Scripture and the Prosperity Gospel
Many of today’s Churches are teaching the prosperity gospel – that God wants you to be rich and have an abundance of material possessions. This is a false gospel that feeds on the poor and the hopeful. The poor and the hopeful are the ones wishing to have a life where they have all the possessions they want. They are being taught that being poor is a sin. They don’t realize they’re being taught that covetousness is good, and because of their ignorance of the Bible, and their fleshly desire to have more, they feast on what the prosperity preachers are feeding them.
The Bible tells a different story. In Revelation, Jesus calls the poor church rich, and the rich church poor.
Rev. 2:9, “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”
Rev. 3:17, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
Proverbs 13:7, “There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.”
The prosperity preachers say that poverty is a curse. They lie. Jesus told the church in Smyrna that they were rich, but it says they were in poverty. In Mark 12:43, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury.” To Jesus, the poor widow gave more than all the other people who gave, yet she only had two mites. God doesn’t look at a person’s money to determine if a person is rich. In God’s Kingdom, those in poverty are rich. In God’s Kingdom, riches have to do with faith, works, love, knowledge of God’s word, charity, etc. 2 Cor. 8:2, “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”
Here Paul says that the Corinthian church was in deep poverty, but was rich in liberality. They gave even when they were in poverty, because even though they were in poverty their heart was rich toward God.
Psalm 37:16 says, “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked.”
Proverbs 16:8, “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.”
The few riches that a righteous poor person has is better, and is more, than all the riches of the wicked. So if, in God’s eyes, a poor righteous person has more than millions of dollars, why would that poor righteous person want something that means nothing to God? Only those who follow after riches and possessions, and who seek gain from others through false preaching, would think that riches and wealth and money are important.
James 2:5, “Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”
The poor are the ones who have faith. Rich people don’t need faith. They have money. If a wealthy person’s car broke down, do you think they would immediately cry out to God to help them? Not likely. They would get on their cell phone and call a wrecker to come take their car to the shop. Then they would rent a car to get them around while their car was in the shop.
But if a poor person’s car broke down, they would immediately cry out to God for help. They wouldn’t have the money to take their car to the shop, and surely wouldn’t have money to rent a car. They would have nowhere else to turn but to God.
But doesn’t Jesus say in John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”? Yes, but Jesus also defines life in Luke 12:15, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” God’s definition of life does not consist of material things that a person possesses. When Jesus said He came that we might have life, He wasn’t talking about material possessions. A true Christian life has abundance even in poverty.
The Bible has nothing positive to say about financial riches.
Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.”
Proverbs 23:4, “Labour not to be rich”
Psalm 62:10, “if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.”
Luke 1:53, “He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.”
The prosperity preachers don’t realize that the Bible has nothing good to say about prospering materially or financially.
Daniel uses the word “prosper” four times in describing the anti-Christ. (Daniel 8:24,25,11:27,36)
Psalm 73:12 says, “Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.”
The anti-Christ will prosper. So will the ungodly.
3 John 2, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
So how does a soul prosper? When John wished above all things that we may prosper, he wasn’t talking about finances or material possessions. It was about prospering as a soul prospers. Gil’s Commentary on 3rd John says this about verse 2: The soul, when all its iniquities are forgiven, may be said to prosper, when having a spiritual appetite for the Gospel, the sincere milk of the word, it feeds upon it, is nourished by it, and grows thereby; when it is in the lively exercise of faith, hope, and love; when spiritual knowledge is increased, or it grows in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ Jesus; when the inward man is renewed day by day with fresh strength; and when it enjoys communion with God, has the light of his countenance, and the joys of his salvation; and when it is fruitful in every good work.
The prosperity preachers talk about increase, but their covetousness equates increase with money and finances. They don’t realize the Bible speaks of increase as a good thing only when it DOESN’T include money.
Colossians 1:10, “increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Colossians 2:19, “increaseth with the increase of God.”
Luke 17:5, “Increase our faith.”
1 Thessalonians 3:12, “the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another”
Isaiah 29:19, “The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord.”
When the Bible speaks of an increase in financial and material wealth, it speaks of it negatively.
Ecclesiastes 5:10-11, “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. When goods increase, they are increased that eat them: and what good is there to the owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes?”
The Bible has much to say about the false prosperity teachers.
Jeremiah 14:14 says, “Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.”
The prosperity preachers teach lies to the people, and the people, having itching ears and a covetous heart, love to hear them.
Jeremiah 5:31, “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so.”
Jeremiah 8:10, “for every one from the least even unto the greatest is given to covetousness, from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.”
It is a good thing to help the poor and the hopeful. But it is a wicked thing to teach them that financial prosperity is what God desires for them. God bless.