Bribing And Manipulating God


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Attempting to bribe God


2 Corinthians 9:6-11 reveals that God promises to give earthly blessings to generous givers. God will give earthly blessings in His time, way and measure. These blessings are not fully merited rewards which according to His perfect justice, God would be indebted to pay immediately to anyone who perfectly obeyed all His love and other commands every moment of every day.

But note in Deuteronomy 10:17, God warns He will not be bribed into doing anything for anyone: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.” Some Christians give tithes and offerings like bribes, trying to manipulate God into giving them enormous riches in return. They do not trust Him to prosper them according to the degree He knows best in His timing.

Acts 8:18-22 records Simon was severely rebuked for sinfully trying to buy God’s power for his own benefit: “Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit’. But Peter said to him, ‘Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness…”

Too many modern Christians use the concept of giving in the way the pagan Roman Governor Felix desired Paul to use it in Acts 24:26: “Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.” Felix wanted Paul to give him a gift which would buy Paul’s freedom. Such giving would not be done out of love towards Felix, but instead would be a bribe. Much giving by Christians is not based on love for God, but involves trying to bribe Him for selfish motives.


Jacob’s ignorant bargaining


Genesis 28:20-22 records: “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

Note Jacob’s words here reveal his lack of understanding of the Abrahamic Covenant. Jacob did not grasp the undeserved grace promises which God made to Abraham and his descendants. These promises are recorded in Genesis 12:2: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing” and Genesis 22:17: “in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.”

Genesis 28:20-22 shows Jacob thought he had to bargain selfishly with God in order to manipulate God into giving him earthly blessings as totally merited rewards. At this stage, Jacob did not understand God’s awesome grace promised to him through the Abrahamic Covenant.

Jacob tried to bargain with God in a similar manner to how he had bargained with Esau in order selfishly to obtain Esau’s birthright (see Genesis 25:29-34). Jacob here treated God like pagans did with their idols. The pagans tried to buy earthly blessings from their so-called “gods” by giving or bribing them with sacrificial gifts and offerings. As stated earlier in Deuteronomy 10:17, God stressed no one can bribe Him with gifts.

In Jacob’s dealings with people, he frequently used gifts to try to bribe and manipulate them. His mother Rebekah taught him to give his father savoury food and bread to try and manipulate the latter into blessing him (see Genesis 27:5-17). Through giving his brother Esau a gift, Jacob tried to bribe him into not harming him. Genesis 32:13-15 and 20 says: “So he lodged there that same night, and took what came to his hand as a present for Esau his brother: two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milk camels with their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten foals…For he said, ‘I will appease him with the present that goes before me and afterward I will see his face; perhaps he will accept me.’”

In order to try to manipulate the unknown Egyptian ruler, who was really his son Joseph, Jacob (Israel) sent him a bribe. Genesis 43:11-12 records: “And their father Israel said to them, ‘If it must be so, then do this: Take some of the best fruits of the land in your vessels and carry down a present for the man – a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. Take double money in your hand, and take back in your hand the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks…’”

God blessed Jacob out of unmerited grace, despite Jacob’s attempt to manipulate Him. God was faithful to His covenant promises to Abraham. God did not give earthly blessings to Jacob because of his manipulative giving, but because of God’s absolute faithfulness to His covenant grace promises to Abraham.

Another indication of how God partly ignored Jacob’s childish bargaining is the fact God gave Jacob by undeserved grace far more than the mere bread and clothing Jacob asked for in return for following Him and giving to Him. God gave Jacob many children (see Genesis 29:31-30:24), large flocks, female and male servants, camels and donkeys (see Genesis 30:43). Genesis 30:43 records God gave Jacob exceeding prosperity.

In a figurative sense, God gave Jacob a pat on the head and said, “Yes, Yes, I understand.” and ignored his childish bargaining and blessed him by undeserved grace.

It was only years later after many dealings by God that Jacob understood God blessed him from totally undeserved grace and not as a totally deserved reward for his giving or anything else. Genesis 32:9-12 shows this: “Then Jacob said, ‘O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, Return to your country and to your kindred, and I will deal well with you: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children, for You said, I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude’.” Genesis 33:5 and 33:11 also record Jacob’s new revelation of God’s undeserved grace.

Do not believe the naïve idea that every action of every person of faith recorded in the Bible was approved of by God! Note Noah became drunk. Sarah lied to God. Lot became drunk and had sex with his two daughters. Abraham told half-truths. Rebekah encouraged Jacob to deceive his father. Rachel stole her father’s pagan household gods. Jacob favoured Joseph and Benjamin and treated his other sons badly. David committed murder and adultery. See Genesis 9:21, 18:15, 19:30-38, 20:1-13, 27:5-17, 31:19, 37:3-4 and 2 Samuel 11:1-27 for details.

These examples show why we must be very careful not to teach that we must copy all of the actions of every person of faith recorded in the Word of God. This includes Jacob’s ignorant bargaining with God.


Pharisaic giving


In Christ's time, some or many of the Jews and Pharisees were under the illusion that they could totally merit or deserve God’s spiritual and earthly blessings through their giving, fasting and other good works. Jesus referred to this in Luke 18:9-12: “Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’”

The Pharisee above thought that because of his tithing, fasting and other good works, he was continuously meriting the maintenance of a righteous standing before God according to the Mosaic Law.

Remember the Mosaic Law promises great earthly rewards to those who obey all its commands perfectly each day (see Leviticus 26:1-13 and Deuteronomy 28:1-14). But note Jesus condemned the above Pharisee. Christ judged the Pharisee in this way because the Pharisee had presumed to try to totally deserve the maintenance of this righteous legal standing and the receiving of the earthly blessings of the Mosaic Covenant through his imperfect obedience to the Law. No fallen human being, including this Pharisee, has ever perfectly obeyed the Mosaic Law every moment of every day like Christ had. Therefore only Christ and not the Pharisee fully deserved the earthly rewards of the Mosaic Covenant.

Compare this to Jesus’ praise of the publican who did not expect to be justified and blessed in his earthly life by God on the basis of merits earned by tithing and other good works. The publican called on God’s unmerited mercy. Jesus said God would exalt the man who called on God’s undeserved mercy and not those like the Pharisee who expected to totally merit the maintenance of a righteous standing before God and the receiving of earthly rewards by God because of his giving and other good works.


The crucial importance of using good interpretation principles


We must be extremely careful when interpreting verses about giving to not add teachings to them which are contrary to other Bible verses. For example, Luke 12:33 says: “Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail…” 1 Timothy 6:18-19 states what rich believers should do: “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.” Matthew 6:1 declares: “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 19:21 records: “Jesus said to him, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven…’”

Matthew 25:34-40 says: “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to You, inasmuch as you did it to the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

If we interpreted these verses without considering their context and/or other verses on the same topic, we could make the following unbiblical ridiculous conclusions:


·         We can merit eternal life through giving to the needy. Matthew 25:46 refers to those having eternal life and relates to the above-quoted Matthew 25:34-40. 1 Timothy 6:18 mentions giving to the needy and 1 Timothy 6:19 refers to eternal life.

·         We must sell everything we own and give it all away to the poor. Luke 12:33 and Matthew 19:21 quoted above mention this. So does Mark 10:21. Note the New American Standard Bible translates “sell whatever you have and give to the poor” as “sell all you possess, and give to the poor”.


It is amazing that many of the same people who will insist the above passages must be interpreted in context and in agreement with other verses on the same topic, will not adopt the same good interpretation principles when talking about other Biblical verses referring to giving to God and to others.


Bartleman on Evan Roberts, Wales and revival


Frank Bartleman was a participant in the mighty Azuza Street Pentecostal outpouring occurring in Los Angeles from 1906 to 1909. Bartleman records some things that Evan Roberts, one of the leaders of the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905 wrote to him. Roberts wrote: “Loughor, Wales, Nov 14. ’05. My dear comrade. We had a mighty downpouring of the Holy Spirit last Saturday night. This was preceded by the correcting of the people’s views of true worship. [1]

1.         To give unto God, not to receive. 2. To please God, not to please ourselves. Therefore looking to God, and forgetting the enemy, and also the fear of men, we prayed, and the Spirit descended.”

This is old Biblical Holy Spirit-power-anointed Pentecostal way. It involves giving all to God because we love Him so much and are so thankful for all His undeserved kindnesses and grace towards us. It is different from the recent more self-centred legalistic approach of giving to God with a primary aim of trying to receive God’s blessings as fully merited rewards in return.


Modern ignorant unbiblical teachings


One of the great tragedies of recent years has been the spread of various legalistic meriting teachings among some parts of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. For example, recently I listened to a tape of a popular American speaker who sometimes teaches some good things. On this tape, this person quoted Proverbs 18:16, 19:6 and 21:14, and the Biblical examples of the wise man giving to Christ as a baby, Cornelius giving to the poor, the Roman centurion giving to the Israelites, the Queen of Sheba giving to Solomon, Abraham’s servant giving to Rebekah’s family and so on to supposedly prove we can totally merit or earn various things from God.

When referring to Matthew 2:11, this teacher said “The wise men brought gifts. Is that true? They brought gold, frankincense and myrrah. Did it make room for them? Did it bring them before the greatest Man of all? Yes. And did they go home safely? Yes. But would they have gotten in if they had not brought gifts? I do not believe they would.”

This is unbiblical nonsense. In Luke 2:8-17, as a totally unmerited free gift, God miraculously instructed some shepherds to go to see Jesus just after He was born. God did not once command the shepherds to take gifts to Christ. The real principles which Christ operates on are found in Romans 8:32: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

When referring to Cornelius in Acts 10 and the Roman centurion in Luke 7, the preacher said, “He was a giver of gifts. And what happens to his gifts? Peter shows up on his front doorstep and the whole crowd gets baptized in the Holy Ghost? Why? If he had not done that, would he have had that open door? It made room for him. It brought all of us in too and it brought him before great men. Peter came in to his living room and preached to him. Look at the centurion. He is in Luke 7:4-5. He had a servant who was suffering terribly. So he comes and they talk to Jesus. They say, ‘Jesus, this man, he loves us. He gives to our nation. He helps build synagogues. And said he is very very very good to us.’ And Jesus says to him, ‘I’ll go and heal your servant.’ And the centurion said, ‘ No, no, no, don’t go! Just speak the Word and my servant will be healed.’ And his servant was healed. But was the man a giver of gifts? Come on! Was he a giver of gifts? That’s what the Bible says. But if he had not, now let us just think about this, if he had not been a giver of gifts and his servant was sick. You say that is manipulating God. I think it is honouring God.”

But note Cornelius did not through giving gifts totally merit God baptising him, his family and friends in the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a totally free gift and not a totally merited reward for the good works of giving (see Acts 2:38 and 10:45).

Also note the Roman centurion approached Christ on the basis of how unworthy he was of Christ performing a miracle for him. Luke 7:6-7 records the centurion said to Jesus: “Lord…I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof. Therefore I did not even think myself worthy to come to You.” The centurion did not believe his generous giving or other good works totally merited Jesus’ miraculous help. Luke 7:4-5 records it was the legalistic Jews who suggested that the centurion merited or deserved Jesus’ help on the basis of the centurion’s giving and other good works.

The same preacher used the example of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon being generous to each other as supposed further proof of these teachings about giving to God. This preacher said 1 Kings 10:1-13 records that after the Queen of Sheba gave great gifts to Solomon, he gave her all she desired and whatever she asked. 1 Kings 10:13 says: “And King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired, whatever she asked, besides what Solomon had given her according to the royal bounty…”

But note 1 Kings 10:1-13 does not compare Solomon’s responses to the Queen of Sheba’s giving, to God’s responses to the giving of people. Solomon was not God. He made numerous errors. In the next Chapter – 1 Kings 11 – we see Solomon sinned by marrying hundreds of foreign pagan women, by compromising with their false religions and by turning away from the Lord. Solomon did not have the perfect love and grace God has. So his responses to those who gave him gifts cannot be compared to God’s responses to those who give to Him.

The danger of comparing the giving of Solomon to others and others to him, to God’s responses to the giving of others, can be seen in 1 Kings 9:10-14. In these verses, we see that even though Solomon gave King Hiram poor gifts, Hiram still gave him one hundred and twenty talents of gold. This was the same amount of gold the Queen of Sheba gave Solomon.

The Scriptures do not compare the Queen of Sheba’s giving to Solomon and Solomon’s giving to Hiram, to our giving to God. So we have no God-inspired right to make this comparison either.

When commenting on the giving of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, the preacher said: “Her gift made room for her and brought her before great men and she knew that. Now you say, ‘Don’t you believe we should give to the poor?’ Absolutely, absolutely I believe we should give to the poor. But I believe there are times when we should give to the rich too. Because when you give to the poor, God will bless you. But when you give to the rich, God causes the rich to bless you.” Here is another example of giving gifts with the primary aim of manipulating the receivers into giving to us in return.

Note Jesus’ words in Luke 6:33-35 teach a different type of heart attitude to giving than the above selfish manipulation: “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.”

In Luke 6:33-36, Jesus teaches if we give to needy people primarily so we can be repaid by them in a greater or at least equal measure, we are not acting as sons of the Most High. We are acting contrary to God’s nature when we give to needy people and needy ministries primarily with the intention of receiving greater earthly financial and material benefits in return.[2]

The New Testament concept of mercy relates to being compassionate towards those in need. Luke 6:36 commands us to be merciful or compassionate like God is. In Luke 6:34-36, God promises to reward those who are generous givers to others. But unless we give to others out of unselfish love and not out of a thought of receiving back, we are operating out of a worldly religious heart instead of being motivated by the Holy Spirit.

Also note in Acts 20:35, Paul said Jesus taught: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”


More legalistic bondage


Commenting on Proverbs 18:16, 19:6 and 21:14, the previously mentioned preacher said, “So it talks about gifts making room, gifts taking away wrath and how gifts bless you with people. Gifts can make friends for you. Now you know when you first read that you think, ‘Now wait a minute! A bribe and giving gifts: that’s manipulation.’ But you know God gave his greatest gift to us. And it made room for Him and it brought great men into the Kingdom. Amen! ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…’ God gave His gift. And if He had not given that gift, there would be no room for you tonight and no room for me tonight…There is power in a gift. Now put your hand back on your heart and say, ‘I won’t forget a gift has power…’ This is frankly a new revelation for me.”

But such teaching is that of a Biblical dinosaur. This is because Jesus’ death was not a manipulative bribe which God gave to the human race. His death instead:


·         was an act of God’s love (see John 3:16 and Romans 5:8).

·         was an expression of His totally undeserved grace or kindness and mercy (see Hebrews 2:9).

·         was a payment He made as our substitute to God’s perfect justice and holiness which demanded punishment because of our sins (see Isaiah 53:4-12, Mark 10:45, Ephesians 5:2 and Colossians 2:13-14).

·         was an act of obedience to the Father (see Romans 5:19, Philippians 2:8 and Hebrews 5:8).

·         brought great honour to God in that it revealed what a wonderful character He has.

·         set a tremendous example to us as believers of how we should submit everything about ourselves to God (see 1 Peter 2:21-24).


The idea Jesus’ death was a manipulative bribe given to the human race is similar to what Satan accused God of in Job’s time. Satan implied God bribed Job into serving God by blessing and protecting him (see Job 1:9-11).

Let us examine the verses used by this teacher on this tape to justify giving gifts as bribes to try to totally merit God’s blessings and miracles. Proverbs 21:14 states: “A gift in secret pacifies anger, and a bribe behind the back, strong wrath.” This verse is not teaching us to give bribes or gifts in secret to achieve our goals. The verse is recording the fact some people wrongly give bribes or secret gifts to manipulate others.

In Exodus 23:8, God commanded all Israelites to never accept bribes: “And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the discerning and perverts the words of the righteous.” In Deuteronomy 16:19 and Proverbs 17:23, God condemns the usage of bribes. Proverbs 17:23 says: “A wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back to pervert the ways of justice.”

Proverbs 15:27 praises those who hate bribes: “He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live.” Ecclesiastes 7:7 says: “a bribe debases the heart”. The word “bribe” in this verse is a form of the same Hebrew word for “gift” used in Proverbs 18:16, 19:6 and 21:14.

Proverbs 19:6 is another proof-text used by the teacher in question: “Many entreat the favor of the nobility, and every man is a friend to one who gives gifts.” This verse is stating a truth about the operations of human nature. People ask for the help of those in power. Also because of the selfishness of human nature, humans are attracted to those who give them what they want.

This American speaker also said Proverbs 18:16 teaches that if we give large sums of money away to various preachers, the poor, the rich or political leaders, God will open doors for us to have influence with great political leaders. Proverbs 18:16 declares: “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” But note this verse is not teaching that if I give say $10,000 to some well-known preacher, this will manipulate or bribe God into giving me influence among the great political leaders of the world. In Deuteronomy 10:17, God says He never accepts any bribe or manipulative gift from any human: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe.”

Note again! God says He “shows no partiality NOR TAKES A BRIBE.”

The American teacher said the gift in Proverbs 18:16 refers to gifts we give to others. But this verse probably instead refers to the gifts God gives us. Numbers 18:6 refers to the ministry of the priesthood as being a gift of God. The word “gift” in Numbers 18:6 and 7 is “mattana” in Hebrew and is the feminine form of the word “gift” used in Proverbs 18:16.

The other alternative is that Proverbs 18:16 is recording the fact that in ancient times those who brought large gifts to give to kings – pagan and otherwise – were permitted to have audience with these kings. The verse recorded what happens and not what God commands us to do.


Be careful not to misinterpret verses in Proverbs


I will give you another example of how we need to interpret individual verses in Proverbs with great care. As stated before, Proverbs 21:14 states, “A gift in secret pacifies anger”. If we use the poor Biblical interpretation principles many legalists use, we can say this verse teaches if I give gifts to my local church or to travelling ministries or to the poor, this will result in God no longer being angry about my sins. In other words, by giving I can legalistically merit the propitiating or pacifying of God’s anger.


Using testimonies of miracles to try to justify unbiblical errors


To try to justify these legalistic teachings and practices, this preacher gave testimony after testimony of God supposedly supporting such legalism by Him opening doors and performing miracles and healings. This person gave many examples of gifts being given to political leaders in overseas countries so that the preacher could hold crusades in those countries.

Such “gifts” are often given to politicians and government officials in many poorer countries. Bribes or tips to those in power are part of the corruption of such countries. The bribes are given to manipulate those with power into giving what the givers desire. In these countries, the givers do not give such bribes out of love or generosity. Instead they give with ulterior motives, wishing to use the receivers for their own purposes.

I remember being in Egypt in 1982 and being told by government railway ticket sellers that they had no tickets left for a particular train. But then an Egyptian told me we could obtain tickets if we gave an extra “gift” or bribe to the ticket sellers. Similarly, when we visited a pyramid far out of Cairo and a museum in Cairo, the police at both places actually asked us for bribes in payment for them giving us certain special privileges.

God is extremely gracious and merciful. He loves all people. So He will often still try to minister to people about His Son Jesus Christ even when some of His preachers are teaching unbiblical ideas and doing things contrary to the Scriptures.

In Philippians 1:15-18, Paul referred to those who preach about Jesus Christ from wrong motives: “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” Note Paul said he rejoiced even when others preached Christ from wrong motives.

In the history of the Church, God has saved people through the ministry of some of those who have preached false doctrines and practiced various wrongs. For example, God saved people through the preaching of Augustine of Hippo. This is even through he taught we should adore or venerate Mary and the Saints.

God has saved many through the preaching of those who do not believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God in all its verses and that miracles ceased from the time of the Apostles. The Lord has even brought some to Himself through the preaching of church leaders and the witnessing of Christians who have backslidden into adultery, homosexuality, drug-taking, drunkenness and so on.

But note the above glorious conversions are acts of God’s pure love and grace. These wonderful salvations do not mean God approves of the abovementioned false teachings and wrongs of the preachers and witnessing backsliders.

Similarly, just because God performed miracles and saved some people at the crusades of preachers who give bribes to open their own doors in ministry, does not mean God approves of such things. In such cases, God works not because of but in spite of the errors of these preachers.


Giving from love or selfish manipulation


I believe in giving to the needy as an accompaniment to the preaching of the Gospel. But I do not believe in doing this as some type of a clinical religious technique. In 1 Corinthians 13:3, Paul said: “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor…but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” (N.A.S.B.) Gifts given with wrong motives will still profit those poor people who receive them. But this type of giving will do harm to the bribers’ character and intimacy with the Lord.

We should be generous with our neighbours, family, friends and the poor to provide for their real needs. But we must do this because of God-inspired love. Such love is a wonderful manifestation of His heart reaching out to unsaved people.

Giving without true love, however, becomes a form of selfish manipulation which many worldly people practice regularly. How many times have you been repulsed by companies who offer you “free” gifts and special bonuses, only to find out later they were using these things to try to take advantage of you?

God being very gracious to ignorant believers


Many believers who wrongly imagine they are totally meriting the earthly rewards of the Mosaic Covenant and Law by their giving to God and to others, are fortunate He is so merciful and gracious. They blindly imagine they totally merit these earthly rewards like Christ did through His perfect obedience.

Because God is aware of their great ignorance, He often still gives them earthly material blessings by His wonderful grace. This is even though He knows they wrongly think He is blessing them in these ways as some type of totally deserved reward.

This is similar to how God graciously performs miracles for Catholic and Orthodox Charismatics even though they ignorantly think God wants them to pray to Mary and Saints and sometimes imagine God is rewarding them for doing the latter.

Leah is an example of someone to whom God gave earthly blessings by His undeserved grace despite her believing these blessings were totally deserved rewards (see Genesis 30:14-20).

Genesis 30:14-20 reveals Leah gave mandrakes to her sister Rachel, Jacob’s favoured wife so Leah could have sexual intercourse with him. Verse 17 shows God answered Leah’s prayer and gave her another son through this intercourse with her husband.

In verse 18, Leah said God had given her this son as “wages”. In the original Hebrew, the word “wages” here is “sakar” which means “hire, wages”. [3] Leah ignorantly thought because she had previously given her maid Zilpah to Jacob as a wife to bear children by (see Genesis 30:9-13), that God owed her a reward. Leah thought she totally deserved a payment by God for what she had done.

Note in Genesis 30:16, Leah said to Jacob she had hired him by paying Rachel the mandrakes. In the original Hebrew, the word “hired” here is the verb “sakar” from which the noun “sakar”, used by Leah in verse 18, is derived. Leah seemed to think that because she had earned sexual intercourse with Jacob as a reward or wage, she could earn totally deserved rewards from God in a similar way.

Leah did not understand God was blessing her with children because of His undeserved grace promises to Abraham in Genesis 15:4-5 and 17:4-6. She did not realize she was under the totally gracious Abrahamic Covenant and not under a totally deserved rewards covenant.[4]


Repeating past legalistic errors and bondage


This is not the first time in the history of the Church that some preachers have wrongly used verses in Proverbs and other parts of the Bible in support of legalistic forms of giving. In his Treatise 8 “On Works and Alms”, Cyprian, the Bishop of Carthage between 249-258 A.D., taught that giving to the poor or almsgiving accompanied by other good works merits for us cleansing from sin, salvation from death and the pacifying or propitiating of God’s anger against our sins: “The remedies for propitiating God are given in the words of God Himself; the divine instructions have taught what sinners ought to do, that by works of righteousness God is satisfied, that with the deserts of mercy sins are cleansed…Raphael, the angel also witnesses the like, and exhorts that alms should be freely and liberally bestowed, saying, ‘ prayer is good, with fasting and alms; because alms  doth deliver from death, and it purgeth away sins.’ He shows that our prayers and fastings are of less avail, unless they are aided by almsgiving; that entreaties alone are of little force to obtain what they seek, unless they be made sufficient by the addition of deeds and good works. The angel reveals and manifests, and certifies that our petitions become efficacious by almsgiving, that life is redeemed from dangers by almsgiving, that souls are delivered from death by almsgiving.” [5]

Note Cyprian here quotes the Jewish apocryphal book of Tobit which is added to the Old Testament Scriptures by some Orthodox groups and the Roman Catholic Church. Tobit 12:9 makes the following dreadful legalistic claim: “For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin. Those who perform deeds of charity and of righteousness will have fulness of life.”

Bishop Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.) wrongly interpreted Jesus’ words in Luke 11:41 to mean we can merit the pardon of our sins partly on the basis of our giving to the poor and similar good works. In his “Enchiridion” (Chapter 72), Augustine said: “And thus there are many kind of alms, by giving of which we assist to procure the pardon of our sins.”


They claim prayer and giving are business propositions


Some churches have large offerings not because their people are so devoted to God, but because they relate to Him mainly on the selfish basis of giving large sums of money “to God” with the primary aim of trying to bribe Him to give far more in return. They treat God like a good stock-market investment. They do this because of a pitiful understanding of God’s character and His covenants.

An example of this money-centred business approach to running a church can be seen in the following misusage of Proverbs 13:20. This verse says: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” When commenting on this verse at a large Pentecostal pastor’s conference, one visiting leader said:

`“We need wise people. Get the most prosperous businessmen in your community. Have lunch with them a couple of times a month. Get the richest people in your environment. Meet with them a couple of times a year. Build relationships: the ones which click, the ones that have something, play golf with them, play racquet ball with them. Do whatever you can!…By the way you know when Jesus went into a town, He always went to the rich guy’s house. I know some of you think He was out sleeping in the ditch! But when He went into town, He went to Zaccheus and He said, ‘I’m having dinner at your house.’ And He went to Levi and said, ‘I’m having dinner at your house.’ And He went to the homes where they would gather the richest and all the most influential – the tax collectors, the publicans, the politicians and He would stay there because that’s where He could have relationships that would have impact.”

E.W. Kenyon has taught some good things in his writings. But he has also contributed to the spread of some very serious errors in the church. One of these errors is about prayer. He said, “This places prayer not only on a legal grounds, but makes it a business proposition. [6]

It is a dreadful error to treat the New Covenant like a business contract or an agreement between two equals under the law of a nation. The New Covenant is instead an undertaking or bond which God as Supreme Ruler has initiated and given to humans. In this Covenant, He promised or guaranteed to fulfil His plans for these under this covenant. God is the superior party in the New Covenant and humans are the inferior party. He has not negotiated an agreement with humans as though He and they are equals. God has set the terms and conditions of the New Covenant and then has given these to people. God’s covenants are not business contracts. The Greek word for “contract” is “syntheke”. Not once does the New Testament use the word “syntheke” for any of God’s covenants.


False worshippers trying to bribe God


Micah 6:1-8 records what the Lord spoke to the people of Israel about the carnal worldly type of ways in which they were worshipping Him. Micah 6:6-8 says: “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams or ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Here we see the Israelites thought that God would approve of them just through them being extremely generous in their giving of offerings to Him. They imagined that by giving thousands of animals and massive quantities of oil that they could bribe God into being pleased with them.

At that time, most of the political and religious leaders of Israel could be bribed through gifts. Micah 3:11 records: “Her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the Lord and say, ‘Is not the Lord among us? No harm can come upon us.’” Because these leaders could be bought with money and other gifts, they imagined God could be bribed by gifts also. This verse shows that these people thought they had faith in God and that the Lord’s Presence was pleased to dwell among them. But God was not pleased with these money-hungry people.

As Micah 6:8 reveals, God wanted these Israelites to walk humbly with Him, to love lovingkindness and to live righteous lives. In Hebrew, the word “mercy” in verse 8 is “hesed” which means “kindness, lovingkindness, mercy”. [7]

False worshippers are willing to give plenty of money and anything else to God, as long as they can avoid surrendering themselves to Him and turning from their known sins.


An example of bribing teaching bringing poverty and misery


I receive many letters from believers in Third-World countries because of my books. The below letter is one of the saddest, revealing how some modern-day manipulating ministries are “devouring widows’ houses” similarly to how the Pharisees did (see Matthew 23:14):

“My name is Thembelani Z… I am a South African. I am the ninth born child of Mr Z… and the late Mrs Z… I was born on July 11th 1966. My father was a teacher, I mean a principal in one of our schools here, and my mother was a sister in the nursing fraternity. Both accepted Jesus in the late 60’s. In 1972 my father read the magazines, authored by Andy Smith who was an evangelist then. In those magazines there appeared his autobiography. My father became so interested to these magazines. Hence he decided to subscribe so as to get more data about the man of God. More magazines and lectures were sent to my father. My father resigned as a principal so as to focus on the material he received. He also resigned as a member of his church called – Assemblies of God, and became the full member of Andy Smith Ministries. He started to send out his tithes and offerings. He influenced my mother and eventually he defeated her. Both of them were out of work, and no longer members of AOG Church.

There was a rumour that the other reason why they decided to abandon work and their church was their invitation from the S… family. We were also crazy by the notion that we were about to leave South Africa to U.S.A.

Mr Andy Smith died. His son Dave Smith succeeded his father. Dave Smith became my father’s hero too. Reverend Dave Smith told my father that giving is the key to prosperity. He told my father to donate money to his ministry monthly, so as to help his expensive project called, ‘Feed my People’. He also said that an offering must be accompanied by a request, or vice versa, that means, no offering, no answer to my father’s request. He kept on promising my father that he will be very rich provided he is faithful in sending monthly offering to his ministry. My father sold some of his possessions so as to meet that commandment from Reverend Dave Smith.

In the mid 80s, Reverend Dave Smith sent anointed objects claiming that if my father sent him a money donation, God will work through the anointed oil, cloth (red), sponges. They are still available here at home. On 22nd June 1989, my mother died peacefully, but without receiving even R1.00 from Dave Smith’s ministry or elsewhere. Before she died, they were receiving old age pensions each approx. R860.00 quarterly.

Recently, Reverend Dave Smith told my father to donate all that money which he receives quarterly to him until the Second Advent of Jesus Christ, then in return he told him to list all the things he needs. My father responded positive to that command. Reverend’s son told him to wait for a period of 21 days before God grant him (my father) abundant blessings. This is the 3rd month, no sign of a financial blessing to my father unless the R860.00 quarterly, that came from my father to the U.S.A. – son’s ministry. The reason why I tell you this is because of what I’ve read from your book – Dreams and Visions especially pages 7, 26-30. After reading those chapters I cried bitterly.” (Names are abbreviated and/or changed to protect the identities of those involved.)

Note my book “Dreams and Visions” challenged the sinful nature of various teachings and practices in relation to obtaining money offerings. Such teachings and practices are corrupted amended versions of the Biblical teachings on money, giving, receiving and miracles. These twisted teachings and practices can be called the Manipulating Bribing Cult.


The cultic Universal Church of the Kingdom of God


I will give you an example of how commercialised and cultic that religious attitudes to God’s miracles and money can become. Satan has raised up a cultic pseudo-Christian church in Brazil called the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. This group focuses mainly on money and manipulating God for the purposes of self. It is an attempt to marry some of the superstitious practices of the enormous number of occult and spiritualist groups in Brazil with Pentecostalism.

The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God has built a very large statue of Goliath. They sell stones at $5 (U.S.) each which are to be thrown at the statue. Followers are taught that when they throw these stones in so-called “faith”, this will force God to remove any “Goliaths” or problems in their lives.

Also, each of these local cultic churches have “tunnels of blessing”. Followers pay to go through these tunnels, believing this will force God into prospering them greatly. As a result of such fund-raising techniques, this cultic “Church” has become exceedingly wealthy.

Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches must avoid imitating Satan-inspired cults like this group.



A modern tragedy


One of the greatest tragedies of the present era is that numerous American ministries who preach legalistic unbiblical attitudes to giving, have infiltrated too many well-established good Pentecostal and Charismatic groups in poorer countries by giving them large donations of money. These Pentecostal and Charismatic groups have usually brought multitudes to the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit. But because many of their members only have modest incomes, they are tempted by the promises of large donations from these wealthy American preachers. There is almost always a cost for receiving such “gifts”. The American preachers usually expect their books, tapes and personal ministry to be given many opportunities for expansion in the Pentecostal and Charismatic groups who receive these gifts or should we say “bribes”.





[1] Frank Bartleman, “Azuza Street”, Bridge Publishing, S. Plainfield, New Jersey, 1980, page 33.

[2] Incidentally, Luke 6:33-36 is not saying it is wrong to loan our money to banks, other financial institutions or wealthy individuals in order to earn interest. Also, these verses are not teaching we should donate our money to wealthy banks or rich individuals and expect nothing in return. Instead, Luke 6:33-36 is referring to giving to the needy – needy individuals, families, groups or ministries.

[3] Brown, Driver and Briggs, page 969.

[4]  In Genesis 30:20, Leah said God had given her a good endowment in relation to her conceiving sons. In the original Hebrew, the word “endowment” is “zebed” which means “endowment, gift” (Brown, Driver and Briggs, page 256) or “gift, dowry” (Wilson, page 133). The King James Version translates “zebed” as “dowry”. The New American Standard Bible translates it as “gift”. The Amplified Bible suggests “zebed” means “marriage gift (for my husband)”. The Amplified has many weaknesses as a translation. But in the context of Leah saying that as a result of God giving her six sons, her husband would now properly dwell with her, the Amplified’s “marriage gift” and the King James’ “dowry” seem closer to the mark. Leah felt she could earn her husband’s love, devotion and attention through giving him the dowry of six sons. This fits in with her philosophy of earning things for those with whom she was in relationship.

[5] Cyprian, Treatise 8, 5.

[6] E.W. Kenyon, “The Wonderful Name of Jesus”, Kenyon’s Publishing Society, page       .

[7] Harris, Archer and Waltke, page 305.

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