Today in my church’s small group Zoom meeting, one of the guys went on this mini-rant about prosperity teaching. He actually referred to it as “heresy.” He used the familiar terms of God as a “cosmic bellhop” or spiritual “Santa Claus.” He went on to say that it was “immaturity” to believe that if he tithed and did things “right,” to expect God to do a certain thing in response. The crazy thing is that the group’s discussion was on “covenant” and God’s covenant promises! In our meeting we read this entire passage from Romans chapter 8:
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
Again, our lesson was on our covenant with God. In the passage above, the emphasis was nothing can separate us from God's love in covenant with us. But right in the middle of the passage in verse 32 is one of my favorite prosperity passages! I paraphrase the verse like this: if God will “freely give” you Jesus, His best gift, His only Son, won’t He help you get a house, a car, a better job, relief from the burdens of debt? Still not convinced? Are you saying that all things work together for those who love Him except in the area of finances? Selah. This person talked about learning that “suffering” was a part of the Christian life. He didn’t say it, but the implication was suffering financially.
Let’s look at this another way. We believe that salvation, forgiveness, and healing are part of the covenant. Specifically, we believe that the scriptures on these topics that are written in the Old and New “covenants” are promises from God to us. Let’s look at salvation. We believe that we didn’t deserve it but that if we pray the scriptures on salvation, we receive salvation by faith. We would never say, “oh, I have too much salvation or grace to be saved.” Same thing with forgiveness. Many of us pray 1 John 1:9 and, by faith, receive forgiveness for sins that we commit. If we’re spiritually healthy, we never say we have “too much” forgiveness.
But when it comes to healing and certainly prosperity, it gets tricky. We start having conditions and exceptions. We hear things like “if it’s God’s will,” or things related to “suffering” or the “prosperity gospel.” Isn't that odd, seeing that the promises for these are also written in the same covenant? Why the contradiction? Jesus said in Mark 7:13, “making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
We take something that a human said or experienced and exalt it above the Word of God. The bible says, “give and it shall be given unto you,” it says tithe and the “windows of Heaven shall be opened unto you and pour out a blessing that there is not room enough to receive,” that God is “a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” But we let some human’s experience with manifesting God’s promises in that area or the traditions that have been handed down by humans ring more true than the written promises of God in His covenant with us!
Humans have flaws; they are fallible. Scripture, God’s word is inerrant and backed by God Himself. There are a lot of reasons why a scriptural promise may not have come true in someone’s life. Heb 4:2 says, “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Heb 6:12 that “through faith and patience” we “inherit the promises.” So maybe that person who was applying the scriptures didn’t mix in enough faith, or they didn’t have enough patience, were double-minded, etc. There are a whole lot of things that can come into play as to why someone didn’t receive a promise. But the reason is NEVER that God’s word isn’t true. That is true heresy.
What traditions on prosperity, healing, etc., have been passed down to you? How do they measure up against the word of God that “shall never pass away” (Matt 24:35), the word that God “hastens to perform” (Jer 1:12), the word that is more powerful than a two-edged sword (Heb 4:12)? I just heard this voice say, “Oh brother, we musn’t focus on material things.” I heard the ugly word “greed.” But back to my earlier analogy, we would never say we were “greedy” when we claimed all of God’s promises for salvation or forgiveness. We sing God’s mercies are “new every morning” and never think that we should have less mercy.
Bible prosperity, received through faith in God’s promises, is part of our covenant. It’s part of the perks, the benefits. It’s part of our advantage, our “leg up” over the people who aren’t in covenant with our God. Can you imagine the children of Israel not receiving all the wealth, the material things, that were given to them by their masters before they left Egypt? It would be easy for people who had been slaves for 400 years to think that they weren’t worthy of nice things. It was their covenant with God that caused their masters to show them favor and give them nice things. Only modern traditions that have been handed down from flawed human beings would tempt us to believe that God could be generous and loving and good to us in many areas except our finances.
One of my favorite scriptures on the “benefits” of being in covenant with God is Psalm 103. I challenge you to read the passage and ask yourself if you doubt those benefits. Then I challenge you to ask yourself why these benefits are more believable than the promises in Malachi 3:10-18, Luke 6:38-40, Proverbs 13:22, John 10:10, and 2 Corinthians 9:6-12.
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6 The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
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