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The "PROSPERITY" Gospel is NOT in the Bible
(-And NEITHER is "SEED-FAITH" Giving)
-by Andrew Strom.

A lot of people think that today's "Prosperity" teaching only
affects those in the 'Word-Faith' movement. But it's effects
are felt far more widely than that. Jesus said, "A little leaven
leavens the whole lump" and we find that this insidious
teaching has infected large sections of the body of Christ
in all kinds of ways. -Especially in America. One of the
main reasons for this is because it has aligned itself so
successfully with CHRISTIAN TELEVISION.

The fact is, Christian TV can be costly, so it helps to have
lots of money. And the "Prosperity" teaching is a proven
money-maker for preachers. It really gets people giving!
And so these kinds of preachers thrive on television. But
it sure is a sick kind of "Christianity" that is presented.
And totally unscriptural, as we shall see.

The Prosperity gospel basically teaches that not only does
Jesus want to take away your sins and heal your body,
but He also wants you to be prosperous and even "rich".
-Not just 'SPIRITUALLY' rich, but actually blessed with 
all kinds of possessions, cars and houses, etc. Because,
of course, any kind of poverty and suffering is a "curse",
and we know that Jesus came to set us free from the 'curse'.

Now of course there is some truth in this. If there wasn't,
then this false teaching would never get off the ground.

But the Bible makes it very clear that Jesus' followers
can expect to SHARE IN HIS SUFFERINGS (Rom 8:17,
Lk 14:27, etc). The Scriptures also speak again and again
of Jesus' affinity with the POOR and His opposition to
those who are rich. In fact, the sheer weight of Scriptures
on this subject is staggering. It is amazing to me that
the Prosperity teachers can get away with the things that
they say. Doesn't anybody read their Bible any more? 

The fact is, these people can find only ONE verse that
mentions "Prosperity" in the whole New Testament (-and
it is of dubious help, as we shall see). And there are
dozens and dozens of verses in opposition! But which one
do they choose to quote again and again? Here it is in the
King James version (-which is the only translation that helps
them in any way): "I wish above all things that thou mayest
prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."
(3 John 2). Now, it is interesting to note what this word
"prosper" really means in this verse. Renowned Greek
scholar W.E. Vine says that it simply speaks of "the
prosperity of physical and spiritual health."  So it's not
about MONEY at all!

And thus we find that in all the later translations, this
meaning is made clear. For example, the NIV translation
says: "I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all
may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along
well" (3 John 2). Isn't that interesting?

As I said, this is one of the ONLY VERSES that these
Prosperity teachers quote in the entire New Testament.
If they are honest, they will admit that most of the rest of
the NT is squarely AGAINST THEM.

What I would encourage anyone to do, who wants to
research this subject, is to get a Concordance and look
up EVERY VERSE in the New Testament that contains
these words:  (1) Rich or Riches, (2) Money, (3) Poor,
(4) Mammon (5) Possessions, (6) Treasure, (7) Sell or Sold, etc.

You will be absolutely amazed at how strong the NT
Scriptures are on this subject. I did this exact search
years ago, and was astonished at what I found.

When you look up the word 'Rich' you find Scriptures such
as this:  "Woe unto you that are rich! For you have received
your consolation" (Lk 6:24) and "How hard it is for the rich
to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go
through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter
the kingdom of God" (Lk 18:24-25, NIV) and "People who
want to GET RICH fall into temptation and a trap" (1 Tim 6:9)
and "You rich people, weep and wail because of the misery
that is coming upon you" (Ja 5:1). There are many more
along similar lines. Go and look them up, and you will see!

We find that when Jesus was preaching kingdom principles
he was very strong in this area. When the 'Rich young man'
came to him, He told him: "SELL your possessions and
give to the POOR, and you will have treasure in heaven.
Then come, follow me" (Mt 19:21, NIV). He also told his
own disciples to "SELL your possessions and give to the
POOR" (Lk 12:33).

In my recent article on "Tithing" we discussed the whole
issue of 'Giving' in the New Testament. The fact is, there
is no "law" telling Christians to give 10%. In fact, what the
NT makes clear is that EVERYTHING we have literally
belongs to God. Many people claim that "All I have is
God's" but they do not act like it!  In the New Testament
it is clear that it was EXPECTED for Christians to sell any
spare possessions, land or houses, to give to their needy
brothers and sisters - especially widows and orphans. They
certainly weren't giving their money to wealthy preachers
on TV! And neither were they giving it to erect a new church
building on the corner! (-Such things did not exist). They
were giving from their HEART - and while some of it went to
support the ministry, MOST of it clearly went to feed and
clothe the POOR. (See Acts 2:44-45, Acts 4:34-37).

Some people today want to go back to the Old Testament
and use people like Solomon and Abraham as examples
of RICH people to emulate. But what they fail to realize is
that the Old Testament is a 'type' or a "SHADOW" of the
New. (Col 2:16, Heb 10:1). The Old was a "physical"
covenant, with a "physical" temple and rituals, etc. The
"blessings" of God were also mostly PHYSICAL and
material. But today we have a "spiritual" covenant - a
"heart-based" covenant, with mostly SPIRITUAL blessings.
That is why we should not seek Old Testament wealth
today. -We live under a different covenant.

It is very obvious from the New Testament that there is
NO SUCH THING as a 'Prosperity' gospel. In fact, it is the
exact OPPOSITE. Jesus said, "Blessed are you who are
POOR, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Lk 6:20). And
James declared: "Has not God chosen those who are
POOR in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to
inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?"
(Ja 2:5, NIV). Jesus clearly stated that you "CANNOT
serve God and Mammon" (Mt 6:24) and yet it is obvious
that many Christians today are trying to serve BOTH. The
'Prosperity' teaching clearly encourages this. It is a very
dangerous and harmful fallacy.

So does God want to bless His children or not? Of course
He does! But He wants to bless us so that we can GIVE
MORE AWAY - NOT so that we can hoard more luxuries
to ourselves. How can it be right for some Christians to be
wealthy and rolling in money and possessions, while just
down the street there are Christians who barely have
enough to eat? And what about our needy brothers and
sisters overseas?

There is a prophecy about the coming move of God that
one thing it will be built on is "Extravagant giving to the
poor."  I truly believe this. I am convinced that it is
something that is very high on God's agenda.

"SEED-FAITH" Giving

It is important that I make a few comments about the
'Seed-Faith' teaching here, because so many TV preachers
use it to pressure people to give to their ministry. What it
amounts to is a "Give-to-Get" doctrine that blatantly twists
Scripture.

When a preacher says something like, "Sow a seed of
$100 into my ministry today, and God will give you back
100-fold," then they are operating out of this "Seed-Faith"
doctrine. What they are really saying is, "Give to get". The
motivation for giving is not so much to bless that ministry,
but to GET SOMETHING BACK from God. The motivation
is all twisted. Do they really expect God to "bless"
something so wrong-hearted?

But the TV preachers love this doctrine, because it enables
them to gather huge sums of money. And surprisingly,
studies have shown that it is the poor and needy who give
most often to these TV preachers. Why is this? -Because
these people often feel that only a financial "miracle" can
save them. It is not uncommon for desperate Christians to
give and give, well beyond their means, in the hope that
God will rescue them. Some will even lose their homes.
And the elderly and the sick often give sacrificially in the
hope of some kind of improvement.

Many preachers are fully aware of the kind of people they
are exploiting. How sick it all is. As Jesus said in Mt 23:14,
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you
devour widows' houses.  I shudder to think of the fate that
awaits some of these preachers on Judgement Day.

Much of the reasoning behind this "Seed-Faith" teaching
is a distortion of 'Sowing and Reaping', which is a biblical
concept. But when it is distorted by preachers and sold
as a means of "Giving to get" then it has gone well beyond
the Scriptures. The purity of simply "giving from the heart"
is lost and replaced with selfish motives. People give
because the preacher "guarantees" they will get a 'big
return' on their investment! The motivation is so wrong that
it is no wonder that this doctrine has produced disastrous
fruit in the church. It is one of the sickest things around.

So next time you hear a preacher using this kind of
manipulation to get you to give him $100, make sure you
rebuke the deception in the name of Jesus, and turn the
television off!

We would all be far better off giving to the poor.