Saturday, August 06, 2005

Refutation of City Harvest's "Divine Healing" Article (Part 1)

A detailed theological response to the article “Why Do We Believe In Divine Healing?” by Kong Hee of City Harvest Church Singapore (Issue 25, Harvest Times)

Kong Hee:
In the wilderness sojourn, when the children of Israel came to the bitter pool of Marah, God gave them a promise of His provision. God said, "I am the LORD who heals you" (Ex. 15:26). By saying that, God was showing another facet of His character and nature by revealing a new name: "I am Jehovah Rapha." The word rapha is Hebrew for physician, doctor or healer. God, in effect, was saying, "I am God your Healer. I am the cure of your diseases, the mender of your injuries, the repairer of your physical body." And that is the first reason why we should believe in divine healing—it is in God's nature to heal the sick.

The verse Exodus 15:26 must be viewed in context. The full verse is as follows: “He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you.’”

First of all, this is a conditional statement from God. God did not say that there will be no diseases no matter what, and therefore we cannot treat this verse as an absolute statement. God simply promised not to inflict the Israelites with any of the diseases that He brought on the Egyptians if the Israelites “keep all His decrees.” However, as we can see from the Old Testament, the Israelites failed to do so.

Secondly, God reinforced the warning to take away His blessings of health in Deuteronomy 28:22, if the people of Israel fail to obey the laws of the Mosaic Covenant. Deuteronomy 28:15,22 states: “However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you… The LORD will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish.”

Thirdly, this divine promise of health is only meant for those who were under the Mosaic Covenant, not for the Christians under the New Covenant. It falls under the blessings of the Mosaic Covenant, which include Deuteronomy 28:7 that states: “The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.” As we can see from the New Testament, the early Christians were persecuted by their enemies. We do know from history that most of the apostles were martyred. If the Old Testament promises of blessings are true, it would seem strange that the Christians in the New Testament did not experience them.

Kong Hee:
Consistency is a part of God's character. And God is so consistent and emphatic about divine healing that He repeats Himself on this again and again through the Scriptures. In Deuteronomy 7:15, Moses told the Israelites that diseases do not belong to God's people. He said, "And the LORD will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known."

Like Exodus 15:26, the verse Deuteronomy 7:15 is quoted out of context. The verse is totally dependent on the conditions set by God in the Mosaic Covenant. The blessings of health are only meant for those under the Mosaic Covenant, not for members of the New Covenant.

Kong Hee:
This truth was again repeated in Psalm 105:37, "He also brought them out with silver and gold, and there was none feeble among His tribes." It is worth pondering the fact that the people of God left the bondage of Egypt with silver and gold—wealth and abundance. And none of three million ex-slaves were sickly, frail or weak.

It is astonishing how Kong Hee tries to force the doctrines of the prosperity gospel into Psalm 105:37. While it is true that the people of Israel came out of Egypt “with silver and gold” and were not “feeble,” it bears no relation to the Christians who are under the New Covenant. This verse merely states a historical fact and we should leave it as that.

Kong Hee:
Too often, Charismatic churches are unfairly slammed for being shallow in embracing a "health and wealth" gospel. While unfortunate excesses and abuses have been propagated by a small minority, it doesn't negate the truth that God promises health and wealth to those who walk with Him. Without financial freedom and abundance, how are we going to finance missions and evangelism all over the world? And without good health, how are we going to become effective workers in His harvest field?

What truth? So far, Kong Hee has not conclusively proven that the blessings of health and wealth in the Old Testament apply to the members of the New Covenant.

In the New Testament, the gospel was preached to everyone, regardless of their status in society. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) If the prosperity gospel is true, does it mean that the Christian slaves were promised blessings of wealth? Were the apostles living as rich landowners? I do think so. 2 Corinthians 6:3-5 shows the Apostle Paul’s hardships: “We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger.”

Furthermore, Kong Hee is also approaching dangerously close to heresy with regard to the sovereignty of God in evangelism. Does one trust in “financial freedom and abundance” and “good health” for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached to the elect? Since when is health and wealth the criteria for preaching the gospel? Even the Apostle Paul was afflicted by an illness (Galatians 4:13). And it was “because of an illness” (not “despite an illness”) that Paul preached the gospel to the Galatians.

One must not neglect the fact that we as Christians are merely ordained instruments in the work of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is totally a work of God. For it is written: “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30) Those whom God predestined in the beginning will be saved, with or without our help. Even the faith that we have is a gift from God. It is written: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)

Kong Hee:
Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. He dwells within you. To the world, your hands are effectively Jesus' hands. Your feet are Jesus' feet. Your mouth is Jesus' mouth. If you are sick all the time, how are you going to provide for your family, excel in life, help the poor and needy, and be a powerful witness for Jesus Christ?

Being a “powerful witness for Jesus Christ” should be dependant on our knowledge of the Word of God, not on our health and wealth. As shown earlier, the Apostle Paul was neither healthy nor wealthy. Take for example, Apollos the Jew, who was “a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scripture” (Acts 18:24-25). He showed us evangelism is also about defending the gospel. In the book of Acts, Apollos was a “great help to those who by grace had believed” and “vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” (Acts 18:27-28) It is also written in 2 Timothy 3:15 that the knowledge of the Word of God is crucial “to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Kong Hee:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. (Ps. 103:2-5)

There are God-ordained benefits that we must never forget: (1) God is our Savior, (2) our Healer, (3) our Deliverer, and (4) our Provider. He "heals all your diseases" (103:3)! This doesn't mean we will never die. But it does mean that we can age gracefully, staying as strong and as healthy as humanly possible way into our old age.

One must note that the Psalms are not a list of divine promises that God have to deliver, but a list of reasons to praise God. While it is true that God “forgives all your iniquities,” does it also follow that God heals every Christian of all diseases? As we can see from the Bible and the history of Christianity, He does not.

We can also look at Psalm 103:2-5 as referring in part to the eternal life of the elect in Heaven. In verse 4, it is written: “Who redeems your life from destruction.” The word “destruction” in Hebrew is shachath. According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions, the word is defined as “1) pit, destruction, grave 1a) pit (for catching lions) 1b) pit (of Hell).” All of us deserved to go to Hell, but God gave some of us eternal life in Heaven. Since the elect would have their resurrection bodies in Heaven, the resurrection bodies would fulfill the phrase “Who heals all your diseases.” It is written: “who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:21)

Let’s think about it for a moment. Assuming that the healing of all diseases is true, if the gospel requires faith in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, which grants us the immediate forgiveness of sins, we should be immediately healed of all diseases. If the forgiveness of all sins by God is instantaneous upon faith, the healing of all diseases by God should also be instantaneous. We should not need to wait for physical healing to occur in stages.

Kong Hee:
Critics of divine healing or proponents of the cessation theory would claim that supernatural healing and health were confined only to the Old Testament or Gospel era. Now that we have doctors, hospitals and advanced medical technology, God doesn't find it necessary to heal people supernaturally anymore. To that, my rebuttal is: "If the people of God in the Old Testament, under the old covenant, could have healing, good health and prosperity, how much more we believers of the new covenant. We now have Jesus in our hearts, the Holy Spirit in our lives. We should enjoy healing and good health even more!" Otherwise, how could we qualify the new covenant to be a better covenant than the old (Heb. 8:6)?

Up till now, Kong Hee neglects to mention that health and wealth in the Mosaic Covenant are conditional upon the people of Israel obeying the covenantal laws.

Furthermore, Hebrews 8:6 is quoted out of context. The verse does not imply anything about health and wealth. The question is: why is the New Covenant a better covenant? Hebrews 8:8-12 quoted Jeremiah 31:31-34, which gives us the answer: “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts… For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

When we look at the next chapter of Hebrews, the author shows us that it is the blood of Christ that makes the New Covenant a better covenant. It is written: “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12) Health and wealth are not mentioned at all

Kong Hee:
Healing is definitely in the atonement. Isaiah 53 is a prophecy foretelling the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the great exchange that would take place through the cross.

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (Is. 53:4)

In the original Hebrew text, the word "griefs" literally means sicknesses and diseases, while "sorrows" literally means physical pain. Isaiah goes on to say in the next verse that "by His stripes we are healed" (53:5). And in keeping with the context, the word "healed" means to be made well physically in our body.

If one has a Hebrew dictionary, it is apparent that Kong Hee is not showing his readers the whole picture. The Hebrew word for “sorrows” is “mak'ôb / mak'ôbâh.” According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions, the word could denote pain in a physical or spiritual sense.

Anyway, Matthew 8:16-17 shows that the first half of Isaiah 53:4 was not referring to the substitutionary atonement at all. It is written: “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.'" It is clear that Isaiah 53:4 was only prophesizing about Jesus Christ’s healing ministry. Therefore, it is important that we should not confuse Jesus’ healing ministry with the substitutionary atonement. When we move on to Isaiah 53:5, that is where the issue of the substitutionary atonement is dealt with.


Blogger wannabdoc said...

i may not be as steeped in theology as you but i do feel that you can look at the many examples of healing and casting out of demons in the new testament as proof that we are indeed give authority over illnesses and demons and what not. i also believe that we can pray for healing to come upon us, but as all prayer requests, it is up to God to answer.

8/8/05 10:24 PM  
Blogger Yaevlejunce said...

So, Mr Smarty-Pants Calvinist, tell me who does all the healing at healing crusades and in churches all around the world?

[Let me warn you before you reply - blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the only unforgivable sin.]

14/8/05 7:18 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Hi beowulf,
Well said, I totally agree with most of the articles that you've written.
We're living in the end days and there's a need to be discerning about what is biblical and what is not. There're just too many false preachers out there and those who claimed to be Christians but are not. I'm someone from a Bible Presbyterian Church.

14/8/05 10:49 PM  
Blogger Yaevlejunce said...

Mr Calvinist, you STILL have not answered me - WHO does all the healing at healing crusades, churches and cell groups all around the world?

15/8/05 5:09 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

Let me start off by saying that God is sovereign over everything. God is sovereign over good and He is sovereign over evil. All sufferings come under God's sovereignty. There are probably genuine healings and there are fake healings. I would not discount the possibility that God actively heals today.

However, does performing healings indicate that the miracle healer is the servant of God? No, it doesn't. The Bible tells us that "false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles." (Matthew 24:24)

So how do we validate that a healer is genuinely of God? It is by his teachings. We must test his teachings against the Word of God (1 John 4:1).

In 2 Timothy 4:3, it is written: "For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."

15/8/05 5:28 PM  
Blogger Yaevlejunce said...

OMG. You obviously have the complete wrong idea of divine healing.

It's NOT the servant of the Lord, (i.e. pastors/people) who heals, it's GOD Himself!

The servants are there to administer healing. Without God letting him to, the servants cannot do anything.

Like you've said, we have to discren the teachings with the Word. So what's wrong with the teachings of Divine Healing the CHC way?

God is Jehovah Rapha in the Old Testament - the God who heals.

Jesus said that He is the same yesterday, today and forever more.

Put these 2 together and what do you get? You get the FACT that God is the God who heals - TODAY as much as He was in the Old Testament times.

Now, I've quoted from the Bible. It's the Bible itself - show me where I'm wrong if you can.

Things like divine healing can only come from two sources - God or the devil. Which is it, in your opinion?

Is CHC leading people AWAY from God that you dare to say their healing is of the Devil?

And if their healing is not of the devil, then it MUST be from God (for how can men heal with their mere selves?). So then, why have you posted such a defamatorial post?

15/8/05 9:53 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

Yaevlejunce, please read my article carefully. I have already proved how Kong Hee quoted Exodus 15:26 out of context.

17/8/05 7:46 PM  
Blogger nartz said...

hey, i think this is a great article and its great to know that there are still discerning people out there with the ability to write like you do and to also provide theological insight on matters as such. i am particularly bothered at how Christianity that is mushrooming in singapore today seems to be flawed to a great extent and its great, that you came up with an article like that. :)(i'm a bp too. haha.)

27/8/05 3:25 AM  
Anonymous bad_sinner said...

was reading the comment thread....

yaevlejunce, there's no need to be worked up....beowulf was just pointing out possible misconceptions there could arise to help's not a defamation but rather I think beowulf has a strong desire to stand for the truth.....we should not judge one another too quickly.

We have different convictions but I believe everyone here loves the Lord.

One must not overlook the fact that there are people out there who may not have beowulf's intellectual capacity but believes in God due to their personal encounters with Him that others know not of.

As believers in the Lord, we should pray for one another, especially those who might fall into trespass. Let's not take sides and grieve the Spirit of God.

HE LOVES ALL OF US no matter how well we know Him or how strongly we believe in certain things.


24/12/05 11:21 AM  
Blogger Terence said...

To Beowulf:

I am tremondously saddened by your blog.

How much energy are you putting into refuting megachurches? Probably alot. Looking at the amount of theological research that you put in.

Are you so quick into condemning megachurches as the works of the devil, as false prophets and workers for the devil?

You claim theological superiority over the prosperity gospel, over the teachings of my church. Mind you, it is not because we charismatics have no theological depth to refute you. It is simply because we are putting our time and energy into other areas, like evangelism for example. I would go into an intensive bible study with the specific purpose of refuting you, but I find I have other, more important things to do. But I just might.

Mind you, do not blaspheme the Holy Spirit, as yaevlejunce have warned you so many times. Are you going to discount the work that God has done in megachurches? Are you going to dismiss us as Satan's work? Think of the lives that has changed. Think of the fruits that have resulted. Think of the hearts that have turned towards Jesus.

It is obvious that you are a person of the books, intelligent and discerning. I commend your attempts to be adherers of the Bible. But not everyone is like you. Not everyone is interested in theology. Not everyone are intellectuals. Try preaching about Pre-destination and post-melleniumism to Hollywood actresses, singers and prostitutes. They'll be bored to death. Someone needs to reach out to different groups of people, with the right approaches.

Look at Jesus. He certainly didn't go into a 3 hour long lecture on theology. No doubt He was full of theological depth, yet he preached in the market language that ordinary people could understand. Think the parable of the talents and the parable of the sower and his seed.

Let's not waste our energy. Beowulf, I urge you, don't waste your time. Disagreements are a sure thing within the Body of Christ, and of course we should contemplate about these issues. But let us not be distracted by our true purpose of being here on Earth. Our goal the Great Commission, not the Great Division.

25/12/05 10:36 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

I must disagree with you on “our true purpose of being here on Earth.” The Westminster Larger Catechism aptly puts it this way: “What is the chief and highest end of man? Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.”

To glorify God is our chief purpose. And how to we do that? We do that by obeying the first and greatest commandment stated in the Bible. That is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” The second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

If we are to obey Matthew 22:37-39, we must strive to follow the Word of God. The Great Commission is one of the many commandments in the Bible that must be obeyed. However, please do not confuse the Great Commission with our true purpose. The Great Commission leads to our true purpose, which is to glorify God. I would say that in order to “love your neighbor as yourself,” there is no avoiding the Great Commission since the greatest gift of love you can give to your neighbor is the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do bear in mind that “love the Lord your God… with all your mind” comes first and foremost. If we are to truly love God, we must “worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24) To play down the importance of biblical truths in order to promote superficial unity is to disobey the greatest commandment.

Contrary to what you wrote, neither time nor energy is wasted when we defend biblical truths. The Word of God warns us of deceivers: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) And “for the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3) Hence, it is written: “You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.” (Titus 2:1)

Evangelism and biblical truths goes hand in hand together. One cannot do without the other. If you do not study the Word of God and learn how to discern between false teachings and the true gospel, then how would you know if you are not guilty of spreading the false gospel? For instance, Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses are well known for their sincerity and zeal in evangelism. These cults could produce documents filled with statistical evidences of “lives that have changed” and “fruits that have resulted.” The same goes for religions such as Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.

So do we use statistics as evidence of God’s stamp of approval? Of course not.

God is absolutely sovereign over both good and evil. Just as God can use evil rulers in the Bible to accomplish His purposes, He can also make use of false apostles and false teachers as instruments to bring people to the saving knowledge of Christ.

And by the way, when Jesus preached in parables, many people do not understand His teachings. Please refer to Matthew 13:10-17. “The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them."”

It is our duty to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, not to arbitrarily decide which biblical truth is important or to dumb down the gospel. Just as Jesus revealed the meaning of His parable to His disciples, so would God open the hearts of the people after the message of the gospel is preached. You are mistaken if you think “Hollywood actresses, singers and prostitutes” would believe because of Man’s work in dumbing down the gospel. An unbeliever does not go to hell because someone made a mistake of preaching a “complex” gospel to him. It is God, not Man, who regenerates the hearts of men to produce faith and repentance.

26/12/05 3:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi people,

I'm still a new believer so pardon me if I can't quote from the Bible as well as some of you out there. But I have read Corinthians and in that book, Paul has warned of division within the Body Of Christ. While it is good that we reflect on the teachings and meditate on the Word Of God, let's not let this divide us.

I will speak plainly, most of us here know that we have only one common enemy, Satan and that he is always on the prowl. Jesus himself said that "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined and every city or household divided against itself will not stand" Regardless of demonination, we all follow Jesus, don't we? So take heed that while it is fine and okay to debate over theological issues, do not let this divide us.


28/12/05 5:54 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

When the Apostle Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, he was not writing against divisions due to theological issues, but instead dealt with the issue of following mere men like Apollos, Paul and Cephas (1 Corinthians 1:10-17).

Sound doctrine must always be taught according to Titus 2:1. When the truth of the gospel is compromised, the Apostle Paul did not hesitate to speak out against false teachings.

In Galatians 2:4-5, the apostle wrote,

"This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you."

You have quoted Matthew 12:25 "Every kingdom divided..." But don't you know that Jesus was referring to the kingdom of God (v.28)? The kingdom of God is the spiritual and invisible church that only God Himself knows. This spiritual kingdom cannot be divided.

However, what you are referring to are the visible churches, which we have no way of telling whether they belonged to the invisible church, except by testing their doctrines against the Word of God. Do not ever confuse the earthly visible churches with the true invisible and indivisible church of Christ.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)

How do we know the will of the Father? By going back to the Word of God. Truth must prevail over everything else, including so-called ecumenical unity, which is certainly not taught in the Bible.

28/12/05 8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno who you think you are: I am sure you are not a Believer...even if you are one, i can be sure you came from a " Self-Righteous Church " which do not believe in anything the Bible is telling us nor trusting God. TO you, everything is theroy...I suggest that you seek for the holy spirit which should be still inside you (if you are a believer!)..

30/12/05 11:43 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

I am astonished that you refer to study of the Word of God as "theory."

Isn't it written, "All Scripture is Godbreathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

If one truly obeys the Word of God, one would heed the following verse,

"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)

How do we "test the spirits?" By doing what the Bereans did in Acts 17:11, who "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."

31/12/05 9:08 AM  
Anonymous Ignatius said...

Some thoughts on Terence post on 25/12/05 10:36 PM . As to whether one is condemning megachurches as the works of the devil, one should look at the evidence presented! Putting energy & effort into theological research isn’t wrong at all! As long as it is biblical, it has to be accepted. Refuting errors in Charismatic teaching isn’t wrong. Who says so? Who says evangelism is more important than biblical truth. If the foundation of our faith is incorrect, we lead people into NOTHING! I believe beowul doesn’t want to refute you, pointing out biblical inconsistencies is what is more important. While I do not believe that healing of God has ceased, I also agree that not all healings come from God! If we love God & dares to point out our most sincere beliefs, I believe this would not be a blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Whether “yaevlejunce have warned beowul so many times” isn’t important, if beowul is correct in pointing biblical truths, which I think he has done so quite level-headed, beowul should continue pointing incorrect & unclear non-biblical teaching. Whether the teaching is from CHC or any other mega churches isn’t the point, the point is if a senior pastor has erred, he has to admit, or defend his case! Refuting errors doesn’t mean we are too free to have nothing to do. We have better things to do than arguing, but if it is a biblical truth, time should not be seen as wasted. Theology is not something remote! Theology is simply what we believe of the Christian Faith. It is simply the teachings of the bible. Nothing complicated! … & one need not be an intellectual to be a theologian. Jesus said one should not conform to the world. One should not preach to arouse interest, (This is not Hollywood entertainment.) but to communicate God’s eternal truth. If a teaching I part of the bible, it should be preached. Being selective in preaching shows one’s unfaithfulness in being God’s servant of the WORD, his eternal truth! I agree with you that “to reach out to different groups of people” , “with the right approaches” is important, but the right content shouldn’t be neglected also!!
Yes, Jesus didn't go into a 3 hour long lecture on theology, but he didn't go into a 3 hour long healing session also. (Pls prove that I’m wrong.) But remember, he’s God, & though his life, one learns. … Jesus lives by examples, but as fallen human, we are incapable of doing so, this is done through preaching.
Last of all, energy & time isn’t wasted in defending biblical truth. Yes, disagreements are a sure thing, but neither can biblical truth be compromised. You said that “we should contemplate about these issues”, & beowul did. As we contemplate about these issues, we write them out to organise our thoughts. If you think it is wrong, you can refute, but it should have biblical support.
Thank the Lord, I agree with you “Our goal the Great Commission, not the Great Division”. But the Great Commission is so as to have people repent, to look to God, & not to preach jokes & humor to entertain them. (these can be sought elsewwhere) If we compromise truths I order not to bore people, the church has lost its purpose.

2/1/06 12:36 PM  
Anonymous Terence said...

Yes, we should be grounded in the Word. Yes, we should present theological evidence agaisnt so-called deviant doctrines. Yes, I totally agree with you. These things should be done!

But, the question is, are we channeling the right energies in the right areas??? Look, the point is this: it is not up to us to judge who belongs to the kingdom of Satan and who belongs to God. Let God be the judge. You have your arguements and we have ours. you can refer to the Bible but so can we. The debate will rage on and on but who will benefit? I certainly won't.

About Biblical support, I would provide it, if I have the time that is. i would write out a carefully researched piece that would defend prosperity gospel etc. etc. I realized if that's what is needed to convince you guys. But I don't have the time! Maybe someday, when I'm more freed up(I'm serving NS mind you).

About preaching the gospel: note that there's a difference between discipleship and evangelism. Evangelism comes first, followed by discipleship. Unbelievers don't need deep theological expositions. They need the gospel, presented as simply and as theologically sound as possible. Engaging unbelievers in an interesting way does not mean that the truth will be compromised. If you preach and your congregation falls asleep, why bother preaching at all? Not everyone is a mature believer you know.

God gave us a sense of humour. God HAS a sense of humour. God made things beautiful and pleasing to the eye. God gave us the ability to enjoy and have fun. Who says that we can't enjoy ourselves and gain a revelation about God's Word at the same time? I enjoy reading the Bible. I enjoy praying. I enjoy going to church. Church is entertaining to me. Yet can you say that I'm not serious when it comes to getting in depth into the Word?

I know that the truth has to be uncompromising and has to cut to the heart. That is why as believers, we need to move from 'milk' messages like "God loves you" or "Prosperity" to messages that deal with sacrifice and laying down your life for God and sanctification etc. etc.(the solid meat).

If a pastor preaches a feel-good sermon during service, does it mean he has neglected theological depth? No! It just mean that in depth discipleship and bible study is done behind-the-scenes, at formal bible study lessons organized during weekdays and before/after service, where outsiders don't see.

8/1/06 10:23 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

I agree with you that the gospel must be presented as simply and as theologically sound as possible. However, I would like to add another condition. The gospel must be presented in its complete form, without adding or removing any doctrine from its message.

So what is in the gospel of Jesus Christ? Let me give you a simple example: the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity concerns the fundamental nature of God. Do we need to include this doctrine in our presentation of the gospel or can we discard this doctrine because it is too “complicated” or “boring” for an unbeliever? Do note one of the major doctrines that separate true Christians from cults such as Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses is the doctrine of the Trinity. Therefore, it is important that this doctrine must be included otherwise the gospel is incomplete.

As you can see, the fundamental nature of God is essential to the gospel. If you get the fundamental nature of God wrong, you are basically preaching a false gospel. We must “worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24) If your doctrine of God is wrong, you would be guilty of breaking the second commandment.

And how about the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ? Is that important? Of course it is. There is no gospel without the doctrine of the atonement. Can we preach the gospel while leaving out the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins or the doctrine of eternal life? Most definitely not. It is obvious that you would be preaching a false gospel.

Now, why did I bring up the doctrine of God and the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ? The simple reason is because these doctrines are essential to the gospel. If you pervert and deviate from these doctrines, you are preaching a false gospel. And that is the main issue with the prosperity gospel.

The prosperity gospel has misrepresented the fundamental nature of God and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. On the fundamental nature of God, the prosperity gospel undermines the sovereignty of God and turns Him into nothing more than a genie in a bottle, where God accedes to every material and healing requests of the believer. Faith is put on faith rather than faith is put on God. Thus, the doctrine of God is perverted. On the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, to teach material blessings and health in the atonement is to pervert the work of Christ on the cross, thereby preaching a false gospel. This false doctrine mocks the apostles, the martyrs and all the believers who have endured persecutions and sufferings for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel that the prosperity teachers preach is not the gospel found in the Word of God. I would not hesitate to call it a false gospel because of its doctrine of God and its doctrine of the atonement.

It is not my habit to denounce anyone as belonging to the “kingdom of Satan.” I have not done so and I am not obsessed with seeing the Devil in every activity. However, it is my duty to test all things and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It is my duty to urge misguided believers of the prosperity gospel to turn away from the false gospel and turn to the gospel of Jesus Christ found in the Word of God. We are called to “make disciples” of the gospel of Jesus Christ, not of the false gospel of prosperity.

9/1/06 9:18 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

You have your arguements and we have ours. you can refer to the Bible but so can we. The debate will rage on and on but who will benefit? I certainly won't.

About Biblical support, I would provide it, if I have the time that is. i would write out a carefully researched piece that would defend prosperity gospel etc. etc.

By all means, study the Word of God and discover the truth for yourself. However, you must know that careful attention must be adopted in handling the Scriptures. This is not just the matter of pitting your verses against mine, but understanding verses in their entire context.

I have examined the verses the prosperity teachers appeal to, and I must say that these people are weak in the area of systematic theology. In case you do not know, systematic theology can be defined as “a branch of theology which deals with the logical categorization of Biblical truths by tracing the self-revelation of God through the Scriptures as a whole and then carefully organized by doctrine.”

Basically, systematic theology assumes no contradictions in the Word of God. Its aim is to harmonize all the verses in the Bible. If you want to defend the prosperity gospel, do make sure you keep this in mind. Examine whether these “prosperity” verses are quoted out of context. If you find that your interpretation of a verse contradicts a clear statement somewhere else in the Bible, then it is obvious that your interpretation is wrong.

I am confident that adhering to the theology of the prosperity gospel would result in making a mess of the Bible. The Bible would be a mass of contradictions. Prosperity teachers have to stretch and distort verses out of their intended meanings in order to make these verses conform to their teachings.

There is no point bringing up more “prosperity” verses when the valid objections I have raised are not directly answered. I believe my objections cannot be refuted because the prosperity gospel is based on an inherently flawed hypothesis. Learn to discipline yourself in your study of the Word of God and perhaps you may discover what the rest of us have already known.

9/1/06 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Terence said...

Point taken about preaching the gospel with the correct doctrine. Yes I agree with you. So do with agree with me that the gospel should be and can be preached in an interesting, engaging manner that is theologically sound? Yes, the trinity is important in the gospel: God the Father sent down God the Son to die for us on the cross to atone for our sins. Subsequently, as believers, we can receive the Holy Spirit, which will guide us in all things. Well, that summarizes how I preach the gospel.

But I have to disagree with your stand on the prosperity gospel. The prosperity gospel does not turn God into "nothing more than a genie in a bottle, where God accedes to every material and healing requests of the believer." Where did you get that from? I believe in the prosperity gospel, yet I do not believe a single ounce of that statement.

THE fundamental verse of prosperity gospel is Matthew 6:33 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." What does "these things" refer too? Looking at the verse in context, we find that it refers to our daily needs: clothing, food, shelter and of course, the money to purchase these things. So what the verse is saying is this: That if we seek God first and his righteousness in our lives, God will provide for our needs!

So God does NOT answer to our every whim and fancy! We answer to God! We can be sure that God will provide for us and bless us when we are righteous before God and if we are living in God's divine will. Verse 34 talks about ceasing to worry about our finances and our needs, because God will provide for us! This is what the prosperity gospel is about!

Then what does verse 19-24 say? That we cannot serve 2 masters. But does this mean God and Money are contradictory things? No! In verse 24, it says that "we cannot serve two MASTERS." That means we can only serve God or Money. But this does not mean that we cannot HAVE or master money. It just means that we cannot let money control us! If God is in control, money can become a great way to finance God's work!

Having established that 1) God is definitely our Provider if we are righteous, and that 2) God and Money are not contradictory but are in fact complimentary, with money being a tool for God's Kingdom, let us look at Mark 10.

This verse chapter talks about the rich young man who was told to sell everything and follow Jesus. But he couldn't. Jesus remarked that it is hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God. Many people when they look at this verse will think that Jesus wants us to be poor, that being rich is a sin! That is a misconception. The rich young man couldn't follow Jesus because he trusted in his riches and not in God! He could not believe that God will provide for him! Reference this with Matthew 6:33 and you'll see what I mean.

So what about the rich entering heaven? Jesus says, "With man it is impossible, but with God it is possible." Jesus is not condemning the rich. No doubt, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." But isn't it true for every other sinner as well? The liars? The prostitutes? The rich can enter heaven. But what does it take? Forsaking all, trusting God with everything, and following Him. With God’s forgiving grace, every sinner can have a chance to enter Heaven.

Now let us look at Mark10:29-30:

"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.”

These two verses talks about our rewards for forsaking all and following Him. What are our rewards? Eternal Life definitely. But not just that. God promises rewards IN THIS PRESENT AGE, which are a hundred times more than what we gave to God (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions)! Persecutions! Godly rewards come with persecution no doubt!

There are two ways to become prosperous and wealthy. 1) Do it the worldly way. This is what Matthew 3:19 talks about, to “STORE UP for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Or, we can choose to do it 2) The GOD way. This means to forsake all and follow him. To submit your finances to God, to seek after Him and His heart and let Him be our master. God will then prosper us, as a result of our obedience and sacrifice towards Him. It is one thing to run after money. It is another to run after God, and then letting money run after us.

Jesus is clear about money. Money is not evil. But rather, the desire for money is the root of all evil. It is greed, covetousness and selfishness that causes us to hoard money. What does the Old Testament say about money? Let us look at this character called Job.

“In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.” (Job 1:1-3)

So who is Job? Firstly, he is a blameless and upright man. Secondly, he is rich with a capital R. I wonder how many rich Christians today have undergone the persecutions of so-called Christians who condemn them just because God has blessed them tremendously? I wonder what the media would slander about Job if he lived today?

Nonetheless, God decided to test Him. With God’s permission, the devil took away everything he had: his sons and daughters, his wealth, his possessions. To cut the long story short, his friends and even his wife spoke against him, trying to condemn him while Job insisted his righteousness. In the end, God intervenes, tells Job about his mistakes, and Job repents.

But what happens in the end? God prospers him even more! In Job 41:10, it says, “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” So what this story illustrates is this: that righteousness brings about wealth and abundance!

This is an established pattern in the Bible. The nations of Israel and Judah prosper when its people are righteous. But when they sin against God, punishment and wrath comes. King Solomon, when he was righteous for God, sought wisdom, but he ended up getting wisdom plus prosperity. Adam and Eve had the Garden of Eden before they disobeyed God. But after that all they had was barren land. God saved Noah and destroyed everyone else, effectively giving the whole earth to Noah and his family.

This is the essence of the prosperity gospel. It is not a get-rich scheme. It is not a vehicle for conniving preacher-impostors to earn a profit. It is the truth of God’s Word. It is a doctrine deeply rooted in the Bible, it portrays God’s very nature. God wants to prosper us. He wants us to be rich and wealthy. But the question is this: who or what are we seeking?

So here it is. The Word of God, line upon line, precept upon precept.

9/1/06 11:53 PM  
Anonymous Ignatius said...

Responding to Terence (8/1/06 10:23 PM ), As Rev. Kong Hee said, “Consistency is a part of God's character.”(which I agree), mine argument & your argument shouldn’t be contradicting! Yes, both of us can refer to the bible, but there is only one truth. One bible can’t possibly be produce two truth (this is a contradictory in terms also. How can there be two truth?). It is true that the bible is not very clear on certain topics, such as baptism. There are both strong views for & against infant baptism. However, both sides of the views are accepted in the Church (at least in the Protestant Evangelical branch of the Church). However, teachings on prosperity gospel is more controversial. Proponents of prosperity gospel have yet to be been convincing in building a strong biblical case.

In the gospel, when Jesus prays, we can see that “prosperity gospel” has never been Jesus’ agenda. In the Lord’s Prayer, for example, the first three petitions deal with God and the last three with us. This pattern indicates that disciples should have more concern for God than we do for ourselves. We should put His interests first in our praying as in all our living. For example, "Your kingdom come, your will be done” (Matthew 6:10) points to the need to recognize the sovereignty of God. Even in the last three in the petitions of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:11-13, the prayer center around the issues of regeneration, justification, and sanctification. Jesus commanded His disciples to bring their personal needs to God in prayer. The first three petitions stand alone, but the last three have connecting "ands" that bind them together. We need all three of these things equally; we cannot get along without any of them. So from verse 11-13, we have “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation (Greek: peirasmos), but deliver us from evil.” (ESV)

As you pointed out, not everyone has the luxury of time. There are many with long working hours & some have NS. “formal bible study lessons organized during weekdays and before/after service, where outsiders don't see” also means that some/many don’t go! We can’t really blame them as they may have no other choices. Very often, they are also the ones who need the most to go! When “in depth discipleship and bible study” is “behind-the-scenes”, most often less people are involved/ participate. Thus, less people benefit from it.

On the point “Unbelievers don't need deep theological expositions”, while there is an element of truth in it, there are times when unbelievers do not believe/ are skeptical because of certain biblical passages, such as the Genesis account of creation (vs. the evolution theory) in the bible. Here, theological expositions can help clarify doubts. Whether this theological exposition is deep or not isn’t the point. What one perceives as deep may not be so to others. Most importantly, it needs to help unbelievers (believers would too benefit) understand the bible better. Yes, I agree that unbelievers need the gospel. But, every preaching should point towards the gospel, even if the text where the sermon is based is not from the gospel. For example, Edmund P Clowney has written a Preaching Christ in all of Scripture in which he rightly pointed out that all preaching should point towards Christ.
I agree with you that the gospel should be presented simply, but “simply” refers to the way of explaining, and not the content itself. For example, we should ask what is in the gospel of Jesus Christ? Simply put, it is the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. It is the message of the cross. However, as Reformed Theologian Leanne Van Dyk pointed out, “The cross cannot be understood without accompanying doctrines of the incarnation, trinity, and resurrection. It cannot be understood without a supporting doctrine of creation, sin, Holy Spirit, and eschatology. The full panoply of Christian doctrinal resources is necessary for a fully adequate atonement theology.” If one considers these doctrines to be “deep”, then the pastor has to make these doctrines understandable (put it across simply) without compromising (without simplifying the content).

For example, the doctrine of original sin is important in understanding the gospel. However, in the history of the church, Pelagius is erroneous in his understanding of the doctrine of original sin. Pelagius rejected the teaching of the Church concerning the original sin and its consequences for the man. He restricted the influence of original sin only to Adam and Eve, but even for them he did not include the death as a consequence of the original sin. He considered original sin as a mere bad example for the generations to come. He couldn’t accept infant baptism & reasoned that man can achieve his salvation using his free will. However, we know that salvation does not come by human will, nor by human wisdom, but by God’s Grace. For us toady, if the doctrine of original sin is not taught or not taught clearly, the gospel would be misrepresented or lead to misinterpretation.

Content that is “deep” doesn’t necessarily mean boring. It can be stated in a simple, provocative & humorous manner. Similarly, “simple” content doesn’t necessarily mean it’s understandable or humorous. In the process of simplifying the bible’s (or sermon’s) content, certain crucial message may be lost, misunderstandings may arise, thus making the biblical message seems confusing!

I agree not everyone is a mature believer you know, but if there is no in-depth theological expositions of the bible texts, believers would never grow. This is why there are so many Christians who after going to church for years (even decades) have become unbelievers! Certain depth is also needed in the treatment of certain passages in the bible OR for the treatment of certain issues (such as the problem of suffering, e.g. the Tsunami). Simplistic argument very often fail to convince.

If the congregation loves the Word of God, they would not fall asleep even when the preaching is boring or difficult to understand. If it is boring, they should note why it is so & maybe offer suggestion to the pastor. If it is complex, all the more they should not fall asleep & try to understand what is being said. Maybe, it sounds “deep” because we aren’t paying enough attention. If it is really “deep”, tell the pastor! Tell him why you find it so!

It’s heartening to hear that you enjoy reading the Bible, enjoy praying, enjoy going to church. The reason why time should be spend in the studying the Word of God is because we seek to explore the glory of God which is defined in Jesus Christ and is the ultimate focus of the word of God. In Church (or more accurately, as a Church), we worship God. Whether or not Church is entertaining shouldn’t be seen as most important. The focus is on God, not us. As David F. Wells, in his book No Place for Truth: Or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology? (Wm.B. Eerdmans, 1993) critiqued, our relativistic, materialistic, and therapeutic culture is preoccupied with the self. Wells calls for an evangelicalism once again focused firmly on God.

10/1/06 5:27 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

A response to terence can be found at this link.

10/1/06 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello brothers and sisters,

Prosperity or none, we can never bring any of it along when we stand before God one day. Trials will come to separate the sheeps from the goats.

James 1:9-10 (NIV)
"The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower."

The bibles gave a very straightforward instruction to test the spirits in 1 John 4:2-3.

"This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God..."

I believe that Jesus heals. I've seen it, spoken to people who have been healed by God through prayers. It is essentially spiritual warfare.

17/2/06 12:33 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

I have absolutely no issue with the fact that God can and do sovereignly heal someone of his or her illness. However, it is the word-faith perversion of the doctrine of divine healing that I do take issue with. I have recently written a reply to Daniel (Pst Audrey's Zone) regarding this matter.

As for the “healings” that are supposedly taking place in word-faith churches in Singapore, it would be helpful if you can provide me with the names of the “healed” persons, as well as the contact details of their physicians. I would really like to have sworn written medical statements from their physicians that their patients were really healed without any help from medical treatments, drugs or therapies.

You said you "seen it, spoken to people who have been healed." With the abundance of “healing testimonies” coming from word-faith churches, I am sure you would not have any trouble obtaining documented medical proofs and getting at least one medical expert to publicly testify.

17/2/06 4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not familar with word-faith theology, but I believe God answers prayer.

My church Marine Parade Christian
Centre has two medical doctors and many others who has witnessed healing miracles that came by prayer. There are other churches such as Lighthouse and others that bore witness to many other testimonies.

So come and see for yourself.

Afterwhich, there are two things you can do: Believe or disbelief the testimonies.

If your mind is already set on the latter, don't bother to come.

But please correct others out of LOVE and not because of knowledge (1 Cor 13:2).

Salvation is repentance from sin and belief Jesus, not theology.

As you don't seem to believe in miracles by faith, I will like to read your explanation of Rev 11:1-6.

It is about the end-times, when God raised two witnesses who will perform miracles.

If you don't believe that the sick can be healed by prayer in Jesus' name, how will you believe in the above?

20/2/06 1:29 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

It appears you are setting up a strawman despite the fact I clearly states I believe in the sovereignty of God in healing. God heals, but it must be in accordance with His will.

I am sure that many religions in the world have testimonies of miracles. I have stated many times in my blog: miracles does not authenticate the validity of the religious teachings. Roman Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Mormonism may have numerous accounts of people experiencing miracles, but their teachings do not conform to the Word of God.

Since you said that there are two medical doctors in your church that witness “healings,” then perhaps you may want to leave your name and contact details as well as theirs. I would like to have formal medical statements from them that the healings really did occur. If you want to lend credibility to your remarkable claims, then you might want to back it up with facts.

Please pardon my skepticism. Like any normal and rational person, whenever I hear of any paranormal and supernatural claims, such as alien abductions, out of body experiences, angel visitations, crop circles, recollections of past lives, and miraculous healings etc, I would demand some sort of hard proof that these accounts really did happen. I am not so naïve as to be taken in by any Tom, Dick or Harry who claim to have a supernatural experience.

As for Revelation 11:1-6, I do not see anywhere in the passage that contains the doctrine “miracles by faith.” Perhaps you care to elaborate?

And yes, I absolutely agree with 1 Corinthians 13:2. Knowledge, that is theology, goes hand in hand together with love. One cannot do without the other. Theology is essential to the gospel. The gospel is made up of doctrines. If your theology is incorrect, the gospel that you believed in might not be the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ. For it is written: “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

Let us take for instance, Oneness Pentecostalism. Oneness Pentecostals have no problem affirming that salvation is repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ. However, they categorically deny the essential doctrine of the Trinity. Would you say that the gospel they preached is the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ or the false gospel?

By the way, it would be better if you are able to identify yourself rather than hide behind the anonymous label. It makes replying to you so much easier.

20/2/06 4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cursed be your self-righteousness!

First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

What is your true motive of attacking divine healing? Are you genuinely concern that City Harvest church members are eternally lost, or are you more interested in receiving praise for your knowledge?

Instead, "turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge" (1 Timothy 6:20)

Are you going to demand doctor medical statement to colloborate the Resurrection or the healings of the first century church too?

No, I suppose not for cessationists.

Alien abductions, out of body experiences, angel visitations, crop circles, recollections of past lives, and even (some) miraculous healings are ALL demonic activities. They are true and well documented all over the world! I hope you don't have to experience them to believe.

Pray for God to give you understanding and protection, then research on them.

My name is Anonymous. It is as sufficient as your Beowulf.

22/2/06 6:33 PM  
Blogger beowulf said...

If you have actually read through my posts, I have not made myself to be more righteous than others. I have taken extreme care to ensure that my arguments are grounded on the Word of God as well as verifiable sources, not on my own righteousness or unsubstantiated accusations.

Matthew 7:5, when seen in context, is referring to hypocritical judgment. In what specific way have I done so? This verse is addressed to hypocrites, not to those who sincerely wish to discern whether or not a teaching is true. In any case, we are supposed to “remove the speck from [our] brother's eye.” Read Titus 1:9 and Titus 2:1.

You have also taken 1 Timothy 6:20 out of context. This verse is referring to godless knowledge. There is Godly knowledge and godless knowledge. The Apostle Paul’s reference to Godly knowledge is found in 1 Timothy 6:3-4, where it states: “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing.” Godly knowledge is attained through the study of the Word of God.

It is written: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:9-10)

I have not and will not make any judgment on whether the members of City Harvest are eternally lost or not. Wherever did you get such an idea? That is not up to me to decide, but wholly up to the sovereign will of God. Convicting and converting lies solely with the Holy Spirit. As for me, it is clear the biblical mandate is to make disciples; to preach, teach and to instruct the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone. And that includes refuting false gospels, like what the Apostle Paul did. Not by using unsubstantiated accusations, but by basing the arguments on the Word of God.

With regard to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the healings in the New Testament, it is generally agreed among conservative historical scholars and Bible-believing Christians that the New Testament writers are reliable witnesses of the historical events.

Medical statements are akin to reliable eyewitnesses’ testimonies. I have asked for proof for your remarkable claims of divine healing, and you have yet to produce any. Your claims are easily verifiable whether they are true or not, and if true, could easily put forward a strong case for your argument for divine healing.

It is also quite interesting to see that you labeled angel visitations as demonic activities. Angel visitations are clearly biblical, while the word-faith perversion of divine healing is not.

And lastly, I have intentionally chosen not to enable the comments moderation feature on my blog as I openly welcome visitors to biblically refute my arguments so long as they behave responsibly. Alas, you have resorted to making false accusations, unwarranted “curses” and unsubstantiated claims of miracles. This is most unfortunate. Most forums would require visitors to provide aliases in order to participate in a discussion. If you wish to continue posting comments that contain fantastic claims, I must ask that you behave civilly and post under an alias. Otherwise, as much as I hate to do so, you leave me no choice but to delete your comments.

23/2/06 8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, you cannot stand to my scrutiny already?

Young man, go ahead and delete if you wish and continue practising your theology.

My final post to you is this:

You are not grounded in the Word of God at all. You are merely selective in taking passages out of context and ignored reality. You are one step short of blaspheming the Holy Spirit by attributing many healing miracles to the devil.

Why should I give you names of testimonies when your intention is only more denial and unbelief? All such testimonies are already available first hand. Come to these churches and you can hear it from the pastors. But you don't want to because you know you cannot refute testimonies from healed persons.

Nevertheless, you seem to fall into the category of people in Luke 16:31 who "will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

Stop practising armchair Christianity and move on to spititual solid food. Go and read 1 Cor 3.

You are the one who lacks knowledge. I'm going to pray for you from you own chosen passage in Philippians 1:9-10

"And this is my prayer: that your LOVE may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ."

23/2/06 11:09 AM  
Blogger beowulf said...

My thoughts on Anonymous can be found in this article.

25/2/06 5:04 PM  
Blogger Agape said...

Hi All,

A) I read this Beowulf’s blog entry and the ensuing comments threads with great interests and can’t help but saddened by its developments to such a stage of quarrel.

My position:
i) I have absolutely no doubt that God heals today! Amen! Alleluia! Praise God! …
ii) I agree with Beowulf and a number of others, that the so called “health and wealth” or “prosperity” Gospel … is NOT the ‘Gospel’ or ‘Good News’ as proclaimed by Jesus or the Apostles and Disciples of the New Testament

Why do I feel sad? …

i) On one hand, Bro’ Beowulf has done good service to us all and for His Kingdom by demonstrating good use and handling of scriptures in his response to Pastor Kong Hee’s article “Why Do We Believe In Divine Healing?” (Issue 25, Harvest Times).

- One must seek to “correctly handle the word of truth” 2 Tim 2:15 … otherwise, with a bit of creativity, we can use scriptures to support any of our ideas. This is what the discipline of ‘Hermeneutics’ seeks to do. I recommend an excellent book “How to Read the Bible for All its Worth” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart.

- Briefly, one should use scriptures in its historical and literary context, taking into regard its literary genre and the whole counsel of scripture (ie in relation to what is taught in the whole bible as well)

ii) On the other hand … Bro’ Beowulf has done himself a dis-service … perhaps unintentionally or unknowingly … with what I think is an unnecessarily adversarial, unpalatable and defensive approach which some has regarded as ‘self-righteous’… this would greatly impact the effectiveness of his wonderful ministry here …

I urge all to ‘coolly’ consider the contents of Bro Beowulf’s sharing … and not be side-tracked by the seemingly ‘self-righteous’ or ‘smarty pants’ undertones … I also urge Bro Beowulf … to reflect on his approach to responses … the underlying tone, attitude and so on …

Let us all remember to approach in the spirit of love … yah … the Lord help us … amen

B) I have opportunity to hear from an adherent to the ‘prosperity’ gospel ... viz Terence’s entry of (9/1/06 9:22 PM ) and wish to share my responses:

Terence wrote:
“ THE fundamental verse of prosperity gospel is Matthew 6:33 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." What does "these things" refer too? Looking at the verse in context, we find that it refers to our daily needs: clothing, food, shelter and of course, the money to purchase these things. So what the verse is saying is this: That if we seek God first and his righteousness in our lives, God will provide for our needs!

So God does NOT answer to our every whim and fancy! We answer to God! We can be sure that God will provide for us and bless us when we are righteous before God and if we are living in God's divine will. Verse 34 talks about ceasing to worry about our finances and our needs, because God will provide for us! This is what the prosperity gospel is about!”

Steven’s views:
Yes, in Matt 6:33 … the Lord promises that we need not worry for our daily needs … note: it is daily needs … clothing, food and shelter… hardly the ‘prosperity’ that the ‘prosperity gospel’ churches suggests.

Terence wrote:

“ There are two ways to become prosperous and wealthy. 1) Do it the worldly way. This is what Matthew 3:19 talks about, to “STORE UP for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.” Or, we can choose to do it 2) The GOD way. This means to forsake all and follow him. To submit your finances to God, to seek after Him and His heart and let Him be our master. God will then prosper us, as a result of our obedience and sacrifice towards Him. It is one thing to run after money. It is another to run after God, and then letting money run after us.”

Steven’s views:
Question: What will run after us, when we run after God?
- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, meekness and self-control
And… if I may add:
- hardships, shipwrecks, thorn-in-the flesh (sickness), imprisonment, betrayal from friends, persecutions, and maybe martyrdom … ie. The sacrifice of one’s life for Jesus
Money? … well,… I don’t know …. did Jesus promised that??? … it may interest us that Jesus himself was penniless … so, when he needed money to pay tax, he asked his disciple to go fishing and take the coin out of the fish mouth (Matt 17:24) ;p

C) Appealing Message … but … what really does the gospel appeals to?

Let’s be honest … who doesn’t want to get healed and be rich? … I do! The ‘health and wealth’ gospel is very appealing indeed

But what does the gospel or good news really appeal to? : …

The Good News is about:
- Behold a Saviour is borned ! … Emmanuel! God is with us!
- the Kingdom of God is Near!
- Repent of our sins and receive eternal life in Jesus! …
- the Living water that we’ll never thirst again!

… sounds familiar? =)

The ‘abundant life’ that Jesus promised (Jn 10:10) … is far beyond what the well being of health and wealth in this life can satisfy!

D) Why I think we should go back to the Word? …

I think we should go back to the Word because the characteristics of some of the modern churches today certainly show cause for concern:

- there is usually a very charismatic key person, gifted in delivery and persuasion … employing the approaches not unlike modern-day motivational speakers
- ‘undisciplined’ use of scriptures … as demonstrated by Beowulf
- use of modern-day approaches to appeal to the young and the masses … rather than the conviction of the pure gospel truths itself …
- such churches are in some ways commercialized too, with holding companies and so on …

- My dear brethren from such mega churches … this is only my honest view, you are free to disagree with me and please don’t jump on me. Thanks. =)

E) Lastly, I believe God heals today …

I’m a traditional Methodist, still one today … and I have long admired my charismatic brethren … who has much to teach us … in the area of moving in the Spirit and the exercising of the gifts of the Spirit … including that of the gift to interceding for healing …

Luke 4:17-21

The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

I believe, this is still the Lord’s ministry today, via His Holy Spirit. … that includes “recovery of sight for the blind” ie. physical healing.

Cheers and God Bless

22/10/06 1:25 AM  
Blogger BEAST said...

Faith healing is bullshit

8/5/07 6:19 PM  
Anonymous e said...

I just think it's kinda weird when you emphasise on the importance of sharing with unbelievers about the Trinity when you don't seem to believe in the Holy Spirit because I would suppose you don't believe in speaking in tongues, which really is the only physical evidence that we have in The New Testament about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

24/9/07 11:27 PM  
Anonymous Brother of Nicodemus said...

Don't worry! if you don't believe, you won't get it...

13/5/08 11:12 PM  
Anonymous Brother of Nicodemus said...

Don't worry! if you don't believe, you won't get it...My God doesn't force you. You can die with all the sickness & disease in the world you want...

13/5/08 11:13 PM  
Anonymous pyschosis said...

I have one question for city harvest goers. Why does your church support heretics and well known frauds like oral roberts and benny hinn?

6/10/08 1:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

16/9/09 6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

beowulf has laid out his arguements against the teachings by PS Kong Hee very well. By not giving people the entire story, we lie. The truth cannot be half, one quarter or anything except for everything.

6/4/12 9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If faith healing is real and unconditional.why did my froend's any died even after two churches prayed for her ? Not spiritual enough ?

6/7/12 9:25 PM  

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