Stop twisting “All things are possible with God”!
Well-meaning evangelicals, when making grandiose plans for themselves or for their churches, will quote Jesus, saying, “With God, all things are possible.” This is common among televangelists. For instance, when prosperity gospeller Creflo “Creepy” Dollar asked his followers to donate $65 million for his private jet, he said, “If I want to believe God for a $65 million plane, you cannot stop me… You can’t stop me from dreaming. I’m goin’ to dream until Jesus comes.”
A church dreams big, from a few thousands to one million members in 2-3 decades, in an attempt to copy Yoido Full Gospel Church, the biggest church in the world, whose pastor is the Pentecostal heretic Paul David Yonggi Cho. Oral Roberts had a vision of God asking him to raise $8 million in two months in 1987, or he dies. Pat Robertson dreamed that “God had called me to win” the 1988 presidential election.
Dreaming the impossible dream: the stuff of heretics and cults. And then they twist Jesus’ teaching, saying, “Nothing is impossible with God.” From where does this idea come? Let us look at the passages from the New Testament.
- Matthew 17:20 (Mark 9:23): He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Jesus said this to his disciples after they were not able to cast a demon out of a child. Moving mountains is common figurative language in the ancient world for doing what seems impossible, for instance, “and every mountain and hill be made low” (Isa 40:4).
- Matthew 19:26 (Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27): But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Jesus told his disciples that it is “only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.” Then his disciples were concerned, asking him, “Who then can be saved?” To which he responded with the saying in verse 26.
- Mark 14:36: And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” This is a part of Jesus’ agonizing prayer to his Father at the Garden of Gethsemane.
- Luke 1:37: “For nothing will be impossible with God.” This is the angel’s response to the virgin Mary’s wonderment about how she will conceive and have a Son without a husband.
One other passage that is commonly twisted by big church growth advocates is Mark 4:31-32, “[The kingdom of God] is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches…” However, Jesus is here saying that the kingdom of God will have small beginnings (12 apostles, 120 disciples) and grow gradually but remarkably through centuries of preaching of the gospel to all the nations.
In none of these passages will we find anything, even a Biblical principle, for shameful fundraising scams or tremendous church growth. Churches and pastors twist these passages to gain more members so they will have bigger budgets and salaries. They should tremble with fear at Paul’s warning,
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Tim 6:6-10).