Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bethel’s Jesus Culture Awakening - Review from Personal Testimony

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Jesus Culture Awakening || Signs and Wonders Discernment, Part 1

(the following is excerpted from John MacArthur's Charismatic Chaos, pp. 106--19)

A miracle is an event in nature, so extraordinary in itself and so coinciding with the prophecy or command of a religious teacher or leader, as fully to warrant the conviction, on the part of those who witness it, that God has wrought it with the design of certifying that this teacher or leader has been commissioned by Him. (Augustus Strong, Systematic Theology, p.,118)

...I believe that all the healings, miracles, signs, an wonders attributed to Jesus in the four gospels happened precisely as the evangelists describe them. I also believe the apostles literally performed all the miracles Scripture indicates.

I also believe that God is always operating on a supernatural level. He intervenes supernaturally in nature and in human affairs even today. I believe all things are possible with God (Matt. 19:26). His power has not diminished in the least since the days of the early church. Certainly salvation is always a supernatural act of God.

...I do not believe, however, that God uses men and women as human agents to work miracles in the same way he used Moses, Elijah or Jesus. I am convinced that the miracles, signs, and wonders being claimed today in the charismatic movement have nothing in common with apostolic miracles. And I am persuaded by both Scripture and history that nothing like the New Testament gift of miracles is operating today.

The truth is, those who claim miracles today are not able to substantiate their claims. Unlike the miracles of the New Testament...the types of miracles claimed, too are nothing like New Testament miracles. Jesus and the apostles instantly and completely healed people born blind, a paralytic, a man with a withered arm—all obvious, indisputable miracles. Even Jesus' enemies did not challenge the reality of His miracles! Moreover, New Testament miracles were immediate, thorough, and permanent. Our Lord and His disciples never did a miracle slowly or incompletely.

When Has God Used Miracles—and Why?

Most biblical miracles happened in three relatively brief periods of Bible history: in the days of Moses and Joshua, during the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, and in the time of Christ and the apostles. [A fourth period of miracles yet to come is described in the book of Revelation]. None of these periods lasted more than a hundred years. Each of them saw a proliferation of miracles unheard of in other eras. Even during those three time periods, however, miracles were not exactly the order of the day. The miracles that happened involved men who were extraordinary messengers from God—Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and the apostles.

Aside from these three intervals, the only supernatural events recorded in Scripture were isolated incidents. …

The reality is that though there were three eras of miracles, the first two were not like the third. The age of Christ and the apostles was unique. Nothing in all redemptive history even came close to it in the massive volume of miracles that occurred....When the New Covenant truth came and the New Testament Scripture with it all at once in one brief half century, God unleashed authenticating signs as never before. There had never been a time like it and there is no reason to assume there will be again.

All three periods of miracles were times when God gave His written revelation—Scripture--in substantial quantities. Those doing the miracles were essentially the ones heralding an era of revelation.

...Through miracles God repeatedly authenticated the messengers of His new revelation—in the time of Moses and Joshua, in the time of Elijah and Elisha, and in the New Testament times of Jesus and the apostles.

When the Old and New Testaments were complete, God's revelation was finished. (cf. Heb. 1:1-2). Through many signs, wonders, and miracles, God authenticated His Book. Is there an ongoing need for miracles to substantiate God's revelation? Can anyone with faith “claim” a miracle, as some teach? Does God do miracles on demand? And do the phenomena being hailed today as signs, wonders, and healings bear any resemblance to the miracles performed by Christ and the apostles?

The answer to all those questions is no. Nothing in Scripture indicates that the miracles of the apostolic age were meant to be continous in subsequent ages. Nor does the Bible exhort believers to seek any miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit. In all the New Testament epistles, there are only five commands related to the believer and the Holy Spirit:

“Walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25)
“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30)
“Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18)
“Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19)
“[Pray] in the Spirit” (Jude 20)

There is no command in the New Testament to seek miracles.

Jesus Culture Teachings Repudiated: Assemblies of God Rebuke Bill Johnson and Banning Liebscher's Teachings

The following is from a Position Paper of the General Prebytery of the Assemblies of God: “Endtime Revival–Spirit-Led and Spirit-Controlled A Response Paper to Resolution 16”

Deviant Teachings Disapproved
..The Assemblies of God cannot control false doctrine and practices outside its own constituency. But it does encourage its members to exercise extreme caution and avoid the abuses that discredit and bring shame on the cause of Christ. We do not wish to disfellowship sincere believers who unknowingly slip into excesses—if they are teachable and listen to the discerning judgment of the body of Christ with which they choose to identify....

God is certainly moving in the hearts and lives of people desiring His presence and praying to see His power changing lives and reclaiming that which Satan has stolen or destroyed. But along with the genuine move of the Spirit often come teachings and practices which, if not discerned and corrected, will turn the genuine move of God into shallow and misguided emotional displays. Within teachings that add to or depart from biblical truth, there is usually a kernel of truth that gets buried under the chaff of human additions and unusual interpretations of Scripture. 

Though we dare not inadvertently quench the Spirit’s work in changing lives and calling the church back to its first love and passion, we must speak out with words of caution when departure from Scripture threatens the ongoing life and stability of local churches....

The following teachings all have an element of truth in them, but as currently taught they are plagued with misleading and unbiblical elements and should be carefully avoided. In some instances a word or phrase is taken from Scripture, so it has the sound of biblical authenticity, but the application is a human creation rather than biblical truth. Many of them are appearances of earlier departures from biblical truth, and in the future they could resurface as supposedly new revelations with different names....

  • The overemphasis on identifying, bestowing, or imparting spiritual gifts by the laying on of hands and naming, supposedly by prophecy, specific gifts.

The spiritual gifts are gifts of the Spirit, distributed as He “gives them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Corinthians 12:11). When the Spirit empowers the gift He bestows, there is no need for anyone to assume the Spirit’s role. As the Holy Spirit inspires the operation of the gifts, the identification and confirmation will be obvious to all without assistance from humans who would share some of the glory. The greatest tragedy of such a practice is a misguided human prediction, appearing to be a prophetic utterance, that leads a believer to expect abilities and an enduement he may never have.

Paul says that gifts were bestowed through the laying on of hands (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6),
but the biblical record neither names a specific gift Timothy received nor implies that Paul or elders had imparted the gift. The Holy Spirit bestows the gifts, not the minister who prays the
prayer for empowerment. Caution in naming specific gifts is advised until the Spirit confirms such a prophecy by the supernatural manifestation of the promised gift.

  • The problematic teaching that present-day offices of apostles and prophets should govern church ministry at all levels
It is very tempting for persons with an independent spirit and an exaggerated estimate of their importance in the kingdom of God to declare organization and administrative structure to be of human origin. Reading in the Bible that there were apostles and prophets who exerted great leadership influence, and wrongly interpreting 1 Corinthians 12:23 and Ephesians 2:20 and 4:11, they proceed to declare themselves or persons aligned with their views as prophets and apostles.

Structure set up to avoid a previous structure can soon become dictatorial, presumptuous, and carnal while claiming to be more biblical than the old one outside the new order or organization. Proponents of apostles/prophets leadership stop too soon in their reading of the Ephesians 4 passage, overlooking the high calling of every office and minister of the Church: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longerbe infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will inall things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:11,12, italics added).

In Ephesians 2:20, Paul is talking about the historical fact of Jews and Gentiles having come together
to form the Church. The aorist participle in verse 20 is best translated “having been built upon the
foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone”—a past
occurrence. The reference to apostles and prophets in Ephesians 3:5 speaks of their role in recording the inspired Scriptures as a past occurrence. The leadership of the local church, according to the Pastoral Epistles, is in the hands of elders/presbyters and deacons. These are the last of Paul’s epistles.

There is no indication in these last writings of continuing offices of apostles and prophets, though the ministry functions still continue. Prophets in the New Testament are never described as holding an officially recognized position as in the case of pastors and evangelists. They spoke prophetically to the body for edification and admonition.

When they prophesied under the inspiration of the Spirit, their ministry was noted. They could indeed have been called prophets without designating them as filling an office. A self-proclaimed prophet who dropped into a local church setting would certainly have been suspect until he was better known. And to guard against such abuses, Paul taught that all prophetic utterances should be tested by the Body (1 Corinthians 14:29).

The humility that Paul taught and modeled should be a primary character trait of every spiritual
leader. We affirm that there are, and ought to be, apostolic- and prophetic-type ministries in the Church,
without individuals being identified as filling such an office. ...

  • The practice of imparting or imposing personal leadings by means of gifts of utterance.

Instances of Spirit-prompted personal advice, contrary to common sense yet definitely of divine origin, are so infrequent that recklessly giving personal prophecies soon becomes an abuse in the body of Christ. Though Paul and Barnabas were rightfully set apart by the Holy Spirit for an unspecified work (Acts 13:2), the two still had to hear the Spirit’s direction for their specific assignments. Their call was heard by the gathered believers while worshiping and fasting, and all present, including Paul and Barnabas, were obviously persuaded that it was indeed the Spirit speaking. If the “prophesied” words are from , the Holy Spirit will also confirm the reality to the heart of the one set apart for the Spirit’s work.

  • Kingdom Now or Dominion theology
The thought that God’s kingdom can come on earth with a little help from humankind is intriguing to those who advocate this approach to impacting society. Rather than scoffing at the promise of Christ’s imminent return (2 Peter 3:3,4), this errant theology says that Jesus will not return until the Church takes dominion of the earth back from Satan and his followers. By taking control, through whatever means possible, of political, ecclesiastical, educational, economic, and other structures, Christians supposedly can make the world a worthy place for Christ to return and rule over.

This unscriptural triumphalism generates other related variant teachings.
  • Manifest Sons of God and Joel’s Army
 These are some of the names used to describe those who have caught the vision of the Kingdom Now and are actively at work seeking to overcome the opposition and declaring Christians who hold a biblical understanding of Christ’s imminent return at any time to be cowardly for not joining the “anointed,” as they sometimes call themselves.

Without question, the Old Testament Book of Joel includes many endtime references. But the great and powerful army in Joel 2 is one of terrible locusts, an instrument of judgment on Israel. After Israel’s repentance, the army of locusts is destroyed by the Lord. Only after this destruction of the instrument of judgment does the promised revival come. “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (Joel 2:28). It is a complete misinterpretation of Scripture to find in Joel’s army of locusts a militant, victorious force attacking society and a non-cooperating Church to prepare the earth for Christ’s millennial reign.
  • Spiritualizing Biblical Events and History
There is certainly nothing wrong with finding parallels between historical biblical events and the application of biblical truth to life today—for edification and encouraging spiritual growth. But when those events are forced into a strained application of endtime events, thinking Christians should be on the alert. The Bereans of Acts 17:10,11 were commended because they “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things [that Paul was teaching] were so.”
A teaching announced as the revelation of a new truth should be checked out very carefully. Pentecostals have become accustomed to anointed and dynamic preaching. But hearing a teacher speak with authority and self-confidence does not make the teaching true. It must always line up with Holy Scripture. Personal charisma is no substitute for biblical authority.
  • The Prosperity Gospel.
The preaching of a prosperity gospel has increased giving to some programs, both legitimate and less than legitimate. God does bless faithfulness, but the blessing is not always financial gain. There are spiritual principles of sowing and reaping, but to draw money from the poor to support an affluent personal lifestyle is unconscionable. If we one day will have to give an account of every idle word tthew 12:36), it seems reasonable that we will have to account for every dollar solicited by dubious methods. A biblical teaching should be applicable in every neighborhood, culture, society, and country of the world.

Jesus Culture Awakening Teaching: A False Christ

We know certain foods may harm a man's body even to the point of death, but doctrinal error harms the soul and in some cases to the point of death. In the case of a conspiracy to poison the meal of a King the culprits are sought out and put to public trial that others who might consider such a conspiracy may fear. Likewise, in the area of teaching in Christ's Church the disseminators of error need to be arrested through Biblical rebuke, equally public and fear-creating (1 Tim 5:20). With that said I proceed.

The Book "When Heaven Invades Earth" and Its Christology Described

Let me start by saying what I liked about Johnson's book, yeah that's right I can be a nice guy sometimes. I appreciated particularly Johnsons' watered down postmillenial optimism, yeah it wasn't full blown postmil but I'll take it given the American church is by and large just waiting to get raptured out of here like refugees waiting for a helicoptor airlift out of a war torn country. So, I liked that. Johnson also has a heart to see the kingdom of God advanced on earth, and on that at least we agree...when it comes to describing what the Kingdom looks like and how it is to be advanced is where we would undoubtedly go our separate ways.

So what's my beef? To be blunt, I find the book to be very dangerous, because the book is filled to the brim, nay, to overflowing with dangerous error, twisting of scriptures, and most dangerous of all the book is very winsome. Also, on a more personal note, this book, and Johnson's teaching, has influenced many brothers and sisters who are dear to me I fear for the worse. Now, with that said, what exactly is Johnson getting at in his book? Well essentially it is this, that the life of signs and wonders is to be normal. The book is supposed to serve as a sort of field guide for "living in the supernatural". In short, the supernatural isn't supposed to be so super any more.


Error in Jesus Culture Teaching


As I read Johnson’s book [Heaven Invades Earth], I noted the various errors in it by category. At the end of the process the largest number of entries was under “anti-scholastic bias.” Johnson is firmly against careful scholarship based on sound exegesis of Scripture. To him, such study is likely to bring one into bondage and spiritual death. Sadly, this bias is widespread in current evangelicalism, but Johnson is quite blatant in his rejection of scholarship.

Johnson claims, “For decades the Church has been guilty of creating doctrine to justify their lack of power. . .” (Johnson: 116). It is hard to imagine what “problem” he is reacting to when most of our evangelical educational institutions are committed to postmodern mysticism, with their heroes being mystics like Dallas Willard and Richard Foster. It is hard to find a Bible college or seminary that does not promote “spiritual formation,” which is merely a fancy term for Roman Catholic mysticism. Yet Johnson decries the presence of doctrine. We will see later just how willing he is to depart from orthodox doctrine.

He resorts to an often misused passage that promotes his anti-scholastic bias: “A powerless Word is the letter not the Spirit. And we all know, ‘The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life’” (Johnson: 116). This twisting of Paul’s meaning in 2Corinthians 3:6 has a long history of use to promote subjectivism and mysticism. The false implication is that studying the Bible will kill you spiritually. The context shows that Paul was speaking of the letters written on stone (verse 3), meaning the Decalogue. Paul explains how the law “kills” in Romans 7:5, 6. It kills because of our sinful passions that it exposes, not because it is studied for what it means.[3]

For example, does “you shall not steal” have some secret, mystical meaning that can only be assessed by certain elite persons with subjective spiritual impressions, or does it mean what it says? It means what it says. But to truly live as a person who is free from the sin of stealing we need the grace of God that comes through the gospel. In 2Corinthians 3, Paul is speaking of those who have the Law but reject Christ. Bill Johnson is warning Christians that studying the Bible will kill them. In so doing he abuses the passage and lowers the value of Scripture in the minds of his readers.

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