Several months ago, I was flipping through a Bible. It wasn’t my Bible. It was someone who has been very involved with Bethel Church, Bill Johnson, sozo, etc. I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to flip open to 1 John 4:1. Here is what that verse says:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world”.
I thought that was interesting, and I wondered why God wanted me to turn to that verse. I started reading the side notes. The person (who will remain unnamed, of course) had written in their Bible some notes. These notes said that false prophets are always motivated and characterized by fear. Over and over again, it said, “false prophets are known by their fear”.
This really didn’t make sense to me. In scripture, false prophets are motivated by their greed (see 2 Peter 2:3), lies/deceiving (Matthew 24:11; 2 Peter 2), and sorcery (Acts 13:6). Even in the Old Testament, the false prophets were known for their false words (Jer. 29:9 and 5:31). 2 John 1:7 says that those who don’t acknowledge Jesus coming in the flesh are antichrist deceivers. That would be a sign of a false prophet. When you think about it, if Jesus was really only divine in the flesh just at and after his water baptism, like Johnson claims, wouldn’t that be teaching that Jesus did not come in the flesh? I mean, if Jesus really came in the flesh, which He did, He would always be divine, even as a child.
Anyway, so where did this idea about false prophets/fear come from? The idea that false prophets are motivated by “fear”? This really doesn’t make sense to me. The Apostle Paul had “fear” – he feared for the church that they would be deceived (2 Cor. 11:3). The “fear” of the Lord brings wisdom… Proverbs 9:10. I guess there are healthy fears and not so healthy fears. Does this mean that someone suffering from a fear of spiders is a false prophet? What about someone who doesn’t like elevators??? Really doesn’t make sense, Biblically.
Anyway, I got to thinking…are the teachers at Bethel teaching this? Why would this be in this person’s notes? I Googled it, and actually Kris Valloton DOES preach a sermon about this online. Here is what he says:
“1 John 4 reveals a test for a false prophet. They don’t acknowledge the redemptive power of God; they don’t listen; nor do they love. False prophets use fear and fear of punishment as a main motivation in their ministry to get people to do what they predict.”
But, where is the teaching that false prophets are motivated by greed, lies, deceit, sorcery, false teaching, etc., etc.? John the Baptist warned the pharisees to flee from the coming wrath of God (Matthew 3:7). That sounds like using “fear and fear of punishment”. Does that make John the Baptist a false prophet? Certainly not! The Bible says that John the Baptist was the greatest prophet in history. Besides Jesus, of course.
It is the false prophets who speak “peace, peace” all the time that God warned about (see Jeremiah 8:11). They speak of peace and prosperity when there is none. Therefore, God calls them false prophets. THOSE are the ones God warns about in His Word over and over again.
False prophets will be very popular with many people (Luke 6:26). True prophets won’t (Matthew 5:12).
The reason why this concerns me is that I have been accused before, when lovingly confronting (in a gentle manner) a Bethel Church follower, that I have “fear”. The conversation went something like this…
(me) “Do you know that Bill Johnson preaches that Jesus laid aside his divinity? Those were his direct quotes from his books/articles.”
(person) “What are you afraid of? Why do you have so much fear? You should not be afraid of deception. The elect cannot be deceived anyway. Bill Johnson is not false. False prophets and false people are known by their fear.”
This concerns me because…I wonder if Bethel Church is teaching their followers to disregard what other Christians lovingly say to them because they must be “fearful”, and “fear” is evil. I wonder. Not saying for sure! Just a thought. Isn’t this what certain other groups do? They caution their followers to not listen to advice from others who might be cautious of the group or point out error? Isn’t this a fear tactic? I believe this is what the cults do (try to shun or quiet outside voices who are trying to warn with love).
In the middle of the night last night, I do believe God woke me up and reminded me of a page I read in my study Bible. It’s from 2 John. I believe He wanted me to include this in my post today. Gnostics taught that the divine Christ joined the man Jesus when he was baptized. Isn’t this what Bill Johnson’s books say? Yes! I have checked this out. For a list of direct quotes, view this article: http://blogs.christianpost.com/grace-under-fire/birds-of-a-feather-flock-together-10395/
Please check out the following photo from my Zondervan family reading Bible. Be alert and watchful!!