"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

THE WORD-FAITH MOVEMENT (PART 3)

by A.M. Kisly

“ And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” 2 Timothy 3:15-16


Back in early November, I had started a series of articles on the Word-Faith Movement. The first article was published on November 14th, entitled “Doctrines of Men or Doctrines of God?” For those of you who would like to refresh your memory, I will refer you to the archives section of our website, where you can access and read this article along with last weeks article on Discernment Ministries.

As we begin to uncover the origins of the Faith and Prosperity doctrines, today’s article will only scratch the surface. In rushing to post this next article, the Lord has once again slowed me and reminded me of some very important things that I would like to share with you.

It is important to understand that this series of articles is not meant as a personal attack on any people or ministries.

With regards to Word-Faith teachings, I will admit that many have in some ways benefited from some of the teachings in the past, [i.e., we do need to be positive in our attitude towards Scripture, we must resist the Devil, offer our praise and worship to the Lord, pray with boldness and have faith in our God]. Of course all of this is good, however that which is good must also be holy and doctrinally correct if it is to be considered Biblical.

For those who hold to the idea that it is good enough just to be productive, positive or faithful, it is not. Some have concluded that the size of a church is the scale on which one weighs a good and faithful ministry, it is not. The standard by which we must measure all things is by the Word of God. We must be scripturally sound or we are no different than any other religion or cult in the world. We must avoid heresy or sooner or later we'll be going down the path of the devil and leading many others by the nose along with us.

Jesus taught us a very sobering message in Matthew chapter 7:

Matthew 7:21-23

21 Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

22 Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?"

23 And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."

“This proves that, with all their pretensions, they had never been true followers of Christ. Jesus will not then say to false prophets and false professors of religion, that he had once known them, and then rejected them; that they had been once Christians and then had fallen away; that they had been pardoned, and then had apostatized; but that he had never known them--THEY HAD NEVER BEEN TRUE CHRISTIANS. Whatever might have been their pretended joys, their raptures, their hopes, their self-confidence, their visions, their zeal, they had never been regarded by the Savior as his true friends. I know not a more decided proof that Christians do not fall away from grace than this text. It settles the question; and proves that whatever else such men had, they never had any true religion.” ~Albert Barnes

Doesn’t this scripture alone beg of us to be sure of the doctrines that we are heeding, that they are indeed an accurate depiction of the Word of God and not the words of man? This is why we must take a very hard look at those things which are being taught in the pulpits of our churches, and to hold them exclusively under the lens of Scripture. If in fact there are teachings which bare no semblance of what is taught in the Scriptures, it is our responsibility to bring these false and harmful teachings to light. How can we “Beware” (which is to take great care and to be very wary) of false doctrines, teachings, teachers and prophets, if we refuse to take a hard look at what is being taught and compare them to the Scriptures?

Jim emailed me recently about a book he was reading called The Truth War, by John MacArthur. I love the following quote taken from his book:

"I find myself compelled to echo the inspired words of Jude and exhort my readers who truly love Christ: you need to contend earnestly for the faith. Truth is under heavy attack, and there are too few courageous warriors who are willing to fight. When we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, believers from this generation will not be able to justify their apathy by complaining that the strife of conflict over truth just seemed 'too negative' for the kind of culture we lived in- or that the issues were 'merely doctrinal' and therefore not worthy the effort."

As Believers we are to be followers of God, students of the Word, Soldiers of the Cross and fit for the battle in which we are engaged in.

As we begin to take a deeper look into the teachings of the Faith Movement, I find it necessary to point out that there is a vast difference between ‘a faith’ and ‘The Faith’.

What is Biblical Faith?

The Bible says in Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

Biblical faith is the act of trusting and believing in what GOD HAS SAID in HIS WORD. If we believe in God, we must believe in his word. It’s plain and simple, right?

Apparently not, because so many of today’s “scholars” have taken great liberties with God’s Word. There are so many new translations that one can scarcely recognize the original text in its purest form. Add to that, a sheer laziness on behalf of today’s Christians and their fast food mentality of time spent with God. If we are not students of the Word then it is utterly impossible to discern the difference between sound doctrine and false doctrines.

Let’s not forget the warning in Revelation 22:17-19, which states:

“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

These few verses should give everyone great reason to pause…God does not take it lightly when His Word has been changed. We cannot allow ourselves to be the vessel which brings Satan’s deception and lies, for the enemy of our soul is Satan, who is out to rob, to kill and to destroy us. He deceives the multitudes, and leads them away from the One True God, who is the Creator of everything in the heavens and the earth. He seeks to diminish the finished work of Cross, and the plan of redemption through Jesus Christ our Lord.

....and, contrary to the proponents of the prosperity doctrine:

Prosperity is not a sign of true faith, for the Bible plainly teaches us that every one that is disposed to come, that has any sincere wish to be saved, is assured that he may live. No matter how unworthy he is; no matter what his past life has been; no matter how old or how young, how rich or how poor; no matter whether sick or well, a freeman or a slave; no matter whether educated or ignorant; no matter whether clothed in fine garments or in rags--riding in state or laid at the gate of a rich man full of sores, the invitation is freely made to all to come and be saved. (It amazes me the importance that has been placed on prosperity since God does not.) And isn’t this the Gospel message that is to be preached…For all of sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God….that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ…..For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosever believeth on him shall have everlasting life……With what more appropriate truth could a revelation from heaven be closed? Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Albert Barnes

Just a few more comments before we begin to look at the questionable teachings of this movement and compare them to the Scriptures.

The Bible contains the whole counsel of God — everything that will be revealed before the second coming of Christ.

It is God’s Word that we are to heed. Yes and Amen! It is God’s Word that will tell us what we should believe, NOT WHAT WE WANT IT TO SAY!

It is also vital to note that the Bible speaks of a time when there will be a great apostasy or a great falling away. The Bible tells us that apostasy would be one of the signs of the last days. TAKE HEED! In chapter 2 of 2 Thessalonians, it is very apparent that there will be a falling away from the faith. People who once believed, no longer believe. They have fallen away from ‘BIBLICAL FAITH’ (what God has said); for ‘a faith’ (anything contrary to the Bible).

Apostasy is falling away from Biblical Faith. Again, instead of believing in what God has said; it is believing in something else. It is ‘a faith’, but not THE FAITH which is based solely upon the Word of God. Apostasy means a turning away from, renunciation of our faith; or an abandonment of a previous loyalty to Biblical faith in God through Jesus Christ.

My dear friends, today the winds of doctrines are as vast as the sea, be diligent to hold fast to the Truth of God’s Word.

WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN and CAN IT HAPPEN TO ME?

In 2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

We must conclude that many are being deceived because they know not the truth; or no longer love the truth, which is the Word of God. If we are not keeping ourselves grounded in the word, we will not be able to discern truth from a lie, and thus open ourselves up to deception or worse……….a falling away.

It’s simple; we must stay in the word. Read it! Study it! Know it! So when the serpent comes and whispers in our ears, “Hath God said?” we will not be deceived.

To the skeptic, I can only ask you to be a Berean. Search the scriptures for it is the very Word of God and is our only source of TRUTH on which to judge what is of the LORD and what is not.

We must ask ourselves if what we are being taught is the same gospel message that was brought to us by our Lord Jesus Christ; or if in fact it is another gospel.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:4-5, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” A little further down in the chapter in verse 11 the Jesus is warning us again, “And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many.”

The Bible tells us that those who have believed have an obligation to tell those who are deceived that they in fact are deceived. We are to “contend earnestly for the faith”. So while this great deception and apostasy takes place, those who believe in God’s Word must warn those who have been deceived and point them back to the TRUTH in love.

That said, let’s begin.

As so often in Church history, a movement that came to popular acclaim through what many thought was “good fruit” has soon revealed its true nature as something more like a cult, with extremes of belief that brought the Name of the Lord into disrepute.

Unfortunately, it seems this was inevitable. As we have become more familiar with the New Age movement/Mind Sciences and other occultic practices we have discovered that the roots of this doctrine were firmly planted in the soil of the metaphysical cults. The errors that produced New Thought and Christian Science, has also produced the various Word Faith teachings (or Christianized version) which have been widely accepted as Christian doctrine.

For that reason, the whole content, goal and product of the various Word-of-Faith ministries must be called into question and examined in the light of Scripture. If we agree that these doctrines do in fact have their roots in the occult, then we must also agree that these same doctrines will ensnare thousands of well-meaning believers in the satanic trap of the New Age. Thus, this may very well cause many – unthinkingly – to set up a worldwide kingdom for the Antichrist?

The origins and practices of this movement coming into the Christian Church should come as a shock to all believers. Much of what Word-Faith preachers are teaching can be linked directly to metaphysical/occult teachings and practices of old. It is just another repackaging of an outward form of Christianity.

What so fascinates me is that the Church seems to be inundated with every form of “New Spirituality” or New Age theology, which of course is not Biblical, therefore cannot be joined with Christianity; so why is it?

Progressive….The world wants to be “progressive” and the Church has adopted the same theology. It is an evolution of sorts…to better ones self, to better ones world, to better ones religion. In these last days, it appears that all of society has taken hold of this new buzz word. From politicians, to environmentalists; from our universities to the pulpit…everyone wants a “progressive’ change. A change I fear is running into the arms of Satan himself. Interesting!

Yet the Bible declares that “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” Isaiah 40:8 God’s Word from the beginning stands on its own…is unchanging…and shall stand forever. AMEN!

The Bible clearly states that in the last days there would be a great falling away from Biblical Truth, and this is precisely why we must take a hard look at these teachings and compare them with the irrefutable truth of God’s Word.

Word Faith teaching- Is it a spiritual copy of the Mind Sciences?

Some of you might be wondering where I am going with this, and rightly so. Isn’t “Mind Sciences” a cesspool of occult and metaphysical ideas, the basic message of the New age Movement i.e. HUMAN POTENTIAL?

Yes it is, and I will show just how closely linked to the teachings of the Word-Faith teachers it really is.

In the next part of this article, we will begin to uncover the origins and history of these questionable teachings and practices and compare them to what I have already described New Age and occultic in nature.

In closing I want to give an example which compares the teachings of New Ager and Author, John Randolph Price and prominent teachings by Paul Youngi Cho and Kenneth Copeland. The teachings are more than similar; they are in fact the same.

New Ager and author, John Randolph Price, states in his book “The Superbeings”:

“What you think in your mind will produce in your experience. … All the Power of the Universe is within you and this Power you can have anything on earth you desire.”
(XV The Superbeings John Randolph Price 1981 Quartus foundation)

There is a new book out entitled, “The Secret” that was highly publicized by Oprah Winfrey. On page 46 of “The Secret” it states “you are the master of the Universe the law obeys you.” -- “Your wish is my command.” We are told “This law listens to everything we think and act.”

Is this God's will or the manipulation of 'forces'?

Now look carefully at the following quotes by Paul Youngi Cho, of South Korea.

For those of you who are not familiar with him, Paul Youngi Cho, of South Korea, has one of the world's largest churches, and is a very influential person in the Christian scene today.

"Through visualization and dreaming you can incubate your future and hatch the results." (The Fourth Dimension - p. 44) Paul Youngi Cho

We've got to learn how... to visualize and dream the answer as being completed as we go to the Lord in prayer. We should always try to visualize the end result as we pray." "In that way, with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can incubate that which we want God to do for us...." "God used this process of visualizing the situation to help Abraham.... By that visualization through the associated thought Abraham... could incubate his [future] children.... The main thing is that we should know the importance of visualization." (The Fourth Dimension Vol.2 pp.26-27)

"We have taught our people how to... visualize success.... Through visualizing and dreaming, you can incubate your future and hatch the results." (The Fourth Dimension, Volume Two, pp. 25-28, 68- The Fourth Dimension, p. 44)

"So men [Christians or occultists], by exploring their spiritual sphere of the fourth dimension through the development of concentrated visions and dreams in their imagination, can brood over and incubate the third dimension, influencing and changing it." "This is what the Holy Spirit taught me." (The Fourth Dimension - p. 39-44)

Now let’s take a look at the teaching from one of the leading stars of this movement. The following quotations are taken from various teachings by Kenneth Copeland.

“To prosper mentally (in your soul), you must be able to control your mind, your will and your emotions. Prosperity of the mind comes when you use the knowledge you have accumulated from the Word of God—when you are controlling your mind, instead of allowing your mind to control you.” Kenneth Copeland - Understanding Prosperity

Copeland combines his "legal" precedent for prosperity with his "mechanics" of confession to form a formula for speaking things into existence. He insists, "You have the same creative faith and ability on the inside of you that God used when he created the heavens and the earth." However, he adds that most believers are not able to make full use of their inner power because "our imagination...has been so fouled up and fathered up with wasted useless words [and] wasted useless images." Copeland, Inner Image of the Covenant, side 2

As a corrective, Copeland instructs believers to "go to the New Testament, get the words of the covenant that cover the situation that you hope to bring to pass. Build the image of that hope inside of you....Keep the word before your eyes." As examples, he uses an inner picture of an 82-foot yacht that will transform into reality in the Holy of Holies in heaven, along with a "picture [of a Bible] that came right out of me and went into the Holy of Holies," where it developed into an actual, physical object. Copeland, Inner Image of the Covenant, side 2

Copeland also claims that "when you get to the place where you take the Word of God and build an image on the inside of you of not having crippled legs and not having blind eyes, but when you close your eyes you just see yourself just leap out of that wheelchair, it will picture that in the Holy of Holies and you will come out of there." Copeland, Inner Image of the Covenant, side 2

Recognizing that his technique "sounds like that visualization they do in meditation and metaphysical practices," Copeland counters by reversing the tables. "What they're doing sounds like this," he retorts. "The devil is a counterfeiter. He never came up with anything real. That is the perverted form of the real thing. Where do you think he got it? That sucker doesn't know anything on his own. Amen." Copeland, Inner Image of the Covenant, side 2

During another occasion, however, Copeland revealingly affirms that both positive confession and creative visualization are based on the same principle: "Words create pictures, and pictures in your mind create words. And then the words come back out your mouth....And when that spiritual force comes out it is going to give substance to the image that's on the inside of you. Aw, that's that visualization stuff! Aw, that's that New Age! No, New Age is trying to do this; and they'd get somewhat results out of it because this is spiritual law, brother." Kenneth Copeland, Believer's Voice of Victory (television program), TBN, 28 March 1991

Copeland says, "Any image that you get down on the inside of you that is so vivid when you close your eyes you see it, it'll come to pass. When God came at the Tower of Babel, He said, 'Anything they can imagine, they can do.'" Copeland, Inner Image of the Covenant, side 2

He fails to note, however, that those individuals built the tower out of brick and tar (Gen. 11:3), not simply out of their imagination. Moreover, their venture incurred God's judgment (vv. 6-9). Copeland can argue and fuss all he wants, but the fact of the matter is that through such teachings he has entered the world of the occult.

In all fairness to Kenneth Copeland he is not the only teacher of these New Age mind techniques; however we will uncover more in the next posting on this series.

Remember faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the WORD OF GOD!

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