Prosperity teaching has been around for some time but I felt it relevant to add a few comments. Several American pastors push prosperity teaching as a sign of God's Blessing. In a nutshell, the more I have, the more God is blessing me and of course if I give more dollars to ministry X God will give me more and more. My Bank balance is a barometer of God's blessing.
This is an issue of concern!
Often these Charismatic Leaders get rich on the generosity of their flock. The basis for giving or tithing in their churches may be twisted and warped to generate more income for themselves. Church members are encouraged to give more to the Church so they too can get more financial benefits from God. Meanwhile the Church leaders get richer and richer and the members just give and give based on false hope and false teaching.
Has God simply been reduced to a Dealmaker? Hey God, If I do this for you God, You'll do this for me won't you, and by living according to eternal principles and putting you, God, first in your life, I'll build a solid foundation that will release your promises, God: ie. blessing, prosperity, wealth and riches and all those things will be added unto me, such as a sports car, a weekender, a big bank account, etc, etc. This thinking is perverse. God is not someone we manipulate for our own purposes. We are called to a life of service under God's direction guided by the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Look at the life of Paul the Apostle. Was money or pursuit of wealth important in his life?
Brian Houston, Senior Pastor of the Hillsong church in North western Sydney promotes prosperity teaching as part of a package including health and self esteem. His church is reported to have a membership of over 10,000 people. You may have heard popular songs published under the name Hillsong church. There is no argument some great worship songs have been penned by Darlene Zschech and produced by Hillsong musicians. But all is not well with the Christian teaching at Hillsong church. In his book " You need more money" Brian Houston argues firstly that Christians need more money and secondly that money is the key to solving everything.
To assess any position on new Scriptural teaching (prosperity teaching) we must first read what the Bible says and use wisdom and prayer to determine whether the new teaching is true or false.
Let's look at a few verses in the Bible
1 Timothy 6: 9-10
"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap (snare) and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
Hebrews 13: v 5
"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.""
Matthew 6: v 24 (See also Luke 16: v 13, Luke 12: 22 - 31)
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Luke 12: v 15
Jesus said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Luke 18: v 25
Jesus said to them, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter kingdom of God."This comment is recorded in Matthew and Mark.
Clearly the Bible argues that there are dangers in putting faith in riches. Not one verse in the Bible states that Christians need more money or that money and possessions are to be pursued and valued. Be content with what you have, the Bible teaches. Seeking more and more is a pathway that can lead Christians away from their faith so pushers of this teaching are taking large risks with the spiritual well being of their church members. The pursuit of wealth and riches is simply a re-packaged worldly materialism with all its associated crass forms, not true Christianity.
Now lets look at the life of Christ. As Christians and followers of Jesus who should be our example? Who should we follow? Rich Prosperity Pastors such as Brian Houston from Hillsong church pastoring a multi-million dollar church; with a large multi bedroom house and a Hawkesbury River property OR our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The answer is clear!.
Jesus Christ came into this world with nothing and in death left nothing, no house, no donkey, no fishing boat, no possessions. Nothing!. During his life he was not esteemed, did not seek material possessions or recommend wealth creation. In fact in John 2 verse 14 we learn that Jesus became angry when the Temple became a place of business and not a house of prayer. The money changers and dealers were given the boot.
In Summary, Jesus Christ is our example for living.
Prosperity teaching is false and a clear and obvious misinterpretation of Holy Scripture. Be Warned! . Any Pastor who teaches prosperity or wealth creation as part of Christianity is simply wrong and misinterpreting holy scripture which is very serious. The Bible warns about the seriousness of misinterpretation and false teaching. Don't be misled even if these teachers have large congregations in their churches. Teaching on prosperity is wrong and many mainstream Christian pastors would agree. Therefore Do not be deceived. As Christians we look forward to the future with Christ for we are truly aliens in this world ( see 1 Peter 2 v11 ) and all wealth on earth will be of no value in Heaven.
Matthew 6: v 19-21 (See also Luke 12: v 32-34)
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
1 Peter 1 verse 3-5
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."
Thankyou Jesus! Thankyou for your perfect sacrifice on the Cross, your immense love and kindness. As Christians we look forward to eternity with you, our Lord and Saviour. This is true wealth.
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Date of Revision January 2011