There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call--Ephesians 4: 4 (ESV)
Joel Osteen told his followers that the Lord gave him a word for 2016 and that word is "accelerate." Direct revelation from the Lord, hallelujah! It is so comforting that we can enter this year now focused on some random word instead of THE Word. Wait a minute, over at Elevation Church, Steven Furtick says God gave him a word for 2016 too and it was not accelerate! It was "crossover!" I guess that is good news for basketball fans but why would the Lord be so purposefully confusing? Wait a second, Lana Vawser says the word is "slipstream" and Keith Craft says it is "excel?" What is going on here? Beloved, what is going on is the hottest trend in seeker-friendly, purpose driven churches. It is called "prophelying." That is where someone claims to be hearing something from God but they are actually lying. It is purposeful false prophecy.
Make no mistake about it. All of these people are claiming to have heard directly from God that their magic word is what God wants us to hear for the upcoming year. I suppose if they just presented the word as some kind of collective focal point it would be less troubling but the real problem is in lying about what God has and has not said. Before the wolf-defenders spring into action and try and claim that the words were for their individual congregations I would suggest reading the key verse. Beloved, the end result of the purpose driven-ization of the church is that there is no longer one church. The key verse serves as a reminder however that there is only one Spirit. There are not "bodies" of Christ but THE body of Christ. So when 10 different pastors give ten different words from God for the same purpose, you can rest assured that all ten are prophelying. God is the same in Texas as He is in California. There would be no need for multiple words for the body of Christ. In truth there is no need for any word heading into 2016 except THE Word.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. - 2Timothy 3: 16-17 (ESV)
Teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness. So that we might become complete and ready for every good work. Why in the world would any responsible pastor give his sheep anything less? Excel? Crossover? Accelerate? What are these beloved? They are carnal power words. They are designed to appeal to the flesh. They take the focus, which should be on Jesus, and shift it back to you. You are going to excel in 2016! Our church is going to "elevate" in 2016! Who wouldn't want to accelerate in 2016! This is the first problem with this manipulative parlor trick. It takes the focus off of Jesus Christ and places it back on us. Since the majority of preaching these days is narcissistic anyway I guess it makes sense. Beloved, you may want to sit down for this but we are not in the Valley of Elah, facing Goliath. We are not experiencing our Ziklag or Jericho moment. We are not stuck in our Egypt. The Bible is not about us. It is about Him. God did not give us His Holy Word so that we could lift clever life applications from them to try and make this temporal existence more important than our eternal destination. The entire Bible is a story about Jesus Christ, not us.
The second problem with this scheme however is it raises false expectations. There are 55,000 weekly attendees at Joel Osteen's church. Does anyone seriously believe that all of them are going to accelerate in 2016? Are all of Keith Craft's mega-church attendees going to excel in 2016? Is anyone going to die? Is anyone going to fail? Is anyone going to sin? This of course comes from the failed theology of the seeker-friendlies. That God wants everyone healthy and wealthy and no one ever is going to go through any testing whatsoever. So of course, everyone is going excel, exceed, and surpass. Except that is not what Jesus said:
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." - John 16: 33 (ESV)
Does Jesus say that in this world you will cross over? Does He promise acceleration, saturation, or elevation? No! He promises tribulation in this world! Why? Because we are supposed to be separate from this world! The problem is the Seeker Friendly Industrial Complex spends all of their efforts to be relevant to the world and promotes prosperity and blessings in the very world we are supposed to be pilgrims and sojourners in. So the sheep are given this great power word for 2016 and what happens when they do not excel? What happens to their faith when they see no acceleration or elevation? They lose that faith because it was never in Jesus Christ to begin with. It was in these carnal notions fed into their souls by those who engage in prophelying instead of saying what the Lord has already said in His Word.
The last and biggest problem with this however is that God did not actually say these things! That should be of our primary concern! God is not telling us that 2016 is the year of anything other than one year closer to His return! You want a word for 2016? How about repent? Why not call on the church to repent and focus on repentance the whole year instead of this carnal smorgasbord of power words? How about the word "Berean?" Have the church concentrate the whole year on digging into the Bible to test everything as we are commanded to do? Here is a good word for us all in 2016 - discernment. It is time the body of Christ, in which there is only one Spirit, focuses on discerning what is truly from God and what is not and discarding what is false. It is time we realize that the reason why so many false teachers think nothing of having different words for their individual congregations is they are dealing in different spirits.
While we are discerning, it is time we recognize that prophelying is not restricted to this new game of New Years power words. It is one of the most common tools in the false preacher's arsenal. Direct revelation. That God audibly gives them words to then pass on to you. Joseph Prince claims nearly every time he preaches that God has given him the word directly even though the majority of his preaching twists the Bible into a pretzel. But he is far from alone beloved. When we hear, "the Lord told me"; we ought to respond that the Lord has already told us to test every spirit. That He has told us that those of more noble character do as Bereans would do. You do not need a false word from a false preacher. You do not need prophelying beloved. We have His Word. We have His Spirit. We have Jesus.
There's a good word to focus on for 2016. Jesus.