Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Predators Are Attracted To The Spectacle

I have two themes ricocheting back and forth in my being as a pray for states in the Midwest and think of people living in the plains states. The importance of giving the word of God first place in worship and the unifying power of giving.

Seen in the light of grace both things are a mirror of grace

"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures," - 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV

Not just teaching but Christ centered teaching that focuses on redemption, salvation and resurrection.

"We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord... For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." - 2 Corinthians 8:1-3, 9 ESV

Giving is such a beautiful thing... such a unifying thing. Grace giving is at least. When people decide of their own free will to give to a cause out of love. The generosity becomes a spectacle. Paul boasts about their lives of faith

These two areas, the spiritual power of transformation that comes to a group from preaching Christ and the compassionate giving that unifies a group, are also the places where we see predators rise up inside the assembly... false teachers and false givers.

"But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, 'This man is the power of God that is called Great.' And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic... saying, 'Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.' But Peter said to him, 'May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God." - Acts 8:9-11, 19-21 ESV

Simon the Sorcerer saw the power of preaching and teaching and wanted it.

"Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." - 2 Timothy 3:5-7 KJV

Learning, learning, learning but not learning Jesus. Mimics parroting phrases that they heard but they themselves are stones flying through darkness into the void. They may talk about grace and the Bible but really they are trying to buy favor to fill their void with intellectualism. The thing is... you can't buy the Holy Spirit.

Then there are the false givers... Ananias and Sapphira are a perfect new testament example.

"But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.' " - Acts 5:1-4 ESV

True giving is only ever grace giving and true preaching is only grace preaching. These two things create a spectacle that can not be duplicated because the life of God is manifested in the midst of them.

We give by faith and listen to men who preach by faith but it isn't for us to get something. The teaching reveals what we already have. We have God and we have His love and uniquely manifested favor. Teaching shows us that. Giving happens as an outflow of that but it should never be legislated... encouraged but not legislated... individual giving uncorks us so that as we are emptied and God can fill us with freshness and corporate giving edifies those in need and propels the Gospel forward into dark places by providing a means for logistical grace. Logistical grace is much more than money of course but God uses money also.

There are false teachers and false givers but that does not discourage us or make us introspective. There always have been those elements circling the Church and looking for isolated members to prey upon. It has been that way from the beginning.  Genuine preaching and giving are still amazing things. We must use discernment and live in the real thing. The value or the real far outweighs anything else.


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