Part 2: from the perspective of the Juggernauts of the New Testament (John and Paul).
In the last post, we approached what divine blessings are through the acts and parables of Jesus. We also distinguished that physical blessings do come from God’s heart for us, He just doesn’t want us to be mastered by those same blessings.
In this post, we approach divine blessings through the heart from the early Churches top two influencers – Paul, who is a prolific ex-Pharisee who wrote almost half of the entire New Testament; and John, the disciple that Jesus loved, who was the only disciple to escape death and had the honor of being the recipient of God’s vision for the future of the world, writing the Book of Revelations on the Island of Patmos.
We can get a confirmation of Jesus’ teachings by seeing how Paul and John conversed with the churches they were administering in.
Paul was a master in biblical languages, specializing in memorizing and analyzing the Jewish scriptures since young; John was the youngest apostle and a “regular guy”. Paul had a zealous streak, murdering scores of Christians before a supernatural encounter with Jesus. John was the disciple Jesus especially loved, so much so that Jesus entrusted his mother to John before His death. Paul wrote half of the entire New Testament and was elucidating the revelations of Jesus and the Gospel through his expert lens of Jewish theological historical past – expertly corroborating Jesus with prophecies of the past, and explaining how we should live based on the fulfillment of the Old Covenant through Him. John wrote perhaps the most prestigious of all books, Revelations, where God revealed the entire future of mankind and the heavens through the centrality of Jesus.
Two very different individuals, juggernauts of understanding Jesus from the lens of the past (Paul) to the future (John) yet (as we shall see later) united in their understanding of God’s heart, and the power of the Gospel as it relates to the church today.
Because of our naturally unbelieving nature, it is very convenient for many to relegate God’s blessings to be “only spiritual”, which because of our limited understanding, practically speaking gets reduced to a promise of heaven when we leave the earth. Yet, God’s idea of “spiritual” is not “imaginary” in the sense that it only exists as an idea. For with God, anything that occurs in the spiritual leaks out in the physical. ()The blessings gets reduced to a comforting thought, rather than an actual provision on earth to empower us to move history with God, and in the process, have the physical blessings of provision, peace, and purpose. The New Testament seems almost always extra careful when talking about the blessings that come through the finished works of Jesus on the cross. Usually, within the same chapter, the Holy Spirit is careful to add descriptors or contexts to make sure we know that some of those blessings are physical, tangible and in this world itself… not just only in the world to come as our unbelieving nature is prone to assume.
Jesus’s closest disciple John, with the unique title “the disciple that Jesus loved”, who knew the heart of Jesus more than the rest of the disciples. He corroborates the essence of how God wants to prosper us both physically and spiritually as he pours out well-wishes to a fellow Christian.
The elder, To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth: Beloved, I pray that in every way you may prosper and enjoy good health, as your soul also prospers. (3 John 1-2).
The Holy Spirit through John includes “as you soul also prospers” because he knows many people assume prosperity is only in the soul, and so he adds in this line to frame how God desires to bless. And, we all know that God wants our souls to prosper, greatly. As our souls, so also in good health and financial prosperity.
The Bible clearly states that God wants to see us in abundance. This abundance includes lesser physical blessings like health and wealth on top of the greater spiritual blessings of peace, destiny and being part of God’s kingdom.
In John’s significant chapter where Jesus reveals himself to be “The Good Shephard”, contrasting himself to the devil who are like killers and robbers, he writes:
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 KJV)
Important lessons can be drawn from here.
1) Jesus gives “life” and, “more abundantly”, showing that there are different degrees of quality of the life we have. The abundance is a type and degree of life.
2) The thief cannot kill, steal or destroy in heaven. In heaven, Jesus totally reigns supreme and the Bible says there will be no more tears. Hence, the thief “cometh” to earth. The devil wants to destroy us on earth, and Jesus is framing his role in the same context. Just as the devil wants to hurt us in order to hurt God, Jesus wants to protect and bless – which is the opposite of the devil. Once again, the devil’s destruction on earth frames God’s blessing on earth as well.
3) The devil doesn’t just want to destroy us on a mental level. The book of Job shows the devil’s natural predilections. When God gives the devil a free hand, the devil wants to strip Job of all things physical as well – Job’s health, wealth, family and reputation among friends and society. John 10:10 has an emphatic “BUT I have … ” to show you the Great Shepherd’s heart, who is “one with the Father.” In the same book of Job, once God’s timing has changed and releases Job from a cosmic bet with the devil, God’s natural heart is to bless and bless abundantly. Job got everything he lost back… family, wealth and reputation. All these blessings came back in a greater fashion.
Paul, considered by some to be the “Father of the New Testament”; having written more than half of it, writes in his letter to the Corinthian church:
And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. (2 Cor 8:1-3)
Paul writes that the Grace empowered the Macedonian churches, who were in lower social-economic circumstances than the other richer churches in richer cities, and yet Grace supernaturally caused them to have more than their socio-economic condition should have allowed them to. Paul writes “even beyond their ability” to make doubters know that not only were their poor folks generous, God also blessed their finances too. The Grace worked in their lives to produce wealth more than their day jobs were supposed to produce. And, this church shows the perfect harmony of how God gave them above and beyond provision, and they used that wealth for God’s purposes. This church didn’t make money their god, instead, they used their plenty to supply areas that were in need. That is what repentance looks like, and it is the goodness of God that leads to this.
The continuation of Paul’s letter solidifies how God’s grace can impart financial blessings especially if people are sold out to good works.
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. (2 Cor 9:10-11)
Paul, the exceptional ex-Pharisee who has studied the Biblical text for years, writes that God will “increase your store of seed” and “be enriched in every way.” Paul echo’s John’s heart in his earlier admonition to the church elder Gaius – “prosper in every way… even as your soul prospers…”
From the earlier post, we know that God wants to bless us in every way, but He also doesn’t want us to be enslaved by money. When we are flowing in sync with God’s heart and the purposes of His Kingdom, it will look like this:
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor 9:8)
If we are being sanctified by God, we become an open conduit of God’s blessing and heart for others. He blesses us so that we might be a blessing to others, as well as to accomplish spreading God’s love and message to the world.
You cannot give what you don’t have. Without God’s continuous blessings, our good works cannot last long as we are flawed and limited beings by ourselves.
God can enrich our time so we can give our time.
God can enrich our finances so we can give our finances.
God can enrich our health so we can give more of our personal touch to people.
God can restore all that the enemy has stolen so that we have the true ability to be in a state of forgiveness to those who have wronged us.
God can make us whole, so we don’t have to hide and can be more of ourselves towards others.
From the 1st post, we focused on Jesus’ teachings and learned that:
Divine blessings only look like worldly blessings on the surface, but divine blessings are much deeper, more impressive, and longer-lasting. Hungering for worldly blessings lead to destruction, but divine blessings are the opposite – they lead to repentance and actually lends itself to your transformation of character and sonship identity.
God thinks it is evil if we think God will shortchange us on earth but will increase our possessions and responsibilities when we diligently trust in His goodness and work towards His purpose.
The increase of possessions and responsibilities are part of The Kingdom of Heaven has supply and provision accessed through Jesus.
Jesus paid a great price for your access. He died and lost everything so that you may have everything for every good work.
From today’s post, we see the hearts of the New Testament’s greatest of apostles, Paul and John and learned that:
Divine blessings are accessed through the Grace of God through Jesus Christ (which is the Gospel).
The abundance of life is defined as the opposite of the devil steal, killing and destroying on earth. It also means being enriched in every way, not just your soul. (John)
Part of divine blessings is being blessed abundantly, so that in all things, and all times, you have all you need and abound in every good work. It also means being able to generate wealth more than the limits of your natural ability. (Paul)
The next couple posts will focus on the divine blessings of Grace framed by the past and future – from Jesus and the Mosiac Law to the present age church in Revelations. We will also explore how having access to divine blessings and abundance doesn’t mean there will be no suffering or condemnation. We will also explore the question of how about people who are consistently suffering from no obvious tangible blessings can still be the recipient of divine blessings through Jesus, it’s just that many of us cannot perceive it. Take it from me, for years I looked as if God had forgotten about me, but on hindsight, only few could have known the powerful consolidation of grace occurring while forgotten in that “dark place”.
End of Part 2.