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But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. -- 2Peter 2: 1 (ESV)
We have often spoken about the Seeker Friendly Industrial Complex that manages the international business of the church. Using the Purpose Driven models of church growth, we have seen more and more churches move away from sound doctrine in pursuit of carnal success that they pretend is God's favor. Within these large umbrella terms there have been several different heretical outgrowths. We know about the prosperity gospel that is widely preached and teaches that God wants us all rich beyond our wildest dreams. The obvious names are Kenneth Copeland, Mike Murdoch and Robert Morris to name but a few. Then we have the word faith gospel that teaches you need to speak things into existence. Typical word faith adherents are Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen. You have the greasy grace preachers such as Joseph Prince who teach that the law has no place in the life of a believer. Many popular preachers have adopted several false doctrines along their travels. Osteen is essentially word faith and prosperity for example. Creflo Dollar is prosperity, word faith and greasy grace. Anything to make merchandise off of the sheep of the Lord.
One of the up and coming heretical branches I have referred to as the false signs and lying wonders churches. These are particularly dangerous because they are capturing the Christian youth and by doing so are establishing generational heresy. It seeks to replace sound doctrine with experiential Christianity. Just the other day I was having a debate with someone whose only defense for Hillsong is that she likes their music and spent six weeks there and was blessed. There was virtually no speaking to her. What she had experienced now superseded Scripture. Now I know that it may sound difficult to be able to go against our own feelings but remember that the Bible teaches us our hearts are wickedly deceitful for a reason. Our hearts and thus our feelings will always lie to us because our flesh wants what it wants. I remember one time several years ago I was "slain in the Spirit" at a Friday night prayer service. I remember God ministered to me while I was out. Then years later as I was putting that doctrine up against Scripture I had to conclude that there is no such Biblical thing as being slain in the spirit. This caused as one would imagine a great conflict inside of me. At the end of the day however, it was whether I wanted to believe my lying heart or the infallible and unchanging Word of God? It was an easier choice then you might imagine. I recognized that I was very emotional the night I thought I was slain and it was an emotional response not a spiritual one. I do believe God uses everything for His glory so He ministered to me through it, but the experience of falling out? That was all me. I had brought my experience in line with Scripture.
The roster of the false signs and lying wonders network is growing rapidly. More so it seems than any other mainstream heresy. Besides the aforementioned Hillsong, there is also IHOP (not the pancake place which has better waffles and theology) and the granddaddy of the all, Bethel Church in Redding California. Fully supported by the New Apostolic Reformation and the Kansas City Prophets network, Bethel and Pastor Bill Johnson are ground zero for so many false teachings and theologies today. If it is whacky and unbiblical, chances are it originated at Bethel. They were one of the first churches to open up a "school of the supernatural" where they pretend they can teach the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Bethel has claimed every false manifestation over the years including gem stones, gold dust and angel feathers. They even created their own, glory clouds. They hold prayer services where they allow anyone to come up to the microphone and "prophesy." As anyone with discernment would realize, these rapidly devolve into a full blown demonic outpouring. It is this warped view of prophecy that fuels so much of the entire movement and it was time to expose it for the unbiblical nonsense that it is. Beloved, you cannot teach the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. -- 1Corinthians 12: 11 (ESV)
It is only the Spirit that apportions gifts to individual believers as He wills. There is no school that can change this. There is no class that can teach what only God is in control of. There is no e-course that can"wait there is a new one now from Bethel:
Shawn Bolz is the up and coming false prophet dude from Bethel. He likes to play clairvoyance games and uses an IPAD when he "sees things" about people. In case you are wondering where this "Translating God" idea came from for this wonderful e-course, we just need to go to the "store" page on Shawn's website. Bolz wrote a book called Translating God but I guess it did not net him the kind of money he was hoping for so now he has "translated" it into an 8-week course. How much? Just a measly $50. Never mind that the book was only $15. Additionally, if you want the 8 courses on DVD that will only cost you $125. Lastly, for $21 you can get a six-part "Developing Your Prophetic Process" CD set. Shawn Bolz is the huckster God has warned us about:
You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ's authority, knowing that God is watching us. -- 1Corinthians 2: 17 (NLT)
Beloved there is no prophetic process to develop. Shawn Bolz has simply tapped into the same prophetic scam network that James Goll, Chuck Pierce, Mike Bickle, Jennifer Leclaire, General Cindy Jacobs, and countless others traffic in every single day. They all write books. They all provide e-courses. Heck Leclaire just created her own false network of prophets and opened a supernatural school out of a hotel room in the airport Holiday Inn. Papa Johnson would be so proud over at Bethel. Let's take a look at the marketing spin for Shawn's e-course and see what the Bible has to say about it.
"Prophecy is a gift from God for all believers, and it doesn't have to be overwhelming. With intimacy and relationship as our starting point, we can partner with Him to grow in the prophetic and discover how to love ourselves, God, and others more deeply. In this new e-course from dynamic author and prophet Shawn Bolz, you will learn how to connect with the Lord in a fresh way and tune into His voice, ultimately reshaping the world around you."
Beloved I want us to understand why teachings like this are so dangerous. I know sometimes we just roll our eyes and move on to the next false teaching but here in this statement are so many insidious teachings that corrupt the hearts of people who otherwise may have been truly seeking the Lord. These insidious heresies are at the heart of the false signs and lying wonders theology. Point number one is prophecy is not a gift from God for all believers. This is so vital because it is at the center of the false prophetic networks scam. They set up schools and e-courses selling the notion that you top can prophesy and you too can be a prophet. It is simply unsupported biblically:
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. -- Romans 12: 4-8 (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)
These are the two sets of Scriptures that speak about prophecy as a spiritual gift. In the Romans verses pay attention to the fact that "not all have the same function" and "having gifts that differ." These two qualifiers make it painfully obvious that not everyone has the gift of prophecy. The Spirit decides who receives what gifts based upon the will of the Spirit. Thus one cannot teach the gifts of the Spirit, such as prophecy. The gift of prophecy is NOT a gift for all believers. We see here in the Romans verses Paul exhorting those that may have that gift to use it in proportion to their faith. Thus the entire premise of this e-course and the false prophet network collapses before it can even get off the ground. This is further confirmed by the second set of Scriptures from First Corinthians. Paul is not asking these questions sincerely. They are being asked rhetorically. In fact the way they are translated, the implied answer to all of the questions is a resounding "no." Are all apostles? No. Are all Prophets? No. Are all Teachers? No. Why would any discerning Christina want to listen to Shawn Bolz when he does not even grasp the most basic understanding of God's Word?
Then we come to an even greater danger within these types of teachings and churches. They all espouse this false intimacy with God. IHOP has turned it into a soft core pornographic relationship. Their music is usually about a longing for the lover that Jesus is. Worship should not make you feel the need to shower after. But they sell this false intimacy for a reason. It allows the marginalization of the Word of God. Without the constraints of Scripture, then they can claim all sorts of miracles and signs without having to be biblical at all. So suddenly religion is a dirty word. It is all about your experience in your relationship with Jesus. The deeper and more intimate the better of course. The problem with this teaching is it is completely false. It is not biblical. It is God that instituted the word religion. He tells us what is good religion and bad. He goes to great details about the organization of our religion. As bad as that part is, look at the nature of the relationship Bethel is selling here - you can "partner" with Him.