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Kenneth Hagin’s Forgotten Warning (J. Lee Grady)

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Kenneth Hagin is a phenomenal Bible teacher.  His ministry was Scriptural, faith-filled and balanced.  Although he knew that Jesus was not poor and that we are redeemed from poverty, Kenneth Hagin did not agree with some practices making the rounds today.  This article by J. Lee Grady explains exactly what:

Before he died in 2003, the revered father of the Word-Faith movement corrected his spiritual sons for going to extremes with their message of prosperity. Charismatic Bible teacher Kenneth Hagin Sr. is considered the father of the so-called prosperity gospel. The folksy, self-trained “Dad Hagin” started a grass-roots movement in Oklahoma that produced a Bible college and a crop of famous preachers including Kenneth Copeland, Jerry Savelle, Charles Capps, Jesse DuPlantis, Creflo Dollar and dozens of others—all of whom teach that Christians who give generously should expect financial rewards on this side of heaven. Hagin taught that God was not glorified by poverty and that preachers do not have to be poor. But before he died in 2003 and left his Rhema Bible Training Center in the hands of his son, Kenneth Hagin Jr., he summoned many of his colleagues to Tulsa to rebuke them for distorting his message. He was not happy that some of his followers were manipulating the Bible to support what he viewed as greed and selfish indulgence. Those who were close to Hagin Sr. say he was passionate about correcting these abuses before he died. In fact, he wrote a brutally honest book to address his concerns. The Midas Touch was published in 2000, a year after the infamous Tulsa meeting. Many Word-Faith ministers ignored the book. But in light of the recent controversy over prosperity doctrines, it might be a good idea to dust it off and read it again. Here are a few of the points Hagin made in The Midas Touch: 1. Financial prosperity is not a sign of God’s blessing. Hagin wrote: “If wealth alone were a sign of spirituality, then drug traffickers and crime bosses would be spiritual giants. Material wealth can be connected to the blessings of God or it can be totally disconnected from the blessings of God.” 2. People should never give in order to get. Hagin was critical of those who “try to make the offering plate some kind of heavenly vending machine.” He denounced those who link giving to getting, especially those who give cars to get new cars or who give suits to get new suits. He wrote: “There is no spiritual formula to sow a Ford and reap a Mercedes.” 3. It is not biblical to “name your seed” in an offering. Hagin was horrified by this practice, which was popularized in faith conferences during the 1980s. Faith preachers sometimes tell donors that when they give in an offering they should claim a specific benefit to get a blessing in return. Hagin rejected this idea and said that focusing on what you are going to receive “corrupts the very attitude of our giving nature.” 4. The “hundredfold return” is not a biblical concept. Hagin did the math and figured out that if this bizarre notion were true, “we would have Christians walking around with not billions or trillions of dollars, but quadrillions of dollars!” He rejected the popular teaching that a believer should claim a specific monetary payback rate. 5. Preachers who claim to have a “debt-breaking” anointing should not be trusted. Hagin was perplexed by ministers who promise “supernatural debt cancellation” to those who give in certain offerings. He wrote in The Midas Touch: “There is not one bit of Scripture I know about that validates such a practice. I’m afraid it is simply a scheme to raise money for the preacher, and ultimately it can turn out to be dangerous and destructive for all involved.” (Many evangelists who appear on Christian television today use this bogus claim. Usually they insist that the miraculous debt cancellation will occur only if a person “gives right now,” as if the anointing for this miracle suddenly evaporates after the prime time viewing hour. This manipulative claim is more akin to witchcraft than Christian belief.) Hagin condemned other hairbrained gimmicks designed to trick audiences into emptying their wallets. He was especially incensed when a preacher told his radio listeners that he would take their prayer requests to Jesus’ empty tomb in Jerusalem and pray over them there—if donors included a special love gift. “What that radio preacher really wanted was more people to send in offerings,” Hagin wrote. Thanks to the recent resurgence in bizarre donation schemes promoted by American charismatics, the prosperity gospel is back under the nation’s microscope. It’s time to revisit Hagin’s concerns and find a biblical balance. Hagin told his followers: “Overemphasizing or adding to what the Bible actually teaches invariably does more harm than good.” If the man who pioneered the modern concept of biblical prosperity blew the whistle on his own movement, wouldn’t it make sense for us to listen to his admonition?

The Midas Touch is available from Tree of Life Bookshop.

The Reason For Your Unhappiness is Your Selfishness

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I think that is one of the most radical, yet true, statements I have ever heard. I am still processing it in my life and will do for some considerable time.

Andrew Wommack has just taught on his TV show on Self-Centredness being the root cause of all grief. It has been some very powerful, yet very clear Biblical teaching, and I have enjoyed it and been challenged immensely.

I firmly recommend it to all of you: http://www.awmi.net/tv/2008/week53

Blessings,
Ben

The Sower Sows the Word (II)

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Previously we examined the seed that fell on the path, and we found that this represented Christians that had no fight in them, who did not apply themselves to the Word of God and so satan just stole the Word from them and it did not benefit them at all.

Today, I want to look at the stony ground. The seed that falls on the stony ground sprung up quickly, but because it had no root in it it withered just as quickly.

This represents people who receive the Word of God into their emotions and not their spirits. Because it is received emotionally, there will be great emotions when it is received. People who are hearing the Word and are getting very emotional are not always receiving the Word into their spirit.

There is nothing wrong with being emotional as a Christian. Paul wrote an entire letter (Philippians) on the subject of joy. But you must receive the Word into your spirit and let your emotions be changed from the inside out.

Ok you might say, but how do I know if I have received the word into my spirit or my emotions? How do I know if my response to the Word of God is surface level or deep commitment?

The key is found in Mark 4.17:

And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

If your relationship with the Word is only on a surface level, on an emotional level, then when affliction or persecution arises for the sake of the Word, you will be immediately offended.

There is a lot of information in Mark 4.17, and it is vital for all Christians to understand it, so let’s unpack it and try and make some applications to our life.

When you receive the Word, I guarantee affliction and persecution will come.

Affliction is the Greek word thlipsis. It means, according to Strong’s, pressure. This world will always put pressure on you. Christianity is not a walk in the park. It is not a pleasure cruise. It is pressure. Sometimes I think we mis-sell Christianity, by focusing on the benefits of knowing Christ without mentioning the pressure.

If you become a disciple of Christ, you will go against the world and the world will put pressure on you. You need to know you are not about to wake up tomorrow and the world will be a lovely place and everything will be beautiful. That will not happen until Christ returns. So, toughen up.

Let’s use healing as our example again. You hear a great sermon on healing, you find out the Lord is your Healer, that Jesus carried your sicknesses on the cross and you don’t have to be sick.

You get excited, you are shouting at the preacher, you feel good. The Word has planted on your emotions and sprung up. You feel like you are in victory.

Monday morning you wake up and there is pressure on you. Pressure on your throat, on your back, on your nose. You feel like you just want to crawl into a hole and die of pain. Flu assaults your entire body.

At this stage the question is: what is your IMMEDIATE response? If the Word is in your spirit, your immediate response will be something like this:

I am not moved by what I see, I am not moved by what I feel, I am moved by the Word of the living God and the Word says that by the stripes of Jesus I am healed.

You stand on the true Word of God, you fight the lying symptoms and you change your experience with the Word of the living God.

If the Word is merely in your emotions, then IMMEDIATELY you will be offended. This is what Mark 4.17 says. Offended is the Greek word skandalizo. It means: to trip up, to turn away from someone you should be trusting and to get annoyed.

Your response if the Word has only touched your emotions will be something like this:

I thought that preacher said I was supposed to be healed. He must be a liar. The Word clearly doesn’t mean this. I can’t believe it. This stupid Bible, this stupid God. This stupid doctrine. These name-it and claim-it people are deceived. I am never going to that church again.

A complete change from how you felt just 24 hours ago – just because of a few symptoms! This is what people are like when the Word only hits their emotions. One minute they are raving for the Word, the next they are raving against the Word.

The other thing that can change these people 180 degrees is persecution. Persecution is people treating you badly because you believe the Word of God. It might be a severe case, like the people in concentration camps right now in North Korea because they are disciples of Jesus Christ. It might just be a family member laughing at you because they think you are a fanatic.

Whatever form it takes, people who only know the Word on a surface level will let persecution stop them. Any excitement at hearing the Word on Sunday disappeared because their wife or their husband says “You are becoming a bit of a religious freak!”. Immediately they become offended.

Now at this stage you might think: I am a bit like that at times. Yes, you are. We all are. But, don’t panic – there is a solution. You see, according to Mark 4.17 this all happened for one reason: they had no root.

If we can get the Word of God to root inside us, then we can stand in the worst affliction and we can actually challenge the affliction and make the world change rather than allow the world to change us. We can turn the other cheek when we are persecuted and allow the Word to change other people, rather than allow other people to change us.

So, how do we get the Word to root inside us? That will be our theme for tomorrow. Don’t miss out!

Blessings,
Ben

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