The Health and Wealth Gospel by Bill Stough


“Just name it and claim it,” said the preacher. “God wants you to be prosperous and healthy. If you want more money,” he went on, “just ask him to send it to you.”

This type of sermon is very appealing and is taught by many evangelists, although sometimes very subtly. But is it the truth? Does God really give money to those he favors? If someone is in need, is that evidence he has some secret sins and God is withholding blessings?

God certainly will take care of our needs. Jesus was telling us in the Sermon on the Mount to trust God for our needs and not money.

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Mat 6:28-34)

There is a difference between providing for our needs and providing for our wants. Every parent is faced with that when his child wants all kinds of things, but the parent knows some of those things are not good for him. The child could grow up to be a bum or criminal if he gets all he wants, so a good parent oftentimes denies him, and provides what is good in the long term. God is that way also. We don’t want trials or character built under pressure. We want money, ease, and “the good life.” But our heavenly Father knows what we really need.

Beware of preachers who teach the prosperity gospel. Prosperity in God’s view includes the gift of eternal life and spiritual opportunities in this life. It is a lot more than money.

Hebrews 11 is a chapter on faith, and lists many heroes in God’s sight. Note these verses and ask how this squares with the idea of the health and wealth gospel:

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-- the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:35-40)

Be very careful about judging others for lack of “prosperity,” and thinking something is wrong with them spiritually. In my more than fifty years as a Christian I have often noticed that the strongest Christians are those having the most trials. Christ is working with them and creating his own likeness within them. And was Jesus the richest person on earth when he was here in the first century? In one way he was, but we could not determine that by money.

I lived in southern California in the 1960s. Quite often a minister who went by the name of Reverend Ike ran full page ads in the Los Angeles Times. He would talk about how following him and what he preached would bring you big money. One of his ads included a poem that I considered so outrageous that I remember the gist of it to this day. It went something like this:

“If you want pie-in-the-sky,
In the bye-and-bye,
When you die,
Reverend Ike is NOT your man.
But if you want MONEY,
And you want it now,
Then Reverend Ike is the man for you!”

An approach like that is blatant and clear about what he is preaching. Modern preachers of the health and wealth gospel are more subtle and slicker. But they are not preachers of the gospel Jesus taught.

Follow God, and only follow men as they follow Christ. Always be alert.

Volume 10 Issue 2 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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