September 4, 2010
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
The Bible says in 1 Peter 3:15, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. [1 Pet. 3:15 ESV] This passage addresses what is the responsibility of every believer. First, those of us who have made Jesus the Lord of our lives are to always be prepared to make a defense. This word translated, defense is the Greek, apologia. It could literally be translated as, apology. Not an apology as being sorry, but a reasoned, factual defense of one’s opinion, position, or stand. It is an argument in the legal sense.
We get the word, apologetics from it. Apologetics is the art of the defense of the Christian faith. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter calls each of as believers to be apologists, in that sense. Each believer is charged with knowing what we believe, and why we believe it to the extent that we can make a reasoned defense to anyone who inquires or challenges what we believe.
This passage tells us secondly how we are to make this defense, or rather what our attitude is to be when doing so. We are to do it with, as the ESV states, gentleness and respect. Other translations render this as, meekness and fear, fear and humility, etc. The implication here is to approach our defense of the Christian faith with an attitude of mildness and an awe of the eternal implications involved in doing so. Even though the Holy Spirit has given these instructions to the Church, many who would refer to themselves as apologists don’t approach their defense of the faith in this manner. Rather they come off as maniacal bullies or Nazis for truth. I have no desire to be in that camp. I am not a “heresy hunter”. However, we really don’t have to hunt heresy. It is very apparent in this hour. The Bible says,
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. [2 Pet. 2:1 – 3 NKJV]
The Holy Spirit is telling us through the Apostle Peter that just as surely as false prophets plagued the Old Testament saints, so they would the New Testament Church. For 2,000 years of Church history this has been the case, and the deception has grown in frequency and intensity, just as our Lord said it would. [See Matt. 24:3 – 8] This fact is what has moved me to share this present series of teachings. I am sounding an alarm. I am sounding a clarion call. If you want to walk free of error and deception doctrinally, you are going to have to make it your quest to know your Bible. You are going to have to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the great doctrines of the scriptures.
This is why we have taken the time to examine the four false doctrine systems that we have. As I have stated previously, these are four of the most prevalent and most dangerous out there in my opinion. We have looked at the New Age Movement. Their Luciferian “end game” is readily apparent, yet some of their philosophies and ideas have made inroads into the Church. We looked at the Emerging/emergent Church, who have responded to our ever changing culture with a “church” and a “gospel” that is so far removed from orthodox Christianity that it has ceased to be a church and their gospel is another gospel entirely from the faith once delivered to the saints. [See Jude 3] We looked at the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM). This movement, as I see it, is a return to the very error that moved Paul to pen the epistle to the Galatians. Namely, a return to observing days, weeks, months, festival, and rituals that all pointed to the Messiah, but were only a shadow of that which was fulfilled in Christ. While I don’t question the sincerity of many involved in these groups, they are sincerely wrong Biblically speaking.
We turn this week to the fourth in our list,
What do we mean by the term, “hyper-faith”? The prefix hyper describes that which has gone over or is blown out of proportion. That is exactly what we mean by, hyper-faith. It is faith that is overstated or is blown out of proportion. It is faith out of balance. That which I am referring to as “hyper-faith” for the sake of this series is also known as “Word faith”, “Word of faith”, or the “Faith movement”. It is generally believed that this movement is the fruit of the Charismatic movement or classic Pentecostalism. This is not the case however. The roots of this movement and the subsequent theology coming out of it can be traced directly back to the metaphysical and mind-science cults. I will not attempt a lengthy study demonstrating this fact. That has been done very well by others, and I would direct the reader to these resources. [See for example, A Different Gospel by D. R. McConnell where this connection is clearly and thoroughly documented.]
I come to this section with a bit of a heavy heart. First, because I was personally involved in this movement for many years. My wife and I Pastored a Word of Faith Church for over 13 years in Central Iowa. I have taught these doctrines extensively on both the congregational and Bible school levels. I have poured over books, study guides, CDs and DVDs of these teachings. I do not come to this topic as a novice or as someone depending on second-hand knowledge. I know that of which I speak. A few years ago I began to compare the doctrines of the faith movement with the New Testament, and found Word/Faith theology seriously wanting.
The second reason I have a heavy heart is because I have family and dear friends still involved in this movement. Some of which are there directly due to my influence and teaching. I have resigned myself to the fact that some will reject that which I will share here. Some may even become angry and offended, although I assure you that is not my motivation or intention in coming to this topic. Also, I am not sharing along these lines because I have a “dog in the hunt” or an “axe to grind”, to use a couple of popular colloquial expressions.
I come to this topic out of a love for the truth of the gospel, and a love for the people and leaders ensnared in this movement with the hope that some may examine that which we will share in greater detail for themselves and come to the understanding that Word/faith theology is indeed not the gospel of the New Testament, is not the faith once delivered to the saints, and is in fact another or a different gospel. [See Gal. 1:6]
As has been the case with all of the movements we have examined, this will not be an exhaustive treatment of this topic. We will seek to address ourselves to the main doctrines of the Word of Faith Movement that identify it as a product of seducing spirits and doctrines of demons. [See 1 Tim. 4:1]
The main doctrines of the Word-Faith movement are:
- KENOTIC THEOLOGY:
What exactly is, kenotic theology? It comes from the Greek kenosis, and speaks of a “self emptying”. In Philippians 2:5 – 8 we are told that Christ humbled Himself coming in the form of a servant, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. In this sense Christ emptied Himself of the outward manifestations of deity to identify with mankind. However, He never emptied Himself of His deity, as in ceasing to be divine and being merely a man. Kenotic theology, states that during Jesus’ earthly ministry He ceased to be divine. For example, Kenneth Copeland states, “Why didn’t Jesus openly proclaim Himself as God during His 33 years on earth? For one single reason. He hadn’t come to earth as God, He’d come as man.” In all fairness, Kenneth Copeland does not subscribe to the thought that Jesus was not God. He does believe that Jesus did not come to earth as God, and that Jesus never claimed to be God during His earthly ministry.
In fact, he claims to have received a direct revelation from God, in which Jesus allegedly told him, “…I didn’t claim I was God; I just claimed I walked with Him and that He was in Me…“. In addition, Copeland asserts that, “This man–Jesus, was a carbon copy of the one who walked through the Garden of Eden.” He gives his reason as to why it had to be this way, in the following statement, “He (God) has to have a man like that first one. It’s got to be a man. He’s got to be all man. He cannot be a God and come storming in here with attributes and dignities that are not common to man. He can’t do that. Its not legal.”
At the time of the alleged revelation from Jesus that Copeland ‘received’, it produced great concern among a number of Christians, one of whom was the late cult researcher, Walter Martin, who actually wrote Copeland expressing his concern at this ‘revelation’. Sadly, “Copeland refused correction or even correspondence on the subject and re-issued his position, standing by his alleged revelation.” In the August, 1988 issue of Copeland’s Believer’s Voice of Victory magazine, Kenneth Copeland made these disquieting remarks: “Jesus hadn’t come to earth as God; He’d come as man. He’d set aside His divine power and had taken on the form of a human being–with all its limitations.” And, that Jesus lived on earth, “…not as God but as a man.” He also teaches that Jesus prayed, “…not as the divine One who had authority as God but as a man…” And that Jesus never believed Himself to be “…the Most High God.”
The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology informs us of the orthodox Christian view on the kenotic theory: “…all forms of classical orthodoxy either explicitly reject or reject in principle kenotic theology. This is because God must be affirmed to be changeless (Heb. 13:8); any concept of the incarnation that would imply change would mean that God would cease to be God.” That is pretty serious, wouldn’t you agree?
In contrast with Copeland’s belief that Jesus did not claim to be God while on earth, the Bible clearly teaches that He did. In John 8:58 Jesus says of Himself, “…Verily, verily I say unto you, before Abraham was, I AM.” The term I AM, is of course one that God has assumed as His name, and was recognized by the Jews as a title of deity (see Ex. 3:14; cf. Isa. 44:6; 47:8). Also, the high priest’s reaction to Jesus’ use of the title, in the Gospel of Mark, suggests that he considered Jesus’ utterance of it as being a blasphemous claim to deity (Mark 14:61-63). Jesus makes it perfectly clear in John 8 that He is most certainly God (cf. John 3:13; 5:18; 10:33; 17:5). Noted American theologian A.A. Hodge, speaks truly on this matter of the Person of Christ: “Jesus of Nazareth was very God, possessing the divine nature and all its essential attributes. He is also true man, His human nature derived by generation from the stock of Adam. These natures continued united in His Person, yet ever remain true divinity and true humanity, unmixed and as to essence unchanged. So that Christ possesses at once in the unity of His Person two spirits with all their essential attributes, a human consciousness, mind, heart and will…. Yet it does not become us to attempt to explain the manner in which the two spirits mutually affect each other, or how far they meet in one consciousness, nor how the two wills cooperate in one activity, in the union of one person. Nevertheless, they constitute as thus united one single Person, and the attributes of both natures belong to the one Person.”
Perhaps the strongest verse which attests to Christ’s divinity is Colossians 2:9: “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” This verse plainly states that the fullness of the Godhead IE., divinity or divine essence, became incarnate and indwelt the body of Jesus Christ. It does not mean that only the will of God dwelt in Him, nor even of the divine knowledge alone, but that the whole deity had become incarnate and dwelt in human form. Jesus was not just a man who had God dwelling in Him, He was wholly God and wholly man. Hebrews 13:8, an oft used verse by both Faith movement teachers and followers alike, is proof that Jesus was wholly divine, and yet in human form during His ministry on earth, for He is forever unchangeable. According to Philippians 2:6-8, Jesus came to earth in the form of God, and in the form of a servant. “The eternal, infinite form of God took upon Himself flesh” (John 1:1, 14).
To Kenneth Copeland’s credit, he has taught correctly on occasion that Jesus, “…was and is God manifested in the flesh.” Yet, as we have seen, Copeland elsewhere denies Christ’s having come to earth as wholly man and wholly God. I hope that Brother Copeland would soon realize his own confusion and inconsistency and teach only the truth, that Jesus came to this earth as God manifested in the flesh (see Isa. 9:6; Rom. 8:3; 1Tim. 3:16; Heb. 2:14).
II. THE CROSS AND THE BLOOD ATONEMENT:
The cross of Christ is the most central doctrine of the Christian faith. It was there that Jesus’ work of atonement for mankind was completed, a fact evidenced by Jesus’ own words, found in John 19:30, “…it is finished...” and by Paul in Colossians 1:20: “…having made peace through the blood of His cross...” “It is this doctrine, perhaps more than any other, that has been repeatedly attacked by non-Christian cults and false religions. However, sadly, these attacks on the cross and what Jesus accomplished there are no longer confined to the enemies of the cross outside the Church. Rather, these attacks have now moved inside the walls of Christendom.
The Faith movement is one of these enemies which has surfaced and presented, to the Church at large, a different account of what occurred and what was achieved upon the rugged cross. Kenneth Copeland states quite emphatically in a taped sermon entitled, ‘What Happened From The Cross To The Throne?’, “…if it had been a physical death only, it wouldn’t have worked.” Consequently, Copeland teaches that our redemption was not completed on the cross, but in the pit of hell! I am not making this up!
We will have more to share on this next time
The Weekly Word is found in 1 Corinthians 1:17, 18. Here the Bible says,
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [1 Cor. 1:17, 18 NASB]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson