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The Blessings Of God
As discussed in the "The Gospel of Convenience", and "Investing Christian" articles here on this site, American Christianity teaches that money, possessions, stock market holdings, "toys" and all manner of material possessions are "the blessings of God". We too used to accept this as truth. We have recently been convicted by the Holy Spirit , and instructed by God, to speak out against this principal as a heresy, and a deception of the Devil, that it has taken some 30 - 40 years for our enemy to foster into church doctrine. We have encountered some truly amazing responses in this endeavor, in the form of, in some cases, condemnation from fellow Christians. We have been told we are "lost", "out there", "unthankful to God".
The concepts of the "blessings of God", and "stewardship" are now doctrines in the church. They include the teaching that your possessions are bestowed "blessings", or "gifts" from God, and that it is you're duty as a Christian, to be a faithful "steward" of those things (I.E. that you are to maintain them, upgrade them, increase them, or nurture (love) them.) However, the word "blessings" only appears in the above scripture, and in the following verses, as "blessing"...
Luke 24:53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
Romans 15:29 And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?
Galatians 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Hebrews 6:7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God:
Hebrews 6:14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
Hebrews 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
1 Peter 3:9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
Revelation 5:12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.
Revelation 5:13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.
Revelation 7:12 Saying, Amen: blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
4 times the word is used as meaning "Praise or Worship", ( Luke 24:53,Revelation 5:12,5:13, and 7:12). 4 times it is used as meaning "salvation" ( Romans 15:29, 1 Corinthians 10:16, Galatians 3:14,and the second use in 1 Peter 3:9). 3 times it is used as meaning "Approval" or "Love" ( James 3:10, Hebrews 6:7 and the first use in 1 Peter 3:9). In the last 2 uses, ( Hebrews 6:14, and in Hebrews 12:17), Paul was discussing the Old Testament patriarchs, and the circumstances surrounding their "inheritances" which as we know, were the "blessing" (anointing) of God, as the rightful leaders of Israel.
In no context in scripture, other than the context of ancient Israel, which we all know WAS in fact an earthly kingdom, is the word "blessing" used to indicate land, or material possessions. So the use of "blessings" as a doctrine in which people are given material wealth, possessions, and increase, as a gift of God, is out of context with the Church of Jesus Christ, (a Spiritual kingdom), and with the Bible as a whole. Since the Old (earthly) covenant is fulfilled in Christ, its principals do not apply to the Church, except where Jesus expanded on them.
STEWARD OR STEWARDSHIP...
Also, in the entire New Testament, the word "Steward", only appears in the following verses...
Matthew 20:8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the laborers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
Luke 8:3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance.
Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.
Luke 16:2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou may be no longer steward.
Luke 16:3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord takes away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed.
Luke 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
In all 8 uses of the word "Steward" given in the New Testament, the meaning of the word is "Care Taker" of something. It is indicated as this person's secular job. The only verse in which a steward is stated in a doctrine concerning the Church of Jesus Christ is in Titus 1:7, where the Bishop is described as one who posses these traits, please note that one of those traits is, "not given to filthy lucre;" (as described in "The Investing Christian" article). Most of the scriptures above were part of a parable, where Jesus was teaching a principle of our faith, but the "items" described in those parables were not the point, we will discuss this further later in this article.
There are three appearances of the word "stewardship" in the New Testament, and they are found in the following versus, 2 of them were above...
Luke 16:2-4 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou may be no longer steward. Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord takes away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
Brothers and Sisters, "Stewardship", as a doctrine from God that orders us to grow our money, make it increase, and spend our lives, and we might add a HUGE portion of our time, dedication, and strength doing, is not in line with the things that Jesus taught us about a life that is pleasing to him. These scriptures do in fact teach a "principle" of faithfulness, but when taken in the context of ALL of Jesus' other teachings, they can not possibly be intended to refer to our constantly increasing wealth, especially when Jesus spent a very significant portion of his time condemning riches. Some would then ask "Then, what is meant by this scripture"...
Matthew 25: 14-28 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and dug in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoned with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou delivered unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou delivered unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knew that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed: Thou aught therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents...
We would contend, that like other scripture verses that we have discussed here, Jesus is teaching the principle of faithfulness in this Parable. Often times in the Parables of Jesus, the examples given are used to teach a principle, not give a teaching on the exact items in the parable. When taken in the context of Jesus' teaching one would need to say that Jesus contradicted himself, if he was teaching here about how we need to expand our wealth, since he utterly condemned wealth everywhere he went. Would Jesus teach in one city that riches are evil, and of the devil, and in another city, that you must make your money grow and grow faithfully? We think not. All of Jesus' parables used earthly things to illustrate his point. This parable is no exception to that rule. The parable is not about money. Here are a few examples of what we are saying...
Maybe we should talk about Money in the Christian Church?...
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