The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

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On God as a blessing machine. Is He really something like this?

To make a digression from what we saw in this section, it is surprising to me that, given the solemn warnings of the Scripture concerning the desire to become rich, this very desire is cultivated from the pulpits of some churches and quite frequently through so called Christian Media and preachers shown in them. So people are taught and told to give abundantly to the so and so ministry (many times this happens under the non-valid threat of the tithe – see also my book: "Tithing, giving and the New Testament") with the promise that if they do this then God is obliged to "bless" them financially. Thus God is seen as a blessing machine where from the one side one puts his money and his "believing" (by "believing" what is usually meant is positive confessions through which the person that makes them tries to persuade himself that what he is asking will happen) and from the other side God pours out, in exchange, His blessings, with health and wealth be among the chief of them. However as it is clear from the Scriptures, as well as from tradition, none of the apostles nor of course Christ were rich. In fact according to tradition, all apostles save John were assassinated because of their faith. Despite this fact the churches of the preachers of the prosperity gospel are filled with thousands. And though I do not have numbers to support it, I am sure that they will go through a very big trial when they find out - and I believe they will find it out - that God, despite His mercy, patience and grace does not work like a blessing machine. You cannot put God in a box as essentially the preachers of the prosperity gospel present it. I wish this was a fiction story, but unfortunately it is not. It happens now and to many. I feel for all these people, for I was one of them, moved away by promises of people that my life would essentially be without problems and exactly as I wanted it. But at one point in my life I came to realize the hard way that I was deceived. I realized then that I had to submit to God instead of God submitting to me. Also I realized that in Acts 12, before the widely known and widely preached record of Peter being miraculously delivered from the prison, you have the record of the apostle James, the brother of John, killed by the sword. The one apostle was delivered while the other was not. At the end even the one who was delivered (Peter) died, after some years, a martyr’s death, exactly like James did. Some also forget this. The idea some have in their mind, is that God will deliver them from every small difficulty so that they can go on living in their "blessings" forever and ever and die happily (by this they mean rich, healthy etc.) at an old age. Suffering for Christ has not even crossed their mind, for in their view God is there to deliver them out of all suffering. And yet the Bible says (and this is just a sample):

Romans 8:16-17
"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."

2 Timothy 2:3
"Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus"

2 Timothy 3:12
"Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted"

Acts 14:21-22
"And when they [Paul and Barnabas] had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."

Many think that suffering is not relevant to them, for Christ has already suffered for them. They will declare with boldness the first part of Romans 8:16-17 i.e. that "we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ". But the passage does not stop there. It carries on with a "provided", with an "if", a condition for the above: "provided we suffer with him that we may also be glorified with him". Suffering for Christ’s sake is a honor. What happened to James and to almost all the apostles (martyrdom) was a honor and not a mishappening. The apostles themselves saw suffering for Christ’s sake as something to rejoice in:

Acts 5:40-41
"and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name."

In the light of the above, I would like to ask us a question. Tacitus was a Roman historian and eyewitness to the first state-run persecution started by Nero (64-67 AD). He wrote about the events:

"In their very deaths they [he means the arrested Christians] were made the subjects of sport: for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for the evening lights. Nero offered his gardens for this spectacle" (Chronicles, Book XV, para. 44).

Christians were put on fire as evening lights in Nero’s garden! Can we really picture this? My question now: what would we do if a soldier came to our house to take us away from our family and "blessings" and put us on fire, unless we denied the Lord? Would we go? Or would we deny the Lord and the faith to save our blessings, because we perhaps believe that this Lord, since He is so much of love, would just choose to close His eyes? What would we do if God did not grant the most precious desire we have (spouse, kids, job, health etc.)? I do not say that He will not. I speak hypothetically. Would we still follow Him with no conditions attached? Let each one of us answer for himself.

Next section: On false teachers


Author: Anastasios Kioulachoglou