This interpreted as a general revelation statement for all people who are Christian (and even non Christian?). That we have power to speak things into existence, that some from other spiritual persuasions have discovered this.
Some have taken this statement to the extreme and made it an affirmation.
“We covenant as gatekeepers that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Therefore, we will speak edification, exhortation and comfort to our city” (p.133 Tenny, God’s Dream team).
Paul Yonggi (David) Cho: “By the spoken word we create our universe of circumstances….” (Solving Life’s Problems, p. 51)
The idea that words have power and we just need to speak them is not Christianity but another spiritual practice found in Religious Science.
There are many in the word faith movement that live by this motto. Kenneth Copeland one of the main promoters, “By getting the Word deep into your spirit and speaking it boldly out your mouth, you release spiritual power to change things in the natural circumstances” (The Power of the Tongue, 15).
“You have the same creative faith and ability on the inside of you that God used when he created the heavens and the earth” (Copeland, Inner Image of the Covenant, side 2.)
Joyce Meyer states, “The Lord recently showed me that we can bless or curse the financial seed we sow. We can speak positively about our financial future, or we can say things like, ‘I can’t afford it’ . .. ‘Every time I turn around something happens to take my money’. . . . We should water our giving with the water of His word and expect an abundant harvest. Sow your seed and speak prosperity scriptures over your finances” (Joyce Meyer, “Your Mouth is a Weapon,” Life in the Word March 1997, p. 4.)
Then why ask for money if this is how it actually works? To think one can control or create what we want in life by the power of our words is hardly relative to real faith and how the Bible teaches us to live.
Let’s look at how this Scripture (and others) are taken out of its context to mean something that was never intended.
The Faith teachers quote the end of Romans 4:17 pulling it out of its context. “who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.” What is attributed to God is also attributed to them Rom 4:17 is quoted “who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;”
Rev. 4:11 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” Notice, by his will- something they always try to avoid in their prays and faith declarations of the word.
“Romans 4:17 says God gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things as if they already existed. He created the world with faith-filled words (see Genesis 1). We are created in His image, and we can also call things that are not as though they are. We can speak positive thoughts about ourselves into the atmosphere and thereby ‘prophesy our future” (Joyce Meyer, “Your Mouth is a Weapon,”(Life in the Word March 1997, p. 4)
Rom 4:17-18 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed– God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”
This is referring to God having this ability to call things into existence and Abraham believing what He (God) told him.
The concept that by speaking positive or negative words causes something to take place in the spiritual realm comes from the occult not from the Bible.
Benny Hinn teaches, “say we speak say it again.. say it again. say it again .say it again – now hear this, now hear this, your words in the spirit create reality” (Benny Hinn, TBN, 29th June 1992).
In Magic: an Occult Primer, “Unseparable from magical speculation about words is the theory of vibrations, which supposes that certain sounds have a powerful acoustic impact on both the spiritual and astral worlds. Like the spiritual world and astral plane can in some circumstances be affected by sound, so that verbal magic may be said to derive its power not only from the idea contained in certain words, but from the peculiar vibrations these words create when spoken” (Magic: an Occult Primer, pp. 74-75).
It was Adolf Hitler nationalism that used the concept – if you tell a lie long enough and with enough persuasion, the people will believe it’s the truth. This is what has happened to a large portion of the church, accepting faith teachers concepts of speaking the word to make things change in reality. The Holy Spirit told Benny Hinn “… if witches and occultists can speak death by the supernatural power of words, then Christian can speak life and prosperity by the same power” (B. Hinn, Dec.1, 1990, Orlando Christian Centre, WACX-TV Channel 55. Quoted from The Facts on the Faith Movement, J. Ankerberg & J. Weldon, Harvest House, 1993, p.23.)
What about when Jesus cursed the fig tree? He spoke but he tells us to pray, showing that we do not have the power. The power is in God’s hands, not mans.Mt.21 :19-21
Mark 11:24 “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Jesus expects those who pray correctly to ask for things of his will and not of their own wants. The qualification; we ask in prayer, not demand or command. John says in 1 Jn.5:14-15 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
First, notice our confidence is in him, not our faith; next it depends on His will, not our will. It is all directed toward God, Genuine faith trusts in God not in our faith.
Life and death are in Christ.
Jesus demonstrated He had authority was over life and death. (Matthew 9:18,23-25). On three occasions where He raised someone from the dead. Jairus’ daughter who had just died (Matthew 9:18-26), the widow of Nain’s son who was in the coffin (Luke 7:11-15), and Lazarus (John 11:39-44).
This phrase is often used to prove human speech mixed with faith literally contains power to create things. It should be obvious, this verse is a reference to God and is reserved for him alone who was able to speak the universe into existence. Attributing the passage to human capability diminishes the being of God and God’s power. To suggest that believers are capable of performing the same acts of creation is attributing God’s abilities to his creatures. Which exalts us to godhood, which has no biblical precedent. We find no apostle practicing what faith teachers teach as standard biblical doctrine. All things find their source in God. He alone holds incomprehensible power that cannot be apprehended by man. Nothing came into existence without him, He is the source of all and upholds all Col. 1:16-17 “for by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” In other words He holds it all together, How? “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3).
But there are those who teach that what we profess we will possess. Their explanations are like Metaphysical practitioners. Consider Creflo Dollar: “your sitting in a building that was manifested as a results of our laying hold of the profession of our faith”
“By confession Jesus and the angels were obligated to bring the confession to pass, its what I’ve been doing over the last 18 years, it works.”
“He’s the apostle and the high priest of, listen, listen to what he is the apostle of listen to the reason why he has been anointed.. he has been sent for our”… he says the amplified bible reads that Jesus is, “the apostle and high priest of our confession.”
There is, after all, only one God, who alone is capable of calling into existence what is not existent (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 24). “Calling into existence” is the literary terminology chosen by the Scripture writers to express what we creatures can never personally accomplish – namely, the creation of something from nothing, or from a substance already there by our speaking. “God’s voice” in Scripture represents His ability and authority to create from nothing, from speaking.
This is in reference to Genesis where God spoke and the physical universe came into being
1.Gen 1:3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
2.Gen 1:6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”
3.Gen 1:9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.
4.Gen 1:11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so.
5.Gen 1:14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;
6.Gen 1:20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.”
7.Gen 1:24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so.
8.Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
8 times God spoke and things were created. Ask yourself – Can anyone who claims to have this same ability do any of this?
Lam 3:37-38 “Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed? “
Ps.12:2-3 “Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men. They speak idly everyone with his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak. May the LORD cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaks proud things,”4 Who have said, “With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?” “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now I will arise,” says the LORD; “I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.”
Joyce Meyer teaches “Proverbs 18:21 teaches us that the power of life and death are in the tongue. That means we can speak life to dead circumstances, but it is a choice and decision not made with feelings as its basis. We can also speak death to sick circumstances. In other words, we can have something negative (sick) happen, and we can cause very serious problems by speaking negatively about it. It may go from sick to dead, especially if we repeatedly talk hopeless, negative, and downcast. (Joyce Meyer, “Your Mouth is a Weapon,” Life in the Word March 1997)
Are Life and death are in mans words? Are Death and life are in the power of the tongue? The faith teachers interpret this in a metaphysical manner instead of using a biblical interpretation. Proverbs 18:21 was related to Solomon being the author who penned it. The verse can be attributed to Solomon being their king and having the power to pronounce death or life (condemnation or pardon) over his subjects as their king, as a command he could have one live or die. Another way to look at the passage is to consider how our spoken words affect another person’s feelings, emotions (12:18, 25; 16:24), self-image (29:5), and convictions (10:21; 11:9). What we speak can affect people but to say we can literally have someone die from our words or bring one back to life is not the meaning. There can be no denying that what people say affects outlooks and perceptions, which in turn may alter their attitude or circumstances. But nowhere does the Bible teach that humans can speak things into existence. We need to look at a better explanation for this than to rely on those who claim this power and interpret it the same for us. If this were true, no faith teacher would be sick or die if life is in there tongue. Think about it, they wouldn’t need to ask you to give them money, they could speak it. They could speak people into salvation, not just healing.
Jesus said in Matt 15:18-20 our words show our thoughts. The heart is considered the seat of our emotions. The heart is considered the center not only of our spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. “Heart” and “soul” are often interchangeable. Ezek.28:2 sin begins in the heart v.17 (Prov.12.23 ,15:28 Jer.23:25-26)
Jer. 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked” Jesus further explains in Matt. 15:18-20: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man.” What comes out of the heart can defile man, and make him really polluted or offensive in the sight of God.
Matt 12:34-36: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”
It’s not our words that have power to change circumstances and create. Jesus is pointing to our heart as the origin of these words. So if one covets or wants power to decide what lives or dies or what he wants to take place in his life what does this tell you about the person? They want the control instead of God.
This is why in Heb. 4:12-13: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Our heart needs to be changed from being sinful to one of the new nature. One that is submissive to the Lord our God.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue – but this is not the whole Scripture. Let’s look at the whole portion of the Scripture before death and life are in the power of the tongue it says Prov. 18:20-21: “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth, from the produce of his lips he shall be filled.” Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Do we believe that a man will literally always have a filled stomach by his speaking? Jesus said out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. But he never said that what we say will come true. Words can wound or bring health to our emotions, soul, but they can’t change our reality. It does not mean whatever is spoken changes another person or the world around you. What is clearly meant by “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” is that if one is always slandering, using falsehood, will reap what he sowed. In the same manner one who speaks well, that encourages people and tells the truth will be known for this.
Consider other proverbs which are metaphorical and speak in the same manner. Prov. 12:17-19: “He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit. There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health. The truthful lip shall be established forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”
There are words that cut that are like the piercing of a sword. The tongue can be uses as a poison or medicine. Just as James says, but there is no evidence to believe a word spoken will come to pass because of any supernatural power of faith contained in them.
The Bible has many examples of words being spoken bring health or discomfort.
Prov. 16:24: “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”
Prov. 4:10-13: “Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life.”
Those who follow obediently will often have a full life in years and quality. But this is not a general promise to all. How do we know this? Look at the examples of the apostles, they all died in middle age except one. Look at the prophets and their lives; it was not comfortable they had trials to forge their faith (Heb.11). Could they have spoken the trials away?
Prov. 8:35-36: “For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the LORD; But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.”
This is speaking of a quality of life that cannot be lived without the Lord. To despise His instruction is to love death more than life, God gives to those who surrender to His lordship blessings, but he does not give the power to create things as He has.
Prov. 9:10-11: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.” (Prov.14:27 and 19:23) Prov.11:19 “As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death.”
Prov.13:12-14: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life. He who despises the word will be destroyed, but he who fears the commandment will be rewarded .The law of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.”
It is not the word we speak that affects them but the concept of acceptance and living by it. Many people overcome what was spoken ill to them, it can still be spoken and not accepted by them. Its what you believe that affects how you live.
If a Child is trained up in only correction and never affirmed that they are doing good they will be affected, when older they will be conscious of thinking everything they do maybe wrong.
Our best example is Jesus. Jesus used some harsh words and rebuked those who followed him. The reason was to have them believe the truth and abandon a false belief, if they did not respond it was just as well that they left.
He didn’t always speak soft or sweet words, something people would prefer to hear.
Faith and God’s will are the missing ingredients.
If you have to strive in faith to receive a promise, you have to give money and jump through certain hoops then it is not a faith based on a promise from God. A promise is fulfilled by the promiser not by the recipient. In the word faith theology it is dependent on man to manage and release this belief called faith to have what he wants (which is always beneficial). The bibles definition of faith is to trust in God. We leave it up to him no matter what it looks like. As Job said (whom they disdain) Yet he slays me I will trust him. Look at Abraham, he did not strive to receive his promise. He listened to his wife who was being impatient and they got a son, but he was not the promise, he tried to fulfill it by the work of his own hands ( like the force of faith). He got what he wanted — the wrong way. Sometimes God will allow this to test our faithfulness to what He said. The genuine son of the promise came in God’s timing. He may do the same with us and bring us to the end of ourselves to accomplish it.
Look at Noah who was the only righteous man left on earth in the time of corruption. God told him that his family would be saved and that he needed to build a boat, but it was God who brought the flood, no amount of faith would have changed the duration, nor the intensity.
The Apostle Paul said in 1 Cor.4:11-12: “To this hour we have gone both hungry and thirsty, we habitually wear but one undergarment and shiver in the cold, we are roughly knocked about and wander around homeless. And we still toil unto weariness for our living, working hard with our own hands…”What kind of confession is this? Well it’s inspired by the Holy Spirit, so we should take notice that Paul did not confess abundance. God tested their faith by not providing what they often had to strengthen them.
Healing on demand
Faith admits its problem, no one who was blind that came to Jesus said I can see until he touched or willed them to be healed. They did not confess healing and claim their healing. They did not recite scripture to him and say you promised this in your word. They did not cite by your stripes we are healed. They asked for Jesus to heal them not ordering it nor confessing or demanding it as a promise. No one ever claimed this in front of Jesus. As a matter of fact no one ever claimed anything like the faith teachers promote today as Bible doctrine, look at the examples of the apostles, how they practiced their Christianity and what they wrote to the Church. Look at the Church and how they practiced their Christianity and obeyed the apostle’s writings.
Gal. 4:13-14 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you.” Illness by the one that faith teachers claim gave them the teaching of speaking words.
People say well I’m going to believe for my healing because Jesus said in the Bible “I am willing”. When we look at the numerous times Jesus spoke the words let it be according to your faith, it is not what they say it means.
Matt 8:2-3 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
The individual was asking for a specific act from Jesus when he was physically present with him. Its not the same thing today, He is not standing physically in front of you wanting you to recognize him as the Messiah to follow him. This was specifically done to have the rulers investigate him as the Messiah fro no one was healed of leprosy for centuries.
We should not take a unique event and make it a general promise. This is like saying Peter walked on water therefore we can all walk on water. Nonsense.
God told Israel to be obedient that it was he who afflicted the Egyptians with the sicknesses. Contrary to what we hear today that it’s the devil that does bad and God only does good. Sometimes good comes from confronting the evil as it did in this case, it freed Israel despite those that say God does not make anyone have suffering or kill anyone ( he did to the Egyptians). So the word of faith teachers are calling the God of the Bible the devil because he actually does these things. God said after he rescued Israel that he would chasten them if necessary.
Exod.15:26: “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.” Clearly this is not used as a ticket for supernatural healing but a condition if they obey they (Israel) will not become sick.
Deut. 7:15 “And the LORD will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you.”
But He also says Deut. 28:60-61 “Moreover He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. “Also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, will the LORD bring upon you until you are destroyed.” Can ones own confession prevent this?
Deut. 28:59-61 “then the LORD will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues– great and prolonged plagues– and serious and prolonged sicknesses. “Moreover He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. “Also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, will the LORD bring upon you until you are destroyed.”
Deut.30:19-20 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live “that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days” (also Deut.32:45-47)
This was a specific promise to Israel not a general one for all of us today. It was under a covenant of law and depended on their obedience as a nation. By choosing God and following him they had abundance and a longer life in the land. This was part of the covenant made to the nation of Israel. It was a choice made by how they lived not by what they spoke. And no speaking would alter God’s will to judge if He decided to.
Solomon writes in Eccl. 7:15: “I have seen everything in my days of vanity: there is a just man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness.”
In contrast to Word-Faith theology, sound biblical theology teaches that God is not duty-bound to do anything. Someone has said: “healing is not a divine obligation, it is a divine gift.” The receiver of the gift can make no demands. God can be trusted to do all things well. It flows from his mercy and grace, it is not a promise to all now.
The root error of the gospel of health and wealth is that it applies a promise of future for the believer as today’s present promise to all. Christians cannot claim now what God in His grace has promised only for the future. There is a timing involved in receiving certain of the promises said. We wait until that day when all share in the resurrection and are healed permanently in the body.
In the 60’s the gurus came to America and preached against materialism. They could see how we lived. The Church was more content back then. In our day we have a complete reversal with the preaching of how to get it all, what we are owed by God because we are his children. This manipulates people into a works based relationship with God, it is making people covet instead of resting in God and being content. The faith teachers are preaching a sterile faith based on the human conditions, not on the God the Father who is the giver of every good and perfect gift.
The faith of God
“He used faith to create everything that he created.” Faith is the stuff that we use to get the stuff that we need. That’s what faith is.” Faith is the word of God, the same stuff that’s in God he put it in his word ….”
“Now, God used faith substance to make everything that He made…in every one of those words they were filled with faith substance, because words are nothing but containers…. every time God speaks, He can’t help but to speak words that are filled with faith…God’s guts are called faith stuff…. if you were to cut God open, you’d see nothing but faith. Every time He opens His mouth now, He automatically fills those words with His faith material.” (Changing Your World, Sept. 20, 1998)
Another distortion is that we have the same faith as God. Where does it say God has faith? Who does he trust?
Some have taught to have the God kind of faith…
Mark 11:22: “have faith (in) God” echete (NT:2192) pistin (NT:4102) Theou (NT:2316). Objective genitive Theou (NT:2316) as in Gal. 2:26; Rom. 3:22,26. That was the lesson for the disciples from the curse on the fig tree so promptly fulfilled (Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament).
It means to have strong faith, or the strongest faith, in God. Since this is the only place in the New Testament that this was said, we need to look at what Jesus taught on this. Everywhere he taught the people to trust and believe in God not in their faith.
If there is any question behind what was said in Mk.11:22 it would be interpreted by the clear statements such as Jesus own prayer of thy will be done, not MY will be done. Have you seen anyone move a mountain yet by speaking? How about a boulder? The meaning is not a free ticket to whatever we want. Our prayer must line up with what he wants and is doing. For example if I pray for everyone in the world to become a Christian this year, will it happen? There is only God’s purpose and if we are not lined up with that when we pray we will ask amiss as James says Jm.4:2-3, 3:13-16, 4:13-16. We receive what we pray for as we have faith (trust) in God and His will. Pride will always rise up and assert itself saying what God has not.
You can always find enough “proof texts” to justify your what you want, why would you want to if your treasure is in heaven? (Matt. 6.19-21)
If we want wisdom consider Proverbs 13:17-18: “A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful ambassador brings health. Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored.”