New Testament Scriptures Prove that Joseph Prince’s Prosperity Gospel is a Scam – By Rev George Ong (Dated 28 Nov 2021)
(This article was also sent to Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary, NCCS office, and for the attention of the Executive Committee Members.)
In a weekly sermon aired on YouTube on 24 November 2021 last Wednesday about 4 days ago, (this sermon was preached on 29 Sep 2019. Note that besides Joseph Prince’s Sunday sermons, he also has his previous sermons uploaded during mid-week on every Wednesday), Joseph Prince said the following; please click here to view excerpts in the 40-second video,
“Listen! Didn’t the Bible say that when you touch the word of God, his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season. His leaf also shall not wither; (and I believe that refers to your health.) And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psa 1:2-3). So this world says ‘Oh, is a prosperity message valid? Is this prosperity? Is that prosperity?’ I read my Bible – whatever he does prospers – that’s prosperity for me. Whatever he does prospers. The Bible answers for you. Can I have a good Amen? Are you with me so far?”
In ‘Destined To Reign’, Page 21, Joseph Prince wrote,
“Now, when God was restoring the truth of prosperity to the church, signposts were again put up, calling it heresy. For many years, the church backed away from the teaching of prosperity because it was controversial.”
In ‘Unmerited Favor’, Page 236, Joseph Prince wrote,
“Pastor Prince, you keep talking about the blessings of health, wealth and good success. I knew that you were one of those who preach the prosperity gospel…one of those health and wealth preachers!” My friend, there is no such thing as a “prosperity gospel.” There is only the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Before I proceed with the subject proper, I have 3 comments to make about what Joseph Prince said in the video.
First, Joseph Prince said,
“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season. His leaf also shall not wither; (and I believe that refers to your health.)”
Prince’s saying that the phrase, ‘His leaf also shall not wither’ in Psalm 1:3 refers to your health is pure rubbish.
What Psalm 1:3 is talking about is that a righteous man is like a tree planted by the rivers and he produces fruit. He is an evergreen fruit-bearer as his leaves shall not wither, always blossoming, unlike some trees that have to struggle to keep going and the leaves drop off. Leaves that have withered are indications of death and dryness. However, the righteous man is not characterised by the death and dryness of withered leaves. But on the contrary, his leaves, which never wither, are constantly green, alive, thriving and always flourishing. This speaks of the righteous man who is abundantly fruitful, is stable and reliable, all because he is like a tree that is planted in the rivers of God. Such a righteous man, who is rooted in God and constantly bearing fruit is bound to be successful.
So, ‘His leaf also shall not wither’ has nothing to do with health. Joseph Prince has, once again, gone out of context by ‘forcibly’ reading his pet doctrine of health (and wealth) into the text.
Second, the NKJV translates Psalm 1:3 as,
“… And whatever he does shall prosper.”
But the NCV translates the same verse as,
“… Everything they do will succeed.”
Besides, the NCV, 11 others: CEB, CJB, CEV, ERV, EXB, GW, GNT, ICB, NOG, NET, TLV, in their translations, closely resemble how NCV translates the verse. This means the word ‘prosper’ in Psalm 1:3 as used in the NKJV, is unlikely to refer to wealth per se, which Joseph Prince is heavily banking on.
Third, Joseph Prince’s attempt of building his prosperity or wealth theology from Psalm 1:1-3 does not hold any water.
Charles Spurgeon in ‘The Treasury of David’ on Psalm 1:3, wrote:
“And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Blessed is the man who hath such a promise as this. But we must not always estimate the fulfillment of a promise by our own eye-sight. How often, my brethren, if we judge by feeble sense, may we come to the mournful conclusion of Jacob, “All these things are against me!” For though we know our interest in the promise, yet we are so tried and troubled, that sight sees the very reverse of what that promise foretells. But to the eye of faith this word is sure, and by it we perceive that our works are prospered, even when everything seems to go against us. It is not outward prosperity which the Christian most desires and values; it is soul prosperity which he longs for. We often, like Jehoshaphat, make ships to go to Tarshish for gold, but they are broken at Ezion-geber; but even here there is a true prospering, for it is often for the soul’s health that we would be poor, bereaved, and persecuted. Our worst things are often our best things. As there is a curse wrapped up in the wicked man’s mercies, so there is a blessing concealed in the righteous man’s crosses, losses, and sorrows. The trials of the saint are a divine husbandry, by which he grows and brings forth abundant fruit.”
The Enduring Word Bible Commentary on Psalm 1:3, states:
“And whatever he does shall prosper: It isn’t that the righteous man has a “Midas Touch,” and everything he does makes him rich and comfortable. But in the life of the righteous man, God brings forth something good and wonderful out of everything. Even tough circumstances bring forth something that shall prosper.”
From what Charles Spurgeon and the Enduring Word Commentary have taught us on Psalm 1:3, “And whatever he does shall prosper,” it has little to do with wealth or outward and easy prosperity that Joseph Prince is pushing for. But it has more to do with our soul’s prosperity; that our soul can prosper and the righteous man can stand victorious and taste success even in the midst of tough and trying circumstances.
Therefore, Joseph Prince’s attempt of building his health and wealth theology from Psalm 1:1-3, is again out of context. You must have remembered the countless times I have mentioned Prince’s out-of-context Bible interpretation. But what is repulsive is that he accuses others of committing the same error that he is constantly guilty of. What does that leave me – only to say that Prince is indeed a recalcitrant hypocrite!
Now, let me get on with the rest of my argument.
The chief fault of Joseph Prince is that he mainly uses the Old Covenant scriptures, to showcase and prove his Prosperity Gospel (PG) doctrine. This goes to show that Prince is utterly inconsistent.
He has always been teaching that the way God relates with the Old Covenant people is different from how He relates with the New Covenant people. He is at pains to stress that much of Old Covenant doctrines is not binding on New Covenant believers because of the finished work of the cross. He never gets tired about making the point that the finished work of Christ has, indeed, made the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. He teaches that the God of the Old Covenant who is angry, punishes, judges, curses the Old Covenant people, will never do the same with New Covenant people.
But when it comes to the PG doctrine, he changes his tune entirely. He uses many Old Covenant passages to prove his PG theology. He relies heavily on Old Testament foundations and teaches that just as God had blessed the Old Covenant people with health and wealth, He will do the same with New Covenant people.
So, Joseph Prince is really confusing all of us – are we in the Old Covenant or the New Covenant? Joseph Prince, by using the Old Covenant principles, is effectively saying we, the New Covenant believers are still under the Old Covenant. Do you see how inconsistent and self-contradictory Joseph Prince is when it comes to the PG?
On the one hand, Joseph Prince says that much of the Old Covenant scriptures are not binding on New Covenant believers, and so our priority and focus should be the New Covenant scriptures. On the other hand, when it suits his agenda to support his Grace Theology, such as the PG doctrine, he switches frequency and harks back to Old Covenant passages.
Next, Joseph Prince selectively claims only the promises of prosperity and wealth of the Old Testament passages, without telling his followers that there are conditions to meet before any claim can be laid on these same promises:
Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV
1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
Let’s assume that Psalm 1:1-3 is about PG. Joseph Prince would just harp on the fact that we are made to be prosperous or wealthy in V3. But does he stress with equal gusto that before one can prosper and be wealthy, he must meet the conditions in V1-2? Hardly! If one doesn’t meet those conditions, the deal is off – there is no prosperity or wealth to claim – even if there is one.
It is a known fact that even under the Old Covenant, the blessing of prosperity is not a blanket promise to every Old Covenant believer. But Prince stretches this further by teaching that it is the covenantal right of every New Covenant believer to be very rich as Abraham was, even though under the Old Covenant, no such blanket promise was made to every Old Covenant believer.
The truth is only those Old Covenant people who obey God are promised wealth and prosperity (Deut 28:1-2). Those who disobey God are cursed with sickness and poverty (Deut 28:15):
Deuteronomy 28:1-2 NIV
1 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:
Deuteronomy 28:15 NIV
15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:
Psalm 112:1-3 NIV
1 “Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. 2 Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.”
Psalm 128:1-4 NIV
1 “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. 2 You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. 4 Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord.”
Yes, the Old Covenant people were promised blessings of prosperity and wealth. But such blessings aren’t unconditional. These blessings are only promised to those who obey God’s commandments and fear Him (Deut 28:1-2; Psa 112:1-3; 128:1-4).
That being so, how can Joseph Prince tell his followers to claim the promise of wealth under the Old Covenant without telling them that such promises require the condition of obedience and the fear of God?
How can Prince take just one part of the many Old Testament passages about the promise of wealth, and at the same time, pretend that the other part about the conditions to be met before the wealth can be appropriated doesn’t exist at all? This is nothing but plain dishonesty in Bible exegesis. And Joseph Prince also didn’t tell his followers that disobedience to God’s commandments will bring curses of poverty and sickness on their lives.
Joseph Prince and his followers are happily claiming the wealth promises of the Old Covenant, but are they also prepared to fulfil the conditions of the promise – to be obedient to God and fear Him?
The great joke is that Prince himself teaches against both obedience to God’s commandments and fearing Him. So, how can Prince and his followers ever claim the wealth promises when they are even opposed to meeting those conditions in the first place? And, in the same vein, are they also prepared to be cursed by God with sickness and poverty, if they disobey Him?
Instead of harking back to the Old Covenant scriptures, Joseph Prince ought to build his PG theology purely based on New Covenant passages since he is the champion and leading voice of the New Covenant Theology. But the trouble is he can’t anyway. This is because this promise of prosperity and wealth was never repeated in the New Testament to the corporate church or any individual believer.
While the Old Testament’s focus is on material prosperity, the New Testament’s focus is not on material prosperity, but adversity: suffering and persecution. The truth is, the emphasis had dramatically changed in the New Testament from material prosperity to adversity. The teaching of the New Testament is not about getting rich, but how, through adversity, believers can be strengthened in their faith.
Let me give you just a sampling of the New Testament passages that focus on adversity, such as, suffering and persecution:
Jesus warned that believers are bound to face persecution,
“…‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…” (Jn 15:20 NIV).
Paul alerted that tribulations are to be expected in their entering of the kingdom of God,
“…We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 NKJV).
Paul reminded the believers in Rome that suffering is part and parcel of their journey to eternal inheritance,
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom 8:17-18 NIV).
Paul warned that persecution is the price of godliness,
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12 NIV).
Peter warned believers not to be surprised by suffering as it is the typical experience to be encountered by believers,
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Pet 4:12-14 NIV).
Remember, the above scriptures in the New Testament are only a sampling of the humongous number of passages that focus on sufferings and persecutions of believers.
If New Covenant people are supposed to be blessed with riches, why was Paul, a New Covenant believer himself, not the recipient of it, when he said,
“To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless” (1 Cor 4:11)?
Why did Paul write,
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword” (Rom 8:35)?
Joseph Prince would have to explain to us, would Paul have written those words in 1 Corinthians 4:11 and Romans 8:35, if every New Covenant Christian, is indeed blessed with riches, and exempted from suffering, persecution, famine, nakedness, etc?
If the teachings of Joseph Prince that every New Covenant believer ought to be wealthy and prosperous is the norm, how could Paul, being a New Covenant believer himself, be hungry and thirsty, barely clothed and homeless (1 Cor 4:11)?
If Joseph Prince teaches that wealth is the inheritance of every New Covenant believer were true, why did Paul portray the church of Macedonia, who went through severe trials, as living in a state of poverty (2 Cor 8:1-2 NIV) and why did Jesus describe the church of Smyrna, who went through tribulation and suffering as a materially poor church (Rev 2:9)?
This is because Prince refuses to acknowledge that there is a difference between how the Old Testament and the New Testament see wealth. While the Old Testament’s focus is on material prosperity, the New Testament’s focus is not on material prosperity, but adversity: suffering and persecution. The emphasis has dramatically changed in the New Testament, from material prosperity to adversity.
Jesus Himself had redefined the content of blessings from material wealth in the Old Testament to spiritual wealth in the New Testament.
This is clearly seen in His Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:3-12 NIV
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Did Jesus say,
“Blessed are those who pray in faith, for the material wealth of the world will be theirs to claim”?
“Blessed are the poor and miserable for they will become rich and happy”?
“Blessed are the millionaires for they shall become billionaires”?
“Blessed are those who pray to win the top prize of Toto (lottery), for their prayers shall be answered?
(Joseph Prince shared on the pulpit on an occasion that it was God who answered one of his members’ prayers by providing for her finances because she won the top Toto prize of $2.8 million.)
Joseph Prince talks so much about blessings and being blessed by God, but why is he totally silent about the kind of blessings that Jesus came to give in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12? Why is his teaching on blessings so different from what Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount?
If Joseph Prince’s teaching on the blessing of prosperity and wealth is so core to the New Covenant, why is that not even given a single mention by Jesus in the Beatitudes?
I thought Prince has been shouting to the world that he is very Christ-centred. If that is so, why isn’t he emulating what Jesus had taught in the Beatitudes – about the need to mourn, to be pure in heart and be persecuted, etc – because that’s the way to get blessed?
Did you realise that none of the material blessings, such as silver and gold, hard cash and material assets, are mentioned in the Beatitudes? The only blessings Jesus came to give are the spiritual and heavenly blessings, which culminate in “great is your reward in heaven” (Matt 5:12).
Jesus did not come to promise silver and gold or material wealth or big houses and fast cars. It is not material reward, but spiritual reward that believers will be bestowed not on earth but in heaven: “great is your reward in heaven” (Matt 5:12).
What has happened is that the blessings of material wealth of prosperity on earth in the Old Covenant had been transformed by Jesus into spiritual wealth of adversity and persecution on earth and reward in heaven in the New Covenant.
Sir Francis Bacon wrote:
“Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New.”
What is more damaging to Joseph Prince is that Jesus ended the Beatitudes, not with the blessings of prosperity but with the blessings of persecution in Matthew 5:12. Those who are persecuted in some form will receive the reward, not on earth but in heaven:
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” (Matt 5:11-12).
While the topic of prosperity and wealth is heavily taught by Joseph Prince to his congregation, the topic of persecution and suffering is hardly emphasised by him at all. By doing that, Prince is doing a heavy injustice to New Testament scriptures. This is because while the blessings of prosperity and wealth are no longer the issues in the New Testament, the subject of persecution and suffering permeates and proliferates throughout the New Testament.
With the coming of Christ, He had Himself transformed the blessings of prosperity and wealth to blessings arising from persecution and suffering. If you go through the New Testament scriptures, from Jesus to Paul and Peter, you cannot miss the pervasive theme of suffering and persecution.
In the footsteps of his master, the Lord Jesus, the Apostle Peter also speaks a lot about suffering in the book of 1 Peter, and those who go through persecution are called the blessed ones:
1 Peter 1:13-14 NASB
13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you”
Paul’s teachings follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus too. Paul doesn’t talk about the blessings of wealth, but he emphasises a lot on the reality of suffering and persecution that characterise the believers’ life, his own teachings, life and ministry:
2 Corinthians 1:5-9 NIV
5 “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. 8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-12 NIV
8 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
2 Corinthians 6:4-5, 9-10 NIV
4 “Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”
2 Corinthians 12:10 NIV
10 “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
As you have read the above scriptures (which is only a sampling) which Paul has laid out for us, tell me honestly what went through your mind? You will have discovered or rediscovered that the Christian life is not about the good things of prosperity and wealth. It is not about the ease and comfort of life – that one is always wealthy and healthy, that Joseph Prince falsely teaches. Paul, himself testified that the Christian life is about suffering, persecution, hardship, hunger, beatings, imprisonment, etc. But the grace of God is powerful enough to see him/us through.
Joseph Prince ought to explain to us why he had to pick Abraham instead of Paul as the model or example to showcase his PG doctrine. Isn’t Paul, who is a New Covenant saint, a more fitting choice than Abraham, who is an Old Covenant believer – as, after all, we are in the New Covenant? Isn’t Paul his hero – as he has constantly been telling the world that Paul is his mentor that he has learned much of his grace theology from? Isn’t it logical that the poster-boy of his PG doctrine ought to be Paul rather than Abraham?
People of God – you ought to realise by now, why Joseph Prince couldn’t pick Paul – as Paul’s life and ministry of persecution and suffering (and poverty, during certain periods of his ministry), are a total contradiction to Prince’s PG doctrine.
The emphasis on wealth, which is a sign of God’s favour on the obedient and the righteous under the Old Covenant, has largely disappeared in the New Testament. This had been replaced by the faithful who had been persecuted, and the sufferings and hardships they had endured, etc, in the New Testament. Nonetheless, it is through persecutions (and not through wealth as under the Old Covenant) that they are not only blessed but they will also be amply rewarded, not on earth but in heaven:
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…” (Matt 5:11-12).
The New Testament never teaches that every believer who is faithful will be blessed with prosperity and wealth, but that the material needs of believers will be provided for (Acts 4:34; Matt 6:33).
Did the apostles tell the New Covenant believers in the Book of Acts that it is their covenantal right to be very rich and they are to live and enjoy life as ‘king’s kids’ as Joseph Prince teaches? Did the apostles stay in luxurious houses and live lavishly, as so many PG preachers do, in their villas and expensive cars (And I believe Joseph Prince, from the vast amounts of money that he had earned, just from the worldwide sale of his sermon videos alone over the last 20 years, he is not too far from them either)? Were the ministries of the apostles in Acts marked by prosperity and material wealth or suffering and persecution?
There was never a time in which the believers in Acts harked after material prosperity. Instead, most of the believers in the early church in Acts were persecuted for their faith.
If every New Covenant Christian and church ought to be very rich as Abraham was as Joseph Prince teaches, why were there poor and needy believers that needed to be helped by the more well-to-do brethren in the book of Acts (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-37)? The early church didn’t, as Joseph Prince would, to foolishly insist that every believer ought to be very rich as Abraham was. But they accepted the fact that there will be poor believers who were in need, and those who were endowed with more financial resources went out of their way to help them.
According to Joseph Prince, the New Covenant believers ought to have lots of silver and gold as the Old Covenant people had when they came out of Egypt as Prince has always enthusiastically preached. But this wasn’t true even in the case of the apostles.
When the apostle Peter met a crippled beggar who was expecting to get some pennies from him, in Acts chapter 3, Peter said,
“… Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6 KJV).
While Joseph Prince boasted about the fact that when the Old Covenant people came out of Egypt, they came out with lots of silver and gold (Psa 105:37; Ex 12:35-36), the apostle Peter, a New Covenant believer, had none of them.
While wealth is no longer a form of blessing or a sign of approval on the righteous and the obedient in the New Testament, neither should we swing to the other opposite extreme and attribute all wealth to the devil. We must thank the Lord for sovereignly bestowing on us every good thing, including wealth. And He sovereignly chooses to bless some with more wealth than others.
But seeking after wealth as a matter of passion and ambition is certainly wrong from the New Testament scriptures. In fact, the New Testament contains many warnings to believers about the dangers and lure of wealth.
Jesus says it’s hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mk 10:23-25). Paul says those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and plunge themselves into ruin and destruction (1 Tim 6:9).
And here comes Joseph Prince, who says that God wants every believer to be very wealthy. Here comes Joseph Prince, who teaches that riches are a sign of God’s blessing and favour, and poverty, a curse, and every New Covenant Christian has the covenantal right to be very rich as Abraham was.
Do you sense the total disconnect between Joseph Prince’s teachings and that of Jesus and Paul and the entire counsel of the New Testament scriptures?
Both Jesus and Paul had warned that wealth is not something to be sought after. It must never be our goal as wealth can produce greed or covetousness. Do you know that greed or covetousness is classified in Colossians 3:5 as idolatry, which is a serious sin? In New Testament Christianity, believers are not just discouraged, but they are also warned not to seek after wealth (1 Tim 6:9-10).
Paul could not possibly have warned us more clearly:
“People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Tim 6:9-10).
Paul’s warning against wealth shouldn’t be taken lightly. Why? Because of our greed or covetousness, we can even forfeit our very salvation by being plunged into ‘ruin and destruction’ (1 Tim 6:9) and of ‘wandering from the faith’ (1 Tim 6:10). Our precious salvation could be at stake. This is the direction that Joseph Prince’s PG doctrine can perilously lead us to. Here, what Paul is talking about is more than financial ruin as the consequences are not just earthly, but eternal.
The New Testament frequently uses the word destruction (Greek, apoleia) (as in 1 Timothy 6:9) to signify eternal damnation in Matthew 7:13; Romans 9:22; Philippians 1:28; Philippians 3:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Hebrews 10:39; 2 Peter 2:1,3; 2 Peter 3:7,16 and Revelation 17:8,11.
To “have wandered from the faith” (1 Tim 6:10) means one is no longer in the faith and has forfeited one’s salvation. Unless he repents before his death, he will be eternally condemned.
Someone said: “Fewer men survive the test of prosperity than the pressure of poverty.”
People have forgotten the frightening truth that Paul had warned that a covetous or greedy person cannot enter the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10; Eph 5:5). Paul treated the sin of covetousness so seriously that he said those who have committed the sin (and remain unrepentant) would be barred from God’s kingdom:
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NASB
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Ephesians 5:5 NASB
“For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
Be warned that covetousness is a serious sin which can ruin one’s eternal destiny.
In summary, what I have been stressing is that the emphasis on wealth which is a sign of God’s favour on the obedient and the righteous under the Old Testament has largely disappeared in the New Testament. This has been replaced by adversity: suffering and persecution of believers in the New Testament.
If one goes through the Book of Acts, one cannot miss the fact that it wasn’t prosperity and wealth that characterised the early church but it was suffering and persecution that exemplified it. What is more damaging to the PG doctrine of Joseph Prince was that the apostles, who should have been the first beneficiaries of prosperity and wealth, went through the most severe suffering and persecution instead when 11 out of 12 of them were mercilessly martyred.
If the apostles themselves, who were the core leaders of New Testament Christianity, such as Paul who had to go hungry and thirsty, and are often clothed in rags (1 Cor 4:11), and Peter who said that he had neither silver and gold (Acts 3:6), don’t even embody the truth of the PG in the New Testament scriptures that they are wealthy, it only proves that Joseph Prince’s teaching on PG that every New Covenant believer is to be very rich is, undoubtedly, a scam.
Rev George Ong