"Wells Without Water" by Tricia Tillin
The Errors of the Word-of-Faith Movement (Part Four A of Four)
This four-part study is designed to demonstrate, using verbatim transcripts of the tapes of Kenneth Copeland, some of the errors in the "Positive Confession" movement.
You may find it hard to believe some of the things Copeland is reported as saying! But trust me, there has been NO tampering with the tapes. Not only did Copeland say these things in the 1980's when this study was first created (as a tape set called "Wells Without Water" on the Banner Ministries tape list) but he continues to reiterate them up to this very moment.
So do many, many others in the Word of Faith leadership.
These teachers are totally unrepentant of their heresies, despite having been approached by countless brethren who tried to point out their unscriptural teachings. They continue to teach doctrines that are dishonest in their scriptural content, deceptive in their outcome, and destructive to the genuine faith of a Christian.
EXTRACT ONE: THE PURPOSE AND GOAL OF THE MINISTRY IS PROSPERITY
The first message on this compilation tape shows us the goal of the Copeland ministry: Copeland: "Now the purpose and the goal of this ministry, this is THE purpose and THE goal of this ministry, I want you to turn off your religious thinking a minute. First thing somebody says 'what’s the purpose and goal of this ministry'...'well the purpose and goal of this ministry to get souls saved'..., well that’s true yes, that is the purpose of the body of Christ, that’s the purpose of every believer. But there are different offices of ministry, there are different callings, there are different purposes inside that calling, and the purpose and the calling of this ministry as of this day is to bring the body of Christ to a working, believing, operating, functioning knowledge of the laws that govern abundance in the kingdom of God.
When God says I’ll meet your needs according to My riches in glory, I want to know what those are, OK? And that’s where we are, is to share that with the body of Christ. To know what to do, how to function, in order to prosper in this earth, to be in line with the earth, in order to win the world and bring the body of Christ to a place where Jesus can come.
This emphasis on teaching the body of Christ the laws of prosperity has governed the Word of Faith ministry for some years now. Indeed, it is seen as central to the work of saving the world.
The fact that prosperity teaching is the goal and purpose of his entire ministry must mean that Copeland and the others like him see a different vision of the future than we do. It is this vision that’s at fault, much more than the supposed laws of prosperity.
What the Bible teaches is that God will supply your needs if you are truly serving Him. It also teaches that God cares about us in minute detail and if we are poor, without proper housing or employment or anything like that, we can pray and believe that God will deliver us from poverty.
God has nothing against you owning a house and a nice car so long as your heart is right with Him and you are not living in greed and materialism. The word says it is the love of money that's the root of all evil, not money itself, so do not be afraid to ask God to supply your needs, even to the point of abundance.
That’s one side of the question. Another point is this: yes, God wants us to be generous and to give as He leads us. It is not wrong to give to your church or minister or to other Christian works, of course not! It's also true that the measure you give is the measure you receive, not only in giving, in giving money that is, but in all areas of the Christian walk. If we are open handed and generous, we needn`t fear poverty because God will supply our needs as they arise.
So much for the positive side of things. But prosperity teaching goes much further than this. This whole subject is so huge it would take an entire article just to begin exploring it. I will have to trust that readers are familiar with the Bible and its teaching on riches, generosity and so forth. I hope you will be aware of the emphasis in scripture on being content with what you have, and avoiding the love of worldly things.
So I’ll just go on to the central vision of the prosperity message, that is, we need, as Copeland says; "To get into line with the earth in order to reach people".
Get Rich and Prosper to spread the Gospel
Copeland: I want to share some things with you that God showed me while we were in Africa, that I hadn’t seen before, never had occurred to me before, I should have but I didn`t... it just, err, a deeper revelation of what’s already going on... The list – the prayer list that we take, the computer readout on the prayer lists that are brought to me, all the prayer requests that are brought to me for me to pray and lay hands and so forth - running away the most request, is for 'help in my financial life'. And 'in where I am right now with the—the way the – the world's functioning financially and the – the needs and necessities of my life'. Far and away, that’s the number one prayer request and that’s for two reasons, number one because the whole world's sick financially. Two, is because we have some reputation of knowledge in that area, so people are consequently gonna ask for prayer concerning that, where we are concerned, because we don`t write them back and say, well God may be trying to get everything ya got. Ya know (ha ha!)
So it is important – it is vital to what the body of Christ is doing right now, to know how to function in this. One other thing I`m going to tell ya before I go any further: THIS IS, this is the message this ministry is going to preach until God says different, THIS is what we're going to preach and teach. I'm going to preach it, until you get tired of hearing it, and then when you get tired of hearing it, I`m going to preach it until you get untired of hearing it. It's going to be just like it was on faith, back there—15, 16, 18 years ago, when God was getting hold of the people that would listen to Him concerning faith and righteousness in God. You are going to hear about finances and about how to prosper in the Kingdom of God and how to prosper in this earth and bring the body of Christ - thereby, bring the world to a saving knowledge of Jesus - you are going to hear it, and you are going to hear it, until you either shout or stick your fingers in your ears, one or the two, but you're gonna find out and God is not gonna be held responsible for your poverty and for your life."
There is today an increasing demand on the church to dominate the nations and Christianise the world. We are being urged to become an army sent out to capture all men for Christ, despite the prophecies that speak of a world-wide apostasy and satanic worship in the end-times.
One of the ways in which we can change the world's system, so they say, is to gather into the church all the wealth of the nations, (the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the church they say, misquoting the OT prophecies) and with these riches we can influence governments and change society for God.
Furthermore, on a personal level, in order to impress men and women of the world with the gospel, we ought to be just as rich, just as successful, just as worldly in effect as they are. We have to "get in line with the world"; we have to get on to their level.
Well I don`t need to tell you, that this is not the way of God! It never has been and it never will be. The power of riches is a corrupt power. We have seen it bring men and women of God, even recently, to a complete shipwreck of their faith.
Once the motivation of wealth takes hold, preachers get hooked on receiving more and more money from their followers, and their spiritual lives go into decline. These men begin to lie and cheat and exploit Christians simply to keep their status. They compromise so as not to lose followers, who begin to represent an income rather than people in need of help and support. It's a ploy of the devil.
Prosperity teaching is not going to win the world. The preaching of the gospel doesn’t need million-dollar jets or glass cathedrals to be effective, anymore than it needs a Vatican City and treasure houses of paintings and works of art. God abhors this materialistic attitude because it exploits and endangers His beloved sheep. Let God supply your every need, but don`t be coerced into supporting the "Salvation of the world by the Laws of Prosperity".
You`ll notice too, that Copeland says the greatest amount of prayer requests is for financial help. Isn`t that sad? Have we become so deaf to God that our only concern in life is to be prosperous and successful? God forgive us, we are the Laodicean church! We are poor and naked but we don`t see it. We need God so much.
EXTRACT TWO: COPELAND'S SPIRIT COMES OUT OF HIS BODY AND HIS RESISTANCE OF IT IS SINFUL
Copeland: And I got into a service one night...I was standing - [it was in a city auditorium it had a regular type stage with curtains on both sides] and I was standing over there, you know like you do, and - and I was standing behind the curtain waiting for 7.30 to come, I don`t like to start at 7.29 or 7.31, I like to start at 7.30. That’s what the sign says, so I just figured God would bless not lying - you know, and I`m standing there just waiting on 7.30. The microphone was standing on, a –a, mic stand out there in the middle of the platform and I`m standing back over there behind the curtain, and – and- and my body was so [eeky? (tape unclear)] and so tired my knees would hardly hold me up. And I`m standing going like this and the [eekiest?(tape unclear)] sensations started taking place inside me I have ever felt in my life. And suddenly I began to be a-w-a-r-e that my body, that my spirit is coming out of my body.
It scared me and I grabbed hold of it with my will and wouldn`t let it go. And I said, 'now God, somehow now its 7.30 and I`m going out there where that microphone is'. I really didn`t think I could make my foot go one step. I thought if I move it, I’d fall over. I didn`t have any energy, nothing left in me , zero, zip, that's it. Now I`ve been exhausted before, I mean, I‘ve been an athlete all my life and done all that, I`ve played till there wasn`t any play left you know, you go and take a shower and in a little bit you're alright - but this time, man, there was nothing left. I did not have anything there.
I am trying to impress on you that it was God, Holy God! And I said 'in the name of Jesus', and I started, the word says, say to the mountain, and the mountain was my feet, they wouldn`t move and I said ' in the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus, you will walk, bless God, you will go out there, I will not back down, lay down, bless the Lord God, I will lay down and die before I back off and say, I can`t, in the name of JESUS'.
I just kept on and kept on, and I finally got out there to the microphone and took the microphone and sang about four notes, then the anointing of God hit me. Man, I want you to know, I preached half of the night, I mean with [power coming (?)] out of my body, and I-I mean and I-I really did, I just preached and preached, and preached and preached and preached. I got back over to the hotel and I couldn`t quit. And went to bed and couldn`t sleep, and all night long I didn`t sleep (mumbles and stammers) got everything packed, got everything going, went out to the airport, and got into the airplane and flew the thing home. Couldn`t quit! I got home and decided I’d better go to bed. I went in there, layed on the bed and finally went off to sleep and slept for fourteen hours.
Now it took days and days and days and days and days, to get that off me and to get to where I felt I was just, you know, just anywhere just near like normal - not rested, dear Lord, I didn’t feel rested for years after that. Go on, you can laugh, but every meeting I would go into I would go down to the bottom, and I would go home and try and rest a few days and I would not get rested till I had to go in another meeting and finally got into a rest debit. I couldn`t catch up with it, I couldn`t get rested, my body was getting weaker all the time. It kept getting weaker after that night. It began to get weaker and weaker and weaker and weaker and I began to think, I don`t know what I`m going to do. And then I got the word, well I thought, well I-I want to meet the people's needs by the power of God, I-I, but if it involves anything physical, I`m liable to die right in the middle of the prayer line, now I`m telling you it ain’t funny (?)( tape unclear) and I just, I didn`t know what to do.
Over a period of three or fours years, I noticed a strong spirit of compromise on me and I don`t compromise. I`ve based this ministry on not compromising the word of God. The little things began to get in. Sin wasn`t as repulsive to me as it used to be, and not nearly as repulsive as it should have been. Even though I was standing against it, it began to kind of aggravate me, because, O well you know, I mean, everybody does that (mumbles). Pressure got on me so bad, that I began to say some negative things once in a while and I’d hear that stuff come out my mouth, and I couldn’t believe my own ears. It would come out before I could catch it, and I’d think, 'Lord this ain`t right'. Always in the past if something like that would start out of my mouth, I’d catch it and certainly wouldn`t let it come out of my mouth, and I would repent and renounce it and fall on my face. And now I found myself being a little bit, say, a little bit aggravated because, bless God for fifteen years, I hadn’t had to rant or cuss or nothing , I can`t even say, I can`t!! Huh?
I still had the revelation of it, but I was having a hard time trusting. Now when I begin to minister, I get on the road, get in the word of God the anointing would come on me, man! And I mean I hit that platform, and I mean it was good old age of hearing it .[??] I’d come off that platform and get out of my ministry and get in my every day life and it was breaking my back, physically and spiritually.
It finally got to be such a heavy burden on me, that I cried out to God, I said, I can`t stand this anymore, I got to go one way or the other, and I am not going to go that other way. Now we got to come to an understanding here someway or another, so God began to deal with me. He said, I want you to go on a fast next January - this was back last summer. He said, I want you to go on a fast next January, and He said, when you pray, and when think, and when you start to pray about it, don`t even pray about it, just talk in tongues about it a little bit, He said, don`t tell anybody about it, don`t tell Gloria or nobody what you`re going to do.
So January came, and I got into that fast, and I began to pray and seek God. God all around me had begun to speak through the mouths of other spiritual people, and began to tell me, and I didn`t want to hear. It would make me so mad, it would just fly all over me, just like taking an old rooster and rubbing his feathers the wrong way…urrr Man ! Somebody come up to me and say, 'Oh! Brother Copeland, The Lord is telling me, that God wants you to double up and get faster and reach more countries and more nations and go to the other parts of the world', and I`m thinking on the inside and I’d [be saying (mutters) (tape unclear)] ' yea just shut up will you!! I`m worn out! Besides that for the first time in my life I`ve got a son that’s old enough to do somethings with me as my friend and my buddy. He loves to hunt, I love to hunt; he loves to fish, I love to fish; he loves the boat, I love the boat, ha ha ! He loves to water-ski, I love to water-ski; he loves to snow-ski, I love to snow-ski, (I fall, he skis) but I love being with him, and I love to do all these things with him. And for the first time in my life, I`m not sweating where my meals are coming from. I don`t have a bunch a money in the bank, but it got to where I can buy my groceries. And over a period of time, just when things would happen, different people had given me guns to hunt with, and gifts from God, I knew they were from God and I said, for the first time in my life I got a gun in there to hunt everything, and every season, and I want to hunt, and so does John.
And now God's coming in here and telling me, I want you to be going one hundred per cent commitment, I want you [fully(?unclear)], I said 'don`t you give me that trash', I weren`t ready to hear that. And I finally told the Lord, 'we got to get something straight here…' Now I-I don`t know whether I just want to get out here and die for you or not. Now it had been all that years ago, that I would have died for Him on the spot. My heart still wanted to, but my old bone meat didn`t. My old flesh didn`t, and my flesh was ruling me, in my own personal life, and it was about to get over into my ministry and I knew it. So it had to be stopped before it could get over into that ministry. I’d rather die than have that ministry putrefied with the flesh.
So, I got into that fast. Oh dear Lord, I got out there with God and God began to work me over and I let Him, I told Him, I said, I'm not going to be able to do this without any strength, I said, you`ve got the strength and I`m here, so let's get at it. I had already made up my mind, and I said, well whatever you want to do, I’ll do it, dear God. I don`t know what I was thinking about anyway, that ain`t nothing but sin. If I know I`m going to fall dead in my tracks the next time I lay my hands on, well-well I’ll just die that’s all, I`m going to do it.
Well then God started to turn my heart. Then I started tearing the thing up too, digging around in it, digging the selfishness out of it, and about fourteen days on nothing but water, I found the seed to that compromise. I was begging God, show me where that thing is, I got to know where that spirit got into my ministry and into my life, I-I, how did it get in there? I hate sin with a passion, how did that get into me, got buried up in my flesh somewhere. How did it do it? He said, 'the day, the day you down there in such and such town, standing over there behind that curtain and your spirit starting coming out of your body and you jumped back like you thought you was dying and you let fear get a hold of you', and I remember, I did.
And I said, 'well God, I mean - ha-ha, - really now, what kind of horse do you think I am, that they're not going at least to give [a few chairs?(unclear)] to stand there and die'. He said, 'you weren`t dying', I said, 'what you mean, I wasn`t dying, my spirit was a coming out of my body'! He said, 'that’s right, you were fixing to'- He said, 'you were about to come out of your body and I was going to allow you to minister to that congregation without your body. You were going to go through that congregation like a whirlwind of the power and the glory of God'. I said 'you`ll have to show me that in the scripture'. And He said and He showed me Second Corinthians, and chapter One, two, three, four, five and six.
The Apostle Paul said, 'I bear, I carry around with me the dying in my body for you, that the life of God might be manifest in my mortal flesh' he said, 'the one that raised Jesus from the dead is in you and He will make alive your mortal body'.
He said, 'you missed that opportunity for that experience'. I said 'what was I going to do?' He said, 'I`m not going to tell you, coz you missed it...' I said, 'could I have a second chance?' –ha-ha. He said, 'you walk with Me, I`m going to teach and train you about the glory'.
I saw where the compromise had came in, and at that time I read about the Apostle Paul, and the fact that he wouldn`t quit…. No Lord. They tried to kill him, but the bible says, he wound up being the aged Paul. And I got to reading Maria’s Woodworth-Etter's Diary, and she preached and prayed and preached and prayed and preached and prayed til when she was a little over forty years old she couldn’t get out of the bed. Every morning somebody would have to come and lift her body out of the bed. She was so tired and so weary, and they would help her, and she would get to the auditorium and get to where she was to minister, and the glory would come on her and she would preach from nine thirty in the morning until one-two o clock in the morning.
But, I said Lord, ain`t you going to give the women any rest at all? He said, O yea, read on a little further. So God ministered to her, and said, I want you to start ministering healing, and I want you to start laying hands on the sick. I thought, yea, God you`re going to kill her! And she prayed, she said, I prayed and said, God how can I do this, I can`t get out of bed without help now! She was forty-five years old, a year younger than I was, felt like the oldest woman in the world.
I heard Oral Roberts, I heard a tape that Oral Roberts, preached back during the tent days, he said one night "I feel like the tiredest man in the whole world but I can’t quit, Can’t quit." And that was thirty years ago and he’s still swinging a big stick. Praise God, Hallelujah.
She began to lay hands on the sick, and that’s when another manifestation began to occur. God would freeze her body. All of her physical functions would stop except her heart-beat and her breathing, Oh, He rested it! Sometimes she’d fall over and just lay there, sometimes for a few minutes sometimes for a few hours. A few times for days. She rested without movement, and twenty five thousand people paraded by her to see the statue woman. And over ninety percent of them were born-again just standing they’re looking at her. Why? The glory was flowing.
This second message given in July 1983 shows us that something is seriously wrong with Copeland’s understanding of the scriptures on the subject of the body and the spirit.
Out of Body Experiences Necessary for Copeland's Ministry
He says that God showed him that compromise and sin began to get a hold on his life because he resisted God's efforts to bring his spirit out of his body. God supposedly wanted to have Copeland preach to the audience as a disembodied spirit.
Now right away we can see some links here with occult teachings, because the basis of the metaphysical religions and cults, like Christian Science, is that the spirit, your spirit, and the spiritual realm is the true reality not the material world.
For instance, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science says this: "Spirit is real and eternal; matter is unreal and temporal. Spirit is god; man is his image and likeness. Therefore man is not material, he is spiritual".
Thus, it would be a higher experience to quit the material body, and move into the "spirit realm". Of course New Agers teach this too, and they tell us we must train our imagination to 'see in the spiritual realm', and to meditate until we contact the beings that inhabit that so-called higher realm.
The Korean Pastor, Yonggi Cho, calls this realm the Fourth Dimension and says it contains both gods and demonic spirits. He teaches that this present material world has three dimensions, but the Fourth is the realm beyond which contains spiritual things, gods, demons and the Lord God Himself. Of course God's Heaven is far above the demonic realm and He doesn’t exist in any fourth dimension at all but in the City of God - but we can’t go into that now.
However, satan has been telling people for centuries that the spirit realm is the important thing, not this world. He wants men and women to contact his demons, to hear their voices, to be guided and deceived by them, and to believe that all the while they are entering a higher realm of consciousness.
Now Copeland also believes that the spirit realm is the important one, the only true reality, and consequently when he senses his spirit leaving his body, (that’s what new agers call an OBE or out-of-the-body-experience), he believes it will lead him to a more powerful Christian experience. Consequently, to resist it is to disobey God.
(Copeland does say that he was totally exhausted at the time. That, and the stress of the build-up to the meeting may have caused him to begin to faint. But I will add that, personally, I don't discount - whether through occult spiritual exercises or because of extreme circumstances like a near-death trauma - that it is actually possible for the spirit to be parted from the physical body momentarily. But this is an experience neither to be desired nor sought-for.)
We mustn’t forget that the Positive Confession Movement has roots that go deep into occult teachings, though most of the leaders of the movement are unaware of this. They have picked up the doctrines without really knowing where they come from. But we have to remember the goal of the New Age Movement is to deliver man from his so-called lower or carnal nature, and for him to become a spiritual being. This is also part of Gnostic teaching.
However, the Bible teaches that we are an integrated being of body, soul and spirit. God created us to be human and not a spirit-being imprisoned in a material body, ever seeking a way to overcome the limitations of the body.
Adam was created as a body of flesh, and a personality, and a spirit. I Thess 5: 23, says this: "May the God of peace himself, sanctify you wholly, and may your spirit, and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
You are not just a spirit being in a body. You are a whole person - body, soul and spirit - and your body will also be resurrected and glorified at death or at the rapture. God recognises the necessity of the body. Jesus himself of course has a glorified body. He is just not a spirit being. If God were so very ashamed of and opposed to the material realm and our bodies, He would deliver us out of them entirely at death, yet he chooses to "clothe us" with a glorified BODY after death!
Out of the body experiences
are highly sought-after in New Age circles today.
You can even buy books to tell you how to achieve them.
One occult book says this:
"The fourth dimension is that of the will or life spirit, and it is of this world that the real individual is a part. It is the ego who uses the physical body as a tool with which to achieve his purpose. When it is completely under his control, and he becomes omnipotent and has achieved conquest over matter, he can after careful training shed his physical body like a coat" ("The Finding of the Third Eye", page 50 by Vera Stanley Alder.)
Copeland quotes some scriptures in the second book of Corinthians to back up his experience, but he misunderstands the whole context of what Paul is saying. If you read chapters, one, two, three and four of 2 Corinthians you can see Paul is speaking of the humbling of his flesh to allow the life and glory of Jesus to shine through his humanity. It was his submission to the life of Jesus within his mortality that empowered Paul as an Apostle of God. In no way was he speaking of a spiritual experience that took him out of or beyond the body!
Interestingly, Paul DID have an "out of the body" experience, [that is, he was not really sure whether he was in his body or out of it at the time] but he was very reluctant to speak of it, and he does not attach ANY doctrinal significance to it whatsoever. That is, he nowhere suggests this is, or should ever be, the normal experience for a minister, or something to be aimed at.
"It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." (Cor 12:1-4)
More worryingly, there is a teaching embedded within Copeland's statements that can only be teased out by knowing the entire breadth of his doctrine, and how it is rooted in the Latter Rain understanding of the scriptures. I am referring to the teaching on "the glory" - something that has now been introduced as part of the Toronto Blessing and associated experiences. Notice that he hints at this by saying God told him "I`m going to teach and train you about the glory."
Now if you read the passages that Copeland suggests you will find teaching on "the glory" all right. Copeland is rather shy of going into this area on the tape, perhaps concerned that his listeners would misunderstand, or reject such heresy (quite rightly) but underneath what he says, and his treatment of his out-of-body experience, is the belief that certain super-Christians (the "overcomers") will ultimately transcend their mortal bodies and walk in glorious spiritual bodies on the earth!
This teaching is BASED UPON (but does not conform to) the passages mentioned, from 2 Corinthians. You need to read them for yourselves, but I will just quote a couple of relevant passages, to show the misinterpretation of them:
"But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech-- unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Cor 3:7-18 NKJ)
This passage is key to certain beliefs throughout the charismatic world. It is believed that Christians can become so enlightened that they will become "transformed" (some call this "raptured!") into the glorious new body of the resurrection, and thus be like Jesus not only in spirit but in body! (On the earth.)
You can perhaps now see that Copeland, in his own OBE experience, believed he was about to be "transformed" by God at his meeting, and because he resisted the "glory of God" he was pulled back into the world and compromised. Only THIS explanation makes any sense of what Copeland says! (No wonder he skips over the doctrine and does not explain it to his listeners.)
It should not need to be said that the glorious resurrection body is given to us AFTER DEATH (or in the Rapture, if that comes sooner.) Even within the same passage of scripture, Paul states clearly that we have the Spirit "in an earthen vessel" - the physical body - so that the glory should not be OURS, but always GOD'S.
"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (2 Cor 4:6-11 KJV)
What could be more plain? And this:
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." (2 Cor 5:1-8 KJV)
This is another key verse used to "prove" that Christians can be clothed with the glorious spiritual body on earth if they reach the heights of spiritual enlightenment.
However, it is quite obvious to me that Paul meant the post-death body, like the body of Jesus after his resurrection. This is a heavenly body. Of course, if you are going to argue that "heaven is on earth" as Paul Cain does for example, then I suppose you would have no problem also arguing that the spiritual, resurrection body comes upon living Christians on the earth!
Part and parcel of the belief that we can be transformed, is that we have a god-like nature. This is explored in the next extract:
EXTRACT THREE: YOU ARE A GOD.
Copeland: First John, chapter two, verse five: "Whoso keepeth his word in him, verily is the love of God perfected. Hereby know we, that we are in Him". Now remember we said in Romans 5, it says: "the Holy Ghost sheds the love of God abroad in your heart". It’s in there. His nature, this force of his presence is in there, this is an omnipotent force and it’s in there, it is the very nature of God. You see, you have to see through this spiritually a little bit because you can hardly put it over into English words, ha-ha! It’s bigger than that; we’re talking about God. But now, it is the nature of God, very much like you are a human and you impart humanity into a child that’s born of you, Ain’t that right? He is a human, he is born after you. It’s because you are a human, and you have imparted the nature of humanity into that born child. God is God, He is a spirit, and Jesus said, the time's a-coming and now is, they that worship Him worship Him in spirit and in truth. And He imparted in you when you were born-again. Peter said it just as plain: we are partakers of the divine nature. That nature is life eternal in absolute perfection and that was imparted, injected into your spirit-man and you have that imparted into you by God, just as same as you imparted into your child the nature of humanity. That child wasn’t born a whale, born a human, ain’t that true? Well you don’t 'have' a human, do ya? No, - you are one. You don’t have a god in you, you are one, and we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
We have come now to a notorious teaching common among word of faith ministers, that "ye are gods". This is based on a misinterpretation of scripture. We partake of the divine nature of God ONLY through our spiritual unity with Jesus Christ, NOT by having it "injected" or "imparted" into us like a 'flu jab!
Though these ministers may not know it, they have been led astray by one of the subtlest lies of the devil. This lie is a core doctrine of the New Age movement, and many other cults who believe man is godlike in nature and needs to rediscover this great fact about himself.
The bible teaches that man is a created being - yet more, a FALLEN being out of touch with the Godhead - who must be redeemed. That redemption takes the form of Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God. The (eternal) life is IN THE SON. We partake of it when we willingly enter into communion (com-union, ie, with-unity) with Jesus.
Satan’s religion opposes this teaching of the Bible. He says that man can make it alone. Satan wants to show us that we have supernatural powers, divine powers as he would call them, and that using these powers we can overcome our problems, put the world to rights, and assure ourselves of a glorious future. If only we will open ourselves to his supernatural wisdom, and learn the laws of the universe, we can change the world, he says.
This scheme is attractive to man for several reasons. It plays on our feelings of pride and it avoids the question of sin. Also, it does away with the vital necessity of God's salvation.
So much for the New Age doctrine. However, without realising it many Christians are following the same satanic path. Copeland has changed the Love of God into an omnipotent force, which we possess.
Now, is God's love an impersonal force or is it part of the nature of God? Does it belong to God, or to you?
The Bible says that God is Love but it never says that Love is God. God is a Person not a power source. His attributes, like love, flow from His personal will and under His own direction. We can experience them through our unity in the Spirit with God, but we can never own the attributes of God for ourselves.
When we are born again, our human spirits are made alive to God. God's Holy Spirit unites with us, and thus we become one spirit with God. As in marriage (which is a picture of our union with Christ) the two become "one" yet neither person is dissolved in the other, and both remain individuals. It is a partnership, or a sharing. That’s what Peter meant in 2 Peter 1:4, when he said, "we become partakers of the divine nature".
"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
We become partners with God Himself, but we do not "become gods". That word "partakes", in Greek is koinonos, and it the word that is translated in other scriptures as fellowship or partnership or communion.
This merely implies having something by virtue of being associated with someone else. We understand this principle in daily life, where we have business partners and marriage partners. We also understand this concept in Holy Communion where we "partake" of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, not in reality - for the bread and wine do not actually become flesh and blood - but even so in a real way, for the mystical union between us is remembered and strengthened as we symbolically feed on the Living Bread. What we do outwardly, we are doing in our hearts, feeding on Jesus and receiving the benefits of his death.
The scriptures tell us that, by coming into oneness with Jesus Christ the Saviour, we can share (as if it were our own!) HIS righteousness, HIS victory over sin, HIS wisdom and HIS obedience, etc. But does that mean we BECOME a messiah, that we ARE divine, that we are, as Hagin says below, an INCARNATION? No!
To understand why Copeland believes we possess a divine nature when we are born-again, we have to see how he interprets the creation of man.
Man in the God Class
The common teaching of Kenyon, Hagin, Capps and all the fathers of positive confession, is that man was made in the god-class as they say, that is, man was created to be on the level of the god-head. That is how they interpret the scripture that man is "made in the likeness of God".
Elsewhere, Copeland says:
"God's reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself...he was not a little like God, he was not almost like God, he was not subordinate to God even..." - and
"Adam in the Garden of Eden was God manifested in the flesh. He was God's very image, the very likeness..." - and -
"Adam was walking as god. Adam walked in God's class. Adam did things in the class of God.... He was created in the god-class, but when he committed high treason, he fell below the god-class..." - and -
"Am I God? Man was created in the god class - he was not created in the animal class, he was in the god-class..Peter said "you become partakers of the divine nature". All right. Are we gods? We are a class of gods!"
And worst of all, Copeland boldly states: "You are Jesus in the flesh"...
How does he come to these beliefs? Well, if God made man as a fellow-god, then what Adam lost in the Fall was his god-nature. So, according to Word-of-Faith thinking, when Jesus came as the Second Adam, it was a mission to recover and restore the god-nature to mankind (whosoever would take up the offer of exercising it, that is.).
However, as most Bible students already know, God did not create Adam "in the god-class" or as a reproduction of Himself. Firstly, there is only ONE Godhead, and nobody and nothing will ever be in that "class". Only God is divine. To teach anything else is to fly in the face of the entire word of God!
There is but One God in three Persons, and only they posses the divine attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. Only God can create matter from nothing. Only God knows all things, and upholds all things.
Secondly, Adam was created with a body of the earth, and an eternal spirit. This did not make him divine! As I have already pointed out, Copeland believes that there are only two natures, divine and satanic. He misses the point here, for human beings possess a human spirit which is neither divine nor satanic.
To teach that every man and woman possesses, at least potentially, a piece of divinity from the Godhead is very near to the Gnostic doctrine which is that we all have "a divine spark" within us that has been quenched by the Fall, but which can be reactivated by learning how to co-operate with the laws of the universe and the powers of God.
God created Adam not as a spirit-being or a god, but as a human being - as "man-kind". Animals were created in their kinds (or, families) and Adam and Eve were created as man-kind, the family of man. Certainly, Adam enjoyed a close relationship with God in his perfection, but that is very far from divinity.
We have a relationship to God that is higher than the animals, higher even than the angels, but we are not gods!
What does it really mean, that we are made "in the likeness of God, in God's image ". Is Copeland correct to say that when God created Adam, he was an exact duplicate of God, a replica of God in every detail?
Many scholars have debated this text from Gen 1:25:
"And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
A "likeness" (DEMUTH in Hebrew) is a resemblance, or model, of something, but this passage shows that it does not necessarily mean an EXACT copy:
"Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness (same word) of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness (same word) of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings..." (obviously not identical to man, then!!) Ezek 1:5
What then does it mean that God made man "in his image". Gen 1:27 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."
The word "image" (TSELEM) is also used of "a statue or idol". But this is not just an inanimate object, but has the idea of a "spirit" or "ghost" within it. But by implication this means the resemblance of something or somebody, as a ghost resembles a man. Yet the two objects are not the SAME. A ghost lacks the substance and reality of a real person.
No, God was not "reproducing
Himself" as Copeland claims. God made man in His own "likeness," reflecting
some of His own perfections: perfect in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness,
and with dominion over the creatures
There is NOTHING that can adequately carry God's likeness, for He is unique - as this scripture testifies:
Isa 40:18-26 "To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? The workman melteth a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved. Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers;--- To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth."
The Image of God
In a quote from the Jamieson,
Fausset, and Brown Commentary, we find: "And in what did this "image of
God" consist? Not in the erect form or features of man; not in his intellect,
because the Devil and his angels are in this respect far superior; not in his
immortality, because he does not have, like God, a past as well as a future
eternity of being; but in the moral dispositions of his soul, commonly called
The verses referred to in this quote are Eph 4:24 "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." and Col 3:10 "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him" .
From this we can clearly see that the "new man" in christ, the image restored by redemption, is to do with righteousness and a right relationship to God, and consists in perceiving and walking in truth. It is not about being "gods", having divine attributes, taking dominion or using the powers of the Godhead for ourselves.
If you do believe that man is divine, and that he lost his divinity at the Fall, then it is but a short step to reclaiming that divinity at salvation. If Jesus Christ was re-born as a man anointed with the Spirit, then we all as Spirit-filled, re-born men and women share the very same divine power, authority and attributes as Jesus Christ. Copeland does indeed go down this road. He believes that we are literally re-born as a god, on an equal footing with Jesus.
Kenneth Hagin also says, "in the new birth God imparts his very nature, substance and being to our human spirits" and he says that, "every born-again man is an incarnation, as much an incarnation of God as Jesus." He goes further to say that, "the church is Christ. It is the incarnation of Christ, and we need to realise that in order to save the world."
If the incarnate Christ is now present on this world, saving the world, defeating the powers of evil and ruling on behalf of God, I ask you, what is the point of Jesus Christ returning in the flesh? None! The work of restoring the glories of Eden is in our hands, and Jesus is a mere figure-head in this task. God has become an "icon" of belief, a beloved "father-figure" in OUR fight to overthrow satan and take the nations for Christ. Jesus Christ has become a Type, a Pattern, the one who went on ahead to show us how to achieve godhood!
If human beings are receiving the divine nature, equal with Jesus, and learning to be gods of this world, then our world's fate lies in re-education, not salvation. We need to teach men and women to act like gods, and to take dominion back from the devil! And is that not what is taught by every triumphalist, restorationist group in the churches? But where exactly does God fit into all this?
© 1995-2013 Tricia Tillin of Banner Ministries. All rights reserved. Cross+Word Website: http://www.banner.org.uk/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.