Joseph Herrin (07-29-2014)
Have you ever taken time to ponder how vastly different this world will be when it is ruled by the Son of God? An hour will come when the kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and Christ (Revelation 11:15). How tremendously distinct must the Kingdom of Christ be when contrasted to present society that is governed by the principles of selfishness resulting from mankind’s fall in the Garden of Eden?
Yesterday I was reflecting upon one aspect of the Kingdom of Christ that is antithetical to the practice of this world. As I meditated upon the economics of heaven, I perceived that it is not necessary, or even desirable, to wait until the dawn of the Millennial Kingdom for the body of Christ to begin practicing divine economics. The opening chapter of the book of Acts reveals that an extraordinary work of grace occurred among the early disciples of Christ in Jerusalem. Men and women who had spent their lives with the mentality of “consumers,” were transformed by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and began to exhibit an otherworldly character as they gave freely of all they possessed. They began to sell the worldly material goods they had accumulated in order to present the money to the apostles to be used to meet the needs of the poor, widows, and orphans.
And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them..., and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, and lay them at the apostles' feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.
What many Christians perceive to be the extraordinary, and unusual behavior of the early church is actually a manifestation of the normal Christian life. The character of Christ is one of giving. Had the Son of God not emptied Himself and yielded to the Father’s will to take upon the form of a bond-servant, there would be no Gospel message today. From Christ’s emptying Himself of His divine glory that He might descend to earth in the form of man, to the pouring out of His life on the cross, His was an example of giving.
When the Holy Spirit was given to the 120 disciples of Christ on the day of Pentecost, and an additional 3,000 were saved at the preaching of Peter, the life and character of Yahshua began to be manifested through humanity. When the love of God came in with great power, a love for lesser things (for the passing possessions of this world) was eclipsed. Men and women were moved at the awesome sacrifice of Yahweh in sending His most precious Son to purchase their salvation. They were in turn prompted to give sacrificially for the welfare of other men and women. Even as love begets love (I John 4:19), so too did the example of Christ’s giving motivate His disciples to give.
And all those who had believed were together, and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people.
The church has fallen from the purity and devotion of its first love. It did not take long for the love of many to grow cold, and for self-interest to once more manifest itself among the people of God. Today, we see that the church is behaving similarly to the unregenerate. They are focused on consumption once more. Millions of Christians spend their lives trying to acquire houses and lands and many material possessions that they can claim as their own. In doing so they have reverted back to the principles of this fallen world system.
Because the general practice of the church today is one of apostasy, having departed from the purity and utter abandonment of true Christian discipleship, it is easy to dismiss the example of the early church as an aberration, and to conclude that it simply will not work today. Few Christians ever entertain the thought that God may want them to live according to an entirely different paradigm than what is modeled in Christianity today. Only those who are sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit will question the propriety of Christian practice.
To provide a personal example, when I was first called of the Father to begin a ministry of writing in 1999, the only pattern I saw before me was that of the marketplace. Christian authors acted no differently than secular authors. The only difference was that Christians had their own bookstores, and would sell their books at seminars and at church meetings. It was common for Christian authors to acquire an agent and to shop their book around to various publishing houses, seeking to obtain a publishing contract. The author would then collect royalties on books sold. If the author became well known, the publisher would offer them an advance, or multi-book contracts that in some instances were valued at millions of dollars.
When I first began to write books, having no other income aside from the charitable giving of brothers and sisters in Christ who read what I posted online, I thought to submit my writings to Christian book publishers in hopes of obtaining a contract. Of the early books I wrote, I submitted three of them to Christian book publishers; The Remnant Bride, Sabbath, and The Mark of the Beast. I was well aware that success in having a book picked up by a publishing house was a rare event, but I was not discouraged. I reasoned that if God wanted the books published in this way, He would move upon the hearts of those who make the decisions and an open door would be set before me. If it was not His will, there would be no open door.
I did not meet with success in my book publishing aspirations. Some familiar with the book publishing industry would say that I gave up too easily. I have read testimonies of famous authors who received dozens, even hundreds, of rejection letters before they ever landed a publishing contract. I submitted my books to no more than a half dozen Christian publishers. One editor wrote back and said that my doctrine was unorthodox and would therefore not find much appeal with Christians. I do not doubt that this was an opinion shared by the other Christian book publishers.
I was hesitant to press this matter too far, for I understood that we can at times force a door open that God does not desire for us to walk through. I was seeking to remain sensitive to the voice of the Spirit, accepting that it might very well be the Father’s will that I not follow traditional book publishing practices. There are certainly dangers involved in going down that road, among which is the pressure to conform to the thoughts and ideas of agents, editors, and publishers that think they know best what people need to hear. Their notions are often guided by knowledge of what sells. Many fail to recognize that what men want to hear is not necessarily what they need to hear. Messages that are inspired of the Holy Spirit are frequently unpopular, a fact which does not endear such writings to companies that earn their income from numbers of units sold.
I concluded shortly that it was not the Father’s will that I sell my books through a publishing house. In fact, I was persuaded that I should not look at them as a potential source of revenue, but should freely give them away. This was made practicable by the advent of the Internet. I created the Heart4God website in 1999 and have had my books posted on the site from the beginning. This is a practice continued to this day. I have additionally added many shorter writings, along with audio messages, all of which are offered freely.
In 2008 I did use a self-publishing company to put four of my books in paperback form. This was for those who find it difficult, or undesirable, to read online. Yet, I made it clear that the same books in their entirety could be read online at no cost. I have not had the funds available to purchase the paperbacks in bulk and give them away, and unfortunately I am unable to designate the pricing of the books sold by the publishing company. I believe their prices are exorbitant, which has led me to not recommend the paperback versions to people who are able to access the same writings online at no cost.
A few years ago I also made ten of my books available in Amazon’s Kindle e-book format for the convenience of those who use Kindle readers. I set the price of the books at $1.00 each, not because I wanted to earn money from them in this way, but because I believed Amazon should receive some return for using their distribution system. The same books can be downloaded freely in PDF format on the Heart4God website.
Over the years I have made public the distribution policy for my books and writings. There is a copyright statement inside the front cover of each of my online books. It reads, “Permission of the author is hereby granted for copying, printing and distributing this book to others, either in part or in whole. However, no charge may be associated with the distribution.”
I have had owners of other websites ask permission to re-post my books or shorter writings. I have always told them they may do so without any restriction on my part. I have informed them that they are not even required to provide a link back to my website(s), though many choose to do so as a courtesy. I have often been reminded of the words Yahshua spoke to His disciples, “Freely you have received. Freely give.”
I did not enter into ministry with well defined ideas of the manner in which books and teachings should be distributed. I have, however, always had a caution about making the ministry into a business. There are still merchants and moneychangers in the house of God, and I do not desire to be numbered among them. The crass merchandising of religious material strikes me as antagonistic to the life of Christ. I cannot envision Christ or His apostles attempting to copyright their words and sell them. Their hearts were always to give freely to those who were spiritually hungry and thirsty.
Yahweh has continually reminded me that it was He who directed me to leave my employment in the computer field in 1999 and to minister through writing. Consequently, He is responsible for my welfare. He has directed me to make my needs known to Him. I have never had a campaign drive, a fund-raiser, or an online store, nor have I engaged in any of the myriad of practices employed by other ministries to generate revenue. Yahweh has directed me to stand in faith, reckoning the words of His Son to be true.
“Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
Yahweh has assured me that as I go where He sends, and do what He commands, that He will be the guarantor of all my needs. This is a wonderful promise, for it is based upon the faithfulness of God rather than the fickleness of man. Standing in faith, confident of the Lord’s provision, has freed me from striving and brought much inner peace. I have been loosed from feeling the weight of being responsible to figure out on my own how I am going to meet expenses. I am liberated from the pressure to scheme and dream up ways to coax people to send me money. I am set free of any compulsion to sell, or profit financially from, that which Yahweh has entrusted to me.
Having walked in this way for many years now, I can attest to Yahweh’s faithfulness. The birds of the air are not fed better than I, and the lilies of the field are not shown any greater attention as God clothes them.
In reflection back upon the way Yahweh has led me to conduct myself in ministry these many years, I discern that a principle of the kingdom of God is in effect. The principle is this: When we give freely to others those things they deem valuable, it stirs up in them a reciprocal desire to give back in return. The apostle Paul said that it is fitting and proper for the body of Christ to function in this manner.
I Corinthians 9:11
If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?
To my mind, it is unseemly to have to berate others into giving to the support of one of Christ’s chosen ministers. Paul was not doing so when he wrote to the saints at Corinth. He was merely giving a defense of the rightness of this practice, for there were some in Corinth who were unjustly critical of him. It seems to me that it is far more preferable to lead by example. As a minister gives freely of the spiritual things entrusted to him, he is setting an example for others to give freely. A free-will offering is preferable to one that has to be coaxed, or dragged from the hands of another. Yahweh loves a cheerful giver.
John wrote of the reciprocity of love in his first epistle, “We love, because He first loved us.” It seems to me that giving works in much the same way. Have you not observed that when you give something of value to another person that their reaction is often to want to give something of value in return? I believe that in the Millennial Kingdom this attitude of desiring to give will supplant the principle of merchandising and consumerism so prevalent today. Rather than having stores on every block where people are seeking to sell you their merchandise, I believe people will gather together in common places to share with others those things of value that they possess.
When Christ begins to rule in men’s hearts, I foresee the entire arena of commerce being transformed. People will want to produce things of value so they can bless others with them. Greed will be replaced with charity. Those who give will not need to concern themselves about those who would take advantage of their generosity. They will simply rejoice in being able to give freely to all, even to those who do not appreciate their giving. This is a manifestation of the heart of God.
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
It will take some time, but eventually, all men will desire to give freely to others. They will be ashamed to have the entitlement mentality that is in such manifestation today, an attitude that says that the world owes them something. The Spirit of Christ will convict all, leading them to humility and selflessness. I can envision huge Flea Markets being set up, but instead of operating as Flea Markets, they will be FREE Markets. People will bring whatever they have of value in order to give freely to others.
“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”
In the Kingdom of Christ there will not be a cash register to be seen. The principle of caring for one’s neighbor will be practiced by all.
Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.
Romans 12:10-13, 20-21
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit..., contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality... if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Yahshua, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men.
You cannot out-give God. Should you give all your possessions to feed the poor, Yahweh will not forsake you. He has said:
He who is gracious to a poor man lends to Yahweh, and He will repay him for his good deed.
Through the years in which Yahweh has called me to minister after this manner, He has proven the truth of the following words:
There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, but it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.
God has called me to give freely. He has instructed me to give with liberality and not to concern myself with being remunerated. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive. Yet, if our giving should stimulate others to give in return, then the other person is also afforded opportunity to be a blessing. What a day it will be when all mankind will be givers rather than takers!
Live Free - Give Freely
The transformation of society must begin with the people of God. I encourage you to seek the Father to know in what ways He might direct you to cast off the consumer mindset of this fallen world and to manifest the Spirit of Christ which is a Spirit of giving. Perhaps He will direct you to sell houses and lands and to live more simply that you can give to others. Perhaps He will direct you as He did the young ruler who inquired of Christ what he must do to inherit life.
And looking at him, Yahshua felt a love for him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.
Perhaps your house is filled with superfluous material items that you do not need. It is the practice of many to gather up their excess and have a yard sale so they can earn money to buy other things their heart desires. Why not give away the things you do not need instead. Ask Yahweh to guide you to those individuals who could use what you do not need. Or sell the items and use the money to bless someone who is in need. You cannot make a better investment than lending to the Lord. He has promised to repay and His bank will never fail.
As we see the days we live in grow ever darker in this dog-eat-dog world, it is encouraging to know that Christ will transform all facets of society. Why wait to experience the transformation when the Spirit of Yahshua is present within you now? Be a forerunner. Be a giver in a society that is filled with takers. Cast your bread upon the waters of humanity and see if it does not come back to you multiplied.
“Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”
Do you believe these words to be true? If you believe it, you will practice it.
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