Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Your Theology is Showing

I am an ordained ministry in the Evangelical Church of North America. A core belief of my denomination is for the believer to live a life filled by God’s Spirit and the reality that the believer can have this fullness now and walk in the abundant life God promises.

This post, nor this blog, is for the purpose of convincing the reader of any particular doctrine. However this post is about the fact that your theology greatly impacts your take on TG.

Just this afternoon, a missionary sat in my office and told me a great testimony of one of his champions. Back in the 1970’s as he was starting out, a gentleman came up prior to the missionary presentation and told the missionary that he was glad to have a missionary speaking that evening, but he did not have any money to give. He wanted him to know this right up front before the service started. After the missionary presented the gospel and how the gospel must be proclaimed to all nations, the same gentleman came up and said, “Well now I have to give.” The Spirit showed this man his role and he followed God.

Forty years later the champion has now died. By the time of his death his average gift was $170 per month. Through the years he never missed a month and maintained a loving relationship with the missionary. This champion's wife was not a believer at the time the man started giving to missions. But before his death she had become a Christian. Part of the impact on her decision was the habitual giving of her husband, the giving of the missionary back into their lives, and God’s faithfulness in providing through His abundance all the years.

The ideas of habitual giving and God's abundance are points where my theology impacts my giving and teaching. Being filled with God’s Holy Spirit is vital to the Christian walk; it is so important that Jesus tells His disciples to wait before going out to fulfill His commission. Wait for what??...The coming of the Spirit. The Spirit gives the believers the power to surrender our life to the Father and thus enabling us to be faithful. Then the surrendered life is a walk of discipleship in Christ with His Body (i.e. the Church).

Jesus never taught the Church to get people to repent and then forget them and move on to the next. He says to make disciples. This is much more than “get ‘em saved” then on to the next group. It is about a deep walk with the filling of God’s Spirit in the heart of the believer. There is an habitual aspect to walking with Christ. (Eric Foley has a good post on habitual giving.) And there is a need to trust in the abundant nature of God.

This belief regarding the fullness of God's Spirit drives my fund-raising. Onetime gifts to God are not enough. Discipleship is not a onetime event, nor is the need to be givers. God wants us to be habitual givers, whose lives are lived in Spirit-filled stewardship to Him. And as always our actions are not just for ourselves, but are testimonies to teach others.

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