When the Prosperity Gospel Goes Bankrupt
The prosperity gospel teaches “Believe in Jesus and you will have health and wealth.” But many of us find this isn’t true. What then?
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25-26
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings. Romans 5:1-3
As Psalm 73 opens, the writer is not satisfied at all—not in God, not with life. He lays out a common complaint. “Why do the unrighteous prosper while good people suffer?” His observation is accurate in many cases. You’d think the opposite would always hold. But keep reading. The Psalm gives us two answers to that question.
The first, and most obvious, answer is that though the present life may be comfortable for them the end of the wicked is ruin, destruction, and terrors (vs.17-19). In light of this, the Psalmist’s complaint turns into a confession of his ignorance and brutishness toward God (vs. 21-22).
Second, the righteous clings to the hope of a good final end, unfazed by the suffering of his present life. He has the Lord with Him and enjoys God’s guidance. The godly anticipate the glory to come (vs. 23, 24). God is all he desires, all he needs. He has everything in Him. Why complain and compare?
Paul in Romans 5 expands this thought as he describes the relationship which the justified sinner has with God. That new relationship is one of peace, grace, joy, and hope all through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Are there sufferings? Yes! But even sufferings are a cause for joy, because they serve to build endurance, character, and hope. How is this possible? Because of the love God has “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (vs. 5).
Think about it
Even for us who know Christ, envy of the wicked and complaints about our lot in life will crop up from time to time in our hearts. Don’t let them take root and flourish. Instead find joy in the hope of coming glory and be satisfied in God alone. As pastor and author Dr. John Piper, famously says “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” We will not learn to be satisfied in Him without a good portion of suffering after the prosperity gospel has gone bankrupt.