Keith Hunt - A Key to Biblical Understanding Restitution of All Things


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Important Key
to Biblical Understanding:

General Statements

                            by                                  
                        Keith Hunt
                                    
The first half of this important study and key to understanding
correctly the Bible as it pertains to certain verses,  is
contained in the following article by Richard Weidenheft.

What Richard brings out is that verses must not be taken from the
Bible in ISOLATION from all the rest of the Bible with verses
that would throw a different and complete light on a subject or
teaching that we may want to make from just one verse, if taken
in isolation from all other verses. There may be a certain truth
on a certain subject in one verse, but the complete truth of the
matter must be taken from all verses and contexts within the
whole Bible.

Mr.Weidenheft's contribution to this key of correct Bible
understanding is very important. The reader is asked to read the
following article carefully, then I will add my half of the study
with more Bible facts that will answer many questions from Bible
sceptics and puzzled Christians concerning some verses that do
not seem to hold true at times.  By the end of the study the
reader should have the full answer on such verses, as well as the
understanding as to what we mean by saying the Bible uses
many "general statements" that create exceptions.

               THE MYTHS of HEALTH and WEALTH
                    by Richard Weidenheft

I Call it the "contract gospel" - the idea that your relationship
with God is like a business deal: you accept Jesus as your Savior
and agree to live by God's laws; in return He promises to bless
you with good health, success, and happiness.
When my wife was a teenager and had just learned about tithing,
she decided to share her new-found conviction with her younger
brothers. Eager to make it sound as attractive as possible, she
asked them if they wanted to get in on a good business deal. When
they responded positively, she explained that if they would give
God one tenth of their income, He would bless them with much
more. They were impressed with this opportunity and commenced to
tithe.

My wife's offer of a "business deal" is a good example of the
contract gospel. She has long since learned that God doesn't work
that way, but, unfortunately, all too many Christians think that
obedience should result in health and success - specially in
rich, wealthy America. Too few stop to notice that the ungodly
and irreligious among us are prospering too.

Certainly, whatever we have is a gift from God; but when we think
that He is obligated to give blessings because of our obedience,
we make a serious mistake and set ourselves up for
disillusionment.

Jesus' Promise

Several statements by Jesus are often used to support the idea
that success, health, and wealth are the results of following
Him. For example, He said, "I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10, KJV).
When we read "abundantly", we immediately think of the abundance
we are familiar with - healthy bodies, full bank accounts, and
comfortable homes. That understanding most certainly misses
Jesus' point.

Jesus also told his disciples, "And everyone who has left houses
or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields
for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit
eternal life" (Matt.19:29).
This passage is taken by many to mean that if Christians are
truly faithful,  they should be blessed with better homes, better
jobs, and  better  financial  positions  than whatever they gave
up to become a Christian.

New Testament Record

It is very instructive to note how these and other promises of
Jesus were played out in the lives of the apostles. Peter, for
example, was imprisoned on more than one occasion (Acts 4,5,12);
James was beheaded (Acts 12:2); Paul suffered hunger, shipwreck,
stoning, beating, near drowning, imprisonment, and finally
martyrdom (2 Cor 11:23-27). What did these dedicated Christians
get for following Jesus? Certainly not material abundance and
success! Certainly not a hundred times as much property
as they might have given up.
Perhaps the apostles were a special case; what about the other
early believers? Many of them were persecuted along with the
apostles. Stephen was stoned to death (Acts 7). Saul, before his
conversion, searched in synagogues and houses for Christians
and threw them into prison (Acts 8:3; 9:2); many were driven from
Jerusalem into the countryside of Judea and Samaria where they
spread the Gospel (Acts 8:1-4).
Usually, when we read about this scattering, we focus on the
preaching of the Gospel; but consider that the believers were
uprooted from their homes and loved ones, from their jobs and
sources of income. Undoubtedly, they suffered terrible financial
losses (Heb 10:34). Where was the abundant life they were
promised? Where were all the homes and lands Jesus spoke about?
Certainly not in the physical realm as they knew it.

Consider Priscilla and Aquilla, who were driven from Rome during
the reign of Claudius. Consider the many Christians who were
persecuted and martyred under Nero. Consider those in Jerusalem
who, in response to Jesus' warning, fled the city when they saw
it surrounded by Roman armies in 69-70 A.D. Think of all they
gave up in terms of security, property, possessions and jobs.
'Where was the abundant life?

The whole picture of the early New Testament church is one of a
persecuted sect, which sacrificed a great deal to follow Jesus.
They did it gladly because they were  citizens of the Kingdom of
Heaven.

Physical Health

Obviously, good health is a wonderful physical blessing; there
are natural laws, which, when obeyed, tend to result in well
being. Those of us who are blessed with the opportunity to eat
nutritious food and to live a lifestyle conducive to good health
would be fools not to do so. But being a Christian is no
guarantee against sickness and infirmities.

Again, the New Testament record shows that early Christians
suffered physical maladies.
Paul had a "thorn in the flesh," which is generally believed to
be a physical problem, perhaps poor eyesight. In any event it was
a weakness of which God said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for
you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2Cor. 12:7-10).
Timothy suffered from stomach problems and frequent illnesses,
for which Paul recommended he drink a little wine instead of
water (1Tim. 5:23). Trophimus, one of Paul's helpers ("a faithful
servant in the Lord" Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7), was left sick at
Miletus (2Tim.4:20). Epaphroditus, another of Paul's helpers, was
sick and almost died - "for the work of Christ" (Phl.2:25-30).

Does God want His people to be sick? Absolutely not! But neither
does He promise to insulate us from sickness and suffering just
because we believe in Him. Indeed, as God revealed to Paul, His
"power is made perfect in weakness" (2Cor. 12:9). Down through
the centuries, dedicated Christians have been sick and suffered,
and all have (or will) eventually die. Whatever the abundant life
promised by Jesus is, perfect health in the flesh is not
included. Indeed, there are many non-Christians who live longer,
healthier, lives than many Christians.

Of course, the principles of good health, some of which are
mentioned in the Bible, will benefit all who live by them. Much
of the sickness and suffering in the world is because of broken
physical laws of health. But Christians have no assurance that
they won't get sick.

What About Prosperity?

If success in this world is a measure of God's blessings as part
of the New Covenant, then there are a lot more non-Christians
enjoying it than Christians. For every Christian you can find who
is really a great success financially, you can find nonbelievers
who have more.
To be sure, there are numerous promises in the Old Testament that
if Israel would obey Yahweh (the Eternal), He would prosper them
in the land. For example, Deut. 28:1-2 promises all kinds of
blessings for Israel - if they would obey. Before we appropriate
those promises to individual Christians today, we should note
that eternal life was not included! The Old Covenant was a
temporal one, based on the promise of physical blessings for
physical obedience to Yahweh.

The New Covenant, in stark contrast,  is based on acceptance of
Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord - with much better promises. This
does not mean that all the laws of Yahweh given to Israel are of
no consequence to us. Indeed, many of them incorporate natural
and moral laws that, if obeyed, result in blessings. For example,
an individual or a nation that lets its land rest periodically
(as Israel was commanded to every seven years) will tend to reap
a blessing. I say "tend" because there are many other factors.
You may let your land rest periodically and build it up in many
other ways, but that doesn't isolate you from the harmful affects
of polluted air and water, nor from insect plagues and blights
brought on by the bad agricultural practices of your neighbors.
Certainly, God can protect His people; and many Christians have
testified to that effect; but many others have suffered drought,
pestilence, hail, and storms, right along with unbelievers.

Individuals who live by the Ten Commandments save themselves
great many curses that automatically fall on those who disobey.
But, again, those who obey are not completely isolated from the
consequences of the sins of others. Also, being "rich and
increased with goods" is not a barometer of one's spiritual
condition. The brethren in Smyrna were poor, yet rich, while
those in Laodicea were rich, yet poor (Rev 2:9; 3:17).

The Wisdom of Proverbs

The book of Proverbs is full of wisdom on how to avoid many
problems in life, how to get ahead financially and how to succeed
in personal relationships. For example:

Prv. 10:4   Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring
wealth.

Prv. 11:28  Whomever trusts in his riches will fall, but the
righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

Prov. 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word
stirs up anger.

These and many other gems of wisdom are given as general
principles, but they do not always work. There are diligent
people who do not prosper financially; sometimes
a soft answer does nor turn away wrath; some lazy people do
strike it rich. And some who trust in their riches ride high (in
the physical realm) until the day they die.

Most of the time, of course, we will be blessed by living
according to the wisdom of Proverbs; but if we do so only to get
blessed, we may be headed for disappointment.
If we think that following these principles guarantees success in
this light, we are in for a rude awakening. How many people have
worked diligently only to see someone with connections get the
promotion they had hoped for? The fact is that you can live by
all the wisdom in the Bible and still suffer reverses because of
other factors - such as the sins of wicked people around you.
Christians should follow Biblical teachings because they love
God, because they want to do what is right in His eyes, because
they want to be good stewards of His earth, not because they seek
pleasure and prosperity in this realm. Obeying just to obtain
personal advantage is entirely selfish and contrary to God's
nature.

The Negative Side

In contrast to Bible passages that are taken as promises of good
things, there are many that forecast exactly the opposite -
privation, trials, suffering, persecution, even martyrdom.
Consider just a few:

Jesus said, "Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude
you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the
Son of Man" (Luke 6:22). "Do not suppose that I have come to
bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace,
but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a
daughter against her mother...a man's enemies will be the members
of his own household" (Matt. 10:34,35).

The apostle Paul took tribulation to be a normal part of a
Christian's life when he wrote "...[God] comforts us in all our
troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the
comfort we ourselves have received from God" (2 Cor. 1:4).

Peter wrote, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful
trial you are suffering, as though something strange were
happening to you" (1 Pet. 4:12). Earlier in the same letter he
wrote, "in this you greatly rejoice, though not for a little
while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold,
which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved
genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus
Christ is revealed" (1 Pet. 1:6-7).

These and many other passages show that Christians should not be
surprised by all kinds of trials and sufferings. To be sure, they
should not suffer because they are continuing in sin or because
they reject the wisdom of God's word. But they are going to
suffer to some extent because of their past sins, because of the
sins of others, because of time and chance, and because they live
in a sin-filled, Satan-dominated world.
Of course, if Christians happen to live among the privileged few
in the wealthy Western world, they may enjoy, (along with the
ungodly around them), many physical blessings. However, these
blessings are not guaranteed by a contract with God.

Much Greater Promises

The promises of the New Covenant are much greater and better than
the wealth and success and health that is possible in this world.
They include peace that passes all understanding - peace that
triumphs even in the face of trials and tribulations. They
include the knowledge that God is on His throne and that all
things work together for good. They include the forgiveness of
sins, the fruits of the Holy Spirit - love, joy, peace, goodness,
meekness, etc. They include the gift of eternal life.
Certainly, you have much to gain by living in accordance with
God's will and the wisdom of the Bible. You can save yourself a
great deal of heartache and sorrow. But you have no absolute
guarantee that you won't suffer. Indeed, the difference between
Christians and non-Christians is not that the former are
insulated from pain and suffering - not at all. The difference is
that Christians can suffer with hope, knowing that there is much
more to life than the here and now.

Those who embrace the "contract gospel" or the "health and wealth
gospel" are setting themselves up for giant spiritual
disappointment. 'When tragedy strikes, they must either blame God
for not living up to His end of the bargain, or blame themselves
for some failure that negated God's promises. Neither is valid,
because there is no "physical health/wealth contract" made with
individuals. Of course, when tragedy strikes, examining yourself
is always a good thing and it does include considering your own
failures. This is part of overcoming. Tragedy strikes sometimes,
just so we learn how to deal with adversity.

Part of the problem with the "contract gospel" is in how we judge
others who face tragedies. In the Old Testament much of the story
of Job is about friends who judge him as a sinner, since in their
minds, tragedy only happens to sinners. The Gospels contain
several examples of men judging others for personal tragedies:
the man born blind, the tower of Siloam falling, etc. The concept
that "bad things" do not happen to believers is not part of the
Gospel.
What do you get for embracing the Gospel? Not insulation from
pain and suffering, but the tools to grow through suffering, to
become more like Jesus Christ, our High Priest in heaven who also
suffered. You get the kind of blessings that really count - in
this life and for all eternity. 

END OF ARTICLE by Richard Weidenheft



                          Bible Key

                     GENERAL STATEMENTS

                                     
    The above article contains truth that many from certain parts
of the Church of God, really need to come to see, understand, and
believe, for many have been falsely taught over the years that
keeping the commandments (especially the tithing one) would
automatically guarantee that God would bless and prosper
them in great physical things of wealth.  But, to the dismay of
many other, that did not always happen to them. One thing for
sure in far too many cases, far too many had, either forgotten to
read all the Bible, or they just turned a blind eye to certain
parts of the Scriptures, that clearly show God's people sometimes
face trials, tests, hardships, poverty, and even near death or
actual death, for serving the Eternal God and His commandments.  
    It is indeed written that time and chance can happen to
anyone. Very very few are told in advance from God (Paul, when
chosen by the Lord for the ministry was told what would lie ahead
for him) what life may offer them tomorrow, next week, or next
year. Many have seen their wealth and/or their health slip away
overnight. Many Christians have gone through sore pain and
troubles, even death, for the Lord, while others like the apostle
John lived relatively untouched to ripe old age.
    It is God that is the potter and we are but the clay.  We are
all in his hands. As we often say, "there go I but for the grace
of God."

    But, there are statements in the Word that seem to imply we
will automatically receive and gain mighty physical blessing,
just for being "God's child" - a Christian.  Jesus did indeed say
those who follow Him would receive a hundred fold, or sixty fold,
or lands and homes.  Yet, many Christians have not received such
physical blessings - not at all, only pain, sorrow, troubles and
sometimes death. HOW DO WE RECONCILE SUCH VERSES WITH THE FACTS
OF LIFE'S REALITIES AT TIMES?

    Does God lie to us, did Jesus say things that He and the
Father could never bring to pass for many? Is the Scripture
incorrect when it says, "for with God nothing is impossible" or
"is there anything too hard for God?" ? (implying the answer as
"no").

    The apostle John said to one congregation, "I wish above all
that you prosper and be in health."  But many in the Church are
not in health, and many do not prosper in a material way (and
often it is nothing to do with them breaking all kinds of
physical and spiritual laws of God).
    Christians loose jobs, have difficulty finding work, must
collect unemployment insurance money, get social assistance, ask
for prayer from the saints for all kinds of things that life
dishes out to us at times.
    So how do we reconcile these verses that seem to be preaching
a WEALTH and HEALTH gospel to us, just for being a Christian?  
    The answer lies in understanding the Bible uses many times,
the principle of "general" statements without going into the
details of "exceptions" in that particular context or passage.
Such exceptions to the general are taken up and mentioned
elsewhere in the Word of the Lord, for the Father expects us to
read and live by ALL His words He has given us in what we call
"the Bible." Verses are not to be isolated away from all other
verses and passages bearing light on the same subject.

    Understanding the Bibles use of "general statements" answers
a many puzzling thoughts and questions about certain verses as we
look at them in the reality of physical life.

    Let me now go into detail about, and show you what I mean by
how the Bible uses general statements.  Bible examples make the
truth plain.  We shall begin by quoting from Ralph Woodrow as he
understood this truth when explaining a certain aspect of on the
subject of Divorce and Re-marriage.

    Quote:

    ".......Rom.7:1-4.......We must bear in mind that Paul's
illustration here was from the law.......Paul is referring BACK
to the LAW. That his statement was only GENERAL in nature
(without going into all details) is evident, for UNDER THE LAW a
woman was NOT bound to her husband IF HE DIVORCED HER. In that
case she COULD remarry and was NOT called an 'adulteress' while
her former husband lived! She COULD 'go and be another man's
wife' - a WIFE, not an adulteress (Deut.24:1-4)........

    Another EXCEPTION under the 'law' was this: a woman was not
bound to her husband IF, because of polygamy, he neglected her in
certain ways. She was allowed to go free (Exodus 21:11). Paul
knew these things - obviously - and those to whom he wrote 'who
knew the law' did also. But in making his basic point, HE SIMPLY
DID NOT GO INTO DETAILS THAT WERE NOT ESSENTIAL TO THAT
POINT.......

    Language permits the use of GENERAL STATEMENTS such as this
without branching out to all explanations or EXCEPTIONS that
might be possible. Many examples of this could be given, but it
is so evident, the following Biblical example will suffice.
    In contrast to the repeated sacrifice of the Old Testament,
the apostle says Christ 'ONCE....appeared to put away sin by the
sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men ONCE to
die....So Christ ONCE offered to bear the sins of many'
(Heb.9:26-28). The emphasis is on the word 'once' in this
familiar passage. Christ appeared ONCE to put away sin. To
illustrate this, the apostle says it is like the fact
that it is appointed unto men ONCE to die. In using this example,
he does not digress from his OVER-ALL point by explaining
EXCEPTIONS. But there WERE EXCEPTIONS!
    All men did NOT DIE ONLY ONCE, for people in the Bible who
were RAISED from the dead AND LATER died, died TWO TIMES! And
according to Paul, there will be others who will not even die ONE
time - if alive at the coming of Christ! (1 Cor.15:51; 1
Thes.4:16,17). But to have included ALL of this information in
Hebrews 9:27 would have only CLOUDED the GENERAL point that was
being made.......

    Paul cited a GENERAL principle of the law in agreement with
his teaching.......a GENERAL principle only. To have included
wording about possible EXCEPTIONS would have DETRACTED FROM the
point he was making......."

    End of quotes from Ralph Woodrow.

More General Statements

    Many years ago a man in the same church organization I was
in, got quite upset and confused about our teaching on anointing
the sick, as found in James chapter 5. He read those verses as
literal, just as they appeared in that specific text, and said or
thought all such anointing and prayer was 100% to heal the sick
and raise them up to health and life, after all he said, if such
was not for this life, why bother having such verses and
practices in the first place. He was upset and confused because
he knew very well that the truth of the matter as he could see,
was that many sick members in the church did not get well, and
often grew worse or continued with chronic health problems, and
sometimes just died from their illness.
    What he did not understand was this Bible key to
understanding certain verses of the Scriptures - some statements
in the Bible are GENERAL statements, with some exceptions, and
are not meant  to be taken as 100% no exceptions at all
statements.
    James was inspired to give a truth to the Church of God, to
give forth instructions for the Church to practices under the
doctrine of divine healing from God to the body of Christ, but in
giving that instruction of a GENERAL nature, and OVER-ALL point
of truth, he did not go into explaining all the exceptions that
could happen under that general statement -  and it was a GENERAL
STATEMENT only that James was giving us.
    The rest of the New Testament, especially after Jesus had
returned to be seated on the Father's right hand, shows that not
all members of the Church of God were healed each and every time
from various sicknesses and physical afflictions, just as we saw
in the first half of this study.

    Some organizations (one I was part of for many years) have in
the past and maybe still do today, misapply and misunderstand,
some verses concerning TITHING, and the promised blessings that
were to be given to those who practice such a law as tithing or
giving 10% of their income profit back to God. The church
organization I was part of for many years used to boldly dangle
that golden apple before its members, saying to them over and
over that if you faithfully tithed, physical blessings would
come tumbling out of heaven and you would be on your way to
physical riches like you had never seen or dreamed about before.
Tithing they claimed was the greatest key to physical wealth, for
God had promised it to be so, and they had one famous section of
Scripture they constantly referred to, to back up this 100%
guaranteed doctrine if practiced.  The famous Scripture is of
course found in Malachi chapter 3 and verses six to twelve.
Please turn there and read them.
    This organization, like many others, did not correctly
understand those verses, neither did they understand the truth of
this study we are expounding, the plain truth about how the Bible
uses GENERAL STATEMENTS at times, to which there could be many
exceptions, as proved by other parts of the Bible and other
verses and examples in the context of what constitutes true life
for the true Christian, as God allows and chooses and wills.
     The facts were that throughout all those years that
organization preached the health and wealth gospel by means of
tithing, many individuals who were very faithful (I witnessed it
and was personally part of the action with dedicated tithe
practice) in following the tithing law, just did not have the
windows of heaven open up to them and have untold physical
blessing poured out into their bank account. In fact, many had
serious financial problems at times while faithfully observing
the tithing law. And their problems were not because of bad
financial management, for many were very good stewards of what
God had given them, but it was often as another Scriptures says,
time and chance happen to all at times.  Many factors, some
beyond our control, have at times a bearing on what this physical
life dishes out to us a meal times. And the truth of the whole
Bible is that many of God's faithful tithe observers, never
became rich and physically wealthy. Read about some of them in
Hebrews chapter eleven, who wandered about in sheepskins, being
destitute, afflicted, tormented, wandering about in deserts, and
in mountains, and in caves and dens of the earth.
    The true way of following the Lord and all His commandments,
does not guarantee as automatic wages in this life, wonderful
physical prosperity and great riches of gold and silver in the
bank account.  Some, like  Joseph, Abraham, David and Solomon,
did experience degrees of physical wealth as children of God, in
their lives (but often also times of hardship and physical
poorness), yet they were the relatively few in contrast to the
thousands of the Father's children who never made the big time in
physical wealth in this life. And was it not Jesus who said it
was harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for
a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven, it was indeed Jesus
who spoke those words.

    So, what about those well preached words found in Malachi?
That if you tithe, God will open up so many physical blessing
that you will not know where to put them all, because of the
quantity of them. 

    First, the true understanding of those verses. Look at them
carefully. Note, that they are NOT speaking to YOU as an
individual.  To WHOM is God speaking?  Yes, to the sons of JACOB
- to all the 13 tribes of Israel - to the whole nations and
people as nations of Jacob Israel. God is speaking to a
COLLECTIVE group of people as tribes or nations of Israel Jacob
(remember Jacob was given the name "Israel" by the Lord). He is
pointing out to them as a people one large sin they have. They as
a whole people DO NOT practice the law of tithing to the Eternal
God that gives them all they have. 
    The challenge and promise to them as a whole people is that
if they will tithe as nations of people, sons of Jacob, then God
will promise to bless them, but remember the promises of physical
blessings, are to the peoples as nations.  This promise of
God is to the NATION of Israel or Jacob, not as a guarantee to
every last individual WITHIN the nations of Israel.
    Secondly, this is a GENERAL statement to the nation of Israel
from God, as we shall now proceed to see and prove.
    
    Under and through Moses, Israel were given many laws,
commandments, statutes, precepts, and judgments. Included in
those commandments was the law of tithing on your increase or
profit, as well as offerings. Yet, within all those laws were
laws regarding the POOR of the land (i.e. the corners of the
harvest fields were to be left for the poor to glean from), and
how they should be treated and helped and remembered in many down
to earth physical ways, as they were, for whatever reason...POOR!
    If tithing on large or small increases and profits was the
absolute and sure and automatic guarantee from God to physical
riches in any persons life, you can be assured there would have
been NO POOR in the land of Israel.  but such was NEVER
the case, Israel always had the poor among its people.
    It was Jesus, who centuries later, said, "the poor you shall
always have with you."

    The law of the tithe and whatever blessings were promised
from God for obeying that law, were statements of GENERALITY -
general, overall statements, without going into all the
exceptions that could arise because of many other factors in
life, as the people lived one towards another (the factor of time
and chance for starters). And in the context of Malachi, the
GENERAL statement God gave was towards the NATION of Jacob or
Israel, not towards every last person within that nation.

    We need to get one thing very clear.  We should obey the laws
and commandments of God because those laws and commandments are
part of the very holy and perfect nature and righteous character
of God, that He wants us to emulate as we serve Him and as we
serve our fellow brothers and sisters in the earth. Our
attitude should be that we want to live by every word of the
Father, because in so doing we do what is right and pleasing in
His eyes. We should obey the Eternal's laws and commandments
because they show forth His holy character, and because we
want to be like Him - holy in character.
    We should NOT be obeying any law of God just because we THINK
the Father has given that law so we can become physically rich
with material goods and money.
    Why do we observe the Sabbath commandment?  In order to gain
material riches?  I do not think so, for many have lost jobs,
lost job promotions, had to find other secular work, had to close
their business on a busy day of the world and so loose income. 
Many have lost family members (who think you have gone nuts or
become a religious fanatic), and brought other hardships upon
themselves because of Sabbath observance.
    Oh yes, some have never experienced such things because of
Sabbath keeping, and do continue to gain physical prosperity, but
then we are back to the truth of time and chance of life. For
some it is this and for others it is that, just as we have been
seeing in this study.
    We observe the Sabbath because God tells us to observe it,
because it is a manifestation of His holy righteous ways and
character, and because we want to love Him and be like Him,
because we want to please Him. We observe the Sabbath NOT
to just acquire physical wealth and physical riches.  So it
should be also the same when we observe the law of tithing
towards God.  You MAY or you MAY NOT receive physical riches
because you tithe, or because you keep any other law or
commandment of  God, and you should have the attitude of not
caring one wit if you never have huge physical riches in being a
commandment keeping child of God. You should be able to say with
Paul, "I have learned that whatever state I am in to
therewith be content."  And Paul, as a commandments of God
observer, sure had his share of knowing what it was like to be
poor, destitute, troubled on all sides, beaten and imprisoned for
Christ, and many other such things.  Many other children and
servants of the Lord before Paul and after him, also never
experienced large riches of the physical kind in this earthly
life, no matter how perfect and holy they were in obeying the
laws of God and living by His every word.

Some of Jesus' General Statements

    Jesus did say, "I am come that you might have life and have
it more abundantly."  He was speaking about the here and now, not
about the age to come, when all in the resurrection will
automatically have a sinless and abundant life. Jesus
was meaning life now in the physical realm. And very true, a
great many of the followers of Christ down through the last 2,000
years have indeed experienced an abundant life in Jesus. Many
have been delivered from all kinds of evil sins and the
physical and mental sickness that often comes with certain sins.
The drug addict and alcoholic have been set free from the chains
of those sins to an abundant life. Those who have been caught up
in all the evil that a life of prostitution brings, have been set
free to live an abundant life. Those who have been slaves to
chronic crime and violence have found a new abundant life in
Christ. On and on we could go expounding the truth that thousands
have found life much more abundant, in and through Christ Jesus.
    Then.....on the other hand.....well, let's take the life of
Steven, the deacon who went out and preached so plainly and
powerfully in the days of the early New Testament Church. Could
we really say he experienced an abundant life in the physical? It
would take a large imagination I maintain to think so, for he
didn't live very long after becoming a Christian....he was stoned
to death for his powerful preaching.
    We have seen from Hebrew 11 that some servants of God
wandered about in the deserts, and the caves of the hills,
destitute of many physical niceties, and comforts of this life,
some were hunted down, persecuted, and put to death.  Many a
true Christian during the middle ages, the so-called "dark ages,"
faced a life that could hardly be said to be "abundant" - well
not in any physical way at least. Christians are not immune from
many of the evils, sorrows, pain, hardships, persecutions,
troubles of all kinds, large or small, that other people in the
world also face and experience.
    We can understand correctly, this statement of Jesus, when we
understand His statement was a GENERAL , OVERALL, statement that
He gave without going into all the different situational
EXCEPTIONS there may be to His general truth He was proclaiming.

    Jesus said, "And everyone who has left house or brothers or
sisters or fathers or mothers or children or friends for my sake,
will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal
life." 
    Certainly as we enter the body of Christ, the Church of God,
this can be and is often true for many. They may have given up a
great deal to follow Christ, even being cast out from their own
family members. Coming into the Church they do in ways receive
more family, much more family. They become part of a larger
family - the family of God and all His children. For many,
depending on their background and society they come from, do
experience receiving a hundred times as much as what they left.
BUT IT IS NOT SO FOR EVERYONE!
    Some have been cast out by their immediate family, and
sometimes by the national state Government family of the nation
they dwell within, to find very few they can meet with that
believe as they do. Some have had to walk alone as a true
Christian for many years, sometimes being cast into prison for
their stand on Christian faith.
    Once more, the correct understanding, in the light of all the
Bible, and all the history of all of God's children, is to
understand this statement by Jesus as a GENERAL statement only,
without going into all the EXCEPTIONS there could be, for
one reason or another.

    Christ also said, "Think not that I am come to bring peace. I
am come not to bring peace but a sword, for they of their own
household will be against them. Daughter against mother, father
against son......"
    True for many people. Many have experienced this, BUT.....it
is not always true, in every instant. Some accept Christ and His
way of living and their family members give them no trouble at
all!  I HAVE SEEN IT GO BOTH WAYS!
    Jesus was not lying. He spoke the truth, but His statement
was one of GENERALITY - it was an OVERALL statement, for that
context He was speaking in, and that context did not lend itself
to expound all the exceptions to the general point He was making
in that particular context of speech. To have numerated all the
exceptions would have clouded the point he was making in that
specific context of what He was trying to get across to his
audience.

The Bible and General Statements

    As you read the whole Bible, you will come to see that
speakers and writers sometimes used in their speech, GENERAL
STATEMENTS that contained the truth to the point they were making
on a subject or specific teaching, without mentioning exceptions.
I may tell a group of people the Sports Fitness Club I belong to
meets every Tuesday evening. What I have told them is true for a
certain point of information I need to relate to them. What I may
not tell them are the exceptions to that general point of meeting
on Tuesday evening. I may not tell them we do not meet on Tuesday
evening if it is a national holiday, election day, a game in the
World Series Baseball final, or if it ever freezes (maybe the
club is in south Florida, where people do not know how to drive
safely in freezing weather, hence we do not want anyone getting
hurt coming and going to the club in such freezing weather
conditions).
    All those rules of the club are in other sections of our
writings about the club as a whole, which those listening to my
main point can discover if they are willing to read the whole
document about the club's constitution and bylaws. I do not want
to cloud my main point of telling them we meet once a week on
Tuesday evening, by bringing in various exceptions.

    And so it is in the language of the Bible at times.  GENERAL
STATEMENTS only, are given in some contexts.

    The book of Proverbs may contain more "general statements"
than any other book of the Bible.

    "In all labor there is profit...."  Generally that is
true....but, some have worked very hard to still find their
business goes under.
    "He that follows after righteousness and mercy finds life,
and honor."  Maybe that's true most of the time, but.....some
righteous Christians did not find honor from mankind, and only
found death for their righteous living.
    "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old,
he will not depart from it."  This can be often true, yet,
certainly not in very case as many parents have found out.
    "For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and
drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags."  Many times, maybe most
of the time, this holds true.....but.....some have been drunkards
and gluttons all their adult life and still die as millionaires,
while others are lazy and yet dress in fine clothes.
    "Correct your son, and he shall give you rest, he shall give
delight unto your soul(life)." Many parents have experienced this
to be true, but not all by any means.
    "In the multitude of words there wants not sin, but he that
refrains his lips is wise." A general statement, for sometimes
sin does not dwell in a multitude of words, and being wise does
not always mean keeping your mouth shut, sometimes the wise
way to go is to speak out.
    "The fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the
wicked shall be shortened." Anyone who has lived into middle age,
knows this is a general statement, for physical life is not so
cut and dry. Many Christians die young, and many a wicked person
lives to ripe old age.
    "The rich man's wealth is his strong city: the destruction of
the poor is their poverty."  There may be much truth in the
saying, "the rich get rich and the poor get poorer" or "the rich
get rich at the expense of the poor" but there are rich people
who made their riches not at the expense of the poor, and who
will hold on to their riches even if there are no poor. This
proverb is obviously a general statement only.
    "The Lord will not suffer the life of the righteous to
famish...."  A general statement only, for Paul for one certainly
knew at times, what it was like to be hungry, destitute, in need
of the physical things in life.
    "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that
harkens unto counsel is wise."  This is a wise proverb....most of
the time, but.....now and then some counsel can be very wrong,
and you'd be better not to harken unto it.
    "A soft answer turns away wrath."  As Mr Weidenheft pointed
out in the first part of this study, this is not always so,
sometimes, in some situations, a wrathful answer turns away
wrath. A school-yard bully is not usually turned away unless you
kick him where it hurts.
    "...a man of wicked devices is hated."  Some brutal dictators
are not always hated by the majority. Hitler was loved by the
masses of Germany for many years.
    "There shall no evil happen to the just...."  A very obvious
general statement. The beatings and lashings that Paul received
on many occasions from the Jews could hardly be said not to be
evil.
    "Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuses
instruction...."  Many times maybe, but certainly not without
exceptions, for some have not been willing to be
instructed and have never experienced poverty or shame.
    "He that spares his rod hates his son."  In most cases
physical spanking of small children, done correctly, is good and
necessary to mould them into good character....but....some
children fare worse when spanked and other forms of punishment
are much more effective for their character development. Some
children(few maybe, but I've heard from parents with such
children) are so sensitive that a mere harsh word to them brings
the desired results, and they never need to be spanked, yet the
parent does not hate them. This proverb is a general statement
only.
    "When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies
to be at peace with him."  True, many times, but certainly not
without exceptions. The deacon Stephen in Acts 7 pleased the Lord
in his ways, but his Jewish enemies did not make peace with him,
they stoned him to death. Here is a general statement only.

    Still other general statements can be found in the book of
Proverbs.
    

    We must be careful not to isolate some statements in the
Bible from the REST of the Bible, and from all verses that would
give the complete light of truth on that particular subject which
is being brought out by the general statement itself.

              ................................

Written November 1998

All articles and studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published,
e-mailed, and distributed as led by the Spirit. Mr.Hunt trusts
nothing will be changed without his consent.    

 
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