I’ve seen this topic creep up more and more over the past couple of year. The Prosperity Gospel. I’ve heard it preached here and there, I’ve seen big debates over it between people, I’ve seen it mislead some Christians, and I’ve seen major stumbling blocks arise for the non-Christian who see’s this happening.
Prosperity Gospel… also known as Prosperity Theology, Prosperity Doctrine, and even the Word of Faith movement. Other common terms for this are: Health and Wealth, Dialing for Dollars, and so on.
Non-Christians many times see this prosperity gospel going on and they many times assume this is what main-stream Christianity is all about… hoarding the money, suckering people into writting big fat checks to the church or pastor, sowing that seed.” It’s sad. This is not what proper Christianity is! For the non-Christian reading this that may think this is in fact what Christianity is pretty much all about, try this…
If I were to go around and say, “Muslims attacked the World Trade Center, therefore, all Muslims are evil and want to kill us,” you would think it absolutely absurd! If I were to say, “The Germans were responsible for killing all those Jewish people in the Holocaust, therefore all Germans are messed up,” I would be off my rocker! Same goes for the common argument of, “Well look how messed up Chritians are. They killed all those people in the Crusades in the name of God.” It’s an arugument that cannot, in any right mind, stand up on it’s own two feet. So, my point is, this whole health and wealth movement is an absolute misinterpretation of the true meaning of the Bible and what it says.
Now, just to be clear, I am not saying that half these people preaching this gospel don’t believe it, and are only trying to scam you. I very well believe that many of these people preaching this actually do believe this is the case. They themselves have been fooled. On the other hand, there are many out there who do in fact, just try and get you to break out the credit card or checkbook to broaden their bank account. But who’s to say who is who really, besides the blatantly obvious folks. For example, this guy Master Prophet Jordan.
We’ve all heard it before somewhere… “Sow your faith seed now” and God will bless you richly. One of the more absurd examples is from a Master Prophet Jordan that was sent out back around May/June 2006, “Don’t let 06/06/06 frighten you! I can show you how to turn the mark of beast turn the mark of beast into the Mark of Increase!” COME ON PEOPLE!! DO NOT FALL FOR THIS JUNK! One needs faith, and faith accomplishes much, but you cannot rely on faith alone. “With God, all things are possible.” Yes, all things are possible, but, God never promises to make you rich. God never promises to bless you with riches, money, or material things. Never. Not once does He say that. Anywhere.
He does, however, promise to bless His people.
Here is a good contrast of perspectives from two popular pastors out these days:
Taken from Christianity Today Magazine.
Of the four biggest megachurches in the country, three—Joel Osteen’s Lakewood in Houston; T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House in south Dallas; and Creflo Dollar’s World Changers near Atlanta—are Prosperity or Prosperity Lite pulpits.
For Osteen, Prosperity Gospel isn’t a pejorative term:
“Does God want us to be rich?” he asks. “When I hear that word rich, I think people say, ‘Well, he’s preaching that everybody’s going to be a millionaire.’ I don’t think that’s it.” Rather, he explains, “I preach that anybody can improve their lives. I think God wants us to be prosperous. I think he wants us to be happy. To me, you need to have money to pay your bills. I think God wants us to send our kids to college. I think he wants us to be a blessing to other people. But I don’t think I’d say God wants us to be rich. It’s all relative, isn’t it?”
On the other side is the guy whose church rounds out the “largest four” list:
“This idea that God wants everybody to be wealthy?”, [Rick] Warren snorts. “There is a word for that: baloney. It’s creating a false idol. You don’t measure your self-worth by your net worth. I can show you millions of faithful followers of Christ who live in poverty. Why isn’t everyone in the church a millionaire?”
Author John Revell writes, “God does not reward those who earnestly seek rewards, He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” He goes on to say, “…God truly desires to richly bless His children, but that His blessings often do not take the shape we might expect and that these blessings are conditional… God’s richest blessings are directly related to our walk with, and our total surrender and submission to Him.”
Original article can be found here: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=27736
God is not our own personal genie. He is not a machine we can put money in to and out comes a blessing.
Giving a dollar to someone, or to the church and letting God do what He will with it, is one thing (which perhaps in someones case is in fact God blessing you 10 fold or 100 fold). Giving a dollar and expecting God bless you back financially 10 fold or 100 fold, is a whole other ball game.
In addition, we (Christians) do not or should not follow God so that we can get something from Him. We follow God because of what He has done for us through His Grace and Mercy, (mercy= not getting what you deserve. Grace= getting what you do not deserve, something you can not earn.) and most importantly through His son, Jesus.
Hebrews 11:6, one of the common verses used to back up the prosperity preaching says “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” “Ultimately, He is the reward — when we seek Him, we are overwhelmed with the incredible riches and blessings of who He is and of fellowship with Him,” Revell writes.
“… The richest blessings in life are directly and inseparably linked to a relationship with Him — a relationship in which we surrender all that we are and all that we have to Him and walk in humble submission to and with Him. Yet, as we surrender and submit to Him in this relationship, He lavishes us with the glorious blessings of His love.”
So yes, we do need faith, and God does bless us, but not how we might think… Don’t get misled with this new gospel, health and wealth movement. Don’t get misled with this new age movement, such as The Secret. God doesn’t promise to make you rich. God promises to bless those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). God promises to give us what we need (Matthew 6:24-34). And that is what I will end with:
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:24-34 (NASB)