Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Who is he that saith, and it cometh to pass, when the Lord commandeth it not?”
“Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand.”
In the 1960’s, when Pentecostals had become so proud that God chose to by-pass them to reach people, many in the other “mainstream” denominations began receiving the baptism of the holy Ghost. These new converts were wealthier than typical Pentecostals of the time and, as a whole, were much more educated than typical Pentecostals of the time. It is not surprising that these believers came up with a new name for themselves, “Charismatics”, to distinguish themselves from their less sophisticated Pentecostal brothers. And it is not surprising that, after their conversion, these new and wealthier believers developed doctrines that were designed to protect or increase their earthly wealth.
One of these doctrines became known as the “name-it-and-claim-it” doctrine. With this new “name-it-and-claim-it” doctrine, one needed only speak the word and, presto, anything would be done and any desired object could be possessed. This new “charismatic” doctrine of simply speaking things into existence was used in many ways, but mainly it was used to gain earthly wealth and achieve success.
But there were problems. When Charismatics spoke things that did not happen, what were they to do? My Systematic Theology professor once said, “Brethren, if your doctrine does not match up with the facts, then it is time to get a new doctrine.” So, when Charismatics declared “in faith” that things would be, but those things did not happen, they should have re-thought their position and sought God; instead, they devised a back-up doctrine which insisted that believers must keep claiming it was true, no matter what the evidence was, until the thing happened – and that if you gave into the facts instead of holding on to your faith claims, then you were lacking in faith. As you might imagine, this led to some pathetic spectacles.
One young man in my hometown who succumbed to this weird doctrine jumped off a high diving board into deep water, claiming by faith that he could swim, when in fact he could not. Had it not been for some sinners with good sense who rescued him, he would have drowned. He told me he learned by that experience that the name-it-and-claim-it doctrine was not true. I congratulated him for at least having sense enough to learn. Others never did.
When Peter healed the lame man in Acts 5, the man was really healed; he was no longer lame but began “leaping and running and praising God.” During the heyday of the name-it-and-claim-it doctrine, however, I saw on television late one night a Charismatic healer tell a man with a damaged leg that he was healed. Then, the minister told the poor man to start walking “in the name of Jesus”. As the humble man struggled across the floor, still with a pronounced limp, the excited healer screamed out to the audience, “Do you see him limping? Do you see him limping? I don’t see him limping; I see him healed!” He wasn’t about to confess that the man was not healed, in spite of the obvious fact that he was not. He was in bondage to his name-it-and-claim-it doctrine. He had to confess that the lame man was healed, no matter what was truly the case.
But his confession was not of God. He did see the man limping, in spite of his claim not to, but his doctrine demanded that he not admit that. You see, if he confessed that the man was not healed, then he would feel condemned for confessing a negative thing, thus preventing the man from being healed. I know, I know. It makes no sense, but that is the way it worked.
I met one lady, whom I counseled after the fact, who confessed before her congregation, along with her dying husband, that he was healed of the hepatitis that he had contracted years before in Vietnam. But he was not healed. Nevertheless, she and her husband dared not cease from confessing he was healed lest they cause him to die. He gradually worsened, and in time, when his weary wife could no longer care for him alone, he was admitted into Duke Medical Center. There, he lapsed into a month-long coma, his wife still confessing he was healed. After a hard, long month of staying by her husband’s side, lovingly tending to his needs as best she could, the thoroughly exhausted lady whispered in his ear late one evening, “It’s OK. You can go now to be with Jesus.” She was tired of the struggle against reality. In just a few hours, he was dead.
Afterward, this sister felt condemned and scorned by some in her Church for telling her husband he could go on, as if her telling him he could go to be with Jesus caused his death. According to their Charismatic name-it-and-claim-it doctrines, her faith had failed her just at the moment her husband was going to pop up in the bed and say, “I am healed!” She had ruined everything with her unbelief. In her personal diary she wrote about her feelings of failure and condemnation. She considered the awful possibility that she really had robbed her husband of his moment of supreme triumph.
A poverty-stricken Christian minister in Oklahoma started all this nonsense, probably in the late 1950’s or so, when he discovered a scripture that he thought gave him authority to issue orders to angels to go bring him some money. The verse is in Hebrews 1:14, which says that angels are “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” Reading those words, this man reasoned that since he was “an heir of salvation”, and since the Bible declared that the angels were sent forth to minister for the heirs of salvation, then they were sent here to minister for him; that is, to do his bidding. There in the little chapel where he had been praying, he began commanding whatever angels happened to be with him in his place of prayer that day to go out and find him some money. And it worked. Money began to come in, and he became very famous for his doctrine which, in time, became known as the “name-it-and-claim-it” doctrine.
I was in one prayer service many years ago in which a couple confidently testified of commanding God to do something (I think it was to heal a child). I didn’t know much about God at the time, but I knew that was nuts. God doesn’t keep our commandments; we are to keep His. Men giving commandments to God’s angels sounds less nutty than men giving commandments to Almighty God Himself, but either way, it is unbiblical.
We do not live by our own word but by the word of God, and nothing man says makes anything true, unless that man is anointed by the holy Ghost to speak. Men can lie; God cannot. God’s word comes out of His mouth and holds the universe in place; the word of vain men comes out of their mouths and falls like a wet sock at their feet. Angels are moved only by God’s voice, and God is still mocking those who think differently, saying now as He said long ago through Isaiah, “Speak the word, and it shall not stand.” Or, as He indignantly spoke through me several years back now, “What difference does it make [to Me] what man says about anything? Am I confused by your delusions?” As I write those words which the Spirit spoke through me long ago, I can still feel the utter contempt of God for the proud claims of man and for the exalted religious titles they grant to one another, and it makes me know that we are nothing, our words are nothing, and that God alone has power to speak and have it count for anything.