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I received the following from Pastor Keith Hobkirk in China, and thought it would be a good basis for a Discussion here on the "Prosperity Gospel". I know how several members think on the matter, and we don't all think alike. Pastor Hobkirk's piece here is clearly set against it while I personally believe there IS truth in it, and to reject it all is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Here is Pastor Hobkirk's piece:
In the prosperity gospel, also known as the “Word of Faith,” the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite—God uses the believer.
Word of Faith or prosperity theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills.
The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person who enables the believer to do God's will.
The prosperity gospel movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that infiltrated the early church. Paul and the other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated such heresy. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them.
Paul warned Timothy about such men in 1 Timothy 6:5, 9-11. These men of “corrupt mind” supposed godliness was a means of gain and their desire for riches was a trap that brought them “into ruin and destruction” (v. 9).
The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians and one which God warns about: “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” (v. 10). If riches were a reasonable goal for the godly, Jesus would have pursued it.But He did not, preferring instead to have no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20) and teaching His disciples to do the same.
It should also be remembered that the only disciple concerned with wealth was Judas.
OK, that all makes sense, doesn't it? We're following our Lord Jesus Christ in this life, and want foremost to please him in all our affairs. We're also raising a family, and working a job (most of us) to do that the best we can, trying to be successful at our employment to provide for our families and ourselves. Who among us hasn't prayed for success, or for finances to be able to do that?
The proponent of the "Prosperity Gospel" who I think personally has the cleanest, clearest path in it is Pastor Joseph Prince in Singapore. He preaches on Grace, and calls it a "Grace Revolution". Please check out his teachings at www.JosephPrince.com. He basically believes we are under the covenant of Grace, and in His sermons, he teaches that God loves us and His Grace is unlimited, we need to accept it and God will provide for our needs and wants thru His grace to the level that we are capable of accepting it. A recent Devotional had this in it: "Jesus is with you to help you, assist you, turn things around for you and make good things happen for you. He is not with you to condemn, judge or find fault! When Almighty God is with you, good things will happen in you, around you and through you. Expect this to happen to you today!" Perhaps criticism can be found in the focus upon self, but Pastor Prince combines a strong teaching on Salvation and Evangelization along with his Grace message.
I have heard teachings based on Jesus parable of the seed; "Plant a seed, and it will grow, and multiply" referring to sending the preacher money (the seed) and it will multiply back in your life. Now, this is fraud on it's face- and obviously so, but these "Preachers" have been on TV for years with this exact message, and they are very good at getting people to send them "Seed money"; Lord, protect us from these!
There's a huge following of one woman preacher who has auditoriums just packed with people who pay to hear her messages. She has missionary outreaches all over the world, and the finances she raises are astronomical. I always thought she clearly had a good message, and was clearly of God, but I've heard some words that she spends an inordinate amount of her organizations wealth on herself personally- like planes, boats, etc. so this would go against the Holy Spirit in her ministry. She does, however, a lot of good in the world, so perhaps the Lord blesses her so the good can be done.
To sum this up and open the discussion, just where could we draw the line between wanting to always walk with God and also provide for ourselves and our families the best we can? If we profess Grace to provide financially is that wrong if we continue following God's path in our lives? Is the "Prosperity Gospel" truly wrong in every instance? What do you think? What do you believe God thinks on this subject? This should make for a good discussion!