Previously, we looked at the “prosperity gospel” (I prefer greed gospel) claim that God wants to make all Christians rich. Today, we’re going to look at the claim that poverty comes from disobedience to God or a lack of faith in Him. This idea is preached strongly by Benny Hinn, but it has absolutely no basis in Scripture.
Claim #2: Your Poverty Comes from Your Lack of Faith in or Disobedience to God
One of the most disgusting claims of the greed gospel is that poverty comes from a lack of faith or disobedience. This idea is not Biblical and is so far removed from the teachings of Jesus it’s heretical. On the contrary, Jesus often praised and blessed the poor and warned the rich:
20 He lifted up his eyes to his disciples, and said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.
24 “But woe to you who are rich! For you have received your consolation.
Luke 6:20 and Luke 6:24 (WEB)
I haven’t found a single place in my Bible where Jesus says, “Woe to you who are poor. If you’d only have more faith and be obedient, you’d be rich. All you need to do is send a seed of faith offering (or love offering) to my ministry to show your faith in the abundant riches God wants to give you!” Maybe you should check your Bible for yourself, but did I miss something in the Sermon on the Mount???
Jesus never claimed that everything would go well for those who choose to follow Him. He often warned of the trials His disciples would face because of their faith in Him. The only riches He promised were heavenly treasures and spiritual wealth. We only need to consider the apostles and the entire history of the Church to see that wealth and health do not always come upon those who follow Christ. On the contrary, they often give up the worldly riches they could have otherwise gained for themselves. If all those of the most faithful men and women of Christ were not rich and healthy, why do the greed evangelists claim that poverty comes from a lack of faith?
Throughout the New Testament we see a strong indication that we shall share in the sufferings of Christ. In fact, many have gloried in the fact that they share in Christ’s suffering and are persecuted for His name:
9 He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore I will rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (WEB)
Compared to knowing Christ, everything else is a loss. Riches don’t matter. Health doesn’t matter. Even death in this life doesn’t matter because we have gained Christ and the righteousness that comes from Him – guaranteeing us eternal life with Him.
7 However, what things were gain to me, these have I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yes most certainly, and I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death; 11 if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:7-11 (WEB)
And if you’d like to read Jesus’ words on the matter:
57 As they went on the way, a certain man said to him, “I want to follow you wherever you go, Lord.” 58 Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
Luke 9:57-58 (WEB)
I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have oppression; but cheer up! I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 (WEB)
Jesus doesn’t promise wealth and health to those who choose to follow Him. He warns of the persecution they will face and acknowledges that in this life we will have troubles and burdens. But what does He tell us? That we should give money and have faith that God will make us rich? No! He told us to cheer up because He has overcome the world. The Gospel of Christ is not that we were all made to be victors and become rich and healthy because God wants to bless us. The Gospel of Christ is that Jesus died for our sins, rose again, and overcame Hell and the world so that we might have eternal life in Him where the afflictions of this world will never affect us again. In light of that truth, we see that poverty, persecution, and disease have no power over us because they are only temporary conditions. No matter what happens to us in this life, we who follow Jesus have heavenly riches and spiritual health that can never be taken away.
Poverty is but an affliction of this world. It doesn’t matter for those who are in Christ, for we have riches in a bank that can never fail. Our investments in Heaven will never crash and lose all value. We have a secure hope in Jesus. Lack of faith does not produce poverty. But believing that your poverty comes from God is a lack of faith in His goodness. The Bible and the Church testify to the goodness of God – and we all know the unsearchable riches in the gift of Jesus Christ.
Do not be blinded by these charlatans who claim to profess the Word of God. They twist and contort the Gospel to make themselves rich, and they will be judged for their actions and words. They will be given the greater condemnation because they are leading so many of God’s people astray! They curse the poor and blast them for their “lack of faith”, but the poor who follow God in their integrity are much more blessed than those rich, greedy preachers:
Better is the poor who walks in his integrity, than he who is perverse in his ways, and he is rich.
Proverbs 28:6 (WEB)
There are two more false claims of the greed gospel that I want to examine. You can make sure you don’t miss the next two parts by signing up to get free updates to Provident Planning.