In a popular sermon from YouTube, a pastor shares a sermon about expectancy. At the surface, his message seems innocent and genuine, but when it is scrutinized closely, it is obvious that the pastor preaches a false gospel. The sermon is a brief exposition from the pastor of a large church explaining that his congregation needs to expect great things from God. Upon examining the content of his message, however, is it apparent that this pastor preaches a version of the therapeutic gospel that can be accurately described as the expectancy gospel.
The expectancy gospel distorts the true Gospel in all three of the major aspects of the Gospel. For example, the gospel story according to the expectancy gospel says that humans do not have the material possessions they want because they do not expect to get them. Sin is forgotten, asserting that human pessimism is essentially the problem with humanity. The gospel announcement is altered by explaining that God simply wants to unleash material blessing on those who await it. The picture of the gospel community is tainted by insisting that Christians should only be friends with people who encourage the Christian to excel. The expectancy gospel, as explained in this sermon, does not even include any of what Jesus has done for the world. This gospel assumes that God wants to unleash blessing on all people simply because of his goodness.
The expectancy gospel is attractive to people for many reasons. First and foremost, everyone wants to be blessed physically. If someone is told that they can be blessed by the creator of the world simply by being optimistic, he or she will believe it. In addition, this counterfeit is attractive because it claims that a person “will draw out God’s blessing and favor” when he or she “[starts] expecting to accomplish [his or her] dreams” (Quote from the video). The expectancy gospel is also attractive because it eliminates many of the supposedly negative consequences of the gospel. While Jesus explains that Christians will be hated by the world, the expectancy gospel simply encourages one to expect the persecution to stop. The expectancy gospel claims that God always sends blessings to those who expect it.
Despite the attractive nature of the expectancy gospel, there are many ways to counter it. Foundationally, the expectancy gospel is man-centered. If a person reads any of Scripture they will learn that the entire universe has been created for God and his glory, rather than the physical pleasure of man. Additionally, the expectancy gospel confuses the nature of God’s blessing. This gospel claims that humans should aim to receive God’s material blessing instead of receiving Jesus. The true Gospel asserts that humans should seek Jesus Christ and his glory in their lives, and God will supply with them with his infinite joy. Christians are also called to love God because of his good nature, not because of his good gifts. The expectancy gospel assumes that a person needs to expect God’s blessing before they love him. The expectancy gospel is a humanistic type of counterfeit gospel that completely annihilates the true Gospel message of Christ and his redemptive work on the cross, replacing essentials of Christianity with a lie.