You hear a lot today, especially in the Word-Faith movement in the American church, about wisdom. All Christians must understand that true wisdom comes from the word of God (Scripture) and through the Holy Spirit. I will show this to be true as per Scripture itself. The issue I have with the current Word-Faith evolution is not necessarily what they teach, but rather the over-emphasis on what God can do for us as an unbalanced approach. Now I understand that to reach certain audiences, one must “tailor” their message to accommodate the listeners. Preachers have been doing this for 2000 years! For instance, some folk respond to the “hell, fire, and brimstone” message, others respond to the loving God approach, and still others respond to the God of blessing or “health and wealth” approach. Some of the greatest missionaries to ever live have had to modify the gospel to accommodate certain cultures, languages and social structures. The fact of the matter is that it really doesn’t matter where you start but rather where you finish. Whether you like him or not, I love Rick Warrens quote: “It doesn’t matter if you live in wealth…as long as you don’t die in wealth!” Forgive me if the quote isn’t word-for-word…but you get the gist.
The Christian life is a life of process, of moving forward, of the transformation of one’s carnal self to the spiritual self. All believers are required to seek God in His word and through the lens and guidance of the Holy Spirit. If we base our relationship with God on what a certain preacher says, or what a certain doctrine outlines, or on how we “feel” our God should look like, then the result will be a less than clear picture of said relationship. It is of utmost importance to have a personal relationship with God; a relationship that He Himself shapes for us by following the directions found through His word, prayer, and meditation. As every person is unique, I believe that each journey is just as unique. If we are unwilling to seek His face diligently and take the time to personally find Him by being committed to drawing near to Him, then the result can be a perverse and destructive force in our lives instead of a glorious and productive type of force.
Much can be learned through teachers, and preachers, and Christian literature. But nothing, and I mean nothing, takes the place of our own quest for a closer walk with Him. I would be dishonest if I told you that I have not learned volumes from the above stated sources, but I have also made the mistake of relying too heavily on those sources. Confusion can cloud our feeble little minds, and this is the goal of Satan. As the Bible clearly states, “He (Satan) is the author of confusion.” I am convinced that in the not too distant future that we will see a dissolving of denominational lines and constructs. Paul tells us that the Spirit of Truth is one of unification and accord…far from what we see today in the larger scope of modern Christendom. I fully anticipate and relish the thought of a unification of the “body of Christ”. It is my dream, my goal, my consuming thought at times, and my constant prayer that we return to the fundamentals of our Christian faith. The “old school” approach, which has been the impetus for reformation since the beginning of the church, has been seen clearly from the first Council of Jerusalem to the Reformation to the Great Awakening. From the very beginning, there were those who would cloud the true path to sanctification. What I have found is that the sanctification process is one of an organic nature, in that it starts with the individual and takes root in the heart of the one being purified. The result of this process always produces spiritual fruit. The chief result is love. Love for God first, love for others second, and finally love of self as it pertains to the nature of Christ within us. Once love has been established in our hearts, then the picture becomes much clearer! If you don’t understand the law of love, then I beg of you to take the little bit of time it takes to read the Book of 1 John. If you read 1 John and still don’t understand why it is impossible to be a Christian without love, then you just might be hopelessly lost! I wish that every Christian leader read this Scripture every day before even getting out of bed…:)
It is difficult for me to “cast stones” at some of these seemingly strange doctrines. It is difficult because the Bible tells us number one, not to do so and secondly, that we should not argue over “doubtful things”. One would have to do extensive research as I have to get to the core of their doctrine (that is, the Word-Faith doctrine); on the outside it is quite innocuous, but when you do the research there is a theory of us attaining God-like status. I know this sounds terrible and very close to what got Satan kicked out of heaven, but their fork in the road, so to speak, is very much a cloudy and grey area…I mean, you could make an argument both ways if you really get down to it! I choose to let God Himself guide me so as to not stray very far from what my simple and limited mind can actually wrap itself around! The Bible also tells us that the true gospel (or what is commonly referred to as the “seed”) is simply that Christ was born of a virgin as the only begotten Son of the Father, that He was crucified as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, and that He rose again thus proving regeneration and the conquering of death (If you are new to the faith, just “Google” the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed or just read the New Testament. You see, back in “the day” common folk didn’t have copies of Scripture and even if they did, most were illiterate; so it was all oral tradition…hence, the Creeds). If you asked Joel Osteen, or Kenneth Copeland, or any other controversial preacher if they believed in these basic Truths, they would most assuredly confirm them. What follows in their doctrine is subject to interpretation and should be the topic of very nominal conversation. The fact of the matter is that if we could meld their “health and wealth” doctrine to Isaiah 58, the Christian world would be awesome! For the record, I applaud many of today’s Christian leaders for moving in the right direction (Joyce Meyer and David Platt to name a couple). As you will read below, God DOES want to bless us, but we also have to realize that part of maturity in the Christian faith is to progress from “what can God do for me?” to “what can I do for God?”. We are to love each other and edify each other, and if we want to correct them of their “misleading doctrines” then that confrontation is reserved for private conversations and not public manifestations of holy war! We only embarrass ourselves when we “go public” with our ridicule…especially from the pulpit! The rest of the world just looks at us and chuckles in their perceived victory of “I told you so…” Paul says we are still “carnally minded” when we have disputes and divisions (1 Corinthians 3:3-4, 1 Corinthians 1:10-13), and Christ Himself said that to be divided is a sure recipe for destruction (Mark 3:24-25). Therefore, I will leave that to one-on-one conversations and much prayer for unification through the Spirit of truth. In the meantime, however a person received the gospel of Christ is of no importance. What is important is the individual believer’s PERSONAL quest to grow closer to God and closer to ultimate Truth. The watering and nurturing of the seed is paramount. The origin of the gospel seed is of little importance: “So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one (whether they like it or not!), and each one will receive his own reward according to his labor.” 1 Corinthians 3:7-8 (parenthetical added)
With all this in mind, let us explore briefly some basics:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
(Note: “He shall direct”, not a preacher, not a book, not a doctrine…although He may use any of the stated options)
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones. (There’s the “health” part…)
Honor the Lord with your possessions,
And with the firstfruits of all your increase;
So your barns will be filled with plenty,
And your vats will overflow with new wine.
Note the “Oreo effect” coming up! By the way, the “Oreo effect” is where you sandwich the bad news in-between the good news. It is a disciplinary tool used by many effective managers. For example: “Mr. Smith, you are one of our best employees and we value you very much (good). It has come to our attention that you have an issue with Mr. Jones and it is disrupting the flow of relations in our office (bad). We need to correct this problem because we need you in this office. Without you, the company would suffer (good).” You see the method: positive, negative, positive.
My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
(Note: Who does the correcting? Your brother? Your sister? NO! The Father does!…when we were growing up, didn’t we all hate to be corrected by a sibling? Did it EVER do any good, or did it just stir us up even more?!)
Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.
And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
Length of days is in her right hand,
In her left hand riches and honor. (There’s the “wealth” part…)
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who retain her. Proverbs 3:5-18
Please take God at His word. Do you realize the implications and promises laid out here in this passage? If you trust in the Lord and seek wisdom, then expect all that is stated above. God will not be mocked! Now, let us venture into the New Testament and see how this can be expounded upon.
These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing (of the Holy Spirit) which you have received from Him abides in you, and YOU DO NOT NEED THAT ANYONE TEACH YOU; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. 1 John 2:26-27 (parenthetical and bold added)
If you are a new believer in Christ, you should be exclaiming, “Whaaaa?” And if you are a mature Christian, you should be saying, “Thanks for reminding me!” But wait, there’s more!
These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. John 14:25-26
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden WISDOM which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But God has revealed them to us through His SPIRIT. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the HOLY SPIRIT TEACHES, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Corinthians 2:7-10 & 13 (caps added)
Seriously, I could go on and on! Because I choose to keep this article fairly brief, I have to stop. But I encourage every Christian to become overly active in their study of God’s word; I encourage every believer to become zealous in their prayer life; I implore all my brethren to meditate on the priceless gift of God’s wisdom.
If you will do this, then you can stop wandering around wondering who is right and who is wrong. You can end the madness of doctrines and denominations (about 175 different denominations!) and “new theories”. Don’t we get it? Going back to the basics is far from being boring! Can you imagine what the Christian faith would look like if even half of all Christians walked in the spirit? Can you imagine what the church would look like if we returned to embracing the Holy Spirit? Oh my goodness! We should get back to taking God at His word instead of listening to all the ridiculous arguing and divisions that we suffer from at this present time. We need to be bearing spiritual fruit and especially the fruit of brotherly love. I can tell you this from personal experience: the Lord has never let me down; He has never not kept His word; He has never disappointed me; and I have faith that He never will! I know sometimes we get confused and it is easy to get sucked into the negativity and finger pointing…STOP! Don’t do it. It is the same as murder; I didn’t say it…look it up in your Bible. Whenever I get down or confused or frustrated, I return to the basics: the Father wants us to seek Him, He loves us and craves to feed us wisdom, Christ is the risen Lord and is for us, and the Holy Spirit is present with power.
What I personally think is that eventually we will realize that within each doctrine is much truth and some inaccuracies (as we all agree on most things), and by the fire that is the Holy Spirit, He will find a way to “burn up” the rubble and teach us that perfection is found in unity! The culmination of everyone’s perspective will give us a more accurate version of what the bride of Christ is to look like. If we can find a way to “love one another”…He will do the rest. God always finishes what He starts.
Can I get an AMEN!?