44 “And all that believed were together, and had all things common;45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:44-47
34 “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.” Hebrews 10:34-35
24 “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” 1 Corinthians 10:24
I have absolutely zero interest in macro economic policy. I am neither a capitalists, nor a socialist, nor a communist. I am a Bible-believing Christian, and thus, I want ALL of my thoughts and opinions to be searched and refined by the fire of God’s word. I am not concerned about America or the American way. It has led to countless men and women forsaking their families to chase mammon and worldly glory…instead seeking of a quiet, humble, godly life, loving our precious little ones and caring for our spouses. I have been deep in the heart of the seemingly innocuous machine of capitalism, and felt its tear…ripping my heart away from the things of God…slowly, subtlety, and all in the name of “protecting my family’s future.” One thing is certain – IT WILL ALL BURN (2 Peter 3:7-13). Therefore, as we finish our time on this earth, let us consider the reality of forever, where we will rule and reign in paradise with Jesus Christ, and may we turn our hearts from this wicked and dying world, to his everlasting kingdom, to a continuing city, one whose builder and maker…is God. (Heb.11:10; 13:14)
In Revelation 3, God paints us a clear portrait of the state of many churches today, and it isn’t pretty:
14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness…15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Revelation 3:14-19
That…is an ugly, but realistic picture of much of western Christianity, which greedy and power-hunger charlatans have spread all across the world – all in the name of Jesus. Wealth and temporal success, along with a focus on our emotional needs (rather than turning our eyes to the One who loves us and gave His body to be beaten and broken for us), seems to be the predominant message in the worship style and teaching of these “churches.” The pastors often seem to be more interested in generating emotional highs and in building their own brands, rather than in building and promoting the eternal brand of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately for these wolves, sound, biblical exposition doesn’t give them what they truly want…money, book deals, speaking engagements, and influence. I have heard horror stories from truly needy believers who have asked some of these churches for just a little bit of help…for food or clothes…but were denied. THAT…is ugly and will not go unpunished. All of us need to test our hearts with scripture when it comes to being free with our resources, and I need to be first in that line.
Below I am going to quote several passages of scripture which illustrate exactly how believers should relate to one and other when it comes to material things. I most certainly am not anywhere close to where I need to be with this, but my heart has been pricked by these truths, therefore, I am seeking the Lord’s help to conform my life to His word. Again, these verses do not apply to governments. I do not trust any government to take my money and distribute it equitably – not now, not ever. We have seen that fail time and time again. These passages are simply provided so that we may test our hearts in the bright-light of scripture by considering both the ways of the early church, and the needs of the believers in our lives. Caring for the needs of the brethren, and especially the poor, will not go unrewarded:
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.Acts 2:44-47
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. Acts 4:32-35
29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.Acts 11:29-30
As the passages above indicate, those in the the early church had no interest whatsoever in storing up cash or goods for themselves. They trusted God, and they trusted each other…and the church multiplied. If only it could be like that again! I fear that we won’t see it until the millennial reign, largely because the deep-rooted tare of greed seems to spring up quickly, even amongst believers.
The passage below reminds us that Jesus left the incomparable glory and beauty of heaven (See, Ezekiel 1), to live a dirty, sweaty, hungry life, in order to redeem us from the sin from which we could never redeem ourselves. Paul uses Jesus, the one who had no place to rest his head (Luke 9:58), as an illustration of how we should relate to one another in the matter of giving and receiving:
9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. 2 Corinthians 8:9-16
That…is a challenging scripture, especially in light of the willful suffering and poverty Jesus experienced while here on earth solely to save us from an eternity in hell. No one followed his example better than Paul.
At one point, Jesus had to explain to a disappointed multitude that, John the Baptist,as a harbinger for the king of the next world (Jesus), had no interest in wearing fancy clothes or in drawing people to his message of repentance, via the flesh. Isaiah 52:14-15; along with chapter 53, also teach us that Jesus always intended to come in humility and reproach, so that he would not attract people to him by the flesh…but through the power of his spirit. Make no mistake, Jesus was all-powerful while on earth (John 3:35; Col.1:15-20; Col. 2:9), yet he was humble and meek enough to wash the filthy, dust crusted feet of his friends.
Below, Jesus teaches us that John the Baptist, who was the greatest man born of women, and the primary herald and prophet of the one true Savior, did not conform himself to the patterns of this world, but separated himself unto God. We WILL all live in king’s palaces…but not quite yet:
25 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts.26 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.27 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. Luke 6:25-28
Paul also warns us about liars who equate godliness with financial gain. He savages their outrageous perversion of the truth, and then instructs us to withdraw from them. He then proceeds to teach us the proper attitude towards material possessions:
3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 1 Timothy 6:3-8
It is interesting that the passage above, teaching us to “withdraw” from those who equate godliness with financial gain, is edited heavily in the new Bible versions. Satan knew that in the end times, “pastors” and “prophets” would rise up, teaching their precious little flocks that, if they would just sow their financial seed to them, then they would get rich. As I have seen first hand, many trust those destructive lies. Why? I believe that it is due to a general ignorance of the Bible, greed, and a lack of diligence when it comes to studying the history of our Bible versions. Therefore, most christians have no idea that we are actually told by Paul, in no uncertain terms, to “withdraw” from those who equate monetary success to Jesus Christ. (see,A Brief History of the Bible Version Issue).
Jesus had no place to rest his head. Paul died penniless and in prison, after having suffered countless deprivations: beatings, shipwrecks, and days and nights of starvation. He suffered even to the point of seeking death while in Asia Minor (2 Corinthians 1:8-10). Yet in all those things, he was able to find contentment and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ:
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.20 Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Philippians 2:11-20
Our goal, as true Bible believers, is to run the earthly race God has given us with the joy and peace of the Lord(Acts 20:24), so that we are not ashamed at his appearing (1 John 2:28). Every single one of us will have to give an account of our lives to Him (2 Corinthians 5:9-11), and for me, that is intimidating. I know He loves me, and I long for him to be pleased with my thoughts and deeds. Yet only his Spirit can destroy the ways of my flesh…so I press on in Jesus Christ and His glorious word, as Paul taught us so beautifully and powerfully in Philippians 3:
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:7-14
My purpose for this article is to challenge both myself, and all who claim Jesus Christ as their Savior, with scripture, as it relates to: 1) how we truly view money, and 2) the clever, worldly lies of the American economic machine. Many of us proclaim Christ, yet in the deep places of our hearts, we are trusting in and living for mammon. We can never replace the time lost with our precious families due to excessive time on the golf course and while chasing the next big deal on a never-ending carousel of business trips. We cannot replace the time lost loving the brethren or sharing the gospel boldly, as the Lord leads us. Once this life is done, every single one of us will look back and wish that we had spent more time and energy building up treasure in heaven, where moths and rust can’t destroy and where thieves can’t break in and steal. Often it seems that we connect with the idea of eternity on a general, intellectual level, yet it doesn’t seem to carry over to our hearts, or affect the way we live.
My hope and prayer is that the scriptures above will light a fire under all of us, not so that we blindly and foolishly sell everything and go live on the streets, but so that we will search our hearts diligently, in order to discover where our treasure truly is…because where your treasure is, their your heart will be also. May we all, at the end of this short life, be able to boldly and truly proclaim:
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8
A few more articles that may be of interest:
Tithing and the New Testament Church
The Beauty and Power of the Written Word of God
The Purpose of Life, According to Paul
9 thoughts on “Capitalism, The Early Church, and the Heart of A Believer”
Another good sound exhortation. Thank you for that.
In a day where most preachers spend their efforts explaining away the Scriptures (or twisting them to their own benefit) it’s nice to hear someone encourage others to accept the writings of our Lord and his Apostles at face value; and to have the audacity to suggest that we should actually take them to heart and LIVE BY THEM!
You are quite right on the significance of the removal of the words ‘from such turn away’. It is truly satanic, and robs us of much-needed instruction. Another ‘edit’ I see as significant is the way 1Peter 5:5 has been altered.
1Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
The removal of the words ‘yea, all of you be subject one to another’ in the modern versions caters to the perversion of hierarchical structuring that has overtaken the Western Church. Jesus forbade such a ‘pyramiding’ of authority in the Body of Christ; he said:’ it shall NOT be so among you!’ (Matt. 20:25-26). The elders among us are not to be Overlords who by right of position are above correction by those supposedly ‘sitting under them’. We are ALL to be subject one to another, and open to correction from whatever source the Lord choses.
But where can you find a ‘pastor’ in the American Church who would even listen to a rebuke or exhortation from a lowly attendee who has not risen up through the channels of religious education and accreditation and attained status as ‘clergy’? If there is such a bird it is truly an endangered species!
These alterations to the Scriptures have altered the beliefs and behavior of those who have accepted the perverted versions. Many would dispute that statement but I believe it to be absolutely true. Water-down the Bible and you water-down the Church that uses that Bible!
Thank you for the stand you have taken on this issue. I always look forward to your posts. May the Lord greatly bless your efforts.
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I had never seen the 1 Peter 5:5 change and agree wholeheartedly that it was an intentional edit by Westcott, Hort and their collaborators, to affirm catholic practices, as we have seen in many of the other changes to the new version Greek and English (Acts 8:37-believers baptism deleted/put in doubt; 1 Cor. 1:18- We ARE saved. It is not a process; James 5:16-we confess our FAULTS to each other, and our sins to God Heb. 4:16, etc. The new version rendering affirms the confessional booth and negates the need to approach the throne of grace boldly). Thanks again for your encouragement my friend.
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Reblogged this on DiscernIt.
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Good article brother. I agree with you on not identifying with labels such a capitalist, socialist, or communist. I see too many Christians identify themselves as Democrat, Republican, Calvinist, and this list goes on, but they don’t openly profess and identify themselves as a Bible-believing or Born-again Christian. What we identify ourselves as will be the thing that guides our life the most.
You are correct that “all” of us should look at ourselves in regards to how we view money and materialistic things. Too many of us Christians in Western countries hold our social economic status in high regard rather than seeing things from The Lord’s perspective. Look what our brothers and sisters in countries that our very hostile against Christ go through and they don’t have the comforts of living like we do, but yet they love The Lord with great sincerity. I keep challenging Christians in America on how is it that Christians in places like China, India, North Korea, Africa, and the Middle East put their lives on the line spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and will not deny Jesus even when they are faced with death, but we Christians in America are afraid to tell people about Jesus and the worst we can face is them not liking us. Something is wrong with this picture?
Stay strong in The Lord Jesus Christ my brotha!
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Great comment, and it is always good to hear from my true brotha from Cali. I’m looking forward to hanging out in person….on the other side. Keep fighting that good fight.
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Shared! Enjoyed your post!
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One thing that would be helpful for every American Christian is to live in a Third World country for a few years, or even a few months. My wife and I went overseas just a few months after we got married, and when we returned to the U.S. after three years, financial giving was something that we did very joyfully and have continued to do throughout our marriage. I would say that along with being out in God’s creation, financial giving is one of the most joyful ways for me to worship.
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That’s a great point. Three weeks in Russia in the early 90’s changed my perspective on America and the things we take for granted, forever. Being in a true 3rd world country for a prolonged period of time would be even better. We are a vain and spoiled nation. We don’t need nearly as much to be happy as the rest of the world. Family is much more important to Europeans (western and eastern) then accumulating a bunch of stuff we rarely use. Thanks for chiming in bro!
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