Summary: The "health and wealth" doctrine is a heresy. But it uses many sound Biblical truths in its false teaching. Do you know what one basic truth they’ve left out?
OPEN: Ray Stedman shared the true story of a man who lived in Houston that received a letter from a large international radio broadcast seeking support from Christians for their broadcasting.
They sent out a letter - the kind that is double-spaced, every sentence is a paragraph, and they underline part of it, etc…
The appeal of the letter was that God cannot be out-given, that if you give to God, he will give back to you. They announced that they needed a certain tremendous sum of money to maintain their broadcast. They had figured the number of their listening audience and they said in the letter that, if every person who heard their broadcasts would send in $76, this need would be met. Furthermore, they would guarantee, on the principle that God cannot be out-given, that he would find a way to give that $76 back three times over.
This was, therefore, the appeal of the letter: Send us the $76 and God will give it back to you; just watch how he does it.
Well, this man in Houston said he wrote a letter back which said, "Sir, I believe what you have written; I believe it is true that God cannot be out-given; and I believe you have a tremendous need for funds. But I would like to suggest that you send me the $76 and God will give it back to you three times over. You can get rid of your debt a lot faster that way."
I’m told that they took him off their mailing list
APPLY: What that radio station did was to utilize something known as the “Health and Wealth” Doctrine. It’s a false teaching that’s often used as a way to manipulate Christians into giving more than they already do to certain ministries/ and churches. It’s an easy temptation to attempt to preach that false doctrine, especially when your church or ministry is in need of funds.
As with almost all false teachings, the “Health and Wealth” doctrine uses sound Bible passages and principles to accomplish their objective - which is to get more money out of you and me. This particular false doctrine is based on the teachings of II Corinthians 9 and much of what is taught in this doctrine is based on truth.
I. For example: It’s true. You cannot out-give God.
A couple of my favorite verses are
Romans 8:32 which says: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all— how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
And 2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him."
We serve a mighty God. He’s a God who owns the cattle on a 1000 hills. A God who has repeatedly shown us - in Scripture – and in our own lives that He loves us beyond anything we can possibly imagine. He loves us so much that He gave us His only begotten Son. As II Corinthians 9:15 says: Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
You can’t out-give God… it’s a Biblical truth.
And it’s also true that God expects His church & its ministries to be supported by free-will offerings.
· God didn’t design the church to be underwritten by government grants
· God didn’t design the church to be supported by wealthy individuals/ multi-millionaires
Not that there’s anything wrong with donations from rich folks…it’s just that – this isn’t what God wants us to count on. God has always spoken… to us who love Him… asking us to be the ones who make it happen with our offerings.
“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
It’s a beautiful principle Paul talks about here. And every farmer and gardener knows the logic of it. When you plant a seed in the ground you’ll get back more than you put in.
And it works on the farm and in both the field
On the farm, you plant one seed of corn, you get a stalk with hundreds of seed.
Out in the field you put a single acorn in the ground, and you get an oak tree. And when that oak tree grows to maturity, it can drop over 50,000 acorns a year.