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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : Beware Of These Four Types of Preachers by Zac Poonen

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 Beware Of These Four Types of Preachers by Zac Poonen

The book of Job was written about 500 years before Moses wrote Genesis, and is the first book of inspired Scripture. In it we see the origin of the false teaching (so prevalent in Christendom today) that “health and wealth” are the proof of God’s blessing.

Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar were three preachers who came to Job and told him that the loss of his health and his wealth proved that he had lost the blessing of God on his life. Their basic message was that the blessing of God would always bring prosperity and health.

But even though Job had lost all his “health and wealth”, he was still in the perfect will of God (as we see from James 5:11). But the three preachers who preached the “health and wealth gospel” were totally out of the will of God. Their accusing of Job proved that they were actually in fellowship with Satan, the Accuser (Rev.12:10).

God rebuked all three of those preachers, saying “I am angry with you because you have not spoken of Me what is right”(42:7).

God told them there that their teaching of “health and wealth” as proof of His blessing was totally wrong. And God is just as angry with today’s “health-and-wealth-gospel” preachers for the same reason: Their teaching is wrong.

Some of the things that those three preachers said (in Job) appear to be right. But they were still wrong – because they preached health and wealth as the proof of God’s blessing.

One more preacher – Elihu – joined these three preachers later on.
These four preachers are a picture of four types of preachers in Christendom today.

The first preacher - Eliphaz - was a man who majored on visions and angels. There are preachers like that today who are always talking about the angels and visions they have seen, to try and insert some “authority” into their words. Eliphaz told Job, “What I am sharing with you was given to me in secret. It was whispered in my ears. It came in a vision at night when others were sleeping. Fear gripped me. I trembled as the power of God came upon me. I shook with terror. A spirit came in front of my face. It sent shivers up my spine. It stood still in front of me. I couldn’t see the face but I saw the form. Then a voice said, ‘Can mortal man be upright before God? Can anyone be pure before his Creator?’ ” (Job 4:12-17).
That was not the Holy Spirit Who spoke to Eliphaz. It was Satan who came as an angel of light speaking “spiritual language” (2 Cor.11:14). The Holy Spirit never frightens anyone. So don’t be deceived by preachers who speak about the visions and dreams they have seen.

Visions and dreams can come from three sources.

First of all: The Holy Spirit does give visions and dreams – but they will always be in line with God’s Word (Acts 2:17). Those who receive a genuine vision however will be hesitant to talk about it. Paul was once taken up to the third heaven, but he never spoke about it for 14 years – and even then he mentioned it only to one church – and that too was done only to establish his authority to write Scripture as an apostle (2 Cor.12:1-4). But Paul said he was not permitted to tell anyone about what he had heard in heaven. That is the mark of a believer who has had a genuine vision of heaven.
Secondly: Some visions come from Satanic sources. Those who are desperate to have a vision, in order to get some honour before men by speaking about it, will open themselves to Satan who will come as an angel of light and give them any number of visions to deceive them (and deceive others through them) (2 Cor.11:13-15).

Thirdly: The vast majority of visions come from a person’s own fertile imagination. All of us are different as human beings – and some have a more fertile imagination than others. All that such people need to do to get a vision is to shut their eyes for a few moments and begin to imagine!! Immediately they will begin to “see” and “hear” things in their mind. They may be quite sincere, but they are deceived about their visions. At night, such people can even get dreams from their own mind! The authority in our words must come from the written word of God, and not from any private revelations or visions or dreams that we imagine are from God.

The second preacher – Bildad - believed in following the traditions of the fathers. He said, “Consider what our fathers taught us. They are more likely to be right than we newcomers. So let us listen to their words” (Job 8:8-10). He is typical of yet another group of preachers found in Christendom. These people do not wish to disturb any of the traditions that have been handed down for hundreds of years in “their church” by their ancestors – whether right or wrong. They don’t want visions or dreams – and they don’t want any changes either. They don’t want to rock the boat. And they don’t’ want to change the direction of the boat either – even if it is going in the wrong direction!! Bildad was a gentle person. But he still accused Job. There are many people who have the ability to say really hurting things in a gentle way! Their words are smooth but they have the sting of a serpent in them. Husbands and wives can sometimes say quiet words to each other that hurt more than loud, angry words.

The third preacher – Zophar – believed in being angry and critical about everything. He was the one who hit out at Job the hardest. He called Job “a talkative idiot” (Job 11:2,12) He is representative of some “self-appointed prophets” who imagine that they are modern-day Elijahs and John the Baptists. They are critical of everything they see and constantly hit out at everyone. Jesus also criticised the Pharisees. But His was anointed criticism, and not carnal criticism. Jesus called the Pharisees “vipers” and Paul called one man “an enemy of righteousness”. But God bore witness to their words. If however, someone who is not anointed by God speaks like that, God won’t back him up. Zophar was “a self-appointed censor” (James 3:1 – Amplified) who used harsh, hard words to criticise Job. He tried to project himself as a man radically devoted to righteousness. But there was no anointing in what he said.

The fourth preacher - Elihu – was a young zealot who had no personal experience of sorrow or suffering. He was young and full of words but with no experience (Job 32:6,18). He was better than the other three. God was not angry with him, as He was with the other three preachers, because Elihu’s spirit was not evil. Elihu is representative of those preachers who teach wonderful truths but who have never gone through the deep waters of suffering and trial themselves. They are pious people who are ready to give advice to others on matters about which they have no experience.

Paul’s ministry came out of suffering. He said “I’ve been through pressure, trials, and tremendous distress; and the strength that God gave me in those times is what I can share with you now” (2Cor.1:4-8). That was a different type of ministry altogether. It came from experience. And that is how all our ministry should be.

These four preachers were all “health and wealth” preachers – Elihu being just a little less of it than the others. But Job was not deceived by any of them, even though he did not have a Bible. Today however, multitudes of believers who have the Bible with them, are being deceived by the modern “health and wealth preachers” !

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.


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