But the gospel of Jesus Christ is NOT about the gifts. The gospel is about God! Jesus died to reconcile us to God. He bore God’s wrath as our substitute not to bless us with prosperity, but to bless us with Himself. He is the gift of the Gospel, not health, wealth, and prosperity!
This is why the Prosperity Gospel is something that Christians should be more than concerned about! Why? Because it’s a different gospel! And the apostle Paul warns us about what happens to those who preach a different gospel:
Galatians 1:8-9 (ESV Bible) But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Paul’s message is clear. Anyone who preaches a different gospel contrary to the gospel found in the Scriptures is under a curse. In other words, they are damned.
The Prosperity Gospel is a Different Gospel!
This goes for those who preach the false gospel of prosperity, even if they do emphasize grace. It doesn’t matter how much a preacher talks about the grace of God, if he is teaching that prosperity is the result of believing the gospel, he’s preaching a different gospel.
And this is exactly what Joseph Prince does. Although he gets much of the grace part right, he adds to the gospel the message of prosperity.
For example, in chapter 3 Loc 435 (Kindle edition) of his book Destined To Reign Prince says:
“My friend, there is no such thing as a “prosperity gospel”. There is only one gospel in the Bible and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, when you believe the gospel of Jesus, which is based entirely on His grace, it will result in health and prosperity. In fact, the gospel of Jesus Christ leads to blessings, success, healing, restoration, protection, financial breakthroughs, security, peace, wholeness and MUCH MORE!”
Sounds like an infomercial doesn’t it? But “my friend” this is a lie. There is such thing as a prosperity gospel and it’s a different gospel than what Jesus and the apostles preached.
Getting the Gospel Mostly Right Doesn’t Count!
Now, what’s so confusing and dangerous about Prince is that he gets much of the gospel right. Again, from Destined To Reign:
“Jesus did not sweep the law under the carpet. He came and fulfilled every requirement of the law perfectly on our behalf. All that we were unable to do, He did on our behalf. So by Jesus, the law has been fulfilled!”
Amen! He’s absolutely right. Christ did for us what God commands of us, perfect obedience to His Law.
Again in chapter two, Loc 342 he says
“The law was given to bring man to the end of himself so that in his despair, he would see his need for Jesus. Because of the law, no man can say that he is not a sinner and no man can say that he doesn’t need Jesus. That is the purpose of the law. It was not designed to make you godly, but to expose your ungodliness.”
Again, I’m in total agreement with Prince here. The Law can never make us holy. However, the Christian still uses the Law, but only as a guide. This will be discussed in later post.
“Jesus took all your sins upon Himself on the cross. And once your sins have been punished, it would be “unrighteous” of God to demand payment for your sins again. He cannot punish your sins twice!,” chapter 19, Loc 3685.
See what I mean? This is why Prince is so dangerous. But as I said, It doesn’t matter how much you emphasize grace, when you add prosperity as a result of the gospel, you are preaching a different gospel.
“Faith for any breakthrough or miracle in your life springs forth when you see His grace. You do not have to try to conjure up faith for healing or finances. Faith for any breakthrough or miracle in your life springs forth when you see His grace. He died so that you might live! You did not deserve it, but He still did it for you. See Jesus on the cross for you. That is the demonstration of His grace. And when you see His grace, your faith becomes unconscious and miracles will break forth!,” chapter 21, Loc 4069.
So faith in the work of Christ becomes the key, not to get God Himself, but to get His gifts. This is antithetical to what the Scripture actually teaches.
The Good News of the Gospel is Not About the Gifts!
The gospel is not about the gifts we receive from Christ, it’s about receiving Christ Himself. He is the gift of the gospel. He is the treasure.
Matthew 13:44 (ESV) “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
John Calvin’s explanation of these two parables is right on the money (pun intended)
(Calvin’s Commentaries) But it is asked, is it necessary that we abandon every other possession, in order that we may enjoy eternal life? I answer briefly. The natural meaning of the words is, that the Gospel does not receive from us the respect which it deserves, unless we prefer it to all the riches, pleasures, honors, and advantages of the world, and to such an extent, that we are satisfied with the spiritual blessings which it promises, and throw aside every thing that would keep us from enjoying them; for those who aspire to heaven must be disengaged from every thing that would retard their progress. Christ exhorts those who believe in him to deny those things only which are injurious to godliness; and, at the same time, permits them to use and enjoy God’s temporal favors, as if they did not use them.
By no means is Calvin saying that salvation is something earned by us:
(Calvin’s Commentaries) By the word buy Christ does not mean, that men bring any price, with which they may purchase for themselves the heavenly life; for we know on what condition the Lord invites believers in the book of Isaiah, (55:1,) Come and buy wine and milk without money and without price. But though the heavenly life, and every thing that belongs to it, is the free gift of God, yet we are said to buy it, when we cheerfully relinquish the desires of the flesh, that nothing may prevent us from obtaining it; as Paul says, that he reckoned all things to be loss and dung, that he might gain Christ, (Philippians 3:8.)
Jesus and Paul Preached the Same Gospel!
There is no difference in the mesage of the apostle Paul and the message Jesus. Listen to Paul’s words to the Philippians:
Philippians 3:7-11 (ESV) But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
What does Paul say is worth losing everything for? The “surpassing worth of knowing Christ.” The world and everything in it was counted “as rubbish” compared to knowing Christ. Christ was the treasure to the apostle Paul, not His gifts.
For sure Christ purchased our forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life with His blood. But these are given to us not to glory in them, but to glory in Christ Himself for all eternity.
I plan to do a series of blog posts on the erroneous teachings of Joseph Prince. In the meantime I close out this post with a paragraph from John Piper’s book, God is the Gospel that sums up what I’ve been trying to say in this post.
(God is the Gospel) The critical question for our generation-and for every generation-is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there?