Weren’t First Century Christians Strong Believers?

Kenneth_and_Gloria_Copeland_hosting_Believer's_Voice_of_Victory_-_2011One of the things that makes the “health and wealth” heresy so wrong is the way it distorts Scripture. If someone actually takes the ideas espoused by the “name it and claim it” preachers to their logical conclusion, you’d have to say that Stephen was a terrible Christian. I mean, if he really believed . . .

And what was Peter going on about in his first letter when he is telling the Christians in the first century that their suffering meant they were blessed?

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name . . . 19 Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. (1 Peter 4:12-16, 19)

A “fiery ordeal” was not to be considered a strange thing. The degree of suffering was to dictate the degree of rejoicing. Being reviled for the name of Christ meant you were blessed. Suffering as a Christian meant an opportunity to glorify God.

These things don’t sound anything like the belief system of these “word of faith” preachers who say, in essence, the promises from God have to first be “claimed” to become effective. So those first century Christians didn’t know this because, why? Jesus forgot to tell them? Or did they know but their faith was too weak?

When Paul said he knew how to get along in humble circumstances, to live in want, was he too weak in faith to claim the promises the health and wealthers say are there for the asking?

I think too of the prophets, who James said we should look to as examples of patience (James 5:10). Those men and I suppose women, though we don’t have their record, suffered like no other group. They were by and large at odds with their culture, sometimes hunted down and killed as they were during Ahab’s reign, and often asked by God to do things that were hard.

Take Ezekiel, for example. As part of his service as a prophet, he was rendered mute–except when he was prophesying. He also had to carry out some difficult assignments, one being the mock siege of Jerusalem. For thirteen months he had to lie on his side facing a brick. He ate only small portions of bread and had a limited supply of water. When the time was up, he flipped over and did the same for another forty days.

Where was his wealth? Or health?

Then there was Jeremiah who was thrown in prison and narrowly escaped an attempt on his life. Or how about Hosea who, by God’s instruction, married a prostitute who was unfaithful to him. Repeatedly. In what way was his life prosperous?

I said at the beginning that this word of faith system distorts Scripture, but it is wrong on so many levels. For example it elevates Man and makes God little more than a servant.

It also claims that this life now is when we are to experience the joys of our inheritance. As one writer says

Perhaps the root error of the gospel of health and wealth is that it seeks to apply a theology of future glory to the believer in the here and now. But the Lord Jesus taught a theology for here and now that both sustains believers in hard times and holds out hope for tomorrow.

The false claims of the word of faith proponents distort God’s true promises and raise doubts in the hearts of anyone who has prayed believing and NOT been healed.

Clearly, God, not the words some person speaks, holds power. No amount of “positive confession” is acceptable as an excuse to order God to do whatever a person wants.

This belief system is not all that different from the lottery. Lots of poor people are putting in their money with the hope of getting rich. Well, someone is getting rich all right, but it isn’t the needy.

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14 Comments

  1. Right on Rebecca!!

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  2. I’m really sad to see you just making a blanket statement about this belief among the church.

    Because I would be dead if not for the teachings of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland (who you picture there), and for the “name it and claim it” theology you’re condemning as heresy. “Name it and claim it” is a gross understatement of what acting on faith really is, but the core theology is correct.

    Didn’t God Himself “name it and claim it” when He spoke the very world into existence?

    He asked the children of Israel to claim it in the Old Covenant:

    “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore CHOOSE LIFE, that both thou and thy seed may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19

    Choosing and claiming aren’t all that different.

    The act of speaking words of faith to bring forth God’s power is a proven theology is scripture time and time again.

    “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” ~ Proverbs 18:21

    As for prosperity … which circumstance would bring more people to God? A poor person who can’t even feed their own family, and can’t promise a potential convert the comfort of that for their family should they choose God, or the person who is prosperous, yet choose to give away everything to care for the needy?

    How are we supposed to give if we have nothing?

    What about 3 John 1:2?

    “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

    What about Jesus Himself, who NEVER turned away anyone who came to Him for healing? Not even the Phoenician woman, who was content to take the crumbs from under the table rather than “go hungry”.

    Not even me. Because when I said I should be dead, I meant it. I was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition when I was 15 years old. The cardiologist recommended that I get pacemaker. After much prayer, God told me He would give me a miracle, if I was willing to pursue Him for it.

    Three years later, all tests came back that my heart was perfectly NORMAL.

    That is only one of the instances where satan has tried to steal my life.

    It wasn’t a matter of “coercing” God into enacting my will. It was a matter of bringing myself – spirit, soul, and BODY – into submission to God’s will.

    For those who have prayed and not been healed? I would first ask this:

    Did they pray IF it be God’s will, or did they pray believing it WAS God’s will, no matter what the circumstances said? Because I’ve seen it both ways many times in my life – both in myself, and in others. Almost always, in the first case, it ends in not receiving a healing.

    As for the first Christians – their faith was not less, or different, than ours. Do you really think Christ would have denied healing to one of the twelve, were they to come to Him needing it? He didn’t deny Peter’s mother-in-law. And in His ministry, well … they had enough money to actually NEED a treasurer. Jesus never left anyone to go hungry, either. Remember the loaves and fishes?

    We should not be surprised at trials and tribulations in our own lives. But many times God has a way of escape out of them. There is an enemy seeking to destroy us, and to destroy our witness in the world. Why are we going to let him destroy us before we can finish God’s work?

    We do agree on one thing, though:

    “Clearly, God, not the words some person speaks, holds power. No amount of “positive confession” is acceptable as an excuse to order God to do whatever a person wants.”

    Yes, the power is God’s – and God’s alone. But He has given us access to that power through Jesus, and since we are His ambassadors in the world, it is our responsibility to speak His word.

    It’s not about getting what we WANT. It’s about getting what God has promised to us so we can reach more people for Him.

    God has already made good on His promises. It is up to us to receive them now.

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    • Hi, Rebekah, thanks for taking the time to interact with this post. I don’t pretend to understand all there is in the positive confession way of thinking. I’ve not studied it in depth.

      I will say, your first statement is one of the reasons that I believe this approach is in error. You said:

      Because I would be dead if not for the teachings of Kenneth and Gloria Copeland (who you picture there), and for the “name it and claim it” theology you’re condemning as heresy.

      I realize you qualify this towards the end of your comment, but taken at face value, it credits two people and their teachings for what God has done.

      Before I was aware of this man centric aspect, I thought the main issue was taking verses out of context and ignoring other clear passages. I still see that as a problem.

      For example, since you mention Jesus, it’s important to note that he told the rich young ruler to sell everything and follow Him. Why would He say that if what He wanted for the man was to make him rich?

      As far as Him healing people, He sometimes did it with a touch, sometimes by telling the person to do something (“stretch out your hand,” “take up your bed”), sometimes by doing something Himself (making clay and smearing it on the blind man’s eyes), and sometimes by the needy person doing something (touching the hem of his garment). In other words, the idea that there is power in the words, seems to contradict Scripture. The true is, there’s power in Jesus and He can heal or not because He is sovereign.

      You brought up the issue of people who claimed God’s promises and weren’t healed, suggesting as my post title does that they don’t have enough faith or the right kind of faith. How about a paralyzed person who told her friends she would walk again, who expected day after day to experience the healing she had prayed for and believed to be hers. I’m talking about Joni Eareckson Tada, and she related her story in at least one of the books about her life. I would suggest it has required far greater faith for her to have ministered to others these past 46 years from her wheelchair than to believe God would heal her–which He clearly did not do despite her faith that He would.

      The fact is, she still believes God will heal her–just not in this life. And that’s the thing that I think the positive confession people are missing (besides the Scriptures that are contrary to what they believe and the power of God, not of their words)–that the promises they believe in are not necessarily for the now but might be for the then.

      We can’t deny that something changed when Jesus came–the Holy Spirit lives in the lives of His followers; there’s a breakdown in the barriers of race, gender, ethnicity, and a oneness in Christ; we are no longer enslaved to sin; and we are graciously redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, to name a few. But there are other things that haven’t changed. People still die, the lion and lamb are not lying down together, there are still tares among the wheat, and tears on people’s faces. In other words, there are things that won’t be fulfilled until Christ returns and takes up His rightful rule.

      The positive confession folks seem to have the one confused with the other. When they convince others who then fall into debt or have a loved one die of cancer or when someone who is healed relapses, there can be a great deal of disillusionment.

      The same things happen to me, too. People I love have died, some are in financial ruin, and others have recovered only to learn their cancer is back. But there’s no disillusionment–there’s a witness of God’s great mercy and provision in the midst of suffering.

      If you’ve never read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, I suggest you do. There’s a great example of women (she and her sister–especially her sister) of faith, and yet Betsy died. Jim Elliott, too, and the four other martyrs who were with them. They had great faith that God would bring the indigenous people to Christ, and He did, through the missionaries’ deaths and the forgiveness those wives expressed.

      God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours. It’s presumptuous for us to believe we have figured out what is best for us, when in fact what is best might be our suffering.

      I think of this family from my church–the husband dying of ALS. I’ve never heard a more powerful testimony or seen greater faith. I encourage you to watch their video for yourself: http://vimeo.com/17607872

      Becky

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      • I find this rebuttal and the subsequent ripping afterwards to exhibit the problem that is within the post in general.

        To begin with, you said that you have not studied out about the Copelands (and Jerry Savelle and Jesse Duplantis and Creflo Dollar and you see my point) and don’t know about all of the positive aspects of “Word of Faith” teachings. Then to be fair you don’t really have the right to criticize it. Because I know the Copelands teachings very well and one of your points about it being Kenneth centric is absurd. If you listen to them they are always giving God the glory. ALWAYS. In fact, there logo says “Jesus is Lord” on it. This is not a couple (or group) who is trying to bring glory to themselves or say that they do it or even are trying to steal your money. And while we are on that topic, I live within easy driving distance of their ministry headquarters and have several members of my church work at their place. I don’t think you realize even a tenth of how much they give away or help the community or feed people. They exemplify Jesus’ words about when I was hungry you feed me and when I was thirst etc. And I can attribute in my own life a much deeper knowledge of the word and my purpose in life to those who teach the “Word of Faith” teachings.

        I want to point out one thing about the rich young man, money was his god and therefore an idol. You can see this in his attitude after Jesus told him to sell everything. In fact, that sounds like the false claims levied against the prosperity gospel people. Jesus was not concerned one bit about money (partially because a real careful study of the word shows that Jesus had money) but about the man’s spirit. He was concerned about the idol in his life. And that is why he would have to give that up. It is no different than the man who is a lustful womanizer who needs to give that up to completely follow Jesus. That was the point.

        As to why some are healed and some are not or some die and some go on, no one has that answer. What the “Word of Faith” teaches is a belief in the creator that He can heal you and to hold on to that even when healing doesn’t come. If healing never came, tell me where the issue would have been with the person believe strongly in God through it all.

        Now, all that said, I will point out that while there are good people in the word of faith stuff there are bad ones as well or ones who start out good and then fall in one way or another. But this is in all of Christianity and is nothing new. Think of Jimmy Swaggart or Jim and Tammy Baker or any one of the pastor’s who recently committed adultery. Does that mean that all of those people didn’t affect live, didn’t have Jesus at the center of what they were doing (and I mean the ministry part and definitely at the start). Take the pastor who commits adultery. When he got saved and charged off to Bible college, was he an evil agent of satan. No. When he began his ministry and even the church he was pastoring was he a plant of the devil. No. The enemy got in and twisted him just enough to have him eat the forbidden fruit. So none of us are perfect and we all have our failings. To define an entire group by the actions of a few or one is something the media and the enemy does to discredit Jesus as a whole. And I guess this is where my being upset at this article begins. We should be lifting each other up. As long as we have all declared Jesus as lord then we should be uniting and helping each other as we gather and stand for what the Bible says. Not spending time picking apart whether or not Word of Faith is good or are Catholics going to heaven or are Baptist really saved etc. We should embrace that the creator made us all different and in that we are each reached differently with the Gospel and embrace each other and our differences. At least within those who call on the name of the Lord and are saved.

        One last thing, let’s flip this over for a moment. One of the friends that I have that woks a Kenneth Copeland ministries spends the majority of his day answering phone calls and leading people to Jesus. How is that bad? Also, did you know that until recently (about the last 10 years) Kenneth and Gloria refused to take offerings and money. Even now, they don’t take a dime from what is donated.

        Anyway, I find this post sad. You have an audience and instead of spending time building the body up in love you are seeking to create dividing lines and split it apart.

        And now I have rambled on for far more than I intended to do. 🙂

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      • Hey, Patrick, thanks for joining the discussion. I’m going to have to take your comment piecemeal–sort on time this week, so I’ll get in my response ASAP.

        First, I apologize if my answer to Rebekah came across as “ripping.” It certainly wasn’t meant to be that. I disagree with the positive confession point of view and think its basic tenets are a distortion of what God says in His word. I won’t pretend anything different, but at the same time I don’t want to come across as though I’m an attack dog unwilling to listen or to reason things out.

        In that light, let me mention that I didn’t say I had not studied out the positive confession point of view but rather that I haven’t done so in depth. There’s a difference in my mind. I have done some study–enough to see things with which I disagree, things which I believe distort Scripture. And I think I have some cogent arguments against the positions Rebekah represented and that you’re representing. I’m willing to engage you on those points if you’d like. I can’t do so if you don’t think I have a right to criticize a viewpoint with which I disagree, however.

        You’re right that I don’t know Jerry Savelle and Jesse Duplantis but not right that I’m not familiar with Creflo Dollar, so do two out of four earn me a passing grade? 😉

        Becky

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        • You miss my point. I am not saying you don’t have the right to an opinion and that the opinion can be different than mine. In fact, you even have the God given right to criticize. That point is not in question.

          I guess I should put it this way. Just because you can criticize a section of our christian faith should you?

          I have defended what I believe on numerous occasions and if you would like a healthy debate, I can do that. But what I wonder over all is should we be busy expending energy debating when people need to hear the Gospel. When people walk the streets who are unsaved should be arguing if we believe one section has it right or wrong. Regardless of how you believe about the Copelands or any of the faith preachers or their gospel, I ask you are they reaching people with the Gospel? Are they bringing Jesus to people? And the answer is yes.

          When Kenneth or Gloria or Jesse or Jerry speak in places where they know that the majority of their audience is nonbelievers their message is focused on testimonies and sharing. The word of faith messages only come when they are speaking at believers conventions to believers about strengthen their faith. Obviously you have a different viewpoint on how to strengthen the faith of believers and that is fine. But we must remember the great commission is to seek and save the lost. This was my point about criticizing. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

          And I brought this up because your initial post featured a picture of one couple while your words were more on the topic. I think that caused an impression that you are against this couple as much as you are not for the message. And that would be wrong. Taking a second look at your post, I see that I probably inferred a bunch.

          So all this said, if you want to go point for point, I can. But what would it serve? I mean chances are we will end with a “Agree to disagree” stance. I have seen far to much to not believe what I believe and know there is power in the words we speak. I dare say that you seem confident in what you believe and that is far and honestly awesome. Far too many people don’t know why they believe nor or confident in what they believe and when questioned back down.

          Anyway, I can go on for another sixty or seventy thousand words 🙂 I figure I should stop and give you a chance to speak 🙂

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          • Ha! Thanks, Patrick. I tend to go on a bit too. 😉

            The reason I bring up this issue is because I think God’s reputation and that of HIS word (as opposed to OUR word) are at stake. As I intimated in the second part of my answer to your first post, I care deeply about the Truth of His revelation. I don’t want to see it distorted or swapped out for “a different gospel.”

            You said when these preachers are speaking to nonbelievers “their message is focused on testimonies and sharing,” but I wonder why it isn’t focused on Christ and Him crucified. Paul said that he knew nothing when coming to these unsaved people except those two things.

            For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

            I don’t want to see the gospel diluted by Man’s ideas.

            Have you ever asked why, if this positive confession/prosperity gospel is true, it took nearly two thousand years for the Church to figure it out?

            Re. the picture–I went to a public domain sight in search of “televangelist.” As I recall, I came up blank. But in my research Kenneth Copeland’s name surfaced as a leading figure in the views I had discussed, so I searched for a public domain image and found the one in this post. I purposefully left off their names, but I guess they are so recognizable, that didn’t matter.

            Again, Patrick, my intent is not to slam any particular individuals but to challenge what I understand to be a deceptive use of Scripture–as I said to Rebekah, I think some of the promises prosperity preachers use are not intended for the here and now or not intended for the purposes to which they have been applied. I base this on the context in which they are set and the numerous verses that give a contrary position, as I mentioned in my part 2 response to your first comment. 🙂

            Becky

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      • As long as we have all declared Jesus as lord then we should be uniting and helping each other as we gather and stand for what the Bible says.

        That’s the point, Patrick: I DON’T think the word of faith/positive confession/prosperity gospel folks stand for what the Bible says. You tell me about all kinds of good works that these people you admire do, but neither you nor Rebekah have shown me from God’s word how this belief system resolves with the passage I quoted from Peter or how it fits with what James said about looking at the prophets as examples of suffering and patience, or what Paul said about suffering in 2 Corinthians (“For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ”) or in Philippians (“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings,”) or Colossians (“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake”) or 2 Timothy (“join with me in suffering for the gospel”).

        What about Paul’s clear statement that he had learned to be content in whatever circumstances he was?

        I know how to get along in humble means and I know how to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. (Phil. 4:12)

        I’m just scratching the surface here, but this very quick look would make any thinking person wonder how those verses can be resolved with the idea that God wants true believers to be healthy, wealthy, and prosperous all the time in this life. They simply don’t square.

        So my concern, Patrick, is for the reputation of God’s Word. We ought not ignore the parts we find hard or reason them away. But if we accept them, that means the health and wealth way of looking at this world is in error.

        Becky

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        • Please do not think I do not have the highest respect for God’s Word. I do. I can tell that you do as well.

          What I was meaning was that I can bring countless hours of audio/video of these preachers sharing the Gospel (salvation message) and millions responding. I was saying that this is the most important part and this they get exactly as you or anyone else does. I was speaking on finding common ground to start from and that common ground is the Gospel/Salvation message.

          Then we can agree to disagree on other points. No one on this planet is perfect so that means that no matter how hard you or I try there will be things we will get wrong. Couple that with the infinite depths of God and his Word that there are going to be parts that neither of us either understand nor get correct.

          As for laying down scripture, I could. The thing is I am not trying to convert you as much as I am just trying to get more people to focus on what unites us then what separates us.

          I guess this is the question. Whether you believe in whatever message, do you see these people as saved but misguided or not saved preying on the flock (wolf in sheeps clothing) because this will make a big difference in whether or not we could find common ground.

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  3. Like other debates, this debate seems to be really over three things:

    1) How we read and understand the Bible, God’s Word.

    I would ask “prosperity” or “health and wealth” folks (as I ask Christians who have other beliefs I hold to be false): do you tend to read Scripture “piecemeal,” as it its contents were a series of separate thoughts, proverbs, or even theological/practice concepts strung together? Or do you try to see any verse, passage, chapter, section, and book as part of the entire Epic Story that God has authored?

    Here’s what I mean. When talking with folks who believe any variety of “word/faith” or prosperity teaching, I like to try a simple test that has (so far as I can tell) nothing to do with the “prosperity” topic, much less any particular names that have understandable emotional attachment.

    1. “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says. What does this mean?

    2. Scripture says “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matt. 18:18). What immediately comes to your mind upon reading this phrase?

    3. In the King James Version, 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” What is the first thing that comes to mind upon reading this verse?

    In a moment my reason for asking these will make sense. Who wants to try for an answer?

    2) What the point of the Bible is — Who/who its Story’s hero(es) are.

    Who is the hero of the Bible?

    How does this hero accomplish his goal? Any great story should be clear about this, and God’s true Story clearly shows its hero’s mission.

    Knowing this identity and mission, what in our thinking should change?

    3) What the “chief end” is to which God is working all things.

    Ultimate challenge: What is the chief end of man?

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    • To jump in and answer some of your questions:

      To begin with, I do not read the Bible piecemeal. But I do see value in the Bible on a verse by verse basis as well as in context and so forth. I think there is tremendous depth to the Bible just like Jesus did when he compared himself to Jonah or used a single scripture to rebuke as he did in Matthew 19 where he took a single verse from the OT and expanded its meaning greatly. Understand that while I see value in each scripture individually there are many that can not be singled out and used alone because it can and would distort the meaning of said verse.

      Anyway on to your questions:

      1. “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says. What does this mean?

      Let me answer this one with an example. I wanted to go to a writers conference but couldn’t make it due to car situations and had only one friend going. The person who was going was a young single lady that is known to be promiscuous. She offered to give (a married man of now 22 years and this was about a year and a half ago). I knew how this would look even though nothing would happen and I declined. I would have attempted to explain to this lady but she would not have understood. Why did I do that? Because it would “look” bad with me, a married man, going somewhere with a loose young woman. Now if my wife was going as well or if she was married and her husband was going then it would not have appeared wrong.

      In short, I believe that this verse, and several in that passage, are informing me to avoid situations that would give the appearance that I was doing evil (not Godly) things like how it would have looked to my neighbors with me traipsing off with this young lady if I had.

      2. Scripture says “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matt. 18:18). What immediately comes to your mind upon reading this phrase?

      The context here is with respect to when you are going to a brother who is sinning which would imply that we would be able to bind things that are causing this brother to sin. Of course, that would only work if he repents.

      Interestingly, in Matthew 16 this same phrase is used when Jesus is speaking to Peter about the church that will be built through him. I know that the Catholics believe that at the very least the authority and power given to Peter when the church was started has been handed down to each pope since then. Bringing the question was this just for Peter or was this for the whole church.

      When you add in Mark 16 and Matthew 28, it seems that Jesus was empowering and charging the believers to do the work of the Father and not one individual or one entity.

      So, in short, I believe that this means that you have spiritual authority to bind things both spiritual and physical that can cause people to sin. Like demons for example.

      3. In the King James Version, 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” What is the first thing that comes to mind upon reading this verse?

      Ahhhhh, I love this passage of scripture.

      6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

      9 But as it is written:

      “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
      Nor have entered into the heart of man
      The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

      10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

      This passage talks about the mysteries of God that he reveals to us through His spirit to our Spirit and that it is freely given. Things like words of wisdom or words of knowledge or discernment or prophecy or a great many other things. I should point out that besides being a faith man I am also a charismatic man as well. So, I also believe this speaks of praying in tongues and receiving revelation.

      This may not be what you wanted on this passage but I have studied this passage at some great length including how it intertwines with other scriptures. So you are not going to get a simple answer on this one. Sorry.

      As to who is the hero of the Bible, it is God probably more to the point Jesus. He is the one on the heroes journey to which he saves his bride. The ultimate goal is that non should perish but all come to everlasting life. However, we know that will not happen but that is the goal that God would have us striving for.

      I guess that is it for now. Curious what you were expecting 🙂

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    • Hey back, Patrick,

      I’m grateful for the regard for Scripture you’ve shown. I certainly agree that each of its verses has merit on its own, yet must be understood in context. Now I can’t help but wonder whether some of the “word faith” teachers Becky has mentioned here have that same view as you’ve demonstrated. Do they take care to read the verses in multiple contexts: the immediate context (e.g., Israel or the original readers), the textual context (what did the Author and authors want to talk about?), and context for us today?

      That’s not what I hear from many of these teachers. For example, they will read a passage in which God promises a conditional covenant with His people Israel, a covenant which Israel breaks repeatedly — meaning God continues into His always-planned New Covenant under the death and resurrection of Christ. It might mean He wants us to prosper materially here on Earth. And it might mean we get martryed in a foreign land. Or deal with an illness here. Or suffer poverty in life.

      You would likely agree with me that this New Covenant means things. It means we must read verses about the old, to His original Israel, with the New Covenant in mind. It means we cannot skip immediately to “this applies to me” without first determining “this applies to them.” Christians may disagree on the exact differences, to be sure. But we should at least try. Do “word faith” folks try?

      The one I heard on the radio the other day wasn’t trying. He was reading — more like summarizing — bits of texts about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the the founding members of the Old Covenant. Yet this preacher was appling the covenant promises God made to them specifically as if they apply to everyone else. This is flagrant out-of-context mishandling of Scripture. It’s not like what you tried to demonstrate in your response. What would you say about this?

      Finally, I would have only a few quibbles with your replies. 🙂 Those verses are often mishandled far worse, though. For that I’m also thankful — but really, it’s the heart to respect God’s Word that I’m sure honors God directly, and glorifies Him here.

      1. On “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”

      This is one I used to think meant what you said: that we should avoid doing things that “appear to be” evil. But brother, you seem to regard “word faith” teachers in a positive light. I do not. This “appears to be evil” to me. Should you stop doing that?

      (Of course, I believe you should, but because these teachings are actually false, not only “appear to be” false!)

      1 Thessalonians 5:22 in the KJV actually meant “avoid actual evil wherever it appears.” If evil appears, avoid it. Yes, I think there’s wisdom in avoiding situations that do give the appearance of sin, but that’s not what this text is saying.

      Again, for situations that could lead to temptation or rumors, such as the one described, I think there are other Scripture references for that. But 1 Thess. 5:22 doesn’t speak to that.

      By the way, I’m sure that’s why my sister here wanted to “test” the views of “word faith” teachers. They’re not off-limits to that.

      The reason why I bring it up is, again, it’s often misunderstood. As a co-editor with my sister Rebecca at Speculative Faith, we often hear this reference cited as a reason discerning Christians cannot, say, enjoy the “Harry Potter” book or film series to the glory of God. “Even if it’s not actually evil,” they may concede, “we should still Avoid The Appearance of Evil.” But the main reason those fantasy stories, and some other things, “appear” to be evil is because they’ve been slandered and stigmitized by Christians. And if we tried to practice this ethic all the time, we’d frankly not be able to do anything — not even quote Scripture or apply God’s truths to life, which to our pagan culture “appears” to be evil.

      On “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matt. 18:18).

      Loved your explanation, which is a lot deeper than most you’ve read. At least, I loved it at first! Nothing in here is addressing Catholic church polity, much less a notion that “you have spiritual authority to bind things both spiritual and physical that can cause people to sin,” such as demons. Jesus never spoke about “spiritual warfare” against demons here. I hear this verse often used as proof of “binding Satan” or “binding demons” (and who would then “loose” a demon anyway?), but it’s only about working God’s will on Earth in the context of reconciliation work.

      On “Eye hath not seen.” Thank you, thank you, for reading this as being about the mysteries God has revealed. It’s so often used as a proof-text about The Mysteries of Heaven. At the same time, I read no hint about “words of knowledge” or any of that here. (Whether it’s endorsed elsewhere in Scripture is another issue.) Clearly Paul is instead talking about the Gospel, and the whole plan of God’s from eternity past to offer Christ as the substitute for man’s sin.

      On the Hero of the Bible and God’s chief end.

      As to who is the hero of the Bible, it is God probably more to the point Jesus.

      Agreed and amen.

      He is the one on the heroes journey to which he saves his bride.

      Ditto. I wonder if “word faith” teachers would say the same, though. Their teaching makes much of the “bride” and her members’ “hero’s journeys” and little of Christ’s Hero’s journey.

      The ultimate goal is that non should perish but all come to everlasting life.

      I would say it’s bigger than that. Any theology about God’s chief end must explain not only why we evangelize, but why we should enjoy things like wonderful stories and masterful music.

      However, we know that will not happen but that is the goal that God would have us striving for.

      That’s another reason why “evangelism” is not God’s chief end, or ours, but only a means to that chief end. Web-search the phrase for its origin and what I’m getting after. This changes things. And it should challenge those who believe “word faith” teaching is compatible with Scripture, the same Scripture that we’re both trying to handle rightly, but such teachers do not.

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      • Gotta head off to a meeting for work. I just wanted you to know that I will reply.

        Now I can’t help but wonder whether some of the “word faith” teachers Becky has mentioned here have that same view as you’ve demonstrated. Do they take care to read the verses in multiple contexts: the immediate context (e.g., Israel or the original readers), the textual context (what did the Author and authors want to talk about?), and context for us today?

        To answer, no. Not all teachers of the “Word of Faith” or for that matter any of the different sects of Christian faith have the same respect. Many do use scriptures out of context and twist things to suit their need. I wish that were not the case but it is what it is. And yes, I do avoid these people.

        I will reply more later.

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        • Wow. Sorry. Been busy. Didn’t realize it was going to be this long before I got back to replying.

          I’m grateful for the regard for Scripture you’ve shown. I certainly agree that each of its verses has merit on its own, yet must be understood in context. Now I can’t help but wonder whether some of the “word faith” teachers Becky has mentioned here have that same view as you’ve demonstrated. Do they take care to read the verses in multiple contexts: the immediate context (e.g., Israel or the original readers), the textual context (what did the Author and authors want to talk about?), and context for us today?

          I think the answer to this is more complicated than my original statement The problem is that we have basically two camps with the “Word of Faith” preachers. And within those camps, there are different answers. The first camp, are very vigorous in their study of the Scriptures. They spend a lot of time making sure that what they believe will line up with Scripture. Of course, those who do not agree find that their interpretation is invalid. Regardless of whether it is or is not, they do spend a lot of time studying. The second camp is more reckless. They take Scriptures out of context to support what they are teaching. This does not invalidate the concept of “Word of Faith” but does muddy the waters so to speak.

          means things. It means we must read verses about the old, to His original Israel, with the New Covenant in mind. It means we cannot skip immediately to “this applies to me” without first determining “this applies to them.” Christians may disagree on the exact differences, to be sure. But we should at least try. Do “word faith” folks try?

          I guess the first part is to determine exactly what you mean. By this, those who accepted Jesus as Lord and savior are adopted Israelites and heirs to the promises given to them.

          24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
          Galatians 3:24-29

          Now, when say God was telling Abraham that his descendents will number the stars, this verse points out that God was including us. However, when God was telling Joshua to take the Holy Land it was not for us. So, I am not entirely sure what you are meaning here. But if it was following this line of thinking, then yes “Word of Faith” people do take this into account when viewing the OT.

          The one I heard on the radio the other day wasn’t trying. He was reading — more like summarizing — bits of texts about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the the founding members of the Old Covenant. Yet this preacher was appling the covenant promises God made to them specifically as if they apply to everyone else. This is flagrant out-of-context mishandling of Scripture. It’s not like what you tried to demonstrate in your response. What would you say about this?

          I go to the previous point to answer. However, I will add that if you believe that the OT was specifically for Israel only and then only the NT applies to us today why would God bother to keep the OT around for us.

          This is one I used to think meant what you said: that we should avoid doing things that “appear to be” evil. But brother, you seem to regard “word faith” teachers in a positive light. I do not. This “appears to be evil” to me. Should you stop doing that?

          (Of course, I believe you should, but because these teachings are actually false, not only “appear to be” false!)

          To answer your question, IF I thought that they were evil or false teachers then yes I should avoid them. However, as you mentioned, I do not see them that way.

          The funny thing is that I got saved in a little very legalistic church in upstate NY. This church believed that anything not specifically mentioned in the Bible was of the devil (like cars, computers, etc). As an engineer, I found that hard to believe. But it was where I got saved. When I was in college, I went to a Charismatic church and agreed with what they believe. Some years later, I moved to Texas for work and became aware of people like the Copelands and the “Word of Faith” camp. In the years that have followed, I can see good and bad in this camp and understand why so many have issues with them. So while I believe a lot about what they teach, I don’t usually associate with any camp just because of people who spend time acting un-Christ like. But then I have also been around Christianity enough to know that we have those types of people in every section of Christianity.

          It is after years and years that I have come to the conclusion that we as Christians spend far too much time finding ways to argue with each other and segregate us then unite us.

          By the way, I’m sure that’s why my sister here wanted to “test” the views of “word faith” teachers. They’re not off-limits to that.

          And while I can not speak for them, I am sure that all teachers of the word would encourage people to test them. And would take constructive criticism. The problem is that most of these “test” are more about picking them apart than an open discussion.

          The reason why I bring it up is, again, it’s often misunderstood. As a co-editor with my sister Rebecca at Speculative Faith, we often hear this reference cited as a reason discerning Christians cannot, say, enjoy the “Harry Potter” book or film series to the glory of God. “Even if it’s not actually evil,” they may concede, “we should still Avoid The Appearance of Evil.” But the main reason those fantasy stories, and some other things, “appear” to be evil is because they’ve been slandered and stigmitized by Christians. And if we tried to practice this ethic all the time, we’d frankly not be able to do anything — not even quote Scripture or apply God’s truths to life, which to our pagan culture “appears” to be evil.

          I understand. And if we take that to the extreme, we would never go into a spiritual dark area to bring the gospel. In fact, we should recall all missionaries because many of those areas are too “evil”. But I read that Jesus went into all those places and confronted the evil. He did not shy away from it. That means that there has to be a balance between things. The way I see it, we should not go into a strip bar and call it missionary work. However, the pastor who got a call from a Hooters (I think in Houston) because the waitresses had questions about God and started a Bible study there on like Monday mornings would be a good idea. In fact, from the testimony that I read, almost all of the waitresses have accepted Christ. So, there has to be a balance.

          I like SCIFI and FANTASY. I don’t read Harry Potter because I saw an interview with JK where she said that we all “Have a wizard inside us that we need to learn how to release so we can all do magic!” I have read many people attempting to sanitized what she said or meant but it did not sit well with me. But that is me. I have read many other books and watched many movies that others do not like.

          And just to show you that people can go to extremes in all sections of the faith, there is a couple in my church that believes playing games is of the devil. They see it as a waste of time that could be used to share the gospel. They further believe that ALL video games are the devils way of controlling us. This was so bad they told my ten year old son that his parent’s were demon possessed because we played “Phase 10” with him. So, these type of people are everywhere.

          This changes things. And it should challenge those who believe “word faith” teaching is compatible with Scripture, the same Scripture that we’re both trying to handle rightly, but such teachers do not.

          You know that sad thing is that so many people do not search the Scriptures or question teachings or look to see if they are Biblically sound even if they have an internal consistency to the teachings. I keep constantly studying and while others may not believe or agree with my explanations at least I have them. Too many do not know why they believe they just follow. I have seen this over and over again. And it is sad.

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