BIBLE STUDY LESSON # 21...February, 28 , 2010
“The Prosperity Gospel – A Doctrine of Deceit"
Before I get into this week’s topic, I want to talk about something that has been going on in the Christian community and has manifested itself in our group.
Over the past few weeks we have encountered quite a few people on Facebook who were claiming to be Christians, yet were doing their best to tear down others and promote false doctrines. From the group’s inception, one of Tim’s purposes with this Bible study was to provide believers with sound Truth based on the Bible. There are so many preachers, teachers, and evangelists out there that are promoting doctrines that are deceitful and unbiblical and there is a persistent need for Biblical teaching. The false teachers will give you just enough truth to get you hooked and enough heresy to keep you hooked. What I mean by that is, by presenting a taste of the truth, they legitimize themselves; then they introduce their ungodly doctrines a little at a time mixed with bits of truth and by doing so draw people into their web of deceit. Once you are sold on what they are teaching, it is hard to let go because they are convinced that the false doctrines are true.
The Bible teaches us that False Teachers and False Prophets WILL be among us, so it is extremely important that we be thoroughly grounded in the Scriptures in order to discern what is being taught , know who the false teachers are, AND avoid them at all costs.
Romans 16:17 "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the Doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them".
I know for a fact that many of the people in our Bible study are followers of false teachers. I know this because I not only see references to their work posted all over the group, but also can see the influences of false doctrines all around us. I also believe that some people have become so indoctrinated by these teachings, that they will not be swayed. Those people need to be weeded from our midst or they will go about spreading their lies like a poison.
Every Christian ought to be a teacher of the Way of Jesus Christ. The Bible study was named after Matthew 28:19
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost".
Consequently, every Christian can potentially become a False Teacher if they become indoctrinated by the heretics that they follow on TV and in some churches. There is a spiritual gift of teaching that enables and equips certain individuals in the body of Christ to teach;
"And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers" (Ephesians 4:11);
False Doctrine spreads inside the Professed Church and to the unchurched without making a distinction as to whether it is being taught by a gifted teacher, or ordinary professing Christian. James warns us about hastily assuming the role of a teacher.
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. James 3:1 NKJV
By assuming the role of a teacher of the Word we are taking on a serious responsibility. Anytime someone repeats the words of a false teacher without testing them against the Bible, they become a false teacher themselves by association. We are warned throughout the Word of God to watch what we say and to control our tongues, and we should be even more careful when carrying the Word of God to others.
I challenge you once again, as we often do in the group, to take the messages you hear from ministers and teachers and put them to the Biblical test. If they don’t pass the truth test, then don’t go repeating them because you will bring judgement on yourself.
The Prosperity Gospel – A Doctrine of Deceit
The topic of money and prosperity is one that is talked about constantly and one that many people have bought into without a careful examination of scriptures. The prosperity gospel that is being taught by so many false teachers is a message of deceit and is completely unbiblical.
People listen to preachers speak about money and wealth, and accept it without ever questioning what they are saying. I believe the prosperity gospel is so willingly accepted because people simply want to believe it. It appeals to their wordly desires to have everything they want.
I want to show you exactly what the Bible says on the subject. Jesus talked about money more than he talked about heaven and hell combined. It is estimated that 15% of His teachings were about money and stewardship. In fact, there is such a wealth of information on the subject in the Bible, we should never have the need for sermon after sermon on the subject. Still preachers suppose themselves to be financial experts and teach one series of sermons after another on money and finance when they should be teaching salvation through Jesus Christ.
For the last 20 years or so, a doctrine of prosperity has been perpetrated throughout the Christian community. What started as the teaching of a few, has grown exponentially. An estimated 10,000,000 professing Christians have adapted a new gospel that is the exact opposite of Biblical teaching. In a recent poll conducted by Time Magazine, 17% of Christians surveyed said they considered themselves part of such a movement, while a full 61% believed that God wants people to be financially prosperous, and 31% agreed that if you give your money to God, God will bless you with more money.
A central point of the prosperity gospel is that God wills the financial prosperity of every Christian. If a believer lives in poverty, he or she is living outside God’s intended will. It imposes a measure of guilt on anyone who is not achieving wealth. This guilt can be easily overcome by planting a seed (giving money to) the ministry. This teaching is at best decidedly unbiblical and damaging to Christian faith, and at worst heresy.
Jesus’ teachings were always focused on the needs of the least among us. It is wrong to say that because you are poor somehow you must not be faithful or somehow not following God’s true path for your life.
Another lie that is taught in order to propagate the false doctrine is that Jesus was rich, He had the best clothes, had houses, and everyone was attracted to him. It is hard to teach people that Jesus would have us be rich when He wasn't. For that reason the greed mongers have tried to make Jesus out to be something he was not.
The Bible says this:
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Isaiah 53:2-3 (NKJV)
The scriptures present Jesus as average in appearance and prominence. Not only did He not attract from his outward appearance but His dress was not that of someone who drew attention. Isaiah describes Jesus as a man we wouldn’t recognize as important if we saw Him on the street. The fact that Judas had to identify him for the soldier who arrested Him shows us that he looked similar to the other regular Jewish men of his time. There was no outward attraction by appearance or status, and he did not dress in the finest clothes. None of his disciples followed Him because of any promise of earthly prosperity. To the contrary He was asking them to leave behind everything. He did not tell them to do something that He Himself did not do.
It is said that because he had a treasurer, he must have been rich. Let me ask you, doesn’t every girl scout troop have a treasurer? Does that mean that they are also wealthy? If they are wealthy then why do they continue to sell cookies in front of Walmart?
It is also said that because the soldiers gambled for His clothes at the cross, that He must have worn fine clothes. Two things about that: 1) They did not gamble because nothing was risked, and it was common to loot the prisoners of whatever they had. This doesn’t mean that Jesus had designer clothes. 2) The robe He wore was given to Him by Herod as a way to mock Him.
There is no end to the lies that they will spin or the many ways these so called ministers will twist the truth in order to support their own greed. Most of it is simply ridiculous, yet millions of people buy into it.
I believe that these false teaching's were born out of the greed of a few and have grown because of the greed of many. The desire to know the Truth has been overcome by the lust for money and possessions. Let’s not forget what sin is; it is the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. All three are manifested in greed and the desire for wealth.
One of the basic teachings of the apologists for greed is that God wants us all to be wealthy. It amazes me that preachers can teach this lie without one single scripture to back it up. When we think of richness we think of huge houses, expensive cars, luxurious vacations, and a large bank account. I ask you, what does God think about richness?
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;"but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6:20-21 (NKJV)
When speaking about earthly wealth and obtaining it, the Word says “DO NOT”! This is about as clear as it gets, yet we have Christians doing everything they can to claim all the earthly treasure that they put their hands on.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 1 Tim 6:9-11 (NKJV)
In first Timothy we are not only warned about the desire to be rich, but are told to “flee these things”. Whenever you turn on the TV and you hear a preacher telling you that you need to be rich, you need to turn it off immediately or you run the risk of being indoctrinated into these false teachings. As a result you can become by association one of the false teachers.
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:15 (NKJV)
So is Wealth a Sin?
Just because God does not want us to seek after wordly riches, this does not make being wealthy a sin, nor does it say that working hard to make a better life for your family is a sin. Certainly there are some lazy people in this world that would be better served if they worked a little harder and tried to achieve a little more. I believe that God blesses our efforts as long as we have Him in His proper place. Remember Solomon? He was the richest man to ever live, and God blessed him because he DID NOT seek wealth, but when asked what he desired of God, he asked for wisdom. God rewarded him by giving him both wisdom and wealth.
At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said,"Ask! What shall I give you?" And Solomon said: "You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. "Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. "And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted.
"Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" The speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing. Then God said to him: "Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, "behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you."And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. 1 Kings 3:6-13 (NKJV)
God rewards people who seek Him first, but nowhere in the Bible will you find God telling us to seek money and wealth. The sin comes when money is your pursuit and nothing else matters. Wealth is not a sin, but greed is a sin, plain and simple.
Biblical Teaching Regarding Seed-Faith
The concept of Seed Faith theology that the greed teachers peddle is also unbiblical.
There are no verses that tell us that if we “have a need, plant a seed” but there are Scripture passages that are twisted and taken out of context in order to pass this concept off as Biblical.
One passage that is commonly used:
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, "which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches. Matt 13:31-32 (NKJV)
Where is money mentioned in the context of this verse? The verse is teaching the outward growth of a Christian from a small seed to a huge tree. Jesus is talking about the kingdom of Heaven and not about money issues.
Another passage taken out of context:
Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Gal 6:6-10 (NKJV)
Once again, this has nothing to do with money. This verse calls us to “sow to the Spirit”. Christians are to “crucify the flesh” (Galatians 5:24-26) and live for Christ and “reap everlasting life” while “doing good to all”.
These verses do not say “Show me the money!”, but that is what the prosperity teachers would have you believe. And it is no coincidence that they always want you to plant your seed in their ministry.
God does bless our giving, but not necessarily financially. Some of the most sacrificial givers I know are those that have very little. God blesses them in many different ways. Studies have shown that poorer people give much more than rich people do. That is contrary to what the seed faith preachers would have you believe. Some look at God as an investment and the seed faith doctrine teaches that if we give to God, God will give us back with interest. God is not a bank where you can make a big return or a huge amount of money. Giving was never meant to be a money-making scheme, yet that is exactly what the prosperity gospel preachers are telling us.
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. I Corinthians 16:2 (KJV)
We are told to give according to what we have been given. Nowhere in the Bible will you find that you should give money to get more money.
Pursue Spiritual Things Not Material Things
We should pursue spiritual riches and God will take care of the rest. What kind of rich would you really rather be? The kind that will be destroyed and lost one day or the kind that will last for all eternity and is greater than we can ever begin to imagine?
"Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matt 6:32-34 (NKJV)
The key words here are "Do not worry".
Once again I am amazed at how a doctrine so contrary to God’s Word is being taught and accepted by so many people. The focus has drifted far away from our true purpose of reaching people for Jesus and has begun to look more like a pyramid scheme. Churches are starting to look more and more like Amway conventions and less and less like houses of Worship. We should be focusing on the condition of people’s souls, not the condition of their bank accounts.
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. 3 John 1:2 (NKJV)
I will close with one of the favorite verses of the prosperity teachers.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 (KJV)
The prosperity gospel is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ came to give us an abundant life, not a life of wealth. Turn off the false teachers and get into the Word of God and I guarantee that you will live a full and abundant life.
Let us pray:
Our Heavenly Father, I come before you today thanking you for all the blessings that you be given me. I pray that each one who reads this message will be blessed and every need in their life met according to Your riches. Help each one to recognize the Truth in your Word as being complete and without fault. I pray that I would always be a man of the Word and not a man of the World. In Jesus Name – Amen
If you don’t know Jesus as your personal savior, peace is only a prayer away. It’s as simple as humbling yourself, recognizing your sins, and asking for God’s forgiveness. By accepting Jesus as your savior, you are no longer bound by the things of this world, but receive a freedom that is eternal, and a life worth living.
By rejecting Christ, you are subjecting yourself to a life without meaning and an eternity in Hell. Please turn to Christ before it is too late.
If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, pray with me wherever you are. Pray with a sincere heart and God will reach down from heaven, forgive your sins and give you new life….Lets pray…
Father God, I come to you in the name of your son Jesus Christ. Thank you for sending Jesus to die in my place on the cross. I know I am not worthy, but I ask you today to forgive me of my sins (confess your sins to him now) and give me a new heart. I make Jesus the Lord of my life from this day and forward. Teach me how to love the God way, so I can love others. Teach me your Word and show me the purpose you have for my life. Thank you for forgiving me, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray…Amen
If you prayed that simple prayer with a sincere heart, your eternal destiny has been decided. God tells us that he takes that sin and casts it as far as the east is to the west. So forget the past and press on in your new walk with Christ. Remember that this is only the first step to Eternal Salvation. You now need to study God’s word, live your life for him and let your good works in Christ testify to the world of the new creature you have become. Now go shout your new found faith to the world as confession of Jesus Christ is part of your salvation.
Please go to our group page and leave your comments and thoughts. Click the discussion tab, find this lesson or any topic for that matter, then post your thoughts. I’d like to encourage each of you to get more involved in the group discussions…I would also like to once again encourage each of you to write out your testimonies and send them either to Tim's FB inbox or his email address... TBarrett8@carolina.rr.com
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