John 8:32 (NKJV) And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
There is a message that is being taught in the modern church that is poisoning believers by the millions. It’s being taught by some very well-known Christian speakers and it has trickled all the way down to the smallest churches in the world.
This message has caused some preachers to become wildly popular, gaining followers by the hundreds of thousands, and perhaps even by the millions. Some preachers have become amazingly wealthy because they propagate this message.
There may be bits of truth mixed in with this massive lie; just enough to make it seem like the truth. And because there is truth, it has deceived so very many faithful followers of Christ. Yes, even some of the most devout, well-intentioned believers have fallen for this.
It’s safe to say that millions of believers have fallen victim to this lie. It has caused so very much heartbreak in the church. And it is very safe to say that some believers have even walked away from their faith because of this terrible false doctrine that has pervaded the hearts and minds of believers worldwide.
And to make matters worse, victims of this false doctrine have even gotten themselves into serious financial trouble, many times leading to massive debt and even bankruptcy. Yes, even bankruptcy, losing everything they had.
So what is this deadly message that is so terrible that it can cause such devastation in the church? What is this message that can tear families apart and wreak havoc with the faith of even the most steadfast believers?
It is “the prosperity gospel”.
Yes. The message that teaches us that God wants us all to be ridiculously wealthy and that if we get our faith on track, we can all walk in amazing success and have wads of money falling out of our pockets.
Now, before I go any further, let me disarm my critics. I do not believe Christians should be poor just because they are followers of Christ. I believe that message is just as evil as the one that teaches us that all believers should be filthy rich.
Poverty is just as big a curse as wealth, in so many ways. Poverty is a type of bondage that can break people’s hearts and cause so much stress that people literally break down mentally. So, no, we do not believe that Christians should be poor as a symbol of humility. People can be dirt poor and still not be truly humble in their hearts.
But we also don’t believe that God intends for every believer to be extremely wealthy.
Is it wrong for Christians to have modest wealth, or even great wealth? Absolutely not. If God is our first priority and we follow His principles regarding money, laid out for us in the Bible, there isn’t a thing wrong with having wealth. And yes, we can even have great wealth.
But the problem comes when we get things twisted up and money becomes our priority.
The problem with the prosperity gospel is that it focuses way too much on money and not enough on the root of the real gospel of Jesus Christ; sin and redemption. Jesus died to save us from our sin, not to bring great wealth to us.
And let’s be clear. The death and resurrection of Jesus also brings freedom to the lives of believers in many other areas of our lives too, such as healing, demonic deliverance, freedom from oppression, depression, anxiety, and a long list of other things.
The word of God also teaches us the principles needed to keep us free from the bondage of debt. But this isn’t the result of Jesus dying on the cross. Instead, it is the result of heeding what we’re taught in God’s word and using good old-fashion common sense when it comes to our finances.
Romans 13:8 (NKJV) Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Debt. It’s a four-letter word. It’s a word that will cause some people to shudder when they even read it on paper or on a screen. Debt is something that can cause people to live their lives in despair. And in extreme circumstances, it can even cause people to take their own life.
Debt is a modern form of slavery that holds millions and millions of people in bondage. And in some cases, it can be extreme bondage. People can work themselves into poor health by accumulating unreasonable amounts of debt. Marriages are destroyed because of debt.
In this modern world, many very large corporations make billions of dollars each year by extending debt to unsuspecting people and then reaping the benefits by charging exorbitant interest rates, ridiculous late fees and over-limit fees.
Debt has become the norm in the western world, where people use credit cards to buy things that they can’t afford and live in extravagant homes in order to keep up with their friends and neighbors.
And it all looks good for a while. But sooner or later, if common sense doesn’t kick in and the debts don’t get paid off quickly, the walls come crashing down and everything is lost.
I dare to say that many, many Christians fall into this trap of debt because they have been sold the lie of the prosperity gospel. They have been told that they need to “take a step of faith” and go after those things that they want. If their faith is strong enough and their confession is positive, God will come through and bless them abundantly.
This is pure nonsense. And this type of teaching has led millions of believers to spend money they don’t have in order to talk the talk and walk the walk. What they didn’t realize is that the walk would lead them down a path of fiscal destruction, spiraling down into financial oblivion, ending with a crash and burn and empty pockets.
It’s time to put a stop to this nonsensical teaching that is hurting millions of people across the world. It’s time to call it what it is; heresy.
The prosperity gospel is an insult to the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not take a severe beating, die on the cross and spend time in the grave just so you and I could be wealthy and live this terrible lie. To think that He did is ludicrous.
Oh, we can be wealthy, and we can have nice things. But it’s not by the blood of Jesus that we gain wealth. It’s by following Biblical truths and principles that we gain financial wealth. It’s by working hard and being diligent with our finances that we succeed financially. It’s by giving generously that our finances are blessed.
It is not by walking in great faith and asking God to drop money from the sky. It is not by speaking a positive confession and waking up each morning with the hope that today will be the day that our blessing will come!
Yes, we should always speak positively. Yes, we should wake up each morning excited at the prospect of a fresh, new day. But it should not have money at the center of each waking moment! If God chooses to bless us, then thank Him for it! But if another day, another week or another year goes by and our finances have not been blessed in the way we had hoped for, we still need to be thankful.
So let me begin to wrap this up.
God is our source. He is our provider. He is our all in all.
He is not our banker. At least not in the sense that so many people want Him to be. He is not our bottomless piggy bank that we can shake every so often and get some coins to fall out of. He does own the cattle on a thousand hills. He did create everything we see.
But if we have to go into debt to live the lifestyle that is being taught by the prosperity gospel people, doesn’t that alone tell us that the teaching holds no weight and has no Biblical merit?
If money is put before so many other more important things that God wants to teach us, doesn’t that send up big red flags, alerting us to the fact that this teaching is at least a little off base? It should!
Don’t let the prosperity message fool you. Don’t let it pressure you into thinking that if you’re not wealthy and driving the latest model high-end sports car or living in a million dollar home that your walk with God is off.
As many people have learned the hard way, trying to live out this lifestyle that is being hyped up as “gospel truth” isn’t easy and it can do great harm. So don’t fall prey to it.
Just remember; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Put God first, follow His truths and precepts, let Him show you how to handle your finances, and watch how much better your life will be, without hype or false faith.
Pastor Curt & Pastor Ellie