Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Does God want you to be rich?

"Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." - 3 John 1:2 (KJV)

Why are so many Christians adamant about preaching that God does not want us to prosper financially? Is it because so many Christians are poor? And so, we think, because these believers are obviously in the will of God and are not prospering financially, that must mean it isn't God's will for us to prosper. Is that about right?

Well, I have news for you. The Bible is full of scriptures that say God does want us to be prosperous - in every way, including financially! In the same way, the Bible tells us that it's God's will that none should perish  (2 Peter 3:9).

Let's examine this scripture further to see what John is telling us.

The word John uses here is εὐοδοῦσθαι. It is used four times in the New Testament in three different verses (3 John 1:2 uses it twice).

"Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you." - Romans 1:10 (KJV)

While it could be argued that Paul is simply saying that he hopes his journey to them will be a safe one, what he's really saying is, "Every time I pray, I make positive confession that means will be provided so that now or sometime in the future, I will be prospered by God's will to go to you."

Again, that doesn't specifically say anything about money, but it's pretty close. However, the next verse clears it right up.

"Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." - 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 (KJV)

Alright, it should be obvious to the most unlearned reader that these verses are about financial prosperity. He mentions the "collection for the saints" and says that he doesn't want to have to wait for them to collect the money when he gets there. (He also mentions in verse 6 that he expects them to send him on his journey - implying that they pay his way.)

Now, the form of the word used in 3 John 1:2 is called a present passive infinitive, which means:
1) it's happening now (am, is, are)
2) it's being done to someone or something (being)
3) it's a verb

So, a clearer translation of that verse would be:

"Beloved, I wish above all things that you are being prospered and are healing yourself*, even as thy soul is being prospered."

(*This is a discussion for another time, but suffice to say that the verb here is in the active sense, meaning the subject is doing the action.)

So why aren't some Christians prospering?

Christians aren't prospering for the same reasons that the lost aren't going to Heaven.

1. They don't know the truth.
2. They reject the truth.

According to a poll by TIME Magazine in 2006, 61% of Christians interviewed said they believe that God wants people to be prosperous. That means 39% don't.

"Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant." - Psalm 35:27 (KJV)

שָׁלוֹם (shalom)
This is the word David used for "peace." According to Strong's, it means safetyhealthprosperity and peace.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines prosperity as "the state of being successful usually by making a lot of money."

God wants you to be rich!

Ah, but there's a catch. See, the Bible doesn't say that God takes pleasure in everyone's prosperity. It says that He takes pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.

עֶבֶד ('ebed)
It really just means "servant;" as in, one who serves.

God takes pleasure in the prosperity of those who serve Him. But wait! That's the Old Testament. Let's look at what the New Testament says.

"And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." - Galatians 3:29-4:7 (KJV)

Until the appearance of Jesus Christ on the earth, anyone who followed God's laws and prophets were considered God's servants. And God even took pleasure in their prosperity.

But when Jesus came, died and rose again, He became the "firstborn of the dead" (Revelation 1:5) and the heir of the promise God gave Abraham (Genesis 13:14-18,17:7-8).

Now, this promise was passed from Abraham to Isaac (Genesis 26:3-4) and from Isaac to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-14) and from Jacob to his twelve sons (Exodus 6:7-8).

But as Paul points out in Galatians 3:16, this promise was not to seeds (as in, multiple), but to his seed (one). That seed is Jesus Christ. Therefore, Jesus is the heir.

"Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham." - Galatians 3:7 (KJV)

So who, then, are of faith?

"So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." - Romans 10:17 (KJV)

"Hearing" implies (and quite correctly) that this "word" (ῥήμα - rhema) is preached. Note that this is not λόγος (logos). The difference is that ῥήμα means "spoken word." λόγος means "written word."

That makes sense, since Paul says that "hearing" comes it. You can't hear a written word; it has to be spoken!

Here's the process so far: We hear the Word of God (either by speaking it to ourselves or from someone else). The hearing of that Word produces faith.

Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is the substance (or "building material") of things hoped for. If we tag that on to what we've already learned, we see that the hearing of the preached Word of God produces the building materials for the things we hope for!

This means that faith is actually making the things you hope for!

So wouldn't that mean that if you are "of faith," you are also hoping for something? Otherwise, what is it that your faith is making?

Now, I want you to take a look at something else.

"But without faith, it  is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." - Hebrews 11:6 (KJV)

While this is certainly an acceptable translation of the original Greek, there is much more to this verse than many of us have been led to believe (no pun intended).

A more literal translation of this verse is:
"But without faith, impossibility pleases you. Have faith because it secures coming near the God that is and it secures your inquiry renumerator is manifesting."

Do you see how this strengthens the verse? The author is telling us that if you don't have faith (i.e. you don't have the building material of hope that is brought by hear the Word preached), then you'll be perfectly fine with impossibility. You'll reason out that you understand the laws of physics and you'll call yourself a "realist."

But then the author implores us to have faith (the building material of hope that is brought by hearing the Word of God preached). Why? Why shouldn't I be a "realist?" Why shouldn't I just accept that some things are impossible?

Because faith (the building material of hope that is brought by hearing the Word of God preached) secures (ensures, promises and delivers on that promise) that we come near the "God that is" (I love that!) and it also secures that our "inquiry renumerator is manifesting."

What does that mean?

A renumerator is defined as "one who pays (a person) a suitable equivalent in return for goods provided, services rendered, or losses incurred; recompense."

For what service are we being compensated? Having faith! Why would God do that?

Because He takes pleasure in our prosperity!!!