TD Jakes and his false teaching of modalism is certainly a great threat to the church. Here in Africa, however, his followers are most influenced by another of his heresies: the Prosperity Gospel.
Stickers like that on the left is common in our villages. Notice the name of the church, the key words, and the swanky pose. Most of this is the cheap imitation of what they see Jakes do on TV and in his books. As the pastor of the Potter’s House, Jakes has crystalized in his doctrinal statement the false teaching that is rampant in so many African churches:
We believe that it is God’s will to heal and deliver His people today as He did in the days of the first Apostles. It is by the stripes of Jesus that we are healed, delivered and made whole. We have authority over sickness, disease, demons, curses, and every circumstance in life.
The Prosperity Gospel teaches that it is always God’s will to heal. If healing doesn’t come, it is because of the sick person’s lack of faith. But is this true? Was faith necessary for healing in the New Testament?
When the desperate nobleman begged Jesus to heal his sick boy, the Savior rebuked not only the man but the Jews in general for their unbelief. “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” (Jn. 4:48) This royal official most likely had very little understanding of who Jesus was. He certainly was not an example of steadfast trust. And yet, Jesus in his mercy healed the man’s son despite his lack of faith.
The pattern is the same in the Gospels. Jesus healed all ten lepers, though only one expressed faith (Lk. 17:11-19). The invalid healed in John 5 didn’t even know who Jesus was, nor did the blind man who was given sight in John 9. Jesus raised Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter from the dead, both obviously not able to express faith. Jesus healed the demoniac in Capernaum carte blanche (Mk. 1:21-26).
The apostles are similar. Peter didn’t demand faith from the lame man (Ac. 3:6-8). Tabitha was dead and couldn’t believe (Ac. 9:36-43). Paul healed the slave girl (Ac. 16:18) and Eutychus (Ac. 20:7-12) without any kind of spiritual down payment.
In fact, it is not always God’s will to heal. But when he does, it is not our faith that determines his sovereign choices. Rather, God has promised to hear and answer our prayers only when they are according to his will (1Jn. 5:13-14).