Steven Furtick recently preached a “sermon” to encourage his members to be patient. Well, more correctly, Furtick delivered a motivational speech on why God is not promptly delivering the fulfillment of desires in compliance with the “harvest season on your schedule.”
While patience is a laudable topic for pastoral teaching, when Furtick does it – in his self-aggrandizing, Scripture-twisting manner – it seems only logical to presume some ulterior motive on his part. Edifying the sheep is a task not known to this particular unqualified, undignified, and unbiblical charlatan.
The Christian Post featured yet another story of Furtick’s follies and the itching ears of those in Elevation Church. According to Steven Furtick: True Challenge Of Faith Is Surviving Waiting Period, the article addresses the “pastor’s” recent sermon in his “Functional Faith” series. For Furtick, though, that faith is not in the Christ of Scripture and it’s function is to deliver the realization of your dreams. (It remains unclear if Furtick, in this sermon series, will accuse God of sinning by withholding the realization of said dreams, though, in Furtick-ology, divine sinning is allowed)
“While many Christians grow impatient waiting for their destiny to be realized,” the article cites Furtick, “they need to remember that their fate is not a drive-thru.”
WHAT? Waiting for their destiny to be realized? Umm, is he talking something akin to Paul’s words, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain?” (Philippians 1:21) Nope. For Furtick and his folly followers, “gain” is something quite different, and substantially more temporally embraceable. Gain is getting what YOU want … in this life … and the Gospel is twisted to promise it to you.
Fate is not a drive-thru? Fate? What does this nonsense mean? Frankly, the dollar menu version of the Gospel this guy serves is itself featured fare of prosperity gospel, it’s-all-about-you, seeker-sensitive, drive-thru faith proclaimers. (Care to “biggie size” that dream? Please see one of our concierges after the show … err … sermon for a recalculation of your required tithe.)
I wonder, are Elevation members becoming disillusioned with the false teaching hurled at them week after week? We can only pray this might be the case and that some might migrate to faith-edifying shores where Biblical teaching is founded on sound doctrine. As for Furtick, it seems possible that this particular sermon was a peremptory strike aimed at keeping the “gimme my dreams and destiny” crowd in congregational check. (False promises from a false gospel take a long, long time to be fulfilled, you see. Be patient, and keep bellying up to the seed faith donation bar. Have a latte. Gratuity, like truth, is not included.)
Hopefully, there are some legitimately regenerate souls in the midst of the seeker-sensitive hoopla of Elevation Church who may be threatening to depart. If so, would this not put Furtick on a mission to remind tithers that “faith takes time” in order to keep them from otherwise rushing for egress en masse? It’s gotta be tough on anybody who gets a vision from God; you need to keep the discern-less, vision-less pastor-fixated groupies happy, motivated, and giving in order to keep the vision alive. And, by all means, you can’t ever, ever, EVER, preach them the Truth.
(Elevation Church, with over 13,000 members, is based in Mathews, NC and was listed at #31 of America’s largest churches by NewsMax in November 2015. Rick “Bishop” Warren took top “honors” at Saddleback. The toothy-grinned guy in Houston ranked at #3 … FYI)
Elevation Church – where the only thing regularly elevated is Furtick – endured a complete twisting of Jesus’ parable in Mark 4:26-34 in which the meaning of the text was eisegeted into yet another “it’s-all-about-you” message. His summary statement of Jesus’ parable is this: “The true challenge of a strong faith is surviving the waiting period before you are able to reap its benefits and achieve your full destiny, the pastor explains.”
The waiting period? What is that? Is it the amount of time between your first check to fund Furtick’s folly further and that moment you finally realize that what he’s promising that God is promising isn’t actually legit? Is that the waiting period?
Are some “Elevate-ors” becoming pensive at the lack of fruition of their dreams and destinies? Have some come to realize that the “Elevate-or” of Furtick isn’t going up? Have they accidentally read the Bible on their own and discovered that “reap its benefits” actually means salvation from their sins and reconciliation with God? I hope so.
Instead, it’s typical fodder being fomented from the false teacher Furtick. The Gospel is all about you. It’s all about your dreams and your destiny, but sometimes, like the parable says, that seed takes time to create fruit. Furtick “uses the metaphor of a seed … to explain that despite people’s tendency to be impatient, Christians should know that as long as they maintain their faith, their destiny is ‘still on schedule’ for harvest and potential.”
Umm, please stand and join me in saying, NO.
The metaphorical use of seed, soil, and harvest are described in Mark’s Gospel (Mark 4:13-20) when Jesus explained the meanings to the disciples. When we arrive a few verses later at Furtick’s chosen text, verses 26-34, Jesus is continuing with the agricultural theme he’d begun earlier. Simply explained, the sower is the disciple who sows the seed of the Gospel; the soil represents the condition of the heart of the hearer; and the harvest represents the work of regeneration accomplished exclusively by the Holy Spirit.
But according to Furtick-ology, you are the sower, your dreams are the seeds, and the harvest is the fulfillment of those dreams. The “waiting period” is the time it’s taking God to bring your nascent dream to fruition. Rather than being sound theology, Furtick-ology perpetuates nothing more than a false teaching that twists Scripture and makes the Gospel merely a mechanism for self-fulfillment. (And self-fulfillment? Well, that sorta thing takes time, ya’ know? So sit down, listen to his faithless drivel, and, oh, keep tithing. He’s got a huge mortgage to cover.)
The point of this parable isn’t about our dreams, goals, or aspirations. It is to teach disciples truth about the Kingdom of God, and how He will, and does, build that Kingdom. In simplest terms, believers sow the seed of the Gospel leaving the rest up to God. We have no idea whom the Holy Spirit will regenerate from its sowing, nor how His work is actually performed. We do nothing other than sow the seed. God does the rest.
The patience concept to be gleaned from this text might only be in the reassuring confidence that our duty to share the Gospel is completed upon its sowing, though that is a task from which we never cease. We can do nothing to cause, aid, or complete the work that only God can perform from the planting of the Gospel seed.
John MacArthur, in his commentary on Mark, clarifies further the “harvest” that Furtick thoroughly flubbed, “… although the human messenger plays no role in the actual work of regeneration, he is still given the privileged blessing of enjoying the spiritual harvest. One primary aspect of that blessing is the added fellowship that comes every time a new believer is added to the body of Christ. The riches of that fellowship will last for all eternity, as the glorified saints – as one great spiritual harvest – gather around the throne to worship their Savior and King.”
Instead, Furtick symbolizes you as the sower and your dreams as the seed, and, although “the seed is in the ground,” it is still on schedule. “It’s just a matter of time before the potential is released from the seed.” (As I pen this, metaphorical cartoon steam is being exhausted out my ears, FYI.)
No. No. NO.
Jesus did not die on a cross, rise again, and ascend to heaven to the right hand of the Father so that my potential might be released, or that my destiny might be fulfilled, or that I might achieve my dreams. He died so that my sins might be forgiven. Far from promising gratuitous self-fulfillment, the New Testament encourages believers to obedience. In the Great Commission, Jesus Himself instructed that followers be engaged in “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Jesus was not teaching a Furtick version of Your Best Purpose Driven Life Now and How To Endure Until Your Dreams Are Realized. Instead, our Lord reminded those disciples, and us, that despite how difficult our temporal life of faith might be, “behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” And that is the greatest benefit of faith we can ever reap.
One other thing, pertinent to note in Furtick’s case, is that Jesus taught His disciples the purpose for His use of parables.
“And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that
“they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven.” Mark 4:11-12
So, listen, if you’re anywhere near Elevation church and you have some Gospel seeds, there’s a “pastor” that lacks the whole seeing/perception, hearing/understanding thing in a church that’s a huge mission field.
Please stop by and spread some seed. But do it quickly, because Elevation Church is indeed a drive-thru on that spiritually dangerous wide path and the menu has only one entree … destruction.
Contributed by Bud Ahlheim