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CHAPTER 8 ‘COVENANT THEOLOGY’
The early settlers [pilgrims] of our nation came by faith in God, believing their new nation to be a promised land of freedom that the Lord had given to them. One of the descriptions of the ‘belief system’ of these puritans is called covenant theology. They saw themselves as ‘new covenant’ people who were inheriting a promised land, much like the old covenant people [Israel] inherited their promised land. They claimed and believed the many O.T. promises of God concerning the inheriting of nations. They took God at his word, and it worked!
In a sense all believers are covenant theologians, whether they realize it or not. It is through our covenant with God [the blood of Jesus], that we are made right with God [justified], have forgiveness of sins and are made children of God. As a matter of fact, everything that God does for us, or that ‘we do for him’, is based upon the bedrock foundation of the covenant of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Now, it has been taught because of our covenant with Christ, we can go through the bible and find all the promises that are good and by faith hold God to his word and ’cause the things that are not seen [not manifested] to become seen [manifested]’, or to put it simple, to get the things that God has promised us by putting our faith into action. I believe this principle is both scriptural and profitable. But the covenant cuts both ways.
When people enter into covenant, the 2 parties have complete access to each-others rights and privileges. There are times were the Lord will require of the believer all that he has [leave your nets and follow me mentality]. There are even times where the Lord called people to lay down their lives in martyrdom in order to receive a better resurrection [HEB 11:35, ACTS 7]. As a matter of fact there are many examples of people of faith who have endured great sufferings even though they had great faith [HEB. 11].
So what does it mean to be a covenant believer? It not only implies going throughout the bible and claiming all the good promises and quoting them by faith [sowing], it also carries with it the meaning of laying down all that we have [in this world] for the cause of Christ [HEB. 10:34].
While the early puritans did claim and receive the promises of God by faith concerning their ‘promised land’, they also endured tremendous suffering and loss [many died in their pursuit!] in order to obtain a noble goal. The N.T. commands us not only to believe and teach the good parts [or the parts we like the most!], but also to heed the warnings [LUKE 12:15, ACTS 20:27]. If we reduce covenant theology to a belief system that only reads and quotes the ‘good’ promises, but never heeds the warnings, then we are failing to proclaim the full gospel and are presenting a distorted view of the Christian life [ACTS 14:22]. A simple overview of the N.T. shows us how the principles of the N.T. are supposed to work. For example, you never find Jesus or the disciples going around quoting the money verses in order to receive a harvest! As a matter of fact, if we teach people to ‘quote, meditate, memorize and only think on the money scriptures’, we would be doing the exact opposite of what Jesus said in MATT. 6:31-34. He specifically told us to take no thought [meditate, focus our minds, etc.] of what we shall eat, drink or wear [material things], the whole point of this passage was to teach the Christian NOT to focus on these things!
You also never find any of the suffering Christians acting like they ‘fell short’ of their covenant rights. Instead they counted it a privilege to suffer for his names sake [ACTS 5:41]. The entire flow of the N.T. goes contrary to the ‘picture painted’ by unbalanced prosperity preaching. The focus of the N.T. was Gods advancing kingdom throughout the nations! Their own lives and the things they could get to make themselves more comfortable ran 100% contrary to the fulfilling of their mission [2 TIM. 4:10, 1 JOHN 2:15]. A simple plain reading of the N.T. in context teaches us that the character of N.T. Christianity is one of self-sacrificial living, not a ‘get all you can by faith’ mentality.
CHAPTER 9 ‘SOWING INTO GOOD SOIL’
A simple reading of the N.T. gives us a broad picture of the life of the believer, which includes giving and receiving, Gods promises of funding the work of the ministry, the Christian concept of charity, and a basic overall view of finances and the kingdom of God. One of the most basic reasons of giving money in the N.T. is to share what we have with those who are less fortunate [JAMES 2:15-16, 1 JOHN 3:17]. As a matter of fact Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his day for their willingness to tithe to the temple while neglecting to use their finances to meet the needs of people in need [MARK 7:6-13]. One of the most recognized passages of scripture used to describe the character of Christ is found in Luke 10:30-37, an example of someone ministering to the needs of ‘the down and out’.
Even in the book of acts the main focus on giving was to meet the needs of people [ACTS 2:44-46, 4:32-37, 6:1]. The very scripture that we use to exhort saints to put in their offerings on ‘Sunday’, is really speaking about a collection being taken to meet the needs of the ‘poor saints’ who lived in Jerusalem [1COR. 16:1-3].
This basic Christian principle of charity is a well-established Christian doctrine that most people would agree with, except for certain teachers in the prosperity movement! I remember listening to a certain teacher actually teach that in order to receive a good financial harvest, you must plant your seed [money] into good soil. He then went on to teach that good soil meant ministries, or individuals, who taught prosperity and were financially rich! He even implied that giving to prosperity ministries would make you rich, while giving to ‘poverty mentality’ ministries would make you poor [because you reap the same anointing from the ministries you so into]. The problem with this is that the bible teaches that giving to poor people [people with a poverty mentality] is good, and that the Lord will reward you for it [PRVB. 22:9,16,19:17,28:27, PSALMS 112:9].
While the N.T. does deal with Gods provisions for ministry [PHIL. 4:14-19,1COR. 9:1-14], this certainly in no way justifies perverting the gospel into a mindset of giving into wealthy ministries in order to receive a financial harvest!
Jesus, Paul and all the other N.T. ministers did receive finances and provisions from God in order to fulfill their callings, but at the same time they also warned the people emphatically against materialism. They spoke out against covetousness/idolatry, while at the same time believing God to meet their needs [LUKE 12:15, EPH. 5:3, COL. 3:5, 1 THESS. 2:5, HEB. 13:5, 2 PETER 2:3]. Were they being hypocrites? NO! They understood the difference between using the things of this world without abusing them [1 COR. 7:31]. There is a big difference between believing God to meet our needs, and twisting the entire character of N.T. Christianity into a money focused mentality! The Christian should have a proper understanding of finances, as well as physical exercise, balance in family life and relationships, dealing with the practical concerns of life. But to exalt anyone of these areas of life and to make it the message of Christianity, and then to reshape the entire image of Christianity in order to make it fit our ‘peculiar’ style of belief would be wrong.
The very fact that there are in existence today million dollar ministries [which in itself is not wrong!], that teach people to give into their ministries with the promise of a sure return, and even appeal to poor saints to give out of their lack [social security checks, etc.], while all the while propagating a false gospel, is wrong!
These same ministries use the funds collected by false pretense and then preach the gospel of money, instead of a clear presentation of the gospel of Christ! Many of these ministries sincerely believe that it is a witness for Christ to have extravagant salaries, wear Rolex watches, drive a Cadillac and be a millionaire. They actually justify this by their own belief in the message they preach. They do not see it as wrong in the sight of God to finance this type of lifestyle/ministry from the offerings sent in by poor saints and widows! Many of their supporters are average, or struggling financially, and they give out of a sincere desire to better their own lives while at the same time furthering the work of God.
I know some of these precious believers who are struggling financially while sending in their ‘widow’s mite’ with hope and faith that things will turn around for them. No where in the N.T. do you find rich preachers appealing to poor saints to give into their ministries in order to receive a harvest! This is 100% against the character of N.T. Christianity. The bible actually condemns the idea of ‘shepherds’ taking advantage of their flocks for personal/financial gain [EZEKIEL 34, MATT. 23:14, 1 PETER 5:1-2].
The very fact that we have poor Christians sending in sacrificial offerings to millionaire ministries, often times because the preacher is appealing by the ‘word of the Lord’ to them, is wrong! Many of these ministries are using these funds to propagate a false view of Christianity to the world. They are preaching an unbalanced gospel while they themselves are bringing in large amounts of money. I appeal to the church at large to finance worthy ministries who are actually meeting the real needs of people around the world [good soil!], and to stop financing a false gospel!
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