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Prosperity preachers are enemies of the cross of Christ.
The prosperity gospel maintains that redemption in Christ Jesus is also redemption from financial poverty. This means every Christian is called to be rich in dollars and cents.
If this were so, then one wonders why the disciples of Jesus all remained poor, and why Judas needed the 30 pieces of silver he was paid for betraying Jesus.
Prosperity gospel appeals to the rich because it tells them they will become even richer. It appeals to the poor because it promises them that they will become rich. It appeals especially to pastors because it has proved to be an effective way to extort money out of gullible Christians by making them believe that if they give money to the church, God will financially enrich them.
The prosperity gospel is also convenient for justifying the wealth of pastors who have become rich at the expense of their congregations. Thus, one of them declared unapologetically:
“Financial prosperity is just as much a part of the Gospel as anything else… I’m not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m not ashamed of prosperity. I’m not ashamed that Jesus bought and paid for me to be wealthy. Let me just tell you from the heart of God, preachers are supposed to be rich.”
The prosperity gospel is also lucrative for selling books. The Christian book market is full of “get-rich-quick tipsters” and “one-minute-solution merchants,” all offering “5 keys” and “7 strategies for becoming millionaires.”
Thus, a famous American preacher maintains that: “You can draw on heaven like a magnet. We do not have to wait until we get to heaven to get God’s blessings. Now’s when we need them.”
Another big-time American pastor echoes these enticing words in a book entitled:
Your Best Life Now. This has sold millions of copies and was number one on the New York Times bestseller list.
The pastor tells Christians they can get their best life now, violating the night/day principle of the kingdom of God. In the kingdoms of men, the day precedes the night. But in the kingdom of God, the night precedes the day. (Genesis 1:5).
The Bible says weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5). But prosperity preachers would rather that joy comes first and then the weeping endures. Like the Prodigal Son in Jesus’ seminal parable, they say: “I want my share of your estate now, instead of waiting until (I) die!” (Luke 15:12).
Paul prays that the eyes of our understanding may be enlightened so that we might know the hope of God’s calling.” (Ephesians 1:18). To what exactly is the believer called in this world? The answer, as usual, is counterintuitive. We are called to suffer and not to prosper in the world.
Peter says: “W
hat credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this, you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” (1 Peter 2:20-21).
The gospel of the kingdom of God is not a prosperity gospel but a suffering gospel. Jesus gave us a fair warning: “In the world, you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33). “They will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9).
That was also the message that Paul and Barnabas preached in their missionary journeys. They said: “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22).
The truth is that those who belong to God’s kingdom do not prosper in the world. On the contrary, the psalmist says: “Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.” (Psalm 73:12). The godly only prosper spiritually in the kingdom of God.
Moreover, since God’s ways are not the ways of men (Isaiah 55:8), God’s definition of prosperity is fundamentally different from that of men.
The earthly prosperity of men is denominated in wealth, fame, and fortune. But these do not give glory to God. If they did, Jesus would have been one of the richest and most successful men while on earth.
However, Jesus teaches that: “What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15).
The glory of God was revealed resplendently in the cross of Jesus Christ. Who would have thought that the God who created the world would be so gracious, merciful and humble as to make Himself of no reputation, come into the world in the likeness of men, and be obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross?
“Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11).
Glory of God
When Moses asked to see the glory of God at Mount Sinai, the Lord proclaimed it to him theoretically in a shadow: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” (Exodus 34:6-7).
However, at Calvary, Jesus gave full substance and resonance to the glory of God by dying for the sins of mankind. In so doing, the shadow gave way to the substance. The practical replaced the theoretical. God’s exceeding mercy was displayed majestically and practically for all to see, “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:6).
Accordingly, Paul declares: “As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.” (Galatians 6:14-15).
If we have thereby been crucified with Christ to the world, how then can the gospel of the kingdom of God be about prospering in the world? Certainly not! Gain in the world can have nothing to do with godliness because we are warned:
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15-16).
Sufferings of the Saints
Indeed, nothing gives God as much glory as the suffering of His saints. When we go through affliction and, nevertheless, continue to praise God, rather than curse Him and die, we bring so much glory to God.
We show that God is so precious to us that nothing can stop us from loving Him. We proclaim that even though we are killed all day long, no tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:35-39).
That is how Job glorified God. At the height of his affliction, he declared his continued trust in God, saying: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15).
For this reason, the psalmist declares: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” (Psalm 116:15). For this reason, lovers of pleasure are unacceptable as lovers of God, for they deny the power of God and do not allow God to be glorified in their lives. (2 Timothy 3:4).
This is what gave so much distinction to the men and women of the Hebrews Hall of Faith, of whom it was said that God was not ashamed to be called their God. (Hebrews 11:16).
They were: “tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.” (Hebrews 11:35-38).
Prosperity earns nobody a place in God’s Hall of Faith. But suffering for Christ’s sake does. Jesus Himself proclaimed His poverty to one and all:
“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20).
So, where did our mercenary preachers get their fabled prosperity gospel from? It can only be from the pit of hell.
Jesus says: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24). He told a rich man who came to ask Him what good thing he must do to inherit eternal life: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21).
He says furthermore: “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:33).
Prosperity preachers are: “The enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame – who set their mind on earthly things.” (Philippians 3:18-19).
Do not let them deceive you. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).
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