Worship Notes

"Defending the Word-Faith Movement" - Part 2

My article on "Defending the Word-Faith Movement" has brought more response to me than any other article I've written on my website. I wrote that article in October of '04. At the time of this writing, that article is about 19 months old. I have articles on this site dating back to July of 2000. No single article has generated more email - both positive and negative - than that one. Before going any further, let me suggest that you read that article before you read this one.

As a result of that overwhelming response, I have decided to write a sequel to that article. It seems that there are a great deal of Christians out there who are absolutely determined to hold fast to their notions that God does not want His children to experience goodness, blessing, provision, healing, success, victory, deliverance and the host of other "good and perfect gifts" that His Word says we have a Covenant right to.

Before I make some statements, let me make a couple of things clear:

1. I am not trying to stir up controversy. I am simply trying to communicate the goodness of the awesome God we serve. We call it the gospel (good news) for a reason...it's good.

2. I do not appreciate people sending me pointed, accusatory, presumptuous, and rude emails. If you cannot communicate in a calm, respectful, and Christ-like manner...don't bother me. And if your only purpose is to argue with me, and not to discuss the Word of God - I simply do not have the time. I have more important things to do for the Kingdom of God.

Having said that, let me make a few blanket rebuttals to some common responses I get from those who oppose the Word-Faith view of the gospel. Then I will make some theological statements:

1. I do not believe, nor have I ever communicated, that Christians can have whatever they want, whenever they want it, however they want it - and that all they have to do is speak it. Nor do any of the Word-Faith teachers I have listened to. They (and I) believe that the promises of God, spelled out in His Word, are promises for us that we have a Covenant right to receive by faith. If God didn't say it, then I don't believe it. But if it is in His Word (which communicates His Will), then I can with confidence receive it (1 John 5:14) because He would not have given it to me if He did not want me to have it.

2. I do not believe, nor have I ever communicated, that I can command God or dictate my relationship with Him on my own terms. God is sovereign. He is almighty. He is the creator of the Universe, and everything that ever was, is and will be. But I also know that He is a friend Who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24); that He is my Daddy (Romans 8:15); that He is the giver of only good and perfect gifts (James 1:17); and desires even better things for me than I do for my own children (Matthew 7:11). Everything that He desires for me is spelled out in His Word. So I study His Word in order to build my knowledge (and hence my faith) in Who He is, who I am in Christ, what kind of relationship I can have with Him, and what He has made available to me in my covenant with Him (Romans 10:17).

3. I do not believe, nor have I ever communicated, that we can base our theology on anything other than the Word of God. The word "theology" literally means "God's Word". So how can I base my "God's Word" on anything other than God's Word? Some have accused Word-Faith people of basing theology on personal experience and anti/extra-biblical revelation. There is nothing that I believe that I cannot back up with Scripture. And whenever I pray with someone, I make it a habit to specifically ask them what promise of Scripture they are standing on, because faith is based on the Word (Romans 10:17).

Now for a few theological statements:

1. The purpose of the Covenant that God made with us goes beyond simply being saved from eternity in hell. There are promises that we can receive on this earth as well as the promise of the afterlife. This is true because:

  • Psalm 23:6 says that goodness and mercy will follow me "all the days of my life", then I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
  • In Mark 10:29-30, Jesus told us that what we give up for the sake of the Kingdom of God will be measured back to us 100-fold "in this present age", then in the age to come - we will inherit eternal life.
  • 1 Timothy 4:8 tells us that Godliness has value for all things and holds promises both in the "present life" and the life to come.
  • Hebrews 6:9-12 spells out God's Will for us to receive those promises which "accompany salvation", and to lay hold of them the same way they were received by those who went before us - through faith and patience.

2. There is no biblical basis for the notion that healing is available for some, but not for all. This would mean that God "plays favorites". Of course, we know He doesn't (Acts 10:34). The Bible is replete with promises of physical healing throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus, Who was the supreme example of how to live a Godly life, went about healing all He came in contact with (Acts 10:38). This can mean nothing else than that God wants us to minister healing to all we come in contact with. Healing is for all.

3. The ideas that suffering, sickness, and affliction make one closer to God may be popular notions in Secular Humanism - but they are not Scriptural. In fact, those notions are a slap in the face of the Savior Who died to give us life more abundantly (John 10:10) and redeem us from the curse that is in the earth (Galatians 3:13). Those Christians who think they are being noble by holding fast to their affliction and suffering are only short-cutting their own Covenant rights. And they make those elements of the Work of the Cross a waste. In other words, if Jesus bore stripes for our healing - and we don't accept that gift - we have made those stripes a waste.

4. If you are going to stand firm on the notion that tongues and prophecy have ceased, according to 1 Corinthians 13:8, then you must hold to the notion that knowledge has ceased as well. Since we know that knowledge has not ceased, this is an extremely weak argument. You cannot pick and choose what you want or do not want to believe in the Bible. It's either all true, or it's all false. I choose to believe that it is true. You can't pick 2 out of the 3 just because those 2 don't fit your beliefs.

5. Financial prosperity is a Covenant promise that is the result of several things, among which are these:

  • Seeking God, His Kingdom principles, and His righteous as opposed to seeking the things that the pagans seek after (Matthew 6:32-33)
  • The process of applying the knowledge of God's Word to our finances. In Luke 7:22, the blind, lame, lepers, deaf, and dead all received their immediate miracle. But the poor received teaching. This is because prosperity is a learning process. This notion of prosperity being a "process" is also mentioned in Proverbs 13:11.
  • Godly prosperity comes when one realizes that our purpose on earth goes far beyond simply going to work to pay our bills and eke out a meager existence attempting to meet our own needs (Matthew 6:25). It comes when we seek His Kingdom purpose for our lives (verse 33).
  • Money was never meant to be our master. It was meant to be our slave. (Matthew 6:24)
  • Get rich quick schemes, checks from the sky, and ill-gotten gain are not God's mode of channeling provision to us (Proverbs 1:19). Nor is the idea that we can simply give an offering and wait by our mail box for unexpected checks. Most of the time God channels prosperity to us through ideas in which we have to put our hands to work so that He can bless the work of our hands. (Deuteronomy 28:12)
  • God uses what we are familiar with to prosper us. On 3 separate occasions, He used fishing to financially bless Peter - a professional fisherman (Luke 5; Matthew 17; John 21). And in Genesis 30:25 through 31:21 God showed Jacob how to prosper through shepherding, something he had been doing for 20 years.
  • Disobedience short-circuits God's blessing into our lives. (Deuteronomy 28)

Bottom line:

God is a good God. His news is good news. His gifts are good gifts. Anyone who wants to hold fast to their bondage has bought into a lie. Some do it because they think that suffering brings them closer to God. Some do it because they have a subconscious desire for attention and sympathy for their suffering. Some want attention for their "nobility" to withstand suffering. These are prideful concepts, not worthy of a Christian.

You are a child of the King of Kings - the God of the Universe is your daddy. Jesus died to bring you into a right relationship with God and to establish a Covenant by which God can pour His goodness into your life. Receive this goodness by faith, for it is His Will for you to have it. Otherwise He would not have spelled out all of these promises in His Word.