Here’s a recent article (original source here) written by my pastor friend in Kenya, Elly Achok Olare:
CAN FAITH FORESTALL DEATH AND GIVE YOU LONGER LIFE?
I pose this question because of a post I read from a Facebook conversation. The person wrote among other things this statement which we wish to investigate in the light of scripture.
“The reason as to why God brought Jesus on the scene is to restore us to longevity even though it is a choice based on an individuals level of knowledge and understanding (Hosea 4:6)”.
This is an extremely startling statement, but sadly one that is representative of the majority report within the faith movement. It is lethal because it paints Jesus ‘in good light’ our knight in shining armor-sentiments which easily resonate with the scripturally ignorant majority. It is not an innocent statement when it is marinated in proof texts – illegitimately pressed beyond their proper hermeneutics.
What this person is saying, in not so many words, is that longevity of life depends upon your level of knowledge. If you die in-car crash as have many good people from the word of faith movement, and HERE I CALL ATTENTION TO DR. MYLES MUNROE who crashed with a private plane close to 2 years ago. Well…says this logic, his premature death (by the way what is premature or mature death?), was due to His knowledge and understanding. Or the late Dr. Paul Crouch, the great founder and proprietor of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), who died of cancer as well.
So to be honest, this faith, this knowledge and understanding is not working very well for its adherents does it? Sooner or later the strongest faith preachers reckon with sickness and disease just like the rest of ‘mere mortals’. They soon come to terms with the naked reality they have been fighting to rebuke, declare and confess away-they all soon die, many at a relatively young age.
The illusion is just that -illusion, it’s a fairy tale sold to millions who fear death and are desperate to cling to some kind of hope. It is palatable to those who are not sure of the life hereafter and would cling to this one as long as possible. Why would one embrace the fact of their death when they have no idea what the other side of life portents for them? The other side is a scary unknown for many and the maximum they are likely to embrace is the one offered in disguised forms by the faith movement.
Joel Osteen would call it “your best life now”. As Pastor John MacArthur has observed “For those outside Christ, this is indeed your best life…because an eternity of untold torment in the lake of fire awaits you on the other side when God unleashes His unmitigated wrath on you. This is what the Rich man in Luke 16:19-23, found out. However for those who trusted truly in the redeemer this is your worst life, your master Himself tells you “in this world you will have many troubles .” The Apostles who bore the Gospel that saved you are united in their testimony that your life here on this earth will be full of sorrows and pain and hurt and suffering (Romans 8:18-23, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
For those redeemed by the sin atoning blood of the lamb like Apostle, the faith message is ridiculous. They say “to die is gain…for to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord (which is far more preferable). This is a mindset that is at stark variance with the faith preachers, it has to be because it a language of children of zoonotic, not children of Babylon, it is the speech of the future glory, not one of present material aggrandizement.
Our forefathers in Africa lived much longer than the word of faith preachers yet their knowledge and understanding of scripture was very low, in many cases zero. On a comparative scale, I would say the knowledge of foods and herbs my forefathers had served them better than this faith serves its adherents. Conventional medicine does a whole lot better than the word of faith prescription .Most of the big names of this movement I know of suffer from one terminal illness to another (they do a great Job of hiding it from the public, but make no mistake, these men fall I’ll like the rest of us).
We know Benny Hinn struggles with a heart disease. Creflo Dollar was recently diagnosed with a cancer and the list goes on. Of course their convenient teaching allows them to lie in the name of faith by what is called “positive confession” (itself a justification for living in denial or simply outright lie).These men and women have the best doctors in the world looking after them, doctors procured by the large amounts they solicit for In terms faith seed. They ask you to depend upon a system they themselves don’t depend upon. It is to say the least treacherous and hypocritical.
HERE IS A QUESTION, is there any faith preacher (even the greatest of them like Kenneth Hagin) who does not age? Do their skins wear out and sag? Does white hair come upon their heads? Do they lose steadily the agility of youth like all humans? Do they get to menopause or sterility? Does their strength fail and voices distort with age? Do they get a point where they eyes fail, eye muscles weaken and they have need of reading glasses? If your answer is yes (in whatever format) that’s what is called the process of death. Death works in and on us while we live-we are dying while we live. Death is in that respect natural and native to all humans since the Fall of man.
SO BACK TO HOSEA AND THE KNOWLEDGE THAT SUPPOSEDLY SECURES LONG LIFE
As is to be expected the word of faith movement cannot make the Bible say what they want it to say unless they yank it from its legitimate context. This proof text Hosea 4:6 is just an example such travesty visited upon the sacred text.
It does not take theological training to know the whole context of Hosea is about spiritual whoredom of Israel, their treachery and unfaithfulness to the Lord. The whole prophecy in its sum and substance is a plea to return to the Lord. It is hardly a treatise on how to live long or how to duck death. In the quoted text, nowhere is death or long life mentioned-these have been read into the text or it can say what we want it to say. The perishing referred to here is not really physical death but spiritual death also called apostasy (which is undoubtedly the burden of the whole prophecy).
The knowledge here referred to is the knowledge of God, not of how-to avoid unpleasant situations. If this were the case, the prophet himself has been asked by God to endure very unpleasant situations. He is to marry a harlot (that is hardly a blessing even by the word of faith standards).Then put up with the adulterous ways of that harlot wife. The Prophet will be made a living drama of the pains Jehovah feels due to the spiritual adultery of his people. Again the faith people will read the first part of the 6th verse and conveniently leave out the second part “because you have rejected knowledge I have rejected you as priests.”
It did not say “because you have rejected knowledge you will live shorter lives.” So just a casual look, If they would care to look a bit closer, they would see how badly they are treating scripture.
NOW TO THE CLAIM THAT JESUS’ REASON FOR COMING WAS LONGEVITY OF LIFE
Kenneth Copeland, a leading figure in the faith movement explains abundant life (John 10:10) in these terms “long quality life.”
The sum of the faith teaching would be that Jesus came in order that man may be restored on this earth to the original position of dominion, happiness etc. In short Jesus came to secure wealth and health. Of course they will say you need to accept Jesus into your life in order to get this ‘good life ticket’, but as soon as you get this ticket you can then expect, by some taught techniques to claim what is yours in Christ. So the statement made by this person is quite representative of the large spectrum of the faith teaching.
If this is the reason Jesus came then we must say He himself died prematurely (at 33 years?),the apostles all died prematurely and in great pain for good measure (perhaps except John). If the reason why Jesus came was to secure Longevity on this earth then we must rebuke the good people who viewed themselves “as strangers and pilgrims. ..on their way (and death is the only exit) to a better country” – Hebrews 11:13-16.
If longevity of earthly life was the reason Jesus came, then he either came as some counter force to His own plan (which has already fixed days for each individual) – Hebrews 9:27, Psalm 139:9,… Or He is a capricious despot who does not know His earlier plan from his next change of plans. But we may be fairly certain that this horrendous blasphemy does not describe the God of Heaven. It may be a description of those human gods (practically all believers in this movement are taught that they gods), but this is not the God of the Holy Scriptures.
DEATH IS A TERRIBLE, SAD BUT AN ESTABLISHED ORDER OF LIFE IN A FALLEN WORLD
It is appointed once for man to live and then die-Hebrews 9:27, our days are numbered and fixed in the divine, ineffable plan of God. For the great and small, wise and foolish, strong and weak-death comes to all men; it is just a simple fact, even Methuselah finally succumbed to death.
Job 14:5 “Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass”-this too is a simple fact that faith prayer cannot change. Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them”.
Dear friends, in a very real sense, no death is untimely, no death is premature. We get the time Almighty God has pre-determined, not a minute more or a minute less. Jesus did not come to contradict the divine plan of God.
SO WHY DID JESUS COME?
The answer is too simple and clear in scripture that you wonder why this spurious answer was given in the first place.
Let me pose a simple illustration which will make the answering of this question simple. If I had an accident with my car and it was badly damaged to the extent it could not move, and then I called a mechanic to fix my car. What will the mechanic say if on arrival I actually tell Him the problem I desperately need fixed is the shortening of the length of the road I have to travel, put a snack shop after every 2 kilometers, and change my car from the simple Toyota to a Lamborghini? The mechanic would respond simply “I did not come to do those, that is not the problem that brought me to your rescue”. So we must ask the question as to why Jesus came, or else every Tom and Dick and Harry will supply any and every reason they feel like.
To what was the offer of the son of God responding? It was not poverty and sickness. It was not the desire to improve physical life of man. It was simply and plainly THE SIN QUESTION
MATTHEW 1:21 “…And you shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save his people from their sins”. The Mission of the savior was clear cut-to deal with the question of sin, an issue rarely mentioned within the word of faith circles. In the few times the problem of sin is mentioned in these circles, it is raised not as an offense to God who has been greatly wrathed, but as merely the hindrance to your good, “if only you can repent of your sin” we are told “a world of happiness and prosperity will be open to you”. This mindset has permeated evangelism which is predicated on felt needs. It is a gross devaluation of the tremendous work of Christ on the cross in behalf of sinners and to placate the calamitous wrath of God. It is a cheapening of the age long plan of redemption, when it is reduced to mere gratification of human wants and needs.
700 years before the coming of Jesus, the eagle-eyed prophet Isaiah had seen Him as the one who will be wounded for our transgressions (not poverty or physical sickness), He was bruised for our iniquities…and the chastisement for our peace was laid upon Him…and By His stripes we are healed” -Isaiah 53:4-6. What you have in the prediction of Isaiah is a Christ who is coming to deal with Transgressions, Iniquities and the penalty of sin in order to secure peace with God. It is in this connection and within that context is the healing spoken of there to be understood. It would be spiritual healing, a far deadly disease whose ramifications pour into an eternity of torment of sorrow.
I have posed the question time and again that if my faith in Christ is validated by the good life I live, what that says about the many Hindu, Pagan, and Atheist tycoons who live large without Jesus. How about the millions of saints who died poor (Luke 16:19-23), do we rubbish their profession of faith? How about Paul who learnt to be content in plenty and in want? (Philippians 4:11-13).The one thing that unites saints in all times and in all places is not their gratification of greed and lust; it is the singular blessed fact that they were saved from Sin and the penalty of that Sin. There is no doubt whatsoever in Paul’s mind what is the content of the Gospel-I Corinthians 15:1-4 and it is firmly a solution to the sin problem and the hostility between man and God, nowhere does Paul raise poverty and lavish life styles as the targets of the Gospel message.
Nowhere in scripture is Jesus presented as one who gives us long life, what he gives everyone who believes in Him is Eternal life, after this life.
For those who think Jesus only came to give them a good life, to keep them from sickness and disease, shield them from the ravages of life in a fallen world, have no comforts offered in Scripture. Texts like Revelation 21:1-5 simply does not apply to them, how will their tears be wiped away, tears that they never shed? Why would they be heaven, in future glory if they had their best life now?