LCN Article
Build Genuine Faith

May / June 2016

Roderick C. Meredith (1930-2017)

I have just finished reading a New York Times Op/Ed article entitled, “Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me.” It is a very touching piece by a woman diagnosed with cancer, describing how she has studied and been influenced by the so-called “prosperity gospel”—and how, when told she had stage-four cancer, she was devastated and began to search for answers. 

This writer, Kate Bowler, is a respected religious scholar teaching at one of America’s most prominent schools of theology.  In her article, she describes the prosperity gospel: “The modern prosperity gospel can be directly traced to the turn-of-the-century theology of a pastor named E. W. Kenyon, whose evangelical spin on New Thought taught Christians to believe that their minds were powerful incubators of good or ill. Christians, Kenyon advised, must avoid words and ideas that create sickness and poverty; instead, they should repeat: ‘God is in me. God’s ability is mine. God’s strength is mine. God’s health is mine. His success is mine. I am a winner. I am a conqueror.’ Or, as prosperity believers summarized it for me, ‘I am blessed’” (February 14, 2016).

She then goes on to describe the “prosperity preachers who blanketed the airwaves with it. ‘Blessed’ is the shorthand for the prosperity message. We see it everywhere, from a TV show called ‘The Blessed Life’ to the self-justification of Joel Osteen, the pastor of America’s largest church, who told Oprah in his Texas mansion that ‘Jesus died that we might live an abundant life.’”

Faith from Our Father

Brethren, God has not yet begun to “call” this dear woman to the genuine understanding that I hope all of us have. Her eyes have not yet been fully opened. For, as Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). But when her eyes are fully opened, she may become able to understand that it is important not to take a few verses out of context when trying to understand something in the Bible, but to take time to study all of the verses involved on that subject. She needs—as all of us need—to realize that the Bible is genuinely inspired by God and we need to study all of it, not just a little part of it. She will then understand how we all should realize the meaning of Jesus’ command: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4). We should all understand that, when Jesus Christ refers to the Old Testament verses as the “word of God” it was the only written word of God available during Christ’s time on the earth, as the New Testament was not yet written.

So all of the 66 books of the Bible were inspired by God and reveal “His mind” on any topic. We have to deeply understand that! We should all understand that we should “let the Bible interpret the Bible.” In other words, if a certain verse is difficult to understand by itself, we need to sincerely and thoroughly study all of the verses on this topic to get the full Truth of what God’s word teaches.

Therefore, with this understanding, we should realize how wrong and even how “silly” is the idea indicated above that Jesus died so that we might have more “stuff.” For the entire Bible is extremely clear in its teaching on why Jesus Christ had to die.

Ephesians 1:7 tells us: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” And again, God inspired the Apostle Paul to state why Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood for us. In Colossians 1:14 we read: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

Coming: A Sword!

Far from promising riches and abundance of physical things in this life, the true Jesus Christ of the Bible warned His followers:

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34–39).

Again, Jesus Christ clearly instructed His disciples: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24–26).

Obviously, when you study all the scriptures on this topic, it is very clear that the true followers of Jesus Christ will go through all kinds of trials and “tests.” But in the end, Almighty God will deliver us and bring us into His everlasting Kingdom. Though faced with His imminent execution at the hands of the Romans, the Apostle Paul ended his last letter on this transcendent note: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6–8).

Dear brethren, our Father in heaven has called us out of this confused world. He is teaching and training us to be kings and priests assisting Christ in ruling the entire world in the soon-coming Government of God. In the inspired “prayer of the saints” set forth in Revelation 5:10, the true saints are pictured as telling Christ that He has “made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.”

But, meanwhile, we must learn to walk and live by faith: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). This faith must be “informed” and based squarely on the inspired word of God! Then, after genuine repentance and baptism, we are promised the gift of God’s precious Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38–39). He has promised to “hear” the prayers of the righteous: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:17–18).

Yet it is very plainly revealed in Scripture that God’s “deliverance” may sometimes take the form of granting us eternal life in His Kingdom when we have had the faith and courage to serve God even unto death—as did Jesus Christ Himself, the martyr Stephen, the Apostle Paul, and hundreds of other faithful servants of God down through the ages.

Faith for Healing

One way or another, God has promised to “heal” His servants. As His Word states: “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven” (James 5:14–15).

Yet God’s Word reveals that there are occasional “exceptions”—where “God knows what is best” and decides not to heal in particular situations. As the Apostle Paul explained:

“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:7–10).

In my own life, I have found that God in His mercy has allowed sickness, infirmity and trials to test me in order to make me “cry out” to God even more fervently and to be more passionate about serving Him. Yet I have personally seen dozens of people who were supernaturally healed by God Almighty! I am not talking about someone “getting over” a cold or some minor thing. I am talking about supernatural, powerful healings involving cancer, heart disease or being paralyzed. These miracles were not brought about by some shouting, arm-waving preacher in a tent “show” trying to attract attention. Rather, Almighty God heard the fervent prayers of a faithful minister who believed that Almighty God would act according to His inspired Word and heal as He has promised normally to do.

Also, I hope we all understand how the Bible repeatedly tells us that answered prayer involves not only belief, but one who has surrendered to obey Almighty God and His commandments. For God’s Word tells us: “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).

At this point, I would like to invite all of you who have not done so to request our absolutely free booklets Does God Heal Today? and Twelve Keys to Answered Prayer. If you do not have them, contact the Regional Office nearest you or go online to to download or order your own copies of these vital booklets. They will give you a deeper understanding of this whole topic!

Brethren, let us all who are mercifully “called” by God at this time learn to really exercise total faith and trust in God’s word and “walk by faith.” If we learn to do this in this way and do all things according to God’s word, we will indeed have a completely “abundant life” in God’s Kingdom and in His Family forever. Far beyond anything remotely understood by the Prosperity Gospel preachers, once we are resurrected by God and brought into the Family of God, we will experience a depth of joy, prosperity and total fulfillment, which most humans have never started to commence to understand. As the Apostle Paul stated: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:18–19).

When the true Jesus Christ comes back to this earth and the true Christians are revealed as full sons of God, we will have a glory and majesty and power exceeding what human beings have ever imagined. So we need to go forward in real faith—faith based on what the Bible actually says. For in the end, we are real “winners” because we were willing to believe what God actually says and obey Him and “walk with God” and with Christ throughout all eternity.