Prosperity Theology Tells Us to Live Now as Kings, Not Servants
I’ve written in my books (including Managing God’s Money and Money, Possessions, and Eternity) and on my blog about the false doctrine of prosperity gospel. This philosophy teaches that the more money you give away, the wealthier you will become. Following God through giving and other forms of obedience becomes a formula for abundant provision and the celebration of prosperous living. This is, in essence, a Christianized materialism.
In this video, I talk about how such teaching is from the pit of hell.
See also “The Poison of Prosperity Gospel”, which includes a video with words full of truth from John Piper.
In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul discusses his credentials of success, his diplomas, and awards. These he once highly valued, but now he says, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8). Actually, this translation is too delicate. Paul did not call his credentials and possessions “rubbish,” but dung. Excrement. That’s how he viewed the things he once valued, when stacking them up against Christ. Contrast that with today’s prosperity preachers, their heavy jewelry swaying as they strut across the stage.
As a result of following Christ, Paul lost everything. What little money and possessions might have passed through his hands he considered a loss. He describes his daily adversity, persecution for Christ, and nearness to death (2 Corinthians 4:7-12). Later Paul refers to his troubles, hardships, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, riots, sleepless nights, and hunger, as well as the experience of nearly dying, and being sorrowful and poor (2 Corinthians 6:3-10, 11:23-29).
Paul seems to make a case for what might be called “adversity theology,” or the “sickness and poverty gospel.” I wonder if in his dreams the apostle ever heard a faint chorus of voices from the future saying, “Paul, you don’t have to live like this—why don’t you trust God and live like a king’s kid?” The truth is, Paul heard some of these voices in his own day. In fact, Paul had to defend himself against the “super apostles,” well-off ministers who berated him because he couldn’t claim their wealth and prestige (1 Corinthians 4:8-13). He says to them, “Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings” (1 Corinthians 4:8). He adds, “We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!” (1 Corinthians 4:10).
Paul faced off with these prosperity preachers, pointing out that they’d jumped the gun on reigning with Christ by living now as kings rather than as servants. Paul’s point is clear: Don’t try to reign prematurely! Dress like a servant. Let God put robes of honor on you when He brings you to His kingdom. Don’t put them on yourself now!
Trillia Newbell posted this recently on Twitter: “I’ve never cried over a tweet, until today. 2.7 million people potentially saw this falsehood. This is why we preach the gospel:” She followed with the tweet: “If you obey GOD you will never be broke another day in your life.” T.D. Jakes #anditcametopass
Many responders to Trillia’s post, and to others who retweeted it, seemed perplexed, and some were even angry. A number of them asked, what was her problem with what T.D. Jakes said? That they would even ask shows us how deeply rooted in our thinking the health and wealth gospel can become.
Christianity Today recently published an article written by Costi Hinn (the nephew of faith healer Binny Hinn) about being freed from the clutches of the prosperity gospel and false teaching. It’s well worth reading:
Benny Hinn Is My Uncle, but Prosperity Preaching Isn’t for Me
Almost 15 years ago, on a shoreline outside of Athens, Greece, I stood confident in my relationship with the Lord and my ministry trajectory. I was traveling the world on a private Gulfstream jet doing “gospel” ministry and enjoying every luxury money could buy. After a comfortable flight and my favorite meal (lasagna) made by our personal chef, we prepared for a ministry trip by resting at The Grand Resort: Lagonissi. Boasting my very own ocean-view villa, complete with private pool and over 2,000 square feet of living space, I perched on the rocks above the water’s edge and rejoiced in the life I was living. After all, I was serving Jesus Christ and living the abundant life he promised.
Little did I know that this coastline was part of the Aegean Sea—the same body of water the apostle Paul sailed while spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. There was just one problem: We weren’t preaching the same gospel as Paul.