by Jimmy Swaggart
“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.” 1 Tim 6:20-21
If this is not the most difficult article I have ever written, it is certainly one of the most difficult.
I have fought a great battle in my spirit. While my natural tendencies have all cried out to shelve this discussion, the Spirit of God has prevailed to where I feel I have no choice.
What will be said is not meant to be an attack on any individual. It is, however, an attack upon a philosophy — a philosophy I believe to be extremely detrimental to the kingdom of God today. I speak of the faith ministry.
Of course, when we use the term “faith ministry,” I assume that knowledgeable Christians know what I mean. I am a faith preacher myself. Every preacher should be. Faith is the great rock-like foundation of God’s plan for the ages. The term “faith ministry,” however, has taken on a more restricted meaning lately — that of a ministry which over-emphasizes one isolated aspect in the man/God relationship. I feel this might better be referred to as hyper-faith, with the prefix hyper meaning “something blown out of proportion; emphasizing one element beyond its true perspective.”
Some of the prominent teachers in the hyper-faith movement are long-term acquaintances of mine. I still consider them friends, even though we have little or no current contact.
I love them dearly. Sensing this unfortunate direction in the hyper-faith movement today, I pray for these leaders continuously. I believe the majority of them love the Lord with all their hearts; that they are sincere and dedicated people. This is not, however, reason enough to meekly accept everything they say when they build their philosophy on wrong premises.
MUCH ERROR RIDES INTO THE CHURCH ON THE BACK OF TRUTH
Many elements in this teaching are positive. Much of it is wholesome and edifying. Emphasizing faith does tend to elevate victorious Christian living, and this is essential within the body of Christ. If the hyper-faith teaching stopped here it would be of untold value to the work of God — but it doesn’t stop here. Sad to say, the ultimate condition of many individuals participating in this movement will not be victory — but complete defeat!
To the unlearned — to those new to, or unfamiliar with, the Word of God — it sounds logical, scriptural, and inviting. This, of course, is why it ensnares so many people.
Some might very well ask, “Why should you, as a preacher of the Gospel, speak out on this subject?” They might even suggest that such a discussion could cause division. My answer would have to be this: Someone must take a stand in regard to doctrinal error. I realize full well that what I say here will win me no friends. It will far more likely cause heartache. However, a stand must be taken in defense of scriptural truth.
No matter what the price, no matter what the cost, if (sometimes) unpopular stands had not been taken over the years, we would not have had the pure Gospel we have today. Someone always has to speak out.
It is only human to choose the road of least resistance. None of us enjoys doing something that will bring the anger of people down upon us. But — any preacher of the Gospel who desires to be led of the Spirit — must follow what he perceives to be the leading of the Spirit. And this must be done without our considering the cost or the consequences.
Even through I dearly love many of the people involved in the hyper-faith movement, I still feel that the foundation of their movement is in error and thus detrimental to the cause of Christ. I believe that many Christians will suffer because of it — many perhaps even losing their souls. When viewed in this perspective, the subject of course assumes tremendous importance.
I have asked myself, “Why say anything? Why get involved? You will only be misunderstood and falsely accused.”
But then, down in my heart of hearts, I know that all error must be refuted. If it isn’t, the consequences are inevitably bitter. I firmly believe that some of the teachings of the hyper-faith movement are the work of Satan. And let me hasten to emphasize that I am not saying that the individuals involved are of Satan. I am confident that all, or most, of them are not.
As mentioned, I believe that the overwhelming majority of them love God very much; and I would not question either their sincerity or their integrity. But I do question what they are teaching!
I will do my best to outline the adverse factors in the hyper-faith movement that I see as causing great difficulty for the body of Christ.
THE PRESENT-DAY HYPER-FAITH MOVEMENT DERIVES SOME OF ITS TEACHINGS (I BELIEVE) FROM ANCIENT GNOSTICISM.
Gnosticism comes from a Greek word-root which means “knowledge.”
It describes a cult (or error) that sprang up within the church, and probably reached its zenith in about the second century. The book of First John (as written by John the Beloved) was basically written to refute the errors of Gnosticism. Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth (I Corinthians), and also Colossians, contain numerous statements warning against the errors of Gnosticism.
The basic teachings of Gnosticism are so broad in scope that it would be difficult to go into a total dissection of the subject. I will, therefore, touch only a few of the high points. Although most of the present-day faith teachers probably know little or nothing about Gnosticism, as such, this is where some of their teaching originates. I will endeavor to expose some of the parallels, and I pray that the Holy Spirit will quicken this truth to your heart.
What I will say has been influenced by my beliefs and my observations over the years. I have sought God earnestly — that He will not only help me to say these things, but that He might help me say them in a way that will convey the love with which I feel they must be said. In view of the gravity of the subject matter, this will be difficult. Some of my statements might, therefore, anger people. I sincerely hope this will not be the case, however, as all will be said in love. With all this in mind, I will now do my best to expose what I see as error.
Some scholars feel that ancient Gnosticism influenced Simon the Sorcerer. An account of his first exposure to the Gospel and the early church is found in the eighth chapter of the book of Acts.
God dealt with this man, but he refused to pay the price for a complete walk with God. It is not known how deeply he was influenced by Gnosticism, but many knowledgeable Bible scholars feel he could have been involved. In any case, Gnosticism became an insidious factor in the early church. It drew scores of Christians into its web of deceit and erroneous teaching.
Gnosticism is basically derived from Greek philosophy and mythology, and other ancient religions. Its originators took what they considered to be the most attractive teachings of ancient Greece, Judaism, and the Eastern cultures and incorporated them into Christianity. They promoted this conglomerate “religion” as a deeper and greater revelation. It covers such a broad scope that it is difficult to discuss all the details. But it did create tremendous confusion in the early church.
The clearest analysis of the many doctrines collected within ancient Gnosticism can be found in the book, Against Heresy, by a bishop of the early church, Irenaeus. Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, who was in turn a disciple of John the Beloved. Polycarp was nearly one hundred years of age when he was burned at the stake.
Irenaeus told of the Apostle John’s encountering a Gnostic at a public bath. (Public baths were common in those days.) It is said that John drew back, saying to his companion, “Let us flee this place, lest any water washing off him fall upon us.” Another confrontation is described — this one between Polycarp and one of the chief teachers of Gnosticism as they met on a street in Rome.
In the course of their conversation, the man (who had formed his own school of Gnostic theology), said (with an air of importance about him) to Polycarp, “Do you know who I am?”
Polycarp replied, “Yes, I know you are a son of Satan.” It seems that the apostles and their followers made no accommodations to either the Gnostic teachers — or to their philosophy. They labeled it exactly what it was — satanic!
With this background of information, I will give to you some of the basic teachings of Gnosticism:
A. The flesh and the Spirit are diametrically opposed — they are like the opposite poles of a magnet or a battery.
B. All flesh is evil. All Spirit is good (God’s Spirit, that is).
C. The two natures cannot be present in the same person at the same time because of this duality of flesh and Spirit.
D. Knowledge is the source of salvation.
E. The material world is all that is left to be conquered. Knowledge has brought about all other spiritual goals.
F. There is a “redeemed redeemer” (Jesus) who Himself had to obtain salvation — through knowledge.
One particular scholar stated that their “formulas, or laws” were based upon principles which “brought the forces of good and evil into play.” A little thought reveals this same “scientism” (closely akin to Christian Science) evident among the new Gnosticism (hyper-faith) popular today.
Gnosticism is partly a mythological and mystical effort to understand the universe and man’s role in it. This scholar went on to say that the only control this philosophy has on man is through his knowledge — thus preventing him from being mere mortal and raising him to a level almost equal to co-divinity with his creator — God.
This theory satisfies two perverted needs in fallen mankind: One, the need to be his own god, in control of his own life; and, two, the need to glorify himself beyond his proper place in creation.
It is obvious that the same serpent who beguiled Adam and Eve is still in our earthly garden offering his same old temptation: to partake of the knowledge of good and evil.
THE BASIC TEACHING OF MODERN-DAY GNOSTICISM FROM WHICH THE HYPER-FAITH MINISTRY HAS EVOLVED
The new Gnosticism, as taught by most of the faith teachers in the United States and Canada today, seems to be derived largely from the teachings of E.W. Kenyon, who seemed to lean somewhat upon ancient Gnosticism for his understanding of scriptural doctrines (or perhaps developed some similar doctrines). He went to Seattle, Washington, around 1937 and there pastored a church and aired a radio program throughout the city.
I do not doubt Kenyon’s love for God or his sincerity (just as I do not doubt the sincerity and love for God of the modern hyper-faith teachers).
But his teaching, as one understands it, seems to wander about on the perimeters of the orthodox view of the Scripture. As one begins to study his teachings, they seem tremendously helpful. But interwoven throughout is a feeling of oppression that “something isn’t right.” Until one understands the background of Gnosticism, it is very difficult to develop a real grasp of his philosophy.
Kenyon’s teachings seem to fall into certain patterns, and we will investigate some of these:
A. Words of Scriptures seem to be deified — apart from the living God — and collected into various “laws” which activate the forces of good and evil. Anyone who would question these specific interpretations is immediately branded as “denying the Word of God and its power.”
B. Knowledge (Gnosticism) is said to be the way to achieve a divine place in creation. Attainment of “a new creation status for the believer” makes him a part of a superior, elite, or master race.
C. Confession — the use of scriptural formulas to “confess” results, releases the forces of good on one’s behalf.
D. The teaching that sin is a consequence of the Law (which disappeared with the New Covenant) becomes a false perception, representing behavior made right by confessing “who one is in Christ Jesus.” Forgiveness then plays but little part in our present-day experience because it relates to sin — which ended with the Law.
E. The denial of human nature: the teaching that we are either divine or satanic (dualism).
F. Scientism: the teaching of “laws” and “formulas” that can control circumstances around us.
G. The denial of Christian suffering and the bearing of the Cross of Christ, which apparently puts the Cross in the position of “past miseries.”
Whether the present-day hyper-faith teachers realize it or not, it would seem their interpretation of the atonement is not consistent with the tenor of teaching throughout the Word of God. This lies at the heart of this teaching and it strikes at the very core of Christian belief.
Some of the “doctrines” of the hyper-faith philosophy are similar to ancient Gnosticism. As such we want to delve deeper, prayerfully hoping that we can reveal the similarities and, through comparison, demonstrate the errors of the present-day hyper-faith movement.[This article will be continued}
Part II September 2014
I Tim. 6:20-21 – “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.”
THE WORD OF GOD
One of the basic teachings of the hyper-faith movement is that all Scripture is not the same. In other words, some Scriptures pertain particularly to those who are still in the realm of the “senses” (flesh) — those who are sadly unenlightened. They would even go so far as to say that the Apostle Paul demonstrated great lack of enlightenment in many of his experiences. I Corinthians, Chapter 4, is considered an example of this.
The same can be said of all of the apostles in the days of the early church. Some go even further by including the Lord Jesus Christ in this category.
In other words, these teachers say that if the apostles of old (and even the Lord Jesus Christ) had the knowledge we possess today, they would not have been required to suffer many of the difficulties which they experienced.
In practice, only certain Scriptures are used by the hyper-faith teachers to support their contentions. Their basic difficulty with the Word of God is that they separate the Word from the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In short, they have replaced God with their chosen Scriptures, rationalizing that this will justify their actions. The words of Scripture are deified — apart from the living God — and exalted into various “laws,” which bring the forces of good and evil into action.
They call themselves “Word” people — constantly quoting particular Scriptures, thereby convincing the public that they are very scriptural and very spiritual — thus making their contentions completely trustworthy. In truth, they actually deny parts of the Bible as revelation that is not illuminated with a higher knowledge.
In practice, although they call themselves “Word” people, they rely on only a few selected scriptural texts. They have very little respect for the Old Testament, seemingly suggesting that Old Testament personalities did not have the written Word (or at least very little of it), so consequently they did not “know” very much. As a result, you will only hear them use isolated texts from the Old Testament in their teaching. They seem to completely ignore the fact that the entire framework of New Testament context (thought) is derived from Old Testament revelation.
Sometime ago a preacher made the statement that individuals today worship the Bible apart from God, who inspired it. At first his statement puzzled me, but after some thought I understood what he was saying.
Basically, he was suggesting that individuals (such as the hyper-faith people) were taking Scriptures (such as Mark 11:24 or St. John 15:7) and pulling them out of context to make them a type of magic talisman (good luck piece).
In other words, he was saying that particular Scriptures are taken out of context completely and are used to deal with situations, even though they have almost nothing to do with the present difficulty of the individual. These Scriptures are quoted over and over again — with the individual using them as a sort of club to force God to line up with their reasoning.
Also, they insist that Scripture that does not line up with their way of teaching is (simply) just not relevant to today. Again, we emphasize that they contend that if individuals (such as the Apostle Paul) had had our scriptural knowledge, they would not have had to suffer persecution and trials.
Then they go on to say that we are more experienced in the Word today — and more “developed.” Consequently, we know more than the apostles of old. Some would even go so far as to include the Lord Jesus Christ among those who were “unenlightened.”
What does this amount to? In essence, the hyper-faith teachers basically deify the Bible — setting it apart from the giver (the Lord Jesus Christ) of the Word of God. They use it in a way God never intended. Most are honest in their efforts and anxious to help people. In truth, though, most of them know very little about correct exegesis (interpretation) of Scripture — all the while proclaiming themselves to be “Word” people.
A great many of their teachers are teachers in name only. They have absorbed a little teaching on the subject of faith — and automatically consider themselves to be faith teachers. They endeavor to draw aside followers after themselves with their misguided efforts. Consequently, this causes much difficulty in the body of Christ.
THE MASTER RACE (SUPERIORITY)
There is an air of superiority about these teachers, their teaching, and their followers. They seem to place themselves in a position above everyone else. They are the “new creation people.” They have “the knowledge.” Of course, this is absolutely opposed to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Humility was the Master’s great hallmark. One of His last acts on earth was the washing of the disciples’ feet. Superiority and lack of humility are always of Satan. These never come from God. They reveal the world-ling, the ego of man, believers in the so-called “master race.”
E.W. Kenyon may have derived some of his teachings from the German philosphers. German theologians exerted great influence on a large part of the Christian world just prior to World War II. Some of these were also Gnostics.
This was the time when Adolf Hitler was propagating his doctrine of the master race — even insisting that his efforts were of God, saying he was a servant of Jesus Christ. Of course, his demented philosophy resulted in World War II and the terrible “holocaust” — the slaughtering of some 6 million Jews.
Some of these theologians found themselves comfortable with Adolf Hitler, considering themselves (through knowledge) to be superior, or “the master race.” Their teaching, sad to say, influenced quite a few of their contemporaries.
The basic teachings of the hyper-faith movement incline followers to the view that they are members of a superior breed, or master race. They are told that they will continue to be members of this superior group — that is, unless they “slip” into using information from the “sense” world around them.
As a member of this superior mold (or master race) one is made to feel that he is entitled to all types of riches and rewards; hence, the “hundredfold” return gospel. These teachers do not seem to realize that to demand a hundredfold return from God on our investment is to again turn the temple of God into a den of thieves.
Basically, the so-called hundredfold return gospel — intertwined with a master race theory — has little or nothing to do with the love of God. It has little or nothing to do with a desire to promote
God’s cause, or to give to Him simply because we love Him. At best it is an investment and a gamble.
At worst, it is a deception perpetrated by Satan. At its core, it is little better than the Las Vegas practice of enticing people into gambling casinos with the selfish lure of “something for nothing.”
These teachers constantly hold the thought before their followers that their faith (or knowledge) will deliver anything they desire. Consequently, they must drive the largest cars, live in the finest houses, wear the best clothing, the best jewellery, and so forth. This is an image they have to maintain. It is somehow supposed to demonstrate their faith.
They are, in effect, role models for their followers. As a result of this practice, the followers tend to look to the Cadillac or the Lincoln (and other worldly trappings) as the mark of the individual’s (or teacher’s) faith. One of the principal teachers in the hyper-faith movement recently said that he was confessing a Mercedes Benz for himself and a mink coat for his wife. To hear this — considering the difficulties of the world and the millions who are lost — one has to wonder what it has to do with spreading the Gospel and the love of the Lord Jesus Christ abroad.
As we have mentioned, the basic word “Gnosticism” actually means “knowledge.” Not surprisingly, knowledge is the alleged foundation of the hyper-faith movement. In some cases the word “knowledge” replaces “salvation.” They seem to infer that man is basically victorious through his knowledge rather than through Christ. It elevates him beyond his basic position as merely mortal. He, in essence, becomes co-divinity with his Creator.
As mentioned previously, this satisfies two perverted needs in fallen mankind:
1. The need to be his own god, in control of all life.
2. The need to glorify himself beyond his proper place in creation.
So the key to the hyper-faith movement is knowledge. You will hear this emphasized in much of their teaching. Also as mentioned earlier, this is derived largely from the teachings of E.W. Kenyon.
These teachers (not infrequently) use words like “dummies” or “idiots” to characterize those who do not believe in their particular way. This, of course, is a demonstration of one of man’s basic problems today — the problem of ego. Man wants to “play God.” In actuality, he wants to be God.
This is (always was) Satan’s problem too, and he has inoculated mankind with his desire for God/man equality.
Satan tempted Jesus to misuse the knowledge and power of God when he suggested that Jesus create bread out of stones. Of course, the Lord gave Satan the correct reply, but this same desire — to misuse knowledge — is prevalent today.
The hyper-faith people suggest that there was a basic lack of knowledge of the laws of healing and salvation until Paul’s time. Consequently, Old Testament saints (according to these teachers) underwent many unnecessary difficulties because of this lack of knowledge. Of course, this is absurd, but it is their excuse for any Scripture which conflicts with their misguided teaching.
Actually, there is a tendency to emphasize knowledge rather than salvation. It is as though one becomes saved, but then becomes more saved as his knowledge increases. This parallels some of the thoughts of Gnosticism. It almost ignores the blood atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As previously stated, the hyper-faith people seem to believe that the Bible is a god unto itself, needing little or no Deity behind it. They seem to teach that the force of speaking the Word (and knowledge of it) becomes all that is necessary to bring about what has been spoken.
They appear to have lost the realization that true Christian belief is that the will of the Father and the words of the Bible are in perfect conformity; that they take life in us as we move in the knowledge of God according to the leading of the Holy Spirit — not in the bondage of a written formula that was separated and apart from our living Saviour.
When God’s written Word is apart from His person, a scriptural code of law is developed. As with any code of law, legalism must develop — and with it the resultant condemnation whenever the believer fails to keep one or several of the laws.
If you will notice, faith teachers are often heard to say, “It was your faith that failed. God can never fail.”
Consequently, the believer becomes the one following the law to its maximum, and taking the blame for any ensuing failure. The law, or “formula,” always works! The only possibility of failure lies in our faith — as revealed in our confession of the words or formulas.
In view of all of this, they say we should lean on our knowledge, which will then control all circumstances surrounding us. These laws are impersonal and divorced from any relationship except that of their mechanical performance.
By and large, this knowledge removes the control from God and His will to an exercise of our will, using the formula (or law). The line between God and man blurs, and man suddenly seems to become a law unto himself. Of course, this totally ignores the fact that Jesus, although He was the very Son of God, totally submitted Himself to the will of the Father. It would seem prudent for us to do at least as much.
This “knowledge salvation” imposes a great burden on the believer. He mustn’t, under any circumstances, “lose his confession.” If he does, all the results of the forces put into motion with the confession will be lost. Kenyon himself said, “Action on the written Word of God brings God onto the scene.” It would seem, from this teaching, that God is automatically stirred into action by repetition of certain words of Scripture. Consequently, the believer acts solely upon the substance of his own faith world — guided by specific laws, confessions, and formulas.
Part III October 2014
I Tim. 6:20-21 – “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.”
THE LAW AND CONFESSION
Following hard on the heels of “knowledge” is “confession.” Confession constitutes a major element in hyper-faith ministry. Scriptural formulas confessing result into existence — thereby releasing benevolent forces on our behalf — constitute a major force in this gospel. Their “law of confession” is a routine quoting of certain Scriptures. The Word of God is seen as a self-energizing entity — a deity within itself. Specific Scriptures are utilized, out of context, completely ignoring all related Scriptures addressing the same principles. By using these isolated Scriptures, God is supposedly obligated to perform certain actions. The verbalized confession becomes the total force.
Of course, within this system, the burden on the individual becomes almost too great to bear. Above all, he must not lose his confession; he must not weaken his confession; he must not err in his confession. No matter what happens, he is compelled to ignore reality and to maintain his confession.
As a result, sick people are prayed for and automatically declared healed. Why? Because certain specific passages of Scriptures have been applied to their sickness — and once the confession has been made, it is impossible for them to not be healed! In their thinking, the Word of God (which, again, has become a deity within itself) has been imprisoned within their laws — and the individual has to be healed.
The will of God is totally ignored. These unfortunate individuals are instructed to never see a doctor since this would counteract their positive confession, with the consequent loss of their healing (or whatever it was they asked for). The sad fact is that some have actually died by observing this dangerous and hurtful teaching.
The Word of God is basically removed from the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Individuals are told they can do anything Jesus did — if they have the right type of knowledge, believe correctly, and have the right confession. They can have anything they confess. They are told that the believer — infused with the new kind of nature (the new knowledge) — can speak (even as God spoke) worlds into existence. This type of teaching is often termed “the God-kind of faith.”
The hyper-faith people basically deny the effect of sickness, death, trials, and problems in their lives, when these problems are present. They seem to feel that they have the power to release “forces of good” as a consequence of their knowledge and confession. As such, they have little or no compassion for those who are sick or who suffer from trials or difficulties. They simply state — with a cold, scientific logic — “You are suffering because you have refused to know your place in Christ (knowledge).”
They also say, if you pray according to God’s written Word and follow His instructions, you will always get results. If you miss it (they say), it is your faith that failed, not God. They infer somewhat that prayer, in the sense of need, is the enemy of confession. They say prayer asks for help without denying that the circumstances exist; in other words, it is the opposite of confession.
They suggest, rather than praying, to confess the answer, because in confessing the answer we repeat the magic formula causing the negative factors to disappear.
They further imply that prayer (asking God for help) is a sign of weakness and dependence, so we should religiously avoid this type of praying. We should instead confess our position in Christ — because confession has the ready answer, and all we really have to do is begin confessing. In view of this, we are instructed not to pray as one normally would since prayer is really an enemy of faith, as indulged in by most Christians.
Prayer is much talked about, but it is really twisted to conform to the principle of confession.
Once again, the veil of condemnation falls heavily on the shoulders of the believer. He is told that he can govern the circumstances round himself — using only the written Word of God. He can use this as a club — forcing God into a particular position, or at least as a magic talisman (good luck charm) that will banish all problems. The trusting are further told that results probably will not happen overnight just because we “confess” certain things once or twice.
In other words, we must keep saying them, over and over again, and keep believing them.
Once again, the responsibility of the results falls on the individual. Consequently, the individual is the one who is glorified, if and when results occur. The name of God and His Word are spoken of constantly, and are “used” continuously.
But, in actuality, it is the individual who is glorified, and God receives very little of the praise. They even tell us that these are the same principles “used” by Jesus.
The believer is discouraged from the usual manner of praying since this would require him to repeat the problem aloud for all to hear. (This amounts to acknowledgement of the problem!) Some insist that praying for help implies that God has left something undone; that redemption is incomplete.
Within the hyper-faith teaching, nothing is incomplete. We are even told that the prayer of repentance and forgiveness is not for the modern-day saint, and no Christian should ever confess sin, as one generally does. Some teach that a confession of sin should be replaced by a confession of who the believer is — a new creation in Christ. This is somehow supposed to erase the slip into sin consciousness.
SIN AND SALVATION
If you will notice, their leaders seldom preach against any kind of sin. There is little said about it because (they say) it will cause people to have a “sin consciousness.” Not surprisingly, they don’t really believe in conviction either.
They suggest that conviction is really condemnation. They pay lip service to getting people saved but devote little energy to it. Their brief, mechanical altar calls are little more than passing efforts. Their entire movement depends on someone else winning souls to God — and only then do they appear to elevate these to new levels of knowledge. As such, their teaching must be viewed as somewhat parasitical.
They have very little regard to foreign missions except in limited settings. This is not surprising in that their teaching of “higher knowledge” does not appear too much to the heathen of Africa, Asia, Central or South America. They do, however, mention “thousands saved.” This fits in with the confession concept. Even though there are a few outward results, they tend to confess to great numbers being saved.
They think the confession of the believer can control the world around him (completely ignoring the will of God); and if results are not seen, it is the confession that is at fault. They also imply that the believer no longer really needs God’s grace, but is himself invested with the ability to do what is necessary in life. Hence, one hears a great deal about the ability of God in the believer. In other words, the believer becomes something of a free agent, or a franchisee, doing all sorts of great things.
When this is carried to its final conclusion, it completely ignores the will of God, falling into the area of presumption and leaving the believer out of God’s will — exercising his own judgement and will — which is the ultimate sin. He will then commit Satan’s sin of using God’s Word against His (God’s) purposes. Individuals are told to confess anything into existence — from Cadillacs to resurrection — completely ignoring the will of God in the matter. This is their “right” in their “new knowledge in Christ Jesus,” they say.
DENIAL OF HUMAN NATURE
This is one of the basic teachings of Gnosticism — dualism — a teaching that one cannot have a human nature and a Godly nature at the same time. One is either totally divine, or totally satanic, never just human.
We are told that man is either operating totally in the flesh realm (the world of the senses) or in the spiritual realm. This, as we have mentioned, is the dualism of Gnosticism. Therefore, they would convince us that sickness is purely spiritual in origin and must be healed on that level instead of on the physical level. Consequently, they sometimes say that sickness is aligned with a sinful state of the ill person. It is always a spiritual problem (they say).
In view of all this, those adhering to this philosophy do not feel that Christians truly undergo trials and/or testings. If an individual appears to undergo trials or testings, that person is operating in the realm of the senses, or the flesh realm, the world of carnality or of Satan.
They equate any individual living completely free of all difficulties or problems as operating in the world of the divine, which is God. It is always one or the other. The individual is never just “human”; consequently, you seldom hear them mention the fact that they are tired. Converts are told never to confess any type of sickness. If they have a cold, they are to say (by faith) that they do not have a cold — because confessing something of this nature would indicate humanity. They do not operate in the realm of the senses; they operate on a higher plane.
Anyone who prays, admitting total dependency on God, is filled with flaws and inconsistencies. To pray for God’s help would be considered as foolish by the hyper-faith people. They simply do not have flaws or inconsistencies. They have already arrived at a state of co-divinity with God. This “dualism,” once again, touches on the superior, or master race, syndrome.
These teachers seem blind to man’s basic human nature. They do not seem to realize that we are actually poor, undeserving creatures, desperately in need of God’s help. However, due to the Fall, we were born spiritually incomplete and inadequate, needing a Redeemer. Only Jesus Christ is acceptable to God as our Saviour and Redeemer. He loves us deeply and everlastingly.
They also tend to deny the fact that when we are saved (born again) our humanity does not cease.
They ignore the fact that we still possess the flaws and inconsistencies of humans, and only God’s grace and mercy — through Jesus Christ — allow us to enter into the presence of God. They lose sight of the fact that within ourselves we are unworthy, and therefore must depend totally upon God for His mercy and His grace.
BEARING THE CROSS AND THE ATONEMENT OF CHRIST
The hyper-faith teaching, with its implied denial of the Cross of Jesus Christ, stems basically from the Gnostic duality teaching that Jesus Christ became a partaker of the satanic nature on the Cross. In other words, they suggest that He became identified with Satan. They claim He could not have died physically without first dying spiritually.
They seem to say — concerning the mortality of the body of Christ — that His death on the Cross was proof that He had ceased being the Son of God.
They seem to have a complete misconception of the Incarnation, feeling there can never be two natures present in a person. Only one or the other may be present, but never both simultaneously (dualism of Gnosticism).
Their basic teaching appears to hinge on the statement that Jesus was both divine and satanic — but not at the same time. In their view, He was divine while He was on the earth but became sinful while on the Cross, as He took our sins upon Himself.
The logical extension of their philosophy is that when Jesus took our sins upon Himself on the Cross, He became personally in need of redemption because of those sins. In short, He became a sinner on the Cross. Because of this He died spiritually, went to Hell, and as a result had to be born again exactly as we have to be born again today.
This goes back to the Gnostic “redeemed Redeemer.” They flaunt the Scripture which says He was the first-born of many creatures — and they distort this to suggest that He was born again (in the sense of a spiritual birth). They seem to ignore the fact that this refers to a physical birth, not a spiritual birth.
Irenaeus, the ancient teacher who so strongly refuted Gnosticism, said, “No creed is so blasphemous as theirs … cutting off and dividing Jesus from Christ, Christ from Saviour, Saviour from Word, and Word from Only Begotten.”
The new Gnostics also seem to feel that Jesus took on our satanic flesh on the Cross, and then died. As mentioned earlier, they use the scriptural reference of 2 Corinthians 5:21, completely pulling it out of context.
They imply that the Cross is the place of the spiritual death of Jesus, in addition to His physical death. In truth, this borders on blasphemy. It would seem that the power and forgiveness, provided in the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, is lost to them — rejecting as they do their need for anything beyond knowledge.
One has the feeling that they repudiate Calvary.
They make light of such songs as “The Old Rugged Cross,” etc.
This type of song is looked at with disdain. They protest that they do not want to identify with the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
One can’t help but conclude that they do not feel they have to go through repentance and the Cross. It is ignored, treated as “past miseries.”
The truth is, as the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 6:14, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
I am sure that many hyper-faith teachers do not realize, nor would they admit, that this part of their teaching is the very heart of Gnosticism, as it is related to Christianity. I’m sure most of them would not suspect that their denial of the Christian position on the Cross and the Atonement is basically the “dualism” of Gnosticism. Unfortunately, the fact that one is not cognizant (aware) of an error does not make the error any less destructive.
I know I have not covered all details. The subject is so broad that time and space will not permit deeper analysis. I have, however, tried to give some insight into hyper-faith thinking and teaching although omitting discussion of the basic foundations of Christianity. Space limitations demand that we assume most Christians already know “what was once delivered unto the saints.”
I pray you, the reader, will not become confused with this rather brief presentation. I’ve not only tried to state all the aspects accurately, but I have also endeavoured to be fair and impartial.
My heart bleeds for the scores of people being deceived by the hyper-faith teaching. I feel this is basically a new covering for the old apostasy of Gnosticism. If one will study the audiences of these teachers, it becomes apparent that they are comprised of mostly young people, with some exceptions of course. These individuals, due to lack of experience, do not have the firm foundation they should have in the Word of God.
Consequently, they are “easy prey” for this type of teaching. It has a powerful attraction.
Hyper-faith requires little of nothing from the individual concerning clean living. Overt sin within lives is ignored or never preached against. In other words, one gives up nothing to embrace the present day hyper-faith philosophy.
Secondly, there’s the promise of instant riches. Sad to say, there is an element of selfishness and greed in most people’s hearts — even Christians’. Of course, all this philosophy has the apparent blessing of the Word of God. With these twin appeals, it exerts great allure. Individuals are promised instant health and wealth — and this is a heady gospel.
“Miracles” and “healings” are spoken of constantly; when in reality there are few miracles, and precious few healings. Trusting followers are led to believe that God is continually speaking to the teachers.
“God told me” seems a constant part of the preaching. The whole performance is dignified by the implied protection of a heavy spiritual canopy.
The fact is, God does speak to people, but I’m concerned that He doesn’t speak with the constancy suggested. Stupendous statements and claims are made — statements and claims having no documentation in fact. By “faith” great numbers are announced as being saved. Miracles are tossed about as common occurrences, but with little basic substance or fact backing them.
Carelessness with facts becomes rampant, and all under the guise of “faith.”
The followers, often knowing little of the Word of God, are lulled into deception by eagerly accepting that which doesn’t exist. Ah, it sounds so scriptural to the unknowing ear and eye! It sounds so plausible. It appears to be the dream of man — the answer to the cry of those desiring victory within their lives.
And there is some truth, as we stated earlier, in what they teach. This, of course, is what makes the error so much more difficult to recognize. Error surrounded by truth finds it easy to entrap the unwary in its reaches.
The Master told us we must judge a tree by the fruit it bears (Matthew 12:33 and Luke 6:43).
I would like, as we close this message, to look at the fruit of the hyper-faith ministry:
A. IT WINS VERY FEW CONVERTS
The hyper-faith ministries depend largely on the burden, love, and concern of others to get people saved. Little emphasis is placed on soul-winning. Principal emphasis is placed on healings, miracles, riches, hundredfold return, faith, money, knowledge, and so forth. Very little concern is demonstrated for the very core of Christian faith — the salvation of souls.
B. THE GREAT COMMISSION IS ALMOST TOTALLY IGNORED
The building of churches and Bible schools, and the sending of missionaries are given low priority. After all, “the health and wealth gospel” does not apply itself too well to a large percentage of the world’s population.
C. HYPER-FAITH TEACHING IS REALLY A NEW GNOSTICISM
Hyper-faith teaching will not lead to victory in the hearts and lives of most individuals. In the majority of cases, it will lead rather to future difficulties. People are promised all sorts of physical and material rewards, but very few of these promises ever materialize.
The hyper-faith believer is led to expect many things that God has never promised. As a consequence, when the expected results fail to materialize, the individual ends up disappointed at the least and embittered at worst.
When real tragedy befalls, as it inevitably will in most lives, the hyper-faith “laws and “formulas” are applied but, to the believer’s dismay, they just don’t work. They have been promised that these are God’s laws, while in actuality they are nothing more than man’s laws.
It is in this way that many abandon their walk with God and become embittered. They end up denying God, His work, His church, and all that real salvation comprises. And all because they believed, with all their hearts, a premise built on a foundation of sand. The shores are littered with the wrecks of these hapless individuals. They placed their all in the hyper-faith doctrine, but instead of gaining all, they lost all.
These individuals, of course, are ignored. There’s no compassion for the hyper-faith dropouts. They are dismissed with a flippant “They missed it” and brushed aside like so much debris — because there is always a fresh crop of gullibles to take their place.
I have delivered this message with great sadness and heaviness of heart. My heart breaks to see what is happening. I am not an outside observer. I have been there, and I know what I’m talking about. I know and understand their teaching.
I know where it comes from; I’ve witnessed its results. Even though some may strike out against me, saying I’ve attacked individuals, I can only answer: God knows my heart.
I have no desire whatsoever to strike out or attack anyone. I love all people everywhere. I do not, however, love the results of the hyper-faith ministry — which I sincerely believe is a carry-over of the ancient error of Gnosticism.
I believe most of its adherents have a serious lack of Bible foundation, with a resultant void in what they believe and what they teach. Unfortunately, irregardless of a person’s sincerity, erroneous teaching always produces unfortunate results.
It has cost me greatly to say these things; but I have done what I believe is God’s will. The saddest part of all is that I feel the majority of these hyper-faith teachers are good people who simply do not know that the heart of their teaching borders on a denial of the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ and the basic teachings of the Word of God.
They would certainly disagree with this, but this is the road they are traveling. Again, I emphasize that all error will lead to difficulty and destruction.
In closing, I can only echo the words of our Saviour, “… Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve Me, him will my Father honour” (John 12:24-26).