Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
3 John 1:2
The word prosperity, and specifically the second verse of the third letter of the apostle John, has been the subject of much manipulation in recent times. It has been intended to give more emphasis to the material part of prosperity, that is, to the riches of this world. If, indeed, God’s desire is that we should prosper in all things, which should not be limited to the material. When John says: just as your soul prospers, it means that our prosperity must also include our emotions, our thoughts and our will.
In the last decades, many preachers have embraced what has come to be known as the gospel of prosperity. At the end of the 1970s, an international movement known as the Prosperity Movement or as a Movement of Faith, Word of Faith, “Confess it and Receive It” or Gospel of Riches and Success was consolidated in the United States. All these names refer to the same thing.
At the moment this movement is composed by different ministries, leaders and churches mainly of Charismatic-Pentecostal creed. These organizations have different names and sometimes appear to be unrelated to each other, yet globally they are unified in several associations by sharing the same vision, principles and methods, although they may differ in minor matters.
The doctrinal points that have in common the members of the Prosperity’s Movement are basically four. The first point is that God promises material prosperity, wealth and success to anyone who joins its particular way of interpreting Christianity. The second point is that the way to acquire this prosperity is through faith. The third point is the use of methods such as audibly confessing certain biblical verses, visualizing in the mind material things that are desired and praying by asking them to God, or also binding and rebuking spirits that are supposed to prevent riches from coming. The fourth is a very particular and profitable principle: the teaching that by offering large amounts of money to any of these groups, it is promised that God will return it, supernaturally, multiplied.
Jim Bakker, founder of the PTL Club, who was accused of committing counts of fraud and was imprisoned, was in jail relinquishing his earlier teachings on prosperity theology, saying which was wrong. In his 1996 book, “I Was Wrong,” he admitted that the first time he actually read the Bible until the end was while in prison, and that he realized that he had taken some passages out of context, passages that have been used as “proof texts” to support their teachings on prosperity.
Bakker says, “The more I studied the Bible, however, I had to admit that the message of prosperity does not align with the tenor of Scripture. My heart was crushed to think that I took so many people astray. I was horrified at how wrong I was, and I am deeply grateful that God did not hurt me like a false prophet.”
The true prosperity of God is not to make us rich in this world, we have a greater inheritance than that in heavens and the certainty that no matter what happens to us now, our Heavenly Father will supply all that we need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Confront what you hear in each sermon with the Bible. God bless you.