Are Bill Johnson and the New Apostolic Reformation Really Doing Miracles?

18812658_280001122405660_2877473078655320064_nI’ve some friends who know the “signs and wonders” movement pretty well. We’ve seen the backstage planning of a “miracle” crusade, the selection of those to be healed, the bravado in the green rooms, the falsified twitter feeds, the manipulation of youthful naïveté, and even the post event cash-money exchanges behind hotel doors in some destitute third world nation… smoke and mirrors… all of it.

So, it poses the question, is this form of miracle-manipulation part of biblical history? Well, Acts 8 indicates it was:

When Simon saw how the Spirit was given through the apostles’ laying their hands upon people he offered them money with the words, “Give me this power too, so that if I were to put my hands on anyone he could receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “To hell with you and your money! How dare you think you could buy the gift of God! You can have no share or place in this ministry, for your heart is not honest before God. All you can do now is to repent of this wickedness of yours and pray earnestly to God that the evil intention of your heart may be forgiven. For I can see inside you, and I see a man bitter with jealousy and bound with his own sin! [Acts 8:18-23]

Once we realize miracle manipulation was part of biblical history a subsequent question asks if extra biblical revelation and miracle manipulation was part of church history? Again the answer is affirmative. Miracle manipulation has always been around. In fact, dating back to A.D. 156 one can research the assault on orthodox Christianity by a charlatan named Montanus. Montanus came from Asia Minor along with two “prophetesses” named Prisca and Maximilla. His sect of followers insisted that opposition to their versions of prophecy was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and caused many churches to split. Sound familiar?

Medieval charlatans in the church were also famous for evoking “miracles” to enhance their authority, even going so far as to prove their new doctrine of purgatory by “bringing people back” from the dead. Sir Keith Thomas a noted historian at Oxford writes, “The medieval Church thus found itself saddled with the tradition that the working of miracles was the most efficacious means of demonstrating its monopoly of truth.”[1]

The renaissance humanist and Catholic priest Erasmus also spoke heavily against the forms of “ecclesiastical trickery” prevalent in his day. In his brief of stories titled The Repentant Girl he describes the nuns of a convent frightening new members with the appearance of a “ghost,” calling in the priest to “exorcise” a ghost who wasn’t there! He writes, “These are the ones of whom I speak, the ones who find joy in either hearing or telling monstrous lies and strange wonders. They never get enough of such stories, so long as prodigies are recounted, involving banshees, goblins, devils or the Iike.”[2]

In more recent history, signs, wonders, and tongues, have been associated with change of brain state and psychological trauma. Studies have been done linking trance like states and xenoglossy, including possession by the Kalabari spirits of Zulu religion.[3]

Defining “Miracle”

Because the falsifying of miracles doesn’t begin with modern day forgeries like Bethel e8d1fe3bb0fc73d437c406ee28d2e622--catholic-bishops-roman-catholicChurch and the N.A.R. (New Apostolic Reformation) and clearly runs the course of church history, it is important that we begin our assessment by defining what is considered a true miracle vs. what is considered a false miracle. Is a cloud of glitter dust really God’s work? Are falling feathers a sign? Does a dream come from God, a demon, or indigestion? Knowing the biblical definition of a miracle will provide us a foundation or litmus as we study the many egregious acts of historic charlatans and frauds.

For the sake of brevity and fairness let’s use a definition of miracles that could be accepted by a wide range of scholars and churchmen. Biblically speaking, a miracle is an observable phenomenon delivered powerfully by God directly or indirectly though an authorized agent (dynamis) whose extraordinary character captures the immediate attention of the viewer (teras), points to something beyond the phenomenon (semeion), and is a distinctive work whose source can be attributed to no one else but God (ergon). Regarding miracles, the Bible uses the word “sign” (Hebrew oth; Greek semeion), the word “wonder” (Hebrew mopeth; Greek teras), and “mighty work” (Hebrew gburah; Greek dynamis). Most have heard these terms conjoined as “signs and wonders” always used in context of inspiring awe and amazement that (God) or some(one) extraordinary is at work.[4] A simple way of saying it would be a miracle is God suspending, or working counter to, natural laws and personally reaching into life to rearrange people and their circumstances according to his will.[5]

The basis of this definition is that whether we consider a floating axe head (2 Kings 6:6) or water turned to wine (Jn 2:1-11), or a man crippled forty years suddenly jumping up and down (Acts 3), the events were clearly outside the normative laws of nature, including known science, and medicine. Note, this definition does not assert miracles themselves have ceased (a common misapplication by opponents of classic cessationism) but only that what qualifies as a biblical miracle is much more robust than often offered by Third Wave/N.A.R. and many charismatic proponents. Clearly this is not an attack on the supernatural but actually intended to strengthen respect for the supernatural because if we qualify everything as a miracle we ultimately limit the realization and wonder when a real miracle takes place.

Also, observe this definition doesn’t cross into deism – limiting God to “direct intervention” while assuming that his constant providential sustenance of the world is “indirect” or “hands off.” Sovereignty demands God’s eternal decree and continual providential work in, through, and unto His creation (Rom 11:36) meaning that even when He’s not conducting properly defined miracles, the “word of His power” is providentially guiding all things to His perfectly determined end. In essence, God works a miracle by “stilling” the sun in the sky and also works providentially by causing your tax refund to show up at just the right moment!

Based on this accepted definition of miracles, we must immediately admit that many, if not most, of the “miracles” done by modern healers or “prophets” are not really miracles at all. These men and women are not stopping the sun, walking upon water, turning water into wine, or even healing a lifelong ailment instantly. Even if they are infusing a “healing” it is simply God’s providential and precious timing based on prayer.

More importantly, the major defining characteristic of NT miracles was the authentication of the Gospel. Nicodemus acknowledged this to Jesus (John 3:2), the Jews said this about Jesus (Heb 2:4), the Samaritan woman said this about Jesus (John 4:29), the multitudes said this of Philip (Acts 8:6-8), the residents of Lydda and Sharon said this of Aeneas’ healing (Acts 9:35), the disciples practiced this (Matt 10:7-8, 9:35, Acts 8:13). True miracles always pointed to the message of Christ. Therefore if the glory of God and Good News of Christ aren’t clarified or enhanced by a supposedly extraordinary act, it isn’t a miracle of God. Consequently, if it’s not of God, then who is it from?

In summary, true miracles will be outside of (or in opposition to) the laws of nature and always authenticate clear Gospel teaching. Further, miracles need to be properly defined because miracle-manipulation was part of the early church, has existed throughout church history, and certainly creeps into many pockets of modern “name it claim it” theology. Knowing these truths force us to examine the “miracle” claims of Bill Johnson, Todd White, Benny Hinn, Heidi Baker, and groves of the N.A.R. movement along with the tactics and theology used to purvey these claims.

So, is the young drummer at your church really an N.A.R. apostle? Are grave sucking and glory clouds really miracles? Is the glitter from God? Is Beni Johnson really conversing with the angel Gabriel? Are churches like Bethel in Redding really a hub of God’s next great work on planet earth?

The bible provides an emphatic “no.” It’s just another hoax from the enemy.

[1] K. Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic, London, 1971, p. 26. [Note: many scholars believe this is why John Calvin adopted a quasi non-miracle stance]

[2] H. H. Hudson, The Praise of Folly, Princeton N.J., 1970, p. 55.

[3] For more on controversial instances of tongues related to witchcraft and mediums see Craig S. Keener, Acts an Exegetical Commentary (vol. 1), Baker Academic, p. 817. [Note source material]

[4] Mundle, Hofius, and C. Brown, Miracle, Wonder, Sign,” NIDNTT 2:620-35 [An extensive article on NT vocabulary for miracles can be found]

[5] This is an aggregate definition coalesced from modern evangelical theologians i.e. Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, Baker Books, 1998, pp. 431-434. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Zondervan, 1994, pp. 355-375. John MacArthur & Richard Mayhue, Biblical Doctrine, 2017, p. 217

12 thoughts on “Are Bill Johnson and the New Apostolic Reformation Really Doing Miracles?

    1. Wow. Thank you.for the clarity regarding all the hokus pokus out there TODAY!
      If what God’s words say does’nt match what the man says then I’m running in God’s direction!
      I’ve seen and heard it all for years and want nothing to do with the ‘show’!
      God bless you.

  1. I would have to whole heartedly agree with you here. Also, the literary and spiritual writings of the reformationist, Martin Luther are also pertinent to this posting. As far as miracles, wonders and signs – they do have their place and they do have their time, however the overwhelming theme of the NT is the blessed assurance of the return of Jesus Christ. As Christians we are meant to rest in the assurance of His promise and wait (persevere) for His return. Depending on which version of the gospel you read, there are over 350 to 400 references to the second coming of Jesus. This is what Paul taught emphatically to the church. He did not teach Christian believers to seek out miracles, to search out wonders, or rely on healers for healing miracles. Paul taught to have faith in Jesus and to rest and wait for His return. In the present ministry of Jesus for His church – the body of Christ – there are these seven (the number of perfection) relationships:
    1. The last Adam to the new creation
    2. Head of the church – His body and if the head is accepted so must the body be accepted.
    3. Christ is the Bridegroom to the church His Bride.
    4. Jesus is the true Vine and we (believers) are the branches
    5. Christ is the great Shepherd of sheep (believers are the sheep)
    6. Jesus is our High Priest over the church and we are placed into the Royal Priesthood through faith in Him.
    7. Jesus is the cornerstone to the church His building.
    All of the above is scriptural and true from the gospel as taught by Paul who was given and/or entrusted to take the message of the gospel to the gentiles. You see this in Acts as the message of Peter fades after the Jews reject the Kingdom of Heaven for a third time and God brings in the church age through Paul. This is not meant to replace Israel but to place the offer on hold until the church age is complete and then, as if no time had passed, the 70th week will commence.
    As far as who you are in Jesus and the needs you have, review Colossians 2:9-10 – the relationship you have with the Father as a believer goes far deeper than this one verse from the gospel – however, it gives you insight to God’s heart. Colossians 2:9-10 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. You see, you are complete in Christ Jesus who is the fullness of God and through faith in Jesus (the union with Him when you are placed in the body of Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit) you are complete. Jesus is the head and the final authority over everything – therefore if I lack, Jesus is my wealth and I am complete in Him. If I am sick, Jesus is my health and I am complete in Him. If I am addicted, Jesus is my cure and I am complete in Him. Begin to see this picture.
    Romans 5:18 One mans offense judgment came – This is Adam and when Adam fell all of man was placed in the prison of sin. The prison of sin means that there was nothing you did to get placed in this prison and there was nothing you could do to get yourself out of this prison. You were condemned because the federal head, Adam, fell and bent his knee to satan. Therefore, it took God in the flesh, Jesus, who is the only righteous man to come and by His righteous act of sacrifice, He and only He redeemed man and brought the free gift of salvation with justification for all. Through His selfless act, Jesus has placed us in a prison of righteousness. I can confidently state this because it was by Jesus’ obedience that many were made righteous. Therefore, since the act of righteousness by Jesus is greater than the fall of Adam – those who believe and have faith are placed in a prison of righteousness that no matter what you do or how hard you try you cannot escape. Once saved always saved and because it is based on the obedience of Jesus and not you – you can confidently state – Even though I may not be obedient, Jesus is my obedience and I am complete in Him. Remember the covenant with Abram (Abraham): Who was the covenant really with? It was made by God and promised by God who swore on Himself. Abram (Abraham) was merely a benefactor of God’s promise to Himself. This same promise of salvation, justification and righteousness has nothing to do with you other than you being the benefactor of a promise of the free gift of salvation by the sacrifice of Jesus (God in the flesh) and the promise of God the Father. So before you entrust your need, or lack, your deficiency, your addiction, your illness, to a supposed faith healer who is not Jesus – remember that Jesus is the fullness of God and you are complete in Him through your union with Christ Jesus.

    Kind regards,
    J Arnn
    Jewish Studies for Christians

  2. About 10 years ago, a dear friend who was in final stages of parkinsons attended a Bill Johnson meeting and was completely made whole.
    I didn’t believe it at first because there’s so much pomp…showing off…exaggerated claims. But then i saw him.
    He was totally and irrebocably healed. I was speechless.
    I’m not a follower or cheerleader for anf of those guys. But my friend is still alive. 58 years old. Works as a park ranger…
    That I believe

    1. Hey James, I do not doubt for a second that Jesus is willing to heal. Again, I go back to Colossians 2:9-10 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. You see, you are complete in Christ Jesus who is the fullness of God and through faith in Jesus (the union with Him when you are placed in the body of Christ Jesus by the Holy Spirit) you are complete. As believers, we do not need the intermediary priest to channel the healing of Jesus into us when we have been adopted into the Royal Priesthood by Jesus Himself. That’s all I am saying here. Once saved, you are placed into the body of Christ and Christ through the Holy Spirit dwells in you. This purity is not understood by many Christians or Jews for that matter. Many believe that they need someone to act as an intercessor for them for their blessings – this spirit is alive and well in Catholicism unfortunately. The truth is, through the sacrifice of Jesus the veil has been removed and we can boldly go to the throne and rest in the assurance that we are complete in Jesus for all things. This story is echoed in Matthew, Mark and Luke who represent Jesus as Messiah, the Obedient Servant, and Savior. When the leper came to Jesus as Messiah, as Servant, and as Savior, Jesus was willing to heal him. So, for this Jew, it did not matter what role Jesus is depicted in, Jesus was willing to save him and to heal him. However, for the mother who was a Gentile and approached Jesus as a Jew, calling Him the Son of David which represents Jesus as Messiah and King to the nation of Israel, Jesus replied that He had come only for the lost sheep of Israel. In her desperation and wanting her daughter healed, the mother cried out to Jesus as Savior dropping the Jewish pretense and her daughter was healed. My point is, as a believer our position with Jesus is benefactor of the works of our Savior and through that relationship we are complete in Him. This does not take away His status as King over the nation of Israel because He is King also. Therefore, when we are in right relationship with God through Christ Jesus as Savior we become complete in Him. Yes, He is King and Yes He is Servant, but to the believer He is and always will be Savior. I am glad that your friend was healed – but I would state with absolute surety that his healing came from his relationship with Jesus – not through the faith healer. However, the fact that your friend attends or attended that church does not take away from his relationship with God the Father through Christ Jesus. What matters is being in right relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ and that means you believe on Jesus – that is what puts you in right relationship – not your obedience, or your prayers, or your devotion, or any other self work you can think of. The covenant was made by God, promised by God (the oath) for the benefit of all mankind.

      Kind regards,
      J Arnn
      Jewish Studies for Christians

      1. What is the gift of healing, then? You seem to believe that someone could only be healed of their own accord, and not through an intermediary. Didn’t Paul heal? Didn’t Peter heal? Sure, someone could be healed because they prayed to God, but the example of “faith healers” as you put it, is also clearly evident in scripture.

  3. Jesse,

    Of course Paul, Peter and the other disciples were given the power to heal in the name of Jesus for a period of time in order to advance the gospel. After Paul is commissioned by Jesus to spread the gospel to the Gentiles, Peter and the rest of the disciples fade from view as the message of the gospel to the gentiles rises and the message to the Jews fade. This doesn’t mean that God is finished with Israel it just means He has placed the Kingdom of Heaven on hold until the church age is over. And as the message deepens to the Gentile nations we also see healing fade away in preference to the message of Jesus’ return. Paul taught this emphatically much more than healing. No one heals themselves of their own accord and no one needs an intermediary or intercessor other than Christ. When Jesus healed the blind man, do you really think Jesus needed the mud or did it add something that the man felt he needed? If you correctly believe that Jesus is Almighty God, El Shaddai, then one would believe that He need only speak this mans eyesight healed and it would be done. We see this with Lazarus, the woman with the bleeding issue, the leper, the centurion’s servant, the woman at the well and many more. Just like the mud, the faith healer may be what someone needs in order to receive – but it is not really necessary since the separation between you and God has been closed by Jesus. For the Christian believer, unlike the Jew, we are placed into the body of Christ. Jesus is the head of the church and we are the body of Christ. One cannot exist differently. Therefore, as God is pleased with the Head of the Church, He is also pleased with the body – one cannot exist differently. The scripture says that man shall leave his mother and father and join with his wife to become one flesh. This is true of our relationship with Jesus. We don’t just walk with Him we are part of His body – one flesh. Therefore, if Jesus is healed we are healed. We can claim our healing in His name. The church was taught to pray in the name of Jesus and we are assured that God hears our prayers in John 11:41 where Jesus lifted up His eyes and gave thanks to the Lord God saying Thank you that you heard me and you have always heard me. Therefore, when we pray in the body of Christ, God hears us because He always hears Jesus and we are one with Jesus. Ephesians 5:50 tells us we are one with His body of His flesh and His bones. In John 16:23 Jesus shares with His disciples a new truth – one not revealed in the OT – meant for the church, the body of Christ. That whatever you pray in my name (Jesus) you shall have it. This is the prayer for the church – the Lord’s prayer is a Kingdom prayer for the literal Kingdom of Heaven to be on earth and it is for the Jew – the nation of Israel not the church. An example of praying in the name of Jesus is in Acts 3:6 where Peter heals the lame man through the name of Jesus. The healing is there for the lame man, it is his, but he doe not know this, therefore Peter heals him in the name of Jesus but this healing was available to the lame man by his faith in Jesus. So, while there is nothing wrong with faith healing, the faith healer is really Jesus and healing is available to you through him. If you need the mud, no harm. The harm comes from those who prey on the sick, weary and down trodden who are convinced by man that they need to give a seed in the form of money for their blessing or healing. This is truly evil. Jesus does not need your money to bless or heal you – He has a name which is given power and authority over all things including money. Jesus does not need or want your money. Beware of those who request it in the name of blessings or healings. This is very different from tithing. One last point: Since we are placed in the body of Christ and Jesus is the Head of the church and His name is greater than all other names and has authority over all things – so do we. As Jesus is so are we who believe on Him. If, as the scripture states, we are one with Jesus and are placed in Him as one – we are seated as He is. This is the church, not the nation of Israel – they have a different relationship with God than does the church. Therefore, as you are one with Christ, you do not need the faith healer because you are a part of the true healer, Jesus Christ.

    Kind regards,
    J Arnn
    Jewish Studies for Christians

  4. We are called to be the person God created us to be, not being someone else we are not called to be.

    We are called to love one another. We are called to speak the truth in love. We are called to do all things through Christ. For our life is to glorify God. This is also how the world witnessi the grace of God.

    So, let us focus on seeking ‘His kingdom’ and ‘His righteousness’. Let us pray for one another sincerely for we are the light of the world. Let everything that we do or say brings glory to God… and may we never grieves the Holy Spirit.

    “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
    (Philippians 4:8-9)

    May the Lord bless us and keep us. May the peace of God be with us.

  5. Hello,I read your blog named “Are Bill Johnson and the New Apostolic Reformation Really Doing Miracles? – EQUIP THE SAINT” on a regular basis.Your humoristic style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing! And you can look our website about تحميل اغانى شعبى.

  6. This article is complete rubbish.
    You provide no objective evidence against Bethel except a few outlying examples that Johnson has publicly and explicitly repudiated (grave sucking, etc.). You give no clear argument nor provide evidence for fake miracles; nor do you engage the theological paradigm of the miraculous from countless people throughout church history. You clearly don’t understand church history outside of a reformed, MacCarthur position.

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