Saturday, July 11, 2015

Prosperity Gospel


Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  1 Timothy 6:9

This has been on my heart lately because of all of the messages we are constantly bombarded with that we need to have a lot of money and "stuff" to be successful and partake of the "American Dream."  I even heard a sermon that the Bible doesn't speak against riches, because Abraham was rich--but what we need to keep in mind is that he was a "type" of God the Father! Of course he was rich--God owns the earth and everything in it!  Some other positive examples of wealth in the Old Testament also involved "types" of Jesus, such as Isaac (Abraham's son) and Joseph (rejected by his brethren, but saved them).  However, Jesus didn't even have a place to lay His head during His earthly ministry.  Matthew 8:20  If we're supposed to be transforming into His likeness, then how do riches fit in?

So what else does the Bible have to say on the subject?  Some of the New Testament references to riches include the Parable of the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-22) and the Parable of the Rich Man (Luke 12:15-21) and they do NOT portray wealth in a positive light. In the Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:11-27) and Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), investing money is used as an example but it's about more than money--it's also about serving God in faith, making the most of the opportunities given.  The reward for pleasing the Lord in the parable included increased responsibility (and thus, honor, not only for oneself but opportunities to bring the Lord more honor) in the Kingdom.

Why would God say not to love money and warn against accumulating too many possessions and then tell us money is the most important thing?  He didn't--He used a parable about money to illustrate a deeper truth.  God expects us to use everything He blesses us with wisely and to invest generously of our finances, time and talent in building His Kingdom.  He wants us to acknowledge that everything we have we got from Him and He is the giver of all good gifts.  He knows what we need and promises to take good care of us IF we put Him first.  He doesn't begrudge us wanting to have our needs met, but He is not a genie giving us unlimited wishes.  If we truly love Him, we will recognize that He is the only true value in the universe and everything else will appear as worthless to us.

Parable of the Rich Young Ruler 21 Then, looking at him, Jesus loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” 22 But he was stunned at this demand, and he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.  Mark 10:21-22

Parable of the Rich Man 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’  21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”  Luke 12:15-21

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Matthew 6:19-21

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.  Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?"  Matthew 6:24-5

For the pagans eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:32-34

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Luke 6:38

"I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."  Luke 16:9

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  Matthew 16:26

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Philippians 3:7-11

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  Philippians 4:11-12

This is not meant to convict anyone of anything--that's the job of the Holy Spirit; nor is it meant to judge anyone--that's the job of the Son.  It's meant to warn people about false teachers and get the focus back on God where it belongs.  Jesus told us that the Father would provide for all of our NEEDS.  The one who offered riches was Satan.

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Matthew 6:25

The devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Matthew 4:8-10

kits: Love Bugs by Connie Prince and My Everything by Mandy King