Total prosperity is God's will for the believer and prosperity comes only as we renew our minds with God's Word.
One argument against prosperity is brought out in Mark 10 in the story of the rich young ruler.
Mark 10:17: Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, "Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?"
While this question may sound spiritual, it is actually ill-informed. A person doesn't do anything to be worthy of an inheritance. He is born an heir.
Jesus replied in Mark 10:18: "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." He seemingly ignores the original question. However, if this rich young ruler had told Jesus he called Him good because he realized Jesus was God, this confession would have given him the eternal life he sought. Jesus answered the young man's question, but the youth was not sincere and missed it.
If he wasn't truly seeking eternal life, why did he pose the question? To show how religious he was verse 19 reveals the reason when Jesus says, "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother."
In his account, Matthew includes "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," which is a quote from Leviticus 19:18.
The young man answered Jesus and said, "Master, all these have I observed from my youth." (Mark 10:20) He was "religious" and thought Jesus would be so impressed He would say: "I've never met anyone like you. Why you're tremendous! Disciples, come meet this unusual man who has kept the commandments from his youth!"
Religious people are the most difficult to get bornagain because they have lulled themselves into believing they will get to heaven because of self-righteousness, by being good people, by attending church, and by doing other proper things. Unfortunately, there will be many moral sinners in hell.
Jesus was not impressed with the rich young ruler because He knew no one could keep all the commandments 24 hours a day for a lifetime. If this were possible, it would have been unnecessary for Jesus to go to the cross and die. But, it is not possible and we are saved by God's mercy, not by our own works of righteousness.
"Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him. One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me." (Mark 10:21)
This verse makes it clear why Matthew quoted Leviticus. If the young man truly loved his neighbor as himself, he would have been able to sell his goods and give the money to the poor - that is, to his neighbor. But, he couldn't do it because he loved his possessions more than he loved his neighbor. And so, "he was sad at that saying, and walked away grieved: for he had great possessions." (Mark 10:22) Perhaps a more accurate rendering of this scripture would be that the only way Jesus could free this man from his possessions was to have him voluntarily give them away.
Contrary to what some believe, Jesus was not preaching against having riches. That would have been in opposition to His will and would have negated the stature of some of the great men of God - Solomon, David, Abraham - all very rich men. Furthermore, if the wealthy couldn't get into Heaven, these men would have been doomed to Hell. You see, God is not against our having possessions; He's against the possessions having us.
And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
And the disciples were astonished at his words.
Matthew nineteen says that they were "exceedingly amazed." Why were they amazed? They were not poor! Tradition portrays Jesus and the disciples as poor, but the Bible portrays them as being wealthy enough to give to the poor and have a treasurer to take care of their money. In fact, Jesus wore such fine garments a soldier gambled for them. No wonder they were astonished. Did this mean they could not enter into heaven? No.
But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard it is for them that trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom of God!
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.
And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
A camel going through the eye of a needle sounds pretty astonishing to us too because we live in a different culture and try to imagine shoving a two-ton camel through the eye of a sewing needle. We logically conclude this it is not merely difficut, it is impossible. Therefore it is also impossible for a rich man to enter into Heaven.
However, in Jesus' day the eye of the needle was a small door within the door to the gate of the city. During the day a watchman could spot approaching armies and the large gates could be closed to prevent their entering the city. On the other hand, since the enemy could not be seen at night, the gates were kept closed for protection. In order to allow travelers into the city, the gatesman would open a very small door within the gate. This allowed only one person to go through the gate at a time and if the city were attacked, any soldier coming through the door could be stopped.
The only problem occurred when a traveler needed to take his goods-laden camel through the door. The camel had to be unloaded on one side, squeezed through the door on its knees and then re-packed on the other side. This was a long, tedious job, but it could be done.
Through the use of this illustration Jesus was saying =just as the camel could not get through the eye of the needle while burdened with goods, the rich young ruler could not get through the "door" of eternal life as long as he was clinging to his possessions and giving them utmost priority in his life. What this young man didn't realize was everything he gave up on one side of the door he would be returned on the other side! In fact, verse 29 tells us he would receive back one-hundred fold.
In verses 29-30, Jesus says to the disciples,
"Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the age to come eternal life."
This brings to mind another often maligned scripture concerning prosperity, Philippians 4:11. Here Paul is saying, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Although Paul was not destitute at the time he spoke those words, he had been poor; however, his financial status was not the issue. Paul was amplifying several points. First, contentment is learned. Secondly, a person can learn to be content despite outward circumstances. Since circumstances change, contentment must be based on something immutable - something unchangeable. Money fluctuates, possessions fluctuate, everything in the world fluctuates, but Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Though heaven and earth pass away, God's Word will never pass away.
God desires us to prosper and be in health. He desires us to be blessed. When we have possessions and riches, God desires for us to have wisdom in what to do with them. Wisdom teaches us how to give freely and properly so we are a blessing in the Kingdom of God. That's God's ultimate and best in our lives because it reflects His nature of always giving.
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Copyright 2009 by Bob Yandian Ministries.
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