What about yoga?

Yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise in America today. A recent article on meditation may have prompted some readers to wonder if Christian’s should include yoga as part of their exercise routine.

Yoga began as part of the spiritual practices of the eastern religions. The classic yoga positions and poses were not designed to stretch and strengthen muscles. They were designed to carefully position and align the individual’s seven chakras. In eastern mystical religions, for example, Hinduism and Buddhism, the chakras are a person’s energy centers. An individual’s spiritual power flows from the chakras. Misaligned or blocked chakras result in illness, poverty and powerlessness.

Yogic meditation is a way to realign and open up the person’s energy centers. A properly aligned chakra enables self-expression, increases intuition or taps the hidden power within. This spiritual practice is still a vital part of many mystical religions in America and the Far East.

Yoga’s unique, challenging poses have an undeniable physical benefit. Stretching the muscles and holding a pose requires a degree of muscle control that can not fail to increase health and strength. These physical benefits can be received without any involvement in mystical practices. If yoga is practiced without resorting to mysticism then no Biblical prohibition would forbid the Christian from participating.

If yoga is practiced in conjunction with the religious principles then it would be wrong for a Christian to participate. The practicing yoga as a means to align the chakras, make some connection with the divine or tap into a hidden source of strength is engaging in pagan spiritual practices. Christian’s must have no part of the religious practices of false religions. (2 Corinthians 6:15-17)

Mystical religions present a view of God, man and salvation that contradicts that of the Bible. The mystical religions believe man is a manifestation of the great Divine Reality. The divine reality is the source of everything. The goal is to be rejoined with the divine. The individual draws closer to this goal through meditation, including yogic meditation.

Mysticism changes the truth of man’s spiritual existence. The problem of humanity is not a misaligned or unenlightened spirit. Man’s problem is a broken spirit that has rejected the One true God. The solution to the spiritual problem of man cannot be found in realignment or in becoming one with the Divine. Man is unable to solve his problem.

Man’s spiritual need was met by Jesus. When a person trusts only in Jesus to forgive her sin and reconcile her to the Father, God’s Holy Spirit takes up residence within her. The spiritual problem is repaired by God. Jesus fully satisfied the justice of God upon sin. Those who trust Him are made the children of God and have all the benefits of eternal salvation. No human exercise will improve upon what Jesus has completed.

If yoga is treated as nothing more than an exercise routine it presents no spiritual problem, though it may present some physical challenges, to the child of God. If relied upon for salvation or spiritual gain yoga is worthless.

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Should Christians cremate their loved ones?

Europeans and Americans have long placed great importance on burying the bodies of their dead. Even in times of war or great poverty the energy was invested to inter the body. Rich and poor alike sought to give their loved ones a proper burial. America’s west in the late 1800’s illustrates the importance that was placed on interring the body. A man could be gunned down in the streets of a western town, unknown to any one, but someone would dig him a grave. Boot Hill may have been filled with anonymous cowboys, but even the most despised were given a “decent burial”.

Over the last several decades America has seen a steady increase of the number of cremations. Some statistics show that nearly half of all deceased are cremated. For Christians considering what to do with the body of their loved ones this can be a difficult decision at a very difficult time. To make this matter even more challlenging the Bible does not give any commands for or against burning the bodies of the dead.

This does not mean the Bible is silent on death and burial. The Bible consistently shows burial as the standard practice of the people of God. Multiple examples of this could be given, starting with Abraham and ending with Jesus. Clearly burial was the normal practice of all those in the Bible. Burning of bodies is only mentioned a few times in the Old Testament and is always associated with judgment. Achan was burned after being stoned to death for his disobedience to God’s command to not take anything from the city of Jericho. The book of Leviticus prescribed two cases when a person’s body was to be burned and both were commanded as part of punishment for specific sins.

The example of the Old Testament must be considered by the Christian. Burial was the normal practice of the Old and New Testaments saints but that does not necessarily mean the Bible teaches burial is the only permissible treatment of a dead body. Generally those who oppose cremation offer theological reasons as the basis for burying the dead. Two of those theological reasons are the resurrection of the body and the dignity of the person.

Often funeral practices are a reflection of the beliefs of the culture. Much unconscious symbolism can be found in the modern tendency to have no funeral or to replace the funeral with a party. Burial points to the future resurrection of the believers. A Christian burial reflects the teachings of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 that the body is sown in the ground and will spring up again as something greater. The sown seed will spring up into a full, greater existence and the Christian, like that seed, looks forward to springing up again with a glorified body into eternal life. (This does not at all imply that the resurrection of the body is in any way dependent on a proper burial.) Burial points to the Christian’s expectation of resurrection.

Burial respects the dignity of the person who is created in the image of God. While Christian burial does not attempt to keep the body in a pristine a condition for as long as possible (though modern embalming and entombing practice seem to have that effect) it does seek to treat with respect the person who has died. Genesis 1:26-27 states that God created mankind in His own image. Though sin has marred this image Genesis 9:6 and 1 Corinthians 11:7 indicate that man still bears the image of God. That which is a reflection of the image and glory of God is worthy of respect. Cremation intentionally destroys the body and has been seen by many cultures as a sign of contempt. The apparent disrespect in burning a body is not in keeping with the respect due one who is the image of God.

The Christian should give careful thought to the Biblical teachings regarding death, resurrection and the dignity of the person. However, when all things are considered the Bible gives no direct instructions regarding the disposal of dead bodies. The Bible nowhere forbids burning a body after death, nor does it command burial. Crematiòn is a matter of liberty in which each Christian and each family must seek to reach a Biblical conclusion as best as they are able. Each Christian must be careful to not bring an extra measure of suffering on those mourning the loss of a loved one.

Will we still have birth defects in heaven?

Right now all the world suffers and groans under the curse of sin. Everyone bears in their body the effects of sin. Some show the effects more plainly. Cancers, diseases, scars, mental disorders, emotional turmoil and a host of other effects of living in this sinful world afflict mankind. Romans 8:22 says, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” All creation groans in pain and longs for the day of redemption when the miseries of sin are put aside forever. What will the body of the beleiver be like after death? As said in an earlier article, immediately after death the spirit of the redeemed enters into heaven. The physical body remains on earth to decompose and be destroyed. At the day of resurrection, the bodies of all believers will be taken up into heaven. At the resurrection all believers will be given glorified bodies.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that the glorified body will be like and yet unlike the earthly body. This glorified body will be physical, but it will be free from all the effects and curse of sin. “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” The resurrected body will be free from all the corruption and defects of the earthly body. Revelation 21:4 says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

The curse of sin has wide reaching physical effects. Because of sin, there is sorrow in marriage, sorrow in childbirth, sorrow in work and sorrow throughout the entire universe. (Genesis 3) The redemption of Jesus does more than pardon of the men from their guilt. The redemption of Jesus accomplishes the full removal of all the effects of sin. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross there is coming a time when the curse of sin on this world will be removed. When that happens, there will not be any more sorrow, pain nor tears. All the miseries of this lifewill be removed.

Those who have suffered lifelong diseases, mental retardation, massive deformities, genetic defects, will in heaven be free of those things. Some wonder how the person can remain if the entire being is so radically changed. The analogy of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 is helpful. A corn kernel bears little resemblance to the stalk which grows out of it, yet the stalk is unmistakably corn. An acorn and an oak are far different in appearance, but there is no question they are the same. This earthly body is but the seed which will be put into the ground. That which will spring from it will be greater, free from all flaw and without all the innumerable consequences of sin.

What are the most important things for a Christian to consider as he votes?

Our nation is racing towards the climax of the election cycle. Right now we are in the middle of the presidential primaries. On Tuesday the states of Michigan, Mississippi and Idaho will be having presidential primary elections. Every election leaves the Christian with a some very difficult decisions. The Bible informs every area of the believer’s life. This includes electoral decisions. How does a careful Christian honor God in his voting choices? Because no election is a clear cut choice between good and evil the Christian has to give more weight to certain issues when casting his ballot. What does the Bible says are the most important things to consider when voting?

Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Christians must consider which candidates will promote Biblical righteousness. The likelihood of finding a candidate with whom you agree completely is almost nonexistent. The possibility of finding a candidate who has a largely Biblical morality seems to be getting slimmer and slimmer. The reality is the Christian will probably have to chose the “lesser of two evils”. In doing so, much discernment must be exercised. The Christian must not vote for candidates who have built their political platform on the promotion of immorality and godlessness. Whenever possible, Christians should seek to vote for those candidates who have shown themselves to be promoters of Biblical righteousness (not necessarily of the ten commandments, but of those things which are in line with Biblical morality).

Romans 13 declares that God ordained the government to be a terror to evil doers. One must select officials who will punish evil. Government officials, from the lowest to the highest, are the servants of God. He appointed them, even the worst of them, to restrain evil. This means elected officials must be restraining evil in their own lives. Proverbs 29:2 says, “When the wicked bear rule, the people mourn.” A wicked man in power is not going to promote justice. He is not going to restrain evil. The Christian should seek those leaders who are honorable men of integrity that will uphold justice.

A Christian should not vote for a person just because the candidate professes of Christianity. While some politicians do have a credible testimony of salvation, far too many take the name of a Christian to attract Christian voters. A competent person of integrity may lead with greater ability and righteousness than a nominal Christian who crafted an identity to attract Christian votes. Nor should a Christian vote with the assumption that the right leaders will fix America. While our elected officials wield great influence over the direction of America, the needs of this nation are heart needs. The transformation of the heart is only accomplished by Christ. No elected leader, no legislative body, no judge and no system of laws will ever make a person truly righteous. Vote with hope but do not place that hope in men. Trust in Jesus, hope in the eternal kingdom He has secured and remember only the gospel will change this country.

Should Christains call transgender people by the pronoun of their choice?

Those who make the transition between genders often begin the transformation by changing their name and asking others to call them by a pronoun mathcing their newly chosen identity. This is a difficult issue for Christians who believe gender is a biological constant anatomically determined an unchanged by sexual, emotional or mental preferences. Some who advocate calling transgendered persons by the pronoun and name of choice have presented this as a matter of respect. We respect those who change their names by calling them the new name. If a man changes his name from “Tom” to “Zoltar the Great” most people respect his wishes despite their personal Those who make the transition between genders often begin the transformation by changing their name and asking others to call them by the pronoun of their choice. This is a difficult issue for Christians who believe gender is a biological constant anatomically determined regardless of sexual, emotional or mental preferences. Some who advocate calling transgendered by the pronoun and name of choice have presented this as a matter of respect. We respect those who change their names by calling them the new name. If a man changes his name from “Tom” to “Zoltar the Great” most people will respect his wishes, though they may think his choice of names is ridiculous. In many cases this is a matter of no consequence, and Christians can readily comply with the persons wishes on the matter. In some instances there are moral and theological issues with the name chosen. If Tom decides to change his name to Jehovah the Christian is going to refuse to address him by that title reserved only for the God of heaven.

What about honorifics? We respect someone’s preference to be called Doctor or Reverend instead of Mister or Missus. We do not reject as immoral the recent change in English grammar to use “they” as a generic pronoun instead of “he”. Should we not also respect someone’s request to be called Miss instead of Mister? The Bible presents God’s creative work as consisting of two distinct, unchangable genders. The willful rejection of ones biological sex by replacing he with she, or with the intentionally uncertain “xe” is a moral issue. In this case the choice of a pronoun reflects a rebellion against that which God created. This is a matter of acceding to a morality contrary to the Bible. The demand that we respect a person’s pronoun of choice is a demand we submit to their immoral worldview. Christians must not do so. We must submit to the Bible’s morality, even at the cost of offending someone we deeply love.

For obvious technological reasons the Bible does not address those who would surgically change their gender, but it does clearly address those who would attempt to make themselves appear to be a member of the opposite gender. The Bible unequivocally condemns such behavior. Ones gender is not a function of the mind, it is a product of biology. Despite what some today seem to suggest gender is deeper than ones external sex organs or ones perception of himself. The organs are attached to the body in such a way that changing their appearance does not their underlying functions. A transgender woman will never get pregnant and a transgender man can never father a child. The basic realities are unchanged by some creative cutting and pasting. God created maleness and femaleness. These are not arbitrary designations, but expressions of a reality defined by God and built into every person. The gender of a person is not liquid or malleable. It is fixed. In a bizarre, Dr. Moreau-esque fashion we are now able to reverse engineer biological parts to give the appearance of something else. No matter how much one changes his appearance or says to herself, “I am a man”, just like Dr. Moreau’s unfortunate experiments, the created order will win out. Self-deception will remain a lie even if all of society joins you in proclaiming a lie.

A lie repeated often enough and long enough may be believed by the majority of people, but it is still a lie. To treat gender as if it were multiple choice is to deny crucial aspects of God’s creation. To deny the binary nature of gender is to deny what it means to be an image bearer of God and to dishonor the person. It is not loving to help another live out self deception. The Christian should no more call a transgender person the pronoun of their choice than a doctor in a mental ward should call his patients by the name of the person they fantasize themselves to be. Calling a transgender person the pronoun of their choice does not show them respect. It disrespects them with the most callous disregard for their soul.

Are all men created equal?

The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” What does it mean that all men are created equal? More importantly, is it true that all men are created equal?

As I understand it, America’s founding fathers were declaring that every person has equal natural worth because he is created by God in the image of God. This principle of equal worth is why the founders went on to declare that governments exist to protect every one’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. All men are created equal in the sense that all have the same infinite value. Every person, regardless of gender, race, nationality, ability or economic background is equal. Every person is a reflection of the image of God and bears an inestimable worth.

In more recent times some have understood this phrase to mean every person has the same potential or should have the same opportunity. This interpretation does not line up with Biblical teaching or even with common sense. Physically and mentally none are created equal. Very few have the height, strength or coordination to become a professional athlete, and even fewer have the ability to become superstars. Very few have the understanding, recall and quickness to become a world renowned scientists. An Einstein only comes along every so often. The decades old statement of American freedom and potential, “you too could become president some die” flies in the face of reality. Very few have the drive, political savvy and charisma needed to become a successful politician, much less to become the President. As it says in the other classic American statement, “You’re unique, just like everyone else.”

In Biblical terms, God clearly draws a distinction between people. While all men and women are of equal value before God, God gave them differing abilities and different roles within the marriage relationship. God selected Abraham out of all the people of the world and set him apart to do something remarkable for Him. Abraham held an unequal role in the world. His descendants, the nation of israel, were a special group of people different from all the rest of the nations of the world. They were not equal. Out of Israel God selected men to be judges, prophets and kings. These ones were, in function, not equal with the rest of the nation. God said there was none like unto Moses. In the New Testament Jesus declared, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist:” Even in terms of accountability before God, God does not view all as equal. Those who have been entrusted with more will have a greater accountability. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required:” Pastors must give account for the spiritual well being of those in the church (Hebrews 13:17). At God’s throne of judgment, the punishment of the unsaved will be meted out based upon their works. (Revelation 20:12)

In value all people equal. This equality does not imply it is unfair for some to succeed while others fail, nor does it necessarily require a full “equal opportunity” to all. Because all men are equally image bearers of God, we must do all we can to protect the life and dignity of all.

Does Christianity promote violence and hatred?

The recent upswing of Islamic terrorism has brought violence in the name of Allah to the front of many people’s minds. For some this is also a time to resurrect claims that Christianity is a religion of violence and hatred. Some do this out of a general hatred of all religions asserting that religion is the greatest cause of war and violence. Some do this in an attempt to defend Islam by pointing out that Christianity has some infamous events in its own history. Does Christianity promote hatred and violence? Is the Bible full of hate and genocide?

The Bible does not lack wars, violence, murder and many other despicable evils. However, a description of violence is not the same as a prescription for violence. If this were the case one could argue that history books promote violence and hatred. To argue Christianity causes violence one has to show that Christianity either commands hatred between men, that the commands are based in hatred for people, or that the teachings will inevitably result in hatred. One can not simply point to violent passages in the Bible and say that Christianity is hateful. One must show that the Bible promotes violence. This is no easy claim to make.

The Bible includes many examples of wretched behavior. Even more, throughout Christian history men have done evil things in the name of Christianity. Yet these historic examples do not prove Christianity is hateful. Such examples prove a very different claim. The examples of violence in the Bible and history support a central tenet of Biblical teaching: humanity is hatefilled because man has rebelled against His Creator.

The teaching of the Bible is that the heart of man is the source of all hatred and violence. Titus 3 says, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient . . . living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” The Bible also teaches the worst wickedness of man is not only the result of his own natural bent toward sin, but it is also the result of rebellion against God. When man rejects the God of the Bible for a god of his own creation, the result is that God lets man go into all manner of great wickedness (Rom 1). The claim of the Bible is that man apart from God turns to great violence and all manner of acts of hatred. Religion is not the root of anger and violence among men. The rejection of the God of the Bible aggravates the violent heart of men.

The Bible teaches an ethic that is contrary to violence. Those who have committed violent acts in the name of God have done son despite clear Bible teaching to the contrary. The Bible commands over and over again to love one another. In the book of Genesis God repeatedly condemns the violence of men. In the law to Israel God commands they are to love one another. The importance of love for one another is a major theme throughout the Old and New Testaments. The moral principles of the Bible are built on the basic principle of love, love for God and love for others. The Bible does not promote war, violence, hatred or racism. All such evils are the result of man’s sinful nature, not the teaching of Scripture.

Is it judging to call someone a sinner?

“Judge not that you be not judged.” Matthew 7:1 is possibly America’s favorite verse. Almost every disapproving statement is greeted with rebuke as being judging. Declaring something is sinful is considered by some as the height of judgmental behavior. This is an important issue for Christians who are attempting to preach the gospel. The gospel message requires an understanding of personal guilt. How can anyone turn to Jesus for forgiveness of sin if he does not realize he is a sinner? Why would anyone turn to Jesus for salvation if he has done nothing deserving condemnation?

Yes, calling someone a sinner and identifying behavior as sinful is condemning. From a Christian perspective the declaration that something is a sin is the same as saying something is bad and should not be done. How does this apply to a person? Is the statement that someone is a sinner a declaration that the person is to be avoided? To be clear, saying someone is a sinner is a statement of condemnation. It is as pleasant as being told you have terminal cancer. It is a declaration that the person is not fit to stand before God and deserves eternal punishment. The statement that a person is a sinner is a statement of condemnation but it does not mean the sinner is to be avoided.

Sinful behavior must be rejected, but not sinful people. Christians have not been sufficiently clear on this distinction. Sinful people are not to be avoided, except in special circumstances. Calling someone a sinner is a socially loaded and theologically significant allegation. When a Christian declares a person is a sinner, he is doing so after having already come to grips with the reality of his own personal sinfulness. Like most others, the Christian realizes he has done bad things. However, the Christian’s recognition goes further. The Christian has recognized he deserves eternal punishment in hell because of his sin. The Christian has recognized the Son of God suffered a horrible death and endured the wrath of God because of his sin. When a Christian says you have sinned, he has already included himself in that assessment, confessed his guilt and grief and plead with God for forgiveness.

Though calling someone a sinner is a hard statement, it is not a declaration of hopeless condemnation. It is in fact much like being told you have cancer. The avowal that one is a sinner is a dire diagnosis of a disease that will end in suffering and death. Like many cancer diagnoses calling someone a sinner is the first step in treating the disease. All are sinners and if left untreated the disease will be eternally fatal. The diagnosis of guilt prepares the way to present the cure. As Jesus said, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick.” Yes, calling someone a sinner is a hard statement that will agitate many. When it is said as it ought, it is not a statement of condemnation but one of compassion.

Does Jesus base a person’s salvation on his helping the needy?

I really wish those who take it upon themselves to lecture Christians on how they should behave would take the time to correctly understand what the Bible really says about how Christians are to live. The latest example of Biblical misapplication has come in the aftermath of the Syrian refugee crisis. As thousands have flooded into Europe fleeing intense persecution in Syria the pressure on America to take in these refugees has increased exponentially. Many have taken it upon themselves to declare that Christians have an obligation to welcome in the refugees. The passage I have heard used most to press home this duty is Matthew 25:35-46.

The pertinent passage in Matthew 25 teaches that when Jesus returns He will judge mankind. Those who are given eternal life are the ones who took in the stranger, fed the hungry and gave drink to the thirsty. Those who are sent to eternal judgment are the ones who refused to take in the stranger, feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty. The application is obvious. Since Jesus will judge men based upon their treatment of the needy, then those who claim to be followers of Jesus have a duty to care for those in need. Is this what Jesus is saying in Matthew 25?

A simple reading of the passage makes it immediately obvious that Jesus is not giving a blanket commandment for every Christian to provide for every needy person he meets. When Jesus grants eternal life to the righteous He tells them “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it (cared for the needy) unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Jesus is teaching that how His children treat their fellow Christians is how they treat Him. What is done for other believers is done for Jesus. He makes this same point in Mark 9:41. He tells His disciples, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you he shall not lose his reward.” When Jesus returns He will judge those who profess to be His followers based upon how they have served needy Christians.

When Matthew 25 is compared with the rest of the Bible one realizes this passage cannot be teaching that any one is saved by doing good deeds for others. Versees like Ephesians 2:8 declare salvation is only by God’s grace and is only received by faith without any works to merit salvation. 1 John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed from life unto death, because we love the brethren.” A man’s love of his fellow believer does not make him righteous, it is one of the proof’s he has been made righteous. Salvation is always and only the free gift of grace. The deeds of a man in this life are evidences of salvation.

The situation in Syria is serious. Tens of thousands of refugees are in serious need. Every Christian should be deeply concerned about those needs, especially the needs of the Syrian Christians. There is a clear New Testament example of Christian’s caring for the needs of believers across the world in distress. The Christian’s love for others will compel him to do what he can to provide real help those in need. This help cannot be defined based upon a visceral or political reaction, but must be built upon Biblical wisdom. Misusing a Biblical passage to make a point may make good rhetoric, but properly applied Biblical truth is always more powerful and transformative than any sound bite.

Does God reward those who give to churches and other ministries?

If you have ever tuned in to television preachers you have probably heard a request for money. Most of the time the requests for donations are joined with promises of great blessing to those who give. The promises may be that God will give you ten or a hundred times your gift. The promises may be that if you plant your seed of faith with a minimum donation to the ministry, God will reward you with prosperity and freedom from financial woes. Sometimes the promises are not so dramatic, but the great majority of televised ministries that ask for financial aid promise that God will give back to you many times more than you give. Is this Biblical? Does God reward those who give to churches and religious ministries?

When it comes to understanding the promises of God to Christian’s believers must start with the New Testament. The majority of the verses used to bolster the preacher’s claims come from the Old Testament. The promises made by God to Israel are unique, particularly the promises of physical blessing. Applying them to Christian’s today is a serious error in understanding the Bible. The nation of Israel was a unique people group on the earth, set apart by God to show His power and glory to the entire world. Because of their unique position, God promised Israel that if they would obey Him, He would give them rich blessings. God promised Israel that if they disobeyed His commands He would take away their blessings and bring them under intense suffering. The promises God made to the church are very different.

The New Testament church is a special group of people set apart by God to proclaim His salvation to the entire world. Because of the unique nature of the church, the New Testament promises those who follow Him will suffer persecution, troubles and afflictions. “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” (John 16:13) “All that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12) The promise to the believer is that the world will respond to the faithful Christian with hatred, mockery and persecution. The New Testament contains no example of a believer being made rich, or even financially stable, because of his giving to the ministry.

The only passage in the New Testament that speaks directly to giving and the blessings of God is 2 Corinthians 9. Verse 6 is one of the verses used by some preachers to promise rich reward to those who give. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” Is Paul promising that God will give rich financial rewards to those give generously? Two verses later Paul explains the blessing God gives to those who give generously. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work.” In other words, the blessing of God to those who give is grace to be more generous in good works. He does not promise a return of wealth but spiritual provision enabling the Christian to continue serving. The only promise of physical supply is found in Philippians 4:19. In Philippians 4 Paul tells Christians who gave sacrificially to his ministry that God would supply their needs. God does not promise to give rich financial rewards to Christians. He promises rich grace, many spiritual blessings and provision for daily needs.

Those who promise physical provision mistake the priorities of the Christian and the church. They misunderstand the true natures of the riches of God’s blessing. God is not working in the Christian today to make him physically healthy and prosperous. God is working to make the believer more like Jesus which will result in eternal rewards. Spiritual prosperity is worth far more than all the riches of this world. The Christian should not give to reap treasures on this earth but to lay up rich treasures in heaven. (Matthew 6:19-20)