The teaching of many of today’s mega churches (not all, it’s important to say, but many) remind me of a cappuccino. I love cappuccino. I enjoy scooping the froth off the top with a spoon, and slowly savouring each mouthful. The deeper the froth, the better the cappuccino, as far as I’m concerned. I was thinking about this the other day, and it occurred to me that I don’t actually like coffee very much, it’s really only the froth part of the cappuccino that I enjoy. After I’ve finished with the froth, I just gulp down what’s left in the cup, but it isn’t with any real pleasure, it’s simply because it’s there, and I don’t want to waste it. The thing is, whats left in the cup is the real thing. The froth is just fluffy stuff that may have picked up a vague flavour or aroma from the REAL thing.
The modern church is plagued with ear-tickling, self proclaimed ‘teachers’, who preach, at best a frothy, vaguely gospel flavoured message, and at worst, outright heresy.
The gospel they preach is a false one. They distort the Bible, take portions of scripture out of context, and make it say what they and their audience wants it to say.
A ‘Better You’ Gospel
These are the preachers of the “prosperity gospel.” Rather than preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, they preach a frothy, wishy-washy version that goes along the lines of, “come to Jesus (or worse- ‘come to church’) and your life will be better. God wants you to be rich. It’s not God’s will for any to be sick. And so on. Who doesn’t want to hear all the above? But that doesn’t make it true.
What The Bible Says About Such Teachers
This is not a new issue. The apostle Paul repeatedly warned about these kind of teachers. Here’s just one example:
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)
Paul continues in the next verse:
“As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”2 Timothy 4:5 (ESV)
“Endure suffering,” says Paul. Hmm, I wonder what the prosperity guys think of this? Do they simply redact this verse and similar verses from their Bibles? After all, we are supposed to be having a “better life” aren’t we? Suffering doesn’t fit very well into that picture! I thought I’d check it out, and it didn’t take much investigation before I discovered something; Here is the same scripture in the Passion ‘Translation’, (which is in fact not a translation but a paraphrase – a very ’loose’ paraphrase at that)
“So be alert to all these things and overcome every form of evil. Carry in your heart the passion of your calling as a church planter and evangelist, and fulfill your ministry calling.”2 Timothy 4:5 (TPT)
Oh dear. I’m sure you see it too. Any reference to ‘endurance’ and ’suffering’ has been sanitised right out of the verse in this version and has been very subtly softened; changed to something more ‘acceptable’, ‘palatable’ and ear tickling to the audience of the frothy preacher. “overcome every form of evil” definitely sounds more appealing than ”endure suffering,” doesn’t it?
What Did Jesus Actually Say?
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”Matthew 16:24 (ESV)
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 (ESV)
”Deny Yourself”. “You’ll face tribulation”. That doesn’t sound very ‘prosperous.’ The early church were persecuted for their faith, beaten, thrown into prison – including Paul, who wrote these words:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;”2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Following Jesus doesn’t mean we will leave behind trouble and hardship. And Jesus does not promise health, wealth and prosperity. But what He does promise is far better. He promises His peace. It’s a peace that nothing and no one else could ever give. It’s a peace that sustains us, through anything the world might throw at us.
He promises His presence, which will never leave, or forsake us.
I do not believe there’s a single scripture in the Bible that supports a health, wealth and prosperity gospel; a life free from hardship, sickness or need.
But, …. there are SO MANY promises of God for His children to hold onto in our time need; promises to strengthen, uphold, help, work everything together, shelter, comfort and save.
This, dear reader, is the abundant life that Jesus gives (see John 10:10).