adding to God's Word for man's own selfish gain. During the time of Martin
Luther, the Roman Catholic Church was notorious for its widespread practice of
selling indulgences. The people were taught to believe that by giving to the
church, they could obtain God's favor, thereby enabling their dead relatives to
be released from purgatory. Today we laugh at such a concept and wonder to
ourselves how the people could fall for such false teaching.
But during this time the common people were denied access to the Word of God,
so they believed anything they were told, especially by the priests. Despite the
fact that we now have the Word of God readily available to us, many still
believe what the “priests” today tell them.
Take, for example, the latest twist on the “seed faith” teaching. It is based
around Moses' instruction to Israel about their three annual feasts. The key
phrase ministers emphasize is, “You shall not appear before the Lord
empty-handed” (see Ex. 23:14-15; Deut. 16:15-17).
The teaching goes like this: In order to gain God's favor you have to bring
Him an offering, and the larger the offering, the greater will be His favor
One prominent shyster teaches that on the Day of Atonement each year God
decides how He is going to treat us during the year ahead. What influences His
decision is whether or not we have given Him a sufficient offering.
No offering, no favors. The “favors” include angelic protection, the defeat
of one's enemies, financial prosperity, healing and so on. According to this
teaching, to appear before the Lord empty-handed is to sign your own death
warrant. Hence, the popularity of the message.
What the teachers of this false doctrine don't tell you is the full context
of the verse they are quoting. Moses actually tells the people, “'The Lord your
God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so
that you surely rejoice.
'Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in
the place which He chooses: at the [Feasts] … and they shall not appear before
the Lord empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able according to the
blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you'” (Deut. 16:15-17, NKJV,
God's blessing was not conditional upon their giving to Him but upon His
having already given to them. They were not blessed because they gave; they gave
because they were blessed. (It is also important to understand that these
requirements are no longer valid under the New Covenant.)
Every spiritual first-grader knows that we cannot merit God's favor. God is
not for sale to the highest bidder nor can we earn His favor by our own effort
When Paul addressed the Stoic philosophers on Mars Hill and sought to
describe the difference between the true God and their many idols, he told them
this about God: “He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25).
What sets God apart from all other gods is that He is a giver. What utter
blasphemy, then, to suggest that God can be bribed to favor us by our giving to
Ministers who teach this “give-to-get” doctrine and TV hosts who invite them
on their telethons need to heed the warning of the apostle James, “Let not many
of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment”
David Ravenhill is a former pastor and full-time traveling minister whose desire
is to see the church come to maturity through intimacy with God. He and his
wife, Nancy, have three grown daughters and reside in Garden Valley, Texas.