An Exposé on Bill Johnson & Bethel Church
An Expose on Bill Johnson and Bethel Church
Yes, Bill Johnson is having quite a bit of influence in the modern church world, just through his teachings and associations, and then also many are being impacted by Jesus Culture and the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry which originated at his church. And, just to say, there is a mountain of information concerning this topic so we will share as much as we can and then we hope the listeners will do some research on their own.
Just to begin with some basic information: Bill Johnson, and his wife Beni, are the Senior Pastors of Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Johnson is a fifth generation pastor on his father’s side and a fourth generation pastor on his mother’s side. Bill and Beni began as singles pastors under his father at Bethel. In 1979, they became senior pastors of Mountain Chapel in Weaverville, California.
Johnson attended a John Wimber signs and wonders conference in 1987 with the specific goal of seeking a revival of healing. He left discouraged because he had been teaching the same concepts John Wimber had been teaching, but the outcome was drastically different. Johnson states that this discouragement brought about a realization that faith required risk, and after this realization, the healing miracles began to happen. (When Heaven Invades Earth, pg. 88) (Now, this idea of Johnson seeking a “revival of healing” is a huge red flag. Pastors of churches are to preach the Word and disciple the members. Mark 16:18 does say believers shall lay hands upon the sick and they shall recover, but God’s Word in describing the function of a church never gives an indication that a church should seek a “revival of healing.” Since his ministry focuses on healing so much we thought it would be good to give an in-depth explanation at this point, so could you please discuss the information you have gathered on this topic at this time, sister Tammy?
Yes, certainly. I’m just going to start off with something I’ve read from the website of Bill Johnson’s ministry. I’ll obviously leave a link to it, but I’m just going to read direct from there.
Is it always God’s will to heal someone?
How can God choose not to heal someone when He already purchased their healing? Was His blood enough for all sin, or just certain sins? Were the stripes He bore only for certain illnesses, or certain seasons of time? When He bore stripes in His body He made a payment for our miracle. He already decided to heal. You can’t decide not to buy something after you’ve already bought it.
There are no deficiencies on His end – neither the covenant is deficient, nor His compassion or promises. All lack is on our end of the equation. The only time someone wasn’t healed in the Bible (gospels) is when the disciples prayed for them. For example, Mark 9 when they prayed for the tormented child. They did not have breakthrough. But then, Jesus came and brought healing and deliverance to the child.
Jesus Christ is perfect theology – He is the will of God. We can’t lower the standard of scripture to our level of experience . . . or in most cases, inexperience. It’s a very uncomfortable realization – not everyone can handle it. Most create doctrine that you can’t find in the person of Jesus. He is the will of God.
How do we fix the problem?
1. Realize it’s not God’s fault.
2. Learn from others who see miracles. Have them pray for you. If you don’t know people who see miracles, find them. Books will help, if the author has a miracle lifestyle. (Don’t try to learn from those who only have the theory of miracles.)
3. Do what Jesus told His disciples to do when He addressed the problem – pray and fast (not just for a specific problem, but for a lifestyle anointing.)
4. Take risk – pray for people (NOT – “if it be thy will” kind of prayer. In the thousands of people I’ve seen healed, I’ve never seen anyone healed from that kind of prayer.)
5. It’s hard to hurt someone’s faith by praying for a miracle. Not praying for a miracle gives them no chance for increased faith. That is what hurts faith. The real goal is to show people God’s love. And faith grows in the display of God’s love. His love is seen when we show compassion and display God’s power.
6. When God heals people, give Him thanks and praise. Learn from it so it will happen again.
7. If someone isn’t healed, realize the problem isn’t God, and seek Him for direction as well as personal breakthrough (greater anointing for consistency in healing). Also, don’t take it personal. There are other factors involved besides great faith. That is only one element in the equation. Just learn to do your best to be faithful to His gospel, and honor Him for the results. It’s also not wise to blame the person who is sick.
8. There’s a difference between a miracle and healing. Miracles happen in an instant and healing happens over time. It is important to recognize the progress of what God is doing in a person’s body and give thanks, because healing increases in an atmosphere of thankfulness.
Taken from – BILL JOHNSON MINISTRIES - http://bjm.org/qa/is-it-always-gods-will-to-heal-someone/
The Bible shows us otherwise - Paul says to Timothy, “Use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Timothy 5:23). Why didn’t Paul just lay hands on Timothy and heal him? It wasn’t because Timothy didn’t have enough faith; it was because it was not God’s will to heal Timothy that way.
Jesus healed only one in a huge multitude (John 5). – Pool of Bethesda
Paul “left Trophimus sick in Miletus” (2 Timothy 4:20), and Paul himself had a physical ailment that the Lord declined to heal (2 Corinthians 12:7–9).
God’s Will to Heal
Jesus showed us that it is often God’s will to heal the sick.
Think of the man with the withered hand, and how Jesus restored his hand to full use (Matthew 12:9-14).
Or of the paralyzed man who, after meeting Jesus, walked away carrying his mattress (Mark 2:1-12).
Or of the man blind from birth, who obeyed Jesus’ command, washed in a pool, and came back seeing (John 9:1-7).
But that was then. What about today?
Jesus healed the sick because of his compassion (Matthew 14:14), and because he wanted to show that he was the Son of God (John 20:30-31).
But healing did not stop with Jesus.
The New Testament shows that God wants his people to pray for the sick, and that he will often bring supernatural healing as a result (1 Corinthians 12:9; James 5:13-16).
But does that mean it is always God’s will to heal someone now, in this life?
Always God’s Will?
I believe the answer is No.
I believe there are times when God, in great love and compassion, allows an illness to remain in order to bring the sick person even more joy in God than he would have had otherwise.
That’s what happened with Paul and his thorn in the flesh. Three times Paul prayed earnestly that God would remove the thorn.
And God answered Paul; but not with the answer we might expect.
God told Paul that He would not remove the thorn; that He would allow it to remain because Paul would experience more of God’s grace with the thorn than without it (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
But Many Say Yes
But today many people say it is always God’s will to heal now, in this life.
They teach that if we just believe enough, God will always heal.
But I do not see that taught in Scripture.
And I believe that this teaching is harmful, because it says God promises something which He does not promise.
As a result, when people are not healed, this teaching causes some to think God does not keep his promises, and causes others to think the reason they are not healed is because of their weak faith.
So what leads people to think it IS always God’s will to heal?
On Earth as It Is in Heaven
One reason they say this is because Jesus calls us to pray “Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
They point out that there is no sickness in heaven. They say that since we should pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, that means we should pray that sickness will be healed here on earth, right now, and that this is always God’s will.
But is that true? I don’t think so. Here’s why.
No Death in Heaven
The problem is that those who teach this assume that anything God wills to have happen in heaven, is also what God wills to have happen on earth.
Now there is some truth to this. Since Jesus calls us to pray this way, at least some of what God wills to happen in heaven he also wills to happen on earth.
But is that true that everything God wills to happen in heaven he wills to happen on earth? No. One obvious example is death.
God’s will is that there be no death in heaven. But is that true for earth? No.
The Bible teaches that all of us will die (Hebrews 9:27; 1 Corinthians 15:22), and that death is an enemy of God that won’t be conquered until the change occurs (1 Corinthians 15:26).
So it is not right to teach that everything God wills to happen in heaven, he also wills to happen on earth.
So is sickness similar to death? Is it something God says will be gone in heaven, but which we must deal with on earth?
I believe the answer is yes.
One reason is because Paul says that “our outer self is wasting away” (2 Corinthians 4:14).
This means that we all have bodies which are declining, which includes sickness.
Another reason is because Paul says we groan as we wait for the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23).
Why do we groan? The answer is because our bodies, along with all of creation, are in “bondage to corruption” because of the Fall (Romans 8:20-21).
That corruption includes everything that leads to death, including sickness.
And salvation does not remove us from this, because Paul says that “we ourselves” — saved believers — groan.
But the good news is that at the resurrection we will receive brand new incorruptible and immortal bodies (Romans 8:23).
A Little Wine
Here is another reason to believe that it’s sometimes God’s will for believers to be sick.
Paul, who miraculously healed the sick, urged Timothy to drink a little wine to help his stomach and other frequent ailments (1 Timothy 5:23).
But if believers are never supposed to be sick, why didn’t Paul urge Timothy to pray for healing, or to ask others to pray for his healing? Why did Paul urge Timothy to use medical means?
This shows that while God sometimes heals miraculously, he doesn’t always do so, and he sometimes will heal through medical means.
Through Many Afflictions
Another reason is because of what Paul preaches to churches he has just planted.
He says that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
The Greek word “tribulations” refers to a wide range of trials and difficulties, as we can see from the way it is used in 2 Corinthians 8:13 and James 1:27.
It does not refer just to persecution, because there is another Greek word that does refer just to persecution, the word diogmos, which Paul does not use here.
So the most natural reading of Acts 14:22 is that the road to heaven takes us through all kinds of trials and difficulties, including sickness.
What to Do
So what should you do if you are sick?
Turn to Jesus with your doubts and fears and unbelief. Trust him to forgive you for any sin, strengthen your faith, and satisfy your heart.
Be assured that because of his death on the Cross, and his perfect righteousness covering you, you are fully accepted and delighted in by the Father.
Then, pray for healing (James 5:13). Ask others to join you, including the elders of your church (James 5:14-15).
And if God does not heal you, trust his promises --
o that he will give you all the grace you need to endure this trial (2 Corinthians 9:8),
o that he will give you wisdom for the decisions you will need to make (James 1:5),
o that he will give you so much joy in him through this trial that one day you will fall at his feet and thank him for it (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Taken from an article I had read and think this would help us to understand so many things when we hear Bill Johnson talking about God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven. We must get the timing right and the perspective on the Word in clear view, otherwise we will be presuming upon what is not there is Scriptures and this is sin. Please examine everything under the light of God’s Word. Some instances in the Bible we can see were because some disbelieved Jesus that He could do and this was to show these to trust Him, not that their faith was the cause of a healing, but that His will at these instances was to heal and we can trust God is Who He says He is. He does heal and it is according to His will, we can continue to believe He is healer even when He chooses not to for any reason because He is God and one day we will be fully healed and the greatest is having salvation, the healing of the heart towards God and not to think you don’t have enough faith mustered up to perform when God knows sometimes not healing is working something for the greater good and trusting Him no matter what is key.
Thank you so much for all that very helpful information, sister Tammy. I pray people will keep this in mind when they come across other ministries with such an emphasis on healing like Todd White’s and others.
Continuing with a bit of history of Bethel church - It was part of the General Council of the Assemblies of God until January 2006 when the church membership voted to withdraw their affiliation, and today Johnson hesitates to link Bethel to a specific movement or group. (http://www.letusreason.org/Popteach78.htm) In fact, in a Christianity Today article from April of 2016 he specifically stated that his church does not have any official ties to the New Apostolic Reformation and that he’s “not completely clear on what it is.” (https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/may/cover-story-inside-popular-controversial-bethel-church.html)
And, in case any listeners are unfamiliar with the NAR I will include the link to our article about Dominionism which is the theology of the NAR. (https://www.biblebelievingtruthwatch.com/dominionism-error). But, from their emphasis of the work of apostles and prophets, their emphasis on signs and wonders, and their associations with others in the NAR such as Che Ahn, Mike Bickle, John Arnott, Heidi Baker, and so forth, it is clear they are definitely in the NAR camp. In fact, Bill Johnson, Che Ahn, and John Arnott were heralded as “apostolic pillars of today’s church” by now-deceased NAR-organizer C. Peter Wagner in 2008 at the commissioning ceremony for NAR evangelist Todd Bentley, during the Lakeland Revival in Florida. (http://www.spiritoferror.org/2016/05/yes-bethel-redding-and-bill-johnson-are-part-of-the-new-apostolic-reformation/5858) In addition, in his book entitled “Dreaming with God,” he makes several references to the Seven Mountain Mandate teaching which is a major belief system of the NAR. Johnson calls them mountains of influence as we see in a section entitled “Invading the mountains of influence” on p. 88 of this book. He goes on to say, “There are seven realms of society that must come under the influence of the King and His Kingdom. For that to happen, we, as citizens of the Kingdom, must invade. The dominion of the Lord Jesus is manifest whenever the people of God go forth to serve by bringing the order and blessing of His World into this one. (https://www.amazon.com/Dreaming-God-Secrets-Redesigning-Creative/dp/0768423996#reader_0768423996) (And, so I actually don’t know what Bill Johnson was thinking in trying to distance himself from this movement because he is smack dab in the middle of it).
Continuing to describe Bethel itself, those who examine the practices there identify it as being part of a larger movement known as the Word of Faith movement. They are connected to “revivalists” and “prophets” including Todd Bentley, Patricia King, John and Carol Arnott, Chuck Pierce, Mike Bickle, Cindy Jacobs, and Rick Joyner, some of whom we already mentioned. (http://www.understandthetimes.org/inthenews/175_sw.shtml) (So we see some red flags here because birds of a feather flock together. Now, for a number of years all these people in the prophetic, and in the NAR, have remained on the fringes of the church world. However, what we see occurring these days is an acceptance of these different ones by the mainstream church world. This acceptance of the NAR’s prophets and apostles into the mainstream church world was spearheaded behind the scenes by people like C. Peter Wagner, up until his death in October of 2016. Those in the NAR believe they must be in leadership positions in the church in order to engineer the Seven Mountain Mandate which is part of their plan to bring the Kingdom of God to earth).
There are 8,000 attendees at Bethel Church’s six weekly services in their 1,500-seat Redding location, along with the 350,000-plus people who subscribe to the online stream of the services at www.ibethel.tv. (http://www.thechristianbeat.org/index.php/news/1962-bethel-music-s-heaven-come-conference-to-gather-thousands-from-all-over-the-world)
Bethel Church places a massive emphasis on experiences. Regular activities that occur during worship services at Bethel include “fire tunnels” – a “prayer” line in which people move through the arms of other attendants to receive prayer, blessings, and impartations. Often people can be found recklessly “drunk” in the spirit, experiencing “holy laughter”, jerking, and there are regular occurrences of unusual manifestations such as the appearance of gold dust. I have seen videos of Bill Johnson beginning his services by calling out ailments in the crowd such as someone has been in an accident and has a metal plate and you’re experiencing a lot of pain. He says, “Who is that, stand up. God is going to heal that.” Also, giving words of knowledge is very popular. I watched a service where someone said, “God wanted us to focus on the Netherlands tonight. Is anyone here from the Netherlands?” Four people came up and then probably about twenty people gave a word about what God was supposedly going to do in the Netherlands. (Now, we want to make sure and state that we do believe in the gifts of the Spirit. But, we follow the biblical instructions in these areas. And, since I mentioned manifestations such as jerking, I will include a video with examples of the false, Kundalini spirit in operation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3latP4okhU). And, I will also include a video of members of Bill Johnson’s Bethel church in Redding, CA, displaying similar manifestations (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=361&v=hR4NqpX4vHs).
In addition, I will include the video of Bill Johnson in a church service talking about seeing glory clouds, angel feathers, and gold dust. He says these are “signs that make you wonder.” Also, “You can’t invite God into the house and not have something outside of your box happen.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcPkOR4Lwj0) (Well, these things make us wonder, all right. We wonder how anyone can possibly claim to be a pastor, serve the One True God, and promote all this nonsense? Johnson tries to give the verse that God says He will cover us with His wings as the basis for the angel feathers. But, that verse is obviously speaking metaphorically, or does he think God is molting or something? All of this is just so ludicrous. 1 Tim. 4:1 certainly applies in this case: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. And, then, this talk about something happening outside your box. This is just a back-handed insult to those who want to adhere to the Biblical instructions concerning conduct during church services. The Apostle Paul gave clear directives about keeping order so there wouldn’t be a free for all. It’s sad that in so many cases God’s Word just isn’t enough for these people).
In addition, angel orbs have been photographed all over Bill Johnson’s church. Angel orbs are little balls of light that usually cannot be seen with the naked eye but can be photographed. Occult and new age writers have been talking about communicating to and conjuring these little balls of light for hundreds of years. The Bible says nothing about angel orbs, nor does it encourage people to try and communicate to angels. The only times that angelic communications take place in the bible, are by God’s direction and commands alone. (http://youthapologeticstraining.com/bill-johnson-exposed-08-portals-spirit-travel-sozo-and-angel-orbs/).
While we’re talking about angels, this is from a blog post in which Beni Johnson wrote about ‘WAKING UP ANGELS’ in March 2009: “In the last couple of months, I personally have become more aware of the angelic activity in this realm. One of those times was when we were on a prayer trip to Arizona… One morning as we were driving up over Tehah-chapi Pass and coming down into the Mojave Desert, I began to feel angels. The closer we got, the stronger the impression felt. I could see them everywhere!.. I announced this to the group and said, “We have got to stop! We have to stop somewhere…” As we drove around a corner I said, “I think that we are going to wake up some angels here.”
“We knew we were to turn around, get out of the RV and wake up the angels. I wish I could convey to you the energy and the quickness of how God was working. We jumped out of the RV, I blew the shofar and rang the bell, and we yelled “WAKEY WAKEY.” We got back into the RV and drove off. As we drove off, hilarious laughter broke out! We were stunned at the speed at which this all took place and were spinning from the adventure and the angelic activity. What in the world had just happened?! Heaven collided with earth. Woo hoo!! “Since that time,” she continues, “there has been a stirring in me to awaken the angels for use in this Kingdom reign that is upon us here on earth.” (http://www.benij.org/blog.php?id=1) (Well, that is just complete nonsense and absolutely demonic!)
There is ample evidence that Bethel has embraced contemplative prayer. In a book that Beni compiled entitled “Prayer Changes Things: Taking Your Life to the Next Prayer Level,” she has a chapter called, “Mystics, Mystical Experiences, and Contemplative Prayer.” She says that the chapter is “dedicated to the mystics, the contemplatives, those now and those who have gone on before us.” Like all committed contemplatives, Beni believes, “When it comes to prayer and intercession, words are important but not necessary.” (http://parablesblog.blogspot.com/2014/06/deception-part-4.html) (But, we have instructions in God’s Word concerning prayer in such verses as Phil. 4:6 and Matt. 6:5-15 and we are not instructed to be silent or to repeat phrases over and over).
And, then, Beni Johnson oversees Bethel’s prayer intercessors and Prayer House. The following is from her website: “We here at Bethel have a beautiful building called the Alabaster Prayer House. It is a 24/7 prayer house-a place of peace and finding God's presence. People come here to soak in God's presence. They come to just be with God. There are no corporate prayer meetings in this building. We built it so that we could have a place to host the presence of God. We want people to experience God's presence in an intimate one-on-one way. Heavenly activity is present there. Just recently I was in my office, which is in the same building as the prayer house. My door was open, and a lady came out of the prayer room. She asked me if there was a room below the prayer room. I told her no and asked why? She told me that she kept hearing people laughing and talking. I told her that was normal and that other people have heard that same thing. Being a visitor to Bethel, she was blown away, and it messed her up-in a good way. She was hearing the sound of heaven. We do hear the sound of heaven all around our prayer house. It always seems to be one of joy and laughter. There seems to be a party going on. In my opinion, I think that heaven really likes to hang out in our prayer house.” https://benij.org/heaven.php (Well, it is quite concerning that what is clearly demonic activity is considered absolutely normal by Beni Johnson. Evil spirits are obviously operating at this location, but these people are deceived into believing these sounds are of God. In addition, just to highlight her statement “soak in God’s presence,” I want to read just a few sentences from a book entitled “Soaking Prayer” by Roger Harper. "Soaking prayer is a modern form of contemplative prayer ... People put themselves in an attitude of stillness, focusing on Jesus and open to the Holy Spirit but with no requests or agenda. The aim is to be still in God’s presence, "waste time with Jesus.") (https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/soakingprayer.htm). (In addition, I am going to include the link to our article on contemplative prayer in case anyone wants to learn more about this topic). (https://www.biblebelievingtruthwatch.com/mysticismcontemplative-prayer.html).
And, the following is from a link called “The Power of Soaking” at Bethel’s website. It describes a “soaking ministry trip” to Mammoth, CA, in January of 2006. “During a Firestorm trip to Mammoth, California, the BSSM students were surprised to hear that several days prior to their arrival, a local teenage girl had frozen to death in a blizzard. Since Jesus has commissioned us to raise the dead, it is the heart’s cry of many staff and students to be used in this way. Kevin Dedmon and several students received the opportunity to pray over the deceased body. The young girl was not raised, but the faith of the community and the Firestorm team increased and a seed of faith was planted. Several weeks later Beni Johnson traveled to Mammoth to teach at a youth conference. During one particular session, Beni began teaching on soaking (intimacy and encounters with God’s presence) and going to Heaven (your spirit’s encounter with the 3rd heaven realm). Coincidently, a young man who knew the girl who had recently passed away in the blizzard was at the teaching. Sadly, his own sister had died the year before. Beni then had the group participate in a soaking time and the young man came up to Beni to report what he encountered: When he was lying on the floor he went to Heaven and saw two girls dancing there: one was his sister and the other was the young girl who had died. They told him not to cry anymore and as they said this a tear dropped on his chest. As it hit his chest it exploded and went out from him. Because of this experience, his heart and other people’s hearts were freed from grief and sorrow! (https://www.bethel.com/testimonies/the-power-of-soaking/) (I am just baffled by the fact she so easily says “your spirit’s encounter with the 3rd heaven realm” like someone is describing going to a park. You know, we are not instructed in God’s Word to seek trips to heaven or have contact with angels as we’ve already discussed. This young man could have seen anything and they just take his word for it? That is not wise to say the least).
And, continuing on the topic of unbiblical practices promoted at Bethel, we want to mention their practice of grave soaking, or as it’s sometimes called, grave sucking. This is the belief and practice of pulling the supposed Holy Spirit powers from the dead bones of a previously empowered believer. It is taught that when a Spirit-empowered individual dies their mantle or mission dies with them. In other words God’s mission for that believer was thwarted when that believer died. Supposedly, believers must find a way to retrieve the mantle or anointing from the rotting corpse six feet under. (http://youthapologeticstraining.com/grave-sucking/)
To illustrate Bethel’s involvement with this practice I am going to include the link to a video clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=32&v=LrHPTs8cLls) in which Ben Fitzgerald prays for people to receive an impartation as he stands by the grave of Smith Wigglesworth. He says, “When you come into a place where the Holy Spirit was on a person, He still exists there.” Ben Fitzgerald was a student at the time of the clip and now he is the director of Awakening Europe and Godfest ministries. He has taken this movement to Australia, as well. (I will include the link to our article on one of their Awakening Europe meetings which was held in Sweden in October of 2016 for anyone who wants to learn more about this movement). (https://www.biblebelievingtruthwatch.com/in-the-news---old--new/awakening-europe)
Here is a quote by Bill Johnson from chapter 4 of the book, “Physics of Heaven”: “I believe it’s possible for us to recover realms of anointing, realms of insight, realms of God that have been untended for decades simply by choosing to reclaim them and perpetuate them for future generations.” (But, for just one example of the way we receive that which God desires us to have is James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”).
Some attempt to claim 2 Kings 13:20-21 as the basis for this practice of grave soaking. I will just read these verses: “And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year. And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.” (But, there is no way anyone can claim a mantle was passed on in this situation. There is absolutely no mention of the person taking up Elisha’s ministry and becoming a prophet. And, those who dropped this man in Elisha’s grave had no expectation of this occurring. They merely put the man in the first grave they came to because they saw this band of marauders approaching. 1 Cor. 12 discusses spiritual gifts and verse 11 says, “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
Back in April of this year, Charisma Magazine interviewed Jesus Culture founder, Banning Liebscher, who addressed several controversies surrounding Bethel Church including grave soaking. Here are a few of his statements:
"We have a real passion for history and revival history and men and women of God… We read that stuff, love that, stirs us, inspires us… Going to John Wesley's grave if you're over in England or Booth's grave, just going and visiting it and just praying at the grave like 'Lord, what General Booth did in the Salvation Army, God, do it again in our day… We'd go visit that and people might pray or whatever. And then—again, these are students—and then it kind of starts going like, alright, well now they're lying on the grave." (https://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/36641-bethel-pastor-why-bill-johnson-didn-t-immediately-shut-down-grave-sucking) (And, yes, there are several occasions in which Bethel students have participated in this activity, but to give the impression that it’s just some idea the students came up with by themselves is false. I am going to include a link which shows a tweet or Instagram, I’m not sure which, of Beni Johnson lying on top of a flat gravestone and her comment is: “What I do. Lol.” So, that indicates to me this is isn’t the first time she’s done this; and more so, it’s as if she considers this normal behavior). (https://churchwatchcentral.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/beni-johnson-charisma-mag-grave-sucking.jpg?w=700&h=474)
Now, I just want to mention the SOZO ministry which Bethel church operates. The founder and director is Dawna De Silva. Here is some information from their websites:
The Sozo ministry is a unique inner healing and deliverance ministry in which the main aim is to get to the root of those things hindering your personal connection with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thus with a healed connection with Father, Son and Holy Spirit you can walk in the destiny to which you have been called. Sozo is simple, fast, Spirit led and effective. Sozo finds issues in minutes instead of years. Sozo helps heal your relationship with God to enable you to fulfill your destiny. SOZO is the Greek word translated “saved, healed, delivered." Sozo contains the whole package of being made whole or well.
The following are tools incorporated into the SOZO model:
Father Ladder, Four Doors, Presenting Jesus, The Wall, Trigger Mechanisms (Advanced Tool, Divine Editing). The SOZO tools are used with the leading of the Holy Spirit and through this process, inner wounds are healed, spiritual strongholds are broken, “doors” are closed and God’s truth is revealed. http://bethelsozo.com/about; https://shop.bethel.com/products/sozo-basic-saved-healed-delivered; http://sozofreedom.com/sozo-ministry/overview.html (We should note God will heal our emotions, and so forth, but these are situations we take directly to God, and don’t have to attend sessions for this or purchase DVDs. We don’t find phrases such as Father Ladder and Four Doors in God’s Word and they would seem to fall in the category of psychotherapy, but they use the words God and Jesus to make this sound like an acceptable Christian practice. As we have mentioned, we have seen clips of services at Bethel where people are violently jerking in an uncontrollable manner and they attribute this to the Holy Spirit. They just do all kinds of things and say this is the Holy Spirit when these are truly demonically-inspired activities and we know they are because the whole foundation of this church is faulty.
Something I want to briefly mention is a movie called “Holy Ghost.” Bill Johnson promoted and appeared in this movie. This is what the director, Darren Wilson said, at the end of the trailer for it: “This movie is about risk. I want to take the greatest risk possible, and make a movie that is completely led by the Holy Spirit. No plan. No safety net. Just show up wherever He leads me, and make God famous.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=15&v=Yq_NL7Ofj9k)
(That, of course, is just a ridiculous statement, but the sad thing was that they filmed people basically going around and misrepresenting God. They had people walking the streets, going up to strangers, telling them something that was wrong and then saying I’m going to pray and you’re going to get a heavy feeling; that’s God. He’s going to heal you. Do you feel something? The person would often say no, or just a little and they would say “double it” and then several times the person would say they felt tingling, etc. But, what is so crazy is that people attribute all kinds of things to God, any “supernatural” experience they say is God, as if they forget there is a completely evil spirit world out there).
I want to continue now by discussing some of Bill Johnson’s books:
The first one is “Dreaming With God” subtitled “Secrets to Redesigning Your World Through God’s Creative Flow.” We already mentioned this one concerning his NAR beliefs, but on p. 86 Johnson writes the following when referring to a practice associated with the New Age:
“Many prominent pastors and conference speakers add fuel to the fire of fear by assuming that because the New Age promotes it, its origins must be from the devil. I find that form of reasoning weak at best. If we follow that line of thought we will continue to give the devil the tools that God has given us for success in life and ministry. (But let’s think about this. The Word of God and new age teachings are polar opposites. To propose that new age practices were once Christian is ridiculous. They get this idea from the fact that practices such as contemplative prayer, the labyrinth, and lectio divina, were practiced by monks and others in the Catholic Church. But, as we have discussed many times, Catholic beliefs and practices should not be followed).
There are many other things that could be said about their connection with the New Age, but for lack of time, I will just give one more example.
Co-author Ellyn Davis of “The Physics of Heaven” and Bill Johnson's personal secretary writes in the book on p. 14: “It wasn't that I wanted to become a New Ager, I just wanted to find out if maybe they had uncovered some truths the church hadn't.” (Wow, just wow. That’s like saying here’s a cup of what many people say is pure poison, but I think I’ll drink it in case it has a few nutrients mixed in. You know, in the account in Acts 19 of the new believers burning their occult books, it doesn’t say other believers said, “Hey, we want to read those first in case they contain something we’ve missed!” What a ridiculous thought!)
Also, from p. 147-148 of “Physics of Heaven” we learn of an experience Bill Johnson claims to have had with God’s power: “In 1995, I began to cry out to God day and night for around eight months. My prayer was, “God I want more of You at any cost! I will pay any price!” Then, one night in October, God came in answer to my prayer, yet not in a way I had expected. I went from being in a dead sleep to being wide-awake in a moment. Unexplainable power began to surge through my body. If I had been plugged into a wall socket with a thousand volts of electricity flowing through my body, I can’t imagine that it would have been much different. It was as though an extremely powerful being had entered the room and I could not function in His presence. My arms and legs shot out in silent explosions as this power was released through my hands and feet. The more I tried to stop it, the worse it got.” (You know, sister Tammy, I just don’t know any believer who would claim this was truly an experience from God. But more importantly, there is nothing in God’s Word that should cause us to expect to have such an encounter. The more we hear about Bill Johnson and this church, the more new age and occultic experiences we see).
Now, here are a few examples from Johnson’s book, “When Heaven Invades Earth.” On p. 76 he writes, “Those who feel safe because of their intellectual grasp of Scriptures enjoy a false sense of security. None of us has a full grasp of Scripture, but we all have the Holy Spirit. He is our common denominator who will always lead us into truth. But to follow Him, we must be willing to follow off the map—to go beyond what we know.” (For those following Bethel Church, these statements give credence to the gold dust, angel feathers, grave soaking, angelic contact phenomena as merely being led by the Holy Spirit. However, we have God’s Word and the Holy Spirit is not going to lead us beyond that into New Age and Kundalini spirit practices).
Additionally, we see on p. 59 of this book that Johnson interprets the Lord’s Prayer, in terms of his “Kingdom Now/Dominion” theology. He says, “This is the primary purpose for all prayer—if it exists in heaven, it is to be loosed on earth.” He goes on to explain: “Such an invasion causes the circumstances here to line up with heaven.” (But, this is just ridiculous. For one example, there is no death in heaven and so does Bill Johnson think it is possible to attain this now?)
And, then, Johnson claims the following about himself and associates: “We will carry the Elijah anointing in preparing for the return of the Lord in the same way that John the Baptist carried the Elijah anointing and prepared the people for the coming of the Lord” (p.184, When Heaven Invades Earth).
Johnson goes even further, “I live for the revival that is unfolding and believe it will surpass all previous moves combined, bringing more than one billion souls into the Kingdom” (p.23). (http://www.letusreason.org/Popteach78.htm) (Sadly, so many are completely ignoring all the scriptures about false Christs, perilous times, evil men and seducers waxing worse and worse. The revival they see is a false, counterfeit one and we have discussed this many times and so I will just include the link to our article entitled, “Revival for Today?”) (https://www.biblebelievingtruthwatch.com/revival-for-today.html).
And, then, on p. 44 of “The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind” he says renewing the mind begins with repentance…Re means to go back…Pent is like the penthouse, the top floor of a building, Repent then means to go back to God’s perspective on reality. (However, he hasn’t given the correct etymology of "penthouse." The "pent" in "penthouse" has nothing to do with height. It comes from the French “apentis” in the 14th century meaning attached building. By 1530 the meaning was of an "attached building with a sloping roof or awning." Today’s meaning of an "apartment or small house built on the roof of a skyscraper" was first recorded in 1921). (https://www.etymonline.com/word/penthouse) (You know, we often say that those in the modern church are just making up stuff as they go along and this example, sadly, proves it).
Also, from p. 50 of this same book we read the following: “Jesus had no ability to heal the sick. He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead. He said of Himself in John 5:19, “the Son can do nothing of Himself.” He had set aside His divinity. He did miracles as man in right relationship with God because He was setting forth a model for us, something for us to follow. If He did miracles as God, we would all be extremely impressed, but we would have no compulsion to emulate Him. But when we see that God has commissioned us to do what Jesus did—and more—then we realize that He put self-imposed restrictions on Himself to show us that we could do it, too. Jesus so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father—without the Father’s help.” (To critique this I want to read from an article from Lighthouse Trails: “There are several problems with this teaching of Johnson’s. For example, it is theologically inaccurate to say that “Jesus had no ability . . .” and that Jesus “set aside His Divinity.” It is dangerously close to being a denial of the deity of Christ, for divinity by definition cannot be “set aside” nor could God ever be said to lack ability in any sense.
In the Incarnation, the eternal God became a man, though He never ceased being God. He always had all power, but he declined the prerogatives of power and majesty, which are inherent to Him, that He might live and die for us as true man.
Another problem with this is that Johnson asserts that Jesus performed miracles to “set forth a model for us . . . to show us that we could do it (the miracles) too . . .” This is at the very heart of the Word of Faith teaching from which Johnson has emerged. Supposedly, we as individual believers can and should be doing all of the miracles of Jesus, in the power of the Spirit. To Johnson, Jesus came in the flesh, partly to show us that we too could do what He did! This quest for miracle power is misguided and has led many into deception. Jesus didn’t do His miracles to “show us that we can do it.” The miracles of Jesus are manifestations of the merciful God, whether they are the ones in the Gospels, or in the Book of Acts, or those done in His name throughout the world today. (https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=20820)
And, speaking of signs and wonders, Bill Johnson, in a sermon titled "The Requirement of Miracles" (Dec. 11, 2011, evening service) he explains that the gospel preached by most of the visible church, today and in recent history, is not the authentic biblical gospel but a "different gospel." To be authentic, he argues, the gospel must be presented in the context of signs and wonders. As he puts it, a gospel message not confirmed by signs and wonders is a "different gospel." (http://beyondgrace.blogspot.com/) Additionally, in a video filmed by Catch the Fire ministry Bill Johnson says, “I don’t want to say a focus in the sense that that’s what we live for, but we’re unwilling to live with a gospel without miracles”…) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpYkptDWpzM) (8:37 mark) (But, how sad and how ironic that he should speak of a different gospel in this manner when we have seen many examples of occultic practices coming out of this church and very little focus on the simplicity of the gospel. And, we have all read and should be sobered by the following scriptures: Matt. 12:39 concerning those who seek after signs: “But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” And, also: Matt. 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity”).
And, for one more example of false teaching, which is also shared by other WOF teachers, in a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzAwFYKe3h0 At 3:41 mark to 4:48) we hear Bill Johnson say, “Did you know Jesus was born again? He had to be. He became sin. He was born through Mary the first time. And through the resurrection the second time.” (As we examine Scripture we find, of course, that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life. And, 2 Cor. 5:21 does say, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” However, this does not mean that Jesus Christ became a sinful being, but, rather, our sins were imputed to Him by the Father to atone for the sins of all who believe on Him. Obviously, if He became a sinner it wouldn’t have done any good for Him to die on the cross. That action would have meant nothing and accomplished nothing).
Well, that is all I have for this time, sister Tammy. I sincerely pray people will come away from this false ministry and that others will warn about it. Sadly, it continues to gain popularity due to the influence of its musical groups, Bethel Music and Jesus Culture, which we hope to do a discussion on in the near future.
Thank You, sister Connie, and just a few things I want to share as these have been ringing in my heart through this discussion and this is Revelation 21:1-4, and this says - And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
This is speaking about the New Heaven and New Earth to come. So just to clarify a few things with the verse again about the heaven and earth situation we have spoken about throughout this discussion, this is talking about what is to come, there is coming a time! If people would put their faith in Jesus Christ, that He died for their sins and was buried and that He rose again after three days and we need to repent, we need to accept that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and He is the Only One that could pay for our sins, like you have already spoken about, He was sinless and that is the Only sacrifice God would accept on our behalf and He is God’s Son, coming to die to take away the sins of the world and He is the Only One we can come to the Father through. This is the Hope we can have. God does do things here and now but what is to come is going to be far better, no more death, pain, sorrow, sickness and all these things, but we look to this time and this can only be if you are born again, the Bible says ye must be born again, so for anyone that is listening today, if you have been listening to Bill Johnson and this ministry then please just examine everything because these are not preaching the Jesus of the Bible. They have another way and it is not the way of God. So, just ask for discernment, study to show yourself approved and if you don’t know the Lord then I would say now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. There is no hanging about because time is very short and what we are seeing happening all around us is what we see culminating to a one world religious system that is going to be including politics and religion and all this we have often spoken about, sister Connie.
Jesus Christ is the Only Way so put your hopes in Him today, He will never fail, He will never leave or forsake you and He will be there and lead you into truth. The Holy Spirit will always lead us to Jesus Christ and like you’ve said, He will never go against His Word, so we have the Word, so just thank you sister Connie for sharing these things today and hopefully we will be back sharing some more about Jesus Culture and their affiliations.
We can see so much what is taking place, all these religions entertaining Catholics and having priests on their stages, contemplative prayer and all these practices happening within Bethel Ministries is just outside of the Word of God and of the occult, so we just need to say it as it is and hope people will wake up to the truth.