Learnmore Zuze of Zimbabwe explores the fallacies behind a popular global heresy
A story is told of a dog that died. The owner loved his dog so dearly that he went to his pastor and said, ‘Pastor, my dog has died this morning. I have one request which, if you grant, I would be grateful for ever. Please, could there be a service for the poor creature?’
The pastor replied, ‘No, we can’t have a service for animals in this church. Our church is for human beings, not pets. However, try one of those new churches mushrooming down the road. Maybe they’ll accept such a request’.
The dejected man shook his head and headed for the door. Just as he was about to leave, he said, ‘Pastor, but do you think the pastor at that church will accept a donation of $3000 for his personal use, in return for doing the burial service?’
The pastor shouted, ‘Come back! Why didn’t you tell me all along that the dog was a Christian? Let’s have the service right way! Where is the dog?’
This story may sound funny, but it contains a deadly, Satan-induced cancer, eating at unsuspecting churches today. Whereas past Christians focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ and repentance, today’s followers are schooled to believe Christians should focus on the acquisition of worldly wealth.
The Prosperity Gospel (PG) teaches that God wants Christians to be prosperous financially, physically and spiritually, and that your physical possessions indicate your spiritual worth.
This false teaching has taken centre stage and is enjoying startling success. Its marketers have touched the hearts of millions of eager listeners seeking to escape the jaws of poverty.
Here are some typical statements of prosperity preachers: ‘Today’s service is on “Seven steps to prosperity”’; ‘receive your house, receive your miracle’; ‘the very moment you stepped in this church, poverty and sickness departed from your family’.
It is undeniable that many Scriptures speak of God’s blessings. However, tragically, PG peddlers myopically focus on those Scriptures only and show a great reluctance to understand the core objectives of the gospel.
Did Jesus implicitly or explicitly teach that his gospel would be a tool for earthly prosperity? Is the PG the urgent message the world needs in these last days?
Suppose there is a poverty-stricken father who has a family to feed and one day brings home a bar of chocolate, to the excitement of his family.
The next day he brings two more bars of chocolate, and again the family is very happy. The father continues to do this, but eventually his home runs out of all basic foods like mealie meal and oil, and his children become emaciated with undernourishment. What would you make of such a man?
There is nothing wrong with a father bringing home goodies for his family, but the problem arises when all that he brings home is chocolate. The PG, like chocolate, is being used to divert Christians from the life-giving message of salvation.
The biblical evidence against the PG is overwhelming. Jesus Christ said, ‘Do not build for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust can destroy’ (Matthew 6:19-20); ‘you cannot serve God and money’ (Matthew 6:24); ‘how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Luke 18:12).
The PG’s popularity is no accident. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). This false gospel was designed to distract people from the true gospel; its earth-focus makes the second coming of Jesus Christ seem like a non-event.
Money is a master which demands to be served. Satan has a field day when he sees Christians mindful of the earthly riches that Christ rejected (Matthew 4:8-10). The rich young ruler valued his wealth so much that he was willing to lose Christ for it (Matthew 19:22). You cannot serve God and money.
The PG mischievously teaches that being born again spells an end to poverty, pain and suffering. There are testimonies in the local press from people claiming they were always sick and poor until they turned to Christ, but this testimony is not from the God of the Bible.
God never promised that conversion to Christianity would makes us immune to the sufferings of this present world. On the contrary, Paul’s conversion to Christ marked the beginning of untold sufferings.
Paul once belonged to an elite group that persecuted Christians. But, after conversion, his life was filled with suffering. He was flogged countless times, fought wild beasts at Ephesus, endured inhuman jail conditions and eventually died in prison, all because of Christ.
Paul also wrote: ‘People who want to get rich fall into temptation and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction’ (1 Timothy 6:9).
This sinful world is not a place to build mansions and drive obscenely expensive cars. Jesus Christ endured excruciating pain here, as well as betrayal and being forsaken.
If ever there was a man who could have amassed wealth through miracles and attain outstanding prosperity, it was him. He could have raked in all the gold in the world and enriched himself as a PG example for his followers, if it was true. But did he?
Today’s Christians should realise that there is an intense battle for the control of our minds. We must worship and serve the Lord God alone.