But if Not …?

| 30 September 2020

Sitting at a luncheon for young pastors I found myself next to an aspiring worship leader who was the first person to introduce me to what I’ve since learned is the prosperity gospel. I sat stunned as he explained that God was going to bless his recording and worship leading work, especially financially, it had to be financially, because that was God’s plan for faithful believers. As he explained, I asked questions. Turns out, he believed God had also promised physical protection from sickness too as long as he was faithful, and ministry minded. I asked for specific biblical support for his understanding, but I can’t remember any specific scripture he may have mentioned. When I asked him about Jesus’ words in my wife’s favorite verse and how that fit his doctrine, he didn’t have an answer. John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

The same thing happened when I mentioned Luke 9:23 where Jesus taught “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” I explained that the gospel isn’t a promise of health and wealth on this earth. That is what the pagans chase after. Rather, it’s the promise of what is to come. I could tell my words had no effect, like water off a duck’s back. He didn’t want to consider; he didn’t want to hear.

I’ve experienced great frustration and even sickness in my heart at televangelists and others who twist the good news off of focus on God’s purposes and on to the stuff of life which so easily entangles. Perhaps that’s why stories of believers willing to risk it all for truth, for God, can be so encouraging and inspiring.

Three examples to me from an early age have been Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These men would not bow down to a false God and their words given to the king explain that they didn’t believe God was obligated to save them as a result of their faith, but rather that God could save them.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

But even if he does not…

God is able to prosper us, heal us, deliver us from trouble, and make our dreams come true, but even if he does not, we will not serve or worship these false gods.

Kick the prosperity gospel to the curb. Are any of us ready to live for the Lord if we aren’t willing to suffer & die for him too?

Pastor John Riley
Junior High Ministry