How Death, Disease, and Rape Refute Prosperity Gospel Messages

People are quick to call out the popular Houston-based preacher as a prosperity gospel teacher, but why do they fail to see it all around them?

Prosperity gospel messages come packaged in all kinds of flavors. Here are a few examples:

  • God wants you to be rich.
  • If you just believe enough God will do anything you ask.
  • If you pray enough God will make sure you get the right job.

Here are some to offend the religious ego, but they’re still prosperity gospel messages:

  • If you tithe, God will bless you. Test Him on this, sayeth the Lord.
  • God heals anyone who believes and fully trusts Him.

There are thousands of bible verses that are taken deeply out of context, and when lifted up all alone even sound true. But they’re not true, even when spoken by famous preachers.

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The promises of God are not financial success, physical healing, or protection from the junk planet earth throws our way. The promises of God are that we have been healed from sin and saved through faith.  The promise of God is through it all He will never leave us or forsake us. The fact is, no matter how faithful you are, or how hard you try, we live in a fallen world and sometimes we get hurt by it. And yes, contrary to the popular teaching, God DOES allow things to happen to us that we can’t handle. Just ask a mom or dad that lost their baby.

Imagine sharing any of the able prosperity messages with the poor, rape victims, or children with cancer:

THE POOR: the gospel should be the same no matter where we are geographically. Imagine being on a mission trip in some country where the Christians are poor and hungry. Would you say they don’t believe enough or that they don’t love Jesus as much as you? No. The truth is they probably struggle far less with coveting than you and I, and they likely love Jesus just as much, maybe more. The fact is, no amount of believing will guarantee them being rescued from their circumstances.

RAPE VICTIMS: Would you tell a Christian woman who had been raped that it would not have happened if she only had more faith? If so, do you really think every Christian woman that has ever been raped was guilty of too little faith? But happened to ‘faith of a mustard seed”? This kind of teaching would cause huge doubt in women who were raped by some vicious man. They would think it may have been their fault. The truth is God doesn’t take the free will from any human, and unfortunately, sometimes that free will is used by evil men/women to harm Christians (both of small and big faith).

CHILDREN WITH CANCER: So many precious children suffering from cancer and yet they still love and proclaim Jesus. How do you explain this? Weak faith? Not enough good deeds? No! The answer is simple – we live in a world that is filled with sin, and as long as we do EVERY human will eventually die. Our bodies are broken are subject to age and disease. Sadly, some pass sooner, and I can’t explain why, but I will reject any idea of ‘just believe enough and you’ll be healed’. It’s just not biblical – at least not in context. And I sure hope you would not teach children with cancer a message like that.

Yes, God blesses us. Yes, He sometimes heals us physically. Yes, He sometimes blesses us financially. But the idea that He always does this for those with just the right amount of faith and/or effort is an inaccurate flat out bad teaching.

Some of today’s greatest Christians have refused to back down from their faith and were publicly beheaded and tortured. Heck, Jesus Himself was beaten horrifically and killed on the cross. The Apostles went hungry, were beaten, and killed. Were they weak in faith?

The fact is, if you’re a believer, Ephesians 1:3 tells us “we have EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ”. You see, the promise is ‘spiritual’ blessings, not necessarily ‘earthly’ blessings. However, our joy is found in Christ, not our earthly circumstances. It doesn’t matter how much effort you use running after God, if your joy is found only in worldly circumstances then you’re in for a roller coaster ride.

The Apostle Paul tells a story of being content even in the worst of circumstances because he learned to lean on Jesus and depend on Him in all situations. Paul was jailed. Beaten. Hungry. Broke. Afflicted. And he was possibly the greatest Christian of all time.  Yet, he tells us in Philippians 4:13 that Jesus was how he found joy even as planet earth made his circumstances very miserable.

[Philippians 4:11-12]  “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with HUMBLE MEANS, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going HUNGRY, both of having abundance and SUFFERING need“.

And next, he gives us his solution to it all…..

[Philippians 4: 13] “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”.

The only true prosperity gospel message is forgiveness of all your sins, through faith. So much forgiveness that it will never run out. You’re literally standing in grace and your hope is in what has yet to come. It’s revealed when we exit this broken world and leave our broken bodies. Now I know death doesn’t exactly sound like a ‘prosperity message’ but if you believe John 11:25 it just might. You might also consider the question Jesus asked in the verse that followed.

[John 11:25-26]  

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me WILL LIVE even if he dies,  and everyone who lives and believes in Me will NEVER DIE. Do you believe this?

Author: Mike Cynar

Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.

It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.

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