In 2015, YouGov surveyed 1,000 American adults who describe themselves as either “born again” or as an evangelical Christian, and asked their views about particular preachers and whether wealth is a sign of God’s favor.
On the question, “Do you believe that prayer can make you wealthier?” 15 percent of whites, 42 percent of blacks, and 25 percent of Hispanics answered “yes.”
On the question, “Is wealth a sign of God’s favor?” 9 percent of white, 34 percent of blacks, and 24 percent of Hispanics said “definitely” or “probably.”
Years ago, I was a part of a very charismatic church where the prosperity gospel was being pushed. When I started to pick up on this false gospel, I asked to meet with the pastors. I was told that I was wrong and the prosperity gospel is healthy and biblical. I was also assured that our senior pastor knows that Scriptures better than anyone in the church. I remember hearing the words, “He’s such a blessing to our church.”
This was the final push out the door for me. To be told the prosperity gospel is “healthy and Biblical”, I wasn’t sure we were reading the same Bible. So, I left and I told them exactly why I was leaving too (to which they responded with “thanks for letting us know.”) One of the first things that tipped me off to the prosperity nonsense was the fact that they all loved Benny Hinn. I remember telling my mom that. She said, “Seriously? No one takes Benny Hinn seriously!” Well, the charismatics do.
Now that I am no longer a part of a charismatic church, I sometimes forget that these churches are out there. I forget that there are pastors that are leaving their flock astray. There are still people who believe having lots of money is a sign of God’s favor.
It’s wonderful to be plugged into a church that teaches sound doctrine (you shouldn’t be in a church that doesn’t teach sound doctrine, in my humble opinion.) It’s great to have friends and family that value Scripture and know guys like Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, and Kenneth Copeland are total fools. However, there are still people who are believing this stuff and we need to know that.
Joel Osteen has over 18 million followers on his Facebook page. 18 million. That’s insane. Chile has a population of a little over 17 million people to put that into comparison for you. That’s quite a few people who are being fed a false gospel.
Here at Christians in Motion, we love the Gospel. We love Scripture. We have a little over 500 people on our Facebook page. That’s 500 period. Not 500 million. When you realize how loud and influential these false teachers are, it’s a bit overwhelming. However, there is hope. Let us examine John 16:
5“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the [c]Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.
12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
The Holy Spirit will guide us in truth. I know for myself, the more I stayed at this church, the more I experienced conviction. Something wasn’t right and I truly believe the Holy Spirit was pointing me to truth. Every week, I was writing notes on the sermon, taking them home, and comparing them to Scripture. Something wasn’t adding up. Funny enough, when I left that church, a few folks follow behind me. I wasn’t alone in seeing something wrong with that teaching.
My point in all this, please be aware that these teachings are still out there and they’re still dangerous. People are believing them and embracing a false belief about the Gospel and the nature of God. There are professing Christians that still need the Gospel. This is not meant as a discouragement, rather an encouragement. Continue to proclaim the Gospel, even to those who say they’re Christians. Be sure that you, dear Christian, are studying the Scriptures yourself.
While it is unfortunate that millions are being led astray by false teachers, they’re not completely off the hook. We have an obligation to study the Word of God for ourselves. As Christians, we should worship God in truth. We should aim to grow in our knowledge and understanding
Of course, we don’t expect a brand new Christians to instantly have a profound understanding of every truth revealed in Scripture. What’s amazing about Scripture is that it’s simple enough for a child yet can leave the most brilliant of theologians scratching their head. However, we always aim to grow. We aim to mature as believers. We also proclaim the Gospel because we believe there is power in the Gospel.
Take care and God bless!