Deceived by Wealth
The prosperity gospel can be proven false any number of ways, but here we will analyze all the Scripture references that the believers in prosperity use to teach their doctrines. I will explain how the prosperity preachers misinterpret the Scriptures, by giving the correct interpretation. The prosperity preachers will scream and wail about being attacked, so I will not name those I quote except those who are dead, and only refer to them by a letter, like G, Z, or L, etc. These letters are not their initials.
Out of one side of their mouths, the prosperity preachers say that the purpose of their ministry is to help people get out of debt and to help people prosper so they can give large sums of money to spread the gospel. But out of the other side of their mouths they teach that we can have whatever material goods we want, such as a luxury home or a Rolls Royce. So don’t let any of the false prosperity preachers fool you into believing that they are not talking about getting luxury items; that they are really talking about getting money so you can give it to God. I have read their books, I know what they teach.
Some have a tendency to change their story under pressure (lie), but then go right back to the vomit again. What they are teaching is that if you give to preachers, especially themselves, God will make you rich enough to give lots of money to them and also have plenty of money for yourself, so you can buy a speed-boat, a BMW, and a big nice home. Z said:
Don’t worry about missing out on the good life. As long as you fulfill God’s purpose in your giving, God will loose abundance into your hands.
In addition, Z teaches that in order for the Great Commission to be completed, that Christians must take over all the wealth of the world, because the cost is so great. But on the other hand, he teaches that God always supplies the needs for every minister he calls, so that none of them should ever lack for anything. So why are you asking for money? But the fact is, the Gospel has already been preached in most of the world so it will not require all the wealth of Wall Street to complete the task. Christians already have enough; they are just spending it on the good life.
The get-rich preachers will tell you that God is not poor, that he owns the cattle on a thousand hills so he can afford anything; that he has enough money to supply the poor and still have enough for you to live in luxury. The day that there are no more poor will be the day you can live in luxury, but not until then!
You can call them Prosperity Pirates, or Prosperity Pimps, but they are in fact almost true yet false prophets (discussed in a later chapter). There are many preachers and teachers in this movement who are motivated by greed, but many local pastors who are teaching the prosperity gospel are just deceived because they want the doctrine to be true; they have been deceived by the prosperity teachers like I was once deceived. There was a time when I read all the books by the big name prosperity preachers and was a firm believer in the prosperity gospel, but the more money I gave the poorer I became. I gave money in offerings for the purpose of getting rich and commanded angels to bring me money, but I am thankful to God that he gave me the wisdom to recognize the error of this teaching. Wisdom is the true wealth of the Kingdom:
Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7) (NIV)
Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. (Prov. 8:10-11) (NIV)
Let me make it perfectly clear that the Bible does, in fact, teach that God wants to prosper us, but “biblical prosperity” is not the same as the “prosperity gospel.” God does not want us in poverty, but when we receive a great harvest, it is not for our own enrichment, but so we can help people who are in need. There are many Christians in India, Africa, and China who have no shoes to wear, some have barely enough clothes to cover their bodies; and God will give us more income than we need so that we can give towards meeting those needs. (I have more information on this subject in a later chapter.) God does not give us money so we can buy a yacht or a Corvette or a big expensive home, but that is what Christians in America are doing with God’s money.
Although God does make a few people rich, very few, because he wants to reward them in this life, or wants them to have a ministry of giving, it does not apply to the average Christian. Those few Christians who are genuinely blessed with wealth do not need to be taught how to acquire wealth. If you have the calling to be rich, then you will not have to seek after wealth or follow a step-by-step plan to get rich, money will find you. But most Christians are not called to be rich and will never be rich, no matter how much money they send to TV preachers.
Oral Roberts was one of the biggest prosperity preachers in history, and popularized the phrase, “I’m not your source, God is your source.” In other words, Don’t ask me for help because I am not going to help you. But if you send me an offering so I can stay on TV, God will feed you. Send me an offering and God will clothe you. I used to send him money and actually heard him say on TV that he will not feed you and he will not pay your electric bill, but if you send him an offering that God will feed you, and God will pay your electric bill. He even said people should send money to him even if it was their last dollar! This is an abomination and is actually the opposite of what the Bible teaches. Those who have, must give to those who have not; and that includes wealthy preachers on TV.
The city’s rulers govern for bribes, the priests interpret the Law for pay, the prophets give their revelations for money– and they all claim that the LORD is with them. “No harm will come to us,” they say. “The LORD is with us.” (Micah 3:11) (GNB)
Rather than the above verse applying only to people who lived when Micah spoke those words, could this verse be a prophecy about the state of Christianity today? It certainly describes much of the Charismatic Movement.
The prosperity gospel is the biggest hindrance to the spiritual growth of Christians in the Charismatic Movement and a blight to Christianity in general. The doctrine of greed is, perhaps, the largest single reason that many people turn away from the Charismatic Movement. Yet, the fastest growing group of Christians today is the Pentecostals and Charismatics. People love to hear that God wants them rich.
The prosperity gospel is one of the most dangerous and ruinous doctrines in the Church today; it is not just harmful, destructive, and dangerous, it is the opposite of the true gospel and, therefore, an evil lie from the pit of Hell. The true gospel does not want us poor, but it also does not want us rich because wealth can so easily separate us from God.
Christianity used to battle paganism, it now battles materialism, but it is a battle Christians in North America are currently loosing. Materialism has overcome a large percentage of Christians in North America. Of all Christians, preachers in particular, like to drive Cadillacs and Lincolns, and other luxury cars, as if a luxury car is evidence of God’s blessings, and somehow validates their ministry.
Doing without food is called fasting. Fasting causes your spirit to become stronger, it becomes more in tune with the Holy Spirit, which is why fasting empowers your prayers. When you deny “self,” it benefits your spirit. Having lots of money or material goods is the opposite of fasting, it is like having a full stomach all the time because it indulges the flesh and selfish desires, and whatever strengthens “self,” weakens your spirit-life.
So even if you don’t fast a lot, but you live a fasted life without lots of money in the bank or material goods, you will be spiritually stronger. History tells us that Saint John Chrysostom (c. 349–407) lived a fasted life. When he became Patriarch of Constantinople, he donated his large salary to benefit the poor. Do you see anyone doing that today? It happens, rarely. He founded several hospitals in Constantinople that cared for the poor.
According to a 2011 news report, more Christians are overweight than the average population; so we Christians, of all people, need to push back the plate and start denying ourselves or we will be dying of every known disease at higher rates than atheists, Buddhists, Hindu, Muslims, etc. How will that look to the world?
Since most churches are aimed at getting people’s needs met, fasting has gone out of style; fasting denies self, which is contrary to the modern false gospel of meism (me-ism) and materialism. Even churches that do not teach the prosperity gospel generally have members who are more prosperous than they were 100 years ago, and are caught up in the American life-style of consumerism; more, bigger, newer. They want the big house, the big car, the big screen TV, and the latest video game systems and telephones.
The American Dream is not the Biblical model. Apparently most Christians are not aware that the Bible teaches that wealth can cause spiritual blindness:
Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:7-9) (ESV)
The above passage contains very important truth that is being totally overlooked, not only by the prosperity preachers but also by most of Christianity in America today. The overall teachings in the Bible show us that it is not good to be in poverty and that it is also not good to be rich. Solomon wrote the above passage, and he understood the corrupting influence of wealth; therefore, he knew that people can have too much wealth. Solomon knew that wealth deceives people into becoming materialistic; it deceives people into depending on it for security rather than God.
The prosperity preachers avoid passages such as that because it clearly contradicts the get-rich gospel. Preacher Z wrote a whole book (which was given away free by TBN) about Mark chapter 4, claiming that Mark 4 teaches the doctrine of great abundance, yet in the entire book he never once mentioned Mark 4:19 that says, “the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful” (NIV). Amazing! Jesus said earthly wealth can deceive you, choking out the truth of God’s Word. The prosperity preachers have been so blinded by their own greed, they pass right over that verse and do not even know it’s there. They have been deceived by wealth! John Wesley said:
“When I have money, I get rid of it quickly, lest it find a way into my heart.”
As you would expect, preacher Z’s book is full of gross error. Z said that Jesus promised in Mark 4:13 that those who understand the parable of the sower of seed will be able to understand all other parables, but that is not what Jesus was saying in that verse.
Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? (4:13) (NIV)
Jesus was saying that this parable should be the easiest of all the parables to understand, so if you do not understand this easy parable, how can you understand any of the other parables? This is virtually the opposite of what Z said it means. Since Z does not understand that simple verse, it is no surprise that he does not understand the parable in Mark 4, which is the easiest of all to understand! Here is the parable and Jesus’ interpretation:
3 “Now listen! A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. 4 While the farmer was scattering the seed, some of it fell along the road and was eaten by birds. 5 . . . other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked out the plants. So they did not produce any grain. 8 But a few seeds did fall on good ground where the plants grew and produced thirty or sixty or even a hundred times as much as was scattered.”…(Mark 4) (CEV)
Z said the first part of the parable is about actual farming. It should be clear to anyone with good sense, that this parable is not about farming. What the farmer is spreading is the message of the Kingdom of God.
15 “The seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message. But Satan soon comes and snatches it away from them. . . . 18 The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. 19 But they start worrying about the needs of this life. They are fooled by the desire to get rich and to have all kinds of other things. So the message gets choked out, and they never produce anything. 20 The seeds that fell on good ground are the people who hear and welcome the message. They produce thirty or sixty or even a hundred times as much as was planted.” (Mark 4) (ESV)
Jesus gave a parable, then he interpreted it, he did not give two parables. Z said that in the second parable, actually the interpretation, the agricultural seed has become money: “There you have it. When you give your money into the gospel, God automatically gives it seed-power.”
Jesus never said the seed represented money, he said it represented the Word of Almighty God. If the seed is the Word, it’s not money. Nothing could be more blasphemous than to say a reference to God’s Word actually refers to money! It’s an abomination!
The correct interpretation of the parable in Mark 4 is this: The ground represents the hearts of men and women. The seed represents the Word of God. So it’s not money that produces the crop, but the Word of God which is sown into the hearts of people. Some people receive the seed, that is, hear the Word of God being preached, but they allow the cares of this life rob them of the truth. These people profess the Christian faith but barely grow and do not produce any fruit. Other people hear the truth but because of their desire for wealth, the truth is choked off and they never grow to become mature Christians. Some people are like the good ground that produces a great crop by growing spiritually to produce much fruit such as a Godly family, using their money to feed the hungry, etc.
Continuing in Mark 4, verses 21-25 refer to understanding the truth of God’s Word:
21 Jesus also said: “You don’t light a lamp and put it under a clay pot or under a bed. Don’t you put a lamp on a lampstand? 22 There is nothing hidden that will not be made public. There is no secret that will not be well known. 23 If you have ears, pay attention! 24 Listen carefully to what you hear! The way you treat others will be the way you will be treated–and even worse. 25 Everyone who has something will be given more. But people who don’t have anything will lose what little they have.” (Mark 4:21-25) (ESV)
These verses say that God intends for all truth to come to light, but not everyone will understand. Whoever rightly divides the Word of God will be given even more understanding so he may understand more of God’s Word than he now does. And if anyone does not rightly divide the Word, what little understanding he does have will be taken away.
As you would expect, Z said the passage refers to understanding how to receive a great harvest of money. He claims that you must understand what the Bible teaches about wealth in order to receive a return from your seed money. Here are his words:
Clearly our Lord is telling us that with this new insight, the more you understand about Him and His Word when you give, the greater your rate of return will be. . . . The more understanding you have, the greater your return will be, for he who has understanding will receive, and he who doesn’t have understanding, even the wealth he has will be taken from him.
Z said that if you give without the proper understanding of the prosperity message, that God will actually cause you to become poorer. In other words, if you do not believe in the prosperity message you will become poor, even if you give money to churches, missionaries, and preachers. If this were true then there should be no wealthy Christians except those who believe in the prosperity message. Wow, so it is evident that the prosperity preachers are just plain stupid. Do they even know to come indoors out of the rain?
Because people have given them many millions of dollars without getting a return, the false teachers have also developed the doctrine that the seed must be in the ground for a long time before it will grow to produce a harvest. So, the reason you do not get anything back is because you have not waited long enough; even money-seed must be allowed to grow, which is pure nonsense. How many years does it take for God to find someone a job? God is more than able to get someone a job today, if you have applied for jobs, then you could be hired immediately! No, it does not take a long time for God to act; this nonsense is just a cover so that they can continue to get your money even though you are not increasing in wealth. Z actually makes an unintentional confession below:
I can personally testify to the difficulty that goes with this waiting time, for my wife and I have been through it. Waiting caused us to look like fools to our family. It was as if we were standing still financially. Everyone seemed to be doing better than we were. We gave and gave, and then just gave some more. However, no matter how much we gave, we just didn’t seem to be getting ahead, as the others in our family were. All we could see were the stalks. Oh, yes! God met our needs, but we didn’t seem to be accumulating anything.
Z reveals here that he wanted more than his needs met, he wanted to “accumulate” money and things. He shows his greed. He reveals his desire for financial gain and that he gave money with the wrong motives so he could use the money on material pleasures. He goes on to reveal that his trust is not in God, but in money:
How wonderful it is when the farmer thrusts in the sickle and takes the harvest! . . . This glorious feeling is especially wonderful when it comes in the financial realm. You have unspeakable joy when the fear of insufficiency is gone from your life.
How can anyone who fears insufficiency have any trust in God? What a shame that he put so much trust in money, rather than God to supply what he needs. But the fact of the matter is, when you give money for the purpose of getting lots of money back, which is the whole doctrine of the prosperity preachers, then you are giving with wrong motives, so God will not prosper you. Satan may well prosper you, but not God. The Apostle James said:
2 . . . You don’t have the things you want, because you don’t pray for them. 3 When you pray for things, you don’t get them because you want them for the wrong reason—for your own pleasure. (James 4:2-3) (GW)
Nothing is said in this passage about not receiving from God because they did not give money as seed. God will give to those who ask, if they are in need, or desire to use the money to help the poor and the spread of the Gospel. What this passage says is that many people do not receive from God because they are asking out of greed; they want jewelry, expensive cars, expensive homes, etc. The above passage alone proves the entire prosperity message to be totally false. In spite of what the above passage says, the money preachers say that asking is not enough, we must give money before we will get anything! Of course they would say that, that is the only way they can afford their millionaire-lifestyles.
Charles H. Spurgeon said: