For Costi Hinn, the prosperity gospel is family business. He worked for his dad and also his famous uncle Benny, one of the most notorious purveyors of the prosperity gospel around the world.
But Costi’s transformation has been dramatic. He tells his story and writes against his former views in a new book, God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies [review].
Costi does not hold back in his intent for the book: “I want people to see that the prosperity gospel is damning and abusive. It exploits the poor and ruins the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.” He goes on to describe the prosperity gospel as “arguably the most hateful and abusive kind of false teaching plaguing the church today” and says “all roads the prosperity gospel paves lead to hell.”
Listen to this episode of The Gospel Coalition Podcast.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Collin Hansen: For Costi Hinn, the prosperity gospel is family business. He worked for his dad and also his famous Uncle Benny, one of the most notorious purveyors of the prosperity gospel around the world. But Costi’s transformation has been dramatic, he tells his story and writes against his former views in a new book, God, Greed, and the Prosperity Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies, published by Zondervan. Costi does not hold back in his intent for the book. “I want people to see that the prosperity gospel is damning and abusive, it exploits the poor and ruins the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people.” And he goes on to describe the prosperity gospel as “Arguably, the most hateful and abusive kind of false teaching plaguing the church today,”and says, “All roads the prosperity gospel paves lead to hell.”
So you can see we’ve got a lot to talk with Costi about. Thank you, Costi for joining me on The Gospel Coalition Podcast.
Costi Hinn: Great to be here with you, Collin and thanks for having me on.
Hansen: You are not the first person within your family to be able to criticize this work. Your grandmother was critical of her son’s work. How did that opposition go over when she raised those objections?
Costi Hinn: Yeah, well typically, it was well-received. So to give you a peek into a family circle, we would be sitting in Florida, you know, down in Orlando at my grandmother’s house and having a good time as a family and often what would come up is in her broken English, my family, a lot of them speak fluent Arabic, we have Middle Eastern roots.
And she would in her broken English say, you know, my Uncle Benny, “This man, this man no pure. This man you have on television I see him. No pure, no pure. All money, all money.” And she would start to scold him and then you’d have this big family gathering. So picture Thanksgiving or a big, you know, Middle Eastern family, like My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It was like that and we’re having a great time. And we call her Teta, she just passed away a few years back, but Teta she would just lay into him and she would point at a few of the brothers too and essentially, she would warn, so and so is not pure, “My son stay away from that person. Just preach Holy Spirit,” she would say. “Just preach Holy Spirit and no this other thing.” And she would just say that in her broken English and explain her distaste for it. And in the end, it would be really funny, you’d have all of us there almost like the spectators giggling, and laughing, and elbowing each other going, “You know, Teta really told him off. I think this was time for that. I think this one got him.”
We would kind of say that and Uncle Benny legitimately would say, “Yama,” in Arabic, “Yama, you’re right.I know. I’m careful.I’m not going to do that again. Listen, we’re all learning.” And we would all mitigate and it would all be okay. And then we would assume and move on.
Let me give you one other story about a family member, one of my aunts, who I won’t name her for respect to her privacy, but she’s a godly woman. Now, obviously a converted and Godly Christian woman. She stood up against some of this back in the 90s and it costed her dearly. Back then the family did not do well at all. We still don’t, but with opposition, as many people, we were defensive, and I remember that she and her husband, who’s my uncle’s brother, were really put on the hot seat.
And eventually, over time, just naturally, she ended up getting arthritis and struggling with arthritis in her life just in general. And I remember the story being well, that’s what happens when you touch the Lord’s anointed. That’s what happens when you speak against an anointed man of God. And my parents and others, we all begin to affirm that, you know, our aunt, our beloved aunt struggled with arthritis and arthritis comes from bitterness, and from attacking anointed leaders, and God will cripple you with arthritis if you touch the Lord’s anointed.
And so we used to pray for her and ask that the Lord would heal her and also her bitter heart because she spoke against Uncle Benny so that the arthritis would be relieved. That’s how ingrained it was in us not to criticize, and yet of course, my matriarch grandmother, she was untouchable. So obviously, she got the free ride there as a mom, but that’s the picture for you.
Hansen: There’s always exceptions in those cases. Now, you had an uncle with a similar situation, right? Who came out and criticized some of this and had his own health problems and the same things were brought against him. Did I read that correctly?
Costi Hinn: Yeah. So similar to this situation, an uncle on my mother’s side, you know, my Uncle George, and I told his story in the book, he passed away of cancer. And as the story went, one of the things you don’t do, which was, you know, speak about a man of God. He had had some criticisms of our church, and the way that we operated things, and he spoke about those and challenged those.
That was a strike against him. And then some other people came to him with concerns and Collin, let’s real quick compartmentalize and make sure. In the Bible church world and all of our world where we’re preaching the word, you know, no doubt you have books like Tale of Three Kings, where that Absalom thing can be real dangerous. So no doubt when people come to people and start talking and gossiping. “Well, I’m concerned about the pastor” and this, that can be dangerous as well.
But this I’m talking about genuine concerns, people saying, “We’re not sure if that’s biblical to operate that way with money and to do all that.” And so he would listen, and then he would come and tell my dad and other leaders, “We really need to take a look here and rethink some things.” And that was another strike because one of the things we would tell people is you don’t talk about the Lord’s anointed, and you don’t listen or be a party to negative people or critical people.
And so over, and over, and over again, that was happening within the family and anytime anybody died or got sick, we always attributed it to, they were attacking the Lord’s anointed.
Hansen: Well, let’s get into that a little bit more as we go on. But one of the things that stood out to me and we’ve published on this at The Gospel Coalition, I’ve often seen the prosperity gospel likened to a Ponzi scheme.
It only works because the people on stage get rich when the swindled in the crowds pay them. Is that a fair description?
Costi Hinn: I would say it’s a fair description. The product is certainly false hope. We touched on it already even fear.
So false hope and fear are probably the two biggest products. You got the false hope part, we all understand that when it comes to the prosperity gospel, but the other one, the fear of God or fear is, you know, even if I’m waiting on getting my miracle, I’m staying under the anointed umbrella and the protection of this anointed man or woman of God, by submitting to them and giving my money.
So the Ponzi scheme really works because either way, whether you’re just wanting a miracle, or you’re just wanting to stay protected while you wait for your miracle, you got to pay to play.
Hansen: Why doesn’t that register with people? Like why doesn’t it register that the person up there who’s the model here of success for this whole system working is only successful because I am paying them?
And why aren’t there all these other stories of success out there?
Costi Hinn: Well, I think you’ve got two things. And I think back to 2 Timothy 3:13, where he says, “In the last days, evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived.” I think there’s people who are deceived by someone and they’re ignorant, and they’re being sucked in, and they genuinely are seeing a famous celebrity preacher, who is wealthy, who is living the American dream come to their country or their city and say, “Hey, you can have this. So look at my life.”
And they have no reason to believe otherwise, except wow, this is what’s being offered. I really need that. So there’s that group. But also, I would say there’s a whole group that, you know, they want it not just that they need it and they’re desperate and they’re being swindled and they haven’t heard the true gospel yet, but they actually understand what they’re getting into.
And those are the people that are, again, are likened to Paul’s words to Timothy where he says, “They’ll raise up teachers in accordance with their own desires, because they essentially want their ears tickled.” There’s a group of people that…and to be honest, if we were all getting real, this creeps into everybody’s life, the prosperity gospel finds its way into all of our lives where we really…a message of comfort is comfortable.
A message that says, I’m going to be blessed, and my kids aren’t going to have cancer, and nobody’s going to be sick. I mean, that is something that every person wants, we naturally seek comfort. We don’t want pain.
Hansen: Straight out of the book of Jeremiah, as well that he comes prophesying doom, and destruction, and judgment from sin.
And the other prophets stand up and say, “No, it can’t be. It can’t be. It can’t be…
Costi Hinn: Exactly.
Hansen: But of course they’re wrong. Yeah. Well, what was your…you mentioned a couple examples of dissension within the family.
What was your first inclination, your first tug, to realize something’s wrong with the family business?
Costi Hinn: Yeah, so growing up news media would report on things and we would all watch. And they would always say the same thing. So no real documented healings, money scandals, deception, false claims, etc., etc. They would follow us around and do hidden cameras and all of that.
And Christians would be interviewed and they would always share stories of brokenness, or hurt, or pain. Some of them were rescued out of it, all of this. And we would watch and sitting there I did used to question along, but we were told, oh, look at the people attacking us, look at how the devil is trying to bring us down.
This is persecution just like Paul, just like Jesus, just like all the New Testament apostles and many others throughout the ages. We’re just in a long line of faithful heralds of truth, and Satan is just trying to bring our empire down. So that was how we justified it. But as a young man, I begin to process things that I experienced personally, not just the criticism, but a gal in my senior year of high school.
You know, she was on the swim team, she was popular, long blond hair, and all over a sudden her hair was gone. She was wearing a wig. She had cancer. And I remember telling my dad, like, “Let’s go heal her.” And I went to it. At that point, I was at a Christian reformed High School, you can believe that. I had gotten kicked out of the Pentecostal school.
And so that’s another story for another time. But overall, you know, I was told “No, they don’t believe like us.They don’t have enough faith, those are dead churches.These are dead reformed people.They don’t really know what they’re talking about. And just like the Baptists, you know, they know some Bible, but they have no power, no spirit, they have none of that. So no, no, they’re not going to go for that.”
And I thought, well, in my mind, I’m thinking, let’s go prove it to them. Let’s go show them. I mean, if we got the gift, let’s go use it. And so that didn’t work. And then over the years, friends and others would leak in truth bombs, if you will, or what I would say put cracks in the dam of my theology and all the while, I would push back and I would question and I would struggle and wrestle, but the Lord really used that.
I had a coach at Dallas Baptist University where I played baseball, obviously, the Lord used my wife in a tremendous way, leading up to our marriage and even after, and then I had a pastor, like many faithful pastors out there, you know, I get the last name thing, I’m a Hinn and I understand my experience. And so people want to hear from me on it, and I’m a pastor and all that.
But in the end, Hinn, Hansen, Robinson, Jones, Smith, it really doesn’t matter. Jesus is saving people left and right and faithful pastors are often involved. And that’s what I had. The Lord used a man who really didn’t really care about who I was or anything, he cared about the truth and he wanted our church and he wanted us to get the truth right.
And the Lord used him in a way that was powerful and to this day, he’s, you know, my best friend and is still a pastor and a brother in my life. But those are things that the Lord used, and I began to see what we’re teaching, what we’re living, actually doesn’t match the Bible and the Bible interpreted not in a way that nobody could ever understand or is beyond our comprehension.
You and I both know, there are some tough passages in the Bible, but, you know, no matter what, you can’t spin a verse on suffering, it’s literal. It’s what it says. You can’t take John 10:10 and just go yep, Jesus wants you to have, you know, your Bible, and a Beemer, and a Bentley, it doesn’t work that way. So I began to see the Bible plainly read, plainly understood, and in many cases was enough and the Lord really just blew the doors off my belief system and rescued me.
Hansen: So many different ways. I wanted to follow up on that and again, I can’t recommend enough for people to pick up the book. I’ve never read anything like it on an issue of such incredible urgency right now. But let’s follow up on just what you said right there. Jesus says, and he could not be more clear, just edited a book called, Lost and Found: How Jesus Helped Us Discover Our True Selves. And it’s all about this concept that Jesus says consistently, the only way to find your life is to lose it.
Costi Hinn: To lose it. That’s right.
Hansen: For the sake of Christ and the gospel. Like you said, the passages on suffering are consistent. They are across the entire scripture, it couldn’t be more clear in the example of Jesus. How do prosperity preachers explain these Bible passages and many more, that flatly, directly contradict their beliefs?
Costi Hinn: Well, I’m going to give you a multi answer approach here.
Number one, avoid them altogether. Just avoid those answers or those questions rather and those passages. Number two, twist them, which is, you know, you take a passage like that and honestly, this sells well and man it preaches well. If I get up and I say, guys, you know, is suffering biblical?
Absolutely. Like if you heard a prosperity preacher say that you’d probably turn the volume up and think okay, well go on, go on. Is suffering a reality? Absolutely. Is there going to be moments where we see people in desperate situations? Absolutely.
Well, who of all was the example of that? Jesus. That’s right. And he died and suffered, because suffering is a reality, so you don’t have to and he bore it all so you don’t have to. And Paul, people are always talking about, you know, this Collin Hansen guy always getting on his podcast saying that suffering is biblical, and Paul suffered so how can we say there’s no suffering? Listen, Paul was one of our apostles, he suffered again and laid the foundation so we don’t have to.
Now, you got a real, I mean, people standing, clapping, going, amen. Come on, and everyone’s fired up. Because we’ve twisted a truth. And now who’s the center of that gospel, we’re in a man-centered gospel now. And if you preach to the crowd, and you puff them up, and you tell them, the Bible’s about them, the goal of Jesus’ life was to be all about them not in a redemptive sense or a salrific sense, but to really boost their temporary reality. I mean, it’s going to be a standing ovation. So that’s another way we deal with it.
And then I would say, you know, thirdly, would be to affirm it. I’ll give you an example. I don’t know if you’ve seen the video before, but I remember shouting amen to this one when my uncle was on TV, and he blasted Joel Osteen for not being bold on Larry King or Piers Morgan. He went after him. Yeah, and what often you’ll see prosperity preachers do in certain cases is they’ll kind of virtue signal in a way and they’ll point at someone and people will rave and say, “That’s right.” And at that moment, they look like a truth teller. They look like someone who’s flying the flag of the gospel.
And so you don’t see it often, they often share stages, they often help each other, but there are moments where when they want to really rally the crowd, they will actually knock the very thing they’re selling in order to win the crowd and appear as though they’re genuine.
Hansen: Yeah, like I said, the book, it has so many different insights of this. If you’re somebody like me, this is just a foreign world to you, but a concerning world. There’s nothing like that kind of inside account that helps to explain it. I would think, Costi that death would just be the clincher argument here. You can attribute a suffering as we’ve been talking about to somebody who betrays the family or the church as judgment against them, but it doesn’t matter.
You and I are going to die. Your Uncle Benny is going to die. We’re all going to die no matter what that…unless Jesus returns and we pray for that.
Costi Hinn: Amen.
Hansen: But that’s what’s going to happen. The faith healing will not work, which isn’t to say that there won’t be healings, we believe in that. But it’s all provisional. So, I mean, how can suffering only result from a lack of faith, when death appears to be the clincher argument against that view?
Costi Hinn: Yeah, well, it doesn’t line up. And that’s why we have to ask these questions. And people have to be willing to look in the mirror and to have their belief systems unpacked and to go through the wrestling match that’s there and death was one of the most uncomfortable topics in our home, if not uncomfortable, untouchable. We didn’t talk about it, couldn’t reference it.
If it came up, immediately, and you’re going to be tempted to laugh, and I’ll let you, Collin, because it’s kind of funny, but don’t as much as you can. You know, when sickness was going around or death would happen, so for example, you ever hear somebody say the flu is going around, well, we would say and we would motion with our arm around our body we’d go that’s right it’s going around it’s going around me in Jesus’ name.
And sickness isn’t going to touch my home, sickness can’t come through my door in Jesus’ name. So in Jesus’ name was like abracadabra. Well, it was the same thing with death. If death came up, you would immediately hear like whispers of in Jesus’ name not in this house, in Jesus’ name, not in this family. Like superstitious protective chanting.
And, man, I’ll tell you, the claim on suffering and everything you’re talking about works really well in America. When you have, you know, upper middle class audiences and higher ups who kind of have their 2.5 kids and they’re healthy, they have good jobs, they live in comfort.
And you tell them that that’s God’s will, and who isn’t saying amen to that? Amen. Let me live on my beautiful street with the lined trees, and every day the trashman comes and people are mowing my lawn for me. What a great life and that is a small percentage. But what about the nearly…I forget the exact stat, but it’s somewhere near 3 billion people now in the world living on less than $2.50 a day.
Well, what do you do with that? You have to ignore it, you have to paint your theology a certain way so that it discounts it or pushes it aside. And so what you’re saying is kind of a kryptonite question. You’re asking a kryptonite question for the prosperity gospel. And the best way to deal with that is to brush it aside if you’re in the movement, but I would encourage if someone’s listening and they grew up either not knowing about this movement, or you’re dabbling in it, you’ve got to ask the kind of questions that Collin is and be willing to face the biblical realities.
Hansen: You talked about these people around the world living in poverty. Let’s go directly to what I think is the most gripping part of the book. It’s your trip to Mumbai with your Uncle Benny. You jumped in with another staffer, it took you 45 minutes in a golf cart to travel the length of the crowd on just one night. I’m assuming, Costi these were not mostly Christians who were there.
Costi Hinn: That’s right.
Hansen: I cannot get the image that you paint of the blind child. You know, his mother clasping on to him.
I cannot get that out of my head. And it makes me angry. It makes me angry now talking about it, it makes me angry thinking about it in the book, and I just kept thinking, what did these people leave hearing about Jesus? These people who don’t know him and don’t know the gospel. What did they leave hearing about Jesus?
Costi Hinn: Yeah, well first of all, we weren’t allowed to preach an explicit gospel. We weren’t. It was called the “Pray for India Rally.” It was not called a miracle crusade, it was not called a Christian crusade, it was called the “Pray for India Rally.” And they were okay if we just…we’re praying for India, everybody pray to who? Who knows. But as long as we’re praying for India.
My uncle was not allowed to get up and say, John 14:6 says, “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the light.” If he would have done that, I mean, that would have been a real Pauline moment where you’re getting up, but you’re willing to get beat, run out of town, you know, the crowd come through the barricade or the police pull you off the platform.
So they left hearing and seeing an American version of Jesus that is well-produced, that is kind of like a guru that they could add into their pantheon of Hindu gods. And unfortunately, they were able to experience all the entertainment and even the prayers, while still so many going back to their huts, and their villages, and other places with…like the mother probably holding the blind child still all the way home and in the end, they have to chalk it up to the same thing they chalk up when the Hindu gods don’t do what they’re asking.
It’s just another superstitious moment where I hope that I can please this deity. And so that was one of the most heartbreaking realities I’ll never forget the images, I’ll also unfortunately never forget going back to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, enjoying my suite and then getting on a Gulfstream IV at that time and eating the plane food and just getting on the leather seat, and letting it pass from my mind and thinking, Lord, that’s your business and suddenly, God is sovereign in that moment, right? Oh, you’re sovereign over all that. And we got to go and minister, that’s our job. And we were off to the races again, Collin.
Hansen: Where is grace in the prosperity gospel?
Costi Hinn: A footnote to the real story. Kind of like the gospel, it’s in the orbit. You know, grace gets thrown out there, but it ultimately leads to something greater, and that is the abundant life, you know, health, wealth, prosperity. You take any major doctrine, major truth, it’s in there, it’s just been put at the bottom of the page or in the end notes.
And unfortunately, that is a reality. Grace is there when it’s convenient as well. Suddenly, you know, everybody’s into grace in the prosperity gospel, and we certainly were when things get exposed or we make mistakes, and it’s, you know, we need to have grace now. Don’t be calling people out that’s not love.
That’s not grace. You’ve been shown grace you need to show grace. And I think in those moments, if you know your Bible, we’re cringing thinking, oh, I’m thinking back to Romans 6 and Romans 7, and Paul talking about grace and saying, yeah, wretched man that I am. Sure, who will deliver me from this body of death because grace abounds?
Should I sin all the more? No, let it never be. We all, kind of, we’re claiming grace when we needed it. But in the moments where we were doing what we wanted, all these things were just somewhere in the file cabinet so to speak. We pull them out when we really need them.
Hansen: You’ve seen the famous satire of your Uncle Benny from Babylon Bee visiting children’s hospitals. You actually allude to it in the end of your book in the frequently asked questions. This to me is another…you alluded to it earlier in this interview. There seems to be another easy defeater argument. You talked about it with your classmate, the swimmer.
If this is true, let’s go prove it. Let’s go show everyone this is so easy to demonstrate if we have the gift, and they’re skeptical of it, let’s just go heal people. And I’m wondering, what’s the explanation offered by your family members and others for why they don’t and can’t really heal these children.
And you do list which I thought was helpful, the big four reasons why people aren’t healed. If you want to you can recap those here as well. But what’s the answer given for that critique?
Costi Hinn: Yeah, so are you ready for an answer that’s probably going to be underwhelming for you and ridiculous, but also…
Hansen: You’re the one who knows. That’s why I’m asking.
Costi Hinn: It sells well.
So here’s the answer. “The hospital is where the spirit of death and the demon of sickness are most in control. Those people in there, they don’t have faith, so many of them won’t even keep their healing because those doctors and those nurses, they’re not filled with the Spirit of God.They don’t believe like we do.They’re not going to have faith.You know what they’ll do, they’ll come in and they’ll kill the anointing.They’ll come in, and they’ll snatch that healing.That’s what the devil wants to do.He wants to steal, kill, and destroy, and one of the best places he does that is the hospital where those doctor…that’s why I love Christian doctors, Collin.Because they’re filled with the Spirit of God, and they don’t counteract the miraculous, they enact the miraculous, they support it.And so, you know, I don’t go to hospitals these days because, you know, that spirit of darkness, those people need to have faith like the woman with the issue of blood and they need to come to the atmosphere of healing.They need to come to where we are.”
And that’s why, so end of the monologue there. That’s why you have these places. Again, probably another topic for another time, but TGC has written about this well and faithfully, so thank you. But when you get these epicenters that…we need to question at the very least when you, you know, whether it’s Bethel, and Redding, and these places, my uncle, where they’re claiming that if you come here, it’s an atmosphere of signs and wonders, get here.
I would lovingly challenge them to go out like the apostles, and to go out to hospitals, and go out to places and go, “Brothers, sisters, people, if you’re going to claim these things, nobody needs to come to your anointed atmosphere or your place of worship.You need to be going out. And being a witness you need to live Acts 1:8 in that way.”
And so that is the explanation and no, they’re not guilty. All these people of unbelief, or negative confession, or getting around negative people are not giving enough offering, or not obeying and not submitting. I think of many instances in the New Testament narratives, the Gospels where Jesus heals and is moved absolutely, by somebody’s faith, and their drive to seek Him because they are saying, “This guy is the guy. I got to get to him.”
And Jesus is so moved by that. And the woman with the issue of blood essentially, it’s really interesting Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has made you whole, or your faith has healed you, or saved you, made you well.” Beautiful moment where daughter, not woman, daughter, in other words, hey, welcome to the family of God healing physically, healing spiritually. And then we think of the man in John 5:1-17 there.
The healing at the pool of Bethesda. He doesn’t even know who Jesus was. Bless his heart, He’s just sitting there at the pool. Jesus heals him, John records. The man didn’t even perceive who Jesus was. So he didn’t have preconceived faith, he didn’t say, “Oh, this is Jesus. I have faith and Jesus was moved.
So at any given time, like you said, our sovereign God is a healer and can providentially move in the supernatural in somebody’s life, not because of their merits. That’s the beauty of grace, not only in our salvation, but even in moments where God heals. What a beautiful picture of his sovereignty, what a beautiful picture of his love, despite your sin and my sin, your unbelief and mine, “your negative confession,” all of it.
God is a loving, gracious God and He knows what is good. He knows what is best. Sometimes that doesn’t align with our version of good and best, but in the end, we can trust Him. And so I wish that more people would rest in that understanding. I think we need to preach that more, we need to talk about it more, and we do need to challenge these teachers more in that truth.
And the burden of proof is on them. They need to explain why.
Hansen: Right, right. Two last questions for you, Costi. What’s the best way for us to fight the prosperity gospel?
You just encouraged us to do so. What’s the best way to do that or to convince people to trust in the true gospel instead?
Costi Hinn: Build relationships with people who are caught up in this stuff. Don’t stay in the holy huddle. I’m not obviously, you know, trampling on biblical separation where we’re in the world, but not of it. I’m not saying go and, you know, attend a prosperity gospel church, because, you know, you’ll infiltrate that, that’s not wise. Stay on the shoreline, stay on safe ground and throw the rope to those that are in the whitewater going over the waterfall. Get yourself secure, understand the gospel, arm yourself with truth and then throw the rope of rescue to others. I would say that that’s one of the best ways.
So if you aren’t even, you know, sure how to articulate the gospel, if you’re not apprised of these issues, I would say, first arm yourself with the truth so that as you build relationships with people and walk with people, you can be a useful tool in the hand of our God.
And then I think, to convince people to trust in the true gospel, don’t ever underestimate Romans 1:16-17. Don’t ever underestimate the power of the gospel, and the power of the gospel being proclaimed in a way that is unashamed. A few weeks ago, we did a series here at the church called armed with the gospel.
And, you know, I was just preaching the gospel to Christians who know it, and I was blown away by a woman who came into my office a couple days after the sermon, and she had not really been in church for a long time. She hated church. I didn’t say anything fancy. I didn’t, you know, give some emotional call.
Not that, you know, calling for a verdict is bad or having people come forward for prayer is bad, these are all good things. We want to move people into action. And when the Lord is moving, we want to be ready. But I was blown away. It was just the gospel. And suddenly she said, “I want this. I want to believe, I want Jesus, I’m tired of my life. And I don’t want Jesus so my life will be easier. I actually want to believe, I want to follow.”
And I was sitting there blown away. A woman I’ve never met. She just heard the real gospel, and I said, “You’re a helpless sinner,”I was saying things that were not easy in the sermon. And she responded to all of it and wanted it. I’m thinking, God, if that isn’t the illustration of the sermon itself, you can save anyone, but we have to give them the true gospel. So trust its power, and be unashamed God will work in remarkable ways.
Hansen: Last question, there was a time when the prosperity gospel wasn’t widely known or trusted, especially a time before television. Could you see a collapse of confidence in these churches on the horizon?
Costi Hinn: So optimistic Costi says, yes, I do. I see that, I’m thankful, and I’m just a part of it. I’m joining in the chorus with all of you men who have been faithful. I’m kind of riding your coattails and coming to the party pretty late. You all been faithful for a long time, so yes, I think that there’s something going on and it’s great to be another spoke in the wheel, if you will.
I would say though, what we want to be aware of is history. And what history has shown is when these movements start rising, or the swell begins, and Christians start to stand up, you have teachers that are what we see at the end of 2 Peter 2, when he writes that, “Like dogs, they’ll return to their vomit.”
I’m not being rude, he’s quoting Proverbs. There will be many who get up and who say, you know, I might have gone too far. They’ll be remorseful and they’ll need good PR. And there will be those moments and then we need to not doubt them and not be rude and say, well, we’ll believe it when we see it.
Love hopes bears believes endures all things. So let’s be optimistic about change. But also, let’s be aware of not remorse only, but repentance. The the Zacchaeus moment, I’m up in a tree and I don’t care. Jesus is coming to my house, I’m paying people back. I’m running out of money. I don’t care.
I’m getting on television if I’ve got a television program, and I’m telling the whole world, you know what, I don’t care what you think anymore, I don’t care about preaching that anymore. I’m sorry, I did it. I know I can never repay everyone, but I’m going to use every ounce of life and breath I have to preach the true gospel and the gospel alone. And I’m going to go even further. I’m going to tell you about the things I was doing wrong, and I’m going to call my own brothers and sisters back to the truth.
Overarching revivalistic, it’s Pauline, it’s, it’s going from Acts 7, I think verse 53. He’s in hardy approval. Stephen’s getting martyred. They’re throwing their coats at Paul’s feet. You can picture him almost arms crossed going, “Yeah, that’s right. Let them have it these Christians.” And then what happens you keep going and read through Acts 8 and get over to Acts 9.
Suddenly Paul is crazy preaching the Son of God, going into synagogues, the Jews are like, “I don’t know about this guy.I’m not sure about him.” And it is a total 180. He was going South and now he’s going North. So yes, look for, you know, the tides to turn by God’s grace. But also, let’s not be quick to throw the parade when a few people say, “Hey, we may have gone too far.”
Let’s wait and let’s throw the parade when there is major revival and people are…their whole lives are being turned upside down. And let’s be careful that we don’t label remorse as repentance and then trust God to do his work.
Hansen: Restitution, that would be a tremendous evidence of this. You said, I mean, you mentioned in the comment, “I can’t pay everybody back,”but what would it look like to begin to divest themselves of these ill-gotten gains that have helped them to live these tremendous lifestyles?
Costi Hinn: Yeah, I mean, if I were in that position, I think let’s just think logically like believers, I think you got to sit down and you got to invite some guys in the room who are from outside your camp, I think you need to start submitting and you literally take all the money and all the resources and go okay, what is the one thing, and this would take strategy, and brainstorming, and good wisdom, and prayer, what’s the one thing we can do with what we have left?
We’re not going to salvage it all, but we’re not focused on the past anymore. This is repentance. What’s the one thing we can do? What project are we going to start together and begin to proclaim the true gospel? What process of restoration are we going to be? Who’s on the board? Who are we submitting to? Are we putting things out now publicly that are completely opposite? Are we losing friendships? Are people angry while others are in tears? Are others confused? I mean, the cleanup process would be years and years. But isn’t that the beauty of revival, and of restoration, and of repentance is? He might have to go on a tour for a bit and preach the truth and it comes with a cost.
Luke 14. Remember Jesus, I’ll make this last point is he’s got the multitudes following him. He’s fed the signs and wonders, they want signs and they want food. And he turns to them Luke 14:25-35, turns to them and says, it’s like a cinematic moment. The camera pans and Jesus turns to all these people and goes, “If you don’t hate your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, and even your own life,” and what he means is, of course, a lesser love.
“If you don’t love me more, more than anything, you cannot be my disciple.” That is the picture of restitution. I’m forsaking everything and I’m coming after Jesus no matter what.
Hansen: My guest on The Gospel Coalition Podcast has been Costi Hinn. His book is God, Greed, and the Prosperity Gospel:How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies.
Published by Zondervan. Costi, thank you for the book. Thank you for your time with The Gospel Coalition Podcast.
Costi Hinn: Thank you, Collin.