Four Marking Characteristics Of The “New Faith Movement” Part 3
The last few weeks we’ve been talking about some of the ways today’s faith movement tends to differ with some of the faith and healing movements of the past. (See part 1 and part 2) Today we are looking at how many people’s view of faith has changed.
4. Faith Comes Out Of And Grows With Relationship
In some ways I don’t like the word “faith movement.” I prefer “Jesus movement.” Why? It’s not about faith in itself. It’s about a person, Jesus. It’s about knowing God.
I wrote before about how the phrase “the power of faith” bothered me because people just attributed God’s work to the “power of faith” instead of catching the revelation of God’s nature revealed in Jesus. You don’t even have to believe in Jesus to believe in the “power of faith.” I’ve talked to plenty of people who didn’t know Jesus, yet they believed in “The power of faith.” The “power of faith” alone will fail you if it doesn’t lead to a revelation of Jesus.
Sometimes teaching on faith has fallen into the trap of becoming impersonal and missing the real point, which is the revelation of Jesus. If you learn all about faith and all you come away with is “mind over matter,” you’ve missed the point.
I had someone write to me and say “I tried everything in your blog, the same as all of them teach, and it didn’t work for me.” I was a bit surprised because I have very little in my blog about “how to get healed.” Yes, I do have a few testimonies of how I was healed personally. But I don’t have anything like “5 steps to getting your healing.” Most of the articles here that talk about healing are in the context of ministering to other people who need it.
Seeing healing as “5 steps” or “The power of faith” has lead to so much frustration and disappointment. When someone says “I tried that and it didn’t work,” it’s a sure sign that the gospel has been reduced to a series of steps and principles. Several past movements have definitely done that with their teaching on finances, and sometimes they fell into the same trap when teaching about healing.
I don’t want to overgeneralize the faith movements of the past, as if they weren’t about Jesus. But sometimes they tended to be applied in an impersonal way, almost as if it was about faith itself. When that happens, people become disillusioned with the message. Our main message isn’t “The Power of Faith.” It’s “Look at who Jesus is and what he’s done for us!”
Thank God that the Body of Christ is growing! The “new faith movement” today has less tendency to see faith as merely “Do A and B, and C will be the result.”
Growing In Faith, Grace, And Power
This is reflected in the understanding that we grow in faith and in power as we grow in the knowledge of Jesus. Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) We are growing in the knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 3:18), and growing up in all things into Him. (Ephesians 4:15) Who is going to say “I don’t have room to grow anymore. I’ve already reached the full measure of the stature of Christ.”? Who is going to say “No, it’s not possible for God’s power, glory, and nature to shine through my life to any greater degree than it is currently.”?
When we see things this way, we can walk honestly and still not compromise the truth of scripture about faith and the revelation of God’s will.
The ministers of this “new faith movement” today aren’t checking into hospitals with different names so that nobody knows they have a problem! They are honest about their own struggles as well as their victories. They are real. And if they are real about their struggles, they aren’t condemning other people for “lack of faith.”
The testimonies are real too! They don’t let issues stop them from ministering to others. For example, check out the video below where Todd White shares testimonies of healing when he had an injured knee and even when he woke up from surgery.
In the following video, a lady who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis ministering in God’s power to other people in need. I can’t tell you how many of my friends have ministered to others and seen great miracles when they personally were in physical pain. As I was, many of them ended up totally free from the problem as they continued to minister to others. But there was still that period when they were ministering to others and they were hurting. Todd was seeing God heal people’s knees and his knee was hurting.
If we viewed faith as only a series of principles, as the “power of faith,” we would let any little issue disqualify us from ministering to others. We would say “I tried it, and it didn’t work. I can’t minister healing to anybody else’s knees, because my knee is hurting.” That all too often leads to playing the “blame game,” then a hard heart and anger at God and at people who talk about faith and healing.
One of the common criticisms of healing ministers is “He wears glasses. Why didn’t it work for him?”
The person who brings up this criticism has a point if we are treating faith as “Do A, B, and C, and you will get healed.” If it were so, the healing minister wearing glasses might be a hypocrite.
But if faith is about being strengthened more and more in our innermost being by the power of the Holy Spirit, growing in the knowledge of Jesus, and being transformed as we behold God’s glory, then it’s unreasonable to criticise a healing minister for wearing glasses. It’s just as unreasonable as criticizing a preacher for preaching on the fruits of the Spirit if he has ever failed to demonstrate the fullness of what he is preaching 100% of the time.
And if faith is about a relationship with Jesus, then wearing glasses doesn’t disqualify you from opening blind eyes in Jesus’ name! A hurting knee doesn’t disqualify you from ministering to someone else with a hurting knee! And today there are so many testimonies of Christians being healed of their own issues as they minister to others! If we treat faith as simply a “formula” or “mind over matter,” too many people feel disqualified from being able to walk in faith or minister to others if they have an issue of their own.
I hope this series on the “new faith movement” has helped you to understand where some people are coming from when they react negatively to hearing the words “faith” or “healing.” I also hope it has encouraged you with seeing how the Church is maturing. We can learn from both the strengths and weaknesses of past movements in the church and also honor what God has done within them.
Putting the responsibility on the minister to believe rather than on the person in need keeps us from “blaming the victim.” But does that then mean that we either blame the minister, make things more complicated, or decide that sometimes healing just isn’t God’s will? (Thus blame God.) No. Next week we’ll talk about why having a high standard for what’s possible in Christ doesn’t mean we need to play the blame game. Let’s get out of the blame game altogether!