The Prosperity Gospel - Giving False Hope

What is it?
  • All Christians have the ability to become healthy, wealthy, prosperous and never in need.
  • You get to speak what you want in the name of Jesus, and it will become a reality.
  • This obligates God to give you what you want.
  • You can have whatever you want if you use the right spiritual words with the right kind of faith.
  • If you're not experiencing prosperity, then it is your own fault.
  • Thinking positive will keep the negative from actually happening to you.
  • If you admit to something negative, then you can bring that negative thing into being.
  • You don't know for sure what you're going to have in heaven, so you'd better get all you can here on Earth.
  • Humans use God, rather than God uses humans to do His work.
  • God is not Lord of all, we must release Him to work
Many people around the world believe this false teaching. It is especially popular when the economy isn't doing well. As people struggle financially to make ends meet they may turn to Prosperity Theology out of desperation. Some turn to it out of pure greed.

Proverbs 14:12 tells us that - "There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death."

And 2 Corinthians 11:13 warns us - "These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ."

Scripture Out of Context

The Prosperity Gospel (or Prosperity Theology) is based on faulty biblical interpretation. Followers take scripture out of context and twist the words to support health and wealth. Twisting scripture is very dangerous; this is how cults get started. We must read the message of the Bible correctly. It disappoints God if we live our Christian lives based upon misunderstandings.

When modern mankind thinks of the word prosperous, we usually think of being financially well-off and thriving in personal success. But God meant something different when He included prosperity in the Bible. Sometimes prosperity means that God will give us all we need to grow spiritually or to do His will. Some verses about prosperity refer to the Israelites being successful in taking over the land that God had given to them.

Here are some of the verses that are taken out of context to support the belief of the Prosperity Gospel.
  • Deuteronomy 8:18 "Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath."
  • Joshua 1:8 "Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do."
  • Malachi 3:10 " Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!"
  • Mark 11:24 "I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours."
  • John 10:10 "The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life."
  • John 14:13 "You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father."
  • Matthew 7:7-8 "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."
  • 1 John 5:14-15 "And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for."
The Prosperity Gospel Isn't Biblical

It totally contradicts what the Bible teaches. It supports living out our own will. It is believing that our own humanistic way is better then God's way. If we follow God's will, then God gets to make the decisions about what is best for us. Fortunately, He keeps many things from us that we mistakenly think are right for us. This kind of false teaching makes God irrelevant, and His grace obsolete.

As Christians, the Bible tells us to:
  • surrender to Jesus and live according to His will - James 4:13-16 "Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil."
  • seek God's will like Jesus did - Luke 22:42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
  • trust the lord's way even when we don't understand - Proverbs 3:506 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take."
  • not store up earthly wealth - Matthew 6:19-21 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be."
  • not idolize money - Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
  • be content with what we have - Philippians 4:12 "I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. Hebrews 13:5 "Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
  • not love money - 1 Timothy 6:7-10 "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
  • understand how difficult it is for a wealthy person to grow spiritually - Luke 18:24-25 “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
  • not love materialism - 1 John 2:15 "Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you."
  • follow Jesus and seek after heavenly treasure - Matthew 19:21 - Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
  • avoid greed - Ephesians 5:5 "You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world." Luke 12:15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”
  • trust in God, not our wealth - Revelation 3:14,17 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked."
  • be cautious of false teachers - 1 Timothy 6:3-5 - "If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain."
The Spiritual Danger

This false teaching is impacting Christianity negatively. It is dishonoring to God and teaches lies about who He is to unbelievers. It is like worshiping a false God. People are getting a false teaching about Christianity rather than a biblical teaching. When the name-it-claim-it thing doesn't work for people, then they feel deceived and are turned off to Christianity - even true biblical Christianity.

Christians who follow the Prosperity Gospel's teachings feel let down by God when they don't get what they want. Some feel distant from God or like they aren't spiritual enough. Instead of developing a closeness and reliance on God, these Christians are relying on themselves.

The Emotional Danger

When prosperity doesn't come, some people experience strong feelings of guilt. They believe that they are to be blamed due to their lack of faith. Their embarrassment and shame can create problems in marriages and with family members. This false guilt can lead to depression and low self worth.

Some people make incorrect decisions based on this way of thinking. These decisions can hurt themselves and others. For example: Instead of getting medical help, a person may rely only on her faith and claim healing from God. Another person may make an bad financial decision believing that more money will come if there is enough faith.

Someone is Getting Rich

There are people involved in the Prosperity Gospel that are becoming wealthy and prosperous. They are the ones that are teaching this false doctrine and selling millions of books, CDs, and DVDs about how to become financially successful. These people are living an excessive and materialistic lifestyle, yet they are supposedly doing full time ministry work for God. They see no need to apologize for their million dollar homes and excessive spending, because they consider it a blessing from God.

Is Your Church Preaching the Prosperity Gospel?

Are you going to a church that has taken the focus off of Jesus, the Bible, and God's will for us? Has your church become humanistic? Don't stay and support a church that is teaching lies. If you go to a true Bible believing and preaching church, you can grow spiritually mature and be used by the Lord. That is real prosperity.

If the Prosperity Gospel church tells you that God will punish you if you leave - this is spiritual abuse. That is what cults do to keep people from leaving. False teachers use manipulation to get you there and they use manipulation to keep you there. You need to be led by God to do the right thing, not pressured by people.

If the Holy Spirit is telling you to flee this false teaching then it is more important to obey Him. You don't have to stay because you feel that you should be loyal. Your loyalty should be to God, not to church leaders.