Home > Christianity, Exposition, Living, Questions, Theology > Question: Regarding the Prosperity Gospel Teachers, pt. 2

Question: Regarding the Prosperity Gospel Teachers, pt. 2

The same person who asked me about this post sent the following response.

I understand your desire to keep God’s word untainted and I respect you for that but I don’t agree with your methods of dealing with it to an extent. No one really knows the heart of a man, except God which is why He’s the only judge. Blessings. 🙂

This is my answer:

It’s about more than keeping God’s word untainted. It is about protecting the Church from being ripped apart and devoured by those wolves.

The issue is this:  you are correct in saying that God is the only Judge; however, we have been given authority to (a) Discipline members of the Church (cf. Matthew 17; 1 Corinthians 5), (b) Publicly warn the Church about false teachers by specifically naming them (cf. 2 Timothy 4:10, 14, where Paul explicitly calls out Alexander and Demas for subverting and harming Paul’s mission), and (c) To unqualifiedly dismiss, warn against, and fight against false teachers. As (c) seems to be the one with which you take issue, we will take our time in discussing it.

Matthew 7:15-20, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

Jesus is warning his disciples against the false prophets who will come into the Church. They look like believers; they talk about Jesus all the time and how much they love him. But, both their lives and their doctrines do not match with what Jesus actually preached. If you’ll do some research, you will see that most of these prosperity gospel preachers are fabulously wealthy, and many of them have been cited for tax evasion and similar crimes. Christ explicitly says, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” We can tell who false prophets are. How? By the way they live their lives and the things that they say.

Matthew 15:17-19, “Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”

Again, Christ is pointing out that we can judge the nature of a person by what they do. How one lives their life is evidence of their spiritual condition. Again, because we are not God, we do not have all the evidence. Nevertheless, we are absolutely able to judge and make an informed decision as to whether somebody is a false prophet or teacher, or is simply misinformed. Unrepentant false teaching is heresy.

Matthew 24:23-25, “Then, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.

What is not evidence of one’s spiritual condition? Signs and wonders, for even the false prophets will do this. In so doing, they will lead astray many; they would even lead away the elect if it were possible. Christ is warning the disciples to be ever vigilant against these people. They are not to be trusted. False teachers and false prophets have no business in the church.

Acts 13:6-12, “When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, ‘You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.’ Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.”

A few things to note about this passage:

  • Luke explicitly records both the name and the fact that this man was a false prophet.
  • The false prophet, and all others, try to turn people away from the true faith.
  • Paul called the false prophet a son of the devil, an enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, and one who makes crooked the straight paths of the Lord.
  • The Spirit through Paul struck Bar-Jesus blind. The Spirit does not play with false prophets if we confront them.
  • As a result of the false prophet’s being struck blind, the proconsul—the one who was being led astray—saw the power of the Lord and believed.

2 Corinthians 11:12-15, “And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”

A few things to note:

  • Paul made it a mission to undermine, or to subvert, to false claims of those pretending to be apostles, of those who pretend to have the same goal as the Church.
  • They are false apostles, deceitful workmen.
  • They disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. Is this not a similar picture to the wolves disguised as sheep?
  • Satan disguises himself as an angel of light; his servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Connection:  False apostles, false prophets, false teachers and their ilk are servants of Satan. I cannot be more clear about that.
  • The end of all the false apostles corresponds, or matches, their deeds, i.e. hell.
  • Their deeds are unrepentant and flagrant leading astray of the Church to a false gospel.

Galatians 1:6-9, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”

If I or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the gospel with apostolic authority, or even a gospel slightly distorted, let me or him be accursed. It is no clearer than that.

1 Timothy 6:3-5, “If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

Anyone who teaches a doctrine contrary to Christ is not to be welcomed as a teacher or minister of the faith. He should be revealed and exposed. That last phrase is telling for the prosperity gospel, though, “…imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” That is exactly the position of the prosperity gospel. They are not fellow ministers.

2 Peter 2:1-3, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

  • False prophets and false teachers will bring in destructive heresies.
  • They will deny the Master who brought them.
  • They bring upon themselves swift destruction.
  • Many will follow them because of their sensuality. Is it any surprise to you that the prosperity gospel hinges on that, pleasure in the flesh?
  • Because of these false teachers, the way of truth—i.e. Christianity—will be blasphemed.
  • They will exploit the Church with false words because of their greed. Those in the prosperity gospel always ask you for money for healing, by the way.
  • Their condemnation does not wait, and their destruction is coming.

Peter then compared these false teachers to angels who did not escape condemnation. It is too long to include here, so I’d encourage you to check it out. However, he does return to the false teachers here.

2 Peter 2:12-22, “But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.

For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: ‘The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.’”

That speaks for itself.

2 John 7-11, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”

We are not to welcome, wish well for, or enjoy fellowship with those who do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, and all that accords with his teaching. He who does not abide in Christ’s doctrine does not have God. Again, these people are not fellow children of God—wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Revelation 2:1, 2, “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.”’”

Christ himself praised the Church in Ephesus for not bearing with “those who are evil” and rather testing “those who call themselves apostles and are not,” thus finding them to be false. That is significant. Of all the things to praise a church body for, Christ chooses to praise this one for their insistence on not being led astray by false teachers.

In short, those of the prosperity gospel have bastardized the gospel, making it a means to a worldly wealth. Because of this, they are to be branded as false teachers and false prophets until they repent and recant. Because of that branding, no believer should have anything to do with their ministries, should publicly rebuke their teachings, and should warn his brothers and sisters. If you love the Church, you seek her well-being, and thus guard against these destructive heresies. We can judge the heart by what comes out of their mouths.

Grace and peace

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  1. May 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Very good man.

    Here is a video series for your friend. It is the very best refutation of WoF doctrine I have seen and I have gathered about 5 such teaching series. EJNOY

    http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2012/03/20/best-refutation-ever-of-the-word-of-faith-movements-power-of-wordsconfession-teaching/

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