Confronting A False Teaching:
There is a false teaching in some churches that I believe begs to be addressed. At the moment of confession and even in some theological circles the notion that prosperity is just around the corner for a Christian if they just have faith and pray for it is blatantly false. Sometimes this falsity has been preached by television evangelists to coax those with itching ears to make a commitment to Christ. Dare I say that many of these evangelists are only interested in their continued success and for that additional statistic of “new converts”. They sell this lie quite convincingly with words like “If you confess your sins God will enter your life and He will give you whatever you ask of Him.” These words are twisted from the original John 14:13 passage to imply that if you just pray hard enough God will help pay your bills or buy you that new car or bring you that new job you were dreaming about. In essence this false teaching makes God out to be some sort of Genie who grants wishes to those who call upon His name. But how often do these prosperity preachers really explain the above verse correctly?
Will things really become a Mary Poppins world when we accept Christ? Will things remarkably change for us when we confess our sins? Yes and no. Of course if we confess and genuinely repent of our sins God’s spirit will indwell within us. God’s presence will be there to guide us and we will not be alone…BUT does that mean that all of a sudden all of life’s problems will disappear? NO! I don’t mean to sound negative or share a dismal offering here but let’s be real – We will still have to face our life and the journey that we are on in this life. The new element that God gives us once we accept Him is that we are no longer alone on this journey and He travels right beside us. The big key in this new element is that we no longer live for ourselves but we live for Christ –
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Once we accept the identity of God in Christ and understand what selfless sacrifice and salvation looks like we must then align ourselves with Him. This is the pilgrim’s progress on the journey to Holiness (becoming fully like Christ). If we accept this truth as a Christ-follower then we can discard the false teaching of prosperity. Let me clarify this too: The worldly prosperity false teaching which has entered the church is based upon human selfishness and greed. But what if we were to take “Self” out of the equation? What would happen then?
The Answer to Prosperity Preaching:
Taking “Self” out of the equation and following John the Baptist’s example when He said “He (Christ) must become greater; I (John the Baptist) must become less.” (John 3:30) We can then begin to understand the true prosperity of the Kingdom of Heaven. Selflessness brings us one step closer to Holiness in our reflection of Christ. But what is the purpose of such a leap? Why become selfless?
There are two basic reasons:
(Godly Relationship – Us)
1) It takes the focus off of our earthly fallible sin-sick desires and re-aligns them to Christ’s which in turn opens our hearts for a deeper, richer, Agape Love. We begin to see our intended purpose in our fellowship and growing closeness with God through Christ.
(Godly Relationship – others)
2) As we grow in closeness to God in our selfless state we begin to see the struggling lostness of the world around us and are compelled by His love to reach out into that darkness.
The false teaching of Prosperity in this world forgets to continue reading a pivotal verse in this erroneous teaching:
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)
Myth: If we ask the Father for anything on our wish list and if we possess faith enough in His presence it will be given. What we need to recognize and combat in this false teaching is that what ever we ask in HIS NAME is for the purpose of Glorifying God. So how does winning the lottery glorify God? How does praying for that new car and wishing God would just give it to us glorify God? It doesn’t.
We must guard ourselves against this false teaching. Stop naming it and claiming it. God doesn’t work like that. When we remove self from the formula of Christ-following we begin to grasp the depths of the true prosperity of the Kingdom. God wants us to fully rely on Him and to ask Him for help and guidance, just beware of how we ask and for what purpose we are asking. The Christian life, post salvation, may not look like a Mary Poppins world. We may still have some rough breaks ahead, but God goes with us into those dark valleys and troubles. He will strengthen us and guide us and pour upon us His richness of grace in the process.
Fellow Christ-follower, don’t buy the lie of these false teachers out there who want to sell you a pipe dream. They will only lead us astray from truly following selflessly the Christ who gave it all for the lost so that they may be saved…can we do the same?
-Just a thought.