A CLOSER LOOK AT PROSPERITY

2 Corinthians 9:7-9 KJV

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give ; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things , may abound to every good work:
[9] (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

See, the subject of prosperity is now with mixed feelings in the church community. You hardly hear many believer take on the subject publicly. ..because of the many seaming divide.

Hence, many sit uncomfortably on the fence.

Even so, many others are afraid of being tagged a ‘prosperity preacher’, and some avoid it completely because of their followership loyalty, and others are afraid of being found contradicting themselves, etc!

And there are those who seem irreversibly critical about the subject. But if you listen to them well, you will discover they are not critical against prosperity but against materialism.

I have observed that many who teach, expecially with a position already, on a subject, hardly listen well to others whom they perceive have different positions.

And if you patiently listen well to some seeming different positions on a subject, you will sometimes see that they are saying the same thing on certain matters, but with different perspectives, but because they only listen to themselves to reply, instead of to understand, the argument never ends.

That is not to say that some teachings are not heretic and or extreme, as we will see later on the subject.

I have always said that it is so teachers of the word should also be taught that God has anointed other teachers. Hence, it is true that a teacher that is not listening well to other teachers is in error, by and large.

I have learnt through the years that greatness in teaching is in learning. A teacher is as great as he is teachable.

That said.

Now, this palpable mix-feelings around the subject of prosperity, is because men with INFLUENCE, but with seeming incurable GREED for AFFLUENCE have corrupted the term with their self scripted teaching on the subject. Teachings which are chiefly motivated by deep-rooted love of and for money…. and never for the sake of imparting knowledge or/and understanding. Consequently, when you mention prosperity, the equation in the minds of many is very bad.

But the truth is that these greedy men never taught prosperity. What they taught or teach or practice is MATERIALISM.

Now, a true gift of teaching will simplify the truth, and in that simplicity expose error(s) in context, and leave no confusion on a subject matter,…and the objective will primarily be to impart true knowledge and understanding.

Acts 18:24-28 KJV
And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
[25] This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
[26] And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them , and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
[27] And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
[28] For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

You see, Apollos didn’t know much, but what he knew, he taught it wholly and sincerely. He, no doubt was a teacher, and he knew it, and yet was willing to be taught. His sincerity was in the glare. I believe this was what Aquila and Priscilla saw,..and they took him aside(privately) and explained the doctrine to him more perfectly. They didn’t impose themselves on him.
And they didn’t shout at him, …or shut him up or down publicly. He was ignorant, but he was not heretic. We must be careful not to equate both.

That someone is ignorant does not mean he is heretic. He however becomes heretic if he refuses more knowledge and related correction on a subject, and continues to broadcast the error of his ignorance in pride.

He(Apollos) became a great teacher afterward, rubbing shoulder and sharing platforms with great apostles, even Paul. 1Cor. 3:4-6.

And when he came to Achaia by the couple’s recommendation, he HELPED THEM MUCH.

Acts 18:27-28 KJV
And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
[28] For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

The objective of a true teaching is never personal but the impartation of the understanding of the given subject.

Luke 24:44-45 KJV
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. [45] Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

Acts 8:30-31 KJV
And Philip ran thither to him , and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
[31] And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

2 Timothy 2:7 KJV
Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

Hence, understanding is the true objective of teaching and learning, not just acceptance of the teaching or the person of the teacher. Understanding was the primary crux of Jesus’ parable of the sower.

Now, the teachings on ‘prosperity’ today has been personalised, and consequently monetized.

Hence it’s materialism, not prosperity.

Now the bible has its teaching on prosperity.
And the two(prosperity and materialism) are not the same.

And anyone teaching against prosperity does not understand the subject, yet!

See this;

1 Timothy 6:3-5 KJV
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
[4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
[5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

Now notice he is addressing teachings that are otherwise, which are not according to godliness. See it again;

“If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; ” – vs.3

Now the word “otherwise” is from the Greek ‘heterodidaskaleŇć’ a compound Grk word from ‘heteros’ meaning another, different; and didasko’ meaning teaching.

Hence, Paul is addressing a strange teaching.

Moving on, the Greek for “godliness” here is ‘eusebeia’; and infers godly conduct.

It is used for holiness in Acts 3:12

Acts 3:12 KJV
And when Peter saw it , he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

Its obvious that Peter’s mention of holiness here is an outward expression of godly conduct.

The word(‘eusebeia’) is used 15 times in the New testament, and the majority of its usage refer to godly character,..an outward conduct.

Hence, he is speaking about men who teach things that breeds begavioural misdemeanours,.. conduct flaws, covetousness, which is idolatry. Col. 3:5.

Then he began to speak about the attitude of such teachers, which reveals the backdrop of their doctrinal sway, or persuasion.

“He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,” vs.4

Then he finally summarised the intent for their teaching, “…supposing that gain is godliness..” vs.5

So, you see the why they say what they say, and do what they do. It is for personal GAIN!

1 Timothy 6:6-10 KJV
But godliness with contentment is great gain. [7] For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
[8] And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
[9] But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
[10] For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The phrase “they that will be rich” here contextually implies that these men(in context) who would be rich at all cost!

Hence this is not prosperity, this is MATERIALISM.

Notice that Paul identified the dividing line between prosperity and materialism,…as CONTENTMENT. Hence, when we cross the contentment line, we enter MATERIALISM.

Now let’s look at PROSPERITY, in the same conversation.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 KJV
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
[18] That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
[19] Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

The word “charge” is the Greek ‘paragello’, and means to ‘give a message to’. Hence there is a message for the rich.

And he outlined the elements of that message,
or what it must be about.

1. That they be not high minded
2. Nor trust in uncertain riches
3. That they stay their faith in God, even in their riches.
4. That they do good, be rich in good works
5. Ready to distribute, willing to communicate.
6. That they mind eternal things.,..ie, the things of the Spirit.

Note that he didn’t say ” hey, Timothy, make sure you tell all those that are rich among you to give up their riches, and focus on heavenly things”! No! He gave them a message!

Therefore, it is not the POSSESSION OF RICHES that defines materialism or even prosperity, it is the OBEDIENCE or DISOBEDIENCE to this charge or message.

He is in prosperity if he obeys the charge/ message. If otherwise, he is in materialism.

Let’s see few examples of both, in practice.

Mark 10:17-24 KJV
And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
[18] And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is , God.
[19] Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
[20] And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
[21]Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
[22] And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. [23] And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
[24] And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!

This is materialism. He couldn’t obey or do the word. Note that he became sad “at that saying and went away grieved…”!

Luke 12:16-21 KJV
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
[17] And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
[18] And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
[19] And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.
[20] But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
[21] So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

This is also materialism;…” he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” …SELF; GREED!

Now this;

Acts 4:33-37 KJV
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
[34] Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
[35] And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
[36] And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
[37] Having land, sold it , and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Now, this is prosperity.

Please note that they were not giving so they could have more. They gave because they had. They gave to meet needs. They gave so other can have. They used their prosperity for others prosperity.

It is prosperity when it is subject to the message in teaching and experience, but it is materialism when it is afield the message in teaching or and in practice.

What is this litmus message again;

1 Timothy 6:17-19 KJV
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
[18] That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
[19] Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

In conclusion; Let’s see our opening texts again; in broader contextual scope.

2 Corinthians 9:1-11 KJV
For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:
[2] For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.
[3] Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:
[4] Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.
[5] Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.
[6] But this I say , He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
[7] Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give ; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
[8] And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things , may abound to every good work:
[9] (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
[10] Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
[11] Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

And this is consistent with the litmus message.

Selah.

And have a prosperous week.

#GodHouse
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31-03-2019