The glory of God revealed in all creation
The glory of God revealed in all creation
My new biography on Conrad Murrell, Grace and Truth, is scheduled to arrive from the printers in approximately 2-3 weeks. It can now be pre-ordered at a discount at the book website, www.conradmurrell.com
‘I am His’. Every believer in Jesus can say it, and with full assurance, ‘I am the Lord’s’. Humbly and astonishingly, we may also say that He is ours. To the Christian, God is not just the Lord, but my Lord. It is of this bond, by which we have become His, that I want to speak.
It has been around for awhile. I am not taking the time here to note the earliest traces of the “word of faith” and prosperity movement in America. But certainly in the beginning of the 20th century, the early seeds of the “word of faith”, prosperity doctrine movement were being planted in America. Perhaps the earliest modern figure was the pentecostal healing evangelist, John G. Lake (1870-1935). Lake, who first served as a missionary in Africa from 1908-1913, became a healing evangelist who set up “healing rooms” in his evangelistic crusades, especially along the west coast of the U.S. Lake had been influenced by the earlier ministries of such pentecostal preachers as John Alexander Dowe and Charles Parham.
It was Lake that began early in the 20th century to popularize the modern doctrine of health, wealth, and prosperity. In one sense, he was the grandfather of the entire movement, which then produced such teachers as Oral Roberts, Kenneth Hagin, Sr. and Kenneth Hagin, Jr., Frederick K. C. Price, Kenneth Copeland, Charles Capps, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Paul and Jan Crouch, T. D. Jakes, Paul White, and Joyce Myers, to mention just a few.
Right in line with such thinking is the massive influence of Joel Osteen, who in one way, is even less biblical that all the others. Less biblically, in the sense, that Osteen doesn’t even use the Bible or preach from the Bible like the others do. Osteen is only a motivational speaker and positive-thinking teacher, right in line with the famous Norman Vincent Peale (1898–1993), Reformed Church of America pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City for 52 years.
It struck me again within the past week of the serious damage that a twisted doctrine of “faith” does in so many situations. I have seen recent situations where families are convinced that they are going to see cancer healed and major injuries healed because they are “confessing it or believing it.” They won’t even entertain or talk at all about the possibility of any other alternative. God is not sovereign in the situation–their faith and confession is controlling it.
When people swallow this erroneous teaching, real spiritual damage is always done, no matter what happens with the sick person. If they improve or are healed, it affirms to people that their “confession and faith” worked, and the error is believed more than ever. But If the person doesn’t get better, the only conclusion is that God did not keep His promise, or they did not have enough faith. The health, wealth, and prosperity doctrine has caused many to reject Christianity altogether, or to believe that faith does not work at all. Either way, God is not honored, and faith is perverted.
As Conrad Murrell said–
“Faith, by which a man is justified, has become a word in the mouth of ignorant religionists and unethical charlatans that bears no resemblance to the Bible doctrine of faith. One’s ears have become accustomed to hearing such terms as “seed faith”, by which you give the preacher some money and God, in turn, makes you rich. You are to “turn your faith loose” by an act of faith. Faith, in this modern age, is a commodity which you use to ‘work miracles,’ get things for yourself, heal the sick, and raise money. It has become an accessory to Christianity that is greatly to be coveted because if one can find the secret to getting faith and turning it loose to work for them, there is no limit to how great he can become or what he can do
All of that is wicked enough, but it is not the chief mischief. The worst thing about this is that such false teaching has fouled the waters of the very fountain of life. It has clouded the most important subject of the Bible–faith. It may be well argued that love is greater than faith and that Christ is the most important person of the Bible, but the sinner has access to neither the love of God or to the person of Christ except through faith. Faith is not an accessory to Christianity, but is the very essence of true Christianity. The Christian life begins, continues, and consummates in faith. Nothing less pleases God.”
— Mack Tomlinson
Shocking statement? Unquestionably! But can it be proven? Only to those who believe the Bible to be the authoritative Word of God. To those who do not, nothing can be proven, for their own darkened mind is the only absolute they know. Nothing can be proven to them that they do not wish to believe.
Jesus Christ is the only acceptable sacrifice for sins. God has appointed His Son, the Christ, the Savior, the Redeemer, the substitute sin-bearer, to take away the sins of all who trust in Him. But there is a sin for which the blood of Christ will not avail, for which there is no sacrifice.
“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).
Now what is this “willful sin” for which there is no sacrifice? The man does not live who has not sinned since being enlightened with truth. Then are all men doomed? Will they all go to hell because they have sinned after they knew better? Assuredly not! Christ has redeemed and purchased with His blood a people for His glory. They will never perish. Sin, in the general sense, is not in view here. The preceding verse names the sin for which there is no remedy.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is . . .” (Hebrews 10:25).
Jesus Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). The word church is translated from a Greek word meaning “called out assembly.” It is the unvarying nature of those who are called by God to salvation to assemble together. Buy nature they are gregarious. They love to congregate. There is no exception to this rule. Governments may pass laws against it; they will break them. Burn their meeting houses; they will meet in barns. Torture them and put them to death; they will meet in holes in the ground under bridges, in the wilderness. You can sooner prevent the rivers from flowing to the seas than stop the redeemed people of God from meeting. If you fancy that you have a salvation, yet no longing to congregate with others who are only pilgrims and travelers through this world, then you have a Christianity that is alien to the Bible and to Christian history. Those who forsake, abandon and utterly leave the company of the just go to hell, because they have no grace of God in them. They do not have the nature of God’s called out assembly.
Please do not think you have satisfied this criteria with the “electronic church.” You cannot assemble, exhort and comfort one another around the image of a “boob on a tube” or a bellow from a box. I will tell you why you prefer the television or the radio to the local church. You have nothing in common with the people of God, so you feel uncomfortable among them. You can salve your conscience with some generous donations to your favorite “electronic pastor” and avoid the costly, soul-searching experience of direct encounter with genuine living saints of God.
I say again, people who do not go to church go to hell. But where is the church? Is it in the “established church”? Is it the building on the corner with the steeple on the roof? Not necessarily. These may not be the church at all. But please be warned. It is most certainly not a casual visit or an occasional meeting with another professor of Christianity when the subject of religion may pop up inadvertently. The church is the deliberate and purposeful meeting of the redeemed around Jesus Christ expressly for worship and instruction in the Word. It is a gathering of those who worship God in Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3). They have a fellowship that cannot be held solitary. It must be shared.
There are, of course, those who are infirm, who cannot go where believers assemble. But if believers are near, and know of such a Christian, then they will surely come to him. Then there are those who live where there are no other Christians. When a true believer finds himself in such a circumstance, he will witness and preach until there is a church with which to worship. Then, of course, there is that slim possibility of “death bed repentance.” But the likelihood that God would then grant you repentance who have all your life rejected the gospel is indeed most precarious.
Then will I go to hell because I do not go to church? Certainly not. You will go to hell because you despise the law of God, you trample under feet the Son of God, you consider His redeeming blood of no more value than slaughter-house sewage, and you despise God’s Holy Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:28-29).
Will going to church assure me of salvation? Not at all. Only God can save. You must be born from above. Salvation is of the Lord. You must first of all acknowledge that you are a wicked hell-deserving sinner and all you r pretenses of righteousness are useless; your excuses lie and your good works are worthless. Get your mind and heart under the preaching of a man of God who knows God and the gospel and is not afraid to preach it. Trust God to forgive and save you from your sins for Christ’s sake. And when the Lord does save you, I can tell you on the authority of heaven, you will continue to meet with the company of believers.
“But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39).