32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
33 I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.
34 Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 10:32-35
There are many gospels that are preached today in the name of Jesus. Amongst the most well-known of these is the prosperity gospel. Today, nearly everyone in the Christian world has heard of the prosperity gospel. The minute you mention “Prosperity gospel” everyone knows what you are talking about. It is that popular.
The prosperity gospel is vast in its scope. It has given birth to many different branches and sub-branches of teachings and beliefs. Most of the great Pentecostal ministries today – whatever their leaning – have their roots in the gospel of prosperity.
But the prosperity gospel is an aberrant in light of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Because it is built on the premise of receiving, rather than giving. One of the most prominent preachers of the prosperity gospel, on being asked to justify the opulent lifestyle that he lives, replied, “We gave, we believed, we received”.
The object, therefore, of the prosperity gospel is to receive. In light of the true gospel of Jesus Christ which demands our lives, this perspective is simplistic, and ultimately fatal, for it seeks to turn the gospel of Jesus Christ upside down.
I have watched interview after interview of many of the prominent preachers of the gospel of prosperity, and whenever they were asked about their lavish way of life, none was ever able to provide a clear answer to this question. They mumbled this and that, but they always made sure that whatever they said was pretty vague. One of them managed to say, “… We are open!” before walking off and leaving the reporter – and the viewer – more bewildered than ever. Incredible. And yet a man of God ought to be seen to be open.
But the gospel that Jesus came to preach is totally different from the gospel of prosperity. Here you hide nothing, simply because you have no reason to. Your life is not your own; it is given totally to Christ.
Unfortunately, this gospel is less well-known, and this is because it is not popular among preachers. Few preach it. This gospel is so lacking in our modern churches that when you mention it most people will think you are a cultist.
And yet… this gospel is actually the real message of the Bible. It is the message that our Lord Jesus brought to His people. It is the gospel over which the Apostle Paul wrote that he would not preach another, except it alone.
Moreover, this gospel has a name: it is called
“Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2); or, the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ.
This is a gospel that desires nothing of this world, and is therefore the only gospel that can make us to fulfill the great commission which Christ gave to the church:
“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
God wants to light up in our hearts the knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ, who not only became poor that we might become rich, but who also gave His life to be a ransom for many.
That, as we see with the Apostle Paul here, was the heart that the early church carried.
Dare we, the present church, carry a different spirit? I believe not. Amongst the many gospels competing for our attention, we must choose, and we must choose the right one.
The right gospel can only be the gospel of “Christ, and him crucified”.
In conclusion, let me add a personal thought. I believe the reason that these rich prosperity preachers will never provide a clear answer as to why they own so much wealth is because, having arrived at their goal, they turn around and realize that what they have so joyously embraced is not the TRUTH!! In a way, therefore, they are embarrassed whenever someone asks them about the incomprehensible riches that they own.
[Below: Life in rural Tanzania: even owning a bicycle is a luxury to most people. But still many happily hear the right gospel]