SOURCE: These are tough economic times and it is quite understandable for people to want a way out of their present difficulties. But “everything that glitters is not gold” and many of us are chasing bogus remedies and looking for that elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow only to find ourselves bitterly disappointed. Alas, this peddling of bogus remedies is not confined to the secular world but has become an existential reality in some churches.
One thing that should stand out to all believers is the salient truth that the Church has been properly and soundly established on a foundation of settled doctrine, and there can be nothing added or taken away from it. All believers need to understand that all Christian sects and all deviant Christian groups all have one thing in common; they are guilty of distorting Christian theology and deliberately misinterpreting the Holy Scriptures as given to us in the Bible.
True believers know that the focus of their life is things spiritual and not material. True happiness is about being saved and having this special relationship where the complete body, soul and spirit is in harmony with the Creator and there is no condemnation or issues affecting our settled and profound joy.
It is necessary that believers understand that from the beginning of Christianity they were those who had no interest in the spiritual and divine aspects of the faith but wanted to exploit it for financial gain. When Simon Magus saw the Apostles Peter and John imparting the power of the Holy Spirit by laying their hands on believers he offered them money to buy that gift and was soundly rebuked, “But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.” (Acts 8:20) Simon wanted the power of the Holy Spirit so he could fascinate people and make a lot of money.
So what are we to make of this Prosperity theology that goes under a variety of names, such as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, the gospel of success, the name it and claim it gospel etc.
What we can say with absolute assurance is that the Bible doesn’t teach this prosperity gospel, at least not as understood and taught by the proponents of this theology and as preached in the American mega-churches and elsewhere.
Take note of this game-changing, and for the prosperity gospel proponents, embarrassing but undeniable fact that every believer should think about more carefully. Jesus Christ’s life and his ministry were the exact opposite to that taught by the prosperity gospel movement. Jesus was born poor and he died poor and if a person’s faith could merit material blessings, then he would have been the richest man in the universe.This above all else should sound the alarm bells for every believer.
Prosperity gospel teaches that God wants you to be wealthy and have lots of money and by faith and speaking positively you will make it happen. Perhaps they forgot to mention this to Jesus since the Bible declared, “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20)
If wealth and money were commendable pursuits for people of faith, then Jesus would have demonstrated it, for he was the greatest example ever for believers to emulate. But he did not pursue materialism, neither did his disciples, and his pronouncements on wealth and riches are frightening:
“And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)
“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37)
It goes against the grain for me to criticise fellow workers, but the Prosperity gospel preachers are leading souls to perdition in that they are advocating a panacea by focusing the minds of the gullible away from the spiritual and the divine and towards material abundance through dubious measures.
Many people join their assemblies merely to get money and a bundle of luxuries, believing that by following the advice of the leadership they would be successful. Just like gambling, this creates the mindset that wealth and prosperity is just around the corner if you do this, or that, or as Gloria Copeland reportedly puts it, “Give $10 and receive $1,000; give $1,000 and receive $100,000;… in short, Mark 10:30 is a very good deal.” The Bible on the contrary teaches a very different expectation in giving, in that you give and lend not looking for earthly returns (Luke 6: 35).
Prosperity gospel teaches that if you are blessed and if you have faith then you have a covenant with God just like Abraham and you will be prosperous with riches; but such is not taught in the Bible. The Bible is very particular about riches and says, “…if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” (Psalm 62:10)
And herein lies the crux of the whole matter, since it is the way Prosperity gospel proponents appeal to people by taking the Scriptures and deliberately distorting them to suit their theology.
The Bible teaches the opposite to the Prosperity gospel movement and no matter how they twist and misquote the scriptures, the truth is there nevertheless for all to see. The Bible tells us this: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
Beware of pulpit racketeers since they are not interested in your spiritual well being but in your pocketbook. Peter warned, “These false teachers only want your money. So they will use you by telling you things that are not true. But the judgment against these false teachers has been ready for a long time. And they will not escape God who will destroy them.” (2 Peter 2:3 Easy-to-Read Version)