12 Bible Verses that Demolish the Osteens’ Prosperity Gospel

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It's actually the anti-Gospel.

Faith Church.com, Flickr / Public Domain / ChurchPOP

You’ve probably seen the video already, but here it is just in case:

At a recent service at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas – the largest congregation in the country with 43,000 weekly worshippers – Victoria Osteen said this:

“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”

To many people, this just sounds like “prosperity gospel,” an old Christian heresy that God will give true Christians material comforts.

In case there was any doubt that the Osteens preach a version of the prosperity gospel, on their church’s website there’s a short devotion about “prosperity” which explains their position:

Prosperity isn’t just about money. It’s about having health and peace in your mind. It’s being able to sleep at night and having good relationships. There are many things that money cannot buy that represent prosperity, but having monetary provision is also a part of prosperity. You’ll never find one place in the Scripture where we are supposed to drag around not having enough, not able to afford what we want, and living off the leftovers of others. […] We should be so blessed, so prosperous, so generous, so full of joy that other people want what we have. You don’t prove God is good when you live a defeated life.

But is this really what the Bible teaches?

No! Not even close.

Here are 12 Bible verses that demolish this sort of nonsense – and show what it really means to follow Jesus:

1) Luke 6.20-26

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

2) Luke 9.23-24

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

3) Luke 1.52-53

[God] has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.

adriatikus / Wikimedia Commons
adriatikus / Wikimedia Commons

4) James 1.9-11

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

5) Mark 10.25

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

6) Matthew 6.19-21

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

7) Romans 8.17

[We are] heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

8) Romans 5.3-5

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

9) 2 Corinthians 11.24-29

[St. Paul describing his hardships as an Apostle:] Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

10) Acts 5.41

Then [the Apostles] left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

11) Philippians 2.5-8

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

12) And, of course, Mark 15.24

And they crucified him…

Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons