Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
The above verse is one (of many) that prosperity teachers use to enforce the false belief that if we keep asking God for what we want, He'll give it to us, because He gives good things to those who ask. Unfortunately, the dollar signs in their eyes make it hard for prosperity teachers to see the truths in this verse. So what was Jesus really saying?
What is at the heart of faith in Jesus Christ? It is knowing that we are forgiven of our sins, because of His sacrifice on the cross. And because we have been forgiven, we may come before the Father with our requests, knowing they will be heard. But, Jesus is not talking about using God as a personal Genie or Santa Claus, to make all your wishes come true. This is where the prosperity gospel goes off the rails and in fact, uses God exactly in that fashion for all manner of fleshly desires.
But what the verse above is really about is the Holy Spirit, who comes to take up residence within those who have given their lives to Christ. Jesus was not promising that we will receive whatever we ask for like a big house, more money, or perfect health. These are not the things that will help us to become more Christlike. They are only temporary things, earthly things - here today and gone tomorrow. They have no lasting value. When preachers like Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and Jesse Duplantis say that they can't spread the gospel without their own private jet, you know that isn't true! No one needs a jet to spread the gospel. All you have to do is step outside your door, cross the street and share the gospel with your neighbour! And if God is calling you to spread the gospel overseas, He doesn't need to GIVE you a jet to do that. At most, He may provide the funds to get you there, but He is not going to spend His money frivolously so that you can travel in style. Why in the world do prosperity teachers believe for one moment that they deserve these luxuries? Because they have taken Scripture out of context! Jesus walked this earth with no place to lay his head and call home (Matthew 8:19-20) and yet these false preachers have the audacity to think that they deserve better. They have placed their faith in things that have no eternal value. The gospel they preach is not the real gospel, and so those who fund them are not spreading the truth, but helping to spread lies and are just as complicit in their deception as the preachers themselves are.
Asking, seeking and knocking is not about praying for earthly things that have no value. But who we are in Christ, who we become in Him because of the Holy Spirit who lives within us and guides us, does have lasting value. It is eternal, as we will always and forever have the Holy Spirit living within us, preparing us for the day when we meet God face to face. As the Holy Spirit directs our hearts, we will desire those things that God desires. And so when Jesus says, "Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you," He is talking about receiving His Holy Spirit, seeking His forgiveness and guidance, and being persistent in doing so, because it will help us as we prepare to meet the Lord. The door will be opened to us because we will be whole and complete in Christ Jesus!
Yes, our Heavenly Father knows how to give good things to those who ask Him, but they will always have an eternal value. They will not be fleeting, they will be lasting and they will accomplish His purposes for His Kingdom and for our growth. This is how we prosper - by keeping ourselves attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. For He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus! (Philippians 1:6).
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Last week,I talked about the narrow gate and the path that leads to destruction from Matthew 7:13-14. Interestingly, this verse, which encourages Christians to enter through the narrow gate, comes directly before Jesus' words on false prophets. I don't believe it is a coincidence that these verses lined up this way. Jesus was trying to make a point. False prophets are on the path that can lead to destruction. So the question we need to ask is this - who are the false prophets we need to be aware of today, and why is their message so dangerous?
Before I get to names let's be clear on who Jesus is talking about here. The word in Greek for false prophet is pseudoprophētēs it comes from two words - pseudēs which means "liar" and prophētēs which means "prophet" or "one who proclaims a divine message from God".