Newsletter #92

 

 

Where Does Money Come From?

 

All of us enter this world buck naked, wet, ugly, and bawling. We are totally helpless as newborns; we'll need the care of family and community for many years. Finally it will be our turn to die and we each check out of this present life one by one. "It is appointed for man to die once, but after that the judgment," says the writer of Hebrews (9:27). Whether we were poor or rich, whether famous, or an unknown, we each leave this life with nothing. We'll be flat broke. [1]

 

Human beings do not do well living in complete isolation from one another, we need to grow up in families and hang out with friends and peers. It's healthy for us to know people who are not in our own age group and people from other cultures and religions.  And so on...

 

At a very early age we begin to interact with others in all manner of different ways. Gradually we come to see ourselves as unique. God has made no clones and He has built tremendous versatility and adaptability into each of us. He does ask that we learn to get along. Jesus told His followers, "...love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust..." (Matthew 5:44-46) For several years as infants we receive, but aren't able to give much back. (We are all plenty selfish, too, as our parents and siblings soon tell us). As we grow up we see that living in the world is about work, and recreation, school, adventure, relationships, and active pursuits suitable to our needs, our spiritual gifts and abilities, and our calling. Early in life, we learn that most people seem to live totally for themselves within their own special-interest groups, showing little regard for outsiders. We ought to realize at an early age that all human beings are born desperately sinful. Not by choice, we were born into a corrupt society where fighting, wars, and selfish rivalries are normative. But, with God's help the story of our brief time on earth can have a happy ending.

 

As we acquire personal possessions and money, an important universal, cosmic principle called "stewardship" begins to kick in. It turns out that we are each accountable to God for how we live our lives, both in terms of our behavior towards God and others, and how we utilize our various resources over our lifetimes. It's the way things are! The universe is a moral place, and we did not write The Book.

 

Our resources include the talents and abilities we were born with, any property and wealth we have been given, plus the assets we have acquired by work or investment. Obviously money flows in and out of our lives as long as we live. Not all if us are good at balancing our checkbooks, or are shrewd in investing money, but we know that cheating on our taxes or dealing with illegal drugs soon gets us in big trouble with the government and with God. Bad things happen to good people all the time; God keeps track of that, too. For now, let's take it for granted that we are stewards over all our domain and that a Day is coming when the Chief Steward will review His books with ours. He will see that we are paid back for the wrong done to us. Widows and orphans get His special attention. It about all of us, too. God is always even-handed and He has no favorites. Briefly put, all the choices in life we make, whether good or bad, have consequences for our gain or for loss. (Commentary: The Consequence Engine, http://ldolphin.org/consequence.html).

 

The usual NT Biblical word "stewardship" combines the Greek word oikos for household and nemos, "to manage."  A steward is a responsible manager of resources entrusted to him, often on behalf of a family or a business.

 

While we usually think of stewardship as how we manage our money, the Bible teaches that other assets we have been given are actually far more important than "unrighteous mammon."   

 

Children are born into our families. They belong to God, yet we have stewardship responsibilities over them until they're old enough to accept responsibility for their own lives and resources. Children should not be brought into this world, let alone discarded before birth, unless we recognize that we adults accept the stewardship responsibility of parenting the children whom God entrusts to our care.

 

Probably our most important stewardship concerns how we make use of our spiritual gifts and our knowledge of God to serve in the advancement of the kingdom of God among men. Among the spiritual gifts given to every Christian, God allows some Christians to be banks and resource centers within the body of Christ. This is part of our responsibility to care for one another in the family of God. (Commentary: See Body Life, http://raystedman.org/bodylife/).

 

In regard to our responsibility as Christians to advance the kingdom of God, the Apostle Paul instructs us,

 

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy [or faithful]. (1 Corinthians 4:1-4, for commentary see http://raystedman.org/1corinthians/3581.html).

 

We are all supposed to work to support ourselves as long as we can, and to help others; Adam was charged with the upkeep of a magnificent garden, and the management of the entire planet as well--and this was before sin entered the world.

 

Even our wages--our money--really comes to us by God's grace as a gift, as Jesus illustrated in several jolting parables. We think we are being paid wages as our just reward for hard work, but Jesus taught that work was an inborn responsibility.  (See Matthew 20:1-16 and Luke 16:1-14, with commentary, "Get Smart With Money," http://raystedman.org/parables/0378.html). 

 

In the parable of the talents, Jesus spoke of a man going away on a long trip who gave three servants one, two and five talents, to keep safe for him while he was gone. The servants who had two and five talents invested and doubled their master's assets. They were praised when the master returned. The man who was given one talent buried it for safe-keeping, and did poorly indeed according to his master's values: "For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’" (Matthew 25:14-30; commentary: http://raystedman.org/olivet/oliv12.html) Thus God is an entrepreneur who expects us to live boldly but responsibly on His behalf, not for our own self-advancement.

 

All of us who live on this planet, by permission of the Landlord, are tenants on property which is owned by Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16). He appointed our forefather Adam to be the original steward of the planet's natural resources. Adam was to care for the plants and animals and resources wisely.

 

What we actually see is that vast majority of our fellow humans live selfish lives, acquiring money, power, wealth in the pursuit of their own private advantage over others.

 

Our planet is now severely polluted and on the verge of ruin. The stewardship of the majority of tenants on this planet is completely unacceptable to the Owner. The environmental movement folks remind us these days that the way we have been living has put our future, and that of our entire race, in grave jeopardy. The Landlord has to come back and set things straight. That will be a violent affair: most people want nothing to do with Jesus or His rule over us.

 

A tiny small minority group on this planet has chosen to follow Jesus. His life style is one of self-giving love. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

 

In the grand scheme of things, those things which have lasting value, persisting beyond this life into the next, are the works we invite Jesus to do in and through us. The life style of Jesus while He was with us 2000 years ago, was radically different from the way we naturally try to live. Jesus never acted on his own resources, but counted on the Father working through Him (Philippians 2) for everything. In fact Jesus accumulated no material resources during His lifetime although He was the owner of everything. He taught that "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24)

 

Everything built by man as we go about acting in independence from God is actually destined for destruction. After we die, we'll soon be forgotten, and the "great things" which we built on our own self-energy will fade away into oblivion:

 

"See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:25-29)

 

As we have noted, when we die and leave this earth, we all die with nothing. Apart from the immediate gift of a resurrection body we'd arrive on the other side naked and certainly very ill at ease (2 Corinthians 5, commentary http://www.raystedman.org/2corinthians/3684.html).

 

Meanwhile while we are here in this present life there is a wonderful heavenly investment program in effect now which allows us to send life's real earnings and dividends on ahead. It is all about investing ourselves and our resources in people not in things.  

 

Jesus also said to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. “So he called him and said to him, ‘What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.’ “Then the steward said within himself, ‘What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. ‘I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.’ “So he called every one of his master’s debtors to him, and said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ “And he said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ So he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ “Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ So he said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ And he said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ “So the master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.

 

“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home. “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? “And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it. “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail." (Luke 16:1-17; commentary, see http://raystedman.org/possessions/0070.html).

 

We who are the followers of Jesus Christ are supposed to be ruled by heaven and to shun the ways of the fallen world system. Many of us have failed rather badly at the task of faithful stewardship of the several categories of resources God has entrusted to us in the present age.

 

But now the signs in the daily news point to the soon return of our very angry Landlord.

 

God is going to invade this earth in force. But what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream, and something else -- something it never entered your head to conceive -- comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us, and so terrible to others, that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature.

It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we have really chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back, to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it. (C.S. Lewis)

 

I have lived long enough to remember the hard years of the depression and the all-out effort required of everyone to win World War II. God was on everyone's minds back then. After the war a great economic boom began and we all fell into the trap of assuming the great American dream of endless upward economic growth and wealth was ours at last.

 

In actuality, God blessed our nation after WW II largely because of the godly behavior of the sizeable community of true Christians who lived here. Our moral values were high, families were mostly intact. All that has gone away now. God can not bless an unrighteous, ungrateful, banal and profane people whose life styles are now at least as pagan as was seen in ancient Canaanite cities whom God ordered the Jews to eradicate when they entered their promised land. (Commentary: see http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qamorite.html).

 

Time management is a big item for us these days--how many of us waste our lives watching TV or movies, ignoring the present crises in our families, our churches, our nation. Apathy and indifference abound (among those who still have jobs at least). Most churches are silent, yet we may actually be witnessing the death of our once great nation. It is Christians alone who have the keys and the resources to change things, if we'll only allow to work through us, and on His terms.

 

We can now answer the question posed above in our title, "Where Does Money Come From?" Money comes God.

 

God is the Author of Life, the Creator of all that is, He's the Sustainer of creation, the Judge of all, and the only real place where forgiveness, mercy and healing can be found in the universe.

 

We need not wonder whose name is on the list of our huge national debts, or our personal debts. The name of Jesus is on all Accounts Payable statements. He audits everything. His accounting and book keeping skills are flawless. We can't possibly pay Him back. What He asks for is for our hearts and minds and allegiance. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart-- These, O God, You will not despise." (Psalm 51:17)

 

...Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.” Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, “that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, “and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice “and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." (John 5:17-20, commentary: http://raystedman.org/john/3845.html and http://ldolphin.org/judgment.html).

 

Down through human history God has judged great nations and allowed them to sink into oblivion. Yet, from time to time He has mercifully, graciously visited various peoples and brought them back to God through repentance, revival and sound Biblical teaching. In other words, it may not be too late for us to repent and see God heal our land. It may now be too late for America to be saved as a nation, but every individual still has a chance to know God and to be saved. Like Israel of old, we Christians are called by the name of the one, true, living God:

 

“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, “then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance. “When there is famine in the land, pestilence or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers; when their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities; whatever plague or whatever sickness there is; “whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: “then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men),“that they may fear You, to walk in Your ways as long as they live in the land which You gave to our fathers." (King Solomon, 2 Chronicles 6:26-31)

 

God has told us in the Bible that He will evaluate the entire world system of religion, commerce, trade, power, riches, and the misuse of His resources. The world-system's entangled evil must be totally replaced, it can not be merely reformed. But, this is the subject of another study.

 

The use and misuse of money, power, resources and influence in the world is discussed in hundreds of places in the Bible. Beyond the basics, one never hears much about this subject from the pulpits of the land in our day. [2]

 

I like to remember one very poor woman who is now highly honored in heaven. In turn this reminds me that God chooses to allow some of His choicest people to live on very modest incomes all their lives. The Bible is very clear about the very great dangers of being materially wealthy.

 

"...Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” (Luke 21:1-4)

 

These brief notes were written for those who have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ here and now. Much of what I have said will seem like foolish nonsense to outsiders who do not as yet enjoy a personal relationship with Jesus.

 

But I don't want you, my non-Christian friends, to keep on believing that your life is set in concrete by fate or destiny and bad habits. God loves each and every one of us. We are all incredibly selfish and sinful. God is well aware of that and has all the answers. We are quite unable to find our way back to God through religious means, or meritorious good deeds or promises to reform. Jesus said it was necessary for each of us to be spiritually reborn, (John 3:1-6, commentary: http://raystedman.org/john/3838.html). Whether we allow this to happen is a matter of choice. A free gift from God is held out to us from God, but that gift is worthless unless we reach out and take it and act upon it, as an act of our will.

 

The God who created everything, including each one of us, is a God of incredible love. He is also holy and just. (Commentary, see http://christian-thinktank.com/whyjust.html and http://christian-thinktank.com/inmyplace.html). Knowing that we would mess up fatally and self-destruct, eventually bring our race and our planet to ruin, the persons of the godhead counseled together before the creation. An eternally-valid cosmic sacrifice for our sins was planned and then carried out by the Son of God. He took on human form 2000 years ago, and then absorbed the sins of each and every one of us into Himself on a cruel Roman cross. In this way, an innocent man became the guilty victim who could be punished in our place once and for all. As far as God is concerned the matter of human sins have been dealt with once and for all.  

 

When we die and leave this world, we'll all stand before this same Jesus, now risen from the dead. At that point in time, the human race divides into two streams. One group, the vast majority, have refused God's forgiveness and mercy all their lives and prefer to spend all of eternity alone apart from a God of love. They'll get their wish and walk away from the presence and influence of God forever. The remaining few, a "remnant" will gratefully fall at the feet of the Lord Jesus and be received into Paradise.

 

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." (1 Timothy 6:7)

 

Notes:

[1] There was a time we did not exist at all, but once God created us, we are all immortal and we'll never cease to exist. We will all exist somewhere, forever. This present life is a staging area, a training ground for those who know Jesus and plan on eternal life with Him.

[2] As a side note, my friends and I who answer email from around the world often receive questions about tithing and principles of Christian giving. For commentary on these subjects see http://ldolphin.org/tithing.html and http://www.raystedman.org/possessions/.

 

OTHER:

 

Very Important Reading:

 

1.        A new British scientific report on Global Warming and CO2 emissions, http://www.ldolphin.org/sensitivity.pdf. This is must reading!

 

2.        Demographics & Depression, by David P Goldman, First Things Journal, helps us see how our country's changing demographics have drastically adversely affected the economy.  http://ldolphin.org/demo.html

 

Classes: Last January I started a series on the Prophet Amos--which was extended to a series lasting ten weeks to include an update on the current world situation. Online in mp3 audio, on my web site, http://ldolphin.org/amos/. God willing ("Should The Lord Tarry") my next series will start June 14 and run ten weeks covering the minor Prophets Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, and Zechariah, all relevant to our time. See http://ldolphin.org/obscure/

 

Health: I am pleased to report that God has answered the prayers of dear friends by restoring my energy and health after last June's pulmonary embolism. I have no doubt about the role of prayer in physical healing and spiritual renewal in my life. Deep thanks for friends who pray.

 

Finances: Probably all of you are probably feeling the effects of the current disastrous national and international economic disaster. There will probably be more to come. My retirement check dropped 34%, or $745 per month, in May putting my income well below current monthly expenses. Other expenses, such as my share of Medicare prescriptions, are much higher this year compared to last. It appears that I may have to sell my home this summer and to try to find a small rental house or garage to live in here in Silicon Valley. I have 4000 books and lots of accumulated items so moving will not be easy. Sadly a good many of my friends are out of work with few job openings. Contributions towards my monthly support can be send to me through PayPal, or mailed to Peninsula Bible Church, 3505 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto, CA 94306, for tax purposes. Be sure and mark your check, "for Lambert Dolphin's account."

 

Contacting Me: I am following world affairs far more closely than ever this year because of the speed of major developments around the world. I believe we are very near the end of the age, which means the Lord Jesus could well return for His church at any time now. Christians in the First Century hoped He would be back in their day. We can't predict the date, but the daily news is full of signs that the Stage of History is now being set for the last act in the history of the age. Up ahead will be a terribly violent time culminating in the return of the Lord Jesus to restore and rebuild His planet and His people.

 

My regular email address is mailto:lambert@ldolphin.org. Questions and discussion can be sent to the Paraclete Forum team, mailto:inquiry@paracleteforum.org. Previous newsletters are on my web site: http://ldolphin.org/news, and articles are listed here: http://ldolphin.org/asstbib.shtml.

 

Lambert Dolphin

May 27, 2009