Battling With The Buck...Part 2 "Debunking the Prosperity Gospel"
- Created: Monday, 03 January 2005 18:19
- Written by Tom Lipp
Last month we saw that Jesus warned us against the love of riches, but not against riches themselves. Today the topic is the proverbial “Prosperity Gospel”. Since I am a financial planner and not a medical doctor, I will deal only with the wealth aspect of the so-called “health and wealth” gospel.
The book of Romans contains the most comprehensive explanation of the Gospel.
The teaching that God blesses all those who obey him with financial abundance is heresy.In chapter 5 God details His gift to humanity. It makes no mention of financial prosperity and actually extols the benefits of adversity! Here's what I mean. Romans 5 teaches that God's free gift to humanity is full forgiveness and a new source of indestructible life all through Jesus Christ. There is no mention of increasing assets. Jesus came to bring abundant life – not abundant assets. They are not the same thing! God no longer harbors any bad intentions for those who are in Jesus Christ. Understanding this enables us to rejoice even in our troubles, including poverty! It's mind-boggling to grasp this powerful reality. To miss it condemns us to mere asset accumulation. Even Solomon touched on this truth in Ecclesiastes 2:26 “To a person who is good in God’s sight, God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting, [emphasis added] so that He may give to the one who is good in God’s sight.”
The teaching that God blesses all those who obey him with financial abundance is heresy. The curse that came into the world through sin is not poverty but death... eternal agonizing conscious torment - not annihilation. This is a million times worse than any and all poverty. Jesus came to save us from the curse of hell, not from financial hardships.
Now it just so happens that our Lord owns everything and His followers we are joint heirs with him of all things. But as the King's kids we are under closer supervision than those outside the Kingdom. We cannot call Him our Master and then do whatever we want with His possessions. Canadian author and former VP of Alcan Inc., Mike Bell, has written an excellent book on this topic, Managing God’s Money. Short-term material wealth is never an end; it is merely a tool.
The picture gets a little more complex at this point. The enemy of our souls would like to get us to exchange eternal treasures for temporary ones. If he can get Christians to seek short-term wealth then he has effectively neutralized them as change agents in a materialistic world. Jesus Himself warned His followers that the worries of the world [maintaining its assets] and the deceitfulness of riches [the illusion of wealth] would come in like weeds and choke the Word of God in a believer's life, making him unfruitful for God. Such weeds don't totally kill the plant, but just make it anemic so that there is no fruit and no reproductive life.
Don't get me wrong. Of course God wants us to prosper in every way even as our soul prospers. But the point is, the prosperity of our soul is infinitely more important than the wealth of our body. A young martyr in the 20th Century, Jim Elliot once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” If we follow the teaching that God wants all obedient Christians to be materially wealthy, beware! We may be doing the exact opposite of what Jim Elliot said. We may be "giving away what we cannot lose to gain what we cannot keep." This is not a good financial strategy! We are told by the Bible to pursue wisdom much more than we are told to pursue wealth. Our life is not in our assets but in our Lord.