Choose Your Prosperity
Within minutes of tuning into christian television programming, you will noticeably find a mention of prosperity. Many televangelists today preach what is commonly known as the “prosperity gospel.” Generally speaking, they believe that Jesus’ work on the cross was for sin, sickness and the shortage of finances. All three were redeemed in full. So, as you are saved form sin, you are also saved from sickness and poverty. This is what they mean when they employ the word prosperity (see Adding to the Atonement for more on this).
If we get right down to it, everyone is prosperous. Two psalms, only ten chapters apart, speak directly to this. If we can properly interpret them, combine their meanings and compare their teachings, we will discover that there are two ways to be prosperous.
The first way to be prosperous is in fruitful obedience. The first Psalm speaks about the blessed man whose “delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2). This is accompanied by the illustration of a tree planted by streams of water. The tree, since it is planted near the streams, yields fruit in its season. The psalmist says that the blessed man is like the tree, “In all that he does, he prospers.” (Ps. 1:3). So, in this first sense, being prosperous is being fruitful. It is being obedient and holy. It is growing in understanding of and delight for the Bible (see In All that He Does, He Prospers for more on this).
The second way to be prosperous is in the world. Not necessarily in fleshy ways, but in the secular (or not spiritual) ways. The tenth Psalm uses the word prosper as well. Here the writer is thinking about the wicked and why God allows them to succeed in their wickedness. They hotly pursue the poor, devise schemes, boast of wicked desires, curse and renounce God, grow in pride. They are arrogant and self-seeking. And in their secular work, they “prosper at all times” (Ps.10:5). This is to say that they are successful at what they do. The live and do well. In this sense, being prosperous is being successful in this lifetime (see Wicked Prosper, Weak Entrust for more on this).
Here is the comparison. The first way of prosperity is eternal. The second is temporal. The first is true of the blessed men (Ps. 1:1). The second is true of the wicked men (Ps. 10:2). The first is known by God (Ps. 1:6). The second will be judged (Ps. 10:15).
The real question is not whether you want to be prosperous. It is, “Which prosperity do you want?” A popular book by one of the prosperity gospel teachers is entitled, Your Best Life Now. Taking the book at its cover, which life would you rather have best? This one or the one to come? Would you rather be prosperous now or in the after-life? Either way, you will be prosperous.