Monday, January 26, 2009

One gospel for New Yorkers, another one for New Guineans

Imagine preaching the same 'prosperity gospel' preached in New york, to the people living in the villages of New Guinea!


To the people who are living in the falling apart hay huts...

Imagine telling them that God would bless them with Cadillac's, Lexus's, computers, iPhones or jobs in big corporations if they only knew how to 'claim' God's blessings. Or if they had enough 'faith'! Lets say, God blessed them with Cadillac's, where would they drive those? Do they have roads? Are they more concerned about luxury cars and homes than food to survive? I think it is safe to assume that most of them would be pretty happy if they had enough food to eat and a place to lay their head at night.

Is the message of Gospel geographic-specific? Would it be different based on what country/region you live in? Is it era-specific, that its relevant today but wasn't relevant 2000 years ago?

I thought the message of gospel, which was true 2000 years ago is still the same today and forever for ALL humanity all over world.

Well, only if it's preached for what it is...

Did Jesus have one message for New yorkers and another one for New Guineans?

I think this is where we would need to make a come back to the core fundamental truth of the Bible and see what truly the message of Gospel is, and learn to keep the 'majors' as majors and 'minors' as minors in the Bible.

One of the famous passages written by Apostle Paul goes like this,

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." - Romans 1:16-17

So, the gospel is about God's gift of righteousness given to us through Christ Jesus! It is about Jesus doing something we could never do. It is, 'God reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them'. It is about Christ providing forgiveness for the entire humanity(Africans, Americans, Asians, Europeans) through His death and was raised from dead so that He can give the same LIFE which resurrected Him, to us, which is eternal LIFE. It is about restoring what we lost in Adam - spiritual life.

Now, that is a good news for anyone - poor, sick, rich, homeless, New Yorker, New Guinean, white, black, brown, yellow, green! It was a good news 2000 years ago, still a good news in 2009 and it will be a good news until the second coming of Christ. It won't change and it cannot be changed!

Imagine telling a sick, malnutritioned African kid that he is sick because he is not 'claiming' what God has for him. Imagine telling a born-handicapped person that he is handicapped because he has no enough faith to claim healing. Imagine telling a mute person that since he is not speaking in tongues, he is less spiritual.

It looks like we turned spirituality into a mechanism for our physical and material well-being here on earth. Seemingly becoming more and more selfish. And we try to sell a 'puppet jesus' who would satisfy our greedy consumerism! And we think we are better than others since we have more 'stuff' and a stuff-providing god.

What is Jesus has to offer me? a trouble-free life? healing? prosperity? an emotional gratification? a short-term entertainment?

What is the fellowship with other believers going to offer me? sense of community? security of a friends circle?

What is the Church has to offer me?

What is the pastor has to offer me?

It's all about ME! I love ME!

When there are troubles in our life, what is the one question which frequently comes to our mind?

"Why ME?"

Where is that question coming from? It is coming from the deep reality that we think we are better than others! When someone else had an accident/sickness/job loss, we didn't ask "why she?" or "why he?" Did we? We just sympathized with them and prayed for them. But when the same thing happens to us, we ask loud : "Why me" or "Why my wife/husband/kids?"

I would ask another question in return : Why NOT?

Who is not prone to sickness or accident or job loss? Since I am a Christian (and a better one), I shouldn't lose my job? If, so all the people who had lost their jobs are somehow 'bad'? I should always get that promotions I wanted? And I should always own a big house in the subdivision? nice car? nice vacation? and I should be perfectly healthy all the time? (One thing that I still don't understand, that if I am supposed to be perfectly healthy always, I shouldn't die even if I am 150 years old!)

Where in the Bible Jesus/Apostles promised a trouble-free life? I can't see it!

When I think that I am living in perfect health and harmony and I am entitled for such blessing because I am a Christian/believer, what I am unknowingly proclaiming is that the believers who are less fortunate (who has no car, no enough food, no home, no medical insurance, no vacation, no enough money, no job, no doctor) are somehow inferior to me; there by, I believe God has partiality!

Why would we believe that Christians should be sickness-free and poverty-free when it is a mere fact that there are genuine believers who are sick and poor?

It is also a fact that there are unbelievers who are much more healthier and wealthier than many Christians. How do we explain that? When I get nice weather, the 'sinner' next door is also getting the same nice weather, how dare!

Folks, when did Jesus become a god of wealthy? (This is not to say that He is just the God of poor). I am saying, he is God of every single believer all around in the world, regardless of whether he/she is poor, wealthy, sick, well, white, black, brown, yellow, American, Canadian, Chinese, homeowner, homeless, CEO, clerk, nanny, prisoner, landscaper, jobless or handicapped.

Jesus did not die only for the people who live in developed countries on earth, he also died for those in the slum villages of Africa and India. And it is absolutely possible that a person can be a child of God while still living in a poor village where there are no hospitals, transportation or a sense of (physical) security.

He/She can still be totally content, joyful, and in total peace!

for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. - Apostle Paul (Phil 4:11-13)

41 comments:

Leonard said...

Friend ya know I like to kid around allot and ya also know that me and you are on a first name basis, but I would like to, just this once say to you.

"GOD BLESS YOU SIR."

your friend and a big fan
Leonard

Adam said...

Unfortunately the "prosperity" gospel is widely received in the third world - everyone is looking for the free handout. No they don't promise Cadillacs but the message is the same!

Bino M. said...

Leonard, Thanks for your friendship, brother! I do not have it all figured out, just like anyone else talking things out, out of my own experiences, observations, logic and understanding of the Bible...

Much grace!

Bino M. said...

Adam,
Thank you for stopping by! What you said is a fact that this prosperity talk is widely preached/received in third world countries. It amazes me to see the many coming to Christ for the wrong things and totally miss out the one right thing He offered - forgiveness and LIFE. To me, it's nothing but the secular consumerism creeping into the body of Christ. It grieves me because there are thousands live in disappointment that they didn't get what they were offered by the televangelist/preacher.

Amy said...

Bino,
Great post. Sigh...yes, the "Prosperity Gospel" is not the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. And it is so sad that Third World countries are "buying into" and preaching it in many congregations there, as well as here in our own country.

God desires us to be provided for, but He never, ever promised that ALL would have financial riches.

Blessings,
~Amy :)

Bino M. said...

Amy,
Thanks!

Ursula Kuba said...

Bino...awesome post! Hmmm....God will give you a fararri to a tribesman in New Guinea.....that could be interesting!

Prosperity gospel is a load of twaddle and needs washing down Lydias newly plumbed sink!!!

Bino M. said...

Ursula,

Ferrari?

I like to use my private jet to go around the world telling them that they don't have their own jets because they are dump and don't know how to use the 'tools' of faith to 'claim' it.

Thanks for stopping by!

Ursula Kuba said...

Yep...guys, you may live in a rubbish dump, but you did not tithe your 1/10 of a portion of flies, diseases or glass cutting into your feet. Sorry guys....

And remember, if you double tithe you will be doubly blessed....

JMBMOMMY said...

This is an amazing post! So many people I come in contact with -- claim this type of faith. Would it be okay to share this post from my blog and site you/link to you?

Bino M. said...

JMBMOMMY - Feel free to share! If it can be helpful to shed one person's unrealistic expectations, that will make me glad since the post finds its purpose.

Thank you for stopping by!

Leonard said...

Did you guy's see this ?>>>

http://blog.graceroots.org/2009/01/oh-brother-tithe-rap.html

Joel B. said...

Bino,

God will bless you mightily for this post! Oh, wait, hold on. That would go against your whole point here! LOL :)

You've said so much great stuff here! I was just listening to a certain teacher today... I won't name him, and I love his grace-based teaching... but when it comes to healing and 'prosperity' he gives exactly the opposite impression that you give here, and it saddens me. He implied that Christians shouldn't even be getting the flu, because of this 'gospel' of healing. He said it's all dependent upon our individual revelations of grace, and the levels of glory that we move up in. According to this teaching, some of us are at 0, some at 30-fold, some at 60-fold, but very few are at 100-fold. The more we learn about and appropriate God's love and grace, the closer we'll get to 100-fold.

Needless to say, this really irked me! :( Is there an "angry face" emoticon??? :-< I don't know... LOL. Anyway, I'm with you. There are grace-filled, grace-loving, grace-full people who are healed and healthy and wealthy, and there are those who are equally grace-filled, grace-loving and grace-full who have poor health and are financially poor... and all of them can have the same peace and love and joy, etc. Same for those who have no love or acknowledgment of God at all.

Funny how you mention "It's all about ME!" Lately I've been thinking of a doing blog post with similar words, although based on something slightly different. :) And you're right... the Church has been selling a consumer-based Jesus that really has nothing to do with the Jesus who had everything in heaven, but made Himself of no reputation and humbled Himself and became a man and took our sin upon Him. When Paul says that for our sakes Jesus became poor so that we might become rich, it had absolutely nothing to do with earthly wealth!

Anyway, this topic hits a nerve with me, and I know it does with you as well! Great words here!

Bino M. said...

Joel,

When Paul says that for our sakes Jesus became poor so that we might become rich, it had absolutely nothing to do with earthly wealth!

Isn't it amazing that is the one verse which is being used over and over in the prosperity circle? I can tell you one thing right away, I am not rich (materially), but I am soo very rich in Christ Jesus!

Christians shouldn't even be getting the flu?

LOL!

Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. - 1 Tim 5:23

I wonder why Apostle Paul didn't put Timothy under a guilt trip telling him he is sick because he just don't know the 'healing' he has in Jesus. Oh Pleaseeeeeeeeee!

Bino M. said...

Joel,

I just read a post by Darrin Hufford called Fainting Goat Syndrome

Surprisingly he is also addressing the 'flu' issue. Check it out!

RJW said...

OK...I'll throw the bomb...

3So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders. Acts 14:3.

and

3Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live." 5But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.
7There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably. 8His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him. 9When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured. Acts 28:3-9.

We can all agree that the Scriptures seem to contradict themselves at times. BUT...any truth taken TOO FAR becomes error. No, God didn't promise us all "Life Styles of the Rich and Famous" but to negate what was accomplished in Christ's body on the cross is swinging too far the other way, in my opinion. The life of Christ indwells EVERY believer; how we choose to live fron THAT REALITY is a matter of belief.

Bino, you know I love you, right??? :)

Bino M. said...

Jamie, I knew this! :) I know you love me so I take no offense. :)

BTW, I appreciate you sharing your honest thoughts. You are a courageous woman. And I think it is ok if we don't agree. How's that?

I have attended a congregation where they believed all the prosperity and health things and I can tell you, that was a period of dishonest and untruthful life to me. Because I heard one thing preached and experienced totally the opposite. Not only me, I have seen many experiencing just the opposite of what was being preached Sunday after Sunday. Even the preachers were experiencing the opposite of what they were preaching (This is not to say that just because I/someone didn't experience it makes it a lie.)

The life of Christ indwells EVERY believer; how we choose to live from THAT REALITY is a matter of belief.

So, the fact I had a flat tire this morning is because I didn't live in the reality of Christ dwells in me?

the fact that my kids were sick last week because either me/my wife didn't live in the reality of Christ dwells in us?

the fact that my car skidded on ice last month because I didn't live in the reality of Christ dwells in me?

the fact that the believers in the third world countries don't have what we have here in America, because they don't live in the reality of Christ dwells in them?

I can go on and on... Here is the thing, Jamie: Either I don't understand the principle of 'living in the reality of Christ dwells in me' OR I can STILL have many troubles in this world WHILE living out of the reality of Christ dwells in me. It is one or the other.

Again, We are just talking through this, this is not to win an argument. :)

RJW said...

Hmmmm...thinking...I cannot disagree that these circumstances happen. That would be foolish.

I will not even say that adverse circumstances didn't come against Jesus and His disciples. What I'm saying is: How did the circumstances affect them? Why can't we live as Jesus did?? Why not?? Did circumstances cause the disciples to begin to disqualify what Christ had done at the cross? Not at all. All but John were martyrs, so we're not discussing immortality of this body. Paul had a "thorn in the flesh" which some will argue was physical and others not. They weren't rich but their needs were met, yes? Even in adversity was God FAITHFUL? And did they walk in divine health? I can't find where they didn't. I would imagine that part of healing others would mean this applies to oneself; I don't know. I am uncomfortable with the conclusion that because all are not healed God doesn't heal. All weren't healed when Jesus walked the earth. Yet He healed. I don't think there is a secret formula. I don't think my BIG faith conjures up God. I think the life of Christ in me can manifest itself. And I live from that belief.

I'm not trying to give you some spiritual 3-step formula. There isn't anything more than Christ in us. (And that is bigger than we know!) And our faith. I just don't want to tell God what is impossible for Him. I want to live anticipating the miraculous.

I don't have God's ways figured out yet. And I know no one does. I just don't want what I believe to be based on what I consider possible, probable, or logical.

I don't think God is contained by any of my perceptions.

Do you think every martyr feels like God failed them? Do you think God falls off the throne when life isn't what we expect? Do you think the life of Christ in us can and should make a difference NOW not later? Do you think the cross is all the provision God intends to make? I don't really need too much of the stuff we're discussing later. :)

When I'm in prison, I want to expect God to show up.

When I'm sick, I want to expect life to manifest.

When I have a need, I sure 'nuff do run to my Dad and tell Him about it!

Did Word of Faith get WAY out of balance?? Sure!! But...faith is still the way this life is to be lived. Christ isn't just hanging out with me twiddling His thumbs waiting for me to DIE(my body); he's LIVING through me! LIFE! In the EXTREME! I don't see health as any different than peace, joy, etc. ALL of thses are mine in Him.

I just accept the whole package. That is pretty basic for me. Got Christ? Got LIFE!

When the waves rise, I say, "Peace be still" and I will do that whether they do or don't.

How would you like to have been Moses with that old stick?? Well, that stick stood for Jesus!

Or Noah building that big boat? Yep, that was Jesus, too.

And Abraham and Sarah?? Please...but guess who was faithful? Even when they tried to "help" God out!

Poop happens; it's a fact. But, in God's eyes THE CROSS HAPPENED and I'm going to put that cross into everyone of my circumstances. And whether or not I understand what happens the cross doesn't fail.

And I think that is what every disciple would say.

Joel B. said...

Here's my thoughts, and I KNOW I'm right. I KNOW it!!! LOL

Really, just adding to the conversation, not to argue. :)

I'll first say that I believe in miracles, signs and wonders. I don't doubt the fact one bit. I believe in God's supernatural healing. I believe that God has and still can and still does confirm His message through signs and wonders.

But I also believe He confirms His message of grace in many, many other ways, in all kinds of people, meeting them right where they're at!

I believe the accounts of Paul and the apostles healing and performing signs and wonders are true as true can be. But I also believe that it's dangerous to take their accounts and make doctrine out of them... as if to say that since Paul and some others did those things, then everyone in Christ's body does those same things. Paul Himself, in Romans 12 and 1 Cor 12, said that not all people do all the same things. God Himself has placed the members of the body exactly where He wants them to be!

So when someone comes along and tells me, for example, that I'm supposed to be able to heal because all of God's fullness dwells in me, I say, "but that's NOT who God made me to be!" God has made ME to be something wonderful! But that doesn't mean that He has made me to do all the same things that He's made other parts of the body to do.

I live with the expectation that God can and will do in and through me whatever He wants to do in and through me! But after years of feeling pressure from others to be something that I'm not, I've finally come to a place where I'm quite, quite, quite, very, very, very content to be the part that I am and to not be who I am not! :)

I do think that Paul's words to the Philippians that "my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus" have wrongfully been taken to mean that God's people will never be lacking in earthly needs. Paul didn't even use that verse on himself! ;) Just a few short verses prior to saying that, he himself said, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Just to say again right here... I'm just speaking where I'm coming from, and I'm passionate about it, but in my heart I am absolutely positively not arguing with anyone. :)

But I say all that to say that in this world... and let's even narrow it down to in the body of Christ... there are people who are rich (earthly wealth) and there are people who are poor. There are people who are living in great health, and there are people who are living in poor health. I think none of it, in any scenario, is an indication of God being extra 'good' to certain people or withholding blessings from others. I think that earthly blessings are in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. But God's true riches are without partiality, and are not earthly-based.

When someone says "God has blessed me," and they tell me about their nice house, or their vehicles, or their high paying job, or whatever... I'm sincerely HAPPY that they have those things! That's wonderful! But either God has withheld those things from me intentionally... OR He has blessed me with great peace and contentment with my '89 Dodge Colt that I wonder every day if it will get me to work or not, and with my house built in 1955 that needs some serious work done in several areas, and with my job that He led me to in 1994, taking a $2 cut in pay (from over $8/hr to less than $6/hr at the time)... and so on and so on. =D

God could, at any time, sweep over me with a WORD, and give me all kinds of earthly possessions. But how much more would I really be blessed, than to be a person who is absolutely content no matter what the circumstances.

The Lewis Family said...

Golly, this is great! I am so enjoying this conversation. It makes me laugh and cry at the same time. Weird. . .

Anyway, I have a story. . . About 7 years ago I was pregnant with my first child. Husband and I felt strongly that we need to move from a small town in BC to this larger one about 5 hours away. Arrive with 2 large dogs, knowing no one there, a car that is just about dead and camping with morning sickness. God provided a place for us to stay rent free on large farm with some neat believers in an old unused house (except for storage). Basically a place we would have never chosen had we a choice, bt it turns out to be the best place for that time.

Car goes to dump yard, Dan finds lump in neck. Dr suspects Hodgkins (cancer). Dan and I rather stunned and conversely excited. It was exciting to us in a weird way. . . So, he is diagnosed officially after various surgical mishaps. I was freaked out mixed with curiosity at first. Then God impressed upon me so strongly (doesn't happen often) that Dan was going to be fine. So, I was confident that Dan was going to be ok. We started receiving cards from people who heard that Dan had cancer. The kind that say, 'We are so sorry to hear that you have cancer. . .' And I would look at those cards in bemusement and wonderment thinking to myself, 'Don't be, God has it all in control. It is perfect.'

I really found those cards 'faithless' and irritating (though the people meant well it just made me realize that it was worry). The only card I appreciated was one from an older lady who wrote and told us that God had it all, do not worry. . .

So yeah, Dan went through intense chemo. It would have been nice if he had been healed sans chemo, but it wouldn't have been the best. God did many things in our hearts, especially Dan's as he was the one suffering. We were encouraged in the knowledge that he was refining our faith. And that was a tool he was allowing to dispel doubt. And there were those who said we had to claim healing (though God had already informed me that Dan would be fine in the end) and there were those who came up and wept and and hugged him and told him that he was such an encouragement to their trust in God. No, it wasn't easy to go through, but it was truly a time of experiencing His love and trustworthiness in a difficult situtation.

So, with that said. I know Christ has done all for me on the cross. I know that He is the author and finisher of my faith and I know that whatever things happen on this planet that he always provides and that he shows us His love and increases our faith in His love in mighty interesting ways. I can't really focus too much on healing etc, or I find myself looking at myself too much. I just trust Him to show me His heart and compell me with his love no matter the circumstance. . . Healing is awesome, but I love the peace that comes from focusing on His goodness and knowing that He has everything perfectly in control! When you know that He has all things in control and that He loves you intensely, you know that even a flat tire or a sick child had a purpose greater than we can conceive of. I speak from experience - have some other crazy stories. . . Fight the good fight. Purpose in everything. And it is for our good - that is how loved we are!

RJW said...

These are wonderful comments!!! :)

For me, I live by faith that no matter the circumstance God is keeping me. I think we would all agree on that.

For me, I will speak to the mountain.

I can't help but think of Paul being considered out of his mind and REALLY how ridiculous and outrageous people who walk by faith appear to the world. But I don't live by what the world believes is true.

Time to rewatch The Matrix. That's not just freedom from sin or even just a religious system to me. That movie represents freedom to walk so undefined by the world's reality that although you are in the world you aren't part of it.

I will say it probably hurt like heck when Paul got the crap stoned out of him but Paul, like Christ, wasn't basing what he believed on what was happening to his body but on God living in Him. Good, bad, indifferent circumstance. I will be just that idiotic. Nothing is bigger than the cross, not even death, so I am determined to only KNOW THAT AND HIM. And I'm trusting God for the rest. :)

jul said...

Jamie, you and I are on the same wavelength in all this I think. I definately don't want any more methods or formulas, but I want to believe that God loves us and cares about every detail of our life. I know he can heal, and I know he wants to heal. Not once did Jesus ever turn someone away who came for healing saying it was his father's will for them to be sick. I don't understand why we get sick sometimes, some die even, and I would never point the finger at anyone and say it's lack of faith or some such ridiculous thing. Same for material wealth...I don't think poverty as a lifestyle is God's way with his children, even believers in 3rd world nations are provided for (I think 'rich' is such a relative term anyway). I have no desire to be 'rich' in the way our culture defines it, however I do hope to feed my children well and enjoy life, I also hope to feed many many others...something I can't do without God's provision. Everything I have is from him, every good thing comes from him, and if he gave up his most valuable for us how will he not along with Jesus give us every good thing? Like you, I will speak to the mountain and if it doesn't move I'll keep speaking! Can't hurt can it?

Great discussion!

By the way, I am currently getting over the flu and money is extremely tight at the moment! And I am content.

Bino M. said...

The Lewis Family,

Thank you for sharing your story. It's awesome!

Jamie,

I don't want to retype everything Joel already said. That's exactly where I am coming from.

But, I want you to see this from a slightly different angle (if you will), so, to do that I have to ask you few questions (you probably won't like it but it is necessary to make my point). So bear with me :)

Do you have medical insurance?

When you built your home, did you install smoke alarms?

When you bought a car, did you make sure it has the safety features?

When you drive, do you wear seat belt?

Do you use medicine at all, if you are sick?

Why?

Can't Jesus protect your home from fire? Can't Jesus keep you from having accident, illness?

When we see a house on fire, should we just pray or should we call the fire department? When we have illness, do we go to Doctor (if its possible) or do we just pray? When someone breaks in to your home and try to harm your children, do you show him the other cheek or do you kick him out with all your might?

I am not sure if you can see my point. The thing is the people who usually say they have a strong 'faith' that God will protect/heal/keep them safe, if you look closely, their actions do not line up with that they say. They have one theory and a different practice.

When I have a flat tire, I won't sit their a and pray "heal this tire in Jesus name", I will just use my common sense and either fix it (if I can) or call someone to fix it. It's plain simple. The reason God has given us some brain is to use it. When my house is on fire, I don't sit there and pray but call the fire department (if it's possible) and take my kids out of there as fast as I can. That's exactly what Paul did when Timothy had an indigestion, he asked him to drink some wine. He (Timothy) didn't sit there and wonder "Why Me?" and he didn't suspect whether it was happening because he wasn't living in the 'fullness' of what Christ has done on the cross.

(Ok this is getting longer, will continue in the next comment)

Bino M. said...

There was lady in the congregation I attended few years ago, her 4 yr old son had serious allergic problems. The preaching there was heavenly healing and prosperity oriented. I remember seeing her going to pastor after pastor to have them lay their hands on her son in order to be healed. She was desperate. Now I understand when the kids suffer, we, as parents suffer too and we will do anything out of our desperation. But the thing here is, everyday she is hearing from the pulpit that "By His stripes you are healed" and if you are still sick, its either there is something wrong with you or you are not living in the 'deep' spiritual truth of healing accomplished by Jesus. In other words, each sermon put her under guilt that some how she can't earn the healing Jesus offered. Is that true?

Bino M. said...

Jul -

By the way, I am currently getting over the flu and money is extremely tight at the moment! And I am content.

That's exactly my point is...

Regardless of our circumstances, we can be TOTALLY content and in peace. It is the peace which transcends all human understanding.
Unbelievers can't understand it but we as believers can.

I do not see cross as a means for all my material needs. It's much much bigger than that to me. I don't even know how to put that into words. Does God provide all my needs? Absolutely! And I will say the same thing even if I am homeless. (BTW, I am so very grateful to God that I have a home)

I won't tell a homeless person that Jesus has a home for you if you believe, instead, I will tell him that Jesus has forgiven all your sins once and for all and now you can receive His LIFE and have an intimate relationship with the God of the universe. Once He has the LIFE of Jesus in Him, he probably won't even need a home (earthly home) because there something BIGGER happened in His heart and only he can know it but wouldn't necessarily be able to explain it.

RJW said...

Bino, you sneaky thing, you! :) LOL!!

Here are my questions to ponder: If "sin", our actions, our performance don't dictate to God whether or not we're holy and righteous, do our circumstances (material wealth, health, etc) dictate to Him the QUALITY of HIS LIFE in us?? Do they didtate to us our perception of the quality of His life within us? Do they dictate to us the quality of the life we live, period??

In essence, are we defined by our circumstances? Which is reality: what you experience or what God says? And from which are we going to live?

Circumstances change: Godlife remains. The difference is bios and zoe. And I put my confidence in zoe. :)

Still love you. :P

Bino M. said...

Jamie, I am in total agreement with you about the fact that "Godlife remains" regardless of our circumstances. In fact, that is exactly the point I am trying to make through these comments and the post. :)

So, no, our circumstances do not dictate the quality of his life in us. But the confusion I have though (may be we are getting closer here), are you saying when I am sick, I should live (or act) as if I am NOT sick, because of the reality that I am not sick? LOL I don't know if I am making any sense here.

Another aspect of this whole issue is the understanding of what exactly the "LIFE" of Christ means? What "life" did he give us?

I believe it was the 'life' which we didn't have. We had a physical life even before we met Christ, didn't we? So the life he gave us is "spiritual"? may be? the life "inside"? the "life" which was necessary to have a relationship with the Creator? the "life" which filled the emptiness in our hearts? the "life" which filled us with joy (instead of temporary happiness)? the "life" which made us into a NEW creation (in the spirit level)? the "life" which gave us a brand NEW heart?

While all those being absolutely true (that we have a new spirit and a new heart), we STILL have the old, aging, wrinkling body, UNTIL we get a perfect(glorified) one at some point later? May be we have to just deal with this temporary (imperfect) body until it returns to dust?

So can we come to an agreement that, regardless of the imperfections of our body and the world (or the circumstances) we live in, the spiritual reality is unchangeable and while living in this imperfect body with all its weaknesses, you and I can live out of "spiritual" realities?

RJW said...

>>>>> YES <<<<<

LOVE TO YOU.

theoldadam said...

Great post!

God does want us to have the desires of our hearts.

But He also desires that we stay within His will.

And then there are a couple of things called circumstance and effort.

We can't sit back and wait for things to fall into our lap and expect that God will just make it happen. But if we strive for something that can be attained we can attain it.

We are all made up differently as well.

So, all of these factors come into play.

But we can (as you pointed out)be content, because of Christ, whether we are poor or whether we are rich.

Thanks!

- Steve Martin San Clemente, CA

lionwoman said...

Thank you for saying this, Bino. I have had it up to my ears with the American Prosperity Gospel. It is a bunch of beans. This blog immediately makes me think of Darin Hufford's "Life on an Ass" sermon. I needed to hear both. Thanks for sharing.

Bino M. said...

Steve,

Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts! I think we are in agreement!

Amy (lionwoman),

Thanks!

Socoteanu said...

I'm late on this discussion....

Bino, Great Post. Very challenging and thought provoking. People's circumstances and situations are unrelated to the power and goodness of God.

A couple points from my experience. As an Oncologist, I see many people that are facing bad circumstances (death) and looking for hope in these situations.

For some reason everyone with Cancer thinks that they are going to be the exception. They think that they are going to be the miracle. Many sincere Christians believe that God will cure them. When I tell a patient that they have a 5% chance of a cure most of them think that they are going to be in the 5%. Unfortunately, I also have seen the other side of things. Hodgkin's lymphoma has a 80-90% cure rate with appropriate therapy. How many people really think that they are going to be in the 10% group that are not cured? The honest truth is that I see people that die of a disease that most people can be cured form. I have seen "strong Christians" that were in this situation. They had faith throughout that God would cure them and He did not. I have been to be the one that tells them that cancer has returned, treatment did not work, there were no other options, etc. Do circumstances make their faith less? Does this make the power of God less? Did God fail them? Absolutely not!! God is God. His plans are flawless. His will is perfect. His hand is always on us. This world is just a fraction of what our Creator has in store for us. Death is not the enemy. Suffereing is not the enemy. Circumstances are irrelevent. God is good and He will deliver His people!! He will bless His people! It just may not be in this life as we desire him to.

There is nothing wrong with hoping for and praying for miracles. I would be thrilled if all of the people I saw were to be cured of otherwise incurable disease. But the truth is that miracles are miracles for a reason. They are rare. They are unexplainable. They are from God.

If our faith is based on circumstances or prosperity, what happens when those fail us??

One true story to relate the point. I once saw a young christian man that had a surgically removable cancer (likely curable with that treatment). Both he and his family had faith that God would cure him. They were convinced that God would do this without surgery or medical treatment. Despite my best attempts they decided to not have treatment. They prayed alot. They saw several faith healers. They had sincere faith in God Almighty. I saw him 9 months later with widespread cancer. At that point he was incurable. He finally decided to undergo chemotherapy to try to prologue his life. He died a few months later. Could God have cured him? Yes! Why didn't He? Who really knows. He may have died despite the initial surgery, there is no real way to know at this point.

Despite all of this God is Good and He is capable of doing miracles. I'm just not sure why everyone assumes that they are going to be the ones that get one.

Bino M. said...

Socoteanu,

Thank you for joining this conversation! It's better be late than never :)

If our faith is based on circumstances or prosperity, what happens when those fail us??

By asking that question, you hit the nail on the head, brother!. I think your question summarizes the very purpose of my post.

And as you said, I too think there is nothing wrong with hoping for and praying for miracles. But the reality is, not all people are going to be healed! I wish all people are healthy and well all the time but that is not the case and I don't know the reasons.

But the thing is, God's grace enables us to live above our circumstances.

BTW, kudos to your profession, cancer being one of those deadly diseases today, you Oncologists do an excellent service to people who are suffering from is, giving them hope. Thank you!

Joel B. said...

"Death is not the enemy. Suffering is not the enemy. Circumstances are irrelevant."

Soco... wonderful words! I want that first sentence spoken or written in plain sight for everyone at my funeral! But I also want everyone to know it in the here and now!

Socoteanu said...

Bino,

Thanks for the kind words....

I love my job. There is nothing more humbling then being there to talk to someone and help them when they are facing death. Those that know that Jesus is life are able to make it through these tough time so much better. It's the ones that do not know this that are more challenging.

Phil said...

Hi Bino. I wrote some long musings the other day on this. Not sure about it,but here goes...

Phil said...

1. Redemption is for every thing that was lost through the fall-including health and provision. The work is done,in the eternal. 2. We are partakers of this redemption by faith, such that we have access to grace upon grace out of the fulness. 3. There is a ' now-not yet'bridging the present and consummate glory by our transformation from glory to glory. 4. God is not the author of evil or suffering,and if he permits it enter a believer's life,it's so,in his sovereignty,he can overrule it for our higher good. It's temporarily expedient in that sense. 5. God is not 'catching up'the devil with what he's doing,or catching up the brokenness in the world remaining. If we're believers, the devil is trying to pour cold water on what God's already doing. 6. Even if God allows something temporarily,it must have it's end sometime,whether in the now or the hereafter. The cross demands it. 7. Can we limit the flow of the blessings of our redemption by our lack of faith? Sure. God will make sure,even when we do,that he overrules that for our good. But just as we can quench the Spirit by falling away from grace-righteousness,and so squelch the flow of the blessings of peace,fruit that would come from that,we can fail to appropriate other blessings by our unbelief. 8. What's the nature of faith? It doesn't find its strength and worth in itself,but in the merits of its Object. So nobody should ever be unkindly led to disqualify themselves from anything laid up in Christ's redemption 'because they don't have enough faith'. If they can lay hold on it in Christ with a genuine faith, that's one thing. But faith can't be artificially worked up. 9. Because some are greedy,and are preaching a false prosperity,doesn't mean any prosperity element to the gospel is wrong and from the wrong place. There is a kind of sub-asceticism that's a reactionary,wrong response. I mean,God says our needs(not just bare needs,but out of his abundant overflowing heart to his children)are the lesser thing. And we have Christ,so how much more the smaller things?But there's an attitude that says 'I can trust Christ for Christ, but material things,that's too much!'Or 'my material things?that's far too unspiritual!' There's also an unbiblical tendency to divide up human life into 'spiritual'and 'secular'or 'spirit'and 'body'. Fact is,all of life is spiritual when we've entered into rest. 10. Anything that overshadows the crucial centre of the gospel of justification by faith alone,eternal forgiveness,imputed righteousness,no condemnation,new creations,is not the gospel. By the same token, the nature of the faith that appropriates ALL of God's blessings in Christ,where ALL the promises of God are yes and amen,is this faith,anyway. 11. The nature of the fallen heart is self-righteousness,self-sufficiency,self-glorification,concerning all of our humanity. The nature of the redeemed heart is God-righteousness,God-sufficiency,God-glorification of our persons in him,concerning all of our humanity as new creations. 12.To learn contentment in any circumstances doesn't necessarily mean no health/prosperity blessings of redemption in the here and now to be expected from a Father who loves his children,and has given them an inheritance that includes 'all things are yours'because 'the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof'. It means learning-not a Stoical resignation-but confidence in God's working all things together for good,in peace of heart. Paul and his fellows suffered much-not necessarily because they were not party to health/properity aspects of redemption in the here and now,but because they suffered lack on account of persecution for Christ's sake. And there was probably some expediency there,too. Yet they still were provided for and their needs met. Different members of the body with less obvious honour than Apostles,gifting-wise,were probably less persecuted, generally.14. Just because we're not under the Old covenant doesn't mean none of the material blessings have no 'now' in 'now-not yet'. Christ fulfilled that covenant-which surely included promises of blessing in line with what Adam had pre-Fall, but on condition of law-keeping. We are freed to righteousness in Christ, and qualify to the blessings as 'yes and amen'in him somehow,sometime. 14. To 'seek a country that is above' etc,does not mean that 'setting your mind on heavenly things' excludes the kingdom come now. It means view the now and the then in the light of God's eternal purpose and redemption in Christ. 15. Seeking earthly riches at the expense of heavenly ones will keep you out of the kingdom. Entering into a heavenly one does not mean there's no God-sufficient place for riches in the present. 16. Being a rich believer doesn't necessarily imply spiritual maturity.(It might mean God knows it's safe for you to be blessed this way. It might mean it's not safe for you to be poor!). Being a poor believer doesn't imply that,either. It does put you in position to help others financially.

Phil said...

Obviously,as well, faith issues in practicality,and God expects us to take advantage of natural means that he always uses for our good...so it's not of faith to refuse medical treatment,etc,as if that was a faithless option. The opposite is true when the heart trusts the God of the means,rather than the means itself...just considering the possibility in all this.

Bino M. said...

Phil - Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate it.

I admit that I had to go to the dictionary many times to check the meaning of many words you used. It's not your fault, so don't worry :)

But anyways, I will address few things:

I do not believe that God makes us sick or poor, though such things come under His sovereignty. It's like some people say God sends us to hell. I do not believe that. We go to hell by ourselves. We have a choice to opt His life and be alive to God, but if we do not choose life, we remain dead (spiritually), which is nothing but hell.

Talking about faith, to me faith is nothing but responding to God's love with a big 'Thank You' for what he has done for us (which we could never do by ourselves) and I agree with you that faith's strength is in it's object (Jesus).

. Because some are greedy,and are preaching a false prosperity,doesn't mean any prosperity element to the gospel is wrong and from the wrong place.

I couldn't agree more! I believe every blessing is from God. But I also believe that there is something called 'general grace'. Few examples are - the air we breath, rain, sunshine, vegetation etc are provided by God and those are available for unbelievers as well (which means those are not depended on our 'faith').

Now, when it comes to the blessing of the New LIFE (in Christ), it is received only by personal FAITH. It's available for anyone but we appropriate it through faith personally.

Christ fulfilled that covenant-which surely included promises of blessing in line with what Adam had pre-Fall

I do not believe that, through regeneration (being born again) our body is restored to the Pre-Fall condition. If it did, we shouldn't feel shame being naked. But that is simply not the case. Receiving the life of Christ renewed our very core (spiritual) being, not our bodies or our earthly surroundings.

Joe said...

Bino,

This topic is one that gets my blood going. I've heard these heresies (you don't have to accept illness, etc.) many times.

When it comes to the prosperity gospel, one thing that struck me in the last couple of weeks. I thought of the time that John sent his disciples to Jesus--as he rotted in Herod's dungeon--and asked if He was "the Expected One." Look at what Jesus said in response: "Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them." --Matthew 11:4-5.

All of these were scripture fulfillments of Christ's first coming. But as you can see in bold, Jesus did not say that the poor have become wealthy, it merely states that the poor have the gospel preached to them.

Jesus never promised us wealth. In fact, He cautioned against wealth as it could lead us to having to choose between two masters. No, He did not say it was wrong, but cautioned that it was easier for camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter heaven. How is it that Scripture has been twisted into the prosperity gospel?

Bino M. said...

Joe,

Jesus never promised us wealth. In fact, He cautioned against wealth as it could lead us to having to choose between two masters

Right on! I think the biggest perversion of Scripture in our generation is the 'health and wealth gospel'. It is absolutely ridiculous.

I know there are thousands of people live in disappointment and disillusionment because there were promised health and wealth by the preachers but didn't get any. Jesus came to give us LIFE(eternal spiritual life), peace and contentment which has nothing to do with material prosperity.

Apostle Paul, as he writes to Timothy, says those who use godliness for financial gain are 'men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth'.

Then he goes on and says, 'godliness with contentment is great gain' I have NEVER EVER seen a prosperity-gospel-believer contented! :)