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They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and prayer. Fear came on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together, and had all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need. Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. The Lord added to the assembly day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 WEB)
The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and soul. Not one of them claimed that anything of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things common. (Acts 4:32 WEB)

Those who believed were of one heart and soul and because of this oneness, none of them clung to their possessing but instead viewed them as belonging to the entire body of believers. When a man and a women become one through marriage, from that time on they have all things in common If the woman has great acquired great debt, her debt becomes his because they are one. The first century body of believers were so bound together in Christ's love that they could not imagine hoarding to themselves or ignoring the plight of those among them in need. They lived by the economy of the Kingdom. Constant watchfulness was required to preserve this heavenly economy, protecting it from the greed of Cain.

Paul wrote of this struggle.

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. (2 Corinthians 11:2-4, NASB).

What was that different gospel? Paul is speaking of it when he wrote to Timothy.

If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. Timothy 6:3-5, NASB).

It was the gospel of Gain or Cain that was of another spirit and portrayed a different Jesus. Look at the context of the following verses.

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-9, NKJV).

Paul was drawing the line between his example among them of not lusting after mammon and the way of the false teachers that had come in among them. It was this lusting after their bread and their goods that Paul denoted as being disorderly in these false teachers. His providing for himself by working among them night and day was the good example. "If a man does not work, he should not eat."

What is Mammon?

The Lord has been speaking to us about just how deep the western church has fallen into the love of mammon and away from Christ. The deceitfulness of riches has undermined our whole view of the gospel of Christ. How far we have fallen from Jesus' teachings. In Luke 16:11-13, Jesus further differentiated between the economy of heaven and the world.

Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:11-13, NKJV).

What did Jesus mean when He said, "You cannot serve God and mammon"? It is curious that out of all the Greek words for wealth and money, Jesus chose this one. Mammon is a Babylonian word meaning riches, and is believed to be one of the gods of Babylon. Jesus is addressing more than money here. He is saying that you cannot serve the God of Heaven and the Babylonian god of wealth at the same time. Christ is pointing to the origin of the system of commerce, as we know it, and addressing it as an idol. The worship of mammon is taking on the values of worldly Babylon, seeking the golden wedge and fine Babylonian garments, adapting the weights and measures so men are exacted, oppressed and brought into bondage. Jesus came declaring a Jubilee, "And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lends anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbor, or of his brother; because it is called the LORD's release" (Deuteronomy 15:2). The early church lived in a continuous Jubilee.

The word exact (Hebrew nagas--to press, drive, oppress, exact, exert demanding pressure) used in the above passage is also found in Exodus 5:6 where it is translated taskmasters, referring to those who oppressed the children of Israel during their Egyptian bondage. Nagas is also translated oppressor (Job 3:18), driver (Job 39:7), and raiser of taxes (Daniel 11:20). Out of Cain's rebellion sprang a system of weights and measures that gave rise to the oppressor, the raiser of taxes, and the taskmaster who exact and distress the peoples of the earth.

In 1 Samuel 22:2 we read of such an oppressed people. "Every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto David; and he became a captain over them." David was God's true anointed and had a heart to make God King and not replicate the kingdom of Saul.

God warned the children of Israel that because they rejected Him as their king and chose a king after the order of the pagan nations, many woes would follow. God warned them of the oppression that Saul would put upon the people. It happened just as God had warned. Before long the inhabitants of the land were feeling the pinch of their new king's taxation.

Israel had asked for this. God wanted them to know that the king they requested, like the kings of the nations round about, would be driven by the same passions that animate the heathen kings, kings like Cain and Nimrod. The social byproduct of such ambition is nagas, oppression.

At God's direction Samuel warned them of the oppressive consequences of their choice.

This will be the manner (Way) of the king who shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them to him, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and they shall run before his chariots; and he will appoint them to him for captains of thousands, and captains of fifties; and he will set some to plow his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the instruments of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. He will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your olive groves, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. He will take your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and your best young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks: and you shall be his servants. You shall cry out in that day because of your king whom you shall have chosen you; and Yahweh will not answer you in that day. (1 Samuel 8:11-19 WEB)

Six times in the above passage God warned, "he [Saul] will take." In spite of this warning the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel and insisted, "No: but we will have a king over us."

So they came by the droves, weary and oppressed, to the cave Adullam to David, a shepherd like Abel, the true anointed of God. David was hiding from Saul, who, like Cain, was enraged that God had favored another more than he. God had favored and anointed David and Saul was threatened by that anointing and rose up to kill.

Isaiah prophesied how thoroughly this way of Cain or worship of mammon would divide, corrupt and oppress the people of God.

The people will be oppressed (nagas), Everyone by another, And everyone by his neighbor. The child will behave himself proudly against the old man, And the base against the honorable. (Isaiah 3:5 WEB)

This worship of mammon is also seen in the church at Laodicea which said, "I am rich and have need of nothing." They were so deceived that they could not see that their true need, Jesus, was left standing outside the door, asking to be let in. They had gone the way of Balaam. Those who serve mammon are like Saul, they take and take and take, store and store, build and build, lay up treasures unto themselves and trust in their storehouses against the day of disaster. They say, "I am rich and have need of nothing." They say to their soul, "Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry." But what frightening words are these? "You fool, this night your soul shall be required of you: then whose shall those things be, which you have provided? So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

It is interesting to note that the Laodicean church saw itself as rich, increased with goods and in need of nothing. Now look at the description of Babylon the Great and what is behind her closed door:

. . .merchandise of gold, silver, precious stones, pearls, fine linen, purple, silk, scarlet, all expensive wood, every vessel of ivory, every vessel made of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble. . . .and cinnamon, incense, perfume, frankincense, wine, olive oil, fine flour, wheat, sheep, horses, chariots, bodies, and people's souls. 18:12 -13 WEB)

In the western church we see an ever increasing accumulation of wealth. In western eyes, bigger is always better. Just as America has continued to gather wealth, so has the church. Today, America has about five percent of the world's population, but also has about eight-five percent of the world's wealth. As the wealth has increased in her, her benevolence and her outreach to the poor nations has become less and less. The same is true of the American church. Anyone who has served on a deacon board knows what a tiny percentage of the church income is given to the poor and needy in the community and to missions abroad.

I, Michael, spent some time in Guatemala working in a Christian orphanage. These precious children really touched my heart, though the poverty of these dear little saints of God was not nearly as great as those still living on the streets of Guatemala City. Later, on the way back from another trip to Central America, the brother who was driving me through Los Angles wanted to take me on a short jaunt to see the famous Christian Crystal City, built around the ministry of a famous TV preacher. The contrast between that poor third world nation and what was built in the name of Jesus made me sick to my stomach.

The door of this Laodicean church system is not only closed against Jesus, keeping its wealth inside, but against "the least of these." We heap blessing after blessing upon ourselves and ignore the plight of our brothers and sisters in the third world. This is an affront to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus told many a parable about His Father having problems with stewards and their control of money. Tight fisted and stingy control of that wealth seems to be a common malady among them. The same is true in this last days church. We give a token offering to the poor so that we won't look bad, but who are the ones living in the fine houses and driving the fancy cars, the widows and orphans or the so-called benefactors who would be kings? If you have never gone on a short-term mission among the poor of the third world, you should. If you have the heart of Christ, it will change your life forever.

Jesus said,

"I was a stranger, and you didn't take me in; naked, and you didn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me." Then they will also answer, saying, "Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn't help you?" Then he will answer them, saying, "Most assuredly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn't do it to one of the least of these, you didn't do it to me." (Matthew 25:43-45 WEB)

Notice the surprise of the goats as they answer the Lord. "When did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didnít help you?" They tithed and even put a couple bucks in the annual special missions offering, but they were NOT good stewards of what was given to them. They thought the money they blindly gave to the church coffers was all going to a good cause. This is not good stewardship. We are also responsible for how the money we give is spent. It is plain from the New Testament that God's heart is not in providing big salaries to church rulers or providing castles for these kings to rule from. God's heart is on taking care of the widows and the orphans, the least of these, not the greatest (James 1:27).

We believe that the deceitful work of this false god called Mammon is undermining the gospel of Christ in the west and has made way for all the other perversions that are sweeping through the church and its leaders at this time. The reason for this is quite simple. "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:34 RSV).

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