REALITY OF OUR PROSPERITY IN CHRIST
In our article this week, we will be examining the reality of our prosperity in Christ.
What is Prosperity?
Material prosperity is having the ability to use God’s power, wisdom and skill to tap into, and where necessary create, physical resources to meet your physical needs. It is not just money. A person can have money and not be prosperous, but if you are prosperous you will have money.
All physical human needs can be found in these seven areas: food, health care, clothing, building, transportation, communication (which includes education entertainment banking), and defense. So prosperity is having the physical resources to meet the needs in these seven areas.
A person who has money but does not have the wisdom, power and skill to use and produce these resources to meet these needs is not really a prosperous person: he will have to use his money to buy these resources from the person that has the wisdom, power and skill to produce these resources. Ultimately those that have divine wisdom, power and skill and so control the means of production of these resources will wind up with all the money, which is just a medium of exchange for these resources.
Money is not the root of all evil; rather it is the love of money that is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). Money answers all things (Eccl. 10: 19) physical and so it is very important for our physical existence and the work of God on the earth and that is why God has made financial and material prosperity one of our redemptive rights in Christ Jesus.
However, money cannot answer or buy spiritual needs like love, joy, peace, patience, good health, divine protection and long life.
Prosperity: A redemptive right
Prosperity is one of our redemptive rights in Christ:
2 Corinthians 8:9 (KJV): For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
Just as Jesus suffered and died to make us righteous, healed and delivered, He also became poor at the cross to make us materially prosperous.
For us to remain sinful, sick, oppressed or poor is actually a miscarriage of God’s justice since Christ suffered to save us from all these things. In fact the Lord is unsatisfied and displeased when Christians do not enjoy the benefits of the travail of His soul on the cross:
Isaiah 53:11 (KJV):
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
That is why the Lord says, “He desires above all things that we prosper and be in health even as our souls prosper” (3 John 2).
Prosperity is the will of God: Jesus was prosperous
Now, it is important to realize that Jesus was not poor. He was very prosperous because He obeyed and served God faithfully; it was only at the cross that he became poor for our sakes. Jesus could not have been poor because of Deuteronomy 28: 1-14. Jesus kept the law of God better than any man that has ever lived, and so he must have automatically enjoyed all the blessings of Deut.28: 1-14.
Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (KJV): And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
Deuteronomy 28:11-12 (KJV): And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee. The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.
It is obvious from the above scriptures that Jesus was prosperous. For instance, Jesus wore a coat of such good quality that the Roman soldiers who crucified Him preferred to cast lots for it rather than tear it:
John 19:23-24 (KJV): Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.
God uses our prosperity as part (not all: our godly lifestyle and character must be added to our prosperity) of our Christian witness:
1 Timothy 4:15 (KJV): Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
One of the ways our profiting appears is by our material prosperity:
Deuteronomy 28:8-10 (KJV): The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, and walk in his ways. And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee.
In Job 36: 11 the Bible reveals that God wants us to spend our days in prosperity and our years in pleasure, but it is conditional and the condition is not just getting born again! You must obey and serve Him:
Job 36:11 (KJV): If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.
Ps.35: 27 tells us that God has pleasure in the prosperity of His servants:
Psalms 35:27 (KJV): Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
Material Prosperity balanced with Spiritual Prosperity
There are two extreme lies that have been preached in the Church, one is that poverty is equivalent to holiness and humility, and the second is that God wants to give us unconditional riches once you are born again; all you have to do is give to the man of God.
While it is one of God’s supreme desires that we prosper materially and financially, that material prosperity must be preceded and thus balanced with spiritual prosperity:
3 John 1:2 (NKJV): Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
The problem with prosperity is that we must not put material prosperity as number one priority. The kingdom: allowing the nature of God like leaven to permeate your entire soul and body, must be number one priority, otherwise material prosperity will kill you.
Matthew 6:33 (KJV): But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 13:33 (KJV): Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.
1Thessalonians 5:23 (KJV): And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Timothy 6:9 (KJV): But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
Proverbs 1:32 (KJV): For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.
This is why God has tied the level to which He will prosper us to the level at which our soul is prospering in the kingdom. If your material prosperity goes beyond the level of your soul’s prosperity in the kingdom then it does not have God’s approval:
Psalms 106:15 (KJV): And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.
This in fact is the basic problem with the distorted prosperity message that is being preached in the Church today.
The way you will know if your material prosperity is going beyond your spiritual prosperity is when your pursuit of material things is taking away from the time you should spend with God in prayer, the Word and in church: fellowshipping with and serving in the body of Christ.
In our next article, we will see how God prospers us in such a way that will not add leanness to our souls.