Warning Sign #8: Regularly Scheduled Miracles

March 28, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 12 Comments
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If your pastor is in the transitional phase of crossing over into the “word of faith” or “prosperity gospel” movements, you may want to consider getting him a notebook for his birthday or pastor appreciation day. I know that does not sound like a very special gift, but it can come in really handy. Just make sure it is fairly thick. He’s going need it to be able to write down and keep up with all his different “anointings.”

He will want to write down the dates and times he first received his “preachin’ anointing,” his “speaking-in-tongues anointing,” his “harvest anointing,” his “anointing of increase,” his “anointing of favor,” his “financial anointing,” his “binding and loosing anointing,” his “dreams and visions anointing,” any musical or singing “anointings” he might have received, and many many more. These usually happen during a “vision retreat” where he abandons his family and flock for a few days so he can go somewhere secluded and hear God speak to him audibly in a place where no one else is around to verify it.

Of course, these “lesser anointings” will decrease in importance as he grows in faith. He is really just biding his time until he receives his “healing anointing” and his “miracle-working anointing.” That’s where the real money and fame is, after all. You don’t get much more “anointed” than being able to do a miracle, heal someone from a a disease or injury, or even raise the dead.

When your pastor gets to that level of anointedness, look out. It’s time for him to start regularly scheduling the miracles! If you think I’m exaggerating, think again. Even the Apostle Paul and the 1st Century Christians weren’t this anointed. Oh, sure, they did miracles by the power of God. But even they couldn’t make a “miracle reservation” and invite everybody to come “receive their healing” at an appointed time of their own choosing. Look at what Paul told Timothy:

Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.

I Timothy 5:23

Too bad Benny Hinn wasn’t around back then. (If you type “regularly scheduled miracles” into Google, he is the first name that pops up.) Benny could have pushed Timothy over onstage in front of thousands of spectators and instantly healed his stomach problems without that pesky wine. (Of course, Timothy would have had to pay to park, wait in a long line at a big event center, dodge the numerous offering baskets, and sit through two-plus hours of droning repetitive trance-inducing “praise and worship music.”)

Or how about these poor believers, who suffered not because they didn’t speak the right “words of faith,” but because they did speak faithfully:

They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

Hebrews 11:37

Too bad they couldn’t have held on a little longer until the next “weekend of miracles” so a greedy “anointed” faith healer could lay hands on them and convince them that there is guaranteed physical healing in the Atonement.

Does God work miracles today? Without a doubt. Is he doing them at regularly scheduled pre-planned events calculated to bring glory and riches to men? Not likely. If your pastor is getting into this sort of thing, lovingly offer him a ride to the nearest critical care unit, pediatric cancer ward, or severe burn treatment center, so he can really put his “anointing” to use free of charge. Or better yet, take him to the morgue. If he can slap your Aunt Boo-Boo upside the head and heal her ingrown toenail, surely it’s only a difference in degree between that “miracle” and raising the dead. Right?

Warning Sign #7: Playing Politics

July 21, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 5 Comments
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Let’s just pretend for a moment that you are the pastor/preacher at a fairly conservative Baptist church. One day, though, you decide you have had enough. Things are getting too boring around here, just trying to obey God’s Word. You have seen something better: the wild, exciting worship that takes place on TBN. You have seen the material wealth and fame of the “Word Faith” preachers, and the size of their congregations, and especially the showy display of their gaudy buildings. Something clicks in your brain, (which you will later claim was a “rhema word from the Holy Ghost”) and you realize that you are never going to be as rich, exciting, or renowned as those TV preachers unless you play down the “Baptist” aspects of your ministry and play up the so-called “Charismatic” or “Pentecostal” features which are part of the background of most of the famous prosperity preachers.

These would be your two main problems:

1. Traditional Baptist theology does not focus primarily on the so-called “sign gifts” of tongues, prophecy, and supernatural healings, but these are the bread-and-butter of Charismatic and Pentecostal fundraising.

2. To attract Pentecostals and most Charismatics to see your show, you are going to have to convince them that, although you have been a Baptist, and have preached that salvation is of the Lord, and that once God makes you a new creation in Christ Jesus you are eternally secure, you also somehow believe that you can lose “your” salvation.

How in the world are you going to convince your congregation that you are “going Pentecostal” without looking like a traitor to your former beliefs?

Here’s how: you are going to have to be “political.” Start telling people that you are “too Baptist to be Pentecostal and too Pentecostal to be Baptist,” and that some Baptists were mean to you one time, and didn’t want you to act too freaky in church. This hurt your feelings, but now you realize that they were just being too “by the Book,” and you were trying to “get free in the Holy Spirit!” Of course, you will have to use a lot of smoke and mirrors and a lot of doublespeak.

You will also have to be prepared to look extremely foolish at times: Case in point – in order to avoid the phrase, “once saved always saved” (which most Pentecostals absolutely hate), try referring to “The Gospel According To Jesus,” by John MacArthur. A good politician can use the “Lordship Salvation” teaching of this book to disarm most Pentecostals. Tell them that if you are not “crowning Jesus Lord,” every moment of every day, then you are not “saved.” This should appease them. They will interpret this to mean that you think folks can lose their salvation by sinning. Beware however: a more astute Pentecostal may do a little research and find out that MacArthur also wrote a book called “Charismatic Chaos,” and is perhaps the staunchest “cessationist” around today. [Uh-oh, now you will have to explain how you think MacArthur is right on one point, but is teaching a “lie from the pit of hell” (cessationism) on another point.]

That could be tricky, but it’s all in a week’s work for a Good Preacher Going Bad. Just keep them emotionally charged up with lights, smoke, discordant “worship” music, sowing seeds of faith (a.k.a. giving money), and claimed “healings” (which are supernatural even though they might take a while to “manifest” [wink, wink.]) As a prosperity-preacher-in-the-making, you will be very close at this point to “seeing a move of God” as the “fire falls” and the “latter rain” breaks out “in this place.”

Warning Sign #6: Visualization Techniques

July 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, When Good Preachers Go Bad | 11 Comments
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The false teaching of the prosperity gospel is partly about greed. Therefore, if you expect the prosperity preacher to talk about “claiming” and “grabbing” and “seizing” you will not be disappointed. Whether it’s good health, popularity with the world, or just plain old filthy lucre, though, the prosperity preacher knows one thing:

You have to see it before you reach it!

Good Preacher Going Bad

Speaking “words of faith” are all well and good. But if you’ve been speaking to your checkbook, your doctor’s appointment book, and your Facebook for a long time, and you still don’t have as many dollars, healings, or shallow friends as you would like – it just may be that you are not “visualizing” hard enough!

I have heard visualizing techniques attributed to all sorts of Biblical characters – from Abraham to Jabez to David to Zacchaeus. To be fair, Zacchaeus did seem to be a little (no pun intended) bit of a visualizer.

“See there!” says the prosperity preacher, “The Bible does teach that we are supposed to see what we want, and then reach for it!”

Not so fast. Zacchaeus had a desire to see, alright – but a desire to see what… or should I say Whom?

And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.

Luke 19:3, emphasis added

Despite what the prosperity teacher tells you, remember: Our help comes from seeing Jesus – not the personal comforts we can concoct in our own imaginations.

So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.

John 6:19, emphasis added

The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

John 12:21, emphasis added

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Hebrews 2:9, emphasis added

Warning Sign #5: Naming Pet Demons

June 18, 2010 at 10:24 am | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 7 Comments
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The idea that our loving Lord could allow something “bad” like poverty or sickness or persecution into the life a Christian is especially abhorrent to a prosperity preacher. But railing against politicians, doctors, and “dead religious Pharisees” can only get you so far. When you really want to drive your congregation into a frenzy and get them hyped up into a display of emotionalism, you’ve got to portray yourself as a big bad demon-fighter. And what “spiritual warrior” worth his salt isn’t even on a first name basis with his enemies?

Therefore, beware of this kind of blustering and showmanship:

I call you out, Spirit of Jezebel! I’m gonna send you back to the pit, Spirit of Leviathan! We hate you, Spirit of Wormwood!

Good Preacher Going Bad

Now, I know what you’re thinking: These names – Jezebel, Leviathan, and Wormwood – are in the Bible (Revelation 2:20; Isaiah 27:1; Deuteronomy 29:18, Revelation 8:11). However, nowhere does Scripture explicitly state that these are the names of specific demons that today attack our finances, our relationships, our physical bodies, or our desire for exuberant worship. That type of preaching is fanciful at best and misleading at worst.

However, don’t try to tell this to the demon-fighting prosperity preacher! He’s already on to your type. You are one of those who has a “spirit of fear” or a “spirit of intimidation.” After all, God hasn’t given us the “spirit of fear,” according to II Timothy 1:7. This is the “you-are-just-scared-of-a-move-of-the-Holy-Ghost” card that the prosperity preacher loves to play when questioned about Biblical accuracy. Please note however that the rest of II Timothy 1:7 reads, “but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” so the “spirit of fear” is not the name of some devilish imp lurking around underneath the discarded hymn books. It is simply the carnal default position of our flesh nature when we are not being led by – and bearing the fruit of – the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, when Michal got huffy about David’s public display of dancing (II Samuel 6), there is no Bible verse that says she was possessed by the “Spirit of Intimidation.”

Beware of the preacher who is more comfortable railing against principalities and powers than he is dealing with sin in the camp and in his own life.

Warning Sign #4: Fear of Curses

June 4, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 6 Comments
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“I don’t know about you, but I for one ain’t a-gonna stay in Lodebar no more!” crows the frantic, sweaty, and haunted prosperity preacher. His reference, although you would be hard-pressed to tell it, is actually from the Bible – sort of:

Then king David sent, and fetched him out of the house of Machir, the son of Ammiel, from Lodebar. Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant! And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.

II Samuel 9:5-7

One of the greatest fears of a prosperity preacher is that he will wind up in some obscure place of poverty, far away from the limelight, while others are feasting at the king’s table without him. Having watched a little too much TBN, he is desperate to get out of the sticks and into the inner circle of health, wealth, greed, and fame.

See, Mephibosheth, the lame son of King David’s late best friend, Jonathan, was dwelling in Lodebar, a place of “no pasture.” The prosperity preacher sees this as a “cursed” place. No one drives fancy vehicles or lives in mansions or performs at stadiums full of slavering fans at “Lodebar.” It is a place of anonymity. What the prosperity preacher fails to see is that Mephibosheth was brought to the palace of the king not because he discovered the mystical incantation which broke the “generational curse.” It was actually because David, the foreshadowing type of the greater Christ, took pity on Mephibosheth for the sake of his father, Jonathan, and decided to show him grace.

The curse we need to be most concerned about today is not the “curse” of poverty or of physical disability or of obscurity in this world. The real curse is the sin curse. The reversal of that curse comes only through the saving power of King Jesus, who seeks lost sinners, adopts them into His family, and will one day seat them at the table of His presence forever more!

Warning Sign #3: Twisting the Meaning of Bible Stories to Suit a Private “Revelation”

May 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 8 Comments
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Whether a preacher is a “good preacher” is not really based on how funny he is, how enthusiastically he can scream, or even how well he communicates his own personal beliefs. When a preacher is a father and husband, he must also be evaluated on how he manages his household, marriage, and children.

Beware of this false teaching found in “prosperity” preaching: Parents like to spoil their children. Therefore, God – the perfect parent – must REALLY like to spoil His children.

Here are some of the justifications used by prosperity preachers when they don’t have the inclination or courage to properly chastise and train their own children:

1. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11) Prosperity preachers with spoiled children use this verse to say that God sanctions showering your children with the vain things of this world, and to claim that the way to manipulate God into giving us material possessions is to “claim them by faith” by which they mean demanding them from Him like a selfish brat.

The truth is that this verse teaches that God loves to give His children good gifts. God’s definition of “good” is seldom the same as ours. God’s definition of good includes those things which glorify Him, aid in the sanctification of believers, and strengthen us spiritually, not necessarily materially. Now, if I don’t like to spend time with my kids because they annoy me, or I’m “too busy,” or because I think that’s my wife’s job or the job of other family members or church members, then I can use this verse in an evil way to claim that I’m doing a good God imitation because I’ve given them a new iPod, a new laptop, a good television set for their bedroom, and I make sure they see all the newest movies and have all the most popular CDs. And, as a bonus, I can justify my own big-screen TV, my new motorcycle, and all my high-tech gadgets by proclaiming myself “favored of God,” due to my bold faith in using the “power of my tongue” to speak blessings on myself. It’s a two-for-one heresy special!

2. “Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.” (Matthew 20:20-21) Now, you may have read this portion of Scripture before and thought that this mom was being presumptuous, greedy, and prideful, and that her sons were pretty callous and selfish, too. After all, Jesus had just been explaining how He was going to be mocked, scourged, and crucified! If you thought that, then you would have about 2000 years worth of Christian scholarship and Biblical commentary on your side, as well as the context of the passage to back you up. But, oh no, says the prosperity preacher! Those scholars and commentators were bound up in dead religion! They had a spirit of fear and didn’t want you to know that this was a good mother who only wanted to spoil her children (like any good parent.) After all, you are going to get a mansion in Heaven one day anyway! Why wait? Name it and claim it now – and get your mama to front you while you’re at it. Otherwise you might wind up spending eternity on the back side of nowhere, and you are a child of the King – you deserve better than that.

If your preacher is heading in this direction, beware of these false teachings, and remember: to “spoil” something is to make it “go bad.” Loving parents strive to avoid spoiling their children. True Christian faith is not demanding what you deserve. It is enduring with patience, courage, and dependence upon God, knowing that this world is not your home, and that your citizenship is in a Heavenly city, where your greatest treasure will not be gold, sliver, mansions, dominion, or possessions, but the eternal presence of the One Who alone is worthy to be adored. Teach your children that true Christian love involves discipline, chastening, contentment, and the fear of the Lord.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

Matthew 6:19

Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

Exodus 18:21

And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:

Deuteronomy 17:19

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.

Proverbs 19:18

Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee.

Deuteronomy 8:5

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Proverbs 13:24

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

Hebrews 12:5-8

Warning Sign #2: A Fixation on “Abundance”

April 30, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 8 Comments
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The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

John 10:10

For many preachers the word “abundantly” in the verse above is a good “shoutin’ word.” However, beware the real cause for the shouting. This verse speaks of abundant life, not abundant material possessions. As a child of God, you have an inheritance of eternal life with God the Father through Jesus Christ. You have absolutely no right, however, to a big screen television, the latest high tech gadgets, a trendy motorcycle, or a fancy state-of-the art modernized church auditorium. When a Good Preacher Going Bad starts fixating on “abundance” as the world defines abundance, he is only a short step from telling you that if you want to “live in increase” you had better start giving more money.

Warning Sign #1: Demanding What You Deserve

April 22, 2010 at 11:44 am | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 8 Comments
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There he is, preaching away. You’ve known and listened to him preach for years. No one is perfect, and everyone says things by accident from time to time that just didn’t come out the way they intended them to or that could be taken the wrong way out of context. However, as you sit there, and this is blurted out, sirens, flashing lights, and all sorts of warning signals should be exploding in your brain if you know anything at all about the God of Scripture:

You can go around broke and naked if you want to, but I deserve more – I’m a child of God!

Good Preacher Going Bad

Warning. The above quote bears all the ear marks of a preacher who has been listening to too much of what is called the “prosperity gospel,” which is really another gospel, and which is really not the Gospel of God at all. (Galatians 1:6-7)

True Christians are children of God – both by regeneration and adoption. But that by no means can be rightfully taken to mean that we “deserve” good gifts or worldly possessions or special “favor” from God. God blesses His children because of His grace, mercy, and love, none of which are deserved.


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