I realise that most of the prosperity preachers particularly in Africa who are giving “sugar coated pseudo prophecies” promising wealth and prosperity to those who seed and generously give, not only to the church, but directly into the men or women of God’s life are charlatans. Indeed, false prophets who are using the word of God to abuse and defraud the congregates of their hard-earned money.
Any discussion about error and truth must be undertaken with a sense of humility. There are certainly areas in which believers can disagree and should do so boldly and without fear. There are realities to which our eyes are blinded by ignorance and cultural biases. However, when error exists in plain contrast to Scripture. It is consistent with compassion to reveal that error graciously for the benefit of others (e.g., 1 Timothy 1:3–7).
Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit
I strongly believe these modern-day prophetic charlatans are counted among the type of prophets described in Ezekiel 13.
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit [i.e. not the Holy Spirit] and have seen nothing! (NIV)
Worse yet, many (and actually all that I have seen so far) who have been prophesying about seeing this person or that one becoming a millionaire. Seeing money and wealth going to that one and so forth. Are but all speaking and following their own spirit not the Holy spirit. It is my observation that these charlatans overly–spiritualise and dramatize their counsel to Christians about what they are to do about making the prophecy come to pass.
They actually put believers in harm’s way with regard to the promised economic boom. They trap them into seeding and paying extortionate seeds, to activate these false prophecies. For the charlatans this is an elaborate Ponzi scheme designed to financially enrich the fake prophets or pastors.
Like Ezekiel, I have great disdain for so-called prophetic charlatans that lead people to believe lies and promote unbiblical counsel.
These charlatans are also guilty of what the Lord shared in that passage of Ezekiel 13:
O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins and in waste places. You have not gone up into the gaps or breeches, nor built up the wall for the house of Israel that it might stand in the battle in the day of the Lord. They have seen falsehood and lying divination, saying, The Lord says; but the Lord has not sent them.
Yet they have hoped and made men to hope for the confirmation of their word. … Because, even because they have seduced My people, saying, Peace, when there is no peace, and because when one builds a [flimsy] wall, behold, [these prophets] daub it over with whitewash. Say to them who daub it with whitewash that it shall fall! There shall be a downpour of rain; and you, O great hailstones, shall fall, and a violent wind shall tear apart [the whitewashed, flimsy wall]. Behold, when the wall is fallen, will you not be asked, Where is the coating with which you [prophets] daubed it? (verses 4-6, 10-12 AMP)
Prosperity Gospel is Twisted
Some people in the modern day prophetic churches would argue there is nothing wrong with prophets and pastors who come up with innovative ways to gather and raise money from their flock. Well, that’s a view that they hold nonetheless, I passionately disagree with them on that one.
My position now with regards this prosperity gospel is that it is a twisted gospel simply put it is false.
The prosperity gospel as advocated for and promoted by these charlatans ignores the profound redemptive historical shift between the Old and New Testament from a “come see” religion to a mainly “go tell” religion. Here’s what I mean: In the Old Testament, the Queen of Sheba clearly was supposed to cross hundreds of miles and be mesmerised by the wealth of Solomon, and say, “You’ve got a great God.” That’s the pattern in the Old Testament. You don’t have in the New Testament anything like, “oh pastors should live in palaces, so that the Queen of Sheba could come and say, ‘Wow. I’d like to be a pastor, be able to live like that.’” You don’t have anything like that.
The Great Commission
Instead, all the focus goes onto the Great Commission, and Paul saying something like, “I don’t count my life of any value or as precious to myself if only I might complete the ministry that the Lord gave to me to preach the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). In other words, wartime simplicity to get the gospel to the unreached peoples of the world is the emphasis, rather than Christians having a lot of accumulated wealth.
Today the focus is on opulence and pompous braggadocio stories this Prophet and his latest jet that Prophet with his latest Lamborghini. The people in today’s world will hardly be like the mesmerised Queen Sheba who was wowed by Solomon’s wealth.
I will end by listing five key economic reasons why the prosperity gospel should be rejected.
1. The prosperity gospel undermines attempts to relieve poverty.
Individual conversion is a noble and necessary goal in Christian poverty alleviation efforts but arguing that simply believing harder will fix the problem ignores many possible systemic evils or the need for skills and resources. James 2:15–16 states,
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
In order for true poverty alleviation to occur, Christians must seek to eliminate social evils and empower the poor with the necessary resources as well as encourage personal faith.
2. The prosperity gospel can make the poor and sick feel guilty.
For adherents of the prosperity gospel whose businesses have failed or who have gotten tragically sick, the feeling of personal failure can be overwhelming. The reality is that God “makes the sun shine on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45, ESV) There should be no shame in poverty, because shame can become a barrier to human flourishing.
3. The prosperity gospel denies the relationship between work and wealth.
God’s design for humans was for them to work, even before the fall of Adam (Genesis 2:15). After the fall, God cursed the earth, making work harder for humans (Genesis 3:17–19). Even after Christ’s ascension to heaven, with the reconciliation of all things to God underway. (Colossians 1:19–20) God still intends for people to work for their sustenance and wealth creation. (2 Thessalonians 3:10–12)
4. The prosperity gospel misrepresents economic principles.
Although God is capable of miracles and owns the cattle on a thousand hills.(Psalm 50:10) This does not mean that the natural world, including the economics of the world, do not generally follow regular patterns. In fact, I would argue that the order of the marketplace is a reflection of God’s design for creation.
Even in the biblical accounts of the early church, where miracles seem to be quite common, there is still a sense that the provisions of food for thousands from a few loaves and fishes or the many healings were irregularities in the normal pattern of life. The expectation of miraculous provision, even for believers, seems to deny the extraordinary nature of miracles. God’s character is evidenced in the order of the created universe including economic principles.
5. The prosperity gospel prevents contentment.
Paul wrote of his own contentment even in harsh circumstances (Philippians 4:11–12). With the prosperity gospel, however, faith must be continually demonstrated by a new abundance of wealth from God. The health-and-wealth gospel teaches that more is always better; there can never be enough. The continual desire for more brings about a form of spiritual poverty (1 Timothy 6:6).
There are other reasons to reject the prosperity gospel on theological grounds. But the main point of this discussion is to demonstrate the differences between a biblical perspective on faith, work, and economics and the prosperity gospel.
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