Promises, promises, assuring you no suffering, no persecution, only blessing
Because the Church has not applied carrying our cross as a way of life, a new message of prosperity and abundance has substituted it. Instead of a message to deny self, it is a message of gain. Both Carnal and immature believers are attracted to this. Our true spiritual growth is quenched as we feed the fires of the flesh and its desires – and not the Spirit. Selfishness, worldliness quenches His Spirit and blocks you from hearing the Word that convicts your heart to change you. Today we find the promotion of the poor desiring to be rich and the rich justifying their opulence. Their wealth is proof of their spiritual condition. They are being trained to covet and call it their spiritual right thus proving they are Laodiceans who think they are rich but are instead poor. In fact in Rv. 3:17 Jesus says to them of their spiritual condition because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked-
They ignore Mark 4:19: “ the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires of other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. ” (Matt 13:22) “choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:14)
We too can mistakenly focus our pursuit on only the blessings without realizing that we have abandoned a spiritual life that we are a branch dependent on the vine. And we have moved ourselves into a position of severe chastening, if we are legitimate children.
The Bible’s prosperity is not about what you have, but Who you have! (Luke 6:20) as God said to Abraham who eventually become materially rich Gen. 15:1 “… Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward ."
For this reason Jesus said to Matt 6:33 seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” what things? The necessities, what is mentioned prior, what you eat drink, wear, these are what unbelievers seek (Gentiles). We know this because of what Jesus stated
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,... lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven ” (Matt 6:19-20)
Throughout history the Church did not have the physical blessings all the time but they did have spiritual blessings, the Holy Spirit with them. Scripture is not saying you must be poor to enter the kingdom, but it is warning us about riches. (Lk.18:24; 1 Ti.6:17 )
Ephesians 1:3 the Father “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” It is the Holy Spirit who is given as a seal, the promise to the believer.
Epaggelia from 1861; an announcement (for information, assent or pledge; especially a divine assurance of good). It is liken to an engagement ring for one to be married. As Jesus said, he will never leave us nor forsake us. In Christ we have what money can never buy; “the riches of His grace” (see Ephesians 1:7, 11, 2:7, 3:8; Romans ). Paul preached: “the unsearchable riches of Christ”. It is in Christ we have these spiritual blessings, it is not about material wealth.
Mk 8:34-36:“ When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? ’”
Look at what Jesus stated and consider what is being said today. We must lose our life for His sake and the Gospels to have eternal life. And right afterward He warns about gaining the things of the world.
Yet we hear today that to become a Christian means we deserve all these things; it is our spiritual right of gaining them now because we are followers of Jesus. There is no need to mention any names since you can hear this rhetoric from the majority of TV preachers at any given time – the list is too long.
In Matthew 28 Jesus said for us to be witnesses of Him to the ends of the earth. The word is actually “martyr,” one who bears witness even by death. The success of the apostles was that they already considered themselves dead, so the life of Christ was ever present in them. To not love one’s life more than the calling of Christ was their mission and message. Philippians 1:29-30: “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.” No one can count his own life dear if he considers himself already dead.
Paul writes “ I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me ” (Galatians 2:20). And if he is in you does he umpire your life?
Jesus declared to us, “ unless you pick up the cross you cannot follow me, nor are you worthy of Me. ” So many say Jesus asks nothing from you but only gives. That is incorrect. We are to live a lifestyle of selflessness and self-denial so that God’s will and purpose can be accomplished in and through our lives. As James says faith without works is dead (James 2:20
To get the quick decisions, many use creative ideas and even manipulate people to accept Christ by logic. But it is faith that is required. Some want to remove the reproach of the cross, to offer the people the blessing without the cross. Many in the church are marketing Christianity to the masses of the world. Try Jesus like he is a product on the shelves that can be use!
“the message is not to change, but the methods can change.” But if we are not careful the message can be changed by the method; and unfortunately the message HAS already been changed when carrying the cross is eliminated, as they are told they are to have no suffering in this life. Without the cross, the Church becomes just another religion with wonderful teachings about a man named Jesus. Not much different than the cults.
Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
Paul did not come with eloquent speech or clever stories that convinced people to abandon their idols. What Paul preached was the revelation of Christ, in his crucifixion. The Spirits power is present to save because he concentrates on Christ’s crucifixion. “ For the message of the cross -- is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19).
Some people have been persuaded to be a Christian by men’s eloquent words without the message of the cross, of what is required of us after. They are later able to be talked out of being a Christian, because they have been convinced by the wisdom of man not by the power of God through faith. A faith that continues no matter what they face.
How do we attract people with an offensive message like the cross (crucifixion)? We must be honest in what it means. The intention of the gospel message is not to make you feel good about yourself but bad. The point of sin is center. P eople need to see their sinfulness in the way God does. To see themselves as separated from God in need of repair by the means God has provided. To see how much God loved them to send his Son to die in their place when they were still enemies of God so they can be rescued.
Salvation can only take place when we acknowledge our own sin and the need of Christ as savior, putting personal trust upon His work on the cross for us. It’s so simple that it eludes the intellectuals, those who think they are wise; know it all’s. It should be noted that God says The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." (Ps 14:1)
1 Cor. 3:18-20 “ Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness"; and again, "The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile ."
When the cross is not included in our presentation or preaching on salvation, then we are not explaining who we are as sinners and why Jesus died. They cannot know why they need a savior or how to be saved from their sin. How can one repent of sin when they are not taught what sin is or how they have been affected by it? How would a belief in Jesus help them if the subject of sin were neglected?
The gospel declares we are ALL sinners, but it also offers the cure, giving us the best news ever heard, salvation, a release from sins penalty by God’s grace, we will not be judged. It is only after one embraces the gospel and receives Christ that they can be at peace about the condition of their soul.
No one is immune from the world’s adversities but allow God to use these for our growth.
Rom. 5:2-4 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
So when someone tells you all the promises, you are guaranteed health and wealth, remember what is written: “ These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33).