FEX_018

What’s wrong with the Word-Faith movement?

This is the third in a five-part series on the Prosperity Gospel.

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FEX_018The Word-Faith movement, also known as the Prosperity Gospel, is leading millions of people to embrace false teachings.

Consider the movement’s following errors:

The Word-Faith movement abuses the Bible.

While prosperity preachers proclaim the Bible as the source of their teaching, they consistently fail to correctly teach the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).

Specifically, they commit three common errors of biblical interpretation:

  1. They ignore the context. A single verse, such as 3 John 2, must be read as part of the full narrative, and the full narrative must be considered in light of the intended audience and in comparison with the rest of Scripture.
  1. They rely on extra-biblical experiences to establish their interpretations of Scripture. It is not uncommon to hear leaders like Kenneth Copeland say that God spoke to them in an audible voice or appeared to them in a vision. This is not to deny that the Lord may use dreams and visions to speak to people today. However, we must lay all experiences against the yardstick of Scripture. The canon is closed, and we must take pains not to add to or take away from God’s word.
  1. They begin with beliefs rather than with the Bible. Based on “dreams,” “visions,” “prophecies,” and other subjective experiences, they formulate new teachings that tickle the ear rather than lead to godliness (2 Tim. 4:3).

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musical notes

They sang the song – Revelation 15:3-4

Previously: A sea of glass mixed with fire – Revelation 15:2

The scripture

Rev. 15:3 – They sang the song of God’s servant Moses and the song of the Lamb: Great and awe-inspiring are Your works, Lord God the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, King of the Nations. 4 Lord, who will not fear and glorify Your name? Because You alone are holy, for all the nations will come and worship before You because Your righteous acts have been revealed. (HCSB)

They sang the song

musical notesThose who have won the victory over the beast, his image, and the number of his name now sing the song of God’s servant Moses and the song of the Lamb (vv. 3-4). It appears these are two songs with a common theme. They show the unity of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant in redemption. The song of Moses alludes to Ex. 15:1-19, where Moses thanks God for deliverance from the Egyptians at the Red Sea. However, it’s possible that John has Deuteronomy 32 in mind because the first phrase – “Great and awe-inspiring are Your works, Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, King of the Nations” – may be drawn from Deut. 32:3-4.

The song of the Lamb may be what John hears in Rev. 5:9:

You are worthy to take the scroll

and to open its seals;

because You were slaughtered,

and You redeemed [people] for God by Your blood

from every tribe and language and people and nation.

You made them a kingdom and priests to our God,

and they will reign on the earth.

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78058116 (1)

What does the Word-Faith movement teach?

Previously: What is the Word-Faith movement?

This is the second in a five-part series on the Prosperity Gospel.

Download as a pdf.

78058116 (1)The central teaching of the errant Word-Faith movement is that God wills your prosperity and health; therefore, to be a Christian in poverty or ill health is to be outside the will of God.

There is great diversity within the Word-Faith movement, but below are doctrines that most prosperity teachers embrace. Please keep in mind that these are false doctrines, which we address in future columns.

For a more in-depth look at the Word-Faith movement, order The Apologist’s Tool Kit.

The following are drawn largely, but not exclusively, from Robert M. Bowman Jr. in The Word-Faith Controversy: Understanding the Health and Wealth Gospel.

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Glassy sea

A sea of glass mixed with fire – Revelation 15:2

Previously:

The scripture

Rev. 15:2 – “I also saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had won the victory over the beast, his image, and the number of his name, were standing on the sea of glass with harps from God.” (HCSB)

A sea of glass mixed with fire

We have encountered a sea of glass before. In Rev. 4:6, John records, “Something like a sea of glass, similar to crystal, was also before the throne.”

Glassy seaAs noted in the commentary on chapter 4, the sea may correspond to the brass vessel before the sanctuary, where the priests wash in preparation for service. The sea of glass also appears in prophetic visions of God’s throne room. For example, in Exodus 24, Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu and 70 of Israel’s elders see “something like a pavement made of sapphire stone, as clear as the sky itself” beneath God’s feet. And Ezekiel sees “[T]he shape of an expanse, with a gleam like awe-inspiring crystal” spread out over the heads of the living creatures (Ezek. 1:22).

The ESV Study Bible notes that the sea of glass “is the ‘floor’ of heaven and the ‘ceiling’ of the created universe, and its transparent tranquility shows heaven’s peace in contrast to earthly turmoil” (Rev. 4:6-8). Jurgen Roloff writes, “This glassy sea is the dome of the firmament, the heavenly ocean, which in ancient thought was considered to be transparent” (p. 182).

Matthew Henry adds this thought: “As in the temple there was a great vessel of brass filled with water, in which the priests were to wash when they went to minister before the Lord (and this was called a sea), so in the gospel church the sea or laver for purification is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, who cleanses from all sin, even from sanctuary-sins. In this all those must be washed that are admitted into the gracious presence of God on earth or his glorious presence in heaven” (Rev. 4:1-8).

But there is a significant difference between the sea in Rev. 4:6 and Rev. 15:2: The latter sea is “mixed with fire.” Why?
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FEX_018

What is the Word-Faith movement?

This is the first in a five-part series on the Prosperity Gospel.

Download as a pdf.

FEX_018Does God want me rich? Can my words create reality? Are human beings little gods?

Almost without exception, leaders of today’s Word-Faith movement answer these questions with a resounding, “Yes!”

While elements of the Word-Faith movement are as old as first-century false teachings, the so-called Prosperity Gospel has borrowed from the more recent “mind sciences” and radical Pentecostalism to become a leading form of noxious Christianity.

Using satellite broadcasts, the Internet, best-selling books, social media, and stadium-size venues, today’s “health and wealth” preachers are convincing millions of people that material wealth and physical well-being are available through the creative power of our words.

But is the Word-Faith movement orthodox in its doctrine? What exactly is the Word of Faith movement? Where did it come from? And who are its leaders?

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Old person reading Bible

Does the Bible teach generational curses?

Old person reading BibleMany Christians struggling with addictive behaviors, bad relationships, or dire circumstances wonder if they are victims of generational curses. In other words, they worry that God is punishing them for the sins of their ancestors.

Prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen lend credence to this notion. “The things you struggle with – they didn’t just happen to show up,” he says in a video message. “Somebody in your family line opened the door…. It will continue until somebody rises up and puts a stop to it. Somebody has to deactivate that gene.”

Osteen blends a portion of Deut. 30:19 with commentary, “‘I set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live.’ Notice your decisions don’t just affect you, they affect future generations.”

Proponents of generational curses cite additional Bible passages such as:

Ex. 20:5 – “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the fathers’ sin, to the third and fourth generations …”

Ex. 34:7 – “But He will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.”

Similar warnings are repeated in Num. 14:18 and Deut. 5:9.

So, does the Bible really teach generational curses?

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Bible

Revelation 14: Download the free study

BibleWe are continuing to work through the Book of Revelation with a focus on four major views of the so-called Apocalypse of John. You may read the commentary to date by clicking here.

Whether you’re a preterist, who sees the events of Revelation as fulfilled in the first centuries of the Christian era, a historicist, who views the events of Revelation as unfolding throughout the course of history, a futurist, who sees most of Revelation as yet unfulfilled, or an idealist, who sees Revelation setting forth timeless truths concerning the battle between good and evil, there are important truths the Lord reveals to all of us in this book.

We would do well to approach Revelation with caution — and with great anticipation, knowing God will fulfill all His promises to us. We also should be comforted by the fact that Revelation is the only book in Scripture specifically promising a blessing to those who hear its prophecies and keep them.

With that in mind, and to make it easier to keep our notes together, we have captured the commentary into single Adobe files (pdfs) that you may download, print and share. Click on the links below to capture notes on chapter 14. If you missed the link to notes on chapters 1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10, 11, 12, or 13, links are provided as well.

Download the pdf: Revelation 14

Download the pdf: Revelation 13

Download the pdf: Revelation 12

Download the pdf: Revelation 11

Download the pdf: Revelation 10

Download the pdf: Revelation 8-9

Download the pdf: Revelation 6-7

Download the pdf: Revelation 4-5

Download Introduction to Revelation and chapters 1-3

Islam

Who are Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims?

IslamWhen the militant forces of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) recently occupied a large portion of the Middle East and declared the establishment of a new country under an Islamic caliph (leader), it became apparent to the outside world that much of the conflict involved Muslims fighting one another.

Specifically, the continuing conflict involves two major sects of Islam: Sunni (the sect of ISIS) and Shi’ite. This may prompt us to ask, “What’s the difference? Muslims are Muslims, aren’t they?”

Well, yes and no. Understanding the difference between Sunnis and Shi’ites may help us grasp the centuries-old animosity between these two major Islamic groups. But make no mistake: Sunnis and Shi’ites gladly set aside their differences when they can join together to destroy their common enemies – primarily Jews and Christians.

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Horse in battle

Blood flowed … for 180 miles – Revelation 14:20

Previously: The great winepress of God’s wrath – Revelation 14:19

The scripture

Rev. 14:20 – Then the press was trampled outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press up to the horses’ bridles for about 180 miles. (HCSB)

Finally in this chapter, John records, “Then the press was trampled outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press up to the horses’ bridles for about 180 miles” (v. 20).

Horse in battleCommentators generally agree that the city in question is Jerusalem. It is called “the great city” in Rev. 11:8, as well as “Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” The reason the wicked are destroyed outside the city is that this is where accursed and unclean things are taken for disposal. For example, the Valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem is where human sacrifices take place in Old Testament times. It is a burning trash dump in Jesus’ day. Even the carcasses of sacrificial animals, whose blood the high priest carries into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, are carried outside the city walls and burned.

But the writer of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is crucified outside the city in order to identify with sinful people. The One who knew no sin becomes sin for us, and the blessed Son of God becomes a curse: “For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the most holy place by the high priest as a sin offering are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the gate, so that He might sanctify the people by His own blood. Let us then go to Him outside the camp, bearing His disgrace” (Heb. 13:11-13).

Other interpreters see this simply as an allusion to Old Testament purification laws where the unclean are taken outside the camp (Lev. 8:17; 9:11). Still others understand this as a reference to the end-time gathering of the wicked around the city of Jerusalem (Ps. 2:2, 6; Dan. 11:45; Joel 3:12-14; Zech. 14:1-4; and the apocalyptic book of 1 Enoch 53:1). If this is a reference to the Day of the Lord, it likely speaks of the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which according to Jewish tradition is the part of the Kidron Valley between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. This is where Joel prophesies that the judgment of nations will take place (Joel 3:12-14). Zechariah places the final battle on the outskirts of Jerusalem (Zech. 14:1-4).

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