I love watching America’s Got Talent.
We are spoilt for choice between ventriloquists, singers, choirs, walking dogs, magicians, dancers, acrobats, and whoever else one could think of.
The contestants obviously seek to outperform each other by being more entertaining, more appealing, and getting more Facebook likes.
A similar scenario was happening in the church in Corinth in the Apostle Paul’s day.Continue reading Pastors, we are not in a talent show
“You are a King’s Kid as a Christian, you are royalty! You shouldn’t settle for second best!”
“God favour should overflow into your life as you walk in God’s anointing and enjoy health and financial prosperity!”
“God hates poverty and illness, you should claim your victory!”
“If you’re not walking in full victory of sin, illness and financial difficulty, you either lack faith or have unconfessed sin. Jesus came to give us abundant life!”
This is the Prosperity Gospel.
The Prosperity Gospel (PG) is called so because it teaches that God desires all his people to be prosperous. Physically prosperous. Healthy and wealthy.
To put it simply, the PG is the belief that God grants health and wealth to those with the right kind of faith.
The PG movement (according to Kate Bowler1, an assistant professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke University) has its roots in the late 1800’s in American tradition of New Thought. That is, that positive thoughts yield positive circumstances; and negative thoughts, negative circumstances.
The American New Thought movement took a Christian slant with a Pastor named EW Kenyon, who ministered in the US in the early 1900’s.
There are books written about spiritual breakthroughs:
“Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough”
“Praying the Lord’s Prayer for Spiritual Breakthrough”
“Prayer Walking for Spiritual Breakthroughs”
“How to be patient while waiting for a Spiritual Breakthrough”
You can even buy anointed water for a spiritual breakthrough.
“Spiritual breakthrough” is a term that seems to have more in common with animism and African Traditional Religion, than Christianity. ATR and animism teach that there are evil forces that constantly bind and oppose us and we need to break through these oppressive forces to access God’s favour.
I was visited recently by a lovely, Christian person who claimed to have received a message from God for me and our church.
The message was this,
“Your church will enter a time of unprecedented miracles, signs, wonders, blessings and conversions. However, you shouldn’t limit God. You need to open yourself to the work of the Spirit”
Apparently, the gospel about Jesus’ death and resurrection is good and essential, but it is not enough. Seemingly, we need demonstrations of God’s power (like healing, prophecy, words of knowledge and miracles) to show people that God is real and the gospel is true.
I tried to persuade the person that, according to the New Testament, the gospel is enough for Christian conversion, Christian growth and Christian life; but I did not convince the person – after all, God had given them a vision.
It’s interesting that throughout the letter of 1 John, the Apostle John warns his readers not to be deceived by those who would undermine the sufficiency and power of the apostolic gospel.
In our world and country, we are inundated with people who claim to speak on behalf of God – Angus Buchan being one of them – claiming all kinds of visions, messages, warnings and prophecies.
What are we to do? Fortunately, this is not a new phenomenon.
Modern spirituality claims that it is possible to know God through a variety of ways: whether it be a spiritual encounter, private conviction or an angelic spirit-guide.
God is like buying groceries – it doesn’t really matter which supermarket you shop at, as long as you get bare essentials. Some people might prefer Spar, or Woolworth’s, or Pick n Pay – different strokes for different folks.
This approach to spirituality is by no means new. It’s as misguided today as when the Apostle John first wrote his letter of 1 John.
The trouble was that many of these false teachers or antichrists were promoting their opinions under the guise of Christianity. The false teachers spoke about Jesus, the Spirit and God; but what they were saying was not true. They sounded Christian, but they were antichrist.
Many churches today have embraced the new sexual revolution in the name of love.
“As long as people love one another and are true to themselves”, is the new battle-cry.
These LGBT-affirming churches say that they are very loving and caring to affirm same-sex relationships, same-sex marriage and the notions of transgender and gender fluidity.
Churches and church leaders not affirming LGBT relationships are lampooned as bigots, homophobic and hatemongers.
In stark contrast, the letter of 1 John in the New Testament (the letter of love!), says that the LGBT-affirming churches and leaders are not acting in love, but rather in hate, because they are not telling those in their care the truth about sin.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim is a charismatic Indian guru known as one of the so-called Indian godmen.
These godmen, who follow a strain of Hinduism, have a high-profile presence, have thousands of devotees, and claim to possess paranormal powers. They claim to have attained a higher level of spirituality.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim was convicted of rape a few weeks ago – which led to large-scale riots by his followers resulting in 28 people dead and 250 injured. It turns out that he and his close followers were involved in the sexual exploitation of many, many girls.
He is a self-proclaimed teacher, claiming a higher spirituality, deceiving and exploiting others.
Unfortunately, we have a similar phenomenon in the Christian world as well: self-proclaimed teachers, claiming a higher spirituality, yet deceiving and exploiting others.
In the first Century, there were a lot of fake forms of Christianity doing their rounds.
The Apostle John wrote 1 John to say that those beliefs are false, but what his readers had was true, authentic Christianity.
We too are inundated with fake Christianity.
I’m not referring to the easily-identifiable wrong ideologies of Islam, Buddhism or New Age spirituality, but false teaching spreading in the name of Christianity.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are on a massive marketing campaign in our area. Unfortunately, the gospel that they are marketing is a false gospel that cannot save. It is a gospel that undermines the Person of Jesus and the Person of the Holy Spirit.
The JW’s say that Jesus is not God, but a created being. Thus, they deny the Lordship of Christ.
Not only that, they also deny the deity of the Holy Spirit. They teach that the Holy Spirit is simply a force or influence. Therefore, they deny the Trinity that says there is one God made up of three Persons. Christian people, however, hold to the doctrine of the Trinity, because it is taught in the Bible.