The prosperity gospel is a doctrine that teaches God wants us to be prosperous and healthy in life, with wealth being used as the measure for your level of favor with God. As Jesus repeatedly teaches, having prosperity in this life does not equate to God's favor. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the poor man Lazarus is the one who goes to heaven, while the rich man goes to hell.
Furthermore, Jesus says, "Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man's life doesn't consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses." (Luke 12:15 WEB)
The following is a list of verses used to support the prosperity gospel, as well as an explanation of each verse, revealing why these verses actually don't support the prosperity teaching at all.
The context of this verse is forgiveness, not money. Let's go back two verses and read it together, "Therefore be merciful, even as your Father is also merciful. Don't judge, and you will not be judged. Don't condemn, and you will not be condemned. Set free, and you will be set free. Give, and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they give into your bosom. For with the same measure you measure it will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:36-38 WEB)
Terms like "Set free" are used to indicate setting someone free from your grudge by forgiving them. The message Jesus is teaching is that we will be forgiven by God with the same measure of forgiveness that we extend to others. Jesus teaches the same message in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant.
This verse in John is literally a greeting, like "Hello! I hope you are doing well," expressing the desire that their journey in life go well. Basing theology and doctrine on this verse would be like basing your belief on the phrase "Have a good day!" In Spanish, they have a similar phrase that literally means "May your way go well," but it is a way of saying farewell.
This verse is exactly the same kind of expression used as a greeting. There is no foundation for basing any belief on this verse, other than "John wanted to be friendly to his readers and wish them goodwill in life."
If you read this in context, you may find it amusing to realize that Jesus is telling a story in which the man who makes this statement is actually the foolish one. Let's read the whole passage, "'I fast twice in the week. I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn't even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man [tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the other [tithing man]; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:12-14 WEB)
The man who boldly claimed that he tithed all he receives was arrogant. It is the humble tax collector who was exalted before God, whereas the man who fasted and tithed exalted himself. Jesus is speaking negatively about those who exalt themselves, much like televangelists who propose the prosperity gospel do.
As discussed in last week's sermon on the Prosperity Gospel, the key words here are "store-house" and "may be food in my house." Old Testament tithing was based on food and crops, not money. Even in the New Testament, the Pharisees are seen tithing spices (cumin, mint, and dill) in Matthew 23:23.
When money was collected, it was normally considered to be a tax, not a tithe (Matthew 17:25-27).
Prosperity gospel teachers often warn their audience to not rob God by not tithing enough money.
The problem with how these televangelists use these verses is that they say if you give your seed tithe, then God will bless you financially. The issue is that most of the money donated goes directly into the pockets of these "pastors" and "televangelists" as disposable personal income.
Imagine if we still did food tithing, and the pastor sold most of the food for the poor in order to buy a mansion or plane? Who is really robbing God?
"When you have made an end of tithing all the tithe of your increase in the third year, which is the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the sojourner, to the fatherless, and to the widow, that they may eat within your gates, and be filled." (Deuteronomy 26:12 WEB)
If money we give to the Church is now God's money for the poor, then why is it okay for so much of that money to become personal income for these televangelists? Again, who is really robbing God?
This verse is used to support the "Name it, Claim it" teaching, which is technically witchcraft (manipulation of a spirit – in this case manipulation of the Holy Spirit). Let's keep reading to see what James is really saying, "Yet you don't have, because you don't ask. You ask, and don't receive, because you ask amiss, so that you may spend it for your pleasures. You adulterers and adulteresses, don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:2-4 WEB)
So as we can see, James is actually speaking against lusts and greed, saying that they are making themselves enemies of God by loving the material things more than God.
Again, saying, "God has no choice but to make our prayers come true" or "Name it, Claim it" is the literal definition of witchcraft and sorcery – the real kind of witchcraft, not the pretend magic kind of potions and spells, but the legitimate sinful witchcraft of attempting to manipulate spirits.
What does Jesus say when praying to the Heavenly Father? "Nevertheless, not what I want, but what you want." (Matthew 26:39 WEB)
What is interesting about this verse, is that Paul is not making the point that he deserves to reap material goods. Instead, he is bragging about the fact that he has chosen not to reap material goods. Let's continue reading, "If we sowed to you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your fleshly things? If others partake of this right over you, don't we yet more? Nevertheless we did not use this right, but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ." (1 Corinthians 9:11-12 WEB)
Paul even says that he would rather die than receive financial support from them (1 Corinthians 9:15)...so then why did he make this statement about reaping material goods? Because he is teaching them that they need to give to the needy. Specifically, he is giving them reasons why they need to support the saints in Jerusalem who are impoverished due to persecution for their faith. "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I commanded the assemblies of Galatia, you do likewise. On the first day of the week, let each one of you save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come." (1 Corinthians 16:1-2 WEB)
Furthermore, as seen in later verses, these collections were not kept by the local church. Instead, each person saved up until Paul was ready to collect the total offering from everyone. The Corinthians did not "tithe" money weekly. They saved money weekly to meet a specific need in the Christian community.
Paul is not speaking about money at all in the verse. Rather, Paul is talking about sinning, saying to stop sinning or else reap the consequences of sin, which ends in death. Let's continue reading, "Don't be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we don't give up." (Galatians 6:7-9 WEB)
Jesus says, "Sell that which you have, and give gifts to the needy. Make for yourselves purses which don't grow old, a treasure in the heavens that doesn't fail, where no thief approaches, neither moth destroys." (Luke 12:33 WEB)
Jesus also says, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." (Luke 16:13 NIV)
Paul says, "For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people." (2 Timothy 3:2-5 ESV)
"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." (Luke 12:15 NIV)
What is love? It's a call to action. Guest post by Ben Byrum.
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