(23)My Word-of-Faith Testimony

by Tricia Tillin

Website: 

http://www.intotruth.org/wof/mytest.html 

I do not like putting my own testimony online, because

that seems self-indulgent. I would not do so simply for

reasons of arrogance. But in the interests of helping others,

I would like to share my own experiences with Positive

Confession or Word-Faith or the Word of Faith Movement.

 

LED INTO THE PATH

I was born again in 1965 within the sphere of the UK

Anglican church, and fellowshipped in various denominations,

some of them charismatic. By the 1980’s the Charismatic

Renewal was well under way, but it was turning towards

Restorationism. I felt disappointed with that, and at the same

time dissatisfied with the level of spirituality of the normal

British church, and felt a need to seek out more lively

fellowship. A friend told me about Kenneth Copeland’s

ministry which was just then trying to establish itself. I began

to receive his magazine, and friends lent me his tapes.

This seemed just what I was looking for! It was fresh, positive,

exciting, and full of deeper biblical knowledge. I wanted to

move on. I wanted to know God in a deeper way, and to

fellowship with those who did not sneer at miracles.

 

The Copeland Ministry was one of the few ministries that

approved of the gifts of the Spirit. They also seemed to go

further than just the routine evangelistic scriptures, and to

be unafraid of shaking the conventional “religious”

establishment.

Instead of dour negativism and lack-lustre worship, the

Copeland Ministry seemed alive with life. Far from being

afraid and suspicious of spiritual things, the Copelands actually

encouraged them. In place of a resigned attitude of “we must

accept pain and suffering” the Copelands preached victory,

healing, and the defeat of the devil. We didn’t need to be

defeated any more – Jesus had won the battle and had set

us free! All this was music to my ears.

And speaking of music —! The music of the ministry was

gloriously upbeat, full of victorious confessions of faith.

It lifted my spirits and helped focus my mind on the positive

side of the Bible.

 

In fact, there just wasn’t anything else like it at the time,

in the UK. In the 80’s we began to be very concerned about

the Shepherding doctrines, and the Charismatic Renewal

eventually went down the Restoration path. But (at that time)

the Word-of-Faith Movement came out against Shepherding

and the two Movements did not mix. Indeed, one Word-Of-Faith

leader, Hobart Freedman, wrote a major article against the

shepherding doctrines. So that was another reason for making

the Word-Of-Faith choice.

But often we swallow the bait, not realising there’s a hook

inside it. It was some time before I found blood in my mouth

from chewing on that hook.

 

CONFERENCES

Eventually, I had the opportunity to attend one of the Copeland

conferences, being held in Britain for the first time. It was

arranged at a small theatre complex in Birmingham, and

compared with today’s Conferences it was small. Only a

few hundred attended. Copeland’s ministry in the UK was

a minority interest.

Nonetheless, it was exciting to see the Copelands on stage

for the first time. Somehow I expected more, but the thrill

of the moment kept me going. It was unusual for me to meet

so many positive-minded Christians, and apart from the

meetings in which we wrote copious notes, we enjoyed

most of all the communal praise and worship for which

British Christians are famous, and fellowshipping with

hundreds of like-minded believers. This was new and very

uplifting.

 

The Copeland Ministry, however, badly misjudged the needs

of the British. They hadn’t done their homework! They expected

us to be as sophisticated as the Americans in our worship and

church life, not realising that the churches of the UK are staid,

old, small and totally non-commercial.

So, it was a mistake to bring a professional singer with a backing

band, and send her onstage like a TV act. The audience sat quiet

 (stunned) throughout, and gave a polite clap at the end. This was

not right – performances in a Christian meeting! It was almost

as bad as putting on a play in the local church.

After a couple of “spots” the poor lady realised she was up

against it, and gave up trying. The Copelands learned their

lesson. They didn’t bring other performers until we Brits had

been re-educated in such things!

What we wanted was corporate singing of choruses. This was

in the style of the Pentecostals, and Holiness groups, with a

dash of Anglican hymn-singing thrown in. We were used to

corporate worship, and that’s how we praised God in song,

NOT by listening to a solo performance from a professional

act!!! (Oh, how things have changed!)

Anyway, despite that we forgave the Copelands, and enjoyed

the meetings. We bought a pile of booklets (the high prices

for these was a shock but we were told how we needed to

support the ministry, and in any case any money we spent

would be repaid to us under the principle of the “hundredfold”.)

 

WAS COPELAND A FALSE PROPHET?

On a high after the Conferences, we were not in a mood to be

brought down to earth. But there were those who tried to

turn our heads away from our beloved Copelands, and to

point out some problems.

One troubling thing was a prophecy that Ken Copeland had

given at the 1983 Full Gospel Businessmen’s National

Convention in Birmingham, UK. I had a printed copy of this,

and it promised some specific things about Britain.

 

The Prophecy, given in June 1983, said that our time and

our hour had come, and the visitation of the Lord had come to

England. It said the revival had come, and would grow.

It promised “tens of thousands” of conversions and a mighty

flood of the power of the Spirit from coast to coast.

AND HE PROMISED THIS BY MID 1983.

He prophesied that, by September 1983, the amount of

people in the conference hall would have doubled, and by

October it would have tripled. Then followed promises that

we are now familiar with, about people falling at our feet

in supermarkets, and our faces shining with the glory and

the whole nation coming under conviction – and so on.

 

Even I had to admit he’d been wrong. At the Conference I’d

just attended there were probably FEWER attending, not MORE.

The great revival had clearly not happened, and the doubling

and tripling of numbers at the Copeland meetings had also not

occurred. How could I explain this? Was Copeland a false

prophet?

Well, in my eyes, definitely not. I had found something good,

and a minor hiccup would not deter me from the path. The

Copelands were all I needed, spiritually mature, strong and

full of wisdom. Maybe they made a few mistakes – but so what?

 So I shoved this to the back of my mind, and logged it

 under “unexplained mysteries”.

 

The Lord Tries to open My Eyes

After the annual Conference, things settled down to routine again.

I was practising all the things I was reading, speaking

affirmations, taking authority over my body and my

circumstances, calling things into being that were not, and

sowing seeds financially – money that we did not have and could

not afford. Yet I was soaring in the rarefied atmosphere of “faith”

and whatever I visualised I claimed was mine, evidence or no.

 

I rarely had any physical encouragement to believe. Once or

twice there were healings of headaches or colds, but usually

I had to admit my confessions and visualisation and

affirmations made no difference to my material circumstances.

That didn’t put me off, though. I knew I had to develop my faith

by memorising the words of scripture, so I bought scripture

tapes and sang scripture choruses to help myself bury the

Word deep in my mind.

 

It was all hard work, but I was prepared to do any amount of

hard work to reap the rewards that the Copelands so obviously

had (at least, so I read in their magazines.) They talked about

major miracles happening like the restoration of a crippled

baby, blind eyes seeing again, cancers disappearing. I’d never

witnessed such things, and I longed to see miracles at a meeting,

so I looked forward to the 1985 Conference with great anticipation.

 

From time to time our friends would criticise the Faith teachers,

and I was indignant and angry – very defensive about the

Copelands, and Hagin, and the other people we had come to know

and love as our Teachers in Faith. When people said they were

living in luxury, owning grand houses, planes, cars and so on,

I would defend them hotly. After all, they were God’s ministers,

and He was rewarding them! Why shouldn’t they be blessed

financially – they had sowed the seed and now God was

repaying the hundredfold.

 

And healing – my faith was absolute that NO illness or disease

should come upon a believer who was living in the faith realm.

I understood perfectly that Jesus had taken all disease at the

Cross, and therefore we had complete authority over it.

Whenever I felt any kind of physical discomfort, prayer would

be my first port of call, and I despised any who turned to pills

or the Doctor. Medical intervention was a sign of weak faith!

 

It would have done no good whatsoever to point out to me that,

despite my high level of faith and my profound grasp of the

scriptures, I had exactly the same amount of physical problems

as any other Christian in my fellowship. It probably puzzled me

at the time, but it would have done no good to point this out

to me. Everything could be explained by my lack of faith.

I just wasn’t doing it right. I had to work harder to know the

scriptures and to confess them even bolder than before, that

 was all. If ONLY I could get rid of my doubts, and be in perfect

faith!

 

Anything that opened me to doubt and “negativity” I ruthlessly

rejected or destroyed. I would not listen to tapes that

criticised the Faith message. I would not read the books or

booklets I was offered about the fallacies of the Movement.

These, in my mind, were all judgmental and jealous attacks

written by people who had no understanding of the ways

of the Spirit. They would only tend to lead me into doubt,

so I turned off my mind and refused to look at them.

 

Financial Problems

The money problem will seem familiar to anyone who has

gone down this path. Jon and I longed to be able to pay off

our debts, to make ends meet, and to end the ceaseless worry

about money matters. We knew the theory – send your

tenpercent tithe every month to your Church or ministry

as your seed, and expect God to bless you financially.

And give beyond that title as a love offering, even if you

can’t afford it, because God will repay.

 

Oh yes, we knew the theory, and we believed it absolutely.

Nobody can criticise us for sowing in doubt. We faithfully

sowed our seeds of money, and we tithed every single month,

ten percent of our income. The trouble is, we simply could

not afford to give away that much every month. It made no

economic sense whatsoever. We were giving out of our need,

as they say, but never reaping. Strange.

 

God did bless us in our ignorance and he kept us afloat, but as

for “the hundredfold” – where was it? Not that we looked for

reward, but it would have been nice to make ends meet

occasionally.

 

It was a black day for me when we finally admitted we could no

longer afford to give away so much of our income. That is

anathema to the Faith teaching! What? Not give your ten percent

tithe? But the Bank Manager, and simple common sense, warned

us to pull back before we lost the house and everything.

And as for the crazy “faith ventures” that I embarked on, and

persuaded Jon to embark on – I shudder now to think of them

and the lunacy of believing that God would lead me into such

plain foolishness.

 

Praying for a Family

One of the things closest to our hearts at that time was that we

wanted a child. We had prayed and believed for years, and

had “personal prophecies” about it – but still nothing. We nearly

gave in and went to the Doctor, but at the last minute I felt it

was a slap in God’s face, and we should trust Him, for would He

not give us the desires of our heart?

 

Then one day a magazine arrived from another Faith ministry

(I forget which) and it was offering sponsorships of orphan

children overseas. (I now know, through investigative reporting

by others , that many such schemes are a scam, and just a

money-making machine for the ministries. However, at the time

I believed every word I read.)

 

It came to me (from the Lord as I believed) that if we were to give

a large seed into this ministry for the sake of supporting an

orphan, God would answer our prayer for a baby. I expect you

are ahead of me by now, and can anticipate – as I could not at

the time – what grief lay ahead when we put this bold plan into

action.

 

The cheque was written – a huge amount – and with much prayer

and faith confession it was put into the post. But, as the days

passed my faith wore thin, and I could no longer even kid myself

that it was God who had caused us to do such a thing. I did not

conceive, and I can remember going out with a couple of friends

and their family, and sitting on the swings of the playground

just swinging back and forth in a daze of grief, disappointment

and anger. Why had God not answered my prayer of faith?

 How had I failed?

 

A couple of times, it came to mind that perhaps it wasn’t the

Lord’s will for us to have a family, but then my Word-of-Faith

training clicked in, and I resolutely rejected this doubt from

the devil. I repeated what I’d learned, that if His words abide

in us, we can ask WHATSOEVER we will, and God WILL give

it to us, because our desires are conformed to His. Failure

is not an option.

 

The idea that God could withhold something that I desperately

wanted was a heresy! But I had forgotten that God is the

Almighty, the Omniscient Lord, and he knows everything –

He knows the end from the beginning. In His greater wisdom

and His greater knowledge of my life, He knew that when

my calling to be a minister came, it would have been

impossible for me to obey fully with a young family to care for.

Which was the higher calling – to be a mother, or to be a

minister of God in the endtimes? God knew, but I did not.

 

In my small perception, God was the great Provider who was

forced by His own Word to give us everything we asked for,

so long as we couched it in biblical promises.

Faith doctrines in effect demanded that God conform to

our own perception of what was good for us, and it removed

from God the ability to make independent decisions in our lives,

and to work all things together for good in the long run.

 

In the Faith movement, we had been taught that God could

do nothing without our believing prayer. Kenneth Hagin

even described an incident when he met God in a vision,

and a demon came between them. Hagin expected the Lord

to rebuke it, but he did not. Eventually, he told Hagin that

He (God) could not rebuke it, because He had given that

authority and task to man – if Ken Hagin did not rebuke the

devil, then God could not. So the teaching was that God

could not move nor answer prayer except we released

Him by our faith. A God who acted independently was

somewhat confusing to us.

 

Several months passed before we realised one tremendous

thing that God HAD done for us. (I think it was one of those

days when God looked down on his foolish, innocent ones

and had mercy. Oh how great is his love and pity!). The

cheque was never cashed! Either it was lost in the mail,

or the ministry didn’t cash it for some reason. Whatever,

the money was never taken from our overdrawn bank

account. Praise God.

 

Thinking about this, I had a revelation about God’s way of

working. HE had taken the initiative, to do something I had

neither prayed for, sought for nor known about. There were

no positive confessions of the Word that caused Him to act

on our behalf. He simply did so in a sovereign way. And, He’d

done something that my own mind and my own flawed

human understanding could not have anticipated.

 

God was outside my understanding, acting of His own s

overeign will. He did not NEED my confessions or spoken

words to do what he’d done for me on that day.

 

Living By Faith

Another “faith venture” was that we decided we should live out

our faith by working fulltime for the Lord. We decided to travel

to the Bath headquarters of the Copeland ministry, and offer

ourselves there for service. We had expected an office of

some kind, but perhaps not a small untidy room up the

back stairs of a shop, off the high street. However, that’s not

important. We were met at the door by a rather ruffled lady

who was clearly not that pleased to see us. (But hadn’t they

said in the magazine that they’d be glad to see any of us, any

day??)

 

The poor lady was as gracious as she could be in the

circumstances, but we’d arrived at a bad time. There was

obviously a deadline to be met, and she was busy. None of this

occurred to us at the time. How selfish we can be. We thought

this place would be a sanctuary of grace and faith, pulsating

with the new life of the Copelands. We thought it would be a

kind of Temple where we’d find validation and certainty.

Instead, as we stood uncomfortably aware of our lack of

welcome amongst the piled up boxes on the floor,

we sensed it was all too ordinary!

 

Furthermore, our suggestions that we come and work for the

Bath team were met, not with ecstasies of joy, and praises to

God that we were about to sacrifice our lives and careers for

the noble cause of truth – no, but with a ho-hum “well, we’ll

see; there’s not much need for anyone at present” and more

of the same, while the lady tried to back us out of the door.

 

Something else was wrong, too. In the course of conversation

we’d mentioned the Shepherding Movement and our objections

to it, assuming the Copeland worker would agree wholeheartedly.

Strangely, she did not. She was evasive, would not condemn

shepherding doctrines, and then said that there had been a

change of heart and the Copeland ministry would now be

working more closely with the Shepherding leadership,

and we should be praying for unity between them.

This was devastating! Formerly they agreed shepherding

was in error, but now they’d changed their minds, and were

going to work alongside eachother!

 

We travelled home again silent, and thinking about the rebuff

we had just had. Our hopes for full-time ministry, living by faith

as the Copelands did, had been dashed. Why did God reject us?

 Didn’t He want us? We had failed again.

It was incidents like this that began to shake me loose from

the stranglehold of absolute faith in the Faith Teachings.

Others things were also happening. Despite the fact I would

never listen to “negative” input – and Copeland even

recommended that we do not read the daily newspaper,

since that was full of negative things – God was hammering

away at my beliefs, speaking His revelations into my spirit

as I prayed and meditated on the Word.

 

Thoughts About Healing

One stumblingblock to faith, and something we could not

understand, was the number of friends who genuinely prayed

for healing and did not receive it, and Jon and I also

experienced these medical setbacks. There was a cute

little boy, the young son of a Christian family known to us,

who was diagnosed with leukaemia. We all prayed, and we

rebuked the enemy, we took authority, we quoted all the

scriptures and claimed a complete restoration for this little

boy – yet he died. How could this happen?

 

My eyesight was very poor, and I couldn’t understand how

God would not heal my eyesight, despite hours and hours

of positive confessions. I truly was “in faith” for healing,

but it never happened. I would walk around “by faith”

without my glasses, stumbling into things and unable to

see beyond the end of my nose. My friends even threatened

to remove my glasses and stamp on them, as this would be a

positive action reinforcing my faith. But all of this made not

the slightest difference to my eyes. Where was I failing?

 

According to the Faith doctrines, there is no mountain too

huge to remove by our faith, and whatsoever we say will be

given unto us, as long as it lines up with the Bible. Healing was

a given; no disease or bodily lack had the right to afflict

a believer, so we could confidently expect God to remove

our infirmities. But as for me, despite my faith, God seemed

to have let me down. Why?

 

Then there was the problem of illness in the scriptures, such

as Paul’s thorn, the “many illnesses” of Timothy, (1 Tim 5:23)

and the sickness of Trophimus (2 Tim 4:20). I comforted

myself by reading all kinds of explanations for the instances

of illness in believers, but somehow they never rang true.

 

It seemed like the Faith teachers were twisting the scriptures

to fit their own belief in the absolute absence of illness for a

believer. Yes, I did believe we should pray in faith for healing,

and I did believe God had made a provision for healing in his

Word – yet was it as all-encompassing as the Faith teachers

said? Were there not instances in scripture and in the life of

Christians where God allowed illness, deformity or weakness

in a believer’s life for a higher purpose? There did seem to be.

I just could not square these two ideas. (Another entry for the

“unexplained mysteries” section of my mind!)

 

THE SECOND CONFERENCE

Well, the time came round again for the Conference, this time

in Brighton. It was held around the Halloween weekend, and

began on October 28th 1985, with a full moon and an eclipse!

Now I should preface this by saying that Jon and I could not

afford to go away from home and stay in a hotel for the week.

Despite this, we felt it would be a faith-venture if we believed

for the money, and we had had somewhat of a miracle in

finding a free room in a guest house within walking distance

of the Conference Centre. So we felt it was God’s will for us to go.

 

The weather was cold and wet. We arrived at the guest house

to find it was rather squalid, and that our room was an attic at

the very top of the building. It was just about large enough for

the two creaky single beds and a grubby wash basin. The

carpets were torn and looked as if they had not been cleaned

for years. Dust lay everywhere. Nonetheless, we counted

ourselves blessed to have this room, since we were prepared

to make any sacrifice in order to be with God’s people and to

seek God’s power and blessing.

 

The first meeting began at 7pm, in a large auditorium. The

numbers of people had grown and there were now several

hundreds attending. However, the meeting was oddly

powerless and disappointing. The singing was uninspired.

When Ken Copeland came onto stage, he seemed confused

and disjointed. His preaching lacked conviction. I thought

somebody like Copeland flowed in the anointing all the time,

and I was not prepared to believe that he’d missed it. But he had.

 

Also, Copeland was determined to push a song that somebody

had written. Copeland believed God wanted to use the song

greatly to change the world. It was a nice enough song, about

love. BUT, he made us learn it word by word, sing it, repeat it

over and over – and really, it wasn’t any big deal, just a song.

I could not agree there was anything special about it. But he

was forcing everybody to sing this song. I was irritated. I felt I

should pray that the spirit of heaviness lifted and that the

Holy Spirit would lead Copeland to preach what HE wanted.

 

The next evening, Copeland rebuked satan in the hall, and

things went a little smoother, but the level of teaching was

poor and repetitive. I realised with some horror that Copeland

was using talks that he’d put out on tape and preached in many

different places. I had heard it all before, from tapes and the

“Voice of Victory” magazine. He was just repeating himself,

word for word. I felt cheated.

 

A Terrible Setback

The next evening, something else happened that shook me.

Before Copeland came on stage, a “warm-up-man” appeared

to conduct a little singing and a talk. (Also to pump us for

money each evening!). As it happened this man (whose name

I cannot now remember, I’m afraid, for he was surely a true

man of God) was led to reach out to “the broken-hearted”

and to those who felt let-down, rejected, misunderstood

and were having a hard time in their church fellowships, etc.

 

A lot of people in the UK felt that way, including me. I’m not

normally emotional in public, but I was in tears as the Holy

Spirit touched the needs in my life. The man called us to the

front where we believed we would receive a healing touch

from God – something we desperately needed. Many were

in tears. It was a precious moment.

 

BUT – just as the man was about to pray for us, Copeland

bounced onto stage. (Later, I thought about it, and realised

he was jealous, and felt this man was taking on too much for

himself).

 

Copeland began to tell us what we needed was to praise God,

jump for joy and thank God for releasing us. The mood was

instantly broken and the sense of the Lord’s healing presence

totally fled. Copeland made us jump up and down on the spot

and shout praises, and you could tell we didn’t really want to.

We needed to hear from God about our situation, and we

needed to have his sweet Spirit minister to our broken hearts.

 But that was all over now. The moment was lost. We were told to

go back rejoicing to our seats, and we obediently did so.

 

Praying Against the Devil

On October 31st, we were asked to come to the hall half an hour

early to pray against the demonic influences oppressing the

meetings. It had been discovered that a group of satanists was

meeting locally and on Halloween night they intended

having a big powerful meeting. Halloween is not celebrated

as a public holiday in the UK as it is in America and the

commercial elements are not there. Instead, it’s a time for the

pagans, witches, new-agers and anyone else who believes in

these things to practise their arts. Halloween can be a time

of trouble and oppression for Christians.

 

Again, the prayer seemed artificially induced. We were told to

pray in tongues together, out loud. We did so, but unless the

Lord is guiding prayer, and unless prayer is in His Spirit, it is

merely noise. We made a lot of noise, but we weren’t really

praying. How could Copeland not know this, I wondered?

 

I awoke to Friday morning – the last day of the Conference,

and still my overall impression was that Copeland had not

been flowing in the Spirit, and the meetings had been dull

and powerless. Where was the spiritual inspiration, the praise

to God, the genuine move of the Spirit that I longed for?

I woke up heavy and sad, with a great prayer burden. If things

did not go better tonight, then all was lost.

 

Thankfully, just before the meeting Jon decided to go for a walk,

so I could pour out my heart to God in prayer as I wanted, in our

little attic room. It was like the old times, and I had a great

release in prayer. I had been praying for the meeting and for

the Copelands, but it seemed that God was speaking to ME

personally. I was led to the scriptures, and to Isaiah 61.

 

This said:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath

anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath

sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to

the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are

bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and

the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them

beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of

praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called

trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he

might be glorified….. But ye shall be named the Priests of

the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye

shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye

boast yourselves. For your shame ye shall have double; and

 for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in

their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy

shall be unto them. Isa 61:1-7 (KJV)

Although this was principally about the coming restoration of

Israel, it also spoke to me about my personal restoration –

especially that He would bind up the broken-hearted, and

that “for your shame you shall have double”. I thought it spoke

about the meeting and that at last we would see a breakthrough

into truly spiritual praise and teaching. (But it was speaking of a

time beyond that, a day I could know nothing about, a day

hidden in God’s heart.)

 

Copeland Teaches JDS

On Friday evening, Copeland decided to teach us “a new

revelation” from the Word. It was indeed new to me.

While delighted to be led into this exciting new pathway,

it troubled me that I had been a Christian for 20 years,

and had a deep understanding of the Word, but had

never been led by the Holy Spirit to see what Copeland

saw – that Jesus had to die spiritually! Yes, Copeland

decided to preach the JDS teaching.

 

This teaching has become one of the most notorious of all

the faith teachings (But it was new to me then.) It teaches

that the physical death and the outpoured blood of Jesus

on the Cross were not sufficient to atone for man’s sin,

but that Jesus had to take the very nature of the devil,

become a fallen man, and be tortured in hell for three

days and nights before the Father released him as the

first born-again man.

 

I followed Copeland’s reasoning, and made notes in my

Bible. In part, it made sense, but then Copeland’s handling

of the scriptures kept worrying me. He based a crucial

doctrine on this passage:

For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art

my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be

to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? Heb 1:5 (KJV)

 

Copeland’s point was this, as I recall. That Jesus was the Son

of Man, in being born of a Virgin, but he was begotten of God

when the Father raised him from hell. Therefore, Jesus was

born-again. He was born twice, once as the Son of Man and

AGAIN as the Son of God, when the Father rescued Jesus

from hell.

 

Copeland pointed out those words “and again…” and said, this

meant “again I will be unto him a father…”

Now, I knew something about the construction of the English

language. That phrase “and again…” had absolutely NOTHING

to do with Jesus being born twice! It’s simply a device used in

the King James to link a number of similar quotes. You can easily

check this out by cross-referencing passages like Romans 15:10-12.

 

Things like that puzzled me. I later realised that I was doing what

most people in the same situation do – they lie to themselves!

Whenever something came up that knocked Copeland’s shiny

image in my eyes, I justified him to myself. I covered up his

false prophecies, and scriptural errors. I defended his lack

of spiritual discernment, all because I wanted to believe in him.

I didn’t really hear what the Copelands said, I heard my own

mentally adjusted, scripturally correct, version of what they said.

 

Arrogance and Pride

Something that I DID hear, and it offended me, was this. Jerry

Savelle was at that time Copeland’s protégé. He travelled with him,

and I believe he was there in 1985 (or I may have heard this at a

different meeting.) Savelle was boasting about himself and his

ministry, and how he’d travelled the world, to Third World

countries, too. He told us how it was a real sacrifice on his part

to do these things. It’s isn’t easy to minister in these foreign

countries, he said. “I mean, I was wearing a thousand-dollar

silk suit, and I send it down to be cleaned and they made a real

mess of it. They just don’t know how to clean good clothes in

those countries.”

 

I couldn’t believe my ears! But this was just something else I

overlooked and forgave.Each evening, there was a long appeal

for donations, and we gave something each time. On the final

evening, we felt we should make a grand gesture and sow a seed

in faith. We had just had a pep talk about the need to sow in faith,

and so forth, so we decided to give the ministry a big sum of

money. (It was £50, but in those days that was a huge sum.)

 

As usual, we didn’t have the money in the bank, but this was

“by faith” remember? So Jon wrote out a cheque and dropped

it into the basket. To us this was a very hard and sacrificial thing

to do. But we did it out of love and obedience, and in a desire

to support the Copeland Ministry.Then it was all over, and the

Copelands vacated the stage.

 

Not Approachable

I will preface my remarks now by explaining our understanding

of ministry at that time. Jon and I, and our friends, and many

other people in the UK had experienced the charismatic

renewal through Pentecostal-style ministry which was a

hands-on, lay ministry type of thing. We had attended the Chard

conferences in the 1970’s, some of which took over the

Butlin’s holiday camp where we lived in basic chalets and ate

together at long communal tables and benches. There was not

much sense of “them and us” with the ministry team, because

the leaders were wandering about amongst us, and if you met

Harry Greenwood or Ian Andrews in the café you just had a chat

with him, like a normal person.

 

After the evening meetings, in those days, the ministry team

would stay at the front and people would go up and talk to them.

There would be prayers for healing or counselling, or whatever

was needful. They were servants of God, and they made

themselves available to help and to pray for the people.

 

By contrast, at the end of every Copeland meeting, the

“important” people like Ken and Gloria Copeland, jerry Savelle

or whoever else was in the leadership team, would dive through

the back curtains and be gone. They did not mingle with the

common folks, much less stop for a chat. They were above

such things.

 

Jon and I made our way to the back exit. Our guest house was

towards the back of the building, so we always went out that way.

There was a large swing-door for the people, and a smaller door

labelled “VIP EXIT”, presumably so the stars could get away

from their adoring fans all the more quickly.

 

Just as Jon and I went to exit the main door, this VIP exit door

opened, and out came Ken and Gloria, plus a couple of other

leaders. My heart jumped – maybe we would get to speak to

them and share our hopes and desires for spiritual renewal, or

maybe we could share some thoughts on the teaching – but as

they glanced around they looked straight through us as if we

didn’t exist, in their rush to get away. Outside stood a long

black limousine, with its engine revving. A chauffeur was in

the front seat, ready to go. We knew from information given

by friends that the Copelands and Team had booked into the

most expensive hotel in Brighton – a palace as it seemed to us.

You have to realise that in Britain we don’t do things that way.

To drive in a limousine is reserved for royalty, or TV stars, or

perhaps the Mayor – not for Christian Ministers! Who did they

think they were?

The car pulled away, spraying us with rainwater as it did so.

It was taking them to the luxury of a bright, warm, expensive

apartment. They were so far above our sphere of existence,

they did not even notice us, standing there in the rain.

It was a dark cold night. We pulled up our collars against the

driving rain and began to walk towards our little garret. We had

no car. I said to Jon “We just gave those people £50”

That statement summed it all up. The scales dropped from

our eyes. We saw the Copelands as they really were, and we no

longer worshipped them. Later, somebody remarked to me

that the Copelands preach faith for prosperity, but their own

wealth has come from your and my donations!! They don’t live

by faith at all, they live off us poor people!

 

Was it God, or us?

Although we had seen the light as regards the Copelands, we still

believed in faith teachings, and practised them daily. It was

about this time that we bought Hagin’s Bible Study series in order

to follow a daily bible course, to increase our faith. We faithfully

followed the book, doing one portion per day. As we did so,

both of us became troubled. As we drank in, day by day,

the teachings on prayer and faith, it seemed that the focus

was all upon what WE had to do, and what WE could achieve,

rather than upon Jesus. I remember saying to Jon – reading

this book, it’s like we don’t need Jesus at all! THAT troubled me.

Just one short passage from the book gives a flavour:

 

Four steps to be taken in order to see our prayers answered:

1.Decide what you want from God

2.Search the Bible for scriptures that promise the answer

     you need.

3.Ask God for the things you want

4.Believe that you receive – have a stubborn faith that refuses to

   look at circumstances. Never doubt for one minute that you

   have the answer.

Constant and reliable answers to prayer were promised, not

failure to receive. That had not been my experience. But since

God never failed, and since God had promised ” he shall have

whatsoever he SAITH”, the failure, according to Hagin, was that

we did not speak positively enough. Indeed, speaking a negative

confession – saying “I have a cold” – was inviting the devil to

bring misfortune, because “we have whatsoever we say”.

 

At this time, too, we were introducing our next-door neighbour

to the Faith doctrine. He was a simple soul and took most things

literally. I remember that he came in one day and told to us in a

very distraught manner that he’d made a negative confession.

He said he had been praying for a newer car (his was falling to

bits) but that he’d blown his chances now, sadly – he’d said out

loud to his wife that he didn’t believe they could afford a new

car. So he had lost his chance of God’s blessing by speaking a

negative confession. He was very downcast about this.

He couldn’t put the words back into his mouth and now he’d

lost his car!

 

That seemed preposterous, even to me – but it’s what WE had

shown him. I felt responsible for creating a blockage in this

young man’s life. If God wanted to bless him with a new car,

then He would. This young man had been led into fear,

not faith. His God was a fickle being who was swayed by a

foolish utterance, and one unguarded moment had lost him

God’s blessing – or so he believed.

 

Even though this was a parody of the faith message, it

occurred to me that the whole system was open to

misinterpretation and was causing stumbling blocks amongst

the immature. Was this the faith of the Bible, or a doctrinal

system of rules and rituals that people had to LEARN before

they could be successful? And what of the weak, and ignorant?

They could never LEARN how to make the system work, so

they could never reach the heights of victory and blessing.

Is this what God intended for his people?

 

More Concerns

Jon and I pressed on with the Study Books, but increasingly

we felt ill at ease with them. “Where does God come into all this?”

we asked. It’s all about OUR faith, and OUR use of the Word.

Chapter headings such as “How to Write Your Own Ticket

With God” and “You Can have What You Say” jarred my spirit

– not because I was lacking in faith or bound by religious

dogma, but because I knew and loved God through Jesus Christ

 – and this wasn’t the way I saw God or Jesus, as beings to be

manipulated into providing everything we wanted.

 

I had more respect for the Almighty than that. And besides,

my own experience in the Christian life had taught me that

you DON’T get “all you say”, even if you say it continually,

with faith. There are some things that God loves you enough

NOT to give!

 

The emphasis on prosperity for all believers jarred also.

Don’t get me wrong. I had nothing against the principle that

God blesses and provides for his people, and I did see

prosperity as a blessing from God. However, this was again

taken to extremes. Hagin wrote “God wants his children to

eat the best, to wear the best clothing, to drive the best cars,

and he wants them to have the best of everything.”

 

In an ideal world, maybe. But I also subscribed to a few

missionary support groups and charities, and I knew from

the literature that arrived that beloved, God-fearing believers

in other parts of the country were not only impoverished,

but sometimes starving, unclothed and dying.

 

Others were in prison for their faith. Did this mean they were

unable to exercise faith to receive “the best of everything”

or was God being partisan in only blessing people in

affluent Western countries?

 

GOD SPOKE — AND SUDDENLY I KNEW

During those days, I pondered all these things. You know, you

always remember where you were when God spoke to your heart.

I remember precisely and I can still picture the scene. I was

standing in front of the kitchen sink, doing the washing up and

gazing into the garden through the window. I was thinking

about the Faith issues.

 

Suddenly, everything became clear and it was as if God

spoke into my heart. We “had a conversation” about the

subject, and he showed me the problems with the faith

teachings.

 

It was all to do with God’s will, and submission to His will.

Now, a Faith believer is taught that saying “if it be thy will”

is worse than swearing! We don’t pray with one eye on

God’s will, we claim the promises of scripture as a RIGHT,

for they are ours already in Jesus Christ.

 

Hagin wrote: “if our prayer is according to God’s Word,

it is according to His will”. (page 86, prevailing prayer to

peace). No problem. So then, God’s part is over and done

with. Hagin even says “there is nothing else God can or

will do” – in sending Jesus he restored authority and

dominion, and removed the curse, so that now it’s

entirely up to US how we handle the Word, believe

and claim the promises.

 

So the assumption is that God has no say in answering

prayer, except to endorse our positive confessions, which

release the promises already embedded in the Word. It is the

speaking that activates them. The magic is in the speaking,

and the words release the power of faith that brings the

blessing to us in reality.

 

As before, I said “where is God in all this?” Anybody could

learn this technique, even a pagan. But God spoke with me

that morning and showed me Himself – his love, his care

for us, and his greatness and knowledge. He showed me

that “having faith” was trusting in HIM, not in our

confessions, or in our ability to keep up a doubt-free frame

of mind. Faith was IN HIM, in His goodness and power,

not in ourselves in sweating out a system of faith-words,

nor in the written scriptures alone, but in the God of the Word.

 

If we demand, as a right, everything in the Bible, and believe

that God cannot do anything but obey our demands for

blessing, then it puts our destiny in our own hands. For we

decide what is good for us, and what we should have.

We make the decisions about career, marriage, family,

finances, churches, friends – everything. It is as if WE have

become the gods, and the Lord Almighty is the servant.

The roles are reversed, and God has no say in our lives,

beyond activating the promises of scripture.

 

I suddenly saw how demeaning this is to God. When I came to

Him years before, and submitted myself to Him as Lord, it was

acknowledging that He had the right to choose my way of life,

and everything else. My destiny was in HIS hands, not mine.

Indeed, I couldn’t trust myself to make those decisions on

my own behalf – I did not know what was best for me. He did.

 

Now could I trust HIM to lead me, inspire me, prompt me in

prayer, and bless me according to His own plans and decisions?

If bad things appeared to come, could I see them as part of the

greater and higher purposes of God? Or was I going to demand

“the best” all the while, and see any loss or defeat as a failure

of faith?

 

Prayer had become a mantra, almost! It was a constant round

 of “taking authority” and “speaking faith” and “demanding”

this that and the other, and “rebuking doubt” – none of which

was an interaction with God. It was a formula, not prayer.

It was not a loving relationship any more – I was losing sight

of my relationship with Jesus in prayer because prayer had

become a system of spiritual exercises for getting what I

wanted in life.

 

I no longer came to God to fellowship with Him and to know

what was His word into my life. He was squeezed out, and

replaced by faith-words and demands that He live up to his

scriptural promises. I had been taught to “find a word” then

as much as hold it over God’s head until he coughed up.

That had brought a veil between us. Now I had

rediscovered the loving, gentle Father I had always known,

and I felt ashamed for leaving him behind.

 

Moving Into The Truth

It was not long after that (indeed it was only six months

later, in April 1986) that God answered my desire to reach

out to the suffering and confused, and he called me to

become a Watchman. Banner Ministries was born in a

quiet way around that time, and has grown by the grace

of God to become a recognised ministry world-wide

exposing the sham and falsity of unbiblical doctrines –

like the Word of Faith teachings.

 

God knew what He was going to do with my life, and he needed

my willingness and submission to HIS WILL, but I had nearly

been led astray by the Faith message.

 

I listened again, with new ears, to the many tapes I had collected.

Suddenly I HEARD what they said, and I SAW it was in error.

I looked at the scriptures and time and again I found the

statements of the Faith teachers distorted the scriptural

meaning, and suggested things that God never intended.

 

PROSPERITY – WHAT IS IT?

An example of this was used at the Brighton Conference,

and even at the time it struck me as a distortion – but at that

time I overlooked it, and “rewrote” the teaching to make it

scriptural. Now, I wasn’t prepared to do so.

 

The passage in the third letter of John (3 Jn 1:2) “Beloved, I wish

above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health,

even as thy soul prospereth”, was always used to demonstrate

that God desires his people to “prosper” – that is, to be rich.

Prosperity was a big subject in the Faith teachings, and the

John passage seemed central to their exposition of that doctrine.

 

Yet this is a distortion of the scripture, because the word

“prosper” does not mean “wealth” as evidenced by the latter part

of that scripture “even as thy soul prospereth”. Souls do not

receive material wealth, although they can become rich in faith.

The word Prosper in scripture means to be “helped along the

way”, and it signifies a daily walk that is successful in all areas.

It does not simply mean that a believer “has prosperity” in

terms of being financially well-off!

 

Looking around, I realised that many, many devoted believers

were serving God and helping others without necessarily being

prosperous. Indeed, I knew few if any who were rich. Most

believers were struggling financially – like the believers in the

Word of God. How could I square the teaching on prosperity

with the experience of the Apostles who had nothing? And

Jesus who had nowhere to lay His head? How could I ignore

all the warnings in scripture about riches, and the attitude

of wariness towards material possessions which could prove

to be a snare? It just didn’t add up!

Little by little, the things I had so avidly held to were exposed

as deceptions. Eventually I compiled four audio tapes of

quotes from the Copeland ministries illustrating where they

were in error, and these became almost the first set of tapes

I offered on my new Banner Ministries tape list.

 

I also photocopied sections from the Voice of Victory magazine

and other sources, and circulated a research pack of these

selections, proving conclusively that Copeland did teach these

things.

 

As proof of his teaching on JDS, I have scanned a letter written

and signed by Kenneth Copeland, issued by his office on

March 12th 1979, in which he seeks to justify his teachings that

Jesus died spiritually. I have scanned the part that says

 “when his blood poured out, it did not atone…”

You can see this scan of the actual letter here. The reproduction

 is poor, because the letter had been reduced in size, and

photocopied in order to be circulated. Also, somebody has both

highlighted and underlined the words. Nonetheless it IS

authentic.

 

Genuine Truths of the Faith Movement

It is important for me to say that I did not ditch every single

thing I had learned in the Faith Movement. Nobody ever serves

up poison straight – they hide it in a large juicy steak. There’s a

lot of steak in the Faith teachings, but also there’s poison,

enough to kill you.

There are truths I don’t want to lose, and I thank the Lord he’s

led me to see the Bible from a positive, believing attitude.

Praise and the confession of scripture is important, and can

confound the devil’s attacks. Doubt should be banished

from our thinking, and we ought to believe that God desires

our health and wellbeing. We do have victory in Jesus Christ

over all the works of the devil, and our daily life should reflect

this attitude of victory.

 

Memorising scripture is very up-building, and at times of need,

to be able to recall and speak out loud the promises of God is

extremely beneficial. Faith is necessary for answered prayer

(but so is the will of God – the two go hand in hand.) Faith does

move us from an attitude of submission to the devil’s attacks

to the solid ground of belief in the goodness and power of God.

All these things are good and helpful. I am not denying any of

these things.

 

However, it cannot be denied that the Faith teachings go way

beyond these biblical basics (all of which we could learn from

the Bible itself without having to subscribe to a Faith Ministry.)

When we look at the aberrations taught by people like Copeland,

Hinn, John Avanzini, Hagin, Jerry Savelle and others, and their

acceptance of the Toronto Movement, we can see they are not

just teaching pure faith in the Bible. They are promoting a

system of belief and doctrine that is cult-like and deceptive,

and one that leads believers into bondage rather than freedom.

 

Teachings like Jesus-Died-Spiritually, prosperity teaching,

faith in your faith, ye are gods, faith is a force, and the coming

glory that will transform us into an army that will take the

nations by storm – all this is way beyond biblical teaching

and must be rejected.

 

I learned as I studied the origins of the Movement, about a

teaching called “New Thought” that led to Christian Science,

and then fed into the Faith Movement through E.W. Kenyon.

I looked up New Thought in the library and was astounded

to see how similar it was to modern-day Faith teachings!

I checked out the Kenyon books and confirmed for myself

what others had pointed out – that Kenneth Hagin copied

word-for-word up to 75 percent of Kenyon’s book and

published it under his own name! In other words, he ripped

off Kenyon’s book and claimed to have written it himself! 

 

But all these things have been covered in other articles and

books, some of which I have placed on this website for you

to check out for yourselves. So I will not cover that ground

here, but simply end my testimony with an admonition:

do not eat all that you are served, nor believe all you are told!

 

There are those who will ensnare your soul with lies, so you

need to open your eyes to the biblical truths and seek God for

freedom from the Faith teachings. You will not lose the genuine

teaching of scripture, but you WILL be set free from the

distortions of the Faith Movement.

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