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Prosperity gospel not of God - church leader

Published:Saturday | January 16, 2016 | 1:02 PMCecelia Campbell-Livingston

"No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age." Mark 10:29-30.

rosperity preachers - a term used to describe the religious belief among some Christians that financial blessing is the will of God for them - are the current trend.

Most of these preachers have best-selling books on the good life with the promise that the more Christians give, the more blessed they will be.

Seed faith offering is a part of their ministry as they urge believers to take their faith to the next level.

The sad thing about it is that while most of these preachers flourish in their lifestyles - expensive cars, mansions, and some even have expensive jets - their flock is yet to enjoy that kind of luxury.

Some Christians in Jamaica are lured by the good life promised by the top international preachers and have gone to the extent of ignoring the needs in their own local churches to 'sew into the ministry' of these preachers.

It is the norm to go to some crusades with the preacher urging the congregation to sew some vast amounts of money with the promise that their giving will be multiplied.

Many have been disillusioned as they give but continue to sink even deeper into debt.

EXTRAVAGANT LIFESTYLES

Ironically, while they give from their lack hoping for a turnaround, these preachers enjoy a life of extravagance with no record of them giving back to struggling folks, just more and more request for money to add to their already fat bank accounts.

Why then would Christians keep feeding these ministries their hard-earned money?

This question was posed to the Reverend Frederica Berbick of the Touching Your World Ministries in Queens, New York, who stressed emphatically that prosperity gospel is not of God.

"The gospel is Jesus ... and Him crucified (Rom 1:16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation," she quoted.

She reminds that a Christian's blessing depends on doing the will of God.

Associate Pastor at Movement and Faith Restoration International Jayson Downer believes that one of the saddest things to happen to Christians is the prosperity gospel.

"When preachers/teachers take one verse of scripture and conveniently quotes it to support their view, it shows where their hearts and motives are and in this context, it's vanity," he pointed out.

For Downer, nothing is wrong with having dreams and aspirations and wanting to acquire assets. "However, to link it as the only sign of God's blessing on your life is a serious error. Just imagine a babe in Christ believing wholeheartedly that riches and abundance is the only sign of being blessed, can you imagine the reality check such a believer will encounter especially if Gods plan for him is to live the simplest of life?"

According to Downer, preachers need to advocate for contentment.

Berbick shared that although some pastors are enjoying the good life, she doesn't think a member should watch them.

"If one thinks they are not following the leading of the Lord, we should pray for them that the Lord will open up their spiritual eyes so that they can see themselves," she said.

Berbick cautioned that members should be on the look out to ensure they are following the right leader.

"By their fruit you shall known them. If their actions contradict the office of a pastor, their fruit is not lining up with the word of God," she said.

For her, pastors must have a shepherd's heart. "The good shepherd is concerned about the sheep more than anything else. However, if the pastor is blessed materially as long as he honours the office of a pastor, that's great."

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