Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Camel That Broke The Straw Man's Back

source:bloggingpro.com

"And again I say to you, 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" (Matt 19:24).

"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt 16:26).


For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Tim 6:10)

strawman
:  a weak or imaginary opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted
(source: Merriam-Webster)




As you know, it's getting harder and harder to find a good church these days.

I don't necessarily mean one that has a decent worship group, or has nice comfortable seats to sit in, great coffee and biscuits after service, or even good facilities for the kids.

Those things are good to have, but I'm talking about a good biblical church: 


One where the Pastor faithfully exegetes the word of God correctly every week. 

One where the Pastors & Elders don't think twice about spending time by your hospital bed, interceding for you, anointing and praying for you. 
One where the Pastor doesn't shirk from challenging false beliefs that inevitably rear their ugly heads from time to time. 
One where the body takes delight in spending time with each other in fellowship.
One where time is made for corporate outreach to the local, and worldwide community.

I am fortunate enough to belong to such a church. 
And no, I'm not saying it is perfect because I go there - the very fact that I attend puts paid to that theory.

There are other 'churches' out there for everyone:
  • Seeker-Sensitive ones 
These try all sorts of gimmicks to draw people in, instead of obeying Matt 28:18-20 which tells them to go out (see my earlier post of my visit to Arise Church, Wellington). 
They'll have you coming back week after week looking for the latest entertainment and life-tips. Then they'll do a bait-and-switch to get you to 'make a decision' for Christ.


  • Prophetic and Apostolic ones
These  ignore the fact that Eph 2:19-20 tells them that the apostolic / prophetic era has finished.
They'll have you doing 'carpet time' - being slain in a spirit they claim as holy. 
They'll also give you extra-biblical revelation that both contradicts the Word of God and side-steps the Gospel. 

  • Stuffy, non-threatening ones (aka Roman Catholic)
These ignore Col 1:9-18 that tells them that Christ is the head of the Church. 
They'll have someone parading around performing unbiblical rituals.
They'll also blasphemously absolve people of their sins through the name of Christ's earthly and sinful mother, who can save nobody.
And they'll have you doing good works that apparently earn you brownie points with God.


And lastly, there's the
  • Word / Faith ones
Aka Prosperity, Name-It-And-Claim-It, Blab-It-And-Grab-It. 
These seem to be a splash of all of the above, with the added bonus of health and wealth thrown in (on the proviso that your faith is big enough).

These are also the ones you'll most likely see on TV. They are hated by the world, but loved by their followers.


The world hates them because they see them for who they are - money-grubbing con-artists with Armani suits and Rolexes, diamonds and facelifts. 

They promise the world and everything in it. But the big rewards only come with big seed offerings (to them, of course). 

Their followers love them because they are filled with greed, and hang off every word they say. They are like salivating dogs, begging at the meal table, waiting for scraps to fall off the plate.


And who gets the rewards? The churchgoer who plants their weekly seed offering, thinking God will bless them for their huge step of faith? The one who faithfully serves their church, thinking that it will gain them heavenly promotion or reward?

Nope.


The only one who gains is the prosperity preacher themselves. They have built up a feeder system where the money gets filtered to them at the top. In short, it's a Christianised Ponzi-scheme, designed to trick and brainwash the unsuspecting believer into thinking that God blesses and rewards financial seed-planters. And the bigger the seed offering, the bigger the blessing.


My wife used to deal in selling products via a scheme like this. And the more people she signed up to do the same thing, meant a higher commission percentage she would earn from their sales. The same went for the person who signed her up. That person would receive a bigger percentage again.


But at least it was all in the open. No one was fooling anyone into thinking there was no greed going on.

And at least the buyer had a tangible product to show for their purchase.


But the unsuspecting convert to the prosperity gospel has nothing to show for their 'audacious act of faith', but an empty bank account, ill-health, and a bitter spirit against God.


Here's how it works:

1) They have believed the lie that God is waiting for them to be obedient in this or that area of their life - then and only then will He shower all sorts of gifts on them (financial and spiritual); 

2) the keys to unlocking these blessings belong to, of course, the Word/Faith preacher. They can purchase these keys for a seed offering to their ministry;


3) and when no financial reward comes, it means that either their faith wasn't big enough, or there was something blocking the blessings from flowing. This means they have been disobedient...
and so the cycle continues...

Here's a couple of go-to passages that apparently 'proves' their doctrine:


Matt 13:3-12 - badly twisting the parable of the sower to mean that the 'good ground that will yield the greatest return' is, why of course, their ministry!

It's a shame they don't keep reading, because Jesus gives the explanation of the parable in verses 18-22. His interpretation is nothing like these charlatans are peddling.

1 Kings 17:1-16, a wonderful story of God fulfilling His promise - the widow and the prophet.
But according to the prosperity preachers, this means that God will only reward you if you are obedient first. And what is that obedience? Sow a seed to the prophet (them, of course), and reward will come.
What they missed is that God already promised the reward before she even did anything (v14), so baking the bread was a sign of the fulfillment of the promise, not an act of obedience to earn the reward.  

I'm sure you could think of others.

Here's a couple of examples of poisonous prosperity preaching:

Larry Huch 
Larry & Tiz Huch
source:larryhuchministries.com
The Huch(ster)s' are serial flock-fleecers. Their go-to con is Jewish festival harvests.
Masquerading as pro-Israel, they time their fleecing to coincide with the many Jewish festivals, conning people into believing that 'extra blessings' will happen during these times. Your seed offering they claim supports tree-planting, and help build a new underground hospital in Haifa, Israel.
Sowing a gift of $75 will get you an (un)amazing false-teaching video on curse-breaking. You'll also get a special cross necklace (as modelled by Tiz).

But wait, there's more! For $225 or more, you get all the above, plus another false teaching. You'll also receive a specially commissioned, hand-crafted promise cross to hang on the wall (a bigger version of the necklace). 

$150 for 3 pieces of metal welded together? Wow, what a bargain!

The Huchsters will twist any bible verse to get a buck. Which is a shame, because their charity work on the surface seems genuine. 
They would be better off being honest and asking people to donate to the state-of-the-art bomb-proof hospital, and leaving the scripture-twisting out of it. All this does is create serious doubt, labels them false teachers, and all trust is lost with regards to any money going to its' rightful place.

Another proponent of this Jewish festival fleecing is Rod Parsley.
For your seed offering to his ministry, he will gift you your very own prayer cloth. And on December 4, 2016, he, alongside fellow liar and false teacher Benny Hinn, will pray with you at a Worldwide Miracle, Healing and Victory Prayer Cloth Service:


Request a prayer cloth ... prepare to receive your MIRACLE!
Be Made Whole | Experience the Power of the Prayer Cloth | Click here to learn moreWhat do you need today? Wholeness in your body, your spirit, your mind and emotions ... your family, your finances... a touch from an Almighty GOD.

God has a plan to deliver you by the power of His tangible and transferable anointing through the use of a prayer cloth according to Acts 19! 

Set your miracle in motion. Obey God’s Word. Express your faith. Sow your seed. Request your prayer cloth.God will meet you at the point of your need.

Mark your calendar and make your plans to be with us on December 4 at the foot of the cross where Dr. Rod Parsley and Pastor Benny Hinn want to pray for your miracle.
REQUEST A PRAYER CLOTH NOW!
Rod Parsley, pretending to intercede on your behalf
source: rodparsley.com

I have no idea which god they are going to pray to, as the God of the bible has never promised to touch you with prosperity.

And apologies if you have read this after December 4, and missed out on your miracle. 
Don't worry, though. Rod has lots of other ways to help empty your bank account  bless you.



Creflo Dollar Jr
Creflo & Taffi Dollar
source:creflodollarministries.org
Dollar is more of your run-of-the-mill name-it-and-claim-it teacher. That doesn't mean he's not dangerous, because he is. He absolutely is.

Able to twist scripture quicker than a balloon-animal artist on speed, Dollar cons his followers into believing that they are 'little gods' - able to create realities through the words they speak. Words have meanings, and when we speak negative things, negative things come into our lives. But when we speak positive things - prosperity, health etc - these things will come to be, if we have big enough faith.  

He needs to listen to himself, because he's getting old, rather bald, greying, and needs reading glasses. Uh-oh, something went wrong there.

Dollar may be his last name, but it's definitely his first love. 




He's written numerous books on money and prosperity. Here's some examples:


You're Supposed To Be Wealthy: How To Make Money, Live Comfortably, and Build an Inheritance for Future Generations (2014)

The Holy Spirit, Your Financial Adviser: God's Plan for Debt-Free Money Management (2013)


8 Steps to Create the Life You Want: The Anatomy of a Successful Life (2008)

Total Life Prosperity: 14 Practical Steps to Receiving God's Blessing (1999).







Last year, Dollar staged a fleece  made an appeal for viewers / partners / gullible followers, to give gifts of up to US$300 each to the ministry, in order that he could purchase a brand new US$65M Gulfstream Jet. 
Apparently his old one was getting a bit unreliable. He says he needs it to spread the [Prosperity] Gospel. It has become so run down that he has taken to using standard commercial airlines. Definitely not the way for a modern day [self-appointed] prophet to travel!
Days later he dropped the appeal, but said the ministry was going to buy one anyway. 

I'm guessing he did the right thing and refunded those who initially fell for it? 
Pffft. Or should that be 'profit'?

I guess no one told him that if words have meaning, then all he would need to do is repeat his surname over and over again, and the breakthrough would come.
And he wants to spread the Gospel? What's wrong with walking down to the street corner and starting there? You don't need $65m for that. 

There are countless other red flags with regards to Dollars' theology, but I am focusing in on his love for money. He has lots of it. He wants you to have lots of it too, because he wants to get his hands on yours as well.

He's the cool fleecer. The Fonzi Ponzi.

But again, like the Huchs, is it wrong to make money from giving financial advice? 

No. 

But it is wrong, and blasphemous, to tag the name of Jesus onto it. 
Why? Because He Himself said "You cannot serve both God and money" (Matt 6:24).

And this is where you can see the glaring departure from scripture.
If you read the Gospels in context, you can't help but come away with the conclusion that love of God and love of money go together as much as pizza does with goldfish.

Jesus said in 


  • Matt 16:24-28 
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."

Surely the self-absorption of money, fame, recognition, and prosperity is counter to denying yourself? 
If you claim to deny yourself, then claim that God wants you to have lots of money, doesn't that sound hypocritical?

This is one statement from Jesus that flies in the face of the prosperity Gospel, and here's another:


  • Matt 6:24

"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money".

God is a very jealous God. He will not let anything come between Himself and His people. Saying you love God, and at the same time crave for the material possessions of this earth is double-speak. Wanting more and more of these things means you have given your heart over to them, and abandoned your first love, of God.

And if that's not enough to sway you, then here's the final nail in the coffin:


  • Matt 19:24

"And again I say to you, 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".

If that doesn't put you off desiring money, then nothing will.

But Jesus isn't saying that if you have money you can't get to heaven. However, it is harder.

And when you look at the reasons Jesus gave in the earlier verses, it makes sense why it's harder.

Firstly, if you are born again, your old ways are behind you. The allure that the world had with all it's treasures, should now look dull in comparison to the riches in Christ.
And the richness I'm talking about is the richness of life in Christ's presence- in His Word, in His presence in worship and intercession, and the richness in knowing that this will last into eternity.

Secondly, when you pledge your life and your future to someone, but are pulled away by another love, you are in essence telling your first love that you don't love them anymore.
How do you think your first love would react to that? Would they say "That's OK, I don't mind playing second fiddle to your mistress."?
I wouldn't think so. The doghouse would have your name written above it in flashing neon lights.
So why would we expect God to react any different?

And that's why it's easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich person to enter heaven. It can show that their faith is not in Christ, but their financial security.

Note that I'm not saying you can't be rich and enter heaven. Like most things, Jesus makes it an issue of the heart, or where your real love is. 

And that begs the question - if Jesus says it's harder to enter heaven when you're rich - why are these people constantly peddling this doctrine?

Answer: they don't care about what the Bible says. They. Just. Want. Your. Money.

How do I know that? Because they twist scripture to say what they want it to say. And they make it so obvious they are doing it. And that's what makes their doctrine easy to refute.

It's like a strawman argument: 
Instead of answering the most obvious question of the Bible - how does man get right with God? - they attempt to bamboozle the reader into believing that the Bible is all about how God is just waiting in heaven for you to be obedient in this or that area, so that He can bless you with all sorts of gifts and prosperity.

And what happens to the true Gospel? It is forgotten. It is pushed to the side as meaningless. It is re-written to be all about you.

These people say that God wants you to be rich (a book by Paul Zane Pilzer).

Yet Jesus says says it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven...

...and that's the camel that broke the straw man's back.

Blessings 

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