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Category Archives: Greed

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A Horrible Illness Is Going Around
By John Stallings

Raining MoneyThere’s an illness going around. You’ve definitely heard of it, even if not by the name used here. It’s not the bird flu. It’s not the regular flu for which many have already gotten flu shots. It’s not one of the more notable illnesses, like AIDS, or HIV. But I’m sure you’ve heard of it. In fact, everyone has seen its devastating effects.

Some have seen it up close and personally. Some have experienced it themselves, or seen a loved one devastated by it. Some are plagued with this illness, perhaps a mild case only affecting a part of their life, but infected nonetheless.

The scary thing is how contagious it is, and how susceptible all of us are to this illness. Any of us can get the illness, and all of us have to take ongoing precautions against getting it. If we let our guard down, and don’t take illness prevention steps, it’s likely we’ll be infected.

Though we’ve heard many warnings about how this illness can affect us, we tend to think: No, not me; I won’t get this illness; I won’t be affected.

Let’s look at a passage of scripture that gives a warning about this illness, and then I’ll share with you a modern-day name for it. Continue reading “The Epidemic Illness Affecting Millions” »

As I stated on the previous post, I am convinced this whole matter I am discussing in these previous several posts is far from being a mere side-bar, but rather is a prophetic warning from God. I believe it is a critical Kingdom Matter that the Church must turn its attention to in order to be delivered from the dastardly and destructive spirit of mammon that now pervades the Church. Many individuals in the Church are obsessed with the spirit of materialism, and if they continue in their ways and in giving place to the devil, what is an obsession now, will continue to escalate and take more and more ground in their heart until materialism, the love of money, will totally possess them. Some who were once bona fide believers and members of the Body of Christ, have become apostate in their heart having yielded to the allure of purely material “wealth,” and as a result are already possessed by the spirit of mammon.

I believe the judgment that MUST begin with the household of God has begun, and will continue in the form of the economic collapse America and the nations of the world are facing. But, as I have written in so many words in so many of my writings, this judgment that God is bringing upon the Church precedent to the judgment He shall bring upon the world is a judgment of purification and refinement. It is a corrective and reproving judgment to purify the Lamb’s Wife for the imminent return of Christ to claim His Betrothed as His Eternal Bride and Helpmate suitable to partner with Him in the judgment of the nations in the Day of His Fierce Wrath.

The love of money, or covetousness, certainly is the root of all evil, and it causes a complete breach in one’s fellow­ship with God. Jesus said, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Lk. 12:15). As we have already seen, Paul said those who have coveted riches, often “have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang” (1 Tim. 6:10). Hence, we can see that covetousness and greed can most certainly cause a believer to “wander away from the faith,” that is, become apostate subsequent to salvation.

The Consequences of Covetousness
As Jesus said, no one can successfully serve two masters, God and money. He said that if you “love,” that is, attribute your affections to and expend the vast majority of your energies pursuing, money, you in effect “hate” God. As the Apostle John put it, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15).

“Out of touch,” irrational, and unduly harsh, these undeniably Biblical Truths are considered in this day when the pursuit of riches has come to be regarded as a wholly noble and honorable pursuit, and when Christians have become indoctrinated with the concept that materialistic obsession is even godly. Moreover, anyone who dares to preach such concepts is subjected to scorn, ridicule, and contempt. Christendom today, for the most part, has lost sight of or does not want to recognize the Truth that covet­ousness is still sin for which there is a penalty if it is not repented from. The unadulterated Truth is this: anyone who fails to repent of covetousness will ultimately end up out of fellowship with God, will be disqualified from Eternal Life, precluded from inheriting the Kingdom of God, and ban­ished from Heaven unto eternal judgment. The following scriptures trumpet forth warnings to that effect:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor IDOLATORS, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor THE COVETOUS, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor SWIN­DLERS, SHALL INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. (1 Cor. 6:9,10)

For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or COVETOUS MAN, WHO IS AN IDOLATER, HAS AN INHERITANCE IN THE KING­DOM OF CHRIST AND GOD. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things THE WRATH OF GOD COMES UPON THE SONS OF DIS­OBEDIENCE. (Eph. 5:5, 6)

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:…IDOLATRY…of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that THOSE WHO PRACTICE SUCH THINGS SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD. (Gal. 5:19‑21)

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murders and immoral persons and sorcerers and IDOLA­TERS and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Rev. 21:8)

Everyone should heed God’s warnings concerning the deceitfulness of riches and covetousness, including and especially believers, since it will most definitely choke the Word and prevent it from bringing forth fruit. Probably no warning in this regard is more poignant than the one Jesus issued through the medium of the parable of the rich fool:

And He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a certain rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘This is what I will do; I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Lk. 12:15‑21)

God called this man “a FOOL.” In his covetousness and greed he just stored up his goods, and as they increased, he merely built more barns to store up more goods. But, on the night his soul was required of him, he was spiritually bankrupt. He had stored up all his riches for himself, instead of being generous with it unto others in obedience to God. He was rich toward himself, but “not rich toward God.” God said to him, “You fool!”

The Word of God tells us to “give” (Lk. 6:38), not to “store up.” We are to be generous, giving to others who are in need and for the preaching of the Gospel. God Himself is generous, and is always giving. He gave the supreme gift of His only begotten Son, the best He had, to us for our salva­tion. A godly person, i.e., one who is like God, will also be a giving person. As a bonus, God says that whatever we give on behalf of Jesus unto the needy and for the sake of the preaching of the Gospel, will be returned to us in up to one‑hundredfold measure, NOW in this life and age, and in the age to come we will have the reward of Eternal Life (Mk. 10:29,30).

Jesus taught that the way to keep from being covetous and deluded by the deceitfulness of riches is to lay up our treasures in Heaven by giving on His behalf here on Earth. If we are covetous and greedily store up here on Earth instead, it will be constantly subjected to depletion by various forms of “thieves break(ing) in to steal” and eco­nomic modulation. If we are generous givers here on Earth, however, we will be storing up treasures in Heaven. But even greater than that, we will be demonstrating where our heart and what our “treasure” really is—things in Heaven, or things on the Earth:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Mat. 6:19‑21)

Covetousness Not Exclusive to Rich
Having said all this concerning covetousness, it needs to be pointed out that there is a common misconception in this regard that covetousness is found exclusively among those who would be considered financially rich. But, that is a fallacy. You do not have to be rich to be covetous and caught up in the love of money. There are myriads with financial resources below the wealthy level who are covetous and deceived by the deceitfulness of riches. The fact is: there are many times more non‑wealthy people who harbor covetousness in their hearts than there are those who are rich and covetous.

The harsh truth is that their covetousness is often the very thing that keeps the poor reeling under the cruel curse of never‑ending poverty and financial lack. Sadly, the poor often stay poor because in their covetousness, or in some cases fear of lack, they never sow any financial seed, thereby precluding them from ever reaping a harvest. Those, on the other hand, who are generous givers, find the Law of Sowing and Reaping continually producing for them an abundant harvest that supplies their every need.

Summary
In bringing this series to a close, let me offer this summary concerning the second “thorn of worldliness.” Do not be deceived by the deceitfulness of riches. Place all your trust in God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Riches will fail you; God will never fail you. Riches are temporal, and only indigenous to this life; Jesus Christ is the True Riches of Eternity. Do not seek riches, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these THINGS shall be added to you” (Mat. 6:33).

It seems to me that the best attitude concerning riches one can adopt is found in the Proverbs of Solomon: “Do not worry yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it”; and, “Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the good that is my portion” (Pr. 23:4; 30:8).

If we will seek the Kingdom and righteousness of God rather than riches, the Word of God will not be choked by the worldly “thorn” of “the deceitfulness of riches,” allowing it to produce the fruit of the Kingdom of God in our lives, that is, if we also remove from our lives the three thorns of worldliness Jesus warned about in the “Parable of the Sower. — “the desires for other things.” We examine that deadly thorn in the next chapter.[end]

The above is taken from a book I published in 1984 entitled, “The Mystery of the Kingdom.” Its message has turned out to be a timely prophetic message for every believer and the Church today. I urge you to read it. Click here for more information.

Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion. (Prv. 30:8)

As I have been indicating in some previous posts, in many Kingdom-related matters, the difference between truth and error is excesses and extremes. Those excesses extremes can be at either end of the spectrum.

Such is the case with the real truth regarding the matter of prosperity and success versus whatever is the diametric opposite of that, which I suppose is poverty and failure. The real truth, that is, the Truth of the mind of God that is both concealed and revealed in Christ through the Spirit of Truth, lies somewhere between these opposing messages. The extremes on both sides are error and deception. We must be careful not to swerve too far to either side so as to fall into a spiritual ditch of error. There are a great number of passages of Scripture telling us how much God indeed does want us to “prosper and be in (good) health even as our soul prospers” (3 Jn. 2). But, the last part of that Scripture is the weightier and balancing part. From God’s perspective, true prosperity is commensurate with soul-prosperity, and not defined by the amount of mammon, or material things, we possess. Prosperity and success, and divine healing and health, taken to extremes and taken out of context of the rest of Scripture that speaks of counterbalancing matters can become an abomination to God: “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD; but a just weight is His delight” (Prv. 11:1).

(Please read the preface on the previous post for more on this aspect.)

Before I get to the topic of this post, I feel compelled to say I truly believe that this whole matter I am discussing in these posts are far from being a mere side-bar. I feel what I am about to say is of a prophetic nature. I believe it is a critical Kingdom Matter that the Church must turn its attention to in order to be delivered from the dastardly and destructive spirit of mammon that now pervades the Church. Many individuals in the Church are obsessed with the spirit of materialism, and if they continue in their ways and in giving place to the devil, what is an obsession now, will continue to escalate and take more and more ground in their heart until materialism, the love of money, will totally possess them. Some who were once bona fide believers and members of the Body of Christ, have become apostate in their heart having yielded to the allure of purely material “wealth,” and as a result are already possessed by the spirit of mammon. I believe the judgment that MUST begin with the household of God has begun, and will continue in the form of the economic collapse America and the nations of the world are facing. But, as I have written in so many words in so many of my writings, this judgment that God is bringing upon the Church precedent to the judgment He shall bring upon the world is a judgment of purification and refinement. It is a corrective and reproving judgment to purify the Lamb’s Wife for the imminent return of Christ to claim His Betrothed as His Eternal Bride and Helpmate suitable to partner with Him in the judgment of the nations in the Day of His Fierce Wrath.

What I see is that there is two sides of this coin regarding this matter of God’s provision for us. The focus of the previous post was what the Word of God tells us about God’s desire to prosper and abundantly bless His people. Like Abraham, he has promised to not only bless us, but also make us a blessing. In this and the next post, my focus will be the abundance of Scripture that counterbalance the “prosperity” side of the same coin.

The Parable of the Sower (see, Mark 4:1-20), according to what Jesus Himself said about it, could be aptly called “The Paramount Parable.” When His disciples asked Him to explain it to them, He responded, as He did on several other occasions, with seeming frustration at their spiritual dullness, saying, “Do you not understand this parable? And how will you understand all the parables?” Jesus also indicated that this parable contained the key to understanding the “Mystery of the Kingdom.” That is the title of a book I wrote and published in 1984 in which I explained what the Lord showed me concerning the meaning of this Paramount Parable and the “secrets” it unveils of how to bear Kingdom Fruit as well as “hidden” principles of how the Kingdom of God operates here on Earth. The rest of this post is taken from that book. Click here to read more about the book, which is available in both e-book and print versions.

Mark 4:7,18,19
7 And other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.
18 And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word,
19 and the worries of the word, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Jesus identified in the Parable of the Sower four different categories of hearers, all of whom heard the Word, though only one responded properly and became doers of the Word, thereby producing Kingdom Fruit in their lives. As Jesus said, the Seed of the Word of God was sown on this category of hearers, which means they heard the Word, but there were also thorns growing in their lives along with the Word that eventually choked out the Seed, and thus it “yielded no crop” — that is, it produced no Kingdom Fruit in the lives of these hearers. In His explanation to the disciples, Jesus indicated these thorns were “thorns of worldliness,” and identified them as being, 1) the worries of the world, 2) the deceitfulness of riches, and 3) the desires for other things. He said these thorns of worldliness entered into these believers’ lives, and choked out the Seed which was sown into their lives by the Sower (Fivefold Ministers) as the two grew together in the soil of their hearts, and prevented the Word from becoming fruitful. In the previous post we began examining one of those thorns of worldliness — “the deceitfulness of riches.” I continue that discussion by addressing the Idolatry of Trusting in Riches, taken from the book, The Mystery of the Kingdom.

Idolatry of Trusting in Riches
God says He is a “jealous God,” and that we are to have no other gods before Him, and that we are not to make or serve any idols (Ex. 20:1-5). An idol, or false god, is something you attribute undue homage and affection to, or something you trust in and place your faith in and look to, to deliver you, and to help you overcome the adversities of life, and to attain unto personal desires, ambitions, and aspirations.

By that definition, money is the false god of multitudes of people in this world. This has always been true, but never more so than it is in this last day in which we live, something which was explicitly prophesied by the Spirit, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, LOVERS OF MONEY…” (2 Tim. 3:1,2). Money, however, is such a vain thing in which to trust. God says, “He who trusts in riches will fall” (Pr. 11:28). Riches are only temporal, they do not last forever. They can be here one day and gone the next, as the following scriptures indicate:

For riches are not forever. (Pr. 27:24);

Do not worry yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth surely makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. (Pr. 23:4,5);

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to…fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches but on God. (1 Tim. 6:17);

Let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind, and withers the grass, and its flower falls off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. (Jas. 1:10,11);

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. (Jas. 5:1-3);

But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into this world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. (1 Tim. 6:6,7);

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (Mat. 6:19)

Without realizing it, multitudes in the world today have made money their god. They trust in it to deliver them from every adversity of life, for personal validation and to give them a sense of dignity and rightness, to afford them prestige and preeminence, to garner for themselves the favor and deference society bestows upon the wealthy, and to provide them with a sense of security, satisfaction, and fulfillment. In a nutshell, people look to money and riches to give them the peace, happiness, contentment, and sense of general well-being to which people commonly aspire. It is in looking to money to supply all this, that people unconsciously make money their god, notwithstanding the adamant denials of most that they have done so in their own case.

But, it is Jehovah God who is the true Supplier of all these things, and He desires that people recognize Him as such. In fact, all these things can only be realized in their truest form through fellowship with God. To seek any other object or entity as a source of these things is idolatry, and is making a false god of that object or entity.

The love of money, or covetousness, which is idolatry, is a natural motivation of the carnal nature which is inherent within us all, however (Eph. 5:5; Gal. 5:19,20). In varying degrees, before we were saved and began renewing our minds according to the Word of God, we all trusted in money for all the things we are supposed to trust God to accomplish in our lives. Thus, most people commit their entire lives and energies in the quest to acquire more and more money, the more the better. They seem to think that the more diligent they are in the pursuit of it, the more favorable the false god of money will be to them. The more they have of it, the more it will deliver them from the adversities and tribulations of life, and fulfill the various yearnings of their heart. So they think.

How often have we all thought at one time or another in our lives, “If I can just get this one bill paid off, then I just know everything will be alright.” Or, “If I can just get that new car,” or “that new house,” or whatever, “I just know everything will be fine, then.” Or, “If I can just save up $10,000 in my savings account,” or “make this one great stock purchase,” or “buy this new business,” or “get that new job,” or “that promotion,” or “that raise,” — “well, everything will be great then!”

That, my friend, like it or not, is IDOLATRY. It is placing a false trust in money. It is making money your god. It is trusting in riches, and in your own power to make wealth. But, even more than all that, such reasoning indicates you have been deceived by “the deceitfulness of riches!” The truth of the matter is that once you do get that one bill paid off, you only get more and even larger bills to contend with, and everything is still not “alright.” Or, have you ever noticed, after you buy that new house or car, everything is still not “fine?” Or you save up that $10,000, or purchase those stocks, or buy that new business, or you land that new job, or get that promotion or raise in pay, and then everything is still far from being “great?” Instead you have even more problems. That’s the deceitfulness of riches; he who trusts in them is heading for a fall (Pr. 11:28).

You see, God does not want everything to be “alright” merely through the means of monetary gain and because of financial wealth. He does not want you to be trusting in money as your savior and deliverer. If you do, money is your master and god, not Him. God delights in the prosperity of His servants, but therein is the key: He wants our lives to be prosperous in every way, not through the self-glorifying means of self-achievement, but through serving Him, whereby all the glory for our prosperity is attributable to Him alone. He wants to be our total Source, our only Savior and Deliverer, our Master, and our very present Help in the time of trouble. He wants to be the object of our affection and trust.

This is the third part of message related to the previous few posts regarding issues raised by the Grassley Investigation, in particular, the “Prosperity Gospel” as it is preached by the ministries cited in that congressional probe. If you did not read, the previous posts, please do, in order to have the proper backdrop and foundation for the message in this post. Otherwise, you may draw erroneous conclusions from reading this post as a stand-alone article.

Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion. (Prv. 30:8)

As I have been indicating in some previous posts, in many Kingdom-related matters, the difference between truth and error is excesses and extremes. Those excesses and extremes can be at either end of the spectrum. Or, if you prefer, the allegory of “the road of Truth” could be used, with the Truth represented by the road, and the ditches along either side of the road representing the excesses and extremes of error.

Such is the case with the real truth regarding the matter of prosperity and success versus whatever is the diametric opposite of that, which I suppose is poverty and failure. The real truth, that is, the Truth of the mind of God that is both concealed and revealed in Christ through the Spirit of Truth, lies somewhere between these opposing messages. The extremes on both sides are error and deception. We must be careful not to swerve too far to either side so as to fall into a spiritual ditch of error. There are a great number of passages of Scripture telling us how much God indeed does want us to “prosper and be in (good) health even as our soul prospers” (3 Jn. 2). But, the last part of that Scripture is the weightier and balancing part. From God’s perspective, true prosperity is commensurate with soul-prosperity, and not defined by the amount of mammon, or material things, we possess. Prosperity and success, and divine healing and health, taken to extremes and taken out of context of the rest of Scripture that speaks of counterbalancing matters can become an abomination to God: “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD; but a just weight is His delight” (Prv. 11:1).

Truth, in terms of human teaching, (please understand I’m not talking here about Truth itself that emanates from the Spirit of Truth), is virtually always found between opposing extremes, allegorically speaking. It’s the extremes that are an abomination to God. From the beginning of time, humans have taken truth and twisted, distorted, and perverted it to make it say whatever they need it to say as support and justification for their evil desires and deeds.

What I see is that there is two sides of this coin regarding this matter of God’s provision for us. The focus of the previous post was what the Word of God tells us about God’s desire to prosper and abundantly bless His people. Like Abraham, he has promised to not only bless us, but also make us a blessing. In this and the next post, my focus will be the abundance of Scripture that counterbalance the “prosperity” side of the same coin.

The Parable of the Sower (see, Mark 4:1-20), according to what Jesus Himself said about it, could be aptly called “The Paramount Parable.” When His disciples asked Him to explain it to them, He responded, as He did on several other occasions, with seeming frustration at their spiritual dullness, saying, “Do you not understand this parable? And how will you understand all the parables?” Jesus also indicated that this parable contained the key to understanding the “Mystery of the Kingdom.” That is the title of a book I wrote and published in 1984 in which I explained what the Lord showed me concerning the meaning of this Paramount Parable and the “secrets” it unveils of how to bear Kingdom Fruit as well as “hidden” principles of how the Kingdom of God operates here on Earth. The rest of this post is taken from that book. Click here to read more about the book, which is available in both e-book and print versions.

Mark 4:7,18,19
7 And other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 18 And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word,
19 and the worries of the word, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Jesus identified in the Parable of the Sower four different categories of hearers, all of whom heard the Word, though only one responded properly and became doers of the Word, thereby producing Kingdom Fruit in their lives. As Jesus said, the Seed of the Word of God was sown on this category of hearers, which means they heard the Word, but there were also thorns growing in their lives along with the Word that eventually choked out the Seed, and thus it “yielded no crop” — that is, it produced no Kingdom Fruit in the lives of these hearers. In His explanation to the disciples, Jesus indicated these thorns were “thorns of worldliness,” and identified them as being, 1) the worries of the world, 2) the deceitfulness of riches, and 3) the desires for other things. He said these thorns of worldliness entered into these believers’ lives, and choked out the Seed which was sown into their lives by the Sower (Fivefold Ministers) as the two grew together in the soil of their hearts, and prevented the Word from becoming fruitful. We examine here one of those thorns of worldliness — “the deceitfulness of riches.”

Deceitful Characteristic of Riches
Even the small sampling of passages I have mentioned here, well establishes the foundation that God does not require or even desire that believers live in poverty or financial lack, and provides us with more than ample Scriptural evidence to conclude without equivocation that it is not riches or wealth themselves that will prevent the Word of God from bearing fruit in a person’s life. Rather, as Jesus indicated in the Parable of the Sower, it is the deceptive characteristic of riches that can cause tremendous spiritual problems and prevent the bringing forth of Godly fruit in a person’s life, even those who have heard the Word of God. It is trusting in and coveting the riches that will choke the Word of God and prevent it from bearing the fruit it is intended to produce. As God says it,

the LOVE OF MONEY is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Tim. 6:10, KJV)

Riches can be so deceiving. Many a person has been deceived by riches. One of the worst parts of the deceptive nature of riches is a false sense of superiority. There is an arrogant and haughty spirit that can invade and pervade a person when wealth and the trappings of wealth are his quest and, in effect, his god. That haughty spirit is one of seven things that God absolutely loathes and considers abominations (Pr. 6:16,17); in fact, it is at the top of the list. Yet, sadly, many people are consumed with such a false sense of superiority predicated on their wealth.

Beyond that, many wealthy people are under the delusion they are somehow right with God simply because they are rich. The power, prestige, prominence, preeminence, and preferential treatment afforded the affluent in the world’s system often produces a blind self-righteousness and elitism which leads to the wholly false assumption that they must also be right with God.

However, monetary worth certainly does not impress God in the slightest, nor can it buy rightstanding with Him. Rightstanding with God can be gained by no other means than on the basis of grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:21-24). High-standing in the Kingdom of God is not based upon monetary worth, but on servitude to others: “whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be the slave of all” (Mk. 10:43,44). There is no partiality with God, for He is no respecter of persons. It is for certain that one’s financial status will be of no consequence on the Day of Judgment and one’s wealth will produce no advantage, for: “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath” (Pr. 11:4).

“How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter into the kingdom of God,” Jesus said (Mk. 10:23). He did not say it would be impossible, but that it would be hard, or difficult, for the rich to enter into the Kingdom of God. He did not say that it would be hard for true believers who have riches or who are wealthy to enter, because all true believers enter into the Kingdom by grace through faith in Christ, regardless of their wealth or lack thereof. Jesus is not talking here about believers having money, rather He is talking about unbelievers who have not yet entered the Kingdom of God, and how hard it will be for them to do so.

The reason it will be difficult for them to enter the Kingdom of God is this arrogance and pride to which I have already alluded. There is only one way for anyone, whether rich or poor, to enter the Kingdom of God—by recognizing your utter spiritual poverty, that you are a totally lost and condemned sinner, and that you desperately need the saving of the Savior. Coming to that realization is often the stumbling block for the rich of the world, however. Pride prevents them from ever admitting the fact that, though they may have financial wealth and prestige in this world, when it comes to their spiritual condition, they are bankrupt and destitute. That is the essence of “the deceitfulness of riches,” and many of the rich, unfortunately, have been deceived by it.

Jesus went on to say, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mk. 10:25). Now Jesus’ allegory here really was not of a camel passing through the eye of a literal needle, for that in reality would not be merely difficult, as Jesus said it would be for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God, but rather that would be altogether impossible.

Very familiar to His listeners, was something known as “the eye of the needle,” which was a very short and narrow passageway in the wall surrounding Jerusalem. It was the only way into the city at night when the main gates were closed as a deterrent against enemy attack. Merchants returning home at night from their business forays usually did not arrive back at Jerusalem until long after the main gates had been closed. When they did finally return, the only entrance into the city was through “the eye of the needle,” through which both the merchant and his camels had to pass.

Now the passageway by design was only large enough to allow a man to barely make it through down on his hand and knees, which design precluded en masse attacks by marauders. It was difficult enough for a man to negotiate the entryway, but the merchant’s camels also had to pass through the same portal. In order for the camels to be able to pass through “the eye of the needle,” they would first have to be stripped bare of their cargo of wares which they had been carrying. Then, one at a time, with some firm prodding the merchant would coax the unwilling camels to bend down on their knees and to slowly crawl through the ever so short and narrow entrance.

Jesus said it was easier for those camels to pass through that tiny passageway, aptly dubbed “the eye of the needle,” than for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of God. For, you see, everyone must enter the Kingdom of God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, in the same manner the camel entered the Earthly Jerusalem, allegorically speaking, that is, stripped totally bare of all worldly possessions and merit, down on your knees in true humility, realizing you possess nothing with which to commend yourself to God and that you are entering only through the wholly unmerited acceptance afforded you only through faith in Jesus Christ, and with profuse, heartfelt, and eternal gratitude and thanksgiving.

Everyone must repent of their pride and false sense of superiority in order to enter the Kingdom of God, no longer glorifying and exalting their self, but glorifying and exalting the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ. As James said, “Let the rich man glory in his humiliation” (Jas. 1:10). How fitting also is the admonition in this passage directed to those who have attained unto wealth in this life:

Beware lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and is ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; lest when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them…then your heart becomes PROUD, and you forget the Lord your God….Otherwise, you may say in your heart, “My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.” But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers as it is this day. (Deut. 8:11-18)

Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lust; but the one who does the will of God abides forever. (1 Jn. 2:15-17)

The church needs an en masse deliverance from the spirit of the world that has marched in through the open door of the love of the world. The number one leaven that is defiling the church today is not Islam, Hinduism, counterfeit sects and cults claiming to be a form of Christianity, New Age, or any of the many false religions we identify as such, but rather the false religion of materialism. And the number one idol to whom the church pays homage is the god of mammon. Both John in the above cited passage and Jesus in the below cited passage made it clear that doublemindedness or spiritual schizophrenia, wherein one is deceived by the belief that they have both the love of the world in them and the love of God at the same time, cannot be reconciled and will result in damnation of one’s soul:

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Lk. 16:13)

Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion. (Prv. 30:8)

This is the second of a three-part message related to the last few posts regarding issues raised by the Grassley Investigation. As I have been indicating in some previous messages, in many Kingdom-related matters, the difference between truth and error is extremes. Those extremes can be at either end of the spectrum. Satan is a master at taking truth and misapplying it or taking it to extremes and thereby transforming truth into error. We see that in Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness after being baptized in the Spirit when the Holy Spirit rested upon Him in the form of a dove. Immediately thereafter, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Mat. 3,4). Each of the three temptations Satan tempted Jesus with were perversions of Truth. In each of them, the devil quoted Scripture, but his application of the Scriptures were an extremism. In each case, Jesus responded with other Scripture that countervailed the Scripture Satan quoted and misapplied.

The Word of God says, “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD; but a just weight is His delight” (Prv. 11:1). The Bible is full of countervailing concepts and paradoxes. Critics and cynics, atheists and agnostics, often seize upon these seemingly contradictory or antithetical statements, principles, and axioms in their attempt to refute and discredit Scripture. But, that is as much folly as are the thoughts of the agnostic or atheist who says in his heart, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1). Truth is always found between opposing extremes. It’s the extremes that are an abomination to God. From the beginning of time, humans have taken truth and twisted, distorted, and perverted it to make it say whatever they need it to say as support and justification for their evil desires and deeds. There is nothing new about that.

Such is the case with the real truth regarding the matter of prosperity and success versus whatever is the diametric opposite of that, which I suppose is poverty and failure. The real truth, that is, the truth in the mind of God, lies somewhere between these opposing messages.

In regard to the matter of God’s provision for believers in particular, we must be careful not to swerve too far to either side so as to fall into a spiritual ditch of error. We must not “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” There are a great number of passages of Scripture telling us how much God indeed does want us to “prosper and be in (good) health even as our soul prospers” (3 Jn. 2). But, the last part of that Scripture is the weightier and balancing part. Prosperity, success, and divine healing and health taken out of context of the rest of Scripture that speaks of seemingly antithetical and counterbalancing matters can become an abomination to God because that is precisely what God calls “a false balance.”

What I see is that there is two sides of this coin regarding this matter of God’s provision for us. In this and the next post, my intent is to bring a balanced message regarding this matter, and show both sides of the same coin, because there is indeed two sides to every coin, as the old saying goes.

The Parable of the Sower (see, Mark 4:1-20), according to what Jesus Himself said about it, could be aptly called “The Paramount Parable.” When His disciples asked Him to explain it to them, He seemed to respond, as He did on several other occasions, with frustration at their spiritual dullness, saying, “Do you not understand this parable? And how will you understand all parables?” Jesus also indicated that this parable contained the key to understanding the “Mystery of the Kingdom.” That is the title of a book I wrote and published in 1984 in which I explained what the Lord showed me concerning the meaning of this Paramount Parable and the “secrets” it unveils of how to bear Kingdom Fruit as well as “hidden” principles of how the Kingdom of God operates here on Earth.

(Click here, for more about the “Mystery of the Kingdom” book.)

In a nutshell, Jesus taught through this remarkable parable that there are four types of hearers of the Word of God, and each of them chooses his/her “quality of life” on the earth as well as his/her eternal destiny and even destination by which kind of hearer they elect to be. Each category of hearer heard the Word, but only one of the four bears forth Kingdom Fruit in their lives. The other three did not bear forth Kingdom Fruit because of something they failed to do in the process of gaining and maintaining rightstanding (relationship) with God.

The third category of hearer are “those with thorns” in their lives. They heard the word, Jesus explained, but they failed to remove the “thorns of worldliness” from their lives, which grew up along with the Word and eventually choked it out, and therefore they were “unfruitful” or barren.

The second “thorn of worldliness” which Jesus said would choke the Word of God and prevent it from bearing fruit in the life of its hearers is “the deceitfulness of riches.” Of paramount importance, however, as we discuss this matter, is the fact that He did not say riches themselves were a thorn that would choke the Word of God and prevent it from bearing fruit, but rather “the DECEITFULNESS of riches.” Indeed, before we delve into the deceitful characteristic of riches and how it will choke the Word, it is somewhat vital that we lay to rest a fairly common misconception among uninformed or misinformed religious people. The essence of this rather widespread myth is that God is somehow opposed to the idea of Christians having money, at least in any significant amount, that God does not want believers to prosper, and that somehow to be truly spiritual one must be poor or at least only barely have his needs met.

We hear of the requirement of ministers in some denominations to take “a vow of poverty.” Moreover, the preaching of some ostensibly pious people makes it sound as if God wants to take everyone’s money away from them, leaving them poor and destitute. As a result, some people, ignorant of what the Word of God really says regarding the matter of money and other practical matters, have been led to believe that in order to become a Christian they would have to sell their possessions and give all their money away to the poor. Erroneous teaching based on half truths has caused multitudes of sincere Christians to believe God wanted them to live in near abject poverty, and to fear ever having any money, “because, you know, money is the root of all evil.”

Well, nothing could be further from the Truth. First of all, the Bible does not say money is the root of all evil. It says, “the LOVE OF MONEY is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). God is by no means opposed to Christians having money, but He is totally opposed to covetousness. To put it another way, God is not opposed to believers possessing possessions, but He is entirely opposed to possessions possessing believers. The love of money and the pursuit of riches will prevent a person from loving and serving God, for:

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Lk. 16:13)

The Word of God is full of passages telling us just how much God desires for His children to prosper. In 3 John 2, He says, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper, and be in health even as thy soul prospers” (KJV). What an amazing statement this is! Think on that for a moment and allow it to sink in. God is saying that above everything else He desires for us, and the Bible is replete with all the wonderful things He desires for us and our well being, above all those things God wishes that we prosper financially.

Now the surpassing wisdom of God is demonstrated in this statement, which is that it is absolutely essential that we prosper financially in order to prosper physically in our body (i.e., health wise) and spiritually in our soul (i.e., psychologically and emotionally). In other words, to be able to truly prosper in all the other aspects of our lives — spiritual, psychological, emotional, and social — it is imperative that we prosper financially. I do not mean we all must be wealthy to live happily, but what is inherent in this morsel of Divine Truth is the unequivocal fact that financial prosperity is a requisite for real happiness. Continuous financial lack is a severely oppressing force that absolutely precludes us from living full, fulfilled, and truly happy lives, not only because of the lack of “things” that without question do make life more pleasant, but also because of the lack of capacity to do the things, such as helping others who are in need, which bring us pleasure.

The inexorable oppression of never ending poverty has no rival, and to many is unbearable. Long term, enduring financial lack in the case of untold multitudes has led to extreme physiological, psychological, and emotional problems, as well as ultimately to premature death either by means of physical disorders or, in the case of those whose pain was overwhelming, even suicide. God knows all this concerning the importance of financial wellness to our overall well being, so it is His desire that we prosper financially, incredibly, “above all things.”

Psalm 35:27 tells us to “CONTINUALLY” say, “The Lord be magnified, who DELIGHTS IN THE PROSPERITY OF HIS SERVANT,” which is a far cry from what some people continually say. The truth is that God takes great delight in the prosperity of those who truly are His servants. When believers prosper through serving the Lord, God is glorified.

Another enlightening scripture says, “The Lord delighted over you to prosper you” (Deut. 28:63). Moreover, in this same chapter God repeatedly indicates that poverty is a part of the curse of disobedience, and that prosperity, not poverty, is a part of the blessings of obedience, which stands in stark contrast to the postulations of some pseudo spiritual people who preach just the opposite — that prosperity is a curse and poverty is a blessing. Poverty is in no way a “blessing,” as anyone who has suffered it can tell you, if they are honest about it and don’t come up with some super-pseudo spiritual hogwash about how it “helped their faith” or something. According to the Word of God (and His Word is far more trustworthy than that of people like that), faith does not come by poverty, it comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). Anything to the contrary is poppycock. Poverty, when a person gets tired enough of it, may motivate him to do a little more hearing of the Word, which in turn will produce more faith, but poverty itself is not going to help, increase, or activate your faith one iota; never has, never will. Rather, unabated poverty will ultimately produce precisely the opposite of faith.

God says if we will obey His voice and commandments, He will elevate us “above all the nations of the earth. And all these BLESSINGS shall come upon you and overtake you…the Lord will make you abound in PROSPERITY” (Deut. 28:11). Again, we see here that prosperity is a blessing of obedience to God.

In the infamous case of Job, he started out very rich, and after a period of reproof from God with respect to his blatant fear and lack of faith and trust in God, God made Him even richer, twice as rich as a matter of fact. Careful and unbiased study of his story will prove that contrary to his now infamous exclamation, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away,” it was not God who took away all his possessions and children, but rather Satan, who was able to do so because fear of loss had pervaded his life and eroded the protective hedge of faith in God (read Job 2). In retrospect, Job admitted, “For the thing which I greatly FEARED is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.”

But, after being reproved by God through a face to face encounter with His Majesty Himself, a chastened Job exulted, “I know thou canst do all things…I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees Thee; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” The result was that “the Lord restored the fortunes of Job…twofold.”

We can see from the story of Job that God is not in the business of chastening those who are serving Him by stripping them of their possessions and relegating them to poverty, as some people ignorantly allege. Rather, as Elihu, the only one of Job’s counselors to speak truth to Job, declared, “If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity” (Job 36:11).

Psalm 37:11 says, “The humble (obedient) will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” And, verse nineteen essentially promises that even in famine conditions and economic chaos, the righteous “will have an abundance”(italics added by author).

The bottom-line is that God does not want His children to be in want of anything that is a legitimate need. One passage so much as says that: “O fear the Lord, you His saints; for to those who fear Him, there is no want…they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing” (Ps. 34:9,10). Another favorite passage tells us because the Lord is our Shepherd, we “shall not want” (Ps. 23:1).

What kind of a father would take pleasure in seeing his children in constant want and need, especially of the essentials of life? Certainly our Heavenly Father does not want us to be in want. Jesus revealed the attitude of our Heavenly Father: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give what is good to those who ask Him” (Mat. 7:11).

The Apostle Paul succinctly summed up the whole matter in this one passage: “And my God shall supply ALL your NEEDS according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Plp. 4:19). God promises in this verse to provide ALL of our needs, not necessarily our greeds, but all our needs, and in so doing will not limit Himself to our puny Earthly resources, but will draw from His own limitless wealth of riches in glory. Wow! What a promise!

In the next post I will show the other sides of the same coin, for we need both sides of the coin, with neither side being defaced, for it to be legitimate tender, allegorically speaking, that is, Truth!

Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion. (Prv. 30:8)

This is the first of a three-part message related to the last few messages I posted regarding issues raised by the Grassley Investigation. As I have been indicating in some previous messages, in many Kingdom-related matters, the difference between truth and error is extremes. Those extremes can be at either end of the spectrum. Satan is a master at taking truth and misapplying it or taking it to extremes and thereby transforming truth into error. We see that in Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness after being baptized in the Spirit when the Holy Spirit rested upon Him in the form of a dove. Immediately thereafter, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Mat. 3,4). Each of the three temptations Satan tempted Jesus with were perversions of Truth. In each of them, the devil quoted Scripture, but his application of the Scriptures were an extremism. In each case, Jesus responded with other Scripture that countervailed the Scripture Satan quoted and misapplied.

The Word of God says, “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD; but a just weight is His delight” (Prv. 11:1). The Bible is full of countervailing concepts and paradoxes. Critics and cynics, atheists and agnostics, often seize upon these seemingly contradictory or antithetical statements, principles, and axioms in their attempt to refute and discredit Scripture. But, that is as much folly as are the thoughts of the agnostic or atheist who says in his heart, “There is no God” (Psa. 14:1). Truth is always found between opposing extremes. It’s the extremes that are an abomination to God. From the beginning of time, humans have taken truth and twisted, distorted, and perverted it to make it say whatever they need it to say as support and justification for their evil desires and deeds. There is nothing new about that.

Such is the case with the real truth regarding the matter of prosperity and success versus whatever is the diametric opposite of that, which I suppose is poverty and failure. The real truth, that is, the truth in the mind of God, lies somewhere between these opposing messages. Continue reading “Poverty vs. Prosperity Gospel (Part 1)” »

In the wake of the Grassley Investigation, which was the topic of my previous post, there are reports that the response of most of those ministries being probed is one of adamant denial and angry disputation. The investigation is focused on six prominent ministries: Benny Hinn, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, David and Joyce Meyer; Randy and Paula White; Creflo and Taffi Dollar; and Eddie Long. Several of them are now publicizing their view that such an investigation by a government body is illegal, unjustified, and improperly intrusive, along with their vow to therefore resist and in some cases stonewall the Congressional committee’s inquiries.

I am neither judging nor condemning any of the persons or ministries named, such is not my purpose, and we are proscribed from doing so by Scripture. However, I do not believe that denial, disputation, and enmity in the public discourse is the right or the Biblical response for these high-profile ministries and ministers. As I indicated in the previous edition, along with elevation to the high-profile status comes high responsibility and accountability. To whom much is given, much is required, yea, even demanded, both by God and men. Continue reading “Grassley Investigation — Probed Ministries Respond” »

By Dr. Steven Lambert

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has recently begun a probe into the financial practices of some religious organizations claiming Non-Profit Tax-exempt status under federal laws. Senator Charles Grassley, the Committee’s ranking Republican member, as part of the larger probe, has launched an investigation of six of the nation’s most prominent charismatic ministries: Benny Hinn, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, David and Joyce Meyer; Randy and Paula White; Creflo and Taffi Dollar; and Eddie Long.

The Iowa lawmaker, who spearheaded past whistle-blowing crusades of secular non-profits such as the American Red Cross, based on citizen complaints received by his office, sent letters to these six organizations demanding they provide him within a few weeks various types of audited financial records documenting lavish purchases, extraordinary expenditures, and inordinate compensation amounts, among other financial activity, along with governing board meeting minutes authorizing them. In the letters released this past Tuesday the Senator indicated his purpose was to verify the ministries’ compliance with U.S. tax laws. Among his requisitions were:

  • Documentation of the financial transactions of Benny Hinn Ministries’ purchase of his $3 million home in California;
  • Accounts of Eddie Long’s purchase of his $1.4 million, sprawling 20-acre estate outside Atlanta;
  • A receipt for Tampa-based television preacher Paula White’s reported gift of a Bentley convertible to celebrity pastor, T.D. Jakes;
  • Records delineating the source of funding for posh furnishings in iconic Bible teacher Joyce Meyer’s Missouri headquarters—including a $30,000 malachite table, a $23,000 marble top commode, and a $19,000 pair of Dresden vases;
  • Explanation of Pacific island vacation trips by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland using a plane purportedly owned by their ministry;
  • Clarification of high-profile Atlanta faith preacher Creflo Dollar’s role in raising a major portion of a $2 million donation to his mentor, Kenneth Copeland.

A top associate speaking on behalf of Grassley reportedly indicated the senator has no hidden agenda, and is not conspiring to deny anybody of religious freedom, but that he is seeking assurance that these six organizations are not misusing charitable contributions to pay for mansions, plastic surgeries, and other lavish perks. “The Christian public should have demanded a higher level of accountability a long time ago.”

This public probe comes on the heels of a rash of scandals in 2007 involving high-profile church leaders and TV-evangelists, the latest of which is allegations of financial mismanagement and other misconduct by ORU president, Richard Roberts, forcing his resignation and the bifurcation of ORU from Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, which has been its parent organization since its founding. These along with the many other well-publicized disgraces involving well-known preachers, clergy, and church officials over the last few decades have produced an at least partially deserved blight upon modern Christendom. Per usual, the improper conduct of an errant few has disgraced the whole Body of Christ, and in the eyes of the world tarnished the service of thousands of upright, law-abiding, modestly-living, and modestly-compensated ministers in this country, who daily carry out their typically selfless and sacrificial servitude in relative obscurity and little recognition.

The view I have held privately for years going back to the days of the widely-publicized Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart debacles is that while the world and worldly-minded Christians judge such rogue preachers on the premise of financial malfeasance, moral failures, and their sundry legal violations, God Himself is judging many prominent ministries against a much loftier standard, having to do with attitudes of ascendancy and elitism manifest in their blatant lack of compassion and benevolence toward the thousands of other, lesser-known ministries in this country whose missions and ministry endeavors are no less worthy of financial support than their own. Few of the “mega-ministries” that began emerging in the 1950s and ’60s have shown significant desire to “share the wealth” with other worthy ministries. When they have contributed to other ministry organizations, often a major part of their motivation is to curry some sort of favor and/or reciprocation from the receiving minister and/or his/her ministry organization. What makes this the height of hypocrisy is that these are the same well-known and well-healed ministers who constantly, and in some cases obsessively, demand sacrificial benevolence of their supporters toward their own coffers.

Personally, I believe that from the Divine perspective, ministries who have been afforded a prominence and platform that enables them to draw millions of dollars in annual contributions—and there are now scores upon scores of them in our nation—bear a responsibility, if not a Divine requirement, to help other ministries who are just as dedicated and devoted to the calling and ministry mission they’ve been given by God as those mega-ministries. Frequently and shamefully, however, the leaders of the mega-ministries become as arrogant and haughty as the mega-moguls of the world, hoarding, or in some cases, squandering their burgeoning treasuries on the further expansion of their own private kingdoms and the aggrandizement of their ministerial monarchs. Moreover, instead of having a sense of corporate responsibility toward other members of the Body of Christ, in direct contradiction of Scripture, they adopt the mindsets of the corporate world wherein they regard other ministries as competitors and mortal enemies. It is just an unfortunate and shameful fact that precious few of the mega-ministries and mega-churches regularly donate any substantial amount of the scores or hundreds of millions of annual income to help other ministries other than the obligatory “missionary” ministries or projects in some way related to their ministry or denomination, which often is motivated more by the PR benefits than genuine benevolence. Exceptions do exist, but they are relatively rare.

A Stricter Judgment!

The Holy Spirit makes it clear in Scripture that spiritual leaders “incur a stricter judgment” by God (Jas. 3:1), and that to whom much is given, much is required, and to whom much is entrusted, much is demanded both by God and men (Lk. 12:48; cf., NAS, AB, KJV). Nevertheless, in every age there are those like “Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them” (3 Jn. 1:9), who push and shove their way through the sheepfold in ambition-driven ascension to ascendancy and the accoutrements it affords. Unfortunately, self-aggrandizing charlatans do exist, and are always among us—tares sown amidst the wheat, wolves in sheep’s clothing—”who suppose that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Tim. 6:5). In fact, the Holy Spirit through the prophetic pen of the Apostle Paul warned that the times in the last days would become laden with severe difficulty resulting first and foremost from of a pervasion among humans of rank narcissism and self-aggrandizement:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. (2 Tim. 3:1-5)

Notice that every one of these ungodly, carnal traits Prophet Paul delineated are rooted in self-centeredness and self-love. The very first two traits he named as being culpable for the “difficult” or “perilous” times that would prevail in the last days is that mankind would be “lovers of self” and “lovers of money,” followed by boastfulness and arrogance, two other leading markers of self-centeredness. Such an apostate spiritual atmosphere for the end-times as the Spirit describes should not be surprising to students of biblical sociology and eschatology, but what is often surprising to the average Christian is that the end-times church, following the lead of self-absorbed leaders, will be swept up into this perfidious prevailing wind of worldliness propelled by the ultimate idolatry of gross narcissism, with which the “millennium generation” is so thoroughly permeated.

Both the Apostle Peter and Jude through indignation-charged inspiration of the Spirit directed some of the most stinging and utter rebuke in all of the Bible toward this ilk of false prophets and false teachers that existed in every Church age and yet captivates massive portions of the current Church by means of corrupted charisma. Peter wrote:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Pet. 2:1-3)

…enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet. These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. (2 Pet. 2:14-19)

Jude’s entire Epistle is a divine-diversion from his intended topic and -diatribe against unscrupulous counterfeit ministers, messengers of Satan transformed as angels of light:

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ….Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties….But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever….But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. (Jude 4-19, excerpts)

But, what a rude awakening is coming, and is indeed just on the horizon for today’s lukewarm Laodicean church. There is a shaking that is coming in which EVERYTHING that can be shaken will be, and every mountain and hill (human kingdoms and dynasties) shall be made low, and every valley shall be lifted up or exalted, and the rough ground shall be made a plain, and the rugged terrain, a valley (Isa. 40:3-5). It shall be a fierce day of accounting and reckoning, a day when God sets up His scales and weighs against His holy standard the works of the ministries he finds at work when He returns. Indeed, it shall be on that day when Jesus’ prediction, “many who are first will be last; and the last first” (Mat. 19:30), shall have some of its greatest application to this ilk of church leader who has been corrupted by the love of money and prostituted himself and his ministry in pursuit of a purely monetary “prosperity” and financially-measured “success.”

I remind you that nearly two-thousand years ago the Spirit expressly warned, “THE TIME IS COME that judgment MUST BEGIN at the house of God” (1 Pet. 4:17, KJV). If the time had come then, how much closer are we to it today? And, notice that God’s judgment MUST begin with God’s household, meaning the church, the betrothed to Christ, who Christ will return to claim as his Eternal Bride. That Day of Judgment of the house of God has been fast approaching for many years, and I believe shall begin to suddenly take place in the year ahead, 2008. The suddenness of it shall catch many unawares and overtake them like a thief in the night. “In one day,” many covetous Christian leaders shall begin to inherit judgment from God in various forms that shall result in major reversals in their ministries, and many shall lose the fortunes they have amassed from the tithes and offerings they have extruded, and in some cases extorted, from the hard-earned money of hard-working and sacrificially-giving donors, and along with it the excessively luxurious lifestyles to which some of them have become accustomed and reliant.

Coming Soon: Day of Reckoning!

A “Day Of Reckoning” is surely coming to many irresponsible and unscrupulous ministries. I believe we are about to see a fulfillment of the Prophet Malachi’s prophecy in the Church that will begin with the leaders (Levites, “sons of Levi”):

Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years. Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien and do not fear Me,” says the LORD of hosts.

I will be devoting a series of forthcoming posts to what I believe the Lord is speaking regarding the sundry matters raised in this article. But, the paramount point here is that it is a shameful indictment on the modern church, as well as on purporting neo-prophets that a Senator’s spokesman has to be the spokesman God uses to issue the prophetic rebuke concerning the excesses found in some portions of the Neo-Pentecostal Church, “The Christian public should have demanded a higher level of accountability a long time ago.”

May God in His mercy forgive us, and send us true prophets like the selfless and uncompromised prophets of old pronouncing a penetrating “Thus saith the Lord” no matter the cost, in contrast to the plethora of selfishly-ambitious and self-aggrandizing profiteers of today promising personal wealth, health, and happiness through the latest revolutionary self-help discovery or program!

Release and Sending of True Prophets

There is no question in my mind that beginning in 2008, God is going to call forth many John-The- Baptist-type prophets to be voices crying out in the wilderness to make straight the way of the Lord, proclaiming piercing prophetic messages that will penetrate the lukewarmness and complacency, and in some cases the apostasy, presently pervading the Church at-large. Their central theme will be the same as that of the original John-The-Baptist and Jesus Himself — the first word of the Gospel — “Repent! For the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”

God will soon send unto the Church those prophetic voices it so desperately needs! Fearless and fierce deliverers of the Spirit sent by God with a mandate to upset the idols men have set up, to call into line all who have gotten out of line, to bring down what humanism has built up, to destruct what idolatry has constructed, to root up what vain human philosophy has planted in the minds of men, to overcome the complacency, apathy, and pacifism that has come over the Saints of God. These prophets, when they are released from their holes and caves, deserts and wildernesses, will not come promoting and pimping for a corrupted, counterfeit “prophetic movement” for their own selfish-gain, but will come as servants and sacrificially employ the anointing of their office to build and plant the Church Jesus is building and planting (Jer. 1:10; Is. 61:1-3).

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you wearing sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are self-serving wolves with ravenous appetites of every kind of lust and avarice. You will know them by their fruit, not their prophetic gifts (cf., Mat. 7:15,16).

Send us, O God, those true prophets Leonard Ravenhill envisioned who know no compromise, have no price tag, cannot be bought out or bought off; who daily breathe the rarified air of divine inspiration; who march to a different drumbeat; seers sent to lead the blind; those that are unabashedly forthright, unashamedly outright, having lives that are upright, but who claim no birthright; dwellers in splendid isolation in the natural realm, yet in the heights of God in the spirit realm; firebrands possessed with passion, purpose, and pugnacity of the Spirit; sent-ones sent into the valleys of spiritual malaise and waywardness with a heart-piercing, conscience-pricking, “Thus saith the Lord!” God, send us, true prophets!