I could not help but embrace some hard hitting gospel truths that were shared in a comedy sketch by one of my favourite comedians John Oliver on HBO.
The comedy sketch in which John Oliver ridicules the prosperity gospel preachers is packed with some eye opening home truths. These truths lay-bare this false doctrine which has sadly been embraced by thousands who hope to wake up rich. They are told to seed into the lives of these modern day charlatans masquerading as prophets and pastors.
Many deceived Christians who have fallen prey to these charlatans have been made to believe that this false doctrine of prosperity works. You can beat poverty and lack if you believe and claim prosperity.
You just need to BELIEVE harder. Name it and claim it.
Sadly, overcoming poverty is a little more complex than that – as anyone who has actually experienced poverty will tell you. And that’s why the Prosperity Gospel is a particularly vicious lie for the poor, who are led to blame THEMSELVES when the riches never flow.
The Prosperity Gospel is not good news. It’s a lie. It’s a false promise for those who are most desperate and vulnerable – the sick, the poor, the downtrodden. And it’s an evil temptation for everyone else.
Sadly for the larger part of the ever growing hoodwinked followers of this false doctrines particularly in Africa and to a larger extant the poverty stricken Christians in the world. Prosperity Gospel has snack into their households and made itself at home in their humble lodgings.
Brainwashed by charlatans
You don’t have to be a devotee of charlatans such as Uebert Angel or Bushiri to be sucked in by this insidious teaching. We’re all susceptible to these subtle lies. But the Gospel I see Jesus preaching is Good News for the poor. Not false promises or pie in the sky – or theology that only makes sense for those brainwashed by charlatans.
The beautiful Good News of Jesus’ upside-down Kingdom is so vast and incredible, that it makes the pathetic promises of the Prosperity Gospel pale in comparison.
What is the prosperity gospel?
The prosperity gospel is a perversion of the gospel of Jesus that claims that God rewards increases in faith with increases in health and/or wealth. As Stephen Hunt explains,
In the forefront is the doctrine of the assurance of “divine” physical health and prosperity through faith. In short, this means that “health and wealth” are the automatic divine right of all Bible-believing Christians and may be procreated by faith as part of the package of salvation, since the Atonement of Christ includes not just the removal of sin, but also the removal of sickness and poverty. What makes the prosperity gospel a false gospel? David W. Jones outlines five errors of prosperity gospel teaching:
1. The Abrahamic covenant is a means to material entitlement.
2. Jesus’s atonement extends to the “sin” of material poverty.
3. Christians give in order to gain material compensation from God.
4. Faith is a self-generated spiritual force that leads to prosperity.
5. Prayer is a tool to force God to grant prosperity.
Prosperity gospel is fundamentally flawed
“In light of Scripture, the prosperity gospel is fundamentally flawed,” Jones says. “At bottom, it is a false gospel because of its faulty view of the relationship between God and man. Simply put, if the prosperity gospel is true, grace is obsolete, God is irrelevant, and man is the measure of all things. Whether they’re talking about the Abrahamic covenant, the atonement, giving, faith, or prayer, prosperity teachers turn the relationship between God and man into a quid pro quo transaction.”
In the prosperity gospel the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite—God uses the believer. Prosperity theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be 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. The prosperity gospel movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that infiltrated the early church. Paul and the other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated such heresy. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them.
Beware of such
Paul warned Timothy about such men in 1 Timothy 6:5, 9-11. These men of “corrupt mind” supposed godliness was a means of gain and their desire for riches was a trap that brought them “into ruin and destruction” (v. 9). The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians and one which God warns about. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (v. 10).
If riches were a reasonable goal for the godly, Jesus would have pursued it. But He did not, preferring instead to have no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20) and teaching His disciples to do the same. But today we have the likes of Uebert and his sidekick Bushiri milking congregates of money with a promise that the more they seed the bigger their harvest will be.
Covetousness is idolatry
Paul said covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5). He instructed the Ephesians to avoid anyone who brought a message of immorality or covetousness (Ephesians 5:6-7). 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 Prosperity doctrine, is not submissive trust in God; faith is a formula by which we manipulate the spiritual laws that prosperity teachers believe govern the universe. Sunday in and Sunday out. The followers of these charlatans or made to scream confessions of wealth. They celebrate and cheer I receive as these charlatans declare promises of prosperity to them. These charlatans teach that faith is a matter of what we say more than whom we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts.
A favourite term in these charlatan led churches is “positive confession”. This refers to the teaching that words themselves have creative power. What you say, these prosperity teachers claim, determines everything that happens to you. Your confessions, especially the favours you demand of God, must all be stated positively and without wavering. Then God is required to answer (as though man could require anything of God!).
Thus, God’s ability to bless us supposedly hangs on our faith. James 4:13-16 clearly contradicts this teaching: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”. Far from speaking things into existence in the future, we do not even know what tomorrow will bring or even whether we will be alive.
Instead of stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it. Believers, especially leaders in the church (1 Timothy 3:3), are to be free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). The love of money leads to all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In sharp contrast to the prosperity doctrine emphasis on gaining money and possessions. In this life, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.”
Article Written By Brilliant Pongo
Brilliant Pongo is a Christian author and motivational speaker. He has written a number of books on several Christian topics click here for more
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