Beamers, Benz’s, and Bentleys. Mansions, maids, and millions. These terms are synonymous with the prosperity gospel. If you’re new to planet earth or haven’t watched television during the past ten years, here’s a simple definition of the “prosperity gospel” to get you up to speed: Jesus Christ minors in saving sinners, but majors in making you healthy, wealthy, and happy!

With a gospel centered on what Jesus Christ can add to your bank roll, prosperity preachers are infecting the minds of desperate people, and cashing in more than ever. The results? Millions of people have the wrong idea about Christianity and money.

This issue used to be just a few big name preachers but simple internet search will reveal that it’s no longer just the likes of Creflo Dollars, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, or Joyce Meyer who are raking in millions by exploiting people. TV networks have launched shows like, Preachers of L.A., and countries like Nigeria have their very own Top 10 Richest Nigerian Pastors list. The globalization of the prosperity gospel has people in third world countries rushing to fill stadiums in hopes of receiving a “breakthrough” from a self-anointed false teacher.

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The third world has become a favorite target for prosperity preachers. They fly in on private planes, stay in presidential suites at the finest hotels, and then grace the stage at crusades claiming, “Healing is yours, health is yours, money is yours! Give to ‘Jesus’ and He’ll do for you what He has done for me” (obviously a paraphrase but hardly an inaccurate one).

Just a cursory glance at men like Benny Hinn’s ministry calendar  will show that he can no longer pack American hockey arenas with 20,000 people, but he can draw 150,000 to his crusades in places like Indonesia and Brazil. This massive global impact means that thousands of international pastors, government leaders, and desperate people, will potentially buy into the theology or buy one of the overpriced gimmicks on Benny Hinn’s website like special Israeli anointing oil for the low price of just $45. This theology and it’s ancillary products are a deadly poison of deception that point away from Christ!

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There was a time when a small group of holy-water selling, Bentley-driving “pastors” were the laughing stock of the real gospel ministers and regarded as fringe scam artists. But now, even political figures know how to tap the evangelical vote.

Donald Trump knew that the best way rally evangelicals was to get forty of the richest pastors in a room to support him. Enter Paula White, Joel Osteen, and countless others who were said to have represented “the mainstream evangelical” voter.

Clearly there are no limits on just how far prosperity preachers will go to cast up their shameful foam (Jude 13).

So what does Jesus have to say on the subject? Does real faith have anything to do with getting rich?

There are plenty of passages in the Bible that talk about money, but Luke records a conversation between Jesus and His disciples that puts the prosperity gospel to shame.

Let’s take a deeper look.

In Luke 12:15-21 Jesus teaches.

And He said to them, “Beware, and be on guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable saying, “The land of a certain rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ “And he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take up your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool!’ This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ “So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

When God calls someone a “fool”, it’s best to do the exact opposite of whatever that “fool” was doing.

In the following verses (Luke 12:22-34) Christ sets the record straight.

1. DON’T WORRY ABOUT EARTHLY NEEDS

Luke 12:22 Jesus said, “For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.”

This is downright counter-intuitive but it’s the best way to live! Prosperity preachers will tell you to give big to them and receive big for you; to give $777.77 if you want God to give you your “breakthrough”, and to order their anointing oil and rub it on your monthly donation if you want God to bless you! These bold faced lies are backed by greed.0

Jesus says an anxiety-filled rich man built some barns for security and right as they were completed God took his life and he never got to enjoy them. Because treasures on earth are fleeting, because only treasures in heaven last, because you don’t know how long you’ll live…don’t worry!

Seven times in the gospels Jesus commands, “Don’t worry!” Don’t be anxious, solicitous, over-occupied, concerned about earthly things. Paul hits this hard in Philippians 4:6-7 saying, “Be anxious for nothing!” Now, that’s a statement to stew on, don’t be over-occupied by any earthly thing…

Jesus says not to be worried about your life, what you will eat, or what you will wear. He’s mentioned three common areas of worry: 1) Stomach 2) Strength 3) Style. Imagine in history how much money has been spent attempting to better those three things! How many new year’s resolutions have been set around those three things! How much counseling, medication, and stress mgmt. books have been taken over those three things! How many gym memberships, insurance policies, teeth whiteners, diet plans, compression pants, all for those three things!

Does that sound remotely supportive of the prosperity gospel? It’s not even close.

2. LIFE IS MORE THAN EARTHLY NEEDS

Luke 12:23-26 “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?” 

Jesus says to get beyond trivial pursuits and realize that you could starve to death but your life would still continue on in eternity. Jesus expanded on this in Matthew 10:28 when He said, Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Who cares about the body if your soul goes on to eternal torment? You’ve wasted your life on bad theology.

Picture Jesus pointing over to some birds explaining that if God provides for an end-of-the-food-chain animal, which has a pea-size brain, with a purpose unto His glory, how much more so does He have a plan for you, a person made in His own image!?

If you believe in God, and have trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, then life becomes far more than earthly pursuits and more stuff.

Worrying about things can’t extend your life one hour so fretting over every menial matter is a waste of time and energy. You came to earth with nothing and you’ll leave with nothing no matter nice your casket clothes are, or how hard you try to stop it with anti-aging creams, cosmetic surgery, valiant exercise, and your Paleo diet. God has numbered your days and that’s that.

So can a “faith-seed” or special offerings buy you another minute of life or less anxiety? No. But on the flip side to that, this doesn’t mean that a vow of poverty, quitting your job, ceasing from advancements, and hiding from all riches will give you peace either. God is not interested in how much money you make or how much money you give…. He wants your heart!

3. GOD KNOWS YOUR EARTHLY NEEDS

Luke 12:27-28Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothes himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will he clothe you?

If lilies don’t sweat, and they don’t sew, yet they’re more splendid than earth’s greatest king, can’t God handle your needs? Those wild flowers would be burnt with manure in the clay kilns yet God created them with a purpose. And, if God puts that much energy into something with an inferior purpose, imagine what He thinks of you…

Then Jesus explains his whole point:

Luke 12:29-30 “O men of little faith! And do not seek what you shall eat, and what you shall drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.

This isn’t a simple worry issue, it’s a serious faith issue, because worry means that I don’t trust that God is who He says He is, or that He can do what He says He can do. When I don’t trust God, it’s an assault on His person and power! That’s why Jesus points out the difference between the faithful follower and the pagan in this passage. Jesus is contrasting two different hearts:

The heart that trusts God vs. the heart that trusts itself.

4. SET YOUR ATTENTION ON ETERNAL NEEDS

Luke 12:31-32 But seek for His kingdom, and these things shall be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

Instead of “seeking” earthly things, instead of wanting what the pagans do, instead of building a reservoir of belongings, instead of security in stomach, strength, and style, seek earnestly heavenly things and all the other stuff will take care of itself!

Make it your all consuming charge to trust Christ, to know Christ, to obey Christ, and to share Christ.

Christians are different from everyone else. Christians don’t let fear reign any more because God the Father has chosen gladly (delights in, pleasures in) giving you the kingdom. Isn’t that great? God made you, and He’ll provide for you. God purposed you, and He’ll gift you. God knows your end, so you aren’t leaving planet earth until you finish your work for Him.

Luke 12:34 “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

You see, there it is. Your heart and subsequent trust is either in earthly things or heavenly things. If you’ve ever privately questioned your faith in God, simply reflect on your attitude towards giving. Do you love to store up on earth or do you love to give towards heaven?

Jesus never promised that this life would be perfect, and that you would be healthy and wealthy – no matter how much you give.

What He did teach is that if you’ll trust Him with your heart, and invest in His true kingdom, heaven’s treasures are your eternal inheritance.

 Any belief system based on temporal blessings is absolute foolishness.


Portions of this post are from the sermon manuscript of Pastor Anthony Wood. Sermon Series: Treasures. Sermon Title: The Treasure of Trust : Luke 12:22-34. Originally preached on Sunday January 15th, 2017. To listen to the sermon in its entirety, click the link below:

Sermon Link: http://subsplash.com/missionbiblechurch/v/erzudyd

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Posted by Costi Hinn

Costi is the Pastor of Adult Ministries at Mission Bible Church in Orange County, CA. Costi is married to the love of his life Christyne, and has two children. You can follow him on Twitter @costiwhinn.

3 Comments

  1. Costi,

    Thank you for this post. It is tragic not only that so many of the hurting, sick, desperate, and poor people (and widows) are being exploited by these false teachers for their own personal financial gain but also – and even more tragic – that the Gospel itself is being distorted. I’ve always wondered what it is in the life of the Apostles that makes people think God desires for them to live a life of ease. A cursory reading of 1 Corinthians 4:11-13 and 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 makes it pretty clear that the Apostles did not exactly live a life of financial prosperity or enjoy perfect divine health (Galatians 4:13; 1 Timothy 5;23).

    I am sure you will take heat for this post. Anytime we speak the truth those in opposition to it will not be pleased. One Person is always pleased, though, when we speak the Truth and He is the only One Whom we must please. We speak the Truth and trust God for the results. Be encouraged my brother. You have millions of brothers and sisters all over the world who join you inn your love for Truth.

    Justin Peters

    Reply

  2. […] resources from Costi Hinn found at “Equip The Saint”,  https://equipthesaint.com/2017/01/24/god-greed-and-the-prosperity-gospel-part-two/ Source: Costi Hinn, contributor at Pulpit& […]

    Reply

  3. A few thoughts to consider : Luke 12:31-32 But seek for His kingdom, and these things shall be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom – Matthew, Mark and Luke describe Jesus in certain light – The Messiah in Matthew and like any King His lineage which allowed Him to ascend to the throne legally. In Mark the book describes Him as the sacrifice, and Luke speaks to the man who is Jesus – the servant. All three books are directed at the Nation of Israel and not the church – the church was never chosen to receive the Kingdom of Heaven. Although we are partakers of the covenant by adoption through faith in Jesus Christ – the original covenant which was made with Abraham promised the land. Our portion, for the church, is to return with Jesus and reign with Him. Currently the church reigns through Jesus, but when He returns to establish His Kingdom we will reign with Him over the people of the land – the Nation of Israel. So in these books Jesus’ message is to the people of Israel – the Jews and not the church. How do we know this – because I dont want you to take me at my word – I want you to see it in the Gospel:
    The promise was first made to Abraham (Genesis 15:18), then confirmed to his son Isaac (Genesis 26:3), and then to Isaac’s son Jacob (Genesis 28:13), Abraham’s grandson. The promised land was described in terms of the territory from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates river (Exodus 23:31).
    *Genesis 15:18 On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.
    *Genesis 26:3-24 “Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. “And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;
    *Gen 28:13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.
    *Exodus 23:31 “And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the sea, Philistia, and from the desert to the River [Euphrates River]. For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you.
    *Matthew 10:5-7 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
    * Matthew 15:24 “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” or in the NLT: “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”
    * Romans 15:8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.
    There are many more scriptures which confirm that Jesus came first for the Nation of Israel and therefore the teaching in that day – at that time was for them. If you read the OT concerning the prophets – none of them saw or prophesied about the Church age – only Jesus – God saw this. Jesus came first to offer the promise of the land and the promise of the Messiah to the Jews. Even His instruction to the Disciples was to go out to the lost sheep of Israel and not the Gentile or the Samaritans. When Jesus gave His sermon on the Mount – it was not for you, the believer in the body of Christ, the church because the Kingdom of Heaven and the Messiah was being offered to the Nation of Israel – the church age had yet to come into it’s time.
    Now, why was this so important to God to send Jesus to Israel first?
    * Matthew 16:6 Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
    * Echoed again in Luke 12:1 “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy
    God’s chosen people and the true religion of His people had been perverted by the Pharisees and the Sadducees and Jesus came as the Good Shepherd (remember their are none good but God) – Jesus came as man – God in the flesh to bring His lost sheep back to the flock – to rule over them and the world as King and set them on the correct path – these teachings are for the Nation of Israel who took the law as an instruction rather than a sign to show them they needed a Savior – they needed God. Just as God had led their ancestors from Egypt through the desert and had provided for them even in their disbelief, in their grumblings and their murmurings – even after they created a false god to worship – even after they questioned that God had cleared the land before them – God still provided and kept His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because He was faithful to them.
    When we teach the church that what was meant for Israel we unavoidably create confusion in the church – and because Israel was so entrenched in the law they rejected their Messiah and crucified Him which brought in the church age. The Kingdom of Heaven was placed on hold and the Gospel was carried to the Gentile nations in addition to Israel and those who believed were no longer counted as Jew or Gentile but Believers. Today, when we teach that which was under the law – Israel – and still is under the law of Moses – we are teaching incorrectly – when we teach confession of sin instead of confessing Jesus – we teach incorrectly. When we teach repentance of sin instead of repenting of my self efforts to righteousness and believing in Jesus and righteousness by faith – we teach incorrectly.
    IF – the Nation of Israel had accepted their Messiah, then Jesus would have taken His rightful throne through the lineage of King David and the Jews would have been judged, under the law, by Jesus on the Mercy Seat – the throne of David. However, Jesus was rejected by those Jews of that time and He was crucified and judged for all mankind on that day by God once and for all. For those who believe in the finished works of Jesus they have a sacrifice and through that sacrifice God has judged Him in their place and found them righteous and has acquitted them of all guilt at that point in time forever. But, those who rejected Him and for those who reject Him today – there is no sacrifice – no High Priest petitioning God on your behalf – no one to stand in judgement for you – therefore you will be judged on that day in the future under the law. That person may say – I let my conscious guide me and God will judge them by their conscious or they may state that they followed God’s law and they will be judged by the law which is Holy – but man has proven that he cannot meet the bar of the law under the standard of God. The believer, who has the sacrifice has already been judged and although you will stand before the Bema seat (the Throne of Jesus) you will not stand in judgement because Jesus was judged in your place and you have been found not guilty – righteous – pure – deserving – reconciled – perfect in the eyes of God from the foundation of the world because you judged Him faithful and believed that His promise was true. The church is under the new covenant – which is an extension of the covenant with Abraham and God. We are partakers of the new covenant which was brought by Jesus – The law came through Moses but Truth and Grace came by Jesus. The law is a thing – but Truth, Grace and Faith are a Person – Jesus Christ and we believe that He is faithful to us in all things. So, even though we are partakers, the land was promised to the Nation of Israel – God’s plan for the church is to be the bride for Jesus and to come back and reign with Him in His Kingdom. The Nation of Israel will be our subjects with Jesus. The type and shadow of this can be found in the story where Abraham sends his servant (type of Holy Spirit) to find a bride for Isaac. In this time, the Holy Spirit is searching for the bride for Jesus – that is you and every other believer in Jesus – remember He will return wearing many crowns and we know that a valorous wife is like a crown to her husband. This happens for the church after the rapture and during the 7 years of tribulation – we will not be on earth – we will be in Heaven in our glorified bodies.
    * Galatians 1:6-9 Gal 1:6 I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. Paul was so adamant that the truth be taught that He pronounced a double curse on those that taught anything else, even posing as an angel of light, from God.
    Those who teach a prosperity gospel for greed and completely reject Jesus will fall under the judgement and full wrath of the Lord. How we deal with it in the church – the body of Christ – does not include teaching them what was meant for Israel but what was meant for the church. How do we fight the principalities of the spiritual realm? We put on the full armor of God as stated in Ephesians and we stand – we stand with the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God – this is how the church stands against false prophets, false prosperity gospels, and wrong doctrine. We do not fall victim to the law, we do not teach what was meant for the Jew – we teach what was meant for the church. Here is what the church needs to know about prosperity:
    *Deu 8:18 “And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. How do we remember the LORD God? Through faith in Jesus. Who gives us the power to get wealth? God through faith in Jesus. Why does God give us this power? In order to establish His covenant which He swore to our fathers – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Remember we are partakers of the promise by adoption through faith in Jesus. Therefore, if we are intent on establishing His covenant – for the glory of the Lord – He will give us the power to get wealth. That is the covenant of Truth and Grace through Faith in Jesus. God did not swear a covenant of law to the fathers – Moses was not a father of Israel – Moses was not allowed to cross into the promise land – so we know this is not the covenant of the law – but is the extension of the Abrahamic covenant brought in by Jesus, which is Truth and Grace.

    Amen,
    J Arnn
    Jewish Studies for Christians

    Reply

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