Coatepec, Veracruz. Usually, the Sunday morning preaching is quite good. Last week, however, there was a guest preacher from Tamaulipas. This preacher crossed many lines in sermon, mixing in mis-interpretation and mis-application with many good points, making it a difficult sermon to challenge or question. He would make a solid assertation on Christian life, and then follow it with an erroneous one.
He began in Genesis, with Cain and Abel, and his explanation on this was solid. Pointing out that it was not what Cain offered (ground provisions) but the quality of his offering. Abel offered his first fruits and the best of each. Scripture seems to indicate in the passage that Cain simply offered whatever he had handy, not necessarily his first and best. And that was the problem.
From there, this preacher jumped to Ezekiel 44:30. How he got there, I am not sure, but this is where he began to derail.
And from there it just tended to get worse.
He read Ezekiel 44:30 to the congregation and then told us that "the priests in this church are the pastors."
He just equated the contemporary office of Pastor with the role and office of the Levitical priests.
Shame on him!
Hebrews 8 explains that the Levitical priesthood is absolete, as it was part of the old covenant. Verse 6 points out that the ministry of Jesus is superior to that of the priests (such as those mentioned in Ezekiel 44:30), and verse 13 says that the priesthood is obsolete because of the work of Jesus.
Therefore the pastors are most certainly not the same as priests. There are no more priests with a valid warrant since the Cross. Jesus Christ was the final in that line (Hebrews 7).
From here the preacher made two valid assertations: 1. That offerings are for the work of God, and 2. that Offerings should be the best we have to give. I wholly agree.
From Ezekiel 44:30, he moved on to Romans 11:16, which he cited completely out of context. He used this verse to say that if a person gives their first fruits (first paycheck, first commissions, first crop, etc), then this act sanctifies the year to come, and all earnings thereof, and these will be multiplied. While that is what 11:16 says when standing alone, it is NOT what it talks about in its greater context. Paul is talking about taking the Gospel to the Gentiles. This verse is not intended to imply that giving one's first fruits guarantees a sanctified year, and increased prosperity. What does make an offering holy is the intent with which it is given, and the attitude of the giver (see the story of Cain and Abel). Never does an offering guarantee future wealth or prosperity.
From Romans 11 he moved onto Luke 21, where Jesus offers a commentary on the quality of the offerings given. Here he gave a very poor explanation of the offering box, and describes Jesus and the 12 as standing right near the box, watching everyone put in their offerings. I do not see in the text where it says that this is what Jesus was doing. In fact, the text seems to imply something quite different, where Jesus, from a distance observes the act of offering. Then he discussed the rich young man whom Jesus tells to sell everything, accurately pointing out how people tend to put their possession sahead of the work of God.
From here he returned to his assertation that offerings equate to greater blessings to follow. However, the only sort of offering he discussed was financial. The root of evil is the love of money, but the root of blessing is not offering. This assertation does not exist in scripture. Then he said that if the congregants want their 2012 to be blessed, they should give their first fruits. Prosperity Gospel Alert!
Offerings are born in the heart. If one gives his/her first fruits to recieve blessings, then blessings will not be received. If one gives to glorify God, then God will bless accordingly (but not necessarily proportionately).
Here he accurately asserted that the only guaranteed investment is the Kingdom of God.
I truly pray that each of the people who went forward honours their commitment, lest they great a commitment they made to God.
Then, before praying, he said that the firstfruit offering "Sanctifies" the people who make it, and their year too.?!?!?! Judaizer Alert!
We as Christians are not sanctified by anything we do, give, or sacrifice, but wholly by the blood of Jesus Christ. Gal 2:21. We are not Jews, and our sanctification does not depend on a sacrificial system.
When we can get our schedules to align, I intend to take the church's pastor for coffee. I hope that the opportunity presents itself to express my concerns over this sermon delivered by the guest speaker. Please pray with me that if it does, that the pastor's heart and mind be open to what the Bible has to say, and guide him to make some sort of correction from the pulpit.
To close, here is a beautiful song of worship that expressess accurately the sentiment of offering from the believer: