One day Steven and I were sitting at the table, and I was showing him some YouTube videos of a guy named Clayton Jennings who does these amazing video posts called Spoken Word. Steven decided to show me a video of a christian rapper, Shai Linne who rapped about the prosperity gospel, calling some out by name.
You might be like me and not one for rap music, but I am so glad I listened to this one. Not only does he call out these false teachers by name, but he backs up what he is saying with the truth of the Word. Matthew 7:16; 3, 2, Peter 2; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 Timothy 6:9-10. I have heard people defend some of what they say because it seems good and has a positive and uplifting message, but I love Shai Linne’s lyric where he says, “And you’re thinking they’re not the dangerous type because some of their statements are right. That only proves that Satan comes as an angel of light. This teaching can’t be believed without a cost. The lie is you can achieve a crown without a cross……It’s called selfism the fastest growin religion. They just dress it up and call it “Christian”. Don’t be deceived by this funny biz. If you come to Jesus for money, then he’s not your God, money is! Jesus is not a means to an end, the Gospel is He came to redeem us from sin, and that is the message forever I yell”.
2 Corinthians 11:14-15 says, “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” This is huge, and I believe this is why so many people fall into these false teachers because they are so good at manipulating and deceiving others. For example, Joel Osteen will say something like, “God knew there would be unfair situations. That’s why He’s already arranged a comeback for every setback, vindication for every wrong, a new beginning for every disappointment.” This is what is so sneaky about false teachers. At first glance, this looks great, but if you really examine what he is saying, you see where he is misleading his audience. There is truth in this quote because through the death of Christ, we are represented and vindicated before God; however, that doesn’t carry over into our interactions with humanity. On Earth, there will be unfair situations that never get resolved, and without Christ, we are sinful and don’t deserve vindication. For example, a friend of mine was molested as a child, and the man walks free. It is doubtful that this will change, but I know that our God is just. So while there is a lack of justice on Earth, I know that in heaven, there will be divine justice; therefore, my friend can find peace while she is here on earth; she can find peace in knowing that one day that man will stand before The Throne and will get his due justice and punishment. So, can you see how sneaky these little quotes and phrases can be for us to listen and believe?
Getting back to the name of this post, “The Prosperity Gospel: Who Does It Really Prosper?” lets take a look at finances between Joel Osteen and John Piper.
Net worth: $40-50 million
Income from the Church:$200,000 before the year 2005
Income from book sales and related stuff: An advance for just one of his books was $13 million, $55 million in book sales and related stuff
Home: $10.5 million mansion
Travels: Flies on his very own private jet
Net Worth: Unknown
Income from the church, as stated by Piper himself: “$25,000 was more than I needed in 1980, and when my salary broke $100,000 for the first time in my last year at Bethlehem, it was more than I needed.”
Income from books and relates stuff: Piper states, “With the successful sales of Desiring God starting in 1987, I saw that there could be substantial income from writing and speaking. I resolved that I should not keep this money for myself but channel it to ministry. I never doubted that the Lord would provide us with a salary that would be sufficient for our family. So I saw no reason to keep the money that came in from the books and speaking. These royalties and honorariums were being earned while I was pastor of Bethlehem, and so it seemed the church should benefit from them, not me privately…Since these royalties were technically in my control as the copyright holder, giving all of them to the church made me liable for income taxes. So we created a foundation. The Desiring God Foundation now owns all the copyrights of my books and intellectual property, and receives and distributes all the income. I have no access to the money at all.”
Travels: Flies commercial airlines
In this article John Piper is asked, “Why shouldn’t a pastor of a growing and thriving church earn more money as a reward for his hard work and incentive to stay around? After all, the church would probably suffer financially and numerically if he left.”
His answer is so great he says, “My question is: Why would a pastor want to get rich? Jesus said it’s hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom, and Paul said that those who desire to be rich ‘fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction’ (1 Timothy 6:9). These texts, and many others, dispose me to think: my soul, and therefore the good of the church, will be far better off if I put governors on my accumulation. That “hard work” you mentioned is work for the advancement of Christ’s mission and the good of the church. And every pastor knows that even if ‘I worked harder than any of them, it was not I but the grace of God with me’ (1 Corinthians 5:10). And huge waves of this grace break over us from the prayers and partnership of the people in our church. Not only that, but while I am speaking outside and writing, my staff is covering for me in dozens of ways. That investment of time could have focused more directly on the church. It wasn’t. The last thought in my mind was,They owe me. They didn’t. I owed them. To this day, I know that Bethlehem Baptist Church was more a gift to me than I was to her.”
Osteen says, “I put no emphasis on money, but I don’t believe God wants you to live defeated barely getting by.”
Piper’s view is completely and totally opposite on this, he says: “The Bible steers a middle way between destitution and opulence: ‘Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God’ (Proverbs 30:8-9).
When Jesus said, ‘Blessed are you who are poor’ (Luke 6:20), he meant: God will show himself especially precious and powerful for the poor who trust him, not the poor who don’t know the Lord (‘These are only the poor; they have no sense; for they do not know the way of the LORD, the justice of their God,’ Jeremiah 5:4).
It would be a mistake to assume all the poor are humble or generous. The ten lepers were all poor. Jesus healed them all. Nine proved ungrateful (Luke 17:17). The rich have no corner on selfishness. But it would also be a mistake to think that the Bible treats riches and poverty as equally dangerous spiritually. Riches are more dangerous. We never read, ‘Only with difficulty will a poor person enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 19:23).”
Notice that Piper follows up EVERYTHING with scripture. In all that he says his goal is to point his audience back to God. He preaches the gospel not to prosper himself but to prosper God. So, we should therefore be mindful of the preaching we are subjecting ourselves to: are they pointing their audience back to God in all they say, using the scriptures as their backbone for their message? Also, if their messages seem to always be positive and never mention the suffering and persecution that comes with being a believer, then it’s quite possible you are listening to someone who is preaching the prosperity gospel. John 15:18-20, 1 Peter 4:13, 2 Timothy 2:3 and 3:12, Romans 5:3-5,John 16:33 all speak of the suffering, trials and tribulations that we as Christians WILL face on earth. We are NOT promised a great and wonderful and amazing life, that is not why Jesus came to earth, it is not why He saved us.