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Does God Promise Health and Wealth?

One of the most unusual legacies of World War II has been what are known as the "Cargo Cults of the South Pacific." Many Aboriginal island people ranging from northern Australia to Indonesia were first exposed to modern civilization through the allied armed forces. These tribal people had absolutely no opportunity to learn the ways of civilization, but for a brief period cargo planes would swoop in from the sky, unload their payload, and then take off.

Many of those tribal people concluded that the white men were gods. When the war was over and the troops were gone, tribesmen built shrines to the "cargo gods." In fact, missionaries that have been sent to these areas receive a warm reception at first because the locals view their arrival as the "Second Coming" of the cargo god. But they are looking for cargo—not the Gospel. And missionaries say they find it very difficult to penetrate the materialism that is the essence of the cargo cults.

In recent years the Christian community has spawned its own variety of cargo cult which is easily as superstitious and materialistic as those of the South Pacific. Its leaders promise each believer financial prosperity and perfect health; anything less, they argue, is not God's will!

Such teachers have corrupted the heart of New Testament Christianity. They have moved the believers' focus off sound doctrine, worship, service, sacrifice, and ministry; and they have shifted it instead to promised physical, financial, and material blessings. Those blessings are the cargo that God is supposed to deliver to those who know and follow their formula. In their religion the believer uses God, whereas, the truth of Biblical Christianity is that God uses the believer!

Today's movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that ravaged the early church. Paul and other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated these ideas in their day. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them.

Paul warned Timothy about "men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness" (1 Timothy 6:5). Even way back then, Paul was dealing with those who thought godliness was a ticket for money. Paul further said to Timothy, "They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness" (1 Timothy 6:9-11).

Know this: these false teachers are driven by a love for money! They develop a religion to accommodate their lusts. Peter wrote, "There shall be false teachers among you, who … with feigned words make merchandise of you" (2 Peter 2:1-3).

You show me a person who preaches the "Money Gospel," and I'll show you a person who has been corrupted by the love of money. Paul said covetousness is idolatry and forbade the Ephesians to be partakers with such people (Ephesians 5:5-7).

Condensed from a message given by John F. MacArthur, Jr.