I’m not going to drop names. I certainly could and perhaps even should, but I’m not going to. We all need to chew on this topic, and the fact that you may like a few of the names on my list or some of what they say is beside the point. You’ll end up just denying that they are part of such apostasy and then will probably ignore the rest of what’s written. So instead I’m going to focus on the message and not the messenger.
There are false-premises out there. Doesn’t God want you to be rich? Doesn’t God want you to be healed? Doesn’t God want to display His Greatness through you? These aren’t “yes” and “no” questions and to treat them as such is deceptive. (At least they are not “yes” and “no” questions that we get to answer.) Think if I reworded the question. If you are poor, sick, or disabled does that mean that God doesn’t want you or love you or that you don’t have enough faith? History (and our own experience) is filled with examples to the contrary.
Normally, I’m a live-and-let-live kind of person. So there are “preachers” and “evangelists” that preach a Prosperity Gospel. I can’t control what they do and say, so why complain? Well, I’m seeing a couple problems with my laissez-faire attitude. #1 More and more people are associating Christianity with that twisted-Gospel which uses similar words but means drastically different things. Saying I’m a pastor brings thoughts to peoples’ minds that I drive like a church Cadillac or something. #2 More and more people are believing the lies. They want what Jesus can give them more than Jesus himself and then either falsely associate God’s blessing with something they did to “earn” it or they feel defeated because God didn’t answer their prayer.
So how do you know if you are listening to someone preaching a Prosperity Gospel? I believe my feelings would best be expressed by abandoned 1990’s expressions. This is going to be totally tubular. And if you are a televangelist and I’m screwing-up your fundraising efforts for your new airplane, remember, this is a taco and burrito conversation – NACHOS! (Oh, I miss the 90’s)
“That’s For Me To Know And You To Find Out”
God determines everything in life. I know some entrepreneurs that can just make money no matter what. But if they’re born in a lower caste in India then their entrepreneurial spirit is kind of worthless. Even if you have gained the whole world, it can all be taken away from you in a single moment. Nebuchadnezzar was king of the known world one moment, and eating grass like a cow the next. Anyone is one lawsuit, one Dr. appt., or one car accident away from their life drastically changing. God is the only one who knows what’s upcoming. God knows everything. Trusting in God is TOTALLY different than trusting in God for Him to give you more stuff. Anyone that tells you how to make God give you what you want is full of it. There have been some extremely godly people throughout history (like Jesus) who had to be completely dependant on their Heavenly Father to take care of their needs day-by-day because they were dirt poor. That is not something to look down on them for. Their faith is something to admire.
“I Know You Are But What Am I”
Character matters. What is the character of the preacher? Pastors are given 15 qualities that they should exemplify in 1 Tim 3. #12 is they “must not be lovers of money.” Any pastor or evangelist or missionary or any of the sort that clearly loves money should not be a leader in God’s Kingdom. It’s guaranteed to cause a conflict of interest in ministry. Ministry is all about taking care of others. To think that God is going to physically bless pastors more is not biblical. He promises to take care of all our needs. Even Mick Jagger knew you don’t always get what you want… but you get what you need. Look at Paul’s words here in 1 Cor. 12. Unless you hear stuff like this being preached, you are listening to someone skewing Scripture. “7To keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” Jesus said “No” to the stinkin’ Apostle Paul because Jesus always wants to be glorified and He won’t share the glory with anyone – not Paul, not me, and not you.
“The One Who Smelt It, Dealt It”
This is an especially tricky ploy of the Prosperity Gospel miracle worker. If you don’t get healed or don’t get rich then YOU are the problem. You didn’t have enough faith. They don’t let you call them a phony. This is the spiritual equivalent of saying “the one who smelt it, dealt it.” The problem is miracles CANNOT replace the Gospel. Where miracles are emphasized as the end result, then the Saving Work of Jesus Christ is denied because obviously that’s not good enough to give us Joy or Peace or whatever else the one asking for a miracle was looking for. Ultimately, we know that we can go directly to the Throne of Grace and talk to Jesus directly. We don’t need an intermediary of any kind. When someone tries to interject themselves as the receiver of the money or the conduit of blessing or anything of the sort then they are taking the place of Jesus. (Remember when Booster Gold pretended to be Superman. Yeah, you know how that went. HaHaHa. Lol. Oh, yeah, sorry you’re not a nerd like me. Booster Gold got nearly crushed to death because no one can handle what Superman can handle. See the parallel?) Besides, we all know the real truth that “whoever said the rhyme did the crime.”
“All that and a Bag of Chips”
The Gospel is perfect. Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Anyone adding to that or subtracting from that is absolute apostasy. (This is the worst word I have in the Christian dictionary.) Woe to anyone who messes with Jesus’ salvation. So after salvation, is it wrong to pray for your needs? Wouldn’t God want to do kind things for His children? Obviously I’m not advocating in any way for us not to pray for our heart’s desires. I am advocating that there is nothing we can “do” like “sow seeds of money” to a pastor or church and convince God to do something for us. This is an insidious belief known as animism. This is when we try to appease God or entice Him for blessings by doing certain things. This is not Grace. It actually confuses young believers on why God answers some prayers and not others. I like this Tim Keller quote on the subject, “We can be sure our prayers are answered precisely in the way we would want them to be answered if we knew everything God knows.”
“Why don’t you make like a tree… and get outta here”
You cannot tolerate this kind of apostasy. Do not give money to such people. Give it to a poor person truly in need. Jesus says if you take care of the least in society you have taken care of Him. Give it to a missionary reaching people with the Gospel for the first time. Give it to your local church that you see using it for the good of the community. Listen to people’s needs around you. There are so many hurting people in your life. Give it to them. Are you going to get that money back, 10 or maybe even 1,000 fold? I want to say, “No.” But the more responsible answer is, “Only God knows.” If He does it will be for a specific purpose for you to accomplish His Will. Don’t do something kind just because you think you will get a reward. That’s a crappy reason to do something nice. How about you realize that God is promising you eternal life. That’s literally infinitely better than anything we could want on earth. Trading what you cannot keep to gain what you cannot lose is pretty reasonable. (Thanks Jim Elliot for that awesome quote.)
“Luke 6:20 And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied… 24But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. 25Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry.”