The prosperity gospel robs God of his glory
At its core, the gospel has everything to do with God’s glory. Indeed, we don’t fully understand the sinfulness of sin until we grasp the “who gets the glory” issue. We don’t understand the design of the gospel until we grasp the “who gets the glory” issue. We don’t understand the end goal of the gospel until we grasp the “who gets the glory” issue, and the prosperity gospel misses it on all fronts!
When Paul was expounding the precious truths of the gospel in his letter to the church in Rome, he began by explaining to them the underlying problem that creates the need for the gospel. We looked at this as we defined man’s greatest problem: it has to do with sin. Paul defines the sin problem using the word “glory”:
“…because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21).
The problem that the gospel seeks to correct is man’s sinful misappropriation of God’ glory. The prosperity gospel misses this understanding of sin. By preaching that man’s great problem is merely physical need, it minimizes God’s worthiness of all glory in heaven and on earth. It leaves the listener focused on the created, not the Creator. God never gets the glory from biblical repentance. Those hearts are never in awe of how glorious God is and never see that the only right response to His glory is worship. They remain in awe of how nice it would be to get more stuff and when they sing about how God can give them that stuff they call it worship. Thus, a wrong definition of man’s greatest problem robs God of His glory.
They rob God of His glory by failing to understand the design of the gospel. Ephesians 1:3-14 lays out the purpose of God’s design of the gospel. First Paul lists out the blessings we have in Christ: chosen by God before the foundation of the world (v4), predestined for adoption as sons (v5), accepted in the Beloved (v6), redeemed through His blood (v7a), forgiven of our trespasses (v7b); the mystery of His will has been revealed to us (v9), we have obtained an inheritance (v11), and we are sealed with the Holy Spirit (v13). Please note that God designed it such that we only get these blessings in Christ. The phrase “in Christ” or its equivalent appears in this section 10 times! Now we come to the reason the gospel is designed in such a way that the blessings of it are freely enjoyed in Christ. Three times in these few verses we are told the reason, verses 5b-6a, 12b and 14b, it is “to the praise of His glory”. He gets the glory by how the blessings are accessed: only in and through him. Our standing before God is secure because we do not enjoy these blessings on the basis of our performance but on the basis of Christ’s performance on the cross. The gospel first teaches man that he is a sinner with nothing to offer God for His blessings, however all who are “in Christ” are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavens (Ephesians 1:3), and this equation is designed to result to the praise of His glorious grace.
The prosperity gospel robs God of the glory by changing the equation. It proclaims that God will bless you if you plant a financial seed or that God will bless you if you apply certain anointing oil that is available for sale by a famous pastor. It is not uncommon in our city (Nairobi) to hear of services where people are divided up into groups based on the size of “seed” one planted before prayers are offered up to God. With that design God does not get the glory, the man with his financial seed gets the glory, the man of God who offered up the “powerful prayers” gets the glory. As stated above, the blessings of God are available to all who come to Him through Christ. To suggest there is a different criteria is to diminish the glory of Christ as displayed in the gospel.
The prosperity gospel robs God of His glory by redefining the blessings received in Christ (Colossians 1:27). The glory of the gospel is Christ, not cars. Because of the blessings listed in Ephesians, we mere mortals come into unbreakable union with Christ, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Colossians 1:19). To distort the content of the gospel is to rob God of His glory. Those who hear the prosperity gospel message go home desiring earthly treasures instead of desiring a deeper knowledge of God (Ephesians 3:14-19). In the prosperity gospel, God is a means to an end, He is not the end, God is only good for what He can give not for who He is. In this equation earthly treasure is more glorious than God because it is the desired blessing instead of God. By redefining the blessings of the gospel God is robbed of His glory.