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Visitors Since March 30, 2006
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Truth & Discernment Ministry
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Victor T. Stephens
Searching the scriptures daily ....
(Acts 17:11)
By: Victor T. Stephens
Copyright All Rights Reserved
"Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced...more true than the truth itself." - Irenaeus of Lyons
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INTRODUCTION


An invasion force consisting of great multitudes of wolves in "decked out" sheep's clothing has cleverly infiltrated today's modern Christian church for the sole purpose of preying on their unsuspecting victims. How did this happen? In consequence of indifference, emotionalism, and ministerial idolization, most Christians today are not paying attention to Jesus' warning that there will be many false teachers in the church during these last days (Matt. 24:4-5). Learning how to detect heretical doctrines (1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 4:3) has not been an uppermost priority for many believers. In fact, doctrinal discernment is almost completely void. To a certain extent, this predicament has been kindled from the false teachers' inappropriate and antagonistic use of "Judge not" and "Touch not the Lord's anointed" --- a terror strategy that is designed to keep congregants in their place. As a result, we have many well-meaning believers who are unequipped to discern the true from the false ... the light from the darkness ... the wolves from the sheep.

When speaking of false teachers, it has become the norm for many believers to conceive that the implication is in reference to those outside the Christian church. On the contrary, believers are repeatedly warned to be on guard against falsehood within the church. It is those who allege to come in Christ's name, seemingly confessing the Lord as their Savior and claiming divine revelations from God, who may not be so obvious to doctrinal transgressions. It has been this type of pretense coupled with seductive entertainment and self-empowerment sermons that has further contributed to the acceptance of false leaders within mainstream churches.

With that said, I encourage and challenge you, the reader, to study and draw a comparison between the scriptures that we will be examining to those of the pastor of your church. The Berean Christians, who were of noble character, "searched the scriptures daily to find out whether these things (which Paul taught) were so" (Acts 17:11). In like manner, it is your responsibility to diligently search and test the teachings of the leadership in your church without partiality. Any pastor who cannot stand the test of investigation and challenge should be approached with circumspection.

Just as there have been false and erroneous teachings since ancient biblical days, there is a great degree of duplicity and wide range false doctrines in today's church age. While there are false teachers within most ... if not all denominations and non-denominations, the goal of this article is to address a particular tight network of false church leaders who have established a movement that is rapidly spawning cultic doctrines within the body of Christ in epic proportions. It is this movement, more commonly known as the Word-Faith Movement that this article will confront, expose and refute without restraints of political correctness.

The Word-Faith teachers addressed in this study are very high profile "celebrity ministers" who are televised on The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) in addition to a vast network of other stations. These religious profiteers employ motivational techniques, smooth talk, and captivating charm; mixing lies with the truth as they mislead and financially rape the most vulnerable segments of our society. Sadly, they have numerous devoted, loyal, yet incognizant followers who are unskilled in recognizing the errors being perpetrated against them (2 Cor. 11:3-4, 13-15; Heb. 5:13-14). For those who love the Lord, the unveiling and refutation of these impostors should take precedence over emotionalism, elitism and ministerial admiration. John said, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth (3 John 1:4).

What follows in this article will be a history of the Word-Faith Movement succeeded by a contrast of Word-Faith theology, as espoused by these notable teachers, with a contextual analysis of the scriptures. In addition, this article will address the threats announced by Word-Faith teachers upon those who dare to criticize them. This examination should effectively validate that Word-Faith theology is false and heretical. As we study, we might also detect that Word-Faith theology shares a division of their false doctrines with those of Mormon and Evangelical Churches.

Regrettably, many professed Christians have allowed their blind zeal and idolatrous demeanor to adopt a policy of appeasement -- exalting false teachers above the authority of Scripture. In spite of the clear evidence that will expose the heterodoxy of Word-Faith teachers, such carnal believers will conveniently discard the facts and deliberately tolerate, defend, and embrace these individuals without questions ... deceiving themselves and becoming prey to exploitation (2 Peter 2:1-3).


SOME WORDS BEFORE WE BEGIN


Fortunately, during these last days of mass deception, there are emerging greater numbers of forthright watchmen and discernment ministries to expose and refute the mendacious doctrines of the Word-Faith sect as well as other factions who are disseminating erroneous teachings. Fully conscious of this fact, the Word-Faith camp has taken counter-measures to protect their interest ... which is usually money.

As it is a biblical mandate to expose false teachers, the wolves in sheep's clothing are attempting to maintain their cloak by charging such a mandate as an "over-reaction" or "nit-picking". They view public refutation as a personal attack. Supposedly, since Word-Faith proponents preach salvation and that Jesus is the Son of God, then open rebuke (an "attack") is an unsuitable measure to take against "God's anointed" regardless of the degree of all other errors being expounded. The common saying is that "we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water." They reference Philippians 1:15-18 to support such reasoning.

** "It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice." (Philippians 1:15-18 NIV) **

Firstly, their claims may have some validity if we were addressing non-essential doctrines such as which day to worship, what is proper to eat and drink, etc. We can respectfully disagree on such matters and remain united in the faith. However, as we are about to see, the issues surrounding Word-Faith theology encircle and distort essential doctrines of the Christian faith. These are vital issues where biblical accuracy must be maintained and protected. It is not God's will that His church be subject to misrepresentations of essential matters of biblical doctrine. In such instances, division is not optional, but required. Jesus said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34)

Secondly, open rebuke should not be interpreted as an "attack". The second book of Timothy 3:16 says, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." The first book of Timothy 5:20 states, "Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning." Since sin includes the willful intent of publicly teaching false doctrine, then a public refutation is appropriate "so that the others may take warning." No Christian should stand by in a state of indolence and allow fellow believers to be deceived by false teachers. Such irresponsible and politically correct conduct is a betrayal to Christ and the Church.

Thirdly, in Philippians 1:15-18, Paul is not saying that some are preaching false doctrines. Rather, he is saying that some are preaching "out of envy, rivalry, and selfish ambition." In other words, on account that some teachers of the gospel were jealous of Paul, they preached the truth, but did so with the wrong motives. In Acts 17:11, Paul commended the Bereans for searching the scriptures daily to judge the accuracy of his teachings. Therefore, to employ Philippians 1:15-18 as a prohibition of exposing error diametrically opposes the biblical mandate to expose and refute error.

Next ... the "wolves" complain that "heresy hunters" are twisting their teachings and taking their writings out of context. Word-Faith advocates often make the blanket charge that resources which expose their false doctrines are reflecting an out of context view of their messages. However, they fail to provide evidence to substantiate their accusations.

For example, a defender of Benny Hinn made such a claim regarding Hinn's following unbiblical comment:

"Never, ever, ever go to the Lord and say, 'If it be thy will' don't allow such faith-destroying words to be spoken from your mouth." (Benny Hinn, "Rise And Be Healed", Page 47).

When Hinn's supporter was asked to explain the true context of this statement, he suddenly became silent.

Speaking of Benny Hinn ... demonstrating his dismay of those who exercise discernment and confront false doctrines, Hinn had this to say:

"The Bible warns us clearly that we must not attack men of God no matter how sinful they may have become or wicked in our eyes." ("The Many Faces of Benny Hinn" [DVD])

Equally astounding, Hinn states,

"You wonderful people of God quit attacking men of God by name! Somebody's attacking me because of something I'm teaching! Let me tell you something brother, you watch it! You walk around with your stiff lip and collar on your neck -- dear God in heaven I wish I could just -- ooh! You know I've looked for one verse in the Bible; I just can't seem to find it; one verse that said, 'If you don't like 'em, kill 'em.' I really wish I could find it!" (Benny Hinn, "Praise the Lord", TBN)

Such statements by Hinn represent fear, foolishness, and immaturity at its finest.

In their effort to silence the increasing number of believers who are speaking out against false teachers, Word-Faith advocates also claim that warnings of false teachers were not a significant part of Paul's ministry. Such a charge has no biblical basis. In addition to spreading the gospel, there are many scriptures in the Bible that speak about false teachers and the believer's authority to expose such ungodly individuals. Paul says in Acts 20:29-31:

** "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears." (Acts 20:29-31 NIV) **

There are many "savage wolves" within the church today. In this passage, Paul commands us to be on guard! Should the watchman remain silent when he detects a wolf; or should he sound the horn to protect the sheep? Notice that Paul says "for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears". Clearly, his statement is not indicative of someone who spent little time warning the church against false teachers. On the contrary, Paul consumed much time exposing and cautioning the church against "wolves in sheep's clothing", "false apostles", "false prophets", and "ministers of Satan".

Word-Faith proponents also claim that the writings of the early church fathers ... who were taught by Paul and the original apostles ... contained false and heretical doctrines. The Word-Faith camp challenges that there was never a public "outcry" of false teachers and heretics as so many of their patrons are labeled today.

Generally, when we speak about the early church fathers, we usually respond with a great degree of reverence. As a result, many people assume that they were infallible. It may seem surprising to some, but if we closely study the doctrines of the early church fathers, we will find out that some of them did indeed teach erroneous doctrines. It has been on account of personal reverence and assumed infallibility that we hear minimum reports concerning false teachings of some of the early church fathers. If people exercised discernment and forfeited their assumptions of the early church fathers, the fact that some of them taught falsely should come as no surprise. Let's remember Paul's words, "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them."

There is no doubt that the early church fathers contributed greatly to the church. Some or perhaps most of them were teaching correctly on essential doctrines of the Christian Faith. However, if we take heed to Paul's warnings to the Church, we should recognize that "savage wolves" will infiltrate every segment of the body of Christ ... including the early church. Paul also stated in Galatians 1:8, "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" Paul's warnings of false teachers permeating the Church corresponded with the warnings of Peter's: "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them ... bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping." (2 Peter 2:1-3)

While every true teacher of the gospel is deserving of much respect and honor, it is imperative that we refrain from allowing misguided loyalty to cause us to support a hierarchy of men who are purposely teaching false doctrines. The Word of God is very clear. False teachers are to be exposed, confronted, and refuted.

Let's now take a closer look at the Word-Faith Movement beginning with its historical and theological roots.
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