by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)

Non-denominational Reformed

7. Health and Wealth (Prosperity)

God never wills that we suffer in any way physically or materially. They misinterpret “by His stripes we were healed” to mean that physical healing is always available if the believer has enough “faith” and makes a “positive confession.” - And, they say Jesus was rich (e.g., he needed a “treasurer”) so God wants and wills that we all be rich.

Despite the bad exegesis of the first part, and the utter ridiculousness of the second, this doctrine leads believers to hang on to false hopes that, when unfulfilled in the way they asked, leave them much worse off than they were before.

As for the interpretation of Isaiah 53:5, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed,” this verse is dealing with atonement, which is the healing of sin(“iniquities”; “transgressions”). The passage then goes on to discuss the “guilt offering” (v. 10) of the Messiah and the fact that He would “bear the sins of many” (v. 12). In context, it is more than clear that the subject of these verses is sin. It is sin being addressed, not illness and/or disease.

Peter similarly makes reference to this verse:

“...and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

As we see again, this is an atonement verse, and the atonement is concerned with removing the moral blockage that separates man from God. And that moral blockage is not illness and/or disease; it is sin.

Can and does God heal? Absolutely. Scripture (in both narrative and didactic passages) shows that God can and does bring about physical healing, but it never makes universal claims or promises to this effect, and as we have seen the verses above, which form the basis for the Word of Faith doctrine, are themselves misinterpreted.

As for the idea that Jesus was rich, and that it is God’s will that all believers be rich, Scripture clearly knocks this position out of the water. As to the material possession and wealth of Jesus, Scripture reveals the following:

-Jesus was born in “lower class” conditions, in a manger in a stable. (Luke 2:7)

-Jesus had to use a “borrowed” room for the Last Supper. (Mark 14:13-14)

-Jesus rode in on a “borrowed” donkey. (Mark 11:1-6)

-Jesus was buried in a “borrowed” tomb. (Matthew 27:57-60)

And Jesus very own testimony reads, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head" (Luke 9:58).

As for God willing that all believers be rich, we have a numerous examples of godly men who were not wealthy. Paul wrote about his conditions:

“To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now” (1 Corinthians 4:10-13).

Likewise, many of the Old Testament saints lived lives directly opposing the prosperity preached by the Word of Faith teachers:

“They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated” (Hebrews 11:37).

The evidence is overwhelmingly clear that the Word of Faith strays so far from the Word of God with their claims that all believers are to have health, wealth, and prosperity. That alone should throw up warning flags in regards to anything else they may teach.

“Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him” (James 2:5)?

“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Philippians 4:11-12).

“And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh'” (Luke 6:20-21).

“But Peter said, 'I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!'” (Acts 3:6)

“Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, 'Who is the Lord?' Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:7-9).

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