What is the main message of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ to the modern world? What is the one common message that the preachers of today are so keen on communicating to their congregants? What is the message that people glued to televisions want to hear from the televangelist?  Your guess is as good as mine. It is the wealth and health gospel in its various forms.

There is so much confusion today as to the message that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ should be proclaiming to the world. Is it the sinfulness of man and his need of being saved through the sacrificial death of Christ? Is it that we are to proclaim to mankind that Christ came into the world to save sinners by grace, and they must come to him through repentance and faith, and thereafter live by faith as they follow Christ? Is it that Christ came, that by faith in him we can escape the fires of eternal hell?

Most people today will probably not be sure whether what is stated above is the message mankind needs to hear today as of first importance. What they want to hear is that God loves them, and if they can only sow a seed to “the man of God” he would bless them. They want to go to a preacher who will tell them that it is not God’s will for them to be sick or be in a hospital bed. They want to hear that they will be healed. They want to hear that all they need to do is “name it and claim it” and it will all be theirs. They want to hear that their words have power to create wealth, so that they will become financially prosperous. They want to hear about a breakthrough of some sort by the spoken word coming through a prophecy from a “man of God,” etc. Does this sound familiar? I think it does. However, there are some important questions we need to squarely face as we think of our times today: Is this really the message that the Lord Jesus said we should take to the world when he said, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19)?

How has the church found itself in this confusing state, as far as its message to the world is concerned? First, it is clearly a lack of adherence to very clear instructions found in Scripture. We have such Scriptures as 2 Timothy 3:14, “But as for you, continue in what you have learnt and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.” See also Jude verse 3 and 4.

Second, because of the first reason given above, error has easily crept into the church. The major culprits in this regard are the wealth and health televangelists/preachers that have been made famous by Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the world’s largest Christian television network. Their teaching is very appealing to many unsuspecting congregants. These preachers and they are mainly found in the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement. Their movement is referred to by various names, the most common one being: “The Word of Faith” (WOF) movement.

This issue of Reformation Zambia has given a very brief sketch of the historical origins of the WOF movement. They have clearly departed from orthodox doctrine. One of the most common verses this movement has sadly “wrenched” out of context and given a totally erroneous meaning is Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Emmanuel Sakala has laboured to give the correct interpretation of his verse. The movement has also put on the sidelines the important teaching of saving faith, its necessity and priority. Instead, the preachers only speak of God’s willingness to materially bless people, irrespective of whether they are living in obedience to God’s word or not.

The result of all this is what God’s holy word tells us in 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” This is sadly what we find in many churches today. The gospel that speaks about repentance and faith in Christ is hardly heard. Oswald Sichula has laboured to explain the need for saving faith, rather than a faith that wants to use God like an ATM.

In the same vein, we have also shown in this issue that Christianity is a religion of faith and not one lived by seeing material blessings coming your way all the time. Raphael Banda has clearly shown that God’s holy word says, “The righteous shall live by faith,” contrary to the WOF emphasis on material blessings and the best life here and now.