Over the last twenty years, a new message is being preached. A new gospel has emerged and some of the largest churches in America are preaching this new doctrine. It has been referred to as the “prosperity doctrine” preached by the “word of faith” churches. The “name it and claim it” nick name really describes this theology. If you name and claim something in faith, then God is compelled to give you what you ask.
This theology is “I” centered rather than “God” centered. It is about what the person wants that is beyond what God may want. The teaching is that God wants all of His followers to have material gain and all it takes is to command God, in faith believing, and God has to acquiesce to your prayers; no matter the circumstances. If you do not gain the wealth, you didn’t have enough faith.
The preachers of the doctrine teach their followers to claim everything from homes (large luxurious) and cars (Mercedes, BMW, Cadillac), to large bank accounts. There is no end to what you can demand from God.
That great Bible teacher and Theologian C. H. Spurgeon said:
I believe that it is anti-Christian and unholy for any Christian to live with the object of accumulating wealth. You will say, “Are we not to strive all we can to get all the money we can?” You may do so. I cannot doubt but what, in so doing, you may do service to the cause of God. But what I said was that to live with the object of accumulating wealth is anti-Christian.(1)
One of their teachings, centers on the phrase – “If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it.” This doctrine does not take into account what the circumstances surrounding the trial are. This so-called promise states, if you are facing problems in your life then God will bring you through it. It does not matter that it may be the judgment of God on the believer for sin in their life; God will make them more than conquerors. They use, as their proof text, 1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear.”
They take this verse to say that if God brings you to an event in your life, then He will equip you to go through the event. The problem with most of this egocentric and cutesy theology is that this verse is taken out of the context in which it was written. This verse is related to overcoming our “lust after evil things” as found earlier in the text (I Corinthians 10:6) and the temptations man faces to do evil. When we are meeting temptations head on, and we ask God for help, God is faithful to help you “escape” or overcome the temptation if we call on His name. These were “ensamples and written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come (I Corinthians 10:11).
The context of this verse is NOT that when we go through trials, “If God brings you to it”, that God will bring you through the trial”. The trial is for you to overcome. Trials are for growth not for bypassing. I am not saying that we cannot seek God while going through trials, quite the contrary, but to say that God will do all the work, “God will bring you through it” is just not accurate.
Temptations on the other hand to do evil are covered in the Apostle Paul’s statement to the Church at Corinth, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” There is a big difference between trials and temptations.
The failure in this cutesy theology is leaving out the next verse; “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 10:14.
When we see the “wherefore” we ought to see what it is “therefore”. In this case the previous text concerns temptations and not trials. Wherefore followers of Jesus should flee from worship of anything other than God. For example, homes, cars and large bank accounts.
When going through temptations, we can rely on God and His promise that the LORD “will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” Paul warns us to flee from anything that takes the place of God.
(1) 2,200 Quotations from the Writings of Charles H. Spurgeon (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), 216.