The basis behind what is known as the prosperity gospel suggests that God does want this and promises it to His people. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples from the Old and New Testaments to see if, in fact, this is what God promises.
In the Old Testament it often seemed wealth was the result of following God. We see this in the case of Abraham and others who were blessed. But we also see God’s people sometimes struggled, when they saw the wicked doing well and being prosperous, Psalm 73. So we can’t say only the godly are blessed with wealth.
Yes, Jesus promises an abundant life, John 10:10, but does that mean wealth, material blessings and good health? Or is Jesus talking about something else e.g. a rich spiritual life and joy in living? Just because God blessed His people in the Old Testament, can we therefore assume the same applies to Christians today? Over the next two blogs, I’m going to look at this question using examples, from the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Firstly let’s look at Job, a book we are studying in our home bible study group. When we first meet Job he has indeed been blessed in every way by God. This is exactly the point Satan makes, that Job only serves God for what he gets out of God, i.e. riches and material blessings. Satan argues if those things are taken away, then Job will turn away from his faith in God, Job 1:9-12. In other words Job is only a follower of God for what He can get. What about us? Is our faith dependant on what we get from God? If we were to get nothing out of following God, would we still do it?
God allows Satan to take away Job’s family and his riches. Job doesn’t look for someone to blame. Yes, he grieves but he also worships God, Job 1:20-22. Is this the way you react in times of trouble? I have to admit it is not always the way I react.
Satan is then allowed to even take away Job’s health. Job’s wife urges him to curse God. This is not how Job reacts. He declares he will accept both good and bad from God’s hand, Job 2:10.
Even Job’s friends turn try to convince him that he must be at fault- he must be harboring some sin for God to afflict him in this way. Job’s friends’ remarks sound like those made to a dear friend of mine when her young daughter became very ill. They argued it must be something my friend or her daughter had done wrong that caused the suffering. When her daughter did not get better after prayer, the blame for this was said to be my friend’s lack of faith. These comments were made by people from her church, who believed God wants everyone to be healthy, wealthy and wise. Therefore, if anyone was at fault it must be my friend or her daughter. And if they only had more faith God would act. Their words were about as much help as those of Job’s friends.
But in Job 1:1-11, we see behind the scenes. We see God had allowed this testing and hardship to come upon Job to prove, not Job’s lack of faith but to prove Job’s faithfulness to God despite adverse circumstances.
The same is true of my friend. She remained faithful to God, though after this incident she chose to attend and belong to another church, where she was cared for and supported in her Christian life and where the theology was not skewed but in line with what the Bible, our ultimate authority teaches. For the Bible teaches that sometimes bad things happen to godly people. Job is one example of this.
Check out this site for more info about where those who adhere to the prosperity gospel get it wrong.
True enough God restored Job’s wealth and blessed him abundantly in later life, but a lot of suffering and anguish occurred before this happened. We should not take this to mean that God never means for his people to suffer because sometimes they do. And God has a purpose in it.
Job never found out why God allowed this suffering but still he trusted that God knew what He was doing. When we encounter suffering, that seems to not be because of any sin on our part, we can trust that God knows what he is doing and has a purpose in it. Like Job, we may never know this side of heaven, what that purpose is. But it should not stop us from trusting and worshipping God.
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