Summary: Certainties about the reward of Christ for believers who follow Him
15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
There is a pop-theology idea floating around these days that teaches Christians can, and should enjoy prosperity in health, wealth and every other area of life. It seems to imply that if you are not swimming in cash, dressed in diamonds and able to display abs that are “cut and buff” there is something drastically wrong with your spiritual commitment. One of the most visible proponents of this philosophy is Joel Osteen. One of his flock referred to him as the “Pastor of feel good”; I have listened to him on at least a dozen occasions, and have never heard him say anything approaching a negative statement.
Now, that’s easy to listen-to, however, I’m not certain it is faithful preaching of God’s word. He makes, what seems to most people, good sense, but those are his thoughts, and they disagree sharply with what God’s Word actually teaches. You must outline what is wrong if you want to be able to show what is right and good.
Osteen’s following is phenomenal at Lakewood Church in Houston. Reports show that upwards of 45,000 people gather to hear their leader preach the Gospel of Prosperity.
Now it is a tempting thing to think and organize your life around that kind of philosophy; there’s just one problem with it – it’s dead wrong. It not only flies in the face of Scripture, but ignores life and common sense. The “Prosperity Gospel” teaches you can have it all, and you can have it now”. The Scriptures (and life, natural laws of science and common sense) tell us that part of any result which is long-lasting, desirable, and honest is achieved by working hard with integrity, waiting and God’s providence.
* If you want a crop you have to work hard, wait, and see God give the increase.
* If you want the interest the bank promised (assuming THEY are honest), you still have to wait.
* If you want justice (hoping they are honest), you sometimes have to wait into the next life.
* And if you want genuine and true answers...well, get used to being on hold; you’re going to be there for a while.
God sometimes does bless people with unusual wealth, health and abilities. He sometimes responds quickly and decisively to our prayers to “balance the books” of right and wrong; sometimes, not! But there are always three consistent factors that agree with Scripture, God’s Sovereignty and common sense about how, where, when and why He acts:
a. It’s always in His way.
b. It’s always in His time.
c. In the end He will be RIGHT!
Mr. Osteen is a good-looking, likeable and very charismatic young man with a great smile; but he, and all those who preach the empty hope of the prosperity gospel are false teachers, leading people away from a Biblical faith in the true reward that God has in store for those who love Him. The Bible indicates that false teachers teach for profit, and they teach untrue things that sound really good.
Peter warned the early church that Scripture is not to be interpreted on the strength of one, or even a few people’s notion of what God’s Word means. The church (and that includes the mainline and well-established evangelical denominations) has never taught prosperity Gospel. Peter said, in effect: watch out for that group; if you go with that philosophy you’ll come to the end God has for them.
They’ve put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, 2but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can’t tell right from wrong. They give the way of truth a bad name. 3They’re only out for themselves. They’ll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you. 1 Peter 2:1b-3 (The Message New Testament)
Now, I’ve gone (as they say) a “far piece” and laid-out some pretty negative words in order to set a dark background; that is the best way to see the light!
I would like to spend our remaining time holding up the word of God’s genuine light about the real rewards God has for you. I guarantee you it is better than a Rolls Royce, or a pocket-full of cash.
(Incidentally….about that pocket-full of cash thing; how many rich people have you ever heard about who either felt they had enough, or were completely at peace about money in any way? Just thought I’d throw that in without any extra charge!)
The rewards God has for those who love and follow Him are not “of this earth”, just as assuredly as when Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate and told him, My Kingdom is not of this earth.
There are those who twist and pervert Scripture to present a point of view, so this morning, allow me to just stick with what God has said. Here are three certainties from God’s Holy Word upon which you can rely. It is all about the real prosperity of the day a believer comes face to face with Jesus Christ.