Friday, October 9, 2015

Are We Really Little gods?

Many of the word of faith, prosperity preachers teach that we are little gods.  This includes Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Morris Cerillo, Benny Hinn, Paula White, Creflo Dollar, and Joyce Meyer. 

In case you don't believe me, I will quote a few of them verbatim, and then we'll search the Scriptures together to see if these things are really so.

What the "little gods" Teach
Kenneth Copeland says "...And I say this with all respect so that it don't upset you too bad, but I say it anyway. When I read in the Bible where He says I AM, I just smile and say, 'Yes, I AM too.'" (Believer's Voice of Victory Broadcast, 7/9/1987). 

"Earl Paulk states "Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, so God has little gods .... Until we comprehend that we are little gods and we begin to act like little gods, we cannot manifest the Kingdom of God.' (Earl Paulk, Satan unmasked 1984 pp.96-97)

Copeland states "You are not a spiritual schizophrenic -- half-God and half-Satan -- you are all-God" (Now We Are in Christ Jesus (Fort Worth: KCP Publications, 1980), pp.16-17).

Copleand states" Am I a god? Man was created in the god class, was not created in the animal class, it was the god class. He has a uniqueness about him that even angels do not have...Now Peter said by exceeding great and precious promises, you become partakers of the divine nature. Alright, are we gods? We are a class of gods." (Praise the Lord, TBN, 2/5/1986). 

Benny Hinn said, "God came from heaven, became a man, made man into little gods, went back to heaven as a man. He faces the Father as a man. I face devils as the son of God. Quit your nonsense! What else are you? If you say, I am, you’re saying I’m a part of Him, right? Is he God? Are you His offspring? Are you His children? You can’t be human! You can’t! You can’t! God didn’t give birth to flesh…You said, ‘Well, that’s heresy.’ No, that’s your crazy brain saying that." (Benny Hinn, Our Position in Christ #2—The Word Made Flesh  Orlando Christian Center, 1991).

Kenneth Hagin says that you are Christ.   “The believer is called Christ...That's who we are; we're Christ" (Zoe: The God-Kind of Life, 1989. pp. 35-36, 41)

Paul Crouch says, “I am a little god!  Critic, be gone!” (Paul Crouch, Praise the Lord program - TBN July 7, 1986).   There is an obvious arrogance and pride about these statements.

Morris Cerillo says “the whole purpose of God was to reproduce Himself. …you’re not looking at Morris Cerillo, you’re looking at God, you’re looking at Jesus” (The End Time Manifestation of the Sons of God, Audio Tape 1, Sides 1 &;2).

Hinn states “Are you ready for some real revelation are god” (“Our Position In Christ”, tape # AO31190-1).  Hinn also said, "I'm gonna say something.  I don't care whether you like it or not." Then he pointed at the camera and said, "You ever attack me, your children will pay for it." ("Word of Faith Teachers: Origins & Errors of Their Teaching" by Keith Thompson).

I said, "You are Gods"
One of the passages they use is John 10, where Jesus quotes Psalm 82.

The psalmist wrote: I said, "You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High. "Nevertheless you will die like men And fall like any one of the princes." Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is You who possesses all the nations." (Psa 82:6-8)

Jesus used those verses from Psalm 82 to show the Jews who opposed Him that even God called the judges of old "gods" in Scripture.

Jesus answered them, "Has it not been written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'? "If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? (Joh 10:34-36)

Jesus used this to show that if God called mortal men who die "gods", then they should not have a problem with Him saying He is God's Son.  And Jesus did say we are also sons and daughters of God.  But Jesus did not say we were "gods".  And even if you feel you can deduce from various verses in the Bible that we are so-called "gods", you will not find Jesus teaching this to His disciples, or any of the apostles teaching it.  It leads to error and confusion, as well as division in the Body of Christ, as I see it. 

It is important to note that the judges whom God called "gods" in Psalm 82 were not redeemed Christians.  They were actually judging unjustly and showing partiality to the wicked, which angered God (Ps 82:2).  If you are going to use this passage to refer to Christians, then I guess you would also have to apply it to all humans, including those who are not Christians.  And this is exactly what the New Age movement and Eastern religions do, as well as witches like Margot Adler..  They say that we are all gods. What the prosperity preachers are teaching is no different than what these non-Christian religions believe.

The point of Psalm 82 was that God is the Judge among the judges, and they will all die like mortal men.  But He will arise and judge the earth, for it is He who possesses all the nations! (Psa 82:8) And though the judges may have godlike powers to determine whether men are allowed to live or die, if they themselves are acting unjustly, then they will receive their just penalty in the final judgment. For it is appointed to all men once to die and then face the judgment (Heb 9:27).

You have made him a little lower than God
The advocates of the "little gods" doctrine also use Psalm 8:4-5 to support their position, which says: "What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,” (Psa 8:4-6).  They believe this passage refers to mankind.

However, in order to properly understand the meaning of Psalm 8:4-6, we must interpret it the way the inspired apostle did in his letter to the Hebrews, when he said, “For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying, ‘What is man, that you remember him? Or the son of man, that you are concerned about him? You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, and have appointed him over the works of your hands; you have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in subjecting all things to Him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him. But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” (Heb 2:5-10)

The apostle makes it clear that the psalmist was speaking prophetically about Jesus Christ. He says, “We do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus.”  For a little while, God made Him a little lower than the angels.  Yet now He has crowned Jesus with glory and honor, appointed Him over the works of His hands, and put all things in subjection under His feet.  To interpret this passage differently than the apostle to the Hebrews is to interpret it incorrectly. 

And even though God put all things in subjection under the feet of Jesus Himself, as this verse says, appointing Him over the works of His hands, let us keep in mind the following three things. 

We do not yet see all things subjected to Him
First, in subjecting all things to Him, He left nothing that is not subject to Him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him.  Since we do not yet see all things subject to Him, even though the Father has already subjected all things to Him, we should realize that the same is true of us.  David said, “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’” (Psa 110:1)

The apostle Peter saw Jesus' exaltation as a fulfillment of Psalm 110:1. Peter said, "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."' (Act 2:33-35; cf., Act 5:31)

Paul said, “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet…When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” (1Co 15:25, 28)

The apostle wrote to the Hebrews: “But He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.” (Heb 10:12-13).  So we see that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, still waiting for His enemies to be made a footstool for His feet.  If that is true of Jesus, then it is also true of us.

Perfected through Sufferings
Secondly, the Scripture says, “It was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the Author of their salvation through sufferings.” (Heb 2:10)  Yet the preachers who teach that we are gods do not teach that we must be perfected through sufferings, as the apostles taught in Scripture.  They speak only of blessings and not about the need to suffer. Also see my article, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer.

Jesus Never said the Exact three words, "I am God"
Thirdly, although Jesus is God and was fully God when He walked the earth as a fully human man, he never said the exact three words, "I am God," as the prosperity preachers like to say about themselves. In fact, He even rarely called Himself “the Son of God” (Joh 5:25; 10:36; 11:4).  It’s true that satan, the demons, and His enemies called Him the Son of God (Mt 4:3,6; 8:29; 26:63; 27:40, 43; Lk 4:3, 9, 41; 22:70; Joh 19:7), His apostles called Him the Son of God (Mk 1:1; Lk 3:38; Joh 1:34, 49; 11:27), and the angel Gabriel called Him the Son of God (Lk 1:35).  For that is who He is!
But Jesus mostly referred to Himself humbly as “the Son of Man” (Mat. 8:20; 9:6; 10:23; 11:19; 12:8,32,40; 13:37,41; 16:13,27,28; 17:9,12,22; 18:11; 19:28; 20:18,28; 24:27,30,37,39,44; 25:31; 26:2,24,45,64; Mark 2:10,28; 8:31,38; 9:9,12,31; 10:33,45; 13:26; 14:21,41,62; Luke 5:24; 6:5,22; 7:34; 9:22,26,44,56,58; 11:30; 12:8,10,40; 17:22,24,26,30; 18:8,31; 19:10; 21:27,36; 22:22,48,69; 24:7; John 1:51; 3:13,14; 5:27; 6:27,53,62; 8:28; 9:35; 12:23,34; 13:31). Also see my article, The Son of Man.

He also forbid the demons from saying He was the Son of God (Luke 4:35, 41), and He forbid His disciples from doing so until after He had risen from the dead (Matthew 16:15,16,20; see also Mark 3:11,12; 8:29,30).  He did the same with those He healed (Matthew Matthew 8:3,4; 12:15,16; Mark 5:42,43).

Author Richard Bailey points out why Jesus did not openly and clearly reveal His true and full identity.  He gives these four reasons:

1. Because Jesus knew that His identity is beyond human understanding, and is revealed only to believers who are enabled by God to search for this truth (Matthew 16:15-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:7-14; John 6:37,44,65; 14:21-23)

2. Because He did not want people to be distracted from His basic purpose and message (Matthew 20:28; Luke 19:10; Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Timothy 2:5)

3. Because Jesus knew many people have so hardened their hearts and surrendered to satan, that they could not recognize who He really is and why He came (Matthew 13:10-11,13-15; John 1:10,11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 2:7,8).

I would add that He did not cast His pearls to the swine, and taught His disciple not to do so either. "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." (Mat 7:6)

4. God’s word is filled with statements about God’s secret wisdom understood only by those to whom God reveals it (Job 28:11; Proverbs 25:2; Isaiah 45:15; 48:6; Jeremiah 33:3; Daniel 2:22; John 6:45; 1 Corinthians 2:1-8; Colossians 2:2,3; 4:3; see also 1:26,27)

Although Jesus existed in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped (Php 2:6).  He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  That was the example He gave us to follow. If He never said, “I am God,” then why should any man say, “I am God” or “I am a little god”?  Why not keep that to yourself, if you believe it?

We Are Servants of God
Likewise, the apostles always referred to themselves very humbly as servants (Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:10; Php. 2:7; Col. 1:7; 4:7; 1Ti. 4:6; 2Ti. 2:24; Tit. 1:1; Jas. 1:1; 2Pe. 1:1; Jude 1:1).  In spite of all the miracles the Lord did through Peter and Paul, and in spite of the fact that James and Jude were half-brothers of Jesus, they all referred to themselves as servants, not gods or Christs.  Neither Peter, nor Paul, nor John, nor James, nor Jude ever said we are gods or that they themselves were gods.  In fact, when the people tried to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas as if they were gods, the apostles tore their clothes and did everything they could to stop them. (Act 14:14-18).  When Cornelius bowed down in the presence of Peter, the apostle raised him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am just a man." (Act 10:26).

Jesus taught, "But the greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Mat 23:11; cf., Mk 10:34; Lk 22:26).  He said, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."  (Mk 9:35).  Yet by calling themselves gods, these prosperity preachers claim to be first or great. Also see my article, Having a Servant's Heart.

No One is Good Except God
Actually Jesus said no one is good except God, so we should not even call any man good.  Let alone call any man god.

"And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.'" (Mar 10:18).  Likewise, the Christian should say in this same Spirit of the Lord, "Why do you call me a god? No one is a god except God alone?"

Beware of Pride and Selfishness
When God created man in His image, He did not say, “Let us make gods in our image.”  He said, “Let us make man in our image.” (Gen 1:26).  Let’s keep it that way and not change it to suit our own selfish egos.

The devil tries to tempt man to do what God has forbidden.  And pride is one of his greatest temptations.  Calling oneself god or Christ is the epitome of pride.  Yet Jesus said, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man." (Mar 7:20-23). Pride is an evil thing that proceeds from within and defiles the man. 

Likewise, the apostles are in agreement. John said, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1Jn 2:16). James also said, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (Jas 4:6).  And Peter said, “You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1Pe 5:5).  There is nothing humble about saying you are a god. God will oppose anyone who speaks like this, and it is one of the marks of false teachers. Jude wrote, "They boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage." (Jude 1:16b, NIV). Man will have to give an account for every idle word he has spoken (Mt 12:36).

In Mt 6:1-6, and 16-18, Jesus taught us the importance of not drawing attention to our own spirituality. That would be boasting.  Just as we must not tell people when or how much we pray, when or how much we give to the needy, nor when or how much we fast, we must not tell people we are gods.  It exalts self, and this is displeasing to the Lord.

Even if you say, "Well, I give 97% of my income to the poor. But that doesn't make me special.  I'm no better than the next guy." Or "I pray four hours a day, but I know that this does not make me any better than you.  It doesn't make me extraordinary. I am still just a mortal man."

You may think you are able to say "I am a god" without being prideful.  But you are setting an example for your hearers to follow.  Then when they come to Christ, they will go around saying, "I am a god."  And they may become puffed up with pride and fall into the trap of the devil..

"Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?" (1Co 5:6)

That's why it is best to follow the example of Jesus and the apostles and not even allow a little yeast in our lives.  Speak of yourself in the most humble terms possible.

We would do well to heed the wise advice of Solomon, who wrote: "Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; it is better for him to say to you, 'Come up here,' than for him to humiliate you before his nobles."

You Shall Have No Other gods Before Me
There is a good reason why the first commandment says, "Then God spoke all these words, saying, 'I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.'"  (Exo 20:1-3)

When anyone claims to be a god (even with a little "g"), they are in violation of the first commandment, as I read it. God said, "...No other gods..."

The Jews would certainly not be impressed by anyone's claim to be a god, since they and we know there is only one God.  "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" (Deu 6:4).  Jesus affirmed this in Mark 12:29.  And so did the apostle Paul, when he said, "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph 4:4-6).  It only breeds confusion and is not the true gospel for a Christian to say, "I am a god" or "we are gods."

"You are My witnesses," declares the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me." (Isa 43:10)

"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. 'Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, From the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place. 'Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.'" (Isa 44:6-8)

"I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me;" (Isa 45:5)

"Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me." (Isa 45:21)

Rather than falsely claiming that you are a god, there are other biblical expressions you can use that are accurate, such as "all who are led by the Spirit are sons of God." (Rom 8:14).  Or "we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1Pe 2:9)

Let's hold fast to what the apostles said, and not stray from the gospel they preached.

The Man of Lawlessness Displaying Himself as Being God
Millions of people are being deceived by these false teachings.  It's an end time deception.   I don't think any believer would come to the conclusion from Scripture alone that they are a god, unless they heard it from someone who teaches this.

It is all in preparation for when the anti Christ sets himself up in God's temple and says, "I am god."  This will not even shock the Christians, since millions of them have fallen for the lie that we are gods.

The apostle Paul said, "Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [the coming of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God." (2Th 2:3-4)

Since the believer is the temple of God (1 Co 3:16; 6:19), then it is blasphemous to sit in that temple and display yourself as being God or a god.  That would be a precursor of what the man of sin is going to do.  There is a big difference between being the temple of God, in which God dwells, and being God.

This blasphemy that the man of sin will commit will not be one of a kind.  Jesus said, "Watch out that you are not deceived. Many will come in My name, claiming, 'I am He.'...Do not follow them." (Lk 21:8) Isn't that clear enough for us to know we should not follow anyone claiming to be God or to be Christ?

Putting it All Together
Let’s beware of this heresy and stay clear of it.  These "little god" preachers have chosen their destiny by speaking like this, and unless they repent, their souls are in grave danger. They are leading many astray with this teaching, and their version of the prosperity gospel.

If you are caught up in this, I urge you to prayerfully consider what I have just told you.  Repent and ask the Lord to forgive you for your part in it, whatever that may have been.  Then apologize to those whom you have taught or said this to (that you are a god), and ask their forgiveness.  Explain to them that it is false and not in line with Scripture.  Make everything right, and clear yourself completely of this matter. 

I once read a poster that said, “Fact number one: There is one God.  Fact number two: You are not Him.”  This sums it up succinctly.

Let us say with Peter, “I am just a man.”  Let us say with the apostles, “I am a bond-servant of the Lord.”  Let us say with Mary, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord” (Luk 1:38). Let us say with the psalmist, “The LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psa 100:3; cf., Ps 95:7).

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Image of T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer from Apprising Ministries.

1. Why did Jesus not openly reveal his full identity? by Richard Bailey of Answering Islam.
2. Joyce Meyer and T.D. Jakes teaching word faith “little gods” doctrine by Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries.
3. The Little god/Men article is credited for the quotes of these "little god" teachers.  This does not constitute endorsement of “Let us Reason Ministries.”

Author's note I also recommend reading What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?, Exposing Heresy, The Son of Man, Having a Servant's Heart, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer, The Rise of Antichrists, The Dangers of Disobedience, and Sin and Consequence. You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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