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The Word-Faith Movement

Health and Healing

Edited and expanded extracts from the book by Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald,
Alpha - the Unofficial Guide: Church, (2005), Part Four, Chapter 19


Word-Faith: Index of Articles

 

Introduction

It is undoubtedly true that God likes to prosper us in this life; though it is crucial to remember that this can be in ways other than material ones.  But it is important also that we understand that the Lord is far more interested in our eternal welfare than in our temporal conditions.  So when those interests clash, it is our spiritual health and wealth that will take precedence.

An obvious example is the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:20-24.  This principle is confirmed again and again in Scripture in the lives of even the greatest heroes of the faith - including those living under the Abrahamic Covenant on which the Word-Faith teachers rely so heavily - like Moses, David, and Elisha.

Let us look here primarily at sickness...

 

With His Stripes

One of the central Word-Faith doctrines is that physical healing, as well as salvation, was provided for in the atonement of the Lord Jesus.  Consequently, most Word-Faith teachers use the part-verse "with His stripes we are healed" as proof that, through the Lord's sufferings, none of us ever need experience any illness:

"It is wrong for us to have sickness and disease in our bodies when God laid those diseases on Jesus" [E.W. Kenyon, Jesus the Healer, (1943), p.44],

"A person seeking healing should look to God's Word, ... He should say, 'I know that I am healed because the Word says that by His stripes I am healed'." [Kenneth E. Hagin, Right and Wrong Thinking, (1966), pp.20-21],

"I never talk sickness.  I don't believe in sickness.  I talk health ... I believe in healing.  I believe in health.  I never talk sickness.  I never talk disease.  I talk healing" [Kenneth E. Hagin, Words, (1979), pp.20-21],

"The basic principle of the Christian life is to know that God put our sin, sickness, disease, sorrow, grief, and poverty on Jesus at Calvary.  For Him to put any of this on us now would be a miscarriage of justice.  Jesus was made a curse for us so that we can receive the blessing of Abraham" [Kenneth Copeland, The Troublemaker, (1970), p.6],

"You have a covenant with Almighty God, and one of your covenant rights is the right to a healthy body" [Kenneth Copeland, Healed... To Be or Not To Be, (1979), p.25],

"The first step to spiritual maturity is to realise your position before God.  You are a child of God and joint-heir with Jesus.  Consequently, you are entitled to all the rights and privileges in the kingdom of God, and one of these rights is health and healing" [Kenneth Copeland, Healed... To Be or Not To Be, (1979), pp.31-32],

"The Bible declares that the work was done 2,000 years ago.  God is not going to heal you now - He healed you 2,000 years ago.  All you have to do today is receive your healing by faith" [Benny Hinn, Rise and be Healed!, (1991), p.44],

"There will be no sickness for the saint of God ... If your body belongs to God, it does not and cannot belong to sickness" [Benny Hinn, Rise and Be Healed!, (1991), pp.14,62],

"God's desire for the church of Jesus Christ ... is that we be in total and perfect health" [Benny Hinn, Rise and Be Healed!, (1991), p.65].

From these quotes we can see that there is little, if any, room within Word-Faith theology for sickness or disease in the life of a believer.  But if we take a moment to look at the context in both Isaiah 53:5-6 and 1 Peter 2:24-25 (plus the Lord's respective use of figurative Hebrew and Greek words for "healed"), we see that it is healing spiritually which the Lord's suffering achieved:

"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way: and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:5-6),

"Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by Whose stripes ye were healed.  For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" (1 Peter 2:24-25).

These scripture passages show very clearly that it is our alienation from God, due to our fallen nature, which has been healed by Christ.  Other passages which refer to the "healing" of our souls - rather than our bodies - include the following:

"Heal me O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for Thou art my praise" (Jeremiah 17:14),

"Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her her; take balm for her pain, if so she may be healed.  We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: ... for her judgement reacheth unto heaven. and is lifted up even to the skies" (Jeremiah 51:8-9),

"Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged ... Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their wyes, lest they ... convert, and be healed" (Isaiah 6:8-10),

"When Jesus heard it, He saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Mark 2:17).

But what about Matthew 8:16-17, where Christ healed all that were brought to Him "that it might be fulfilled ... Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses"?  Surely this passage disproves our claims above?

It actually serves to confirm them, because all the people in the Matthew 8 passage were demoniacs - that is, they were sick as a result of demonic activity which had come in through sin.  Hence, when they were delivered of their demons (when they were spiritually healed), the resulting sicknesses were removed too.  Sicknesses that reflect sinful activity will obviously disappear, through Christ, if the sinfulness in question has been properly repented of.

 

None of These Diseases

"Sickness does not belong to you.  It has no part in the Body of Christ.  Sickness does not belong to any of us.  The Bible declares if the Word of God is in our life, there will be health, there will be healing - divine health and divine healing.  There will be no sickness for the saint of God.  If Moses could live such a healthy life, so can you" [Benny Hinn, Rise and Be Healed!, (1991), p.14].

"He promises to heal all - every one, any, any whatsoever, everything - all our diseases!  That means not even a headache, sinus problem, not even a toothache - nothing!  No sickness should come your way" [Benny Hinn, Rise and Be Healed!, (1991), p.32.  Emphasis in original].

Certainly God heals.  But over-dependence, for example, on God's promise made to physical Israel to "put none of these diseases upon thee, which I brought upon the Egyptians" (Exodus 15:26), is unwise.

This is partly because the promise was conditional on God's People observing the many strict hygiene regulations and dietary laws that He had laid down for them, as well as keeping "all His statutes":

"And [the LORD] said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee" (Exodus 15:26).

But we must also recognise that "none of these diseases" does not equate to "no diseases at all".

(It needs to be said here that those who turn to this text to prove their view, are often the same people who will refuse to listen to other doctrinal statements based on Old Testament verses.)

 

Diseases of the Soul

Likewise, much is often made of Psalm 103:2-3:

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities: Who healeth all thy diseases."

But as can be seen, David is here addressing his soul; it is diseases of the soul which are in view here.  And again, as previously stated, the context must always be taken into account: here, the surrounding verses are not about the physical body, but are instead all about redemption, righteousness, judgement, and sins - in other words, the soul; hence the mention, in verse 3, of forgiveness.

 

Positive or Negative Confession and Lying Symptoms

If we do get sick, Word-Faith teachers tell us it is because we are thinking negatively, and if we remain sick it is because we are failing to positively confess our healing:

"I know that I am healed because He said that I am healed and it makes no difference what the symptoms may be in the body.  I laugh at them, and in the Name of Jesus I command the author of the disease [Satan] to leave my body" [E.W. Kenyon, The Hidden Man, (1970), p.99],

"I never talk sickness.  I don't believe in sickness.  I talk health ... I believe in healing.  I believe in health.  I never talk sickness.  I never talk disease.  I talk healing" [Kenneth E. Hagin, Words, (1979), pp.20-21],

"Real faith in God - heart faith - believes the Word of God regardless of what the physical evidence may be. ... A person seeking healing should look to God's Word, not to his symptoms" [Kenneth E. Hagin, Right and Wrong Thinking, (1966), pp.20-21],

"It makes a great deal of difference what one thinks.  I believe that is why many people are sick. ... The reason they are not getting healed is that they are thinking wrong. ... They simply kept thinking, believing, and talking wrong. ... The thing that makes a believer a success is right thinking, right believing, and right confession" [Kenneth E. Hagin, Right and Wrong Thinking, (1966), pp.19,24],

"Any time a believer has a problem receiving healing, he usually suffers from ignorance of God's Word" [Kenneth Copeland, Healed... To Be or Not To Be, (1979), p.25],

"Every circumstance ... is started with the tongue. ... God intends for every believer to live completely free from sickness and disease.  It is up to you to decide whether or not you will" [Kenneth Copeland, The Power of the Tongue, (1980), p.22  /  Welcome to the Family, (1979), p.25],

"You will never fully realise or understand healing until you know beyond any doubt that ... God wants you healed. ... Whether or not you accept that and purpose to walk in the reality of the truth is your own decision to make" [Kenneth Copeland, Healed... To Be or Not To Be, (1979), pp.31-32.  Emphasis in original],

"I don't look at cancer.  I don't look at the tumor ... I can't look at the natural and ... say ... 'I'm sick'.  Because when I say that, I've signed for the package.  I have taken authority for it, and it belongs to me legally.  Satan can enforce it upon my body.  And he will kill me with it" [Frederick Price, How Faith Works, (1976), p.23],

"...the devil wanted to scare me into thinking that the pain would kill me.  Well, I just let the pain come.  My wife can tell you; I crawled around on my bedroom floor, shouting and hollering at the top of my voice.  I was in such pain I couldn't stand on my feet. ... I was under attack to that extent.  But I refused to give in to it" [Frederick Price, Faith, Foolishness, or Presumption?, (1979), pp.76-77],

"When the Devil tries to put a symptom of sickness or disease on my body, I absolutely refuse to accept it.  A short time ago he tried to put symptoms of the flu on me.  My nose and eyes started to run.  I began to sneeze and ache all over.  I haven't had the flu since 1969, and I'm not going to have it now.  I'm redeemed from the flu!  Immediately I began to confess God's Word that I'm healed by the stripes of Jesus.  I rebuked Satan and refused his lying symptoms.  I wasn't trying to get something I don't have; I was keeping something I already have.  I am healed" [Jerry Savelle, If Satan Can't Steal Your Joy, (1982), p.9].

As another commentator has wryly noted concerning the actions of Kenneth Hagin and Frederick Price above, neither of them "seem troubled by the absurdity of being 'healed' ... yet continuing to suffer just as badly from the symptoms" [Hank Hanegraaf, Christianity in Crisis, (1993), p.243].

Wouldn't it be a whole lot easier just to obey Scripture and ask their brothers for prayer?...

"Is any sick among you?  Let him call for the leaders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: ... pray for one another, that ye may be healed" (James 5:14,16).

No, assuredly not, says Price, because no matter how bad the symptoms may feel, they're not real:

"I wanted my faith to work for me.  I didn't want to have to call you up and have you pray for me" [Frederick Price, Faith, Foolishness, or Presumption? (1979), pp.76-77];  "We don't allow sickness in our home" [Frederick Price, Is Healing For All?, (1976), p.20].

No, definitely not, says Hagin, because that's precisely what Satan wants us to do:

"'Why you foul devil, what is the matter with you?  Why in the world would I want to be prayed for?  God healed me five years ago, and I am still healed.'   Satan had camouflaged a few symptoms and was trying to make me believe that I was not healed. ... All he could do was to try to get me to believe the symptoms and go by my sense.  Nevertheless, I stood my ground.  I maintained that God had healed me, and I would not accept anything else.  I would not even permit a doubtful thought to enter my mind" [Kenneth Hagin, quoted in Hanegraaf, Crisis, p.245].

But...

"Far from being the devilish decoys they are claimed to be by Faith teachers, symptoms provide testimony to the powerful healing potential that God has designed into our bodies. ... Not only can symptoms serve as signals that alert us to impending physical peril, but they can also be signs that point to the body's healing process themselves.  Thus symptoms are often a divine demonstration of God's sovereign healing power in progress" [Hanegraaf, Crisis, p.245].

The tale is told of one Word Faith church where:

"...the pastor rose sheepishly to instruct this congregation on a ticklish concern.  Some of the church members, he had heard, were spreading contagious diseases among the church's little ones by bringing their sick babies to the nursery.  Against the nursery volunteers' protests, these parents were positively confessing that their children were well.  Since the parents had claimed their healing, there was nothing to worry about.  They may have been dismissing those persistent whines and coughs as lying symptoms, but those lying symptoms proved to be contagious, and only an announcement from the pulpit could succeeded in putting an end to the problem" [Bruce Barron, The Health and Wealth Gospel, (1987), p.128].

While the above may seem mildly amusing, other incidences of positive confessions failing to produce the desired result are desperately sad.  For example, the following:

"A few years ago I received a heart-rending letter from a dear woman who, deceived by 'positive confession' theology, believed God wanted her to write everyone she knew with a baby announcement for the child she was hoping to conceive.  Tragically, that poor woman was physically incapable of bearing children.  Months later she had to write to everyone again to explain that the expected 'faith baby' had not arrived.  She was quick to add that she was still claiming a pregnancy by faith, however.  She was obviously fearful that someone might take her second letter as a 'negative confession'" [John F. MacArthur, Jr., Charismatic Chaos, (1992), p.345].

Yes, it's true that Abraham's wife, Sarah, and Zacharias' wife, Elisabeth, both conceived a child despite being barren and well beyond childbearing age (Genesis 17:17; 18:11-12;  Luke 1:5-7,18).  And, yes, there is also Joseph's betrothed, Mary, who was yet a virgin when she bore her child.

But the difference is that, in these examples of women in the Bible who conceived when it should, have been biologically impossible for them to do so, God Himself gave each of them the specific promise that He would give them a child (Genesis 17:15-16,19,21; 18:10,13,14;  Luke 11-13,19,24-25;  Luke 1:26-38).

There is no hint in Scripture of these women 'positively confessing' anything - indeed, in Word-Faith theology, Sarah at least could be accused of a 'negative confession' (Genesis 18:12-13).  Yet, she conceived a child nonetheless.  Why?  Because God promised her He would give her a child.  And if God promises us something, or of God tells us to pray specifically for something - for healing from a sickness or a disease - then it will come to pass.

Another story is told of a woman suffering from arthritis who apparently could not positively confess her healing, and struggled to let go of her wheelchair when Kenneth Hagin ordered her to do so in 'faith':

"I pointed my finger at her and said, 'Sister, you don't have an ounce of faith, do you?'  (She was saved and baptized with the Holy Spirit, but I meant she didn't have faith for her healing.)  Without thinking, she blurted out, 'No, Brother Hagin, I don't!  I don't believe I'll ever be healed.  I'll go to my grave from this chair.'  She said it, and she did it.  We weren't to blame" [Kenneth Hagin, Praying to Get Results, (1983), p.5].

In light of the Word-Faith quotes above, what may we say of some of the men and women in the Bible who were sick, or suffering from disease, or afflicted?...  The Bible suggests that God often has purposes for our infirmities that we may not see.  He may use sickness, for example:

(a)  to glorify Himself - as He did with this man born blind, and also with Lazarus:

"And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?  Jesus answered, neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (John 9:1-3),

"Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, ... When Jesus heard ... He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby" (John 11:1-4).

(b)  to bring the gospel - as He did through Paul's illness:

"Ye know how through infirmities of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first" (Galatians 4:13).

(c)  to prove us - as He did with Job:

"And the LORD said unto Satan, hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?  Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for naught? ... But put forth Thy hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face" (Job 1:8-12).

(d)  to chastise us - as He did with King David:

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. ... I know, O LORD, that thy judgements are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me" (Psalm 119:71,75).

(e)  to educate us - as He did with Timothy:

"Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities" (1 Timothy 5:23).

In none of these situations, did God tell any of His servants to 'positively confess' their healing.

Word-Faith assertions of illness and disease being lies of Satan notwithstanding, we do get ill sometimes, and we do suffer from ailments or disease on occasion, and God, in His perfect wisdom and knowledge, may well be allowing it for very good reasons:

"Sometimes God may allow someone to be laid low for a while in order to free them from a busy lifestyle that they may have time aside with Him.  Perhaps He has been trying for a long time to show them something in their life that needs changing, or He has an important word for them to hear and understand, or perhaps He wants them to deepen their prayer life, or concentrate on some work for His Kingdom which they couldn't do if they were physically active and pursuing their normal concerns" [Michael Smith, 'Does God Always Heal Today?', Gospel Insights, (2013)].

Although it is entirely appropriate to proclaim our healing in faith, if God has specifically promised it to us, it is nevertheless presumptuous for us to do so otherwise.  Is there anyone amongst us who would not benefit from further sanctification or additional humility or greater reliance on God - all of which He may choose to achieve through affliction (as he did with Jacob, for example)?

Certainly it is true that God "doth not afflict willingly" (Lamentations 3:33), but neither will He hesitate to afflict us if it will benefit His Kingdom.

 

All Things Work Together for Good

If we are suffering, the, hard though we may find it, we should first of all thank God:

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thessalonians 5:180,

"Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christi" (Ephesians 5:20).

And we should stand on God's Word because:

"...we know hast all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

We can then seek God for insight into the cause of our sickness.  Then we are in a position to pray sensibly.  At no point do we command Him to heal us or remove the disease!

 

Paul's Thorn in the Flesh

Paul's "thorn in the flesh" is an excellent example of htat we are discussing here.

Some Word-Faith teachers have claimed that Paul was given this thorn in his flesh because of sin - because he was "very prone to brag and boast" [Frederick K.C. Price, Paul's Thorn, Ever Increasing Faith Ministries, (1980), audiotape #FP606, side 2  /  Is Healing For All?, (1976), p.12].

But the truth is that Paul lived a thankful and lowly life:

"...for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:11-13).

He had the wisdom to grasp the reason for his thorn and, despite praying three times for its removal, got a 'negative' response.  Please note how his humble testimony contrasts totally with the 'Faith' message:

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me ... For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

 

Who or What Heals Us?

We come now to Who or What heals us...

The Blind Men

The Lord Jesus required those folks who needed a miracle from Him, to have "faith".  But the faith He required of them was a strong belief (i.e. faith) in His Messiahship, and His ability resulting from that to perform the miracle they needed, not a faith in the recipient's own capacity to imagine - sufficiently strongly - receiving the miracle:

"And when He was come into the house, the blind men came to Him: and Jesus said unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this?  They said unto Him, Yes, Lord.  Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to your faith [i.e. your solid faith in My Lordship and thus My ability to heal you] be it unto you" (Matthew 9:28-29).

The Lame Man

Similarly, the lame man who was healed "in the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth" in Acts 3, was healed "through faith in His Name" - i.e. through faith in Christ's Godhood and power, not through "faith in faith".  We are to have a steadfast:

"faith in the Lord Jesus" (Ephesians 1:15);  "faith in Christ" (Colossians 2:5; see also Acts 24:24).

The Woman, the Leper, the Centurion

Some teachers put great store in the woman with the issue of blood in Matthew 9.  The Lord said to the woman "thy faith hath made thee whole" (v22); but it was her faith in the Person she touched which was rewarded.  Her action indicated her faith in the Lord's Christhood, since it was a tradition in Israel (Malachi 4;2) that the prayer shawl of the promised Messiah would have healing power.  Likewise, many others who also needed healing:

"...besought Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole" (Matthew 14:36).

It was the woman's faith in His Messiahship that led to her healing, as it demonstrably also was for both the leper and the Centurion:

"And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.  And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be clean.  And immediately his leprosy was cleansed" (Matthew 8:2-3),

"And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.  And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.  The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.  For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goest; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.  When Jesus heard it., He marvelled, and said unto them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great a faith, no, not in Israel. ... And Jesus said unto the centurion., Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee.  And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour" (Matthew 8:8-13).

Using the example of his own position in having authority over others, the centurion here states very clearly his faith in the authority of the Lord Jesus over sickness.  He had faith, not in 'faith', but in the Divine Authority of Jesus' Messiahship, and it is that faith that the Lord rewarded by healing his servant.

"No wonder my Positive Confession failed.  I spent so many years of my Christian life trying to get the faith that would move a mountain, when all the time what I needed was faith in the God who moves mountains" [Letter on file, Dave Hunt, Beyond Seduction: A Return to Biblical Christianity, (1987), p.56].

 

God is Sovereign

God is God.  He is the creator and ruler of the Universe and He does what He pleases:

"The LORD hath prepared His throne in the heavens; and His kingdom ruleth over all" (Psalm 103:19),

"But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased" (Psalm 155:3),

"[God] is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords" (1 Timothy 6:15),

"I counsel thee to keep the king's commandment, and that in regard of the oath of God.  be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.  Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?..." (Ecclesiastes 8:2-8).

We are His (unprofitable) servants and we exist for His pleasure, not the other war around.  We do not deserve any blessings from Him.  He is perfectly at liberty to withhold things from us for whatever reason He likes - and not only for the good of His Name and His Kingdom:

"Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?  Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?  Hath not the potter power over the clay...? (Romans 9:20-21a),

"What, shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" (Job 2:10).

So to teach that the Most High God is ever obliged to do things for us is a serious error, because it demeans God and instead exalts man.  Out of His mercy God has made some wonderful promises to those who fear Him (as opposed to those who think He is somehow at our beck and call), but we cannot make Him to anything.  We are not our own, we are His property:

"What?  Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

It is vanity to believe that we can claim "rights" or manipulate God, yet these are exactly the things being taught by teachers of the Faith movement.  Its leaders deny God's sovereignty by teaching that, through utilizing certain spiritual laws, we can actually "write our own ticket with God" [Kenneth Hagin, How to Write Your Own Ticket with God, (1988)], or that:

"As a believer ... each time you stand on the Word you are commanding God" [Kenneth Copeland, Our Covenant with God, (1987), p.32],

"Never, ever, ever go to the Lord and say, 'If it be your will...'  Don't allow such faith-destroying words to be spoken from your mouth" [Benny Hinn, Rise and Be Healed!, (1991), pp.47-48].

But the psalmist and the apostles and the Lord Jesus Himself all say otherwise...

"For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that" (James 4:15),

"And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us" (1 John 5:14),

"...Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6;10b),

"And He went a little farther, and fell on His face and prayed, saying. O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt ... thy will be done" (Matthew 26:39,42),

"Sing forth the honour of His Name: make His praise glorious.  Say unto God, How terrible art Thou in Thy works! ... He ruleth by His power for ever ... Let not the rebellious exalt themselves" (Psalm 66:2-7).

 

Pastoral Care

It needs to be said that the utter lack of compassion shown by Word-Faith pastors and teachers toward their suffering and grieving flocks is quite staggering:

"...how can you glorify God in your body, when it doesn't function right?  How can you glorify God?  How can He get glory when your body doesn't even work? ... What makes you think the Holy Ghost wants to live inside a body where He can't see out through the windows and He can't hear with the ears?  What makes you think the Holy Spirit wants to live inside of a physical body where the limbs and the organs and the cells do not function right? ... And what makes you think He wants to live in a temple where He can't see out of the eyes, and He can't walk with the feet, and He can't move with the hand? ... The only eyes that He has that are in the earth realm are the eyes that are in the body.  If He can't see out of them then God's gonna be limited..." [Frederick K.C. Price, Is God Glorified through Sickness?, audiotape #FP605].

We have already established from numerous scriptures in the sections above the answer to this Faith teacher's questions: yes, God is often glorified through human frailty and sickness and weakness and ailments.  Below are some quite disgraceful examples of the callousness inherent in Word-Faith teachings regarding people suffering from sickness and disability:

"Over the past few years I have received hundreds of letters from people who have fled the Faith movement.  In many cases these letters tell heartrending stories of sick people who were told that their sickness is a direct result of sin.  One of these letters is a personal testimony from a woman who had been blind from birth.  After coming to faith in Christ, she joined a [Word-Faith] church ... It wasn't long before they were instructing her to confess perfect sight and commanding God to honor His Word.  When nothing happened, they began to denounce this woman for her lack of faith.  They told her that there was:
 
'something in my life that hindered God's will.  "God", they said, "was held up because of some point of sin or disobedience that He couldn't get around until I straightened up.  I spent hours, sleepless nights, agonizing over the issue.  I became depressed and began to lose my joy.  I even quit praying.  Some Sundays I simply couldn't stand church because I felt like an outsider in God's family, watching His pet children get "blessed" because of their "Faith". ... If I was doing or not doing something that hindered God, I was at a loss trying to discern what it was.  "God!" I said in utter despair, "What do you want me to do?".'

"In time she discovered that God had never forsaken her.  her blindness was not a result of her sin, and the real problem was not her lack of faith but the Faith followers' lack of understanding.  She felt like a:

'different person.  I finally recognised that in Jesus' eyes I was whole and that I was still as important to Him as I had been at the beginning of our relationship.  I determined that no-one was ever again going to take His joy away from me'." [Letter on file, Hanegraaf, Crisis, pp.261-262].

"Another letter chronicles the story of a lady with incurable lupus and fibrosis.  Her best friend began listening to Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price, and John Avanzini, and immediately started telling the lady her ailments were a result of sin and lack of faith.  She closes her letter by saying that she sometimes wishes she could suffer without being punished by her friends, too" [Letter on file, Hanegraaf, Crisis, p.262].

"These stories are not the exception; they are the rule.  In case after case, Christians with such diseases as cancer or congenital birth defects are condemned for suffering as a result of some unknown sin.  The day I wrote these lines, I received a letter which told of a couple who had a still-born baby.  When this grieving couple needed comfort most, they were told their baby died as a result of sin - not the baby's, but the couple's.  They were told they had sinned by allowing 'fear to set in and ... did not have enough faith to believe the baby could be risen from the dead'." [Letter on file, Hanegraaf, Crisis, p.263].

Whilst Kenneth Hagin taught that "no believer should ever be sick" [Healing: The Father's Provision, (1977), p.9], and Kenneth Copeland says "I refuse to consider my body, I refuse to be moved by what I see and what I feel ... I'm going to choose His Word, instead of what my body's trying to say..." [West Coast Believer's Convention, (13 June 1991)], their faithful followers are tragically dying because they are being told they just need to positively confess their healing and all will be well.

"I've had people die, and me standing there saying, 'Bless God, you ain't going to die!'  And they did anyway.  And I'm glad I stood.  I ain't never stood for anything in my own life that didn't come to pass.  I can only use my faith so far with you" [Kenneth Copeland, West Coast Believer's Convention, (13 June 1991)],

"The only reason people die before their time is because they do not understand how to exercise their faith according to the Word to prevent death, or they choose to die before their time ... Children that are born dead had no control over their life, but their parents had that control.  However if the parents do not know the Word of God and to claim their rights in Christ, the child suffers the loss" [Frederick Price, Ever Increasing Faith Messenger, (Fall 1980), p.3].

These dear folk are ignoring their symptoms through their determination to insist on their "right" to healing, instead of seeking God as to the cause of their illness and then trusting in Him that if He does not heal them yet He knows best:

"Just the other day a dear pastor told me of a prominent Brother in his church ... who watched his daughter die because of [the Positive Confession] philosophy.  He had been taught ... that if we pray for someone's healing and then confess that the individual is healed, there is no way that person cannot be healed.  Consequently, we should not confess that they are sick, neither should we seek the help of a doctor (if a healing has not come), but should continue to confess the healing.  The poor Brother continued to confess the healing; the little girl died.  He sat with his head in his hands, out of his mind, telling his pastor, 'I killed my baby!'." [Letter on file, Hunt, Beyond Seduction, p.79].

"One widely publicised case was that of Wesley Parker, whose parents withheld needed insulin from him, even when he sank into a diabetic coma.  They persisted in denying the symptoms, as they had been taught, and confessed his healing.  He died nonetheless.  How heartbreaking to read the story in the book We Let Our Son Die!" [Hunt, Beyond Seduction, p.79].

"Faith teacher Hobart Freeman may have blamed the death of his grandson on the lack of faith of his son-in-law, but the truth is that a routine medical procedure could have easily saved the boy's life. ... Freeman's ... disdain for science and medicine, along with his flawed Faith formulas, led to his [own] apparently premature death in 1984" [Hanegraaf, Crisis, p.238].

But what about the City of Faith medical centre, which God apparently told Word-Faith teacher Oral Roberts to build in order to "merge His healing streams of prayer and medicine" [Charisma, June 1985, p.57], and which was built on 150m dollars worth of Roberts' "prayer partners" offerings?  Well, according to the director of the prayer partner ministry: "There are no more miracles at the City of Faith than any other hospital.  Just as many patients die" [quoted in Hunt, Beyond Seduction, p.72].

Yet, along with all the other Word-Faith teachers, Benny Hinn still insists that "Hundreds of verified healings ... have occurred including people rising from wheelchairs and leaving crutches ... blind eyes and deaf ears have been opened and verified" [Benny Hinn, The Anointing, (1992), pp.94-95].

"Not long ago I received a letter from [a] woman whose brother-in-law had enrolled in Kenneth Hagin's Rhema Bible Training Center.  While there, his wife contracted ovarian cancer.  Rather than seeking medical attention, they denied the symptoms of the cancer.  Predictably, she died.  Unfortunately, however, Faith follies do not die as quickly as did this dear lady.  Not only did these folks attempt to raise her from the dead, but when life did not return, they confessed that she would come back in another body.  In the end, they resorted to regurgitating the standard line of the Faith movement: The woman had not been healed due to lack of faith" [Hanegraaf, Crisis, pp.238-239].

And when they die, they die alone...

"Because of the belief that listening to a 'negative confession' can infect one's faith, not many in the Faith movement are willing even to be around, much less listen to, those who are seriously ill in their own churches.  Basically, the Faith churches have little or no concept of pastoral care for the the chronically and terminally ill believer.  Such a believer is shunned, isolated, and ostracised as though he was an unbeliever - which, by [Word-Faith] definition, is precisely what he is, or else he would not be ill in the first place.  Those who are willing to risk exposing themselves to a negative confession frequently minister to the terminally ill person the brand of 'comfort' given to Job by his 'friends'.  The time when a dying believer needs a word of encouragement is when he receives a sermonette on the failure of his faith.  The time when a dying believer needs his faith the most is when he is told that he has it the least.  The time when he needs the support of a sensitive, supportive body of believers is when he is ostracised and isolated as though he was himself infectious.  Perhaps the most inhumane fact revealed about the Faith movement is this: when its members die, they die alone" [Dan McConnell, The Promise of Health and Wealth: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement, (1990), p.166].

 

So Is Good Health Really Our 'Right'?...

From all that we have seen from the scripture passages above, we surely have no choice but to say that for the Faith teachers to claim "We don't allow sickness in our home" is (a) unbiblical, (b) boastful, and (c) untrue - the author of that quote's own wife sadly developing cancer.  Even if the 'Faith' doctrine were correct, i.e. that God only gives ill-health to those who are in sin, the above claim would mean that no-one in that household ever sins... yet, according to 1 John 1:8-10, we all do!

The notion that health is our right - and thus that we only need to believe strongly enough that we are healed for it to come to pass - is simply not borne out in the lives of men and women of great faith in Scripture; including those who wrote the Scriptures.

Indeed, the primary message of the book of Job is that no man, however faithful, upright, and godly he is, deserves any good thing.  Rather, we all deserve the torments of Job.  We rely entirely on God's grace for our very breath.  We fool ourselves of we think we deserve anything but hell - even as believers.  It is only thanks to the Lord's kindness that we ever get any blessings:

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:21-23).

God, purely out of His goodness, gives His saints spiritual health, but not necessarily physical health.

"What we can say is that it is God's will to give us spiritual wholeness and holiness, and it is His plan to prepare all Christians for eternity with Him, and if physical healing is necessary to that preparation, then He will heal us. ... God's primary purpose for us, even when we are ill, is to sanctify us and use us to help build His Kingdom.  If we are walking closely with God and know we are being obedient to Him yet He still chooses not to heal us physically in this life, we may not fully know the reason why until we go to be with Him.  But we do know that He is always in control and that 'all things work together for good to those that love Him' ... And of course, we need to remember that [on this earth] the whole of creation is subject to 'the bondage of corruption' (Romans 8:21-23), so whether we like it or not, our bodies will weaken and deteriorate and eventually die, until the time comes for the Lord to return and change our corruptible bodies unto incorruptible.  Praise the Lord!" [Michael Smith, 'Does God Always Heal Today?', Gospel Insights].

 

"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves,
waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body.  For we are saved by hope"
(Romans 8:19-25)

 

Elizabeth McDonald
March 2016

 

 

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