He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. -- Titus 1:9 (ESV)
Earlier this week we had published a devotional about the events occurring at Bethel Church this past week involving the attempt to pray for the resurrection of an infant child who had passed away. The posting went a bit viral and three people came onto 828ministries to voice their displeasure with the devotional. I do not mind trying to educate people biblically but their responses were so telling of a mind that has been warped to biblical untruths while wrapped in misplaced zeal. Calvin once said that zeal without doctrine is like a sword in the hands of a lunatic. Bethel Church is nearly cult like and are creating many biblically ignorant lunatics. I will of course not reveal names but I did want to comment on these remarks so let us reason once more.
"People are praying for life. I'm so sorry that offends you. I admire their courage."
We will start with the short one. This is a common refrain from people deluded by false teaching. They over-spiritualize as they oversimplify. What Bethel is doing is not merely "praying for life." They are teaching falsely that because Jesus raised people from the dead, so can they. Bill Johnson just put out a video defending this by completely mangling several scriptures. Just because Jesus sent the 12 Apostles out to cleanse the lepers and raise the dead that does not mean He is commanding us to as well. Let's consider three levels of victims here. The first is the unsaved folks in the world who are watching this debacle with morbid curiosity. How many more will dismiss the church when this ends with the proper burial of little Olive? What witness is this bearing for the Gospel and for Christ? Secondly, what affect does this have on the believers in the church? Now that this has been taught, what will they do the next time someone close to them dies? Will their faith be shipwrecked when they perceive that God said no to their resurrection request? The last level of concern is for the family itself. Instead of being shepherded and given God's word to comfort them they have been allowed to go down this path. Maybe they survive the additional week's toll of misplaced hope. Maybe they do not. It does not take courage to not follow the bible. It only takes ignorance. Even Johnson admitted that when it came to this situation that he had no idea what he was doing. Amen to that. So let's be clear. Bethel offends me on so many levels because of the untold numbers of people who will be in hell because of their teachings. False signs and lying wonders offend me. Word faith offends me. Experiential Christianity offends me. The New Apostolic Reformation dominionism offends me. The prosperity gospel offends me. Wolves devouring the Lord's sheep offends me. Misguided prayer does not offend me. I only feel abject sorrow for people caught up in the Bethel false glory cloud. Here is comment number two:
"This is a horrible write-up. These people at Bethel were sincerely trying their best. They weren't trying to hurt anybody. They were simply doing what Jesus said to do in scripture. Luke 9, Mark 16. How in the world can you fault them for doing something Jesus explicitly said to do? It's the religious spirit that does this. The only thing that is not biblical is the attack on bethel by this writer. Bethel's ministry has helped so many. Many have been healed and didn't die. So I don't know how you can attack their theology when it kept people from dying and those people because missionaries or pastors for the kingdom. This post is simply from the pit. It's a great example of satan using a "Christian" voice to attack another that is actually doing something that works for the kingdom."
Once again motives are irrelevant. The fact that they were not trying to hurt anyone is irrelevant. The bottom line is they will hurt people with this false teaching. I do not blame the parents as they have been taught so poorly. I blame Bill Johnson for teaching them, and you, this nonsense. Luke 9 is when Jesus sends out the 12 Apostles -- not us. The bible does not work like that. Mark 16 was an added part of scripture and not meant to form doctrine with. It was not part of the original Mark manuscript. That said, there is no mention of raising the dead in Mark 16. This is the same section of scripture that says we will handle deadly serpents and live so some have actually incorporated this into their services and pastors have died from snake bites. That is what happens when you do not understand scripture. So Jesus did not explicitly say to do this at all.
Then the usage of the term religious spirit is straight out of Bill Johnson's mouth. To Bethelites, anyone who insists on biblical truth to form doctrine is determined to have a religious spirit. Much like "fake news" is used secularly to dismiss truth, the term religious spirit is used to dismiss anyone who is trying to biblically correct false teaching. As for this writer's complaint about my "attack'" being unbiblical, I would direct them to Titus 1:9, the key verse for today, which clearly teaches we are rebuke false teaching. Look at how brainwashed the person is though. It is their belief that the efforts of Bethel, not Jesus healed the people she is referencing. They also disingenuously conflate a different issue, healing, into a debate about resurrection. If Bethel held a prayer vigil for a week for someone who was dying, or comatose, or needed a healing miracle I would not complain at all. That is not what they are doing however. Olive has died already. Lastly, Bill Johnson is not doing anything for the kingdom of heaven. Note however the disagreement. I disagree using the bible and that is my cause. Their disagreement is personal -- don't speak bad about my pastor! This is the NAR cult of personality in full action. Here is the last complaint:
"828 Ministries is the real demonic danger here. They use their tongue and pen to bash brothers and sisters in Christ praying for others. 828 Ministries declares we are powerless which flies directly into the face of the words of Christ Jesus. Only devils and demons do that. They love it when you believe all power is only for after death. It keeps you bound and subject to demons during life. Christ paid a great price to free you from demonic oppression like this article."
Another familiar complaint from those taken in by deception is that everyone who can spell Jesus correctly is a "brother or sister" in Christ. Bethel teaches nothing but false doctrine. Bill Johnson is not my brother in Christ. He is a wolf devouring sheep. The bible does not instruct me to pray for wolves, coddle them, or ask them to stop being a wolf. They deserve nothing but my contempt and disdain and the working end of the shepherd's rod. Another ploy is to simply misrepresent what has been said. I of course never said we were powerless. What I did say is we are not God. Usurping His power and glory is the sin of Lucifer and Eve. Look at the lust for power that is imparted into the Bethelite however. It is the same arrogance that would make people form a dead raising team. When Johnson or Bethel claim we can speak things into existence, declare and decree healing and deliverance, or actively war against Satan they are usurping what is for God alone. Bound I am however -- by scripture.
So beloved, this was just a glimpse into the depraved minds of those who have fallen under the spell of Bethel's witchcraft. Keep in mind that their collective rage is simply because I disagreed with their pastor and church. That by definition is what cult members do. Olive Heiligenthal died last week at the age of two in what is a parent's worst nightmare. We pray for the family and rejoice in the fact that little Olive is now with Jesus. We should also keep in prayer however the people who have been snookered by the likes of Bill Johnson and Bethel Church. They are victims too. Hold a vigil for them that they might be born again before their lives are required of them.