IS IT A SIN TO BE RICH OR NOT?

by Nathan Soto



Today's modern theology of prosperity has greatly impacted the church. The great apostasy prophesied by the apostle Paul in I Timothy 6:2-10, 17-21 is exactly a clear, vivid picture of the word of faith movement:

"2....Teach and exhort these things. 3.If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4. he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5. useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. 6. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

"17. Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy! Guard what was commited to your trust, avoiding profane babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you."
(NKJV).

Notice that the context of verse 9, "those who desire to be rich fall.." has to be connected with the phrase of verse 5: "who suppose that godliness is a means of gain." Otherwise, it would seem to indicate that it is wrong to desire more income. This is not the case. It is actually the using of the gospel as a means of gain, for the verse says: "If anyone teaches otherwise." Paul is talking about false teachers who abuse the word of God and have a love of money and greediness. Paul instructs Timothy to "from such withdraw yourself." We can clearly see also that he is not saying it is wrong to be rich as you can see in the next set of verses from 17 and on. He intructs these to not "trust in uncertain riches...ready to give, willing to share." It is the way that we use our money that pleases God. I have learned that both poor and rich theologies are extremes. We must practice the biblical stewardship principle. The more wealthy must be "ready to give, willing to share."

The share part is what I want to discuss in this article. The prosperity teachers often seem to be making the poor poorer by telling them to 'plant a seed of faith'. This is proposterous. Paul says in I Corinthians 16, "..put aside and save, as he may prosper..." He recognizes the different incomes or wealth of the saints even back then. He also says that "...God loves the cheerful giver." This is how we show our love to God. God is NOT always looking to bless people with money. In reality, people are giving just in order to get more. They are hoping to get out of debt by giving to these false preachers. Only God knows the hearts of some sincere saints but the command is to withdraw from such. Also, many may suffer because they are bad stewards of the money which they have. Remember I Timothy 6:8: "And having clothing and food, with these we shall be content." Too often people are charging credit cards to have fancy luxuries. Not that it is wrong but sometimes we need to stop thinking about ourselves and help the work of God and the needy.

I am also shocked that teachers like T.D. Jakes' say that Jesus and his disciples were very wealthy. This is far from the truth but I will cover that towards the end of this article. It is interesting to note that the American slaves who worshipped God desired to be free and have a better lifestyle. Was God not in their midst? Yes! God has a purpose for the called as Romans 8:28 indicates. We forget that the first church suffered much persecution and martydom, and yet they were blessed by God, but His blessings don't have to be financial!

We are too comfortable in America today! This prosperity gospel cannot work anywhere else. We need to be real to the suffering brethren in Asia, Africa, Latin America and even some parts of Europe.

The Bible talks about the principle of sharing, from the Greek word koinonia. Lets take a look at Acts 4:32,34,35:

"32. All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possesions was his own, but they shared everything they had...34. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35. and put it at the apostles' feet and it was distributed to anyone as he had need." (NIV).

This is how God took care of the church, by the brethren helping one another and showing "koinonia." This is the principle of the New Testament church. No one thought what he had was his own and were generous to thier fellow brethren. The more wealthy helped the less fortunate and everyone was content with the essentials of life.

Teaching stewardship and being content with what we have is the way people can live in a peace of mind. As mentioned earlier, too many Christians waste so much money on the things they do not need and forget about the poor and the missionaries in other lands.

Regarding Jesus being rich, and other suffering Christians, let us consider 2 Corinthians 8:

"1. Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2. that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.." "9. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though HE was rich, yet for your sakes HE became poor, that you through HIS poverty might become rich." (My emphasis).

Obviously, Jesus became a man and became a servant (and poor) so that by that we might be justified. (No one denies God's abundance of riches since He is the Sovereign, Almighty Creator.) There is no implication here that Jesus was wealthy. Jesus even told Peter to fish and he prophesied that he would find a coin. He also said that the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. Peter and John said to the crippled man in Acts 3:6:

"Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."

There is no implication that even the disciples were as wealthy as T.D. Jakes claims.
The rich part (2 Corinthians 8:9), has to do with our salvation since it would not make sense that the unsaved rich people would become rich when they would receive Christ as Lord and Savior. Ephesians 1 says that we are seated already in the heavenly places which portrays that our position in Christ is that of royalty. Obviously, this had to do with the soul and in the spiritual sense we are that in Christ.

Also notice that the Macedonian church was suffering trials and needed an offering from the Corinthian church who had more. Here again we see the Koinonia (sharing) principle in the church. We help one another. Paul never rebukes the Macedonians for having a need but instead calls the Corinthians to share with them. He nevers tells them, "You should be tithing!" or, "Where is your faith?"

Please be not partakers with them! God wants people to know the true gospel of grace. More will be discussed on this topic. Grace be multiplied in Christ. Amen.

Footnotes:

More shocking statements made by T.D. Jakes:
“The myth of the poor Jesus needs to be destroyed, because it’s holding people back” (Kaylois Henry, Bishop Jakes Is Ready. Are You?, The Dallas Observer magazine, June 20-26, 1996, pg. 31. PFO Quarterly Journal Article).
"Did you know that the bible says, 'You shall have whatever you say.' Now, don't you say that if you don't want no increase. If all you want is what you had don't say that anymore. But, if you want something beyond what you have ever seen, shout increase! The power of life and death is in your tongue. When you open your mouth there is power all over the room! Shout increase!" (T. D. Jakes, Bible Answer Man Show, Hank Hanegraaff, Audio-Clip, July 30, 2004).
“Scripture teaches that receiving Christ as your personal Savior does not necessarily make you a son of God, but if you choose to do so, the power (authority) and right to do so is present. ... Just being saved does not make you a son of God, ...only those who are willing to be led by the Spirit actually realize and manifest the sonship of God” (T.D. Jakes, "The Harvest," pg. 46-47. PFO Quarterly Journal Article). He states that, "because the teachers in Jesus’ day listened to Him as a child it boosted His self-esteem" (Jakes, Loose That Man, pg. 3. PFO Quarterly Journal Article).
Nathan Soto.
2003.

Dedicated to my beloved brethren who have helped me in my spiritual growth:
Tony Macon and Robin Brace.

Nathan's website is here: www.nathansoto.com

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