Have you ever heard somebody complain that a church service didn’t make them feel very good? How are Christian Church services supposed to make you feel? What is the most important thing to be heard in the church service? How can the worldly tendencies of man’s heart impact on the way people would hold a church service?
In this blog I want to raise the awareness of some of the harmful teachings by proponents of this prosperity gospel. I am not afraid to use names, because that’s what the Bible does. I want to look at some of their quotes and general teachings. Then I will hold that against the Bible’s overall teaching.
Let’s look at 4 of the key teachings along with biblical responses.
1. Christians should not be sick. Benny Hinn taught that no Christian should ever be sick. Kenneth Hagin taught that God does not afflict people with sickness. Deuteronomy 17:15 teaches that God, when dealing with his own people, was not going to give them any sickness. However, the rest of the verse says that He will afflict with sickness those that hate His people. We love to hear verses about God comforting us and giving us our desires. They gloss over the fact that the (NASB) Bible uses the word destroy 427 times. But how many preachers will quote this one out of context as they do the others: “The Lord will also afflict you with every sickness and plague not recorded in the book of this law, until you are destroyed.” (Deut. 28:61) Proverbs 25:16 teaches that sickness has natural cause. Jesus was familiar with sickness (Isaiah 53:3), though it was our sickness (v. 4). We are to consider ourselves as sick before Jesus (Matt. 9:12). Sickness can be a discipline from the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:32). Certainly God can use sickness in whatever way He sees fit.
2. We create our reality through our words. Kenneth Copeland, Marylin Hickey and Joyce Meyer have plainly taught this principle. It is the cornerstone to the Word of Faith Movement. They will claim that God created the world through faith and His words, therefore we can do the same. Here is the teaching of Jesus: “If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for —believe that you have received them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:23-24) does this mean that we have the ability to speak things into existence? Absolutely not! Only God is the Creator (Neh. 9:6). Does this mean that God have to give us anything that we ask for? No! We ask in faith and in His name; meaning that our prayer is offered according to who He is and His will. This word of faith teaching teaches us to be dependent on ourselves, our faith, and our words instead of being dependent on the power and will of God. “So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.” (2 Tim. 1:8)
3. It’s all about you. This is a pretty common thread among ear tickling preachers. The book titles ought to give away this concept. Joel Osteen has books called Your Best Life Now, Become a Better You, and It’s Your Time. His wife Victoria has a book called Love Your Life. Creflo Dollar has a book called 8 Steps to Create the Life You Want. Joyce Meyer has one called Look Great, Feel Great. Numerous other books that are centered on ME flood the Christian book section. But the Bible teaches something far different. Romans 12:16 tells us “Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble.” We don’t even really own ourselves- “Your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19) We are not to make ourselves the best we can, we are to give ourselves up to God to be formed and molded by Him- “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Finally, and emphatically, Jesus announces “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.” (Matt. 16:24-25)
4. The demonic realm finished the atonement for us. Joyce Meyer taught that Jesus Christ went to hell, got tortured by demons, and finished the atonement that way. Kenneth Copeland taught that Jesus became demon possessed on the cross. Both of these are blasphemous and twist the justice of God. Satan did not want Jesus to die on the cross. That’s why Jesus rebuked Peter saying “Get behind me, Satan” (Matt. 16:23) when Peter didn’t want Jesus to go to the cross. It was the Father that inflicted Jesus with the punishment that we deserve- “the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) The only thing that even makes a hint at Jesus ever making any appearance in hell is in 1 Peter 3:19- “He also went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison”. This does not even say that he descended into hell after he died on the cross, much less getting tortured by demons there. Jesus said “it is finished” (totalisti) as he was dying on the cross (John 19:30). This meant that the full payment to justify God’s wrath had been made at that point.
The prosperity gospel is a movement that is based on the 3 great temptations of man: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of one’s life (1 John 2:16). These are the main temptations that Jesus was faced with when tempted by the devil (Matt. 4:1-11). The prosperity gospel has a way of encouraging these lusts. And these famous preachers can continue with their inaccuracies because people continue to gobble it up. They are not well versed in the Truth and the Word, otherwise they would “no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.” (Eph. 4:14)
Health? Pleasures? More respect? Do you want money? “Give my ministry money and you will be blessed with even more money in return.” “Sow a seed of faith.” The attitude seems to be to make God make you prosper. Creflo Dollar teaches that God is subject to the law of prosperity. He said that “You can’t stay cursed tithing”. Just some more made up stuff to try to get what they want out of people while getting people to still think highly of them.
The problem is when our eyes are on our money our eyes are off of God. This is what Jesus taught. “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.” (Matt. 6:24) If God wants us to be rich then why did he say it was difficult for a rich man to get into the kingdom of heaven? “I assure you: It will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven! Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matt. 19:24)
“Better a poor man who lives with integrity than a rich man who distorts right and wrong.” (Pro. 28:6)
This has to sink in, especially in this greedy and backstabbing culture. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10). Our lives need to be devoted to God and His kingdom (Matt. 6:33). If God sees fit that we are given great health and riches, then ok, but we need to maintain a broken and contrite heart (Isaiah 66:2). If not, then we ought to still be thankful (1 Thess. 5:18). We need to be content no matter the level of worldly prosperity we have. “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” (Phil. 4:11-12)