Susan Waigwa (23
Preaching: Deceitful and Deadly"
So true a message and many are they that do not
want this truth.
Prosperity Preaching: Deceitful and Deadly
by John Piper
When I read about prosperity-preaching churches, my response is:
"If I were not on the inside of Christianity, I wouldn't want
in." In other words, if this is the message of Jesus, no thank
Luring people to Christ to get rich is both deceitful and
deadly. It's deceitful because when Jesus himself called us, he
said things like: "Any one of you who does not renounce all that
he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33). And it's deadly
because the desire to be rich plunges "people into ruin and
destruction" (1 Timothy 6:9). So here is my plea to preachers of
1. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that makes it harder
for people to get into heaven.
Jesus said, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth
to enter the kingdom of God!" His disciples were astonished, as
many in the "prosperity" movement should be. So Jesus went on to
raise their astonishment even higher by saying, "It is easier
for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich
person to enter the kingdom of God." They respond in disbelief:
"Then who can be saved?" Jesus says, "With man it is impossible,
but not with God. For all things are possible with God" (Mark
My question for prosperity preachers is: Why would you want to
develop a ministry focus that makes it harder for people to
2. Do not develop a philosophy of ministry that kindles suicidal
desires in people.
Paul said, "There is great gain in godliness with contentment,
for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take
anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing,
with these we will be content." But then he warned against the
desire to be rich. And by implication, he warned against
preachers who stir up the desire to be rich instead of helping
people get rid of it. He warned, "Those who desire to be rich
fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and
harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is
through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith
and pierced themselves with many pangs" (1 Timothy 6:6-10).
So my question for prosperity preachers is: Why would you want
to develop a ministry that encourages people to pierce
themselves with many pangs and plunge themselves into ruin and
3. Do not develop a philosophy of ministry that encourages
vulnerability to moth and rust.
Jesus warns against the effort to lay up treasures on earth.
That is, he tells us to be givers, not keepers. "Do not lay up
for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy
and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves
treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and
where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 6:19).
Yes, we all keep something. But given the built-in tendency
toward greed in all of us, why would we take the focus off Jesus
and turn it upside down?
4. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that makes hard work a
means of amassing wealth.
Paul said we should not steal. The alternative was hard work
with our own hands. But the main purpose was not merely to hoard
or even to have. The purpose was "to have to give." "Let him
labor, working with his hands, that he may have to give to him
who is in need" (Ephesians 4:28). This is not a justification
for being rich in order to give more. It is a call to make more
and keep less so you can give more. There is no reason why a
person who makes $200,000 should live any differently from the
way a person who makes $80,000 lives. Find a wartime lifestyle;
cap your expenditures; then give the rest away.
Why would you want to encourage people to think that they should
possess wealth in order to be a lavish giver? Why not encourage
them to keep their lives more simple and be an even more lavish
giver? Would that not add to their generosity a strong testimony
that Christ, and not possessions, is their treasure?
5. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that promotes less
faith in the promises of God to be for us what money can't be.
The reason the writer to the Hebrews tells us to be content with
what we have is that the opposite implies less faith in the
promises of God. He says, "Keep your life free from love of
money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I
will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we can confidently
say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to
me?'" (Hebrews 13:5-6).
If the Bible tells us that being content with what we have
honors the promise of God never to forsake us, why would we want
to teach people to want to be rich?
6. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that contributes to
your people being choked to death.
Jesus warns that the word of God, which is meant to give us
life, can be choked off from any effectiveness by riches. He
says it is like a seed that grows up among thorns that choke it
to death: "They are those who hear, but as they go on their way
they are choked by the . . . riches . . . of life, and their
fruit does not mature" (Luke 8:14).
Why would we want to encourage people to pursue the very thing
that Jesus warns will choke us to death?
7. Don't develop a philosophy of ministry that takes the
seasoning out of the salt and puts the light under a basket.
What is it about Christians that makes them the salt of the
earth and the light of the world? It is not wealth. The desire
for wealth and the pursuit of wealth tastes and looks just like
the world. It does not offer the world anything different from
what it already believes in. The great tragedy of
prosperity-preaching is that a person does not have to be
spiritually awakened in order to embrace it; one needs only to
be greedy. Getting rich in the name of Jesus is not the salt of
the earth or the light of the world. In this, the world simply
sees a reflection of itself. And if it works, they will buy it.
The context of Jesus' saying shows us what the salt and light
are. They are the joyful willingness to suffering for Christ.
Here is what Jesus said, "Blessed are you when others revile you
and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you
falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were
before you. You are the salt of the earth. . . . You are the
light of the world" (Matthew 5:11-14).
What will make the world taste (the salt) and see (the light) of
Christ in us is not that we love wealth the same way they do.
Rather, it will be the willingness and the ability of Christians
to love others through suffering, all the while rejoicing
because their reward is in heaven with Jesus. This is
inexplicable on human terms. This is supernatural. But to
attract people with promises of prosperity is simply natural. It
is not the message of Jesus. It is not what he died to achieve.
By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:
www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org.