Steven Furtick Visits Potential Church

I don’t think I have written about Steven Furtick on this blog, although I have been following him for years now. Steven is the pastor of Elevation church in North Carolina, and the author of the book “Sun Stand Still.” It all began for me a few years ago when I was attending Bible college in North Carolina. A few of the professors were impressed by the mixture of his apparent boldness, youth, and unorthodox appearance. I decided to check him out on the internet. My first impression of him was a poor one. I watched a video of him yelling about how those who beg their pastors to preach deeper theology are nothing but “fat Pharisees” who like to pull their bellies up to the table, but never want to serve anyone. Right away, I have a problem with this. The term pastor is a shepherding term. His job is to feed and take care of the sheep – that is, the group of Christians that he oversees. But it’s common among many of the upcoming wildcard “pastors” to place burdens on their congregants for not being self-feeders. If a foundation is laid that “going deeper” is something to be ashamed of, or something to be put on hold, then the pastor could literally teach anything and the sheep are defenseless. The congregants return week after week, clueless, happy, and with their itchy ears satisfactorily scratched. This brings us to the video.

He begins by speaking of what has become his central message – “Sun Stand Still faith”. “Sun Stand Still” is a book he had released some time ago, but a message he has been preaching for a while. The president of my Bible college had said years ago that the first thing Furtick said when he came out on stage was, “My God made the sun stand still!” And this had really made an impression on the president of the school at the time. That’s beside the point. He’s been talking about it for a while. He goes on to qualify what is meant by “Sun Stand Still” by saying, “Audacious faith… What happens when you dare to ask God for the impossible.” He came to this idea from the biblical account of Joshua from chapter 10. Let’s read it.

1 Now it came about when Adoni-zedek king of
Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured Ai, and had utterly destroyed it (just
as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king), and
that the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were within their
land,

2 that he feared greatly, because Gibeon was
a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai,
and all its men were mighty.

3 Therefore
Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent word to Hoham king of Hebron and to
Piram king of Jarmuth and to Japhia king of Lachish and to Debir king of Eglon,
saying,

4 “Come up to me and help me, and let us attack
Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the sons of Israel.”

So the five kings of the Amorites, the king of
Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish,
and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they with all their
armies, and camped by Gibeon and fought against it.

6 Then the men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua
to the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not abandon your servants; come up to us
quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites that live in
the hill country have assembled against us.”

7 So Joshua
went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him and all the valiant
warriors.

8 The LORD said to
Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of
them shall stand before you.”

9 So Joshua
came upon them suddenly by marching all night from Gilgal.

10 And the LORD
confounded them before Israel, and He slew them with a great slaughter at
Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them
as far as Azekah and Makkedah.

11 As they
fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon,
the LORD threw large stones from heaven on them as
far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the
hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword.

12 Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD
delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of
Israel,
“O sun, stand still at Gibeon,
And O moon in the
valley of Aijalon.”

13 So the sun stood still, and the moon
stopped,
Until the nation avenged themselves of their
enemies.
Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun
stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about
a whole day.

14 There was no day like that before it or after
it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man;
for the LORD fought for Israel.

15 Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to
the camp to Gilgal.

I don’t read a prescription here on how to pray. And I don’t read anywhere here that the reason the sun stood still was because Joshua had HUGE AUDACIOUS faith. In fact, verse 14 places the reason for the sun standing still on God. It was because He fought for Israel that He listened to Joshua. And why did God fight for them? Because they were sooooo obedient? No. So many times they weren’t, and yet God would still reach His hand out to them. Is it because they were the apple of His eye? No. It was because the Messiah was in the loins of the Israelites. God preserved them so at the right time and the right place, the Messiah would be born of a virgin, live a perfect life, die a gory death, be buried for 3 days, and rise from the dead for the justification of His elect people. I seem to remember Christ saying that, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” (Luke 17:6) Nothing there about huge audacious faith. Furtick’s book has all the requirements to burden those who read it, making them feel like they don’t meet a particular standard of God. In fact, after the release of this book, Steven had to publicly address one question in particular of someone he had known who felt like he may not have been a Christian at all since he didn’t meet the audacious standards. And so, Furtick has carved for us new laws on new tablets.

Don’t think so? The reason it doesn’t seem that way, is because his form of the law is lite and peppered with flattering language. Notice what he says next –

“Unfortunately, most Christians don’t live on that level. Most Christians carry with them a chronic ache of the ordinary. Does my life really matter? Could my marriage really truly be fulfilling? Could I possibly ever make a difference with my limited potential and my lack of experience? We’re going to take the message of Sun Stand Still faith and teach people how to pray audacious prayers so that they can be a part of a move of God in our generation.”

There you go. If you want to be part of a move of God in this generation, then you need to pray audaciously. In other words, if you want God to do “A,” then you must do “B.” Paul spoke to the Galatians about those who taught that you needed to do “B” in order for God to do “A.” Check it out –

1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was
publicly portrayed as crucified?

2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?

3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the
flesh?

4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed
it was in vain?

5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit
and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with
faith?

6 Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of
faith who are sons of Abraham.

8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE
NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”

9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.

Galatians 3:1-9

Verse 5 is pretty clear. God doesn’t work miracles or blessings because of anything we do. He does them because we believe. That’s it. It’s not because of our faithFULness – that is, how “robust” our faith is, or how many works we do once we have faith. Christ lived a perfectly obedient life on our behalf. You know what that means? It’s good news. It means that by faith, God views His people as being perfectly obedient 24/7. The righteousness of Christ is placed on those who believe. I can’t stress this enough. God doesn’t listen to you because you pray audaciously or cry when you pray or beat your chest when you pray or get on your knees when you pray or scream when you pray or whisper when you pray. He listens to those who simply BELIEVE the gospel. Plain and simple.

But for Furtick, it’s unfortunate that most Christians don’t “live on that level.” These Christians, unfortunately, suffer from the “ache of the ordinary.” Here’s an idea. Maybe it’s because they read their Bibles. He, like many other “pastors” in the church tell the sheep that they need to seek a vision from God and live that out. What are some ways the BIBLE describe the “Christian life”? Husbands loving their wives and wives loving their husbands. Taking care of your children. Children obeying their parents. Working in your job as you would for the Lord. Working quietly. Slaves are told to respect their masters and masters are told to respect their slaves. Loving your neighbor. Telling others about the gospel as you live your life. Confessing your sins to God, and not finding comfort in “trying harder” but believing in the gospel. Not as glamorous as Furtick would have you to believe.

It really sounds like an old fashioned sales pitch. “Do you want God to work miracles in your life? Are you tired of the mundane? With Steven Furtick’s book, you can learn how to ask God for the impossible, and take the steps necessary to live audaciously. It works and your life will improve, because we have seen teenage lives changed.” And the main force behind it all is guilt. Our consciences are enough to make us feel like we are constantly failing. And we are. Using that guilt – “You aren’t on the level you should” to share a message is great if you are spreading the gospel and the fact that we can’t fulfill the righteous demands of the law. But, using guilt against people, only to prescribe more law, will only keep people trying harder and harder and harder. And that can keep a person’s bookshelf pretty fat with self help, and their church’s offering plates heavy with paper.  

This Saturday and Sunday, Steven Furtick will be at Potential church (a place I’ve written about quite a bit here) sharing this message. Potential is only a few minutes away, and I plan to be in attendance taking notes. Lord willing, I will share them here.

If you want to know how Christ instructed His disciples to pray, then check out Matthew 6:9-13 –

9 “Pray, then, in this way:
         ‘Our Father who is in heaven,
         Hallowed be Your name.

10 ‘Your kingdom come.
         Your will be done,
         On earth as it is in heaven.

11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.

12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

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3 thoughts on “Steven Furtick Visits Potential Church”

  1. Great post, Christopher. I spent 18 years in a church led by an emergent pastor like this. The message was basically akin to more Jesus, less doctrine. Whenever I or someone else did gather the courage to ask for more doctrine, the answer was always the only doctrine you’ll ever receive is “go and do thou likewise.” They’re very sincere, but they’re sincerely wrong.

    I like how you point out that God’s answer to prayer isn’t based on something we do, but instead on what He has done. I don’t think I will ever get tired of hearing that.

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    1. Thank you for the encouraging words. Yah, I don’t get the division between Jesus and doctrine. I oftentimes wonder if the people who say that know Jesus in some weird tangible way. The only way I know Him is in His Word. I’m not so quick to accuse them of purposely misleading, although I wonder how someone could be so consistently wrong. I definitely understand how someone could be so sincere, but sincerely wrong.

      Galatians speaks of amazingly awesome news concerning Christ, and the favor of God not being counted to us because of our works. I likewise will never get tired of that!

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