Summary: Sermon 10 in a study in Philippians
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
“YOUR WORDS HAVE POWER!” That is the claim on the back cover of the little booklet someone sent in the mail to my wife. I glanced through the booklet and saw nothing new, so I threw it in the trash, only after tearing off the back cover so I could share its claims with you.
According to the booklet’s author God has given His creative ability to us in word form. “To be effective in life”, he asserts, “you must speak words of faith”. Then he goes on about that some more and ends his paragraph with, “He designed His Word to put you over in life”.
Do we have the very creative power of God in our words? Was God’s intent in giving us His Word that it would make us successful in life?
I think there are many places we could go to in the Scriptures to answer these claims of this man and many others like him who preach the same ‘Magic Mouth’ doctrine, but I also believe we can stay right here in our text today and respond quite definitely to his error.
LOOK WHO’S TALKING
The first step in our effort would be to pay attention to who is writing this epistle and where he is.
Now I have not forgotten that I have already mentioned Paul’s circumstances several times in the course of this study, and we all know that he is in chains, heavily guarded and uncertain that he will ever be released. I will spare you further repetitious detail today.
However it behooves us to be reminded of this once more in light of Paul’s happy and repeated exhortation to rejoice and the contrasting claim of the ‘prosperity lite’ preachers to instead speak freedom and power and success to ourselves.
There is not one word in this letter or any other epistle of Paul that bemoans his circumstances or expresses desire for immediate deliverance, other than his request recorded in 2 Corinthians 12 that God would remove some mysterious physical malady that had been sent to him to keep him from glorying in himself for the great revelations he had been given. Even then, Paul turned it into glorying in Christ and His strength and power.
OTHERS IN THE BIBLE
It is amazing to me that these preachers of the health and wealth doctrines do not seem to notice that the men and women of the Bible commended by God for their faith rejected the comforts of this world and of the flesh rather than seeking them. Listen to these phrases plucked from Hebrews 11.
“By faith Abraham…went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob…”
“By faith Moses…refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt…”
And the chapter ends talking of unnamed heroes. “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated, (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”
Too bad they didn’t realize they had power in their words, huh?
Folks, these ‘easy Christianity’ doctrines are not only dangerous to the church they insult the faithful men and women of the ages who have endured through trials and testings, physical pain and suffering, persecutions and even martyrdom, with joy, saying with Paul, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” 2 Cor 12:9
THE SOURCE OF ERROR
What we must be aware of and alert to is the source of teaching that glories in the creature rather than the Creator.
Why does it sound so good to our ears, to hear that because we are children of God and have His Spirit in us, we can ‘speak words of faith’, as this particular author suggests, and ‘create’ success in our lives?
Well, it sounds good because it is of the same source and appeals to the same prideful human nature that we see demonstrated in the Garden of Eden.