Monday, September 15, 2008

Assemblies of God teach a false health "gospel"

The Heidelberg Catechism has this to say regarding the comfort of the Christian:

Question 1: What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him."

And John Piper has this to say regarding the health, wealth and prosperity "gospel":

However, one of the four "cardinal doctrines" of the Assemblies of God makes this bold assertion:

"Divine healing is an integral part of the gospel. Deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement, and is the privilege of all believers. (Isa. 53:4,5; Matt. 8:16,17; James 5:14-16)"

I could stop right there and you would know exactly what is wrong with this - but I am compelled to explain and place the nature of this false teaching beyond all doubt. Aside from their dubious views on "Holy-Spirit-Baptism" and tongues-speaking being the necessary evidence of this (and therefore of salvation - thereby destroying the doctrine of assurance, 1 John 5:13, John 3:18, Romans 4:18-25), this particular doctrine incontrovertibly shows that the Assemblies of God officially teaches the false health prosperity "gospel" which is no gospel at all.

Before continuing any further, I must clarify beyond any doubt that it is absolutely true, not only that God actually heals people today (possibly both by natural and special providence), but also that we are instructed to pray for healing as James 5:14-16 says (though the context suggests that this refers to an affliction of not being able to pray for oneself). Divine healing however is not an integral part of the gospel nor is deliverance from sickness the privilege of all believers, nor is it provided from in the atonement. This is a different "gospel" to one which the Spirit bears witness to in scripture. I also hasten to add that there will be eventual deliverance from sickness in that there will be no sickness in the new heavens and new earth (Rev 21:4).

The Gospel of God is exactly what Christ has done on the cross. This necessarily includes not only the work of Christ on the cross, but also the Person of Christ on the cross. His work was to purchase redemption by the payment of His blood for His people (Ephesians 1:7). His blood flowed to cleanse us from sin. He died in our place, so that we would be delivered from death. He bore the full wrath of God that was against us so that not a drop of the fury of God is left toward us. He bore in entirety the punishment for our sin that we deserved. By this perfect and eternally secure redemption, our full salvation is provided for, being as secure as the unchanging character of God, as sure as it is impossible for God to lie.

He could only accomplish this work by His Person, being the very eternally begotten Son of God; fully man and fully God, the one mediator between God and man, and our kinsman-redeemer; the descendant of Adam according to the flesh. He is also a priest forever in the order of Melchisedek; being Prophet, Priest and King, and having an indestructible life. He is the Sovereign Lord under whose absolute authority forever is everything that ever was and is and ever will be. He is the Holy One of Israel, the Great Jehovah, perfectly righteous in whom there is no iniquity even in His human nature; there is not a shadow of turning in Him and no darkness at all. He is full of grace and truth, full of mercy and justice, full of compassion and zeal, and many other glorious qualities which we could never be finished speaking of, but at this time suffice to say that He is unsurpassed and infinite in glory and beauty, and all glory is His.

He rose from the dead to conquer the power of death once for all, and to break all the power of sin in His people. He lives that we also may live in Him and share in His righteousness imputed to us by the bond of faith in Him alone which He works in our hearts by His Holy Spirit by His grace alone because He has removed the wrath of God from us. As a consequence, we are not only justified in the sight of God, being declared righteous by Christ's righteousness imputed to us, but by this faith we are also partakers of Christ and all His benefits.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:" - Ephesians 1:3.

We are adopted as children of God and no longer children of the devil. The very love that the Father has for the Son is the love He has for us, this is the love with which He loved us in election before the foundation of the world and made possible by the death and resurrection of our Saviour Jesus the Christ. Being reconciled to Him by His death, how much more are we saved through His life!

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures:" - 1 Co 5:1-4.

"For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." - 2 Co 5:21.

In the light of this glorious Gospel to which all of Scripture attests in all its glorious promises to all those who trust in Him alone and put no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3), which we have now discussed and described, we must now ask the question, does the atonement wrought by Jesus on the cross provide deliverance from temporal sufferings, hardships, sicknesses or difficulties? We have affirmed that we are delivered from the punishment of sin in that we have eternal life in fellowship with God, and from the power of sin in that though we still groan in our sinful bodies awaiting the redemption of our bodies and fall into grievous sins on occasion, but that in the present time by the Holy Spirit in us we are yet turning away from sin every day so that our conduct is one marked by a holy life lived in righteousness, submitting to our Lord in humility and godly grief and repentance when we do sin. Does this atonement also give us any promise of removing any of the temporal effects of sin on our lives such as sufferings and sicknesses or any kind of tribulation? The epistle of Paul to the Romans has this to say while speaking of what is provided for in the atonement:

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were ye without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." - Romans 5:1-11.

Not only is it clear here that God indeed helps those who cannot help themselves, in that we were without strength when Christ saved us, but it is also clear that we are to rejoice in tribulations. This is reiterated in many places in the Scriptures, which would take a far longer essay to expound fully in all their glorious encouragement for the called of God: James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:3-8, 2:19-25, 3:14-16, 4:12-16, Hebrews 10:32-37, 11:13-16, 24-27, 11:32-12:11, 13:10-15, 2 Timothy 3:9-13, 2:3, 1 Timothy 5:23, 1 Thessalonians 1:6, 3:1-7, Galatians 4:13-15. I could not even list all the Scriptures which speak of the sufferings of God's people, but these are listed to give a taste of what Scripture teaches on this subject.

These passages prove not only that God's people endure sufferings, including physical illnesses, but also that such sufferings are promised to God's people and not only that but that God brings them for the good of His people and for His glory. The grace of God toward us provided for all believers in the atonement then is not that we are delivered from these tribulations, but that we are delivered through these tribulations and even that these tribulations are used as part of the means of the application of this grace in our lives to conform us more to the image of Christ, that is they are part of the means of our sanctification. The grace of God does not remove these tribulations from us (though eventually it will, Rev 21:1-7) but upholds us and strengthens us through these many trials (included physical ailments) and even uses these to sanctify us. This is what the prophet Isaiah says:

"But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." - Isaiah 43:1-2.

This is repeated explicitly in the epistles, that we are delivered not from these troubles but through them:

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in time of need." - Hebrews 4:15-16.

"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

So then we can see how God's grace works in us, despite many infirmities to strengthen us for our good and for His glory that we might rejoice in Him even in our infirmities. And so we see that even in this the promise of Romans 8:28 holds true:

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." - Romans 8:28.

Our response then to all situations and calamities and infirmities and all manner of sicknesses and illnesses and disasters and tribulations should be that of Job and to fulfill the command in Philippians:

"Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." - Job 1:20-22.

"Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." - Philippians 4:4.

Now, to misunderstand the glory of God and the comfort of the believer in tribulations would perhaps be a small matter, but in the doctrine of the Assemblies of God, it is taught that divine healing is part of the Gospel and deliverance from sickness is provided for in the atonement and is the privilege of all believers. This is trying to add to the work of Christ on the cross and trying to add to the Gospel. It is therefore a false "gospel" and will therefore lead to false and deluded converts who will simply come in the hopes of being healed. But Christ says this to all who would follow Him:

"And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." - Matthew 10:38.

God gives us the grace to bear our cross until the final day, His grace does not mean that we have no cross to bear. We must openly declare the same to all who would believe in the Gospel, lest they deceive themselves. From all of this it is plain to see that to preach this doctrine of the Assemblies of God is heresy and a "false" gospel. Therefore with a heavy heart, I call all my friends to forsake this organisation and remove yourselves from it lest ye be ensnared by Satan to do his will and I beseech you all to take heed to the stern words of the Apostle Paul:

"I marvel that ye are so soon moved from the Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so say I now again, If any preach any other gospel unto you than that which ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be a servant of Christ." - Galatians 1:6-10.

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