The Prosperity Gospel
Sabbath School Lesson 2018 Quarter 1 Lesson 2 Sunday
Read first and fourth paragraphs,
“A popular television preacher has a simple message: God wants to bless you, and the proof of His blessing is the abundance of material possessions that you own. In other words, if you are faithful, God will make you wealthy.”
“The theology of the prosperity gospel teaches that, in giving to God, we gain in return a guarantee of material wealth. But this makes God a vending machine and turns our relationship with Him into nothing but a deal: I do this and You promise to do that in return. We give, not because it is the right thing to do but because of what we get in return.”
What level moral development is this? This is level two, the marketplace exchange; let’s make a deal with God. If we do this, then God does that.
Why is this not the right way to think? What is the problem with this type of thinking? First—what is the motive? It is self-centered, all about what self can get for their good deed.
Second—what happens in the heart and mind when people give, but don’t get back what they were expecting? Doubt, anger, further distortions about God.
But, in light of Bible promises isn’t this the right way to think? Aren’t we supposed to believe the Bible when it says:
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 3:10-12
Doesn’t this say explicitly that if we pay our tithe God will give us more blessings? So what is wrong with believing the prosperity gospel?
The bottom green section asks “What examples can you find of those who are faithful to God but are not rich in the worldly possessions, and those who are not faithful to God but who are rich in worldly possessions?”
- Jesus—was He rich in worldly possessions?
- The Apostles?
- Job was rich but lost it all and then got more back, was job right with God only when wealthy and healthy?
- King Herod—wealthy, but unrighteous
- Caesar—wealthy but unrighteous
Is there a contradiction in the Bible between the passage in Malachi and the examples of some righteous people being poor and some unrighteous people being rich?
How do you harmonize these two ideas?
- What kind of law does God’s kingdom operate upon? Design law,
- What is the primary principle or design protocol in God’s government? Love
- How does love function—by giving
- And the more you give the more you will receive—why?
- Because it is how life is built to operate in God’s design
Thus Malachi is describing God’s design, God’s intention, when we operate upon love. So, is it true that if you give in love you receive a great blessing of love in return, from God always, but from others often? Sometimes we might also get material returns on giving, but the promise isn’t primarily material blessing.
But how does sin operate in the world? It is selfish—it seeks to take. And what do the selfish (unrighteous) generally do to the unselfish (righteous)? Abuse and mistreat them.
Is the world currently operating only upon God’s principles, or is there an antagonistic principle fighting against God’s design?
So, do we see righteous suffer in this world? Is it because God or God’s law fails, or because an enemy is at work?
What is it the enemy wants to achieve? Does he not want to undermine trust in God and get people to accept his evil methods instead of God’s?
How do we conceive of the Malachi passage if we think through imposed law lenses? We think of level two, rules, deals, we do something and then God uses His power to make the reward happen.
What happens in the minds of people if they think this way when they see the righteous suffer? Do they have more trust in God or less?
So, again we see how Satan attacks God and His character by infecting our minds with imposed law constructs.
What about the sovereignty of God? Isn’t He sovereign? This leads to the classic questions:
If God is all-powerful and all good then why is there suffering and evil?
A God that allows suffering to continue is either:
a) not all-powerful and is thus unable to prevent the suffering;
b) not loving because this God has the power to prevent suffering but is unwilling to do so; and/or
c) not all-knowing and only becomes aware of the suffering after it has already occurred and it’s too late to prevent it.
What answers do you give to such questions?
Is God sovereign? Is God good or a mixture of good and evil? Is God all-powerful and all knowing? Then why does suffering happen?
Because of how God’s law, design protocols, actually functions.
The difficulty most have had in answering these questions is that they almost always answer from the perspective that God’s law functions like human law, imposed rules. Thus, it is a simple matter that if God is good then God should use His power to impose His will to make all things good. When God doesn’t, then for many they conclude either there isn’t a God, or He isn’t good.
Others go the direction of shutting down thinking and believing and practicing the methods of the beast—God’s ways aren’t my ways I just accept that God was loving by….
The problem is the false premise regarding God’s law. When we realize how love actually functions— love cannot be coerced, commanded, programmed like a computer; that love requires genuine freedom of the sentient being; that love must be freely given. Then we understand God is always sovereign, but administers His sovereignty through, and in harmony with, His character of love and His design laws of love and freedom.
One other point on the idea that the more you give the more you receive. Only within the operational context of God’s design laws. And one of those laws is the law of rest-oration.
This law states that for finite beings after expending a resource the individual must rest in harmony with God and God’s design in order to receive more of the resource to expend.
If you give energy in helping others, you must rest and rejuvenate lest you burn out. Even Jesus, when living on earth, took time away from the needy masses to rest and recover.
One of Satan’s tricks if he can’t get people to simply rebel against God and live selfishly, is to get the good hearted people to never say no, never take time for healthy rest, recreation, recovery and thus burn themselves out into exhaustion.
Finite beings must first receive life, love, truth, energy, from God before it can be shared, and then as one shares one becomes fatigued and needs to rest in their relationship with God and recover and in so doing gradually becomes stronger with greater capacity and endurance, but always still with finite limits.
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