I always get questions about prosperity gospel every November. That’s probably because every November, Victory has a four-week preaching series on finance and the moment we listen to the sermons, we can’t help but think of the verses that talk about Christianity and money. The questions come in different forms but the gist always boils down to this: are we preaching prosperity gospel?
My short answer is no, I don’t think so. We simply have finance series every year to preach what the Bible says about money.
There are two obvious signs that a church endorses prosperity gospel (John Piper lists six): (a) when it doesn’t have a serious teaching on the necessity and normalcy of suffering and self-denial (Acts 14:21; Romans 8:23; John 15:20; Romans 8:13; Phil. 3:8); and (b) when the pastor teaches more on the power of human declarations (like speaking your destiny into existence) than the power of the Word of God. There are many other signs but these are some of the heavy ones.
In our church, we have never shied away from preaching the wide range of Biblical themes: pain and suffering (Hole-Hearted Series), obedience and submission (I Wish Jesus Didn’t Say That Series), missions (Uncharted Series), discipleship (Radical Series), compassion to the poor (Who Cares Series), sexual purity (Uncensored Series), hard work (Thank God It’s Monday Series), and the holiness of God (Set Apart Series). On top of that, we also tackled Christology (Past Perfect Series), Pneumatology (Behind the Seen Series), Eschatology (The End Series), and Spiritual Disciplines (Cross Training Series). When you evaluate whether or not a ministry endorses prosperity gospel, look at a wider sampling of its sermons over a longer period of time, not just the two or three weeks that made you squirm.
The purveyors of prosperity gospel wouldn’t preach Christ-centered messages like the ones mentioned above. Their doctrine of health and prosperity clashes with the reality of suffering which Jesus, Paul, Job, and Jeremiah endured. The message they preach always revolves around the power of man’s words: confess it, you’ll have it; command the blessings of God to go this way and that way; speak your destiny into existence; live your best life now; and call forth security, health, and success. They also teach that being poor is sin and for God to bless you, you just need to buy this [overpriced] book, attend this [powerful] conference to unlock your destiny, or sow financial seeds into the pastor’s private jet. These are mesmerizing promises. They sound nice to our ears, but they also cater to our greed and materialism.
Our current preaching series, The Fine Line, does the exact opposite. The theme focuses on contentment, our true security in Christ, generosity, and looking at money through the lens of eternity. These are not get-rich-quick schemes and empty promises. These are gospel themes that come right out of the pages of the Bible.
The reason why we are so easily deceived by prosperity gospel is because it wears Bible verses while it pampers our greed. In the outside it sounds like truth but the core message is poisoned apple that is meant to steal, kill, and destroy. We can’t just stand around and let that false gospel go unchallenged. Our finance preaching series is our way to fight it head on.