Prosperity Gospel/Word of Faith – Deceptive and Costly traps that millions are falling into
Jesus continued to share words of comfort with His disciples shortly before His death – “But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (John 16: 4-11)
Jesus had previously told them about the “Helper” – “’And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.’” (John 14: 16-17) He also told them – “’But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.’” (John 15: 26)
Luke’s account of what happened after Jesus was resurrected tells us about what Jesus further told His disciples about the Spirit – “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1: 4-5) It happened just as Jesus had said – “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2: 1-4) Then, as Luke recorded, Peter stood up with the other apostles and bore witness to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. (Acts 2: 14-40) From that Day of Pentecost, until today, each person who puts their trust in Jesus Christ as Savior is born of the Holy Spirit, indwelt with the Holy Spirit, and baptized with the Spirit and sealed eternally for God.
A terrible heresy that is very popular today is the Word of Faith Movement. John MacArthur writes of this movement – “It is a false gospel of material prosperity popularly known as the Word of Faith doctrine. If you have enough faith, they claim, you can literally have whatever you say.” (MacArthur 8) MacArthur further elaborates – “For the hundreds of millions who embrace Word of Faith theology and the prosperity gospel, ‘the Holy Spirit is relegated to a quasi-magical power by which success and prosperity are achieved. As one author observed, ‘The believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite – God uses the believer. Word of Faith or prosperity theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person who enables the believer to do God’s will.’” (MacArthur 9)
Slick and deceptive televangelists promise health and wealth to those who have enough faith, and to those who send in their money. (MacArthur 9) Oral Roberts is credited with the “seed-faith” plan, that has been used, and is being used to defraud millions of people. MacArthur writes – “Viewers send in billions of dollars, and when there is no return on investment, God is the one held liable. Or the people who have sent money are blamed for some defect in their faith when the sought-after miracle never materializes. Disappointment, frustration, poverty, sorrow, anger, and ultimately unbelief are the main fruits of this kind of teaching, but the pleas for money only get more urgent and the false promises grow more exaggerated.” (MacArthur 9-10) Here is a short list of some of the Word of Faith/Prosperity Gospel Teachers: Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price, Paul Crouch, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Myles Munroe, Andrew Womack, David Yonggi cho-Sikorea, Bishop Enoch Adeboye of Nigeria, Reinhard Bonnke, Joyce Meyer, and T.D. Jakes. (MacArthur 8-15)
If you are being drawn in by any of the TV televangelists, please beware! Many of them are teaching a false gospel. Many of them are false teachers wanting nothing more than your money. Much of what they say may sound good, but what they are selling is deception. As Paul warned the Corinthians, so we need to be warned also – “For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted – you may well put up with it!” (2 Cor. 11: 4) As believers, if we are not careful and discerning, we may put up with a false gospel and a false spirit. Just because a religious teacher has a television program and sells millions of books, does not mean that they are teaching the truth. Many of them are just wolves in sheep’s clothing, fleecing the naive sheep.
MacArthur, John. Strange Fire. Nelson Books: Nashville, 2013.
For More Information of the Word of Faith Movement and the Prosperity Gospel please visit these sites: