$$$ Contract With The Devil: No Sellouts In Heaven (Part 2)

          “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” [Mark 4:18-19]     

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         The Lord Jesus taught His followers to take on what is essentially a non-wealth credo, to appear to the world as not only credible but perfectly innocent regarding the “deceitfulness of riches.”

         If one has this attitude he can then be trusted with money. If one does not he will compromise his morals and attempt to enrich himself, will eventually lose his soul in the process, and possibly take many with him.

            For perspective, contrast the Lord Jesus with King Solomon. The latter possessed the land and bound the Lord’s people with exorbitant taxes and slave labor to enrich himself. The Lord did the very opposite, in that He personally supported his disciples financially, including their families, but took next to nothing for Himself. He treated them like kings. He stepped into the low place and afforded them a higher place. Which of these two best reflect Unreal Christianity?

         Money in itself is, of course, not evil. It is the love of money and one’s dependence upon it other than the Lord that is evil and bewitching. Not only can the real Christian break this evil power by engaging in the proper attitude and spiritual mindset as taught by the Lord, he can also break the spirit of poverty that might be inflicting him.

         Many of the poor are poor because they do not do things God’s way regarding money. But the Lord was voluntarily of low income for a purpose. He had authority over a relatively large amount of ministry income but used next to none of it for Himself. By this example, He teaches us there are times His people must be voluntarily of low income for a purpose also.

         We have learned that proper giving actually increases our incomes instead of what would seem to be the opposite. Giving properly with a right heart breaks the spirit of poverty. But much more importantly, proper giving breaks the deceitful and bewitching power of mammonas, the false god of riches and avarice, over us, and gives it no foothold in our lives.

         Would that all Christians, Christian ministries, and Christian “churches” practice this truth. That most do not should be obvious. The fact that it is not obvious for many Christians means they are in a state of enchantment brought on by a love of money and the fear that they may not gain it or will lose it. Those who use it improperly not only enrich themselves with God’s money but build monuments to themselves and their false beliefs.

         Perhaps this is why the Lord and His original disciples never built “church” buildings or ministry centers or whatever. And perhaps this is why they met in homes or in public places. And perhaps this is why they were ostracized by well-to-do society—a society that looked down on them because they possessed none of the accoutrements of wealth or at least minimal standing in the culture.

         And no more evident was this disdain toward them exhibited than by the members in good standing of religious establishments. Presently this disdain descends especially from “Christian” establishments—some of the most judgmental, absconding, condescending, and contemptuous of all.

         Let no one ever forget that the Lord was killed by His own, that the apostle Paul received most of his persecution from his own, and that most real Christians throughout history have received the worst of it from their own. And the majority of such persecution was and is due to the persecutors being threatened in a way that involved their wealth, power, religious prestige, and standing in this world.

         “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” [Luke 16:13]

         “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” [Luke 14:33]

         At this point, further explanation is demanded. Christianity 101 states that each human being is a sinner in need of the salvation paid for by the Lord through His sacrificial death. For those who accept the Lord’s salvation, they must also accept the fact that He purchased them by His blood. In other words, the Lord Jesus has rightful claim to those who are blessed with the salvation He paid for to set them free. He paid our ticket out of jail. He gives us power over sin. He blesses us with abundant life. This is the most all or nothing transaction possible regarding any human being.

         Part of giving our lives to Him involves being willing to walk away from everything we possess. This is what He means by giving up our possessions. In reality, though, this NASB95 translation and others like it are somewhat poor. Check out what the Young’s Literal Translation says:

         ‘So, then, every one of you who doth not take leave of all that he himself hath, is not able to be my disciple.’ [Luke 14:33]

         Now, compare that with The Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern:

         “So every one of you who doesn’t renounce all that he has cannot be my talmid.” [Luke 14:33]

         Now let’s consider the context. The Lord was explaining that our discipleship must require such single-minded loyalty to Him that we will “hate” our family members by comparison. The Lord, of course, is not telling us to hate. The translation comes off that way, but what he is saying is that not even any family opposition must deter one from his or her discipleship. So, if one is willing to give his entire life, carry his cross, and renounce family and the family religion if need be, walking away from one’s material possessions is not that big a deal.

         It is all a question of loyalty to God and a recognition that He owns the title deed to everything, to the entire planet and the universe itself. And He obviously also must have authority over His children.

         But Peter still had his house because we know the Lord stayed there. So Peter had not given up his house. But he did give it up for the cause of the Lord and His community. This is the point.

         In Acts, when the disciples went “house to house” they had houses to go “house to house” to (Acts 2:46). They were doing this after they sold their property, possessions, and goods (Acts 2:45). What they did when they sold their possessions etc. was give up their extra stuff to those in the community that lacked, and offered their stuff to be shared if need be.

         BUT IT WAS ALL VOLUNTARY. IT WAS NOT COERCED. IT WAS NOT SOME AUTHORITATIVE FORCED SOCIALISM.

         Those who gave and shared had to do it with a spirit of love and compassion, with no condemnation or judgment for anyone who did not give or share. This was the Lord’s exact attitude. He did not lay guilt trips on people. But He explained that if one were to join His community, he or she must deny self and any individual ownership toward possessions in case the Lord needed those possessions for another, or the money their sale could bring.

         Isn’t it obvious that if the Lord calls a person into ministry, and a person surrenders to the Lord for ministry, the Lord Jesus pretty much has authority over that person? How much more then does He have authority over his or her stuff?

         Regardless of how plain this truth is, it is almost never applied in “official” churches or ministries, and as a result most Christians have thrown the entire concept right out the window. They won’t touch it with a million-foot pole. This proves official churches are not real communities, but mere collections of disassociated people who share geography weekly. Some good stuff does happen. Some give, and some give a lot. Many share in some way.

         Imagine then, how much more could be shared if there was not the monumental expenditures of church buildings and all their related expenses. But that’s another teaching for another time. (See my book!)

         “For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” [Luke 6:43-45]

         “For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.

         “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

         “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.

         “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [Luke 12:30-34] [1]

         It does seem as though there is a contradiction here. The Lord told His disciples to seek the kingdom first, and all that the world seeks would be given to them. He then tells them to sell their possessions.

         Could it be the Lord is telling them to take their restrictive personal ownership out of the equation? Remember, the Lord had need of things that other people owned, and He somehow gained access to those things (He needed money to pay a tax and gained it from a fish).

         He needed a colt to ride into Jerusalem upon that someone else owned. He needed an upper room for the Last Supper that someone else owned. He accepted monetary donations from others. If those who owned the possessions He needed did not possess them, the prophesied Biblical events that must take place would never have taken place. Therefore, personal ownership and having title to possessions is necessary, is not wrong or evil in itself, and I do not think He is telling us as a point of doctrine to go sell everything we own, though He might tell that to some, and there might be occasions when we must.

         There is a spiritual principle at work here that He wants us to know and use. If a possession owns us, it is not good. If the money we possess possesses us, it is not good. How can we be free in the Lord if we are bound by riches and possessions? How can we serve God if we serve mammon?

         Whoever owned the upper room shared it when it was needed for God’s purposes, as did the one who owned the colt. But because they had title, they took care of the possessions for whenever they might be needed. This shows both a complete willingness to share and give, but also the responsibility required to take care of them.

         There was a man whom the Lord had blessed, and it was most likely not a financial blessing. He had given this man the Words of Life, and the gentleman was eternally grateful. When the time came that he needed to bless the Lord, this man gave not only of the fullness of his heart, but blessed the Lord with a very expensive possession that he owned and had just built. With his gift, one of the greatest happenings in human history took place. And the really cool thing about it, whether the man knew it would work out that way or not, was that the Lord would end up giving it right back.

            His name was Joseph. He owned a tomb…

         © 2014 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on April 6, 2014, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thank you, RJ, for this insightful reminder about the love of money. We are ever being tempted to succumb to the world’s ways and standards–even for those of us who follow the Lord and desire the comforts of life. May we remain true to our commitment to be true disciples of Jesus Christ, living in obedience to his teachings and his revealed will for each of us–no matter the cost.

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    • Thanks Derrick. I appreciate the comment.

      There is without doubt a balance. Like so many of the things He teaches, I think He often tries to tell us that something which appears good might be just the opposite, and to pay attention. You have stated it right, that we must be alert and cognizant of the pitfalls regarding money. At the very least, we always have plenty of bad examples not to follow!

      Have a great week.

      Like

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