The hundredfold return doctrine is a false teaching that was created by prosperity preachers to increase their financial offerings by appealing to the greed and gullibility of their followers. The basis of the error is that whatever you give God, He owes you one hundred times whatever you gave.
The doctrine is a distortion of Mark 10:28-30:
Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake, and the gospel’s,
who shall not receive an hundredfold now in this time– houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions–and in the age to come, eternal life.
Surprisingly, people created by God have interpreted the above Scriptures to mean if they give something to their Creator, He is obligated to literally give them back a hundred times what they gave.
At first glance one might think there couldn’t be too many people who would believe such a thing. But this doctrine attracts multitudes of foolish Christians who don’t understand or appreciate God, His word, or His ways.
The Basic Twisting of the Hundredfold Return
As usual the prosperity preachers overlook the character of God and the testimony of the Scriptures to justify their greed.
It is assumed by a casual reading of Mark 10:29, 30 that God committed Himself to make financially rich anyone who has the sense to take advantage of this unbelievable deal.
Yet a careful reading of that passage and its parallel passage, Luke 18:28-30, adds light:
And Peter said, “Behold, we have left our own homes, and followed You.” And He said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God,
who shall not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.”
Instead of saying hundredfold, Luke uses the phrase “many times as much.” That’s the New American Standard Bible. King James Version uses “manifold.”
“Hundredfold,” “many times as much,” and “manifold” mean the same thing. They mean abundance. None mean 100 x 1.
Why Prosperity Preachers Teach the Hundredfold Error the Way They Do
Why do prosperity preachers use “hundredfold” instead of “manifold” or “many times as much”? It is because hundredfold is more easily manipulated for greedy purposes.
The greedy heart can more easily picture 100 x 1 (hundredfold) than simple abundance (manifold). And many times as much is a poor marketing tool. It isn’t catchy at all.
Furthermore, manifold isn’t enough for the greedy heart. It’s too inconclusive. In God’s eyes manifold could be only 10 x 1 or 3 x 1.
Think about it. If you were covetous and arrogant enough to think God owed you a return on your giving, would you choose a hundredfold return, or one to be determined by God?
The greedy, arrogant heart will choose 100 x 1 every time.
The Hundredfold Heresy Is Arrogant
Scriptures such as Luke 17:10 are ignored:
So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.
Prosperity preachers and their offspring are arrogant and self-centered at the core. They are spiritual versions of people who once believed the earth is the center of our solar system and that the sun revolves around the earth.
Similar to that scientific error, these make the spiritual error of thinking they are the center of God’s creation, and He revolves around them.
This is why they have such little respect for God, and so little fear of the One who holds their miserable fate in His sovereign hand. They don’t exist for Him; He exists for them.
Consequently, any Scripture or Bible example that conflicts with their greed and formulaic way of interacting with God is ignored or creatively interpreted. This is done even when their outcome scorches the Scriptures, crucifies Jesus afresh, and body slams common sense.
They can do this because they know their audience has a vested interest in believing the lie of the hundredfold return.
Yes, my words are blunt. But for good reason.
Why the Hundredfold Heresy Is a Doctrine of Hell
1. The Hundredfold Return Heresy Is Blasphemous
Anyone who thinks God owes him anything except everlasting punishment reduces God to his servant instead of his King.
Religious sinners routinely change the truth of God into a lie. Their love of sin won’t allow them to accept God’s holiness and sovereignty; so they simply create another god.
They give him the name of the true God, but the nature of a false god. This is the graven image of the American Church. Anyone who believes in the hundredfold heresy is guilty of serving a false god.
2. The Hundredfold Return Heresy Is Ungrateful
It is impossible to be grateful to someone for giving us what is rightfully ours. The hundredfold return heresy fills us with fleshly pride. It makes us feel superior to God by convincing us that we can obligate Him to satisfy our lusts.
When their Christian witchcraft doesn’t work, they start accusing God. I am amazed and heartbroken at the number of Christians who are bitter against God because “He hasn’t come through for them.” 1
What utter nonsense! Hasn’t come through for them?
The Almighty God and Creator voluntarily stripped Himself of divine power and came to live in dangerous vulnerability on a rebellious and cursed planet for the very people who were rebelling against His rule.
He climaxed His unfathomable love for His enemies by offering Himself to be beaten, humiliated, tortured, mocked, and finally murdered by the slow and cruel death of crucifixion to save us from our sins.
And now do we arrogantly answer His unearned love by accusing Him of not coming through for us? We do if we believe God owes us anything besides everlasting fire!
Thus the hundredfold heresy minimizes what God has done for us, and it seduces Christians into judging God as morally inferior to themselves (i.e., “I’ve done my part; God hasn’t done His.”).
3. The Hundredfold Return Heresy Is Man-Made
Do you really believe in the hundredfold heresy? You do? Why?
Is it because you have done an exhaustive biblical study and concluded this doctrine is of God? I can tell you boldly and without fear of refutation that you have done no such thing.
A stranger has taken you up 10,000 feet in a plane named Greed. He has put a pack on your back and told you it’s a parachute. You’ve jumped out the plane with no proof that you’re wearing a good parachute, or even if you’re wearing a parachute at all. All you have is the word of a stranger.
You haven’t studied the hundredfold return doctrine.
You’ve merely taken the word of a blind teacher. You, like so many others, have been mesmerized by the manipulations and concocted testimonies of greedy preachers.
Who do you know who can prove the hundredfold heresy is working in her life? Who do you know who can show you his tax return and prove he has ever received a hundredfold increase on his financial giving?
The only people who can do this are preachers who teach this heresy. And why does it work for them? It works because they have mailing lists of several hundred thousand greedy and gullible Christians who regularly answer their requests for money.
I guarantee you that if you give me a mailing list of a hundred thousand gullible Christians, I can make the hundredfold heresy work for me! It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out.
4. The Hundredfold Return Heresy Is Inaccurate
Our text of Mark 10:30 obviously refers to spiritual and not natural returns. Jesus promised that whoever leaves everything and follows Him will receive in this life a hundredfold of whatever he leaves. Jesus mentioned houses, siblings, parents, spouses, children, and lands.
It may be heretically possible to squeeze a hundred-acre return out of this Scripture. But what about the rest of the verse?
Was God literally promising 100 x 2 parents, 100 x 1 spouse, 100 x 1 little brother? This ridiculous interpretation doesn’t fit so snugly after all, does it?
5. The Hundredfold Return Heresy Is Silly
I heard a recording by a Southern California money preacher exhorting his followers to keep a record of what they had given God so they would know how much was in their heavenly bank account.
This is beyond ridiculous. It’s downright stupid. Only the most ignorant and gullible person imaginable would seriously consider such foolishness.
Greed, however, has a way of stripping us of common sense.
Plus, this doctrine is silly because it requires us to deal with God as a legalistic banker instead of a compassionate Father. We can receive from the Banker only what we have contributed (times 100, of course).
I ask you the questions the apostle Paul asked the Galatians:
O foolish Galatians! [prosperity saints]. Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth?
…Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?Galatians 3:1, 3
You who prefer God as a legalistic banker have placed yourselves under a system of law. You have refused His grace for a system of rules and human perfection.
Do You Really Believe God Owes You Anything?
There is no place for mercy in the legalistic system of prosperity preachers. You either become a spiritual lawyer, an expert in manipulating and flowing with impersonal laws that supposedly rule the universe, or you suffer the consequences.
Thanks, but no thanks. I prefer the grace and mercy of God instead of the mystical legalism of money preachers.
If you insist on dealing with God as a banker, you better hope you never get a fatal disease.
You’ve never contributed health to God, so how can you get a return? Unless, of course, you’ve found a way to convert some of the money Almighty God owes you into a cure.
That would solve your problem. But how would you determine how much of your money to give Him for the cure?
Where’s my ledger? Let’s see…hmm, what’s the going rate on cancer of the pancreas?
God owes me $3,464,929.13, 200 cups of water, 100 hammers, 100 Frisbees, 100 yo-yo’s, 300 hospital visits, 100 fake Rolex watches, 6,000 meals, and 200 rides to work.
Uh oh. It has been determined in the fine print of the contract that everything you gave to God was first given to you by God. Here’s the verbiage:
And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?1 Corinthians 4:7
Here’s another place where God explicitly states He owes no one anything:
Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.Romans 10:35-36
The way I read this is if there is anything in your heavenly bank account, it’s there primarily because of God’s grace and mercy and graciousness rather than any so-called deposit you may have made. So without God’s goodness, you have absolutely nothing you can withdraw from the heavenly bank account to cure your cancer.
Have You Considered How Much You Owe God?
Plus, we need to talk about what you owe the heavenly bank. Who knows? You may owe the bank more than what you have deposited.
You owe the heavenly bank at least the following:
- You owe God for your physical body and its maintenance.
- You owe God for your mind and its maintenance.
- You owe God for your spirit and its maintenance.
- You owe God for the earth and its maintenance.
- You owe God for the universe and its maintenance.
- You owe God for every godly pleasure you have ever experienced.
- You owe God for you not presently being in hell.
- You owe God for Him sending Jesus to die for your sins.
- You owe God for every act of mercy He has ever given to you.
We could go on this road for a long time. Once we reach the destination of final reckoning, we can determine who owes whom and demand immediate payment. Do you really want to go down this accounting road?
6. The Hundredfold Return Heresy Is Unscriptural
Even if we use Mark 10 and “hundredfold” instead of Luke 18 and “many times as much”, it is obvious that prosperity preachers are either spiritually ignorant or dishonest. I believe they are both.
If you read Mark 10:17-31 and Luke 18:18-30, you clearly see that Jesus had just used the example of the rich young ruler as a warning for us to flee covetousness.
In this example, a rich guy wanted to follow Jesus, but the Lord exposed the man’s love of money. God told him to get rid of his wealth and give it to the poor, and he could then follow Him. The man couldn’t do it and Jesus explained to everyone present that He would not tolerate being second to money.
Yet, surprisingly, money preachers teach that Jesus was actually trying to make the rich ruler richer by leading him into the hundredfold return error. This is another proof that prosperity preachers are stunningly blind to even the most obvious spiritual truths.
Deliver yourself from their evil influence. If you do not, they will lead you to eternal ruin! Get their books out of your house and their teachings out of your ears! Their good doesn’t justify their bad. It only takes a little poison to harm you.
Don’t let the eternal fate of your soul be determined by the flip of a prosperity preacher’s coin.
1. I believe this bitterness against God is a strong proof that many of them were never children of God.
- Was Jesus Rich?
- The Greedy Version of “Who We Are In Christ”
- Is the Wealth of the Wicked Laid Up For the Righteous?
Books by Eric
Eric has written a bunch of books. You can check them out here.
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