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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Scriptures and Practice

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

“We accept what Scripture teaches as far as our doctrine is concerned; but when it comes to practice, we very often fail to take the Scriptures as our only guide. … Dare I give an obvious illustration? The question of women preaching, and being ordained to the full ministry.” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount)

Morality and Religion

Good advice from George Washington (Farewell Address, 1796):

“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

The Church Deceived

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1, ESV)

I am often dismayed when I hear about people I know or their friends who are being deceived by some new teaching that provides shortcuts to the victorious Christian life. You do not often hear that they have presented this new teaching to their orthodox pastors and elders – and then, after a careful search of the Scriptures, they have decided to follow this new prophet and his books. As a matter of fact, what I mostly hear as justification for following these teachings (which are usually old heresies) is something like, “All my friends are reading his books and listening to his sermons. They say he makes Christianity so simple!”

Most of these false teachers are simply rehashing the “word-of-faith” teachings mixed with their own particular flavors. The bottom line of these movements seems to always be a concoction focusing on success, prosperity, and health. If bad things happen to you, then you simply do not have enough faith or you are using the Word incorrectly.

Some of these teachings imply the godhood of man and the possibility of superhuman powers. Some of these false teachers adopt faith rituals and positive prayer formulas guaranteed to get results – if you just have enough faith. In these movements you often find some sound doctrine mixed with false teachings to attract those who are overly confident in their own Bible knowledge.

One such book, titled Destined to Reign, has been called to my attention recently. In this book, the author gives the following credit: “I give thanks to God for my roots in the Word of Faith teachings. It is truly on the shoulders of great men of God like Brother Kenneth E. Hagin (see the addendum below to find out more about Kenneth Hagin) that we are able to see further into the Word of God today. Growing up, I learned a lot about faith from Brother Hagin who truly had a special revelation of faith from the Lord. I deeply honor and respect him for all that he has taught me.” (Destined to Reign: The Secret to effortless success, wholeness and victorious living p.271)

The author of this book is Joseph Prince. He is, as quoted above, a product of the “word-of-faith” movement. Prince promotes the false idea that because of grace believers only get blessings. All sins were forgiven at the cross for the believer, therefore repentance or confession of sin is not necessary. He teaches that wealth is for all Christians. He believes God is restoring NEW TRUTHS to the church. Prince also teaches that the “moral law” no longer applies to Christians and has ceased along with the “ceremonial law”.

However, if I am faithfully following after the teachings of Joseph Prince and am still having problems with health, money, and relationships, then I am not in God’s grace. Thus, we see what an utter failure Paul was when he wrote by the Spirit of God, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” (1 Corinthians 4:10-13 ESV) Should we assume then that Paul was not in God’s grace?

We have only to apply the test of the Scriptures to measure the truth or deceitfulness of any teaching found in Destined to Reign: The Secret to effortless success, wholeness and victorious living – or any other of Joseph Prince’s writings or sermons.

Yet, people continue to choose to follow what their neighbors think or like and not search the Scriptures themselves or at least discuss it with a sound teacher of the Word of God. We are deceived by the sin of pride and the lust for “effortless success”. The truth is that most of us do not want to hear that wealth is seldom achieved or held on to effortlessly. Thus we are willing to accept a little heresy mixed with the strong drink of true Christian doctrine to make Christianity more palatable to our tastes and current frame of mind.

We are given this warning by Peter, “there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” (2 Peter 2:1-3, ESV)

Addendum:

Kenneth Hagin seems to have taken many of his teachings from E. W. Kenyon. Kenyon was born on April 24, 1867, in Hadley, New York. The origin of Kenyon’s positive confession teaching (word of faith) can be traced back to his introduction to the philosophical ideas of positive confession at Emerson College of Oratory in Boston in 1880. Emerson College taught New Thought metaphysics, which is a system of cultic belief that taught that the human mind through positive mental attitude and positive confession has the power to create its own reality: either health and wealth, or sickness and poverty. Kenyon’s beliefs centered on faith in faith; guaranteed health; wealth/prosperity; the spiritual death of Christ and the belief that Christians are little gods.

Word of Faith preacher, Kenneth Hagin, claimed to be a prophet called by God Himself. He also believed that Christians are little gods and that if they are not healthy and wealthy it is because of their lack of faith or knowledge. Hagin taught that Christians have control over their lives by the words that they speak.

Interesting Quotes from Hagin:

The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth. (“The Word of Faith”)

Man…was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God’s presence without any consciousness of inferiority…. God has made us as much like Himself as possible…. He made us the same class of being that He is Himself…. Man lived in the realm of God. He lived on terms equal with God…. [T]he believer is called Christ….That’s who we are; we’re Christ! (“Zoe: The God-Kind of Life”, pp. 35-36, 41)

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