I saw an article a few weeks ago reporting that televangelist Benny Hinn had renounced the “prosperity gospel” he had been preaching for years.
Hinn declared, “I think it’s an offense to the Lord to say give $1,000. I think it’s an offense to the Holy Spirit to place a price on the Gospel. I’m done with it. I will never again ask you to give $1,000 because I think the Holy Ghost is just fed up with it. I think that hurts the Gospel.”
I’m glad to see Hinn correct his theology. Jesus Christ cannot be bought. The Holy Spirit cannot be paid for. And the Gospel cannot be sold. Indeed, in Acts 8 we see Peter harshly rebuke Simon the Sorcerer who tried to buy the power of healing.
This doesn’t mean that either health or wealth is inherently bad, of course. They’re not.
What it does mean is that we should view our wealth through the lens of the Gospel, not the Gospel through the lens of our wealth.
In addition, it’s good to be reminded that suffering isn’t always something to avoid but sometimes something to embrace. Nobody likes to suffer, but God often uses it to refine us.
Suffering is part of every life. As you know, many of the earliest followers of Christ died for the faith. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John, was sentenced to death and responded by thanking God that he was counted worthy to be a martyr. According to one account, “When the holy martyr heard this sentence, he cried out with joy.”
Even in our time, from the Sudan to North Korea, Christians around the world die for the Christian faith every day.
The Apostle Peter’s words come to mind: “If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1 Peter 4:16).
Christ can redeem our sufferings for His glory. As Dr. Timothy Keller has observed, suffering never leaves a person the same. It either makes them bitter – or better.
It’s often through suffering that we grow in our faith. Look back across the years of your life, and I suspect you’ll discover that some of the richest moments were the toughest ones, too.