In I Thessalonians 5:19-21 we read: “Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” (NASV)
What we have been doing in this discussion is examining a current teaching that is widely proclaimed in the Christian media today. The general consensus of those teaching the so called “Prosperity Gospel” is that it is always God’s will for His children to be physically healthy and financially prosperous.
A key scripture for this is found in III John 1:2:
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” (KJV)
Initially, it would be easy to see this statement as the apostle John’s basic wish (some translations use “prayer”) for the general welfare of the people for whom this letter was intended. It could even be understood as a general greeting, as we would wish someone “good morning,” or “good day.” Even though, as I wrote previously, that Christ has demonstrated a clear concern for our physical well-being, I think it would be a stretch to insist this is a rock solid promise in Scripture.
The New King James Version tones it down considerably:
“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”
A simple rewording changes “wish above all things,” to “prosper in all things.” The emphasis according to modern scholars has shifted significantly. We know from other scriptures that our personal holiness is more greatly desired by God than our material wealth and even our physical health. God’s view of prospering in all things might actually look quite different from that of some modern people!
Anyone who has read the writings on this site and the printed literature going back 2 decades should realize that we have always encouraged faith in the power and love of our Generous God and Savior. We believe that too often the people of God have lived beneath their priviledges as sons and daughters of God. We stand with those praying and believing for deliverance from all manner of bondages. We have personally witnessed and experienced salvation not only from sin, but also from bad habits and addictions, poverty, depression, and incurable diseases — all by the power of God!
At the same time, we stand with John here when he follows his wish for their health and prosperity:
” For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (III John 3:3-4 NKJV)
This is our greatest joy as well!