Billy Graham on the Prosperity Gospel

Q: Does God want all of His children to be financially wealthy?

A: We can find no evidence in the Bible to indicate that God's will is for everyone to be wealthy, or that there is something wrong with Christians who do not have many material possessions. In fact, James clearly warns that we must not treat those who are rich differently than we do those who are poor (James 2:1-9). The Bible does acknowledge that some believers are rich (1 Timothy 6:17). However, those who are rich are admonished to not put their hope in their wealth, but in God, and they are to be generous and willing to share (1 Timothy 6:17-18). In fact, Paul warned against believing "that godliness is a means to financial gain" (1 Timothy 6:5) and went on to say that we should be content with what we have (1 Timothy 6:8). He even warned, "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Timothy 6:9-10).

On the other hand, some have made the opposite mistake of thinking that there is some special merit in being poverty stricken and have taken pride in that. As long as we are seeking our value in what we have or do not have on this earth, we do not understand God's purposes. God can choose to prosper with material wealth, or He can choose not to. Our focus needs to be on Him and His purposes for us—whether we are rich or poor. Since we are His, all that we have is also His, to be used for His purposes. Jesus tells all of us, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:19-21).

P.S. Billy Graham does believe, however, that Christians ought to tithe. 

20 thoughts on “Billy Graham on the Prosperity Gospel

  1. Excellent. This is why Mr. Graham is a respected Evangelist throughout the world. And why he has led more people to Christ than all the prosperous preachers combined. And it is also why those who preach the prosperity doctrine have Senators coming after them and rebellious bloggers mocking them. It's a patently ridiculous belief.

  2. How does he do it? He does not have a $20k toilet, a Rolls Royce, or a large home on the beach in California and he still has an international ministry. Let me ask you this…who do you think takes a higher salary? Billy Graham or Frank Damazio? Anyone know on this one?

  3. [Comment ID #30106 Will Be Quoted Here]The last financial report SPFD allowed to be put out, showed CBC taking in 11 million $$. However, they spent $360,000 more than they took in. About 52% went to salaries and benefits.

    They did not list the number of employees on staff.
    They did not list individual salaries.
    They did not list how much debt the church was in.

  4. I am going to re-post something I just posted on another topic because it fits here too. I believe in prosperity Billy Graham lives a prosperous life.

    my previous post:

    I will not speak to doctrines of specific churches as they do change.

    But I will say for my doctrine on prosperity is:

    I believe many curses that are in the bible’s old testament have been restored fully through the cross. So no I do not believe that Malachi 3:8-12 has to be for the Christian today. As with much of the “law” its now written on our hearts.

    I do give and tithe today but not for what I will get in return but because I believe the church I go to needs the money and should be funded by the congregation. I further believe that my prosperity that I enjoy today is due to my heart of giving to needed causes. We are the light and the salt if we (Christians) do not stand up and help those in need who will?

    So its not a legalistic formula of if you tithe it will come back in 2 weeks or a year. The formula is find compassion in your heart for the lost sick poor orphans and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! That is what God honors. I think too many people in the MFI and even some TV Evangelical Preachers followers think that they can go to work and pay tithe to the church and the church is going to do all the works for them. God calls us to more then that. God calls us to be compassionate all the time. To our neighbors to our work associates and (gasp) even to our families.

    Prosperity and healing and all the other gifts that Jesus preached about all work in the same way. With Grace not works. So if you are a legalistic tither doing it for your own gain (IMHO) not much will be gained. If you spend time and money working for a cause that God has put on your heart no man or spirit will be able to break it.

    Nowhere in the bible does it make the case to be poor. It does say (paraphrased) put all worldly things aside and follow me. It does say that following him will have its hardships. But he (God) says that he will provide and make a way for you.

  5. “I further believe that my prosperity that I enjoy today is due to my heart of giving to needed causes.”

    your heart for giving is spot-on. But we must never “believe” that any prosperity we enjoy (and by prosperity I don’t mean financial wealth) is because of anything we have done. Everything we have is a gift, our lives are not our own. Prosperity is a gift, which we do not deserve. Just like everything else we have in this life. Every Christian should be prosperous to the portion that he is given. Some are given a house and a bed; others are sleeping on the street corner with a single-pair of socks. Each party has the ability to prosper, but it will look completely different in each instance.

  6. By the looks of these last few posts, perhaps there is hope we can return to a godly form of Christianity. Most of us want that. We just need to come out from under so much ungodly leadership the church has suffered in recent years. Peresonally, I made my break a few short years ago. And I do thank God for bringing me out of that corrupt religous portion of my Christian walk.

  7. Wasn’t sure where to post this…

    Just wanted you all to know that there are less than 2 weeks before the rapture. Someone needs to tell Sam/’scrupe lest he be left behind. ;)

    http://www.2007rapture.com/

    (I’m not pre-trib nor do I believe her message, but thought it was unusual enough to pass on.)

  8. Former NBCC Member said: So no I do not believe that Malachi 3:8-12 has to be for the Christian today. As with much of the “law” its now written on our hearts.

    Former, Some of the prosperity preachers seem to make statements like “as with much of the law, it’s now written on our hearts” to imply that the same OT laws are still required of NT believers only they are not written on “tablets of stone” but on the “tablets of the heart.” Is this what you are saying, too? It does not quite seem like this since you add the phrase, “as with much of the law” rather than “as with all of the law.” What mean ye?

  9. Former NBCC Member said: Nowhere in the bible does it make the case to be poor. It does say (paraphrased) put all worldly things aside and follow me. It does say that following him will have its hardships. But he (God) says that he will provide and make a way for you.

    Former, As I understand the Bible, in both OT and NT, it takes for granted that there will always be poor in the land. It is a realistic book. As a whole, I don’t see the Bible glorifying poverty or glorifying riches. But in certain traditions in the Bible, e.g., the book of Deuteronomy and Proverbs, there is more of a glowing and positive attitude toward riches, I believe, because they were both written, at least part of Dt., in times in which material blessings, observable through Israel’s monarchies, were being touted as signs of the blessing of the Lord and used to bring centralization to the temple state. This is why we read in Dt. so many times for the people to make pilgrimages “to the place where the Lord has established his name.”

    This essential social context is never mentioned by the pro-tithers or prosperity preachers. Why? Because they want to take whatever promise of wealth they can find anywhere in the OT and attempt to use it to motivate Christians to give their money to them so that they (the leaders) can get rich.

    As I’ve been studying pro-tithing material for the last 3 years or so in writing my first book against the mandatory tithe, I have read quite a bit of prosperity doctrine, too, because the two go hand in hand. I have to say that, in my view it is a downright shame to the Gospel of Jesus Christ to see how most, if not all, of the prosperity preachers totally ignore the fact that most of the NT warns against the spiritual dangers of riches and spend most of their time milking the verses from Dt. and Proverbs (or overworking the sowing and reaping metaphor that Paul uses only once for implied material blessings) for their own benefit.

    I want to highly recommend to you since you have been very exposed to prosperity teaching that you read at least one good Bible dictionary article on the subject of Wealth in either the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, The New Bible Dictionary or The Anchor Bible Dictionary.

  10. speaking of Deut. what ever happened to the triennial tithe. In which every 3 years the tithe was given to the widows, orphans, poor, etc…

  11. anna said: Wasn’t sure where to post this…Just wanted you all to know that there are less than 2 weeks before the rapture. Someone needs to tell Sam/’scrupe lest he be left behind. http://www.2007rapture.com/

    anna, …her flapping doves were cool! this sounds like another one of those booklets: 88 Reasons Why Jesus is Going to Return in 1988 (author in my files somewhere). Thanks for posting this; end time predictions are one of the things that I have been collecting for many years. I’ll add this to the bag. Thanks.

    As far as posting, it might be more appropro, if you want to, to post your comment on this blog under: David Mackin writes: Do You Believe It is the End Times?

  12. Well, there is Billy and then there is Cindy….Jacobs that is. I just read an article on CNN about her. She thinks I-35 highway through Texas is the road Isaiah was speaking of in chapter 35:8.

    Could I suggest a thorough reading of John 4:21-23?
    What is it about these OT prophet type ministries that makes them think certain places are “God spots”? I wonder what the $$$ angle will be on this?

  13. —-Some of the prosperity preachers seem to make statements like “as with much of the law, it’s now written on our hearts” to imply that the same OT laws are still required of NT believers only they are not written on “tablets of stone” but on the “tablets of the heart.” Is this what you are saying, too? It does not quite seem like this since you add the phrase, “as with much of the law” rather than “as with all of the law.” What mean ye?—-

    Great question I will try to answer. The whole law is written to help us have a compassionate heart. The laws have been written for un-compassionate people who could not figure out right from wrong. Today our communion with the father has been restored by Jesus Christ’s Blood. We have the Holy Spirit in direct communication as it was with Adam. We (Christians) SHOULD be a compassionate people. If you struggle with compassion and good will … well I believe the NT called that fruit.

    Does that answer your question? No, the law is not a legalistic thing to follow. We need to have compassion and love in our hearts all the time. If you have these things you will not steal kill or take advantage. You will give to the poor (hard to help the poor if you are poor and needy sleeping on the streets btw) pray for those who need healing and assist their families, and tell people about the “Good News”!

  14. former NBCC member said: The whole law is written to help us have a compassionate heart.

    former, Very good. I agree with what you’re saying because Paul says that love is the “fulfillment of the law.” I also agree with you that the love of God in our hearts is what will make us generous – even sacrificially giving at times. The point still stands, I think, that God’s purpose is not to make every Christian wealthy even if the end result, i.e., having more to give to the poor, is what is touted to be the motive. I feel that the NT lays more of a burden on the wealthy Christian to give of what is his/her “gift” – wealth – than upon those who have little or none. As Jesus says, “To whom much is given…”. We all have different gifts and our obligation lies in using whatever ones we have for his glory.

    I appreciate what you are sharing. Nevertheless, I feel that you have not addressed some of the more pointed questions I asked in my previous comment, e.g., Why does the NT (the New Covenant in Christ) emphasize much more the dangers of wealth rather than the acquisition of it?

  15. —Why does the NT (the New Covenant in Christ) emphasize much more the dangers of wealth rather than the acquisition of it?—

    Ok, real quick here I don’t have the time now to do this question justice but:

    I believe this is addressing “Old Money”. People that grow up wealthy are going to have much trouble with it. Or even kids who grow up extremely wealthy. We see it all the time in the news today with child stars or Hiltons.

  16. WhatHEsaid said: What is it about these OT prophet type ministries that makes them think certain places are “God spots”? I wonder what the $$$ angle will be on this?

    WhatHEsaid, Great point about John 4:21-23 quashing the antiquated OT purity system idea, carried over in most religions (even Evangelical and Charismatic ones who promote Holy Land tours to “walk where Jesus walked”), of “holy sites” and sacred space.

    Also great question about the money angle! In my view, the money angle is quite obvious when it comes to the preachers on TBN saying something like, which I have heard many times: The Spirit quickened Psalm 78:12 to me for this meeting! He’s telling me that if you sow your financial seed of $78.12 to this ministry every month for this next year, he’s going to abundantly bless you!

    I cannot speak to what may or may not be motivating Cindy Jacobs, but a general comment where the money angle is more subtle: In charismatic circles, “credibility” is many times based on claiming prophetic insights in the mundane life around you; the birds on the wire mean this, the rocks by the creek speak thus, the rainbow…the eclipse…the falling stars…the blood on the moon, etc. Thus, the more prophetic “insights,” the more credibility (in certain circles), the more credibility, the greater the following, and the greater the following, the more invitations to conferences and thus more honorarium income and book sales. (Who speaks at a conference and does not bring their books and CDs to sell?)

    In charismatic circles, since education and degrees are minimized in importance so are intellectual approaches to the Bible, e.g., Hebrew, Greek, cultural background, historical scholarship, etc. Thus, some other phenomenon has to come in to fill the knowledge vacuum. Many times it is: “revelation knowledge!”

    I’ve heard many a TBN preacher use this exact phrase in their preaching. In my view, Christians need a good course in hermeneutics (the art and science of how to interpret the Bible). Pastor/leaders, however, will not be interested in teaching one, for the most part, to their congregations lest God’s people get the tools to question and doubt what they hear on Sunday mornings! So, we are back to pastor/kings protecting their castle-domains again.

    I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I was told that Frank Damazio stopped inviting Cindy Jacobs to conferences at City Bible Church because she was prophesying to too many women in the church about how they were going to be sent “around the world for God.” If true, this could be quite unsettling for a pastor, especially when one promotes the idea that the “legitimate way” to be “sent out” is through the approval of the elders of one’s local church – and maybe asking for their financial support, too?! What a potential nightmare!

  17. ian asked: speaking of Deut. what ever happened to the triennial tithe. In which every 3 years the tithe was given to the widows, orphans, poor, etc…

    ian, very good question! I assume that you are asking an excellent rhetorical question…overall, and as you probably already know, the local churches who believe in tithing have developed their own internal systems of helping the poor; the internals of such would make an interesting study; some church members have lamented to me that their churches denied them help when they needed it the most because their leadership did not find them to be faithful tithers; i guess that means that there is no such thing as a “free lunch” to these type of pro-tithing churches; I think that Jesus – in bringing us the gospel of grace – is the only one who really gives a free lunch (cf. the feeding of the 5,000)! I’d rather follow Jesus.

  18. david said

    some church members have lamented to me that their churches denied them help when they needed it the most because their leadership did not find them to be faithful tithers;

    This reminds me of a friend back in the early 1980s at Bible Temple who faithfully tithed, ponied up for every special offering, ponied up for the $3000 per family request to build the Glisan building, quit a well-paying and stable job to work for the church. Got fired from the church and then had financial problems and in trouble of losing their house…

    Bible Temple’s response to a request for help…. NO, you should have managed your money better…

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