Thursday, November 17, 2011

'Church' Promotions and Proceeds

Acts 2:44-45, "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."

*Note to the reader: To distinguish the Institutional 'Church' from Christ's Authentic church model, I will be spelling the Institutional 'Church' with a capital 'C.' Christ's church will be rendered in lower case.

Here we see Christ's ekklesia functioning as 'one.' This was a growing community of believers in Christ that realized what was happening around them. They weren't bickering. There weren't any divisions among them at all. Everyone was 'equal' for the most part. The Apostles were doing a good job guiding the lost to a saving knowledge of Christ and they were disciplining them after their salvation as well.

A need arose among the people, for about 3,000 souls were saved in one day (vs 41). Two of the prevalent doctrines of the church was about to be tested. The doctrines of equality and giving. In the eyes of the Lord, no one man was greater than the other in His assembly. From the littlest to the oldest, there was no difference among them. 

God saw a need. There were many people there that lacked. He sees us as His children. What loving parent wouldn't, without thought be sure their children were cared and Provided for? Parents learn this concept from their mom or dad, but initially, we learned it from Him. After the 3,000 were saved, Jesus decided to meet this need. Let's see what He did to move the people to sell everything they had and divide it to every man who had need.

Verses 42-43, says, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles."

Here we see some powerful ingredients to stir up a powerful movement. The first thing that was accomplished was that everyone continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine. In other words, they stayed on course and learned the teaching from the apostles. They didn't let up. I mean, who knew better than the apostles? They were with the Lord for over three years! The Holy Spirit would bring things back to their memories if needed, so that they could teach the oracles of God to His people. The second ingredient was they were just as steadfast continuing in fellowship. They got to know each other and each others needs. The third thing they did was they continually broke bread together. This is important because they were as a family. They didn't fight at the dinner table as we are accustomed to seeing in our day and age. No! They were at peace and in agreement with one another. They were all in one accord. Fourth, they all prayed together, humbling themselves before Jesus.

Just to recap; they steadfastly continued in the apostle's doctrine. They were steadfast in fellowship. They broke bread together all the time, like a family. They prayed together as one. These are the ingredients for what was about to happen. Fear came upon EVERY SOUL! Jesus worked some miracles through the apostles as a sign that He was real. I guarantee you that if you knew you were in God's Holy presence, you'll know FEAR. I'm not talking about 'Scared to death' fear. I'm talking about reverent fear. 

Have you every tried to get someone to open up his wallet and give to someone who had a need he didn't know? It's not as easy as it sounds. Imagine being led to sell all that we own and give it away to people unknown to us. I believe we are narrowing the field here. Now imagine that three thousand people did the same thing in the same number of days. Now, that's a miracle! Why? Because they had a reverent fear of God. It wasn't an intimidation type of fear. It was respectful. You say, "Bro. Bobby; what does this have to do with 'Church' Promotions and Proceeds?" The answer is, absolutely nothing! You'll see my point in a moment.

In it's infancy, the N.T. church (community of believers) ran on Power, not Promotions and Proceeds. Promotions and Proceeds have no Power in and of themselves. We seldom see the miracle of God's Power in the Institutional 'Church' today. I've been on pulpit committees. Believe me, we were supposed to have all things in common and be in one accord, but we were 'far' from it! Why? No Power! All we had were 'Opinions.' That was something we clearly had in abundance. We couldn't agree on anything. We seldom prayed together. We only met two to three times a week at the most. We didn't continue steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine. And we didn't have godly fear. When we did get together, all we did was engaged in 'Opinion Palooza!' I'm sorry to put such a fine point on this but this is the way it is in most Institutional, business-entity 'Churches' today.

Today's 'Church' handles meeting needs a different way. Instead of pleading with God to em-power us to meet the needs of others, we decide to be more, 'Proactive.' We leave God out of it. We think like a corporate structure would. We have a Promotion! I don't remember reading about Promotions in the N.T., do you? But, low and behold, someone comes up with a brain storm! "Praying and fasting; continuing in sound doctrine and constantly breaking of bread is too time-consuming and too much of an effort! Let's get together one day next week and have a Promotion to solve our Problem!" That's what we hear today! The facts are these; Promotions today are fund raisers for Projects, and there's no Power in it!

My former Institutional 'Church' had such a Promotion a couple of years back. They wanted to raise money for a "ministry" which was prevalent in our 'Church.' They came up with, 'Sell Your Unwanted Gold Day.' The idea was to have a 'gold broker' come in on a Saturday and anyone who wanted to sell their unwanted gold for cash would get the market value for it. The broker would then 'donate' 10% of his Proceeds to that ministry. Sounds clever, eh? Well, I wouldn't go that far. People did get the market value, but the gold broker didn't tell them why he was so interested in their gold. He and others in the 'gold business' knew what was coming down the pike. At the time of the sale, gold was going for about $425.00 an ounce. Today, that gold is worth more than $1,600.00 an ounce! I'd say he could afford to 'donate' 10% of his Proceeds, don't you? But that isn't all!

Remember the ministry that was to benefit? Well, it did. But, there was an undercurrent afoot that few realized. This was not a pounding or a collection for the saints in need somewhere else. In this case, no one had a need! Noooo! This was to benefit the local corporate entity's business 'Church.' It seems today that the words 'business' and 'ministry' have become interchangeable. One sounds more accommodating than the other. A business sounds cold and heartless. But, a ministry is compassionate and forgiving. It's easy to give to a ministry. People give to a business when they feel they have to, or perceive they'll get a nice return on their investment. The N.T. church in the book of Acts didn't live that way. They gave out of love for Jesus and one another.

What was this undercurrent I spoke of before? In most Institutional 'Churches', it is taught that when someone gets an income, any income, they are to tithe off of it. Let's say I sold a half an ounce of gold that Promotion day. I would receive from 'Mr. Gold' cash in the amount of $212.50. But guess what? The 'Church' expects $21.25 of that in tithes next Sunday. Take these figures as an average and multiply them by, let's say, one hundred people who participated. That's $2,125.00 extra toward the expenses of the 'Church,' NOT that one ministry! You say, "What's wrong with that?" Well, for starters, it was never mentioned in the flier that was passed out all week. It was never mentioned from the pulpit when they gave the announcements! It was never mentioned by the pastor or staff during the Promotion!

In contrast, no one in the book of Acts had to tithe off all that they sold! Jesus didn't want 10%. He wanted it all! There was no ministry or building there to support! There was no bally-hooing going on about a Promotion. There was no fleecing of the flock with a 'gold dealer' who was stockpiling gold and who might have had inside knowledge of the gold price rising. There was no subliminal suggestion that if you give, you'll get something in return! They didn't do that in the book of Acts! They had all things in common, and were all in one accord. It wasn't an investment to them. It was meeting the needs of others.

Not everybody in that modern 'Church' wanted to participate in the 'God Sale;' me included. Why? For me, I was beginning to break out of my hallucination as to how the church Jesus started was to function. How the 'Church' I was a member of was operating, and what I saw the ekklesia in Acts 2 'live' was entirely different. One used Promotions to gain their Proceeds. The other lived for Christ, gave without getting anything in return, and was run on Power. One was 'operating,' The other was living.

It's the difference between saying and doing. A father Professes to be a Christian as an example to his family and community. He is a 'Church' goer and is on the Board of Trustees. People like him. He's popular. He tells his son to act accordingly as a 'testimony' to God and his family name. But, the boy knows something about Dad that few know. He knows that Dad, on occasion, goes to town to have a beer or two with his non-'Churched' friends. Dad knows his son is aware of this. It's hard to convince his son to "do what I say and not as I do." The boy is let down. All his young mind sees is hypocrisy. 

He loves his Dad, but he isn't Proud of his Dad. He doesn't want to be like him any longer, so he goes his own way. He's still a teen, but in his mind, he is far away from home. He does the minimum that'll keep a roof over his head and food in his stomach until the day he is set free. He makes plans to leave soon after his eighteenth birthday to slip into the world of gangs, drugs and wicked living. He's been indoctrinating himself with the music of rebellion and he is addicted to it. He's not a Prodigal son, for his father was never committed to God. He's just a lost son with a Dad who doesn't understand why this has happened. There was no power in Dad. All he brought to the table was Promises and Promotions.

The same can be said for today's Institutional corporate-run entities we call 'Church.' But there is a difference. They don't lose their sons and daughters to the world. They give them to the world; for the 'Church' is of this world. It is nothing more than 'organized religion.' It is a world of Promotions and Proceeds. All it Produces is rebellion. They advertise and reap a Profit if they can, while claiming it is all in the name of Jesus. It is a fake existence, not built upon a solid foundation. The corporate entity 'Church' system is not founded upon the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ. It's foundation is quicksand. Promotions and Proceeds are of the world and are doomed to fail. Christ's assembly will go on and will never perish because we are running on His Power.

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