The Power of Prayer

October 8, 2014 at 10:40 am | Posted in Do You Know the Way?, John | 6 Comments
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Do You Know the Way? (John 14)

I. The Prepared Place (John 14:1-3)
II. The Particular Path (John 14:4-11)
III. The Power of Prayer (John 14:12-14)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

John 14:12-14 (emphasis added)

The power to do the “greater works” which Jesus promised was conditional. There was a reason for it. “Because I go to My Father.” The power to do the works that Jesus did can – and must – be accessed by prayer. This great truth is conditioned on praying in His name. This means praying according to the authority of His will.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Matthew 6:9

The name of the Lord is more than just an identifier; it is the expression of Who He is and what He has commanded. “In Jesus’s name” must be more than the tag-line or the closing salutation on our prayers. It is a way of asking Jesus to intercede for us before the throne of God, of conforming our will to God’s will. The false belief that we can coerce the Lord into doing our will should not be comforting at all. Such a thought should be horrifying. However, trusting the Lord with my heartfelt desires is extremely reassuring.

I don’t want to make it seem like I’m campaigning against the literal meaning of the text in John 14:14. Jesus is not limited in power, and we certainly can ask Him for anything that would not violate Scripture, and even have faith that it will come to pass. What I’m trying to do is guard against what is called “prosperity theology” or sometimes the “prosperity gospel.” According to this false doctrine, God must give us what we want if we name the name of Jesus in our prayers.

Why would preachers teach such a thing when it makes it seem like every cancer ward, orphanage, broken marriage, and even cemetery plot is a monument to unanswered prayer? The answer is that, it is because people don’t spend money without a guarantee. Prosperity preachers are promising material blessings in exchange for money. It’s sort of a baptized Ponzi scheme. And this is their “out” when they can’t produce the results: “You didn’t have enough faith.” So when you give Benny Hinn $1000 and your back is still killing you, it’s not his fault (and it’s obviously not God’s fault). It’s just that you didn’t “mean it” enough when you asked in Jesus’s name. You need to show you “mean it” more by giving another $1000 – or better yet $5000.

I don’t want to be standing near the proponents of this false Gospel at the Great White Throne judgment, because Jesus takes His name very seriously. The power of prayer is attached to Jesus’s name, and Jesus’s name is never disconnected from His will. He is your LORD, not your genie. That’s why John 14:16 seems so out of place if you don’t understand this context.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:16

Next time, we will see how John 14:16 leads us into the next subject: the promise of the Paraclete.

Warning Sign #7: Playing Politics

July 21, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Posted in When Good Preachers Go Bad | 6 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, John, When Good Preachers Go Bad | 13 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 #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 | 10 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, worshiping 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, silver, 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 John, When Good Preachers Go Bad | 9 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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