I am a member of Seven Springs Baptist Church. My Pastor is Leonard Smith. God is using him to deprogram my mind and heart from all of the Word of Faith teaching that I have been under for fourteen years. Each sermon is a bit like having surgery. It’s like having a different tumor or infection cut out every Wednesday and each Sunday.
Today’s sermon, on Mothers Day, was phenomenal. Thank God it was not a traditional Mother’s Day sermon. I never could do those special sermons.
Today Leonard taught about proper Bible interpretation. I had been using faulty Bible interpretation and teaching as a Charismatic Word of Faith pastor for years. I had learned to preach at RHEMA from Kenneth Hagin and his personally trained teachers. So of course I followed after their way of reading and teaching the Bible.
Kenneth Hagin taught primarily on topics and so did I. For instance, he would teach on faith and take scriptures from all over the Bible to make his points. He also preached out of the visions that he claimed to have had. ( I do not believe that he had any of those visions) Many of Kenneth Hagins sermons, and points of his theology were based on his extra-biblical visions and revelations. It was as if he was interpreting the Bible through the lens of his experiences. As a matter of fact, he did teach the Word from his claimed revelations and experiences.
Thousands of student preachers have sat under this style of preaching and it has snowballed and escalated to the point that his doctrines have become the fastest growing movement in the Church as well as on television. Much of Joel Osteens teaching comes from his father who was a devout follower of Kenneth Hagin. In turn Joel Osteen is spreading an infected and erroneous message to millions. It is a blend of bad Bible interpretation, New Age teaching, Humanism and witchcraft. Kenneth Copeland, Charles Capps, Mark Hankins, Creflo Dollar, Paula White, Michael Murdock, Benny Hinn and hundreds of others are preaching this error filled theology.
At my new church, and at other Reformed churches (Southern Baptist,Presbyterian, others), they use a completely different set of rules for teaching and preaching the Bible. They call it the Historical-Grammatical-Scientific approach to Scripture. They preach the Word one verse at a time so that everything is in the total context of the Author’s intent. Leonard has been preaching from Galatians since last year, verse by verse. He rarely goes to another part of the Bible to make a point, because that can create heresy and error by borrowing from another Author’s idea, which may be under a different context. This HGS system of preaching stays within the context of the book. The danger with Word of Faith is that they teach a scripture from the perspective of how it applies to me today which may be wrong at times to do so. To read and take the Bible literally you must interpret the verse in the context of how the Author penned it. This can and does make all the difference in the world. It is a safe way to preach and teach the Bible. No one is totally right all of the time about every single thing, but if these simple laws were used by all preachers there would be much less heresy and confusion in the Church today.
Another point that Leonard keeps driving home every week is this: “Anything that adds to the Gospel is subtracting from the Gospel”. The true Bible Gospel is this: that we are rotten sinners deserving Hell, but that God sent Jesus to die for our sins and raise up Him from the dead so that we could be forgiven and receive eternal life! That is the Good News! But the Word of Faith has added to the Gospel. Word of Faith preachers hammer away on faith, healing and prosperity. Jesus is not the focus of the Word of Faith, faith is. Faith as a formula or force. Faith Formulas and money dominate Word of Faith sermons. This creates greed and a wrong focus.
People become focused on faith and money instead of Jesus. Everyone in the whole world can see this clearly, even lost people can see it, but Word of Faith people are so caught up into this deception that they are cannot see what everyone else sees.
When I was a Word of Faith teacher, I taught on everything from a “ME” perspective. I was thumbing through my ten years worth of sermon titles and was shocked at what I was hammering on. Most of my sermons centered around faith and confession! Not on Jesus, not on God, but what I could get from God based on my works.
I am extremely grateful to be under safe and sound teaching. I feel guilty everyday for teaching what I taught for so many years. I know God has forgiven me, but it still amazes me at how deceived that I was.