Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
To Be Very Honest
“But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Timothy 6:11-12a). In August of this year, the Southwest Believers’ Convention assembled in Forth Worth, Texas. The meeting was hosted by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and included an “all-star” lineup of various prosperity gospel preachers. Prosperity theology, also known as the word of faith movement, is a belief system that teaches that God provides material prosperity for those He favors. It is often used by its promoters to elicit donations, as was the case with the Southwest Believers’ Convention. It is not unusual for prosperity preachers to own large houses, expensive cars, airplanes, jewelry, boats, and a whole lot of other stuff. In fact, the whole system revolves around material possessions and good health. One thing you will never hear from a prosperity gospel preacher is the true Gospel of Jesus Christ—why Jesus came and what one must do to be saved.
The prosperity gospel is nothing new. Paul confronted it head-on in his first letter to Timothy: “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Tim. 6:9-10). Notice the Bible doesn’t condemn money. Money isn’t the problem. The problem is one of the heart—“those who want to get rich.” In other words, the desire for material wealth is far more dangerous than the wealth itself. Furthermore, the notion that God provides material prosperity for those He favors is deceptively deadly. It is deadly because having material wealth and good health doesn’t necessarily imply God’s favor. The opposite is also true. Being poor doesn’t necessarily imply godliness. There are numerous examples in the Bible of godly men who were unbelievably rich—Abraham, David, and Solomon. There are just as many, if not more, godly men who were materially poor—Lazarus from Jesus’ story about the rich man and Lazarus, as well as most of the disciples.
The true Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of suffering. In fact, Jesus bids us to leave all that we have and come follow Him (Mark 10:21). It is a call to a sold out faith and obedience to Christ. This is why Paul says to “flee” from the desire for riches and material possessions. Instead, we are to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” He describes this as “the good fight of faith,” and “[taking] hold of the eternal life to which you were called.” I recently witnessed this kind of faith and obedience firsthand. Allow me to introduce you to Brother Herman. Bro. Herman and his wife are from Europe. Following God’s call to missions nearly twenty years ago, they literally left all that they had—good jobs, good retirement, even medical and life insurance—and came to another land to establish Siloam, a home for orphaned, abandoned and terminally ill children. He seeks to provide a home for any needy child, no questions asked. And the amazing thing is he does it entirely on faith. He never asks anyone for anything other than prayer. When asked what donations he might need, he refuses to ask for a single item. Instead, he humbly asks, “If you have the time, pray for us—the most important gift you can give us is prayer.” There is no hint of prosperity theology here. Meeting Bro. Herman absolutely transformed my life. This guy oozes Jesus! He is fighting “the good fight of faith.” Nearly every testimony he shares about God’s faithfulness and provision is prefaced by the words, “To be very honest…” His simple faith in God is contagious.
The prosperity preachers are liars, cheats, and frauds who misuse God’s Word because they think it is an avenue to riches. When the Gospel is presented in this way, it makes followers who are completely unprepared for tough times and have no idea what true Christianity is. To be very honest, we need to see Christians who are more concerned with what glorifies God than with what benefits me. So which Gospel do you choose to believe—the one that promises health, wealth and prosperity and ends in hell or the one that requires faith, promises suffering, but ends in heaven with Christ and joys immeasurable?
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