The Gospel and a counterfeit
Money counters are able to recognize the false currencies not because they spend time studying the false currencies but because they spend time, much time, with the true and genuine currency. The same is true for the Christian in regards to the Gospel. Anyone who knows the true Gospel can easily discern when a different gospel is being presented and proclaimed. There is nothing like the original. The sad reality of our day is that so much of what is preached is false and many think to have experienced the genuine that the true Gospel seems foreign when they hear it.
Many who believe in the false gospel of prosperity do not know it is not the genuine. Many do not know they are actually not even saved according to biblical standards. It's evident when you ask them what the gospel is and they preach to you a non-authentic gospel; the gospel they believe.
In fact, John Piper said it well when he said something to the effect that one does not need to be converted to come to the "Jesus" of the prosperity gospel. Not born again people will come to Jesus for what they already desire in their flesh; wealth and health.
Below is a taste of the prosperity gospel being proclaimed in comparison with the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Remember, there is only one gospel and all others are simply false and those who proclaim the false are actually cursed (Gal. 1:7-9). This is not a small matter, but an essential matter of the Christian faith.
The prosperity gospel would go something like this:
Come to Jesus. He loves you as you are. He wants you to be blessed. He died for you to prosper and be healed of your illnesses and be happy. Your life would go so much better if you come to church and become a christian like me. I know the Bible said the way is narrow and difficult, but now we live in modern times and the way to heaven is actually quite wide, fast and easy. I know the Bible says the way is hard to find, few are on it and the gate is narrow, but I had a new revelation and I want you to know God loves you and the way is indeed broad and easy. If you don’t believe me just look at me and all my friends. You are safe and in good company if you follow us. Sure I haven’t arrived at the door yet, so I cannot say for sure, but I can feel it. Plus all the Bible verses I hold dearly (and out of context) are pointing me and I am quite sure they will lead me to heaven eventually. When I feel down I just preach my ideas to myself and hype myself up again to keep on by ‘faith’. I use Jesus name, you see. I can teach you how to do that too.
In other words, this gospel says come to Jesus for what He can give you, not for who He is. Not because it’s right. Not because it’s a command. Not because you need to be saved and will perish if you don’t. Not because you need forgiveness. You're loved, after all, just the way you are.
To get how unbiblical this is one must only consider briefly how well this message would resonate with those who for faith in Jesus are currently being martyred or forced to flee from their homes in this moment in other parts of the world...
The genuine Gospel, on the other hand, goes something like this:
God is holy, just and perfect. You are created in His image but are fallen, sinful and depraved (Rom. 3:9-23); the consequence is death. You have sinned against God and lived as His enemy while soffocating the truth (Rom. 1:18); Jesus is the truth and so in some way you have actually been strangling Jesus. In short, you may feel well and good, but the truth is that God’s wrath hangs over you and every day you fail to come to him with a repentant heart you are storing up more of His wrath for the day of judgement (John 3:36).
Your situation is dire and it breaks my heart. But God, in His great mercy has made a way of salvation for you! It is Christ Jesus, the God man who alone is the Way, who lived a perfect life and died in your place to pay for your sins; the Just for the unjust. While you were still a sinner and enemy of God then He died for you. There is no greater love than this! He rose from the grave and now lives. He now offers you, actually commands you, to come to Him and believe in Him. You must trust that He died in your place and His blood is sufficient to wipe away all your sins. You must repent and turn from all your sin and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins; He will not turn away those who come humbly for salvation (John 6:37). As you do, be assured, for He is able to save You and faithful to forgive all who will call upon Him for forgiveness (1 John 1:9, Rom. 10:13).
As you come to Him by grace through faith for salvation, your sins will be canceled out once and for all. You will know what it means to become a child of God (John 1:12 - not all are children of God). You will become a new creature in Christ (1 Cor. 5:17), united to Him and one with Him. Will all go well for you now? Will you prosper? Maybe at times, but likely not. God has not promised to make you prosper and be healthy. He has promised you eternal life and forgiveness. For the genuine believer, however, this is always more than enough and more than he could ever dream or deserve. He knows he deserves death and condemnation but has received great mercy!
Many have lost their lives for having come to Christ in this way. Jesus did promise persecution for all who are His true disciples. This is very sad and scary. Many today are losing their lives for Christ’s sake. But they have already gained heaven at the same time; Jesus Himself. They understand that with Christ they lack nothing and have everything even though they are often hated by the world. The way to walk in this world is narrow and difficult as you follow the Lord, but rest assured God is in control (He is not confused, weak and needy as often He is falsely portrayed) and able to bring you home safely. If you are persecuted, rejoice and bless. If you are in trials, and there will be many, give thanks. The Lord is using them for your good and His glory and He will see you through them all. He is able.
“And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”” (Mark 10:26-27).
To God alone the glory. Blessed be the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
May the Lord bless you as you consider the drastic difference between the real Gospel and the popular but counterfeit known as the prosperity. May the Lord grant you a deeper knowledge of the True Gospel so that you may easily spot any counterfeit that comes your way. May the Lord help you to do your study of His Word and to have a good handle on the proper application of His Word through good hermeneutics and exegesis. May you be blessed by the true Gospel to live according to your new identity in Christ and to boldly and lovingly proclaim The Gospel to all at any cost so that others may come to saving-faith, all to the glory of God. Amen.