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Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/
The Prosperity Doctrine

 

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Prosperity-2
 

The Prosperity Doctrine
Part II... The Whole Counsel of God

Carol Brooks

    Index to All Sections

    Section I: Introduction and Origins
    You Are Here 001orange Section II: The Whole Counsel of God
    Section III: Supposed Proof Texts. Rhema Vs. Logos
    Section IV: Joel Osteen.. The Blind Leading The Blind
    Section V: General Principles, The Tele-Evangelists
    Section VI: In The Service of God OR Mammon, Covetousness and Greed, The Crown Without The Cross? What Happened to Prayer?, The Sovereignty of God
    Section VII: Conclusion
     

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    ON THIS PAGE

    The Whole Counsel of God
    What it Means
    If Positive Confession Is True... The Scriptures Are Full Of Ignorant People.
    A Perplexing Issue... The Prosperity Of Godless People

     


    What it Means
    As the Time Magazine article stated..

      Prosperity's defenders claim to be able to match their critics chapter and verse. [7]

    ...which is not the point.

    It is simply not good enough to do what Copeland and the other prosperity teachers do, which is to camp on their pet verses and tell their gullible audiences ‘There it is in black and white, so don’t listen to those prophets of doom who want to keep you poor and miserable'. However none of them take the time (or do not have the inclination) to integrate all the verses in the Bible pertaining to the issue.

    Sound doctrine cannot be based on isolated proof texts, but can only be developed within the framework of the total teaching of Scripture. One has to take into consideration the 'whole counsel of God', bear in mind that the Bible is an integrated whole, and let Scripture interpret Scripture. Anyone who doesn't do this is not interested in the truth.

    Which bring us to the original question asked by Time Magazine .. Does God want us to be wealthy?

    In order to be able to answer this with any degree of Biblical accuracy, we have to consider the whole counsel of God, which means we are going to look at this issue three different ways.

      1) See whether there are any clear examples of Positive Confession in the Scriptures, and, whether or not negative statements really result in negative results.

      2a) Since no Biblical author simply strung together a number of lofty sounding phrases disconnected from one another, and each verse is an integral part of a particular point the author was trying to make, we will consider the usual Proof Texts in their context. [See Context Is Crucial].  2b) When we come across verses where the meaning is obscure or unclear, we are going to interpret them by verses that are plainly written and clearly understood. 

      3) We are going to see whether the Scriptures agree with, or refutes, the general principles behind this belief.


      If Positive Confession Is True... The Scriptures Are Full
      Of Ignorant People
      If God wants His followers to be rich and healthy, then it is fair to assume that the giants of the Old Testament, as well as the original disciples and apostles (including Peter and Paul) had to have had at least some idea as to how these blessings of God were to be obtained.  So lets travel back in time, and see if we can find some evidence of "Positive Confession" in their writings. Also, whether the bedrock principle  that negative statements result in negative results, espoused by teachers of Word-Faith, is true.


      King Jehoshaphat:
      When a "great multitude" came against king Jehoshaphat he was so afraid that he called a fast and gathered everyone together to seek God's help (2 Chronicles 20:2-4). In his prayer he admitted they had no might against the great company that had come against them, and did not know what to do. Their only hope was in the Lord who had promised them this land. (20:12)

      Apparently his 'negative confession' did not have an adverse effect on the situation, since the Lord spoke through several people saying

        Fear not ye, neither be dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's...Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem; fear not, nor be dismayed: tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord is with you. (Vs. 15,17)

      Which is exactly what happened. The enemy alliance turned on each other and utterly destroyed themselves. [Vs. 22-25]


      David Prayer For His Baby.

      In 2 Samuel 12 the Lord told David that the child born to him, as a result of his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, would die. This because, as the Lord said, he (David) has given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme (V.14). As any parent would be, David was grief stricken when the child became ill. However, he did not rebuke the illness, nor claim any healing miracles. Recognizing that God's will in the matter would prevail David, as verse 16 tells us, "besought God for the child" and fasted, and "lay all night upon the earth". 

        'Then his servants said to him, "What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food." So he said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again?..."' (Verses 21-23)

      The Hebrew word bâqash translated into the English besought, is defined by Strong's as to search out (by any method; specifically in worship or prayer)... by implication to strive after: ask, beg, beseech, desire, request etc.


      Elijah and The Widow's Son.
      1 Kings 17:17-24 records the incident of a widow's son who died of a serious illness...

        'Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him' (Verse 17)

      The woman was obviously deeply grieved about this, but what was Elijah's reaction?

        'The he cried out to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?" And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, "O Lord my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come back to him."' (Verses 20-21)

      While we do not know why Elijah stretched himself out upon the child' three times, we do know that he did not claim healing but instead urgently petitioned the Lord for the life of the boy. He did not employ 'positive confession' for the boy, nor 'claim' him back, but simply pleaded with God for healing.

        And the Lord hearkened unto the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. [1Kings 17:22]

      No name it.. claim it here.


      The 'Hall of Faith' in Hebrews:
      Those that claim the problems that believers face in this life can be ascribed to a lack of sufficient faith, flatly contradict the Scriptures that often greatly commends those that suffered because of what they believed. Take for example the following verses in the book of Hebrews that speak extremely highly of countless people of the Old Testament that suffered tremendously, and even died for the faith....

        And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

        Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth.

        And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. [Hebrews 11:32-40] Emphasis Added.

      This same thought is seen in Hebrews 11:13, which says that these people did not even belong here on earth, but were passing through ...

        "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth".

      While the author of Hebrews speaks of the heroes of the Old Testament, after the time of Christ the fledgling church was subject to much persecution. Most of the original twelve disciples, plus countless other believers including Paul and Steven, were martyred for their faith.


      The New Testament
      The Loaves and Fishes: In Luke 9 and the parallel account in Matthew 14, the disciples told Jesus that it was late and perhaps time to let the crowds go into the villages to buy food. Jesus' reply was that there was no need for them to go anywhere, hen instructed the disciples to feed the multitude. This left the disciples scratching their heads and doing some mental arithmetic, since they only had between them five loaves and two small fish... and were not slow to say so. This account in the Gospel of John has Philip telling Jesus that "Two hundred shillings' worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one may take a little" [John 6:7]

      Although this will be read as a 'negative confession' by the Name-it-claim-it camp, the disciples were simply stating conditions exactly as they were... rather than pretending they were something else. Which, as we know, led to Jesus performing one of His most amazing miracles, multiplying the loaves and fish to the extent that the entire crowd was well fed.

      John 21:3-6: In this incident it was only after the disciples admitted they had caught no fish that Jesus directed them where to cast their nets, which resulted in a catch so big that it was difficult for them to haul the nets in. (John 21:3-6)

      Apparently negative statements do not always result in negative results.


      Prosperity and The Apostles
      If God does want His followers to be rich and healthy, then I am sorry to say that the first disciples of Christ, including Peter and Paul, were not very smart, nor very well informed as to how these blessings of God were to be obtained. Peter, Paul, and even John the Baptist apparently had it all wrong. They could have been living in the lap of luxury, decked in the finest robes, eating the finest food and being pampered by over-made up wives.

      And, if they were that ignorant of doctrine that every single prosperity teacher is well versed in, then why should we assume that they were authorities on any aspect of the Christian faith. What else did were they not enlightened about?


      John the Baptist:
      Surely if any man were blessed it would be the one who had the honor of declaring the day of the Messiah to the people of Israel. Jesus called him the greatest of men [Luke 7:28], yet the Bible tells us that …

        “... John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4)

      Jesus also contrasted John, whom He called "much more than a prophet", with those that live in king's courts, and are richly clothed.

        And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to behold? a reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. But what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way before thee. [Luke 7:24-27] 


      Peter:
      When asked for a coin by a lame man, Peter words to him were...

        Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. [Acts 3:6]

      Was Peter lying, or did he, in fact, not have any money? And, if not, why not?
       

      Paul: The apostle Paul, who received his commission directly from the Lord and was personally responsible for writing the majority of the books of the New Testament was little better. In his first letter to the Corinthians he contrasted the false and self-confident teachers in Corinth with the apostles; In words dripping with irony he told them...

        Already are ye filled, already ye are become rich, ye have come to reign without us: yea and I would that ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. spectacle unto the world, both to angels and men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye have glory, but we have dishonor. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and we toil, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things, even until now. [1 Corinthians 4:8-13]

      In these verses Paul presents quite a perspective on the lives of the apostles. He says they are fools, weak, without honor, who have few earthly comforts to brag about. They toil with their hands yet are hungry, thirsty, with poor clothing, and no place they can call home. Worse... they are considered the scum of the world.

      And what is it that they do through it all? Make positive confessions? Claim God's Blessings? "See" themselves rising to new levels?

      Actually none of the above!

      The Bible tells us that through it all they endure, bless and entreat. Incidentally the phrase "unto this present hour" indicates that these trials had been unchanged from the beginning of their ministry.

      In his second letter Paul elaborates on their sufferings even further, speaking of being imprisoned and beaten.. having nothing, but making many rich. (Please note that when Paul says they made many rich he was speaking of spiritual riches.. making them rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom).

        but in everything commending ourselves, as ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings...as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. [2 Corinthians 6:4-5, 10]

      Even if one were to lay aside all thoughts of wealth and riches, one has to wonder why Paul did not employ positive confession to heal himself.


      Paul's 'Thorn in the Flesh'
      While it is not clear what exactly Paul's thorn in the flesh was (2 Corinthians 12:7) the general consensus of opinion is that it was some kind of chronic, or recurring health issue. Yet, whatever it might have been, Paul did not rebuke the illness or employ positive confession confessing that he was already healed. Rather Paul pleaded with the Lord to remove what ever it was that plagued him...

        'Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me'
        [2 Corinthians 12:8]

      But when the Lord told Paul "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Paul said [Emphasis Added]

        Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. [2 Corinthians 12:9-10]


      The Book of Acts
      presents testimony to the fact that members of the earliest church shared all they had with others.

        And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need. [Acts 2:44-45] 

        And with great power gave the apostles their witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. For neither was there among them any that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need. [Acts 4:32-35]

      We know that several of the churches went through many financial hardships, yet there is no evidence that Paul or any of the other apostles rebuked these churches for their lack of faith, nor instructed them to make 'positive confessions'. On the contrary Paul often commended various churches for helping to supply the needs of other believers, and for helping him. In both Romans and Corinthians Paul mentions contributions made by each of the churches to the “poor saints” at Jerusalem. 

        For it hath been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints that are at Jerusalem. [Romans 15:26]

        Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come. And when I arrive, whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send with letters to carry your bounty unto Jerusalem: [1Corinthians 16:2-3] 

      One has to wonder why Paul did not teach those poor believers to stop fostering an "image of defeat and failure", and to start developing "an image of victory, success, health abundance joy peace and happiness"?  In 2 Corinthians 8:2 Paul praises the Macedonians for abundant giving despite their deep poverty.

        how that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

      This in basic English reads

        How while they were undergoing every sort of trouble, and were in the greatest need, they took all the greater joy in being able to give freely to the needs of others. [2 Corinthians 8:2. Bible in Basic English]

      After saying that although he knew how to be content in whatever state he found himself in, Paul commends the Philippians for their generosity.

        Howbeit ye did well that ye had fellowship with my affliction. And ye yourselves also know, ye Philippians, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church had fellowship with me in the matter of giving and receiving but ye only; for even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my need. Not that I seek for the gift; but I seek for the fruit that increaseth to your account. [Philippians 4:14-17]

      Today, a preacher with a (often honorary) degree from Oral Roberts University or Kenneth Hagin's Rhema Bible Training Center thinks they are 'entitled' to innumerable blessings including immense wealth. However if one is to believe that material prosperity is a sign of God's blessings, then the logical assumption is that these preachers are more blessed than the servants of God who wrote the New Testament and on who's shoulders the church was built. They owned nothing and had nothing. Worse... most of them were eventually martyred. 

      Besides which


      A Perplexing Issue...The Prosperity Of Godless People
      The inequality of wealth and the prosperity of godless people has not only been a fact of life for centuries but has, for just as long, perplexed God's people.  As Jeremiah once asked...

        "You are always righteous, O LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts." (Jeremiah 12:1-2)

      But what does the Bible say about this?


      Psalm 37
      . Verse 4 which says " Delight thyself also in Jehovah; and he will give thee the desires of thy heart" is often used by Prosperity teachers to prove their point.

      However if one were to read the Psalm in it's entirety, a very different picture emerges. It deals with the frustration of God's people who saw idolaters prosper while they themselves, who worshipped the true God, lived in affliction and slavery. However the psalmist consoles God's people by assuring them that although the wicked are presently flourishing “like a green tree in its native soil” (Vs. 35), their future is not to be envied (Vs. 9-10, 15, 17, 38), since they will be brought down in full view of the righteous whom they have oppressed (Vs. 34)..  

      It clearly shows that, in this life, believers can expect basic necessities not, unlimited financial gain. Believers are encouraged to not be envious of the evil-doers but to trust God and do good (Vs.3) delight in Him (Vs.4); commit their ways to Him and trust Him (Vs. 5) and cease from anger, and forsake wrath (Vs. 8). In return God's people are promised food (Vs. 19, 25), God's loyalty (Vs.28), inheritance of the land (Vs. 29), a happy end (Vs. 37) and the Lord's help in salvation from the wicked (Vs. 39-40)

      Psalm 73 As a whole this psalm too is about the Psalmist's discouragement (and envy) over the prosperity of the wicked whom he says seem to live a trouble free existence. Their strength is firm and they scoff, utter oppressions and speak loftily.  The question in his mind was why God allowed this and whether there was any advantage in being good. However the difficulty was not to be solved by mere human reasoning but by God Himself, and when the psalmist deeply considered the future state of the righteous and the wicked, he realized that he had been extremely short sighted. Although there was presently an unequal distribution of temporal goods, a future judgment was around the corner. These men were standing in slippery places and God would cast them down to destruction.

      Psalm 49 They that trust in their wealth, And boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him (Vs. 6-7)... Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, And their dwelling-places to all generations; They call their lands after their own names (Vs.11)... They are appointed as a flock for Sheol; Death shall be their shepherd; And the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; And their beauty shall be for Sheol to consume, That there be no habitation for it (Vs.14)... Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, When the glory of his house is increased. For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him. He shall go to the generation of his fathers; They shall never see the light (Vs. 16-19)

      (It is quite possible that Paul had this Psalm in mind when he told Timothy... "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out." [1 Timothy 6:7]


      But what are we to do with the texts quoted over and over again by the Word of Faith teachers that seem to prove their point. Verses that have been taken as keys to the proverbial magic lamp.. rub the lamp like so (positive confessions) and the magic genie (God) will appear and grant your every wish.


      Part III... Supposed Proof Texts [HERE]


      End Notes
      [7] Time Magazine. Does God Want You To Be Rich? David Van Biema And Jeff Chu Sunday, Sep. 10, 2006. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1533448-3,00.html

      Prosperity-Back

      Index To The Prosperity Doctrine ..
      Does God Want Us To Be Rich?

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