Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: This sermon deals with the damage being done by the "Name It And Claim It" preachers. The true story of President James Garfield is used as the illustration.

Religious Malpractice

Matthew 7:15

15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

Have you ever heard of James Garfield?

James Garfield was a lay preacher and principal of a Christian college. In l880, he was elected president of the United States, but served only six months in office. A lawyer named Charles Guiteau became infuriated when his application to be the U. S. ambassador to France was denied. Guiteau was a deeply religious man and believed that God had ordered him to kill the President. Guiteau stalked the President for several days. On July 2, 1881, Garfield arrived at the Washington railroad depot. He was on his way to visit his wife who was ill and staying in Elberon. He never got there. Guiteau was hiding in the station and fired two shots at President Garfield. One bullet grazed his arm but the other one lodged somewhere inside the President’s body.

President Garfield was rushed to the White House, having never lost consciousness. For the next 80 days, 16 doctors were consulted regarding the President’s condition.

More of that story a little later!

Point #1. Jesus warned us that false teachers will come.

15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

The warning was important because Jesus later said:

Matthew 10:16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write a similar warning:

Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.

A growing number of Christians are being deceived.

They are listening to and reading doctrines that are false.

Many Christians cannot tell the difference between truth and error.

They can’t tell the difference between wolves and sheep.

Many Christians assume that if a book is in a Christian bookstore

Then it must be O.K. to read.

They assume that if a preacher is on a Christian radio station

Or on a Christian television program or Network…

Then you can believe what they hear and see.


In the past 2 years, I’ve ministered to a couple of Christians…

Who had become very confused and disheartened.

I believe their problems stem from false doctrine.

A multitude of people have experienced

devastating spiritual and psychological damage

caused by false doctrine preached by wolves in sheep clothing.

Let’s get back to our story about President Garfield!

The first doctor to treat President Garfield, Willard Bliss, stuck a non-sterile finger into the wound (sterilization had been preached, but not widely practiced at the time). He followed this by inserting a non-sterile probing instrument to find the bullet. Bliss never found the bullet, but the false passage that he dug out confused later physicians as to the bullet’s actual path. As a result, they concluded that the bullet had penetrated the liver and therefore surgery would be of no help. The President would surely die quickly as a result. Of course, they were wrong.

Then the army surgeon general stuck his unwashed finger into the wound and dug as deep as he could. This was followed by the navy surgeon general who searched with his finger so deeply that this time he really did puncture the liver (damage the bullet never did). His conclusion: the President would die within twenty-four hours. But, Garfield didn’t die the next day. His fever rose.

More of that story a little later!

Point #2. Wolves in sheep’s clothing preach false doctrine.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

In my opinion, the worst false doctrine

is a doctrine known as, “The Prosperity Doctrine.”

It’s also known as “The Health and Wealth Doctrine”.

I call it “The Name It and Claim It Doctrine”.

This doctrine was preached by Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagin

and continues today under many TV preachers.

If you watch these people on TV or read their books…

I urge you to stop!

Listen to Acts 20:28-31

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31 Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.

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