Does God Reward the Faithful?

Well, 57% of megachurch attendees think so, at least according to a 2007 Baylor University survey.

So reports a fascinating article in AdWeek (HT: Bob Carlton, finder of all articles stimulating).  The point of the article is to once again remind advertising and marketing peeps that Americans are a very religious people.  In fact, we are surely the most religious of all industrialized countries.

This is a point I try to make repeatedly, like I did a couple weeks ago when reflecting on my time in Australia.  And I make it right at the outset of The New Christians.  In Australia, committed Christians really are dealing with a large segment of the population with no Christian background.  It makes catechesis particularly relevant, and you can see why programs like the Alpha Course catch on there and in the U.K.

But in the U.S. in general, and in my locale in particular, Christianity is in the drinking water.  Every year that I taught confirmation class at Colonial Church while on staff there, parents with no connection to the church would arrive in September with their 15-year-olds and enroll them in the program.  Confirmation at Colonial was a fairly rigorous, 12-month process that included lots of church history and theology, two retreats, spiritual disciplines and a summer mission trip.

To this day, the churches in my hometown have between 50 and 200 ninth graders in their confirmation classes.  And while those numbers skew higher than other parts of the country, Minnesota is still one of the most progressive (read, liberal) places in the country.  And yet, here we are, full of big churches and big youth groups.

Nevertheless, erstwhile church planters journey around this land, claiming that they’re going to save the “most unchurched city in America.”  Which city is that?  Depends on whom you ask (as we discovered this summer on the Church Basement Roadshow).

While it’s true that too often those who work in advertising, marketing, journalism, and politics have underestimated the religiosity of Americans, those of us in the church world dare not make that same mistake.

By the way, in answer to the opening question: The rain falls equally on the just and the unjust.

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  • The charlatans that preach a prosperity gospel in my opinion are borderline evil. It is an example of the crap that people stick to Jesus that he never would have had anything to do with in the first place.

    Go and tell some of the people I worked with in Sudan and are starving to death that if their faith is strong enough God is going to give them material possessions and their life is going to be without suffering.

  • Nowaytess

    Jesus never promised us to be rich or prosperous. He did promise to be with us.

    God does reward his faithful. Faith in Jesus end to be with Jesus in Paradise for eternity.

    I loathe Chrsitian leaders who push the prosperity Gospel use it to basically, collect money from the Chrsitian public.

    I get in trouble with my “Conservative TBN friends when I tell they Pastor get on tithing they are “God’s Bill Collectors.” These Pastors and Chrsitian Leaders know how misuse Malichi 3: 8-10 and use it guilt to get people in the pews to pay up! “God Loves a cheerful giver.”

    10% Agurcultal Tithing was equiviant to Tax impose to support the Levitical Priest Hood. If you did Levitical law code with all Tithing and taxex it woud equivilat to 23% of gross income.

    When ever I went a Church that does “Bill Collection Style of Titihing” I ask them one question. If they can answer I will tithe to that Chruch.

    Every 3rd year tithe the whole tithe was suppose to go to the poor. I asked the Pastor does all the Chruch’s 3rd year tithing every 7 years is use to support the poor for the Law code require this. Of course the answer is no with of course the Con line for me to fork over my 10%. I have not ran into Tithing Chruch yet that gave that 3rd year tithe to the poor.

    Here is a hint if you want to help raise the poor. The Law code had built on safe guards to prevent poverety in the Nation of Israel if the people follow the Law code. In the USA many of our nations Bankruptcy Laws are based from the Levitcal Law code.

    One of the reason why God set up the Law code realted to the poor is:

    1: Brother does not grow poor beside you.

    2: Gleaning was a help up not a hand out.

    3: Teach those who did prosper not the hoard and share with his brothers.

  • Jonathan

    I take a more eschatalogical view of rewards: we *will* be rewarded for good works rendered, but not necessarily in *this* lifetime. Hell, I mean, just look at all those reward texts offered in the NT about heaven. (2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 3:8, Revelation 22:12, Revelation 2:23, Mark 10:29-30 etc, etc). And lest we get all Osteeny, just check out those Christians in Iraq and Orissa, India. Faithful, yet persecuted.

    And no, I don’t think of heaven as some whispy, spiritual afterlife where we float on clouds and strum Guns ‘n Roses chords on a Gibson harp. [begin rant] I believe in a physical resurrection, on a physical world, with a physical Christ, with new physical bodies. And other, um, physical… things. [/end rant]

    [Olivia Newton John plays in the background: Let’s get physical…]

  • As I watched and listened to a video interview with Tony Jones and a pastor from what I assume to be a protestant church, I found it interesting that Tony was stating that there are other ways to salvation. Basically that all one needs to do is to do something in Jesus name, i.e. give a drink to the thirsty, visit someone in prison generally quoting Matt 25:31-46. Tony interprets this passage a saying that doing ANYTHING in Jesus name will get you into Heaven. The Bible passages below I feel shed some light on what can happen to those who try to do works in Jesus name but have not truly repented and surrendered to Christ.

    Acts 19:13-20
    13 But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 14 Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 This became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, who lived in Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all and the name of the Lord Jesus was being magnified. 18 Many also of those who had believed kept coming, confessing and disclosing their practices. 19 And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing.

    In Jesus’ own words:

    Matthew 7:21-29
    21 “Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.” 28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

    John 14:6 says “I am the way the truth and the and the life; NO ONE comes to the Father but THROUGH ME”. I’m sorry Tony but all of the works that you do while wonderful kindness can be seen in all of them they are but filth unless, you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, Rom 10:9.

  • Interesting article. Were did you got all the information from. Its hard to find knowledgeable individuals on this matter, but you sound like you already know what youre talking about! Thanks terrific more please.