Tagged in: Soteriology

IHOPKC and Gnosticism : Is the prayer movement just a second century revival?

I get messages on Facebook and email every few days about Mike Bickle, IHOPKC and the complete prophetic movement about Gnosticism. Most people do not even have a clue what that is, why it matters and how it plays out in the world today. It is mainly something reserved for theologians and historians. Oddly, I fit in both of those roles so let’s take a look! Continue reading…

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.


TL Osborn: Grandfather of Evangelism

T.L. Osborn was one of the most humble men I know and one of the most anointed I know. He had been all over the world and led more people to Christ than anyone in history but you would not know it chatting with him at a coffeehouse in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was just that humble.

The man is known as the grandfather of mass evangelism for a reason though. He lived for the gospel. He believe the soul winning was the chief calling of every believer. He is right too. We might not like the fact that we are to preach the gospel but that does not change the great commission. Preach the gospel and you must use words!

The purpose of a spirit filled life is to demonstrate the supernatural power of our living God so that the unsaved multitudes will abandon their dead gods to call upon the name of The Lord and be delivered. (T.L. Osborn) 

I remember the last time I saw him before he checked out for his heavenly reward. He was decicidating the new ministry center on Memorial in Tulsa. (The famous old one was part of the new highway project). I was struggling with doing a conference in Congo at the time. I have every reason to go but I also had every reason to not to go. He talked to me and with a smile on his face, “If you do not go, who will? They need the gospel.”  It was the tipping point for me to go to Congo.

TL Osborn was a man of faith & action

We all know that without works, our faith is dead but most of us still have a life void of any real works for the Lord. We do not do the great commission. We do not feed the hungry. We do not see visit those who are locked in their homes or in prisons. We know we should but we don’t.

Brother Osborn was always the sweet, loving, and compassionate guy that would kick up in the backside to remind us what the Bible told us about the gospel. I am not sure I have seen a person with a better grip on the issue on soteriology (doctrine of salvation) in my life. He had some serious revelation and it was all scriptural based.

He is the man you could not help but love. He has passion for the things of the Spirit, cared about people and have a devotion to the New Testament. He is everything a man of God should be.

He lived with a deep concern that we have preached faith, destroyed hope and ignore love in the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement. We pushed faith so much because lost hope if they did not see their naming did not become claiming.

The hallmark of TL Osborn was his commitment to preaching the compassion of Jesus, not the fire of hell. He did not have a problem with people preaching hell, fire, and brimstone but he focused on compassion as his niche of the gospel.

Every time I met him, I walked away with a deeper love for people, a deeper commitment to the great commission, and a deeper understanding of soteriology. That was the TL Osborn that I knew.

He understood the Pentecostal mission

There is only one purpose of pentecost; that is to effectively evangelize lost souls. (TL Osborn)

Those words would give us the heartbeat of Pentecostal ministries from Azusa Street and even since. The problem is many of the Spirit-filled ministries today are worried about everything but actually doing the Great Commission. Pentecost was always about reaching the lost at any cost.  He has a deep conviction that signs and wonders must confirm the gospel. The good news is Jesus had the same view on the subject.

The message was always at the core of anything that he did: the gospel of Jesus Christ. He did not try and make it creative. He believed the gospel presented just as it was powerful. He led more people to the cross that any man in history, including Billy Graham, in the process as well.

It was the simplicity of the gospel that was his hallmark. He did not live like most of the faith preachers of his era. He put as much money as he could in the gospel work around the nation. Until his day, his publication were made very cheap (and you could tell) so he could give away books to people in Africa.

TL Osborn changed the world

I had the privilege of standing next to him in Manila, Philippines when he came with Mike Francen for a gospel crusade in 2000. I was a young, big, buff guy that told to run “security” for him. I was more interested in impartation than security to be honest. After all, I though the angels were provided a hedge of protection pretty well myself.

The time I spend with him in the Philippines was a great time and it really changed some of my focus in life. It was not until years later that I was freed up to just do evangelism but one of the prophetic moments that made that happen was the four days I worked security for TL Osborn.

The people that he touched are many and I am happy to say I am in that company. I have many friends that also was touched over the years by him. He carried a mantle for evangelism that few have. That mantle has yet to be picked up. I wonder if the burden is too much for one man to bear.

I believe we need a movement of crusade evangelists that will answer the call to preach the gospel from the stadiums of the world and reach the lost at any cost. Men (and women) who will stand up and declare the saving, healing, delivering and touching power of the Holy Spirit to a world that is broken and downcast.

Brian Zahnd and heresy

I am far from a heresy hunter but a question that I keep getting is about my former pastor, Brian Zahnd. It is well known and by his own admission, that his theology has radical changed. In some ways, if he pulled an Ulf Ekman and turned Word of Life into a Catholic Cathedral, I wouldn’t be surprised.

It is kinda surprising as Brian, while self-taught, had a strong emphasis on the Word and he build his ministry on faith. He would tell everyone that God told him to preach faith and the church would grow. He would always say he knew two things: preach the faith message and do altar calls. I have watched some recent services from Word of Life and I can’t say he is doing either, anymore.

I still like Brian Zahnd and I am still a friend on Facebook and I follow him on Twitter. I wish nothing but the best for the guy. I had some sharp disagreement with some of his teachings back then (and still do.) An example would be the man of God teaching that was so common in those days. All in all, most of his teaching was standard Word of Faith doctrine…. much of which that I subscribe to as well.

brian zahnd

Brian Zahnd and Catholic theology

I remember it well. I was in the service sitting where I always did. Zahnd stood and told how he was sitting on his porth reading a book called The Confessions of St. Augustine. It is the writings of a Catholic monk from the forth century. I was younger then and did not think alot of it. I just figured it was adding a new layer to the message of Faith that Brian Zahnd build his ministry on.

I know that Jason Upton suggested the book. Jason is a pretty solid guy that loves Church History and is a prophetic guy by nature. I met Jason back in 2000 during The Call DC that was being organized by Che Ahn and Lou Engle. Jason is a cool guy but he loved the desert fathers alot.

Brian ended up slowly getting deeper and deeper into Catholicism. I watched from afar his ideas radical change. His theological statement would read very different today than it is 10 years ago. I am not sure if half of it would even be in tact. What was a detailed doctrine statement has been replaced by the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed. The issue with that is that if leaves more questions than answers. What is his current Estacalogy, Pneumatology, and Christology to name a few.

As I see it, he has stepped right in to the Joseph Prince from Singapore is preaching among others like John Crowder, D.R. Silva, Paul Ellis, and Jeremy White. This heresy (that is exactly what it is) has been publicly rebuked many times and is the subject of Dr. Micheal L. Brown called Hyper Grace. I suggest any believer wanting to understand grace read it.


Pacfism and Brian Zahnd

I have touched on this before when I wrote Brian Zahnd and Gospel of Peace. While this is not a huge issue, it is a departure from where Zahnd stood for a very long time and I have to ask why the complete change. He used to celebrate the 4th of July with about an American as you could get. He encouraged everyone to love God, love the people and love America.

I remember a friend took me to church one day. He was considering stealing a car so he could go back to prison. That was his desire. He came into the church only to use the restroom and saw a huge banner that read, “It’s time for war.” in the sanctuary. He wanted to stay to find out what a preacher would say about war. He gave his life to Jesus in that service.

Somewhere along the line, he changed and started condemning the use of the military for the United States and leaving the impression that war as a tool was demonic and the Pentegon was a vessel of satan.

What I do know is my last discussion with him online was about the atomic bomb dropped in Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. I will include it here.

There was a time that I would have never had that discussion with Brian. As someone that has lived (and currently living) in the Philippines, I have seen and heard the scars of the second World War. I believe that General Douglas MacArthur made the right call to put the final nail in the coffin to make sure the Japanese did not regroup and attack the Philippines again.

In many ways, Brian Zahnd has become much more pacifist that many to the degree that he wrote a book about it. To be fair, I have not read the book and probably wont. I like Brian but I know we will disagree on this subject.


So Is Zahnd a heretic?

I can’t say. I do not even know what he really believes anymore. I do know some of his soteriology is interesting. (I am being gracious here) I do know he has departed from Pentecostal thinking and he proclaimed that he was packing his bags and leaving the Charismatic movement. When he did that, many packed up their bible and left Brian Zahnd’s church as well.

Leaving Pentecostal theology and the Charismatic movement does not make you a heretic. What is unclear is beside soteriology, where he stands currently on the other core values of the Christian Faith. I know that Dr. Micheal L. Brown tried to get them out of him at a debate at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.

My advice to anyone listening to a teacher that a doctrinal statement is unclear would be make sure you have along your Bible, a Strong’s Concordance and a book on Systematic Theology. Be a Berean. Check what he is saying is true in the gospel and by reading up on scholars like Stanley Horton has said about it.

For those interested, this is an older clip of him preaching when I believe he was more solid doctrinally.

United Pentecostal Church believers or cult?

I was on Facebook and a friend asked me “Are United Pentecostals christian or are they a cult?” This is an honest question that many have actually.

You may or may not know that Tommy Tenney, the God Chaser guy, is a member of the United Pentecostal Church International. His father just recently retired as the leader of UPC churches in the state of Louisiana.

As far as Tommy Tenney, I know there is an ongoing discussion just how much of the theology of the United Pentecostal still has. Well, I am not sure it matters. What you will not read in this article is throwing stones at them or calling them a cult.

David K. Bernard is the current President that is back in Hazelwood, Missouri. He doesn’t seem like a dumb guy from what I can tell. He preaches what he believes well and is pretty educated. Graduate of Rice University and Doctorate from University of Texas.

I have been to many services at a few United Pentecostals churches. I loved the passion of the believers at The Pentecostals of Saint Joseph in Missouri.  Really sad that they lost their facility that was overlooking I-29 out by Brian Zahnd’s Word of Life Church.

United Pentecostals do believe different

They do hold a winner takes all view of salvation. They believed that you are either baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues or you are not saved at all. They take the passage where Jesus talked about being baptized with water and spirit literal.

Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. – Jesus

One issue that I see first out the gate is they confuse being born again and the Kingdom of God. The government of God and Soteriology is no quite the same. That is a common mistake among alot of churches though.

In United Pentecostal theology, you have make a confession of Lordship, be baptized in water and be baptized in the Holy Spirit in order to be saved.

One other way that they differ is you have to be baptized in the name of Jesus only. No Father, Son, and Holy Spirit baptism.

The other passage that is used alot in their Soteriology is Acts 2:38,

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

I have heard some of the leaders in the Church say this is the gospel, not the Romans Road. I disagree but I still love them as brothers of the faith.

The position that is hold officially by United Pentecostals on a prayer language or praying in tongues is not all that different besides one thing: they believe it is a salvation issue. Most other Pentecostals do not and see it as a second grace from the Lord.

The things that really divide Pentecostals

Now the two areas that make them very different that modern Pentecostals in the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland) and the Charismatic movement. One of them is quite silly but a major divider among the Pentecostal movement; the one is only serious about of the damage it does to the people involved.

Back in 1914, the Assemblies of God was formed and only two years later, it was under attack. You have most people believing in the Trinity but you also had a minority that demanded that there was only Jesus, no Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It became such as issue that at the General Council of the Assemblies of God in 1916, also a third of the assemblies were kicked out and they formed what became knows as the 16 Fundamental Truths with right off the top being the Trinity.

As a result, they formed the General Assembly of Apostolic Assemblies that later became the United Pentecostal Church International.


Isn’t the United Pentecostal pretty legalistic?

The other issue is their holiness ideals. It goes way past anything the the Bible even remotely teaches. Things like how to wear your hair, how long a dress should be, what type of suit to wear, television were not allowing in your home, no  jewelry or makeup for the women to name a few.

Legalism is a real bondage that still is alive today in the United Pentecostal Church. It destroys lives, family and ministries. There is nothing positive that comes out of legalism.

The other thing about it is when someone does come out of the bondage, they go to the extreme and live in complete sin. I have seen women leave the United Pentecostal movement and just become a nymphomaniac. They do not know how to handle freedom after so much legalistic bondage.


So why don’t I call them a cult?

This is where I struggle. I see all the problem with the United Pentecostal movement and even the biblical areas that they have departed; I also see a pure desire to love Jesus and move in the Spirit in them.

Outside of the Trinity issue, they do believe in the gospel. They have all of that right. They only add things that are not there and misunderstand the place of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

I do receive them as brothers in the faith with some theological reservation. They have serious error but I receive the Baptist, Church of God (Cleveland) and the Calvary Chapel that all have some theological issues as well.

One thing I do know is a group of United Pentecost people can pray and they can get the devil of people. They do know how to tarry and war in the Spirit. They don’t mind praying all night for someone to get set free from bondage.

Call a prayer meeting, the UPC people will be there until you lock the door; the Assemblies people will give you about trinity minutes than they will be out back playing basketball for the next three hours.

Dr. michael Brown

Brian Zahnd vs Dr. Michael L. Brown: Soteriology Debate

I just saw an older debate with my former pastor, Brian Zahnd and my former Bible College professor, Dr. Michael L. Brown on Youtube. To top it all, it was hosted by another former pastor, Mike Bickle at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri.

I would say that all three of these men, among others, have formed my faith to where I am today. All helped this radical guy saved in the fires of the Brownsville Revival that went to Central Bible College and ultimately finished up at Oral Roberts University. They all mark a time in that my path. Continue reading…