HOW TO BE PROSPEROUS! WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lords Day Morning, September 17, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).


The September 18, 2006 issue of Time magazine has a story on the front cover titled, Does God Want You to be Rich? Yes, Say Some Megachurches. Others Call it Heresy. The Debate over the New Gospel of Wealth. Rick Warren says, This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy? Baloney (p. 55). Joel Osteen says, I think God wants us to be prosperous (p. 51). Which one is right? Actually, I believe that there is some truth in both statements. Certainly the New Testament does not teach that God wants everyone to be wealthy. But, on the other hand, I do believe God wants us to prosper. So, both of these men seem to present part of the truth, on this subject, but the fact that neither of them emphasizes the centrality of the Gospel makes both their sermons less than what we need in these strange days of American Christianity. They both draw large crowds, but one wonders how many of their congregants are converted. The Gospel of Christ must always be preeminent in our preaching, or few will be converted, whether they prosper or not!

The best way to understand the questions raised by the prosperity gospel is by looking at what the New Testament itself teaches. The message of the New Testament is crystallized in our text,

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

What did Jesus mean by seek ye first the kingdom of God? This is a reference to conversion. Jesus said,

Except ye be convertedye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).

The terms kingdom of God and kingdom of heaven are interchangeable. They both refer to salvation. Since Jesus said that you must be converted to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3), it should be the main goal of your life to seek first the kingdom of God. Thats why Jesus said, Strive to enter in (Luke 13:24). The Greek word translated strive is agonizomai. It means to struggle, endeavor, labor fervently (Strong). Since salvation is the most important thing in life, Christ told us to strive to enter in. And this is what He meant in our text,

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.

But then He said, if you do that,

all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

Matthew Henry said of this verse,

If we give diligence to make sure to ourselves the kingdom of God and the righteousness thereof, as to all the things of life the Lord will provide as much of them as he sees good for us, and more we would not wish for (Matthew Henrys Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson Publishers, 1976 reprint, volume 5, p. 70, note on Matthew 6:33).

But there is more to this. All these things shall be added unto you shows that the material things of life are a by-product of salvation, not the goal. The goal is salvation. The by-product, or result, is the material blessings of God. Why is this true? We must not think magically concerning our text. All these things shall be added unto you not by magic but as a natural outcome of a converted heart and life! And I want you to see two ways that happens, according to the Bible.

I. First, those who seek the kingdom of God will be industrious people.

The Bible teaches that Christian people should work. Yes, work! Notice how strongly this is taught in the Bible. Please turn to II Thessalonians 3:10. Its on page 1272 in The Scofield Study Bible. Please stand and read that verse aloud.

This we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat (II Thessalonians 3:10).

You may be seated.

Dr. Gill commented,

Not he that could not work through weakness, bodily diseases, or old agethey are to be taken care of, and provided with the necessaries of life by the officers of the church; but those that can work, and will not, ought to starve (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the New Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume III, p. 268, note on II Thessalonians 3:10).

Dr. Henry M. Morris, concerning II Thessalonians 3:10, said,

From the very beginning of time God has ordained that men should work for their food (Genesis 2:15, 16). This became even more necessary with the entrance of sin and the curse (Genesis 3:17-19). We shall continue to work, serving the Lord, in the new earth (Revelation 22:3). It is, altogether, inexcusable for Christians, when they are no longer children, to expect others to provide their sustenance while they stand idle (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defenders Study Bible, World Publishing, 1995, note on II Thessalonians 3:10).

Dr. McGee commented of II Thessalonians 3:10,

A believeris not a dreamer; he is a worker. No work no food. That is the rule laid down by the apostle (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume V, p. 421, note on II Thessalonians 3:10).

This is called by secular sociologists the Protestant work ethic. It would be better to call it the Biblical work ethic. The Bible plainly teaches, If any would not work, neither should he eat (II Thessalonians 3:10). Christians are commanded

That with quietness they work, and eat their own bread
      (II Thessalonians 3:12).

A young person should work from an early age. I worked forty hours a week as a clerk to put myself through college at night. I saved enough money while working and going to college, to then pay for most of my way through the first two years of seminary, and then I painted houses to pay for my third year. I didnt really enjoy working so hard, but it didnt seem to hurt me. My mother once said, It kept you out of mischief. I think she was right.

Now, if you are a young person whose parents are putting you through school, your school is your work. If you wont work at your studies, they ought to kick you out and make you get a job. Your job is your studies. Spend at least eight hours a day studying. Make straight A's. I believe thats what the Bible teaches. And everybody who isnt in a wheelchair ought to be at work, in one way or another.

Personally, I think most welfare and disability is a bunch of hokum. They dont have all that in China. The people there work for a living and, as a result, they are surging ahead. The same is true in many parts of the Third World. While the Americans are running to Las Vegas and entertaining themselves with endless video games and other foolish time-wasters, those people are working. If the Americans keep on fooling around and relaxing, we are going to find out that those who were willing to work will take our place. America will no longer be number one. Thats what I think.

And, my friend, if you intend to be a Christian and seek first the kingdom of God, go to work tomorrow! Thats what the Bible teaches! You cannot build an inner city church with people who wont work. The fact is, you cant build a church anywhere with people who wont work!

Look at the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was a tireless worker. If you read the Gospel of Mark, you will see the word immediately and the word straightway over and over again. He went from one job to the next immediately. He was never idle. He is our example! Read the Book of Acts. You will see how hard the Apostles worked. They are our example. Throw most TV and most video games out and go to work! As that old song puts it, Work, for the night is coming, when mans work is done (Work, For the Night is Coming by Annie L. Coghill, 1836-1807). I think we ought to sing songs like, Work, For the Night is Coming, instead of these wishy-washy choruses today!

So, a Christian who obeys the Word of God is going to prosper. There is no mystery or magic about it.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

While the lost people in the world are fooling around and relaxing, you seek Gods kingdom and go to work! There will be no stopping you! All these things shall be added unto you. You will prosper and get ahead in life if you put Gods kingdom first and then go to work! That is Gods plan for prosperity in the New Testament.

II. Second, those who seek the kingdom of God will be stable people.

Please turn to I Corinthians 15:58. Its page 1228 in The Scofield Study Bible. Lets stand and read that verse aloud.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord
      (I Corinthians 15:58).

You may be seated.

The Christian is called to be steadfast and unmovable in what? In the work of the Lord. Dr. Langes commentary says that this refers to

the work which Christ Himself undertookand which He has commanded His followers to carry forwardthe proclamation and spread of the Gospel (John Peter Lange, D.D., Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Zondervan Publishing House, n.d., comment on I Corinthians 15:58).

Not only are we told to work physically, as we saw in II Thessalonians 3:10, but we are also told to do the work of the Lord. This is not for pastors only, but for all Christians. I do not believe that evangelism is just for the young people. Every Christian is told to do the work of the Lord (I Corinthians 15:58). This is primarily the proclamation and spread of the Gospel as Dr. Langes commentary correctly says. Every Christian is called to the work of Matthew 28:19-20, to go out and make disciples of the lost!

No one should lead music or teach children in the church who does not go to evangelism. No one should be a deacon, church secretary or officer in the church who does not go out evangelizing. I completely agree with Dr. John R. Rice when he said,

So the officers of the church will be elected, first because they are soul-winnersThen the idea will be to set such a standard and keep on such a holy pressure that the church officers, deacons, trustees, elders, will all be mainly occupied with winning souls (John R. Rice, D.D., Why Our Churches Do Not Win Souls, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1966, p. 152).

Now, look at it. A person who is working hard on his job and is also working hard by going out to evangelize from his church a Christian who is stedfast and unmovable in these things who is a stable worker is going to be a great success in life! How can he fail to succeed! He is working while others are playing. He is out winning souls while others are filling their brains with TV violence and video games. He is unmovable, while others are running from one church to another, getting divorced, moving from one place to the other! How can a solid worker like this fail? He will be a great success in a society of jokers, pot-heads, video-heads, and bums!

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

It all starts by seeking Christ. If you go to work without knowing Christ, youll be just as much a loser as anyone else. You will fail at the start, like the rich young ruler Jesus spoke to.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

Except ye be convertedye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).

You see, Christ did not simply come to teach you a work ethic. He came to die on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. He shed His Blood to cleanse you from sin. He rose bodily from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God in Heaven.

You must come to Christ. You must be converted. That is the way to start the Christian life. That is the way to begin a better life, not only on earth, but throughout eternity!

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

Get into the fellowship of this local church, and go to evangelism. Work hard at school or on your job. Find salvation through a conversion experience with Christ. You will move ahead of others as a result, and you will prosper in this life and in the next.

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 6:25-33.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God.


THE OUTLINE OF

HOW TO BE PROSPEROUS! WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

(Matthew 18:3; Luke 13:24)

I.   First, those who seek the kingdom of God will be industrious people,
II Thessalonians 3:10 (cf. Genesis 2:15, 16; 3:17-19;
Revelation 22:3); II Thessalonians 3:12.

II.  Second, those who seek the kingdom of God will be stable people,
I Corinthians 15:58; cf. Matthew 28:19-20.

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