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When True Becomes False: The Delusion of Wealth Transfer

When True Becomes False: The Delusion of Wealth Transfer

One of the saddest things unfolding within the realms of the Christian Church is a reduction of the Glorious Gospel from a liberating message about what God has done to deliver us from our sins, into little more than a different method of achieving the American dream. The Prosperity Gospel has always played into this transformation and diminishing of the Gospel. The newest method of accomplishing this feat is in the so called last day transfer of wealth. I have spoken of this on another of these pages and I encourage you to read that material as well since my position here differs from those points.

One of the things that makes these teachings so popular is not only the charismatic appeal of the teachers who seem to have found their wealth (without mentioning their constant need for gullible Christians to support this lifestyle) but also because it appeals to our baser appetites for material indulgence. The Bible counsels us to embrace moderation and contentment precisely because it is not in our nature to do so. But beyond this many people fall for these teachings because the proponents claim to have Scripture and every believer knows that the Bible is true.

What most people fail to see is that a verse of Scripture is only true in its proper and intended context. Once lifted out of the greater narrative of God’s redemptive plan, snatched away from the cultural implications of the text or wrested from the definition of the particular word true does become false. In other words people are banking on the belief that this transfer of wealth will occur because the Bible which is true says it will happen. In this sense they are betting on falsehood because in spite of the fact that the Bible says something it is not true when misused and twisted. From that point on the belief we are espousing in spite of being a verse of Scripture is false. Let’s look closer at the claim of a last day transfer of wealth. How is this true verse being used to support a deluding belief?

The verse in question of course is Proverbs 13:22 “The wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.”(NKJV) There are several interesting points that illustrate that the truth of this verse is being turned into a falsehood.

  1. This is the only passage in the entire Bible which offers this point of view.1
  2. There is nothing in this verse specifying that this happens in the last days
  3. Even if it said something about the last days this period of time began on the day of Pentecost and its duration is uncertain. In other words we would have to know that we were in the last of the last days, something which even Jesus (in His humanity) did not claim to know, in order to assure people this transfer was about to happen.

We see so far how the truth is being turned into a falsehood. First by insisting a solitary verse gives us this promise; second by inserting it into an end times scenario we cannot guarantee. What else can we learn from this verse that shows us that truth is being turned into a falsehood?
To answer that question we must look not only at the verse on its own, but in its context within the passage in Proverbs, in its context within Biblical expectations, and finally in the verse itself and the usage of the word translated “wealth”.

Context of The Passage

He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.
Evil pursues sinners, But to the righteous, good shall be repaid. A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:20-22

When read, in the light of the surrounding verses the overall point is that the wicked lose all that they possess while the righteous inherit everything. The question is when does this happen? As noted elsewhere the verse says nothing about transfer but that the wealth is stored up, the implication being that they do not get it now. The Hebrew words that are used for wealth riches and abundance give us some insight into when this happens as does the next area of context.

Context of The Bible

Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:2-10

These of course are known as the Beatitudes. There is no question that the blessings mentioned here parallel the verses in Proverbs 13. Another thing which is beyond question is that many of these are things which will only happen in their fullness in the future when Christ reigns as King over all the earth. Verse five’s reference to the meek inheriting the earth especially makes this point. Note the passage from which Jesus is quoting.

“For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Psalms 37:9-11

The meek will inherit the earth when the wicked are no more. It will be taken from them and given to the righteous at the consummation of all things and not until then; a point that even proponents acknowledge.2

So then the context of Proverbs assures us that we will get what the wicked have, but the context of the Bible informs us that this will not happen in the immediate future. This is very important; The things the wicked have will not be given to us until they are no more. At that time we will be inhabiting a perfect world where the idea of material abundance as it is thrown about today will not matter. It is a metaphor then for total and complete unending supply, not a guarantee of endless wealth now.

Finally the Hebrew words themselves can provide insight into how the teachers of this popular belief are turning truth into falsehood. The Hebrew word “chayil” translated wealth in Proverbs 13:22 appears 243 times in the Old Testament but only 29 times in reference to financial wealth. There are 13 other Hebrew words that are or can be translated wealth or riches. In some cases that is all they mean. If the writer meant the money of the wicked then clearly there were other words available. But when we take into account the point above that wealth as we now know it will no longer matter in the new eternal realm we can see that this word is the appropriate one. “Chayil” is also translated army, host, strength and might. Clearly it is a word covering all of life and not just the monetary realm.

Finally one other Hebrew word provides insight into this discussion. One of the Hebrew words translated riches in found in Psalms 37:16. Although the Hebrew word is used only 4 times in reference to material abundance two of those verses actually contradict the claims of these teachers.

A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of many wicked. Psalms 37:16

He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. Ecclesiastes 5:10

Let us end this examination of how the truth can be turned into falsehood by asking two questions. Why would God say what we have is already better than what many wicked people have only to give us what they have? And why do we insist on abundance of material monetary riches when we know that they in and of themselves cannot satisfy? When we look at the claim of an end time transfer of wealth in detail and beyond the solitary verse proponents use as a foundation for that idea we can see that is it a delusional false doctrine.
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1A similar thought appears in Eccelsiastes 2:26 For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God.

2See the article “Does the Bible Teach the Transfer of Wealth from the Wicked to the Righteous” in the article archives.

Think about it and let me know what you think.

For more on the wealth transfer fallacy, see Pastor Shifflett’s book”Beware the Wolves.” The book is available in both paperback and e-book format at Amazon.com.

Beware The Wolves

The Myth of the Missing Blood

The Myth of the Missing Blood

One of the most common criticisms of new translations from those who prefer the King James version is the claim that the blood of Jesus is being removed from the pages of the Bible. Often it is made to sound as if a huge conspiracy is afoot to demolish the sacred beliefs of Christians through the very book which we cling to. But is the claim true or is the missing blood a myth?

One of the simplest ways to discover the answer is to do a simple word search on virtually any Bible program. I use the Lifeway WordSearch 10. Doing this we find that the word blood appears 447 times in the King James version of the Bible. The English-Standard-Version has 431 appearances. Only 14 less. (Hold the jubilant “I told you so” a moment longer.) The New King James has even less, only 424 references to blood. The New Living Translation, Second Edition seems the greatest culprit with only 303 mentions of blood. 134 less references to blood! What should we say about this? Is the blood missing from these alternate versions? In light of the above facts, we have to answer yes. But there are two things to remember.

First is that many times a different phrasing is used. Take for example the story of the woman with the issue of blood. The newer translations express that fact differently. For example, in the NLT2 of Matthew 9:20 we read, “Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him.” Or the NIV2011 version says, “a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.” You see the blood is still there it’s just worded differently.

Or consider the word “lifeblood.” The NIV uses lifeblood twice in Genesis where the KJV says blood, chapter nine verses four and five. The blood is still there, it just won’t come up on a word search for blood. Or the use of the word murder for bloodshed. Most of the so-called examples of missing blood fall into this kind of different phrasing category.

The second thing to see is that usually the changes in the use of the word blood have nothing to do with The Blood of Christ. That after all seems to be the real bone of contention. That somehow removing the word blood affects what we believe about Christ or his sacrificial, cleansing work of atonement. But is just isn’t true.

Consider the Gospel of John. The King James Version has six references to blood. The NLT 2 has five. Those five are the ones that refer to Christ’s blood. The only one missing is chapter one verse thirteen which refers to human blood in the KJV. The other five all speak of Christ’s blood and all five are present in the New Living Translation, Second Edition. They are chapter 6:53,54, 55, 56, and 19:34.

Or take The Book of Acts. The KJV has blood 12 times, the NLT 2 only eight appearances. But three of the four missing references have to do with the blood of men: Adam in 17:26, Anyone is 20:26, and Stephen in 22:20. Only in chapter five verse 28 is the reference to Christ and it is rendered death. But there the Pharisees who don’t believe in who Christ was are speaking. Obviously, we shouldn’t expect them to speak of the blood in an affirming way. The change in wording does nothing to the truth of power of Christ’s blood. Again, this is the pattern throughout the new translations. The missing blood is a myth.

Take again verse 20:26. Just two verse below in verse twenty-eight we read;
Acts 20:26-28 (NLT2) I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know. “So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.”

It is the blood of men that has been removed not the blood of Christ.

Now this essay isn’t meant to tell anyone which version of the Bible to use or read. All have their weaknesses and strengths. It is intended to keep you well-informed. The argument about missing blood is a myth.

Loving Jesus Through Doctrine

Loving Jesus Through Doctrine

So often today we hear someone say, “We need to get away from all this doctrine stuff and just love Jesus.” In this statement many people mean we shouldn’t let secondary issues cause division between us. Jesus did say after all that men will know we are his disciples because we love one another, and all these little things interfere with that.

Well, that’s true for a lot of things. How were you baptized? Do you observe communion once a month or once a week? Do you call it the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, or the Eucharist? Do you use grape juice or real wine? Do you believe in the rapture, and if so are you pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib? Which version of the Bible do you use? Do you tithe on the gross or the net, or call it that at all? And the list goes on. Yes, we could do with a lot less tension in the church over these kinds of things.

But it’s impossible to get away from necessary doctrines with a call for loving Jesus. Think about that. If someone makes the statement above, we could reply, “Why?” Why should I love Jesus? You see, to answer that question requires the teachings, the doctrines we just said we should get away from. For example:

Why should I love Jesus? Because he’s a cool guy. And how do you know that? Well the Bible describes him as… Okay, but why should I believe the Bible? Because it’s God’s Word. And how do you know that?

You see to answer these questions I must invoke doctrine. The Bible is God’s Word is a doctrinal claim. Or how about this example:

Why should I love Jesus more than anyone else? Because he died for you. And why did He do that? Because we are sinners who need saving. What is sin, and what am I saved from? Sin is rebellion against God’s commands which leads to eternal separation from God.

The italicized statements are all doctrinal claims. If I attempt to answer why I should love Jesus I must invoke the very doctrines I am trying to avoid.

Now here’s another wrinkle. Our Lord said that loving Him required obeying his doctrine. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” John 14:15,21 (ESV) Both words come from the same root in the Greek. In other words, Jesus’s teachings and commands are linked to doctrine. You can’t really have one without the other.

But the commandments involve doctrinal issues. For example, how do I love my enemy when my enemy is oppressing the neighbor I am also to love? What does it mean to leave my gift on the altar until I’m reconciled with the person I’ve offended? What does laying up my treasure in heaven look like when it comes to church giving? What does being always ready for Christ’s return convey? All these are commands that we are to obey, but which require doctrinal instruction to understand when we truly unpack them. Could that be why God gave us teachers?

Doctrine tells us how to obey and why. It should be obvious then, that the noble sounding sentiment, let’s get away from doctrine and just love Jesus, is a self-defeating aspiration.

The Fallacy of Jesus’s Wealth

The Fallacy of Jesus’s Wealth

One of the teachings popular today in certain segments of the Charismatic church related to prosperity is that Jesus Himself was a wealthy man. Anyone familiar with the Gospels may wonder where such a thought comes from. When one looks beyond the assertions of the teachers making these claims and thinks about the Scriptures we can see how foolish such a view is.

One view of where Jesus got His wealth comes from the visit of the Wise Men in Matthew 2 about two years after Jesus’s birth. One of their gifts was gold causing wealth proponents to insist that Jesus’s family was wealthy. A central problem with this assertion is that the Bible does not tell us how much gold they brought. Was it a hundred dollars worth? A thousand? Ten thousand? It is sheer speculation to try to place a dollar amount upon it. And yet even if we could there are numerous other problems with the allegation. Let’s consider some for a moment.

We should pause to ask why Jesus is known as the son of a carpenter. Does this mean Joseph continued to work after the family settled in Nazareth?

We must remember that Jesus is said to have brothers and sisters, siblings that Joseph fathered after Jesus’s birth. Jesus didn’t begin His ministry until he was thirty which means that in order to be
wealthy at that point in his life the Wise Men would have needed to bring enough gold to sustain a family of at least six for 3 decades!

The Bible says that immediately after the Wise Men left Joseph was warned to take Mary and the baby Jesus into Egypt until,…. This means travel and living expenses since he might not have been able to find work in a foreign country. Thus the gold is seen as provision for a journey and not a lifetime supply of ease.

There are many other contradictions to this claim as well that are best expressed in this list of questions.

  1. Why does Mary say in her song of praise that God has sent the rich away empty if she is going to be wealthy all her life?
  2. Jesus told a seeker that He had no place to lay his head. How can this be true if He was wealthy?
  3. Wouldn’t it be hypocritical for a wealthy Jesus to tell the Rich Young Ruler to give away all his wealth to the poor. Wouldn’t it be a contradiction for a wealthy Jesus to discuss how hard it is for Rich men to enter heaven?
  4. In 2ND Corinthians Paul says Jesus became poor when He came to earth. How can this be true if He in fact was wealthy?
  5. In Luke 22:36 Jesus says sell a garment to buy a sword. Why is this necessary if they are rich?
  6. Why does Jesus tell Peter to get money from a fishes mouth for the taxes if they are wealthy?
  7. Why does Judas complain about ointment being spilled instead of sold only to turn around and sell Jesus for a fraction of His supposed net worth?

This list can go on and on but hopefully it has accomplished its purpose. There is no Biblical basis whatever for the idea that Jesus was wealthy and therefore no basis for insisting that we should be as well. Sadly it is but one more example of the doctrinal drift coming from people who are the most animated in claiming to be speaking for God.

For more on the wealth transfer fallacy, see Pastor Shifflett’s book”Beware the Wolves.” The book is available in both paperback and e-book format at Amazon.com.

Beware The Wolves

Perry Stone and the Book of Remembrance

Perry Stone and the Book of Remembrance

Tennessee evangelist Perry Stone has an unusual teaching series. He asserts that a person’s name must be written in Malachi’s book of remembrance in order to qualify for the rapture. The verses cited for support are these:

“Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name. They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him.” -Malachi 3:16,17

For those who don’t know what link there might be between Malachi and the rapture, it is found in the words, “And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him.” The term or “rapture” concept, says that, just prior to His second coming, Jesus secretly returns to whisk His faithful followers away from the tribulation judgments. They meet in the air according to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, thus being spared the horrors of the tribulation.

The case for this point of view seems strengthened by Jesus’ words to the church of Philadelphia.

“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you (spare you) from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” Revelation 3:10

Or,

“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape (be spared of) all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36

Two more passages from the book of 1 Thessalonians round out this list.

“To wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us (spares us) from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:10

“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9

The hour of trial, and the wrath of God are in most people’s point of view, the tribulation period. In the book of Revelation Jesus unseals the scroll releasing the wrath of God upon the earth. Since the verses above convey the sense of being spared from tribulation, it is easy to see how Stone reaches his conclusion. But the case is not as clear cut as it seems.

First, while God’s wrath may be intensified in the tribulation, it’s not limited to that period. Romans 1:18 says “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against,…” and Paul goes on to list examples of the manifestation of that wrath which is currently occurring. Consider also Psalm 7:11. “God is a righteous judge, a God who displays his wrath every day.” (NIV) So the wrath of the Lamb need not be restricted to a future tribulation period.

What about the implications in Revelation 3, and Luke 21 about being protected or spared the terrible events? How can we explain them? Let’s begin with Revelation 3:10. “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”

The key word here seems to be keep. It should be noted that “keep from” need not necessarily mean “take from” which would be required if indeed the church were to leave the earth during the tribulation. One could argue that a play on words is at work, “you have kept,.. I will keep” both words being the same in the Greek. The context is perseverance. Is the issue, you have kept my word to persevere so…

  • I will take you where you will no longer need to persevere,

or is it

  • I will continue to empower your perseverance.

The Greek word for keep, “tereo,” is often used that second way. For example, in His departing prayer Jesus says, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” John 17:15. This could easily be the thought of Revelation 3:10. A perseverance through tribulation, rather than a taking from it. This is especially instructive in that the Church of Philadelphia is long gone. But the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ remains upon the Earth.

Luke 21:36 helps reinforce this conclusion. “Watch therefore and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things.” Understanding hinges on the meaning of “counted worthy to escape.” How is one counted worthy? Does escape have a literal or figurative application here?

Again, escape need not mean we are being taken somewhere to be protected from the tribulation judgments. In Christ we have escaped the condemnation which brings those judgments. The phrase counted worthy is difficult, found only three times in Scripture and once with a different word in the most reliable manuscripts. Yet the idea that counted worthy means achieving some level of rapture meriting godliness undermines the concept of grace. A more likely meaning is that we demonstrate our imputed worthiness by enduring troubles and afflictions, including those which are viewed as characteristic of the tribulation. This is also known in reformed circles as persevering grace.

One cannot deny Stone’s creative imagination, though he would no doubt credit God with this so-called revelation. However, the one book the Bible clearly mentions our names being in, is the Book of Life. The idea of another listing in a second book, simply isn’t Biblically credible.

Does The Bible Teach A Transfer Of Wealth From The Wicked To The Righteous?

Does The Bible Teach A Transfer Of Wealth From The Wicked To The Righteous?

One of the key verses used in support of this doctrine comes from Proverbs 13:22 which says, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.” From this verse with a few other unrelated verses tossed in proponents argue that God is going to give the church this wealth in the last days. What can we say in response?

First consider the similarity between what this verse says and how Jesus approaches the concept of giving. Jesus says, “lay up treasure for yourselves in heaven.” When we give we are storing up riches in heaven. But we won’t have access to those riches until we actually get to heaven. The wicked on the other hand are not setting aside for eternity and that is the contrast we should draw. In Luke 12 Jesus shares a parable that conveys this same idea. Those who are laying up treasure in heaven will benefit in the end. Those who are not will see all they have done pass out of their hands.

“Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ‘ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-22

The teaching rises from a fundamental flaw that argues that ALL Christians should be rich. In my Beware the Wolves book I examine the claims of a book entitled “The Millionaire from Nazareth.” Its central assertion? Jesus was wealthy, we should be too. The book is flawed from front to back.

Like the MFN wealth transfer teaching fails to consider several factors. First, wealth is a subjective measurement. Bill Gates is wealthy to me, but to a Haitian who makes about $90 per year, I am Bill Gates.

Second, since the standard of wealth is so subjective and varying, what standard should we use when speaking of God making us prosperous?

Third, the teaching fails to recognize that only in America and other developed countries can the wealth we enjoy even be contemplated. The average daily wage on planet earth is $2. Daily—not hourly.

Finally and most serious, is the absolute mishandling of Scripture to support the position. Transfer advocate Larry Huch, uses a passage of Scripture from James 5 to validate the claim that ALL Christians should be (not could be which I agree with wholeheartedly), should be rich. Yet James 2:5 says that God chose the poor to be rich in faith (not wealth). Jesus rebukes the Laodicean church which had come to such a place of financial strength that they lost the sense of their need for God.  Revelation 3

Finally Larry Huch himself says that this so-called transfer of wealth happens when the Lord returns not before. In speaking of the James 5 passage Huch says:

“Now it is extremely important that you understand what God is saying here, because this is the key to the end-time transfer of wealth. ‘The cries of the reapers [workers/laborers] have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.’ I think many times people mistakenly read this ‘The Lord of the Sabbath’ But the word is Sabaoth which means ‘leader of a great army or mass.’ In the very last days when the Lord comes for His glorious bride, who will be without spot or blemish, there will be no poverty or sickness. We will cry out to the Master Avenger, and He will take the wealth from the wicked, those who have kept it back wages by fraud, and put it into the hands of the righteous.” (10 Curses that Block the Blessing, p.98, emphasis mine)

I hope that you can see the contradiction. The whole purpose of Huch’s book is breaking curses including the one preventing financial abundance. Yet in trying to bring this liberty he says it doesn’t happen until Jesus comes, when by the way we will no longer need it. Huh?

I will conclude with one striking question. If the prosperity teachers believe God is going to take the wealth of the wicked and give it to the righteous why do they keep asking the righteous for money????

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