Newsletter for Jan 2010
In my letter last month I shared how that the treasures Jesus speaks of in Matthew 6:19-21 are not the earthly treasures of money and material things. Likewise, Jesus was not speaking of some kind of heavenly bank account which grows in balance each time we give offerings. Rather, Jesus was talking about that which is most valuable to the Father: the souls of mankind.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
In essence, Jesus was speaking of doing what we can through the use of our talents, skills, ministry, and finances to lead as many people as possible to accept Him as Savior so that the treasure of their souls would be laid up in Heaven for all eternity. A passage which is similar to Matthew 6:19-21 is what the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:15-17.
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
Sadly, many preachers have taught that the fruit Paul was referring to is financial wealth abounding in some kind of heavenly bank account. They further state that Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” is predicated on a person having first given in offerings. In other words, unless you first give in offerings, God will not meet your need.
It is this kind of teaching that gets people to focus on themselves and their own financial status rather than on what God wants. We are told to give an offering so that “I can gain more…I can get a 30, 60 or 100-fold increase on my money…I can get bigger and better material things.” Said a little differently, I am to give so that “I can expand my own little kingdom in life.”
I want to make something very clear: God did NOT send Jesus to earth so people could get rich! The reason Jesus came is revealed in John 3:16-17,
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Yes, God wants to bless us and have us live in His blessings; but His primary goal is for people to be born again and live the life He desires. Nowhere in the Bible did God tell the Apostles to into all the world and teach people how to get rich! Instead, He told them to preach the gospel to the lost and make disciples of the saved. The fruit Paul writes of in Philippians 4:17 is the same as the treasures Jesus spoke of in Matthew chapter six: the souls of people led to salvation.
“Ah, Brother Martin, that’s just your opinion and personal interpretation of scripture.” I’m sorry you feel that way, because if you leave all of the above passages in the context wherein they were written, it is impossible to interpret “treasures” and “fruit” to mean any kind of financial or material wealth…and it doesn’t matter how you interpret the original Greek, the result will be the same. What it comes down to is that the prosperity doctrine embraced and taught by so many preachers has greatly twisted the meaning of scripture and literally blinded a vast number of Christians.
If we have captured the heart of God, then we will not be giving in offerings to get enough money to buy a new car, a new house, a huge TV, or any other such thing. God said in Proverbs 18:8, Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right. To rephrase this, God is telling us we are better off with little wealth, yet having heart-desires that line up with His versus having wealth and a heart that is not truly committed to Him.
When my heart-desires line up with God’s, then I will give to support the spread of the gospel and the discipling of Christians; I will not give to try and motivate God to bless my life. I will not give in anticipation of anything other than God’s Kingdom purposes being accomplished on earth. I will give because God loves me and I want others to know His love. Giving for any other reason is self-centered rather than Christ-centered.
Throughout this past year many of you have given in support of this ministry. I can tell you with all honesty that the offerings which come into this ministry are used for Kingdom purposes to fulfill God’s will. Here are just a few examples of the “fruit” and “treasures” laid to your account…
During the past year we began broadcasting all of our church services over the internet. Not only that, but all of the services that have been broadcast are archived so people can watch at a later date. This form of outreach has grown to the point that, based on the number of computers which are logged on to watch, it is possible there are more people watching on-line than are actually attending a service! God has been directing more and more people to make Grace Christian Center their “church without walls.” The testimonies we are receiving are incredible! Your love gifts have helped pay for the costs of these broadcasts.
More and more people (free and imprisoned) are enrolling in Grace Ministries Bible College. Inmates continually share how the coursework is changing their lives. A chaplain stated that he can see a difference in the inmates who are GMBC students. One inmate started a Bible study and everyone who has joined it has become born again and Spirit-filled! Some students in Australia have organized a ministry conference whereat I’ll be ministering in February of next year. Since GMBC does not charge for enrollment or course materials, your offerings help to pay for the operating expenses.
By the middle of next year our radio program, “Pressing Toward the Mark,” will reach the significant milestone of its 2,000th daily broadcast! Letters we receive from listeners are so encouraging; many are making the effort to set aside time each day so they won’t miss it. One of the unique aspects of this broadcast is that it can be heard all over the world. If you would like to listen, log on to www.wgnz.com. Our program airs Monday through Friday, 8:00-8:30am and Saturday, 2:00-2:30pm (all times are Eastern).
All of our sermon CD’s, teaching series CD’s and sermon collection CD’s and audio DVD’s are made available at no charge. This includes all of the CD’s offered to listeners of “Pressing Toward the Mark.” We have been able to supply pastors in other nations with CD’s and DVD’s; they are then making copies and distributing them to their members. Yes, material and shipping costs can add up, but your giving is putting these teachings into the hands of an untold number of people.
We have nearly 2,000 sermons available at our website. People can listen online or download them to their computer – all at no charge. Reports come in from all over the world as people share how the sermons are changing their lives. Through either computer download or CD’s, sermons are being smuggled into countries where preaching the gospel is illegal. Your love offerings are helping the gospel get into areas where I would not be allowed to enter.
This past year I was able to help one church get started and one man start his itinerant ministry…both in other nations and all through email communication! The itinerant minister and those starting the church had been listening to my sermons on-line; through prayer, God led them to contact me about getting started.
What all of this means is that an innumerable number of people around the world have had their lives changed as a result of what this ministry is doing. But it isn’t just me; I may be the one preaching the sermons, but God sees the role you play just as important as He did the role the Philippians played in the life of Paul.
“But Brother Martin, I haven’t been able to give; my money situation has not been very good.” God knows this and there is no condemnation toward you. Your prayers for this ministry are just as important as the offerings people send. Yes, the Apostle Paul wrote about people giving to support his ministry; but he also wrote much about them lifting him and his ministry to God in prayer. I never underestimate or take for granted the prayers you offer unto God on behalf of this ministry!
I can never thank you enough for all you do. You don’t know how much I wish that everyone reading this could come here for one, big “Holy Ghost Party”; I guess we’ll just have to wait until we’re all together in Heaven! You are valuable to me, but you are also valuable to God; don’t ever let the devil convince you otherwise.
God is going to expand the outreach of this ministry and you have a part in what He is doing. Fruit is abounding to your account: the fruit of eternally changed lives!
May His peace fill your life!