I’m sure you’ve had contact with the “Word of Faith” movement. They’re the well-meaning folk who say things like, “You just have to have enough faith”, or “If you speak life into it, it will come true”.
According to Wikipedia,
“The Word of Faith (WoF) movement has many distinctive teachings including physical, emotional, financial, relational, and spiritual healing or prosperity for any who has the right, belief-filled confession. The movement emphasizes choosing to speak the promises and provisions that the speaker wants, that agree with the Bible, as an act of faith and agreement with God’s plans and purposes. They believe this is what Jesus meant in Mark 11:22–23, when he said believers shall have whatsoever they say and pray with faith.”
The WoF people are the “Name it and Claim it” – by faith – people. They believe that the Bible promises health, wealth and prosperity to all Christians – if they have enough faith.
The small problem with that the WoF movement is that God has not promised to give Christians health, wealth and prosperity. Jesus was homeless and died young. The Apostle Paul was constantly in prison and bad things happened to him. The Apostle John was exiled. Stephen was martyred. Epaphroditus nearly died of illness. Timothy had constant stomach ailments. Health, wealth and prosperity were not on the radar of the early Christians.
Faith is indeed believing God’s promises. As such, Abraham is held up as a classic example:
“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:20-21)
Hebrews 11:1 gives us the same definition of faith:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
How do we know (or are assured) that we have hope for the future, for things not seen?
Because we believe God’s promises in the Bible.
We put our confidence in God’s word and are fully assured God will do as he has said.
Hebrews 11:3 is a good example of faith:
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
How do we know God created the universe? No one was there, except God. God has told us in his word that he created and therefore we have confidence that it is true. Faith is taking God at his word.
Today, people have faith in all kinds of things:
- Their own inherent goodness, abilities or street savvy
- The good things they do
- Their bank balance
- Their religious privilege
- The power of their own faith
- Or, ideally, they have realized that their very best deeds are not good enough for God, they are dead in their sins, they are enemies of God, and have put their faith in Jesus to save them.
Jesus said in Luke 17:5-6,
If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
In other words, it’s not the size of your faith that counts, it’s the object of your faith that counts.
Our faith is in the God of the Bible and the promises he has made.
God has promised: whoever believes in Jesus will be saved; He will provide for the needs of his children; one day all His people will be with him in the renewed universe; and that He works all things for the good of those who love him – even the tough things. (Cf. John 3:36, Matthew 6:33, Revelation 7:9-10, Romans 8:28 etc.)
God has nowhere promised health, wealth and prosperity. He may graciously give those things, but he may not. God may give you ill-health and poverty, if that is for your good and His glory.
The “Word of Faith” movement should be renamed as “My own wishful thinking” movement or the “My faith in my faith” movement.
For those who may caught up in this movement, I would suggest you ask God to show you His truth and then commit yourself to some serious study of the Bible.