The Prosperity Gospel... Right or Wrong?
The End Days are upon us, and as Satan has only a short time remaining, it appears he is using any means possible to lead us astray from that True Path of salvation that God has established.
God grants many things to us as believers, and sometimes it’s hard to determine why He allows us to suffer misfortune at one moment, and a blessing of wealth at another. It is one of those mysteries that, at times, seems impossible to comprehend. Yet as the story of Job reveals, God allows us to be tested by Satan (Job 2:1-7) for our worthiness and our steadfastness in wherever we might stand with a commitment of faith. Thus, when considering this testing, we have one of two choices. We can either place God first and praise Him wholeheartedly for anything and everything He has done in our life… OR, we can place money and prosperity first, asking for these things foremost, only then awarding credit to God as a secondary means of endearment.
It may seem hard to conceive, but God permits both. Why? Because He loves us and He allows each of us our own freedom of choice. Therefore, although God gives us Commandments to follow, He does not force them upon us unwillingly. Nor did He send Jesus to drive the Gospel of the Good News down the throats of those reluctant to listen. If we walk away, refusing to perceive, it is our decision. But we must remember, it is our own soul we are laying on the line here. For if we place worldly prosperity higher in value than the spiritual prosperity of God, it is by our choice and not by His… and upon this we will be judged.
If we are not careful, this entire aspect of free will and freedom of choice can become a stumbling stone of which is spoken of many times within Scripture (Prov. 3:23, 4:12; Isa. 8:14-15, 28:7, 59:10; Jer. 6:21, 18:15; Eze. 7:19; Mal. 2:8; 1Pet. 2:8; Rev. 2:14). And yes, this speaks of God's people who live within vanity and wealth, of which the Levites, Priests, and ministers are to warn us against (Rom. 14:13). Regardless of how sweet the temptation, worldly gold and silver cannot deliver us (Eze. 7:19), and instead can rob us of God's light, causing us to stumble into the jaws of darkness (John 11:10).
God has placed this stumbling stone before us to determine if we are paying attention to what HE has spoken, or if we are carelessly listening to anyone who speaks pleasing words solely for the purpose of tickling our ears (2Tim 4:3-4). Absent of God's Light it is impossible to see this stumbling stone and we can be blinded even though we believe we are searching for God's Truth. In essence, this Truth can only come from the source that created it… God.
Our Creator has given us a Book of Life containing approximately 800,000 words. Yes, it is quite large, but it is our duty to read and understand it. And though a minister can help guide us and place us on a path towards salvation, it is ultimately only God who can save us and teach us. This Truth in learning comes by way of an anointing that can only be achieved by searching the Truth of Scripture and opening our heart to His Holy Spirit (1John 2:27). If we fail to open our eyes to this Truth, or are too negligent to care, we can easily stumble on that Rock of salvation. And though we would wish to rather not believe it, even ministers can sometimes steer us down a path away from God's Truth.
The problem is, it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish what God implies as worldly riches and that which is spiritual. Even lifelong ministers may have difficulty understanding a particular verse, especially when the spiritual element is disguised within the physical. But that’s the reason for the need to search throughout Scripture as a whole. It is impossible to determine God’s definition of prosperity and riches by a single verse. And if one verse causes questionable doubt, then it’s necessary to pay attention to every single one.
1Timothy 6:17-18 is such the case. Here, it advises those who are worldly not to entertain lofty thoughts, nor of uncertain riches, but to construct themselves in the riches of God and of doing good works. Twice, the word riches is mentioned, and as is clearly evident by its usage, it is distinguishing the difference between the two perspectives--earthly and spiritual. Jesus also speaks to us about the danger of the love of worldly possessions and how it's impossible to serve two masters, for the things which are highly esteemed by man, are an abomination to God (Luke 16:9-15).
Another example is King Solomon who asked for wisdom from God and, in return, was also granted wealth. But this story does not end there and, once again, reveals the treachery of worldly desires. For as the story goes, even though Solomon grew in great wisdom and continued to know God and believe in His existence, he ultimately gained more pleasure from worldly desires and wealth than that of a true walk in faith.
The ultimate example, however, might be one of which we are all familiar… the account of Judas. Now I can already hear your disgruntled chants of unbelief on how a simple message of prosperity could ever be turned into an offense of selling out and becoming a traitor to Jesus. But this act maybe closer to our hearts than we could ever imagine.
Simply put, just as Judas, we may walk alongside Jesus as one of His disciples, hearing His words, while we listen to His teachings. We may even occasionally converse with Him, asking for guidance, wanting to know that perfect path of salvation. But unless we make a sincere effort of embedding God's Gospel of Truth within the depth of our heart, ultimately, we may never be prepared for the arrows of Satan that come along tempting us in the things of this world.
It's much too easy to point the finger of accusation at Judas while we, ourselves, swear we could never commit such an abhorrent crime. We claim we love God, and nothing could ever get in the way of our path leading towards Him. But if this were truly the case, why then would we be searching for the wealth of worldly security when instead we should be searching for the security of a relationship with God and the spiritual? And with searching for a blessing of prosperity, aren't we (just as Judas), desiring financial freedom by the hand of God and setting a price for walking in faith? And exactly what is that limit of wealth that we are searching for, and at what point do we draw the line between enough and too much? And if we, just as Judas, place worldly desires of prosperity over and above that which is spiritual or godly, aren't we then, too, selling out Jesus and crucifying God's real message while we rewrite the Gospel of the Good News to our own liking?
Bottom Line? We are all given the choice to believe in the manner of which we choose. God has granted us this right from the Beginning. And man, regardless of faith, is to honor this decision and refrain from judging others (Romans 14:13), while at the same time, search for the Light of God's Love from within (1John 2:10). But God's Truth is not revealed in some Sunday morning message that deviates from the teachings of Jesus just because someone has the authority to wield a Bible. God's Truth is revealed in Christ who has given us God's Word and who dwells within our heart. That inner sanctuary should remind us to search for the wealth of God, and not the god of wealth. And unless Jesus had mentioned the words "Prosperity Gospel" within His teachings (which, by the way, He did NOT), it may be best to avoid a message of how to build up and save one's bank account, and instead, reach for a sincere message founded upon the teachings of Jesus and the salvation of one's soul.
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