Accepting the REALITY of a Godless Age...

Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel Fully Recognized That They Had No Authority Before God to Put a 'Different Slant' On Their Message So They Could Enjoy a 'Wealthy Lifestyle'!

"By blatantly using a combination of commercial marketing strategies and psychological trickery, wealthy modern-day tele-evangelists brazenly appeal for thousands of dollars in order to build some new glittering cathedral for their faithful or to finance some new 'evangelistic' initiative..."

As Christians it is only natural that we would love to see 'every seat taken' at places of genuine Christian worship. But the truth is: Today the bone-fide Gospel of Jesus Christ does not fill seats. We should simply accept this as evidence that we are living in a godless, materialistic age since this is not usually a negative indicator of one's ministry. But in the success-oriented West this is really hard for some to accept, indeed, so hard, that numerous 'fill up the seats' gimmicks are used by some pastors who want success and want to be seen as 'successful' at almost any cost.

Does God expect His servants to use financial and marketing tactics to fill seats? Where is the biblical evidence that Christian zeal and perseverance has anything to do with using such deceptive and worldly tactics?

Many of these people have learned that various 'added extras' will help to fill those seats. Of these, the 'health, wealth and prosperity gospel' - which is an especially wicked and malignant perversion of the gospel - is presently by far the most popular. This perverted "gospel" turns on its head the New Testament teaching that Christians should not expect success in the present 'evil age,' and worldliness, glamour and prosperity not only become desirable things but things which judge a Christian's true spirituality and standing before God! If a "believer" lacks these things (the reasoning goes), then he or she must be out of God's favour.

'Salvation' also becomes changed from something which is an almost entirely spiritual matter in the Bible, to something which has a very large physical component in the 'here and now.' Today's prosperity teachers, who so blatantly make merchandise out of the gospel, typically mock the suggestion that a Christian might be poor, meek, unassuming and modest. In place of Christian humility, they teach that true believers should be going around strutting in triumphalism, swagger and arrogance. After all, this is the example which they themselves offer as the fruits of "Christian living."

By blatantly using a combination of commercial marketing strategies and psychological trickery, wealthy modern-day tele-evangelists brazenly appeal for thousands of dollars in order to build some new glittering cathedral for their faithful or to finance some new 'evangelistic' initiative. In complete contrast to such foolish and misguided worldly extravagance which seeks to exploit the poor and naive, the apostle Paul wrote,

'...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.'
(Philippians 4:11b-13, NIV throughout).

In complete contrast to the continual striving for affluence and prosperity of todays marketing-canny 'businessmen-evangelists' Paul warned Timothy about the activities of some who would pervert the clear words of Scripture, believing that 'godliness is a means to financial gain.' See 1 Timothy 6:3-5. Paul continues,

'But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.'
(1 Timothy 6:6-10).

Image of Ezekiel the Prophet

An image of Ezekiel the Prophet. Ezekiel fully recognized that he had no authority from God to put a 'different slant' on the message he carried in order to gain followers, or in order to enjoy a wealthy lifestyle!

Around the same time, in the final section of the Book of Hebrews, the author gives advice to Jewish Christians concerning Christian living and worship. An important part of this advice concerns the instruction to avoid coveting wealth:

'Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."'

(Hebrews 13:5).

In complete contrast to this, today's prosperity teachers teach that the desire for financial gain should always be found within true followers of Jesus. Where it is lacking, and where resultant prosperity is lacking, those followers show signs of suffering the disapproval of God!

This is truly a different message for a different "gospel" of a different age.

Christians of this early 21st century should appreciate the 'signs of the times' and realise that they operate in a society which no longer thinks that it needs Jesus, or His Gospel. In an earlier age, the Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel fully noted the 'signs of the times' in which they lived and recognized the fact that they did not bear a popular message and warning, yet offered no tactics, or any sort of 'different slant' in order to artificially manufacture 'followers'; even so, in this present Age of the Church, no attempts should be made to artificially manufacture supporters of the Gospel message where - when that message is given straight and biblically - those supporters truthfully do not exist. Neither did those great Prophets seek a prosperous and abundant living at the expense of the poor and naive but fully accepted their hard path in trust and faithfulness.
Robin A. Brace, 2007.

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