Zach Murphy, youth pastor at Westport Baptist Church in Westport, Kentucky, brought up an important point at our breakfast discussion this morning. Stay far away from the prosperity gospel and its teachers’ teachings. What is the prosperity gospel, exactly?
Here’s the scenario. You’re asleep and all of a sudden you’re startled awake by a new voice on your TV. You can be healthy, you can have financial freedom; all you have to do is pick up the phone and dial this 800 number, drink this water and a miracle will happen. The preacher who is pushing this miracle product drones on for an hour with testimonials from people whose lives have been changed by this miracle water from God. “Sign me up,” you think, but before you pick up the phone a voice in the back of your head says, “too good to be true.” Of course, I am referring to Peter Popoff.
Peter Popoff, Joyce Meyers, Joel Osteen–are all part of a group of ministers who promise health and wealth in exchange for serving God, often times in the form of donations or offerings. Prosperity evangelists. Joel Osteen is quoted as saying that we should, “serve God for ourselves, because it pleases God when we are happy.” If you believe one thing, believe this: God does not call us to be selfish. That is what pastors refer to as, “false prophesy.”
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Matthew 7:15 (ESV)
So these preachers did not necessarily obtain their wealth by serving God. Yet, they continually ask for offerings and donations in God’s name. Imagine that. When we read between the lines, we clearly see that these ministers are not serving God; they are serving money.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Matthew 6:24 (KJV)
In the King James Bible (and many others), mammon is referred to when talking about material wealth or greed. Clearly, these prosperity evangelists are speaking from a different playbook than that of the Lord. Joyce Meyer even proclaims that what she teaches is not in the bible.1 According to the same article in the footnotes, Meyer also claims that she is, “no longer a sinner.” That should already be raising some red flags, for the Bible also teaches us this important point.
8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1 John 1:8-10 (KJV)
We are sinners by nature. God forgives our sins through Jesus. Satan penetrates our lives when we allow ourselves to forget that one simple truth. When we allow Satan to penetrate our lives, he will feed us more lies so that we can spread his poison to others. He will give us wealth and power so that we appear more genuine. We believe because we do not want to accept that God gives us bad times that we may overcome them and fully appreciate the good times. Satan tempts us with riches and power to get our attention and entice us to leave the path of God (discussed in Matthew 4:1-11)
In Luke 18:20-22, Jesus tells a wealthy ruler who asks, how he may inherit the kingdom of God.
20You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'” 21“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said. 22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Luke 18:20-22 (NIV)
These so-called “prosperity theologists” at one time, maybe, were genuinely interested in God’s teachings or had good intentions, but now are crooked ministers who use their ordained pulpit to teach false prophesy. God give us our daily bread, so that we may live humbly in His service. Our gift is eternal. Our forgiveness was paid for with Christ’s blood.
If you have any further doubts, may this final closing thought help you to find the correct path:
Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.
Luke 18:25 (NIV)
1Henderson, Rick Pr. The False Promise of the Prosperity Gospel: Why I Called Out Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer. Huffington Post (21 Oct 2013). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pastor-rick-henderson/osteen-meyer-prosperity-gospel_b_3790384.html.