MAFISI KWA OFISI: A Response to Abuses and Excesses by Purported Ministers of the Gospel
I belong to a group of youth ministers from various parts of the country. Most of them hail from Nairobi. Over the past few months a stir was caused in the group following certain abuses and the excesses by people who claim to be ministers of the Gospel. It all started when two local “gospel” artists invited a girl for an orgy and infected her with an STI. They avoided her calls and only responded to the matter when the lady went public. Anecdotal evidence suggested that a bunch of so-called gospel artists in Kenya live actively and intentionally contrary to the message they claim to propagate.
The headlines continued shortly after that story:
A local popular high school minister was implicated in a number of sexual harassment cases by certain high school girls. The Director of Criminal Investigation took up the case. This was particularly hard because the implicated minister was in the WhatsApp group of the youth ministers I’m referring to.
Down south, a popular South African pastor claimed to raise someone from the dead. He eventually back-pedaled on the “miracle” when lawsuits and irrefutable pieces of evidence of the fake act surfaced.
Another purported minister claimed to speak to God via a mobile phone and give divine instructions to a certain church member.
Some old stories resurfaced:
In another case, a purported healing preacher kissed women to grant them repose from their diseases. And how convenient that he could not kiss sick men but only women.
In another, a minister took a photo “in the spirit” with an iPad and revealed it to a woman waiting for a special picture of her child from the “Man of God (MOG).”
And there was yet another of a pastor who made his congregants eat grass.
While discussing these issues in the youth ministry WhatsApp group, it was clear that Christ’s words were being fulfilled. There would be wolves in sheep’s clothing in the end of days. That these charlatans and gimmick workers are truly selfish unregenerate human beings who prey on the weak. They are agents of Satan to discredit the Body of Christ, I would dare say. To state this is consistent with Christ’s teaching. And those who defend these false prophets in the name of “don’t judge” or “don’t touch the anointed of God” only prove that they are enemies of Jesus Christ. That they follow human personalities and not the God of the Bible. Some would prefer to defend these charlatans for fear that the true Body of a Christ is being maligned. Yet in truth to prevent maligning the true church, these charlatans must be called out. Another may quote Philippians 1:15-17 indicating that as long as the gospel is preached, let God judge the motives. The only trouble is that this scripture assumes even the ones with wrong motives are preaching the gospel. The charlatans in question do not preach the gospel and they do not fall under Philippians 1:15-17.
It is self-evident from these scenarios that not everyone who has a verbal affirmation of their faith necessarily has a true regenerate heart commitment (Matthew 7:21-23). As I write this post, there are discussions on one TV show as to whether there should be regulations by the Government. One of our group members, Pastor John Musyimi, challenged us to consider how the true Body of Christ should respond to these abuses and excesses by many of these ministers, especially those who subscribe to the Charismatic Movement. In the hundreds of messages that flew in on the WhatsApp group, I found these responses by Musyimi and another Pastor Christian Lwanda to be most insightful. I will start with Christian’s response and end with Musyimi’s. These responses should help the reader evaluate their own heart and the church they attend. It should also spur the leader to evaluate their own “pastors”. I also challenge the readers to evaluate these responses biblically and prayerfully before responding prematurely. I would also like to affirm that the responses below come from people who believe in the supernatural work of God, including the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit.
So lemme attempt to answer @Pastor John Musyimi’s question in the negative. In other words, John asked, “how do we tell the excesses?” I will attempt to ask and answer, “how do we know when someone is fake?”. Feel free to add to this, but here are some basic questions I ask when I see miracles or even hear someone teach/preach:
1. Was the Gospel clearly proclaimed?
In many of these faith-healing events, sinners are not called to repentance, the cross is talked of purely in terms of health and wealth and the Gospel is NOT proclaimed. The lack of Gospel is a sign that this is probably not a true healing, the Gospel is THE over-arching message or the Bible (Lk.24:27, 1Cor.1:23, 2:2, Rev.5), and the Gospel was the whole point of Jesus’ miracles. The miracles were not an end in and of themselves, they were meant to point sinners to the Savior (Mark 2:1-12). The same pattern follows true in Acts, the miracles and healing were signs to accompany the proclamation of the Gospel, but not an end in and of themselves.
2. Does this healer/miracle worker handle God’s word with consistency, fear and trembling?
If miracles are going to happen by the Holy Spirit, they cannot be inconsistent with the very word He wrote (2Tim.3:16-17). When these people preach before said miracles, I think we have to listen to carefully to HOW they handle God’s word, God demands that we tremble at His word (Is.66:2,5). So if the guy is taking texts kicking and screaming out of their context, and using it to serve his healing agenda, then he’s probably a fake and the miracles that follow are probably fake as well.
3. Do these healers/ miracle workers and the healed/ recipients of miracles grow spiritually from these events?
We are to bear spiritual fruit (John 15:1-17) and that fruit is spiritual. It is the fruit of character – who we are (Gal.5:22-23), conduct – how we act (Heb.12:11) and converts – people who came to know Christ through us (Matt.28:18-20). Do said healings/miracles help the healers and the healed grow spiritually in their character? Does it increase humility? Does it push us to Christ of to self?
4. Is there a sense of godly living/ holiness in the life of the healer/miracle worker?
God desires that ALL his children (miracle worked or not) be holy and living godly lives (1Pet.1:15, 1Thess.4:1-12). This does not mean perfection, but it does mean a life that is in behaviour constantly repenting and reforming towards godliness. If the man of God is a thief, philanderer, alcoholic, fornicator, greedy for money, etc. I’m putting a massive question mark over his/her healing and miracles.
5. Does this dignify the healed/recipient of the miracle, or does it rob them of dignity?
In Scripture, miracles were not designed to rob the recipient of their dignity, they actually dignified them. They weren’t for spectacle and show, the man of God did not go through a long history of the person’s sexual history or employment record, they were healed and it ended there. In fact, often, the recipient themselves wouldn’t speak, or speak in praise to God (Mk.5, Ac.20:7-11,etc). So if I see an MOG embarrassing, displaying or using a recipient of healing/miracle for spectacle? Ya, big question mark on said “miracle”.
6. Who’s getting the most attention and glory from this healing/miracle?
100% as in ALL miracles exist to glorify God. HE should be the one getting all the attention, we should even forget how, where and most especially WHO was used of God, He should be the only one remembered (1Cor.10:31). So when I set up “Lwanda healing ministries” is that really for God’s glory?
7. Is the Church of Jesus Christ officially endorsing this miracle worker or not?
Jesus’ plan is to display Himself THROUGH THE CHURCH (John 13:34-35, Hey.10:24-25) the church is the visible display of the Gospel. As such if said miracle workers are NOT active members on their local church, I’m not buying that God is using them. God Himself committed to operate through His church, not just individual Christians. The church is His bride, we cannot despise her and expect to be used by Him. Sadly many of these miracle workers have rogue, independent ministries and are not members of any local church.
1. I think Charismatics should call for Biblically ordered local Churches. I believe that that means a having multiplicity of elders per local congregation who have an equal vote an all issues. They would serve as a check on the primary preacher.
– I think Charismatics should call for ‘MOGs’ who are running independent ministries that function like Churches to consider turning those into Churches and make them healthy and not personality driven events.
– I believe that in connection with all the above, Charismatics should champion meaningful church membership and the Biblical practice of congregational church discipline. Thus when someone engages in the fleshly sin of teaching heresy or engage in spiritual abuse of gifts, they can be called out on it by the congregation and excommunicated if unrepentant. Matt 18, 1 John 4
2. I think we should call on all who call themselves Prophets and Apostles to define precisely what they mean. (How different are they in their roles from pastors, for example?) Do they consider themselves equal to Paul and are their utterances infallible and authoritative on par with Scripture? I have continually argued that the best way to view this issue is that no such offices exist today. (Eph 2.20)
3. I think we should clearly define what we mean by each of the miraculous gifts of the Spirits and how they function. We should also include clear Biblical teaching on when the use of said gift is abused.
4. I think we should clearly articulate all the Biblical tests for frauds and counterfeits. I had pointed out several of them in an earlier post. I think we should make this part of our discipling menu. According to 1 Tim 3.16, It is the congregations job to ensure that what is being taught and practiced is in keeping with the Scripture. Thus they need to be taught to be discerning.
5. I think we should publicly mention names of false prophets and warn our congregants about them and be specific in our critic.
6. I think we should strongly denounce the prosperity gospel and word of faith theology. These two doctrines tend to accompany the abusive elements we have been talking about and have now become defacto associated with Charismatics.
7. I think we should regularly teach through books like 2 Peter and Jude which would force us to talk about false prophets and their abuses and seek to apply their teaching to our context. We teach the ‘whole counsel of God’ not just the parts we like.
What would your contribution to this discussion be? Let us know in the comment section.