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Particulars of Christianity:
310 Pentecostalism,
the Charismatic
and Faith Movements

Christians and Material Wealth (Part 1)

Specific Doctrines of the Charismatic Movement/Faith Movement
Kenotic Theology
The Anointing and Being Under Authority (Part 1)
The Anointing and Being Under Authority (Part 2)
Sickness and Healing (Part 1)
Sickness and Healing (Part 2)
Prayer, Asking and Receiving (Part 1)
Prayer, Asking and Receiving (Part 2)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 1)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 2)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 3)
The "Rhema" and "Logos" Word (Part 1)
The "Rhema" and "Logos" Word (Part 2)
Those Who Speak in Tongues Necessarily Understand Themselves

Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4
| Section 5

Although we went to a Faith Movement church for over 8 years and believed the Faith Movement doctrine that God wills for all of us to have wealth, looking back now and considering this claim in light of the New Testament, I'm amazed at how I could have ever believed such a claim. To the unbiased observer, the New Testament is very clear about the following points.

First, the New Testament is very clear that Christians are not to seek after or be concerned with material wealth. Matthew 6 is an unbelievably clear passage on this point.

Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Notice that Jesus starts off with the very plain instruction that Christians are not to store up on earth treasures for themselves. Faith Movement teachers have interpreted this to indicate that by giving financial gifts in faith, we make deposits in heaven and so, we are actually laying up treasure in heaven and not on earth. But, no matter how you attempt to rework this passage, the minute that giving financial gifts to others begins to result in the accumulation of wealth on earth, then wealth is being stored up on earth and the instruction of the Lord is being violated.

And the reason for this is simple and equally clear in verse 21. If Christians have material wealth on earth, then our desire will be for those things. God wants our desire to be for his return from heaven and our inheritance in the kingdom. The more wealth we accumulate in this age, the more we will not want to see this age pass away and the less we will depend on the return of the Lord which will bring this age to an end. And this is dangerous for Christians because it creates a scenario in which we are quite content if Christ doesn't come back in our lifetimes. In fact, we may even be greatly relieved if we are able to live out our lives with all the things we enjoy in this age. At this point, our hope becomes the things of this age instead of the return of Christ.

And the Bible is quite clear that keeping a vigilant watch on the Lord's return is a necessary motivator for Christians who seek to keep themselves pure and ready to receive our inheritance at Christ's return (Matthew 24:42-43, Matthew 25:1-13, Mark 13:32-37, Luke 21:34-36, 1 Corinthians 16:13, Colossians 4:1-2, 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8, 1 Peter 4:7, 1 John 3:2-3, Revelation 3:2-3). Those who become less concerned with Christ's return because they are quite content to remain in this age with all that they have accumulated will miss out on a much-needed motivator to remain focused on the things of God and free from sin and distraction.

But we continue with Matthew 6.

Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Why does Jesus say, "the light of the body is the eye" in the midst of a statement about money and provision? It is clear that the inclusion of this statement about what the eye looks at in the midst of a discussion about money and material goods is meant to refer to seeing material things and wanting to acquire them. Jesus is warning his disciples about the appeal of material things, how they can attract the eyes, capture our attention and our desires, and before you know it we're being distracted by the desire to accumulate material items that we have seen and liked.

That this is Jesus' intent is evidenced by verse 24. In verse 24, after warning his disciples about the how what they eye focuses on can corrupt a person Jesus tells his disciples that it is not possible to serve two masters. He even names the masters, God and mammon. Mammon is a Greek word (Strong's No. 3126) of Aramaic origin, which simply refers to treasure or riches, whether personified as a god or simply as actual material wealth. So, Jesus warns his disciples about what the eye focuses on and then tells them that they cannot serve both God and treasure. This means that anyone who pursues treasure will not be able to serve God, but will end up despising God because his eyes will focus on and seek after treasure.

Faith Movement teachers like to try and get around this statement about two masters by saying clever twists such as "You don't serve money, you make money serve you." But again, no matter how you try to cleverly rework this statement, the fact is that as soon as a Christian begins to orient their life in such a way as to enable them to obtain material wealth on earth, they are pursuing money as their master and they are laying up treasures on earth. You would think that the statements "don't store up wealth on earth" and "you can't serve God and money" would be clear enough proof that God doesn't want Christians taking efforts to accumulate material wealth.

Once again, we continue on with Matthew 6.

Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

What is amazing about verses 25-30 is that it directly addresses the Faith Movement doctrine of "sowing financial seed." In the Faith Movement, the very common metaphor of "sowing seed" is used as a means to teach the doctrine that Christians need to give financially in order to receive financial provision from God. But in verse 26, Jesus clearly makes reference to the birds of the air as an example of God's provision, yet he clearly states that God provides for them despite the fact that they don't sow or reap.

Now, does this mean that Christians should not give or that sowing seed is an inappropriate metaphor for giving? Of course not, Paul uses this very metaphor in 2 Corinthians 9:5-15. However, notice that in 2 Corinthians 9:5, Paul clearly begins by stating that they are not supposed to give motivated by the belief or desire to receive back for their giving, which Paul calls giving out of "covetousness." Rather, the point in Matthew 6:26 is simply that God's provision for us is not ultimately dependent upon our sowing financial seed. Instead, it is dependent on our seeking God and not money and on our trusting enough in His provision that we do not try to store up material wealth.

In verse 30, Jesus criticizes his audience as "ye of little faith" not because they aren't sowing financial seeds in faith and not because they aren't exercising faith and producing wealth by it, but because to the very contrary, when they try to store up material goods on earth they are acting in doubt of God's provision. So then, it is clear that according to Jesus, to store up material goods on earth is an act of doubt not a demonstration that our faith is working through seed-sowing to produce financial riches.

Matthew 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Here in verse 31, Jesus says that seeking after ways to acquire material goods is something that the ungodly do. Instead, if we will trust in God's provision rather than storing up wealth and rather than taking efforts to store up wealth, we will be able to pursue God without distraction. Thus, he will be our only master and he will provide for us.

It should be noted that learning a trade and working with our own hands does not qualify as "seeking wealth" or "giving thought to material things." For, in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, Paul requires that every man work so that he can provide for himself instead of living off of the Church.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

Seeking wealth and giving thought to material things then includes those actions and priorities we set to acquire material goods, which go beyond just learning a trade and working for a living. And, even if our job becomes a means by which we pursue acquiring wealth to satisfy our desire for "the finer things in life" and "the best life has to offer" then we are getting distracted. A job should merely be a means of providing for our needs and not a means of excelling in the accumulation of wealth.

Luke 12:15-34 is a parallel account of Jesus' teaching in Matthew 6. However, in the Luke account there are a few other interesting points that are made.

Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 22 And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.

In Luke's account of this teaching, Jesus begins with the warning "beware of coventousness," which Jesus defines in terms of a man's desire for "abundance of the things which he possesses." Christians today often want to redefine covetousness to a more extreme quality such as jealousy or wanting something to the point that you wish others harm. But according to the Bible, covetousness is simply the desire for an abundance of material possessions here in this age. And we will see more of how Paul used this word "covetousness" later on in this section.

Notice the parable Jesus tells here. In this parable, the man is trying to find a way to store up the fruit of his labor. Then, when he is finally able to store up the fruit of his labor and he is satisfied, he will say to himself, "thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." What is this man's goal? It is to be able to save up enough material goods that he can sit back and rest assured that he is provided for many years ahead of time. For this God calls him foolish. And it is this way of living that Jesus contrasts with God providing on a daily basis as he does for the birds.

Notice also that according to Luke, it is this parable that leads to the instruction we have already covered in Matthew 6, starting with the instruction that Christians are not to store up treasure on earth. Or in other words, when Jesus says, "store not up treasure on earth" what he is referring to is this man in the parable who was trying to store up enough money that he could provide for himself years and years ahead of time. Such an attempt is the very opposite of relying on God for provision, which is what Jesus was instruction his audience to do.

Luke 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. 32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Notice also from verse 32 that the treasure in heaven is our inheritance in the coming kingdom of God. Storing up treasure in heaven, therefore, does not refer to some supernatural way of generating wealth for ourselves during this age. Notice also that Jesus here tells his disciples to sell what they have and give it to the poor. His purpose here is not that they can or should tap into some supernatural mechanism that will provide even more money back to them when they give. Instead, Jesus' point here is simple. If you sell what you own here on earth, then your heart won't be on your earthly things. It will be on the things of God and you will be able to pursue God and his kingdom first.

Most likely, what Jesus is referring to here is the same thing he speaks of in the following passages.

Matthew 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

Mark 10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

Luke 18:29 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, 30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.

When we give, what we get back is not greater material gain. Notice that giving up houses is listed right alongside giving up family members. Well, you obviously don't give your mother to someone else in need in the hopes of getting a better mother or more mothers back for the one you gave away. Instead, rather than investing what we have, Jesus is talking about abandoning those things that draw us away from pursuing the kingdom of God. It's not that we should automatically leave our families, for God has put us in our families. But if our family or our possessions or our job begins to be an influence deterring our pursuit of God, then we need to abandon them so that our pursuit of God can continue unhindered.

And what we will receive back in return are the mother and brothers and sisters who are in the Church who will take us into their homes (Acts 10:32, Acts 16:15, 40, 18:1-3, 7, Acts 21:8) and share with us what they have as we share with them. It is these mothers and brothers and sisters who hear the word of God and obey it (Matthew 12:47-50, Mark 3:21, 31-35), and so will not distract us from our pursuit of God because they are pursuing God just as we are, rather than deterring us from our pursuit. And in this way, without earthly things to distract us, our hearts will be set only on the return of Jesus Christ to set up his kingdom on earth, which is the kingdom of God. Thus, we will not miss out on our inheritance as a result of being distracted and sidetracked, which is exactly what happens to some in the Parable of the Sower and the Seed (Matthew 13:3-23, Mark 4:3-20, Luke 8:5-15).