Have you ever channel surfed on your television and come across one of these name-it and claim-it or Prosperity Gospel preachers. As you sat there and watched the program for a few minutes you could not but wonder why anyone would watch this nonsense, let alone take these guys seriously. Granted, some are worse than others. At one end of the spectrum you have some who are best described as religious motivational speakers. These guys build you up and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. They explain that God made you to be healthy and wealthy as long as you have the right kind of faith. On the other end of the spectrum you have the plant a seed type pastors. These are the outright charlatans who explain that by planting a seed of faith (cash donation), you will receive miraculous blessings of material wealth. They will sweeten the sales pitch with so called true stories of people mysteriously receiving checks, cash, houses, etc. from unexpected sources after sending in their cash donation. My favorite story is of the guy who walked out into his front yard a week after sending in his seed money, and there sitting in his driveway was a brand-new car. Absolutely miraculous and untrue! But desperate people are easy prey for these swindlers. These preachers also emphasize that the greater the seed the greater the blessing.
It is quite apparent to any rational person that these guys are outright frauds and/or false teachers. So why in heavens name are they so popular. They operate mega-churches, filled to capacity at each different service. They are rich beyond belief. There are several of these mega-rich pastors who own their own private jets, extravagant mansions, and fleets of luxury cars. They receive so much in donations that they have a whole ministry devoted to finance (money counters), who by the way are unpaid volunteers.
The main reason people flock to these workers of iniquity is the same reason they crowd to get rich seminars and speakers. They are motivated by selfish desires connected to greed. They are not seeking God for purposes of establishing a relationship but are seeking god to live the good life now, with health, wealth, and comfort. (Not all of them are of this mentality and this is only a generalization of the situation). This is not a new phenomenon; it has plagued the church since its beginnings. The Apostle Paul wrote about it in the book of 2nd Timothy.
As in the Old Testament times when the Israelites abandoned God to pursue idols, people are now pursuing another god who will fulfill the desires of their selfish hearts. Remember Luke 12:34, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” It is this faithless generation that seeks a different type of idolatry, they pursue false teachers who preach a gospel of self-indulgence and material desires. This false gospel corresponds to their selfish needs which they embrace while rejecting the true Gospel of Christ with its commands and restrictions. The Gospel of Christ requires a person to “deny himself and take up his cross,” if they are to follow Christ. Jesus declared this to His own disciples in Mt. 16:24. True discipleship brings persecution and suffering, not a life of pleasure and wealth. If this was so then His disciples would have been showered with riches and lived lavish abundant lives just as the prosperity gospel preachers do. But just the opposite occurred. All the apostles were murdered because of their association with Christ. Only John lived to an old age and died a natural death. However, he lived a life of hardship, imprisoned on the island of Patmos for much of his life. A fact that is conveniently overlooked by the prosperity preachers.
Other reasons for the popularity of these preachers include the lack of biblical discernment among their followers and some of them are actual victims of deception. The victims of these imposters may find themselves in difficult circumstances and out of desperation they fall prey to the false teachings. One can only pray that through this experience they are led to the true gospel. As for those who remain with these false prophets, well they are receiving what they truly desire, but the doors of faithful Christ following churches are always open if they should discover the truth written in the pages of their bibles.