What does the Bible say about the prosperity gospel?



Question: "What does the Bible say about the prosperity gospel?"

Answer:
In the prosperity gospel, also known as the “Word of Faith” religion, the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite—God uses the believer. Word Faith or prosperity theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person who enables the believer to do God's will. The prosperity gospel movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that infiltrated the early church. Paul and the other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated such heresy. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them.

Paul warned Timothy about "constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that Godliness is a means of gain.... But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, Godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness." (1 Timothy 6:5, 9-11.)

Paul said covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5) and instructed the Ephesians to avoid anyone who brought a message of immorality or covetousness (Ephesians 5:6-7). Prosperity teaching prohibits God from working on His own, meaning that God is not Lord of all because He cannot work until we release Him to do so. Faith, according to the Word of Faith doctrine, is not submissive trust in God; faith is a formula by which we manipulate the spiritual laws prosperity teachers believe govern the universe. As in the name "Word of Faith" implies, this movement teaches that faith is a matter of what we say more than who we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts.

A favorite term in the Word of Faith movement is "positive confession." It refers to the teaching that words have creative power. What you say, Word of Faith teachers claim, determines everything that happens to you. Your confessions, especially the favors you demand of God, must all be stated positively and without wavering. Then God is required to answer (as though man could require anything of God!). Thus God's ability to bless us supposedly hangs on our faith. James 4:13-16 clearly contradicts this teaching, "Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that. But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil."

Far from stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it. Believers, especially leaders in the church (1 Timothy 3:3), are to be free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). The love of money leads to all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus warned, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15). In sharp contrast to the Word of Faith emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life, Jesus said "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradiction between prosperity teaching gospel and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, "You cannot serve God and riches."


Recommended Resource: Counterfeit Revival by Hank Hanegraaff.


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Why are there so many televangelist scandals?

Is the Word of Faith movement Biblical?

What is the Toronto blessing?

How should a Christian view materialism?

How should a Christian view wealth?



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What does the Bible say about the prosperity gospel?