Summary: We want what we do not have because we think that we deserve it. Grace does not jive with what some teach today - Prosperity Theology.
Sermon: “Keeping Up With the Jones’”
Scripture: James 4: 1-8a
Theme: We want and do not have because we think we deserve it. Grace doesn’t
jive with Prosperity theology!
On any given day you turn on the television and watch one preacher tell you that if you love God, you will send him $100 and you’ll get back $1,000.
Go back to that same t.v. set later in the afternoon and a different preacher will on begging you to send $100 into his ministry. Doesn’t promise financial windfall in return, you’ll just be blessed by showing God you love him so much because you gave. The more you give, the more blessings you’ll receive.
Another preacher will tell you if you just have enough faith, you’ll be healed and if you aren’t then you must be in sin or just not have enough faith.
Which one is right? NONE!
But we are living in such a society that we want, and want, and want, and try so hard to keep up with the Jones’ that this type of theology sounds good to young believers. Many of the newer evangelical churches today promote this type of prosperity theology. If you lack, in anything, you just ask God and you will receive whatever it is that you want. And these preachers back up their teachings with scripture – although it is scripture taken out of context. Our scripture for today, from the book of James, contradicts that type of teaching. Let’s read:
James 4: 1-8a
The book of James was written to the Jewish Christian Church in Jerusalem. The subject matter of the letter is simple, practical, and almost a moral challenge to society as a whole – both Christians of the time and non-Christians. Much of the teachings found in James are similar to the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels. So, I ask this question – does the scripture we read today support what is called Prosperity theology in our world today?
Here’s how Prosperity doctrine is sold: God wants you to be rich (and/or healthy), but He can not bless you unless you first send money (also known as a “seed-faith offering”) to whichever televangelist or teacher you are listening to.
They teach that you must confess aloud what it is you need – Name it and Claim it. They say that we can get what we want from God by our faith filled words! Each person predestines his own future by what he says verbally and by how well he uses/follows spiritual laws. If you are sick, then God wants you to be well, but you must first confess it positively, believing in the power of your own thoughts and wishes. If you are not healed, then you must not have believed enough. If you are poor, then you must be living outside of God’s will for your life. If you are rich and healthy, then you must be doing what God wants.
They teach that God’s preferential treatment should be showed to believers by everyone! Joel Osteen tells a story about being pulled over after speeding. Once the officer saw that his last name was Osteen, he let him go! Osteen teaches that this is the kind of preferential treatment that all God’s children will receive if you just wake up each morning declaring that you are favored by God! This favor will then become visible in all that we do – we’ll get the best seats on a plane or the best parking spaces, we’ll win the lottery, or have our sicknesses removed.