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6. Confession and Wealth (con't)
 
Let's investigate the clear evidence.
 
      1. Mary offered a sacrifice of two turtle doves. This type of sacrifice is indicative of someone 
         who is poor. (Luke 2:22-24; Lev. 5:7; 12:2-8)
        
        "When the days of purification were over, the woman then either had to bring a lamb for a
          burnt offering and a young pigeon or dove for a sin offering to the priests or, if she were
          poor, two doves or two young pigeons."
          (Baker Commentary on The Bible, By: Walter A. Elwell, Page 75)
 
      2. "Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that
          comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take
          that and give it to them for Me and you" (Matt. 17:27)
      
          If Jesus was rich, why did He have to cause a coin to appear in a fishes' mouth in order to
          pay the temple tax for Himself and Peter? If Jesus was wealthy, why didn't He pay the tax
          from all the money He possessed?
 
      3. "Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching
           and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and
           certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities -- Mary called
           Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Johanna the wife of Chuza,
           Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their
           substance." (Luke 8:1-3) 
 
           If Jesus was rich, why did He have to receive support from His followers? And take note
           that Jesus received no tithes.
 
      4. Jesus states to a certain scribe in Matthew 8:20 that:
 
         "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay
          His head." (Matt. 8:20) 
 
          There are no scriptures in the Bible that state Jesus had a "big house."
 
      5.  Jesus borrowed a donkey and a colt.
 
          "Saying to them, 'Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied
           there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to
           you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.'"            
           (Matt. 21:2-3)
 
      6. Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb.
 
          "Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new
           tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the
           tomb and went away." (Matt. 27:59-60)
 
      7. Archeological excavations of Nazareth from the 1950's attest a village tenanting in Jesus'
          day by poor people. (Jack Finegan, "The Archaeology of The New Testament", 1972, Pages
          27-33)
 
In light of scripture coupled with archeological research, there is clearly no evidence that Jesus came from a wealthy family or obtained wealth during His earthly ministry. And what do Word-Faith teachers have to say about this evidence? If they don't respond with unsound threats, they will argue that Jesus became poor so that Christians may become rich (referring to the latter part of verse nine). The word "rich", however, is in reference to spiritual riches, not material wealth. As a result of Christ becoming poor, those who believe in Him are enabled to be spiritually rich through His sacrifice and redeeming work on the cross.
 
Let's examine the following scriptures for confirmation:
 
      1. "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by
           Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all
           knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short
           in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation or our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also
           confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ"
           (1 Cor. 1:4-8)
 
           This passage gives evidence that those who accept Christ are enriched (to be made rich)
           with spiritual gifts. (1 Cor. 12:1-11)
 
      2. "As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not
           killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having
           nothing, and yet possessing all things." (2 Cor. 6:9-10)
 
           This passage clearly illustrates that the apostle Paul was not materially wealthy, but yet
           he was spiritually rich. This passage also shows that Paul imparted his spiritual riches
           into the lives of his followers so that they may be rich (spiritually).
 
      3. "And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He
           had prepared beforehand for glory...." (Rom. 9:23)
 
          "Riches" here is speaking of God's grace and mercy; which are spiritual riches.
 
      4. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every
           spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ ... In Him we have redemption through
           His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace...." (Eph.1:3, 7)
 
           Here we have two verses that demonstrate spiritual riches (spiritual blessings and grace)
           attained as believers in Christ.
 
      5. "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should
           preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. That He would grant you,
           according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in
           the inner man ...." (Eph. 3:8, 16)
 
          "Riches" is in reference to all of God's spiritual blessings and power.
 
      6. "To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery
           among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col. 1:27)
 
           This verse reveals spiritual riches as the indwelling of Christ.
 
These six points offer iron-clad proof that Jesus became poor so that believers in Him will be made spiritually rich. There is no evidence in the Bible expressing that Christ died on the cross so that Christians would possess large bank accounts, expensive homes, cars, jets, and other possessions.
 
 
[Ephesians 3:20]
 
Observing Ephesians 3:20, many wealth proponents employ this verse in conjunction with John 14:13-14 to demonstrate that God will fulfill all our aspirations, pending of course, if we have sufficient faith combined with a life free of unrepentant sin. No one disputes the fact that God has infinite power to do whatever He wishes, but this verse does not parallel the Word-Faith teachers' prosperity gospel.
 
Reading Ephesians 3 beginning at verse 14, it will be discovered that this verse is part of Paul's prayer to the Ephesian church ... a prayer which reflects a connotation of God's spiritual mission. Through the work of God in Christ, the Lord is moving in the direction of administering the riches of His glory to all believers. With the power of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit working in us, this will lead to the fulfillment of God's designed plan for the Christians' growth and edification of the church collectively. While it is true that God has the power to give us "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask," the mature believer's request should always be according to His will ... being mindful of His sovereignty.
 
 
[Philippians 4:19]
 
Looking at Philippians 4:19, this verse is another example of scripture that Word-Faith leaders use to fortify their prosperity doctrine. To the same degree they misconstrued previous passages of scripture discussed earlier, they use this verse as a proposal that God will provide the entire range of our likings from the abundance of His riches in heaven --- contingent upon an exercise of ample faith along with repentance of sins.
 
One does not require much biblical knowledge to understand that Philippians 4:19 does not suggest that God will supply us with every desire of our hearts. This verse indicates that God, from His infinite resources, will supply us with all our needs; not all our desires. It should be evident that there is a major distinction between a "desire" and a "need."
 
Unfortunately, where idolatry and mesmerism is in the midst, common sense becomes vacant. With this type of unhealthy admiration precipitated from willfully blind sheep, Word-Faith teachers have been enabled to build their personal kingdoms, purchase expensive homes, cars, Lear jets, and other possessions that befits the uncontrolled lusts of their wildest fantasies. Then they cloak their deceit and craftiness behind such scriptures as Philippians 4:19 as well as other passages throughout the Bible.
 
Near the conclusion of this section, we will discover from God's Word the true and complete definition of worldly and spiritual wealth; and what it states in reference to those who teach that godliness is a means to worldly riches. In the meantime, let's examine one more passage of Scripture that Word-Faith proponents avail themselves in order to champion their prosperity doctrine.
 
 
[3 John 1:2]
 
Citing 3 John 1:2, Word-Faith teachers argue that this verse presents concrete proof of God's desire for Christians to be financially prosperous. Rebutting their "proof" ... firstly, the word "I" is referring to John, not God.
 
Secondly, the word "prosper" in this verse is not referring to material wealth. If we examine "prosper" in the Greek (euodoo), it will be discovered that it is a progressive word composed of two root words --- "eu" meaning "good" or "well done" and "hodos" meaning "road" or "progress in a long journey, to help on the long road, to succeed in reaching, an act in traveling a great distance."
 
What we have here is John, writing a letter to his good friend (Gaius), giving a customary greeting and wishing him well in life, body and soul. John's greeting is very similar to the valedictions of the character, "Spock", in the great classic sci-fi series, "Star Trek"; when during his departures he would state to his closest friends, "Live long and prosper."
 
Thus, the Greek word "prosper" in this context does not co-ordinate with the narrower definition of "prosperity" imposed by Word-Faith teachers. Rather, it simply means "to go well with someone." In fact, the NIV translation correctly reflects this idea in its rendering of this verse:
 
       'Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even
       as your soul is getting along well.' (3 John 1:2, NIV)
An example of a stratagem practiced by Word-Faith teachers as it relates to 3 John 1:2 involves sharing accounts of Christians who suddenly experienced miraculous debt reduction. It is common for many Word-Faith teachers to give testimony about someone who owed money to a certain finance company and then received a letter stating that he/she had a zero dollar balance. Stories such as this are rooted in psychological manipulation; deceiving congregants into believing that the Word-Faith teachers' prosperity doctrine is a means to debt free living.
 
This author will not speculate on the veracity of their testimonies. However, if such incidents occurred, it should be realized that these were clerical errors on part of the finance companies ... errors that could conceivably result in the termination of the people (possibly fellow believers) responsible for such miscalculations. Lawyers term these mishaps as "unjust enrichment". Failing to offer correction for the intent of financial gain are self-serving and contemptible acts. This does not please God; and such stories should render a glimmering tip-off of the corrupt nature of prosperity teachers. A true man or woman of God should manage these oversights with integrity; informing the finance clerks of the mistake; and possibly saving the person's job. Now...that pleases God!
 
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"Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced...more true than the truth itself." ~ Irenaeus of Lyons
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