Category Archives: #WEALTH
After the recent expositions about some church leaders, it has become clear that Pastoral work and Christianity as a whole is a huge pillar to Uganda’s economy. Just as a form of encouraging economic development, John K. Abimanyi gives a few guidelines to follow if any one is interested in starting, maintaining and prospering a church
Start from scratch
Do not wait to build a 10,000-seater auditorium to begin a church. The back yard garage at home can do for starters. If you follow the instructions below to the dot, you will upgrade to a palace church in no time.
Above all, make it clear from the start that the only way to get a thing from God is by constant, sincere, and faithful tithing and sowing. The flock should know that God knows exactly how much they earn and will punish them when they give him less than a tenth. Preach about getting rich and prospering.
Do not talk about sin and hell because people do not like being blamed for the slightest sin they commit; rather, they want to listen to the promises of prosperity that God has for them.
You need a loud, sharp and hoarse voice. 21 century church is not conducted in whispers. Thus, you should be able to scream the lungs out to the masses all sermon long. It shows that you are an authority on what you are preaching. You should also be able to quote a few Bible verses off the cuff without turning the pages of the bible.
Regular concertsOrganise regular music and dance extravaganzas facilitated by dynamic bass boost sound systems. It is the only way to attract this day’s youth to your church. You can also include youth conferences where you talk about sex, abstinence, marriage, and relationships from as many perspectives as you can create.
They love hearing such talk and will never get tired of it. You would also love to have a mass choir, probably run by your wife or daughter, where the boys and girls meet to socialise during the practice. This will keep the youth satisfied and once you have today’s youth, you have tomorrow’s leaders.
Unique personalityHave a unique personality. You ought to have a few vices that you were saved from. Occasionally, remind your church that you were once a murderer, or a thief but you were saved and are now cleansed. The flock will easily associate with you because you have been where they are.
Drive high powered SUVs with personalised plates. You would particularly want to drive a Humvee. This would show that you are a General in God’s army. It helps to spread the word and show how God has blessed you. You do not need to be a good man to be a pastor. Do not let your promiscuity, witchcraft, lust, and theft stop you from serving.
The parking yard
After getting the church venue, gather up a few cars to park around your church on Sunday morning while you conduct your service. People feel secure going to a church that is attended by trendy looking people. All those that do not have cars, and they are really many, will have hope that within three months of attending your church, they will be driving as well.
So let them come and fill your bags with ‘seed.’ Words of caution though, do not pack Toyota Corollas a.k.a. kikumi and Toyota Coronas a.k.a. kibina at your venue because the people may think that your congregation is made up of special hire drivers only.
Gad for God
You need a good English accent. You must be able to pronounce the word ‘God’ as Garrd. That way, you give the congregation the feeling that you are learnt about the white man’s language; and that only builds their confidence in you. You should at no time refer to the Holy Spirit as that; rather, call him Holy Ghost; pronounced hurly gawst.
Hire a few people to give testimony once in while. This will send the message that things are working in your church and keep people anxious and ‘sowing.’ Do not worry about how to get the people to do this sacred job because many Ugandans would love to do such a thing. If they can sell the most private of their body parts for a couple of coins, then they can sell off their conscience for a little more than that.
People who matter
Hang around people who make things happen in your society. It helps to say words like, “while I was with the President the other day…” during your sermon. Your flock will know that they are in secure hands because you even command attention from high people. People like L.C.5 Chairperson, the President and his wife, and many of the kind. With this, you can never go wrong even if you blander with a prophecy or two.
If you are rich, this sermon is for you.
There aren’t many sermons directed at rich people, but this one is. My text is a word from the Apostle Paul to the rich Christians in the church at Ephesus. The first phrase of verse 17 makes it very clear: “Command those who are rich in this present world.” There are certain obvious implications of this statement that we should think about. First, some people will be richer than others. This fact is one that we all accept as part of reality but it may surprise you to discover that it is also mentioned in the Bible. Some people have lots of money. That’s a fact of life. And God has something to say to those people.
But who are the rich? Certainly it’s not you or me. If someone came up out of the blue and asked, “Are you rich?” what would you say? Most of us would stammer a bit and then we would deny being rich. But we would be wrong. All of us are rich, and I am not speaking about “spiritual riches” or our “riches in Christ,” as true as that is. I am speaking of old-fashioned riches, money in the bank, greenbacks, material wealth. All of us are rich. As I write these words, I am conscious that this sermon will go out around the world, but even so I am directing my remarks to the people of my own congregation in Oak Park. We’re rich. Who are we kidding? Compared with the people of Haiti, we’re incredibly wealthy. Compared with the people of Nigeria, Sudan, Bangladesh, or Thailand, we’re loaded. But that statement is true of Americans generally.
If you own your home, you’re rich.
If you own your car, you’re rich.
If you have enough food to eat, you’re rich.
If you have extra clothes in your closet, you’re rich.
If you’ve got enough money to go out to eat occasionally, you’re rich.
That includes all of us. And even though there are some people at Calvary who have very little, those people still have far more in terms of creature comforts than most people around the world.
So this is a sermon by a rich pastor to his rich congregation.
And I should add that it’s not a sermon where the message is, “It’s a sin to be rich” or “You need to get rid of all your money and become poor.” That’s another sermon (by another pastor, I should add). It’s not what our text says. The issue is not how much money you have, it’s what you do with what God has given you.
As we think about this, let’s consider three popular money myths:
Myth #1: Having more things equals more happiness.
Myth #2: Having more things equals more importance.
Myth #3: Having more things equals more security.
Happiness, importance, security. Money can do lots of things but it can’t buy happiness, it can’t make you more important, and it can’t guarantee your earthly security. That last point is critical when you consider the dangerous world in which we live. There is no lasting security anywhere in the world today. In an age of terrorism, there is no front line because we’re all living on the front lines now. Even those who serve the Lord can’t be sure of what tomorrow may bring. That fact came home to us with great force this week.
So what do you think? You’re 31-years-old, a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. You and your husband feel called of God to minister to Muslim women in Lebanon. So you join a ministry working in a refugee camp. Yes, it’s dangerous, you knew that going in, but your heart is set on caring for those women. One morning you hear a knock on the door. When you answer it, you see a man with a gun. Seconds later you are dead, shot three times in the head. Murdered by some fanatic who hates what you stand for. That’s what happened to Bonnie Witherall last week. She was gunned down while working at a missionary clinic in southern Lebanon. Her sister summed up Bonnie’s life this way: “She believed in her heart that God wanted her in that place, doing whatever he called her to do and that was basically to share her life with people. It was hard for her to walk by people who were suffering.”
There is no absolute protection from suffering in this world. Money can’t buy happiness and it can’t guarantee you a long life or good health. We are fools if we think otherwise.
Wealth is not necessarily an impediment to our walk with God. History is filled with examples of rich Christians who used their wealth wisely and brought great benefit to the world. And there is scarcely a church or ministry anywhere that has not benefited from the large gifts of wealthy believers. But if money is not an impediment, it is definitely a test. The way you spend your money tells the truth about your values. Show me how you spend your money and I’ll know the truth about what you really believe. You can come to church and dance in the aisles if you want to, but that doesn’t mean as much as how you spend your money. Not long ago a noted Christian leader told me, “Follow the money.” He’s right. If you want to know the truth, follow the money. That’s an almost infallible rule of life. Money talks, and the story it tells reveals the truth about your walk with God.
Money is not evil; it’s the love of money that gets us into trouble. A few verses before our text for today, Paul says it this way: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (I Timothy 6:10). When I read that, I say to myself, “I don’t love money,” but then I read the phrase “eager for money,” and I’m stopped in my tracks. I’m like the man who said, “If money were a woman, I wouldn’t say we were in love, but we’re definitely dating heavily.” I understand that. The odd thing is, money in the end can’t satisfy. I’ve never heard a man on his deathbed say, “Thank God for my money.” Dying men give thanks for family and friends, but a dying man doesn’t have time to worry about money. As Billy Graham says, “I’ve never seen a Brinks truck following a hearse.” When Alexander the Great died, he gave instructions that he was to be buried with his hands outside his shroud so that everyone would know that he took nothing with him. Sometimes we ask about the departed, “How much did he leave?” The answer is always the same: “All of it.”
First Timothy 6:17-19 offers three specific commands for us to consider. The first one involves our heart. The heart always comes first, the money comes later.
I. Examine Your Heart
“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (I Timothy 6:17). There are five important truths we should glean from this verse. First, some people will be rich. In particular, some Christians will be richer than others. Some will have more, others less. This means it is not a sin to be rich per se. It’s how you made your money and what you do with it that matters. Second, money has a peculiar power to make us feel insulated from the problems of life. Money makes us feel invincible. I heard a man say that while driving home from the airport, he realized that he was speeding because he was in a hurry. He said to himself, “I should slow down.” But then he said, “Why bother? I can pay the fine if I get a ticket.” I suppose all of us have had thoughts like that at one time or another. That’s the sort of arrogance Paul is warning against. We’ve all known rich people who were arrogant in the way they treated others. Money has a way of making you feel set apart so that what happens to others will never happen to you. Third, wealth truly is uncertain. You can be rich today and broke tomorrow. I wonder how many of us lost money in the stock market over the last two years? We rode that high-tech rocket all the way to the top and most of us rode it back down to the bottom. In some cases, people lost 30% or 40% or 50% or more of their investment income. People who planned to retire at age 50 will now have to work until they are 125. But that’s the nature of wealth. Just when you think you’ve got it made, your money takes wings and flies away. Fourth, putting your hope in God is a choice we all must make. It means (among other things) that you consciously decide each day that you will not trust in your money to get you through life. Perhaps it means saying, “Lord, today I trust you completely with all that I am and all that I have. I take you at your Word and no matter what happens to me, I believe in advance that you are working out your plan in my life.”
Fifth, God gives us everything we need at any given moment. That’s a startling statement if you think about it. And it’s especially appropriate on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Do we truly believe that we have everything we need at this moment in the material realm of life? If we believe in God, the answer must be yes because if we truly needed anything else, God would have already given it to us. And the fact that we don’t have everything we might wish for simply means that in the eyes of God, it’s not something we truly need. God does not withhold good things from his children. “No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11 NASB). “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:11 NLT). I realize as I write these words that someone may read them who is living every day with a serious illness or a debilitating physical handicap. How can we speak of God’s goodness in situations like that? Perhaps the only possible answer is to ask in return, How can we not speak of God’s goodness in those situations? The Apostle Paul added a helpful insight when he remarked that in every situation he had “learned” to be content (Philippians 4:11). I find great comfort in that because it means on one hand that it is possible to be content no matter where I might find myself. It also means that contentment does not come easily in every circumstance but must be learned over time as we discover God’s grace in the most unlikely places. So I think we can say—indeed, I think we must say—that at every moment along the way, God gives us whatever we need for that particular moment. And if we truly need something else tomorrow that we don’t have today, we can rest assured that somehow, someway, at some point in time, our Heavenly Father will see to it that what we need will be given to us.
In the larger context this means that generosity depends on good theology. We will be generous precisely to the extent that we have a proper view of God and his involvement in our daily life. If we separate God from life, then we’ll feel obligated to hoard our wealth because we’re in charge of everything. But if we understand that he is the Lord of all of life, including the tiniest details, then we are free from the need to trust in our wealth. We can give it away, knowing that we’ll have everything we need when we really need it. A proper view of God leads to a generous view of life, which is why giving (in the broadest sense) ought to be as natural for the Christian as breathing.
II. Consider Your Actions
“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (I Timothy 6:18). Once you have looked at your heart (and in particular what you believe as the foundation for everything you do), then it’s time to consider your actions. Three things are mentioned in this verse: Doing good, being rich in good deeds, and a generous spirit that gladly shares with others. All three are really one and the same thing. Or you could say that doing good is general, being rich in good deeds is more specific, and being generous and willing to share is a pointed application. Note that these commands rise beyond the level of what you do with your money. They touch the deeper issue of how you spend your time. This is a word we need to hear because for many people, time has become more important than money. Time has become so precious to many of us that we would rather give $100 to a charity if we can avoid going to a banquet. Or we will write a check as a way to avoid getting personally involved. We have Day-Timers and calendars and Palm Pilots and all sorts of electronic gizmos to help us save time and manage life effectively. As a result, we are in danger of losing any personal contact with a hurting world. The answer to that is found in this verse: Be generous in the way you spend your time. Get involved with others. Go face to face with a couple in crisis. Spend an extra ten minutes talking to a friend who is searching for the Lord. Think of ways you can make a difference in a child’s life this week. Are you bothered by too many interruptions during the day? Perhaps those interruptions are sent by the Lord to keep you from making your job the focus of your life. What a difference it would make if we thought of each interruption as being sent by the Lord. How would you respond if Jesus wanted to interrupt your life today? Would you have time to talk to him? Would you put him on hold? Would you say, “Sorry, Lord, I love you but I’m tied up right now?” If we could take that perspective regarding all our “ordinary” interruptions, it would drain the irritation we feel when “our” plans are interrupted by someone else. Didn’t Jesus say something about visiting him in prison, giving him clothes to wear, and giving him food to eat? See Matthew 25:31-45 and ponder the implications of his words.
III. Enjoy Your Reward
“In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (I Timothy 6:19). Here’s a promise for all of us to embrace, but it has special relevance to the rich. You might call this Jesus’ Investment Advice. First, generous living leads to an enhanced life in heaven. When we dare to take these words seriously, we are laying a foundation for the future that will last for all eternity. To “lay up treasure” means to live in such a way now that our future experience in heaven is enriched. We all understand the concept of investing for the future. Probably most of the people reading this sermon have made some plans for the future. You’re saving for college or for a new car or for a new home or you are putting money into a pension plan or a retirement fund. If you are planning for your retirement, that means the money you invest now won’t be yours to enjoy until many years in the future. But you do it now so that when your retirement comes, there will be sufficient funds available so you can do whatever you want to do. The same is true in our Christian life. As we live a generous life toward others, we are making payments into our heavenly retirement account. But this verse is not just about the distant future, it also promises “life that is truly life.” True life. Real life. Abundant life. Life that goes beyond mere existence. Life as God intended it to be. Paul means that generous Christians discover a quality of life that stingy Christians never know. Those who dare to become generous givers end up enjoying life on a level that those who hoard their wealth never experience.
The happiest people on earth are those who have learned the joy of generous living. They give and give and give. They give their time, their money, their advice, their counsel, their talents and their commitment. They are not content to be spectators while life rushes by. They get off the bench and get into the game. And they truly enjoy giving to others. They have learned the secret that you can’t out-give God. As my friend Howard Harvey likes to say, “I shovel it out and God shovels it in. And God’s got a bigger shovel than I do.” Maxey Jarman was a wealthy Christian businessman who during his lifetime gave away millions of dollars to Christian causes around the world. At one point he suffered an enormous financial reversal and lost everything. A friend asked him if he regretted having given so much away. “Oh no,” he replied, “I only lost what I kept for myself.”
What we keep, we lose because we won’t live forever. What we give away, we keep because the benefits of giving last for eternity.
The year was 1939 or 1940 and a young woman came to Chicago to study at Moody Bible Institute. While she was a student, she began attending a small church in suburban Oak Park. Back then it was called Madison Street Bible Church, today it is called Calvary Memorial Church. She attended this congregation and taught Sunday School during her Moody years. When she graduated in 1945, she felt called by God to become a missionary in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky, working with the Scripture Memory Mountain Mission. Then and now, the Appalachian region was one of the poorest regions in America. It was not an easy place for a single woman to serve the Lord. Before she left Chicago, someone gave her a car, an old jalopy with so many holes in the roof that she had to use an umbrella inside the car when it rained. One of our Sunday School classes pledged $20 per month for her support. Armed with the old car, the $20 per month pledge and her faith in God, she moved to the mountains of Kentucky to begin her ministry. Back then the road system was primitive, which meant that sometimes she and her co-workers had to ride horses up into the mountains to teach children the Word of God. In 1951 she and a co-worker were asked to consider going to a remote community called Rock Fork where there was no church and no organized Christian work. She and her co-worker agreed to go. Eventually they got a vacation Bible school started that continued for a number of years. Later they managed to start a small Sunday School that met in a home. It attracted a handful of children along with a few adults. Some years later they began holding worship services on an occasional basis. They didn’t do it every Sunday and they never formally organized as a church. But eventually they erected a church building made from a doublewide mobile home on a tiny piece of property. By the 1990s they were holding services there and calling themselves the Rock Fork Bible Fellowship. If they didn’t have a preacher scheduled, Miss Eva told me they would often play one of my sermon tapes and use it as the message of the morning.
I should pause and add that Miss Eva (which is how the Kentucky folks refer to her) has been serving as a missionary for 57 years and our church has supported her all that time.
After 50 Years—A Church is Born
During a week of ministry a few years ago at Camp Nathanael (owned by the mission agency), Miss Eva asked if I would stay over and preach at Rock Fork. I recall that we had about 45 people in attendance that morning and I preached my heart out, we had a wonderful time, and I also remember that when I stood on the platform, my head nearly brushed against the ceiling. Later we had dinner on the grounds, which was wonderful because those country folks really know how to prepare a meal. Last July I was preaching again at Camp Nathanael when Miss Eva said she wanted to show us the new church building at Rock Fork. So Marlene and I and Miss Eva and Donnie Sloan drove way out in the country (we were already in the country but this was about ten miles further east) to see the partly-finished building. Even though there was much work to be done, I could tell it was going to be beautiful. Miss Eva’s eyes sparkled with joy as she told us the story of how she and her co-worker had started the first vacation Bible school a half-century earlier. And now, at last, after so many years and so many prayers, a church was about to be born. When she asked if I would come back and preach for the dedication of the new building, I told her I would be glad to do it. Then she said that she knew she wouldn’t live a lot longer and she had asked the Lord to let her live long enough to see the new church building dedicated and the church formally organized. “I’ve got more friends in heaven than I do on earth but I want to stay here a little while longer if the Lord will let me,” she said. That’s when I realized that this church building represented the culmination of her life’s work, the result of 50 years of labor to bring the Word of the Lord to a small Kentucky settlement.
We dedicated the new building on Saturday, November 23. Because I had an engagement I had to attend in Oak Park, I couldn’t leave until 10:30 p.m. on Friday night. With the help of two of my sons, Nick and Mark, we drove through the night, arriving in southeastern Kentucky about 8:00 a.m. Saturday. We ate breakfast, showered, changed clothes, and then headed for the dedication service, which started at 11:00 a.m. I would estimate that 60-70 people attended the two-hour service. Joy and tears mingled together as the people reflected on God’s faithfulness. An attendance board reported that the Sunday before the attendance had been 41, the week before that 27, and that the weekly offering had been $190. Speaker after speaker told stories of how God answered prayer over the years. And of course we had dinner on the grounds and ate like kings. Then my boys and I got in the car and headed back home. We traveled 1,000 miles in 22 hours, including six hours we spent at the church—now called Rock Fork Bible Church.
I tell that story for two reasons. First, because Calvary has been supporting Miss Eva’s ministry for 57 years. We rejoice with her in this significant accomplishment. Second, because this story allows us to reflect on the values of the kingdom of God. Some people may wonder about the 50 years spent and a church with only 40 or 50 people attending. But God’s economy is quite different from ours. The One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills is not impressed by numbers. The Lord of the universe is not more glorified by 10,000 than by 50. He can deliver by much or by little. A thousand years is but a day in his sight. If you asked Miss Eva, “Was it worth it?” she would certainly say, “It was worth it and I would gladly do it again.” She invested her life in building God’s kingdom and the results are in full view for all to see.
The Richest People I Know
As I ponder the matter, I realize that the richest people I’ve met recently are the good folks at Rock Fork Bible Church. And the richest person I’ve met recently is Miss Eva Lodgaard. Personally I hope she’s around for many more years, but when the Lord takes her home, I know the words she will hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord.” She gave herself completely to the people of southeastern Kentucky. In a ministry that now stretches into its seventh decade, she has been rich in good deeds, generous and willing to share with others. There is laid up for her a firm foundation for the future. Heaven will be bright for her. And she has discovered the life that is truly life.
Now the challenge is to you and to me. We are so rich—and I mean that literally. We have been given so much. Compared to the rest of the world, we’re at the top of the heap. I do not think we need to feel guilty about that, but we ought to feel a sense of profound obligation. God never wastes his blessings and he doesn’t pour them out so that we can use them on ourselves. Blessings are meant to be shared. Money is for giving away. Material wealth is given so that we can bless others as God has blessed us.
If you are in the grip of materialism, what do you do? The oldest answer is the best. The best way to break the stranglehold of money is to give it away. That’s right. Just give it away. If your bicycle has been a snare to you, give it away. If that new boat is a problem, give it away. If your clothes have become an obsession, give all the new stuff away. If your home has become an idol, give it away. That’s right. Just give it away. If you worry too much about your investments, start giving that money away to the Lord’s work. Find some worthy cause and invest in it. Find a need and meet it. Find a hurt and heal it. Take your nickels and your dimes and then take your hundred-dollar bills and invest them for Christ and his kingdom. It doesn’t need to be something big and flashy. And the world doesn’t need to know what you’ve done. As you give to help others, you will help yourself, and in the process the stranglehold of money will be broken in your heart. That’s a win-win solution. Help others, help yourself. Bless others and you will be blessed along the way.
One of these days we will all stand before the Lord. The danger we face is that we will hear the Lord say, “You fool! You spent your life building a fortune but were not generous toward the Lord or his people.” (See Luke 12:13-21.) The Lord will not ask how much money we had at the end of our life and he won’t ask what rate of return we got from our mutual fund investments. But he will certainly ask, “What did you do with what I gave you? Did you use it all for your own enjoyment? Or did you use your money for the sake of my kingdom?”
What you keep for yourself, you eventually lose. What you give away, you gain eternally. So may God cause us—the richest people in the world—to become generous givers and so enter into the blessing that comes to those who aren’t afraid to take God at his Word. Amen.
Tonight we want to go back to our study of the contemporary charismatic movement; this movement has many fascinations, many unique things. While you’re kind of getting your mind geared, Phil Johnson was just telling me, Phil is Executive Director Grace to You, and he said the other day a lady called the 800 line and she had good news for us. She said that she was given permission by Robert Tilton, Robert Tilton is one of the leading charismatic television personalities, she was given permission by Robert Tilton to tell everyone that it was revealed to him that Jesus is coming November 15 and that she is leaving her entire estate to Grace to You.
Can you grasp the implications of that? For those of you who are struggling, it seems to say we’ll be here after He comes and goes. I don’t think she’s fully thought it through; I’ll put it that way.
Now turning back to our discussion of the health and wealth gospel, we started last time to talk about the cargo cults in the South Pacific, and where there are still Aboriginal people who worship the cargo gods, they developed a religion, because during World War II so many big airplanes landed on their islands, they were the first exposure they ever had to modern technology and they thought they were gods who were flying in and delivering all of this cargo and they developed religions out of this, and today they have little temples made out of bamboo and other kinds of woven material. Temples that look like control towers, cargo planes and airplane hangars and they worship the cargo gods.
A materialistic kind of religion; they want the cargo gods to come back and deliver them some more Zippo lighters and radios and nuts and bolts and tools, and all the things that were landing there in Word War II. I suggested to you that the modern health wealth gospel is nothing but another kind of a cargo cult where people are looking for a god who delivers all the goodies that they want. That the essence of the cargo cult was that God is there to provide what we want, the essence of the health wealth gospel is the same, that God is there to provide what we want and frankly what we demand.
I suggested to you last time that all of the elements that are common to the cults exist within the prosperity movement or the health wealth movement, a distorted Christology, an exalted view of man, an erroneous view of God, a theology based on human works, a belief that new revelation is coming and unlocking secrets that have been hidden for years, extra biblical human writings that they deem inspired and authoritative, all of those are typically cultic features.
Now I said that we were going to look at some of the aspects of the health wealth gospel and look at some of the theological keys to understanding them. Last time we discussed the fact that they have the wrong god. They do not understand that God is sovereign, they do not understand that God is able to act independently, they believe man is sovereign, God has given over sovereignty to man, and now God is at the mercy of man and if He’s going to do anything we have to release him to do it. Man is sovereign, God has been deposed and man has been put in his place. He is dependent on human faith. He is dependent, most of all, on human words. In fact they go so far as to say, we are little gods and since we are little gods, God has delegated Divine authority to us and just like God spoke and things were created, we now speak and they are created as well. So we have creative power with our words because we are in fact sovereign little gods and God has delegated sovereignty to us.
We talked about the fact that since they have this view of God there is really no need to pray to God. In fact, they say it would be better off to talk to your disease or talk to your wallet then to talk to God because you can speak into existence anything you want with the creative power that you have a reproduction of God Himself. Thus, they have pulled God down and they have elevated man, and we won’t go over that in detail anymore then just to review that briefly.
Now secondly, not only do these health wealth preachers and this movement have the wrong god, but they have wrong Jesus and I want you to listen very carefully to this because it is so important. The Jesus of the word faith, the positive confession, the health wealth movement is not the Jesus of the Bible, the New Testament. Word faith teachers say, “Jesus gave up His deity and took on Satan’s nature in order to die for our sins.” Let me say that again, they say that “Jesus gave up His deity and took on Satan’s nature in order to die for our sins.”
Kenneth Copeland, who is a worldwide proponent of this, defends his infamous prophecy that called doubt on the deity of Christ by saying, “Why didn’t Jesus openly proclaim Himself as God during His 33 years on earth?” For one single reason, “He hadn’t come to earth as God, He’d come as man.”
He seems to be saying that Jesus came only as man and not as God. The word faith Jesus often sounds like nothing more then some kind of divinely empowered man. Further quoting from Kenneth Copeland, “Most Christians mistakenly believe that Jesus was able to work wonders, to perform miracles, and to live above sin because He had Divine power that we don’t have. Thus, they’ve never really aspired to live like He lived. They don’t realize that when Jesus came to earth He voluntarily gave up that advantage, living His life here, not as God but as a man. He had no innate supernatural powers, He had no ability to perform miracles until after He was anointed by the Holy Spirit as recorded in Luke 3:22,” that would be at his baptism. “He ministered as a man anointed by the Holy Spirit.”
These statements tell us that Jesus is divested of His deity. Evidently, it matters little to this system whether Jesus was God or man. Further Kenneth Copeland writes, “The spirit of God spoke to me and He said, ‘He said a born again man defeated Satan, the first born of many brethren defeated Him, He said you are the very image and the very copy of that one.'” I said, goodness, gracious sakes alive.
I began to see what had gone on in there and I said, well now you don’t mean, you couldn’t dare mean that I could have done the same thing? God said, “Oh yeah, if you’d known that, had the knowledge of the Word of God that he did you could have done the same thing because you’re a reborn man too.” Then God said, “The same power that I used to raise Him from the dead I used to raise you from your death and trespasses and sins.” I had to have that copy and that pattern to establish judgment on Satan so that I could recreate a child, and a family, and a whole new race of mankind. Then God said, “You are in His likeness.”
Now this is simply saying, to sum it up, Jesus came into the world not as God but as a man. As a man he died and than as a reborn man he lived, and in fact, he wasn’t any different then Kenneth Copeland or a lot of other people. That utterance is obviously blasphemous. It is astonishing to me that anyone with the barest knowledge of Biblical truth could accept it as true revelation, but judging from the response to Copeland’s ministry and many others who teach the same thing, hundreds of thousands of people believe this.
They are divesting Jesus of His identity. He is the God man and to say that He is anything less then the God man is heresy. Again, I mark for you, note carefully that in cults it is typical to have an aberrant view of Christ. The word faith movement also moves on to talk about His atonement in terms that are utterly unfamiliar to orthodoxy. His sacrificial death on the cross was the primary work our Lord came on earth to accomplish. The atonement is the major emphasis of the whole New Testament and is central to everything we believe and everything we teach as Christians, yet the word faith movement teaches things about the work of Christ that are absolutely aberrant to the point of blasphemy.
Copeland says, “Jesus was the first man to ever be born from sin to righteousness. He was the pattern of a new race of men to come, Glory to God. You know what he did? The very first thing that this reborn man did, see you have to realize that he died, you have to realize that he went into the pit of hell as a mortal man made sin, but he didn’t stay there. Thank God he was reborn in the pit of hell.”
Further he says, “The righteousness of God was made to be sin. He accepted the sin nature of Satan in His own spirit and at the moment that He did so he cried, ‘My God, My God why has thou forsaken me?’ You don’t know what happened at the cross, why do you think Moses, upon the instruction of God raised a serpent up on that pole instead of a lamb? That used to bug me.
“I said, ‘Why in the world have you got to put that snake up there, the sign of Satan, why didn’t you put a lamb on that pole?’ The Lord said, ‘Because it was the sign of Satan that was hanging on the cross.’ He said, ‘I accepted in My own spirit, spiritual death,’ and the light was turned off.”
Later in that same message Copeland adds, “The spirit of Jesus accepting that sin and making it to be sin, He separated from His God and in that moment He is a mortal man, capable of failure, capable of death. Not only that he’s fixing to be ushered into the jaws of hell, and if Satan is capable of overpowering Him there he’ll win the universe and mankind is doomed. Don’t get the idea that Jesus was incapable of failure, because if He had been it would have been illegal.”
What in the world kind of double talk is this? The idea that Jesus is man taking on the nature of Satan, going to hell because He’s thrown into the pit of hell as a sinner, waiting to be reborn an entering into some kind of mortal combat with Satan and the winner gets the universe, all of that is absolutely foreign to what the New Testament teaches about the atoning work of the God man. In fact, Copeland has embraced a heresy known as the ransom theory of the atonement also, that is an old heresy that basically said God has been held up by Satan and until somebody pays Satan a ransom he is not going to let Jesus go, so God was stuck and he had to pay the ransom price for salvation to Satan. Christ’s death was that ransom paid to Satan to settle the legal claim the devil had on the human race because of Adam’s sin. That view, by the way, contradicts the clear teaching that Christ’s death was a sacrifice offered to God not to Satan, read Ephesians 5:2.
Furthermore, Copeland and the word faith teachers move outside of orthodoxy and teach that Christ died spiritually. Now we sometimes say that Christ was separated from the Father on the cross and sometimes we say that as a kind of spiritual death, but the reality of it is that Christ did not die spiritually in the sense that His Divine spirit went out of existence. It is error to teach that Christ’s spirit ceased to exist, the light was turned off, He called it. Or that He was somehow separated from God and became in an instant a mortal man and worse took on the nature of Satan, was dragged into hell and tormented for three days and three nights.
Fred Price, who follows up the same kind teaching in a news letter, wrote this, “Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case the two thieves could have paid your price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God. Satan and all the demons of hell thought that they had Him bound and they threw a net over Jesus and they dragged Him down to the very pit of hell itself to serve our sentence,” end quote.
Two thieves could have paid that price? Could a zillion thieves on a zillion crosses have paid the price of our sin? Obviously not; Jesus deity and His sinlessness, as the only qualified Lamb of God made Him the only person who could have suffered for our sins. To say it could have been anybody is absolutely ridiculous. You were redeemed with not perishable things, not like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood as of a lamb without blemish and spot, the Lamb Christ, the blood His blood.
They’re confused about who Christ is. They don’t know whether He’s God or whether He’s man and they’re confused about what happened on the cross, the meaning of the atonement. Copeland also preaches an aberrant view similar to that, I noted from Fred Price quoting Copeland, “Jesus had to go through that same spiritual death in order to pay the price. Now it wasn’t the physical death on the cross that paid the price for sins because if it had been any Prophet of God that had died for the last couple of thousand years before that could have paid the price.” It wasn’t the physical death, anybody could do that. What they’re teaching is that Jesus’ death on the cross didn’t save us, what happened was He went into hell and that’s where He won our salvation but that is not what the Scripture says and that’s not what Jesus meant when he said, “It is,” what? “Finished.”
Now behind these very popular teachings of these two men is the teaching of Kenneth Hagan. Kenneth Hagan says, “Jesus tasted death, spiritual death for every man. See, sin is more then a physical act it’s a spiritual act and so he became what we were that we might become what He is, praise God, and so therefore His spirit was separated from God. Why did he need to begotten or born? Because He became like we were, separated from God, because he tasted spiritual death for every man and His spirit in every man went to hell in my place, can’t you see that? Physical death wouldn’t remove your sins. He tasted death for every man; he’s talking about tasting spiritual death. Jesus is the first person that was ever born again. Why did His spirit need to be born again? Because it was estranged from God.”
He has Jesus in a prolonged condition of ceasing to be God and being man alienated from God in hell, trying to get his act together in order that he can be reborn. The word faith movement has concocted this strange theology that makes sinners God’s and makes the sinless Son of God into a sinner. Such teaching is utterly unbiblical, it demeans our Lord, it demeans His work, as it is obvious to anyone.
Furthermore, the atonement did not take plac e in hell; it was completed on the cross when Jesus said, “It is finished,” recorded in John 19:30. 1 Peter 2:24 says, “That Christ bore our sins in His body on the cross,” not in hell. Colossians 2:13-14 says, “He cancelled the debt of our sin and He has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross.” Ephesians 1:7 says, “We have redemption through His blood.” Blood here refers to His physical death, the actual shedding of His blood on the cross and there is our forgiveness.
Jesus promised to repentant thief, “Today you’ll be with Me.” Where? Paradise. He wasn’t in hell for three days. He served notice to hell that the powers of evil were defeated. The Bible knows nothing of the kind of atonement that exists in this word faith teaching. The Bible knows nothing about the kind of Jesus they’re talking about either. They have the wrong god and the wrong Jesus. Thirdly, they have the wrong faith, they have the wrong faith.
This is a fascinating and very central part of their system. Let me help you to understand this. They teach that faith is some kind of law, some kind of inviolable, immutable, unchanging, impersonal law that it’s like gravity. That anybody who gets involved with it gets the same results. I mean you could take ten people up to the top of a building and you could have three of them that understood the law of gravity, three of them that knew nothing of the law of gravity, and three of them that didn’t believe the law of gravity exists, and one person who was deaf, dumb and blind, and didn’t know anything. If they all jumped they’d all go down; why? Because the law of gravity works no matter what you believe. The law of gravity is fixed. It’s not a question of faith; it’s not a question of anything. You jump it you go down.
They take that same concept, like the law of gravity and move it into the spiritual dimension and say faith is like that. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you just enact the law of faith it’ll work. Pat Robertson, for example, was asked if the laws of the kingdom work even for non-Christians. This is what he wrote in his book called, “Answers to 200 of Life’s Most Probing Questions,” he wrote, “Yes, these are not just Christian and Jewish principles any more then the law of gravity is Christian and Jewish.”
The laws of God work for anybody who will follow them. The principles of the Kingdom apply to all of creation. What the law of faith is all about is if you believe you can have something, you’ll get it. If you believe you’re going to get well, you’ll get well. If you believe you’re going to get money, you’ll get money. If you believe you’re going to get married, you’ll married because you’re enacting a law and it’s an immutable, inviolable law that works for anybody anytime, it’s impersonal, it’s fixed.
What the error of this is, simply stated, is that this puts confidence in the nature of faith rather then in the object of faith. It assumes that there’s something inherent in believing that enacts something when it isn’t true at all. It is the not the nature of faith that is effective, it is the object of faith. It is my faith in God that gets results not my faith in faith.
There used to be a song when I was kid and it was as pretty popular one, I Believe, do you remember that song? I believe for every drop of rain that falls a flower grows, and it went on, I believe, I believe and that was the whole sentence, I believe and you kept wanting to say you believe what? You believe whom? You believe how? No, I believe; and sometimes you’ll hear people, secular people interviewed, and they’d say well I’m a person with real faith.
I’m really a believing person. Oh good, well what do you believe? Oh I just believe in believing, good. You see, this is the same kind of secular concept taken over into this movement that says, if you apply the law of faith, if you just sort of screw up your faith and say, I believe you’ll make it materialize. If you can just eliminate doubt and eliminate all negative thought and just thing super positive and really believe hard, I don’t know how hard you have to believe, but harder then most people are able to believe obviously. There are some people who get rich in this movement and you know who they are. Most of the people stay right where they are just as poor and unhealthy as they were before they learned this stuff.
Faith, according to word faith doctrine is not submissive trust in God. It is not belief in revealed revelation in the Scripture, faith is a formula by which you manipulate the universe, by which you manipulate things. Capps, Charles Capps says, “Words governed by spiritual law becomes spiritual forces working for you.” Idle words work against you, the spirit world is controlled by the Word of God. The natural world is to be controlled by man speaking God’s words. So if you just believe and say it with your mouth you’ll make it happen, that’s your creative power again. As the name word faith implies, this movement teaches that faith is a matter of what we say more then in whom we trust, or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts.
A favorite expression in the word faith movement is positive confession, have you heard that? Positive confession; it refers to the word faith teaching that your words will create, they have creative power. They say what you say you create, so if you believe it strongly enough to speak it you’ll create it, you’ll create your riches, you’ll create your health, you’ll get out of your wheelchair, it determines everything that happens to you they say.
Your confessions based upon your faith in faith will bring things to pass. And God has to act because it’s a law whether you’re Christian, Jewish, or non-Christian it’s going to work. Kenneth Hagan writes, “You can have what you say, you can write your own ticket with God, and the first step in writing your own ticket with God is say it, say it.” And what they’re trying to do is get you to say it, and say it, and say it, and say it until you finally convince yourself you believe it; and then supposedly once your saying it becomes believing it you will create it.
He later says, does Kenneth Hagan, “If you talk about your trials, your difficulties, your lack of faith, your lack of money, your faith will shrivel 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.”So you just have to talk about it, talk about it.
In his little booklet called, How to Write Your Own Ticket with God, Hagan’s supposedly inspired four point sermon is say it, do it, receive it, and tell it. Hagan claims Jesus told him if anybody anywhere will take these steps or put these four principles into operation he will always have whatever he wants from Me or the God the Father; write your own ticket. The idea of course has bred superstition, terrible disappointment, tragic things.
Magical incantations is all they are, it’s a form of voodoo, it has no value beyond that. Charles Capps warns against the dangers of speaking negative confession. He says, “We’ve programmed our vocabulary with the devil’s language. We’ve brought sickness sand disease into our vocabulary and even death, the main words so many people use to express themselves is death. The word death–‘I’m just dying to do that. They’ll say I’m going to die if I don’t. That just tickled me to death.—now that my friend is perverse speech, that’s contrary to God’s word. Death is of the devil, we need not buddy up with death, all men are going to die soon enough, so don’t start buddying up to it now.” In other words, you don’t want to say those words because it might happen, that’s how powerful you are. You could kill yourselves.
Positive confession, listen would rule out the confession of sin wouldn’t it? Word faith books on prayer, word faith books on spiritual growth are utterly lacking in any teaching about confessing sin. Of course they undermine the crucial teaching of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins He’s faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In fact, positive confession encourages people to absolutely ignore their sins and deny their reality, doesn’t it? You don’t want to mention anything negative. It has produced multitudes of people who perpetually wear these emotionless smiles out of fear. Fear that a negative confession might bring them bad fortune and so they may be piling up sin which is never, ever dealt with.
This is like the Hindu view of karma or some pagan concept of bad luck. I don’t want to say that because it might bring me back luck. Hagan admits he feels that way himself; I’m quoting him, “I wouldn’t tell anybody if I had a doubt thought or a fear thought.” He won’t say a sin thought, or a sin, but he says, “I wouldn’t accept it. I wouldn’t tell somebody if the thought came to me and you know the devil can put all kinds of thoughts in your mind, we’re a product of words. Did you ever stop to think the Bible teaches that there’s a health and healing in your tongue?” So he says, ‘You must never say things that are negative.’ “I never talk of sickness, I don’t believe in sickness, I talk health, I believe in healing, I believe in health, I never talk sickness, I never talk disease.”–he’s just talking sickness and talking disease–“I talk healing, I never talk failure, I don’t believe in failure, I believe in success, I never talk defeat, I don’t believe in defeat. I believe in winning, Halleluiah to Jesus!”
Now they won’t say the word sin, they won’t say we never talk sin, but they never talk sin. That perspective is rife with obvious problems, Bruce Barron tells of one word faith church where the pastor wrote sheepishly to instruct his congregation on a ticklish concern, some of the church members he had were spreading contagious diseases among the churches little ones by bringing their sick babies to the nursery. Against the nursery’s volunteers protests these parents were positively confessing that their children were well. This is true. Since the parents had claimed their healing there was nothing to worry about. They may have been dismissing those persistent whines and coughs as lying symptoms, but those lying symptoms proved to be contagious and only an announcement from the pulpit could succeed in putting an end to the problem; foolish.
Word faith, denial of diseases and problems as lying symptoms robs believers of an opportunity to minister with compassion and understanding to suffering people. Would you like to be in a word faith church and have the gift of showing mercy, and try to find somebody who would admit they needed it? You might look a long time because everybody would be running around saying, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m well, I’m whole, I’m healed, I’m rich.
How are going to help somebody when nobody’s allowed to talk about anything? How can you help someone whose symptoms you believe are lies from Satan? Or worse, the result of sinful, unbelief, that anytime somebody’s sick it’s because they’re a sinful unbeliever. Consequently, many word faith devotees tend to be unfeeling, callous, indifferent even to the point of being coarse and abrasive toward people they assume don’t have enough faith to claim a healing.
Bruce Barron tells of a pastor and his wife unable to bear children who were told by a member of their church that they needed to confess a pregnancy and display their faith by purchasing a baby stroller and walking down the street with it. Now that is pretty callous, don’t you think?
A few years ago I received a heart rending letter from a dear woman who was deceived by positive confession theology, believed God wanted her to write everyone she knew with a baby announcement for the child she was hoping to conceive. She was incapable of having children but she sent out all these baby announcements. Months later she had to write to everyone again to explain the expected faith baby didn’t come. She was quick to add however that she was still claiming a pregnancy by faith. She was fearful that someone might take her second letter as a negative confession.
Just the normal hurts and heartaches of life you can’t even deal with. Kenneth Hagan seems callous even about the death of his own sister from lingering cancer. He writes, “My sister got down to 79 pounds. The Lord kept telling me that she was going to die. I kept asking the Lord why I couldn’t change the outcome. He told me she had had five years in which she could have studied the word and built up her faith, but she was saved but she hadn’t done it. He told me she was going to die and she did. This is a sad example but it’s true.” End quote.
That’s pretty callous isn’t it? Word faith theology makes the healer a hero when miraculous cheers are claimed but always blames the seeker for lack of faith when the healing doesn’t happen. Hagan describes an incident when he was attempting to heal an arthritic woman; her disease had crippled her so badly that she was unable to walk. He became frustrated at her unwillingness to let go of her wheelchair. I pointed my finger at her and said, “Sister you don’t have an ounce of faith, do you?” Without thinking she blurted out, “No Brother Hagan I don’t. I don’t believe I’ll ever be healed. I’ll go to my grave from this chair. She said it, and she did it, and we weren’t to blame.” End quote.
Remember positive confession teaches people that their words are determinative. God is not the object of their faith and God is not the force in their life. Word faith devotees learn to put their faith in their own words. Hagan bluntly says, “Faith in their own faith.” He has a book titled, “Having Faith In Your Faith.” What this is is idolatry; this is having faith in you which makes you what? God.
Try to follow his logic as he attempts to substantiate this idea. Here’s what he writes, “Did you ever stop to think about having faith in your own faith? Evidently God had faith in His faith because He spoke the words of faith and they came to pass. Evidently Jesus had faith in His faith because he spoke to the fig tree and what He said came to pass. In other words having faith in your words is having faith in your faith. That’s what you’ve got to learn to do to get things from God.Have faith in your faith. It would help you to get faith down in your spirit and say out loud, ‘Faith in my faith.’ Keep saying it until it registers in your heart. I know it sounds strange when you first say it, your mind almost rebels against it, but we’re not talking about your head, we’re talking about faith in your heart. As Jesus said, ‘And shall not doubt in His heart.'” End quote.
What is that? Once again you’ll notice that he manages to depreciate the Father and the Son by saying, “God has faith and Christ has faith.” Can we accurately speak of the faith of an omnission sovereign God? He turns faith moreover into some kind of magical formula and our words into an abracadabra by which we get things from God like rubbing a magic lamp.
There’s no biblical basis for any of these ideas about faith. The only appropriate objects of our faith our God and His infallible Word, His Son, and His spirit. Nevertheless, these word faith believers view their positive confessions as an incantation by which they conjure up whatever they want. Kenneth Hagan says, “Believe it in your heart, say it with your mouth, that’s the principal of faith and you can have what you say.”
Such teachings have led many people into gross materialism. I’ll be real honest with you; I personally believe that in many of the cases of these leaders this is simply a theology developed to support their materialism, that’s all. John Avanzini, one of the lesser known word faith teachers, spent an evening on Trinity Broadcasting Network arguing that Jesus was actually rich. He pointed to Judas role as treasurer and said, “You got to handle lots of money to need a treasurer.”
More recently as a guest on Kenneth Copeland’s broadcast, Avanzini said he believes Scripture teaches that Jesus had a big house and wore designer clothes. All of that is touted as justification for the word faith teacher’s lavish lifestyle and materialistic bent.
Robert Tilton goes a step further, he said this, “Being poor is a sin.” I’d hate to take that message to the Soviet Union and give that to the church. He said, “My God’s rich and He’s trying to show you how to draw out of your heavenly account that Jesus bought and paid for and purchased for you at Calvary. Tilton says, new house, new car, that’s chicken feed, that’s nothing compared to what God wants to do for you.
How was this cargo to be obtained? Well Tilton suggested his followers make a vow of faith in the form of a gift to his ministry. This is what he says, “I like a $1,000 vow because I don’t like halfhearted people lukewarm, just well I’ll do a little, I like a $1,000 vow of faith. I’m not talking to you that’s got it, you that’s got it don’t pay a bit of attention to me, I’m talking to you that don’t have it and I’m showing you how you can get it. Yes the Lord’s work gets a portion of it but you get the biggest portion, you get the biggest blessing, I’m trying to talk you out of that dump you’re in. I’m trying to talk you into a decent car. I’m trying to help you. Quit cursing me, quit cursing me. God what will pull this blessing from you? I am a blessing. I have been blessed supernaturally by God. I bring a blessing to you this day and I know it and my responsibility is to take it to you.”
Then Tilton encourages his listeners to pray the prayer of faith, not one of those Lord if it be thy will; I know what the will of God is when it concerns healing and prosperity and Divine direction. I don’t have to pray a prayer of doubt and unbelief. In other words, Robert Tilton wants you to make a $1,000 dollar vow of faith to his ministry, especially if you can’t afford it.
He doesn’t want you to pray for God’s will on the matter, after all, you can demand what you want and God must give it to you. What’s the difference what God’s will is? Set your vow at a $1,000, demand that God provide the money, send it to Him, and wait to get rich. As I said, some people are getting rich and a lot of people are a $1,000 poorer.
Richard Roberts echoing his father’s seed faith concept urged viewers to sow a seed on your MasterCard, your Visa, or your American Express and than when you do expect God to open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing.
Oral Roberts once mailed out plastic bags full of holy water from the River of Life Fountain at ORU. To demonstrate how to use the stuff he poured a bag of it over his own wallet on his television program while standing knee deep in the fountain and that’s supposed to be the key to getting your cargo delivered.
Why do so many believers, supposed believers, try this stuff and don’t get rich? Fred Price explains, “If you’ve got one dollar of faith and you ask for a $10,000 item, it ain’t going to work, it won’t work.” Jesus said, “According to your faith not according to God’s will for you.” In his own good time if it’s according to His will, if He can work it into his busy schedule.” See him mocking God and mocking the concept of God’s will. 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 going to get? A bicycle.” But guess what he’s got?
Thus, God’s ability to bless us supposedly hangs on our faith. Now note that both Price and Tilton recoil from the idea of praying, “If it be they will,” but that’s exactly what the Bible teaches. This is the confidence, 1 John 5:14, “Which we have before Him that if we ask anything,” what? “According to His will He hears us.” Hagan goes so far as to claim that no such truth is taught in the New Testament, “Because we didn’t understand what Jesus said and because we’ve been religiously brainwashed instead of New Testament taught, we water down the promises of God and tacked on something that Jesus didn’t say and added on something else to it. Well He will all right if it’s His will but it might not be His will,” people have said and yet you don’t find that kind of talk in the New Testament. It’s in mine.
Hagan has also written, “It is unscriptural to pray if it is the will of God.” When you put an if in your prayer you’re praying in doubt. Romans 8:27 tells us “That even the Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Far from stressing the love of the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it, doesn’t it? “Believers, especially leaders in the church are to be free from the love of money. The love of money leads to all kinds of evil. Beware Jesus warned and be on your guard against every form of greed, for not even when one has abundance does his life consist of his possessions,” Luke 12:15.
In sharp contrast to the word faith gospel’s emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves,” what? “Treasures on earth.” He also said in Matthew 6:24, “You can’t serve God and money.” This is really not Christianity; this is not New Testament theology. The concept that the universe God is governed by some impersonal spiritual law is not Biblical. It is a denial of God’s sovereignty and God’s providence. It is really a form of deism if a somewhat ignorant one. Furthermore, the notion that we can use words mystically and magically to control reality is far removed from the Biblical pattern of faith and believe me has more in common with Christian Science then Christianity.
Most word faith teachers vehemently deny that their teachings have anything to do with Christian Science or other metaphysical cults but they do. I don’t know how you can distinguish between the two. Now I want to say something and I want you to listen to it. The word faith movement, Kenneth Hagan, Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price, Charles Capps, Robert Tilton, et al., and it goes on and on from there, can be traced all the way back. Every major figure in the movement was mentored by Kenneth Hagan or one of his close disciples. Every doctrinal distinctive of the movement is traceable to Kenneth Hagan who is in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
There’s a book called, “The Different Gospel,” by D.R.McConnell and one of the things that’s very fascinating in that is that McConnell points out that Kenneth Hagan gleaned these teachings from the writings of a faith evangelist named E.W.Kenyon. In fact, I quoted earlier to you that Kenneth Hagan said he got all of this from the Lord; the truth is that he plagiarized much of it. In fact, McConnell states that Hagan plagiarized the writings of a Christian Missionary Alliance Minister named John A. MacMillan. A man named W.R. Scott gives solid evidence that these accusations are true as well. Specifically it is incontrovertible that Hagan lifted at least three-quarters of his book, “The Authority of the Believer,” verbatim from MacMillan’s magazine article of the same title.
Scott also documents Hagan’s plagiarism of Finis Jennings Dake who wrote a very interesting study Bible called, The Dake Study Bible. In other words, huge sections of the writings of Hagan had plagiarized from other sources. He not only borrowed ideas from Kenyon, but McConnell includes several pages of column by column text that proves beyond question that Hagan repeatedly plagiarized long sections of the writings of E.W. Kenyon word for word, for word, for word, for word.
So there’s a track, there’s a kind of historical track; Kenyon’s roots were in the metaphysical cults. He was a faith healer, not in the Pentecostal tradition but in the sense of Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science. He attended a college that specialized in training lectures for the metaphysical science cults and he imported and adapted into his system most of the essential ideas these cults propagated and Hagan absorbed them from E.W. Kenyon, in many cases word for word.
Truth of it is, McConnell’s book is a devastating expose, the book entitled, “A Different Gospel,” published by Peabody in 1988. It is a devastating expose of the word faith movement. Demonstrates irrefutably that word faith teachers owe their ancestry to groups like Christian Science, Swedenborgianism, Theosophy, Science of Mind, and New Thought, not classical Pentecostalism. It isn’t classical Pentecostalism, it really is not Christianity at its core, it is corrupt, it is cultish, not Christian. It is a mongrel system; it is a blend of mysticism, dualism, and neo-Gnosticism that borrows from the metaphysical cults. Its perverse teachings are causing untold harm to the Christian church as you obviously know.
It is, I believe, in the words of Peter a destructive, or damnable heresy. Despite what word faith teachers say, God is not just a source of cargo is he? We are His servants, not He ours. He has called us to live lives of loving service and worship, not God like supremacy. He blesses us but not always materially. In no way can we write our own ticket and expect Him to follow the script. The life of a Christian is a life spent in pursuit of God’s will, not a life in which God is chasing around trying to fulfill our will.
No one who rejects that fundamental concept of the relationship to the believer, between the believer and the true God, the true Christ, and true faith can genuinely be called Christian. Well, you can see the seriousness of this, right? If you have the wrong God and the wrong Jesus, and the wrong faith, it’s hard to have the right salvation, if not impossible.
In conclusion, there are a few things I need to say, lest I be misunderstood. We’ve covered a lot of things in these weeks and I want to wrap it up and I want you to listen very carefully because I do not want to be misunderstood. I know many charismatics who are committed, consistent, honorable believers devoted to the Word of God. Many Pentecostals are godly people; numerous charismatic churches and individual Pentecostal charismatic believers reject many of the errors which I have highlighted in this series.
We would find many Pentecostals, many Pentecostal charismatic churches and believers who would agree with our assessment of many of these movements and I am not attempting to color all these people the same color. Within the Pentecostal charismatic movement there is everything from Evangelical orthodoxy all the way over to rank heresy and I’m grateful that some in the Pentecostal tradition have the courage to confront error in their movement and call all charismatics to a Biblical perspective and I wish more of them would do that.
I’m grateful for those who will speak out against these evil things. One of the pamphlets that first alerted me to the terrible, terrible teaching in the health wealth movement was written by Chuck Smith, pastor of Calvary Chapel, a straight forward critique of charismatic extremism. There are many like him who have taken their stand and I thank God for their courage and their desire to be Biblical.
I don’t want for any moment for people to think that I don’t believe there are such people in that Pentecostal tradition because in fact there are. But listen carefully; I also believe that the seeds of these errors that they wish to fight are sometimes inherent in the very doctrines that they believe. If you believe that the baptism of the spirit is subsequent to and separate from salvation, you have now created two classes of believers. If you believe in mystical experience, transcendent esoteric kinds of supernatural things, then what you will do is depreciate study, spiritual discipline, and the means of grace by which you grow.
If you exalt feeling you will denigrate reason and open the mind and the spirit to powers that people cannot understand or deal with. As long as these kinds of things lie at the core of Pentecostal tradition, the potential for disaster is there, and if you believe that God is still giving revelation of any kind, the lid is off. This book is not only a statement of truth to people who already believe it, but an appeal to my charismatic friends to examine what they believe, as well as an appeal that non-charismatics to see the difference and to see that the differences are not inconsequential.
Now the final thought; many people who read my book and who listen to these tapes will be concerned about its effect on the unity of the body of Christ. I want you to know something; I have no desire to place a gulf between charismatic and non-charismatic believers. I have no desire to make a rift between those segments of the church. May I say to you that rift is already there and the only way that you can avoid its reality is just flatly deny it or refuse to recognize it.
My concern is to call the church to unity around the truth. Believe me; the most serious damage done to the church by the charismatic movement has been precisely in the matter of unity. Who knows how many thousands of churches have split over these issues. The number would stagger us all. Charismatic doctrine in itself is schismatic because it erects a fence between the common ordinary believer and those who have leaped up to the higher levels, thus the partition between charismatics and non-charismatics was actually put in place by the charismatic system itself.
There’s a second tendency that compounds the problem and that is the disposition of many charismatics, who in the name of unity are willing to embrace everyone and anyone, even it means overlooking doctrine. So on the one hand, if you say you don’t believe what they believe they’ll create a schism, but on the other hand, if you’ll tolerate what they believe they’ll accept you no matter what you believe. Do you understand that?
They have unwittingly succeeded in becoming the kind of worldwide ecumenical force that many liberals envision the world council churches would become. They have become the ecumenical movement of the world. The liberals couldn’t pull it off, charismatics are doing it, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Christians, Protestants, and all kinds of sects–isms, schisms, are uniting under the charismatic banner.
Far from being a positive corollary to the movement’s growth, this ecumenical influence may well prove to be the most potentially disastrous, long term effect of the charismatic phenomenon. It is disastrous because as long as you’ll tolerate what they do they’ll take you in.
One writer pointed out the inconsistency of the charismatic movements marriage with ecumenism, listen to this, this is Thomas Edgar, “Is it not inconsistent that a movement which claims to be in direct contact with the Holy Spirit to have all the gifts such as prophecy, apostleship, and the word of knowledge, to communicate directly with God by tongue speaking and other means can at the same time include Roman Catholics, conservative and liberal Protestants, amillennialists, pre-millennialists, Calvinists, Armenians, those who deny the verbal inspiration of the Bible, and those who reject Christ’s vicarious atonement on the cross.
It’s a fair question. If they’ve got all this revelation, certainly they ought to be able to sort that group out. Further, Thomas Edgar writes, “Apparently the Holy Spirit is not concerned with communicating any information to correct all these differences, many of which are crucial and some of which are incorrect. All this direct communication with the spirit has apparently done nothing to correct even basic errors. It has not produced unity among charismatics regarding the nature and purpose of many of the gifts. This movement has solved no theological issue, produced no advance in Biblical knowledge, has not produced more spiritual Christians with such an effusion of the genuine spirit of God produced so little.”
Wouldn’t you assume that if this movement was really feeling the full power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit would be delivering them some sound doctrine? Gordon Clark has also written about the dangers of charismatic ecumenism, he quoted an article from a charismatic magazine celebrating the in roads Pentecostalism is making into Catholicism, and than he said this, this is Gordon Clark, “Several things immediately strike any reader who is not asleep, first the tongues experience is tremendously important. It is not true to say that nothing else matters, it nonetheless seems true to say that nothing else matters very much. Speaking in tongues is the chief mark of a dedicated Christian. The clear implication that the worship of the Virgin Mary is unobjectionable if one speaks in tongues. There is little point in justification by faith alone, one can accept merit from the treasury of the saints, transubstantiation can be acknowledged if only one speaks in tongues. Still more fundamental, one can place tradition on a level with Scripture, even assert new revelations from God, if only one speaks in tongues. The Pentecostal minister,” mentioned in the article in question, “Note well said, there has been no attempt to proselyte Roman Catholics. In other words, Romanism is acceptable if only one speaks in tongues.”
You see the point is charismatic ecumenism is steadily eroding the identity of Biblical Christianity. In Asia, shocking new charismatic cults are springing up, blending Buddhism, Taoism, Confusianism, and other teachings with western charismaticism. The charismatic movement as a whole is entirely unequipped to defend against such influences, how can they confront errant groups, even ones that are overtly heathen?
Listen to this, for in the charismatic movement, unity is a question of shared religious experience, not doctrine. If doctrine doesn’t matter then why not embrace Buddhist charismatics, and that is exactly what is happening. So while charismatic doctrine tends to be divisive among groups that are orthodox, it is not divisive among groups that are heterodox. They’re building bridges to the false religions and cutting off the true.
Well, it’s a serious issue and we need to know as we have been learning what the Word of God has to say. The only appropriate response to all of this, very simple, is a return to this book, right? Everything is tested by this. The sad truth is the legacy of the charismatic movement has been chaos and doctrinal confusion. Their approach to spirituality is unsound and fraught with potential disillusionment and some of the people in the movement are in despair, disappointed, defeated, and some of them are desperate. The spiritual good life they hear about all the time never seems to happen and they’re looking for the key to real Christian life and I would encourage you in love to take on the responsibility graciously to evangelize these people, and if in fact they do know Christ, show them the true path to spiritual blessing.
Father, we thank You tonight for this wonderful time we’ve shared and thank You for the clarity with which Your word speaks to matters such as this. For those who love Christ, who are our brothers and sisters in this movement we pray God show them the truth that they might find the path of true spirituality and gain victory over the flesh and true joy and blessing. For those in the movement who under the illusion that they’re saved when in fact they’re not, may they see the true God, the true Christ and exercise true faith, and God we pray somehow you would silence those who speak error and give voice to those who speak the truth. To this end we pray that You might be glorified, the Savior’s name, Amen.
The subject tonight in our study of the Charismatic Chaos is the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. We can title this message with a question; does God promise health and wealth?
When I was in the Soviet Union a couple of weeks ago they said to me, “We want you to preach on the health and wealth gospel.” I was talking to hundreds of pastors, and PastorDuKhanchenko who heads up the Church there in the Ukraine said, “I want you to preach on the health, wealth gospel.” I said, “You’re not telling me that that’s a problem here?” How could anybody go to the Soviet Union and promise people wealth? A whole nation in poverty he said, “It’s here.”
He said, “Recently, outside of Kiev, a man came from America and he called the people in the city together, and he said he represented Jesus Christ, and he was going to preach, and a great crowd of non-Christian people came to hear him, and he promised them that God wanted them healthy and wealthy, and he said if they came back the next night, the power of God would fall and they would all be healed, and so they came. He said a large crowd came and nobody got healed and they spit on the man, they spit on the man.
The kind of foolish promises that are being made that cannot be fulfilled bring a terrible reproach to the name of Christ. One of the most unusual legacies of World War II has been what are known as the cargo cults of the South Pacific, anybody who lives in Australia or New Zealand knows about them. Many Aboriginal Island people ranging from northern Australia to Indonesia were first exposed to modern civilization through the allied armed forces during World War II.
The American military, in particular, often used these remote islands in the South Pacific as sites for temporary landing strips and supply depots. Those of you who remember the scenario of World War II, personally I have absolutely no memory of any of it because I was so small, but I’ve read and I know what occurred, some of you will even remember, and some of you will remember your history books and be reminded of the fact that we were all over the South Pacific on remote little islands with our landing strips and our supply depots so that we could keep our men in the air particularly. So when Americans and other allies came to these little islands and met these Aboriginal Island people they came bringing cargo. They flew in there, created these airstrips so they could fly larger equipment in there, and then they brought in huge warehouses full of cargo and they left as quickly as they came when the war ended. The tribal people had absolutely no opportunity to learn the ways of civilization, but for a brief moment they saw high technology up close. Cargo planes would swoop in from the sky, they would land, they would unload their payload and then takeoff.
Natives who lived in the bush all of a sudden saw cigarette lighters that produced fire instantly and they believed it to be miraculous. They saw large machines come in and push trees down. They went all the way from not even having a wheel or a cart to seeing a Jeep, modern weaponry, refrigerators, radios, talking boxes, power tools, and many varieties of food in all kinds of cans and jars. They were fascinated by all of that and many of those tribal people concluded that the white men were gods. When the war was over and the troops were gone tribesmen built shrines to the cargo gods. Their tabernacles were perfect replicas of cargo planes, control towers and airplane hangers; they made them out of bamboo and woven material. These structures looked remarkably like the control towers and the plane hangers and the planes themselves, but they were really nonfunctional; all they were was shrines or temples to the cargo gods.
On some of those remote islands today the cargo cults still thrive. Some have personified all Americans in one deity and they call that deity Tom Navy. They pray for holy cargo from every airplane that flies over. They venerate religious relics like Zippo lighters, cameras, eyeglasses, ballpoint pens, nuts and bolts, and so on. As civilization has begun to penetrate some of these cultures their fascination for cargo has not diminished. In fact, missionaries that have been sent to these areas where cargo cults have flourished receive a warm reception at first because the cargo cultist’s view their arrival as the second coming of the cargo god, but they’re looking for cargo not Gospel, and missionaries say they find it very difficult to penetrate the materialism that is the essence of the cargo cults.
In recent years the Charismatic movement has spawned its own variety of cargo cult. It is called the word faith movement; known otherwise as the faith Movement, known as the faith formula, known as the word of faith, hyperfaith, positive confession, name it and claim it, health, wealth, and prosperity teaching, all of those titles.
This subdivision of the Charismatic movement, listen, is easily as superstitious and materialistic as the cargo cults of the South Pacific. The Leaders of this word faith movement, including Kenneth Hagan, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Robert Tilton, Fred Price, and Charles Capps promise each believer financial prosperity and perfect health; anything less, they argue, is not God’s will. There are many people who chime in with this, in fact, as I understand, last week there was a great, great convocation at the church of Fred Price, which espouses this, attended by many, not only Charismatics and Pentecostals but even a leading Presbyterian pastor in our area, they were all there. The tentacles of this kind of theology has reached out far and wide. They have sought mainstream acceptance and they have managed to build relationships with people, who because of those relationships will not speak the truth against them, and so the thing flourishes like a wildfire. Of course it appeals to people because it demands nothing but faith; it doesn’t demand holiness, it doesn’t demand devotion or dedication, it only demands faith and it promises that if you have enough you’ll get rich and healthy, that’s a popular message.
I suppose we could say that virtually every false religion ever spawned by man worships a god whose function it is to deliver some kind of cargo, that is, human religion invariably invents gods for utilitarian reasons. They invent gods that give them what they want. They invent deities to serve them rather than the other way around. The word faith theology has turned Christianity into a system that is no different from the lowest human religions. It is a form of voodoo where God can be coerced, cajoled, manipulated, controlled, and exploited for the Christian’s own ends.
I received a mailing sent out by one rather extreme word faith teacher named David Eppley. A brochure was included with a bar of prayer blessed soap, “We are going to wash away all bad luck, sickness, misfortunes, and evil. Yes, even that evil person you want out of your life. Jesus helped a man wash blindness from his eyes; I want to help you concerning hexes, vexes, home problems, love, happiness, and joy,” the brochure said.
Inside the brochure were testimonies from people who had been blessed by that ministry. “Door opens to new job,” said one. “An $80,000 dream comes true,” said another. “Couldn’t use my hand for 12 years,” said another. Also inside was a personal letter from the pastor closing with a full page of instruction on how to use the soap. If you used it right it would bring you healing and money. “Now after you wash the poverty from your hands take out the largest bill or check you have. That $100, $50, or $20 bill, hold it in your clean hands and say, ‘In Jesus’ name I dedicate this gift to God’s work and expect a miracle return of money,'” and of course, your largest bill or check must be sent to David Eppley.
The last paragraph said, “Through this gift of discernment, I see someone sending a $25 offering and God is showing me a large check coming to them in the next short while I mean large; it looks like over $1,000. I know this sounds strange but you know me well enough to know that I have to obey God when He speaks.” I’ll be here waiting for your answer.
Frankly, that sounds more like Black Magic. Certainly a more outrageous example than most, but still it reflects a style that is typical of nearly all word faith ministries. If it was just plain hucksterism that would be bad enough. I guess I could tell you honestly, I can take Reverend Ike, I can take Reverend Ike because – I don’t know if you know who he is, but if you don’t, don’t worry about it, but I can take Reverend Ike because he uses the same gimmick, but he doesn’t make it Christian. What corrupts so devastatingly is to tie this kind of con game into Christ.
Word faith teachers have corrupted the heart of New Testament Christianity. They have moved the believers’ focus off sound doctrine, worship, service, sacrifice, and ministry; and they’ve shifted it instead to promised physical, financial, and material blessings. Those blessings are the cargo that God is supposed to deliver to those who know and follow the word faith formula.
Word faith writings, there are myriad of these, you can’t even keep up with them. I got a new one this week that somebody sent me to try to help me to see the truth. It’s a thick book and it’s all about all of these word faith teachers. It has all their pictures on the front. There’s almost no end to the proliferation of literature, but there – many trees are dying in this operation to be used for pulp and paper. Word faith articles carry titles like, “How to Write Your Own Ticket with God,” “Godliness is Profitable,” “The Laws of Prosperity,” “God’s Creative Power Will Work for You,” “Releasing the Ability of God Through Prayer,” “God’s Formula for Success and Prosperity,” “God’s Master Key to Prosperity,” and “Living in Divine Prosperity,” and so it goes.
In word faith religion the believer uses God, whereas, the truth of Biblical Christianity is God uses the believer. Word faith theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wants. The Bible teaches, however, that the Holy Spirit is a person who enables the believer to do whatever God wants. It is absolutely the opposite of Scripture. Many word faith teachers claim that Jesus was Born Again so that we might become little gods. Scripture, however, teaches that Jesus is God and it is we who must be born again.
Frankly, I have little or no tolerance for these deceptions, these corruptions of Scriptures and false claims of the word faith movement. I have absolutely no constraints on me to speak to this issue because I believe I am literally bound by my obligation as one called to minister the truth of God to so speak, because this defies everything I understand to be true about Scripture.
The movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that ravaged the early church. Paul and other Apostles were not accommodating too or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated ideas like that in their day. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them. Paul warned Timothy, for example, about “Men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.” This isn’t anything new; Paul was dealing with those who thought godliness was a ticket for money.
Paul further said to Timothy, “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang but flee from these things.”
These cults are generated; know this, out of a love for money. They develop a religion to accommodate their lust. Jude wrote of the greed mongers of his day, “Woe to them, for they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These men are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves, clouds without water carried along by wind, autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted, wild waves of the sea casting up their own shame like foam, wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. They are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts, they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.”
There is nothing I could say that would be as strong as that, and that’s out of God’s Word. Peter wrote, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves and many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned and in their greed they will exploit you with false words.”
Peter went on to say, “Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by sensuality, that is, they entice you by the things you lust for, and they entice those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption, for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”
You show me a person who preaches the money gospel, the money Message, the wealth message; I’ll show you a person who has been corrupted by the love of money, that’s what Peter’s saying. Paul said covetousness is idolatry and Paul forbade the Ephesians to be partakers with anyone who brought either a message of immorality or a message of covetousness, Ephesians 5:5-7.
Now the question is how closely do modern word faith teachers resemble the greedy false teachers that the Apostles described? Is it fair to write the movement off as heretical? As sub-Christian? Well, I want us to look at that, and let’s find out. In some ways I hesitate to label the word faith movement as a cult only because its boundaries are as yet, somewhat hazy. Many sincere Christians hover around the periphery of the word faith teaching. It isn’t a sort of bordered, identifiable cult, it’s somewhat amorphous and it floats in an almost undefined way and bumps in and out of all kinds of groups of Christians, and so while on the one hand we can’t say that everybody that it touches is cultic, all of the elements within it are cultic.
It has a distorted Christology that is a warped view of Christ. It has a distorted view of man, an exalted view of man. It has a theology built on human works. It has a process of sanctification that justifies greed. It has a belief that new revelation from within the group is unlocking secrets that have been hidden from the church for years. It believes that extra biblical human writings are inspired and authoritative, and it has an exclusivity that compels its adherents to shun any and every criticism of the movement. In fact, as you know, Benny Hinn said if anybody criticizes him he wants to get a Holy Ghost machine gun and blow their head off.
Without some exacting corrections in the movement’s doctrinal foundations it will become a clearly identifiable cult, if it is not already so. It certainly is the closest thing on earth to the greed cults of the New Testament era which the apostles bluntly labeled heresy. Now I know that is a serious verdict, but I think there’s ample evidence to bear it out. At almost every turn the word faith movement has tainted, twisted, garbled, misunderstood, corrupted, or obliterated the crucial doctrines of Christian faith. Let me help you with that by looking at some of them.
First of all, the word faith movement has the wrong god, it has the wrong god. I believe that it is fair to say that the god of the word faith movement is not the God of the Bible. Word faith teaching, in effect, listen to this, sets the individual believer, are you ready for this, above God, and turns God into Santa Claus, or a genie, or a valet who is there to do whatever the Christian tells Him. See, these word faith teachers are their own supreme authority.
Kenneth Hagan, who is patriarchal in this movement, wrote this booklet called, “How To Write Your Own Ticket With God.” He tells about seeing a vision of Jesus and he says to Him, “Dear Lord, I have two sermons I preach concerning the woman who touched Your clothes and was healed when You were on earth. I received both of these sermons by inspiration.” I am quoting him. Later on he quotes what Jesus told him in reply, Jesus said, “You’re correct, My Spirit, the Holy Spirit, is endeavored to get another sermon into your spirit but you failed to pick it up. While I’m here I will do what you ask, I will give you that sermon outline, now get your pencil and paper and write it down.
That’s what Jesus said to him, he says. Hagan claims to have received numerous visions as well as eight personal visitations from Jesus. Hagan has written, “The Lord Himself taught me about prosperity. I never read about it in a book, I got it directly from heaven.” That claim is a lie, outright; I’ll show you why a little later. You see they believe or they want every body else to believe that God is giving this information to them. Do you understand beloved that if you do not have a closed cannon, and if Scripture did not end with the Book of Revelation, if you believe that God is still giving revelation there is no way to stop the flood.
Everybody is claiming God speaks to them. Fortunately, for the word faith people, God is telling them exactly what they want Him to say. They’ve created God in the image that they want Him to be. For example, they have no concept of God as sovereign. Scripture says in Psalm 103:19, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all.” What that simply means is, God’s in charge of everybody and everything. God is the blessed and only sovereign, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, 1 Timothy 6:15, yet in the volumes of word faith material that I have read, I have not found one reference to the sovereignty of God, not one. The reason is clear; they don’t believe He’s sovereign.
Jesus, according to word faith teaching, has no authority on earth; it is all delegated to the church. Kenneth Hagan says this in his book entitled, “The Authority of the Believer,” which by the way, has long sections which were taken verbatim from other books written by other people and he says he got them from God; it’s just not true, but he says Jesus has no authority, He delegated it all to the church; we’re in charge of God and we’re in charge of Jesus.
Furthermore, word faith theology teaches that God is bound by spiritual laws that govern health and prosperity. God is bound by some laws, some principles. If we say the right words, or if we have the right faith, God is forced to respond however we determine. Robert Tilton claims that God has already committed to take His part in a covenant relationship with us. We can make whatever commitment or promise to Him we want, says Tilton, “Then we can tell God, on the authority of His Word, what we would like Him to do. That’s right; you can actually tell God what you would like His part in the covenant to be.”
In the word faith system God is not Lord of all, He can’t work unless we release Him to work, He is dependent on human instruments, He is dependent on human faith, and above all, He has to act in response to human words to get His work done. Charles Capps has written, “It is in your power to release the ability of God.” In other words, “God is stuck until we speak His orders,” on the other hand, according to Charles Capps, “Fear activates the devil.” If you succumb to fear, even doubting a little, he says, “You’ve moved God out of it. You have stopped God’s ability immediately.” Maybe it was just about to come into manifestation, but now you have established Satan’s word in the earth, “That it is not getting any better, it is getting worse. You have established his word.”
What he is saying is, if you have fear, you release the devil to work, if you have faith, you release God to work. So if you’re afraid of Satan, you’ve bottled God and set Satan loose, my you’re a powerful person. According to Charles Capps, in his book, “The Tongue A Creative Force,” God has turned over His sovereignty, including, listen to this, His creative authority, to people.
Capps has written, “In August of 1973 the Word of the Lord came unto me saying,” just that’s frightening and this is a quote, this is the Lord speaking to Charles Capps, “If men would believe me, long prayers are not necessary. Just speaking the Word will bring you what you desire. My creative power is given to man in word form. I have ceased for a time, from My work and have given man the book of My creative power. For it to be effective man must speak it in faith Jesus spoke it when He was on earth and as it worked then, so it shall work now, but it must be spoken by the body. Man must rise up and have dominion over the power of evil by My words. It is my greatest desire that My people create a better life by the spoken word, for My word has not lost its power just because it has been spoken once. It is still equally as powerful today as when I said, ‘Let there be light,’ but for My word to be effective, men must speak it and that creative power will come forth performing that which is spoken in faith.”
Simply saying, in other words, what he is stating is this; you have the ability, if you have enough faith, to create with your words. You want money? Create it with your faith filled words. You want healing? Create it with your faith filled words. It escapes me how one of these popular word faith teachers could possibly be $5 million dollars in debt; can’t he just speak it into existence? Then on the other hand, why pray at all if your words have so much creative force? Why pray? What’s there to ask for? You really come up with a denial that you need to seek anything from God; after all, God has given the sovereignty to you, He’s yielded up His creative power to you, it’s not His word anymore, it was His word the first time, it’s your word now. Speak it into existence, you don’t need Him, you’re sovereign.
Another of their teachers, Norville Hayes, says it is better to talk to your checkbook, talk to your disease, or talk to whatever predicament you’re in than to turn to God in prayer. I’m quoting, “You aren’t supposed to talk to Jesus about it, you’re supposed to talk directly to the mountain in Jesus’ Name, whatever the mountain is in your life. Stop talking to Jesus about it, stop talking to anybody else about it, speak to the mountain itself in Jesus’ Name. Don’t say, “Oh God, help me, remove this sickness from me,” say, “Flu, I’m not going to let you come into my body. Go from me in the name of Jesus. Nose, I tell you, stop running. Cough, I tell you to leave in Jesus’ name.” Say, “Cancer, you can’t kill me, I will never die of cancer in Jesus’ name.” I’m quoting him further, “Do you have a financial mountain in your life? Start talking to your money. Tell your checkbook to line up with God’s word. Talk to your business, command customers to come into your business and spend their money there. Talk to the mountain.”
You laugh at this, and I understand that, but there are a lot of people who don’t laugh at this, they’re believing this. Norville Hayes has several publications and one of them titled “Putting Your Angels to Work,” which indicates that you’re not only sovereign over this world but you’re sovereign over the angelic world as well. Hayes also teaches that believers can exercise dominion over the angels, “Since angels are ministering spirits sent to minister to and for Christians,” he reasons, “We can learn how to put them into action on our behalf. We believers ought to be keeping those angelic creatures busy. We ought to have them working for us all of the time.”
So I think it’s fair to say that word faith theology denies the sovereignty of God, removes the need to pray to God for any relief from burdens or needs and gives the Christian himself both dominion and creative power. In my judgment it is human pride at its ugliest. Worse, it is idolatry and the new idol is self, and God is dethroned. To follow this wrong God concept a little further, the word faith movement teaches that when you become a Christian you become part of a race of little gods. Kenneth Copeland has explicitly stated what many word faith teachers more subtly imply.
This is what Kenneth Copeland writes, “He imparted in you, when you were born again,” Peter said it just as plain he said; “We are partakers of the divine nature. That nature is life eternal in absolute perfection, and that was imparted, injected into your spiritman and you have that imparted into you by God just the same as you imparted into your child the nature of humanity. That child wasn’t born a whale, he was born a human, isn’t that true? Well now, you don’t have a human do you? You are one. And you don’t have a god in you, you are one.”
Copeland teaches that Adam was created in the god class; that is, Adam was a reproduction of God. Listen to what he says, “He was not subordinate to God, Adam was walking as a god. What he said went, what he did counted, and when he bowed his knee to Satan and put Satan up above him then there wasn’t anything God could do about it because a god had placed Satan there. Adam, remember, was created in the god class, but when he committed high treason he fell below the god class.”
On the cross, according to Copeland, Jesus won the right for believers to be born again back into the god class. Adam was created, not subordinate to God, but as a god, he lost it, and in Christ we are taken back to the god class. In saying that, Copeland believes that Jesus, “Won healing, He won deliverance; He won financial prosperity, mental prosperity, physical prosperity, family prosperity. He said He’d meet my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus, and I’m walking around and saying, ‘yes, my needs are met according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’ Glory to God, I’m coveting to the need meter, I’m coveting to the I AM, Hallelujah, and I say this with all respect so that it don’t upset you too bad, but I say it anyway; when I read in the Bible where He says I am I just smile and say yes, I am too.”
That is so blasphemous it ought to make every true child of God cringe, yet it is typical of word faith teaching. For any human being to call himself the I am, Yahweh, the eternal saving sovereign God is blasphemy. In the face of criticism for some of his statements about the deity of the believer, Copeland appeared with Paul and Jan Crouch on Trinity Broadcasting Network’s program “Praise the Lord!” and he was there to defend his teaching.
This is the following conversation that ensued, Paul Crouch said; God doesn’t even draw a distinction between Himself and us. Kenneth Copeland said, never, never, you never can do that in a covenant relationship. Paul Crouch, do you know what else that has settled then tonight? This hue and cry and controversy that has been spawned by the devil to try and bring dissension within the Body of Christ that we are gods, I am a little god. Kenneth Copeland, yes, yes. Jan Crouch, absolutely, He gave us His name. Kenneth Copeland, the reason we are. Paul Crouch, I have His name, I’m one with Him, I’m in covenant relations, I am a little god, critics be gone. Kenneth Copeland, you are anything that He is. Paul Crouch, yes.
Paul Crouch, head and on air host of Trinity Broadcasting Network and therefore one of the most powerful influential people in the religious broadcasting today, has reaffirmed repeatedly his commitment to the little gods doctrine of word faith, quoting him,
“That new creation that comes in new birth is created in His image. It is joined then with Jesus Christ. Is that correct? So in that sense, I saw this many years ago, whatever that union is that unites Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, He says, ‘Father, I want them to be one with Me, even as You and I are one in us,’ so apparently what He does He opens up that union of the very Godhead and brings us into it.”
We become part of the Trinity in that view. Other word faith teachers have reiterated the heresy. Charles Capps writes, “I have heard people say, those who confess God’s Word and say the promises of God over and over are just trying to act like God.” Yes, that’s exactly what we are trying to do, act as God would in a similar situation. What did He do? He spoke the thing desired.
Or O’Palk, another of them wrote, “Until we comprehend that we are little gods and we begin to act like little gods, we cannot manifest the Kingdom of God.” Robert Tilton also calls the believer, “A god kind of creature designed to be as a god in this world. Designed and created by God to be the god of this world.” Other of their popular preachers, Maurice Serullo had this televised conversation with Dwight Thompson, you see him on Channel 40 frequently, Maurice Serullo said, see when God created us in His image He didn’t put any strings on us, did He? He didn’t make us puppets. Dwight Thompson, no not at all. Maurice Serullo, He didn’t say, Maurice, raise your hand, raise your, you know, and then here we are. We have no absolute, no control over us. Dwight Thompson, no, no, no. Maurice Serullo, He made Dwight Thompson, he made Maurice Serullo a small miniature god. Of course. The Bible says we’re created in the image of God, His likeness. Where is that godlikeness? He gave us power, He gave us authority, He gave us dominion, He didn’t tell us to act like a man, He told us to act like a god.”
Benny Hinn adds, “The new creation is created after God in righteousness and true holiness. The new man is after God, like God, godlike, complete in Jesus Christ. The new creation is just like God. May I say it like this, ‘You are a little god on earth running around.'”
And then Hinn responded to criticism of such teaching this way, he said, “Now are you ready for some real revelation knowledge? Ok, now watch this. He laid aside His divine form so one day I would be clothed on earth with the divine form. Kenneth Hagan has a teaching; a lot of people have problems with it, yet it is absolute truth. Kenneth Copeland has a teaching, many Christians have put holes in it, but it’s divine truth. Hagan and Copeland say, “You are god, you are gods.” “Oh, I can’t be God! Hold it!” Let’s bring balance to this teaching. The balance is being taught by Hagan; it’s those who repeat him that mess it up. The balance is being taught by Copeland, who’s my dear friend, but it’s those who repeat what he says that are messing it up. You see there brother, when Jesus was on earth, the Bible says “He first disrobed Himself of the divine form. He, the limitless God, became a man that we men may become as He is.”
You’ll notice in this that they land on the verses that indicate that we enter in and participate in some of the things that are true about God, but they take it to the extreme where we become God. We do participate in the love of God, don’t we? In the righteousness of God, and enjoy the grace of God, but are not God. Hagan says, “If we ever wake up and realize who we are we’ll start doing the work that we’re supposed to do, because the church hasn’t realized yet that they are Christ, that’s who they are, they are Christ.”
Now we’re not only God, we’re Christ. Thus, have the word faith teachers agreed to depose God and put us in His place. From that basic error flow all the fallacies. Why do they teach that health and prosperity are every Christian’s divine right? Because we’re God, we deserve it. Right? If I’m God I deserve prosperity. Why do they teach that a believer’s words have creative and determinative force? Because in their system we’re God, and God could speak things into creation, and we’re God so we can speak them into creation. They have bought Satan’s original lie. The serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die, for God knows that in the day you eat from this fruit, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.” That was a lie. Man will never be like God. We will be a glorified man, not God. The idea that man can be like God is and always has been the satanic lie. It was the very lie – listen to this, brought the devil himself down. He said, “I will be like God.”
Two proof texts are often used by the word faith teachers to support their teaching. In Psalm, you need to listen to this; this is their case here, in Psalm 82:6 God says to the rulers of earth, “You are gods and all of you are sons of the Most High.” They quote that all of the time, Psalm 82:6, you might want to turn to it, and we’ll close with just a look at the two texts they use, and we’re going to take it up next week. Psalm 82:6, God says to the rulers of earth, “You are gods; and all of you are sons of the Most High,” and so they say, “See, God says we’re gods!”
A simple reading of the Psalm however, says something very, very, different than that. If you look at the Psalm it will reveal to you that those words were spoken to ungodly rulers, who were on the brink of judgment, ungodly rulers on the brink of judgment. Look at verse 7, they never want to read verse 7, “Nevertheless, you will die like men; and fall like any one of the princes. Arise, O God, judge the earth.” What is this? There’s a note of irony. God looks at these rulers and they have been rendering unjust judgments.
Back in verse 2 they have been judging unjustly, they have been showing partiality to the wicked. They have been, rather, doing injustice than justice and he says, “Look, in your own eyes you think you’re gods, but you’re going to die like,” what? “Men.” How could you ever rip that sixth verse out of that context and make it an affirmation that a Christian has become a god? Far from confirming their godhood, God is condemning them for thinking they were gods.
Word faith teachers will immediately turn to their other favorite proof text, John 10:33-34. Guess what? This is where Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6, so if you understand Psalm 82:6 you don’t have a problem understanding John 10. The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy and because you being a man make yourself out to be God.” Then Jesus answered them, “Has it not been written in your law, I said you are gods.” Don’t fail to notice Jesus’ purpose for choosing that verse. It would have been a very familiar one to the Scribes and Pharisees. They would have understood that that verse was an condemnation of wicked rulers, and Jesus is simply echoing the irony of the original Psalm.
Walter Martin wrote an excellent comment on this, he said, “Jesus mocks the people as if to say, ‘You all think you’re gods yourselves. What’s one more god among you?'” Oh, the irony. You’re going to stone me for claiming to be God, you’re all claiming the same thing, what’s one more god? The sarcasm.
Walter Martin says, “Irony is used to provoke us, not to inform us. It is not a basis for building a theology.” Further he says, “It is also pertinent to an understanding of John 10 that we remember that Satan is called the ‘ruler of this world’ by no less an authority than the Lord Jesus Christ, and Paul reinforces this by calling the ‘god of this age.’ We can make a god out of anything money, power, status, position, sex, patriotism, family, or as in Lucifer’s case, an angel. We can be our own god; but to call something deity or to worship it, or to treat it as divine is quite another thing, then it’s being by nature and in essence deity. Jesus is not calling them ‘God’ in the true sense; He is saying you have made a god out of yourselves just like the people in Psalm 82 who felt the blast of God’s judgment. God said to the rebellious Israelites in Isaiah 29:16, ‘You turn things around.’ Shall the potter be considered equal with the clay,'” Isaiah 29:16. Does the clay think it is equal to the potter? According to the word faith movement what’s the answer? Yes, if not superior. They have the wrong god.
Well, they have some other things that are wrong and I’ll tell you what they are next Sunday night and we’ll start with the fact that they have the wrong Jesus.
Father, even as we talk about these things we are thrown almost into disbelief, not because we’re not used to error but we’re not used to error being received by people who say they belong to the truth. We are shocked that so many Christians who would affirm their belief in the truth will identify with the terrible heresies of this movement. We feel like Evangelical Christianity has become absolutely undefinable, it is so amorphous it has no boundaries, it is inexplicable. We almost feel like we have to pull out of the whole thing and start all over again. Lord, so many are confused, so many led astray, we just pray that somehow Your truth will reach them and that they will worship You as the sovereign God and not turn You into their valet, but fall on their face in Your presence and plead for the privilege to suffer if need be for Your sake, sickness, poverty, or death, if You so will. That like the Apostle Paul they would rejoice to suffer, they would be thankful for persecutions, distresses, deprivation, if it’s Your will because You are sovereign.
Father, help us to know that we are at best men and no more. Men who have been touched with the transforming grace of Christ. Men in whom the Holy Spirit lives, but we are men and no more, redeemed men and as men we must be humbled before God. We grieve Father, that You have been so dishonored, so humiliated that such a terrible reproach has come on Your Holy Name from those who teach and believe such foolish things, and we ask that You would be exalted and bring a halt to this degrading teaching for the Savior’s sake we ask, Amen.
AT THE TURN of the century, the present-day Pentecostal Movement came into being, emphasizing “speaking in tongues” and “divine healing.” Their failure to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” led to many false teachings regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit and produced confusion in the minds of the saved and unsaved religionists alike. This Pentecostal Movement arose mainly from within various Protestant churches but they were soon forced out, either because of their unusual beliefs and practices or, in some cases, because they felt unhappy in churches which had become liberal theologically and worldly in position and practice. At least two things can be said for most of these early Pentecostals-they utterly repudiated the liberalism of the ecumenical movement and would not condone mixing the world with the church.
In the 1960’s a new movement took shape, sharing the basic doctrines of Pentecostalism but advocating a “stay in” rather than a “come out” policy with regard to church affiliations. This movement is commonly known as the “Charismatic Movement.” It involves not only various Protestant churches but Roman Catholic churches as well. In fact, if one is able to “speak in tongues” or if he has experienced a “healing,” he is accepted by the Charismatics with little or no regard to his church affiliation or doctrinal deviation. When you hear Roman Catholics talk about how their “baptism in the Holy Spirit” has given them a greater love for the Mass, you know that this cannot be attributed to the Holy Spirit, but rather to a false spirit.
In the 1980’s, yet another movement appeared on the religious scene which made the Pentecostal/ charismatic false teachings even more appealing and dangerous. Why? Because this movement promoted the same, basic unscriptural doctrines held by Pentecostals and Charismatics while, in its inception, disclaiming any relationship to either of these groups, thus making it especially attractive to evangelicals and fundamentalists who did not want to wear the label of either group because of their deviant teachings and practices.
The impetus for this new movement came largely from several widely circulated books and many lectures to evangelical groups around the world by Dr. John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and Dr. Peter Wagner of Fuller Theological Seminary Institute of Church Growth. Both men greatly influenced each other and, as they experimented with various teachings and practices related to “healing, miracles, signs and wonders,” they soon went even beyond the Pentecostal and charismatic errors. They claimed that the exorcising of so-called “territorial spirits” was essential to complete the task of world evangelization; and, that God had re-established the offices of prophet and apostle with those supposedly holding these offices receiving direct messages from God for the church, and exercising divine authority over the church. This newest movement is often referred to as “Power Evangelism,” “Healing, Signs, Wonders and Miracles Evangelism,” or the “Third Wave of the Holy Spirit.” Ecumenical in scope and decidedly worldly in practice the three so-called “waves of the Holy Spirit” (Pentecostals, Charismatics and Power Evangelism teachers) have now blended into a powerful coalition which is rapidly spreading. This poses a great threat to the purity of the Church and the Gospel.
Others have dealt at length with the dangers of the Charismatic Movement and how scripturally unsound the movement is. Our purpose in this leaflet is to briefly point out some of the real dangers of this movement so that God’s people will be informed and forewarned. We realize that there are many true believers involved in this movement. But that fact in no way decreases the dangers inherent in it. It is important to look at principles, doctrines and positions and not to look solely at the individuals who compose this movement. The Word of God must be the only basis for conclusions drawn-we must not judge by personal relationships or prejudice.
The CHARISMATIC MOVEMENT Is Dangerous Because…
1. It accepts tongues, interpretation of tongues, visions, dreams, prophecies, etc., as being messages from God to His children. This is a grave danger. Once you accept “extra-biblical messages” (those which are in addition to the Bible but not necessarily contrary to the Bible per se) it is not long before you will be accepting “anti-biblical messages” as being valid (those which directly contradict God’s Word) . The Charismatic Movement has done and is doing exactly that. In reality, all extra-biblical messages are anti-biblical messages because God’s Word specifically warns against adding to the Scriptures (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18, 19). The Charismatic Movement defends these extra-biblical, anti-biblical messages on the basis that, “New winds of the Holy Spirit are blowing.” They say, “Who knows what the Holy Spirit may do?” Let no one forget, however, that the Word of God is a completed revelation and was given by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19). We can be sure of one thing-the Holy Spirit will never contradict Himself. It was the Holy Spirit Who warned about adding to the Word of God. Therefore, those who add to God’s Word cannot claim to be authorized or empowered by the Holy Spirit.
2. It encourages its followers to stay in apostate Protestant churches as well as Roman Catholic churches and other churches which preach and teach a false gospel by asserting that if the supposed “gifts of the Spirit” are present in false religious systems then joining them in evangelism, worship, service, etc., must be an acceptable ministry. God’s Word plainly tells believers that those who preach another gospel are “accursed” (Galatians 1:6, 9) and that those who fellowship with false teachers are partakers of their evil deeds (2 John 10, 11). Satanic deception through false tongues, miracles, and the like help to bring together what God’s Word declares must be kept separate. The Charismatic Movement is promoting the Ecumenical Movement and the Roman Catholic Church by overlooking serious doctrinal error, with eternal consequences, for the sake of “unity in the Spirit.” This is very dangerous!
3. It sells and promotes, like the New Evangelical Movement, most of the new Bible versions and translations, many of which add to or take from the Word of God. This is also very dangerous because it destroys confidence in the written Word by causing the reader to question the divinely preserved text. The new Bible versions water down and actually change vital teachings of the Word of God as well.
4. It places unscriptural and undue emphasis on physical healing. This stumbles many precious believers who are falsely taught that it is always God’s will to heal. Both the Scriptures and experience teach that God may use physical afflictions for refining, correcting and chastening (Hebrews 12:3-11; Job 23:10). God’s Word teaches that He can heal anyone, anytime, but that He does not heal everyone, every time. Paul learned this truth when God explained why his thrice repeated prayer for personal healing was not granted (2 Corinthians 12:1-10); and, also, when one of Paul’s faithful helpers, Trophimus was unable to accompany him because of sickness (2 Timothy 4:20). When we pray for healing for ourselves or others, we must never forget that such healing is always God’s prerogative based upon what He knows is best for each of His children, not upon “demanding” or “claiming” such healing as do the Charismatics.
5. It, unlike its predecessor, Pentecostalism, fosters and encourages a spirit of worldliness in the church and in the individual believer. Instead of striving for true holiness and Godliness in speech, dress, hair, music, entertainment, etc., the Charismatic Movement prides itself in using worldly means to entertain their own and attract the lost. This is also very dangerous. Read 1 John 2:15-17.
6. It encourages women to forsake their God-given place in the home and in the Church. This results in disorderly homes and disorderly churches with women assuming places of leadership in direct violation of the Word of God. It is strange, inconsistent and sad to hear Charismatics using the fourteenth chapter of First Corinthians to justify speaking in tongues as a gift of the Spirit for our day when that very same chapter says plainly “Let your women keep silence in the churches… ” (1Corinthians 14:34). To countermand God’s command to women is dangerous- for women, for the home and for the Church.
7. It promotes and encourages what is called “coming under the power,” a dangerous practice in which certain leaders “lay hands” on people causing them to “swoon, faint slump down, experience the power” etc., thereafter remaining unconscious or semi-conscious for several seconds or longer. The Charismatics attempt to use John 18:6 to justify this practice which is another example of how they twist the Scriptures to justify and defend their practices. There is no Scriptural precedent, example or command for this experience. Hypnotic suggestion and the desire for an extra-biblical experience opens one up to either pretended or demonically energized results which parallel those of the occult.
8. It glories in “miracles” and often uses a “miracle” as the basis for validating a person’s message or practices, even though the message or the practice is unscriptural. This is dangerous since the Scriptures plainly teach that the last days will be days of great deceitfulness (2 Timothy 3:13). God warns that the coming of the Anti-Christ will usher in a time of “all power and signs and Iying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-11). We read in Revelation 13:3 that the deadly wound of the Beast was healed and that the “Second Beast” deceived men by the use of miracles, even having the power to give life to an image (Revelation 13: 18). The validation of a man’s message and methods today is not “miracles”-it is conformity to the Word of God. It is dangerous to accept any other basis of judgment. The false notion that miracles must accompany the preaching of the Gospel in order for the lost to be saved today is definitely unbiblical. The one true Gospel of salvation by faith alone in Christ Jesus is still, and will ever be, God’s power “unto salvation to every one who believes the simple Gospel message (Romans 1:16). Undoubtedly multitudes today are trusting in a charismatic “experience” for their salvation due to these false teachings rather than upon the sure promises of God’s Word. (John 1:12; 3:36; 5:24; Romans 10:13-17).
9. It confuses and misleads believers as to Scriptural teachings concerning prayer. Using Matthew 18:19 (…if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing. . . ) as a basis for claiming healing, financial blessings or solution of any problem, they ignore what God says in 1 John 5:14,15 (…if we ask any thing according to his will….).The charismatic teaching that it is never God’s will for any believer to be ill or in trouble of any kind is neither Scriptural nor is it actually true in their own ministries and personal experiences. Yet, over and over again, Charismatic leaders say to people in public meetings or to multitudes over the airwaves, “Let’s agree together that every person listening or watching be healed-in Jesus’ name.” Are all such healed then or later? Of course not! By twisting and misapplying the Scriptures, they are deceiving millions.
10. It promotes dangerous and unscriptural teachings concerning the present power of Satan and the believer’s attitude toward this “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). Charismatic leaders whip their audiences into a veritable frenzy as they speak of binding Satan, casting him out of individuals and into the pit, etc. They talk of “stomping on Satan” and “chasing him out of this world.” Such teaching completely ignores the believer’s Scriptural instructions. We are to “resist Satan” (1 Peter 5:8,9); to put on “the – whole armour of God” that we may be able to stand against his wiles and quench all his fiery darts (Ephesians 6:10-17), not forgetting the Scriptural example of Michael the archangel’s attitude when dealing with the devil (Jude 9).
We firmly believe that “speaking in tongues” ceased with the completion of the Canon of Scripture (1 Corinthians 13:8). We firmly believe that it is wrong to teach believers to tarry for or seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Bible clearly teaches that all believers have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13) and that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ are not His at all (Romans 8:9b).
We firmly believe that the erroneous teachings of the Charismatic Movement have obscured many true and blessed teachings regarding the ministry of the Holy Spirit Who convicts the world of sin (John 16:8-11), intercedes in prayer to the Father on behalf of the believer (Romans 8:26, 27); comforts, teaches and guides believers into the truth of the Word (John 14:15-26; 16:7, 13); and Who has “sealed [us] unto the day of Redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit has a blessed and important ministry in the life of every believer and we dare not neglect, belittle or pervert this wonderful ministry. The Holy Spirit uses the written Word which He gave through the apostles and prophets to guide us into all truth. The Holy Spirit will never lead us to do or say anything contrary to the Bible, God’s Holy, inerrant, infallible, eternal Word (2 Timothy 3:16) .
Someone may ask, “What if the Charismatic Movement is right and you are wrong about “speaking in tongues” being for our day? Is it possible that God does want His people to have this gift now?”
The answer is clear-if “speaking in tongues” is for our day, then surely it ought to be practiced and used according to the Scriptures and not what is being practiced in the modern “tongues” movement. Not all believers could expect to have this gift (1 Corinthians 12:4-11,28-31) and “tongues speakers” should remain silent unless an interpreter was present (1 Corinthians 14:28). The one speaking had understanding of what he spoke in the unlearned, foreign language (it was never unintelligent gibberish) and unless he or an interpreter would make the message or prayer known to the rest of the church, his understanding would be “unfruitful” (unprofitable) with respect to the edification of the rest of the church (1 Corinthians 14:4-6, 12-17 cf. 12:7). Also, men were to have the leadership in the church and the women were to submit to their Spirit-enabled ministry; no woman was to speak in tongues in the churches (1 Timothy 2:11,12; 1 Corinthians 14:34). Charismatics scorn these truths.
If the Charismatic Movement were of the Holy Spirit of God, it would be exercising spiritual discernment and calling for separation from false prophets, apostate churches and unscriptural practices. It would also be exposing the false gospels and other heresies taught by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, not joining with them in evangelism, prayer and worship.
For all of these reasons and many others like them, we sound this word of warning: THE CHARlSMATIC MOVEMENT IS DANGEROUS-WATCH OUT FOR IT!
Fundamental Evangelistic Association