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Understanding The Mind of God:
A Message To The 'Charismatic Church'
'Prosperity Gospel' – Fact or Fallacy?
Kenneth Copeland, a prominent American charismatic televangelist wrote to those on his mailing list:
“While the world lives in fear of diseases that are outsmarting medical science, you and I can praise God that by the stripes of Jesus we are healed. While the world worries about calamity, you and I can wake up every day rejoicing that because we’ve made the Most High our refuge, no evil shall befall us nor any calamity come near our family.
“While the world wrings its hands in anxiety about finances, you and I can be confident that – no matter what the economy does – God meets our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus! Most importantly, while others cringe in terror knowing that death eventually awaits every person, you and I can look death in the face and laugh because we’ve already done all the dying we’re going to do. All that’s left for us is to live a long and satisfying life here on earth and then take off to be with Jesus!”
Oh yes?! Is that true?
Those words paint a wonderful picture of physical success and stability which we all desire. They give the impression that we shall not have any problems, that sickness or disease cannot touch us, financial constraints will not affect us, and that we will not die. Those promises, we are assured, are based on our faith. So long as we have faith and exercise it, we can be assured of such wonderful protection.
Is that true? Is that what the Bible really says? Or is that a subtle lie dressed up in gospel clothing?
It is a very popular and much proclaimed message today among those who have come to be known as faith teachers that all one needs to exercise is faith in Jesus and everything will be alright for us in this physical realm. But will it? Do you know what the Bible says for the future? Are these preachers faithfully proclaiming all the Bible says, the positive as well as the negative? Does their teaching accurately represent all the words of Jesus Christ, keeping all He said in a proper perspective? Are they preaching the full gospel, as they claim they are? Or do they preach only part of what the Bible says – the part which people want to hear?
There is much good in the ‘faith message’. But, as in everything else, you must be careful to sift the truth from the error. Also, you must not rely on partial truth as if it were complete. Incomplete truth can be as misleading as a complete lie.
The content of this booklet is a ‘prophetic’ message to those who have fallen for Satan’s lie that all will be well in the physical realm, so long as you have faith in Jesus.
Truth Mixed With Error
Please do not misunderstand. I am a charismatic Christian. I believe in the full Gospel (physical healing is a part of the atonement of Christ) and in the operation of all the spiritual gifts today. I have no denominational bias. The prophetic ministry my wife and I have been called into, for the benefit of others in the Body of Christ, operates by faith. There is no other way it could function; humanly our work would be impossible.
I recognise the wonderful promises of protection, deliverance, salvation and healing in God’s Word. I do not want to detract from their spiritual veracity. I believe and claim God’s healing and deliverance, paid for through the stripes of Jesus. I know that God has promised the supply of all our needs through Christ.
However, everything must be kept in proportion. God’s Word does NOT say all that is left for us is to live a long physically satisfying life here on earth and then take off to be with Jesus!
If that were the case, then the apostle Paul was an abject failure!
God promises to provide all our needs in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19), but he does not define what those needs are. Paul suffered want and physical deprivation. Some of what you might consider his physical needs were not always met. Was he devoid of faith? Hardly! He himself said “we live by faith, not by sight” (II Cor 5:7). Yet he suffered physically, was nearly beaten to death on two occasions; he was ship-wrecked, stoned, and whipped, endured hunger and thirst, nakedness and cold (II Cor 11:23-28). Despite Paul’s great faith, Jesus did not consider him ‘worthy’ to receive what the ‘faith preachers’ proclaim today.
“Just believe,” they say, “and all your needs will be met. You will be healed, have all your physical needs provided, all your financial debts cancelled out, and you can live a life brim-full and running over with happiness.”
There is much truth in those words. However it is not the whole truth. And that is where the danger lies! A mixture of truth and error can be far more dangerous than total error alone. Satan knows! When mixed with truth, the error is harder to detect and therefore can delude Christians – Satan’s primary target.
What is the truth about the promises of God through Jesus? What is the correct ‘faith teaching’? We shall address these issues in this publication.
The Azusa Street Prophecy
When the Pentecostal movement first began to revive the Christian Church back in the early 1900’s, God gave His people a warning. He gave them a prophetic message for the last days. Right at the beginning in Azusa Street, Los Angeles, where God decided to pour out His Spirit in a twentieth century second ‘Pentecost’, He gave them (and us) an admonition to beware what would be the end-result of this misplaced emphasis.
In the last days, three things will happen in the great Pentecostal movement:
There will be an overemphasis on power rather than on righteousness.
There will be an overemphasis on praise to a God they no longer pray to.
There will be an overemphasis on the gifts of the Spirit rather than on the Lordship of Christ.
That three-fold scenario, prophesied originally in 1906, is now in front of our very eyes:
1. The overemphasis on power is clearly seen in multitudes flocking to ‘miracle rallies’ for entertainment. But those same people are not interested in learning the truths of God which He wants restored at this hour. They don’t yearn for more of God’s holiness. They go for the spectacle. And evangelists pander to that desire.
2. Right now in America, there is an explosion in ‘Christian’ pop music. Christian rock festivals are proliferating. Hundreds of thousands are ‘turning to Christ’ and attending these events. But, most of these people do not pray, as the prophecy predicted. Prayer is communion with God that changes your life.
Most of these people don’t want a changed life. They merely want to have a good time, to indulge their passions or senses. Their pursuit is selfish and self-indulgent, not godly.
This upsurge in ‘Christian’ interest has devilish, sensual roots. It is not a revival generated by the Holy Spirit, but one from hell, to appeal to the spiritually undiscerning masses.
3. Likewise, the power of God manifesting in spiritual gifts, is in great demand. But false revivals which centre on God’s power also subtly deny the Lordship of Christ. It’s a matter of emphasis. The most fundamental Christian virtue is obedience generated within each person by God’s love.
TRUST AND OBEY is the time-honoured slogan. But how seldom is that emphasised today?! Teaching God-centred living is not the pivotal feature of most ‘Christian’ activity today. Instead, it’s rock concerts of fun and frolicking for the young, where the Lordship of Christ is supplanted by dancing with demons!
There is nothing wrong with God’s power. There is nothing wrong with praising God. And there is nothing wrong with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. What is wrong is the use of them and the desire or motive behind seeking them.
If we are not careful, our overemphasis can become an idolatrous trap. We can fail to see when we become side-tracked from the centrality of the Gospel message which is Christ. It can all happen so insidiously, so imperceptibly, that we fail to see how our true devotion can be eroded little by little by the cunning arch-deceiver the devil.
Why do so many desire the power of God? Why do so many desire the spiritual gifts? Why do so many desire healing?
All this desire can actually be of the flesh. It can be purely self-centred. Are we sure our desire is Christ-centred? Tragically, there are many Christians whose desire – for the power of God, for healing, and for the exercise of the spiritual gifts – is selfish. Instead of being God-centred, or Christ-centred, it becomes man-centred, self-centred!
Such Christians can even use the name of Jesus – prolifically – but still deny Him. That may sound a contradiction. Yet, the easiest way to deny Him is in our lifestyle. What we believe in our heart is shown by the way we live, not merely by what we say. We can profess and confess the name of Jesus until He is the only word on our tongues, but it will not change anything with God if there has not been a transformation in our lives from the heart.
Why do you obey God? Why do you profess His name? Is your love ‘cupboard love’? Do you ‘love’ Him because of what you get from Him? Or do you love Him because of who He is? Because you want to give to Him for what He has given to you? There can be a very fine line between an acceptable motive and an unacceptable one!
I could say, “ ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God [and one Lord Jesus Christ]. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder” (Jas 2:18,19).
The point is, what is your motive in proclaiming the name of Jesus? Why do you obey Him?
Physical or Spiritual?
If our motive is right, our focus will be spiritual, not physical. Our intent will be to do what is right, good and pleasing for Him who has called us. That will involve, not only faith, but also righteousness – right living. Our motive will be greatly concerned with pleasing Him, changing our personal lives to become like Him.
Too many Christians who have been drawn to Jesus through the avenue of the charismatic churches want Jesus for what they can get from Him. They want Him because of the gifts of the Spirit which they are able to exercise. They want Him for the healing He gives. They want Him because they enjoy what He gives them. None of those things are wrong in themselves. It is the motive behind pursuit which can be wrong.
What if you begin to be persecuted for your beliefs, as so many Christians are in third world countries? What if you are threatened with your life for possessing the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit? What if you face certain torture and death for your choice? It would not be such fun then. Would you still proclaim the name of Jesus in those circumstances?
There have been many dedicated Christians in totalitarian countries such as red China, Russia and its former satellite states who have been imprisoned and beaten to death for their adherence to the name of Christ. They were not lacking in faith! They were strong in faith – so strong that physical deprivation, pain and death were no deterrent to them remaining faithful to the One who died for them.
Yet, this is not what the ‘faith teachers’ would have you believe will occur in this life if you hold fast to your faith in Jesus. They proclaim a wonderful physical future for believers with dynamic faith. According to their teaching, the original apostles must have been all low in faith! They died as martyrs, except for John, who was banished to the Isle of Patmos. They all suffered for their witness to His name, as did thousands of other Christians since that time.
The truth is, Jesus did not promise us a cushy life of comfort and ease, happiness and plenty on a physical plane. He warned:
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matt 10:34).
That is not a pleasant message. It is one to which many Christians close their eyes. But we must be prepared for suffering and death in Jesus’ name.
Anyone who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me (v 38).
Jesus suffered persecution and a cruel death. He warns us not to expect anything different.
No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted Me they will persecute you also (Jn 15:20). In fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God (Jn 16:2).
For this reason, Jesus warned us to count the cost of being His disciples (Lk 14:27-33). “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple” (v 33). That is not included in the commonly taught ‘faith message’. Yet it is what Jesus taught.
You can miss the whole point of Christ’s teachings if you are not careful. Jesus’ message was primarily a spiritual message, not a physical one. The rewards are spiritual, not merely physical. Often, especially while we are spiritually immature, God will demonstrate His spiritual blessings to us in a physical way, so we are able to perceive. However, there comes a time when we must move on. We must grow up (Eph 4:13,14).We are not called to remain babes forever (Heb 6:1-3; I Cor 14:20).
The problem with the faith movement is that it is failing to move forward. It has fallen into apostasy. The fact that it is getting bigger and bigger in numbers, growing physically, reaching more and more people, is not evidence of God’s approval of all that is taught – despite the fact that signs and wonders follow the Word. God will even back up false ministers to demonstrate the power of Christ, but in the final judgement men (and women) with wrong motives will be rejected (Matt 7:21-23).
Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, but if you lose your life for Christ’s sake you will gain it in the resurrection.
We must all discern between spiritual and physical, and recognise what is most important to God. The apostle Paul was spiritually minded. Paul expressed the mind of God when he said,
I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death (Phil 3:10).
Not many Christians today want that! How many charismatics look forward to suffering for Christ, and physical death?!
The Mind of Christ
Humanly, none of us want to suffer like Jesus did. But sometimes God calls upon Christians to do so, for the sake of others. Jesus warned Paul at the outset that he should expect to have to endure great suffering for Jesus’ name (Acts 9:16). Paul had to endure suffering for the sake of the Colossians. He rejoiced that he was worthy to do so for the Body of Christ (Col 1:24). This is an expression of a truly spiritual mind.
Most of the Old Testament prophets suffered for the testimony they were commissioned to carry. They did not suffer for their lack of faith, but for the ultimate benefit of their hearers, who initially refused to listen. They suffered for the sins of others.
Paul wrote to the Romans:
…we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings, in order that we may also share in His glory (Rom 8:17).
If we expect to share in the glories of the resurrected Christ, we must be prepared to face suffering in this life too, as Jesus and all men of God did (Heb 11:26, 35-38).
Such a life is not a life without hope in such difficulties. It is FULL of hope! Paul stated quite categorically that, with Jesus, in dire circumstances “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom 8:37). His exaggeration was to drive the point home. You can’t literally be more than a conqueror. But Jesus living in you is more than enough to see you through, so you need not let adverse physical circumstances discourage you or cause you to fail.
It is true that Jesus died to pay the penalties of sin, so that we can be healed in every way – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually (Matt 8:16-17; Is 53:4-6; I Pet 2:24). But does that mean, then, that Christians are exempt from physical suffering and physical death because of what Jesus has bought for us?
Why, if Jesus has delivered us as Peter says (I Pet 2:24) from sickness and all suffering, does he predict only a few sentences later, that some Christians must expect to suffer for doing good? (I Pet 3:17.) Surely, this is one of the biggest conundrums without the mind of God!
There is an answer, but you can only understand if you discern between the physical and the spiritual. God is primarily concerned about your spiritual future. He will not deliver you from all adverse physical influences if they serve spiritual benefit to you in the long run. He wants you to develop His mind. That is His supreme object in life.
God did not deliver Job from his physical adversity until the purpose of that adversity was accomplished. It is important to note that Satan, not God, was the one who inflicted such a trial upon him. The righteous are not exempt from physical adversity inflicted by Satan, although God has promised to protect them through their ordeals (Ps 34:19). Such protection is principally spiritual in nature, although it can be physically manifested also, according to God’s purposes.
Jesus endured physical adversity in order to be tested. But He conquered Satan (Matt 4:1-11). He demonstrated that we are able, through the power of God, to overcome whatever spiritual ammunition Satan fires at us. God will not permit Christians to suffer more than He knows each person is capable of enduring (I Cor 10:13), but you cannot hope to be exempt. You ought not expect to be any different from the One who has gone before you.
If indeed we share in His sufferings… we may also share in His glory (Rom 8:17).
If you seek to avoid suffering at all costs, you cannot be accounted worthy to be His disciple (Matt 16:24-25). For various reasons, it is part of our spiritual development.
The life Jesus exemplified was one of selfless, not selfish, dedication. His willingness to deny self under extreme and trying circumstances was what enabled Him to conquer Satan. It is no different for each of us called to be like Him.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:5, NKJV).... He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Phil 2:8, NKJV).
A Dream from God: The Charismatic Church, A Temporary Building
On 23rd July 2001 God gave me this dream. I saw a glossy, colourful advert in a magazine. It was of a timber-clad building, like the large shed at our home. (This shed is big enough to live in, and it looks like a bungalow, but it is timber-framed with shiplap boarding outside. The construction is quick and relatively easy and inexpensive.) The man who placed the advert was offering this building for sale for £2,000, but it gave the impression that it was a permanent building, suitable for living in.
As I looked at it, I also thought it was either ready-built, or ready-made to erect in sections. But when I went to see the man I found out that it wasn’t. He was merely selling the timber for this shed for £2,000. You had to put it all together, and to build it just as any builder would have to do. In fact, the timber only cost half that amount or less! So, he was making a big profit out of this, and giving a wrong impression that he was providing an easy answer to people’s needs for a place to live. Effectively it was deceit.
While I was talking with him, he was quite pushy, wanting me to place an order with him there and then. I said I could not do that, because I had to consult first with my wife, and I gave some other reasons, too.
Meaning: A parody of the charismatic church with its many ministries offering ‘quick-fix’ answers to spiritual issues. Prime examples are Kenneth Hagin’s Word of Faith magazine, Kenneth Copeland’s Believers’ Voice of Victory, Joyce Meyer’s Life in the Word magazine. These glossy, full-colour magazines contain some spiritual food, but are more full of slick advertising, offering their over-priced videos, tapes and publications. This is deceitful merchandising, because the answers they provide are not as substantial as what they claim. What they lack is the disciplined Christian living that is fostered by teaching believers to observe God’s commandments in their entirety. (More of that later.)
More dreams and visions about the charismatic church are in chapter 5.
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