I posted an expert on facebook from Vincent Cheung’s book, “Godliness with Contentment,” (pg.13) about prosperity and the atonement.
…However, we must make a crucial distinction. The Bible never opposes wealth itself, and it never opposes legitimate practices and occupations that produce wealth. As Proverbs 10:4 says, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” In fact, God is one who gives his people “power to get wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:18, ESV). Paul writes that Christ suffered poverty so that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9), and that God would supply our needs according to his glorious riches by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
Therefore, we denounce those who, in the process of refuting the so-called “prosperity gospel,” blaspheme the word of God by their unbelief and tradition. Their rejection of God’s promises is arguably more sinful and destructive than the love of money, because it entails a direct denial of Christ’s atonement – the context of 2 Corinthians 8:9 is financial wealth, not spiritual wealth, just as Matthew 8:17 refers to physical healing, not spiritual healing. The atonement must include health and wealth, or we would remain sick and poor even in heaven. To deny this is to renounce Christ and the Christian faith.
Although the Bible says, “Forget not all his benefits” – that he both forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases (Psalm 103:2-3), faithless theologians and preachers make it a matter of orthodoxy to reject some of his benefits. They preach a different gospel. They refuse his benefits, and refuse to allow others to reach for them. They persecute those who teach God’s people to have faith in his promises, and to depend on him for health and wealth. They spread unbelief and heresy, thinking that they are doing God a favor, but they have become the servants of demons…
I feel confident to say that Vincent teaches that both wealth and health are part of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and that these benefits, like forgiveness of sins, are available to faith.
A person responded with a critique about this saying, (we will call him Billy)
“This is nonsense. What he says denies Jesus’ words in John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” It demeans the poor woman whom Jesus praised because she gave all she had – which was a tiny gift. It mocks the suffering of the saints (read Hebrews 11, just for one). The only truth I see in it is that God teaches to work, & that in general that brings prosperity to his people. Paul suffered serious health problems, & God denied him healing. We are indeed to depend on God for health & wealth – as Paul did. But that does not mean God will always give it to us – Paul was neither fully healthy nor wealthy. I would not put much confidence to someone who steps so far aside from the full biblical teaching.”
First, I want to say that I do not represent Vincent, nor am I affiliated with him. I do not know how he would respond to this, and if you wish to know, ask him. However, this example is a good one for me to go over how people who go against the Scripture, will often try to defeat you by an onslaught of non-relevant points and arguments. Do not be intimidated; rather, take the knife they tried to stab God’s Word with, and turn it against them, along with your own sword. Here is a maximum that is like Wing Chung. If you see them move toward you, with the same arm you use to defend, attack their central point. Make them defend it. If you sense weakness and they begin to move back, then you still attack their center point. It is right that they defend against the unmovable Word of God that they have conspired against to attack.
I want to give two thoughts about this as we go through it. One is about logic in general. Logically speaking, at every point I am saying to myself, “what does this, logically have to do with that”? They seem to be points of non-relevance, over and over. The second is specific point about ad hominin attacks, which is again a point of non-relevance.
The first point brought up is John 16:33. Jesus said you will have trouble, but to take courage, because He already defeated the world. My first thought is what does this verse logically have to do with refuting the point that prosperity and healing are in the atonement and are accessed by faith? Part of the issue here is defining what Jesus meant by “trouble” and by “I have defeated it.” There are to main categories Jesus dealt with in the gospel of John, and in the immediate context. One is everyday troubles, such as sickness, poverty, demon harassment and (etc.). The other trouble was from persecution for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I will not be dealing with persecution trouble since this is not what Vincent addressed. But needless to say, even in persecution we are not without our weapons. Look at how Paul faced persecution and kept winning against the power of darkness. But that is for another discussion.
If John 16:33 only is referring to “persecution” trouble and Vincent was dealing with the category of everyday troubles, then this verse has no logical connection. If it deals with both, and Jesus “defeating” this only refers to us experiencing this victory in heaven, then this verse again has “no necessary connection” to everyday troubles.
If troubles refers to both(everyday and persecution) and Jesus’ victory has results that effect the present everyday troubles and heaven, then we start to see some logical connections in the right categories.
As for everyday troubles and Jesus’ victory having effects now, the context of John will give us clarity. Jesus says in the SAME chapter (John 16),
I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. “You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. .. you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God.”
Before this passage, Jesus tells the disciples, they will face persecution. And so, we now have two categories. One is persecution. The other is asking for anything, and then receive this anything so that, not God, but “you” will have abundant “joy.” This asking and receive anything, is in the broad category about everything and having joy from it. Thus, everyday troubles is included in this receiving and experiencing joy, if not the main point.
However, John 16 is in an unbroken dialog of Jesus talking to the disciples starting in John 14. Jesus says more on this topic. For example in John 14 it says, “Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in me, the works that I am doing he will do also, and he will do greater works than these because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do this, in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it,” (John 14:12-13). Vincent makes a critical observation about what Jesus means by “works” in this passage,
… He made a distinction between his words and his works. If you do not believe because of this thing, then believe because of the other thing. So by his works, he did not mean his words, or his ministry of preaching, but his ministry of miracles. Later in the discourse, Jesus said, “If I had not come and spoken to them…” (15:22), referring to his sermons, and then he said, “If I had not done among them what no one else did…” (15:24), referring to his miracles. He again made a distinction between his ministry of preaching and his ministry of miracles. It is not a matter of emphasis, but in this context, his “works” refer only to his miracles, and exclude his ministry in doctrine and charity.
And so, Jesus command to pray and get anything is particularly referring to His types of miracles. What was one type of miracle Jesus did a large number of? Healing? Sickness and defective bodies and constant pain and suffering is indeed a “trouble.” In Acts 10 Peter says Jesus did good and “healed all” who were oppressed by the devil. The devil is described as troubling the people with oppression of sickness and defective bodies. The devil was a strong man, but Jesus was a much stronger man. The devil pushed but Jesus pushed harder. Jesus’ “works” defeated and overcame these persecutions of the devil. “You will face trouble, but take courage, for I have defeated the world.” The world is under the sway of the devil. Jesus says in John 16 that the “ruler of this world” is judged and defeated by Him.
What about money? Jesus needed some money to pay the price of the temple tax. Jesus told Peter to cast into the sea and he will find a fish with some money in it. “But so that we do not give offense to them, go out to the sea, cast a line with a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. And when you open its mouth, you will find a four-drachma coin. Take that and give it to them for me and you,” (Matt. 27:17 LEB). We are still in the “works” that Jesus did and to which are commanded to do in faith; we are still in the category of how Jesus’ works overcome troubles in everyday life. Jesus used a miracle/work to gain money to pay for a tax. Jesus used a miracle to gain money He and Peter did not work for to pay for tax.
Thus, to use John 16:33 against the use of faith to gain healing and money on the basis of the atonement is Plus Ultra stupid, and battles against Jesus’ direct command to be a disciple.
Billy, then says,
“It demeans the poor woman whom Jesus praised because she gave all she had – which was a tiny gift.”
The idea of category fallacies (which is a fallacy of non-relevance) has already been addressed, but it raises its ugly head again. Thus, what does this have to do with any necessary connection to that? Jesus is praising the woman’s faithfulness to give, even in her poverty. That is all that one might categorically say about this. Jesus said if you seek His Kingdom first, that He will give you monetarily (clothes and house) what the pagans seek after. Who knows, maybe right after this God blessed her with an abundance for seeking His kingdom? Maybe on this one issue the lady lacked faith to receive like she ought? Whatever the reason or whatever happened, we do not know! If the lady lacked faith to receive more money, then Billy’s critique amounts to an ad hominin attack against this precious lady.
Many Christians watch more politics than reading the Scripture and so they are more prone to make ad hominin fallacies(as one sees in the media) than valid deductions from Scripture. Just because person x failed to realize a promise, it is on them, it has no logical connection to God being faithful to do what He said. In fact, Paul in Romans 9 is defending such a point. Jesus in John 6, referring to why they do not believe, is defending this point by saying, the Father has not drawn them. The promise is not affected by millions of personal failures to realize the promise. Just because I failed to realize the promise that God has promised a way of escape from every temptation, it is on me; it has no logical connection to God being faithful to keep His promise. When the disciples could not cast out the demon, because of their little perverted faith, it had no logical connection to God being faithful to keep His promise about faith. Jesus turned around and cast the demon out, doing God’s will, and displaying the absolute certainty of God keeping His promise.
Billy then says,
“It mocks the suffering of the saints (read Hebrews 11, just for one).”
Again, how does Hebrews 11 have a logical connection with refuting the doctrine that healing and prosperity is in the atonement and acquired by faith? What necessary connection do birds have to do with refuting that 2+2=4 ?
Hebrews 11 mentions how person after person acquired healings, lands, wealth, children, great power, military victories and etc. What logical connection is there that refutes what Vincent said? Abraham received great wealth by being blessed by God, to make him a nation. How does that refute wealth by faith, when these examples give wealth by faith? Isaac received 100 fold in a time of trouble. Sure, he planted, but the 100 fold was not natural. It was supernatural. Joseph? Did he naturally earn his wealth as the second most powerful man in the greatest kingdom on earth? Did not God, give supernatural and overly abundant favor to him because of his faith? The woman with Elijah, she did work in the most lose term of working, by actually getting jars and pouring out the supernaturally reproducing oil; however, the whole point of this story is that God gave her wealth supernaturally, apart from her working for it, and on the basis of her faith. When Peter did the first cast, to pull out the piece of money from the fish’s mouth, was it work or recreation? How does receiving money supernaturally by faith refute receiving money by faith?
The last few examples of Hebrews 11 is in the category of persecution for the sake of the gospel. As said before, this is a separate category from everyday troubles. The promises of health and wealth and of victories and helps, largely are about these everyday troubles. Thus, these examples of persecution cannot be used as a necessary connection to refute healing on demand by faith, on the basis of the atonement.
If we mention Hebrews 11, why not also mention Hebrews 4, 8 and 10? Does not the preacher in Hebrews 10, after talking about the eternal priesthood of Jesus and the new covenant(contract), conclude with, “boldly approach the throne of grace.” Hebrews 4 shows us that going to God’s throne is not first about us giving God worship by giving Him something, but us going to Him and worshiping Him by receiving help from Him! We do not give to God, He gives to us. Think about that. The preacher makes the first application of Jesus and new covenant, as us going to God to “receive” unmerited favor for ourselves.
Billy then says,
“Paul suffered serious health problems, & God denied him healing. We are indeed to depend on God for health & wealth – as Paul did. But that does not mean God will always give it to us – Paul was neither fully healthy nor wealthy.”
The second thought I wish to address is Billy’s ad hominem attack, as odd as it seems, against the apostle Paul.
Why would I care, what Paul, personally accomplished in healing? I do not care, because it has no necessary connection to a promise that God has given. Paul was not perfect, and so he still sinned. The promise is that God has provided a way of escape from every temptation. Thus, does Paul’s failure to live perfectly have a necessary connection to refuting the promise? Who is at fault? Who is accountable for this? Who is responsible for this? God? Or Paul?
I do not understand why I need to say this! A person’s failure has no logical connection to God’s truth and promises. This is the same for biblical persons! People in the bible are not exempt from this.
Many so-called Christian are so dominated by media and politics, which use an unending use of ad hominem attacks, think more like the world than Scripture. Politics use ad hominem attacks constantly, and they are stupid for doing so. You should NEVER base your argument on a logical fallacy. So what if Hitler enjoyed and used math, it does not give a necessary connection that math is evil. So what, if Satan uses words to speak, there is no necessary connection that words are bad. I do not care if Peter had a failure and for a time went back to the law, there is no logical connection that the gospel is void, and no logical connection that law saves. Peter’s failure gives no necessary connection that God failed the promise to sanctify us. The failure is on the persons. God promises still stands for those with faith.
Bypassing the issue that there is NO passage in the bible that revealed Paul with a sickness, we will deal with the ad hominem issue, and assume Paul had a sickness, for sake of argument. It is telling that so-called Christians are comfortable with attacking Apostles with ad hominem assaults, to refute doctrines. Do you have no fear of God at all? Even if Paul was sick, so what? To attack him personally, is a logical fallacy. To attack him personally equates, you are NOT logically attacking Scripture’s argument of the promise. You have in essence strawman-ed the Scripture and God’s promises. All you have done is made your argument and yourself pointless. For a clarification about the “thorn in the flesh,” see Vincent Cheung, “A Thorn in the Flesh.”
One common issue with this I find is that some try to extract an ethic from God’s sovereign causality. Why would I care, if God sovereignly caused the disciples not to have enough faith to heal the boy? How does their personal failure have any necessary connection to me today? One category is ontology the other is ethics. God’s promise still stands. The lack of faith is their accountability and responsibility; God’s promise to heal by faith takes no collateral damage due to personal failures in this. You do not get ethics from ontology. Seriously, how stupid and wicked can you be? You get ethics from God’s command and promise, not from what God caused, or what you think God is causing. Do you really enjoy demonic divination so much that you force it upon God’s word?
Stop using God’s Word like Ouija board, you spiritual perverts.
The real horror is that such an attack is ultimately a personal attack against God. What their attack infers is that God’s character is the type of character that will give His beloved sons cancers and poverty, as part of His Divine Nature to do so! It also means an attack on God’s faithfulness in that God will give out cancers and poverty to His elect, even if they ask in faith to have it removed. God’s Word ascribe such things as the devils hate to mankind (Acts 10:38), and as God’s curse upon those He hates (Deut 28). This is not God’s thought to the elect, and it is not his promise to them. His thought is a “policy of thought and action” of favor to them, and His promised action is one of salvation, healing, helping and uplifting for all those who call His Name in faith.