Bad Seeds Grow Too

Scripture text

Matthew 7:15-16 (NKJV) -- {15} “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. {16} You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?

Introduction

I was sent a CNN article that highlighted the frustrations of one woman with the prosperity preaching.  Below is an excerpt from that article.

The message flickered into Cindy Fleenor's living room each night: Be faithful in how you live and how you give, the television preachers said, and God will shower you with material riches.

And so the 53-year-old accountant from the Tampa, Florida, area pledged $500 a year to Joyce Meyer, the evangelist whose frank talk about recovering from childhood sexual abuse was so inspirational. She wrote checks to flamboyant faith healer Benny Hinn and a local preacher-made-good, Paula White.

Only the blessings didn't come. Fleenor ended up borrowing money from friends and payday loan companies just to buy groceries. At first she believed the explanation given on television: Her faith wasn't strong enough.

"I wanted to believe God wanted to do something great with me like he was doing with them," she said. "I'm angry and bitter about it. Right now, I don't watch anyone on TV hardly."

I have been promoting a Christian methodology for years that is contrary to the prosperity teachings.  It amazes me how many people fall for the hype that is preached by so many preachers and teachers in the name of God.  They tell the people what the people want to hear and yearn to believe.  I was once one of those hopeful people.

I once partook of the prosperity teaching.  However, I was fortunate that I did not abandon my roots as a Christian.  I didn’t give myself totally to the prosperity doctrine, but instead remained persistent in bible study.  I soon found out that the teachings were not consistent with the bible and therefore could not promote or condone such things.  Some of the ministers that I associated with were offended and I suppose some felt threatened because I was not preaching their gospel to the people.

I think that now there are an increasing number of people that are discovering or finally admitting that the prosperity claims do not work.  I don’t think that they have come to this conclusion because of biblical revelation, but rather simply because what was promised has not happened in their lives.  In any case, the prosperity teaching is in the spotlight for two reasons in my own opinion.

  1. The claims of the prosperity preachers have not happened to people in general
  2. The extravagant lifestyle of the mega-church and mega-ministry leaders is being scrutinized and is more in the open now.

We have to consider that these are seeds that were planted many years ago.  People took those prosperity seeds and nurtured them only to find that they did not grow into the tree of wealth as promised.  They were for the most part duds.  The seeds were in effect a mere illusion meant to distract us from the truth for the gain of someone else.  Now people are coming to grips with the truth.  They have come to realize that even bad seeds grow.  Let’s talk about this.

The Seeds

Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 (NKJV) -- {1} Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days. {2} Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, For you do not know what evil will be on the earth. {3} If the clouds are full of rain, They empty themselves upon the earth; And if a tree falls to the south or the north, In the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie. {4} He who observes the wind will not sow, And he who regards the clouds will not reap. {5} As you do not know what is the way of the wind, Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, So you do not know the works of God who makes everything. {6} In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good.

We have studied this passage of scripture in the past and we saw that it reveals that we should not put all of our eggs into one basket so to speak.  Another important step is the planting phase though.  In order to get something back in the future, we have to do some planting today.  That planting could take the form of a business venture, new product, investment, or whatever.  It is just something you do today in hopes of a return in the future.  Of course I am speaking of only legal and morally appropriate options.

The fact is that there must be seeds in order for something to grow.  However, not everything that we think or want to believe are seeds are indeed true seeds.  That is the case with the prosperity teaching and other scams.  I could tell you that you can invest $1000 in my new plan and you will receive $10,000 in 2 years.  There will probably be people that believe me and will invest.  They have planted seeds, or so they thought.  Actually, they are only contributing to my bank account and no seeds were truly planted—even though they wanted to believe so.

Many people have given thousands of dollars to churches and ministries, not to help the ministry do what it was called to do (or claimed to be).  They gave in hopes of getting a return.  That is the primary problem.  People give to churches and the like for ulterior motives.  People many times do not give to a church or ministry because they want to help that ministry spread the gospel (though I’m sure there are many people who do give to contribute to the ministry).  They gave money month after month because the preacher said that it was the key to receiving a financial blessing.

However, after a while, people realize that those seeds did not produce anything.  Those seeds were not seeds at all.  Instead, we see the preacher getting richer, but we remain the same.  Why is this so?  Think about that for a moment.  What would happen to your financial situation if you kept receiving money each week from many people?  Your financial situation would continuously improve.

The True False Seeds

The seeds that were planted weren’t the money that the people gave, but rather the message that some preachers preached.  They presented a sales pitch and many believed.  It’s that simple.  Consider some of the commercials that you hear on television or radio.  They make great claims, but if we were to think about some of them we would discern that they can’t be true.

Some people just don’t understand that they are the ground for the seeds of the false ministers.  They allow those false messages to take root in them and produce a crop for someone else by their giving.  We give and give to ministries and churches, but don’t realize that that is not how we can get ourselves into a better financial state.

Improving your financial situation has nothing to do with giving to a church, but has all to do with what you do.

The Response

Have you ever been deceived?  Have you ever reached a point where you realized that your efforts were useless because of deception?  There is a difference between realizing that something won’t work after a gallant try and realizing that something won’t work because you were deceived.  Things go awry in life all of the time even with our best efforts—which is why we truly shouldn’t put our eggs in one basket.  However, when we realize that we were deceived then we may feel hopeless and violated.  We are more prone to close ourselves off from anything that resembles the deceiving person or organization.

Therefore, many people are moving away from the church.  They did not receive the goods that they were promised.  The problem is that the goods they were promised had nothing to do with God or Christianity in truth.  God never promised that we would be rich.  God never said that we could receive a hundred fold by giving to a church.  We believed those lies because we wanted to.  We held onto those false teachings because we were desperate and wanted to believe that it was the way out of our circumstances.

Greed

  • Proverbs 1:19 (NKJV) -- {19} So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners.
  • Proverbs 11:24 (NKJV) -- {24} There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty.
  • Proverbs 22:16 (NKJV) -- {16} He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, And he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty.
  • Proverbs 23:4-5 (NKJV) -- {4} Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease! {5} Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

One response to the false teachings and the planting of false seeds is greed.  Telling people that they can be rich appeal to their selfish desires.  How many people do you think thought of those rich days and how they could give abundantly to the poor, help family and friends, or do much more charity work?  Most of us start thinking about the new house we can buy, the new car and clothes, and other stuff.

I have said for many years that the prosperity teaching will induce selfishness instead of the promised riches.  We covet the thing that we don’t have.  We think that money is a panacea for our financial woes.  Sure, having more money will enable you to do much more.  However, that is the very point that I’m trying to make.  What more do we want to do?  A heart after God’s way will desire and strive to please God.  A person who has committed his way to the Lord will indeed help the poor and those who are in need the best that he can—with wisdom.  This doesn’t mean that he won’t get nice things for himself and his family.  It only means that he is not driven merely for riches.  He is driven to righteousness.

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) -- {33} But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Disillusionment

The word disillusionment means loss of false belief, disappointment caused by a frustrated ideal or belief.

Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV) -- {25} not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Another response to the failed harvest of the prosperity claims is disillusionment.  People become disillusioned with Christianity—though it is not really Christianity that they have experienced.  I discovered many years ago that what people think is a Christian experience is really a church or religious experience.  Many of the things that are done in the religious world has nothing to do with God or Jesus Christ or the ultimate purpose God has for us.

We have truly been driven away from the Lord instead of towards him.  We have been driven away from Him because we chose to believe someone else instead of his word.  People are then hurt and blame God for it.  They separate themselves from any fellowship, which is a bad thing to do.  However, what else are they to do.  Wouldn’t you remove yourself from the thing that hurt you?

The Effect of the Bad Seed

Galatians 1:6-7 (NKJV) -- {6} I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, {7} which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.

People are missing out on true Christianity because they were deceived by men and women in churches and the religious community.  People are not connecting with God because the bad seeds that were planted in them have grown and they are only weeds.  Those weeds conceal the truth about Jesus Christ and about God.

However, I also believe that not all of those people are truly looking for Jesus Christ.  Not all of those people are truly interested in a relationship with God.  They are what I call, religious.  They think that they can be in right standing with God by following the rules—someone else’s rules.  They think that Christianity is about religion, when in fact it is far from religion.  Christianity is about relationship and the will of God for people.

Those prosperity preachers have misrepresented not only Christianity, but God himself.  They have presented God as a genie who grants our wishes if we ask him the right way.  I believe there are many people who were truly looking for the truth, but were deceived by those prosperity preachers, in addition to the preachers that preach false doctrines.

Our Action to Counteract the Effect

We have to promote the truth.  It is just that simple.  We have to do what we can   There are still those who want the truth—who have been hurt by religion.  The true harvest of the false prosperity teachings is becoming more evident and people are responding in a way that will not get them closer to God.  At least they do realize that what they have been told were lies and perhaps that alone will result in them finding the truth, which is Jesus Christ.

This is the time of year where people make new years resolutions.  Some churches will have slogans for the New Year like, “God will make you great in 2008.”  Every year there is purportedly a new move of God on the church.  However, every year I believe it is the same call, which is the call to salvation.  Sure we may learn more and more about God and his kingdom each year, but the message is the same—especially since the bible doesn’t change.  Our message has been the same since Pursuing the Truth Ministries started.  We want you to have a personal and intimate relationship with God and that that relationship would transcend any church denomination or religious affiliation.  We want you to know God for yourself.

The best counter for lies is the truth.  It’s that simple.  People are responding to lies, but they think they have heard the truth and that that truth has failed them.  Such is not the case and they really need to know that.  Let us be there for people.  Let us proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ died for our sins and if we put our faith in him for salvation then we will be saved.  We will then be reconciled to God and have eternal life. Jesus is the way and people just need to know that.  Let’s do what we can to help in that endeavor.  Amen.

 


Bad Seeds Grow Too!
By William R. Cunningham
December 30, 2007