Q. My question deals with the prevalence of “The Prosperity Gospel.” Some of the well meaning proponents of this suggest that if one is sick, or poor, or even dies untimely, it is evidence of a lack of faith. I find it offensive, and am troubled because some people I love have stated this. I am hoping you will address this for the Church. Thank you.
A. It’s true, the Bible does support much of the Prosperity Gospel teaching. The Lord has promised to meet all our needs (Matthew 6:33) to heal us (James 5:14-15) and even to make us wealthy (2 Corinthians 9:11). But there are conditions to each of these promises, and in failing to teach these conditions, Prosperity Gospel teachers are misrepresenting the Word of God.
It’s clear that we come into the blessings of Scripture as we yield our lives to the Lord. For example, Matthew 6:33 says that the Lord will provide for those who make seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness their first priority. To me that means placing our entire life in His hands and doing the things He directs us to do. How many of us live this way?
Paul said by giving generously (2 Corinthians 9:6) and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7) we will be made rich in every way so we can be generous on every occasion (2 Corinthians 9:11).
People I know who are being blessed in this way live relatively simple lives and happily give away as much as half of their income. They understand that the Lord blesses us so we can give to the needs of others, not so we can enjoy a luxurious lifestyle while people around us suffer. They also know they’re storing up treasure in Heaven, where it will last forever (Matthew 6:20) instead of wasting their treasure on the things of this world. How many of us give this way?
And just about every time the Lord healed anyone, He said that it was their faith that made it possible. How many of us really believe that the Lord will supernaturally heal us? How many of us have ever even seen anyone healed this way?
In Romans 8:28 Paul said that God works everything together for the good of those who love Him. The word translated love there means to be totally given over to Him. How many of us love him this way?
In summary, it takes a commitment to developing and maintaining a very close subordinate relationship with the Lord to fully activate these promises, yielding every aspect of our lives to Him to do with as He pleases, just like Jesus did with His Father. This kind of love was much more prevalent in the years after the resurrection. It’s extremely rare today, but clearly necessary, and for that reason many prosperity gospel teachers who don’t explain these conditions will have to answer for their misleading instructions (James 3:1).