About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

Home Page

Does Faith Equal Prosperity?


There are variations to what has been commonly called the "Prosperity Gospel".  The simplest way to explain this teaching is that if we have sufficient faith in God, He will not only bless us spiritually, but also materially, and physically.  We should therefore expect God to make us rich and healthy.  If God doesn't prosper us, then we're deficient in faith.  Examples of people being so blessed are often taken from the Old Testament.  Few examples are taken from the New Testament.  That should make people take a second look at this doctrine, but it often doesn't.


Two examples of wealthy men are Abraham and Isaac.  These men were certainly wealthy.  We see Abraham's wealth in Genesis 24:34, and Isaac's wealth in Genesis 26:13.   


Prosperity teaching is like a math equation.  Faith, plus more faith, equals blessings.  I think reducing God's response to our expectations with a math equation shows a lack of reverence for Him.  So I ask, "did Abraham and Isaac become wealthy solely because of their faith, or is there more to this we need to understand?"     


Abraham and Isaac had faith, but if you look at their lives, they didn't always demonstrate great faith.  I believe that Abraham really didn't come to trust God until God asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac.  I do believe that God's seemingly strange request was a test of faith, but it was more than that.  When Abraham pulled out his knife to slit Isaac's throat, God stopped him and said, "now I know you fear God". (Genesis 22:12)  This test was just as much a test of fearing God as it was a test of faith.  Fearing God was fundamental to Abraham passing the test of faith.  Fearing God was why Abraham trusted God in the first place.


Genesis 26:5 also specifically states that God would fulfill the promises he made to Abraham because Abraham "obeyed God".  So along with fearing God, was obedience to God.  Clearly, there was more than faith involved when it came to God blessing Abraham.   


Some of Isaac's wealth was inherited, as seen in Genesis 24:36 and 25:5.  The rest of his wealth was accumulated after Abraham died.  In Genesis 26:3 God told Isaac to stay in the land where he was living, even though there was a famine.  God told Isaac that if he would obey Him, He would bless Isaac.  So "obeying God" was fundamental to Isaac becoming wealthy too.  Faith without obedience is not faith, as the New Testament book of James makes clear.


Prosperity people miss a couple of important points when they claim we can prosper if we can scrape up sufficient faith.  Both fearing God and obeying God are fundamental to trusting Him.  Abraham and Isaac both feared God and obeyed Him.  For these reasons, God chose to bless these men.  I specifically use the word "chose" here.  God is sovereign, and beyond faith, fear, and obedience, prosperity is still His choice to make.  He will choose who and how to bless.  It's not a matter of a simple formula of faith.  Faith, plus more faith, and sometimes even more faith, doesn't equal wealth.  The great men of the New Testament prove that, which is one reason why you can't pull out a few examples of wealthy men from the Old Testament to prove  prosperity teaching.     


I'd like to suggest this to any hyper faith, or prosperity person who may read these words.  Before you teach on faith, spend time teaching that God is to be feared and obeyed.  This will make a drastic difference in your teaching on faith.  It might even make you re-evaluate the "Prosperity Gospel" altogether.    



Home Page