Prosperity Not Gospel

When John the Baptist came preaching in Judea, he did not have even a shirt on his back. The Bible says:

“And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”  (Mat. 3:4)

The man was that poor materially. Moreover, John went on and preached, saying:

“He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” (Lk. 3:11)

When Jesus lived here on earth, the Bible says of Him:

“The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Mat. 8:20)

And, pray, what have we here today? We have preachers who own private jets and million-dollar homes and cars and who claim to preach the same gospel that John and Jesus preached.

Aw, c’mon! C’mon!!

[Prosperity preachers are not much different from this fellow. Scheming and conniving to get their paws on their material “dues”]

Advertisements

“Much Tribulation”

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,

22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:21-22

What would you rather have preached in your church?

Today, the church has a wide range of choices when it comes to what people want to hear. But this wide range of choices is a dangerous thing for all these things cater to the flesh. The Apostle Paul warned his young protégé Timothy:

“3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

To which he added an admonition:

“5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

Notice that “endure afflictions” is firmly tucked in there. We may have a choice today, but the early church did not have the luxury of hearing what they wanted to hear. No doubt they, just as much as we, would have liked to hear a “soft” gospel, one which promised them a comfortable and trouble-free life here on earth and eternal life in the hereafter. But God would not allow that, for in surrendering to the flesh there is no life.

The apostles were men sent of God. They had in their hearts a revelation of Christ, Christ crucified. They therefore had only one message to deliver:

that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

I wonder how you can reconcile this Biblical message with the man-made messages of financial and material prosperity, promotion and whatnot. In today’s gospel setting, it seems you are not allowed to upset people. It is more important to talk about the “abundant life”, whatever that is, than the suffering that we are to endure for the gospel’s sake.

But if we live, we live for Christ, and if we die, we die for Him also. This is borne out by the example of the Apostle Paul himself who, when addressing Timothy, writes:

“16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me… 17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” (2 Timothy 4:16-17)

It would have been wonderful to read that God delivered Paul from harm in order that Paul could continue living his own life. But this account states otherwise. It says here that God preserved Paul in order that he might continue preaching the gospel. God preserves us for a purpose – His purpose. There is no place in scripture to believe that God preserves us in order that we might continue doing our own thing here on earth. God preserves us in order that we might preach and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is for this reason that God brings the cross into our lives. The cross is God’s plan for mankind. The cross involves all the things listed in 2 Corinthians 12:10:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

In this gospel, people will stamp on you and you will tried and tempted in many different ways. And God expects us to take all that patiently.

The Bible makes clear that you can enter into the Kingdom of heaven minus many of the things that we think are important in our lives – financial success, promotion at work, healing; Jesus even said you can enter with one eye and one hand (Mat. 5:29,30) – but you cannot enter the Kingdom of God without living out the cross in your life. The Bible says that we must through much tribulation enter into God’s heavenly Kingdom. That means suffering and bearing with a lot of negative things in our lives as believers.

That being the case, how about we begin thanking God for the problems instead of wishing them away. We might have been taught otherwise in the mega-churches; but we just might find we are on the right track here. Actually, the Bible says we are.

“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

To exhort means to encourage. You encourage someone when they are undergoing challenges and hardship. The Christian life is a challenge. Living the Christian life is actually the greatest challenge there is in life. The reason for this is because this challenge is not necessarily about physical or material deprivation. Rather, it goes deep into the nether parts of our souls and challenges us there. Here, the deepest things of our hearts are challenged. Here, our pride is challenged. If you are white, your whiteness will be challenged. If you are an African, your Africanness will be challenged. If you have a greed for material wealth like the rich young man we read of the other day that will be challenged also.

These and other carnal traits are the things that make up the un-Christlike character in us, and God wants them out of our lives. God sends us His servants to exhort us to bear with hardships for the gospel’s sake. They encourage us to die to self and to our lusts. After we are truly and fully dead, the grace of God – which is the life of Christ – will increase in us, and we will be able to please God in every area of our lives.

[What would you rather have preached in church?]

Image16536

The Reluctant Slave

Many years ago I read a story about a man who was taken into slavery into a faraway land, and when he was taken into slavery, it so happened that he was taken straight to the king’s palace. He lived there for many years, working as a slave.

In those days, it was customary for a slave to be redeemed if his kinsfolk brought to his masters sufficient wherewithal to redeem him. During the time that he was enslaved, this man’s relatives worked and worked until they got enough means to redeem their flesh and blood.

After those many years, the relatives started on the long journey to the strange country to redeem their brother. On arrival, they were well received, as was the custom in those lands. They were washed, fed and treated very well throughout the night. In the morning, they brought their agenda to the king’s hearing and, upon hearing it and upon weighing up the wherewithal his relatives had brought, the king had only one answer: “The man is free to go.”

The man was asked to pack up and leave, but to the surprise of everyone, he refused to go. He told his relatives, “I have lived well here in this palace, far much better than I did back home. Furthermore, I know there will be – and there are – people back home who still dislike me, so I am not ready to go back to all those problems. I am comfortable here.”

His relatives were shocked by his answer and they began crying and beseeching him to consider them, his own flesh and blood; but he would not. He remained adamant and they had no option but to leave without him. They went away crying loudly, sorrowful that their brother had chosen to remain in slavery rather than to go live in freedom together with his own kith and kin.

Not long after this saga, it was reported in that faraway land that the king was seriously ill and, soon afterwards, he died. It was also the custom in that country that when the king died he had to be buried together with his favorite servant, alive. And so, therefore, while burial arrangements were being made, a council was set up to determine who should be buried with the king. It didn’t take long for the council to conclude that the servant whose relatives had recently come to redeem had been the king’s favorite servant. It was therefore declared that this man, having been the king’s favorite servant, would have the honor of getting buried alive with the king.

When the news reached the servant, he couldn’t believe his ears. He was shell-shocked. Not, of course, on account of the news that he was the king’s favorite, of which he was well aware; but of the fact that, being the late king’s favorite servant, he would be buried alive alongside the king. The latter was a fact that he was not aware of although he had lived in that country for a long time.

He tried to plead for his life. He told his new masters, “My brethren, whom you saw here recently, will be coming again to take me home.” But it was to no avail; his name had already been officially proclaimed.

In a desperate bid to save his life, he tried to escape, but he was apprehended and locked up. Finally, the day of the king’s burial arrived and the king was finally laid to rest, together with his favorite servant. As was the burial custom, the servant was buried alive, standing up straight, in honor of the king.

This man had recanted his flesh and blood to remain with a foreign king, and the reason he gave for denying his brethren was because he was living a comfortable life and did not want to suffer any problems! In the end he died – alone, in a foreign country.

This story reminds me of what is happening within the church today. It reminded me of the dangers of those who would not allow themselves to suffer for Christ’s sake. In particular, it reminded me of those within the church who would push aside the gospel of the cross in favor of other gospels. The revelation of the cross is the believer’s flesh and blood. We do not preach another Christ, however comfortable he is:

But we preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23)!

If you hold onto your life, you will be denying Jesus Christ, for He Himself said,

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” (Mat. 16:25)

The comfortable gospel of prosperity and bodily welfare is probably the one true menace to the church today. The prosperity gospel “bodyslams” the gospel of the cross. It enslaves God’s people to this world. Philippians 3:18-19:

“18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)”

One day, this gospel will die, and those who are deriding the gospel of the cross will be buried together with it. And so will all other gospels that are not lined up with the gospel of the Apostle Paul:

“20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Phil. 3:20-21)

When Jesus comes back, He will not be coming back for those who cling to the welfare gospel. He will be coming to take with Him those who have walked the strait and narrow road, those who loved Him and denied themselves.

[And now, for your listening pleasure]

Looking to Others’ Gain

Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. Phil. 4:17
If you gave me a gift or came to my help in any way, I would feel extremely thankful to you. The reason for me being grateful is because you would have gotten me out of a jam. In other words, I would be thankful for me.
But, clearly, it was not so with the Apostle Paul. When the Philippians came to Paul’s financial and material need, he thanked them. But he thanked them, not for his sake, but for their sake. He had already stated:
“11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (vs. 11-13)
The Apostle Paul was a true servant of God. He looked not to his own profit, but to the profit of others. He looked to the profit of those whom God had placed him over. And, even more importantly, he looked to their spiritual profit, rather than their material profit.
“Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”
The “account” Paul is talking of here is the heavenly account, not an earthly one.
Most high-profile preachers today are looking to their own profit – material and financial. I have heard of preachers whose congregations have “rewarded” them with Rolls Royces, multi-million dollar mansions and even private jets. The reason these preachers grab at these “gifts” is because possessing them justifies the gospel that they preach – the prosperity gospel. They have, of necessity, to provide the prime example of the gospel that they preach through their lavish lifestyles.
How so noble of them!
In like manner, Paul also became the paramount model for the gospel he preached. But, praise God, Paul’s gospel was not the prosperity gospel. On the contrary, it was the gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ. His was a gospel that required total denial of self.
Total denial of self… This reality tops the list, of all time, of things that are easier said than done, by any man anywhere on earth. The fact that Paul could deny himself to the extent of not wanting to receive things from his flock for his own gain speaks volumes about his spiritual character. That is not what a natural man would do.
But, even more astounding is the fact that he saw and desired for the Philippians far into the Spirit, that their fruit might abound in the Spirit on account of what they did in the natural.
“Not because I desire a gift…”
How so telling of the character of a true man of God! But, even more significantly so,
“… but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.”
Where are such men of God? Even amongst we who have shunned the false gospels of worldly men, where are the men and women who can run such a distance in the Spirit? Whom among us can deny themselves to such an extent? Where is such love to be found?
Paul’s words are rare indeed in this present world, and they present us with a challenge – a challenge to know and to walk in the true revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Then, the church will have a reason to praise and thank God for the rare gift that such men and women are to the church.

Deception vs the Cross

I don’t know when this video was taken. Nevertheless, I thank the Lord Jesus Christ so much! The people in this video are men and women whom I would not, in a million years, have the faintest chance of matching in terms of brainpower, power, status or worldly wealth. (There are people here being asked for a single donation of 10,000 U.S. dollars!)

And yet, thanks to the grace of God, even though I am light years away from their class, I cannot imagine being scammed on the massive scale that these people are being scammed. Not that I am judging them. On the contrary, my heart goes out to them. These are people who had not the revelation of the true gospel of Jesus Christ – “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) – in their hearts. They probably had never heard it preached. But, again, in their day, there probably was no teacher of the gospel who taught this revelation.

But, today, God has brought to light the gospel of the revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ and it is spreading all over the earth. And yet, even today, there are equally level-headed people – God’s people – who are being conned on an even bigger magnitude than what we witness in this video clip.

I have no words to express my gratitude to God, who delivered me from gospels of preachers such as these, who do not have the revelation of the cross in them; to whom, I hasten to add, I was once enslaved.

“(The Lord) brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” (Ps. 40:2)

It is a sad tale, the tale of where today’s men of God have taken the church to. They have taken God’s people back into the miry pit.

Sadly, everything in this video clip – the beautiful piano music, the soothing voice of the man speaking in the background, the preacher’s well-modulated intonations – are all used to euthanize the minds of the people this preacher is targeting.

The Ruse

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom. 12:1-2

I am thinking that if I were a writer of fiction, the title that I have come up with for this post – The Ruse – would bring in all the big book publishers crawling at my feet. Just thinking, though.

But what I am about to write in this post is stranger than fiction. Let me begin by saying that I am really peeved by the lie that prosperity preachers use to justify their incredible wealth and excessive lifestyles. They use the phrase: “We’ve paid our dues!”

To which my response is that as far as the gospel is concerned, there is only one way to pay your dues. It’s right there in that scripture above. The only due you owe God is to be transformed.

Jesus said much more, of course. He said to go sell all that you have. And please don’t ask me what scripture that is, you can check them all up in the Bible, they are so many.

But let’s backpedal just a little bit… What do these preachers mean by “I have paid my dues?”

I cannot answer for them. But I do know for a fact that this is a line that they use to draw in easy-to-fleece Christians. They tell them: “I can afford to buy a $16,000 dog because I have paid my dues to God. See? You are failing to even eat two solid meals a day because you have not paid God His dues.”

It’s a ruse.

Because, poor people, when they hear that someone can afford to buy a $16,000 dog because he ‘paid his dues’, they do the mathematics and they cannot believe how much more they can receive from (wherever) if they were to “pay their dues” also. So they go and clean out their bank accounts and bring the money to these wolves in sheep’s skins!

Believers swallow this ‘paying dues’ ruse hook, line and sinker. Particularly if the preacher is gifted with a gift to entertain (from the devil, of course). And many of these preachers have more than the gift to entertain. Some can even lie barefaced. You ask, ‘Where can I find a genuine, bona fide barefaced liar preacher?’

My answer: the best place to find them, especially the big ones, is on TV. And on the internet, of course. They are there 24/7.

One other thing: these preachers have the gift of sinning. They are professionals in that art.

People, it requires one to have crossed the lines of believing in voodoo-ism for one to believe that prosperity preachers are preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ! For even an ordinary drunkard seated with his beer at the bar will tell you that these ‘preachers’ are nothing but fraudsters and swindlers.

There is nothing like ‘paying your dues’ in the gospel. Probably there is such a thing in the world; but not in the gospel.

In the gospel, we have been saved by grace. And that grace – through the revelation of the cross – teaches us that, “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Tit. 2:12)

In this blog I always come back to the reason the Apostle Paul would preach no other gospel except Christ, and Him crucified. We can walk all the way to the Antarctica and back, but we still will find the cross waiting for us. It is best to choose to humble ourselves, at whatever stage of our salvation we are at, and take up our cross and follow Christ – that we may become partakers of God’s grace.

[Below: The Ubungo Intersection in Dar es Salaam]

Image4466

Prosperity Gospel – The Bane of The True Gospel

1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 2 Pet. 2:1-3

Personally – and I ain’t too much of a person, but thank God for this blog, because here my voice can reach out from the wilderness – personally, the thing that riles me most in the church today are the prosperity preachers. Nothing vexes my spirit more than these people. In a word, they are charlatans. They are fraudsters and swindlers. And they have hoarded the gospel TV, where they are spilling out their shame for all the world to see and the world is having a field day slandering the Name of the LORD. (What do you think the world thinks when they see a larger-than-life preacher announcing on prime-time TV that he is divorcing his wife? C’mon!!)

These preachers are the curse of the gospel. People generally make fun of the devil, thinking he is a clownish old grandpa. But he is not. If these preachers originate from him – and they do – then the devil is not someone to fool with. He is deadly.

The Bible calls these jokers “false prophets”. Now, we all know that falsehood will not take you far. The prosperity gospel is not taking anybody anywhere. Just a few miles down the road, and they run into the quicksands. That is why there is so much sin stewing in these prosperity churches. There is so much divorce, and preachers themselves are divorcing and remarrying like the castanets.

Let a preacher teach and preach the gospel that the Apostle Paul preached, and I vouch that he will never go through this spiritual foolhardiness in his life, nor hear of it in his church. Sin will be dealt with! Paul told the sinning Corinthians, “What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” (1 Cor. 14:21)

A rod? That was to deal with sin in the church. And Paul was speaking in the Spirit.

But, of course, I might as well be talking into the wind. This is because prosperity preachers are people who have come with a mission of their own and they are intent on carrying it out. Moreover, they have brought their agenda into the church stealthily, which proves that right from the beginning, they had never had any intention of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are, in fact, anti-Christ. The Bible said long aforetime that they “privily shall bring in damnable heresies”.

“Privily” means secretly. These people are in cahoots with the devil, and they know full well what they are doing.

What is their agenda, anyway? I heard one prosperity preacher say, “The notion that a preacher should be walking in sandals and riding on a bicycle is foolish!” In other words, they teach that a child of God should live the high life materially. That is their agenda. And they use the Bible to bring in these damnable heresies into the church.

“And many shall follow their pernicious ways…”

The word “many” here refers to the rise of the modern-day mega-church. God saw these things long before they would occur, and He described them exactly as we are seeing them today.

During the Early Church, the mega-church was the church of the cross, as we see from the Book of Acts and the apostolic epistles. But that was because the falsehoods had not yet been introduced into the church. Once the falsehoods came in, God’s people quickly embraced this easy gospel. Fewer and fewer were willing to pay the cost. And thus rose the new mega-church – the church of the un-cross.

Today, the mega-church is not a place where sin is dealt with. I am not saying they do not preach against sin. They do, but there is no power in these churches to deal with sin. Where the gospel of the cross is not being preached, there is no power to deal with sin. As a result, the gospel of Jesus Christ is maligned in the world because of sin within the church of Jesus Christ.

In the meantime, prosperity preachers spend their time teaching about the tithe!

Lastly, let us look at verse 3:

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

Why is it that God has reserved severe judgment against these preachers, a judgment which will unquestionably befall them, and swiftly? (With God, “swiftly” could be an entire lifetime!)

In the Old Testament God said,

“If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.” Deut. 24:7

With all their voracious Bible-searching, preachers still cannot put two and two together! But it is difficult to have your head on straight with the dollar sign swinging in front of you.

But notice:

2 Peter: “…make merchandise of you”;

And here, in Deutoronomy: “…maketh merchandise of him”.

These two statements are alike. They are talking of the same thing.

In the Old Testament, the general punishment for a thief was to pay double the amount he had stolen (Ex. 22:7, etc). But God made exception to the thief who would “…be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him”.

The punishment for that particular thief, God said, was death!

The situation today is far worse in the Spirit than it appears. Prosperity preachers – under the New Covenant – are not simply stealing from God’s people; they are stealing God’s people. What does that mean? It means that apart from stealing their property, they are also stealing their souls. When you preach a man a false gospel you are stealing his soul. And when you steal someone’s soul you effectively just killed them.

And for what reason are these preachers doing this? It is so they can become rich! Prosperity preachers are extremely wealthy. If you didn’t know that, you must have just dropped in from the moon!

One of these preachers is so rich he went to Rome to donate money to preserve the works of Michelangelo. Yes, the man supports the works of Michelangelo with money that he has taken from God’s people!

Personally, I think that for a man to do such a thing, there is a certain amount of arrogance involved. Another owns  a $16,000 dog. And so on and so forth…

People, these are facts! and they probably are among the less shocking ones.

But thank God, He is not deaf, He is not blind – and He certainly is not dead. Soon he will deal with these prosperity fraudsters who have brought their damnable heresies of money into the church. He will judge them, and throw them into hell. That’s what the Bible says.

Prosperity preachers have only one option: to repent. No excuses, no “You don’t know what my ministry is doing around the world” (a smokescreen); just repent and leave off deceiving God’s people. If you want to continue preaching the gospel, lose your life, and teach God’s people to do the same, for this is the revelation of the gospel that has come to the church under the New Covenant.

Jesus looked upon the Jews – God’s own people – and He grieved deeply because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Equally so today, God’s people – the church – are like sheep without a shepherd.

But the Shepherd of our souls calls out to us… He calls out to us through the revelation of the cross. There is only one true gospel: the narrow road that Jesus and the apostles taught. If we come to Christ but are unwilling to lose all, we will fall into the hands of the devil and he will destroy us.

But the gospel of the cross liberates us to serve the true living God, and to do so in freedom.

The gospel of the cross is the true mystery of God, and it was for this very reason that Jesus said, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Mat. 11:15

Finally, I wish all my readers a lovely weekend.

[Below: The new Dar es Salaam – Bagamoyo Road]

Image4461