Ephesians 6:13-14

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, TO STAND. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about WITH TRUTH, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.

* * * * *

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Conclusions I've come to about Faith Promise

Note: The following article I wrote for my Confederate Baptist Blog. I could not resist posting it here as well, knowing full well some folks will get down right angry when they read it. That's okay with me! I firmly believe what's written must be read and must be addressed. Too many Independent Baptists are plunging headfirst into apostasy, and NOBODY seems to be saying anything. If no one else will, I'll speak up! What do I have to lose? Besides, I challenge you to read this and then look at the scriptures and see if what I've written isn't true. The fact is, too many Independent Baptists are following BAPTIST TRADITIONS instead of BIBLE TEACHINGS. These things ought not so to be!

CONCLUSIONS I'VE COME TO ABOUT THIS MODERN TEACHING OF FAITH PROMISE

For years I’ve heard of this new modern teaching in FIB (Fundamentalist Independent Baptist) circles called "Faith Promise." I never was for or against it, thinking it was helping Missions, so it must be okay. But as I went to Mission Conferences, met and talked with various Pastors, and saw firsthand some of the fruits of Faith Promise, I began to wonder whether or not it was right. It wasn’t until I talked to several other brothers in Christ that the question came up if Faith Promise was even Biblical, for as I studied it, many of the verses men used to preach Faith Promise were taken out of context. (They would always use the same few verses in different passages without reading or preaching the entire context).

As a Pentecostal before I was saved, I also had some insight into the Faith Promise Giving Plan when I learned of the premise and saw how men preached it. They would say, “You are to give not of what you have rather of what you do not have. You are to believe God to give it to you so you can give it!

This sounded to me a lot like the “Faith” healers I used to follow in days of old (before I realized they were all a sham to milk people of their money). And, I viewed first hand in FIB circles that when a church's faith promise program didn’t reach its annual goal, the Pastors blamed their congregations, saying, “It’s all your fault, you just didn’t have enough faith!” This sounded sooooooooooo much to me like what I was taught in the Charismatic church. When I wasn’t healed, or when I didn’t get what I prayed for, or I didn’t “prosper” it was always MY fault and it was always because I had a “lack of faith.” My faithlessness kept me from getting or doing what I was supposed to, and that made me feel horrible!

I would examine myself and my life and agonize over what I could do to find more faith. But the more I pondered and prayed, the more I found I had a ton of faith, but things just didn’t go the way I wanted them to. (I learned later that God is not a money tree and he doesn’t just give you “stuff” because you ask for it. Sometimes, God wants you to be poor so you’ll rely on him more!)

Looking back at before I was saved, and comparing that with this modern “Faith Promise Giving Program” being taught in FIB circles today, I began to question it, because it looked to me that the Independent Baptists were starting to teach just like the Charismatics on the subject of money, saying things like:

“You’ve got to believe God will give you the money you pledge to give even before you have it!

The more you pledge to give to God, the more you will receive and the more you will be blessed!”

You have to give to God and have faith to believe God will bless you if you do.”

It almost got to the point where I started looking around for the video cameras, thinking I was on the set of a “Twilight Zone” episode; for many things I heard preached in FIB churches about Faith Promise were the same things I heard in my old Assembly of God Pentecostal Church, or were the same things I saw preached by many “Tel-evangelists” on the television. It all focused on “my faith to give to God” and I was always promised a blessing because of it. In short, it lined up entirely with the modern Charismatic “Prosperity Gospel,” which so many FIB ministers claim they preach against. (Could it be they apostasized and didn't even know it?)

As I studied the growth of the Faith Promise movement in FIB circles and the men who preached it, I learned just how intertwined it was with the subject of Missions. Often Mission Conferences were nothing more than Faith Promise Conferences and the focus was changed from that of the Gospel and winning souls at home to raising money only to win souls abroad. So closely Faith Promise became interconnected to soul-winning, that to ask questions about it would lead to Pastors dogmatically labelling you as a "Dissenter" and "someone who didn’t love souls."

So I admit. I kept quiet about it. Cause I didn’t want people to think I was against Missions and soul-winning!

I’m still not against missions and soul-winning, but as I studied the Faith Promise teaching, which many churches are now putting into their doctrinal statements and are claiming is now an official FIB doctrine in which all others must adhere to be part of their fellowship, I came to some interesting conclusions. And knowing very well that I run the risk of being “ostracized” by others FIBer’s, I’ve now decided to speak out on the subject, because it appears Faith Promise is quickly becoming a Baptist Tradition rather than a Bible Teaching. And I would challenge anyone to do what I have done. Study it out! Look at it’s foundations, it’s message, and it’s fruit and then you tell me if it’s Biblical. If it is, PRACTICE IT! If it’s not, then why not use a better method to raise funds for Missions!

I've studied it and below are some things I've found. I'm still studying it, and I hope you will to.

1. Faith Promise's Foundations are not in the Bible.

As you study the fountain of the Faith Promise Giving Plan, you find it wasn't started by anyone in the Bible. Instead, it's more of a modern teaching. One site tells us, "...The Faith Promise Plan, as we know it, was developed in the late 1800s by Dr. A.B. Simpson, founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance."

If this be true, how can many modern FIBers claim Faith Promise is a Biblical teaching taught by the Apostle Paul? Wouldn't that be a FIB? (Sorry. But the pun was intended!)

2. Faith Promise Goes Against the scripture in trying to get people to give what they don't have.

The modern Faith Promise Giving movement teaches that a man must by an act of faith determine within himself an amount of money that he will pledge to give to God. This amount he is encouraged to give is an AMOUNT THAT HE DOES NOT HAVE! He, then, is supposed to promise to give God more than what he has. But, is this scriptural? As I read the Bible, I find the exact opposite. For there we find:

11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.

12 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. (2 Cor. 8:11-12)

Here we find the Apostle Paul commanding man to give, now watch this, as all I do is quote Paul: "ACCORDING TO THAT A MAN HATH, and NOT ACCORDING TO THAT HE HATH NOT!"

Did you catch that? For those of you who don't like the Old English, let me paraphrase, "You are supposed to give according to what you HAVE, not according to what you don't HAVE!"

To command the Saints of God, as Faith Promise teaches, to give what they don't have is contrary to the scriptures! We are only to give of what we have, (and then only what we are willing and ready to give). Wasn't it Jesus who spoke of the poor widow in Luke 21, who gave all that she HAD (Luke 21:4). She didn't give what she didn't have.

The teaching of Faith Promise is to encourage Christians to give tomorrow something that they don't yet have. Doesn't this violate the following scripture:

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. (Prov. 27:1)

How can we promise to give something if we don't even know if we will ever even get it? And then to say, "Well, just have faith you'll get it!" Doesn't that sound a bit Charistmatic to you rather than FIB?

3. Faith Promise twists the scriptures.

Modern teachers of the Faith Promise doctrine preach that it is for giving to Missions only. And they have plenty of verses to prove this. One such verse is 1 Cor. 16:2, which reads:

"Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."

Promoters of Faith Promise use this verse often. But if you check the context (vs 1) you find this is not an offering for Missions, rather for the poor saints in Jerusalem that were suffering. Where is "Missions" in this. Isn't this someone twisting the scriptures?

Again, Faith Promisers are quick to quote 2 Cor. 8:4-5, but these verses speak of a special "giving" to Paul to use for the "ministering unto the saints." It had nothing to do with sending money to Paul to reach the lost.

Is this, then, also not twisting the scriptures to teach what they do not?

Now, I'm not against Missions. Let me dogmatically state that! But isn't it wrong to twist scriptures to teach we should give to Missions? Shouldn't we just teach the scriptures as they stand? And shouldn't we give to Missions because we know it's the right thing to do?

4. Faith Promise constrains people to give to Missions.

Probably the most quoted verse to teach Faith Promise is 2 Cor. 9:7:

"Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."

But as I've seen this verse preached by advocates of Faith Promise, I've always seen at the end of the meeting ushers passing out "cards" in which people are commanded to fill out how much they are going to give. I've even heard pastors saying things like: "Faith Promise giving is a commandment of God!" and "You must make a decision on how much you will give to Faith Promise."

As I watched this, I sat and scratched my head. Is this not making Faith Promise giving of NECESSITY, something which this verse says should not be!

As I poured through the websites on the Internet and looked at church bulletins during Faith Promise conventions, I saw many of them dogmatically saying the same thing: "Faith Promise Giving is not a pledge!"

But then when those cards were passed around during the conference, most of them read: "This is your Faith Promise PLEDGE CARD." I thought to myself, "Am I the only one who sees the double speak here?"

And why does the Pastor need to know how much a person "pledges" to give anyhow? Shouldn't that be between the person and God? It's almost as if the Pastor's lack of FAITH in his congregation's giving, is what makes him want to know how much they'll give. So that's why he gets them to "by faith" promise to give more.

5. Faith Promise Makes Christians into LIARS!

As a Missionary Evangelist, I've traveled to many different churches, and I've heard the same thing time and again from Pastors who tell me they NEVER (and I repeat NEVER) get the full amount of money that has been "pledged" oh, er, um, I mean "promised," to Faith Missions Giving at the end of the year. This means someone LIED! For they made an agreement with God to give a certain amount and they didn't do it!

What does the Bible say about such as this? Well, you know there is an Old Testament verse that says:

When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. (Deut. 23:21)

Now, I know we are not in the Old Testament (thank God!) But this verse does tell us it's SIN to vow to pay God something, and then not pay it!

Again we read in Eccl. 5:4-5:

When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.

Here God calls a man a FOOL who doesn't follow through with his vow or his promise to God.

So what about those who vow to do Faith Promise and then don't follow through with it? I'm sure we'd all agree, it's sin for them to do so. But who's to blame? Couldn't some of the blame be the Pastor's for "pressuring" his congregation to make a VOW to give a certain amount, especially when he's encouraging them to give what they don't even have?! I'll let you answer that for yourself.

6. Faith promise browbeats the church

Having established the sound Biblical fact that it is indeed SIN to promise God something and then keep from doing or paying it, we find those who by faith promise to give a certian amount and then don't have lied to God. They have sinned.

Now the Pastor, knowing this, must spend his time and energy in his messages to tell the church they've done wrong in not giving what they have "pledged." (Sorry, I've used that word again, and Faith Promise disciples say "It's not a pledge!" So let me rephrase to use their terminology "PROMISE").

Oftentimes, Pastors spend message after message rebuking his congregation for not giving what they have "promised" to give to God, and guilt tripping them into giving more. (I've heard those messages time and again. Haven't you?).

I've even heard of a Pastor who followed Faith Promise, and how he was told by the well-known FP "evangelist" who came to preach it every year in his church that he would not receive the full amount of the "pledge cards," (whoops, I mean "promise cards.") He said, "You can pretty much figure if they promise 100,000, then they'll only give about 75,000."

Did you get that? This famous Faith Promise Preacher KNEW that his plan would make Christians guilty of promising to pay more than they had and that there was NO WAY they could come up with the money. Yet, he preached that system anyway which he KNEW would make the congregation LIARS. Men like that scare me! How about you?

7. Faith Promise Makes the Congregation the Bad Guys

As we've already stated, Pastors who don't receive the total yearly amount of funds that their Faith Promise Conference assured them of, oftentimes take out their frustrations on their congregation as they "browbeat" them in message after message of the importance to give to Missions and follow through with their pledges, (er, I mean promises.)

And, by following the Faith Promise system, the Pastor's preaching makes the congregation at fault for their lack of FAITH. (Shouldn't we then call it what it is: "Lack of Faith Promise Giving?")

Faith then is the determining factor. So, would it then be right to say that "Faith" Promise doesn't work in such cases? Why then would a Pastor continue to use that plan after he's seen it doesn't work?

Let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Let's say it's all the congregations fault, those dirty, faithless rascals! So now what? Do we get them to just start all over in another year of "Faith Promise" and hope this time their "faith" will work for them? If it didn't before, why would we foolishly think it would now? (And, wouldn't we be guilty of making them Liars when we know they won't pay what they said they would? And, um, doesn't the Bible instruct us to, "...neither be partakers of other man's sins...?" (1 Tim. 5:22)

8. Faith Promise puts the emphasis on the "far away" souls instead of those "here and now."

In many of the churches I've been in personallly in which Faith Promise is preached, I notice that many of the members are not well to do. And, many of them are struggling. They are trying to make ends meet week to week, sometimes even day to day. Some have a mortage they just can't keep up with. Others have lost their jobs, and even others are struggling with sickness and massive doctor's bills.

Instead of the Pastor focusing on helping those in the church and working with them to reach the lost in their own community in order to see the church grow, often the Pastor wants to focus on the poor and lost in other lands. The "10-40" window is a good example. But why not look out their own window first?

I'll not debate about whether money given to Faith Promise that goes to foreign missions is money well spent or not. It quite possibly might be! But why do all Mission Conferences and Faith Promise Conventions have to focus on FOREIGN Missions? What's wrong with DOMESTIC Missions? What about those in your own state, city, town, and neighborhood?

Whether you know it or not, America is no longer a Christian nation. It's gone to Hell in a hand basket. And instead of trying to reach the lost in your own back yard, Faith Promise Giving only focuses on those in a foreign field. So much so, that many who preach, practice, and believe in Faith Promise often scoff at Missionaries or Missions within the United States of America. They only desire to support those in foreign fields. But where in the Bible does it say a Missionary is only to go to a far away place? Isn't he supposed to be a Missionary everywhere he goes? And, hey, aren't all Christians "Missionaries?"

9. Faith Promise often misdirects funds.

Now I'm going to tell on some of the Pastors I've met. I'm sure they won't like it, but who cares, right?! Aren't we supposed to tell the truth no matter what? (Like one Preacher said, "If you're not afraid to DO it, I should not be afraid to PREACH AGAINST IT!)

I've personally seen in several churches that the Faith Promise Funds do not always go to "Faith Promise Missions." I've seen some churches dwindle in their membership, and the church offerings that were supposed to go to Missions have instead been used for church salaries, repairs, utilities, etc. Now, I'm not going to stand in judgment. I'm not God. I'm not condemning anyone. But I do have a question. Shouldn't money that's labeled "Faith Promise" go straight to Faith Promise? I mean, isn't that what it's for? And I mean, come on, shouldn't a Pastor have enough "Faith" in God to believe He'll keep the doors of the church open instead of having to steal FP money for that?

How could a Pastor preach Faith Promise, but then use Faith Promise money for something different? Wouldn't he be sinning? And would he be destroying the "FAITH" of those who gave it. Because, I mean, they made a "pledge" (there I go again) to give it to MISSIONS, but then it went to something else!

On a side note, (and now I've just gone to rambling), what about those who the "Faith Promise" is supposed to go to? It goes to "Missionaries" right? Well, who picks those missionaries? Usually, the Pastor does. Why doesn't the congregation get to vote on who they should support? Some churches (and sadly there are very few) vote on which Missionaries they want to support. But in most FIB churches I've been in and most Mission Conferences I've attended, the Pastor is who decides who gets financial support. Often, it's only those Missionaries who attended the same Bible School as he did. (Yep, that's right Pastor. I'm telling on you! Where's you faith, buddy?).

10. Faith Promise often divides the brethren.

So strong is the Faith Promise teaching in FIB churches that if you don't go along with it, you are labelled an outcast and someone who is not practicing "Sound Biblical Principles" (although we've seen Faith Promise isn't Bible teaching, rather Baptist Tradition rooted in the Christian Missionary Alliance, and shares much in common with Charismatic doctrine).

I can't tell you how many church splits I've seen or how many brethren I've met that have left FIB churches over this practice. Many have told me the same thing, "I want to give! But I don't want to be pressured to give that way!"

A lot of these people have begun giving to Missionaries individually on a monthly basis. And can you believe that FIB Pastors are actually preaching against this now? They are saying things like, "To give directly to Missionaries is not right if you give to them outside the Local Church and outside the Faith Promise Program!"

I've even heard some preach, "God cannot bless you at all if you give to Missions without giving it through the Local Church!"

What could possibly be their motive for saying things like this? I mean, we could almost say exactly what they like to say to those who are against Faith Promise Missions Giving: "What? Don't you love souls, and don't you want to see people giving to Missions?"

Could there be some "ulterior motive" for this? Hmmm. I'll let you decide.

11. Faith Promise has become a Business!

Have you ever noticed that the majority of those who preach Faith Promise Mission Conferences are actually Missionaries themselves? They receive regular support from other churches who practice Faith Promise, and they usually receive really nice offerings for preaching "Faith Promise Mission Conferences."

In other words, they seem to be making a living on Faith Promise."

I guess we could then ask, "Are these men really living by faith, when they are getting a boat-load of CA$H for what they are preaching?"

You see, in Faith Promise it seems like those who are asked to practice Faith are those who are earning and giving while those who are receiving and going are not expected to practice faith in God. For they usually are given huge amounts of support for their service of further propogating Faith Promise.

Did you know the average income of a FIB Missionary today (who has a Mission Board) is $6000 a month? What? You didn't know that? And did you know that usually Mission Boards take at least 10 to 15 percent of that money from the Missionary. What? You didn't know that either. Really?

And, did you know that those pushing the Faith Promise Plan the most are those who have, are connected with, and/or are sent by Mission Boards. (P.S. Mission Boards are not in the Bible. And as you study the Bible, it's the CHURCH that sends Missionaries, not a "Board." See Acts chapter 13 for more.)

It almost seems like this whole FAITH PROMISE MISSION PROGRAM is nothing but a great big money generating business!

Oh no you didn't, Bro. Breaker! You said it! Yep, I sure did. (Sorry, it's just what I was thinking, and what I know you would have eventually thought yourself as you study this whole thing out and see the big picture!)

The truth is, Faith Promise constrains struggling poor church members to trust God to provide for them so they can give by FAITH what they don't have, while those who recieve the money usually go to the field with their wallets full and build big homes for themselves to live in while they "evangelize" in their fancy new 4x4 trucks. But where is the Missionary's FAITH in God to provide? If the truck breaks down, or the house burns, or something bad happens, he KNOWS his needs will be met as more support and even "special offerings" will come to him. HOW IS THIS LIVING BY FAITH???

IN SUMMARY

I hope the things written here will cause you to THINK. I'm not against Missions, Missionaries, Pastors, Churches, Church Members, etc. I'm not even against Missions Conferences, monthly Missionary support or taking up special offerings for Missionaries. I'm in favor of MISSIONS.

I'm very much in favor of Missions. But what I am against is modern-day Pharisees who use made-made programs to compel others to give while they themselves prosper knowing they are deceiving congregations into making a pact with God to give what oftentimes they cannot obtain.

I am well aware that God can use money obtained by "Faith Promise" to go to Missionaries who will use it to win souls. I know and understand that. But I've been in the system myself, and I've watched a lot of abuse in the man-made FP program. I've also seen how the fruit of it can take away a Missionary's FAITH IN GOD to supply his needs, and make him totally dependent upon MAN. I further have seen men who would rather preach this man-made system, knowing they are twisting the scriptures to do so, in order for them to prosper, and make a name for themselves, rather than just preach all men should place their faith in God and give to Missions out of love and a desire to see folks saved. And I see the great lack of love this FP plan produces as it pits a Pastor against his congregation, as he's forced to brow-beats his people for not giving what he thinks they should to Missions. (What more can they do? He's already gotten them to promise to give more than they have?)

To me, Faith Promise is not Biblical. It's just man trying to secure funds for God their way by pressuring their flocks, instead of just preaching on Biblical giving (giving willingly and cheerfully) and allowing God to touch the hearts of the congregation to give.

FP further can (notice I didn't say it does) do more harm than good. And I've personally seen a lot of harm and abuse associated with that man-made business system. Let me just give one illustration. I'll not give the name of the Pastor, or even the location of his church. I'll just tell you the story and let you come to your own conclusion.

Not long ago I visted a Faith Promise Mission Conference in which I sat and watched the Pastor hammer his congregation hard on giving. Time and again he encouraged them to give above and beyond their measure. The conference grew to a close and the Pastor passed out the "Pledge Cards" and afterwards, the congregation sat and waited as the tally was counted. The Pastor then read the sum and tallied up how much the church had promised to give that year to Missions. And when he saw the number he grew vehemently enraged. His face instantly glowed red and he rigorously blasted his congregation for their "lack of faith." The figure he told the congregation that "God" had given him was "$100,000" annually that they should give to Missions. But the church promised a little over a tenth of that on their "pledge cards."

Care to guess what happened next, at everyone's surprise? The Pastor a week or so later resigned the church, telling everyone that God had called him to be a Missionary to a certain Island Nation.

And, you know what else? (And here's the interesting part...) The Pastor taught the church to support only Missionaries sent out of that church, so he desired to be sent out of that church and have the church foot the bill for his going to the field.

Do I really need to say more? Can you put two and two together? If not, maybe I should just state the obvious: "Seems like his FAITH was in FAITH PROMISE and not in GOD to supply his need to go to the field!"

In closing, I'm sure you might say, "Okay, Breaker, you've pointed out the bad. So what do we do now?" Well, how about just preaching the cross of Calvary. Wouldn't that make the church want to give more. And don't you think they would even give more if they gave "willingly," than if they were forced to do so with some man-made system? (Especially when they are ridiculed for not giving enough!) It worked for the Apostle Paul. He didn't ask Christians to give what they didn't have. He instructed them to give what they did have, and to give "cheerfully." And look at how the world was turned upside down in his day. I wonder if we'll ever see revival like that again, especially when many FIBers have accepted Faith Promise over God's promises in the Bible to be faithful to his children.

Our faith should not be in our own promises, nor in those of others. Our faith should be in the Promises of God. And we should give because HE wants us to, not because some MAN constrains us to with his made up plan.

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