Over the last 25 years that I have been a Christian, I’ve met a lot of different Christian people with a lot of different thoughts and ideas. I’ve been in quite a few different types of churches, with different kinds of teaching emphases. Online also, you will encounter many very sincere and dedicated Christians who believe that anything to do with the “prosperity gospel” is ipso facto HERESY, and so its like “Run away!” I’m sure I’ve also met some real scammers and con-artists who were into “Name-it-and-claim-it” type doctrines. The Word of Faith churches also tend to quite welcoming towards rich people of dubious ethics who are made to feel quite comfortable and appreciated as they hear messages extolling the value of money and getting the power to get wealth without calling people to a corresponding level of love, self-denial and sacrifice for the Kingdom’s sake.
But I am not interested only in what I see. I am interested in the whole counsel of God. I want to let the Word of God, not my experience alone, be the determining factor concerning the things I say and believe.
Let’s get something straight from the outset. We are called to DO THE WILL OF GOD and its super important for us to ACTUALLY DO IT. That means, we need to cast off all kinds of sin, and live pure and honest lives of integrity and righteousness by the indwelling grace of God that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. I don’t really care how many benefits you can extract for yourself or even for others if you are not committed to being truly submitted to God and His Will. Lets start with that foundation, for Jesus says:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
Do you believe this? Jesus is saying that it matters what you actually DO. Of course, without FAITH, NOTHING you do will please God anyway. For Hebrews 11:6 says “Without faith it is impossible to please God”. Impossible. So we need to DO things that correspond with having FAITH. The kind of faith that doesn’t DO the will of God is a “dead faith”, a “faith of demons” who believe in God, but do not love Him. James says that such a faith cannot save you. Whatever else you may have faith for, make sure you take hold of the faith and the grace that will enable you to DO the will of God.
Having financial prosperity through God is no more a guarantee of heaven than is casting out demons, healing the sick, or prophesying. Only the obedient sons of God, the overcomers will not have their names blotted out of the Book of Life.
“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. “ (Revelation 3:5)
Now then, on this basis, we can put aside the issue of whether or not we like this or that prosperity Word of Faith teacher, all the things he says, or if we believe he is truly serving God or not, and we can focus on the question, “Does God want me to make positive confessions about prosperity and finance?”
This question should be settled by the Word of God alone.
About the Sovereignty of God
There are many Christians, especially the followers of Augustine and John Calvin, who have particular views about the Sovereignty of God which they use to virtually overrule anything the Scripture says about human responsibility and personal sovereignty. There is the idea out there that what we say and what we believe isn’t going to affect what the LORD God has decided to do anyway. In this thinking, God is micromanaging the affairs of the world and even your sins are part of his eternal plan to save or damn whom He wills. You may think then that you have significance and your life makes a difference, but it is only an illusion. In this view, whatever good you did, you did because God virtually MADE you do it, and whatever evil you do was also God’s plan somehow. To these Christians, the idea that you might have control to some extent of what happens in your life is a denial of the “Sovereignty of God”, especially in matters spiritual. I will argue (perhaps in another place) that this viewpoint is both counter-productive and untrue. The Scriptures, taken as a whole, do not force us to think this way.
I want to ask a simple question: “Is God, the Sovereign LORD of the Universe, ALLOWED in your view to create a Universe in which personal outcomes depend not only on His decree, but ALSO on the decisions, thoughts, words and actions of His creatures?” Is God allowed to make such a Universe or is He not allowed? If you say, “He is not allowed to” it is YOU who are denying the Sovereignty of God! God is not obligated to follow YOUR IDEAS about Sovereignty. He is not obliged to micromanage everything in order to do things the way YOU say He must. Neither can the Scriptures be used to establish that this is the way God has exclusively chosen to operate. Clearly, God is able to exercise an overarching sovereignty over history and the affairs of men WITHOUT micromanaging and determining everything. If you doubt that God is capable of doing this, IT IS YOU who have God in a box, it is YOU who are making God small, it is YOU who are trying to force God into your limited one dimensional thinking on this matter.
What does the Bible say?
The Bible emphasises BOTH the capacity of men to affect things, and THE possibility of OVER-RULING INTERVENTION by God in the affairs of men. I would say however, that God generally only intervenes when INVITED TO DO SO through the prayers of men. The reason for this is that “The heavens belong to the Lord, but the EARTH He has given to the sons of men”.
So where can we see Scriptures that show that our words can impact and steer the course of our lives? Here are some:
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit. “ (Proverbs 18:21)
“Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” (James 3:4,5)
“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. “ (Matthew 12”:36(
If our words have no impact, then why would God bother to judge us for every idle word?
The fact is, our words have power.
“For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. “ (Mark 11:23)
I think it is fair to say that it offends God when we SAY things that imply that God is bad, that God is unfaithful, that God does not keep His promises and so on.
So if God makes promises to us who are in Christ, but we say “No, it ain’t going to happen” then WE are doing the wrong thing.
Far better, I would say, to affirm that what God said IS true, by specifically mentioning the things that He HAS said, and reminding ourselves of them. We should inform our minds and spirits of what God has said.
God commands us, especially spiritual leaders to speak what God has said.
“Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. “ (2 Timothy 4:2)
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. “ (Joshua 1:8)
We are supposed to keep God’s words on our lips one way or another.
“As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.” (Isaiah 59:21)
Does God want us to Have Financial Abundance?
Again, let the Word of God speak for itself.
Talking about financial giving, Paul writes: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. “ (2 Corinthians 9:8)
“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 2)
“Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. “ (Proverbs 4:7)
And concerning wisdom it says:
“Length of days is in her right hand, In her left hand riches and honor.” (Proverbs 3:16)
There are going to be times of relative lack however for apostolic people who “seek not their own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:33), partly because of the selfishness of Christians, and partly because God wants our faith to be tested, but these seasons are not supposed to last forever. Paul knew how to be abased and how to abound. If only we can maintain humility and dependence on God, it is much better than finance and resources flow so that we can abound in all kinds of GOOD WORKS. These things please God.
What we have to learn is how to GIVE. That way, the income and wealth we receive will not end up becoming a curse instead of a blessing.
I think we do well to be extreme givers towards the purposes of God that tend towards the salvation of others. We would be smart from an eternal perspective if we heavily invest in the MEANS OF SPREADING THE GOSPEL.
Because Satan is fighting all this, and probably doesn’t need the help of Christians, although he sometimes gets it anyway, the whole thing still won’t be easy. There are trials of our faith.
But none of that takes away from the fact that GOD WANTS US TO TALK AS IF HIS PROMISES ARE TRUE. God has made promises to supply seed to the sower (2 Corinthians 9:10), that is, resources for the spread of the gospel. Even if sometimes seems that the entire visible church should have practically united to serve ITSELF rather than the urgent needs of the gospel work, God is still able to supply for those people who dare to believe His Word and go in His name.
Our words as God’s servants have great importance here. We can speak to mountains and they will move. We can praise our God through declaring His faithfulness and thus release the power of God into our situation.
I conclude that in order to follow the wisdom of the whole counsel of God, we should, amongst many other things, confess the promises of God that relate to prosperity and finance. In fact, it is likely to make a HUGE DIFFERENCE to our lives and the lives of others if we persist in doing these things, no matter how mentally tough it may seem at times. Let’s hold fast to the confession of our hope in all areas without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23).