This sermon examines the true Gospel message revealed to us in scripture. Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see.
No Other Gospel Part 4
The Gospel of Christ vs. the Prosperity Gospel
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Aug. 13th, 2017
- Final installment of this series where hopefully you have a full understanding of what it is and why it should be avoided and opposed. Hopefully it has been illuminating, informative and transformative, even though it is a difficult topic to cover, it is important for us to do so. If you are interested in more of these resources, please grab a handout in the back today and go to this page: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/pages/prosperity for other links, articles, books etc.
The messengers of the prosperity gospel
6 Signs of a prosperity church
- The absence of a doctrine of suffering.
- The absence of a serious doctrine of the biblical necessity and normalcy of suffering. This is what Paul taught in his missionary journeys: Acts 14:22-23 ESV – strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. Is this basic doctrinal teaching in the Church? Tribulations are necessary – there are many and you must walk through them. John 15:20. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. Is there a strong note that a faithful Christian will be persecuted? Hebrews 12 and 2 Corinthians 1.
- The absence of a clear and prominent doctrine of self-denial
- This is a tip off that something is amiss: an absence of a clear and prominent doctrine of self-denial. Jesus said: If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Paul said, Romans 8:13, if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Philippians 3:8. I count everything as loss, because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. In other words, normal progress in the Christian life comes by saying no to lesser values and yes to Christ and many of those lesser values are the kinds of pleasures that prosperity preachers don’t like to say no to. So is there a good doctrine of self-denial?
- The absence of serious exposition of Scripture
- Does the preaching take the Bible seriously by explaining what is really there in texts? Does it work through passages of Scripture, explaining the flow of the thought? Or does it feel like the pastor has his favorite topics, circles around them over and over making a few texts serve his purpose? Watch for careful and continuous handling of the Scriptures in an expository way and be suspicious if all you ever get is topical preaching with a few pastors’ favorite topics that lean towards prosperity.
- The absence of dealing with tensions in Scripture
- Does the preacher bring up passages that seem like problems with the ones he is dealing with and then give careful explanations to show how they really fit together? Or is the content just to say what seems to be in one text and never even raise the question? There may be 10 other texts that seem to say something else. It is call proof texting.
- Do the church leaders have exorbitant lifestyles?
- Do they drive cars, live in houses, wear clothes, travel to places that only the very wealthy can go or only the very wealthy can possess? Is the pastor living above the average person in his church? Why is he so concerned with the clothes he wears, the car he drives, the neighborhood he lives in, the way he travels and the types of accommodations he stays in? Is this what we see Jesus and the apostles doing?
- Is there an exaltation of self and a marginalization of the greatness of God?
- Is man at the center of the preaching or is God? Does the preacher seem to parade himself? Does he figure into the talk too much? Is the greatness and majesty and glory of God the centerpiece of all he says and does? Is the preacher in love with the glory of God in the gospel? Is he broken hearted for his sin? Is he contrite and humble? Is he publicly self-effacing? Is the majesty of grace marginalized while he exalts himself? Is there a continual fixation on health and wealth?
- Well-known preachers
- On a continuum – most radical – God wants you rich – so partner with him for this. Light – minimize sin and pain and only talk about how well things will go for you if you follow Christ
- Did a sampling of TBN . . . almost everyone who is on TBN is a prosperity preacher.
- Oral Roberts, Kenneth & Gloria Copeland, Charles Capps, Kenneth Hagin, Jessy Dupantis, Jerry Savelle, Paula White, Jim Baker, John Gray, Robert Tilton, Benny Hinn, John Haggee, Paul Crouch, Rod Parsley, Fred Price, Joseph Prince, Creflo Dollar, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes.
- Here are some preachers that I would recommend: Matt Chandler, John Piper, Francis Chan, David Platt, Ravi Zacharias
The message of the true gospel
1 Tim 1:15 NIV
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst.
- Christ Jesus – being the only way to the father Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The apostle Peter echoed Jesus’ words: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Paul said the same thing: “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
- Came into the world – incarnation, he became one of us, the “second Adam” to redeem us from our sins.
- To save sinners – not to improve our life, make us rich and promise us health. He came to “save sinners” – save us from what? – the righteous judgment of God. And why does God judge people – because of His love and for His glory.
- Of whom I am the worst – application and humility- not demanding from God but receiving with humility
Rom 3:21-25 ESV
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
- No one is “good enough” to make it into heaven on their own merit. We are declared righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
- We are “justified” – made right with God because of his grace given to us, is a gift. We have been redeemed by Jesus’ blood.
- Propitiation means the turning away of wrath by another, paying the penalty. For the Christian, the propitiation was the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. It turned away the wrath of God so that He could pass “over the sins previously committed,” (Rom. 3:25).
Eph 2:8-10 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- The truth and centering of the gospel between what God has done, and what we are to do.
- We are saved by grace through faith in what Christ Jesus has done. We receive this as a gift that we did not earn. Now that we are saved our task is to do the good works that God has designed us for and created them for us to do.
Mark 8:34-36 ESV
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
Questions for the Ride Home
- How does the “prosperity gospel” compare to the true gospel?
- How has this series affected you personally and how will this make a difference in your thinking and life going forward?
- Please be aware of the message people are proclaiming in comparison to what scripture teaches.
- Read and study your Bible. Listen to good teachers and pastors. Put into practice what you are learning.