By Jack Van Impe
I want to deal with an important Scriptural issue, the Health and Wealth message and “prosperity truth.” Some ministers make statements such as: “It is not God’s will that anyone be sick. No Christian need ever suffer, furthermore, all believers should have a superabundance of material goods.” Such teachings sound attractive as their promoters pull isolated texts out of context. However, multiplied numbers of Christians are left in a state of despondency because they remain sick or poor.
May I speak to every child of God who is currently experiencing deep trial and agony of soul? May I comfort the sick and impoverished? You are not out of the will of God! It is not sin or unbelief in your life that keeps you from being healed or becoming wealthy! Let’s allow the God of the Scriptures to speak for Himself. Yea, let God be true and every man a liar (Romans 3:4).
First, Jesus never taught health and wealth for all. The Bible teaches that Christ was born in a borrowed stable, was laid in a borrowed manger (rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey; editor) and, 33 years later, ended up in the borrowed grave prepared for Joseph of Arimathaea (Mark 15:43). He was so poor that when a certain scribe came, and said unto Him, “Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest,” Jesus replied, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath no where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:19-20).
Think of it! Every creature had a place to sleep at night except Jesus, the Lord of Glory. Why did our Lord — the God of the universe — the One who created heaven and earth — become a poverty-stricken pauper, if I may use the term reverently? The answer to this overwhelming question is best expressed in Second Corinthians 8:9″ Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich (as Creator Colossians 1:16-17), yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.
Oh, if Jesus had only understood prosperity truth — He might have been born in a palace, been reared in a mansion, eaten at the Waldorf Astoria, and been buried in a star studded casket. No, He became poor, physically, so that you and I might become rich, spiritually. Yes, spiritually. Allow me to prove my position convincingly and scripturally.
Suffering — The Hallmark of Godliness
Troubled, heartbroken child of God, you are not being ignored by the Heavenly Father because of a lack of faith, instead, suffering is often the hallmark of godliness. Paul could say in Second Timothy 3:10-12, “But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.” He quickly adds, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
Don’t fret, then, beloved, when testing comes. It is the will of God for your life. God has never promised “moonlight and roses” for His children. That is a man-made teaching. The Holy Spirit says, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). When the promised trials and tribulations hit — don’t give up — don’t quit! You are not a bumbling backslider!
Instead, you are in the center of His will! So rejoice in the midst of the adversary’s attacks, for crowns and rewards are being earned for all eternity! That’s why First Peter 1:7 declares that “the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” James also has this honor in mind when he says in chapter 1, verse 12, Blessed is the man that endureth temptation (testing): for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him (James 1:12).
Regardless of the circumstances, then, whether sickness, hunger, poverty, or even martyrdom, remember that God loves you and is working out His glory through you. Paul constantly taught that the Christian life is one which brings repercussions. Still, he reassured his converts that in the midst of Satan’s attacks they could be victorious. He did not say they could live without trials, heartaches, sickness and poverty. Rather, he promised that the Lord would be with them when these tragedies occurred.
Romans 8:35-39 states,
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Wow! What a blow this is to “prosperity truth!” Do all of God’s children suffer? At times, yes! Can faith put an end to heartache, poverty, and death through disease or tragedy? Of course not! It is appointed unto man once to die (Hebrews 9:27). If it were so, then the greatest saints of all ages were spiritual flops! Here is more proof.
The New Testament writers, with the exception of John, laid down their lives for the Saviour. Matthew died from the wounds of a halberd. Mark was dragged through the streets by a team of wild horses until death ensued. Luke was hanged. John was thrown into boiling oil; though he lived, he was disfigured for life. Peter and Jude were crucified, and James was smashed to death with a club.
Paul, last but not least, suffered more than the others combined. He could say in 1 Corinthians 4:10-13,16:
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 (a tent maker): 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 off scouring of all things unto this day. I beseech you [plead with you, beg of you], be ye followers of me.
In 1 Corinthians 15:31, Paul says, I die daily. And in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 he continues, “We are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken;cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.”
Again, in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28:
Paul cries out, In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
They scourged Paul with the forerunner of the Roman cat-o-nine-tails. Three times they used clubs on his body and once crushed his head with rocks. Thinking he was dead, they discarded his body at the garbage dump of Lystra (see Acts 14:19).
Yes, discipleship, producing crowns and rewards to be rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ, is costly. Those who do not sacrifice here will have nothing in that day. They shall stand in Christ’s presence ashamed (1 John 2:28). They shall suffer loss of all rewards (see 1 Corinthians 3:15). One who has been a disciple, a follower of Christ throughout this earthly pilgrimage, will have no regrets when eternity approaches.
Listen to Paul again in 2 Timothy 4:6-8. He is about to have his life ended by decapitation, his head will soon roll from his body as the sword severs it. Is he remorseful, regretful, and sorry? Would he like to relive his life without all of the sorrow experienced as Christ’s follower? Well, had he heard about the “Health and Wealth” message, the “name it and claim it” philosophy, the “Prosperity Gospel everything would have been hunky-dory (“gravy and peachy,” per Webster’s dictionary). Instead he victoriously and joyously said,
I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course. I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Paul was saying, “There are no regrets. I am going home to be with Jesus forever, and long to hear Him say: ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant.'”
Believer, don’t seek to live a life of ease in Zion. If there are no scars, there will be no crowns. Don’t let the present day teachers of the “Health and Wealth” gospel rob you of eternal rewards. Remember Matthew 5:10-12 promises:
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.###
Jack Leo Van Impe is one of the world’s foremost Bible-Prophecy scholars, and the host, along with his wife and co-host, Rexella, of the weekly television series Jack Van Impe Presents. He is known as “The Walking Bible,” due to his memorization of and ability to recite more than 14,000 Bible verses, which he attributes to “desire, discipline, and dedication.” “During his evangelistic ministry, the power of God’s Word has been consistently demonstrated. He attributes the characteristic lasting effect of his crusades to the saturation of his sermons with the Bible. Sinners are confronted with God’s Word, rather than tear-jerking stories. The result is conviction and genuine conversions. Christians are moved to revival because they are forced to see themselves as God sees them. And that is what preaching is all about” (website). Dr. Van Impe has also written several books including; Revelation Revealed; The Baptism of the Holy Spirit; The True Gospel; Escape the Second Death; and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Prophecy. The JVIM is at: http://www.jvim.com
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