THE WORD-FAITH MOVEMENT
WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING
By: Victor T. Stephens
"For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears." (Acts 20:29-31)
Confession and Wealth (Continued)
Analysis of John 14:13-14
With respect to John 14:13-14, Word-Faith teachers claim that every believer in Christ has the privilege of attaining the desires of their heart as long as they have enough faith for it and is living a life void of unrepentant sin. Asking in Jesus' name, having much faith coupled with holy living seems to give any person the opportunity to request a blank check from God with His signature on it. With this check, one is free to purchase divine health, expensive homes, cars, and many other possessions.
Fortunately for our sake, this is not how God operates. No more than an earthy father will give his children whatever they ask for, likewise, our heavenly Father does not grant our every request. God knows what is best for His children; and thus, there are times when He will say, "No", to a request made in prayer. When God denies a request, one can be assured that it was done on account that the petition was not according to His will. Word-Faith proponents, however, deny the fact that we should pray according to God's will. As reported by Word-Faith teachers:
"Never, ever, ever go to the Lord and say, 'If it be thy will...." Don't allow such faith-destroying words to be spoken from your mouth." (Benny Hinn, "Rise & Be Healed" Page 47)
"If you have to say, 'If it be thy will or Thy will be done' if you have to say that, then you're calling God a fool...."
(Fred Price, "Ever Increasing Faith", TBN, November 16, 1990)
"It is unscriptural to pray, 'If it is the will of God.'" (Kenneth Hagin, "Exceeding Growing Faith", Page 10)
Here we have some of the most blasphemous statements imaginable spawned from the Word-Faith camp. And it is incredible how large numbers of gullible Christians have accepted this doctrine of heresy when the Word of God clearly states:
"He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, 'O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.'" (Matt. 26:39)
"But took leave of them saying, 'I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.'" (Acts 18:21)
"So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, 'The will of the Lord be done.'" (Acts 21:14)
"Making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you." (Rom. 1:10)
"Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God." (Rom. 8:27)
"That I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you." (Rom. 15:32)
"But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power."
(1 Cor. 4:19)
"And this we will do if God permits." (Heb. 6:3)
"Then I said, 'Behold I have come --- In the volume of the book it is written of Me --- To do Your will, O God.'" (Heb. 10:7)
"Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.'" (James 4:15)
"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." (1 John 5:14)
These eleven verses are among many others which overwhelmingly show it is God's will that shall be done; not our own as taught by Word-Faith teachers. It is interesting how these false teachers will allege it is God's will for believers to be wealthy, and then contradict themselves when they dispute the sovereignty of God's will; attempting to reconstitute it as subservient to man's will. It is equally interesting to note, that according to Fred Price ... Jesus, Paul and other saints of the Bible would be guilty of calling God a fool since the scriptures clearly show that they prayed according to God's will.
Now, since Jesus prayed according to God's will (Matt. 26:39), to ask in His name means that we ask according to His nature and character. Thus, when we pray with a request, we should submit our petition according to God's will (1 John 5:14). Taking this action illustrates that we are conforming to His wishes rather than our own. It is our affirmation that we have more trust in God's infinite wisdom than in our limited abilities.
Analysis of 2 Corinthians 8:9
Regarding 2 Corinthians 8:9, wealth advocates quote this verse to teach that Jesus was rich during His earthly ministry, but became poor so Christians may inherit an abundance of wealth. Without question, every Word-Faith teacher vigorously supports the notion that Jesus was financially rich. And they do so for the purpose of defending their extravagant lifestyles. Word-Faith teacher, Jesse Duplantis claims:
"Jesus rode what I like to call a Continental Donkey. One of them Cadillac Donkeys that had never been rode. You might want a car that has never been drove. You ever think about that?" (Jesse Duplantis, Share-A-Thon, September 15, 2004)
Echoing Duplantis, Fred Price states:
"The whole point is I'm trying to get you to see -- to get you out this malaise of thinking that Jesus and the disciples were poor and then relating that to you -- thinking that you -- as a child of God, have to follow Jesus. The Bible says that He has left us an example that we should follow His steps. That's the reason why I drive a Rolls Royce. I'm following Jesus' steps." (Fred Price, "Ever Increasing Faith", TBN, December 19, 1990)
John Avanzini boasts:
"Jesus had a nice house, a big house, big enough to have company stay the night with Him at the house."
(John Avanzini, TBN, January 20, 1991)
Was Jesus actually rich as claimed by the Word-Faith camp? Yes, Jesus was rich, but not in the context erroneously stated by Word-Faith leaders. On account that Jesus is God, He is rich beyond our comprehension. He owns everything and possesses infinite power. Relatively speaking, Jesus became poor when He left His throne and took the form of a suffering servant in the likeness of sinful mankind (Zech. 9:9; Phil. 2:7-8). Furthermore, not only was Jesus poor from a relative standpoint, He was also poor during His time on earth.
Let's investigate the clear evidence.
1. Mary offered a sacrifice of two turtle doves. This type of sacrifice is indicative of someone who is poor. (Luke 2:22-24; Lev. 5:7; 12:2-8)
"When the days of purification were over, the woman then either had to bring a lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or dove for a sin offering to the priests or, if she were poor, two doves or two young pigeons."
(Baker Commentary on The Bible, By: Walter A. Elwell, Page 75)
2. If Jesus was rich, why did He have to cause a coin to appear in a fishes' mouth in order to pay the temple tax for Himself and Peter? If Jesus was wealthy, why didn't He pay the tax from all the money He possessed?
"Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you" (Matt. 17:27)
3. If Jesus was rich, why did He have to receive support from His followers? And take note that Jesus received no tithes.
"Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities -- Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Johanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance." (Luke 8:1-3)
4. There are no scriptures in the Bible which state that Jesus had a "big house." Jesus states to a certain scribe in Matthew 8:20 that:
"Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." (Matt. 8:20)
5. Jesus borrowed a donkey and a colt.
"Saying to them, 'Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.'" (Matt. 21:2-3)
6. Jesus was buried in a borrowed tomb.
"Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away." (Matt. 27:59-60)
7. Archeological excavations of Nazareth from the 1950's attest a village tenanting in Jesus' day by poor people.”
(Jack Finegan, "The Archaeology of The New Testament", 1972, Pages 27-33)
In light of scripture coupled with archeological research, there is clearly no evidence that Jesus came from a wealthy family or obtained wealth during His earthly ministry. And what do Word-Faith teachers have to say about this evidence? If they don't respond with unsound threats, they will argue that Jesus became poor so that Christians may become rich (referring to the latter part of verse nine). The word "rich", however, is in reference to spiritual riches, not material wealth. As a result of Christ becoming poor, those who believe in Him are enabled to be spiritually rich through His sacrifice and redeeming work on the cross.
Let's observe the following scriptures for confirmation:
1. "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation or our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 1:4-8)
The above passage gives evidence that those who believe in Christ are enriched (to be made rich) with spiritual gifts.
(1 Cor. 12:1-11)
2. "As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." (2 Cor. 6:9-10)
The Second Book of Corinthians 6:9-10 clearly illustrates that Paul was not materially wealthy, but yet he was spiritually rich. The passage also shows that Paul imparted his spiritual riches into the lives of his followers with the aim of enriching them (spiritually).
3. "And that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory...." (Rom. 9:23)
Here, "riches" is speaking of God's grace and mercy; which are spiritual riches.
4. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ ... In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace...." (Eph.1:3, 7)
Here, we have two verses which demonstrate spiritual riches (spiritual blessings and grace) attained as believers in Christ.
5. "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man ...." (Eph. 3:8, 16)
Here, "riches" is in reference to all of God's spiritual blessings and power.
6. "To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col. 1:27)
The above verse reveals spiritual riches as the indwelling of Christ.
These six points offer iron-clad proof that Jesus became poor so that believers in Him will be made spiritually rich. There is no evidence in the Bible expressing that Christ died on the cross so that Christians would possess large bank accounts, expensive homes, cars, jets, and other possessions.
Analysis of Ephesians 3:20
Observing Ephesians 3:20, many wealth proponents employ this verse in conjunction with John 14:13-14 to demonstrate that God will fulfill all our aspirations, pending of course, if we have sufficient faith combined with a life free of unrepentant sin. No one disputes the fact that God has infinite power to do whatever He wishes, but this verse does not parallel the Word-Faith teachers' prosperity gospel.
Reading Ephesians 3 beginning at verse 14, it will be discovered that this verse is part of Paul's prayer to the Ephesian church ... a prayer which reflects a connotation of God's spiritual mission. Through the work of God in Christ, the Lord is moving in the direction of administering the riches of His glory to all believers. With the power of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit working in us, this will lead to the fulfillment of God's designed plan for the Christians' growth and edification of the church collectively. While it is true that God has the power to give us "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask," the mature believer's request should always be according to His will ... being mindful of His sovereignty.
Analysis of Philippians 4:19
Looking at Philippians 4:19, this verse is another example of scripture that Word-Faith leaders use to fortify their prosperity doctrine. To the same degree they misconstrued previous passages of scripture discussed earlier, they use this verse as a proposal that God will provide the entire range of our likings from the abundance of His riches in heaven --- contingent upon an exercise of ample faith along with repentance of sins.
One does not require much biblical knowledge to understand that Philippians 4:19 does not suggest that God will supply us with every desire of our hearts. This verse indicates that God, from His infinite resources, will supply us with all our needs; not all our desires. It should be evident that there is a major distinction between a "desire" and a "need."
Unfortunately, where idolatry and mesmerism is in the midst, common sense becomes vacant. With this type of unhealthy admiration precipitated from willfully blind sheep, Word-Faith teachers have been enabled to build their personal kingdoms, purchase expensive homes, cars, Lear jets, and other possessions that befits the uncontrolled lusts of their wildest fantasies. Then they cloak their deceit and craftiness behind such scriptures as Philippians 4:19 as well as other passages throughout the Bible.
Near the conclusion of this section, we will discover from God's Word the true and complete definition of worldly and spiritual wealth; and what it states in reference to those who teach that godliness is a means to worldly riches. In the meantime, let's examine one more passage of Scripture that Word-Faith proponents avail themselves in order to champion their prosperity doctrine.