The prosperity gospel has one flaw: Jesus didn't preach it

The prosperity gospel has been around for ages, but many singles have latched onto it in the past few years.

Prosperity gospel is phony.

To summarize it, this name it and claim it theology asserts that we can become financially wealthy by praying the right kind of prayers and giving the right kind of gifts.

Predictably, people who preach the prosperity gospel usually espouse some sort of "seed money" or "faith offering." They tell you that if you give to their ministry, God will honor your faith and will bless you financially. It's a very sophisticated technique that implies that we can manipulate God.

Except that God will not allow himself to be manipulated.

Is God obligated to us?

Christianity is not a quid pro quo faith, that is, one thing in return for another. If it were, it would reduce God to the place of a workman, obligated to do some duty for us because we "paid" him with a donation.

That kind of thinking gets the new covenant exactly backwards. We are obligated to God, not the other way around.

Mankind is obligated to God because, through his graciousness, he provided salvation for us through the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ.

Once we get that truth clear in our minds, the prosperity gospel seems pretty silly.

Jesus: big bucks savior?

If monetary wealth were the most important thing in life, why did Jesus of Nazareth, the model human being, spend his life in poverty, without a home or much in the way of material possessions? If riches are the ultimate sign of God's favor, why wasn't Jesus decked out in gold jewelry and fine clothing?

The answer is obvious: money is not the ultimate thing our society makes it out to be. It comes in a far, far distant second to an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

If you're broke, you may want to argue that point. You may believe that if only you had a fortune, all your problems would be solved. More likely, you'd just be a rich person with a lot of problems.

What about God's favor and his promises?

Preachers who advocate the prosperity gospel talk a great deal about God's favor, and how he will shower goodness down on those who love and obey him.

Then how do we explain the holy person who is beset by one tragedy after another? Some hidden sin? No, that theory was mentioned by one of Job's friends and was soundly shot down.

If the theory is correct, how do we explain wicked people who prosper monetarily, such as drug dealers and con artists. Are their evil dealings receiving the favor of God?

"No, no," you might say, "you're distorting what the Bible says. The prosperity gospel has a solid scriptural foundation."

When Jesus was approached by a rich young ruler who asked what he must do to receive eternal life, Jesus didn't tell him he already had eternal life because he was rich. On the contrary, Jesus told the young man to sell all he had, give the money to the poor, and follow him (Jesus).

Nowhere in the New Testament do we read that Peter, the other apostles, or Paul were wealthy men. When Peter and John were confronted by a beggar at the temple, read what happened:

Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." (Acts 3:6)

Are poor people being cursed?

If the logic of the prosperity gospel were true, that is, God favors "good" people with riches, then we'd have to assume that poor people are not good in the sight of God because they're not prospering.

Someone preaching name it and claim it might say that poor people aren't bad, just ignorant of God's laws. They're quick to point out someone who sent them a donation and within weeks received many times that amount from some unexpected source. But how many people sent in donations and received nothing?

We singles are equally as susceptible to this pitch as married folks might be, and even moreso if we're in debt. Ministers who preach this line can be extremely convincing. They've polished their message over the years so it seems to make perfect sense.

Yet if Jesus was an example of how to live a good life in every way, how do they explain his lack of wealth?

What you can't leave behind

God is not the lottery. God is not Santa Claus. God cannot be bribed.

Let's grow up and read the Gospels for what they truly mean. The greatest wealth a person can possess is eternal life in heaven with Jesus Christ. We can't even donate our way to that--it's a free gift available to all who will accept it.

So put your credit card and checkbook away and get out your Bible. Stop looking for monetary riches through the phony prosperity gospel and appreciate the spiritual riches you already possess in Jesus. You can't get any wealthier than that.

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