Updated: Feb 18
'And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.'Luke 12:15.
'For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.'ITimothy 6:10.
Churches are quick to denounce 419 and the Yahoo Yahoo gangs. However, there is a huge scam going on in plain sight in the Nigerian Church which was imported from America many years ago. It is the scam of the prosperity gospel.
God can and does prosper individuals, so this is not a message in support of poverty or any kind of mediocrity. It is not a message against bible-based offerings. True prosperity is great, and giving to a good scriptural cause is awesome. However, this is a denunciation of the 'prosperity gospel'. That charismatic, pentecostal, evangelical concoction which specialises in milking church members dry through the exploitative collection of 'seeds', while promising them that by sowing, thinking and talking positively, everyone can reap wealth, health and success. This manipulative, perverted brand of prosperity teaching is rampant in many Nigerian churches today.
While we believe prosperity is God's will for His people, the prosperity gospel that is being peddled in Nigeria is contrary to scriptural teaching. This grasping, grabbing doctrine that is promoting greed, avarice, manipulation, and covetousness in the Church is inconsistent with God's word. We vehemently denounce this teaching that is deliberately tilted to favour unscrupulous pastors.
Shepherds are driving around in flashy cars, living in luxurious homes, educating their kids in the best schools, and getting fat on good food, while the sheep is ragged, hungry, malnourished and getting thinner.
In spite of all the church meetings and the billions of Naira Christians are sowing into these churches weekly, is it not scandalous that Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world with about half the country's population living in EXTREME POVERTY? According to Oxfam, 'The combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men - $29.9 billion - could end extreme poverty at a national level yet 5 million face hunger. More than 112 million people are living in poverty in Nigeria, yet the country’s richest man would have to spend $1 million a day for 42 years to exhaust his fortune'.
Church members would rather give away most of their earnings to questionable preachers in the name of seeds than pay taxes to the government to improve health care, education and social services. Monies going into the coffers of prosperity churches is enough to modernise many of our dilapidated schools and ill-equipped hospitals. Instead what we see is a carnal denominational rivalry between some of these as they struggle to outdo each other with humongous church buildings.
Gullible Christians are being hoodwinked into sowing everything sowable, and the only individuals largely profiting from this mass 'sowing' scam are the prosperity ministers and their close acquaintances. It is an open secret that some of the richest ministers of religion on the planet are Nigerians. Most of the largest church buildings in the world are in Nigeria. Some of the best schools in the developing world are owned by Nigerian churches. But then these beautiful churches and school buildings were erected with the sweat of poor church members who ironically mostly live in slums that are far-detached from those glamorous church buildings, and who sadly cannot afford to educate their children in the very expensive fee-paying church schools that were built with their money. When you question this injustice, they cry 'quality education is expensive'! How sad. How did we get here?
The missionaries who brought free religion to us also gave us free schools. Today all over Western Europe, most primary and secondary educational institutions are free, including many church schools like the one my kids go to. For next to nothing, you can get a university education in many Western European countries. In Nigeria, it is disturbing to know that some of the more serious churches are equally charging prohibitive school fees. What is wrong with the Nigerian Church?
We have been preaching this skewed version of prosperity teaching in the country for decades. Prosperity pastors have been telling us things are going to get better. But look all around you, the opposite is what we are getting. A few are getting richer, a lot are getting poorer. While the favoured minority can jet out in their private jets for regular medical check-up and treatment when ill, the majority of their poor members generally have to depend on faith and fate. Faith is good, but faith without works is dead!
Multitudes grope about in the paralysing darkness of sickness, poverty, and ignorance. Nigerians are dying like flies and many are getting cut-off in their prime. The average global life expectancy is about 70 years. Today, Nigeria's life expectancy is only 55 years, one of the lowest in the world! Compare this to Post Christian Western societies where the majority are not sowing any prosperity seeds. Westerners are living longer, with people in many developed countries living within the 80 years bracket. In fact, old age is becoming a problem in some of these nations and governments are struggling to deal with the challenges of caring for ageing populations. Is this not an embarrassment to the Nigerian Church? What happened to all the prosperity seeds we have been sowing?
Appallingly, there appears to be a conspiracy of silence in the Church. We have prophets, but only a few are crying out against this atrocity in the Lord's house. Or are our prophets complicit in this monumental prosperity scam? We have teachers, but they are not teaching to correct this terrible error that is being perpetrated from a thousand and one pulpits. Are our teachers complicit in this heinous conspiracy against the Bride of the Lord?
Let us prophesy to the prophets! Hear the word of the Lord:
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them...Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD;As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock;Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them...And as for you, O my flock, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I judge between cattle and cattle, between the rams and the he goats. Seemeth it a small thing unto you to have eaten up the good pasture, but ye must tread down with your feet the residue of your pastures? and to have drunk of the deep waters, but ye must foul the residue with your feet? And as for my flock, they eat that which ye have trodden with your feet; and they drink that which ye have fouled with your feet.Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD unto them; Behold, I, even I, will judge between the fat cattle and between the lean cattle...And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD.Ezekiel 34:2-31.
Consequently, we denounce this prosperity gospel in its entirety because:
It is not scriptural
There is no scriptural basis for it in New Testament writings.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also...No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.Matthew 6:19-24
Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. godliness with contentment is great gain.For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.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.For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness...Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;1Timothy 6:5-11,17
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.Hebrews 13:5.
Jesus did not live it or preach it
Christ's gospel and messages never encouraged it. Rather he preached people should forsake ALL to follow Him.
And He said unto them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”Luke 12:15
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.And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.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. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it 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.Mark 10:21-25.
And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. Mt8:20.
The Apostles & Early Church Fathers did not Live it or Preach it
In fact, a close look at their writings would reveal a bias against the inordinate accumulation of material things.
Then 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 3:16
Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well. James 2:5-8.
Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
The Early Church did not Reflect that Materialistic Passion
Primitive Christians actually actively sought to distribute their wealth to the less privileged instead of accumulating material things inordinately.
And all that believed were together, and had all things common;And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.Acts 2:44-45.
Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.Acts 4:34-35.
If God has blessed us, we should earnestly seek for ways to use our wealth to advance the will of God and improve the lives of the poor, especially amongst God's people. Let us resist the spirit of materialism that is currently holding sway over many lives not just in the world, but painfully in the Church also.
Go ahead, get mad at the preacher for telling you the truth you are not ready to accept about your money-minded MOG. I am not seeking for your commendation. I don't care!