Working for a college ministry, I come into contact with all sorts of students with many different beliefs. When I take a closer look at those who identify themselves as “Christian,” I begin to see many differing views about God, the Bible, and Christianity itself.
One of the more alarming views I see in many Christians on the college campus is what some have coined as the Prosperity Gospel. The Prosperity Gospel essentially says that God saved Christians so that they could have abundant lives. Believers of the Prosperity Gospel often quote Jesus from John 10:10 when he said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
On those statements alone, this belief sounds like sound theology. But the reality is, this belief is an inaccurate view of the Gospel and shallow on multiple fronts. I could spend all day discussing this, but for the sake of this post, let’s focus on two main issues.
1. The Prosperity Gospel puts all the focus on the Christian and not on God. When a Christian believes that her salvation is primarily for herself so that she can obtain something outside of Christ himself, she is already mistaken.
The Bible is clear that salvation has one purpose: to glorify God. Salvation proves that God is righteous (Romans 3:25), that God is merciful (Titus 3:5), and that God is loving (1 John 4:10). But the central focus of all those points is God, not man and his comfort.
God saves sinners for His glory and His glory alone, not for any sort of gain the sinner will receive after salvation. The gain of salvation is God and His glory for eternity, that is the “rich and satisfying life” that John 10:10 is referring to.
2. The Prosperity Gospel expects an abundance of blessings for the Christian that serve as proof of God’s love and presence. Believers of the Prosperity Gospel believe that once they “get right with God” they will be blessed with various “things.” This can be money, reputations, gifts or really anything that the Christian feels they are lacking.
But the Christian’s proof of God’s love for them is the Cross of Christ; and their proof of God’s presence is His Holy Spirit, given to us as a guarantee – no other “blessing” is necessary.
Not to mention the fact that the Bible clearly states that tribulations will come for Christians (John 16:33), that we should rejoice and be joyful about hardships (1 Peter 4:12-13; James 1:2) and that suffering brings endurance (Romans 5:3).
The Prosperity Gospel is a lie.
True prosperity is found in one thing and one thing only: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.