False teachers

I have heard the Joel osteen, Kenneth Copeland , Joseph prince, TD Jakes and a few more are prosperity gospel preachers or false teachers.
Am I correct?

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Hello Daniel,

Yes you are indeed correct. The word of faith/prosperity gospel movement and the new apostolic reformation movement have many many teachers out there to include the ones you have mentioned. Their teachings are quite false, and anyone with a solid understanding and foundation in the Bible will be able to see this.

Unfortunately, there are many people who do not have that foundation, and are led astray by these false teachers. I will list a couple of resources below for you if you are interested in learning more about them, or sharing them with others you may know who have fallen into these teachings.

I hope that these resources will help you and pray that God will guide you to His word as you continue to learn and grow in Him. God bless you and thank you.

Resources:
Justin Peters Ministries: Justin Peters spends a lot of time researching and debunking the prosperity gospel and new apostolic reformation movements. He does this using a firm biblical foundation and the truth of Christ.

American Gospel - Christ Alone
This documentary is available in its entirety on Amazon Prime and also iTunes and other streaming services. It focuses on the Prosperity Gospel movement while its sequel, American Gospel: Christ Crucified, focuses on the new apostolic reformation movement. I will attach a preview of the Christ Alone documentary for you to check out and I hope that it will help you. God bless.

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The best resource I have is attached. Prayerfully consider what is written and the Scriptures that accompany. These have been helpful to me in discerning the false teachers in the world today.

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Excellent article, Duane - thank you!

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HI, Daniel. Could I maybe expand my response a little bit? As well as these “celebrity” and well known people there are even more planted throughout community churches as leaders throughout the world. So I am prayerfully thinking out loud your question and the specificity within. Would you share with me your thoughts on this question. If we had the knowledge that there were Mega “churches” in our world today being lead by false teachers what should be our first reaction and concern?

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Hello @htdaniel
I believe we should read every word of Scripture for ourselves.
The Holy Spirit will direct and educate as we persevere to do this. Christians have to rise up to this challenge.
Having said that, non of these celebrities are 100% bad or wrong.
I also agree with an above stated opinion that there is no perfect church on this side of eternity (@DuaneL)

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Hi @CathE, I think that’s an important point!

Every person is made in God’s image. So they have a sacred value.

It is rare to find anyone who is 100% bad or wrong.

For instance, we read in the Bible about Jonah’s story. Though he starts out going in the exact opposite direction than what God had personally commanded him to do, he ends up going to preach in Nineveh.

More related to this conversation, I think the testimony of Costi Hinn is remarkable:

He talks about his life while he was part of the prosperity gospel movement:

Prosperity theology paid amazingly well. We lived in a 10,000-square-foot mansion guarded by a private gate, drove two Mercedes Benz vehicles, vacationed in exotic destinations, and shopped at the most expensive stores. On top of that, we bought a $2 million ocean-view home in Dana Point, California, where another Benz joined the fleet. We were abundantly blessed.

But then as he studies the Bible, he comes to realize there are serious problems with what he has been supporting:

No longer did I believe that God’s purpose was to make me happy, healthy, and wealthy. Instead, I saw that he wanted me to live for him regardless of what I could get from him.

In an interview, Costi has a gracious, honest message for his uncle:

If you were going to give him a message what would you want it to be?

I would ask my Uncle Benny what many of our family members have asked him privately over the years, and it would be to consider the time he has left on this earth. To consider the goodness and grace of God, to consider repenting of his sin, turning from his track record of false teaching, and being an example of how the Gospel can transform anyone.

I would want him to hear me say that I hope he finishes well and that even if God changes us, in the end that still means that God changed us.

I think it is really important that we honor the dignity of each person.

At the same time, we do seek to offer a discerning approach to anyone who claims to be a teacher of God’s word. As James 3:1 says,

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

In light of this, my desire is that we can have a charitable but candid discussion of specific ways that prosperity preachers are offering a message that does not line up with the message of the Bible, without in any way being disrespectful.

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@CarsonWeitnauer hi
thanks for the reply. I actually followed the Benny Hinn story and if i remember correctly he confessed and repented. He even got back together with his wife so i sincerely hope all is well with him and that he truly saw the light.

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Thanks for your response on prosperity gospel.
Justin Peter don’t believe healing, ie physical healing, and speaking new tongue. What is your thought on this?

I believe they are false teachers because they take the scriptures out of context and some of them added words into the scriptures.

Hello Catherine,

I actually have just seen a video that covers that very topic on Benny Hinn. I will attach it here for you to see. While we pray every day that people like Benny Hinn do repent, it unfortunately seems that he has not truly repented of his ministry. Hopefully the video will help to shed light on that. God bless you and thank you.

Matthew

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Hello Daniel,

Justin Peters will tell you outright in many of his interviews and videos that he does indeed believe that God heals miraculously today. He does not, however, believe in the apostolic gift of healing. He explains clearly why in one of his videos I recently watched, I will attach it to this message so you can watch it. As for speaking in tongues, I cannot recall if I have heard him mention that gift specifically, however, I do know that he does not affirm the apostolic gifts in the Bible being given anymore. As I said he explains why in this video I have attached. I highly encourage you to watch it and see what you think. I hope that God will guide you in your search for the truth on this as only He can do. If you have any other questions, please let me know. God bless you and thank you.

Matthew

Hi @CathE,

I remain optimistic about anyone coming to repentance and obedience. After all, God continues to work on me! So that gives me hope that his grace will work in the lives of others.

A search of Benny Hinn’s website shows that as recently as January of this year he posted an article called, “The Coming Release of Blessings”.

Here are some quotes:

If we trust and obey Him, blessings untold are promised. If we don’t receive His Word and follow His guidelines, we step away from His overflow.

God says, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine” (Haggai 2:8). He created it all. He owns it all. He wants to bless you beyond measure.

God wants to bless His people so that they in turn can become a blessing to others.

Perhaps he is criticizing the prosperity movement in this section?

Often, we look to what God has provided us. The Israelites were guilty of doing this. They often looked at the daily manna that fell from heaven, but what God really wanted them to do was to look at Him, the Provider of the manna.

But overall, it appears to look exactly like the same prosperity teaching as before. For instance, he still concludes the article by saying:

We must do our part with what He has already placed in our hands. As the apostle Paul wrote:

“Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10).

And then there is a link to give to his ministry.

So with regret, I cannot conclude that Benny Hinn has clearly and consistently rejected the false teachings of the prosperity movement.

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hello @mmingus36
hello @CarsonWeitnauer thanks for your comment and all the info.
Matthew I watched the video - to the end. Thanks for adding it. My heart sank and it really saddened me because this is serious stuff. I mean I was wondering how he could be allowed to get away with so much deception -legally even. The heresies, false prophecies, prosperity gospel, fraudulent claims, gimmickry, pride and the list goes on. I actually read Good Morning Holy Spirit. I enjoyed it back then. The more I listened to Justin the more I came to the conclusion that it is imperative for Christians to read the Bible for themselves. Look to Jesus and stop giving pastors (with all due respect) so much power over their lives. This is also a problem today in many churches where poor people are being fleeced in the name of church. Of course i understand there’s no perfect church but Mr Hinn is pretty blatant. I wonder what happened to having fear and reverence for God.

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Hello Catherine,

Yes I agree. This stuff is very serious and it is absolutely heart wrenching to see the horrible effects that these ministries and false teachings have on people. It literally not only leaves people deceived, but in more cases than can be imagined, it also claims their very lives, physical and eternal.

Justin Peters has a lot of respect from me because he presents this stuff with a clear and concise biblical foundation. He speaks honestly to what is being done, but he also exhorts us to pray for these people. Both those who are falsely teaching these doctrines, and those who are being misled by it, and we most certainly should pray for them, passionately.

Giving your devotion to any man is never reasonable. The only one we should be devoted to is Christ, and He will lead us to seek those who teach the truth. You are spot on Catherine, we should be in the Bible every day feeding on the truth only He can give us. Through our study of His word and communion with Him in prayer, we can be better equipped to defend against those who teach false gospels, and also to pray for them that they will find true repentance through the Holy Spirit.

It is absolutely heartbreaking to see what these ministries do to people, but even the greatest evils, Christ can use for the good of His will. I pray for people like Benny Hinn and his followers a lot. It hurts to see such horrible deception taking place, but I believe that truly, in many cases, it is purely deception that has pulled these people into this. I hope that they all find true repentance and hope that everyone here will join me in praying for them.

I’m very glad that the video helped Catherine. I pray that God will continue to guide you through the power of His Holy Spirit, to seek the truth that is in Christ, to His glory. May God grant you wisdom as you seek the truth in His word. God bless you and thank you.

Matthew

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Hello Carson, I have loved your response. I am not sure whether I have heard you well though. You seem to say we should be respectful in the way we address and point out false teachers. A friend of mine however pointed out to me that Paul and Peter were not so polite when it came to false teachings. They somehow rebuked false teachers sharply. That was also the case with Jesus when addressing the Pharisees. Do you think they modelled for us the way to go about approaching false teachers?

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Hello Marion! Thank you for your post. I loved your question -

It is a good one. One we must all wrestle with, seemingly more than ever these days.

I thought about a person who gave false testimony multiples times in the Bible and Jesus’ shrewd (having or showing sharp powers of judgement; astute; having a clear understanding and good judgement of a situation, resulting in an advantage) response to him. Actually, Jesus didn’t say a word. He just looked at him. But it was enough to send him reeling. The man’s name is Peter and the desired and advantageous effect that resulted was repentance.

Sometimes kindness is the most painful and sternest rebuke of all. I know that from personal experience from all the times I said something unkind to my husband and he kept quiet or told me he loved me. Honestly, chewing me out would have made me feel better.

I think we must examine the spiritual landscape, our audience, scripture, current events and even history in order to know how to respond astutely. (Matthew 10.16) Not many could get away with Jonah’s eight word sermon (Jonah 3.4) that changed the course of a whole nation or approaching people with the conversation starters and social graces of John the Baptist. (Luke 3.7) There is certainly a time for rebuke under the leadership of the Holy Spirit and after God has gone before and laid the groundwork for its reception. The fruit of their ministry testifies to that.

Unfortunately, our history as Christians has not always been a good one. Not only are we charged with Kingdom advancement, but also reparation of the devastation we have left behind. It has been my observation from the things I have read that the landscape of Connect seeks to do both (advance and repair) so that “what is helpful for building others up according to their needs may [also] benefit those who listen” and that we would all become unified and mature in our faith. (Ephesians 4.13,29)

I would love to know your thoughts, Marion. Thank you again for your post!

Grace and peace to you,
mb

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Hi @wangoimarion15,

Thank you for this interesting and challenging question.

I am interested to hear what you think as well!

On the one hand, it is hard to suggest that Jesus, Paul, and Peter are not good role models for us to imitate.

On the other hand, we need to think carefully about the nature of our own role. After all, we are not the promised Messiah nor one of the two primary apostles in building the early church.

It is interesting to me what advice Peter provides for elders in 1 Peter 5:

I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

As I reflect on this passage, I appreciate that Peter is bold and forthright in talking about the devil and his work. This isn’t a wishy washy nice guy approach. At the same time, he asks the elders (and all in the church) to embrace an ethic of humility and service to others.

Consider also how gentle and tender Paul is with the Galatians. On the one hand he can forthrightly challenge them in chapter 3:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

This is certainly a strong rebuke. At the same time, moments later he writes in chapter 4:

I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain. Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 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.

What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?

They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

Paul is concerned that the Galatians not perceive him as their enemy because he tells them the truth. Rather, he shares quite vulnerably his own weakness, the trial he caused them, and the anguish it causes him to hear that they are walking away from the gospel and being formed into Christlikeness.

And Jesus, for all of his strong rebukes, on the cross can pray, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Perhaps if we are leaning towards offering strong rebukes of false teachers, we also need to imitate the humility, self-sacrifice, service, vulnerability, heartache, and love that Jesus, Paul, and Peter each demonstrated in their lives.

I think if anyone has a reputation for humble, self-sacrificial love, then they may be qualified to take on false teaching with stern words and clear warnings. Those who hear us speak will know that we have paid the price of love, over and over and over again. This will give them confidence that our hearts are not judgmental and arrogant even as we share a tough critique of those who oppose the gospel message.

Unless and until we have demonstrated a similar commitment to the good of others as our Lord and Savior, and these apostles, I think it would be wise for us to tip-toe in and seek to be respectful of one another even as we candidly share the truth with genuine kindness.

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Dear Daniel,
Thanks for asking and thanks to colleagues who have contributed to your question

Sharing few thoughts from my experience …
I have listened to all these preachers on a number of topics and (personally) I am yet to have a witness from scripture and from the Holy Spirit that brings me to the position that I would state that they are false prophets especially with regard to my understanding of 1 John 2: 21-23, 1 John 4:1-6. Also, I do know some Christians who listen to some of these preachers and can see the fruit of their lives which is consistent with scriptures.

So I have always wondered how to react when these issues are raised because Christians hold different views about the teachings of various Pastors, and all use the scriptures as the backing for their conclusions.
On one hand, we are admonished to try every spirit by scripture, however, it seems to me that in the process of genuinely keeping the scriptures, Christians in different places have had and do hold different beliefs and justifications about who is a ‘false prophet’ …

Regarding this matter, I once heard a Pastor say that it is important to differentiate what someome preaches that we might think to be wrong ( depending on how we understand scriptures etc) - Is it a question of someone erring in teachings on certain issues ( or if we or particular group of Christians think or believe so), or is it that the person is not preaching salvation through Christ Jesus ?

Having fellowshipped with Christians in different context, I realised that Christians perceive the teachings of various teachers quite differently. For eg I have heard some say Ravi is false ( with their reasons and scriptures). But then I have listened to Ravi, and I am thinking oh my …
The following scriptures have helped me when I find myself in such situations:
1Thes 5:21 (New Living Translation]
“but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good” as well as
1 Cor 4:5 “So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due”

Perhaps much more important that I am always challenged to intercede, that as the end draws near the body of Christ would be united in focusing on spreading the saving and foundational message which affects the eternal destinies of men - the Birth, Death, Ressurection and Return of our Lord Jesus. At the end Christ should be preached as Paul admonishes in
Philippians 1:15 -18
" But what does it matter, so long as either way, whether in pretense [for personal ends] or in all honesty [for the furtherance of the Truth], Christ is being proclaimed? And in that I [now] rejoice, yes, and I shall rejoice [hereafter] also.

Thanks again for prompting discussion on this topic

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Hello Mary, thank you for the feedback.
I personally wouldn’t be comfortable remaining silent in the face of false teaching. Currently I am in the process of trying to confront some dangerous teachings thay are not necessarily false but may result in false teaching. I however agree with you that there is need for the Holy Spirit going ahead of us so that we can be effective in reaching out with the truth.