By Mark Swarbrick
Jimmy Swaggart claims to have been given a new revelation from God. He says that the church today has fallen away from the true gospel and that he has been appointed by God to restore it. He claims that the Apostle Paul’s understanding of basic Christian doctrine regarding the cross was limited. He further claims that at the time that Paul was writing the book of Romans that none of the apostles understood the cross. By extension, this statement would imply that the New Testament would be insufficient, since it was written by apostles that did not have the same enlightenment that Swaggart claims to have.
Following are some quotes of Swaggart to evidence that he has indeed made these claims. (Note: Swaggart makes use of strange capitalization, using caps on “cross” or any term he believes to be divine or sacred. He is quoted with capitalization as he uses it.)
In his book, Brother Swaggart, Here is My Question About the Cross, Swaggart says, “Considering that this message is new to the church…” This statement leaves no question that Swaggart is claiming that he has a NEW revelation from God.
In his The Evangelist magazine, January 2004, From Me to You section, Swaggart writes the following:
“This Ministry is of God. Accordingly, we have a mandate from the Lord. That mandate is World Evangelism and, as well, the proclamation of the True Gospel, the ‘Message of the Cross.’ In other words, the Church must be brought back to the Cross. The Lord has mandated this ministry to help carry this out. In fact, that’s at least one of the reasons that the Lord gave me this great Revelation of the Cross in 1997.”
“The tragedy is almost all Christians think they know all about the Cross. The truth is this generation of Christians knows almost nothing about the Cross, especially about the Cross as it regards their Sanctification. These Christians can be set free only by the ‘Cross’ being preached to them.”
“If one doesn’t preach the Cross, which means that one doesn’t believe the Cross, then one is not preaching and believing the Gospel; the Gospel is the Cross!” — The Evangelist November 2004, Article, But If Not.
Note that Swaggart equates his revelation of the “Message of the Cross” with the gospel. He says that his revelation IS the gospel. We see from the above quotes that Swaggart believes that the Church has fallen away from what he calls the “True Gospel,” and that he himself has been given this true gospel by divine revelation from God and that he has been sent as an apostle with the commission of evangelizing the Church to come around to his way of thinking.
Swaggart seems to feel that he owns a patent on the gospel, for he ardently attacks other ministries or Christian books, for example:
“First of all, any suggested way of victory other than the Cross of Christ, such as the Purpose Driven Life… all of this constitutes ‘heresies,’ in which the modern Church abounds.” — http://www.jsm.org/message-cross.html
What he is saying is that anyone that does not preach the Swaggart Message of the Cross is a heretic.
More Light Than Anyone
Now take note what Swaggart says about the Apostle Paul:
“He (Paul) failed to obey no matter how hard he tried…the Apostle Paul couldn’t live for God…Paul thought, now that he had accepted Christ, by that mere fact alone he could certainly obey the Lord in every respect; but he found he couldn’t…he failed…having just been Saved, and not understanding the Cross of Christ, he tried to live for God by keeping the Commandments through his own strength and power; in his defense, no one else at that time understood the Cross…sin in his life which he doesn’t want to do, and in fact hates, but finds himself unable to stop; unfortunately, due to the fact of not understanding the Cross…” — The Expositor’s Study Bible, Commentary on Romans Chapter 7
That quote is proof that Swaggart teaches that the Apostle Paul, lived a defeated sinful life and did not understand the gospel or the cross, at least when he wrote the book of Romans, which was written ten years after Paul began planting churches. Note also that he says, “no one else at that time understood the Cross.” Now remember that Swaggart says, “The Gospel is the Cross.” In other words, according to Swaggart, the Apostle Paul did not understand the gospel. Thus it follows logically that if Paul and the other apostles did not understand the gospel at this late date, then the New Testament is flawed, for its writers did not know what they were talking about as they wrote it. The conclusion can be drawn that Swaggart’s teaching undermines and attacks the integrity and sufficiency of Holy Scripture, the very foundation of Christianity.
Speaking of what he calls his “Great Revelation,” Swaggart says, “That which the Lord gave me, which I believe sheds more light on that which was originally given to Paul…” (The Evangelist, From Me to You, December 2004)
Here Swaggart confesses that he has “more light.” The question arises, more light than who? More than Paul? The next quote answers that question:
“But I honestly think, in His explaining this Revelation to me, that He gave me more light than the Church has previously known…” — http://www.francesandfriends.com/message-cross/
So there you have it. Yes, more light than Paul, but also more light than any of the apostles, more light than any theologian in church history, more light than what the Bible gives, more light than any other Christian has ever had, more light than the church has ever known.
The Cult of Swaggartism
So putting it all together, Jimmy Swaggart teaches that the Bible is deficient, the apostles were ignorant of the gospel, and the church today is in error, mired in heresy, but that he, Jimmy Swaggart, the end-time apostle, has been given a new revelation from God that will finally bring the Church into light and truth, liberating all Christians to finally live victoriously over sin. That is a prescription for a cult.
All cults have an extra-biblical source of authority. Mormons have their Book of Mormon and their prophets. Jehovah Witnesses have their publishing house, which they hold to be an inerrant prophet. Christian Science has Mary Baker Eddy and her Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures as their Bible.
As per orthodox historical Christianity, God does not give new doctrinal revelations. There are no legitimate new revelations from God. The Bible is the final word. (See article, How to Recognize a False Prophet on this site for more on that point.)
Here is the definition of revelation. “Something not before known that was previously secret; to make known, to reveal a secret; a dramatic disclosure of something not previously known or realized.” Any revelation then is something new, something not in the Bible. So if a person claims to have a revelation from God, then by definition, he is claiming to have something not already revealed in scripture. Swaggart claims his revelation is new, as we have already seen. Consequently, Swaggart is claiming an extra-biblical revelation, which by its very nature then is heretical. Strike one.
Furthermore, Swaggart’s Bible has Swaggart’s words in the context of scripture with his words in red and the Swaggart’s quote from his commentary as though it were scripture. Many feel this has cultic overtones.
Secondly, Swaggart denigrates the Word of God, another thing that all cults do. Mormons say the Bible has been corrupted. Jehovah’s Witnesses wrote their own perverted translation, claiming all others are inaccurate. Swaggart, by impugning the apostles, has impugned the Holy Bible, just like other cults. Strike two.
Thirdly, Swaggart has attacked the church, calling it evil, of the devil, and in heresy, the same as all cults do. (See article on this site, The Swaggart Bible, for an in-depth analysis of Swaggart’s hate for the Church.) While verbally attacking the Church for whom Christ died, Swaggart holds his own organization up as salvation for the world. He says that his revelation is the gospel, that the Church has lost the gospel; thus his gospel, by his own admission, is “another gospel” from that which the Church teaches. This also is a mark of cultism, as all the cults do this as well. Strike three. Swaggartism is a cult.
Swaggart says his new revelation of the “Message of the Cross” is the Gospel and that the writers of scripture did not understand the Gospel completely. He says the Church does not have the Gospel. He says that the Apostle Paul did not understand the gospel. Let’s see what Paul says. The Apostle Paul has strong words for anyone bringing another Gospel:
For if one comes and preaches…a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the most eminent apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things. (2 Corinthians 11:4-6)
Paul says he is not inferior, that he has knowledge. Swaggart comes with a different gospel and says his knowledge is superior. Who will you believe? The Apostle Paul or Jimmy Swaggart?
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:6-9)
The fact is, Swaggart comes skilled in speech whereby he deceives many, but his wisdom is not from God. The Apostle Paul comes without skilled speech, but he comes with knowledge from God. Who shall we follow? A slick talker, or one commissioned and sent by the Lord Jesus Christ?
The Church is Lost
We have already mentioned this but it bears pointing out that Swaggart’s Message of the Cross included as a main tenet that the church is lost in error. To wit –
“The great sin of the modern church is its ignorance of the Cross.” The Expositor’s Study Bible, Commentary on Leviticus 5:17.
So to accept Swaggart’s new revelation, you have to swallow the idea that the Church is in apostasy. As we go forward bear this in mind: Integral to Swaggart’s message of the cross is the idea that the Church is in error. Not just the church now, but apparently even the New Testament Church was in error, since the apostles as they wrote scripture had knowledge that was inferior to Swaggart’s revelation.
The Cross Alone is to be the Object of our Faith
Swaggart says, “The Cross must ever be the object of our Faith…” — http://www.jsm.org/message-cross.html. And again, “It is the Cross alone which can bring about this Work of the Spirit. The Believer is to ever make the Cross the object of his Faith…” The Evangelist February 2004, On the Dark Side of the Desert. This is the heart of Swaggart’s message, that the cross must be the central focus of all of our faith.
The problem with that teaching is that such a doctrine is found nowhere in the Bible. There is not one scripture in the entire Bible that says to make the cross alone the object of our faith. Swaggart does not even claim the Bible says that. He claims he got this as a new revelation direct from God. Not only is the Swaggart teaching not in the Bible, there is teaching in the Bible that directly contradicts what Swaggart says.
Swaggart says the cross is the foundation, the cross is the beginning and the end, nothing before, nothing after and that we are to put our faith in the cross alone. But what does the Bible say? The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the foundation, that Jesus Christ is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End and that Jesus Christ is to be the primary object of our faith:
“And no one can ever lay any other real foundation than that one we already have—Jesus Christ.” (1 Co 3:11)
And again here – “you have everything when you have Christ” (Col 2:10)
“He is the stone which…became the chief corner stone.” (Acts 4:11)
The Bible teaches repeatedly that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone and foundation of our faith, not his actions, not what He did on the cross, but Him! He is the cornerstone. The Bible teaches repeatedly that we are to have faith in Christ:
“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:26)
As a point of fact, the phrase “faith in Christ” appears seven times in the Bible, “Faith in Jesus,” four times, “faith in His Name,” one time, “name of Jesus” twelve times. And how many times does the Bible say, “faith in the cross?” None. Not one single time. Swaggart’s teaching is not Biblical.
Jesus Christ is Everything
All Christian faith naturally arises from the core, the foundation, that is, from our Lord Jesus Christ. Let me explain. Christians should have confidence or faith in the Bible. What is the most fundamental reason we can have faith in scripture? Because Jesus Christ showed faith in scripture. He relied upon it when disputing with the devil. He used it continually when arguing with the Pharisees. Because Jesus trusted the scripture, and because we trust Jesus, we feel confident to follow his example and do the same. So you see, when we have faith in Christ we are given faith in the Bible.
But what if you do not have faith in Jesus. It would be harder to trust in the Bible. But when you have faith in Jesus, then you get faith in the Bible. But the faith in the Bible without Jesus, is empty. Will the Bible save you? No. Hear the words of Jesus:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)
So you see that even though faith in the Bible is important and proper, it does not trump faith in Christ, for without Christ, faith in the Bible is empty and powerless. Always put faith in Christ first and foremost, then you will never get the cart before the horse. As it is written,
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception…rather than according to Christ. For in Him you have been made complete, and he is the Head…” (Colossians 2:8-10)
Faith is another example. Faith is very important. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him,” it says in Hebrews 11:6. Yet some faith teachers have made faith more important than submission to Christ, putting all their emphasis on what you can get through exercising faith. They elevate faith above Christ and end up with followers that love money and things more than Christ. Jesus must come first, even before faith, or one’s religious experience becomes unbalanced.
It is the same way with the cross. Will faith in the cross alone save you? No, not at all. I believed in the cross all my life from the time I was little. I had been taught that Jesus shed his blood on the cross to save us. I believed that. But that did not save me. Not until I surrendered my life to Christ did it apply to me. Then I had Christ and the cross, but I had to have Christ first in order to really have the cross.
Believe whatever you like about the cross, trust in it and believe that Jesus died there to save the world, but it will do you no good if you have not Christ. But if you put your faith in Christ and have a living relationship with Him and He is Lord of your life, then what Jesus did on the cross applies to you. His blood washes away your sins. You are imputed the righteousness of Christ. You have right standing with God as though you never sinned. It bears repeating: “You have everything when you have Christ.” (Col 2:10 LB)
A Cultic Pattern
All cults find some way to detract from Jesus. Mormons say Jesus is one god of many gods. JW’s say Jesus is the archangel Michael. Anything to deemphasize Jesus. That is what cults do. Satan’s works are not limited to cults. There are liberal mainline denominational churches that deemphasize Jesus. Perhaps not in doctrine. Their doctrine maintains that Jesus is the Son of God and God the Son, the third person of the Trinity. They confess Him with their words, give him a rightful place in their statement of faith, but their hearts are far from Him.
Some of these liberal denominations do not encourage personal decisions for Christ. Some even ridicule the idea of being born again, of personally committing yourself to Jesus Christ and asking Him into your heart. They teach salvation comes through their church and by being baptized in their water. By their practice and emphasis, they detract from Jesus. This is the deception of Satan: To take away from a focus on Jesus as Lord.
Swaggartism has their own special way of detracting from Jesus. By emphasizing the cross and making it the center and focus of faith, they subtly take the focus off of Jesus. Whether this is intentional or incidental, the result is the same. They teach that growth in grace depends upon the mental gymnastics of thinking and meditating upon the cross continually. They are told this over and over. Repetition and group-think impresses the message over and over: “The Cross must be the object of your faith! Anything else is of the devil! The Cross will set you free! The Cross will take you to higher levels! The Cross will give you victory over all sin! The Cross! The Cross! The Cross is the answer! The prophet says it is true so it must be!”
The end result is brainwashing and a close relationship with Jesus is not emphasized. Instead of faith in a real person, the Lord Jesus Christ, the focus is placed unnaturally upon a dead dry doctrine that will not give life. A fully converted Swaggarite will say, “The cross has made all the difference! The cross has set me free! When I came to the cross I was saved!” That is all wrong. It is Jesus who saves and sets men free.
By “the cross,” Swaggarites mean the act of what Jesus did on the cross. They mean Jesus’ actions of submitting to death on the cross and his shedding of his blood for our sins. They believe in putting their primary faith in that action and that is what Swaggart’s “Great Revelation from God” is all about. The problem with this is that it is faith in a non-entity. What Jesus did was His action, but it was not Him. An action is not a person. An action is not someone that can answer your prayers or change you or save you. An action is only a thing.
Jesus who did the action because of his love for us should be the focus of our faith. Jesus is a person who can relate to you, hear your prayers, change your life, and speak to your heart and save you. Our faith should be in Him, not in His action. Once your faith is primarily in Him, then you can trust his word; that his shed blood saves us. Only then, when Christ is first, does the cross have meaning and power.
Here is an illustration: Suppose a man says, “My dog Spot ran quickly and chased away the bear and saved my life.” Who is the subject of that sentence? My dog Spot is the subject. When that man needs help again who should he trust? Next time that a bear comes into his camp should he sit down and think over and over, “my faith is in ran quickly. I trust in ran quickly, ran quickly, ran quickly.”? Of course not. How silly.
No, his trust, the object of his faith, is not in his dog’s action. His faith is in his dog Spot. Spot who did the running quickly saved him. It is wonderful the dog ran quickly. But even more wonderful is Spot who loved his master and saved him. The man can trust in Spot to protect him. Spot is the object of his faith. He will not brag to his friends, saying, “thinking ‘ran quickly’ keeps me safe in bear country.” No, he will say, “I trust my good dog Spot to keep me safe in bear country.” Where is the object of his faith? It is placed in Spot.
Now let’s take that to Jesus. Consider this sentence: Suppose a man says: My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died on the cross and shed his blood and saved me from my sins. Who is the subject of the sentence? The Lord Jesus Christ. Who saved the man? The Lord Jesus Christ. Who should he trust in the future? The Lord Jesus Christ. Who should he praise and brag about? The Lord Jesus Christ. Who is the object of his faith? The Lord Jesus Christ!
It is wonderful that Jesus knew what to do to save us and he loved us enough to shed his blood for us. But it is the Lord Jesus Christ who takes preeminence over the act. It is He who did the act and it is He that is the proper object of our faith.
Think about when we take communion and what the Bible says about communion. If ever there was a place for the Bible to say to make the cross the object of your faith it would be there. But alas for Swaggart, it is not to be found there or anywhere. When we take communion we remember Christ’s sacrifice for us. What did Jesus say to think about during communion? What he did not say was, remember the cross. No, but he did say this: “As often as you do this, do this in remembrance of Me.”
A clever trick used by Jimmy Swaggart Ministries is the art of double-speak. Language that is evasive, deceptive, misleading, or self-contradictory is known as “doublespeak.” The Swaggarts are infamous for saying one thing one day and later teaching the opposite. On their television show they have said that if you don’t speak in tongues you are not saved. The next week they reversed themselves and said they don’t teach that. Jimmy Swaggart teaches that he has a revelation greater than the Apostle Paul’s. His wife, on her television show, denies it and says that her husband has never taught that.
When a Swaggarite is confronted with the doctrinal errors of Jimmy Swaggart, there is a plethora of excuses and loopholes: “Swaggart did not say that,” or “I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says but he is still a great man of God,” or “That is taken out of context,” or, “You just don’t want to forgive him,” and then the ultimate dodge: “Touch not God’s anointed! God will kill you for coming against his prophet!”
The Cross According to Scripture
The Bible’s real teaching on the cross is a beautiful and magnificent thing that centers on Jesus and the love of the Father for us in sending his only unique son to die and shed his blood for us, and that precious sinless blood washes away our sins. The cross exemplifies Jesus’ self-denial and sacrifice of Himself because He loves us.
In Hebrews we are told that “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22) Under the Old Covenant the Jews were commanded to make animal sacrifice for sins, which was a foreshadow of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. It is Christ’s shed blood that seals the New Covenant between God and man and wins for us reconciliation with God the Father, allowing us to enter into a personal relationship with God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
God’s plan of salvation does not end at the cross as Swaggart contends. We are not only saved by his death but also by his life, as seen in the scriptures below:
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10)
“Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” (Romans 8:34)
“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…” (Romans 10:9)
Jesus is even now interceding for us. We enter into a saving relationship with Christ by believing in the resurrection. The Bible is clear that Jesus’ resurrection and life is fundamental to our own spiritual life. Indeed, Jesus did not say he WAS (past tense) the door, he says, “I AM the door.” In other words, he is NOW (present tense) the door.
“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved…” (John 10:9)
So you see Christ’s salvation for us did not end at the cross when he said, “It is finished.” His suffering for us, to shed is blood for us, that was finished then, but his work of salvation for us is a continuing one. This biblical perspective of Christ’s ongoing work is a precept that is ignored and denied by Swaggart’s Message of the Cross.
One of the important things Christ did after the cross, perhaps THE most important thing, was to send the Holy Spirit to us. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit is what empowers us to live for God and walk in closeness to Him.
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7)
Consider now how unbiblical are Jimmy Swaggart’s statements that “It is the Cross alone which can bring about this Work of the Spirit.” or “There is nothing before the cross and nothing after because there doesn’t need to be.” We can see that his emphasis on the cross, an emphasis he dwells on continually and repeatedly, is contrary to the teaching of Holy Scripture which indeed does tell us there is much after the cross that has sacred and eternal importance for the believer.
Sanctification: How it Really Works
Swaggart’s teaching of the cross is specifically this: All Christians will fall into continued sin and live defeated lives unless they follow his new revelation, which is to put their faith exclusively in the cross alone. If they do that, then they will be sanctified and God will give them power to overcome sin. Simply trust in the cross and dwell on that and magically overcoming power will be yours.
That this teaching is false is evidenced by the great number of people throughout history who have lived victorious lives for Christ without Swaggart’s teaching. Further evidence is the number of Swaggart followers who still manifest an abundance of sin. Jimmy’s son, Pastor Donnie Swaggart is a prime example. While ministering at the Swaggart Family Worship Center, he divorced his wife, married a 5-time divorcée in the church, then divorced her and remarried his first wife. Why did not Swaggart’s cross doctrine prevent this sinful behavior? That is not an isolated case, as those who have worked at Swaggart’s headquarters point out. Family problems, affairs and divorce abound at his church.
Sanctification is the religious word used to describe how Christians are set apart unto God and grow spiritually such that sin has less of a hold, and increasingly a believer becomes more Christ-like. Scripture teaches that there is a definitive sanctification at the time of conversion and also progressive sanctification after conversion. In other words, when Christ comes into our life, the old sinful nature is dealt a death-blow, but still lingers, while our new nature in Christ grows throughout our life.
However this process, which is a work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, requires our cooperation. Those things which will help us to “grow in grace” are outlined in scripture. Prayer, fasting, church attendance, Christian friendship, these are all “means of grace” in that they are actions we take that will help us to cooperate with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The Word of God is another thing God uses to sanctify us. Jesus said, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3) David said, “I have hid Thy word in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.”
Another thing that God uses to sanctify us is suffering. Pain and trouble in our lives are used by God to purify us. To wit, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin.”
This is just a sampling of Biblical teaching on how we “work out our own salvation.” (Philippians 2:12). Jimmy Swaggart’s “Message of the Cross,” dismisses all of this and simply says that all that is necessary to live an overcoming sinless life is to think about the cross and trust the cross. This is unbiblical and over-simplistic.
Swaggart’s teaching causes a Christian to overlook sound teaching based upon Scripture which encourages us to use the means of grace presented by God’s Word and thereby grow close to God.
Consider this passage:
“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence…” (2 Peter 1:5)
Note the phrase, “applying all diligence.” This indicates one is to use one’s own willpower to behave with moral excellence. Willpower is an important factor in our sanctification. To deny this fact flies in the face of the innumerable passages of scripture which adjure us to use our willpower.
Swaggart’s teaching implies that the use of willpower is somehow trying to be good under our own power; that such an effort will fail and that we must rely totally on God’s power by thinking about the cross. That is wrong and dangerous teaching. Such teaching will lead to lackadaisical effort resulting in sinful behavior. The Bible never says don’t try.
The Bible does tell us to use our willpower! Yes, we first must surrender our life to Christ, be born again and expect the help of the Holy Spirit, but after that we must use all the willpower we have. In fact, the Holy Spirit will empower our own willpower to greater heights as we use it.
Hear Jesus’ words in Luke 8:21,
“My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
You can feel the urgency in Jesus words, telling us to use our willpower, our determination to decide and to follow through with obedience. This is the kind of teaching that sanctifies and this is the biblical teaching of our Lord.
But a Christian who follows Swaggart’s prescription may stop trying, become lazy in well-doing, and may delude himself into thinking he is sin free simply because he performs mental imagery about the cross, when in fact he has become weak and vulnerable to Satan’s ploys. Indeed, this is what has been observed and reported.
In Matthew 16:24 we read Jesus’ words,
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
The meaning is clear. All Bible scholars have interpreted this to mean literally what it says, that Christians must be prepared to deny themselves their own will at times and seek God’s will, just as Jesus prayed in the garden, “Not my will, but thine be done.” Just as Jesus denied his own will and went obediently to the cross, we will at times also have to deny our own will and obey God.
Swaggart twists all this. In his Expositor’s study Bible he has this commentary on that passage:
Swaggart’s teaching here is erroneous and dangerous. Jesus was not saying to deny our talent. He was saying to deny our will and the phrase, “taking up his cross” specifically means that denying our own will may involve suffering.
Swaggart says it is “not suffering as many suppose.” Swaggart is wrong and he has twisted the plain meaning of the words or our Savior. It is suffering that our Lord alludes to.
He further compounds his error by saying that you cannot follow Jesus at all unless you also succumb to his flawed message of the cross. Thats what Swaggart says. Hear are his words again, “Jesus cannot be followed unless it’s by way of the Cross.” In other words, It’s Swaggarts way or no way.
Jesus’ teaching of self-denial and taking up our cross is essential to sanctification and Swaggart has attempted to negate this powerful teaching. A whole-hearted Swaggart follower is susceptible to becoming a weak, emaciated and confused Christian.
Swaggart’s message, if believed, short-circuits the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s heart, for thinking they have already arrived by simply thinking about the cross, they ignore the exhortation of scriptures which urge us toward sanctification, such as:
“Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful…” 2Peter 1:5-8
Swaggart’s short-sighted “Message of the Cross” is the antitheses of what the Bible urges.
Motivation for his Other Gospel
Why has Jimmy Swaggart concocted this other gospel? The key to that answer is found in the writings of Swaggart himself. Swaggart’s website has a page where Jimmy explains his message of the cross. It is found here at the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries (JSM) website: http://www.jsm.org/message-cross.html
His essay on the cross does not begin with scripture but begins with his own sin and pain. The opening sentence begins, “Public humiliation, especially on a worldwide basis is trauma that many people never get over. When one has failed…”
He is talking about his own humiliation and failure. In 1988 Jimmy Swaggart was caught with a prostitute. He confessed to going to prostitutes for over twenty years and being addicted to pornography. One can only imagine the fear and consternation of everyone at JSM headquarters at that time. JSM was a business enterprise bringing in millions and this put the enterprise at risk of total failure.
In an effort to save his ministry, Jimmy went on television and “repented” in a tearful dramatic scene of contrition intended to foster the sympathy and forgiveness of the Christian community and thus save his television empire from collapse. The Assemblies of God mercifully granted that he could maintain his ministerial ordination with them if he would stop ministering for one year and receive counseling from A/G ministers. Swaggart arrogantly rejected this, claiming that he hears directly from God and that the Assemblies officials were “too dumb and too stupid” and that the whole denomination was a cult.
He of course lost his ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God. Three years later in 1991 Jimmy Swaggart was pulled over by police and caught again. He had a prostitute in his car who said that Swaggart was negotiating with her for sex acts. Swaggart told his congregation, “God told me that it is flat none of your business.” In 1995 Swaggart was caught again when he was pulled over by police in a red-light district. Pornographic magazines were under his seat.
Jimmy had already tried the repentance show, but after all this failure he had to come up with some way to cover his shame. Thus was born his “New Revelation from God.” Swaggart says he received his revelation in 1997 after six years of praying for it night and day with tears. Let’s analyze that. He prayed from 1991 to 1997, day and night. But he was caught for the second time with a prostitute in 1991 and he was caught a third time in 1995 chasing prostitutes. It begs the question: How do you pray night and day when you are chasing prostitutes? One cannot seriously seek God when living in willful deliberate sin. Swaggart’s story does not hold water.
Swaggart makes this revealing statement in his essay about his new revelation: “I came to find out in all of this, that most of the modern church has little idea how to live for God.” How interesting. After wallowing in sin for decades, Swaggart decides that most everyone else is floundering in sin as well. It appears that Jimmy Swaggart’s tortured conscience cannot take the strain of wanting to be a great Christian leader while at the same time living in willful continued sin. The answer he arrives at is that it is not his fault, since everyone else is in the same boat.
But that was all before his revelation. Now that God has visited him he now claims to be living a holy life and has lost his appetite for prostitutes. He has not been caught with a prostitute recently, however being 79 years old and his wife keeping him on a short leash likely has much to do with it. He now teaches that you can’t stop sinning without his special revelation – a lie conjured up by his own ego to excuse his own lack of genuine repentance and moral fortitude.
By his own admission, for 35 years while Swaggart preached, he was addicted to pornography and was visiting prostitutes. According to the Bible he was not even saved, for the Bible says that unrepentant people continuing in fornication have no part in the kingdom of God. As it is written, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger…hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” (Eph 5:5) Such a man was Evangelist Swaggart for nearly four decades. Swaggart’s own words: “I chased prostitutes in every city I held revivals.” Such a man as this comes along and says basically something to the effect as, “It’s not my fault, the church didn’t have the true message of the cross, the Apostle Paul didn’t have it, but now God spoke to me and now all that sin is none of my fault.” Does that sound like a revelation from God or deception from a human heart?
Jimmy Swaggart purports to be an end-time apostle with a new extra-biblical revelation from God. He claims more light than all the apostles and more understanding that any man or woman in all of Church history. He attacks the Church, saying it has lost the true Gospel but that he has been commissioned by God to restore the true Gospel to the Church, saying that his revelation called “The Message of The Cross” is the true Gospel.
His message detracts from our Lord Jesus Christ, urging faith in the cross instead of faith in Christ. His teaching emphasizes only the past act of Christ on the cross, and ignores and minimizes the importance of Christ’s resurrection, intercession and His sending the Holy Spirit to us. Swaggart’s teaching on sanctification is a short-sighted inaccuracy that is ignorant of the many scriptural prescriptions for holiness. His teaching leaves Christians immature and brainwashed.
Swaggart’s perverted message is not the result of Bible study, but by his own admission flows out of his failure to exercise self-control and his choice to indulge in sins of the flesh. His message is nothing more than a last ditch effort to promote his own brand of religion and maintain his self-image as a great man of God while simultaneously excusing his past immoralities.
Jimmy Swaggart’s “Message of the Cross” lacks Biblical foundation and is a doctrine literally birthed in sin. It attacks both the Church and the Bible. It consists of many unorthodox attributes that, if believed, may take a Christian further from Christ, further from true holiness and into the confusion of cultic belief. For these reasons the new revelation of Jimmy Swaggart should be rejected as a cultic unbiblical heresy.