The following is a transcript of a video I made for YouTube.
Opening: Welcome to another episode of “Almost Ordained.” I am your host, David, the guy who graduated seminary but never got ordained.
In my last episode called “Depression and the Word of Faith,” I talked about what it was like to be involved in the Word of Faith movement while also living with undiagnosed clinical depression. I got emotional at the end. While I might want to edit that out, I’ve told you before, I have no budget. Therefore, there is no editing.
I talked about how at times it seemed my relationship with Jesus was closer than I ever imagined it could be. But that wasn’t always a blessing. At times it felt more like an abusive relationship where I could never do enough or believe strongly enough to where God was not disappointed or angry with me. And I put up with that, because on some level I thought I deserved it. My prayers weren’t getting answered, and in that belief system, that means you lack faith. You don’t believe the Bible. You don’t believe God’s word that promises healing to you. You believe the lies of the devil, that you are sick. You believe your symptoms over God’s promises. And what could be worse for a Christian than to believe the Devil more than you believe God?
1:47 Healing for the trauma
It took years to see through the lies of that belief system, and years more to understand that just because they are quoting scripture doesn’t mean they are speaking the Word of God. And years more to get over the PTSD that resulted from it. And my response in that last video reminded me that that whole experience still haunts me.
I’ve said before, and I think I’ll say it 1,000 times if the Lord lets me live that long. The Bible is only the Word of God when it is rightly read, rightly interpreted, and rightly applied. And rightly doing all that begins with three things: Context, context and context. When they read all these so-called promises to you and me as individual believers into the Bible, they are taking it out of context.
When you read the Bible in context, there’s only two promises we can claim as individual believers: Forgiveness for our sins, and nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. That’s it. No promises of health, wealth, and success in all our endeavors. Most promises in the Bible are to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, and the church in the New Testament. They are not to you and me and individual believers.
3:41 Are you saying God wants me to be poor, sick, and a failure?
No, I don’t know what God’s will for you is in terms of health, wealth, or success. I’m telling you God never promised any of that to you in the Bible.
But I want to address the issue of faith healing. When you pray for God to heal you of some sickness — and I never said there is anything wrong with asking God to heal you. You can always ask. If you want to ask God to heal you, just ask. Don’t go to a faith healer. You won’t get any better results from them. But remember, it is up to God how God will answer your prayers.
4:40 A shocking admission from a WoF preacher
But what does it do to people when they are taught God wants to heal them but can’t until they have “enough faith” to make it happen? I watched a video of one prominent Word of Faith preacher in a Q & A session with a pretty good crowd of people. I almost liked him after watching this. But then I saw him do some leg-lengthening (an old charlatan’s trick) and I realized he’s really like the rest of that ilk. But in this one video, there was a moment I thought, if he can be more like this guy all the time, there may be hope for him.
One woman said she has had people praying over and over again for her, and she’s still in pain. She said, “I’m okay with God’s timing. I still believe I am healed in the heavenly realm. I’m just waiting for it to manifest.”
But when people ask if she is well yet, she is “honest” and says no, she still hurts. What happens? Instead of receiving support and comfort from her pastor or other church members, she said, “they are upset with me.”
They tell her she needs to stop confessing sickness and confess only healing, whether she feels pain or not. You must believe the Bible above your feelings. Believe your healing into existence. Peer pressure from her church says, “We prayed in faith for you, but if you’re not getting healed, your faith is not strong enough.”
This is why people confess healing even though they still hurt, or they still feel sick. Now to this preacher’s credit, he did not repeat those Word of Faith lines to her. He actually made a shocking admission. All eyes are on the preacher in that moment when he’s praying for you, he said. When they don’t see results, it’s easier to blame you.
It’s easier to blame you? I can’t believe he admitted that. What does that tell you about that whole “you don’t have enough faith” argument?
7:34 Who did Jesus say lacked faith?
Some of you might be thinking of cases where Jesus said things like, “Where is your faith?” Or some places he didn’t heal anyone because of their unbelief? Yes, there are instances like that. But, as in all things Biblical, context is everything. If you read those passages, ask yourself, who is he scolding for lacking faith? In the vast majority of cases, it is either the twelve Apostles, those of his inner circle who followed him everywhere, who witnessed every miracle he did, or the people who hated him. If they hated Jesus, they lacked faith. That’s not you, is it? I didn’t think so.
As for the twelve Apostles, is it possible he held them to a higher standard of faith than the crowds who listened to him and followed him? The twelve Apostles followed him everywhere, witnessed every miracle and healing, heard every word he taught, even what he did not share with the crowds. He had even sent them out to spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and they had already performed miraculous healings and cast out demons in his name. They were going to be responsible for leading his movement after he was gone. So if he was stricter with them than he was with the crowds, there was good reason for it.
9:30 The crowds were the majority
How did he respond to the crowds following him? Did he ever deny healing for them because they didn’t have “enough faith”? That preacher I talked about rightly pointed out Jesus did not scold those people for lack of faith, with one possible exception.
For the vast majority of people who came to him, he did not tell them they could only be healed if they had “enough faith.” He did not tell them they needed to believe their healing into existence. He never talked about claiming their healthy body parts from heaven. Somewhere in heaven, I have a healthy GI tract, the whole thing. And I’m just waiting for that healthy GI tract from heaven to manifest in my body, and then I won’t ever have that horrible abdominal pain anymore.
No, he never talked about that. He never explained why their sickness or symptoms returned after they were healed. He didn’t have to. You know why? When Jesus healed people, they were healed. Period. Exclamation point. No one EVER had to ask him, “Why did I lose my healing? Why won’t my healing manifest?”
11:25 This is why you do not lack faith
That brings me back to what that preacher said. It’s easier to blame you. It’s easier to blame you than to admit they don’t have any gift of healing or anointing to heal. If they did, they would get the same results as Jesus.
And that leads me to my most important point. Why didn’t Jesus demand more faith from people who asked him for healing? Because coming to him and asking for healing was itself an act of faith. The people who hated Jesus would never do that. They didn’t want Jesus to heal them. Or anyone, for that matter. They would rather kill him than be healed by his mercy. That’s what it means to lack faith. So above all, remember this. If you love Jesus, and if you seek to follow him, you do not lack faith. That’s so important, I’m going to say it again. If you love Jesus, and you seek to follow him, you do not lack faith.
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Finally, thanks for watching Almost Ordained. I hope you’ll come back for another episode. Until then, remember these words from Matthew 7:12. “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (NRSV)
Grace and peace to you.