Are All Christians Supposed To Be Rich?

Many Word Faith/Prosperity Preachers teachers teach that every Christian should be wealthy and some even brashly claim that poverty is a curse.  They teach that we give to God expecting a blessing, miracle, healing, or a 30, 60, 100 fold return on our investment.

Some even promise miracles and miracle money during "Christian" telethon's to those that will plant a seed (give money) of faith.  When they do this they are in fact teaching that we can buy a miracle from God.  Peter refutes this method of abuse in very strong terms:

"But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.  Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.  Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.  I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity,"
Acts 8:20-23.

Jesus himself taught us that we should not seek these things in Matthew 6:28-34.  Jesus said that these are the things that pagans worry about and focus on.  Jesus gave us this advice concerning the issue of worldy goods:

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,
Matthew 6:33.

The Bible makes it very clear, God even simplified the matter by placing it all into one easy to understand chapter.  God teaches us the following: that we should be content, we should not desire to be rich, the love of money is the root of all evil, that many people have erred from the faith due to a love of money, then it commands us to flee these things, (1 Timothy 6).

Some of the most Godly people in the Bible were poor, Paul (Philipians 4:11-12), Paul's companions (1 Corinthians 4:9-13), Old Testament faithful (Hebrews 11:37) and Jesus (Matthew 8:20, 2 Corinthians 8:9).

"Supposing that gain is godliness; from such withdraw thyself...But godliness with contentment is great gain...And having food and clothes let us be content...But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts...For the love of money is the root of all evil, which, while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith...But thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness,"
1 Timothy 6:6-11.


MARK 10:30—Did Jesus promise a “hundredfold return” for our financial and material gifts?

MISINTERPRETATION:

Word-Faith teachers say that Jesus promised a hundredfold return for all our financial and material gifts.  You give $1 for the Gospel’s sake and $100 belongs to you; give $10 and receive $1,000; give $1,000 and receive $100,000. . . . Give one house and receive one hundred houses or one house worth one hundred times as much.  Give one airplane and receive one hundred times the value of the airplane.  Give one car and the return would furnish you a lifetime of cars.  In short, Mark 10:30 is a very good deal.

CORRECTING THE MISINTERPRETATION:

This verse has nothing to do with money or riches.  It is speaking specifically of those who forsake home and loved ones for the sake of Jesus and the gospel.  These individuals will receive a “hundredfold return” in the sense that they become a part of a community of believers.  It is in this new community that they find a multiplication of relationships—many of which are ultimately closer and more spiritually meaningful than blood relationships (cf. Mark 3:31–35; Acts 2:41–47; 1 Tim. 5:1–2).

God wants us to have a balanced perspective on money.  The Bible does not condemn possessions or riches per se.  It is not a sin to be wealthy; some very godly people in the Bible—Abraham and Job, for example—were quite wealthy.  Rather, God condemns a love of possessions or riches (Luke 16:13; 1 Tim. 6:10; Heb. 13:5).  A love of material things is a sign that a person is living according to a temporal perspective, not an eternal perspective.

Scripture tells us that a love of money and riches can lead to destruction.  The apostle Paul flatly stated that “people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim. 6:9).  Paul also warned that “there will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:1–5 niv).

Also, Jesus understandably warned his followers: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).  He then urged his followers to have an eternal perspective, exhorting: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:19–20a niv; see also John 6:27).

In view of the above, Jesus urges: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33 niv).  Living for God in a righteous way should be our top priority.  When we do this, we can rest assured that God will provide us with the necessities of life. Our attitude should be that whether we are rich or poor (or somewhere in between), we are simply stewards of what God has provided us. Our attitude should mirror that of the apostle Paul, who said: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:12–13 niv).
(Geisler, N. L., & Rhodes, R. 1997. When cultists ask : A popular handbook on cultic misinterpretations . Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Mich.)


3 JOHN 2—Does this verse indicate that God desires us to be financially prosperous, as Word-Faith teachers argue?

MISINTERPRETATION:

Third John 2 says, “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (nasb). Word-Faith teachers cite this verse in support of the prosperity gospel.

CORRECTING THE MISINTERPRETATION:

The Greek word for “prosper” in this verse does not refer to financial prosperity but simply means “to go well with someone.”  In fact, the niv translation correctly reflects this idea in its rendering of the verse: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”  In biblical times the wish for “things to go well,” along with the wish for “good health,” was a standard form of greeting.  Financial prosperity is completely foreign to both this ancient greeting and 3 John 2.
(Geisler, N. L., & Rhodes, R. 1997. When cultists ask : A popular handbook on cultic misinterpretations . Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Mich.)


2 CORINTHIANS 8:9—Does this verse indicate that financial prosperity is in the atonement, as Word-Faith teachers argue?

MISINTERPRETATION:
Second Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich” (niv).  Word-Faith teachers cite this verse in support of their view that financial prosperity is provided for in the atonement.

CORRECTING THE MISINTERPRETATION:

If Paul intended to say that prosperity is provided for in the atonement, he was offering the Corinthians something that he himself did not possess at the time.  Indeed, in 1 Corinthians 4:11 Paul informed these same individuals that he was “hungry and thirsty,” “poorly clothed,” and “homeless.”  He also exhorted the Corinthians to be imitators of his life and teaching (1 Cor. 4:16).

In 2 Corinthians 8:9 it seems clear that Paul was speaking about spiritual prosperity, not financial prosperity.  This fits both the immediate context in 2 Corinthians and the broader context of Paul’s other writings. 

For example, if financial prosperity was provided for in the atonement, one must wonder why Paul informed the Philippian Christians that he had learned to be content even when going hungry (Phil. 4:11–12).  One would think he would have instead claimed the prosperity promised in the atonement to meet his every need.
(Geisler, N. L., & Rhodes, R. 1997. When cultists ask : A popular handbook on cultic misinterpretations . Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Mich.)

"And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.  And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head."
Matthew 8:19-20

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
Matthew 6:24

"And why take ye thought for raiment?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat?  Or, What shall we drink?  Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Matthew 6:28-34

"For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.  We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.  Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day."
1 Corinthians 4:9-13

"And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth."
Hebrews 11:36-38

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."
Phillipians 4:11-12

"Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD?  Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."
Proverbs 30:7-8

"And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king."
2 Chronicles 1:11

"Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding; For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold.  She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.  Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor."
Proverbs 3:13-16

"And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple...Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk."
Acts 3:2, 6

"Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold."
Proverbs 8:10

"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
Revelation 3:17-18

"He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful."
Matthew 13:22

"And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful."
Mark 4:19

"And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions...It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."
Mark 10:23, 25

"But woe unto you that are rich!  for ye have received your consolation."
Luke 6:24

"Supposing that gain is godliness; from such withdraw thyself...But godliness with contentment is great gain...And having food and clothes let us be content...But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts...For the love of money is the root of all evil, which, while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith...But thou, O man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
1 Timothy 6:6-11  
 
"Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.  Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.  Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days."
James 5:1-3

"And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage."
Deuteronomy 6:10-12

"Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth."
Deuteronomy 8:11-17

"For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant."
Deuteronomy 31:20

"But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation."
Deuteronomy 32:15

"They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him."
Psalm 49:6-7

"And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?  And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.  But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?  So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
Luke 12:16-21

"Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them."
Psalm 62:10

"Riches profit not in the day of wrath: but righteousness delivereth from death."
Proverbs 11:4

"He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch."
Proverbs 11:28

"A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold."
Proverbs 22:1

"Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?  for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven."
Proverbs 23:5

"Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.  For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation?"
Proverbs 27:23-24

"He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him."
Proverbs 28:22

"As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.  They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge."
Jeremiah 5:27-28

"Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD."
Jeremiah 9:23-24

"And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin."
Hosea 12:8

"I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.  According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me."
Hosea 13:5-6

"Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not."
Zechariah 11: 4-5

"Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them, And tookest thy broidered garments, and coveredst them: and thou hast set mine oil and mine incense before them.  My meat also which I gave thee, fine flour, and oil, and honey, wherewith I fed thee, thou hast even set it before them for a sweet savour: and thus it was, saith the Lord GOD."
Ezekiel 16:17-19

"For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant."
Deuteronomy 31:20
"Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker."
Proverbs 17:5
"Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?  But ye have despised the poor."
James 2:5-6
"And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king."
2 Chronicles 1:11
John MacArthur on the Prosperity - Word Faith Gospel.