Wish Oil Salesmen

Commentary by William Mikler on

Against the false gospel of the shyster-preachers

Independent Christianity has created more than its share of false prophets. Many of them are what I call “wish oil salesmen.”

What is a wish oil salesman? He’s someone who, in the name of a so-called gospel, pitches promises aimed at alleviating human disappointments.

The pitch goes something like this: “Your girlfriend left you? Give your heart to Jesus and he’ll bring her back or give you a better one.” Or, “Believe in Jesus and he’ll give you a shiny new car or bigger house.” Or, “Jesus wants you to be happy. Come to him and he’ll numb your pain.” These pitches, and others like them, are offers of wish oil.

Wish oil provides a high not unlike that experienced by someone who goes on an alcohol or drug binge. The high is real but temporary. When the anesthesia wears off, the pain comes back.

The temporary high provided by wish oil is sometimes mistaken for a salvation experience. It isn’t. It’s a psychological high with no staying power.

Wish oil effects wear off quickly, and the salesmen know it. That’s why, under the guise of “church services,” they run wish oil sales rallies on a regular basis. Given the frequent passing of the offering plate and the costs of goods sold on their book tables, the price for wish oil is pretty high. Aspirin would be cheaper.

Here is my response to the wish oil gospel of “Your Girlfriend Will Come Back and You’ll Get a New Car if You Believe in Jesus”: (1) No she won’t; (2) no you won’t; and (3) the whole pitch is a scam. I add: a wish oil salesman is a false prophet.

The false gospel of the wish oil salesmen fails on two counts. First, it fails to identify what is really wrong with the human condition and focuses instead on surface misery. But the problem with the human condition isn’t its surface misery. It is its inner corruption, which is caused by sin. Second, it offers topical (and temporary) relief for surface misery but fails to provide the permanent cure for the root sin problem.

True prophets, by means of the real gospel, succeed where the wish oil salesmen fail. They first offer an honest diagnosis of the human condition. Then they offer the cure.

The diagnosis is this: Outside of Christ the human condition is inherently sinful and wicked; it is marked by unbelief; it is under God’s penal condemnation; it experiences God’s wrath; and its end is eternal destruction.

The cure offered by the gospel addresses the fundamental human condition. It demands repentance from sin; it calls for faith in Jesus Christ; it offers full relief from penal condemnation (which is what justification is); it replaces God’s wrath with God’s forgiveness and blessing; and it gives new and unending life in Jesus.

The false gospel aims at making a sinner more comfortable in his sin. But the real gospel aims at diagnosing the sinner’s sin (to the point of extreme discomfort if necessary.) Then it offers the real cure.

The false gospel aims at making a sinner feel better. The real gospel aims at making him holy.

Beware the false prophet and his false gospel. Working in concert, they lead men to hell in time and eternity. †

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