Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/
The Prosperity Doctrine


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The Prosperity Doctrine
Part III... Supposed Proof Texts

Carol Brooks

    Index to All Sections

    Section I: Introduction and Origins
    Section II: The Whole Counsel of God
    You Are Here 001orange Section III: Supposed Proof Texts.  Rhema Vs. Logos
    Section IV: Joel Osteen.. The Blind Leading The Blind
    Section V: General Principles, The Tele-Evangelists
    Section VI: In The Service of God OR Mammon, Covetousness and Greed, The Crown Without The Cross? What Happened to Prayer?, The Sovereignty of God
    Section VII: Conclusion



    Proof Texts
    John 10:10 .. an abundant life?
    John 10:10, Matthew 5:5 and Real Estate.. the meek shall inherit the real estate?
    John 14:14 (and 15:16).. ask anything in my name
    Mark 9:22-23.. all things are possible
    Matthew 18:19-20 .. if two of you shall agree
    Mark 11:23-24 .. casting mountains into the sea
    John 15:7.. ask whatsoever ye will
    3 John 1:2 .. in all things thou mayest prosper
    Philippians 4:13 .. I can do all things in him
    Malachi 3:10 .. receiving tenfold back from the Lord?

    Vs. Logos
    Neither Rhema Nor Logos are what they are made out to be and are often used interchangeably


    Supposed Proof Texts
    But what are we to do with the texts quoted over and over again by the Word of Faith teachers that seem to prove their point.

    Unfortunately these verses have been taken as keys to the proverbial magic lamp.. rub the lamp like so (positive confessions) and the magic genie (God) will appear and grant your every wish. However there are two factors to be considered here.

      1) when we come across verses where the meaning is obscure or unclear, we cannot slant them to say whatever it is we would like them to say. We cannot interpret them to prove our preconceived ideas. What we have to do is interpret obscure verses by those that are plainly written and clearly understood.

      2) No Biblical author simply strung together a number of lofty sounding phrases disconnected from one another. Since each verse is an integral part of a particular point the author was trying to make, no one should read, much less base their beliefs on stand alone verses. The reader can only be accurately informed by God's Word the way it is written... in its context. Understanding what the author meant comes not only from the words he wrote, but also by what the overall message of the chapter is intended to convey. [See Context is Crucial].

    For example the signature verse of the Prosperity doctrine could very well be be

    John 10:10

    "... I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.

    As stated in the Time magazine article this passage is quoted "with all earnestness" by Kirbyjon Caldwell, who pastors Windsor Village, the largest (15,000) United Methodist church in the country located in Houston, Texas. [8]

    "Abundant Life" in Luke 12

    In the case of John 10:10, it is presumed that Jesus is saying that He came so that His followers may not want for anything and have an abundance of the material things of this world. However that Jesus had to be referring to something more than material success in this lifetime is clearly seen if does two things.. 1) Break the passage down and 2) Compare it to another statement that Jesus made in the book of Luke when an individual asked Him to intercede with his brother, who was apparently not sharing the inheritance with him.

      "... I came that they may have life (Greek zõé), and may have it abundantly (Greek perissos). [John 10:10]

      And one out of the multitude said unto him, Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me. But he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man's life (Greek zõé) consisteth not in the abundance (Greek perisseuo) of the things which he possesseth. [Luke 12:13-15]

    Please note that Jesus uses exactly the same Greek words in both statements. Obviously that abundant life Jesus came to give does not consist of material possessions.

    This conclusion is further supported by the fact that Jesus' statement about the inheritance is immediately followed by the parable of the rich man who had so much wealth and property that he thought he could ensure a life of ease and merry making simply by by building bigger barns to hold his goods. However, he was unexpectedly summoned into the presence of his Maker that very night. Not a single iota of his fortune could accompany him, and since he had not accumulated for himself any heavenly treasure, he had no inheritance in the kingdom of God.

    A Contradiction of Ideas
    One also has to consider Paul's words in his letter to Timothy... (there is no question of the clarity and context of the sixth chapter of 1 Timothy) [Emphasis Added]

      But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition". [1 Timothy 6:9]

    So, if we are to ascribe equal weight to both John 10:10 and 1 Timothy 6:9, we are forced to the conclusion that if one result of Jesus' coming to earth was that His followers would have material blessings and prosperity in this life, these same followers are warned about desiring to be rich. I am afraid that this does not make a whole lot of sense to me..

    Context, context, context:
    Some have come to this conclusion that "abundant life' in John 10:10 is referring to a fat wallet, horse barns and a pond, simply because they ignore the context of the chapter, and b) quote and emphasize only half of the verse.

    In not reading the verse in it's entirety, and in it's context in the chapter, the meaning has been altered.. if not completely lost.

      Jesus therefore said unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and go out, and shall find pasture. The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. [John 10:7-10]

    The first half of this chapter is devoted to the topic of shepherding with Jesus as the good shepherd. In verses 7-10 Jesus contrasts Himself with the bad shepherds who do not really care for the sheep, clothing themselves with the wool and eating the meat but ignoring the needs of the flock, especially those that are sick, broken and lost. Instead of protecting them from becoming prey to wild beasts the shepherds ruled over them with force and with rigor. [Also See Ezekiel 34:1-31]. By contrast the Good Shepherd not only knows and tenderly cares for every one of His flock, but places their interests before His own.. He lays down His life for His sheep in order to save them.

    Abundant Spiritual Life:

    Noting that, in the Gospel of John light and life are an almost constant themes. The word life is used far more frequently (36 times) than in any other book of the Bible and, in almost every instance, it refers to eternal life as opposed to life that will result in death.

    Jesus said He came not only to bring spiritual life to people, but He came to bring the best quality of life to them as described by the word abundantly translated from the Greek perissón, which means beyond measure or excessive. In other words, He promises us a life far better than we could ever envision.

    However if abundant life was referring to material blessings and prosperity in this life, then the contrast with evil shepherds or thieves does not make a whole lot of sense. Jesus said the thieves steal, kill, and destroy but, as we know, evil and/or godless people can and do quite well for themselves in this world . . a fact that has been a source of frustration to God's people for centuries.

      Righteous art thou, O Jehovah, when I contend with thee; yet would I reason the cause with thee: wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they at ease that deal very treacherously? [Jeremiah 12:1]

      Rest in Jehovah, and wait patiently for him: Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. [Psalm 37:7] 

    So if the pseudo-shepherds promise sheep “the good life,” and very often deliver on their promises, what is it that they destroy? The answer in Luke is the thief endeavors to steal "treasures in heaven".

      Sell that which ye have, and give alms; make for yourselves purses which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief draweth near, neither moth destroyeth. [Luke 12:33]

    Needs Vs. Wants

    While there is no question that as humans we have both a spiritual and a physical side and, in this present life, have specific physical desires and needs... a fact that is not lost on God. Jesus Himself pointed out that we need not worry about worldly requirements because God in His graciousness will provide.

      “Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we
      wear?’ For all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you”. (Matthew 6:31-33)

    However it has to be noted that Jesus focuses on the three things that are essential to human existence … food, drink and clothing. Nowhere does He mention riches or wealth.  It would seem the Lord is telling us is not to worry about the things we require to sustain life, for God in His infinite wisdom knows exactly what we need and will provide in adequate quantity. Our focus rather should be on God and His righteousness and the essentials will be added on..

    We are human and we, quite naturally incline towards material things that we can see touch and taste. However as Paul told the Colossians our perception of life, and especially abundant life, has to undergo a radical change.

      Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. [Colossians 3:2-3] 

    Christians who have the indwelling life of Christ in them are already playing in a different ball park. The total message of the Bible revolves around the concept of the Kingdom of God, therefore focusing on physical and material abundance in the here and now trivializes the rich spiritual dimension to life that is promised in John 10:10.

    John 10:10, Matthew 5:5 and Real Estate
    Kirbyjon Caldwell applies John 10:10 to real estate saying

      "It is unscriptural not to own land," Starting with Adam and Eve and throughout the Old Testament, "The central theme was the pursuit of land, occupation of land, being put out of the land." And in the New Testament, "Jesus said the meek shall inherit the real estate—the dirt." [9]

    Which leaves me scratching my head in amazement. There are two ways to see these words of Jesus, but both of them eventually meet at the same place. Let me paraphrase the commentator Albert Barnes who said this regarding Jesus' meek inheriting the earth teaching.

    As we know, the land of Canaan was promised to Abraham and his descendants "forever"

      And Jehovah said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward and eastward and westward: or all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. [Genesis 13:14-15]

      And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. [Genesis 17:8]

    The promise of their own land was considered a great blessing by the patriarchs. After years of slavery in a foreign land, it was the hope of the long journey through the wilderness. The nation's hopes were crowned when, under Joshua they took possession of the promised land. The Jews often spoke of living in the land and being able to tend their vineyards and flocks in peace as a great blessing, if not the greatest blessing. "The land" became almost a proverbial expression to denote great blessing. For example

      Trust in Jehovah, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on his faithfulness. [Psalm 37:3]

    But, there is absolutely no question that the seed of Abraham will eventually embrace all believers. The temporal land of Canaan was a type of Heaven and the blessings to come... When our Saviour uses this language here, he means that the meek shall be received into his kingdom, and one of these days they will partake of the final blessing when their inheritance will not only be physical and include all the promised blessings, but will literally last forever as promised to Abraham.

    To take this statement of Jesus to mean that it is unscriptural for Christians to not own land is as bad a distortion of Scripture that I have ever seen. It trivializes the entire plan of God for His people to 'dwell safely in the land forever'. It substitutes a miserly acre or two for the grand scheme of things when God's people will inherit all the real estate there is.. the entire earth.

    John 14:14
    (and 15:16)
    If ye shall ask anything in my name, that will I do.

    Once more the context of the surrounding verses has been totally ignored. If read in it's entirety...

      Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto the Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, that will I do. [John 14:12-14]

    ... it becomes very clear that the “whatever” and “anything” that Jesus speaks of is clearly related to the spreading of the Gospel, not the granting of any and all desires.

    Much of the wrong assumptions about this verse arise from a basic misunderstanding of the condition Jesus imposed. He said that whatever was asked had to be done in His name. Christians all too often tack on "in Jesus' name" to the end of their prayer and assume that this condition has been met. However in ancient times to do something in someone else's name was a great responsibility. It meant you were acting as a representative of that person and had his authority to do and say certain things. However the representative had to be very sure he was acting according to the will and purpose of the person he was representing. Similarly praying in Jesus' name means the request must be consistent with the character and the purpose of Christ.

    Although there is no question that God does care if we are sick or in financial trouble and does hear our prayers in this regard, our immediate needs was not the primary focus of this verse. Jesus did not promise that every request made in His name would be fulfilled, but promised His disciples that their requests concerning fruit bearing would be answered

    For further corroboration, turn to a very similar promise Jesus made a short time later in

    John 15:16
    Ye did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

    The entire lead up to this promise is Jesus telling His His disciples that only by abiding in Him will they bear much fruit and if they do not abide in Him they will be cast onto the fire and burned (Vs. 1-6]. He then continues the theme telling them to love one another as He has loved them and calls them His friends (Vs. 12-15). He promises them much success in their work (Vs. 16), foretells the opposition and persecution they will meet with from the world (Vs.18-21), and promises the Holy Spirit as a witness and comforter (Vs. 26-27).

    Mark 9:22-23
    And oft-times it hath cast him both into the fire and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us. And Jesus said unto him, If thou canst! All things are possible to him that believeth.

    Mark 9 tells the story of a boy who has been possessed by a demon being brought to Jesus by his father. The disciples had already attempted to cast out the demon but had failed, which shook the father's faith. He then asks Jesus to do something if He could.

    Jesus' response was to almost literally say “what do you mean 'If you can'”. He turns the question around from If I can to if you can believe.  In other words, I know that I have the power and ability, now do you know that?

    For reasons that I doubt that any human completely understands... the path of miracles seems to be 'greased', or made smooth, by faith. In Mark 6 we read that Jesus' miracles in His own hometown were greatly reduced (seemingly in size and number) by the unbelief of the people there.

      "And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them". [Mark 6:5]

    Similarly in Matthew 17:20, When the disciples asked Jesus why they had been unable to cast a demon out of a boy, He told them it was because of their little faith. Apparently the faith of the disciples seemed to have been almost non-existent. They would have been able to cure the boy had their faith even been as big as a mustard seed.

       And he saith unto them, Because of your little faith: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

    Mark 9:22-23 This verse in no way gives believers blanket permission to command the genie, but teaches that what we should not do is put an "if" on the power of God. Like so many men and women of God, Sarah, Jacob, Job, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Jonah, Thomas, Martha, Peter etc. we do believe, but often struggle at times. And, like the despairing father, should pray "Help thou my unbelief". 

    When Jesus told the boy's father that all things are possible to the person who believes, He is does not say all things will be granted to him who believes. 

    I hope you see the difference.

    Matthew 18:19-20

    "Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

    This is a well known verse that is commonly applied to corporate prayer, all too often held to mean that when two or more of His disciples meet to pray Jesus not only manifests His presence in some way, but promises to respond to the prayer of saints in agreement. In other words if a couple or three people pray in agreement for something, God must do it.

    However yet one more time, the verse has been taken completely out of context.

    In this chapter Jesus is talking about church discipline and the correct way to resolve the problem of one person in the church who sins against another.

      The initial step is to confront the brother privately and show him his fault with the aim of winning him over. As Jesus said in verse 15 "if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother".

      If the private confrontation does not work, the next step is to take two or three witnesses with the hope that he might listen to them and that they might be witnesses of his conduct before the church [Vs. 16] (The law of Moses required two or three witnesses which shows the link between the Old and New Testaments)

      If the guilty person still refuses to hear them and repent, then the matter is to be told to the church (possibly the whole assembly of believers). If he ignores the church and does not acknowledge his fault, then he is to be treated as a non-member (heathen) of that church. He is barred from the religious community until such time as he repents [Vs. 17]. 

    It is now that Jesus says

      Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. or where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:18-20

    The text does not refer to two or three believers praying or agreeing about anything, but very specifically refers to a specific judicial matter. Church discipline is to taken very seriously since it expels the wayward sinner from worship, the Lord's Supper and fellowship with other believers. This, as explained by Bob Deffinbaugh on bible.org, makes this individual even more vulnerable to Satan’s attacks, placing him in a very dangerous position

      In Paul’s words, the one who is disciplined is “delivered to Satan” (see also 1 Timothy 1:20). Satan is a destroyer, a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (see 1 Peter 5:8). When the church expels a wayward member, that person is given over to Satan, knowing that he delights in destruction. It is not a pretty picture, nor is it something any church should take lightly. When we deliver one over to Satan, we are simply giving the unrepentant Christian what he has chosen. To remain in sin is to be in the bondage of Satan (2 Timothy 2:24-26). To be disciplined is simply to hand that one over fully to Satan. Discipline confirms a choice that the sinner has already made. [10]

    When church discipline is carried out instructed by our Lord, then the church is acting on His behalf and in His name, which is why when two or three gather to perform this most difficult but necessary duty, or to ratify the decision, the Lord's presence is promised to them. God Himself stands behind His elders as shown in the binding and loosing of verse 18.   

    This verse has absolutely nothing to do with the gathering of two or three believers to petition the Lord for something, even though that 'something' might be a good and just cause.

    Mark 11:23-24
    Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou taken up and cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that what he saith cometh to pass; he shall have it. Therefore I say unto you, All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 

    This verse has long been pointed to as proof that a believer can ask for anything they desire and that God is obligated to do all they ask Him to. If a person believes, then whatever he says will happen.

    One of the problems with opposing this teaching is that it is not an option to suggest in any way that Jesus did not literally mean what he said in verse 23. From Jesus' time to our present day people refer to something that is either humanly impossible, or extremely difficult to do as 'moving a mountain'. The language is designed to create a visual picture of great strength and power, not of actually altering the terrain. Jesus was teaching His disciples that with faith, they can accomplish what appears to be impossible.

    However the Word-Faith Prosperity doctrine camp spins these words of Jesus into a blank check to get anything you ask for by doing the usual things...  Ignoring the immediate context and the totality of Scripture. It is the preceding verse where the focus should be.

      "And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God", [Vs. 22]

    The prosperity teachers do not refer to faith as a person's belief and reliance on the power of God who alone can move those mountains, but teach that the words themselves have creative "power". For example, in their Bible Commentary on Mark 11,  Andrew Wommack Ministries says [Emphasis Added]

      faith is released by speaking words. Notice that speaking is emphasized three times in this one verse, and the Lord commands us to believe that what we say will come to pass. We are to believe in the power of our words. Failure to believe in the power of words won't keep this law of God from working. The last part of this verse says, "He shall have whatsoever he saith." If we receive this instruction and begin to speak words in faith that line up with God's Word, then we will have the positive results that follow. But if we refuse this lesson and continue to speak words of doubt, we will eventually believe them and have the negative things that these words produce. [11]

    While Joel Osteen claims almost the same thing.

      "One of the best ways that we can improve our self-image is with our words. Words are like seeds. They have creative power. It says in Isaiah that 'We will eat the fruit of our words.' [12]

    However we can only move the mountains that God wants removed, not necessarily those that we want moved.

    Which is exactly the same case in ...

    John 15:7
    If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

    'Jesus is not offering a blank check for answered prayer. It is conditioned upon abiding in Him. The verb “ask” is an imperative. Jesus is not encouraging us to pray, He is commanding us to pray. The one who abides in Christ and His words will naturally pray the kind of prayer that is in line with God’s will. The context suggests that the prayers should pertain to fruit bearing and glorifying the Father. If you abide, then you can ask! It’s not the other way around. God gives His answers to those Christians who are abiding!

    Our Lord described the new relationship between Himself and His followers in terms of a vine and its branches in the first three verses. He is the true vine, believers are the branches, and the Father is the vine-keeper.

    As the true vine our Lord is the source of life and strength and fruit. There is a relationship of complete dependence between the branch and the vine. The vine supplies life-giving nourishment to the branches and apart from it, the branches have neither life nor fruit.

    Failing to abide is more than just a hindrance to fruitfulness; it is a severing from the source of life. Not to abide leads to death and destruction. “If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned” (John 15:6).

      2 John 1:9-10 Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son. If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into your house, and give him no greeting: 

    3 John 1:2
    was said to be the verse that set Oral Roberts feet on the path he followed all his life. It was written by the apostle John to someone called Gaius said

      Beloved, I pray that in all things thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

    The commentator Albert Barnes makes a very telling remark concerning this verse. To paraphrase...

      It is not very common that a man is more prospered in his spiritual interests than he is in his other interests. And that we can express the hope that in all material respects they may do as well as they have in spiritual matters. 

    In other words the person's soul set the standard. It is in such good repair that we can wish he is in equally good shape in other respects. This was quite a compliment paid to Gaius and one can only can only aspire to having something like this said about us as well.

      (Note that 'Gaius' is also mentioned in Acts 19:29, Acts 20:4, Acts 20:4, Romans 16:23, or 1 Corinthians 1:14, but we do not know if it the same man spoken of here)

    Philippians 4:13
    I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.

    Not only is this yet another verse blasted from stages, excuse me.. pulpits, across the land, but is often used by Christians to explain why they have been successful at one endeavor or another. (Norman Vincent Peale also used it in a similar way on page 2 of The Power of Positive Thinking. [13]) From the Christian businessman to the Christian athlete you will hear that a good part of the reason they have succeeded is because they were 'able to do all things through Christ who strengthened them'. Which all sounds wonderful but, as asked by Dr. David R. Reid of Growing Christians Ministries...

      where does that leave all the poor struggling Christian business men and women in the audience who are not doing so well financially? Isn't the strength of Christ good for them too?... Again we must ask about the Christian athletes who are not so talented and did not win any medals. They also trained and tried their hardest but they either lost or never even qualified. Where was the strength of Christ for them? Certainly many of them had as much faith in the promise of Philippians 4:13 as the winning Christian athlete. [14]

    Once again this verse is taken completely out of context. When Paul wrote this epistle he was probably a prisoner in Rome since he speaks of being "in bonds" [1:13-14]. Epaphroditus had come from Philippi to Rome with a financial gift to help Paul's needs [4:18] Paul writes this letter to thanks the Philippians for their generosity and for their concern about him, as they had once been concerned about Epaphroditus when he was sick [2:25-26]. However as Paul writes, the gift was fruit that was laid to the Philippian's account, but he himself had learned to be content regardless of his circumstances. As he told Timothy... "if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (1 Timothy 6:8).

    The "all things" that Paul was talking about concerned being able to endure hardships and persecution through Christ who strengthened him. His sufficiency was in Christ alone. Note the preceding two verses.

      [Philippians 4:11 -12] Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want.

    This is not the only time Paul talks about the difficulties he and the other apostles faced. [See earlier section.. Prosperity and The Apostles]. Although the apostle experienced times of abundance and times of overwhelming lack, he prevailed over both situations because his focus was on Christ whom he could completely depend on for strength...

    Which is the consummate and priceless lesson of Philippians 4:13.

    Malachi 3:10 and Tithing:

    A much used Scripture used to back up the concept of receiving tenfold back from the Lord is Malachi 3:10.

      "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it"

    The tithing system of the Old Testament was very complicated and there was not one, but three tithes. However these tithes were inextricably bound up with meeting the needs of the poor, not to make the wealthy even wealthier. Additionally neither the apostle Paul nor the early Church said a word about paying tithes, which only evolved post-Constantine when a means was sought to finance huge churches and cathedrals.

    Financing this, that and the other project remains the main purpose of the constant begging that goes on today.

    (See related article on Tithing for an in-depth look at this subject)


    Rhema Vs. Logos
    In a effort to further bolster their teachings, proponents of the Word-Faith Prosperity doctrine refer to two Greek words used in the New Testament, and usually translated into the English word. They claim that these two Greek words, logos and rhema, have totally different meanings... logos is the general word, rhema, the specific word.

    Since rhema is taken to be God's real time word or message for you in your present situation, it is often considered to be superior to the logos, many present day teachers emphasizing the subjective "inner guidance" over the written Scriptures... similar to the infamous Mormon "internal witness" or "burning in the bosom", which is held to be Divine truth even if it contradicts the Bible.

      Logos refers to the written Scriptures or the whole counsel of God, The Bible, as God's Word or logos is God's revelation to humanity, recorded by men inspired by the Holy Spirit. It was given to us for our spiritual instruction and is an overview of God’s plan for the human race.

      Rhema on the other hand is not restricted merely to the written text, but is "the spoken word of God. Strong's concordance says that rhema is "that which is or has been uttered by the living voice." Rhema carries a spiritual connotation that differentiates it from logos. It also bears application to the specific context of our lives.  For example, we may be wrestling with an issue in our life and during our quiet time we read a verse that "speaks" directly to the situation we are dealing with. That portion of the scripture becomes a "Rhema word" from God for us regarding our situation.  We can then stand in faith on the Rhema God has given us and confess it whenever the devil tries to attack us". [15]

    Rhema Is Not What It Is Made Out To Be
    Although, in the charismatic arena Rhema is used for extra-Biblical revelation, such as the word of wisdom, word of knowledge or prophecy (the rhema of God to His people), this is flatly contradicted by the Bible. Please note that while it only requires only one clear cut, indisputable refutation from the Scriptures to prove that rhema is not what Kenneth Copeland and company make it out to be. This is found in Paul's letter to the Corinthians.

    In referring to the various gifts bestowed on believers through the Holy Spirit, Paul uses logos not rhema for both word of wisdom and knowledge. Apparently logos can refer to more than the written word of God.

      For to one is given through the Spirit the word (logos) of wisdom; and to another the word (logos) of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: [1Corinthians 12:8]

    Is Not What It Is Made Out To Be
    Since the words spoken by ordinary believers are also sometimes referred to as logos. This includes corrupt (depraved, evil, obscene or offensive) or empty false words.

      Let no corrupt speech (logos) proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear. [Ephesians 4:29] 

      Let no man deceive you with empty words (logos): for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience. [Ephesians 5:6] 

      Let your speech (logos) be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one. [Colossians 4:6]

      Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an ensample to them that believe, in word (logos), in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity.  [1Timothy 4:12]

    Apparently logos can refer to anyone's speech or words. Besides which there are endless examples in the Bible where

    Logos and Rhema Are Used Interchangeably
    The distinction commonly made between logos and rhema cannot be sustained by Biblical evidence, since they are so often used interchangeably, with very little distinction between how the Greeks used these two words. For example

    Jesus' prophecy
    that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed is recorded in Matthew 26:34, Mark 14:30 and Luke 22:34. When this prophecy came to pass, Peter recalled what Jesus had told him. In narrating this incident Matthew and Mark used the word rhema, but Luke used logos... both words referring to a spoken prophecy

      Matthew 26:75 And Peter remembered the word (rhema) which Jesus had said, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

      Mark 14:72 And Peter called to mind the word (rhema) that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.

      Luke 22:61 And Peter remembered the word (logos) of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

    Matthew 7:24 and Romans 10:17

    Paul used the word rhema when he said

      So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word (rhema) of Christ. [Romans 10:17]

    But Jesus used logos for the very same concept

      Every one therefore that heareth these words (logos) of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock: [Matthew 7:24] 

    John 6:60-68

    Many therefore of his disciples, when the heard this, said, This is a hard saying (logos) ; who can hear it? But Jesus knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at this, said unto them, Doth this cause you to stumble? What then if ye should behold the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words (rhema) that I have spoken unto you are spirit, are are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray him. And he said, For this cause have I said unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it be given unto him of the Father. Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Jesus said therefore unto the twelve, Would ye also go away? Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words (rhema) of eternal life.

      In the above quote Jesus has just finished talking about being the bread of life and how His followers had to 'eat'' His flesh' and 'drink His blood,' which the disciples could not accept (probably because they did not as yet understand what Jesus meant). They refer to Jesus' teachings as logos, but a few seconds later Jesus refers to the same teachings as the rhema which are spirit and life. Peter also, in referring to Jesus words, uses rhema.

    Acts 10:44

    While Peter yet spake these words (rhema), the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word (logos)

      In describing what happened when Peter preached the Gospel to Cornelius' household, Luke uses both rhema and logos to refer to the words Peter spoke to them.

    Acts 13:42
    And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words (rhema) might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word (logos) of God.

      In this chapter when the Gentiles ask Paul and Barnabus to preach to them on the next Sabbath, they use the word rhema.  The two apostles complied with this request and almost the whole city turned out to hear them preach the logos.

    Ephesians 5:26 and John 15:3

    In Ephesians 5:26 believers are cleansed "with the washing of water with the rhema." In John 15:3 believers are "clean because of the logos."

      that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word (rhema) [Ephesians 5:26]

      Already ye are clean because of the word (logos) which I have spoken unto you. [John 15:3] 

    1 Peter 1:23 and 25

    In Peter's first epistle he describes how we are born again by the "word of God" which abides forever. Peter repeats this phrase twice using logos once and rhema once.

      having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word (logos) of God, which liveth and abideth. For, All flesh is as grass, And all the glory thereof as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth: But the word (rhema) of the Lord abideth for ever. And this is the word of good tidings which was preached unto you. [1 Peter 1:23-25]

    Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12
    both describe the Word of God as a sword, but one writer uses rhema while the other uses logos. One can hardly argue that there are two different swords.

      And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (rhema) of God: [Ephesians 6:17]

      For the word (logos) of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. [Hebrews 4:12]

    Hebrews 11:3 and 2 Peter 3:5
    The author of Hebrews says the world was made by the rhema of God, whereas Peter uses logos.

      By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word (rhema) of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear. [Hebrews 11:3]

      For this they willfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word (logos) of God; [2Peter 3:5]

    For those that believe that logos is the sum of God's written Word ....

    Logos also refers to

    The Gospel message

      And the word (logos) of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. [Acts 6:7] Note: The "Word of God" here can only mean that that the gospel kept spreading.

      And ye have not his word (logos) abiding in you: for whom he sent, him ye believe not [John 5:38] . Note: This was said to the unbelieving Pharisees and refers to Jesus who was the good news of the Gospel.

    Specific sections of the Scriptures as in Luke's words referring to the first book he wrote.

      The former treatise (logos) I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach [Acts 1:1]

    Jesus' words...

      John 2:22  When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he spake this; and they believed the scripture, and the word (logos) which Jesus had said.

      John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my word (logos): and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

      John 18:9  that the word (logos) might be fulfilled which he spake, Of those whom thou hast given me I lost not one.

    When the centurion asked Jesus for a specific word that would heal his servant he used the word logos.

      Matthew 8:8  And the centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof; but only say the word (logos), and my servant shall be healed.

    Logos is also used as specific instruction from Jesus to the rich young ruler

      But his countenance fell at the saying (logos), and he went away sorrowful: for he was one that had great possessions. [Mark 10:22]  

    The words spoken by the prophets and apostles...

      that the word (logos) of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? [John 12:38] 

      And to this agree the words (logos) of the prophets; as it is written, [Acts 15:15] 

      But many of them that heard the word (logos) believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. [Acts 4:4]

      And Ananias hearing these words (logos) fell down and gave up the ghost: and great fear came upon all that heard it. [Acts 5:5] 

      And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Brethren (Paul and company), if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on (logos). [Acts 13:15]

    The words spoken by angels (Note that lego is the the root word of logos)

      Now when they were departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying (lego) , Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I tell thee: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. [Matthew 2:13]

      But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying (lego), Arise and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead that sought the young child's life. [Matthew 2:19-20] 

      For if the word (lego) spoken through angels proved stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; [Hebrews 2:2] 

    In Conclusion
    While they are two different words, all the Biblical evidence shows that both words so overlap in terms of definition and usage that there are absolutely no grounds to relegate them to entirely different categories.

    Building entire doctrines around imaginary distinctions is only done in the endeavor to provide Biblical "proof" for ideas that are completely invalid.

    But lets take a moment to examine how one of the most popular word-faith/Prosperity Doctrine proponents handles the Word of truth.

    Part IV... Joel Osteen [HERE]


    End Notes
    [8] Time Magazine. Does God Want You To Be Rich? David Van Biema And Jeff Chu Sunday, Sep. 10, 2006. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1533448-8,00.html

    [9]Jenny Staff Johnson. The Minister of 'Good Success'. 10/01/2001

    [10] Bob Deffinbaugh. Church Discipline: Taking Sin Seriously (1 Cor. 5:1-13)

    [11] Andrew Wommack Ministries. Commentary on Mark 11:23. http://www.awmi.net/bible/mar_11_23

    [12] Joel Osteen. Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day. Free Press; (2009) paperback. Pg. 109

    [13] Norman Vincent Peale. The Power of Positive Thinking Fireside; First Fireside edition (March 12, 2003

    [14] Dr. David R. Reid. Controlled By Context. Growing Christians Ministries.

    [15] The Sword of the Spirit. http://www.porn-free.org/sword_of_the_Spirit.htm


    Index To The Prosperity Doctrine ..
    Does God Want Us To Be Rich?