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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hard Sayings - "Sell all your possessions"

16 And behold, one came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" 17 And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." 18 He said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19 Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20 The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" 21 Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property.

23 And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 25 And when the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" 26 And looking upon them Jesus said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:16-26).
Of course it's a "hard saying". Even the disciples were baffled. But the part I want to look at is verse 21. Jesus said, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor." "Yeah, yeah," you might counter, "but Jesus was only talking to this guy. He didn't say it to everyone." Oh?
"Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:33-34).

"No one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions" (Luke 14:33).
Oops! So it isn't just to the rich young ruler. In fact, it's an imperative without which we cannot be His disciple.

What does He mean? Well, let's take it at face value (always a good idea if possible). It would appear as if He is commanding us to sell all we have. What would that mean? Well if "sell all your possessions" is taken purely literally, then I would need to sell off this computer, get rid of the house, the car, the furniture, stove, refrigerator, etc., my clothing, anything I possess. If this is the case, then the command is to become a homeless person with nothing of your own. Well, perhaps you could rent a place, but it couldn't have any furnishings or the like. Is this the command? Maybe. Jesus had no place of His own. And others have taken it quite literally. The first disciples appeared to do so. Some monks have taken vows of poverty. Saint Antony of the Egyptian Desert took it quite at face value, sold everything, and went to live in the desert. It was these passages that started the Monasticism movement.

Others suggest a different understanding. One site's interpretation says, "Jesus does want us to ask this question: where does my ultimate loyalty lie?" Carl Rohlfs, in a sermon preached in the University United Methodist Church says, "He does not say 'Sell ALL your possessions'; just 'sell your possessions.' Sell those things available for sale. Don’t hang the weight of excess wealth and accumulation as the millstone holding you down." Tracy Lesan of the Berean Bible Society suggests that the command was for a particular time, and that God isn't doing that anymore.

We are at an impasse here. If we are to take the Bible at face value, then nothing less than abject poverty is the command for all Christians anywhere. We need to sell everything we own or we aren't "Bible-believing Christians". On the other hand, there are rational approaches to these passages that suggest that "sell all your possessions" was not really in mind here at all, and it is not necessary to do so.

Allow me a few observations. First, what is in view? Is it God's intention that His own be people of poverty? I don't think so. What is His intention? "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:34). The goal isn't poverty, but rather love. What do you love? If it is your possessions, you're in trouble. Clearly the problem with the rich, young ruler was an inordinate love for his possessions. That's why Jesus said it was hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom.

Second, consider the parallel:
34 "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of Me" (Matt. 10:34-38).
It seems quite obvious that Jesus isn't commanding us to hate our families, or this would contradict too many other Scriptures. What He is saying is that there will be a conflict between earthly loves and a heart for God. What He is saying is that love for Him must clearly outweigh love for even family. In like manner, the point of the command to "sell possessions" isn't poverty, but the question of "Where is your heart?"

Third, note that it is true that only one passage mentions "all", and that one doesn't say to sell all, but to "give up". The ESV says "renounce". This doesn't mean "divest yourself", but "surrender ownership". When you hear yourself say, "That's mine", you haven't surrendered ownership.

Finally, notice the first century church. According to Acts, they "were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need" (Acts 2:45). Some have said, "See? Sell all you have! They did." But this isn't an accurate representation. First, it wasn't compulsory; it was voluntary. Second, we have the example of Ananias and Sapphira. In their example, they sold what they had, then lied about the price. What did Peter tell them? "While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal?" (Acts 5:4). You see, keeping the property, or even retaining part of the price was not a sin. Their sin was not in withholding something for themselves, but in lying about it. So Peter was not mandating that they sell all they possessed. That was not required.

On one hand, it appears to be a mandate for all Christians to live in abject poverty. On the other hand, there appears to be viable alternatives to this "face value" concept. Which is right? I'll leave that up to you. One thing that is inescapable here. Jesus called for radical disciples who would cling to nothing here on Earth and who would follow Him at all costs. This isn't the vision of the American Christian. We tend to be comfortable, accumulating wealth if possible, certainly not giving to charity as we could and should. Indeed, we worship comfort. Perhaps Jesus didn't mean a literal "sell everything", but He unavoidably commanded that we should not be materialists ... and for the most part, we are.


Scott Arnold said...

GREAT post Stan. Personally, I believe it comes down to having a heart for God and not "clinging" to things here on Earth as you suggest.

And no, it's not the vision of the "American Christian" - nor do I live up to this Godly standard. Too often we get caught up in our culture, worldly matters, materialism, etc. We look at "sell all your possessions," and say to ourselves, "IMPOSSIBLE!" But sadly by rejecting this out of hand we also deny the broader command.

Thanks and Blessings,

Anonymous said...

How interesting I find this post. It seems to fit in with some things we have been learning as we go through the book of Luke at church on Sundays.

First, in Luke 9 we have the cost of discpleship and see the demands are tough. Does Christ really require we allow the dead to bury their own dead, etc? Of course that verse can be taken as spritually dead people burying the physically dead who were unsaved, BUT...the point being is Christ was and is excellent at discerning our EXCUSES for not making Him Lord of EVERYTHING. And He often requires us to give up anything that stands between Him being Lord in our life. What is your first love? What is your priority?

In the story you mentioned, a man wanted to save himself it appears with his good works...but Christ demanded MORE than he could give apart from His spirit within him. So he went away grieved.

The same thing in the parable of the good Samaritan. That was given to help that lawyer understand that he just CANNOT do perfectly all the time in every way. When he tried to justify himself by asking who his neighbor was, then Christ made it clear it is your brother whom you despise. Can you perfectly love him too? So when Jesus asked this man who proved to be a neighbor and the man understood it was the one who showed mercy...Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same." Go and perfectly love all the time. The man should have humbled himself right then and admitted, "Lord, I cannot do it!" Then Jesus could have given him the grace and mercy he needed to be saved. Instead he wanted to be saved because of his own righteousness. How sad.

Everything in the earth rightfully belongs to the Lord. Anytime I permit ANYTHING to become "mine" and my "primary focus" I can expect the Lord to require me to surrender it to Him. I am called to be a good steward. These are His things given into my care. Am I using them as He desires? Am I willing to part with it for His sake and glory or that of my brethren, as in laying down "my" life for my brethren?

Very good food for thought today Stan. Thank you for blessing me with your continued sharing of the Word.

Blessings to you, Julianne

Steve said...

Why are you trying to twist something Jesus explicitly said, because it's inconvenient to your lifestyle?

Why do most Christians ignore something explicitly required of them and instead latch onto things that are either indirectly mentioned or not mentioned at all by Jesus. I'm thinking of homosexuality and abortion.

Stan said...

Steve, allow me an observation. You apparently own a computer, likely clothing, some mode of transportation, maybe some furniture (like a bed), maybe even a TV. I know of no one in America who owns nothing. So ... have you obeyed what you believe Jesus said ("Sell all your possessions") or are you steadfastly refusing to sell what you think you need to keep (you know, like that computer or the TV)? Are you twisting Jesus words by saying, "You must sell all your possessions ... but I won't"? If you genuinely believe that Jesus was making an explicit command here that all Christians ought to own absolutely nothing, why haven't you obeyed? Why do most people who believe that Jesus explicitly commanded pure poverty for believers ignore what is required of them and then complain about people who find other things about which to be concerned?

I offered an explanation, not intended to "twist" anything, but to make sense of it. You think I twisted it. Until you actually comply and sell everything you own, I will have to assume that you are either intentionally sinning or have twisted the words you see plainly yourself ... or maybe there is merit to my suggestion of what Jesus intended.

Steve said...

I'm not a Christian. I've wondered this my whole life. Why do most Christians ignore something explicit and concentrate on the implicit or invisible?

You changed that verse and made it much better than the way it was. I think it's a good thing to not be obsessed by material possessions, but not go crazy and sell everything like Jesus asks (yes everything). I like that you've changed it, but I'm wondering why you might still have views that you use the bible as justification for. Views that have far less biblical justification.

Stan said...

Steve: "I'm not a Christian."

That clears up a lot. (I read that back and it looks sarcastic. No sarcasm intended.) I do not expect people who are not Christians to live up to the standards that Christ gave, so I won't be expecting you to sell everything you own any time soon. You're safe.

I believe that the Bible is reasonable. I believe that it is understandable. (We have a term for it in, but I won't bother you with it.) So when I read "Sell all your possessions" or "Owe no man anything", I ask, "Is it reasonable?" First, it has to make sense with the Bible as a whole. Second, it has to make sense at all. Now, the vast majority of the Bible makes sense at face value (at least to me and most of the rest of us who read it). This one, taken at pure face value, does not. If it meant what it said at face value, I couldn't even own a Bible with which to learn that it told me not to own a Bible. Further, there are lots of passages that tell people how to manage what they own. If we aren't allowed to own things, how can we do that? Since I don't believe in contradictions, I make sense of it. So I made sense of this passage.

I take the Bible literally. By "literally" I don't necessarily mean "at face value". I mean "as written". So if it is poetry, I understand that poetry has certain characteristics that other writings don't. If it is hyperbole, I understand that there is a function of that form of speech that doesn't lend itself to pure face value. In other words, I read it like I would read anything else that is written -- as it is intended. I have yet to come across something, reading it that way, that is a genuine contradiction or that is irrational. Hard to fully explain? Sure. But not wrong or crazy.

If you've seen me write something that is from the Bible that violates the Bible, I want to know. I've been wrong in the past. I will be in the future. I want to get correct. But items like "marriage" and "homosexual behavior" are pretty clear in the Bible, so I don't understand why those are sticking points for people.

Stan said...

Oh, and to "anonymous" (not brave enough to put your name?), I don't post comments that are rude. My mother reads this stuff. Your comment won't be showing up here.

Steve said...

Hmmm. So despite the fact you see it as a contradiction, you say it's not a 'genuine' contradiction. Let's leave that point there, no point in arguing.

What I AM asking is why you're following the spirit of this passage and interpreting it?

You say things like homosexuality (and marriage) are pretty clear in the bible. But that's the thing! They're not as clear as these passages! From my understanding Jesus never explicitly condemned homosexuality and the only references in the new testament to homosexuals are references back to the old testament.

It's similar to abortion. I'm not saying abortion is right or wrong, but why do so many Christians use the bible to justify their position on this? I can't tell if you do, but if I were to assume, I'd say you believe it's asked for by God.

Stan said...

You're not using the word "contradiction" in the same sense I am. There is nothing in the text (nor anything in my explanation) that contradicts the Bible. You don't find this passage that says, "Sell everything" and another passage that says, "Buy everything you can buy."

So I AM following the spirit of this passage. Jesus was speaking in hyperbole. (After all, He owned clothing, didn't He?) I regard it as such.

This "Jesus never explicitly condemned homosexuality" is pretty popular, but, I'm sure you can see, pretty stupid. He never condemned bestiality, child pornography, or genocide, either. So ... it's all good, right? No, you and I would both agree (I hope) that "Jesus never explicitly condemned ..." is not a good way to determine right and wrong. The Bible, on the other hand, is not in the least unclear or silent on homosexuality. So I side with the Bible. It never mentions abortion, either, but I know of no way to argue that abortion is not murder and the Bible (and Jesus) is not unclear on murder.

(Note: Christians are not against abortion. Christians are against killing unborn children. If science could figure out a way to terminate a pregnancy while letting the child live, the whole abortion protest thing would go away.)

Steve said...

The truth is, it's easier to rationalise giving away all your possesions than it is to give a biblical condemnation of homosexuality or abortion. I'm not saying you can't somehow do it. But there are far fewer mental gymnastics involved in the possessions aspect.

If the three passages about selling possessions were about abortion I doubt they're be taken in "the spirit". Why would he be speaking in hyperbole? It's stated three times! Don't you think this might be important? I don't expect you to agree, because doing so would turn over your lifestyle.

If you want to take "the spirit" of the bible check out Exodus 21.22 and its view that abortion is not murder and/or that the unborn is not the same as a person. I don't agree with this, I think it's too blunt, but there it is, to be taken in spirit or ignored.

Stan said...


If you would, please, give me the rationale that would suggest to a logical person that terminating the life of an unborn child is not murder. We even have it encoded in our law. The Laci and Conner's Law was enacted in 2004 and made the murder of a pregnant woman a double homicide. Now, a "homicide" requires the killing of a human being, so the law and science agree that an unborn child is a human being. Rant about abortion if you wish (not that you're ranting), but IT'S NOT ABOUT ABORTION. It's about murder. You may think that abortion is biblically questionable. You CANNOT think that murder is biblically questionable.

And homosexual behavior? Please. Opponents would like to argue that the Bible is vague on the subject. That argument requires a presupposition that the Bible is vague on the subject. It is not. God gave His unambivalent opinion: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination." "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death." The "put to death" part requires a theocracy that doesn't exist today, but God explained that in His view it was "a detestable act", "an abomination." The Bible confirms this in the New Testament when it says, "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error." It is not vague in the least when it claims, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God." There is nothing vague here.

Steve: "I don't expect you to agree, because doing so would turn over your lifestyle."

Turn over my lifestyle? No. It would terminate any lifestyle. Tell me, in what possible lifestyle, one can own nothing. Is that possible anywhere on the planet? If humans have basic needs -- food, clothing, shelter -- and morality dictates they can own nothing, how can humans survive? Worse, it would terminate Christianity as a religion. You see if "moral" requires "own nothing" and Jesus owned something (like the clothes on His back), then Jesus wasn't moral and Christianity has no Savior. IT MAKES NO SENSE. That's why it's hyperbole.

But let me tell you the thing that boggles my mind. You, a self-professed non-Christian, think that it's a good idea to debate Scripture with me. You, who voluntarily admits that you don't agree with the Bible, have decided to argue with me about the reason, logic, the rationale of Scripture. In other words, you believe that Scripture is not right, but you want to argue with me about what it means? What sense does that make? Do you see that you're 1) assigning to me values I don't have ("You won't change because you don't want to turn over your lifestyle") while 2) assigning to Scripture values it doesn't have in your view? That, my friend, is irrational. As this discussion continues, it is becoming apparent that it is not your goal to come to any kind of an understanding, but simply to provide a dispute. Seriously ... is that really of some value to you?

Steve said...

The rationale is in the bible. I gave you the quote where the bible disagrees with the Laci and Conner's Law. I'm not giving rationales, I already said I think the quote's position is too extreme. So you refute a bible quote with a secular law? We're making some progress!

However, it reads like you just skimmed over the last paragraph. I didn't suggest that it isn't murder, I said the bible suggests it isn't murder. What I am saying is that the quote from the bible is saying that abortion might be bad but it isn't murder.

I completely agree. The bible IS NOT VAGUE on homosexual behavior. I'm saying it's more vague than the quotes about possessions. The quotes about possessions are even attributed to Jesus. I think you need to read what I am saying and answer what I am actually writing, not what you're imagining (or wishing) I'm writing.

This is actually a little amusing. You're getting passionate about how "unambivalent" the bible is about homosexuality. You're proving my point for me! Did you even read what my arguments were?

If you applied the same logic and rigourous examination to the two controversial topics we just discussed, as you do to the discussion of the possesions quotes it would be a different you. Oh and in response to "IT MAKES NO SENSE" I believe I've already made myself clear. You made yourself clear by saying if it doesn't make sense, it must still be right somehow. Somehow.

You have a very important world view, a world view that affects almost everything it touches. I've often argued with you from within your worldview. Within the logic of the scriptures. I'm not trying to stop you from being a Christian I'm trying to get you to rethink your conclusions, because the conclusions frustrate me, and have real-world consequences.

That, my friend, isn't irrational it's called empathy. It's called putting yourself in the minds and shoes of others to prove a point.

And to respond to your second last questions: yes I did post that question because I disagreed with you. I disagreed with you and decided to dispute your claims. I want to throw this back at you "As this discussion continues, it is becoming apparent that it is not your goal to come to any kind of an understanding, but simply to provide a dispute" (I don't really mean it I'm just trying to prove a point).

And to your last question: yes it is of some value to me.

Stan said...

I would guess, Steve, that you regurgitated that Exodus reference from someone else because it makes no sense. "If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide" (Exo 21:22). Your claim: "Check out Exodus 21.22 and its view that abortion is not murder and/or that the unborn is not the same as a person." Do you actually see that somewhere?

But, bottom line, it appears that your initial premise is "The Bible is false. You are not allowed to examine the text to make sense of it. You are only allowed to read it at face value. If that makes no sense (as this one does), then it simply proves the premise -- the Bible is false." No other text is approached this way. No other book is required to meet such criteria. No other author can meet these requirements. When the weather man on TV says, "Sunrise tomorrow will be at 7:02", no one complains, "You idiot! The sun doesn't rise. The Earth rotates!" No, we understand the form of speech. When the teenager comes home and Dad asks, "So who all was at the party?" and the kid says, "Oh, everyone was there!", she isn't grounded for lying. "I wasn't there, so you were lying." We understand forms of speech. The Bible, on the other hand, cannot be allowed such standard practices.

You call that "empathy". It appears unreasonable, unfair, and unkind to me.

Steve said...

I pointed out that quote to show the ignored potential for a very clear interpretation.

I am not using that quote to show that the bible is false! I'm not sure where you got that from. Again you're not responding to my arguments. I'm giving it as an example of something that, if taken in the same spirit as you take the possession quotes, can give you a very different view of abortion.

I am flabbergasted you think my initial premise is "The bible is false". I AM examining the text to make sense of it! I congratulated you for interpreting it (the possessions bit) the way you did! I also criticised you for not applying that to other areas.

You're rambling about what you think I am saying, not what I am actually saying.

What I am calling "empathy" is the way of arguing you decried in a previous comment. You criticized me because I often argued within the confines of the bible being true. NOW you're admonishing me for apparently starting on the premise the bible is false! You're flailing around trying to find ways to attack HOW I am arguing, and not only ignoring the arguments, but making contradictory ones. That sounds "unreasonable, unfair and unkind" to me!

Stan said...

Okay, it appears that we are talking past each other. I believe I have addressed your arguments. You believe I've ignored or misunderstood them. I believe I have presented a consistent approach to Scripture with a consistent result. You believe I'm "flailing around". So, please tell me what I missed. The Exodus reference has no bearing on the question of abortion. The Scriptures are consistent on the subject of homosexual behavior. And examination of the text and context of "Sell all your possessions" leads me to believe that it cannot mean "Sell everything you own", but a more reasonable reading, the same way I would if you had said it. What argument did I miss? Where am I not making sense?

Steve said...

I said I believed you were flailing around in how you characterized my arguments. You characterized them in completely opposite ways in two successive comments. That statement wasn't referring to your approach to scripture.

Which has certainly not been consistent.

Read the exodus reference again. It's making a statement on the status of the fetus/unborn child. It's giving a worth that is not equivalent to that secular law you mentioned. It is actually referencing the fetus and referencing it in a way that imposes a moral position and a defining whether it is a life! How much closer can you get in the bible to abortion than that?

You use the bible's denouncement of murder to infer a position on abortion. An inference that is far more strained than one you could make using Exo 21:22. Make an examination of the context. Read on to 21:23. My copy says "if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe".

So what it's saying is, if you cause a miscarriage you get fined. If you cause a miscarriage and kill the woman, you get put to death. "Life for Life". Life for life isn't given as a punishment for the miscarriage. Because this passage is saying that the fetus is not a life. Which, for the record, I'm not trying to argue.

So you think this has NO BEARING on the question of abortion? This passage that refers to the destruction of the fetus and the status of the fetus as a life? Do you really think this has less to say than a biblical decree against murder?

Stan said...

The question is not abortion. The question is not homosexual behavior. You've made it such. Fine. The passage in question (Exodus) doesn't say "miscarriage". It says premature birth. "Miscarriage" is a guess.

If you could, please, tell me where I've approached the passage in question ("Sell all your possessions") in an inconsistent manner ... or any of the rest. I try to read them as they are intended. I don't see yet where I've done otherwise. You're saying I'm inconsistent. I'm not seeing where. Please help.

Steve said...

I'm using comparisons to point out inconsistencies. That's why I'm bringing up abortion.

My hard copy says miscarriage. I just looked it up on the internet and some versions say "loss of the child", "she miscarry but live herself", "fruit depart", "premature birth".

You're making a liberal interpretation of the possessions passage and a strict interpretation of others, with less prominence of place and source. A prime example is abortion. Placing a liberal interpretation of the Exodus2122 quote can result in a very different position on abortion. One might say it is only in our day and age that premature births are so often survivable, at least close to a certain date. In fact a premature birth often involves death. This is similar to the way you interpreted the possessions quotes. You can argue against this but you'd be sounding pretty similar to me.

Even ignoring that passage all together, you're taking a definite view on something the bible doesn't explicitly say.

Then you take something explicit like the possessions quote, and through logical consideration come to a liberal interpretation. I don't use liberal in its political sense. Why not take an explicit view of something it does say. Or why not use the same liberal logic in interpreting other things. Or why do you even need the bible to argue against abortion.

I feel like I've been through this part of the forest before. Sorry, I have to rush off. Read back my prior comments if you want more help.

Stan said...

My rule of thumb: Read it as it is intended. As far as I can tell, I've read the Scriptures you've offered as intended. In the case of "sell all your possessions", I ask, "Did He intend that Christians own absolutely nothing?" That would make no sense. So I conclude "That's not what was intended." I read the Exodus passage and it says, "If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide" (Exo 21:22). Seems reasonable to me. Why shouldn't I take it in the manner it is written? Now, you'd like to throw in translation variations. Let's look.

ESV: "When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm ..."
KJV: "If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow ..."
LITV: "And when men fight, and they strike a pregnant woman, and her child goes forth, and there is no injury ..."
YLT: "And when men strive, and have smitten a pregnant woman, and her children have come out, and there is no mischief ..."

So, you have a version that says "miscarriage" The New American Standard (the best literal translation on the market) says "gives birth prematurely". The English Standard Version, the newest of the good, literal translations, says "her children come out" and stipulates "there is no harm". (A miscarriage is not "no harm".) The Literal Translation Version (LITV) says "child goes forth" (ambiguous) but insists "no injury", and Young's Literal Translation (YLT) says "her children have come out" (not "dead bodies" or "fetal tissue" or whatever). Considering 1) nothing in the language (essentially "departs") demands a dead baby is involved, 2) the best translations reference premature birth, and 3) the concept of premature birth rather than miscarriage is consistent with everything else we read, I read it as "premature birth".

I see this as consistent with Scripture and consistent with my paradigm: Read it as it is intended. You see it as inconsistent and illogical. I explained why I see both readings as "literal" ("as written", "as intended"); you see it as "a liberal interpretation". I've taken both at face value -- as intended. Where have I not? I've read both in their immediate and broader biblical context and made both make sense logically and contextually. What's the difference?

Now, if you could, please explain to me what you would recommend to someone who decides, "I'm not going to think about this stuff; I'm just going to take it at face value." Because, as I've explained, that would simply require that Jesus was a lunatic and a sinner. That statement alone would require that He was crazy and violated His own "simple" command by owning clothing. You say, "Why not take an explicit view of something it does say?" If you could, please tell what you think that would look like, because I cannot begin to imagine what that would be. How does any human being survive owning nothing? Even homeless people have clothing they own. Tell me in what possible reality it would be possible for any human being to survive without owning anything. Please explain that to me because I can't see it. It seems to me that the moment you provide "Well, they can own clothing" is the moment you offer "a liberal interpretation". On the other hand, it seems inexorable to me that if you insist on our inability to make any sense of the texts -- "Just take it at face value" -- that you will unfairly limit the intelligence of the reader, the viability of Christianity, and any use whatsoever of the Bible. Is there any possible way that one can read this particular text ("Sell all your possessions") without considering it insane?

Steve said...

To someone who decides "I'm going to take it at face value" I'd suggest they don't, and I'd probably then try to cut them from my life. I don't have any Christian friends like this.

I'm not asking or suggesting you take it at face value. But since you agree that you're taking a liberal interpretation of the possessions quote, I'm wondering why you still derive a black an white biblical view of abortion when it isn't even mentioned.

Oh and I think selling all your possessions can be classed as insanity. But one could argue that believing in the afterlife, or that the creator to the universe listens to you is far more insane. Religous belief is meant to appear insane. Jesus acted like a madman. That's what makes him so special right? Maybe it only seems insane by our standards. Maybe it's our hedonistic materialistic morals that make it sound impossible and insane.

I think you use the clothing problem to define the quotes as mainly metaphorical. Once you allow clothes it isn't necessarily a slippery slope. Unlike the invisible quote denouncing abortion as clearly as Jesus denounces possessions, you're taking the chance to include shades of grey. Otherwise it would massively affect your life. I think that if you were trying to follow the quote as close to its assumed meaning as possible, it might not mean you have to give up your clothes but it might mean you'd have to give up almost everything else you don't ABSOLUTELY need.

Stan said...

As far as I can tell 1) I've stated my position as clearly and repeatedly as possible and 2) you've been unable to offer to me a rational alternative. I see consistency in my approach and you haven't been able to explain to me what is inconsistent. I see the entire book as rational and you see it as insane. I see Christianity as a valid belief (and theism as mandatory) and you see it is ... not.

I don't suppose there's much more I can offer on the subject. I've been clear that I'm not opposed to abortion and you've been clear that you haven't got a clue what I'm talking about (since you keep using the term). (I'm opposed to murder.) So I suppose we can finish this up now and stop this interplay since I don't think there's any farther we can take it. I've said all I can and you've recommended all you can. Thanks for the friendly dialog. I hope better for you in the future.

Thomas said...

Steve: Comparing the language and tone of Jesus and the Hebrew Scriptures as "apples to apples" because they are both contained within the Bible is a poor, unscholarly interpretation. The methods used by Jesus are, as Stan points out, often hyperbole -- or parable -- many types of figurative language. However, the Hebrew Scriptures are meant to be taken literally -- to the letter.

To read, "No sex between men," as literal is staying true to the source. However, to apply the same to Jesus would be ridiculous. I mean, he totally meant sheep are in heaven and goats are in hell, right?

Stan said...

Thanks, Thomas. Another perspective might be helpful.

Steve said...

Stan, you don't seem to have posted my last comment.

I remember saying something about you playing with definitions to neutralize any argument. And then I thanked you for the friendly dialogue.

Thomas, your comment is almost funny. The hebrew scriptures are meant to be taken literally and you get to choose when Jesus is being literal? I'm not even going to go there. I've enjoyed this debate, but Stan seems to have thought through his beliefs.

Stan said...

Sorry, Steve. In my last comment to you I said, "I suppose we can finish this up now and stop this interplay since I don't think there's any farther we can take it." I've had to delete some comments lately and I accidentally deleted yours with it, but you didn't say anything new so I didn't think anything was hurt.

I find it fascinating that you believe that we are not allowed to examine a text for its intent. Does that include modern texts or is that just the Bible? Am I not allowed to evaluate your language for hyperbole, sarcasm, etc.? Or is it just the Bible? Fascinating double standard.

Steve said...

That's ok.

I'm assuming my language is on a different plane to the bible's. I'm not sure I said you can't examine a text. I was talking about consistency in examination. But I do think I said that there comes a point when it is the reader's intent and preference seeping in. I also think there is a difference between analogies and the possessions quotes.

Don't you think it's almost hilarious how we each think the other has a huge double standard?

Stan said...

Steve: "I'm not sure I said you can't examine a text."

Steve said to Thomas: "The hebrew scriptures are meant to be taken literally and you get to choose when Jesus is being literal?"

That sounds like "You don't get to decide how to take the texts."

I'm not sure your language is on a different plane than the Bible's, but your intent is certainly different than mine. My intent is to make sense of what I read (in the Bible) and yours ... isn't. So, I read "sell all your possessions" and understand that 1) that is not a rational position to take when taken at face value and 2) Jesus Himself didn't take that position in His life, so I ask, "What do you suppose He meant?" You read the same thing and are perfectly happy with "He meant it as he said it ... and that's insane."

You see it as a double standard when my approach is "What does it say and what does the text and context tell me it means?" I approach "Thou shalt not kill" with the same standard as "Sell all your possessions." And since the text and context leads me to conclude that "Sell all your possessions" is hyperbole rather than straightforward content, I'm holding a double standard?

Steve said...

No that sounds to me like questioning the way he took the texts, since I haven't heard any Christian make that argument, and for very good reasons.

Honestly, do you really think that sounds like "You don't get to decide how to take the texts"??? Are you trying to read between lines that aren't there? I was paraphrasing his statements and posing it as a question back to him...

I don't see "What does it say and what does the text and context tell me it means?" as a double standard. I see the way you apply it as one.

Stan said...

Okay, here's where I think we end up. I have worked at making sense of the Bible. You have no interest in making sense of the Bible. I agree with Thomas -- the Hebrew Scriptures you've brought up are straightforward texts intended to be understood in a straightforward manner, but Jesus was speaking in hyperbole. You don't think that's our option. I believe the Bible, believe that it is rational, and have no problem making sense of these things. You don't believe the Bible and believe such things to be irrational. So ... if you have nothing new to add, I will, once again, see if we can end this conversation on a friendly note.

Steve said...

While I don't agree with that final characterisation of my argument, I've already said enough. A friendly end is in order! Thanks stan.

Adda717 said...


I've stumbled upon your website because I was looking up a passage about Jesus telling the rich man to sell his possessions. I think it's awesome that such a conversation was held after the original post. It started to get a little off topic but still awesome none the less. As believers I think it is very important that we dive into the scripture just like you have here.

I want to offer you a new perspective and see what you think.

Why did Jesus tell the rich man to sell his possesions? This rich man followed all the commandments and according to Jewish law he would have been seen righteous in the eyes of God. This rich man lived in a time before blood was shed on the cross for our sins. The only way he knew of pleasing God was to follow his commandments, by following the convenant set up between God and Moses. Unfortunately for the rich man that was all about to change with the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to do away with the "works" system and so therefore before his death and resurrection he needed to prepare a people so accustom with a works system a new way "life." Pun intended. This new way of life would require a new convenant and a new convenant must do away with the old. All throughout Jesus teachings he has discouraged and angered the people. He has told us that we need to be more righteous than the pharisees. How is that possible though? Put yourself in their position for a second. A person living in their times, taking care of your family, living day to day and here you have a man telling you that if you want to enter into the kingdom of God that you have to be more upright and "religious" then the religious people of the temple. So what do you do? Do you get cracking? Do you get busy trying your best to become more righteous then the pharisess or do you give up and start looking for a new way? Say you do give up... What new way would you go with? Would this open your eyes to the death and resurrection of Jesus? A once and for all forgiveness? A gift of righteousness that you only have to accept and believe and no more?

This is my interpretation of Jesus and the rich man. He was only trying to frustrate an already somewhat righteous man so that he would open his eyes and get him looking for a new way of righteousness, one that you can't lose.

I don't know if you will ever get this comment but I hope you do. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Stan said...

Hi, Joshua, and welcome.

My real take on why Jesus said this to the rich man is slightly different (because the statement to the rich man was only one of the times He said, "Sell all your possessions."). I don't believe that people in the Old TEstament times (before Christ's death) were saved by works and since Christ we've been saved by faith. The reason I don't believe that is because as far back as Abraham it says, "Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." It's quoted by Paul as a statement of "saved by faith apart from works" in Romans 4. So it is my firm belief that salvation has always been by faith. Those prior to Christ were saved by faith in God's promise to save by the coming Messiah and those after Christ are saved by faith in the Messiah who came.

As for the rich young ruler, I think there was something different going on here. He asked Jesus about salvation and Jesus gave him the standard -- absolute perfection. "If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." The man claimed to achieved absolute perfection. Jesus told him to sell everything to illustrate to him that He still loved something else (his riches) over God. That's who I see that particular situation.

But, as I said, He said it multiple times in multiple circumstances, so the rest of the conversation on what He meant by it is still relevant.

Anonymous said...

Hey Stan,

I just wanted to say that, as an agnostic, I really appreciated your conversation with Steve, and your continued persistence to engage meaningfully despite his increasingly stubborn manner. It was wonderful that you chose to engage with him the way you did.

I don't get hung up on things like "sell all your possessions" on a theological basis because I think the spiritual intent is clear and that the real issue is a sense of personal ownership. You seem to have a similar interpretation though I think we might not quite agree on what a "possession" really is.

I appreciated this particular article and subsequent debate, because there is a part of me that wonders why, if I am not tied to my possessions in any real way, why I CAN'T seem to bring myself to live more compassionately?

Jesus was a radical, and to follow him with an open heart as far as I can tell means to at least attempt to become a radical too. At this point in my life, I just don't have the courage to do "What's right" and be that compassionate radical, let alone believe in the Bible as a divine source over the relationship I have with a God who may or may not be "just in my head." All this to say, thanks for reaching out and really trying to engage with a non-Christian. Even if he didn't appreciate it, the act was meaningful to me.

Stan said...


When I find a person who disagrees with me and is genuinely willing to have an actual dialog (rather than some sort of heated argument or the like), I am thoroughly delighted to do so. I don't make it a practice to talk only with those who agree with me and I believe I am actually compelled to answer people who ask, so as long as the conversation is on friendly terms, it is a pleasure for me.

Thanks for your kind words.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, this topic is dear to me so I am well pleased to see it by accident or maybe not. I think that the requiremnt here is obvious, not to give up everything and be a burden to society. This has to do with having what you need provided by God versus becoming confused about you providing it.

I traveled alot and winging it often became a faith measure. I beleive the more I carried the less faith I had. If I had faith it would free me to the point I could basically carry a bible, bowl and a spoon. This would be like pulling up a fish with a coin in his mouth to pay my taxes.

Unfortunately I have fallen back to being a family man with a houshold of stuff. The important point I think is that this stuff most of it has come to me by need. None of it is dear to me or really desirable.

God recently gave me a car. Now what do you think he would pick for me a new car, an old one, a safe one? Actually it was a 95 Oasis Isuzu in a color I later realized I love. Now the circumstances about the need were clear and even more so the Lords' timely and late response convincing enough to me.

Anonymous said...


Stan said...

Thanks for the comment. Good points.

I just wanted to give you a little hint. On the Internet, typing in all capital letters is understood to be shouting. Nothing in your comment seemed to be shouting, so you might avoid misunderstandings in your Internet communications by not using all capital letters.

Brady said...

I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but I feel that there are some points of your discussion with Steve that could be clarified a little more- just in case others are still not convinced.

First, to the original claim of the blog, I believe that many of us would be better off selling most of our possessions and that Jesus might be calling some of us to sell everything, but these passages are only commanding us to be completely committed to him.
Look at Luke 14:25-33 and you will see that Jesus was using metaphors for being totally committed. That we would hate our families compared to how we feel for Jesus, we could fully commit to finishing a project, and that we are sure we can win the battle.
Following this command may very well mean selling everything to some people, but the concept is that what we "own," we devote to God. For example, you are using your computer to help people understand the Bible.

About the Exodus passage: the word for [the baby coming out] in the original Hebrew (yes, the Bible wasn't written in English) is "yāṣāʾ" which means to come out, bring forth, proceed, depart, etc. The word for death/die is "mût." Obviously this verse is not talking about miscarriage.

About interpreting different parts of the Bible differently: This part of Exodus was written as a law book. Has anyone ever seen a law that was sarcastic or hyperbolic? Jesus was talking mostly to farmers, so it makes sense that he would use metaphors to make them understand what he meant. They weren't educated, so Jesus often boiled ideas down to something they would understand.

Lastly, about abortion: The main passage we use against abortion is that God knows each person before they are even born (Ps. 139:13-16). The main idea of the argument is that if God already has a person's life planned out before they are born, it follows that the fetus has the same value as a human. I avoided the argument of whether a fetus is a person; clearly in this context it doesn't matter. (But I believe it is.)

Steve said:
Oh and I think selling all your possessions can be classed as insanity. But one could argue that believing in the afterlife, or that the creator to the universe listens to you is far more insane. Religous belief is meant to appear insane. Jesus acted like a madman. That's what makes him so special right? Maybe it only seems insane by our standards. Maybe it's our hedonistic materialistic morals that make it sound impossible and insane.

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it" (Matt 13:44-46).
I believe in God because I see evidence of Him in the world and in my own relationship with Him, but I do things that seem crazy because I know that I am gaining something of greater value.

Stan said...

Thanks for the input, Wrench. I think it is quite clear that the Exodus passage is not talking about "abortion" or "miscarriage" (because the language doesn't require it and since it specifies "no harm"). I doubt that Steve is still around to read, but thanks.

Caleb said...

I think He literally wants us to sell everything we have and give to the poor. Every single disciple was required to completely forsake his old life before Jesus and come follow Him. We are supposed to imitate Jesus right? Well there is a verse that says "The Son of Man has no place to lay his head." He are supposed to be wandering nomads searching the earth for souls to fill the house of God. He also asks us to "Buy gold refined in the fire." The more we give to the poor in secret the more our Father in heaven will reward us openly. We are to travel lightly, maybe a change of clothes and some personal belongings but to live in a fat house with a nice car and a computer is un-Christlike. He also told Peter to follow him and become fishers of men. We are supposed to quit our jobs and go wander the earth saving people because God wants his house to be filled!!! Gather the poor, the weak, the lame, the blind! Every time you give money the poor you get treasure in heaven! Where your treasure lies there you heart will be also. Now my only issue is how do I sell all this stuff.

Stan said...


You are certainly free to see that how you will. Understand that your approach to "Sell all your possessions" must include "a change of clothes and some personal belongings" because "all" is "all" ... including the computer with which you sent this comment.

But, seriously, you don't actually believe that, do you? Take, for instance, Paul, who did not quit his job to go, but was a tentmaker wherever he went. You don't actually believe that all Christians everywhere are required to abort all income, leave all possessions, surrender all means of living and wander about naked trying to make converts ... right? I mean, in Acts the believers were "breaking bread in their homes." Surely you don't actually believe what you say.

Caleb said...

Do you possess them or do they possess you? Anything that ties you down to one spot is an obstruction to your ability to do the will of The Father. We do not need to be naked but we should not have anything extra nor should we be tied down to one spot. Why do you follow the example of Paul when you could be following the example of Jesus? Did he walk around naked? Absolutely not! But he did not own a home or have a job (besides doing the will of The Father). Where is your treasure?

Caleb said...

If you love your comfortable life more than you want to obey the commands of God then you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Caleb said...

Do not worry about what you will eat or where you will stay for a worker is worthy of his pay. Do you really believe that if you followed the commands of the Son of God that any harm would come to you? Do you really believe that you can justify holding on to your stuff and not be completely submitting to the will of God Almighty? Realize that you are not the owner of anything. You are a steward. It is not really your stuff! When you die you can't take it with you. Therefore, build up treasure in heaven! You do not own your worldly possessions, they own you! They are a hindrance! And it's not about trying to make converts in the way you are thinking. It's about serving and sacrificing. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven!!!!

Stan said...

Fine. Maybe you really believe what you're saying. If so, it will not go unnoticed. I will be able to confirm whether or not you are lying by the news broadcasts that tell us about the guy who was walking around homeless and naked preaching the gospel. Oh, wait, Jesus wasn't naked, was He? Well, no (which was my point). That's because JESUS DIDN'T ACTUALLY MEAN TO SELL ALL YOUR POSSESSIONS. If He did, He failed to do so Himself. On the other hand, if He meant "Sell all your possessions ... except what you feel comfortable keeping", then we're at an impasse, aren't we? No, Caleb, all or nothing. You take it at face value or you don't. All or nothing. Don't waste my time.

Caleb said...

I believe you did not really read my comment with an open heart or else you would not be saying what you just did; so, I will restate it. "Why do you follow the example of Paul when you could be following the example of Jesus? Did he walk around naked? Absolutely not! But he did not own a home or have a job (besides doing the will of The Father). Where is your treasure?" May God bless you and keep you, and may your heart always be open to the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus!

Stan said...

Thanks for the clarification. All clear now. Paul is not inspired, but Jesus is. The disciples were nothing but disobedient followers when they met from house to house.

You've missed the point. Jesus DID NOT SELL ALL HIS POSSESSIONS. When you do, let me know. Oh, whoops! Never mind. You won't be able to.

Caleb said...

Have you ever tried to sell all your possessions to give to the poor? Have you ever even attempted to keep the commandments of the Son of God? P.S. I never said Paul wasn't inspired, I just asked why you would try to follow his example over the example of Christ Jesus.

Stan said...

Since I do not believe this is what Jesus was teaching (because Jesus didn't do it), it would be foolish of me to try to do what I do not believe Jesus taught.

Is there something special about "the commandments of the Son of God"? I try every day to keep the commandments of God ... the Father and the Son.

You do know that Jesus reserved His harshest words for hypocrites, right? You know, like someone who tries to impress rules on other people but is unwilling to keep them himself ... like you.


1. You have completely ignored what I wrote on the text and decided you alone are right when the rest of Christendom has disagreed. Why are you right and the Holy Spirit has failed to tell the rest of the Church? (Matthew Henry, for instance, wrote on Luke 12:33 that it meant, "'Sit loose to this world, and to all your possessions in it: Sell that ye have, and give alms,' that is, 'rather than want wherewith to relieve those that are truly necessitous, sell what you have that is superfluous, all that you can spare from the support of yourselves and families, and give it to the poor. Sell what you have, if you find it a hindrance from or encumbrance in, the service of Christ.'")

2. You have not done what you claim you believe you are supposed to do. It isn't hard. Why not?

3. Jesus didn't do what you claim He commanded us all to do. Why is that?

In light of all this, why are we still having this conversation? I suspect it's because you don't believe it either and are just out to make trouble. Prove me wrong. Sell everything you own. Then I'll listen.

Caleb said...

(Matthew Henry, for instance, wrote on Luke 12:33 that it meant, "'Sit loose to this world, and to all your possessions in it: Sell that ye have, and give alms,' that is, 'rather than want wherewith to relieve those that are truly necessitous, sell what you have that is superfluous, all that you can spare from the support of yourselves and families, and give it to the poor. Sell what you have, if you find it a hindrance from or encumbrance in, the service of Christ.'") - That actually makes a lot of sense to me by the way.

Stan said...

Did you read the post to which you're objecting? My position was the same as Matthew Henry's position. The goal is not "Achieve absolute poverty." The goal is "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:34). The goal is to love Christ more than things. The goal is to recognize that what we have is not ours, but on loan from God. As such, use it for God or get rid of it. Jesus wasn't saying, "Sell everything" because He was demanding that we have nothing. He did have His personal belongings. He was telling us not to be tied to stuff, not to treasure the things we have, not to possess stuff to possess stuff. If, as an example, I can use a computer to minister as God directs, it is not evil to possess a computer.

If you agree with Matthew Henry's assessment, you agree with mine. I think you missed something here.

Oh, and in Jesus's complaints about the Pharisees, He said, "They preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger." Telling all Christians "It is mandatory that you sell everything you own and live in abject poverty" (not Christ's command or practice) and then not doing it yourself would put you in the same category as them. Don't do that.

Caleb said...

Haha you were right all along Stan. I think God just wants us to be willing to sell everything for him. I'm still going to sell whatever I feel that I can afford to get rid of for the greater good, but I understand now that it's not about living in poverty, but about putting God above our possessions. I think this has all been a really good life lesson for me that I will keep to heart. God bless!

Stan said...

"I'm still going to sell whatever I feel that I can afford to get rid of for the greater good ... putting God above our possessions."


Peter said...

Hi Stan,

I gained a great deal from your posting and from the epic exchange with Steve! You showed great perseverance without adopting an unctious saintly demeanour! Thank you so much! It helped me immensely!

On the subject of "sell all YOUR possessions...":
I wonder if biblical concept of 'stewardship' is worth adding to the mix. From the world's perspective, and that includes the legal viewpoint, the followers of Christ might very well appear as though they do own stuff. Yet in the reality of the Kingdom, everything belongs to the King. We are his servants, or as a proper translation would render it 'slaves'. What possession can a slave own? None! Can a slave be a steward? Absolutley! So to world we may appear to be, in some cases, very well off, but God does not look on the outward appearance but upon the heart. Now that is not say that 'riches' do not present a very real danger. They do. The 'deceitfulness of riches' is well covered in scripture. God wisely entrusts us with only that which we can steward under the direction of the King. Anything beyond this is best sold. Anything that we a have stewardship over should be wisely invested for the profit of the King.

As a tiny little example allow me to give a little testimony.
A few years ago, a group of people at work gave me a relatively large sum of money for my birthday. I didn't know what to buy with it. One morning I woke up with the very clear impression from the Holy Spirit that I was to buy a bible. So I dashed of to the nearest Christian bookshop. As I stood before the huge display of many bibles my eyes seemed drawn to a particular bible. As I reached out to touch it, to my great surprise I burst into tears. I knew immediately this was the bible. I composed myself and bought it.
This bible was immediately very precious to me. I carried like a newborn baby. I could hardly allow anyone to look at it never mind touch it. A few days later I was having fellowship with some friends and a close friend who has a strong prophetic gifting asked if he could look at it. I could hardly bear to part with it. He looked at it then announced that "This book will be used for preaching!"
I didn't say much but in my heart I said, "You've got that one wrong Colin'
A few days later I was praying with another small group of friends. There was a lady there who I had never met before. The moment we began to pray and minister to one another the Holy spirit said most emphatically "I want you give your new bible to this lady."
This burned like a fire in my heart and the presence of the Lord was unusually strong. As our time came to an end, I blurted out to this new friend, "God wants you to have this!" And virtually thrust the my precious bible into her hands.
She was very moved and eventually said "That is just amazing! I was struggling to choose a new bible. The Lord said that He would provide a new bible for me and that I wasn't to worry. You see I ham studying to be a local preacher..."
I cannot express how moved we all were and the presence of the Lord became so heavy upon us that we were hardly able to speak, let alone stand!
A few days later I went back to the bookshop to buy myself another copy. Big mistake! I just can't get along with it! The lady is now a well established preacher and absolutely loves her copy!

Stan said...

Hi, Peter, and thanks for the comment.

Yes! Stewardship is essential here. "We do not own anything" is key, especially in a world that questions whether God owns everything. Maintaining the viewpoint that "Everything I have is on loan" and, even more, "I am tasked with taking proper care of what God has assigned me to watch" ought to make all sorts of good corrections to faulty thinking.

Composer said...

All I see from this article is those ' claiming to be christians ' finding illegitimate excuses to cling to their worldly goods & wealth.

I need only mention the Poor Widow -

And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. 3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: 4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. (Luke 21:2-4) KJV Story book

You people are NOT legitimate christians but akin to the Scribes!

That should legitimately silence you jesus' frauds; but there is more if required?

Stan said...


As you apparently own clothing, a computer, likely a television and automobile, I'd suggest you back off the hypocrisy. Since no one in history has ever sold everything they own (and survived for very long), I'd be happy to entertain your explanation of how even Jesus Himself did this. No one sells all their possessions. Even the homeless have possessions. Since that cannot be what Jesus meant without making Jesus a sinner Himself, please feel free to offer another explanation, but don't offer your own hypocrisy as evidence that I'm mistaken.

Philip said...

Wow! you have had this post up for 6 years and you still have comments coming in! Must touch a nerve somewhere!

Just wanted to add something:

When Jesus sent out His 12 disciples, he said this in Matt 10:9,10

9 “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.

In Luke 9:3,4 -
He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. 4 Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.

Notice that Jesus didn't ask His disciples to travel naked - but He did tell them NOT to take anything apart from what they were already wearing. This is just to point out to you that Jesus's statements about selling everything couldn't obviously apply to the clothes one is wearing but it did apply to everything else.

Matt 19:29 -
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

Notice that Jesus is making a comment about those who have left their sources of income - fields.. for His sake? Also, the comment about receiving 100 times as much may be also in this life?

And later on in Luke 22:35-36 -
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.
36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. ”

A few points stand out:

Jesus asked the disciples NOT to take anything with them when they were initially sent out. That was more like a practice run and Jesus obviously wanted them to learn something from the experience of not taking anything with them.

The point of the exercise becomes clearer in Luke 22 when Jesus asked them if they had lacked anything even though they were sent out with nothing. The disciples answered "nothing." So it seems to me that Jesus was trying to teach the disciples that they can trust completely in God for provision and that He won't let them down.

So the lesson that Jesus was trying to teach the disciples was not merely about not being tied down by possessions, but also to experience God's miraculous provisions when they relied only on Him.

Something else: In Luke 22, Jesus asks His disciples to get themselves a sword. I am not sure why. But what I want to focus on is that Jesus asked the disciples to sell a cloak and buy the sword - indicating that He was aware that the disciples did not have the money to purchase a sword. But He did ask them to take a purse with them on their journeys from that point on. So it is likely that the disciples had a little bit of money but not a lot - and Jesus wanted them to take this little money with them.

Philip said...

Continuing from the earlier post:

So this is how I understand it:

1. Jesus did tell ALL of His disciples to sell their possessions and to seek Him solely.

2. The point of the exercise was to teach them about trusting God completely - and not merely about not having their hearts set on material things. If we are to learn to trust God completely, then we will have to not merely be WILLING to sell all our possessions but actually DO that - else it remains a nice fancy concept in our heads and we won't really understand it in our bones (so to speak).

3. Jesus didn't tell His disciples to continuously keep selling all their possessions. But there is enough to indicate that they were to sell all of their possessions about the time they decided to "follow" Christ.. which is to say when you reach a point in your relationship with Christ where you get serious about following in His footsteps.

4. Post this experience we will still not be in need because God will provide for us (see Luke 12). But we would have learned by then that with God we will lack nothing even if we don't have seasons where we have no possessions.

5. By selling all our posessions. Jesus wasn't referring to the clothes you are wearing. I state this again because you have mentioned nakedness multiple times in the comments and I don't see why you do that given that Jesus explicitly states that the disciples are asked not to take any *EXTRA* shirt.

Just in case I am accused of hypocrisy and ONLY for this one reason, I want to make a disclosure here - My wife and I are in the process of selling all of our possessions because we believe God is asking us to do that. We don't know the next step - but I am sure God will reveal that in His time.

I hope this blesses you and other readers.

Composer said...

Stan said...

As you apparently own clothing, a computer, likely a television and automobile, I'd suggest you back off the hypocrisy.

Me: Nah! the hypocrisy remains only yours & those hypocrites like you!

I am NOT a believer and never wish to be a Story book jesus' follower so your Story book bible is a waste of paper to everyone frankly but also to me in particular!

Stan said...
Since no one in history has ever sold everything they own (and survived for very long), I'd be happy to entertain your explanation of how even Jesus Himself did this.

Me: I thought you people claimed it was god?

Of course no one has obeyed because outside of Story book land you are ALL disobedient frauds!

Part 1 of 2

Stan said...

Composer, thanks for the clarification. Since my intention was to explain to Christ's followers what Christ meant and NOT defend the Christian religion to skeptics, I think we're done here. Since my requirement is "friendly dialog" and your aim is to be insulting, I think we're done here. And when I claim to believe something and then carry through on that belief, that's not "hypocrisy". It's certainly not the level of claiming to believe nothing and then complaining when others don't meet the absolute lack of standard required by your belief. So I think we're done here. Bottom line, I'm pretty sure you can find a host of other places to argue Christianity with Christians without having to bother with mine. The argument with you would be like wrestling with a pig. You end up muddy and then you realize the pig is just having fun. Trying to actually reason on any of this would be pointless. Then ... we are done.

Stan said...


Since you're pretty sure that Jesus meant to literally sell all your belongings that you have (based on what you've written) actually sold all your belongings. It would appear, however, that you understand Jesus to have meant only extra belongings. I'm not at all sure what that means. Nor can I quite figure out how "sell all your belongings" means "just the extras" let alone how to calculate what's "extra". Only on shirt? One change of clothes? On house? Or is that too much? But we'll just disagree, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Stan, I'm not sure I understand your viewpoint precisely enough. Are you saying you believe it is okay to be extremely rich and/or indulge in expensive luxuries with money that could otherwise be used to alleviate others' suffering? Or are you simply pointing out that giving up ALL of one's possessions seems impractical, so you do not expect that passage to be taken literally, although you still agree with the general principle behind it?

Once I know a little more about your stance, I will be able to provide a comment with my opinion.

Stan said...

I think it is clear that God gives riches to some who are able to distribute those riches for God's work. I know, for instance, of a fellow who started an extremely successful business. He chose to live off of 10% of his income and give 90% to God's work. He was rich. That wasn't bad. We know that "The Lord sends poverty and wealth" (1 Sam 2:7). Jesus said, "Make friends for yourselves by means of worldly wealth" (Luke 16:9). Thus, there is a proper use of wealth.

The problem is worship. If I worship, hold, keep to myself, cling to, even "own" my possessions, it's a problem. It is a violation of the First Commandment against other gods. We are to keep ourselves free from the love of money (Heb 13:5). We know that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil (1 Tim 6:10), that greed is idolatry (Col 3:5).

I believe that the woodenly literal "sell every single thing you own" is impractical and unreasonable based on all the I read in Scripture including the words and deeds of Christ. On the other hand, I agree with A.W. Tozer who said we should, "Never own anything. Get rid of the sense of possessing!" If all I have belongs to the Lord, what do I "possess"? That's the mindset.

Composer said...

The Poor Widow puts you people to shame!

Not only do you self-acclaimed believers make excuses to keep your worldy goods (as much as is possible to attain) but the fundamental motivation of your beliefs is the same as your Story book jesus i.e. one of selfish greed and lusts for divine rewards for your efforts.

Take away those promises of divine rewards also and you wouldn't be a christian at all!

Stan said...

Composer, you don't seem to find it odd to be speaking in a radically two-faced method, do you? You classify the Bible as a "storybook" and then use it as an example of how we ought to be ashamed. You assure us that Jesus didn't even exist and then argue about what He meant when He said ... anything. And then you have the audacity to suggest that you know my motivations when you can't even get your own reasoning straight? Look, either it's all a fabrication -- the Bible and Christ and all -- in which case nothing matters, not faith or religion or how we understand it or even your existence, or it is real and worth a dialog, in which case your entire premise that it's false is out the window. You can't premise that it's false at its core and then argue about the peripherals. It doesn't work.

Look, I don't believe in ghosts. For me, then, to argue about the behavior of ghosts or what they would look like in a certain situation would be mindless. I don't believe in them. You don't believe in the Bible, in God, in Jesus, in any of it. Arguing about the meaning some "fictional character" intended when He said something fictional is mindless. I know you won't seek salvation. At least seek sanity.

Anonymous said...

"I know, for instance, of a fellow who started an extremely successful business. He chose to live off of 10% of his income and give 90% to God's work. He was rich. That wasn't bad."

The thing is, most people, including a majority of so-called "socialists", will NOT have a problem with a wealthy person such as he, since he is giving 90% of his money away. (Provided that he is giving his money to help others in NEED and not just helping to build a fancy church and/or a mansion for a pastor, for instance).

Problem is, the person you speak of is EXTREMELY rare as far as the percentage of his income that he donates. Most multi-millionaires and billionaires do not give 80% or 40% or 20% or EVEN 10% of their incomes to charity. A majority of them do not even give 5%. The first question is whether they really NEED to keep $100 million or $5 billion for any reasonable intent or purpose (while millions are STARVING in the same world).

The more provocative question is whether they really DESERVE that money in God's eyes (while millions are starving in the same world). Let's take someone who makes $20 million; that person makes 400 times as much as someone whose salary is $50,000. Now, does the person making $50 million realistically work 400 times harder overall than the hard-working $50,000 guy? I can bet he doesn't work even work 40 times harder or FOUR times harder for that matter. (Think about what it would be to LITERALLY work 4 times harder, on every working day, than someone making $50,000). So let's say this wealthy person is a businessman or news anchor or athlete. Does his work possess 400 times the value of a someone making $50,000, such as a teacher? Or does his work possess 100 times the value of someone who is paid generously at $200,000, such as a doctor? When considering that those millions of dollars could be used to save hundreds or thousands of lives if donated to the right place(s), I could almost bet my life that I know what the general scope of God's thoughts on this matter would be. What do you think?

Stan said...

My point was not that it was common. Here's my point. If Jesus meant that we are all to sell all our possessions, then Jesus contradicted Scripture. Indeed, Jesus contradicted Himself. I gave biblical references that say that God gives wealth and it's possible to use it correctly. Jesus would be saying, then, "You know that part of the Bible that says that God gives wealth? Well, He does it sinfully. And you know that part where I told you to use wealth to buy friends? Well, I was wrong." Or, to put it in logical terms, if I can find one clear exception to "All wealth is sinful", then it is a clear indication that not all wealth is sinful.

"Deserve", on the other hand, is a pointless question. First, a doctor is not paid based on production, but on 1) education and 2) need. Gold, for instance, is valuable because it's rare. Doctors are rare and take a long time to get to where they can provide for the needs of their patients. Your approach would be to say, "Well, too bad. Spend all that money in education and all those years in learning and then we'll pay you the same thing that we pay our local carpenters because you don't do more work than they do." Good luck with getting enough doctors. Beyond that, however, "deserve" is not the issue. We deserve eternal damnation and immediate death. Let's not look for what we deserve. God doesn't give what we deserve. But here's the counter question. I understand that you seem to be saying that all Christians ought to divest themselves of all wealth (although that still doesn't line up with Jesus's words of all possessions) because so many people are needy. Our real goal, apparently is to help the needy. Or, in your words, "to save hundreds or thousands of lives". Now that is the social gospel, to be sure, but is it the biblical gospel?

I see where Jesus commanded His disciples to "Go ... and make disciples." I don't see where He commanded His disciples to "Go and save lives" or "Go and eradicate poverty" or "Go and live in abject poverty." If, then, the primary focus is "Go and make disciples" and there are people who have money who need to be made disciples, how many of them are going to hear the Word of all there is available is homeless poor people spreading the Word?

A few other observations. 1) Can wealth be improperly used? Absolutely! If we were to line up all those who have wealth (which, comparing America to, say, Africa, would be 99%), I'd suggest that 95% (being generous) are misusing the wealth they have. 2) Do people get paid high dollars when they shouldn't? Absolutely! I think of entertainers and sports stars who produce nothing and earn everything and I'm right there with you. "Really? Should they be getting that much?" 3) Does everyone agree with me on this topic? Absolutely not. Surely you know of orders of priests who take a vow of poverty, move into monasteries, and remain in abject poverty for the rest of their lives. So, if that is the correct understanding, why don't most genuine Christians do so? Or would you suggest that the few hundred or so that are locked away in monasteries are the only genuine Christians?

I still stand here. Greed is idolatry. The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. Wealth is often wrong. Not always. Keeping consistent with Scripture and Christ, I think that we ought not have a mindset of ownership nor a love of money, but neither does God require that all Christians divest themselves of all possessions. And, I'd like to add that this is probably a big problem in the affluent countries of the world, including mine. But I don't agree that God would legislate communism if He could.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I do believe that saving lives whenever possible should be one of the foremost goals in any true Christian's life. I say this simply in order to avoid hypocrisy.

What if YOU were born into poverty and about to starve to death, while you watch a few 18-year-olds drive by in Ferraris which they inherited?

What if it was YOUR wife or child who is dying of a curable disease because you can't afford the $500k treatment...while an executive in the insurance company which denied coverage to your wife just bought his wife a $3 million ring, or the doctor who could have saved your child just bought his third mansion?

Would you just say "it's THEIR money, they deserve it" or "oh well, life's not fair" and leave it at that? I'll be honest with you...I wouldn't. Because I can vouch that in God's eyes, every human being deserves food and health care more than any rich person deserves luxuries. I don't know how any true Christian can deny that.

Hamster said...

I don't think you can read what you want into what Christ has to say. It's like cherry picking the verses that you want to hear and rationalizing the verses you don't like.
Christ said that if we want to follow him we need to get rid of all our possessions.
Because possessions keep us from becoming true followers. We can't serve God and money. We can't hang on to our computers and cars and furniture and 401K programs and still be true followers of Christ.

That's why even his disciples were disillusioned when they heard Christ say they had to sell their possessions and give the money to the poor. It wasn't going to be an easy thing to do. They weren't going to be able hang on to their inheritance, their houses, their nice clothes , their money and be followers of Christ at the same time.

That's why there are almost no true followers of Christ today other than, perhaps, monks and priests who have given up all their possessions.

Being a follower of Christ is a difficult calling.

Stan said...

Anonymous, I don't know what I said that would cause you to mention "saving lives whenever possible". I don't know what that has to do with the question. It appears that you are saying that if you see someone with money, it would be the right thing for a Christian who is following this particular teaching of Christ to take that away from them and give to everyone. It seems like you're saying that not only should no Christian own anything at all, but everyone should own nothing at all and everyone should share all things in common. Getting that from what Jesus said or in opposition to what I said is beyond me, but rest assured I will have to disagree.

Stan said...


Here's my biggest problem. No one in all of Scripture ever sold all their possessions. Including Jesus. (Remember, He had that very expensive robe that was too valuable to tear when He was crucified, so they gambled for it instead.) If Jesus meant "Sell all your possessions" and HE DIDN'T DO IT, Jesus failed to be a follower of Christ -- truly problematic. If, on the other hand, you say, "Well, no, He didn't mean sell all your possessions", then you're right back where I am. You're "reading in what you want into what Christ has to say". You're not taking Him at what He is saying; you're trying to understand what He meant.

And it's pretty easy for a non-follower of Christ to assure us that He meant something else, isn't it? I mean, you still have a computer, furniture, a bed, possessions, right? So pointing at others and saying, "They ought to live in a way that I'm not willing to live" just doesn't work very well.

Hamster said...

Christ said two things.
1. Sell your possessions
2. Give the proceeds to the poor.

Those are hard things to do.

Maybe a the rich man would have been willing to get rid of his possessions if only he could give them to his wife and kids.

But Christ was one step ahead of him.
He told the man to sell them and give the proceeds to the poor!!!
That's right. Give away everything he owned to STRANGERS...not to his wife or kids!!!

Can you imagine giving up your home, your car, your 401K, your savings, follow Christ????

If being a follower of Christ were easy the rich man would have said "OK. I'll put my belongings in storage and put my money in a blind trust" and then I'll follow you."

No way.

Christ asked him to do the unthinkable....separate himself from his worldly possessions.

And the task of leaving all his worldly goods and following Christ was so difficult a request that the rich man turned away and left Christ because he had so much to give up.

Being a Christian isn't just a matter of saying some magic worlds like "I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior".

Being a Christian is a lifestyle choice where you leave all your worldly possessions behind...all the things you've worked so hard to buy. The boats, the jet skis, the TV's , the iphones, the furniture, the artwork, the house, the vacation home, the retirement account....all those things that people everywhere strive so hard to KEEP....and trust in God to take care of you like the sparrows or the flowers in the fields. They don't work hard to try to own anything....yet God provides for them.

If we are not willing to give up your worldly possessions to follow Christ...we are no different from the rich man who turned away sad that Christ had asked him to do the unimaginable...part with his worldly possession and all his money.

We are that rich man!!

Hamster said...

We know nothing about what Christ owned or didn't own.
But let's say he did "own" a valuable robe. Do you think he cared much for it. If someone else needed it do you think Christ would have said "NO. get your own. This is mine"?
When you speak of possessions there are many kinds of things you can possess and still be a true follower of Christ.
In my garage I have a black plastic bag full of things that once had great value to me, but now are worthless. In fact, I plan to give everything in that bag to Goodwill when they come around again.
It's true, they are technically my "possessions" but I really could care less what happens to the contents of that bag. If someone stole them, if they were destroyed in a fire , if rats got in and chewed them up...I could care less.
They mean NOTHING to me.

On the other hand, inside my house I have a safe where I keep things I really care about: money, jewelry, documents. If these possessions were lost, stolen or destroyed I would feel a deep sense of loss. I would be depressed. Their loss would affect my life.

These are the possessions that I think Christ was referring to when he told the rich man to sell "all he owned" and give the money to the poor.

These are the things that a true Christian must be willing to part with if he wants to follow Christ.

So, yes, Christ may have owned something...but I believe they were like the things in my black plastic bag. Just stuff with no meaning and no value.

In Thailand devout Buddhist monks must give up all their worldly possessions. They own nothing except their robes. In the morning they go out into the streets and beg for food. They must eat whatever is given to them
They live in the temple or in the forest.

Their lives are much closer to the lifestyle I think Christ was referring to when he said "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

Hamster said...

Your comment: "So pointing at others and saying, "They ought to live in a way that I'm not willing to live" just doesn't work very well."

I'm not trying to throw stones here. Only to point out that there are probably far fewer real followers of Christ than we'd like to believe.
The requirements for being a "follower of Christ" are not simply saying some magic words like "I accept Jesus as my personal savior" and're a Christian.

Being a Christian means following the teachings of Christ. And Christ is pretty clear in the Scriptures that clinging to personal belongings and storing up wealth for the future are activities that make it hard to become a Christian.

That's why I admire Christ but would never claim to be a true follower. I just don't qualify because I like my worldly life and possession too much..although understand what Christ is saying about collecting "things".
In fact the love of money and worldly possessions is not only the message Christ warned against. It's also the exact same message that Buddha warned his followers about 500 years before Christ was born.

Hamster said...

To the question of what Christ meant when he exhorted his followers to sell their possessions and distribute the proceeds to the poor, you might want to see how the early Christians interpreted Christs words.
In Acts 2:42

They continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and prayer.

Fear came on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together, and had all things in common. They sold their possessions and goods, and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need.

So the early Christians DID sell their possessions, form a commune and distribute the proceeds to those who had need.

Today's Christians no longer practice this

Hamster said...

Your comment"So pointing at others and saying, "They ought to live in a way that I'm not willing to live" just doesn't work very well."

I think you misunderstand what I am trying to say.

It is this: Many people claim to be Christians. When the rich man asked Jesus what he had to do to attain eternal live, Christ replied:‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’

The rich man replied to Christ
All these I have kept,” “What do I still lack?

That's when Jesus dropped the bombshell “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

But the rich man wasn't ready to part with his precious possessions: his car, his house, his jewelry, his artwork, his retirement savings account. And he most certainly couldn't stand to see his possessions, sold and given away to complete strangers...cutting out his wife and kids.

Result: When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Christ was asking the man to sacrifice his most cherished possessions. And he couldn't do it.

I am like that young man. I can't give up my possessions. I am not willing to sell them and distribute the proceeds to the poor.

That is why I cannot claim to be a follower of Christ. I am a great admirer of the man...but not a true follower.

And I believe that most Christians out there are like me. They know what they need to do to have eternal life...but they are not willing to cut the ties between their possessions and following the master

Stan said...

Look, let's go through this slowly. Christ said, "Sell all your possessions." Taking a purist approach and examining every word, taking them at purely face value, we have "sell" meaning "Don't give away or destroy, but put on the market and obtain money for." We have "all" meaning "not some, not most, but every last one." We have "your" meaning "not those of other people, but what belongs to you." We have "possessions" meaning "that which you possess -- own -- outside of your own basic skin." Taking all of this at pure, unexamined, face value, no one ever did this. Jesus possessed clothes. The disciples of the first century possessed places to live, clothing, bedding. In fact, it is not possible to live without possessing something. There are basic necessities that humans must possess in order to survive. Clothing, shelter, food. It is not possible, then, to "Sell all your possessions."

So we step back. We say, "Well, He didn't mean that in a purely, wooden, literal way. He meant ..." and we all step into an interpretation mode. One extreme will interpret to mean "... nothing at all. He just meant that we shouldn't love being rich." Another extreme will interpret to mean "... everything possible. No one on the planet should ever own a house, a car, a dog, or a retirement plan ... anything of any consequence at all." But no one reads it to mean to sell all your possessions. Even the monks who took vows of poverty owned a robe.

So, here we all are, in the same boat. No one takes it purely in a wooden literal fashion except, of course, for the skeptic who assumes that all of Christianity is a lie, so there's no reason to think that this isn't one of them. We're all trying to figure out how much is "all" since none of us understand it to mean "all".

So, going with my point that Jesus may have owned a valuable robe, you suggested that Jesus didn't love it (so to speak). He didn't grasp at it, demand it, live for it. This, you suggest, is what Jesus had in mind. Don't own what you possess. Don't grab onto, covet, cling to, demand what you possess. Be willing to part with anything you have. Funny thing. This is exactly what I said was the point of Jesus's words. We are to own nothing. It all belongs to God. We use it as He allows. We give it as He wishes. We do not possess it, do not "own" it, do not demand or cling to it. What we have belongs to Him. It seems like we're in agreement here, not conflict.

And then you suggest that the only good Christian is the one who lives in a cave, owns only a tattered cloth for clothing, and doesn't even have a job, but only begs for a living. And we're in disagreement again. Given the number of rich people in Scripture that were devout followers of Christ, I'll have to question your conclusion there.

Oh, and, by the way, according to the Scriptures in Acts, the 1st church sold what they owned in excess, not all that they owned. They sold possessions, but not all their possessions. And none of it was mandatory. Ananias and Sapphira were killed not because they didn't give all, but because they lied about what they gave. Early Christians did not form a commune. They did sell excess and give to those in need. That does still happen.

I will say, however, that it is a problem in the American church, but not because we don't sell every last possession we have. Instead, it's because we fail at the simplest command. Like the rich man, we worship our possessions and trust them rather than Christ. That's a far bigger problem than the definition of "Sell all your possessions."

Stan said...

My biggest concern, Hamster, is that you have a misunderstanding of what it means to be a Christian. And I do mean "concern", not "argument" or "fight" or "debate". Not wagging a finger or trying to get you corrected. My concern is for you.

Hamster: "That is why I cannot claim to be a follower of Christ. I am a great admirer of the man...but not a true follower."

The suggestion here is that the only true follower of Christ is the one who follows Him perfectly. The idea here is that the only way to be a Christian is to be a perfect Christian. The point of Christianity, however, is radically different. The point of the Gospel is that Christ died for our sins, that we are not saved by becoming perfect, but by grace. We don't work at becoming good people; Christ paid for our sin.

Hamster, regardless of the question about selling possessions, I would urge you to seek Christ not to work at being a perfect human being, but to receive the forgiveness He offers and come into a saving relationship with Him. That produces a Christ-follower. That is what Christianity is about.

Anonymous said...

Stan, note that I never implied that no one should own anything. On the other hand, if a billionaire could save thousands and thousands of lives by giving 99% of his wealth away, and mathematically he would STILL be left with a minimum of $100 million after giving 99% of his wealth, I can essentially vouch that Christ would expect him to give at least that much money away. I say "at least" because $100 million is still thousands of times what the average American makes...did the billionaire work 1000 times, or even 10 times, harder than the average American? Realistically, is his SINGLE-HANDED, INDIVIDUAL work contribution worth thousands of times more than that of someone earning $100,000? I think we touched on that before- while I'm not saying that someone's wealth must be exactly proportional to the intensity or value of his work, I can't fathom why God wouldn't expect it to be within reason considering those two variables. No one person deserves to hoard an amount of wealth that could otherwise be used to save thousands of lives- this is what I was trying to get at in my earlier post.

But to be fair we shouldn't single out the super-rich. If a middle class family of four lives in a 6000 square foot house worth $600k, I can essentially vouch that Christ would expect them to be willing to move to a 3000 sq. ft. house costing about half as much (which is still a very nice house, I might add), in order to save the lives of a few people who can't afford health care, or hundreds of starving people.

In general I would be somewhat reluctant to make conjectures regarding the thoughts or expectations of Christ or God, but this is a topic that I am most confident about: saving lives prevails over luxuries. To be more precise, I believe it is certainly possible (and even probable) that God considers ALL luxuries sinful as long as people are unable to afford food or health care, etc. However, my guess is that God might be okay with people enjoying luxuries that they have LITERALLY worked for. That means no million-dollar inheritances, and less obviously, virtually nobody's single-handed work is worth millions of dollars, let alone billions, relative to the average American annual wage of about $40,000 (in the richest country). Of course, those are just my guesses and I could be wrong just like anyone else, but like I said before, this is the one issue about which I would actually feel quite comfortable predicting the thoughts of Christ and/or God.

To simplify what I said, I believe Jesus told the rich man to "sell all his possessions and give to the poor" BECAUSE every human being deserves necessities (food, health care, etc.) more than any rich person deserves luxuries in God's eyes.

Overall, are you saying you disagree with that statement?

Stan said...

Anonymous, let's see if I can clarify.

1. Jesus gave expectations/commands that I do not expect the enemies of Christ to obey. Your average billionaire won't be giving his riches to the poor because Jesus said to. The only way you're going to achieve that is by force.

2. This, of course, would extend to the "rich" that comprise almost all of America. (Indeed, the vast majority of America's "poor" are rich by most of the standards of the world.)

3. I do not believe that the primary motivation of Christ in commanding His followers to release their possessions was so that those with less could have more. Nor do I believe that Christ's main thought was to save lives. I say that with a fair amount of confidence, in fact. Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men that they can see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Biblically, greed is equated with idolatry. Biblically, the love of money (not money, but the love of it) is at the root of all kinds of evil. Relenquishing idolatry and distancing ourselves from evils is important. Bringing glory to God by doing so is paramount. (And, of course, I do not believe that if God thought that "every human being deserves necessities" that He would be incapable of providing every human with the necessities they deserved.)

4. I am not disagreeing with the notion that we love money too much and that we (who claim to be followers of Christ) ought to be surrendering more of what we have to meet the needs of others who don't have.

A question that no one has ever addressed (and, therefore, I'm not asking it of you, actually, but in general) is the question of who will take the gospel to the rich. Many have argued that we ought to be in rags living in poverty owning little or nothing and giving everything we have to others. If that is what God expected of His own, who would take the gospel to the rich? They're not going to listen to these people in rags. Who is going to do it?

Another question I have wondered without answer (so, again, not asking it of you). If there was a magic button put in front of you that, when pressed, would automatically increase the financial condition of every person on the planet so that they were above the necessary income to survive, but it would also increase the riches of the rich proportionally, would you push it?

Hamster said...

1. I believe that Christ was poor and owned very little

Luke 9:58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

2. We know Christ expected his followers to live simply
Mark 6:7 And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; 6:8 And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse 6:9 But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.

3. We know that Christ expected his true followers to sell their possessions and give to the poor and follow him

Matthew 19:

21Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

(Luke 14:26-27, 33)So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple."

4. And we know that Christ's disciples followed his command literally

Matthew 19:27Then Peter said to him (Jesus), “We’ve given up everything to follow you. "

5. And we know that those who followed the apostles after Christ's death also gave shed their worldly possession

Acts 2: 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.

(Acts 4:32). All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions
was his own, but they shared everything they had.

When I read the entire context of the New Testament I see time after time Christians shedding their possessions and sharing with those in need .

It's easy to take apart the words of Scripture to justify anything: slavery, racial segregation, war, killing, polygamy, the "prosperity" gospel, name it, and there's a Bible verse that people will use to override the message and spirit of Christ and justify whatever they want the bible to say
That's why so many Christians reject Christ's command to feed and cloth the poor, or his message not to divorce, or his message of peace , forgiveness and turning the other cheek... instead of war.

Read the life of Christ again with an open mind. Get an overview of what Christ was trying to say. What was his important message.
I try not to get hung up on the "popular" Christian causes like abortion , gay marriage , smoking, drugs, drinking, X rated movies.
Concentrate on the things he says over and over and over again.

Here is the message that reoccurs over and over again in one form or another in Christ's messages

Luke 12: 22Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifeb? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

27“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Listen to the overall message of Christ.

Stan said...


Here's the thing. The goal here is not -- never has been -- to "take apart" the words of Scripture "to justify" anything. I'm frankly sick and tired of being told that. Attributing to me a despicable motivation like that when I possess no such desire is insulting and unkind ... oh, and wrong. My goal is -- has always been -- to understand what Jesus said and meant.

So, you believe I'm some sort of evil person trying to justify ... what ... whatever you think I'm trying to justify while you are a self-proclaimed "admirer" but not a follower of Christ. You are apparently deeply concerned about whether or not people are rich -- other people, not you. You admit that you have more than you should and are unwilling to do anything about it. You are not concerned, on the other hand, about the mass murders of millions of children and won't do anything about that, either. To you, the "overall message of Christ" is poverty as a lifestyle. This has a very simple biblical term, and it was the one that Christ was most animated about. It's called "hypocrisy". Hypocrisy is when I condemn something in others that I do and demand that they repent but I won't. It was the message of the Pharisees for whom Christ reserved His harshest words.

You don't argue that Christ wants us to sell all our possessions. Therefore, you do as I do; you try to understand what He meant when He said, "Sell all your possessions." But, to you, when I do it I'm trying to justify sin and when you do it you aren't trying to justify something. You just claim to be not a follower of Christ and bemoan those who are for having ... much of anything at all.

So, look, let's try this. It is insulting to me to hear over and over again that I'm trying to justify something I'm not by twisting the words of my Lord and Savior when I'm not. The rule of commenting on my blog is "a friendly discussion of issues", and being intentionally insulting is not "friendly". Further, you've completely missed the message of Christ and the whole of Scripture. It is not "be poor". It is "repent". It is "saved by grace". And while you don't care if unborn children are murdered as a matter of convenience but are offended that everyone with anything (apparently more than you have) is evil, perhaps you ought to take your concerns elsewhere. You believe that true followers of Christ must live in poverty. You don't. Since Christ said, "No man comes to the Father but by Me" and you do not claim to be a follower of the only path to God, perhaps you should look to more serious concerns than whether or not I concur with your reading of Jesus's words on the topic of enforced poverty which you won't follow anyway. Please, if this is your one-note concern, feel free to argue your non-theology on someone else's blog from here on out.

Hamster said...

Sorry you took my comments as personal criticism.
I certainly didn't mean it that way and I apologize if you were offended by something I said that hit a raw nerve.
Nice discussing this with you

Stan said...

No, Hamster, it wasn't a raw nerve. It is the sheer hypocrisy of "You need to do this ... but I have no intention of doing it." It's the "holier-than-thou" pharisaical approach of "You know, any good Christian obeys Christ" without taking the time to figure out what Christ said, understand what He intended, or aim to do it yourself. Jesus comforted sinners in His time, but He cursed hypocrites. Your approach is the definition of hypocrisy.

Follower of Yeshua said...

Living vs. Existing

Fellow Bereans,

In consideration of Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler, what a test it is to each of us to examine what in our lives are idols and/or a source of pride. What a call by our Lord to set our eyes on things above and trust in Him alone. All that said, many points made in this ongoing discussion were valid and righteous, and yet, there was still a gaping hole in the conversation that left me uneasy. We don’t need to get silly and zealous over the words of our Lord, lest we become like the Pharisees, but this whole discussion that has taken place is certainly a valid one as it causes one to ask, what does it mean to truly follow Jesus. Let us be sober in our examination.

By the Lord’s providence, I opened a new window and visited as I had meant to listen to a message entitled “Living vs. Existing”. I believe the points expressed fill in a lot of the missing pieces of this conversation. Both believer and nonbeliever alike would do well to take the time to listen to it and ponder over it, and for believers to further examine it against the Word, and decide for themselves. Before you do so however, let us remember that many Jewish people have not yet come to recognize their Messiah (Jesus), and therefore, most messages on are not in agreeance with Christianity. There is a small side mention or two in this particular message of Kabbalah, which again is not biblical. However, this message is quite fabulous and satisfies this discussion on the rich young ruler and what Jesus was asking of Him.

So Believers, as you listen to it, let us remind ourselves Who we live for, and why we die to ourselves. Let us also remember the darkness that we were rescued from as we respond to the inquiries of those who are yet searching for the Truth. They are caught in the same smoke and mirrors that we once were, and it is only by God’s grace that we can speak from the other side of the fence.

And to you non-believers, you are here for a reason, it is not a mistake. The answer is the Son of God, Jesus, whose name is Yeshua, which means salvation, because He is Salvation.

Lizabeth Parr said...

I guess that's why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight all the parts of the Bible that make us feel good, and ignore all the other parts that are too hard. Or we can at least explain them away.

Stan said...

Well, I would want to say to you "I guess that's why God invented brains, so we can try to read and understand what's being said," but I doubt it would help much. If it makes you feel better to think that Jesus was rightly insane to command His followers to "sell all your possessions" when He did not nor did they and it makes you feel good to disregard simple, standard reading techniques that help us understand what is being said, then, by all means, sell all your possessions. I personally consider it rude and unkind to not take the time to understand what someone says to me (and that rudeness is magnified when it's Christ doing the talking), but if you're happy with folks not attempting to understand your words and simply taking you at blank, face value, more power to you. In that case I have to bemoan your apparently woeful ignorance in suggesting that God invented highlighters. Or would you prefer I try to look beyond your simple words and figure out what you actually mean?

Mike said...

Hey Stan

I see that this was posted a while ago, but I hope to get your thoughts on this.

Regardless of how you read this - literally or as hyperbole - Jesus' command for the rich young ruler only further shows how impossible it is for him, or anyone for that matter, to be saved through works. So what if he did give away all his possessions? That does not fix the biggest problem of all: Sin and a broken relationship with God.

We're very much hung up on what we can do to be good or moral people, but Jesus didn't come to end hunger, bring peace, or make us 'better' people. He came to show us that we're rotten to the core, unable to obey the commandments, and in need of salvation. This is the basic gospel - just knowing that there's nothing you can do to earn salvation, and receiving forgiveness through faith in Jesus.

At the same time, there is of course conduct that is expected of someone saved, and you see that in example the Acts 2 church in the individual lives of each of the church members. Living in community, and selling and giving as each member had need, as well as reaching out to the unreached and destitute. These are things characterized as the result of lives changed by God.

I guess my point is that there is an underlying message to the rich young ruler. He could have still given away all his possessions and still not been right with God. It's a story about how much we come up short and are unable to achieve salvation by our own works. In fact, much of Jesus' ministry was exposing the flawed efforts of man trying to achieve their own salvation - just look at the Pharisees, they obeyed every command. Jesus said it best in the very same passage: What is impossible with men, is possible with God.

Thanks again for this topic, I enjoyed reading through it as well as all the comments. Hope to hear your thoughts!


Stan said...

One quick point. Jesus could not be "saved through works" because He never needed saving. But I get the gist off your comment.

Certainly Jesus went to great lengths to demonstrate the impossibility of our meeting God's requirements for heaven. We already had the laws, but He said, "You've heard ... but I tell you ..." and heaped it on further. "Oh, you think you haven't committed adultery? Well I'll tell you that lust is adultery. You think you haven't murdered? I'll tell you that hate is murder." He ended up with "You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Not gonna happen.

Now, Jesus did tell the rich young ruler to sell all his possessions, but that was only one of the times He said it. I think that the reason He said it to the young man was because he said, "All these things I have kept from my youth." I think that Jesus said (to Himself), "Oh, you have? Well, let's see about that. How about the first one: You shall have no other gods. Your god is your money. So ..." and He demonstrated that the rich young ruler wasn't able even to keep the first commandment.

I see that, in fact, as the message to us all. Give it all away. Give it all to God. You may retain possession, but it's not your possession. It's on loan. And the moment you begin to think otherwise is the moment you step into idolatry. Literally or figuratively, sell all your possessions.

Anonymous said...

Seriously wow! Got ALOT of people thinking about this didn't you! I hope we are all applying these things to our lives.... as I am challenged too!

Unknown said...

Okay, I know I'm years late with my reply but I've finally figured out the just of the Lord's saying "sell all that you have, and give alms." Just hear me out!

With examining Jesus' heavenly and sinless birth into the world, we see that he was never a slave to sin nor a slave to the world; He was unlike the rest of mankind (me and you) who are enslaved and indebted to a sinful and worldly life without god...Jesus himself told his followers "But take heart! I have overcome the world." (john 16:33) This means that by the way he lived on the earth, he remained disconnected and didn't love the world that he lived in for his 33 years of earthly living.

Jesus knew that in order for mankind (me and you) to overcome the world and defeat the dark and unseen powers of Satan- as he did, we would need the same power of the holy spirit along with obedience of his straight and forward commands.

Hence, the command "sell all that you have and follow me." Jesus knew that in order for anyone to follow him, they would have to forsake all that they owned in this world, and have to remain disconnected from the world and the things in it. This was done simply in order for one to always be ready for his second return to pick up those who were actually "prepared to leave" (Matthew 25:1-13)

Now as stated, we forsake all to get away from the bondage its en holds. Jesus himself said he was not from this world so he owned no possessions himself, not even his own bed...that doesn't mean he didn't sleep on a bed or have a pair of clothes to wear. because him being human he definitely did have these basic needs- He just didn't personally possess anything or was attached to any worldly item.

So can we have anything after we give/sell it up is the question????? Well In (I Corinthians 7:30-31) Paul said "and they that buy, as though they possessed not" and again he says "and they that use this world, as not ABUSING it"

The Lord wants up to remain disconnected from anything we have in our hands, ready to give it up at any moment....this includes everything even wife and kids.

A big lesson to learn from this act that Jesus COMMANDED to all christian disciples is contentment. where we as born again strangers to the world use only what is necessary to survive and make it. Again in (Philippians 4:11) Paul states that "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" that means satisfied with the fact that he's given up everything and only has what he needs.

But what does he need??? well again Paul states in (I Timothy 6:8) that "having food and clothing let us be content" Jesus said the same thing, knowing that when mankind (me and you) are following him we must be "strangers and pilgrims" to the world, needed only basic needs and expecting God to fully take care of the rest, giving us whatever our body lack...whether it be food, water, clothing, or shelter

Composer said...

To especially jonathan keyd -

1. So List the basics for us?

Do you call a home of your own a basic?

Do you own that home?

Is Rental more appropriate?

Do you have Cars (Plural) in your Family?

Do you own a Car yourself?

Is it an expensive one or a cheapy?

Why not walk or catch a Bus or Train?

Do you have a Bank savings account?

Do you have a Superannuation Fund?

etc. etc.

2. I have two Story book versions that never mention any term Satan in their narrative, so could you try preaching your Satan ideology from them (Both available on the NET!)

3. The biblical jebus is a 100% human fabrication based upon a Historical MYTH!

Stan said...

Composer, I've posted your unnecessarily argumentative and unsupported comment just for the sake of clarity. (I have one basic rule of commenting: Keep it friendly. That was not.)

It's a nice, wholly unsubstantiated statement to make that "The biblical jebus is a 100% human fabrication based upon a Historical MYTH!" (I will generously assume you mean "Jesus".), but the reality is that no substantive historian agrees. There is a lot of disagreement about the details of Jesus (see, for instance, the Jesus Seminar), but no one with any sense can really agree, given the variety of extra-Christian sources as well as eyewitness sources, that the biblical Jesus was a 100% fabrication based on a myth.

And, for the sake of discussion, a fabrication out of thin air without proof or even evidence doesn't make for a good argument.

Oh, and given your propensity to fight without evidence and converse without courtesy, don't expect more comments to be posted from you. It's a simply rule -- keep it friendly -- and you can't seem to handle it.

Composer said...

1. (Source:

Were the NT Gospels written by eye witnesses?

There is no evidence to suggest that any of the gospels were written by eye witnesses of the events described in them.

2. The sum total legitimate external evidence remains a constant zero!

3. As soon as I call you frauds out you fabricate excuses to silence me so you can keep your incestuous forum amongst like minded dupes & fools instead of wanting to know & hear & face the Facts successful Cult busters like myself unambiguously & legitimately manifest!

I accept your capitulation!

Stan said...

This, dear readers, is what passes for "friendly", "well-reasoned", reasonable debate. I'm sorry that's the best they can do. I'm sorry that they can't even do it without being as offensive as possible. I just wanted you to see the interaction. I'll avoid it in the future.

Stan said...

This is humorous to me. I am not one to dismiss arguments simply because I disagree, so in good faith I went to the source offered above ( I got "Error 404" and the message, "The requested URL /bible_facts.php was not found on this server." Excellent! "Source not found." Very helpful. (Honestly, the claim is that "There is no evidence to suggest that any of the gospels were written by eye witnesses." It is not possible to present evidence of no evidence, so a source for such a claim would be somewhat meaningless, wouldn't it?)

As for the claim, Bart Ehrman, Please Convince Me, Dr. Zukeran, CARM, and J. Warner Wallace (at Stand to Reason) all pop up immediately and quickly as sources arguing that the New Testament was written during the "eye witness period". Paul himself claimed that Jesus lived, died, and rose again and offered 500 eye witnesses, most of whom were still living.

The claim, then, can only be not that there is no evidence, but "We don't accept the evidence, so it doesn't exist", a product of our current Age of Empathy -- "We don't feel like it's so, so it isn't."

Stan said...

This article gives an outline of the evidence for an early New Testament. There is a helpful chart that gives the dating of the earliest manuscripts.

(Note: The earliest known New Testament manuscript is from the Gospel of Mark ... and is possibly dated to the first century. That necessarily puts it in the eyewitness period.)

By the way, the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses. By that I mean that neither Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John were present at Jesus's birth. They weren't there when John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Mark, in fact, may not have been there for any of it and Luke doesn't claim to have been. Of course, Mark is historically linked to Peter (who does claim to be an eyewitness to Christ) and Luke claims to have gathered his Gospel from eyewitnesses and careful investigation (Luke 1:1-4). John indicates that "We proclaim to you what we have seen" (1 John 1:3), clearly a claim to being an eyewitness. But in the strictest sense no one was there for the whole thing, (you know, like the angel talking to Mary), so it wasn't written by "eyewitnesses". This demand for the strictest sense of "eyewitness", however, doesn't bode well for the skeptic, since nowhere else do you find this kind of fanatical demand for "eyewitness" accounts in order to be believable. Nor does the fact that Matthew wasn't there for the proclamation to Mary demand a negation the reliability of the account.

Unknown said...

If I said "Sell your cars." that means you are to sell all the cars that you have.

Stan said...

Your point?

Anonymous said...

A great thought-provoking discussion. What are your thoughts in relation to the link between what Jesus is commanding regards money/possessions and the mark of the beast - buying and selling. If we are in the 'end times', what should we be doing?

Stan said...

Two thoughts here.

1) I can see no correlation in the least between Jesus's words and the mark of the beast.

2) Christians from the days of Paul until now have all believed they were in the last days, the "end times". Obviously they weren't. We should be doing the same thing whether we are in the end times or not -- obeying Christ, sharing the Gospel, making disciples, glorifying God, expecting hardships.

Unknown said...

Thank you Stan for your article. I googled to find verses to include in my de-cluttering challenge on my blog and found this! Great insight!

Anonymous said...

........DON'T BE DECEIVED.........
if this is about selling all your possession, then Yeshua will have to sell his clothes and walk naked and Judas-the treasurer wont have money in his purse

The monks' lifestyle is similar to that of the ancient Babylon priests not Yeshua followers’. Peter was married and some other disciples were too.. so I think the monks are only imitating ancient Babylon and not Yeshua disciples: note that.even the priest in the old testament have families for example "Aaron"

......let me hint u this.....
this days we read peoples speeches word by word just because people of our contemporary society are highly crafty and deploy logic and philosophy in every matters...this will lead to CONFUSION which is the meaning of Babylon.... don't deploy these when it comes to the scripture but rather take the scripture from the beginning for clarity purpose

Stan said...

Kind of my point.

Unknown said...

Stan, awesome blog! This is what I call true fellowship in Christ. Real meat here. It's taken me nearly 2 hours to read everybody.

Here's my take: Stan- All means All. As far as your conversation w/Steve ...casting pearls.

Phillip- I know it's been almost 2 years but I hope you and your wife haven't sold the farm.

Hamster & Caleb- Luke 5-32

Anonymous & Composer- We are all here in Jesus name FOR YOU!

Jesus was answering a direct question from a specific source. He told the rich guy what was required for his own personal redemption. We are likewise required to sacrifice anything that would interfere with our relationship with Jesus, whatever that may be. You will need to search yourself with all sobriety to find out what that may be.

We can see in the clearest capacity, a glimpse of the true nature of God in his demand on Abraham. He will tolerate nothing of a material source to stand between us and Him. As individuals, we are each uniquely qualified by His grace alone, to ferret out those things.

Phil. 4:6 'Be anxious for nothing...' We have one assignment in 2 parts on this planet and nothing else:

1)Love God with all your heart.
2)Love your neighbor as yourself.

God has assigned souls to the unborn. We can't take anything away from them, the same way we have all 'died in Christ' here and now, they are alive in Christ.

All sodomy is against the law. Romans 13: 1-7 says those who are outside the law of the land will be judged. Homosexuals AND hetero-fornicators will be held accountable at the Judgement seat of Christ. There is only one purpose for the elementary canal, period. Ask Christ to come into your heart and judge you now before it's too late. He will turn you, don't think we put ourselves above you, we don't. We are all guilty.

The prince of the air has us all within his grasp at any time. Resist any suggestion that you know in your heart to be false and he will flee.

Unknown said...

I'll agree with you. WE ARE.

Anonymous said...

I Googled about possessions and came across this very interesting blog post.

I think that the essence of Christ's teaching is contained within the "love the lord thy God" and "love your neighbor as your self".

If I am to truely love my neighbor, then I need to give up some, maybe, most of my possessions / money so that my neighbor can have a warm, safe place to sleep, clothes to wear, food to eat, etc.

It doesn't mean I have to give up everything but I do need to make sacrifices for the good of all humanity.

I also think it means that we need to pressure our politicans to ensure that the poor in our society (our neighbors) have a viable safety net.

Stan said...

Indeed, Christopher, love gives. I believe that in all cases Christians are not "owners", but "stewards". We are simply managing things our Father has left in our care and are to do so for His interests and His glory. As you said, that would include first and foremost loving God and loving our neighbors. Sacrifice is a given.

I do have to disagree with your secondary point. The Bible never encourages governments to feed the poor. God always commands people to do it. Taking from people to give to people is not charity; it's theft. And there is no benefit to the giver when the option to give or not is removed. In America, the entire system of welfare didn't come about until the early 20th century when churches ceased to fill the role of providing for the needy. I think people need to share. I don't think it's the government's job to enforce that. Remember, the Lord loves a cheerful giver, not one who gives by taxation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stan

Thanks very much for posting my comment and your reply.

I agree that person to person is the best approach but as with so many things, we don't always achieve the best approach. In those circumstances, it's better for the government step in rather than have people die because a person is unable or unwilling to help the needy.

What we need to stop doing is giving billions of $ in welfare to farming corporations, oil companies, arms manufacturers, bankers, etc.

Stan said...

Of course, I'm not familiar with the claim that the government is giving billions of welfare dollars to farming corporations, oil companies, arms manufacturers, bankers, etc. But I'm convinced that Christ's command to be sure that your possessions don't belong to you and the government aiming to help the poor are not connected. I'm pretty sure that Jesus's command to His own was in no way equivalent to a national dependence on a government to take from those who have to give to those who don't. Frankly, I'm not entirely sure that's the best way to help them.

Daniel said...

I once tried to sell all my possessions and to take up my cross and follow Jesus. I thought it all through, my eyes in tears from being ashamed of who I was. Feeling like I never gave enough to anyone let alone the poor. Feeling like I loved money more than my God. Feeling that I was too comfortable living in peace and security with not much for problems. Living in sin having premarital sex and smoking pot regularly. So I wept before the Lord of hosts and told Him everything I had was his and to take it all, spare nothing, and I meant every word as I humbled my heart towards Him. As it turned out I owed more on my house than it was worth and I couldent afford to sell it for a loss. And most of the stuff I put up for sale no one bought except for a couple things like TV's and other electronics that I could have done without anyways. But I changed after that, I searched out for things I could do to please the Lord, not to get into heaven but to just want to do it because I loved Him. I hardcore hit the good book again and spent many many hours in it just in love with His word once again. I even shared my house with a homeless guy for 3 months knowing that my house was Jesus's house and it was his will at the time.

But it's been 7 years since now, and here I am again, searching up the same things, feeling some of the same thoughts. Never feeling like I'm good enough to enter the kingdom, sorrowful about grieving the Lord with my sins. I have been purified since the last time, but it is time again for the Lord to chastise. I have become lazy with the work of the kingdom, and have lived deliciously and struggle with sexual immorality. I have come full circle once again, and must give to God all I am and all I have. And if it means Him taking everything I own, everything I love, everything I ever wanted to be, everything that stands in the way of the narrow gate then so be it.
The way I see this passage is that Jesus knew the rich young man, He knew all things. He knew that that man had riches sitting on the throne of his heart. And to destroy the idol of possessions and wealth would set his heart right to love the Lord with all his heart. And that's why Jesus said what he said, based on an individual basis because he knew the hearts of all men. Some men might have to sell all they have, just as some men might have to cleave off their right hand, and even others might just have to forsake their sins and humble their heart and turn to God in repentance and beleif. I wish I could tell you how it's going to work out for me, but as you know I can't. But I do know this that He is going to be working on me and perfecting me untill I die or the Lord comes back. So pray for me brother that his will be manifest in my life, and that I can offer up my life as a living sacrifice for Him.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post on this verse. It has caused me a lot of stress, wondering if I should give up everything I have. I do believe it is entirely a concern of the heart, where our loyalties are and the One we trust. We are to trust and love God above all else. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Very thought-provoking post. I received a small inheritance and am wondering if I should invest it, or give it all to the poor, pay off student loans, and what have you. I know St. Paul told the Christians to come to their own terms of what they should give, and I know God expects generosity. As you said though, Christians had homes that they shared with others and broke bread in. As far as selling everything to the poor, I think Jesus had specific disciples he was referring to in those passages but that if any Christian feels Him calling them to give all their possessions up then it would be best to follow what He says.

Stan said...

If the premise is accurate here (God wants us to surrender all we have to Him), then the question would have to be, "What does God want me to do with this?" I don't think there is a single answer. God may present you with a need or may have given it to you to fulfill a certain need for you or has given it as a stewardship to "make a profit" (Matt 25:14-29). It should be "invested", but that may be in a literal financial sense or a figurative spiritual sense. At this distance, I think I'd have a tough time advising on this.

Unknown said...

Did jesus earn money from his work? Not that I can find anywhere in scripture. He manifested bread by his word. He manifested healing by his word. He didn't need possessions as Jesus is the bread of life, the word of God, God's spirit made into flesh through his conception with Mary and his virgin birth. Neither Jesus nor his father need any possession or material wealth because wealth is an abstract concept derived by man to justify himself through unrighteous works. Therefore selling all your posessions is complete submission to God by giving your sustenance for life to God, you have crossed the decision in giving away your life and your death to Christ, to God. This is exactly what the disciples did in following Christ, and in submitting to life and death in Christ, they crucified the flesh, ie the physical world and it's requirements for physical food, instead they receives by faith spiritual food from The Holy Spirit, the Bread of life, the everlasting waters and their hunger and thirst were quenched. They overcame death and even Satan himself by submitting to life and death with Christ and having power over death, have power over all evil.
Who would consider this today would be considered crazy. Yet we are considered crazy in the Spirit because man's judgement is not The Spirits judgement, the Holy Spirit of God.

Stan said...

"He didn't need possessions."

Jesus was God in the flesh, but He was in the flesh -- human -- as well. So we know that He ate and we know that He owned things ... at least a garment that they took from Him when they crucified Him.

The problem I have when people tell me (and I'm not entirely sure you are telling me this) that Jesus meant we should literally sell all our possessions is that 1) Jesus had some things, so didn't literally eliminate all His possessions, and 2) every single person that is telling me this has possessions. At least a computer on which they are replying to this post. So I still think there is room to ask, "What exactly did Jesus mean?" because I don't think it was a baldly literal "Sell it all."

Unknown said...

I think complete submission to God is between each man and God, for he alone is the only judgement of any true worth. But is selling everyrhing required for salvation, certainly not for salvation comes from faith in the Son of God. Discipleship however is a higher calling and each person must measure the cost.

Unknown said...

Did Jesus use his wealth to buy food for the 5000 or did he manifest bread of life and feed them. What money did jesus use to get the donkey he rode into jerusalem with. What money was used to pay for the upper room. We know money was given to judas. If jesus had possession of money to pay the tax, why did he tell peter to cast a line and take 4 drama from a fish, he would have given it, if he had it... 17: 25 Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”
26“From others,” Peter answered.
“Then the children are exempt,”Jesus said to him. 27“But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
I believe you are in error. Jesus possessions were what he died with, his sandals, his robe, a belt?, and his disciples, he didn't even have 4 drachma to pay taxes except by having peter fish for it.

Stan said...

Jesus was not wealthy, to be sure. (Which is an embarrassment to the "health and wealth" crowd.) They DID carry a money box. Why, if Jesus simply magically supplied all they needed? But if (as you readily admit) Jesus did not die (or live) with NO possessions, then you must admit that NO possessions is not the intent of "Sell all your possessions."

By the way, Jesus feeding the 5,000 miraculously was not a matter of need; it was a matter of what John called "signs" -- proof of His message and authority. The fact that He had Peter catch the taxes rather than paid them does not demonstrate that He didn't have it available. It simply demonstrates that He was always teaching. (As a parent I've used a similar approach in teaching my kids. I had them earn money when I could have paid their way, not because I couldn't afford it, but because I wanted them to learn something.)

Unknown said...

Sure. believe what you want.

Unknown said...

What does the holy spirit tell you.

Unknown said...

Selling everything is submitting to death, just as a 40 day fast would likely kill most men who would submit themselves to death for christ.

Unknown said...

Luke 9: 1When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.4Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. 5If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 6So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.

Stan said...

"Believe what you want." "What does the holy spirit tell you."

"What I want" to believe is what the Bible tells me. Coincidentally, that's the very same thing that the Holy Spirit tells me. Now, if you have special knowledge from God that contradicts the Bible, then that's something pretty special, isn't it?

I would suggest you avoid cherry-picking texts for "proof". Yes, at one time Jesus told them to take nothing. Another, He said, "Now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one." (Luke 22:36)

You seem to be arguing that the command of Jesus is that EVERYTHING must be sold off. You clearly haven't. I would urge you to repent, sell EVERYTHING you have, and do what you believe Jesus commands you to do ... rather than owning the luxury of a computer and likely more than one change of clothing along with what I'm sure is a LOT of other things. You will always act on what you believe. When you act on the belief that Jesus wanted His followers to own nothing, I'll be impressed. Until then, you are not believing what you say you believe. As for me, when Jesus told His disciples to buy something, I can't figure out how you would conclude they weren't allowed to own anything. But, hey, that's just me.

(Note: If you answer this, it's merely proof that you are unwilling to abide by what you claim to believe. If you did, you wouldn't own that computer you're firing back with.)

Unknown said...

I would never consider God performing magic. I would say that Christ is the Word of God from which all things were and are created and he probably simply spoke be bread and it manifested in the same way he spoke let there be light. John 8:58Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59At this, they picked up stones to stone him, 

Stan said...

"I would never consider God performing magic."

That's because you don't know the definition of "miracle". In Scripture, a "miracle" was a sign performed by God's prophets and God's Son that authenticated their calling. I would never call it "magic" either, but that's about all your version amounts to. (Seriously, is it your contention that every time Jesus wanted to eat He simply spoke it into existence? Try to find THAT in the Gospels someplace.)

Unknown said...

You ask what I believe and I have told you. So if you judge me for responding it's ok. But Christ is the one to whom my call is from, not you. You do not believe you are required to die to the world. I believe I am and that is all that matters.

Stan said...

Jeff, it would probably be a good idea if you didn't make stuff up in your interactions with people. Like, for instance, "You do not believe you are required to die to the world." Please, Jeff, don't manufacture lies that you are going to saddle me with. I don't believe Jesus was saying, "You have to own nothing at all" (and neither do you), but that doesn't mean I don't believe we're to die to the world ... since we are to "die to the elemental principles of the world" (Col 2:20). Don't make stuff up, Jeff.

Composer said...

Story book jebus might have said " I am " sure, but that doesn't mean either it claims equality with Story book god nor does it mean jebus was literally pre-existent, else it would have said " I was " which it didn't!

Stan said...

Composer, you're stepping all over yourself there.

1. Is it simply bad spelling "jebus" or is it your intent to be rude and offensive?

2. You make a bad Jew. There wasn't a Jew on the scene that did not catch the significance of "I AM" when Jesus (see, that's the proper spelling, with capitals "J" and all) said it. It was precisely the wording from God to Moses. If it simply meant "I exist", there was no reason to pick up stones to stone Him.

3. Since it's all "story book" to you, why bother commenting at all? Why visit Christian sites when the whole thing is nonsense to you? I would hope, out of consistency on your part, that you hover around and assault Mormon, Jehovah's Witnesses, Roman Catholic, Buddhist, Islamic, and every other religious group out there, too.

Stan said...

Sorry, Composer. I thought I'd give you another try. I was wrong. You cannot play within the rules. (I mean, seriously, there's JUST ONE -- keep it friendly. I've blocked no "facts" and offered you reasoned responses. You cannot respect others; I see no reason to allow you to comment further here. (But I WOULD be interested in what kind of similar comments you've dared to throw at, say, an ISIS website.)

Unknown said...

Sorry if I misunderstood your position on dying to the world. Possessions are of the world, mammon is of the world. I'm not making stuff up, I'm trying to understand and express my thoughts and beliefs as I read jesus say you cannot serve God and mammon. Jesus say sell your possessions and give to the poor. Jesus give specific instructions to his disciples not to bring gold or anything else when spreading the gospel. I think its possible he truly meant give it all up. He certainly bused thr example of the man who found treasure and sold everything he had to buy that treasure, the kingdom of God. Perhaps the kingdom of God is loving our brother and neighbor as ourself sacrificing our life so that they may know the love of God. Those brothers ba nd sisters being the poorest of the poor and we are to give them the seats of honor in restoring them to God even at the sacrifice of our personal wealth, our reputations in associating with the outcast in society, even Christ was accused of being unclean for associating with tax collectors , seems to me that Christ emphasized our responsibility in serving and giving to the poor.

Unknown said...

What were the possessuons jesus had. The same as his disciples? Clothing. What money box?

Unknown said...

Matthew 27: 28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

35When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Mark 15:17They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

24And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

Luke23:11Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate
34Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

John 19:1Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe3and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

4Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
23When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

24“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,
“They divided my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.”

I don't believe God needs his disciples to have material wealth. I agree that the issue is ownership in possessions, yet nothing demonstrates faith like submission to a command. While giving everything to Christ and dying to the world is dying to self, that also means dying to mammon and the misperception that mammon is needed for life.
Luke 22: 35Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”
“Nothing,” they answered.

So it appears the act of faith required by the disciples was initially going out with no possessions other than the clothing which they wore.

Yet God uses whatever he wants for his purpose. The purpose of spreading the good news of Christ, does not require mammon it requires faith in Christ.

I don't see scripture referencing the value of Christ's robe, because it cant find scripture referencing Christ robe which being gambled, rather Herrod's purple robe which was removed before crucifixtion. It appears that they only cast lots on his undergarment which was woven.

Thankyou for your insight. This has been helpful.

Stan said...

Jesus said you can't serve God and mammon. Jesus didn't say you can't have money; you just can't serve it. (My point in this article was that we are to view all possessions as not our own, but as God's possessions. That's serving God with what He gives us, as opposed to serving mammon.)

"Jesus give specific instructions to his disciples not to bring gold or anything else when spreading the gospel."

Jesus gave specific instructions to His disciples not to bring things along on that trip. Nothing I can find in the text suggests "This is to be the standard rule for all who spread the gospel." Indeed, Paul was a tent-maker (read "Paul made money making tents"). If it is true that Jesus required those who spread the gospel to be without money, I'm not sure how that would work out for people like Paul.

"What money box?"

"[Judas] said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it." (John 12:6)

Finally, I'm fascinated by the idea that it is impossible to serve others if you have something. Yes, we are to be servants. That requires we be poor? I remember the case of the inventor of the Caterpillar (you know, big tractors). He became a Christian and lived off 10% of his income donating 90% to God's work. Even at 10% he was quite comfortable. You would argue that Christ did not find his sacrifice suitable?

It's all well and good to argue that Christians are commanded by God to take a vow of total poverty and be the dirt-poorest people on the planet, but until you follow that command, I'll have to question your sincerity. (That is, I have reason to question whether you believe what you're saying.)

Stan said...

By the way, "When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, 'Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.' This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, 'They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.' So the soldiers did these things." (John 19:23-24) That "tunic" was not the purple robe. Remember, you pointed out "After they had mocked Him, they took the purple robe off Him and put His own garments on Him." (Mark 15:20) He was taken to the cross in His own clothes.

And the point of the clothing is not the value. The point is possessions. IF the command is "Sell all your possessions" and Jesus had a single possession, then Jesus violated His own command. That, of course, makes no sense. Indeed, no one can function with NO possessions. That's called nakedness, starvation, and death. Conversely, having possessions does not require serving or loving them or even keeping them. Using them for the glory of God IS an option.

Unknown said...

You do not need money to be of service to Christ nor to serve others.

Unknown said...

I look at the bible for the definition of possessions. In the case of the disciples going out Jesus clearly send the disciples out without possessions and yet they have clothing, nothing else but clothing. No staff, no extra shirt only the clothes you are wearing. Obviously nakedness is not a requirement to be a disciple of Christ.
Why, if Jesus had possession of wealth would he not be able to find a place for his head to rest?
Matthew 8: 18When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
20Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” was it because he had no money in the money box or because of rejection.

Stan said...

If you're good with that, then I want to watch and learn. I currently know of no human being in the history of mankind, including the Divine One, who lived without any possessions of any kind. I am not claiming "You need to be rich to serve God." I'm saying that everyone needs food, clothing, and shelter to live and when you're dead you're no longer serving God on this earth. But if you have the ability to own nothing -- no food, clothing, or money at all -- and continue to live and serve God, I'll be impressed.

I'm not saying "You need to be rich to serve God." I'm not saying, "It's good to have lots of stuff." I'm saying that it is not, by definition, sin to own things and it is entirely possible for some to serve God even with wealth.

Unknown said...

The world is consumed, controlled and run by mammon and the desire for mammon. Workers are paid with mammon. You want a job, search for the highest paying mammon. The influence of mammon is prevent today. The middle eastern rulers and businessmen have according to a person I know who holds a high position in Jordan, have used their wealth from oil to buy our politicians both republican and democrat, including the whitehouse the justice department, all for the purposes of creating sharia law as the law of the United states. So yes I'm particularly interested in how we seperate ourselves from the influence and control of mammon. You might recall a time is coming when no person will be able to trade without a mark on their hand or head. That mark not only identifies the individual but it allows foe them to trade for mammon.

Stan said...

Jeff, I have said that Jesus wasn't wealthy and I don't know why you feel the need to keep saying I did. I have not claimed that any of us need to be wealthy and I don't know why you feel the need to keep saying I did. I have repeatedly argued that we are not supposed to "own" anything in the sense that all we have belongs to God. You seem to see me saying something different. I'm beginning to question your reading and comprehension skills.

It is my conviction that I need to live by what I see in the Bible. If that is your conviction, DO IT. If you believe it is sin to have a job to earn money, live by it. If it is your understanding that owning anything but clothing is against Jesus's commands, live by it. If you believe that we are all subject to the world's worship of mammon and you need to separate from it, DO IT. But nothing you've said here suggests to me that Jesus required a vow of poverty. BY ALL MEANS, IF IT'S YOUR CONVICTION, DO IT. And if you do not, I think we will all be clear that you're not practicing what you're preaching ... much like the Pharisees did. But that's between you and God. I think you've made your point. I won't try to dissuade you from it with Scripture or reason. Please, go in peace.

(Side note: "Mammon" is not defined as "an income from a job" ... like Paul's tentmaking. It is defined as wealth. In fact the word is rooted in "greed" ... which is idolatry (Col 3:5).)

(Second side note: You and I ARE both agreed that Americans in general and even American Christians in particular DO have a problem with the tendency to serve wealth over God. We both agree that that is NOT good for followers of Christ.)

Anonymous said...

If certain so called 'Christians' demand the Bible be taken literally to the point where they reject modern scientific understandings in favour of that literalism, then why are they still the owners of large houses, fancy cars and other expensive, first-World luxuries? Jesus said that if someone is to be His Disciple, that is, follow Him and dedicate their life to Him, then they must sell all they own and give the profit to the poor, living like the Birds of the sky. Ah, but of course they say that this command is not to be taken literally... Such hypocrites! How can anyone take them seriously?

Stan said...

Nice. So the real issue is that "modern scientific understandings" are the god of this age. Well done.

In literature of any kind there are various tools used to express ideas. In all communication this is so. Imagine you were a teenager who went to a party one evening. When you came home, your parents asked, "So, who was there?" You said, "Oh, everybody was there!" Your parents grounded you for six months for lying. They weren't there! Of course, this would be an injustice because "Everybody was there" would have been a communication tool to express what should have been understood to mean "a lot of people". We allow these kinds of expressions between us -- with any other communication we use or see -- but not from the lips of Jesus? Nonsense. Read that word again. Non-sense. You make no sense.

But complain all you want. I am not one of the Christians you complain about and neither are you. You haven't sold everything you own, so you're clear, and I don't ever argue that the Bible has to be taken in a woodenly literal sense. I take it as it is intended. Historical for history, proverbial for proverbs, poetic of poetry, hyperbole for hyperbole ... you get the idea. You know, instead of attributing absolute madness to Christ who didn't sell everything He owned.

Abhy said...

Jesus meant what he said . Sell all your possessions and give it to the poor means nothing but, sell and give it to the poor. This is one bit of biblical verse I have never heard anyone preaching,simply because of the obvious questions listeners may raise.The prayer Jesus taught us goes like " Give us this day our daily bread" not bread for a month or an year. A true believer should have the faith to believe that god will provide for him in all eventualities, rather than misquoting the bible verses to prove what Jesus meant was some thing else. This holds especially true for the preachers because what Jesus told the 12 apostles was this : Matthew Chapter 10:
"And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.9 Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,
10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat"

So Shouldn't we stick to what the lord said, rather thahn misinterpreting his word to suit our worldly lives.

Stan said...

Abhy, we should indeed stick to what the Lord said, or, rather, to what He means. Always. However, consider. No one ever at any time in all of history has ever done this. Including Jesus Himself. Not one. Jesus, we know from Scripture, owned a valuable tunic (John 19:23-24). The disciples had swords that Jesus told them to carry. People in the past have owned little, but never nothing. So if, when Jesus said, "Sell all your possessions" and did not, He did not mean all, what did He mean?

In truth, not a single person who has responded to this piece by saying that Jesus really meant to sell all really believes that. You don't. We know this because you own enough to send a reply. He could not mean "sell all", and if we are to follow His instructions, it is necessary to figure out what He did mean. I, for one, believe He meant "all", and that all of what we own belongs to Him for Him to use and for us to use to His glory and His glory alone. In that sense, I own nothing. When it's for me, I'm sinning. But I'll be interested to meet someone some day who actually believes and obeys the command to sell all. Jesus didn't.

Unknown said...

I think we should sell, perhaps not everything as the young ruler but what our growing maturity would allow us, maybe not our home but perhaps all our treasures we don't treasure that much any more and make selling part of our lifestyle and give it to the poor off coarse as we are commanded. Obedient s is not one of our strong points and we easily jump to extremes to avoid any action at all but lets try and try and try to do the right thing. When we see Him we will be glad we did, a treasure in heaven sounds awesome.

Stan said...

Billy, I think we should surrender all. I think that too many Christians hang onto "stuff" like it's important or, worse, "mine". I think we need to give it all to Christ. And I think that in many cases that would mean literally selling it and giving it to those who might need it. But in no case ought we to think of our house or our clothes or our computer or our TV as "mine".

Unfortunately, I believe too many Christians will read this and say, "Well, then, good! I can keep everything I've got!" They read, "The Lord loves a cheerful giver" and think, "Well, I'm not so cheerful about it, so I don't have to give" instead of, "I guess I need to work on my failure to be cheerful about giving to God's work." Even us Christians can be a messed up lot.

Unknown said...

Stan, granted, everything belongs to Him and we should surrender it accordingly. But doesn't obeying His commands confirm we love Him, more than just putting Him first in our hearts, I mean if I surrendered it why is it so difficult to start selling it for the purpose of giving to the needy same as what God commands? Seems a case of hearers and doers of His commands.

Stan said...

"Seems a case of hearers and doers of His commands."

Precisely my complaint. As James says, "Brethren, these things ought not be."

My concern, however, is a blanket "Sell everything". Since Jesus did not, in fact, own nothing, there is apparently room for Christians to own something. What should be the priority, then, is not "I suppose I can own whatever I please," but "Am I retaining something for God's purposes or for my own?" And a mindset that begins with "Everything I own belongs to Him" must be followed by an obedient surrender of those things or we don't actually believe that everything belongs to Him. "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." (Prov 23:7)

Junto said...

My interpretation is that we should sell all unnecessary possessions and give the proceeds to the poor. All money we earn in excess of what is required for necessities should be given to the poor. Yes, this is radical but so was Jesus.
Furthermore, there is solid logic behind it assuming you hold to Judeo-Christian ethics and morality. Here are two facts: 5,000 children die each DAY for lack of clean water. A water well can be installed in a village for $10,000 and can literally save the lives of many dozens if not hundreds of people per year. The simple fact is that we can save lives by giving money to organizations that provide clean water to those without access to it. This is merely one example of how we can save lives with our money.
I often think of the ending of the movie, Schindlers List. Oskar Schindler is thanked for his efforts to save Jews during the war, but rather than basking in the glory of his selfless acts being rewarded, he is suddenly overcome by grief in an instance of realization that he could have saved more. He takes off his watch and says that the money he could have had from selling the watch could have saved one more life. He looks at his car and says he could have saved ten more. He then falls over in a fit of grief and sobs as he is comforted by those he saved. I will always remember his haunting line in the movie, "I could have got more." For those of us in the 1st world, aren't we all "Schindlers" in a world in which innocents are still dying while we have the power to save them?
I don't say these things in a self-righteous manner, I don't even follow my own understanding of Jesus' teachings. I donate some of my money and time, but I could and I should do more. I think each of us have to wrestle with how much is enough but realize that Jesus says the optimal amount is to give "everything", just as he told the rich young ruler.

Antichrist said...

I'm surprised that you folks can't see it, even though it's right under your nose.

Besides for being a failed apocalyptist (like all the New Testament writers), Jesus was clearly insane. For instance, at his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said...

24“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. 25Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?'" - Matthew 6:24-31

See what I mean?

Bottom line - So which will it be? Will you obey your Lord and follow his clearly-stated commands, or will you wake up, smell the coffee, and realize that Jesus was nuts?

46"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" - Jesus, Luke 6:46

Unknown said...

@antichrist we WILL follow Him "If you love me you will keep my commands" "your love is better than life" "He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth"

Antichrist said...

Hi Billy - Good for you. After all, this life is short. So let's recall how Jesus' earliest followers lived by Jesus' actual commands...

44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45They sold property and possessions to give to ANYONE who had need. - Acts 2-44-45

32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that ANY of their possessions was their own, but they shared EVERYTHING they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. - Acts 4:32-35

So I guess that's how you do it. Easy, huh?

By the way, what's that thing you're typing into? It looks suspiciously like a possession. Hmmm.

Stan said...

Composer, since you don't have the capacity to have a friendly conversation (per the rules for comment clearly indicated), I have no obligation to post your comments. Note, however, that LOTS of people have posted here and not only in agreement. At least have the decency to be honest in your comments. Do yourself a favor and uncheck the "Email follow-up comments" box to avoid further aggravation.

Stan said...

Antichrist, If you're going to ignore the discussion (what was posted) and simply be an Internet troll (someone who cruises around just trying to stir up trouble), you will quickly find no place here to comment. And not one of the earliest followers you reference actually sold all possessions (they still had clothes, homes, boats -- fishermen, you know -- and so forth).

I get that you don't like religion. I understand that it is Christianity in particular that bugs you. (You don't call yourself "AntiMohammed" or the like, do you?) Why don't you take your "I hate religion" show to another venue? Try it out with a Hindu or a Muslim. It really provides no value here.

Unknown said...

Jesus loves you, read the gospels first and follow Him, Mathew 23:10 no man is your teacher you have one teacher, Jesus. If you need help I care, email me

The Hilarious Bookbinder said...

I grew up the son of a Baptist pastor in a fairly large church whose members, I thought, took the Bible very seriously. They would regularly be in an uproar about homosexuals, abortion, creation vs. evolution, tithing, etc. Yet as I grew older I found that these were issues often along the periphery of Christian life and that Jesus tended to strike not at the edges of our current debates, but at the heart of the person who claimed that they were a follower of Christ, or at least had ambitions of doing so.

Then one day I happened upon this statement by Kierkegaard: "The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?"

This spurred me to hone-in on the statements of Jesus and try and register a gut-reaction to reading them. Then I would read a variety of commentary on these statements by Christians and non-Christians and gauge where I thought the truth was to be found. This turned into a complete overthrow of my entire life up to that point. I came within two credits of finishing a music degree and quit and started over with a double-major in Biblical Studies and Theology. After many years of studying the "hard sayings" I've come to the following conclusion: Jesus literally meant what he was saying. He actually meant for us to give up every last thing we owned and even be willing to give the shirt off our back to any who would ask. The record of the disciples and early Christians very much bears this out as we see many Church fathers doing exactly this.

I came to realize that I could not do this. A few years ago parents inherited a beautiful three-story house on a lake. They had it given to them by a wealthy widow in the church. My parents couldn't possibly hope to keep this property up and run a ministry and yet they took the house and the re-sold it for a profit and bought another house. It was at this time that I saw what attachment to money and property does to people. I read these hard sayings to my mother and she did what this blogger did, explained it away as "having the heart to give it away, if it came to that," but not actually doing it. Then in another breath she would take literally most every-other verse that suited her. This is when the true underlying hypocrisy of modern day Christianity completely revealed itself to me.

I, along with Kierkegaard,, state that Jesus' sayings are too hard for me to bear. I take Jesus seriously, and so I cannot truly call myself a Christian. This weighs heavily on me, but I know in my heart that this is all I can do.

Stan said...

(Note: You needn't repeat comments. You sent three of them. This blog is moderated, so comments don't appear until they're approved. One entry ... and a little patience ... will do.)

I'm sorry to hear that you've discarded Christianity because of Jesus. It does seem a bit contradictory, logically speaking, that Jesus said He came to seek and to save the lost and your only possible conclusion is "It can't be done." However ...

It is absolutely vital (to me and for me) that I take Jesus (and the rest of the Word of God) as intended. I don't give myself the option of changing this stuff if I don't like it. So I ask myself "What did He mean?" Did Jesus mean that the only right thing to do was to sell everything you own and give it away? Perhaps. If that is what He actually meant -- that this is the only good and sinless thing to do in this case -- then Jesus failed to do what He said to do. I find that ... nonsensical. Given Scripture's defense of the concept of private property (see, for instance, Acts 5:4) and the fact that Jesus and the rest of His followers owned things they didn't sell and give away, I can't go there with you.

I understand you believe that to be thoroughly reasonable. That's fine. Don't assume, however, that just because you consider it reasonable that this is the only possible reasonable conclusion. Don't assume that those who disagree with your conclusion that Jesus commanded it and didn't practice it are, therefore, hypocrites. That would be using a brush too broad.

The Hilarious Bookbinder said...

Thanks for the response. At the moment I am doing my dissertation on this topic which will demonstrate that there is a huge disconnect between what Biblical textual critics/scholars say about this saying and what theologians and laypersons say about it.

The disconnect, as you might have already guessed, is that the lay-people and theologians say, "He didn't mean it literally," or "it's a bit of hyperbole," while a great many textual scholars see Jesus as meaning it quite literally.

I side with Kierkegaard in thinking that Christians interpret it this way in order to avoid the horrific truth: Jesus' disciples gave everything away to follow him. I imagine Kierkegaard would nudge you and say "Go look in that mirror and tell yourself that when Jesus told his disciples to leave everything and follow him (their families, their jobs as fishermen, their financial security, and ultimately their life) that he was playing with words.

It's been 7+ years and I've yet to hear a legitimate response from any theologian on this saying which doesn't at the same time make the very same sacrifice of Jesus' disciples a mere coincidence.

Stan said...

You would understand Jesus to literally mean "Sell everything you own" by this text. He didn't actually do that, but you would understand Him to mean it. You would understand Him to mean to literally gouge out an eye or cut off a hand when He said that. There is no room for reasonable evaluation. I find that odd. I also find it odd that "stealing" would be an actual thing if God's idea was no private property at all. It just makes no sense to me. But I'm sure you scholarly types know best. I would have to conclude that no scholar could also be a believer, then, since the only legitimate understanding is that Jesus commanded absolute poverty and you can't even become a scholar without having some money to do so.

Anonymous said...

With God, all things are possible.


13 "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14 "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

~Matthew 7:139-14 KJV

Stan said...

Thanks for the biblical references. I have absolutely no idea what you are intending to convey on the topic at hand.

Anonymous said...

God takes such wonderful care of me.

Just this morning I was able to take a long, hot shower...I feel so spoiled.

Crpolk said...

I think the rationalizations for what Jesus was saying in this passage stand up under scrutiny. Yes, Jesus spoke in allegory at times to illustrate a point, but in this case we have the reaction of the young man as a confirmation of what Jesus meant, otherwise he would not have left disappointed since he was wealthy. Remember also that Jesus spent his time among the poor, preached to those who were otherwise outcast and granted absolution to those who were weighed down with sin. His life was a case study of someone who thought that it was impossible to understand the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves unless we were willing to "walk the walk" so to speak and travel in another man's shoes. In an age of "prosperity gospel" preaching which equates temporal success with blessedness, I think this passage provides a powerful antidote.

mikekev58 said...

Certainly the incongruity of the so-called "Prosperity Gospel" to these statements of Christ is evident. We may not be called to abject poverty, but the notion that God's favor is shown in what material wealth we have is, imho, heresy.

Stan said...

imho also

Dreamer said...

Not sure if it's been mentioned somewhere, but i just thought that before Jesus said this He sent the disciples out without money (Mt 10), because God would provide for them. Later, when He knew He was going to leave them, He told the disciples to take their purse and sword (Lk 22:36), presumably because they needed something to survive with.

Stan said...

I think I did mention that, but thanks for pointing it out.

Anonymous said...

Howdy Stan,
Thank you and all that have left meaningful debates and thoughts, over 11 years worth! I have been struggling with "sell all possessions" for a little while now and found no real understanding in Scripture. I knew that Jesus didn't mean "ALL", it's just common sense, I just couldn't figure it out. I've prayed about it and finally decided to search the net. Your blog was top of the list. Again, thank you for sharing your wisdom; that we are to love Jesus above "ALL" worldly things and give/sell what we don't need.

God bless you and Merry Christmas in the Biblical sense, (the incarnation), to you and yours.

Peace and love

Stan said...

You're welcome, Vince. Good to know that God can even use the Internet to benefit His people.

Unknown said...

I've personally heard the call in my heart. I've come to the conclusion that the system we humans have always been living is the "beast". We live in a society that caters to our primal fears and prays on our ignorance. Our systems ie. Political, economic, legal, religion are nothing more than the corrupt manifestations of control freaks who demand authority.

I have no desire to be an adversary to the world so to "come out of her" is my only option. To sell your possessions, give the proceeds to the needy, and walk out into the world with nothing but faith is the truest manifestation of selflessness and faith. It's about reclaiming your authority to rule your existence through love and not through the fear of penalty or persecution.

To most this faith based life is terrifying... and that's understandable. Once the spirit makes itself known in your heart you cannot deny. To believe in christ is to be living as him. Just my thoughts... no judgement towards anyone's lifestyle.

Revivaliscoming said...

@Abel Freeman Inspired by your conviction, followed you on google +

Stan said...

Abel, I would encourage you to follow the call in your heart, not be of the world while you are in the world, and pursue Christ with everything you have and are. And your "no judgement towards anyone's lifestyle" is refreshing. I have yet to meet anyone, in person or in Scripture, that sold all of their possessions to walk into the world with nothing but faith. I know of no biblical persons who did it. I know of no historical persons who did it. I don't even know if it is actually possible to live without actually owning anything -- no possessions. If you can, good. If you can do it to a degree (Even Jesus owned the clothes on His back), good. At the very least, we ought to "count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:8)

John W. said...

I think that Jesus WAS indeed telling him to sell ALL his possessions. I mean what's really the difference of saying " Go sell your possessions " or "Go sell ALL your possessions"? It seems to me that they both say the same thing. And either way ( because he was to follow Christ ) he wouldn't have need of anything anyway. He would have all he needed to have. Just a thought.

Regards, John

Stan said...

Not even Jesus sold all His possessions. He had need of clothes, for instance, yet He told His disciples, "No one of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions" (Luke 14:33). When He sent them out on their mission trip, He told them to take things -- possessions. Since no one has ever sold all their possessions, I would assume that something beyond the cold, literal interpretation is intended here.

John W. said...


I guess I could have been clearer, I wasn't thinking at the time that Jesus meant their shoes, and tunic as well, but I do think he meant their stuff, whatever that might have been, based on the times.

Stan said...

Ok, good, so you agree that "all your possessions" doesn't mean ALL. Would you say that it is a command for Christians of all time to own nothing (significant)?

John W. said...

Hi Stan,

I think that overall, as a society, myself included, we tend to be somewhat extremist in nature.

In regard to Jesus's statement, he was speaking to those who were disciples, which is what we say we would like to be, so, I would guess in that sense it would apply to Christians before and us as well.

What do you think? You've been at this for about the last 12 years or so. What have you come up with?

Stan said...

It's a possible take, I suppose, but that would mean that no one who wishes to follow Christ would own a home, a car, a tv, a computer, more than a couple changes of clothes ... much at all beyond the bare necessities. I think I've explained why I don't agree with that conclusion and hold to another, but I will be thoroughly impressed if you can do it.

Kathy Hahn said...

Some things you only can know the value of when you do them. That is why the bible says, "taste and see that the Lord is good." Christianity is all about freedom of spirit, and only those who actually do free themselves (by the inspiration and support of God's grace) by their actions ("if you love Me, obey my commandments") will understand. Anything else is armchair speculation. It is hard, but it is true.

Stan said...

I usually try to interact with comments made here, but -- I'm sorry -- I don't understand at all what you're trying to say.

Revivaliscoming said...

Kathy Hahn you are spot on, Stan? How do you not understand? She says you will only know the truth once you do it, before that it remains a mystery. So go and sell something because Jesus commands it, and see then what you find in your heart and in your spirit

Stan said...

Kathy and Revival,

If you are going to take the command as a bare, literal command, "Go and sell something" is not the command. "Go and sell everything" is the command. That would require you to sell your home, your clothes, apparently the computer with which you are commenting ... everything. Since Jesus did not sell everything, we need to determine what He meant rather than a bare "sell everything" command. I've tried to do so in this article. Those who are urging otherwise are not offering a rational explanation of how in light of Christ's refusal to do so.

Unknown said...

Hello , too anyone that has thought about this verse/verses Rich Young Ruler.... I wonder that anyone has ever thought about these scriptures in a different light. I have been in deep discussion about the law for the last 10 or so years.... and have heard a few messages given about this scripture. I agree with some post here that it shows how we are only righteous by Gods grace and when the young man says he has kept the commandments since his youth he was boasting in keeping them and unfortunately he wasn't even able to keep the 1st commandment. for he loved his riches more than God. What is I said there may be another look that is equally important. I propose that Jesus is God and He was the only one that is "good"... and Jesus when mentioning the commandments He was speaking of Himself the only flesh that was able to keep them. I want to say that my interpretation of this passage is this. Jesus wants you to be dead to the law and married to him.... He is saying to the rich young ruler to sell what you know to be the truth which is salvation through the law. Which we know the scripture says no one will be justified by the works of the law. So sell it and give it to the poor. For the law is holy, just, and good. For it was given for the lawless not for the righteous grace through faith. so give it to those that don't realize they are sinners (show them they are sinners) and are in need of a savior Jesus Christ who fulfilled the law. romans 7:7 dead to the law and married to Christ. so to be perfect follow Christ, put on Christ, walk ye in him. Christ will write His laws into your heart and put them in your mind. Moses can bring you out of Egypt but Joshua will bring you to the promise land. For the law is spiritual not carnal. For the carnal mind is enmity against God. Those that desire to live by the law and resist the holy spirit. The son is greater than the servant.

It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.....
For they desire the old wine, old covenant more than the new wine, new covenant.
Good day to all. My thought may not be the same as others and I apologize, we can never go wrong following Christ and the Holy Spirit (advocate)
With Love

Anonymous said...

What about John the Baptist, who lived in the wilderness wearing only rags and eating only locusts and honey? Jesus said there is NO man greater than John (except Jesus himself). He obviously had no possessions except the rags he wore around his loins (and I'll bet he WAS naked until he found those rags, and he probably spent much of his alone time naked).

The two witnesses of the end times will wear only sac-cloth and will presumably own nothing else (though I doubt they'll "own" the sac-cloth any more than a bird "owns" the straw she uses to build her nest).

The examples of the three holiest people in the new testament (except Jesus) are in abject poverty, literally "owning" only rags.

As far as the clothing Jesus "owned", where do you think he got it? Do you suppose he went to Macy's and bought the best woven raiments available? Or do you suppose someone poor freely gave it to him because he needed it? Do you think he never went naked because the scant stories we have about his life don't mention it?
Do you think he wouldn't give up his clothes in an instant if he came across a naked person who needed clothing?
Do you think he carried a suitcase full of clothes and amenities every place he went? Or do you suppose he had faith that all his needs would be covered wherever he was?

I think Jesus meant exactly what he said when he said "sell all your possessions, then give the money to the poor." (No, that doesn't mean walk naked to the woods and eat bugs and bark.) Wear whatever clothing is appropriate for your climate, and trust that everything else will be provided. Don't cling to your clothes and don't bother carrying extras.

That's my two cents...

Stan said...

I'd consider your view as a real view if I thought you actually owned nothing at all. I have to assume that you're simply trolling, trying to stir up strife for no reason except to be contentious. For instance, arguing that both John and Jesus likely spent a lot of time naked because they owned nothing is pure drivel without support.

There is no biblical or historical evidence that either John the baptist, Jesus, or the rest of the disciples owned nothing at all except the clothes on their backs. Further, the minute you admit that they owned something, even if it's clothes and sandals, you already eliminate a starkly literal reading of "Sell all your possessions." When I meet the Christian who actually owns nothing, I'll consider the possibility that that Christian actually believes Jesus meant in a cold, literal sense the very words He said. I'm pretty sure that's not you.

Bailee said...

I am 32 years old. Mother of 4. I am just now discovering and teaching myself about Christ's life and the written scripture. I personally have always felt like a minimalist at heart. My poor family will tell you I'm always looking for a bag of things to donate. "DONT LEAVE ANYTHING OUT OR MOM WILL DONATE IT!" Haha! I am currently listening to the gospels, via Audible. I have tried reading the bible so many time over the years and I just get completely lost and feel so down about not being able to understand the language! In that regard, I am so very thankful to have the gift of technology. Where I can listen to a modern version of the bible, daily! In the car, washing dishes, folding laundry, etc. I am trying my darndest to spread love and His word throughout my home and I could NOT have done that without owning a few things. So, from my humble perspective, I dont think I would shame God for wanting/needing something to help me learn his teachings? Right? As a beginner, in my 30s, I am very open and receptive to opinions of all sorts. I dont believe any single one of us has or will have any true understanding of what He truly meant, until we are lucky enough to be standing in front of Him, able to ask and listen. I am trying to understand in the way I hope is correct, and follow through with that. Personally, I believe dilligance and full effort are what is noticed and appreciated.
I really enjoyed reading this comment section to its entirety.
Thank you for the intelligent debate! It was a pleasure reading something like this on the internet without foul language.

Stan said...

"It was a pleasure reading something like this on the internet without foul language."

You're very welcome (especially in view of a discussion we've been having on a recent entry).

It is certainly a marvelous thing to pursue Scripture, to see what God has to say, to teach us to tell us.

"I dont believe any single one of us has or will have any true understanding of what He truly meant, until we are lucky enough to be standing in front of Him."

I would hope, in light of Jesus's promise to send His Spirit to lead His own into the truth, that you might come to change your mind at some point about this. If we really can't "have any true understanding of what He truly meant", it would seem to be an insult to the Spirit and a failure for God who breathed it. And if it is true that we can't, discussing, disagreeing, debating, or even pursuing it would be of little value, would it? So I hope you come to a different conclusion at some point. I'm confident we can't know everything perfectly, but I am firmly convinced we can, by the Holy Spirit, come to understand much of what He truly meant.

Revivaliscoming said...

@ Bailee
It is so easy to get misunderstand by our words so I would just like to encourage you as well, thank you for your kind comment and it sounds like you are doing great in following the Holy Spirit who is teaching you daily. Keep going!

Unknown said...

"Sell all you have so you can follow me". Easy to understand. When we have more than we need, then we forget about and then do not need God. The "Manna" perfects what Jesus told that man in the Letter Matthew about selling all he has, give to the poor and then you can follow Me. A Theological degree is not required since it is not mankind who teaches us. Jesus said he is our Teacher through the, once we gain Holy Spirit. Of course many people right now will, this verse or that verse says different. God requires we represent Him, through His Son, and explain what is written so those who will listen, can gain the Holy Spirit. God chose the Old Testament, Hebrew's, as His children to spread His Word. They defied Him throughout the Old Testament, and He decided no more. Then He went silent for around 400 years and decided to allow His Son to come through the womb the same as us. Jesus came with Gods Word and also told the Hebrew lineage that their blessing has been taken away and given to the Gentiles, to now spread the word of God. Boy, the Gentiles have failed equally. Submit yourself completely, gain the Holy Spirit and no longer a Gentile, but a Christian. The people who have more than the poorest person on Gods earth, are not doing Gods will. The church is you. It is written that we are to help people ourselves, not make a contribution in the collection plate and let someone else do it. Ask for redemption, accept Jesus as your only Lord and savior as the only Messiah and then begin reading the Bible and ask Jesus to teach you. Do not put your Faith in man, it is written.

Stan said...

The criterion for whether you are sinning or not with what you have is if you have more than the poorest person on earth? God's will is not to have more than the poorest person on earth? (You know that the poorest person on earth doesn't have a computer, right?) I'm not sure I can find that standard in Scripture.

Anonymous said...

"44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need."

-Acts (2)

"32The multitude of believers was one in heart and soul. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they owned."

"34There were no needy ones among them, because those who owned lands or houses would sell their property, bring the proceeds from the sales, 35and lay them at the apostles’ feet for distribution to anyone as he had need."

-Acts (4)

I've lived in communities like this, and it becomes very obvious (when you begin to actually do it) that this IS God's will and it IS the True nature of God's Church.

Other than Jesus, the holiest people in the New Testament own nothing. John the Baptist lived naked in the wilderness (Jesus said there is none greater than him). The two witnesses of revelations wear only sac-cloth, and it is implied that they also live in the wilderness.

Paul says "6Of course, godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, so we cannot carry anything out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.

9Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil."

The implication seems to be that anything more than the clothes on our back and food to eat IS the "love of money".

Jesus says that any person who gives up their home, their family, their possessions for the sake of the Kingdom will receive 100-fold IN THIS LIFETIME (so long as you actually DO God's will (help people)). It's TRUE, because when you unbind yourself from your own possessions, you become free; you are no longer bound to any place, to any obligation of time, to any financial commitment. You meet people who invite you into their homes, you help people and become a member of their community, you share in what they have; you ultimately find that you have much more than you ever had on your own.

God is the same now as He was in the days of's US who have changed, veered from His path and created this faux illusory world of luxuries, conveniences, and the fulfillment of any desire at our fingertips.

The ultimate choice for all humans is: capitalism, or God. The "mark of the beast" allows all who have it to buy or sell, and those without cannot (and are killed). Money is literally satan's tool.


Nothing we purchase is natural. It is manufactured by humans (or taken from it's environment for retail). Capitalism is a means for gains, not for giving. It literally takes resources from the earth and transforms them for personal consumption. Every object you personally own is that much less resource available to the natural world. The true cost of every object is the forest that was stripped, the ground that was raped, the water and air that was polluted; every gain for us is a loss for literally every other species and ecosystem on this planet. The wide and easy "path of destruction" is the path most people are choosing which is literally destroying life on this planet right now.


Obviously you need to make your own spiritual choices, and interpret the bible your own way. But to me, it's pretty clear what it says. And my own experience seems to confirm it.


Anonymous said...

Sacrifice is hard, until you do it. At first it was very difficult for me to part with objects...I had intense sentimental attachment and imaginative desires and goals to accomplish with my objects. But as I started gathering my things to sell I realized that my memories exist whether I have the objects or not, I am a creative being and can create my own objects for use and entertainment and to share (we are made in God's image, and God IS Creator- we ARE meant to create), and it is my relationships with other humans (other life) which are ultimately meaningful in this life...NO object will bring me comfort or fulfillment on my deathbed.

Putting all of my possessions in one space, I saw clearly how excessive all of it was. I was utterly overwhelmed by how much I actually owned. It's different SEEING it all in one room than simply "knowing" what I had.

By releasing objects, I've opened psychic space to be able to create. I've opened physical space in which to live my own life (rather than living in service to objects). I've opened temporal space in which to freely move, travel, and BE with others without pressing obligation to be someplace else.

The simple fact is that if every human relinquished "ownership" of every object, the objects would still exist for us to use. There would be no need to manufacture more because we would realize that we literally have everything we need to provide for every human on earth //right now// (I alone owned enough to serve an entire community). No person would go unfulfilled. No person would be needy. And we would no longer rape this planet for material and monetary profit.

I no longer have desire to purchase anything. Even stepping into commercial buildings makes me very uncomfortable- it's been over a year since I've set foot in a mall, and at least 3 months since I've been in any store. I see plainly how unnatural "the world" is, how contrived and pretentious it is, and it sometimes makes me physically sick in my stomach being near it.


Anyway.....that's my two cents.

Stan said...

Yes, under no circumstances should followers of Christ be subject to possessions -- serving "stuff." On the other hand, you own enough to send this reply, don't you? Apparently you didn't "Sell all your possessions." The hardest line defender of "Sell all your possessions" to mean to literally sell everything you own will not do it; Jesus didn't even do it. The question is not, "Do we really need to sell everything we own?" because the obvious answer is, "No, we can still own clothing, etc." The question is "What does it actually mean if not sell everything?"

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, you own enough to send this reply, don't you? Apparently you didn't "Sell all your possessions.""

You assume that because I type on a computer I own a computer, as if nobody is permitted to share.

It doesn't seem like you read both of my original comments, or if you did, the message went right through you.

There is a difference between possessionship and ownership. In this moment I possess a computer because I am physically holding it and obviously using it, but does that absolutely mean I "own" it? Or is it possible it is a public computer or borrowed or a community computer ("they had all things in common"..."give up your possessions and you will receive 100-fold")?

Even to say I "own" my clothing is a misnomer, because I wear what is suited for the season, the weather, the climate.....and give it away when I no longer need it or when another has greater need. The clothing on my back cycles just like the food I eat, but I never hold more than I need for my given circumstances. All of our objects exist, and we can USE them without OWNing them.

You say "the hardest line defender [...] will not do it", yet people HAVE done it and continue to do it! Maybe you just haven't met any of them because you look for answers on the internet and in Babylon, instead of seeking per the instructions of the bible. If you've never done it you've never found the Kingdom.

It LITERALLY means "sell what you possess" and "give to the poor" and have faith that God will provide for your needs. Until you DO it, you literally will not understand it.

Stan said...

No one -- not even Jesus -- owns/possesses nothing. Further, no one in Church History ever understand that text to mean, "Followers of Christ are allowed to own NOTHING." Yours is a creative take on it, playing with "possession" rather than "ownership" (and it's possessions He talked about, not things owned -- that is, He didn't play those word games). But you're free to hold your completely unique position on the text. I have no need to change your mind.