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What is the "Prosperity Gospel?"

Updated on June 9, 2015

What does the Bible say about the “Prosperity Gospel?”

The prosperity gospel seems to mirror some greed sects infiltrating the early church. Paul and other apostles frowned upon false teachers who spread such false theology. They identified them as false teachers. Instead of stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it.

Gaining Financial Freedom

Most of us have heard the myth money is the root of all evil. Although money can be used to accomplish much, it's actually the love of money that is wrong.

The “prosperity gospel” is an extremely controversial issue today. Some say Satan uses it to his advantage while others preach it wholeheartedly. Could the truth be somewhere in between?

Have you ever thought if you had enough money all your problems would disappear? Some have discovered financial wealth can bring a myriad of problems. The truth is satisfaction in one's life doesn't come from the amount of money they have, but wisely managing it.

There are also those who believe you must borrow to establish good credit references. However, this isn't always necessary. Many financial institutions are glad to extend credit. Most likely because of the inflated interest rates they will be charging you.

Trustworthy Spending

We must first know how to manage the financial resources God has given us. There are a few questions we should ask ourselves before making any purchase.

  • Do I truly need this?

  • Can I buy this without using credit?

  • Can I buy this cheaper somewhere else?

  • Will it help fulfill God's purpose for me?

We must always remember since God created everything, everything belongs to Him. The prosperity gospel isn't all wrong. There are some correct aspects every believer should know. On the other hand, some “prosperity preachers” have an ulterior motive, their own financial gain.

Is financial freedom God's plan?

As Christians, we don't want to be selfish, but how can we still find financial freedom to support our church and families using godly principles? A common misconception is we shouldn't be concerned about money.

We often quote the Bible, which says "the love of money is the root of all evil" and you "cannot serve two masters." It's true we shouldn't worship money, but that shouldn't keep us from being good Christian stewards of all our resources, including finances. We don't want to be unduly burdened by debt but free in Christ! Financial planning is an important part of good stewardship.

We could quit our jobs, sit at home, and pray for money. We all know that's not the way things work. Even the apostle Paul worked as a tent-maker while he preached the gospel. We need to seek Christian financial planning that follows ethical principles. Some ideas are obvious, such as tithing. Christian financial planning is a godly concept and part of being a Christian steward.

Over half of the parables Christ told dealt with finances. The foundational message conveyed concerned material things, pointing out they were not so much problems as symptoms. He constantly admonished us about greed, covetousness, and pride. These are Satan's favorite tools.

Today, Christians still judge others by how much they have. The poor are seen as losers. That may be the worlds concept, however the Bible has much to say about that and material wealth.

If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;

Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely” (Leviticus 26:3-5).

What can we glean from these verses? It should be obvious the principle being taught is obedience. By following God’s commands we will gain blessings. These will include financial security, physical safety, and overall well-being. God provides for us. However, the moment we forget these things were provided by God and not through our own efforts, we’ve stepped into the trap of pride. The same trap as King Nebuchadnezzar.

One day he looked out over his kingdom with satisfaction and pride. It was time for God to teach him a lesson. The account is found in Daniel chapter 4.

The hoarding of worldly material wealth, according to God's Word, is a poor investment as an end in itself. There is no correlation between wealth and happiness. In fact, many of the world's richest people are the most unhappiest. Although they may not admit it, many Christians are inwardly jealous about the riches others have.

Let's take a good look at some of the myths concerning money. Some believe poverty is next to spirituality. The Bible never compares the two. However, God does condemn misuse or preoccupation with money. In fact, God sees money as a spiritual gift. Although money can bring some happiness, it's temporary. Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:17.

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”

Having money isn't a sin. The Bible shows many cases where God provided great wealth to those having a proper spiritual attitude.

Many often misquote 1 Timothy 6:10 understanding it to mean money is the root of all evil. What it actually says is:

"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

God's message to us is when you begin to love money as a priority, everything including God, puts God in second place and that is idolatry.

A good number of Americans say their biggest problem is financial bondage. It's clear excessive debt leads to bondage. In biblical times if someone owed money to a creditor and couldn't repay him, the lender had the right to incarcerate them until the debt was paid. Additionally the lender had possession of everything the debtor had, including his wife, kids, property and anything else they owned.

However, while the issue of wealth has instigated heated controversy throughout the church’s history, today the subject is mostly ignored by Christians in the West. We have regarded personal finances as a matter too sensitive to address. It's only on the question of giving can Christians be guaranteed any financial freedom.

Jesus sternly expressed this when he made a clear distinction between the love of God and love of money.

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24).

Wealth can be a barrier to our faith. We shouldn't regard it as the ultimate source of security in our life. We know it's a natural human instinct to desire financial security. But when we place it before God our declarations of faith will ring hollow.


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    • serenityjmiller profile image

      Serenity Miller 

      3 years ago from Brookings, SD

      Thank you for your thoughtful treatment of this topic, John. Indeed, money in and of itself is not evil... in fact, a LOT of good can be done with it. If we could focus more holistic attention toward a comprehensive biblical approach to money management, instead of popularizing a few Scriptural catchphrases taken out of context, imagine the benefits of good stewardship that could be shared with all. Instead, we see an ever-deepening debt culture fixated on self-preservation. Why the vicious cycle?


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