In John 9, Jesus comes upon a man who has been blind from birth. Upon seeing this man, his disciples ask an interesting question:
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2 ESV)
On the surface the question is aimed at figuring out why this man is blind. But, behind this question is a worldview that saw certain disabilities as the result of sin. This perspective on sickness is alive and well today in the teachings of the movement known as the prosperity gospel.
The Prosperity Gospel
The prosperity gospel teaches that Jesus came not only to die for our sins, but also to heal us from all disease/sickness and financial difficulty. By expanding the gospel to physical and financial healing as well as spiritual healing, these teachers make faith not only the way that we are forgiven of our sins, but also the way we experience prosperity physically and spiritually. So, if someone is still experiencing sickness or disease, it’s because they do not have enough faith to receive Christ’s healing power. Also, if someone wants to experience financial victory and drive a Bentley, all they have to do is have enough faith and God will bless them.
Two of the most prominent prosperity teachers are Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer. While I do not have time to unpack the errors of their teaching, see this thorough blog post on the dangers of both these teachers.
Problems with the Prosperity Gospel
- The Prosperity Gospel adds to the Gospel where Scripture does not. The Bible NEVER promises physical healing and financial victory for followers of Jesus. In fact, it promises the opposite (John 15:20)! This is why James can call every believer to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2).
- The Prosperity Gospel preys on the poor and defenseless. The prosperity gospel sees some of the most significant growth in the third world. False teachers are presenting Jesus as not only the forgiver of sins, but also the healer who will solve all the problems of the poor and downtrodden. Sadly, many are believing in a Christ foreign to the Scripture in part because of the false promises of the prosperity gospel.
- The Prosperity Gospel is a false Gospel. Anytime we add to the true Gospel, we pervert the Gospel all together. What is the true Gospel? Four simple truths:
- God is holy creator (Gen. 1:1), the one to whom we all are accountable.
- Humanity has sinned, disobeying God’s law (Exodus 20) and is deserving a penalty of His wrath and punishment in an eternal hell (Rom 6:23).
- Jesus died on the cross to take our penalty and then rose again victorious (Rom 3:23-24).
- We accept Christ’s forgiveness through repentance of sin and faith in Christ (Rom 10:9).
Both the disciples and the prosperity teachers are ultimately confronted by our Lord when, in speaking of the blind man, he says:
“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)
Church, let’s be faithful to lovingly confront this cancerous teaching that is everywhere. For more on John 9 and Jesus’ confrontation of the prosperity gospel, you can listen here or via the player below: