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Does God want us to be rich and have a “BIG HOUSE?”

THIS WORLD IS NOT OUR HOME!!!

From time to time we get comments that need to be responded to in depth. This is one case.

Demonknight2 SAID,,,,

“Hello, Damon. Since you clearly don’t want comments that say anything nice about the guys you’re against, I won’t say anything. But I have to ask you SERIOUSLY your personal opinion or what you think the Bible says about the issue… Perhaps God doesn’t necassarily want ALL believers to be BILLIONARES. But… Do you really think that as Christians, the only things we’re worthy of having (in God’s eyes) are the SAME things non-believers have or LESS than what non-believers have??? In other words, why would God ask believers to engage in things completely outside the realm of what the rest of the world is doing, then expect those SAME people to eat mud pies for dinner, AND LIKE IT?????? Again, are you saying that the God we serve is a “turn the other cheek & eat hambergers for dinner & thank me for it” type of God, while the person that slapped you is laughing with his friends about it & eating steak & has NOTHING to do with God??? Honestly, if God is going to contrast the size of our wallet to whether we love & trust in him, then perhaps it’s not us who are putting stock in money, maybe it’s really God! OK, but that sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it??? But equally ridiculous? The notion that God wants, condones, or commands that all believers be LESS than “the world” even if the subject IS MONEY!!! Be HONEST… Do you want to serve a God that “sees” you as not being worthy to have a house BIGGER than a person who OUTWORDLY MOCKS GOD???? – Thanks”

I will do my best to show how Demonknight2 needs a total paradigm shift in his understanding. Because his case is levied against mere strawmen arguments (not the real beliefs of those he opposes) that he has created in his own mind against those that do not believe in the Prosperity Gospel and the Word of Faith Movement.

The Lord has blessed some to be rich and some not. Mainline Christianity does not say that “God does not want us rich” NOR does it posit that “God wants us to live in poverty”. But the Word of God is clear that we cannot serve both God and Money (mammon), and Gods declares “chose this day whom you will serve.” We are not to store up for ourselves treasures on this earth but in heaven. It is harder for a rich man to get to heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of needle. This is not because being rich is a sin. But because earthly riches have earthly strings (the deceitfulness of riches) attached, instead of the pursuit of sanctification (the race set before us), is wrought with many inherent problems. But the Lord does sometimes bless is followers with great material possessions in this world, if it be his will for that believer. Given that they are mature in the faith and have their eyes fixed on Jesus and are serving Him and not “serving money.”

THE BIBLE HAS MANY WARNINGS ABOUT EARTHLY RICHES: 

Ecc 5:10 He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is an evil disease.

Ecc 6:2 A man to whom God hath given riches, wealth, and honor, so that he Wanteth nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, yet God giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it: this is vanity, and it is also vanity.

Ecc 12:7-8 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall returned to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity

1Ti 6:17-19 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded; nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Jas 1:10-11 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

THE BIBLE HAS WARNINGS ABOUT THE FLEETINGNESS OF LIFE

Psa 102:11 My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.

Jas 4:13-15 Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

Psa 144:3-4 LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him! Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.

1Ch 29:15 For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.

TIME IS JUST A PUZZLE PIECE IN ETERNITY!!!

AND Our days are short and do quickly fade Job_14:2; Psa_90:9, Psa_102:11, Psa_144:4; Ecc_6:12; Isa_40:6-8; Jam_4:14

For we are aliens and strangers to this world. This world IS NOT our home!!!

We are merely pilgrims on a pilgrimage and sojourners in a foreign land. Gen_47:9; Psa_39:12, Psa_119:19; Heb_11:13-16; 1Pe_2:11 ; 1Pe_1:17

The Lord tells us in the sermon on the Mount that we are the salt and light of the world. This means He was telling us that this world is not our home. Matthew 5:13-16. 1Corinthians 15 gloriously proclaims the resurrection life that is to come for those who believe (trust, faith is not a force) on Jesus.

BUT UNBELIVERS ARE RESSURECTED TO DIE THE SECOND DEATH Rev. 20:6,14

1Pe 1:23-24 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:

Therefore, “Mat 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The Lord is not concerned about big houses in this life. He is concerned that our pursuit of earthly riches in this life will cause us to miss out on the home He has prepared for us in Heaven. If I where to suffer for in abject poverty for a hundred thousand years in this life. It would not compare to the riches of His Eternal Kingdom

I THINK THE QUESTION IS,,,,, WILL YOU HAVE YOUR BEST LIFE NOW,,, OR LATER?

http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2009/05/13/this-world-is-not-our-home/

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Promise Keepers, Kenneth Hagan and Freemasonry

Promise Keepers has taken pagan worship one step further. The first exposure of P.K. that I read documented that fact that the Promise Keepers distributed a book filled with sexual imagery of a very perverted sort. This article revolves around the pagan worship of the phallus (male reproductive organ). The story starts in July 1997 when the Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree of Freemasonry in it’s official publication called ‘The Scottish Rite Journal’ made a call to raise funds to restore the Masonic obelisk in Washington D.C. and also placed it on the cover of the magazine. This vile structure has been worshipped by pagans for centuries and it represents the phallus which is also associated with sun and serpent worship. It was designed by Freemasons, named after a Freemason and the cornerstone laid in Masonic ritual. Therefore it is a sexual, pagan, satanic, Masonic idol that Christians should identify and avoid. But these facts have been ignored and Christians are being deceived about the nature of this idol. Kenneth Hagan followed the Masonic lodge by placing the obelisk on his magazine cover the very next month! I do not believe that this is a coincidence and that a man such as Hagan who is well over 50 years older then me (he just turned 80) and was in Ministry well before I was even born and who has established International Bible colleges would be ignorant of the true nature of the obelisk.

obelisk
This is a photo taken from the ‘Scottish Rite Journal’ published by the Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree of Freemasonry. 

 

 

The very next month in July 1997, Kenneth Hagan followed after the Mason’s example by placing the Masonic obelisk on the cover of his magazine. The article about the obelisk in the Masonic magazine mentioned that at the Grand Masters Conference held in Tulsa, Oklahoma (the headquarters for both 33rd degree Freemasons Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagan) a call was made to Grand Lodges to raise money to restore the world’s tallest masonry structure. Were Hagan and Roberts present at this meeting? Anyone willing to come forward? Another significant clue is the key word ‘illuminate’ used by the Word of Faith magazine to describe the cover. The Illuminati has been associated with the obelisk a long time before. See the image below, published in 1982, for the obelisk-illuminati connection.

curse

 

wofalbertopk

 

 

Copyright 1994 by the Christian Research Institute. Editor-in-chief, Elliot Miller. Used by permission. For more information on the Christian Research Institute, go to http://web.archive.org/web/20030212144905/http://www.equip.org/.

“Ye Are Gods?”
Orthodox and Heretical Views on the Deification of Man

Robert M. Bowman, Jr.

from the Christian Research Journal, Winter/Spring 1987, page 18. The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is Elliot Miller.

Is the belief that men were created to be “gods,” either in this life or in some future exaltation, a Christian teaching? Is it in any sense Christian to speak of the “deification” of man – to say that God created or redeemed man in order to become deity? What do various religious groups who use such language today mean? Are they all saying the same thing? Are all who use such terminology heretics? If not, how do we tell the difference? All of these questions will be addressed in this article.

DIFFERENT IDEAS OF DEIFICATION

The first step in answering these interrelated questions is to recognize that talk about men being gods cannot be isolated from basic world views, or conceptions of the world and its relation to God. Norman Geisler and William Watkins have pointed out that there are seven basic world views: atheism (no God), polytheism (many gods), pantheism (God is all), panentheism (God is in all), finite godism (a finite god made the world), deism (a God who does not do miracles created the world), and theism, or monotheism (a God who does miracles created the world), which is the biblical view (and is held by orthodox Jews and Muslims as well as Christians).[1] Not all doctrines can be neatly categorized into one of these seven world views, since some people do hold to combinations of two views; but such positions are inherently inconsistent, and usually one world view is dominant.
            In this article our concern will be with doctrines of deification which claim to be strictly Christian. (This means that we will not discuss, for example, New Age concepts of deification.) Varieties of such “Christian” views on deification can be found among adherents of monotheism, polytheism, and panentheism.

Monotheistic Deification

It may surprise some to learn that a monotheistic doctrine of deification was taught by many of the church fathers, and is believed by many Christians today, including the entire Eastern Orthodox church. In keeping with monotheism, the Eastern orthodox do not teach that men will literally become “gods” (which would be polytheism). Rather, as did many of the church fathers,[2] they teach that men are “deified” in the sense that the Holy Spirit dwells within Christian believers and transforms them into the image of God in Christ, eventually endowing them in the resurrection with immortality and God’s perfect moral character.
            It may be objected that to classify as monotheistic any doctrine which refers to men in some positive sense as “gods” is self-contradictory; and strictly speaking such an objection is valid. Indeed, later in this study it shall be argued that such terminology is not biblical. However, the point here is that however inconsistent and confusing the language that is used (and it is inconsistent), the substance of what the Eastern Orthodox are seeking to express when they speak of deification is actually faithful to the monotheistic world view. The language used is polytheistic, and in the light of Scripture should be rejected; but the doctrine intended by this language in the context of the teachings of the fathers and of Eastern Orthodoxy is quite biblical, and is thus not actually polytheistic.
            Thus, it should not be argued that anyone who speaks of “deification” necessarily holds to a heretical view of man. Such a sweeping judgment would condemn many of the early church’s greatest theologians (e.g., Athanasius, Augustine), as well as one of the three main branches of historic orthodox Christianity in existence today. On the other hand, some doctrines of deification are most certainly heretical, because they are unbiblical in substance as well as in terminology.

Polytheistic Deification

Two examples of polytheistic doctrines of deification are the teachings of Mormonism and Armstrongism, although adherents of these religions generally do not admit to being polytheists.
            The Mormons are very explicit in their “scriptures” that there are many Gods; for example, the three persons of the Trinity are regarded as three “Gods.”[3] Since they believe that many Gods exist but at present worship only one – God the Father – at least one Mormon scholar has admitted with qualifications that their doctrine could be termed “henotheistic.”[4] Henotheism is a variety of polytheism in which there are many gods, but only one which should be worshipped. Thus, the meaning of deification in Mormonism is radically different than that of the church fathers who used similar terms, despite Mormon arguments to the contrary.[5]
            The Worldwide Church of God of Herbert W. Armstrong (who died early in 1986) claims to believe in only one God. However, Armstrongism defines “God” as a collective term (like “church” or “family”) referring to a family of distinct beings all having the same essential nature. Presently this “God family” consists of two members, God the Father and Christ, but it is their plan to reproduce themselves in human beings and so add millions or even billions to the God family.[6] Therefore, by the normal use of words on which our categorizations are based, Armstrong’s world view is also polytheistic.

Panentheistic Deification

An important example of a panentheistic doctrine of deification within professing Christianity is Union Life, founded by Norman Grubb, who at one time was a respected evangelical leader. In 1980 Cornerstone, an evangelical magazine, ran an article arguing that Union Life was teaching pantheism or panentheism.[7] Union Life has attempted to argue[8] that panentheism, unlike pantheism, is not heretical (despite Grubb’s admission that he does not know the definition of pantheism![9]). However, neither pantheism nor panentheism separates the creation from the essential nature of the Creator, though panentheism does posit a differentiation in which the creation is the expression of the Creator. The heretical nature of Union Life is made evident by such statements as, “there is only One Person in the universe,” “everything is God on a certain level of manifestation,” and “Nothing but God exists!”[10] Therefore, Union Life’s claim to following the tradition of the church fathers[11] is no more valid than that of the Mormons.

Positive Confession: Monotheistic or Polytheistic?

Not all views of the deification of man are easily classifiable. Perhaps the most difficult doctrine of deification to categorize into one of the seven basic world views is that of the “positive confession” or “faith” teachers, including Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Frederick K.C. Price, Charles Capps, Casey Treat, and many others.
            In brief, the “faith” teaching maintains that God created man in “God’s class,” as “little gods,” with the potential to exercise the “God kind of faith” in calling things into existence and living in prosperity and success as sovereign beings. We lost this opportunity by rebelling against God and receiving Satan’s nature. To correct this situation, Christ became a man, died spiritually (receiving Satan’s nature), went to Hell, was “born again,” rose from the dead with God’s nature, and then sent the Holy Spirit so that the Incarnation could be duplicated in believers, thus fulfilling their calling to be little gods. Since we are called to experience this kind of life now, we should experience success in everything we do, including health and financial prosperity.
            Some aspects of this teaching have been documented and compared with Scripture in articles published in previous issues of this journal.[12] Regarding the claim that men are “little gods,” there is no question (as shall be demonstrated shortly) that the language used is unbiblical, but are the ideas being conveyed contrary to Scripture as well? Specifically, is the world view of the “faith” teaching monotheistic or polytheistic?
            A simple answer to this question is somewhat elusive. The positive confession teachers have made statements that seem polytheistic, and yet often in the same paragraph contradict themselves by asserting the truth of monotheism.[13] At least two positive confession teachers, Frederick K.C. Price and Casey Treat, have admitted that men are not literally gods and have promised not to use this terminology again.[14] In many cases, the dominant world view appears to be monotheism, with their teachings tending at times toward a polytheistic world view. It seems best, then, to regard the “faith” teaching as neither soundly monotheistic nor fully polytheistic, but instead as a confused mixture of both world views.
            This means that the “faith” teaching of deification cannot be regarded as orthodox. Their concept of deification teaches that man has a “sovereign will” comparable to God’s, and that man can therefore exercise the “God kind of faith” and command things to be whatever he chooses.[15] At least one “faith” teacher, Kenneth Copeland, seems to regard God as finite, since he says, speaking of Adam, “His body and God were exactly the same size.”[16] Again, it is the context in which the doctrine appears that determines whether the teaching is orthodox or heretical. In this case, there seems to be significant evidence to show that some, at least, of the “faith” teachers have a heretical view of God, as well as a heretical view of the nature of the believer. Nevertheless, there also appears to be evidence that not all of the “faith” teachers are heretical in the same sense as, say, Mormonism or Armstrongism.
            At this point we will turn to the biblical teaching relating to this subject to see whether the Bible teaches deification at all.

THE BIBLICAL TEACHING

All of the various doctrines of deification discussed above appeal to the same passages of Scripture and the same biblical themes to validate their teaching. Besides the passages where men are called “gods” or “sons of God,” there are the biblical themes concerning men in the image of God; the close relationship between Christ and Christians; and the statement in 2 Peter 1:4 that Christians are “partakers of the divine nature.” In this article we shall discuss briefly each of these texts and themes.

Are Men Called “Gods” in Scripture?

The Bible in both Old and New Testaments explicitly and repeatedly affirms that there is only one God (e.g.,Deut. 4:35-39; Isa. 43:10; 44:6-8; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; 1 Tim. 2:5; James 2:19). Therefore, the Bible most definitely rejects any sort of polytheism, including henotheism.
            The Scriptures also very clearly teach that God is an absolutely unique being who is distinct from the world as its Creator (e.g.,Gen. 1:1; John 1:3; Rom. 1:25; Heb. 11:3). This teaching rules out pantheism and panentheism, according to which the world is either identical to God or an essential aspect of God. Since He is eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient, God is totally unique, so that there is none even like God (e.g.,Ps. 102:25-27; Isa. 40-46; Acts 17:24-28).[17] The Bible, then, unmistakably teaches a monotheistic world view.
            In the face of so many explicit statements that there is only one God, and in light of His uniqueness, it may seem surprising that anyone would claim that the Bible teaches that men are gods. However, there are a few passages in Scripture which seem to call men “god” or “gods.” Most or all of these, however, are irrelevant to any doctrine of deification. In practice, the question of whether the Bible ever calls men “gods” in a positive sense focuses exclusively on Psalm 82:6 (“I said, ‘you are gods'”) and its citation by Jesus in John 10:34-35.
            The usual view among biblical expositors for centuries is that Psalm 82 refers to Israelite judges by virtue of their position as judges representing God; it is, therefore, a figurative usage which applies only to those judges and does not apply to men or even believers in general. If this interpretation is correct, Psalm 82:6 is also irrelevant to any doctrine of Christian deification.
            An alternative interpretation agrees that the “gods” are Israelite judges, but sees the use of the term “gods” as an ironic figure of speech. Irony is a rhetorical device in which something is said to be the case in such a way as to make the assertion seem ridiculous (compare Paul’s ironic “you have become kings” in 1 Corinthians 4:8, where Paul’s point is that they had not become kings). According to this interpretation, the parallel description of the “gods” as “sons of the Most High” (which, it is argued, is not in keeping with the Old Testament use of the term “sons” of God), the condemnation of the judges for their wicked judgment, and especially the statement, “Nevertheless, you will die as men,” all point to the conclusion that the judges are called “gods” in irony.
            If the former interpretation is correct, then in John 10:34-35 Jesus would be understood to mean that if God called wicked judges “gods” how much more appropriate is it for Him, Jesus, to be called God, or even the Son of God. If the ironic interpretation of Psalm 82:6 is correct, then in John 10:34-35 Jesus’ point would still be basically the same. It is also possible that Jesus was implying that the Old Testament application of the term “gods” to wicked judges was fulfilled (taking “not to be broken” to mean “not to be unfulfilled,” cf. John 7:23) in Himself as the true Judge (cf. John 5:22,27-30; 9:39).[18] Those wicked men were, then, at best called “gods” and “sons of the Most High” in a special and figurative sense; and at worst they were pseudo-gods and pseudo-sons of God. Jesus, on the other hand, is truly God (cf. John 1:1,18; 20:28; 1 John 5:20) and the unique Son of God (John 10:36; 20:31; etc.)
            Neither the representative nor the ironic interpretation of Psalm 82 allows it (or John 10:34-35) to be understood to teach that men were created or redeemed to be gods. Nor is there any other legitimate interpretation which would allow for such a conclusion. The Israelite judges were wicked men condemned to death by the true God, and therefore were not by any definition of deification candidates for godhood.
            If, then, the deification of man is to be found in Scripture, it will have to be on the basis of other biblical texts or themes, as Scripture gives men the title of “gods” only in a figurative or condemnatory sense.

The Image of God: An Exact Duplicate?

One biblical teaching upon which great emphasis is usually laid by those who teach some form of the deification of man is the doctrine of man as created and redeemed in the image of God. Of the many examples that could be given, two will have to suffice. Casey Treat’s claim that man is an “exact duplicate” of God is based on his understanding of the meaning of “image” in Genesis 1:26-27.[19] The Mormon apologetic for their doctrine that God is an exalted Man and that men can also become Gods typically appeals to the image of God in man, and to the parallel passage in Genesis 5:1-3 where Adam is said to have begotten Seth “in his own likeness, after his own image” (Genesis 5:1-3).[20]
            These claims raise two questions. Does the creation of man in the image of God imply that God Himself is an exalted man (as in Mormonism), or perhaps a spirit with the physical form or shape of a man (as in Armstrongism)? And does the image of God in man imply that men may become “gods”? There are several reasons why such conclusions are incorrect.
            First, there are the biblical statements which say that God is not a man (Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Hos.11:9). Second, there is the biblical teaching on the attributes of God already mentioned, according to which God obviously cannot now or ever have been a man (except in the sense that the second person of the triune God became a man by taking upon Himself a second nature different from the nature of deity). Third, in the context of Genesis 1:26-27 and 5:1-3 there is one very important difference between the relationship between God and Adam on the one hand and Adam and Seth on the other hand: Adam was created or made by God, while Seth was begotten by Adam. To create or make something in the image or likeness of someone means to make something of a different kind that nevertheless somehow “pictures” or represents that someone (cf. Luke 20:24-25). It is therefore a mistake to reason backwards from the creation of man in God’s image to deduce the nature of God. Genesis 1:26-27 is telling us something about man, not about God.
            Besides the passages in Genesis (see also 9:6), the Old Testament says nothing else about the image of God. The New Testament teaches that man is still in God’s image (1 Cor. 11:7; James 3:9), but also says that, in some unique sense, Christ is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15). Christians are by virtue of their union with Christ being conformed to the image of God and of Christ resulting finally (after this life) in glorification (2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 8:29-30), which includes moral perfection (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10) and an immortal physical body like Christ’s (1 Cor. 15:49; cf. Phil. 3:21).
            Orthodox biblical theologians and scholars do have some differences of opinion as to how best to define and explain what these passages mean by the “image of God.”[21] However, these differences are relatively minor, and do not obscure the basic truth of the image, which is that man was created as a physical representation (not a physical reproduction or “exact duplicate”) of God in the world. As such, he was meant to live forever, to know God personally, to reflect His moral character – His love – through human relationships, and to exercise dominion over the rest of the living creatures on the earth (Gen. 1:28-30; cf. Ps. 8:5-8).
            From the biblical teaching on the image of God, then, there is nothing which would warrant the conclusion that men are or will ever be “gods,” even “little gods,” as the “faith” teachers often put it.

Sons of God: Like Begets Like?

Although men are never called “gods” in an affirmative sense in Scripture, believers in Christ are called “sons” or “children” of God (John 1:12; Rom. 8:14-23; Gal. 4:5-7; 1 John 3:1-2; etc.). Based on the assumption that sons are of the same nature as their father, some conclude that since believers are sons of God, they must also be gods. This reasoning is thought to be confirmed by those passages in John’s writings which speak of believers as being “begotten” or “born” of God (John 1:13; 3:5-6; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18).
            As convincing as this argument may seem, it actually goes beyond the Bible’s teaching and is at best erroneous and at worse heretical. The above Scriptures do not mean that the “sonship” of believers is a reproduction of God’s essence in man for the following reasons.
            1/ In one sense all human beings are God’s “offspring” (Acts 17:28), so that even Adam could be called God’s “son” (Luke 3:38); yet this cannot mean that human beings are gods or have the same nature as God, for the reasons already given in our analysis of the “image of God”.
            2/ Paul speaks of our sonship as an “adoption” (Rom. 8:15,23; Gal. 4:5), which of course suggests that we are not “natural” sons of God.
            3/ John, who frequently speaks of Christians as having been “begotten” by God, also tells us that Jesus Christ is the “only-begotten” or “unique” Son of God (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9). At the very least, this means that we are not sons of God in the same sense that Christ is the Son of God, nor will we ever be. Christ was careful to distinguish between His Sonship and that of His followers (e.g., John 20:17). For this reason Kenneth Copeland’s assertion that “Jesus is no longer the only begotten Son of God”[22] must be regarded as false doctrine.
            4/ Finally, the New Testament itself always interprets the spiritual birth which makes believers sons, not as a conversion of men into gods, but as a renewal in the moral likeness of God, produced by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and resulting in an intimate relationship with God as a Father who provides for His children’s needs (Matt. 5:9, 45; 6:8, 10, 32; 7:11,21; Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 4:6-7; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1-5).
            The biblical doctrine that believers in Christ are children of God is a glorious teaching, to be sure, and what it means we do not yet fully know (1 John 3:2). But we do know something about what it means, as well as what it does not mean. It does mean eternal life with Christ-like holiness and love, in which the full potential of human beings as the image of God is realized. But it does not mean that we shall cease to be creatures, or that “human potential” is infinite, or that men shall be gods.

Union with Christ: Are Christians Incarnations of God?

The doctrine that Christians are adopted sons of God is closely related to the doctrine of the spiritual union between Christ and Christian believers. This union is expressed both as a union between Christ and the individual believer and as a union of Christ and the church. Paul in particular teaches that Christians are “in Christ” (a phrase which occurs over 160 times in Paul’s letters), “with Christ” in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension (Rom. 6:3-8; Eph. 2:5-6), corporately the “body” of Christ (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:12; Col. 1:18), that they have Christ, or the Spirit of Christ, dwelling within (Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:17-20; 2 Cor. 13:5; Eph. 3:16-17), and that Christ Himself is their “life” (Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:4). On the basis of this teaching, many have concluded that Christians are in fact either a corporate extension of the Incarnation (as the church) or replications of the Incarnation (as individual Christians). Such a conclusion is often tied to the teaching of some concept of deification. The question is, does the Bible support such a conclusion?
            As with the doctrine of Christians as the sons of God, such ideas go far beyond the teaching of Scripture. To say that believers are “in Christ” means that they are somehow spiritually united to Christ, not that they are Christ. When Paul says that we have been crucified, buried, raised, and ascended with Christ, he is not speaking literally, but means simply that by virtue of our legal identification and close spiritual relationship with Christ we benefit by His death and resurrection. The teaching that the church is the body of Christ is also not to be taken literally, and should not be pressed to imply that the church is Christ or even an essential part of Christ. That the relationship between Christ and the church involves a substantial union without the church becoming Christ is best seen in the figure of the church as the bride of Christ (Eph. 5:28-32): the bride is physically united to her husband, yet they remain distinct. The Spirit indwells the believer, to be sure, but the believer does not become divine as a result, any more than the temple under the old covenant became a part of God simply because His presence filled it (cf. 1 Cor. 3:17). Christ is our life, not in the sense that our individuality is replaced by His person, but in the sense that we have eternal and spiritual life through our union with Him.
            Finally, the notion that each believer is somehow a duplicate of the Incarnation deserves a closer look. The rationale for this view is that an “incarnation” is defined as the indwelling of God in a human being; and since, we are told, this is as true of the Christian as it was of Christ, it follows that the Christian, as Kenneth Hagin puts it, “is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.”[23] The error in this reasoning lies in the definition of “incarnation.” Christ was not merely God dwelling in a human being, a heresy (known as Nestorianism) the early church condemned because it meant that the Word did not actually become flesh (John 1:14) but only joined Himself to a human being. Rather, the incarnate Christ was one person in whom were perfectly united two natures, deity and humanity; the Christian is a person with one nature, human, in whom a separate person, God the Holy Spirit (and through Him, the Father and the Son as well), dwells.

Does Partaking of the Divine Nature Make Us Gods?

In 2 Peter 1:4 we are told that through God’s promises Christians may “become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” This text, even more so than Psalm 82, has suggested to many a doctrine of deification. And indeed, if by deification one means simply “partaking of the divine nature,” then such “deification” is unquestionably biblical. The question, then, is what does Peter mean by “partakers of divine nature”?
            Since the word “divine” is used earlier in the same sentence (“His divine power”, verse 3), where it must mean “of God,” “divine nature” must mean God’s nature. The word “nature,” however, should not be understood to mean “essence.” Rather, as the context makes evident, Peter is speaking of God’s moral nature or character. Thus Christians are by partaking of the divine nature to escape the corruption that is in the world because of sinful lust, and are instead to exhibit the moral attributes of Christ (cf. verses 5-11).

DISCERNING ORTHODOX FROM HERETICAL TEACHINGS

It is not always easy to tell the difference between heretical and orthodox doctrines. Often people of different religions use the same or nearly the same words to express widely different ideas. One of the marks of the “cults,” in fact, is the use of Christian terminology to express non-Christian concepts.[24] This is very much the case with deification.
            How, then, can Christians tell the difference? There are four essential elements to an orthodox view of the relationship between God and man, and any doctrine which compromises or denies these teachings is less than soundly orthodox. These four elements are monotheism, trinitarianism, incarnationalism, and evangelicalism.
            Monotheism, as has already been explained, is the view that a single, unique, infinite Being (called God) created all other beings out of nothing, and that this Creator will forever be the only real, true God. Trinitarianism is the distinctive Christian revelation of God, according to which the one God exists eternally as three distinct but inseparable persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.[25] Incarnationalism is the teaching that the second person of the Trinity (called the “Word” in John 1:1, 14, and the “Son” in Matthew 28:19), without ceasing to be God, became flesh, uniting uniquely in His one undivided person the two natures of deity and humanity. Evangelicalism is the belief that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
            With these four criteria of orthodoxy in mind, how do the various doctrines of deification measure up? The doctrines of the church fathers, as well as of Eastern Orthodoxy, are, as we have already indicated, thoroughly orthodox on all four points. Mormonism and Armstrongism fail on all four counts, and are therefore heretical. Union Life appears to hold to the Trinity and salvation by grace, but sets these doctrines in the context of panentheism; therefore, it too is heretical.
            But what shall we say about the “faith” teachers? They do affirm a monotheistic world view and generally affirm the Trinity (though there is some evidence of confusion on that score). Some at least of these teachers consider the Christian to be as much an incarnation as Jesus, and thus fail the third test. Most speak unguardedly of man as existing in “God’s class,” of being the same “kind” as God, and so forth, even while occasionally making disclaimers about men never becoming equal to God. Are these teachers heretics, or are they orthodox?
            It may be that a simple black-or-white approach to this question is inappropriate in some cases. Certainly these teachers are not to be placed in the same category as Mormonism and Armstrongism, since the “faith” teachers affirm monotheism and trinitarianism. Yet too many statements have been made by these teachers which can only be called heretical, though it may be that such statements are due to carelessness or hyperbole and not actual heretical belief. It is to be hope that the “faith” teachers will recognize the errors of their unbiblical statements and repent of them. Until that time, their doctrine of men being “little gods” is so far from being orthodox that it should not be placed in that category either. How, then, should we categorize such teachings?
            In recent years ministries which specialize in discerning orthodox from heretical teachings have been using the term “aberrational” to describe teachings which do not fit neatly into either the orthodox or heretical category. Specifically, “heretical” teaching explicitly denies essential biblical truth, while “aberrational” teaching compromises or confuses essential biblical truth. Both are in error, but a heresy is an outright rejection or opposition to truth, while an aberration is a distortion or misunderstanding of truth only. Aberrational teachers affirm the essential doctrines of orthodoxy, and then go on to teach doctrines that compromise or are otherwise inconsistent with orthodoxy, while heretics actually deny one or more of the essentials.
            It we apply this distinction to the cases at hand, their usefulness becomes apparent. Mormonism and Armstrongism both explicitly reject certain essential teachings of orthodoxy; they are therefore heretical. Union Life rejects monotheism in favor of panentheism; it is also heretical. Many of the “faith” teachers affirm the essentials, but then go on to teach doctrines which undermine their professed orthodoxy; their doctrine is aberrational and false. On the other hand, there are, unfortunately, at least some “faith” teachers (for example, Kenneth Copeland) whose teachings are so opposed to orthodoxy that they can only be regarded as heretical.
            It is not always easy to decide whether a teaching is orthodox, aberrational, or heretical. Nevertheless, it can be done, and we should not allow the unpopularity of making doctrinal judgments to deter us from the necessary (if sometimes unpleasant) task of evaluating questionable teaching. In doing so, we must avoid the extreme of labeling as heretics absolutely everyone who uses the term “deification,” as well as the extreme of regarding as Christian any doctrine of deification which makes reference to Christ. It is the substance of each doctrine which must be examined as the basis for discerning whether it is orthodox, aberrational, or heretical. Only in this way can the church’s calling to “test the spirits, to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1) be fulfilled.

NOTES

1 Norman Geisler and William Watkins, Perspectives: Understanding and Evaluating Today’s World Views (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life, 1984).
2 See, for example, Gerald Bonner, “Augustine’s Conception of Deification,” Journal of Theological Studies, n.s., 37 (Oct. 1986): 369-386.
3 Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966), 317.
4 Van Hale, “Defining the Mormon Doctrine of Deity,” Sunstone 10, 1 (1985), 25-26.
5 See especially Philip Barlow, “Unorthodox Orthodoxy: The Idea of Deification in Christian History,” Sunstone 9 (Sept.-Oct. 1984), 13-18.
6 See “A Summary Critique: Mystery of the Ages, Herbert W. Armstrong,” elsewhere in this issue of CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL.
7 “A Case in Point: Union Life,” Cornerstone, 9, 52 (1980), 32-36.
8 Norman Grubb, “The Question Box,” Union Life 6 (May-June 1981), 23.
9 Norman Grubb, “The Question Box,” Union Life 6 (July-Aug. 1981), 23.
10 See “A Case in Point: Union Life,” 32-33.
11 Tom Carroll, “The Mystery According to St. Augustine,” Union Life 10 (Nov.-Dec. 1985), 20-21.
12 Brian A. Onken, “A Misunderstanding of Faith,” FORWARD 5 (1982), and Onken, “The Atonement of Christ and the ‘Faith’ Message,” FORWARD 7 (1984).
13 E.g., Casey Treat, Complete Confidence: The Attitude for Success (Seattle, WA: Casey Treat Ministries, 1985), 319-324.
14 At private meetings between Walter Martin and Larry Duckworth with Frederick K.C. Price on May 1, 1986, and between Walter Martin and Casey Treat in early April, 1987.
15 Treat, 82-83, 306-327; Holy Bible: Kenneth Copeland Reference Edition (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1972), iii.
16 Holy Bible: Kenneth Copeland Reference Edition, lvi.
17 On the biblical teaching on the nature of God, see The Nature and Attributes of God, by Robert and Gretchen Passantino of CARIS (write to CARIS, P.O. Box 2067, Costa Mesa, CA 92628), or this author’s outline study, “The Attributes of God,” available from CRI (order #DA-250).
18 E. Jungkuntz, “An Approach to the Exegesis of John 10:34-36,” Concordia Theological Monthly 35 (1964):560.
19 Casey Treat, Renewing the Mind: The Arena for Success (Seattle, WA: Casey Treat Ministries, 1985), 90.
20 Barlow, 17.
21 See G.C. Berkouwer, Man: The Image of God, Studies in Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962), 37-118.
22 Kenneth Copeland, Now We Are in Christ Jesus (Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1980), 24.
23 Kenneth E. Hagin, “The Incarnation,” The Word of Faith (Dec. 1980), 14.
24 Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, rev. ed. (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1985), 18-24.
25 Introductory literature on the Trinity is available from CRI.

link here

Kenneth Hagin Ministries: Where’s the Faith?
by Jay Howard

The United States is known by most nations of the world as a nation of wealth. It should be no surprise that in a country of wealth, there should be a doctrine that helps to establish this concept as a biblical truth on par with salvation and other teachings of Holy Writ.

This teaching is known to many as the Word of Faith. It teaches that by confessing to God that you want a particular thing (wealth, healing, a new car, new house etc.) and having established the proper amount of faith to appropriate the desired item, you can command God to give it to you.

The Word of Faith (WF) teaches that God developed these rules or laws of faith and therefore since He has set them in motion, He must obey his own law. Therefore, all anyone must do is apprehend these laws and God must obey you when you ask for the things that you desire.

The person who is thought of as the father of this teaching is Kenneth Hagin of Tulsa, Oklahoma. He’s so well regarded, that he is often referred to by those who follow WF teachings as “Papa” Hagin. According to his booklets, articles and in his magazine, “The Word of Faith”, he has believed and lived by these teachings for more than fifty years. In this article we will explore the statements of Kenneth Hagin concerning his vows of confession.

We will also attempt to discover whether Hagin himself believes the teachings he claims are biblical and have universal application to all people It is clear that when Hagin speaks of the “laws of faith” he believes that anyone can put them into practice.

“It used to bother me when I’d see unsaved people getting results, but my church members not getting results. Then it dawned on me what the sinners were doing. They were cooperating with the law of God — the law of faith.”1

He says there are four parts to getting from God what you desire. These four are confessing what you want, believing that you have what you want, receiving what you want and telling others you have what you want.

Hagin tells us that Jesus appeared to him in Phoenix, Arizona and revealed the keys for people to get from God what they want.2

Hagin says this about the need for a positive confession, “If you talk about your trials, your difficulties, your lack of faith, your lack of money — your faith will shrivel up and dry up. But bless God, if you talk about the Word of God, your lovely Heavenly Father and what He can do — your faith will grow by leaps and bounds.”3 Presumably you receive what you desire if you confess in a proper manner.

Next you believe that you have it and sometimes you must wed your belief, that you are getting from God what you told Him you want with a particular action. “Jesus dictated to me during my vision, ‘Your action defeats or puts you over. According to your action you receive or you are kept from receiving.'”4

Mr. Hagin is telling us that if you do something wrong in the formula, you perform a particular action or refrain from another particular action you will prevent God from delivering the thing that you have confessed. In other words, you will need to judge for yourself during the process which action will be the correct action to perform that will assure you your confessed goal (be it material goods or physical healing). The corollary would be, if you perform the wrong action, this will negate God’s ability to deliver what you asked. It is all up to you!

Thirdly you must accept the thing you have confessed. “…..I simply acted on Mark 11:23,24. I began to say, “I believe God. I believe I receive healing for the deformed heart. I believe I receive healing for the paralysis….”5

Telling God and yourself is the third component of Hagin’s positive confession formula. As you tell God and yourself you believe, you again are letting God know that he is obligated to give you your petition (If one can use the word loosely because petition denotes something that can be denied).

The last step in this series is to tell others you have been granted the very thing you seek. This must be done before you have tangible evidence that the goods have been delivered. Hagin explains, “Jesus said to me, ‘Tell it so others may believe’..

David knew you can have what you say. He knew you can write your own ticket He is writing it here. He knew God would do anything he would believe Him for.”6

The intent of this article is not to exhaustively refute this theory but rather to see if Hagin himself applies this formula to himself. However, let me say this. God does not answer prayer due to a completion of a set of rules. Jesus for instance told people not to tell others after He healed them (Math. 9:28-29). This would violate rule 4 that Jesus supposedly told Hagin was necessary to receive from God (it is beyond the scope of this article to explore which Jesus actually spoke with Hagin in Phoenix or if there was any vision at all).

The biblical notion of faith is simply trust in God. Jesus many times performed healing with precious little or no faith evident on the part of those who received (Mark 9:24, Luke 17:6, Math. 4:23). In these instances the only thing that was confessed was a father’s fear that he may not have enough belief. These examples openly contradict Rule 1 concerning a positive confession needed to get from God and also Rule 3 that you believe fervently for yourself that you have what you want.

When you look at the Gospels with an open objective mind, you find that Jesus never followed a formulaic approach to anything let alone how He granted the petitions of those who sought his divine help. That should team us that Jesus, who was God while He lived on earth, was still sovereign over all things. (Colossians 1:15-17)

He performed miracles not because He was compelled to like some trained seal performing at his master’s command, but because His creatures implored Him and He felt compassion for them.

Does Hagin Follow His Own Rules?

I receive a monthly magazine from Hagin’s ministry and because I am on his mailing list I also receive every two to three months a letter signed by Kenneth Hagin Senior requesting money that I am to send to his ministry.

In a letter dated June 1995, Hagin requests money for classroom chairs: “We are in need of 5,000 desk chairs for all the classrooms and seminar auditorium… I realize that the total for all 5,000 chairs is a very large sum of money. However, I believe that if all of us work together, we can accomplish this project.”

There was a letter dated October 1995 in which more money was requested: “….That is why we always depend upon the special offerings that we receive as a result of the letter I send to you every October. Your offerings help us catch up on the expenses of the maintenance and preparations during the summer and also help us through the holidays until I write to you again in February.””

This hardly sounds like the same man who wrote the booklets, “How to Write Your Own Ticket with God” and “Having Faith In Your Faith.” He says in those booklets, to obtain wealth, power, possessions, etc. from God, all one needs to do is follow 4 rules or steps as we have quoted previously. He said nothing about sending a letter requesting money from people, as a fifth rule.

Kenneth Hagin has as of 12-21-95 over 500,000 people on his mailing list, according to the public relations office at his headquarters In Tulsa, OK.

The reality is that when it comes to following his own prescription for receiving from God, Hagin fails. There seems to be an easy way to obtain money from WF theology; have a mailing list of half a million. There would be no need to request money if this so called WF formula was truly a biblical mandate.

This not an indictment of Christian ministries that solicit money through the mail (Though some would say there are those that funds, with irritating frequency, bordering on harassment). However, when an organization and or a person proclaims vigorously, as Hagin does, that all you have to do is put into practice this four point formula and God will obligingly respond with whatever you demand from Him; Then turns and sends special requests for money, it is hypocritical and proves that he has no ultimate faith in the efficacy of the formula.

It should be clear at this juncture that WF doesn’t work for Hagin nor anyone else in the movement It is so much smoke and mirrors. It is my prayer that many will see the fruitlessness of the non biblical teaching and repent of its corrupt practices. For true biblical faith is essential to understanding God and walking with Him in a truly balanced Christian life. The WF doctrine is only a diabolical counterfeit and will destroy what it claims to build, the faith of believers.

Bibliography–Footnotes

1. Having Faith In Your Faith, Kenneth Hagin; (Rhema Bible Church) p. 4,5.

2. How to Write Your Own Ticket With God, Kenneth Hagin; (Rhema Bible
Church) p. 1-5.

3. Ibid.p.l0.

5. Ibid.p.l6.

6. Ibid. p.19,23. (Emphasis in the original)

7. Letter from Kenneth Hagin Ministries, dated June1995. pg.2.

8. Letter from Kenneth Hagin Ministries, dated October 1995. Pg.2.

http://www.focusonthefaulty.com/Pages/hagin.html

 

 

The Word of Faith (WF) movement emerged within Charismatic/Pentecostal Christianity in the latter 20th century. The Word of Faith movement as a whole has no formal organization or authoritarian hierarchy, though the movement does have a number of high-profile teachers who heavily influence Word of Faith theology. It’s basic theology is a peculiar mix of orthodox Christianity and mysticism.

Kenneth Hagin is often referred to as the “father” of the Word of Faith movement, but in reality it was Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802-1866) who laid the foundations. It was Quimby’s metaphysical teachings that influenced E.W. Kenyon, and it was E.W. Kenyon’s teachings that in turn influenced Kenneth Hagin. Most prominent Word of Faith teachers today draw their inspiration from Kenneth Hagin.

The “force” of faith, an unbiblical view of faith, is the foundation of Word of Faith theology. Proponents believe they can use words to manipulate the faith-force, and thus actually create what they believe Scripture promises (health, wealth, etc.). Laws supposedly governing the faith-force are said to operate independently of God’s sovereign will — God Himself being subject to the “laws” of faith.

Doctrines considered essential by historic Christianity are not necessarily considered essentials in Word of Faith theology. Word of Faith teachers often redefine or reinterpret Christian essentials in order to fit them into their own peculiar theological systems. These reinterpretations are often derived from “revelation knowledge” (i.e. special revelations supposedly from God, given specifically to the WF teacher). Placing “revelation knowledge” above Scripture is one reason why WF teachers often blatantly contradict Scripture (and often each other). For example, one WF teacher, when speaking of God said, there are nine of them; and yet another WF teacher, when speaking of Jesus said, I (Jesus) never claimed to be God.

Word of Faith teachers are notorious for teaching everything from the heretical to the downright ridiculous. For example, one WF teacher (who recently renounced WF) once stated that Adam could fly, and women were originally designed to give birth from their sides. Many sincere Christians within the WF movement are unaware that their favorite teachers are teaching doctrines that flatly contradict the Word of God. One reason for this lack of discernment is that followers are told that questioning the teacher is synonymous with “touching God’s anointed,” or “quenching the Spirit.” They are unaware that Scripture encourages us to test all teaching by the written Word of God.

The Word of Faith movement is a serious threat to the Church — this because WF is assaulting Christianity from within the Church. What follows is a comparison of Word of Faith theology, as espoused by many of these prominent teachers, with the teachings of historic Christianity. Since this pamphlet represents a cross-section of Word of Faith teachings, Word of Faith adherents will believe some, but not necessarily all of these unbiblical doctrines.

GOD

WF: God is not sovereign. God needs permission to act. “Satan had gained ascendancy in the earth by gaining Adam’s authority, and God was left on the outside. God couldn’t come here in His divine power and wipe them out. He had to move in an area where it would be ruled legal by the Supreme Court of the Universe” (Capps, Authority in Three Worlds, p. 51).

BIBLE: God is sovereign over all creation. Man does not control God. “‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:15-16).

JESUS CHRIST

WF: You control Jesus with your mouth. “You create the presence of Jesus with your mouth….He is bound by your lips and by your words … Remember that Christ is depending upon you and your spoken word to release His presence” (Cho, The Fourth Dimension, Vol. I, p.83).

BIBLE: Christ is sovereign over all creation. Man does not control Christ. “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation….You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:14, 17).

THE ATONEMENT

WF: Word of Faith theology has completely rewritten and redefined the atonement. In WF, Jesus suffered and died on the cross, descended into hell (supposedly the seat of Satan’s government), spent three days serving a sentence in hell (where He was tortured by demons), was then born again and released from hell on a technicality.

When Jesus was in the pit of hell, in that terrible torment, no doubt the Devil and his emissaries gathered around to see the annihilation of God’s Son. But in the corridors of hell, there came a great voice from heaven: “Turn Him loose! He’s there illegally!” And all of hell became paralyzed. (Capps, Authority in Three Worlds, p. 143, emphasis in original)

Jesus was born again before his eyes! (Ibid, p. 189, emphasis in original)

BIBLE: Jesus was not “born again.” He could not be born again since He did not have a sinful nature. The sacrifice had to be perfect — Christ alone had no sin nature. “(B)ut with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake” (1 Peter 1:19-20).

Christ did not descend into hell. He descended into Hades (Sheol) and preached to the Old Testament saints in paradise. “The he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus answered him, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise'” (Luke 23:42-43).

Hell (Gehenna) is not the seat of Satan’s government. Hell is currently unoccupied. Hell is a place of punishment and torment where Satan, demons, and the unregenerate will eventually be cast. Christ did not serve a sentence in hell; He atoned for our sins on the cross. “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished (tetelestai).’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (John 19:30).

MAN

WF: Man is a god, though a lesser god than God the creator. “Adam was an exact duplication of God’s kind!….Adam was subordinate to God. God created him, gave him all this authority and power, and said to him, ‘Be god over the earth as I am God over the heavens'” (Capps, Authority in Three Worlds, pp. 16-17).

BIBLE: Man is not, nor ever will be, a god. There is only one true God (John 17:3); if man is a god then man has to be a false god. “Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me” (Isaiah 43:10).

FAITH

WF: Faith is a force. “Faith is a power force. It is a tangible force. It is a conductive force” (Copeland, The Force of Faith, p.13).

Words activate the force. “The force of faith is released by words. Faith-filled words put the law of the Spirit of life into operation” (Ibid. p. 18).

BIBLE: Faith is not a force. Faith is trusting in the promises of God. Faith is synonymous with ‘being sure’: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). We exercise faith when we trust in the promises of God.

http://www.gospeloutreach.net/whatwordfaith.html

AGAINST THE THEOLOGY OF GLORY

 © 2001 R. S. Clark. All Rights Reserved.

Introduction

Many Christians today take it as an article of faith that God must deliver Christians from trials and tribulations. This is an age in which Benny Hinn’s ridiculous books have sold millions and he is but the latest charlatan selling health and wealth to gullible Christians. Why is such a view, that God wants us to be healthy and wealthy and not to suffer so plausible to so many? There are a variety of answers.

The first answer is that this is nothing new. There have always been competitors to the Christian teaching on suffering. Martin Luther railed against what he called “the theology of glory,” i.e., a theology which replaces Christ with something else or seeks to get to God without Christ the Mediator. The theology of glory I have in mind is the reigning American triumphalism of revivalist (and Reformed) evangelicalism. Almost weekly some well-meaning evangelical announces that there is a coming revival. Bill Bright has been announcing a revival for years. Meanwhile real, weekly, church attendance rests at 10% (weekly) and rather less who attend to the means of grace in two services.

If there is precious little empirical evidence for this alleged revival, why the apparent excitement? Another partial answer is the powerful influence of Modernity upon American Christians. One of the chief doctrines of Modernity has been the doctrine of progress, that things are getting better every day in every way. As a schoolboy I remember teachers reciting this as a mantra. Such an idea of progress, whether personal or corporate (social or ecclesial) is not Biblical. Its founded in the doctrines of the universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. Its founded in the notion that God has left the world to us, and we must make of it what we will. Its founded in a denial of the doctrine of original sin.

The Modern doctrine of progress has fit hand-in-glove with inherent flesh- and world-denying tendencies of American fundamentalism. Fundamentalists are famous, of course, for what they are (or used to be) against. In days past, they were against movies, cards and liquor. Now they make movies and produce cards with Jesus’ picture on them. I guess liquor is still mostly taboo, but they have often identified the “world” not as an ethical category, but an ontological category, so that they have identified the “world” with creation so that it is their very flesh they must overcome. This is, of course, a mild sort of gnosticism and it is not hard to find Gnostic strains through fundamentalism in the modern period to this very day.

Some years ago, in Chicago, I heard on one radio station, a fundamentalist offering secret knowledge (gnosis) about how to speak in tongues, for $29.95, “send now before midnight.” On the other end of the dial, at the same time, I heard a hyper-dispensationalist explaining how the Pauline epistles are “not for today.” He too would give me the secret insights for a sum. It was dueling mystery religions and, ironically, the combatants would deny they had anything in common at all.

Both, however, are children of the “higher life” movement. Both were offering, in their own ways, the secret to overcoming my humanity. Like the old monks (whom they would repudiate) both were calling me not to trust in Christ and his righteousness imputed to me, but to take that next step toward the blessing, whatever it might be.

So it is that both are also the children of Modernity, both are more or less Pelagian, both really believe in Progress (personally, morally, if not socially) but both are also selling world-flight. Doubtless both of them also hold the sort of premillennial eschatology which features deliverance from the tribulation through the rapture, followed by a seven-year tribulation, a sort of purgatory/second chance for those who missed the first bus, followed by the earthly millennium — during which Jesus, the Lamb of God, offered once for all, is said to reign on an earthly throne, in Jerusalem, watching Jewish priests offer sacrificial memorial lambs. The golden age is said to be followed by Armageddon and then, eventually the judgment. The point here is that, the view that God ought to deliver his people from rather than through tribulation has been fed and made plausible by the Modern American desire to conquer nature through the use of technology.

Part of the attraction of Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth is that it is a form of esoteric knowledge. The other part of the attraction is that the rapture is said to come before suffering and in order to deliver Christians from suffering. It is not surprising that this view has gained such immense popularity at the same time as the rise of Modernity.

One of the most obnoxious forms of triumphalism to afflict the American church is reconstructionist postmillennialism. It is most ironic that reconstructionist postmillennialism, is actually quite like dispensational premillennialism in significant ways. Like the hyper-dispensationalist and the Pentecostal, they are more closely related than they might like to acknowledge.

The other side of world-denying premillennialism is the rise of a new version of postmillennialism which, though somewhat more world affirming, also features a golden-age, in their view, brought about by the preaching of the gospel. Though some versions, at least, teach a great apostasy in the church before golden-age, postmillennialism has similar attractions as premillennialism, secret, esoteric knowledge, a future earthly golden-age and progress. The influence of the Modern doctrine of progress is even more obvious in the case of contemporary postmillennialism.

In recent decades, however, under the formulations of David Chilton, R.J. Rushdoony, G. Bahnsen and others, a “world-flight” of another sort has become more prominent. These reconstructionist postmillennialists (in distinction from the more traditional Postmillennialism of C. Hodge and B.B. Warfield) are deny the necessity of suffering for the Christian. Instead they argue that the suffering described for the church was actually completed prior to A.D. 70. This new postmillennial school is now advocating a version of what appears to be triumphalism.

By triumphalism I mean the attitude which tends to think of the church as “irresistibly conquering throughout the centuries…seemingly more interested in upholding its own rights and privileges than in promoting the salvation of all.” (P.F. Chirco, s.v., in The New Catholic Encyclopedia vol. 14, 1967, Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press)

There is evidence that Scripture itself addresses and rejects triumphalism. One writer describes Paul’s opponents at Philippi as having the following positions, “…the attaching of little significance to the Cross, a confident triumphalist theology, a strongly realized eschatology, and religious and moral perfectionism through obedience to Torah, especially circumcision. (C. Mearns, New Testament Student, vol.3, 1987,194-204.)

It is the contention of this essay that both versions of triumphalism/world-flight are mistakes. Rather, the Christian ethic and eschatology entails that we affirm this world as essentially good, if fallen, and that we are called not to flee (or be secretly raptured from) suffering for Christ between the first and second advents. Suffering for Christ is not an exception, it is the rule for Christians, it is a mark of this inter-adventual age. Our model is the incarnation itself. All true Christians affirm that Jesus was true man and true God. The Apostle John says that anyone who denies the humanity of Christ is anti-Christ. Jesus, the God-Man, the true man, the Second Adam, actively obeyed his Father and suffered through his entire life, and especially in his passion and death. This is the pattern for the Christian life.

Amillennialists, who hold that there is no earthly golden-age, that we are now in the millennium (i.e., Rev. 20 symbolically describes the inter-adventual period) predictably, find themselves between these two poles. There is a great deal which has been fulfilled by the first advent of Jesus. Thus Paul says all the promises of God have their yea and amen in Christ. Yet there is a great amount of tension between what has been fulfilled in principle and what is yet to be consummated. A. Hoekema, an amillennialist, finds a great deal of incentive for godly living in the tension produced by the amillennial stress both on the “already” aspect and the “impending” (consummation) aspect of eschatology.

For instance, this tension implies that the struggle against sin continues throughout this present life. Yet the struggle is to be engaged in, not in defeat, but in the confidence of victory. We know that Christ has dealt a death blow to Satan’s kingdom, and that Satan’s doom is certain. (The Bible and the Future, 71)

This is true not only on an individual level, but a cosmic level as well. The relationship between the already and the not yet is not one of absolute antithesis, but rather one of continuity. The former is a foretaste of the latter. The New Testament teaches that there is a close connection between the quality of our present life and the quality of the life beyond the grave. To indicate the way in which the present life is related to the life to come the New Testament uses such figures as that of the prize, the crown, the fruit, the harvest, the grain, and the ear, sowing and reaping, (see. Gal.6.8) Concepts of this sort teach us that we have a responsibility to live for God’s praise to the best of our ability even while we continue to fall short of perfection. (The Bible and the Future, 71)

It is in response to popular trend of reconstructionist triumphalism that I offer a brief examination of the role of suffering in the New Testament as a mark of the progress of Redemption and the impact eschatology upon the ethics of the New Testament. The purpose of this study is not to be exhaustive, but suggestive of a third way of viewing our relationship to this world and the question of “world-flight.”

Far from being a mere adjunct to the Christian life, suffering is, in the New Testament, an almost essential mark of the Christian life. Contrary to triumphalism, it is suffering which more often than not is a sign of blessing, not wealth or power. The relation of suffering to the personal eschatological questions has not been totally ignored by the church. The eschatological necessity of suffering is implied in the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. We are first to persevere through sin and temptation. Secondarily we are to persevere through persecution. This is a reflection of the Biblical doctrine of suffering.

Suffering is a pervasive theme in the NT. Several factors figure prominently in this theme of the suffering of Christians in the NT. A brief look at a few passages should be enough to establish the thesis that in the New Testament that suffering is eschatologically necessary. That is, Christian suffering is a mark of the New Covenant.

It is a commonplace among NT writers that when those who are opposed to Christ lash out at us, it is, actually Christ who they seek to hurt. It was understood in the NT that the same rejection of Christ which led to his crucifixion would continue. So expected was it among the church that Paul tells the Thessalonians in 3.4 that he foretold that “we are about to suffer, just as also it occurred and you know.” (Barker Lane and Micheals, The New Testament Speaks, 153)

Such a common notion lies behind such passages as Phil 1.13,20 and esp. vs.29; Romans 5.1-11; 8.35-38; 2 Cor 1.3-11 and especially vs.5 where he makes the striking statement that the “sufferings of Christ overflow unto us”.

I. Key Terms

The key verbs are Anechomai, Pascho, Adikeo, and their derivatives. Anecho has reference to relieving words (Heb. 13.22) and other objects. It often has reference to receiving things from men, or in the case of 2 Timothy 4.3 not receiving or bearing with sound doctrine. Though the word is middle in form and thus we would expect it to be deponent in meaning, it is used as a passive exclusively in the N.T. Anechomai is not used often in the NT to refer directly to suffering. It is worth noting where it does, because of the passive force of the word. In 1 Corinthians 4.12 It has the sense of “enduring or receiving” sufferings. In 2 Thessalonians 1.4 the word is used to describe the Thlipsin which the Thessalonians endured.

Adikeo generally is used to designate “hurting” “injuring” someone. In Acts 25.10, Paul declares that he has not injured (Edikesa) the Jews. The first text using this verb which tends toward the idea of enduring hurt is 1 Corinthians 6.7 where, using the passive form, Paul exhorts them to be willing to be wronged, (Adikeisthe). In 2 Corinthians 7.12 he uses the verb to describe a “wronged” party in a dispute.

This term also occurs in the Apocalypse. In 2.11 the Lord promises that the second death will not harm (Adikethe) the overcomer. In 6.6 it refers to “damaging” the oil and the wine. 7.3 uses it of doing “harm” to the earth. The only deviation from this pattern is in 22.11 where John characterizes some one who acts unjustly with this verb.

Pascho of course is the NT verb associated most often with our Lord’s vicarious suffering. Of the three this word occurs most frequently in the NT. In Matthew 16.21, 17.12, (see. parallels Mark 8.31, 9.12), Luke 22.15, 24.26,46, Acts 1.3, 3.18, 17.3, Hebrews 2.18, 5.8, 9.26, 13.12, Pascho refers to the suffering of Christ on the cross. Thus, in these contexts, given the centrality of the cross in the gospels, the message of the cross provides the core meaning for this word in the NT.

This verb, however, is not applied just to Christ. In Acts 9.16 Luke records the words of the ascended Lord which Ananias is to carry to Paul, “I will show him how much it is necessary (Dei ) to suffer for my name.” Applied to us, the word has a derivative meaning. We suffer not the outpouring of God’s wrath, for Christ has suffered eschatologically once for all, but in the NT epistles especially we suffer the outpouring of the wrath of the world, Satan, and the powers of this age.

The verb Dei, is the term most often used to communicate necessity. It is also central to the thesis of this paper. It is relatively easy to demonstrate the force of Dei in the N.T. The clearest example is John 3.14: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so also it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up.” It is necessary in that it is the requisite for salvation. (v.15) It has this sort of force in many places throughout the New Testament. It with passages like John 3.14,15 in mind that we are speaking of “eschatological necessity”.

Theologically we speak of consequent necessity. It was not necessary for God to save man, but having willed to save some, the cross became a necessity to the accomplishment of the Divine will. Our suffering does not have the same necessity. But it does have a derived necessity. It is derived from our union with Christ. I hope to show that union with Christ, in the NT, necessarily entails suffering. We suffer because of our union with Christ. We suffered and died in Him. So also do we now suffer subsequent to His suffering.

II. Exposition

Nowhere in the gospels, perhaps nowhere in the NT is the union between Christ and believers and its implications taught so clearly than in John 15.1-17 Jesus outlines the fact that He is the vine and those who are united to Him by the Holy Spirit, true faith, bear fruit. Jesus says he will consummate this union by laying down his own life for his friends, those whom he has chosen.

Beginning with v.18 he outlines the implications which union with Christ has for believers. “If the Kosmos hates you, keep in mind that the Kosmos hated me first.” The world does not hate those who are “united” ethically to it. The servant is not greater than the master. The master suffered, so the servant should not expect to escape a similar fate. Jesus is describing a normal part of the Christian life. That Christians in any era should be free of suffering is, as we will see, an aberration.

In Rom 5:1-11, (especially vs.4) where Paul takes it as a given that identification with the death of Christ entails suffering. It is the almost casual way he goes about describing the relationship of suffering to the glories of the Gospel that it is striking. (see. Galatians 3.4)

Paul says in v.3 that because of our relation to Jesus, we boast in suffering. Robert Schuller is wrong. Paul is not saying that “when things get tough, the tough get tougher.” Rather he is saying that our sufferings (Thlipsis), demonstrate the eschatological (and consequently) ethical antithesis between the Christian and the World. Suffering is an affirmation of our union with Christ. This is the prelude to the locus classicus for the doctrine of imputation, which is another aspect of our union with Christ.

Romans 8.18ff. Paul compares the sufferings (Pathemata) of the present age semi-eschatological with the glory to be revealed in us. For this revelation creation itself is anxious. What is the object of the anxiety? The redemption of our bodies. (v.24) He is looking for the resurrection. Because of our weakness and groanings (because of suffering?) the Spirit intercedes for us. Vs.35: Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Thlipsis or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

These are not just random selections of difficult things used in contrast with Christ’s love. These are real life experiences shared by the Roman Christians before and after the reception of the letter. The references are unmistakable. This is part of the reason Paul turns their attention for comfort to the unbreakable golden chain of God’s decrees in 8.28-30.

In 1 Cor 13.3 Paul lists things with which perhaps the Corinthians are familiar. Among them is giving one’s body over to be burned. Clearly there is a reference here to martyrdom. It was apparently common enough in the first century, that Paul could casually mention it as an example, without having to explain that Christians sometimes were martyred for the faith.

In 2 Corinthians 1.3ff, Paul’s doxology to the Father, one of the things for which Paul is grateful is deliverance from Thlipsis (vv.4ff.). We are familiar with the benefits of suffering from this passage, namely patience, but this is not the only reason Paul mentions it.

In vv.4,5 he is contrasting the comfort God gives to his saints through the Holy Spirit, with the sufferings which are ours of a course. He even speaks of Christ’s Pathemata abounding, or overflowing to us. Paul even identifies his (and our) sufferings with Christ’s. What does he mean?

We saw in the gospels with reference to Christ, Pascho has a technical meaning. This is proof of the derivative meaning I posited earlier. Paul is arguing that identification and mystical union with Christ necessarily means that we endure persecution at the hands of those who still hate Jesus. Because of that identification and union our sufferings become, in one sense, part of a continuum with Christ’s. The discontinuity is that his are perfect and propitiatory and ours derivative. (see. W. Michealis, TDNT vol.5, s.v. Pascho )

The comfort we relieve comes from Jesus. A reciprocal relationship is envisioned. In v.7 Paul says that his hope for the Corinthians is firm because he knows they are experiencing this reciprocal relationship.

Phil 1.29. This passage establishes unshakably that in the mind of Paul, there was a necessary correlation between election in Christ and suffering. Let me quote the passage beginning with vs.27

Only this, conduct yourselves worthily of the gospel of Christ, then whether coming, I see you or being absent hear about you, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit (in the One Spirit?) working as one man for the faith of the gospel, and not being frightened in any way by the ones opposing you, which opposition is proof of their destruction, and of your salvation, and this salvation is from God. Because it has been granted to you not only to believe but to suffer on behalf of Christ, having the same struggle which you saw regarding me and now hear regarding me.

Several things become abundantly clear in this passage. First, Paul correlates opposition to the gospel and adherence to the gospel. Both are proofs. Opposition is proof that one is reprobate. Adherence and “co-working”, Sunerchomai is proof of salvation. This destruction is proleptic. The opponents are still opposing.

So also the salvation is proleptic, since we are still struggling (Agona) In v.29 he argues that the cause of this antagonistic relationship is that being in union with Christ necessarily entails suffering.

We cannot fail to notice the second correlation, that of the grant to believe and also to suffer. Just as there exists a corollary between belief and unbelief, so also there is a corollary between election and suffering. We can no more escape suffering than election. For Paul both are sovereign donations of God. Neither can suffering be limited to the first century by some artificial construction, since in that case we would have to restrict election to the first century.

The force of 2 Thessalonians 1:5 is equally clear. Paul praises God for their faith and he boasts in their perseverance. Notice that he does not boast in their dominion but in their perseverance. The notion of “eschatological necessity” explains why Paul uses the phrase “counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.”

The kingdom here is both present and future. The present suffering indicates membership in the present kingdom and inheritance of the future kingdom. If there are three marks of the true church, then perhaps this is a mark of the true Christian, suffering.

Paul is not the only writer in the NT to make use of this notion. In 1 Peter 2.19-23 Peter contrasts two kinds of suffering, that which is incurred justly and that which is incurred unjustly. The former is commendable, the latter is not. What is important to notice here is that first suffering is commendable, and second, (v.21) he says “you were called to this”, i.e. suffering. Why? Because Christ is our eschatological-ethical example, and because of our union with Him we are to follow in his footsteps. Peter places suffering in the category of Christian duty. (see 1 Peter 3.14-18.) It is clearer nowhere else than in 1 Peter 4.12ff. that suffering is the normal lot of the Christian, because of our Spiritual connection to the ascended Christ.

With all this common NT background it should not surprise us to see it reappear in the Apocalypse. If for the sake of argument the recapitulation reading of chapter 12 is allowed, then the relationship of the Dragon to the Woman is colorful allegory of the didactic truth which we have clearly seen elsewhere. Indeed, the entire Apocalypse is a series of progressive parallels intended to explain to suffering Christians (Rev. ch’s 1-3) in the cities of Asia Minor, why it was, Jesus having ascended to his royal glory, they continued to suffer at the hands of opponents and authorities. Jesus’ explanation, through the visions given to John, is that it is, in effect, a mark of this age. This is the age of the tribulation, the slaying of the prophets, the wasting of God’s people, so that only a remnant will remain at the coming of the Lamb in wrath.

Conclusion

The doctrine which I have tried briefly to establish in this paper is the eschatological necessity of suffering. Suffering, because of our union with Christ, is consistently represented in the NT as a fruit and proof that we are united with him. Because we are Christ’s body, and the antithesis between Christ and the World continues, the world pours out its hatred for Christ upon us. We in turn receive assurance of faith, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit as we fill up and share in Christ’s sufferings.

Christian suffering, which the Apostle Peter distinguishes sharply from suffering for the sake of wrongdoing, is part and parcel of being a Christian. It is to be expected. Inasmuch as it is a mark of this age, for the Christian, it is necessary. Therefore we ought to expect it. We ought not be surprised when “fiery trials” come upon us.

This view is in stark contrast with both premillennialists who find that Christ’s teachings in Matt 5-7 do not apply today (for whatever bizarre reason) and those postmillennialists (e.g., Gary North) who regard Jesus’ sermon as applicable only for those who are oppressed so that they will not apply in the coming golden age. The view advocated in this essay rejects both these approaches as, at once too other worldly and not heavenly minded enough. Just as Christ our Savior suffered in his flesh, so shall we. Just as he was raised, if he tarries, so shall we be raised. Just as he has been glorified, so shall we be glorified, where glory belongs, in heaven, with the Savior.

http://www.wscal.edu/clark/suffering.php

 
 
‘Bailout’ vs. prosperity
R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Posted on Oct 3, 2008LOUISVILLE, Ky.
(BP)–Now that the economic “bailout” plan has been passed by Congress, expect all parties involved to claim credit if it appears to work and deny blame if the crisis worsens. Though the primary problem is a crisis in the credit markets and the financial sector, the entire economy feels the crunch. The crisis now may lie in the awareness of uncertainty — and no one likes uncertainty when it comes to matters economic.
The public is also bracing for more bad news. Just today (Oct. 3), the state of California announced that it might need a $7 billion bailout. The state’s credit rating is not the problem, but the state has been unable to get the short-term money it needs, given the constriction of credit. Who is next?

There are a host of issues to be considered here. Many Americans are just waking up to the basic facts of economics. Most, sad to say, remain oblivious. Some among the more curious are discovering how much borrowing and lending goes on in the course of business — and among their neighbors.

Niall Ferguson, one of the world’s most influential historians, puts much of this into perspective in an essay published in the current issue of TIME magazine. In “The End of Prosperity?” Ferguson argues that another Great Depression — a “Depression 2.0” — is avoidable. Nevertheless, a period of far less material prosperity is almost surely at hand.

He explains: “The U.S. — not to mention Western Europe — is in the grip of a downward spiral that financial experts call deleveraging. Having accumulated debts beyond what’s sustainable, households and financial institutions are being forced to reduce them. The pressure to do so results from a decline in the price of the assets they bought with the money they borrowed. It’s a vicious feedback loop. When families and banks tip into bankruptcy, more assets get dumped on the market, driving prices down further and necessitating more deleveraging. This process now has so much momentum that even $700 billion in taxpayers’ money may not suffice to stop it.”

The unavoidable reduction of debt is traumatic at every level. Excessive and unsustainable valuations led to bad decisions and the illusion of free money. It never lasts. The “deleveraging” we are now witnessing will take some time to run its course. And that course is still unpredictable.

The most interesting part of Ferguson’s analysis has to do with the causes and course of the Great Depression as compared to the present crisis. His historical precision and honesty are helpful — even as his analysis is bracing.

One of the most interesting paragraphs in Ferguson’s essay has to do with the credit crisis at the household level. Consider this: “In the case of households, debt rose from about 50% of GDP in 1980 to a peak of 100% in 2006. In other words, households now owe as much as the entire U.S. economy can produce in a year. Much of the increase in debt was used to invest in real estate. The result was a bubble; at its peak, average U.S. house prices were rising at 20% a year. Then — as bubbles always do — it burst. The S&P Case-Shiller index of house prices in 20 cities has been falling since February 2007. And the decline is accelerating. In June prices were down 16% compared with a year earlier. In some cities — like Phoenix and Miami — they have fallen by as much as a third from their peaks. The U.S. real estate market hasn’t faced anything like this since the Depression. And the pain is not over. Credit Suisse predicts that 13% of U.S. homeowners with mortgages could end up losing their homes.”

We can only wonder how many Americans realize that total household borrowing now amounts to the productivity of the entire U.S. economy for a year. That is a staggering reality. Such borrowing levels are economically unsustainable. At the level of the individual household, this downturn can be catastrophic.

The Christian tradition has been very suspicious of credit and borrowing. Usury laws and a bias against borrowing and lending dissuaded most Christians from borrowing except in a dire emergency. Until fairly recently, the widespread use of consumer credit was unimaginable among Christians. Evidence that this is no longer the case can be found the popularity of so many Christian financial advisers who have been calling for believers to get out of debt.

In another article — fascinating on its own — TIME’s David van Biema looks at the influence of prosperity theology in the current credit crisis. His article, “Did God Want You to Get That Mortgage?” starts with a punch: “Has the so-called Prosperity Gospel turned its followers into some of the most willing participants — and hence, victims — of the current financial crisis? That’s what a scholar of the fast-growing brand of Pentecostal Christianity believes. While researching a book on black televangelism, says Jonathan Walton, a religion professor at the University of California Riverside, he realized that Prosperity’s central promise — that God would “make a way” for poor people to enjoy the better things in life — had developed an additional, toxic expression during sub-prime boom. Walton says that this encouraged congregants who got dicey mortgages to believe “God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house.” The results, he says, “were disastrous, because they pretty much turned parishioners into prey for greedy brokers.”

Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, explained it this way: “It definitely goes on, that a preacher might say, ‘if you give this offering, God will give you a house.’ And if they did get the house, people did think that it was an answer to prayer, when in fact it was really bad banking policy.”

It is easy to see how prosperity theology could lead to these unwarranted assumptions. Prosperity theology is a lie, and a false Gospel. We are not promised economic or financial prosperity in the Gospel. We are promised what money cannot buy and poverty cannot take away.

It is also easy for non-charismatic critics of prosperity theology to look down on those who were so susceptible to its false promises. Many devotees of prosperity theology are desperate in ways the more privileged cannot understand, and they are prey to both lenders and preachers promising prosperity.

I must wonder how many other Christians — far removed theologically from Charismatic prosperity theology — might have bought into a very different prosperity theology. Have we all been seduced by the idea that prosperity is a given? Do we now think that prosperity is our right? Do we associate prosperity with the blessings we receive in the Gospel?

Perhaps we all need a refresher course in Christian economics and Christian theology. Niall Ferguson argues from the record of history in looking to the current crisis. Perhaps we should remember our own history lesson — that far more believers in Christ have been and are now among the poor, rather than among the wealthy. We should hear Jesus warn against materialism and Paul remind us that we are to be content when we have plenty and when we have little. We should know that the Christian virtue of thrift is incompatible with the lies of those who push consumer credit.

We are not promised prosperity. When we do enjoy prosperity, we should be thankful stewards — not peddlers of our own prosperity theology.
–30–
R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. This column first appeared on his blog at www.AlbertMohler.com

http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/BPFirstPerson.asp?ID=29071

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THE HARMFUL TEACHINGS OF KENNETH AND GLORIA COPELAND Written by Cedric Hohnstadt

(NOTE: I want to be honest and fair, so all quotes are footnoted. Any time I used a quote that I could not personally verify, it is preceeded by the word “allegedly”, as in “Copeland allegedly said…”. Also, in August 2004 I submitted an early draft of this article to the Kenneth Copeland ministry and asked for their feedback. I have yet to receive a response.)

Why worry about doctrine anyway? Click HERE to see what the Bible says.

Introduction: So What’s The Big Deal?

Kenneth and Gloria Copeland teach some wonderful things: We must have confidence in God’s Word and obey it; we must resist the Devil; we should praise God, and boldly pray, and have faith; we should serve God and love others and give sacrificially. But the Copeland’s also have some dangerous teachings that are not only unbiblical, but unhealthy and even harmful.

I have no desire to slander a well-meaning ministry. But I believe the Copeland’s teaching is very flawed–so flawed that, if followed wholeheartedly, it can only lead to disappointment, frustration and disillusionment…or worse. That bothers me. The Bible is very clear that false teachings are harmful and should be exposed (in humility and love). But don’t take my word for it; turn to the Scriptures. I will quote a lot of Scripture in this article. Please click on the links so you can test what I am saying. God’s Word is more powerful than any words I can come up with.

The Copeland’s are leaders in what is commonly referred to as the Word of Faith Movement or the “Prosperity Gospel”, which (falsely) teaches that God’s will for believers is always prosperity, health, and victory—no matter what. When hard times hit (and they eventually do), what are we to make of them? Could it be that God has some sovereign reason for suffering, or that He uses it to teach us or to help us grow? Copeland says no! In Word Faith theology failure, sickness, and hardship are always attacks from Satan and are never God’s will.

Copeland is wrong. The Bible clearly tells us that sometimes it is actually God’s will that we suffer (1 Peter 3:17; 4:19; Hebrew 12:7).

Here are twelve reasons why I believe this teaching is very harmful, followed by a critique of three false promises of Copeland’s prosperity gospel:

What’s Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?

1. Materialism keeps people out of heaven.
The Copeland’s tout the Gospel as a way to live “the good life” and claim wealth is a sign of spiritual maturity. Such a message appeals only to our sinful, selfish nature. True Christians are not to love the world or anything in the world (1 John 2:15). Jesus repeatedly warned that wealth can be dangerous to our souls (Luke 8:14; 12:15) and even keep us out of heaven (Matthew 19:21-24; Ephesians 5:5). Rather than indulging ourselves with material “blessings”, the true Christian message is to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ, for “you cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

2. Lack of true peace.
Word of Faith preachers teach that God is just waiting to bless us. So if the believer isn’t experiencing “victory”, the problem must somehow be with the believer. This false teaching causes the believer to constantly strive harder, sacrifice harder, confess harder, and believe harder in order to achieve some mystical level of pure, unpolluted faith. The believer has no true peace until this “victory” is achieved.

In reality the Bible does NOT promise constant prosperity and victory (see below, False Promise #3: Victory and Success for Believers). Sometimes it is actually God’s will that we suffer (1 Peter 3:17; 4:19; Hebrew 12:7). The apostle Paul was able to proudly rejoice in his sufferings (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)! The mark of the true Christian is not freedom from suffering but peace in the midst of suffering (2 Thess. 3:16; Phil. 4:6-7; John 14:27; 16:33; Romans 8:6; 15:13; Heb. 12:11).

Despite what the Copeland’s say, pain and hardship need not shake our faith or rob us of our peace!

3. Unnecessary guilt and worry.
Copeland’s teaching makes God’s blessing conditional on our ability to strive and perform. On their website Gloria Copeland writes: “So our protection depends on our walking in fellowship with God and obedience to His Word.”6 and “Your security will be determined by how much time and attention you give to God and His Word in this life”.7 This is not only unbiblical (our security is in Christ, not our efforts), it is the exact opposite of grace! The Copeland’s also insist we must tame our tongues to secure God’s blessing,8 even though the Bible says that is impossible (James 3:8).

When suffering persists, Prosperity teaching actually creates doubt and worry (“What am I doing wrong?”; “When have I done enough?”) and destroys any real confidence in God’s sovereignty and mercy.

4. Unnecessary fear.
Anything negative, especially doubt, will supposedly cancel out your faith and short-circuit God’s blessing in your life. As a result, when hardships come the believer puts pressure on himself to do the impossible: to never have a negative thought. The result is bondage to a constant, superstitious fear of anything negative.

Actually, faith grows stronger if we ask questions and wrestle honestly with our doubts. The Bereans were commended for their healthy skepticism (Acts 17:11). We are to search for wisdom as for hidden treasure (Prov. 2:3-5) and test everything (1 Thess. 5:21).

Fear of anything negative shows how weak and fragile a person’s faith really is, and keeps it from growing stronger.

5. Emotional stress.
The Copeland’s teach that sadness, grief, anger, or frustration are signs of a lack of faith. According to Gloria Copeland, “If you are sad and depressed, that means you’re not believing God”9 . As a result, believers may stuff their true feelings and/or live in denial of them. This can create a host of unhealthy emotional and relational problems.

God knows our hearts better than we do (Psalm 44:21; Romans 8:27). When we mourn He does not shame us–He comforts us (Matthew. 5:4). He is “The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” (2 Cor. 1:3). He desires that we be open and honest with Him about our negative feelings (as David did in the Psalms) so that He can help us to deal with them and overcome them with His peace.

6. Avoidance of serious problems.
Likewise, some people may avoid properly dealing with their problems. Simply accepting life’s difficulties supposedly shows a lack of faith. So when problems arise some feel they must prove their faith by patiently waiting for the “victory” they have been promised. An extreme example of this would be parents who let their children die rather than take them to the doctor, because they are claiming God’s promises to heal and taking them to the doctor would show a sinful “lack of faith”. How tragic!

When problems arise, we are to face them prayerfully with responsibility and wisdom, and then trust God to work all things out for His good (Romans 8:28).

7. A false view of God.
In Prosperity teaching, you must never pray “…if it be Your will”. To consider the possibility of a “no” answer from God supposedly shows a lack of faith (even though both Jesus and Paul did so–Luke 22:42; Acts 18:21; also James 4:13-15). Apparently Copeland’s God is a fickle being who is swayed into holding back blessing simply by praying one wrong phrase (“if it be Your will”). Copeland also allegedly believes God is not all-powerful: “God cannot do anything for you apart or separate from faith”.10 Such a God is not the true God!

8. Raising man and lowering God.
Copeland says believers have the same authority as God: “You have obtained an inheritance, and in that inheritance you have been given all authority.”11 He also says our future is in our own hands: “With [God’s] truth we can set our course…for a life full of success”;12 “You are the prophet of your own life…Your words in your life decide your future”.13 Apparently it is ultimately up to us (not God) to decide what is good for us and what blessings we should have.

Copeland’s God is also weakened by humans because he cannot truly bless us without our believing prayers and confession. So the real power is in our ability to “release the power of faith”. We must have “faith in our faith”14.

The roles are reversed–in a sense we become the masters and God becomes the servant. Copeland allegedly wrote, “As a believer, you have a right to make commands in the name of Jesus. Each time you stand on the Word, you are commanding God to a certain extent because it is His Word”.15 This is a backward, man-centered theology and is outright blasphemy. God is the King, we are but humble servants (Luke 17:10). Copeland’s emphasis is (wrongly) on our ability to drum up enough faith, when instead the emphasis should be on Christ to lead us, provide for us, and empower us to serve Him as He sees fit.

9. A distorted prayer life.
Copeland teaches that just as there are laws of physics that control the power of electricity, there are also spiritual laws that control the power of faith. The secret to the the victorious Christian life is learning how to master these supposed “faith laws” through speaking and believing God’s promises. As a result prayer becomes a constant mantra of “taking authority” and “rebuking Satan” and “speaking faith” and “rebuking doubt”–none of which is a true interaction with God. Prayer sadly gets twisted into a magical, manipulative formula rather than a loving, trusting relationship with Jesus.

10. A false road to maturity.
For Copeland, spiritual maturity equals prosperity. The Bible says the opposite: spiritual maturity comes by persevering through trials (James 1:2-4). Jesus warned strongly against prosperity. Rather than strengthening our faith, wealth can actually choke it out (Luke 8:14), pull us away from God (Matt. 6:24) and even keep us out of heaven (Matt. 19:21-24; Eph. 5:5). “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matt. 6:24).

Instead of following after prosperity, we grow in maturity as we “put to death the desires of the flesh” (which includes greed–Col. 3:5) and take up our cross and follow Christ.

11. It promotes laziness and irresponsibility.
If simply claiming God’s promises entitles us to a life of victory, health, and wealth, then why bother with hard work, education, discipline, exercise, etc.? To the poor and uneducated his teachings may have the same appeal as the phony get-rich-quick philosophy promoted by lotteries, casinos, and other hucksters.

12. It is a trap that leads to disillusionment.
Tragedy and suffering strike everyone sooner or later. When they do, no amount of believing or giving tithes or rebuking the devil can get us out of them. Believers either become trapped in a constant cycle of striving and sacrificing until things improve, or they become bitter and disillusioned and leave Word of Faith teaching (and perhaps Christianity) altogether. Either way, the believer is kept from resting in the true inner peace and comfort that Christ promises in the midst of life’s tragedies.

GETTING SOME BALANCE

Copeland repeatedly bends Scripture to fit his beliefs rather than bending his beliefs to fit Scripture. Let me take three of Copeland’s biggest false promises and balance them with Scriptures that he usually (and conveniently) ignores:

False Promise #1: Financial Prosperity for Believers
The Copeland’s insist that true faith will bring the believer loads of money, despite a long list of Scriptures that teach otherwise. On their website Gloria Copeland writes:

“God’s will concerning financial prosperity and abundance is clearly revealed in the Scriptures”. 16

But what did Jesus teach about prosperity and abundance? While He never condemned money outright, He did warn us not to store up earthly treasure (Matt. 6:19) and preached that those who serve God must despise money (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:15) because their hearts will be wherever their treasure is (Matt. 6:21). He said giving is better than receiving (Acts 20:35). He warned that wealth is deceitful and can choke out our faith (Matt. 13:5,22; Luke 8:14), and to be on guard against self-indulgence and greed in all its forms (Matthew 23:25; Mark 7:21-23; Luke 12:15). He preached woe to the wealthy (Luke 6:24) and said it is almost impossible for the rich to enter heaven (Matt. 19:21-24). Jesus commands all his followers to lay down their lives in self-denial (Matt. 16:24) and told a wealthy would-be disciple to sell all his possessions (Matt. 19:21-24). Jesus himself did not even have a bed to sleep on (Matt. 8:20).

Yet Kenneth and Gloria Copeland teach that if we shun wealth we are sinning against God:

“The man who holds to poverty rejects the establishment of the covenant. The man who holds to the covenant rejects poverty. Faith in the covenant pleases God. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.” 17 and (allegedly), “Poverty is an evil spirit”18 .

What about the Apostles–did they put a lot of emphasis on financial prosperity? Paul once described himself as “poor” and “having nothing” (2 Cor. 6:10). He wrote that a Christian must flee the desire to get rich (1 Tim. 6:10-11), because greed is idolatry (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5). We must purge every hint of greed from our lives (Eph. 5:3) and be content with whatever little we have (Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:6-8).

The desire to get rich is a trap that brings ruin, destruction, and all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:9-11). We are to have nothing to do with greedy people (Eph. 5:5-7). A true Christian leader must not be a lover of money (1 Tim. 3:2-3), and a greedy teacher may exploit his flock (2 Peter 2:3). Those who think godliness leads to financial gain have been corrupted (1 Tim. 6:5). A Christian must not focus his mind on earthly things (Col. 3:2) or love anything in the world (1 John 2:15-16). He must not pray for money to spend on pleasure (James 4:3), but rather be content with whatever little he has (Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:6-8). Being poor is a high position while being rich is a low position (James 1:9-10).

Nevertheless, the Copeland’s insist:

“Prosperity is a major requirement in the establishment of God’s will,” and “God’s will for His people today is abundance”19.

This is easy for them to say, because the Copeland’s themselves don’t really live by faith at all.

Instead they live lavishly off the donations of poor, struggling Christians who are “sowing” what little they have for the promise of “reaping a hundredfold blessing”20 . If the Copeland’s really believe giving reaps such an increase, shouldn’t they be giving away their own wealth? By asking for donations don’t they show a lack of faith?

False Promise #2: Health and Healing for Believers
On their website Gloria Copeland writes:

“[God’s Word is] so powerful it can cure every sickness and disease known to man. It has no dangerous side effects. It is safe even in massive doses. And when taken daily according to directions, it can prevent illness altogether and keep you in vibrant health.”21

Is this incredible claim really true? If so, are things like wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, and having surgery unnecessary or even sinful?

While God can and does heal, the Bible is clear that it is not His will in every situation. Paul suffered a “thorn in his flesh” which God refused to remove in order to keep Paul humble….and rather than chide himself for lack of faith, Paul rejoiced! (2 Cor. 12:7-10). God used an illness of Paul’s to bring the gospel to the Galatians (Gal. 4:13), and Paul probably suffered from poor eyesight (Gal. 6:11). Timothy was sick frequently (1 Tim. 5:23), but rather than telling Timothy to “claim a healing” or “rebuke the devil”, Paul simply instructs him to add wine to his diet (wine was used as a form of medicine). Paul also left a man named Trophimus sick in Miletus, without healing him (2 Tim. 4:20).

Pastor and author John MacArthur lists the three primary reasons why Christians get sick:

Some sicknesses are from God. “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4:11). God made the disabled and infirm. Babies are born every day with defects. Many children grow up with congenital deformities. Some people have illnesses that last for years. While it is unexplainable according to our human logic, it is all part of God’s sovereign, loving plan.

Some sicknesses are from Satan. (Luke 13:11-13). God may allow Satan to inflict illness for His own sovereign reasons. The classic example is Job (Job chapter 1).

Some sickness is God’s chastisement for sin. (Numbers 12; Deut. 28:20-22; 2 Kings 5). “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy word” (Ps. 119:67)22

Other examples include God tormenting the Egyptians with skin boils (Ex. 9:8-12), inflicting King Jeroboam with leprosy (2 Kings 15:5), and striking Saul with blindness (Acts 9:1-19).

The Bible also tells us plainly that God disciplines the Church through sickness, hardship, and even death (1 Cor. 11:28-30; Heb. 12:7; Acts 5:1-11) and that we should joyfully accept trials “of many kinds” because God uses them to make us mature (James 1:2-4; Psalm 119:71,75). Clearly God allows and even causes sickness for His own sovereign purposes.

Yet Kenneth Copeland allegedly writes:

“Tradition has taught that God uses sickness, trials and tribulation to teach us. This idea, however, is not based on the Word of God. God HAS NEVER used sickness to discipline His children and keep them in line. Sickness is of the devil, and God doesn’t need the devil to straighten us out!”23

and on his website:

“God never inflicted anyone with disease or anything listed under the curse. SATAN WAS AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN THE ONE WHO KILLS,  STEALS, AND DESTROYS (see John 10:10).” 24

Copeland is wrong, and he is on dangerous ground because He is taking the work of God and attributing it to Satan. That is blasphemy!

False Promise #3: Victory and Success for Believers
On their website Gloria Copeland writes,

“God’s prosperity isn’t just financial blessings. It also includes healing, protection, favor, wisdom, success, well-being and every good thing you could possibly need—all the good things Jesus paid for you to have.”25

and

“It just boils down to this: We have to live by faith and trust in God. In Him we have already been delivered from the whole curse. We’re protected from danger, sickness, lack or any other bad thing that’s under the curse. God promised us in Psalm 91, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect
those who trust in my name’ (verse 14, New Living Translation).”26

Despite what Copeland says, the Bible is very clear that following Christ does not lead to an easier life, but rather to an increase in hardship.

Jesus said that we are actually blessed not through victory and success but through mourning, persecution, insults, poverty, hunger, weeping, hatred and rejection (Matt. 5:3-12; Luke 6:20-23; John 15:18-20). He said that those who follow Him may see their family members become their enemies (Matt. 10:34-36; Luke 14:25-26), and that the world would hate them (Matthew 10:22; John 15:18). All who follow Jesus must give up everything (Luke 14:33) and deny themselves and take up a cross (Matt. 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:23), which means embracing an instrument of torture and death.

Throughout the book of Acts the disciples were persecuted, hauled into courts, threatened, imprisoned, beaten, flogged, stoned to death and put to the sword. They faced riots and mobs. False witnesses were brought against them. They were scattered from their homes (Acts 8:1) and some believers even had their property confiscated (Heb. 10:34).

At one point Paul was imprisoned for two years (Acts 24:27). According to 1 Cor. 4:9-13, he and his companions suffered hunger and thirst, their clothing was reduced to rags, they were brutally treated, they were homeless, cursed, persecuted, slandered, and they compared themselves to scum and refuse. They was “hard-pressed”, “perplexed”, “persecuted”, “struck down”, and “always given over to death” (2 Cor. 4:8-11). They faced troubles, hardships, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, riots, hard work, sleepless nights, hunger, dishonor, bad report, beatings, sorrow, and poverty. (2 Cor. 6:4-10). Paul himself was chained and imprisoned frequently, flogged five times, beaten with rods three times, stoned once, shipwrecked three times, and was constantly on the move from danger. Cold and naked, he sometimes went without food, water or sleep. (2 Cor. 11:23-27) At one point in his ministry everyone deserted him (2 Tim. 4:16), and at another time the pressure and despair was so great that he no longer wanted to live (2 Cor. 1:8-9).

Yet Copeland writes:

“The only suffering we encounter in sharing His victory is spiritual. That’s what the Word is talking about when it says we are to be partakers of Christ’s suffering. In other words, the only suffering for a believer is the spiritual discomfort brought by resisting the pressures of the flesh, not a
physical or mental suffering. Jesus has already borne for us all the suffering in the natural and mental realms. . .That’s why it’s to God’s glory when we are healed or delivered physically and mentally, for we only have to fight in the spirit realm.”27

Apparently Paul just never learned how speak to victory into his life. Are we to assume Copeland is a stronger man of faith than Paul was?

Hardly. Paul understood the essential Christian doctrine of self-denial. He was willing to take up his cross, put to death his sinful nature, and face persecution and death daily as a bondslave of Christ and for the benefit of others. Yet this crucial Christian concept is strangely absent in Copeland’s prosperity teaching.

Hebrews 11:35-39 describes men of God who were tortured, jeered at, flogged, chained, imprisoned, stoned, sawed in two, and put to death by the sword. They wore sheepskins and goatskins and wandered the deserts and mountains, living in caves and holes in the ground. The were destitute, persecuted, and mistreated. The Copelands would say these were people of weak faith, but verse 39 says they were commended for their faith!

The Blessings of Suffering, Sickness, and Hardship

Suffering can be a blessing (Matt. 5:3-12; Luke 6:20-23; 1 Pet. 3:14; 4:14). Christians should not be surprised at suffering (1 Peter 4:12; 1 John 3:13; 1 Thess. 3:3-4; Acts 14:22; 2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Thess. 3:4) but embrace it joyfully (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 4:13). Godliness and suffering go hand in hand (2 Tim. 3:12). Sometimes suffering is actually God’s will (1 Peter 3:17; 4:19; Hebrew 12:7) and He uses it to bring about many positive results, such as:

A greater dependance on God (2 Cor. 1:9; 12:7-10)
Joy (Matt. 5:10-12; Luke 6:22-23; Acts 5:41; Rom. 5:3-4; 2 Cor. 12:9-10; Col. 1:24; 1 Thess. 1:6; 1 Peter 4:13; Heb. 10:34; James 1:2-4)
Patience (2 Cor. 1:6; James 5:10; Rev. 1:9)
Courage (Matt. 10:28; Phil. 1:28; 1 Thess. 2:2; Rev. 2:10)
Freedom from Shame (2 Tim. 1:8,12; 1 Peter 4:16)
Perseverance/Endurance (Rom. 5:3; 1 Cor. 4:12; 1 Thess. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:3; 2 Tim. 4:5; Heb. 10:32,36; 12:7; James 1:2-4,12; 1 Peter 4:19; Rev. 1:9, 2:3,10,13)
Character (Rom. 5:3-4)
Hope(Rom. 5:3-4)
A harvest of righteousness and peace (Heb. 12:11)
Closeness to Jesus and a longing for heaven (Rom. 8:17; Phil. 3:10; Heb. 11:26,35; 12:2-3; 13:13; 1 Peter 4:1; Rev. 21:4)
Thankfulness (1 Thess. 5:18)
Blessing and Kindness (1 Cor. 4:12-13)
Gentleness and Respect (1 Peter 3:14-17)
Opportunities to show forgiveness to others (Matt. 5:39-45; 2 Tim. 4:16)
Blessings and Comfort for others (1 Cor. 12:25-26; 2 Cor. 1:3-7; 8:2-4; Eph. 3:13; Phil. 1:14; Col. 1:24; 1 Thess. 3:2-4; 2 Tim. 2:8-10; Heb. 13:3)

Rather than being a sign of “lack of faith”, suffering can be one of the greatest tools God uses for strengthening our faith, and a sign that we are indeed living according to His will!

Yet on his website Kenneth Copeland writes:

“Over the years, this unscriptural doctrine of suffering for God by submitting to such works of the devil as sickness, lack and oppression has become a veritable sacred cow. But it’s time we knocked that cow in the head.”28

One has to wonder if Copeland is even reading the same Bible as the rest of us.

Blessed by God?

Does God desire to bless us? Absolutely!!! But the greatest blessings of God are not the things this world admires, for “what is highly esteemed among men is detestable in God’s sight” (Luke 16:15).

We are blessed through suffering and persecution (Matt. 5:10-12; 1 Pet. 3:14; 4:14). We are blessed through being meek and pure in heart, through showing mercy and making peace (Matt. 5:1-10). We are blessed through faithful devotion to Christ (Matt. 11:6) and in understanding who Christ really is (Matt. 16:17). We are blessed by giving to others (Acts 20:35) and by helping the hungry, lonely, naked, sick, imprisoned, poor, crippled, lame and blind (Matt. 25:34-36; Luke 14:13-14). We are blessed by obeying the word of God (Luke 11:28; John 13:17; James 1:25) and by persevering through trials (James 1:12; 5:11). We are blessed by believing in Christ (John 20:29) and through repentance (Acts 3:26). We are blessed through the forgiveness Christ purchased for us on the cross (Rom. 4:6-8) and the hope of eternal life (Titus 2:13; Rev. 20:6)

Conclusion

There are good reasons why the Bible commands us to “test everything” and “preserve sound doctrine”, and warns us repeatedly about false teachers. While the Copeland’s have some good things to say, we must remember that Satan does not feed us poison outright— he hides it in the meat.

Whether they mean to or not, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland mislead people with false promises. Their supposed “life of victory” ultimately breeds guilt, fear, confusion, worry, disillusionment, and lack of true peace.

They keep people from dealing properly with the struggles of life. They present a false view of God, give man control of his own destiny, and attribute some of God’s work to Satan. They turn prayer into manipulation. They lead people to put their faith in the wrong thing and then prevent that faith from truly growing stronger.

They preach a gospel of materialism instead of self-denial, and make it harder for people to learn what God wants to teach them through suffering. Their theology is sloppy and they are misleading many for their own financial gain.

For all of this the Copeland’s must be held accountable. God holds teachers and prophets to very high standards (James 3:1; Deut. 18:20), and so should we.

Footnotes:
(KCM is short for Kenneth Copeland Ministries)

http://www.cedricstudio.com/personal/copeland.html

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Word of Faith Healing Promises

Another entire category of defective doctrines stemming from the Word of Faith movement are those doctrines concerning the guarantee of physical health.

While most Christians believe God is capable of healing- and does heal, the WOF doctrine teaches that healing is a divine right of every believer in Christ; from the simple headache to heart disease, all are to be healed in the life of a Christian. In fact, the essence of the teaching is that a believer living rightly will not even encounter sickness and disease. If one does, it is the fault of the believer himself, for God has granted the ability for each believer to be free from such physical limitations.

Sickness does not belong to you. It has no part in the Body of Christ. Sickness does not belong to any of us. The Bible declares if the Word of God is in our life, there will be health, there will be healing – divine health and divine healing. There will be no sickness for the saint of God. If Moses could live such a healthy life, so can you… He promises to heal all – every one, any, any whatsoever, everything – all our diseases! That means not even a headache, sinus problem, not even a toothache – nothing! No sickness should come your way.
Benny Hinn (Rise & Be Healed!, p. 14, 32)

The source of this doctrine is noted to come from two sources; the Bible itself, and the workings of one’s exercise of his “word of faith.”

Scriptural Healing according to WOF

As to the scriptural evidence of their doctrines, the most proclaimed passage supposing to teach that healing belongs to every believer is found in Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV)
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Normally, using the KJV version of verse 5b, “by his stripes we are healed,” the WOF teacher asserts “healing” as a foundational element of the atonement of Christ. We are healed, they say, by the atoning work of Christ on the cross.

There is no debate that Isaiah 53 speaks of the coming Messiah, Jesus, nor is there any debate whether healing is fundamentally established in his atoning work. The issue which must be addressed, however, is the definition of the term “healing” in Isaiah 53.

Healing is clearly established in the text. Verse 4 notes, “he took up our infirmities.” “Infirmities” comes from the Hebrew term, h?olî (kho-lee’), which can refer to sickness or calamity. The term “healed” in verse 5 comes from Hebrew, r?p?? (ra-fah’), which means healed or repaired. The question that needs to be answered is, “healed from what?” The answer, of course, is found in the context of the passage.

If one had a conversation concerning his athlete’s foot problem and noted that he had “been healed” by a certain product which was used, another would not for the reason of the statement “I’ve been healed” think that the person had unilaterally received healing from a cold which he may have had at the same time. The context of the reported healing is the limit of what the term was intended to refer to. Stated another way: if you’re discussing athletes foot and note that you’ve been healed, one would not presume you to also mean that you were healed of all other ailments. You were healed only from the ailment which you referred to within your context.

The context of Isaiah 53 specifically notes a healing or a cure of a specific item from its context. That item is sin. The healing of Isaiah 53 is painfully obvious to one who takes time to read and understand the text!

Isaiah makes four statements. Each statement is a parallel of the others. And, each statement contains the exact same subject matter.

He states in verse 5 a singular truth, using parallelism. Part one of the parallel notes that Jesus paid for our sins. Part two of the parallel stipulates that by his payment, we are free, or “healed.”

§ Jesus paid for our sins:

· “He was pierced for our transgressions”

· “He was crushed for our iniquities”

§ Because of his payment, we are free:

· “The punishment that brought us peace is upon him”

· “By his wounds we are healed.”

The entire context of this text relates to sin and Jesus’ coming atonement for sin. Other than the use of the term “healed,” there is nothing in the text which would make one consider sickness to be an element of what Jesus was to do for mankind. However the term “healed” does not merely refer to sickness. One can be healed from a broken bone. One can be healed from an oppression. Likewise, one can be healed spiritually, as Isaiah 53 speaks of.

Hebrew parallelism is a poetic device whereby a statement is made twice to reaffirm its meaning in verse. In this parallel, “pierced” is equated with “crushed,” “transgressions” is equated with “iniquities,” “punishment” is equated with “wounds,” and “peace” is equated with “healed.”

The healing in the text speaks nothing about earthly illness, but rather a healing from the penalties of sin. Verse 6 confirms the context as it notes,

Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

There is no question concerning Isaiah 53’s intended meaning to one who practices legitimate biblical interpretive method. In fact, in order to get the idea of “healing from sicknesses” from Isaiah 53, one must deliberately misrepresent the text to an audience which is ill-equipped to interpret it for themselves. Isaiah 53 tells one dynamic story from beginning to end: Messiah would come and pay the penalty of man’s sin, as verse 12 concludes the matter,

Isaiah 53:12 (NIV)
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Jesus “bore the sin” of the world and made “intercession” for transgressors. The “healing” noted in verse 5 was a healing from sin. The healing was spiritual in nature, not physical. In fact, the penalty of sin is death. It has been death from the very beginning. God did not say to Adam and Eve “the day you eat of it you will surely get sick,” but “the day you eat of it you will surely die.” If this healing of sin were to be understood as physical in nature in Isaiah 53, one would expect that men would stop experiencing physical death! But they do not- because Isaiah 53 speaks of the healing of man’s spiritual condition. He is healed from sin, being given a substitutionary atonement through the stripes of Christ’s vicarious suffering.

Yet, according to WOF teachers, it is physical healing which Isaiah 53 speaks, and that healing is inherently available to all believers through the suffering of Christ on the cross. If you are a believer, then you have healing at your disposal.

“Salvation and healing are two gifts wrapped up in the same package. For God, healing is just as important and necessary as Salvation.”?Rod Parsley (The Backside Of Calvary, Results Publishing, Columbus, OH, 1991, p. 55)

The “package” Parsley speaks of is that of atonement. He believes that the blood which brought spiritual restoration to mankind also brought healing to the bodies of believers in this lifetime.

Scripture does teach that all believers will receive a new, glorified body which will never get sick and die. But, scripture teaches that the reception of that body is upon the believer’s resurrection from this life, rather than upon one’s salvation.

1 Corinthians 15:50-53 (NIV)
50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

According to Paul, mortality is the nature of the bodies in which we live. To that end, one must understand that the penalty of sin given at the garden of Eden, “the day you eat of it you will surely die,” is something which will endure until that time when one receives the immortal body. Sickness and death came together into existence in a package deal. Sickness is the state of this human body.

To that end, one can say that Christ’s atonement will bring healing upon the completion of one’s life on earth. However, Isaiah 53 speaks nothing of the sort, but refers uniquely of the atonement for sin.

In the end, however, scripture is unnecessary for a WOF teacher to proclaim universal healing, for in their doctrine, whatever one wants, in fact, is accessible by one’s proclamation of one’s word of faith.

Claiming” healing using the word of faith

The second way, then, one receives whatever one wants, it so use one’s inherent abilities via the force of faith to achieve one’s goals. If you don’t have what you think you need, such as healing, according to the WOF teacher, you can speak your creation into existence!

“Say to your body, ‘You’re whole, body! Why, you just function so beautifully and so well. Why, body, you never have any problems. You’re a strong, healthy body.’ Or speak to your leg, or speak to your foot, or speak to your neck, or speak to your back; and once you have spoken and believe that you have received, and don’t go back on it. Speak to your wife, speak to your husband, speak to your circumstances; and speak faith to them to create in them and God will create what you are speaking.”?
Marilyn Hickey (Claim Your Miracles audiotape, #186, side 2)

Hickey uses the exact same formula she uses for wealth, which will be examined in the next section. If you lack wealth, you speak to your wallet! If you lack healing, according to Hickey, you simply “speak to your circumstances.”

Likewise, WOF teachers teach the opposite formula is also true. If one claims to have a headache, for example, that headache will never leave! It is prolonged by the very “word of faith” which claims it to exist.

“The believer should never die before the age of 70. That is the minimum and then they should live to be 120 years. This is done by faith words If you keep talking death, that is what you are going to have. If you keep talking sickness and disease, that is what you are going to have, because you are going to create the reality of them with your own mouth. That is a divine law.”
Fredrick K.C. Price (Realm, 29)

Price contends that if one speaks of sickness and disease, “that is what you are going to have, because you are going to create the reality of them with your own mouth.” When all else fails, these teachers will go back to the rudiments of their theology and put the “word of faith” back in control of their circumstances; in spite of what scripture teaches on a subject. Whether healing, power or cold hard cash, the confession of one’s mouth is the end-all source of receiving according to this doctrine.

Even America’s star, Joel Osteen, has endorsed this bandwagon approach to doctrine.

“Start calling in divine health….You may have sickness in your body; you need to call in health. Words are like seeds; they have creative power.”
Joel Osteen (”Speaking Faith Filled Words”, Tape # 223, 2004)

Suffice it to say, that once one has endorsed the root premise concerning the “word of faith,” one can then assume anything he desires as attainable. In such cases, has not man become God himself? Is it not man, with this powerful force indeed in charge of his own destiny? Is man now God incarnate? This is indeed the synopsis of the WOF teaching.

“As a believer, you have a right to make commands in the name of Jesus. Each time you stand on the Word, you are commanding God to a certain extent because it is His Word.”
Kenneth Copeland (Our Covenant with God, 1987, p. 32)

“Yes! You are in control! So, if man has control, who no longer has it? God.”
Fredrick K.C. Price (”Prayer: Do You Know What Prayer Is … and How to Pray?” The Word Study Bible, 1990 p. 1178)

This leads to the most tragic of all possible doctrines regarding the physical healing of believers. For, according to the WOF teachers, your healing is entirely up to you! If you are not healed, then, there is a problem with your faith and it is entirely your own fault!

“The Bible declares that the work was done 2,000 years ago. God is not going to heal you now — he healed you 2,000 years ago. All you have to do today is receive your healing by faith”
Benny Hinn (Rise and Be Healed, p. 44).

“Sometimes people won’t receive their healing. Sometimes they’re full of fear or doubt or unbelief, and they can’t take what God is giving them.”
Kenneth Copeland (”Believer’s Voice Of Victory”, October 1999, pg. 23).

Thus, it is your faith which heals you. If you are not healed it is because of your own lack of faith. And, in that case, according to Fred Price, you are choosing to live in a body which is unfitting for God’s use!

“How can you glorify God in your body, when it doesn’t function right? How can you glorify God? How can He get glory when your body doesn’t even work? What makes you think the Holy Ghost wants to live inside a body where He can’t see out through the windows and He can’t hear with the ears? What makes you think the Holy Spirit wants to live inside of a physical body where the limbs and the organs and the cells do not function right?”
Fredrick K.C. Price (”Is God Glorified Through Sickness?” audiotape #FP605)

As offensive as it sounds, any doctrine which establishes fully that God will heal any sick person if they have enough faith, or if they ask correctly or if any other number of human-initiated scenarios is done “properly,” is a doctrine which makes the believer ultimately at fault for their own sicknesses.

How would one explain this truth to Joni Ericson Tada, Tony Melendez or any of thousands of believers who serve God faithfully in spite of a debilitating illness or injury? Is God not using their ministry? According to Price, the Holy Spirit would not want to live inside a body that does not function right! Does this, then, eliminate the possibility of salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for sick or injured people?

Luckily, a voice much louder, thoroughly tested and approved than the voices of Price, Copeland, Hinn, Osteen and all other human teachers exists to us in scripture itself.

A Biblical Example of non-healing

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV)
7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul notes the receiving of a “thorn in the flesh.” Paul clearly does not speak of a literal thorn, but a metaphorical one. He had an ailment of some sort. He notes this ailment to stem from a “messenger of Satan, to torment me.” “Messenger” is in fact the Greek term, angelos, which is frequently rendered “angel,” depending on the context. If a person sends an angelos to another, the term is usually rendered “messenger.” Yet, for this messenger to be from Satan, it could rightly be understood to represent a demonic affliction of illness, which is a biblical occurrence in several cases. (Matthew 12:22) While this is problematic for some, scripture teaches that God does allow demonic affliction at times, such as Job’s illnesses. Job was a righteous man, yet God allowed Satan to inflict his body with very painful sores. Paul, it appears, had such an illness, himself. It was a physical infirmity of some type, which he noted as coming from a messenger of Satan.

What is fascinating about Paul’s illness is that God chose to allow Paul to suffer with his ailment rather than healing him from it! This is clearly in denial of the WOF teaching that healing is a God-given right for every believer. In fact, God refused to heal Paul based on the premise that Paul could better serve God with his affliction! He stated, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Translation? God wanted Paul to have this particular ailment! For starters, Satan would have had to have obtained permission to afflict Paul, a believer (Luke 22:21, Job 1:8-12; 2:3-6), but more importantly, God indicated that even Paul’s affliction was something He (God) desired. As Paul notes, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Contrary to Fred Price’s false report, scripture teaches that God is actually glorified when a believer endures sickness or bodily malfunction by depending on Christ’s power to achieve that which their less than perfect bodies are unable to do for themselves. How dare Price to bring humility, accusation and disrespect to those temples of the Holy Spirit; some of which could be experiencing God’s grace in their suffering, as Paul did.

The sheer volume of flaw demonstrated by WOF theology only continues to assert the real purpose of its teachers.

Titus 1:11 (NIV)
11 They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach–and that for the sake of dishonest gain.

In the pursuit of that purpose, they have continually maligned God’s word and have ruined people who are physically hindered by sickness, injury or defect. How devastating to the legitimate body of Christ it is when its weak are destroyed for the sake of the wealthy pretenders among them.

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Top 5 False Doctrines To Avoid

by IMAblogger.net

NUMBER 1 – THE WORD OF FAITH GOSPEL

— What Is This All About ? —

The Word of Faith Doctrine, The Prosperity Gospel, The Name it And Claim It Creed… The list goes on and on with this False Doctrine. This doctrine is probably the greatest weapon that Satan has used in these last several decades to destroy Faith in Christ and His Finished Work. The direction of this doctrine sends the seeker in a wrong direction than what God has intended for believers.

As Judaism was the great hindrance to the Message of Grace during the time of Paul, the so-called “faith Message” is the great hindrance presently. In fact, I believe it is even worse than Judaism.

First of all, the faith which is proposed is really no faith at all, at least that which God will recognize. If our faith isn’t properly in Christ Crucified, we are not truly in “Faith”. ( I Cor. 1:17-18, 21,23; 2:2; Col. 2:14-15; Eph 2:13-18). The “Word of Faith” teaching totally denigrates the Cross. It is referred to as “past miseries,” or even as “the greatest defeat in human history.” It also teaches that the Blood of Jesus Christ didn’t atone. While it will say out of one side of its mouth that the Blood does atone, it will then turn around and say, but not within itself. And with that little hook, people are made to believe that they are teaching and preaching the Blood, which they aren’t.

They teach that Jesus became a sinner while on the Cross, died as a sinner, which means that He died spiritually, thereby went to Hell, and we speak of the burning side of Hell, and there suffered for three days and nights the agony of the damned. At the end of the three days and nights, they continue to teach, God then said, “It is enough,” meaning that He had suffered enough. He was then “born again,” even as any sinner is Born-Again, and then resurrected. So when they talk about a person’s faith in Christ in order to be saved, they’re speaking of trusting Christ and what He did in the pit of Hell as a lost sinner. Incidentally, all of this is pure fiction, with not a shred of it being in the Bible. But sadly, untold millions believe it!

The teaching of the “Word of Faith Message” of which has been written here, is none other than blasphemy. It cannot be construed as anything else. To believe such a doctrine, which is the worst perversion of the Atonement that Satan has ever concocted, is none other than believing a lie. That’s why Paul said:

“Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; prove your own selves, know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except you be reprobates?” ( II Cor. 13:5)

These are strong terms as given by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle. He is saying that any doctrine, any teaching, that eliminates the Cross, is termed as a reprobate doctrine, which produces “reprobates.” Reprobates in the Greek is “adokimos,” and means, “rejected, worthless, cast away.” So in effect Paul is saying that any other type of faith is a “worthless faith.”

The truth is, anyone who takes unto themselves the false message of the “Word of Faith” doctrine has taken a path that will ultimately lead to spiritual ruin.

— Who Is Involved ? —

wof

Mike Murdock / Paula White / Benny Hinn / Kenneth Copeland / Gloria Copeland / Creflo Dollar / Steve Munsey / Jesse Duplantis / Pretty Much All of the TBN Network / Pretty Much All of the Daystar Network / Marcus Lamb / Joni Lamb / Too Many More To Mention /

NUMBER 2 – THE GOSPEL OF SELF ESTEEM

— What Is This All About ? —

To correct this situation, man (not God) has come up with the false gospel of “self-esteem.” This false way basically teaches that man’s problem is that he does not readily know his self-worth; man consequently needs his self-esteem elevated. If this can be done, they teach, man’s problems will be solved.

In order to place this new teaching into proper perspective, we should realize that so-called “Christian” psychologists and psychiatrists transplanted it from outside the Church and from outside the Bible, and I speak of that which is truly the Bible, preferably the King James Version or another Word for word translation and not a paraphrase. A leading evangelical psychologist, who vigorously promotes self-worth teaching, explains, in one of his books, “You’re someone special:”
“Under the influence of humanistic psychologists, like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, many of us Christians have begun to see our need for self-love and self-esteem.”

Satan’s threefold humanistic plan for world domination is basically simple, and you might be surprised how well it correlates with this new theology:

1. Darwinism (Darwin) — the concept of evolution, as it affects the social man, resulting in abortion, humanism, and the “survival of the fittest.”

2. Marxism (Communism and Socialism) — Satan’s economic foundation, which has been proven the world over to be an unworkable philosophy. It results in nothing but poverty.

3. Freudianism (Psychology) — a profound influence on the morals of man, and leading, one might say, toward immorality. And there you have it! Satan’s three-pronged assault — social, economic, and moral. The self-esteem philosophy comes directly from Freudian principles, and it does demand an entirely different

— Who Is Involved ? —Robert Schuller, Joel Osteen

One of the foremost proponents of the self-esteem gospel, Robert Schuller, has called for a “new reformation,” stating that the Sixteenth Century movement (under Martin Luther and John Calvin) was a “reactionary movement” because it emphasized that men are sinners. Schuller goes on to say,

“Once a person believes he is a ‘unworthy sinner,’ it is doubtful he can honestly accept the Saving Grace God offers in Jesus Christ.”

Schuller then offers his blueprint for bringing sinners to Salvation:

“If you want to know why I make people laugh once in a while, I am giving them sounds and strokes, sounds and strokes, like you would a baby. “It’s a strategy. People who don’t trust need to be stroked. People are born with a negative self-image. Because they do not trust, they cannot trust God.”

Of course, if this man is right, accepted Evangelistic practices, which have brought millions to Christ, are wrong. We should then stop telling people they’re sinners who need Jesus Christ as their Savior. We must no longer convince them of their sin and rebellion against a Holy God. We must never speak of Hell, nor warn of the terrible, eternal consequences of rejecting the wonderful offer of Salvation as an unmerited gift from God.

Instead we should begin to stroke men and women into faith, smile them into the kingdom of God, and elevate their self-esteem. If one knows his Bible, he will agree that this is a major change in Christian perspective. However, the proponent of this false gospel has an even broader concept in mind. He goes on to say:

“A theology of self-esteem also produces a theology of social ethics and a theology of economics — and these produce a theologyof government. It all rises on one foundation: the dignity of a person who is created in the image of God.”

Basically, this self-esteem theology states that we need a new reformation and a new theology.

What it also suggests — but does not openly state — is that we need a new Bible. But, truthfully, without openly saying so, it is now giving the Church a new Bible. I speak of the many new interpretations which are now on the market, such as “The Message Bible,” and scores of others of similar perversion. By no stretch of the imagination can these interpretations be called the “Bible.” Pure and simple, they constitute no more than mere prattle, one might even say drivel, of man. Concerning this new gospel of self-esteem, it strikes at the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The True Gospel states that man is a lost sinner, who cannot save himself, and who thus desperately needs a Redeemer.

One the same steps as Schuller, stands a megachurch leader by the name of Joel Osteen. His charming smile and his personable tone leads many to wonder: “How can this man be wrong”? Well, its all about the message. He will not preach the cross. He will not preach the blood. He will not preach about sin. He will only tell you how great a person you are and how much potential you have in you. He will tell you to repeat phrases to yourself daily for affirmation. He will not direct you to God, but he will lead you to self every time.

— Why Should I Avoid Them ? —

(MARK 8:34) “AND WHEN HE HAD CALLED THE PEOPLE UNTO HIM WITH HIS DISCIPLES ALSO, HE SAID UNTO THEM, WHOSOEVER WILL COME AFTER ME, LET HIM DENY HIMSELF, AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS, AND FOLLOW ME.”

The phrase, “And when He had called the people unto Him with His Disciples also,” speaks of an interval of some period of time between His rebuke of Peter and this present statement. In the previous exchange, only the Disciples were included; but others are now also addressed! What Jesus will say will be the very heartbeat of what it means to a Christian; consequently, the Message is given not only to the Disciples, but also to the people, because it is a requirement for all! The phrase, “Whosoever will come after Me,” refers to those who accept the call. It means to be Born-Again, to become His Disciple, to follow His Teachings, and to enter into His fellowship. If one is to notice, Jesus didn’t say, “Come after the Church,” or “Preacher,” or “Priest,” or “Prophet,” but rather Christ Himself (“Me”). Christianity without Christ is no more than any other philosophy. Such produces the moralist, of which there is an abounding number, but does not produce a changed life. The moralist reduces Christianity to a mere religion, which makes it little different than the other religions of the world. Actually, Christianity, within itself, cannot change anything or anyone. Only Christ can change hearts and lives! He actually makes a new creature of all who come to Him.

When we preach self and how great we humans are, first of all, we are lying and second we are doing the opposite of what Christ taught and what God expects.

NUMBER 3 – THE PURPOSE DRIVEN …

— What Is This All About ? —

The Purpose Driven Life attempts to turn a born again life into one of pragmatism rather than one being led by the Spirit of God. The book series has many “uplifting” stories of giving purpose and hope to a people worldwide. It subverts God’s way in order to push certain agendas that are exposed in the book series. The doctrine is filled with biblical half truths held up by scriptures that are only partial and taken out of context. The quotation of many paraphrase translations of the Word of God are used in order to fit into what The Purpose Driven Life is trying to indoctrinate. The founders of The Purpose Driven series draw their visions from the business world in order to try to grow the church in ways never tried before in the Body of Christ.

— Who Is Involved ? —Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founder and pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. He is responsible for writing the Purpose Driven Series while receiving personal help from business guru, Peter Drucker. Between these two characters and other like minded individuals, they founded a new way to “DO” church. These methods brought people into the church in droves, but at the same time threw out all sound doctrine. Warm bodies on the pews seemed to be the only goal at the beginning while now it has expanded to Global domination and an inclusive doctrine.

— Why Should I Avoid Them ? —

Any group who throws out sound doctrine to “tickle the ears” of the saints, has done a great injustice to the work of Christ. When any body refuses to confront sin as sin in order to bring no offense and risk the possibility of losing a member, has compromised the message of Christ and thus became apostate. This group, and many like it, attempt to widen the gate that Jesus Himself calls narrow. Rick Warren’s idea of Salvation is not telling the sinner of their need to repent due to their sins. This is how you get saved in Rick Warren’s mind, according to The Purpose Driven Life book:

‘Dear God, I want to know Your purpose for my life. I don’t want to waste the rest of my life on the wrong things. Today I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know You. Jesus Christ, I don’t understand it all, but as much as I know how, I want to open my life to You. I ask you to come into my life and make yourself real to me. Use this series to help me know what You made me for. Thank you. Amen.’

“If you just prayed that prayer for the very first time, I congratulate you. You’ve just become a part of the family of God.”

Those were words from his book, and that is the dogma that is held high by that camp. Avoid this at all costs. Eternal souls are in the balance, and messages like this do nothing to aid in leading people in the correct direction. The focus should be Christ crucified. It should ever be that we glory in the Cross of Christ. Not in the works or programs of man.

NUMBER 4 – THE EMERGENT CHURCH

Preface: I know I will probably get a lot of backlash about this one, but hear me out. The proponents of the Emergent Church will probably say that they have heard my schpiel over and over again, but nonetheless, I “schpiel” on.

— What Is This All About ? —

The Emerging Church is all about change. They vocalize that, as the culture and society of the world changes, so should the Church. The Word of God becomes less true to the Emergent Church because they want to bring unity to the world by compromising the scriptures in order to avoid any offense. There is deep thought to what God “really” thinks about sin and hell. There is much avoidance of mentioning that some other person’s religion might actually bring them down a path to hell. They like to read the scriptures with an attidude of:

“Yea, God did write about hell in the Bible, but how can a loving God actually send people to hell, if it even exists”?

They liken God to a parent who might threaten a punishment or make up the boggie man in order to get the kids in line, while all the while the parent never intends to follow through with the punishment.

— Who Is Involved ? —Brian McLaren is one of the major mouth pieces of the Emergent Church Movement. You may have read a post on this website about some of his escapades. To read more about Brian McLaren read here and here.

— Why Should I Avoid Them ? —

The False Doctrine that the Emergent Church presents about inclusivism and the compromise of the scriptures is addressed as directly contrary to scriptures such as Revelation 2:14-17 where the church of Pergamos is addressed as preaching a False Doctrine. I think the bottom line is, the Word of God stands true now as it has always. We shouldn’t invent new ways to do God’s work. We should just “Do” what God says. We have to tell others about Christ and His Finished Work on Calvary. There is a literal Hell, and souls are going there daily. If the Emergents are right, and there is no Hell, and all roads lead to Heaven, then WOW! Great. But Why did Christ have to die? ….What if the Emergents are wrong??? What if in condoning sin and accepting all religions and celebrating them as on the same road to heaven, they are actually doing the souls of man no good. I am of the belief that Man is sinful and wicked. We are in need of a savior. In Christ we have hope and must accept him, or we will be held accountable for our sins and thus pay an eternal price. I wouldn’t want to be wrong about that one. Not when you are so close.

MATTHEW CHAPTER 7

13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it

NUMBER 5 – THE NEW MYSTICS

—What Is This All About ?—

They claim to be a Christ centered ministry, but warning signs go off when they expound that their vision is to “practice the presence of God”. They are deep into “soaking” in the presence of God (another warning sign). They are heavily into the Signs and Wonders and promote prophetic schools where they can teach you how to function as a prophet including how to receive and deliver revelations, etc.

—Who Is Involved ?—

Probably the most famous of the New Mystics would be John and Lily Crowder and Benjamin Dunn. A simple google or Youtube search will bring up videos of these clowns “getting high” and drunk in the presence of god. They make an open mockery of the Holy Spirit and His giftings. I have posted about one video in particular here. and here.

Another prominent member of this movement is Joshua Mills. You might recognize him from one of my past posts here where Patricia King, another Mystic, builds his lies up until you hear the lies from his own mouth. Joshua mills regularly encounters angels, angel dust, gold dust, diamond dust, diamonds, feathers, and more. He even has oil pour out of his hands and onto other people.

—Why Should We Avoid Them ?—

The Bible says in Acts 17:29:

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

Our focus should be on Christ and His Finished Work.  If we are out seeking for signs and wonders we are not obeying God in his call on us to tell the World about Him.  And the simple fact that we think that fake dust signifies the Glory of God, is sad.  If I thought that glitter signified anything Godly, I might think twice about avoiding those strip clubs.  I hear those girls get covered in the stuff.

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Word of Faith Movement Refutation

What do you say to a person who tells you that you don’t have the Holy Spirit, even though you are a Christian? What should you do if you think something is wrong, or your conscience is bothering you about something that was said or done at a church? The answer? Go to the Scriptures!

The Bible has all the answers to your questions. Great deception is afoot in the Church today. In this paper, I will attempt to deal with a few statements you may hear from people who have become involved in the Third Wave revival movement. By “Third Wave? I am referring to teachers, “prophets?and any meeting associated with the Toronto “Blessing? Brownsville Assemblies of God, Rodney Howard-Browne, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Rod Parsley, Marilyn Hickey, Joyce Meyers, and many others who appear on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and the 700 Club on TV.

Hopefully, the statements and answers here will set you off on an investigation of your own into the Word of God. Paul praised the Bereans because they “were more noble than those of Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things,that Paul taught, “was so” We must do the same in our day!

Statement 1: “You need to come to a meeting where this man can lay hands on you and give you the Holy Spirit anointing. You may be born again, but you may not have the Holy Spirit.?

Answer: I am a born again Christian, therefore I am already sealed (Eph 1:13, 4:30; 2 Cor 1:22) and baptized (1 Cor 12:13) by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is working (1 Cor 12:11; 2 Thes 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2) within me (John 7:38; 1 John 3:24, 4:13; Jam 4:5; 2 Tim 1:14) convicting (1 Thes 1:5; John 16:7-8), empowering (Eph 3:16), sanctifying (2 Thes 2:13; 1 Pet 1:12), bestowing grace gifts (1 Cor 12:4-11), and producing fruits (Gal 5:22). The Holy Spirit of God is sovereign (Heb 2:4; 1 Cor 12:11) and He cannot be transferred “by?human hands, which was the misconception of Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:18-23). A few times in Acts the Spirit was given “at?the laying on of hands (Acts 8:17; 19:6), which was always done in submission to the will of God and in agreement with His purposes (1 John 2:17). The Holy Spirit, in this age, immediately indwells all who believe (Eph 1:13-14), which does not necessitate the laying on of hands.

Statement 2: “We are seeing a great revival in these last days, where millions will be saved in preparation for the return of Christ.?

Answer: The Bible does not indicate a great end times revival or awakening, but rather a great deception (Mark 13; 2 Thes 2:9-12; 2 Pet 2:1; Matt 24:4), delusion (2 Thes 2:9-12), and the love of people growing cold (Matt 24:12). The end times are marked by many false prophets and teachers (2 Pet 2:1; Matt 7:15, 24:24; 1 John 4:1), false Christs (Matt 24:24; Mark 13:22), a different spirit (2 Cor 11:4, 1 John 4:3), false doctrines (2 Tim 4:3; 1 Tim 4:1, 6:3-5).

Matthew 24:14 says that the gospel will be preached to the ends of the earth, but it does not say millions will be saved. Rather, those who believe are a little flock (Luke 12:32) who have little strength (Rev 3:8)–a few who find the small gate and the narrow road (Matt 7:14). Jesus also asked, “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth??(Luke 18:8)

Statement 3: “Come with us to an exciting event where God is doing a new thing, and where there is new revelation not really mentioned in God’s Word.

Answer: God may do a “new thing”(Isa 43:19), but it will always be consistent with His unchangeable character (Heb 13:8), His testimony (Isa 8:20) and his unchanging (Heb 6:17), unbreakable Word (John 10:35). We are commanded not to add to or take away from Scripture (Rev 22:18-19) or to go “above that which is written?(1 Cor 4:6). We should daily search the Scriptures to discern truth from error (Acts 17:11). New revelation that does not meet the above criteria must not be accepted (Deut 13:3). We do not need to be afraid of false prophets who make up new exciting things (Deut 18:22; Jer 23:25) and prophesy falsely in the name of God (Jer 27:15), for these prophets and those who follow them will perish.

Statement 4: “Don’t be afraid of being ‘slain in the spirit? because a Christian can’t be demonized or deceived.?

Answer: There is ample evidence, both scriptural and experiential [Anyone know what this means –Ed.] that believers can be demonized, also known as POSSESSED (Job 1:8-9, 2:3, 2:7; 1 Sam 16:14-16, 18:10, 19:9; Matt 15:22-28, 16:22-23; Mark 1:23; Luke 9:52-56, 13:11-16; John 6:70-71, 13:27; Acts 5:1-11, 8:9-24; 1 Cor 5:1-5, 10:12-14; 2 Cor 2:10-11, 11:3-4, 12:7; Gal 3:1; Eph 4:25-27; 1 Thes 2:18; 1 Tim 1:19-20, 3:6-7, 4:1-2; 2 Tim 2:24-26; 1 Pet 5:8-9).

Christians can also be deceived (Matt 24:5, 11, 24; Eph 5:6; 2 Thes 2:3; 1 Cor 6:9; 2 Cor 11:3; Jam 1:16), give the devil a foothold (Eph 4:27), shipwreck their faith (1 Tim 1:19) and fall away (Luke 8:13; Gal 5:4).

Statement 5: “If you don’t come to the ‘revival?meeting, you might miss a blessing from God.

Answer: Christians are already experiencing blessings from God because of the gospel (1 Cor 9:23) of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:3) through the Holy Spirit (Isa 44:3; Gal 3:14). I also do not believe that revival comes before repentance (Acts 3:19). Repentance only comes as a result of the gospel message being clearly preached (Col 1:28, 4:4; 1 Thes 1:5) which is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom 1:16). The only way we can miss a blessing from God is to fail to “contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints?(Jude 1:3) and to no longer follow Jesus (John 6:66), being “carried about with divers and strange doctrines”(Heb 13:9).

Statement 6: “It is easier for a person to receive the ‘anointing?if they stop analyzing so much and empty their minds. ‘God offends the mind to reveal the heart.?

Answer: Christians are never to empty their minds. Our minds allow us to know God’s will (Rom 12:2), show God we love Him (Matt 22:37), and be kept in perfect peace (Isa 26:3). We need to fill our minds with the Word of Christ (Col 3:16). Emptying your mind is an occult technique used by Hindus and other false religions. God created our minds (Gen 1:27; 1 Tim 4:4), which are always to be submitted to His will (Matt 6:10, 26:42). Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “God offends the mind to reveal the heart.” However, if we are offended by the “offence of the cross? we had better check to see if we are saved (Gal 5:11).

Statement 7: “Come and sit under the teaching of latter day apostles and prophets who are even greater than the Apostles and Prophets of Scripture.

Answer: The Bible says that the church is built on the Cornerstone, which is Christ Jesus (1 Pet 2:6) and the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets (Eph 2:20). The spiritual building of the church is in its last phase. We must not and cannot lay another foundation for a house that Christ has already built on the Cornerstone and the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. Another question to ask is: are these people they are talking about persecuted and being put to death for the cause of Christ (2 Cor 4:8-9, 6:4-10; Heb 11:36-37)”Or are they making a name for themselves and becoming rich” It is likely you will find they are “talkers and deceivers?who “subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.”(Titus 1:10-11)

Statement 8: “God used the ‘force of faith” to speak the universe into existence, so we can also use the ‘force of faith” to speak health, wealth and anything else into being. Never pray ‘Thy will be done” because it shows you have a lack of faith.

Answer: You’ve been watching too much Star Wars buddy. You have also been listening to heretical teachers like Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn. God did not use any “force of faith?to create the world. He did so by His Word (2 Pet 3:5), His power (Isa 20:46), and by His will (Rev 4:11). We do not command God, but we may ask, seek and knock (Matt 7:7). However, we must ask according to His will (1 John 5:14) as long as His words remain in us (John 15:7). I do not believe in ordering God to do our bidding, like Balaam attempted to do on behalf of Balak (Num 22:8, 2 Pet 2:15, Jude 1:11). That is witchcraft, which God forbids (Deut 18:10, Gal 5:19-21). We always pray “Thy will be done? just as Jesus, John, David, Peter, Paul, James and the Holy Spirit did (Matt 6:10, 26:42; Luke 11:2; 1 John 2:17, 5:14, 15; Ps 40:8; Heb 10:7; Rom 8:27; 1 Pet 3:17; Col 1:9, Jam 4:13-16).

Statement 9: “Listen to all the positive testimonies. They are a good indication that God is doing a work of revival in these meetings.”

Answer: Testimonies are subjective. That is, they are not easily proven. What really happened? Was the person really healed and for how long? Positive testimonies of life changing experiences and miracles can be found in every religion and cult in the world. Testimonies are nice, but we must not base our faith on them. The first way we are to judge a person or movement is by their doctrinal teachings. If they are teaching false doctrine, you can be sure that it is not a revival from God. Here are some discernment questions to ask:

1) Are the revival leaders “workers of righteousness’ or “workers of iniquity’ Does financial greed or good works characterize them? (Matt 23:25; 1 Thes 2:5) Good doctrine or fables? (1 Tim 4:1-8) Deep Christian character, or selfish ambition? (Jam 3:14-18) Are they “law-full?or “lawless’ (Matt 7:15-23)

2) What are the long term fruits in terms of Christian character–especially faithfulness, truth, love, mercy, and righteousness? (Matt 7:16-20; Gal 5:22, 23; Eph 5:9; Jam 3:14-18)

3) Does the revival as a whole display a love of sound doctrine? What is the revival leader’s attitude about Scripture? (2 Pet 3:13-18; 1 Tim 4:1-8)

4) Does the revival have a clear aim? Is it taking people somewhere? Can the results of the movement be built on by later generations? Is it a “house of straw?or a well-constructed foundation for the future? Is it built on Christ–that is, the historical Jesus of Scripture? (Matt 7:15-29; 1 Cor 3:10-17)

5) Are the revival leaders sound morally? Does the revival manage to avoid the twin dangers of immorality on one hand, or overbearing legalism on the other? (Col 2:18-23; Jude 1:4)

6) What is the attitude of the revival to the rest of the body of Christ? Is it humble or proud? Is it boastful? Does it separate itself?

Statement 10: “Did you know that since you belong to Christ you are a ‘little god?or a ‘little messiah? You are everything that God is. You are ‘I Am”

Answer: We believers are all children of God (John 1:12), sons of God (Gal 3:26), and together the bride of Christ (Rev 19:7). We are not Christ Himself, nor are we God. If we are little gods, then the statement that there is only on God would be untrue (Rom 3:30). There is also only one Father’s Son, who is Jesus Christ (2 John 1:3). This “little gods?teaching by people like Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn is a doctrine of demons because it is one of the first lies Satan told Eve (Gen 3:5) and the sin of Satan himself (Isa 14:13-14). Also, the body of Christ is no Christ Himself. Christ is the Head of His church (Eph 1:10). Jesus is 100% man and 100% God for all eternity and physically sits at the right hand of God in His glorified body (Rom 8:34; Col 2:9). He is coming again bodily to rule and judge the earth (Rev 11:15).

Statement 11: “Those who question the teachings of the leaders of the revival may end up cursed.

Answer: It is true they may be cursed, but not by God. Many revival leaders have cursed any person to death that disagrees with what they are doing and teaching. Benny Hinn has done this many times, as well as John Kilpatrick, Steve Hill and Michael Brown of Brownville, and Paul Crouch of TBN. God commands us to discern truth from error (Luke 12:57; 2 Pet 3:17, John 7:24), test the spirits (1 John 4:1), check what is taught with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11; 1 Cor 10:15, Isa 8:20; 1 Cor 4:6), and reject heretics (Titus 3:10). We are also commanded of God not to curse, like these men curse and persecute us, but to bless. (Rom 12:14)

Statement 12: “The Bible says: ‘Judge not lest you be judged.’ Don’t judge this move of God or its leaders. ‘Touch not the Lord’s anointed.’

Answer: The kind of judging in Matt 7:1 is hypocritical judgment. In other words, judging someone for what they are doing while you are doing the same thing. However, there are many ways in which we ARE called to judge. We are to judge what people teach (1 Cor 10:15, Acts 17:11), judge between right and wrong morally (1 Cor 5:11-13; Luke 12:57; 2 Pet 3:17; John 7:24), test the spirits (1 John 4:1). If a person or movement is teaching false doctrine or making false prophecies, we are to rebuke them (Titus 1:13). If they do not repent, we are to come away from them (Rev 18:4), mark them and avoid them (Rom 16:17), have no fellowship with them (Eph 5:1), withdraw from them (2 Thes 3:6), turn away from them (2 Tim 3:5-7), separate ourselves from them (2 Cor 6:17), and not even receive them into our homes (2 John 10, 11). As to the “touch not the Lord’s anointed?argument, David did not “touch?or kill Saul. But he did rebuke him in front of his entire army on two separate occasions. Though we do not kill false prophets as they did in the Old Testament (Deut 17:2-5; Lev 24:11-14), we are called to test them, rebuke them, and avoid them if they do not repent.

Statement 13: “Gamaliel advised ?..let them alone: for if…this work be of men, it will come to naught: But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it…?Just wait and see how this revival turns out in the end. Don’t stand against it.”

Answer: Gamaliel was a highly respected Pharisee and teacher of the day, but he was no friend of the Christians. While his advice had saved the apostles, Gamaliel had actually given some bad advice to his fellow council members. Were people to follow this advice, one would never speak out against error. One could never stand up and say about a group claiming Jesus Christ as their leader that, for instance, Mormonism is wrong. We are called as Christians to discern error (Luke 12:57; 2 Pet 3:17; John 7:24) and to mark and avoid (Rom 16:17) those who are divisive [Tending to create discord or dissension . . . in other words a “troublemaker’-Ed. ] and heretical (Titus 3:10).

Statement 14: “A great end time revival is preparing the earth to be subdued by the anointed. All authority will be given to the ‘manchild?and then Christ can return in His Church.

Answer: As I stated previously, the Bible does not indicate a great end times revival or awakening, but rather a great deception (Mark 13; 2 Thes 2:3; 2 Pet 2:1; Matt 24:4), delusion (2 Thes 2:9-12), and the love of people growing cold (Matt 24:12). Our place as Christians is not to subdue the earth, as Christ will do that when He returns (Ps 2:9; Rev 2:27, 19:15). Our job is to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15; 1 Cor 9:16; 2 Cor 9:13) and take care of the less fortunate, keeping ourselves from being polluted by the world (Jam 1:7). All authority is given to Christ (Matt 28:18). Any authority we have is based on obedience to the will of the Father (Col 2:10, Rom 15:18). We will not have authority over the nations during the millennial reign of Christ unless we overcome by faith and do God’s will to the end (Rev 2:26)

Statement 15: “It is better to have the devil manifesting in a meeting than for that meeting to be dead.

Answer: Rodney Howard-Browne said: “I’d rather be in a church where the devil and the flesh are manifesting than in a church where nothing is happening because people are too afraid to manifest anything…and if the devil manifests, don’t worry about that, either. Rejoice, because at least something is happening.?(Rodney Howard-Browne, The Coming Revival. 1991, pg.6) What an awful thing to say. It does look like the devil has been “manifesting?in many Third Wave meetings because the following have been observed: uncontrollable laughing, crying, shaking, running around the church building, fast dancing, running followed by collapse, barking-howling, trances, drunkenness, falling out, oinking, being “hot? fanning self or blowing, walking like chickens, horse noises, mooing and crowing, swimming, women going through imaginary birth pains, loss of consciousness, trying to soar like eagles, hissing and moving like a snake, inability to speak, involuntary body spasms, kung fu-like stances, vomiting, head banging, and stripping off clothes (I’ve seen most of these).

God is not a God of disorder, so we must conduct ourselves in an orderly way (1 Cor 14:33). These are not manifestations of the Holy Spirit because the Spirit builds us up to be more like Christ, not lowering us to animal behavior (Rom 8:9; Phil 1:27; 1 Thes 5:23). These manifestations are more like demonization described in Scripture (1 Sam 16:14, 18:10; Matt 8:28, 9:32, 12:22; Mark 1:23, 26, 7:25, 9:25; Luke 4:33-35, 8:29, 9:42; Acts 19:16).

Statement 16: “Well, there are unusual things going on at the revival meeting! God can do anything He wants to do. Don’t put God in a box!

Answer: Is it possible for any person to put God in a box? What a ridiculous statement! God is sovereign, almighty, omnipresent, and omniscient. However, God did limit the way He evidences Himself and the way He works in this creation. God could have made people purple with green hair. He could have made reincarnation true. But He didn’t. What He did do was put His Word and Testimony in the Scriptures (Isa 8:20), which we are not to go beyond (1 Cor 4:6). He set down His will in His Law in the Old Testament (Ex 24:12), and the Law of Christ in the New Testament, which is grace (Gal 6:2). God’s character is consistent and faithful (Rev 3:14, 9:11; Ps 33:4) and He does not change (Num 23:19; Heb 13:8). If something unbiblical is happening in a meeting or to an individual, it is not from God.

Statement 17: “I have been praying for the ‘power?to come upon me for a long time and it is here. I can feel it! It has changed my life for the better.

Answer: There is no place in the Bible where we are told to pray for power. Therefore this is a very dangerous prayer. We also should not summon the Holy Spirit to meetings, because He is already present where two or three are gathered together (Matt 18:20). Summoning or invoking is sorcery. The Scriptures do show us what to pray for. Here are some examples:

1) Pray for the people of your nation (Num 21:7)
2) Pray for your city (Jer 29:7)
3) Pray for peace in Jerusalem (Ps 122:6)
4) Pray for your persecutors (Matt 5:43-44; Luke 6:28)
5) Pray for children (Matt 19:13)
6) Pray for escape from judgment (Luke 21:36)
7) Pray that you will not fall into temptation (Luke 22:40)
8) Pray for Christians (Job 17:9; 1 Thes 5:25; Heb 13:18)
9) Pray for boldness in proclaiming the gospel and for God to do miracles in people’s lives (Acts 4:29-31)
10) Pray all the time, be alert, pray for the saints (Eph 6:18)
11) Pray for fearless preaching (Eph 6:20)
12) Pray to be filled with the knowledge of His will (Col 1:9)
13) Pray for open doors for the gospel (Col 4:3)
14) Pray that the Word of God may be glorified (2 Thes 3:1)
15) Pray for deliverance from evil men (2 Thes 3:2)
16) Pray for everyone, kings, authorities, peace, quiet, godliness, holiness (1 Tim 2:1,2)

There are other things we are taught to pray for in Scripture, but the point is that we need to follow the Scriptural model of prayer.

There are only two places where the “prayer’ and “power?are mentioned. “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power? (2 Thes 1:11)

He was not praying for them to get power, but that God by His power would “fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness? This is by the sovereign will of God, which if followed will produce good works. If God’s will is not followed, it can only produce fleshly or demonic fruit. The second reference is this: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth all knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.?(Eph 3:16-19)

Here again, Paul is praying for the Ephesians, not for himself. He prays that the indwelling Holy Spirit will show them how much Christ loves them, so they may be “filled with all the fullness of God.?This speaks of empowerment to have love and faith and to understand Christ in a deeper way, not power to perform miracles or for an ecstatic experience. There is no prayer for “power?to found in the Bible. Christians need to pray according to the will of God and leave empowerment up to the Holy Spirit in His time.

Statement 18: “Why don’t you come and be healed at the revival meeting? God guarantees healing for everyone who has enough faith.

Answer: First of all, there are all kinds of healing. When God heals, He does true creative miracles that last (John 12:1-10; Matt 11:5). There are also “healings’ that are just people getting excited and thinking they are healed, but when the excitement wears off, they are just as bad or worse than before. Remember, the enemy can also heal (Rev 13:14) as well as cause sickness (Job 2:7). Healings and miracles by the devil are temporary and do not last very long, or are false miracles (2 Thes 2:9-10). Those who allow people who are not living in obedience to God’s will to lay hands on them for healing give the enemy a foothold in their lives (Eph 4:27) that he will not let go of without repentance and deliverance. By very careful of those who claim they can heal you. You had better know a whole lot about them before you allow them to lay hands on you (1 John 4:1). Secondly, God does not guarantee healing for everyone who believes (Job 2:2-4; 2 Cor 12:7). Sometimes He allows sickness and difficulties in our lives to teach us lessons such as: our weakness and His strength (2 Cor 12:10, 13:4), our dependence on His grace (Rom 9:16), our need for an overcoming faith (Rev 3:12). It is true that we are told to pray for the sick in faith and the Lord will heal and forgive (Jam 5:15) but sometimes we must also suffer sickness and persecution (1 Pet 1:6, 4:14-19; 2 Cor 1:6). Trials are used by God to develop perseverance and faith. (Jam 1:2-4)

Statement 19: “You should come to the meetings, because there is a prophet there who will prophesy over you if you ask him. He has been wrong a couple of times, but then prophets today do not have to be 100% correct, only about 60% as prophet Bob Jones prophesied’

The Bible is clear on this: “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him (Deut 18:20-22).?br> This precept is not cancelled out in the New Testament. Bob Jones is a false prophet who conveniently ignored the Word of God so he could continue to prophesy falsely. The Scriptural precept of 100% accuracy for a prophet is for our own protection. Many Christians mistake human intuition and even demonic voices, whether they are correct or incorrect, for the “still small voice?of the Spirit. It is a dangerous thing to promote what you are saying as a direct word from God. Once you say, “Thus saith the Lord?’ what you have prophesied does not come true, then you are a lying false prophet and church discipline must be applied. Only God can truly forgive false prophecy when a person chooses to speak directly for Him. The church should ignore false prophets (Jer 23:16). People who continue to sit under their teachings are opening themselves up to deception (Jer 23:10-12).

Statement 20: “The speaker last night had a wonderful vision where Elijah appeared to him and told him what happen in our land. Listen to what he said…

Answer: If any dead person is allegedly appearing and giving messages, that is expressly forbidden in Scripture for believers. “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of the times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer (Deut 18:10-11). Talking to dead people is necromancy, or being a medium. Talking to the dead is actually talking to demons. Benny Hinn has done this on numerous occasions, seeing dead people (a la The Sixth Sense) like Kathryn Kuhlman and Aimee Semple McPherson. He even visits their graves to get more of the “anointing? Stay far away from people who are into necromancy, whether they claim to be a believer or not. “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? For the living to the dead’ To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isa 8:9-10).?

Statement 21: “The teachers at the revival meetings teach some things that are a little different from what the Bible says, but they are so powerful and sure of themselves. It must be of God’

Answer: If teachers do not hold to the basic doctrines of the church, they are not true believers. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt 7:15; Acts 20:29). There are many doctrines, but there are five at the core of Christianity.

1) The Trinity: God must be one “What?and three “Whos? with each “Who?possessing all the
attributes of Deity and personality.
2) The Person of Jesus Christ: Jesus is 100% God and 100% man for all eternity.
3) The Second Coming: Jesus Christ is coming bodily to earth to rule and judge.
4) Salvation: It is by grace through faith ALONE in Christ ALONE.
5) The Scripture: It is ENTIRELY INERRANT and INFALLIBLE, sufficient for all Christian life

Study what they teach carefully. They may state that they agree with the above doctrines, but by what they teach and “do’ a false teacher will deny one or all of these core doctrines. The Third Wave teachers have proven over time that they do not hold to these doctrines by teaching heresy that undermines them. For instance, when they treat the Spirit as a substance, an “it? both Deity and personality is denied, thus denying the Triune nature of God. Or when they preach a gospel of “repent and come to Jesus’ without mentioning the cross and resurrection, salvation by grace through faith in Christ is denied. Be on the alert and “study to show thyself approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).?

Stand firm in your faith! Always be discerning by checking everything with the Word of God.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle (2 Thes 2:15). yes” Stand up for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

Don’t ever let anyone cause you to stop doing that. “Beloved, when I gave you all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 1:3-4).

Be aware that many false teachers have gone out today. Test their teachings in the Word, because they are deadly dangerous. “But there are false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who provably shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction (2 Pet 2:1).

Finally, correct, rebuke and encourage because many are turning from true faith in Christ to heresy. Endure hardship from those who persecute you and tell you that you need to get involved in some “new?thing. Preach the gospel and live in obedience to the Word and Will of God. “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry (2 Tim 4:2-5).

http://www.teamtruth.com/articles/art_wordoffaith.htm#force

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THE PROSPERITY MOVEMENT:Wounded Charismatics by Roger L. Smalling, D.Min

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The “God” in the Mirror

Chapter 2: Faith or Fiction

Chapter 3: Sovereignty and Suffering

Chapter 4: Origins of Word of Faith

Chapter 5: Positive Confession

Chapter 6: Wounded Faith

Chapter 7: Just Like Your Soul Prospers

Chapter 8: As Rich As Abraham

Chapter 9: Sufficiency, Yes!

Chapter 10: The Jesus Died Spiritually Heresy

Chapter 11: Job and the Kingdom

Chapter 12: The Psychology Behind the Word Movement

Chapter 13: Denying the Symptoms: Is it valid?

Chapter 14: Did Jesus Heal Them All?

Chapter 15: How To Grow in Faith

Appendix A: Comparative Chart, Word of Faith vs Bible Appendix B: On “Divine Nature” 2Pe.1:3-4  Appendix C: 150 Verses Word of Faith Cultists Don’t Like to Hear

http://www.smallings.com/Books/ProspENG.htm#Ch4 

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Chapter 4: The Origins of Word of Faith

Word of Faith has its roots in a pagan cult that rivaled Christianity during the first three centuries of the Christian era, known as Gnosticism. The early Church fathers, such as Iranaeus eventually refuted and destroyed it.

Various Gnostic cults existed, but all held to a form of Dualism. This meant matter is bad and spirit is good. The Bible, however, teaches God created both realms and called all creation, spiritual and material, ‘good’.

Some Gnostics even taught two gods: An evil one which governed the material realm and a good one, the spiritual. All, however, held that a series of spiritual laws exist between the two dimensions by which both realms could be controlled. Certain spiritually elite people were endowed with a special “gnosis” or “revelation knowledge” by which they could learn to manipulate these laws to their advantage … even to controlling their own spiritual destinies.

A Gnostic goal was to attain to divinity and become a kind of creative “god.” This was through the “releasing” of his spirit from the material realm through his special “knowledge” of the mystical forces governing the universe.

Iranaeus, one of the third century fathers who combated Gnosticism in his book Against Heresies, comments on the spiritual pride characteristic of Gnostics:

They consider themselves ‘mature’, so that no one can be compared with them in the greatness of their Knowledge, not even if you mention Peter or Paul or any of the other apostles…” (I, XIII, 6)

.”..such a person becomes so puffed up that he … walks with a strutting gait and a supercilious countenance, possessing all the pompous air of a cock! (III, XV, 2)

The parallels between ancient Gnosticism and Word of Faith are too striking to ignore. But how did Gnosticism get transported into the 20th Century?

For this information, we are deeply indebted to Judith Matta, author of The Christian Response to Gnostic Charismatic Heresies.[29]Judith is probably the foremost expert in the U.S. today on the Gnostic origins of Word of Faith. She is a graduate of Talbot Theological seminary and a first-class scholar.

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In 1875, Mary Baker Eddy published Science and Health, thus launching the Christian Science sect. The First Church of Christ Scientist was founded in Boston in 1879. Eddy had adapted many of the early Gnostic concepts in her writings, which included the denial of the reality of illness and matter.

One of the early converts to Christian Science, and a member of the Mother Church from 1903 until his death in 1908, was Dr. C.W. Emerson. He founded a college in Boston around the turn of the century called Emerson School of Oratory. This was a prep school for boys, not a Bible school.

One of the early students of Emerson’s school was a young man by the name of E.W. Kenyon. Kenyon picked up some of the Gnostic concepts and incorporated them into his own writings later on.

The terms, “Word of Faith” and “Revelation Knowledge” are found throughout Kenyon’s books. Positive rhetoric characterized his style and much of what he wrote is legitimate. He exalts the power and lordship of Christ skillfully and expounds certain aspects of the authority of the believer. Unfortunately, errors abound in nearly every chapter.

His booklet, Two Kinds of Knowledge, is especially dangerous because of its subtlety. In it, he falls into the usual Gnostic and mystic trap of using reason to deny the validity of reason. Information derived from our five senses, he terms “sense knowledge” and the correlation of that information is done by logic. But “revelation knowledge” comes directly to our spirit, bypassing both reason and five senses. Kenyon believed that since God is spiritual, it is impossible to understand God or spiritual truth without this special “revelation.”

Through this, a dangerous and subtle error enters. If a person swallows it, then the Bible itself comes to be judged by the standard of the “revelation knowledge” that one experiences subjectively. Subtly and unconsciously, the reader of Kenyon becomes his own standard of truth.

Kenyon forgot the eye that reads the Bible, the ear, which hears it, and the brain that correlates it are all physical organs. The Bible is a human book as well as Divine. Bypassing the senses and reason inevitably leads to bypassing the Bible also. Untrained Christians eager for supernatural experiences can easily fall into Kenyon-style mysticism.

Kenyon died in 1948, but the Gnostic torch didn’t die with him. It was embraced by a young Pentecostal hungry for the supernatural, Kenneth Hagin … the recognized founder and leader of the Word of Faith movement.

Hagin praises Kenyon to the skies in one of his first books, The Name of Jesus, and confesses his deep indebtedness to him. Hagin later passed on these teachings to Kenneth Copeland. Through Copeland came Charles Capps, Jerry Savelle, and others. T.L. Osborn also expressed deep debt to Kenyon in a letter to Kenyon’s granddaughter in 1972, calling an him “an Apostle.”

Though Hagin based his views largely on Kenyon, he himself contributed some interesting “revelations” of his own along the way. In the introduction to one of the older editions of his “Art of Intercession,” he describes his eighth “visitation” of Christ. A spirit being, identifying itself as “Jesus Christ,” came into Hagin’s room, sat down and talked for about an hour and a half.

During this visit, the supposed Jesus-spirit gave him a startling “revelation.” All the theologians in the past who taught that God was in absolute control of all things were wrong. Hagin claims, “God is not ruling in this world … And God cannot do anything unless somebody down here asks him.”

This “being” apparently forgot to do its homework before categorically denying the Sovereignty of God.

Whatever the Lord pleases He does, in heaven and in earth… Psalm 135:6

That the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men…” Daniel 4:17

In Hagin’s seventh “visitation,” the spirit being told him not to pray for his needs any more but to command the angels to get them. Again, this “being” missed some key scripture. Our Father in heaven…give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11 In the context, the Jesus of the Bible commands us to pray to the Father for the fulfillment of our needs.

Am I implying that the “being” who visited Kenneth Hagin and gave him the Word of Faith revelations is not really Jesus Christ, but a deceiving demon? Be assured, I am not implying it. I’m stating it as a fact.

The Hagin hijack: How these teachings entered the Charismatic movement

The Charismatic movement took root in the late ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Sometimes styled ‘Neo-Pentecostalism,’ it was characterized by a rejection of the dead orthodoxy in some traditional denominations, in favor of a new emphasis on the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. [30]

In its beginnings, the Charismatic movement was innocuous. Nothing is wrong with seeking new fillings with the Holy Spirit or spiritual gifts. In fact, we are commanded by scripture to do so. A fundamental flaw in the movement, however, was the lack of solid theological foundations.

Charismatics had rejected dead orthodoxy. However, many failed to appreciate the alternative….live orthodoxy. Instead, a mindless mysticism developed. Hagin’s teachings found fertile ground in the new movement.

Many Charismatics were middle-class Evangelicals. While interested in exciting experiences, they were less enthusiastic about joining with traditional Pentecostals. Classical Pentecostals were often from a poorer and less educated class.

Charismatics were ripe for fresh teaching within their own sociological context…a scenario primed for a Hagin hijack.

Though Hagin was the acknowledged leader, he was not as articulate as some followers. His country accent, poor grammar and obvious lack of formal education had little appeal to the middle classes.

The movement gained momentum with the more articulate and younger Kenneth Copeland. His book Laws of Prosperity launched him to Faith Movement stardom, offering a new worldview that filled in the theological gaps left by an abandoned orthodoxy.

Books by “faith” teachers flooded the market and the new Charismatics snapped them up like starving fish after bait. Sadly, cash flow rather than truth determined what books appeared in the Christian market. Those with a dissenting voice found it difficult to get their books published.

An even bigger boon for the Prosperity Movement came in the 80’s when Paul Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), announced the faith movement was the route he would take in his programming.

Jim Bakker of the PTL Network and Paul Crouch endorsed the faith movement’s concepts, giving it worldwide exposure. Result: Gnosticism, disguised under the banner of “faith,” began to root itself deeply into the psyche of American Charismatics.

A Roman-American parallel

As with the United States today, Rome had been a prosperous society. In the first three centuries as Christianity was taking root, Rome was in its declining years. The society was rife with corruption. Established governmental and religious institutions seemed helpless to stem perversity throughout society.

The culture struggled in vain to recover a sense of strength and dominance as before. A subtle but widespread insecurity permeated the population. In its wars, Rome began to struggle harder to defeat weak enemies than it did to overcome stronger ones before. We see this in America today. [31]

The middle and upper classes of any society, whether ancient or modern, are used to controlling their own lives. Under insecure social conditions, optimism about the future weakens and their sense of control begins to slip.

These conditions generate a psychological crisis. American Christians today are subject to similar pressure. The dilemma: How to experience the comforts of the gospel while maintaining the sense of control to which they are accustomed. As in Rome, this provides fertile ground for a Gnostic-style pseudo-Christian movement like Word of Faith to take root.

As a convenient byproduct, the teachers reap a financial harvest. Middle and upper-middle classes have money and are responsive to the positive rhetoric and fresh revelations. Everyone seems happy…except God.

The influence of the Prosperity Movement has been partially stemmed by three factors. First, the Assemblies of God, the largest and most influential Pentecostal denomination in the world, repudiated the Word of Faith teachings in an official position paper. [32]

Second, two books warning about the movement were published and became well known: Hank Hanegraaf’s, Christianity In Crisis[33] and Dave Hunt’s Seduction of Christianity.[34]

Finally, the most serious blow came with the fall of Jim Bakker (PTL) in the late ‘80’s, and similar scandals among American TV evangelists. These events, however, were only a trimming of the branches and failed to penetrate the roots of the movement, namely Hagin and Copeland and their false god. Though weakened, the tree still flourishes in the U.S. today.

An historical irony has occurred. The same pagan Gnosticism which rivaled Christianity in the first centuries, which early fathers fought to destroy, has resurrected once again to infect the Church today.

From this chapter we learn…

• The Prosperity Movement is a revival of Gnostic concepts, translated into Christian language.

• These Gnostic ideas were conveyed by Mary Baker Eddy and her Christian Science cult, to Dr. Emerson of Boston. Eventually, E.W. Kenyon merged them with Christian doctrines.

• Kenneth Hagin embraced Kenyon’s teachings and transmitted them to Kenneth Copeland and others.

• The Word of Faith movement found fertile soil in the Charismatic Movement and virtually hijacked it.

• The movement’s popularity can be explained in sociological terms. Conditions in the United States today are similar to those which fueled Gnosticism in ancient Rome.

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CLICK THE LOGOS ABOVE TO GO TO THE HOME PAGE AND LISTEN TO THE RADIO SHOW

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This Seminar video by Justin Peters @ http://www.justinpeters.org/ is the best video I have seen on the Word of Faith movement. Since the seminar is available on you tube. I will be doing a series on the Word Faith Movement. Each one with a video clip from Justin’s seminar.

This FOURTH POST is an article on the word faith and OCCULT groups teachings about positive confession.

I hope you will visit his site and consider buying the whole CD set to show your friends and family, or will consider asking your church about having Justin and his seminar at your church. I am going to buy the series and just may send it to a family member who is a word faith preacher. I only wish that those in the word faith movement would see that the WoF teachings are occultic and not from God. Damon Whitsell

A 30 minute DEMO video of the seminar is @ justins site here http://www.justinpeters.org/demo.htm

Positive Confession BY WATCHAMAN.ORG
Positive Confession is the belief that if a believer speaks “spiritual” or “faith-filled” words then he can have what he says. Unfortunately, this influence has invaded the church and continues to cause much turmoil and confusion.

Many of the teachers of the word-faith movement believe that words are so powerful that they can influence the physical and spiritual worlds. For example:

In The Tongue, a Creative Force (1976), positive confessionist Charles Capps, teaches that there are powerful “spiritual” words. Such words, which are ordinary words, can under certain circumstances, become vehicles for creative or supernatural power.

When “faith-filled” spiritual words are spoken (as words of power), they can alter the physical and spiritual world. Capps says, “You see there is more to it than just saying it. The words must originate from the inner man where spiritual power is released through words.”

He goes on to state that “spirit words can control both the spirit world and the physical world. Because the words themselves have power, they will work for either God or man in the same manner.” He goes on:

“The spirit of man is not of this world, it is of the spirit world. The creative ability of man comes through his spirit. He speaks spirit words that work in the world of the spirit. They will also dominate the physical world. He breathes spirit life into God’s Word and it becomes a living substance, working for him as it worked for God in the beginning. These spirit words dominate the natural world” (p. 117-118).

What Capps is alluding to in the above statement is his teaching that since God, “by His faith” (using words) spoke this physical world into existence; the believer, using faith, can do the same. That is, the believer can speak things into existence. However, God’s word is already “quick and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12), and it is referred to as the “Word of Life” (Phillipians 2:16). It is not necessary to activate it by speaking words of faith as though it were asleep or dead! Rather, it is by hearing the “living” word that one is brought to salvation through faith in Christ. (Romans 10:17)

A number of the prosperity teachers believe that the spiritual world controls and continually forms the physical world. So, if one can learn to control the spiritual world, then he can learn to control the physical world as well. This teaching then becomes the foundation for securing individual prosperity.

That is why in Releasing the Ability of God, Capps states, “You can have what you say! (because) the powerful force of the spiritual world that creates the circumstances around us is controlled by the words of the mouth. This force comes from inside us; the confession of our mouth will cause you to possess it” (pp. 98-99, parenthesis mine). This is why he teaches, “Discipline your vocabulary,” and “today your word is god over your circumstances” (pp. 101-104).

Capps also teaches that the power within a Christian, within one’s spirit, functions according to unchangeable laws. He says “These principles of faith are based on spiritual laws. They work for whosoever will apply these laws” (The Tongue, p. 103).

D. R. McConnell, in his book, A Different Gospel, directly traces the origin the spiritual laws taught in positive confession to the metaphysics of E.W. Kenyon, a man of 50-60 years ago whose theology was that of Pentecostal Christian Science (A Different Gospel, pp. 3-56).

McConnell records Kenneth Copeland in The Laws of Prosperity (p. 98, 101) as saying, “You can have what you say! In fact, what you are saying is exactly what you are getting now. If you are living in poverty and lack and want, change what you are saying. It will change what you have. Discipline your vocabulary. God will be obligated to meet your needs because of His word. If you stand firmly on this, your needs will be met” (Ibid., p. 173).

McConnell further states, that E.W. Kenyon’s New Thought classmate, Ralph Waldo Trine, attributes the confession of prosperity to “Occult power.” He says that “Trine believed that thought is a force, and it has Occult power of unknown proportions when rightly used and wisely directed” (Ibid., p. 174).

The usage of Occult powers is, of course, a practice that the Word-Faith teachers would publicly reject. Of course, this is not to say that those offering these teachings are Occultists. They are teachers who may never have thought through the implications of the practices they advocate. They may be unaware of the similarities between certain aspects of positive confession and Occulict practices. Nevertheless, the similarities do exist, and these practices are neither Biblical nor Christian.

John Ankerberg’s issue of News and Views, June 1988, p. 1, reports that these words are used in religious rituals to influence both the spirit world and the material world. The report quotes Occult magician David Conway discussing the power of magical words to affect these worlds:

“Unseparable from magical speculation about words is the theory of vibrations, which supposes that certain sounds have a powerful acoustic impact on both the spiritual and astral worlds. Like the spiritual world and astral plane can in some circumstances be affected by sound, so that verbal magic may be said to derive its power not only from the idea contained in certain words, but from the peculiar vibrations these words create when spoken” (Magic: an Occult Primer, pp. 74-75).

Occultists, of course, have long claimed the true inner nature of man is powerful, capable of exercising divine ability. This is why New Ager Benjamin Creme says, for example, “One doesn’t pray to oneself, one prays to the God within. The thing is to learn to invoke that energy which is the energy of God. Prayer and worship as we know it today will gradually die out and men will be trained to invoke the (inner) power of deity” (The Reappearance of Christ and the Masters of Wisdom, pp. 135-136, parenthesis mine).

The reason that positive confessionists can place so much emphasis on the inner man and his divine power is that they think the believer is a god. Kenneth Copeland says, “You don’t have a god in you, you are one” (Copeland’s sermon tape The Force of Love). And Kenneth Hagin says, “The believer is as much an incarnation of God as Jesus Christ” (Hagin, Word of Faith, p. 14).

To the positive confessionist, scripture passages such as Proverbs 18:21, “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue;” and James 3:8-10 are taken as proof of this doctrine, because they believe as “little gods” they have the same power as God through their own words.

Is it any wonder that Charles Capps says “The confession of your mouth even after you have prayed correctly will determine whether or not you receive. You can release the ability of God through the words of your mouth” (Releasing the Ability of God, 1978, pp. 93, 96).

For Christians words and faith are important, but there is a limit to what words can do.

It can help or hurt a close friend or a total stranger by what one says, but to treat words as if they were some “star wars” type weapon by which one alters or manipulates reality is not biblical, but Occultic. If one could change reality by the power of words spoken, then that would put man on the same level with God. This is exactly what teachers of the “positive confession,” or word-faith movement, claim.

We are told by God Himself that He spoke the creation into existence (Genesis 1). He has not given that power to anyone else!

http://www.watchman.org/reltop/posconf.htm

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CLICK THE LOGOS ABOVE TO GO TO THE HOME PAGE AND LISTEN TO THE RADIO SHOW

—————————————————————————-

This Seminar video by Justin Peters @ http://www.justinpeters.org/ is the best video I have seen on the Word of Faith movement. Since the seminar is available on you tube. I will be doing a series on the Word Faith Movement. Each one with a video clip from Justin’s seminar.

This THIRD POST is an article from Let Us reason.org on the word faith and other groups teachings about MEN BEING GODS.

I hope you will visit his site and consider buying the whole CD set to show your friends and family, or will consider asking your church about having Justin and his seminar at your church. I am going to buy the series and just may send it to a family member who is a word faith preacher. I only wish that those in the word faith movement would see that the WoF teachings are occultic and not from God. Damon Whitsell

A 30 minute DEMO video of the seminar is @ justins site here http://www.justinpeters.org/demo.htm

Who Wants to be a god? by LetUsReason.org

So many people seem to be convinced that the Bible teaches that we are gods. The Mormons, the New Agers and yes, there are a growing number of Christians that believe this as well. Each of these have a different variation on what this means. The Christian view comes from the influence of heretical word/faith teachers that distort the Scripture.

We would be surprised how many people actually say this or insinuate it indirectly. They point to Jesus, who said in John 10 “I said ye are gods.” Many use this statement Jesus said as a Bible doctrine for believers. Let’s look at several famous Bible teachers statements on this Scripture.

“We want to be gods. Jesus said, ‘I said ye are gods’ (John 10:34). It is with the attitude of gods in the world that Jesus wants the Christian to live.” (John G. Lake: His Life His Sermons, His Boldness of Faith, Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1995, p. 13).
Is this the attitude Jesus wants? Not according to Scripture, he wants us to be dependent upon God and deny self and walk humbly, hardly a prerequisite for a god.
Lake also says “I want you to hear what Jesus said about himself. God was in Christ, wasn’t He? An incarnation. God is in you, an incarnation, if you were born again. You are incarnate. “ (ibid p. 196).

The mistake is-born again does not mean incarnate; it means to be regenerated. To go from something that has no life to being alive, to something that had no relationship with God to having one.

It’s not surprising that Kenneth Copeland would publish Lakes statements like these since he agrees with it. As he has stated: “You don’t have a god in you, you are one,” “We are a class of gods.” “Every Christian is a god.” Benny Hinn also agrees and states unequivocally “you are god” “Christians are little gods.” “I’m a God-Man.” With well known men like these teaching this its not surprising so many who listen to them have picked this up.

The fact that Gurus, New Agers, Mormons and some who claim Christianity all claim we are gods and have godlike powers is strikingly similar to what Maharishi Mahesh yogi says “When you know that you are God, YOU WILL BEGIN TO LIVE GODHOOD…”’ Margo Adler a witch says, “We are gods and might as well get good at it.” Anton LaVey explains the core of Satanism “here is one of the essential points of Satanism, attain his own godhead in accordance with his own potential. Therefore, each man, each woman, is a god or goddess in Satanism.” J.Z. Knight who Channeled the fallen spirit Ramtha pointedly says through her “You are God.” Sung Myung Moon leader of the Moonie cult says this, as do so many others. Maitreya the false new age Christ (one of many) says “May this manifestation lead you to see each other as the gods you are.”

What manifestation is this? It’s called the mystery of iniquity that has been in the world since the fall. As David Spangler puts it– “Lucifer prepares man in all ways for the EXPERIENCE OF CHRISTHOOD (Burns: Jay Gary, The Millennium Doctor http://www.cth.com/au/corp/despatch/JayGarybk3.htm, p. 2,3, quoting David Spangler). In new age language it means Christ is the way-shower.

It should be obvious to any Christian familiar with the Scripture that to call oneself a god is a doctrine of fallen spirits, what the Bible calls demons.

Helena Blavatsky in her “the secret Doctrine” wrote: “It is claimed that there exists, for untold ages, a body of supermen”… these according to her view were initiates, the Brotherhood of the Great White Lodge and light. They are known to Theosophists as ‘the Masters.’ The teaching of Theosophy, therefore, consists of information either directly imparted by them” (E.R.Mcneil Theosophy to Christian faith pp.1-2) Blavatsky wrote further “Satan is the door-keeper of the Temple of the King; he standeth in Solomon’s porch; he holdeth the key of the Sanctuary, that no man enter therein, save the Anointed having the arcanum of Hermes” (v. 20 and 21). [Vol. 2, Page 233). She is explaining the Luciferic initiation of those who have realized they are more than man- but supermen.

The Latter Rain movement still growing in its influence has similar affections. In the book the Pattern Son Bill Britton writes at Jesus was the “Firstfruits among many brethren and the PATTERN for many more “sons” to come. He calls this group the Manchild Company – they are the anointed ones and have the right to be called Christ. These are the ones who have reached a “very high level of anointings.” It is the same spirit that is moving these people and many others today to this realization that they are god. It does not matter whether one calls it the divine spark” or self-realization or the higher self, or “god” within every man, it all leads to the same place. Or as Neale Donald Walsch, in his bestseller book “Conversations with God” writes “You are already a God. You simply do not know it.” Isn’t it Interesting how so many spiritual diversities can agree.

Creflo Dollar who claims he is a teacher of Christianity sums it up for everyone believing this, quoting Jn.10:34 and Ps.82:6 he states “Now, notice what He says here, “Ye are gods” small g. You are gods? Somebody says “You trying to say we’re gods?” No, I’m not trying to say we’re gods. He already said it. But what I want to know is Lord, how can we be gods? And He answers it in the next phrase. Because you are the children of the Most High. See if you are truly a child of God, if you were born out of God, you got to be a part of the God class. I know I’m not God. But I’m a child of the Most High…I’m a part of the God class…. But then the next verse says, “Because you did not believe you were gods, you’re going to die like men.” But it says you’re gods. And I said now, Lord, wait a minute here. How we going to prove this? Because I kept hearing over and over again all this week, we need to have a God training class for Christians. So they can start acting … “(Our equality with God through righteousness 1/21/2001)

Notice he says Because you did not believe you were gods you will die like men. Is this what the Scripture is actually saying? It only takes a few extra words to confuse and change the meaning.

Ps. 82:6-8 ‘I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.’ Lets set the record straight, this Scripture does not mention little gods. Nowhere in Scripture is there a teaching of little gods along with big God, but false Gods verses the true God. So in reality to claim to be a little god is to put one in the category of a false God.

Lets go back to the beginning, when Lucifer a fallen angel shows up in the garden. Speaking to Eve he says “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). When both she and Adam ate of the tree that God told them not to, they knew what evil was experientially, by believing that this fruit would make them like God it caused them to lose their righteousness God originally gave them.

After the fall Adam begot his first son Cain and other sons and daughters in his own image and likeness. All those after are in this same image. This is why the Only true God became a man. When a Christian accepts the heretical teaching of subordinate gods to a greater god they are aligned with the originator of this lie, the teaching of the occult and those who incorporate its message. They are on their way to a great deception, the very one that Paul warns in 2 Thess.2, those who refuse the truth will believe THE LIE!

Anything created disqualifies it from being God. Adam was not a god (as Kenneth Copeland and the Mormons say), and Satan is not a god. Satan is called the “god of this age” because he is worshipped, not because he really is a god by nature.

He has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.(2 Cor. 4:4). In other words he blinds people to see Christ alone is God. Satan did not tell the truth but lied to Eve when he said, “You shall be like God,” and he continues to use the same lie to people today.

Paul taught that Christ (2 Cor. 4:4) ALONE ‘is the express image of God (his person) (Heb.1). No prophet ever thought of them-self as the express image of the invisible God, or that if you have seen them you have seen the father, they knew better. There are too many today who are exalting mans nature to be something the Scripture says it is not. Only Jesus is the exact image of God in man. Man has the image of God but this does not make a creature God, godlike, or in the same class. There is only one God and he always existed, this is why no creature can ever be equal to its eternal creator.

The Hebrew word for “likeness” (demuth) simply means similarity or resemblance, not identity. The term itself actually “defines and limits” the word “image” (Hebrew: tselem) in order “to avoid the implication that man is a precise copy of God, albeit miniature” (R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 vols. Chicago: Moody Press, 1981, 1:192.)

God never said man is a god or in a god class as some claim. In fact, if we look at past and future history we can identify the ones who claim this.

The past- Isa. 14:12-14 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”

It was Lucifer who through the king said he would be like God in the past. Ezek 28:2-6 “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because your heart is lifted up, and you say, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas,’ yet you are a man, and not a god, though you set your heart as the heart of a god (Behold, you are wiser than Daniel! Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have set your heart as the heart of a god…” v:9 “Will you still say before him who slays you, ‘I am a god’? But you shall be a man, and not a god, in the hand of him who slays you.”

The future- 2 Thess. 2:3-4 “the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

Everyone who claims to be a god, the true God shows they are not, by bringing death to them. Jesus will slay the antichrist, the man of sin who will be worshipped as god by the word from his mouth. Zeph. 2:11 “The LORD will be awesome to them, for He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth”

Let’s not forget in our modern time one of the worst collective murders in history. It was Jim Jones who let the idea of being a god completely deceive him and near 1,000 people were affected by going to their deaths with him. He said “It is written that ye are gods. I’m a god and you’re a god” (Jim Jones, quoted in J. Reston, Jr. and N. Adams, “Father Cares: The Last of Jonestown” program on National Public Radio, 23 April, 1981.)

Satan’s methodology is to lower Jesus’ nature and exalt man’s to be equal to Christ using the same lie he deceived himself with. We should understand from the Scripture that to claim to be a God, big or small is what Lucifer did to himself and influenced man into sin.

With this background lets to the passage that people are using to prove they are little gods.

John 10:32-39 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods” “If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),”do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me;” but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”

Notice Jesus answered them by pointing to the Old Testament, and is using it to argue His exclusive deity as the Son of God, having a unique relationship to the Father that no other has. Jesus is responding to the Jewish leaders who had accused Him of blasphemy. In Jn.10 Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees. Are the Pharisees gods? Would someone that did not believe in Christ being the Son of God and were his enemies be considered a little god by Jesus?

To understand him further we must go to a context of a passage quoted by Jesus to see what he was trying to convey. Psalm 82:1-8 “God stands in the congregation of the mighty; he judges among the gods. How long will you judge unjustly, and show partiality to the wicked? Selah. Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked. They do not know, nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are unstable. I said, “You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit all nations.”

In its context it can only mean something that is not flattering. Jesus in John 10 is mocking them as if to say, You all think you’re gods yourselves (rulers) and rightly so (this is a tongue and cheek expression). But you do not recognize THE God among you. The Pharisees were blinded to who Jesus truly was.

Ps. 82:6-8 ‘I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.’ This was addressed to the judges of Israel they were called gods not because they were divine but because they represented God when they judged the people. The word Elohim is used for God, men and angels, but it is never used for man or the angels to imply they are God but as rulers of certain positions in the world. The word here is Elohim, it is applied to an aspect of God, as God was also to be ruler and judge over the people so He installed human rulers to do the same (see Deut.19:17-18). God called the unrighteous judges of Israel “gods” (Elohim). The Psalm Jesus is quoting is a put-down of corrupt judges and leaders who were abusing their authority and it has a lot of irony in it. The word Judges is found in Ex.21:22; 22:8-9 it is Ha Elohim (other scriptures of how the acted are found in Deut.1:16;16:18; 25:1; 2 Sam.11:7).

As with any verse we need to read it in its complete context to get the whole meaning the author is writing. Then we are to go to other passages that may relate to it. Remember this is God’s word and will not contradict itself. Isa. 3:13-15 “The LORD stands up to plead, and stands to judge the people. The LORD will enter into judgment with the elders of His people and His princes: “For you have eaten up the vineyard; the plunder of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing My people and grinding the faces of the poor?” Says the Lord GOD of hosts.

Jesus uses this to pronounce sentence on leaders who were not ruling over the people correctly. Instead they were showing partiality to the wicked and neglected defending the weak. They are wicked in that they do, they do not champion the cause of the poor or helpless. This is what Jesus is referring to in John 10 when he reminds them by quoting Ps.82. They are rulers with the authority God gave in this office. Considering this quote is in the gospel of John that upholds the deity of Christ, it makes this even more severe that certain men would take this out of the context and apply it to themselves. As v.5 says “They do not know nor do they understand; They walk about in darkness; All the foundations of the earth are unstable.”

He is conveying that if unjust judges are called to rule with power and authority, how much more the Son of God whose authority they willfully rejected. Jesus is being sarcastic in a way only those familiar with the Scripture would understand. They accused the only man who ever could legitimately call Himself “God” of blasphemy. And Jesus’ response is if God called men “gods,” (rulers) then Jesus is not blaspheming if indeed He is God.Jesus’ point is that the word of God cannot be broken (v.35) and then points out he was sent into the world by the Father and called himself the Son of God. So He could not be blaspheming. This was all done according to the Scripture. They were given authority to rule by God but they would not bow to his authority. They did not recognize the true God was among them who called himself the Son of God.

Notice Ps.82:6 also says they ‘will die as mere men and fall as one of the princes’, the prince that fell was Satan. This is sarcasm. Jesus is saying ‘the scripture cannot be broken’ referring to the Psalm. They thought they were like God but they will die as mere men. Then they will know the difference between the true God and their own mortality of man. Ps.82 ends with verse 8 ‘Arise, O God, judge the earth; for You shall inherit all nations.’ This points to only true God who can be called God, who eventually will judge and rule over everyone justly.

Let us go elsewhere in Scripture to see if the New Testament supports the teaching of men being gods. Paul and Barnabas were mistakenly called gods: “And when the multitudes saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us.” And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker … But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth….” (Acts 14:11-15). Paul did not say, “we are not Zeus and Hermes but you are right, we are gods.” He said we are of the same NATURE as you and He turned them to the only true God, the creator. Here Paul and Barnabus unequivocally denied they were divine or any type of god. Were they ignorant of their new nature? No, not at all. They knew the true God and knew their relationship to him as men; so they could never claim to be more than they really were.

If the little god theory was true Paul would not have said this but he did not believe what some men teach today and would certainly identify it as a teaching not from God but from the devil.

To imagine that we are gods when we are saved is to misunderstand our condition, even though we are new creatures in Christ. Even though the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our lives, it does not mean that we have been deified! If man is deified, surely we also have to accept the doctrine that we are sinless! Yet, the Scriptures deny that we are sinless, even after our salvation (1 John 1:9).We are still sinners waiting for the full redemption of the body that has the sin nature.

There is something spiritually and fundamentally wrong with people who say they are gods.

And what is the affect of those who call themselves little gods? They believe they can call things into existence, they will be rich and successful like the big god they serve.

Isa. 41:21-24 “Present your case, says the LORD. “Bring forth your strong reasons, says the King of Jacob. “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; yes, do good or do evil, that we may be dismayed and see it together. Indeed you are nothing, and your work is nothing; he who chooses you is an abomination.”

Here God challenges those who claim they are in control like God, and those who listen to them instead of the true God are disgusting to him. For he began his challenge to them all so they can come to a true understanding of God.
V.20 “That they may see and know, and consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Ps. 86:8 “Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord” Ps. 95:3 “For the LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods.” The Scripture says there exists ONLY ONE GOD; therefore any other that is called god is false by its nature. Genesis 1 says “In the beginning God.” If you were not there with him as him, then you are not God or a god.

As Paul clarifies in1 Cor. 8:5-6 “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.”

The greatest evil is to call oneself God when they are not. Since there is only one true God no one can ever be in the same class as a creature created by God. This is a delusion of unprecedented proportions to call oneself a god, it is the height of arrogance. It is the same sin in the beginning that caused Lucifer, the greatest creature God created to fall. And it is this same deception that will be rampant in the end.

Here’s what the God of the Universe says in Jer.10:11: “The God’s that have not made heaven and earth will perish.” This means any who claims to be God [god] are in the same category according to the one true God. This certainly means all Gods with a small g or a big G. Nowhere in Scripture is there a teaching of little gods verses big God, but instead false Gods verses the true God. In reality, to claim to be a little god is to put one in the category of a false God. All those who say this will find themselves sharing the same fate of false gods. If you are one of those who believes this, its time to reconsider. You may well receive the same punishment as those other false gods who are not the one true creator.

http://letusreason.org/Wf36.htm

This Seminar video by Justin Peters @ http://www.justinpeters.org/ is the best video I have seen on the Word of Faith movement. Since the seminar is available on you tube. I will be doing a series on the Word Faith Movement. Each one with a video clip from Justin’s seminar.

This SECOND POST is an article about Justin and his seminar. I hope you will visit his site and consider buying the whole CD set to show your friends and family, or will consider asking your church about having Justin and his seminar at your church. I am going to buy the series and just may send it to a family member who is a word faith preacher. I only wish that those in the word faith movement would see that the WoF teachings are occultic and not from God. Damon Whitsell

A 30 minute DEMO video of the seminar is @ justins site here http://www.justinpeters.org/demo.htm

Minister with Cerebral Palsy critiques Word-Faith movement By Brent Thompson

VICKSBURG, Miss. (BP) — When Justin Peters was born in Vicksburg, Miss., in 1973, the doctors knew right away that something was wrong. They decided not to tell Peters’ parents, who proudly took their first-born son home. It wasn’t long before they, too, noticed something was different about their baby boy. At the age of 1, Peters was formally diagnosed as having cerebral palsy.

“Don’t expect much from Justin,” the doctor told his parents. When Peters tells that story today, a smile spreads across his face.

“Jesus always has the last word,” he says.

Today, Peters has two master’s degrees from Southwestern Seminary and is a staff evangelist at First Baptist Church in Vicksburg, the church where he grew up and was saved at the age of 7.

Southwestern Seminary

Years ago Justin Peters questioned his faith when he wasn’t healed of cerebral palsy after attending a word of faith healing service. Today, the Southwestern Seminary graduate and staff evangelist at First Baptist Vicksburg (Miss.) leads seminars on the dangers and heresies of the so-called word of faith, or health and wealth, movement.
Cerebral palsy typically impacts body movement and muscle coordination, although Peters said it affects different people in different ways. For him, it limits use of his arms, hands, and legs. But he lives, travels, and ministers needing very few accommodations for his disabilities. He gets nearly everywhere he needs to go either on his motorized wheelchair or on his crutches. He drives his specially equipped van or flies on commercial airlines to get to his speaking engagements and revivals.

“It isn’t degenerative,” Peters said of his cerebral palsy. “The way I am now is pretty much the way I have always been.”

He is unperturbed by his physical limitations. In fact, he is thankful to God for them, and says he likely would not be in full-time ministry if not for the effects of cerebral palsy.

Hope and struggle

“Sometimes there is something better than physical health,” Peters said. “That is, like Paul said, ‘God’s sufficient grace.’”

But Peters has not always felt that way. When he was 16 years old, a well-intentioned family friend came to him.

“Justin, God has told me He is going to heal you,” the friend said, adding that Nora Lam, a word of faith healer from China, was going to be holding a healing service at a nearby Holiday Inn.

“The prospect of being healed really resonated with me because, at the time, I could not drive, play football, or do all the things I believed were so important at that age,” Peters said.

He went to see Nora Lam as well as other faith healers, but after each encounter he came away in the same physical condition. He left those encounters struggling with his own perceived spiritual deficiencies.

“I was told that physical healing is always God’s will and that I would receive that healing if I had enough faith,” Peters said. “I not only doubted my faith but for a season I doubted my very salvation.”

Supportive parents, church, and prayer preserved Peters during those dark spiritual days. He graduated from high school, and then went on to Mississippi State University where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics. Along the way Peters saw the error of Nora Lam and her colleagues. It was at MSU that Peters felt God calling him into full-time, vocational ministry. So, he headed to Southwestern Seminary, thinking he was going to be a pastor.

By 2000, Peters had obtained a master of divinity degree. During his days of seminary studies, Peters received invitations to preach revival services. This is no surprise given his preference for expository sermons, not to mention his authoritative yet conversational speaking voice.

In his preaching ministry, Peters devoted a small segment of his sermon series to address the topic of the word of faith movement. Also known as the “health and wealth” movement, the most well-known word of faith preachers are televangelists such as Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, Jesse Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, and, more recently, Joel Osteen.

“I found the response to that segment of my revival sermons was just overwhelming,” Peters said. Soon, what was supposed to be a small segment of his preaching turned into a bigger segment. It wasn’t long before people were inviting him to preach just on the subject of the word of faith movement. He felt the Lord leading him to do additional master’s studies, this time for the more academically oriented, thesis-based master of theology degree.

As he focused his theological training on the word of faith theology, what he discovered troubled him deeply.

“Health and wealth are among the most universal of human desires,” Peters said. “These people play on those desires.”

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Eventually, Peters narrowed his academic focus to one word of faith preacher: Benny Hinn. Perhaps more than the others, Hinn holds himself out to be a faith healer. Over the years millions of people have flocked to Hinn’s live events held in huge auditoriums and stadiums around the world; tens of millions more have tuned in to Hinn’s This Is Your Day television program, seen in more than 190 countries.

Unsecure roots

As Peters dug into the theology and history of the word of faith movement, he was more convinced than ever that Christians needed to know the truth about it. He discovered that the movement’s origins are not at all Christian; instead its roots can be traced directly to the metaphysical cults of the 19th century, Unitarianism, Christian Science, New Thought, and even back to the early-church heresy known as Gnosticism.

“These preachers blur the line between the Creator and the created,” Peters said. “They demote God and deify man … To them, faith is not placed in God; faith is a force you direct at God to make Him do what you want Him to do. It is a very man-centered gospel which makes it a different gospel…. All this has been wrapped in a Christian terminology to make it more palatable.”

Peters accumulated literature, video collections, and numerous articles about Hinn and other word of faith preachers. He attended several Hinn healing services and has watched myriads of programs on Trinity Broadcasting Network. He even went to Hinn’s headquarters twice, seeking an interview. He was denied both times.

“Unfortunately, I had to support many of their ministries by buying their books and DVDs,” Peters said, laughing.

A strong call

The faculty of Southwestern’s school of theology accepted his master’s thesis titled “An Examination and Critique of the Life, Ministry, and Theology of Healing Evangelist Benny Hinn.” In December 2002, Peters was awarded a master of theology degree.

Shortly thereafter, Peters became a staff evangelist at FBC Vicksburg and formed Justin Peters Ministries (www.justinpeters.org). Through his ministry, he goes to speaking engagements with a three-part seminar called “A Call for Discernment.”

During his seminars, he leads audiences through an examination of the word of faith movement. The first session, titled “Dangerous Doctrines,” examines the metaphysical cultic origins of the movement and the doctrines it espouses, which deviate from orthodox Christianity. The second session, “Mangled Manifestations,” explores the more dramatic elements of the movement such as the abuse of tongues, being ‘slain in the Spirit,’ and false prophecies. The third session, the one to which he relates to most personally, is “The Hurt of Healing” and deals solely with physical healing.

Using clips from video tapes and DVDs, Peters doesn’t just tell Christians what the health and wealth preachers claim: He lets them see and hear for themselves what they are really teaching during their crusades and television programs.

Peters believes God is allowing this brand of blatant, dangerous heresy to continue for a purpose.

“It’s a sign of the End Times,” Peters said. “The Scriptures are clear that in the last days false prophets and false christs will rise ‘so as to deceive even the elect.’ Too many Christians today want teachers who tickle their ears.”

Peters said the newest popular Health and Wealth teacher is Joel Osteen.

“[Joel Osteen’s] teachings are of a slightly different stripe, but they are just another version of the prosperity gospel,” Peters said. “Joel Osteen was on Larry King Live when he admitted that he doesn’t use the word ‘sinner.’ How can you preach the gospel of Jesus Christ if you don’t first get people to realize they have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God? I don’t doubt that Osteen is sincere, but sincerity is not the issue – truth is the issue.”

God has changed lives at his seminars, Peters said. After a recent session in Alabama, a woman told him about her 8-year-old son with muscular dystrophy.

As Justin told it, “With tears streaming down her face she said, ‘Justin, I’ve been told by so many that if I had enough faith my son would be healed. I’ve been told that if I loved him enough he would be healed. All of these years, I have blamed myself for my son’s illness. But for the first time I now realize it’s not my fault.’

“Hearing stories like this makes it all worthwhile for me,” Justin said. “Next to my salvation, my cerebral palsy is one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me.

“One of the tragedies of the prosperity gospel is that it robs believers of experiencing God’s sufficient grace and strength made perfect in weakness.”

http://www.christianindex.org/3627.article

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This Seminar video by Justin Peters @ http://www.justinpeters.org/ is the best video I have seen on the Word of Faith movement. Since the seminar is available on you tube. I will be doing a series on the Word Faith Movement. Each one with a video clip from Justin’s seminar. This first POST just gives an introduction and outline to the seminar. I hope you will visit his site and consider buying the whole CD set to show your friends and family, or will consider asking your church about having Justin and his seminar at your church. I am going to buy the series and just may send it to a family member who is a word faith preacher. I only wish that those in the word faith movement would see that the WoF teachings are occultic and not from God. Damon Whitsell

A 30 minute DEMO video of the seminar is @ justins site here http://www.justinpeters.org/demo.htm

A Biblical Critique of the Word of Faith Movement (more commonly known as the Health and Wealth or Prosperity Gospel) http://www.justinpeters.org/

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” (Romans 16:17-18)

In addition to expository preaching, another aspect of Justin’s ministry is the three session seminar which he has developed entitled A Call for Discernment. This seminar is a fair, comprehensive, biblical critique of the modern Word of Faith movement. Word of Faith theology (WoF) dominates Christian satellite and cable television and is making alarming inroads into our Baptist churches. This seminar contains dozens of audio and video clips (primarily the latter) of various WoF leaders such as Benny Hinn, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Jessie Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, etc. incorporated into a PowerPoint format. This format allows people to see and hear for themselves what these individuals are actually teaching. Everything then is, in turn, balanced with Scripture.

Each session is approximately 70 to 75 minutes in length. A Call for Discernment can be structured and scheduled according to the desires of the pastor or conference organizer.

Session 1: Dangerous Doctrines
Metaphysical Cultic Origins
Phineas P. Quimby
Essek W. Kenyon
William Branham
Kenneth Hagin Sr.
Doctrines of the WoF Movement
Positive Confession
Substance of Faith
Little gods Doctrine
the Fall
Jesus Christ
Just a Man?
Spiritual Death of Jesus (SDJ)
Sin Becomes Him
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies..”
~ 2 Peter 2:1
Session 2: Mangled Manifestations
Abuse of Tongues
Spectacular Claims
Heavenly Encounters
Bizarre Behavior
Slaying in the Spirit
Divine Revelation Knowledge
Occultic / Demonic
False Prophecies
“…that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written…”
~ 1 Corinthians 4:6
Session 3: The Hurt of Healing
Things to Consider
Healing:
Is It Always God’s Will?
Healing in the Atonement?
The Biblical Record
Requirements for Healing:
Sense of expectation
Money
“Right Heart” and Perseverance
Why are They Sick?
Hindrances to Healing:
Lack of Faith
Not Saved
Conclusion
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

A PERSONAL NOTE ABOUT A CALL FOR DISCERNMENT

A Call for Discernment is not intended as a personal attack on anyone, it is simply, as the name implies, a call to the church for discernment. It would be easy to make the assumption that this is an anti-charismatic seminar. Such is not the case. When it comes to the fundamental tenets of orthodox Christianity, charismatics are in agreement with me as a Southern Baptist. I am not charismatic, but neither am I anti-charismatic. The Word of Faith Movement, however, does at times denigrate and even deny some of the fundamental, non-negotiable truths of the Christian Faith (as documented in the seminar, especially in Sessions 1 and 2). It may be said that all Word of Faith adherents are charismatic, but not all charismatics are Word of Faith. I have had a number of charismatic pastors to attend my seminars and, to a man, they have found little, if any, with which they would disagree.

When it comes to minor, peripheral issues of the faith, we as believers in the Lord Jesus may have differences of opinion and still call one another brother and sister in Christ. When it comes to the fundamentals, however, we must all unite in stalwart defense.

I have presented A Call for Discernment in eighteen states thus far to churches of widely varying sizes. Regardless of the size of the church there are always people who will approach me telling me how either they themselves or one of their loved ones has been adversely affected by this movement. It is making alarming inroads even to our Baptist churches. One mother whose son has Muscular Dystrophy recently told me, ‘Justin, ever since my son was diagnosed with M.D., I have blamed myself for his condition because I have been told that if I just had enough faith or if I loved him enough that he would be healed. Now for the first time I realize that his illness is not my fault.’ It is for ladies like her and millions of others that I take the stand that I do.

Not everything that the Word of Faith teachers teach is wrong. Some of it is right. Therein, however, lies the seduction. It is a craftily packaged counterfeit gospel made to look like the real thing. A Call for Discernment is being used by God to bring clarity and understanding to a complicated and confusing issue.
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Justin’s Credentials

Throughout his years as a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, Justin studied at great depth the Word of Faith movement. The thesis he wrote for his Master’s of Theology (Th.M.) degree is entitled An Examination and Critique of the Life, Ministry and Theology of Healing evangelist Benny Hinn.
In addition to his academic research, Justin also has attended numerous Benny Hinn crusades and has been witness first hand to the harm, both physical and spiritual, that the Word of Faith movement inflicts upon so many. As a teenager, Justin himself attended faith-healing services in hopes of being delivered from his Cerebral Palsy. Though the potential was there to shake his faith in the Lord, in the long run, these experiences had the opposite effect. Says Justin:

Some have made the charge against me that I am just bitter about not being healed. I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. Next to my salvation, my Cerebral Palsy is one of the greatest gifts (an imperfect word to be sure) God has ever allowed me to have. He has used it to keep me dependent upon Him and through it has shown me His “sufficient grace” and “strength made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)

In 2004, Justin was featured as an expert witness for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s documentary on Benny Hinn entitled Do You Believe In Miracles
In 2006 Justin was interviewed for the documentary entitled Suffer the Children produced by Trevor Glass. This documentary shows the profound harm, both physical and spiritual, that the Prosperity gospel inflicts upon so many.
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Endorsement:

“The dangers of the Word of Faith Movement are as real as they are pervasive. The message from thousands of pulpits is that God wants you to be happy, healthy, and rich. But this is not biblical Christianity, as Justin Peters so adequately demonstrates in his exceptional presentation. With clarity and credibility, Peters exposes the Word of Faith Movement for what it really is—a farce. Local churches will benefit greatly from his personal experience and vast research on this important topic.”

Dr. John MacArthur
Pastor, Grace Community Church
Sun Valley, CA

http://www.justinpeters.org/

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “State of the Pulpit – Joel Osteen“, posted with vodpod

 

 

The Leaven of Lakewood

“‘I don’t want this to sound arrogant, but I believe one day we’re going to have 100,000 a weekend,” says Pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston .’”[1]

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

 The Kudos

I want to begin this article by giving credit where credit is due.  When it comes to the Lakewood charismatic mega-church there are aspects of this ministry which must be cited as worthy.  To begin with the church was originally started by John Osteen, who was originally a Southern Baptist pastor but after receiving the “baptism” in/with the Holy Spirit he became enamored with the charismatic renewal movement in its early stage and eventually became associated with the Word of Faith (WOF) cult.  The following commentary was taken from the official web site of Lakewood Church :

 The late John Osteen served the Lord Jesus Christ as pastor, evangelist, author, and teacher for sixty years. Ordained as a Southern Baptist, he received the baptism in the Holy Ghost in 1958, an experience which revolutionized his ministry into a worldwide outreach…John Osteen began Lakewood Church in a dusty, abandoned feed store on Mother’s Day 1959…John Osteen was driven by an amazing love for people of all ages, races, nationalities and walks of life.[2]

One thing is certain in a time of racial division John Osteen opened wide the doors of his church to all people, and all shades and classes of people came.  John, even though he had rejected his Baptist theology (he did actually earn a Masters degree from Northern Baptist Seminary) he never lost sight of the need for foreign missions and his congregation supported and still supports a great deal of foreign mission work.  At the time of his death Lakewood Church had risen to 8,000 members.

I must be honest with you; out of all the WOF teachers my wife and I listened to we enjoyed John Osteen more than most.  He did have a genuine pastor’s heart and a desire to see people come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.  We have many of John Osteen’s books and tapes in the DMI archives.  It seems that his seminary education helped keep John from espousing some of the most heretical doctrines that are commonly taught by WOF teachers today.

However, I am under no illusions regarding the WOF “leaven” which John propagated and is unfortunately being further magnified through his son Joel Osteen who took over as Pastor when his father died in 1999.  John was a big crusader for the error of positive confession.  This is a metaphysical belief that we can either create or change our reality by the power of our words, for example he stated the following:

 When they say like they did to Smith Wigglesworth, “How are you feeling today?” He said “Listen, I don’t ask my body how it’s feeling; I tell it how to feel.” And your words should not be to describe the situation; your words should be given to change the situation. And so, read it, meditate upon it, and speak it[3]

I am the sum total of what I have been confessing through the years. My children are the best children that ever lived on the face of the earth.  They are blessed of God.  They are the sum total of what Dodie and I have confessed and loved them into being[4]

 Osteen is on record as fully endorsing the WOF errant concepts surrounding financial prosperity:

It’s God’s will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It’s God’s will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt. It’s God’s will for you to live in health and not in sickness all the days of your life[5]

 In the above sermon we can see the Health & Wealth “gospel” summed up three sentences.  So despite the good things that John Osteen did as a Pastor he got ensnared by the subtlety of false teaching and ended up misleading millions before his death.

Jesus in speaking to His disciples warned them about the leaven of the Pharisees in the following discussion:

Mt 16:6,11-12

Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees… How is it that ye do not understand that I spake [it] not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?  Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

Even though it seems to us that His disciples were a little slow on the “uptake” at times Jesus makes His point crystal clear to them — He was warning them to beware[6], to be on guard against the danger of their doctrinal errors, which Jesus likens to leaven in bread.  Jesus knew that if left unchecked, like leaven in bread, their doctrinal error would spread.  The leaven of false doctrines which he instilled in his son are now expanding and misleading more people than John Osteen could have ever imagined.

The Concerns

Joel Osteen Master of Marketeering

Joel Osteen has absolutely no biblical training or experience to be a pastor.  Charismatic pulpits are filled with people who feel “called” to the pastorate and that is enough for them and those who follow them.  They attempt to build congregations on the “strength” of their calling.  Some charismatic leaders may go on to some unaccredited “ Bible School ” for a year or two, none (which encompasses a large group of ministers) that we were ever acquainted with attended any legitimate seminary.

Would you allow a surgeon to operate on you because he felt “called” to be a surgeon as a child, but never went on to medical school?  Or would you allow someone to build your house who firmly believed God had called him to be an architect yet had never gone on to college to study architectural design?  Of course not, it would be the height of foolishness!

Yet millions of professing Christians are more than willing to follow a man (or woman) who says “God” has called them and has supernaturally equipped them to be ministers. (FWM doesn’t agree with this statement as we believe God can and has called many a man to the Ministry and has used them greatly who never attended any type of Bible College, but we do agree that those same men studied their Bibles daily and learned the Word.)  These especially anointed men and women have no need to study Church history, hermeneutics, systematic theology and struggle through Greek and Hebrew as other ministers do.  They hear directly from God (this is especially true for the sign-gift[7] pastors, most seeker-sensitive churches are led by seminary educated individuals).

So my first main concern is that we have a man in the pulpit of the largest congregation in America , being beamed around the world that has no biblical education or training for the vocation he says he has!  To me we have a clear case of the blind leading the blind (read Luke 6:39) with the end result being masses of people falling into the ditch of spiritual ignorance, abuse and/or extremism.

Joel Osteen made the following statement which ought to be enough to drive 1,000’s of people away from his church:

 Osteen’s upbeat style is deliberate and authentic. ‘Make church relevant,’ he says. ‘Give them something to be able to take away.  I find today people are not looking for theology.  There’s a place for it, [But] in your everyday life you need to know how to live.[8]

 That statement is loaded with seeker-sensitive “code.”  My wife and I left a North American Baptist church of over 1,000 members which had as its acronym “GPARS” which stood for: (1) Grace; (2) People; (3) Authenticity; (4) Relevance and (5) Small groups.

Of course Osteen’s “style” is upbeat, would you expect negativity from a positive confession devotee?  No!  Deliberate, absolutely, he really believes much of the WOF nonsense his father taught him all his life, not to mention whatever offbeat spirituality he may have gleaned from his two years at Oral Roberts University .  Authentic?  Without a doubt!  What you see is what you get.  Joel Osteen is a man without any biblical education but an admitted talent for marketing. 

To be a success in marketing you have to know where people itch and scratch it.  Or, you have to create a desire in them by creating a hunger for something they currently do not have nor formerly knew they needed.  All commercials can be condensed down to one of these two truths.

So to become a mega-church a pastor has to make church relevant.  He has to give the people what they want, something that soothes that spiritual itch.  In order to be a “success” (i.e. large masses of people and money) pastors must preach unchallenging messages that uplift rather than convict.  He must pander to the lowest common denominator and make sure that whatever is taught does not offend anymore at anytime.  What we are seeing is really nothing new, it is a simply fulfillment of 2Ti 4:3-4

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

 This is exactly where multitudes of people are spiritually today.  The above text also helps explain the phenomena of people like Robert Schuller, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and now, Joel Osteen.

Osteen goes on to say that “I find today that people are not looking for theology.”  Well that is obvious because if they were they would not find any sound theology at Lakewood !  Although he does not reveal to the readers where he found this astonishing fact out, it appears the folks he has talked to have no interest in theology.

Lest you think me a bit harsh let me remind you that theology simply means “the knowledge of God.”  In essence Osteen has said that people are really not interested in learning about God.  Somehow (undoubtedly due to his lack of biblical education) he has made a disconnect between knowing the God of the Bible via sound biblical theology and “knowing how to live.” 

Brothers and sisters, my wife and I can testify to you that the more accurately you understand God within the biblical context the better life you will live before Him.  Tracy and I have a daughter, she does not like to eat certain vegetables but we MAKE her eat them from time to time.  Why?  As her parents, even though somewhat distasteful to her we know that eating them will be beneficial.

The same is true for every man who mounts a pulpit!  God does not tell us to feed the sheep what they want to eat.  Jesus told Peter “feed My sheep,” (see John 21:16).  Jesus said “feed” the sheep not “entertain” them!  We are to give them the Word of God in its totality.  Any pastor can fall into the trap of becoming a people pleaser.  This is why Paul, through the Holy Ghost warned young Timothy in the verse just above the one I cited:  2Ti 4:-2

I charge [thee] therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

 Timothy is WARNED to be steadfast in his proclamation of the Gospel to be ready and in his preaching to: (1) REPROVE; (2) REBUKE; (3) EXHORT the people according to the Scriptures.  How? We are to preach with all longsuffering (because such preaching is unpleasant to people’s carnal nature) and with doctrine.  GASP!  Doctrine?  I can hear the seeker-sensitive pundits saying “oh come now, Rev. Liichow, surely you know preaching doctrinal messages is passé?”  Osteen would do well to heed the word of the Lord from a genuine prophet who stated:  Eze 34:2 -3

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel , prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe [be] to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?  Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: [but] ye feed not the flock.

 There are many biblical themes which are very “unpopular” and even politically “incorrect” yet the faithful pastor/teacher will expound on these topics as well so that the flock under his care is receiving a balanced spiritual diet and is able to walk in the full light of God’s Word and not in the shadows.

What is Joel’s educational background and experience?  Since we know his training is not theological, what is it?  He did attend Oral Roberts University for two years, but his area of study had to do with television production and marketing.

 Meanwhile, son Joel, one of six children, was learning the business of television… ‘Growing up, I knew what I wanted to do.  I wanted to be involved in TV production,’ he says. ‘That was just my passion.’  In 1981 he came home from Oral Roberts University (ORU) to start the Lakewood TV ministry.[9]

 For seventeen (17) years Joel was behind the scenes handling all the television and marketing of his father’s ministry.  The next statement from the Charisma article is very revealing:

The younger Osteen’s television-marketing talents and his dad’s preaching skills resulted eventually in the church churches being aired on stations nationwide and in more than 100 countries.[10]

             Joel Osteen had the ability to get his father’s heavily WOF influenced message out all over America and into 100 foreign markets.  Due to this dynamic-duo of folksy preaching/teaching and highly visible presence on television Lakewood Church grew to close to 8,000 members at the time of John Osteen’s death in 1999.

            With his father sick in the hospital, John asks his son, Joel, to preach for him that Sunday.  Initially Joel balked at the idea and said “no.”  He then relented and here are Joel’s own words concerning his preaching that day:

 I just got up there and told stories.  I was so glad when it was over, I said, ‘I’ll never do this again in my life.’[11]

That was the beginning of his public ministry; he just got up and told “stories.”  Joel has been telling stories that have been tickling the ears of the multitudes ever since. Here is how the article describes Joel’s style of preaching:

 The appealing style of Osteen’s personality in the pulpit is unmistakable.  It is part of the reason for the Lakewood ’s current level of success.[12]

Everyone agrees Osteen’s preaching is a key ingredient.  Descriptions of his style include ‘simple,’ ‘down-to-earth,’ ‘practical,’ ‘relatable,’ ‘easy,’ ‘folksy,’ ‘humble.’[13]

It’s 10 a.m. when he began his sermon.  The theme is practical as he gives example after example of the importance of following God’s timing rather than one’s own.  He keeps the tone cheerful, optimistic. ‘God doesn’t want anybody walking out of here today heavy-hearted and downcast,” Osteen says.[14]

Joel Osteen is charismatic in his personality.  He is not a bad looking man, his delivery is as non-threatening as the positive messages he delivers.  Perhaps I am reading in to much yet when I read “practical” it makes me think that he believes teaching theology is somehow “impractical.”  The example after example simple means he tells a lot of stories and anecdotes that somehow relate to the message in which he may cite one or two proof texts to make his point.

It also concerns me when a pastor can make the statement that God does not want anybody walking out of here “heavy-hearted.” My Bible says “godly sorrow worketh repentance…” (see 2 Cor. 7:10).  At times God does want us to walk out of a service “heavy-hearted” if we have been sinning against His will.  We should allow the Word (when properly expounded) and the Spirit (when genuinely present) to break us, to convict us of sinful attitudes and practices. 

However if all you hear is “upbeat,” “cheerful,” and “optimistic” messages there is little opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work conviction in the hearts of the hearers.  This folksy down home non-confrontational type of message also goes a long way in explaining the huge crowds that gather to be entertained. 

Let Us Entertain You

Entertained?  Oh yes, it is not only Joel’s preaching style but the music of Lakewood is an important ingredient in drawing large hoards of people. Once Joel took command of Lakewood ’s already large congregation (between 6,000 to 8,000 members) he began to expand the musical talent as well.

Four years ago, when Cindy Cruse-Ratcliff — former member of the Dove Award-winning Cruse Family gospel group — became Lakewood’s minister of music, the church had only one Sunday morning service…Soon after Cruse-Ratcliff arrived Lakewood expanded when two Sunday morning services were added…’The growth was extremely rapid,’ says Cruse-Ratcliff, who still serves on the 200-member Lakewood. Staff.[15]

 “Star power” brings people to churches as well, especially musical stars and Joel is not ignorant of this fact.  As minister of music Ms. Ratcliff knows people in the contemporary music scene and she no doubt help add to the musical strength of this mega-church by helping bring in some more musical talent:

 Helping to spice up that mix are two of the most prominent names in worship music.  Marcos Witt, who fills stadiums in Latin America for worship concerts was tapped in 2002 to pastor Lakewood ’s 3,000 member Hispanic congregation.  Also adding diversity to the Lakewood staff is Israel Houghton, whose soulful worship anthems are sung around the world.[16]

The music at Lakewood is contemporary.  They have musical stars that appeal to Hispanic (Witt), African-American (Houghton) and Caucasian members (Ratcliff).  The musical team writes many of their own songs and nothing in the article is ever mentioned about hymns.

This is not surprising when you consider that (to our knowledge) no seeker-sensitive or WOF congregation use hymnals at all, apart from the occasional singing of Amazing Grace.  The charismatic movement’s brand of music has infiltrated almost all evangelical congregations that have forsaken the use of the historic hymns.  At our former seeker-sensitive Baptist church we sang songs that originated from the Toronto “revival” and from the Vineyard movement, two examples of some of the wildest expressions within the renewal movement.

Musically speaking there is a method “to their madness” at Lakewood and other mega-churches.  They have a strong emphasis to cut all ties with traditional Christianity.  The classic, highly theological hymns and hymnals virtually scream out the dreaded word “traditional.

Out With the Old, In With the New

  Lakewood and all seeker congregations do not want to be associated with any denominational trappings or any forms of liturgical worship[17].  Many of these churches have even removed crosses from behind their pulpits lest they appear to be too churchy to the seeker. 

In all our time spent among both Pentecostal believers and seeker-sensitive groups we never recited the Lord’s prayer as part of our worship.  We never recited any of the historic creeds of the orthodox Church.  I doubt there are three people who attend Lakewood who could recite the Apostles or Nicene Creeds, probably few know the Lord’s Prayer.  Catechism classes?  You’ve got to be kidding!  In its place some groups may offer a new member’s class, but these classes are usually just general introductions to what the church has to offer the “seeker.”  Osteen being a sign-gift believer offers classes which promote the concept of a second baptism in/with/by the Holy Spirit, but this aspect seems to be soft-peddled as well.

 What Is the Key to Osteen’s Success?

Osteen I believe is probably the first of many WOF devotee’s who has melded the successful marketing techniques of the seeker-sensitive mega-churches with their positive confession health & wealth message.  The blend becomes a potent hybrid that appeals to both sign-gift believers (sort of “charismatic lite”) and baby-boomer seekers.

The message that God wants to bless His children with complete physical health, to give them great financial wealth and to demand little of them regarding their spiritual life is a highly appealing message.  When you combine this with well known Gospel singers, highly orchestrated praise and worship teams in a decidedly non-church atmosphere it will appeal to even a wider audience.

We cannot forget to mix in the vast television footprint that Lakewood church promotes, along with its web site, daddy John Osteen’s books are still in almost all Christian bookstores so it is not difficult to understand how it can gather 30,000 people in Lakewood ’s rented 16,000 seat arena, formerly the home of the Houston Rockets.

What saddens me the most is that one hears little, if any, Law & Gospel proclaimed by Joel at Lakewood Church .  To quote something I remember hearing “dad” Hagin say: “how do you poison a dog?  You put the poison in with the good meat.”  I do not want to press the analogy too far but the reality is that 30,000 people are not being biblically fed a balanced spiritual diet that will promote true growth in their lives.  What you do hear is a synthesis of WOF concepts wrapped up in a seeker-friendly environment by a young man with a winsome smile.

Lastly, we cannot lose sight of the fact that a certain synergy builds with any church when it begins to reach such a size.  People, who have no solid doctrinal foundation, will want to attend the place where “something” is happening (throw in a coffee bar, ice rink and gym does not hurt either).  In America , bigger is better.  After all, many posit, if Joel was not being used of the Lord then why would God allow all these people to come to Lakewood church?

Could it be a sign of God’s judgment on His people who have forsaken His ways?  Often we think of God’s judgment as some divine catastrophe, yet often, and just as catastrophic, is when He simply allows people to have own way.  I believe the words of Jeremiah are applicable to many in the Church today: Jer 2:12-13

Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.  For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, [and] hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

 As much as Joel no doubt believes the growth they’ve experienced is due to the blessing of God it really boils down to three simple things, which have nothing to do with God at all: (1) his father’s legacy and an already existing mega-church; (2) Joel’s slick marketing abilities; (3) a biblically errant, but hugely popular message which appeals to the masses seeking to have their ears tickled and experience a “good time” in church.  Please pray for Joel Osteen, like it or not, he currently has a tremendous impact on many people.  Pray the Lord open his eyes to biblical truth and may he take as bold a stand to expose error.

Thank you Rev. Liichow

http://www.forgottenword.org/osteen.html

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MORE WORD FAITH POST ON THIS BLOG

Word Faith teaching- A spiritual copy of the Mind Sciences by LetUsReason.org

I HAVE WHAT I THINK AND SAY I HAVE (SPEAKING THINGS INTO EXISTENCE) by LetUsReason.org

THE WORD OF FAITH and the Mormon Connection by Larry Hall

Word Faith Movement heresies on GOD, in their own words (audio clips) BY H2bac.info

Walter Martin’s Word Faith Movement WARNING: w/GOSPEL OF GREED Big Steele: get-it/get-it slideshow by H2bac.info I think I did a good job on this ASLIDSHOW. What do you think?

How the Health and Wealth Gospel Twists Scripture

 

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The connection between the theology of the Mormon Church and the Word of Faith Movement is obvious to anyone who has studied them both. This short article will show just a few similarities between the two.

THE WORD OF FAITH…and the Planet of God:

Kenneth Copeland tells us, “You don’t think God created man in His image and created the earth in some other image, huh? There’s nothing under the whole sun that’s new-This is a copy of home-a copy of the mother planet. Where God lives, He made a little one just like it and put us on it.” 1

“Heaven has a north and a south and an east and a west. Consequently, it must be a planet.” 2

THE MORMON CHURCH…and the Planet of God:

God is supposed to have lived on a planet near a mysterious star called Kolob. According to Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, “Kolob means ‘the first creation.’ It is the name of the planet ‘nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God.’ …One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth.” 3

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THE WORD OF FAITH…and the Adam-God Doctrine:

Gloria Copeland, Kenneth Copeland’s wife, stated, “When God breathed the breath of life into Adam, He transmitted His very self into him. God imparted the same spiritual substance of which He is made into Adam’s being.” 4

Kenneth Copeland gives his opinion, “…Adam is as much like God as you can get, just the same as Jesus, when He came into the earth. And I want you to know something; Adam in the garden of Eden was God manifested in the flesh.” 5

THE MORMON CHURCH…and the Adam-God Doctrine:

Brigham Young, 2nd President of the Mormon Church tells us, “When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! About whom holy men have written and spoken–He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do.” 6

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THE WORD OF FAITH…and the Deity of Man:

Kenneth Copeland states, “You don’t have a god in you, you are one.” 7

According to Kenneth Hagin, “You are as much the incarnation of God as Jesus Christ was. Every man who has been born again is an incarnation and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.” 8

Earl Paulk in his book Satan Unmasked explains, “Adam and Eve were placed in the world as the seed and expression of God. Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, so God has little gods; we have trouble comprehending this truth. Until we comprehend that we are little gods, we cannot manifest the kingdom of God.” 9

According to Benny Hinn, “When I stand in Christ–I am one with Him; united to Him; one in spirit with Him. I am not part of Him, I am Him! The Word has become flesh in me!…When my hand touches someone, it’s the hand of Jesus touching somebody.” 10

THE MORMON CHURCH…and the Deity of Man:

Apostle Bruce McConkie states, “That exaltation which the saints of all ages have so devoutly sought is godhood itself.” 11

While the Mormons actively strive for godhood, it appears that the Word of Faith Movement leaders think they have already arrived! It is ironic that the same Christians who consider Mormonism as a blasphemous cult will drive 2,000 miles in a hot bus and fall all over themselves to get close to the likes of Benny Hinn! Both cults should be treated like horseshoes straight from the blacksmith’s fire. They should be examined closely and compared to Scripture, but they should be considered too hot to touch!

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REFERENCES:
(1) Watchman Expositor (www.watchman.org), Word Faith Theology and Mormonism (from Kenneth Copeland video, Following the Faith of Abraham)
(2) Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis, 1997, p. 379
(3) Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 428
(4) Watchman Expositor (www.watchman.org), Word Faith Theology and Mormonism (from Gloria Copeland, Believer’s Voice of Victory, June 1986, p. 10)
(5) Watchman Expositor (www.watchman.org), Word Faith Theology and Mormonism (from Kenneth Copeland video, Following the Faith of Abraham)
(6) Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 50
(7) Watchman Expositor, (www.watchman.org), Word Faith Theology and Mormonism (from Kenneth Copeland video, The Force of Love)
(8) Watchman Expositor (www.watchman.org), Word Faith Theology and Mormonism (from Kenneth Hagin, Word of Faith, December 1980, p. 14)
(9) Watchman Expositor (www.watchman.org), Word Faith Theology and Mormonism (from Earl Paulk, Satan Unmasked, p. 97)
(10) G. Richard Fisher/M. Kurt Goedelman, The Confusing World of Benny Hinn, 1997, p. 13 (from Benny Hinn, Our Position in Christ, six-tape audiocassette series, part 1, tape #A031190-1)
(11) Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 321

[Copyright 2001 by Sword of the Spirit Apologetics. This data file is the sole property of Sword of the Spirit Apologetics and may not be altered, edited, or changed in any way. It may not be used without permission of Sword of the Spirit Apologetics for any purpose of resale, with the exception of a few brief quotations not to exceed more than 300 words. Reproduction of this file as “freeware” circulation in its entirety must contain this copyright notice. Brief quotations for reviews or scholarly works should include source credit: Sword of the Spirit Apologetics, P. O. Box 40452, Grand Junction, CO 81504]

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THIS POST FROM THIS BLOG HAS AUDIO CLIPS OF MANY OF THE WORD FAITH MOVEMENT TEACHERS OWN WORDS  Word Faith Movement heresies on GOD, in

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How the Health and Wealth Gospel Twists Scripture by Watchman.org

Most Christians have heard some of the following: “You can have what you say,” “The reason you haven’t been healed is that you don’t have enough faith,” “We can write our own ticket with God if we decide what we want, believe that it’s ours, and confess it,” “He wants you rich and healthy,” “What is the desire of your heart? Name it , claim it by faith, and it is yours! Your heavenly Father has promised it. It’s right there in the Bible.”

Such statements reflect the models which set forth a theology of the spoken word (rhematology) or of thought-actualization, commonly known as “positive confession”, which stresses the inherent power of words and thoughts.

Some who teach this system argue that just as God, by His faith, spoke (or conceived of the creation in His mind) and matter came into existence (Genesis 1, Psalm 33:6, Hebrews 11:3, 2 Peter 3:5), so the Christian can speak (or conceive of things in his mind) and actually bring them into existence by faith.

Many of those in the Word-Faith movement, such as Charles Capps and Jerry Savelle, teach that God had faith in His faith. They use Scripture texts such as Mark 11:22 and Hebrews 11:3, translating them as “have the faith of God”. However, renowned Greek scholar A.T. Robertson, in his books A Short Grammar of the Greek Testament (pp. 227-228) and A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (p. 500), very adequately shows that the phrase is not to be translated in the subjective genitive (meaning that the noun is the subject of the action – or that God is the subject of faith) such as “have the faith of God”, but is to be translated in the objective genitive (meaning that the noun is the object of the action – that God is the object of faith). He goes on to insist that translating in the subjective genitive is preposterous. He says “it is not the faith that God has, but the faith of which God is the object”.

 

The Gospel of Health

“I am fully convinced – I would die saying it is so – that it is the plan of Our Father God, in His great love and in His great mercy, that no believer should ever be sick; that every believer should live his full life span down here on this earth; and that every believer should finally just fall asleep in Jesus” (Kenneth E. Hagin, Seven Things You Should Know about Divine Healing, p. 21).

 

The above statement and others like it have caused much confusion in the body of Christ and led many to be presumptuous in the area of divine healing. There are some things that are true about healing to which most Christians would readily admit. First of all, people who are morally conscientious and who recognize that the physical body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16) may generally have better health because they take care of their bodies. Secondly, the healing of human life is part of the redemptive work of God. The Bible does teach healing. It was part of Jesus’ and the apostles’ ministries. There were gifts of healing in the church’s charismata, and in James 5:14-15, Christians are specifically encouraged to pray for the sick with the promise of answered prayer.

Of course, one reason believers pray for the sick to be healed is their conviction that the body, though still subject to decay and death in the present age, is destined for resurrection (1 Corinthians 6:13-14), and when God does heal someone it is a sign of the future Age already at work in the present.

However, where most Christians depart from the “faith movement” on healing is their understanding of the most pivotal text of Isaiah 53, which those in the faith movement almost always twist to justify their view of “blanket” coverage for the physical healing of every Christian who has enough faith.

A clearer understanding of this important passage can be gleaned throurgh a deeper evaluation of its underlying Hebrew text. What does the text Isaiah 53:5 mean when it says, “and by His stripes we are healed”? The Faith Movement interprets it to mean primarily the physical, while the majority of Christian scholarship has always interpreted it to mean primarily spiritual. For example, Gordon D. Fee, Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary is quoted in the SCP Newsletter, Spring 1985, concerning this text, as saying, “It is also questionable whether the Bible teaches that healing is provided for in the atonement. Scores of texts explicitly tell us our sin has been overcome through Christ’s death and resurrection, but no text explicitly says the same about healing, not even Isaiah and its New Testament citations.

“Matthew (8:17) clearly saw Isaiah as referring to physical healing, but as a part of the Messiah’s ministry, not the atonement. Peter (2:24) saw the healing in Isaiah 53 as metaphysical, referring to our sin sickness, and this is the primary sense Isaiah himself gives the passage.

“Yet, since physical disease was clearly recognized to be a consequence of the Fall, one may argue that healing also finds its focal point in the atonement. But saying that does not imply all faithful Christians should experience perfect health. Even historic Pentecostalism, which believes healing was provided for in the atonement, does not hold that view. The position paper on divine healing adopted by the General Presbytery of the Assemblies of God (1974) makes it clear that healing is “provided for” because the “atonement brought release from the consequences of sin.” Nonetheless, since we have not yet received the “redemption of our bodies”, suffering and death are still our lot until the resurrection”.

An incorrect Bible hermeneutic (rules for Bible interpretation) combined with a desire for complete perfection have led many in the faith camp to deny the reality of sickness and disease.

For example, Kenneth Hagin, in The Name of Jesus, says, “In teaching on divine healing and health, I have often said, `I haven’t had a headache in so-many years.’ (At this writing it has been 45 years.) I guess the devil got tired of hearing me say it. Just a few months ago, as I left the office building and started home, suddenly my head started hurting. Someone might say, `Well, you had a headache.’ No, I didn’t have one! I don’t have headaches. I haven’t had a headache since August 1934.

“Forty-five years have come and gone, and I haven’t had a headache. Not one. The last headache I can actually remember having was in August 1933. I haven’t had a headache, and I’m not expecting to have one. But if I had a headache, I wouldn’t tell anybody. And if somebody asked me how I was feeling, I would say, “I’m fine, thank you.” (p. 44, parenthesis in original).

It is obvious from the above statements that Hagin doesn’t consider having a headache to be real. That’s because to him and other Faith movement teachers, symptoms are not real indications of sickness or disease, but distractions by the devil tempting him or her into making a negative confession.

 

The Gospel of Wealth

“It’s a matter of your faith. You got one-dollar faith, and you ask for a ten thousand-dollar item, it ain’t gonna work. It won’t work. Jesus said, “According to your faith”, not “according to His will, if He can work it into His busy schedule.” He said, “according to your faith be it unto you.” Now I may want a Rolls Royce and don’t have but bicycle faith. Guess what I’m gonna get? A bicycle” (Frederick K.C. Price, “Praise the Lord” broadcast on TBN, 21 September 1990, taken from Documentation for Christianity in Crisis by Hank Hanegraaff). The cardinal fault with the prosperity gospel is one central tenet: God wills the financial prosperity of every Christian, therefore, for a believer to live in poverty is living outside God’s intended will. Normally tucked away somewhere is another affirmation: Since we are God’s children, we should always go first class, we should have the biggest and the best. Only this brings glory to God!

 

No matter how much one tries to clothe the above affirmations in Biblical garb, it is simply not Biblical. Again, poor scripture interpretation is employed by the faith movement.

To substantiate their teachings, proponents of the prosperity gospel distort the meaning of certain Bible passages. One such passage, frequently quoted is 3 John 2. John began his letter with a friendly greeting, expressing his desire that Gaius “may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers”.

Kenneth Copeland explains this verse on page 51 of his book, The Laws of Prosperity, says, “You must realize that it is God’s will for you to prosper. This is available to you, and frankly, it would be stupid of you not to partake of it”.

This verse, however, according to James Bjornstad in his article, “What’s Behind the Prosperity Gospel?”, published by Moody Monthly in the 1986 issue, “is nothing more than John’s personal wish for Gaius. We should not take it as an universal promise or guarantee of health and wealth”.

The Greek word translated “prosper” in the KJV means “to go well with someone”. This wish for “things to go well” and for “good health” was the standard form of greeting in personal letter of antiquity, just as a friend today might say, “I hope this letter finds you all well”.

Another popular text for the word-faith teachers, with regard to prosperity, is John 10:10. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with material abundance. According to Gordon Fee in the same Moody Monthly issue, the “abundant life” Jesus talked about here is the same “life” or “eternal life” in John’s gospel and is the equivalent of the “kingdom of God”. Fee goes on to say, “It literally means the “life of the Age to come”. It is the life that God has in and of Himself; and it is His gift to believers in the present age. The Greek word perrison, translated “more abundantly” in the KJV, means simply that believers are to enjoy this gift of life “to the full” (NIV).

Material abundance is not implied either in “life” or “to the full”. Such an idea is totally foreign to the context of John 10 as well as to the whole teaching of Jesus” (Ibid.).

Many in the word-faith movement treat God as if He is a God simply there only to cater to our every wish as we ask it and that His entire purpose in heaven is simply to do our bidding. Kenneth Hagin has even written a little booklet entitled, “How to write your own ticket with God“. This is the same presupposition that Charles Fillmore of Unity School of Christianity had with regard to prosperity. H. Terris Newman, writing in Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Vol. 12, No. 1, Spring 1990, p. 45, records Fillmore’s rendition of Psalm 23: “The Lord is may banker; my credit is good. He maketh me to lie down in the consciousness of omnipresent abundance; He giveth me the key to His strong box; He restoreth my faith in His riches; He guideth me in the paths of prosperity for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk in the very shadow of debt, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thou preparest a way for me in the presence of the collector; Thou fillest my wallet with plenty; my measure runneth over. Surely goodness and plenty will follow me all the days of my life, And I shall do business in the name of the Lord forever.”

One can not help but see that attitudes like the above are discouraged in scripture when it says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10).

In contrast to word-faith theology, sound biblical theology teaches that God does not have to do anything. God, the Creator of all things, is sovereign in all things, not the creature. God is not obligated to heal or prosper anyone, yet He graciously does, and neither is deserved. Someone has said: “healing is not a divine obligation, it is a divine gift”. The receiver of the gift can make no demands. God can be trusted to do all things well.

Perhaps the root error of the gospel of health and wealth is that it seeks to apply a theology of future glory to the believer in the here and now. But the Lord Jesus taught a theology for here and now that both sustains believers in hard times and holds out hope for tomorrow.

Christians should not claim now what God in His grace has promised only for the future.

http://www.watchman.org/reltop/health$.htm

THERE IS A LARGE QUANTITY OF WORD FAITH MOVEMENT ARCTILCES HERE With articles on it’s deifferent preachers and leaders. From deceptioninthechurch.com

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