Prosperity Doctrine

<<expectation of financial blessing by God>>

The prosperity gospel or ‘Word of faith’ movement teaching that financial blessing is the will of God for Christians, and that faith, positive speech and donations to Christian ministries increases one’s material wealth, has an undue and unhealthy emphasis on the acquisition of worldly things. This belief considers if a person is sick or poor it is because of sin. Adherents are told to use God’s Holy Spirit for whatever use the believer wills. The teaching, ‘Name it and claim it’, ‘Blab it and grab it’ or ‘Follow Jesus and you will be kept safe and comfortable’ is contrary to the Bible’s teaching which says God works through the believer with the Holy Spirit’s enabling to do His will. The prosperity gospel stresses faith in what is spoken out in positive confession more than the person in whom we trust; it infers God is thus ‘obligated’ to fulfill human orders! This approach appeals to the greedy desires of our fallen nature and uses giving as a leverage to receive; it is a deceitful ploy of the health, wealth and happiness proponents where seed ‘faith donations’ are solicited with money, not Christ, becoming the central focus. This is unbiblical fundraising and many people are hurt and become offended when their presumptuous hopes do not materialize. 

This teaching misconstrues the Bible’s message as, although God wants His people to be blessed, and says He will give good gifts to His children, it is not to be at the expense of their relationship with Him, or through presumptuous attitudes, as He desires righteous character and holiness to

We are instructed to accurately interpret the Word of God – 2 Timothy 2:15

be developed in us, in preference to our happiness and possessions (Mt 7:11; 1 Tim 6:17). We will be blessed by God (not necessarily financially) as a natural consequence when we invest in His Kingdom, yet the motivating force should be love for Him and the desire that through our giving others will also be able to be reached with the gospel, not that we are doing it from the selfish motive of giving to receive (Mt 6:33). The Bible says, “Give and it will be given to you” and if we help to meet the needs of others, God does promise to meet our needs, however this is not a pledge of material prosperity (Prov 11:25; Lk 6:38; 2 Cor 9:6-10; Phil 4:10-20). As Christians, we should tithe to our church and financially support Christian ministries and workers in biblical stewardship yet the motive should focus on extending His Kingdom, not our empire.

The Bible warns about greed and using supposed godliness as a means to financial gain, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…It is a trap that brings ruin…” (1 Tim 6:5,9-11). “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”. Jesus then illustrates that warning with the

The prosperity doctrine is not validated by Scripture

parable of the rich fool who amassed goods for himself alone and did not use these resources for God or others (Lk 12:15-21). The Bible warns against pursuing wealth by being “lovers of money”, while encouraging those who are rich to share for as with any other resource or ability, there is the responsibility to steward it well to bless others so it does not become a curse (1 Tim 3:3, 6:17-19; Heb 13:5). Jesus said, “Don’t store up for yourselves treasure on earth…you cannot serve God and money” (Mt 6:19,24).

Outward focused generosity should be characteristic of Christians, sharing our resources with those in need (Lk 3:11). In the early church, it is recorded, “No one claimed that any possessions were their own, but they shared everything they had” (Act 4:32). The focus was not on earthly, personal enrichment and materialistic increase, rather on mutual support and living out the principles of the Christian faith by keeping heaven’s values in mind.

We should speak optimistically and in faith present our requests to God in prayer, humbly believing for a favourable outcome. However we make all our desires and hopes subject to His sovereignty, gratefully accepting what He gives, for “Will not the judge of the entire world do right?” (Gen 18:25; Phil 4:6; Jas 4:13-16).

See also: balance, confession (of faith), doctrine (tests), enrich, offence, positive mental attitude, presumption, prosper/prosperity, word of faith.