Ecclesia Economics – Ps John Bendixen (WTB)
Genesis 1:26-29 (MSG) God made man in His image and to reflect His nature. God’s nature takes responsibility for His creation – therefore He created man with the ability to take responsibility. God has choice, so He gave man the right of choice. While man made wrong choices, God had a divine plan to restore them to their original position. God’s grand plan was for man to have dominion, to be in charge, to be responsible and to reflect the glory of God and have a relationship that was full of the glory of God. God set about bringing a plan of redemption.
He sends messengers called prophets into the earth to deliver His words that will bring about His power, His glory, His anointing through Jesus. Jesus took dominion over every circumstance and over the people that God gave Him responsibility for. He spoke and did only what God wanted. He never lacked anything. His life was all about fulfilling God’s will – to restore the nature of God into the hearts of men.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (MSG) 16-18Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are – face-to-face! They suddenly recognise that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, and living Spirit, that old constructing legislation is recognised as being obsolete. We’re free of it. Free from all of the laws that dominated us. Now we have the personal presence of God – our relationship with Him restored. 16-18All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of His face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him.
God has been speaking to us about money.The way we manage our money has a personal and a collective impact on the church. If we choose not to tithe, we choose to take charge of our own multiplication. Therefore we will always be limited to what we can do. But God wants to show us how to be like Him, and how we can get brighter and brighter as a group of people. We don’t have to reinvent what God wants for us as a church. We just have to do what He already showed us to do. When we do that, God begins to unveil and release what He wants for us.
2 Corinthians 4:1-2 (MSG) 1-2Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. God has revealed to us His grand plan – He wants man to dominate through His light, His way, and His will. He wants man to be responsible with His life, His plan, with all of His glory.
1-2We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God (2 Corinthians 4:1-2 MSG). If you have listened to the messages on money and the Ecclesia, we (the pastors) do not manipulate the truth for our advantage. We do not do such things to suit ourselves, rather we keep everything we do and say in the open, the whole truth on display. We must speak the revelation that God gives us.
5-6Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.” (2 Corinthians 4:5-6 MSG). We are messengers, we are errand boys. We have no choice but to speak what God commanded. God has revealed to an Ecclesia that He wants us to be a church that understands what firstfruits and tithing are about. In the New Testament we have a relationship with God. We no longer tithe and bring firstfruits out of law; we give because it is in the Spirit of God in us to do so. And as we give out of that Spirit we see the Jesus in all of you and the togetherness and we begin to go brighter and brighter.
So what happens if people among us refuse to tithe? Well, you don’t. God won’t force you to. The very Spirit of Christ that is in you wants you to grow brighter and remove the darkness. He wants you to be free of that spirit that is dominating you that says, “I must look after me because no one else will.” He wants us to see that He has already taken care of us because He wants us to live in a way collectively that reveals Jesus.
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (MSG) 7If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. We’ve got to carry this message that’s in earthen vessels, just normal human people. But the power of the message comes through these clay vessels so that the power can be recognised because it’s only clay vessels bringing it.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (MSG): 16-18So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without His unfolding grace. 17These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. We can’t give up because sometimes it’s hard. Even though we give money into a natural environment, what’s going on here is far more powerful than what meets the eye. Because in giving money we are giving of ourselves so that the glory of God can be manifest in us.
There’s a lot more going on here with the church and He is looking for people that will give themselves to prayer. He’s looking for people that will give their possessions to Him, not to man. Man receives our tithes and offerings here on earth but He receives them there in heaven. And God is watching what we give and what you keep.
Acts 4:31-33 (MSG) 31-33While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s Word with fearless confidence. The whole congregation of believers was united as one – one heart, one mind. Why did this message come to us – about firstfruits, tithing, offerings – in a time when the world’s economies are struggling? Because God wants us to trust Him so that He can do a mighty work so that His glory can become evident. Because when you’re all together in one accord, one heart, one mind, look what happened, 32-33They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine. You can’t have it.” The power of God was so strong when they experienced God’s power working through them with the Holy Spirit; they recognised that none of their possessions belonged to them. They were servants of God. We’re not talking about the apostles; we’re talking about all the believers, all the Christians.
I’m not for one minute suggesting that anybody and everybody should go and sell their houses and bring all their money to the Church. This is something that you are led to do by the Holy Spirit.
God is looking for an Ecclesia, an authority people, a ruling people, a governing people who say, “Mine is not my own. I’m here to do the work of the Father. I’m here to give it to God.” And in a time when the world is in turmoil, He’s saying, “Church, I want to teach you about money that if you will take this whole thing into your heart, and you become one mind and one heart with the Word of God, I will shine My glory.” Places will shake, nations will tremble, cities will fall before God if there will be a Church like this. Because, 33-35the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them. And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them, and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed according to each person’s need (Acts 4:33-35 MSG).
I say: “Can you imagine the holiness, the one accord, the grace, the awesome glory of God that was on them that people would go and sell their possessions because it doesn’t belong to me? God has given me resurrection life. I was someone that had no place to go because my life was all about rules which I could never uphold. And now I found the very life of Christ, I don’t have to look through a veil to try and see if there is glory anymore. The veil is split and now I see Jesus face to face. The very essence of the presence of Jesus, the very awesomeness of having this new life of Christ inside of me, it’s so beautiful and so amazing and I recognise it in all of these people that are also giving their all and are experiencing Jesus. What use and what good is my goods if I can’t experience this goodness of God in each other. And I see the brightness of God in your face and I see Him coming through your spirit and I see Him working in your life. And the glorious thing that is Jesus in you, I want more of Him and I want to see Him in you and I want you to see Him in me. So what good is my possessions if my possessions keep me from that?
And it’s a holy transaction as they bring it because they realised that there is no future without Jesus. So they put their whole future on the line; they brought all their legacy to the apostles’ feet. The apostles weren’t special, they were just errand boys, clay vessels. But the transaction wasn’t with man; it was a holy God and a dynamic holy church in which Jesus lived in all of the people so that the church was a witness to every transaction that was happening.
I tell you people, God has a new order in this day. It is the order of the witness of those believers that are completely sold out for Him. It is the order of God in the believer’s life that says, “I recognise in you, I see in you, I see in you no veil, not your flesh. I see the Spirit of Christ in you. I see the life of God in you. I see the glory of God in you. I see you as Christ. I don’t see you anymore as a clay vessel. I see you as the life of God. And as you bring your tithes and your offerings and as you recognise that nothing is your own, and you bring it, it’s the witness of the people that judged Ananias and Sapphira (who gave with impure motives) (Acts 5:1-4 MSG)
This new order happened at a time when the Roman Empire was dominant. It was a time of empire building, of violence and tremendous abuse. And a time when the religious order wanted to hold to itself religion as the order. Jesus came into this empire-building, into this religious order, and laid down His life and the Father raised Him from the dead and now His life is given to everyone. Now we have this open relationship. We receive through the Spirit of Christ the grace and the ability to dominate and to govern, and to take responsibility for all that He placed in our hands.
It is no longer ours but it is ours to be responsible with – as God wants us to use it.
I trust this message stands as a marker in the history of this Ecclesia where God has given us a mandate to pray. We are a House of prayer. We are certainly a people of faith. We are certainly a people who understand that we are accountable to each other, to God and His words. We are certainly a people that honour God, honour His Word, and honour the life of God in each other. We are accountable to each other. Because when I see Christ in you, I want to be receiving the Christ that’s in you into my life. And together, we have such grace. Together we pronounce judgments and the order of God is established so that day by day the church can grow. Day by day His presence and His glory can be seen on the earth. This is not about a single moment. This is about the eternal Jesus, the Eternal Father who is wanting to make a statement on the earth now that as empires are being built, on the back of viruses that are bringing down economies, that are terrifying men. Those empires are inspired by demonic forces that want to decimate the church and want to pull it church apart. And they want to isolate and devastated the church.Those forces who want to raise themselves up above the knowledge of Jesus Christ and all that He is.
I say: Father, I pray that the words that You have released into this Ecclesia, that I will take my place as a responsible life-giver, life bringes, life messenger. I will take up my responsibility and I declare, Father, that all that is mine belongs to You. My life belongs to You, My breath belongs to You; my gifts; my anointings, my callings, my money, my everything belongs to You.