Rescued From “Word of Faith”

When I was young and “on fire” for God, I was enticed by churches that were alive with enthusiasm and praised God with energy and emotion. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but unfortunately, my enthusiasm led me to the Word of Faith movement.

I learned a lot about the Bible during those years. Sadly, much of what I learned was false, very false. I just didn’t know it. God rescued me from this false teaching about 25 years ago. I am so thankful for His mercy and faithfulness.

Today, I want to talk about a subject that is crucial for us to understand correctly. That is the subject of faith. Because I was taught the wrong definition of faith, it was very difficult to “unlearn” in later years when I realized I had been deceived.

So let’s start with the Biblical definition of faith.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

The rest of Hebrews 11 goes on to explain this in more detail by giving examples of people who were commended for their faith (Noah, Abraham, Sarah, etc.) Verse 13 says,

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”

They trusted God. When we study Hebrews chapter 11, it becomes clear that faith is trusting God to do what He has promised. Period. This is where the Word of Faith doctrine of faith differs from the Biblical definition.

They say that Hebrews 11:1, (“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”) is referring to a force that we can use to gain prosperity and health. This verse is taken out of context and is clearly in conflict with the rest of the chapter.

The supporters of this movement believe that faith works like a mighty power or force. Through faith, we can obtain anything we want — health, wealth, success, whatever. However, this force is only released through the spoken word. As we speak the words of faith, power is discharged to accomplish our desires.”

This is contrary to God’s Word and is rooted in New Age teaching. Hebrews 11:1 is taken out of context and used by Word of Faith preachers to propagate a New Age belief.

The word faith appears 458 times in the New International Version (NIV). So when I realized I had to unlearn my wrong definition of faith and reread the Bible with the correct definition, I faced a monumental task!

My first response upon realizing the deception I had embraced was to reread the New Testament three times. Every time I saw the word faith, I substituted the words trust in God. I based this on the meaning of the Greek word for faith used throughout Hebrews 11.

That word is pistis. It means “firm persuasion … used in the New Testament of faith in God or Christ”. (Vine’s Expository Dictionary)

The relearning process was long and arduous because in all the 458 times I read the word faith in my Bible, the verse now took on a completely different meaning.

This is why discernment is so important. New believers can be easily swept away if sound doctrine is not preached. Why am I writing this? What is the call to action?

#1 Study your Bible so you won’t be deceived by false teachers. The Bible warns us many times about the danger of false teachers.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

“For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

#2 Examine the Scriptures to see if what is taught is true. Check everything. There are many times when I have heard a popular “Bible teacher” teach something and I thought, Where does the Bible say that? Many Christians are too trusting, especially when the teacher is popular, well-known, and entertaining.

“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” Romans 16:17-18

The Greek word translated as naive is akakos. It means unsuspecting. We don’t like to think of ourselves as naive, but are we unsuspecting? Everyone who claims to be a Christian isn’t automatically teaching Truth! The fact that they draw huge crowds means nothing. The fact that they have written popular books means nothing.

The important thing is, are they teaching Truth? There is only one way to know. Jesus prayed,

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17 (emphasis mine)

In His Love, Cindy

Do you want to know more about Jesus? See my page Who Is Jesus?

All Scripture references are from the NIV unless otherwise noted.  

36 thoughts on “Rescued From “Word of Faith””

  1. Excellent post Cindy! It is not just important to be a Berean in Bible study; it is a matter of life and death. I find it hard to see/hear many folk who quote others who are abusing Scripture; they need to do their own original Biblical research.
    God bless you today sister 🙏

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for sharing this Cindy. It was insightful to read about how they interpret the definition of faith.
    And your point on praying to discern is spot on.
    Blessings 💙

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So glad for this message, it is so needed. The message of faith teachers did a lot of damage in our family, my own son walked away for a while do to this and it also cost my husband and I dearly for years, so thank you for this message. Far too many do not want to hear that faith is tried and tested and requires trust in God alone, no matter what it looks like. We are sojourners here, but keep looking up for our redemption is drawing nearer each day.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Eileen. WOF teaching almost shipwrecked my faith. When I realized I had been deceived I was devastated. My prayer was “Lord, please don’t let me fall away.” He didn’t! However, it took about 20 years for me to heal. People don’t realize the danger of false teaching. Blessings, Eileen!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Cindy,
    This is an excellent post! Very helpful to me. Even though I have not been part of a WOF fellowship, some of these practices, like “declaring” things have found their way into the practices of many other fellowships as well. I have even run into this in prayer groups I have been a part of, for instance.

    It helps to highlight the origins and make biblical distinctions between biblical faith and other definitions. A.W. Tozer defined faith as “confidence in the Goodness of God,” which is quite close to your distillation of the use of the term in Hebrews 11. It really does boil down to trusting God, and knowing His word is critical.
    May the Lord bless you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Craig. Your comments are very encouraging! I love Tozer’s definition of faith. Studying a verse in context is critical and Hebrews 11 is an excellent example. God bless you, Brother!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for explaining, Cindy. I had some close friends who followed WOF and I couldn’t understand how they believed what they did. I didn’t know they believed the scriptures implied an extra “force” to faith. That really does explain a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cindy, I had a similar experience. I had health problems that some wanted to convince me were my own fault, because I lacked enough of that “force” called “faith.” Some of my health issues were indeed my own doing, but not for the reason I was being told. My body was weakened because of an earlier eating disorder, which was due to negative self-image and guilt issues. (Feeling somehow unforgivable). Needless to say, trying to muster up enough “faith” and failing did NOT help!
    I now truth GOD to be God, and ironically, I am a lot healthier, probably because I sleep better at night and am not stressing out about what the self-appointed spiritual judges think about me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a real problem that idea of “trying to muster up enough “faith” and failing.” Some people lose their faith in God because of it. I’m so glad you (and I) found our way out. Thank you for sharing your experience. God bless you Annie!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so grateful that Bruce reposted this, because I somehow had missed seeing this in my WP reader.

    You are so right about the dangers of these popular false teachers. I fell into their trap in the 1970s through most of the 1980s, from my early twenties through my mid thirties. I worked fulltime for a hugely popular televangelist for close to 3 years. After seeing firsthand what went on behind the scenes, I left there with my faith destroyed. I became agnostic, almost an atheist, until the real Lord Jesus Christ finally got hold of me in 2003. But in the meantime, from 1989 to 2003, my life was a wreck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Thank you for sharing this. I don’t think most Christians have any idea of the danger these false teachers bring. The Bible is full of warnings, but people don’t understand how to recognize who the false teachers are. That requires discernment. And as young, immature believers they are easily deceived. That’s why we must speak up! Blessings, Linda!
      PS Would you be willing to say who the televangelist was that you worked for?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I had heard of the “Word of Faith” movement but never really understood what it meant; thank you, Cindy, for clarifying that. I’m thankful you “escaped” that! And you’re right: faith is all about trusting the Lord.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post, Cindy. This false doctrine has taken far too many people down their path away from the Word of God. I have known people who have followed this so-called life of faith, but it did not lead them where they thought they were going. I recall years ago, when I was without an income, telling me just to go to the car dealership, pick out the car I wanted and claim it. And she meant an expensive new car. I didn’t argue with her as she was a strong-willed person and I didn’t have the stamina to get into it with her, but in my mind I was thinking: Even if I do need another car, I don’t need the most expensive one on the lot and I don’t need a brand new car. I cannot expect the Lord to give me what I don’t need. I get upset when I see people twisting the scriptures for their own ends. That person, a few years later, had to declare bankruptcy. A hard way to learn a lesson, but I hope she did learn it. It’s much better just to trust the Lord to give us what we actually need, and who knows what that is better than Him? God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your personal experience. The Bible is clear about the “prosperity” preachers. “…people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” 1 Timothy 6:5
      Blessings, Diane!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. So much teaching and un teaching as we grow and evolve into our selves , I’ve had my own experience as well and many unlearnings and so much depth and knowledge given simply by experience and listening to my heart and how God teaches through his creations.

    Liked by 1 person

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