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by Dr. C. L. Cagan, Deacon

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, January 22, 2011

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3).

Have you been to the supermarket lately? Have you put gas in your car lately? If you have, you have seen inflation. A few years ago it cost my family $150 every week for groceries. Then it cost $200, then $250, then $300, and now it costs $350 for the same food. We almost never go out to dinner anymore, because it costs about $12 to $15 per person at a coffee shop and $25 or $30 per person at a fairly good restaurant. Did the food change at the supermarket, or at the restaurant? No, it’s the same food, but it costs more all the time. This is called “inflation.” In this sermon I will bring out two points: first, what inflation is; and second, what you can do about it.

I. First, what inflation is.

You need to know about inflation. Our text says, “A prudent [wise] man foreseeth the evil…but the simple [the unwise people] pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3). If you are wise, you will learn about inflation and prepare for it. If you are not wise, you will pay no attention until it is too late.

What is inflation? Inflation means that things cost more. You see this every time you buy food or put gasoline in your car. Prices went up a lot in 2010, according to Cable News Network (CNN):

Oil up 13%
Corn up 51%
Soybeans up 33%
Wheat up 46%
Beef up 25%
Coffee up 74%
Cotton up 85%
   CNN commodity prices, December 31, 2010.)

This is why almost everything is more expensive. Now, the government keeps telling us there is little or no inflation. They publish a “core rate” of inflation – that does not include food or energy! They do this to make themselves look good – and so people don’t get raises for the cost of living. But the government’s rate of inflation only applies to people who don’t eat and don’t drive. Do you eat? Do you drive? If you do, then you are facing inflation.

What causes inflation? Inflation isn’t the fault of the Arabs or the Chinese. Inflation happens when our own country prints more and more money without producing any more food, any more gasoline, or anything else real to back it up. This makes the dollar weaker. If you have a glass of orange juice and pour more water into it, you have more liquid, but it is weaker. If you keep on doing that, you can fill a large bucket, but it won’t be orange juice anymore – just funny-tasting water. That’s what is happening to our country – more and more dollars, and more and more debt, but we hardly produce anything, so the money gets weaker, and it costs more and more of those weak dollars to buy the same food and the same gasoline. It isn’t that the price of food and gasoline went up – it’s that the value of the dollar went down!

Why is America doing this? Because our government spends far more than it takes in, with huge deficits year after year. Our Federal deficit is now $1.5 trillion per year, and that doesn’t count the states and the cities. On top of that, our entire financial system is based on tricks and smoke and mirrors. Our major banks and Wall Street financial firms would be broke in a week if they didn’t have all kinds of government bailouts and life support – with money printed out of the air.

But there is no bailout for people like you and me. If you keep spending more than you make, you’ll be bankrupt, and you can’t print money out of the air to cover it. If you own a house and don’t pay your mortgage, the bank will foreclose and take it away – and you can’t print money out of the air to cover it. Under honest accounting, the United States is bankrupt right now, and goes deeper in the hole by $30 billion every week, but our government does keep printing more and more empty money to cover it. Most people would call this cheating, but our government uses fancy names like “Quantitative Easing.” It is cheating all the same.

The money printing is done by the Federal Reserve, led by its Chairman Ben Bernanke. They give it different names, such as “Quantitative Easing.” But it all comes out the same – creating empty dollars with nothing behind them. That is why our dollars are worth less every year.

Would anyone really do that? Yes! It’s the official policy of Ben Bernanke himself! Listen to what he said in a major speech back in 2002:

The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost. By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation, or even by credibly threatening to do so, the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services, which is equivalent to raising the prices in dollars of those goods and services (Ben Bernanke, “Deflation: Making Sure It Doesn’t Happen Here,” November 21, 2002, see

That is why everything costs more all the time! That is why we have inflation!

Inflation is a form of theft. The money you earn buys less at the store, because each dollar is worth less than before. Part of its value has been stolen from you. You have to work harder just to buy the same things. If you put a dollar in the bank and take it out ten years later, it will buy you much less, even after you get a small amount of interest. Inflation has stolen some of the value of your savings from you. Thus, inflation is a sin, because the Bible says “Thou shalt not steal” (Exodus 20:15).

God warns against dishonest money and dishonest business. The Bible says,

“Thou shalt not have in thy bag [different] weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thine house [different] measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have”
     (Deuteronomy 25:13-15).

The Bible condemns all cheating and financial manipulation. A dollar tomorrow should be as worth the same as a dollar today! According to God’s Word, inflation is stealing!

Who gets hurt by inflation? The worst harm comes to seniors and other people on fixed incomes. They can’t make more money – they just have to suffer. For working people, even if they do get a small raise, it won’t make up for what they pay at the store. Could you go to your boss and ask for a 25% raise to cover the extra cost of food and gasoline? Would you get that raise? The answer is obvious.

Has inflation ever happened before? Yes, money printing leading to inflation has happened many times in many countries, from Germany to Argentina to Hungary to Zimbabwe. Each time the result was the same – disaster.

How long will the inflation go on? I say that inflation will be with us for a long time. Our Federal government now spends $30 billion more every week than it takes in. That does not count the many billions of dollars owed by states like California, New York and Illinois, since state and local debts are in addition to the national government deficit. On top of that, there are 68 million Baby Boomers, born from 1946 into the middle 1960s, who will become seniors over the next twenty years. Every year, starting this year, 3 million more people, almost 10,000 every day, will reach the age of 65 and go on Medicare – every year from now on. Every year, 3 million more people will reach retirement age and go on Social Security. This cannot be changed because those people are alive right now.

Since America has aborted 54 million babies, most of whom would be working now if they were alive, our country cannot support this many seniors. Even if Americans stopped having abortions tomorrow, it would be 20 to 25 years before those babies would be earning money and paying taxes – so it is too late already. The promised Social Security and Medicare expenses are not counted in our current budget deficit – they are on top of that deficit. These entitlements are far larger than any costs we have faced before. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis,

The 2009 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports show the combined unfunded liability of these two programs has reached nearly $107 trillion in today’s dollars! That is about seven times the size of the U.S. economy and [several] times the size of [the] national debt (National Center for Policy Analysis, June 11, 2009, see

A trillion is a million million! To pay $107 trillion, every man, woman and baby in the United States will have to pay well over $300,000! A man, a wife, and two children will have to pay far more than a million dollars.

$107 trillion is more than $700,000 for every person in the United States who is working! If you are working now or you will be working in the future, you will have to pay $700,000. If a man and wife are both working, they will have to pay $1,400,000. Can you pay that – on top of everything else? This is far too much to pay by taxes or any other way – except with money printed out of nothing! Yes, inflation will be with us for years to come.

Some people say that America will experience hyperinflation, which is a superheated form of inflation. In hyperinflation, prices jump by large amounts every month, every week, every day. People rush to the stores as soon as they get paid, just to buy anything they can before the value of their money goes down further. Savings are wiped out and normal business is impossible. The most famous cases of hyperinflation happened in Germany in 1923, where the money went down to 1 trillion to one. It happened more recently in Zimbabwe, which went as far as 100 trillion to one. Finally, a new money is introduced where each unit represents a thousand, a million, a billion, or a trillion of the old one. That new currency may settle down, or it may inflate on its own.

Hyperinflation leads to the breakdown of the economy, and often to crime, civil unrest and even revolution. If it happened here, the government might ration out food and gasoline, and use the crisis as a reason to take over almost everything. This would not be called socialism, communism or fascism. It would have a positive name such as “The New Way” or “Freedom and Unity for All” or "Economic Justice" or “Love, Hope and Change” – but it would be a revolution all the same. The words of President Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address, “government of the people, by the people, for the people” would no longer be true in America. Instead everything would be “of the government, by the government, for the government.” The nation would never be the same again.

Will we have hyperinflation? I am not prepared to say that yet. We could go on without a collapse, just dragging on year after year with prices getting higher and our standard of living getting lower and lower. Whatever happens, it is certainly true that inflation will be with us for years. That brings us to the second point of the sermon.

II. Second, what you can do about inflation.

All of you will be affected by inflation in one way or another. But there is a lot you can do to prepare for it – as you should. Our text says,

“A prudent [wise] man foreseeth the evil…but the simple [the unwise] pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3).

The unwise, “simple” people pay no attention, go on one day at a time until they get into trouble. The word translated “simple” is plural in the original Hebrew, so “simple” describes the majority of people. But “prudent” is singular in the Hebrew, indicating that not very many are wise enough to see what is coming, and get ready for it!

First, there are some basic things you can do to cope with inflation. Try to live a simple and frugal life. Don’t buy things on credit that you can’t afford. Don’t spend your money on fancy cars or fancy trips. It will cost you enough just to eat and drive. This is basic and prudent advice for everyone.

Second, there are particular actions to take in a time of inflation. I don’t claim to be a certified financial advisor, and I can’t be liable for what you might do; but these thoughts are offered for your information and education.

Some people are using the rare double advantage of low prices together with low mortgage rates to buy a house or condominium with a mortgage that is only a little more than it costs to rent a good apartment (make sure that you get a fixed-rate loan, not an adjustable-rate loan that will blow up on you later). Under inflation, ten or twenty years from now, today’s price and monthly payments will seem much smaller.

Some people may hold part of their money (don’t put all your eggs in one basket) in the form of silver or another asset which keeps its value. I remember when a new car cost $2,000, a house cost $20,000, and a quarter (25 cents) was made out of 90% silver. Today a new car costs $20,000 or more, a house in Los Angeles costs $400,000 or much more, today’s 25 cent coins have only a light wash of silver, and a silver quarter from my boyhood is now worth five paper dollars.

You can fight inflation even when you buy food. If you usually get six cans of something, go to a big-box warehouse store like Costco or Sam’s Club and buy a case of 24 or 48 cans. You will get a discount for buying more. Someone may say, “But I won’t finish eating that for six months or a year.” That gives you another gain, since you will be eating then what you bought now, at today’s prices, which is less than what you will pay then if you wait.

But in spite of everything you do, you are still likely to suffer because of inflation, perhaps seriously. We cannot put our final trust in the material things of this world, because they can be taken away so easily. The Bible warns us not to “trust in uncertain riches” (I Timothy 6:17). Jesus Christ said,

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).

Today’s financial system will come down. In fact, this whole world system will fall! The Bible says,

“The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (I John 2:17).

And when you die, your part in this world comes to an end. Human planning will not help you then. You have sinned against God. You have broken His commandments. You have resisted Him in your selfish heart. God sees and knows all your sins, and remembers them in His records, called His “books” in Revelation 20:12. When you die, you will go to Hell. How can you escape from the punishment that you deserve? Pay attention to the words of our text,

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3).

If you pass on and go out of the church and go back to your sinful life, you will be punished when you die. This is what most people, the “simple” ones, will do. Only a few “prudent” people will obey the text and foresee what is coming. What can you do? The text tells you to hide yourself. How can you do that?

First, you must hide yourself in the local church. The Bible commands you to come out of this present world and its sinful ways,

“Come out of her [this world], my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).

Again, the Bible says,

“Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord” (II Corinthians 6:17).

Come out of this world and come into the local church! Why should you do that? Someone may think, “The church will feed me and give me a place to stay and take care of everything for me.” No, we can’t do that. You’ll have to go to the government for that! But in the church you will find something much deeper than food for the belly.

What will you find in the church? You will find friends who care about you – and who will be your friends here year after year. Friendships and relationships in this world don’t last. People move here and there. Your friends at school will graduate and go different ways. But if you come to church and stay in the church, you will make friends that will last a lifetime. I have friends right here whom I have known for thirty years – since I was a student! Why not come in and have friends as strong as that?

It is only in the church that you can find real Christian friendship and love. True Christian love comes from Jesus Himself, for the Bible says,

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins…We love him, because he first loved us” (I John 4:10, 19).

It was Christ who loved us and died on the Cross to pay for our sins. And it was Christ who told us to love each other, when He said,

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).

You will find the love of Christ here in church. Come into the church and find friends who care about you – friends that will last a lifetime!

But just coming to church and making friends will not help you to face God’s judgment after you die. Our text says,

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3).

If you “pass on,” and go on with your life without coming to Christ and being converted, you will be punished in Hell. Will you be one of the great crowd of “simple” people and just go on until you die and fall into Hell? Or will you be one of the few “prudent” people who foresee the judgment that is coming? What can you do? Our text tells you to hide yourself. You must hide from the wrath and judgment of God. Where can you hide? You must hide in Jesus Christ! An old hymn put it this way,

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;
   Let the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure; Cleanse me from its guilt and power.
   (“Rock of Ages, Cleft For Me” by Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778).

Who is the Rock of Ages? Who gave water and Blood from His side, to cleanse you from the guilt and power of sin? The Rock of Ages is Jesus Christ Himself!

Jesus died on the Cross to pay for your sins. He gave His Blood to wash away your sins from God’s record. And Jesus rose from the dead to give you life. If you come to Christ, God will count your sins as paid for by Christ’s death and washed away – covered – by Christ’s Blood. Then you will be able to say with the Psalmist,

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered…Thou art my hiding place” (Psalm 32:1, 7).

I pray that you will be convicted of your sin, and fear God’s judgment to come. I pray that you will soon come to Jesus Christ, hide in Him from God’s wrath, and find forgiveness through His Blood. Amen.

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by Dr. C. L. Cagan

“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3).

I.   First, what inflation is, Exodus 20:15; Deuteronomy 25:13-15.

II.  Second, what you can do about inflation, I Timothy 6:17;
Matthew 6:19-20; I John 2:17; Revelation 20:12; 18:4;
II Corinthians 6:17; I John 4:10, 19; John 13:34; Psalm 32:1, 7.