Many people who write these diatribes about ‘Wolves in sheep’s clothing’, tend to forget about making sure we don’t lose the purpose in why the writing is taking place in the first place. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotion of having someone who professes to be ‘Godly’ and ‘Righteous’ go on a tangent about how “God is the biggest failure in the Bible”. Writing that sentence hurt my spirit, yet Kenneth Copeland said this on LIVE TV… on Trinity Broadcasting Network during a Praise-a-thon event back in April of 1988. Copeland would go on to say “the reason we don’t think of God as a failure is He never said He’s a failure, and you’re not a failure until you say you’re one.” Interesting huh?
He’s just one of many, MANY ‘false teachers’ that profess to have all the Christian answers to life’s biggest issues… health and money. From Benny Hinn, to Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Paula White, Jesse Duplantis, and many others preach a doctrine known as the “Word of Faith” doctrine. The Word of Faith means that everything is centered on faith. Your beliefs, wealth, well-being, all hinge on how much faith you have and if you’re not healthy, wealthy, or in a good place in your life, well, you caused all of it because you LACK FAITH. And if you lack faith, you’re not really saved and you’re a curse to everyone around you.
What I want to do in this writing is break down common misconceptions from these mega-ministers and give you scripture and sound wisdom on why they’re wrong. There are many of them, but I’ll break down what seems to be the most common and most exploited.
- 1) God wants us healthy and wealthy.
Now, before I get started, I want to make a few things clear: God can do anything. ANYTHING. God can make us healthy and wealthy in a second. Why? Because he’s GOD. Isaiah 26:5 says “Trust in the Lord forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.” Rest assured that God is capable of putting forth good health and loads of money our way. Doesn’t mean it’s promised to us.
The Word of Faith evangelists want us to believe that it’s God’s will for us to be wealthy and healthy. They use a very good scripture to back that up. It’s III John 1:2, which says “Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prosepereth.” To the WoF ministers, this means that it’s a done deal that God wants us to be prosperous and healthy, even as our soul prospers. But what does it really mean?
This is the beginning of a letter from John, written to Gaius, which commended him for the truth that was inside of him, and also commended him on his hospitality and generosity. Kretzmann’s Commentary on this scripture says “He (John) desires that Gaius may prosper, have success in every respect, in all matters pertaining to this world, and that he may always be in the best of health.” All this verse can be seen as is a genuine greeting from John to Gaius and wishing him well in his health and prosperity. Nothing that says God promised all of those things to him. What about the meaning of prosperity? Let’s look at the King James Version dictionary’s meaning of ‘prosperity’.
PROSPER’ITY, n. L. prosperitas. Advance or gain in anything good or desirable; successful progress in any business or enterprise; success; attainment of the object desired; as the prosperity of arts; agricultural or commercial prosperity; national prosperity. Our disposition to abuse the blessings of providence renders prosperity dangerous.
So we do know that ‘prosperity’ means to be successful in endeavors agriculturally and in a business sense. But what was John saying to Gaius? The word was ‘prosperous’. Here’s that meaning in the King James Version dictionary:
PROS’PEROUS, a. L.prosperus. Advancing in the pursuit of anything desirable; making gain or increase; thriving; successful; as a prosperous trade; a prosperous voyage; a prosperous expedition or undertaking; a prosperous man, family or nation; a prosperous war.
Doesn’t seem to mention health and money specifically doesn’t it? Also, it’s not God talking to Gaius. It’s John. And I know that ALL words in the Holy Bible are inspired of God. I’ve read John 1:1. But there’s a time and place for certain kinds of scripture. And the context of III John isn’t in the context of wanting someone to be healthy and wealthy. It’s simply a greeting of well wishes to someone in a letter. It’s like someone writing a letter home saying, “I hope everything’s going alright for you guys, and hope all is well.” That’s all this verse says. Yet, the WoF evangelicals want you to believe this is one of our promises to be healthy and wealthy, when it’s not.
- 2) Healing is promised to us and if we’re not healed, we’re not really saved.
Yes folks… this is what actual WoF ministers believe. At a 2001 Miracle Crusade in Nevada, Benny Hinn told his audience, “Healing should never be separate from salvation.” So if we’re not healed, then we’re not really saved. Salvation comes one way, and that’s through the Lord Jesus Christ. Even if you’re crippled, an amputee, or have a head cold, we can still be saved through the grace given to us thanks to Jesus dying on the cross. Our sins are paid for by Jesus’ blood. Not by physical healing. Just because we’re sick doesn’t mean we can’t be saved. Heresy is a word that comes to mind when thinking about the words Benny Hinn speaks. Then again, he has many, MANY sites dedicated to his ‘prophecies’ and teachings. But to single him out wouldn’t be right. He’s nowhere near alone in his false teachings.
Another misnomer is that healing is promised to us by God because of Jesus being crucified. And the scripture frequently cited is Isaiah 53:5 that says “But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes, we our healed.” Now, that sounds pretty iron clad doesn’t it? Jesus was put on the cross so we could be healed. Healed of what you may ask? Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says that the healing is of our SINS. Not physical illness, but our spiritual illness. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He paid the price for us so we didn’t have to. That doesn’t include being healthy. It means we’re free from sin if we make the choice to dedicate our life to Jesus Christ and declare him the Son of God. By His stripes, Jesus healed us of our sins. Not our physical illnesses. Matter of fact, numerous commentaries cite the ‘healed’ part of the scripture to mean spiritual healing, not physical healing. Yet, this is the foundation of many WoF ministries.
- 3) Have a need? Sow a seed! A seed of faith!
Out of the all of the points that have been made, this will be the one that should shake the foundation of Word of Faith believers. The concept of ‘sowing seeds’ came from a world-renowned minister named Oral Roberts. Roberts founded Oral Roberts’ Evangelistic Association, Oral Roberts University, wrote a book called ‘Miracles of Seed Faith’, and had a worldwide televangelism ministry for over 60 years. Roberts is famous for claiming many healings and miracles at ‘crusades’ that he had taken part in and for claiming that his ministry started in 1947 when he read the aforementioned Third Epistle of John, verse two, which mentioned “I wish above all things that you prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.’ As was mentioned before, that scripture is merely the greeting of a letter wishing someone well. According to his obituary listed in The Guardian newspaper out of the United Kingdom, in Roberts’ case, he picked up his Bible, it fell to the floor and happened to open to that verse. He decided after that event, it was fine to be wealthy and used his evangelism to further his wealth.
In 1977, Oral Roberts also claimed he seen a 900-foot-tall vision of Jesus Christ and was told by Jesus to build City of Faith Medical and Research Center, a hospital that was founded on using the concept of treating the ‘whole person’, spirit, mind, and body. It opened in 1980 and at the time was one of the biggest hospitals of its kind in the world. The hospital lasted barely eight years before closing down in 1989. According to a book called The Faith Healers by James Randi, In January 1987, Roberts attempted to raise 8 million dollars by June of that same year, and if he didn’t meet this mandate, God was going to ‘call him home’. This is the same person who came up with the ‘Seed-Faith’ concept.
The scripture used primarily for Seed-Faith believers comes from Matthew 17:20, which states “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’
This is Jesus preaching to His disciples when they weren’t able to cast out a demon from a young boy. Jesus had a child brought to Him, and He cast out the demon inside the child, which healed the young boy of any afflictions he had (Matthew 17:14-18). After that took place, Jesus then explained to them that the disciples didn’t have enough faith to cast out the demon. (Matthew 17:20) He also said that the smallest of faith can move mountains. All Jesus was talking about was His disciples not having enough faith to do His works once He’s ascended upon high and to realize that the smallest of faith makes all things possible. Nowhere in the scripture does Jesus promise a return of anything by sowing a seed. The mustard seed is a metaphor for faith, not materials.
Seed-Faith believers also abuse a very crucial scripture in the New Testament, the Parable of the Seed and the Sower. The first 30 verses of Matthew, chapter 13 is Jesus talking about planting ‘seeds’ on the roadside, rocky ground, thorny ground, and good ground (Matthew 13:3-9) The Seed-Faith belief says this is a clear indicator that we’re supposed to sow money and reap a harvest of 30, 60, and a hundred fold. If you keep reading the remainder of Matthew 13, you’ll clearly see that Jesus isn’t talking about material goods or money. He’s talking about LISTENING and HEARING THE WORD OF GOD! Verse 19 of Matthew, chapter 13 says “when anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart”…notice the underlined word? It’s heart. Jesus is talking about receiving and hearing what is being taught by the Word of God. The seed is the WORD, not money! Jesus wanted us to receive his words as clearly as we could, Verse 23 of Matthew 19 says, “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
This Scripture isn’t saying that if you listen to God’s word, and you sow money, you’ll receive 30, 60, or a hundred times more money back in return. God is NOT our personal ATM machine. Don’t treat him like one.
In conclusion, these teachings are very common and are all over so-called “Christian” television. Folks like Mike Murdock, Tom Koontz, Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, Benny Hinn, and a host of others think that this is ‘God’s promise’ to us. We’ll conclude with one last scripture. It’s from Acts 17:11. There are a people mentioned in this verse called Bereans. The Book of Acts was written by Luke, and it’s cited that these Bereans constantly studied God’s word to make sure that Paul, the Apostle wasn’t telling any lies.
The scripture reads, “These were more fair minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
Be a good Berean and study the Word daily…and if you see something on TV and it doesn’t sound too Christ-like? Research it and find out.
Sources are cited with the text. Scriptures taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible.