III.D.6 Sowing and Reaping by a False Gospel

PART  III – Application to Pentecostal Theology

Subpart D – Positive Confession Movement

Article 6 – SOWING & REAPING BY A FALSE GOSPEL

By Daniel Irving

a.    The Gospel Principle of Sowing/Reaping Spiritual Things

b.   The Precious Spiritual Resource of Eternal Life; God’s Gift of Himself

c.  Eating of the Fruit We Ourselves Bring Forth

d.  The Source of Corrupted Sowing; Corrupted Teaching Under the Power of an Anointing

e.   Case in Point; The False Teaching of John Avanzini

Wheat Burning

Article 6

SOWING & REAPING BY A FALSE GOSPEL 

a.  The Gospel Principle of Sowing/Reaping Spiritual Things

The French mathematician Blaise Pascal was a devout Christian who recorded many keen observations about human behavior, often within a spiritual context.  One such observation of Pascal’s was a sad irony built into all human achievement.  His observed irony was that human achievement that is not selfishly motivated, rarely occurs:[1]  Pascal writes:Pascal

Adulation spoils everything from our earliest youth.  “Well spoken!  Well done!  How good he is!”  The children of the community who are not egged on by envy and glory become indifferent.

This is wisdom of the same vein as Solomon’s in his book of Ecclesiastes.  The human condition under law has a built-in moral dysfunction that dictates to the heart of man the terms of his success.  He may climb, and build, and succeed so long as he feeds the carnal passions and personal ambition that is within him.

With the preaching of the gospel came a new way inaugurated by the Last Adam, Whose success as a conqueror was based in principles counter to those of human achievement; such things as: the fear of God, meekness, willingness to be wronged, generosity, and all manner of mind flowing from the desire to please God in all things rather than those that advantage the natural man and feed the fleshly appetites so as to fall prey to a seducing spirit.  The way of the Last Adam, is the way of the Cross.

One can hardly imagine a world functioning under circumstances wherein Pascal’s observation is not the rule governing its motions.  But this is the way of the kingdom of God; a kingdom in which the Lord placed a standard of behavior so exacting that the least negativity towards another creature should constitute sacrilege.  The Lord said: 

 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, “Raca”, shall be in danger of the council:   but whosoever shall say, “Thou fool”, shall be in danger of hell fire.                                   Matt 5:22

Christ has inaugurated a new way which progresses those who walk therein, toward the Person and rule of God; a way in which the greatest among us falls beneath the rest in those things valued by men.  Therefore there is a new way of “sowing” which demonstrates a faith in God characterized by willingness to lay down earthly attainment and comfort for the sake of God’s eternal interests in men.  This is a sowing, the fruit of which will carry us through to that kingdom which is more grand than that striven after by those of the present age.

As related in the parables of Christ and in the teachings of Paul, a clear principle of sowing and reaping characterizes the drawing near of God in the work of His kingdom.  The prophecy of Isaiah refers to this aspect of the kingdom of God where we read:

Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings.  Woe unto the wicked!  It shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.                     Is. 3:10-11

This is a novel principle for those of the present age, ie. that one should “eat the fruit” of his/her own “doings.”   Here is intimation by the Spirit of prophecy of what is the true meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The incarnation of God in human form, His death for sinners; His resurrection unto eternal glory, has conferred upon mankind the means to “sow” unto the “eternal.”  The means of sowing is effectuated when we partake in spiritual things.

b.  The Precious Spiritual Resource of Eternal Life; God’s Gift of Himself

What are “spiritual things?”  Things spiritual are those things unto which God has given “life.”  While God gives spirit (in the general sense) to all creatures,[2] ultimately, God shall only give spirit (ie. “life”) to what is founded in Christ.  Therefore while any beast may satisfy its thirst from the spirit given it by God, only the Holy Spirit constitutes the eternal source of life; an everlasting river.  Everything else, God will dry up.Wall Looking Up

Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.                                                                                      Ps. 104:29

While we normally associate the recipients of spiritual life with those who walk according to the Truth, this is not always so.  For there are some who after receiving spiritual life will prostitute that precious substance that is the life of God. 

For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.    Gal. 6:8

Therefore the good fruit of sowing to the Spirit constitutes eternal life, while the bad fruit of sowing to the flesh constitutes Death; not death as the cessation of being, but Death as an affirmative condition relegated to God’s wrath.  Due to the work of Jesus Christ, even Death must forfeit its dead unto judgment:

  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.                                                                                     Rev 20:13

What brings us into this affirmative condition of Death?  The same thing which rendered our spirits dead in the first place; Sin.  This is supported by Paul’s statement: 

  For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law,  did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.                  Rom 7:5

Therefore this principle of “bringing forth fruit unto death” would seem to be a grievous concept indeed in terms of the anointed members of the body of Christ.  For while mankind is spiritually “dead” by virtue of sin, what can be said of those that continue in sin while having been given life in the spirit?  Because of sin, mankind brings forth fruit unto death, as Paul writes: 

What fruit had you then in those things whereof you are now ashamed?  For the end of those things is death.                   Rom 6:21

However, mankind is not so involved in sowing spiritual things as are those that have been baptized by one Spirit into the body of Christ.  For these have entered upon a “new thing” that was proclaimed with the gospel, ie. life in the Spirit whereby the anointed of God offer up spiritual sacrifices unto God unto a harvest of things eternal.  Jesus to His disciples:Grapefruit 02

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you,  that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.                                                                                      John 15:16

The Greek word translated “remain”[3] is normally translated either “remain” or “abide”.  “Fruit that remains” is the indicia of those truly ordained of Christ.  The Lord calls these “chosen.”  We are “chosen” through sanctification of the Spirit.  Therefore our sanctification is itself evidence of our remaining in the house of God as a “Son of God.”  Jesus said:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.  and the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.”                                                                                       John 8:34-35

The “fruit of righteousness” is even the evidence of sanctification.  If this fruit “remains,” we are indeed “chosen.”  If our righteousness is a passing phase, then we are revealed otherwise.[4]  As to the sowing after the righteousness evidencing we have entered into God’s kingdom, Paul exhorts:

& let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.                              Gal. 6:9

c.  Eating of the Fruit We Ourselves Bring Forth

What could it mean to “eat the fruit” of our own works?  The Lord tells Jeremiah:

I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins,  even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.                                                                                       Jer 17:10

Apparently, somehow we receive back into ourselves our own works.  We truly reap what we have sown.  And although the Gospel proclaims a glorious reaping of eternal life through the faith of Jesus Christ, there is also reaping that runs counter to that which will be confirmed in glory; the reaping that results from sowing unto the flesh.  Therefore Isaiah prophesies:

Woe unto the wicked!  It shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him.                          Is. 3:11

The Hebrew-word translated “woe”[5] is; oy’ meaning; “woe”.  This is an exclamation of distress.  This eleventh verse presents the converse side of sowing to the Spirit unto a harvest of eternal righteousness.

Spiritual Israel has more to fear by sowing to the flesh than any other entity one could imagine.   For who is more deserving of the wrath of God than those that were made partakers of the Divine hope, but constructively rejected the witness of Christ and obedience to His commandments.  Therefore it is God’s own people who receive the warning:

But I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings saith the LORD:  and I will kindle a fire in the forest thereof, and it shall devour all things round about it.   Jer 21:14

What are these “doings”, the “fruit” of which, the Lord shall punish?  Are they outward sins of the flesh?  Certainly they are that.  However, recall the earlier prophecy:Jeremiah - Rembrandt

I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins,  even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.                                                                                      Jer 17:10

“Sin” is not a matter of a bodily movement or the spoken word!  Rather, “sin” is something that is a matter of the heart.  Fundamentally speaking, we are condemned for the sin that resided in our heart precipitating the action or the word.  The actual doing or speaking consummates the inward sin of unbelief; the doings of our heart that only God can observe; Therefore the sound counsel to all of us that might be tempted to trust in our own righteousness is:

“Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter,  that the outside of them may be clean also.”             Matt. 23:26

For faith will allow us to remember that:

Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight:   but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.                                                                                      Heb 4:13

God is Lord of His creation, and He made the inside of the cup as well as the outside:

  Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?                                                                                      Luke 11:40

d.  The Source of Corrupted Sowing; Corrupted Teaching Under the Power of an Anointing 

One of the associational relationships within the lamp-stand model is the corollary existing between the Levitical Feast of Trumpets, and the Witness of the Spirit as provided us in John’s tabulation of the spiritual witnesses of God. (I John 5:8)  Relational DiagramThe former, relates to the empowered preaching/teaching of the Gospel, while its correlative represents the attending spiritual witness.  Where there is a “trumpet”, there will be a “spirit.”  That is to say, where there is a “gospel” there will be an “anointing.”  A gospel without an anointing has no power, good or bad, except as a distraction to occupy men in powerless and dead religion.  In this subsection, we are not speaking of dead religion, but something quite different.

The Charismatic movement commonly uses the term “anointed teaching” in reference to teaching  which is attended with a power to rouse the soul.  While the principle is valid, we too often assume that because a teaching has been given a form of life, that it therefore presumptively constitutes Truth.  Assuredly, teaching that is anointed, comes with special power for men, as well as special power over men.  This is because anointed teaching offers men the ability to sow into the eternal.  Anointed doctrine and teaching represents a delicious power for men, in terms of giving man the ability to sow spiritual things quite beyond themselves.  It represents a power over men in that it subjects men to a spiritual reaping they have no control over.  And this is just as true for the  Gospel of God as it is true for false doctrine, causing Paul to declare:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.                                                                                     Gal. 6:7

The Law governs the flesh.  If we sow to the flesh, we sow to that over which God’s curse abides.  If we sow towards that upon which resides the curse of God, we shall reap the corruption brought by the curse of God.  The curse of God upon Sin is part of the Word of God.

To the non-discerning, the power in anointed teaching constitutes the veracity of its truth, but to the spiritually discerning, the power in anointed teaching constitutes particular reason to tread carefully, and to test the spirits by the Word of God.  Bronze GildingWe find that too often it is false doctrine which rides upon the power of an anointing.  Oftentimes, the danger resident in an anointed teaching is subtle.  At other times an anointed teaching is so blatantly false that it would seem hard to imagine it capturing many listeners.  But we must not underestimate the power of a false witness.  The carnal man readily runs to what he senses as delicious when first awakened to spiritual things.  Consider, for instance, the ministry of John Avanzini.

e.  Case in Point; The False Teaching of John Avanzini

John Avanzini was (and may still be) one of the more blatant proponents of the false message known as the Prosperity Teaching.  Avanzini’s particular brand of Prosperity teaching bills itself as “the endtime message of Bible economics,” and is essentially the binding of oneself into a covenant that whatever money is given to God (received through the hand of Mr. Avanzini as somehow God’s representative) will be returned “one hundredfold.”  The doctrine constitutes a brazen Ponzi scheme wherein Avanzini prays over the $100.00 given him, for a “reaping” of $10,000.00 back to the giver.  Mr. Avanzini’s doctrine therefore constitutes a corruption of the Gospel principle expressed by Paul of “sowing and reaping” in spiritual things.

Prosperity teaching, as a handmaiden of Positive Confession theology, has historically lacked no signs and wonders in its promulgation.  The teaching carries a pronounced anointing that has deceived the hearts of many thousands.  While most proponents of the false teaching couch the doctrine within subtle misinterpretations of Scripture, Mr. Avanzini, by his own acknowledgement, cast aside the need for subtlety upon an experience wherein he claimed to have received an anointing to carry abroad his teaching.  He attributes the success of his particular brand of Prosperity teaching to an anointing he claims to have received while ministering in Nigeria.  Avanzini’s book, Miracle Money, relates how he traveled to Nigeria and was awestruck by the powerful anointing that accompanied the preaching of some evangelists there.  Avanzini writes:Avanzani - John 01

As I entered the side door, I was greatly impacted by an overwhelming presence.  It was as if supernatural heat was circulating throughout the room.  As I considered what this strange sensation might be, I realized it was the presence of the Holy Spirit.  He was everywhere.  Not long after I arrived, a second speaker came to the pulpit.  As he spoke, the Sprit once again filled the room.  With each word, the people’s faith grew stronger.  Suddenly I realized that in this atmosphere, nothing would be impossible.[6]

When Avanzini rose to speak, his own words fell to the ground powerless, causing a noticeable reaction of impatience from the audience.  He describes this experience as causing him no little distress, until he was informed that one could not effectively preach in Africa without an anointing.  Avanzini writes that he began to petition God for an anointing.  Then, one night in Aba, Nigeria, Avanzini had an experience he interpreted as a Divine visitation:

God visibly manifested Himself to me.  Out of a bright, concentrated light, He began to speak with an audible voice.  With clear, distinct words, He said, “John, I have heard your prayer, and I am going to give you the breakthrough ministry you have asked for.  I am making it a conditional anointing.  If you want it to remain, you must strictly obey me in the operation of it.” [7]

According to Avanzini, these explicit instructions were that: 1) the people must give the exact amount God puts in their heart to give; 2) they must believe their offering will be multiplied back to them; 3) they must “join their faith with” Mr. Avanzini’s; and 4) Avanzini must “lay his hands on the offering and speak that it be multiplied one hundredfold.”

Upon having this experience, Avanzini declared, “The powerful anointing of the hundredfold return was now upon me,”[8] and began to preach with powerful effect to Nigerian audiences.  He writes that the first night he took his new anointing to the pulpit, “each word of my message was filled with power.”[9]  After instructing the audience in the terms of this counterfeit gospel, he was astounded at the extent of the money that came in.  Suddenly, in the midst of the exuberance to transact on this money-covenant,  Avanzini heard a rebuke come from the lead minister, who shouted, “Stop the giving!”  Avanzini nonetheless closed his eyes and pronounced the terms of his anointing over the money, “Be multiplied one hundredfold in the name of Jesus.”  Yet the rebuke of the other minister had its effect, as Avanzini writes:Avanzani - John 02

As I walked away, the joy of the previous moment instantly left me.  The presence of the Holy Spirit simply vanished.  All I could feel was the presence of evil all around me. . . . my attention was now fully taken by the devil as he lashed out foul accusations at me.  He told me the evangelist would never invite me to go anywhere with him again.  He said I had tricked the people into giving more than they should.  He told me that because of the excessive amount the people had given, many would have to go without food, lodging, or transportation.  He repeatedly accused me of exploiting them.[10]

Interpreting the evangelist’s rebuke as an attack of Satan, Avanzini went back to his motel room to experience a sleepless night.  In the morning there was a knock on the door.  One of the Nigerians to whom he preached was sporting a brand new car unexpectedly given him by a rich uncle just hours after he had responded to Avanzini’s altar call for the multiplication of money.  Avanzini’s doctrine had been vindicated to his own mind.  He writes that “since that marvelous day” he has enjoyed an international ministry wherein his “powerful hundredfold anointing” has been proven:

Millions have witnessed it on national television.  Every time I speak this message, the result is the same.  God miraculously blesses with the hundredfold release. . . Everywhere the report is the same.  Praise the Lord, it worked for me![11]

In defining “faith” as a rising “into the open heaven of possibility thinking,”[12] this man has tragically merged occult principles originating from the nineteenth and early twentieth-century “New Thought” movement with the preaching of Jesus Christ.  Carried along by his “anointing,” this man has been emboldened to declare that “the opposition can no longer stop his message.”[13]

Tragically, there are many who do, in fact, enter upon supernatural manifestations which attend this false witness so as to come under a demonic bondage.  Within this bondage, true discernment is lost entirely.  Just as Avanzini misinterpreted a godly rebuke as an attack from Satan, and misinterpreted the spirit that empowered his corrupted message for the “Holy Spirit,” so those that have allowed themselves to be deceived by this deluding spirit, likewise lose their ability to discern between the things of God and the things the Devil.  They have believed a counterfeit of the Gospel that the name of Christ may be used for the sowing unto the flesh for the receipt of a fleshly reward.  They have believed the lie that God’s gift of spiritual things to humanity; things derived from the Person and work of Jesus Christ, may be traded upon for the things of this world.  They have affirmed their love for this world.  Those passions, lusts, coveteous desires, and worldly ambitions which Jesus Christ came to destroy as the works of the Devil, they have affirmed, when once it was put in their hand to agree with God they should be destroyed.

The re-advent of spiritual phenomenon that is occurring in our day must be met with spiritual discernment.  Spiritual discernment does not entail rejecting everything that involves the supernatural.  But it does entail rejecting everything that is not in accord with God’s word.  We live in a day we should expect teaching to ride upon a spiritual witness.  This is the correlative principle between Trumpets and Spirit; ie. that receiving a teaching brings one into a  spiritual vesting in that teaching.  This is part of the principle of anointing, which brings together the Levitical symbol of Trumpets (the message) with the witness of the Spirit (as its empowerment.)  We stand to be empowered within those teachings we receiveHeaven 01 If we have received the truth of the Life, the Death, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and its attending doctrines pertaining to the Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification of the Church, God has promised He shall empower us therein in the proper time.  Therefore we must watch and pray lest we receive something that has been cursed as incompatible with the true Gospel of God and the Divine life God would give.


[1] The Mind on Fire, an anthology of the writings of Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) © 1989 Multnomah Press, Portland, OR97266, at page 65.

[2] Psalm 104:10-15

[3] G3306  menō  men’-o  A primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy): – abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), X thine own.

[4] See Part VI, Subpart F, Article 4, Section (b) Faith’s Progression in Holiness which studies Peter’s   progressive steps of faith constituting our growth in sanctification unto the enduring fruit Christ said His elect would bring forth.

[5] H188  ‘ôy  o’-ee  Probably from H183 (in the sense of crying out after); lamentation; also interjectionally, Oh!: – alas, woe.

[6] Miracle Money by John Avanzini (c) 1997 by Triumphant Life Church, Inc. pgs. 7-8 .

[7] Ibid. pg. 13

[8] Ibid. pgs. 15-16

[9] Ibid. pg. 17

[10] Ibid. pg. 19-20

[11] Ibid. pg. 21

[12] Ibid. pg. 5

[13] Ibid. pg. 7

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About Lamp-Stand

I was converted to the faith of Jesus Christ in 1982 at which time I received water baptism and Spirit baptism. In the Spring of 2008 I was led of the Spirit through a process of repentance upon which I had an encounter with Christ that worked a profound change upon my inner being. I became aware that I had been forgiven a great debt of sin. I soon felt the Lord's direction that I close my office that my energies not be divided from the study of doctrine.
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