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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Arnold Adams' Wise Investment Counsel

Since 1976 when my thinking on insurance had been deeply challenged, I’d personally begun searching out scriptural principles relative to finances. I’d begun to realize that scriptural principles in these (and many other) matters were diametrically opposed to common sense ideas in the world.
I’d learned that borrowing money was a practice never encouraged in scripture and one that was, in fact, forbidden and warned against. “Owe no man anything but to love one another.” Rom.13:8 and, “The borrower is servant to the lender.” Prov.22:7 Rather than lending, we are encouraged in scripture to freely give when others are in need and that if we give to one in need, we are actually lending to the Lord and He will definitely repay! Matt.5:42; Prov.19:17. I’d also learned by experience that lending was one of the quickest ways to destroy a friendship! When one finds it impossible to repay a loan, his own inability to do so and the lender’s expectation of repayment destroys the relationship between former friends! But giving freely to meet needs builds and strengthens friendships.

I’d also learned that co-signing for a loan or “becoming surety for another’s debts” was another practice forbidden and warned against in scripture. (Prov.6:11; 11:15 and 17:18) And the entire idea of “saving” money, which most modern financial planners say is absolutely essential, is forbidden by the Lord Jesus, Himself! He called it “laying up for yourselves treasures upon earth”! (Matt.6:19) In contrast, His counsel which is a stark contrast to the concept of “saving” is “laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven”! Matt.6:20

One night, after a ministry meeting, I was standing in the company of a number of other young men talking with an older brother, Arnold Adams, of Orillia. The conversation had somehow turned to financial matters and investments. Mr. Adams, a man we had all come to know, love and respect commented, “The only wise investments are eternal investments!”
When someone asked him what he meant, Mr. Adams replied, ‘If you are going to make eternal investments, you’ve got to invest in eternal commodities!” He then paused while we tried to digest that thought in order to understand where he was going! But he continued, “There are only two of them……people are eternal and the Word of God is eternal! So if you invest your lives seeking to get people into the Word of God and the Word of God into people, you will have investments which you will never lose but which will continue to pay rich dividends for all eternity! But by way of contrast, Mr. Adams also warned us with these words, “If you invest in anything else, you will lose it all, for everything else is going to burn!

With those few brief sentences, I believe Arnold Adams gave us the best financial advice we could ever receive! I don’t recall now who the others were who heard that counsel and I don’t know how it affected them or if they even remembered it. But I know that those few sentences were etched indelibly in my mind and have since guided me at many points in my life, when decisions had to be made in financial matters!

Mr. Adams’ remarks that night also helped me to understand and appreciate the Lord Jesus’ teaching in Matt.25 regarding the stewardship of the servants to whom the Master entrusted “talents” while He was on a long journey. I’ve often heard that passage used to justify various forms of monetary investments in order to receive greater returns which could then be invested in “the Lord’s work”! But after hearing Mr. Adams’ counsel on “eternal investments” I began to understand Matthew 25 in a whole new light!

Two common errors that are made by those who use this passage to justify earthly “investments” are these:
(1) They calculate the “returns” of various investments in time. But the value of the investments of servants in Matthew 25 are not calculated until the time of the Master’s return! When the value of worldly investments (Christians’ bank accounts, RRSP’s, stocks and bonds etc) are calculated at His return, they will all be just as worthless as the one talent that was buried in the earth. For that is precisely where they will be!
(2) They calculate returns based on man’s “interest rates”! But they forget that the very best “interest rate” that any earthly investor can hope for is just “peanuts” compared to the “30 fold, 60 fold and 100 fold” returns which are promised on “ eternal investment portfolios”! Matt.13:23 and Mark 4:8

It is for these reasons that I always enjoy it when insurance salesmen or others call who want me to consider investing in their schemes or plans! I tell them about the One who has given me “Life Assurance” and “Fire Assurance” which are entirely free to me and have no premiums! Since “insurance plans” are only good “in case of” certain calamities, they do not really offer “life insurance” or “health insurance”! What they offer is only “in case of illness” or “in case of death”. It is really only “sickness insurance” or “death insurance”! When folks call, offering some new investment scheme, I always love to tell them about the 30 fold, 60 fold and 100 fold returns on my investments! I always tell them that if they can offer returns which are better than what I’m already guaranteed, not only for time but for eternity, I’ll buy!!! I haven’t yet had to spend a penny on such temporal scams!! How much better to invest everything we can in getting people into the Word of God and the Word of God into people!

Arnold Adams was a man who lived what he taught! He invested his life preaching the Gospel and teaching the scriptures to the Lord’s people. He didn’t bother with investments in things which were not eternal. Less than a year ago, (February 6th, 2007) he consciously stepped onto the shores of home and left his earthly body at the age of 93.
I had the privilege of being at his funeral and it was one of the most joyful celebrations I’ve ever attended, but I’m sure it paled in comparison to his reception in glory as he met His Saviour face to face!

You can read two tributes to Arnold Adams at


Anonymous said...

"A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children..." Proverbs 13:22
Hi Dad! I've been meaning to leave a comment since you wrote this post, and am just getting to it now. I used to think that this verse applied to a financial inheritance, but I believe now more than ever that it is a spiritual inheritance. Tim and I were just talking about this last night, and we are thankful for you, and for others, who wish to pass on this most precious inheritance.
Love you, Steph

Bruce Woodford said...

I think you are so right, Steph. A lot of good men are unable to leave any financial inheritance! But every good man leaves an inheritance of values, convictions, beliefs and examples for his descendants for generations to come. Also, realizing that all scripture ultimately speaks of Christ (Luke 24:27), what an inheritance has been left to us by THE GOOD MAN! What an inheritance we have in HIM! (Ephesians 1:1-14)
Lots of love, Dad