William was watching Benny Hinn on television. Hinn told about how he and another preacher had held a healing service. He said that so many people got healed and left their wheel chairs that the empty wheel chairs were in the way. William wondered if miracles like that really happened and if they were a sign of real Christianity.
Those who believe a prosperity gospel are not united in one organization. The religion is also called the “Faith Movement” or “Word of Faith Movement.”
Ministries based on the prosperity gospel are usually started by individuals who gain attention with unusual doctrines and talented preaching. Each ministry is built on a person who becomes a religious celebrity. Examples are Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Morris Cerullo, Myles Munroe, and Kenneth Hagin.
Many people believe that these teachers are renewing churches to a level of spiritual power that has rarely been experienced since the first generation of the church. They are charismatics, but they teach new doctrines that do not represent all charismatic and Pentecostal Christians.
The prosperity teachers attract people out of other churches. They say that every believer will be rich and healthy if he learns how to use faith.
They claim that many miracles happen in their ministry, but most of the miracles do not have good evidence. The people who are getting rich are the ones who are getting donations from their followers.
Doctrines of the Prosperity Gospel
The teachers of the prosperity gospel emphasize new revelation, and many of their doctrines are not in the Bible. They are most known for their teachings about faith, emphasizing that every person can have health and wealth. They promise that every person can be healed. They say it is God’s plan for every Christian to be rich.
They believe that faith is a universal force that man can use, just as God uses it. They think man can use it without depending on God and without trying to know God’s will. Hinn said, “Never pray thy will be done.” Hagin said, “I pray by demanding my rights.”
Their doctrines about faith are based on doctrines of God that are different from historical Christianity. Their doctrines do not make a consistent system. For example, they would claim to believe in the Trinity, but they make statements that contradict that claim.
They believe that God the Father is a physical man who made Adam as a copy of himself. They believe that faith is the impersonal power and substance of the universe. They believe that God uses the power of faith to create and do miracles, and that we can use it the same way. They believe that just as God spoke the world into existence, believers can speak things into existence.
Kenneth Hagin said that every believer is as much an incarnation as Jesus Christ. Kenneth Copeland said that Adam was not almost like God, but an exact copy. They emphasize that because people are copies of God, they should be able to do what God does. Hagin said that any believer with knowledge of the Word could have defeated Satan in hell like Jesus did. Hagin said that man before the Fall could stand in God’s presence without any inferiority, and lived on terms equal to God. Copeland said man was not created to be the servant of God but an associate of God.
Benny Hinn said that the believer does not need to depend on Jesus because the believer is everything that Jesus is, or was, or ever will be. They believe that God gave authority over the earth to man, and man gave it to Satan. They believe that God cannot do anything in the earth unless people give him permission. They believe that God does not own the earth or rule over it.
International Replication of the Religion
Many new churches with the prosperity gospel have begun in various countries. Many of them imitate things they see of American teachers on television. Some use books and videos from prosperity preachers in America.
Sometimes new leaders start their own new denominations and try to build a religious kingdom on their own personality. Their group may become like a cult by claiming to have new revelation, so they can offer things that no other church has.
Responding to the Prosperity Gospel
Paul wrote to Corinthian believers to correct a misunderstanding that they had about the Christian life. See 1 Corinthians 4:8-13. Many of them had been very poor before becoming Christians. They thought that because they became children of God, with faith and spiritual gifts, they could begin to have wealth and status in the world. Paul said,
“You are full, you are rich, you have ruled like kings.”
We know that he was talking about their claims and not reality, because then he said,
“I wish you really did rule, and that we could rule with you.”
He went on to say that even the apostles as leaders of the church suffered poverty and had low status in the world. Though they had great faith and spiritual gifts, they sometimes were hungry, homeless, and worked to support themselves. Faith is not a guarantee of wealth.
In another passage, Paul explained that all creation is still suffering the results of the curse on sin. See Romans 8:22-23. All living creatures suffer and struggle to survive. He said that even Christians still suffer physically and are waiting for the time when their bodies will be redeemed. Though we are saved, yet not all of the results of salvation have been finished. We will still have sickness, aging, and death until we get to heaven.
Sometimes God heals, but we are not guaranteed that we can live free from all physical problems. Hebrews 12 records the lives of many heroes of faith. They accomplished great things because they believed the promises of God and obeyed God. One of the evidences of their faith was that they were able to endure hard times for the sake of their faithfulness to God. Not only did they suffer persecution from the world, they suffered need. Many of them were homeless and lacked food and clothing (Hebrews 11:37-38). They did not suffer these things because they had no faith, but because they had faith. They were willing to lose everything in the world for the sake of their relationship with God.
Not only did they suffer persecution from the world, they suffered need. Many of them were homeless and lacked food and clothing (Hebrews 11:37-38). They did not suffer these things because they had no faith, but because they had faith. They were willing to lose everything in the world for the sake of their relationship with God.
The Bible warns against the love of money. See 2 Thessalonians 6:6-10. The person who is trying to be rich will fall into spiritual traps and end up with much sorrow. The love of money causes every kind of evil. We are to be satisfied with the necessities.
The prosperity gospel attracts sinners by appealing to worldly goals instead of calling for repentance. The prosperity gospel does not give a realistic, satisfying, Christian view of human suffering.
The prosperity gospel creates a proud attitude that is disrespectful to other churches, older Christians, and even God.
The prosperity gospel makes promises that God does not make, leading to disappointment and loss of faith. The biblical gospel is a message of hope to the person who knows that he is guilty of sin and wants forgiveness and peace with God. The relationship with God begins with repentance and submission of our will. The Christian lives in daily obedience to God, humility, and surrender to God’s
The Christian lives in daily obedience to God, humility, and surrender to God’s will. God invites us to bring all needs to him in prayer, but we must accept his will in every situation. God promises that everything is under his control and that he will work everything for our good, but he does not promise to take away all suffering immediately.
The Lord’s Prayer is an example of a Christian attitude. It contrasts with the attitude of the prosperity teachers who claim power and honor themselves. See the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. In this prayer we find that the priority is the kingdom and glory of God, and everything is to be submitted to his will.
In this course, we will explain the basic beliefs and history of selected cults and religions, contrasting them with Christianity and evaluating their doctrines and practices by the Bible.
You will be better prepared respond to the errors of wrong religions and to protect Christians from deception.
Without a doubt this is one of the most practical course SGC has developed and we believe it will make you a more informed, discerning and redemptive spiritual leader.