit for this very purpose.

Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. (Acts 8:17-21)

His heart was not right before God. Why?

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. (Matthew 6:24)

The motivation of a false Christian is money. It is one way to tell if someone is false. Not the fact they have money, it’s their love of it that is the telling indicator. Many verse speak to this.

[ Qualifications for Overseers ] The saying is trustworthy: 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, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money... (1 Timothy 3:1-3)

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:10)

Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless–not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. (Titus 1:7)

Paul prophesied that in the time of the end (the time between Jesus’ ascension and His return) some within the church will be false and godless and because of this, times will be difficult he said to avoid these people. Some few of the behaviors these godless ones will exhibit are listed, and ‘loving money’ is one of the traits.

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (2 Timothy 3:2)

So if all this is laid out in the Bible for us to see clearly, and if it is even prophesied to Christians as a certainty, why is so much of the general Christian population either so undiscerning as not to notice or so cowardly so as not to stand up?

Why does it take a pagan to point this out?

Not that many Christians haven’t been doing their part to sound the alarm. Many have. Even many leaders with a platform almost as influential as Oliver’s have done tremendous works in the name of Jesus to combat the dangerous doctrines and those who bring them.

But too many others don’t wish to “name names”, “make waves”, or “play hardball.” Church discipline has gone by the wayside, or else turned into something the Pharisees would have approved of. (John 9:22)

So how is the Christian to do his or her part to combat creeping prosperity Gospel into their own church? Yes, you. It is up to each individual Christian to do their part with the amount of discernment they have cultivated in and by the Spirit. Though discernment is a spiritual gift given to some, all Christians can and should cultivate a red flag alert by studying the Bible and prayer and constant confession and obedience to Jesus and His commands. Here is John MacArthur in a 2-minute clip explaining “Every Believer’s Responsibility.” (Though the clip looks dead, it isn’t)

It isn’t easy. As MacArthur ended the clip, he said to go to the pastor or leader lovingly, privately, but to do it. Sometimes, often times, as a matter of fact in my experience, the reactions are not of love returned. You might get a “reputation”. You might be asked to leave the church a la Pharisee-style. you might be gossiped about. You might be ignored. You might be patronized like a little girl with a pat on the head and an admonition not to take it all so seriously. In rare, beautiful cases, you might be listened to and the pastor or leader might actually go back and check through his Bible and see that you’re right. The latter case is rare.

So why go through all that if there is a good chance your message won’t be listened to? For 4 reasons. This list is certainly not exhaustive.

First, your message might be listened to. You never know. The goal of correcting someone’s doctrine is restoration, love, and  drawing them back into the fold. The Spirit might graciously draw that person back through your conversation, especially if you stick to the Word.

Secondly, though we do it out of love and concern for the person teaching or preaching the error, ultimately we have an audience of One. Jesus is the Head of the church and has charged us to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8)  and to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). We take witnessing seriously. We take discipling seriously. We don’t walk away when a disciple of Jesus Christ begins to wander, or who brings in false doctrine that makes others stumble.

Third, pointing these things out helps to uncover who is true and who is false. A true disciple of Jesus Christ will hear you out and maybe they will become angry. But afterward they will calm down and the message will begin to work in them and they will come back to you in humility to apologize, and to learn more. A false witness of Jesus Christ will perhaps ignore, become dismissive, be angry…but if there is no effect then or later it is a sign that the Spirit perhaps is not in them and it is their flesh doing the driving.

Last, we check against scripture then point out the error so a pagan doesn’t have to.

——————————-

Further Reading

Who Needs Church Discipline When You Can Have Church Growth Instead? — or  — Church growth without church purity

Posted in david platt, missional, prosperity gospel, radical

Do I have to be uncomfortable to be a real Christian?

The Prosperity Gospel

I agree that the American church has a lot to answer for when we all meet Jesus. The prosperity gospel has sunk in deep and permeated every corner of the US. Now it’s exported abroad, and polluting churches in India and Africa and elsewhere. The prosperity gospel is no gospel. It teaches congregants to indulge their flesh, seek worldly things, and keep their eyes focused laterally instead of vertically. Joel Osteen is a master of this kind of gospel.

Joel Osteen flatly laid out the main precepts of Prosperity gospel out in a 2005 letter to his flock. “God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us,” Osteen wrote.

No, that’s not what God wants us to do. God wants us to live holy lives, pick up our cross, obey Him, be witnesses for His name, worship Him, be wise, and share the true Gospel all over the world, among other things. (1 Peter 1:15, John 4:24, Matthew 16:24, 1 John 5:2-3, Matthew 10:16, Matthew 28:19). The destiny he laid out for us includes trouble, persecution, hatred, and hardships, (John 16:33, John 15:18, Acts 14:22, 2 Corinthians 6:4).

The “prosperity gospel,” an insipid heresy whose popularity among American Christians has boomed in recent years, teaches that God blesses those God favors most with material wealth.
Cathleen Falsani

Wikipedia gives a quick overview of how this insidious gospel came to the fore:

It was during the Healing Revivals of the 1950s that prosperity theology first came to prominence in the United States, although commentators have linked the origins of its theology to the New Thought movement which began in the 1800s. The prosperity teaching later figured prominently in the Word of Faith movement and 1980s televangelism. In the 1990s and 2000s, it was adopted by influential leaders in the Charismatic Movement and promoted by Christian missionaries throughout the world, sometimes leading to the establishment of mega-churches. Prominent leaders in the development of prosperity theology include E. W. Kenyon, Oral Roberts, A. A. Allen, Robert Tilton, T. L. Osborn, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, David O. Oyedepo and Kenneth Hagin.

The Prosperity gospel was preached so heavily on televangelist tv channels throughout the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, that the 2010 David Platt book “Radical” touched a nerve and swept the pendulum rapidly in the other direction.

The Uncomfortable Gospel

The book blurb for Radical states:

It’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily…But who do you know who lives like that? Do you?

The book challenged Americans to reassess their commitment to the Gospel and make changes if necessary. Making sure that we are living biblically in submissive commitment to Christ is a worthy reassessment, but many people feel (me included) that the book made it sound like if you were living a normal life that happened to include comforts, you were somehow less committed Christian. Tim Challies reviewed Radical in 2011, saying,

First, I think our attempts to live radically can ignore the Bible’s concern that we be radically godly in character. There is no doubt that I am called by God to live sacrificially and generously. My first calling, though, is to know God, to be shaped by him and on that basis to preach the gospel and to live as if it is true. I am called to do all of this right where the Lord has placed me. This means that there is great dignity and great value in doing whatever it is that I want to do, like to do, and can honor God doing. We do not all need to be foreign missionaries and evangelists; we do not all need to move to faraway lands. We can (and must!) primarily honor God in whatever it is he has given us to do. I am concerned that it is difficult to read this book and believe its message and not feel that normal life is dishonoring to God.

However despite book reviews of Radical stating these same concerns, and a subtle rebuttal by John MacArthur titled An Unremarkable Faith, the pendulum swung hard toward ditching everything and running off to Bali barefoot to evangelize whoever happened to be in the way. The collateral damage of this pendulum swing included a backlash against Suburban Christians and suburbia in general. This is where it gets personal.

I agree with Challies. I have not been called to be a missionary in Tonga. I am not called to be a preacher’s wife in the 10/40 belt. I am not a bible smuggler living dangerously in China or North Korea. I am a white, middle aged Christian woman living in rural/suburban Georgia. I go to a boring ole Baptist church with regular people who have a variety of blue collar jobs, or are farmers, or work in professional settings. I drive the 7 miles to school every day, assist children in Kindergarten, and drive home. I enjoy covered dish suppers, grocery shopping at the same place where I know all the checkout ladies, and banking at a small town bank where they know my name when I come in.

I live where there are rural farms all around including my own rental property where the lambs are about to be born any day! But horror of horrors, there are also ‘suburban’ subdivisions nearby, malls a half hour away, and a McDonald’s within a few minutes.

I don’t make a lot of money and in fact have to watch every penny, but I know by global standards I’m rich. I am comfortable in every aspect of my life, from what I drive, to what I wear, to where I worship, to where I work. Suburbia has gotten a very bad rep. I live in suburban-ish America, and according to many liberal and hipster Christians, I’m doing Christianity wrong.

Hipsters: It’s cool to Hate the ‘Burbs

Like this:

I asked Mr NickDon the following:

“Is there something sinful about living in a house in suburbia that will bring woe?” and of course I never received a straight answer.

In his piece “Why Do We Hate The Suburbs?” author Keith Miller pointed out the flaw in ‘burb-hate.

Here are a few of the most prominent Christian objections to living in the suburbs. How many of them hold up to even a slight bit of scrutiny?

Suburbs are inauthentic: I confess to not quite understanding what this means. Yes, suburban things are often newer and feature less exposed brick, but how is that a moral argument?
Suburbs are consumeristic: No more than large cities.
Suburbs are morally repressive: Wait, overt exhibition of immorality is a good thing?
Suburbs lack diversity: The most diverse places in the country are suburbs.
Suburbs are full of a lot of Evangelicals who vote Republican: Oh, wait, now we are getting somewhere…

Obviously, each of these charges deserves a post of its own to address these issues with the requisite nuance, but even the one-liner responses should cause us to think. Why are we down on suburbs? Do we have a biblically grounded objection rooted in our personal experiences, or have we merely baptized a secular prejudice and called it Christian ethics?

Why do Christians hate the suburbs? Or if hate is too strong a word, why do so many disparage it? The question was asked by Matthew Lee Anderson in his 2013 article “Is Radical Christianity Radical Enough?

David Platt, Francis Chan, Shane Claiborne, and now Kyle Idleman are dominating the Christian best-seller lists by attacking our comfortable Christianity. But is ‘radical faith’ enough? … Really. If there’s a word that sums up the radical movement, that’s it. Platt’s Radical opens with it, by describing what “radical abandonment to Jesus really means.” Idleman says he’s going to tell us “what it really means to follow Jesus.” Furtick says that “if we really believe God is an abundant God … we ought to be digging all kinds of ditches [for when he sends the rain, as Elisha did in 2 Kings 3:16-20].” Do those who lead mediocre, nonradical lives for Jesus really believe at all?

And there is exposed the subtle two-tiered system that books like Radical instituted. Therein lay the insidious mindset by these holier than thous, that the millions of people living and worshiping and witnessing in suburbia are ‘lesser-than.’

I reject that notion because of one important factor. This is where God put me.

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, (Acts 17:26)

God made the nations and all the peoples in the nations. He placed each one of us where He wants us, whether it be India or Canada, suburban Ohio or metropolitan Paris. He is sovereign and in His will and plan it pleased Him to give me this life. Who am I to speak back to God? Or worse, who am I to disparage His plan for me and many others He has set forth?

Yes- it would be sin if I lived in a comfortable environment and felt the call to become a missionary in Burma and refused Him because I was comfortable. Yes, I understand the original intent of the book Radical was to get us to reject sinking into a mealy mouthed Christianity because we’re surrounded by comfort.

The true fact is, no matter where a person lives, if they are doing Christianity ‘right’, it is not comfortable. It takes commitment, energy, a proactive stance, and diligence.  Matthew Lee Anderson concluded his piece this way-

The Good Samaritan wasn’t a good neighbor because he moved to a poor part of town or put a pile of trash in his living room. He came across the helpless victim “as he traveled.” We begin to fulfill the command not when we do something radical, extreme, over the top, not when we’re really spiritual or really committed or really faithful, but when in the daily ebb and flow of life, in our corporate jobs, in our middle-class neighborhoods, on our trips to Yellowstone and Disney World—and yes, even short-term mission trips—we stop to help those whom we meet in everyday life, reaching out in quiet, practical, and loving ways.

The essence of Christianity is loving your neighbor. Suburbia needs loving neighbors ‘reaching out in quiet ways’ just as much as the poor need help in Calcutta or the lost need help in Afghanistan. The daily grind of being a faithful witness for Jesus occurs all over the world, in jungles, mountain villages, cities, farming communities, and suburban plats. I reject the Prosperity gospel, and I also reject the Uncomfortable gospel. I accept and live by the only Gospel.

The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia summarizes the gospel message this way: The central truth of the gospel is that God has provided a way of salvation for men through the gift of His son to the world. He suffered as a sacrifice for sin, overcame death, and now offers a share in His triumph to all who will accept it. The gospel is good news because it is a gift of God, not something that must be earned by penance or by self-improvement (Jn 3:16; Rom 5:8–11; II Cor 5:14–19; Titus 2:11–14).

Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 15:4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve…( 1 Corinthians 15:1-5)

Posted in arminianism, glory, prosperity gospel, sovereignty

The Doctrine of Election is biblical

With a HT to Do Not Be Surprised, I pass along this link to a great article explaining the biblical doctrine of election. It is easy to understand and clearly makes the case that God chooses us for salvation
Pick me, pick me, Unconditional Election, Pt. 2. By the time the author gets to the end he has explained it so biblically that his conclusion makes logical sense:

Your objection might be this: I don’t believe that God would chose some and not all. That’s fine, but don’t say “I don’t believe in election,” say” I don’t believe the Bible.”

Again with a HT to Do Not Be Surprised, I found this article helpful also. It is from the steady and biblical folks at 9 Marks, explaining how the prosperity gospel has crept into much of Christianity as a softer version.
A Softer Prosperity Gospel: More Common Than You Think

Jeremiah lamented that Jerusalem refused to repent. His lament was one that is of a striking parallel today. This is what we see too:

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her. Though they say, “As the Lord lives,” yet they swear falsely.

Though this is what we see on the ground, it is not what God sees from above. Through Jesus, His Son, He sees a glorious future for His Son’s Bride and a coronation for His Son. This future is so sure that in heaven it it of the now. Soon, on the ground we will come into our future!

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:5)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further reading:

What is the Doctrine of Election?

Is the doctrine of Election biblical?

Posted in faith, foxe's book of martyrs, prosperity gospel

Sunday Martyr Moment: Of pious blood, and prosperity Gospel

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249

Karitena, municipal seat of ancient Gortyna, Greece

Lucius, the governor of Crete, ordered Cyril, the 84-year-old overseer of the church at Gortyna, to be arrested for refusing to obey the edict to perform sacrifices to the idols. When Cyril appeared before him, Lucius exhorted him to perform the sacrifices and thereby save himself from a horrible death. the godly man replied that he had long taught others the way to eternal life in Christ, and now he must stand firm for the sake of his own soul. He displayed no fear when Lucius condemned him to be burned at the stake, and suffered the flames joyously and with great courage.

The persecution raged in no place more than the Island of Crete; for the governor, being exceedingly active in executing the imperial decrees, that place streamed with pious blood.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“God wants to increase you financially, by giving you promotions, fresh ideas and creativity.”
“God wants us to have healthy, positive self-images, to see ourselves as priceless treasures.  He wants us to feel good about ourselves.”
“You will often receive preferential treatment simply because your Father is the King of kings, and His glory and honor spill over onto you.” 
“If you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you…”
“It’s going to happen… Suddenly, your situation will change for the better…He will bring your dreams to pass.”
~~Joel Osteen

 If Foxe’s Book of Martyrs isn’t enough of a rebuke against the Prosperity Gospel, I don’t know what is.

Posted in babylon, prosperity gospel

Follow the money! To Bankruptcy, that is

When we think of bankruptcy we always think of material bankruptcy. Someone went broke. Someone had money, and they don’t any more. Bankrupt.

What we never think of is spiritual bankruptcy. We never ponder that we are all bankrupt. “What?” You ask? “I have money in my bank account and my bills are paid.” No, we are born sinners, bankrupt of the spirit that we need to come into alignment with Jesus, which is the spirit of repentance for our sins.

His glory is that men respond to His call for repentance and come out of spiritual bankruptcy because of His grace and mercy. It is the highest act of a Holy God to redeem men.

Sadly, we live in a time when there is much material bankruptcy but also much spiritual bankruptcy. There is spiritual bankruptcy in the church. The Prosperity Gospel, also known as Name it-Claim it, the Health-Wealth Gospel or the Word of Faith Gospel, permeate today’s Laodicean Church of America. The Prosperity Gospel is spiritually bankrupt.

I wrote a blistering essay on the view Jesus holds of the last church in the Church Age. We are in that phase now, and it is called the Laodicean Church. I wrote about what Jesus says of this church, here.

Jesus said of this last church they will say “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’” This is a direct quote of what Jesus said the last church will say of themselves. He abhors this church. He vomits it out of His mouth. (Revelation 3:14-22). How did we get here? What happened?

False philosophies don’t just appear, they have always existed, since the Garden when satan exhibited pride and sought to diminish God before men. All philosophies stem from this, in various iterations. As far back as 1860 (or so) Charles Spurgeon preached:

“I believe that it is anti-Christian and unholy for any Christian to live with the object of accumulating wealth. You will say, “Are we not to strive all we can to get all the money we can?” You may do so. I cannot doubt but what, in so doing, you may do service to the cause of God. But what I said was that to live with the object of accumulating wealth is anti-Christian.”

Even further back, Jonathan Edwards preached in the 1700s, that “On judgment day even the condemned will testify against unfaithful ministers for their failure to seek the salvation of souls. Such ministers neglect the proper work of the ministry and attend chiefly to accumulating wealth. “They will face a dreadful Judgment.” “Those precious souls who were committed to our care lost through neglect will rise up in judgment against us and shall declare how we neglected their souls.” (source, book “The salvation of souls: nine previously unpublished sermons on the call of ministry and the Gospel” by Jonathan Edwards.)

Prosperity Gospel is nothing new. But our response to it, is.

Hearken to a warning from even further back. Jesus’ warning of the Laodicean Church was not only condemning a general attitude of the last church in the Church Age, but was a letter to an actual church in 90AD. It was read at the church in Laodicea. It is real. Jesus warned the actual Laodicean Church that accumulating wealth for wealth’s sake will lead to them being blind, poor, naked and unrighteous. By poor, I believe He meant poor in not having the treasure of Jesus as the primary consideration of their heart.

We receive other biblical warnings about the gangrenous effect of replacing the treasure of Jesus with the idol of money.

“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you.” (James 5:1-6)

The Holy Spirit causes James to write that the rich will weep. There is no getting around that. The rich will weep. They will howl. They will be miserable. Not that money is bad, but look what the verse goes on to say they did with it: they accumulated it in the last days. They defrauded. They cheated honest workers. Do we see these conditions now? Yes.

So that is the second verse that shames and condemns the church that trades spiritual treasures for material wealth. Revelation 3:14-22 tells us, James 5:1-6 tells us. And now Jesus tells us in Matthew the same warnings. In Matthew 13:22, Jesus explains the parable of the sower. He says, “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.”

The deceitfulness of riches chokes the Word.

In Matthew 6:19 Jesus warns, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:”

Paul warns Timothy, in 1 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.”

Focusing on wealth makes us stray. It chokes the word. It makes us howl. It produces misery. And if we pursue material wealth at the expense of Jesus and to the exclusion of Jesus, we will be vomited out His mouth.

Do we take heed?

Money is good and useful for advancing the Kingdom of God. It is great for showing the love of Jesus through giving to our neighbor. But if we accumulate it, hoard it, gain it by deceptive means, we succumb to its inherent evil, because then money has been separated from its intent: to show the glory of Jesus. Be warned.

Revelation 18:4-5 is the end of the end of the prosperity gospel. It is last chance Texaco, the bitter end of the sin of riches come to full fruition. See, even as the harlot economic Babylon is almost at her final moment, in His mercy He still calls us out of the deceitfulness of her riches!

“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.” (Revelation 18:4-5)

But then the damnation comes. It is where this has all been leading since the American Prosperity Gospel polluted the American church in the twentieth century, since Charles Spurgeon warned us not to accumulate riches in the nineteenth century, since Jonathan Edwards preached against ministers accumulating wealth at the expense of their charge of lost souls, since satan in the garden tempted man with the notion that satan has more to offer than God does, we have been chugging down this road. It all ends in Revelation 18.

“In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.” (Rev 18:4-5, 7-8).

Use your money for the Glory of God. Check your motivations for accumulating it. And combat the Prosperity Gospel as the evil daughter of the Harlot Babylon that it is. Don’t be spiritually bankrupt. Work, labor, be paid, and give back joyfully. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
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