Wednesday, April 9, 2008

If You Can't Say Amen, Say Oh Me.

Since 1977, I have been listening to messages from the Word of Faith "camp." I have spent a short lifetime listening to cassette tape series, reading the books from the big name leaders, and traveling all over to be in the seminars. I gave 24 years of my life and my family's life to a church that preached the message of health and wealth. When I finally began asking questions about what was going on, I received the "left foot of fellowship" from among the Word of Faith camp.

What happened so that I could no longer say amen to what I was hearing?

The main reason is that I began to hear a message preached that was more about what I could get from God instead of what could I do for Him. The Gospel had changed from being about helping the world to helping me. I call it the "Gospel of Me".

2 Timothy 4:3-5(New International Version)

3. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

It is sad when people get more excited hearing about someone who got their house mortgage paid, or a preacher getting a Harley Davidson than they do about someone who has been born again and set free from the power of sin. I have seen people run around the church believing that it would cause the money to come in, but I do not remember seeing people run around believing for the lost to come in. When I heard preaching about "the harvest," it was referring to the financial blessing that was due us, not the great harvest of souls. It is HIS harvest not ours.

For so many years I sat quietly by and listened to a message that did little to help anyone except the "men of God" that preached it. It seems that the churches that have been involved in preaching this message always seem to have enough money to buy all of the perks for themselves and their leaders, but when someone comes to ask for financial help, there is very little if any available. In many churches the first thing that they cut when money is tight is their missions spending. I am sad that for 24 years I knew better, but somehow I stayed a part of a destructive "cultish" system. I have seen many people hurt and disappointed during this time. We bought a message that had a small amount of truth and so emphasized just one message that we never realized the complete truth and peace that God intended.

Matthew 28:19-20 (New International Version)

19. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

20.and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

The purpose of the Church is found in the command to go into all the world and make disciples. Somewhere that was forgotten, and we were told that we could show how spiritual we were by how much "stuff" we acquired. I heard of a so called faith preacher that said if preachers did not wear custom made suits, they were not pleasing to God. I wonder how God feels when He hears statements like that?

If the church keeps spending the majority of its resources on itself, and the lost never hear the true Gospel, then there will be some grave consequences for those that make those decisions. Sure, there are good things that have been done, and lives have been changed. But, how much more could we have done for so many more if we had done less for ourselves? The model of church that we have developed in America has become impotent in spreading the Gospel. The church that we see today has very little in common with the church that we see in the Book of Acts.

Several years ago when I was in China, a church leader told me that he hoped that America never exported our form of church to China because if we did, it would destroy the revival that they were experiencing. He said what they saw was that the American church seemed more concerned with building buildings than with saving souls. What would he have thought if he had heard some of the prosperity messages that we have heard?