The Prosperity Gospel

“If you are the son of God, command these stones to become bread.”-The Tempter

That was the first test hurled at Christ in the wilderness after his fast. Command these stones to become bread. It seems like such a harmless temptation. Eating bread is not a sin. And the devil had the good sense to wait until Christ was done with his fast. Surely, after fasting forty days and nights, God wouldn’t mind Christ converting a few stones into good old bread, which is nothing as controversial as turning water into wine. Why would this even be a temptation? 

But Christ’s answer to this test shows the lure of it. “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Father.”

This is a direct quote from Deuteronomy when Moses was telling the Israelites as they were preparing to enter the promised land that God fed them with manna in the desert so they’d know that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. In other words, one should care less about their own needs when it comes to obeying or walking with God. 

The principle here is that the one who would walk with God must deny the flesh, deny self gratification and completely negate the self in order to yield to the Spirit. Allow God to give you what He wants you to have according to His Will, and if he doesn’t give you anything then stay faithful to His will, deny your own desires and obey Him even to the point of death if that’s what it takes. It is to exalt the will of the Spirit above the desires of the flesh. The test was not to prove that Christ was the son of God, the voice of God had said so to the hearing of all creation down at the baptism. Christ knew who He was, and Satan knew it too. The test was to see if Christ would prioritize the pressing needs of His flesh over His calling for self denial and sacrifice. Will he deny the needs of his flesh or will he indulge them? 

Man shall not live by bread alone. 

Is it not ironic then that the tempter has donned a suit, shiny hair and an affluent sheen, mounted the pulpit of the churches of Christ scattered around the world and is now spinning his trap from the altar. “If you are the son of God, if you are the daughter of God, command these stones to become bread.” Command that dry situation to become prosperity. Command money to rain on you. Command wealth to become yours. If you are the child of God, unleash prosperity in your life. The gospel of self denial has disappeared from  the church of Christ. The Gospel of self gratification has taken over. The evidence of your citizenship in God’s kingdom is now the full barn and well stocked pantry of the rich fool in Christ’s parable. We now worship the God of our belly. In the battle in our minds between God and mammon, we know who is currently winning. 

Don’t get me wrong, self denial does not mean living in poverty. God doesn’t want his children to experience lack. Christ never lacked. Fishes spit out tax money for him, he made six jars of the best wine out of water, he fed thousands miraculously. But he never made prosperity a point of his gospel either. He said the birds of the air and lilies of the field don’t worry about what to eat or drink, and neither should you because God is your Father and you have much more value to him than the birds and lilies. In other words, you will be taken care of. You may be wealthy or not but you will not suffer lack. 

. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” 

Yet it’s hard to see any ‘man of God’ these days who isn’t whispering 

“If you are the son of God, command these stones to become bread.” Because this is what serves their belly and the false hope that brings audiences in.

Christianity is no longer a call to deny the self, deny the pleasures of the world. No, today your affluence and enjoyment of worldly pleasure has become evidence of your piety and your relationship with God. Christ might have preached giving up worldly treasure and laying up your treasures in heaven but your new age pastors know better. 

If you are the son and daughter of God, you will command stones to become bread. Satan might have preached it then but we all know who preaches it now.

May God forgive us.

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10 thoughts on “The Prosperity Gospel”

  1. You speak truth. And if I may add that the devil here, I believe, with all intent places Christ in a spot where He’d be forced to choose between validating His Sonship on the words of the Father, “this is my beloved son in whom I’m well pleased”, or on His ability to turn stone into bread. Christ’s choice was ever going to be one. Unlike Adam’s.

    Sadly today, many (we) are led to believe we are God’s partially because we can turn stones into bread and not totally because of what God’s said about us – not minding what situations we find may find ourselves in.

    May God help us.

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  2. I once had an argument with a colleague. I told him a pastor should not be rich. I explained that you have a call to service. You can not have excess in a world of lack and poverty if you want to be a pastor. It is against everything you preach for. You can have enough but the excess should help the poor. Even Jesus told one of his disciples to sell all he had, give it to the poor before he followed him. You have to choose one. It’s not compulsory to be a pastor. You can be a wealthy business man or you can be a pastor not both.

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    1. I won’t exactly subscribe to the statement that a pastor shouldn’t be rich, even though I seem to understand what you mean after having read your comment above. My perspective, and I don’t know if it’ll help, is that a pastor ‘can (not ‘must’ as some seem to think) be rich’. But even when he is rich, he must walk with the understanding that his riches are not his but Christ’s, his riches must not be dedicated to his comfort but must be given back to Christ the way his life has also been given. Given his riches back to God though must not be explained as simply as pouring it all back in church I guess.

      If he chooses to retain the riches though as God’s answers to his prayers and God’s blessings to be enjoyed by himself and all directly related to him, it may and often does degenerate into lust. But if it’s rededicated back to God in some way, the risk of lust and oppression is dealt with.

      I know of someone whose ministry I respect, and who’s also rich. He isn’t a known Pastor, runs his ministry as part of another’s ministry. Before being called he had a few businesses I think and even after fully getting into ministry his business somewhat still flourished on the side while he continued his ministry. And as a result of the success of his business and how it met his needs, he refused being paid by his church.

      To shorten this reply, I’m not saying the example above is an ideal example of how it should always work. Neither does it necessarily define my POV. But I just stated that as something we can probably gain from. My two cents maybe.

      But still, I learn.

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    2. The thing is there is really no rule that says you can’t be both. Many disciples and early Christians were well off, and pastors are just Christians like every one else. But the principle is right, the excess is for the poor, as a matter of course. It’s not yours to ‘flex’ with.

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  3. Nice read…this past week, I was involved in a group discuss about the topic, “Did Christ die for material prosperity?” And the conclusion was, No!

    We have done a paradigm shift in the church believing material prosperity is the fruit of our Sonship, and thus projected it into bible passages that have nothing to do with material prosperity.

    “He became poor, that we may become rich…” Clearly comes to mind. It is worth noting that Christ became “poor” in glory at the cross. A peek into His life on earth will reveal He wasn’t poor, but we never seem to see it that way. I didn’t, and I’m happy to unlearn dross per time.

    Lastly, it’s sad because it has put unnecessary pressure on believers to validate their Christianity with material prosperity, and led some to question it outrightly.

    Really glad about your post and have posted the link for people I know need the message.

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