There is probably no other theological subject that evokes such fierce debate as that of biblical prosperity. There is also probably no other theological subject that is so misunderstood. Many in the Christian ranks will tell you there is simply no such viable biblical theme as biblical prosperity - those same people will tell you it simply doesn't exist. That however, is not what the Bible says. As a matter of fact, it is quite the contrary, the concept and promise of prosperity is all through the Bible!
The Reason For The Resistance
Then the question poses itself: Why is there so much resistance and misunderstanding about biblical prosperity? For the rest of this article we'll let God speak for Himself through His Word.
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12 [New American Standard Bible]) It is just as Ephesians 6:12 suggests - it is a scheme of the devil, and for very good reason!
Now if you think the devil is being blamed unfairly for keeping the message of divine prosperity away from believing Christians, then consider this: The last thing in the world the devil wants is for faithful, believing, Christians to get hold of the biblical prosperity message. As a matter-of-fact, he'd put up with almost anything else but the prosperity message of the Bible. Want to know why? Because it takes finances to get people saved. Oh sure, you can stand on some street corner and get people saved, and I'm not belittling that, but you can't get people saved effectively - that is lots of people, that way. Sure he (the devil) doesn't like that either. But put real financial prosperity in the hand of born again, faith-filled, spirit-filled believers, and that scares the devil to death. Because if you take a Holy Spirit directed Christian with a burning desire to do God's work and let him become prosperous, well, he'll do untold damage to the kingdom of darkness! That's right, he'll get all kinds of people saved and made whole in every respect. He'll see to it that thousands upon thousands become just like him - set free in all respects - and that the devil just can't stomach.
The First Battlefront
Biblical prosperity is not a battle over the physical, material things of this world. Biblical prosperity is a spiritual battle of the highest order. And the first battlefront is keeping good believing Christians from knowing that prosperity is a gift from God, something that was bought and paid for on the cross. The devil will do anything to keep the body of Christ from finding out that prosperity is part of their inheritance from Christ!
Just What Is Biblical Prosperity?
The next thing many Christians don't understand is just what biblical prosperity is. In other words, they don't know the definition of prosperity the way the Bible teaches it. Put differently, they not only are not aware it is part of their divine inheritance, but what God's definition of prosperity is.
(10) The Lord sat as King at the flood;
Yes, the Lord sits as King forever. (11) The Lord will give strength to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with peace.
(Psalm 29:11,12 [NASB])
Do you see that word "peace" in the above Scripture? That word that is translated from the original Hebrew word "shalom." It's complete translation can be found in The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (ref. no. 7965). It is true, the word peace is one of the words or terms that defines this word shalom. However, it is not even close to the entire or complete translation. You see, both the original Greek and Hebrew languages are extremely detailed, and many times a word in either of these ancient languages encompasses many different words or meanings. This is the case with the word shalom. Listen to a more complete listing of the meaning of this term: It is defined by the above source as "safe...well,... happy... health, prosperity, peace...welfare...well...
wholly," or wholeness.
Are you starting to get a picture of the entirety of the meaning of the word or term shalom? It means wholeness, wellness, a state of safety, and health - in other words, prosperity. That is prosperity in all respects - inclusive of finances but not exclusive to finances. This word shalom one could say, would translate loosely to mean "whatever one might need to make one's life complete, lacking in no good (or godly) thing."
(5) But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
The term "well-being" is the very same word, shalom, that we have been studying and is so often interpreted simply as "peace" (ref. no. 7965 in Strong`s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). Did you hear that? "The chastening for our well-being (shalom) fell upon Him." Your state of wholeness, wellness, health, prosperity, that very state of no good thing lacking, was paid for on the cross for you and I. Now, for anyone that would like to leave finances out of the biblical prosperity message, please look up "prosperity" in the dictionary. It means "economic well-being" according to Webster`s New Collegiate Dictionary!
But the best part of God's definition of prosperity is that it doesn't just mean finances. It becomes quite obvious with this word study that finances are included (and by the way how happy can one be if they don't have money to pay the bills, etc.), but it also includes everything else one could need or want. Happiness, health, wellness, truly a state of wholeness and completion are all part of God's definition of prosperity and all part of His prosperity that was paid for you. Yes, Christ paid for your state of shalom or completeness in every way. "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." (II Corinthians 8:9 [New American Standard]) Rich in what? Rich in anything that you might need that is good and Godly.
So how do we justify biblical passages that discourage seeking after wealth with the message of biblical prosperity?
(4) Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,
Cease from your consideration of it,
(5) When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.
For wealth certainly makes itself wings,
Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.
(Proverbs 23:4,5 [NASB])
It's quite simple: The Bible tells us not to chase after wealth and not to make it a god. Don't make it your end focus. We are to make Him our focus, Him our goal. We are to make His will, Jesus' will, our goal and our prize. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures." (James 4:3 NASB]) The problem is not with money or wealth, but the worship of it as the source of happiness in life. Jesus is the only source of true happiness in life. Now does that mean we can`t have, enjoy or even look forward to nice things? Is that biblical? The answer is of course God wants us to have nice things and of course it is, as you have seen, biblical. But wealth is not supposed to be our goal in life. We are to accept that it is part of our state of wholeness that Jesus died for and paid for on the cross. We are to be blessed to be a blessing to others. We are to use our God-given prosperity (and that means all of it) to glorify God, and for the salvation of souls and His kingdom work. And in the process, we too are to be blessed.
(10) Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and
multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; (11) you
will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing
thanksgiving to God. (II Corinthians 9:10,11 emphasis added [NASB])
Yes, prosperity or our state of wholeness is a result of our good seeds sown and multiplied for His sake. But let's not forget that we are family members of His as Christians, and He too wants the best for us also. He died for your state of shalom. Understand that it's part of His inheritance He willed to you. Receive it with thanksgiving and use it for His glorification.
In Jesus' Name