Does the Growth and Success of a Ministry Demonstrate God’s Approval?

There are many supposed Christian ministries that are growing exponentially. However, growth and apparent success does not demonstrate God’s approval. Indeed, there are many false belief systems that often experience growth and success when measured by certain standards. The reality is that we live in a broken and sinful world where many are seeking a message that makes them “feel” good. It is this feel good man centered message that attracts the masses. Unfortunately, many professing Christians are ill equipped in God’s Word that they are easily deceived by the many false messages that are being presented in churches today.

Accompanying these false messages are often claims of the miraculous that take place within the church meetings. These “miracles” are touted as proof positive that the message being presented is approved by God. However, if we were to follow the biblical mandate to “test all things; hold fast to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), we will quickly find that things do not add up. When miracles accompany a false gospel, then as faithful Christians, we cling to the truth of the gospel, and not to the supposed miraculous manifestation. However, when many Christians lack the interpretive biblical lens through which to evaluate such issues, they become more susceptible to error.

The Bible clearly teaches that the “content” of the message is more important then the manifestation of the miraculous. Consider the following passage: “If a prophet or dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them’, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer of dreams” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3). Notice, that the prophet makes prophetic utterances that come to pass, yet, the people of Israel were told to reject him on account of the faulty proposal of following other gods. Or again, the apostle Paul tells us: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). In other words, even if a supernatural being appeared to us in all its magnificence, we reject this being if the message it bears is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Lastly, Jesus himself declares: “On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:22-23).

So it is clear that the growth and success of a ministry does not demonstrate that God necessarily approves. We are to test the content of the message being conveyed against the truth of scripture. The more we allow scripture to be our guide, the more likely we will be able to avoid error.

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