Posts Tagged ‘bible’

Taken from Desiring God

Feeling blessed is in vogue.

A quick look at Facebook and Twitter shows how many people today feel #blessed. In our social-media world, saying you’re blessed can be a way of boasting while trying to sound humble.

College scholarship? #Blessed. Unexpected raise? #Blessed. Wonderful family? #Blessed.

As Christians we use that term too, of course. We pray God will bless our family. We attribute our undeserved gifts to “God’s blessings.” We talk about ministries being blessed. But what does it really mean? How should we understand the blessing of God?

The Good Life

For believers, is the blessed life synonymous with the successful life? Is it the Christian version of the good life? A loving marriage, obedient children, a vibrant ministry, a healthy body, a successful career, trusted friends, financial abundance — if these are the characteristics of a blessed life, then having all of them should translate into an extraordinarily blessed life.

But does it? If someone had all those things, would they be extraordinarily blessed?

Rather than turning to God, they might feel self-sufficient and proud. Perhaps a bit smug and self-righteous. After all, their hard work would be yielding good fruit.

Moreover, they wouldn’t need to cry out to God for deliverance; everything would already be perfect. They wouldn’t need to trust God; they could trust in themselves. They wouldn’t need God to fill them; they would already be satisfied.

God’s Richest Blessings

My desire for God is greatly fueled by my need. And it is in the areas of loss where I feel my need most intensely. Unmet desires keep me on my knees. Deepen my prayer life. Make me ransack the Bible for God’s promises.

Earthly blessings are temporary; they can all be taken away. Job’s blessings all disappeared in one fateful day. I, too, had a comfortable life that was stripped away within a span of weeks. My marriage dissolved. My children rebelled. My health spiraled downward. My family fell apart. My dreams were shattered.

And yet, in the midst of those painful events, I experienced God’s richest blessings. A stronger faith than I had experienced before. A deeper love than I had ever known. A more intimate walk than I could explain. My trials grounded my faith in ways that prosperity and abundance never could.

While my trials were not blessings in themselves, they were channels for them. As Laura Story asks in her song “Blessings,” “What if your blessings come through rain drops? What if trials of this life — the rain, the storms, the hardest nights — are your mercies in disguise?”

This revolutionary idea of blessing is also firmly established in Scripture.

The Common Thread

One translation of the New Testament (ESV) has 112 references with the words bless, blessing, or blessed, none of which connect blessing to material prosperity. Consider these passages:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit . . . Blessed are those who mourn . . . . Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake . . . Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:3–11)

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Luke 11:28)

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven. (Romans 4:7; quoting Psalm 32:1)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial. (James 1:12)

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. . . . Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:13, 19:9)

There is no hint of material prosperity or perfect circumstances in any New Testament reference. On the contrary, blessing is typically connected with either poverty and trial or the spiritual benefits of being joined by faith to Jesus.

According to the Key-Word Study Bible, “The Greek word translated blessed in these passages is makarioi which means to be fully satisfied. It refers to those receiving God’s favor, regardless of the circumstances” (emphasis added).

What is blessing, then? Scripture shows that blessing is anything God gives that makes us fully satisfied in him. Anything that draws us closer to Jesus. Anything that helps us relinquish the temporal and hold on more tightly to the eternal. And often it is the struggles and trials, the aching disappointments and the unfulfilled longings that best enable us to do that.

Truly Blessed

Pain and loss transform us. While they sometimes unravel us, they can also push us to a deeper life with God than we ever thought possible. They make us rest in God alone. Not what we can do or achieve for him. And not what he can do or achieve for us.

In pain and loss, we long for Presence. We long to know that God is for us and with us and in us. Great families, financial wealth, and good health are all wonderful gifts we can thank God for, but they are not his greatest blessings. They may make us delight, not in God, but in his gifts.

God’s greatest blessing always rests in God himself. When we have that, we are truly #blessed.

Related Post:

The Perception of Blessing – Part 1

I was having a long conversation with my children’s uncle, Wayne Grant, about my frustrations with God (which can be read in my Can I be honest post) which and in his own words, every now and then, he gets a ‘spiritual download’ from God. He told me the following and it really did help me see things a bit differently especially when it comes to prayer.

A Mom and Dad with unlimited funds raise an 18 year old son whose birthday is coming up.

The son is aware of the unlimited funds and they have great relationship and they know absolutely everything about him.

They know that all he wants for his birthday is a Bugatti and he has asked for one many many times.

The parents think about buying him a Bugatti, then knowing their son so well, instantly foresee that in three months times, he would wrap it around a tree and die.

So the parents think about buying him a nice Mercedes, then foresee that all is friends will use him like a cab to take them here, there and everywhere and as soon as the son says no he is busy or can’t be there to collect them. They all turn against him, talk about him, slander his name and turn their back on him. So the son gets depressed and kills himself.

So the parents think about buying a very old rubbish car. Then the parents foresee the car breaking down all the time and causing the son to be resentful and bitter towards them and eventually the car breaks down while driving through the ghetto and the son gets killed.

Then parents decide to get the son a 12 month Oyster Card (for those who are not in the UK, it is a London Transport travel pass) and foresee the son sitting next to a young lady on the bus who ministers to him and eventually he becomes a Christian, gets married and has a most wonderful life and is truly fulfilled and happy.

So the sons 18th birthday finally arrives and the parents say “Happy Birthday” son, your present is on the table.

The son unable to hold in his excitement runs over to the table the get the keys to his Bugatti and finds an envelope with an oyster card. He gets very angry and resentful and accuses his parents of not caring about him and hating him not realising he is just been truly blessed.

So I suppose the question is, what does it truly mean to be blessed? This will be addressed in my next post


I started writing this some time back but couldn’t finish it and didn’t feel comfortable posting it (hence why I have been quiet on the blogging front) as I was still processing a lot of stuff but I think it is important to post it anyway as I hope that my transparency will help someone. Me and my Christian friend were having the exact same questions and going through the same frustrations with God. Anyway, things have changed for both of us since, so I have put an update at the end.

I’ve lost my confidence in God. Yeah I said it

One of things that we as Christians are very good at is putting on a mask and showing the ‘good’ side of us as if we have it all together but we are terrible at showing our bad side.We don’t like to show any kind of weakness or doubts in our faith. But the bible is full of characters who have fallen, verbalised their struggles, been upset with God and scripture does not try to hide that fact. One person who is very transparent about his Christian journey is Michael Patton who has recently blogged about his addiction to pain killers and you only have to read some of his subsequent posts to see how he is getting on in rehab and how God has used this situation. Kind of reminds me of Paul in prison but I digress.

This year, I have seen quite a few people now beginning to question the norm in churchianity which I think is a good thing because it means that they are not just blindly swallowing anything that they are being fed.   This includes one of my favourite UK (ex-gospel) rappers Jahaziel who has unfortunately now publicly now renounced his Christian faith. And even though there are a lot of things that he has posted on his instagram that I do not necessarily agree with, there are difficult questions that I’m sure, a lot of us as believers do ask, which are at the back of our minds and those questions never really go away because we never really get a satisfying answer.

So what is my struggle? In a nutshell, I struggle in believing that God is interested in my personal desires on earth. The big stuff like creation, salvation, the resurrection of the dead, judgement etc is not a problem for me but little ol’ me who wants ‘X’ which is not sinful, and never seems to be in reach after praying for it, yet an unbeliever who is not praying at all, gets it without nearly as much as a struggle does make me question things. I’m not talking about the one offs but I’m talking about it almost becoming the norm up to the point where you almost expect God NOT to give you the desires of your heart.

Now as I have been in the Christian thing for quite a bit of time, I basically know the standard responses but I will type up everything that basically goes on in my head and the typical responses (TR) that I expect to get.

Me: Why is it that when I pray for ‘X’ which is my personal non sinful desire, more than likely, I will not receive it? Whilst the other unbelievers don’t pray at all and seem to go further than the believers. If that is the case, what exactly is the benefit in praying for my earthly desires?

TR: Remember what happens to the end of the unbelievers as spoken in Psalms 73

Me. I understand their end but I am talking about the here and now on earth.

TR: God is developing your character. Be patient. He maybe saying ‘wait’or ‘no’

Me: Well I have been trying for ages and and nothing is happening or I get near and then constantly come against a brick wall. Its almost as if I am being teased only for the rug to be swept under my feet on a constant basis. How long do you keep trying before you decide to give upon your personal desire/dreams and come to the conclusion that its a no?

TR: Maybe God has something better for you.

Me: If you mean something better within the field I want, then see my previous answer. If you mean something else which means that I shelf my desire, then it goes back to my original point where I do not believe that God is that interested in my personal desires on earth

TR: You asked with wrong motives

Me: Nope.There was a time that I did ask with wrong motives when it was all about me, and God pulled me up about that . This time, I have examined my heart and I know it is not the case

TR: Faith without works is dead. You can’t expect God to do everything for you.You have to do your part

Me: This is a very true statement. If someone wants to pass their exam.They cant expect to pray to get an ‘A’ grade without revising and studying first. But this does not apply to me

TR: You are saying what YOU want a lot and it may not be God’s will. Remember Jesus said to the Father “Not my will, but thine be done”

Me: If this is the case, does God not care about my personal will at all then? I know that everything we do should be for the glory of God but does that mean that I am not allowed to have earthly desires? If not, then why bother pray

So as it stands, I still have unanswered questions here. If person A keeps praying for earthly desire X with a right motive and doesn’t get it. Yet unbelieving person B (and C and D) doesn’t do any praying but gets X,what is the benefit in person A praying for X. Shouldn’t he just have a ‘whatsover happens happens’ attitude? Especially when he gets so close only for a brick wall to be placed in front. It almost comes to the point that you prefer to aim low and more likely hit the target than continuing to aim high in prayer, only to be constantly disappointed with the outcome which is emotionally draining

Why not just forget the ‘prayer part’? I mean, persons B, C and D don’t have to go through it and in general, they seem to be more successful in getting results.

Prayer is not like the War Room movie which although it was inspirational but totally unrealistic compared to real life. I can’t go into it but basically, I agree a lot with this article where Jesus is basically reduced to a genie. Unfortunately, you will find that life is not like that, even when you pray.

My conclusion is that God is more interested in HOW we respond when we get (or don’t get) our answers prayers and is not as interested in the prayers getting answered in and of themselves because he is more interested in our character more than anything else

Is that a satisfying answer? Probably not. Am I wrong? To be honest, I’m not 100% sure. What do you think?

UPDATE: I think God must have heard me and my friend’s sincere prayers and questions, because both of us have had answers to our prayers ‘out of the blue’ which we both did not expect and these were BIG prayers. Not that the object of the prayers were big but big in the sense that if you can’t have confidence to trust God with the ‘small’ then it rocks your prayer foundation. This has definitely made me get my confidence back with God especially where prayers are still ‘outstanding’, where I am not so worried about them now and feel comfortable leaving it in God’s hands. However, my view of the nature of prayer has definitely changed and at the moment, I am still sticking with my conclusion above. Even when I look at scripture, overall, I don’t see that believers ‘get more stuff’ than unbelievers. I recently heard on TV from a ministry that believes that this is ‘The Year of Divine Favor‘ and that many will get money via Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) mis-sellings and they need to ‘speak things into the atmosphere’.  I thought “Really? Do you really think that Christians will have an advantage in claims over non believers”.

Like I wrote before,the reality of being a Christian is that life is life.

So as I asked above, am I wrong in my conclusion? What do you think?

This video is one of best music videos that I have seen in a long time and makes me more grateful for God’s forgiveness for my sins because I didn’t deserve it but he went to the cross anyway making a way of reconciliation for me back to him

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among[h] themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”- Luke 7:41-50

Hi everyone. I know some of you have been wondering where I have been and why I haven’t been blogging as much as I used to. The honest answer is that I believe that God is transitioning me (again) through various experiences and while I am going through this process, I didn’t want to write too much but to just ‘sit back and think’. I do not believe that I am through to the other side yet so my blogs will not be anywhere as frequent as they used to be. But one thing that has been pressed upon me for a few years now is getting out of the Christian bubble. What do I mean by that? Well before I explain, please watch this video

In most of my Christian life, I believe that I lived in this bubble. I went to church on a Sunday, went to Christian conferences and conventions, went to Christian parties, watched Christian TV and films, listened to Christian music and the list goes on (not that any of those are bad of themselves). You get the idea. But I never really engaged with the culture around me. I found it hard to relate to them on certain things. I wasn’t brought up in church so I know how it is ‘out there’ but somehow, I lost touch. I was comfortable in this bubble and my goal was almost to get unbelievers into this bubble also.

I am part of the first generation children to parents who came over from the West Indies. Our British subculture was different than the normal British culture (even though we were born here) and unless you were part of my culture, the average British people could not fully understand and appreciate Lovers Rock music (which I love) because it was distinctly British but also linked into our reggae heritage. I am also part of the hip-hop culture in the 80s. We were a sub culture with a make up of MCs, DJs, grafitti artists, rappers and break dancers and body poppers (I was into the latter). Likewise, I believe that the Christian bubble has also become a sub culture, but where we (a lot of the time unintentionally) alienate others who do not participate in our bubble and we have no meaningful relationships or understanding of or with the outside world. Sometimes there is a bubble within the bubble with black/white churches.

I am at a place in my Christian life where I love and have a deeper understanding of Christ but if I am honest, can sometimes become bored of the Christian bubble and sometimes feel as if I lost who I really am. I have almost become shaped by what is expected in the bubble more than who I should be in Christ. I see so many things that happen to people in real life, then I see Christians almost ignore it because they are so busy with their praise parties in the church building and all this talk about blessings, breakthrough, divine favour and walking into your destiny etc etc. Yet those who do not step into the building (which are many) are oblivious to us. They are busy going through their own stuff or busy ‘living it up’. There is simply some things that I don’t want to be as a Christian.

I touched on this in one of the things that I learned in 2013 which was that:

People go through some really hard things in life and sometimes, it can be so comfortable to live in the church/Christian bubble without ever really engaging in the culture or the real world with real people who have real problems. I don’t want to be so involved in churchianity that Christ is in the background and is not relevant at all to the man on the street. I want Christ to be seen in me IN ALL of my daily life and that may mean sometimes doing stuff that traditionally ‘church folk’ don’t do. God is interested in the whole man.

Recently, I sat with some old friends for a cup of coffee. We first ‘met’ up on the now defunct United by One Christian website where we discussed many topics on a forum and since then we have always kept connected via social media

UB1 Massive

Going from left to right is Karl Nova (a frustrated artist), myself, George Luke and Dave McQueen (who once described himself as a Christian but now describes himself as an agnostic. See his reasons here in his own words).

Apart from David, the rest of us are Christians. Now this is what we could have done. David could have been our little project to ‘win him back to Christ’ and put another notch on our belt. But we just sat down and not only talked about issues of faith but about life in general and politics. We were also very honest with how we felt about issues in Christianity and asked some difficult questions. In fact, just simply stated, we just talked as friends and our faith journeys never was an issue. It was a very enriching evening where we could just be ourselves and learn from each others experiences which included us learning from Dave. None of us had any ulterior motives.

Now if I am honest, the place where I am is foreign to me and a bit uncomfortable as I am still in transition and I am not sure what the final outcome will look like. But what I do know is that ultimately, I want to be a good witness for Christ, whether that be overt and explicit or covert and implicit. I want to be salt and light to those around me and be a positive influence. I am not the average Christian because I like to ask challenging questions and say things that other Christians are also thinking but for various reasons, do not outwardly express it, sometimes because of fear of a backlash of going against the tide or they are blinded by loyalty.

I have no idea where this transition will ultimately lead me as I am still learning but I am asking for God’s direction on this journey

Let’s see where this goes

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care – Theodore Roosevelt

what-is-churchNo doubt, today many christians all over the world will attend a church building but what exactly is church? As many of you know, I am always banging on about being a Berean and have witten a few posts about How to be a Berean in practice. One thing that we as Christians are scared of is having our normal way of thinking challenged biblically. We hear so many times that ‘we are the church and not the building’ and most christians would not disagree with that. However, if we are honest, most believers center their christian life around the building and not around the people. We have a ‘Come and See’ mentality. We invite people to the building, we go to conferences in the building, we encourage people to come to the building for various meetings, people feel guilty if they do not go to the building on Sunday. But what about those people who never want to step foot in the building? How do we reach them? Most of what I have learnt in my Christian life has not been in a building but has been through me searching the scriptures through myself and allowing the Holy Spirit to enlighten me through correct interpretation and rightly dividing the word. Once I did that, I was able to filter out a lot of garbage that I heard whether that be in a building, on TV, on the radio or anywhere else. I’ve mentioned them before but my friends in America host a radio show called Real Talk Radio  and they address real issues and topics that your average ‘church’ do not talk about. None of them attend a church building but do participate in christian fellowship. 

Below is an article written by one of the hosts about ‘Church’.

The Greek word for church is “ecclesia”. Ecclesia, in the original Greek means “called out ones”, “congregation” or “assembly”. Every instance in the KJV where the Greek word “ecclesia”, is found, it’s translated as “Church”, (in most other versions as well) EXCEPT in 3 verses, in the 19th chapter of the book of Acts.

Act 19:23-41 (KJV)

23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. 30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. 32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the “ASSEMBLY” was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. 33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. 34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 35 And when the town clerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. 37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of “CHURCHES”, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. 39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful “ASSEMBLY”. 40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. 41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the “ASSEMBLY”.

Here they are again:
Acts 19:32 some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the “assembly” was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
Acts 19:39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful “assembly”.
Acts 19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the “assembly”.

Also, please take notice of the following verse:

Acts19:37 “For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of “CHURCHES”, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.”

The actual word CHURCH(ES) is used here, but it is NOT, I repeat NOT translated from the Greek word, “ecclesia”. So WHY is “ecclesia” translated as “assembly” only these 3 times? Remember, every other instance in the KJV when the word “church” is mentioned, it’s translated from the Greek word “ecclesia”. The meaning of the “ecclesia” does not change. Let’s use the word “church” in acts 19 and see it makes sense.

Acts 19:32 some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the “church” was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Acts 19:39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful “church”.

Acts 19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the “church”.

Do these verses make sense to our western mind? If not, why? It’s because the term “church” is a mistranslation. Now let’s look at some verses where the word “church” is used in the KJV and see if it makes sense when we use the words assembly, congregation or called out ones. (unlike using “church” in acts 19)

Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my “congregation”; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Act 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the “congregation” daily such as should be saved.

Act 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the “congregation”, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison

1Co 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the “assembly”, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

1Co 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the “congregation”.

Gal 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the “congregation” of God, and wasted it:

Phm 1:2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the “congregation” in thy house:

3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the “assembly”: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

Rev 2:8 And unto the angel of the “assembly” in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
Rev 3:1 And unto the angel of the “congregation” in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

I could go on, but you get the point. The word “Church” is a mistranslation of the Greek word “ecclesia”. William Tyndale was killed because he translated the terms “church,” “priest,” “do penance” and “charity,” to “congregation,” “senior” (changed to “elder” in the revised edition of 1534), “repent” and “love,”. Why was he killed for these translations by the Catholic Church? To protect their established religious order, and their power OVER the people.

Please don’t believe me, do your own research and ask God to reveal the truth to you.

So I did exactly what they said. I reseached this myself and found it to be true. For those who want to (and should) do their own research, you will find that all places which use the word ‘church’ and the three examples above in Acts 19 use the greek word ‘ecclesia’ and if you want to check the Strongs concordance number it is 1577. However, in  Acts 19:37, where the it states “For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of “CHURCHES”, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.”, the greek word ‘hierosulos’ is used (Strongs concordance number 2417) which means temple depoiler.

Now am I saying that ‘church’ as is commonly know in and of itself is necessarily bad? Not at all. However, what I would say is that the heavy emphasis that we seem to put on the building seems to be unbiblical and you cannot help but wonder, like William Tyndale, why those words were changed and what was the ulterior motive.

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)

If you have been a follower of my blog, you will know that one of the things that I keep harpening on about is ‘be a Berean’. The scripture above states that the Bereans didn’t just take Paul’s word ‘as gospel’ when he spoke but they examined the scriptures to see if what he said lined up to it. They questioned the ‘man of God’. Even Paul wasn’t untouchable when it comes to scrutinizing what came of of his mouth.

I think the reason why many people dont like to ask questions and thus being a ripe candidate for deception is because they assume that the preacher is always right because he has a higher level of spirituality. They don’t read the bible themselves and don’t know HOW to study the bible and rightly divide the word or simply that they too lazy to open the bible……..until Sunday.

But what does being a Berean actually mean? Why is it so important? How is it done in practice? Why is it that Christians who choose to be Bereans are seen as the unloving ones but false teachers are defended?

When Shai Linne did his song Fal$e Teacher$, he got a lot of stick about it. So much so that Paula White’s son wrote an open letter to Shai which can be viewed here. However, in his response, he never really addressed the real issue at hand and that was ‘Did his mum, Paula White,teach things that did not line up with scripture?’ (This is the typical response that those who challenge a doctrine receive. They never really address the topic at hand but accuse the person of being things such as a heresy hunters or unloving). Shai Linne then addressed this topic head on whith his response which can be viewed in full here.

Now before anybody gets on my case, I am not saying that Paula White is not a believer and not going to heaven. I am am not in a position to say that. However, I am in a position to say that what she teaches is false. So lets get into it and view a portion of the letter to see why and what happens when a person listens to what is being taught, reads the scripture, and then measures up the two, being a Berean.

1. False View of the Atonement

Paula White did a series called 8 Promises of the Atonement, that at the time of my writing this, is currently featured on your ministry website. In it, she states that physical healing and financial abundance in this life are provided for in the atonement of Christ. See the following video at the 25:00 mark where Paula White teaches “salvation includes healing.” She says it again at 28:30. But then she goes even further. If you keep listening, she talks about commanding her body not to be sick because of the blood of Christ. She ends this section by boldly declaring around 29:40:

“You are not going to die of sickness. When you go, it’s going to be because of your appointed time of old age and full of life”

For Paula White to say this to a large crowd of people is both false and irresponsible. She has no idea how those people are going to die. The truth is that Christians do get sick. Many godly believers die at young ages from sickness and it is not due to their lack of faith or because they haven’t embraced what’s theirs through the atonement. It’s because God is sovereign.

As He says in Deut. 32:39, “‘See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.”

Psalm 139:14 says “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”.

God sovereignly determines when we live and when we die. And if He appoints or allows a sickness to take our lives, it is because His infinite wisdom determined that it be so.

At the 2:00 mark of this video on your website, Paula White lists “financial abundance” as one of the promises of the atonement. This is false. It is also a slap in the face to the millions godly saints throughout the world today (and church history) who do not live in “financial abundance” like many of us live here in America. Jesus commends the church in Smyrna when He says:

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” – Rev. 2:9

In His kindness and care, the risen Savior tells the church in Smyrna that He is aware of their poverty. What does He say after that? Does He tell them that they’re poor because they haven’t fully embraced the promise of His atonement? Does He say they’re poor because of a generational curse, as Paula White teaches at 13:20 in this video?  No. He reminds them that though they are materially poor in this world, they are actually rich in God’s eyes because of their union with Jesus Christ! Like C.S. Lewis once famously said, “He who has God and everything else has no more than He who has God only.”

In 1 Timothy 6:7-8, which is in the same context of a passage I mentioned in the song, it says “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” This is consistent with the New Testament emphasis on contentment, which is almost always mentioned in contrast to the love of money (Heb. 13:5). I’m encouraged to see that you try to put that into practice in your own life, Brad. But in doing so, you’re actually contradicting the teaching of Paula White, who says that the atonement promises your financial abundance. She obviously embraces this teaching herself. It is well documented that she, along with others mentioned in the song, was investigated by the U.S. Senate for financial impropriety due to their extravagant lifestyles.  Much more could be said about this, but let me get to the next false teaching.

2. False “Sow a Seed” Teaching

This is something that is common among the people I named in the song, including Paula White. The premise is that if you give a certain amount of money, God will multiply it and you’ll get more money back in return. As I studied the prosperity teachers, I noticed that they often used this tactic when taking an offering. But when you study the Scriptures, you find that the “sow a seed” passages that are usually referred to are not talking about money at all, but the knowledge of the kingdom of God, which leads to salvation (See Matthew 13:1-23). Even in 2 Cor. 9:6-15, where seed is used in connection with financial gifts, the emphasis is on generously supplying the needs of other churches (vs. 12) and having what you need to serve others effectively (vs. 8). Living out the American Dream is not in view there.

In the following video, Paula White gives an appeal for money at The Potter’s House, the church pastored by T.D. Jakes. Around 2:10 she says, “God is speaking to many”. She then tells them what God is supposedly saying, “Give a $126 dollar offering. For some it may be $1,260, for some it may be $12,600”.

Now if I’m sitting in that audience that day and Paula White says, “God is saying give $126 or $1,260 or $12,600”, what am I supposed to do? If God is saying it and I don’t do it, I’m being disobedient. But here’s the thing. I don’t have to wonder whether or not God is saying that through Paula White because God has already spoken in His Word, the Bible. And in the Bible, God said:

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)

What Paula White does in that video absolutely qualifies as compulsion and it actually made me sad for her as I watched it. In this video at 25:08, in the middle of an appeal for money (Start it at 22:28 to get the full context), Paula White promises that “Your seed today is gonna turn everything around for your children, your grandchildren, your family, your spouse, everyone in relation to you. But you have to activate it. Call that toll-free number.” There is no way that that statement could be true for each of the thousands of Christians and non-Christians watching the show that day! What makes it worse is that she’s claiming to speak for God as she does it. And that brings me to the final and perhaps most serious falsehood.

3. Falsely Claiming to Speak For God

As I’m sure you know, Brad, God takes speaking in His name very seriously. To say that God said something that He didn’t say is to lie on God. God takes this sin so seriously that in the Old Testament, the person found guilty of this was to be executed. Check out Deuteronomy 18:20:

“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’”

The verses following that one give the litmus test for how we can determine whether or not someone is speaking for God:

“And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously.” (Deut. 18:21-22)

There is nothing new under the sun. People have been falsely claiming to speak for God for thousands of years. Here’s what God said when it was happening in Jeremiah’s day.

“Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 23:32

As sincere as Paula White may be, she is extremely reckless in the many false things that she says God told her to tell her listeners. The videos I provided are enough. Just go back and listen to how often she says God is saying something that He could not possibly be saying to everyone listening to her at the time. “You are not going to die of sickness” is just one of many examples I could give. Sadly, her teaching is characterized by this falsehood. She and the other people I mentioned in the song do this all the time.

By the response in the videos, you can tell that most of the congregation just swallowed up what she said and that is where the danger is in many congregations. Nobody really stops to say ‘Hold on a minute. That’s not correct. That’s contrary to scripture’. False teachers are very good at wrapping up their teaching in scripture and twisting it.

For some simple rules on how to read the bible correctly, rightly dividing the word of truth, see this post and this one

To hear Paula White being challenged about her divorce and her doctrine, you can also listen to a interview on this post.

Look out for Part 2 where I will be a Berean once again

Related Post:

What does it mean to be a Berean in practice? – Part 2 (Bishop Tudor Bismark)