Following Jesus

Lamb of God, Who HAS taken away all sin!

“…Lamb of God, Savior to all…”

We have a plastic nativity set that our girls love playing with. One day while they were carting the various characters around the house, baby Jesus went missing. I think I remember my two year old Emma say, “Baby Jesus was playing under the bed and then he disappeared”. Well, that was a special ability that Jesus did employ at various times… like the time when angry Jews were about to stone him (not with Marihuana but with actual real stones!) after he claimed to be “I AM” (the LORD YAHWEH!)

But now, there is no baby Jesus for our nativity’s feeding trough (the manger). So… we used a lamb and put it in the manger instead. Jesus was, after all, introduced by John – the guy who was fond of pushing people under water during swim parties – I mean, the baptizer, as “the Lamb of God“.

“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the WORLD!” ~ John

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What’s this all about anyway?

Well, every year at Spring time the Jewish people would have a huge family reunion and a great big feast and celebration at a festival called Passover (see Exodus) in the City of Peace (Jerusalem). To the Passover these one and only true worshipers of God would bring a one year old flawless lamb. They would bring the lamb to the temple and place their hands on the lamb. All the sins they had committed over the past year would symbolically and metephorically pass to the lamb and all the lambs innocence would pass to the worshiper. The lamb was then killed for those sins. It became the substitute that payed the death penalty that our sins deserve and demand. Justice demands that someone pay.

By the way, this sacrificial system was a tangible and physical way of showing their faith that God would provide the Lamb (Genesis 22) and once for all deal with the sin problem. The ‘seed of the woman would one day soon crush the serpent’s head’ (Genesis 3) and liberate all of humanity from the power of sin and Satan.

Well, Jesus was the ‘once for all’ Passover Lamb. When he died on that cross it was as if all humanity was placing their hands on Christ and ALL our sin passed to him. He payed the death penalty for our sin. The beauty part is that all of his innocence and right relationship with God passes to us who receive the free gift. This is the great exchange that occurred at the cross.

Have you received that gift? Have you made that exchange yourself? I can tell it you it feels great to be forgiven and reconciled to our loving heavenly Papa!

If you have received his gift of right relationship (righteousness), the Bible says that you now are “holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1) and now finally, at long last “we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made his friends of God” (Romans 5:11).

I am enjoying, as the Scripture says, “one blessing after another”, in my relationship with God. I have been wanting to, and realizing my pressing need to, forgo all distractions and develop a closer intimacy with God and really get to know him and then start to do everything and more that Jesus did! (John 14:11)

Have you ever noticed how distracted we are? (Or is is just me?) I get most distracted by those who are steeped in judgmental religiosity. I have a chip on my shoulder when it comes to the demon of the religious spirit and those who represent and exemplify (and glorify?) this bully. But, alas, this too is a distraction from doing what is most important… that which Mary modeled for us when she chose to sit at Jesus feet and learn from the wise sage that is the Christ.

I need wisdom (Christ is wisdom). I need intimacy with him so I will not be so quick to be lured into the darkness, turning my back on the One who is Light (1 John 1).

I have learned that to remain holy before the Lord one needs only to keep looking at the Light (who is Christ). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrew 12)… the One who was “lifted up” as the snake in the wilderness (John 3:14) who saves everyone who looks to him for salvation.

Are you struggling with anything? Nasty habits? Addictions? Depression? They all fade away in a moment when you are beholding Christ. Come to him and experience it for yourself. He is the One step program for complete and total healing (see previous post) and abundant life! (John 10)

If you are fully turned to the Lord, your whole body will be filled with light (Ephesians 1) and just like Christ, there will be no darkness in you. Do you want that?

So now we live by faith (by simply trusting) in the Son of God who loved you and gave himself for you. (Galatians 2)

You in? Leave a comment! Join the convo!

Categories: Following Jesus, Gospel | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The “Share Your Story” Challenge

You have to watch the video below. It is of my friend Nathan Wheeler. I have been following his story over the past year as he has shared his testimony through videos on Youtube. He is one of a kind. I have never heard someone be so real and share so openly the truth of all he has experienced of God and his search for God in his life. He has had a heart problem for awhile now and over a year ago he died for a short time from his heart condition while in the hospital and was in heaven for what seemed like a half hour or so. He was instructed by four angels to share what he calls his testimonial. It soon became my favorite “TV show”. (I blogged about this HERE)

In his testimonial he talks about his interactions and relationship with God from a very young age. He was terrified of death and was seeking a way to avoid that. As a young boy he attended a “straight-laced everything in its place suit and tie” church and wasn’t convinced they had anything worth having. You all know what I’m talking about. Hypocrisy. People never even reading this book that they claim is God’s Word. Lack of excitement and enthusiasm and joy. Boring, dry, driven by sense of duty and obligation church.

His search led him to plumb the depths of other religions in search of God and the truth and a way to avoid death. He discarded those religions in which he could spot fundamental flaws in like Mormonism and Islam and some of the other whacked religions. His search led him to explore Buddhism because Buddha didn’t claim to be God and it promised enlightenment which he believed could be a way to avoid death, until he plumbed its depths to the point where the local Buddhist monastery wanted him to come and teach them! He came to realize it was empty. He then explored New Age and Toltec shamanism and plumbed its depths until he realized they were a magicians trick to deceive and manipulate and control. He finally found Christ (even though he had experienced him powerfully on an earlier occasion) in video 8 of his series. On the verge of tears he said that his experience of the love of Jesus so far out shined anything, any joy that life had to offer, or any other mystical spiritual experience he had ever had in his entire life!

Nathan was just in the hospital with a blood clot in his neck. If the blood clot moves, he dies. He has internal bleeding from some kidney stones and had just filmed the following video with what may very well be his last days on this planet. Please stop right now to pray for him and then listen to his encouragement and challenge here:

Will you join me in this challenge to publicly share your faith, your story with the world? I am going to start to film and share my story – my experiences and encounters with God. Will you make this idea of sharing your faith as viral as an ice bucket challenge? Will someone help me out here and repackage this challenge so that more people will actually do this?

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 (NLT)

ps. If you want to watch Nathan Wheelers testimonial visit HERE (I suggest picking it up in video 8 if you don’t have the interest or time to go through his entire journey. I understand, you have other shows that require your attention.)

A word from Nathan:

It’s time we start telling people about all the ways He has blessed us and brought us onto our faith!

The enemy wants to silence those who share the Joy of the Lord. We must not let fear, illness, age, gender, race, profession, or the sins we struggle with to keep us silent any more. If you are a “believer” you have two things you are joyously obligated to do…

1) Share the good word and baptize in the Name Yeshua Ha’Mashiach. (Jesus the Messiah)

2) Tell your testimony of what God has done in your life. If your saved but weren’t always a believer, tell people the things that made you believe. If you’ve always believed then tell people why you continue to believe regardless of life struggles. If you weren’t always walking right and then got right with the Lord… tell people what changed. This is how other people will grow in God and believe.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing alone… if you allow the devil to keep you silent, how will other believe?

The struggle is real… the blessings of His Truth are too. See both in this video.
Thank you and please share this if it blesses you.

Categories: Following Jesus | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Conversion of Charles Finney

This morning I read about the conversion of Charles G. Finney. I thought you would be moved and very interested to read it for yourself. I trust it will make in impact on your life as it has on mine. I had read it in an old book that was given to me called “They Found the Secret” which documents (rather poorly in my opinion) how many famous saints of history discovered the power and working and Presence of the Holy Spirit.

When I found Charles Finney’s book online I came to learn that the book (which was written for a Moody Bible institute publication) had taken the liberty to edit out some portions of his story. Of course any author would normally only quote portions of another work but I found it just slightly odd that he was basically including the entirety of his conversion story as told by Charles G. Finney himself except for one small portion. Apparently the bit about the very serious elder breaking out in spasmodic laughter was too scandalous?

He wrote:

“It seemed as if it was impossible for him to keep from laughing from the very bottom of his heart.”

The reason I bring that up is because among my circle of friends the topic of “holy laughter” has come up. Have you ever experienced the joy of God so much that you couldn’t help but laugh? I am a firm believer that God is the most joyful being any of us will ever meet and I like to think that he is also playful, has a GREAT sense of humor (have you ever asked God to tell you a joke? I have!), and quite childlike and invites us into his joy and fun!

Isn’t it ridiculous how we like to edit and censor God. I thought about this first thing this morning – thinking about how God was angry at Moses for initially refusing his call and having doubt. He was mad!

But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses (Exodus 4:13-14 NIV)

One movie rendition I watched with my daughter yesterday omitted that part.

God is an actual real life person who has very real emotions. Yet there are those who criticize others for being like God – emotional. I mean God gets mad, laughs, crys, and quite often does things that apparently many deem as embarrassing.

If you have any interest, please consider reading at the very least the first two chapters of Charles Finneys account: http://hopefaithprayer.com/books/Charles-G-Finney-An-Autobiography.pdf

ps. I suppose many Christians have chosen a faith that is always “respectable” and serious, much like the elder mentioned above. I think it’s time we give that up in favor of the lighthearted and good natured fun God wants to have with his kids. What do you think? Leave a comment!

Categories: Following Jesus | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

Thoughts about “normal” Christianity

So I read Mel’s post (the reblogged post) and this was soon followed by a few Facebook posts by Kris Vallotton (also below) about “normal Christianity” to include the miraculous. This is hotly debated topic in our house that gets discussed frequently.

The truth is, we don’t live in the miraculous like I hear some talking about. This is not our experience. I guess I’m aware of people who see miracles and God answering prayers like crazy (one of whom is Francis Chan who wrote “Crazy Love” – others include Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church).

So why don’t I experience what they do? Why don’t I feel like I have much clout with God? He doesn’t answer my prayers for healing… or does he?

Last Fall I was dreading the allergy season. I basically have a really bad stuffy head sinus cold for a month and a half. I felt the symptoms coming on and prayed real hard and the symptoms went away. I was fine. But, as I told someone just the other day, that the ragweed or “whatever” must not have been bad last year. I said it could be the prayers but I don’t know.

So why is this where my spirituality is at? Because I don’t experience what Kris Vallotton or Mel Wild talks about… but I want to. I think.

The Bible tells us to earnestly desire spiritual gifts. Just like learning to play guitar, you have to want it… and then you gotta practice.

So instead of actually applying myself to this end, I apply myself to finishing the Breaking Bad episodes on Netflix (or any dynamic equivalent of what amounts to a detrimental use of my most precious commodity – my time!)

Here is a story of my one bonafide without-a-doubt experience of being used by God to heal someone:

My mom had just come home from oral surgery. It was a particularly painful operation and the dentist had told my mom that patients have left him for good because of the pain of this operation. She came home expressed her concern and asked me to pray for her. In that moment I felt the powerful presence of God. His compassion. His decision to heal. His “unction” (kind of an old word but it came to mind). So I prayed, or rather cooperated with his prayer flowing through me.

My mom experienced no pain much to the astonishment of the dentist. He questioned me about it next time I was in to see him myself it became obviously apparent to him that it wasn’t because I was anything special. As I have said a hundred times in this blog. I never felt like I was a very good Christian… But, as Rick Warren states in the first chapter of his book, “Purpose Driven Life”: It’s Not About You!

So, based on Scripture and the encouragement of these dear brothers I am encouraged that I “can” pursue spiritual gifts and experiences of God and begin to experience them. Anybody else want to join me?

Now for those Kris Valloton quotes:

If someone teaches that there are no longer gifts of the Spirit…prophecy, healing, deliverance are not for today…all spiritual experiences and/or supernatural encounters have passed; Are not these people false teachers? Is it not just as dangerous to remove the power of God from the people of God, as it is to be deceived? In fact, isn’t this deception?

Paul warned Timothy about these people when he said, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come…people will “hold to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:1, 5)

You must demonstrate the power of a superior kingdom with signs and wonders, to fully preach the the gospel.

“In the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” (Romans 15:19)

There is two ways to read the scriptures, I can reduce the bible down to my own experience. For example, I read Mark 16:17-18, where Jesus says miracles follow those who BELIEVE. Then I say, “Well I believe and I don’t see miracles, therefore that verse must only apply to 1st century believers.

Or the other way to read the scriptures is to change my experience to meet the standards and expectations of bible. Of course this requires a high level of courage and it is much easier to be complacent, and reduce the scriptures to soothe my conscience.

In My Father's House

Aimee_AMA_approvalWhile we were in Los Angeles last week, I got a chance to tour the former parsonage of Aimee Semple McPherson, the founder of the denomination I belong to (Foursquare). As I was looking at some of the memorabilia of her prolific, larger than life ministry, I came upon the sign in the photo.

This sign is from a report by the San Francisco American Medical Association.

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Categories: Encountering God, Following Jesus | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Bill Johnson a False Teacher? Really?

I am reposting this with some edits. I was too harsh with those who misunderstand Bill Johnson and have judged and rejected him and I would like to publicly apologize and ask forgiveness from those I have hurt. 379179-us-evangelist-bill-johnsonI am deeply saddened that Bill Johnson has been publicly slandered and branded as a false teacher by some. I see him as a dear brother in Christ who is pursuing Jesus and seeking to bring the kingdom of God to earth.

“May your will be done. May your kingdom come.” – Jesus

There are SO many Scriptures about not judging others. My favorite is this:

“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4 NASB)

Someone applied this verse to me years ago when it had appeared I had gone off the deep end. (I hitch-hiked to New Orleans to preach Jesus on the streets during Mardi Gras – Read about it here).

I appreciated it so much when someone came to my defense. I am eager to do the same. If someone is under attack, isn’t it the right thing to come to their defense? If your name was slandered just imagine how loved you would feel if people rose to your defense? And so when Bill Johnson came under attack I was practically begging Jesus, please let me write this post!

Why? Because I want to do what Jesus does. I want to defend others. I don’t want anything to do with what the devil does. His is the business of slander, and since Bill Johnson was publicly slandered on my facebook page I felt obliged to have a response, good or bad. Bill Johnson has said, “Id rather be on the side of the accused than the accuser.”

Now I have the wonderful privilege of sticking my neck out for Bill Johnson… whom after having heard for myself I really love the man and highly value his contribution for Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Thank you Bill Johnson for pursuing Jesus and for your service to the body of Christ. You are a gift.

After a bit of research, my first thought about Bill Johnson was, “Wow, he is getting a great deal of attention from the haters. Apparently he is doing something right!”

Why would I think that?

Paul was approached by some Jews about the Good News of Jesus and the movement that came because of it and they said:

“But we want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.” (Acts 28:22 NLT)

Of course it should be no surprise that any true movement of God will receive the same kind of treatment and be denounced everywhere. Jesus also warned that his true prophets would not be well received by everyone:

And, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 5:11-12 NLT)

“Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.” ~ Jesus (Luke 6:26 NIV)

According to what Bill Johnson professes, what he teaches, (and the fact that God is backing up his word with signs and wonders!), I have concluded that this man is a dear brother in the faith and should be honored for what he brings to the body of Christ.

After listening to him for myself I have come to be very inspired by his ministry, challenged to think about what the Scriptures really say and ask myself, “Do I really believe Jesus? Do I really believe what Jesus has said?”

As a believer, I’m compelled to say, “Yes, I choose to believe Jesus”.

One small example of this is when Jesus said, “Keep on asking and you will receive”.

Do you believe him? What about that miracle you desperately need? What if it’s as serious as cancer or M.S.? Tooth decay? Seasonal allergies that cause disruption to your work?

The fact is, since I’ve been taking God at his word and have kept on asking (without giving up), I have seen results. My allergies cleared up! My little girls teeth stopped hurting her (and we continue to pray for a complete healing!).

“Keep on seeking and you will find”.

I have prayed for deeper encounters with God and have experienced him in marvelous ways. I am far more aware of his presence in my life daily and feel him and hear from him more clearly and frequently now then ever before. I know him in deeper ways since seeking Him.

“…You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD…” (Jeremiah 29:13-14 NASB)

Healings are happening at Bethel church on a regular basis, and other signs and wonders are occurring that no one can dispute! The critics simply just have to claim that they are ‘false’ signs and wonders. There is even video footage of what could be described as a “glory cloud”. There was talk of gold dust manifesting, and feathers. Why feathers? Bill Johnson humorously said, “Well, God does say in Psalm 91 that God would cover you with his feathers.”

And why not? God is a very happy and playful God.

I was at first very skeptical and uncomfortable about all these strange miracles. (The fact is that they rarely get talked about at Bethel, and never anymore – so says someone who attends there that I personally know). But the more I’ve come to know God I realize what a loving heavenly Papa he is, it would be just like him to manifest feathers just to let his children know that he is lovingly and protectively surrounding them (like a mother hen over her chicks – of course no one is saying God is a big chicken).

I once read Psalm 91 to my daughter Ellie and came to the verse, “He will cover you with his feathers”.

“God has feathers?” Ellie asks.

I then explained to her what a figure of speech is.

What a beautiful metaphor this is! It reminds me of what Jesus said:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!” (Luke 23:37-38 NASB)

I want to be willing! I prayed, “Lord Jesus, I come under your metaphorical wings! I am your baby chick, ‘cheep, cheep’.”

I then thought, I am probably the first to ever have prayed that exact prayer.

May we all be willing to come under his wings. Doesn’t that sound comfy? He longs to protect you, comfort you, and be your refuge. Receive it.

Isn’t that beautiful?

In fact after hearing about this bit about feathers manifesting, I was getting into my car after coming out of the YMCA and as soon as I sat down a little feather floated down in front of me. What? Where did that come from?!? I started weeping with just this “random” reminder that God is covering me, that he loves me, that he is intimately acquainted with me and loves me intensely and immensely!

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Then comes the fear mongers, quoting all kinds of misappropriated Scripture throwing a wet blanket all over the wonderful intimacy (and wonders) we can all experience in relationship with Papa. They incite you to fear and steal your joy (your crown).

May we not make the same mistake Jerusalem did when they rejected Jesus. May we not reject and “stone” Bill Johnson or any other true prophet who comes to us preaching and doing their best to live out exactly what the Bible says. It was interesting to me to note the similarilties of the treatment Jesus received to that of Bill Johnson.

One example was when Jesus was rejected by the chief priests and religious leaders because of where he came from.

“Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.” (John 7:41-43 NIV)

See what’s happening here? People were rejecting Jesus because he wasn’t from Bethlehem or David’s descendant. They were ill informed.

There are people I know who reject Bill Johnson as a false teacher (or something worse) because he said Jesus was “born again”. He was teaching on the resurrection and apparently people had a problem with his phrasing and were falsely assuming Bill was teaching something unorthodox.

From his sermon:

“…Did you know that Jesus was born again? I asked… the first service and they said, “No.” But I will show it. It’s in the Bible. He had to be. He became sin.

In Hebrews 1 it says this, “For to which of the angels did he ever say, ‘You are my son. Today I have begotten you’?” And Acts 13 explains that: “God has fulfilled this for us, their children, in that he has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are my Son, Today I have begotten You.’ And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption.” He was born through Mary the first time and through the Resurrection the second time. He was ‘born again.’”

Bill Johnson says Jesus was born again! Scandalous!

But did anyone pretend for a moment to be a friend to Bill Johnson and ask, “so what did you mean by that Bill Johnson?”

It took me all of 30-seconds with a search on google to reveal this:

On February 14, 2011, Bill Johnson stated the following on his Facebook wall:

“Jesus was sinless for sure. The spotless lamb. BUT He BECAME SIN. He needed to be raised from the dead. Acts 13 calls Him ‘the first born from the dead.’ He did not raise Himself. The Father through the Spirit raised Him. He was born of Mary. That’s one. He was raised from the dead. That’s two. ‘Again.’ It’s not a statement creating a new doctrine. It’s to make people think, which gets scary for some. Primarily it’s to help us appreciate the fact that Jesus had become sin and was in need of the resurrection as much as we are in need of being born again.”

So obviously Bill Johnson needs to repent and publicly disown that he preached… what exactly? That Jesus rose from the dead?

I told someone that his statement was innocuous. Wrong word. I knew it immediately. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead is anything but innocuous. This means something quite profound to all those who are in Christ. It is why any of us are given access into a whole new way to be human – something we’ve never been. And that’s exciting!

BEWARE THE FALSE TEACHER!

Hey, I’m all for exposing false teachers. Yes, let’s hold to the truth of the true Gospel and fight for it! But may we never attack a brother in the name of “standing up for the truth”. We can and should hold them accountable and question them for what they teach if that is what Jesus is calling you to do, but that doesn’t mean we reject and disassociate from them.

My most popular blog is an exposition of a false teacher who is leading people back into bondage to the law through the Hebrew roots movement. (I hope this blog of defending a brother becomes even more popular). We need to be wary of those who preach a false Gospel. The warnings of Scripture are there for a reason.

BUT, we should never let the healthy warnings of Scripture to turn us into miserable fear mongers! If you aren’t thoroughly enjoying your Christianity, are you sure you are even believing the right Gospel? Do you possess something worthy of exporting? Would you want everyone in the world to be as full of joy as you are right now because you know Jesus? Are you so in love with Jesus that can’t wipe the happy off your face because of how good he is to you? Do you enjoy God?

If not, why not? It’s called “Good News” for a reason!

Paul writes in Galatians:

“I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9 NLT)

I don’t know who would say a joyful amen to anyone falling under God’s curse. God weeps for those under his curse. If we know him, we would too. It is a sad, sad thing that people would depart from the glorious joyous Good News of Jesus.

“A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”

This is a phrase that was used to describe the teaching ministry of Bill Johnson, senior pastor of Bethel Church in Redding California and I pray it is true… in the very best sense. Let me explain.

Interestingly leaven was used as a metaphor a few different ways in Scripture. Once by Jesus to describe the kingdom of God:

“The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 13:33 NASB)

Here the metaphor of leaven is used in a wonderfully positive way. This is exactly what I pray happens, that the Gospel being preached by our dear brother Bill Johnson goes out and infects the world. Bill is preaching the kingdom of God.

Jesus also warned his disciples of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of Herod.

“He was giving orders to them, saying, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”” (Mark 8:15 NASB)

So what is he referring to here? A few ideas off the top of my head are: Pride and hypocrisy, and lording it over others.

Paul also used the idea of leaven specifically to describe the devastating effects of false teachers leading people back into the old system of the law rather then living by the new way of the Spirit and Grace and the Righteousness available to us in and only through Christ Jesus.

“A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Galatians 5:9 NKJV

Here is the Context (a must read):

“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you.” – Paul (Galatians 5:1-10 NLT)

So obviously the question is, what is Bill Johnson preaching? What is his message? Is it according to the truth of the Gospel? Or opposed to the truth of Jesus? Is he in the business of gathering or scattering? Is he advancing the kingdom of God or it’s enemy? Specifically to the above passage, is he leading people back into bondage to the law?

Bill johnson is controversial and hard to ignore. So was Jesus.

If we are quick to judge, we end up being like the Pharisees and religious leaders who didn’t give Jesus a fair hearing. And this is exactly what I see happening.

What are the standards that Scripture gives us to discern false teachers and does Bill Johnson fit the bill?

I was talking with a pastor recently about what constitutes a “false teacher” according to Scripture? Obviously Scripture is what we need to have as our plumb-line for truth, right? And not our personal preferences about how they do their ministry, right?

So what are the biblical standards that define a false teacher?

Surprisingly the tests are a great deal broader than we would think. The apostle John gives us a few tests like, did Jesus Christ come in the flesh? (I was informed recently that the New Age actually believes that the Christ did not take on human form in Jesus?) Search it out yourself what Bible standards are for false teachers.

What if, while we are expecting most to turn away from the faith in the “end times apostasy” (and what exactly does this apostasy refer to? It could be wildly different than you think… could be.), that in our efforts to fight against this “apostasy” we are actually causing people to fall away from the faith? Think about it. If we are on a constant fear-mongering witch hunt as I see many Christians and “ministries” doing, then aren’t we instead driving people into fear, and NOT faith?

Are we encouraging people to have a simple pure childlike devotion to Christ and come to Jesus with open hearts full of wonder and trust to experience Jesus for themselves?

Instead these watchdog ministries, and the “hunt for the new heretics” websites popping up everywhere reminds me of the people Jesus warned us about who refuse to come into the kingdom themselves and block others entry into the kingdom… by inciting us to fear and creating a religious culture of fear.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 23:13 NIV)

From all the evidence I have encountered, this is my conclusion: Bill Johnson is a servant of Jesus and the kingdom of God. Like you and me he is not without his flaws and peculiarities. He is helping many (including myself) to grow in the ways of Jesus. To cast our brothers name out as evil is… well, evil.

Categories: Following Jesus | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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