A reader recently asked


This was my response:

The Bible does not teach what is commonly called 'the prosperity gospel'. It is a false doctrine.

In the New Testament

[1] There is no promise of 'prosperity'. In fact, Jesus referred to his own poverty to discourage a would-be follower [Matthew 8:20].

[2] Read also Mark 10:17-31 and Philippians 4:11-12.

[3] Being 'blessed' by God is understood in terms of the spiritual blessings every believer has in Christ, not in material possessions or physical health.

In the Old Testament

[1] Israel was promised physical blessing [good harvests, long life, etc] if they obeyed the Covenant requirements, and physical 'curses' if they disobeyed the Covenant requirements. Moses reminded the Israelites of this before he died [Deuteronomy 27 and 28]. This was a national thing, and it was fulfilled on a national level in the subsequent history of Israel.

[2] This physical 'blessing' and physical 'cursing' on the basis of Covenant obedience is never carried over into the New Testament people of God. Rather, those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are spiritually blessed, and those who do not believe remain under the curse of Genesis 3 and the curse of the Law referred to in Galatians 3:10-13.

[Christians are not under these blessings or cursings of the Sinai Covenant. Christians have been incorporated into the 'new covenant' which is sealed with the blood of Christ.]

A common misunderstanding

In Old Testament times, New Testament Times and our contemporary era, it is common for people to think in terms of a false spiritual equation:

That if you sin you will suffer - either ill health, or financial stress or loss.
That is you are 'good' you will be rewarded with health and wealth.

It is assumed that true spiritually and physical suffering are incompatible.

But both the Old and New Testament make it clear that it is wrong to make this assumption, because -

Good people do suffer.
Bad people do prosper.

This is forcefully dealt with in the book of Job. God affirms Job's true spirituality and Job's true faith. Yet God permitted Satan to afflict Job both financially and physically - indeed, with every kind of suffering known to man. Job's three friends held to the common misunderstanding, and concluded that Job must have had some terrible hidden sin. At the end God was angry with those three friends for saying what they did, and affirmed that Job was right in his denial of their accusations.

In the New Testament, the believer relates to God always on the basis of grace, and always 'in Christ', never as a stand-alone individual who might or might not deserve punishment or reward. Prosperity and health is irrelevant.

But the contemporary 'prosperity gospel', which is no gospel at all, tells you that if you are sick or poor it is because you have some hidden or unconfessed sin in your life that is the cause of it, or that you do not have enough 'faith' to claim your health or wealth. This is a gross perversion of God's truth, indeed, it is a substitute for God's truth. It casts the Christian back on himself, as if he were not hidden in Christ. Read Colossians 3:3.

If you type 'prosperity' in the search facility on my website you will find multiple studies including some reference to prosperity.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2018