You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free
What does Scripture teach About Prosperity and Persecution?
[Acknowledgement to the person who published this image]
ON THIS PAGE:
· Facebook Post November 2018: WHAT DOES SCRIPTURE TEACH ABOUT PROSPERITY AND PERSECUTION?
· Facebook Post 28 February 2017: CAN SUFFERING HAVE MORE BENEFITS THAN PROSPERITY HAS, AS JESUS ILLUSTRATED AND TAUGHT THROUGH SCRIPTURE?
Facebook post March 2021:
MANY BELIEVERS CRY, “WE NEED HELP! THE MORE WE TRY TO SERVE JESUS, THE HARDER IT GETS!”
Parallels drawn from the Book of Zephaniah, describes God’s care for His true children in a time of affliction. The Almighty God, Creator of the universe, promises that He will quiet us with His love! He will comfort us in our griefs. Isaiah 53:4 declares, “Jesus has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” So, those who “sow in tears [now] will reap in joy [for all eternity!]” (Ps. 126:5, KJV.) The Righteous Judge will deal with all those who afflict His true believers! (Zeph. 3:18-19.) He will gather those who were driven out or rejected for His Name’s sake. What believers suffer now is not by happenstance or merely by circumstance. We have the immense privilege to know that our Father in heaven sends out His angelic armies to protect and defend us in His almighty power, so we can understand that He is in control of every moment of our lives.
When our ‘hearts’ are prepared and the time is right, His work will be suddenly done. That is when, while we watch, He will return the captives that were stolen, (Zeph. 3:20.) We will plainly discern His hand in everything. He will disable our enemies; break their power; blast their councils, and force them to surrender the prey and the things they took. What unrepentant people don’t realize is that “God will sweep those who afflict us out like dirt is swept from our homes to the dunghill,” to settle those who desire to know Him in His purifying, protecting will. That is why Jesus taught us to pray, “Let Your will be done [in all perfection] on earth [or in our hearts, minds, and lives,] as it is in heaven!” What man sees as difficulty, God sees as emotional growth in Him to glorify His Name, (Heb. 5:8.)
The way to get clear of evil and trouble and to prepare our minds, (our free will, true knowledge of His Word, and emotions,) is to keep clear of sin. Trouble has no real hold on those who obey God’s Word, (Rom. 12:1-3; 1 Jn. 5:18, KJV.) 1 John 2:1-3 say, “If anyone [stumble in] sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ [our Eternal High Priest] the Righteous.” If we, in submission to the Holy Spirit and in obedience to His Word, repent from sin, trouble will cease. Of course, we live in a broken world and will always be afflicted by those who “are in the power of the evil one,” (1 John 5:19,) but if we rely on Him, Jesus will help us when and where we cannot help ourselves. When we stumble, we will fall into the hands of God Whose mercies are great; not in the hands of men, who has no mercy. As the cause of stumbling is dealt with in His power, consequence will also cease and the Almighty One will save us from calamity! Then, He will heal the deep cuts of disgrace with honor! Discredit and reproach shall be rolled way. Even those who despise us will respect us, (Zeph. 3:20.) And so, He will put honor upon the dishonored, (Deut. 26:19,) so that we can live as a holy people unto the Lord; called from darkness into His marvelous light, (1 Pt. 2:9-10.) All these promises from Zephaniah point towards Jesus, Who eventually turns everything that was intended for bad, “to good for those who love God,” (Rom. 8:28.)
“So, when things are bad, fear not they will worsen, but hope they will mend; frighten not yourself upon every occasion. Despair not. Misfit not yourself for your work and the battle you face by giving in to fear and doubt. Pluck up your courage, (Heb. 12:12.) Lift up your hands in prayer to God. Stand on the fact that Jesus promised to banish your griefs and fears. Sooner or later, in His timing and will, He will put an end to your trouble and distress and the calamities you have been groaning under. Grievances that remain are afflictions to assist character growth, not punishments. God will recover your liberty and your strife and difficulties will be overcome.” [M.H. Commentary.]
Thus, 1 Peter 4:12-19 encourages us, “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you, but rejoice…” The problem with confusion concerning suffering is not that believers will suffer for righteousness, but that they were so polluted by the ‘prosperity’ doctrine and humanism that they think they must live in a heaven here on earth. But Jesus commanded us to “heap up [everlasting] treasures in heaven,” because everything on earth will tarnish and perish. The devil hates our focus on the truth of God’s Word for that leads to obedience to Jesus, which is “heaping up treasures in heaven,” where the enemy cannot steal or destroy them, or murder us emotionally or physically, (John 10:10.) Jesus came to bring us life in abundance. “…If anyone suffers as a believer in Jesus Christ, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgement to begin at the house of God. And if it begins with us first, what will the end be of those who do not obey the Gospel of Christ?” Paul answered that question in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12, “[Jesus will return] with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord…”
Now, if the righteous one is scarcely saved, [or narrowly through grace and obedience to Jesus,] where will the ungodly [Christians] and [worldly] sinners appear?” To put His ‘house’ in order, God is allowing a terrible shaking in the lives of those who sincerely confess His Name. The time to hide in the pews is over. For all those who are preparing themselves for The Day of Jesus’ return, the truth that “all those who desire to live Godly will be persecuted,” (2 Tim. 3:12,) has become a reality. In fact, if we do not experience the devil’s interference in our lives, we are not on The Way, or in The Truth and Life; the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible.
Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 1:3-11, “Blessed be the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God… In Asia we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life… that we should not trust in ourselves but in God Who raises the dead, and Who delivered us from so great a death…” He continued in 2 Corinthians 4:9-14, “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… Knowing that He Who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Him…”
WHAT DOES SCRIPTURE TEACH ABOUT PROSPERITY AND PERSECUTION?
I am stunned by the proliferation of occult visualization and positive confession that guide millions of believers. “It’s supernatural,” (because it lets us jump over the water and the fire: POW!”) is not the Real Supernatural of God, (“I will be with you as you pass through the water and the fire,” Isa. 43:2.) The Holy Spirit and His Gifts and Work are real, but He never works outside the firm framework of Biblical Truth. To say, “Not everything God does is in the Bible,” thus we “nullify” our prayers by stating, “Let Your will be done,” is a blasphemous deception. The Only Way to “resist the devil so he will flee” is to “submit to God;” humble ourselves before Him, and repent from immorality, (Jam. 4:7-10; 5:16-18; Jn. 13:34, KJV.)
Of course we must never submit to evil. We must “withstand” it, warn others about its dangers, and physically flee from it if possible. But in practice, to “Let Your will be done as it is in heaven,” [God’s perfect will in our lives,] is praying for God to do whatever is necessary to “let His Kingdom come” in our hearts or human spirits, where His Spiritual Kingdom is seated “on earth,” (Jn. 18:36; 3:16; 1 Ths. 5:23, KJV.) This is God’s will for us so we can be a testimony on earth to His omnipotence (all-might,) omniscience (all-knowing,) and omnipresence (ever-presence) in whatever comes our way.
We obey this prayer Jesus taught us to pray by first seeking the will of God for every particular situation. This is obedience to Jesus’ commandment, “Seek first the Kingdom of God [or God as your highest priority] and His righteousness, [obey His Moral-law commandments,] and all these things, [not riches but necessities such as food, water, and clothing — read this verse in the context of the previous verses,] will be added [or given] to you,” (Mt. 6:25-34!)
According to what God is accomplishing in our lives at any given moment, “there is a time to [fight, flee, or submit…] to heal or die… Weep or laugh, mourn or dance, gain or lose, keep silent or speak, war or have peace… But whatever God does shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it or taken away…” (Eccl. 3:1-14.) We can never be safer anywhere on earth than when we are in God’s will for that situation – even if it calls for our suffering and/or physical death, (Rev. 12:11.) Although, as far as humanly possible, we must not suffer outside His will. We, just as all other creatures, are precious in His sight, (Mt. 22:36-40.) God takes meticulous care of even the birds, grass, and lilies of the field, and we are more precious than they! (Mt. 6:26 — the context of Mt. 6:33, “He will add all these [necessities] unto us!”)
So, we must NOT adhere to what is NOT written in the Bible, even if such “my-will-solutions” do bring gratification to our needs and wants. Jesus warned, “He who rejects Me and does not [obey] My Words, has that which judges him: the Word that I have spoken will judge him in the Last Day, [at Jesus’ return or at death,] (Jn. 12:48.)
How is it possible that believers can suffer and die and be in God’s will? Didn’t Jesus accomplish every single thing we might need in our place on Golgotha, and in Him, we have the power to fully overcome the devil? (Col. 2:9-15.) Certainly. But practically, it doesn’t work the way Prosperity and Faith Teachers taught us. Throughout Scripture, it remains a fact that if we do not suffer persecution for righteousness, (not for our sin,) there is something dreadfully wrong with our lives in Christ. 2 Timothy 3:10; (KJV,) warned, “All those who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
Research the following in your own Bible in Hebrews Chapter 11. By ordinary steadfast, trusting faith, although it might not “feel” as if we are in God’s will if we obey Him, we are perfectly safe. This is not ‘hyper-faith,’ powered by Christianized visualization and positive confession, but the kind of faith that begins small. However, once established in good soil or our true commitment to Christ, true faith grows so big it remains immoveable while it can “move mountains,” (Mt. 17:20.) Not the so-called “mountains that hinder super wealth and power.” Jesus was speaking about the kind of “mountains” that hinder us to look beyond all trouble and suffering to keep our eyes on eternity, no matter what befalls us in this world.
By decided, stone-cold mustard-seed faith and not Christianized/occult visualization and positive confession, “Abraham obeyed when he was called [out of the world and in modern terms, out of false church religion,] to the place [where it would be possible] to receive [his eternal] inheritance [in heaven.] By faith he dwelt [in the world] as in a foreign country… for he waited for the city which has [eternal] foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God… [All the martyrs mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11] desired a better, that is, a heavenly country…” They were “heaping up treasures in heaven.”
The 1991 Spirit Filled Bible Comment on Hebrews 11:35-38, (beware modern versions of this Bible,) says, “The fact that some believers were delivered while others were tortured in various ways, shows that [true Biblical] faith does not provide an automatic exemption from hardships, trials, and tragedy. The experience of such difficulties does not mean that those undergoing them possess less faith than others who are not afflicted in the same way. The same faith that enables some to escape trouble enables others to endure it, and enables some to escape death while others die in martyrdom. Faith is not a bridge over troubled waters, but a pathway through them… The heroes of faith are not spectators watching us from heaven; rather their lives are witnesses to us, [how to overcome persecutions of all kinds, read 1 Cor. 10:6-13.]
“Our lives are likened to a battle and a race through which we must “endure afflictions to keep the faith,” (2 Cor. 20:3-6; 2 Tim. 4:3-8; Mt. 24:11-14.) We are to lay aside anything that hinders our progress. The runner must not look to other contestants [and compare his emotional growth, wealth, happiness, etcetera, to worldly or false church standards,] but must ever keep his eyes fixed on Jesus… Suffering does not mean God is unconcerned about our welfare.” In fact, suffering shows the direct opposite. Jesus is preparing, also through divine discipline, all His obedient, true children to share eternity with Him, (Heb. 5:8.)
Through it all, we can be certain that, if we remain at His feet, as the Perfect Father, God Jesus remains the “Author and Finisher of our faith, (Heb. 12:1-11.) Thus, we need to see all suffering under His control as correction, not as loveless abuse. I wonder where a so-called “mighty man” like Paul of the Bible would have spent eternity if God allowed him to move the terrible affliction, that mountain of suffering, which was purposed by Jesus to help Paul remain humble at His feet? (2 Cor. 12:7-10.) Paul shared that experience so that we all can learn from it.
That is why I believe, the praises Paul and Silas sang in the dungeon with their feet chained in stocks, after they were stripped naked and beaten badly, went something like this, ‘We praise You Lord of All, our God, Savoir and Deliverer, for You are here with us in this dark hole... Therefore, we do not love our lives even unto death, for it is well, it is well with our souls!’
“And suddenly… all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosened…” because that was God's will for that situation in the lives of Paul and Silas, (Acts 16:22-34.) If God did not release them so miraculously from prison at that moment, surely, God would have had another plan for them there. Nothing ever happens “by chance” in the lives of true believers. For instance, I can testify that since ‘I am known by Him,’ I never spent a night in hospital, that God did not have someone waiting there to either meet Him personally, hear His true Gospel, or was praying for encouragement. I share my experience to prove that, if we had to spend time in jail and we made ourselves available to God like Paul and Silas did, we can be sure that Jesus would do the same for us although it might not be as spectacular as in their case, so that His “will can be done” and His Highest, Most Holy Name can be glorified. Isn’t He the Miraculous God Who turns everything the devil intends for evil into good?
CAN SUFFERING HAVE MORE BENEFITS IN SO MANY UNSEEN WAYS THAN ‘PROSPERITY’ HAS, AS JESUS TAUGHT AND ILLUSTRATED THROUGH SCRIPTURE?
If we do not define ‘prosperity’ from Jesus’ viewpoint and commandments, we will be greatly deceived. Completely against nature; against human reason; against all the rules of church and society, the commandment of Jesus to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul or mind, and all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself,” makes no allowance for serving God and Mammon, or the god or pleasure, wealth, and worldliness. Repenting and fleeing from GREED is therefore not really a choice where Jesus’ believers are concerned. We really, truly, cannot love and serve two masters. We will either hate the one and love the other. No matter how hard churches try to convince us otherwise, God and the world-system of SELF and GREED are incompatible, opposing, conflicting, and totally irreconcilable. That is why, focusing on eternal life in heaven, Jesus and all His true disciples throughout the ages saw all life on this side of the grave as temporal and passing. No matter how rich we are, we never own anything or anyone here, as everything is merely entrusted to us for a little while. We do not live in an eternal kingdom in the here and now; we live in a state of stewardship here. “For we ALL have to appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body [of Christ, and in this life...] whether good or bad,” (Rom. 5:10.) This life is a place where we have to fully live for God, in God, and through God, but this place is not our eternal home.
Yet, we easily become so attach to our temporal life, (our position, achievements, loved ones, and possessions) that we ignore, discard, twist and neglect our eternal lives in heaven. Most, even knowing very well that God is a reality, still try to replace life eternal with temporal prosperity as if life on this side of the grave is all there is. They are only deluding themselves. The ONLY truth concerning our lives in this world and the next, is to be found in the Truth of the Living Word of Christ. Even though Emperors like China’s mighty Ch’ing buried all his servants and guardians with him, and made terracotta replicas of his entire army to serve, guard and guide him to, and in the afterlife, they still had to perish physically, to face God’s eternal judgment without Christ. We take absolutely nothing out of this world. Everything physical, which we work so hard for; strive, fight, covet, lie, deceive, manipulate, cheat, live and die for, will have to stay behind. All we will take with us to the afterlife will either be eternal suffering and sorrow in hell without Christ, or our own, and the eternal spirits of those, whom we loved enough to tell, teach, warn, and help to find and follow Jesus to the end, (Mt. 28:19-20.) Of all the saviors known to man, there is only One Who rightly calls Himself The Resurrection and The Life!
Problem is, we are all SO earth-bound in SO many ways that without suffering, disappointment, and rejection, we will never be weaned from this temporal world to truly live for Christ. In this too, we live by our personal choices — and of course, the choices of other people that affect our lives. But in every situation, we have the immense privilege to decidedly obey Jesus and follow Him as far as humanly possible DESPITE our situations — or we can choose to deny Him and cling to diseased things and people, (Mt. 10:37-38.) One thing we always have to seriously consider. Everything and everyone will pass away and One Day, we will have to face God all alone anyway. So, should we choose to follow Jesus despite our suffering, we can be certain that He will return for each of us, “To give you who are troubled rest... when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who do not know God, AND on those who do not obey the Gospel of Christ...” (2 Ths. 1:1-12.)
As a result, the only sane thing where temporal ‘prosperity’ is concerned is to focus on what God, the Savior, Redeemer, Blessor and Judge of all humanity has to say about it. In all types of suffering, no matter how bad, we still have a choice where our lives in this dimension and the next are concerned. Jesus commanded in Revelation 3:11, “...Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown [or eternal life!]” Thus, our eternal lives are our personal responsibility! We can either choose to grumble, (and I am not excluding constant petitions to God’s throne for Him to manifest His power and work over us and in our lives,) or we can praise Him – not because we are suffering, but for knowing that He will ‘work all things for good for those who love’ and follow Him because He is God, and the Only True Answer to everything we must face in this life. Jesus promised in John 8:12, “Whoever [choose to] follow Me will never walk [or live] in darkness [although he might be physically imprisoned or tortured,] but will have the Light of Life.” On the other hand, should we choose to simply moan hopelessly disgruntled all the time, bitterness and discontent will creep up on us, and we might become rebellious towards God because we do not focus on the outcome, but remain fixated on the problem.
Peter seriously and soberly reminded us in 2 Peter 2:18-22, “[No matter who they are, do not regard those who] speak great swelling words of emptiness, [or empty promises of prosperity by which] they lead astray… the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error [or sin.] While they promise liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption. For by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, (Rom. 12:1-3,) they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning…”
Once we reach this point where we are entangled by ‘those who live in error,’ or unrepentant sin, we are in danger of losing sight of eternity and become like Esau, who traded His eternal life in heaven for a measly gratification of the flesh in the here and now, (Heb. 12:16.)
So, except for teaching us to prefer heaven to prosperity on earth, how else does suffering benefit us?
· Suffering makes us see life like Jesus sees it – and described it in the contextual Truth of His Word.
· Suffering teaches us that the grace, Power and Word of Jesus are real and true.
· Suffering delivers us from illusions to see the reality of the world we live in, (1 Jn. 5:19,) ourselves, and other people.
· Suffering softens our hearts to the needs of others; and gives us ethical and eternal values, which those who hardly ever suffer, will never have.
Even Jesus, in His full humanity, had to learn how to perfectly obey His Moral Law of love from his human standpoint, although He was perfect and sinless. Not because He needed correction as He Is eternally God Himself, (Col. 2:9,) but as an example for all His true disciples, who choose to DIE to selfishness, sin, and temporal gratification while keeping their sights on our Almighty Father in heaven.
· What do the Two Swords in Lu. 22:36 represent? (“Sell your cloak to buy a sword”)