William Stout / General
Biblical Christianity / Wealth; Prosper; Prosperity Gospel / Malachi 3:8–12; Deuteronomy 8:17–18; Luke 5:11
What is Prosperity?
- Prosperity: the condition of being successful or thriving especially: economic well-being
- successful – thriving – and economic well being
- Does God want us to “prosper”?
- Whether or not we pursue a thing ought to determined by this answer
- Does God want us to have wealth?
- Does God want us to be comfortable in our lifestyles?
- What does the bible say?
Deuteronomy 8:17–18 NKJV
then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’
“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
Wealth comes from God
- to establish His covenant with us
3 John 2 NKJV
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
- So God wants us to prosper in all things –
- As our soul prospers
Luke 12:32 NKJV
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Proverbs 10:22 NKJV
The blessing of the Lord makes one rich,
And He adds no sorrow with it.
Genesis 24:35 NKJV
The Lord has blessed my master greatly, and he has become great; and He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys.
- So, Abraham’s wealth was clearly a blessing from God.
We can conclude then that God’s desire for us is that we are prosperous
- Does the bible promise us this wealth and prosperity?
- If so, why is there so much criticism about the prosperity Gospel?
- Why are do so many people believe that Christians, especially ministers, should not be wealthy?
- Why are there so many warnings in the bible about greed?
- Why so much criticism in the Bible, especially New Testament, about the rich?
- It may seem as if God has a desire for us to be prosperous and then condemns the very people who achieve this desire.
- Or, is there more to the story?
What is “Biblical Prosperity”?
- By “biblical Prosperity”, I mean that type of wealth or other success which is commended in the bible instead of criticized.
- We know that there is such a thing since we have examples in the Bible of people who were very wealthy, and pleasing to God
- People such as Abraham, Isaac, David, Solomon, many of the kings, and others – Joseph of Arimathaea, Zacchaeus etc.
- What is necessary on our part to achieve this kind of wealth?
- We will look at a few more scriptures and a few of these people
There are Conditions
- A lot of people don’t like to hear this
- But there are conditions, or circumstances, which can cause God to be pleased by our blessings, or displeased (Gen 6)
- “… That He may establish His covenant with us…”
Malachi 3:8–12 NKJV
8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;
12 And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
- So here we begin to see a scenario whereby, although we have already concluded that God’s desire is to bless the people, He is intentionally withholding that blessing, based on their selfishness
- God actually refers to their selfishness as “robbing God”
- Which results in a curse – linked to their lack of giving
- Yet it is clearly His desire to give them wealth, as we see in His pleading with them to “bring the whole tithe…
Proverbs 11:24–25 NKJV
There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
And there is one who withholds more than is right,
But it leads to poverty.
The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.
- For an example of what this looks like, we can see in the life of Abraham
- In Abraham we see a Godly attitude toward wealth
- Abraham was very rich –
Genesis 13:1–2 NKJV
Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.
- We can see in Abraham’s life a right attitude toward prosperity – an attitude that God approves
- 1st When God called him to leave his country – not knowing where he went
- When there was strife with Lot – Abram did not think that this wealth was something to hold on to if it meant strife with Lot (compare to Phil. 2)
- Abram was not willing to add to his wealth if it meant taking from Sodom or withholding from God –
Genesis 14:17–23 NKJV
And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said:
“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
And he gave him a tithe of all.
Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’—
- So Abraham willingly gave a tithe of all
- Yet, he refused even so much as a shoe lace from king of Sodom
- what if we made choices like that?
- Always placing God 1st –
- 1st in our giving to Him
- 1st in our relations with others
- Never willing to be friends with the enemy in order to gain
- What if we were not willing to compromise in order to get ahead?
- How many people do you know who are willing to break their own moral code in order to fit in, or be accepted?
- Compare this to Lot’s attitude toward wealth
- Lot’s attitude was “me 1st” always
- He was not willing to simply back down in the dispute
- More concerned with his own interests – unthankful
- He made sure that he took the best land for himself – probably telling himself that God wanted to bless him
- He and his wife enjoyed the comforts of the city, even though the sin was rampant
- We continue to see Abraham’s attitude even in offering up his son Isaac
Hebrews 11:17 NKJV
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
Genesis 22:16–18 NKJV
16 and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son—17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
- So, with Abraham we see a person who has wealth, but is not had by wealth
- although he has been blessed by God, he is willing to release it when needed
- Abraham is generous, kind, and faithful
Abraham believed God
- This is why it seemed so easy for Abraham to trust God and let go of things
- He believed God when he first left his home, before he was wealthy
- Because he believed God, he could trust that God would take care of him
- So, knowing God wanted him to avoid strife with Lot, he trusted God
- Not out of fear, he was no pushover, as we see in battle to rescue Lot
- Because of these characteristics, God was able to bless him abundantly
Believing leads to trusting
- Trusting God leads to pleasing God
- We find this principle supported throughout the scripture. People who trust in their prosperity do not benefit from it or please God, while people who trust in God have both.
- people who are self centered, or selfish do not please God
- this is true even when they seem to be religious
Luke 18:11–14 KJV 1900
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
- The Pharisee was not only outwardly religious, he was also a tither
- Yet he was not pleasing to God – although he may have had money, he did not have “biblical prosperity”
- Like good works, giving won’t save you
- Like good works, if you are saved you will have them, if you want biblical prosperity you will be a giver
- Consider the contrast between Zacchaeus and the rich young ruler, who we mentioned last week
- As you recall the rich young ruler went away sad when Jesus invited him to give, and follow Him
- He was sad because he had much possessions and didn’t want to part with them
- Zacchaeus was filled with joy at giving
Luke 19:8–9 KJV 1900
8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. 9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
- Finally, consider Peter and James and John, when they first became disciples
- They had been fishing and caught nothing
- Jesus gave them instruction to let down the net
- although they were experts in their trade, they obeyed
- can you imagine this?
- They caught more fishes than ever they had
- enough to fill their nets, and fill their boats, even to the point of sinking
- This was no small blessing
- And then Jesus said “from now on you will catch men”
Luke 5:11 KJV 1900
11 And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
- These men were business owners. Probably of reasonable means
- they were not poor people – they had a degree of prosperity
- So, why didn’t Jesus just tell them the reason they didn’t catch any fish was because they were called to preach, not fish?
- Why do you suppose He did the miracle of the fish in the first place?
- It is clear they did not cash in on the benefit
- They cold have done a great deal with that
- So, Jesus gave them the financial blessing they thought they wanted –
- And then He offered them another choice – even more – but different
- They could have kept the fish – or not
- They chose a great deal more prosperity – This is biblical prosperity
- People who do good works to be saved, are not saved. People who give only to get do not receive the biblical prosperity
- Biblical prosperity does not consist of money and cannot be measured in money (although it may include money. And it may not).