Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Imago Dei - Guest post by Andrew Lodge

**This is in response to a question after a study of the Heidelberg Catechism Lord's Days 2 and 3.**

Good evening all,

There was a question last Lord's day regarding the verity of the image of God (Imago Dei) and how this has continued after the fall.

Genesis 1:26, 27 is the first place we see that Man is made in God's image,

   [26] Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
    [27] So God created man in his own image,
        in the image of God he created him;
        male and female he created them.

    [28] And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” [29] And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. [30] And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. [31] And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
(Genesis 1:26-31 ESV)

which has more implications than we will consider here. What did come up, is how this image endows humans with an innate value and worth especially after the fall. 

We see in Genesis 5:3 that the Author makes it known that Adam   

"begot a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth." 

Seth, as his brothers and sisters before them, was not brought into this world pure, that is, free from sin, and therefore did not mirror God's image as his parents had done before the fall.

This is not to say that man had lost all semblance of the Imago Dei, and therefore his innate worth, for we see that even after the fall, man is identified with bearing God's image:

    [5] And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.
    [6] “Whoever sheds the blood of man,
        by man shall his blood be shed,
    for God made man in his own image.

    [7] And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.”
(Genesis 9:5-7 ESV)

    [5] So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
    How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! [6] And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. [7] For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, [8] but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. [9] With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. [10] From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. [11] Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? [12] Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
(James 3:5-12 ESV)

To be clear as this concludes, mankind is fallen into a miserable state, (Genesis 6:5; 8:21; Romans 3:10-18 - See Below) which has marred God's image in us. For we do not resemble Him, in that He has not sin in Him (Psalm 92:15, 2 Corinthians 5:21, &c. - See Below). Our sinfulness has terribly disfigured this resemblance and yet not completely removed it as we saw in Genesis 9:6 and James 3:9.

Mankind has worth, from the yet unborn child to the man on his deathbed. Therefore murder, as well as any other sin, is incredibly deplorable, for it is to destroy an image bearer of God. 

    [5] The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. [6] And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. [7] So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” [8] But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
(Genesis 6:5-8 ESV)

    [20] Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. [21] And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. [22] While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
(Genesis 8:20-22 ESV)

    [9] What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, [10] as it is written:
    “None is righteous, no, not one;
        [11] no one understands;
        no one seeks for God.
    [12] All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
        no one does good,
        not even one.”
    [13] “Their throat is an open grave;
        they use their tongues to deceive.”
    “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
        [14] “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
    [15] “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
        [16] in their paths are ruin and misery,
    [17] and the way of peace they have not known.”
        [18] “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    [19] Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. [20] For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
(Romans 3:9-20 ESV)

    [12] The righteous flourish like the palm tree
        and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
    [13] They are planted in the house of the LORD;
        they flourish in the courts of our God.
    [14] They still bear fruit in old age;
        they are ever full of sap and green,
    [15] to declare that the LORD is upright;
        he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

(Psalm 92:12-15 ESV)

    [16] From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. [17] Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. [18] All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; [19] that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. [20] Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. [21] For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:16-21 ESV)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

Recently, I have been teaching a catechism class for the youth in my church.  This past week we went over what the gospel is.  We spent about 45 minutes discussing what the gospel was, using the following 4 steps: God, Man, Christ, Response.  The basic gist of it is:
"First, God is a just, wise, Holy, omnipotent, loving, wrathful, glorious God who hates sin and wickedness.  This same God created the world, and mankind in His image.  Second, those humans who were created in His image sinned, and caused the whole human race to be born in sin from that point on, totally inadequate and without hope.  The human race has no chance of salvation because of their wretched sinful hearts, and the fact that Scripture teaches that everything done apart from faith is sin. Third, God sent Jesus Christ as the saviour of those wretched sinners.  He is fully God and fully man, He lived a perfect life, and died a sacrificial death to take upon Himself the entirety of God's wrath for His people.  Fourth, in light of this, we are commanded to repent of our sins and turn and walk towards Jesus.  If we love Him we will do as He commands, and we will confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead."
In light of this, I wanted to create an easy to follow guide when talking to others about this wonderful truth.  I have taken each point and boiled it down to questions with the answers being entirely scripture.  This is hopefully a useful tool for anyone that is looking for a simple and concise way to tell others about this wonderful good news of our Saviour's sacrifice on our behalf.  I want to add a small caveat here before you go on.  This is simply a guide for your reference.  You may want to add more scripture to each point or add something that you think the Bible teaches as an essential to a gospel presentation.  If you do see anything that could be improved or changed, please comment and let me know.

1. God
(1) Who is God?  - "To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." - 1 Timothy 1:17
(2) What has God done? - "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." - Genesis 1:1

2. Man
(1) How was man created? - "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." - Genesis 1:27-28
(2) What went wrong? - "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned" - Romans 5:12
(3) What is the state of our hearts? - "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"  - Jeremiah 17:9
(4) Are human beings righteous? - "as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one."  - Romans 3:10-12

3. Christ
(1) Who is Christ? - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." - John 1:1-5  "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." - 2 Corinthians 5:21
(2) What has Christ done? - "Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know- this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." - Acts 2:22-24
(3) Why did Christ do this? - "Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." - Hebrews 9:22  "For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." - Hebrews 10:4  "And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. - Hebrews 10:10

4. Response
(1) What do we do? - "because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved." - Romans 10:9-10   "And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." - Acts 2:38
(2) How should we live? - "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" - 1 John 5:1-5   ""For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit," - Luke 6:43

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

May a woman preach?

    Should women be preaching in church, or in para-church ministries?  This is the question I would like to attempt to answer today, using simply the Biblical texts that deal with this particular issue.  I will do my best to answer to the texts that people use to support their position and I will use the five rules of Hermeneutics: 1. Context 2. Context 3. Context 4. Narrative is not normative 5. A text cannot say what it never said.  In this post, I will attempt to show you that in no circumstance should a woman be preaching to men in any church or church related event such as a conference or para-church ministry.  One last thing I would like to mention is that I will not be looking at this from a worldly perspective.  I recently have talked to people who said that ‘If a woman has a gift for preaching, then she should be using it’.  This statement is pragmatism, and is a worldly perspective that is not found in the Bible.  The argument is flawed, and does not square with what the Bible says, therefore I will not be addressing it in this particular post.

        For this question I will look at two passages in depth, and refer to a few more in passing.  I will do my best to give the proper context for each of these texts, however you can always find a link to an online bible on the right of this page if you do not have one of your own.

    The first text I would like to look at with you is 1 Corinthians xiv. 26-40:

[26] What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. [27] If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. [28] But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. [29] Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. [30] If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. [31] For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, [32] and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. [33] For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
    As in all the churches of the saints, [34] the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. [35] If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
    [36] Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? [37] If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. [38] If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. [39] So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. [40] But all things should be done decently and in order.
(1 Corinthians 14:26-40)

What we are seeing here is Paul addressing the disorder that he had seen in the Corinthian church.  If you have time, read the entire book of 1 Corinthians, and you will see that Paul is responding to questions from the Corinthian believers as well as rebuking them for the things that they were doing incorrectly.  In this passage in particular we see in verses 34-35 that Paul is speaking to submission by the women to their husbands.  He qualifies this at the beginning in verse 33 by saying that this is in all the churches of the saints, not just this one church but all churches.  Now, it is very important that we don’t look at this passage in isolation, we must look at the context of the entire letter and even of the entire Bible.  In light of that lets look a few chapters back in 1 Corinthians xi:

Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
(1 Corinthians 11:2-16)

I wanted to show you this passage, not because I want to discuss head coverings, but because I want you to see that Paul is allowing women to pray and prophesy in the church.  Now, you may think that this passage clashes with the previous one, and that we have two different and contradictory commands.  However, this is not the case, because the passage in chapter xiv is speaking specifically to disorder in the church, and it is likely that there were problems in this particular area when it came to women in this church.  Paul tells us in xiv. 33 that our God is not a God of confusion, immediately before talking about women, this shows us that it is better for a woman not to speak at all than to speak confusion, something that would not be for the building up of the brethren.  At this point I’m sure you are all very confused because I just allowed for women to speak in church, to edify and build up the body.  I believe that this is necessary before I go to the next passage here, to show that there is a place for everyone in the church, both men and women. 

       Continuing on now, I will show you from 1 Timothy ii. that the specific gift of preaching and having the authority over the church is not for women.  

[2:1] First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, [2] for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. [3] This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, [4] who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, [6] who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. [7] For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
    [8] I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; [9] likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, [10] but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. [11] Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. [12] I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. [13] For Adam was formed first, then Eve; [14] and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. [15] Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.
(1 Timothy 2)

As you can see from this passage, Paul is giving responsibility to both the men and the women in verses 8-11, and then in verse 12 he tells us explicitly that a woman is not to teach or exercise authority over a man.  He then goes on to give the reason why this is the case by going back to creation, and the order in which mankind was created, with Adam first, then Eve.  The context of this passage, you can see here, is very clear.  This command is reinforced as you read the rest of 1 Timothy, with the qualifications of the elders in the next chapter, explicitly stating that an Elder is to be a man, and not a woman.

       As we can see, from both the passages in 1 Corinthians, as well as in 1 Timothy.  Women are not to be lesser in the church, they are not second class by any means, but they are not permitted to preach and exercise authority over a man.  In fact, there are many other passages that tell of the responsibilities of women in the church, for example Titus ii. 1-8:

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
(Titus 2:1-8)

Here we have the command to teach what accords with sound doctrine, and the women are given specific instructions, as well as the men.  The idea is, that women are to be teaching other women with sound doctrine.  This is a wonderful responsibility on both sides.  It does not change the fact, however, that Paul is clear in forbidding women to have authority over a man, in the church context.  Now, there is one thing that I didn’t deal with today, that I hope to soon, that is, I will talk about what the qualifications are for preachers.  This is because, just as women are not to preach, there are many (if not most) men who are not qualified to be preachers either.  God is very concerned that the ones who are delivering His Holy Word are qualified and obeying His Word.  That, however, is a topic for a different day. 

     I hope that I have shown you that Scripture is clear on this subject, and that it is not a matter of men being better then women.  That this is simply a matter of the order that God has created in His Kingdom, the order that will benefit us most.  I pray that you are edified by this, and that it will incite you to do your own study of the Sacred Scripture to see and hear what God has spoken to us through the prophets and apostles. May the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ our Lord be with you.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Is T.D. Jakes Still A Modalist Heretic?

This is part of the Doctrine Statement from T.D. Jakes' church The Potters House:

There is one God, Creator of all things, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in three manifestations: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is true God and true man, having been conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He died on the cross, the complete and final sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures. Further, He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven, where, at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He is now our High Priest and Advocate. 

The Holy Spirit
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and during this age, to convict men of sin, regenerate the believing sinner, indwell, guide, instruct, and empower the believer for godly living and service. Man - Man was created in the image of God but fell into sin and is therefore lost, and only through regeneration by the Holy Spirit can salvation and spiritual life be obtained."

This is the definition of the heresy called Modalism:

"Modalism, also called Sabellianism, is the unorthodox belief that God is one person who has revealed himself in three forms or modes in contrast to the Trinitarian doctrine where God is one being eternally existing in three persons. According to Modalism, during the incarnation, Jesus was simply God acting in one mode or role, and the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was God acting in a different mode. Thus, God does not exist as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the same time. Rather, He is one person and has merely manifested himself in these three modes at various times. Modalism thus denies the basic distinctiveness and coexistence of the three persons of the Trinity."

This will be a short post about the ministry and heresy of modalism that T.D. Jakes teaches and believes.  I have recently come across people who think that in 2012, Jakes changed his opinion and belief on the doctrine of the Trinity and now accepts a traditional Trinitarian view.  However, if you look at the doctrine statement from Jakes’ church, you can see a few things that should set off alarm bells that there is a problem with his theology.  
First, in the description of God, he says that God exists in three manifestations.  This is a huge problem, as the word manifestations immediately tells us that God isn’t actually existing as three individual persons simultaneously, but as three different manifestations that are not all necessarily at the same time.  It is very important that we see that God does not exist merely as three different manifestations, but as three persons.  Three individuals who make up one God.
Second, in the description of Jesus, you see that at the end it says “He is now our High Priest and Advocate.” The problem with this statement, is that Jesus is eternally our ultimate High Priest, there has never been a time where Jesus was not High Priest, he is a High Priest forever.  I will demonstrate this through three passages from scripture:

First, Hebrews 7:15-28

[15] This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, [16] who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. [17] For it is witnessed of him,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
[18] For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness [19] (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
[20] And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, [21] but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever.’”
[22] This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.
[23] The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, [24] but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. [25] Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
[26] For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. [27] He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. [28] For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
(Hebrews 7:15-28 ESV)

As you can see in verse 17, and also in verse 21, that Jesus is a priest forever.  Now you probably also notice that Jesus was made a priest, I want to point out that there are many points of evidence in scripture that He was “made” a High Priest before the foundations of the world.  We look at Revelation 13:5-10:

[5] And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. [6] It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. [7] Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, [8] and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. [9] If anyone has an ear, let him hear:
[10] If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
(Revelation 13:5-10 ESV)

In verse 8 we see that the book of life of the Lamb who was slain was written before the foundation of the world.  I point this out because the High Priestly work of Jesus was that He offered the superior sacrifice of Himself, the Lamb who was slain.  This is seen most clearly in Hebrews chapter 10:

[8] When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), [9] then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. [10] And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
[11] And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. [12] But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, [13] waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. [14] For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
(Hebrews 10:8-14 ESV)

Verse 12 shows us that Christ offered the single sacrifice for sins.  That sacrifice that we saw in Revelation 13.  I believe that this shows that the human language of ‘made’ is simply anthropomorphic, because we can’t fathom a time where time didn’t exist.  So Jesus was ‘made’ High Priest at the same time as He offered the superior sacrifice for sins, the Lamb who was slain, Himself.  Therefore, Jesus has always been the High Priest and to say, as Jakes has said here that He is now High Priest is another sign of the heresy of Modalism, that somehow things have changed now, and that God is now manifested as High Priest. 

T.D. Jakes is not an idiot.  He knows that we who hold to an orthodox Trinitarian view of God, are going to fight against this heresy of Modalism.  He knows the issues, and he knows how to be subtle in placing it in his doctrine statement.  However, when you look at what he is saying and compare it to scripture you see that there are inconsistencies.  This man is a modalist, you don’t use the word manifestations when speaking of the three Persons of God, unless that’s what you believe.  If he really had changed his position on this doctrine then he wouldn’t use words that show that he believes just the same as before.  This man is dangerous and is not someone that an orthodox Christian should be listening to or associating with.

Embracing Good Doctrine and the Proper Interpretation of Scripture - Grace to You

**I am taking a break from my posts on Bethel to show you how Scripture is well applied to a statement of doctrine in a church.  For my example I have taken a statement from Grace To You Ministries affiliate church, Grace Church.**

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin (Luke 13:3, 5; 1 Thessalonians 1:9), pursue Christ (Matthew 11: 28-30; John 17:3), and obey Him (1 John 2:3). It isn't enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they don't love and obey Him. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).

Taken From: http://www.gracechurch.org/About/Gospel

Luke 13:3

1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2 And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?
3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?
5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
6 And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.
7 And he said to the vinedresser, 'Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?'
8 And he answered him, 'Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.
9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'"
-Luke 13:1-9

What we are looking for here, is that Grace to You (hereafter GTY) is correctly using the Biblical text when they cite it as a proof for their doctrinal statement.  In this case, they have stated that repentance is a necessary part of saving faith.  That true saving faith will indeed result in repentance.  In this passage, we see that Christ is saying that all sinners are equal.  That these particular tragedies were not as a result of the people's sins.  Thus when he says to the people that unless they repent they will perish, we see in the larger context of verses 6-9 that this perishing is not simply a earthly death, but an eternal death.  Therefore, as you can see, this passage supports what GTY is saying in their doctrine.

1 Thessalonians 1:9

2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,
3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,
5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.
9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
-1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

In this next passage, we are seeing why GTY uses the particular term 'turn from your sin'.  The verse that they cite gives us a great example of what repentance looks like practically with the Thessalonian people 'turned to God from idols'.  The context supports the doctrine, and specifically the terminology GTY used to describe repentance.

Matthew 11:28-30

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.
21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.
23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you."
25 At that time Jesus declared, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;
26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
 - Matthew 11:20-30

Here we have a great example of the invitation that Christ gives to us to pursue him and take His yoke which is easy and light.  GTY tells us in their doctrinal statement that part of true saving faith and repentance is a pursuing of Jesus Christ.  In the larger context we also see in verse 20 that the cities that Jesus is denouncing, He was doing so because of lack of repentance.  This contrast between the cities and Christ's invitation is striking, and the inference drawn here is that the opposite of not repenting like those cities, is going to Jesus to find rest for our souls.

John 17:3

1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,
2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.
5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
6 "I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.
8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.
10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.
11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.
19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
- John 17:1-19

This is again a passage telling us why it is important to pursue Christ.  We are looking at Jesus' High Priestly prayer, and we see that everlasting life, that true saving faith, is found in knowing God, and Jesus whom He has sent.  The context here is just amazing, that Jesus would pray for us like this, is absolutely incredible.  When we see this, I believe we should have no response but to praise Him!

1 John 2:3

1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:
6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
9 Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.
10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.
11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
- 1 John 2:1-11

The next portion of the doctrine that we see here is that we will obey Christ if we truly repent.  We can see here that verses 3-11 greatly displays this doctrine.  If we truly are the disciples of Jesus, and have true saving faith, our lives will change, and we will obey His commandments.  So far it is obvious that all of the statements that GTY has made in their doctrinal statement have been backed up by a correct reading and interpretation of the Scripture.

James 2:19

18 But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe-and shudder!
20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;
23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"-and he was called a friend of God.
24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
 - James 2:18-26

This is a very interesting passage in general, and is important for us to remember as we share the gospel with people.  It is not enough to simply acknowledge and believe in God.  There must be something accompanying your faith to show that it is true.  GTY is not saying, nor is the Bible, that works are necessary to achieve salvation, but that works necessarily flow from true saving faith.  We are not saved by our works, but we are saved to our works.  Believing in facts is not enough, true saving faith will bring about repentance.

Ephesians 2:10

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-
3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-
6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands-
12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
-Ephesians 2:1-13

I feel that I don't even need to expound here, as the verse and entire passage are so clear that our faith will show itself in good works.  Just as in the passage in James, so here in Ephesians we see the outworking of our faith is works, and that we are not saved by them (vv. 8-9).


To conclude, if you have read my two previous posts, you saw how badly the Word of God can be twisted to come up with foolish doctrines that have no basis in true Christianity.  I wanted to write this post, because there are good churches out there that do not twist the Scriptures and that use them properly.  GTY is one such organization and church, and there are others out there.  My hope in these posts is that you will look at your churches doctrines and statements of faith and will open your Bible and make sure that they are not twisting God's Word.  Remember as you do this, the 5 rules of hermeneutics.
4.Narrative is not Normative
5.A text can never say what it never said.
If you can follow these rules and test everything, you will be a better informed Christian and you will know what God says in His word.  Semper Reformanda.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Refuting Bad Doctrine and the Twisting of Scripture - Bethel - Part 2

**This post is part of a series discussing the incorrect doctrines and teachings coming out of Bethel Redding, Jesus Culture and the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.  Bethel is a huge church with a lot of influence.  Jesus Culture music is in many churches all over the world, and there are big problems in the doctrine and theology that comes in that music, and through this church.  I am writing these posts to show that what we see as bad teaching coming from Bethel has its roots in their incorrect statements of what they believe.  I will take statements from various parts of Bethel’s websites and go through the scripture that they give in its larger context to show that what they are teaching is not found in Sacred Scripture.**

“God is Good – What does it look like?”

“God’s desire is to prosper us in every area of our lives: physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally and vocationally. (Isaiah 26:3; John 10:10; Luke 9:56; Rom. 5:8; Rom. 8:1; 3 John 1:2; Gen. 12:1-3; Jer. 29:11)” – Taken from http://bssm.net/about/corevalues

What I will be doing here is, first of all, going through each scripture to show that it does not support what they are claiming.  Once I have shown that, I will attempt to show Biblically, that the opposing position is true and supported by the Word of God.

Isaiah 26:3

[25:1] O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
[2] For you have made the city a heap,
the fortified city a ruin;
the foreigners' palace is a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.
[3] Therefore strong peoples will glorify you;
cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
[4] For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
[5] like heat in a dry place.
You subdue the noise of the foreigners;
as heat by the shade of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is put down.
[6] On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
[7] And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
[8] He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
[9] It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the LORD; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
[10] For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain,
and Moab shall be trampled down in his place,
as straw is trampled down in a dunghill.
[11] And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it
as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim,
but the LORD will lay low his pompous pride together with the skill of his hands.
[12] And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down,
lay low, and cast to the ground, to the dust.
[26:1] In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
“We have a strong city;
he sets up salvation
as walls and bulwarks.
[2] Open the gates,
that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in.
[3] You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
[4] Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.
[5] For he has humbled
the inhabitants of the height,
the lofty city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the ground,
casts it to the dust.
[6] The foot tramples it,
the feet of the poor,
the steps of the needy.”
(Isaiah 25-26:6 ESV)

            This passage is a really good example of a text that is ripped out of context.  What Bethel is telling everyone, is that this text is a promise that is given for you and me, and that we should be claiming this promise as our own.  Now, I only gave you the previous chapter as context here, if you want more, read Isaiah 24-27 and you will get a much better idea of what Isaiah is talking about here.  To summarize, this whole passage of Isaiah is about the final judgment, that final day.  So this promise that Bethel is claiming for themselves is actually a promise for the end of the age, a time when those who are saved will be brought to that place of perfect peace for all time.

John 10:10

[10:1] “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. [2] But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. [3] To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. [4] When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. [5] A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” [6] This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
[7] So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. [8] All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. [9] I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. [10] The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. [11] I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. [12] He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. [13] He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. [14] I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, [15] just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. [16] And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. [17] For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. [18] No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
[19] There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. [20] Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” [21] Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

(John 10:1-21 ESV)

            This is probably your basic proof text for the health, wealth, prosperity and name it and claim it heresy.  This text epitomizes what they believe and gives them all the fuel they need to shout you down because they claim that they have been promised this prosperous life.  The problem is, that this text must be read in the full context of the Bible.  To take this one verse isolated from everything else, sure seems to say that we should expect a wealthy life as Christians.  However, as we will look at once we get through Bethel’s proof texts, is the more full view that the Bible has of what the life of the Christian is going to be like.  What we will see, is that we will have an abundant life as a Christian.  But that abundance is not defined by material wealth, good health, a good vocation, or even good emotional health.  Rather, it is defined by God, and the fact that our life is an abundant life in view of eternity.

Luke 9:56

[37] On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. [38] And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. [39] And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him. [40] And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” [41] Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” [42] While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. [43] And all were astonished at the majesty of God.
But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, [44] “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” [45] But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
[46] An argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. [47] But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side [48] and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”
[49] John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” [50] But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”
[51] When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. [52] And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. [53] But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. [54] And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” [55] But he turned and rebuked them. [56] For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went on to another village.
[57] As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” [58] And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” [59] To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” [60] And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” [61] Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” [62] Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

(Luke 9:37-62 ESV)

            First thing at this point is a small caveat.  The part of the verse that Bethel is using to define this point of their doctrine is italicized in the passage above.  It is not in the ESV so I had to take it from the Authorized Version (KJV).  It is a textual variant, however, I don’t want to get into textual variants at this point so we shall move on.  This passage is a pretty weak attempt at proof texting.  If you look at the wider context, this is simply a statement that Jesus made that in general, while He was on earth, it was not His time to destroy, but to save.  We see in other texts in Scripture that at the end of the age, Jesus will come as the bearer of Divine Judgment and Divine wrath, but when He spoke this, it was not what God had prepared for Him.  In short, nothing in this verse, or the passage at large points to a prosperity in our lives, but simply, a description of Christ’s work at the time of His earthly ministry.  Going a little further in the text though, we see that the opposite of Bethel’s doctrine is actually taught by Jesus.  In verses 57-62, Jesus tells the people who want to follow Him explicitly, that they are not going to be wealthy, they won’t have a stable home, and they will be on the move constantly.  They won’t even have the time to say goodbye to their families.

Romans 5:8

[5:1] Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. [2] Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. [3] Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, [4] and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, [5] and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
[6] For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. [7] For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—[8] but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [9] Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. [10] For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. [11] More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
[12] Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

(Romans 5:1-12 ESV)
            Full disclosure on this one, I don’t see how they even can use this as a proof text for this doctrine.  We have a glorious truth here of our salvation, the mercy and grace of God in sending Jesus to die for us.  And if we look back at the last Scripture cited in Luke, that salvation and following Jesus will require leaving everything behind and not being prosperous.

Romans 8:1

[21] So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. [22] For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, [23] but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. [24] Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? [25] Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
[8:1] There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. [3] For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, [4] in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. [5] For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. [6] For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. [7] For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. [8] Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
[9] You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. [10] But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. [11] If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
[12] So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. [13] For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. [14] For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. [15] For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” [16] The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, [17] and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

(Romans 7:21-8:17 ESV)

            We see here again, a fantastic truth that we have in Christ Jesus.  We have no condemnation because He paid it all on the cross at Calvary.  We truly are wretched sinners in need of a perfect savior, we are under so much condemnation without Jesus.  But the fantastic news is that we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb without spot or blemish.  We have no condemnation because we are in Christ, we are not going to Hell because of His sacrifice.  As far as Bethel using this text is concerned, I am insulted that they would take a gospel truth and twist it to say that this means they will prosper in this life.  This passage has nothing to do with health, wealth, and prosperity.  It has everything to do with wretched sinners saved by the blood of Jesus Christ which was shed for us.

3 John 2

[1:1] The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.
[2] Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. [3] For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. [4] I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
[5] Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, [6] who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. [7] For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. [8] Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.
[9] I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. [10] So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
[11] Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. [12] Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.
[13] I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. [14] I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.
[15] Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.

(3 John ESV)

            3 John is a wonderful book, short, sweet and to the point.  I love how John is sending a letter to a friend and disciple of his.  I just like how in verse 14 that he is eager to talk face to face with his friend.  And as far as verse 2 is concerned, I think it is great to see the heart of John for his friend.  This is a simple greeting with a wish for good health.  Again, not a promise that we will have prosperity in life, in fact, John is more concerned with the truth than he is with prosperity.  Read this book, and then read it again.

Genesis 12:1-3

[12:1] Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. [2] And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. [3] I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
[4] So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. [5] And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, [6] Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. [7] Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. [8] From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. [9] And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.

(Genesis 12:1-9 ESV)

            I’m going to be honest here, this is almost ridiculous.  To include this as a proof text is just laughable.  This is a blessing for Abram, not you, not me, not Bethel.  Why they would even think it was is beyond me.  Simple hermeneutics that I learned when I was 13 would never lead me to think that I can just read myself into passages and claim blessings that weren’t given to me.  That is called arrogant eisegesis, when someone puts themselves into the Bible to claim things that they have no right to.

Jeremiah 29:11

[4] “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: [5] Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. [6] Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. [7] But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. [8] For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, [9] for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.
[10] “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. [11] For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. [12] Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. [13] You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. [14] I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

(Jeremiah 29:4-14 ESV)

            Read the last part of the commentary on the last passage.  You can’t just insert yourself into the Bible and claim promises that were made to someone who is not you.  This passage is very specifically talking to the Israelites who are in Babylon.  You could maybe look at it slightly more broadly and say that the blessing even extended to the next generation to follow, but no more than that.  If you read this verse in the context of the whole passage, you will see that ripping verses kicking and screaming out of context is just a really bad idea, and kind of dumb.

What does the Bible actually say?

            In this final section, I would like to point out some passages of scripture, in their context, for your consideration.  We must remember to look at the whole Bible, and not just individual verses.  That is the only way that we can truly know what God is saying to each and every one of us through His inspired and infallible word.

Physical Prosperity?

            Read the book of Job.  I know that the 4th rule of hermeneutics is ‘narrative is not normative’, so I don’t expect you to look at that as a rule of life for the follower of God.  I do want to point out though, that God allowed Job to be wrecked physically to show His glory even more powerfully.  For another good example of God allowing His people to continue in sickness, we will look at 1 Timothy 5:

            [21] In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. [22] Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. [23] (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) [24] The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. [25] So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.
(1 Timothy 5:21-25 ESV)

            Now, Paul doesn’t feel the need to bring it up as a major theme of his letter, but we can see in verse 23 that Timothy had frequent ailments and some sort of stomach problem.  So if you really start to think about it, Paul loved Timothy as a son.  And we know that Paul healed some.  So if this doctrine that Bethel espouses is actually true, then why didn’t Paul just heal Timothy from these ailments?  It doesn’t make sense, unless you see that Scripture doesn’t actually promise physical prosperity for all believers.  That is a lie.

Mental, Spiritual and Emotional Prosperity

            This one I find very interesting.  As I was thinking about this, it dawned on me that I do find that people often become much more stable emotionally when they are saved, also mental issues can often go away.  However, this is not something that happens across the board.  If you ever have the chance, read some of Charles Spurgeon’s life.  The Prince of Preachers, who was a devout Christian man, was often afflicted with long seasons of depression.  This is arguably one of the best preachers of all time, a man blessed by God to show forth Christ to thousands, and yet he struggled mentally.  Looking to Scripture, I want to show you one of the battles that I have had, and that Paul had, looking at Romans 7 we read:

            [13] Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. [14] For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. [15] For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. [16] Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. [17] So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. [18] For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. [19] For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. [20] Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
            [21] So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. [22] For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, [23] but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. [24] Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? [25] Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
(Romans 7:13-25 ESV)

            The tension that you feel when you read this, you have a tendency to forget that the one writing this was an Apostle.  A man directly sent by Jesus Christ, who was a Pharisee of Pharisees and he struggled spiritually and emotionally through these issues.  You will have victory at times over these issue through Christ, but that will not always be the case.  And to have in your mind that God is always supposed to make you prosper will really bum you out if you don’t realize that He is teaching you through those tough times.

Vocational Prosperity

            I feel like I have already addressed this when we looked at Luke above, but I will point out the passage from there that speaks to this pretty clearly, if you want the entire context, just scroll up a bit. 

[57] As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” [58] And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” [59] To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” [60] And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” [61] Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” [62] Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

(Luke 9:57-62 ESV)

            Pretty clear here that you won’t have a place to rest your head, maybe you won’t even have a job.  To follow Jesus is to leave everything behind.  Your personal vocational prosperity is not what God is interested in.  Following Him is more important than you making a lot of money, or always loving your job as much as possible.  I don’t deny that those things do happen, and often God will bless you with money and a great job.  But you are not promised that life.  If it happens, praise the Lord, if not, praise the Lord.  Don’t go through your life always disappointed if God doesn’t give you the best job ever.  God has a plan and will fulfill that plan in your life.


            If you have made it all the way down here, I thank you for reading and I pray that this post has been edifying to you.  Be careful who you listen to, never with an open mind, always with an open Bible.  The Prosperity Gospel is a heresy, a lie from the pit of Hell.  Don’t fall prey to Bethel’s teachings, always test everything by the word of God. 

May God bless you in your pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.  Remember the 5 rules of hermeneutics:

1.     Context
2.     Context
3.     Context
4.     Narrative is not Normative
5.     A text can never mean what it never meant.

Yours in Christ,

Forrest Demman