Tagged in: Bill Johnson

My problem with Bethel Church!

Bethel Church in Redding, California is amazing and I love a lot of what comes out of there but I am not a blind dog that takes everything hook, line and sucker. The reality is that we are called to be Bereans who test the teaching against the New Testament.

I have a lot of their books and one that I bought (but never read) was Walking in the Supernatural: Another cup of spiritual java. In this book, I read something that is alarming at best that came from the main leader of Bethel Church, Bill Johnson.

One of my primary jobs is to teach Christians how to discover and spend their inheritance. This basically means teaching people to use the unlimited promises given to us by God to bring about a manifestation of His dominion for the sake of humanity…

While this sounds all great, it has a major flaw in both soteriology and missiology. The purpose of preaching the gospel is to save souls. It is to preach about the bloody Savior on a hill far away to quote the Old Rugged Cross. The primary role of any preacher is to win the lost at all cost. Period.

Any pastor or teacher that is not passionately engaging the lost for the sole purpose of seeing them washed in the blood of the Lamb has lost their way and their reason for even being in ministry. Christianity is not psychology and it is not the latest self-help scheme that quickly becomes sanctified Wicca thinking.

Secondly, the focus of the Christian life should never be “Dominion.” Our goal should be to seek and to save that which is lost. It is what Jesus came to do and it is what we should be doing as a continuation of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke 19:10 makes this very clear.

The goal of the faith is to redeem people from hell; not bring Kingdom Now theology to confused believers.

…We offer people the taste of the Kingdom, over and over, with endless variations. We are like Holy Spirit baristas offering (free) samples of our Father’s excellent  coffee, educating people to appreciate the good stuff and how to bring others into that experience…

I have a serious problem with this comparing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to a coffee of Joe from Starbucks. The power of the Spirit is holy and should be respected. You don’t treat the Ancient of Days as a latte from Gloria Jeans. The preaching of the gospel is not being a barista!

I have the same problem with John Crowder and others who think you can “toke the ghost.” Having deep respect for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is critical to walk in power and authority like the early church did.

Another major error that many like Bill Johnson and John Bevere are teaching is about the gospel is just “good news.” The gospel is the best news a person can hear if they receive it. It is the worst news they can hear if they reject it. Heaven is real but so is hell. Hell is still hot and people are still going there.

The focus of the believer is to bring people to the Cross of Christ, not into spiritual highs caused by “divine lattes.” The Cross changes everything for everyone!

Too much of the Church has left the riches of Heaven sitting in the bank, thinking that we only get them when we die and go there. The belief that Heaven is a future reality has reduced far too many of God’s declarations in Scripture to positional truth that people acknowledge but never experience.

While I agree with this as far as divine healing and deliverance; it seems they want to make the gospel about prosperity (which I do believe in). Healing is the children’s bread and it is a integral part of the gospel. It is not secondary to the salvation. Healing is part of the message. It is miracles that win the masses to Jesus around the world. Jesus saves, heals, delivers and fills!

Bill Johnson holds that believers should expect “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done.” I have no problem with that to be honest. We should expect the manifestation of the atonement to break into people’s lives. The issue is that Bethel Church thinks this is for the believer. It is not for them but through them. This is a big game changer.

The one thing that bothers me here is the disregard for “positional truth.” That is the Bill Johnson way of talking about sound doctrine. Like it or not, sound theology is pretty important. A lot of people have went nuts in the end because they did not have positional truth. Knowing what you believe keeps you from becoming a heretic. Just ask William Branham.

At the end of the day, the gospel is an experience but it is not just that. I do not need to feel saved every morning to know I am saved. I do not feel God’s mercy when I wake up but I know His mercies are new every morning. Being led by feeling is a dangerous place to be.

Many believers stay immature because they never progress beyond the revelation that they are sinners saved by grace…Those who progress are those who understand that God’s highest purpose was not to merely to forgive us of sin….

I am not even quite sure where to start with this. The soteriology of Bethel Church in Redding, CA is just completely out of wack. We never graduate from being saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. There is no progressing from that. That is always where we stand and on what basis we operate spiritually.

There is no moving beyond the salvation experience and it is something that must be valued at every turn of the faith. It is what redeemed us from the flames of hell. It is what keeps us and makes us children of God.

I love the risk culture of Bethel Church and I realize value the heart of Bill Johnson for people to expect the supernatural to break through in their lives. However, a honest look at the soteriology of what is coming out of the pulpit and their books is concerning to put it lightly.


Azusa Now, I am not coming!

Azusa Now is the latest in big meetings done by Lou Engle and other in the prayer movement. I love Lou, Mike Bickle and Bill Johnson. However, I think these meetings have outlasted their effectiveness and might actually be a hindrance to the very thing they want to bring: revival.

I was in Washington DC when Lou Engle gathered 400,000 people to fast and pray for the 2000 elections. It was truly mind blowing. Out of that, came six more major prayer meetings across America. I was at all of them. It was a huge cultural shift that took place. It has its’ season and it was over. Finished and done!

However, like anything in the Charismatic church, we can’t let something be done. If we think we can milk it the dead cow a little more, we will. That is why they called everyone to Nashville in 2007. It was a great experience but it was largely a failure. Nothing major came out of it, no real change and there was no hints of revival anywhere in America.

As much as I respect Lou, I know how he thinks. He could not stand there was not a major prayer rally somewhere. He is not happy if people are not crying out for revival. He wants what happened in DC to be a daily experience. I know that. Azusa Now was his best attempt to raise the dead cow from the dead.

Paul CainAzusa Now is not nameless, faceless anymore

One of the big pushes for The Call in Washington DC was “come and pray. No speakers will be named. No worship leaders will be announced. Come for Jesus only.” That was what we all signed up for. I was on staff at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City at the time. Alot of us went to DC for one reason: we wanted to be there to support Lou when no one came! We were blown away when hundreds of thousands were on the lawn to pray with us.

Azusa Now was very different. It was leaders making big announcements saying, “I am coming to Azusa Now. I hope to see you there.” If you follow leaders on Facebook or Twitter; you knew the whole list of leaders that were speaking, praying and leading worship. It was not like The Call DC; it was a glorified conference.

Revival is to nameless and faceless, not well marketed and organized. Revival is when a miracle breaks out in a side room of a church and by next week, the corn field outside of town is packed with people from 100 miles around crying out to God in repentance. Real revival is when the child molesters are getting delivered and people who have been on LSD for decades are set free. If you do not have dramatic stories of deliverance; I question if you have revival. You might have church but not revival.

Stadium Christianity is about when a student prays for another in a classroom, the whole class falls on their face crying out for the presence of God. In a few minutes, the whole building is being taken by the glory of the Lord. By the afternoon, classes are called off and the whole student body is in the chapel in intercession. At the evening, the field around it is packed with random people and the gospel is preached with power and authority. No marketing. No promotions. No planning. It is pure organic growth.

Azusa Now StageAzusa Now was NOT wrong!

Some might take and think I am against the meeting. Hardly. There is alot of good that will come out of it. People were encouraged. People were prayed for. People were called to the mission field. Many will feed off that for a very long time. I still remember the revival meeting on August 4, 1998 when the Holy Spirit branded me by fire at the Brownsville Revival. I know that many people received that branding at the Azusa Now.

The bigger problem here is we do not seem to understand that we are largely in adultery in North America. We want an Event based revival. We love the Conference mentality and live for that next big meeting in hope that will be “the one.” It is idolatry.  The early church did not have that. They had a lifestyle based revival.

We do not want to really live in revival if we are to honest. We want something we can look forward to and get our “revival fix.” Living revival would cost us too much. That is why we loved Azusa Now.

Azusa Now necklaceLet Ananias and Sapphira be a reminder

We all know the story from Acts 5. The couple lied to the Apostles and because the Apostles had so much anointing, they died on the spot, right? I think you are missing alot of the story if you do not look deeper.

They were not keeping money back for selfish reasons. They was not saying, “Let’s keep 20%, go invest it and then we can retire early with a nice portfolio.” It was not like that at all.

What they are saying is more like this, “What if this revival thing does not work out? We do not want to be without anything to fall back on. We need to have a nest to reach for if things go south.” It was not that they didn’t want revival; they just was very double minded about it. They had one foot in and one foot out.

People who change the world do it when they have committed to the point that there is no backing out, no reservation, no other option. They are there crying for revival when the prayer meeting is over. Smith Wigglesworth crying out for the presence of God for 10 days straight. A.A. Allen spend all day in a closet tarrying. They knew the Holy Spirit and couldn’t do anything with Him.

It is easy to cry out for revival with 50,000 people praying for revival. It is easy to say “I will die for Christ” in a meeting of 1,000 other people saying the same thing. It is not that easy when you are crying out in your closet or look at a AK-47 in the hands of ISIS in front of you. This is where the having a lifestyle of revival happens. This is where the rubber meets the road!