Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

February 28,2011

With References to Health, Wealth and Happiness, Has the Prosperity Gospel Overshadowed the Gospel of Christ

David W Jones, Russell S Woodbridge



Gen 12:1-3; 13 all; 15 all.

Gal 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ — that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Prosperity gospel preachers quote Galatians 3:14 to prove that believers access the same material blessings as Abraham did by faith. They teach that this is a performance-based covenant which obligates God to bestow material blessings on believers now by faith.

In reality the second half of Galatians 3:14 only bestows the Spirit itself by faith which brings justification. The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant and its blessings fall upon believers because they are already believers. Abraham received great financial blessings in Genesis 12 when he was NOT exercising faith.


1.  To assist believers, strangers and the poor.

2.  Love for God and love for others.

3.  To bring glory to God – to show that God and his kingdom are more important than things of the world.

4.  The gospel itself. One’s view of ownership changes.

5.  Reward. Heavenly rewards will consist of differing levels of responsibility in eternity. The question remains as to whether these rewards are material or spiritual in nature.


GIVING: 1 Corinthians 16:2

(1) periodic – weekly

(2) personal — everybody

(3) planned – put aside; store up

(4) proportionate – according to means

(5) plentiful – no collection when I come  (p154-155).


GIVING: 2 Cor 8 and 9. From Should the Church Teach Tithing? By Russell Earl Kelly

Christians are commanded to give freely, sacrificially, generously, regularly, joyfully and with the motivation of love for God and man. (1) Giving is a “grace.”

(2) Give yourself to God first (8:5).

(3) Give yourself to knowing God’s will (8:5). (4) Give in response to Christ’s gift (8:9; 9:15).

(5) Give out of a sincere desire (8:8, 10, 12; 9:7).

(6) Do not give because of any commandment (8:8, 10; 9:7).

(7) Give beyond your ability (8:3, 11-12).

(8) Give to produce equality. This means that those who have more should give more in order to make up for the inability of those who cannot afford to give as much (8:12-14). (9) Give joyfully (8:2).

(10) Give because you are growing spiritually (8:3-4, 7).

(11) Give because you want to continue growing spiritually (9:8, 10-11).

(12) Give because you are hearing the gospel preached (9:13).


Give to please God –not to gain God’s favor.

Give out of love –not out of greed or selfishness.


Matt 10:9-11 “Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city.”

At least while on evangelistic campaigns, gospel workers were to be totally supported by those whom they served. However the support was very minimal.

Matt 20:16 So the last shall be first, and  the first last: for many be called, but few chosen (110).

Those who strive to serve others are most exalted by God.

Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

We are not to lend while hoping for more in return.

Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Gal 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (114).

Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Phil 4:9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Whatever is worthy of worship or upholds the righteous standard of a holy God demands the attention of God’s people. A mind filled with God’s Word will desire the things of God.

Rewards are primarily future and spiritual. Christians ought to give to God out of a loving heart knowing that He will reward as He sees fit.

The gospel requires people to work in order to meet their needs.

The gospel focuses on the material needs of others.

The gospel warns others of the spiritual pitfalls of accumulated wealth.

The gospel encourages Christians to give from that which they have been entrusted.

The gospel teaches believers to have faith in Go.




Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Joyce Meyer of the Prosperity Gospel says “By his stripes I was healed. Healing belongs to me.”  Acceding to prosperity teachers, the cure for healing is to have a positive outlook – thinking and saying the right words (90).

Actually the healing comes as a miracle from God and not from our own positive outlook. And the verses clearly focus on spiritual healing of “our transgressions,” “our iniquity” and the “chastisement of our peace.”

If physical healing is promised in the atonement, then all believers should be healed when they exercise faith.

HEALING: Isaiah 53:4-5 is spiritual in nature – the remission of sins.

Matt 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.

Mark 8:9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

Mark 8:10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Faith that saves and heals is faith in the ability of Jesus Christ. It is not faith in self.

Matt 9:22 But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

Most of those who were healed in the New Testament had positive faith in His power to heal them. None had faith in themselves to heal themselves.



Luke 18:22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

Throughout history the most influential Church Fathers quoted Jesus, gave up great wealthy and preferred to live in poverty in order to serve the needs of humanity. This is true of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Cyprian, Tertullian, Augustine, Chrysostum, Jerome, Aquinas and almost all early Church Fathers. They literally interpreted Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler. Of course, prosperity teachers will ignore this historical fact.




Matt 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.


Luke 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Matthew 13:23 and Luke 8:15 is Jesus’ parable of the sower. It is about God who sows His truth (the gospel) (not money) in order to harvest souls (not money) for His kingdom. The context is NOT about money! In 13:10 the disciples asked Jesus why he taught in parables. Referring to knowledge of the “mysteries of heaven” in 13:11, Jesus said in 13:12 that those who are given knowledge from God will be given even “more abundance” –of knowledge, not money! Again this is referring to knowledge and not money.


Matt 19:23 … a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matt 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (125)

Matt 19:25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

Matt 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Mt 26:27 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

Matt 19:28 Jesus replied to the direct and pertinent question, “In the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Notice that the rewards are not earthly rewards for this age at all.

Matt 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.


Matthew 19:29 is in the aftermath of the rich young ruler leaving because he was not willing to give up his fortune and follow Jesus from 19:22. Jesus summed up the encounter by saying in 19:23 “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus’ statement would not make sense if he wanted his disciples to become rich with earthly possessions.


In Matthew 19:27, After reminding Jesus that the disciples had left everything and followed him, he asked “What then will there be for us?” In other words, “What kind of reward will we receive for following you?”


In 19:28 Jesus replied to the direct and pertinent question, “In the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Notice that the rewards are not earthly rewards for this age at all.


Jesus continues in 19:29, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” In the context of 19:28 this must only refer to “in the regeneration” and not to this current age.




Mark 10:29 There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
Mark 10:30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.


Luke 18:29 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake,

Luke 18:30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.


Prosperity teachers like John Avanzini, only quote Mark 10:30 from all the “hundredfold” texts because only it contains “in this time” (in this present age; NAS).


Contrary to the prosperity gospel advocates, it is almost certain that Jesus does not want believers to own 100 houses with property and literally have 100 sets of parents, brothers, sisters; common sense agrees. The “hundredfold” increase makes perfect sense when explained in terms of the body of Christ. All believers have at there availability the homes, parents, siblings and property of more than 100 other believers. Also, the prosperity teachers do not stress the “hundredfold” increase of persecution.


In conclusion, therefore, the New Testament does not teach that the “hundred-fold” blessing is a reference to personal physical financial blessings on earth for all Christians.





Prosperity gospel advocates teach that man has been created from the substance, or DNA, or God and is, therefore, a “god” himself with creative powers apart from God (63-64).


The truth is that the Bible does not teach that man is part of the substance of God. Man was created from the dust of the earth and the life principle was breathed into him but that is not the DNA of God (Gen 2:7). When the Bible says that man as made “in the image of God,” it refers to man’s ability to discern between right and wrong and his capacity to live eternally as the result of being born a second time (spiritually) and receiving the permanent indwelling Holy Spirit (Gen 1:26-27; 2:17).


Ps 82:1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

Ps 82:2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?

Ps 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

Ps 82:4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

Ps 82:5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

Ps 82:6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

Ps 82:7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

Ps 82:8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.


Psalm 82:1-7. (1) God is standing in the congregation among the “gods” (v1). (2) The “gods” are evidently dishonest judges and rulers of Israel (v2). (3) The “gods” are told to “do justice,” “defend the poor” and “deliver the poor” (v3-4). (4) The “gods” of verse 6 are the disobedient “gods” of 1-5. (5) The “gods” of verse 6 shall be brought down and “die like men” in verse 7. In John 10:34-35 Jesus quoted Psalm 82 and said that “gods” were those to whom the Word of God came.” Again, these are clearly judges and rulers who are normal men.


Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.


Men are not inherently good. Given the choice to obey or disobey, all men disobey. When men reach the age of knowing the difference between right and wrong, they choose the wrong and sin. Even our “rightesousnesses” are as “filthy rags” and not sufficient to save us.

Rom 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
3:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
Rom 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.


Contrary to the prosperity gospel (77), the Scriptures do not declare the “goodness” of man. Apart from the imputed righteousness given at Justification, “none is righteous” (Rom 3:10. Apart from God grace, no man seeks after God by himself (Rom 3:11-12; Jn 1:13).


Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.


Not only has all mankind sinned but all mankind continues to fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).





Contrary to the prosperity gospel with its many houses and jet planes, the Bible does not justify huge salaries of gospel workers.


An elder or pastor can reasonably expect support from the church where he serves. An elder does not have to draw support, however, as he may minister in a bivocational manner and receive little or no support from the church (Acts 18:1-3; 20:33-35; 1 Cor 9:6, 12, 15-19; Phil 4:14-16 (156).


Matt 10:10 Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.


Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.


Matthew 10 and Luke 10 describe Jesus sending out the 12 and 70 respectively as evangelists preparing the way and announcing his soon arrival to preach.  While doing so they were to live as the poorest of the land and depend entirely on others to house, clothe and feed them. These were temporary workers in a temporary place. The text is not discussing salaries of full time gospel workers.


For much more discussion on First Corinthians 9, see my book, Should the Church Teach Tithing?


1 Cor 9:7  Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?


Each vocation has its peculiar principles of support. The soldier is paid a very minimal salary but shares in spoils (9:7). The vineyard worker eats the grapes (9:7). The herdsman drinks the milk of the head (9:7).


1 Cor 9:8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?

1 Cor 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?


The ox which grinds the grain is worthy of double honor; he eats normally and he eats from what he grinds (9:9).


1 Cor 9:10 Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

1 Cor 9:11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?


The point is that a universal principle exists which reveals that workers deserve to be paid (9:8, 10-11).


1 Cor 9:12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.


Though not sent to you from the Jerusalem church as were Peter and others (9:1-6), we still have the same right to be paid as they (9:12).  However, in order to remove any cause for diminishing our gospel presentation, we choose not to receive any assistance from you, the church of Corinth (9:12).


1 Cor 9:13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?


Temple workers (Levites and priests) received both financial and food assistance from the many different laws such as tithing, sacrifices and vow offerings – things of the Temple as in the book of Leviticus.


1 Cor 9:14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.


Even so, in the same manner, as soldiers, vineyard workers, herdsmen, the grinding ox and Temple workers received payment for their work — gospel workers should live according to gospel giving principles of grace and faith. This primarily means sacrificial giving which is endorsed by the Holy Spirit.


1 Cor 9:15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.


While due some kind of recompense for my labor among you, I would rather die first than receive recompense from you. This is Paul’s stated personal opinion and not a command for others in gospel work.


1 Cor 9:16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

1 Cor 9:17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

1 Cor 9:18 What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

1 Cor 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.


Acts 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (See all of 20:29-35.)


Paul spent 3 years at Ephesus working to support both himself and those with him. He instructed the elders gathered in Miletus from Ephesus to work to help the needy in their assemblies and to follow Jesus’ example of giving rather than receiving.


Gal 6:6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.


Hearers of the Word of God should share everything they have with those who teach the Word to them.


1 Tim 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.


The context of 5:1-20 is discipline, not wages. Notice the word “rebuke” in both verse 1 and verse 20. “Double honor” means “double caution” while rebuking. Paul is not telling the church to pay its pastor-elder a double wage while he personally refused any wage.


1 Tim 5:18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.


As in Luke 10:7 a grinding ox had a double honor. It was un-muzzled to eat both the grass in the field and also the grain is was grinding. Yet this common sense explanation is ignored by many greedy preachers.


1 Tim 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.

1 Tim 5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.


Discipline, not wages, is the context.




POVERTY (98, 117, 119, 122, 129, 134, 135, 139)


In great error, prosperity preachers teach that it is a sin to be poor. It teaches that God is not intend for believers to be poor and that poverty is the result of a lack of faith.


Prov 30:8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
Prov 30:9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.


Contrary to prosperity preachers, the Bible neither promotes nor condemns either wealthy or poverty in and of themselves. Both have strong points and weak points.


Isa 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.


Jesus left the riches of heaven to live among his creation as a man, a kinsman-redeemer (Phil 2:1-8). He lived in Nazareth of Galilee as a poor carpenter’s son.


Mt 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Mt 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.


While prosperity preachers teach believers to accumulate wealth on earth, Jesus did not.


Matthew 8:20 “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.”


Jesus was poor.


Matthew 11:5 “The poor have the gospel preached to them.”


Matthew 12:1 the disciples and Jesus were allowed to glean food from property of others because they were poor.

Matthew 12:2 the Pharisees did not rebuke him for being wealthy and unqualified to glean.


Contrary to several prosperity preachers who teach that Jesus was wealthy, this is biblical proof that they were considered among the poor. As poor, they were allowed to glean in others’ fields for food.


Matthew 26:11 “You will always have the poor with you [even among believers].


This does not mean that the poor are cursed. They are a normal part of society.


Mark 8:34-35 Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

The prosperity gospel teaches believers NOT to deny themselves but to seek to enrich themselves.


Mark 12:42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.

Mark 12:43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:

Mark 12:44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.


There is not the slightest indication that the poor widow received any kind of financial blessing after giving her all – especially not 100 times more. She was not under a curse for being poor.


Luke 2:24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves , or two young pigeons.


This is proof that Jesus and his parents were among the poor. Turtledoves were only allowed as sacrifices for the poorest in society. Yet Jesus was God’s only begorten Son. See Lev 14:15.


Luke 6:20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.


This is not a statement heard from prosperity preachers.


Luke 14:13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:


Luke 14:21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.


Jesus’ parable of the wedding feast teaches that the poor replaced the wealthy because they are more likely to accept the gospel.


Luke 14:33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.


This is yet another argument against the prosperity gospel. Believers should acknowledge that all belongs to God and they should be willing to place all at God’s disposal.


Luke 18:22 Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.


Completely ignored by prosperity preachers, this single text was quoted by the Church Fathers of many centuries. They taught asceticism, not prosperity. Although equally as wrong as the prosperity gospel for the opposite reasons, they taught that one must be literally poor in order to be spiritually wealthy. This is true of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Chrysostum and Aquinas. Most early church leaders lived as paupers in monasteries.


Acts 3:6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.


Contrary to what prosperity preachers teach, there is absolutely no indication from Scripture that Jesus or His disciples were wealthy.


2 Cor 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.


The context is that God blessed many in the church at Corinth in order that they might use their wealth to help others. Compare James 2:5.


Phil 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

Phil 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung , that I may win Christ,


Contrary to the prosperity gospel, Paul forfeited the opportunity to gain wealth for the cause of the gospel.  He considered financial wealth to be dung.


Phil 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.


Paul set the example for what he taught Timothy and others in First Timothy 6:8.


1 Tim 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
1 Tim 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. (98)


Believers cannot carry any money to heaven. Verse 8 is certainly not a favorite among prosperity gospel preachers.


Heb 13:5 Let your conversation [conduct, character, life] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.


While prosperity preachers teach that believers should strive to be wealthy, God’s Word teaches us to be content with whatever we have (139).


James 2:5 Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?


Contrary to what prosperity preachers teach, it is the poor who are the strongest Christians and the richest in faith.


James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.


While prosperity preachers like to quote “you have not because you ask not,” they ignore the context of verses 2 and 3. God will not give something which is lusted after and desired for the wrong reason. And God willnot answer the prayers of those who only want to fight and kill (spiritually?) (96-97).


3 John 2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.


This text is a favorite quote of several prosperity preachers. First, John was not teaching doctrine; rather he was merely opening his letter with a greeting.

Second, and much more important, the Greek word for “prosper,” eu-o-dos-thai, is from two words, eu meaning “good” and odos meaning “way, road, journey” as in John 14:6. Several versions read “that all may go well.” In First Corinthians 16:2 it means “to the extent life has been good to you” and in Romans 1:10 it simply means a “good safe journey” (100).

Third, “as thy soul prospers” indicates that the text means “may matters be good for your physical life just as they have been good for your spiritual life” (100).


Part of Israel’s Old Covenant law was protection of the people from abuse by the more wealthy. None could be forced to work on the Sabbaths, many debts were to be forgiven on the seventh-year Sabbath and property was to be returned on the Year of Jubilee. Gleaning rights took from those who had and fed those who had not. The possession or lack of material goods is neither commended not condemned anywhere in Scripture in and of themselves – abuse is condemned plus the consequences of being so rich that one forgets his need for God (129).


The prosperity preachers teach that God saves so you can be famous and wealthy. God saves so you can fulfill all your dreams. People are encouraged to think too highly of themselves (161). They emphasize the conjuring of mystical forces of faith in order to meet material needs. They often emphasizes rewards as if they are the only motivation for giving. Most view rewards primarily as material in nature. This false gospel turns God’s grace into a law which He must obey (161).


Those in the prosperity gospel movement expect God to pay them back. They often give to see if God will come through. And thy often give out of guilt and obligation. Their gospel focuses on acquiring wealth for oneself. They teach that God is dependent on people to act. Since you are in control of your own destiny, thus suffering is an indication of your failure to utilize divinely designed means of blessing.


The prosperity gospel is consumed with the accumulation of wealth (140-141). However, when you start thinking that God exists to serve you and grant your desires, you usurp his place (160).




Prosperity preachers fail miserable when they want to link most suffering to personal sin and a lack of faith.


Abraham suffered marital strife between his wives. He suffered political strife with Pharaoh. He suffered the fate of his firstborn son, Ishmael, having to leave his presence and being called by God “a donkey of a man.” Except for his wife’s grave site, Abraham never owned any of the land he had been promised (108).

Jacob suffered from bad relations with Laban, squabbling wives, fear of his brother, bad eyesight and a dislocated hip. And Jacob died as a nomad in a foreign land.

Joseph was betrayed by his own brothers and separated from his father. He spent years in prison for a crime he did not commit (108).

Job lost everything he had after God allowed Satan to torture him. He suffered terrible misery from both his best friends and bodily affliction (109).

David suffered betrayal by his son and banishment as king by his own people. He was not allowed to build his dream project – the Temple.

Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and most other Old Testament saints suffered great affliction as leaders for God’s cause.

Jesus Christ, God’s most beloved God-Man, suffered more than can be imagined or described.

James and Stephen suffered martyrdom, plus countless others.

Paul, God’s most successful evangelist, suffered from beatings, prison, ship-wreck, snake-bite, sleeplessness, hunger, thirst, poor eyesight and poor speech. See 2 Cor 11:12. Yet God refused to end his physical suffering with divine healing.


Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Gen 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Gen 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

Gen 3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

Gen 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.


All suffering is the result of sin – whether direct or indirect, personal or somebody else’s sin. According to Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sinned, suffering resulted. Like a cancer sin began to affect human genetics to lessen the ability of our bodies to resist disease. It also affected the genetics of all creation such as the animal and vegetable world.  Consequently all mankind suffers through Adam’s sin (126-127) (Rom 3:23; 5:14-20).


Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.


The prosperity gospel does not teach believers to “deny” their material wants. Their doctrine is opposite to that taught by Jesus.


Luke 13:1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

Luke 13:2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?

Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Luke 13:4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

Luke13:5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (113)


Natural disasters and disasters caused by error of men (such as faulty construction) affect for good and bad persons.


John 9:1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

John 9:2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

John 9:3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.


Contrary to what prosperity preachers teach, poor health is not necessarily the result of personal sin.

John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
John 15:19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.


Believers can expect to be hated and persecuted. All is not roses.


Rom 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many (116).


As the head of our race, Adam’s sin brought suffering to all. His perfect DNA was changed by sin and that defective DNA was passed on to all mankind. We are also born into a world judicially guilty before God because Adam sinned as our representative.


Rom 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,


This is a reference to Adam’s sin.


Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


God can take the worst of situations in our life and change it into a good thing.


2 Cor 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.


Paul had asked God 3 times to remove his “thorn in the flesh” but God refused because God knew that Paul would be stronger spiritually.


Phil 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.


Phil 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Phil 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Phil 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:


2 Tim 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.


1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.


1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.


Prosperity preachers selectively choose texts and parts of texts which imply that believers should be healthy and not suffer.


1 Peter 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (p109)


First, suffering can be a warning sign of approaching danger; minor pain can warn of more serious conditions (118).

Second, suffering can warn that it is time to repent (Heb 12:11).

Third, pain can encourage some to find better relationships. Misery loves company. Trials can result in the comfort and ministry to others (2 Cor 1:6-7).

Fourth, nonbelievers can react positively when they see believers act in an appropriate way (118).

Fifth, the greatest benefit of suffering is the sanctification it fosters by forcing people to rely upon God (119).



The O.T. system under the Law was tithing. There were three different tithes from the increase of food from the holy land of Israel (143).


Gen 14:17-20. Abram tithed off other people’s goods, not his own income. The act of giving appears to be a single occurrence. No evidence in the biblical narrative suggests that God commanded this tithe or that Abraham regularly tithed off his own income.

Gen 28:20-22. Jacob apparently doubted God’s promise and told God that if He would grant him safety, provide food and clothing and bring him back to his father’s house in peace, then he promised God a tenth of his increase (150). When he returned safely two decades later, there is no mention of him tithing (151). As with Abraham, it is difficult to develop a clear on tithing from Jacob.


Num 18:20 And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.

Num 18:21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.

Num 18:22 Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die.

Num 18:23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance.

Num 18:24 But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.


All prosperity preachers teach their own redefined tithing. They ignore the following about biblical tithes: (1) Only food from inside Israel which God had miraculously increased. (2) Only to support OT Levites and priests. (3) OT tithe recipients could not own land inside Israel. (4) OT tithe recipients were to kill anybody else entering the sanctuary. (5) The Levite OT tithe recipients were not the ministering priests. And (6) God now relates to man under the New Covenant.


Num 18:25 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Num 18:26 Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.

Num 18:27 And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress.

Num 18:28 Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD’s heave offering to Aaron the priest.


The OT priests only received a tenth of the whole Levitical tithe (Neh 10:37-38).


Deut 14:28 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:

Deut 14:29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.


If one were to honestly teach OT tithing, one would be required to teach three tithes of 23% minimum.


Matt 23:23; Luke 11:42. This provides little help for a discussion of tithing because the Pharisees were not Christians, but Jews under the Mosaic Law (152).


Luke 18:9-14. The reference to tithing in this passage is largely incidental and is also applied to a Jewish Pharisee living under the Mosaic Law (153).


Hebrews 7:1-18. The main point of this passage is not to teach about tithing.





Matt 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:


Matt 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon [wealth].


One would not expect to hear prosperity preachers expounding on Matthew 6:19 and 6i:24.


Matt 19:23 … a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matt 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (125)

Matt 19:25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?

Matt 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.


Riches tend to make one depend on self rather than God. According to Jesus, the only way a wealthy person can be saved would be through a miracle of God. The odds are against the rich being saved. It is strange, then, that most prosperity preachers are very wealthy.


Luke 1:53 He has sent the rich away empty (no salvation).


Luke 6:24 Woe to you that are rich! For you have already received your comfort in full.


Luke 12:19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

Luke 12:20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

Luke 12:21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.


Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth (95).


1 Tim 6:9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.

1 Tim 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (137)


It is difficult to seek wealth and seek God at the same time.


1 Tim 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

1 Tim 6:18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;

1 Tim 6:19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

1 Tim 6:19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.


Along with wealth comes even more responsibilities to use that wealth to help others.  


1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (96)


This advice is contrary to many prosperity preachers who teach that believers should love the wealth of the world.


1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?






2 Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.


Eph 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 

Eph 1:5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 

Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.


1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.


1.  God created us in order that we might be holy (set apart for a sacred purpose) and stand before Him without blame (in the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ) in love (Eph 1:4; 2 Cor 5:21).


2.  God saved us in order that He might adopt us as his children (Eph 1:5).


3.  God saved us in order that we might praise Him. Everything is god-ward and not man-ward.


God saved you on account of his great love for you (160). God saved you so that you might glorify him forever and so that he might display his grace for all eternity (Eph 14-10) (170-161). We were rescued to glorify God and do good works. e exist in order to serve and worship and glorify God (159).





Prov 6:1 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger,

Prov 6:2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.


Saying the wrong words at the wrong time can be disatrous.


Prov 6:4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.

Prov 6:5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Prov 6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

Prov 6:7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

Prov 6:8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Prov 6:9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?


Do not sleep when you should be working. Lazy people who say the words of the prosperity preachers will not be enriched. Stay as alert as a hunted bird and work as hard as an ant.


Prov 6:10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:

Prov 6:11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.


You can sleep away your opportunity to gain wealth.


Prov 6:12 A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth.

Prov 6:13 He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers;

Prov 6:14 Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord.

Prov 6:15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.

Prov 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him.


This could be a description of many prosperity preachers. They speak with a perverse mouth (:12). Their body language is practiced to impress (6:13). They are actually scheming to get more of your money (6:14). Their sins will be exposed (6:15). God hates these kinds of people (6:16).


Prov 10:4 He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.


Diligent workers succeed whether one follows a prosperity preacher or not.


Prov 19:15 Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.


Prov 20:13 Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread. (131)


Prov 28:19 He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.


Like the vast majority of faithful tithers, the vast majority of those who give to prosperity preachers remain sick and poor. A certain percentage will always prosper because of their applied good work ethics.


Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”


Jesus always encouraged servanthood.


Eph 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.


Good hard work will produce wealth much faster than merely saying good words.


2 Thess 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (136)


The normal and biblical was of attaining wealth is through hard work, long hours, self-deprivation and striving to educate oneself. Contrary to the prosperity gospel, wealth is not he result of merely saying the right words over and over.







Spiritual Wealth produces Material Wealth.

This error says that the correct fervent application of faith in yourself and faith in word will produce material wealth. This cannot be demonstrated by the vast majority of prosperity followers who keep having hope in hope that they will become wealthy.



Spiritual Poverty produces Material Wealth.

This error says that those who remain materially poor will be spiritually rich. Yet many of the poorest do not seek God.



Spiritual Poverty produces Material Poverty.

This was the prevailing error of Job’s friends, Jesus’ disciples in John 9 and many others. Yet many atheists and agnostics are very wealthy apart from any religious convictions.



Material Wealth produces Spiritual Poverty      .

Although close to the truth, God does bless many believers with wealthy in order to help others. Wealth tends to make men rely on self rather than God.


Assembled by Russell Earl Kelly, PHD