Power of the Blood of Jesus – Volume 12
Message Summary by AFT Team
Many Christians believe that poverty is a virtue and that prosperity is evil. But what does the Bible say? 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. God wants us to be rich and prosperous. So for our sakes, He became poor on the Cross. I have spoken earlier (message available here) about how Jesus did not live in poverty during His life here on the earth, but became poor only on the Cross. He was rich enough to have a treasurer; He was rich enough that this treasurer was often tempted to steal from His moneybag. Poverty is a bad thing; the effects of poverty are terrible, it makes people suffer. The Bible does not teach that poverty is virtuous.
Is poverty from God?
Poverty was not created by God; it entered man’s life only after the fall. Poverty is a curse. When man fell into sin, God pronounced judgement upon him. All the areas of their life would be affected – marriage, family and finances. Let’s look at how it affects man’s financial life – The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow. – Genesis 3:17 -19. The work of his hands was affected. His work environment was affected – the ground was cursed; thorns and thistles that he did not plant would grow. He would struggle in painful labour to scrape a living out of the ground. He would work much but earn little. He would sweat and toil. Poverty is a curse that comes as a result of disobedience. Deuteronomy verses 15 – 68 detail the curses that would come upon the Israelites if they disobeyed God and poverty is one among those curses. However, verses 1 – 15 contain the blessings of obedience, and prosperity is among the blessings: … And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God: Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl… …The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you… …And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. The blessing of God gives prosperity.
What is poverty?
Let us read verse 47 to understand what poverty is – Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything, therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything. They did not serve God with joy when they had plenty, therefore they were going to suffer poverty. What is poverty? It is hunger, thirst, nakedness, and need of everything. When a person is unable to buy and eat healthy food, unable to drink water, unable to afford decent clothing, and when he faces lack and insufficiency in everything – that is poverty.
How did Jesus deal with poverty?
Jesus dealt with every above description of poverty at the Cross. He was hungry. He had not eating anything from the previous night. He had been beaten up and tortured. He carried the heavy cross up the hill of Golgotha. He was hungry the whole day. He was thirsty. He said He was thirsty. But they did not even give Him water to satisfy His thirst. He was naked. They stripped His clothes off Him. Though He had clothing that was so rare and expensive that the soldiers played a game of dice to see who would win it, He hung naked. He hung on the Cross in need of everything – in need of food, water and clothes. Jesus, almighty God, the creator of heaven and earth, hung hungry, thirsty, naked and in need. This is what Paul is referring to when he says, He became poor so that we may become rich. Jesus did not merely endure poverty on the Cross, He exhausted it. It’s not that He bore 90% of our poverty and that we have to bear the remaining 10%. He altogether, wholly and completely, in all respects exhausted poverty on the Cross for our sakes, so that we might become rich. Poverty is one of the curses of sin that Jesus bore on the Cross dying an agonising and horrible death, so that we need not suffer from it.
Jesus bore our poverty on the Cross, so that we might be rich. So what level of prosperity should we live in? Generally there are four levels of finances that people live in.
THE ‘NOT ENOUGH’ LEVEL
Many people would have been at this level at some point in their lives. I think most of us know what it is to be at this level, and it is an unpleasant. You need a hundred rupees, but you have only around thirty rupees. There is always lack and insufficiency in every area of life. This can be compared to the life of the Israelites as slaves in Egypt. Let’s see what happened to them. They were slaves living in abject, miserable poverty. God delivered them with a mighty hand. He did amazing miracles. He performed signs and wonders and had promised to take them to a land flowing with milk and honey. But all along the way, they complained and said that they would have preferred being in Egypt as slaves. They were so used to that level of ‘not enough’, that they did not want a land flowing with milk and honey. Many Christians are in that mentality; they are so used to living in lack and want, that they do not want a life of prosperity and blessing.
THE ‘JUST ENOUGH’ LEVEL
The just enough level is considered as virtuous by many Christians. They say you must not have one cent or paisa more than you need; even a little excess is unrighteous. The believers of this level often refer to the journey in the wilderness and manna as a model for provision. They believe that God will give just the day’s provision and no more, and that we should neither desire not seek to have more. Every day God will provide miraculously. While I do believe that God miraculously provided manna for a while, I don’t believe that it was His will. His will was to take them to Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey. Miracles may be necessary during a certain stage in a believer’s life. But it’s not for the whole journey. It’s not the destination. God’s will was to lead them to the Promised Land, where their barns would be filled with plenty and their vats would overflow. As Christians, we ought to be careful not to get sidetracked into believing that our whole life is the wilderness. We should not settle down there; we have to journey to the Promised Land. Miracles are good, but blessings are better. Living in blessing is total empowerment.
THE ‘MORE THAN ENOUGH’ LEVEL
…Let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. – Ephesians 4:28. Paul is addressing the new Christians in the church of Ephesus. He says that those who used to steal, must repent and start working. And what does he say is the purpose of working? He says ‘Work, so that you may give to those in need’, not ‘Work, so that you may pay your rent, buy yourself food and clothing and meet your own needs’. The definition of work here is that one may earn more than enough; one may earn and meet one’s own needs and also have an excess of provision, and therefore can meet the need of others. Some Christians don’t want to believe in prosperity, therefore they are unable to help others. They are unable to meet the needs of others as God asks them to.
THE ‘MUCH MORE THAN ENOUGH’ LEVEL
This is the Promised Land level. God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. – 2 Corinthians 9:8. In the Greek language, the word ‘all’ occurs 5 times in this verse. God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that you, always (at all times) having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every (all) good works. We must also make note of words like ‘abound’, ‘abundance’ and ‘all sufficiency’. God wants us to have abundance for every good work.
Let us see what ‘good works’ means. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10. Paul says that we are God’s workmanship, created (born-again) in Jesus Christ for the purpose of doing good works. God prepared these good works that we must do much in advance before we knew Him, even before the world was created. These good works are His plan and purpose for our lives. There are many good deeds that can be done on this earth, but there are particular things that God has purposed for every single person. That is what is mentioned as ‘good works’ in this verse, not just about any good deed. Before we knew God, we went about doing whatever we wished. We may have done many good deeds as well. But once we get to know Jesus as our Saviour, and we have a relationship with Him, He shows us His specific plan and purpose for our life, He tells us the particular good works that He wants us to do. God has saved us so that we may fulfil His plan. What are the good works that He has planned for you? He makes His grace abound towards you, so that you, at all times, may have all sufficiency in all things, and an abundance for the good works that God has called you for.
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. – 1 Corinthians 3:9-15. Paul is talking about both his and others’ ministry. He says that he laid the foundation, the only foundation on which any sound building must be built, Jesus Christ. And then he goes on to say that on this foundation of Jesus, every man builds something. A person may build using different material – gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw. On the day of judgement, the fire will decide the worth of the building. A building that is made of wood, hay or straw will not stand; it will be burnt. A building made of gold, silver or precious stone will stand. Some people may do a lot of good deeds, but if they don’t do the specific good works that God has called them for, it is like a building of wood, hay and straw. Their work will be burnt and destroyed. But those who do the good works that God purposed for them are like those who build of lasting material of gold, silver and precious stones – they will receive a reward.
We need to be in the ‘much more than enough’ level to do what God has called us to do. We may be small with a small vision or no vision at all. But when we know God and have a relationship with Him, He gives us a big vision. He makes us think big, beyond our level of ability. To fulfil that vision, we need to be in the ‘much more than enough’ financial level. The meaning of prosperity is that God provides for you sufficiently, financially and otherwise, so that you may fulfil His purpose for your life.
What are you going to take to heaven?
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on… …that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them. – Revelation 14:13. Christians often say, “Why do you need riches prosperity? You’re not going to take it to heaven. Why do you need to build a house? You’re going to live in heaven!” Yes! we are going to take our gold, silver and precious stones to heaven. Not our literal gold, silver and precious stones, but what Paul refers to as our good works. Those are the works that will not burn in judgement. Those works will earn a reward. That is what John also says in the verse above that the good works follow those who die in the Lord. Prosperity and riches are a tool that we use in order to do the good works that God called us for. We use prosperity for God’s purposes. And when we die and go to heaven, the good works that we did (using prosperity as a tool) will follow us. That is why God blesses a person with prosperity, that is why He bore the curse of poverty on the Cross – so that we might become rich and do good works.