(Note: all Scriptures are from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible with some archaic words, such as thee or thou, modified by me into modern English. All italicized Scriptures were done so by me for emphasis.)
You shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
– Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8)
Investing with God
May 15, 2007 was an especially exciting morning for me because at the time I had some surplus funds to “put to work.” I had zeroed in on some junior mining companies and after some research produced a list of three to diversify into. Near the end of my prayer time that morning I committed the transactions into God’s hands and gave ear. As I walked back and forth through my living room, I heard repeatedly in my spirit:
“Put it all in Industrias Penoles”
God’s advice did not seem like the best decision to me, for reasons I’ll explain later. Notwithstanding, what could I do but obey? Less than a year later the price of the stock had risen more than threefold. The combined three stocks that I had initially picked lost money. The thought of purchasing Penoles that morning birthed all sorts of mental objections, and led to me giving God deadlines for results (jokingly, of course). However, what it did do was unlock a door that launched me into an entirely new comprehension of investing.
The Truth on Risk
The financial industry generally defines risk as future investment return being different than expected, including the possibility of losing a portion of, or even the entire, original principal amount. It has been said that there is no such thing as a risk-free investment. In the face of inquisitive opposition I say—it depends. Jesus gave us the following warning in the book of Matthew:
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust do corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust do corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (6:19–21)
Any brief study of world history shows us that it would have been very difficult for anyone to sustain wealth for a lengthy period of time. Time and time again deceptive scales, wars, natural disasters, pestilences, fraud, theft and so forth have leveled personal savings. In fact, it is quite naïve for anyone today to passively invest their savings in bond and equity index funds over a lengthy period, say 30–50 years, and just expect to have a large sum of equivalent funds waiting for them at the end. These are the types of prideful mindsets that temporarily emanate from the citizens of wealthy nations. They seep errors into the frameworks that fashion financial education.
Jesus metaphorically tells us to put our wealth in heaven to ensure that our heart is there also—an inseparable reality. We must obviously put our wealth somewhere on earth. Our heart is either focused on earth’s desires or heaven’s desires. If my heart is focused on worldly desires, then my wealth is susceptible to moth, rust, corruption, theft and so forth. If my heart is focused on heaven’s desires, then my wealth is directed for God’s kingdom. We find then a spiritual law: it is impossible to have a sense of ownership for anything invested according to God’s direction. This same principle reveals the reality of risk in investment terms. Investment conceived from the mind of man is destined for man’s purposes and definitely has risk. Investment conceived from the mind of God is destined for His purposes and does not have risk. It is impossible to have your heart focused on heaven and invest from the mind of man. The existence of risk is initiated when an investment is made without God’s direction.
If we compare the ability of being able to invest through God’s direction with the way the financial community views investing, an interesting contrast emerges. The financial industry has been indoctrinated with techniques to “beat the benchmark” in various asset classes, which is essentially just doing better than average. It is amazing how many complicated methods are used in an attempt to perform above average and, of course, most do not. This is what I call man’s financial religion, functioning just like man’s regular religious practices. They both have impotent traditions, errant dogma, ineffective intellectual mystiques, corruption and so on, resulting in a bunch of distractions that work against simple truth. There is typically a lot of fear surrounding such a religious system, at some point it fails, and yet the mass of people just accept it as the way it is. Neither have the ability to produce the exceptional works of God, only mediocrity.
There is an ability to function with God, out of His person dwelling within, in investing. The real Christian life, as it was demonstrated in the book of Acts, is a supernatural walk with God. Did you ever wonder why some of the most brilliant people get wiped out in the financial industry? There is a hidden dynamic in operation clearly laid out by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church:
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, he that glories, let him glory in the Lord.
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save [except] Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18–2:5)
The wisdom of God is hidden in the simplicity of Jesus’ death on the cross. It unlocks the door for the creation to walk with the Creator. Paul declared that the true preaching of the gospel is Jesus Christ revealing Himself to man with ensuing demonstrations of power by the Holy Spirit working in their lives. Likewise, our walk with God is to continue in this fashion so that our “faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God”—a truly supernatural life.
Obtuse, man-made investment strategies ultimately fail against simple strategies just as God’s power is not brought forth “with enticing words of man’s wisdom.” Those that simply love and obey Him—who are viewed as the “foolish things of the world”—will be used to “confound the wise.” Why does He do it this way? So that no man could ever stand before Him and boast that he is in control. Remember, that type of pride was where sin and the world’s economy originated. This concept is summarized nicely in Proverbs 11:2: “When pride comes, then comes shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.”
When I went to invest on that spring morning, I was going to diversify my purchases to reduce risk. For someone investing who does not know God, this makes perfect sense; however, for someone who does, there is an entirely different playing field. When God spoke to me to put it “all” in Penoles, and I obeyed, I broke through the confinement of financial religion. In general, when God speaks to us and we obey, we will break through the norms of man-made religious perspective. God is very, very awesome. He is not just looking to beat the benchmark by a few percentage points—he is fully intending to crush it!
What this comes down to for you in your field of investment is that you cannot release your several ability with your wisdom. [Editor's note: Several Ability is a concept reviewed in the previous chapter (4).] It must be His. Then, when those on the outside ask you how you did it, you will only be able to point to Jesus Christ. Most people do not need another financial conference—they just need Him. The best part about investing like this is that you are drawn closer and closer to God as you become totally dependent on Him for direction.
Leaving The Herd Forever
Starting today, how much effort would be required to earn a 2,000% return on an investment over the course of the next 10 years? Ruling out random chance, think about it and mentally record your response.
How you answered this question reveals whether or not you are ready to invest with God. Your answer will fall into one of the following four categories:
- You do not believe it is possible, so why bother.
- You believe it could be accomplished through extensive research coupled with a superior strategy.
- You believe it could be done if you just had….
- You know it requires minimal effort because you have previously been given wisdom by God that you utilized to generate exceptional investment returns.
These four categories are representative of the following four types of investors:
- Mr. Mediocre
- Mr. Superior Knowledge
- Mr. Inactive
- Mr. Knows Jesus Christ
Mr. Mediocre is the type of investor who follows the herd. The herd is not only those who invest at the top of every bull market but also those who genuinely accept investment strategies based on current, commonly accepted educational theories. An example of such a theory is the notion that one should invest approximately 100% in stocks from age 20–35, 80% in stocks and 20% in bonds from age 35–45, 60% in stocks and 40% in bonds from age 45–55 and 40% in stocks and 60% in bonds thereafter. Now pretend that you are 60 years old and your inflation rate is actually 8% (regardless of what anyone else says it is). If the average bond yield is 4% and you invest 60% of your assets in bonds, you are essentially deciding to lose 4% a year on 60% of your portfolio. Yet, as I write, this is common practice. Where is the wisdom in this?
Mr. Mediocre is one who feels security in following what the majority is doing. His lack of knowledge causes him to accept what is commonly taught, such as evolution. His life is structured around limitation. He has no faith in God and lives only by what he sees. He exalts the wisdom of man over the wisdom of God (if he realizes it exists).
Mr. Superior Knowledge is one who does not follow the herd. Because he is typically a hard worker who spends extensive time researching information, he is usually able to identify successful long-term investment trends before the herd. He often possesses a high level of integrity and is admired in his field. Although his investment returns are usually much higher than average, no one in his category will actually achieve a level of return approaching 2,000%.
Mr. Inactive is one who commonly says one thing yet does another. He avoids the uncomfortable and clings to false hopes not based on reality. He is likely to play the lottery and when investment bubbles come along, he tends to get involved at the peak with the herd when it appears that a lot of money can be made easily. If he claims to be a Christian, he is usually attracted to and led astray by false teachers, especially those preaching that the gospel is all about his carnal prosperity. His lack of diligence is a barrier to him being able to invest successfully.
What is the common trait of Mr. Mediocre, Mr. Superior Knowledge, and Mr. Inactive? They all lack the knowledge of God, and in place of it the fallen human nature rules them. This sin nature perverts the life that God has intended for them. It causes them to trust in themselves through one of, or a combination of, either (1) man’s conventional knowledge (or traditions), (2) man’s exhaustive labor, (3) man’s intellectual superiority, or (4) a false hope (deception). To understand why this happens we must go back to the beginning.
The first chapter of Genesis tells us that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). When the Bible says “image” in this verse, it is referring to the spiritual resemblance of God. Adam and Eve were made perfectly; their spiritual core was without sin. God’s creative intent was that His likeness would shine forth through the soul and body of His creation. Everything in their lives was designed to function out of the knowledge of Him, and life without complete trust in Him did not exist. God gave Adam one command—to preserve and multiply His wonderful creation: “… Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you should not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16–17). He was warning him that if he ate of the knowledge of sin it would result in spiritual death that would also eventually lead to a physical death.
The account of what happened in chapter three is very important for us to understand and extremely relevant to the world we live in today:
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. And the serpent said unto the woman, You shall not surely die: for God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (1–6)
When Eve looked to herself—self-leadership equals sin—blindness set in.
Ever since, people, without the knowledge of God, have been deceived and corrupted by the sin nature (selfish nature) they were born with. The same deception is as popular as ever today. People are told that there is a “secret” wisdom they can access, that they have the power within themselves’ to change their life for the better, and that they can be their own god! Some say the human race is “evolving” to a new place? Actually, it is just becoming worse as it rejects God more. The power of this corrupt nature works in Mr. Mediocre, Mr. Superior Knowledge and Mr. Inactive to conform their soul and body to a corrupted likeness that does not resemble God. Legendary stock trader Jesse Livermore observed, “The speculator’s chief enemies are always boring from within.”19
Did you ever notice that people involved in certain occupations, hobbies or activities typically conform to similar lifestyles? They speak their own lingo, dress a certain way and buy all sorts of merchandise related to it that they really do not need, nor have the time to enjoy unless their life is totally consumed by that activity. They are being conformed to vain images.
I love to explain to teenage radicals (typically dressed outlandishly, etc.) that they are really not rebelling but are following the herd that has rejected God. The joy is to show them that the true answer they are searching for is Jesus Christ. Make no mistake about it, true Christians are the most peculiar people on earth because they are conformed to the image of God.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Galatia that they “are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26–27). The Greek word, translated here “baptized,” is baptizo, which means “to immerse” or “to submerge.” At the very core, the born-again believer having “put on Christ,” has been conformed to the spiritual image of God. The seed of God’s original creative intent has been planted in them even if it does not look like it on the outside (according to man’s standards).
Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus told His disciples:
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world sees me no more; but you see me: because I live, you shall live also. At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:16–21)
Upon reading this you may have asked yourself, “What exactly does all this mean?” or “How can Jesus be in God the Father with me in Him and Him in me?” Let me explain the importance of all this.
Consider a man who hears the gospel message for the first time. The Holy Spirit is there knocking on his heart, because He wants to get in to give him freedom from sin. If he repents of his sin and receives Christ into his heart, he is telling God that he no longer wants to live with the character of sin but with His holy character. The instant that decision is made in his heart, God’s Spirit comes and lives in him. God’s Spirit and his human spirit become one, causing him to be spiritually conformed to the righteous nature of God and no longer to that of sin’s destructive nature. His spirit is then comprised of the whole nature of God. God is omnipresent. Jesus, having risen from the dead, is God in heaven and He lives in him (verifying his eternal salvation), as He said, “The world sees me no more; but you see me: because I live, you shall live also.” When He said, “you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you,” He was speaking of the spiritual union the believing man would have with God. His spirit within him receives God’s words from heaven and if he welcomes them (“keep them”), he comes to know Christ and He lives through his life. He loves God (“he it is that loves me”) because he demonstrates that he wants to partake of His divine nature and not the nature of sin.
The Most High is ultra smart. He really knows what He is doing. He knows that if you want apples you must plant apple seeds, and if you want holy sons of God you must plant seeds of righteousness (in them). The religions of the world attempt to harvest eternal life from plants growing from the wrong seed. They take orange trees and say and write and do to try to get apples from them, but they cannot. Religious piety is just manure on the wrong crop. Jesus Christ—the only one who was raised from the dead—is the only one with the right seeds, and only He can plant them. Though it is often used as a religious cliché, this is what being born again really means. It is purely a work of God available to anyone who receives Christ, regardless of their race, nationality or past history. Being a Christian is being “Christ-like” because you have Him living in you. It is not a religion. The world’s religions leave the sin nature in man and act as if it is gone, but this is all a lie. They are systems led by posers seeking their own.
Jesus said that “God is a Spirit …” (John 4:24), so if I am to hear God’s voice it must come through my spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:17 declares, “He that is joined unto the LORD is one spirit” so if my spirit is one with His Spirit within me then I have constant communion with God. I am in continuous fellowship with Jesus Christ, and He can speak to me at any time or place.
Your spirit is the real you. You are an eternal being. Your spirit will eternally dwell in hell or heaven. The simple conclusion is that right now everyone is either a child of God or a child of the Devil, depending upon their spiritual nature. Those who have not received the free gift of salvation God’s way (Jesus Christ) are spiritually dead. Their core being is the spiritual nature of sin. They are unable to hear God’s voice, as their spirit can only communicate with the demonic realm. They are unable to know truth and they are unable to experience the life that God designed them for. This is why Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Those who claim to have a relationship with God that has not come through Jesus Christ are deceived. All understanding they claim to have has been given to them by demonic voices leading them astray.
The Apostle Paul wrote: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Every human is a three-part being comprised of a spirit, a soul and a body. Our spirit is the core behind it all. Our soul is our mind, will and emotions. Our body is all of our physical components, including the five natural senses (taste, touch, hearing, smell, sight). Our spirit, soul and body are connected and flow together.
Before an individual receives Christ his spirit lies in darkness. He can only walk in his carnal nature. However, regarding those who have received Christ, the Bible tells us that “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17), and that they “have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:10). So those who have received Christ have the empowerment needed to live as a new man, whereas it is still an impossibility for those who have not. God’s desire is that we let Him live through us, so our soul and body are led by our spirit (in union with Him) and not our carnal flesh.
Mr. Mediocre, Mr. Superior Knowledge and Mr. Inactive all lack the character, knowledge and actions of Mr. Knows Jesus Christ (KJC), who is investing according to God’s ability. They may even be spiritually changed at the core, but based on their lifestyle you may not be able to recognize it. Consider what Paul wrote to the Romans:
I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (12:1–2)
When we present our “bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God,” we set aside our souls’ desires and accept the desires of God. Jesus is recorded six times in the four gospels teaching that when we lose our life we find it, in addition to multiple other references to the same principle. The Greek word psyche, translated “life” in these teachings, is also translated “soul” on many other occasions.
Obedience to the Word of God causes the life of Christ to fill our mind, will and emotions. The renewal process of laying down our life, to live the one He reveals, produces a transformation in us that causes us to truly know Jesus Christ. Through our lives the attributes and wisdom of God are made known to the world. It is here that Mr. KJC emerges from one of the other three men, because every Mr. KJC was first, at one time, one of them. It is here that he finds all those who are actually outside of the herd—“… the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).
Mr. KJC yields seemingly impossible investment returns because he is not doing it, God is. They are unlocked through the life of Christ in Him as Jesus declared, “… With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). What the investment world calls the “herd” is, in all reality, all those investing without God’s wisdom. Mr. Superior Knowledge thinks he is outside of it, but he is not.
19. Edwin Lefevre, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator. (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2006), 114. [Originally published: New York: G.H. Doran, 1923]
I enjoy the feedback of readers. Please comment below to start a discussion.
Joshua S. Hall, ChFC
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The True Vine Letter is a publication of True Vine Investments, the investment advisory business of Joshua S. Hall, ChFC, and a Registered Investment Advisor in the U.S.A. The information presented is for educational purposes only and should not be regarded as specific financial or investment advice nor a recommendation to buy or sell securities or other investments. It does not have regard to the investment objectives, financial situation, and the particular needs of any person who may read this Letter. True Vine Investments will not be held responsible for the independent financial or investment actions taken by readers. All data presented by the author is regarded as factual, however, its accuracy is not guaranteed. Investors are encouraged to conduct their own comprehensive evaluation of financial strategies or specific investments and consult a professional before making any decisions.
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