To Greedy Christians?
Q. When my pastor reads, "He became poor that you might become rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9), he says it means that Christians get the world's riches today. We don't have to wait until we're in heaven. Is that right? If it's true why are so many Christians losing their homes because of the credit crisis. Why are donations to churches down? Why are Christians suffering along with the world in this economic meltdown?
Charismatic Spritual Warfare Movement
There is a movement among some American Charismatic Christians who believe that the wealth of sinners will be transferred to the church in the latter days. They believe that this transfer is occurring now. Among such teachers are Larry Huch, Chuck Pierce, Peter Wagner, Dutch Sheets, and echoed by Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and other prominent leaders.
Verses used to Support this Claim
They use several verses to support their claim. Proverbs 13:22 says, "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous."
James 5: 1-7 tells the rich to "weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you…You have laid up treasure in the last days…the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts…Be patient…See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains."
It doesn't occur to these wealth-transfer Christians that this verse could be referring to erring pastors and their flocks and misinformed Christians!
The last verse of this passage refers to those who wait patiently for the Lord's return - not for those who will get wealth! (MacArthur Study Bible).
Transfer of Wealth to Church&Minorities
Such Charismatic Christians use James 5 and Proverbs 13:22 to "prove" that the evil rich people have become rich so that their wealth will be transferred to the church and to minorities who have been oppressed.
They reason that just as the Egyptians gave gold and silver to the Hebrews as they left Egypt with Moses, so current worldly wealth will be given to the church in the latter days. Just as God had given riches to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, so God will give riches to the church during the end-times.
More Prosperity Verses
These Prosperity Christians also state that 3 John 2 supports their position:
"Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers."
Money Answers Everything?
They use a verse from Ecclesiastes that says, "Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything" (Eccl. 10:19).
These misinformed bible teachers claim that the above verse means that the Bible teaches money is really the answer to everything! They overlook that this passage in context reveals the foolish behaviors of young rulers! (See verse 10:16-19).
Faith to become Wealthy?
Another verse says, "according to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:29). "Faith," in this instance, means faith that you may become wealthy according to prosperity teachers. This is false teaching.
Traditions of Men falsely teach Humility?
These prosperity teachers believe that it is the "traditions of men" which have made "the word of God of no effect" (Mark 7:13).
They reason that God wants you to be prosperous. But, it's those awful conservative church leaders who have sidelined God's will of prosperity for his people. It isn't Money that is evil. Rather, it is the "love" of money that ruins people (1 Tim. 6:10).
We have heard this stated repeatedly on Christian television. Many of these prosperity teachers appear to want to justify their own excesses with such verses. After all, how can they ask us to give donations to them when we are losing our homes and pensions along with the world in this terrible economic climate?
He became Poor that You might become Rich?
Finally, 2 Corinthians 8:9 says, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich."
Yes, we are sorry to state that many among this group of prosperity teachers preach that the riches spoken about in 2 Corinthians 8:9 are the world's wealth consisting of land, property, Mercedes Benz and other fancy cars, gold, silver, brokerage accounts, bank accounts, and paper money. According to these false teachers Jesus became poor that you might become wealthy by the world's standard.
How twisted is that?
Please note that it isn't our intent to ridicule or poke fun at this group of prosperity teachers. After all, many of them have taught us valuable lessons in how to pray, how to be faithful in an ungodly society, how to overcome child abuse and abusive relationships, and how to speak positively about our faith in Christ to an unbelieving world. We have based some of our articles on their books and tapes.
However, in the area of a believer's wealth, we think they are woefully and frighteningly wrong. Verses such as 1 John 2:15-17 is just one example among many throughout the New Testament:
"Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world. And this world is fading away, along with everything it craves (NLT).
Stop Loving this Evil World
What part of "Stop loving this evil world" do they not understand? Is this passage so difficult to comprehend? I'm afraid these Prosperity believers have conveniently decided that they are the "latter day" prophets who are entitled to reap the world's wealth.
Post Trib Wealth
Where is their understanding that when Jesus returns to restore the earth after the Great Tribulation, then He will set up His Kingdom with all its riches? Then the world's riches will belong to Christ and believers in Him. Not before. Where do they get the idea that God will set up His wealthy, rich Kingdom before Jesus returns?
Content with Food&Clothing
1 Timothy 6:8-9 clearly states, "So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction."
Hebrews 13:5 also says to "Stay away from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have."
This is not hard to understand, is it? We should be satisfied with having food and clothing. We don't need more than the basic necessities in this lifetime.
In other words, it is NOT okay to desire 10,000 square foot homes, fancy furnishings, Italian cars, designer clothing and shoes, and multimillion dollar brokerage accounts.
In Violation of Biblical Truths
When church leaders preach wealth for us beyond the riches of the saving gospel and basic necessities of life, they are in violation of these and many other Scripture passages. It is NOT OK to preach that Jesus became poor that you might become rich! "Rich" in this passage does not mean the world's wealth - it is a reference to spiritual riches.
In other words, it is not OK for us to attend motivational seminars and call it "church!"
Born Naked - Die Naked
Furthermore, what about the verse just before 1 Timothy 6:8 which says, "Yet true religion with contentment is great wealth. After all, we didn't bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die" (1 Tim. 6:6-7).
Scriptural Interpretation of "Great Wealth"
Here "great wealth" for Christians is clearly defined. Great Wealth is "true religion with contentment." What is "true religion?" True religion is helping the widows and orphans and the poor:
"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27, NASB).
(See also Deuteronomy 14:29, Job 31:16-17, Psalm 146:9, and Isaiah 1:17, 23).
Wealth Transfer should be from Rich to Poor Christians!
If anything, this great "transfer of wealth" should be from rich Christians to those who are less fortunate within the worldwide church.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 states, "Tell those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which will soon be gone. But their trust should be in the living God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of real life."
Babylon's Wealthy Merchants
I fear that this great "transfer of wealth" referred to by some Christians, will occur - but not in ways they expect. It is "the merchants of the earth (who) have become rich by the wealth of her (Babylon's) sensuality" (Revelation 18:3).
Therefore, the Lord clearly tells us to "Come out of her, (Babylon) my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues" (Rev. 18:4).
Satan Preaches Prosperity
Prosperity Christians who teach believers that great wealth is due them in our current time frame are playing a dangerous game led by the god of this world, Satan (2 Cor. 4:4).
Please don't fall for it. Correct your fellow believers lovingly who preach a message of wealth for the church in these pre tribulation times. They need your help to avoid this satanic trap.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation. 1996. Wheaton, ILL: Tyndale.
The MacArthur Study Bible. 1996. TN: Nelson.
Ryrie Study Bible, NASB. 1996. Chicago: Moody.
Huch, Larry. 2006. 10 curses that block the blessing. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House. (Example of bad theology).
Sheets, Dutch. Dutch Sheets Ministries. Available from:www.dutchsheets.org. (Excellent on prayer but lacking on wealth).