One of our trainees in Liberia, Dickson, began the TLI program in August quite defensive of prosperity teaching. Because we knew in advance that this issue is prominent in Liberia, each day of the program one of our TLI teachers delivered a chapel message countering the prosperity gospel. We tried to show the errors of interpretation that support the "prosperity gospel" and offered instead the greater glory and goodness of Jesus in the biblical gospel.
Prosperity teachers proclaim a distorted view of Scripture. Within this framework, people believe that God's material blessing is a sign of whether or not he is pleased with someone—that a person's faith or piety reliably unlocks God's material blessings in this life. In practice, this reduces faith and pious living to means by which we can get the things we want.
The prosperity gospel has great appeal in Liberia and throughout Africa, partly due to the widespread poverty there. Many give away what little money they have expecting to gain great riches and wealth in return. But too often, they do not suddenly receive the healing or financial blessing they were promised. Though many Christians have been burned time and again, these false teachings continue to spread widely because they seem, on the surface, to have Scriptural support.
This is why it is so important for church leaders and Christians to understand the whole story of the Bible. The prosperity gospel and health-and-wealth teaching only work when you take verses out of their original context. By learning how the Bible fits together, and by learning how to read each passage in its proper context, our trainees are being equipped to identify the prosperity gospel for what it is: false teaching!
“By learning how the Bible fits together, and by learning how to read each passage in its proper context, our trainees are being equipped to identify the prosperity gospel for what it is: false teaching!”
Initially, Dickson was not receptive to biblical correction. On the outside, he appeared staunchly resistant. But the Holy Spirit was working in his heart. Dickson softened throughout the week of training in August, and by the time our team saw him again in December, God had completely transformed his attitude. He thanked each of the trainers for teaching the Word of God with clarity. He informed the team that he has now rejected the prosperity gospel altogether because he sees for himself that it distorts the true gospel.
Many trainees in Liberia, like Dickson, are recognizing the error of prosperity teaching! We praise God that his Word and his Holy Spirit change hearts and cause his people to rejoice in the truth. Would you pray with us that people throughout Liberia and West Africa would reject the empty promises of the prosperity gospel and instead find hope in knowing Christ, even in suffering or poverty?