Buying The Blessings of God’s Grace By Obeying Bevere’s Spiritual Laws
John Bevere is speaking at Phil Pringle’s 2012 Presence Conference. This article will look at John Bevere and a sample of his teaching. The last half of this article is an excerpt from his book, ‘Honor’s Reward: How To Attract God’s Favor And Blessing’, chapter 11, ‘Double Honour’. The first half is examining the scriptures he used in the excerpt of the above mentioned book.
If the title of his book is not concerning enough, Bevere writes how one can earn God’s favor and blessing by giving people like himself honor, luxury and money. He mishandled every passage in this excerpt. He reads his ‘honor principle’ into every scripture, mangling the word of God in the process.
The Apostle Paul says,
“… did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge? I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone. . . But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.” – Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:7-9, 12-13 (emphasis mine)
1. John Bevere’s Gnostic Principle Redefines Scripture
Bevere uses Matt 10:40 to imply that if you receive John Bevere you are receiving Jesus. And how we treat John Bevere is we will be treating Jesus and treat our Father in heaven [pg. 141]. Bevere is elevating himself to be equal in ministry and teaching with the Apostles of Jesus. It’s odd that the Apostles never taught Bevere’s ‘honor principle’ anywhere in scripture – they seemed to focus their message on Jesus.
Bevere tells us to apply his honor principle to the Old Testament scripture of 1 Sam. 2:30. However he is twisting the words of God spoken by a prophet out of context that was condemning Eli saying, “Why do you kick at My sacrifice and at My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling, and honor your sons above Me, by making yourselves fat with the choicest of every offering of My people Israel”. Bevere in his book is not focusing on Jesus’ sacrifice and offering, which is commanded to be preached in the church. In his book, Bevere actually alludes to getting fat off people’s offerings for luxury and personal reasons (for ministry reasons of course!). Back to the verse Bevere uses, we can only live under the truth of the cross and uphold that. We will always be falling short if we ever think we can honor the Lord faithfully. That’s what Jesus did on our behalf: honor the Lord perfectly to death. Now we live in the fulness of every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Eph 1:3.)
Bevere uses three different translations for us to ‘understand’ Proverbs 3:9 (ASV, AMP, CEV). He would have us read the passage as, “Honor the LORD by giving [John Bevere] your money”. (Read the context below.)
Bevere twists Paul’s words, abandoning the context of 1Cor 9:11,14. Bevere’s book is teaching Christians about the honor principle so that ministers like himself can gain from the gospel. He is not preaching the gospel, in fact – watering it down with his made-up principle. Paul is asking for the church to reap just a little because of the work he has done in the churches of Corinth (a very rich city). He didn’t wish to do so because he wants to show that his motive was to receive man’s money, power, influence, fame, etc. He didn’t ask for money so that none could accuse him and the gospel he preached was for filthy lucre’s sake. I purposely put no burden on people to give, as he says in vs 17-18, “If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.” Bevere is doing the opposite to Paul and is expecting to be honored financially as one sent by God.
Bevere uses Philippians 4:15-16 (jumps 17) and vs 18. It’s a convenient verse for him to jump as he states he is unhappy when a church doesn’t offer him luxury or proper honour. Vs 17 has Paul say, “Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account”. Gils commentary observes, “he [Paul] was fully satisfied and highly contented with what he had; he was not like the false teachers, that made merchandise of men; he sought not theirs, but them”. Considering that Paul would be happy sleeping in a car or a luxurious hotel, Bevere would only expect the ‘honor principle’ would work if a church supplied with luxuries so God could bless the church.
John Bevere uses Deut. 26:12 and Gal. 2:10 to suggest that his ‘honor principle’ is somehow imbedded in these verses and that money should be showered on ministers like Bevere so that people can be blessed back. These scriptures in context do not support his claims.
Bevere teaches that Elijah and the widow lived by his newly discovered ‘honor principle’ in 1 Kings 17, which is not true. Bevere misuses Malachi 3:8,10 as most prosperity preachers like himself do. He reads things into scripture and adds to scripture what isn’t there (Proverbs 3:9-10).
Bevere implies you can “buy the blessings of God” as “it is a spiritual principle God has weaved into His grace” using 2 Cor. 8:1-3. Paul is praising the Macedonians as being used BY the grace of God to not bless Paul’s own personal needs (8:20-21). It is by God’s grace he is using the Macedonians to help the church in Jerusalem- Paul and others being the instruments used to accomplish the collection for this cause.
2. Excerpt From John Bevere’s Book
Here is the excerpt from John Bevere’s book ‘Honor’s Reward: How To Attract God’s Favor And Blessing’.
In Our Meetings
In traveling and ministering in churches around the world, I’ve observed the results of ministry are vastly different in those that take care of our team with exceptional hospitality, and those who treat us as common travelers.
I’ve gone to places where I wondered why they asked me to come. They put us in run-down hotels or outside-entrance hotels; they have no bottled water or snacks in the room, and no service available. I’m greeted in the pastor’s office not with warmth and gratefulness for coming, but with more of an attitude of: I’m expecting this out of you. I’ve been treated by a few with the attitude [pg 138] of, “What we are doing here is important and you’re privileged to speak here.”
When I’m introduced the people sit and stare at me with a disinterested look. You can almost hear their thoughts: We’ve heard them all, what do you have that is any different? As I speak I feel as if I am on trial.
I come out of these meetings feeling worn out. I’ve spiritually plowed through the resistance the entire time, rather than being drawn from hungry hearts. Then the pastor will hand me an offering check so small that if his church received this amount every week they could not survive. I’m happy to report this doesn’t happen frequently.
I recall one specific incident: I was asked to speak at a conference with another minister for an entire week. The pastor shared that they had taken in over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the meetings. I was very happy for them. However, when I left they handed me a six-hundred-dollar check for our ministry. Barely a tip, and not a good one either; just 10 percent would have been twenty-five thousand. So it was a little more than two-tenths of a percent (that’s 0.2 percent).
I’ve learned it doesn’t affect our ministry, because God always gets us what we need through some other avenue. Every time in the past when churches have tipped us in this manner (I guess I really can’t describe that as a tip, because it is far below tipping standards) we get a huge gift in the mail the same week from an individual or we’ll go to the next church and they’ll give us an enormous offering. I love it, because it is as if God is saying to us, “I know.”
I’ve seen the faithfulness of God to supply for us, and I’ve never lost and sleep over it. My grief is for those who gave the crumbs; they’ve missed out on an opportunity to receive a great reward by honoring the one Jesus sent them.
On the flip side I’ve gone to meetings where from the moment I [pg. 139] was picked up at the airport until the time I was dropped off again, I was met with excitement and treated with extreme kindness and genuine hospitality.
I arrive in my hotel room and am welcomed with a large basket of fruit, drinks, and snacks that I could feed on for a week. The church checked with our office for what types of foods I like to snack on. I’ve even arrived to find presents awaiting me in my hotel room, such as a candle, nice pen, shirt, or cologne. They put me in the nicest hotels in the area and make sure I have room service and other amenities that make living on the road more like home. Not only do they do this for me, but for my traveling assistants as well.
When I step in the pulpits I’m greeted with the people standing and giving a loud applause. They are thankful to God for sending them one of His messengers, and are excitedly anticipating hearing the Word of God. They listen to the Word attentively; no one moves or talks during the service, because they don’t want to miss one point. They welcome the presence of God during ministry time, and finally rush our resource tables to glean more from the books and curriculums.
These churches will talk with our office or me months and even years later and make comments like, “We turned the corner when you came,” or “Our staff and church has never been the same. It was as if we went up to another level.” I sometimes laugh inside, because maybe just the week prior I went to a church that treated us as common travelers. I ministered on the same subject and came with the same purpose, but the results were very small, and no comments were made after I left. It again shows it has nothing to do with me, but how I’m received.
Jesus says, “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” How would you want Jesus cared for if He was the pastor of your church, or if He visited your church to minister on a certain weekend? The fact is, the way we [pg. 140] treat those He sends us is exactly how we treat Him, and it is exactly how we treat the Father.
Honor The Lord
Let’s look again at the honor principle. God says, “Those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam. 2:30).
The scripture needs to be etched in our souls. Those who honor God, He honors in return. Say it loud: “If I honor God, He will honor me.” Recite it over and over, ponder it, and let it sink deep within your heart. To honor God is to attract His honor toward you. It’s an amazing reality! Let’s take this truth further; we read,
“Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase.” – Prov. 3:9
We are told to honor God with our possessions. The Amplified Bible reads, “Honor the Lord with your capital and sufficiency [from righteous labors] and with the firstfruits of all your income.” The CEV reads, “Honor the LORD by giving him your money.” One way we honor God is by giving Him our money. My question is, how can we give Him money? He doesn’t use our currency. The answer is simple-in giving it to the one He sends you.
If you study tithes and offerings carefully throughout the Bible you’ll find they are given for three main purposes. The first is to provide for the appointed servants who minister to us, and as we saw clearly earlier in this chapter, they are worthy of “double pay.” Secondly, to provide for the minister’s needs to do the work of the ministry; and third, so that they can help the poor, the widows, the orphans and the outsiders.
I’d like to give you just one of the many scriptures relating to [pg. 141] each purpose. The first is seen in Paul’s words to the Corinthians: “If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? . . . Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:11, 14).
The NLT reads as follows: “The Lord gave orders that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it.” This principle is also seen in the Old Testament. The priests’ and Levites’ inheritances were to come from the tithes of the people. They were not given land to work as the other tribes.
The second point is seen in Paul’s words to the Philippian church:
And you Philippians yourselves well know that in the early days of the Gospel ministry, when I left Macedonia, no church (assembly) entered into partnership with me and opened up [a debit and credit] account in giving and receiving except you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent [me contributions] for my needs, not only once but a second time. . . . But I have [your full payment] and more; I have everything I need and am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent me. [They are the] odor of an offering and sacrifice which God welcomes and in which He delights. – Philippians 4:15-16, 18 (AMP)
You can see their financial gifts enabled Paul to accomplish the work to which he was called. Simply put, it takes money to conduct a public ministry. In his own words, Paul was “amply supplied.” Through giving they entered into a partnership with him in reaching others.
As for the third point, in the Old Testament God instructed that the tithe was to be given to the Levite (minister), stranger, fatherless, [pg. 142] and widow (see Deut. 26:12). In the New Testament the leaders all agreed: “They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do” (Gal. 2:10).
The poor would include the stranger, orphan, and widow. By giving to ministers, we can help those in need we may never meet.
As already stated, we honor God with our finances by giving to those He’s selected for ministry. So must ask, how many today dishonor God by withholding more than they should from the work of the ministry? Many don’t tithe, and many don’t give offerings to the laborers who have sown spiritual truths into their lives. They complain of hearing ministers ask for money, and make statements such as, “Why can’t they just preach to me without talking about offerings? Things have not gone well for me lately.” Could this be why they are struggling? They’ve not put God’s work first? So in essence they honor themselves more than they honor God [Haggai 1:5-9 (NLT)] . . . [pg. 143]
How clear can it be? Suppose some of the people we admire in Scripture would have had the attitude many have today in regard to ministers talking about money in hard times. There were many widows who died in the days of Elijah during the great famine. However, one lived because of the honor principle. She and her son had only enough flour and oil to make a final meal; then they would both die. However, the prophet told her to make him a cake first. Wow, would he have gotten persecuted today, both in churches and by the media. Many would criticize, “How could you take anything from a poor woman who is about to suffer starvation? You should give it to her first.” However, the Word of the Lord instructed the prophet to tell her to put God first by feeding his servant; if she would honor him in this way, God would honor her. She did, and God did what He promised; her flour and oil never ran out the entire duration of the drought (see 1 Kings 17).
When we withhold the tithe or offerings from those God sends us, we harm only ourselves because we dishonor the Lord. God Himself speaks through the prophet:
“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings.” -Mal. 3:8
If I had to make a choice, I would rather rob a bank than God Himself. Why? Because I fear God more than man. I’m so glad I don’t have to choose; I would never want to rob either. However, God says, “You have robbed Me!” Notice He didn’t say, “You’ve robbed My ministers!” No, we rob God by not tithing and giving offerings to His servants, because to withhold from the servants He sends us is to dishonor Him. Hear what He continues to say: “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you [pg. 144] the twindows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it,” (v.10).
Notice God Himself states that the blessing of tithing would be so great there will “not be room enough to receive it.” So in essence, the blessing will be an uncontainable commodity. For years I’ve heard ministers say that God will bless our finances and possessions to such a degree we will not have room enough to receive it. I’d like to contend that point. Money is a containable commodity. If I had all the money in the world I could contain it. So what is God speaking of when He states we will not be able to contain the reward of giving? The answer is found in Proverbs:
“Honor the Lord with your possessions (these are your gifts to ministers or offerings to ministries), and with the firstfruits of all your increase (this is your tithe); so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” – 3:9-10 (words in parentheses and italics are mine)
Your barns represent your storage places. That would be your checkbook, closets, gas tanks, garage, etc. This is where we store our containable commodities. So it is true, He blesses our finances. However, what is the blessing which we will not have room to receive? The answer is found as we continue to read: “your vats will overflow with new wine.” A vat is a large container used to store wine. Notice in this scripture, this is what cannot contain the blessing of God, for He states they will overflow. What does new wine represent? In the Bible new wine represents the fresh presence of the Holy Spirit. God is saying when you honor Him, by giving to church leaders-giving to their churches or ministries, you will receive the full reward of the overflow of His presence! That is the most exciting promise of all.
Time and time again, I’ve witnessed those who are generous in [pg. 145] financially honoring their spiritual leaders are those who are blessed materially, and have enough to do every good work that comes before them. But it goes further. What I’ve also observed is they walk in an overflow of God’s presence. Why should this surprise us-it’s God’s promise? Understanding this truth answered my question of why I couldn’t sense a strong presence of God in meetings where honor was withheld-where the pastor was struggling, or where I’m treated like a common traveler. The people were not generous. However, once they became liberal and continued to do so, the presence of God was so much stronger in their church.
If you take the truths of this chapter and read the entire Bible, you’ll notice whenever the people of God richly gave, miracles, freedom, salvations, God’s presence, and prosperity would abound. We cannot buy the blessings of God; however, it is a spiritual principle God has weaved into His grace. Hear what Paul said of the Macedonian believers: “And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most 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” (2Cor. 8:1-3, NIV).
Paul attributed their generosity as a direct result of the grace of God. God’s grace gave them the capacity to go “beyond their ability.” Just as we can’t buy grace, we also can’t buy favor, but we certainly can position ourselves to receive it. By giving double financial honor to those who bring the Word of God to us, we position ourselves to be honored by God; included in that honor is grace and favor-it’s a spiritual law.” – John Bevere, Honor’s Reward: How To Attract God’s Favor And Blessing, 2007, pg. 138-146.