“…He [Jesus] is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.” Hebrews 8:6 NASB
A modern confusion between the two covenants
During various stages of human history, God established covenants with human beings. The terms and purposes of different covenants varied. This was clearly understood by the church in past generations. When the new covenant was established by the shedding of the Jesus’ blood, the old Mosaic covenant had been fulfilled – in other words, its terms and even its promises had given way to the terms and promises of the new.
Our lives are meant to have a bigger dimension as we serve God under the new covenant. We are co-workers and co-heirs with Christ – therefore our priorities should be aligned with the interests of the eternal kingdom that we will soon inherit. Paul warned the Galatians that if they built their lives on the basis of the old contract, they would be enslaved and lose their freedom.
The old covenant demanded several outward regulations, which Christians are not obligated to follow; yet by a strange logic, we are convinced that the rewards and worldly prosperity promised there, are our unquestioned right, in exactly the same manner as promised to the believer under the Old Covenant.
We are beneficiaries of a covenant based on better and more enduring promises; the rewards are primarily eternal and not temporal. While our eyes are engaged with the world, we will neither see nor appreciate those blessings.
What are the blessings that we Christians will enjoy on this earth?
Peace that surpasses human understanding. Freedom from sin and victory over our sinful traits: bitterness, envy, anger, selfish ambition and sexual immorality. The grace to experience the love, power and guidance of God in our daily lives.
And yes, He will provide for all our needs according to His riches in glory. We will have enough to meet our necessities and to spare, and the wisdom to be good stewards of our material blessings, if we ask in faith and continue in obedience.
What are the dangers for those who embrace the prosperity gospel?
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. James 4:3 (ESV)
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. Matt. 13:22 (ESV)
Disappointment. A fruitless Christian life. Constantly seeking to make ‘prosperity’ happen in our lives and feeling embittered when we do not receive the toys ‘to spend on our pleasure’.
In our own generation, too many young Christians who began with much zeal and a willingness to sacrifice all for the gospel have been sidetracked. They have reached middle age, still waiting for the prosperity gospel to deliver. Their zeal has waned, replaced by discontentment with their lot and disillusionment with the gospel itself – a gospel that did not fulfil its promises or meet their expectations. Too many have lost their spiritual vision.
Worse, some live only for worldly pleasures and others have fallen into sin, even while preaching the gospel. The constant promise of a pleasure filled life, has led many to give up all restraint and pursue worldly happiness uninhibitedly.
The fruits of this teaching in the church
For those who embrace this teaching, the promised earthly prosperity becomes the reason for giving. We open our purses not because we feel an obligation to help the needy or to take the gospel to the world; but in order to receive a ten-fold or hundred-fold of the offering. We do not give with cheerful hearts expecting eternal rewards, but with a desire for immediate financial gain.
Many overspend and go into debt, in the belief, that the promised prosperity will eventually show up and rescue them. Self-indulgence becomes acceptable and thrift is viewed as a sign of a lack of faith.
The spiritual consequences are even more devastating: there is no talk of crucifying the flesh and dying with Christ. The cross of Jesus and its claims on our lives, which were once central to Christian preaching, has become old fashioned. The light has gone out under the bushel and the salt has lost its saltiness. No one listens to the church anymore, and our influence lies trodden underfoot of men.
Has anybody at all become rich for having relied on this prosperity gospel?
Yes, the ‘seed collectors’ (not the sowers), the tele-preachers who constantly ask for more of your money with the promise that you will become rich. They live in luxury, but their lives are filled with strife, unhappiness and ruin. Many of them began their ministries with sincere hearts and good intentions, but they did not heed the warnings of Jesus. The results are heart breaking and we must pray that God will restore their spiritual vision.
A chance to escape
Many of us have fallen for this subtle deception, yet it is not too late. If we come to Him with sincere hearts, He will forgive and restore us. There is still time to re-align our lives with the gospel of the cross. Let us repent and turn away from this deception once for all and seek our Creator with all our hearts.
“Father, forgive us for the times we allowed ourselves to be dazzled by things of this world. Help us to love You before anything this world has to offer. Let our eyes be single. We trust you to help us obey Christ’s commandment to deny ourselves and pick up His cross. We thank You for Your love and patience despite our failures.”