GOD IS NEVER A BENEFICIARY IN THEOLOGY.
Darrell Ferguson, in his book “What’s So Great About God,” from Zondervan Press, 2011, says in his section on the Attributes of God, Attribute #37, “Generous Benefactor,” “He simply requires that they look to Him as their Benefactor…He requires only that we prefer the great banquet of God over the worthless banquet of this world. Their sin was to THINK OF GOD AS A BENEFICIARY – thinking He benefited from their worship – verse 9, – so the solution was to begin seeking Him as He is, the great and generous Benefactor, NOT BENEFICIARY.” (page 206, emphasis added)
Theologian Richard Baxter in the 1600’s wrote the following in his Theology book: “God as a Benefactor and a Governor, giveth some benefits Antecedently to any duty of man: And these are never a reward to us, (but of Christ perhaps, in some instances.) As Legislation, so the benefits of it, and that attend it, are before Reward and Judgment. But other benefits are given by God both as a Benefactor and Legislator, upon some condition of some duty of ours in the Antecedent gift, and so in the Judicial sentence and execution of that duty is rendered as the reason of our actual Right to them: And these are a Reward.” (page 231)
John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, he stated about the “Peace offering” the following: “Those principally respected the honour of God, who is to be served with the best, but the peace-offerings did primarily respect the benefit of the offerer, and therefore the choice was left to himself… But peace-offerings had regard to God as a BENEFACTOR to his creatures, and therefore were divided between the altar, the priest, and the offerer.”
Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible, Leviticus, Chapter 3, Verse one, echoed John Wesley when he wrote: “The peace offering had regard to God as a BENEFACTOR to his creatures, and the giver of all good things to us.”
In the “Language of the New Testament,” Volume 3, Frederick William Danker writes on Romans, Chapter 15, the following: “The recepeints of his letter are personal manifestations and exhibits of God’s beneficence (15:14) … Paul’s directive to recollect (put you in mind) refers to the apostolic assignment given him by God. In keeping with description of GOD AS A BENEFACTOR, Paul calls this assignment a “favor….” And so Paul can brag, but… he is only an agent in the service of the Supreme Benefactor.” (pages 85-86)
Charles Finney (not to be confused with Jerald, who believes God is a beneficiary), in his Systematic Theology, Volume 1, 1846, Lecture 21, states the following: “Gratitude is an attribute of benevolence, recognizes God as a BENEFACTOR to self in bestowing favors on others.”
Even Pastor John Piper has more reverence for God than Attorney Finney. Piper stated, “BEWARE of serving God as a Benefactor. ‘Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything.'” Acts 17:25
In Theology Explained and Defended, Volume 3 (1818), Timothy Dwight explains on page 433, “The Infinite Mind is the Infinite Benefactor of the Universe. As the Source and Centre of all existence; as the great Benefactor of all beings; as the Subject of divine blessedness, and excellence; God would be regarded by such a disposition with supreme benevolence and complacency.”
In his work Enthroned with Christ (2008), author Juraj Fenik writes: “In presenting God as inundating humanity with all spiritual blessings, the benediction conceives him above all as a giver who acts out of altruistic generosity and whose work is to confer boons. Perhaps ‘Benefactor’ would be an apt title to designate the God of Ephesians 1:3-14. Neyrey accurately captures this perspective through the following words: ‘To be God means to bestow unmerited blessings…'” (pages 71-72)
A Warning to Those who Make GOD the BENEFICIARY
The Ordinary Trust document that Attorney Finney uses does indeed make God the Beneficiary of the offerings and the property. In other words, the Church and the People are the Benefactors of God. They give because they can Benefit God? That is blasphemy! Neither the Church nor the People would be able to give anything unless a Gracious God provided for them first. Am I nitpicking? Search your hearts, oh people of God! Ye who agree to bring the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob down to a common beggar who has needs, to whom WE can give to meet His needs. Continue on, Attorney Finney, with your heady, high-minded attitude of Omniscience. Continue on, oh Churches of Jesus Christ who “say” that you have Jesus Christ as your Head. Continue on, you Pastors who Manage the Trust FOR your Beneficiary, Jesus Christ. Why do you not ask the all-wise and all-knowledgeable Attorney Finney how many States allow Ordinary Trusts to name their pet animal as a Beneficiary of their Trust! The same type of Ordinary Trust that names a person’s DOG as the Beneficiary, can also name a person’s GOD as a Beneficiary? “Stop it Townsend! Stop making fun of our Beloved Ordinary Trust! You don’t know Trust Law!” No, but I am quite familiar with a God that reached down and saved my wicked soul and set me on a solid Rock, Jesus Christ. This same God called me to preach the Gospel for Him and pastor a local church of which HE is the Head. I know HIM! I keep asking myself, “Would HE be pleased with a local church naming themselves as HIS benefactor, and naming Him their Beneficiary?” That is between you and God. But do not bring me with you to that point. I care not for bringing God down to the level of a dog. Perhaps Attorney Finney delights in it, as he has “studied it intensely.” Perhaps bringing God from BENEFACTOR down to BENEFICIARY was his true desire. Perhaps turning a God-called Pastor into a mere “Administrative Trustee” was his true desire. Perhaps turning the Church of Jesus Christ in to a Grantor Person who Benefits God is a thrill for him. But I will never have any part in it. Jesus Christ is my LORD! Jesus Christ is my ALL! I am NOTHING! I cannot bring myself to the point where I can even think that I am any BENEFIT to Him.