Saturday, July 02, 2005

# 9: A Message for Evangelicals, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God, etc.

It is extremely important to be absolutely certain that our lives and beliefs are in accordance with the New Testament Scripture, and not only in harmony with what our church pastors/ministers preach. That is to say, anyone who is serious about their Godly devotion must make sure they are not being tricked or deceived. This is truly a life-or-death situation. Repeating, the only way we can tell is by comparing our personal value system with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

When going through the four Gospels and Epistles, not one positive or good word is mentioned concerning financial or material prosperity for Christians. According to any good dictionary, the words “wealthy,” “rich,” and “prosperous” are synonymous: having more than one needs. We must remember that in this ungodly world, prosperity is the most coveted lifestyle. Jesus said, “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” Luke 16:15.

Contrary to the comfort and security wealth gives, much is written on the benefits of being needy for Christ’s sake. One might ask, “Is there something ludicrous with Jesus’ teaching?” Some might think so. We must remember that the word “prosperity” is a euphemism (pleasing and modern synonym) for the word “greed.” One’s rebuttal might be this: Is it wrong to be prosperous and at the same time be generous with that wealth by giving 10% of one’s income to his or her church? Answer: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were wealthy and they were disciples of Jesus. Agreed, but how long could they hang on to their wealth/prosperity once they became active disciples, with all the poor Christians in Jerusalem? Not very long.

Quoting the book of Acts, “There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need .” Acts 4:34-35. Another refutation goes something like this: The wealthy can give more money to their church than the poor or average person, making them more valuable. Answer: yes, while the prosperous live it up, indulging in their wealthy, wasteful lifestyle.

Then others will point to the wealth Abraham and Solomon had, as depicted in the Old Testament. That was before the Christian era. Christ made it extremely clear, over and over again, that being prosperous and being His followers clash. One more alibi to legitimize Christian prosperity: The Apostle John in his letter to Gaius writes, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well,” 3rd John, second verse, New International Bible. The out dated King James version reads this way: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

It is certain that the Apostle John is not referring to financial prosperity, which some claim. Remember that the Apostle John was in the company of Jesus for three years and knew well all the nasty things Jesus said about wealth. There are many reasons for the negative effect of wealth on Christians, but the main reason is that the Christian community has or should have equality in distribution of wealth to whomever is in need. Another argument is that money talks and has power to override what is right and just in God’s sight. Still another rebuttal is that the prosperous were in better standing with God, because God blessed them with money. If that were true, then all Christians would desire God’s blessing of wealth, so they too could put more money in the church coffers and give God the credit for their prosperity, all the while living it up (the good life).

Another argument goes something like this: God wants the very best of everything for His people. Granted, the very best is spiritual wealth: to be like Jesus. That is the paradigm that every genuine Christian should make as their holy grail.

Therefore, it can be emphatically stated that there is not one word in the New Testament to substantiate or legitimize financial or material riches. That is not to say a wealthy person cannot become a Christian, but to remain wealthy is where the heresy starts. This statement will be extremely hard for wealthy people to swallow. It is easy to understand that anyone who relinquishes their wealth for the sake of being obedient to God’s word must be out of their mind according to the standards of this world. And that is what it will take for the rich to become genuine Bible-believing Christians.

Therefore, we all must let the millions of people entrenched in the prosperity movement know that they are treading on a deceptive and deadly theology.

To determine if what is written in this short essay is true or false, click on the Table of Contents post # 2 “Hard-Edged Bible Verses.” That would be a good section to copy. Show it to your church leader(s). Ask for a response. Or give it to a friend who is caught up in the prosperity movement. Or give them the address to this blog. Get involved. Let us hear what you believe.

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