In the last post we looked at the abhorrent way God looks at trying to take money in exchange to become more spiritual. And while I am hard pressed to even remotely suggest that we are to emulate the way the Beatles lived their lives; it seems early on in their musical career they had learned a valuable lesson.
- 2 Kings 5:15-16, 19-27 NIV – 15 Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.” 16 The prophet answered, “As surely as the LORD lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused. … 19 “Go in peace,” Elisha said. After Naaman had traveled some distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” 21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked. 22 “Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.’ ” 23 “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi. 24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left. 25 When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” “Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered. 26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes–or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? 27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous–it had become as white as snow.
- Acts 3:6 NASB – 6 But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–walk!”
- Acts 8:17-23 NIV – 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
I have a not so distant relative about 20 years ago or so, was part of the Word of Faith movement and had graduated from Rhema. He heard about the gold teeth healing outbreak in Tulsa. So, he and a couple of friends decided to travel there themselves to see what was happening. When he got back, he had nothing but glowing testimonies about the trip and all the wonderful things God was doing. After we had dinner, he began to open up about some of the financial stresses him and his wife were having and that his wife recently found out she was going to need thousands of dollars in dental work and I got the impression I was about to hear an appeal for help. As I listened, I calmly responded. Look, I am not making fun of you nor what you believe but I do not understand. If God is doing all these amazing things with Gold fillings in Tulsa, let my wife and I watch the kids, and you take your wife to Tulsa. Then you can save a whole bunch of money as well as the pain of going to a dentist. I had never seen him so crest fallen and so silent.
Bethel Church of Reading California offers a Supernatural School of Ministry. This year they roughly have around 5,000 students attending (numbers vary on various websites). They charge around $5000 per person to attend. That means 5000 people times $5000 dollars each comes to a whopping $25,000,000. (That is 25 million not thousand, use a calculator). An interesting detail has emerged that they have something known as a Honey Barrell or Honey Pot. If you want more of the honey of God, you symbolically put your head in this empty barrel and you get more of the Holy Spirit’s empowerment.
My questions to all of those students is the same as the one I posed before my close relative. Why not forgo the several years of classes and $5000 and just put your head in the honey barrel several times? While I have no problem with the laborer is worth their wages. But if this is true, how can one then justify 25 Million Dollars to impart more of the Holy Spirit!?! (All poor Gehazi wanted was 2 talents of silver and two changes of clothes, by Bethel’s standard he is a saint!) The unspoken theology is that God is more than OK with charging for more of the Holy Spirit.
Now I issue a word of caution. Some believe that Bethel is on the extreme fringe of Christianity and some believe they have morphed into a cult. And as you are aware, I have no problem turning a phrase to make a point. But some Christians have been mockingly referring to their School of Supernatural Ministry as “Hogwarts” from the Harry Potter films. We are called to love one another and love our enemies. I find this just as irreprehensible as charging to receive more of the Holy Spirit. Engaging in such behavior is referred to as slander.
- 1 Peter 2:1-3 NASB – 1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
Once one realizes that just as we have been forgiven for our foolishness and have tasted of the Kindness of the Lord, even in this instance love much . . .