Power and Responsibility

In 1748 two Scottish ministers, Robert Wallace and Alexander Webster changed the history of the world with the establishment of the Scottish Ministers' Widows' Fund. It was the world's first pension fund...and still operating today.  I want to illustrate a critical truth about the operation of the Kingdom of God from that.

I made a comment on a friend's Facebook timeline recently to a chap from America who was an ardent Dispensationalist longing for Jesus to come and set up His kingdom on earth which would solve the world's problems. I gave him my usual response, "But the kingdom of God has come at the resurrection of Jesus in 33 AD when He said All power in heaven and on earth is given unto me."

His response was typical cynicism, "Oh yeah, so how's that working out for you".  I didn't bother to respond because Facebook is not the format to discuss eschatology, but if I had wanted to continue the conversation it would have been along the lines of:

"Working out great for me and for the world.  In 1800 there were 1 billion people on earth and 90-95% lived in abject poverty. Today there are 8 billion people with 30% living in abject poverty and at current rates of income growth the UN reckons poverty can be wiped out world wide by 2035."

I could have gone on and on about all the wonderful things happening in the world and how knowledge and scientific breakthroughs are radically changing the world for the better.  How the rapid spread of world evangelical Christianity is changing the destinies of nations. Unfortunately for a large segment of our church leaders it is more suitable to be preaching how the devil is in control of the world and things will only improve when Jesus is actually sitting on a throne in Jerusalem.

And so we have the anomalous situation of Christians waiting for Jesus to come and fix the world's problems while at the same time enjoying the best lifestyle that the world has ever known in its history...a lifestyle so good that the average person among 8 billion people is living better than kings and emperors of ages past.

So must we assume the devil is responsible for giving us doctors, medicines, an abundance of food and nutrition, education, water, electricity and sanitation services, transport and an internet that allow for the Bible to be downloaded freely to anybody in over 1800 different languages anywhere in the world?  And I can go on and on....
And I can also give you a long list of evil in the world like how you can also use the internet to download endless amount of pornography.

So my short answer to my Face3book friend would be yes this Kingdom thing is working out fine for me and the world and it is getting better all the time and will indeed get better faster if I can persuade more of my Christian family to get on with "Kingdom work now....not one day when Jesus comes."!

So back to our Scottish Ministers' Widows Fund.....

In the 1700's the great Scottish Reformation church had a major problem.  The wives of preachers lived longer than their husbands and scripture plainly taught that the church must take care of widows and orphans.

Up to that time they would take up a yearly offering and pass out the proceeds to try and help the widows.  A basic charity operation.

But Wallace and Webster came up with a brilliant solution helped by the fact that Wallace was also a maths genius who belonged to the Scottish Philosophical Society. They started going around to the churches in Scotland and investigating grave stones and church records to work out mathematically how long do Scottish ministers live on average.  They then set up the first actuarial table of what we today call a 'Bell Curve" of death rates.

But here was the genius of their plan and the first time this was tried. They worked out what each minister should set aside each month so that when he dies his wife would receive a lifetime pension.  Their genius was to recognize that if that monthly contribution was invested in secure investments the cumulative investments in time would establish a self funding investment pool of capital whose profits would be able to care for the beneficiaries for life.

They launched their Widows' Fund in 1748, it was an immediate success so much so that that soon the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and St. Andrews applied to join and then more such like funds were started all over England and the continent and by the mid-1800's it was common everywhere...and highly successful.

Here is the lesson....scripture says not only we are to care for the widows but it says in Gal. 6:2 "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ".  The concept of insurance which became one of the world's biggest industries is the concept of people collectively coming together to pool their capital and thereby protect and provide for each other, by bearing one another's burdens.

Here is the further lesson:

God sets certain goals for us as tenants on His property on earth. And He wants fruit, He wants results. He says care for the widows. He does not tell us how to do it. He did not say I want you to set up an insurance company. He sets goals and then He looks for volunteers of who is willing to take responsibility for this problem?

And that is the reason for the title of this blog....power comes to those who are willing to take responsibility. I want to say a bit more on that but I need to take my Widows' Fund example a step backward.

What is even more interesting to me is where Wallace and Webster invested the monthly contributions to get a guaranteed return on the capital they needed to make the pension fund work.  They invested the proceeds in what in those days were called "Consols". These were British government bond notes paying a guaranteed 3% or 5% depending on which Consol you bought. But that has another interesting background...

In 1688 the British had what they called "The Glorious Revolution" when they kicked out the Stuart dynasty (Charles 1 who they beheaded, Charles 2 who was a monumental spendthrift and then his brother James 2nd who was even worse.) They invited the Dutch prince William and his wife Mary to take the throne of England but with severe restrictions....Parliament would control the public purse and a private bank of England would be established to control the money supply.

The reason?  The kings of not only England but in all history destroyed the money through mixing the gold and silver content with other metals and they wasted money and ran up debts and then refused to pay their debts destroying the economy. People hid their money.

But when parliament took away from the king the right to issue money and the right to spend as he wished something amazing happened. They put Sir Isaac Newton as head of the mint and he started hanging counterfeiters and was obsessive about being absolutely correct with honest money.  The broad populace began to trust the promises of government....they will pay their debts with honest money.  All the debts of the Stuart dynasty were "Consolidated" and parliament said they would pay. These bonds were then called "Consols". People so trusted the new government that money came out of hiding and invested in Consols with the result that interest rated dropped to unheard of low rates of 3%.

The lesson from scripture which Sir Isaac Newton enforced:  Monetary inflation is an abomination unto the Lord...."A false balance and diverse weights and measures are an abomination unto the Lord" Prove. 11:1 Prov. 20:10,23 Lev. 19:35-36; Deut. 25: 13-15.

God's commandment to us in scripture is that He demands an honest money supply and debts must be honoured and paid.  So national fiscal and monetary policy is a matter for God's people to get involved in...and so is poverty relief, health and education, sanitation, social justice.....

And that is exactly what is going on in the world.  If Christians do not want to get involved with these matter it does not mean that God just gives up. He uses who He will. He gives power to whoever will take responsibility.

Widows could be cared for only when Wallace and Webster set up their pension fund. The pension fund could only be successful if there was a stable bond market to invest in based on honest money and an honest government that pays its debts.

We Charismatics love to quote "And you shall receiver power after the Holy Spirit comes upon you..." from Acts.  And then we get excited about all the miracles in the book of Acts after the Holy Spirit came upon not only the 120 in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost but after that to the gentiles as well fulfilling God's promise that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh...

But now I am going to say something very controversial....God is pouring out His Spirit not just on us...but on some very unlikely people in order to give them power to get His work done in all the earth,

I will not belabour the point but I refer you to Isaiah chapters 44 and 45 where God says of the future king of Persia and Media, king Cyrus..."He is my anointed...even though he has not known me."  Anointed means that the Holy Spirit will come on Cyrus to cause him to do God's will even though he did not know the God of Israel.

I know of plenty of fellow Charismatics who speak in tongues and claim the baptism of the Holy Spirit...but where is the power? So here is a head's up:  The power is only available when you take responsibility to do the work of God.  And that work is not just healing campaigns and miracle meetings.

That anointing to do God's work can mean setting up an insurance pension fund. It can mean new scientific discoveries in the lab work where God has placed you. It can mean starting a new business that will create new jobs and income for the unemployed.

Peter Thiel the VC investor who was an early investor in Facebook was asked recently why in the world did they not take the billion dollar offer from Yahoo to sell out Facebook when it was just 2 years old and only had about 8-10 million subscribers and not making any money. He said he and the board urged Mark Zuckerberg to please accept the offer of $1 billion two years after starting! And Mark was only 22 years old.  Mark told him I cannot sell Facebook to them because they do not know what needs to be done with Facebook.  Later Microsoft offered $8 billion and he still refused. Today it is worth $300 billion and making billions in profit,

But my point is this: God required Facebook to connect 2 billion people on the earth for free. As He did Skype so we can communicate for free.  And he anointed Berners-Lee to create the internet in 1991 and then not patent it so that all the world can use it for free. Elon Musk to make electric cars and Steve Jobs to give us graphical interface computers and IPhones and Bill Gates to give us an international operating system and make PC's practical and  Google to give us search for free and maps and Youtube for free.  These people and thousands more unknown to us are "anointed" of the Lord to do His work on the earth.

But we are facing huge problems ahead.  Yes God can use anybody He wishes to do His work but our salvation does not lie in technology even though technology is based on understanding God's creation principles.

Once again governments of the world are destroying the world money system and their spendthrift ways are destroying the world bond markets and with it the promises of secure pensions that will not be paid.

Corporations are hoarding the capital assets of the world and even though we know how to make things in abundance we do not know how to ensure the people of the world have adequate income to purchase what our factories are producing.

We are destroying our oceans and our habitats and our air.

All these things cannot be fixed with technology. They need a changed people of the world.  The church must start getting a vision of involvement in all the world. 

Do you want an outpouring of power of the Holy Spirit in the Church?  Then start taking responsibility before God for solving the problems of the world.  That is what power is for. That is how God manifests His presence in the world through His people taking responsibility to bring the government and authority of Christ to every area of where we are placed to be.

Faith without works is dead...and there is no power in the Church if it does not take responsibility for the work of the Kingdom.

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