CAN WE AFFECT GOD’S PLAN TO SAVE PEOPLE?

It all started with deep heart rendering questions in my heart. Why, when God truly wants to save souls and I sincerely want to play my part in that, there are not as many finances available as we would need to fully achieve that goal?

I was serving God as a senior pastor in Romania and I did the best I knew how to serve God sincerely. I was not into a works mentality or striving (I know that’s what some of you would read into my previous statement).

I was into praying and getting filled with God, abiding in God and then obeying any instructions He gave me under the influence of His Spirit. We, with the church people, were evangelizing a lot, preaching on the street, giving out thousands of gospel tracts, following people up, discipling the church people and seeking to live a pure life in every way. All my spare time – after church work was finished for the day – was spent seeking God more. After time with my husband and looking after our basic needs, all I did was spend more time with God: worshiping, praying, reading Christian books, listening to sermons. I was not aware of anything between me and God that could qualify as a willful sin. I was not perfect, but I was not sinning willfully.

I could not understand why then there were not enough finances available to us to fully make use of the massive open door to preach the Gospel freely in Romania. I told God something like this:

God, You say you want no man to perish but all to come to the knowledge of salvation. Most of the people in this country do not know the way of salvation. So you want them to know.

I also want them to know, I sincerely want to tell them and I am doing it.

Why, when we both sincerely want the same thing, finances seem to be limited? You promised provision and You did provide abundantly for our needs and the needs of the church up to a point, but there is so much more we could do to reach out to hungry people if we had more finances. Why is it this way.

God answered. He began to teach me. He told me: Mari, in fact, I HAVE provided. Finances are in the hands of my people worldwide. Let me show you what I see from above looking down to the Christian world on earth. He then gave me a vision:

I saw two gatherings of people in a desert. One group was on the left, one on the right and with a big gap between them. God said to me:

See, the group on the left already received the finances I gave for the evangelization of the world and for looking after the poor.

The group on the right is lacking finances for evangelism, though they are called to do it, they want to do it and they are doing it as they can, but they are limited by financial needs. In this group, there are also the poor of the world who don’t have enough for their basic needs.

Then God continued:

How do you think I feel when the group on the left does not want to share with the group on the right after I gave them finances for this purpose? They chose to keep it for themselves instead. They enjoy too much what I gave them and they get distracted from what matters most by the various things they can do with the money that will give them pleasure and satisfaction in life.

I am grieved, because I gave all the money needed for world evangelism to My body. But My people choose not to share it!

Then He led me to a Scripture:

For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—THAT THERE MAY BE EQUALITY. As it is written, “HE WHO GATHERED MUCH HAD NOTHING LEFT OVER, AND HE WHO GATHERED LITTLE HAD NO LACK.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15) – this verse is not commonly preached

Note something important: they gathered provision, they did not create the provision. It was provided by Someone else, by God, therefore God feels He owns it and expects us to submit our spending of it to Him.

I can already hear the protest in the group on the right, the group with much gathered. They complain: But it is our right to enjoy it because we put the effort to gather it. We were blessed. And since God decided to bless us and not to bless the others, it is our right to enjoy it more than they do.

The problem with this thinking is that it is assuming that the others who did not have is because they are not blessed. Nowhere in this passage above shows God saying: Please help those I did not bless. If He chose not to bless them, then why would He now ask others to give to them? Nowhere in this passage we hear God blaming the poor Christians for being poor.

Though there are clear principles in the Bible that need to be obeyed if you are to experience blessing, this passage above shows us that God did not setup things in the body of Christ just based on blessing, but also on sharing.

He setup the Body of Christ in such a way that every member needs another. Therefore, some will receive more and will need to share with others in order for the other members to have enough.

But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased… … THAT THE MEMBERS SHOULD HAVE THE SAME CONCERN FOR ONE ANOTHER. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it;(1 Corinthians 12: 18, 25, 26)

Just like it is in the human body. The heart does not say: I have been blessed with a lot of blood, but why should I pump it to the rest of the body. It is mine to enjoy the life and strength it gives me. Why should I care that the other members would die without it.

They die because they are not blessed by God. They deserve their lot somehow, they must have sinned in some way that’s why they are not blessed. Therefore, it is not my problem. It’s almost like thinking a non-Christian philosophy. It is their karma they brought upon themselves.

While the lack of blessing might be a part cause in general in the body of Christ, this does not apply to workers in the Gospel field who try to sincerely serve and please God and obey the Great Commission. And therefore, it does not absolve the Christians in the ‘blessed’ group from sharing their resources with them for the furtherance of the Gospel.

The Bible is clear on this issue: “the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:14) – just the same way as the priests and levites were to live from the offerings given to the temple.

Why do God’s workers not have enough for the work many times? I speak from personal experience of my own. Though God did MANY miracles for us and the work financially, there was always some level of lack for the work of God. The same is true for most missionaries I speak with. Some came close to starvation a number of times. For some the financial pressure led to marriage breakups, for others to giving up on the call of God in their life to full time ministry in order to survive. For others it meant moving out of the gift of God into an area of ministry – like pastoring – where they could survive. For some, the stress of the continual need for finances to survive has led to disease and burnout. There are great consequences for their lack of finances.

In God’s mind, your question should not be: God, should I give to the work of the Gospel? After all, He made that very clear in the Scripture below. My comments are between parentheses:

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty (would ‘I am more blessed than they are’ qualify for being haughty?), nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.

(My question is: How much enjoyment is enough? And what is the line where we cross from having some enjoyment to living for pleasure. The word of God warns that in the last days men will be lovers of pleasure. And what comes first in our heart priorities list: our enjoyment or living for the sake of the Gospel? Where does the self denial taught in Mark 8:35 come in which Jesus says:

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake AND THE GOSPEL’S will save it. “ This verse teaches us that we need to lose our life (what we want) for the sake of the Gospel’s going forward.

Read on God’s command to the rich).

18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share (does that connect with ‘He who had much had nothing left over’ in the passage above?),

19 storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

(I wonder why God connected with laying hold of eternal life with giving. What if you don’t give, is it possible that it implies you might lose hold of eternal life? What consequences would that have? What about the story of the rich man who was not willing to give up his riches and follow Jesus and Jesus said that it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle. Clearly the context there is about salvation because the next question the disciples asked was: And who can then be saved? Jesus did not correct them to say this is not about salvation, but told them that this seemingly impossible thing can happen through His power.)

So, it’s clear from the verses above. The rich are COMMANDED to give and share.

I hear again though the group on the right say. Well, that is for the millionaires, but I am not that rich. I just have enough to live a very comfortable life. My answer to that is: If you are richer than the 95% of the world, then you are rich. Most people focus on the West as the main place where you will find rich people. Though that is true in part, that is not the complete truth. There are many rich people in Asian countries and in fact in every country in the world. I walked in some very rich homes in India of people who owned half an island and had houses with domes for a living room roof and Ludovick IV hand crafted furniture. Your location in the world does not define if you are rich or poor. What you have verses what other people in the world have defines you for rich or for poor.

So, if our question is not: God, should I give, than what we need to ask is: To whom shall I give and how much?

And beware of hearing an answer from your own heart, rather from the Spirit of God. The heart is deceitfully wicked. That’s why God says:

Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” in Proverbs 4:23

A heart which lives for pleasure and the indulgence of the flesh would reply to you: Noooooo, why should you give? What about that boat project you planned to take your family on a nice holiday? And you are really running out of nice clothes? The ones from last year won’t do, the fashion has changed. You want to look up to date so you can fit in the society and reach them for Christ. (the heart can get religious at times).

So, let’s summarize what we have understood so far:

  1. God wants all people to be saved.
  2. He gave all the finances needed to the Body of Christ and is continuing to give it.
  3. Those who have are commanded to give and share with those who don’t have enough
  4. God commanded the Gospel workers to live from the Gospel.
  5. We need to lose our life for the sake of the Gospel.
  6. The question is not: If? But to whom and how much?

Therefore, what conclusion can drawn based on this knowledge and the present state of affairs in the body of Christ? Here are a few conclusions:

God has given us a command to preach the Gospel.

He left the earth and gave the task to us to do with the help of the Holy Spirit.

The work can only be accomplished if some people go and some support those who go, as God commanded those who go to live from the Gospel.

The Holy Spirit will never force someone to give, He will only lead.

The Christians are responsible to have their heart in the right place if they are going to be useful for the Gospel’s sake to help reach the lost. God says that where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is also. Christians need to be careful about where their treasure lies.

They have the gift of free will which they can use for or against the Gospel’s sake, to give or to withhold and spend on their pleasures.

If they do not give, the work of the Gospel and the Gospel workers will suffer.

Their disobedience will result in consequences like souls going to hell.

God might try to find another obedient Christian who says yes in giving, but what if he disobeys too.

God’s work does not get done at times because His people are disobedient How many times does this scenario repeat today:

I have nobody else like him who will genuinely care for your needs. For ALL THE OTHERS LOOK AFTER THEIR OWN INTERESTS, NOT THOSE OF CHRIST. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, that as a child with his father HE HAS SERVED WITH ME TO ADVANCE THE GOSPEL…” (Philippians 2:20-21)

Observe here the contrast between ‘they looked after their own interests’ and ‘served to advance the Gospel’.

The apostle Paul was one of the greatest Christian leaders that ever lived. He observed that there is a problem in the body of Christ, namely that many people spend their time looking after their own interests rather than serving to advance the Gospel. The apostle Paul himself said he went often through hunger and homelessness. Why would such a great man of God have to endure this while other ministers according to Scripture were rich? He says about other ministers who were not living right and boasting against Paul:

“Now you are full, now you are rich, you have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God you did reign, that we also might reign with you.” (1 Corinthians 4:8)

Why did the apostle Paul lack good quality workers and lack food and shelter many times? Was the apostle Paul lacking faith, was he in sin? No, HE WAS NEGLECTED BY THE BODY OF CHRIST  …

Many believers today will tell the apostle Paul that for sure God will provide if he believes, God will never let him down. They are right about the fact that God will never let the apostle Paul down, but what if God can’t find enough obedient Christians through whom to send money to Paul? Or will God send it straight from heaven? He has decided to work through His body and if His body does not do its part, ministers suffer. God does not let the apostle Paul down, but the church did. God never let him die of hunger, but there is no proof in the Scripture that God intervene to save Paul from lack of food, shelter or clothes. That was delegated to be taken care of by the body of Christ, working under God. And their disobedience or their giving where they should not give has led to suffering for the apostle Paul. 

How much Gospel workers today are in Paul’s shoes … neglected by the body of Christ? Holy men, men of faith, but who suffer lack together with their families and yet keep going? But how much of the same give up, lose their health and their marriages and abandon their calling because of lack of support? I know many such people by name. Some feel that God even rejected them for not being good enough even though they do not know what sin they must have committed to offend God so bad. That is because the church people tell them that God would always provide, so therefore there is something wrong with them if they have not received the provision.

It is true that some of the Gospel workers might not be truly called by God, yet they called themselves and expect the body of Christ to support them. They certainly do not deserve the support, but sadly many get it, because the body of Christ many times succumbs to emotional manipulation in giving and have not learned to discern and to hear the voice of God about giving. Certainly this means there will not be enough for those who are true workers of God. Others live in sin and still get a lot of financial blessing from the body of Christ:

“For you put up with it if one brings you into bondage, if one devours you, if one takes from you, if one exalts himself, if one strikes you on the face. To our shame I say that we were too weak for that!” (2 Corinthians 11:20-21)

Others think that anyone they ask from should give, which is also wrong because this is impossible for most people. Many Christians in the West receive around 3 of such requests per week, apart from multiple requests in church, so it is impossible for them to respond to all the requests. Neither does God require them to do so, we are all to give under God’s leading and to whom He approves for us to give as well as the amount He directs. Some Gospel workers come with demands in their heart to the rich and they think they should give a big amount, while God might not ask them to do so with this person, but might ask them to give sacrificially to another. This is not to excuse the rich Christians who use ‘God has not led me’ or ‘It is not in my budget’ as a reason to not seek God sincerely about giving to someone and how much to give.

There are other Gospel workers who are truly called by God, but they do not do their part in walking by faith for finances, putting the time in prayer to ask, fasting and trusting God for provision. They might also not follow God’s principles that lead to financial blessing and/or do not keep themselves clean before God. In such cases, they have set themselves up for failure and it is not the fault of the body of Christ.

But what about those who do believe God and live in God’s plan and in holiness? Like the apostle Paul? Was it his fault for the below:

“I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” (2 Corinthians 11:27)

Or was He neglected by the church? Let’s hear the answer from his own mouth:

“As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.” (Philippians 4:15)

Was Paul complaining here or just stating a fact? If a missionary or minister of the Gospel was to say the same thing today, he would immediately be accused of complaining and a bitter spirit. Let’s not cast judgment so quickly in order to run away from facing the reality we live in.

The Scriptures clearly proves that sometimes some ministers who are sinning, proud and boast against others can be well provided by the church while those who truly deserve the church’s support might be ignored by the church. Does this have anything to do with what God wants or what the church does. The apostle Paul called the church to account saying it is their fault that they put up with such people and allow themselves to be taken from the wrong people.

These above Scriptures prove that the will of God does not always get done in terms of finances in the Body of Christ, they either go to the wrong ministers or sometimes don’t go to the right ones. And it is not because the right ministers do not have faith, but it is with how the body of Christ chooses to react and act towards these ministers.

 

NOW THE BIG QUESTION:

IF ONE CHRISTIAN OR CHURCH IS DISOBEDIENT IN GIVING, CAN GOD ALWAYS FIND ANOTHER TO REPLACE THE DISOBEDIENT ONE AND MAKE SURE HIS WORK CONTINUES UNAFFECTED?

 

What can we find in the Scriptures about this?

Let’s look at Paul’s story again. Sometimes He found one church, the Philippians, when no other church helped. Other times, and the Bible says ‘Even now we go hungry and thirsty, and we don’t have enough clothes to keep warm. We are often beaten and have no home.’ (1 Corinthians 4:11)

What happened here?

Is this not Scripture proof that God cannot always find faithful and obedient people to do His will and support His faithful workers?

And does that not show us that our obedience or disobedience has consequences that God can’t rectify by bringing another in to replace your disobedience?

Many Christians take a light view of obedience in giving or sharing the Gospel because they have the misguided belief that GOD ALWAYS FINDS SOMEONE ELSE. The truth God might or might not. And woe to him who did not obey in the first place! He will have to face God one day and give account for his doings!

The consensus of Scripture is clearly that what we have free will to obey or disobey and what we do has consequences on others and on God’s plans. The positive is also true, that if we obey God, there are wonderful good benefits for others and God’s plans can move forward.

Also, even if God does find someone else sometimes (as He clearly does not always), wasn’t someone else supposed to do something else with that money. Isn’t he going to be affected or the people to whom he was supposed to give? Either he has to go without in some area or others have to for God to use him as a replacement for someone’s else disobedience.

Let me show you one such passage that clearly states there are consequences for not giving to those who teach you about God. Most people only quote from verse 7 and leave verse 6 and 11 out! But let’s read this in context:

“6. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.

  1. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

11 See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!” (Galatians 6:6-11)

The context here is not just about general sinning, but in sinning by not SHARING IN ALL THINGS with him who teaches. But tells those who don’t want to do it:

Do not be deceived, God will not accept your excuse for using the money to please your flesh instead of giving to teaches you spiritually.  If you please your flesh by not giving, you will get corrupted in your heart. Therefore, avoid this, and as you have opportunity do good and give, to all, but especially those in God’s church.

And then verse 11: WARNING! THIS IS IMPORTANT! PLEASE TAKE NOTE! That’s why I wrote to you with large letters, to emphasize how essential this is!

Where else do you see the apostle Paul say: See, I have written to you with big bold letters? How much more should we focus, stop, take this passage to heart and put it in practice? Again, your decision to obey or disobey will have consequences to you, to others and to God’s work on the earth, and therefore eternal consequences for the souls that don’t get to hear as a result.

Wouldn’t you like to hear words of gratitude, relief and joy from those you have helped financially so they can be free to share the Gospel? Words like those of the apostle Paul:

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. For I have received everything, and I have plenty. I have all I need because I received from Epaphroditus what you sent–a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, very pleasing to God.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:10 – 19)

You see, the promise in the last verse is in the context of giving to God’s work of evangelisation, supporting God’s workers.

Other Christian businessmen have formulated another principle that they follow which is not biblical at all about giving. They only want to give if the work they give to has the high prospect of becoming self supporting. How can a travelling evangelist become self supporting. Will the heathen support him? How can an outreach or church plant in  a remote tribe become self supporting if for years only a few get saved.

How can a Bible translator become self supporting while living in a jungle tribe? Where is he going to get the money to print the Bible from? What if there are no converts or very few and they are very poor? How can a Christian television channel be supported in a totally pagan city where they are no churches, the people don’t speak English, so no English TV programs can be asked to buy a slot to support the expenses? I am speaking from experience in this matter, because I had to think through these things as we did mission in various parts of the world.

So, what is your decision today? Will you give Jesus what He needs to get the reward for His suffering? Souls saved from hell. Will you decide: Obey or disobey? As someone said: The cost of disobedience is greater than the cost of obedience.

How are you going to change your spending habits in order to put the Gospel’s needs first?

How are you going to obey? Can you ask God right now to put on your heart a heart or a ministry to give to and the amount to give? Can you then promptly act and at least write a pledge if right now you don’t have all the funds needed. You can do that by writing them an email, make a phone call, speak to them face to face, etc.

If your desire to obey does not translate into concrete action, you have not obeyed yet. Obedience is complete when the task has been completed fully. If you pledge to give monthly for example instead of a one time gift, your obedience is complete when you keep making sure the money gets sent monthly to the ministry till God says to stop, if He says so.

I would like to hear your comments below and how this teaching has affected you.

God bless you. Mari

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