Daily Devotional for Friday July 20, 2012
The Lie of the Prosperity Gospel
(Proverbs 13:7, 10:22; Hebrews 11:26; James 2:5)
***ASK BILL: Pastor Bill, as a Catholic I was raised to believe that there are three types of sin. Mortal sin (really bad) venial sin (not so bad) and original sin (Adam's sin that we cannot commit again because it was"original"). I interpret by your devotionals that sin is sin. Can you please explain, is this only in the Catholic teachings and why would they present a classification of sin?
ANSWER: GREAT QUESTION! Trust me, it is not just the Catholics who incorrectly teach that there are classifications of sin. Many Protestant churches erroneously teach this as well. That is why the Bible (sola scriptura) is our final authority in ALL matters, and not the teachings or traditions of man. Here is the bottom line, when you take the whole counsel of God into account, as you must to rightly divide the Word, it is clear that sin is like a bright line. You are either on one side of that line, obedience, or cross that line, rebellion/sin, REGARDLESS WHAT THE NAME OF THAT SIN IS! The fact is, murder is no greater or less a sin than gossip. Think about that the next time you engage in talking about people behind their back. Homosexuality is no greater or less a sin than gluttony. There are no degrees of sin. It is hard in our finite minds to understand how killing someone could be on the same par with stealing a candy bar. But in the eyes of God, you are either obeying Him, or rebelling against Him regardless what the rebellion is.
One of the most perverted messages to come out of the church in the last 50 years is the "prosperity gospel." This is the message that has turned God into a cosmic stock broker and teaches that if you will just have enough "faith" and give a ministry or church enough money, you will get back your gift PLUS a handsome return of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times the amount of your gift. One popular author and teacher of this perversion wrote a book about how to get this thirty, sixty, or hundredfold return. He received so many letters from people that bought the book, followed his principles, and never saw their "harvest," that he had to write a follow-up book to explain what in their life was blocking God's blessings.
This perverted message is seen mostly on Christian television during their telethons. Having been part of that world for many years in the early '90s, I have seen every trick in the book that has been used to manipulate the scriptures to induce people to give, with the understanding that they will get back many times what they gave. One of the saddest things I have ever witnessed, was on the largest Christian television network, a famous man of God telling people that if they will send in a gift of $2,000 they will be debt free. They even had a '"debt burning" ceremony! I have read the entire Bible cover to cover over 60 times. I have several theological degrees. I have still not found the passage of scripture that says if I give a ministry $2,000 that my debts will disappear.
Let me stop for a moment and say this. Can God work financial miracles in peoples lives? YES! Will God honor our faithfulness when we give to His work? YES! Can God bless us financially? ABSOLUTELY! I pray for people EVERY DAY here at Liveprayer in this area. In the miracle center on the www.liveprayer.com website, I actually have a special prayer message for those who need a financial miracle in their lives. Of the over 6 million praise reports that we have archived, I can assure you, over 1/4 are FINANCIAL MIRACLES. The Bible tells us that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. The Bible tells us that all the silver and gold belong to Him. All, 100% of what we have, comes from God and belongs to God. He is our source. He is our provider. God is still in the financial miracle business!!!
What I am talking about today is this perverted prosperity message that if we give God so much, we will get that back plus a nice monetary return on our "investment in God." God knows our heart, never forget that. God knows our motives; never forget that. When we give to God with an impure heart, or with impure motives, we have missed our opportunity to be blessed. God is not going to honor a gift that is given out of greed, or from a heart that is simply looking for a "return on investment." You don't give to God like you buy a stock, looking to double or triple your investment.
We give to God out of a grateful and thankful heart. We give to God as an act of worship and obedience. We give to God cheerfully, NOT to get anything back, but to show God how much we love Him. Again, ALL we have already belongs to God so we can't BUY God's blessings. God doesn't need our money; He is looking for our faithfulness. Giving to God is not something we should do for any other reason but to tell Him how much we love Him.
I love you and care about you so much. Let me share with you the REAL PROSPERITY MESSAGE. Our prosperity is not measured in how much money we have, but in our relationship with Jesus Christ! Some of the richest people in the world have NOTHING in the way of material possessions, yet, they are more prosperous than someone with a billion dollars in the bank who is without Christ in their life.
As for giving, while God can and does bless people financially as they are faithful and obedient, the majority of our blessings are NOT monetary. They come in the form of things that there is no price tag on. How much is good health worth? How much is a happy marriage worth? How much is a quality relationship with your children worth? There is an unlimited number of ways God can bless us in this life that is worth far more than money. As you are faithful in giving to God's work, God WILL bless you, but it may not always be in the form of a monetary blessing.
The REAL prosperity message has nothing to do with money. It is about having an intimate, vibrant, daily relationship with Jesus Christ. You can't buy that, you can't give a "love offering" to get that, it is something that we can only receive by our faith and God's grace. As the popular television commercial states, "It is priceless." THAT, my friend, is the real prosperity message.
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ,