Many times when we talk about the unscriptural aspects of the Word of Faith movement and the Prosperity Gospel, people often feel we are saying that “faith isn’t necessary” and that “God doesn’t make people prosperous.” First of all, I want to make a disclaimer that I believe in miracles, I believe that prosperity is good for the believer, I believe that faith produces result when combined with works, I believe that positive confessions keeps us motivated and helps us take the right steps but when this is what we make out of the gospel or we make the essence of the gospel, there is a problem. And in making confessions, we must want to be sure if we are truly confessing God’s will for our lives or we are just being carnal.
Some preachers have been credited with championing the Word of Faith movement and this article isn’t a direct attack on any preacher! They are men who may also have flaws here and there and we must know that as long as God uses human vessels, humanity may still sprout out in some places and so we shouldn’t take everything hook, line, and sinker! I read some of these preachers who championed word of faith movement and I take what is helpful to me and put other ones aside. I myself have been very guilty of teachings some of these theologies in the time past too but God have started correcting me of those errors through the scriptures and you may even find traces or large chunks of them around my blog which I may take time to start readjusting to align with the truth of the gospel. The Bible records about certain Christians who after listening to Paul, would always to go back and search the scriptures to discern those words before digesting them (Act 17:11). They didn’t do it once, they kept searching as long as they hear, to confirm the truth for themselves. This should be the attitude of every believer.
Word of Faith movement doesn’t literally mean “word of faith”. Biblically, “word of faith” refers to the word of God as written in the Bible. The Bible says faith comes by hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17), this means God’s word keeps us growing in faith! What we know today as the word of faith theology has no connection with the “word of faith” being the gospel. The Bible says in Romans 10:8
“But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach.”
“Word of faith” here means the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible says in the next verse
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
So, if we are to define the word of faith in the Biblical context, it means the gospel of Jesus which says that if we confess and believe Jesus as our Lord and saviour, we are saved! However, this is very different from the movement or theology being referred to as “word of faith” today.
The word of faith theology or movement means the belief system that “we can skillfully manage how God responds to us” and “we can have anything we want as long as we can confess it.”
That idea in itself is flawed. Word of Faith movement believes that it is an error to feel sick and some even say “it is a sin!” They believe that once you aren’t able to confess your way into healing, then something is wrong with you. Many times, it is a mix of truth and lies, a mix of Biblical truth and mysticism. It is not great to be sick but then it may not be a faith problem that one didn’t get healed after praying. It is not a faith problem that one even got sick in the first place.
Truth is, there are times we can experience instant miracles, there are times we may have a delayed miracle and there are times we may not experience a miracle in the way we had wanted it. God in His absolute wisdom decides the timing. We shouldn’t subscribe to theology that makes it seem that “our faith” is superior to “God’s perfect will.” Word of Faith theology doesn’t lay emphasis on what God’s will is but on what we desire and how we can call it into existence even if it isn’t God’s perfect will for us.
We are meant to understand God and depend on God by faith and not to manipulate God and reprogram God’s will out of the way so that our own will would have way. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:13 “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” God is what faith should point us to! Word of Faith movement makes us put our hope on “our faith” and not on God! We now trust our ability to confess positive more than God’s ability to carry out what He wants.
The attitude of believers in Christ Jesus shouldn’t be to want something independent of God’s will. We must constantly want to align our desires according to what God’s will for us is. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:2
“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
So, our eyes should be on Jesus and not on “our faith”. Actually, true faith points us to Jesus and what He wants. The Bible actually says God will always grant our heart desires. The Bible puts it this way in 1 John 5:14
“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.”
Do you see that? God cares about us and He responds to us when we ask for anything that pleases Him. It should be in alignment with His will for us.
The Word of Faith movement and Prosperity theology is highly interwoven. It is difficult to be an adherent of the Word of Faith Movement and not be a subscriber of the Prosperity theology. In fact, many people don’t see any difference between the Word of Faith Movement and the Prosperity Theology. There isn’t technically any difference anyway as the Prosperity theology seems to be a theology of that movement.
Prosperity theology teaches that Christ came to make us materially rich! The idea is that we use God to get what we want but is that really the gospel? Is that even the essence of the gospel? Throughout the New Testament, there is never a place where any Apostle propagated what people preach today as the prosperity gospel. In fact, Paul warned against such preachers by saying in 1 Timothy 6:5 (NLT)
“These people always cause trouble. Their minds are corrupt, and they have turned their backs on the truth. To them, a show of godliness is just a way to become wealthy.”
Instead of the “call it forth and have it!” teachings, Paul rather encouraged great contentment. Contentment is not a virtue in the prosperity theology, you don’t have to be content with the little you have because in their words “Jesus was poor that you might be rich.” They quote these places out of context and they don’t see the difference between spiritual prosperity and material prosperity. Paul continued in verse 6 and 8 saying
“Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth… But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”
They believe it is a sin to experience lack and if you can confess it, you can have it! But the Bible teaches that God blesses the works of our hands, the Bible teaches that we may experience lack at times and when we do we can be content and grateful to God. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t make people rich if He wants but material prosperity isn’t the essence of the gospel. And the essence of believers becoming rich isn’t to flaunt their wealth and live in abundance while other believers are living in lack! The essence of earning as a believer is to also help others. Concerning this, the Bible says in Ephesians 4:28 “…Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.”
Prosperity preachers place too much emphasis on giving to receive double rather than giving as part of our responsibility in the Church. This theology makes people trust in their giving ability, they don’t actually give to the poor or help their neighbours, they rather give to prosperity preaching Pastors in a bid to have God release a hundred folds! They make the Church look like a Ponzi scheme. Throughout the teachings of the Apostles, contentment has always been key! When we have abundance, we can rejoice and reach out to those who don’t have but when it seems we don’t have so much, we can still trust God and stay contented!
The prosperity theology lays emphasis on materialism and the word of faith movement in itself lays too much emphasis on our ability to skillfully program God into something by consistently calling it forth. They make it look like believers who experienced sickness, accident, lack and so on had issues with God. Word of faith movement in most cases doesn’t even promote true faith with work! “Just say it and you get it!”
In the earthly ministry of Jesus, the only disciple who focused on material things was Judas! And we saw how Judas ended! It is not as if God wants us to be poor but God doesn’t want the quest for material things to take up our space! Jesus said we shouldn’t even concern ourselves with it (Matthew 6:25), that God cares for us! Our concern should be the kingdom, our concern should be the essence of the Church.
The true gospel isn’t about money, it isn’t even about healing. It is about Jesus! Our concern as ministers of the gospel is to preach the gospel and teach the word so that believers can grow and mature therein. As we major on the gospel, God can work miracles in our midst, He can do great and mighty things through us including raising the dead! But these miracles are not the essence of our gathering as a Church and so even when they don’t happen, we shouldn’t be perturbed. The essence of Church gathering isn’t for people to gather and make the demand for “things”, it is a place people come and grow in the knowledge of God’s word.
In the preaching of the word of God, our faith is built! In the preaching of the word, our eyes are open to know and understand our riches in Christ. The Church isn’t about “claim it and receive it!” It is about teaching and guiding us to grow in the knowledge of God. Jesus made it clear that ” I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) and the life Jesus is talking about here isn’t physical life but the life of God.
Before Jesus came, people were making money, believers and unbelievers were making money alike! Before Jesus came, people were getting married and building houses. Therefore, these things aren’t why Jesus came. He didn’t come to make us materially rich, every human already have that blessing of working and earning! Jesus came to deliver us from darkness into God’s marvellous light.
These days, people come to Church to get a visa, get married, succeed in business and so on. People come to Church because they had a bad dream and they want Pastor to touch them and declare words over them but this isn’t what Jesus came for! We should come to Church with a burning desire to know more and more of Jesus and to grow in the knowledge of the truth. Paul prayed thus saying
“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.” – Ephesians 1:18
As great as positive confession is, we cannot truly determine so many things with confessions, we cannot alter God’s program with positive confessions. Peter confessed positive when he said Jesus wouldn’t die in Jerusalem but Jesus knew what God’s will was and Jesus knew that confession was from Satan and Jesus said in Matthew 16:23
“Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
You see that? It was a positive confession but it was from a human point of view, inspired by Satan. This tells you that certain confessions may sound great but doesn’t indicate what God’s will or timing is. Concerning this, James wrote in James 4:13-15
“Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.””
Our confessions should simply be based on total obedience to God’s will! Prosperity theology and Word of Faith Movement teaches that we can change circumstances with our confessions and “our faith”, while it is true to some extent it is also true that sometimes, we may desire something but God wants something else for us. In everything, we should make our requests known to God in prayers. There are times God would give us instant miracles, there are times God would give us the strength to endure and persevere! There are times God would give us boldness to face that challenge and walk through it.
Daniel got saved from Lion’s den, that is wonderful! But, Stephen died in the hands of his persecutors! God remained God. Don’t fall for teaching or theology that makes it seems as though you can or should live above and beyond God’s will and timing for you.
God bless you.