Letter to Prosperity preacher
I wrote this letter to a Pastor who had just preached a heretical message, completely misinterpreting the scriptures to support this false doctrine.
Dear Prosperity Preacher,
Let me first introduce myself. My name is Brian O'Connell. I am a graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelors degree in Business. I worked in the field of Insurance, then became a stock broker and finally, as a Certified Financial Planner my Father and I founded and operated our own Financial planning firm in Crystal River, FL.
In 1988 I met Jesus and was wonderfully "Born Again." I fell in love with Jesus and chose to obey Him. In accordance to Matthew 19:21, I sold my stock portfolio and gave my wealth to World Vision to feed the children. I went to Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, TX and graduated. In 1994, I resigned from the finanacial planning business, and went to the mission field in Honduras living on a $150 mo. allowance from my Church (in which I later became Assistant Pastor).
I am currently carrying a wooden cross from city to city and the Lord is blessing me and my brother in Christ who also carries a cross with about 5-10 salvation’s each day. We live by faith and God has supplied ALL our needs according to His riches in glory.
The reason I write this letter is to respond to your message on Prosperity Wed. 10-15-97. A Xerox copy was distributed saying "Today is the poorest I will ever be." My dear sister, Paul learned to be content whether he abased or abounded. In 1 Tim. he speaks of those who are "destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain.”
And v8 "..having food and clothing, with these we will be content" Verse 9 tells of the danger of desiring riches and verses 11 and 12 tells us to "flee these things" and to pursue "righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness."
Your scripture reference to support your teaching last night was Colossians 2:18-19. If you will read it in context from verse 16-23 it has nothing to do with money, but rather it is speaking of False religion, doctrines of men which cannot suppress the lust of the flesh.
The word for increase in the Amplified Bible is "Growth." "grows with a growth that is from God." What is growing? See verse 2. It is "the full assurance of understanding... the knowledge of the mystery of God."
The mystery is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." The understanding of this mystery is growing and in Him are "the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (v3). Then 3:2 says to "set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." and to "put to death your members which are on the earth:" and the list includes "covetousness, which is idolatry." Strongs #4123 identifies covetous as "holding (desiring) more, eager for gain."
Please hear my heart. I share this with you to bless you and not to tear you down. I believe the Lord wants to bless us, but should I be seeking His blessings and riches? Or should I simply obey Him. Look at my testimony. If I stood on your teaching, might I still be a stock broker where I would be rich and enjoying Increase? Instead I live from day to day by faith, but I share in an abundant harvest of souls.
If you only knew the harm the prosperity teaching is bringing to the church. How many ministries are suppressed by those who are "called", but they cannot sell ALL and give it to the poor and to live WITH the poor and to reach them for Christ. Instead they are seeking the fulfillment of the "prosperity message of increase."
Your work as a Pastor is not to preach a prosperity message, but to raise up the people into their callings of ministry according to Eph. 4:11-16. How many ministers like myself may not return to be a blessing to your church because they have a heart to win the lost, but know the error and dangers of the prosperity message.
Young Christians seeking God's hand and not His face and when their wealth does not appear, they leave the faith saying "It doesn't work." And then street ministers like myself have to pick them up from their failure to "have enough faith" and help them to look toward the face of Jesus and simply fall in love with Him.
I enjoyed your worship service, I felt the presence of God. I believe you love the Lord and you want to do what is right. I spent many hours studying the prosperity message and this is what I found: (These verses are exponded upon at Prosperity)
Matt. 6:19-34, 13:22-23, 16:24-26, 19:21-24, 27-29
Mark 4:18-19, 8:34-37 (8:14-21), 10:24
Luke 6:24 Verse 38 in context refers to verse 35 (or you can start with verse 27) 8:14, 12:15-34, 14:12-14, v33-35, 16:13-5,25, 18:22-25, 19:8-9, 21:1-4
Acts 2:44-45, 4:32,34-37, 5:1-10
2 Cor. 8:9,13-15 He enriches us so that we may share with others in need.
1 Tim. 6:5-12,17-19
Heb. 10:34, 11:35-40
James 1:8-11, 2:2-6,14-16, 4:1-5:5
1 John 2:15-16
Rev. 2:9, 3:15-19
Your Xerox copy of a worldly statement "Today is the poorest I will ever be" might encourage a young Christian to "hoard" or to store up wealth. Is that not the obvious result of such a statement? How could today be the poorest I will ever be unless tomorrow I have more than today? In light of the scriptures above, especially Luke 12 regarding the rich man who laid up treasure and was not rich towards God, do you suppose someone might be led astray?
"having food and clothing, with these WE SHALL BE CONTENT."
Trust me, in the short run you may increase your tithes, but in the long run they will dry up. We are to be vessels in which blessings "flow" through, not a dam where the waters of blessings are stored up.
Giving to God is NOT AN INVESTMENT for gain, it is obedience and rewarded with a treasure in heaven. If we could see the treasure stored up in heaven for us, we would give everything we have to purchase that "pearl of great price." AND He shall supply ALL your NEEDS according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
A servant of Jesus Christ,
Brian C. O'Connell