When I set my mind to write this particular blog, I knew it would step on somebody’s toes. I knew it would hurt some feelings and even potentially offend someone. And that is not my heart. However, I decided that not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings was not a good enough reason to not write what was on my heart and what I know to be true.
I am convinced that if the Gospel of the
was merely the possession and enjoyment of designer clothes, expensive cars, and fine jewelry, then Jesus Himself would have represented that while He was on earth. He would have been born into one of the wealthy and powerful families, worn the scarlet and purple robes of their station, ridden on the finest stallions and in the most opulent litters, and feasted upon the richest food of His day. But He didn’t. Kingdom of God
Jesus was born of a lowly Virgin betrothed to a simple carpenter into the most oppressed people of all time. And He spent His time “teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23 emphasis added). The Bible also mentions frequently that Jesus was moved by compassion for the people He preached to and healed. His first concern was not the thread count of their clothing, the maker of their sandals, or the where they dwelt; it was their souls.
Souls—Heaven’s Greatest Treasure
Our souls are the greatest riches that Heaven could ever lose or gain, which is why the Bible calls he who wins souls “wise” (Prov. 11:30). Jesus concerned Himself with the spiritual state of His people. Knowing that a man or woman’s soul hung in the balance between Heaven and Hell motivated Him to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom wherever He went. And in all of the parables He taught, with all of the people who surrounded Him, Jesus never gave preference in word or deed to the man or woman who had great material possessions. In fact, He told us that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the
” (Matt. 19:24). kingdom of God
This is a hard statement. It seems that much of what Jesus stated was hard to accept. However, this is not an impossible statement. Just as Jesus told us how hard it was for a rich person to become saved, the Word shares with us many statements about giving and benevolence such as these:
“…the generous soul will be made rich” (Prov. 11:25).
“He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor” (Prov. 22:9).
“But a generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand” (Isa. 32:8).
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (II Cor. 9:6-8).
“‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,’ says the LORD of hosts;
‘and all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Mal. 3:10-12).
“Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches” (Gal. 6:6).
Owning numerous material possessions and great wealth is not a sin; it is what we do with it, how we view it, which makes it a sin and hard to obtain the
in our own lives. And we are also allowed to mention prosperity when we preach the Gospel, however, we are not to present it as the Gospel itself. We must take care to present it in a way that would please God and in a way that Jesus would have Himself. Kingdom of God
Biblical View of Prosperity
It has its place as we can see in the Word. Jesus, as well as the apostles, had patrons who helped support their ministries. Jesus even had a treasurer. Unfortunately, it was Judas Iscariot, but Jesus obviously knew what He was doing when He allowed him to fill that role amongst the twelve. We see even Mary Magdalene had money since she was able to purchase that expensive alabaster box filled with fragrant perfume which she later used to anoint Jesus head and feet with (Matt. 26: 7; Mark 14:3; Luke 7:37). However, it was what was done with the riches and possessions which mattered.
Paul said to the Romans:
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (
And I always like to say how can “they” be sent unless someone finances their trip? Money is a definite need in life as well as in advancing the
Kingdom of God, but it is not the . Therefore, to preach it as the Kingdom of God or the evidence of the Kingdom in one’s life is sadly incorrect. Kingdom of God
Paul describes to us what the
is or how it is displayed: Kingdom of God
is not in word but in power” (II Cor. 4:20). kingdom of God
is not mere words, whatever those words may be. It is power: power to heal the sick, cast our devils, and raise the dead; it is not financial prosperity. That is certainly a benefit of God’s goodness and seeking His Kingdom and righteousness above all else (Matt. 6:33) but it does not justify preaching a Prosperity Gospel. Kingdom of God
First of all, although this is an accepted nickname and we church folks know exactly what it means, let us be clear—there is no Gospel besides the
. And I’ll take it a step further, the Gospel is to be confirmed by signs, miracles, and wonders. How many of our churches truly have this as a weekly occurrence? Not too many. People being saved is wonderful and all of Heaven rejoices when this takes place, however, the miraculous should not stop there. Drug addicts should become clean. Cancer patients should be healed. Dead bodies should be raised. And yes, in this failing economy we certainly understand and appreciate the blessing of financial miracles coming our way, but this should not be our main focus—taught or expected. The Book of Acts is packed full of miracles: lame people walking, blind eyes seeing, demon spirits cast out, Holy Ghost prison-breaks, fearless people struck dead, and so on. But where can you tell me that it preaches financial prosperity as a doctrine of the Church? Kingdom of God
In Acts 2, Peter preached on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and 3,000 were saved. In Acts 3, Peter and John told a lame man begging for alms “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6) and then used the opportunity to preach Jesus on Solomon’s porch, causing 2,000 more to be saved. In Acts 5, the apostles preached the Kingdom and healed all manner of diseases, got imprisoned, and were busted out by the Holy Spirit only to go back to the same spot and preach the Kingdom again! In Acts 6 and 7, the deacon Stephen preached the history of the Jews leading up to Jesus. In Acts 8, Philip holds a Kingdom revival in one town, witnesses about Jesus to an Ethiopian eunuch, and is raptured away to preach the Kingdom elsewhere. In Acts 9, Saul is converted into Paul and preaches Christ crucified and raised again. Acts 10 shows us Peter preaching the Kingdom to Gentiles and so on and so forth. Luke takes great pains to tell us what was preached and neither in his Gospel nor in his second letter to Theophilus, Acts, can we find him recording any other gospel but that of the Kingdom and its power. Therefore, it would seem that the Kingdom and power is what we should preach. Yet somehow we’ve seemed to get it twisted.
The Show-Off Gospel
Now we have preachers “pimpin” the people of God for their money. We have teachers handing out supposed magic phrases like “money cometh” teaching the people to expect financial blessings without telling them how to be good stewards of their money. And, yes, we have rappers rapping about themselves and their financial blessings believing that God is being glorified by their boasting. Well let me tell you, He is not! No where in the Bible does it give us leave to boast in anything accept God and, no, tacking His name on the end of the verse does not mean we’re boasting in Him; it just means we’re bragging.
Throughout the scriptures, we have no shortage of experience in knowing what happened to individuals who boasted and or became arrogant with what God had given them. David makes it clear to us when he says “The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; you hate all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:5) and “Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches, none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him—for the redemption of their souls is costly, and it shall cease forever—that he should continue to live eternally, and not see the Pit” (Psalm 49:6-9).
Saul became arrogant with his position and lost his kingdom to David. Hezekiah grew boastful after God granted him an extra 15 years of life and sealed the fate of his Kingdom falling to the Babylonians after his death. When
grew arrogant and boastful, God allowed their precious temple to be profaned and their children to be slain in the streets by the Babylonians. God even said boasters “are deserving of death” (Rom. 1:26-32). Clearly, God is not a fan of boasting of any kind unless we are boasting of and in Him, of His power, His might, His awesome works, and His ever-abounding grace. Israel
Paul said it this way, “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you” (II Cor. 1:12). Nowhere in this epistle or another does it liberate us to boast in or of our riches. If we do, we say that the Gospel is void if we do not live wealthy, affluent lives. Should our finances be in order? absolutely. However, this does not mean that we must or will all be rich. God knows what we can handle—both bad and good. Some of us would take our shiny new cars to the golf course or the mall on Sunday if we were blessed with that Benz or Bentley we want. Others would take more pains spending their bonuses or pay raises on Gucci, Prada, and Fendi instead of giving our tithes and offerings or blessing those in need. Others of us who have charismatic personalities and platforms might write songs that praise a god of riches and wealth instead of the Jesus who died, rose, and sits and the right hand of God. What He owns is entirely secondary to Who He is.
This may sound harsh and I certainly do not mean to be, but if the shoe fits, wear it. I believe it was Nene Leaks who said “a hit dog will holler”. So holler if you must, but go back like the Bereans and study what the Word says. Then come back and comment. This is not an indictment against any one person; this is not unfounded accusation or slander. If what I said hurts, it’s because the Word is a double-edged sword.
I do not believe that many of the people who preach, teach, and minister a Prosperity Gospel do it because they are intentionally attempting to lead people astray or cast God as a Santa Clause or Lottery-in-the-Sky and that could totally be my loyalty-and-trust-in-people-until-proven-guilty-several-times mentality. I do not believe that they are seeking to dilute, misconstrue, or twist God’s word. I believe many of these preachers are sincere. However, a person can be sincerely wrong.
I would plea with you men and women of God, before you write your sermon, book, or song, to examine the motive behind what you are preaching. Does it line up wholly with the Word of God? Is it His heart on that particular matter? Can you back it up with at least two scriptures used in proper context? It would be much better to remain silent until God gives you the go-ahead, knowledge, and experience to speak to His people instead of speaking to them prematurely and giving them an incorrect message. Since you are God’s minister, people would latch on to what you say—many without properly examining it—and swallow whatever doctrine you preach hook, line, and sinker.
If you dear reader know someone who is ministering this type of Gospel in any form, then please, go to them in love—and in God’s timing—and express to them what the Word says. If they are ready, then they will accept it. If they are not, then they may revile and even separate themselves from you. But at least you would have done your Christian duty and tried to help them understand God’s Word. And who knows if they will not later come back to you days, months, or years later to thank you. Sometimes you never know if the little thing you said to someone planted a seed that later grew into a mighty oak of faith in their lives.
As for me, I will continue to blog about the things that get under my skin as it concerns Christians, the world, and our general direction as humanity. Sometimes in grieving spirits, other times in righteous indignation, but always with love. I hope you’ve all enjoyed this. If you did—and even if you did not—please feel free to comment below!