William Tyndale is a name you may or may not be familiar with. Tyndale was responsible for translating the Bible into English years before the King James translators completed their work in 1609. In order to make peace with the Pope, King Henry VIII signed an order that resulted in Tyndale first being strangled (it was considered a merciful act to spare the person the pain of the fire) and then his body burned at the stake. Imagine someone reminding him as he was being strangled, “You can have your best life now.”
The most glaring problem with statements such as those above is they are found nowhere in the Bible. What we do find are statements such as, “Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1); “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20); “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). We read the story of Stephen being stoned to death because he dared to proclaim the truth of the gospel before the Jewish rulers. James wrote, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:14). There seems to be a pretty big disconnect between the “wonderful life” proponents and scripture. Listen to the prayer requests in any prayer meeting and you will be struck by the difficulties and suffering many Christians are going through.
But, you may counter, doesn’t Romans 8:28 promise that “all things work together for good to them that love the Lord”? Yes, it does say that; but look carefully at that statement. God is working out His will, and the ultimate result will be “good”; but it is a mistake to assume the reference is to our individual lives. What it does assure us of is that when we love God and seek to do His will, we can be certain that He will use our contribution, so to speak, in the form of a surrendered life to work out His good and perfect will. That is the sort of misinterpretation that can occur when we put ourselves at the center of our thinking rather than God.
The real danger in all of this is that promising someone that if he or she will only become a Christian, his or her life will be happy and prosperous. That bears no resemblance whatever to the gospel as it is presented in scripture. When responding to the report that Pilate had ordered the deaths of men in Galilee as they offered sacrifices, Jesus asked, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent, you will likewise perish!” (Luke 13:1-3).
Repentance. There is a word that isn’t used much in pulpits today. But repentance, and repentance alone, must precede salvation. Repentance for what reason? Because of the sin for which every single one of us stands condemned before a righteous and holy God.
If a non-Christian responds to the message that God wants to improve his life and multiply his happiness, what do you think will happen when persecution comes? The gospel is not God’s means for enhancing and improving our present lives; it was given to save us from the wrath of God that will ultimately fall on all unbelievers: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27).
Man’s fall from grace and fellowship was utter and complete: “The carnal (i.e., unregenerate) mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” (Romans 8:7) Unregenerate man’s condition is terminal because of sin; and sin has to be dealt with the same way a cancerous tumor is dealt with: it is surgically removed and the surrounding area radiated. It goes WAY beyond God simply having a “wonderful plan for your life.”
Just how serious is He? Serious enough that He poured out the entire sum of His wrath against all unrighteousness on Jesus as He hung on the cross. The cross is the only path to forgiveness and redemption.
And there just isn't any way you can sugarcoat that.