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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.

http://www.returningking.com/?p=68

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Is Christian Science Christian?

Of all the biblically based cults in America today, Christian Science is one of the most interesting. Not only does it deny the essential doctrines of Christianity, but it has completely reinterpreted the Bible. It drastically redefines the Bible’s culture and terminology and rips thousands of scriptures out of their historical and biblical contexts. The result is a non-Christian mixture of metaphysical and philosophical thoughts. Christian Science is so foreign to the Bible that, if it didn’t use words like Jesus, Trinity, Love, Grace, Sin, etc., you’d never suspect it had anything to do with the Bible at all. Additionally, the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which is the Christian Scientist’s mainstay of spiritual knowledge, reads with a rhythm of pseudo logical statements that has the tendency to dull the senses when read long enough. Is Christian Science Christian? Definitely not.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures is the primary interpretive source of the Bible and source guide of Christian Science. It interprets the Bible in a radically different way. It is so different, in fact, that it absolutely rejects the substitutionary atonement of Jesus and states that it had no efficacious value (S&H, 25:6). It denies that Jesus is God, second person of the Trinity (S&H, 361:12-13). It says that sin is a false interpretation of Divine Mind and is nonexistent (S&H, 335:7-15). And it says that the Holy Spirit is Divine Science which is best represented by Christian Science (S & H, 331:31). The list can go on and, unfortunately, it does.

To the Christian Scientist, God (the Father-Mother) is a Principle known as the Divine Mind. It has no personhood and no personality. A catch phrase used in their literature is that God is “All in All.” In other words, God is all that exists and what we perceive as matter is an interpretation of divine mind. Since God is love, it means that sin and sickness are only errors of interpreting the Divine Mind and have no true reality (S & H, 330:25-274; 470:9-14).

To the Christian Scientist, Jesus is a Way-shower. He is someone who epitomized the true principle of the Christ Consciousness which indwells us all. Therefore, Jesus did not really die on the cross. He was not God in flesh. He made no atonement in shedding His blood (S&H, 25:6).

Christian Science teaches that man does not have a sinful nature and is a reflection of Divine Mind. To achieve “salvation,” he needs only to find the true reality of understanding, as revealed in Christian Science teachings. Unfortunately, these teachings are from Mary Baker Eddy a woman who founded the religion in the 1870’s and not from God.

The Christian Scientists consider their philosophy to be consistent with the original teachings of Jesus. They consider truth a matter of higher understanding and learning. But the reality is that Christian Science has only produced unbiblical and false doctrines. Eternal destruction is the only thing that will result from its false teaching. The fires of hell will be a bitter reality for those who have been taught that they don’t exist.

http://www.carm.org/christian_science/cult.htm

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What does Christian Science Teach?

The following doctrines are referenced out of the primary Christian Science work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. It is supposed to be a companion to the Bible. Science and Health together with the Bible are called the Pastor of Christian Science.

God is infinite…and there is no other power or source, S&H, 471:18.

God is Universal Principle, S&H 331:18-19

God cannot indwell a person, S&H 336:19-20

God is the only intelligence in the universe, including man S&H 330:11-12

God is Mind, S&H 330:20-21; 469:13

God is the Father-Mother, S&H 331:30; 332:4

The Trinity is Life, Truth, and Love, S&H 331:26

Belief in the traditional doctrine of the Trinity is polytheism, S&H 256:9-11

Christ is the spiritual idea of sonship S&H 331:30-31

Jesus was not the Christ, S&H 333:3-15; 334:3

“Jesus Christ is not God, as Jesus himself declared…” S&H 361:12-13

Jesus did not reflect the fullness of God, S&H 336:20-21

Jesus did not die, S&H 45:32-46:3

The Holy Spirit is divine science, S&H 331:31

There is no devil, S&H 469:13-17

There is no sin, S&H 447:24

Evil and good are not real, S&H, 330:25-27; 470:9-14

Matter, sin, and sickness are not real, but only illusions,” S&H 335:7-15; 447:27-28.

Life is not material or organic, “S&H, 83:21

The sacrifice of Jesus was not sufficient to cleanse from sin, “S&H, 25:6.

True healings are the result of true belief, “S&H, 194:6”

Additionally, Christian Scientists prefer not to use doctors, medicine, or immunizations. Christian Science Practitioners are used to help people through the false reality of illness.

Proper prayer and training are employed to battle the “non-reality” of illness.

They have no ordinances like the Lord’s Supper or baptism.

Church services are interspersed with Bible reading and readings from Science and Health.

Mary Baker Eddy is highly regarded as a revelator of God’s word.

http://www.carm.org/christian_science/doctrine.htm
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Questions to Ask Christian Scientists

If God is all in all, then where did evil come from?

If everything is an interpretation of divine mind, then why do people have different understandings of God?

If sickness is an illusion, why do you have practitioners who go out to Christian Scientists in attempts to heal them?

If sin is not real, then why does the Bible say that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23)? As well as, “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” (1 John 1:8).

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy said, “The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon ‘the accursed tree,’ than when it was flowing in his veins as he went daily about his Father’s business.” Why would she contradict so plainly the teaching of Scripture that says, “but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Why would Mary Baker Eddy directly contradict the Jesus’ own claim of Himself? She said that “Jesus is not God, as Jesus himself declared, but the Son of God.” (S & H 361:12-13). Is she calling Jesus a liar?

If “Man is incapable of sin, sickness, and death” as Eddy said in Science and Health 475:28, then why do people die? Why does the Bible say that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23)?

Why would Mrs. Eddy say Jesus did not die (S&H 45:32-46:3) when the Bible clearly teaches that He died (Rom. 8:34; 1 Thess. 4:13; 1 Cor. 8:11; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 John 1:7).

If our physical senses do not tell us the truth about the material world then how can we trust them when we read the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures or hear its message with our ears?

http://www.carm.org/christian_science/questions.htm
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Interesting Quotes from Mary Baker

The following quotes are from Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures

“One sacrifice, however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin. The atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner’s part. That God’s wrath should be vented upon His beloved Son, is divinely unnatural. Such a theory is man-made” (S&H, p. 23:3-7).

“The material blood of Jesus was no more efficacious to cleanse from sin when it was shed upon ‘the accursed tree,’ than when it was flowing in his veins as he went daily about his Father’s business” (S&H, 25:6-8).

“His disciples believed Jesus to be dead while he was hidden in the sepulcher, whereas he was alive . . .” (S&H, p. 44:28-29).

“. . . his body was not changed until he himself ascended, — or, in other words, rose even higher in the understand of Spirit, God . . .and this exaltation explained his ascension, and revealed unmistakably a probationary and progressive state beyond the grave” (S&H, p. 46:15-17; 20-24).

“His students then received the Holy Ghost. By this is meant, that by all they had witnessed and suffered, they were roused to an enlarged understanding of divine Science” (S&H, p. 46:30-32).

“A scientific mental method is more sanitary than the use of drugs, and such a mental method produces permanent health” (S&H, 79:7-9).

“It is contrary to Christian Science to suppose that life is either material or organically spiritual” (S&H, 83:21-22).

“The admission to one’s self that man is God’s own likeness sets man free to master the infinite idea” (S&H 90:24-25).

“The theory of three person in one God (that is, a personal Trinity or Tri-unity) suggest polytheism . . .” (S&H, p. 256:9-11).

“Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation” (S&H, p. 332:4-5.).

“The word Christ is not properly a synonym for Jesus, thought it is commonly so used” (S&H, p. 333:3-4).

“Mind is the I AM, or infinity. Mind never enters the finite. . .but infinite Mind can never be in man . . .a portion of God could not enter man” (S&H, p 336:1-2,13,19-20).

“. . . and recognize that Jesus Christ is not God, as Jesus himself declared, but is the Son of God” (S&H, p 361:11-13).

Speaking of Gen. 2:7, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being,” Eddy says, “Is this addition to His creation real or unreal? Is it the truth, or is it a lie concerning man and God? It must be a lie, for God presently curses the ground…”(S&H, p. 524:13-27).

In describing what the Devil is, it says, “Evil; a lie; error; neither corporeality nor mind; the opposite of Truth; a belief in sin, sickness, and death; animal magnetism or hypnotism; the lust of the flesh, which saith: ‘I am life and intelligence in matter. There is more than one mind, for I am mind, – a wicked mind, self-made or created by a tribal god and put into the opposite of mind, termed matter, thence to reproduce a mortal universe, including man, not after the image and likeness of Spirit, but after its own image.” (S&H, p. 584:17-25).

“If there had never existed such a person as the Galilean Prophet, it would make no difference to me.” (The First Church of Christ Scientist and Miscellany, pp. 318, 319).

http://www.carm.org/christian_science/quotes.htm

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THE TRUTH ABOUT THE WORD OF FAITH

exwordoffaith.blogspot.com

I used to wonder why Shepherding reappeared in the Charismatic churches considering that the founders pretty much shut it down around 1990, and publicly repented. It didn’t make sense why it not only lingered, but began thriving again. I have lately found out why it reappeared. It snuck in through the teachings of the Word of Faith, one of the most influential movements since the Azusa Street Revival of 1906. The Word of Faith may be influential, but it is also an apostasy, and carries Shepherding clinging to it like a leech.

I was a follower of the Word of Faith doctrine from 1990 until 2005. Even when I began to break with the Word of Faith over the extremes of the Prosperity Gospel, I still maintained connections with them. I was a licensed minister through a Word of Faith church from 2004 through 2007, and my wife worked for Kenneth Copeland Ministries from 2003 until late 2007. During that time, I noticed more and more spiritual abuse, things that reminded me of Shepherding. I began to wonder, “Is the Word of Faith in general, and Kenneth Copeland Ministries in particular, Shepherdist, or merely spiritually abusive, or am I nuts?”

Early this year (2008), I found out that I am not nuts!

In his book A Different Gospel, D.R. McConnell points out the origins of the Word of Faith. This is not a rant by a Fundamentalist preacher. This book began as McConnell’s master’s thesis when he was a student at Oral Roberts University. He is a Charismatic pastor, so this is an insider’s look at something he finds disturbing.

McConnell says that today’s Word of Faith preachers (Kenneth Copeland, John Avanzini, Creflo Dollar, etc.) base their doctrine on the works and teachings of Kenneth Hagin. We knew that.

McConnell then says that Hagin based (some say plagiarized) his doctrines on the works of E.W. Kenyon. We knew that, too.

But then McConnell drops a 2,000 megaton bombshell, ripping through my views of the Word of Faith like a lawnmower through Bermuda grass. He states that Kenyon based his teachings and beliefs on what he was taught in college, at the hands of teachers who were Gnostic and Christian Scientist.

Whoa! That makes the whole doctrine pretty much suspect from the beginning!

Kenyon attended the Emerson School of Oratory in 1892. There, he was under the influence of Charles Emerson, a Christian Scientist; R.W. Trine, a Gnostic who wrote one of the major books on New Thought; and M.J. Savage, a Unitarian whose church Kenyon attended.

Let’s look at those beliefs and see how the Word of Faith dovetails into them.

Gnosticism is a complex system of beliefs hammered together from earlier ones. It has existed as far back as before the time of Christ and was a real problem to the Church as early as the time of John and Peter. To summarize Gnosticism, it believes that salvation is through knowledge of mysteries (gained through intuition), that all matter is evil and that only spirit is good (a belief called Dualism), that Jesus could not have been purely good because He was in a human body, that Jesus was a mere man, that God created lesser gods, and that only Gnostics, “people who knew,” were guaranteed salvation. They also believe that God could only be reached through gnosis, through the divine revelation of mysterious knowledge. Gnostics also believe that God is a hermaphrodite; half male, half female. Gnostics believed in a divine formula, that once understood, would destroy the power of evil.

Gnosticism’s more modern offshoot, New Thought, states that Spirit is the ultimate reality, the true human self is divine, divinely attuned thought is a positive force for good, most disease is mental in origin, and that right thinking has a healing effect. While that may sound Biblical, it is actually a form of early Humanism, and was founded on pantheism, occultism, spiritualism, and the basics of Gnosticism.

Christian Science is founded on the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy. This system believes a lot of things that are Biblical, but some of the things that they believe that aren’t include “mind over matter,” the idea that all things are spiritual and the material world is an illusion, and the denial of physical ailments. Please note that Christian Science is not Scientology.

Hmmm … I see parallels already. Let’s review some of them.

The Word of Faith believes:

— Divine Revelation: well, I believe in it, too, but all divine revelation has to mesh perfectly with the Bible. Word of Faith preachers teach that they are the dispensers of this revelation, and imply that only they are capable of giving it. They will rely more on what “God told them” than on what was written in the Bible, despite their insistence that we, the congregation, must find three scripture verses to support what we want to do. This is not unlike the Gnostic belief in mysterious knowledge.

— They put God in a box: Word of Faith preachers deny God’s sovereignty and actually mock the concept. They make God a slave to “spiritual laws” that even He can’t break. They teach that we can twist God’s arm to get what we want, enabling us to write our own ticket with Him (Kenneth Hagin’s term), or turn God into a vending machine (Richard Roberts’ term). The concept of spiritual laws and the idea that God is at our beck and call is definitely Gnostic.

— Jesus died spiritually: while the idea that Jesus went to Hell is as old as the Church, the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds do NOT say that Jesus died spiritually and had to be born again. If Jesus did die spiritually, then Jesus was a mere man, and not God incarnate. Again, this is a Gnostic belief — that Jesus was a mere man.

— Spiritual laws: Word of Faith is founded on the concept that there are spiritual laws in the Bible, that even God is bound to obey. These spiritual laws include things like reciprocity, sowing and reaping, the law of sin and death, the law of the tongue, etc. Once these laws are understood and worked with, then Satan has no more power over the Christian. That may be true, and I’m not saying that it is, but it sounds an awful lot like the Gnostic belief in divine formulas.

— God is as much female as He is male: I don’t know where they get this from Biblically, but more than one Word of Faith has said this. They also teach that Adam was both male and female at the same time, and God removed Adam’s female half, not just a rib. If this were true, then the pronoun for God in the Bible would be either “it” or “s/he,” not “he.” A hermaphroditic view of God is pure Gnosticism.

— Man is equal with Jesus and God: the idea that we are made in God’s image is Biblical, but the Word of Faith teaching that we are little gods, or that we are made in God’s class is not. Being equal with God is Gnostic at best, Lucifer’s rant at worst.

— Our words can change time, space and matter: this is known as “Name It and Claim It.” Sure, our words can change attitudes and maybe our bodies, but not to the extent that we are the “prophets of our own lives.” This is Christian Scientist “mind over matter,” retooled for modern times.

— Emphasis on Dominion over the Earth instead of forgiveness of sins and the need to love others: Most Word of Faith theology is rooted in having dominion over the Earth, and that Adam was the god of this planet. Do I have to go into that? Gnostics believed that they were gods.

— The reality of sickness and sin is denied: The Word of Faith says that they do not deny sickness and sin, but deny sickness and sin’s place in their bodies. It’s the same thing. Christian Science denies sickness, often to the point of dying instead of taking medicine. Word of Faith preachers do the same thing, often mocking doctors and medicine, despite having them on their daily television shows.

— Prayer is replaced by confession: Prayer connects us with God. Confession connects us with us. In other words, confession, whether it is what we desire or a Bible verse, is a Gnostic practice of mumbling chants and spells, replacing God with our own minds, because we have the knowledge it takes to save ourselves.

— God can only be pleased by faith: This is based on a verse in Hebrews. The implication is that if we are not standing on three scriptures from the Bible, believing we receive, and holding God to the spiritual laws, then God is not pleased with us. This is very similar to the Gnostic concept that the only way to God is through gnosis (in this case, the only way to God is through the strict definition of faith that the preacher uses). This totally rules out the concept that the way to God is through Jesus Christ.

— Dualism: The Word of Faith stresses that everything is spiritual, and that the physical is not important. They mock education and creatitivy and the five human senses. They hate sex (Kenneth Copeland said that we were supposed to speak our children into existence, Gloria Copeland said that sex was a product of the fall of Adam, and Benny Hinn said that women were originally supposed to give birth from their armpits). Despite their obsession with healing, they hate the human body, calling it an “earth suit.” Dualism is a Gnostic belief. Sure, you find the same teaching in the works of St. Augustine, but remember, he was a Gnostic before becoming a Christian.

I should have seen all this from the beginning, but I didn’t. I fell for the teaching that I could get rich quick and that I didn’t have to be sick a day in my life. There is a sucker born every minute! The reason the Word of Faith fooled me, and millions of other Christians, is that there is a lot of Biblical truth in it. Much of what Word of Faith preachers teach is sound. But what they teach that is sound is nothing more than the truths found in the Pentecostal movement of 1906 and the Charismatic Renewal of 1967. It’s the rest that’s poisoned; the part that orginated with Kenyon, was modified by Hagin and has been perpetuated by Copeland.

Another reason the Word of Faith fooled me, and millions of others, is that the preachers are genuinely sincere Christians who love Jesus! Kenyon, Hagin, Copeland, Dollar and others have helped millions of people know Christ better. They really believe that what they preach is totally Biblical. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Kenyon fought against the metaphysical religions of Christian Science and New Thought, denying their more obvious unbiblical teachings. Yet, he ended up embracing enough of these unbiblical teachings to turn the Word of Faith from what should have been a new branch of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement into a genuine cult.

I know, I know … there are Word of Faith apologetics that refute every one of these observations. The thing for me is this — I was an insider and saw this firsthand. I saw the abuses, and the apostasies, and people running around chanting their mantras, and I had enough. McConnell’s claims make sense to me. They explain what I saw. You have to decide for yourself.

This does not make the Word of Faith a heresy. Heresy is a rebellion against the doctrines of an established church. The Word of Faith is its own denomination, so it has nothing to rebel against. It is instead, an apostasy! An apostasy is nothing less than a rebellion against God Himself.

It gets worse.

There is a direct link between the Word of Faith and Shepherding.

Tricia Tillin, in her online testimony, shows this direct link. She lives in Great Britain, and was involved with KCM and the Word of Faith during the latter part of the 20th Century. In her blog, she writes that in 1985, she visited the UK headquarters for KCM and had a conversation with the worker there. During this conversation, Mrs. Tillin brought up how she was relieved that Kenneth Copeland was so opposed to Shepherding. Mrs. Tillin expected the worker to agree with her. Instead, Mrs. Tillin writes “She was evasive, would not condemn Shepherding doctrines, and then said that there had been a change of heart and the Copeland ministry would now be working more closely with the Shepherding leadership, and we should be praying for unity between them. This was devastating! Formerly they agreed Shepherding was in error, but now they’d changed their minds, and were going to work alongside each other!”

Then there is Stephen Parson’s book Ungodly Fear. Parson writes that in 1985 (the same year that Mrs. Tillin visited the KCM headquarters in Great Britain), at a convention of the Network of Christian Ministries, Kenneth Copeland said the Word of Faith and the Shepherding doctrines ought to be merged.

So, two different sources identify that the Word of Faith and Shepherding married each other. This does, at least to me, explains what I saw during my tenure with KCM and the Word of Faith. If the Word of Faith was so far from the truth to begin with, then it’s easy to understand how it could so easily embrace another apostasy like Shepherding.

And it also explains how Shepherding has made so many inroads into the Charismatic churches and ministries. Kenneth Copeland is a highly respected and influential teacher among many Charismatics. They are simply doing what they see his ministry and church do.

http://exwordoffaith.blogspot.com/2008/02/truth-about-word-of-faith.html

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This Assemblies of God position paper is a response to what the denomination considers to be extremes in the Faith Movement. The denomination is obligated to distance themselves from errors and extremes that have their roots in Pentecostalism.

The Believer And Positive Confession

The Life of Faith

The Assemblies of God from its early days has recognized the importance of the life of faith. It has been given prominent e-mphasis because Scripture gives it prominence.

The writer to the Hebrews points out that without faith it is impossible to please God. Then he describes faith as believing two things–that God is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).

All the blessings which God has for His people are received through faith. Salvation (Acts 16:31), baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 11:15-17), divine preservation (1 Peter 1:5), inheritance of the promises which include healing and provision of material needs (Hebrews 6:12), and motivation for witnessing (2 Corinthians 4:13) are among the many provisions of God’s grace.

Today, as in every generation, it is important for believers to be mindful of the example in Scripture of being strong in faith (Romans 4:20-24). They must be on guard against anything which would weaken or destroy faith. They need to pray for its increase (Luke 17:5) and constantly seek to cultivate it through reading the Word of God (Romans 10:17).

The life of faith is the life of victory (1 John 5:4).

The Believer and Positive Confession

Occasionally throughout church history people have taken extreme positions concerning great Biblical truths. Sometimes teachers have advocated these extremes. On other occasions followers have gone beyond the teachings and reflected adversely on the cause of Christ.

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Positive and negative confession are expressions which in recent years have received acceptance in an extreme form in some circles. Both the definition in writing and the pattern of usage give some insight into the implications of these terms.

The fact that extremes are brought into focus does not imply rejection of the doctrine of confession. It is an important truth. The Bible teaches people are to confess their sin (1 John 1:9). They are to confess Christ (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9, 10). They are to maintain a good confession (Hebrews 4:14; 10:23, ASV).

But when people, in emphasizing a doctrine, go beyond or contrary to the teaching of Scripture, they do not honor that doctrine. Conversely, they bring reproach upon it and the work of the Lord. For this reason it is important to call attention to these excesses and show how they are in conflict with the Word of God.

Some Positions of the Positive Confession Teaching

The positive confession teaching relies on an English dictionary definition of the word confess: “to acknowledge, or to own; to acknowledge faith in.” Confession is also described as affirming something which is believed, testifying to something known, and witnessing for a truth which has been embraced.

This view goes a step further and divides confession into negative and positive aspects. The negative is acknowledging sin, sickness, poverty, or other undesirable situations. Positive confession is acknowledging or owning desirable situations.

While there are variations of interpretation and emphasis concerning this teaching, a conclusion seems to be that the unpleasant can be avoided by refraining from negative confessions. The pleasant can be enjoyed by making positive confessions.

According to this view, as expressed in various publications, the believer who refrains from acknowledging the negative and continues to affirm the positive will assure for himself pleasant circumstances. He will be able to rule over poverty, disease, and sickness. He will be sick only if he confesses he is sick. Some make a distinction between acknowledging the symptoms of an illness and the illness itself.

This view advocates that God wants believers to wear the best clothing, drive the best cars, and have the best of everything. Believers need not suffer financial setbacks. All they need to do is to tell Satan to take his hands off their money. The believer can have whatever he says whether the need is spiritual, physical, or financial. It is taught that faith compels God’s action.

According to this position, what a person says determines what he will receive and what he will become. Thus people are instructed to start confessing even though what they want may not have been realized. If a person wants money, he is to confess he has it even if it is not true. If a person wants healing, he is to confess it even though it is obviously not the case. People are told they can have whatever they say, and for this reason great significance is attached to the spoken word. It is claimed the spoken word, if repeated often enough, will eventually result in faith which procures the desired blessing.

It is understandable that some people would like to accept the positive confession teaching. It promises a life free from problems, and its advocates seem to support it with passages of Scripture. Problems develop, however, when Bible statements are isolated from their context and from what the rest of Scripture has to say concerning the subject. Extremes result which distort truth and eventually hurt believers as individuals and the cause of Christ in general.

When believers study the life of faith and victory God has for His people, it is important, as in all doctrine, to seek for the balanced emphasis of Scripture. This will help to avoid the extremes which eventually frustrate rather than help believers in their walk with God.

Believers Should Consider the Total Teaching of Scripture.

The apostle Paul gave an important principle of interpreting Scripture which calls for “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:13). The basic thrust of this principle is to consider everything God’s Word has to say on a given subject in establishing doctrine. Only doctrine based on a holistic view of Scripture conforms to this Biblical rule of interpretation.

When the positive confession teaching indicates that to admit weakness is to accept defeat, to admit financial need is to accept poverty, and to admit sickness is to preclude healing, it is going beyond and is contrary to the harmony of Scripture.

For instance, King Jehoshaphat admitted he had no might against an enemy alliance, but God gave him a marvelous victory (2 Chronicles 20). Paul admitted weakness and then stated that when he was weak, he was strong because God’s strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9,10).

It was after the disciples recognized they did not have enough to feed the multitudes and admitted it that Christ marvelously provided a more than adequate supply (Luke 9:12, 13). It was after the disciples admitted they had caught no fish that Jesus directed them to a most successful endeavor (John 21:3-6).

These people were not told to replace negative confessions with positive confessions which were contrary to fact. They stated conditions exactly as they were rather than pretending they were something else. Yet God marvelously intervened even though they made what some would call negative confessions.

Comparing Scripture with Scripture makes it clear that positive verbal expressions do not always produce happy effects nor do negative statements always result in unhappy effects. To teach that leaders in the early days of the Church such as Paul, Stephen, and Trophimus did not live in a constant state of affluence and health because they did not have the light on this teaching is going beyond and contrary to the Word of God. Doctrine will be sound only as it is developed within the framework of the total teaching of Scripture.

The Greek word translated “confess” means “to speak the same thing.” When people confess Christ, it is to say the same thing as Scripture does concerning Christ. When people confess sin, it is to say the same as Scripture does concerning sin. And when people confess some promise of Scripture, they must be sure they are saying the same thing about that promise as the total teaching of Scripture on that subject.

The words of Augustine are appropriate in this regard: “If you believe what you like in the gospel and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”

Believers Should Consider Adequately the Will of God.

When the positive confession doctrine indicates a person can have whatever he says, it fails to emphasize adequately that God’s will must be considered. David had the best intentions when he indicated his desire to build a temple for the Lord, but it was not God’s will (1 Chronicles 17:4). David was permitted to gather materials, but Solomon was to build the temple.

Paul prayed that the thorn in his flesh might be removed, but it was not God’s will. Instead of removing the thorn, God gave Paul sufficient grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).

God’s will can be known and claimed by faith, but the desire of the heart is not always the criterion by which the will of God is determined. There are times when the enjoyable or pleasurable may not be the will of God. James alluded to this when he wrote, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3). The word translated “lusts” does not refer to perverted desire but to pleasure or enjoyment; that which the heart desires. Several translations use the word “pleasure” rather than “lust.”

In Gethsemane Jesus asked that if it were possible the cup might be removed. That was His desire, but in His prayer He recognized the will of God. He said, “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

The Bible recognizes there will be times when a believer will not know what to pray for. He will not know what the will of God is. He may even be perplexed as Paul sometimes was (2 Corinthians 4:8). Then, rather than simply making a positive confession based on the desires of the heart, the believer needs to recognize the Holy Spirit makes intercession for him according to the will of God (Romans 8:26, 27).

God’s will always must have priority over the believer’s plans or desires. The words of James should be kept constantly in view: “Ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:15).

Getting what the believer wants is not as simple as repeating a positive confession. Pleasant things might be out of the will of God; and, conversely, unpleasant things might be in the will of God. It is important for the believer to say as Paul’s friends did, “The will of the Lord be done” (Acts 21:14)–more important than to demand a life free from suffering.

Believers Should Recognize the Importance of Importunate Prayer.

When the positive confession view teaches that believers are to confess rather than to pray for things which God has promised, it overlooks the teaching of God’s Word concerning importunate prayer. According to some who hold this view of positive confession, God’s promises are in the area of material, physical, and spiritual blessings; believers are to claim or confess these blessings and not to pray for them.

The instruction not to pray for promised blessings is contrary to the teaching of God’s Word. Food is one of God’s promised blessings, yet Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Wisdom is a promised blessing of God, yet Scripture states, if any man “lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not” (James 1:5). Jesus called the Holy Spirit the promise of the Father (Luke 24:49), and yet He also taught that God would give the Holy Spirit to them that ask (Luke 11:13).

While there were times God told people not to pray, as in the case of Moses at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15), there are many Scriptures reminding believers to pray, and that, without ceasing (Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Jesus emphasized the importance of importunity in prayer. The illustration of the persistent friend who came at midnight asking for bread to set before his guests became the basis for Christ’s statement, “Ask, and it shall be given you” (Luke 11:5-10). The parable of the widow and the unjust judge became the occasion for our Lord to emphasize importunity in prayer (Luke 18:1-8). These people were commended for importunity and not for prayerless positive confession.

While God’s ways are above man’s ways, and we cannot understand the reason for every command in Scripture, we do know that in His wisdom God has ordained prayer as part of the process included in meeting a need. Rather than an indication of doubt, importunate prayer can be an indication of obedience and faith.

Believers Should Recognize They Can Expect Suffering in This Life.

The positive confession teaching advocates reigning as kings in this life. It teaches that believers are to dominate and not be dominated by circumstances. Poverty and sickness are usually mentioned among the circumstances over which believers are to have dominion.

If believers choose the kings of this world as models, it is true they will seek the trouble-free life (although even kings of this world are not free from problems). They will be more concerned with physical and material prosperity than with spiritual growth.

When believers choose the King of kings as their model, however, their desires will be completely different. They will be transformed by His teaching and example. They will recognize the truth of Romans 8:17 which is written concerning joint-heirs with Christ: “If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Paul even went so far as to glory in his infirmities instead of denying them (2 Corinthians 12:5-10).

Though Christ was rich, for our sakes He became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9). He could say, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).

While God in His providence has endowed some with the ability to accumulate greater wealth than others, something is tragically lacking if there is not a willingness to do the will of God and surrender all, if need be, including creature comforts.

Jesus never ceased to be God, and through the power of the Holy Spirit performed many miracles; yet He was not free from suffering. He knew He must suffer many things of the elders (Matthew 16:21; 17:12). He desired to eat the Passover with the disciples before He suffered (Luke 22:15). After His death, the disciples recognized that Christ’s suffering was a fulfillment of prophecy (Luke 24:25, 26, 32).

When believers realize that reigning as kings in this life is to take Christ as the model of a king, they will recognize suffering can be involved; that sometimes it is more kingly to stay with unpleasant circumstances than to try to make all circumstances pleasant.

Paul had been shown he would suffer (Acts 9:16). Later he rejoiced in his sufferings for the Colossians. He saw his suffering as filling up “that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).

God promises to supply the needs of believers, and He knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation; but reigning in life as Christ did may also include suffering. The committed believer will accept this. He will not be disillusioned if life is not a continual series of pleasant experiences. He will not become cynical if he does not have all the desires of his heart.

He will recognize the servant is not greater than his Master. To follow Christ requires denying ourselves (Luke 9:23). This includes denying our selfish desires and may include admitting our problems.

Problems are not always an indication of lack of faith. To the contrary, they can be a tribute to faith. This is the great emphasis of Hebrews 11:32-40:

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth.

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

To hold that all suffering results from negative confessions and indicates a lack of faith contradicts the Scripture. Some heroes of faith suffered greatly, some even died through faith, and they were commended for it.

Believers Should Recognize the Sovereignty of God.

The positive confession emphasis has a tendency to include statements which make it appear that man is sovereign and God is the servant. Statements are made about compelling God to act, implying He has surrendered His sovereignty; that He is no longer in a position to act according to His wisdom and purpose. Reference is made to true prosperity being the ability to use God’s ability and power to meet needs regardless of what the needs are. This puts man in the position of using God rather than man surrendering himself to be used of God.

In this view there is very little consideration given to communion with God in order to discover His will. There is very little appeal to search the Scriptures for the framework of the will of God. There is little emphasis on the kind of discussion with fellow believers which results in two or three agreeing what the will of God might be. Instead, the desire of the heart is viewed as a binding mandate on God. It is seen as constituting the authority of the believer.

It is true that Jesus said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). But Scripture also teaches that the asking must be in harmony with the will of God. “This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14, 15).

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) is still an important injunction today. God is God. He will not surrender His glory or sovereignty to anyone. No one will compel God to action.

The authority of the believer exists only in the will of God, and it is the believer’s responsibility to discover and conform to the will of the sovereign God even in the things he desires. Paul’s words are still applicable: “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

When believers recognize the sovereignty of God and properly become concerned with the will of God, they will not talk in terms of compelling God or using God’s power. They will speak of becoming obedient servants. They will desire to become yielded instruments in the hands of God.

Believers Should Apply the Practical Test.

In reviewing the efforts of those who advocate this positive confession teaching it is evident that the basic appeal is to those who are already Christians living in an affluent society. They encourage a spiritual elitism in which adherents say, “We believe the same things you do. The difference is that we practice what we believe.”

A practical test of a belief is whether it has a universal application. Does the teaching have meaning only for those living in an affluent society? Or does it also work among the refugees of the world? What application does the teaching have for believers imprisoned for their faith by atheistic governments? Are those believers substandard who suffer martyrdom or grave physical injury at the hands of cruel, ruthless dictators?

The truth of God’s Word has a universal application. It is as effective in the slums as in suburbia. It is as effective in the jungle as in the city. It is as effective in foreign countries as in our own nation. It is as effective among deprived nations as among the affluent. The test of fruit is still one way of determining whether a teacher or teaching is of God or of man. “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20).

Believers Should Accurately Deal With the Word Rhema.

Because there is very little literature among those who espouse the positive confession teaching concerning the Greek word rhema, it is necessary to consider it as used primarily in oral communication.

A distinction is generally made by proponents of this view between the words logos and rhema. The first, it is claimed, refers to the written word. The second, to that which is presently spoken by faith. According to this view whatever is spoken by faith becomes inspired and takes on the creative power of God.

There are two major problems with this distinction. First, the distinction is not justified by usage either in the Greek New Testament or in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament). The words are used synonymously in both.

In the case of the Septuagint both rhema and logos are used to translate the one Hebrew word dabar which is used in various ways relative to communication. For instance, the word dabar (translated, word of God) is used in both Jeremiah 1:1 and 2. Yet in the Septuagint it is translated rhema in verse 1 and logos in verse 2.

In the New Testament the words rhema and logos are also used interchangeably. This can be seen in passages such as 1 Peter 1:23 and 25. In verse 23, it is “the logos of God which . . . abideth for ever.” In verse 25, “the rhema of the Lord endureth for ever.” Again in Ephesians 5:26 believers are cleansed “with the washing of water by the rhema.” In John 15:3 believers are “clean through the logos.”

The distinctions between logos and rhema cannot be sustained by Biblical evidence. The Word of God, whether referred to as logos or rhema, is inspired, eternal, dynamic, and miraculous. Whether the Word is written or spoken does not alter its essential character. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

A second problem also exists among those who make a distinction between the words logos and rhema. Passages of Scripture are sometimes selected without regard to context or analogy of faith which they claim to speak by faith. In this kind of application of the so-called rhema principle, adherents are more concerned with making the Word mean what they want it to mean than in becoming what the Word wants them to become. In some instances it becomes obvious they love God more for what He does than for who He is.

It is important for believers to avoid any form of Christian existentialism which isolates passages of Scripture from the context or makes some passages eternal and others contemporary.

Conclusion

In considering any doctrine it is always necessary to ask whether it is in harmony with the total teaching of Scripture. Doctrine based on less than a holistic view of Biblical truth can only do harm to the cause of Christ. It can often be more detrimental than views which reject Scripture altogether. Some people will more likely accept something as truth if it is referred to in the Word of God, even if the teaching is an extreme emphasis or contradicts other principles of Scripture.

God’s Word does teach great truths such as healing, provision for need, faith, and the authority of believers. The Bible does teach that a disciplined mind is an important factor in victorious living. But these truths must always be considered in the framework of the total teaching of Scripture.

When abuses occur, there is sometimes a temptation to draw back from these great truths of God’s Word. In some cases people even lose out with God altogether when they discover that exaggerated emphases do not always meet their expectations or result in freedom from problems.

The fact that doctrinal aberrations develop, however, is not a reason for rejecting or remaining silent concerning them. The existence of differences of opinion is all the more reason why believers should continue diligently to search the Scriptures. It is why servants of God must faithfully declare the whole counsel of God.

http://ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_4183_confession.cfm

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