By Osgood Tafira
I am writing this article with the purpose of disparaging the philosophies and the “improper” use of the Bible by self-proclaimed Pentecostal movement prophets with the objective of achieving selfish means or to spreading a “false” Gospel other from what is revealed in the Bible.
Armed with Biblical defence I shall lay bare as we go, the error of the principles of these preachers of prosperity so called Gospelneurs. My aim is to defend the true teaching of Scripture, the truth for which many saints have sacrificed their lives.
I am writing this with no childish or hasty emotions but with gladness that God has chosen me to armour up and join Peter and Paul in fighting this wicked wave of demonic doctrine that has crept its way into the modern day church.
The “Prosperity Gospel” is nothing but a self-enrichment scheme being carried out in the name of God – with some selected passages of Scripture, which are interpreted outside their intended context.
Their message preys on people’s greed, lust for money and desperation for a better life and lures the greedy and the innocent into a religion which worships Mammon rather than the true God. We seek Jesus and hope to find Him in the church, not worldly riches for it is written in the Bible from Matthew 6:33-34, ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble’.
Gospelneurs are promising believers automatic material and financial prosperity during this life ignoring the reality of the fact that even the righteous may undergo suffering and deprivation, as demonstrated in the experience of Job. Matthew 6:33 does not say, ‘But seek first material wealth and a luxurious lifestyle, and the kingdom of God will be added to you’, as the Gospelneurs’ doctrine proclaims.
“The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” (Romans 13:12-14)
The purpose of religion is to enrich the soul, not to materially enrich the flesh. Since Gospelneurs reduce God’s blessings to material gain, anyone who falls into financially hard times must be guilty of sin or unbelief. If God’s will is for everyone to be wealthy, then anyone who is poor is suffering from his own unbelief or disobedience.
This places a terrible burden on the poor for it is unfair and unbiblical, (Conrad Chibango, Lecturer at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts, Great Zimbabwe University, in his article entitled “Prosperity Gospel, A Path out Of a Socioeconomic Crisis?
The Case of the PHD Ministries of Walter Magaya, Zimbabwe, writes, “Magaya believes that both individuals and society at large should be pro-active in terms of promoting wealth by venturing into business.
According to him, business venture is important because it supplements salaries. During one of his question-and-answer sessions with his congregants he stated that not going into business was tantamount to stupidity. ‘If you are a member of PHD and you rely on your salary then you are daft,’ he said. For him, every individual has the capacity to run a profitable business (Mataire 2015).
In his view, there is no salary that will ever be enough for anyone. Instead, if anyone wanted to be rich, they should create their own empires. This route to prosperity also demands one to save money in order to invest, not in cars and luxurious things, but in houses and properties (Magaya [n.d.]a).”
In other words he was saying Lazarus was a stupid, worthless and lazy person who spent all his days loafing at a rich man’s gate, yet the Bible says Lazarus went to heaven but the rich man did not and when he was anguishing in hell, he asked Abraham for Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool his tongue, for he was in agony in the flames but Abraham told him it was impossible. He then asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to life to warn his brothers and Abraham said it was not necessary since Moses and the Prophets were already sent.
Jesus turned water into wine but he clearly specified that it was not his purpose or His mission on Earth. Why? Because it did not help anyone in a spiritual way! Jesus came for our souls. He did not come to solve our economic woes.
He came to warn us that this world, because of Satan, was going to end and He was the spaceship to another but much better place (Heaven, where Satan cannot be) and if we wanted to come with Him, all we needed to do was to obey Him, Moses and the Prophets.
If it is not so, we may as well dismiss the validity of our salvation since it is but a secondary thought. Gospelneurs on their pulpits imply that every rich person is already saved without obeying God’s commandments, thereby, mistaking materialism for salvation. Jesus’ first objective being the getting rid of poverty is an insult to God’s salvation plan for humanity. The problem of humanity was not and is not an economic one; man has a spiritual problem of sin.
Therefore, the primary need of humanity is not wealth but salvation from sin and the bondage of Satan. The angel that came to Joseph made it plain that the child’s name was to be “Jesus, because he is the one who will save his people from their sins.”
The law and prophets came into place just for one reason – because of men’s need for salvation from sin not economic liberty. All prophets and the law were pointing towards Jesus the deliverer from sin. If poverty was the foremost plan of Jesus then we first need economic analysts to come talk to the church folks and then preaching can follow later when all the economic challenges are sorted out.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
The house of many rooms mentioned here by Jesus in this scripture is the life goal of every ambitious mind. Those who aim to be billionaires, at the same time neglecting the needs of the spirit, lack ambition. One is not ambitious if he works all his life accumulating worldly wealth at the expense of his seat in heaven. (Mark 8:36) ‘For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?’
God loves us the way we are even in poverty, He is with us, always and one does not need to have a thousand employees under him in order to feel the presence of Jesus in his life. One does not need to drive a posh car as manifestation of the presence of God in his life. Charms, goblins and sorcery can also provide that for people.
True riches incorruptible are of the spirit and only God knows who is who.( The story of Lazarus) What about Christ himself speaking in Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also?” Does it sound like He is saying that Billionaires must store their billions in some bank in heaven? No! May the Lord Jehovah our God have mercy on them!
(2 Timothy 2:4) ‘Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (3) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (4) and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths’. The most unfortunate part of this tragedy is that there are some people who actually want to pay to receive God’s blessings as if they never read a single verse in the Bible or even saw the good great book altogether!
On our knees my brothers and sisters, praying, is the road to paradise. Curse no one but Satan for he is the enemy, not your hyena riding relative. Love everyone, and if one takes your robe, offer him your tunic also! Anyone who disagrees with that is ‘turning away from listening to the truth’ and anyone who agrees with Makandiwa (judgement night) about cursing an enemy has ‘accumulated a teacher to suit his own passions!’
Gospelneurs are not competent or equipped for every good work. The Bible says there is no benefit in loving only the ones who love you for sinners do the same. So if one curses his enemy, then he is no different from him subsequently dooming the both of them. These Gospelneurs are teaching a different kind of gospel, a gospel we were warned about by the Apostles that some ‘itching ears’ are going to accumulate.
Although we are not obligated to be poor, the chief ambition in a Christian’s life is to accumulate heavenly treasures. The rich are often satisfied with the earth and find it difficult to give up their earthly riches. The snare of riches is that there can never be enough. There is no end to the lengths the heart will go when it is set on a desire for money. Remember when Magaya used to drive a Demio?
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9) Thus, to use prayer as a means to request of God worldly gain is to ask inappropriate. “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:3)
Instead of such things, one should be asking for spiritual gifts such as wisdom, peace, patience and the Holy Spirit. James 1:5; Luke 11:13 Jesus said, “…every one that hath forsaken houses… or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matthew 19:29)
Here Jesus plainly states that in order to gain the heavenly reward we must leave all. Jesus did not mean that we should literally sell everything we own, but that we would be gladly willing to sacrifice earthly treasures, ambitions and reputation, if God’s providence directs—so that He might be glorified in our lives.
Jesus did not offer the blind worldly wealth; instead He opened their eyes so that they could see their tools when they laboured, so that they could see their way to the synagogue, so that they could not beg for money in the streets.
So that they are able to efficiently work for themselves and for their God for such impediments makes it difficult for one to be completely faithful to God. Why did Jesus come preaching the Word and not dishing out gold nuggets?
One must ask himself: is he ready to sacrifice his personal time to serve the Lord; is he ready to change his goals in life to better suit the service of the Lord; is he even willing to remove himself from a job if it interferes with his spiritual goals and principles; is he willing to stand for righteousness even if it means the loss of friendships?
If he agrees, delighting to do well purely for the purpose of pleasing God, then he is developing in godlikeness—becoming His agent in the distribution of the heavenly bounties which He has provided for all who love Him.
To be godlike is to be generous and unselfish—seeking the interests and welfare of others. “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.” (1 Corinthians 10:24) “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do well unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap … For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:6-10). In contrast to material prosperity, true prosperity in God’s sight is the riches of faith. ” … God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom … “(James 2:5)
Jesus said in Luke 9:23, 24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Yes, the Scriptures declare that “if we suffer, we shall also reign with him…” (2 Timothy 2:12)
As Christians, we must exchange our hopes and loves of this earthly life and its riches for a heavenly hope of eternal life. This high privilege and reward will cost us something; in fact, it will cost us all of our earthly goods and even life itself.