E014090

What should be our attitude toward wealth and health?

Previously: What scriptures do Word-Faith leaders use?

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

Download as a PDF.

E014090As we wrap up this series on the Word-Faith movement, let’s ask: What should be our attitude toward wealth and health?

We should be content with what we have.

Paul experiences many hardships in his ministry – beatings, shipwreck, hunger, cold, imprisonment, and much more. Yet he writes that he has “learned” to be content (see Phil. 4:11-12). Further, he reminds Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).

We should be indifferent toward wealth.

Prosperity is neither good nor evil. But our attitude toward wealth reveals a great deal about us (see 1 Tim. 6:6-10, 17-19).

Agur’s request of the Lord in Prov. 30:8b-9 expresses a proper attitude toward worldly gain: “Give me neither poverty nor wealth; feed me with the food I need. Otherwise, I might have too much and deny You, saying, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or I might have nothing and steal, profaning the name of my God.”

Jesus specifically warns us against laying up treasures on earth (Matt. 6:19-21) and reminds us that we cannot be slaves to both God and money (Matt. 6:24).
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Chalice

Seven gold bowls – Revelation 15:7

Previously: The heavenly sanctuary was opened – Revelation 15:5-6

The scripture

Rev. 15:7 – One of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven gold bowls filled with the wrath of God who lives forever and ever. (HCSB)

Seven gold bowls

ChaliceIn verse 7 John writes, “One of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven gold bowls filled with the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.” The King James Version uses the term “vials” instead of “bowls,” as though they are bottles. The Greek word is phiale, which denotes a shallow pan or broad-rimmed chalice. Some commentators call them censers, the receptacles into which coals from the altar are placed and mingled with incense to burn unto God. “The breadth of the vials in their upper part would tend to cause their contents to pour out all at once, implying the overwhelming suddenness of the woes” (A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, Rev. 15:7).

Note that one of the four living creatures gives these bowls to the angels. In Revelation 6 the four living creatures announce the first four seal judgments. The first living creature thunders, “Come!” and the white horse and its rider emerge. The second creature says “Come!” and the rider on the red horse bursts onto the scene. The third creature shouts “Come!” and the horseman on a black horse appears. Finally, the fourth creature says “Come!” and Death comes riding a pale green horse with Hades in hot pursuit. While the living creatures reside closely to the throne of God and lead angels and people in worship, they also are the standard bearers of God’s holiness as revealed in His wrath.
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Bible_Words_of_Jesus

What scriptures do Word-Faith leaders use?

Previously: What’s wrong with the Word-Faith movement? 

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

Download as a pdf.

Bible_Words_of_JesusFollowing are a few examples of Scriptures prosperity preachers twist to promote their health-and-wealth gospel. A more complete treatment is available in The Apologist’s Tool Kit, available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

Prov. 6:2You have been trapped by the words of your lips – ensnared by the words of your mouth.

Word-Faith leaders quote this verse to illustrate that our words have power. If we speak positively, we get positive results. But if we speak “negative confessions,” we get negative results.

In truth, this proverb teaches nothing of the kind. Solomon simply points out that whenever you enter into an agreement with someone, you are honor-bound to fulfill it. Nowhere does Scripture teach that our words create reality.
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Bible

The heavenly sanctuary was opened – Revelation 15:5-6

Previously: They sang the song – Revelation 15:3-4

The scripture

Rev. 15:5 – After this I looked, and the heavenly sanctuary – the tabernacle of testimony – was opened. 6 Out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, dressed in clean, bright linen, with gold sashes wrapped around their chests.

The heavenly sanctuary was opened

BibleIn verse 5 John writes, “After this I looked, and the heavenly sanctuary – the tabernacle of testimony – was opened.” We last read about the heavenly sanctuary in Rev. 11:19 in connection with the sounding of the last trumpet. The previous uses of the word “tabernacle” – in Greek, skeyney – are revealing. In Rev. 7:15, the One seated on the throne will “shelter” the ones coming out of the great tribulation; that is, He will tabernacle (skeyney) with them – pitch His tent with them and spread His tent over them, providing His presence as comfort and security. In Rev. 13:6, the beast from the sea begins to blaspheme God’s name and His “dwelling – those who dwell in heaven.” Again, the word is skeyney, and here it refers to believers around the throne in heaven.

What a marvelous picture of God’s grace. He pitches His tent with us, and in redemption we are His temple. John writes of Jesus, “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us” (John 1:14). Literally, Jesus “tabernacled” with us, a reference not only to His incarnation but also to His presence in the ancient tabernacle and at the joyous Feast of Tabernacles (see Ex. 40:34-38; John 7:2). But equally amazing, He makes believers His dwelling place, abiding in us by way of the Holy Spirit (see John 14:16-18). The apostle Paul exhorts us to be ever mindful of our role as God’s sanctuary: “Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are” (1 Cor. 3:16-17).

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FEX_018

What’s wrong with the Word-Faith movement?

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

Download as a pdf

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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