One of the negative stereotypes some people have of charismatics is the “prosperity gospel.” You know, “blab and grab it” or “sow a seed to feed your greed.”
I think that’s unfair, but there have been extremes. However, while it may not be that the gospel is about prosperity, prosperity is part of the gospel.
That’s the message I heard at Georgian Banov’s Supernatural Life conference last month from a winsome young pastor named Jim Baker from Columbus, Ohio. Yes, his name is Jim Baker (one k, not two). Jim Bakker (with two k’s), the founder of the PTL Network and Morningside, admits today he may have preached an extreme version of prosperity at one time. He now has a more balanced approach, as I hope I do.
My story is I started with nothing and had to believe God to take a tiny magazine and supernaturally grow it to what Charisma Media is today. I’ve had to learn about sowing and reaping. And I’ve had to believe God. But my focus is to be able to do what God has called me to do and to be able to help others. By God’s grace, He’s given me the resources to do it, and my wife and I are generous personally and through the ministry of Christian Life Missions, Charisma’s nonprofit partner.
So when I heard Baker’s definition of prosperity: Prosperity is “having more than enough resources to fulfill every divine assignment God has for you, and enough left over to help others fulfill theirs,” I was intrigued.
I was also fascinated to hear his story of how he felt led to go intensely after healing and felt the Lord say to go just as strongly after biblical prosperity.
The results are impressive. Not only did God bring his church a season of healings and miracles in the natural realm, but in the financial one as well.
During a 12-month period of teaching on finances, as many as 25% of his people got completely out of debt—many of them even paying off their homes. His church was also given a five-bedroom house, which they used for survivors of sex trafficking and a 40,000 square-foot building on 32 acres. Over the next few years, the church also gave away more than $700,000.
So after learning of all this, I invited Baker to be on my Strang Report podcast where he elaborates on what God has taught him.
“You and I both know if the enemy can keep you sick and poor, he’s going to severely limit your destiny, so of course he’s going to go after the poverty and sickness gospel,” Baker says. “That’s not what Jesus died for.”
Then Baker adds something even more astounding.
“I don’t believe there actually is a prosperity gospel, but I believe the gospel of the kingdom includes prosperity,” he says. “Really, it’s about a heart of love. It’s about partnering with God to bless this planet. … the inside of a hose gets wet. God can get money through you; He’ll get money to you too.” And, he adds, there will be plenty left over for you.
“No, I’m not saying every Christian is going to be a zillionaire,” Baker says. “But we’re talking about having a provision for your vision; we’re talking about funding your life vision in making the greatest impact. And so that’s what we’re going after. And that’s what we believe we see in the Bible.”
For those who complain that they hate the “health and wealth” gospel, Baker has some good news: Jesus didn’t die and rise from the dead for the “sickness and poverty” gospel. He points to Proverbs 11:10, which says, “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices.
“The atmosphere of heaven is released into a city when God’s people thrive,” he writes in an article titled “Wealth With God.” “More money equals more impact.”
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