The Gospel and the Jehovah’s Witnesses (Intro)

 

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As Christians we are burdened and tasked with the great privilege & duty of sharing the life-giving Gospel. We have to share it wherever God places us, and with whoever God puts in our path.
It perhaps used to be the case that the Christians on the Island wouldn’t normally come into contact with people of other beliefs until they left the Island for education or for work.
The reality now is that walking around Stornoway you can now come into contact with at least five other major religious beliefs.

If we are to engage with those from other faiths, and share the Gospel with them, it makes sense for us to understand how they understand God/ salvation/ sin/ mankind etc.
Otherwise we will find ourselves talking past each other and not really getting anywhere!
We might begin talking to someone about salvation through Jesus alone, we might agree with each others main points, only then to find out that they think Jesus is not the eternal Son of God, rather he is a mere created being – produced by God the father and one of his many celestial wives (as is generally believed by the LDS Church (the Mormons).
We have to do the hard work, we have to prepare and study hard – most JW missionaries (the ones knocking on your door) pour hours of study each week into how to share their gospel with you.

There are a few warnings to take note of before we continue:

– I would not advise or suggest that new Christians or Christians who are going through a hard time in their walk should engage in this type of study. It is essential to have a good grasp of what you believe, before you begin to engage. You are dealing with something that is truly dangerous and that requires the full armour of God. It is never purely academic, this is real spiritual warfare.

– Before you begin any form of study into other religions, start by reading Scripture,  worship, and prayer. Pray that God would keep you safe from what you are about to study. You might accuse me of being far too cautious or dramatic, but we have to be mindful that when we are dealing with false beliefs and sects we are dealing with evil, we are studying ideas and thoughts that have come from the enemy of God.
We should prepare ourselves accordingly.

– Our study of other beliefs should never overtake our own personal devotional life and study. There is always a real danger that we dedicate too much time and thought to the study of these things, and let our own spiritual walk suffer.

– When we engage with those caught up and blinded in other beliefs we have to remember that once we were just and blinded as they still are, that the same God who opened our eyes to the glorious truth is more than able to do the same for them also.

Originally this was going to be more wide ranging, but with the recent increase in activity on the Island from the Jehovahs Witnesses (JW’s) I thought it might be best to take the time to look at what they believe and how we might engage them with the Gospel.
They are currently building a new Church in Stornoway, when it is completed this will more than likely mean that more JW families will move to the Island. What an incredible Gospel opportunity this gives us!
They come to ur doors, let’s be ready to listen to them, to talk with them, and to share with then the true life giving and life saving Gospel.

Upcoming posts:

1- JW Beliefs Basics 1
2- JW Beliefs Basics 2
3- The Most Common Passages
4- Sharing the Gospel 1
5-  Sharing the Gospel 2
6- What we need to Know

 

As always, comments & thoughts always appreciated.

 

 

Bethel: A man-centered gospel

[< CLICK HERE TO READ THE INTRODUCTION]
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[Note: This is not an attack on the beliefs of my Charismatic Brothers and Sisters, although we differ – our differences are secondary issues. The issues addressed here are something completely different to normal Charismatic church practice. A different Gospel is being shared here. I do apologise for not making this clear when I first posted this.]

This is going to be a long one folks, but please take the time to read it carefully. Go make yourself a cup of tea &  grab some biscuits and let’s tackle this together.

Quotes are taken mainly from Bill Johnson (B)[“When Heaven Invades Earth”] and Kris  Vallotton (V)[“School of the Prophets”], as well as material from various Bethel sermons and this article in Charisma Magazine.
Bill and Kris are essentially the main leaders in Bethel. It’s a bit of a long history, but essentially Bill & Kris and their spouses are heavily involved in the leading and teaching of Bethel.

I have tried to approach this academically as possible, displaying the evidence and letting you, the readers, decide for yourselves how Biblical the teachings of Bethel really are.
As a younger believer, I was taken in by this teaching, I believed most of it – I tried to offer prophecy, I believed I could speak in tounges etc.
To the praise of God, he took me out of that, and I left it all far behind me.
I recently took the time to read and re-read several of their books, and listening to countless sermons and lectures, it has been a real struggle. To be honest, my soul is hurting, hurting as I have seen the wonderful Gospel completely tarnished and twisted for nothing else than monetary gain and pride. A gospel of Self, Want, and Me; being so widely propagated in the place of the real truth that it is all about God, and not about us.

You might well say that this is an exaggeration, that they do proclaim some truth. I won’t disagree with you, much like the proverbial broken clock, they do hit on some Biblical truths every now and then.
Let’s not forget that the devil often comes as an ‘angel of light’, half-truths packaged as the pure truth have lead many to eternal destruction.
‘A spoonful of truth helps the false-teaching go down…’ – and oh, how much I wish this was only Mary Poppins level makebelieve.

Me, Me, Me

As you delve into the sermons and literature from Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton, the truth is that the standout feature is a theology that is simply not God-centered, but it is purely focused and based on man:

In redeeming man, Jesus retrieved what man had given away … We were then to be completely restored to His plan of ruling as a people made in his image. And as such we would learn how to enforce the victory obtained at Calvary…

It carries on:

We were born to rule-rule over creation, over darkness-to plunder hell and establish the rule of Jesus wherever we go 
[B,pp.32-33]

The first sentence seems like it could be heading in a good direction, if it had defined what man had given way was his standing before a Holy God, then we could move on quite happily.
But no, instead we are told that what we gave away was our place as a “ruling people” – in fact, that we were made to rule over creation (not even going to go into the Mormonism alarm bells that statement rings). Not only creation, but also darkness, and to “plunder hell”, whatever that actually means? [Rom3:23]
Yes, we were made to have “dominion over the earth”, but that is where our territory and ruling ends. At best we are here as caretakers of God’s creation, to look after it, not to rule over it. [Gen1:28]

Jesus did not redeem us so that we could regain our rule on the earth, this is not just missing the target, this is not even firing the arrow.
We’ll touch on this more in a second, but Jesus came (as far as our redemption is concerned) to save “a people for  himself”, so that he would save his people, bear the punishment meant for them, wash them clean,  forgive their sin, and one day take them home to himself. Nothing to do with us ruling over anything, it is all to do with His incredible work.
[1Pet2:9/ 1Pet2:24/ Jhn14:3]

This next quote is  a question from the devotional book that is for use with “When Heaven meets Earth” (I have it on Kindle, so cannot give a page number, it’s found in ‘Day 3’) :

Who do you relate to the most, Gideon or Peter? What ability do you find in Jesus that makes up for you inability?

I’ll be honest, this question really did hurt. It further confirms and helps to summarise the attitude that is found towards Jesus in much of this teaching. Ultimately he is some great vending machine that will provide us with what we are lacking. Like a wee kid asking Santa for presents we come to Jesus to fulfil for us what is lacking in our life.
The Gospel truth is that I am totally and completely unable to do anything, ANYTHING. I don’t come to Jesus hoping he’ll help me with the gap in my otherwise sorted life. I come to Him as He is the only one who provides us with all our ability, all our meaning, and all our purpose.
[Col2:10/ 2Cor12:9/ Jhn14:27]

We can now tackle one of the saddest and untrue statements I’ve ever read:

Likewise, salvation was not the ultimate goal of Christ’s coming…Without accomplishing redemption, there was no hope for the ultimate goal-was was to fill each born again person with the Holy Spirit. [B,pp.69 ]

I had to take a break after reading this section, it is nothing short of a simple lie. This is not some minor difference in point of view. No, this is simply going against very clear Scripture, we can go through a whole list of passages, for example:

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” – 1 Timothy 1:15

&

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:10

We could look at pages more of biblical quotes all saying similarly. When your teaching is directly in opposition to the clear words of Christ, something has gone badly wrong.
The beautiful message that Jesus came to save us from our sin, that any who come to him will be saved, twisted into meaningless words.
This shocking lie is simply just a continuation of our point , that ultimately it’s all about us. All done so that we may benefit in the here and now. When in  reality, it’s all about God and his glory.

JESUS THE MIRACLE MAN?

The following two quotes are from Johnson (I added the underline), the first from the Charisma magazine article that he wrote (2014), and  the second from his book (2003):

While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divine powers and became a man (see Phil. 2:7). It’s vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God. 

If He did them as God, I would still be impressed. But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us.

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He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God…not as God. If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us.

Whilst Johnson claims that he believes that Jesus is eternally God, he then goes on to contradict himself in the same sentence by stating  that Jesus emptied himself of all his divine powers, that he achieved all he did on earth as a man, and not as God.
He uses Phil2:7, to back up this incredible claim. What we are about to see is nothing short of a master class in twisting Scripture.
Let’s see this verse from Philippians placed in the context of the verses that surround it:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, by taking the form of aservant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,even death on a cross.

These verses are from a wonderful section in Philippians chapter 2 (v5-11), where Paul is writing to the Church and is really bringing them back to the basics of their faith.
He explains to them that in order for Jesus to come to earth he had to become like us, he had to be born as a man. Now Johnson here claims that when Jesus did this he completely “emptied himself of his divine powers”. In the context of these verses, is this really what Paul was trying to say?
No, of course not, it’s clear from the second half of v7, that Jesus emptying himself is nothing to do with somehow losing his “divine powers”, instead it is all to do with him humbling himself. The NIV perhaps offers a clearer translation of the verse:
“he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
In v.8 we this being confirmed to us, he was found in human form, he felt our emotions, he felt pain, he felt and experienced the world as we do (all without sinning). But he was ‘fully human and fully God’, he did not, for once second, ever ‘loose’ any of his power. He never ceased being God. To say otherwise is go against clear Scripture [click here for a further explanation] For further study, look into “Kenosis Theology”.

So why would Johnson even begin to sate anything otherwise? Well as he said:
“If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us.”
Because Bethel teaches that we can all still perform miracles today, to agree that Jesus did all that he was able to do because of his divine power; well, that sort of ruins the self-worship party a bit.

So instead the alternative narrative has to be created, one where Jesus acted as just a man, implying that if we try really had we can one day become like him in all our works.
Again here we see the core of all Bethel teachings, that we are so amazing that we can even perform miracles like Jesus did.
Even the newest Christian understands that we do not have the power that Jesus has, to even entertain that thought is nothing sort of complete senselessness.
He is, was and always will be God, never losing or letting go of His divine attributes for one second. [Hebrews 13:8] If He did He would no longer be able to be called God, and His work, and ultimately our salvation, would all be totally meaningless.

My friend, has your soul sunk as you are reading this, does this not just hurt so much? The perfect work of our perfect Saviour being lost in the confusion of man-made beliefs, that do nothing but hide the true Gospel from eyes and ears  that desperately needs to see and hear it.

SIGNS AND WONDERS

Bethel are perhaps best known for the supernatural goings-on that they claim happen on a near daily basis. I have struggled on how best to do this section, I think the best way is to simply share with you the evidence and you can judge for yourself the validity of their claims. I will link a wide variety of videos, images and quotes – just to give you a taste of what goes on.

It does not take any level of Biblical maturity to see these miracles, signs, and prophecies for what they really are. Not one of these videos, quotes, images have any Biblical backing and are purely man-made creations.

I leave these here for you to watch and come to your own conclusions, compare what is being shown and said to the simple Biblical teachings.


A Bethel Fire Tunnel
Fun story: As a younger Christian I was quite keen on the teachings of Bethel, and sometimes attended a Church that promoted their teaching and beliefs. I went once to C.L.A.N., and there I experienced a Fire tunnel. In fact, I was prophesied over: “Your smile will bring joy to the nations” – Yup, never did follow my career dream as a travelling nomad dentist…

“Why are they jumping around like that?”, to be honest I have no idea. Whatever else it may be, it is definitely not the Holy Spirit.
This video explains one possibility. I am not saying I agree with it 100%, but it is certainly interesting.


Leg growing ‘miracle’ at Bethel

What’s happening here? Think of it like playing “I’ve got your nose” with a kid, expect it’s a leg, and it’s making a total mockery of God.


‘God’s glory’ appearing in Bethel (as glitter?)

Here is Bill Johnson further explaining  this ‘miracle’
Yeah, the creator of the universe and all that it contains, the one who numbers the stars, and who knows the very hairs on our head, decided to show up in Bethel, as some glitter coming through air-vents. God’s glory is not something that gets swept up and binned at the end of the night. They also experience feathers from the “wings of God” (no, not joking) and money also falling from the ceiling.


 Grave Soaking

Necromancy


Seriosuly, I’ve got nothing to say, quite simply “Eh?”


I heard a strange noise, and I opened my eyes just in time to see Jesus walk through the wall and stand in front of me! I sat up in the tub with a sense of awe surging through my being like electricity. I looked up into His face, and I could see the world in His eyes. Then, to my surprise, He began to speak to me.
“I have called you to be a prophet to the nations. You will speak before kings and queens. You will influence prime ministers and presidents. I will open doors for you to talk to mayors, governors, ambassadors and government officials all around the world. You will be a father to many nations, and you will guide many nations into prosperity, freedom and peace. I will put My words in your mouth, and the nations will know that there is a God in heaven who loves them, leads them and guides the affairs of men!”
The vision lasted for about half an hour as Jesus told me many other things that would happen in my life. I sat there in the tub, speechless, my mind swirling with thoughts, while my heart trembled with some sort of awesome fear, excitement and wonder all mixed up into one tumultuous emotion.
Finally, the Lord turned His back toward me to leave the room. Then He suddenly stopped, turned back around and pointed right at me. He said in a serious tone, “History will tell us if you believe Me!” A moment later He was gone.
– Kris Vallotton, School of the Prophets, pp.23.

Can’t find Scripture to back-up your teaching? No worries, according to Kris he hears dorect from Jesus anyway.



Someone should really tell John the Baptist, “He must become greater; I must become less.” – John 3:30
…me, me, me, me, me, me, me… ad infinitum


This is from Beni Johnson, Bill’s wife. She deserves a whole other series of posts, dedicated to her varied completely new age/mystical/spiritual teachings.


We could continue looking at these posts for a hundred more pages, they are all taken from their own official Facebook pages. I hope this gives you an idea of the pure nonsense that is created and shared as wonders and miracles from God.
At best they are nothing more than pagan/new age quotes and cheap magic tricks, at the expense (sometimes literally), of needy souls.

IN CONCLUSION

Firstly, if you’ve managed to stay this far, well done. I almost gave up halfway when writing it, so gold star for you!

How can we summarise what we have just seen? The sad reality is that I have barely scratched the surface, there are so many other areas of teaching that I have not even touched.
What we have looked at is  quite simply not the Gospel, what Bethel offers is, at best, a completely distorted version of the Gospel. It does not portray Jesus as He portrays himself, instead, they have made Him into nothing more than a means to an end. That end being our own benefit and glory.
The true Gospel is that Jesus came to save us from the destruction that we had created for ourselves, to bear the punishment for our sin, to wash us clean, to make us His people. He did not to come to make us a better version of ourselves.
I short, if you are involved with the teachings of Bethel, please stop. It is not teaching  the Gospel, it’s not even teaching anything close to the Gospel. It is teaching a man-centered theology that appeals to the ego, and that does not glorify God.
Like all other false teachings, because they are manmade, they are ultimately man-centered.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!10For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. – Romans 5:8-11

If you have been involved with this teaching and want to share your story, get in touch via “beholdourshield@outlook.com”, completely anonymous.

Bethel Church: The Sad Reality (Introduction)

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“Error, preached as truth, has contributed to the delusion of multitudes who are lost”
– Iain H. Murray

The Church today (as has been the case since the beginning) faces attacks from all angles. We can easily see the attacks of those from the outside, the attacks of atheists and from other religions. These attacks do require our attention, we must defend the Gospel and it’s wonderful truth.
The truth is though, that we often are blind to the most dangerous attacks of the enemy, those that come from ‘within’, from those that call themselves brothers and sisters, but that follow after a very different gospel. [Matt7:15]

False teaching is often hard to spot, and often when it is spotted those who are opposed to it are accused of lacking in love.
False teaching often starts small and slow, but gradually gains traction, until it clouds over the true Gospel message; and instead replaces it with a nice, shiny, man-made replica, that will please many, but saves none.

We, out here in the remoteness of the wild Atlantic, are not any safer than the rest of the church. As far as I can see, one of the biggest dangers facing the church today,  especially us younger Christians, are the teachings of Bethel Church and Jesus Culture (the “global movement” which shares the false teachings via undeniably catchy tunes)

Bethel (as we will look at in the next few posts) teach a gospel, that initially sounds like the real deal, but once you dig even a little into what is being taught, all that you see are old false-teachings, repackaged, rebranded and shared as the true life-giving Gospel.

DISCLAIMER
This is not an attack on any churches or individuals, I will only mention by name the Church of Bethel and those that are its main leaders and teachers.
I am writing this for no other reason that it is with deep sadness that I see the Gospel message being compromised and replaced by an inferior, man-made and man-centric message that twists  the words of God.
I have no special qualification to write this other than I share in the words of Calvin:
“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent”.

You may well disagree with what I am about to say, and that is fine. But I do please ask you before you dismiss what is said. Look and see if I have fairly portrayed the teachings of Bethel, and if so see for yourself how they compare to the Biblical truth .

Rather than deal with a wall of text, we can split it up into 5 separate posts, which should be posted in the coming couple of weeks:
1- The teachings of Bethel
2- Bethel Church: it’s impact and reach
3- The true Gospel