I recently read an article written by one of the popular ministries that promises health, wealth and comfort. I am always surprised how these ministries distort Scripture, and I'm concerned for the sincere Christians who fall captive.
Referencing Romans 4:17 and Matthew 12:34-37, this ministry claimed we can control our environment by what we say.(1)
Yet Romans 4:17 says God “calls into being things that were not.” It doesn’t say men can.(2)
In Matthew 12, the Pharisees claimed Christ's power came from Satan. So Jesus explained that words flow from good or evil in people's hearts, condemning or acquitting them. The context is man's words about God, not man's ability to change earthly circumstances.
Scripture never promises health, wealth, and comfort. Earthly life can be hard. Our physical bodies are wasting away, but Christians can focus on the wonderful eternity awaiting us (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5).
And we have the wonderful promise of God's presence with us in every situation, good or bad (Psalm 46:1).
Let's never listen to teachers who emphasize human words by distorting God's Word (Colossians 2:8).
(1) Scripture tells us that peace and contentment come from having a positive, grateful outlook on life (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Philippians 4:8-9), but Scripture never promises health, wealth, and comfort.
(2) Christ-followers can do great things in Christ's power, according to Christ's plan. But we are not all-knowing so not everything we speak is part of God's plan. In addition, God does things for His children that they can't even imagine, let alone speak (Ephesians 3:20). Another passage often misused by health and wealth teachers is Proverbs 18:21. See a full explanation of that misuse here: The Power and Limit of Words.
I'm sad and concerned that health and wealth teaching has become so popular and is deceiving so many people. The author and ministry leader who wrote the article I mentioned above said those who don't agree with his teaching have been brainwashed by the devil.
When someone makes such a claim, we should ponder just what he is saying. If everyone who does not believe Christ offers health and wealth is brainwashed by the devil, that includes millions of sincere believers, martyrs, missionaries, and pastors throughout church history. Furthermore, that means that God withholds blessings from anyone - no matter how faithful and loving - based solely on that person's words. This is a huge distortion of the Christian life and a distortion of God's character.
2 Corinthians 4 offers a true view of our lives and our God:
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
And continuing in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10:
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. 6 So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7 For we live by believing and not by seeing. 8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.
Health and wealth teachers take passages like this, lift out the part about believing and speaking (4:13-14), and ignore the rest of the passage which explains the hardships and bodily suffering of faithful believers. In eternity, we will have health and "wealth." As 5:7 says, we live by believing, not seeing.
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, Bite Size Bible Study