NO GOOD THING DOES GOD WITHOLD
The good things that God gives to advancing disciples are not just for their own benefit, but have been given to them to be shared with others. Such things are our time, talents, and treasures, with spiritual issues having top priority.
There is a time and a place for Church Age believers to engage in programs that provide humanitarian goods and services, clean up the environment, and that promote social equality and justice.
That being said, such Church-sponsored events and programs should also provide for those present to have their spiritual needs met. Every human soul has the need to be born again (1). Every born-again believer has the ongoing need to be further edified (2).
Perhaps this might be accomplished by setting up an information booth distributing leaflets or manned with people who could respond to any spiritual questions that inquirers attending the events or participating in the programs may want to ask.
Perhaps a ballot box into which a short form with a return address could be made available, providing an inquirer the opportunity to ask and later receive an answer by return mail.
Perhaps posting an email address where inquirers could anonymously ask and receive answers.
If in the process, just one soul attending or participating in the program was saved or edified, then the day’s efforts would indeed have been a success in the eyes of God.
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Miracles are among the good things that God provides. But keep in mind, God is not the only source of supernatural activity (3), or earthly prosperity (4).
Many individuals benefited from the miracles that Jesus performed, as did many who observed them taking place. But many of the benefits received were temporary. By temporary, I mean that they came to an end when the time came for the recipients to depart this world.
Never the less, the divine purpose for these miracles had served their divine purpose. The primary divine purpose for these miracles was, and is, to provide tangible evidence of His deity, giving credibility to His messages.
To the extent that God allows, the forces of evil in the realm of spiritual warfare can produce miracles in order to dispute the messengers of God (5), and or to give credibility to those who do the devil’s bidding (6).
So how is one to know the difference?
When considering the validity of reported miracles, one should not only verify the activity, but should take into consideration the veracity of accompanying message(s) the performers provide. When the miraculous activity itself is not in dispute, one must then ask who or what, as a result of the miracles, is being given the credit and glory.
Is the credit and glory being given to God (7), or is it being diverted to another personality or source (8) outside of the Trinity.
The Christian Community is replete with shrines and statues of human beings who are accredited with having performed, or having been involved, in the production of miraculous activity. No human being, apart from God, can do anything in the spiritual realm (9).
When such miracles did in fact take place, it was the work of God. It is God who is to be given the credit and glory.
The wearing of graven images of departed human beings and or praying to departed human souls for “their” intervention is, at the very least, spiritual adultery (10). Such activity opens the door to idolatry (11).
Jesus' enemies, having rejected His claim of deity, responded to His miracles by accusing Him of collaborating with a ruler of the demons (12), in order to deceive the people.
It was His claim of deity that would eventually get Jesus convicted of what His enemies perceived to be blasphemy.
“But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, "Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One? And Jesus said, "I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven. Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, "What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?" And they all condemned Him to be (guilty of blasphemy and) deserving of death (Mark 14: 61 – 64 NASB parenthesis mine).”
Human beings are focussed on overt activity, especially when it is perceived to provide benefits for them in the here and now. But God and the devil are focused on the impact (if any) that any overt activity is having on the ongoing battle in the spiritual realm, and on the impact (if any) the activity has on what will take place in the future.
Satan is not going to get very upset when God’s people, through human effort, spend their time and resources trying to make his world (13) a better place to live, instead of spending their time and resources promoting the Great commission.
It’s if and when God and or the things of God are brought into the picture that our good deeds light up the devil’s radar screen.
Jesus did not feed, clothe, or shelter ALL the poor of His day. Jesus did not heal ALL of the sick. Jesus did not liberate ALL those under political, social, racial, or domestic oppression.
But what He did do for every member of the past, present, and future generation of the human race, was to atone for their sin, providing them with the means to secure eternal life.
The spiritual needs of those He interacted with was always His top priority. He frequently reminded both friends and foes alike, of the blessings and or the consequences surrounding their chosen response to the Gospel Message. His followers will have the same priority.
Christian organizations and participants in projects that address humanitarian, environmental, political, social, and racial issues are to keep in mind the Mark 8: 36 principles.
“For what does it benefit a person to gain (or to be given) the whole world (everything they want or need here on Earth), and (if he) forfeit(s) his soul (Mark 8: 36 NASB parentheses mine)?”
I’m not saying that such projects are not to be entertained. What I am saying, is that when they are being organized and carried out, the Great Commission that God gave His Church to do should not be neglected.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, (by) teaching them to observe all that I commanded you... (Matt. 28: 19, 20 NASB parenthesis mine).
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Good physical health is a good thing that God provides. There are times however, when such things are not a part of the plan that God has in mind for any given individual.
Discipline and care for the body (that is destined to return to dust) has it’s place and purpose in the here and now. But care and discipline for the soul is much more important, as it is the soul that lives on after it departs the body at the moment of physical death.
Providing for the body without providing for the soul, falls short of the primary work that God gave His Church to do.
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God does not reward His servants by giving them good things for work left undone. How, when, and where the financial contributions received by any local assembly or ministry are invested, reveals much about its
understanding (or misunderstanding) of the primary mission that God gave His Church to do.
Of course, there is the need to secure the logistical support for a ministry to stay afloat. In context, Phil. 4: 19 and Matt. 6: 33 was talking about individual needs, but I believe the principle can be applied to the local assemblies, as well.
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4: 19 NASB).”
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things (you need) will be added to you (Matt. 6: 33 NASB parenthesis mine).”
The general principle of endurance found in Matt. 16: 17- 19 applies to the Church that God designed as a whole.
The Church that God designed is the one that proclaims the unadulterated Gospel Message for salvation and makes disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God) out of born-again believers who attend.
Local assemblies and ministries rise, merge, and fall every day.
Some closings are the result of things (persecution, internal scandals, natural disasters, pandemics) that are beyond the control of the congregations.
Some of these closings are the result of the loss of attendance and the accompanying financial support.
For the advancing disciple, the priority of maintaining his or her source of spiritual nourishment is more important than maintaining his or her source of natural food.
"I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food (Job 23: 12 NASB).”
Accordingly, when it is the lack of a sufficient number of advancing disciples among any given congregation, one should ask what happened. Was/is it the lack of the quantity and quality of the spiritual food being offered by the pulpit, or was it the loss of an appetite for such things on the part of the congregation? Was it the combination of both?
When God our Father closes the doors (or allows the doors to be closed) of any given local assembly or ministry, He does not leave His children out in the cold.
In response to our prayer to receive our daily bread (14), He may close the doors of the local assemblies that are not feeding His flock. When this happens, He will open other doors, so that those displaced will continue to have the means to receive their daily (spiritual) bread of the Word of God.
(1) John 3: 5, 7 (2) 2Pet. 3: 18 (3) Exodus 7: 11 (4) Luke 4: 6 (5) Exodus 7: 11 (6) Matt. 24: 24 (7) Acts 3: 12ff (8) Acts 14:11ff (9) John 15: 5 (10) Rev. 2: 4 (11) Exodus 20: 5 (12) Mat. 12: 24 (13) Luke 4: 6 (14) Matt. 6: 11).
End of Part 3