About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
According to the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian TV evangelist Len Lindstrom has
preached what is called the Prosperity Gospel for 25 years.
He has persuasively preached prosperity to the degree that many
of his followers are convinced God's will is for them to be blessed
beyond measure with financial and material abundance.
Therefore, when he asked his supporters to invest in his gold
mining company in
In 2 Corinthians 2:17 the
Apostle Paul said; "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the Word of
God for profit". Unlike
Lindstrom, Paul's ministry wasn't so lucrative.
It actually knocked him out of the cultural, social, and
financial, elite of his day.
One thing that irritates
me concerning western style Christianity is the business of ministry.
Apparently Paul felt the same irritation. The word
"peddle" in 2 Corinthians 2:17 is translated from the Greek
word "kapeleuo", which means "to sell".
The noun form of this word means "a retailer", as in,
"a seller of the gospel for profit".
Parts of our western
world church have been heavily influenced by the Prosperity Gospel.
This false gospel states that we should expect abundance of
wealth as part of the salvation package.
Wealth is ours for the taking.
If we don't take what is rightfully ours, we demonstrate a lack
One prominent preacher of
prosperity these days is Joel Osteen.
He goes as far to say that poor Christians can't effectively
share the gospel because their lack of prosperity is a disincentive to
the non-believer. The
Biblical fact is that material wealth is not the power of God that leads
to salvation. Material
wealth is not the incentive we dangle before the non-believer to lure
him to Jesus. In fact, the
gospel spread at a rapid pace across the first century Roman Empire
by poor disciples of Jesus. One
example of this is seen in 2 Corinthians 8:2 where Paul notes that the
Macedonian believers lived in extreme poverty.
Don't get me wrong.
I can make a Biblical case for the accumulation of wealth through
hard work. I can make a
Biblical case for investing the wealth you've worked hard for.
I can also make a Biblical case for legitimate Bible teachers
receiving appropriate remuneration for their services, but none of this
is what prosperity preachers teach.
From my vantage point,
North American style Christianity and that which we call church looks
more like a Fortune Five Hundred Corporation than the Body of Christ
we're meant to be. Notice
what Jesus said about this in Revelation 3:17.
"You say, 'I am rich, I have acquired wealth and do not need
a thing'. But you do not
realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked".
So I say, "Shame on those who profit from selling a false
gospel, and, shame on those who have cashed in the community of Christ
for the corporation we call church".
I say, "Pity the poor soul who has lost his life's savings
in what has been disguised as God's blessings, and, pity those who don't
understand the Bible sufficiently enough to avoid the pitfalls of false
teaching". Hosea was
right. God's people are
destroyed because of lack of knowledge. (Hosea 4:6)
Although you can find
wealthy believers in the Bible, Jesus wasn't one of them. He
didn't even have his own bed to sleep in. (Matthew 8:20)
Paul, Peter, and most of the first generation saints
weren't wealthy either. Unlike
preachers for profit today, those precious but poor first generation
saints effectively preached the pure unadulterated gospel because they
knew that Jesus alone was the power of God unto salvation. (1
Corinthians 1:24) They
didn't need to preach prosperity as an incentive to bring sinners to
Christ. Countless Christians
throughout the centuries have led more productive Christian lives than
many prosperity people live today, and that despite their poverty.
I suggest that the most dedicated and effective Christians today
live in nations like Iran
where their faith in Jesus prevents them from accumulating material
This will sound harsh and
religiously incorrect in some circles, but unless western world
Christianity comes to its Biblical senses, Jesus will vomit it out of
His mouth. These words won't
generate a $200,000.00 yearly salary for you.
They're not nice sounding words; and neither are they my words.
You see Jesus speaking these words in Revelation 3:16 to a
materially rich but spiritually poor group of people who claim to be a
body of believers. Many of
you may remember the words of this old hymn.
"I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold.
I'd rather have Jesus than riches untold … "
I wonder if we really believe what we're singing.
"What shall it
profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul"?
(Mark 8:36) What shall it
profit me if I embrace the buying and selling of a gospel that entices
my sinful nature to lust after that which could possibly destroy my
soul? "We brought
nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing
out". (1 Timothy 6:7)