Should we expect a reward from our giving, and what is its nature?

Following on from the discussion on tithing at https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/does-hebrews-promote-tithing , the discussion turned to the notion of a reward from God for tithing or financial giving to support ministry.

I asked Facelift :

<i>”What times do you think that giving to God has a reward? You say that reward shouldnt always be our motive, in what cases is it appropriate that it be our motive? You say we shouldnt always seek it out, but that implies there are times when we should seek it – when and how?”</i>

To which he responded with the following scriptures :

Galatians 6:5-6
‘Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.’

2 Cor.9:6-11
‘But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”

Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.’

“Discussing financial support, and clearly saying there is a return on what is sown, and that the return is dependent on the degree and manner in which it is sown, and that the supplier to the sower, and the giver of increase to the sower is God Himself.”

https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/does-hebrews-promote-tithing/#comment-7742

Muppet brought up the parable of the talents, and asked whether that was discussed in relation to reward.

The scriptures FL has given appear to be about giving to support ministry, and there is a concept of sowing and reaping.  What kind of reaping (reward) should we expect?  If we make a monetary gift, should we expect that we will receive a monetary reward?  Will we be blessed materially as a result of our gift?

Thanks to all for a great discussion so far, I will transfer the other comments.


149 thoughts on “Should we expect a reward from our giving, and what is its nature?

  1. Raving Evangelical said :
    aking a look at the passage in Matthew 25 it falls in the period after Jesus triumphal arrival in Jerusalem and just before being betrayed and crucified.

    He begins with a set of parables beginning from Chapter 21 regularly making reference to the kingdom of heaven i.e. ‘The kingdom of God is like…’

    In these last days he is clearly preoccupied with the understanding that his main mission is to bring people into God’s kingdom.

    Each parable given builds a picture of how God is calling people to him and our role in this.

    The parable of the talents is sandwiched between two stories. It is prefaced with the foolish and inattentive virgins who are shut out of the wedding banquet of the Lamb. It is then followed by the goats who gave no thought for the strangers that God places so much value on.

    In this context, the story of the talents suggest that God has invested us with resources (talents) to lead people to him (reward). God is particularly critical of those who hide them or take no interest in the lost people of this world.

  2. MJ said :

    we dont get a rewared (expecting something back) we just “give” there is no law, there is no contract. We give for the sake of giving, there is no law, love loving people is the law.

  3. MN said :

    You’ve seen me refer to this (Gen 4) before, but in the context of giving and rewards this sets the tone for everything else.

    Note the following when reading thru it:

    We don’t really know what it was about Cain’s offering that did not please God, but it can be inferred that both Cain and God knew that Cain’s offering was not “right”.

    The reward for doing right is being accepted or going well for us – in the here and now and also I would suggest in the eternal sense.

    Even when Cain has killed his brother God still in His mercy looks after Cain.

    Two key messages – do what’s right and it will go well with us and giving is part of that equation.

    If we don’t God will still look after us, but there are consequences.

    That is as far as I want to push it.

    “Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.

    So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? (the New Living T has this as “You will be accepted if you do what is right.”)

    “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

    Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
    “I don’t know,” he replied.
    “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

    The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

    Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”

    But the LORD said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

    Raving Evangelical Says:

    January 10, 2010 at 11:44 pm
    Perhaps these two passages are of help. Note that in both passages the true blessing is one of justification and sanctification so that we may enter the Kingdom of God. There is no promise of an ‘easy life’ or worldly reward. In fact Paul makes it clear that suffering, persecution and death will lie in wait for us – but we need not fear because we already have everything in Christ. All things (good or bad) in this world are of no consequence in comparison to the riches of heaven.

    “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

    What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
    “For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Romans 8:38-39

    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

    In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

    Ephesian 1:3-14

  4. I think love has its own reward. Our relationships blossom. If we love our children then they become loving adults. I do think God blesses us through people, i had a blessing the other day, out of the blue, it was like God knew what i needed. It was uncanny.

  5. My personal experience has been that if you live correctly in relationship with God their are numerous rewards for this. Conversely if you don’t, there are also “rewards”. One leads to life the other to death.

    Giving is just one aspect of living in relationship with God. We are being conformed into His likeness – the outworking of this has many implications one of which is our generosity with material possessions.

    This is one area that we find freedom in, as we grow in Christ and as we become more free in this other rewards result – ie more abundant life.

    We give, not because God needs it, but because who he is making us into and the freedom we feel because of it. It does require choices, and as we continue to make the correct choices we reap the rewards??????

  6. You have to establish if it is in the nature of God to reward his people for obedience. Clearly he does.

    Then you need to establish whether he rewards his people by material blessing as well as spiritual blessing.

    Hebrews 11:6
    But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

    So two things which demonstrate faith towards God. One, we believe that he is; he exists, and he is God. Two, we believe that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

    Rewarder: ‘misthapodotes’, one who gives wages; from ‘misthoo’: to let out for hire, and ‘apodidomi’; to pay, or pay off, deliver, discharge what is due.

    So clearly we need to believe that God indeed exists, and that he rewards those who seek him.

    Are these spiritual rewards alone? Does he only reward us in the future, in the afterlife, in eternity, or does he begin the reward system here on earth and include caring for us physically, emotionally and spiritually?

    On the one hand he has promised that our reward is reserved for us in heaven, and that we will enter an inheritance through trials and tests in this earth, including a fiery test in which we’ll be melted in the crucible where our very faith is tried. (1 Peter 1)

    On the other hand he promises that we have already been given all things that pertain to life and godliness:

    2 Peter 1:2-4
    Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

    ‘All things which pertain to life’ must include at least basic needs. But there will be times of extreme persecution, suffering and deprivation for the gospel’s sake, which tells me that to go through this kind of suffering I should be engaged in preaching the gospel. I don’t see that living an ordinary life without witnessing qualifies me for either persecution or deliverance from suffering for the gospel’s sake, although, in some nations, merely being a Christian would qualify me for this. However I live in Australia where being a Christian is not considered worthy of persecution, yet.

    So, does God reward people by material means in the present, as well as spiritually in the future? Do we have evidence that God rewards people materially for obedience?

  7. Hmmm – this is an enormous discussion, with so many potential tangents.

    I think the issue of reward for obedience is something we could look at in another thread, because this thread is focussed on reward for the giving of material possessions, the most common being money. Obedience can be all kinds of things, from our attitude in our circumstances, to forgiveness of others, to not coveting, and of course to giving in the manner that God leads us. It is well worth a thread of its own.

    I hope its possible to discuss reward in relation to financial giving, because this is a topic pursued in churches when they take up offerings of all kinds. I probably cannot remember a week passing in church when there was not some reference to God rewarding us in some fashion for giving money into the offering.

    – Can we earn a reward from God?
    – Can we expect a reward from God for giving money?
    – Can we be confident in the kind of reward we will receive on this earth?

    – Do ‘talents’ in the parable refer to money, or to giftings, or to both (RE answered this one already, but do others agree?)

    If God rewards us when we give money, does he also withhold reward (blessing) when we don’t give money?

  8. My opinion:

    “Can we earn a reward from God?” – No
    “Can we expect a reward from God for giving money?” – No
    “Can we be confident in the kind of reward we will receive on this earth?” – Specifically – No

    An even bigger topic would be how God rewards – directly or through His Creation and our engagement with the “All Things” He’s extablished. Do our actions affect the “Heavenlies” and our material lives?

    So I’ll just stick with my first paragraph.

  9. It would seem that in the context of human transactions that service-reward is an accepted part of daily life. In Deuteronomy and Leviticus God sets the framework by which this occurs. There are various references prohibiting fraud, robbery and extortion. Being fair or just to your neighbour is a minimum pre-requisite. Jesus is quoted as saying ‘render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s”. Nor can we abrogate on our societal obligations. Though we are not limited to this for even the OT also exhorts us to be generous towards others.

    When Jesus delivers his sermon the Mount, he goes far beyond the requirements of the Mosaic law. He speaks of sacrifice and ‘turning the other cheek’. But the message is not one of martyrdom for martyrdom’s sake. He concludes with ‘”You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.

    God is asking us to set aside our rights and rewards if it will reap the far greater reward of bringing ourselves and his people into the kingdom.

  10. RP asked:

    “Do ‘talents’ in the parable refer to money, or to giftings, or to both (RE answered this one already, but do others agree?)”

    Since in Him we live and move and have our being…

    So let’s assume I am a Christian born into a loving family in a first world country. I am noted to be of above average intelligence, received a careful education and now engaged in a lucrative profession.

    To who do I owe these ‘blessings’ to? Can I be proud of the rewards I receive? Does my material wealth reflect God’s approval? What do I do now that I am in this position? By which measure can I be assured that I am in God’s favour? What will be my likely stumbling blocks?

  11. It is clear that God rewards us for seeking Him. By seeking Him, we come to know Him. Our first reward, the most important, is our relationship with Him. Without this, anything else material is worthless.

    When we know Him, and are in relationship with Him through Christ, we are his children. As well as Heb 11:6, quoted by FL above, we have Jesus words, in Matthew 6:

    31″Do not (AO)worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’

    32″For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for (AP)your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

    33″But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and (AQ)all these things will be added to you.

    This is our first material reward and it is the result of us being able to call Him ‘Father’. By faith, he becomes our Father and provides for us as such. The first spiritual reward is the relationship with him.

    Going back to Cain and Able, its notable how much God loves Cain, and Cain loves God to some degree – but doesn’t understand how he is loved. Cain is jealous of Abel’s relationship with God, and kills Abel as a result, maybe so that he can have God’s love, with Abel gone. But God already loved Cain, and would have accepted his sacrifice if it had been offered rightly (maybe Abel gave of his best – his first fruits – and Cain did not give of his best – an attitude issue though rather than a legal issue).

    God did not punish Cain for his offering, rather he encouraged Cain to do what was right next time. (The implication is that Cain did understand what was right.) At this point, God did not remove from Cain the ability to work the ground successfully. He warned Cain of the sin that was crouching at his door, no doubt due to Cain’s attitude of heart. Cain’s heart refused to listen – he let the sin in and murdered his brother.

    Yet even after that God still provides for Cain – even though Cain becomes a nomad and suffers discipline from the Lord, the Lord marks him so that he cannot be killed. But its notable that not only did Cain express his pain about his material punishment, but about his relational one – “My punishment is too great to bear!…and from your face I will be hidden…”

    So here I see a pattern not of God rewarding us for our offerings, but of God responding to our heart relationship to Him. Our heart relationship is evidenced by our behaviour – Cain’s offering may have been less than of his best, and his heart was revealed further by his murder of his brother. He then lost not only the proximity of his relationship to God, but the physical ease of his sustenance.

    In this case though, the reward and punishment was related to the heart. The actions are what revealed the heart in a way we could see it. God could see it already, and did warn Cain of the direction he was heading in. God clearly still loved Cain, but Cain was unable to love God enough.

    Today, I believe our reward is still tied to our relationship with God, and that reward does undoubtedly include His provision for us. Sometimes that provision is through our work being fruitful, just as God has blessed the work of those faithful to him in the past. We are designed to work and to receive the material reward of our labour (or someone elses), rather than receive a flow of magical blessing out of the blue. Still, it is seeking God and having the right heart that results in the relationship in which we are then rewarded, in a variety of ways suited to our circumstances and where God would have us in life.

    If our heart is right we will give and share as a natural consequence; when our heart is right, we just love God back – we know we don’t need to earn his love or his reward! Giving is an outcome of our heart, not a means to earn any kind of blessing. But we will still see God’s blessing. And it will include the material. The material may include God moving circumstances in our favour to provide work; or when we are generous to others in our times of plenty, we may find we receive in times of lack. We may give up our house due to persecution in His Name, but will be welcomed into the house of other believers for the sake of that same Name. We may give when aid is needed; we may receive when disaster challenges us.

    Look at the prodigal son – he received half his material inheritance just by asking, wasted it, and was received back because his father loved him. The older son worked hard, but didn’t even realise his father’s love – he didn’t have to earn it to receive his inheritance – it was already his, by grace, due to love.

    Anyway, that’s a summary of what I see scripture saying. I could go on, but will leave it here for now.

  12. RE – such good issues to raise. I’m going to take a step back and see where others take this for a bit. But some of those would make good new posts.

  13. “Can I be proud of the rewards I receive?” – RE

    Clearly we are not to be proud.

    1 Cor 1:7
    ” 7For who regards you as superior? (M)What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? ”

    2 Cor 10
    17But (AG)HE WHO BOASTS IS TO BOAST IN THE LORD.

    18For it is not he who (AH)commends himself that is approved, but he (AI)whom the Lord commends.

  14. A simple comment – God is not mean or stingy – things are not witheld from us, but I agree with the focus of RE’s very last comment above.

    Sometimes we don’t get what we want and other times we do.

    To me it is about faithfully serving (which I don’t manage very well), and God will take care of the rest.

    If I approach it any other way I am in major trouble.

    RP said this a huge topic – I agree and think in that sense it is actually mistake to chase to many of the rabbits down the holes, because this only serves to overcomplex things.

    A couple of contrasting passages that put the concept of reward – the first from Mt 10:

    Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

    “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

    “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

    “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

    “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”

    And the second passage is Mt 6″

    “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

    “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

    “This, then, is how you should pray: ” ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

    “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

    “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

    “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

    “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

    I would have to say in finishing this post that the temporal focus or risk/reward and reward in the context of giving is a very fallen human one.

    As God said at the outset, “Do what is right and will it not go well with you.”

  15. From our sermon yesterday…

    THe prodigal son’s focus was on what he could have today – his earthly inheritance.

    He took it, trashed it and was brought down low.

    He returned to his father to become a servant.

    But his father put a ring on his finger, killed the fattened calf and prepared a feast in his son’s honour – scuse the capitals – BECAUSE OF WHO HE WAS!

    Everything we have and everything we are is about who we are – what our identity is in Christ.

    Apart from that we have nothing and any concept of reward it totally meaningless.

  16. Agreed.

    Shows the folly of focussing on giving as a means to earn reward, rather than focussing on growing in our relationship with our Father.

  17. Yes, the focus should always be getting to know God, his character, then you can go from there but you can’t use God as a santa claus type figure. God wants us to be balanced. And the greatest commandment, is Love thy Neighbour. That means love others – family, friends then community, in that order. Bringing up your children properly i believe the biggest job and most important.

  18. MJ:

    “you can’t use God as a santa claus type figure.”

    People still want to believe in Santa Claus and then try to find him in the Bible.

  19. In the same way the Jews were looking for a particular type of Messiah but couldn’t find him in Jesus.

  20. The original application in this post of giving to those who teach us in the Word clearly carries a benefit for both those who minister the gsple, ansd those who support them in this enterprise. As pointed out in mn’s comments we also get to share in the prophet’s reward.

    Now, whilst Paul took the personal decision jot to receive offerings from those he ministered to, but rather to supply to his own needs, this was a personal choice, ad he made it clear that those who minister the gospel should live of the gospel if they so chose.

    1 Corinthians:1-14
    ‘Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. My defense to those who examine me is this:

    ‘Do we have no right to eat and drink?

    ‘Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?

    ‘Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?

    ‘Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.

    ‘If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.

    ‘Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.’

    It’s interesting that Paul appeals to the Law here, in introducing the precept that the levitical priesthood lived off what he called the gospel, which, in fact, is a reference in the NT to the tithe being paid to support the ministry of the priesthood under Moses. So: ‘Those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel’, and this statement being a commandment from the Lord.

    Now he goes on to say that he doesn’t ask for anything form anyone, because he does not preach the gospel for wages, but by compulsion, which is fair comment, and a worthy way of approaching his vocation, although he clearly doesn’t lay this on every minister, so it should be said that this was his choice, and a noble one at that. It should also be noted that there wasn’t committee making the choice for him, or challenging his devotion or morality for receiving food on his table from the gospel had he chosen this route.

    He was also saying that it is right and proper for those who minister the Word to live off the Word, and that those who received from their ministry should ‘communicate’ or partner, share in their ministry by providing to their needs through giving.

    Galatians 6:5-6 adds to this by making the giving into the ministry of those who preach and teach the Word an act of sowing, and, therefore, of reaping from that which is sown. Sowing must always be synonymous with reaping, or it is purely giving without expectation of harvest.

    ‘Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.’

    In other words, God highly rates those those who care for the ministry enough to support it.

  21. I don’t think anyone here has disputed that we should support the ministry. ty likewise to _not_ support ministries that we think are off.

    I thought the question was general – are we rewarded for giving? Giving could be to support full-time ministers, or to our brothers and sisters in need, or to support evangelism or compassionate aid beyond the Christian community.

    Is there any distinction between these in terms of God rewarding them (I thought not)?

    Is there a reason to narrow the discussion to reward for giving to ministers only, particularly via the tithe which most of us here don’t see as a command?

    So for example, I myself do not currently give to the support of a local church ministry, since I don’t attend one and am not connected currently in other ways. (In the past we have supported ministries whose congregations wouldn’t have the funds to do so, and of course we haven’t been in those congregations. Not currently though.) I give to other things at the moment as I feel led. Of course I don’t do it for reward. To me, that is truly irrelevant. However, in the context of this discussion, should people like myself be directing our giving to the support of teachers at a local church, or will we not have any ‘reward’? I’m sorry – I just don’t understand why the examples you give are narrowed to that one thing, which we have no issue with anyway.

  22. The missing piece:

    I don’t think anyone here has disputed that we should support the ministry. Sometimes I think we have a good stewards duty likewise to _not_ support ministries that we think are off.

  23. Its about priorities. Your family or children need your love and support and this takes money, effort, planning, saving, spending. then comes to community or charity. in Timothy, i think, it says “if one doesnt provide for one’s own family, they are worse than an unbeliever.” That scripture was pointed out years ago, by a wise Christian. I find it simple and works well, also it shows others your good lifestyle and example as a Christian.

  24. RP, it was the essence of the post.

    I was asked to give examples of sowing and reaping financially. I gave two. Muppet gave another, which certainly points to God increasing the ministry base of those who work towards increasing what he gives them to begin with.

    I can’t answer your question on whether you should be giving to a teaching ministry. Who are you recieving teaching from? Most believers are part of a local church, where they are being taught, pastored, cared for, nurtured and directed in God’s purposes. They would, then, be in partnership with those who have the spiritual care of them.

    I think everyone can see that Paul is saying that we should contribute towards the support of those who teach us. That is very clear, and incontrovertible. Whether they receive it or not is entirely up to them. Paul chose not to. Others will choose to accept the financial assistance as a partnership with them in ministry. The clear command from God, though, is that those who minister the gospel should live of the gospel, and it is those who are taught of the gospel who support those who teach the gospel.

    Further, I am suggesting, from scripture, that God considers this an act of sowing, which means there must be a reaping, since sowing is more than giving with no expectation. No farmer sows a crop with no expectation of harvest. On the contrary, he ensures that everything is done according to a plan; purposed, if you like. He prepares the ground, waits for the rains, sows, tends, nurtures, and expects. Then, in due season, provided he does not faint, ad stays patient, he will reap.

    God gives the increase, but we have to allow him to increase something by sowing a portion of the very seed he gives us, and we need to sow it according to his purposes and plans.

  25. As I said – I am not disputing that point (that we support those who teach us), and nor is anyone else. However, I’ll move on to sowing and reaping.

    But since I’m going out now, I’ll just share one of my favourite scriptures from Ecclesiastes:

    1(A)Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you (B)will find it after many days.

    2(C)Divide your portion to seven, or even to eight, for you do not know what (D)misfortune may occur on the earth.

    3If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.

    4He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.

    5Just as you do not (E)know the path of the wind and (F)how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not (G)know the activity of God who makes all things.

    6Sow your seed (H)in the morning and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.

  26. The passages on providing a stipend for full-time preachers appear to be separate to that of ‘reward’ for anyone who minister God’s word.

    There is no prohibition to ministry staff to obtain a fair pay for their work. The only caveats are found here:

    Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.

    2 Corinthians 2:17

    If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
    But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

    1 Timothy 6:3-10

    “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

    1 Phillipians 1:15-18

  27. And the internet has helped network and educate on the Gospel. Just like when the bible was available to all, now with the information at nearly everyones fingertips, they can access it freely and have it paraphrased.

  28. The day we allow the internet become a surrogate shepherd is the day we walk away from God’s purpose for the Church. It’s a useful tool, but no more than a study book, or an epistle. Paul sent epistles to the Churches, not as a substitute for leadership, but as an enhancement to ministry. Google ‘gospel’ and see how many different ideas come up!

  29. Trouble is, that when so many churches spend so much of their time labouring the point regarding giving, they really do then appear to be peddling the Word for profit.

    One of their mantras (and it is used like one), is that by giving to them, you will receive back some kind of multiple, in the tangible, monetary sense. They teach people to give, with the expectation they will receive multi-fold in kind. Phil Pringle has even said on a youtube thing that if you don’t see your return yet, then keep giving and keep waiting because you will, even if it takes twenty years.

    So, back on topic. Can they legitimately teach this?

  30. No I don’t think so RP.

    I asked FL to explain his recent thoughts re sowing and reaping or seed and harvest in the previous thread, but I think he missed that.

    I’m not sure you can work out what reward is outside of having some sort of sensible and coherent view on that.

    At the moment I think FL is confusing a fair days work for a fair days pay for ministers, pastors etc – which I don’t anyone here would object to, and moreover would absolutely support – with ‘reward’.

    I suppose the other question here is are there multiple concepts of reward that we are speaking about and getting entangled in without being clear.

  31. Although I just scanned thru again and FL’s post at 1005am summarises I suppose one of the key issues with this question:

    “So, does God reward people by material means in the present, as well as spiritually in the future? Do we have evidence that God rewards people materially for obedience?”

    I guess the may the starting point is in God’s kingdom what is ‘reward’?

    Opening up a bigger can of worms here (reluctantly) does this relate to…eek…prosperity’?

  32. I think its healthy too when a minister has a job in the world too, not saying they should be overworked of course, but it helps if one has a foot in the real world too, especially when counselling others

  33. Depends how much time they have.

    F/T ministers often work triple shifts, which doesn’t go to well with another employer.

  34. This whole thing about reward comes back to why am I a Christian?

    For myself it is certainly not for material blessing or gain.

    If God chooses to bless in this way – won’t knock it back – well and good, but if not fine.

  35. I don’t think God is straight forward enough to reduce to formulas. So personally, I don’t think if I give $1 I can expect Him to give me $100.

    How God works with one person is not always how He works with the next. Its the end result that matters not the process.

    I have read a great book years ago about the man who was largely responsible for pioneering large mining equipment – “Mover of men and mountains”. He was quoted as saying that “the more (money) he shovels out, the more God shovels in. The only problem being that God has a bigger shovel.”

    Obedience I think is a key. He was being obedient and God was rewarding his stewardship. Am I being obedient by deciding to give the way that he did though?

    His testimony has blessed and I presume saved others. I think he is an example of someone who sowed and reaped a harvest.

  36. in my opinion any giving (materially or otherwise) loses it’s spiritual credibility when it’s done with an ulterior motive like “I do my part of the contract and then God will do his part of the contract” (…he must do so, hasn’t he promised it?).
    I have stumbled several times recently upon that scripture in Galatians 6,6 and I must say it seems one that some people tend to use for whatever purpose or meaning they like.
    One used this scripture to point out that God judges people according to the amount of sin (the sowing part) and deals them a different judgement (the reaping part) according to the sum worked out. Someone else uses it to say if I sow material giving I shall reap material blessings.

    In my opinion all this (and many more unmentioned opinions about this verse) is a kind of contract or bargain view and that is not what the Gospel teaches.
    If we are honest we should acknowledge that we cannot give God anything what not already is His. And that all what we may do or give as Christians is spiritually God working in us and thereby transforming us, while practically it is also us doing something.
    Therefore there is no asset we can provide for the contract or bargain.

    Scripture tells us this seemingly paradoxical view:
    “Wherefore, my beloved, […], work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Phil. 2,12+13

    I have no doubt about rewards, but I do neither expect the kind of them, nor the time or place when I may reap them. And above all I do not think of any kind of relation (like in database relations) between a particular thing sowed and a particular thing reaped (such thoughts come up sometimes, it’s probably just human to think in such ways).

  37. Philippians 4:10-19
    ‘I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.

    ‘Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.

    ‘Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.

    ‘Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’

    In supplying to the need of their minister, fruit abounds to the account of those who provide support.

    I don’t see how God, who set up seedtime and harvest, has any problem with us having an attitude of purposing for increase, where our motive to help supply to the need of mission and of the saints. Our supply of the needs of the saints causes great thanksgiving.

    2 Corinthians 9:10-15
    ‘Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.

    ‘For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.

    ‘Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!’

  38. FL said:

    “I don’t see how God, who set up seedtime and harvest, has any problem with us having an attitude of purposing for increase, where our motive to help supply to the need of mission and of the saints. Our supply of the needs of the saints causes great thanksgiving.”

    Neither do I. This statement is not mutually exclusive to being content in all things. The problem is when we claim that God’s material blessings and rewards are in direct proportion to our faithfulness or sacrifice. There is also a difference between a minister reminding us of our obligations and putting a figure on it.

  39. In these verses,

    1. The Philippians cared for Paul; their love for God was shown through their action in giving to supply his needs. Their actions displayed their heart; their willing hearts made their sacrifice acceptable to God, a sweet smelling aroma.

    2. Their purpose and motivation, springing from their love for God and their brother, was to supply Paul’s need.

    3. In response to this, Paul assured them that this was highly pleasing to God, and that God would certainly supply all their needs. Paul didn’t say this to motivate them to give, but after his receipt of the gift.

    Again, I don’t see the Philippians giving to Paul with the purpose of increase for themselves. Their motivation was pure, out of love for God and others. As a Father well pleased with his children, God would reward the Philippians, and even give them increase for further liberality, but this result was not their purpose in giving. In the same way, when we give, we don’t do it to get. We give out of love; we already trust that God will provide for our needs as this has been promised; he may bless us more, but that is not our motivation. I don’t think it pleases God to have that as a motivation; He is concerned with our hearts, and has been since the beginning – even back to Cain and Abel.

  40. “…has any problem with us having an attitude of purposing for increase, where our motive to help supply to the need of mission and of the saints.” – FL

    That motive is fine. But its still not an automatic ticket to financial gain even for that purpose. Also, the preaching I have heard emphasises ‘financial blessing’ that assists our financial goals in life and answered prayer. Alongside that goes helping the saints, but its not pure. It still became taught as giving to get – and people were told that if they did not give, they would not get, or that if they gave, God would hear their prayer, or grant the desire of their heart. Mixing the signals.

  41. I previously said:

    “The problem is when we claim that God’s material blessings and rewards are in direct proportion to our faithfulness or sacrifice. ”

    I should elaborate on this. In a pre-fall world and in perfect relationship with God our rewards would have been in proportional to our efforts. Work would have been joyful and rewarding, not painful and toilsome. So too would be our obedience and our life under God.

    Now that sin has entered the world, God’s creation has been subject to frustration. Our sin and other’s sin contaminate everything we do. The wicked prosper, the righteous perish and saints are martyred.

    Although we seek justice in this world we in fact cannot do anything to reverse this order. God has indeed cursed it. The old heaven and earth must first pass away before things are to be made anew. Only the supernatural intervention of God will achieve this. It is this promise that we need to put our hope in.

  42. Actually, since its not a mathematical equation, and whether or not we have increase (to give more to the saints) is completely in God’s hands, I still don’t think we are to have that purpose when we give. I think our purpose is _only_ to be love – for God and one another – expressed in this example by giving to support a minister. There is nothing wrong with praying for more in order to give more to the saints; nothing at all. But I don’t think we give in order to make that happen; we give purely out of love. Rather, we then pray for further increase for that purpose, as Paul did for the Philippians.

  43. “…Work would have been joyful and rewarding, not painful and toilsome.” – RE

    And yet, even in this, God is working for good, particularly when we invite Him in. Work of all kinds becomes part of the process by which we are shaped over time to bear the fruit of the Spirit.

  44. The principle of reward is, either you get your reward here or you get it in Heaven.

    We are told to store up treasure in Heaven. Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.

    Everything I have already belongs to God. He gave it, and I can’t take it with me. Therefore, I am merely a steward of God’s mercies to me.

    I don’t deserve any of it.

    Shalom

  45. Philipians 3: “17Join with others in FOLLOWING MY EXAMPLE, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven.”

    Philipians 4
    15Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of GIVING AND RECEIVING, except you only; 16for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.”

    1 Corinthians 9:11
    “11If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?”

    The giving and receiving Paul speaks of is this exchange. They receive spiritually, they give to his material needs. He gives them spiritual things, he receives materially from them.

    “17Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.”

    In other words, he looks to save souls, to continue mission, a mission that they share in through their gifts to him and will be accounted to them.

    Christians in the NT gave of compassion, sympathy and for the Gospels sake. They are the motives, never their own material gain.

    2 Corinthians 8
    “1And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.”

    “7But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us[a]—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”

    Who ever called giving money for the purpose of receiving more a “grace”? Who ever called it generous to give for the purpose of a material reward? That’s called a self enriching investment! If I give money to a stock broker he doesn’t call me generous or describe it as a grace!

    Funny thing is there are lots of struggling people who are incredibly generous, a bit like the Macedonians, who obviously where getting something wrong. When Paul says the Macedonians gave generously out of their deep poverty maybe he forgot to mention that they were giving for the wrong reasons. They gave because of love as an act of grace and for the gospel when they should have been planting the seeds of their own enrichment! Silly Macedonians. Not that bright perhaps. Berea was in the province of Macedonia. You’d think they would have studied these things out, searching the scriptures to work out how to rid themselves of the poverty mentality!

    2 Corinthians 8
    12For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

    13Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”

    And there is the point of the Corinthian gift.

    Acts 11
    28One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

    I’m sure they didn’t have their own benefit in mind but with a pure heart and mind they gave to the needs of others. That’s how it works, not on the basis of a selfish act but a selfless one. Thank God if he helps us with our needs but that’s not why we give.

  46. Bull,
    ‘The principle of reward is, either you get your reward here or you get it in Heaven.’

    So if I’m rewarded here in some way, I’m excluded from heaven?

    If I’m a farmer, sowing a crop, which I then decide I will give a portion to the gospel to support a minister and missions, I will give a portion to keep my family, to feed them, clothe them and educate them, and I will sow a portion back into the fields for the next season, can I expect that the portion given to my family will cause them to be blessed, an that my children will reward me with grandchildren and great grandchildren, that the portion sown to the kingdom will be blessed by God as treasure stored in heaven, and the portion sown to the next season will be blessed with a crop in the next season, more seed to sow the following year in the same manner?

    Is my sowing to the gospel and the kingdom then sowing to a future reward, stored up in heaven as I support the gospel?

    Is this then nullified because I have sown to my family on earth, and to their needs? Is it again nullified because I have also sown to the coming season?

  47. My understanding of all things to do with the kingdom is that if you’re a good steward of what God gives you, and you’re faithful in little he will trust and allow you to be faithful in much. If someone is unfaithful with little, even that little will be given to the person who is faithful with much. It actually grows incrementally.

    It’s about faithfulness, integrity and good stewardship.

    I see several scriptures crop up here, which talk about poor stewardship, and wrong motives, which all have their place, and are worth being reminded of, but I think we should begin looking at this from a perspective of good stewardship and right motives. Then we’ll see what the potential is.

  48. FL said:

    “So if I’m rewarded here in some way, I’m excluded from heaven?”

    “Is this then nullified because I have sown to my family on earth, and to their needs? Is it again nullified because I have also sown to the coming season?”

    I don’t think Bull is saying this at all. You have many obligations before God – being a good steward of this world, supporting your family, aiding the ministry. These are all good things. You may reap a good harvest but also may face drought and pestilence. You may be rewarded with many descendants or your children may be barren. Your preaching may lead many to God or they may fall on deaf ears and never bear fruit. Some of these things may of your own doing, many things will not.

    All of this is the consequence of a fallen world. You are only called to be faithful regardless of outcome and that is your measure. It is easy to be thankful and remain loyal when things are doing well, but we are also called to be obedient when they are not.

  49. FL said:

    “My understanding of all things to do with the kingdom is that if you’re a good steward of what God gives you, and you’re faithful in little he will trust and allow you to be faithful in much.”

    But the question is what is this ‘little’ and ‘much’ that he is speaking about. Is it primarily about material investments or about gospel opportunities?

  50. To a certain extent I think things are getting mixed up again.

    Sometimes I think we ascribe too much to God and/or different things.

    Don’t get me wrong I think He is in charge.

    But I also believe He leaves to us to our devices as stewards – refer parable of talents – to test and develop us.

    You may have be in a drought on eyar , but you can also be a good farmer and generally get good crops. Is that reward from God? Not necessarily. The question then becomes what do we do with that harvest?

    I think we’re spilling over to providence and other things here.

  51. It is holistic. God is interested in the welfare of the whole person. Why do we have to constantly break things down into spiritual, sensual and physical.

    Why make it primarily either or? Are you able to accurately distinguish between your body, soul and spirit? I know the Word of God can, but what about you?

    We’re not only spiritual beings. Our spirit is alive when we are born again, but we still exist in a body, and we still have emotions, senses, a will, imagination, a mind. Why would God then separate reward into spiritual blessing only? Especially knowing we exist in a fallen world.

    It’s being fatalistic to say that we may be blessed or we may not depending on circumstances. I think that tends towards doubt and not faith.

    I understand there are negative things which will happen to all of whether we are blessed most of the time or not. Contentment is of the greatest gain, but in terms of supporting the ministry of the gospel, we can expect there will also be times when we abound.

    So tell me, the sentiment is that when we abound it is in the spirit, but when we are abased it is in material sense. How can this be? Are abased and abounding spiritually also, or is tis in terms of having our natural, physical and emotional needs met also? And what does it mean to be abased spiritually?

  52. FL said:

    “God is interested in the welfare of the whole person. Why do we have to constantly break things down into spiritual, sensual and physical.”

    Absolutely. But the interrelationship has become disjointed as a result of the Fall. All these things will be reconciled again in the New Heaven and Earth. Until the only thing we can count on with any certainty is our place in it through Christ.

  53. “It’s being fatalistic to say that we may be blessed or we may not depending on circumstances. I think that tends towards doubt and not faith.” – FL

    That’s an interesting comment. I disagree. I think it tends towards faith to give with no expectation, knowing that whatever our circumstances, God will provide.

    Some people are in a position where they don’t know how God will provide for them tomorrow, but He does. They live this way, in faith. It may be only for a season.

    Once I asked God what I should pay for – my food or my rent. I paid my rent, and prayed that he would somehow provide the rest. The same day, my friend contacted me to offer me a loan to tide me over – she had no idea of my circumstances but had been praying when she felt an unction. I did nothing to earn that provision. I was just cheerfully in relationship with God, and I asked Him for help, as the Bible says to.

    I think prayer is the key. And who can sit down and pray for riches? It would just feel wrong. Just as it is abhorrent to me to give with the motivation of God then blessing me – God is not some machine where you put something in and get something out. He is a person whom we love. Our relationship is with a parent, not a poker machine.

  54. FL said circumstances blessed or not may tend towards doubt and not faith. Could you elaborate. probably a different issue but that says to me that having doubt causes…..

  55. thats funny, RP, i just posted about the same FL sentence, almost at the same time as you…I was hoping he would explain that statement. I found alot of emphasis on “faith” at my last church. ie: people not having enough…

  56. FL said:

    “It’s being fatalistic to say that we may be blessed or we may not depending on circumstances. I think that tends towards doubt and not faith.”

    This is the true test of faith when what our Sprit knows is different from what the eye sees. This is the reassurance that Paul writes about to the Roman Church. Our present suffering is nothing compared to the future glory. Although our world is subject to frustration, the kingdom come will be made in perfection. Despite groaning inwardly we wait eagerly. Though we may face nakedness, persecution and sword Christ remains our focus and he leads us into glory.

    If we lived in a perfect world, in perfect relationship with God and all our good deeds were rewarded, then why would we hope for in a Christ that saves and patiently wait for him to herald the arrival of a new heaven and earth.

    ” “Immediately after the distress of those days
    ” ‘the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
    the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

    “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

    “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

    Matthew 24:29-35

  57. And I think its only human to doubt sometimes. Or when we are a new Christian, it can take time and experience to learn to wait on God, or be patient for an outcome. You learn to have faith through the good and the bad, but that doesn’t mean we don’t worry, fret and wonder when things will change. Thats just being a normal human being

  58. If we believe that God will only look after us financially because we faithfully give money, then our faith is very limited. If we believe that God will look after us because He is our Father, and that we can’t earn his blessing, but in fact we already have it, then our faith is strong, because it does not depend on our own work in any sense. Yet the result will still be that we give, because it is an expression of our genuine faith – the knowledge that God will provide enough, whatever our circumstances. This does not negate God providing an abundance for those whom he knows will steward it well, but that coming into that abundance is not what motivates those people to give in the first place. What motivates them, as in the case of the Philippians, is love.

  59. “If we believe that God will only look after us financially because we faithfully give money, then our faith is very limited. ” – RP

    Further, to have this kind of limited faith makes us vulnerable to coercion.

  60. There are also many examples of people who are rich and give/gave little. It may not be stripped away until they die. All of this is meaningless and a person’s faithfulness cannot be measured by others in this life according to this measure. We are told not to discriminate between people on the basis of wealth, as God does not discriminate between us in this fashion.

  61. I was wondering if this discussion would be happening in African church or is it only a luxury we in the West can enjoy? Where are the ‘rich’ Christians?

  62. “It’s being fatalistic to say that we may be blessed or we may not depending on circumstances. I think that tends towards doubt and not faith.”

    Is God driven or moved by circumstances?

    Does anyone here not consider themselves blessed by God?

    Did Paul consider himself a blessed man when he was imprisoned for his faith?

    It is fatalistic to say we can do nothing about our circumstances. It is saying the Hand of God cannot be moved.

    Faith clearly has a part to play in our lifestyle. It may be human to doubt, but it is not desirable. We all doubt. That’s why Jesus says, as with Jairus, ‘Do not fear, only believe’.

    None of us is a faith giant. Even the ‘heroes of faith’ in Hebrews 11 had doubts at times, and created Ishmaels!

    But it is faith, not doubt, which moves mountains. It was faith which caused Abraham to have righteousness credited to him.

    It was faith which caused the woman with the issue of blood to be made whole. It was faith which caused the centurions servant to be healed. It was faith which delivered the Cyreno-Pheonician woman’s daughter. Jesus said so. And there are other examples.

    Faith does play a part in changing circumstances and shifting situations. Patience also plays a part. The patriarchs obtained the promises by faith and patience. The farmer reaps in due season by faith and patience.

  63. Faith follows obedience because you are following what the Father is doing. Me giving my way out of debt is just foolish if its just me deciding to do that. I think there is a temptation to justify your actions sometimes when your just trying to manipulate God.

    If I give because that’s what I believe God has told me – that is excersing faith and it will be rewarded.

    Either with a lesson for not really hearing Him, or with the outcome He promised if I did.

  64. FL: “It’s being fatalistic to say that we may be blessed or we may not depending on circumstances. I think that tends towards doubt and not faith.”

    I wonder what triggered the ‘blessed or we may not’?

    May be what lead to that is poor expression – not sure.

    I agree with FL that God is interested in the whole person, but agree with RE that because of the fall there are consequences that follow that we don’t get out of.

    My life experience for me is that I have seen extremely faithful people who were never materially blessed.

    To me anything that sets up an expectation that based on our faith on God we may be materially blessed is a pernicious lie that set people up.

    In actual fact I would argue people who maintain their faith in spite of materially difficult circumstances over decades and to the end of their lives have a much greater faith.

    I see no basis for the corollary that faith = material blessing.

    God may bless us that way – He may not – perhaps this is what FL is responding to – but that is not fatalism, and is actually quite a misunderstanding I think of what faith is, and the extent to which people put their hope in God despite all the ongoing struggle and poverty.

    I have to say that is anything but fatalism.

  65. I remember Paul Washer saying christians in South America, poor people, thought it was hilarious that some Western Christian teaching professed great faith gave you financial abundance…. poor because they lacked faith. He said they thought that was so ridiculous as they had great faith and of course would love financial blessing, as if it were that easy.

  66. FL: “It is fatalistic to say we can do nothing about our circumstances. It is saying the Hand of God cannot be moved.”

    “Faith does play a part in changing circumstances and shifting situations. Patience also plays a part. The patriarchs obtained the promises by faith and patience. The farmer reaps in due season by faith and patience.

    I agree with FL’s last post.

    There seems to be four things working their in and out of this conversation overlapping:

    What is God’s blessing?

    The role and effect of faith – and the issue about faith is what is the subject/object of that faith?

    Our own role in shaping our lives.

    Providence

    God’s blessing first and foremost is in being His adopted children.

    Exercising faith – saving faith which is a gift from God anyway – in something that pleases God I believe will yield a benefit of some sort – that benefit will always be spiritual, but may also me physical or material in someways – but the latter in my view does not always follow.

    As FL indicates, and as believe sometimes blessing only comes where one holds on to the long view – which for God can be decades, in future lifetimes or in eternity.

    If faith is misplaced however, of what consequence is it?

    God gives a role. We are not helpless, nor should we act so. To act helpless, be fatalistic etc is actually a denial of the image in which we have been created – we have power – even if it is only the power to hold on to our faith in the most desperate of circumstances.

    And we can bargain with God – I think this is a Hebrew thing – we are not comfortable with it, and generally I don’t think it is a good idea.

    Thinking Abram here over Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah, Moses and Gideon, Jepthah.

    The biblical examples I think of generally see either the human proponent doing what God wanted anyway, and/or coming off second best. Why should we be surprised?!

    Prayer is obviously important as a way of dealing with God, but we don’t always get what we want no matter how great our faith.

    Think David and Bathsheba’s first child, and David’s response on the child’s death.

    Providence – well God did put us in charge of a world that should be able to feed us all.

  67. well said mn. We have the resources to help 3rd world countries and “share” but it seems a complicated process. We were always taught at home to give food to poorer countries (canned etc). As well as local, but we should be more grateful for being born in a dare i say “blessed” postcode.

  68. And of course there is the ultimate example of faith in Jesus.

    Gave the devil and his short cuts to an easy life the flick in the desert.

    Asked His Father if He could give the cross a pass.

    And for His troubles was nailed to the cross….bore our sin, and was separated from His Father.

    Yes there was great blessing.

    Yes there was great reward.

    But not in that lifetime.

  69. Faith by itself does not move the hand of God. We are not able to move the hand of God by any means. All we can do is petition, have faith and have patience.

    Faith allows one to pray, wait, and to obtain guidance through a relationship with God. It doesnt obtain things directly of itself.

  70. FL asked:

    Qu 1 “Is God driven or moved by circumstances?

    Qu 2 “Does anyone here not consider themselves blessed by God?”

    Ans 1.

    Without getting into a free-will vs predestination debate, it is clear in the Bible that God is definitely moved by circumstance. The Fall of Man was a spiritual catastrophe that changed the course of human history. Yet in His mercy he gave up His Son for us all.

    The prayers of the OT faithful were answered in accordance with His Will. But these demonstrations of power by God were always consistent with his purpose – to establish His Kingdom for HIs people under His Kingship. God is not a genie to arbitrarily grant wishes according the whims and desires of the faithful but to declare his sovereignty over all the nations.

    An 2.

    As a Westerner, I think we are greatly blessed but do not necessarily meet God’s approval. The mere fact that we live here automatically puts us in the top 10% wealthiest people in the world. Does it mean I am more faithful? Does it mean that I am in greater obedience? Does it mean that God looks more favourably on my life? Is my material blessing equivalent to the spiritual blessings I have received?

    If we were to use the parable of the talents, it may be conjectured that our church have a millions talents but have invested about ten of them and kept the rest to ourselves.

    The challenge for the Western Christian is not to confuse wealth with God’s approval. Spiritual success is not measured by an expanding aspirational middle class. There was no such thing in the ancient world. I think we need to a take a few more lesson from our less well-off brothers and sisters to understand what faithfulness truly means.

  71. Yes we have a responsibility as a nation and individually. The trouble with some teaching is its all talk about the spirit said______the spirit drove me to_______. And as someone pointed out on this blog or GS, anything that pops in their head is taken as spirit-lead. V dangerous ground. Its simple, we help each other out, where and when we can. One could become a human rights lawyer or a nurse, teacher, doctor, if thats their talent, or just a great parent or friend. Kindness is what matters. Its so simple but appears hard to apply, although some people do try…

  72. To clarify, in essence I would agree with what you say, RE. I just think the picture is incomplete and there’s another side to all of this.

    Faith is incredibly important to our life and our relationship with God. In fact, he has set things in motion which we access by faith. Faith like a mustard seed will move a mountain, and nothing will be impossible. Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened, ask and you shall receive. Are these truths?

    Luke 17:6
    ‘So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.’

    I started to say that we should look at these issues from the persecutive of being good stewards of God’s creation, and being faithful and trustworthy with his ministry and how we use the resources at our disposal.

    It seems to me that we sometimes confuse the issue by associating finances and resources with negative connotations rather than as tools in our hands to help further the gospel. When we wrangle over excesses and corruption to such an extent, we are almost guilty of talking ourselves out of the benefits of being able to reach people through the gospel, using every device available to us.

    Rather than saying Australia is a greedy nation because we are so blessed, why can’t we see that God has gifted us with a plenteous land with a huge resource base, which, if only we could see more of our nation drawn into God’s purposes, would go a long way to helping us reach the fallen world, including helping to reduce poverty and starvation in famine hit lands.

    Money is in itself neutral. It is the love of money and riches which is the root of all evil. If learned how to be trustworthy and resourceful form the kingdom we could allow our liberality and generosity to touch millions.

  73. mj,
    ‘He has set things in motion which we access by faith. Please explain’

    The New Covenant is sealed. It is the Word and will of God. It is finished. It is established. The cross of Christ is a completed work. His resurrection gives us access to salvation by grace through faith. It is a one-off completed work.

    The just shall live by faith. Faith is the lifestyle of the righteous. Jesus said, ‘Have faith in God’.

    Life, for the righteous man or woman, is a life of faith in God, and therefore, in his will and Word.

    For instance, Jesus doesn’t have to literally come down into the earth, in transubstantiation, every time there is communion, and actually enter the elements to justify, cleanse or purify his people, as in Catholic masses. Priests are not called or appointed to call down Christ. Nor do they have such power. Or need that kind of ministry.

    He has done everything required to be done for us to be completely forgiven. We do not access forgiveness, salvation, redemption, sanctification, justification or glorification by ceremony, but by faith in the finished work of the cross of Christ.

    We receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit by faith. The Spirit is the Promise of God. He promised that we would be filled with the Spirit. The Spirit is our seal of redemption. He doesn’t have to go backwards and forwards approving or disapproving people who seek him to be filled. He has already stated through prophecy and by confirmation of prophecy that the Spirit has been poured out upon all flesh, and that all who receive him can prophesy. But it is faith which receives what he pours out.

    It’s for this reason that he doesn’t have a list of people who will be saved and others who will not, because he has made it clear that salvation is by his grace alone, and it is received by faith. This faith comes by hearing, and by hearing the Word of God. All who believe and call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. We enter the Book of Life through faith in Christ.

    All were predestined to be in Christ, but not all will believe and receive. The key to predestination and justification is in Christ alone. But without faith no one can please God.

  74. That is a reasonable summary FL.

    And those that remain faithful, their names will not be scratched out of the Lamb’s book of Life. (According to Revelation)

    So, everyone, is it possible that names can be rubbed out? (literally, scratched off or scraped off the vellum … removing all trace …)

    Revelation would seem to indicate it … otherwise why make such a statement if the possibility was not there.

    Isn’t Jesus saying that continuous Faith is essential?

    🙂

  75. FL said:

    “The New Covenant is sealed. It is the Word and will of God. It is finished. It is established. The cross of Christ is a completed work. His resurrection gives us access to salvation by grace through faith. It is a one-off completed work.”

    But what is the implication of this in regard to the type of rewards we receive in this lifetime?

  76. And we still have to turn away from sin. Know who we are in Christ and endeavour to emulate his character. Christians can still return to the “old man”. Its a process, and one that takes time, trial and error, its from the inside out.

  77. RE,
    ‘But what is the implication of this in regard to the type of rewards we receive in this lifetime?’

    Jesus once said, “Whatsoever things you desire, when you pray, believe you receive them, and you shall have them”.

    If we’re to take this literally, we would have to say he was opening up a rather large vista for us. he even makes desire desirable.

    The idea is backed up in Matthew 7:7:

    ‘Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks it will be opened.’

    Again carte blanche is implied here.

    And in John 14:
    ‘“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”‘

    Anything? That’s a rather large subject, don’t you think?

    John 15:
    ‘“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.’

    Whatever, and not in he way it is used today! Whatever means whatever.

    John 16:
    ‘And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.’

    To be honest, I’m still not quite sure how to take this doctrine. It seems so clear and yet so incredibly beyond our capability, or even faith, because, even in context, these are amazing promises. It also demonstrates and immense amount of trust from the Father. He does, as Spurgeon once wrote, give us an open check-book on life.

    What do you think?

  78. OK then facelift. So we can ask anything at all if we have enough faith? Then you pray for a private jet to arrive tomorrow morning. And I will pray that you don’t get a private jet by tomorrow morning. And we will see who has the most faith.

  79. Heretic and FL,

    tut tut. Isn’t this just pointless point scoring anyway?
    (says Bull scoring a useless point.)

    Here’s a question for both of you.

    Paul said: “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.”

    I ain’t gonna give chapter and verse. What’s the context?

  80. Well, I believe everything has to be in the context of mission and ministry not personal gain, but I didn’t make those things up. Jesus said them. What was he talking about?

    heretic, you’re not really challenging me on this, but Jesus. He said these things.

    Bull, I’m not interested in pointless point scoring, but fathoming out the meaning of these words of Christ.

    I also believe scripture is understood in reference to our personal understanding, including what appears to be prejudice on occasion.

    The only thing I’ve done here is produce some sayings of Christ and asked what people think. Regardless of what we want to believe we have to take Jesus at face value, and work out what he is telling us. These are very clear and outstanding instructions, no less valid or important than anything else Jesus says.

  81. FL said:

    “Bull, I’m not interested in pointless point scoring, but fathoming out the meaning of these words of Christ.”

    “Regardless of what we want to believe we have to take Jesus at face value”

    Certainly to take Jesus’ words seriously but not take the words in isolation from whatever else he said at the time.

    Whenever, I face a challenging passage to nut out the first thing is to read the entire book from which it came. This puts the whole verse in better perspective.

    Here is an opportunity to exegete these verses within the Gospel framework from which they were taken. To whom are these passages spoken? What were the people’s cultural and religious expectations as they listened to Christ’s words? What is the context of the preceding and succeeding passages? At one point in Christ’s ministry are these words spoken? What is the argument being built up at this point in the Gospel? Is he correcting a misunderstanding or building a new dimension to their spiritual understanding?

    Once we have set the context and meaning for the original audience then we can only begin to see its application for ourselves.

  82. Bull – Being content in any and every situation is the context. Yay! Ten points to hal!

    I don’t think the term ‘whatever’ should be isolated. Firstly Jesus is speaking to people in whom the term, ‘anything’ is already quite distinctly qualified within the bounds of their culture and personal morality not to mention the entire teaching of Jesus and his manner of life that they had learnt to follow. So immediately to the apostles ears it would have meant anything ‘appropriate’, anything in keeping with the will of God. Certainly the idea is there that nothing could stand in there way as was borne out in their miraculous ministries of spreading the Gospel. Other caveats also existed within the teaching of Jesus for example, “this one (demon) doesn’t come out but by prayer and fasting” just off the top of my head.

    Next, I think James qualifies sufficiently concerning asking in faith:

    James 2
    14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    So clearly, faith in prayer or blessing is not a means that in anyway overrides practical effort and help, it cannot substitute it but should accompany it.

    James 4
    1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

    The wrong motives goes to the heart of the morality I mentioned before. It should not enter the mind of a person of faith to expend prayer and faith on anything other than the will of God which leads to the next point.

    James 4
    13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.

    Faith in prayer assumes one understands the revealed will of God. It excludes arrogance and presumption and acts on revelation where God is the master of faith and action not the tool of the will of men.

    Next, and probably most relevant is the gift of faith, given by the Spirit as he wills, to whom he wills to operate in it for the time and purpose of His choosing. It appears that the apostles operated in all the spiritual gifts at different times.

    1 Corinthians 12
    8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,

    I’ve received this gift on a few occasions over the years to remarkable results. God removed all doubt so that it was virtually impossible to doubt despite extremely doubtful circumstances.

    That’s quickly how I think about these scriptures of ‘whatever’ and ‘anything’. I think it’s probably foolish to assume ‘anything’ by the will of men. The John 14 quote states, “that the Father may be glorified in the Son”, while the John 15 quote asserts, “that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you etc”, so I don’t see it as “whatever” in isolation. I think many have been burned trying to get God to do their will with these scriptures. I’m not discounting faith in prayer but that’s my brief opinion on it anyway.

  83. well, actually the context is money.

    I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me … in seed time and harvest in want or in plenty, I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.

    Ultimately it is contentment regardless of how much money we have …

    10 points to Hal. At least FL managed to miss my sense of humour here. tut tut.

    Heretic just didn’t bother.
    posh accent/noel coward-ish I do declare I am rather above all this don’t you know. (sitting there in a smoking jacket and slippers, leg crossed, reading The Times while smoking a cigarette in a cigarette holder …)

    Shalom

  84. Good thread. I can’t remember who said it but a preacher said (last year on tv) That, sure, alot or prayers go up to God but if it is in His will, and for your benefit as a Christian, it probably wont come to pass. They joked they were glad they didn’t get all their prayers and wishes granted….

    I can’t remember the scriptures they quoted regarding prayer, i usually take notes on a good sermon but didn’t this time but i could try and find it. (sermon)

  85. “According to His will” 1John5:14,15 and also Matt26, Rom 26 are worth reading. So we can put up our petitions but its according to His will and purposes basically. Im going back to bed, had a weird dream that woke me up.

  86. Bull said:

    “Heretic just didn’t bother.
    posh accent/noel coward-ish I do declare I am rather above all this don’t you know. (sitting there in a smoking jacket and slippers, leg crossed, reading The Times while smoking a cigarette in a cigarette holder …)”

    Umm – Heretic made that post and went to bed. It’s not a case of ‘not bothering’. Don’t forget we are all in different time zones here! He won’t have a chance to look at this for another 12 hours, since he’s at the office now. He never ever blogs at work.

  87. I think Hal’s take on this is correct. We can’t just take Jesus words, ‘everything’, outside the context of His life and everything else he taught. Jesus taught how we should live within the kingdom of God, where the measures of this world don’t apply. Someone with a heart that belongs to the kingdom can ask for whatever they want, but will be asking according to God’s will, so there will not be a problem. He’s not talking about people who are motivated by worldly desires; he’s talking about people who are motivated by God’s desires.

    So in the case of a jet, God could easily answer that prayer if it was according to his will. So it wouldn’t be for a private jet to enhance someone’s status or wealth. If the jet was genuinely necessary for some great good to be done in God, then He may well supply it. But the people asking would be doing so then with the right heart.

    We can’t judge by appearances though. Looking at a jet on its own, we can’t tell if it was obtained by deceiving people into donating money to prop up some mega-preacher’s kingdom, or if it was needed by an aid agency to serve people who couldn’t be reached/helped in some other manner.

  88. Well, as I said, the context has to be the Kingdom of Heaven, and its advancement.

    With the idea of God maybe not answering our prayers because it’s not his will, surely it behoves us to discover his will, since it has been made known to us, and is confirmed by the Spirit who is with us and in us. Otherwise what is the point of prayer? If we don’t know that our prayers might or might not be answered because God might deem them not for our benefit, how can we possibly have faith? What would be the point of faith? I don’t think our Father deals with us in this way as sons.

    We could not apply faith to what we ask for if we are in the dark regarding God’s will.

    I can’t see how you can make ‘everything’ into not ‘everything’. I don’t think Jesus was lazy with his words, but specific.

    The context of Mark 11 is removing obstacles to faith. Jesus begins with cursing a fig tree, which then dies from the root up, as a demonstration of the power of having faith in God, and using words of faith, then teaches on removing mountains by faith, and having our desires through faith, and making sure we are walking in forgiveness so our prayers can be answered. If we consider the Kingdom principles here, we have to conclude that Jesus is telling us we can do far more through faith and prayer than we possibly imagine. ‘Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all you ask or think, according to the power at work in you’.

    Jesus doesn’t qualify ‘whatever’, or ‘anything’. He uses those words, and they mean the same in the Greek as they do in the English. I think we can tend to over-qualify things if we’re no careful to justify our understanding of the meaning, but when the language is so clear cut we have to take note. There is no doubting what Jesus is saying here. Acting on it is quite a big thing.

    Few of us will actually attain to what Jesus is saying, just as few of us have walked on water by faith. But Peter did, for brief moment, reach out and touch what Jesus was saying, and walked on water, until fear sunk him, and Jesus was there to pull him out of the water. What did Jesus say to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

    The context of Matthew 7 is receiving what we ask for in prayer. Jesus qualifies it with the following:

    ‘“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”‘

    So he is telling us God will give us what we ask for, and will not withhold, or give us something we didn’t ask for. That is a major promise. ‘Good things’ here is ‘agathos’, wholesome, pleasant, excellent, joyful, agreeable’ things.

    The other scriptures, in context, mean much the same, but surely have to do with the work of the Kingdom. That is the context, but the opportunities ore still there. These verses should challenge our faith, and require that we lift our perspective towards what Jesus is saying.

  89. Jesus said “If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out”. Yet not even the most hardline fundamentalist takes this literally. Most heterosexual men find that their eyes offend them from time to time, yet I havent seen too many one-eyed fundamentalists (in the literal physical sense).

    Jesus used hyperbole to make a point and convey a strong impression. It is meant to be put in context of the rest of scripture and of common-sense. Language must be used in this way to convey certain concepts of the Kingdom, but it is not meant to be taken in a precise scientific or legal way (which are later uses of language)

  90. He will give what is beneficial for us. ie: A powerful motorbike isnt good for a 17yo. Even if that kid yearns for one in all his heart.

  91. FL:

    “We could not apply faith to what we ask for if we are in the dark regarding God’s will.”

    But we aren’t in the dark….

    “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves”

    Eph 4:4-6

    He is not some capricious deity ready to pounce on us for every slight misstep.

    Keep your eye firmly on Christ and his Word. Commit all things to Him and know that he is constantly guiding us regardless of our own humanity. Pray faithfully and trust that he is with you regardless of circumstance or outcome. Open your heart to correction and not see it as his disfavour but his love and grace for keeping you in his ways. He is refining and perfecting you for his purpose so that true faith may grow – not the kind that relies on external rewards and events. Without any thorns we don’t understand our need for Him.

  92. Also, we don’t always percieve what God’s will is in a given situation. Frequently we learn as we go, or we see better in hindsight. Often things are so complex that we haven’t a sufficient view to determine for ourselves what is best to pray for. In these situations, we can still pray, with faith that God will somehow be present in the situation, to work it for good. We don’t always need to be praying for a specific outcome.

    For example, you might be looking for work. You might go to a bunch of interviews, and be on the shortlist for the position. You may then be praying, along with everyone around you, that that particular door opens to you, and you get the job. You may claim all the scriptures listed as backing for your prayer.

    Then you don’t get the job.

    Six months later, you find that all the recent hires there were let go in the economic downturn. You are in another job by then, maybe one that didn’t seem as appealing at the time. But you realise that God was looking after you the whole time, and it wasn’t that your prayer wasn’t heard. Sometimes He gives you what you really need, rather than what you think you need when you ask for it.

  93. Proverbs 16:9
    ” 9The mind of (I)man plans his way,
    But (J)the LORD directs his steps. ”

    So it is when we pray with our minds. The Lord will direct the outcome. Over time, we will see His wisdom and goodness in this.

    A bit like Greg’s post on Father Des – Father Des didn’t know why God let him be an alcoholic. But now that he is serving alcoholics, with humility and having been there, he knows it gives him credibility with those he serves that he wouldn’t have otherwise had.

    This is the same with prayers for material wealth. God may very well answer our prayers for our businesses to go well, or our genuine need for extra finance. Since our whole lives are in discipleship to Jesus, our businesses can also express the kingdom of Heaven, and our prayers regarding them be heard. But God also loves us and will at times show us that in ways that may be purely personal, in terms of answered prayer. We can have great joy in that, knowing that He cares even for the trivial details in our lives. Still, if he said ‘yes’ to every prayer we made, for our own whims, it probably wouldn’t be good for us. Maybe we’d just turn into spoilt brats, with no concern for others.

  94. Heretic just didn’t bother.
    posh accent/noel coward-ish I do declare I am rather above all this don’t you know. (sitting there in a smoking jacket and slippers, leg crossed, reading The Times while smoking a cigarette in a cigarette holder …)

    Shalom

    – Bull

    Not sure you can say “shalom” after that one!

  95. yes, i used to think that others “seemed” more blessed at times. I got to know someone at work, who is well-off, smart, funny, seemingly perfect family life….and they told me about one of their children being ill and it cost a fortune to pay for a particular surgeon, now his wife and he have work longer hours. they have teenage woes just like the rest of us too, own health issue, aging parents. This life is only v comfortable for the v rich and healthy.

  96. And even if they are very rich and healthy, if their relationships are unhealthy in some way, which if they’ve forgone relationships in pursuit of wealth they might be, then they are not going to be truly ‘blessed’ in their inner lives. Rich, but miserable.

    Whether its between us and God or us and one another, to think we can ‘buy’ a right relationship with money distorts the relationship we could otherwise have.

    True generosity from the heart out of compassion though, will enhance and not distort our relationships.

  97. RP,
    God ‘let’ Fr Les be an alcoholic because we all have a free will. It was Les’s choice not God’s. God will rarely violate our will, in this life, at least. He may apprehend us when we’re on the wrong course, but he won’t interfere, even with our wrong choices, nor will he violate his code of ethics by forcing us into sin.

    So, the suggestion that God positions us to become alcoholics, drug-addicts, prostitutes, etc, etc, so we can then help people in the same situation cannot be right, reasonable though it sounds. God doesn’t condone sin so we can minister to people who are in the same sin. Sin separates us from God. God hates sin. Why would he encourage us to sin to reach sinners? We go where the sinners are to rescue them, but not to imbibe in their sin. Jesus met with sinners and was part of their community, but he never sinned with them.

    On the other hand, if we were drunkards who were converted, then we will, of course, have understanding of people in the same plight, and our ministry has extra validity. But Jesus didn’t have to become a sinner to reach sinners, just as a physician doesn’t have to be sick to help the sick.

    wazza2,
    I don’t see how you can claim Jesus was saying ‘whatsoever’ and ‘anything’ when he actually meant something significantly less specific. Why didn’t he just tell the truth and say exactly what we could ask for or pray for?

    It’s quite clear what he was saying when he suggested we pluck out our eye if it offended us, but you can then use that to justify watering down what he says in Matthew 7:7, or Mark 11:24, and claiming that ‘whatsoever’ and ‘anything’ is hyperbole.

    Besides this, I gave a number of scriptures which contextually back up what Jesus said in Mark 11:24.

    John backs this up also:

    1 John 5:14-15
    Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

    So, where God’s will is known we can have confidence, or boldness, or free and fearless assurance, that he hears us, and therefore we will have the petitions we ask for.

    To me this has nothing to do with hyperbole, but everything to do with us taking another look at how and what we pray for, and what we can expect from God as a response to our requests. I’m suggesting that few of us are actually living up to the standards God has put in place in regard to faith and answered prayer. And I include myself in this.

  98. wazza2,
    ‘It’s quite clear what he was saying when he suggested we pluck out our eye if it offended us, but you CAN then use that to justify watering down…etc’

    should read:

    ‘It’s quite clear what he was saying when he suggested we pluck out our eye if it offended us, but you CANNOT then use that to justify watering down… etc.’

    (my emphasis)

  99. “God ‘let’ Fr Les be an alcoholic because we all have a free will. It was Les’s choice not God’s. ”

    I know this. But the point is that God used it for good, and that later, Fr Les could see that. Plus, sometimes God does intervene and spares people some of the brunt of their foolishness – maybe sometimes people wonder why he spares others and not themselves.

  100. “So, the suggestion that God positions us to become alcoholics, drug-addicts, prostitutes, etc, etc, so we can then help people in the same situation cannot be right, reasonable though it sounds.”

    I definitely don’t believe God does that! Obviously I wasn’t clear enough in my comment.

  101. “…according to His will…”

    And this is where some teachers these days stuff it all up, often. They actually teach that Jesus was materially rich, and that therefore it is praying in line with God’s will to become rich ourselves. And that the only limit on this is our faith. eg: T D Jakes, Creflo Dollar. The justification is often “…so that we may share with others’, but this is rarely the true motivation behind the appeal of the prayer.

    Here’s a few quotes re riches from some of these teachers (see first half of the video).

  102. the thing is we are flawed, all sinners. Paul’s affliction, which supposedly could have been lifted, was not. It kept him humble or human or…..

  103. And “The justification is often “…so that we may share with others”, in order that believers share their little with these evangelists who have much – and use their ‘much’ as both a sign of God’s blessing, and a sign that God will do this for all believers. If you ‘sow’ into their ministry, God will make you like them.

    That this is a lie is obvious to anyone who has not been brainwashed.

  104. Should read, “That this is a lie to get their money is obvious to anyone who has not been brainwashed.”

  105. Frankly, I think that YouTube extract cheapens what has been an otherwise excellent discussion, and threatens to derail it unnecessarily. Pity.

    An ugly anthology of isolated quotes from a number of people, mostly extracts of sentences taken out of context, and mostly known by all and oft quoted by ‘discernment ministries’.

    I guess we could take the teachings of just about anybody and extract stupid sentences which would them prove them to be…what? Human? In need of Christ? Not infallible? Some error mixed in with truth? Does any of us have a total handle on the truth? Does any of us know the Word so well we no longer need the Spirit and Body of Christ at work in our lives?

    Not an argument worthy of this thread. I have far better evidence of the error of a couple of these ministries, and why I wouldn’t agree with what they have taught in the past.

  106. Re the video:

    Maybe we should all speak to our wallets this week, and compare our results in a couple of weeks time. We must be sure to visualise them full of $100 bills, and speak it repetitively, every day, until we believe its there. Also be sure to speak the scriptures over We could even start spending it as an act of faith.

    Then we can declare our results here in two weeks time, to glorify God!

  107. FL, we’re not saying you endorse this stuff. But this is the way it is taught in churches I have been in! So it is relevant here as a reflection of the things we react against. Some of these speakers are still invited to their conferences.

  108. I guess we could take the teachings of just about anybody and extract stupid sentences…FL said

    We could but we don’t have enough room….

  109. anyway, yes ministers are human too but say a politician said what Pat Robertson said….if you are a leader, say even a principal of a school, you really have to be “wise” in what you say. Or a radio host, you “influence” people with words.

  110. Anyway, back to God’s will. Where it is is understood and known we can ask according to his will and know that he hears us. This is a clear and precise teaching form the Word of God which confirms, in Epistles, what Jesus said, on the Gospels, about asking and receiving. Not that Jesus needs confirmation of what he says, more than once, but it’s good to receive the same teaching from an Epistle.

    If we are to progress here, and not be side-tracked by indignation or suspicion towards what is viewed by some as excessive teaching on giving, then we need to look at what the Word says, and not at what stitched-together YouTube mini-sermons invite us to believe. They are irrelevant to what is being said here, and distracting.

    Do you agree that, where God’s will is known and understood we can be assured that he hears, and that if he hears we can have a bold confidence that we will have the petitions we ask for?

  111. If it is God’s will and its for our own benefit, probably yes (say moving to another city). Or if one persists in their will, He might let that happen too and we learn a lesson the long way…

  112. 1 Corinthians 2:12
    Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

    God’s will and his Word must be one. They must be consistent, so whatever we know from the Word to be his will towards us can be prayed for with confidence.

    We can know from his Spirit in our lives what things he has given us. We are not in the dark about these things. They are revealed. That is what gives us confidence in prayer.

  113. “Do you agree that, where God’s will is known and understood we can be assured that he hears, and that if he hears we can have a bold confidence that we will have the petitions we ask for?”

    I think that we can do this when God gives us the faith to do so. The kind of faith where we know that we will receive something we cannot see yet, is a gift from God.

    Sharing from my personal experience in prayer, there are times that I know this, and then it comes to pass. There was a time last year when I was learning to understand better, in a more tangible way, how God inhabits the heavens around us – not far away, but here, right now. I was at a raffle event run by my kids childcare centre, and I felt that God told me, if I asked, right now, to win the raffle (which was for babysitting), he would give it to me – to show me how near He was, and how He hears even the trivial things we pray about at times. I prayed, had a big grin on my face, and moments later my number was called. It was like a warm embrace from God. But I heard him even before I asked! The faith was from Him.

    I think in many things, when we abide in God, He gives us this kind of faith, and we know what to pray for and what not to pray for.

    When we are more distant from Him, we may not know what to pray for, and though we still pray, we may not really be as aware of where his will lies. So we may not receive what we ask for, because sometimes we might be asking outside his will. Other times, we try to manufacture faith from within ourselves, but it’s a false faith – we won’t get what we ask for then either, if its outside his will.

    I know of someone who used these verses to justify not studying for exams – they expected to pass by faith alone. Unfortunately, they had to repeat the year. It wasn’t God’s will for them to pass with no work, not really learning anything.

    In other words, we may have a bold confidence when we are truly abiding in Him, as we know as we pray where faith lies. We also know where we feel uneasy about praying in a certain direction, and may seek further clarity in that situation or just pray and trust that the Lord will work it all for good, committing it to Him.

    Does that make sense?

  114. Conversely of course, if we don’t pray for things, we won’t receive. Prayer is vital to our relationship with God, and intercessory prayer can even change his will for a situation – Exodus 32:11-14 (Moses interceding results in God not destroying the Israelites).

  115. Yes, the HOly Spirit speaks to us, and you learn to know his voice. It takes practise, sort of, you lean in more towards God in quiet prayer or the Bible, or a close Christian friend, who really knows you can be of great help. I have one that tells me, what they think is Gods will when i have a pressing issue. or sometimes you get an answer a couple of days later. Its quite amazing.

  116. Just to clarify, a good trusted friend can give you wise advice. “That guy might not be for you” or whatever. With God it sometimes takes time, but i think its best to wait on the Lord than rush at something cause “you” feel its right

  117. FL said:

    “Do you agree that, where God’s will is known and understood we can be assured that he hears, and that if he hears we can have a bold confidence that we will have the petitions we ask for?

    Yes and No.

    For those who trust in Christ’s saving work we do have a bold confidence to approach the throne of grace and petition him.

    That is not the same thing as saying that we have a bold confidence that he gives whatever we ask for.

    FL,

    You have accumulated a number of verses on the aspect of giving and receiving but I recommend that you evaluate each of these in the context of the books in which they come from. A concordance can’t discriminate meanings and contexts.

  118. RE,
    Are you saying you believe that the scripture only refers to limited answers to prayer despite the scripture saying we can ask anything according to his will? I mean by that, do you believe there are some aspects of God’s will which he will answer in the affirmative, but others the negative? If so, why did he use the term ‘anything’? Is he being dishonest? If ‘anything’ refers to a limited area, notwithstanding our diligently seeking and discovering God’s will, why didn’t he say so?

    Or, if he means exactly what he says, do we have a responsibility to take on board the exact meaning, and not water down the information by placing a limit on it which isn’t there, contextually or otherwise.

    John makes it clear that if we ask anything according to his will he will hear us, and if he hears us we will have the petitions we ask of him. He doesn’t specify anything outside of this.

    ‘Anything’ is anything.

    So, tell me, am I to take John, and also Jesus on the other verses and context mentioned, at face value or ignore what they say as inaccurate, or have serious reservations about what Jesus says, r the Holy Spirit reveals through John?

    Even before you made the excellent suggestion, I have evaluated and used each scripture in context many times, and read the previous and subsequent chapters, looked who is speaking, to whom, etc, checked everything on your checklist, since I have the same checklist, and found that the context remains. For the sake of space I have not written out the entire chapters, of course, but just written, on this thread, the central verse to what Jesus and John are saying, but anyone can check and confirm that the context is clear.

    And I have said, twice now, that the context logically has to be in reference to mission and ministry, and in the furtherance of the Kingdom of God, not for worldly pursuits, or personal gratification. Yet the the admonition from both Jesus and John remain as strong, within this context, as I have pointed out.

    That is why I am saying the doctrine is so astonishing.

    What do you think Jesus was saying when he said ‘those who believe would to the works he did, and greater works than these would they do, because he would be going to the Father’?

    He follows this up by saying, ‘and whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it’.

    ‘Whatever’ and ‘anything’ come up yet again in this passage and are referenced as acting in his name. Is he releasing his ministry to those who believe?

    Incidentally, I had no need to locate these scriptures using a concordance, since the references are familiar to me. I’m sure, using a Concordance I could locate more.

  119. “Can we earn a reward from God?”
    “Can we expect a reward from God for giving money?” “Can we be confident in the kind of reward we will receive on this earth?”

    I’m in favour of RE’s response to this.

    “People still want to believe in Santa Claus and then try to find him in the Bible.”

    Too true!!!

    Facelift:
    “He has set things in motion which we access by faith…

    The New Covenant is sealed. It is the Word and will of God. It is finished. It is established. The cross of Christ is a completed work. His resurrection gives us access to salvation by grace through faith. It is a one-off completed work.

    The just shall live by faith. Faith is the lifestyle of the righteous. Jesus said, ‘Have faith in God’.

    Life, for the righteous man or woman, is a life of faith in God, and therefore, in his will and Word.

    For instance, Jesus doesn’t have to literally come down into the earth, in transubstantiation, every time there is communion, and actually enter the elements to justify, cleanse or purify his people, as in Catholic masses. Priests are not called or appointed to call down Christ. Nor do they have such power. Or need that kind of ministry.

    He has done everything required to be done for us to be completely forgiven. We do not access forgiveness, salvation, redemption, sanctification, justification or glorification by ceremony, but by faith in the finished work of the cross of Christ.

    We receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit by faith. The Spirit is the Promise of God. He promised that we would be filled with the Spirit. The Spirit is our seal of redemption. He doesn’t have to go backwards and forwards approving or disapproving people who seek him to be filled. He has already stated through prophecy and by confirmation of prophecy that the Spirit has been poured out upon all flesh, and that all who receive him can prophesy. But it is faith which receives what he pours out.

    It’s for this reason that he doesn’t have a list of people who will be saved and others who will not, because he has made it clear that salvation is by his grace alone, and it is received by faith. This faith comes by hearing, and by hearing the Word of God. All who believe and call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. We enter the Book of Life through faith in Christ.

    All were predestined to be in Christ, but not all will believe and receive. The key to predestination and justification is in Christ alone. But without faith no one can please God.”

    I think this is where I see Facelift’s dilemma. Word of Faith focus’ on faith to be central for one to be blessed. While this seems to be a noble fundamental truth, it is slightly erroneous. If our focus is on the Grace, then faith is not seen as an obstacle or device to obtain blessing. We see grace already blessing us. Faith is a gift of grace. Christ is Faith personified. And His Spirit gives is faith to believe (a fruit of the Spirit) – an act of grace.

    Paul said: “I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.”

    Bull:
    “I ain’t gonna give chapter and verse. What’s the context?”

    And for both Bull and Facelift, I can only see that we should be focusing on the word ‘through’ in the apllication to these scriptures. I can’t do B if God wants me to do A. He wants me to do A through Him so we can both be blessed. With the issues of faith and receiving, he knows what’s in His creation for us to receive, He wants to work with us THROUGH His creation to obtain such priveleges, similar to what Christ went THROUGH.

    THROUGH Christ, THROUGH His life and THROUGH His creation, no matter how hard it is, we are blessed.

  120. FL said:

    “have evaluated and used each scripture in context many times, and read the previous and subsequent chapters, ”

    In that case you are familiar with the events surrounding this statement. Jesus speaks to the disciples that he will soon be betrayed and that he will be leaving to join the Father. He also talks about God preparing rooms for them in His house. Judging from the reaction of the disciples after the crucifixion, it is clear that they did not fathom the significance of this words or were even prepared for this eventuality. Why?

    After the verse you quoted, Jesus warns in the next chapter that the disciples would be persecuted? How do we reconcile these two statements? Reward and suffering?

  121. ‘How do we reconcile these two statements? Reward and suffering?’

    Our eternal reward is everlasting life with the Father. Our suffering is to remain in this earth until Jesus comes, which may include periods of extreme lack, and/or persecution.

    When we come to God we have to believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

    We are heirs of God, which is surely reward, and joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him.

    We need to learn to be content in either situation, whether we be in blessed situation or suffering for the gospel’s sake. As Paul said, to learn to be content whether we are abased or abound.

    It’s not a matter of either we always suffer, or we always receive blessings or rewards. There are times when we will be safe, and times when we are under threat. We’re told to rejoice either way.

    Just as Jesus promised that we would have a life and that it would be a life more abundant, he also guaranteed suffering, and persecution for the gospel’s sake.

    The idea that life is a bed of roses with ne’ary a troubled moment, or no challenges to our faith, is erroneous. We are told expect a fiery trial. But what is tried, s&p? Our faith! Do we have to wait for the Holy Spirit to give us faith before we can be tried for our faith, or does faith come by hearing and hearing by the Word of God? Is faith then accompanied by a trial, the very trial which both tests and perfects our faith, provided we stand on faith and do not waver, so that patience, or endurance can have its perfect work, and we ultimately lack nothing?

    Continuing in faith and patience obtains the promises. Some saints died in faith, having never achieved the promises, yet still walking towards them, because ours is an eternal journey in God, and eventually we will see our reward, even though there are trials along the way.

    Which is why Jesus told us we need faith to move mountains.

    There’s a suggestion here that we have to wait for faith to come from the Holy Spirit before we can speak to the mountains, but that is not what Jesus is saying. In fact, we are told that the just shall live by faith. Jesus prefaces this admonition on moving mountains by faith, by telling us to have faith in God. Our ability in Christ to remove obstacles by faith is dependent on our first having faith in God, not waiting for the Holy Spirit to give us special faith.

    I wasn’t repeating WoF doctrine, but actual Bible doctrine, s&p. I was quoting Jesus’ own words, and John’s own words. And, RE, in context with the surrounding chapters.

    Jesus was telling his disciples that he would shortly have to leave, and it was expedient that h did so because he would be sending one like him, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who was with us and would be in us. he was saying believers would then be empowered to do what he had done in his ministry on the earth, and that we could ask anything of the Father in his name and he would give it to us, which is clearly in respect to mission and ministry.

    Jesus also said we had not chosen him, but he chose us, and ordained us, to bear much fruit, and that our fruit would remain, and we would be able to ask anything in his name and the Father would give it to us.

    Again in reference to mission and ministry, and very clear, completely in context with itself, but also totally in context with surrounding words of Jesus. To produce fruit we have to be joined to the Vine, who is Christ, and expect to be pruned seasonally, so the fruit will be lasting.

  122. But we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverence,perseverence, character, and character, hope.Rom5:3,4

    I think this refers to our own personal suffering. So skipping to hope first, might be ok for a while, but it doesnt really develope us completely in Christ. i have personally had alot of suffering (wont go there) But I know now why. And I can relate to others more because of it ie:counselling.

  123. According to “His” will FL, ask anything in His name…Thy will be done. That could mean I must do what God wants, in my life. Not run around trying to think of ways to get people into God. He has to do the “behind the scenes” work. We cant magically convert someone, its Christ who does that. We then should very carefully try and paraphrase the Bible to them so they wont lack any good thing. This eldership/mentor is v important work, and i don’t think its easy. It takes alot of experience, wisdom and discernment

  124. Yes, it is according to HIs will, mj, but His will can be known in regard to our involvement. He doesn’t leave us in the dark. If we don’t know His will we can’t pray according to His will.

  125. Sorry if I’ve missed an important part of the discussion, but how is it possible to know absolutely His will in regard to ourselves?

    It seems to me that we can pray and seek the scriptures, but there is always the possibility that our own desires and prejudices will influence our hearing the voice of God. Only as we die to ourselves will we become more Christ-like and more able to discern the will of God clearly. This requires a renewing of the mind, which I see as not a once-off event but a life-long process.

    As we do not know the will of God with certainty we cannot always be certain that we are praying in the will of God.

  126. FL perhaps your putting the cart before the horse, so to speak and i agree with wazza on the point that we learn what is good for us, we dont instantly get it.

  127. Here is an illustration
    FL: say im a new christiain and i go to a church, the minister says, you must not be lazy, and quotes a few proverbs. And, my actual problem was that i was a workaholic (at the expense of my family) this isnt good. A cookie cutter sermon is maybe good for some, but not for others. Every teacher should sort of say a disclaimer when preaching….and ensure people seek the scriptures for their own individual lesson

  128. Wazza2 asks:

    “As we do not know the will of God with certainty we cannot always be certain that we are praying in the will of God.”

    I am not give a direct response but here is a story:

    Israel asks for a king. They are told that it is not a good idea. They are told God is their King. They persist. God grants them their pertition and they receive their human king. Initially things look OK, even great. Within three generations and just over one hundred years of royal rule things the kingdom is divided. Within three hundred years, 10 Israelite tribes disappear off the face of the earth.

    So was the initial request within God’s will or not? Did God have a hand in Saul’s anointing? Does the success of King David and Wisdom of King Solomon justify the demand for a King? At any point in this three hundred year history how does an Israelite know if they are in our out of God’s will?

    Go back to 1,2 Samuel and 1,2 Kings for a refresher of the events.

  129. mj – that’s why relationships are so important in the Body of Christ. A good teacher is helpful, but a wise brother or sister who knows the scripture, and who is a friend to the workaholic, can help them apply the scripture in their own context.

    And wazza – I entirely agree. I also think that as some of us here have already said, over time you do begin to recognise the Holy Spirit’s leading more as you pray. Often it is in prayer that you get a sense of how to pray. If we don’t start praying, we don’t get that inkling of direction. The Word is helpful, but it doesn’t literally cover every situation in our lives, and sometimes the way it should apply isn’t obvious. In that situation, we pray and God supplies the faith. And sometimes we still don’t know where His will is. Then we can still exercise faith that He will work it for good.

    OK – whatever we ask for… so when you are praying for someone who has cancer to live, we should expect in every case that they are healed? Do we say our faith was too weak if they aren’t healed? Or do we say that it was God’s will to take them at that time, or a result of the Fall, and look forward to the day when all sin and its results will be done away with? Or does ‘whatever’ apply only to material objects – so when we don’t receive it, again its our fault for lacking faith, or not reading the Word enough to have enough faith birthed?

    Where is the boundary to ‘whatever’? His will. How do we discern it 100% of the time? I don’t know anyone who can, but I know many people who have some of the time at least.

    What was Jesus trying to show Peter when Peter walked on water – ever so briefly?

  130. Whatever our disagreements, certainties or confusion on this, at least we all agree here that God does hear and answer our prayers. That’s a testimony in itself!

  131. Hmm, RE – good examples. Sometimes God does just give us what we want, when we ask persistently but unwisely. It’s like a parent whose child just won’t give up asking, who finally lets them have what they want, to learn the consequences the hard way, because there is no other. And isn’t that the story of the human race.

  132. What you’ve highlighted, wazza2, is our dilemma, and I would agree that it is difficult at times to know if something personal to us or our situation is God’s will, or how to pray according to God’s will in that circumstance, and again I would agree with RP that experience builds an awareness of what can be prayed for in these cases.

    I’m amazed, though, looking back, how often God answered prayers, which a mature believer would consider very simplistic, even naive, when we were new Christians, and didn’t know much about God’s will in His Word. We would just put it out there and trust God to be the great Father Jesus says he is and simply answer prayer.

    We would just say, ‘Father, we need you help in so-and-so, please help, in Jesus name, Amen!” I can’t remember thinking, ‘I wonder if this is God’s will!” more like, “Thank God we have a heavenly father who cares enough to help meet our needs!” And we had some serious needs when were first saved. God brought us through them all!

    Other times, when it didn’t seem we were having prayer answered, we would just persist and be heard for our importunity, keep knocking until we saw the result.

    We were like little children, and isn’t that what Jesus says about our relationship and our approach? Or we would thank God and worship him anyway, and see prayer answered in the middle of praise. Simple faith. No doubts that God would come through on our behalf. Complete trust.

    Goodness, having written that, i realise I need to rethink some of my approach to faith in God…again!

    We should mature, but perhaps one of the traps of maturity, if we’re not careful, is the over-analysation of what we can or can’t do, and the sad possibility that we lose the simplicity of faith we had when we started out on this journey.

  133. well, I disappear for a few days and look what happens!

    I have lost the thread totally … but it’s the last time I try to be funny … (pout)

    Shalom … (sniff)

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