Patrick Henry said, “I have now disposed of all my property to my family. There is one thing more I wish I could give them and that is faith in Jesus Christ. If they had that and I had not given them a single shilling, they would have been rich; and if they had not that, and I had given them all the world, they would be poor indeed.” Patrick Henry, one of the founding fathers of our nation, understood true wealth.
The problem with the prosperity gospel is that it promises temporal materialistic prosperity instead of pointing to the eternal riches found in Christ. But what kinds of riches are promised in Christ? To answer this question will literally take eternity. The Apostle Paul writes that God has saved us, “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” God’s “riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us,”(Eph.1:7-8) will take eternity to unveil. However, I will attempt to give a couple of specific examples.
God’s riches found in Christ include the wealth of relationships. If a man has material wealth, but no family and friends, he is very poor indeed. We all know that relationships are essential to life. However, the most important relationship one could have is with God. The Scripture tells us that we were once God’s enemies, but because of Christ’s atoning death, those who believe God are His friends and have access to Him (Rom. 5:10; Heb. 4:16). An eternal relationship and friendship with God is the greatest wealth that anyone could possibly desire.
The riches of God’s grace can also be seen in the reconciliation of humanity with each other. Salvation through Christ means that God brings people (every nation, tribe, and tongue) into one family. Paul writes, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (Eph. 2:19) Sin destroys relationships, but the wealth of God’s grace restores them.
If we, who trust in Christ, are members of God’s household, it means that we stand to gain an inheritance. Paul writes in Ephesians 1:13-14, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” First Peter 1:4 says that we are saved, “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” Paul writes that if we are “children [of God], then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” (Rom. 8:17) Because of salvation in Christ, the Bible says that we will inherit all things, forever. Now that’s true wealth.
I conclude with the words of theologian Albert Mohler, who recently said, “The problem with prosperity theology is not that it promises too much, but that it promises so little—and promises that so falsely.”
Billy Elkins is the pastor of Trinity Church of Chickasha, OK. He is a graduate of Chickasha High School, has a B.A. in Fine Art from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, and a Master of Divinity with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, FT. Worth, TX. He is currently in the final dissertation phase of a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Philosophy from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.