Friday, April 22, 2016

Another Danger of the Prosperity Gospel

Enjoy today's guest post by Eddie Ragsdale. Eddie is a fellow pastor in our local Arkansas Baptist association, a faithful brother, and a dear friend for whom I am deeply grateful...

I am sure that we all abhor the evident danger of the prosperity gospel. Namely that it encourages people to worship gifts and not God who gives the gifts. As well it also causes people to be taken advantage of by the swindlers, so called preachers, who propagate this false message. If these things were not bad enough these teachings twist and pervert the scriptures which are the very words of God this is the most heinous of sins to misrepresent God for one's own benefit and to the detriment of the poor souls believing this heretical teaching. So all of us who desire to follow God rightly must obviously denounce this horrid proclamation and seek through prayer and true preaching to see those caught in this trap rescued and redeemed.
However in case we think that the dangers inherent in this teaching are only for those false teachers and their hearers, I would argue there exists a great danger for us as we respond to this teaching in our own lives and doctrine. The danger I am speaking of is this: that we would so overreact to the prosperity gospel that we end up rejecting the true teaching of scripture about how God actually deals with His people. The true gospel is that we are sinners by nature and by choice and that in our deadness of heart we cannot and will not have God to rule over us. But God in grace alone grants us repentant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who alone can pardon our sin and give us the righteousness we need to be in right standing with the All Holy God. So knowing this to be true we can react to the prosperity 'gospel' with a denial of the fact that God does bless obedience and judge disobedience.
First, we must understand that through out the scriptures God promises to bless obedience to His will and His Word. I have been reading through Leviticus as of late and there are so many times when God is explicit that obedience will bring blessing. Along the same lines the scriptures are replete with examples of judgement on those who disobeyed God's word. Think about all the wicked kings that Israel and Judah had and how God judged them accordingly. In case you think that this is just an Old Testament phenomenon I would urge you to consider Jesus teaching about those who do the will of God. Also look at the account of Ananias and Sapphira, how they suffered because of their disobedience.
Secondly, one might argue that the wicked are always prospering and that God's people are always afflicted. This is true but this is also the greatest cause for understanding that regardless of the outward appearances God is always blessing the obedient and judging the disobedient. You may ask "how so?" Well the answer is in the fact that as Paul tells us in Philippians we rejoice in our suffering. So even if the obedient believer seems to be suffering greatly and actually is suffering greatly in this life, that one is still filled with peace that passes all understanding and joy that is inexpressible and full of glory. On the other hand even if the wicked disobedient sinner seems to have everything this world can offer and is enjoying every kind of sinful pleasure both scripture and experience tell us that this to is vanity and that this one is not finding real peace, joy or fulfillment.
My point in writing these words is simply to warn us, or maybe myself, that grace alone isn't left alone because this marvelous wondrous matchless grace will always produce humble obedience to the will and word of God. Let us always remember that the gate is narrow and the way is strait may we not stray to the right or to the left 

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