I once saw a man of God do a fund-raising campaign on TV and he said the money was for “spread(ing) the message of healing to the world.” By this he indicated that healing is to be preached as a message. But I hold that the healing ministry, although genuine, cannot stand alone and survive unless it is built upon the foundational message of the cross of Christ. Indeed, any message which is not built upon that foundation is a weak message indeed, and it is bound to fall.
The prosperity message, on the other hand, is of God to the extent that He promises to meet our daily needs. Any teaching beyond that is carnal, and of the flesh. The foundational message of God’s provision teaches that “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” 1 Tim. 6:8
But the true, foundational message of the apostles was “Jesus Christ, and him crucified”. 1 Cor. 2:2
Any message outside of the message of the cross is a weak message because it will invariably cater to the flesh. The prophetic, healing, deliverance and prosperity ministries, operating as they do without the underlying message of the cross, all fall into this category. They carry a message of self-preservation, and they will ultimately fall.
That was why Jesus told the Jews, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth…” Jn 6:27
The weak character of these gospels is revealed especially in the way they are “spread” or preached by the charismatic preachers, for it in no way resembles the way Jesus and the apostles of the Early Church preached the gospel. The message of healing, as I have seen it conducted by many preachers, seeks to advertise itself, literally.
Many years ago, I was in the neighboring country of Kenya and I saw an advertisement that read: “A man of miracles comes back to Nairobi.”
The flesh loves advertising itself.
Jesus, on the other hand, never advertised Himself. He never allowed the cameras to roll on Him during ministry. In fact, He did the exact opposite: He suppressed any “news” about His miracles. Even when, during His open-air meetings, miracles were happening right, left and centre, Jesus quickly sought to part with the crowd and go to the mountains to pray alone!
On reading the gospels we find an incredible number of instances where Jesus literally ordered those He healed not to publicise the miracles they had received. In one particularly interesting case in the gospel of Mark 8 Jesus healed a man and in verse 26 it says that after Jesus had healed him, “he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.”
I first saw this scripture in the Swahili version, and there it says: “He took him right up to his house and told him, ‘Do not even enter the village!’” Jesus led this man all the way to his home just so he would not tell anyone that he had been healed by Him!
How could Jesus tell people not to broadcast His healings and we do the exact opposite? Aren’t we missing something here?
I believe all this lust for publicity is carnal. It is a thirst for fleshly glory. When the flesh is alive in a man, he wants to be recognized as a great man of God, a man of power.
And when people seek after earthly glory, it is because the flesh is alive in them. Whatever is going on in these ministries is nothing other than the spirit of the world, and it should not be confused with giving any glory to God. God is given glory when we are partaking of the sufferings of Christ, period. There is only one thing for which Jesus was not shy of being recognized. He was not afraid of being recognized as a man of grace. And for this to happen He had to die.
When we are being lifted on the world stage, that is something utterly worldly, carnal, and of our own making.
Many other things follow in the wake of this seeking after worldly glory. The love for money easily comes in. The healing message, like kindred other messages, is accompanied by much lobbying for money. Fundraising becomes an auxiliary but established message within the main healing message. In some cases, it becomes the main message!
And then there is the issue of bodyguards. In all my saved experience, I have never understood why a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ would ever need to walk about with a bodyguard. I once heard of a man who went to preach in the Sinai region of Egypt and the Egyptian government insisted on giving him security personnel. That I can understand. But today, even in environments that would not need a night watchman, many prominent and respectable men of God have bodyguards. What message, pray, are these people sending to the Body of Christ? No wonder recently I read of a pastor in the U.S. who shot a man with a gun! That’s a pastor walking with a gun there. He was probably defending an American right, Americans have so many rights!
I doubt if Jesus carried these attitudes whether He would have allowed Himself to be nailed on that cross. Jesus did not seek to publicize Himself, nor did He defend Himself. On the contrary, we see that the only thing that Jesus did with all His strength was to preach and to live that foundational gospel of repentance and of a transformed life. Jesus preached the message of the new birth and of the Kingdom of God: righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. And this was the same message that the apostles would also later preach. That is not a message that you can live by simply “falling under the power” or by driving the latest Mercedes Benz car. Living that message requires a revelation of the cross in one’s spirit. Jesus and the apostles preached about the victory that would be found in identifying our lives with Christ’s life on the cross. In fact, Jesus and the apostles spoke of this identification infinitely more than anything else. It was their sole message.
In his first letter to the Corinthians chapter 2:2 the Apostle Paul informed them pointblank that this was the singular message that he carried: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
Ditto to the Galatians: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Gal 3:1) Notice Paul says that Jesus Christ was clearly revealed to the Galatians as “crucified among you”.
I cannot find anywhere in the scriptures where it says that Paul or the other apostles preached any other message apart from the message of the cross, the believer’s identification with the sufferings and death of Christ.
And with this message there is nothing about self-preservation. This message talks about losing your life, period.
I have every reason to believe that the message of prosperity is totally carnal. It brings competition, division and pride. God never said He would make us rich in material things. He did promise, though, to meet our daily needs.
And the message of healing, while genuine, is not the message that Jesus brought. In fact, as we just saw, Jesus suppressed this message. But He was very vocal with the message of the new birth and of the cross. And so were the apostles. The message of the cross covers the entirety of the New Testament, like a blanket. It is the singular message of the New Testament.
Any other message apart from this is a carnal message of self-preservation and self-gratification. Such a gospel will ultimately destroy its adherents. Jesus said to lose your life in order to gain it.
[Below: In the city of Mwanza during the non-rush hours, a daladala conductor has to ‘advertise’ the worthiness of his vehicle to lure passengers in]