My Little Rant Against The Prosperity Non-Gospel

The good news is that by all accounts Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds all over the world, the bad news is that the majority of it is what has been deemed the “health and wealth gospel”. The majority of the missionary efforts that have been being imported out of the United States have been nothing more than prosperity gospel in one shape or another for far too long. Prosperity gospel can be defined very easily. The basic tenant is that God always desires you to be healthy, always desires you to be wealthy, and always desires you to be safe. Sometimes I have to wonder if these people who advocate this have ever read the Bible. I mean one example that comes to mind is the Apostle Paul, writing to the Philippians at the end of his letter, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) What can he do? Have the nicest horses? The best clothes? Live in a mansion. No. He can sit in jail, and he can say it is a good thing because now all the Philippian jailer’s have heard the gospel. And all the brothers have become bolder (Philippians 1:12-14) He can endure shipwrecks, and beatings, and imprisonments, and everything. Because it is Christ who strengthens him. In the path of obedience to Christ, he can do all things, because it is Christ who strengthens him, and sustains him. It is Christ who is worth it. Christianity is not about our will. It is about his will. It is not about our wants, it is about his wants. It’s not about our mission, it is about his mission. The prosperity, health and wealth, non-gospel advocates have totally missed the boat on this. This stuff is an aberration. It is not helpful. It is not Christ-Centered. It is very much Me-Centered. And it destroys people because the focus is on you, not on Christ. It’s a form of works righteousness. You do, to get things from God. If you don’t get things from God, you didn’t have enough faith. And if you do, you did, and said, and believed all the right things. Kind of like winning the lottery. And how is this glorifying to God? Don’t you see the problem. It is all about self. The Bible says everything should be done for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). The Bible says we are to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow him. So, I am not disputing the fact that God desires to bless his people. But how do we reconcile that with the abundantly clear idea of self-denial? It’s just that I think prosperity advocates and the influence that it has had on so many has confused the idea of what a blessing is. A working God-centered (which is the kind of people Christians should be, God-centered, not me-centered) of what a blessing is, that I have developed … “a gospel blessing is anything that draws you closer to God so that you will glorify him more”. Anything that causes you to rely on God more, trust him more, and serve him more is a blessing. Think about the 1000 yr. rule. A thousand years from now, will what you are going through right now have been worth it? Was it for you, or was it for him? Will it be burned up, or will it bear eternal weight? With that definition that means a blessing can be having lots of money. It can also mean having no money. A blessing can be being totally safe from all harm. A blessing can be being in the midst of harm. A blessing can be being in good health. A blessing can be being in bad health. Whatever it takes to push you more into God. Because friends God is the greatest blessing, he is the greatest gift. He is our exceedingly great reward. Don’t ever forget that. And so often we have. At least I think the common form of American Christianity has. I mean if you win people to Christianity by appealing to what people would already want if they were not Christians are you really drawing them to Christianity? Isn’t the values of Christ supposed to be different than the values of the world? But basically, we have exported this idea that God wants you to have your best life now. God wants you to be secure and safe and comfortable and to have a good economy. We have I am afraid, literally taken the idea of the American Dream and turned into gospel. But how does that work where people are really poor? Is really one of the most important things about being a Christian is to appreciate how blessed you are because you are prosperous? If that is the case, maybe what we are telling the people we visit, is that if they could just get to America they would be blessed, too. Is that really what we think being blessed is? Is the great and blessed hope to live in a land with a bunch of prosperity? Is that the good news? Is that the gospel? I submit to you it is not! If what we are preaching and believing can’t be preached and believed all over the world, it is not the gospel. The gospel is for all people. The gospel is the good news that we can be reconciled to God not because of anything we have done or have to do, but because of what Christ has done. That through repentance of our sin (meaning quit trusting in ourselves and in our own ways) and faith in Christ (trusting in what he has done and trusting in his ways) we can be reconciled to God and be adopted into his family as his children. It doesn’t get any better than that. When we are adopted into God’s family we have all of God’s riches at our disposal. But they are not the riches of this world. They are not the riches per se, that moth and rust do destroy. When we become a Christian we cling tightly to the things of God and lightly to the things of this world. As God’s in a lot of ways, we become pilgrims. Everything is already ours but we a traveling where we already are and to what we already have. Ephesians 1 says we are seated in heavenly places. But we still have to wake up every day and put our shoes on. We are traveling. And we got a mission to be on. Because there is something more important than the temporary here and now. That is the eternal. So we deny ourselves things now. We live a wartime lifestyle now. For the good of what will come. And to reach others now. And we are not to reach others with this idea that your best life is now. Because seriously if that is the case. That is really sad. Because that either means the people that we reach are going to hell or that heaven is not going to be as good as things are here. And that makes no sense. It’s just not true. Heaven is going to be way better than it is here. No, my friends, we are to reach people and teach people about the fact that apart from the good news of Jesus Christ they are under God’s wrath for their sin. And that in Christ, they are safe, loved, secure for all eternity, and to be content. Because nothing can ever happen to us that can cause us to be separated from him. Not tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39) That is the Christianity that we are to be exporting into the world. True Christianity. True Bible believing, grace inhaling, gospel exhaling Christianity. The kind of Christianity that will help people live in tough circumstances and glorify God in the midst of them. The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news my friends, because there is something far worse than death and there is something far better than human flourishing. It’s high time we get back to square one again. Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Our home is the new heavens and new earth. Don’t plant your tent stakes down like Lot did towards Sodom. Don’t look back towards the world with longing for the things of the world like Lot’s wife did. Be so heavenly minded friends that you actually might be some earthly good. It’s really what this world needs. It doesn’t take anything supernatural to long for the things of the world, but it does take something supernatural to live in this world, and long for the things of God. May something supernatural describe us. Not this “prosperity” idol worship nonsense. But what only can be described as having been with Jesus. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

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