Summary: Refuting the false doctrines creeping up in many churches
Adapted from the book Christianity in Crisis by Hank Hannegraff.
In out text Jesus warned His listeners about false teachers and just as in His day, there are many who claim the Name of Christ and yet teach and preach lies. One of these groups is what many call the Word of Faith movement. Many have learned the hard way that the Word of Faith teachings are not all that they claim to be, and have had to suffer great loss, and as a result, have not only been hurt physically, mentally, and emotionally but some have even turned their backs on the Lord Jesus, all because they were taught false doctrine.
So lets take a look at the Word of Faith doctrine and compare it with our only reliable source, the Holy Word of God given to us in the Bible. Let’s begin with their doctrine of faith. The base scripture that the Word of Faith movement uses for their teachings on faith is Mark 11:22. Word of Faith teachers’ claim that the correct translation of this verse is “have the faith of God”. The Greek reads echete pistin theou, or have faith of God. However literal translations are not always complete translations, for we also have to check the Greek grammar. Theou is an objective genitive; that means that the noun (theou) is the object of the action, thus God is the object of faith, and so the verse is actually and accurately translated as “Have faith in God”. Word of Faith teaches that the law of faith is to the spiritual realm as gravity is to the physical realm, and thus anyone, Christian or Non-Christian can plug into it and get results. Man does not therefore have to deal with a personal God, but rather with impersonal laws, which can be manipulated by anyone, regardless of their relational standing with God through Christ. The Word of Faith teachers’ claim that this law is set into motion by the words of ones mouth. “What we confess is what we possess”. The Word of Faith doctrine also teaches that ones words have creative or destructive power. Depending on weather it is a positive or negative confession. This makes man not only a creator but also a god. Word of Faith teachings also claim that God Himself is bound to these spiritual laws, and thus has to move on our behalf, when we put them into practice. However if God must obey these spiritual laws, it has reduced Him to something less than sovereign. It has made God into mans puppet. The Bible is very clear that God is sovereign. The faith theology also depersonalizes God; it renders Him an impersonable force, which must do mans bidding. As far as man having creative power; man is a creature, and no creature in the Bible is ever accorded creative powers: no man, no angel, no devil or demon, no animals. The closest that man comes to having creative powers is Gods command to be fruitful and multiply. But if pro-creation constitutes creative powers, then animals are creators too. Creation, ex nihilo (out of nothing) is entirely the prerogative of God!
Faith teachers often quote the scripture found in Romans 10:17 “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”. However the actual Greek says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Rhema of God”. Many a sincere Christian has diligently spent hours reading their Bibles hoping to increase their faith, but unless God speaks the word into ones spirit, and makes the word alive, it never produces faith. The Bible states in 2nd Corinthians 4:13 “I have believed and therefore spoken”. Not I spoke and therefore believed. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”, (Matthew 12:34). This clearly shows that we are to believe it first and then will speak what we believe. No person will go around saying that they have the flu, unless they first believe that they have the flu, but yet the Word of Faith movement insists that people go around and say that they are healed, rich, and righteous when it is clear that we are sick, poor, and sinful.
The Word of Faith movement is also zealous on its teachings of healing. Healing is an accepted doctrine of both the Pentecostal movement, and the Charismatic movement, yet the difference between the Word of Faith’s teachings and the Pentecostal, or Charismatic teachings is as drastic as night and day. The Bible clearly shows that God is a healing God, and that healing is still for today. Healing is a gift of the Holy Spirit (1st Cor. 12:9), the church has been commissioned to pray for the sick (James 5:14-15), signs, wonders, healings, and deliverance can and often do follow those who preach the gospel (Mark 16:15-20). However Christianity is not a healing cult. The Word of Faith emphasis on health and wealth distorts the centrality of Christ and His gospel. The Bible teaches that believers will not be entirely free from bodily suffering until the return of Christ and we are changed from the corruptible to the incorruptible. In Romans 8:19-21 Paul tells us that all of creation groans under the curse of suffering. It is because of our flesh that we still sin. We have a sin nature. And it is because of our flesh that we still suffer sickness. The Word of Faith movement often claims that sickness is a result of sin, but they tend to forget that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23). We have a sinful nature. So the answer to the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” is simple. There are no good people.