The Gospel of Prosperity

Q. Mike, have you gone off the deep end? I watched your program last week and you had on some guy trying to sell a “gospel of prosperity” book. I am disappointed and disgusted. I can’t believe you would have Benny Hinn and Oral Roberts on your program!

First, let me say, and I will repeat this throughout the program so there will be no confusion for those who turn in late, there was a mistake, a human error last week which caused a paid advertisement to be run in place of “What Do The Scriptures Say.” AZ-TV has apologized for this mistake and promises that it will not happen again.

Our program has been broadcast for 14 years without missing a single Sunday (until last week) at 7:30 AM. That’s over 700 programs. In all that time we have NEVER, not even once, asked for, encouraged, hinted at, or attempted to manipulate you into donating to this program. We are not on the air to raise money, we are broadcasting to share God’s Word.

It must be obvious to our regular viewers that we would never endorse the tactics that were used in our time-slot last week. In fact, it should be obvious that we abhor such an approach.

Since there has been some confusion about this, I’m going to take this opportunity to address the concept of the “gospel of prosperity.”

This is a despicable doctrine which is taught by the mega-church televangelists today in order to support their world-wide ministries and lavish life styles. They badly abuse God’s Word and sincere people. They twist Scripture to guilt trip people out of their hard earned money. This shame abuses the name of Jesus Christ for profit and gain by frauds, charlatans and spiritual impostors whose motivation is sheer human vanity and greed.

Let me first define what we are talking about. I went to the internet for a definition of the “gospel of prosperity” and found the following information at Wikipedia.

From: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Prosperity theology or Prosperity doctrine is the doctrine that prosperity and success in business is external evidence of God’s favor. This favor may be preordained, or granted in return for prayer or merit-making.

Prosperity theology is commonly a part of televangelist and neo-pentecostal churches which claims God wants Christians to be successful in every way, including financially. Proponents claim that its purpose is funding of preaching throughout the World, and is based largely on a Bible verse (Deuteronomy 8:18) which says, “God gives you the power to get wealth to establish his covenant.”

Some of the evangelists supporting prosperity theology include Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Nasir Saddiki, Peter Popoff, Robert Tilton, T.D. Jakes, Paul Crouch, Joel Osteen, E.W. Kenyon, Charles Capps, Kenneth Hagin, Frederick K.C. Price, and David [Paul] Yonggi Cho. Pat Robertson calls this theory the “Law of Reciprocity” on his show, The 700 Club. The theology was previously the basis of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s PTL Club but was renounced by them in the 1990s following Jim Bakker’s prison term for fraud.

From another source:

Prosperity Gospel & The New Age

– The fastest growing segment of professing Christianity in recent years has been among churches connected with the Positive Confession movement or Word-Faith movement (all part of the modern Charismatic movement). It has involved two distinct but closely related factions: the Norman Vincent Peale/Robert Schuller Positive-Possibility thinkers/Positive Mental Attitude, with their roots in New Thought; and the Kenneth Hagin/Kenneth Copeland Positive Confession and Word-Faith groups, which have their roots in E.W. Kenyon, William Branham, and the Manifest Sons of God

– As the name “Positive Confession”/”Word-Faith” implies, this movement teaches that faith is a matter of what we say more than whom we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts. The term “positive confession” refers to the teaching that words have creative power. What you say, Word-Faith teachers claim, determines everything that happens to you. Your “confessions,” that is, the things you say — especially the favors you demand of God — must all be stated positively and without wavering. Then God is required to answer.

Word-Faith believers view their positive confessions as an incantation by which they can conjure up anything they desire. John F. MacArthur, Jr., says in his book “Charismatic Chaos” that their doctrine may be summarized as follows: “Believe it in your heart; say it with your mouth. That is the principle of faith. You can have what you say” (Charismatic Chaos, pp. 281, 285).

This is at the heart of the Positive Confession movement today, also known as the “name-it-and-claim-it” gospel.

To summarize the gospel of prosperity doctrine we can break it down this way:

This is what they teach:

1. Faith is a force that both God and man can use:

“Faith is a force just like electricity or gravity.”
“We have all the capabilities of God. We have His faith” (Copeland).

God uses faith, and so may we in exactly the same way in order to produce the same results through obedience to the same “laws of faith” (Capps) that God applied in creation. “You have the same ability [as God has] dwelling or residing on the inside of you” (Capps).

2. Faith’s force is released by speaking words:

“Words are the most powerful thing in the universe” because they “are containers” that “carry faith or fear and they produce after their kind” (Capps).
“Creative power was in God’s mouth. It is in your mouth also” (Capps).

God operates by these very same laws. “God had faith in His own words … God had faith in His faith, because He spoke words of faith and they came to pass. That faith force was transported by words … the God-kind-of-faith … is released by the words of your mouth” (Hagin).

3. Man is a “little god” in God’s class:

“Man was designed or created by God to be the god of this world” (Tilton, Hagin, Capps).

“Adam was the god of this world … [but he] sold out to Satan, and Satan became the god of this world” (Hagin).

“We were created to be gods over the earth, but remember to spell it with a little ‘g’” (Tilton, Hagin, Capps). ”

Adam was created in God’s class … to rule as a god … by speaking words” (Copeland). “Man was created in the God class … We are a class of gods … God himself spawned us from His innermost being … We are in God; so that makes us part of God (2 Cor 5:17)” (Copeland).

4. Anyone — occultist or Christian — can use the faith force:

Because man is a little god “in God’s class: very capable of operating on the same level of faith as God” (Capps),

“God is a faith God. God releases His faith in Words, [and we must do the same:] … Everything you say [positive or negative] will come to pass” (Capps).

“Spiritual things are created by WORDS. Even natural, physical things are created by WORDS” (Hagin).

5. You get what you confess:

The vital key is confessing, or speaking aloud, and thereby, releasing the force of faith.

“You get what you say” (Hagin).

“Only by mouth confession can faith power be released, allowing tremendous things to happen” (Cho).

“Remember, the key to receiving the desires of your heart is to make the words of your mouth agree with what you want” (Copeland).

“Whatever comes out of your mouth shall be produced in your life” (Tilton).

6. Never make a negative confession:

The tongue “can kill you, or it can release the life of God within you … whether you believe right or wrong, it is still the law” (Capps).

There is power in “the evil fourth dimension” (Cho).

If you confess sickness you get it, if you confess health you get it; whatever you say you get” (Hagin).

“Faith is as a seed … you plant it by speaking it” (Capps).

“The spoken word … releases power — power for good or power for evil” (Bashan). Therefore, it is very important never to speak anything negative but only to make a positive confession — hence the name of the Positive Confession movement.

Positive Confession leaders have a wrong view of faith: Instead of trust in God as its object, it is a metaphysical force they trust.

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 whom we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts.

They have a wrong view of God: He is not sufficient in Himself, but can only do what He does by using this universal faith-force in obedience to certain cosmic laws.

A favorite term in the Word of Faith movement is “positive confession.” It refers to their 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. Thus God’s ability to bless us supposedly hangs on our faith.

They have a wrong view of man: He is a little god in God’s class who has the same powers as God and can use the same force of faith by obedience to the same laws that God also must obey.

They also have a wrong view of redemption and the cross of Christ.

There are many faithful believers who live modestly and will never have more than the basic necessities of life. Yet they are content to have what they have. The prosperity teachers ridicule such and say that they only have that little because they don’t trust God for more; the fact of their contentment (which is highly regarded by God) is looked upon as a lack of faith. And they are chastised because they haven’t got the faith to get more so they can give more. Ultimately, the giving is expected to go into the coffers of the prosperity teacher; they may give to others, but not apart from also giving to the prosperity teacher.

What does the Bible say about the prosperity gospel? Let me start with one of their foundation passages and show you the error of their twisted interpretation:

Deut. 8:18
18 “But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

The first question we must ask is this, to whom was this promise given? Was it given to all people of all time, or was it intended by God to be understood as a promise to a specific people for a specific time?

The answer is found in understanding the context of Deuteronomy 8:18. Let’s simply read it:

Deuteronomy 8:10-20
10 ¶ “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.
11 “Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today;
12 otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them,
13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies,
14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
15 “He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint.
16 “In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end.
17 “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’
18 “But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
19 “It shall come about if you ever forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish.
20 “Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the LORD your God.

This was God’s covenant with the Hebrew people. Christians live by the New Covenant. To take a verse out of context and apply it in the way the “word-faith” preachers apply it is to sin. The whole movement is built on a foundation of faulty biblical interpretation.

The prosperity gospels says, “use God,” whereas the truth of biblical New Testament Christianity is just the opposite, God uses the believer.

Prosperity theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power to 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.

In the first Century the Apostles warned about the prosperity gospel:

1 Timothy 6:3-12
3* If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,
4* he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions,
5* and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.
6* ¶ But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
7* For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
8* If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
9* 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.
10* 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.
11* But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.
12* Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Paul said covetousness is idolatry:

Eph. 5:3-17
3* ¶ But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;
4* and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
5* For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6* Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
7* Therefore do not be partakers with them;
8* for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light
9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),
10* trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
11* Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;
12* for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.
13* But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.
14* For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”
15* Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,
16* making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
17* So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

The truth, according the New Testament, is that success for those in Christ Jesus is measured spiritually! The first step a New Testament Christian must take in order to enjoy the success that comes from God is to separate oneself from the world:

Romans 12:1-2
12:1* ¶ Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
2* And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

You see what Paul is saying? You must go in the opposite direction of the money-motivated world and the money-motivated gospel of prosperity men.

James 4:4-6
4* You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
5* Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?
6* But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

It is the desire for worldly success which caused the man in the parable of the sower to fall away:

Matt. 13:22
22* “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

Far from stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it.

Elders who serve in the highest office in the church are warned:

1 Tim. 3:3
3* not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.

Heb. 13:5
5* Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,”
6* so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?”

1 Tim. 6:10
10* 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.

Luke 12:15
15* Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”

Matt. 6:19
19* ¶ “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;
21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matt. 6:24-31
24* “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
25* ¶ “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
26* “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
27* “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
28* “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin,
29* yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
30* “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
31* “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’
32* “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
33* “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34* “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Luke 18:22
22* When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
23* But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.
24* And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!
25* “For 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.”
26* They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?”
27 But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”

Rev. 3:14-19
14* ¶ “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
15* ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.
16* ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.
17* ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,
18* I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
19* ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

Look at just a few additional passages which they badly abuse.

Malachi 3:10
10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

What does this verse teach? A formula for material success?

Notice the context:

Mal. 3:7-10
7 ¶ “From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. “But you say, ‘How shall we return?’
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.
9 “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!
10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

Again we have a passage used out of context. This was a promise to the Hebrews.

One more:

John 14:14
14* “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

As always, the context is important:

John 14:12-14
12* ¶ “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.
13* “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14* “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

The “greater works” are spiritual works.

True success with God is spiritual success. It is the person who joyfully comes to understand that Christ’s sacrifice can be personally applied to cover one’s sins and then, confident in the knowledge that thereafter one is covered by the very grace of God (Romans 6:14; Romans 8:1-2), walking forward in sanctification as a Spirit-led true child of God! (Romans 4:7-8, 23-25).

We are promised trials and sufferings. Did you hear that? We are NOT promised health and wealth, we are promised trials and suffering if we sincerely follow Christ.

John 16:33
33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 5:3-4
3* And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;
4* and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;
5* and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 8:18
18* For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Philippians 1:29-30
29* For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
30* experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

2 Timothy 3:12
12* Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Hebrews 12:4-11
4* ¶ You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;
5* and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;
6* FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”
7* It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
8* But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
9* Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
10* For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
11* All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
12* Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,
13* and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

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