What is the Word of Faith
movement, and is it from God?
If you listen to the critics,
you will think that this movement is the worse thing that could
happen to Christianity. But this article is going to show how
this movement is not only of God, but absolutely necessary in
God's end-time plan.
When you look at all the
Christian denominations in the world, you begin to wonder which
is the right one. Well, the truth is, most of them have a lot of
good, yet I believe God is wanting to do something better than
simply build a bunch of denominations.
In order to understand this
controversial movement, we have to go back to the Bible and see
God's plan for the Church.
Jesus spoke to Peter and said,
"And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will
build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome
it" (Matthew 16:18). If you listen to a few negative folks,
you'll get the impression that the Church is going to be a
defeated, beaten-down, rotten, sin-filled group of hypocritical
people. But Jesus said that the gates of Hades will not overcome
it. Jesus is coming back for a glorious, victorious Church.
How is the Lord going to
accomplish this task of making the Church an overcomer? By using
people. Yes, by using people just like you and me.
Notice carefully that the Lord
is speaking to Simon. He changes his name to Peter, which means a
little rock, and declares that He is going to build his church on
the rock. Many wonder if Jesus was building His church on Peter.
Yes and no.
Ephesians chapter 2 verse 20
says that the Church is built on the foundation of the apostles
and prophets. Peter is definitely one of the people who are part
of the foundation; however, all the apostles including many
prophets are considered the foundation of the Church as well.
Do you remember what the New
Jerusalem looks like? John saw the Holy City with twelve
foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles.
So Peter was a rock that the Lord was going to build His Church;
yet, Peter declares in his writings, "As you come to him
[Jesus], the living Stone...you also, like living stones, are
being built into a spiritual house ..." (1 Peter 2:4,5).
Peter testifies that Jesus is
the Stone, the Corner Stone to be exact, and that we are living
stones which the Lord is putting in place, such as a mason places
brick upon brick, until the building is finished. The Lord has
been in a building project for the last nineteen hundred years.
The Lord is not interested in doing a quick work, but a quality
Now understand this: Each part
of the building is essential for the completion of the whole.
There can be no missing parts. Not only is this so, but every
part adds something that is missing. This is where the Word of
Faith movement comes in.
The Word of Faith movement adds
to the Church what has been missing for the last several
centuries, primarily the teaching that the believer can receive
answers to every prayer that is based on God's Word, as long as
he has enough faith and that there is nothing in his life that
could be hindering his prayer. This is a revolutionary thought to
most of Christendom.
Let me explain how the Word of
Faith movement got here.
The early church began with a
burst of power and glory. They were invincible. Every believer
acted as priests of the Lord and preached fervently the truth.
They did such a wonderful job that their critics accused them of
turning the world upside down.
The early church fathers
continued living in the same spirit of the apostles after the
apostles died. But little by little, through the centuries,
Christians abandoned the faith and dynamic lifestyle of their
predecessors. They entangled themselves in silly controversies,
which split the unity of the Christians. One group built their
headquarters in Constantinople; they became the eastern church.
And the other group had their headquarters in Rome and called
themselves Roman Catholics. These churches never did reunite.
Since most of us have our roots
in the West, we have been influenced by the western branch of
Christianity called the Roman Catholic Church. I want to focus on
this part of the Church.
During the dark ages, the
Catholic Church had a monopoly over most of the Christendom, and
she used her power in terrible ways. This church deserted the
ways of Christ and His teachings. They put fear in the hearts of
the peasants by making them seek the church for forgiveness. They
promised an easy salvation to those who would purchase
indulgences. They exalted Mary nearly to the same position as
Christ. They offered prayers to her as well as to many of the
saints. In summary, they rejected most of the clear teachings of
This branch of Christianity
needed reformation. And God was going to bring it to her. For
almost the last five hundred years, God has brought to western
Christianity six major restorational movements: 1) the reform, 2)
the evangelical, 3) the holiness, 4) the pentecostal, 5) the
charismatic, 6) and the word of faith. Each movement has been
used of God to restore to the Church truths and practices that
were lost by the Roman Church.
In 1517, a German monk named
Martin Luther, who discovered from the Bible that salvation was
not earned, but that it was a free gift to all those who believed
resounded a loud and clear message, "The Just shall live by
faith." This doctrine that the just shall live by faith is
the most basic doctrine of the Bible. We could not preach
anything else without this truth. True Christians everywhere
believe that salvation is a free gift to those who truly believe.
This monk brought in the first
restorational truth to the Church. This movement took on his
name. His followers were called "Lutherans." His
following, though, was mainly in Germany. Others followed his
same doctrine and beliefs in other countries, and they were
called different names. In Scotland, the reformers were called
Presbyterians; in England they were called Anglicans (or
Episcopalians). Basically these three denominations believe the
Although the reformed movement
embraced the all important way of salvation, there were still
some old Catholic ways and doctrines that they continued to cling
to. They still believed that the Church should use the State to
persecute dissenters and they also practiced infant baptism.
These practices and beliefs were clearly not biblical.
So within these denominations,
in about the 1600's, men arose to confront the reformed movement
just as the reformers confronted the Catholic church. They began
by first insisting that all believers who were baptized as
infants be rebaptized. They did this because many Lutherans,
Presbyterians and Anglicans had never experienced the new birth;
they were erroneously told that they were Christians because they
were baptized as babies. Many experienced true salvation through
the efforts of the evangelicals. It was the evangelicals
rebaptizing efforts that caused the critics to call them
The baptists also demanded
separation between state and church. They believed that everyone
should be able to worship God according to their own consciences,
without the intrusion of the government. They won, although at a
huge cost. Many lost their lives for standing up against the
reformed churches, just as many reformers lost their lives by
standing up against the Catholic Church.
The baptists were correct in
their beliefs concerning adult baptism and freedom of worship.
Today, almost all Christians believe these things. God restored
adult baptism and freedom of worship for the Christians.
In time, even the baptists
began to experience a need for reformation. The shortcoming of
the baptists was a lack of holiness. The baptists had so
emphasized that salvation was by grace alone, not by works, that
many baptists refused to work out their salvation with fear and
trembling. They reasoned, as many do today, "Since salvation
is by grace, through faith alone, there is no real need to do
good works." Many baptists were living ungodly lives because
of the Calvinistic teachings about election and the perseverance
of the saints. These teachings, in essence, gave many people a
license to practice immorality, or at least, gave them freedom to
live undisciplined lives. Even today, baptists have a terrible
reputation of hypocrisy--that they teach one thing, but live
As you can see, there needed to
be another restoration, and this one would emphasize holiness.
John Wesley would be the main leader in this next restorational
move. His movement was later called, methodism, termed after his
disciplined, methodological approach to holy living.
Today, we need Wesley's message
like never before. There is a great need for holiness in American
churches. John Wesley and others taught the past restorational
truths, but they also emphasized the need to live discipline
christian lives. They rejected much of the Calvinistic ideas of
the past. They laid stress upon personal works, without
neglecting salvation by grace. Like the other restorational
leaders of the past, they too were persecuted, mocked, and
criticized. But today, many Christians acknowledge a real need to
discipline their lives. Many Christians no longer take the grace
of God in vain. They work out their salvation with fear and
Many in the holiness camp saw
that there was still things lacking in their lives--primarily
power. They lived separated from the world, but they lack
So in 1901 some Bible students
in Topeka, Kansas began to study the subject of the Holy Spirit.
They quickly discovered that they lacked the Bible experience of
being filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to seek God for
this experience, and God graciously met their faith. He filled
them with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other
One man who got filled, left
the school and began preaching this new-found experience in Los
Angeles, California in a small cottage on 312 Azusa Street. He
was the first black man to lead a restorational movement. His
name, William Seymour.
Today, millions of people claim
to adhere to the pentecostal experience of being filled with the
Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This truth is
firmly established in the Bible.
Since the pentecostal movement
came out of the holiness movement, there were some errors that
permeated the pentecostal movement. The main error had to do with
"who could receive the Holy Spirit?". Most pentecostal
leaders believed that a candidate for the Holy Spirit had to
first sanctify himself and live holy for a period of time before
he could receive the Holy Spirit. This rule was of course
The Bible plainly shares
accounts of people receiving the Holy Spirit when they were first
saved. They did not have to tarry and sanctify themselves for the
Spirit. They could receive this gift immediately upon praying for
this experience. Hence, the charismatic movement took off.
The charismatic movement was
led by many people, the most popular one being Chuck Smith, who
founded the Calvary Chapel's. He began baptizing hippies, and
praying for God to fill them with the Holy Spirit. And sure
enough, God did.
God was pouring out his Spirit
on all people, including long-hair, pot-smoking, bare-footed
hippies. This made the old-time pentecostals upset. They couldn't
believe that these people were receiving the Holy Spirit without
first cutting their hair, throwing away their dope, and dressing
modestly. But God was filling them with the Spirit despite their
objections. The pentecostals criticized Church Smith and many of
the charismatics, including the Catholic charismatics. But time
showed that the charismatic movement was here to stay.
This brings us to the current
move of God: the word of faith. This movement is an extension of
the charismatic movement. It is bringing to Spirit-filled
Christians everywhere the message of uncompromising faith--that
believers can receive answers to their prayers, including
healing, so long as they exercise sufficient faith.
The charismatic movement
experienced dramatic healings, but most people were not taught
that they could be healed on their own faith, and that they
didn't need to be healed at a great miracle service like Kathryn
Kuhlman's. The word of faith ministers have shown the power of
faith, and that God will bless the believers in every way,
including materially, if they will live according to the Word.
This is revolutionary to many Christians.
Because it is the current move
of God, we should expect it to be criticize more than any other
movement. And this is the case.
I am not surprised at all when
we are criticized. We should expect it. After all, every past
restorational movement was criticized by the religious
establishment: the Catholics persecuted the Lutherans, the
Lutherans judged the baptists, the baptists ridiculed the
holiness people, the holiness community criticized the
charismatics and today, many charismatics unfairly accuse the
word of faith ministers of heresy.
The Heresy Hunters are still
here today. When will they learn from the past and quit
criticizing what God has begun?
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