Anthony Norris Groves Renounces Materialism

Anthony Norris Groves was born at Newton Valence, in Hampshire, England, on February 1, 1795.

He studied dentistry and surgery, building a successful dentistry business in Exeter. In 1816, at the age of 21 he professed faith in Christ, but he is described as “a typical middleclass convert to evangelical High Church Anglicanism”. That same year he married his cousin, Mary Berthia Thompson.

Groves had a heart after God which was displayed in both his philanthropic interests and a growing desire to serve God on the mission field. In the ensuing years he came under the influence of Calvinistic teaching and came to a much stronger personal experience of faith.

Groves was impressed by the Bible’s teaching on possessions. He dedicated the whole of his property and the biggest part of his income to the Lord’s work.

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Groves communicated his convictions about possessions in a small booklet called ‘Christian Devotedness’, based on the Christ’s instruction in the Sermon on the Mount, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth”. Groves lived that message and argued that others need to take Christ’s words seriously.

That book had a profound impact on a young Prussian pastor who had settled in Britain, named George Mueller, who applied Groves’ insights to his own life of faith and in the establishing of his faith based orphanages. Mueller is remembered for his astounding confidence in God’s supply, rather than reliance on human sources of wealth. At least part of his amazing confidence came from the inspiration of A.N. Groves.

Groves had to delay fulfilling his call to missionary service, principally because of his wife. Mary was unsaved when he married her and she opposed Anthony’s desire to go to the mission field. It was thirteen years before the couple reached the mission field of modern Iraq.

Mary was eventually converted by the same influences which strengthened Grove’s faith – around the time of the birth of her third child – and she consented to being a missionary also. In 1825 Groves gave up his profession and business to pursue theological studies at Trinity College, Dublin. At that time he met and associated with John Nelson Darby, founder of the Plymouth Brethren. Groves’ new appreciation for the simple New Testament model of Christianity led him to give up his theological studies, stating that “ordination of any kind to preach the gospel is no requirement of Scripture”.

In 1827, when Groves withdrew from Trinity College, he expressed the ideas which define the early Brethren movement. “…we should come together in all simplicity as disciples, not waiting on any pulpit or minister, but trusting that the Lord would edify us together, by ministering as he pleased and saw good from the midst of ourselves.”

Groves and his wife, Mary, finally set out for Baghdad, with their two young sons and three Christian friends. The six month overland journey was perilous and took them through Russia and Persia. By December 6, 1829 they had arrived in Baghdad, which was at that time part of the old Turkish Islamic Ottoman Empire. Groves was the first Christian missionary to take to gospel to Baghdad since it fell to Islam centuries earlier. They had no financial backers and expected the Lord to meet their daily needs.

Groves’ sister married George Mueller. Both Groves and Mueller opposed Darby’s “tendency of domination” in the newborn Plymouth Brethren movement. Groves chose to emphasise “the love of Jesus … instead of oneness of judgement in minor things” (Dictionary of the Christian Church, page 440).

With George Mueller, Groves became “a founding father of the Open Brethren” (Who’s Who in Christian History, page 294).

During the three years in Baghdad plague ravaged the city. Civil war had broken out, bringing siege and warfare. The city was also devastated by flood, typhoid and cholera. 60,000 of Baghdad’s 85,000 inhabitants died of the plague, including Mrs Groves, and their baby girl. Two thirds of the houses were swept away in floods.

Back in England in 1835 Groves re-married, to Harriet Baynes, and prepared for years of missionary service in India. “He sailed for Madras, and thenceforth in many places he ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Twelve Mighty Missionaries, by E. Enoch, page 37).

In India Groves returned to his dentistry profession, supporting himself as the Apostle Paul had done. Thus Groves is regarded by some (such as Robert Bernard Dann) as the Father of Faith Missions, as opposed to those who go to the field with the backing of a mission organisation.

After Groves’ first tour of the Indian missions he came to his own ideas about improving cross-cultural mission activity. Groves encouraged his Indian converts not to adopt western culture, but to apply the Bible directly to their culture, being Biblical and not cultural converts.

In 1842 Mr and Mrs Groves adopted a child of eight as daughter, “an orphan who was commended to their care by her father on his death­bed”. They undertook this charge as for the Lord. The girl came to faith in Christ at a young age, was very effective in her assistance to their ministry and was “in every way, as a beloved daughter”.

In 1852 illness forced Groves to return to England, where he died at the age of 58, in the home of George Mueller on 20 May, 1853. Groves had given up his own earthly possessions, and so he had no home of his own to return to.

Groves did get to see his most promising Indian disciple, John Christian Arulappan, successfully build a network of churches based on Groves’ principles of missionary outreach. Grove’s innovations continued to be picked up and developed by others after his death.

It is to be noted that Groves’ conviction that we should not hoard possessions but trust the Lord to provide significantly impressed Mueller, who was then taken as an inspiration to Hudson Taylor, whose faith principles inspired many interdenominational faith missions.

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This post is based on notes by my late friend Donald Prout. I have updated these historical posts with information gleaned from other sources. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History. Don’s notes can be found at: www.donaldprout.com

The Crash of 2008 part four

The financial crash of 2008 is the product of greed, boom and bust cycles and the manipulations by power players. But it is also the product of man’s sin, man’s mammon worship and God’s judgements.

Prophetic insights tell us that God wants to humble people and the nations and to have them rely only on Him, not on their money or their survival plans.

What Should You Do?

What are the things you should do to weather the storms we are facing and will face in the future? I suggest that you consider the following list of things that I have taught others to do in this situation.

Humble Yourself

If it is true that God is at work in this situation, seeking to humble the nations and bring them back to Himself, then the best thing you can do is be quick to humble yourself. It is time to repent of your materialism and to stop looking to money to be your saviour. Money is proving unstable and even toxic to some.

You also need to consider whether you have been worshipping Mammon. God wants you to worship only Him.

Cry Out To God

Call on the name of the Lord, cry out to God and trust Him to deliver you in this situation. God is ready to rescue those who trust in Him. So call upon Him. Put your trust in His ability to protect and save you.

God promises in His Word that we can be kept safe even when we go through the flood and the fire.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; neither will the flame kindle upon you.” Isaiah 43:2

Expect God’s Blessing

We are able to expect God’s blessing, even in a time of famine or trouble. God’s ability to bless us is not limited by physical circumstances.

Thousands of years ago Isaac, son of Abraham, experienced a 100 fold return during a time of famine.

“And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar ……. Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year one hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.” Genesis 26:1,12

Whatever is happening in the global markets, God is able to protect you and to bless you. He is even able to bring you amazing provision when everyone else of struggling, just as Isaac had a one hundredfold return during a time of famine.

Avoid Slavery to Debt

Debt is not sin, but debt does make people servants or slaves to others. Those who are in debt are vulnerable to having their situation overturned by the lender.

“The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

I reiterate that it is not sin to have debt, but it is dangerous. In a season of financial upheaval it is possible to be penalised by the one who has lent you the money. If you have the opportunity to get out of debt, that would be to your advantage and an excellent strategy.

Let God Purify Your Heart

When our faith is tested then so too is our heart. God holds our faith to be of great value. He tests us to see how we cope under various pressures and to see what comes out of our heart.

“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:10

As your financial and material security is put at risk your heart will be exposed. You will either trust God or be angry with Him. You will either rest in God’s provision or you will strive more and more in your own strength and cunning.

I have personally been through protracted times of hardship and those seasons tested and purified my heart. In such seasons I have been able to sort out my attitudes toward material goods, worldly values and God’s call on my life.

So, let God purify your heart even in the challenging financial times you may be going through.

Stand On God’s Word

People of faith know how to stand secure on the Word of God. God makes many promises about His blessings and His protection in our lives. Rather than looking to the newspaper headlines, you are much better to look into God’s Word and stand firm on what He is saying.

God says the He will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19) and that His blessing meets your needs without bringing you sorrow (Proverbs 10:22).

Look To God

People seek to protect what they have and to build up a greater store of assets. This is the desire for gain and fear of loss which drive so much of our markets.

The Bible reveals that God is our greatest source of security and blessing. In fact, unless God supports your plans for protection and profit you are wasting your time.

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders waste their time: unless the LORD protects the city, the watchman wakes in vain.” Psalm 127:1

Look to God, not your own cunning or resources. Your financial advancement and your security are found in him, not the markets or your clever ideas.

Help Us Turn Australia (and the Nations) back to God

God is challenging the pride and rebellion of the nations that try to survive without Him. Christians have the role of bringing the nations back to God. Rather than being eaten up in your own concerns, ask God how you can help to bring your nation to repentance and humility before God.

The Crash of 2008 part 2

We are experiencing an historic time which will be referred to in future years. What we don’t know yet is just how deep this crash is and the extent of the fallout which will come from it. What we do know is that markets are reeling and multiplied millions of people have already been affected.

Banks have been nationalised. Millions of people have lost their homes. Billions of dollars of stock value has disappeared in days. Fortunes have been lost and won. International summits have been called. Moments of hope have been established, only to be demolished by the next wave of bad news.

You’ll be able to tell your grandchildren you went through the Crash of 2008!

The Big Question

The big question that people want answered is, “What is really going on?” Is this the end of the world or just a bump along the road to progress? Will everything right itself or will the carnage continue?

To help you understand what is going on I have pulled together a list of factors that have contributed to our current situation.

Greed

Greed or the Love of Money gives people a willingness to put all at risk in order to get a profit. And greed is a big part of the operation of modern markets, whatever people are dealing with.

Back in the days of the South Sea Bubble the Poet Alexander Pope pointed to greed as a key factor in the huge losses of his day. He said of the South Sea debacle – “See Britain sunk in Lucre’s sordid charms”. By this he saw that it was the lust for “lucre” (money) that had dragged Britain into the quagmire of terrible losses.

The Apostle Paul taught that the “love of money” is the root of all evil – 1Timothy 6:10. Christians must be free from the desire for “greedy gain” (filthy lucre) 1Timothy 3:3,8, Titus 1:7,11, 1Peter 5:2.

I have often heard it noted that our present financial systems are dominated by Greed and Fear. These emotions dominate our markets and most financial decisions.

So greed is clearly one of the culprits in our present situation. If the world’s finances were to move to a better footing they would be based on the use of money for noble purposes, not to indulge people’s greedy ambitions.

International Power Brokers

There are people with sufficient financial power to control what happens to the rest of us. A number of the financial busts that have happened over the centuries have been created by financial manipulators.

It is claimed that one crash in the USA was planned four years in advance, so the bankers could buy farming land from bankrupted farmers. For those who want to get some idea of the history of international financiers acting as power brokers check out the Money Masters videos on YouTube.

Orchestrated Financial Machinations can enable those in control to gain the wealth and assets of others. For example, one strategy could be to allow people to make money and start new industries, then create a bust so you can buy the proven winners cheaply, then allow another boom, so you get the profit from other people’s innovation and hard work.

If people have borrowed money then they can be trapped into having to sell their asset to pay their debts. Thus their assets get taken off them.

In the present situation we will probably never know the extent to which the problems have been orchestrated by high-level power players. It is safe to say, however, that it is likely that people of power and influence have been active in the markets, steering things to their advantage when they can.

Divine Intervention

God is bigger than all the banks and governments in the world. When God brings judgement on a people or nation those being judged will suffer all kinds of negative things.

The Bible reveals how God brought enemies, famine, diseases and trouble upon the nation of Israel and other nations. God even prophesied in advance that those things were going to happen.

God also promises that if His people humble themselves and pray He will “heal their land”. “If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14

I am confident that God is at work in this present situation. I also believe that if God’s people will humble themselves and get right with God then further upheaval can be averted. I rather suspect, however, that we are heading down a rough road and people will persist in their rebellion for a while longer.

Sin has a Part to Play

The Bible says that sin is a reproach to a nation.

“Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34

God promises to curse people who reject Him, with famine and financial loss. See Deuteronomy 28 for the extensive discussion of blessings and curses on those who respond differently to God’s Word.

When nations give themselves over to selfishness and sin they bring problems and calamity onto themselves. The selfish determination to live as we please is sin, and God has every right to judge us for such defiance of His claim upon our lives.

Mammon is Ruling the Nations

Jesus said we either worship God or Mammon. Mammon is the desire for gain and the elevation of material wellbeing and self-interest over our willingness to worship God.

I have pointed out in other places that western culture is given over to the worship of Mammon. Instead of living for God and glorifying Him whole nations are living for self and glorifying themselves.

God says “Love Your Neighbour”, and Mammon says “Exploit Your Neighbour”. God says “Trust Me and I Will Bless You”, but Mammon says “Serve Me and I Will Bless You”.

Western Culture and much of the world are ruled by the desire for gain, not the willingness to bless others.

What is Going On?

What is going on is that we are reaping what we have sown. Greed, Power Games, Sin and Mammon worship have set us up for God’s response. God is intent on having us worship Him, as is our responsibility, since He gave us life and everything in it.

So the next concern we have to think about is, “What is God doing in all of this?” That is what I will take up with you when we come to the third instalment in this discussion.

Of Lords and Monarchs

Who is ruling you impacts who you can become. So take a moment or two to audit your own allegiances and discover your limitations.

Christians are familiar with the confession, “Jesus Christ is Lord”. That is a key element of personal salvation. Those who wish to be saved by the life and ministry of Jesus Christ must confess Him as Lord of their life. That brings them salvation.

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

Making that statement as a true confession can only be done with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

“….. no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit.” 1Corinthians 12:3b

The problem for people is that they are entangled with many different lords and monarchs, without realising it. The process of coming under Christ’s Lordship, then, is not as straight forward as one simple confession. It must be real and it usually involves a progressive revoking of other sovereignties along the way.

Many Lords

God’s people are frequently entangled with mixed allegiances and other lords who exercise some level of rule in or over their lives. The prophet Isaiah identified this in his prophecies.

“O LORD our God, other lords beside you have had dominion over us: but by you only will we make mention of your name.” Isaiah 26:13

Note Isaiah’s candid admission that God’s people have had other lords ruling over them. He also recognises that only God will be able to deliver them into a pure allegiance only to Him.

This is the predicament of most Christians. They are in practice polytheistic. My son, Stephen, goes so far as to speak of a Pantheon of idols which each culture gives allegiance to. Christians in western culture still hold most the west’s deities dear in their hearts. These other deities are lords which rule over the Christian, despite the confession of Christ as Lord.

Western Idolatry

The west idolises success, money, education, sex, materialism, fame, self-will and independence as just some of its cultural values. These are idols that are worshiped. Some people give their whole life to the pursuit of these things.

When people become Christians they will likely still continue to worship these cultural values. They will worship them as idols. And that brings them under dominion and lordship of those things.

How We Get Lords

When we worship something or give in to something outside of God’s moral order we become enslaved by it. It may be sin or an idol that we worship.

“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34

“Don’t you know that whoever you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?” Romans 6:16

God is Our Only King

Christians only have one king, The Lord God. Jesus and Almighty God are one God and so I could also rightly say that Jesus Christ is our only King.

Christians in the early church refused to bow to the Roman Caesar, saying that they had only one King and that was God. This put them at odds with the ruling power, since it proclaimed Caesar to be a god.

In the early days of the nation of Israel God ruled over the people through His agents the prophets and judges. God was their king. When the people demanded a human king God specifically noted that the people were rejecting Him from the place of their king.

“And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” 1Samuel 8:7

Replacing God as King

When we seek anything or anyone else to rule over us other than God, Himself, we are rejecting Him from the rightful place as King of our life. If we worship money or success, or chase relationships, fame or popularity, we are rejecting God. We are replacing Him as King, with another.

By that means we end up with many lords who have sovereignty over us. But we have not only offended and rejected God we have denied ourselves our own personal sovereignty.

Voiding Our Sovereignty

We have incredible personal sovereignty as subjects of the Living God. If the God who created all things is your King, and you have a direct line of succession from Him, then you are about as sovereign an entity as anything could be. You have pretty impressive personal privilege when you answer directly to God and Christ. That is exactly what we do as Christians.

We are not under the lordship of priests, pastors or church leaders. We are not under the lordship of temporal kings and government masters. Kings and governments serve our social existence, but we do not answer to them. Since the Roman days and back 1,500 years before then, to the days when Moses withstood the King of Egypt, we answer, as God’s servants, directly to God, Himself.

So when we choose to worship any intermediary sovereign, or come under the lordship of any other person or thing we are voiding our sovereignty. When you worship money you decimate your personal rights before God. You subordinate yourself to something lower than yourself. The same is true when you worship success, fame, political ambitions, career, relationships or people who you revere.

Worship anything but God at your peril!

Profit as an Idol

“All is fair in love, war and enterprise!” That seems to be the motto of western culture. And the heartbeat of enterprise is “Profit”! The Almighty Dollar reigns supreme in a materialistic culture and any course of action which turns a profit causes the enterprising to salivate.

So, for all intents and purposes, the materialistic western culture has raised an idol called ‘profit’. That is why the advice for all buyers in America is “Buyer Beware”. It seems that everyone accepts the right of the seller to rip-off the buyer. And why not, if profit is the universal morality?

I once purchased a $10 phone card in California, only to find that it had only $5 credit. When I contacted the company to rectify the fault I discovered it was not a ‘fault’ at all. The card was manufactured with only $5 phone credit. So I asked why they printed it with $10 on the card. The answer is that it is up to the retailer to advise me that the card only has $5 credit. Now, that’s deceptive, playing on the buyer’s acceptance of the clear impression given on the card that it is a $10 card and should provide $10 worth of credit.

When I shared this with others they smiled. They reminded me that in America the rule is “Buyer Beware!” If I was stupid enough to trust people then I deserved to be taken advantage of.

Profit Motive Overturns Morality

If ‘profit’ is the treasured moral value, then rip-off is the name of the game. Anything and everything that turns a profit is kosher. This then becomes the reality for everyone, from street peddler to global corporation. The Enron shenanigans reflect what must be reality for many corporations. Monopolies gain control of markets, not to benefit the consumer, but to optimise their profits. Facts are denied, as we saw in the tobacco industry and many drug and contamination cases. Responsibility is wrongly assigned, and so on.

Moral Foundations

Now, to be fair, no-one goes into business to lose money. But society is founded on moral principles. The most effective set of moral principles ever inculcated anywhere and at any time through human history is what we refer to as the Judeo-Christian values given to us in the Bible. When a culture moderates all of its practices by the standards expressed in the Mosaic law of the Old Testament and the teachings of Christ in the Gospels then it is able to dethrone the evil idols which would otherwise take over the society.

Sadly, the west has fled from Biblical standards and actively destroyed its Judeo-Christian foundations. Consequently we have evil idols rising from the sea of humanity. These are ugly beasts with fierce countenance and shameless blood-lust. They devour people’s houses, incomes, health, families, social assets, potential, reputation, and more, until they have wrung every drop out of the helpless.

One of these beasts is simply called ‘Profit’. Unrestrained, it is a leviathan. Caged by godly morality, it oils the wheels of enterprise.

The Challenge

I challenge you not to buy into the seduction of this evil spirit. When you find yourself gloating over someone taking advantage of another, stop to hear the sinister evil coming from your own chest. Don’t applaud those who defraud. Don’t envy those who perpetrate evil. Don’t justify the means by the end result of profit.

Beware the moral compromise which you set up inside yourself when you worship God on Sunday and then worship profit on Monday.

There’s profit in human embryos, abortion, drug dealing, deception, prostitution, tyranny, theft, extortion, blackmail, exploitation and a host of other things. If profit was prince then nothing else would be sacred. When you allow greed for profit to entwine your heart you are already being drawn to all kinds of evil.

How to Destroy this Idol

You need to revoke your worship of Profit. You need to commit yourself to God, trusting Him for the provision of all that you need. Then commit your business and your dealings to God, asking for His blessing on your enterprise. Commit at least a tenth of all you make to God. And ask God to keep your heart clean from greed, moral compromise, idolatry and evil.