First, I'd like to start by clarifying faithing. Greek faith is a lot different than our English faith. Our faith just sits there believing in God. Greek faith gets out of the chair and faces the unknown, based solely on something God has said about the situation; making our decision based on what God has outlined for us. We don't often, in our regular lives have to confront the unknown. Not the large ones. And a lot of our decisions aren't major ones. So, we tend not to think about bringing God into it when we have to decide something. I don't ever remember consulting God about what to choose for dinner. And maybe even buying a new car. But I know that when I bring my Self into the process and go with something "He" wants, down the line sometime I reap stress from those seeds of selfishness. If I've taken the easier way out, I get it back again in that same context. So, deciding on God's way of doing something always seems to be the hardest of the options. That makes for a tough walk. Always having to do the hardest thing? "I just want to sit here where it's nice."
But how much more intense is the "hardness" when we get into letting go of our means of living? That's a pretty intense unknown. How will I make up for the money that could have been used for food?
Here's some more Hard. "Giving" away your time. Now we've got three areas of unknown to face. The Believer's Walk is as thorny as any rose bush. I've decided to put all the hard parts together today and give you the Bottom Line of Christianity. It's a hard Walk.
I've touched on the ideas in this piece at other times. I'm not going to say anything new. But I'm calling this the Bottom Line of Xity. Well, here's what's on that bottom line.
Believers are to put 25% of their life to use working for God, furthering His goals.
That means putting 25% of your money to work for God.
That means putting 25% of your time to work for God.
People all across the country put some money in the plate and have almost no idea why. They only have the preacher's word that they should give. Almost no teaching on giving goes on in today's churches. They are lost in a forest of traditional thinking and can't see out to get a look at the whole forest.
I only know one preacher who taught on the giving. But even Dr, Scott never, to my hearing addressed the more practical side of giving. That practical side goes up to God Himself.
The Bible says give. Jesus said is was right for the Pharisees to tithe. Paul in every letter but one teaches that the Believers support the teachers of the Word. But does it stop there? Isn't God behind all this teaching? Isn't it God's wish that we know how, when, to whom we give? God must want us to know about giving. He talks about it in many different ways in just about every book of the Bible.
Jesus only addressed the issue from the side door and never mentioned it outright. The practical side of giving from God's perspective is related to the creation of the universe. That's God's "bottom line." The creation of the physical universe. That's God's "forest."
So, let's work down from God's bottom line to see where our giving fits in. This reasoning all comes out of information in the Bible. Nothing new here.
God was in the midst of putting together the physical universe, with Lucifer and a large host of angels in charge specifically with the earth. The major, basic creation was there for the heavenly host to enhance, put the icing on the cake, as Herbert W. Armstrong said.
Consider for a minute what that really means. Without trying to specifically limit their creative abilities, the fact is that those angels and Lucifer in particular could create. In the same way that God creates. Again, nothing new here. As Science has long taught, everything, that's everything, is just energy. Energy grouped together to form certain "physical" things.
God allowed angels to have limited creative ability. The fourth created angelic being, Lucifer, had more creative ability than those below him. Above Lucifer? God, Jesus, Michael, and maybe Gabriel, but probably not. I don't think that Gabriel could beat Satan. He had to get Michael to help him hold back the Prince of Persia so he could deliver Daniel's prayer request.
Therein lies a very plausible explanation why one third of heaven decided to follow Lucifer. They decided. He didn't blackmail them or threaten them. I'm sure he used some propaganda on them, but they still had to decide to go with him. Lucifer was as Good as God, mostly. These angels, don't forget, knew God on a personal basis. They had "seen" God, "heard" Him speak.
Lucifer's beauty, voice, obvious high position with God, AND his spectacular creative power made it look to the angels that there was so little difference between the two that they could give in the Lucifer's propaganda. Lucifer's way has never changed. He sets up a division between two groups, bringing them both down to him. He did it with Eve when he pointed out the separation between her and God. Then he applied his Solution, do the Wrong thing. He creates a problem/separation, then offers the Solution. Allegiance to him. He'll get us out of this mess.
Let me go aside here to reinforce that creative ability. Again, everything is just energy put together to look like something physical. Even our bodies are just groups of energy. Where does that energy come from? Of course, ALL the physical universe is made up of God's energy. It was His energy that The Word spoke. The energy formed itself into what we see. It is sustained nano-second by nano-second by God. We, our bodies are just God energy. We also are creators.
How many times in the Bible do we read where an angel showed up as a living man? Is that what angels really are? Flesh and blood men? No. They are able, through their God-allowed creative ability, to reform the God-energy into something the looks and acts just like a human being. They just re-group the energy.
That's exactly what we do for our own physical bodies. There's a little bit of God energy that has been "individuated" into my Self. My Self then forms my physical body. Remember that this is all by God's allowance. He's got a reason for this to happen. He wants these bits of His energy to accomplish something for Him. Remember I said that Jesus only addressed it by the side door. It was "hidden" in his Gospel. Jesus' gospel isn't the same that most churches teach. They teach the Gospel about Jesus. That's good to know, but what was the gospel that Jesus preached? Isn't he one of God's main Trees? He might have beautiful leaves and great branches and a lofty top, but what did he say was most important? He preached the kingdom of God. He told his Apostles to do the same and even gave Paul the same mission.
Well, of course, that would be Jesus' main message. He was working for God, not us or himself. God wanted him to preach that kingdom. The kingdom is another large tree in God's forest. What is God's forest? The creation of the physical universe.
God is creating a fail-safe plan to get back to that creative project. Lucifer sidetracked the plan when he rebelled. We need to understand the timing of this. Genesis 1:1 is completely separate from Genesis 1:2. Jeremiah confirms that the proper translation is that the earth became a waste and a desolation. The original creation of the basic earth became a waste. At some point God started the re-creative process; for the earth, not the whole universe, or even the other planets of the solar system. God put out His Spirit over the desolate earth's waters. That Spirit spoke and the re-creative process began.
As we know, Adam and Eve fell, too. That meant that Satan, as he was now called, was put back in charge of the earth. He was in charge in Jesus' day. That's why he could get away with offering Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth. And he's still in charge today. But so is God's fail-safe
The only one who never went against anything that God had said was Jesus. That's how he was considered sinless. You already know that all the beings that we read about in the Bible are created beings, except for Jesus. God didn't create Jesus, like He did Lucifer. Lucifer wasn't 100% God "conscious" the way Jesus was. That's how Jesus could be all man and all God at the same time. It was the consciousness behind the physical body that was 100% God.
It's clearly taught in both Testaments that Believers will eventually be all God-beings. Just like Jesus. Then we "other" gods will not go against God the way the angels did. You know, two thirds of the angels that stayed with God still have the ability to decide for a different leader.
And for 25 years you've heard me talk about faithing. Acting out that trust in God that the Bible talks about. Paul's main message is that when we do trusting acts on something God has said, like tithing or making God-information available to others, that God puts some of His Life Force inside our bodies. The more of God's Life is in us, the more like God we are. Eventually, we will be ALL God Life-force. Not really human any more. Able to do what and more than angels can do. Just like Jesus.
That Kingdom of God that Jesus preached is the Golden Age, the Millennium. At the end of the Millennium, the transformation of those that chose God will become complete, time will cease to exist and the re-creation of the universe will finally continue. There's God's forest. Where's your 25% fit in?
How did God start the ball rolling toward the re-creation process? We won't go farther back than Jesus, for sake of time. What was Jesus mission? Tell the world that God was going to set up a kingdom here on earth. How did he do that? He preached it. He made that information available to those around him and sent others to many places, telling them to preach the same. But just just saying it, and telling others to tell about it couldn't accomplish that. How will anyone believe that news? It's Eternity, not some traveling show. It means a complete change of life style on the part of the Believer. It means that 25% of your life.
Basically, Jesus mission was the statement and the proof of the statement's Truth. Both had to be there for people to believe. Jesus proved that God was Real. He proved it by doing something that no other human ever did or will do. He came back to life after 72 hours. He didn't do that by himself. He even said he would die and came back to life in three days.
In proving that he was connected to God by this supernatural act of resurrection, he verified that the other things he said about God and eternity were also True.
Only one thing remained. If God was building a new workforce of Believers, He certainly would not stop at just telling them that He was going to have a kingdom on earth. He'd surely tell them how they might participate, if they chose to.
So, Jesus, proved God's reality and told folks how to participate. And please notice here Jesus' method for going about that mission. Did he go door-to-door? Did he visit the local hospital to do a bunch of healing? Or did he make the information available to those around him; in a way that left the choice up to them. Even when he talked directly to the original twelve and said, "Follow me," they had the choice not to.
Those ways weren't Jesus' ways of accomplishing his mission. He did things the way God wanted them done. So, we can conclude that God wants His message gotten out by those methods. Prove His reality, make available the information of His coming kingdom and how to participate.
Take a second and lay those ideas on what goes on in Christianity today. Hmmm.
We are not along for the ride to heaven. We are to be working for God by getting His reality out the others, including the coming kingdom and how we are to participate in it. How do we "work" for God on this? We set aside 25% of our lives to the task.
People hate it when money comes up, but that's the easy one. It's right there in black and white. We're suppose to tithe and give the mandated offerings. Proper study will show this to be up there about 25%. Hard to accept, but easy to understand.
Again, it's absolutely clear that we are to support the ministry. But what exactly is "the ministry?" Go to Ephesians four , verse twelve. It says that the teachers are for teaching the saints to work for God.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
As you can see, the work of the ministry is the edifying of the body of Christ. Who is "the body of Christ?' it's the Believers, the "saints". This has nothing to do with non-Believers. Preachers and saints are to leave non-believers alone and concentrate on building up the other Believers. And by what method? Not by the Believer's idea of how to do that, but by the methods that God uses.
Yeah, I know that sounds too exclusive, but here's how God deals with those non-believers. He didn't leave them out. While the Believers are busy getting the information out to others, the Holy Spirit is drawing non-believers to the information. When the information hits home and the person has a "moment of Truth", that moment when the person realizes that what the person is seeing/hearing can only be supernatural, they will want to follow up that information to find out more. They are now Believers. Beginning Believers, but Believers enough to seek God.
Where we fail is the getting the word out. Christendom has adopted salvation as it's object. Especially Protestantism. They all seem to trying to save the world. Jesus never preached salvation. He preached the kingdom and trusting God; which is how we participate.
Firstly, we have to have the information before we can get it out to others. That means that we must study the available evidence. When we become knowledgeable on a certain subject, the Holy Spirit can draw a person to us for some more information. Study takes a lot of time and discipline. Discipline, disciple, learner. Disciple means learner. Not just follow along in the rear.
There goes part of the 25% of your time. You can't get out a word you haven't studied, vetted. Then comes the part that really eats up that 25%. How do we make the info available to others? How about public access TV? Pretty high profile, huh? OK, how about a radio show? Yeah, still pretty heavy. OK, you can set up a web site. Part of your 25% money will pay the small cost. You can put up page after page of neat stuff you've learned about God and the Bible. It's very easy access for others and doesn't pressure them in any way to respond. They can just push the little X and be gone. If you like to write down your experiences, put together a bunch of essays and put it in the local bookstore. Still beyond your present ability or resources? Put up notices on the local bulletin boards that you are holding discussions or Bible study at a certain time and place. If you have been studying, you will have the desire to share God with others, so you don't have to think about being some hot shot Bible teacher. We have to figure out what we can do to get out knowledge out so other believers can "find" it. You know, we can't research everything. As Believers, we will be searching out sources of God-info that we haven't learned yet.
Now. The more time one spends making the info available, the less time one will have to make the money to eat, pay the rent. God told us many times over who gets our 25%. It goes two places and is directed at God. Mainly, your giving goes to the teacher that helps you learn about God. But a small portion goes to "reflecting" God to those around you. That's what the third tithe is for.
I'm not going to detail out the three tithes, but the first one, 10% of EVERYTHING that comes in, goes to your teacher. The second tenth, is for you to travel and sojourn to a place where you can celebrate God with other Believers. In the Old Testament, it was to finance their three yearly trips to Jerusalem. I do have to remind you that the tithe of money and time is put there by God so we won't get carried away like the New Testament Christians did. God doesn't want us to give away everything. He never told them to do that. Didn't most of the money that they gave go for the sustenance of other poorer Believers? It's very hard to view that as edifying other Believers with God-information. And you may have noticed that the church at Jerusalem went nowhere. They weren't doing God's work. They were busy trying to live like what they defined as Christian. Paul regularly sent offerings from other saints to help out the Ebionites, as they were called; The Poor, is what that means.
The tithe is all God wants, all three. And our job is to support those from whom we get spiritual food and to get our learning out in front of other Believers. There isn't a Believer alive that can't participate in God's work. Even at that Moment of Truth, the person already has the ability and means to start. God has seen to that before He allowed the Moment of Truth. Any saint will gladly tell you how God was working, getting them ready, years before their eyes were opened.
Let's give our time and money the way God has instructed us. He has promised that we will have more than we need, both time and money.