Monday, September 23, 2013

What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?

The prosperity gospel is very popular today in America.  Everyone wants to be rich.  I am not advocating poverty or saying all Christians should take a vow of poverty.  But the test of prosperity is even harder than the test of poverty.

The prosperity preachers say that wealth is evidence of godliness.  Yet Jesus taught that we cannot serve God and wealth.  "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Mat 6:24)

And Jesus [also] said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  (Mat 19:23-24)

The eye of a needle was the gate into a city.  When camels returned from abroad, loaded with merchandise, they had to get down on their knees outside the city gate, so that all the merchandise could be unloaded from their backs, so they could enter through the narrow gate. 

Jesus said we must "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it." (Mat 7:13)

"So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions." (Luk 14:33)

The apostle Paul said, "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1Ti 6:10; cf., 1Ti. 3:3; Heb. 13:5).

The prosperity preachers are living in luxury, in multimillion dollar homes, often flying in their own private jets.  I know of one Christian couple that run a non-profit Christian ministry, and own his-and-her mansions one street apart in a gated community.  I know of another preacher who built a three million dollar home for himself, paid for by the church he pastors.  Don't they read these same Scriptures?  What men value highly is detestable in God's sight (see Luke 16:15).  If you want to know where their heart is, then just look at where their treasure is.  "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Mat 6:21)

The psalmist said of the wicked, "Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth." (Ps 73: 9).  And at one point he envied the prosperity of the wicked.  But after the Lord revealed to him their final destiny, he said of himself, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." (Ps 73:25).  Let me encouraged you to read the entire Psalm 73.

The apostle John put it like this: "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1Jn 2:15)

The apostle Paul described himself and his ministry team as "poor, yet making many rich" (2 Co 6:10), just as our Lord Jesus Christ, who "though he was rich, yet for your sake He became poor" (2 Co 8:9b).

Paul said, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed." (1Ti 6:17-19)

James said, "Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?" (Jas 2:5-6)

He said God chose the poor of this world to be rich in faith.  And it is true that the poor are still more open to the gospel than the rich.  Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.” (Luk 4:18) James said that it is the rich who oppress you and drag you into court.

James also said, "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! ...You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter." (Jas 5:1-3, 5)

I feel sorry for those Christians who live like this, especially the preachers, because they are storing up treasure on earth, which our Lord warned against.  And they seem to avoid the teachings in Scripture about The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer.

The spirit of the wealth lovers
I would like to show you from Scripture how the love of money causes people to harden their hearts to the gospel.

Luke 16:13-14 - The Pharisees were lovers of money, so they scoffed at Jesus teachings on wealth.  Out of envy they falsely accused Him and had Him crucified.

Acts 16:16-24 - The masters of the fortune-telling slave girl saw that their hope of making a profit was gone, due to Paul's actions, and they proceeded to have the apostles beaten and imprisoned.

Acts 19:23-34 - The silversmith Demetrius and workmen of similar trades felt that their prosperity from their business of making silver shrines of Diana was endangered by Paul's preaching against false gods.  So they reacted angrily and started a riot to oppose the apostles.

John 2:14-21 - The money changers were angry because Jesus took away their ability to earn money selling sacrifices in the temple, so they retorted to Him, asking who gave Him the right to do that to them.

Mt 8:28-34 - The herdsmen and all the people of their town, who heard about Jesus sending the legion of demons into their pigs, implored Jesus to leave their region.  They did so, probably because of the negative impact it had on their pig business, and the financial loss they took, when all the pigs drowned in the sea.

Luke 16:19-31 -  The rich man who lived in luxury every day did not care for Lazarus, the beggar at his gate, who lived in poverty and misery.  He hardened his heart to the needs of Lazarus, and only took care of himself.  The same way that he hardened his heart to the poor, he also hardened it to the Scriptures.  Just as he would not listen to the cry of the poor, he would not listen to the Law and the Prophets, so he ended up in hell.

1 King 21:1-16 - Jezebel used spirituality (a fast) as a ruse to have Naboth falsely accused of evil, in order to get him executed, so that her husband could take his inheritance (assets), because Naboth would not give or sell his inheritance to her evil husband Ahab the king.

The same way these people hardened their hearts because of wealth, people today reject the gospel for it.  They may not even think they are rejecting the gospel.  Perhaps they think they already believe the gospel.  But if someone preaches the truth of God's Word to them, such as the verses I shared at the opening of this post, they may disregard it.  And if someone speaks to them about God's standard of righteousness and holiness, they might actually become angry with that person.  If a Christian becomes angry with another believer for proclaiming in Jesus name that we must live holy lives and seek God's righteousness, this reveals their spirit.

I  believe God blesses His children and prospers us.  I don't believe He wants us to live in lack of anything.  In fact, in Christ, we possess all things.  But in my opinion, the so-called "prosperity gospel" that is being preached today is not the true gospel.  It causes people to wander from the truth.  And in the end they pierce themselves with many griefs.

The Secret of Contentment
We must be content, as Paul was, whether living in plenty or in want.  He said, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Phil 4:12).  He not only knew what it was to have plenty, he knew what it was to be in need.  They key was that he had learned the secret of contentment in any and every situation.  He said that godliness is great gain, when it is accompanied with contentment (see 1 Tim 6:6).

The Pattern
The prosperity preachers are preaching a type of self-ism, the fastest growing religion, which they have disguised to look as if it is Christian.  Their teachings make it seem as if God existed for us and not the other way around. They talk as if God is our trained seal who has to jump through our hoops. They speak only of blessings and not about the need to suffer.

Being Rich Yet Very Poor in God
Unfortunately the Church of the western world in these last days has become like the wealthy Laodicean church. Jesus said to the messenger of that church, "Because you say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see." (Rev 3:17-18)

The messenger of that church said, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing." But the Lord said, "you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked." They were not cold toward God!  They considered themselves disciples.  But they were not hot either.  The Lord said they were lukewarm. "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. o because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." (Rev 3:15-16)

They thought they were wealthy, but in God's sight they were not.  Rather, they were just the opposite.

Howard Pittman's Testimony
On August 3, 1979, Howard Pittman, a Baptist minister for 35 years, died while on the operating table during surgery.  He appeared at the gates of heaven, and believed that he had served God faithfully for many years.

Howard said, "God proceeded to tell me just what kind of life I had really lived. He told me what He really thought of me and even others who did as I had. He pointed out that my faith was DEAD, that my works were NOT ACCEPTABLE, and that I had labored in VAIN. He told me that it was an abomination for me to live such a life and then dare call it a life of worship. Furthermore, He said to those who do it, they are in danger of experiencing His everlasting wrath."

He continued, "I could not believe He was talking to me in this manner! I had served Him for years! I thought I had lived a life pleasing to Him! As He was enumerating my wrongs, I was sure He had me confused with someone else. There was no strength left in me to even move, let alone protest, yet I was panicking within myself. No way He could be talking about me! All of these years I thought I was doing those works for God! Now He was telling me that what I did, I did for myself."

"God told me that He would not accept this kind of worship in the day of the Pharisees and He certainly was not about to accept it now in this the Laodicean Church Age. He put it to me as plain as words and actions could make it."  

In the end, Howard was given another chance to live for the Lord. He went all over the world, testifying about this experience. He said, "For those who call themselves Christians, this is the Laodicean Church Age in which we live. A high majority of so-called Christians are, in fact, living a deceived life. They talk Jesus and play church, but do not live it. They claim to be Christians and then live like the devil. They have bought the great lie from Satan who tells them that they are alright. He tells them that it is alright to go to church on Sunday and attend mid-week services but as far as the rest of the time is concerned, they are to get all they can out of life. As far as their Christian life is concerned, they believe they are comfortable and have need of nothing and as a result, they are only lukewarm Christians if Christians at all."

I encourage you to listen to his entire testimony on the video below or read Howard Pittman's testimony here.

All Prosperity Preachers Are Headed for Hell
Lastly, I would like to share with you a prophetic revelation about prosperity given to my sister Rachael Mushala from the Lord Jesus Christ.  I have written about her in my article Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell.  And on October 15, 2014, she wrote the following words on her blog in an article called Warnings From God To Preachers and Their Followers:

"The Lord was really angry about prosperity gospel preachers and He said, 'They have populated hell. All they talk about is prosperity, they don't warn my people about sin. What is money if you lose your own soul?'"

"Jesus was really sorrowful and He said, 'ALL PROSPERITY GOSPEL PREACHERS ARE HEADED FOR HELL, because they have misled my people. My people now think Christianity is all about blessings and they do not tell them about repentance. My churches are full of sin and all they tell them is prosperity. They are all headed for hell unless they repent.'"

I recommend reading her entire article for the full context, as the Lord singled out specific prosperity preachers for her to expose, namely Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and T.B. Joshua.

Likewise, as I wrote in my article Ibrahim's Experience in Hell, brother Ibrahim saw the present condition of lost ministers who are going down to destruction.  I recommend reading that article about his experience, but many of the lost ministers he saw were prosperity preachers, including Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and T.B. Joshua, as well as Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Rod Parsley, Myles Munroe, Mike Murdock, Paula White, Pastor Donnie McClurkin, Duncan Williams, and many others!

Putting it All Together 
As we have just seen in God's Word, you cannot serve God and wealth. We are commanded not to love this world or the things of this world. It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, and the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil. Therefore, to be a disciple of Jesus, a man must first give up all his own possessions.  You need to learn the secret of contentment in any and every situation.

Jesus and Paul both became poor, and were not like the prosperity preachers of today.  God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom. Sadly, miseries are going to come upon the rich in these last days.

Beware of "people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain" (1 Timothy 6:5).  If you are caught up in the teachings of the "prosperity gospel," please consider what you have just read in God's Word today, and amend your ways.

Take care, brethren, that you are not like the Laodicean church.  And if you are, then buy from the Lord gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  The Lord said, 'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent." (Rev 3:19)

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Rev 3:13)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading my articles Ibrahim's Experience in Hell, All Things Handed Over to Jesus Christ, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer, Holy Fire BaptismAvoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, and Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations. I also recommend Kenneth Hagin’s Forgotten Warning by J. Lee Grady.  You may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar. You may also access my blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you are going to comment and you want it to be published, do not write in ALL CAPS, and use clear English. All comments will be evaluated before publishing. If they are of a hateful, belligerent, or vicious nature, they will not be posted.