Why the televangelist who claims there’s no flu is dead-wrong
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TELEVANGELIST BLAMES FLU ON NOT RECEIVING JESUS’ SACRIFICE
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, we’re in the midst of flu season. Every year in the United States, approximately 36,000 people die from the flu and 200,000 people are hospitalized.
The Washington Post recently ran an article in which Texas televangelist, Gloria Copeland, said there’s nothing to worry about. In fact, Gloria Copeland said she doesn’t believe there’s such a thing as a flu season. “We’ve got a duck season, a deer season, but we don’t have a flu season,” she said in a video, “and don’t receive it when somebody threatens you with it. Everyone gets the flu.”
As I just cited, 36,000 people pass away each year in the United States. Obviously, it’s something that we have to take very seriously and yet we have an individual who says trying to take precaution would be foolish.
DR. REEDER: We’re going to take very seriously what this “televangelist,” Gloria Copeland — married to another televangelist, Kenneth Copeland — has said: the reason those people died was not because they should have died from the flu, but because they received the flu by not receiving the healing that Jesus has secured for them and promised for them.
This is where I want to tell our listeners, “Theology matters. Doctrine matters.” Sound lives come from sound doctrines, which are taught with sound words from a sound and appropriate understanding of God’s Word that fits in the context of God’s Word and is faithful to the true content of God’s Word.
WORD OF FAITH MOVEMENT EXPLAINED
Now, Ms. Copeland comes from a strain of theology that leads to something called the “Prosperity Gospel,” but even more precisely, it’s called the “Word of Faith Movement.” This is the notion that looks at the atonement of Jesus as having secured all that you have in life for your health and for your prosperity in life. The “By His stripes you are healed” is a declaration that Jesus has secured your healing and the only reason that you were sick is because you have not believed it and received it, what Jesus has for you.
Her view is there is no flu season. That’s just a fabricated thing that’s out there that actually doesn’t have to be out there if you don’t receive it. She is labeling those who warn about a flu season as threatening people. They’re not threatening people — they are warning people of a threat. There’s something really true called a flu virus that you can catch and it does kill people and the people that died did not die simply because they did not believe in Jesus enough.
WORD OF FAITH MOVEMENT’S VIEW OF CANCER
One of my first encounters in this was my very first pastorate, a young man who was dying of cancer in his 20s. The pastor was in his room, talking to him and telling him, “The only reason you have this cancer is because you have not believed what Jesus has secured for you and you haven’t received it by faith so, if you’ll just believe it and receive it, then you’ll be walking out of here without this cancer.”
Well, the fact is, first of all, I bodily removed him from the room and explained to him, “Let me tell you what you’re saying. No. 1, your doctrinal position: basically, if people believe enough, they should never die — that’s what you’re telling me — but the Bible says, “It is appointed unto men once to die.” Secondly, you’re telling this young man that his sickness is because he has not trusted in the power and grace of God, yet Jesus declares to us that there is a sickness that God brings into the lives of his people for the glory of God and to advance the cause of the kingdom.
The sickness and death of Lazarus, he purposefully allowed and would not intervene in order to make a statement that needed to be made and he wanted to make concerning the supremacy over Christ in all matters, including sin, death and Hell in the grave, but it was there for a purpose.
In other words, everybody’s not sick simply because they didn’t believe enough. And that guy said to me, “Do you believe in the Word of faith?” and I said, “As soon as you can show me somebody that’s 250 years old, I’ll start believing.” In other words, why should you ever die if you believe enough?
Here’s a young man who’s about to face eternity, trusting in Jesus Christ having died on the cross to forgive him of all of our sins, and you’re telling him he doesn’t even have enough faith to get over cancer, much less Hell, itself, through Jesus Christ. Not only is it terrible theology, not only does it contradict God’s Word, it is a perversion of the atoning work of Christ.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW SAY ABOUT SICKNESS?
Does the atoning work of Christ secure for me a physical healing? Yes, it’s called the resurrected body. That’s when I get my perfect healing. Does God, from time to time, providentially, through means — such as medicine — or beyond means — i.e. a miracle — intervene so that people do get better from sicknesses? Yes.
However, does that mean that the only people that die are people that don’t believe Jesus enough and the only people that get sick are people that are receiving sickness instead of receiving what Jesus has and believing what Jesus has, which is that they don’t need to be sick if they believe enough? Well, that is just an absolute abomination — it’s anti-Biblical, it is anti-doctrine, stands directly in the face of all that Jesus did and taught us.
What’s in the atonement is the assurance that Jesus forgives us of all of our sins and, in Christ because of His atoning death, you get a new record where your sins are erased and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to you. You get a new heart, where you’re born again. The old heart has been taken away and you’ve been given a new heart. You get a new life where you can grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, dealing with the physical infirmities of life — sometimes through healing, sometimes through means, sometimes directly, but all the time victoriously as neither sickness, nor death, nor anything can separate us from the love of God in Christ.
My sickness and my death is not a statement that I’m not trusting Christ enough — it is a fallen world in which I trust Christ to bring me through it to His victory. And then, finally, that you get a new body for a new heavens and a new earth. That new body is not here — it will come when I leave here. Jesus comes back and the body is raised and is united to us so that we will be with the Lord forever in a new home, in a new heavens and a new earth.
DEATH IS NOT A FAILURE, BUT GOD’S REWARD FOR THOSE IN FAITH
TOM LAMPRECHT: Which, Harry, I look forward to and, indeed, the apostle Paul said, “For me to die is gain.”
DR. REEDER: Exactly. He did not see death as the evidence he did not receive what Jesus had for him. He saw death as the step that he will go through the valley of the shadow of death because Christ is with Him and has defeated death and, therefore, will bring him to glory and that He will, ultimately, raise this corrupted body into an incorruptible new body fashioned like the resurrected body of Jesus Christ.
This particular teaching, I believe that’s not simply an error — that is an abomination. It is that which is destructive in the lives of people. It offers a false hope. Sickness and adversity and difficulties are not the evidences that you don’t believe enough — they are the occasions to mature your faith in Christ on your way to glory.
One day, you will have a new body and a new heavens and a new earth which will be your new home in which, in that day, there will be no sickness, no mourning, no crying, no effects of sin because there will be no sin. Sin, death, Hell, the grave, and Satan will have been cast into the lake of fire and we will dwell with the Lord forever.
Now that’s sound doctrine that leads to a sound life that you can walk in the victory of Christ and I am convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ, neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, famine, nakedness, sword or sickness. No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors, not by their absence, but through Him who loves us and brings us through them, and to them and above them as we fix our eyes on Jesus.
COMING UP FRIDAY: STATISTICS OF CHURCHGOERS — GOOD OR BAD?
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, we’re out of time for today. On Friday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to take you to a story which is rather interesting. It is a story of statistics. Now, for some, they’ll be encouraged and others might discouraged.
DR. REEDER: Yeah, the statistics of what about church size and what does that tell us? What about church age and what does that tell us? And, through that, how should we view statistics and what story do they actually tell?
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.