This morning we will consider the third teaching that comes from the ‘Word of Faith’ teachers (such as Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen, Sid Roth, Joyce Myer, Joseph Prince, Creflo Dollar, just to name a few). It is known as ‘name it & claim it’ or the “prosperity gospel”. The question we need to ask if we find ourselves in this movement or if we hear this teaching is, “Is it Biblical?”. 

 

In our recent survey, 76% of you believe that the Bible is 100% accurate in all that it teaches. And that is a good foundation to work with. Unfortunately, it also means that 24% of you do not believe that it is 100% accurate in all that it teaches. So, the rest of us will continue to pray for you.

 

Now three people identified themselves as Muslims = 8% of the total 38 surveys we received. So that means that six, self-identified Christians, indicated that they do not think the Bible is 100% accurate.

 

So, since all the answers that I give in these Q&A sessions are based on what the Bible says and teaches, then I am confident that today’s information will not fall on deaf ears and I pray that other ears will be opened as the Spirit enables them.

 

I think it will come as no surprise to many of you that, according to the Bible the ‘name it & claim it’, or prosperity gospel teaching, is not Biblical. In many ways, it is actually the opposite of what the Bible does teach, and it opposes the true Gospel message. While there are many different versions of the ‘name it and claim it’ philosophy preached today, they all have similar characteristics.

 

It is unfortunate that some well-meaning Christians have been misled by something that, in most cases, is taught as a result of nothing more than a misinterpretation and misunderstanding of specific Scriptures. It is downright evil, when that teaching is fully heretical and even has the characteristics of being a ‘cult’ (they deny one or more of the fundamental truths of the Christian faith. That Jesus is God or salvation is found in Him alone). Why do I call it ‘evil’? Well, when you ignore one of the fundamental truths of the Christian faith then you are in effect denying the faith altogether. And when you teach that to others then you are leading them away from salvation and not towards it.

 

The foundations of the ‘Word of Faith’ movement and its teachings has more in common with new age ‘metaphysics’  than with Biblical Christianity. The metaphysical movement puts its emphasis on the “power of the mind”. However, instead of creating our reality with our thoughts, as the new age followers teach, ‘name it and claim it teachers tell us that we can use the “power of faith” to create our own reality or to get what we want.

 

This is no different than the positive confession teaching we looked at back in September’s Q&A. The teaching is essentially the same, what you think or believe will happen is ultimately what controls what will happen. That means, if you think negative thoughts or are lacking in faith, you will suffer or not get what you want. But on the other hand if you think positive thoughts or just have “enough faith,” then you can have health, wealth, and happiness right now. This false teaching appeals to one of man’s most basic instincts. That is the idea of being in control of our own future, and I think this is the main reason why it is so popular.

 

What they are doing is actually redefining faith from “a trust in a holy and sovereign God, despite our circumstances” to “a way of controlling God to give us what we want.” They are teaching that ‘faith is a force’ and we can use it to get what we want. The Bible on the other hand teaches that faith is an unshakable trust in God, even when we are going through difficult times.

 

As we look more closely at the teachings of the ‘name it and claim it’ philosophy, we can find many areas where it is different from biblical Christianity. We will see that this teaching really puts people and their “faith” above God. Some of the more extreme Word of Faith teachers even teach that people were created as God’s equals. They say that people are in the same class of being that God Himself is. This is a very dangerous and heretical teaching that denies the basic teachings of true Biblical Christianity. That is why, when we encounter these extreme teachings, we must avoid them as being cultic and not truly Christian.

The ‘name it & claim it’ teachings are an insult to a sovereign God who has revealed Himself in the Bible as omnipotent (all-powerful). The ‘name it & claim it’ teachers believe that God wants to bless you with health, wealth, and happiness but cannot do so unless YOU have enough faith. This is completely false! Because it says that God is no longer in control, and that people are, and this is the complete opposite of what the Bible actually teaches. The God of the Bible is not dependent upon a person’s “faith” to do something that He wants to do. Throughout the Bible we see God blessing people who He chooses to bless and healing those He chooses to heal.

 

The ‘name it and claim it’ teaching prevents people from seeing that Jesus Himself is the ultimate treasure worth giving everything for, as He Himself tells us in Matthew 13:44, The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Those who practice name it & claim it only see Jesus as a way to get what they want now. In Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus also says that a Christian is called to, “deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? When we compare that Biblical message with the message of the prosperity gospel we see that the Bible is really teaching a life of self-denial and not self-satisfaction. The prosperity gospel teaches that we are Christlike by having what we want here and now. This clearly disagrees with the teaching of our saviour about sacrifice.

 

The Bible also teaches in 2 Timothy 3:12 that, Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Contrast that with the teaching of the prosperity gospel that teaches that any suffering we go through now is just simply a result of our lack of faith.

In 1 John 2:15, we are told, Do not love the world or the things in the world”. However, the focus of the prosperity gospel is on us getting all the things the world has to offer. If we follow the teachings of this false gospel then we will, as it tells in James 4:4, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

 

We can very quickly and easily see then that, when we compare the false gospel that the prosperity teachers are peddling with the true gospel, their message cannot be more opposite of what the Bible actually teaches. 

 

In his book “Your Best Life Now, prosperity teacher Joel Osteen says that the way to a more rewarding life, a better home, a stronger marriage, and a better job is found in a “simple yet profound process to change the way you think about your life and help you accomplish what is truly important.” That is very different to what the Bible teaches. The Biblical truth is that this life is nothing compared to the life that will come. The emphasis in the prosperity teaching is on the good things that we can get now. But Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21, Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

 

Jesus did not come to give us health, wealth and happiness now. Jesus came to save us from our sins so that we could live eternally with Him. Christians should not follow Jesus just to get all the material blessings we desire now but so that we can enjoy eternal life with Him. This attitude of being satisfied with what God has given us is best summed up in what the apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:11, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances”.