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The dangers of the prosperity gospel

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The doctrine of the prosperity gospel states that material wealth and possessions are the right of every Christian. It states that if correct spiritual practices are followed, those who profess Christ are guaranteed prosperity in this life. However, it is Jesus who tells us that “you cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

One would have expected that the word “devil” would have been used by Christ instead of the word “money,” but He knew that devil-worship cannot be as appealing as worshipping God. When it comes to money, that’s a different story. In the same verse, Jesus gave us two choices: to love God and hate money, or hate God and love money. The enemy cleverly introduced the worship of money into our churches through the concept of the prosperity gospel.

The prosperity gospel promotes idolatry. Through the messages preached in some churches, money has become the object of worship with God being nothing more than a means to an end. The reason why some people identify as Christians today is that they were told that coming to Jesus would make them rich.

In some African churches, pastors instruct worshipers to tithe with the scope of receiving returns on their money in the future. Many people who went to church in search of riches, returned home poorer because they have been shortchanged. In return, they receive unrealistic prophetic words which most often never come to pass. The result is that these people end up being angry with God Himself. Many of them have abandoned their faith altogether. This is not healthy for the Christian Church!

This ideology distracts Christians from the cross and focuses their attention on money and wealth. It negates the doctrine of Christian suffering that is the gateway to the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). It makes believers concentrate all their physical and spiritual strength in search for wealth and comfort. It diminishes the value of eternity and the soon-coming Kingdom and makes people believe that the things of this world should be prioritized.

Moreover, this teaching distracts us from the glories of Heaven. It says that when Christians give generously, God will compensate them here on earth. But Christ promised us rewards when He returns. “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:13-14).

Christ’s teaching on heavenly treasures stands in stark contrast to all of this: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Mathew 6:19-20).

The law of positive confession of the prosperity gospel places the will of man above the will of God. Believers are encouraged to demand whatever they want from God, and God is obligated to deliver, if these requested are made in faith. This completely ignored the fact that the will of God is superior to the will of man and always prevails — no matter the volume and the length of positive confessions.

Jesus asked for the will of the Father to be done in His life even when He knew that His Father’s will was not what His flesh wanted at that particular point in time (Luke 22:42). Why didn't Christ confess positively so that the cup be taken from Him by the Father? He knew that God’s will cannot be subservient to man’s will.

Many of the prosperity gospel advocates are selfish and lack compassion for others. They believe that the poverty of the poor is attributed to their inability to follow the formula of the law of tithing, sowing and reaping.

According to Gordon Fee, a foremost expert on textual criticism of the New Testament: “Prosperity gospel is an insidious disease which has little of the character of the Gospel in it.” I agree. And the only way to immunize the Church from the disease according to Fee is with a good healthy dose of biblical theology.

The central message of the Gospel is Christ and Him crucified. The apostles never preached prosperity. This teaching is exploitative, manipulative, and fundamentally wicked.  This is no Gospel at all and should be discarded by every heavenly bound believer in the Church.

Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. His calling is to take the gospel to where no one has neither preached nor heard about Jesus. He is the author of the book Mystery Of The Cross Revealed.  

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