Is the Church the really best it could have been … ?
Is faith a force?
There’s a movement that has been gathering ground over the last few years, due to the improvement in communication, particularly through Christian TV. It is promoted by the very teachers that Paul warned Timothy about:
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3)
It’s the Word of Faith movement, which I will only mention in passing but strongly recommend that you give it a wide berth. The only reason I mention Word of Faith teachers is because of the utterly skewed ideas they have about faith, which is totally grounded in pagan Greek philosophy. One of the chief proponents of this movement is Kenneth Copeland, and here are a string of quotes he has made about faith:
"Faith is a power force. It is a tangible force. It is a conductive force. … faith is a spiritual force.... It is substance. Faith has the ability to effect natural substance … God cannot do anything for you apart or separate from faith … faith is God's source of power … everything that you're able to see or touch, anything that you can feel, anything that's perceptive to the five physical senses, was originally the faith of God, and was born in the substance of God's faith. … faith was the raw material substance that the Spirit of God used to form the universe."
Without going through a point-by-point rebuttal of this, we get the idea that, for these “teachers” faith is a quantifiable object, a substance or force that can be packaged and forced into action. It is Greek in its extreme, creating an object (a form) out of a spiritual gift but there are reasons beyond theology and it’s all tied up in schemes for manipulating their followers to send in cash. It’s just a very sad example of how the Christian faith can be twisted into a money-making scheme for unscrupulous practitioners.
We can perhaps return to a better place and have a fresh look at a familiar parable.
"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop--a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.“ (Matthew 13:3-8)
The seed on the path eaten up by the birds represents a faith snatched away by the devil before it has even had a chance to take hold. The seed in the rocky places that hadn’t rooted is perhaps people who have come to the possibility of faith through hearing a testimony or reading a convincing apologetic. But because they haven’t reached the stage of engagement, of grappling with God, they fell away as the memory faded. Thorns choking the plants perhaps represent the challenges to a true faith, not being able to withstand the tempting alternatives of the World, including the lure of material wealth or other explanations given by scientists and academics. So we could say that the rocky places represent too little Hebraic engagement and the thorns represent too much Greek engagement!
The only answer is to seek good soil, an encounter with God Himself. Challenge Him, question Him, plead with Him even. You’ll be in good company with the Psalmists who often had to really struggle:
How long, O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire? Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all men! What man can live and not see death, or save himself from the power of the grave? (Psalm 89:46-48)
This is an extract from the book, Hebraic Church, available for £10 at http://www.sppublishing.com/hebraic-church-101-p.asp