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Sunday English Service - 03 July 2016 - Material Prosperity : Good or Evil?

Transcript

We have been teaching on the subject of love for quite some time. And today I am going to begin a new series. We just completed it last week. And today we are going to begin a new series and this time it’s going to be on – I am going to title it this way. I have taught on this subject in various ways at various times. But I am going to deal with some of the things that I have never dealt with before and maybe more thoroughly than ever because I want to do once in my lifetime a thorough job of this. Because I consider this a very important subject. So I am going to take this opportunity for the next several weeks to come to deal with it in the most thorough way possible for me to deal with it. I have been teaching it for a long time and it’s been a blessing to people but after years of teaching this thing for more than nearly 40 years of teaching this thing I think now that I can say even more than I have ever said about this particular subject. I have learned a lot more ever since I have begun to teach and I want to share with you some of these things that maybe I have never shared with you before. So this is very important.
It’s going to be about material prosperity. I am going to title it like this – Material Prosperity: Good or evil? I am going to deal with that particular question. Is it good or evil? It’s because this is a question that plagues every Christian. We live in a society where we have Christians who are of the opinion that material blessing and Christian faith are not in any way compatible. They don’t go together. Material wealth and spirituality, they think, cannot go together. They are totally incompatible. That if you are materially blessed then you cannot be very spiritual. That’s their opinion. And it is because of this kind of thing, many people are hindered in walking in the blessings of God. When you do not change your mind regarding this, then there is always a block in your mind towards walking in material prosperity. You will be probably a good believer and may have success in other areas of life, but when it comes to material prosperity there is always a block because you have believed this opinion that has been put out there for a long time now, for centuries now that material blessing does not go with spirituality. And that wealth is basically ungodly. But I am going to show you the godliness of wealth. That’s the whole point of my teaching. In fact I wanted to first of all title it as godliness wealth but it will shock some people. So I don’t want to be too shocking and give people a heart attack. But basically that’s what I want to talk about. Godliness of wealth. People cannot imagine something like that, that wealth can be godly. But I want to show you from the Scriptures that wealth can indeed be godly.
Now this wealth negative perspective is rampant. It’s everywhere. You find it among all kinds of Christians. In fact you will find very few people that don’t have that perspective. Most people have a negative perspective about wealth. They think of it only in the negative way. They think it’s unimportant, they think we shouldn’t pay any attention to that. They think that doesn’t matter. That is not an important issue at all. That if you are a spiritual person you will never be considering material wealth and all these things as anything to be studied and so on. But it’s a fact that the Bible teaches a lot about material wealth and its significance. And it’s place in the whole plan and purpose of God. The place of material wealth in the whole plan and the purpose of God. The Bible teaches a whole lot about it. But yet people believe more traditional beliefs than believe the Bible, because very rarely the Bible is systematically taught. That is one thing I want to do here. I want to go about it systematically. I am guaranteeing you that I will go from Genesis to Revelations this time. And I am going to deal with questions so that there will be no doubt in your mind. Every question that you wish to ask will be addressed here. You don’t have to ask it, I already know it. So, we are going to address it here. We are going to address all the questions that may arise in people’s minds regarding this whole issue.
Now, I have seen this too much. This kind of opinion regarding material prosperity. I remember seeing a very famous TV personality interviewing another person concerning this whole subject, talking about Christianity and material wealth and all that. She coolly says – I don’t think she has ever read the Bible and I don’t think she even attends church but she speaks like an authority and she is an authoritative figure on that television – but in Christianity you are not supposed to have anything. You are supposed to give up everything and follow Christ. Aren’t you? That’s what true Christianity is all about. Just coolly she says that. And everybody seems to agree. They have no problem with that because that’s the kind of Christianity that they have heard. That Jesus had nothing. We should have nothing. Nobody that’s a Christian should have anything because to be a Christian, the thing that qualifies you to become a Christian and be a Christian is that you give up everything that you have and come and follow him. They have verses for that. If any man wants to follow me, he must deny himself. So that deny himself is interpreted in so many ways so that people have denied everything from their very life and their very existence in order to comply with what they think the Scripture is saying. But we will address that later on. The thing is this – basically what they are doing when they are saying material wealth is bad and it is incompatible with Christianity, what they are saying is this – they are calling that which God called good, they are calling it bad, they are calling it evil. That’s the problem with it. God has called it good, they call it evil. In the first chapter of Genesis, you will find 7 places, I am going to read one of those verses – I am going to read Genesis 1:31 little later, including 1:31, in 7 places God looks at things he has created – material things he created – and calls them good. God saw what he had made and he said it is good. 7 times it appears. Again and again. The author of the book of Genesis clearly is trying to get across a point there. That these material things are to be viewed with God’s perspective, not with your religious perspective. See, religion has really ruined us. Not with the religious perspective which says material things are bad, view it with God’s perspective, when God who created everything saw what he created every time he saw what he created, he called it good. He said – let there be light and there was light. He said it’s good and so on. From verse 3 onwards it goes on. 3, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25 and then you read in 31. All these verses again and again what God created God saw. And it pleased him and that it was good. Now isn’t it amazing that 7 times the first chapter itself says that what God created is good? Again and again the author of the book of Genesis is trying to get across to us the whole point in him narrating the creation story is this – that we must understand that what God created is good. He is not trying to prove some scientific point there. Chapter 1 of Genesis is not about Science. It’s not a scientific explanation of how the world was made. It is basically a presentation of the creation that God had made and its purpose in God’s mind. So he is trying to convey that. He says it’s good. What God created, God saw, and he never found anything wrong with it. It’s good. What he is trying to say is – you better consider it as good if God considered it as good. You better think of it as good. Until you think of material wealth that God has put in this world as good you will never attract even one little bit of that material wealth towards you. You don’t think it, you will never attract it. Even that material wealth, all the good things that God has put in the world. In Tamil they say – vekkamanu rosham – it will never come near you if you don’t consider it good, if you think that it is some kind of evil to be detested and disliked then it will never even come near you. You will repel it. Even the wealth that is trying to come to you, you will not get it. Because your mind repels every blessing that God wants to bring your way. The moment you begin to put your mind right, order your mind and think like God thinks, and have a perspective from the Scriptures and you say – well, God made everything and he called it good, therefore I am going to call it good. It it’s good then I want it. Then you will become like a magnet that draws every material resource that God put there so that you can use it, enjoy it, and utilize it for God’s purposes for your life. So, that is my whole purpose in teaching this that nobody should miss out on the blessings of God. That everyone should walk in the blessings of God. you should not believe some lie out there in the world that has been propagated for centuries and miss out on God’s blessings that he gave us by dying on the Cross, shedding his blood, becoming a curse for us, not so that we must live in a curse but we must live in a blessing of God, that is why he has done it. I don’t want anybody to miss it. I want you to get this point and get this point once and forever. No more questions. That’s the way I want to deal with it this time.
Now, even after I have said all this, I know some people will say – well, brother the problem with this is, when you have too much money, when you have too much of material resources, material things, you have too much of them then you will forget God. Now this is another lie. We have said Amen to that for long time. I think I stopped saying Amen quickly. I am very quick on the trigger. I am a Pentecostal so anything anybody says – it sounds good, I will say – hallelujah, amen. I don’t do that anymore. I think. Is he saying what is right? I don’t want to be Amen-ing something that’s rubbish. I want to think about what somebody is saying. So if you say that material wealth is going to lead a person away from God and never lead a person to God, consider this.
Recently one great author wrote this and he said – there is going to come a revival in this world today because the world is changing. even the poorer countries are turning into wealthy countries. Societies are turning wealthy today because of the kind of economical system and life that is now promoted these days, wealth has become a thing that reaches the major part of the society. There are countries where there are no poor and who they call poor is very rich here. The poor have a nice car, the poor have refrigerator, air-conditioning, the poor have a good education, the poor have a good bed to sleep in, the poor have 6 meals if they wanted. That’s the poor, they are comparatively richer than the rich in many places. So there are many countries that are experiencing total change in their society, completely they have become wealthy and prosperous to such an extent he says now its going to be that a revival is going to come and the revival is going to begin in these places where people are filled with riches. How and why revival will begin there? He says it will begin there because people are going to realize what the Bible says. Man shall not live by bread alone. When you have got too much bread it’s no problem, do not worry about it, you think you have got it made. But people that have too much bread are going to find that they are not satisfied just with bread. That if they don’t have Christ, if they don’t have relationship with God they don’t have a purpose and meaning for life. And don’t have a purpose for all the wealth that they possess. They are going to be lost, they are going to be searching for answers. And they are going to seek God and their relationship with God and a meaning and a purpose for all the riches they have and everything that God has blessed them with and in their search that God is going to move in a mighty way and bring about a revival and pour out his Holy Spirit and draw them to himself. So it is wrong to think that only poverty draws people to God. I used to think like that before. That’s why I am saying. It’s wrong to think that poverty will drive a person to seek God. Yeah. Poverty may drive a person to seek God, sure. If I was poor and didn’t have job, didn’t have money, didn’t have a place to stay, if I was living in abject poverty, I would cry out to God and I will seek for answers and I will probably find God if I had any sense at all. I would do something and find God. It’s true that poverty might drive a person to God but it is equally true, that’s what I am trying to say, that extreme riches also in many cases will cause such disillusionment and dissatisfaction in people and drive them to God to seek God and a relationship with God. You have got to think in a new way, you got to think in a new situation, you can’t be an old thinker, 50 year old thinker – oh! Riches will drive people away from God. No. That’s old thinking. Think modern way. Think in line with the current situation. Societies are becoming rich, countries are becoming rich, even country like India are becoming rich. Riches are coming everywhere, whole societies permeated with it today. And so you need to think very biblically concerning things. Man shall not live by bread alone. That fact is going to come alive for a lot of rich people, they are going to realize that man shall not live by bread alone. Bread alone is not enough, money alone is not enough. There is something more than money and bread that they need to satisfy. They are going to seek for relationship with God.
So I am going to show you that this wealth negative assumption concerning material prosperity is mistaken and totally wrong. I will show you that from the beginning to the end the Bible teaches there is a way to be affluent which is good. The only thing that being affluent is bad, can only lead to evil, being affluent means evil comes with it. No, there is a way. Sure, you can be affluent and be evil also and affluence can lead to evil. But there is a way I say, to be affluent, wealthy and be good also. In other words, there is a way in which affluence can be godly, very spiritual, very beneficial for your life and God’s purposes in your life. See this is the condition. Material affluence or prosperity is the condition that God envisions for human beings for all eternity. Do you know one day, the Bible says, that God is going to usher a new heaven and a new earth? Everything old is going to go, be ushered into heaven. God is going to turn everything around and make new heaven and new earth. And for all eternity we are going to live in a totally different kind of situation. No hunger, no pain, no tears, no want, no lack, in total realm of affluence, and plenty and abundance and riches beyond your wildest imagination. Just imagine that. For people that say that’s not God’s will, that’s evil, I am telling you God lives in that kind of a place now in heaven surrounded by God and diamonds and all that, surrounded by all these material things that we consider evil and he wants us to live in that kind of situation. That’s what eternity for us is going to be like. Not only eternity to come, but in the beginning when God created man and the world for man, he created with that in mind. God wanted man to live in a place of abundance. Earth in God’s plan and purpose was a place of abundance. God never created a place of lack and want for man. He created a place of abundance for man. So that man can live in abundance. That’s God’s desire for human beings, for this earthly life. That’s God’s desire for us in the heavenly life, throughout all eternity. That is why we say when a person is affluent, when a person rises in life, overcomes poverty and lack and want and insufficiency and succeeds and comes up in life and does well, financially or materially, he reflects the created order of God which was essentially good.
In the beginning God made an order, by creating world as a wealthy place and putting man in there, he showed us that this is the order he wants. This is the created order, this is God’s will and when a man overcomes poverty and lives in sufficiency and having more than enough I will tell you he reflects the good, created order of God in some way. He is moving closer to that Eden that God planned for man. Even though it was lost by Adam and Adam has plunged us into sin and misery and poverty is one of the miseries that came with sin into this world, when a man today overcomes that and by the grace of God lives a blessed life, he is moving closer to the original intent and purposes of God. You should not look at that as an evil, you should look at it as good. He is moving closer to the good created order of God. That’s why I believe there is a godliness about wealth. Nobody can deny that. It is good. It is good in the same way that it was good in the Garden of Eden, it is good in the same way that it was good in the Promised Land where it was flowing with milk and honey. It is good in the same way that it will be good in heaven. There we will be walking on streets of gold, with compound walls of diamond and all of that.
Why is it not good? I asked the people that say there is no godliness in wealth, wealth is basically ungodly. I say to you – Eden was godly, the Promised Land Canaan was godly, heaven is going to be godly. In what way do you say that wealth is ungodly? I believe there is a way in which wealth can be godly. I know that wealth can be ungodly also in this sinful world but there is a way – you cannot deny that there is a way that wealth can be godly. If it was godly in Eden, then why not now? If it was godly for the people of Israel, a rebellious disobedient people, I would say worse than us. If it was godly for them that God would give them a Promised Land flowing with milk and honey, why can’t it be godly for us? These are questions people will not be able to answer. If it’s going to be godly in heaven why is it not godly now? If it’s going to be godly in heaven why can’t it be godly now? Some people have a totally wrong idea of life. One man preaching said – looking at people that were wearing gold, chains and all that, said – that doesn’t belong in your neck. And then he says where does it belong? It belongs in the offering box. I say – if it doesn’t belong in the neck how can you put it in the offering box, that dirty thing? If it can’t go on your neck you can’t put it in your offering box. Offering box is holy. It’s money, set apart for God, it’s God’s money. People giving to God, out of their heart, brining their tithes and all. You can’t put that dirty in that offering. We don’t even think about what we believe. We simply speak. And such nonsense really. Please think. See, I have been told that gold and silver is evil for ages. They used to tell us back in those days – if you wore gold you will go straight to hell. No compromise. They were cut and right back in those days. You will go straight to hell. Then I found out that heaven is full of gold. I could not contain my joy and I went and asked them – heaven is full of gold? They said – well, there they walk on gold, so I said – I don’t have enough gold to walk on gold, at least I can put one on somewhere, in my body, a little few grams, 4-5 grams maybe. No that’s bad. How come walking on gold is going to be good, but wearing a thin gram of gold is going to be bad. I can’t understand that. So as Christians we need to think. Many things we believe in are really things that people have taught but not the Bible. So let’s go and look at it.
Let’s begin with Genesis 1. That’s where I want to go. And I want to read chapter 1:31. ‘Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good’. I want to stop right there. Wonderful words. I want you to get this before you go home today. And shout for joy as you got out of this place. God saw everything that he had made and indeed it was very good. Now, let me tell you something first about Genesis early chapters. That’s where you must start whatever subject you are studying. That’s my belief. Whatever subject you are studying you need to somehow refer back to chapter 1 and 2 and 3. Because that’s the story of the revelation of the original intent of God before the world was ruined by sin. What God actually intended, then how it got spoiled and the rest of the story of the Bible is about the restoration of those things back to the original purpose and intent. That’s the way Bible goes. So the first three chapters are very, very important. So you have got to go back. You notice all the great Bible teachers and scholars, they always go back to the first chapter. They always say the first chapter is very important. So anything they talk about – they talk about God they go to the first chapter because in the very first verse there is God. In the beginning God crated heaven and the earth. You want to talk about Jesus? In the very first chapter Jesus is there. God’s word is there. And you want to talk about the Holy Spirit, verse 2 – Holy Spirit is there. Holy Spirit moved on the face of the waters in the midst of the chaos and emptiness and darkness. So like that, you want to study the Trinity you go back to the first chapter. You want to study man, you go back to the first chapter. You want to study about sin, you go back to the third chapter, the Creation. You want to understand man, you go to the first and second chapters. You want to study sin of man, you go to the third chapter. The fall, you go to the fourth chapter. See, without these three chapters, you cannot do well. For everything you need to go back. It’s better to go back and start from there. That’s why I am starting from here, but we are going to go everywhere.
But the thing is this, people go back there for everything. We go back there to learn about God, learn about the Holy Spirit, about Jesus, about the Word of God and about the creation, about the world, about the fall, about man and about everything. But when it comes to prosperity they will never go back. I don’t know why. That’s the terrible mistake that people make because if you read the first two chapters, many confusions will be cleared. Many books are written against this whole idea of prosperity. And they condemn this idea of prosperity, they discourage people from being affluent. There is a book that is titled ‘Rich Christians in an age of hunger. Moving from affluence to generosity’. Sounds good but it condemns affluence. You have any more than what you need you are not very good Christian. You have too much more than what you need you are not a spiritual person. Christians in an age of hunger. You are living in the midst of hunger how can you have so much? That’s the thing. But the thing is these people never solved anybody’s problem. A man like Bill Gates have solved more problems in this world than these people that are complaining about riches. Because he has got riches and how much he has given, so this is totally unreasonable to say things like that. There is another book that came out, this man takes the view – they are all very great men, learned men but they take this view that he says – neither riches nor poverty. He gets it from the verse in Proverbs 30:8 where the author says ‘don’t give me poverty or riches because poverty will kill me and riches will spoil me. So neither riches nor poverty. That’s his philosophy. So what is a Christian? He is neither rich nor poor. He is miserable. He is right there in the middle. He is just a Christian. A Christian is this wonderful person who is just got basically just enough-hand to mouth. He can just eat and live and he prays like this – Father, I thank you for you have given me enough for me and my wife, and my two kids. Thank you for the little car, thank you for the little house, thank you for the three meals a day, thank you for all the many good little blessings you have given, thank you Lord. But there is something terribly wrong with that prayer. Because this man cannot reach out and do anything to anybody, any good to anybody because he has a tough time having enough for himself. When he gets through eating there is nothing left in his part to even give some food to another man. Many people can’t even feed their people that cook the food. The cooks have to cook the food and walk out – no food, go. Because how can we feed you? Too much. How would you like to be in a situation where it doesn’t matter, you can feed him also? No problem. What a wonderful benefit that is? You give him some good food, comes and works and cooks for you and you give him some good food. I would rather want to be in that position where it doesn’t matter to me. I can give him a nice plate of food, with all the good stuff in it so that he can also eat from the food that I have made for myself. Which is better? That these people are saying that you shouldn’t have much more than what you need for yourself. It’s a sin to have anything more than what you need for yourself. The moment you allow yourself to possess these things, finished. These possessions will have you and you will be ruined. And all that business. So their policy is neither riches, nor poverty. In that he has a chapter that is titled – from Eden to Moses. He is talking about the Bible, from Genesis to maybe Deuteronomy or Joshua or something like that. the whole story and its conclusion is this – from Eden to Moses. He has read that and I have also read that. You have read that. You know what his conclusion is? His conclusion is this- therefore God says that the model that we should have for our life is that he gives us daily manna. Manna model. What is manna model? Everyday what you need, it will come. Exactly what you need, no more than what you need. Only what you need you will get. No more than that. How do you like that model? It’s like a good ration shop. Your stomach has been measured. They know exactly how much you need, how much food you need, you can pick up enough food for that day and no more and this is it. It’s a limited meals system. If I am going to eat somewhere, I am going to unlimited meals section. Few bucks more but you don’t have to worry about them saying – no this is it. We will give you only one cup, no more. I like the unlimited idea because I believe my God is an unlimited God.
What these people are saying is – God gives you limited meals. And limited comfort, limited everything. You need to be limited in all your resources. That’s the right Christian way to live. So he says – after reading from Eden to Moses, he says – listen, I found out what God wants for us. God wants the manna model for us that everyday just like he gave manna to the people in Israel he wants to give us manna. This is the model. I am saying – if that is the model that God wants us to follow then why did he stop it at 40 years. After 40 years, the manna stopped. Does that mean that after 40 years, my manna is also going to stop? I don’t want that model. Why did he stop the manna? I am sure many people complained. They say, well everyday he has been giving. You said he is the same yesterday, today and forever. Where is the manna today? 40 years it’s been coming. Today it hasn’t come. Why did it stop? The answer is this – because you are going to eat better variety chicken one day, mutton next day, fish another day, biriyani another day, prawns the next day. All kind of whatever you grow, you can eat, you are going to have you own land, you can go grow your own vegetables, you can raise your own cattle, you can eat whatever you like to your heart’s liking, you can eat whatever you want, which one you want to have? The same white stuff that falls from heaven every day, boring even though it falls from heaven every day? Or this wonderful opportunity to go and sow and reap and grow whatever you like, and however much you like and eat whatever you like. I would choose no.2. That’s better. I say to you – I have read the same Genesis to Deuteronomy and my conclusion is this – what does God want for me? Genesis, I read God wants Eden for me. By the time I get to Joshua I read that God doesn’t want manna for me, because he has stopped the manna for the people of Israel. That’s a blessing he stopped it. Because God wants for me the land flowing with milk and honey. In that land there is abundance of food, there is abundance of everything. That’s what God wants for me. See how we come to wrong conclusions, because we don’t notice what is going on in Genesis 1 and we don’t understand that as a model for our life. I believe that Genesis 1 is the model. Genesis 1 is the vision of God for man, man’s life, human life. This is what God wants the world to be like. This is what God wants man to live like. That’s the model. Sin ruined that. Man became poor, miserable and so on after sin came in. But God still wants that Eden model. Salvation is about that. The Promised Land is about that. The land of Canaan is about that. That’s why God went in and got these people that were slaves in Egypt and got them out. He heard their cry, brought them out, that’s why he promised all those blessings to Abraham. Why? He wants this man living in the days of famine and lack and want to enter into abundance. He is saying to Abraham, you will be blessed. No famine for you, Abraham. You are a person who believes in me. I want you to be blessed. I will bless you, make you great. You will be a blessed person. Why? Because he wants people to come back to Eden. He wants to redeem people, bring them back to Eden. That’s why Abraham was blessed, Isaac was blessed, Jacob was blessed, Joseph was blessed. That’s why when their descendants, the whole nation of Israel was caught in slavery and lived in slavery. For so many years, God heard their cry and remembered his promise to them and went and got them out and he said to them when he brought them out – I am going to take you to a land flowing with milk and honey, a large and vast and good land flowing with milk and honey. Where is that land? That’s the land which is the life in Christ Jesus through redemption. That’s what the picture is all about. That’s what it teaches. That’s the way you should view the Bible. Bible clearly says. Paul says. All those things are showing this. What is the Promised Land about? It is about redemption and about our life in Christ, the blessings that are in and through Jesus Christ. That’s what the Bible teaches. So it’s important to begin with chapter 1.
When you begin with chapter 1, we have already done it. We have read chapter 1 and 31. And it says – God saw everything that was made and it indeed was very good. Now, you can understand this verse fully only when you understand the first 30 verses. Because this is only verse 31, the last verse. This is the conclusion or the comment after he created everything and after he created man. God saw everything and he said that it was good.
So the first 30 verses must be understood. Now, the first 30 verses reveals basically 3 things - the truth about God, the truth about the world and the truth about man. These 3 things. God, the world and man. Now, what is the truth about God? What is the truth about God and nature and man? It’s like this. The first chapter shows that nature, the created things are not divine, they cannot be God. See in the ancient times, when the book of Genesis was written, other nations that lived at that time believed that created things were gods. They believed that Sun was a god, Moon was a good, the stars were a good. They were used to venerating and worshipping these created things as gods. They believed that the Sun, Moon and the stars were living souls. Many created things were basically a living soul, their god, they can will and they can determine and so on. They saw them as a living soul. So, they worshipped those things. But do you know among the Hebrew people from where the book of Genesis comes, from the Hebrew tradition, the Hebrew people were forbidden to worship any idols. Idolatry was totally forbidden, strictly forbidden. Why? What is the issue with idolatry? The issue with idolatry is it is a thing that was made, that can never become God. How can you worship a thing? How can you worship a Sun? Because God created the Sun, there is a God that is the Creator, he must be worshipped, never the creation. So, this is something new in those days. The Bible was written, when the book of Genesis was written, the Hebrew people they were totally different. They refused to worship idols. Idolatry was forbidden among them because they believed God and the people that God made are two different things. Now this will help us understand our relationship to wealth and material things. The reason I say that is because this is the basis of our dealings with material things. So what is material thing to us? We do not worship material things. We don’t bow before material things. We don’t treat material things as god. We don’t venerate material things. Material things are just things, creations. That’s all. But just because it is demoted and diminish the status and value of nature and the world and said they are not god, they can never be god, they are only created things, just because we have demoted and demolished them in status and value, it doesn’t mean that we have reduced them to the nature of a mere object so that we can do with it whatever we want. We are not saying that we won’t worship anything because it’s only a thing, God is the one who created the thing, I will worship only God, not the thing, by saying that we have demoted and diminished the thing. And brought it back to its original place that it should have. But it doesn’t mean that we have reduced it to a level of unimportance, reduced to a level of mere object we can just kick around and do with it whatever we want, that it has no value and no respect and it is not precious. We don’t reduce it to that level. We say it’s not god but we don’t reduce it to the level where we say that it’s not of any value or there is no preciousness about the creation. What is the Christian attitude towards the creation? The Christian attitude is this, the Christian teaching is this – Creation that God called forth to be when he spoke the words is good. What is our attitude towards material things? It’s good. What are material things to us? This is the only thing I want you to get today before you go home. Because I am going to build on that in the days to come.
The thing that we need to get today is that we believe that material things are created by God, man never created anything, man only takes what has been created and out of it creates something, some inventions and so on he comes up with but man never created anything. When man creates something, it is not original creation. It is only making something of something. But God created something out of nothing. God created, really created. So what we are saying is – everything that God created is good. In fact God calls it very good. I don’t know if it is going in still. You cannot, it’s very wrong to look at anything that God has created and call it bad.
There may be some people that may use it to do bad things, there may be some people that take a piece of metal, sharpened it into a knife so that they can kill somebody. And another person may sharpen it to be used as a tool to construct something – an equipment. It can be used for good and bad, but you cannot call anything that God had made evil. It is not evil, it’s good. It’s very good, I like that. And as long as we teach it, every day you get up in the morning and say – everything that you look at, say it’s very good, you look at your house and you say it’s very good, you look at your car and you say it’s very good, you look at your clothes and you say it’s very good. One man said –he is become very worldly, I said – what happened? I remember this actually happened, I said what happened. Why do you say? No, no he is changed brother, he is wearing shoes now. See what kind of background I have come from. I have come a long way. I have travelled long distance in this spiritual- he is wearing shoes brother and I have never worn anything but rubber slippers for 35 years. This fellow is wearing shoes. Becoming very unspiritual, proud, arrogant. You look at your shoes and say – very good, because God made something, out of that, this shoe company has made this thing. It’s not bad, it’s good for you. Wear it. Keep dirt out of your feet, protect your feet, it’s good for you, it’s comfortable, it’s nice. It’s not evil, it’s not bad. It’s good. Look at everything and call it good. Because God created. Whatever God has created its good. People said – I remember my father brought an old refrigerator from a missionary who was leaving the country. Old refrigerator. It’s like that tin can refrigerator. That’s what we could afford in those days. We went and nobody had refrigerator in those days. I think you think I am an old man. It’s not very long ago. He bought this old refrigerator and I remember few preachers were standing outside our house and this refrigerator came in a rickshaw and it was brought upstairs to our house and all these preachers are standing. One of them is saying – world is going. The world is entering into the man of God’s house. World. Look at your refrigerator and say it is good. Keeps your food good for many days. So you can easily take it and warm it and eat it. and keep the rest in there. Keeps the vegetables fresh. When God called it good, he saw. He had a foresight. He didn’t make refrigerators, he didn’t make airplanes, he didn’t make cars, he didn’t make houses, he didn’t make all those things. Man made all of these things out of what God has made, but God saw that man will take this and make all these things. That is why he saw it and said I have created these things, I can see the future that will be created through these things by man. therefore I say it is very good. I can see the comfort, I can see the joy, I can see the happiness that it will bring to men, I can see the wonderful blessing that it will be to people, in their life. When God created everything there was not even a bicycle. When Jesus was living there was not even a bicycle. Just imagine how far Paul would have gone in a bicycle. Boy! He would have been very fast going and preaching everywhere. He didn’t even have a bicycle. They didn’t know what a bicycle was. Nobody had imagined it. Thank God somebody thought of it. That is why you should understand the word good. When God said its good it had a far reaching meaning.
See, when I say that the chair is good, I am only thinking of its use. That I can sit on it, that’s why it is good. Utilitarian value. It’s good because somebody can sit on it. But when God said it is good, when he saw his creation and said it is good, he was not just looking at the utilitarian side of it, even though it was a part of it, it’s a very small part of it. He was not just thinking about the utilitarian part of it. He was thinking about something greater. In what way was it good? It is good rather in the sense of being a pure and holy thing, something that God respects. Something that God loves. Listen to this. When God looked at the creation that he had made, he called it good, not just because of its use and how it can be utilized but because he saw in it something that is pure and holy because it proceeds from him. He is the maker. He cannot make anything defective and evil. It’s good and pure and holy. And it’s perfect. He loved it. He takes pride in it. You see many verses in the Bible where God rejoices over his creation. He is proud of what he has made. He tells man – look at what I have done. Were you there when I spread out the heavens like a bed sheet? Things like that he says. Takes such pride and joy in talking about the world, things that he has made and put there. Take a good look at these things, he says. Who created them? Who made them work like this he says? So these are things that are good in this sense because they are pure, they are holy because come from God. God is the creator. It is something that God respects, that God loves. They are something that God takes delight in and they are perfect and they are purposeful. They fulfill a purpose of God in this world. They are there for a purpose. They do not exist purposelessly. God has a purpose for them. That’s why God delights in it. In the beauty of it, in the goodness of it. It is good. As I was preparing yesterday I kept saying – it is good. Everything is good. It’s wonderful. It’s good, it’s very good. I was going crazy with this. Very good. Just imagine what it will do for you when you start to think like that. Very good. Don’t have a negative attitude about these things. Don’t have a negative perspective of things. Don’t look at everything critically. Don’t say this is bad, that is bad, too much of that is bad, no, no. What God has created is good, it’s pure, its holy. God respects it, loves it. Therefore you need to respect it and love it also. When you see good things, you need to respect it and love it. Because people don’t understand these things, they don’t respect and love, nurture the beautiful things. We go to beautiful places and make them dirty places. I remember one time I was driving the car, one fellow is spitting from the bus, some red stuff that he was chewing. And he just turned and (makes a spitting sound) the thing came all the way over here to my car. We Indians can spit like no one can. If there is an Olympic competition on spitting, we will win it I think. When we spit, it reaches the neighbor’s house. That’s how far we can spit. We learned it over the years. All of a sudden it landed on my windshield. No respect. And so we spit all over the street and you go to some of these apartments. They spit on both sides, you have to walk in the centre. Like this. They dump their garbage anywhere and everywhere. We were living in one place, they were dumping the garbage right outside of our front compound wall and area. So I talked to this fellow and said – please! It’s stinking, full of flies, we can’t even sit out there. Can you just remove it? Put it somewhere else. Do something with it. Now they have got a different system. You have got to put it in a bag and wait for the guy to pick it up. It’s much better. But back in those days, everybody dumped it in the public garbage. And it was right outside our house. We couldn’t even stand there and talk to anybody. So I had it removed. So one guy that lived nearby came to me and said – how can you remove that garbage bin? I said – sir, at my expense I will put it right where you are. Right outside your house. I have no objection to it. Tomorrow I will arrange for it. He said – no! It was here. But I said – this is my house. You can’t have it here. I can’t live it in that stink. This is my house. You have it in your house. He takes pleasure in taking it and bringing it and dumping it in my house. There was a house by our house that was empty for many years. Locked up, empty compound. And all the people around from upstairs itself they throw their garbage, and it has become like a mountain almost drowning that house. Its a little bungalow there, its drowning the house, so much that recently they got rid of it, because of all kinds of rats and stuff running around and coming into our houses and other houses. They don’t even think. Because they have no concept of things around them. Swach Bharat is going to happen when Genesis 1 is understood. Genesis 1 says that God saw everything that he made and saw that it was very good. I hope one day we can look at India and see everywhere and say – oh! It is wonderful. Very good. See, let’s go on a little bit. So that’s nature. We don’t worship nature. We understand what nature is. But we don’t demote it and decrease its importance to the level where we think it’s unimportant. No no. we consider it as sacred because it comes from God. Holy, we consider it as good. We consider it as very good. We don’t think of it as a useless no good thing. We think of it as something that is good. That’s our attitude.
But look at man. Genesis 1 tells us about man also. It talks about God, about nature and about man. Look at man. What does it say about man? Genesis 1:26 says – then God said, let us make man in our image according to our likeness, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creepeth on the earth’. This is the making of man. Before God made man, God said – let’s make man in our image and likeness. Now lot of people have been debating what is image of God. When God said – let’s make man in our image and our likeness, what is that image? Some people said – it’s the ability to think and reason. Some others said it’s the capacity for relationship. Some people said it’s the capacity for moral knowledge, knowing what is good and what is wrong. All these things over the years, they have said these things. But now most of them agree and have come to a conclusion about this, because they have looked at the verse more closely. The answer is right there in that verse itself. It says – when God said let’s make man in our image and our likeness and let them rule and have dominion over everything. That’s what it says. They have always missed that. This dominion. This mandate to rule and have dominion comes alongside of this declaration that he is going to make man in his image and likeness. So what is man’s image and likeness? What is the image and likeness of God that is in man? It is the image and likeness that I would say that comes from God in him, the capacity to rule and reign and what is ruling and reigning? How does a man rule and reign? You look at chapter 1, you see how man ruled and reigned. How did he rule and reign? In the beginning God created the heaven and earth. Second verse says the world was without form and void, and darkness filled the earth. So there was darkness, emptiness and chaos. So how does God rule? How does this king of heaven and earth, the maker of heaven and earth rule in that situation? He removes the darkness, brings light, he moves the chaos and brings order, he removes the emptiness by bringing in wonderful, beautiful things, making beautiful things. He fills the world with every good thing. We sang today. The whole earth is filled with God’s goodness. You just see what God has put in this world, you see God’s goodness. So, this is what God has done. This is how he ruled. That same God says – let’s make man in our image. Just like us. Why did he make that man just like him? And he also says – let them rule. And have dominion. Over what? Over all that we have already made. So, what does that mean? It means that God makes man just like him, and gives him to his hands this wonderful good, creation, this thing he called very good. He gives it into man’s hands so that he can now tap into it. And find more resources into it. More possibilities in it. And explore it, research it, search it and find out more uses for his benefit in the future. That’s why he kept saying it’s good, it’s good, 6 times. But after he made everything, at every point he stopped and said it’s good. Then he made man as a final creation and then after he made man also, he looks at man that he has made and the creation that he has made, he looks at the two together, he says – now that makes sense. I made everything for man, it’s all made for man, his use, for his benefit, for his comfort, for his convenience, for his blessing. This should be a blessing to him and he has lot more than what he can see and find now and he is going to find and go into it and look into it and search and bring out many more things that are hidden that has never been tapped and explored. So he looks at man who has been put as Lord and master of creation and the creation that is very good. He looks at the combination of man and creation and he says – Oh! It’s very good. Very good, why? Why this time it’s very good and not just good? Because man is there. The man who is going to tap into it. Research it, go through it, explore it and bring out more out of this good earth that God has made. So he says very good. I have done all that I need to do then the rest he will do because he is just like me. He is made in my image and likeness. He is going to do the rest of it. He left it in man’s hands. So, in fact Adam could have built an airport and run a 747 there. But he never thought about it because where would he go? Who would he see? Where would he travel to? So that never entered into his mind. I say that because all the laws – the physical laws- that makes a 747 fly in the air were already made by God and put in place on that day when God made the earth and given it to man. He has already put it in place. So if Adam wanted to have an airplane he could have had an airplane. He never had it, but Adam’s children discovered it. 100 years ago they discovered it and flew and now such a wonderful blessing. And if you call airplane evil then we have got to call that person evil because the airplane is made with substances that God made. Out of what God made, man has made this thing. It comes from God. Everything from God is good. God saw in his foresight that one day we will have cars, we will have airplanes, we will build houses, we will build big buildings and we will build ships and we will build all kinds of things and we will build equipments and things that will be beneficial to man, that will bring great enjoyment to man, to discover these things and to bring up these possibility. God saw what joy and happiness this will bring to humanity, in their discovery and exploration and making of very things. God saw it all. I believe that. God saw the future far ahead and said –it’s very good. What I have made is very good, because there is a great future, great wonderful possibilities, possibilities that no one in their wildest imaginations can imagine. Now they have even come up with cars that drives itself, isn’t that something? You can finish church; get in the car, sleep. Put the address where you want to go, it will stop there. One fellow has written about it, he said - insurance companies will have to close down because there will be no accidents. That will be wonderful to live in India at that time, you can cross the road safely, travel safely. You are unsafe only when man is driving. All for our benefit. God saw that it was good. And that image and likeness is the image and likeness to rule and reign like God.
Now, that rule and dominion, that word, - have dominion over the earth, the word dominion – has a royal flavor to it. God speaks as the king of kings and the Lord of Lords, over the whole earth and whole heaven. He says – man shall have dominion. He is giving man a royal status. There is a great Old Testament teacher - I will just read this and close because this is fantastic – Gehrard Wonderard, this guy says – just as powerful earthly kings to indicate their power and dominion erect an image of themselves in the provinces of their empire – that’s what Nebuchadnezzar did and so on. They erected their own image in the province that they ruled and they required people to worship them and pay respect to that statue and all that. This was happening not only in Nebuchadnezzar’s case, often times they did it. They put up their own statue everywhere. So people will know they are king, they pay respect to the statues, so he says – so man is placed upon the earth in God’s image. Our God did not put his statue everywhere, so that you can go and garland it every Sunday. Our God doesn’t have a statue for himself in every town and every city and every corner of the street. No. Just like kings put their image, showing that they have the dominion over that place, and they are the rulers over that place, God wanted to show this world who the ruler is and who did he put there? Not a statue. But made man in his image and in his likeness and put him right here. He put him everywhere, in every town and every city, in every country, he has placed them. Man made in the image and likeness of God to rule and reign to bring out all the possibilities from this good earth, from God’s good creation. He needs to bring out everything that is good, tap into it, think about it, work on it, explore it, discover it and use it for the glory of God, for the astonishment of this whole world that despises God and does not know God and glorify God though it. That is why God made man in his image and likeness. How many of you now think it is good? When you get out there and get in your car, its good, what would you do without that? Don’t be like those Christians who say – you shouldn’t desire anything more than a two wheeler. No, you can desire a 4 wheeler, nothing wrong with it. It’s good, you can desire that they come up with a flying car, because traffic is heavy, you can desire that the car drives by itself because it is very convenient. Nothing wrong. We have called everything evil, and that is evil to call everything evil. Start calling it good because God created it and he created it for you, so that you can use it, you can have the benefit of it, you can be blessed with it and be a blessing to others with it.

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