Christians and non-Christians in the West are being lied to. Call it being hoodwinked, fooled, taken for a ride, or sold a bill of goods, but whatever you call it the fact is that spiritual deception is a hallmark of our generation. The lie being told is dangerous enough but when widely recognized Christian leaders are the people responsible for the proliferation of the lie, the results can be eternally tragic. What is the lie being sold? It is the promise of having your best life now. What makes the lie all the more deceptive is that it is being sold to people wrapped in a big beautiful box complete with ribbons, bows, and a gift tag naming Jesus as the giver and you as the recipient. The problem is that the Bible never promises anyone your best life now, but it promises believers that in this life we will have tribulation, that Jesus is coming soon and he will repay us according to what we have done.
Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.
Your best life now isn’t just a best selling book by a prosperity gospel preacher, it is the widespread unbiblical mindset that puts the focus on the god of self in lieu of the One true God. This message seems to resonate well with so many Western churches and the question becomes, why? There are a multiplicity of reasons for the popularity of the your best life now type of message being so popular but I think we can dial it down to one primary reason and that is the idol of self. Previously God-centered praise & worship songs, sermons, and Bible studies are being systematically replaced by me-centric songs, quick sermonettes, and seemingly spiritual sounding Bible studies. The self-focused your best life now message is in diametric opposition to what the Bible teaches. Everything we teach and preach in the church should be squarely focussed on bringing glory to God and nothing else.
This article has nothing to do with your socio-economic status or personal lifestyle because God has followers who are rich, poor, and middle income. A true follower of Jesus will not live focussing on what we do or do not have, but on Who we have. What we are looking at here is me centeredness in the heart that believes we deserve to have whatever we desire instead of making God’s will paramount. I know rich Christians who use much of their wealth as a conduit of blessing and means to spread the gospel. I also know of Christians who live paycheck to paycheck and give generously for the kingdom. Living for God’s will instead of your best life now is the only concern for true Christians regardless of socio-economics. The God-centered person understands that the Lord gives, takes away, and His name is to be blessed in every circumstance.
Psalm 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Me-centered self-focussed teaching is so popular now because it sells and draws people in great numbers to hear something that will make them feel good about themselves. Teachers, evangelists, and pastors who deviate from the centrality of Jesus and put the focus on people are teaching a different gospel. Just because someone adds the name of Jesus to a sermon, Bible study, or book doesn’t make it biblical and authenticate it. There are many smiley preachers and positive sounding evangelical leaders teaching things that are not found in scripture but they add Christian jargon or Jesus’ name to make it seem biblical. Many people eat this stuff up because they are accumulating teachers that will tickle their ears instead of teaching them the truth.
2 Peter 2:1-3 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed, they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
I’m not calling out or judging anyone’s personal life or sin. What I am calling out is the unbiblical teaching that people like Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Benny Hinn, Mike Murdock, Kenneth Copeland and many others preach. The me-centered or your best life now teaching isn’t something isolated to the television prosperity gospel preacher crowd. It takes a different form via the seeker sensitive gospel message spreading through many churches. This message has crept into many formerly biblically based Christian fellowships. In an effort not to offend anyone and have the surrounding community think we are just the nicest bunch of people, we have replaced the gospel message of sin, judgment, repentance, grace, and atonement with words like acceptance, togetherness, doing life, experience, and belonging. The approach and methodologies are multifaceted and the hook is delivered in numerous ways but the underlying message is always the same and goes something like this:
God has a plan for your life, you have a God-shaped hole in your heart, or you were meant for something greater. Slip your hand up, come down front, or sign a commitment card and you can have a new life. They might have been told something along these lines: You will live more fully, richly, or abundantly. You should expect an enhanced family life, financial outlook, and a place for the whole family to feel welcome if you just come in. Many of these people slip through the cracks and we assume they are saved. We might even get them involved in membership or various activities in the church but they might have never come to a saving faith in Jesus.
When we try to bring people in via the life enhancement message, they will view Jesus as an accessory like something to put on and take off to look and feel good. In reality, we are to identify in and with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus so much so that people see less of us and more of Jesus.
John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The end result of what happens to this person varies and often depends on the message they have received. They may expect everything in life to turn around and always end on a positive note. Words and phrases like abundant living, blessing, thinking positive and expecting more are mixed with spiritual sounding platitudes to create a sense of authentic Christianity. People might expect financial prosperity and upward social mobility. Oftentimes they are deceived into believing that they really don’t need to change their life’s direction, so long as they belong, commit, or otherwise are part of a movement or church. This is where the lie of me-centric false gospel message and pursuit of your best life now becomes so dangerous. In an effort to reach more people and to get them into fellowship at any cost, some have used salesmanship and the promise of a better life to get people in. Let’s face it, life enhancement with heaven thrown in will sell because it requires nothing of the person. A conversion minus repentance really isn’t a conversion at all. In all likelihood, you don’t have a convert, you have a number because although the person may be active in and around the church, they never came to repentance and saving faith in Jesus.
Matthew 13:16 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”
In years past some were heavy handed with the truth and grace was a scarce commodity in some preaching. In recent decades, grace has been the focus and so much so that truth has largely been shelved for a seeker sensitive message that would be palatable to almost anyone. The balance of truth and grace must be preached if we desire to see true conversion and new disciples. Grace is only amazing if we understand how holy God is, how wretched we are, and despite this, he still sent his Son to die for our sins because of his great love for us.
If you are reading this article you may be in one of these categories of people. Maybe you bought into the whole Christian thing because you wanted a better life. Perhaps you listened to one of the money preachers tell you that you would have health, wealth, and personal success. Maybe you thought to have your best life now meant that you can continue to run your life the way you want to and still get into heaven. There are probably many reasons you may have bought into thinking you can have your best life now, but if you haven’t come to the end of yourself, been crucified with Christ, and come to repentance, please re-examine your experience because being a follower of Jesus means dying to self.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
When the best life now and me-centered false gospel message is preached we think of having favor with all people, mass acceptance, and being well respected. We might expect promotions, great salaries, better vehicles, or beautiful homes. Even outside of the prosperity message, many are teaching that if we can just get our finances in order and build this picture perfect family, then that will be evidence of God’s blessing. While on the surface, being good financial stewards and striving for a better family is good, if the desired end result is how good it will make us feel or look, it is simply idolatry wrapped up in spiritual sounding speech. If we are simply following Jesus for life enhancement, we will be following a different Jesus. We can’t become the Christian life version of seven habits of highly effective people. Nor can we become the Christian poster family for the book, ‘How to win friends and influence people.’ Jesus didn’t come to make people better versions of themselves, he came to make them dead to self and alive in him.
The me-centric, best life now, positive thought seminars passing for sermons wouldn’t make sense to the 1st century Christians who understood that becoming a follower of Jesus wasn’t a life enhancement, but a probable death sentence. The best life now, Santa God and the seeker-sensitive gospel being taught increasingly in the West is unfathomable to the underground church in China, North Korea, or India where believers are persecuted for following Jesus. Christians down through the centuries and believers currently living in areas hostile to the gospel understand the absolute necessity of living for your best life later.
Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
While many outside and inside the church are pursuing their best life now, let’s briefly look at what it means to live our best life later. Living for your best life later means that you aren’t focussed on what you can get out of this life. It means you are living with the focus squarely on making much of Jesus. This is living in such a way that no matter what happens in life, you bring glory to God regardless of what is going on around you. A cancer diagnosis, the death of a loved one, unsaved spouse, lost job, dwindling savings, unforeseen hardships, prolonged sickness or anything else you may go through will not stop you from loving Jesus because you are firmly secure in him. Living for your best life later means that you don’t have to spend all of your time obsessing about building your wealth, having the perfect family, protecting your reputation, or upward mobility. Living for your best life later means giving God glory through good stewardship, shepherding or caring for your family, maintaining a godly character, and working as unto the Lord. This is the mark of a man, woman, or young person who is a disciple of Christ.
Job 1:20-22 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.
When I talk about your best life later that doesn’t mean that you won’t have a great life. It simply means that the definition of a great life to the believer is drastically different than that of the world. The world and certainly teachers of a false gospel equivocate a great life with money, fame, fortune, admiration, and anything else the mind can conjure up. A disciple of Jesus will have hard trials, but their joy will remain. They may lose some friends and even family for following Jesus but they know a friend that sticks closer than a brother. They may have a spouse who wants nothing to do with Jesus or has walked out. The Christian rests in the fact that Jesus will never leave and is with them until the end of the age. In times of plenty, the believer knows where the abundance comes from and they bless God’s name in times of need. Living for your best life later means that we are off of the treadmill of self and are doing all things for God’s glory. The times of amassing things, reputation, glory, and praise for ourselves are past and now we are laying up treasures in heaven.
Galatians 6:6-10Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have an opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
When we carefully inspect everything we do, say or think in this life, one question remains. Did we do everything for God’s glory? We must live with the Judgement Seat of Christ (Bema Seat) in clear view. If we understand that we are going to give an account to the Lord for every aspect of our lives, that should radically alter the way we live, treat people, and serve God. In the future, after we appear at the Judgement Seat of Christ, the only thing that will matter is that we rejected the lie of having our best life now for our best life later. If you want to know more about following Jesus, please write to us here: Contact us
All for Him,
Link to article: Bema Seat Living