Lost appetite, severe anxiety, insomnia, overwhelming grief, agonizing discomfort, severe itching/irritation, painful and continuous oozing boils from head to toe, terrifying dreams and hallucinations, raging fever, relentless pain, dramatic weight loss, skin turned black, teeth falling out, decaying skin, shriveled up the body, severe halitosis, worm, and dust -infected flesh: this was what theologians refer to as “Job’s Living Death.” Yet, God loved Job, and Job trusted God. Even in his “living death,” Job knew that God was sovereign.
In contrast, Andrew Wommack is a false teacher who teaches against the Sovereignty of God. On his daily TV program, Wommack teaches his viewers that God’s people do not suffer. He denies God’s sovereignty in sickness, grief, death, and pain. He tells his viewers that God promises health, wealth, and success to all believers, so if tragedy or suffering comes upon a person, it’s because they are guilty of some sin, with an emphasis on the person’s lack of faith. In his article Faith for Healing Is Based on Knowledge Andrew Wommack teaches:
“God has already placed His healing power within us, and it is now under our authority. It isn’t up to God to determine who receives healing; it’s up to us! What a powerful statement! It’s our failure to understand and use the authority we have that is keeping God’s healing power from flowing as it should. It’s imperative that we discover what we have and learn how to release it. If you don’t have my album entitled The Believer’s Authority, you need to get it. The message will not only affect the way you receive and minister healing, but it will change the entire way you relate to God. It’s a powerful teaching.”[i]
Prosperity and word of faith teachers such as Wommack rail the same accusations against God and his faithful that Job’s friends did. In fact, they completely turn The Book of Job upside down and teach the opposite of what the Bible teaches. By Job 17:2, Job’s friends – his would-be comforters and counselors – had become actual enemies and eventually caused Job even more pain and tears. That is the fruit of false beliefs about the Sovereignty of God. It only ends in more despair.
Word of Faith false teachers mimic Job’s friends. In Job 8, Bildad accused Job of receiving judgment from God. This is logically based on the principle that God punishes sin. Still, it fails to account – as Wommack and his Word of Faith partners – the mystery of the heavenly debate between God and Satan, a battle Job was not guilty of causing by sin or a lack of faith, nor he or his friends knew anything about.
When people are suffering, we often respond in two ways: we may try to advocate for God by removing His sovereignty from the situation, and/or we try to diagnose the cause of one’s suffering by deeming the cause sin and lack of faith when often the cause is a mystery of God that isn’t revealed to man.
Dear friends, just as the wicked prosper, bad things happen all the time to believers. We cannot judge a person’s spirituality by his painful circumstances or successes. This unbiblical judgment is only one of many reasons why the Prosperity/Word of Faith false gospels are immediately and completely crushed under the weight of Biblical Truth.
God is love. And He is sovereign. Randy Alcom wrote, “Our sovereign God weaves millions of details into our lives. He may have one big reason, or a thousand little ones, for bringing a certain person or success or failure or disease or accident into our lives. His reasons often fall outside our present lines of sight. If God uses cancer or a car accident to conform us to Himself, then regardless of the human, demonic, or natural forces involved, He will be glorified.”[ii]
Job’s friends accused Job partly as a defense for God. But God doesn’t need us, or false teachers, to defend Him.
In God Doesn’t Need You to Do His PR, author/blogger Tim Challies wrote:
” …one theme I have come across time and again is Christians who are committed to doing a bit of PR work on behalf of the Lord. Though God has no media relations department, these people feel inclined to volunteer for the position and to explain—or explain away—some of what God says or does. Like any PR representative, they stand between the “boss” and the world to explain what he really meant, what he really intended to communicate in his Word.
Most often they intend to remove any connection between the suffering or death of a human being and the sovereignty of God. “God did not wish for this to happen,” they might say. “This could never be God’s will.” Maybe they’ll even say something like, “Satan won this round.” They want to protect God from his own sovereignty, as if it does not extend to matters as consequential as sorrow, suffering, and death.
Yet the consistent testimony of the Bible and the consistent testimony of the historic Christian faith is that God is, indeed, sovereign over all things. He is sovereign over birth, he is sovereign over death, and he is sovereign over everything in between. This means he is sovereign over the means of death and even over any suffering that accompanies death. Yet, of course, never in such a way as to sin or to be morally responsible for sin.
This relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility is difficult to understand. In fact, it may well be impossible to fully understand, at least on this side of eternity. And so we take it by faith as the clear testimony of God’s Word.
And as we take it by faith, it brings meaning and purpose to our times of difficulty, for how could meaning and purpose fail to follow when we submit ourselves to the providence of God? He stands behind our sorrows, not as the one who is necessarily morally responsible for their causes—he compels no man to fire a gun and no woman to drive in a drunken state—but as the one who ultimately has power over all the circumstances of life and death.
There are many places you can go to see how this can be proven in the Bible… “[iii]
A major theme of the Book of Job, in direct contrast to Prosperity/Word of Faith Theology, is that God’s people suffer and that God is sovereign in the bad and the good, even when we don’t know or understand why something is happening.
In Job 28, Job called on his friends to consider the truth that God’s love and wisdom are beyond our comprehension. Divine wisdom of God cannot be strained out of natural minds, theology, or knowledge, because we cannot naturally know what God, in His Sovereignty, does not reveal.
Another way Word of the faith teachers twist Scripture is the debate between God and Satan concerning Job. They teach God cannot use evil for His purposes, but is that the truth? Does God use evil for His purposes? Scripture shows some ways in which God uses evil to further His purposes:
- to display divine grace and justice (Rom. 3:26; 5:8, 20-21; 9:17).
- to judge evil in the present and future (Matt. 23:35; John 5:14).
- to redeem through Christ’s sufferings (1 Pet. 3:18).
- to expand gospel witness through the suffering of Christ’s people (Col. 1:24).
- to shock unbelievers, get their attention, and call for a change of heart (Zech. 13:7-9; Luke 13:1-5; John 9).
- to discipline believers (Heb. 12:3-17).
- and to vindicate God (Rom. 3:26).[iv]
We often don’t know why we suffer, but our hope isn’t in always figuring out the whys of pain and suffering, but rather the promise that the agony may be intense, but it will ultimately end for the righteous, and God will bless abundantly.
Loraine Boettner wrote:
“Nations, as well as individuals, are thus in the hands of God, who appoints the bounds of their habitation, and controls their destiny. He controls them as absolutely as a man controls a rod or a staff. They are in His hands, and He employs them to accomplish His purposes. He breaks them in pieces as a potter’s vessel, or He exalts them to greatness, according to His good pleasure. He gives peace and fruitful seasons, prosperity and happiness, or He sends the desolations of war, famine, drought and pestilence. All of these things are of His disposing, and are designed for intelligent ends under His universal providence. God is no mere spectator of the universe He has made, but is everywhere present and active, the all-sustaining ground, and all-governing power of all that is.”[v]
J.I. Packer said, “To know that nothing happens in God’s world apart from God’s will may frighten the godless, but it stabilizes the saints.”[vi]
We would do well to reject Word of Faith deceptions about the sovereignty of God and remember that He is the source of everything (Deut. 32:39; Isa. 45:5—7; 54:16; John 5:26; 1 Cor. 8:6) and that He does as He wills (Ps. 115:3; Isa. 46:10-11; 64:8; Jer. 18:6; Dan. 4:35; Rom. 9:19-21; Eph. 1:5; Rev. 4:11).
As Ligonier Ministries pointed out: “God always has a good purpose for allowing suffering to come into our lives, but we do not always know what that purpose is. Yet, because we know the Lord is perfectly good (James 1:13–18), we trust that He will work all of the pain that we endure for our final good and His final glory. The better we know the character of our Creator, the better we will be able to trust in His goodness and grace in the midst of all our suffering.”[vii]
In his teaching series Dust to Glory, R.C. Sproul taught on the book of Job and the biblical understanding of suffering. We suffer for many reasons. At times, we may be facing the direct consequences of our sin. But faithfulness is no guarantee that we won’t suffer. In fact, the opposite is often true. As believers, we’re called to undergo trials for our sanctification and God’s glory. And we can rejoice, for to suffer for righteousness sake is to be blessed (Matt. 5:10). Dr. Sproul teaches:
“Such was the case for Job. He was given the high calling of remaining true to God even when grim agony became his daily lot. He suffered so much not because he was one of the worst men but because he was one of the best. Ultimately, he learned to trust God’s will even in the midst of misfortune—and so must we.”[viii]
[i] Wommack, A. (n.d.). Faith for Healing Is Based on Knowledge. Andrew Wommack Ministries. Retrieved March 24, 2023, from https://www.awmi.net/reading/teaching-articles/healing_knowledge/
[ii] God Doesn’t Need You To Do His PR | Tim Challies. https://www.challies.com/articles/god-doesnt-need-you-to-do-his-pr/
[v] Challies, T. (2023) God doesn’t need you to do his PR no, Tim Challies. Available at: https://www.challies.com/articles/god-doesnt-need-you-to-do-his-pr/ (Accessed: March 10, 2023).
I live in Drew County, Arkansas. I have been married for 24 years to Chris Lawson. I’m a former tutor and newspaper reporter, and an elementary Sunday School teacher at Enon Baptist Church. We enjoy spending time with our daughter and son-in-law, Becca and Clayton Cheshire, and granddaughter, Madeline Jayne. I enjoy spending time in the Word of God and mentoring ladies who have left various charismatic teachings.