2009-02-25_1121_1_delhiholycowWhen my wife and I were very young Christians, a foul and perversely attractive wind of doctrine blew through our church.

And we fell for it.

Unfortunately, this evil wind is still wreaking its havoc in the Church.

It has been called by various names. Positive confession. Word of faith.

The foul storm blew through pretty quickly for us, because the best solution to Christian wackiness is reality.

In other words, the driver behind word of faith is that it “works.” That’s what, at first, makes it attractive. For people who are excited about Jesus, just throw in some Bible verses that seem like they make sense, and—this is about Jesus, after all, who can do anything and the Bible, which is the truth—surely it will “work.”

Well, thankfully, it doesn’t “work.”

Here’s the formula:

You’re sick. Well, the good news is that Isaiah 53:5 says that by His stripes you were healed!

“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). 1

Here is what you may have heard or will hear, based on this verse: “You were healed by Jesus’ stripes, when He was whipped. Some translations say, ‘By his wounds you were healed.’ So, you’re already healed! It happened at Calvary. Just claim it! Stand on that promise! Declare it! Confess it! Just proclaim/declare/speak that you’re healed. Praise the Lord for the healing, because you’re already healed. That healing is going to come! Positive confession works! Praise works!”

Major problem. These verses do not promise that every believer will be healed. The healing the Lord spoke of here is the healing that comes through Jesus’ sacrifice, the saving of one’s entire life. It speaks of the wholeness that comes through salvation.

Now, do I believe the Lord heals people? Absolutely. I myself have been healed of a shoulder problem when my daughter, then a teen-ager, prayed for me and laid her hands, which were strangely warm, on me. My wife’s father was healed of a major back issue.

Jesus heals.

However, He doesn’t heal everybody, every time.

Reality quickly bears this out.

As does Scripture.

At the end of his second letter to Timothy, Paul wrote:

“Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus” (2 Timothy 4:19–20).

Oh my. This is a problem. Paul said that Trophimus was ill. I guess Paul somehow failed in his positive confession. Or perhaps he didn’t have the gift of healing.

Oh, but he did.

“It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with fever and dysentery. And Paul visited him and prayed, and putting his hands on him healed him. And when this had taken place, the rest of the people on the island who had diseases also came and were cured” (Acts 28:8–9).

People on the island of Malta were healed. But not everyone that Paul encountered was healed. Trophimus wasn’t. Paul just simply wrote about the reality of the situation: Trophimus was sick.

However, there is more going on here than the twisting of Scripture by word of faith proclaimers.

We’ll take that up next time, and it isn’t pretty.

Hint: Think superstitious paganism with a lethal dose of legalism.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Thanks to Ben Williams for the photo.