Does God Want Us Rich And Healthy?

April 28, 2013


Hebrews 11:31-11:40

If you listen to many of the TV and radio preachers you would think that Christ is the dispenser of the American dream. Indeed, God’s throne seems to be a celestial Las Vegas where instead of spinning a wheel your prayers are like rolling dice. If you roll the right number God drops money, cars, houses and spouses upon you and even cures your halitosis and corns.

There are formulas, repetitive prayers, anointed prayer cloths or shower caps that guarantee to bring God’s wealth and blessing upon you. Some of those things remind me of the old Groucho Marx show, “You Bet Your Life”, where if you said the secret word a little bird dropped down and you won money only in the case of these “holy” items or formulas it is the Holy Spirit, perhaps in the form of a dove, that lays the goodies on you.

You would think that with all those wonderful things available that the Church would be loaded with people who are well-heeled and healed, yet the contrary is true even in America. Having traveled about a bit, I can assure you that most churches are small and the congregations are lower middle class to poor with health issues and that is in America. In many other countries,
it is more like poorer and poorest and the diseases that accompany poverty and malnutrition.

So what is the problem? Some like to pawn it off to a lack of faith of the poor and sick yet James says that it is the prayers of the elders that heals the sick, not the faith or prayer of the afflicted. The man at the Beautiful Gate had no faith. It was Peter’s faith in Christ that healed. The lame man didn’t even know what was coming. There are times when healing comes by the faith of the sick as with the crippled man that Paul perceived that had faith to be healed but we have the examples of James 5 and Peter’s action that show that it is not always the faith of the sick that is needed or fails when healing does not come.

3 John 1-2
1 The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
2 Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. KJV

Some may have said, “See, there you have it! We are to be prosperous and healthy! This is from he disciple Jesus loved so it must be so!” Oy, keeping the passage in context we see that this blessing or well-wishing is directed to an individual, not the Church or an open blessing to all saints. He doesn’t even say that it will come to pass. It is John’s wish or desire that it happens but it is not a prediction of the future only a hope. We wish people a blessed day or a great day all the time. Does it guarantee that they will have a great day. Many times their day may stink even though they were “blessed” or wished happiness twenty times that day.

It is John’s heartfelt wish that Gaius prospers, but that doesn’t mean immense wealth. If I am a business man and my business sees a 5% profit over last year I have prospered by 2% since the cost of living usually goes up 3% per year. That doesn’t mean it is time to retire but I did prosper. To prosper does not mean I will in Highland Park, Beverly Hills or wherever your rich people dwell.

In my doctor’s office he has a Power Point presentation that tells about various health issues but also the origin and meanings of various words. Health comes from the Teutonic word for salvation. In an Asian language, crisis comes from the words for danger and opportunity. Enthusiasm comes from the Greek meaning God within. I always find those things interesting. He also has a slide that says health is not being disease free. Indeed, you can be on the borderline between disease and what we call healthy. You can feel great one day and die the next because the line was crossed without any symptoms of sickness. Real health is to be growing and being stronger, not just status quo.

Hmm, that would make a good definition of a healthy spiritual life. That brings us to the caveat or crux of these verses. Note, John’s real concern for Gaius was for his soul. He wanted the soul to be prosperous and healthy and tied the blessing to that. As your soul prospers so also may your business and body prosper. It is the inner or spiritual health and prosperity that John and God really care about. As thy soul prospers, Gaius, I wish the other blessings for you as well. Desiring is not giving. He could not give Gaius prosperity of soul then or for the future. He could only desire that his soul continued to prosper and as it did he desired the rest would also be true. Yet, Gaius’ soul could prosper and be in health without the externals keeping up with it.

John could not predict that Gaius would always prosper in his soul. He was doing well right then but remember Demas? He was spoken well of in two passages but then something happened and he forsook Paul because this present world became his love object. Why? Was he tired of hanging around Paul in dingy jails and living hand to mouth off the charity of the saints. Paul knew how to abound and to be abased meaning there were some lean times. Did Demas see an opportunity to prosper that he thought would mean a healthier lifestyle though it would impoverish and sicken his soul? We are not told but this world had some appeal to him.

Think of all the rich in this world who have the finest physicians and enjoy health and health care in ways we cannot imagine and yet they are unbelievers. There is usually so much in their lives that shows they are critically ill and poverty stricken in their souls. It does not make wealth so appealing. Yet, as you look around the world and maybe in your own community you find people who are fiscally poor and in poor health who are happy, praising God and talk of being immensely blessed. They are rich with peace, love, joy and the other fruit of the Spirit in their souls and it shows. Whoever took the Teutonic word for salvation and created our word health was completely on target. A saved person dying of any disease is healthier that the most fit lost person.

Wealth does not always bring happiness and certainly cannot guarantee health. I have read of many rich people dying from the same diseases that afflict poor people. I also know of Christians overseas who will never be wealthy and are persecuted by beatings, rapes and murder who are happier than most Christians sitting in their comfortable homes or padded pews. The poorest of our people here are richer than at least 80% of the rest of the world and we are some of the most unhappy and ungrateful people imaginable. Some of our persecuted brethren will risk life and limb to get even a piece of a Bible while we may have a dozen on the shelf unread. When they are imprisoned they witness to the other prisoners and the guards even if may mean beatings or isolation. Here, we fear to give out a tract or speak to someone about Christ, but have no problems talking about the Cowboys or some other thing that won’t keep a soul from Hell.

Let us look at the ultimate passage on the subject of wealth and prosperity for the Christian, the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.

Heb 11:31-40
31 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. KJV

When you read verses 31 to up to the colon in 35, you could jump up and down and shout, “See! It’s victory and glory for us! David was a king and rich. Some of those dudes lived very well.” Yes, but as Paul Harvey was known to say, let’s look at “the rest of the story.” After that colon, life gets a tad bit different for those listed in God’s Hall of Fame for the Faithful. We all like to claim the Word and identify with a biblical character when the words are victory and blessings. Anyone going to start asking God to make them like the folks in 35b -38? I doubt it.

Did these folks have faith? You bet or they would not be in this passage. But where is the power, riches, blessings, etc? Yes, how about that? I guess it isn’t an universal rule that all God’s chillun’s got shoes or so much stuff they have to buy sheds or rent storage space. They don’t all have so many clothes they cannot decide what to wear or get bored with after a few months. Nope, sometimes God’s children don’t get their reward until they get home in Heaven.

I know there is a scribe or lawyer somewhere that will point out that these people are all Old Testament saints. Well, OK. John the Baptist lost his head, but then he would be classified as the last Old Testament prophet. Hmm, Stephen was stoned for his witness. James was killed by a government sword and it was a Roman ax that made Paul lose his head. Tradition says that all the rest of the Apostles also met an untimely end save John who was exiled to Patmos after boiling him in oil failed to kill him.

It is amazing that none of the Apostles grasped the wealth and health doctrines since apparently they taught it as the modern day lads are using their epistles to espouse those doctrines. Yet, the Apostle Paul Ministries (APM) were not headquartered in Ephesus where Paul left his five million denarius house to travel to the Christian Cathedral of Prosperity in his twenty-horse gilded chariot to preach to thousands on how Christ came that they also may have marble toilets in their offices. What were the Apostles thinking or where was their faith since they not latch on to their birthright?

What shall we say about all the martyrs since the 1st Century? Were they all faithless twits that did not know it was their destiny to be rich and healthy instead of martyrs? We need to make sure we get the word to our brethren in other lands to stop denying their birthright and allowing people to torture and kill them for their faith. They need to name and claim their wealth and health and expect a miracle other than escaping captivity or surviving in horrible prison conditions. Send them crates of prayer cloths, anointed amulets and shower caps! Oh, yes, I suppose we should send them bibles but more than that all the books by the great messengers of the new apostolic reformation.

Balderdash to all that! It is better to be bankrupt in this world and rich in the next than the other way around. Seek true riches that will last eternally. No matter what you amass here you will either leave it to people who will most likely waste it or it will be burned up to make way for the new heaven and new earth. If we want true wealth and riches then we need to heed the injunctions of 1 Timothy 6 and other passages speaking to the errors of loving money and desiring unrighteous mammon. These are in direct conflict with the heresies being taught by the most popular speakers. Paul commands us to stay away from them for their teachings are…

1 Tim 6:5-9
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 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. KJV

If you are unsaved today all the wealth in the world will not help you even if you die in your sleep of old age. You will lose your soul in Hell for eternity just like the rich man in Luke. If you are broke but saved then you have more wealth than you can imagine and even if you are physically ill here one day you will be in perfect condition living with your Savior forever.

Maybe you are sick because you have fallen into the trap of coveting wealth and this economy is not helping you achieve your goals and even setting you so far back you never will reach them. Work on prospering you soul and seeking the health that will bring about as you turn over your goals to Christ and being happy that you have food, clothes and even shelter which Paul does not mention. Don’t worry and covet stuff that will burn up but seek the gold, silver and precious stones that will survive the fire at the Bema seat because they were created from a life lived in holiness and in fellowship with Christ. Behold He cometh quickly! Maranatha!!!

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