SherylH, you are very welcome. Glad you were encouraged.
Chas351, in love I am posting part of a lenthy article written by my friend and brother in Christ Josef Urban. To read the complete article click on this link:
THE ORIGIN OF THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL
So if the Word of God doesn’t teach the modern message of financial prosperity and abundant living in ease, then where did this message come from? Well, we could say that it has two origins: One is supernatural; the other is natural.
The supernatural origin of the doctrines of financial prosperity comes from the depths of Hell. It is a “doctrine of demons”, sent to deceive the people of God in order to draw their hearts away from absolute devotion to the Lord alone and to get them to set their affections on the things of the earth, to stifle their spirituality and get them to prostitute themselves with idols of greed. It is designed by the hoards of Hell to be a stumbling block and cause of reproach in the Church because when many of the unsaved see preachers promoting prosperity doctrines and ideas of earthly abundance it causes them to turn away from the Church and even blaspheme the way of truth (2 Pet. 2:1-2). It is designed to plant seeds of covetousness in the hearts of people who are seeking God, and through covetousness damn their souls, since no covetous person will inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). And it is the perfect trick for Satan’s hoards, because it’s so deceptive and subtle. The sin of covetousness can be hidden deep within someone’s heart, even if they’re not physically rich in this world. And somebody can be given over to covetousness without even consciously realizing it, trying to serve both God and Mammon at the same time, and yet abiding under the wrath of God all the while they are claiming to love Him. And thus the supernatural origin of these doctrines is exposed and we must all take heed not to be “ignorant of Satan’s devises” (2 Cor. 2:11).
The natural origin of the doctrines of financial prosperity originated in the middle of the 1900’s. Their major origin can be attributed to a very famous preacher named Kenneth Hagin (Founder of the Rhema Bible Institute which still promotes these doctrines to this day). He was the first to popularize the doctrine and was the major cause of it’s spread around the world since he was in such an influential position among much of the Charismatic church. He claimed special revelation from God on this subject, and many other subjects as well; even saying such heretical things such as that Jesus suffered in Hell and was tortured by the Devil in Hell. Kenneth Hagin was a “spiritual father” to other famous preachers who would go on to have some of the largest TV ministries in the world. He taught these famous preachers the prosperity doctrines, and they in turn would go in front of massive audiences and on television spreading the idea that God wants us to be financially prosperous and rich.
These preachers are still on Christian TV promoting these doctrines and much of the world looks up to these famous preachers because they have large and supposedly “successful” ministries. Now, wherever there are satellites beaming Christian TV into the homes of Christians and Pastors, you can almost assume that there will be somebody believing the prosperity doctrines. Through the means of these highly influential preachers and international broadcasting on the TV, these false doctrines have spread all over the world and infiltrated much of the church. In areas of the world where there is no Christian programming on the TV, it is interesting to note that you won’t find any Christians who believe in the prosperity doctrines, which goes to show that those who believe it get it from the TV and from these apostate preachers and not from the Word of God.
It is interesting to note that before the initial main proponent of these teachings, Kenneth Hagin, passed away, he openly repented from promoting the prosperity doctrines in the way that he did. He went on to write a book in his last days that openly acknowledged his error in promoting financial prosperity to the degree that he did, and he sent copies to the preachers that he mentored that were promoting it on TV, telling them that he was wrong and that they have taken his message to the extreme and have fallen into the traps of greed and covetousness and need to stop. Unfortunately, they didn’t listen, and are still on TV promoting such false doctrines. Beware of the “Christian” TV channels –they are the largest promoter of false doctrine on the face of the earth, and there’s so much false teaching and talk about money and being financially prosperous that it’s best not to even watch them.
We also need to recognize that the doctrines of financial prosperity weren’t believed in or invented or promoted in the Church until the 20th Century. This means that there is nearly 2,000 years of Christian history where this doctrine is completely absent! For almost 2,000 years, there were many men of God and preachers and teachers in the Church who wrote extensive commentaries and preached countless thousands of sermons, yet there is not a single trace of them believing or ever mentioning such doctrines. They didn’t exist in the Church. And we can safely say that if a doctrine or practice wasn’t found anywhere in the Church for 2,000 years, then it is some “new thing” and must therefore be false, because there will be no “new thing” in the Church since the canon of Scripture is completed and the Book of God is a sealed book. All doctrine is already established in the completed Word (2 Thes. 2:15, Rev. 22:18-19). There will be continual revelations and prophecies in the Church as related to temporal things (such as a word about the will of God for a specific individual, a warning in a vision or dream, supernatural insight into divine mysteries as is confirmed by the Word such as how certain end-time events will specifically occur, etc.) but the doctrines of Scripture are complete and entire and there will never be anything added to them or taken away. If the doctrine can’t be found in 2,000 years of Christian history, then it must be false.
Furthermore, there are volumes and volumes of writings from leaders in the early Church from the 2nd and 3rd Centuries. These were pastors and preachers from the primitive Church who were overseers during the times immediately following what is recorded in the New Testament (their writings can be found in the “Ante-Nicene Fathers” volumes). These early Church leaders actually speak quite a bit about financial prosperity, but never in a favorable way. They spoke of financial abundance in the life of a Christian not so much as a blessing, but as a snare. They saw it as more of a snare than a blessing because those who have an abundance of finances and material worth in this world find themselves in many more temptations to love the world and to live in selfish pleasure than people who don’t have so much. Those that are such find themselves in many temptations to hoard up treasure on earth for themselves, to keep their things for themselves, to live an easy and selfish lifestyle, and they find it harder to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus down the narrow way of adversity because there is such a constant temptation in their face to enjoy their things rather than to renounce their things such as Jesus commanded (Luk. 14:33) and enjoy God supremely instead.
TRUE PROSPERITY IS NOT OF THIS EARTH
While the New Covenant of our Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t promise earthly prosperity and financial abundance to everyone who is saved, it does promise heavenly prosperity and spiritual abundance to every believer! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). This is a much greater deal than mere temporary, physical riches on earth. Our lives are passing away on this earth and will soon be gone. We’ll be in eternity where only that which is eternal will remain. Eternal riches are truly what are important. What we really need to focus on receiving is not earthly prosperity, but heavenly, to store up treasure in Heaven, and to be rich in all spiritual things in Christ Jesus. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mar. 8:36)
THERE NEEDS TO BE REPENTANCE WHERE ERROR IS PROMOTED
If you, dear Christian, have been guilty of seeking the things of this earth, you know what you need to do. Some Pastors who have promoted these doctrines in their churches need to publicly repent and renounce these false doctrines in front of their congregations and start preaching the truth. Some who are given over to greed need to confess their sin and step down from their positions of leadership since it’s a disqualification for an Elder in the Church to be “greedy for filthy lucre” (1 Tim. 3:3). It’s a high cost to pay and requires a lot of humility to confess such error publicly, but the Lord will richly reward you if you do. There comes a time when you need to count the cost, and determine whether you’re going to obey the Lord and make things right, or are going to rebel to hold to your traditions and your dogmas and reject the Word of the Lord, and ultimately be rejected by the Lord yourself. So which is it? Choose this day who you will serve, whether God or Mammon! You can’t serve both!
WITHDRAW YOURSELF FROM FALSE TEACHERS
The Apostle Paul calls the false teachings of these prosperity preachers, “Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:5). Paul says that these men suppose gain is godliness. This means that they say that the godlier you are, the more monetary gain your going to get. They say that if you really have faith and are godly, you will be financially prosperous. But this is perverse and corrupt according to the Apostle! And the Scripture commands us to withdraw ourselves from such preachers! Have you withdrawn yourself from these false teachers? Or are you continually listening to their teaching and soaking up their ungodly ramblings and adulterous perverting of Scripture? Will you obey the Word of God and “come out from among them” (2 Cor. 6:17)?
The Apostle goes on to say, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Tim. 6:6-9). We are called to be content with our situation, even if we have nothing more than clothes on our back and necessary food to eat. But those who desire to be rich fall hard from the faith into temptation and many foolish lusts and are drowned in destruction. It doesn’t even say that they are rich; it says that they merely will to be, or desire, to be rich. Yet these prosperity preachers openly admit that they want more, that they desire to have more abundant earthly possessions and finances. Truly, by their own admission, by their own words, they are destitute of the truth.
The Apostle Peter warned us about false teachers in the last days: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Pet. 2:1-3).
Let’s break down what he’s saying and look at it one statement at a time, comparing it with these prosperity preachers that have infiltrated the Church:
Peter says that there were false prophets in times of old, and shall be false teachers among us. So by this statement we need to take heed and recognize that there are false teachers among us. Peter clearly said there would be, so that must mean that there is. So we need to understand that the Scripture promises us that they are among us and warns us that we need to identify them so as not to be deceived by their cunning craftiness.
Peter says that they secretly bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord. We’ve already seen that this “gospel” of greed and prosperity is a damnable heresy since it causes people to covet earthly things in their hearts and provokes the jealousy of God, and the Scripture says that the sin of covetousness is a damnable sin that will exclude one from the Kingdom of God. This heresy of a covetous “gospel” has secretly crept into the Church because it comes disguised as something good, cloaked with biblical terminology and extracted from quoting Scriptures out of context. It is secret because it’s a hidden thing from the eyes of most that it is wrong; most don’t recognize it as being heresy and it secretly deceives them. These false teachers deny the Lord not by plainly saying, “I deny the Lord” –that would be too obvious. They deny the Lord by denying His true teachings and by teaching things that are contrary to what He taught. In denying His truth, they are denying him with their teachings and practices. Even though they claim to serve Him with their lips their hearts are far from Him. They claim to love the Lord with their words but they deny Him in their hearts by loving the things of this world.
Peter says that many will follow their pernicious ways and because of them, people will speak evil of the way of truth. Are we not seeing this fulfilled before our very eyes? There are not a few who follow these prosperity preachers, but many –multitudes upon multitudes of people! And because of their constant ramblings that say that we should be rich or financially prosperous, people who aren’t Christians blaspheme Christianity and say, “They just want money”.
Peter says that these false teachers, in their covetousness, will exploit us and make merchandise of us with their deceptive words. This is exactly what these prosperity preachers are doing. They are motivated by covetousness, they are motivated by the desire to have more money, and in this motive they give appeal after appeal to their audiences to give them more donations. They preach entire sermons on why we should give money to their ministries. They see the people in their congregations as merely merchandise and they speak great speeches on why we need to give them more money! They create gimmick after gimmick to try to motivate people to give to them. It’s the height of deception!
Last of all, Peter says that their damnation does not slumber! If those who are using the things of God to get monetary gain for themselves and are exploiting the people of God with clever speeches and deceptive words, if they don’t confess their sin, repent, and get cleansed by the blood of Jesus from all covetousness, then they will surely be swallowed up by damnation from the pit from whence their false doctrines come! The Apostle Peter is not playing games with false doctrine and heresy and speaks in unmistakable and harsh language against these things because he knew that they would deceive so many sincere people.
The prophet Isaiah said, “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter” (Isa. 56:10-11). This is the state of these churches where these prosperity preachers are overseeing. They are blind and ignorant; they cannot see any danger approaching, and they can’t recognize the subtle tricks of the enemy to deceive people. These preachers are dumb dogs that cannot bark; they don’t give any warning of danger approaching, they don’t preach against sin and warn people to flee the wrath to come. They rarely preach on the Judgment or on Hell. Instead they are in a spiritual slumber and aren’t prepared themselves for the coming of the Lord. They love to slumber, they love their ease and prosperity and luxurious living. They are greedy dogs which can never have enough as they are constantly exploiting people to give more and more money into their ministries, accumulating more treasure on earth and increasing their luxurious lifestyles more abundantly as time goes on. They are shepherds who can’t understand the true things of God and are constantly looking not for the well being of the souls of the flocks they are preaching to, but are constantly looking for their own selfish gain.
This is a terrible grievous thing in the modern Church. It should cause us in the fear of God to withdraw ourselves from those who are perverting the ways of truth. It should break our hearts and move us to pray and labor to bring our brothers and sisters out of this end-time deception. We dare not compromise our stance against this “gospel” of greed when the Scriptures are so clear against it. If we compromise then we, too, are in danger of being deceived, for if we fail to receive and act upon the light that we have been given, even what we have been given may be taken away (Luk. 8:18).
LET US SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE
It is not out of a malicious spirit that we are to speak against false teachers; it is out of genuine love for the Body of Christ and love for the truth and glory of God. The Word of God commands us to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jud. 3). We need to love our brothers and sisters enough to warn them of the danger they are in if they are embracing these doctrines. If we don’t warn them, how can we say that we love them? Will you love the souls of sincere men and women enough to take your stance against these false doctrines and withdraw yourself from sitting under preachers who promote these things? Will you shut off the programming on TV where these preachers are promoting their heretical doctrines? And will you love people enough to humbly go to them with the Word of God as your authority and to show them the error of promoting financial gain in the name of Christ?
It may bring a sword between your relationships with people, it may bring a sword between you and your church, or you and your pastor, but may we never compromise truth for the sake of trying to preserve so-called unity! Genuine unity is based on the truth and will never compromise the truth in essential doctrine in order to preserve false peace. Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Mat. 10:34-38).
Will you take up the sword of truth, which is the Word of God, and in love fight against these demons that have infiltrated the Church? –Not to be contentious, or in a vengeful spirit, but in true and sincere love and compassion to correct that which is false and leave the results up to the Lord. We don’t need to worry about whether they listen or not, because we’re just called to be faithful to the truth. The Lord has all the rest in His hands. Let us trust Him, obey Him, and “purge the leaven from our midst” (1 Cor. 5:7).