April 4, 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--God does not reward those who earnestly seek rewards, He rewards those who earnestly seek Him, author John Revell writes in a new book titled "Getting the Most from God (but not how you might think!)," which uses Scripture to debunk the prosperity gospel often preached by popular televangelists.

"I've concluded that regardless of what one believes about the appropriateness of the current congressional investigation of certain televangelists, there is no doubt that there are some unscrupulous individuals who are making outrageous claims and getting filthy rich by duping unsuspecting victims -- all in the name of Christ," Revell told Baptist Press. "Christians need to know the truth about what it really means to be blessed by God."

Revell, editor of SBC Life, the journal of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, was inspired to write the book after a few teenage boys in a discipleship group he leads pulled a prank and placed his name on the mailing list of a televangelist.

"Over the next 18 months, I received some of the most bizarre correspondence ever sent in the name of Christ," Revell said. "This man claimed that God had given him specific visions concerning me and my particular situation, and he promised all manner of physical and financial 'blessings' if I would only follow his outlandish instructions -- and send him money."

In response to the letters, Revell studied what God's Word really says about blessings, and he compiled what he learned into a lesson plan for his Sunday School class and Wednesday night Bible study.

Realizing a need in a larger audience, Revell developed the material into a self-published book aimed at three specific groups of people: those who have been deceived by the prosperity gospel, Christians who are young in the faith and those who don't know Jesus as Savior.

"The book makes the case from Scripture that God truly desires to richly bless His children, but that His blessings often do not take the shape we might expect and that these blessings are conditional," Revell explained. "It examines two passages from the Psalms and two from the Gospels, and demonstrates that God's richest blessings are directly related to our walk with, and our total surrender and submission to Him.

"That is not what we are hearing from some popular 'health and wealth' evangelists, and it is not a very popular notion these days," he said.

Revell hopes the book will be used by local churches to teach members the fundamental truths about a vital, daily walk with God and the resulting blessings. Portions of the book, he said, underscore the essentials of daily Bible study and prayer while others focus on the need to surrender each aspect of life to God.

Another goal, Revell said, is for believers to use the book as an evangelistic tool, distributing it to people who have not placed their faith in Jesus and are perhaps baffled by the messages they hear from purveyors of the prosperity gospel on television.

"I have made it as affordable as possible with the hopes that it would get into as many hands as possible," Revell said, noting the book is available at LifeWay Christian Stores for $3.99 per copy. "At this price, churches, and even individuals, could afford to buy multiple copies and distribute them freely."

The 100-page book is written in an easy-to-read style, he said, and soon he'll post free Bible study outlines as well as outlines for evangelistic book clubs at www.GinoskoPublishing.com.

In the book, Revell refers to Hebrews 11:6, which says "anyone who comes to [God] must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him."

"Ultimately, He is the reward -- when we seek Him, we are overwhelmed with the incredible riches and blessings of who He is and of fellowship with Him," Revell writes.

"... The richest blessings in life are directly and inseparably linked to a relationship with Him -- a relationship in which we surrender all that we are and all that we have to Him and walk in humble submission to and with Him. Yet, as we surrender and submit to Him in this relationship, He lavishes us with the glorious blessings of His love."


Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.

(c) 2008 Baptist Press. Used with permission. All rights reserved.