The Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7) is a revival sermon. It wasn’t delievered in a cathedral to a bunch of silent church-goers, but in the midst of a powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit where mighty miracles were occuring. Matthew describes how people came from far away in order to be blessed by the miraculous power that was flowing out from the hands of Jesus (4:23-25). I imagine the scenery as in the clip above, but even better. Every single one got healed: those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed. Revival fires were blazing!
But when Jesus starts to preach, He doesn’t talk about “the anointing”, “open heavens”, “glory invasion” or some other Charismatic cliche. He talks about Kingdom lifestyle and holiness: doing good deeds, loving enemies, giving to the needy, fasting, praying, not storing treasures on earth, not judging people, doing to others what you would have them do to you, and so on. As I’ve written in a previous blog post, it is unfortunately unusal in many parts of the church today that faith healers speak about enemy love and denouncing wealth, or that Christian activists conduct healing crusades.
This is a shame, because I am convinced that not only does the Sermon on the Mount contain instructions for living an activist life that makes the world a better place, it is also a key for Charismatic breakthrough. Immediately after Jesus has delivered His sermon, He heals a guy with leprosy (8:1-4), then a paralyzed boy (vv. 5-13), and after that a whole group of sick and possessed people (vv. 14-17). Directly after stating that the Father will give us good gifts when we ask for it, He tells us to do to others as we would have them do to us (7:9-12). The gifts of the Spirit are given by grace, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive for holiness. On the contrary, if we do not act according to the commands of Jesus, our spiritual house may fall “with a great crash” (7:24-27).
Heidi and Rolland Baker live in the midst of revival in Mozambique and surrounding countries, where the blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor are empowered. In their book Always Enough, the first words you meet are: “I (Rolland) always wanted to believe and live the Sermon on the Mount”. In a later book called Compelled by Love, Heidi calls the Beatitudes “God’s recipe for revival”, and each of the nine chapters are named after a beatitude. She writes on page 151:
“We must choose to follow the Sermon on the Mount and act in a way that releases the Kingdom of God in every situation. We must choose to be peacemakers, to fight back only with more love and more forgiveness, and believe God is always good and knows how to Father His children.”
Do you want to see more miracles? Do you want to open blind eyes, raise the dead and lead multitudes to Christ? Then what you need to do is not only to listen to “anointed” preachers, go to prayer meetings or attend conferences. You need to live according to the Sermon on the Mount, doing good and loving your enemies. Peace and justice attract signs and wonders.
Yes! completely agree! You’ve inspired me to go back through the sermon on the mount this week. 🙂
Wow! I’m so blessed to hear that 🙂
Thanks Micael! Great article! I thought of some instances that back up your point. 🙂
In Acts 6:8-8:1 we see Stephen praying for his enemies while being stoned to death. Saul of Tarsus, the church’s greatest persecutor, was one of the people there that he was praying for. Saul later has a dramatic supernatural encounter and becomes the Apostle Paul. I fully believe Stephen’s selfless prayer while dying was a seed in Paul’s conversion.
The movie “End of the Spear” tells the true story of five missionaries reaching reaching out to the most violent tribe in Ecuador. All of them are killed, but they die loving their enemies, and this leads to a dramatic supernatural encounter which eventually leads to the whole tribe coming to Christ.
David Wilkerson’s loving words to the violent gang member, Nicky Cruz, who threatened his life, led to Nicky’s conversion which also was a precursor to the founding of the most successful “Spirit-filled” drug rehabilitation programs in the world and the largest church in New York.
Martin Luther King’s commitment to the peace teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, while advancing his cause, not only changed policies, but changed hearts and led to the greatest civil rights movement in history.
Black civil rights leader, Reverend Wade Watts’ kindness and good humor towards hateful, KKK leader, Johnny Lee Clary, opened the door for Johnny’s later conversion.
Most of those present in the early Azusa St revival came from the ‘holiness movement’ and were committed to the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
And here’s another quote from Heidi from the back cover of the book ‘Compelled By Love’.
“If God is not with us, we do not want to continue. If the Sermon on the Mount is simply impractical, our mission work is hopeless. We have no backup plan. We have nothing but Him” Heidi Baker
Thank you so much for giving all these examples, brother! Can I publish your comment as a guest post?
Of course you can bro! God bless! 🙂
[…] ← Revival on the Mount […]
I agree in essence, but do not believe that we are supposed to “denounce wealth.”
For instance, consider Paul’s words: “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
It is clear from this passage that there were wealthy members of this church, and Paul’s command to them was not to renounce their wealth, or repent for being rich. He said to:
-not be prideful about it
-be generous and do good works
-do not trust in it, but in God
Greed is certainly a sin, and there are many warnings about greed and the love of money. But that is not the same as wealth (there are many who are poor and greedy, and many who are rich and generous/compassionate). See my first two paragraphs in this article: http://www.jakekail.com/responding-truth/
Hi Jake! Thanks for your comment.
I’ve written a lot about this on my Swedish blog and I plan to write more about it here as well. I have started a bit at https://holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com/god-vs-wealth/
I was referring to when Jesus says that we should not store up treasures on earth but in Heaven. Treasures on earth clearly referes to wealth (see Jam 5:3. Thus we should get rid of earthly riches in order to get a treasure in Heaven. In fact, Jesus constantly refers to the treasures in Heaven when He tells people to sell all they have and give to the poor (Mt 19:21, Lk 12:33).
Now, Paul tells Timothy to tell the rich (whether they belong to the church or not is not stated) to get this treasure in Heaven through generosity and not putting trust in money. You seem to assume that it is possible to continue to be rich even if you are generous. Let me then ask you: if a poor man is starving, and a rich man knows it but keeps his money for himself, is the rich man generous? clearly not. But if the rich man gives as much as he can to the poor so that he doesn’t have anything but food and clothing left for himself. Is he then rich? No, but he is generous.
This is evident if we look at the verses right before those you are quoted. In verse 8 Paul says that we should be content with food and clothing, in verse 9 that we get into serious trouble if we want to be rich. Last time I checked, rich people aren’t content with food and clothing (since they own unnecessary stuff) and they surely want to be rich (that’s why they are rich).
If rich people started to be content with food and clothing, not wanting to be rich, became generous and did not put trust in money, I’d be the first to shout hallelujah. But I wouldn’t call those people rich anylonger.
God bless you!
I have several thoughts, but will stick to a few points, and try my best to keep it short.
Yes, it is possible to continue to be rich and be generous. Cornelius is a good example of this:
He was generous:
“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.” (Acts 10:1-2).
He was rich:
“And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually.” (Acts 10:7).
He also had a large enough house for the “many who had come together.” (Acts 10:27).
One of the problems with your position is that it is oversimplified, and does not consider case by case situations. As I stated before, it is possible to be poor and greedy, and possible to be rich and generous. The problem is not wealth, but greed.
Also, there are various reasons why some are either wealthy or poor. Some are wealthy because of greed. Others are wealthy because of hard work, and good stewardship (Cornelius seems to fit this description).
Some are poor because of injustice. Others are poor because of laziness. “The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.” (Proverbs 20:4)
When I look at the whole counsel of God’s Word, I cannot conclude that wealth in and of itself is a sin. I do have a problem with the “prosperity gospel” that focuses on material possessions and getting rich. And I believe we are to care for the poor. However, I do not think that you can make a scriptural case for the “wealth is always a sin” argument.
Questions for you: do you own anything besides food and clothing? How do you determine how much is too much? Is it OK to live in a house? Have a car? If so, what kind of car is OK and what is not OK? How do you determine what is “unnecessary stuff”? Why do you apply “on earth as it is in heaven” to healing but not prosperity?
Who did more to help the poor:
Person A: Inherits $25,000 and gives it all to the poor. He lives in poverty the rest of his life with no other way to help the poor.
Person B: Inherits $25,000 and invests it in a successful business and becomes wealthy. Over his lifetime he gives $1 million to the poor.
If poverty is the problem, it seems to me that Person A became a part of the problem, while Person B became a part of the solution.
I have no doubt that your heart is in the right place. I think that your love for the poor is amazing! I just think that it is not as simple as “wealth is sin” and all “rich people are evil.”
Thanks for your answer, Jake. As mentioned, I have written about this topic on https://holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com/god-vs-wealth/ Let me quote from there:
Can a Christian be rich? Well, that depends on how you define “rich”. If being rich means earning much money, it is neither good nor bad, because you can earn much money and still give it all away to the poor and the needy – and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if being rich means having much money, if it is to keep a lot of resources for one self and thereby not give it to the poor – then it is wrong.
We live in a world where 1,4 billion people live in extreme poverty, that is, on less than one dollar a day. The food produced on this planet is enough for 12 billion people – although 800 million go to bed hungry each night. Why? Because 20 % of the earth’s population consumes 80 % of the earth’s resources. We belong to that 20 percent. It is obvious that we cannot grab in the sand for resources to the poor while we sit on a lot of resources ourselves. God knows this, and the Bible is full of commandments that make it impossible for a Christian to be rich, that is, having more than necessary and thereby not giving to the poor although one is able to. The Bible says this is a sin:
“Be careful not to … show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.” (Deut 15:9)
“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. ” (Ezek 16:49)
It is therefore a sin not to give to the poor and to be overfed (other translations: “having abundant food”). If we have extra resources, we much share with those who have none. This is necessary if we want to repent from our sinful life, like John the Baptist said when he was asked what one must do if one want to repent:
“The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” (Luke 3:11)
According to the Bible, it is definitely wrong to have abundant food and extra resources. We shall be content with the most necessary, and not keep overflowing resources:
“But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” (1 Tim 6:8)
If being rich means having a lot of stuff that aren’t necessary: TV, summer house, CD:s, make up, ties… then no, a Christian cannot be rich. We shall be content with food and clothing, and if we have too much of that, we’ll share with those who don’t have food and clothing.
[End of quote]
I think you and I have different defenitions of being rich. You seem to define it as earning much money, I define it as owning much money. This is an important distinction. You talk about starting business, I talk about owning unnecessary stuff. Apart from the fact that Person A’s money may mulitply when the poor use them in their work, I agree that Person B’s business is not necessarily a problem as long as it is working with fair trade, not destroying the environment and paying good waged to the workers.
But what we have to concider is if Person B not only gives $1 million to the poor but also spends $10 000 on a diamond yacuzzi for his dog, is that OK? Isn’t that giving scrumbles from the overfow instead of giving everything you can (Lk 21:4)? I can never view such an act as generous in a world where 50 000 die each day because of poverty.
So I think we get off track if we try to “prove” that Cornelius owned wealth and at the same time was generous. We don’t know how many people were present nor if the size of the living room corralated with wealth somehow (most families were quite big in those days). And we’re still stuck with the problem: how could it be viewed as generous to have a way too big house when people are starving?
Anyhow, Cornelius wasn’t a Christian at that point, and since Christians had everything in common in the early days (not only in Jerusalem), he soon participated in the economic redistribution. 2 Cor 8:13-15 clearly says that it should be equal for all, no exceptions. Why should some people live in palaces while others are starving?
The fact that inequality creates suffering also falsifies the statement that only greed is the problem, not the amount of money. If a poor person is greedy, it doesn’t affect anyone. If a rich one is, many die and suffer without getting help. Rich people have more responsibility. Besides, I don’t think it’s greed to want food and clothing.
Speaking of food and clothing, I think you overlook that Bible passage in just asking me if I live according to it. The Greek words are a bit broader than the English translation, so that drink and shelter also should be included. These are the guidelines I stick too. Some people ask me why I then don’t sell my computer and give the money to the poor. But I have already given it to the poor, I serve the Lord with it. If I give the money to an aid organization they will use computers. It is a huge difference between blogging for the sake of the poor and buying suits and luxury. Again, I have written about this at https://holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com/god-vs-wealth/
God bless you!
I appreciate that we can have healthy dialogue on this topic. I don’t know that we will come to an agreement on this for now, so I will give a few final thoughts:
1.) I think that the context of 1 Timothy 6 is clear that he is referring to the church when he says “command those who are rich…” The letter is dealing with matters within the church, and nowhere do we see Paul making commands or demands of those outside the church. There were rich members in the early church, I don’t think that can be denied.
2.) About Cornelius: According to the Bible he was generous, it is clearly stated. And the fact that he had several household servants indicates he had wealth. Maybe he does not qualify as generous according to your standards, but God called him generous, regardless if he was a believer at the time or not.
3.) There is more than one way for wealth to be redistributed. For example, if a rich person decides to build a $1 Million home, it could be seen as selfish/extravagant. Why didn’t he distribute this money to the poor? But that money did not just evaporate…it WAS redistributed: to the architect, contractor, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, painters, etc…Many people were provided for because of the house being built. (I am not saying it was right or wrong to build the house, just using the example).
4.) Zachaeus gave half of his goods to the poor (Luke 19:8) and Jesus seemed very happy about this. To the rich young ruler, he demanded he give it all to the poor. For others, he did not make any demand like this. I think that many times this issue is a case by case basis, and a matter of heart.
Again, when I look at the whole of Scripture, I cannot agree with your stance on this. Neither can I agree with those who promote greed, or who cause people to go after riches in the name of the gospel. It seems to me that these are both errors on different sides.
This is where I am at on this for now…I am open to God showing me otherwise. The whole counsel of God’s Word is my standard for truth, and until I see it there I cannot agree with it.
God bless you in all you are doing for God’s kingdom, and in your efforts for both signs and wonders and peace and justice! I hope we can stay in touch.
Hi again, brother! Thank you for this discussion. I will give some quick response concerning my view on your points.
1. My remark was that we don’t know if the rich persons belong to the church since it is not stated (and I don’t believe Timothy never speaks to non-Christians). However, my main point was that these verses cannot be separated from 8-10, which shows that biblical generosity creates simplicity. So when rich persons joined the church, they were told to be content with food and clothing.
2. I am not questioning that God calls Cornelius generous, I question that you call him rich. We do not know how big his house was or what wage his servants got. Again, both you and I agree upon that you can be a righteous businessman as a Christian. Missionaries for example that hire people aren’t sinning as long as they give good wages and working conditions. However, if they start to buy unnecessary products instead of helping the poor, they are sinning according to 1 John 3:17.
3. The problem with that logic is that while you create job oppurtunities for those who build mansions for the rich, you neglect those who build shelters for the poor. If you instead invest that $1 million in building 100 houses for the homeless in Rio de Janeiro, probably even more job oppurtunities will be provided, and the result will be improved lives for the poor instead of a luxury house for the rich.
4. Zacheus did not only give half his capital to the poor, he repayed four times the amount that he had tricked from people. It is hard to speculate what he had left. But we do know that he participated in the community of goods in Acts 2, since every believer did that, not just some. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus did not only say “sell everything” to one rich guy but to all his disciples (Lk 12:33). I am convinced that this is how we should live today, like the Jesus Army in the UK: https://holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/community-of-goods-at-the-modern-jesus-army/
God bless you and your ministry!