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*Frequently asked questions*
The Bible, the written word of God, is our final authority in answering all questions pertaining to our spiritual life. However we must keep in mind while reading the Bible that the Bible is not written like a book of science where each statement is exact and complete in itself, nor like a book of law where the goal is to elaborate matters in sections and sub-sections so as to avoid loopholes. The Bible is written for the heart, and can be understood in its proper sense only by those who are spiritually minded (1Co.2:14), and who desire to do the will of God once it is revealed (Jn.7:17). Those who want to argue against the word of God can always find arguments, and those who do not want to obey what God says can appear to find words of God themselves to support their stand. Please read the following with an open heart and a willingness to know God's ways and obey them.
Word of faith
- Jacob Ninan
1. What do you mean by 'word of faith'?
This is a doctrine which has become a movement by itself, essentially teaching that we have power to make things happen by speaking out words of faith. 'Positive confession' will produce good results (e.g., health and prosperity) and speaking negative words thoughtlessly produces damaging results.
2. Can you please explain the teaching?
A key verse that is used is Ge.1:3 where God spoke, "Let there be light", and light was created. (But we are not God but only created beings, even though we have been adopted as children of God.) The Bible mentions that when we believe with our heart and confess with our mouth we get saved (Ro.10:9,10). (But God is the one who saves us; our mouth has no power to save us by speaking out.) Our tongue has the power to lead us to life or death (Pr.18:21), and is like a fire which can set forests aflame and like a rudder that directs a ship (Jas.3:4,5). (This means that we ought to be very careful what we speak because we can provoke others in a wrong way.) From such verses the teaching comes out that God has given us the power to direct our lives and make things happen by using our tongue.
Some teachers claim that faith is a force or a substance that can be activated by those who speak the right words. They lead people to think that words have some power of their own. Those who teach this make statements such as, "What I confess, I possess", "Say it; do it; receive it; tell it", "What we speak happens", "We get what we speak", "Name it and claim it", etc. Speaking positively is considered to be an expression of faith which would set in motion God's power to work on our behalf, and for the same reason we are also to be careful about speaking negative or cursing words because they will happen. This has roots in new age (eastern) philosophy in which God Himself is only a force (and not a Person) that we can 'tap' to make things happen for us. But this is not the almighty and sovereign God of the Bible.
These teachings have unfortunately influenced a large number of Christians all around the world, and a whole new brand of preachers have emerged who add to this doctrine many variations of their own. One man said that when God created Adam in His image, it was a replica of Himself, and Adam was a god. Another man has said that faith is a substance (taking the outdated KJV use of Heb.11:1) to imply that it can be accumulated or built up to a sufficient quantily (just like people collect coupons) so that we can then claim anything we want in proportion to the quantity of our faith. Others add 'health and wealth' as our rights. Rubbish!
3. How is this teaching practised?
There are variations. Some people essentially vocalise or repeat what is clearly written in the word of God and 'claim it'. Some people speak out what they want to happen. Some 'confess' what they would like to happen as if it has already happened. Many people avoid expressing their fears, worries or anxieties fearing that they might happen. Some others avoid mentioning anything bad that is already there fearing that speaking of it would affirm it.
4. What do you have to say about this?
There is a lot of error in this teaching even if is proclaimed to be an expression of great faith. By subtle misinterpretation of Scriptural truths one gets farther and farther into error. However this has become so widely spread that many people are influenced by it to different degrees.
Power belongs to God and only to Him (Ps.62:11). He upholds all things by the word of His power (He.1:3). (Please note that it is the word of His power and not the power of His word.) The power will always be of God even when He uses us to execute His works, because we are only earthen vessels that contain the treasure (2Co.4:7). We are created beings, and even when we partake of divine nature it is only in our character and not in our essential being.
When God said, "Let there be light", it was He Himself who created light. His words did not create light. We see further on in the story of creation how God continued to say things and then went on to do them, and we understand that this was what happened with light also! Words have no power in themselves. If we say the same words on a dark night we cannot create light!
When we proclaim what God is going to do, it will happen. How do we know what God is going to do? By faith, by reading it in His word or hearing Him in our heart. Then when we speak what God has said, it will happen. But how can we make anything happen by just speaking out, even positively or repeatedly?
Our words have consequences, good or bad. For example if we say something that breaks a relationship, it can change the entire direction of our life. In that sense, our tongue is like a rudder directing the course of our life. On the other hand, by saying, "I'm going to be President" repeatedly we can't make that happen!
5. But don't we have to be careful to avoid negative words?
Of course, negative words don't do any good, do they? Jesus also tells us to be careful with our words (Mt.12:36). At the same time, if some negative words slipped out of our mouth under pressure we don't have to live in fear as though they are going to happen. God is greater and more large hearted than a petty cop, and He will forgive our sins when we confess them. We should also not imagine that we should avoid stating some 'bad' fact in case it gets confirmed. For example we don't have to be afraid to tell a doctor we have a headache if we have one(!), or to tell a preacher we still have the symptoms after he prayed for healing!
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