Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jesus: A Means to an End or The End?

Paul wrote the following in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25:

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[a] to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

In this passage, the Apostle Paul makes it crystal clear that Jesus is The End of salvation. Sadly, too many pastors of evangelical churches are making Jesus the means and not The End.

How is this done? Well, simply go back and listen to your pastor's last Easter Sunday message. Is the message rooted in the historical fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ? Or was it rooted in the power that raised Jesus from the dead and how it will benefit you by making you a better husband, father, wife, mother, child, employee, employer, etc. etc.

My old church, which was an inner-city Pentecostal church, has a pastor that reveled in the fact that he could not just give the people future hope, but that they needed something now. This is called pragmatism. So that's what he gave them in the form of an illustrated sermon. Off to the side was a paper mache cave with a papermache stone in front of it. During the course of the sermon, the pastor spoke about the dead dreams that people had, and the reasons why those dreams were dead. The sermon ends with the dramatic "resurrection" in which some poor member of the youth group emerges from behind the stone wrapped in toilet paper to the raucous applause of the audience as if something miraculous had just occurred.

Fortunately, that pastor is no longer giving that Easter message. Instead that church has Easter productions with a somewhat improved theology of the resurrection of Jesus, but with the same therapeutic moralism of Jesus' resurrection being an internal event rather than a historical event.

This sort of therapeutic moralistic deism, as coined by Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton in their book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers, can be described as follows:
  1. A god exists who created and ordered the world, and who watches over human life on earth.
  2. This god wants people to be good, nice and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible, and in most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about one's self.
  4. This god does not need to be involved in one's life except when this god is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.
This form of false Christianity is also seen in other churches. A couple of weeks  ago I saw a video of a preacher, who I knew from an earlier association, preaching about how Jesus came to save gang-bangers from their life of crime and death. The problem still exists, however, that Jesus is means and not an end. In other words, the reason Jesus died on a cross was to save gang-bangers from their lifestyle, not their sin! Again moralistic therapeutic deism raises its head.

As Christians, we must be careful to not simply make Jesus a means to an end. The end being our sobriety, our chastity, our any other moral activity. When Jesus becomes a means then all we have done is make belief in Jesus legalism.

Jesus is not a means to an end. He is The End. He is the one that makes all things possible, not because he is some moral example for us to follow. Do we really think that we that we can model Jesus' perfect life? No, instead we chose to follow Christ's example, knowing that we cannot ever achieve His life on this side of our death, because He lived a life we can't live, and by His death and resurrection every good thing He ever did was credited to our favor. 

Further, the fact that we can even follow anything Jesus did is only by His grace on our lives. Grace is the only thing that separates us, as Christians, from those that are not. Grace is the means by which we get to The End. Grace is everything that encompasses the life of the Christian. Until we, as Christians, understand that nothing we have done, will do now, or will ever do in the future as no impact on our salvation and ongoing sanctification, can we possibly preach the Gospel. Romans chapter eight makes it clear that we as sinners have anything to do with our salvation, past, present and future.

We must be careful to not preach Jesus as mere means to the end of a moral life. No, Jesus must be The End, and grace the means to Him as the end. The only way that we can understand grace is by understanding just how sinful we are. We have to identify our sin as sin, and that sin is the thing that separates us from God. It has to be sin. It can't be dysfunctional behaviors, damaged emotions, mistakes, errors or anything else that diminishes sin. Understanding that we are sinful wretches who are as capable of crucifying Jesus of Nazareth, as the Jewish religious leaders (Acts 4:8-12).

In conclusion, our problem is sin. This problem can not be addressed by therapeutic moralistic deism which makes Jesus a mere means to the end of a moral life, but only through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth who is The End!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Exchanging the Pastor for the Rancher, the Gospel for the Vision and the Savior for the Founder

I have had this post in the back of my head for almost two years. I held back on posting this because I just wasn't sure I wanted to post another entry on the issues I have with Victory Outreach. So i tucked it away for a time when I would not be labeled a "hater". Recently, however, I discovered Chris Roseborough's Fighting for the Faith podcast, and because of this program I have discovered that the issues that I have with Victory Outreach are not limited to them, but are legion in the the "seeker sensitive" churches throughout the nation. So I want to take some time and look at these so-called "vision driven" churches and their negative impact on the body of Christ in general.

On Fighting for the Faith, Roseborough, plays sermons from pastors...well, he calls them fuhrers...of these seeker sensitive churches. The reason he calls them fuhrers, is not to be shocking, but to describe what these men really are, leaders who beat and fleece the sheep, rather than loving shepherds who care and tend to the flock that God has given him. Let's look at the leadership first.

Ranchers as Opposed to Shepherds

I have heard a number of sermons from these "seeker sensitive" leaders, and it really has stood out in my mind, and caused me to remember a number of statements my old pastor who covets a "megachurch" (a church of 1,000 or more attendees). A number of these leaders seem to hold the members of their churches in disdain. I have heard them speak about how they hate attending functions with church members. They don't take time to do visitation, in-home or hospital. This is where the term "rancher" comes in. You see a rancher is busy overseeing all the business of the ranch. The individual cowboys are the ones that are charged with the everyday care of the flock. The rancher has the big picture, or vision, in mind and is just too busy to tend to the needs of the ordinary members.

Is this the way the church is to be handled according to Scripture? The answer is an unequivocal, "No!" Let's look at how the resurrected Jesus charged the soon-to-be Apostle Peter in John's gospel:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you
love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to
him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Hesaid to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He
said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he
said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything;
you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when
you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are
old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not
want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after
saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” (John 2115-19, English Standard Version)
"Feed my lambs." "Tend my sheep." "Feed my sheep." These are commands that require individual, everyday and personal attention. This is the work of a shepherd. No where in Scripture is there an office of "rancher". Why? Because the pastor, the shepherd, is to be involved in the life of sheep under his care. By extension the people are to see the life of the pastor, and be able to speak into his life as well.

Secondly, I do believer that their is a rancher in this analogy. The rancher, however is not the local church pastor, but rather Jesus Himself. The sheep are His, and pastors are the lone shepherd charged with caring for the sheep that belong to Jesus. Jesus bought His sheep with his own precious blood (Acts 20:28). He has given these sheep to men whom He gifted in order to feed and care for them (Ephesians 4:1-16). Sadly, too many pastors are deluding themselves into thinking that they are the ranchers instead of the lowly shepherd.

The Vision Replaces the Gospel

What is also interesting about these "seeker-sensitive" churches is their abandonment of the Gospel for the vision of the rancher. Let me illustrate,Steven Furtick's Elevation Church has 12 points that he calls "The Code" of the church. In it he lists the things that are important to him, and it is even more interesting that his "Code" has no scriptural citations as backing. Second example, Victory Outreach is an inner-city church ministry that is based on "The Vision" that God allegedly gave Sonny Argonzoni, the founder of this Word-Faith/Pentecostal church movement. The vision is based on a narcissistic reading of Isaiah 45:2-3, in which Mr Argonzoni believes applies to him and the people he reaches (drug addicts, prostitutes, gang members and their families). As an aside, and I hate to bring this up, but this passage does not apply to Victory Outreach or any other modern church movement. No, this passage applies to Cyrus the Great, the Persian emperor to whom God gave the Babylonian empire.

Further, I do not think that any church needs to steal promises from Old Testament people, especially a ministry that ministers to the bottom end of society. Did not Jesus model this in His ministry on earth? Who did Jesus go after? I do not see any reason why a church would need a "vision" from the Old Testament when there is abundant evidence supporting outreach to the social outcast.

Nowhere in the scriptures are Christians charged to promote subjective "visions", but rather to preach the Gospel! The Great Commission is not about promoting the subjective vision of a founding pastor, but rather to promote the saving work of Jesus Christ on a cross outside the ancient city of Jerusalem and His resurrection three days later!

I believe that there is a vision for the church. It is a vision that its founder had, and that is that all types of people from all over the world will hear the Gospel, repent of their sins, and believe in the work of Jesus Christ.

No Understanding of Law and Gospel

The other thing you see in "vision" driven churches is a lack of differentiating between law and Gospel. They will claim that they are not legalistic. Nearly all of these churches have a slavish devotion to tithing, prayer and fasting. For instance, nearly all "vision" driven churches insist that the member "honor God with their finances". This always entails tithing. Tithing is the practice of giving ten percent of your income to the church. It is also a practice that is NOT required of the Christian (for more on this please read my series on Tithing).

There is a sort of cooperation between the member and God that is taught. If you, the member, does X, Y and Z, then God is obligated to do A, B, and C. This is law. It is teaching that your works do something to move God into your favor. The Bible teaches that God is already on our side, and nothing we can do would ever move God. The leaders (pastors) of these "vision" driven churches simply do not understand that anything you do to please God is law.

I wish to take some time to make something clear. I am not talking about fruit that indicates a changed life, i.e., obedience. A Christian that is truly saved will pray, give and fast, but their motivation will be love for their Savior, not as an act of propitiation. 

No Balance Between Evangelism and Disicipleship

A number of these "vision" driven churches are overly focused on evangelism. Many of them have a slogan such as the one at Elevation Church. It says, "We need your chair." In other words, they need your chair because they are too focused on evangelizing and getting people into the church, rather than making disciples. The pastor of the "vision" driven church is not interested in taking the members of his "ranch" down deep. No, instead he focuses on a pragmatic gospel. A gospel in which the members or the pastor is read into every scripture, rather than expositing the true gospel of Jesus, His cross, and His resurrection!

I can't tell you how many times I heard my old pastor preach about the miracles he supposedly performed 30 years ago. I can't tell you how many times he taught that "damaged emotions" were the causes of sin in the life of the believer. That if we only prayed, fasted and read the bible enough that those activities heal the damaged emotions, and by logical extension attain a sinless life (this was never explicitly taught, but the implication is there).

Sadly, all this does is heap law on the hearer. Grace is nowhere to be found in those messages. This is a problem indicative of the "vision" driven churches that have popped up all over the country. These pastors are not preaching the biblical gospel, but rather "therapeutic moralistic deism". In other words, a sermon consists of a scripture (ripped from its context) and three points to apply to your life to make your life better. Even worse, there is a deism that is taught in these churches. God is far off, until you need him to perform a miracle in your life. In fact, he is so far off, that he won't responded to the prayers Jesus taught in the gospels, but instead we need to pray "audacious" prayers, "sun stand still" prayers, or "circle maker" prayers.

Many of these churches have an unbalanced view of finances. In my old church, the offering was a 30 minute ordeal that entailed a 20 to 25 minute guilt trip from scripture (sometimes in context, but most times ripped out of context) with five to 10 minutes for receiving the offering. There is an overemphasis on tithing, but I have already addressed this above. The ultimate problem, especially in my old church is that while the members were focused on wealth and health, the members are in spiritual poverty and sickness.

Exchanging the Savior for the Founder

Lastly, there is an adulation of the founding pastor that borders on idolatry. Let me give you an example, in my old church you would here this prior to a person giving their testimony, "I want to thank God and Pastor S. (the founder of the movement) for my salvation." Really? The founding pastor was responsible for your salvation? Are we to thank God for the pastor, because if not for him God was somehow helpless to reach the inner-cities of the nation and world. Thanking a pastor for your salvation is like thanking the flotation device instead of the person who threw it to you, as you were drowning!

Because of the overemphasis on the founder, the preaching is skewed towards his personal bias. The members never get a well-rounded diet of spiritual food, but are instead continually forced to eat the pastor's favorite topics, which is usually the "vision" God gave him.

Another reason that this sort of "vision" driven pastor is dangerous is that by claiming that he has a "vision" from God, he is now above correction. Who, in their right mind, is going to correct a man who got a "vision" from God? I believe that one of the reasons for a "vision" driven church is to quash legitimate criticism of the founder or pastor. This vision can be used as a hedge to keep the founder/pastor free from correction that is not based on personality but on scripture. All and all, "visionary" leadership can be a dangerous thing.

The Remedy for "Vision" is the Mission

Jesus, prior to ascension to heaven did not give a "vision", rather he gave a mission. That mission is to go all over the earth and make disciples and to teach these people to obey all the things Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20). We are not to focus on one particular type of person, but we are commanded to go to all kinds of people. This was something that the early church in Jerusalem forgot right away. So God had to move them on in their understanding that the gospel was not just for the Jew, but for the Samaritan, and for the Gentiles (good news for us)! In each case, it appears that God had to move circumstances so that this early church would move along to these people groups. Further, the figurative capital of Christianity also changed locations in the early days. Early on, the capital of Christianity was Jerusalem. This was in keeping with Christianity's early influence. However, in Acts 9 we see the center of Christianity moving away from Jerusalem and landing in Damascus.

We are to be on mission, and not on vision. A vision is subjective, the mission is objective and our focus. A vision is a gateway to law and legalism. The mission is the way we rehearse the gospel to ourselves as we preach to those who are not saved. We go not vision cast into our lives, but rather we need to be reminded of what the gospel is all about, namely the forgiveness of sin! We do not need old tired stories of what the pastor did 30 years ago, but to rehearse the works of Jesus and how they were used to preach the gospel in the lives of the people he healed.

If you are a part of a "vision" driven church that has as one of its values, "We need your chair." Then be all means oblige that church, and leave. Find a church that is mission-centered. I church that is focused not only on making converts, but also making disciples. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Hundredfold Promise: Mark 10:30

In my time at a Pentecostal church there was an inordinate emphasis on money. Usually it was emphasizing transferring money from the people's wallets to the pastor's. In the process of this transference, many Scriptures were ripped out of context in a weak attempt to pry as much money from the people. Most of these Scriptures were called "promise" Scriptures to those who both paid tithes and gave additional free-will offerings.

One of these "promise" scriptures used at nearly every offering was Mark 10:30 (ESV):
...who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands....
Now I want you to notice the two uses of ellipsis, the three periods (at the front of the quote), and four periods (at the end of the quote). The ellipsis is a literary device used in quoting to show that the author has not made a full quotation, but rather has taken a phrase or sentence from the full quotation. Now there is nothing wrong with the use of ellipsis per se, unless the author is taking the partial quote out of context from the full quotation to make a point that the quoted author never intended. This sort of misquotation is exactly what we have with the use of this verse as a proof text for prosperity teaching.

This verse, when examined in its context has nothing whatsoever to do with financial prosperity! Let's look at the entire context of Mark chapter 10 (ESV) from which this verse is taken:
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and(W) knelt before him and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 18And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'" 20And he said to him, "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth." 21And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have(AD) treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
 23And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" 24And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." 26And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, "Then who can be saved?" 27Jesus looked at them and said, "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God." 28Peter began to say to him, "See, we have left everything and followed you." 29Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
 As we can see from the full context that surrounds the verse in question, the verse is not talking about financial prosperity, but rather what it is required from a disciple of Jesus. Jesus requires from those that want to follow Him is the abandonment of comfort and security for the sake of following Jesus and believing in the Gospel. Further, the hundredfold promise is in no way a reference to financial prosperity, rather it is referring to a whole new community that would be created with the birth of the church which a new believer would then belong to. The verse refers to a multiplication of relationships-many of which will become stronger than blood relationships (cf. Mark 3:31-35; Acts 2:41-47; 1 Timothy 5:1-2).

Not only is a new family promised, but also "persecutions". This is not an idea that Prosperity teaches want to speak about. They never seem to talk about this aspect of Christianity. Instead the Prosperity teachers teach that only good things will happen to the new believer. Sadly, when bad things begin to happen to the new believer, the new believer does not know how to process these bad things. Instead of knowing that bad things are normative, and may even be part of their character growth, they operate out of a religious fear of God. This fear is the old religious idea that the human needs to please God through his/her life. This thought then brings on an unnecessary guilt that the new believer is not pleasing God, because if she had been these bad things would not be falling on her. Sometimes the guilt gets so great that they believe that God is not happy with them. Some reach levels of despair so deep that they attempt or commit suicide.

The Bible does teach us about finances. It teaches us a balanced view in which we do not believe that wealth is a sin (e.g., Abraham, Job or Solomon). The Bible, however, does condemn the love of money (Luke 16:13; 1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5). Love of money is an unhealthy fixation with money. The love of money indicates that the person who has it is actually living with a temporal perspective rather then an eternal perspective.

Scripture also takes a dim view of those who desire for wealth (1 Timothy 6:9). Paul also noted that the love of money would be a sign of the end times (2 Timothy 3:1-9).

Jesus also warned that a man life is not about what he has (Luke 12:15). Jesus also taught his followers to regard money as a tool for the building of His kingdom. In other words, that priority of the believer is not of this earth, but are instead focused on a heavenly perspective (Matthew 6:19-20; cf. John 6:27).

According to Jesus, the priority of the believer is living for God (Matthew 6:33). When this is done, then God will provide His followers with what they need, not what they want. Further, these gifted necessities, are not to be viewed as ours, but instead are to be offered back to God with an open hand and with the attitude that whatever God wants back, it is His, and given back to Him with a joyful disposition. Our attitude towards finances and material things does not end there. Paul tells us that a Christian should be content in both good times and bad times (Philippians 4:12-13).

In conclusion, Christians must be discerning when it comes to anything that is taught by a pastor or teacher. As a teacher myself, I am not threatened by students that verify what I am teaching with the word of God. No one, not even the Apostle Paul, is above that (Acts 17:11). Therefore, I plead with my readers to search the Scriptures and make sure that the things you are being taught is so.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Does the Gospel Guarantee Physical Healing?

I attended a Pentecostal church for a number of years. One of the things that was done during the regular services was a prayer for those with needs physical, financial etc. A special emphasis was placed on those with sicknesses and physical infirmities. This is one of the unique distinctions of Pentecostalism, and a distinction that I agree with because this is something that Scripture mandates in James 5:14. I still believe that God can heal today.

My issues are not with healing but with the nonsense that is being preached by Pentecostal preachers and evangelists to justify healing. Further the way healing is preached makes it appear that God is somehow obligated to heal because I have said the appropriate "magic words" or "magic" Bible verses. Take, for example the following video from Victory Outreach.

I do not know if this was a real miracle or not. No one has placed a before and after x-ray of this young girl's back on the internet, that I am aware of. Because "leg lengthening" has been exposed as a fraud I have a hard time believing that this was an actual miracle. Further the lack of any documentation raises my suspicions even more. I would like to see the documentation, and since this is being labeled a true healing that documentation should be readily available.

However, I am not here to question the legitimacy of the healing, but rather the misuse of Scripture during this alleged healing. In the video, the healer invokes three Scriptures. One of them was Isaiah 53:4-5 which reads as follows in the English Standard Version:
4  Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
 smitten by God, and afflicted.
5  But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
 and with his stripes we are healed.
 Pentecostals and Word-faith healers use this Scripture to show that physical healing is guaranteed in the Gospel. Further, there are those in the Word-faith movement who actually believe that a true believer in Jesus will never be sick. Further, they teach that it is up to the believer to appropriate this guaranteed healing by positive confession of the healing claims. Word-faith teachers also claim that any doubt is a sin and that can prevent the healing of a sickness in a believer. This is a great card to play especially when someone is not healed at one of their "deliverance" services.

There is a guaranteed healing in these verses. But it is not physical healing. In fact, I am not aware of a single verse in the bible that guarantees physical healing of the believer. The healing that is guaranteed in these verses is the spiritual healing that the cross accomplished. Why do I say that? Very simply the verses themselves. Verse five uses the words "transgressions" and "iniquities". What do they mean? The Hebrew word translated into English as "transgressions" literally means a revolt. Sin is a revolt against God. A revolt against His revelation as seen in Genesis chapter 3. The Hebrew word translated in English as "iniquities" literally means perversity or moral evil. These terms set the context of this verse not in the realm of the physical but in the spiritual. The healing spoken of here by Isaiah of the future Messiah is spiritual and focused on the redemption of humanity from the misery of sin.

There are a number of other verses which show that healing is something guaranteed to the Christian.

  • Paul evidently could not heal Timothy's stomach problem, and instructed him to take advantage of medicinal remedies (1 Timothy 5:23).
  • Paul was unable to heal Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20) or Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-27).
  • Paul's own bodily illness was never healed (Galatians 4:13-15).
  • There are many scholars that believe the issue that Paul referred to as his "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) was a chronic illness.
  • God allowed Job to go through a time of sickness (Job 1 & 2).
In none of these cases was sickness said to be caused by sin or doubt in the peoples' lives. There is one exception to this statement, and that is the case of Job. In his case his sickness was said to have been the result of sin by the three false friends (Job 4:7). Further, Paul or any other apostle act as if they thought their healing was guaranteed in the atoning death of Jesus. Even more devestating to the Word-faith teachers is the fact that on two occasions Jesus said that sickness could be for the glory of God (John 9:3 & 11:4)!

Scripture does speak about the health of believers. It tells us that our bodies are weak and perishable (1 Corinthians 15:42-44), decaying (2 Corinthians 4:16), and subject to death and disease until we receive our resurrection bodies that will be immune from these issues (1 Corinthians 15:51-55).

One last point I want to make about the use of Isaiah 53 is that the clearest Old Testament prophecy about the purpose of the Messiah's life has been hijacked by unscrupulous Word-faith teachers and greedy pastors that are interested in cheeks in the church seats and checks in the offering plates. This verse is not about us, but about Him! His work made salvation possible. His work made it possible for our sin to be forgiven. He need salvation more than we need healing. Sin is the real problem. I would gladly suffer 70 or 80 years of sickness than an eternity of being punished for my sin!

Again, I do believe that healing is an active aspect of the work of God today. I do not believe, however, that the manner in which healing is preached by Word-faith teachers and most Pentecostal preachers is in line with Scripture, and it is Scripture that defines what we believe and how we behave. I hope and pray that those that are leaning towards the view of healing that is utterly unscriptural will move away from it and back towards the Bible. I also pray that those who preach this abomination repent of their false teaching and return to biblical teaching.