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The Dangers of the Sign/Gift Ministry

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This morning, I was watching some Christian television on Vision TV, or shat passes for religious programming in Canada.  After In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley, another show called “It’s Supernatural” came on.  The host is a gentleman named Sid Roth, who is sometimes okay, and sometimes a little more given to the prosperity gospel than he should be.  This morning was a little over the top.
I don’t remember the name of his guest, but he was from Africa (Nigeria or the surrounding area by his accent and physical characteristics – I have friends in Nigeria).  He talked about what he called “genetic salvation,” which was his term for the concept of release from generational sin.  He claims that it alters DNA somehow.  Though there is some scriptural basis for the concept of generational sin, it is a spiritual principal, and there is no evidence that it impacts the physical realm in this way, though it does have legal impacts.  I’m not trying to fault his take on the doctrine, really, but I think there is a better and clearer explanation of it by Dr. Neil Anderson (founder of Freedom in Christ Ministries) in his book “Victory over the Darkness,” and he has even developed steps that he has written down to renounce these generational patterns of sin.   What really got my attention is what came next.
This individual began to “prophesy.”  I’m using quotation marks here because I don’t think that he and I define the word the same way, but he claimed, as did Mr. Roth, that he had a vision of a great wave of miraculous healings moving across the face of the earth over the next decade as the mystical body of Christ begins to claim and walk in its supernatural authority and power.   He said a great deal earlier that tied him to the prosperity gospel movement, so I hold whatever he says with some suspicion to begin with.  I especially view his claims of mass healings with more than suspicious eyes.  Okay, okay, I hear you in the back asking why.  I’ll tell you.
It revolves around this verse:
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10, KJV)
Did you catch that phrase in verse 9?  “Signs and lying wonders.”  The entire power and authority of the prosperity gospel is what I call the sign/gift ministry.  It isn’t scripture, that is certain, because Scripture doesn’t support it, although they use misquotes and contextually incorrect proof-texts to justify it, or worse, they just make stuff up with spiritual sounding phrases that seek to counterfeit the truth.  I’ve actually heard people tell me that I’m not saved because I can’t speak in tongues (shows you what they know about me, I was saved through the Charismatic Pentecostal movement in the mid 1980s).  Now think about that – counterfeits are meant to fool and deceive by the individuals who make them, and then circulated at the real thing.  Sometimes they are very close to the truth, but there is always something just a little off about them.  The Christian that is “continually devoting themselves” will be able to detect it based on the Holy Spirit revealing to them what is wrong as they read the Bible and pray, and fellowship with other people practicing their faith and worshiping the King.
Let me be clear.  I believe in the gift of tongues, though I think many people don’t know what a real manifestation of it also requires an interpretation either by the Holy Spirit or another person under the influence of the Holy Spirit.  I do NOT believe in an ecstatic utterance or a so-called private prayer language.  Did you know that the phrase “praying in tongues” never occurs in scripture?  It doesn’t – I just checked exhaustively through more than a dozen translations and in the original Greek.  I’m not trying to cause an argument, I’m trying to tell you to read what the Bible says for yourself.
I also believe in divine healing.  I have seen it.  I believe I have even experienced it in a small way.  What I do NOT believe in are “divine healers.”  You know, old so-and-so who has a “healing ministry.”  It is true that God is the Great Physician.  I think His earthly counterparts for healing become doctors, not preachers.  I even think the Bible gives us an example – Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and it’s sequel, the Book of Acts.
The danger of following the sign/gift ministry teaching that is connected with the prosperity preachers around today is that if you place your trust in them instead of God, you run a very high risk of buying into the deception that they speak.  The Scriptures describe them as “clouds without water, with hearts trained in greed.”  They are really only seeking to take advantage of people that do not know the Scriptures and maybe just need a little good news.  Don’t be in that crowd.
Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us your Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth as we cultivate our relationship with you.  Teach us Your truth, and teach us Your ways so that we might follow You more closely, for we pray in the name of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.
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