“He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” Luke 1:52-53
One of my closest friends (sadly not yet a Christian – but I will keep praying for him) suggested that I watch an episode of the “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”. In this episode John Oliver exposes the fraud behind TV Evangelism (Televangelists) and the prosperity Gospel that they preach.
Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, or the gospel of success), is a theory (in the guise of a Christian Doctrine) that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to Christian ministries will increase one’s material wealth.
Televangelists claim that if people plant a “seed” (a donation to the Televangelists’ church) God will bless them (through other avenues) with monitory reward or healing.
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matthew 7:15
Through this “teaching” Billions of Dollars are being taken from vulnerable, poor and needy people, to pay for private jets, mansion houses and the lavish lifestyles of those claiming to be servants of God!
In his report John Oliver sets up his own religious movement “Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption” -to show how easy it is to take money from people in this way.
I want to initially start by reiterating (on behalf of John Oliver) that at the beginning of the report, he did stress the good work of the church and the important role it has in society. The networks attack was not on the “Church” but on the IRS and of course the fraudster Televangelists claiming to be ‘prophets’ and ‘healers’.
Although I am not naive to Televangelists and their deception, watching this report has made it more real to me. It has broken my heart to see the extent of which weak people are being manipulated and worse still it is being done in the name of our Lord Jesus! It has brought me to my knees in prayer.
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”
The “prosperity Gospel” argues that God wants you to be financially rich and it teaches that worldly wealth is a sign of blessing. The “prosperity Gospel” is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact it contradicts the very teaching of the Bible!
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:6 -9
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”
As Christians, we know that God’s blessing is not shown in financial gain, but in our contentment in what we have got (good and bad) by the Grace of God.
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:25-26
“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”
I received forgiveness for my sins freely from God. I did not have to pay anyone for Christ to work in my life! Yes my salvation came at great cost, but Jesus paid the price of that in full by the perfect sacrifice of Himself on the cross at Calvary!
The debt for my Sin has been written off by the King of Glory and as His servant I am indebted to Him for this reason, so how can I then hold others to account?
“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned to pay the debt. “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.” Matthew 18:21-29
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
Matthew 16:24 – 26
The Lord Jesus Christ was born in a stable in a poor rural village, not in a lavish castle in the wealthiest city. He left Heaven to come low, he did not fly in a private jet, but lived a life of poverty and was nailed to a cross for the Love of God.
As Christians we must be prepared to follow Him in such suffering, for we do not live for the blessings of this world, but for the promises of the next.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17
“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name”. Acts 5:41
“who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” Philippians 2.5-8
Ask yourself, would these Televangelists back what they teach all the way to the cross? Would they suffer Crucifixion as our Lord did?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
The Televangelists contradicts the very Grace of God! They say “go out and earn money, then send it to “me” and you will blessed!”
“Simon the Sorcerer” tried to buy God’s gifts and he was rebuked immediately. “Peter answered: ‘May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! Acts 8:20
The Bible teaches us that it is by the Grace of God, in Faith of what Christ has done for us , that we are saved.
We must never think that by paying money into a church, God will look more favorably on us, “for we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.
Yes, we are right to give money to the church so she can continue to proclaim Gospel truth, yes we must continue to support those who teach the Bible (correctly and in Love). Feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and helping the poor does cost money. But we must never think when giving that we can buy our salvation! For it is by Grace that we have been saved!
“Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
Money does not solve the problems of humanity! Despite our relative wealth in the West, we are still lustful, greedy and pride-driven people, we still lie, cheat and murder. This evil is innate in us all, the Bible calls it Sin, and it keeps us away from our perfect God. But in Christ, Sin is forgiven, this truth cannot be bought or sold, it is a gift from God and must simply be accepted by those in need.