This blog has been a while in coming because to be honest I've struggled believing it! It really does seem too good to be true! That's because it IS too good! Here's the New Testament principle:
Galatians 3:6 (NIV):
"Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness"
Galatians 3:7, 9 (NASB):
"Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham ... So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham".
So Paul lays out quite concisely what Abraham simply did to receive this blessing. "He believed God". Just as concisely we are told what we do to receive the same blessing AS Abraham - we simply also believe God. What then is the blessing that Abraham received? It is a seven-fold blessing and it's found in Genesis 12:2-3;
1. And I will make you a great nation
2. And I will bless you,
3. And make your name great;
4. And so you shall be a blessing;
5. And I will bless those who bless you,
6. And the one who curses you I will curse
7. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.
THAT is the blessing that fell upon Abraham and if we are to believe the Word of God - THAT is the blessing coming our way if we have faith! Now I must admit that my religious background hasn't been very pre-disposed to the idea of God actually being passionate about "blessing me abundantly". My initial upbringing was very much instruction on how sinful we were and then my time in Bristol was far too dominated by my now-hated phrase; "Better than I deserve". So you can see I struggle with this. Yes I believe God is ABLE to bless (but as Rob Rufus points out - that isn't faith at all. Even demons believe God is ABLE). Faith is believing God is WILLING to bless!
Even the recent "Preaching the Cross" edited by Dever, Duncan, Mohler et al spoke out against this saying;
"We further deny that any teaching that offers health and wealth as God's assured promises in this life can be considered a true gospel".
Well I understand they may be reacting against health and wealth and the prosperity gospel which teaches that health and wealth is a reward for your faith. But this is different. This is faith in an abundantly generous God who pours out health and wealth among other blessings as a display of His sovereign affection and love for His people. But now I have started to process this awesome revelation - I've started to see it everywhere! For instance Ern Baxter was speaking on "The King, the Kingdom and the Holy Spirit" while I was driving back from London and he said;
"God makes us millionaires to prosper the kingdom of heaven!".
I can hear the evangelical "winces" even as I typed this! But we need to get away from the discomfort with money. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 10:19: "Money answers everything". It's the LOVE of money that is the root of evil! If we start to realise that we are simply stewards of God's blessing and that He has given it to us for the blessing of the nations then it is a whole new perspective, just as if we realise that He empowers us to do signs and wonders and healings for others and not to promote ourselves.
Rob Rufus had such an amazingly helpful perspective on prosperity in his sermon "Established in the Gift of Righteousness - Part 2". It's helpful because I think traditionally the perception was that health and wealth teachers received this "blessing" and ended up with private jets and Rolls-Royces. If you see that God has given you this prosperity as a free and undeserved blessing then how can you squander it in such a way while thousands die in Africa? You can't and you won't surely! Rob said;
"We need to develop in 2009 a receptive attitude - an attitude of receptivity to the goodness and blessings of God. Let's get out of this thing - well I've got enough now! My job pays for my rent, food and travel. That is like living in slavery! The land of "just enough"! God is El-Shaddi - the God who is "more than enough"! Blessing after blessing after blessing! God wants to bless us so that the nations will fear Him!
God wants to release millions of dollars into this church so we will invade the nations and so we will bless! Money says to land; "I can buy you!". Money says to buildings; "I can buy you!". Money says to missionaries; "I can pay you". Money says to the poor; "I can feed you". Money says to the wealthy that God is not against money - He is against the love of money. I don't love money - I love Jesus! I tell you people in this hour who are not greedy are going to be entrusted with the stewardship of great wealth because we will not consume it upon ourselves but release finances to feed the poor and help as the economic downturn gets worse - we are just going to get better!
God will bless your job and bless you with FAR MORE than just to pay your rent! We are not going to finance the gospel in these last days just by salary! Salary will not be enough! It's got to be more! You will find money just coming in - all your richest uncles and aunties are going to die!
Having a receptive attitude means to be living with a confident expectation of good coming into your life. Every day I have got to discipline my mind to stop the negativity, the foreboding, the sense of dread, the sense of this could happen or that could happen, or that loved one could die, or this may happen. This could happen to my church or that could happen to me. I have got to live with a spirit of receptivity - a confident expectation of God that I have come into fulness of grace and from that fulness of grace I am receiving one blessing after another!".
And finally I was interested to see that C Peter Wagner even addressed this in a book of his that I have read recently called "Dominion! How Kingdom Action Can Change the World";
"One of the most effective devices Satan has used to keep the Church from being ready to receive a great transfer of wealth is the pernicious influence of the spirit of poverty. The church in general has been seriously deluded with the widespread notion that piety is closely related to poverty ... (poverty) and many other disasters are termed "curses" (in Deuteronomy 28)".
This all makes so much sense to me. The majority of my frustration with not having enough finances is because there is so much I want to "do" with it. I long to pay for a much needed loft-conversion for Pete and his family, I long to give to help Scott's family out, I long to pour thousands into China to see City Church International's much longed for hospices raised up and precious and dying children cured. I don't want a new car particularly - my little Ford Ka (called "Abi" after it's previous owner - my friend!) gets me from A to B quite speedily!
I love Rob's perspective - and by the way let me say that this hasn't been released on my life ... yet! But this is something I am now in the position of believing and seeing. The true Gospel of grace means that God is FOR us and is abundantly passionate about us!
"Money says to land; "I can buy you!". Money says to buildings; "I can buy you!". Money says to missionaries; "I can pay you". Money says to the poor; "I can feed you". Money says to the wealthy that God is not against money - He is against the love of money".
Let's get considering Abraham!