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Saturday, October 22, 2011

God Doesn't Want a "Portion"

"Dear Lord, we give back to you today a small portion of what you have given to us . . . ." Here is the prayer that is so often said as the offering is taken at the church. I am sure that many who say this prayer are mimicing prayers they have heard others say. Many are more concerned that they sound good when they pray rather than really pray. They have no idea that they are teaching while they pray. They are telling the people that everything they have belongs to them and that they are doing God a favor by giving Him a small "portion." They, therefore can do whatever they wish with the 98% (surveys show that Christians attending church give about 2% of their income).

Herein lies the problem. People are always going to believe they are being good Christians as long as they give God anything when, in fact, God doesn't want 2% or 10%. He requires all of it to be a disciple.  This means that all expenditures should be examined because Christians are being stewards of the possessions given to them rather than "sugar daddies" for God.

Thus, we have the problem with tithing. Most people cannot tithe because they see it as giving God what they can. This becomes what is left over after they have spent what they want on what has become necessities. Included in these necessities are: fast food, cable tv, new cars, a bigger house, big screen tv's and the like. So, the "necessities" come out first before God gets anything. And it is true that He is fortunate to get anything so it must be true that God should really thank these "givers" for their generosity.

Somehow theology has been skewed by our society. God gives salvation without merit or payment on our part. He calls people to this salvation to become His people. However, that doesn't mean that becoming His requires nothing in return. Salvation means giving up all that we were to become all that He has desired for us. It is intended to create disciples who are totally His in every aspect of their lives. It isn't a self-imposed hardship which means wearing hair shirts, starving ourselves (as opposed to fasting) or avoiding any pleasure. It is a life that puts God at the center of our lives so that all decisions and actions flow through Him.

However, this isn't the Christianity that most Christians think they have signed up for. They believe they should "accept" Christ as their Savior. (Which, by the way, can be found nowhere in Scripture.) They will go to heaven regardless of anything they do for the rest of their lives. They may never darken the door of the church or ever say another word about Christ and still be saved.

While I agree that none of these things save an individual. This is also not the picture of salvation as presented in the New Testament. The people had a profound change in their lives which resulted in the world being turned upside down because of the way they lived. Thousands of people became disciples because they heard the good news from people who were living differently. These people took others into their homes to teach them to follow their example. They sold what they had to give to others because they realized that it didn't belong to them in the first place. Even their time wasn't their own for they worshiped each day rather than when it was convenient and they nothing else to do.

Of course, Christianity will not the Christianity of the New Testament until there is a return of God's people to realizing that it all belongs to Him. He doesn't want a portion. All of it is His.

And so it is with us too. All of us are His, too.

Luke 14:33 (NIV) 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.


Anthony Chia said...

One of the main culprits on the scene are the overly grace preachers. It used to be, we tell people to count the cost just as Jesus said it (Luke 14:25-33). Now, it has been perverted to there is no cost to count.

Seriously, I believe there is the entry into salvation, and then the working out of our salvation (Phil 2:12).

Many, many years ago, I used to ponder about whether Scripture was talking about Jesus as the Door or the Way. I would like it to the Door, so that once in, voila, presto, everything is set, Hallelujah; but I have problem accepting it, that God would have such a scheme, even in the name of Love. On the other hand, if it is a way, who can make it, since it can be a long way, you see, I was young then? Now I realize Jesus came both as the Door and the Way. Admission is free, but to graduate, you need to subscribe to the ways of His Kingdom. Admission or entry into salvation is free; Jesus said, “I have already paid for it, the entry pass. Do you want it?” Jesus would give it, the entry pass, free, but you still need to count the cost, how come?

Entry pass is definitely free, Jesus holds them all; Jesus died for the world, for all men (1 John 2:2). In other words, Jesus has the entry pass of everyone. On this verse of 1 John 2:2, some people argued INCORRECTLY that in the end everyone will be saved, a kind of universalism, since Jesus already died for everyone. In spiritual terms, Jesus has wrestled back the authority over our lives from Satan, for everyone; and Jesus paid for it using His own blood and life, but that authority is NOT vested back into a person’s hand if Jesus does NOT pass it to him. That person is still counted with Satan; in other words, your release papers are in Jesus’ hand. If you do NOT accept it from Jesus, the record still shows you are counted with Satan.

You must look at it this way: Jesus now has the authority to write on the blank release papers, your name; if you do NOT accept Jesus’ offer, your name will NOT be written in, so as far as the record goes, Satan still has authority over you, and you are counted with him. This authority over you got vested in Satan, in the first place, because of the first Man, Adam’s disobedience. So, that Jesus died for ALL, does NOT necessarily mean that ALL will be saved.

If it is free, what is the cost to count, that Jesus talked about? The entry is free, walking through the Door is free; the cost is in the subscription to the ways of God’s Kingdom. In other words, Jesus was telling us, “It is my Kingdom, my ways; so if you want to come through the Door, you got to follow my ways.” Yes, Jesus is the King; He prescribes the ways, and the people who want to be His people, and so, form His kingdom, have to follow His ways. Before we cross over the threshold of the Door, we are in one kingdom, the Kingdom of the world which is the domain the Kingdom of Satan is operating on. When we have crossed over, we are in the Kingdom of God.

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Anthony Chia said...

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We need to understand what is meant by the word, “kingdom”? Kingdom is NOT the place, but the people ruled by a King. The people ruled by a King makes up His kingdom, NOT the physical place. The place is just His place of rule. This is NOT so difficult to understand; you are US citizens, regardless you are outside of USA. Thais outside of Thailand still belong to the kingdom of the Thai King. The earth or the world is a place, the Heaven is another place. And so, the Kingdom of God can be extending over Heaven and earth (or the world), as locations, but the Kingdom of God is one. That is why Scripture in John 17:14-15), said that when you crossed over the Door, you are in the world (location), but you are NOT of the world (kingdom). So, when you become a Christian, you are no longer of the kingdom of the world (or Satan); you have become part of another kingdom, the Kingdom of God. When you become a Christian, are you in the Kingdom of God? Yes, you are in the Kingdom of God ON EARTH.

When Jesus started out, His very first sermon was this: “The Kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). In other words, Jesus then was saying the Kingdom of God was near, and coming; but had not come, for He was NOT yet crucified and resurrected, but it was near, and coming then. When He taught believers the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught this, “Thy Kingdom come”; it was in anticipation that He would die and be resurrected, and be set as the King, by the Father God for the Father God, not only for the Kingdom location in Heaven, but also God’s Kingdom on earth. When believers say, and are to say, that prayer, they are in prayer for the Kingdom of God to be firmly established on earth, or for the Kingdom of God to invade the world. What is meant by that? What does it mean to have the Kingdom of God firmly established on earth or that it invades the world? It simply means the ways of God’s Kingdom are to overtake the ways of the Kingdom of Satan.

And so, there is the Kingdom of the world and its ways, and there is the Kingdom of God and its ways; it is a cost when we have to give up something (ways of the world) that we are “having”, to embrace another (ways of God’s Kingdom). The 2 sets are different, and so, how can it be that one can imagine that one can switch from one to another, and NOT have to change one’s way of life. God is holy and Satan is evil/wicked, you tell me, if you switch from one kingdom to the other, do you have to change your ways or NOT? How can one still expect that he can still subscribe to the old ways, and be living in the new Kingdom (Kingdom of God)? It is unspeakable, it is incompatible, hardly sustainable. It is NOT permissible! A final assessment will be made for everyone before our promotion to our HQ, Heaven. The Kingdom of the world/Satan will be utterly destroyed in the end, and Satan will go to Hell. So, what is the wise choice as to the ways of kingdom; ways of God or ways of the world, you decide! You taste God, and God is going to taste you, too; the test of the pudding is in the eating – and that is a way of God.

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Anthony Chia said...

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Times have changed, but it used to be, for people like me, a Chinese, back in China, when the King (we have King back then) wanted me to die, I would die as my King wished. We belong to the King, Jesus Christ, 100%. All of us belong to the King; our possessions, our dignity, our very life belongs to the King. The Luke verse (Luke 14:33) Ps Prentis used, said it rightly: “…. Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be … (my disciple).”

The Apostle Paul, in saying we are to be a living sacrifice, put it this way:

“1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2)

Do you still think you can do what you want as a believer or Christian, or to do nothing, but just bask in grace? Do you still think you can just walk through the Door, and NOT have to walk the Way? Do you still think that you can retain the ways of the world which Satan has perpetuated, while you are in the Kingdom of the holy God, and NOT be objected to, by the King? Is the Holy God to conform to your ways or you are to conform to His ways? Is the Holy God to accommodate forever, the mixing of the pure and wicked ways in His Kingdom? Who say grace and works cannot co-exist in the Kingdom of God? Men, NOT God. God created Man, the first time round, by grace, and God re-creates Man, a second time (Christians are new creation, that is why I say God re-creates), and it is also by grace. But God did NOT say that works is NOT demanded of Man in his living. Know it that, it has always been, we are created by Him, and FOR Him (Col 1:16).

Yes, Jesus is NOT just the Door, but also the Way. And so, there is grace, a gift from God, to pass through the Door, but there is also the need for us to be completely given unto the Lord, in being His people. It may NOT be easy, and we will fall down from time to time, but our understanding and posture (our heart) must be right. Listen to Jesus, avoid the wide gate and broad way:

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matt 7:13-14)