Joy of the Gospel

The Good News of Jesus Christ

Menu Close

Category: Culture

Another Prosperity Gospel

Many people, including Christians, discount the prosperity gospel. They believe that we should not think after people become Christians they will only experience earthly blessings, favor, and peace. This prosperity gospel, they say, contradicts what the apostle Peter tells us. Peter says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, because you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings” (1). The apostle Peter warns Christians of difficult times. He says that these difficult times are opportunities to rejoice because Jesus went through similar suffering. Peter’s message suggests that every Christian will go through a trial, but a Christian should not despair.

Another Prosperity Gospel

Peter’s message, however, does not negate the prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel in Scripture, though, differs from the prosperity gospel we hear today. Today we hear that Christians will be leaders, owners, entrepreneurs, authors, presidents, and CEOs. We hear that Christians should become rich, favored among people, and influential. Christians, to this view, should never get sick and believe that they must recover from all diseases and not die before their time. Such prosperity is conditional and earthly. It is earthly and conditional because it depends on earthly events instead of God. God, however, tells us about another and better prosperity gospel.

God’s Promise

God promises that Christians will prosper. But this prosperity differs from how the world defines it. Jesus’ prosperity gospel said, “the kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and cast into his garden, and it grew and grew into a great tree” (2). Jesus also said, “It is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it leavened the whole” (3). Jesus talks about increase and abundance, but we should remember that Jesus says His illustration is a metaphor, not a reality. We should not believe that His illustration is literal. We should, however, think of what the metaphor points to. It points to the invisible kingdom of God.

Prosperity

The prosperity gospel is this: When we become Christians and follow God’s commandments, we will prosper spiritually. God tells us that “the righteous” will get “stronger and stronger” (4). He says that the “righteous shall flourish and grow” (5). God says that our way of life “shines more and more unto the perfect day” (6). This prosperity, however, happens within. Prosperity, for Christians, is the state of being spiritually successful, being rich in good deeds, and being leaders of our spiritual lives. Such prosperity is inward—like the mustard seed planted in the ground and like the leaven hid in the measure of meal. Such inwardness shows that prosperity is an “in thing” instead of an outward, material, or temporal thing. 

The next time we hear a prosperity gospel that focuses on temporal blessings, richness, leadership, healing, or favor, we should replace the temporal with the spiritual. God promises all who believe in him spiritual blessings, wealth, leadership in our spiritual lives, healing, and favor (7).


(1) 1 Peter 4:12-13.
(2) Luke 13:19.
(3) Luke 13:21.
(4) Job 17:9.
(5) Psalm 92:12-14.
(6) Proverbs 4:18.
(7) Luke 6:38; Philippians 4:19; Deuteronomy 28:13; Isaiah 53:5; Proverbs 3:4.

Unlimited and Infinite

Knowing Our Limitations

Part of understanding who God is comes from understanding who we are. As humans, we are limited and finite. By limited, I mean that we cannot do anything, be everywhere, or know everything. By finite, I refer to how we live in such limitations. When we understand ourselves as finite and limited beings and God as an unlimited and infinite being, we see the human-God relationship more clearly. We can summarize such a relationship like this: God can and we cannot. Accepting this relationship and that God can do things we cannot is vital to have a proper conception of our existence before God.

Once we come to this knowledge, of knowing that God is infinitely more than us, we can see how God could help us in our lives. If a person could complete a task I couldn’t but I needed that task completed, wouldn’t it be natural for me to ask this person for help? Say, for instance, I am sick to the point I cannot move; I need my kitchen sink and pipes replaced, and I am not a plumber. Wouldn’t it be natural for me to contact a plumber? I could look on YouTube and figure out how to do the job. But remember. I am sick and cannot move. Such a scenario describes how humans’ relationship to God.

Help With Our Finitude and Limitations

God helps us with our finitude and limitations because He overcomes our finitude and limitations. He well knows that we are “sick” and limited and need His help. However, it is our job to realize this. A story from the Gospel of Mark makes this point clearer. One day, a father brought his son to Jesus’ disciples so they could heal him. However, the disciples couldn’t heal him. Later, Jesus’ disciples wanted to know why they couldn’t heal the boy. Jesus answered, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (1) 

Not a Formula

Jesus appears to give His disciples a formula for difficult cases of sicknesses and mental illnesses. However, when Jesus tells His disciples that some cases require prayer and fasting, He expresses that His disciples must rely not on their power but God’s power. Prayer and fasting is a formula that asks God to intervene. Such prayer and fasting, which seeks God, shows that a person understands that he or she is limited and finite and needs God’s help. God gives us much power. Yet sometimes we need to rely on a being who is unlimited and infinitely more powerful than us: God Almighty, the father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1) Mark 9:14-29.

Copyright © 2006-2019 Joy of the Gospel

Dwight A. Lucas II. All rights reserved.