Errors of Bethel & Jesus Culture II

JCLast year I read and responded to an alarming public post by Kris Vallotton, co-leader of Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Bethel had recently become popular, for it’s supposed miracles, along with it’s band, “Jesus Culture.” The original post can be found HERE.

The article became widely circulated and debated, to the point that we did not have opportunity to respond to many comments. And, for that I apologize, as we hope to support local church saints on their quest for biblical truth, never write and run.

However, this last month I did peruse the comments and noted a common theme in defense of what happens at Bethel (along with other more conservative mainstream Pentecostal environments). That theme seems to rest in utilizing the biblical Book of Acts, as a reference point for modern church conduct. To sum it up, many people feel that, “The miracles of the Book of Acts justify similar miracles for today.”

Because this has become such a widely held support system for the cultish behaviors of Bethel, along with other more conservative Pentecostals, it’s good that we examine it in light of biblical evidence, always with the goal of insuring we’re part of Christ’s true church and not a Satanic fraud. Is it true that the Book of Acts supports this modern behavior? Is the Book of Acts a model for the 21st century church?

Below, we’ll provide the facts which indicate portions of Acts can be PRESCRIPTIVE for modern practice while many other portions are simply meant to be DESCRIPTIVE of a unique period in early church history. It would be very easy to leap off into academic depths, but I’ve attempted to format this article in four simple sections, hopefully launching you into further study. The four sections are: 1) How is the Bible arranged? 2) How is history arranged? 3) How does the book of Acts fit? 4) How should the book of Acts be used?

How is the Bible Arranged?

To understand the Book of Acts, we must understand the entire Bible. The Bible provides us at least five genres of literature. The Law, which includes the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, expressing God’s plan concerning government and religious custom. Historical books, such as Exodus and Joshua, and narratives such as the Gospels, which outline portions of history God wished to document. Wisdom literature, such as Proverbs and poetic books such as Psalms, providing metaphorical truth to live by. Discourse material, making up 21 letters in the New Testament, and representing clear didactic teaching in a formal style. Prophecy, the writings of both Old Testament and New Testament books, such as Isaiah or Revelation, which predict future events.

When studying the Bible, a proper understanding of the genre is critical to a proper understanding of the text. This principle is true of all literature. For example, a person does not read Harry Potter when attempting to learn about news in Washington D.C. nor does one read Vogue if attempting to learn regarding the life of Abraham Lincoln. Every text has a context, every context has a genre, and every genre has a purpose for it’s original reader.

How is History Arranged?

Once we know which genre we’re reading, we seek to learn how and why it was written. Throughout biblical history, God has related with man in at least seven specific ways. First, with Adam and Eve God expected them to replenish the earth, rule the animals, and keep from eating the fruit of one tree. Next, God expected Adam’s descendents to work for food and allowed women to endure pain in childbirth while looking forward to the coming Messiah. Third, following the flood God saved just one family, and asked they replenish the earth, hold dominion over creation, and institute capital punishment, trusting that God would never again destroy all mankind. Fourth, following the tower of Babel, God called Abraham, promising he would become a great nation and asking his descendents be circumcised as a sign of separation. Fifth, God worked through Moses, instituting a period of law, wherein the Jewish nation alone related to God through obedience to the law of Exodus 19-23. Sixth, Christ Jesus came and God relates now to His people, the Church, via personal faith in Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Seventh, a one thousand year reign of Jesus Christ on earth will soon begin, wherein born-again believers will rule with Christ, and those left on earth will repopulate it under His direct rule.

If a biblical student whishes to remain literal, historical, and grammatically appropriate, he will find that this is the ONLY way one can interpret all 66 books of Scripture in a seamless, logical, and non-contradictory way.

Where Does the Book of Acts Fit?

We’ve learned that a sovereign God supernaturally revealed each book of the bible with intended goals (genre) and to fit within an intended timeline (history). So, before we study the Book of Acts, we must discern which genre of literature it is and where it fits within God’s master timeline.

The best way to understand the purpose of a biblical text is to allow the biblical text interpret itself. Again, this is true of all literature. (Ex. For 100 years, the Oxforidan theory questioned the legitimacy of Shakespeare, contending that Bacon, Marlowe, and a group of men wrote the works using the name Shakespeare as pseudonym. However, circa 1987-2010, the Claremont Clinic, using the writings themselves, determined Shakespeare’s work showed consistent, countable, profile-fitting patterns, and indicated authorship as a single individual.) The text proves or discredits itself!

When Luke wrote the Book of Acts, he announced his goal from the beginning. “That Theophilus might know the certainty concerning the things wherein he had been instructed.” Thus, Luke’s stated goal was to convey historically accurate information to Theophilus, preserving the memory of great deeds done by the first generation of Christians.

Why did Luke do this? After the first generation of Christians was passing from earth, Luke likely realized that a decent record of Christ’s work in the holy church didn’t exist, so he chose to write one. Luke wrote his first Gospel (Luke) explaining Christ’s life up to the cross and subsequently wrote the Book of Acts to explain Christ’s work through the Holy Spirit following the cross. This explains why the Book of Acts ends so abruptly – It was a book specifically designed to document the “beginning” of the church age.

Thus, the four Gospels, and the Book of Acts, sit clearly as historic intermediary between the era of Law and Grace. Let us restate this for clarity, “The Book of Acts, like the Gospels, is clearly an historical record.” Based on the previous two sections of this article, the Book of Acts fits snuggly (along with the Gospels) into the Historic genre of literature. In essence, it’s a “snapshot” of the generation of apostolic church planters between Christ’s ascension and the completion of the canon, wherein select apostles structured the church via supernatural function.

Luke’s historic purpose is also clear in the outline of the book itself. Externally the book documents the church’s spread from Jerusalem to Rome. Internally the book describes the expansion of the church from Jew to Gentile. The book continues to document this back and forth struggle. Luke does a tremendous job of bringing life to history – Noting the works of various apostles, explaining why the church chose various leaders, showing the form of their prayers, the courage of their arduous missionary ventures, and even their martyrdom. The book is a riveting historical narrative.

Thus, when studying the Book of Acts a student must take great care to analyze what Luke writes as DESCRIPTIVE (historic account) and what is PRESCRIPTIVE (a model for ministry). Even a cursory glance at the book proves the importance of such analysis, for there are many things the early church experienced, which the modern church does not mirror. There are dozens, but let’s note a few:

+ Acts 1:26 shows the apostles selecting leaders by drawing lots. Most modern churches do not, and should not, play five card draw to select who will preach.

+ Acts 2:2 explains a violent wind that tore through the meetinghouse. Again, not an expected occurrence during modern small group sessions or Sunday worship.

+ Acts 2:42 speaks of 3,000 people gathered every day to eat bread and share all of their stuff. According to surveys, the average American attends church once per month and donates 2-4% of his/her income.

+ Acts 5:1-10 explains Ananias and Sapphira struck dead for giving an insincere offering. Frankly, we all should be thankful the Holy Spirit is more patient today.

+ Acts 9:1-4 describes Paul converted by being knocked off a horse and blinded for three days. It appears, God has been much more generous with millions of modern conversion stories.

+ Acts 12:20-24 depicts an ungodly leader dropping over to be eaten by worms. Is God not being much more patient with many world leaders today?

+ Acts 13:11 portrays Paul striking Elymas blind for doing false magic. Many Christians of today watch David Blaine and Harry Potter movies, yet their Pastor allows them continue seeing.

The list goes on and on – Prayerfully, the main point is clear – We cannot pick and choose which portions of the Book of Acts we want to use for convenience and which ones we’ll set aside due to confusion. We cannot relish miracles and tongues while ignoring judgments and penalties. If we do, we become ignorant at worst and hypocritical at best while thieving the very text we hope to honor.

Outside of obvious heresies like Bethel in Redding, Benny Hinn, Osteen, and others, this is why even mainstream evangelicals sometimes struggle when they begin terming their church “An Acts 2” church. Once they’ve used the term, they must support the term, and well-thinking people of their congregation read the text and become confused. Much of the Book of Acts stands as exemplary principle but hasn’t been a part of methodological practice for over 1700 years, and this makes it confusing for both preacher and congregation. The call goes out, “Be an Acts 2 church!” and people cheer, but most churches do not really go out and sell their buildings, ask the congregants to sell their homes, hold daily services in the local shopping mall, make decisions when violent wind rushes through the windows, elect leaders only through gambling, blind anyone with false intentions, and hope not to die by rotting worms. Thus, even the average bible student gets confused when a principle is termed a practice.

Is it good to have the heart of an Acts 2 church? Yes! But, not ONLY an Acts 2 church. Myriads of revealed Scriptural truths came forth in the forty years following early-church inception. Dozens of epistles followed, dozens of new leaders emerged, dozens of doctrines were shaped, and dozens of missteps were corrected, helping to document and mold the intended accuracy of Christ’s bride. Thus, as much as we’re to be an Acts 2 church, we must also be an Acts 3, 4, and 5 church… For that matter, an Ephesian, Colossian, Thessalonican, and Philippian church as well.

How Should the Book of Acts be used?

When studying historic literature of any kind, there are three interpretive rules which help determine which portions of Scripture are meant for historic DESCRIPTION versus which are meant for modern PRESCRIPTION. In essence, how do we know which parts of the Book of Acts are simply historical explanations and which are to be modern practice? When studying, use these:

+ Non-contradiction – Does the selected item of study in the Book of Acts contradict any other teaching within the book or remainder of New Testament literature?

+ Story or command – Does the selected item of study remain in story form or is it commended as action by the author or inspired church leader?

+ Reinforced – Is the word or practice reinforced by the remainder of Scripture, specifically the 21 books of discourse material meant for the modern church age?

In short order, the student should read the passage in question and then immediately compare it to the epistles of Paul, Peter, James, and John, asking three important questions: Firstly, does the practice in question receive further support from the apostles? Secondly, is the practice recommended or refuted for the developing church? Finally, was the practice exemplified in the remainder of early church history? These principles allows us to discern which early church practices continued on (i.e. Great commission evangelism) as opposed to which faded (i.e. a separate Baptism by the Holy Spirit).

Theologians have utilized these principles of interpretation and held a cohesive and non-contradictory view of the New Testament for 1700 years. It is because of these principles that none dared term themselves an “Apostle” for 1800 years. That is, until the New Apostolic Reformation of Bethel Church, IHOP, and Eugene Petersen recently determined “anyone” could become one simply by going to their website to pay $400. Frightening.

The Scriptures are clear that apostles were called and commissioned by Christ as a generation foundational to the early church and all others stand only as buildings atop that foundation (Ephesians 2:19-20). Yet, according to Wagner these men, “are part of a new Christian order, inspired by the G12 movement, to grow discreetly by recruiting pastors of independent congregations, assimilating themselves through cell group meetings, church planting, and rapid cyto-kinesis, making a loosely knit network to dominate the preexisting Christian denominations around the world.” All of this based on the principles of dominionism (peace and prosperity), signs and wonders, apostolic governance, and relational prophecy.

This is precisely the satanic deception that Scripture warns will over-take Christianity in the last days. Peter wrote,

“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. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” (2 Peter 2:1-9, Matthew 7:15, Matthew 24:4-11, 1 Timothy 1:3-11, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Jude 1:4, Revelation 2:18-29)

By following proper rules of interpretation you’ll find the Book of Acts to be a glowing storyline of political, social, spiritual, and ecclesiological intrigue. And, you’ll discern the foundational principles later documented in the epistles meant to confirm optimum practice for the remaining 1800 years of church history. Meanwhile, you’ll avoid the many pitfalls common to 20th century mysticism, which takes a snippet storyline from the bygone era, only to haphazardly infuse it as an excuse to perform whatever form of mania seems to attract an audience.

54 thoughts on “Errors of Bethel & Jesus Culture II

  1. Thanks, Tony, for being willing to speak up for the faith, “once and for all delivered to the saints”. I’m so glad the Lord provided us with His holy Word as His revelation and that we already have “everything pertaining to life and godliness”. Keep up the good work. I think you will have to keep on talking on this subject for a while. It is so needed.

    1. Another article proving its popular to throw stones at the Bride of Christ and be a critic for the sake of pageviews and non controversies. We are called to examine fruit. You surely have never been part of either move of God (Bethel or Jesus Culture). If you had, you would be overwhelmed with the fruit of the their ministry, unlike this post. This post reminds me of pharisees who were critics of everything spiritual and tried to use the scriptures to define what God does and does not do. Who are you to declare what God does not do?

      Beyond that, your critic of the role of apostolic ministry is weak. You conveniently left out chapter 4 of Ephesians —

      (v11-14) “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; UNTIL we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

      Clearly the modern church doesn’t fit this description does it? This post clearly proves that.

      1. So once again…. 4 verses taken out of the whole chapter of Ephesians 4 to support the belief. I guess it’s alright for anyone to take the actual context and meaning of the author the Holy Spirit to explain the “real” meaning.

        I would venture to say that if you were to write a book, (made of words that have a meaning, which make up sentences to explain what you meant, that puts the whole idea in a paragraph and chapter that further expresses your thought), and some one took the very book you wrote and broke it all apart, taking single or groups of sentences to explain what you said you’d be ok with. Never mind that they totally changed your actual thoughts of what you were expressing. You would be to happy would you?

        Why do you do that with God’s Holy writ?

    2. That’s it? Where is your biblical proof that Mr Woods is in error? Do you even read your Bible?

  2. Lol…so glad I have a “relationship” with the Father and not with the letter. I think it’s funny how you people keep trying to disprove something you don’t comprehend and that you fear. You want to sit on the outside and critque and judge something you have no relationship with…Perfect love casts out all fear and to know the perfect love of the Father He requires a real authentic relationship with His Son, Holy Spirit, and Himself. When you create a place in relationship for His Spirit to dwell, nothing less than the supernatural will happen and it will happen in any form Holy Spirit wants. To know Him is not to simply know the scripture, the knowledge of scripture must lead us to a deeper relationship with Him and encounters with Holy Spirit. If scripture never leaves the pages in our lives then our relationship is with the letter…the letter kills but the Spirit brings life.

    1. dude it’s not fear……Having read this I can say this is a very balanced article, along with the other one. I went to Bethel’s lovely “sister” church for 7+ years of my life. At first it seemed so great, until you notice:
      1) All the prophecies they said over the church didn’t come to pass
      2) All the personal prophecies said over you were entirely false
      3) The music was all emotional, it sounded like pop music with “Jesus” thrown in- romanticized God
      4) The messages were all latter rain doctrines, not sound theology
      5) Your family members were still ill (even after receiving prayer from “anointed” people numerous times)
      6) People who you know struggled with sex addiction could go to church every week and not feel convicted of their sin, nor feel a need to talk to a pastor.
      7) The pastor spent 3-4 months out of the year trying to get money from people for the building they couldn’t afford
      8) There was no way you could bring an unsaved friend to visit your church because of the chaos that went on in service. The odds of them hearing the gospel were really low if at all.
      9) In all those years there was only 1 message on hell, and that pastor left.

    1. Experience should never drive doctrine our theology, but rather Scripture alome. Let’s take for example Moses and the magicians. Both did the same wonders but only Moses was a messenger of God.

      If we let other things outside of Scripture dictate doctrine, then we open ourselves to deception. By allowing things like “a special revelation” or a “new way not mentioned in the Bible”, we get cults or religions like Mormonism.
      What maintains the unity of faith isn’t experiences (as each life is different) but the fact that we have the same source of Doctrine which came from God, as His directions to us, called the Bible.

  3. “Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” John 21:20-22. People! YOU FOLLOW JESUS, and stop this divisive talk! Please, don’t argue over opinions. We are brothers and sisters. Peace!

    1. Love your heart of maintaining unity

      However, the Bible does instruct Church leaders to correct and refute error when it sees it (Titus 1:9).

      I didn’t write this letter, but I know that in my own life when I see people behaving inappropriately, I dont try to correct them out of authority or dominion, but I genuinely hate to see people walk down scary roads that can lead them astray. Knowing the author as I do, I’d venture to say his heart is similar and he takes serious his call to protect the sheep God has allowed him to watch over.

  4. The problem with your entire argument is that it is built upon a very flimsy foundation that sounds impressive until you make one simple point. You through Acts to show the unique things that happened and asked if they are happening today…..The Holy Spirit showing up with wind and fire in Acts 2, Paul getting knocked from his horse and blinded during his conversion process, a king dying suddenly from worms, Ananias and Sapphira being killed for lying to the Holy Spirit etc etc.

    Your overall question, simply asked, might be paraphrased as “is this happening today?” Yet, the exact same question could have been asked back then! Only 1 king was immediately judged and killed by worms, there are only 2 reports of people experiencing a mighty rushing wind when filled with the Holy Spirit, only Paul was knocked from his horse during conversion, only one couple killed for “lying to the Holy Spirit” etc etc.

    So even back then the answer to you question would have been the same. The larger point we should take from Acts is that God CAN and DOES do anything he wants at any time in history. It isn’t a rote repetition of the same thing and it never was. We don’t encourage our unbelieving friends to ride horses to that God can knock them off to convert them and neither did people in the book of Acts; we don’t pray that wicked kings get eaten by worms and neither did people in the book of Acts; we don’t insist that God can only bring His Spirit by a mighty rushing wind or only find it to be “real” when it happens in that way. etc etc. This was not the point in the early church and it shouldn’t be the point now.

    By changing the argument, you have made a misleading point. No one ever formalized or normalized these things. Instead an Acts 2 church just believes God can do whatever He wants and that He still acts in the affairs of men to bring about His purposes. An Acts 2 church believes that God gave His gifts to the church for the entire church age. How God chooses to use them in any given moment of history, even during the book of Acts, is up to Him. This no more requires experiencing the exact miracles of God as told in the book of Acts than it did during time about which the book of Acts was being written.

    1. Dear “Bart’s Friend”, I do not have time to touch every comment in the roll but appreciate your time spent in the text. It appears you’ve written and studied much so you’ll likely understand the latin, “Argumentum ad ignorantiam” which you’ve used and which can be a valuable tool in discussion. However, it’s not overtly pertinent here as the original position was not my argument against Acts as normative but in Bill Johnson’s, Peter C. Wagner’s, (and others) position in SUPPORT of “Signs and Wonders” as “normative” proof of true faith (I could quote their many writings but will digress). Thus, it is their statements, utilizing the early church as their proof of apostleship, that must be analyzed. Thanks for sharing!

    2. I CAN demonstrated from Scripture how their interpretation of Joel 2 and Acts 2 cannot possibly be true. (Hint: Peter makes it clear that Acts 2 was the fulfillment then of Joel 2. There is nothing about it left to be fulfilled.)

      1. Peter never said it was a fulfillment of Joel 2 but rather this is what Joel is talking about “16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;” No time limit or restriction on whether it will continue or happen again.

  5. This article made me sad. I truly wonder how God feels when we use his Scriptures to “prove” why God can’t be part of certain movements, events, and even entire congregations. In scripture itself, God’s way of doing things is often bizarre and people often don’t get it. Scripture is extremely important, but remember the people knew Scripture best were unable to recognize God in their midst. In some ways I think we need to make a distinction between God and Scripture. Scripture points to God who we can know and experience outside of the words within. It reveals a God who calls us to faith and isn’t afraid to step out of the box that people try to stuff him into. It makes me sad when Christians have demonized experiencing God. For those who see these miracles as demonic, I would ask that you would be very slow to speak against a brother or sister. I would also be slow to label something as demonic simply because you are uncomfortable with it or have never experienced something before. Jesus did speak about those who attribute the works of God to Satan (Mark 3). God doesn’t typically follow the rules we create for Him. The argument that the things that took place in the book of Acts were unique to them in that time period is faulty. But what about our unique time in history? I agree we can’t assume our churches to look exactly like they do in Acts, but we can assume God is alive and working. God does what He wants. We need to be careful when we take our opinions and strike the Jesus’ Church with them.

  6. Jesus said these things and more “you” shall do. We serve a creative God. So chew up the meat spit out the bones. Don’t get caught up in sensual feelings, that could happen anywhere. Even in your own prayer closet. Get caught up in truth. Don’t take scripture from another mans mouth ever, read it and ask Holy Spirit what it is He’s saying. Important. God is so good! I will not put down life transforming churchs that bring glory to God and people get saved and healed. I will not give glory to man. I will only seek God and and His righteousness.

  7. Thank you for your thoughtful writing. In reference to this statement, “Theologians have utilized these principles of interpretation and held a cohesive and non-contradictory view of the New Testament for 1700 years. It is because of these principles that none dared term themselves an “Apostle” for 1800 years,” please review these links I discovered recently in my research on the NAR movement,
    “The Chief Apostle is the highest minister in the New Apostolic Church, and has existed since 1896.” I believe C. Peter Wagner did not receive divine revelation but “borrowed” much
    from this European apostolic renewal movement which began in the 1830’s.

  8. Thank you Pastor Tony for always being so detailed in your study and presenting the Word of God accurately. Anonymous, why don’t you reveal yourself if you are standing confident in what you are saying. Your opinions are not scriptural and are the only destructive statements I have seen here.

    1. Their are many anonymous people who commented. Not just one. RobJewel I’d respond to mine if you were talking about mine. I am not ashamed. Nor do I completely disagree with Tony’s interpretation of scripture.

  9. As a member of Mission Bible Church, I am so thankful to you, my Pastor, for speaking God’s Word and trying to protect us from error. You do not get on stage to tell us your feelings, but treat His church as holy. You do not claim to be perfect but treat God and His Word as perfect and rely on the Holy Spirit to move and change each person as He allows. I have been apart of different churches that looked great, acted great, and made me “feel” great, because it was centered on Me with god, but I didn’t feel that great in the hard times and I never truly grew in my understanding of Him and therefore stayed immature (at the least). Needless to say, it’s just not about me. It’s all about HIM! There are many, many, people who have died for The Bible and I thank you for not allowing that to be for nothing. Thank you for being our Bible teacher.

    1. I am thank full for this word I want to stay on the straight and narrow and only follow the Lord Jesus Christ this is coming into the church’s so fast , Keep speaking the true and I will do the same with the help of the Holy Spirit.

  10. My heart breaks when people judge and condem other churches for beleifs that don’t match theirs. No matter if you believe in signs and wonders or not we are all the church. Instead of calling what Bethel does as “cultish”, I encourage you to look at their fruits. Is Bethel sinning by casting out demons out of people or healing people from sickneses or are they doing good and advancing the kingdom of God? I’m pretty sure if the devil wanted to start an unorthodox “cultish” movement he wouldn’t base it on the name of Jesus and dramitacly changing people’s lives for the better. The devil comes to “steal, kill, and destory” not to “heal, do good, cause a culture of Jesus.”

    I really hope God can change your view of things, and if not I pray he’ll cause you to feel love towards ALL of the church, even the other denominations.

    1. Dear Anonnymous, I have read your comments and I have three points that I want to make in regards to some of of them. 1), when Jesus speaks about when this world ends, He speaks about a multitude of people that will stand before Him on Judgement day and say, “Lord, Lord, have we not preached in Jesus name, have we not cast out demons in Jesus name, and have we not done many wonderful works (signs and miracles) in Jesus name? And Jesus will say to this multitude of Bible believing people, “I don’t know who you are, depart from me, you that work iniquity (Matt. 7:22,23). When Jesus gives this warning in scripture, how many churches practice this type of service? We better take heed to what is being said here. 2), In Eph 4:11,14, God does have a structure in how the saints are to grow and mature in Christ. This process is through men and women of God teaching in such a way that the saints grow in the “knowledge of the Son of Man,” for the purpose of reaching the full “stature of the fullness of Christ.” Not by way of reading the scriptures on your own in some closet and teaching your self; that is one reason we have so much strife, divisions and contention in the church today. And 3), Jesus instructs us when listening and watching the Christian leaders, “that by their fruit you shall know them” (Matt. 7:20). Fruit in the scriptures are never referred to as SOULS. The FRUIT that Jesus is speaking about is the Fruit of the Spiriit, Gal. 5:22,23. When the Apostle Paul and others in the New Testament speak about “works” or “fruit,” it is always referring to the Fruit of the Spirit. Read Gal. 5:22, and 23 and study each one and know for yourself what each means; then ask yourself if these are living in your life. If not, then you need to find a church that is teaching these and get youur eyes off of signs and wonders. If you don’t have the Fruit of the Spirit living and reigning in your life, then you will not know if the Spirit is living in others. My last point, how can these people say that the Spirit of the Lord speaks through them, when they don’t even know who Jesus or the Spirit is in their teachings?

      1. I always find it interesting that both sides of this argument use Matt7 to justify their position…. Can both be right? Or should we look more directly to the heart of each believer and assume firstly that they love Jesus and have asked Him to be Lord over their life rather than assuming they are mislead and going to hell…. Just a thought

  11. @ Anonymous form June 12th. You must really be disheartened when you read Paul’s letters in the Bible then. Each letter he wrote was correcting something in the Church he was writing to. Even rebuking some people by name. Thankfully he didn’t subscribe to a false unity.

  12. A really interesting article. A few years back I started attending a Christian fellowship here in the UK that became caught up with Bethel, Redding. In fact they sent all of their leaders to Redding, California for reprogramming (sorry, realignment). When they came back the first thing that set alarm bells ringing was the fact that they stopped preaching Jesus Christ. I became so concerned that I started listening again to the recordings of the weekly sermons (just to make sure that it wasn’t just me).
    “Sermons” became 4 or 5 obscure unrelated Scriptures “wrested” together. Lots of mention of rivers, glory clouds and fire. Interestingly the wooden cross at the front of the church got moved into a corner. Then they placed a so-called “intercessor” on a chair in front of it (arm raised) supposedly interceding for the meeting. The artwork being done whilst the meeting progressed also became a little distracting.

    I’m a Bible-believing, charismatic (i.e. non-cessationist) who loves Jesus Christ. As commanded in Scripture, I test everything according to the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:21, 1 John 4:1).
    The Great Commission also includes “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19). I suspect that these Bethelites are just too busy with their Manifestations, tunnel-vision and celebrities to read their Bibles beyond their selected-and-carefully-explained verses?
    Careful and prayerful conclusion: a wrong spirit, wrong gospel and a wrong Jesus (simply tacking His name onto the end of prayers is not enough – see Matthew 7:22).

    Needless to say, I no longer attend this “church” (1 John 2:26-27)

  13. Thank you for these resources! When I left a cult in high school (an AG youth group that practice Bethel-type stuff), I lost a lot of friends but I did not lose my love for Jesus. In fact, I’m experiencing the voice of God in His Word more than ever. I don’t want to depend on my feelings, I want to read His Word and get to know the One who made me more and more each day through the study of His Word. I’m thankful for the gifts as a continuationist and seek to point people to the bible if I ever run across a bethel follower.

  14. God is Love. Number one! Love Love Love He is all about Love! He has also given us free will & desire. If I align myself with Him or become one with Him what will be my biggest desire? Love. Jesus demonstrrated his Love for us by healings, deliverances, miracles & dieing for us, the ultimate showing of love.
    How will you choose to show Love. As for me I want to see healings & deliverances increase until there are no more sick. I know that is Loves desire. Love will not stop at anything He will make sure that continues. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way, it is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged.

    Love will heal!…………………

    1. “As for me I want to see healings & deliverances increase until there are no more sick. ”

      And when do you suppose this ultimately will happen?

    2. An interesting response, Dave. Thank you.

      I’m just wondering how you read Jesus’ words:
      “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline…” (Revelation 3:19)?

      1. Not sure about Dave but I would ask you why you’re asking me that question. Did you feel convicted of your own beliefs? Or is it normal for Holy Spirit to tell you to throw stones at others?

  15. We no longer live under the law. Our lives are governed by your Spirit. And in Him we cry Abba Father, our Saviour, Wonderful Councellor, The Great I am. How Awesome is your Name. We Love you with all our hearts.

  16. “When they came back the first thing that set alarm bells ringing was the fact that they stopped preaching Jesus Christ.”

    I believe this is the heart of the problem with the theology of Bethel. I have a great friend that is a PhD in Greek and teaches at a bible college. Two things he has shared with me. 1) the first time Bill J came to the bible college my friend confronted Bill J on what he spoke and taught. Bill J response led this friend to tell him to his face that, He did not know the scriptures and that what he was teaching was false doctrine and 2) the simple problem is that Bethel does not preach Christ, the gospel.

    I had been caught up in the very things that these posts are about. I taught deliverance ministry, I taught Prophetic Worship, I was involved in the Signs and Wonders (or at least attempting to see them manifested). Thanks to the Glory of God, He showed me the truth through His word.

    Frankly, I think this scripture Matt. 7:22,23 ought to scare the you know what out of any person that says they follow after Christ.

      1. I do not fear my position in Christ. I know who I am in Christ. But then I don’t go around kicking people in the face and yelling “Be healed” or “prophecy” un-biblical words to the masses about tuning fork sounds healing or about other things that are contrary to the Word of God. So I am not fearful of Christ and the Gospel.

  17. Sorry, I hadn’t been here for a while to respond higgster… This is the good news of the Bible, the message of the gospel. It’s the message of the gift of God’s own Son who became man (the God-man), lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sin, and was raised from the grave proving both the fact He is God’s Son and the value of His death for us as our substitute.

    And what is your point? I am not hurling stones at anyone and I am not judging their salvation! I am pointing out unbiblical, unscriptural actions and teachings. Can you give me scriptural basis for these actions that I have mentioned? And I mean basic biblical scripture IN CONTEXT.

  18. I have to admit that my heart is torn.
    20+ years ago i got saved in a pentacostal (AOG) church. It was during a (worship)service. I cried out to God while singing.(long story short) i ended up on the floor in the isle. No one laid hands on. But God gave me a vision. It was of what i believe to be New Jerusilum. Now that night God took a meth addiction from me and my older brother, THAT NIGHT! It was GONE.
    After that. I got baptized (water) immediately(with in a few weeks). Then i began to hear a sweet small “voice” more like a sense of “knowing”. I was told to get a bible(Nkjv) and start reading. But what i noticed caused me to leave that church. First was that the written doctrine was NOT inline with the scriptures. Second was that when people would pray during these special services nothing would happen(spiritual gifts) and the staff began saying things like”i dont know whats wrong with you” etc.. It broke my heart to see people think God didnt love them because they couldnt speak in a tounge.. The motavation seemed all wrong!

    I struggled and was overwhelmed by things that followed in my life. I was spiritually beaten up in my mind and walked away from anything that had to do with the Holy Spirit. I soon fell away from fellowship with God…

    Twenty +years later…God starts calling me..again..that small sweet knowing that i had been ignoring… Let me tell you.
    In this process..I have been more conscience of God and others around me..
    God started to show me small things before they happened(sense of knowing). Then asked me to take a step of FAITH. He told me to quit my job and to trust Him. I did not do it.
    I told my wife what happened. Not a heartbeat later she looked me in the eye and said” then thats what you should do!”
    The very next day..i quit my job.
    That was over a month ago…we lived paycheck to paycheck. My bills are paid. I have LOTS of food in my fridge. I have cash in the bank. And God showed me where i have funds to support my family for at least two more months.
    Now this time…i was worshiping God in my living room with a worship video..i raised my hand to God and i felt a power start to come into my hands. I began to weep then cry as His presence came into me. My hands and arms began to shake as it grew stronger and stronger. Like a vapor slowly comming in filling me up. At one point i begain praising the LORD. and i had to get LOW before HIM! I actually could not get low enough in His presence..My wife and kids had to leave the house to goto a school function. I was supposed to go. However. My wife (who is fearful to drive) left with the kids when my teen son said he heard a voice saying “LEAVE”. My son knew thew were not to stay. So my wife left and drove no problem. Huh…
    Any way. I began to BOLDLY proclaim that the presence of GOD was in the house. Over and over and louder and louder. I was struggling to get lower and lower in the carpet. In my mind i pictured myself under the house in the dirt. I could not be any higher than the dirt in HIS presence. After about an hour He left as He came. I began to realize that i was very weak! I could hardly move.. i rolled over and just laid there.. my whole body was in perfect peace. No pain and it seemed to flow back and forth in me like a river or ripples of water.. only way to explain it.

    I was told two things. I had been found faithful and that i was equiped…. i know. It sounds crazy. Fair enough. Now listen.
    Since kids and my wife are reading the bible. I read the bible. I understand it!!
    I confessed to my wife two affairs. She has forgiven me. We are closer now than ever! God has shown me how if i would have lifted her up and loved her like Christ loves the church then our isssues would not have happened in the first place. I took FULL responsibility in our relation ship going south. Including her attitude.
    I stopped smoking weed. I no longer drink.
    I have been confronted/tempted by people handing me stuff about prosperity gospel. But when i read the scriptures all i see is how Jesus said feed the poor, Isaiah 58..sure pray for stuff but that stuff should be for others! My father will provide my needs. And to focus on MY heart. The fruit of the spirit!! Peace joy kindness etc…Love the Lord with all your heart with all your mind and with all your soul! And love your neighbor as yourself.
    I met a man i never knew. Hes from africa. He spoke of the pain from his family being murdered by the muslims. I began to feel his pain in my gut. I closed my eyes and began to pray. Saying glory glory glory over and over. He dropped to the floor crying. He put his hands into mine. The Holy Spirit gave me what to say in that moment. This grown man cried before God.
    A few days later he explained that i spoke in a tounge he did not understand. But than the spirit of God freed him of fear. He now praises GOD and is strengthened in the LORD.

    My son was going to commit suicide. But now we are closer than ever and hug and praise Jesus.

    This is just a fraction of what has happened in the last 4 months in my life.
    If this is of satan..why do more people praise God and Jesus now because of what happened to me? Why would i care about others? Why would i want to help people? Tell people that Jesus died to free them from sin and bondage? Its the blood of the cross!!

    Gods spirit does move today. But any gifts are ALWAYS for others. We are just a vessel for God to do his will.
    Whats the motivation of your heart? Selfish gain? Or love for others? Love the sinner but hate the sin.
    Cant we all just be about our FATHERS business..

    Check the fruit! A good tree cannot produce bad fruit!

  19. Those Who Dance Are Considered Insane by Those Who Can’t Hear the Music.

    1 Corinthians 4:20 “The Kingdom of God is not of talk but of power”.

    Awesome testimony Rob G. God is so good.

  20. 1 Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
    nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
    2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
    3 He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
    that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
    In all that he does, he prospers.

    4 The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
    5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
    6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked will perish.

    The blessed person is revealed here in Psalm 1 to be one who delights in the law of the Lord (vs. 2), so much so that it (the written record of scripture) is constantly (day and night) in mind (see Psalm 119:11!). No so the wicked! Because the wicked have no root in the scriptures, nor delight for such, they are destroyed away from God’s presence.

    Read Psalm 119. (I mean REALLY read it) Where is the focus on a relationship with God there? It is so simply clear.

    Finally, God is definitely involved in the Bethel movement as is clear from 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 …

    The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    … where scripture says He sends a “strong delusion”. It is God himself who is, in the spirit of Romans 1, giving over those who do not love the truth to false delusions; especially the leadership.

    >>>They refused to love the truth, therefore…condemnation. So what is the ‘truth’ in this context?

    verses 13-15: 13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

    The truth is the gospel. I LOVE the scriptures because in them I see Jesus revealed as my savior and Lord as the ONLY one bringing me to the Father in faith, as my heart is being changed by the word of God. Jesus prayed for my sanctification when He said in John 17:17 – “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”.

    I have personal reasons for praying that the Lord would be merciful and cause many to escape from the false delusion of the gospel being promoted at Bethel by those in leadership and by their disciples and become TRULY blessed followers of Jesus — whose root does not wither, and who TRULY prosper!

  21. Hello All! I just want to say that I came across this article & I find it a good read. I also see some of the back and forth comments… Geeze why the unhearty contradictions, it’s pretty simple, if it’s not supported in scripture in multiple ways, toss it out whether you experienced it or not… Toss it. God is the same Yesterday Today & Forever, Look to the Old Road. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling we all have fallen short & to look to no man… Jesus came to set the captive Free and He is the way the truth and there is a very Narrow RoAd…. I can say that I have experienced much in my life similar to Saul Paul experience, being asked for like Samuel and so God is doing these things still today… Seen and unheard because we are stricken under oppression of money that rules the world to be able to get our testimony out Or we are too consumed with carrying on our Godly Callings in life of Being parents Aunts Sister Worshippers etc etc but Yes these Poor mislead people under witchcraft do need to know that it is a puppet show from non other than the angel of light. No man shoul ever get in a pulpit & tell jokes as an ice breaker… The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom not jokes. And I am talking about you mister Bill who everyone claims you are a man of wisdom, I’m not sorry but the spirit of truth that is active in me discerns that something other wise is twisted in your roots and possibly that work mentioned in Acts but yet this one is eating slow but will eat for eternity. It is not really easy for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Sorry for all those rich leaders who are incapable of relating to the average man and woman. The kingdom of God is very practical. Share, Feed, invite.. Give.. Not take, build, speak in agreement or get out and give to receive blessing.. No the practical kingdom of God is given and not for those who are rich But for the humble and broken hearted. If a man or woman of God is not broken-hearted and caring for what Jesus cares for then it’s all in vain and something else has crept into our church today called deception and very much in an all time height and mentioned that will happen and be apart of the end times…. If you can’t see it clear in scripture then maybe your spiritual eyes have been blinded and are being led by something other than Jesus. He said my sheep know my voice… Just because you hearts voice doesn’t mean it’s His. Work out with fear and trembling your salvation & Cleave to God… Seek and you shall find, ask Him to bring clarity and revelation and repent for looking to man. We are equal none superior, only God. Remove from our wicked heArts of exalting man. Jesus is the only one to exalt. Witchcraft is operating not Jesus I can confirm. Witnessed one conference & that was enough. What I saw in the spirit, I can not mAke this stuff up. Plague entered the room…. And anyone who did not have their eyes fixed on Jesus will perish and die… Jesus is a narrow road do not ever look to man. We must repent and seek the Lord Jesus on this & repent for allowing other spirits to lead us. I care because Jesus is coming back really soon.

  22. Who are you People? This is the most sensible, accurate interpretation of scripture and the history of scripture I’ve read in a very long time. I can’t wait to read everything on this page, I jumped ahead to comment. I’m fascinated by the process of analyzing the way churches interpret the bible and the things they do that are right and wrong. In my backyard take the Lutheran church for example. I love the liturgy. Listening to a pastor sing the liturgy is quite simply beautiful. Then they start preaching about issues the ELCA has decided are important. One thing we know for certain, JESUS LIVES!

  23. The way God showed Himself to my mom and me was in the form of a healing from a life threatening condition. It was then that I knew the is a God who saw us, Who loved us and Who intervened at the right time.
    I have seen God’s healing power at work in my body, in my family, in the lives of people around me. The heart of Jesus is to bring healing to the whole person, spirit, soul and body. Masses came to Jesus, He didn’t reject anybody. He healed people who were ungrateful and didn’t return to thank Him. His heart is healing. I serve a supernatural God.
    I do think it is important to read the whole counsel of God. I encourage my daughters to do that. My daughter with big developmental delays is most shining example. She reads the Bible every year through for many years now. No wonder that her reading help astounds everyone who hears her.

    I am concerned about the school in Bethel. It turns out young people who are very wise in their own minds. I don’t see the fear of God at work. I don’t see them delving into the Word, but just read the books of the pastors.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s