A Sweet Savor Contact Miscellaneous Audio Messages Penmen


Address To Old School Baptists

Our Christian brethren have always opposed those who have attempted to profit from the name of Jesus Christ. During the Dark Ages the voice of our Anabaptist brethren spoke against the Latin, Papal Church that gained wealth by deceiving the people into thinking it had the power to transport dead loved ones from a purgatorial existence to an immediate heavenly, blissful state providing the survivors paid for the trip. The priesthood also had such a powerful worldly standing that it was often able to confiscate properties on behalf of the Roman Church. As Europe entered a new age the power of the Roman Church did suffer under the rise of Protestantism but after the Reformed Churches lost much of what truth and purity they originally possessed they too went the way of the Latin Church and begged their supporters to fund missionary ventures, all in the name of saving poor, lost souls for Jesus Christ. Into this web fell many Baptists who departed from the established faith and this left the remaining faithful to cry out against the "new light" Baptists who had taken the same road traveled by other apostate churches.

Sadly, profit in the Lord's name still thrives today. All one has to do is spend a few moments watching "Christian television programming" to see how artful some of the preachers are in marketing their ministries to the blinded. They pray, plead, and quote scripture fully intending to get hearers to donate to their organizations. If you have never done so you ought to take some time to see the lengths they go to get people to send money offerings. During telethons to raise money I have seen their hands placed on telephones all the while they were crying out to the Lord: "make the phones ring, O Lord," and when the telephones rang they would pronounce the blessing, "thank you, Jesus." Healing also comes with a price. On one program a so called "faith healer" told about the time he encountered a man who had a brain tumor, and, as I recall, he said with no apparent shame that for the man to be rid of the tumor he felt the afflicted should pledge at least a thousand dollars. Preachers of this sort also have no problem describing their great faith. I once heard a preacher boast to his congregation that the reason why he drove around in a more expensive car than they was because he had more faith than they.

I don't know how many different groups there are in this country that have come to realize how much wealth can be gained by promoting their ministries via radio and television, but they all seem to have a common theme. It is, sell the idea that in order to be blessed financially you have to first seed to the Lord. Said another way, you sow your seed in order to reap your harvest. I have my doubts about how well this approach is working for the givers but I have no doubt it is working very well for the sellers. The interesting thing I have observed is that when they ask you to contribute to the Lord, His mailing address always seems to be their home offices. These people fit very well John Bunyan's character, Mr. Money-Love, in his novel, The Pilgrim's Progress, and it would not surprise me but what Jesus' expression to the scribes and Pharisees, "for ye devour widows' houses," (Matthew 23.14) fittingly describes what these present folk are doing to many poor, blinded souls who buy into their promises and end up with big bags of nothing.

Some time ago I received for several months various pieces of mail from an outfit called St. Matthew's Churches, headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I don't know what specific data they had that directed the organization to write to me. However, they claimed they wanted to help me in any way they possibly could, including helping me with my finances. They encouraged me to communicate to them what my needs were so they could pray for me. Now, wasn't that nice? Among the material they sent me during these months was a book (224 pages) that laid out steps for me to follow in order to enrich my life, including improving my worldly prosperity. These must really be great people! Of course, one of the steps in the plan was that in order to be blessed financially I needed to send them a check. Oh, I did not quite say this correctly. They weren't talking about a one-time deal. The idea was for me to maintain my requests with money enclosed and they would keep praying for blessings to come my way. I must have been a fool to let such an offer slip by, but I did, and after a while they finally stopped writing to me. I guess I blew my chance just like those in the past whose loved ones to this day may still be in purgatory because some refused to pay their fare out of that place, or like the many selfish Old School Baptists who left many souls to perish because they did not help finance a missionary to go off somewhere to give heathens a chance to be saved. However, in this case it was a personal loss. Think how much richer I could be today if only I had responded to them.

You should recognize I am attacking what these money-grubbers are doing by poking fun at them. However, in making my attacks I don't want to neglect sound doctrine in the process. It would be a gross mistake on my part to deny the fact the Bible teaches God's people are to give. Although I believe St. Matthew's Churches completely misapplied the text there was a verse often cited in the book's 224 pages that is well worthy of our consideration. Page 2 of the book quoted Galatians 6.7, but in order to consider the full context let me quote verses 6-10: "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."

St. Matthew's Churches used the 7th verse to advance the notion that whatever seed a person sows determines his harvest. That is, for example, if you want wealth you must sow part of your substance in order to reap more wealth. The only part of St. Matthew's Churches' interpretation that I acknowledge is that sowing and reaping in this chapter is in the context of giving.

The full text combines principle with admonition. The principle is one reaps what he sows. If he sows to the flesh he will reap corruption. If he sows to the Spirit he will reap everlasting life. This separates the true believer from the pretender. The person who seeks worldly treasures and steadfastly maintains them at the expense of distributing his substance for holy purposes shows the same marks that characterize those who perish. The same can be said about the person who spends all he has solely on worldly things so that he has nothing to give. On the other hand, a true believer knows that heavenly things have much greater value than earthly things. His use of his substance will be consistent with the value he has for spiritual things. When he sees a need he will be willing to share what he has with others. His heart is consistent with Paul's words, "let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Mark the fact he is encouraged to stay steadfast upon his hope of reaping everlasting life. Earthly riches are only available for a while and they do nothing to support his hope of everlasting life. He knows the difference between earthly treasures that can be corrupted and stolen and the heavenly treasures "where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal" (Matthew 6.19-20). This is the principle. Sharing is the admonition. Notice again verse 6: "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." By communicating the apostle is not telling the saints to be sure they let the preacher know how much they enjoyed his message and he also is not telling them to be sure to let the preacher know if his message contained errors. Conducting conversation is not what Paul has in mind but here's what he is saying. The Greek word, "koinoneo," translated into English, "communicate," means "to share with others," or "to distribute," or "to be a partaker." This is also how the word is used in Philippians 4.15: "Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only." You will also find the same meaning established in Hebrews 13.16. So, whether with regard to ministers or with regard to others, as opportunity arises, the admonition is to share with them. The admonition flows from the sowing and reaping principle. Saints don't need to keep every earthly thing they have. Their minds should be upon eternal things.

With regard to the ministry, men who have been set apart to preach the gospel should not be left to bear their own expenses when they minister to their flocks. This truth is firmly established in I Corinthians 9.7-15. Although in verses 12 and 15 Paul acknowledged he did not take advantage of the ministerial entitlements that were due him, by his questions that had self-evident answers, he pointed out that those who go to war do not do so at their own expense, and that those who plant vineyards, and those who care for their flocks benefit from the fruits of their labors (verse 7). He quoted Deuteronomy 25.4: "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn" (verse 9) to make the point that the text's greater meaning applies to us today. He used these illustrations to establish the point of verse 11: "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?" If the saints benefit from the spiritual things sown by the ministers, it should be expected that the ministers should benefit from their natural things. In verse 13 he also made the general point that under the Old Covenant the priests and Levites in exchange for their tabernacle service were provided for by the children of Israel (Numbers 18.8-32). Verse 14 provides a plain statement: "Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." These words are quite in line with what Jesus had taught His disciples when He sent them to preach to the Jews: "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence" (Matthew 10.9-11). In short, they should expect to have their needs supplied by the folk to whom they minister.

Whatever we teach against the present day money-grubbers, we should not neglect biblical teaching. Sound doctrine does not lead to making the Lord's ministers wealthy, but it does instruct saints to make provision for those who faithfully discharge their ministerial duties. If the book from St. Matthew's Churches had nothing more in mind than to teach this simple truth I would have no objection. Sadly, the thesis was something else. Under the guise of providing biblical instruction concerning giving, it was really no more than a profit-making scheme to get people's money.

I now turn my attention to addressing St. Matthew's Churches.

Address to St. Matthew's Churches

Some time back you sent me some literature, including a 224-page book entitled The Seed Principle. Since I never requested anything from you I don't know how you got my address. You never identified yourself by name but I have concluded just one person wrote the book as you made repeated references to yourself in the first person singular. Therefore, I will simply call you St. Matthew's Churches. Beside the literature you also sent me a prayer rug. Actually, if I recall correctly, it was just a piece of paper. You sent me envelopes of things and you requested I wait for a while before I checked what was inside. Since I never opened these envelopes I don't know to this day what was inside them. To get me started on my blessings you sent me two pennies. Well, really, you didn't. You cheated me. You said there were two pennies inside one envelope but there actually was only one. Throughout the period you were sending me mail you were including self addressed stamped envelopes in the hope you could get me to partake of your program. You may remember me. I'm the one who stuck your material, except for your book, the penny, and other initial stuff, back into the envelopes you provided. I made it a point to ensure that I didn't identify myself as the one who was returning the material. I didn't want to discourage you from sending the stuff to me. I wanted you to keep up the expense of sending me material that was not going to materially profit you. Not only this, but since I was sending everything back in the stamped envelopes, you had to pay the added postage as well. I don't know whether you finally gave up on me since you didn't profit by your mailings or whether you finally figured out who was returning your mail, but whatever the case it has been a while since I have heard from you. I now have some spare time to identify myself and reply to you.

Don't think I'm usually this mean-spirited. There's a lot of communication circulated from religious groups I find offensive but I usually let it pass. However, I had to do something this time. You see, I have the greatest contempt for those who make merchandize using Jesus' name. That should tell you upfront how I feel about what you wrote. During Jesus' earthly ministry He often opposed the religious leaders of His day but I know of no time when He expressed His anger in actions except when He came upon those who were engaged in making merchandize in the house of God. Here is what the Bible says: "and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves" (Mark 11.15-17). Mark the fact He went after both the sellers and the buyers. And if I rightly understand the scripture, since Mark's account concerns the last part of Jesus' ministry, and John records a similar account early in His ministry, the Lord must have acted as He did on two separate occasions. John wrote: "when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple" (John 2.13-17). Christ's actions establish a principle that should cause anyone who participates in these commercial ventures to seriously reflect upon what they are doing in His name.

I. Words Of Contrast

A good beginning point to respond to what you wrote focuses upon the first three sentences you made under the heading "Where Will The Dream You Have Today Take You" (pp.107-108). Because your words are at the very heart of the controversy I have with you I wanted to start with them as they so plainly stand in contrast to what the Bible teaches. To show the contrast I would like to present your words side by side with what the Bible states. Here they are:

The Seed Principle, pp. 107-108
"It is sad to think that the average person lives his or her entire life without really having a worthwhile dream or goal for success and prosperity. Some feel satisfied if they have just enough of the necessities of life: food shelter, and clothing with which to survive. This man or woman is on a non-productive treadmill of meager existence."
Paul's Words: I Timothy 6:6-8
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

St. Matthew's Churches, let me ask you a very simple question. Since these two statements stand in contrast to one another, which statement should saints believe, the statement you made or the statement Paul made?

II. The Seed Principle Doctrine, Your Arguments For It, And Biblical Refutations

Although your statement on pages 107-108 stands directly opposite to I Timothy 6.6-8 the whole thesis of your book is based upon what you call the biblical seed principle. You state this principle throughout the book in many different ways. I think what you wrote on pages 9 and 12 get to the core of your doctrine: "Taking God as your partner, and sowing the right seed by faith is the way to success and prosperity. If you want friends, you must sow the kind of seed that produces good friends. If you want someone to love you, you must sow the seeds of love by being willing to love that person from your heart. If you want money, you need to sow money seeds. This is what God's word tells us about giving seed offerings to His work in II Corinthians 9.6-8 (TBL) 'But remember this-if you give little, you will get little. A farmer who plants just a few seeds will get only a small crop, but if he plants much, he will reap much. Everyone must make up his own mind as to how much he should give God is able to make it up to you by giving you everything you need and more"

Your point is the seeds you sow will determine the crop that will be reaped and it will be reaped in accordance with how much seed is sown. Thus, if you want corn you don't sow beans and likewise if you want plenty of corn you need to sow many corn seeds. It is interesting that in the short paragraph before writing these words you used bold letters when you said financial problems cause many family problems. Then, when you wrote about what was needed to have friends and someone to love you used normal lettering but when you wrote about money seeds, you placed in bold letters that it was necessary to sow money seeds. It's plain you are directing your marketing to people you hope will send you a check.

Let's look at some of the scriptures you cite. II Corinthians 9.6-8 is at least appropriate in one sense; that is, the apostle is writing to the brethren at Corinth about your favorite subject; that is, contributing. The reason for Paul to write as he did goes back to the dearth that came in the days of Claudius Caesar prompting Christians elsewhere to start sending relief to their Judean brethren. When the Corinthians learned of their hardships they too were willing to contribute to their needs. Compare verses 1, 9, 12-13 with Acts 11.27-30 and I Corinthians 16.1-4. However, your claim that Paul was saying that by giving support to the brethren they themselves would benefit materially is not so plainly stated. Notice verse 9: "(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever." Paul is referring to Psalm 112.9: "He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour." Now, the honor these saints were to receive may well include natural provisions but the sum and substance of their blessing is not stated that way at all.

You also often referred to passages in Galatians, chapter 6, particularly verses from 6 and 9. On page 114 you wrote: "The materialization of your idea depends on your faith, belief, and the seed you chose to sow. Believe that the seed you have planted is alive, well, and growing. Even though at this very moment you may have no tangible evidence that any thing is happening, by faith and belief, you can rest assured that in due season that you shall reap your desired harvest (Galatians 6.9)." On page 146 you referred to the 7th verse: "If a farmer wants a harvest of corn, he must plant corn. It is up to us to plant the appropriate seeds for the type of harvest we desire. Galatians 6.7 If you want love, plant seeds of love. If you hope to have friends, plant seeds of friendship. And, if you need money, plant money seeds."

Your references to this chapter are not totally amiss but me-thinks you really have not zeroed in on Paul's subject. The more complete thought is to be seen by examining verses 6-10. "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." Sowing and reaping in the specific context relates to sharing provisions with the teacher (verse 6), and as opportunity arises, with others as well, particularly with those of God's household (verse 10). The problem I have is, by your emphasis upon receiving material benefits, how in the world are you encouraging the reader toward anything but sowing to his flesh? What is taught in this scripture is that one who sows to the Spirit has the expectation of life everlasting, and it's this that God's persevering saints have as their hope "in due season." It is not money, cars, homes, and so on.

Another passage you frequently used is Luke 6.38. On page 115 you wrote: "If you need a financial blessing from God, then give God your best financial seed. Regardless of your condition in life, you must give to receive. This is a divine truth. It is God's way and it always works. The Word instructs us to 'Give and it shall be given' (Luke 6.38). That is extremely plain." Your marketing efforts are clear. You used bold lettering concerning financial blessing, and, although nothing is said in the text about giving to God your best financial seed, you extracted that meaning from the text. You carried your thoughts concerning this text further on page 117 where you indicated your willingness to pray about my needs, no matter what my needs may happen to be. Then you said: "Then sow the kind of seed that will produce the kind of harvest you want to reap. Knowing in advance that the seed you sow will grow after its own kind, literally puts you completely in control of your own destiny. As you give it shall be given unto you - for with the same measure ye mete - it shall be measured to you again." If this is the case, why do I need you to pray for me? Hey, if I give, I'm in control. Why do I need you?

You cite this text to get me to sow my financial seed to God via your organization's address. The problem is, the text is not talking about giving to God. Back as far as verse 27 the subject Jesus addresses is how we are to deal with others, and in verse 36 it is stated we are to show mercy as God is merciful, but the mercy we are to show is to others. Further, if we don't judge or condemn others, we won't be judged or condemned by others, if we forgive others, they will forgive us (verse 37), and if we give to others they likewise will give to us. Now, this is the context in which these words are set. You will notice in the verse you cite that giving results in men giving into your bosom. The teaching is others will treat us as we treat them. I raise no objection with you to your point that the kind of treatment you give is the treatment you will reap. Proverbs 18.24 follows this line: "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly." It is when you use this verse as well as others to support your seed principle doctrine of financial giving in order to get a greater financial return that you go beyond the intent of scripture. Although Jesus never denied the giver would benefit from giving, He never made this the motive to give. Notice His words: "Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again" (verse 30). In verse 34 He said: "And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again." In verse 35 He instructed: "lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest." If I listen to you, my motive becomes giving financially so I can get back a greater financial return. The only reward Jesus specifically named was the blessing of being identified as God's dear children. Isn't this a sufficient blessing?

You also have quite a bit to say about tithing. I extract a paragraph from page 83 that appears to be consistent with your position throughout the book: "Should Christians pay a tithe today? That is a question which has been debated for a long time. But Christ's statement that it should not be left 'undone' is not without significance, especially when linked with Paul's declaration that 'the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel' (I Corinthians 9.14). In addition, there is a great deal of evidence which suggests that it is a very wise, as well as a very desirable, thing to do." I conclude from this paragraph that you hold these views: one, that, although there is debate on the subject, your position favors tithing; two, that Paul seemed to link tithing with what he wrote to the Corinthians; and three, the practice is a smart thing to do.

On page 86 you indicated John D. Rockefeller began tithing when he was only making $3.50 a week, and then you enumerated a list of wealthy men who "put God first in their finances and found themselves on the highway to prosperity." I presume you are saying they too paid tithes. On the same page you wrote about a farmer in California whose crops were hit by "the dreaded army beetle." He feared his crop would be destroyed, but his little daughter reminded him that since he tithed he should ask God to keep the promise given in Malachi 3.11. Both the farmer and his little girl knelt in prayer, claiming the promise given in the text. Although you never said what happened, I assume the crops were spared.

Throughout the book you cite Deuteronomy 14.22: "Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year." You also cite from place to place the passage in Malachi: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (3.10).

I will set forth what I believe the scripture teaches on this subject and allow you to refute my views if you can. First, does the Bible teach tithing? The answer is, it clearly does. The scriptures you cited provide sufficient proof of that. Second, does the Bible teach that the person who does tithe will receive the Lord's abundant blessings? The answer is; it clearly does. You proved that from the verse in Malachi. Third, was tithing practiced prior to the Mosaic Law? Again, the answer is clear that it was. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (Genesis 14.20; Hebrews 7.4), and Jacob vowed if God would be with him and keep him so he could return peaceably to his father's house, he, in turn, would give God a tenth of what God would give him (Genesis 28.20-22). Under the circumstances that Jacob faced at that time I think you would agree this patriarch was going about to make a good deal for himself. All of this was before Moses' time. Fourth, did Jesus tell the Jews, who were bound by the Law, that it was proper for them to tithe? The answer is plain. As you noted He told the scribes and Pharisees they ought to tithe (Matthew 23.23), but I think we should observe that he also called them hypocrites and pronounced a woe upon them. Therefore, it's hard to think of them as a blessed people. Fifth, is there any commandment that binds the Lord's Church to practice tithing? The answer to this vital fifth question is, there's nothing that requires believers to practice tithing. It simply isn't a commandment placed upon Christian believers. This by no means should suggest to any believer that he should give as little as possible to the Lord's work. Paul's words in II Corinthians 9.7 speak clearly to the point: "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver." This tells us what the giver purposes to give is not to be done grudgingly so as to barely give anything and the giver also is not to give based upon requirement. The law required giving; apostolic doctrine admonished giving freely from the heart.

I won't be critical of the practice of tithing as such, but here's where I have a problem. On page 209 you cite Deuteronomy 30.15, and the translation you used is worded this way: "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity." (The King James Version uses the word good in place of prosperity, but the wording you cited well may capture the essence of what the Law said). Right after quoting from the Law you referred to the wealth and riches referred to in Psalm 112.2-3. Let me ask, are you so eager to teach tithing that you are willing to bind the reader to the Mosaic Law? Don't you know that it was the whole law that was set before Israel to follow in order to receive blessings cited in Deuteronomy 30.15? If you want to be bound by it, so be it, but don't try to impose it upon me. If you want this law for life and prosperity as opposed to death and evil, be sure that you don't fail in any part of it. For example, keep the Sabbath holy as prescribed by law rather than the present popular belief that it has been transferred from the seventh day to the first day of the week. If you have children or servants, or cattle, or guests in your home, be sure they don't labor on the Sabbath as well (Exodus 20.8-11). Or, to give another example, if your wife or older daughters have their regular issue of blood, be sure they're kept apart for seven days as prescribed by the law, and that all of the laws pertaining to uncleanness because of them are followed (Leviticus 15.19-33). Since God brought temple worship to a close in the first century A.D. when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem you may need to figure out how the animal sacrifices of the law can now be carried out. However, even before the temple's destruction Peter refuted the notion of some Jews that Gentile Christians should be bound by the law when he declared to the Church: "Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they" (Acts 15.10-11). By these words, the apostle acknowledged that Israel had never received the life and prosperity that was set before them. Further, Paul stated the law was imposed upon people as "our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster" (Galatians 3.24-25). Or, if you will, the meaning of the text may be that the law was a tutor until the time of Christ, but now that we have Christ as our source of justification we no longer need this tutor. St. Matthew's Churches, if you ever learn anything about the overbearing aspects of the schoolmaster law you will be quite willing to praise God that Deuteronomy 30.15 is something now entirely in the past tense, and realize that the law's promises, due to the weakness of the flesh (Romans 8.3) have no possibility of being attained. I realize that Christ's provisions for His people may not be the same as made in Malachi, and you may conclude that His provisions leave one in a state of meager existence, but be assured, God nonetheless does take care of His people, based not upon law but based upon gospel promise.

I will try to comment upon a few other verses you cited in support of your position. One verse you used from time to time is Matthew 6.33, and on page 84 you referred to this passage after stating that F.W. Woolworth, even after becoming a multimillionaire, "kept God as his Financial Partner." Now, anyone who reads this text will see that it hardly connects to the idea of grand financial partnership with God. What it says is: "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Since the two previous verses had indicated we should not be as the Gentiles who sought such things that God knew were needed; things like food, drinks, and clothing, Jesus' teaching can lead to no further conclusion than that God will continue to grant us these things. This may be hard for you to accept as it may promote no more than your concept of a meager existence, but it does fit well into the framework of what Paul taught about being content with food and raiment (I Timothy 6.8). Another text you have referenced throughout your book, as on page 7, is Jeremiah 29.11: "For I know the plans I have for you declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and plans to give you hope and a future (NIV)." I'm completely baffled why you cited this text. If your writing promoted the idea God unconditionally brings an end to His judgments upon His people, you have a basis for using the text, but since this has not been your theme, there is no relevant purpose served by your use of it. The verse is found in the context of the Babylonian Captivity. In the previous verse the prophet had declared the Jews' captivity would end after 70 years. There is something taught here that you may have a hard time handling. The doctrine is God's sovereign, unconditional decrees. There was no condition the Jews had to meet to end this captivity. God simply had determined the time frame for the Jews to return to their land. His good thoughts of their prosperity, hopes, and future were not based upon what they did. I also have to laugh at some of your remarks regarding III John 2. You cited this verse several times and on page 135 you told the reader, God wants more for you than just to make money: "He wants you to prosper even as thy soul prospereth. God wants it above all things (III John 1.2)." On page 219 you cite the verse again to support your belief God wants to bless you spiritually, physically, and financially. The interesting thing is, the words are written to Gaius by the apostle to show it is his wish to see his beloved brother prosper, be in health, even as his soul was prospering. But you take off on this passage to declare what God wants. Rather than following your line, what should be extracted from this text is that it is a good verse to teach saints should desire the best things for one another. I surely wouldn't expect a Christian to wish that any child of God be unsuccessful and unhealthy. Finally, let me make reference to several passages you quote out of the book of Job. On page 157 you quote: "Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee (Job 22.28, KJV)." Wow! You like to quote a verse that declares that a man might decree a thing but when it comes to God, you like to talk, not about what He decrees but about what He wants. On page 171 you quoted another verse: "If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures. (Job 36.11 KJV)." I wonder how you came upon these passages. I can only imagine you must have told yourself you needed to find some verses that went along with what you wanted the Bible to teach so you decided you would take a concordance and look up some key words and if they sounded good you would use them. I say I suspect this because there doesn't appear to be any evidence you examined what verses in Job you quoted. Had you done so you would have realized the only truth found in 22.28 was that a man named Eliphaz spoke the words to Job (22.1), but beyond this historical fact, there is nothing in Eliphaz' words to suggest he knew what he was talking about. See chapter 42.7. Then, the verse you quoted from 36.11 contains Elihu's words to Job. Some think he was a prophet who had rightly predicted the whirlwind that occurred when God spoke to Job (37.9; 38.1) but even if this is true he missed the mark on so many other things that it's hard to pay much attention to what he said. Elihu had no clue Job was perfect, upright, and a God-fearing man who hated evil. Look at how brutal his attack upon Job's character was (34.7-8 and 36-37). Like the other accusers, he had no knowledge why Job was afflicted and the verse you quoted from him provided no more of a remedy to get Job back to prosperity than the advice offered by the other companions. St. Matthew's Churches, if you are going to rely on the testimonies of Eliphaz and Elihu you may as well consider credible the Jews' charge against Jesus that He cast out devils by Beelzebub (Matthew 12.24). It's not enough to quote scripture. Consideration needs also to be paid to who in the biblical narrative is speaking.

I believe I have examined every major verse you used to try to establish your claims of material success through your seed principles, and every one falls short of the mark.

III. The Principle Of Exchange

Beside the "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" principle you spent so much time advancing in your book, you ought to be aware there's also another teaching that's somewhat different. It's the principle of exchange. Let me give you several passages. First, look at Psalm 126.5: "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." Joy is reaped in exchange of the tears that are sown. Second, look at the first part of Jeremiah 12.13: "They have sown wheat, but shall reap thorns." Again, there's an exchange. What is sown isn't what is reaped. Now, you may examine the context of both of these scriptures to figure out the meaning of these texts but you should have done this when you cited all the verses you used to support your seed principle doctrine. Let me give you one more text. You had even cited the chapter yourself but the particular verse I am referencing is I Corinthians 9.11: "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?" I'm sure that Paul is not denying that the apostles would not reap spiritual things; yet, this was not the point he was making in this verse. Rather, he was teaching the doctrine of exchange. The apostles sowed spiritual things. The folk who received these spiritual things had sown carnal (natural) things. The expectation was that there should be an exchange; much like, for example, when you go shopping and exchange money for the item you purchase. You can apply this same principle to some of the texts you had cited. "Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom" (Luke 6.38) does not have to be understood as a reaping in exact kind but rather a reaping from others that will be seen as something invaluable to the child of God. Likewise, the scripture you often quoted: "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully" (II Corinthians 9.6) doesn't have to be interpreted to mean material things for material things as you repeatedly teach, but rather, as the rest of the chapter indicates, it can be understood to mean what is reaped is clear evidence of these saints' Christian profession.

IV. The Lord As A Financial Partner

You frequently wrote about a financial partnership with the Lord. The third paragraph of your book's fourth page reads as follows: "This gospel book has information on several subjects. Our number one objective is to build your faith to the point where you can get all of your financial blessings to meet your needs that God so plainly has promised you in His divine Word. You will read actual testimonies of people just like you, who wrote to Saint Matthew's Churches to pray with them for all kinds of financial needs, and then wrote telling how God answered their prayer request. These are people that took God as their financial partner in life, through the Biblical Seed Harvest Plan. The financial blessings that they received in answer to their prayer request letter they wrote Saint Matthew's Churches requesting prayer, were such things as:

Cash from an unexpected source,
New car,
Raise in salary,
Better job,

Was unemployed, got a good job."

On page 6, and actually throughout the book, you continue to deal with the topics of finances, and other material items. You provide testimonials you said you have received from folk throughout the country who have participated in the Biblical Seed Harvest Plan, and the greater number of them have testified they have been blessed with such things as unexpected large sums of money, new cars, new homes, start ups of businesses, expansion of businesses; and the list goes on how materially blessed they have become by writing to you and sending you checks as a part of this Seed Harvest Plan.

Between pages 82 and 93 you listed the names of prominent millionaires from the past. You claimed all of these men were faithful Christians who gave their tithes and offerings, and you stressed how abundantly blessed they were in this world. Because I know little about these men I cannot comment on their faithfulness to Christ. However, since, according to the last page of your book your outfit wasn't established until 1951 it's interesting that they accumulated all of their riches during a period before your outfit was established. Wow! Just think what success these men might have had if you had been around then to take their checks. Am I making fun of you? Of course, I am. I said at the outset I have utter disdain for how you are using the Lord's name in your money-grubbing scheme and mocking you is one of my ways to express my contempt for what you are doing.

I can only guess why you even referred to these millionaires. I reckon it was nothing more than marketing; likened to commercials featuring celebrities advertising on television. Well-known names help sell products. After all, even you admit (pages 131-132) that non-Christians make millions too. You even made the candid admission that not everything under God's leadership will necessarily put money in the bank account (page 133). Then, you go off again on your theme about worldly riches: "What the world needs is more Christian millionaires and billionaires" (page 135). I can see where you are coming from with these words. After all, you have already stated quite plainly what you think about the person who is satisfied simply to have necessary food, shelter, and clothing. You said this person "is on a non-productive treadmill of meager existence" (pages 107-108). You don't think too kindly of Paul's words about being content with just food and raiment (I Timothy 6.8). Still, I'm left to wonder why the world needs more Christian millionaires and billionaires.

By the way, I found it interesting that of the 224 pages of your book, I counted 96 pages that had some statement about getting material things. That included the testimonies of people who you claim wrote to you about how abundantly blessed they were after participating in your plan. That is, almost 43 percent of your book had something to say about worldly goods.

I also found interesting that you want to be real careful in safeguarding the identity of people who write to you. On page 175 you wrote: "We only use our brothers and sisters initials on all letters and testimonies to protect the privacy of our dear moms and dads who write these letters to us, praising God for blessing them. We never give out our partners and Biblical Seed Harvest members' names to anyone. This information is confidential, between you (our dear members) and our blessed Lord, and His glorious Church." Well, until you told me this I was thinking these testimonials were simply stories you made up in your quest to get others to send you money. Now, I know the woman you identified on page 206 as Sister V.E. of Connecticut really does exist, and that she, as all of the others, actually received the great blessings after participating in the seed plan. Shame on me for not trusting you!

V. Warnings And Admonitions Concerning Riches

I don't deny there are numerous instances given in scripture where godly men were blessed with wealth. Israel's three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had great wealth. In Isaac's case it served as a sign to others that God was with him (Genesis 26.14, 16, 28-29). Job had wealth, lost it, and then had it restored. Both David and Solomon had wealth. Yet, the scripture doesn't provide us with an absolute rule that godly people always materially prosper. Look at Lazarus (Luke 16.19-22). As a matter of fact, based upon scripture, one is not often apt to find the Lord's saved among the wealthy. Read James 2.5-7: "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?" What can we conclude from these words? First, by using the appellation "brethren" we can conclude this is an address to the saints. Second, by virtue of the fact these saints have despised the poor, and yet have been oppressed by the rich themselves, we should conclude he was writing to saints who were what we today might call middle-class. Third, by noting he referred to the fact God chose the earthly poor "rich in faith" and heirs of His kingdom, ought we not to wonder if there is not a large number of poor folk among God's children?

Now, I would like to cite scriptures that show the dangers of seeking worldly goods due to the pernicious paths wherein the rich walk, and scriptures that admonish against striving for riches. I will begin by returning to James' epistle: "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were a fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and he doth not resist you" (James 5.1-6). This plainly establishes what the inspired writer had to say about the rich. Now let me ask you, St. Matthew's Churches, do you not see a contrast here between these first 6 verses in the chapter and what follows? Should we not suppose that the husbandman who waits "for the precious fruit of the earth" (verse 7) is analogous to someone other than a rich man and that the precious fruit is analogous to the sort of wealth that will have value at the Lord's coming (verse 8)? It may be argued, and I grant the point, that this is a general description of the wealthy man and that one should not conclude by it that it has a universal application, but James' words nonetheless do serve as a warning how wealth can corrupt. Again, I quote from the text that earlier was cited that stands in stark contrast to your theme: "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content" (I Timothy 6.6-8), but now let me go one step further so that we might see that Paul describes the very perils that face the wealthy: "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (verses 9-10). Jesus also had noted: "That a rich men shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19.23). Saints ought truly to reckon there are dangers associated with trying to have the best of both this world and the world to come.

Notice in one of Jesus' parables how He interpreted the seed that fell among thorns: Matthew 13.22, Mark 4.18-19, and Luke 8.14. Since each of these verses have essentially the same thought I will quote just from Matthew's account: "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." St. Matthew's Churches, the people represented by the thorny ground are the very people you are trying to reach in your book. On page 9, by your own statement, you wrote: "Did you know the number one prayer request Saint Matthew's Church receives each day is for God's help with finances?" Again, you had claimed on page 4 that the people who wrote to you testified they received the blessings of unexpected cash, new cars, new homes, salary raises, better jobs, or received good jobs after being unemployed. Throughout the book you wrote of God as the financial partner. After reading your book, why should I or anyone else not conclude the principle people you want to reach are the people represented by the thorny ground?

The next set of scriptures follow from the occasion in which a rich man inquired of the Lord what he could do to have eternal life. These scriptures are found in Matthew 19.23-30, Mark 10.23-31, and Luke 18.24-30. Although all three present the essential facts of what Jesus said after the encounter, since Mark's account was the only one that included the language about trusting in riches, I will quote from this gospel: "And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." No matter what gospel is cited, it should cause one to see the possible dangers of wealth.

Here is a text that requires very little commentary: "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13.5). Berry's Interlinear Greek-English New Testament provides this literal translation to the first part of the text: "Without love of money {let your} manner of life {be}, satisfied with present {circumstances}." This text is another example of the stark contrast drawn between scripture and your remarks about "meager existence." You see, St. Matthew's Churches, even if a child of God's present circumstances fall under your category of "meager existence," the Lord still abides faithfully with him in those circumstances.

Here are a couple of cites that discourage against the pursuit of worldly treasures: Jesus said: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6.19-21). Then, John said: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all things that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (I John 2.15-16). Now, I grant John's words are a broad statement that encompasses many things, but in light of scripture it most certainly should be considered to include earthly riches. All one has to do is read Ecclesiastes 2.1-11 to see that wealth, material things, and worldly pleasures were all a part of the vanity of which the inspired writer wrote, or, in a summary statement, said: "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity" (Ecclesiastes 5.10). Sadly, it's to such covetous souls that you seek to suck into your scheme of vanity.

Other scriptures can be cited but this should be sufficient to establish the truth there are warnings and admonitions against pursuing earthly wealth. Would to God, you had accented them in your book.

VI. Wealth Gains Through Sound Ethics

Between pages 109 and 113 you provide some very simple, common sense, and sound approaches for one to increase his financial assets. One would expect to hear much of the same if he talked to a financial advisor. You said it well (page 109): "Have your money working for you. (This is exactly what you need)," and on page 111 you enumerated a three point plan. First, you should stop the mentality of thinking you must keep up with the Joneses. Second, adjust your life style to bring it in line with your income. Third, adjust everything so that you can put at least 10% of your income into some savings plan. You further noted the power of compounding interest. So many people fail to recognize how powerful compounding interest can be to gaining more wealth. Likewise, many fail to recognize the negative side of interest. Many in this country are debt-ridden. They have been suckered into long term loans, when, if they had waited to gain more resources they could either purchase outright what they wanted or they could make a high down payment for their purchases so that the total amount paid during the loan in interest wouldn't be so great. Further, there are so many people who use the high interest rate credit cards and find themselves so far in debt they will never be able to pay them off.

On page 109 you made an excellent point: "In this country, the public as a whole has been brainwashed into thinking they can spend all of their money, but save at the same time. It cannot be done! You can invest money and build up savings, but when you spend it, your money is gone forever." You wrote in the next paragraph: "It is impossible to pick up a newspaper without finding ads telling you how you can buy a certain item and save. All advertising strategies of this type are geared to get you to spend money, not save. Businesses who use this kind of advertising are trying to get the money you have out of your pocket and put it in theirs." These are very sound statements. Unfortunately, you have learned well from these advertising strategies. This highlights my controversy with you. You're using the same strategies, and for all I know, you may be doing quite well with it. I get the idea you referred on page 113 to part of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25.16-18) to suggest Jesus was giving His disciples a lesson on how to invest to make money. Leaving such an impression fits very well into your advertising schemes to get money out of the reader's hands and into yours. When you talk about giving to the Lord, you are really asking for the checks to be sent to you. In short, just like business advertisements, you want money.

I readily admit there are biblical examples of godly men who were wealthy. I also don't deny saints often have fared well materially throughout the years. However, they have not had to follow the seed principle line that motivated them to give in order to get more. Many historians have seen a correlation between the wealth many Protestants gained during earlier stages of the Reformation and the life style these people lived. The Reformers (notably Calvinists) taught the importance of honesty, hard work, and a mindset that didn't indulge in worldly pleasures. Think how this life style could affect increases in wealth. For the hardworking businessman, those to whom he sold would note his industry and integrity and they would be apt to remain customers. If he worked for someone, his employer would be apt to reward him with pay increases and promotions for his faithful and honest labors. Since he did not pursue after worldly pleasures his spending would go to his family's basic needs and a few comforts of life. With patience, he would wait until he was able to purchase many of the things that he and his family desired. Interest debt would not be a problem for him. All of this would spring from a Christian life style, and he would have enough from his substance to contribute abundantly to the Lord without giving any thought to how much richer he could become by doing so.

Paul admonished the saints: "Provide things honest in the sight of all men" (Romans 12.17). Where have you stressed in your book dealing with honesty? Look at another one of Paul's admonitions; this one to the Thessalonians: "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (II Thessalonians 3.10). Here are some verses from Proverbs: "He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich" (10.4); and in the next verse, "He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame;" and "The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat" (13.4); and "Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase" (13.11). Where have you stressed a solid work ethic in your book?

It should be a given that some people have more than others. Some people are more intelligent than others, some are more skillful than others, some are healthier than others and some, due to family assets, start life with more material advantages than others. There are many factors involved in how one prospers in this world, but one should never fail to consider life style.

VII. Your Seed Principle Doctrine Refuted By Christianity During Biblical Times

If the seed principles are taught in the Bible as you suggest you would expect to find both the practice and the affects of the practice in evidence during the first century of Christianity. Well, let's look and see if it is.

First, let's look at Jesus Himself. After His birth Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. Joseph may have been able to provide better lodging had it been available (Luke 2.7), but the Lord probably was raised in a family that wasn't known for its high social/economic status. I say this by noting that when He returned during His ministry to His hometown, the folk were amazed that such a man could have such wisdom and do such mighty works. After all, there was nothing remarkable about the family from which He came (Matthew 13.54-56). Also, notice that on another occasion He had told a scribe that claimed he would follow Him wherever He went: "foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head" (Matthew 8.20). What! The Lord was no better off than when He was born. Didn't He practice the seed principle doctrine, or did it simply not work for Him? By this time I would think He would neither be homeless nor be without several residences scattered throughout His frequently traveled regions so He would have his own dwelling places to lodge when He went from town to town. I hope you get my drift.

You may say Jesus should not be held as an example of reaping material things because this wasn't what His life was all about. Rather, He was sowing different kinds of seeds. That would be a fair statement to make, so, second, let's see if during His ministry, He taught others to think in terms of benefiting by the money seed plan. A good case presented itself when a man asked Jesus to talk to his brother about dividing his inheritance with him. One might have thought Jesus would jump at the chance to advance the seed principle, and instruct the man that if he would give Him and His disciples a seed offering He would assemble the disciples and they would pray that "out of the blue" the brother would have a change of heart and give him a part of the fortune. Instead He told him, "Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?" Then He told those with Him: "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12.13-15.) Or look at what was said about the beggar, Lazarus, who was lying at the rich man's gate desiring crumbs from the rich man's table. Isn't it sad that no one had advised the poor man that he might have been able to dine at a luxurious table himself before he was taken to glory if someone had only told him he should give a few of the crumbs he received from time to time to the Lord (Luke 16.19-31)? Or, look again at the first four verses of Luke, chapter 21. In giving the account of Jesus seeing that a poor widow cast into the treasury the only two mites she had to her name, did Luke withhold the full story by failing to say within a few days she was walking along the roadside when, lo and behold, she found unexpectedly a bunch of money that someone had dropped? Surely, you would think this widow would have merited more than just the Lord's public commendation for sowing her seed. There is also the case of the rich man who inquired what he might do to have eternal life (Matthew 19.16-22). After having a dialogue with the man about the law Jesus told him, if he would be perfect he should give his possessions to the poor, and then become a disciple and have heavenly treasures. Of course, this saddened the rich man. He certainly didn't want to part with his riches. But you know, Jesus could have called the grieving man back, and told him it wasn't as bad as it sounded, that by sowing such a money seed, in no time at all he would get his wealth back and more, and then end up with eternal life as well. And I wonder about this other part. Why did Jesus tell him to sell and give his substance to the poor? Surely, there was a group like St. Matthew's Churches that existed in those days that would gladly take his wealth on behalf of God.

Third, let's look at the apostles' lives. It doesn't look as if Peter was faring too well with the seed principles. He told the beggar at the temple's gate that he did not have silver or gold to give him (Acts 3.1-6). Now, that's hard to believe. After having been with Christ for several years you would think by this time he and the other disciples would have sown their money seeds and be living on easy street. I guess there wasn't a profit in being a fisher of men (Matthew 4.19). Well, wonder if the other disciples fared any better. I'm not getting from Jesus' words that a lot of wealth was in the cards for any of them. When Peter pointed out to the Lord that they had forsaken all and followed Him, he wanted to know what they were going to have. Christ replied: "every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life (Matthew 19.27-29), or, if you will, as it's put in Luke's account, he will receive "manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting (18.30). Now, don't jump to conclusions with these words. There are riches that saints receive that have nothing to do with worldly gain. The hundredfold consisted of houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers (mark that, mothers), and children, and lands, along with persecutions (Mark 10.30). Follow this through. They forsook the ties they had in this world only to gain new ones of a different sort. Their family members became the sort Jesus spoke of; that is, those who did His Father's will (Matthew 12.46-50), and they now could see themselves as having more than one mother (I Timothy 5.1-2). Their houses became homes where they were warmly received (Luke 10.4-11). You may have heard hosts tell their guests, "treat this place as your own; what's mine is yours." The lands they were given were more than fields. They became the lands where they preached: Judea, Samaria, and other parts of the earth (Acts 1.8). You see, scripture defines what these manifold blessings were. They were not found in material wealth.

Fourth, let's look at apostolic doctrine. You would think the apostles would have made the seed principles a major part of their messages wherever they went. Read the book of Acts. They said nothing about it. When he spoke to the elders (Acts 20.17), Paul did have this to say: "I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20.33-35). That's a far cry from your message that the weak can receive the blessing by first sowing their financial seeds. But you see, these early disciples were too occupied preaching Christ's death, burial, and resurrection to focus upon worldly gain through seed principles.

If you want to say the apostles' seed sowing was for things other than material benefits I will agree, but notice they, like Jesus, had many opportunities along the way to advance the seed principles. Yet, they didn't. Acts, chapter 4 records something that was done in Jerusalem during the earliest part of apostolic times. Believers who owned lands or houses sold them and what money they received from the sale of these properties was laid at the apostles' feet so that distribution could be made to those in need. The upshot was none lacked anything as a result of this practice (verses 34-37). Continuing into the 5th chapter we read the dreadful deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, who had sold their properties but held back a portion of the money received. We would conclude from Peter's pronouncement that their sin was in failing to live up to their agreement to give up all they had. Their sin resulted in immediate death (5.1-11). This practice of sharing doesn't appear to have continued very long. Whatever the reason was for stopping the practice, according to chapter 6, the Greeks starting murmuring against the Jews "because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration" (verse 1). We see that the apostles responded quickly to the criticism by appointing seven men to see that the widows were not neglected (verses 1-6). Turn your attention now to Acts, chapter 11. A prophet named Agabus came from Jerusalem to Antioch and foretold the great dearth that actually occurred later in the days of Claudius Caesar. What did the disciples do? According to the scripture, they, "every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul" (verses 27-30).

Look at all the opportunities these disciples missed to establish a system whereby money seed principles would be an integral part of early Christianity. After all, if the apostles had only taken the time to teach the Church at Jerusalem from the beginning that if the poor would have sown what money seeds they could those who were better off than they would not have to sell their homes and lands to support them. Yes, the more wealthy ones could pay their tithes, but God would see that all the members were better off than before. And, in the end poor Ananias and his wife would not have been in a position to be tempted to hold back a part of the money they received. See what the apostles' neglect caused. And look what happened. Widows were still being neglected. The apostles still hadn't learned their lesson. Those poor widows would not have been poor had the apostles done what they should have done at the start. But look what was done to correct the problem about the widows. The apostles still didn't get it. Instead of incorporating the money principle seeds into the church's system, they appointed seven men to see that these widows were no longer neglected. St. Matthew's Churches, sadly, this is the legacy the apostles left us today. We have deacons. And why oh why did Gentile believers have to come to rescue their Jewish brethren? If the Christians had only tithed, the dearth may have been all around them, but they would not have been hit by it. Isn't that what you were inferring by your remarks on page 86 about the California farmer who was to claim the promise in Malachi, chapter 3 when he discovered "the dreaded army beetle" in one of his fields? You see, St. Matthew's Churches, the principle of giving was taught in apostolic times, as well as the Lord's promise: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13.5) but the promise was not framed in a doctrine that if you sow your money seeds you'll end up with an increase in wealth.

Before leaving this portion of my response to your book, I would like to make the point that early Christians in their social and economic ranks were probably a mirror of what was to be found among the Roman Empire's general population. I draw this conclusion from Paul's words to the Corinthians: "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called" (I Corinthians 1.26). He then refers to verses out of Jeremiah 9.23-24 that one should glory in none other than the Lord (verses 27-31). I want to make this point. In place of the term "noble" the prophet used the term "rich man." Since a man of the noble class was thought to be a person of wealth, the two terms could be used interchangeably. The upshot is early Christians by and large were not noted for their outstanding minds, or for their power, or for their wealth. Yes, there were a few who were, but not many. So, let's reckon the same today, and thank God for what we have, and leave it there.

VIII. Points Of Faith Contact

A portion of your book (pages 63-76) dealt with tangible things used by people in order to focus their faith. I quote a part of a paragraph you started on page 65 and finished on page 67: "Throughout the Bible, there are a tremendous number of examples in which believers used a tangible item as a point of faith contact (an item which helps one focus his or her faith), before receiving an answer to prayer. Bear in mind that in almost every instance where a believer in the Bible used a tangible point of faith item, he or she did it in obedience to instructions or acts of faith given by a servant of God. As you read these accounts, you will find that as the believer follows these instructions, he or she was working with God, doing his or her part, to bring about the fulfillment of his or her heart's desires, and seeing prayer answered in divine order." I'll dismiss outright your reference to the Billy Graham faith instructions given during his crusades. If there's any scriptural basis for his altar calls where he invites people to come forward to the platform to accept Christ as their personal Savior and receive prayer for their salvation, I would like for you to show me the verse. What I find in the Bible is when Christ was preached, repentant believers were baptized, and then they were generally brought into fellowship with other believers. Other than the Graham crusades you did list other examples as bread and wine during Communion, water in baptism and feet washing, and anointing oil in prayer for the sick. You also cited examples of the oil and meal used to feed Elijah, the widow, and her son during a time of famine, and the money Peter found in the fish to pay a tax. You cited five points of faith contact before the Hebrews received the miracle of Jericho during Joshua's time: the shoes, the ark, the seven trumpets, the swords, and the fire. You cited other examples too but I won't continue to go through all of them.

Your rationale in citing these examples was to justify your own use of tangible items you use when you communicate with others. I quote from page 72: "These examples can help you understand why ministers of Saint Matthew's Churches use Points Of Faith Contact Items, Seed Principle Faith instructions, Steps Of Faith and Acts Of Faith. These items, instructions, steps, and acts help men and women get their prayers answered, and help them focus in worshipping God and His Son Jesus Christ." You had said on pages 67-68: Saint Matthew's ministers follow the same procedures when writing sermon prayer letters to our members. Many times, the Holy Spirit moves our ministers to include with the letters to our members a tangible item, which is a point of faith contact. When we do this, we do it to help the recipients of the sermon prayer letter release their faith to God as the church prays with them for their prayer to be answered, and/or their needs to be met. The members can choose to use these faith contact items according to Seed Principle faith instructions." Continuing on page 68 you wrote: "Sometimes, when you receive a sermon prayer letter from Saint Matthew's Churches, you may find a tangible faith item that you may not have seen used before in any special prayer service. This is one reason why our ministers always include instructions for using a particular faith item according to Seed Principle faith."

Well, since it's St. Matthew's Churches' ministers that are doing all of this, I reckon I ought to respond directly to them in my reply. I guess this explains why you fellows sent me such things as the prayer rug and the penny, isn't it? Let me ask you this. Where is the second penny? My letter said I was to get two. I only got one. Even allowing your point about the tangible items, have any of you ministers noticed that none of your biblical examples dealt with sowing money seeds to reap a financial harvest? Only in the case of the Lord instructing Peter to go fishing in order to find something in the mouth of the first fish he caught in order to pay the Roman tribute do we find any reference to money, and even in this case it neither financially profited the disciple nor the Lord (Matthew 17.24-27). Sorry, you guys. I'm not buying into your scheme.

IX. A Look At A Man With All The Right Words

I won't overlook the fact your book spoke of the importance of spiritual blessings. On page 38 you indicated that scriptures you used for the reader's benefit "will show you that God desires to bless you not only spiritually, but also financially." Hey, I may have a "hang up" with your expression that God wants to do something for me, but at least you did put the spiritual blessings ahead of the financial. That is, you did this time anyway. On page 42 and continuing on page 44 you wrote: "The word of God (truth) is the food from heaven for your mind, heart, spirit, and soul. Jesus said in Matthew 4.4, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.' When we start trying to live by 'bread alone' we discover quickly that the desires of our heart are always out of reach." You wrote those words after you had indicated on page 40 that we can be free from all kinds of negativity and you enumerated: sin, guilt, fear, worry, loneliness, sorrow, sickness, suffering, poverty, and lack and limitation of all kinds. Well, at least, you got sin and guilt in there first. All of this is fair and well, but, alas, in the same general section, you admitted that the major theme of your book focused upon the material side. You wrote: "Do you need God's financial blessing? We are only sending this book to the homes we feel, in the Holy Spirit, are in need of financial blessings. People are getting raises, better jobs, better homes, and they are buying and selling property. The Biblical Seed Harvest Plan beats anything we have ever seen! Here at Saint Matthew's Church and across the nation, our Biblical Seed Harvest members are in the middle of a God sent financial blessing revival" (page 44 and continued on page 50). Wow! I was wondering how it was that you started sending me your material. Now I know. The Holy Spirit directed you to my residence. I guess, based upon your wording, neither the Holy Spirit nor you are concerned about my soul. Both the Spirit and you want me to be blessed materially more than I am even though I'm satisfied with my present material lot. If it were only my soul, you wouldn't even have bothered with me. However, I reckon you did cover all bases with me after all. I say this because on page 19 you provided space amid instructions concerning material blessings to relate the steps I must take to be saved. Since you were writing about my financial needs you felt you might just tell me what I had to do to be saved just in case I wasn't saved yet. I also acknowledge you peppered your language concerning the seed principles with the need to believe and to obey. It's always good to get these things in, isn't it?

Your words remind me about Balaam, a man who lived during Moses' time. He was known to be quite skillful in his trade. His reputation was so great that when Balak, the king of Moab, feared the Israelites who then were at his doorstep, he sent for this man to curse Israel. You ought to read about Balaam. Most of what is said about him is found in Numbers, chapters 22-24. He knew all the right words to say about God, and, although his skill was in divination and enchantments (22.7 and 23.23), he sure sounded as if he was a man of God. He sought the Lord in the matter whether or not he should go with the men Balak had sent to him. God told him he was not to go so he refused to go with them (22.8-14). When Balak tried again with a promise of promoting him to great honor, Balaam replied he could not go beyond the LORD his God, even if it meant turning down a house full of silver and gold (22.15-19). Man, did he sound holy! He even made it clear God, not he, controlled the situation. Even after finally going to Balak, he told him in no uncertain terms, "Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say anything? The word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak" (22.38). Well, at least he knew enough to acknowledge he was under the sovereign control of Almighty God, but man, did he try to get a curse out of his mouth! He made three attempts to curse Israel. The end result of the first try came out this way: "How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his (23.8-10)! The second try was no better. Balaam proclaimed: "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it." And he went on to say God was with Israel and beheld no perverseness in him, and that there was no divination or enchantment that would undo what God had done (23.19-23). Poor Balak was completely frustrated, but he wanted at least to try to cut his losses. He asked Balaam to neither curse nor bless Israel (23.25), but, alas, as before, this also didn't work. He could not even neutralize the situation. The next chapter reveals Israel was blessed and Moab was cursed. Truly, wicked Balaam was under God's sovereign control.

I call Balaam wicked but he appeared so obedient to the Lord, so willing to forfeit even silver and gold, so favorable toward God's people, and so masterful with regard to his religious speech. It's hard in the context of these three chapters not to see him as a man of God. Yet, there are verses in the book of Numbers that paint a different picture. As he traveled to Balak, the Lord's angel had noted that his way was perverse (22.32), and when Israel warred against the Midianites, his life was not spared (31.7-8). That wasn't a good sign. He wasn't treated like Rahab (Hebrews 11.31). The New Testament writers had no good thing to say about him. Peter compared the frauds of his day who had adulterous eyes that could not stop sinning, who beguiled unstable souls, whose hearts exercised in covetous practices, who were out and out cursed people, and who forsook the right path and went astray with "Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness (II Peter 2.14-15). Jude compared corrupt men to those who "ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward" (Jude 11). And John spoke against those in the church at Pergamos "that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication" (Revelation 2.14). See Number 25.1-3 and 31.16.

You see things were not quite as Balaam's speech would lead you to believe. He was crafty to mingle the right words with his ungodliness. He really wanted the silver and the gold but he was sly about going after it. On the night before he started his journey to be with Balak, the Lord laid out the sign that would give him the right to go. It was this: "If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them." However, the next verse doesn't say the men came to call on him. It simply says: "And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab" (Numbers 22.20-21). It's for this reason that the angel said his way was perverse, that Peter likened him unto those whose hearts exercised in covetous conduct, and that Jude likened him to greedy ones desiring reward. His speech was much holier than he was.

Now, I'll let you figure out why I inserted a piece about Balaam in my reply to you.

X. Scriptural Refutation Of Your Underlying Presumption Of Man's Free Choice

No matter what topic you advanced in your book it shows your underlying presumption of free will. You claimed a person's eternal destiny is in his own hands. On page 19, under the heading "God's Plan of Salvation For Our Souls" you stated: "Our souls will go to heaven or hell. The choice is ours to make," and then you listed the steps one needs to take to become a Christian. You continued to speak along the same lines when you advanced your seed principle views. On page 79 you wrote: "Your prosperity depends upon the type of seeds you choose to sow in the garden of your life." On the same page and continuing on the next page you wrote: "Here and now, God wants you to start living a happy, joyful, and inspired life. His Word declares that He wants you to be healthy and prosperous spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically and financially." In short, God wants it all for us. We just need to cooperate with Him. Your statements about faith contact objects followed the same line. On page 72 you wrote: "More than once, Christ thought it necessary for those in need to perform acts of Seed Principle faith. When Jesus used these things, the kind of faith that creates miracles was sparked in the believers, and God wrought special miracles because of that faith." Earlier, on the same page you used this principle to justify your own use of items you mail out. The items, the instructions, the steps, and the acts work to help people focus upon worshipping God. Consistent with all of this, on pages 209 and 212, after you claimed someone from Michigan wrote to you saying she was blessed with a new Chevy and some furniture, you quoted from NRSVA version of the Bible: "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity" (Deuteronomy 30.15), and alongside the words from the same version "Of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches (Psalm 112.2,3)." Of course, from all of this, it's plain you take the typical free will stance. God wants to save us. God wants to bless us with happiness, good health, and prosperity. We simply have to follow His directions so that He can do what He wants for us.

Let's go to page 19 where you outline God's salvation plan for us. Since you indicated that it's our choice that determines our souls' destinies, I reckon you must believe that God wants us to follow the steps you list. First, it's required that we make an admission of sin, and the scripture you cite is Romans 6.23, but if you look you will see this verse says nothing about making such an admission, and I wonder if your reference to that passage was a typographical error, and that you really meant Romans 3.23: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." This is usually the text most plans of salvation cite when they list the first step one must take to be saved. However, this verse also doesn't command an admission; it just simply states the fact that all are sinners. You moved on from the need to admit sin to the need to repent; then to a need to commit to Jesus; then to a need to confess Christ before men. Sadly, consistent with most simple plans of salvation, you left out vital pieces of God's plan. First, by starting with the step of admitting sin you neglected to go back to eternity to the point of the plan's origin. (I'm using the term "plan" to accommodate your terminology). What you left out are God's sovereign, eternal decrees. Let me state it for you: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" (Ephesians 1.3-5). Mark how this terminology contrasts with language you often use. God chose His people; His people didn't choose Him. God predestinated; He didn't simply want something to happen. I'm sure you are aware of what the first verse in the Bible states: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1.1). Now, if God chose His people before "the foundation of the world," not because they were holy and blameless, but in order to be brought into such a state, and predestinated them according to His own good pleasure unto the adoption of children by Christ to Himself, it should be plain not only did all of this precede the creation of the world, but it also preceded the time before they were born into the world to have opportunity to admit sin, repent, commit to Christ, and confess Him before men. Second, you left out the fact God operates within His elect to bring about some of the very works you make as steps the sinner must take to be saved, such as repentance and faith. I say He operates within them. If you read further in Ephesians you will see that after God accepted (1.6), provided redemption and pardon (1.7), quickened (2.5), and saved His people by grace through God-given faith (2.8-9), He made them "his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (2.10). Even in citing these heavenly blessings I know I left out many other blessings stated in these two chapters that flow to us through Christ. What's described in scripture is not what God wants to do, but what God has first purposed and then accomplishes. The psalmist said it well: "our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased" (Psalm 115.3)

You also referred to one text I used. On page 40 you wrote: "All of God's blessings come 'by Grace through faith, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God' (Ephesians 2.8)." However, I was completely amazed by your commentary concerning the text: "This faith is given to us when we accept God's Word as truth concerning all things God says and promises." St. Matthew's Churches, that was a remarkably unbelievable sentence. I thought when I read it the first time, surely, you didn't say that, but then I read it again, and sure enough you did. I don't want to twist your remarks, but I am going to analyze what you just wrote. According to you, the faith cited in the 8th verse isn't given to us until the time when we accept God's Word as true concerning what He says and promises. In other words, we accept something before we believe it. Applying the principle Paul gave when addressing the issue of things eaten: "whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14.23), I reckon you hold we must commit sin first in order to have this God-given faith. Me-thinks you got the order out of place. It would make much more sense to say we accept His word as true because we believe it, but you didn't say that. You would rather twist the scripture around to suppose that the faith spoken of in the 8th verse was given on condition the person first does something rather than to acknowledge the truth that faith is given unconditionally.

I am being playful with another unbelievable statement you made on page 44: "The word of God is like an apple, in the sense that it gives you life only when you partake of it." Did you actually write that sentence? On a re-read I had to conclude you did. Now, let me see. If an apple is going to give me life, I must first be lifeless. So, somehow I'm going to take the apple and become alive. Tell you what! Try this out sometime. The next time you're at a wake, go up to the corpse with an apple in your hand, force open the body's mouth and poke the apple in it, and see if the body comes alive. Hey, if it works, yes, a lot of folk will be surprised but think of how many grieved loved ones will be thankful for what you did. On second thought, maybe first you should try this out when you're alone with, say, a rock, to see if the apple will give it life. I don't want you to be too embarrassed if the apple doesn't bring life back to the corpse. I didn't twist your words, but in fairness to you I'm sure it wasn't what you wanted to imply. Unlike what you said about faith, you did modify your meaning by your next sentence: "You could be in the middle of an apple orchard full of ripe fruits, but starve to death, unless you choose to eat some." From this sentence I must surmise your overall intention was to say the apple helps sustain life, not actually gives it. But the overall pattern of what you said still follows the line of your free choice suppositions.

Your free will assumptions lie at the core of statements you make concerning your seed principle doctrine. On page 166, you wrote: "What you release up to God from your hands is what He has to multiply back to you from His hands." Poor God! I guess He needs our help doesn't He? David made a much truer statement: "The earth is the LORD'S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein (Psalm 24.1). Here's another statement that tells us a proper offering is not predicated upon us supplying God with something: "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof" (Psalm 50.10-12). Maybe it would be better for you to re-think your statement what we give God is what He has to multiply back to us. On page 218, citing your often use of Luke 6.38, that, by the way teaches nothing like what you try to make it, you stated: "JESUS IS saying this to you. When we release up to the Lord what our hands control, He then releases back to us what His hand controls." At least, you credit Him with controlling some things, but Nebuchadnezzar expressed a much truer statement about God when he said: "all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou" (Daniel 4.35)? Yes, I know he was a heathenish king but in context with what he experienced and in context with the whole testimony of scripture, I'll stand by the statement he made and let you try to divide between what God controls and what we control. According to your statement, you must not think He controls everything.

On page 153, under the heading "God Created You To Be A Winner" you wrote: "Believe in yourself. There are some very religious people who have negative concepts about themselves. They think, wrongly that it is an act of humility to condemn and belittle themselves. They not only think it makes them more humble, but also that it exalts God." In the next short paragraph you state: "The problem with this kind of wrong attitude is that as he thinketh in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23.7)." There's absolutely nothing stated in this verse that would lead to the conclusion there's something wrong with not believing in yourself, but me-thinks you ought to review the context of the scripture you quote. If you do so you will see Solomon isn't admonishing the child of God to examine his own thoughts. Rather, he is warning the child of God to beware of the man who devises evil in his heart and he tells him he ought not to partake of what the evil man offers (verse 6). Since the evil-eyed man is as he thinks in his heart the reader should see that his offering really isn't as good as it is presented to be. You know, that makes me think about you. I'm having a hard time seeing that what you're offering me by way of instructions is really for my good. It appears more like an evil scheme to get my money. You ought to be careful here. If there are others who read the full context they might just read verses 4-5 as well and conclude as I have that your intentions aren't really pure. But tell me, why in the world should I believe in myself? Saints should rather trust in the Lord: "Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD" (Jeremiah 17.5). Since I'm a man I would think this verse is saying I can neither rely upon myself nor upon anyone else. Again, in verse 7 we read: "Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is." This verse directs us to where our faith should be. Now, I have quoted scripture that states the Lord; not man is to be trusted. Where is your scripture that backs up your statement that we are to believe in ourselves?

One of the most important Old Testament prophecies is found in the book of Jeremiah. Its significance lies in the fact it foretells the change in covenants from the Old to the New. I refer to it as a change, but actually I believe God has always worked inwardly with His people as outlined in this prophecy. The difference is, when the Law was introduced to Israel, the operations of God's grace were not made as plain as they now are during these gospel times. I quote from Jeremiah 31.31-34: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah." Right away, someone may argue these words are solely directed to the Jews. I would suggest that anyone taking this view read Romans 2.28-29: "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." I'm confident that in the light of Paul's words it will be plain what Jeremiah said should be applied to certain Jews as well as certain Gentiles.

According to Jeremiah, this New Covenant is "Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD." Did you get that? It's a new covenant. It's not like the old (see also Hebrews, chapter 8). I have already noted your references to Deuteronomy 30.15 out of the NRSVA version: "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity." Yes, this Old Covenant, with the Law written upon tables of stone, contained great promises, but it was a conditional covenant. The people had to choose the right path to receive these covenant blessings. But now this Covenant has given way to the New. If there's any part of the Old, including the Ten Commandments, that continues, it was reintroduced in these gospel times. The Mosaic Covenant is now history. Do you understand this? Here's what's set forth in the New Covenant: "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." You like to talk about what we must do to implement the seed principles. Well, by golly, notice the contrast between these words and the words you quoted from Deuteronomy 30.15. Under the Old, the Law was set before the people. Under the New, the law is put and written within. Life and prosperity is no longer presented as something "we got to do" to receive God's blessings. Those identified as a Jew in the inward sense are under an unconditional covenant wherein God implements the law within His people. Despite the great promises, no one ever attained life and good under the Old Covenant. The end result was always death and evil as evidenced by Paul's words, "by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight" (Romans 3.20). You are so adamant to promote the doctrine of free choice into your scheme of things that you are willing to reintroduce words out of the Old Covenant; that is, Deuteronomy 30.15, that has left people in a cursed state. However, under this New Covenant the work is performed within the saints so the work is totally of God. No room is left for the notion of man's free will. What promises could not possibly be realized under the old, conditional covenant now are assured under the new, unconditional covenant. Look at the further provisions of this covenant: "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD." This part of the prophecy is in line with Jesus' words to His Father shortly before His death: "As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17.2-3). While you reflect on these words, return to the prophecy: "for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." From start to finish it is God's work of salvation and man's so called free will won't mingle with it.

Let's go back to the words, "I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts." Human endeavor is not a part of this covenant. Those under this covenant don't have the law placed before them as something they have to obey in order to be blessed. Rather, as noted previously, the blessing is in the fact the law has been internally applied. They did not choose to place the law within. God just simply put it within them. It is in full agreement with what Paul wrote when he said to those saved by grace: "we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2.10). Don't fancy weakening the word "should" to mean simply we ought to walk in God's law. I'm sure you don't think "should" means "ought" in its usage in John 3.16. Jesus wasn't saying there that believers ought not to perish but, who knows, maybe they will. We must understand "should" in a much stronger way. What God does for His people is not a cooperative venture between Him and man where God does His part and man ought to do his. The work is all of God. They, God's workmanship, have been created in accordance with His own designs to walk in good works.

Since the free will doctrine is in vogue today, I realize most professors of Christ believe as you do that we control both our destiny and how our lives are lived on earth by the choices we make. However, it's the heart and not the will that is the motivating force behind our actions. By the heart, I'm not talking about the bodily organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies. I'm talking about the biblical heart that's defined as the seat of our affections. Our choices follow our desires. For example, my favorite vegetable is green beans, but I cannot stand broccoli. Have both on the table during a meal and I will readily choose green beans and reject broccoli. The choice I make is based upon what I desire and what I don't desire. And further, the fact I like the one and hate the other didn't come about because one day I decided I was going to start liking green beans and hating broccoli. Still further, I don't know how I could ever choose to reverse the order and start liking broccoli and hating green beans. Free choice doesn't determine the heart or change the heart. However, the heart's desire does determine what choices we make, and from them come our actions. I realize many of the decisions we make in life are more complicated than the example I just cited. Some of our choices aren't between what we like and what we don't like. Sometimes we make hard choices between all favorable options or between all unfavorable options. Nonetheless, the decisions we make are still governed by where our strongest affections lie.

Under the New Covenant the saints are still given commandments. For example, in these gospel times God still commands repentance and faith. Peter commanded his hearers to repent, saying: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3.19). You had cited the faith commandment in your book. Paul told the trembling jailor: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16.31). I don't dispute the fact both repentance and faith are commanded. Yet, consistent with the prophecy, we also see that God works within His covenant people to bring them to repentance and faith. Check it out. In preaching Christ to the Jews, Peter also declared, "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5.31). Peter later declared to the Church the work God performed among Gentiles: "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance to life" (Acts 11.18). God brings about repentance by turning the sinner so that he is turned and repents (Jeremiah 31.18-19). So, we see both a commandment concerning repentance and an enabling power to repent. The same is true with regard to faith. As shown in Ephesians 2.8, it's the gift of God. So, the command to believe is accompanied by the enabling gift to believe.

The prophet Ezekiel also had something to say about the heart. He referred to the "new heart." First, he commanded Israel to make themselves a new heart: "Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart, and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" He adds: "For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye" (18.31-32). Yet, again we see the same truth that for the transgressor to make himself a new heart the work must in fact come from the Lord: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." Notice the aim of this work: "And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them" (36.25-27). Ezekiel is addressing the Jews as is plain from the next verses that show he speaks of the return and prosperity of the people in their homeland. Yet, the principle is established with regard to the work of cleansing from filthiness and idolatry that was later brought to pass upon the Gentiles as well.

People love to quote scriptures that use the word "whosoever." As a matter of fact, they like the word so much they often make up an expression that nowhere is found in the Bible: "whosoever will may come." The closest thing to that expression is found in Revelation 22.17. The preceding words state: "And let him that is athirst come." Ones that aren't athirst ought not to think the rest of the verse applies to them. What follows is "And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." There is an admonishment here for the thirsty to freely take the water of life. This is the "whosoever will." With this thought of admonition in mind, you will find the same biblical truth established that the Lord makes "whosoever wills" out of His people. Turn to Philippians 2.12-13: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Paul's thought doesn't end with this command. He continued: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will, and to do of his good pleasure." We have here a "whosoever will" presented that's not based upon so-called free will, but it's a will that God worked within so that the believer will do God's good pleasure. Here's another scripture. David wrote: "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power" (Psalm 110.3). The time of the willingness of the people occurs in the day of the Lord's power. When can we suppose that day comes? I reckon we can say it comes whenever the Lord is pleased to perform His powerful work within His New Covenant people. Take the example of Paul. The Lord called him "a chosen vessel (Acts 9.15). However, he spent the early portion of his life showing no sign that God had made choice of him. For all he was doing against the Church of God, you could only describe him as a "whosoever will not." Paul confessed, "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26.9). Since he was a Pharisee before his conversion, I reckon he then saw the law only in terms of its writing upon the tables of stone. What changed him? The day of Christ's power came upon him when God was pleased to separate him from his mother's womb, and call him by grace to reveal Christ in him (Galatians 1.15-16). On that day his contrariness gave way to both a trembling and an astonished state, and it was evident he yielded to the power of Christ when he said: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9.6). This was the day of God's power in him and he became a "whosoever will."

There's no end to this dual truth. God commands repentance, faith, a new heart and spirit, and He also works in His covenant people to bring about these commands. This is the basis in which we see the relationship described by the Lord through Jeremiah that He "will be their God, and they shall be my people." Because His law is put within them they become "whosoever wills." God has either put that law within you or else you know nothing at all about gospel truth.

XI. Concluding Remarks

Before ending my reply to you I want to make clear what my areas of controversy with you are. I'm neither opposed to the practice of giving nor am I opposed to the teaching God blesses the giver. Paul brought afresh Christ's words to those he addressed: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20.35). His words strike at the heart of my opposition to you. The greater blessing is seen in giving, not in receiving. By your seed principle doctrine you make receiving the greater of the blessing. I expect an investment firm to offer plans to increase wealth but I don't expect this to be the focus from a Christian professor. The truth that should be gleaned from a proper understanding of sowing and reaping was never presented by you and those who fall prey to your teaching probably lose money. You come across as a con artist who highlights getting unexpected cash, cars, homes, and so on. To you, the life of free choice faith and obedience leads the Christian to have it all, both in this world and the world to come. You have the same mindset as Satan presented when he replied to God concerning Job: "Doth Job fear God for nought?" In other words, surely Job would not be obeying God for nothing. If God removed His hand of protection and blessing, Job would curse God to His face (Job 1.9-11). Pretenders just might do as Satan said. True saints, as Job, won't.

As Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18.27) so out of disgust for how you have disgraced the holy name of Jesus I have at every opportunity made light of your scheme. Let others do likewise. It's a joke; not a funny one, but nonetheless it is a joke.

P.S. By the way, although I didn't return to you the penny you sent me, I did add it to another contribution I made to the Lord. Who knows, maybe one of these days I will get in the mail quite unexpectedly a check in the doubled amount of two cents.

David K. Mattingly
October, 2005