Below is a email response to a friend of mine who is close to my heart, but who supports aspects of the Word of Faith movement. I addressed the errors in her reasoning through Scripture and thought it would be beneficial to share it with you. The recipient will remain anonymous and I will refer to her as “Natalie”. Since this was an email conversation our grammar was not perfect and the text is mostly unedited. But I feel it is worth sharing.
“First off, I only share this to give you truth from the Word, which it will be in your hands to decide what to do with it. You are accountable to God, not to me for what you believe. I cannot convince you nor do I want to sway you in myself. Simply sharing God’s Word in response to your points and you can decide.
You know I love you as a sister in Christ so do not take any of this personally, and I pray you grow in Christ and in faith regardless of your beliefs on some of these points.
NATALIE: “When God created the earth and Adam and Eve, He gave dominion of the world to man by giving it to Adam. When Adam ate the apple, he gave dominion of the world to God.”
When God gave Adam “dominion”, He was establishing the natural order or Creation. For the object of the word “dominion” is ”over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26) Man is superior to animals and in effect “rules” over them. No where is it stated that this authority was above God’s or that Adam gave it back to God, as if God had somehow relinquished it to man. The fall had nothing to do with the natural order of Creation, aside from the fact that animals can now harm man. The fall was a spiritual and physical separation from God, which resulted in the corruption of the world through sin (and with it all forms of sicknesses, suffering and death). That dominion never had anything to do with us not suffering. It was all about our relationship with God.
NATALIE: “Satan didn’t realize that he had as much power as he did. Keep reading in verse 12. God says,”Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” God literally said that all that is Jobs is in satan’s hands. The reason that God did not do anything when Job asked him to is because He hadn’t sent Jesus yet. There was no mediator between man and God. That’s why Job didn’t receive healing because the devil has dominion over the world.”
You must read the full context of that passage to understand the power Satan has and doesn’t have. “8 And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” 9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” God had a “hedge of protection” around Job. And in response to Satan’s request, God withdrew His hand of protection from Job so that Satan could test him. But even then, God commanded him to not hurt Job himself at that point. Thus God exercised His authority over Satan both before, during, and after Job’s testing. Satan did not “realize how much power he had”, he requested authority from God precisely because he did not have the power to harm Job. Satan has dominion over the world, only to the degree that God allows him to have. And man’s free will often chooses to serve Satan until God judges the earth. Hence the influence he has in the world.
The reason God didn’t intervene was not because Jesus was not sent yet, because God DID intervene after the time of testing “And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10). In the story of Job, the overwhelming nature of God’s sovereignty is dripping from the text. Satan is shown here as a mere pawn in the story.
NATALIE: “That’s why Jesus came though. Now we have that access to God. What He did is done now and we have to pull what was done in the spiritual into the natural.”
Jesus came to heal us spiritually and restore our relationship with God. And eventually we will be physically healed in eternity. And certainly we should pray in faith to God for healings and deliverance, but recognize His sovereignty in all things. He did not come to heal everyone physically.
NATALIE: “People don’t get sick because God wants to teach them a lesson. If you learn something that’s great, seriously. God is not a God of sickness. Destruction and poor health come from the devil. It talks about that in the parable of the sower. Trouble comes because the devil tries to choke our belief in God out of us.”
God is not a God of sickness, yes, but He uses these things for His glory. Just as He allowed Satan to do what he wished, so God can remove His hand of protection from a man. In fact, the Lord’s discipline is a sign of favor: “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6). In fact, what other discipline could this refer to but earthly suffering? “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,” (Romans 5:3)This form of suffering is beneficial. And God does cause destruction at times, as it is a working of His justice. ”And God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, the Lord saw, and he relented from the calamity. And he said to the angel who was working destruction, “It is enough; now stay your hand.”” (1 Chronicles 21:15) But what’s amazing about that passage is that His mercy caused Him to relent. David had chosen to let the Lord discipline Israel rather then men because He knew of the Lord’s mercy. “Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is very great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”” (1 Chronicles 21:13). So God does work destruction as an exercise of His justice, but it is never disconnected from His mercy.
In the parable of the sower, which you referenced, Jesus explained what that was referencing: ”And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.[a]” (Mark 4:15-17) Satan takes away the Word that was sown. The “trouble” is persecution because of the Word, which causes many to fall away. This is not in any way referencing regular suffering.
NATALIE: “Jesus is an exact replica of God just in man form. He says if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the face of God. Jesus never made anyone sick or hurt anybody. If God always had it His way, there would be absolutely no destruction ever, no tsunamis, no starving children, no cancer, nothing destructive.”
I hope when you say Jesus is an exact replica, you are not separating Him from God, because He was fully God and fully man. I will assume you aren’t implying that. I agree that Jesus himself did not come to make anyone sick or cause any of these things. And yes, God never designed us to live with pain and suffering BUT, He does exercise judgement on the earth over sin, “For thus says the Lord GOD: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast!” (Ezekial 14:21).His destruction is ALWAYS in response to sin and rebellion, never casual acts, but acts of His justice over continual hard hearted rebellion. ”The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 145:8)He is slow to anger and compassionate which often causes Him to withhold judgement for a period of time.
NATALIE: ”If we believe that God will heal us, He will. He wants us to live life abundantly. If we don’t receive healing, or whatever we are asking for it’s either because we’re asking with the wrong motives or our faith is weak at the moment. That’s why some people lose their miracle, because of doubt.”
I will agree with parts of this, that often we do not receive what we ask for in prayer. In fact the passage you are referencing supports my view: ”Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:2-8) This is in reference to asking for wisdom from God. It also affirms that trials of various kinds produce perseverance and we should rejoice in them! Not act as if it’s a failure of our faith.
One last point I will make is that the experience of the heroes of faith affirm this truth, that suffering and trials (including those of health) are a part of being a disciple.
Listen to the Apostle Paul: “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,[a] a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Paul also left a brother sick in 2 Timothy 4:20 without healing him: ”Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus.”
And Paul himself was sick as noted: “You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus” (Galatians 4:13-14)
Also, it is believed that most of the apostles were martyred for their faith. They did not live in continual prosperity and health. And one would argue that if all must die, why can’t we live forever? If we have faith we should never get sick. All of the Apostles must have not had enough faith because they all died according to this logic.
I pray you consider all these things prayerfully.”
What are your thoughts on Word of Faith theology? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Thank you for reading this. If you were blessed, I’d encourage you to share it.
Zach Van Houten is a Christian writer and blogger who lives in Merced, California. He is currently training under his father to be a metal fabricator. He started blogging for Congruent Culture in 2013 before merging with Comments on Christianity. He recently founded a Christian website called Me In Perspective. Contact: Twitter| Website | SoundCloud
Photo credits: Prawny