A regular teaching today within Pentecostal
and Charismatic churches and ministries (specifically 'Word of Faith') is that God wants all Christians to be financially
wealthy. The general teaching is that when believers give their hard-earned
wages to the "anointed" ministers (those who preach the message) a spiritual principle is enacted guaranteeing that the financial offerings (or "seeds") of the contributors will be multiplied and returned to them.
One problem with this give-to-get
scheme is that it completely eliminates the selfless, sacrificial aspect
of giving associated with the early Christians. No one mentioned in the
New Testament who made sacrifices to support the work of God inherited
any kind of material wealth as a result. Nor was the accumulation of wealth
the hearts' desire of the early believers.
One of the two main reasons the prosperity
doctrine exists and thrives can be explained by the greedy nature that most people
possess. Sadly, too many people are not content to receive a heavenly reward
for their givings. They demand immediate blessings and will sponsor anyone
who promises that a quick fix to their problems is available (but it's going to cost them a fee, of course).
Today's ministers of sin build on
the selfishness of the people who come to their gatherings. There is a very popular
"prophetic" message circulating through many Pentecostal & Charismatic outlets these
days. The message is that there is soon to be a transfer of wealth from
the wicked to the righteous (something they say will happen before Christ's return while we are still alive on this earth). Those who prophesy this message are supposed
to be representatives of the righteous, but would the righteous covet the
world's wealth? The tenth commandment of the Ten Commandments forbids covetousness
(see Exodus 20:17).
In contrast to the fleshly desires
expressed by today's pseudo-prophets, Scripture declares:
"Let your character be free from
the love of money, being content with what you have" . . . (Hebrews
People demonstrate what they value
most by the time and energy they devote to something (see Matthew 6:21). Prosperity teachers sometimes spend entire sermons (many broadcasted world-wide over
television) proving their love for money. They will beg, plead, bribe, and
even threaten their audiences if such action will bring in more offerings
for them. Instead of sacrificing their luxurious lifestyles to help meet
the demands for their "ministries" they ask the less wealthy to make the
sacrifices. With more funds the ministers expand their ministries so that
new audiences can be solicited with pleas for donations. And so the endless
process of asking for money continues. News about the risen Savior takes
a back seat to what is called the "essential" money issue.
The apostle Paul described these
kinds of preachers when he wrote about how the love of money causes people
to depart from the Christian faith:
"For the love of money is a root
of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from
the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang" (1 Timothy 6:10).
Prosperity teachers have strayed
far from the core message of Christ (as have their supporters). Rarely,
if ever, do they preach the pure Gospel. Sinners are usually petitioned
to accept Jesus as their Messiah, not through preaching about sin and the
need for a Savior to deliver them from eternal death; NO, the unsaved are
lured into becoming a "Christian" when the prosperity teachers make the promise
that God will bless them with whatever need or want they may have. (Desperation / neediness
also, and not only greed, causes people to accept this false gospel.)
People are told by these self-absorbed
preachers that if they accept and believe this prosperity message and prove
their belief by giving financially they will then, and only then, begin
to experience renewal in their lives. If the believers of this false gospel
want health, wealth, or any other kind of blessing they are promised that
Jesus (a "Jesus" of their own making) will provide them with these things. All a person must do, according
to the basic teaching, is pledge a certain amount of money to the prosperity
teacher and the deal is sealed. When the promise for the blessing goes
unfulfilled the preacher convinces his devotee that the "covenant" must be
reconfirmed because "Satan" has messed things up.
Tragically, this prosperity message
reduces the Savior of the world to a means to an end and not the end in and of Himself. The teaching
results in counterfeit salvations and many frustrated people who experience
only a dwindling bank account and hurt emotions instead of the blessings
they were promised. The only people who gain in wealth are the prosperity
teachers, and they never miss an opportunity to boastfully proclaim themselves
as rich men and women.
To those deceived and deceiving people
who have set their hearts and minds on earthly riches instead of spiritual
riches, the Lord would say:
"I know your
deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or
hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I WILL SPIT
YOU OUT OF MY MOUTH. Because you say, I am rich, and have become wealthy,
and have need of nothing, and you do not know that you are wretched
and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me
gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that
you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be
revealed; and eyesalve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. Those whom
I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and REPENT"
(Revelation 3:15-19; emphases added).