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July 19, 2020

Bill Johnson Offering False Hope in a False Christ for a Hopeless World

By Anthony Wade

Bill Johnson offers up his heretical hope during these difficult times...


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From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. - Matthew 4:17 (ESV)

and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 2:6-7 (ESV)

Bill Johnson has always been spiritual Jell-O; difficult to pin down. That does not mean his heresies are not blatant because they are. It means the surrounding message can easily confuse because therein lies some truth. Like the devil - just enough truth to sucker you in to also believe the lies. Johnson is lead pastor at one of the most egregious cesspools of heresy on the planet in Bethel Church in Redding California. There is no false teaching they do not embrace. Prosperity gospel, false signs and lying winders, experiential Christianity, the NAR and accompanying dominionism, word faith; you name it. So when the above linked article appeared this week on Charisma News I was immediately concerned. Hope in a hopeless world sounds great but I know what Bill Johnson hopes in and it is not the Gospel. Let us reason once more together:

"When Jesus declared that the last days would be filled with war, famine, earthquakes and other disasters, He wasn't trying to discourage those who followed Him. Instead, He was describing the conditions into which He was sending His last-days army. Hope isn't just a feeling we search for; it's something we grab hold of and bring into every situation in our lives. We recognize how easy it is to become overwhelmed with personal problems, not to mention pandemic diseases, economic disruptions and political unrest. And yet the kingdom of God is real and present. Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God is at hand. In other words, the kingdom is in the here and now; it's within reach. Jesus modeled this beautifully when He slept in the storm. He is our example who can and must be followed. He was able to sleep in the storm because the world He dwells in has no storms. Period. He modeled living from heaven to earth. He shows us what it was like to dwell in heavenly places before the apostle Paul found language for it in Ephesians. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and He raised us up and seated us together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:4-6, author's emphasis).

The point is, this reality is far too great to hold as a belief when unaccompanied by experience. To be truly seated in heavenly places in Christ must be measurable by the change in perspective and thinking that has occurred in my life." - Bill Johnson

We see the duplicity of Johnson's teachings right from the start. No one would argue that Jesus Christ told of the signs of the end times for the purpose of discouraging His disciples. Bill opens with such an absurd notion to draw people in but as we progress and peel back the onion we will find the core messages are always against scripture and against God. Should we bring hope into all things? Absolutely but the hope Johnson speaks of is heretical hope based on a false Christ and a false gospel that can only lead to a false salvation. Let me show you how subtle Johnson is. The moment this article changes is when he says that Jesus said the kingdom is at hand, meaning that it is here and now. No Bill, that is not what Jesus was saying at all. Johnson says this because it establishes the foundation for all of his theology. Bill Johnson teaches the "as in heaven so on earth" heresy that believes in bringing the kingdom into the world and essentially taking it over. It is advanced dominionism. It is the heart of NAR teaching. Bill's hope is in this world. So when confronted with war and pandemic Bill's hope rests in the false belief that God wants to bring heaven to earth to fix it for us.

The true reason the Christian hopes is in Christ and His work on the cross. So, it does not matter if this world falls into complete disarray because our hope is in the eternal. Specifically, being called out of this carnal mess and into the eternal with God - not that God is bringing heaven to earth to fix our carnality. The first key verse does not indicate that the kingdom is here and now because if it were there would be no need to repent. It would be too late. All Jesus is saying is that the kingdom is near. Time is running out. Repent.

The verses Johnson cites from Ephesians are often misinterpreted by NAR false teachers. They do it by ignoring the second half of the sentence they are citing. Jesus did not seat us in heavenly places to change our perspective of this world. The dominionist is always focused on the wrong world. The full sentence reveals that He did seat us in heavenly places SO THAT in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace towards us in Christ Jesus. So when does this apply for believers? In the coming ages. Johnson uses it however to present his central theology:

"The point is, this reality is far too great to hold as a belief when unaccompanied by experience. To be truly seated in heavenly places in Christ must be measurable by the change in perspective and thinking that has occurred in my life." - Bill Johnson

This is where experiential Christianity is born. Johnson actually is teaching here that this revelation he has, which is biblically inaccurate, must be accompanied by experience. The scripture itself is no longer sufficient for Bill. Now it must be partnered with our personal experience of this revelation. The problem is that Bill forgets that the heart is the most wickedly deceitful thing ever created and that while our experience will lie to us, God and His word never will. Not satisfied, Johnson doubles down on his heresy:

"Revelation of biblical truth is an invitation to experience that truth. For example, God would never reveal Himself as a Savior merely to increase our spiritual intelligence. He shows us who He is as our Savior that we might experience His salvation. This knowledge of salvation is of little benefit if it is not accompanied by the salvation He promises. In the same way, He doesn't just enable us to see Him as our provider to make us smarter; He does it so that our hearts would be opened to experience and trust Him for His provision in the daily parts of our lives. Being seated in the heavenly places is a wonderful truth, but it must be accompanied by experience for its purpose to be fully realized. We know that the promise to be seated in heavenly places has become our own experience when we see and think differently. We see from His perspective, and the mind of Christ becomes our norm. This is the ongoing challenge of every believer that we must constantly affirm." - Bill Johnson

Now that his premise has been offered Johnson blows it up. The notion that biblical truth is only an invitation to experience that truth is asinine. Biblical truth is presented to us so that we might experience faith in He who wrote those words. To see them play out in our life should only serve to reinforce our faith in Christ - not in our life. Johnson then tries to get cute and present the fact that knowledge of salvation is useless without the actual salvation but what is missing in this example? The unsaved person has no knowledge of salvation! The things of God are utter foolishness to them. We are speaking of course about believers. Listen, I am not suggesting that experience does not play a role in our lives but Johnson gives it the preeminent spot. What Bill is doing here is his specialty - minimizing scripture in favor of personal experience. What Bill Johnson is advocating here is make ourselves equal with God because He promises us in the coming ages we will sit with Him in heavenly places.

"Biblical meditation is probably one of the most forgotten biblical disciplines. And yet it is here that these wonderful truths of Scripture take root deeper than the lies given to us by the surrounding culture. Eastern meditation is different in that it requires its practitioners to empty their minds. That is dangerous, as there are many powers that look for vacated places to fill. Biblical meditation is where we fill our minds with truth and bring it up over and over again for consideration. The word meditation can be translated "to mutter" which speaks of our willingness to repeat a truth over and over to ourselves. Oftentimes in that journey, the Lord adds to our understanding until that truth becomes a part of our character, our personality. As some would say, truth becomes cellular. It becomes a part of who we are." - Bill Johnson

Here is another reason why Johnson can be so dangerous. If one truly focuses on the word to hide it in his heart, that is wholly biblical. The problem is while Johnson says the right thing here, he teaches the opposite in his ministry and his church. For example, Johnson believes everyone can be taught the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which is anathema. He even operates a school to teach you the gifts. I saw a training video once for Bethel worship leaders. They were taught that they all had the gift of prophesy were encouraged to lead worship accordingly. This was accomplished during the periods of time known as "free praise" (when there were no lyrics being sung) by the emptying of the mind of the worship leader. They were taught whatever popped into their heads must be from God and to start singing it as a "prophecy." I saw this firsthand with an itinerant worship leader at my old church who sang for 15 minutes how we need to "jump in the river if we wanted a hug from Jesus." Bottom line here is we know this is not what Bill Johnson practices or he would not go such great lengths to downplay scripture.

"Our purpose is revealed in our design. But whenever society removes the concept of a Creator from its consciousness, it creates liberties we were never designed for--which actually work to destroy us. Once the designer is removed, so is design. You can't have design without a designer. When our design is gone, our intended purpose is undermined. When purpose is removed, so is our destiny. When we have no God-given destiny, we have no need for accountability, which destroys all that's left of the fear of God--the beginning of wisdom. This helps to explain the erosion of society where if a man feels like a woman, he has the right to choose to be one. Such nonsense is only logical when the boundaries of design are ignored. We find that we were created in the image of God Himself. That is a stunning design, revealing a purpose that is beyond our capacity to dream for ourselves. Whenever we remove the idea of being created in the image of God, we lose the value of human life. Abortion testifies to this tragedy, as do many similar atrocities. The absolutes must be held in place. They serve as anchors in turbulent waters. Without them, we are at the mercy of every whim and fancy of what is popular in culture at the moment. The boundaries set by our design are restrictions. But all of God's restrictions are for the purpose of increased life. None of them are punishments. They are avenues of liberty, discovered identity and increase. They result in the greater freedoms and experiences we were all made to delight in. A "no" in one part of life is a "yes" in another part of life. He is a life-giver! His restrictions are to keep us from the things that kill, steal and destroy. Think of it as the double yellow line painted down the center of the road on a two-lane highway. Cars traveling in opposite directions at high speeds come within a few feet of each other countless times. This happens day after day, with no problems. But without the restriction created by that painted line, there would be certain death and suffering for countless numbers of people. Yet because of the restriction created by the lines, we get to our destinations safely. God's restrictions are guidelines for safety but also ultimately for enjoyment. He created all things for His delight and for our pleasure." - Bill Johnson

Once again, showing the danger of his teaching Johnson is correct about a great deal here as it pertains to society at large. We must step back and take this as a smaller portion of his larger belief system. Bill Johnson is hardly a cultural warrior but he is a die hard dominionist. As such he only views things biblically as they apply to the world. What is missing of course the guardrails he speaks of here must first apply to the church since the things of God are foolishness to those who are perishing. Does our society devalue life? Absolutely! Do theories such as evolution contribute to the devaluing of life? Greatly so. Where is the church in all of this? Are they valuing eternal life by presenting the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, which the bible says is the only thing that has the power to save someone? No. They are valuing this life. They are seeking commonality and relevance with this world. Mega church pastors with million-dollar homes and thousand-dollar suits while 736 million people live in abject poverty? They see a collective church outraged at the notion of not meeting during a pandemic or heaven forbid wearing a mask. I saw a post from a pastor this week who was BRAGGING about giving the flight attendant a hard time because he didn't want to wear a mask. A pastor. Another local pastor bragging about how he would not let kids wear masks when they return in September for Christian education at his church. What does the world see when they look at the church? What do they see when they look at Bill Johnson and Bethel Church? Do they see these few correct words scattered around so many that are simply wrong? In all likelihood they see the craziness of their prayer services and open mic prophesy nights. They see their dead raising team lying about raising people from the dead. They see Johnson teaching that God must always heal us as he never once visits a hospital during the pandemic to heal people. They see a church that is actively seeking to remove the guardrails of scripture and replace them with our own experience.

"We were designed with purpose and destiny. Survival is important but should not be a lifetime goal. We were designed to soar. Real wisdom comes in managing our intake of information to fuel our purpose. The thought of soaring during times of crisis almost seems flippant to many. And yet trials don't affect our destinies. They only affect the journey. And considering that our Father is the one who uses all things for His glory and our strength, we must hold on to hope. Even the most undesirable situation can be used for our promotion. Deliberately feeding ourselves on the things that make us useful in crises is paramount to our fulfilling our design. We were born to live and thrive with hope! Hope is the soil that faith grows in. Hope doesn't cower in the face of a mountain, but it is faith that removes the mountain. Hope is a general approach to all things in life. Faith is specific and intentional. Faith is not the result of striving. It is the result of surrender. Yielding to the purposes of God, and more specifically, yielding to the Word of God creates the pathway of great hope and faith. Hope has to have a foundation. And that foundation is the goodness of God. A person without hope has either lost sight of His goodness or was never convinced in the first place. Regardless, the solution is simple. Return to Him. Return to the One who loves us beyond measure. It doesn't get any simpler or more profound than this. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). That is pure, unadulterated goodness. Paul adds to this truth with: " He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32). His gift to us was so extreme that everything else needed in this life, and throughout all eternity, was automatically included. Meditating on such truths should give us the courage and hope to approach life with certainty. It's not a certainty of knowing what will happen and when. It's a certainty that no matter what happens, we are held in His hand and are automatically positioned for forward motion and increase." - Bill Johnson

You may want to sit down beloved. We were not designed with magnificent purpose and destiny. That is Rick Warrenology 101 and it is pure heresy. We were not designed to soar. This is more of the purpose driven slop that has been fed to churchgoers for decades now. The result is they are fully churched. They are fully purposed. Yet despite these accomplishments they are further away from God. The problem remains that the hope Bill Johnson sells is in this world. Even when he waxes eloquently about God it is only to leverage Him. Not losing sight of the goodness of God is to hope in the finished work of the cross. Where we understand that this pandemic riddled world may pass away tomorrow and God will save us out from it because He already has on Calvary. We are not automatically positioned to move forward and increase. That is the teaching that wrecks faith. Having faith in God and being secured in His hands means we should be positioned to lie prostrate before Him in awe. Sorry Bill.

Reverend Anthony Wade - July 19, 2020

Authors Bio:
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 His purpose.