‘The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind, or, Rightly Handling the Word of Truth?’ A note on Bill Johnson’s teachings…
The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind, or, Rightly Handling the Word of Truth?
By Kevin Moore
(article provided by Mark G. Judy)
Who was Jesus Christ – was He just an ordinary man?
Wayne Grudem says that, “Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man in one person, and will be so forever.”
Christs virgin birth shows salvation comes from the Lord and made possible the uniting of full deity and humanity in one person and enables Christs humanity to be without inherited sin.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Gal.4:4-5). The full humanity of Christ is seen in that he experienced all human weaknesses and limitations of having a human body, mind, soul and emotions; yet He was without sin:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:15-16)
Jesus full humanity enables Him to accomplish our representative obedience:
“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one mans disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one mans) obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Rom 5:18-19)
Jesus full humanity enables Him to be a substitute sacrifice for us:
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. ” (1 Tim 2:5)
The incarnation was the act of God the Son whereby He took to himself a human nature:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Christ’s deity is seen as follows:
– He is called God (John 1:1; 20:28);
– He is called Lord in ways which indicate His divine nature (Luke 2:11);
– He also referred to Himself with divine names such as I Am (John 8:57).
He possessed attributes of deity such as omnipotence, eternity, omniscience, omnipresence, sovereignty and being worthy of worship (Rev.22:13).
Why was Jesus deity necessary?
1. Because only someone infinite could bear the full penalty of the sins of believers.
2. Salvation is from the Lord.
3. Only someone who was truly God could be the mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5) and reveal God to us.
Council of Chalcedon (451 AD)
This council affirmed that the eternal son of God:
1. Took to Himself a truly human nature.
2. His divine and human natures remain distinct and retain their own properties.
3. Yet the divine and human natures are eternally and inseparably united together in one person.
Therefore, one nature does some things the other nature does not, and anything either nature does, the person of Christ does.
What does Bill Johnson teach about Jesus Christ?
The following extract is from his book, When Heaven Invades Earth, chapter 7, The Anointing and the AntiChrist Spirit. He writes:
“…The Word Christ means “Anointed One” or “Messiah”. It is a title that points to an experience. It was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from heaven to earth with a title. He had to receive the anointing in an experience to accomplish what the Father desired.”
“The word anointing means “to smear”. The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism. The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit…(Hmmmmm……I can’t seem to find the verse where the Person of the Holy Spirit becomes a substance that Jesus is “smeared” with……)
Jesus lived His earthly life with human limitations. He laid His divinity aside as He sought to fulfil the assignment given to Him by the Father: to live life as a man without sin, and then die in the place of mankind for sin. This would be essential in His plan to redeem mankind. The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless), and had to be spotless, (without sin).
The anointing Jesus received was the equipment necessary, given by the Father to make it possible to live beyond human limitations…
The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine (Thank you, Madame Blavatsky, for teaching B.J. everything he knows!), enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil. These miraculous ways helped to set something in motion that mankind could inherit once we were redeemed. Heaven – that supernatural realm – was to become mankind’s daily bread.”
The following extract is from a book he co-authored with Julia Loren and Mahesh Chavda called, Shifting Shadows of Supernatural Power.
In his contribution he states:
“Jesus had no supernatural capabilities in himself. Everything he did, he did as a man, completely dependent on the Holy Spirit.
He emphasised this point by saying, “the Son can do nothing of himself. While he is 100% God, he chose to live with the same limitations and restrictions that man would face once he was redeemed. He made that point over and over again. If he performed miracles as God, I am still impressed, but not compelled to follow. His example would be admirable, but unattainable. Yet it is obvious that he intended his disciples to do all that is needed, and more. Realising that he did all the miracles as a man, I am responsible to follow the example he established, and pursue the spiritual realms he said were available to me (Really, B.J.??? Can you enlighten us as to the verses you’re referring to? Didn’t Jesus ALSO say, “Do not exult in that the demons are subject to you in My name, but RATHER, Rejoice that your names are written in Heaven!”). By doing it this way he became a model for all who would become his disciples, thus embracing the invitation to invade the impossible in his name. He performed miracles, signs, and wonders, as a man in right relationship to God… not as God. Recapturing this simple truth changes everything… and makes possible a full restoration of the Ministry of Jesus Christ in his church.”
This is the same view that he taught at a conference in the UK, New Wine, in 2008 . He said: “…it’s important to realise that Jesus didn’t do any of the miracles that we are so enamoured by and so impressed with, none of those miracles were done as God. Now, don’t misunderstand me, Jesus is the eternal son of God, he’s not a created being, he didn’t somehow ascend to that position, he is eternally God but he did not perform the works that he did as God, he did them as man, why?
Because he needed to set a model (????) that you and I could follow…he gave his entire life to illustrate what it would be like for any person who had no sin, number 1, and, number 2, was filled with, empowered and directed by the Spirit of God.
How do we know this, well because Jesus said it, the son of man can do nothing of himself…as the father sent me I send you,
so we must learn how to mirror heaven and say what God is saying and do what God is doing, when we do that we do what Jesus did,
he said my words to you are spirit and they are life.”
It’s fair to say that this theology, namely, that Jesus laid aside His divinity is consistent in Bill Johnson’s teaching.
Did Jesus lay His divinity aside?
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”
The proof text for Bill Johnsons teaching is Philippians 2:5-7, shown above. This notion, namely, that Jesus laid aside or gave up some or all of His divine attributes, is referred to as the “kenosis theory”.
This theory effectively denies the deity of Christ and cannot be reconciled with the wider teaching of Scripture concerning the divine/human nature of Christ nor can it be reconciled with Bill Johnson’s assertion that, He is eternally God but He did not perform the works that He did as God.
Can Jesus still be eternally God if at some point during His earthly ministry He laid aside His divinity and just operated under the anointing of the Holy Spirit?
If He laid aside His divinity doesn’t that mean at that point He was no longer divine? If so, when did He take on His divine nature again, before the Cross, on the Cross or after the resurrection?
Jesus laid aside His glory, not His divinity.
Yes, Jesus was a man, but He was not merely a man.
In his book, Knowing God, J.I.Packer states:
“The Word had become flesh: a real human baby. He had not ceased to be God; He was no less God then than before; but He had begun to be man. He was not now God minus some elements of his deity, but God plus all that he had made his own by taking manhood to himself. He who made man was now learning what it felt like to be man.” (Chapter 5, sections 2 – 4).
L. Berkhoff states the following:
“The fact that Christ took the form of the servant does not involve a laying aside of the form of God.
There was no exchange of the one for the other.”
Systematic Theology, page 328.
If Jesus laid aside His divinity, this means that at that point He changed from being divine to being man and
Johnson’s assertion that He is still 100% God is a contradiction.
However, the Bible says that God is unchangeable, Mal3:6 and James 1:17.
Is Johnson teaching that Jesus did not use His divine nature to perform miracles?
If so, how does he explain the first miracle recorded in John’s gospel when Jesus turned water into wine?
“This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”
The miracle was to demonstrate and show His glory. It was not a pattern for believers to emulate.
L.Berkhoff further states that this kenosis theory,
“…means a virtual destruction of the Trinity and therefore takes away our very God. The humanised Son, self-emptied of His divine attributes, could no longer be a divine subsistence in the Trinitarian life.” Systematic Theology, page 329.
The divine and human nature of Christ cannot be separated.
Does Bill Johnson’s teaching remain faithful to orthodox Christianity?
The way to find out is to check what is taught about the Bible and what is taught about Jesus. If the teaching regarding Jesus is contrary to the whole counsel of teaching about Him contained in the Bible then a person’s teaching is not in accord with the Spirit of God and is not from God (1 John 4:1-6).
Sadly, this appears to be the case in the teaching of Bill Johnson, this is all the more surprising because it is so widely espoused.
Philippians 2:7 teaches that Jesus restrained part of His divine nature at certain times during His ministry but used it at other times, but was at all times Divine.
We cannot deny that miracles can and do still occur, but are they something we should contend for, was Jesus a “miracle working pattern” that we should emulate, is this what it really means to grow in Christlikeness, don’t miracles and healings occur according to the Holy Spirit’s intentions and purposes?
Surely, the greatest miracle is when someone repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus was born of the Spirit, He was and is and is to come. John 1 is clear that Jesus was in the beginning with God, so to say, as Johnson does, that, “He had no supernatural capabilities in Himself” is to deny and remove something from His person (see Colossians 1:15-20 and John 1).
He did choose to live with the same limitations as man, but He did not lose any part of His divinity in so doing.
Think about it, the supernatural miraculous power of God was evident when He swept back the sea as the Israelites fled Egypt (Exodus 14:21).
How did Israel respond to this great miracle?
“When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses “
Contrast this with Johnson’s response to a miracle performed by God in the person of Jesus Christ, “If he (Jesus) performed miracles as God, I am still impressed, but not compelled to follow. His example would be admirable, but unattainable.” (Again, Bill Johnson is the king of obfuscation; the Divine Objective of God the Father is NOT in all of us becoming miracle workers, as B.J. alludes to, BUT IN BEING CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF THE SON OF GOD……)
What does this reveal about what Bill Johnson believes about Jesus? When he says that he is not compelled to follow Jesus if He performed miracles as God– in other words, Jesus did not perform miracles as God – doesn’t it necessarily follow that the only reason he follows Jesus is to be able to work miracles? Don’t truly repentant sinners follow Christ because He is the way, the truth and the life and because they know they have been saved from their sin and God’s wrath?
Ask yourself, is Bill Johnson’s response similar to that of the Israelites or that of Pharaoh, who refused to humble himself before God, Exodus 10:3, and never truly repented Ex 10:17?
Hasn’t the focus changed from God to man and what man can achieve, thus de-deifying Christ and deifying man? (THIS is the CRUX of Bill Johnson’s warped, man-centered “theology”!!!)
What other miracles fail to impress Bill Johnson? Is he not impressed with the incarnation, Jesus walking on water and calming the storm, the resurrection, saving those dead in their sins, etc, etc? To say that God’s miracles are admirable but not compelling is dumbfounding. Is this how we should view God?
Bill Johnson’s “doctrine of Christ” undermines the person and work of Christ and, as such, it is not a secondary issue.
This is not an issue about whether or not miracles are for today or whether we think gifts of healing and miracles have ceased or continue; it is an argument which directly relates to who Jesus is.
In order for the “supernatural to become the natural” you have to create a system which accommodates the power of God with the “so called” power of man.
In the case of Bill Johnson’s teaching this is achieved by combining the false view of Christ emptying Himself with an equally false view of the Holy Spirits work in the life of Jesus, which should be mimicked by all true believers.
In other words, Christ laid aside His divinity and only operated out of the power of the Holy Spirit following His baptism and, given that Christians are baptised with the Holy Spirit, we should therefore expect to do the miraculous as Jesus did.
Of course, there is an obvious element of truth in this latter view concerning Christ’s baptism. The God-man Jesus was empowered for His earthly ministry following His baptism but this is not the same as saying He was just a man filled with the Holy Spirit. He was nevertheless a sinless man, in perfect communion with the Father and He received “the Spirit without measure” (John 3:34), whereas we only have “the firstfruits of the Spirit” (Romans 8:23).
In his book, Joy Unspeakable, Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes:
“…because He had become a man and was living life in this world as a man, though He was still the eternal Son of God, He needed to receive the Spirit in His fullness, and God gave Him the Spirit. The Spirit descended upon Him. So then we read of Him, that filled with the Spirit He went, in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14) and began to preachIn other words our Lord Himself could not act as witness and as preacher and as testifier of the gospel of salvation without receiving this enduement of the Spirit.
…Our Lord is eternally the Son of God, but though He was the Son of God, in order to do His work as the Messiah in the likeness of man, in the form of a servant, He needed this baptism with the Spirit, and so the Spirit came upon Him even as it came upon the disciples and the hundred and twenty in the
upper room. And in the power of the Spirit He was enabled.” (Joy Unspeakable, pages 51 and 52).
Bill Johnson teaches that,
‘The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine (Again, an occult, esoteric reference reducing God to a “force”), enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil.”
This creates a “system” out of “the anointing”. In other words, it is “the anointing” of the Holy Spirit wherein the power for the miraculous lies in the life of a believer. However, there is something fundamentally wrong and wholly opposed to a true understanding of Jesus Christ in the aforementioned quote, namely, that Bill Johnson appears to have separated Jesus’ divine nature from His human nature, thus creating a Jesus who is less than God, unless he means that the Holy Spirit was necessary in Jesus’ life for both His humanity and divinity to work together. However, this is understanding is unclear.
To make a distinction between the divine and human nature of Christ is not unlike the view held by first and second century Gnostics. They said that Jesus was a mere man but on whom the spiritual Christ Aeon descended – the Spirit – for a while from his baptism to the Cross. They argued that the Christ Aeon did not die as he is Spirit and cannot be killed so only the man Jesus died on the Cross. The similarities between this view and Bill Johnsons view are striking.
As Christians, we do have an “anointing”. 1 John 2:20 and 26-27 teaches that we have an anointing from God but this indwelling anointing is from the Holy Spirit and it relates to being able to discern, understand and uphold the truth about the faith as revealed in the Bible.
If Bill Johnson’s teaching is to be widely espoused then it requires further qualification before publication because his Jesus seems to differ from the Jesus presented in Scripture.
Paul had this in mind when he wrote to the Corinthians:
“For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.”
2 Corinthians 11:4; 13
Is Bill Johnson’s Jesus the same Jesus as revealed in Scripture?
Is it the spirit of truth or the spirit of error (1 John 4:6)?
In short, ask yourself is this “another Jesus”, if so, isn’t any worship of this Jesus, of this system, ultimately in vain?
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. “
2 John 10-11