A short article to help us all keep perspective in regards to what it is we are preaching. To know these things well enables us to be faithful to the call of the Lord Jesus on our lives as His disciples.
In the mouths of prosperity preachers it is argued that it is God's will for all His children to be prosperous, both financially and in health. Anything less is of the devil and unbiblical. It is said that if one is obedient to God's word, meditating on it day and night, and living according to His word than God will bless this person with prosperity. God does indeed cause some of his people to be well-off and this is great, but it is simply put not for all nor is it related to their obedience; it's simply in accordance with His good plan.
I don’t deny there is great blessing in obedience. There absolutely is and on many levels. Associating obedience with prosperity, however, proves horribly erroneous as I will point out below. In the prosperity-gospel view, one's degree of blessing is evidenced on how much material wealth or health he has received. The opposite would then be true as well. A servant of God who is suffering, dying or living in true poverty in a 3rd world country where there is no way out must not be right with God or walking intimately with the Lord or even indwelled by the Spirit.
What would this reasoning teach us about the Apostle Paul’s ministry? In this view Paul could hardly even be considered a disciple of Jesus Christ at all! Let's hear some of Paul's life testimony.
2 Cor. 11:23-29 -
Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
Paul wrote this defense of his ministry as a genuine Apostle of Jesus Christ. It's found in his second letter to the Corinthian believers. He was forced to write it because the Corinthians were being deceived by "false apostles" or "super apostles" as he put it sarcastically (2 Cor. 11:5). These false apostles were deceiving the Corinthians into thinking Paul was without the Holy Spirit and operating in the flesh while they themselves were the 'real deal' - "super spiritual" we could say.
The same nonsense still goes on today and it is very sad. Those believing and proclaiming the "prosperity gospel" are considering themselves superior and "super Christians" in comparison to genuine real Christians made humble by the grace of God through regeneration. They consider those who are poor for Christ's sake and suffering for His sake to be of a lesser faith. Ironically, they store up their own personal blessings and do little to nothing to help the believers in need in distant lands. This ought not be.
Whoa to any man who blames our brethren in less developed lands for being poor because they don't have enough faith!
Whoa to any man who blames lack of faith and obedience to the ones who are dying to honor Christ.
Whoa to any man who blames lack of faith and obedience to any of Jesus' sheep who are walking the narrow road in faithfulness and in the midst of great trials and suffering - for to this we have been called as Christ followers.
May the Lord help us all to know the true Gospel and to love it as it is. May the Lord protect us all from lame attempts to make the Gospel better so more will believe it. May He keep us from ever modifying His message of salvation by grace through faith. May the true Gospel continue to blow our minds and transform our hearts that we be the most joyful people on the planet while also the most sacrificing as we lay down our lives for the cause of Christ. To God alone the glory. Amen.