Our Greatest Achievement
At the beginning of this year at a planning meeting, I asked the team:“What is Liberty Trust's greatest achieved in our 28 years?”Creating an interest-free storehouse of $45 million without borrowing or support from grants is certainly an amazing achievement which has blessed several hundred individuals and churches. But this isn't our greatest achievement.
Teaching & Demonstrating God's Financial Principles
Liberty Trust’s chief achievement over the last 28 years is the part it has played in teaching and demonstrating the Bible’s financial principles - teaching what the Bible actually says, correcting common myths and errors, and demonstrating by practical example that the Bible’s financial principles are true, relevant and trustworthy today, and emphasising that the Church is called to be a community of God's people, pooling their resources and assisting one another.
Liberty Trust’s Trust Deed states that our principal purpose is teaching the Bible’s principles of finance. Running a Biblical mortgage fund is a demonstration of that. When we began Liberty Trust we soon realised that the Bible’s financial principles were a major area of the Bible which was largely neglected by church leaders and teachers, perhaps because they didn’t feel confident to teach the principles because finance was a problem in their own lives.
When Liberty Trust began in 1989 many church leaders thought it was naïve to believe that financial principles from the Bible were still relevant today. There seemed to be a general belief that the Bible had nothing practical to say in the 20th century about handling money and that the teachings of Christ about financial principles were for a world 2,000 years ago - certainly not for today. The general view was that the Bible was sacred but the financial teachings were temporary & worldly and the two should not be mixed. If church folk wanted to learn about finance they should go to the secular world, not the Bible!
However these views are far from the truth. The Old & New Testaments are brimming full of great teaching regarding our finances, the importance of using our funds wisely, and the good we should bring on Earth as good stewards of God’s resources. Christ taught us the importance of handling money and material possessions wisely and responsibly (eg Luke 16:10-13). Unless people understand the importance of Bible’s principles such as “Sowing and Reaping”, “Stewardship”, “Storehouse”, and “Support for others”, they will waste the gifts that God has given them. There are ten times as many verses in the New Testament dealing with the stewardship and accountability for finance, than teaching on either faith or salvation!* Jesus taught more about money and material possessions than about any other subject!
Why, when God owns “the cattle on a thousand hills”, is The Church generally short of money when it comes to resourcing the gospel to the nations!? Is it because The Church of today has largely failed to understand, believe, and implement the great financial principles taught and commanded in the Bible?
Ignorance of the Bible's Teaching
We have often been astounded at the apparent world-wide ignorance and erroneous teaching of the Bible’s financial principles throughout Christendom. For example - the Trust was frequently criticised because we were lending to people to borrow for a home, and therefore “putting people into debt”. Like Shakespeare ("Neither a borrower nor a lender be") many of America’s most influential Bible teachers were declaring at one time that it was sinful to borrow and to have a mortgage, and that lenders were most damnable. Amazingly they were basing this on a single verse (Rom 13:8 “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law”) - and they were quoting it out of its context. If you read this verse in its context you will see that it refers to the preceding verses on obeying the laws of civilian authorities. Paul uses the word “debt” to describe the guilty relationship we will have with civil authorities if we break their laws. He uses the word debt as a metaphor.
At that time, house prices in America were so low, and incomes so high, that it was possible to save up and pay cash for a house. Economic conditions in America began to change in the 1990s, and as a result, these Bible teachers changed their theology to suit the circumstances. What was astonishing however was the way in which many church leaders in NZ believed this teaching from popular TV preachers, and continued to teach in their churches that the Bible said it was wrong to have any debt, including a mortgage.
However, the only alternative to borrowing to buy a home for most is to borrow a home from a landlord - which is usually just as burdensome and wasteful as a bank mortgage, if not more! So ironically by following the teaching that they should not go into debt, most families were actually consigned to a lifetime of debt - borrowing homes from a series of landlords for the rest of their lives!
It was astonishing how many church leaders in NZ believed & taught the erroneous teaching that borrowing & lending = sin without question, putting their congregations under a great burden. Why did so many NZ leaders perpetuate such harmful & erroneous teaching? – Because, (sadly), they didn’t know the Bible’s financial principles.
The Bible frequently encourages us to lend without interest to help each other. Nowhere in the Bible does it command us not to borrow - those considering going into debt generally had little choice, and still don’t. Debt in Bible times was common and lending to help those in need was a charitable act. Exodus 22:25, Lev 25:36, Deut 15:8, Deut 23:19, Ps 15:5, Ps 37:26, Ps 112:5, Prov 28:8, Matt 5:42 and other Scriptures teach and command us to mercifully, generously and selflessly lend without interest. People in need had few choices. If they could not borrow from their fellowmen at charitable terms they might be forced to depend on usurious money lenders which could ultimately end in slavery. By lending interest-free, we follow Bible instructions & enable people to become debt-free no matter what the world’s interest rates may be, so they can give and live with true Kingdom liberty.
Establishing God's Kingdom
Another common criticism was: “Why were we starting Liberty Trust now when Christ was coming back very soon?” Many Christians in 1989 were living in the personal expectation that they were placed here on Earth on trial until they would be rescued for a life with Christ in heaven. Why would we set up an interest-free storehouse today if it would ultimately be destroyed?
Now Christians are becoming aware that, like Adam and Eve, we are all commissioned with the responsibility to be stewards of the earth and all God has made. We are to partner with God to proclaim and establish His Kingdom here on earth (Mtt 4:17, 12:28) so God’s will may be done on Earth as it is in Heaven (Mtt 6:10). So the loud voices may proclaim “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever!” Rev 11:15.
Ultimately, we will see the marriage of Christ and His Church, on earth. “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.” Rev 21:2
An interest-free storehouse enabling Christians to own their own homes without debt is heralding the coming Kingdom of joy and liberty.
Money should be used for God's glory
Another erroneous teaching that has actually been around for centuries is that money is evil and holy people should avoid it as much as possible lest they fall into sin.
This was often based on a misquote of 1 Tim 6:10 which teaches that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil - many people shorten and erroneously quote this passage in isolation, thinking it teaches that money is evil. But that would not fit the rest of Scripture. Throughout the Bible there are hundreds of verses teaching how money can (and should) be used as a force for good - for example Matthew 25:27, Lk 10:35, Lk 16:9 etc.
When Christ warns that we cannot serve both God and Money (Mtt 6:24) this is not because one is spiritual and one is physical, but because both are spiritual. The word “Money” here is actually “Mammon” - the Philistine god of money. We must choose who to serve. Will we be a servant of God and use our resources God’s way, or a servant of Satan and use our resources his way?
Today the churches are beginning to recognise that money is not to be feared and avoided as evil but accepted and respected as a gift of God to be used for His work and glory. This change in theology is fundamental. If Liberty Trust can play a small part in further opening that window of revelation to the Bible’s truths about this God-given gift, it has achieved God’s purpose. Already we are seeing much that is encouraging. Leaders are increasingly esteeming those in their churches who have gifts in administration, accounting, and business. Many churches today are even encouraging their members to meet regularly as special-interest groups and pray and encourage one another in Godly businesses. There is a greater understanding that the world’s way of lending and using resources brings oppression, but that God has a way of using resources which brings freedom. Above all, Christians, by their speech and actions, are testifying to the secular world that the Bible contains all the answers for today, seven days a week.
Another Bible principle taught and demonstrated by Liberty Trust is that we as a Body of Christ are called to provide for needs using storehouses. Many Christians are afraid to store resources or funds, believing this to be un-Godly. But God uses storehouses and recommends storehouses dozens of times in the Scriptures (for example Gen 6:19-21, Gen 41:35, Deut 14:28-29, Deut 28:12, Prov 6:6-8, Prov 21:20, Mal 3:10, Mtt 25:4 Acts 4:32). Having resources set aside to be used to help yourself and others through tough times is Biblical and God promises to bless your storehouse for His glory (Deut 28:8). More on this teaching.
Liberty Trust is in a unique position to teach the Bible's principles of finance, having experienced the blessing of following these principles and having passed on the blessing by lending over $45 million interest-free to bless hundreds of others. Rev. 12:11 says: “and they overcame him by the word of their testimony.” Our testimonies and stories of literally applying the Bible’s financial principles are opening the doors of peoples’ hearts to listen to the teaching of those principles. We even find this when sharing with non-church people. Everyone is interested in talking “money”, it seems. Pastor Bruce McDonald, our patron and our original visionary, is actively writing and holding seminars throughout NZ on the Bible’s principles of finance. In addition, we teach through our website, social media and written material and at outreaches.
You may be surprised at the level of interest and respect that our website earns from Christians around the world. At every seminar Pastor Bruce speaks at overseas he shares on Liberty Trust as a living testimony to the principles he is teaching. Often the response is: “We need this here”. As the High Court judge said in her decision which overturned the decision of the Charities Commission: “These people are doers of the word, not hearers only,” She was quoting James 1:22. The story of Liberty Trust is a testimony that God’s principles work.
The testimony of Liberty Trust is having a huge influence worldwide, far greater than we realise. What we see is only a mustard seed of what He will create from it. Thanks for partnering with us of what is undoubtedly God’s plan.
Kelvin Deal, Chairman
*Craig Hill: “Living on the Third River”