The Lie of the Prosperity Gospel

Last week I was driving along the interstate when all the sudden, I saw police and ambulance lights flashing up ahead on the side of the road. It was apparent that there had been a horrible car accident. Immediately a sense of sorrow for those involved washed over me. As I drew closer to the accident, my knee jerk reaction was to slow down and at least try to assess what had happened, and what was going on.

I knew I probably should have just kept driving. I knew I shouldn’t have slowed down to look at the tragedy. But I just couldn’t help myself. Have you ever felt like this? You see something horrible as you drive along the highway and know that you should keep your gaze in front of you. But something in you just cannot resist to slow down and check it out.

Something similar to this happened to me this morning . I woke up to a beautiful Saturday morning. I got out of bed, grabbed my coffee, and clicked on the television. As I flipped through the channels, I came across a televangelist preaching to a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands of people.

I knew better. I knew that there was nothing profitable to be seen here. I knew that this program was nothing short of a tragedy. But that car wreck syndrome took over. I couldn’t help myself. So I slowed down, in order to get a look at what I knew would be a complete train wreck.

The program was a show called The Camp Meeting. And the preacher was a man named David Martin. It was immediately apparent that David Martin was an excellent speaker with a natural gift for captivating an audience and holding their attention. His voice was strong and commanding, and he was very comfortable in front of this large crowd.

He then began to tell a story. He said that he and his wife were sitting in a church service and the tithe was about to be collected. He went on to say that he felt God telling him to give one hundred and eleven dollars to the tithe. Reluctantly he stated that he began to make the check out when God supposedly spoke again, telling him to write another check for the same amount for a blessing to cover his family. And then a to write a third check for the same amount so that God’s favor would be on his business.

Three separate checks, each for one hundred and eleven dollars. He then “felt” God tell him to look down to the first scripture he saw in his Bible. As the story goes, David Martin looked down and saw the verse Deuteronomy 1:11.

“May the Lord, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you!” Deuteronomy 1:11.

Wouldn’t you like to have God bless your life a thousand times over in your family life and your business?” this pastor said.  And so he went on to mangle this verse and rip it completely from its original context, stating that God was waiting to bless everyone in the congregation a thousand times over.

All they had to do was write a check in faith. Only the check couldn’t be for just any amount. David Martin asked his congregation to write three separate checks of one hundred and eleven dollars. One for themselves, one for their family, and one for their business. A sum total of three hundred and thirty three dollars from each family of which there were hundreds in attendance.

But the car wreck wasn’t over yet. This pastor then went on to look directly into the camera and present the same offer to everyone watching at home. He said that even I could receive God’s favor upon myself, my family, and my business for three separate checks of one hundred and eleven dollars written in faith to receive the favor of God upon my life.

As I watched this man preach I felt angry at how he was using God’s Word in order to fatten his bank account. I was greatly saddened at the sight of the hundreds of people in the congregation that were raising their hands and shaking their heads in agreement to his heretical request. And I was horrified that he had used Deuteronomy 1:11 in order to mislead so many people.

As he gave the closing prayer, this charlatan David Martin stood before hundreds and said, “The greatest thing that God could ever give you is his favor in blessing your life.” Seriously? What about salvation? What about the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What about the Lord opening our minds and hearts to know Him more deeply?

David Martin is a false teacher. He preaches a perverted, false Gospel know as the Prosperity Gospel. And countless people are deceived as a result of this movement. This travesty could have been avoided had this quasi preached utilized expositional preaching in order to expound Deuteronomy 1:11. Instead of going to this text in search of its original meaning, David Martin went to the verse with his own agenda and made the verse say what he wanted it to say.

I’ve used this example many times. Imagine that you had never seen the movie Rocky before. Rocky is a classic movie about an amateur boxer who lives in the city of Philadelphia and is training to fight the heavyweight champ of the world. But again, for the sake of our example, you don’t know this going into the movie.

We are late to the movie, and actually make our way into the theater midway through the film. As we sit down, we see the main character Rocky walking through the streets of Philly, tossing a little ball into the air, dressed like thug. Immediately after seeing this scene where Rocky just walks around the streets of Philadelphia, we exit the theater not waiting to see the rest of the movie.

As we exit the theater, I then use that short scene to craft my own interpretation of the movie by telling you that the movie was about a street thug who lived in Philadelphia and he had a passion to play hand ball. If you have never seen the beginning or the end of the movie, then its very easy to believe the lie that I have told you.

In the same way, when we approach the Bible with our own preconceived notions in mind without knowing the proper context of which they were written, we end up missing the true meaning of the scriptures we read. This false teacher David Martin did not expound on the background of the book of Deuteronomy. He didn’t tell his hearers of its historical context. And he didn’t shed light on the beginning verses of the book. He merely went straight to a verse where Moses spoke of God blessing His people, and made the verse mean what he wanted it to in order to attain his desired reaction from the crowd.

The book of Deuteronomy was written approximately forty years after the exodus of Israel took place. The Lord had used Moses to free His people from their enslavement to Pharaoh of Egypt, and now they were making the long journey to the land that God had promised them. They had received the Ten Commandments in Exodus and are almost ready to enter into the promised land after forty years of wandering in the desert. The book of Deuteronomy is the final words of Moses to the nation of Israel before the enter into the promise land.

In chapters 1-11 of Deuteronomy, Moses speaks to Israel in a harsh tone as he chastises them for their former rebellion against God. But there is also a charge given to the nation of Israel in these chapters. Moses tells the new generation of Israelites who are about to enter the land to be different from their ancestors who had ignored the commands of God, and to respond to the Lord’s grace with love and obedience. Moses reminds the nation of the Ten Commandments, because he knows that when Israel enters into the promised land there will be many in the new land who worshipped false Gods.

However, Moses was prohibited by God to enter into the promised land with Israel due to disobeying the Lord (Numbers 20:12). In the opening chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the nation of God’s original promise made to Abraham concerning Israel. He does this in the verse right before  Deuteronomy 1:11.

“The Lord your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven.” Deuteronomy 1:10.

Moses is referring back to the original promise that God had made to Abraham in Genesis.

“I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies,” Genesis 22:17.

Abraham and his wife Sarah were older in age and past child bearing years. Not to mention Sarah was barren and unable to have children. But the Lord gave this promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:17, that from the seed of Abraham would come a nation that outnumbered the sands of the sea and stars in the sky. The Lord opened the womb of Sarah she gave birth to Isaac, from who the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, came from.

Back to Deuteronomy. After Moses had reminded the nation of God’s original promise to Abraham, he then says this is Deuteronomy 1:11.

” May the Lord, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you!” Deuteronomy 1:11.

Is this thousand time over blessing referring to wealth and material possessions as the charlatan David Martin preached on television? Absolutely not. This favor of God refers to the continuation of the line of Israel, that they would continue to multiply. The blessing is that God had shown any favor at all to Israel and had called this rebellious people His chosen people. Not for anything they had done or given to earn this favor, but simply because God had chosen to set His love upon them.

“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples,” Deuteronomy 7:7.

As I watched the closing of David Martin’s sermon where he wrongly used the promise of Deuteronomy 1:11 in order to get people to write him checks for one hundred and eleven dollars, they closed out the program with the worship team leading the congregation in a song with lyrics that emphasized the Holiness of God. As the credits began to roll, hundreds stood to their feet singing, “God, you are HOLY!” This made my stomach turn.

The whole program was an infomercial prompting people to believe that God was just like us. That the Lord is materialistic and His greatest desire is that we would have more wealth. And then they close out the service by singing of the Holiness, which is the separateness of God. So which is it? Is God materialistic like us or is He Holy?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8.

“When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. But I now arraign you and set my accusations before you.” Psalm 50:21.

I pray that David Martin is brought under great conviction. I pray that the Lord would open his eyes to the truth of the Gospel. If not, then he along with many that have bought into his perversion of Deuteronomy will hear the words of Psalm 50:21 ringing in their ears as they stand before the Lord. “You thought that I was like you, concerned with worldly treasures. But now I set my accusations before you.”  

This morning I witnessed hundreds of people who worshipped God in hopes of receiving worldly possessions from Him. They did not love Him for the Gospel truth that. They did not worship Him because they saw themselves as guilty, desperate sinners who deserved eternal separation from God. And they did not worship Him because of the grace, mercy, and forgiveness that the Lord extended through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. They did not worship Jesus as Lord, for dying in our place and for our sins.

They worshipped an imaginary genie in a bottle. As Paul Washer once said, “Isn’t salvation enough?” If God had taken away all of our earthly treasures such as family, health, and wealth, would we as Job be able to say that the  Lord gives and the Lord takes away, BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD? God owes us nothing. His desire is not to make us wealthy, it is to make us Holy. And when we hear messages that promote worshipping the stuff He gives over the salvation He offers, it is a completely different Gospel.

 

For the life of me I cannot understand why television stations that profess to be Christians continue to allow false ministries like David Martin International to be broadcast. He is a false teacher, a charlatan, and a thief. The greatest blessing is not the stuff God gives, but the salvation He has given.

The lie of the prosperity Gospel is that is promotes worshipping the gifts and common graces God gives over worshipping the Lord Himself simply for who He is and what He has already done in and through the cross of Christ. Deuteronomy 1:11 reminds us today of the promise of God given to Abraham to multiply His people in spite of their unworthy state before Him. And it is a reminder of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and His amazing grace towards sinners like us.

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