There are lots and lots of people out there today who absolutely eat up the message of “The Gospel of Prosperity” – health and wealth preaching. With the popularity of TV evangelists – like Joel Osteen for example – there is in turn this idea that is growing in popularity that people have a right to and should expect good health and material possessions. It’s an idea that is becoming really popular because it sounds so easy, and for many people, health and wealth are the key to happiness!
When you tell someone that all they have to do is believe in God, or say a short prayer, or give a little bit of money, and then everything they could ever want on this earth will just be given to them because that’s their right – well, I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty cool!
There’s lots of churches like this popping up all over the place. Those same churches that we talked a little bit about in the Buffet Christianity topic a while back, who pride themselves in offering something for everyone. Many times, these are the same places who try to push this idea that you should expect God to grant miracles to heal you or give you great worldly possessions simply because you believe!
Today what we’re going to do is look at what these health and wealth preachers are telling people, and compare that with what we really find in the Bible.
Again, I’m not here to call anyone out specifically, so I’m not going to name anyone or any group specifically. I don’t like to stir up trouble with anyone, since as a Christian my goal is only to point out error so that I can try to help people. What I would like to do is present the teachings of the Bible so that anyone who comes here and reads this can take a loot at themselves and their Christian lives and see if they are doing what the Bible says.
So the first part of health and wealth, obviously, is health. There are magazines out there that request that you remove whatever sins you have in your life, then you can “plant a seed” (a.k.a. send in some money), and that you can expect a miracle to happen to restore you back to good health. But here’s the kicker – if you don’t get your health restored to you, then you’ve still got sin in your life and you need to start over! Some churches offer to anoint you with oil and you will be blessed and healed by God’s divine power – which would be considered a miracle.
But do we ever see these doctrines taught in the Bible? Does God promise that He will heal us and to expect miracles?
We do have some examples in the scriptures of faithful servants who were sick. In Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, he mentions that he left Trophimus in Miletus while he was sick.
2 Timothy 4:20
Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick.
Why didn’t Paul just take some money from him and tell him to believe that a miracle would happen? Or just tell him to repent of whatever sin he had so he could be healed?
In Philippians 2:25-27, Paul mentions Epaphroditus, a brother and fellow worker, who was sick almost to death!
25 Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; 26 since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. 27 For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
Couldn’t Paul have just casted some miracle and healed him right up? Or couldn’t Epaphroditus just repent of his sins and expect God to heal him?
Side bar – there is a reason that we don’t see miraculous healing in today’s time – it’s because we don’t need miracles. Miracles during the New Testament were to bear witness to the teaching that was going on that time.
Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
We don’t need miracles to do this anymore because we have the full written and revealed Word of God to convince people to believe and to be saved. We have the eye witnessed to Jesus and the writers of the books of the New Testament in our hands – we don’t need miracles to prove what it says!
1 Corinthians 13:8-10
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
The prophecies and miracles that were happening during the New Testament have ceased, because that which is perfect (G5046 – Greek word for “complete”) has come – the Bible! But let’s get back on topic before we go too far down that rabbit hole…
We are not promised to always have good health while trusting in the Lord. On the contrary, we are shown that we will suffer many trials and tribulations while on this earth – including sickness. Even Jesus warns us of this in John chapter 16, but facing and overcoming these tribulations is something we must do to enter into the kingdom of God. Even if we are subject to disease and death in this world, we can find peace in the fact that Jesus will come to reward us with eternal life should we live faithfully.
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
2 Timothy 3:10-12
10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
Let’s now take a look at wealth. Similarly to the false teachings on health, there are groups out there who tell people that if they send in some money, that you can in turn expect to receive miracles in forms of monetary and material possessions. They literally tell people that God will make them rich! You can have cash, clothes, cars, houses, you name it – all you have to do is send us your money! But that if you don’t send in any money, you’re unfaithful to God and you won’t be receiving any of these blessings. But what does the Bible actually say about this?
Again, we see plenty of examples of people who lived in poverty, but still had everything they could possibly desire. You need to look no further than Luke chapter 16, starting around verse 19. I won’t put the whole passage here, but I’m sure we’re all familiar with the Rich Man and Lazarus. The Rich Man has everything in this world – a big house, a nice family, nice clothes, and all the food he could eat! Lazarus, on the other hand, had nothing. He was homeless, diseased, and barely had scraps to eat. So obviously the Rich Man was a just and righteous man, and Lazarus was clearly a sinner!
Turns out the Rich Man ended up being torment and burnt up in the afterlife, while Lazarus found refuge in Abraham’s bosom.
Or what about Jesus? In Matthew 8:20, Jesus has this to say:
20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
Well, I guess that means Jesus was homeless, which I guess means He didn’t send enough money in to the church to be blessed by God. Clearly that’s not the case.
It’s a bit ridiculous to think that we should be aiming to have great wealth and success in this life. We are told over and over again in the scriptures that we shouldn’t be of the world, that we should look to Heaven for our treasures, and that we should forsake our possessions to follow Jesus.
1 John 2:15
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
23 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
27 Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
28 So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.
Clearly we have to keep ourselves employed so that we can provide for ourselves and for our families, but we shouldn’t be seeking after riches and glory in such an unrighteous and perverted way!
So what does the Bible promise us, if not health and wealth? The answer is simple – salvation and eternal life. Not worldly blessings, but spiritual blessings. The Gospel isn’t the power unto health and wealth, Romans 1:16 says this:
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to SALVATION for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Thank you for reading today! Hopefully you can take this lesson and apply it to your lives if you find yourself looking to God for money or good health – we all do it from time to time, but it’s important not to put your faith in this kind of teaching and expect God to heal us or give us great wealth! If you have any thoughts, I always invite people to leave a comment or message me directly!