The Grace of Giving or the Grace of Prosperity? (part 2)

After the church service as we were having our lunch with two others at the “Kitchen” food court, another man with a walking aid joined us when he saw an acquaintance at our table.  I was told that this gentleman has many metal implants inside his body.  So I joked “Oh, you are the Iron Man!”.

We all laughed.

He was born without bones in the lower part of his body, had never worked throughout his life.  I marvelled that he still looked good at age 52. I found out that his parents, now deceased, sacrificed much for his welfare and well-being, and he is now on welfare (S$500 per month), and lives in subsidised flat (<> S$35 per month).  But since his latest heart surgery, the $500 which used to be sufficient is hardly adequate.  Though his medical procedures and standard medicine are free, he has to pay for the special heart medication and special gloves consumable for the bone cancer in his hands. Upon our questions, he related that he has been attending NCC from the early days of NCC’s history, and church leaders have been following up on him.  He took a cab to the church that morning, and was grateful that the cab driver, being a believer, gave him a free ride; but then wondered aloud how he was going to get home as he has insufficient fare. Immediately, one of our fellow diners (actually not working retiree) took out $100 to bless him, which he initially refused. (He had applied for assistance from NCC last year, and NCC has just approved to give him $200 every month).

Wow, this is fleshing out of the teaching about Christian giving and sharing, in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, even though this part on sharing and giving was not the actual delivery in the sermon.

14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”      (2 Cor 8:14-16)

Indeed, this grace of sharing and giving and generosity is the intended exhortation in 2 Corinthians 8 & 9, and NOT the grace of abundance as in the sermon.  It is possible to hijack some passages in the scriptures and “twist” and distort the original intent for another agenda.  Churches with good teaching need to affirm and assist and train members to study the scriptures in small groups and on their own, to be like the Bereans, to know Him in the scriptures, and not just in the pulpit.  (see posting “A Berean or a Bible Policeman” on June 2014) 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.  (Acts 17:11)

Last week, over lunch, my sister-in-law uttered her frustration with my brother-in-law who kept on asking for prayers, saying that “He just wants to be a millionaire!”.  So I said that the church might have a part to play in his misdirected aspiration, as with the sermon earlier that morning.  My sister in law then remarked “You really hate Joseph Prince!”.  I replied, no, I defended him to others, I said that he is the greatest preacher of the true gospel of grace.” In fact I told others that he is the new Watchman Nee. No, I don’t hate Joseph Prince.  I am thankful to God for raising Joseph Prince.  I love NCC. And I love Jesus and give the scripture pre-eminence. (see “I love NCC” posted in Sept 2014) Pastors use scriptures to teach.

But scriptures must be exegeted in context, and applied with proper hermeneutics for relevance in for our lives. Scriptural truth, when taken out of its context and intent or relevance and importance can become a lie (I will next post on ‘When a truth can become a lie’).

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