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Bethel Church and the Business of Usurping the Holy Spirit

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"And these signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not harm them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will be made well." Mark 16:17,18

Bethel Church in Redding California is ground zero for so many heresies that are infecting the body of Christ today. Led by mega-heretic Bill Johnson, Bethel is a literal cesspool of false teaching that is enamoring the next generation and leading them far astray from the Biblical Christ, which is the only one that could save them. Johnson has claimed that "angel feathers" magically start falling all around him when he is out doing such mundane tasks as having lunch in a diner. He has perpetrated the false manifestations of gem stones and gold dust "appearing" for no particular reason at his church services. He has used his ventilation system at Bethel to create what he calls "glory clouds" during services. He holds prayer services where he allows anyone to come up to the altar and "prophesy." One of the chief worship leaders of his heretical group, "Jesus Culture" has a demonic testimony of meeting a false Jesus and false father god who tears out a piece of his heart for her. His followers engage in such arcane and demonic practices such as grave sucking, where they spend the night at the tomb of a deceased false prophet in the hopes of sucking some "residual anointing" from them. Bill Johnson's daughter in law refers to the Holy Spirit as a "sneaky blue genie." Another group of Bethel followers have created a "Dead Raising Team" that travels the world allegedly raising the dead. They claim several resurrections with zero proof and accountability. This is all before we even get into the poor theology of Bethel. Bill Johnson believes that God always must heal us; which is odd coming from a man who wears prescription eye glasses. Johnson is also a supporter of the word faith heresy that believes we can speak things into existence like God. He teaches the wildly heretical notion that Jesus laid aside his deity. He espouses overly mystical teachings about the anointing and perhaps most dangerous is he is a leading proponent of experiential Christianity. Experiential Christianity teaches that our personal experience trumps doctrine and the Bible. Johnson has even preached that we do not worship the Bible, despite the fact that Jesus is the Bible according to John 1. With all of this as the background, perhaps the most damnable heresy that Bill Johnson and Bethel Church engage in is the daily usurpation of the Holy Spirit.

To usurp something is to take it unlawfully. Where you do not have right to take it. Bill Johnson operates a "School of the Supernatural." Yesterday we wrote about the absurd false prophet from Bethel, Shawn Bolz, and his new E-Course on "Translating God." For only fifty bucks, you can be falsely taught by Bolz various lies about the gift of prophecy. We made note of the fact that the opening position for this course was false, when Bolz stated that prophecy is the gift of God for every believer. This of course is in direct opposition to the Word of God:

All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. -- 1Corinthians 12: 11 (ESV)

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. -- 1Corinthians 12: 29-31 (ESV)

The first verse is after the gifts are explained God reminds us that these are the gifts of the Holy Spirit and He decides who gets which ones. He gives them as He wills. This is important theologically for two reasons. First of all it makes it clear that no one has all of the gifts and not everyone can receive a given gift. Secondly however, it reminds us who is in control of the gift. The second set of verses, from later in the same chapter, ask a series of rhetorical questions where the presumptive answer to all is "no." Do all speak in tongues? No. Do all prophesy? No. Do all heal? No. Given the obvious teaching contained here one must conclude that what Bill Johnson, Shawn Bolz and Bethel Church traffic in is the usurpation of the power of the Holy Spirit. If we needed more proof, I came across it today when I found the Randy Clark School of Healing and Impartation, also offered through Bethel TV. Here is the brief sales pitch:

"God wants to use you to bring healing and wholeness to His people. At Randy Clark's School of Healing and Impartation, you will be activated in your healing gift as you receive wisdom and insight from Randy and Bill Johnson and worship with the Bethel Music Collective."

So once again we see the same poor underlying assumption that they can teach the gifts of the Holy Spirit, clearly violating the Scriptures set out above. Everyone does not have the gift of healing anymore than everyone can be taught the gift of prophecy. It is a damnable heresy that usurps the power of the Holy Spirit. What is more disheartening is to listen to people who have fallen for this teaching already. When I made a comment on the Bethel Social Media page, one of their followers cited the key verses for today as a defense for the school of healing and that every believer should be healing people. Let me briefly explain why that is a poor handling of Scripture. For starters, Mark 16: 9-20 is not a reliable portion of Scripture to create doctrine from without corroborating scriptures. What do you mean preacher? Here is an excerpt from the "got questions" website that summarizes the situation well:

"Although the vast majority of later Greek manuscripts contain Mark 16:9-20, the Gospel of Mark ends at verse 8 in two of the oldest and most respected manuscripts, the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus. As the oldest manuscripts are known to be the most accurate because there were fewer generations of copies from the original autographs (i.e., they are much closer in time to the originals), and the oldest manuscripts do not contain vv. 9-20, we can conclude that these verses were added later by scribes. The King James Version of the Bible, as well as the New King James, contains vv. 9-20 because the King James used medieval manuscripts as the basis of its translation. Since 1611, however, older and more accurate manuscripts have been discovered and they affirm that vv. 9-20 were not in the original Gospel of Mark." -- Got Questions

By the way, this portion of Scripture is what was used by those small churches that practiced handling live venomous snakes during services even after their pastor was bitten and killed by one. That is the danger when you use Scriptures for your own ends instead of truly wanting to hear from God. If you want to use anything in Mark 16: 9-20 doctrinally you must have a corroborating Scripture to support it. The Word always confirms the Word.

Lastly, these verses are not meant to be a laundry list of things every single Christian should be able to do but rather the collective works of the Holy Spirit. Picking up snakes with their hands is referring to supernatural protection not that we should literally pick up snakes. Poison not harming a believer does not mean that all believers should be drinking poison. Well if we are not all meant to handle snakes and drink poison, why should we conclude that we all should lay hands on people to heal them? The only answer is that healing is a gift of the Spirit in which case we go back to the Corinthians verses for guidance. Either way we can be assured that the gift of healing is not something everyone has. Just like the gift of prophecy, both are apportioned by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit. Not Bill Johnson, Shawn Bolz, Randy Clark, or Bethel Church. These are false teachers usurping the power of the Holy Spirit and leading people to hell in doing so. Mark them as such, as the Bible instructs us and have nothing to do with them.

Rev. Anthony.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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