This is the year!

January 4, 2010 at 7:26 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Well, it’s about that time. The Christmas season is over and the ball has dropped to signify another year has begun. Aside from the annual commercials selling every type of weight loss machine, drink, and diet plan imaginable, there is one more thing that should be happening right about now. This time of year should also bring the beginning of all of the “prophetic words” from the numerous “pastors” and “preachers” that talk about how this is the year for ________ (insert the new, popular word/term for financial prosperity here…). This is the year of blessing, wealth, prosperity, health, overflow, abundance, and/or fullness. This is the year when that peace/love/hope/power/healing/miracle/joy you’ve been waiting for is going to happen! If you will send these men and women your seed/offering/gift in faith and believe that what they are telling you is true, oops sorry, I mean believe in faith, then you will know greater power/glory/honor/fame/money/prestige/happiness/joy/love/peace/prosperity/your best life now. All that for your best “faith seed”! Seems like a pretty good deal doesn’t it?

If it wasn’t so heretical, it would actually be kind of fun. Like biblical Mad Libs…

But, is this how it really works? My best friend and I talk about this kind of stuff all the time. Part of the reason is because I am familiar with all of this talk. I followed these kinds of people for about 4 years. In that time I believed for things that I never dreamed possible. And guess what? Some of them happened. And, some of them didn’t. My best friend says that if the gospel that you’re preaching doesn’t fit or work or make sense in the poorest of the third world countries, then it probably isn’t the gospel. And I have to agree with her. The “ministries” that promote this kind of message give me pause now. I just shake my head with sadness whenever I hear these “pastors” talking.

See, now that I have been there and gotten away from it, this kind of “preaching/teaching” leaves a bad taste in my mouth and actually makes me angry many times for a number of reasons. The first reason is the one that I mentioned above. It’s heretical. There is nothing in the Bible that says that you or I or anyone else is guaranteed health, wealth, prosperity, or a “good life” if we have enough faith. The ONLY way to have the Bible read this way is to take a number of unrelated scriptures, mix it together with a bad hermaneutic, toss in a dash of eisegesis, and then link it all together with shady, unfounded ideas that pull at the needs of untold millions and gently guide them away from the truth. This is the type of thing that Paul warned Timothy about:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these {men} also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. (2 Timothy 3:1-8)

Are we supposed to be worried about any of this? The message that these “men of God” are preaching can only work in America! (And there’s no guarantee that it will work much longer here either!) How often does the Bible say that we shouldn’t love money or keep our eyes on it because it will vanish in an instant? And yet, that is exactly what these men are doing! They are training people to fix their eyes on wealth. Many will say that their message isn’t about just financial prosperity but about “complete prosperity in every area of life”. Then why do so many of them spend countless hours on money and every conceivable way for you to get it, all with 48 verses from both old and new testaments to “back it up”? If pressed, they even begin to claim outrageous things that have no basis in the Bible. They will talk about how they expect to have money because they are little gods and God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Because of this, so do they because God is “daddy” and they’re just like Him…They will also talk about how they have the right to be “blessed” with wealth and health because Jesus was wealthy (he got gold, frankencense, and myrrh) and was never sick. He never lacked anything and didn’t so much as sniffle.  This is where I start to get mad. This is man at his most arrogant. For a sinful, wretched creation (saved or not) to stand up and boldly declare that they are anything like the Lord Jesus Christ is to utterly take leave of their senses and make themselves His equal. God’s mercy is evident in the fact that these men and women haven’t become a pile of soot and ashes on a scorched spot of the carpet on the stage. There is NO ONE like Jesus Christ! NONE! You and I at our very best couldn’t even come close to what He has always been.

Jesus Christ is God MADE FLESH. He is the culmination of everything that God set out to do from before the beginning of time. Read that again…He is the perfect union of infinite God and fallible man. He is the ONLY One who can make any claim to anything like this and for us to do so is tantamount to the darkest form of blasphemy and idolatry that there is. These “men” claim to be close to Him and know Him more intimately than many others. If they really knew Him like they say, I doubt with the utmost certainty that they would even think to utter the claims that they do on a regular basis. If they knew Him like they propose, they would walk in humility, knowing the place that they were in and realizing that there was nothing they did to get them out of that place. They would know that to think that a sinful, created man could actually “speak something into existence” is folly to say the least and more likely an indication of a gross lack of mental acuity or the onset of senility (some of these guys and gals are getting up there!).

The sad part of all of this (aside from the fact that these men have deluded themselves into thinking that their message is the gospel) is the fact that so many have been taken in by them. There are thousands upon thousands that give their last few dollars to these people hoping that this time, their “breakthrough” will come and they will have the money/fame/health/power that these charlatans have. Watch them on TV. How many of the people sitting in the audience, dressed to the nines, are failing miserably in their marriages, finances, or other areas. How many of them are wearing a facade of prosperity and health so that others won’t think that they lack faith? How many of them have heard the same preaching and been amen-ing these crooks year after year after year and have nothing to show for it execpt meager meals, broken homes, and red ink in their checkbooks? All of this while the “preachers” live in million dollar mansions, have dozens of cars, and fleece their flock for even more money to support their “worldwide ministry”. Do these “pastors and teachers” give? I’m sure they do. It helps their image.

To add insult to injury, many of these wolves also have “healing ministries” where they gather the sick together to pray for them and touch them and see God “supernatually heal” them. I know that Benny Hinn, Rod Parsley, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland, Jesse Duplantis and Jerry Savelle all talk about this. Benny Hinn travels the world “healing” the sick and lame and packs people in by the thousands so that they can experience the healing power of God. Seen on TV, the “miracle services” are truly a sight. People filling the arenas singing and praising and worshipping in order to “feel God’s presence” and “receive their miracle” (what you don’t see is the people in the back…). Throughout the event, Mr. Hinn “preaches” his message to those in attendance telling them things like “salvation and healing are one and the same thing, when you have one, you have the other”. So, if I understand him correctly, anyone who isn’t healed, isn’t saved? This is ridiculous! Paul, Timothy, and many other preachers of the true gospel suffered from maladies. Did Paul not have enough faith to be healed of the thorn in his flesh? There is something else that bothers me and it suprises me that so many people don’t seem to think about this. If Benny Hinn really could heal like he claims, why doesn’t he just make his rounds to all of the hospitals and heal everyone? Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to destroy the already weakened job market? How wonderful for all the doctors and nurses. Really though, if he could do what he says, then why travel around taking up offerings and parading it about? Why not just do the work and let God get the glory? Isn’t that what Jesus did?

Jesus didn’t go around touting Himself as a healer or miracle worker, and yet untold numbers of people thronged around Him and followed Him for miles because of the things that He did. On numerous occasions, Jesus expressly told the person healed not to say anything (they did anyway…it would be kinda hard not to, wouldn’t it?). Jesus just walked around and healed people (or RAISED THEM FROM THE DEAD). John says in his gospel that if we wrote about all of the things that Jesus did in the 3 1/2 years He ministered, there wouldn’t be enough books to contain it all. Jesus just did the work. Not only that, whenver Jesus did heal someone, it was always for one of two reasons. Jesus’ miracles were either to provide tangible proof for who He really was or to support His message of repentance and faith in order to be reconciled to God. But if “pastor” Hinn knows this, then why doesn’t he preach the same message? Why does he spend more time parading around and putting himself in the spotlight? I have a feeling that it’s because that’s all he has and that there is no substance to his ministry. And he’s not alone. In a way, I would love to be called on by God to be an Elijah to these prophets of Baal. I would love to see God be glorified and the chicanery stop… It would have to be a God calling though…

Can God heal? Of course, God can do anything He wants! Is He required to heal? NO! Especially when we try to bring a horribly uncontextual (is that a word?) scripture to Him as some sort of “promise” that He made to us and arrogantly expect Him to fulfill that “promise”. God never promised those who follow Him health or prosperity. Never. Take all the scriptures you want from both Old and New Testaments and claim them as “yours”. That doens’t mean a bit if they’re out of context or just flat out wrong. God can bring money and God can take it away. He can give health and take it away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Why can He do this? Because He’s God. He is the ONLY God and there is no other. You and are are human beings that are below God. We are less than He is and yet He loves us. Does this mean that you should pray for healing? Not at all! Pray like it’s going out of style. Believe that it can happen! But, know that it may not happen and understand why. Get your theology and understanding of God correct so that you will be able to stand in whatever life brings your way (good or bad). This year may be the best year (in the eyes of the world) that you’ve ever had….or it may be the worst. It may be the hardest, toughest, most trial filled year of your life. And at the center of it all will be your understanding of God. If you understand Him correctly, He will be your refuge and shelter in times of trouble. He will preserve you however He sees fit and help you to hang on, unless He decides that it’s your time. Then, nothing that you do will prevent that from happening. But, if you truly know God, that’s not so scary a thought…is it?

I hope and pray that you have a great year, but more so, I pray that you come to a clearer, more biblically sound understanding of who God is. This can only come through a right understanding of how He revealed Himself – the Bible…

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