"Give more, get more" - Have we overreacted to the Prosperity Gospel?

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"Give more, get more" - Have we overreacted to the Prosperity Gospel?

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Jim's picture
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On "Give More - Get More"

Firstly it's difficult if not impossible to critique a sermon based on its title (a derivation of "you can't judge a book by its cover")

The title reminds me of the title of a definitive book on gun control entitled "More Guns Less Crime" which on the surface sounds like if you dumped a load of handguns on the street in a high crime area that the murder rate will go down. 

Certainly God blesses His people (Ephesians 1:3). And just as certainly there are trials many of which lead to pain, suffering and death. 

The prosperity gospel basically makes material blessings paramount and teaches a tight correlation between what is given and those self-same material blessings.

Were I to teach on giving I would emphasize the points of:

  • Responsibility & duty (2 Corinthians 9:7)
  • That there is a link between commitment and generosity (2 Corinthians 8:5)
  • AND I would offer no direct link between material blessings and the amount given. 
TylerR's picture
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Silly Me . . .

The author wrote:

Throughout the Old Testament we are told that God rewards faith that expresses itself in generosity. In Deut 15:10, which speaks about taking financial care of your disadvantaged brother in the Lord, Scripture tells us to "give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart." But it is the next phrase that should catch our attention, "...then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to."

Did you catch that? God promised to bless the common, average Israelite citizen with material blessing and success at their employment, investments, and endeavors if they lived a lifestyle of generosity.

Silly me. I thought the Mosaic Covenant was conditional, in that if Israel obeyed the Law out of a pure heart and love for God, He would bless them materially in the land He promised them as they lived as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Silly me, I thought the Mosaic Covenant, where God's Law was written on tablets of stone, was superseded and dissolved by a New Covenant, written on the fleshly tablets of our hearts. 

Silly me, I thought that meant that we shouldn't look for blessings from a conditional covenant:

  1. Written only to Israelites 
  2. Written only for Israelites
  3. Written to govern their earthly theocratic kingdom
  4. Which covenant has now been dissolved by a new and better covenant

to govern our lives today, as we:

  1. Are not Israelites
  2. Are not living in an earthly theocratic kingdom
  3. Are not living under the conditions and terms of the conditional, Mosaic Covenant

People make the same mistake when they pull OT verses commanding Israel's corporate repentance and apply them to America.

Silly me, I thought context mattered when citing a verse from Scripture. I suppose not. There is a greater hermeneutical issue at the core of the author's problem. In the end, he agrees that "give more, get more" is correct. He wishes to avoid the extremes that (1) that God doesn't bless, or (2) that all He does is bless. 

I believe it is dangerous to suggest that if we give, we'll get more from God. The motivation of Christian charity is to glorify God, who provided a Savior for us. It is not to "get more." I am not suggesting the author advocates this. I'm just saying his case is presented very poorly. Who on earth would encourage tithing for selfish reasons!? That is dangerous and misguided theology! No matter how nuanced the matter may be in the Pastor's mind, it will not come across that way to the congregation. The Deacons of the church were right to cry foul on that message. 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture
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Silly Tyler!

Silly Tyler!

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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Have we overreacted to the Prosperity Gospel?

No. We haven't. These word of faith preachers prey on the most helpless, desperate and vulnerable. They ask widows to send in what little they have left so that by taking their money these frauds can afford to live in lavish homes, fly around in their jets and stay in expensive hotels.

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Silly Me

Proverbs 3:5-10 (KJV)
5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.  

 

Is that just written to Israelites in their theocratic kingdom?

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I guess you all preach

Give a $5 spot and kiss it goodbye...God has no interest in your finances! Be blessed brother...

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Even the mighty John MacArthur

who battles the Prosperity Gospel preached a series from 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 on Biblical views on money where he makes it clear that God blesses (including...GASP...financially) those that give to His kingdom

The first sermon is here:

http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/47-51/the-biblical-view-of-money-pa...

 

The sermons are The Biblical View of Money Pts 1-4, and A Biblical Model For Giving Pts 1-4

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Abusing the poor

And here is a link to MacArthur's sermon "Abusing the Poor"

 

http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/42-251

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quote from Abusing the Poor

Here is one of the concluding paragraphs in MacArthur's sermon Abusing the Poor:

"So I say, woe to you who sell your miracle water and your miracle cloths that promise to heal the desperate if they send you their money. Woe to you wealthy self-indulgent preachers who become rich on the backs of the lonely poor, disillusioned diseased and desperate who are told to give you their money as an act of faith so that God is obligated to make them healthy and wealthy. Woe to you who indulge in ten thousand dollar a night hotel rooms, claim revelations from God, spend 112 thousand dollars a month on your private jet with money taken from the most desperate people. Woe to you, you will not escape judgment."

 

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Darrell

Obviously a person who deceives the flock to give and then uses it as ill-gotten gains is evil. That is not the point of this thread.

 

The point of it is the question "does the Bible teach that a person who gives to the Lord financially is blessed in some fashion financially?"

Chip Van Emmerik's picture
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Mark,

Mark,

There's a difference between saying God can and God does. The Bible never promises the NT believer financial reward for giving to God. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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Mark

I take serious issue with the title of the message in question, namely - "Give More, Get More."

It is a serious mistake to motivate a Christian to tithe in expectation of receiving financial blessings. We ought to give back gratefully a portion of the blessings God has given us. Our motivation should not be to "get more." Our motivation ought to be to glorify and praise our Savior. The title of this message is very ill-conceived and sub-Biblical, hence the outcry. 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

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Prosperity Gospel

Mark,

The thread topic is labeled "'Give more, get more' - Have we overreacted to the Prosperity Gospel?" So sorry that I thought it was about "does the Bible teach that a person who gives to the Lord financially is blessed in some fashion financially?" I took the title at face value and assumed it was about the Prosperity Gospel and whether or not we overreacted to it. The prosperity gospel teaches that if you give more, you get more. The purpose for giving is to get a larger return. That is unbiblical. So my answer was No. We have not overreacted to the Prosperity Gospel.

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OK, but...

The linked article is about "does the Bible talk about financial blessing for giving?"

 

If you want to ignore that and blast Joel Osteen a few more times, have fun.

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Oh, also

The name of the linked article is "Uncomfortable Blessings"

Does anyone even read the articles...or just rant at the thread titles?

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Mark

The author of the article is writing about a sermon his friend did. The title of his friend's sermon is "Give More, Get More:"

He had preached a sermon on giving and the blessings that come from the Lord when we give generously. He titled his message, "Give more, get more".

"Uncomfortable Blessings" is the title of the author's piece (linked above), wherein he takes a middle position between his friend's "Give More, Get More" and the folks like me who say that message is ridiculous. 

My point is that the man's congregation was right to criticize their Pastor for such a ridiculous message. 

TylerR is the Pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Divernon, Illinois. 

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I read it.

I read the article. I didn't comment on the article's blog, I commented here, where the question was about the Prosperity Gospel. I have not up to this point mentioned Joel Osteen by name. If you wish me to, I certainly can. Osteen is one who is willing to embrace Mormons as Christians, and he spoke about his experience in India and affirmed that they loved God.

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Alright

Have a great day guys.

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Quote from the "Prosperity Preacher" John MacArthur

Everything below is from John MacArthur's commentary on 2 Corinthians 9:8:

 

"While it is possible to give without loving, it is not possible to love without giving. God gives His Son to all believers, but as previously noted, He blesses in a unique way generous, cheerful givers. In fact, He blesses such believers on such a grand, immense, staggering scale that it beggars language to express it. Trying to convey the magnanimity of God's generosity, Paul resorted to hyperbole, using a form of the word pas (all) five times in verse 8. God's gracious giving has no limits; it is off the scale.

Since giving naturally seems to result in having less, not more, it takes faith to believe that giving will open up God's blessing. Christians must believe that what God has promised to do He is able to do. Dunateō (is able) literally means “has power.” God's power is great (Deut. 4:37; 9:29; Neh. 1:10; Pss. 66:3; 79:11; Jer. 32:17; Nah. 1:3; Rev. 11:17) and is exhibited in creation, providence, miracles, salvation, the resurrections of Jesus Christ and believers, and in the eternal destruction of the wicked in hell. Not surprisingly, then, Paul expressed his concern “that [the Corinthians'] faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5).

Human wisdom teaches that prosperity comes from grasping for wealth, not from giving it away. But faith trusts in God's promise to bless the giver and in His ability to keep His promises, knowing that He is able to “do exceeding abundantly beyond all that [believers] ask or think” (Eph. 3:20), guard and preserve them (2 Tim. 1:12; Heb. 7:25; Jude 24), help them when they are tempted (Heb. 2:18), and raise them from the dead (Heb. 11:19). Believers, like Abraham, must be “fully assured that what God [has] promised, He [is] able also to perform” (Rom. 4:21).

God gives back magnanimously so as to make all grace abound to Christians who give generously. He gives so freely and abundantly that His children will always have all sufficiency in everything. In this context, that refers primarily to material resources, because the harvest must be of the same nature as the seed. Having sown material wealth by their giving, believers will reap an abundant harvest of material blessing in return. God graciously replenishes what they give so that they lack nothing; He will continuously provide the generous giver with the means of further expressing that generosity.

To the Cynic and Stoic philosophers of Paul's day autarkeia (sufficiency) meant independence from people and circumstances. They viewed such independence as essential to true happiness. But the believer's sufficiency does not come from independence from circumstances but rather from dependence on God. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

The reason God gives back to those who give is not, as prosperity teachers falsely imply and exemplify, so people can consume it on their own desires with bigger cars, homes, and jewels. God supplies them so they will have an abundance for every good deed. The Lord will fully supply cheerful givers with what they need to use for what is good work to the honor of the Lord. He constantly replenishes what they expend so the cycle of giving and ministering to others can continue. Generous givers are the people whose lives are most full of righteous deeds.

Lest anyone think this was some radical new social welfare plan he had concocted, Paul cited Psalm 112:9 to show this has always been God's plan. The phrase as it is written is the standard New Testament way of introducing an Old Testament quote (Mark 1:2; 7:6; Luke 2:23; 3:4; John 6:31; 12:14-15; Acts 7:42; 15:15; Rom. 1:17; 2:24; 3:4, 10; 4:17; 8:36; 9:13, 33; 10:15; 11:8, 26; 15:3, 9, 21; 1 Cor. 1:31; 2:9; 10:7). Because the generous giver scatter[s] abroad and gives to the poor, his righteousness endures forever. God will replenish and reward him both in time and eternity.

Deuteronomy 15:10-11 also illustrates this point. In verse 10 God declared through Moses, “You shall generously give to [the poor man], and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings.” Those who were generous to the needy received God's material blessings. But the purpose was not so that they could be like the rich fool in Jesus' parable, who said, “This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry'” (Luke 12:18-19). Verse 11 reveals the purpose of God's blessing. Moses reminded his hearers that “the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.'” God's constant resupply allowed them to continually give to meet the needs of others.

Paul reinforced his point with a third Old Testament quote, this one from Isaiah 55:10. That generous giving will impoverish no one is evident since He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply their seed for sowing. God is the One who supplies seed to the sower because He created all the earth's vegetation (Gen. 1:11-12). Thus He provides the grain that provides bread for food. The same God who provides seed for the harvest in the natural world will multiply generous givers' seed for sowing. They sow the seed and then reap the harvest, which in turn provides more seed for sowing in an ever-expanding cycle. The ultimate harvest of generous giving is not only eternal reward, but also temporal blessing in this life for those who “sow with a view to righteousness, [and] reap in accordance with kindness” (Hos. 10:12). They will be enriched in everything, equipping them for all liberality in their giving."

MacArthur New Testament Commentary, The - MacArthur New Testament Commentary – 2 Corinthians.

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Mark,

Mark,

You can't see the difference between what you quoted from MacArthur and those who say give to get?

The person described by MacArthur is never going to be wealthy. If he ever did start to hoard the abundance, stop the flow through his own hands, the spigot would be closed. He's not giving to get, he's simply giving, and giving, and giving. He is passing along with no thought of getting, no plan or intention of getting. Anything that comes along, whether great or small, is sent back out again, dispersed to accomplish God's good work. Notice these lines from your quote:

Having sown material wealth by their giving, believers will reap an abundant harvest of material blessing in return. God graciously replenishes what they give so that they lack nothing; He will continuously provide the generous giver with the means of further expressing that generosity.

The reason God gives back to those who give is not, as prosperity teachers falsely imply and exemplify, so people can consume it on their own desires with bigger cars, homes, and jewels. God supplies them so they will have an abundance for every good deed. The Lord will fully supply cheerful givers with what they need to use for what is good work to the honor of the Lord. He constantly replenishes what they expend so the cycle of giving and ministering to others can continue. Generous givers are the people whose lives are most full of righteous deeds.

The ultimate harvest of generous giving is not only eternal reward, but also temporal blessing in this life for those who “sow with a view to righteousness, [and] reap in accordance with kindness” (Hos. 10:12). They will be enriched in everything, equipping them for all liberality in their giving.

This is giving, but is not getting, not accumulating. At any given time he has what is needed and a limited surplus to continue using in God's service. It goes out as fast as it comes in. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

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I think

I think there's a big difference between what WE HUMANS perceive as "blessings" and what God perceives as blessings.  To quote Obi Wan Kenobi, "So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view."

Case in point, my cousin posted a photo of her fortune from a fortune cookie that said, "You will inherit some money or a small piece of land."  I told her that means someone you know or are related to is about to die.  Because that's how inheritance works.  She thought the fortune was a "blessing" (yaay! I get good things!) when it actually could be a curse (my mom died!).  Thankfully it's just a fortune cookie fortune, so no worries, but it makes my point.

Blessings from God do not always appear as such to us.  In Acts 5:41 the apostles were happy about the persecution they had received from the Sanhedrin.  So yes, I believe that if we exercise our faith in God, good things will result in our lives that would not otherwise have happened.  Does this mean that the more money we give the church, the more money God will give us?  Nope.  It means that God doesn't think in terms of only money.  The more money we give the church, the greater work the church can do for Christ, and because of our participation in that work, we can receive blessings both here and in heaven because of the money we have invested in God's work.