Is 'sowing seed' a con? (15/6/12)

 

Much is taught today about how we can sow seed (i.e. give money to ministries) in order to receive a financial blessing. As is common with most heresies we find that in the midst of much deception there is a small element of truth which has been significantly distorted.

God is NOT a cosmic slot machine into which we can put money and then expect a huge guaranteed payout as some deceivers claim (i.e. Oral Roberts, Benny Hinn, Mike Murdock and their cronies)

God however does bless the genuine loving expressions of support for the needy and for godly itinerant ministers...especially where this involves sacrificial giving. God's grace is manifested where there is a genuine faith and love based motivation.....rather than a corrupt or self-centred and worldly one. (Heb 4:12) (James 4:3)

 

The following parable is often used by those who teach 'sowing and reaping' as a financial tool. Even a basic examination will demonstrate that this is clearly NOT about giving away money at all…

 

Matt 13:3-9

3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: "Behold, a sower went out to sow.  4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.  5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth.  6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.  7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.  8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"   NKJV

In HIS explanation of this parable Jesus makes it clear that the seed which was sown IS the word of God (Mat 13:19, Mark 4:14, Luke 8:11) .... and not money.

The 30, 60 and 100 fold returns are therefore NOT about a financial windfall!....they refer to souls harvested for the kingdom!

Souls are harvested when we SPEAK the Word of God ...the GOSPEL...not when we wastefully give away money to others to squander!

 

This is confirmed in the very reason Jesus came to earth

John 12:23-26

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.  24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.    NKJV
 

Jesus came to give HIS LIFE as seed so that the Father would have many children.

Rom 8:29
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.   NKJV

 

Many have claimed that Isaac sowing in a time of famine is an example for us to ‘sow’ money into churches even in tough times. This is PATENTLY deceptive. Isaac was a farmer and he believed that God would bless the work of his hands (Gen 12:2-3). His example is that we should continue to work hard and ‘invest’ in our future …even in recessions….because God WILL provide for all our needs WHEN WE WORK! This is FAITH in action.

Gen 26:12-14

12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him. 13 The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; 14 for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants.  NKJV

Note that Isaac did NOT give his money away to a 'priest' and sit back waiting for a financial windfall...he WORKED ...and he KEPT working! When he worked the LORD blessed the work of his hands....and he then prospered!

The 'hocus pocus' spiritual baloney that is widely preached today should be clearly identifiable by all believers as lies (1 John 2:27)

 

 

This is the subject of Paul’s command to New Testament believers

1 Thess 4:11-12

…. work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.     NKJV

Paul did not say..'find a preacher and give him your money..and then sit back and wait and you will get rich'  .... he said 'WORK with your hands'.

 

 

The following parable of Jesus about sowing is also clearly not related to financial giving

Matt 13:24-31

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field;  25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.  26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.  27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?'  28 He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?'  29 But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.  30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'"    NKJV 

Jesus explains this clearly

Matt 13:36-43

"Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."

37 He answered and said to them: "He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.  38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one.  39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels.  40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.  41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,  42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!    NKJV

 

The good seeds are the sons of God...those who through rebirth have become his children. We are born again of INCORRUPTIBLE SEED....His Word. We are sown into places and communities ... in order to reach others for God.

The parable also addresses the reality that there will be false believers, many of who also are found in churches today, some even in leadership positions (Acts 20:29-30)

 

 

In the same way the following parable about sowing and seed is also not about giving money.

Matt 13:31-32

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,  32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."      NKJV

Even one single word from God can transform a person's life. But if we allow God's implanted word to produce fruit in our lives and to transform us....we will eventually end up in us impacting the lives of many others for good.

 

 

Paul however does use the metaphor of sowing seed in relation to ‘financial giving’…but specifically referring to giving to the POOR

2 Cor 9:5-15

5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.

6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written:

"He has dispersed abroad,

He has given to the poor;

His righteousness endures forever."  

10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown  and increase the fruits of your righteousness, 11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. 12 For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, 13 while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men,  14 and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!    NKJV

God certainly promises to bless generosity.

The purpose of the blessing of God is to enable us to keep giving….to the POOR….and not to get rich ourselves! Our giving is in response to his awesome love and grace to us....and not a tool to manipulate God with!

 

But please note that nothing in the New Testament scriptures EVER says that ‘if you don’t give to church ministers then God cannot and will not look after you’ ...or your family. I have often heard this implied and even stated by some deceivers!

 

 

In the New Testament God provides because we are His children….through FAITH...something 'seed faith' preachers seem to forget

Matt 6:26

26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?    NKJV

In the light of this passage, it can be seen that much of what is being taught in the guise of 'sowing seed' ...or 'sowing to earn your blessings' is a sign of our LACK of faith in God's love and provision for us under the atonement!

 

 

The aspect of providing hospitality and support for ITINERANT ministers…apostles …is scriptural

1 Cor 9:10-13

11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?

Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.    NKJV

Note that the apostles SOWED the WORD first... along with healing and imparting the Spirit of God. They waited for it to germinate in peoples lives ...and then came the harvest of souls. AND THEN ONLY came the material harvest...ie born again believers will respond in supporting the message of the GOSPEL to the world. 

BUT this should never be abused (as it is worldwide today…and by those who are resident ministers rather than itinerant preachers). It should also be the exception and not the rule that people do not support themselves while ministering itinerantly...as per Paul's very specific commands and personal life-long example.

 

Many located or resident preachers quote the following to back their right to receive support

Gal 6:6

Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.  NKJV

But I have NEVER heard this verse preached in it's correct context .... this is set by the preceding verse and Paul's other commands and his own life time example in relation to this matter.

Gal 6:5

5 For each one shall bear his own load.     NKJV

ALL must work and be self-supporting ...including TEACHERS and pastors ...wherever possible as Paul demonstrated…and commanded (2 Thes 3:6-10)

 

But we as believers should always have a heart to help the POOR and needy

Gal 6:7-10

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.  NKJV

Note that 'sowing to the flesh' is doing works of the Law like 'tithing' in order to try and EARN our blessings...ie it reaps corruption as in condemnation and guilt (Gal 5:4)

Note that ‘sowing to the spirit’ is not giving money to preachers…but doing GOOD to the needy! ...ie simply letting God's love flow through you

What we reap is ETERNAL life….not money (ie mammon as covetous deceivers would have us believe). 

 

Apostles were entitled to receive hospitality….while on their journeys....and this is something God's children will freely offer when they receive genuine apostolic ministry.

Note that being 'entitled to receive' is NOT the same as being entitled to DEMAND or DECEIVE others about an 'obligation to give'

 

Matt 10:40-42

"He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.  41 He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward .  42 And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.    NKJV

 

Being ‘received’ means being offered hospitality while traveling…..this was to be the ONLY wage of the itinerant preacher…apostle (ie a 'sent out one')....as the scriptures below repeatedly emphasise

 

Matt 10:5-11 (first mention of a workers entitlement to receive a reward or wages for their labour....ie FOOD and accommodation)

These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.  6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  7 And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'  8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.  9 Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts,  10 nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.   11 "Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out.    NKJV

Luke 9:3-5

"Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. 

4 "Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.  5 And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them."      NKJV

Luke 10:1-10

After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. 2 Then He said to them, "The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.  3 Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves.  4 Carry neither money bag,  knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road.  5 But whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house.'  6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you.  7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give,    for the laborer is worthy of his wages.     Do not go from house to house.  8 Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.  9 And heal the sick there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'    NKJV

 

The wage in ALL of the above verses is defined by JESUS as items relating to HOSPITALITY.... ie food and accommodation …not MONEY.

 

The apostles never ministered for money…

Acts 8:18-23

18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit."

20 But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money ! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."     NKJV

 

Peter clearly did not advocate what is taught today as 'honoring the prophet in order to receive a prophets reward'!

 

There is NO basis on which we can justifiably assume that Paul would have taken any other type of wages than hospitality and provisions for travelling (as sanctioned by Jesus) in the following passages!

 

2 Cor 11:7-11

I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches, taking wages from them to minister to you. 9 And when I was present with you, and in need, I was a burden to no one, for what I lacked the brethren who came from Macedonia supplied. And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and so I will keep myself.  10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one shall stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia.    NKJV

Phil 4:14-20

14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.    NKJV

 

Both of these scriptures clearly refer to ....'what I lacked'....and 'my necessities'....ie they were for NEEDS

Paul was certainly not travelling with a 'home church' paying him a regular salary .... as some teach today. (this would have been contrary to his specific commands to others... and his frequent boasting about providing for himself and NEVER being burdensome to people)

BUT free-will spirit led giving was certainly welcomed!

God most certainly will bless those who support itinerant preachers…..not to enable them to get rich….but to have all their needs met!

 

3 John 5-8

Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, 6 who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, 7 because they went forth for His name's sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. 8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.     NKJV

These scriptures refer  to APOSTLES….missionaries…sent out ones!....and the receipt of hospitality!

This confirms that the apostles TOOK NOTHING from the gentiles ...certainly not 'tithes' ...(even if they were entitled to receive support)

The reward for giving HOSPITALITY (ie receiving such) is that we become 'fellow workers'....and share in the harvest! (Souls and not money)

 

So how can we possibly assume that the scriptures teach that by giving money to resident preachers we will be made rich?

 

So what about 1 Tim 5:17-18 many will chirp?

 

1 Tim 5:17-18

Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. 18 For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages."   NKJV

Honor is NOT money…..the words are VERY different.  We honor our parents but do not pay them a salary …nor do slaves pay their masters cash.

Double honor is recognition and esteem (1 Thes 5:13) (allow scripture interpret scripture)

The wages the worker was to receive was HONOR….not money. Now honor can certainly include being invited around for a meal…..and even to stay over (Acts 16:15) ie eating and drinking as Jesus intended and specified in HIS definition of the wages which ITINERANT ministers were entitled to receive. (Mat 10:10)

 

This intent is confirmed when we examine the context of the comment....as set by the preceeding verse

1 Tim 5:16

16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.    NKJV

The church was NOT to be burdened by supporting anyone other than the REALLY needy…ie certainly NOT those men physically capable of looking after themselves (such as resident elders)!

 

Note that Timothy was in Ephesus at this time...the very same church where Paul gathered the elders (Acts 20) and commanded them to follow his example of working PHYSICALLY 'with these hands'....and be self supporting....and provide for OTHERS...rather than themselves being a burden. There is no legitimate basis to use this passage to justify a financially supported 'located clergy' .... let alone for a salaried one.

 

 

So what about the widow at Zarephath giving to Elijah?

 

1 Kings 17:8-16

Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 9 "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you." 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink." 11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand."

12 So she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die."

13 And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.'"

15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.    NKJV

 

FIRST….God commanded the widow (rather than the prophet only giving her a word)

SECOND….The prophet was also starving like the woman….and certainly not rich

THIRD….the woman gave a little amount of food….from the very LITTLE she had (and NOT money!)

FOURTH….Elijah confirmed the word from God to GUARANTEE the widow that she would be provided for...before she gave at all

FIFTH….the widow got FOOD…for all her NEEDS…..not money for greeds

SIXTH .... Elijah did not leave until the widows needs were met (unlike most so-called prophets today who leave a trail of financial devastation behind them)

 

So what about the widow who gave her last 2 mites to the temple treasury?

 

Mark 12:41-44

Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;  44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."     NKJV

 

This passage is NOT a commendation for people to ‘give as the widow gave’…..it is a rebuke against religious institutions who take money from the POOR rather than protecting them and giving to them….even to the extent of taking the widows last mite. The sad truth was that even then they still did not appreciate or value the gift because it was ‘small change’.

How many times have we heard preachers contemptuously criticize people for giving 'small change' at collections today? (Religion still doesn't get IT)

 

Please NOTE that the context is set in the preceding verses 

Mark 12:40

Then He said to them in His teaching, "Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces,  39 the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts,  40 who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation."         NKJV

 

So what does this tell us of the so-called ‘prophets’ who today still travel the world and exploit the poor and widows by seeking to take their last dollar in the name of 'sowing and reaping'?

 

Mal 3:5-6

5 And I will come near you for judgment;

I will be a swift witness   ….. 

Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans,   ….

Because they do not fear Me,"

Says the LORD of hosts.

6 "For I am the LORD, I do not change;     NKJV

 

God in JUDGMENT will avenge the widows and orphans who are still being exploited by religion today! 

 

The final word on whether or not we as God's children are required to give to 'the Lord' by giving to 'church organisations'  belongs to Jesus

 

Matt 17:24-27

When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?"

25 He said, "Yes."

And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?" 

26 Peter said to Him, "From strangers."

Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free.       NKJV
 

 

  The sons are free 

 (Brethren, the temple WAS destroyed in AD70...and Jews today do not pay tithes or the temple tax required by the Law )