– by Gary Brumbelow
I find that if I say things like what you have said here some Christians respond with their anti-“prosperity-gospel” alarms going off.
Yet there is clearly a distinct difference between what you are saying and the somewhat “magical” and almost “superstitious” view of prosperity that some Christians have.
I think your message is this: Following Christian Principles naturally tends to produce human prosperity. We are promised “tribulations” in this life, so there is no guaranteed absolute “formula” with which to “get rich quick;” and yet economics and business and abundance and money and planning, etc. are all things that God has addressed for us in the Bible.
Any pointers on how to help people differentiate between an out-of-balance “prosperity-gospel” and the kind of thing you are talking about?
Blessings to you in Jesus name.
Jon Davis Jr.
Thanks very much, Jon, for your helpful comment. Yes, sometimes people mistake this message for the prosperity gospel, (“If you trust God enough you will be materially blessed, and if you are not materially blessed, something is wrong with your faith or obedience.”) But it’s not. I can articulate a couple of differences. For one thing, the DNA does not believe that Christians somehow deserve to have a pleasant, trouble-free life. The Bible is very clear that God often uses suffering and hardship in the life of the believer.
A second important difference has to do with what is meant by “prosper.” As our friend, Elizabeth Youmans, points out, “Prosper” in the Hebrew does not necessarily refer to material wealth, but means “to accomplish what is intended by God.” The DNA message is not about personal enrichment and consumption, but about being part of God’s big agenda to bless others.
God has a big agenda. A whole-life agenda. Without any question, His ultimate blessing is adoption into His family forever, an adoption made possible by the substitutionary atonement of Christ. That’s the supreme blessing, not the only blessing. To suggest that the salvation of the soul is the only human need God cares about is to make God less compassionate than every reasonably competent human father.
A key theme of the Bible is found in God’s word to Abraham in Genesis 12, I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen 12:2-3 NIV, emphasis added). God blesses the Christian so that he or she can bless others.
Darrow recently spoke at a church in Australia and said it like this,
We live in a time when people are very focused on themselves. We pray, ‘Lord, bless me.’ Sometimes he does, and so we pray again, ‘Lord, bless me again!’ … We are a people that tend to focus on ourselves. We see ourselves as a reservoir for God to fill. But we are not a reservoir; we are a channel of blessing. God blesses us not for ourselves but for the sake of others.
In his new book, Emancipating the World, just released last week, Darrow connects the dots between this concept and the Great Commission:
From the beginning of Scripture to its end we see God’s love for the nations. God raised up Abraham and his descendants to be a blessing to all nations. Centuries later, the apostle Paul remarkably connects the gospel to the blessing of nations: “The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you’” (Gal. 3:8; emphasis added). Now in these last days God has raised up the church to disciple the nations.
Moses also captures the comprehensive maximum of obeying all that Christ commanded: “For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase. . . . I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life” (Deut. 30:16, 19; emphasis added). God’s commands divide truth from falsehood, good from evil, beauty from ugliness. The person or nation who understands and applies them moves toward life. Those who don’t, move toward death. To try to live outside the framework of God’s universe is folly.
 Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; Ps. 72:17; Acts 3:25.