God does not desire poverty for Christians but rather prosperity, Bishop Charles Agyinasare of Perez Chapel International has said, noting: “It is not wrong to be poor but it is wrong to remain poor”.
The Presiding Bishop said poverty is a “demon” and “evil spirit” which is not a trump card for making it to heaven, since, according to him, the Bible has examples of both the rich and poor (Abraham, who possessed wealth in gold and silver before his death; and sore-riddled Lazarus, who begged the rich man to allow him to eat the crumbs of his feast) making it to heaven.
“A lot of the time, the world wants us to believe that once you’re a Christian or if you’re a pastor, you should only be teaching the people about poverty and they go as far as saying: ‘As poor as a church rat’” but “God never had that in his concept when he had a church”, the founder of Perez Chapel International told the congregation in the second service on Sunday, 24 November 2019.
“It’s important”, he said: “That as Christians, we stop making people feel that because they are poor, they are holy”, asserting: “Being poor doesn’t make you holy, otherwise all the poor people we have in the third world would be holy, there’ll be no need to preach to them, they will go to heaven”.
“So, we shouldn’t make people feel that because they are poor, they are holy. It doesn’t work like that. You can be poor and be a sinner just like you can be rich and also go to heaven”, he taught.
Bishop Agyinasare pointed out that some particular scriptures in the Bible are misinterpreted by those who hold the view that it is holy to be and remain poor.
Those people, he said: “Use the scripture where Jesus said to one particular rich man: ‘Go and sell all you have and give to the poor and come and follow me’” to buttress their point, but Bishop Agyinasare clarified that Jesus “didn’t say that to everybody”.
"And they go as far as saying that: ‘Money is the root of all evil’. The Bible didn’t say anywhere that ‘money is the root of all evil’. It is not in my Bible. The Bible that has that one is yet to be made but the one that we have didn’t say that. What the Bible says is in 1 Timothy 6: 10, it says: ‘For the love of money is the root of all evil’. The challenge is the love of money.
He nonetheless added that “prosperity is more than money”.
And then, he continued: “They take the scripture where Jesus said: ‘It will be difficult for a rich man to go to heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle’” as another proof of their argument, “So, they say that anybody who is rich cannot enter the kingdom of heaven”.
Debunking that notion with examples in the Bible, Bishop Aginasare said: “Well, there are two kinds of people who can go to heaven: One of them is Lazarus, who was poor with sores around him [and] dogs licking his wounds; he went to heaven. And then there is Abraham, who also went to heaven and Abraham had silver and gold while he was here on earth. And if you ask me: ‘Among the two, who do I like to go to heaven like?’, I want to go like Abraham”.
Further, Bishop Agyinasare said: “When Jesus was talking about receiving a hundredfold, he said so in relation to “this life and in the world to come”.
“So, God is not just interested in our world to come, God is interested in the hear-and-now. Some think that if you’re a Christian, you’re just supposed to exist. No, we’re not just supposed to exist on the earth because God has called us so that every one of us will be responsible for the salvation of the lost. And reaching the lost is expensive. Taking the gospel to the whole world is expensive. The gospel is free but the means of preaching and delivering the gospel is expensive”, he emphasised.
He observed that some people would rather he did not preach about prosperity in the church and focus on heaven and hell. “I know there are some when they hear me preach like this they get upset: ‘Instead of the man just preaching holiness, he’s preaching about money and prosperity’”.
To such critics, Bishop Agyinasare said he is following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. “Jesus preached on more money and treasures and wealth than he preached on heaven and hell because, in this life, you need money to live”.
God, he noted, “Is interested in not just our living, our existence but He wants us to have an abundance. And Jesus declared that in John 10: 10; Jesus said: ‘The thief does not come but to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly’”.
Borrowing a leaf from Mathew 6:33 to drive home his point, Bishop Agyinasare quoted Jesus as admonishing Christians to: ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all things shall be added unto you’”.
He said Jesus also noted in the Bible that: ‘I’m anointed to preach the gospel to the poor’, explaining: “It takes the anointing to preach the good news to the poor because poverty is a demon, poverty is an evil spirit, poverty is Satan. Because poverty is a spirit, it is able to drive some people to become rich but when they become rich, that same spirit of poverty so torments them that they want to keep every money”.
The Bible, Bishop Agyinasare noted, “Has nothing good to say about poverty”. “In fact,” he noted: “The things the Bible says about poverty are not pleasant at all”.
“For example, in Proverbs 10: 15, the Bible says: ‘The rich man’s wealth is his strong city but the destruction of the poor is his poverty’. Poverty is not good, it’s not a blessing, it doesn’t help anybody. Poverty demeans. In Proverbs 19: 4, the Bible says: ‘Wealth makes many friends but the poor is separated from his neighbour’. Poor people don’t have too many friends. The Bible tells us categorically that the poor man is destroyed by his poverty.
“There are many people who have died because they didn’t have money to treat themselves medically. There are many if they had had the surgery that the doctor prescribed, they would have lived but they died because they didn’t have the money to do that. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastics 9:16: ‘Wisdom is good but the poor man’s wisdom is rejected’.
“You don’t see poor people win elections in any country because they don’t have the money to even campaign. The people who win elections are not the smartest, however, they have money. So, the Bible says: ‘Wisdom is good but if you are poor, nobody listens to your wisdom’. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:7 that: ‘The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is a servant to the lender’. Poor people are always underprivileged”, he stressed.