One of the lies about wealth creation which some pastors have been peddling in recent times is about them having supernatural power to make substantial amounts of money miraculously appear in people’s purses, pockets or bank accounts. As all false teachers do, proponents of this falsehood also allude to a text of the Christian Scriptures which they misinterpret to justify this deceptive scheme.
Whether this falsehood is being propagated through a sermon or the several books that have been published in this regard, Matthew 17:27 is an anchor text which is quoted: “But so that we may not cause offence, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours” (Matthew 17:27).
It is very difficult for me to understand how a coin which is found in the mouth of a fish becomes a precedent for promising gullible believers wealth transfer which they are enticed to attract by sowing financial seeds in cash, into the lives and Ministries of this so-called miracle money producers. Did Jesus enrich Peter’s life by the coin that he took out of the mouth of the fish?
Another thing that amazes me is why those who claim to have the power to conjure miracle money continue to take offerings from their poor congregants. Jesus did not collect money from Peter before asking him to throw his hook and line into the lake. Worthy of note is the fact that Peter was a very experienced fisherman. Jesus actually asked him to work for the money.
Though the experience is rare, it is not strange for a coin to be found in the mouth of a fish, any more than it is to find a coin in the faecal matter of a person who may have intentionally or accidentally swallowed it.
Whenever attempts are made to expose religious deceptions of the kind being discussed, certain questions come up which I want to address in this article. A study of the context of Matthew 17:27 clearly reveals that it has no correlation whatsoever with the kind of wealth transfer which false preachers use that particular text of the Bible as the basis to mislead their undiscerning followers. However, I have noticed that, as soon as people who may have fallen for the ruses of the confident tricksters in priestly garments realize how untenable their beliefs are in light of the Bible, the next question they ask is: Is it impossible for God to make a mysterious deposit of money in one’s pocket, wallet, or bank account?
We will explore the Bible to provide a very fitting answer to this question. The fact that the Christian God is all-powerful is not in doubt. It is also true that God does not use His power haphazardly. So in answering the question: Is it impossible for God to make a mysterious deposit of money in one’s pocket, wallet, or bank account? The answer is, it is not impossible. God can do that. If God can do that, why should one not bank his or her hopes on that? Precisely because of the following details:
Divinely Instituted Normative Procedures Vs God’s Sovereign Discretionary Acts
There are normative procedures which God has instituted for everyday living. When you read things such as, “You reap what you sow”, that is the normative procedure in play. These procedures provide direction and guide us to act in certain ways to attain particular outcomes. When one is pursuing a particular cause in life, the divinely instituted normative procedures are the sure way to follow, because those procedures function within the remit of human control. The cause and effect principle, for example, functions within this realm. If you throw a ball against a wall, it will come back to you. That is true.
However, a rare supernatural power can be unleashed to stop a ball from coming back to one who throws it against a wall. What we need to understand about these rare supernatural interventions is that they are usually one-time initiative of God that demonstrates His sovereignty over the affairs of life. For example, John 8:1-11 chronicles the story of a woman who was caught in adultery who ought to have been stoned to death – like all others – but was spared by a rare supernatural intervention herein described as God’s Sovereign Discretionary Act. These interventions are not acts we attract by faith; they are purely manifested at the discretion of God. It will, therefore, be foolish for another woman at the time of Jesus, to cite the case of the one who was spared as a reason to indulge in such an act, expecting to be freed by the same sort of intervention.
The sovereign discretionary acts of God are purely God’s initiatives by which He does whatever He wants to do, to whoever, at a time He chooses and never in response to any request. For example, the money in the mouth of the fish was not a response to a request and it was just a one-time discretionary act of God, not exemplified as a normative alternate method of wealth creation.
I’ll use one more example, a positive one, and then put the issue to rest. In Luke 4:22, those who heard the word of Jesus were amazed and wondered how come the son of Joseph was the one speaking in that gracious manner. Probably, they were expecting the son of one who is highly placed in society. So, Jesus referred them to some Old Testament examples in which the Sovereign Discretionary Act of God was demonstrated:
“I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy[a] in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:25-27).
God chose to feed Elijah in the house of the widow in question. He also used that as a means to save the widow and her son who may have died out of hunger. This example is purely a sovereign discretionary act of God. It does not mean that in a famine if a person gave their last meal to a priest, they were automatically going to multiply their provision. If it were a normative practice within the power of the prophet, Elijah would have multiplied the food which the ravens brought to him and would not have had to go to the widow. But because it was on the level of God’s sovereign discretion, God initiated and completed the whole process.
If dipping oneself seven times in the Jordan river was a normative procedure for cleansing leprosy, all the lepers in Israel would have been cleansed.
My point is that the divinely instituted normative procedure for wealth creation is through labour executed under smart living principles. Even if there is a testimony in which one makes strange financial gains as a result of a discretionary act of God, that testimony cannot be used as the basis to promise others a similar experience. Just as only one widow’s provisions were multiplied and only Naaman was cleansed from leprosy, the sovereign discretionary acts of God are not to be treated as normative procedures for everyday living.
So while rare testimonies of strange financial provisions here and there may be true, it is a complete deception to make a promise of it to others by cashing in on them.
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