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The Great Awakening, Prosperity Gospel Revivals & Families Walking with God

 September 2010 

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In our opinion it is impossible for families to walk closely with God if they take on "Prosperity Gospel" revival teachings. We believe that children need to learn from a young age that following Jesus does not guarantee a life of heaven on earth, but rather a life of many trials, and joy in God as the New Testament clearly teaches.

Many church leaders & scholars believe the "Great Awakening" caused one of the greatest Christian advances in Church history, whereas the modern prosperity revivals are contributing to the decline of Christianity throughout much of the world.

The Great Awakening began around 1725 with God using men like John Wesley, George Whitfield, David Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards. These men and many other men and women found God in a profound way.

They were deeply aware of their own sinfulness. Despite many trials each one came to a deep faith in Christ who had forgiven them and had given them great hope for the future. They went out empowered by the Holy Spirit preaching a Gospel of grace, forgiveness and hope in Christ for a great future.

Their preaching eventually changed many nations throughout the world. When people found Christ whole cities, towns and villages were transformed. Prisons were emptied out and pubs (drinking houses) were closed. Marriages and family life were transformed. Violence became almost non-existent.

Nearly 80 years later as a direct result of the "Great Awakening", the modern missionary movement began with William Carey and ones like Hudson Taylor, C.T. Studd, Adoniram Judson, & David Livingstone who took the Gospel to the remotest parts of the earth. The 19th century has often been referred to as the century of great missionary expansion.

What about the modern "Prosperity Gospel Revivals"? I used to believe that the prosperity Gospel was mainly confined to the Western World. Recently, however, I have been made aware that this false teaching is rampant throughout the world and particularly in African countries where the majority of people live in abject poverty.

Pastors are fleecing their flocks. With the promise of health, wealth and general success many Christians in Africa are being taken in by this teaching.

Many very sad things are happening, as this teaching is causing great harm to the church. One popular church in Ghana refused to be responsible for the funeral service of one of its members. They refused because this man had passed away before the "Biblically mandated" age of 70 years promised in the Psalms.

It was the type of death that concerned this church. The man died during an armed robbery, and in superstitious African traditions those who die such violent deaths are not classified and honoured as ancestors.

By refusing to take this man's funeral the church in effect was taking the same stance as many of the traditional religions. In such religions violent deaths are often associated with a breach of taboos and curses resulting from evil deeds committed by the deceased or his ancestors.

But this attitude is not just found in African countries. In many countries if Christians get sick and die or are killed it is often said to be because they have sinned, have a lack of faith or have an evil spirit.

Around 180 A.D. Tertullian, a great apologist of the early church, said this statement "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." The early church grew incredibly fast because the Christians were prepared to lay down their lives for Christ. When violent things happened to them it was not because of some sin, or lack of faith, an evil spirit or a taboo they had broken.

I think that all Christians should read the biographies of ones like David Brainerd who was part of the Great Awakening. The biography of David Brainerd had a huge impact on our son, Matthew, as he read it when he was aged 15.

Brainerd died from tuberculosis at 29 years of age. He had a deep passion to preach the Gospel. Because of his attitude of being prepared to suffer for Christ, thousands of American Indians turned to Christ. They were deeply moved that he was prepared to suffer greatly to bring the Gospel to them. You can read or listen to his story by John Piper on the following link: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/biographies/oh-that-i-may-never-loiter-on-my-heavenly-journey

The journal of David Brainerd was compiled and edited after his death by Jonathan Edwards who added his own commentary. Brainerd died in 1747. The story of his love for Christ greatly enhanced the Great Awakening because of his influence on ones like Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley. Wesley said that the biography of his life should be read by all preachers.

Many missionaries have emphasized the powerful influence of Brainerd's biography on their lives, including ones such as William Carey, Henry Martin, Adoniram Judson, Jim Elliot, Robert McCheyne and many hundreds more who surrendered their lives to God for missionary work.

The rapid spread of Christianity in the past 2000 years has always been associated with pain and suffering and not health, wealth and prosperity. Maybe Arnold Toynbee was correct when he said that he believed our world could be entering a period similar to the "Dark Ages" unless there was a great Christian revival. The "Prosperity Gospel Revivals" are not what he was talking about. Click here to read of him in our July Newsletter)

We as a family find the "Prosperity Gospel" very obnoxious. In our opinion it is causing great harm to families around the world. We have had friends who have been greatly disillusioned through not receiving the healing that they believed God had promised them. Others have made foolish investments and have lost almost everything because of the wealth they believed God had promised them if they trusted in Him.

Each day as a family we try to make Jesus our greatest joy. We do this by trying to follow Him closely by being His disciples. We try to live disciplined lives by going to bed early, rising early to spend time with Him having our Quiet Times, memorising Scripture and listening to His voice. We then share together over the good things of the Lord.

The vast majority of the leaders in the Great Awakening and the thousands of missionaries that followed appear to have lived exemplary lives. With the modern "prosperity Gospel revivals" there appears to be a breakdown of discipline and morals. Some of the top leaders' marriages have broken up because of adultery. Other leaders have been imprisoned through such things as tax evasion.

As over 50% of male Christians and 20% of female Christians in many countries are addicted to internet pornography, it appears to us that these "health, wealth & prosperity" preachers are doing little or nothing to address this tragic situation.

We strongly suspect that there is a lack of discipline in the lives of many Christians who embrace "Prosperity Gospel" teaching. It appears to us that such Christians want to be "zapped" as it were, rather than living close to Jesus as His disciples.

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