The Prosperity Gospel in Luke
Scripture reading for October 27th: Luke 16-18
“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus.” Luke 16:13-14
Jesus spoke very plainly: “You cannot serve both God and Money.” In Christian circles today, there is a popular variation of the Gospel called the “prosperity” teaching. This teaching takes all the verses about God’s blessings and twists them to say that God wants you to be rich and to use your riches as a testimony to the world of the blessings of God’s kingdom. Now God’s word does proclaim blessing on God’s people for obedience and faith. Those who walked in faith were often blessed and obtained great wealth in this world. But God is more concerned about our hearts. He said it is impossible to serve two masters.
The Pharisees of Jesus time had a teaching very similar to this prosperity message of today. They taught that God’s blessing was on the rich and that if a person was poor, he was under a curse. This had some scriptural truth to it from Deuteronomy 28 and other places in the Old Testament. However, Jesus came to help them and us to see things in a different light. He told a story about a rich man and a poor beggar named Lazarus. These two real people lived on earth and both died. At death there was a great reversal. The rich man ended up in the torment of Hell, the place of the departed wicked dead. The poor beggar, Lazarus, ended up in Abraham’s bosom, a place of comfort and blessing. They could see each other but were separated by a great gulf. (Luke 16:22-26)
This in itself struck at the hearts of those who loved “Money”! Jesus went on to tell about the conversation in the underworld between this rich man and Father Abraham. The rich man asked to have Lazarus come and bring a drop of water to comfort him in his torment. This request was refused. It was impossible! This rich man then asked about sending Lazarus back to earth to warn his five brothers so that they would not end up in Hell. This request was also denied. The Law and Prophets provided all the warning that God was offering to them.
We have this Word from Jesus today to warn us as well! He has risen from the dead and is speaking to us with an unchanging Word. Pursue the kingdom of God and His righteousness, not money! Beware of the spirit of the Pharisees, who loved money. Beware of those who preach a false prosperity gospel! Check out your own heart for Jesus Christ is Lord alone!