I want to talk about something with you that I think has crept in and made its way into our lives and in the life of the church and has a hold on us. In the American church, specifically. It’s this idea of the “prosperity gospel.” The prosperity gospel is this idea among some Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being are both always the will of God. Through faith, positive speech, and large donations to religious causes secure these blessings. They view God’s Word as a contract that is simply: if humans have faith in God, that He will secure them and bless them graciously. That is the prosperity gospel. Now, pay close attention, because I need you to focus on this very next sentence. I need to make this very clear. Give me all of your attention. Alright here it is:
The prosperity gospel is heresy.
If you align yourself with that train of thought, then I apologize if that offended you. But I also pray for you in the hopes that you genuinely seek repentance. I want to make something very clear and distinct. Following after Christ will not make you wealthy. Following after Christ will not make you healthy. Following after Christ will not do any of those things. And it is heresy to believe otherwise. I am astounded that the prosperity gospel has become so abundantly popular in the American church. I am astounded that so many people and so many “church leaders” have fallen in to this trap. I am astounded that so many people flagrantly ignore scripture and centuries upon centuries of Christian history that is characterized by men and women who have selflessly given their lives for the Gospel. I am appalled. I want to lay out “number” reasons why this train of thought will ultimately lead to despair.
- It promotes idolatry.
The prosperity gospel is actually a misnomer. Because it is in fact not the gospel. The “gospel” that these men and women have created is not the gospel found in the Word of God. The god that they claim to worship is not the God found in scripture. The God of scripture is not one that is to be trifled with. He is not one that subjugates Himself to the will of man. He is not one that exists to make man happy. He is not one that exists to ensure that man is healthy and wealthy. He is the God that is worthy of our praise. He is a God that is worthy of our submission. He is the God of this universe. He is the sovereign ruler of this universe. Colossians 1:18, “And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” (ESV) He is preeminent, on top, the boss, king, ruler, in charge. He is the center of the universe. The apostle John writes, “All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.” (John 1:3) From Him, all life flows. We were created in order to glorify Him. Which leads to the next point.
2. We make ourselves the gods of our own lives (idolatry).
When we follow this line of thinking, we in turn make ourselves the center of the universe. We are the sole purpose of the universe. God exists to serve us and to make us happy. “If God really loves me then He’s gonna bless me!” “Have faith, love the Lord, and tithe so God will give you what you want!” “God doesn’t want you to not have what you want! He wants you to be happy!” God doesn’t exist to just simply give you what you want. Now do not get me wrong. Does He bless us and take joy in blessing us? Of course. He is a good Father that supplies His children with what they need in accordance with His will. The danger here is when we desire what God can give over God Himself. He is enough for us. Whether or not He provides for our physical needs, He is always enough. This what Paul was talking about when he wrote to the church in Philippi. Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. He was not living some luxurious lifestyle. He was not “naming and claiming” blessings in his life. He was imprisoned for the sake of the gospel. He was not living with a lot. He writes, “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. I know both how to make do with little and I know how to make do with a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content – whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13 CSB) Paul was a guy who, before Christ, had a good life. He was a part of the religious council, was well respected, and had his life together. After having a very real come to Jesus meeting, Paul was sold out for Christ. So sold out that he was willing to be incarcerated for his faith and ultimately martyred. He was content in whatever circumstance. Why was he content? JESUS! Paul knew that everything on this earth was counted as loss compared to knowing Christ. He counted all of his past accomplishments as garbage and continued to press on towards the goal. Christ is, was, and will always be enough for us.
The prosperity gospel is heresy. It belittles the name of Christ. Christ gave all He had to save mankind. He became sin who knew no sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). He suffered a death that He did not deserve. He came to His own but His own did not accept Him (John 1:11). He humbled Himself as a servant, to the point of death (Php 2:8). He gave all He had for us so that we may be reconciled to God. How dare we have the audacity to think we could ever demand more from Him. He is enough.