Bethel Church, Redding / Five Fruits

5 Fruits of the false teaching of the “Bring the kingdom” crowd … Fruit 1: The Heaviest Yoke

This post is part of a series focused on the “bring the kingdom” teaching of ministries like Bethel Church in Redding, CA and ministers like Bill Johnson and the fruits produced in real people’s lives.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  –Jesus, Mat. 11:29

Every believer, at some time, has struggled with trying to achieve the fruits of the spirit out of the useless resources of the flesh, and found how impossible it is.  These are heavy burdens indeed, even heavier than trying to keep the law.

But there is a heavier yoke.  You may not have realized it, because it’s tricky.  It doesn’t look heavy.  It’s given out so frivolously…thrown out like a fragrant lei from the platform to land on some lucky church-goer’s neck… by some of the jolliest preachers you could ever hear.  They sound like santa claus, constantly talking about God’s goodness, they call God “papa” (read about that here), they wear jeans, they’re above it all.  They are so confident, so at ease.  They welcome anyone and everyone in to the service.  “Don’t worry,” they say with their body language.  “I got this.”  Oh, to be so cool, to be so at ease with the Christian life, so comfortable with the God of the universe!  Tell me the secret!  What’s the yoke?   It must be eeeeeeeeasy.

Here it is:  just be god.  Go ahead.  You know you can do it.  Heal the sick.  Open blind eyes.  “Bring the kingdom.”  It’s aaaaaall you, baby.  Creative miracles?  Why not?  Don’t put God (yourself) in a box.  Hey, why not raise the dead?  Empty a hospital!  No biggie.  It only hasn’t been done before because all the religious nut-jobs in the millenia before us were too tied up with their Bibles to get anything done.  They didn’t realize that it is ALWAYS God’s will to heal.  ALWAYS.  Duh!!!!!!!!!!  You would know this if you hadn’t been reading your Bible so much!  Just go be god.

The problem with this teaching, other than being anti-biblical in every sense…okay, let me start over.  ONE problem with this teaching is that you and I actually cannot be god.  When the chips are down, the teaching is obviously a fraud.  Because no matter how much I harass a blind person, nothing I can do can make him see.  If you stand over a coffin, there’s no way you can bring him or her back.  None of us can create a mole on anybody’s toe, much less a limb.  EITHER WE CAN OR WE CAN’T.  Shouldn’t this teaching have died off a long time ago?  Millions of people have proved (sometimes sheepishly, and  in private, but often embarrassingly publicly) billions of times that we cannot make God act on our will.

But the teaching is not dead.  It is alive and well, yoking believers, especially young ones, all around the world.  How?  There are three answers to this.  I will call them 1) good, 2) bad, and 3) ugly.

1)  Good:  True believers sincerely take hold of a simple faith in God’s power.

In humility and simplicity, it does not occur to them how ugly the preacher’s pride and heresy is.  All they know is that their Jesus is good, and He heals today!  They find themselves prompted by the Spirit to pray with faith from time to time, and see spectacular results as God moves in accord with His own sovereign will.

2)  Bad:  Genuine, unfounded believers with a susceptibility to false teaching, hear the message of bringing heaven to earth.

It is presented as “REAL faith,” and contrasted by the preacher to what he calls the “unbelief” of the wider body of Christ, stuck in their Bibles, bound by a “spirit of religion.”  Like it’s a high school game of Chicken, he provokes listeners to cast off the stale, dull, miracle-less Christian life of their old church life in favor of the glamorous new world of being little gods, walking around healing, declaring, binding and loosing, and attempting to raise from the dead.  They try this new lifestyle, get really into the music and conferences, have some crazy experiences, rarely ever see any miracles but kinda squint their eyes right so that it seems like they did, and generally remain frozen in immaturity, attending to their imaginations and fantasies, rather than the plain commands of the New Testament.  After awhile, they’re so hooked that if anyone questions their new form of Christianity at all, they blow up, enraged at the “unbelief.”

3)  Ugly:  After some years proclaiming the “miracle life,” spending hours, days, weeks, and a boatload of money attending conferences to learn to “bring the kingdom,” receive “training in the prophetic,” and “get the anointing,” the facade breaks down.

Divorce, rebellious adolescent children, financial problems, and failing health stand in stark contrast to the years of TALK of blessing and miracles and healings and heaven on earth.  Maybe this person once believed, but now he or she is just burnt and bitter.  Where was God?  What happened to all His “promises,” as spun by the smooth-talking, “oozing with eeeeeaseeeeey” preacher on the stage?  Angry and done, this person leaves church, except for the occasional TBN program.  They tried to straddle the divide between their false theology and real life for too long, and finally just fell in.

That lovely lei flung from the stage, the  Omnipotent-sized to-do list given by the easy-going guy in jeans, it looked so easy at first.  Such a beautiful message.  A few verses here and there seem to finalize the deal.  “This is the gospel!  Healing for everybody, every time!  Why has the church been so blind for 2000 years?  God is happy…take a little drink at His bar to cure your grumps!”  Breathe Him in, blow Him out, wave Him around, declare this and that, and follow the prophets off the edge of their presumptuous, pompous cliff.  And then try  not to notice as the everlasting judgments of the Real God of the Universe play out.  Prov. 16:18

Because He did not call us to be god.   He did not call us to save, heal, and deliver…  No, He said,

“I, even I, am the Lord,
And besides Me there is no savior.”  Is 43:11 

He did not call us to save anybody, but to testify to His salvation.  You and I will never decide who receives physical healing or when.  That is sacred, directly between a needy soul and a Saving God.  He said,

“I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”  Rom. 9:15

He tells the needy to “Call on the name of the Lord…” Acts 2:21, promising an outpouring of salvation to those that will.  How foolish of us to think we can go dispense mercy and healing to people, with no knowledge of whether they have humbled themselves, called out to God for help, or even acknowledged His existence?  How foolish to say ALWAYS, in defiance of Scripture?

He did not command us to “bring the kingdom.” In stark contrast, we are commanded to humbly pray that His kingdom would come, on earth as it is in heaven (Mat 6:10).  A petition and a demand, though they be for the same outcome, are worlds apart.  A humble petition is moving.  A declarative demand is disgusting.

The Syro-Phoenician woman came to ask Jesus to deliver her daughter from a demon, but He rebuffed her because He was sent to the Jews first.  She exhibited profound humility and faith by asking for the “crumbs from the children’s table.”  She received her plea, and exhibited a heart condition that these brash, bold teachers who buddy up with Jesus at the bar know nothing of.

“Declare!  Demand!  Prophesy!  Walk in signs and wonders! Heal the sick!”  They teach a god of their own ideas to people who don’t know better.  “Go give that stranger a word about how much God likes them!”

But the Bible says:

You have wearied the Lord with your words;
Yet you say,
“In what way have we wearied Him?
In that you say,
“Everyone who does evil
Is good in the sight of the Lord,
And He delights in them,”  Mal. 2:17

As “ambassadors of reconciliation,” the gospel we bring is the offer of hope and reconciliation to those who will turn from their wickedness and receive salvation from sin’s curse.  We have no right to proclaim mercy and acceptance over people who have not repented!  We bring His judgment on ourselves when we do so.

Are you beginning to see the yoke?  Are you beginning to see the trick?  Instead of being humble like the Syro-Phoenician, (who is honored for all eternity by mention in Scripture) asking for what we need from the only One who can save, we have to be Saviors (which we are not).  Instead of testifying faithfully to His compassion and healing, we are supposed to supply them from our own empty pockets!  Instead of pointing to the power of the Almighty, and urging the world to consider His judgments, we are somehow supposed to suspend his judgments from their lives and introduce ours, calling sinners delightful, no matter their state!  Jesus said the power of the Holy Spirit would empower us to be His witnesses, not His replacements.

For my part, I can testify to the crushing severity of these task-lists.  I can remember my utter inadequacy to be god.  How long it took me to untangle the matching game of figuring out what bad fruit went with what bad teaching.  And how long it took me to see that were it not for my pride I would have trembled to watch foolish teachers who disregard Scripture act so familiar and comfortable with God Almighty, seen the many scriptures that describe insolent, arrogant, sensual false teachers who have no shame as they “blaspheme the glorious ones.” (Jude 8, Col. 2:18)


But now with the help of Scripture to restore me to the simple peace that comes from the fear of the Lord, I have bowed down low and asked Him for mercy.  I have received miracle healing, provision, prophecies, but not because I believed, declared, and commanded the God of the Universe to fill my order and respond to my mighty faith.  Only because He is  good.

Number me with the Syro-Phoenician, with the Prodigal Son, with the Roman Centurion…the unworthy recipient of miracles, deliverance, love, honor, provision, and acceptance.  I have nothing to demand, and so much to testify to.  And today I need to testify that OBEDIENCE IS AN EASY YOKE, proving fruitful and powerful and unfailing, under which the humble find blessed relief.  I am so relieved to be free from the heavy yoke of trying to “be god.”  I’m so glad it’s not my job to “bring the kingdom” (Jesus did that), walk in signs and wonders (as if there’s anything more wonderful than being saved), declare into being anything at all ever, hasten the return of the Lord, or any other ridiculous self-inflated notion.  It’s simple joy to be a bondservant, safe, lowly and loved (Eph. 6:6), wholeheartedly obeying God’s simple, scriptural commands rather than trying to command HIm.


12 thoughts on “5 Fruits of the false teaching of the “Bring the kingdom” crowd … Fruit 1: The Heaviest Yoke

  1. Isaiah 14 has been bouncing around my head the past couple of days. I’ve heard teachers tie Isaiah 14 to Satan, but in the context (especially since the beginning of the chapter tells the nation of Israel exactly who they will be taunting) it is clear that this type of pride can be found in man. I wish I could more concretely tie the type of teaching you describe to a “throwing off” of God’s authority, but it is hard to do when all these teachers talk so much about how they love Jesus. I think it can be most clearly shown in rebellion against God’s Word. These teachers simply do not obey scripture in their teaching or leadership. They are their own final authority.

    • For you have said in your heart:
      ‘I will ascend into heaven,
      I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
      I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
      On the farthest sides of the north;
      14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
      I will be like the Most High.’
      15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
      To the lowest depths of the Pit. Is. 14

      OAM, this is exactly right. I think perhaps even more than the “love of Jesus” makes it difficult for people to see the pride, is that the feelings of those involved tend more toward profound insecurity and inadequacy. I’ve found that people (women, especially) who are exceedingly drawn into spiritual encounters under teaching like this are barren souls…carrying feelings of insignificance and rejection like heavy burdens. So they cannot relate to luciferian pride that seeks to exalt itself above God.

      But our feelings deceive us, don’t they? When we have been purchased with the precious blood of Jesus, but this carries little weight with us, is our problem really how insignificant and rejected we feel? Have we been rejected or counted as insignificant? No…the price tag on us is the highest in Universe. But the whole equation is hinging on one important difference. The exorbitant price Jesus paid for us reflects not our great talents and worth, but is in proportion to our SIN and DEPRAVITY. As Jesus said, “Those who are forgiven much, love much.”

      The solution to poor self-worth, insignificance, and rejection in the Christian is not a spiritual experience that introduces a warm-blanket spirit into his or her life to cuddle with whenever he or she is down. The solution is the one given by the Bible: BELIEVE. In a truth-filled revelation of our total offensiveness to God’s holiness apart from Christ, to know that while we were yet enemies, Christ died for us (Rom 5), this is the solution to our poor self-worth. Like Job, we see things as they are, repent and dust in ashes, and then know the incomparable, the glorious, the incredible: to be lifted up out of the mire by His gracious hand. Then we know love!

      This is the news that “the humble hear and are glad.” In the prophetic streams flows a sneaky deception, this false love that is so affirming, so experientially satisfying to us in our unbelief, so sensually pleasurable…and as empty as the Proverbial immoral woman, whose mouth drips honey and is as smooth as oil, but her way leads down to hell.

  2. Pingback: “I never felt so much love in my life…” | Beth Cavete

  3. I hate religion.
    I have never despised anything more in my entire life.

    Religion told me “Pull up your bootstraps!”. Religion told me, “You have to be good enough! TRAY HARDER, HARDER, HARDER!!!”. I have lived a thousand lives of pain and sorrow from the ridiculous choices I was told were the best ways to be happy; I have never BEEN happy, never had ANY peace, never have been comforted, UNTIL I began being honest with myself (The FEAR of God is the BEGINNING of Wisdom).

    I am NOT a good person.
    I am NOT a nice person.
    I am not even a decent person.
    No, God is Right.
    I deserve his ANGER.
    Let God be True and all else liars.

    Religion never tells you this, never let’s you be honest enough to repent, never wants you to know what you are, so God can then be merciful to you. God resists the proud, arrogant heart. But, when you humble YOURSELF, then… then He can be Compassionate, Gracious, Loving, but ONLY then.
    Yes, many in the world suffer under religion saying they don’t deserve God’s Mercy as well, but the Religious say so as if they are saying something bad, to encourage you to cut yourself in submission, to nails yourself to a cross to deserve God’s love. NOTHING is more EVIL. But it’s a wonderful, JOYOUS, revelation when you know it’s true that you are niot deserving, that your heart is deseprately wicked, but also that you can NOTHING ABOUT THAT! Only God can save you. only Jesus was sent.
    Read of God’s loving Mercy in Christ’s Birth: He SENT US A MESSIAH!
    But here in this world, this evil, despicable lie of “You can be like God, knowing good and evil.” is clearly nothing more than the Old Lie repeated in pastel sweetness and Stately robes of Gold and ceremony. The LIE is still a LIE.
    YOU ARE NOT a good person, you can never be anything better of and by yourself;
    YOU MUST BE REDONE. And God must do this.
    False Religion is a lie that man gladly repeats but God’s mercy overcomes, if you will let Him: God’s definition of religion is simply mercy.

    Yes, I HATE religion, but I love with all my soul God’s Only begotten Son, Jesus.
    HE ALONE is worthy of Glory and Honor and Praise.

    HE PAID MY PRICE on the Cross.
    Jesus TOOK MY SHAME.
    HE was struck in the face, when I deserved the beating.
    Jesus was made the Curse that I had earned.
    Jesus the One and Only Christ is my Messiah,
    And In HIM I am free from my sin’s payment.
    In Jesus I am FINALLY, fully and utterly at PEACE.
    Praise YAH from whom all blessings flow…

    All of man’s religion can never do anything but make you more evil, more deserving of the Hell God will throw you into at Judgment Day.

    But GOD’s forgiveness,
    Found in Jesus Alone,
    Can free you F O R E V E R…

    Patrick Burwell

  4. Either you know your God or you don’t.. In his word he claims we will do even greater things than he. We will raise the dead, we will heal the sick, we will set the captives free all because He lives in us. Is it Pride, No it is a gift given to his children by him. Intimacy with his Holy Spirit leads and guides us.. and yes miracles do happen.. His word says that we are to LOVE one another, this is how the world will know us, He says to encourage each other and not to judge,

    • TR,
      Thank you for your comments. I am in awe of the miracle-working power of God. I have many stories of this power from my own life.

      In Mat. 10, Jesus gave instructions to the twelve disciples, telling them to heal the sick, cast out demons, etc. He also told them to head out from town to town, taking no extra coat or money. He also told them they would be hated and killed for His sake. He also told them that when they were rejected, those who had rejected them would suffer worse judgment than Sodom and Gomorrah. This commissioning was not to a bunch of excited concert-goers. These were the men he had trained and taught for years.

      Here is the point: He did not preach to and teach these disciples with repeated sermons on healing, raising corpses, and inspirational exhortations to bring the kingdom. Neither did they preach and teach such a message, as they went out in the power of God. The message is the gospel. The signs of the kingdom are exactly that–signs. They are not the message, they are not the point, they do not save, they are not the Words of Jesus Christ, though I agree with you that they are included in His instructions (the to-do’s) to the church.

      When a teacher preaches (again, and again, and again, and again) the signs of the gospel as if they were the gospel in place of the gospel, he is a false teacher. When the spirit working through this teacher to produce signs and wonders is a lying, counterfeit spirit that is leading the people of God into idolatrous, pagan practices like awakening territorial spirits, gaining power from the graves of dead saints, spiritual drunkenness, and reveling in false signs like gold dust and feathers…God help us!

      Do works in obedience to Christ. But PREACH the gospel. It is the only power for salvation, and all your signs are useless or worse unless the gospel they point to is preached and believed.

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