If you decide to read this article, please do it with an open mind and not a biased mind; because it may disturb your age-long theology and unsettle you. The title is: Things The Church must not emphasise if it desires genuine revival. It is not things The Church must avoid if it desires genuine revival. Take note of the words, not emphasise. To emphasise something means to place a premium on it and make it a canon. Not emphasise means to give little attention to something and not to make a doctrine out of it. Please kindly read on:
This is the most disturbing church phenomenon. Money has become a modern-day god and many have been shipwrecked because of their love for it. The Bible does not in any way condemn money. We certainly need money. I possibly won’t be able to maintain the site you’re reading this if there is no money to run it.
But there is a difference between congregational money and individual money. When it comes to collective funds, there is a tendency for it to attract mistrust and all forms of evil. There is infighting wherever the public money is involved. There is confusion and struggle for position and power. That is why the church should place less emphasis on money and by extension tithe and offering.
The apostles did not emphasise money. Paul, in all his epistles only talked about giving. In his epistles to the Philippians and the Corinthians, he talked about cheerful giving. Saying offering time is blessing time is promotional and a tactical way of making money the centre focus. How can offering time be blessing time? The sermon you just listened to is more of a blessing time than the offering? The joy of fellowship with the brethren is blessing time.
Collecting mammon can’t be blessing time. I know your mind will go to Jesus’ statement that it is more blessed to give than to receive. That scripture is talking about day to day living and not the congregational offering time. It is an embarrassment on the grace and anointing of God to say offering time is blessing time. Are we saying those who don’t have money to give for instance won’t be blessed? Are we saying God is waiting for the pittance we drop in the offering plate before blessing us?
The point is, preach and encourage people to live a life of giving. But don’t dwell too much on it. It is not an issue. When people love God, they can give anything. The emphasis should be the love of God. By the way, if what we do is God’s work, why do we try to help God to fund the project by breathing down on the neck of the people to give.
The pastor who preaches that people should trust God for provision should also trust God for provision for the work God has asked him to do. He should not trust the congregation and breath on them. It is sad that some people stopped coming to our gatherings because they don’t want to feel odd when they are being asked to give since they don’t have what to give.
We will always need money and the church will always gather funds. But the way to escape from the mammon spirit is for the church to dispense these funds as fast they could to worthy projects and to impact lives. When a church keeps too much money, it will be the centre point for fight and contention.
It was Charles Spurgeon who said the Old Testament is a covenant of prosperity but that the New Testament is a covenant of adversity. Many may not agree with him. But it is just the plain truth. The characters in the old testament boast a lot about their material wealth.
Abraham was rich in cattle and all the material things of his time, but Paul was only rich in God’s wisdom and revelation. Isaac prospered so well that the people envied him. Stephen in the New Testament was so full of the holy ghost that he was stoned to death.
There is no instance of people living in opulence in the New Testament. Their wealth was spiritual. But under the Old Covenant, their wealth was physical. So, our attitude to material wealth should be non-plus. Any gospel that can’t apply to both the rich the poor is not the gospel of Jesus.
Wealth or poverty are neutral phenomena and should be treated as such. The church should not use the material wealth acquisition as proof of its progress here on earth. It is heart-breaking the way we flaunt material wealth as proof of our acceptance with God.
We not only flaunt it, but we also emphasise it. This undue emphasis on material possession will not only hinder revival but will also kill the church and turn the church into a lame duck. People may be encouraged to make money and multiply it. But it should never be taken as the gospel. The gospel has nothing to do with making money. It has everything to do winning souls and turning them into God’s kingdom
This is one point that may draw some flaks. The concept of long life is an old testament concept and not in the new covenant. And that does not mean believers will die young. Jesus did not promise us long life. In fact, he did not live long.
Many of the apostles died untimely and brutally by human standard. What Jesus promised his followers is eternal life. That is what is guaranteed. Long life is not guaranteed. We mouth it, we pray it. But it is not a promise for the New Testament believer.
By the way, why are we so afraid of the hereafter if we believe the gospel we preach? Why should the length of life we live be a worry? While it must be emphasised that dying young is not good and should be prayed against, the undue emphasis on living long should be discouraged. Rather we should focus on the eternal life promised for us and live with that understanding. A believer with an eternal life mindset will not be afraid of shedding this mortal body so as to move into the reality of that life. But then we must not give in to the antics of the devil and allow him to cut short our lives.
Paul makes it simple by saying, for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Unfortunately, the fear of death has been one of the elements used by fake prophets to hoodwink people. They blackmail their congregation with it. You probably hear some pastors tell their congregation those who want to live long should sow a certain amount of money. That is not the gospel. It is fraud.
The focus of many of our programmes is miracles. We preach it, we pray it. It is the centre point of our meetings. So much talk about miracles. But have we ever pondered why Jesus did not preach miracles in his sermon on the mount? He performed many miracles no doubt. Miracle was not his message.
As a matter of fact, he did not heal everybody that came his way. He could not heal some because they did not have faith, but there are those also who did not have faith that he healed. A miracle is at the discretion of God. It is not a doctrine of the Bible.
It is not something that we should be obsessed about. God performs miracles for His own glory. When pastors advertise miracles and sometimes brag about it, it puts them on the line. We must be humble enough to appreciate that we are not miracle workers.
Let us preach the gospel, pray for the sick. But to place undue emphasis on miracle will take the focus of people away from the gospel. God heals. But the healing is not the gospel. The healing is just a sign and the Bible actually tells us that people will not believe if they don’t see signs.
But then the same Bible says an evil and adulterous generation seeks after signs. Jesus emphasised that no sign will be given apart from the sign of Jonah who was in the belly of the fish for three days. This was symbolic of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Making miracle the main feature of our public programmes could bring the crowd, but it won’t keep the crowd. Jesus performed so many miracles while on earth. But he did not preach miracle. If miracle could make people have genuine love for God, the upper room should not have contained the followers of Jesus after his ascension. God works miracles. But the miracle that should be emphasised is the miracle of changed lives. Have you ever wondered why Jesus said people will come to him and say they worked miracles and he would tell them that he never knew them?
Symbols and faith extenders
Many people in the church have bought into handkerchief and oil as agents of healing. They lose complete focus of the dynamism of God and thereby turn those elements into little gods they carry about. The argument is that it works. It will surely work because faith is reposed in it.
It is the same factor that makes faith in inanimate objects work that makes the oil and handkerchief work. Many things we do work not because it is the right thing. Moses struck the rock against God’s instruction yet water came out of the rock.
We forget that even in the occult world things work even when they are clearly against the will of God. That may sound harsh. But the truth is that when we place undue emphasis on these elements, we remove the place of Jesus. The devil will not mind anything as far as the name Jesus is not our focus.
It is disheartening to see believers carry handkerchief because according to them it contains power. The Bible records one single incident that aprons were taken from the body of Paul and were used to heal the sick. It was never a doctrine or an annual thing.
Men of God who emphasize mantle or handkerchief as the case may be should also have emphasized shadow, mud, and bathing in the river since those were also used in the Bible. The Bible records that people were passing and ensured that the shadow of Peter could get to them and so they could be healed. Why don’t we declare a day for shadow healing and make it annual as we make a ritual out of handkerchief and oil?
By the way, James who talked about oil only talked in respect of healing the sick. He asked that they anoint the sick with oil. In Greek, the word anoint simply means rub. It means to rub the sick with oil. We should understand that oil in the middle east is therapeutic. It is a healing agent.
But then, James said it is the prayer of faith that heals the sick. It is like saying, anybody sick, let him take medicine. But don’t depend on the drug because God is the one who heals. There are those who take drugs for healing and still die. Doctors in fact understand this truth. That is why they say God cures but they care.
God directed his servants on what to do at every given point throughout the Bible. In fact, in the Old Testament God did not follow the same healing pattern to heal the sick. Jesus was also dynamic while performing miracles and healing the sick.
But the good thing is that we have the name of Jesus to use any time. He said we will heal and cast out devils in his name. There is no express command for us to use a handkerchief. He may give specific commands to certain individuals as the need arises, but it is not a doctrine of the Bible. The doctrine of the Bible is the name of Jesus. The danger in these faith elements is that it removes the focus of the people from Jesus and turn their faith to the elements. That is exactly what the devil wants.
To be continued
By Gbenga Osinaike