Tuesday, February 24, 2009

False Profits & False Prophets

"We live in extraordinary times. The 21st Century is already shaping up to be a quantum leap from the 20th Century around the globe. We now live in the Second Apostolic Age in which the biblical government of the church has come alive once again. The Holy Spirit has begun speaking to the churches about taking dominion of God's creation as God originally intended us to do. Our 20th Century goal of saving souls and multiplying churches has been expanded to aim for nothing less than transforming our society.

"Along with all of these mega-changes is the impending fulfillment of God's promises through His prophets for the great transfer of wealth. My sense is that we are looking at unbelievable quantities of wealth moving from the control of the kingdom of darkness to the control of the kingdom of God."

- C. Peter Wagner, "Kingdom Philanthropy" (6/12/05) [links added]

Financial greed: occasion for spiritual deception.

By Pastor Larry DeBruyn

First came WorldCom, and then came Enron. Having created fraudulent reports of illusory earnings, both corporations bilked thousands of naïve investors out of their hard earned life savings. Now, there's Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, federal lending agencies that doled out billions of dollars in mortgage loans to borrowers who had little chance of repaying them. Fannie and Freddie proceeded to sell the bad loans to banks that in turn pawned them off to other banks that yet again resold them to other banks. Now many banks stand bankrupted, the Dow has been halved, people's retirement funds have been pilfered, and the whole nation is looking for the federal government to bail us out of this financial mess, a crisis caused by human greed. So to fill the coffers of the bankrupt banks, the President and Congress are creating a federal "stimulus package" that will further mortgage America's future with a mountain of bad debt. The American dream has turned into an American nightmare. It remains impossible to calculate how anyone can go into debt to get out of debt. This is financial insanity. But there's more . . . Greed is not only rampant in the public sector, but also in the private.

Nationally, Bernard L. Madoff now stands accused running a multibillion-dollar fraud scheme, perhaps the largest in Wall Street's history. A list of his clients reads like the "who's who" of the rich and famous. Locally, while passing himself off to be an investment advisor, Marcus Shrenker is accused of bilking people out of millions to maintain his lavish lifestyle. On the verge of being uncovered, like "D.B. Cooper," he tried to disappear by allowing his plane to crash after parachuting into safety. Dead men can't tell tales, and neither can they be prosecuted.

One client invested $79,000 with Schrenker, who then deposited the money into his business account from which he immediately paid the mortgage due on his $4 million dollar home. In addition to a plane, Schrenker owned several luxury cars. Another person invested $14,921 with Schrenker. "The money" reports the news media, "was supposed to go into a European investment account, which Schrenker promised to monitor through an online system." But when the investor checked his account online, he saw that Schrenker, using the person's password, withdrew the funds and deposited the money in his account. "I simply trusted him to do the right things on my behalf," the investor stated. "As it turned out, he did a lot of bad things on my behalf."[1] Financial fraud is epidemic in our nation. The words of Jeremiah are relevant. He said: "From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain . . ." (Jeremiah 6:13).

The irony of all this fraud going on is that what is happening financially in our land is also happening spiritually. Prophets for profit are proliferating, and millions are buying into spiritualities that are cheating them out of their eternal life savings. Peter predicted the rise of Christ-denying false teachers whom people in their sensuality will follow thereby scandalizing "the way of the truth." Of these gospel swindlers, Peter warns: "in their greed they will exploit [i.e., 'make merchandise of'] you with false words" (2 Peter 2:3a; Read 1-3.). Paul denied possessing any such ulterior money-motive in his ministry when he stated, "Unlike so many ['hucksters,' NLT], we do not peddle the word of God for profit" (2 Corinthians 2:17, NIV). Likewise, Paul told Timothy that "the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang" (1 Timothy 6:10). On the one hand, greed is killing our nation, and on the other, it's also killing the church. The one seems to mirror the other.

If people want to give their money to support the vacuous platitudes of the spiritual hucksters, then let them. There's nothing, for the time being, that can be done about it. For those who follow any scam, an old Americanism says, "There's a sucker born every minute." And fraud like what's happening in financial America is also happening in spiritual America. Like the prophet told Judah, "All are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit" (Jeremiah 6:13). The spiritual fraud abounding in America these days capitalizes on the "felt" spiritual dissatisfaction of people with Christ. They, it seems, are ever in search of "something more." As for me, I'm quite satisfied (not smug) in Christ, for Jesus told His disciples, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35). People satisfied in Christ are not looking for "get-rich-quick-schemes," either financial or spiritual.

So, please don't let any spiritual huckster bilk you out of your eternal life savings! Find satisfaction in the Word and Spirit of Christ.

The Truth:

"But He said, Ye rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God, and keep it." (Luke 11:28)

[1] Francesca Jarosz, "Mistress, client detail Schrenker dealings," The Indianapolis Star, January 31, 2009, A1,6.

Reprinted with permission: http://www.frbaptist.org/bin/view/Ptp/PtpTopic20090214173023

Note to reader: We have interrupted our series for a brief post by Pastor Larry DeBruyn which is very timely and pertinent.