The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

There were a lot of things that happened in my life during the last few weeks, but one that keeps after me day to day is a nagging issue that really hit me during my illness.  I have plenty of issues with the “prosperity gospel” or the “health and wealth gospel”, but the one that bugs me most is the fact that those who preach it either haven’t read all of their Bible or are willfully ignoring parts of it.  I don’t truthfully know which is the case from one person to the next, but it troubles me greatly.  I know it is a serious charge to make, but I intend to back it up.  If there is anyone who reads this that would like to “set me straight”, you are certainly welcome to make your case.  I just ask that you do so from Scripture and not from personal experience or personal testimony.  I will make my case from Scripture as well as give you some of my story to illustrate.

This really hit me hard a few weeks ago.  As I have mentioned here, I was quite sick and really not doing anything productive for a while.  I was running high fever and had chills, bodyaches, ect.  Recently the doctor has told me that I likely had parvovirus B19, which certainly fits.  The reason I bring this up, is that I watched a lot of TV in my downtime.  I was sleeping in a recliner, because I couldn’t be comfortable laying down and the recliner is conveniently in front of the TV.  During this time, I elected to sample some of the religious programming on TV that I don’t normally sit and watch.  Based on my sampling of some of these programs, I learned some fascinating things about Christianity that I never knew before.  One preacher told me that if I were a Christian, I couldn’t be sick.  If I just had faith and did what God said, He wouldn’t let me be sick.  This was news to me as I lay there in the chair running a fever of 103 or so.  I mean; I have acknowledged Jesus as my Savior and Lord.  One of us must have missed something in the Bible, but who?  Let me see if I can clear it up a little bit.  How about John 11:1-6?

1Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

If I am reading this right, someone Jesus loved was sick.  And Jesus didn’t run right over and heal him that instant.  He didn’t even need to did He?  He had healed people at a distance before.  But did He heal Lazarus? NO!  Wait a minute, why is Lazarus even sick?  That preacher on TV said people that know and love the Lord don’t get sick, can’t be sick in fact because “by His stripes we ARE healed” and so on.  I know, it is because Lazarus was going to be raised from the dead to show Jesus power over death.  But this doesn’t change the fact that he was sick.  He was so sick it killed him and Jesus let it happen.  Are you starting to see what I mean by the whole truth?  This TV preacher, whom I will not name, rather flippantly suggested that a “real Christian” shouldn’t be sick, heck couldn’t be sick.  This doesn’t wash with Scripture at all.  Frankly, I laughed out loud at the TV when the guy said it.  Well, at least I tried to laugh out loud.  I was pretty sick at the moment, so I don’t remember how well I could laugh.  I wish I could say it was an aberration, but he is far from the only one out there teaching this.  In fact, he was preaching in his daddy’s church when he said it.  His dad didn’t stand up and correct him, so I guess he buys into this “theology” as well.

When did we get the idea that everything will come up roses for us if we are a Christian?  Did it come from the same school as the “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” teaching?  Certainly God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, but the wonderful plan may only look wonderful from His perspective.  How about His plan for Jim Elliot’s life?  Go show End of the Spear to a group of non-Christians and ask for their opinion on how “wonderful” that plan is.  I have lost track of how many “Christian” programs on TV promote the idea that the Christian life is a ticket to health or wealth or your “best life now” or all of the above.  Is this the story of the Gospel in the Bible?  Can this coexist with the statement that Christ gave to his disciples and to us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  Did you see that?  He actually promised we would have TROUBLE.  Trouble with a capital T that has nothing to do with pool.  Where does this promise fit in with these people preaching Christianity as the ultimate “self-improvement” plan?

This brings me to my final point for this post.  I have looked for but cannot find a single one of these people, who proclaim this incomplete gospel, that have preached a message on 1 Corinthians 4:8-17:

8Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! 9For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

14I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

Can someone point me to one sermon by any of the “prosperity” or “health and wealth” teachers on this passage?  I am not being sarcastic, like Paul is in this passage.  I am genuinely interested to hear what they would have to say on the subject.  I want to know if this is part of the Bible that may have been inadvertantly overlooked by some of these wonderful teachers.  Some of these men and women teach and proclaim the good news that Jesus is the Christ and the only way to get to the Father is through Him, and for that I am overjoyed and commend them.  But the failure to acknowledge that Christ has called us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him results in Christians who are shallow and prone to fall away or turn away.  The failure to tell a new believer that Christ has promised we will have trouble in this life, that we might be persecuted and impoverished for our faith can only cause trouble when the storms come.  I plead with my fellow teachers and preachers of the Word of God.  Let us please tell the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth.

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Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, Discipleship, Gospel, Kingdom, Persecution, theology, Truth | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

  1. I was intrigued by your statement “one that bugs me most is the fact that those who preach it either haven’t read all of their Bible or are willfully ignoring parts of it”. But it’s not only bad when others do this it is bad when we do it also.

    Unless one is having their itching ears tickled by lines like “people that know and love the Lord don’t get sick, can’t be sick” it’s not that difficult to search the scriptures to see that this idea doesn’t stand up to Biblical scrutiny. (For example you pointed to the Lazarus case where this “friend” whom “Jesus loved” not only got sick but died.) So debunking such nonsense is not really all that difficult. More difficult is when we are offered Biblical evidence that might prove we have been wrong, then how do we react.

    But debunking nonsense by others is not the proof that one loves the truth. For there are plenty of self styled Bible answer men who can make themselves look good by pointing out the unbiblical teachings of others who will turn-a-blind-eye to anything in the Bible that would disprove an error that THEY teach.

    You said, “If there is anyone who reads this that would like to “set me straight”, you are certainly welcome to make your case” and while there is no reason to argue with your assessment of the type of false teaching that you cited in your post, I non the less wonder if you would also hold yourself and the teachers who you respect to the same standard — that one should not willfully ignore parts of the Bible.

    In that regard I’ll present a challenge to you on an issue where the only real principle at stake is a love of the truth. I’ll begin with the following premise: One should not accept that an idea is BIBLICAL if neither they nor those who sell them on the idea can cite a single verse that would justify teaching that idea.

    We’re told, “[It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man”. Given this explicit statement (along with the other statements in scripture concurring on this matter) it is clear that one should be leery of those who encourage people trust in NON-Bible sources and put their confidence in unbiblical man-made traditions. To show respect for the word of God we need to heed the Biblical admonition to “prove all things” – and not simply be repeating the ideas of men but rather looking to scripture and searching the scriptures to see if what we have read or have been told can stand up to Biblical scrutiny. It is difficult to see how it could be honoring to God for one to present an idea AS IF IT WERE BIBLICAL if they cannot cite a single verse that would justify teaching that idea. But, as an example, those who promote the unbiblical tradition that the “other disciple whom Jesus loved” was John do just that — even though a search of the scriptures will reveal that this is a false man-made idea. Those who promote this error today are routinely guilty of using circular reasoning in order to try and sell the idea that John is referred to in passages that never mention him but that rather talk about the anonymous author of the fourth gospel. Defenders of this tradition can choose to ignore the facts stated in the plain text of scripture if they prefer to quote the words of men who quote other men who quote other men but one thing that neither they nor their non-Bible sources cannot do is cite even a single verse that would justify this idea. No one ever has — not those who originated this unbiblical idea and not those who repeat their error unto this day.

    The truth is there is not a single verse in scripture that would justify teaching the idea that John was the unnamed “other disciple whom Jesus loved” and yet most simply assume that this man-made tradition cannot be wrong and then interpret scripture to fit this idea. But if one will heed Ps. 118:8 then the NON-BIBLE sources on which this man-made error is based will give way to the facts stated in scripture which prove that NO MATTER WHO this anonymous author was he most certainly was not John.

    Since you will discover that you cannot cite even one verse of scripture that would justify promoting the idea that John was this unnamed “other disciple”, you may be led to take another look at what the Bible has to say on this matter. If so instead of looking to the writings of men try a Bible-only based strategy; examine the facts stated in scripture and compare what the Bible says about “the disciple whom Jesus loved” with what it says about John. The Bible evidence proves that whoever the one who “Jesus loved” was he could not have been John — because the Bible cannot contradict itself as the John idea requires.

    While it can be willfully ignored. the Bible says what it says. So no matter how many men one can find parroting the ideas of men found in non-Bible sources the fact is the Biblical evidence proves that John was not the “other disciple whom Jesus loved” (the anonymous author of the fourth gospel). The John idea comes from NON-Bible sources and the hand-me-down ideas of men but scripture says otherwise.

    Nothing but the truth?

  2. Jim,
    I would guess, correct me if I am wrong, that my use of the passage from the gospel known as John activated your radar to this site. I appreciate your comments, even if I am mystified by the accusatory tone of them. I have indeed heard and accept that it is possible that Lazarus wrote the Gospel attributed to John. I have read several chapters of your book online and agree with you at most points. I would like to point out to you that the letters of 1, 2, and 3 John also do not have John’s name within them. Revelation does indeed mention the name John, but it has been debated for various reasons whether or not this is John the Apostle, mostly since he doesn’t refer to himself as “the elder” and so forth, hence giving rise to the phrase “John the Revelator”.
    If I may be so bold as to offer a word of caution to you. I recognize the desire to “set people straight” and correct what you see as a grievous error. But my question is regarding your tone and attitude. I will be the first to concede that written communication on a blog may be the worst place to judge tone, but I am going to venture that you haven’t read any of my other posts here. If you had, you would already know that I am not one to take what everyone says at face value about Scripture. I search it for myself. I just wrote a post a month or two ago asking why everyone refers to the meeting in Acts 15 as a church council when it wasn’t one. In your zeal to spread your message, you may be missing the other side of the coin. In that fourth gospel we see this statement about Jesus: 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
    I would like to repent of the last statement in my title. I forgot to mention the importance of grace (mercy). We cannot neglect grace when we communicate, and I think I was guilty of doing so. For that, I apologize.
    Thank you again for your comments and your love for the truth.

  3. Hi there,

    Let me start of by saying that I kind of experienced the same lies from well known preachers. I have a huge problem with these well known preachers who are twisting and turning the Gospel to their own advantage in selling thei product by telling people what they want to hear.

    I believe that every preacher should be called by God, but the Bible even warns us that many children of God will be led astray by false prophets and preachers. Like you I will not name any of them, but I will maybe suggest that you listen to the sermon’s of Paul Washer (you can google his name). I truly believe that this preacher has gone back to the truth of the Gospel!

    You can also check out my blog to get an idea on how i see things and on getting a better understanding of what I have experienced. (http://thelivingtestimony.blogspot.com)

    I am really praying that God will call up His people to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

    Regards

  4. If someone is in jail who has been convicted of a crime and we later uncover videotape or DNA evidence that prove we’ve identified the wrong person, then we let him go. We don’t keep him in jail until we find out who did do it. Likewise, if Bible evidence can prove that John was not the “other disciple, whom Jesus loved”, then we need to admit our mistake and let go of this erroneous tradition whether or not the Bible has sufficient evidence to prove who the actual author was.

    What I said is accurate – (a) that not a single verse of scripture would justify teaching the idea (not 1000 years ago and not today) and (b) the facts in scripture prove the one whom “Jesus loved” was not John.

    Still it is often the case that in an effort to get the focus off of the fact that scripture DISPROVES the John idea those who promote the man-made John tradition will rush to change the subject to other issues such as the question of who did write it. They pretend that if they can argue against this being someone else that that means their John tradition then somehow ‘wins by default’. But this is one of the many logical fallacies that are committed by promoters of this tradition. For they assume that if they can argue against the idea of this being someone else (James, Thomas, Mary Magdalene Judas being among the most frequent candidates mentioned) that then even though they still cannot cite a single verse that would justify doing so, they can go on presenting the John idea AS IF IT WERE BIBLICAL [even to the point of adding John’s name to the text where God’s inspired writer never put it (i.e. ‘John leaned on Jesus at the last supper’, ‘Jesus gave his mother to John at the cross’, ‘John wrote…’, etc.) ]. Bad logic.

    Because we’ve been taught to trust in non-Bible sources and accept the spoon-fed teachings of men most will never bother to test these ideas or else they would notice that the work of the anonymous author of the fourth gospel is said to be ‘John’s eyewitness testimony’ despite the fact that (A) there is no verse that would justify doing so and (B) this anonymous author’s omission of EVERY event where John is actually named as being an eyewitness in the other three gospels IS a strong argument against ascribing this anonymous author’s testimony to John. This is especially true given the fourth gospel’s omission of the those three times that Jesus included John with James and Peter to be EYEwitnesses of three of the most notable events of his ministry — the raising of the daughter of Jairus, the prayers of Jesus at Gethsemane and his transfiguration. This then exposes the logical fallacy behind this claim, for it makes no sense that ‘John’s eyewitness testimony’ would fail to include ALL of these events.

    Once again, as you’ve noted, many people feel they get to pick and choose which parts of scripture need to be paid attention to so they can “willfully ignoring parts of it” when ever it suits their presuppositions to do so. But the phony ‘faith healing’ (truly non-healing) shysters and the ‘give to me’ house-of-merchandise hucksters are not the only ones who play fast an loose with the scriptures by “willfully ignoring parts of it”. Any ‘accusatory tone’ is of course addressed to and/or directed against only those hypocrites that do just what you’ve said — that will give lip service the authority of God’s word but ignore the facts stated in the plain text of that word whenever the choice comes down to the Bible vs. their preference for a tradition. Just as it is right for you to call others on their hypocrisy on this, so it is right for anyone to call us on our own hypocrisy if we should fail to respond to the correction of God’s word while calling on others to do so.

  5. Jim,
    Again, I appreciate your zeal for the topic of the authorship of the fourth gospel. I also stated that I agreed with you. If others who read here are interested in your arguments, I would invite them to read those at your website. They can get there by clicking on your name at the head of your comments. I would like to ask you a couple of Bible questions. How do you square the accounts of Matthew and Mark that Andrew and Peter followed Jesus together at the same time with the account from the fourth gospel that you have cited of Andrew and the “other disciple” which you believe to be Lazarus? I am curious for your opinion on the matter. And one other question. Is the Lord’s Day mentioned in Scripture actually Sunday or not? It cannot be proved using Scripture alone either, so why are we so hung up about going to church on Sunday?
    Shalom and Blessings
    Jeff

  6. Pingback: Seek and Save the Found??? « Jeofurry’s Jesus Journey

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