For my last two “profile” posts, I wrote about Carl Lentz and Samuel Rodriguez. To conclude my time toward the three speakers of the upcoming 2017 Rise Conference, series, I write about the event’s third speaker, Jabin Chavez (Lentz and Rodriguez are the other two).
Chavez’s website gives some details about who he is. Unlike the first two speakers, Chavez is mainly a worship pastor (in addition to other pastoral positions). He also has his own ministry (titled Jabin Chavez Ministries) that is a “multi-cultural and multi-generational ministry that is helping lead people to Jesus around the world.” He will be planting City Light Church in Summerlin, Nevada in January 2018. He has spoken at many a church. This includes but is not limited to C3 (led by Phil Pringle, a man known to both preach heresy and read from the Herephrase known as The Message), Planetshakers (a church believed to be part of the New Apostolic Reformation cult), Lakewood Church (home of the most famous “health, wealth and prosperity” teacher, Joel Osteen, who is not really a pastor), Hillsong Churches (which, as mentioned, have problems of their own), and The House, home of the upcoming Rise Conference. Among some of his many positions that he has held on the local church team is that of “janitor.” I do not often find a pastor of some sort once having the title of “janitor”, so it would appear Chavez has a servant’s heart. That is a good thing to have. I also like the fact his ministry page places focus on “helping lead people to Jesus around the world.” This sounds good on the surface. After all, Jesus is the only way by which mankind may be saved (Acts 4:12; John 14:6).
While one may find Chavez’s preaching at various bad churches to be bad in itself, simply dismissing him because he preaches at those churches is very weak argument. Instead, it is best to find out how his teachings line up with God’s Word to see if what he is teaching is in agreement. If it is not in agreement, then dismissing him as one not to be followed as a rightful handler of God’s Word is warranted.
First, it must be noted that ChurchWatch Central (a good website that does good work on warning of false teaching) did an article showing how Chavez exalted Phil and Chris Pringle (Phil’s wife) over Jesus Christ by reading them into Matthew 13:10-17. Obviously, reading both a man known to preach heresy and a female pastor (which is unbiblical, per 1 Timothy 2:11-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35) into the place of Jesus Christ is a pretty gross eisegetical error. However, this article was from 2013. Has Chavez refrained from eisegesis in his preaching? An analysis of some recent sermons of his attempts to answer that question.
Here, Chavez speaks at the Generation Unleashed Conference, a conference aimed at those between the ages of 12-24 (information about the conference can be found here). In this sermon, Chavez reads from John 8:1-11 and 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. After reading both passages, Chavez and the audience go into prayer. The message gets off to a good start.
What follows, however, is rather empty. Chavez does not really exegete the passage. Instead, he mainly preaches a self-help message regarding lust and what it does (even though the word verbatim is not even in the passage). While he does not really narcigete the text like Lentz or Rodriguez do in their messages, Chavez does read into it stuff that is not there (which is known as eisegesis). For example, right after he tells a story to try and illustrate a point pertaining to John 8:1-11, he says the following:
We got this woman in John chapter 8, undoubtedly, is thinking to herself, ‘How did I get here? How did I fall this low? How did I end up before a church service caught in the act of adultery in front of dozens or maybe hundreds of people?’
Is this really what she was thinking? One need only read the text of John 8:1-11 to find out (here I use the New American Standard Bible):
“But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.
Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”
They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court.
Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
In the passage, do we see anything about what the woman was “undoubtedly” thinking? We do not see such a thing. Chavez has read into the text something that is not there. While this is not regarding an essential doctrine (i.e., salvation by grace through faith alone, the deity of Christ, etc.), this is an elementary mistake and an irresponsible way to handle Scripture. Instead of making stuff up as he does, he should simply let the text speak for itself. He does not do that in this message. Instead, he focuses on the concept of lust. However, one will not find that concept anywhere in the aforementioned passage. While it may be related to adultery in itself (and adultery is definitely a main subject in the text), Chavez goes in a different, eisegetical direction. This is irresponsible because pastors need to be “accurately handling the word of truth”, not reading their own ideas into it, thus teaching for shameful gain what they ought no to teach (2 Timothy 2:15; Titus 1:11).
In this sermon, Chavez reads from 1 Samuel 17:32-39 followed by a reading of Acts 13:22. Like the first analyzed message, Chavez and the crowd go into a prayer after that. Once again, we see a decent start.
However, what follows is more confusing and out of whack than the first message. First, Chavez hopscotches around 1 Samuel 17, reading verses before verse 32 and after 39, but one at a time. He never exegetes any verse he reads. Furthermore, he does not even read or spend significant time exegeting Acts 13:22. He essentially read that verse and then it vanished from the rest of the message. This message, by the way, is very centered on the person instead of the passage itself. He both behaves immaturely and spews a bunch of self-centered nonsense during this entire theologically vapid message. Despite this nonsense, he manages to derive the following five points from 1 Samuel 17:
- You need a God focus.
- You need a ridiculous reality.
- You need a miracle memory.
- You need a dedication to your future.
- You gotta have a radical faith.
Notice that the word “you” is in each point. When one reads 1 Samuel 17, the reader should immediately understand that this is a biblical narrative involving David, Goliath, Saul and various others. However, it has nothing to do with the person reading it. Furthermore, each point is manmade. Chavez, somehow, teaches strange, manmade doctrine from this biblical narrative. He should not be doing this (1 Timothy 1:3, 6:3-5; Romans 16:17; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6).
While there is something to be said about the strange way he conducts himself as he gives his message, Chavez reveals himself to be a dangerous teacher as he wraps up his fourth point at about the 39 minute mark. He recalls a situation in which a guy walked into his church and asked if Chavez’s church was “one of those prosperity churches.” Chavez’s response was that Chavez’s church was not a “poverty church.” The guy then asked if Chavez’s church was “one of those Joel Osteen churches.” Chavez replied that he loves Joel Osteen (who, as mentioned earlier, is not really a pastor; he is perhaps a tickler). Chavez presumed that the guy loved Osteen as well and stated as much to end his reply. The guy then stated that Chavez misunderstood him (Chavez mocks the guy’s response). In response to the misunderstanding, Chavez states the following:
Yeah we are [a prosperity church], because God’s in a good mood, and God loves you and God loves me and He wants to bless your life and He wants to bless my life. Poverty is a curse. Everywhere you find poverty, you find death. Poverty is not your portion…yes (we’re a prosperity church), we believe in abundance. We believe in blessing. And if you don’t want it, I’ll take yours.
First, I am not sure God will be in a good mood when He comes back to judge the earth, given the fact that He does not wish for any to perish (via eternal, conscious torment in hell) but for all to come to repentance (Romans 2:8-10; Revelation 9:2; 19-20; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:14-46 Mark 9:43; Isaiah 66:24; Luke 13:22-35; 16:19-31; 2 Peter 3:9). While God is merciful and loving, He is also just and holy and He must punish sin (1 John 4:8; Exodus 34:7). Chavez does not really talk about sin. Instead, he both paints God as someone always in a good mood and strongly affirms the concept of the “prosperity church“, which eternally, prospers nobody.
Second, Chavez makes various claims about poverty: he calls it a curse, he says you find death “everywhere you find poverty”, and he says poverty is “not your portion.” This is not entirely true. Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-9 speak of the poor widow who “out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.” Jesus Himself states that her contributions, out of her poverty, were more than that of the rich. Is death found in that situation? No. Is a curse found there? No. If “poverty is not your portion”, why is Jesus favoring the poor widow over the other contributors? It is because she, unlike the other contributors, put in all she had. It can be inferred that the contributors kept much for themselves. Based on Chavez’s “…if you don’t want it, I’ll take yours” comment in regards to abundance and blessing, it appears he would not be one who would put in all he has for Jesus’ sake.
Finally, I want to look at 2 Corinthians 8:1-9. Here, the apostle Paul is speaking to the church in Corinth about the churches at Macedonia. Here is what it says (NASB):
Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.
For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well.
But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
While poverty is certainly not the main idea of this passage, we do see that the Macedonian church was generous despite its deep poverty. Is there death or a curse in that? No. Furthermore, if poverty is “not your portion”, why did the Macedonian church give so generously despite its poverty?
Verse 9 (last 2 lines) shows that the church in Corinth, through Jesus’ poverty, might become rich. What was this poverty, you ask? Jesus, being the infinite God-man, came to the earth to die on the cross and rise from the dead to pay the penalty for our sins and purchase a place in heaven for us since we are sinners who cannot save ourselves (John 1:1, 14; Isaiah 53:6; 1 Timothy 1:15; Philippians 2:6-11; Romans 3;23; Matthew 5:48). He is the only way by which mankind may be saved (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Jesus essentially took on this “poverty” so we might have life in His name (John 20:30-31). Does that sound like a curse? No. Instead, it sounds like good news. After all, how can death be found in the only way by which mankind may be saved? Clearly, Scripture shows how Chavez’s statements are simply wrong.
Earlier, I had noted that Chavez had exalted Phil Pringle above Jesus Christ about 4 years ago. In doing so, he engaged in eisegesis. Has he changed his tune since then? Based on the reviewed sermons, it does not appear so. In fact, like the Pringle mishap, he continues to engage in gross error, preaching mainly self-help sermons composed of manmade doctrine and really outlandish observations/statements. He does not preach the Gospel, the Good News about how one can have the free gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9). As a result, he cannot possibly be “helping lead people to Jesus around the world” as his ministry page claims. He is certainly not preaching the Jesus of the Bible. Instead, he is preaching a different Jesus while also unashamedly affirming the false gospel that is the prosperity gospel. While he does not have as big a following as Carl Lentz or Sammy Rodriguez, his teachings are dangerous nonetheless. As a result, Bible-believing Christians would do well to mark and avoid what he teaches and pray that he repents of his strange doctrine (Romans 16:17-18).