Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What The Early Church Can Teach Us About Prosperity Preachers

There is not a vacuum between the close of Scripture and today's church. Many issues we face today actually are not new. There has always been preachers who desired to make a profit off the treasury of the Church which is The Good News of Jesus Christ. Paul, himself, dealt with this issue warning Timothy about those who desire to be rich teaching those things contrary to God's Word. (1 Tim. 6:3-10)

An early church document called The Didache gives instructions on what to expect from traveling preachers and their motivations:

   Whoever, therefore, who comes and teaches you all these things mentioned, receive him. But if the one teaching changes what has been taught to another teaching in order to destroy these things, do not listen to him. However, if his motive is to add righteousness and knowledge of the Lord, receive him as you would the Lord.
      Now concerning the apostles and prophets, act according to the requirements of the Gospel. Every apostle coming to you, welcome as you would the Lord.
And he should not remain more than one day, and if he has a need also another. But if he remains three days, he is a false prophet.
      And when the apostle goes forth, he should take nothing except a loaf of bread, until he arrives at his nights lodging. If he asks for money he is a false prophet. Also, you should not test or judge and prophet speaking in the Spirit, for every sin will be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven.
      But not everyone speaking in the Spirit is a prophet, but only if he should have a lifestyle of the Lord's character. Therefore, by his lifestyle you will know a false prophet from a true prophet. And any prophet ordering a meal in the Spirit should not eat of it; otherwise he is a false prophet.
      And every prophet who teaches the truth but does not do what he teaches is a false prophet. But every prophet who stands the test and is genuine, even if he uses symbolic imagery in the church, so long as he does not teach others to do the same, should not be judged. His judgment comes from God, for so did the prophets of old.
      But whoever should say in the Spirit, "Give me money or something else,"do not listen to them

This is sound advice for us today!

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Mt. 7:15-20)

The complete text of the Didache can be found here.