About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Prosperity Gospel And The Laodiceans
this article I'd like to show how I think Jesus feels about the
prosperity gospel as it has come to be known.
I'd also like to state the Biblical alternative to
man named Reverend Ike recently died. He was one of the early promoters
of the prosperity teaching. He claimed that Jesus was a capitalist.
He also said that Christians should be swimming up to their
armpits in green. That's
green as in money. Many
prosperity teachers tell us that we should expect, almost demand,
excessive material prosperity from Jesus.
I often envision the apostle Paul shaking his head at this
teaching as he sat tied in chains in some archaic prison. If
he could see us now, I imagine him thinking, "… and I gave up all
things and counted them as dung for the sake of Christ so these guys can
accumulate great wealth?"
think we get a clue to how Jesus feels about these things in Revelation
3:14 to 22. The Laodiceans
must have believed in the prosperity gospel.
I don't think they're much different from many segments of our
western church today. To put
it mildly, Jesus wasn't very happy with the church at
Revelation 3:15 Jesus says, "I know your deeds, that you are
neither cold nor hot. I wish
that you were either one or the other!
So, because you are
lukewarm … I am about to spit you out of my mouth."
That doesn't sound like the meek and mild Jesus I learned about
in Sunday school. I'd
suggest that some of the over-simplistic Sunday school material we use
to teach our children doesn't really represent who Jesus is.
Anyway, Jesus introduced Himself to these people in verse 14 as
"the ruler of God's creation". That's
the Jesus we should teach
our children about.
17 and 18 tell us why this church was lukewarm.
The church boasted of being "rich, wealthy, and in need of
nothing." That sounds
like the prosperity gospel to me.
responds to this church's material prosperity by saying, "you do
not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and
material prosperity means very little to Jesus, and like many today, the
Laodicean church didn't realize this.
verse 18 Jesus gives this church the following advice.
He says, "I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the
fire so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover
your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can
see." Jesus isn't
selling gold, clothes, and salve here.
He's speaking of laying up treasures in heaven, not here on
earth, as He spoke about in Matthew 6:19.
3:19 says that Jesus loves these people, and that's why He is being so
harsh with them. It's called
discipline. He is portrayed
standing outside of this church community's door.
As He stands knocking on the door to their hearts, He offers them
one last chance to repent (Revelation 3:20).
Jesus' harsh words are actually a demonstration of His love. Note
that Jesus was outside this community of believers, looking in. I
think Jesus was gracious even calling this group a church. I
probably wouldn't be so gracious.
of us who criticize the prosperity gospel sometimes neglect to teach the
Biblical alternative. So
what does buying gold, clothes, and salve from Jesus mean?
How do you lay up treasures in heaven?
The answer to this is the Biblical alternative.
in verse 15 Jesus said that He knew the "deeds" of the
Laodicean church. The word
"deeds" is the key to understanding to what laying up
treasures in heaven mean. Deeds
that are based on self-centeredness as seen in
expose the prosperity gospel for being the false gospel it is.
At the same time let's teach the Biblical alternative.
Teach "deny self, serve Jesus, serve others, be rewarded in
the next life." If you
teach this, you're teaching
Biblical truth. If you can
actually live this, then you're living Biblical truth.
May Jesus help us all. Our
selfish human nature often prohibits us from laying up treasures in
heaven. Living the Biblical
alternative to the prosperity gospel isn't easy, but it will have its
rewards. The best way
to counteract the prosperity gospel is to live the Biblical alternative.