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The prosperity gospel simply a repackaged Pharisee doctrine

By Learnmore Zuze

“In all generations you will not find a man whose words gave greater condemnation to earthly riches than Jesus Christ”

Many will remember a popular TV series in the early 90s which featured the American-Vietnam war. I was touched by a sound principle which guided the troops: whatever happened, no soldier was allowed to leave an injured fellow in the thick of war.

Learnmore Zuze
Learnmore Zuze

Likewise, I felt this principle applies tenfold to spiritual matters. It would be tantamount to leaving injured fellows if I were to continue writing on the theme of today’s false prophets yet my inbox is overwhelmed by requests for another piece on the deceitful gospel of prosperity.

I had intended to continue with the theme of false prophets but for the ‘injured’ I had to comply.

In four different pieces, I have written on the diabolical nature of the modern prosperity gospel and its true motives. There are many foundations upon which the prosperity gospel is founded and chief among them is the belief that one’s earthly material possessions indicate God’s working in their life.

A famous prosperity preacher captured this truth well when he asked, “If God can’t give you a Harare mansion what makes you think he will give you a Heavenly mansion?” In other words, God’s people should be richly blessed in this life as an indicator of future Heavenly prosperity.

Another Pastor said, “I once led the village flock and even there, you can immediately tell whether a villager is blessed or cursed because some don’t even own wheelbarrows.” So to the prosperity world, every follower of Christ must be rich because, “…he became poor so that we may be rich.”(2 Cor 8:9).

Scrutinized in the light of context this proves to be a clever and indeed satanic distortion of Scripture to misguide the gullible. This verse which clearly refers to the pre-existence and eternality of Christ is painfully twisted to suit the pursuit of wealth.

As one of the Godhead, Christ is as rich as God yet for our sake he came to sinful earth and dwelt amongst sinful humanity (Phil 2:5-8). Some of the statements heard at prosperity gatherings shockingly degrade the poor person.

There is one well known DVD in which a prosperity-preacher tells congregants who own houses in the high density suburbs to sit down because, “you are not yet landlords.” This is no straw man’s argument as others might want to say hence I had to quote verbatim.

In fact, most readers have asked me to focus on my readers and not get ensnared by erroneous responses to my articles. Basically, all the hullalabaloo that goes on in prosperity gatherings boils down to the belief that one with God has to be wealthy and conversely one without God has to be poor.

During presentations, I have noted a sense of realization dawning on most faces when the Bible starts proving that the first teachers of the gospel of affluence were the Pharisees. The Pharisees taught and lived the affluent lifestyle.

The similarity in the doctrine of the Pharisees and the modern gospel of prosperity is mind blowing. Pharisees were an elite social and religious movement and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple Period. This group viewed itself as set aside as the name itself means.

Pharisees were notorious for their respect and regard for riches and all that riches purchase. The Bible describes the Pharisees in an incident where Jesus had emphatically warned against riches, “The Pharisees who were lovers of money heard all these things and they derided him.”(Luke 16:14).

This was a group of people who were wealthy and despised the common people. The chief similarity between the Pharisee and the modern prosperity preacher is the belief that money, wealth or affluence denotes closeness to God.

The scornful words alluded to in the expression “they derided him were no doubt directed against the outward poverty of the popular Galilean teacher (Jesus). They were evidently attacked in Jesus’ teaching as they had been lately listening not to the common people whom they despised.

That’s why the arrival of Jesus on the scene struck them like a bolt of lightning from the blue sky. What Jesus advocated shook the affluent people of his time. Christ represented everything that disproved the Pharisee’s gospel of affluence.

How else could they explain the fact that one who was landless and moneyless was from God? How could one who wore no fine robes and owned no possessions be from God? It all did not make sense for a poor Galilean teacher to claim association with God.

How could the carpenter’s son say, “…woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort (Luke6; 24).How could anything good come out of Nazareth? How could he firmly condemn earthly possessions which gave them class?

All these questions troubled the pharisaic mind because to them godliness was manifested in affluence (exactly as they teach today).

I am yet to find a man who solidly rebuked the affluence gospel than Jesus Christ. Yes, Apostle Paul warns firmly against earthly wealth but Jesus takes the cup. Jesus practically turned the prosperity doctrine upside down in the sixteenth chapter of Luke.

In the chapter, Jesus being fully aware of the prosperity mindset of the Pharisees turns their belief upside down by wisely bringing the story of poor Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19). Lazarus was poor and wretched on earth and begged at the rich man’s gate. Now, in heaven, the tables turned.

The affluent (rich man) became the wretched and the wretched (Lazarus) became the affluent. Jesus told this story for two chief reasons: firstly, to silence the erroneous wealth doctrine of the Pharisees and secondly, for you dear reader living today that you may not be deceived by the same repackaged doctrine.

The same gospel has come back colorfully packaged to deceive and indeed thousands have been deceived. It’s simply a repackaged doctrine of the Pharisees which Jesus condemned in word and indeed.

In Jesus’ own words, some of the seed in the Parable of the Sower is choked out by the “deceitfulness of riches” (Matt 13:22).The Pharisaic gospel can never become the Gospel of Truth simply by preaching it in designer suits under large buildings.

As long as the Bible we all use is the one inspired by the Holy Spirit, then we boldly proclaim that the modern prosperity wave is inspired by the Arch-rebel. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ never taught us that kind of gospel. Our Jesus was a darling of the poor, the downtrodden and the struggling.

He never insulted the poor for once as we hear today. He stands out as the greatest preacher against building treasures on earth were moth and rust destroy (Matt 6:19, 20). It is frivolous and vexatious to say that Jesus was counted amongst the rich when he was the foremost speaker against the deceitfulness of riches. That he could feed thousands through a miracle does not in any way depict earthly wealth on his part as taught by the modern Pharisee.

Jesus Christ spoke against the prosperity gospel in a thousand and one ways. Volumes can be written on how he condemned earthly riches. I am astonished by men who devote three full years of studying Theology yet they come out without this Heavenly truth.

If you ask me, I will tell you that most of these men know what they are doing. These men, like the Pharisees have a mandate; whether they are conscious or unconscious of it. The Pharisees had a mandate to destroy the people’s salvation by silencing Jesus.

Today’s prosperity marketer has been mandated to distract the people of God from focusing on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. There is no critical and decisive event in Christianity today than the awaited Second Coming of Jesus Christ which unfortunately these men are fighting hard to subdue.

Dear brothers and sisters, when Jesus descends he has nothing to do with the mansions we owned. He has no interest in the number of farms we owned. He will not ask how fat our bank accounts were. Jesus has no business with how many expensive garments we wore.

To pastors (shepherds), he will not ask how many believers we taught how to acquire wealth but will ask how many we pointed towards salvation. The Man comes to take those who have done his Will. He rewards each one according to what they have done.

The rich man and Lazarus story is prophetic and once again will prove true against the alienating gospel of prosperity.

I must, as a parting shot, hasten to say that I am not qualified at all to say whether or not the rich will enter Heaven as many have asked me but like Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”(Matt 19:24)

This is bitter and unwanted truth in prosperity circles. I really wonder whether my brothers who feed their flock with worldly riches gospel have come across these Scriptures. I have no option but to conclude that the heart-hardening spirit which led the Pharisees hardens them to stand defiantly against the truth of Jesus Christ.

Lucifer, the founding architect of the modern prosperity gospel is afraid of the dreadful Day of Jesus’ return(Rev 1:7) which is fast approaching hence he has arrayed an army of his servants to go all out to deceive them that dwell on earth. The Holy Spirit groans for us and desires that no one should be lost.

Jesus’ Second coming is real-whether we like it or not. Focus should be on repentance from sins because no sinner has a part in the Kingdom of God. The hell fire will destroy sin and everyone harboring sin. It is not wealth but repentance from sin which is the urgent need of this evil world.

From the days of Adam to our own time, our great Enemy has been exercising his power through various agents but I thank Christ our refuge who has given us the spirit of discernment against the machinations of the Evil One.

Satan may splash wealth in this life but true Christians are not moved an inch for, we have no abiding city on this earth. Our Lord brings a New Earth (Rev 21:1) and we eagerly await his return. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

This is the last hour. Take heed that no-one deceives you.

You can e-mail Learnmore Zuze or (Last Hour Ministries) at lennyzuze@gmail.com