The Prosperity Gospel holds sway in a vast number of churches. It can also easily hold sway in our churches and our hearts as well. The Prosperity Gospel is very attractive and very popular, but it is a false teaching which is very harmful to those who fall under its influence.
What is the Prosperity Gospel? It is the message which declares that if you become a Christian then you will have health, wealth and happiness. Moreover, if you become a really good Christian then you will have lots and lots of health wealth and happiness. Accordingly, in order to seek to prove its truth the leaders of church and ministries, where this message declared, must be very wealthy, very healthy and very happy.
What underlies the message? Three issues cause the message to deviate from the truth of the Bible. These are wrong perspectives on God, His blessings and His desires or His people.
- God is seen as a nice God who always brings nice things into the lives of His children. So if you have unpleasant things in your life then that proves God is not happy with you.
- His blessings are viewed in a worldly way. The way of the world is that I am happy and I get what I want. So God’s blessings are viewed in terms of a healthy bank account a fit an healthy body and happy circumstances.
- God is interested in me having a happy and comfortable life
Whereupon we must ask if these perspectives are not right then what should be the proper view of God, His blessings and His desire for his people.
- God is the true god I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord (Jer. 9:24b). God is not focussed on exercising niceness. He is focussed on exercising grace and truth. So we notice of our Lord Jesus as He entered this world that he was full of grace and truth (see John 1:14).
- Our blessings are not to be measured according to the measure of this world. Our blessings are connected to another world. Our blessings are not in ourselves, but in Christ (see Eph. 1:3)
- God is interested in me being holy and having all my satisfaction in Himself.
The agenda of the Prosperity Gospel is based on the agenda of this world, whilst the agenda of the true gospel is focussed on the world to come. In working out His agenda, so very often God gives His people very painful circumstances in this world. God’s people do suffer. The Book of Job in the Old Testament with all of its 1070 verses, is devoted to this theme. The question that underlies this book is: Does Job trust God for what he can get from Him (the worldly way) or does he trust Him because of who He is (the godly way)?
In the New Testament we immediately see how God’s agenda is different with the beginning of the ministry of our Lord Jesus. At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him (Mark 1:12-13). The Spirit of God sent the Lord to a hard place with hard experiences. But note that angels came from another world to sustain Him in the hardship.
And then we see with Paul how God sent a thorn in the flesh. Whatever that was, it was not nice. Let us read Paul’s account in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 as he looks back on this experience:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul suffered so that he would know the power of God.
We need to have these things rammed into our beings. We so easily think that God is being good to me only when I have good things and He is only answering my prayers when I get what I want. Yes thank the Lord when you do have blessings from him. Every meal you receive, for example, is an indication of His blessing. But remember you may have far more to thank God for through Him giving you a broken leg or him giving you a difficult colleague at work. This is because we learn far more when circumstances drive us to God than when everything is comfortable and we trust in our situations.
In the light of these things. I raise three concerns:
- So many people are thinking they believe in Christ, but they do not believe in the true Christ. Christ died for the forgiveness of our sins so that we might be like him. To believe that Christ died to bring great things to me is a lie and takes people to eternal hell.
- When bad things come into their lives so many (so-called?) Christians treat it as a blip in life and can say nothing about it. But when good things they are gushing with happiness. The true Christian knows that God is good in both and can worship Him in and through both.
- The false gospel of prosperity promises you contentment in what you have and fails. The true gospel offers you acceptance in Christ and eternal blessing in Him and succeeds.
So be finished with the teachings of the likes of Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, David Oyedepo and Enoch Adeboye. But more subtly be finished with any thought that God is only working good when I am passing exams or earning lots of money or achieving lots of things.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of September 2016)