Faith vs the Prosperity “Gospel”

ecclesiastes311

Here is an unexpected gem that I “accidentally” stumbled upon when looking for the above image to save to Pinterest.  Funny how God can use our most mundane actions to reach into our hearts & set us free again!

via 5 Errors of the Prosperity Gospel

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The author of the above post does a good job of presenting key distortions of the so-called “prosperity gospel”.  Having sat under such teaching for nearly a decade during my college & grad-school years (not by choice but mandated by the university I attended) & having wrestled with this topic for many years alongside my husband afterward, this post was a refreshing & balanced breath of fresh air!  Please check it out!

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Thegospelcoalition.org may be the original source of this material…

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Here are the article’s main points with a scripture misused to support these errors:

1. The Abrahamic covenant is a means to material entitlement.

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2. Jesus’s atonement extends to the “sin” of material poverty.

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3. Christians give in order to gain material compensation from God.

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4. Faith is a self-generated spiritual force that leads to prosperity.

No actual verse was cited here, just a faulty understanding of faith.

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5. Prayer is a tool to force God to grant prosperity.

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In light of Scripture, the prosperity gospel is fundamentally flawed. At bottom, it is a false gospel because of its faulty view of the relationship between God and man. Simply put, if the prosperity gospel is true, grace is obsolete, God is irrelevant, and man is the measure of all things. Whether they’re talking about the Abrahamic covenant, the atonement, giving, faith, or prayer, prosperity teachers turn the relationship between God and man into a quid pro quo transaction. As James Goff noted in a 1990 Christianity Today article, God is “reduced to a kind of ‘cosmic bellhop’ attending to the needs and desires of his creation.” 

This is a wholly inadequate and unbiblical view of the relationship between God and man.

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Here is the comment I wrote to the original post:

Thank you for sharing this insightful post. I attended a college in the Bible Belt that actively promoted this so-called “prosperity gospel” & spent several years trying to untangle the twisted threads of scriptural distortion. Numerous chapel speakers heavily emphasized “faith” but in a manner as you outlined in your post & they laid a false burden on me & many others that we didn’t actually have Any Faith because we didn’t view faith as a way to manipulate God into doing whatever we fervently prayed for.

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Honestly, being forced to sit under such teachings in a mandated setting ended up inflicting a form of “spiritual abuse” on the hearers. Many of us who were biblically minded (& hadn’t grown up in the prosperity gospel environment) were uncomfortable with the focus of the “teachings” but we weren’t mature enough to discern the error overtly in the widespread distortions being propagated among the Believers. Most of the Prosperity Proponents you quoted were regular chapel speakers at my college & their distortions of Truth were quite damaging to me for many years…sadly.

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I appreciate how well you outlined some of the basic aspects of the error of this “theology”. If I had encountered such insights 30 years ago that would have been incredibly healing. As it was, the Lord gently lead me (& my husband who grew up under such heresies since he lived out there) away from these errors that I studiously avoided but couldn’t adequately articulate. We both still have minimal tolerance for the teachings of those brothers & sisters in Christ who propagate these errors. Would that God would open their eyes & cause them to repent of “fleecing the flock”…& grant them insight into the second half of Hebrews chapter 11!

Best Regards & God Bless You!

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Emphasis in the scripture passage (all of Hebrews 11) below is mine…

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Hebrews 11 New International Version (NIV)

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Faith in Action

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11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

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By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

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By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

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By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.

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And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

HEBREWS 11 A.Hebrews 11 is called the faith chapter. B.It describes the faith of many who have gone before us who were fai...

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By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

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By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

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By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

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11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise.

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12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

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INTERLUDE: Hebrews 11:13-16 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were ...

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13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.

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14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.

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15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.

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16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

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17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[c]

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19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

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20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.

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21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

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22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

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23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born,because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

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24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

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26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.

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27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

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29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.

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30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.

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Hebrews 11:32-37 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah...

31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d]

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32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon,Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

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HEBREWS 11 Vs 34 JEHOSHAPHAT saved from a huge army from the east (1 Chron 20) Vs 34 ELIJAH made him strong enough to defe...

35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.

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HEBREWS 11 Vs 36 JESUS & THE APOSTLES were beaten and scourged and imprisoned Vs 36 JEREMIAH was beaten and imprisoned (Je...

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36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.

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37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins,destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

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FAITH, WORKS & THE PROMISE A. Hebrews 11:39-40 And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not rece...

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39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

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hebrews 11 - faith and works

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Footnotes:

a Hebrews 11:5 Gen. 5:24

b Hebrews 11:11 Or By faith Abraham, even though he was too old to have children—and Sarah herself was not able to conceive—was enabled to become a father because he

c Hebrews 11:18 Gen. 21:12

d Hebrews 11:31 Or unbelieving

e Hebrews 11:37 Some early manuscripts stoning; they were put to the test;

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

This slideshow (I interspersed the slides within the Hebrews 11 verses above) can be found here:

http://slideplayer.com/slide/7318484/

Other Faith & Works slides were clipped from here:

Most images were found via Bing.com image searches…

Following are many more images with verses on faith depicting beautifully aspects of that faith journey in many colors, styles, & flavors.  I chose these images to include because they each carried a different aspect of the biblical message of faith…Enjoy!

 

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So hearkening back to the Hebrews 11 panoply of the heroes of faith chapter 12 begins with a reminder that they are our “great cloud of witnesses”.  Perhaps these forbears of the faith are like cheering parents in the stands observing their kids’ sporting events.  They have already passed through that stage of life & are now mentoring & encouraging & observing & rejoicing & cheering them on to victory…May we all “run with perseverance the race” set out before us & continue to Fight the Good Fight of Faith!!!

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When it comes to battles in the Kingdom, whether it be with our own sin nature or “warring with the powers of darkness”, the following statement is surely true.  May we all continue to press on toward the Prize of the High Calling in Christ Jesus!  Blessings!!!

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If you made it this far you may also be blessed by this post I did elsewhere:

https://pioneerperspectives.wordpress.com/2019/07/14/legalism-lies-liberty/

 

2 thoughts on “Faith vs the Prosperity “Gospel”

  1. Pingback: Abel, True Father of Faith | Special Connections

  2. Pingback: Legalism, Lies, & Liberty | Pioneer Perspectives

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