March 20, 2005
When I first began writing on this topic I thought it would be something short enough that we could put on the Hand of Help website as an article. What I believed would be no longer than 4 pages, turned out to be a little over thirty pages, with God putting a new avenue of exploration on my heart each time I sat down to write. Due to this we've decided to make the entire topic an issue of the Prophetic Times, which will be available shortly.
I believe that this is a very important topic for the children of God, especially during these eventful times in which we are living. I feel everyone reading this needs to have a copy of the entire teaching, and if you can't afford the shipping costs, I will send you a copy of the latest Prophetic Times free of charge, Just e-mail us your name and address, with the title "Was Jesus Really Rich?"
The simple truth, is that we must know what we believe, and why we believe it, but most importantly we must be certain that what we believe lines up with the word of God.
May God bless you.
To hear some modern day preachers tell the tale, one would think someone should be making a serious effort to investigate, and perhaps even find Christ's hidden millions, in a Swiss bank account quietly racking up the interest. If not in a Swiss bank account, then perhaps an archeological expedition should be launched to find His buried treasures, somewhere near Bethlehem, a vast fortune lying in wait for that one fortunate to kick up a stone, or remove a boulder and forever confirm this newly weaved fable of a savior of unparalleled wealth, who traveled with an entourage, and dined only in the finest of inns.
With leaps of logic that would make Darwin blush, it seems many have convinced themselves and others that Christ Jesus was a man of immeasurable financial clout, who had need of nothing, rested in palaces and had the most respected designers of His time make His one of a kind clothes, because He feared being mistaken for just another common man.
If you think this is too far out there, or that I'm attempting to poke fun, keep in mind that the preceding assertions were taken from actual sermons of actual American evangelists. These are the claims that Christ came to this earth, and went about His ministry from an elevated position of excess, looking down on the poor desiring not to save their souls from eternal damnation, but save them from a life of poverty here on earth, and show them the ten step program to wealth and prosperity.
What we hear being said is so contrary to what the actual word of God says, that it makes one wonder what would be the reason for twisting the scripture in such devastating ways? Could it be that we must pervert the word of God in order to justify our own greed and desire for wealth and recognition? Could it be that if we allowed the word of God to stand as is we could not excuse our own moral ambiguity and compromise for the sake of power and privilege?
I have fought with myself over whether or not I should write this article for some time, knowing that I would be on the receiving end of allot of criticism. In the end I decided to write it, and make it available for one reason alone. If we are to believe that Jesus was a wealthy baron, then our mental picture of who Jesus was, and what He did while here on earth must change greatly, the same can be said of His apostles as well.
No longer would we be able to picture in our mind's eye, the Jesus of the Bible, who came to preach the gospel to the poor, no longer would we be able to envision the Christ who went into the temple and drove all the merchants out with a whip of cords, proclaiming 'Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!"
Instead the picture that would steadily form, would be a picture of a shrewd business man, one who pandered to whomever he was addressing, a politician if you will, who gave nothing of his wealth to the poor, and demanded that even His disciples go out barefoot and broke, just so he could save a few shekels.
No longer would we envision a loving Savior who took the time to reach out even to what the people of that time considered the worthless of society, but a polished entrepreneur, who would not utter a word until his honorarium fees were met, and would only perform a miracle if the person in questions 'sowed a seed' into His ministry.
If we are to assume as many state that Jesus was wealthy beyond measure, then his selfishness and greed extended beyond this mortal life, beyond the veil of flesh, for after his passing and subsequent resurrection we see Peter and John walking by the beautiful gates of the temple, and there before them a lame man made the modest request of a modern day, 'can you spare some change' and they had no change to give. They patted their pockets and said, 'silver and gold have we not.' Then what of Christ's fortune, what of His will and testament, didn't He leave anything to His apostles? Did He make preparations in advance and have His loot buried under the cover of night so if He couldn't spend it no one could?
Before we get to the heart of the matter, before we begin to search out and see what Jesus really said about money and treasures here on earth, I must say that I have nothing against rich people. There is nothing wrong with being blessed of God in a material sense. The only problem I have, one that makes my skin crawl, is when we take the material things of this life, and make them the focus and center of our doctrine.
When we no longer preach Jesus crucified, but Jesus handing out hundred dollar bills like there was no tomorrow. When our focus as children of God is shifted from the things of God's kingdom to the things of this earthly realm, we not only lose sight of the reason we are here, but dishonor the God of the Bible who has greater things than the material to give to His beloved.
When our expectations of our God extend only as far as the world's expectations of their God, then in effect we insult our God. What our God has to offer freely to all those who would ask, is far greater than anything the world has to offer. As is often the case however, we've been distracted and mesmerized by he crumbs and scraps on the floor, while God is trying to get us to look higher and see the table that He has set for His own.
The scraps are for the dogs dear friends, those things of true worth, are reserved only for the righteous of God.
It is truly disturbing to see that the children of God have come to associate and define joy, and blessing by the same criteria the world uses to define them. If we believe as the world believes that money brings happiness, that it is the cure all for anything that ails us, then how is it that we see existence through spiritual eyes?
If we are dead to this flesh, then our perception of what true worth is, our definition of blessing and joy must be different than those of the world. Otherwise we are doomed to chase after the worthless things of this world, and miss out on a relationship with God, and all, that God has to offer.
I realize some of you may be shaking your heads in dismay wondering what this has to do with prophecy, or with the times in which we are living, but if you terry just a little while longer with God's help I hope to make you see that although it seems like just another topic of discussion that isn't really substantive but more of an intellectual exercise, this is one of the issues that may have eternal ramifications for some believers.
The reason I believe this is a topic we must explore now rather than later, is because the teachings that are going forth and being consumed by a large number of Christians, have at their core, the idea that all we must expect as children of God, is wealth, prosperity, and great times here on earth. The idea that we may have to endure persecution for Jesus' sake, that we may be called to answer, and suffer four our faith is so contrary to what these teachings of excess and privilege assert, that speaking of suffering or persecution is not only frowned upon, but labeled as outright heresy.
There is an old Prussian saying that lies at the foundation of what I am trying to bring out through these writings, the saying being, "a man living in expectation of battle, is ready when faced with battle."
The modern day church is not living in expectation of trials or tribulations, it is not living in expectation of being hated for His name's sake, it is not living in expectation of being betrayed by friends and mothers, brothers, and fathers but rather in expectation of beachfront homes, boats and luxury cars. For many the days ahead will come not only as a surprise, but as on outright shock, a contradiction of all that they have been taught and led to believe.
It will be such a time as to test the strength of even those that were living in expectancy of what was to come, but what of those that never saw it coming? What of those that will be living in a season they were never taught would come? What of those that put their trust in things, rather than in God, in material possessions rather than spiritual strengths? What will become of the Christian that will see all that he believed would secure his future, and provide him with happiness, turn into nothing more than a heap of ash, or worthless scraps of paper?
This is why we must explore this topic today, to see if indeed our Lord and Savior was a rich man, if He expected His followers to build kingdoms here on earth, and to place their trust in the temporal rather than the eternal.
If these were His expectations then brother build on, expand, amass, hoard, squirrel away, stockpile, and accumulate as much as humanly possible. But if His expectations of His followers were not of this earth, if He expected us to seek the Kingdom, to serve others, to worship in Spirit and in truth, to die to the flesh, to live with the constant knowledge that this isn't home, but merely a temporary rest stop on our way to eternity, then look up, reach out and ask God to give you those gifts in which He finds true worth.
Before we get any further, I would ask that you do one thing. Take a few seconds and meditate on the following question.
Could it be that because we are unwilling to press in, seek out, and be desperate for the things of God, we've resigned ourselves to desiring the things of this earth, grudgingly consenting and accepting them as a cheap substitute?