In the October 1999 issue of Kenneth Copeland Ministries "Believer's Voice Of Victory" magazine Kenneth Copeland answers some questions in his "Q&A" section.
Q: Brother Copeland, I've heard some preachers say that God
uses sickness to teach or discipline us. Then I've heard others say
that sickness is of the devils and that it is not God's will for us.
What's the truth?
A: Tradition has taught that God uses sickness, trials and tribulation to teach us. This idea, however, is not based o the Word of God. God HAS NEVER used sickness to discipline His children and keep them in line. Sickness is of the devil, and God doesn't need the devil to straighten us out! He sent His Word to do that ..." (emphasis theirs) (Kenneth Copeland, Believer's Voice Of Victory, Q&A pg. 23, October 1999)
This answer to an alleged question (no questioner named) is clever but denies the facts. It contains within it the potential for shipwrecking the faith of any believer who believes what Copeland and other Word-Faith teachers are teaching worldwide.
Let's deal with the first statement: "Tradition has taught that God uses sickness, trials and tribulation to teach us. This idea, however, is not based on the Word of God." Tradition may well teach that God uses sickness to teach us, but so does the Word of God. This is typical of the selective reasoning of Word-Faith teachers like Copeland who simply ignore much Scriptural truth. Note the following Scriptural examples:
Job 1:21 "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised."
In this case, God allowed Satan himself to test a believer, in this case Job, through trials, tribulations and sickness. Notice that Job did not do what Copeland urges Christians to do. He did not declare his own health or wealth into being but put his fate squarely in God's hands, whatever the outcome. He did not just put faith in his own faith like Copeland urges Christians to do in the following statement:
Notice I did not say that ALL get healed. Sometimes people won't receive their healing. Sometimes they're full of fear or doubt or unbelief, and they can't take what God is giving them. But when that happens, the last thing you want to do is withdraw your faith and say "Well, I guess it didn't work this time." No, don't do that! Your faith may be the only hope that person has! So, just keep on believing God. Say, "Lord, I did what your Word said. I laid hands on the sick and as far as I'm concerned, every person I laid hands on is recovering. I'm standing in faith for that recovery ..." (emphasis theirs) (Kenneth Copeland, Believer's Voice Of Victory, Q&A pg. 23, October 1999)
This is a far cry from the true faith of Job when he made one of the great statements of faith in the Bible: "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." This is real faith, not faith in what you proclaim, or faith in a God of your own making, but faith in the sovereign Almighty God of Scripture -- the God who knows you better than you do and knows what is good for you and what will strengthen your faith. Instead, Word-Faith teachers such as Benny Hinn have stated:
"Job tapped into the negative side of the faith force by a negative confession ..." (Media Spotlight Special Report, 1992)
What a terrible thing to say! But this is basic Word-Faith theology. Did Hinn, Copeland and others like them also forget that Paul himself was given a "thorn in the flesh"?
2 Cor. 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.
Apparently conceit is no longer a problem for the modern Christian today. What about all the other reasons for trials and tribulations that God allowed in the lives of His followers?
1 Pet. 1:6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
2 Cor. 4:7-17 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
Believers suffering trials? Sickness? Persecution? For our "benefit"? How could God do this? Why does He allow this? Doesn't He love us? Why does he discipline us?
Heb. 12:7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
No one enjoys discipline, but all sons and daughters need it. God loves us enough to discipline us, and the only way to do that sometimes is through the testing of our faith.
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Joyfulness in trials? Not according to Copeland. According to him we should disdain trials as a sign of lack of faith. The fact of the matter is that God does allow testing, discipline, and trials -- which include, among other things, sickness -- to test and build up our faith. And wonder of wonders, sometimes he even brings people to salvation through sickness, as in the case of Paul!
Gal. 4:13-14 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.
Apparently Kenneth Copeland has not read the Word of God in full. In fact what he is doing is guaranteed to lessen faith and eventually bring it to shipwreck. This is because what he is teaching is unbiblical, heretical and downright doctrines of demons. I have seen the near ruin of faith from Word-Faith over and over again, experientially, in the lives of those who have somehow escaped the deadly clutches of false teachers like Kenneth Copeland. True believers, on the other hand, believe in the person of Jesus Christ. We do not put our faith in our words or in a "god" who is subject to our demands. We place our faith securely on the One who can keep us through it all, through joy and sorrows of all kinds and for His perfect purposes, till we meet Him in the air.
Rom. 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The love of God will bring us through this life, not our faith in the "force of faith", nor the words from our lips. Kenneth Copeland teaches people to put their faith in their words, in what their tongue proclaims. It is interesting that on page 5 of this issue of VOV he quotes the entire passage of James 3:2-8 then proceeds to say that:
James leaves no question as to the power we hold within our tongues, but that power can either work for us or it can work against us. Either way, we are the ones to decide, because we are the captains of our own lives. Each one of us stands at the helm and decided where his ship is going ... there is no storm on life's sea through which we cannot safely sail by proper use of the rudder that's in our mouths. Our tongues can be a powerful tool use in our favor, they can also be an unruly and deadly force, causing our lives to be shipwrecked if we let them run out of control ... so tame your tongue -- fill your mouth with the Word of God -- and then set your course for a life full of success." (Kenneth Copeland, Believer's Voice Of Victory, "Tame The Tongue And Set Your Course" pg. 5-7, October 1999)
Now read the passage he quoted and see if there is ANY mention of "taming" our own tongues:
James 3:2-8 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
Only through Jesus Christ and the help of the Holy Spirit can our tongues be tamed. We cannot do it ourselves, for no "man can tame the tongue". The "word of God" that Copeland is claiming that you must "fill your mouth with" are false promises of healing such as the misuse of 1 Pet. 2:24 (VOV, pg. 6), which is actually talking about salvation, not guaranteed health and wealth. If you twist the Scripture, making it say things it does not, is that not putting further lies on your tongue and adding to the problem of James 3:2-8 instead of solving it?
This technique of "positive confession" is further taught in the following section called "Confession Brings Possession":
"..confession brings possession. It brings possession of everything God has promised us in His Word. It brings salvation, healing, protection, prosperity and so on. That's why, when we confess our faith, we're not simply affirming something positive we want in our lives. We're staking our claim on what is already ours according to God's Word. In light of that, our responsibility is to go to the Word, find scriptures that cover whatever we're believing God for, and then stand in faith on the truth of that Word." (Kenneth Copeland, Believer's Voice Of Victory, "Confession Brings Possession" pg. 7, October 1999)
This proves the point of this article. Instead of going to the Word to learn the character and will of God, Copeland teaches people to go to God's Word to find what they want, then claim it. This is exactly the opposite from what God calls us to do. We are to "exegete" the Scripture (critically interpret the text in context), not "eisegete" it (interpret a text by reading into it one's own ideas) the way Copeland obviously does and teaches his followers to do. This is false teaching at its most obvous and most sinister.
Dear Saint, don't believe what they say!
Stay far away from false teachers who tickle the ears and lead people far away from faith in God.
2 Tim. 4:3-5 For the time will come when men 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. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.