A dear brother posted this:
“Success is an offshoot of following God. Hence, follow God n u will b successful. Apostle Paul never preached success but Jesus.”
I totally agree with the word of God and with you that success, as defined by God, is a product of following Jesus. Also, by extension, that we do not need to chase after it … per se, but as we follow God, we will find ourselves on the journey called success. I totally agree.
However, I find questions with some of the other things said. But before I go ahead, let me state certain things:
- I am not interested in arguments. Those who know me personally know that I’m not good at it and once a discussion turns into an argument, I shut up and shut down.
- I am not responding because I feel I must express my opinion over every matter. I know I am not ignorant of God and His word and to the extent that I am graced, I minister, nevertheless I also know I do not know it all therefore I am not in a hurry to open my mouth or drop a line.
In fact, my initial reaction was to not respond … “at least, Jesus is being preached” were my exact words to my wife … but as I thought more on it, I found more reasons to speak up than to keep quiet.
- I would have preferred to respond via a private message so as to avoid the contributing to the picture of men of God castigating each other in public, believe me I’ve seen some ugly settings, but because your note will reach a lot of people that are precious to me, just as you are, I decided to make this response public as well.
Please, pardon me for being so public about it.
Now, to the statement, “Paul did not preach success” meaning to say neither should we and possibly that those who are doing so have strayed from the path.
First, “Paul did not preach success”.
Paul never told us to preach only what he preached. He said clearly that he knew only in part and therefore prophesied in part. (1 Corinthians 13:9) And he said that he, as a wise master builder, had laid the quality foundation which is Jesus and those who come after him were to be careful what they built on the foundation. (1 Corinthians 3:10-11) Elsewhere, he told us what consisted of the foundation that is summarized as Jesus but then he said we were to press to deeper things. (Hebrews 6:1-2). He mentioned that those deep things are found in the depth of God, i.e. the spirit of God, and then he said “eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has in store for us”. (1 Corinthians 2:9-12). I guess that means there was a whole lot more God wants to teach us and Paul knew that.
Does God’s curriculum perhaps include how to succeed in life? I guess so, for it is He who told Joshua that he was to make his way prosperous and have good success. (Joshua 1:8)
Well then, if God asked a man to make his own way prosperous, does that not mean the man has to learn how? Should then a man of God not settle down to learn how to succeed from God and His called out ones, the church?
Second, “Paul did not preach success”.
I cannot claim to know everything about Paul … I’m still a student myself. This, however, I know for sure, that Paul never tried to set himself as the standard to be copied by all Christians. (1 Corinthians 11:1). He refused to have a fan club and when some people started fan clubs, he declared them all carnal and babies in Christ. He asked, “Did Paul die for you, or Apollos or Peter? Are we not all yours?” (1 Corinthians 3:1-7, 22-23). I do not believe that he considered himself the “kingdom lone-ranger” responsible for all the truth in the Kingdom. “Paul plants [starts, commences, kicks off the work], Apollos waters [continues, follows up, maintains the work] and God gives the increase.” I think he expected that stuff would be added to whatever he said.
Am I to ignore the writings of Peter, John and Jude simply because they are not Paul? I do believe that’s not what you meant. That being so, consider some of the words of John, “I desire above all things that you prosper and be in health even as [in direct proportion to] your soul prospers”(3 John 2). I think it suggests that as at the time the statement was penned, the direct recipient of the letter was not enjoying financial and “healthical” prosperity in proportion to the prosperity of his soul, being a child of God. 1 John 3:8 speaks of the “works” of the devil which the Jesus came to destroy. Jesus came to destroy works, not a work. That suggests that apart from the sin problem, there were a few other wrongs Jesus was aiming to right, right?
Peter wrote,” According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue. (2Peter 1:3) Well, since it’s through knowledge, should the one who does not know it not be taught?
Again, who will do this teaching if not us? “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house,…the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1Pe 2:5, 1 Tim 3:15)
Third, “Paul did not preach success”.
2Co 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
2Co 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
Gal 3:13-14 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing [the divine enablement to prosper] of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Tit 2:6–7 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
Tit 3:14 And let our own [people really] learn to apply themselves to good deeds (to honest labor and honorable employment), so that they may be able to meet necessary demands whenever the occasion may require and not be living idle and uncultivated and unfruitful lives. [Amplified]
Though I have limited the scope of “success” to business and money, because these are usually the areas of contention and concern, Paul taught on success in ministry, marriage, and parenting amongst others. While it is true that he preached nothing but salvation through the finished work of Jesus to the unsaved, I submit to you that Paul did nothing but teach principles of success (in as many ramifications as he could) to the church.
He was a smart guy, and in one example, he taught that we should focus on what is beneficial to our audience and minister to them along such a line. I do not think then that he would recommend preaching salvation, holiness, and heaven to folks who are saved, made righteous and heaven bound (a.k.a. Christians) and all his letters are just that: what we need to be successful as Christians right in this world.
Even if we are to preach only what Jesus preached, can we avoid preaching on the subject of success?
Success in business ventures:
Luk 14:28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Success in governance:
Luk 14:31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Luk 14:32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
Success as a disciple:
Luk 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Luke 5:1-11 tells a story worth reading but just in a bid to shorten reading time consider the highlights:
Luk 5:8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
Luk 5:11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
It was the sudden and obvious success that convinced Peter that Jesus was holy and he, Peter, was sinful. It was the same superlative outcome of his business venture that day that made Peter and his partners to, finally, leave all and follow Jesus though he had invited each of them at least twice before.
Luk 18:28-30 Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And He said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
Mar 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, … And they were offended at him.
Note the use of the definite article in the phrase “the carpenter” and not an indefinite article as in “a carpenter”. This suggests to me that Jesus was well known for his carpentry, which would mean he was successful at it.
I agree we should preach Jesus, but I submit that we cannot preach just a part of Him but all of Him. Truly, we should not chase after the things of the world but I submit that success is not of the world; that’s why they don’t have it and we do. If anyone argues with this last statement, then I question his definition of success.