Discourse 54 - Must Jesus give us Christians physical health and material prosperity today?




The Abrahamic Covenant and its implications for Christianity / Website / book, Jay Snell, 2003-07-07.


Dr Jay Snell, an American visitor to Immanuel.at who has the website “The Abrahamic Seed Group” of his own, when visiting issued us an invitation to a mutual exchange of links, so that visitors can have the option, when visiting either website, of getting to know the other.

An examination of this American Internet publication yielded positive results, in that on the face of it the arguments can be described as being fully in accordance with Scripture. As the following extract shows, however, the mode of interpretation is heavily focused on the Old Testament, and this makes it somewhat problematic.


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(The Abrahamic Covenant and its implications for Christianity / Website/book JS00 2003-07-07+))

The Abrahamic Covenant guaranteed the blessings of physical health and material prosperity for Old Testament Judaism. The Christian religion must do the same in the Christian era; otherwise, Old Testament Judaism is the superior religion. If the Christian religion doesn't provide and guarantee physical health and material prosperity in the New Testament era, equal to that provided and guaranteed by the Abrahamic Covenant during the Old Testament, then plainly Christianity is inferior to Old Testament Judaism. Few Christians, however, would concede that Christianity is inferior to Old Testament Judaism, or any other religion.

But, to escape the force of this assertion, those Christians not willing to concede the inferiority of Christianity to Old Testament Judaism must demonstrate one of two things. They must absolutely prove that the Abrahamic Covenant does not guarantee the blessings of physical health and material prosperity during the Old Testament era, and therefore the Christian religion does not have to guarantee them either. Or, if they are unable to demonstrate that the Abrahamic Covenant did not guarantee health and prosperity, then they must demonstrate an equal health and prosperity for Christianity; otherwise, Old Testament Judaism surpasses Christianity in the blessings and benefits it affords its people. Physical health and material prosperity are indeed guaranteed in the Abrahamic Covenant.

+) This extract is taken from the website “The Abrahamic Seed Group” by Jay Snell.

Jay Snell jaysnell@jaysnell.org / http://www.jaysnell.org/ "Healing, Prosperity, Family Wellness"



Dr. Jay Snell is a former Southern Baptist Pastor and Evangelist. He has been told he holds the SBC record for the number of evangelistic campaigns held in a given time span. As a pastor, every church he served experienced exploding growth. One pastorate gained over five hundred in average Sunday School attendance his first twelve months on the field. Considering the location of this church, the condition of the buildings and the poor financial posture of this church, this ministry also set records. During that same pastorate, Jay led that state in baptisms all five years he was there.

As stated on his Website, Jay Snell while still a Baptist, God revealed to him that Healing, Prosperity and Well Being for our families is contained in the Abrahamic covenant and consequently belongs to all Christians now.

It then goes on:

“He (sc. God) showed him (sc. Snell) why Jesus must heal and prosper us Christians today. Then the blessed Lord instructed him to research and document from both Greek and Hebrew this Abrahamic revelation of Healing and Prosperity.”


This was then the origin of Pastor Snell’s book or website, which in the author’s view is designed to answer the following question:

Why must Jesus give you healing and prosperity here and now?

And just the way this is formulated - “Why must Jesus...” - is already very questionable, for of course we cannot say that Lord Jesus must do anything whatever. We cannot make demands, because we have no claims. As Paul says in Rom 5,12, the only thing we are entitled to is death, because we have all sinned. Only through accepting the redeeming sacrifice of the Son of God do we have even the possibility of praying to God and laying our requests before him.

Everything, then, that we receive from the Lord is derived from his grace, love and mercy; and the attempt to see any kind of compulsory automatic operation in this would be completely out of order.

And yet there are two reasons why this argument deserves to be considered with particular attention:

1. It is this very way of speaking that attracts a great many Christians - especially in the USA - like a magnet, and which makes it very easy for some “preachers” to lead them astray and make a packet for themselves in the process.

2. And then too, the conclusions of our author are drawn from the Bible, and so cannot just be dismissed out of hand; which is also a reason why it is plainly hard for some Christians to form a sound judgment on this matter.


Although Christians whose beliefs are based on the Bible will hardly be inclined to take such statements seriously, the present approach towards biblical demonstration is just the point by which brothers and sisters who believe firmly in the Bible might be ‘pried loose’ from the foundations of their faith.

o  As a basis for his argument, the author refers to the Covenant that God made with Abraham in Genesis, and the promises this contained (Gen 12,1-3; 13,15-17; 15,1-21; 17,1-22; and 22,16-18;).

Gen I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. Gen 17,7;

o  The author likewise concludes, on the basis of this passage, that all the blessings of this covenant of God with Abraham also, and in a special sense, refer to his descendants, namely the Israelites. And this too is completely in accordance with Scripture.

o  Moving on from this to the implications of these blessings for Christianity, the author now quotes Paul - again perfectly correctly. Paul demonstrates in his epistles to the Romans and to the Galatians that not all the bodily children of Abraham - those of Israel, that is - are the descendants promised in this covenant: rather it is the ‘children of the promise’, that is to say, the Christians, who are pronounced righteous, not because of their adherence to the Law but - just as in the case of Abraham (Gen 15,6) - on account of their faith.

It is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.

Rom 9,6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 9,7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: "through Isaac your descendants will be named." 9,8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. Rom 9, 6- 8;

So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

Gal 3,6 Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. 3,7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 3,8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "all the nations will be blessed in you." 3,9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. Gal 3, 6- 9:

In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles.

Gal 3,13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-for it is written, "cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"- 3,14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Gal 3,13-14;;


o  The blessings themselves which, in Pastor Snell’s view, are included in this “Abrahamic Covenant” are then listed as follows:

“ -  Healing contained in the Abrahamic covenant for you
-  Christian Wealth and Prosperity contained in the Abrahamic covenant for you
-  Family Well Being contained in the Abrahamic covenant for you
-  Spiritual Warfare contained in the Abrahamic covenant for you
-  Eternal Security contained in the Abrahamic covenant for you
-  Timing of The Rapture contained in the Abrahamic covenant for you
-  All this is in addition to your Salvation contained in the Abrahamic covenant for you”

He concludes his presentation, then, in the following words:

“All the subjects above are presented in the light of the Abrahamic covenant. Always remember, The Abrahamic Seed Group Newsletter has only one purpose: we want to build your faith to obtain what God promised you in His covenant with Abraham. We want to equip you to be in your own Healing Ministry.”


That, then, is a brief summary of the biblical basis and the aims of this wide-ranging and extremely well organized website.

As we can see, it is not so easy to deny these people’s claim to be arguing on the basis of Scripture. A first approach would be by way of the fact that the blessings listed above are not, of course, to be found in the Bible - not in the way in which they are formulated here. On the other hand, the author also refers to the blessing given by God to Abraham in Gen 12,1-3:

And I will bless you and I will bless those who bless you.

Gen 12,1 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; 12,2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; 12,3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." Gen 12, 1- 3;


An extremely wide-ranging argument follows with reference to the semantic contents of the word “blessing”, in Hebrew and in Greek. Relying essentially on Gen 24,1 and 35, the author then seeks to demonstrate that the blessing promised to the spiritual descendants or heirs in faith of Abraham - all Christians, that is - also involves health and material prosperity.

Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in every way.

Gen 24,1 Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in every way. Gen 24, 1;

The LORD has greatly blessed my master, so that he has become rich.

Gen 24,35 "The LORD has greatly blessed my master, so that he has become rich; and He has given him flocks and herds, and silver and gold, and servants and maids, and camels and donkeys. Gen 24,35;


Now there are some commentators who contest the view that the blessing to Abraham continues through into our own day. Pastor Snell quotes these on his website, and succeeds in neutralizing them on the basis of generally logical arguments.

As we will show below, however, there is an absolutely convincing biblical argument that confutes all these theories. For this reason, we will just reproduce these positions in summary form below.


The fulfillment theory.

This theory states that the Abrahamic covenant was already fulfilled completely in the time of Joshua (about 1400 BC), and since then has no longer been in force. In support of this theory the following scriptural passages are referred to:

Jos 21,45 Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.. Jos 21,45;

Jos 23,14 "Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. Jos 23,14;

1Kg 8,56 "Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. 1Ki 8,56;


The residential theory.

This theory claims that the blessings given to Abraham were in force only so long as his bodily descendants dwelt in the land of Israel. The blessings are here linked to the country, and it is suggested that in being banished from its homeland, on account of its disobedience to God, Israel was also deprived of the blessings.


The example theory.

Here the statements made in the New Testament that refer to Abraham and his covenant with God are just seen as exemplifying the strong faith of Abraham, which we should aspire in our turn to emulate. Christians should be stimulated by his example to have the same confidence in God that Abraham had.


The division theory.

This point of view separates the blessing given to Abraham into two different areas:

-  Part 1 is the redemption part. According to the theory, this part of the blessing is still in force; and it is this that Paul is referring to in Gal 3 and other passages.

-  Part 2 of the Abrahamic covenant, on the other hand, consists of all those blessings referring to land, health, prosperity etc.; and these promises, it is suggested, are no longer valid.


The “Paul's thorn” theory.

This theory refers to the second epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, verse 12,7, and asks how physical healing could possibly be part of our Christian inheritance when Paul himself was unable to heal his condition (the thorn in the flesh). Advocates of this view of course leave out of account the important verses following, which put it on record that it was the will of God that Paul should suffer from this condition, so it could not have been healed by anyone.

For this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh.

2Cor 12,6 For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. 12,7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-to keep me from exalting myself! 12,8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 12,9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2Cor 12, 6- 9;


The perfect canon theory.

This theory states that at the same time as the last book of the New Testament - the Revelation of John - was written down, all supernatural manifestations and all miracles were taken away from the congregation. This includes speaking in tongues, knowledge, prophecy, visions etc., and 1Cor 13,8-13 is adduced in support of this view:

If there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

1Cor 13,8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 13,9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 13,10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 13,11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 13,12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13,13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1Cor 13,8-13;


But here too the implications of the following verses are overlooked - especially 1Cor 13,10 und 12:

“But when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.”

Here Paul is referring to the Second Coming of the Lord (“the perfect”), when - in the Millennium - these things will of course all come to an end, because the prophecies will have been fulfilled, and so these gifts will no longer be necessary.

Now as we indicated above, there is an absolutely unambiguous biblical counter-argument that refutes all these theories. This counter-argument is only left out of consideration by some commentators because their interpretation relies excessively on arguing from their own, human point of view; as a result they take no account of the influence and intentions of God, and indeed lose this aspect from view altogether.

If we take another look at the promises made by God in his covenant with Abraham, we notice some significant details which prove the effectiveness of the Abrahamic covenant, not just for Israel in former times but for all nations, and - what is more - right through to our own day and into the future:

I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you.

Gen 17,4 "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. 17,5 "No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. 17,6 "I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. 17,7 "I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. Gen 17, 4- 7;


Here we have, on the one hand, the statement made in Gen 17,4: “you will be the father of a multitude of nations”. And this statement is confirmed once more in the following verse 17,5. But if it is only the Israelites who are “children of Abraham”, we would here have to do with just one single nation.

And this is why Paul also tells us, in Gal 3,8-9:

All the nations will be blessed in you.

Gal 3,8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "all the nations will be blessed in you." 3,9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. Gal 3, 8- 9;


Paul is here quoting Gen 12,3, where God tells Abraham: “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed“.

This blessing therefore remains valid for all believing Christians, in all the nations of the world, until the Second Coming of the Lord.

On the other hand, it is written in Gen 17,7: “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant”.

And if, here too, we consider what Paul has to say on the matter, we find him writing in Rom 9,8: “That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.” So again it is the Christian faithful, as the descendants of Abraham, to whom these promises apply - and for all eternity.

Any biblical commentator, then, who denies these conclusions is automatically insinuating that God does not know the meaning of the words “all the nations of the earth” or “eternal covenant”. At the same time he is denying the promises made by God to Abraham in Gen 12,3 and 17,7, and thereby automatically disqualifies himself from taking part in a discussion based on the Bible.


In what concerns the validity of these promises to Abraham for all Christians, then, we cannot refute what Pastor Snell says on his website - especially if we take into account what Paul tells us in Gal 3,14, where he again confirms that the blessing of Abraham has come down to us Christians.

In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles.

Gal 3,13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-for it is written, "cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"- 3,14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Gal 3,13-14;


But Paul here at the same time indicates the conditio sine qua non for receiving the blessing of Abraham: Christ Jesus, who has redeemed us! It is therefore faith in Jesus Christ that makes it possible for this blessing to come to us at all.

(See also Diskurs 30: “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?”).


And with that we come to what is the essential point, in this connection. God concluded his covenant with Abraham in the following words (Gen 17,7):

“I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.”

This shows us that Abraham is the mediator of this covenant for his descendants, in all the generations that come after him.

But now we find the Lord Jesus, in Jn 8,56-59, telling us:

Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.

Jn 8,56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." 8,57 So the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" 8,58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." 8,59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. Jn 8,56-59;


This is one of the most important indications in Scripture of the pre-existence of the Son of God. It states that the Lord Jesus, before he became man, and even (as the Lord confirms in another passage - Jn 17,4-5 - given below) before the first day of creation, was with God and at the same time himself was God.

Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was

Jn 17,4 "I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. 17,5 "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. Jn 17, 4- 6;


And this is what John himself draws to our attention at the beginning of his Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Jn 1,1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 1,2 He was in the beginning with God. 1,3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 1,4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 1,5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. Jn 1, 1- 5;


Now if the Lord is the “Word of God”, then it was also Jesus Christ who pronounced the words of this covenant with Abraham.

And if we continue to examine what John has to say here, we notice three more important points:

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.

Jn 1,9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 1,10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 1,11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 1,12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 1,13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 1,14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. Jn 1, 9-14;


We have it here confirmed again, in Jn 1,14, that the Word of God, as the Son of God in Jesus Christ, was born as a man and so became flesh. And then John also says, in Jn 1,10: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him...”. This conclusion follows with perfect logic from what has been previously stated, and it is also confirmed by Jn 1,1-3: “In the beginning was the Word (...) and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” The whole of creation really and truly came into being through Jesus Christ. As the Word of God, it was he who in the beginning spoke the “Let there be...” of God the Father, and so called everything into being.

And finally we are presented with the most important factor relating to the topic under consideration. In Jn 1,11-12, we are told:

“He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name


So we are now in a position to see, first, that Abraham was the mediator of his covenant with God. Following from this, however, this same God lowered himself, in his love for humanity, to our level, through being born himself as a man in his Son Jesus Christ, and so supplementing the old Abrahamic covenant with a new one. And as John says in the above passage (Jn 1,12), the precondition for entering into this New Covenant is now faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As believing Christians, we do not just have the preferential right to be the spiritual descendants or heirs in faith of Abraham; more than that, our God actually gives us the right to become his children, children of God, by believing in his Son.

Although Pastor Snell does refer to this on his website, a further, very important aspect of the matter receives no mention at all: there is nothing to indicate that no blessing whatever can be taken up without any kind of condition. Just as Israel in Old Testament times repeatedly went against God, refused to listen to his voice and so lost the blessing for a temporary period, so Christians can only avail themselves of the blessing of God if they keep the commandments of Our Lord Jesus Christ, as he himself tells us in Jn 14,21:

He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.

Jn 14,21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." Jn 14,21;


And these commandments, after the love of God, Our Father in heaven, include the love of our brothers and sisters. We Christians do not have to lay claim to the promise of a blessing in order to be blessed with “health, material prosperity and family well being” in our daily lives. It is rather the other way around: if we take care to give of that which we have to our brothers and sisters, then our Father in heaven will ensure, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, that our stores will be replenished.

The more we give, the more we shall receive - whether it is a matter of putting our health to service by working for the sick without payment, passing on our material prosperity by supporting brothers and sisters in need or involving others in our family well being through the exercise of hospitality.

God loves a cheerful giver and God is able to make all grace abound to you.

2Cor 9,6 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 9,7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

9,8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 9,9 as it is written, "He scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever." 9,10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; 9,11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. 2Cor 9, 6-11;

Give a blessing for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.

1Ptr 3,8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 3,9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 3,10 For, "the one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.. 3,11 "He must turn away from evil and do good, he must seek peace and pursue it. 3,12 "For the eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil." 1Pet 3, 8-12;


Now it is certainly correct to say that there are people without faith who are exceedingly well off, and who also enjoy a good state of health. But this should not make us Christians envious. One who believes in Jesus Christ is probably not so affluent, but all the same - or even for that very reason - possesses something of much greater value: he is happy in being content with what he has.



Conclusion.

So we are in a position to say that, while the author’s arguments are in many respects correct and in agreement with the Bible, all the same they completely ignore one important - perhaps the most important - aspect of the matter:

For us Christians the Abrahamic covenant does not occupy a prominent position, because our faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ has enabled us to enter into a new, extended covenant with God. We do not have recourse to the promises that were made to Abraham, but rather believe and have confidence that we, as the children of our Father in heaven, will receive all these blessings, and a whole lot more, from God through Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has promised us himself (in Jn 14,13-14):

Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it
.”