Anonymous asked: Hi James! I would like to ask you what exactly is prosperity gospel? Is it all about finances, well-being and others, or is it something more. Like I heard people say "God wants you to have money, to be happy, and healthy", but I think there are also hidden message that revolve in the same area and I might me unaware of them because they are not so explicit and simply formed. Could you share your thoughts on this topic and how can we protect ourselves? Thanks
Always follow the example of the Bereans:
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
— Acts 17:11
If the Bereans even tested Paul’s words against scripture, we should be testing everyone’s. And that includes the words of the prosperity gospel.
I can’t tell you what the prosperity gospel is all about, because I stop listening when I hear things that are clearly contrary to scripture—and I hear them right away in the prosperity gospel. But I’ll tell you what makes me stop listening.
Caring about the things of this world
The prosperity gospel preaches health, wealth and happiness. The gospel of the Bible, however does not.
Health, wealth and happiness are good things, and we should be thankful if God gives them to us. But they are not our goal, and they should not be the focus of our walks with God.
Blaming the victim
If God wants you to be healthy, wealthy and happy and you’re not, who’s fault is that? It can’t be God’s, so it must be yours. Maybe you don’t have enough faith. Maybe there’s a secret sin in your life. Maybe you just haven’t “named it and claimed it” like you’re supposed to.
This is the troubling implication of the prosperity gospel. It suggests that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. Sometimes it’s merely implied, sometimes it’s explicitly said.
But it’s not Biblical.
There isn’t a direct correlation between our circumstances and our walks with God. What matters is how we follow God in the midst of our circumstances—whatever they are.
Trying to control God
The prosperity gospel has more in common with paganism than with Christianity. Paganism is all about manipulating the spirit world to get what we want from it. And the prosperity gospel is all about manipulating God to get what we want from Him.
The Bible, however, is all about surrounding to God to get what He wants for us.
Any belief system that lets us feel like we are in control is attempting to pull us out of God’s control. Don’t let it happen—God knows what we need better than we do.
The True Gospel
Remember what Paul said:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
The Bible doesn’t teach us to pursue health, wealth and happiness. It teaches us to pursue Jesus—no matter where that takes us.
The good news is that it will ultimately give us something even better:
True prosperity is only found in the gospel of Jesus.
Peace, love and Jesus,
The worst thing about the prosperity gospel is that they preach the prosperity idol and not Christ Jesus crucified. They don’t even preach the gospel out of selfish ambition (like when Paul refers to some people in Philippians 1:15-18), but rather, another gospel which doesn’t exist (as Paul says in Galatians 1:6-10, there’s only one true gospel).
And the saddest thing about it is that it infinitely short-changes us by replacing God with prosperity - the blessings of God - as an idol. How does money, earthly security, house(s), car(s), bodily health, earthly relationships or any other earthly thing compare to the glorious eternal riches of grace that God has poured out on us?
The gospel proclaims an eternal relationship with the loving God who adopts us as His children, and lavishes on us every spiritual blessing in Christ who made this all possible through His death and resurrection, taking our place of punishment for our sins against God. And He says, don’t worry about all these earthly things, seek God, and His kingdom, and God will provide all you need. Besides, none of these earthly things - which will pass away - satisfies (Ecclesiastes), only Jesus Christ our Lord does (1 Timothy 6:17).
We see throughout the bible, God gives all and every good gift to us, even when we don’t deserve it. But are the gifts better than the Giver from whom every good gift is given? Would you settle for a couple of yummy Christmas dinners or would you rather have loving parents and a great relationship with them? How infinitely better is God’s gospel of grace than any other ‘gospel’, especially that of “prosperity”!