Sound Teaching

Enemies of the Cross

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on thosewho walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly and they glory in their shame, with the minds set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:17-18).

Here we come to one of very sad and agonizing passages in the Bible. Apostle Paul gives us two groups of people found in Christianity.  First, they are those who like Paul imitate Christ. The apostle urges believers to follow the example of these people who have their eyes fixed on the cross of Christ.

Secondly, there is a group that Apostle Paul describes as enemies of the cross. Please note, these people are not outside Christianity. They are inside yet they are enemies of the cross. This is a very dangerous group of people because unlike those who are outside Christianity and openly oppose Christ, these people masquerade as Christians and pose like they are working for him yet the truth is otherwise.

The enemies of the cross have often been described as false teachers and false prophets. Now, it’s not funny to label anyone a false teacher or false prophet.  Personally, I hesitate to do so unless basing on the testimony of Scripture I clearly see that one is indeed a false prophet or false teacher since God’s Word assures us that “by their fruits, we shall know them” (Matthew 7:16, 20).

In the above passage, Philippians 3:17, 18, the Scripture describes the destiny as well as three fruits of the enemies of the cross. If these fruits or any of these are present in someone who claims to be a Christian or Christ’s servant, I would not hesitate to say that they are a false teacher or an enemy of the cross. Let every man be a liar but God’s Word alone should declare who the enemies of the cross are.

First, in the passage we see that the end or destiny of the enemies of the cross is destruction.  Friends, this is not a simple matter. No one should treat this matter lightly because it has to do with the wrath of God. The end of all the enemies of the cross is destruction. I shudder at this statement. Who can stand the wrath of God? Recall how God destroyed the entire earth except for Noah and his sons and a few animals and birds (Genesis 7:1- 24). Consider the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:23, 23). “OK, that’s the Old Testament,” someone might say.

Well, think about God’s wrath poured on Ananias and Sapphira for lying to Him (Acts 5:1-11). What about Herod who was struck down by an angel for robbing God of His glory (Acts 12:22, 23)? The New Testament goes further to describe the ultimate destruction of the enemies of the cross in the following way: “in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,” (2 Thessalonians 1:9). This can’t be a light issue; however, that’s what Scripture says is the end of the enemies of the cross. It’s really scary!

Secondly, the enemies of the cross have their belly as their god. They always work hard for their physical satisfaction and not to please God. They use God’s name to acquire and satisfy their wants. When ‘preaching’ what is supreme on their mind is not “Thus says the Lord” rather what will I gain after ‘preaching’ this message. Will people like me more and give me more money and gifts?  They work for their belly and not for God.

Thirdly, the enemies of the cross take glory in their shame. The things that they ought to be ashamed of are the things that they enjoy to do.  Instead of being ashamed that often they make the Bible say what it never meant and mean what it never said, they boast of getting special revelations which no one else can see in the Scripture apart from themselves. Some of the things they claim that Bible says are very shameful indeed.

I once heard of a preacher who told people that God had ordered him to collect a certain amount of money from Christians failing which he will die. This preacher had no shame to say this. Really? Can God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ kill a preacher because he has failed to receive an offering of a certain amount?  The examples are many. You can also consider of preachers who hire bodyguards to protect them even as they stand on the pulpit to preach God’s Word. Surprised? It is happening. Bodyguards around the pulpit to protect a man or woman of God as he/she is ‘sharing God’s Word’. Shameful indeed!

Finally, the passage highlights that enemies of the cross have their minds set on earthly things. “Forget about eternity, live your best life now for heaven is already here” is the mentality of the enemies of the cross. Now, if I can live my best life now here on earth, what will happen to me when I go to be with my Father in glory? At this point I would like to make this bold declaration: Anyone one who claims to serve Christ but doesn’t help God’s people prepare for eternity with Jesus fails in their task and this cap of the enemy of the cross fits them very well.

If truth be told, it is hard and painful to talk about these things. This is really a hard talk but we have to face it any way. The enemies of the cross really exist and by their fruits we know them.  The Bible reminds us not to follow or imitate them. Instead, we should join, imitate and keep our eyes on those who walk according to Christ and His Word. We thank God that by his grace we have such people who seek to honor and glorify Christ always and by the same grace we will follow them, will we not?

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Sound Teaching

Miracle Money?

I, first,  heard about it a couple of months ago and I ignored it.  I have heard it again this week and I cannot afford to ignore it anymore.  Some ‘men of God’ are performing miracles whereby one can just find that you have money in your pocket or in your bank account. Believe you me, I hear that ‘some men of God’ are able to rain down money on people.  It’s exciting, isn’t it? NO! It is very pathetic and scary! These so called miracles are acting in strong opposition to God’s Word.

At creation, God established three mandates namely work, rest and marriage. God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to work therein (Genesis 2:15).  He established a day of rest (Genesis 2:2, 3). God also established marriage when he brought Eve to Adam (Genesis 2:22).  No matter what we might think of these mandates, they will remain until Christ comes.

Now, it is sad to note that some Christians think that work came into effect as a result of Adam’s sin. This is not true because work was ordained by God even before the entry of sin. People, especially Christians, should be eager to work and earn their living instead of expecting the so called miracles where one becomes a millionaire without work.

God can do anything. However, it is also important to remember that God always honors his word. If he said that we should work, he expects that from us. God blesses the work of the hands of his children and in his grace, he provides through the work of our hands.

Therefore, Christians’ attitude towards work should always be positive.  We should never expect God to put money in our pockets while we are sitting idle. No matter how godly you are, God can never put money in your pocket while you are idling. Apostle Paul was a true servant of God but he had to make tents to earn a living (Acts 18:1-3) hence he could boldly say:

“For when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now to such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to ear their own living,” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

Friends in Christ get this right: It is not God’s will that you have money which you have not worked for. It is one thing to have God move the hearts of people to assist you with money for a particular cause and another thing to have money in your pocket without knowing where it has come from. If this happens to you, you ought to be afraid rather than rejoice.

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Christianity and theology

Salvation and Good Works

The fifth and last trustworthy saying is found in Titus 3:8 and reads: “This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”

Good works do not produce salvation but salvation produces good works. For sure, salvation is by the grace of God and there is nothing we do to earn it yet true salvation will always produce good works.  This is what Apostle Paul is stressing in this trustworthy saying.

The relationship between salvation and good works has sometimes caused confusion but I believe God’s Word clarifies the issue better in the saying. Every Christian is saved to do good works.

The only difference between good works of a Christian and a non-Christian is that a Christian does good as a result of the Holy Spirit who has come into his life. It is this Holy Spirit who motivates and gives the believer the grace and desires to please God by doing what is good.

A non-Christian, on the other hand, will do good works hoping to be accepted by God and usually driven by the natural guilt that is in all those who don’t have Christ due to original sin of our first parents which all of us are born with.

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Christianity and theology

Godliness

The third ‘Trustworthy saying’ is found in 1 Timothy 4:8, 9: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.”

Timothy being a young man was most likely involved in some sporting activities. Apostle Paul then takes advantage of Timothy’s knowledge of sports to communicate an important truth. He tells Timothy that physical exercises are good but they cannot surpass the need for godliness in a life of a Christian.

Now, godliness does not just come automatically in ones life; there is a need for deliberate effort to pursue godliness while still relying on God’s grace. This is why the apostle is bringing in the analogy of athletics.

In as much as athletes train for physical fitness, Christians while relying on God’s grace should ‘train’ for godliness. This is where spiritual disciplines like studying God’s Word, prayer, fasting, meditation and others come in.  Christians should not neglect these things.

It is also true from the saying is that Christians should always bear in mind that all the things we do in this world will pass away but only that which is done for Christ will last. Therefore, Christians must always seek to glorify Christ with their lives. Remember:

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last” (Anonymous)

This is not to discourage Christians from participating in other activities that the world offers us like education, business, sports, and music.  Let’s get involved in these things; however, we should never at a single time let them take the place of God in our lives because they will one day pass away but our relationship with God through Christ is eternal.

 

 

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Christianity and theology

The Worst Sinner

As I indicated in my previous post, the first “Trustworthy Saying” is found in 1 Timothy 1:15 and reads: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.” In the verse two important truths are presented before us.

First, the reason Christ came into the world was to save sinners. Although while on earth Christ healed the sick, cast out demons and performed miracles, his main goal was to save sinners and this was achieved when he lived a perfect life, died on the cross and later rose from the dead on behalf of all believers.  Christ himself affirmed this when he said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). By the way, Bible Scholars say that this is the key verse of the Gospel according to Luke.

Therefore, we, preachers of God’s Word, miss the point when we emphasize on the physical well being of people the main reason Christ came into the world. For sure, Christ did not come into the world to make the poor rich rather he came to save sinners like you and me who were once dead in our sin but were made alive in Christ by God’s grace alone (Colossians 2:13, 14). This remains the main reason of Christ’s coming into the earth even today hence preaching should center on this.

Secondly, it is important to note how Apostle Paul addresses himself in the verse.  There is no doubt that Apostle Paul is one of the men that God has used greatly in the Church. Paul also wrote almost half of the New Testament yet when he examined himself, he felt that he was the worst sinner.

This is what happens to every Christian who is growing in his/her faith hence becoming closer to God. The more we get closer to God, the more we realize how greatly we fall short of His glory. Any Christian who gets closer to God can’t help it but realize how sinful he is and how holy God is.

For instance, consider Prophet Isaiah, the moment he came closer to God, he immediately realized how holy God is and how evil his heart was and he cried out, “Woe is me for I am (sinful)” (Isaiah 6:5). The same can also be said of Apostle Peter. In his first encounter with Jesus, it dawned on him that Christ is holy and he was very sinful hence he told Jesus:  “Depart from me a sinner” (Luke 5:8).

Therefore, it should scare us when we take the holiness of God for granted.  We have every reason to be afraid when we play with the holiness of God as a child’s toy. For sure, God is a our Father and we always have to approach His throne of grace with confidence as his children yet at the same time we should bear in mind that He is holy and we are not.  The only reason he welcomes us is because of Christ who clothes us with his holiness.  Without Christ, you and me are the worst sinner hence we should continually work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

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Christianity and theology

The Trustworthy Sayings

There are some phrases in the Bible that we sometimes overlook yet they call our attention to something important.  One of such phrases is the one we find in the New Testament and it goes, “This is a trustworthy saying…”

Now, begin from this week, we would like to take a closer look at these phrases which appear in the books of First and Second Timothy and Titus. These three books are also known as Pastoral Epistles.

These phrases exist no where in the New Testament apart from the Pastoral Epistles and is found in the following passages: 1 Timothy 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:11 and Titus 3:8. It is believed that Apostle Paul uses these phrases to call the attention of recipients and readers of these letters to a very important point.

Therefore, we would like to take our time on this blog to critically look at each trustworthy saying and listen to what God is communicating to us through these sayings. Of course, by this we do not mean that the other passages of Scripture are not worthy paying attention to; however, the phrases form a good material for an in-depth Bible study. Just as we can choose any other passage of Scripture to study deeply, on this blog we have opted to dig deeper around the trustworthy sayings for now.

 

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Christianity and Society

The Man Named Epaphras

Lately, I have been studying the Epistle to Colossians and one character that has caught my attention in the study is the man named Epaphras.

Epaphras got converted when he went to hear Apostle Paul preaching in Ephesus.  Thereafter, he went home in Colossae and planted a church. Later, the Colossian church was faced with the problem of false teachers and Epaphras immediately went to Rome to meet Paul and seek assistance on how to address the problem (1:7-8; Acts 19:10).

The interesting thing with this man, however, is that he still remains a little known figure despite “working hard for the church at Colossae” (4:13). Unless, you take you time to critically study the epistle, you will never know how important Epaphras was to the Colossian church.

This is how things can go in our service for the Lord sometimes. We might give out our best and keep things moving by the grace of God but still remain little known figures. This should never discourage us since it is all about Christ and not us.  All the glory should go to him alone. As John Baptist once remarked, “Let him increase while we decrease” (John 3:30).

Therefore, never be bothered so much about getting a credit for your service unto the Lord because the truth is that you will not always get it. All the same continue to serve the Lord faithfully and seek to bring all the glory to Him like Epaphras the unsung hero did.

 

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My Life as a Christian

My Struggle as a Preacher

I vividly remember the day I preached my first sermon. By then I was 19 years old. It was a day that my church set aside for the youth to lead the service of worship. After I had preached the sermon, titled, “The True Christian” many people came to me afterwards. They congratulated me and praised God for a wonderful message. Then I thought that that’s how it will be. This incident somehow made me believe that whenever I preach many will be pleased with my message. However, I was very wrong. As I continue to serve Him as a preacher, there are times when I receive a cold shoulder from listeners.

Sometimes you can clearly read on the faces of some responses like: “How dare you preach that message?” Why disturbing us in our comfort zone?” You know such type of responses. At first, I was very much disturbed by this kind of responses. But as I grow in ministry, I have developed a thick skin, so to speak. I hardly care the response of the audience. No, I am lying. The truth is that I always struggle with the desire to be accepted. I want people to accept my message.

However, “The voice of truth tells me a different story,” sung Casting Crowns. The voice of truth tells me that it will never happen as long as I strive to remain true to Scripture. This is one of the great challenges that every preacher faces or will face. There is no middle ground. You either preach God’s Word and displease some people (probably  many) or preach what people want to hear and please many (but not all people, of course). This is my struggle too.

Let me confess here. It’s no fun to have people dislike you because of what you believe and teach. You might be convinced and convicted that that is the truth you ought to preach but the thought of being despised or disdained is awful and makes you think twice. But thank God, for His grace that enables us to stand against the storm of the majority (who might not like to hear God’s Word as presented to us in the Bible). We should take comfort in the fact that Christ also experienced the same. Just read the Gospels, and you will see that many Pharisees and Sadducees did not like Christ’s message yet He is God and there is no falsehood in Him.

Apostle Paul was also not an exception. Read what he writes to Galatians’: “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ,” (1:9, 10).

From the passage one basic truth stands out:  All preachers can be grouped into two: God-pleasers or man-pleasers.  As I have already said, there is no middle ground and they shall never be. This is the struggle of a preacher like me. But we thank Christ that His grace is sufficient to carry us through if we resolve to be God-pleasers.

“Now  to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 24, 25).

In these words lies my comfort not only as a preacher but also as God’s child.

 

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Christianity and theology

This Deadly Temptation

This is a deadly temptation indeed. From the beginning of the New Testament Church, it has troubled the Body of Christ and it continues to do so. Of course, it comes in various forms but the essence is the same namely Christ is not enough.

In Scripture, we first encounter it in Acts 15. Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch in Syria where they were preaching that salvation is through Christ alone.  However some Jews who had been converted to Christianity and still felt that Christ alone is not enough for salvation came down and started teaching that “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses you cannot be saved” (v. 1, 5). Paul and Barnabas debated and argued with them that salvation is through Christ alone but these people did not back down.

Therefore, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem where the first recorded church council of apostles and elders gathered to discuss the matter. The council resolved that it is not necessary to be circumcised in order to be saved because salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone.

Fast forward to the Epistle to Galatians. Paul is addressing the same problem of Acts 15.  Judaizers (Jews who had been converted to Christianity) continued to preach that Christ alone is not sufficient for salvation.  Instead, they were adding circumcision to it. So, salvation, according to them, was through faith in Christ plus circumcision. Unfortunately, some Galatians started buying into this error and Paul was angered by this deception and wrote Galatians:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are returning to a different gospel – not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:5-8, ESV).

Now, what type of gospel did Paul preach to the Galatians? Back to Book of Acts, Paul preached that salvation is through Christ alone. And what did those who troubled the Galatians preach? Salvation is through Christ plus circumcision. So, Paul, boldly, declares that if anyone, even if he is an angel, should preach that salvation is through Christ plus… should be accursed. This how serious and deadly this temptation of adding on Jesus is.

We are not yet done, so let’s skip some pages of the New Testament and come to the Letter to Colossians. This epistle was written to oppose what has commonly become to be known as “The Colossian Heresy.” The heresy involved a lot of things but to sum it up, it also taught that Christ alone is not sufficient for salvation. It taught that apart from Christ one was supposed to among other things deny themselves (2:21; 2:23); worship angels (2:18); and have special knowledge (Gnosticism) (2:18; 2:2-3). Apostle Paul then wrote the Church at Colossae to remind them that Christ alone is sufficient (1:15-20; 2:2-3, 9) for our salvation. There is nothing we can add to Christ for God to save us.

Again, let’s fast forward to almost 1, 500 years later.  This deadly temptation continued to rear its ugly head in the Church. During this time, there was only one church and there were serious errors being taught in this church. Then, God, through his Holy Spirit, raised a man by the name of Martin Luther who by God’s grace boldly stood up to oppose the errors, especially, the one that said salvation is through Christ plus good works. Of course, it should be noted that before this man, others also opposed the errors in this church including John Hus and John Wycliffe.

Martin Luther opposed various errors in the church basing on Scripture and his opposition reached the climax on October 31, 1517. The climaxing of his opposition led to what is now known as Reformation which also led to the birth of what are now called Protestant Churches.

Reformation emphasized on five main issues which sometimes are called Five Banners of Reformation or Five Solas of Reformation namely Christ Alone (Solus Christus), Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura), Faith Alone (Sola Fide), Grace Alone (Sola Gratia) and To God alone be the glory (Solus Deo Gloria). For the sake of this post we will just dwell on Solus Christus (Christ Alone).

Martin Luther opposed teachings like you need to believe in Christ and also punish your body through penance and fasting to be saved. He opposed the teaching that stated you need to give money to the church and believe in Christ to be saved.  All in all, Luther and the other Reformers like John Calvin opposed any teaching that added on Christ as means of salvation.  After, devotedly, studying Scripture, the Holy Spirit opened their eyes to see that salvation is through Christ Alone for only Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one can go to the Father unless he goes through Christ alone (John 14:6).

We now come to our time. Has this deadly temptation ceased to bother the Church? Not at all! It has just put on a new form. Today, some still preach that Christ is insufficient.  It is very disheartening to note that the preaching that focuses on Christ alone is becoming less and less popular. Instead those preaching Christ plus miracles or Christ plus success and riches or Christ plus prediction of minute details of life are becoming more popular and crowd pullers.  Whatever happened to the old but ever relevant and satisfying truth that Christ alone is all we need, I don’t know.

I pray that the Church today will sober up and realize that the Head of the Church, Jesus, is sufficient. We don’t need to add anything to him to make him sufficient or more appealing. Fellow preachers, please preach Christ Alone.  He is our all in all.

“For by (Christ) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross…and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority” (Colossians 1:16-20; 2:9, ESV).

“Dear Father,  give us this day the understanding of the sufficiency of Christ and deliver us from this deadly temptation of adding on Christ.” May all God’s people say…”Amen and Amen!”

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Christianity and theology

What is Wrong with ‘Prosperity Gospel’?

On the onset let me say that I know some true and sincere believers who have bought into ‘prosperity gospel’ for various reasons.  Some of these are personal friends and I know that this post will break them. I, strongly,  do pray that it breaks you not because I have written it, but because the Word of God contained in it, powered by the Holy Spirit, has come with full force in your life  to break you and thereafter mold you according to God’s will revealed to us in Scripture alone. Now here we go:

What is wrong with ‘prosperity gospel’? Before answering the question, it is good to put the record straight that ‘prosperity gospel’ is no gospel at all. The Bible is clear that there is only one Gospel (Galatians 1:6-8)and if I were to take at least one verse that summarizes this Gospel, I would go for John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This is the Gospel. Anything that adds or subtracts from it is no gospel at all.

In light of this, Apostle Paul warns us of ‘other gospels.’  His words in Galatians 1:8, 9 echo with great emphasis: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (ESV)

Now, what is wrong with ‘prosperity gospel?’ First, it misses the mark on God’s chief plan for a sinner. It emphasizes that one should come to Christ in order to get material blessings not what is big in God’s plan of salvation namely eternal life.

God gave his Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life on behalf of a sinner like me and die on behalf of a sinner as me and later rose from the dead so that every believer should have eternal life. Therefore, God’s chief plan in redemption is that man should be saved from sin and death and not to prosper materially. If that was the case John 3:16 would read: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should be healthy and wealthy.”

Secondly, ‘prosperity gospel’ robs God of his Godhood and renders Him as a vending machine. If one takes a closer look at ‘prosperity gospel,’ they will notice that it emphasizes on faith as means of obtaining blessings from God. So, God becomes a vending machine and the currency for buying on this vending machine is faith. You put faith in this vending machine and out comes a very big mansion. You slot in faith, and boom you have a top-notch job.  You push faith in and the machine gives you an ‘all-eyes-on-me’ car.  The moment you slot in faith, the vending machine spits out good health. If you a bachelor or spinster, you just have to put in faith, and the vending machine will give you a beautiful wife or handsome husband and a happiest marriage as a bonus.

So, people become followers of God because He is like a vending machine that gives them their wants and not because they have experienced His true and amazing love and grace in their lives.  It is similar to what Christ experienced while on earth. In John 6:1-71 we read that after Jesus miraculously fed 5000 men, He withdrew to a lonely place and later at night walked on the sea and joined His disciples as they crossed over to the other side of the lake.

The next day, when some people noticed that Christ was not among them, they got into boats and followed Jesus to the other side of the sea.  Upon meeting them, Jesus rebuked the people because their motive for seeking Him was wrong. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.  Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (26, 27 ESV).

In other words, Jesus is telling these people and us today that we should not follow Him because we want to prosper. Doing that is missing the mark. Rather we should follow Him because He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:16). Jesus is not the vending machine that dispenses out material blessings at our will. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

Material possessions, not matter how huge, cannot satisfy us. It is God who satisfies.  King Solomon explains this outstanding truth very well in the book of Ecclesiastes. King Solomon was a very prosperous man in every way (1 Kings 10:14-29).  However, despite having all those riches, Solomon still felt that life was useless and was like chasing after the wind because he did not allow God to satisfy him.

Eventually,  God enabled him to realize that  silver and gold cannot satisfy but only God and Solomon confessed and said: “All has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter: fear God and keep his commandments for that’s the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV). We should realize that only Christ and not the riches of this world can satisfy us. For sure, “Our hearts will remain restless until they find rest in Christ” (St Augustine).

Thirdly, ‘prosperity gospel’ robs God of his sovereignty.  By God’s sovereignty, we basically mean that God is in full control of what happens in heaven and on earth. He carries out all that he wills and nothing can stop His plans. In other words, when we say that God is sovereign, we mean that God is God.

Now do proponents of ‘prosperity gospel’ recognize God’s sovereignty in the lives of his people? No, they don’t because they teach that if you are a Christian you should prosper and be rich.  By such emphasis, they usurp the place of God and start determining the destiny of God’s people. They teach that it is God’s will for you to be rich.

Now, is it true to say that it is the will of God that every believer should be rich and prosper materially? Turning to the Bible, which by the way is a final rule of faith and practice for Christians, we find so many examples of believers who were very dedicated to God but were not materially rich including  Jesus himself who reminds us : “The poor you shall always have,” (Mark 14:7).

Does this mean that Christians should always be poor? No, that’s another extreme which the Bible does not teach. Instead the Bible calls on Christians to work hard and trust God for their both spiritual and physical needs. In the model prayer which Christ taught His disciples and is also commonly known as the Lord’s prayer, Jesus teaches us to trust God to provide for us and He encourages us to ask: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Luke 11:3 ESV). God knows our needs; we should trust him to meet such needs one day at a time.

Jesus also warns us of focusing our eyes so much on riches that we are  blinded to the fact that God is the sole provider  and sustainer when he says: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist  in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Another warning comes to us through the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 6:6-10:

“Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desire that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (ESV).

Apostle Paul continues with the word of admonition regarding focus more attention on riches than God  in 2 Timothy 6:17: “As for the rich in this present age, charge then not be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (ESV).

And what is this ‘everything to enjoy’? Is it big mansions, expensive cars, and excellent jobs? No, it is Jesus! Jesus is everything that a Christian needs to enjoy. Jesus is the greatest provision that God has made for his children far richer than material blessings which are temporal.  That’s why a Christian should echo the words of the Psalmist and say, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25, 26, NIV).

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