Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Prosperity Gospel: A Doctrine of Devils

The Christians should always be healthy, the Christian should always be financially well off, and the Christian should be popular and prosper in all that he does. These are the beliefs held by many people today, and particularly by those within the Word of Faith movement. We are told that it is always God's will for a Christian to be healthy, and if they are sick it is because they have not enough faith. Likewise God desires us to be financially well off and to prosper in everything that we do, as expressed by Joel Osteen who said that 'You were born to win. You were born for greatness. You were created to be a champion in life.' Yet is this truly what the Word of God teaches? Is it true that a Christian should always be healthy and if they are not prospering in life it is because of a lack of faith? Is a child of God supposed to focus on health, wealth and prosperity in this life, and is the message of preachers such as Joel Osteen and Creflo Dollar really in accordance with the Word of God? 1st Timothy 4:1 says that 'in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils'. It is my belief that rather than being biblical in origin, the prosperity gospel has its true origins in hell, and is that which is described in 1st Timothy; a doctrine of devils. The notion of 'your best life now' was accurately derided by John MacArthur when he said that the only way this is your best life is if you are going to hell.

Sadly the view that they Christian should always be healthy, wealthy and prosperous, and the resulting overemphasis on material concerns is becoming more and more prevalent in the church today. Whilst it is very common amongst Charismatics, aided by the Charismatic focus on divine healing, it is also becoming more accepted by those who have been brought up in more reformed, evangelical churches. This is a matter of great concern, for the truth is that the prosperity gospel will prosper no-one as it offers a Jesus more akin to the genie in Aladdin's lamp, one who simply exists to fulfil our carnal desires. The truth is that it would be better described as the non-prosperity gospel, for what good will it be to the man who in this life has health and wealth and who prospers in all that he does, if he be cast into hell at the end of his days. 1st Timothy 6:10 says that 'the love of money is the root of all evil' yet the prosperity gospel helps to feed that love, and is leading many along the broad road which leads to destruction. It is nor the sake of eternal souls that we should give warning against such teachings and seek to promote the true gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Satanic origin of the Prosperity Gospel
It is possible for us to find the prosperity gospel by turning to Scripture, however in doing so we must turn, not to the words of Christ, but rather to the words of Satan. In the accounts which we have of Christ being tempted in the wilderness we find that Satan offers to the Lord the exact same things which are promised by the proponents of the prosperity gospel today. In Luke chapter 4 we read that when Christ was hungry Satan came to tempt him and said 'If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread'. Here was the first offer of the prosperity gospel, that if the Lord were to exercise enough faith then he need not be hungry i.e. he should be healthy. The devil then came to tempt Christ the second time, offering him the kingdoms of the world with the power and glory that came with it. This was the offer of wealth that is so prominent in the prosperity gospel. Finally Satan offered the prize of prosperity, if Christ were to throw himself off the temple then the angels would bear Him up, and surely in sight of such a miracle he would be accepted by the people.

That which was offered by the devil to Christ in the wilderness is no different to the message of the prosperity preachers today. The reason for their and the devil's success is that they offer that which the natural man desires. As an unenlightened sinner man does not desire salvation, yet the Spirit of God does not need to work in the heart of a man for him to desire health, wealth and prosperity. It is for this reason that people such as Joel Osteen 'minister' to 40,000 people every week, for they give them the message they want to hear. Paul Washer has described men such as Joel Osteen as the judgment of God upon those who follow him, for as they have desired the things of the world under the guise of religion, and so God has 'gave them up unto their own heart's lust'. Satan was successful in his temptation of Adam and Eve by offering them that which was appealing to the man's carnal nature and so the prosperity gospel is successful because it likewise appeals not to man's spiritual nature, but instead to his carnal nature. Satan always offers the fulfilment of all your dreams and desires, (something once called temptation, but now dressed up as God's will for your life) and so too does the prosperity gospel. It is truly a doctrine of devils.

The Forgotten Doctrine of the Word of Faith Movement
Why should a Christian never be sick? Why should a Christian always be rich? Some will simply state that it is not God's will for a Christian to be anything other than healthy without really giving any foundation for that belief beyond quoting a couple of verses out of context. Yet the true basis for the prosperity gospel's insistence on health and wealth as the sign of God's blessing is found in what we could describe as its 'forgotten doctrine'. Although it is rarely mentioned now it is the principal basis for this belief. The doctrine we are thinking of is known as the 'little gods' doctrine. People such as Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn have all articulated the position that we are 'little gods' but one of the most blatant examples can be found in the words of Creflo Dollar (who also denied that Christ came as God, but that he only became God at his baptism). In 'explaining' the creation of man Creflo Dollar stated 'I am going to say to you right now you are gods, little "g", you are gods because you came from God and you are gods. You are not just human. The only human part about you is this physical body that you live in.' If such a phrase seem familiar to those who have read the account of the Fall, it is because it is the same lie which Satan peddled to Adam and Eve, The devils bait in the Garden of Eden was that by eating the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve would 'be as gods'.

It is because of the view that we are all 'little gods' that the prosperity preachers and Word of Faith movement are so insistent on health, wealth and prosperity in the life of a Christian. A god cannot get sick, therefore since we are gods we must always be healthy. A god cannot be poor and so likewise it is right that we will prosper financially. It is this doctrine which provides the foundation for the view that we our words are containers of faith and that we can speak things (such as good health and financial prosperity) into existence. Joel Osteen's claim that 'there is a miracle in your mouth' is contradicted by the prophet Isaiah who said 'I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips'. Between the prophet Isaiah and Joel Osteen only the foolish will chose the words of the latter.

A lack of comfort in the prosperity gospel
Who would desire the company of Job's comforters when they come into trials? Job had lost all that he had; his livestock, his family and his own health but when Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar came to visit him they did not bring comfort or encouragement but rather made his situation worse. Such was their lack of help to Job that he cried in chapter 16 verse 2 'miserable comforters are ye all'. This is the sort of help which comes from those who cling to the prosperity gospel. If a Christian only needs to exercise faith in order to have good heath, then their illness must be the result of a lack of faith. What encouragement will it be to someone suffering from cancer if they are told that they can obtain good health for themselves if only they have enough faith. Not only must they endure the physical sufferings with which they have been afflicted but they must also put up with the additional torment that their ill health is caused by a lack of faith. For those who claim that a Christian should always be healthy we say 'miserable comforters are ye all'. If a Christian were to find that his business has gone bankrupt, is he to take it as a sign that he has not exercised enough faith that God will prosper him and that he is outside God's will for his life? Again we say 'miserable comforters are ye all'.

It is true that very few would publicly make such blatant statements to those who find themselves in financial distress or ill health, yet it is the logical conclusion that results from the teachings of the prosperity gospel. If health, wealth and prosperity is always God's plan for a Christian and we only need to exercise faith to have it, then what can illness and poverty result from except a lack of faith. The truth is that all such teaching is of the devil and can only draw people away from the true message of the gospel by encouraging the desire for worldly gain. The idea that health and wealth is the result of faith will discourage those saints who are going through trials and is not a truth from heaven, but rather a deceit from the pit.

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