Monday, January 6, 2014

Prosperity Gospel

Religious charlatans make millions of dollars from innocent people who just basically
want to be happy. They’re sick, and they want to be well. They’re poor and they want to be rich, or at least financially comfortable. They have a spiritual need, but can’t seem to find peace. An innumerable list of needs, and wants, come from sincere and even selfish people.

Along comes the televangelist promising that and more. All you have to do is send money or buy their product. They will throw out a whole line of Scriptures promising prosperity in whatever realm your need is. They prove by God’s Word (not really) that you don’t have your heart’s desire because you either don’t have enough faith or you haven’t supported the Lord’s work, meaning their “ministry.” 

What are the end results? Those asking for help get fleeced, and those who say they have what you want, for a price, get richer.

Surely God must have a special judgment for those who take advantage of others in order to feather their own nest by misquoting, misapplying, and misrepresenting the Holy Word of God, the Bible.

It sickens me to see the elderly especially trustingly send their last dollar to some religious quack and me knowing they are being robbed of their meager funds they need to live. Most of the elderly today are people who were raised much differently than the breed coming up to replace them. They exist on very little and are much too trusting. They will actually believe you when you speak to them. This is exactly why the charlatans and scammers go after them.

Let us answer an important question before we go further. Should we support organizations, religious or otherwise, since so many cannot be trusted? The answer is a resounding “YES!” Every situation is different, but I would recommend first of all spending much time in prayer and investigation before providing any financial support. Ask God to show you what to do. He will. Then when you do find a legitimate need to support, do so within the means you can afford.

Yeah, yeah I know. The televangelists will say you must “step out.” You must “have faith.” You must “trust God.” You must “plant a seed,” preferably a very big one, in their garden. Look, God wants you to live within your means, and I’ll leave it at that. So for legitimate organizations, by all means, support them to the degree you are able.

Now, allow me to get back to my main point. Basically, some ministers, evangelists, Bible teachers, etc. are using sales tactics to induce others to open up the old pocket book. Several very well-known religious leaders often preach on the prosperity gospel. So exactly what is the prosperity gospel again?

The prosperity gospel says that you don’t have because you don’t ask. Jesus wants you to be wealthy. You aren’t well because you don’t have faith and you don’t give to God. God will make you healthy and wealthy when you give, to their cause of course.

Some of the verses they use are:

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14

Of course they don’t read the next verse (15) which says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Jesus’ mind is on spiritual matters, and that is where ours should be.

They may pull out, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16

That is a great verse, and so are verses 14, 17 and 18. Read them. Jesus is talking about loving others, not getting anything we want.

And then there are these two verses:

“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:23-24

The only words in these two verses that people usually pay any attention to are the last eleven, “ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” What about the rest of it? What about the whole chapter for that matter, or even several of the chapters before and after these two verses? Jesus is instructing His disciples, who will become apostles, about His death and their ministry afterwards. He isn’t promising a “pie in the sky.” Think about it. These guys suffered much after Jesus went back to the Father and then died horrible deaths.

Well, you say, what about this one?

“Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” James 4:2

Again, what sticks out, “ye have not, because ye ask not?” What is James talking about though? He is talking about the condition of their hearts. They need to repent and ask for forgiveness, not for worldly prosperity.

I’ve gone through times myself many years ago when I used these verses and others to try to get God to heal my hurt or fill my need. There’s nothing wrong with that, until we misrepresent the verses and use them to swindle others out of money. Now I didn’t do that, and I’m sure you aren’t either, but beware of those who do.

What does all this mean though? Didn’t Jesus say, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.?” I don’t understand you say. Neither did I many moons ago, and I really needed His help. As a sidebar, I was getting His help all along, I was just too impatient and “not seeing the forest for the trees.”

Let’s consider another verse and get to the conclusion.

“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Psalm 37:4

Wow, the desires of my heart! No more problems in my neck of the woods! I like this! Prosperity here I come! But isn’t that what the other verses have been saying? How about this question, “What is the desire of my heart?” Now think about it. If we delight ourselves in the Lord, what would be the desire of our heart? Fellowship with the Lord and pleasing Him would be the desire of our heart, not health, wealth and fame. Fellowship with Jesus would be our desire. Doing His will would be our desire.

King David said, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:2

The “law of the Lord” is God’s Word, in other words, our Bible. This is our delight. Our Bibles should be worn out from usage. Are they?

The Apostle Paul said, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:11-13

I see nothing here about sending in our gifts in order to receive health, wealth and fame. It’s all about, “What does God have to say?” “Does what I do glorify His name?”

The Apostle Paul had no material possessions and suffered much, but his prayers were granted by God because they were in God’s will.

Am I saying that God will not cure sickness, so there’s no need to ask? Am I saying that He will not help us in our needs? Absolutely not! What I am saying is that maybe our interests need to be modified to match His. Let us follow our Lord in His prayer, “Thy will be done,” and mean it. Let us get our mind on heavenly things and off earthly things. He’ll take care of our earthly needs.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31

Luke reiterates the same words of Christ in chapter twelve, verses six and seven.

Will He help you on that final exam at school? He probably will, but not if you don’t even study for it.

Will He help you get a job? He will do that, but not if you just sit at the house waiting for the phone to ring.

Will He help you find that right person you can spend the rest of your life with? Absolutely, He will help you, but it may not be who you have in mind.

Will He help you on your job? Put Him first, and just watch Him work.

Let me emphasize one more time that the Lord is definitely aware of our material and physical needs and is always there for us, but it is our spiritual welfare that is of most importance.

Here is the bottom line. God blesses some people with material wealth, and He blesses others with material poverty. He blesses some people with physical health and others with physical sickness. Are we getting the point? Our blessings don’t come in selfish material desires. They come in spiritual longings. So what are we doing wrong? We should be asking for spiritual wealth and spiritual health above all else.

“Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” James 4:3

Don’t you think this is the nutshell of our problem? We “ask amiss.” Why? We do so to fulfil our own desires (lusts), “selfish” material wants, but it is God’s desire that we should delight in spiritual needs. We should be asking ourselves, “What is my Lord’s desire?” We will find it in His Word, because that is where He speaks to us.

The prosperity message that comes from the false prophets is a lie, because it preys on our material desires (lust). God’s Word is a message of spiritual desires, desires that prosper in our delight in Him. That is where we need to be. Are you?

Grant Phillips
Pre-Rapture Commentary: