The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit

[See also: Bill Johnson's Christology: A New Age Christ?, Part II, Part IIIa, Part IIIb and Part IV (Conclusion)]

In Bill Johnson’s popular book When Heaven Invades Earth is a chapter titled “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit”.1  In Johnson’s theology “the anointing” is variously termed “the Christ anointing”,2 “the baptism in the Holy Spirit”,3 “the Holy Spirit’s presence upon” an individual (including Jesus),4 and “the presence of God”.5 The “antichrist spirit” is defined as essentially ‘anti-anointing’ in this chapter and is thus a redefining of this term as compared to the Apostle John’s definition.

Orthodox Definition of the Antichrist Spirit

Here are the Apostle John’s words in his first epistle defining the antichrist spirit:

22Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?  This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.  23Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.  [1 John 2:22-23, NASB]

One must confess that Jesus is the Christ and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  John makes it clear that there is only one Christ and He is Jesus, and if one denies the Son by denying that Jesus is the Christ, then consequently the Father is also denied.  It’s a flat out rejection of God.  However, the one who confesses that Jesus is the Christ and,  hence, is also the Son, has the Father.

The Apostle John also commands us to test the spirits providing one more identifying mark of the antichrist spirit:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;  3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of antichrist of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. [1 John 4:1-3, NASB]

One must confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.  This means one must confess that Jesus was the Christ at conception or at least the Virgin Birth [Luke 1:35/2:11; Matt 1:18] thereby precluding any adoptionist or separationist Christology.6  A confession to the contrary is evidence of the antichrist spirit.  Colin G. Kruse expounds:

…[I]t is not only those who…remain faithful to the message heard from the beginning and who love fellow believers who claim an experience of the Spirit.  There are many others who claim to be indwelt by God, to have received the Spirit, and to speak in his name…[John] warns his readers to exercise discernment when they encounter people claiming to speak in the name of God…Not everyone claiming to speak in the name of God actually does so….7

Kruse continues warning about “false prophets operating within the Christian community” [Matt 7:15; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; 2 Pet 2:1, etc].8  He then describes the test:

…The spirit of God is recognized as the one teaching human beings (‘every spirit’) when they acknowledge that Jesus Christ ‘has come in the flesh’…The expression ‘to acknowledge Jesus’ is but a shortened version of the expression ‘to acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh’ [ED: from verse 2].  It is important to note that… here…the Spirit’s role is that of witness to the truth of Jesus Christ.

When in 4:2 the author refers to the confession ‘that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh’, he uses a perfect form of the verb ‘to come’, indicating that it is Christ’s status as one come in the flesh, rather than simply the historic act of his coming that he had in mind….9

Judith Lieu notes also the Greek perfect tense and explains the phraseology “in the flesh”.  It is not merely making reference to the Virgin Birth/miraculous conception (not to be confused with the false view of the RCC known as the “immaculate conception” of Mary) but the entire manner with which His being is made known to us during the Incarnation:

Yet to acknowledge Jesus Christ as having come in flesh is not merely another way of saying that he has come into the world.  “In flesh” signals not destination but mode and location: the means by which and wherein his presence is known….10

Bill Johnson Redefines the Antichrist Spirit

Bill Johnson initially defines antichrist spirit correctly (though not completely as anti can also mean “instead of”11):

The nature of the antichrist spirit is found in its name: anti, “against”; Christ, “Anointed One.”12

Yet, on the very next page he deceptively redefines the term:

It would seem that with all the significance attached to the name “Jesus,” anyone desiring to undermine His work of redemption might be referred to as “Anti-Jesus,” not “Anti-Christ.”  Even religious cults recognize and value Jesus, the man.  At the very least, cults consider Him to be a teacher or a prophet and possibly “a” son of God.  This horrendous error provides us with an understanding of why antichrist was the name given to this spirit of opposition.  The spirits of hell are at war against the anointing, for without the anointing mankind is no threat to their dominion.13

Notice the sleight of hand in the last sentence.  While the preceding sentences seem to build the case as to why cults and false religions value Jesus as a man yet not as the Son of God, Johnson’s conclusion totally redefines his own definition of antichrist spirit on the previous page from “against Christ” or “against the Anointed One” to ‘against the anointing’ or ‘anti-anointing’.  This revised definition is used throughout the remainder of the chapter such that anyone who is against “the anointing” (as defined in the beginning of this article) has an antichrist spirit per Johnson.

As noted in an earlier CrossWise article in which this same methodology was employed, this is the mark of cultic teaching and bears repeating here:

This is not unlike the way in which cultists work; i.e., making a series of orthodox statements and then concluding with an unorthodox sentence.  The mind is prepared for a logical, orthodox conclusion so that when what seems to be an illogical or unorthodox conclusion is reached instead, the hearer/reader may reject it assuming he just did not hear or read it correctly or some other such reason.  This is known as cognitive dissonance, the uncomfortable feeling in holding two conflicting views at once, which results in some sort of action to alleviate this feeling in this case which may be either by 1) rejecting the negative thought that the conclusion is unorthodox or illogical while mentally inserting one’s own orthodox or logical conclusion instead; or, 2) just dismissing the conclusion as a misunderstanding on the reader/hearer’s part; or, 3) assuming the speaker simply misspoke.

Yet, just as important if not more so, we see that Johnson has subtly split ‘Christ’ from ‘Jesus’ in his redefining above.  By stating “anyone desiring to undermine His work of redemption might be referred to as ‘Anti-Jesus’ rather than ‘Anti-Christ’” and his subsequent explanation and redefinition of the antichrist spirit, Johnson seems to illustrate the very thing the Apostle John warned against – that the antichrist spirit separates “Christ” from the person of Jesus Christ.  This redefinition itself could be construed as antichrist in nature.  This may be confusing, but please read on.

Johnson Redefines “Christ”

This same methodology above is in evidence in the first two paragraphs which begin this chapter in Johnson’s book – he starts with the correct definition of Christ then redefines it to anointing:

Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  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.14

In this case, Johnson is absolutely correct with his first two sentences; however, with the third through fifth he is claiming that the “title” of Christ was received in a later “experience” which he identifies as “the anointing”.  This “anointing” is consistently defined throughout Johnson’s various works as noted above in the beginning of this article.

The second paragraph continues this line of thought with his concluding sentence making his redefinition clear: “The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit”.  By further logical implication Jesus became “Christ” only after He was “anointed” or “smeared with the Holy Spirit” and, consequently, He was merely Jesus of Nazareth prior to this “anointing”.  That this explanation/analysis is itself correct is borne out in Johnson’s own redefinition of antichrist as essentially ‘anti-anointing’.  Hence, Christ = the anointing and antichrist =anti-anointing’ in Bill Johnson’s theology.

As noted in the previous article, separating Christ from the person of Jesus is known as separationist Christology and is, by the Apostle John’s very definition above, antichrist Christology.

Further Explications and Implications of Johnson’s “Anointing”

With this sort of linguistic gymnastics one is left wondering what is truth and what is falsehood and what the real definition of other terms are in Johnson’s theological corpus.  Which parts of Johnson’s theology can be trusted to be true and accurate?

Johnson carries this same redefinition of Christ as anointing into other works.  Here in another book he states that this “Christ anointing” (aka “baptism in the Holy Spirit”) was not only for Jesus but for all in the Church:

…The outpouring of the Spirit comes to anoint the church with the same Christ anointing that rested upon Jesus in His ministry so that we might be imitators of Him…15

He makes a clear distinction between believers who would by necessity have the Holy Spirit indwelling upon conversion and “the anointing”:

The spirit of antichrist is at work today, attempting to influence believers to reject everything that has to do with the Holy Spirit’s anointing….16

Just to be clear, every truly converted Christian believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and thereby has the Holy Spirit anointing as per Scripture [Eph 1:14; 2 Cor 1:21-22; 1 John 2:20].  Johnson’s “anointing” is separate and distinct.

With his redefined antichrist spirit, Bill Johnson also claims that it leads to “religious spirits” which are described as

…demonic presence that works to get us to substitute being led of our intellect instead of the Spirit of God…Anything that will take the place of dependence upon the Holy Spirit [ED actually, again, Johnson’s “anointing”] and His empowering work can be traced to the spirit of opposition.17

Here we have one of the many times Johnson promotes false dichotomies – as if the intellect and the “Spirit of God” are mutually exclusive.  We worship in Spirit and Truth [John 4:24].  Yes, a person can be led of the flesh and hence his/her own mind; but, as noted by Bob DeWaay, there’s a consistent “anti-intellectual bias” permeating this book (and other works of Johnson).  Also, notice how he has, in effect, drawn a line in the sand between his unorthodox doctrine of “the anointing” and orthodoxy by claiming those who allow the Spirit to lead the intellect have the “spirit of opposition” and a “demonic presence”.

He also promotes “Toronto Blessing” style manifestations while speaking negatively on anyone who opposes these.18  Near the end of the chapter in his book he attempts to flip the table on orthodoxy stating more clearly that those who “embrace Jesus apart from the anointing”, once again, have the antichrist spirit:

The antichrist spirit has a goal for the Church – embrace Jesus apart from the anointing.  Without the anointing, He becomes a safe religious figure who is sure not to offend us…How can people who love God be offended by the anointing of the Holy Spirit?19

If the reader does not understand that “the anointing” is separate from the true Holy Spirit indwelling, s/he would be left wondering why anyone would reject the Holy Spirit and therefore agree with Johnson.

This illustrates quite clearly that Johnson’s Jesus is not only NOT the Jesus Christ of the Bible, Johnson’s whole Christology emanates from an antichrist spirit.  His Jesus could be termed ‘Jesus, the one among many anointed by “the anointing”’ (aka “Christ anointing”, “baptism in the Holy Spirit”, “presence of God”).  The following words by the Apostle Paul could well define Johnson’s theology and his followers:

4For if someone comes to you and preaches another Jesus other than the Jesus we preached , or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough…13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.  14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  15It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.  Their end will be what their actions deserve. [2 Cor. 11:4, 13-15, NIV 1984]

But, it’s not yet too late for Bill Johnson and his followers to repent.

1Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003; Treasure House/Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; pp 79-86
2Johnson, Bill Face to Face with God: The Ultimate Quest to Experience His Presence. 2007; Charisma House ,Lake Mary, FL; p 77.  Underscore added.
3Johnson, Face to Face; pp 21-22, 58, 77-82, 100-102
4Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 80
5Johnson, Face to Face; pp 21-22.
6Judith M. Lieu [I, II & III John: A Commentary. 2008, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY] does an excellent job describing vv 2:22-23 in 1 John by putting it in its original context: “It appears that what sounds like the traditional formula of belief in Jesus as Messiah has taken on a new dimension of sonship…This confirms that the force of the correct confession is ‘that Jesus is the Christ,’ and not, as is grammatically possible, ‘that the Christ [about whom we know] is Jesus [rather than someone else or as not yet appeared]’…The author’s logic is simple and can be understood within its immediate context.  His strategy is to start from what matters: the real charge is not about ‘the Christ,’…Rather, it is that the antichrist denies the Father and the Son: this is no longer denial of belief about (‘that’) but a refusal to acknowledge…it is ultimately a question of acknowledging, or denying the Son…the Son is Son only in relation to the Father, and the Father is Father only in relation to the Son; to reject the Son is to reject both, even if this was not the intention” [p 106].  While Lieu refers to “sonship” this explanation works just as well with the respect to separationist or adoptionist Christology.  The term separationist as regards Christology is defined in Heikki Raisanen’s The Rise of Christian Beliefs [2010, Fortress, Minneapolis, MN; p 208] and is specifically referring to 1st century proto-gnostic Cerinthus.
7Kruse, Colin G. The Letters of John: The Pillar New Testament Commentary. 2000, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 144.  Emphasis added.
8Kruse; p 145
9Kruse; p 145-147
10Lieu; p 167
11Vine, W.E., Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (With Topical Index).  © 1996 W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN; p 30 of New Testament section.
12Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 79.  Emphasis in original.
13Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 80.  Emphasis in original.
14Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 79.  Emphasis in original except underscore added.
15Johnson, Face to Face, p 77.  Underscore added.
16Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 81
17Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 81
18Johnson, Heaven Invades; pp 81-85
19Johnson, Heaven Invades; pp 84-85

The Use of Loaded Language in Hyper-Charismaticism

[This is an excellent article with thought provoking observations.  It was initially posted on a blog which is now inaccessible for unknown (by me) reasons.  I have a suspicion that the author wishes to remain anonymous; however, I could not in good conscience reproduce this and put my name to it – even if I reworded it – as it is something I just would not have thought about or researched on my own.  With this in mind, I will attribute this to “anonymous.”  I’ve made some minor changes from the original, including the title, omitting one sentence which does not detract from the article (evidenced by an ellipse (…)) and updating the link contained therein.  I’ve also added the term “hyper-charismaticism” or “hyper-charismatic” in parentheses.] 

I want to begin this post by stating clearly that this is not going to be a theological discussion per se. It is primarily going to be the discussion of a sociological phenomenon that has been observed through the study of prisoners of war and those involved in cult movements. This post was prompted by the nearly universal lack of reasoning and independent thinking skills of those who continue to post on the blog in favor of the modern prophets (hyper-charismatics). This is one of the many parallels between the modern prophetic movement (hyper-charismaticism) and the world of the cults.

I am convinced that one of the primary reasons for this is the continual use of “loaded language” within the movement.

For those who may be unfamiliar with this term, please allow me to give a very brief and extremely oversimplified history. Robert Lifton did extensive study on the “reprogramming” techniques used by the Chinese on prisoners of war and other political prisoners. He identified several key elements that were nearly universal that were able to bring about “thought reform”. Later, Margaret Thaler Singer, Steven Hassan, and Ronald Enroth built on and modified Lifton’s model as they noticed many of the same techniques being used in cults and spiritually abusive groups to bring about a “group think” among their adherents.

One of these techniques is the use of “loaded language”. Loaded language involves a couple of practices. First, it involves the use of words and phrases that become a unique language to the members of the group itself. (See the International House of Prayer (IHOP) glossary of terms for an example.  This is only a partial list.)  These catch phrases or slogans are laced throughout the teaching ministry of the group.  This language is difficult for those outside the movement to comprehend. In fact, I would submit that many of the members themselves would have an extremely difficult time giving any precise definition to these catch phrases as well. But it goes further. 

Loaded language also has a thought-terminating effect on the individuals who use them…They are a type of mental boundary. They provide easy, simplistic answers to issues and questions. The main purpose they serve within the group is to stifle thoughtful inquiry. These clichés become so ingrained in the adherents’ mental processes that they are accepted without question or reservation and are advanced in knee-jerk fashion when any challenge to the group’s belief arises.

I have become convinced, primarily through the different members of the apostolic/prophetic (hyper-charismatic) movement who have posted on the internet that this movement abounds with this thought-terminating, loaded language. Let me give some examples.

Immediately when someone outside the movement asks where a particular practice is found in the Scripture the loaded language kicks in.

This is part of the new wineskins that God is bringing forth in this generation.”

Or simply,

“God is doing a new thing.”  (Or some variation of the same statement.)

Press further and begin to point out that a particular belief or practice is unknown in church or Biblical history or is contrary to the character of God and you get more loaded language.

“God can’t be put in a box.”

“God is tearing down the religious spirit.”

“You are stuck in your tradition.”

Dare to challenge a particular leader or call into question their doctrine and one runs into more loaded language.

“We are not to judge.”

“Why are you coming against him?”

“Love covers but judgment uncovers.”

“If it is not of God it will fail but if it is of God you can’t stop it.”

Look at the fruit.”

“Touch not my anointed.”

“Truth is a person, not a doctrine.”

“Jesus is more important than doctrine.”

Ask them to evaluate their seemingly out of control behavior and you get….

“God offends the mind to reveal the heart.”

“God doesn’t want us living from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

Push too hard and the ad hominem attacks begin.

“You have a jezebel spirit.”

“You have a religious spirit.”

“Satan is the accuser of the brethren.”

I could go on longer but you get the idea. There is a definite “group think” and “group speak” within the prophetic (hyper-charismatic) movement. The real issue to note however is that these phrases have VERY LITTLE REAL MEANING AND VIRTUALLY NO SUBSTANCE BEHIND THEM. Their sole function is to keep the person in the movement from taking a serious, thoughtful, reflective look at what they are involved in. It’s like mental insulation or blinders.

The real damage from loaded language, other than the fact that it keeps the user in the group, is that it stunts the adherents’ reasoning abilities. The person using the loaded language actually believes he/she has given an answer to the question raised!  However, they have really never dealt substantively with the issues.

As an interesting side note, while the group member staunchly proclaims his freedom, his thinking has actually become very rigid, i.e. “Everything our group does is automatically ok. Anyone who disagrees is a devil.”

These clichés must be challenged. It is important to try to force the members past the slogans to actually thinking for themselves again.  When this is done, the member may experience a “crisis of faith” in which he actually becomes open to looking at the Scriptures without the grid of the group.

Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part II

[It will probably be best to read or review part I before reading this article.  In addition, it is important to view The Kingdom of God is at Hand, Part II as this provides more insight into Bill Johnson’s theology and its possible New Age implications. Once again, I’m indebted to all those who’ve assisted.  Thank you!]

In part I, we discussed the Christology of Bill Johnson based on his words from a portion of his sermon series titled Jesus Is Our Model as well as quotes from other sources. In part II, we will look further into Johnson’s doctrine and compare it to some other aberrant theology. Here’s the same part of his sermon which was referenced in the first part:

“…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.’” [1]

Word of Faith Connections and Disconnections

Kenneth E. Hagin, who borrows heavily from E. W. Kenyon, used the same verses as Johnson in speaking about a ‘born again’ Jesus. Hagin starts out in Hebrews 1:4-5 explaining how Jesus inherited His “more excellent Name”[2]. Then, just as Johnson does (or, perhaps the converse is more correct as it appears Johnson is copying Hagin), Hagin proceeds to Acts 13:33 to ‘explain’ how and when Jesus was born again:

“When was it that Jesus was begotten? When He was raised up! On that Resurrection morn!” [3]

So far this is practically identical to Johnson in terms of the method used although Hagin writes in his idiosyncratic Southern style in explaining his view. While Johnson does not provide his reasons as to why Jesus was ‘born again,’ Hagin does:

“Why did He need to be begotten, or born? Because He became like we were, separated from God. Because He tasted spiritual death for every man. His spirit, His inner man, went to hell in our place.”

“…Physical death would not remove our sins….”

Jesus is the first person ever to be born again.” [4] [emphasis added]

“Spiritual death means something more than separation from God. Spiritual death also means having Satan’s nature.” [5][emphasis in original]

Can we conclude that Johnson may believe that Jesus died spiritually as does Hagin? It’s certainly possible; however, absent an explanation from Johnson himself we are still left wondering. There is one important difference between Hagin’s and Johnsons’ renditions, though. Hagin claims Jesus was “not born as He took on flesh” because He “preexisted with the Father” stating that Jesus “just took upon Himself a body.”[6] Then, he makes the definitive claim that Jesus died spiritually on the Cross requiring that He be born again. However, Johnson states that Jesus was “born through Mary the first time” and had to be ‘born again’ because He ‘became sin’ with no further explanation.

Kenneth E. “Papa” Hagin is known as the “Daddy” of the Word of Faith movement. If that’s the case, then E. W. Kenyon is the grandfather since Hagin largely emulates his teachings. Kenyon’s doctrine has much in common with New Thought [7] and that’s because he was a follower of founder Phineas P. Quimby’s teachings. For an excellent expose on Word of Faith read Atonement Where?[8] by Moreno Dal Bello.

Some New Age doctrine seems to come from New Thought ideology:

“The New Thought movement, which originated in the late 19th and early 20th century, has at its core a belief that a higher power pervades all existence, and that individuals can create their own reality via affirmations, meditation and prayer. Early New Thought groups emerged from a Christian Science background, and many New Thought writers refer back to the Bible as their foundation text. New Thought resembles in some respects New Age philosophy, although some… …groups dismiss a connection….” [9]

While Johnson may diverge a bit from Word of Faith teachings, it seems he has much more in common than not with this false doctrine as much of the rest of this article will confirm.

Baptism in Confusion

There was an unanswered point in part I of this article:

… The view of Jesus being God’s Son at or through the Resurrection is only unorthodox if the belief is that Jesus was not the Son of God before this event….

Bill Johnson quoted Matthew 3:17 from the NKJV, “‘This is My much loved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”[10]; so, it would seem that he believes Jesus was the Father’s Son at baptism, if not before. However, the question that remains is if Johnson believes Jesus was divine at any point before baptism. It also seems possible though that Johnson believes Jesus was divine at the Virgin Birth (His Incarnation) even though his claim is that Jesus did not become The Christ until baptism at which point He received this ‘title’ of Christ. As pointed out in part I, this, of course, creates a contradiction within Johnson’s theology as Christ is the transliterated Greek word Christos which is taken from the Hebrew word meaning Messiah of which there can be only one; however, Johnson states we all can receive the same “anointing” as Jesus did. This would mean, in effect, we, too would attain the ‘title’ of Christ – which is tantamount to calling us individual Messiahs!

Passages such as the following from his 2007 book Face To Face With God aid in perpetuating this contradiction:

“…The outpouring of the Spirit comes to anoint the church with the same Christ anointing that rested upon Jesus in His ministry so that we might be imitators of Him.” [11]

Johnson makes it clear that Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist was what is known as the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” and it’s this baptism which provided the ‘power’ of the Holy Spirit which Jesus needed to perform the works of His earthly ministry. And, again, it’s this baptism all believers must receive in order to live a life of miracles, signs and wonders according to Johnson. [12]

Johnson explains this by differentiating between the Holy Spirit indwelling which “comes about at our conversion” and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which is “upon” the believer.[13] Johnson declares emphatically “He’s in me for my sake, but He’s upon me for yours! ” in affirming the supposed tangible nature of this “anointing.”[14] He uses the Apostles – the real first century ones – as an example claiming Jesus Christ “breathed” the Holy Spirit indwelling into them in John 20:22:

“…In the lives of Christ’s disciples, we see this take place in John 20:22, when Jesus met with them, ‘breathed on them’ and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ But at His ascension [sic], Jesus told these same people that the Holy Spirit was going to come upon them. The Holy Spirit was already in them, but He was going to come upon them with power… ” [15] [emphasis added]

This raises some questions such as: Why didn’t Jesus “breathe” the Holy Spirit in/on them sooner? Given that the 72 were sent out (Luke 10) well before the events recorded in John 20:22 which took place while Jesus was on the earth in his post-resurrection body, why didn’t Jesus have the Holy Spirit indwell them at that time or before? Or did Jesus do this for the 72 and not the eleven (the twelve minus Judas Iscariot)? And, if the 72 weren’t – to use Johnson’s theology – both indwelled with the Holy Spirit and Baptized in the Holy Spirit, how could they have healed the sick and driven out demons?

Johnson states that the Holy Spirit “was already in Jesus’ life” [16] when Jesus received the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” at His Baptism by John. How can this be reconciled with Johnson’s belief that this ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit’ could only come after Jesus’ Ascension?[17] Since John’s baptism was one of repentance, how could he provide Jesus a “Baptism of the Holy Spirit?”

Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove. This was an identifying sign that Jesus was the Son of God. This was not an “impartation.” The Apostle John makes this distinction clear:

32 Then John [the Baptist] gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” [John 1:32-34 NIV]

Orthodox Christianity attests that prior to the events of the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 the Holy Spirit indwelling was “selective and temporary.”[18] The permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit was not available until after Jesus Christ’s Ascension. While most, if not all, Pentecostal and charismatic denominations believe in a second baptism or “blessing” – known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit – (also the view is that sometimes these two can occur simultaneously rather than being separate events) many other Christians do not.

Sinless at the Other Side of the Cross

“Jesus Christ was entirely God. He was not a created being, yet He became a man and lived entirely within man’s limitations. His ability to demonstrate power, walk on water, and carry out countless other divine manifestations was completely due to the fact that He was without sin and was totally yielded to the Holy Spirit. He became the model for everyone who would experience the cleansing of sin by the blood of Jesus.

The forgiveness that God gives puts every believer in a place without sin. The only question that remains is how empowered by the Holy Spirit we are willing to be.” [19]

This is worded very poorly and seems to suggest heterodoxy. Johnson can be quite explicit in some passages as he writes; so, it’s curious why he wasn’t more careful with this one. He had already stated that Jesus “laid His divinity aside”[20] and when this statement is added to just the bolded portion in the first paragraph we seem to have a “Jesus” that “became man” (at birth/Incarnation?) and performed supernatural acts “entirely” by yielding to the Holy Spirit’s power. Taking the entire first paragraph as a whole this could lead to the conclusion that during His earthly existence Jesus was not God in human flesh but, rather a man who lived a life powered by the Holy Spirit after Baptism even though He preexisted as God.

The second paragraph of the Johnson quote above creates two problems, especially when viewed in its full context in the whole of both paragraphs. The first is that it can be construed that Jesus could have sinned but did not solely because of submission to the Holy Spirit. Further support for this view comes from this quote from part I: “…He sought to fulfill the assignment given to Him by the Father: to live life as a man without sin…”[21]

Secondly, it can be understood – in fact it seems to state outright – that believers can live a sinless life if they “are willing” to be fully empowered by the Holy Spirit. If this second view is not entirely driven home above, Johnson makes it clear in his words below by claiming believers are now dead to sin and its nature:

“Many believe His power exists only to help us overcome sin. This understanding stops very short of the Father’s intent for us to become witnesses of another world. Doesn’t it seem strange that our whole Christian life should be focused on overcoming something that has already been defeated? Sin and its nature have been yanked out by its roots…”

“…Many in the church are camped on the wrong side of the Cross… …I don’t need power to overcome something [sin] if I’m dead to it” [22] [emphasis added]

The human sin nature does not ever leave us this side of glory since it’s a part of the human condition as a result of the The Fall in the Garden of Eden. It’s a struggle of all humanity – unsaved or saved. The Holy Spirit indwelled believer can choose to be led of the Spirit or to succumb to the sinful nature [cf. Galatians 5:16-26]; but, the believer never lives in a sinless state until the other side of Glory. The Apostle John states it quite succinctly:

“8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” [I John 1:8 NIV]

This is another example of the already but not yet [23] as discussed in both The Kingdom of God is at Hand articles on this blog. The Apostle Paul speaks of the struggle with sin and outlines the process of sanctification in Romans chapters 6, 7, 8 and 12 by a life lived by and through the Spirit. For a good discussion on sanctification see Sanctification – Set Apart.[24]

Kenneth E. Hagin’s view is similar to Johnson’s:

You see, as long as I believe that I receive forgiveness of my sins, and that’s all (not remission, but just forgiveness), then I remain in the position where Satan will dominate me all my life….” [25]

By making the distinction between “forgiveness” and “remission” Hagin seems to be saying that sin will, just like a sickness in remission, be absent from the believer for an indefinite period of time. He also speaks negatively about the Cross while promoting the Resurrection side:

“The Cross is actually a place of defeat, whereas the Resurrection is a place of triumph. When you preach the cross, you’re preaching death, and you leave people in death.” [26]

This negative view of the Cross bears a resemblance to the Theosophic/New Age/occult/esoteric teachings of Alice A. Bailey from a book from 1937:

“The outstanding need of Christianity today is to emphasize the living, risen Christ. We have argued too long over the death of Christ, seeking to impose a narrow sectarian Christ upon the world. We have fed the fires of separation by our Christian divisions, churches, sects and ‘isms.’ ‘Their name is legion,’ and most of them are founded upon some sectarian presentation of the dead Christ, and of the earlier aspects of His story. Let us now unite on the basis of the risen Christ…” [27] [emphasis added]

Notice how Bailey refers to the denominational orthodox Christian view and their focus on “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” [I Corinthians 2:2] as “legion” just like the self-ascribed name of the demons who inhabited the man from the region of the Gerasenes in the account of Mark 5:1-17. While Johnson does not go any where near as far as Bailey does here, he does speak negatively about denominations and “religion” throughout his books; and, at one point he even called our present age the “post-denominational era.” [28]

The question is: why would a New Ager speak positively about any aspect of the Cross? Wouldn’t the New Ager look upon Christianity in general with utter disdain? This question will be answered as we progress through this article and part III. And, why would Johnson and Hagin – purported ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – speak negatively on any aspect of the Cross? Shouldn’t this be the central focus of Christianity as the Apostle Paul stated numerous times?

The Resurrection of the Latter Rain

If there was any doubt, Johnson makes it clear that he adheres to Latter Rain (or New Order of the Latter Rain) doctrine – an aberrant branch of Pentecostalism/charismaticism:

“On the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared that the promise of Joel 2 was fulfilled. …Yet, that day was only the initial fulfillment of the promise – the Spirit was poured out on that day, but there is a day coming in which He will truly be poured out on all flesh….” [29] [bolding from emphasis in original]

The way this is worded it sounds as though Johnson is adhering to universalism – a New Age concept that all will be (or can be) saved.  In a video advertisement for a recent  “Open Heavens” conference (October 13-15, 2010) once again Johnson stresses the word “all”:

 “What does it mean to you when it says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on A-L-L flesh?’ Everywhere I go IS an open heaven. Miracles follow those who believe. Whenever He restores something, he restores it to a place greater than before. I’ve lived without miracles, and I’ve lived with miracles. With miracles is better.” [30]

Continuing with Johnson from the quote above regarding Joel 2:

“…This is a fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit being poured as the early and latter rain. The early rain was the first century, and the latter is now.” [31]

As justification for his position, Johnson uses the water turned to wine at the wedding in Cana and Job’s returned possessions as ‘proof’ that God “saves the best for last” and to disagree with him is “at best pure ignorance or at worst unbelief.”[32] Yet the Assemblies of God – the denomination of which Bill Johnson was formerly a part – denounced Latter Rain as heresy back in 1949.[33]

The Latter Rain movement went underground in the 1950s but emerged again in the 1970s and has gained momentum since then.

Here’s Johnson claiming we can seek to emulate Jesus in His glorified state as described by John in Revelation 1:13-16 by the power of the ‘other side of the Cross:’

“The ‘as He is, so are we’ [1st John 4:17] declaration is far beyond what any of us could have imagined; especially in light of the glorified description of Jesus in Revelation, chapter 1. Yet, the Holy Spirit was sent specifically for this purpose that we might attain… ‘to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’

“The Holy Spirit came with the ultimate assignment at the perfect time. During Jesus’ ministry, it was said, ‘The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.’ …why didn’t the Father send Him until Jesus was glorified? Because without Jesus in His glorified state there was no heavenly model of what we were to become! …As He is, so are we in the world.

“The Christian life is not found on the Cross. It is found because of the Cross. It is His resurrection power that energizes the believer…” [34] [bolding from italicized original; underlining added for emphasis]

Johnson speaks more on this “resurrection power” for the believer:

At some point the reality of the resurrection [sic] must come into play in our lives – we must discover the power of the resurrection [sic] for all who believe.

“…we must follow Him all the way – to a lifestyle empowered by the resurrection!” [35] [bolding from italicized original, underlining added for emphasis]

Johnson’s words above are similar to some of Kenyon’s as taught by Hagin. After stating that as representatives of Christ “[w]e are Christ” “not only collectively, but individually” Hagin quotes 1st John 4:17 just as Johnson does above: “As He is, so are we in this world.” Then he poses the question: “when we get to heaven?” [36] to which he answers:

“No! In this world! Glory!” [37]

And, here Hagin quotes Kenyon directly:

“Oh, that our eyes were open; that our souls would dare rise into the realm of Omnipotence… …that we would act up to our high privileges in Christ Jesus.” [38]

“…so far, none of us have been able to take a permanent place in our privileges and abide where we may enjoy the fullness of this mighty power….

“But we have a conviction that before the Lord Jesus returns, there will be a mighty army of believers who will learn the secret of living in the Name, of reigning in life, living the victorious, transcendent, resurrection life of the Son of God among men….” [39]

“If our minds could only grasp… …that Satan is paralyzed… …it would be easy to live in this Resurrection Realm.” [40] [emphasis added]

Manifest Sons of God: The New Breed

This sounds very close to, if not is by definition, Manifest Sons of God (MSoG) doctrine. Known by other names such as Sonship[not to be confused with the orthodox doctrine of the same name], Overcomers, Joel’s Army and New Breed among others, MSoG is part of Latter Rain (or New Order of the Latter Rain) which teaches that certain individuals can obtain their resurrected, glorified bodies, as in 1st Corinthians 15:35-55, in the here and now before the Rapture and/or the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Yet, as verses 51 and 52 of 1st Corinthians make clear, all true believers in Jesus Christ will receive resurrection bodies at the same time. This false teaching is largely based on a faulty interpretation of Romans 8:19-23:

19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from the bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. [NIV; emphasis added]

Verses 24 and 25 which follow the above make it clear that this is a future promise; and, as 1st Corinthians 15:50-52 and 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17 attest, the dead in Christ are raised first a nanosecond before the living and all this occurs “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye” [NIV] at the same time. No living person precedes another living person and no living person will receive their resurrection body before the dead in Christ receive theirs.

For more on “resurrection power” and “Resurrection Life,” here’s Todd Bentley from August 08, 2008 at Rick Joyner’s Morningstar Ministries speaking of the fourth stage/floor/level he saw in a vision:

“I got up to the fourth floor, the door opened, it was Romans 8, the manifestation of the sons of God, power, dominion, and it was called ‘Resurrection Life.’” [41] [emphasis mine]

Bentley claims that at this point he enquired of God about the difference between raising the dead and “resurrection life.” In his account, God answered explaining that “resurrection life” will result in a coming “corporate anointing” in which people will be raised from the dead just because of “the anointing in the atmosphere.”[42]

“And that’s when I said, ‘God, I’m not focused on raising the dead anymore, I want resurrection life.’

“Do you know raising the dead isn’t something that happens? Raising the dead is a person. Resurrection isn’t something that happens – resurrection is a person. Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection, I am the life.’ Raising the dead is Jesus. When the dead are raised, it’s Jesus. …Resurrection is Jesus, not something that happens.” [43]

Following along with this train of thought leads to the ‘we are Christ, we are Jesus’ similar to Johnson’s ‘Christ anointing.’ Bentley continues:

“God’s going to move the church into such a realm… But, we’re moving into a realm of Romans 8: resurrection life; power; dominion over every sin, sickness, disease, death. …Because everything is the person of Jesus. [ed: panentheism?] And, we are pressing in for that ‘Romans 1:4 anointing.’” [44] [emphasis added]

Bob Jones relates just what this “Romans 1:4 anointing” is:

“What He’s doing now is bringing you to a level of maturity where you grow up. And, if you grow up you’ll never regress, you’ll continue progress year by year. So, what he’s talking about is the New Breed, is this: it’s Romans 1:4 – the spirit of holiness. So, for years I tried to get understanding of what the spirit of holiness is for it’s different than the Holy Spirit…” [45] [emphasis added]

Different than the Holy Spirit?! What ‘spirit’ would THAT be?! Continuing with Bentley:

“Do you know how Jesus was raised from the dead? By the spirit of holiness and declared by the resurrection of the dead…” [46]

Clearly, it was the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus Christ’s lifeless human body. However, it’s less clear which kind of spirit Jones and Bentley are speaking about (or, maybe it’s not). Continuing from the above:

“…And, I just believe there’s an impartation to call forth ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ – the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.’” [47]

True Christians already have the Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead – the Holy Spirit indwelling – and the “hope of glory” at initial conversion. Why the need for a further ‘impartation?’ These ‘impartations’ seem to have more in common with the occult than Christianity especially as Bentley describes them as “levels” or “stages/floors” which sound eerily like “initiations.”

“And, I want to take one moment church, and I want to press in, I want you to press in with me, to go from one floor, to two floors, to three levels, to four. And, let’s progress and let’s say, ‘God, beyond raising the dead, beyond notable miracles, beyond healing, let there be a release in the Church of the realm of glory and power and dominion and authority that affects everything that’s death and decay around us.’ And, it’s true victory, it’s true resurrection life, true resurrection power, and true resurrection glory

People will be made alive – born again.” [48] [emphasis added]

So, according to Bentley, this “resurrection life” makes one or leads one to be ‘born again?’ Going back to Johnson: The original sermon series from which Bill Johnson makes the ‘born again Jesus’ comments is titled Jesus is Our Model – a theme echoed in his books. So, is he saying essentially the same thing as Bentley; i.e., is Johnson saying that we are to become ‘born again’ and achieve “resurrection life” using Jesus as our model given that – according to Johnson in the transcript – Jesus was “born again through the Resurrection?

While it is possible that Johnson means something a bit different than Bentley, the wording and implications look the same. However, one must take into account the fact that Bill Johnson feels so strongly about Todd Bentley that he defended him during Lakeland[49]. [Here's the corresponding video with him reading an email beginning around the 21:00 mark.] In response to this question: “What do you think of Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Revival” Johnson answers:

“Have you spent time with Todd? Do you know him? …Have you laid hands on him and prayed? Has he laid hands on you and prayed? Have you grieved over tragedy together? Have you celebrated victory together? Has he sought your counsel?…Have you ever received his counsel?

“I didn’t think so. I have. And I’ll continue to support those who I have walked with in life and ministry. He’s my friend…” [50]

Obviously, they had a close relationship not just in their association within ministry but in their personal lives as well. While this still doesn’t definitively prove a connection regarding their respective doctrines, it shows each was likely aware of the other’s. Also, Johnson lists both Todd Bentley’s Fresh Fire USA Ministries as well as Bob Jones as “Friends”[51] on one of his sites. In his book Face to Face With God, Johnson writes on the New Breed himself:

“We are in the throes of change; a reformation will impact society on all fronts. This is happening largely because today there is a new breed of believer.” [52] [emphasis added]

If that’s not convincing enough when added to all the above that Johnson is teaching MSoG, consider this. Todd Bentley was one of the endorsers on at least two of Bill Johnson’s books: When Heaven Invades Earth and The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind.[53] Similarly, Bill Johnson endorsed four[54] of Bentley’s books including Journey into the Miraculous from 2008 in which he writes in his endorsement:

I love this book. …this book is more than a story about his life. It’s a prophetic declaration of God’s intent for an entire generation….” [55][emphasis added]

The Militant Joel’s Army of the Manifested Sons of God

Right in the first chapter titled “The End-Time Healing Revival” of Bentley’s Journey into the Miraculous are some “prophetic words” of Bob Jones, Paul Cain and even Benny Hinn(!); and, on the very first page:

For 20 years, the prophets have foretold about a youthful generation that will rise up… In 1973, the Lord showed Prophet Bob Jones this coming anointing that would fall on God’s people. Bob told me that I was part of the ‘first fruits’ wave of a billion people whom God would light on fire.” [56] [emphasis added]

Then, referring to a quote of Paul Cain in a section titled “JOEL’S ARMY,” Bentley relates:

“…They’d learn patient endurance, how to demonstrate the power of God, and, having learned all, stand against the enemy. As Christian soldiers, they’d have the mind of Christ, and ‘partake of the heavenly calling, and be a new breed, God’s dread champions.’” [57]

This is “Joel’s mighty army” Bentley is speaking of “as described in Joel chapter 2” who are “the army of God – not a wicked army (as some have thought).”[58] However, it should be noted that Biblical scholars generally agree that the army of Joel 2:1-11 refers to both a locust plague and the Assyrian army who chastened the Nation Israel in the 7th and 8th century BC.[59]  And, there is likely a future fulfillment in the ‘Day of the Lord’ identified in Zechariah 14:2 as an evil army (also see Revelation 9:2-9) arrayed against Jerusalem which will be defeated by the Lord Himself (Zech 14:3-4; Rev 19:15).

In the following, Bentley quotes Paul Cain from the Grace City Report Special Prophetic Edition, from Fall 1989:

“‘They are the ones with feet of iron not mixed of clay, with the wisdom of God alone, not imitators of other men of God. Some of the superstars of the church will fall. The Lord will have an army of holy anointed vessels to usher in His Kingdom so that no one man can take credit for it. It will be to the glory of God alone.’” [60]

For those unaware, according to the Latter Rain view, Joel’s Army/Manifested Sons of God will be exacting judgment and penalty unto death if necessary upon those in the Church who do not go along with this “end-times move of the Spirit” as per Rick Joyner’s “vision” in The Final Quest [61] and earlier MorningStar Journals from Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries. This dispensing of “God’s judgment” or “cleansing of evil” was spoken of in Constance Cumbey’s 1985 book A Planned Deception as one of the stated goals of both New Agers and Manifested Sons of God[62]. This “old-order brethren” is referenced in Bentley’s book as spoken of here in the following quote from Paul Cain’s You Can Become the Word! at a 1989 Vineyard Prophetic Conference:

“…God has invited us to have a role in establishing a new order of ChristianityGod is offering to this generation something He has never offered to any other generation…beware lest old-order brethren rob you and steal this hope from you.” [63] [emphasis added]

Oddly, Bentley even quotes Jewel Grewe of Discernment Ministries(!) from one of her Discernment Newsletters in quoting Paul Cain:

“As Paul Cain says, these days will be marked by miracles; ‘All the sick are gonna be healed, the dead are gonna be raised and nations are gonna turn to God in a day.’ (Bob Jones and Paul Cain, Selections from the Kansas City Prophets, audiotape from discernment newsletter).” [64] [all as per original except bolding/underlining for emphasis]

Since Bill Johnson endorsed Bentley’s Journey into the Supernatural and claims that he “loves this book,” it’s fair to say he agrees with Bentley’s views regarding Joel’s Army as stated in the quotes above. Then, by extension, perhaps Johnson agrees with Todd Bentley’s and Bob Jones’ words from the 08/08/08 DVD as referenced above as well especially since Johnson has already identified with the New Breed which is another name for Joel’s Army or Manifest Sons of God.

A New Age Christ?

Here’s Johnson teaching more MSoG in a You Tube video:

“…It’s the Spirit of God that makes this thing [the Bible, which he’s holding] come alive to where we actually have the privilege of the Word becoming flesh in us again, where we become the living illustration and manifestation of what God is saying.” [65] [emphasis mine]

The bolded portion above is reminiscent of what is known as “birthing the man-child”[66] – yet another euphemism for the purported Manifested Sons of God. Also, it needs to be noted that this bolded portion sounds like it relates to the title of the piece from the Vineyard Prophetic Conference of Paul Cain mentioned above: You Can Become the Word! In addition, the above quote sounds quite a bit like some words by the late Earl Paulk from his 1985 book Held in the Heavens Until…:

The living Word of God, Jesus Christ, was conceived in the womb of a virgin. The Word became flesh in the God man, Jesus Christ… Likewise, the Word of God must be made flesh in the Church in order for us to bear witness to the Kingdom which God has called us to demonstrate” [67] [emphasis added]

“…Natural conception and birth graphically symbolize God’s offspring in His Church. The Church is the womb of God’s Kingdom. God wants to quicken His Word, to bring it alive in us, causing us to live by His Word, not by sight or natural understanding.” [68] [emphasis added]

All things have been given to us, even to the point of allowing us to share the divine nature of Jesus. Sharing His nature is a definition of the ongoing incarnation of God on the earth. ‘Christ in us, the hope of glory.’ His inheritance is already ours.” [69][emphasis added]

Taken together, these quotes seem quite similar to the New Age view of bringing in the “Kingdom of God” as mentioned in the “New Age Kingdom” section of The Kingdom of God is at Hand, part II article on this blog.

By quoting “Christ in us, the hope of glory” as Paulk and Bentley both do, the implication in their respective contexts above seems to infer our own divinity. This sounds eerily similar to the New Age/Theosophic/esoteric/occult teachings of Alice A. Bailey working as a medium for one of the “Masters of Wisdom” identified as “Master DK” or “Djwhal Khul” from her 1948 book The Reappearance of the Christ:

“…Inherent in the human consciousness… …is a sense of divinity. …‘As He is, so are we in this world.’ (1 John IV:17) is another Biblical statement. …‘Christ in us, the hope of glory’ is the triumphant affirmation of St. Paul.” [70]

Of course, both Johnson and Hagin quote 1st John 4:17 above in the “Resurrection of the Latter Rain” section. Restating part of Johnson’s quote:

“The ‘as He is, so are we’ [1st John 4:17] declaration is far beyond what any of us could have imagined; especially in light of the glorified description of Jesus in Revelation, chapter 1. Yet, the Holy Spirit was sent specifically for this purpose that we might attain… ‘to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’

“…why didn’t the Father send Him [the Holy Spirit] until Jesus was glorified? Because without Jesus in His glorified state there was no heavenly model of what we were to become! …As He is, so are we in the world.

“The Christian life is not found on the Cross. It is found because of the Cross. It is His resurrection power that energizes the believer…” [71] [bolding from italicized original; bold/underlining added for emphasis]

This focus on the “Resurrection side of the Cross” at the expense of the Cross itself as Johnson, Hagin, Bentley and others do above, as evidenced by quotes in this article, is yet another aspect of the New Age religion as referenced in the “Sinless at the Other Side of Cross” section above. Quoting Bailey again in The Destiny of the Nations from 1949:

“In the Aquarian Age, the Risen Christ… …will not this time demonstrate the perfected life of the Son of God, which was his main mission before; He will appear as the supreme Head of the Spiritual Hierarchy, meeting the need of the thirsty nations of the world – thirsty for truth, for right human relations and for loving understanding. He will be recognized this time by all and in His Own Person will testify to the fact of the resurrection and hence demonstrate the paralleling fact of immortality of the soul, of the spiritual man. The emphasis during the past two thousand years has been on death; it has coloured all the teaching of the orthodox; only one day in the year has been dedicated to the thought of the resurrection. The emphasis in the Aquarian Age will be on life and freedom from the tomb of matter, and this is the note which will distinguish the new world religion from all that have preceded it.” [72]

This “death” emphasized over “the past two thousand years” is the preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The “paralleling fact of immortality of the soul” is the ‘fact’ of “inherent divinity.” This “Spiritual Hierarchy” is also known as the “Masters of Wisdom” who are, in reality, demons. Their “Risen Christ” is actually referring to the coming antichrist.

Are Bill Johnson and company teaching and preaching a New Age Christ whether unwittingly or wittingly?

Endnotes:

[1] “ewenhuffman” Jesus is our Model- Sermon of the week 20 Dec 09. <http://ewenhuffman.podbean.com/2009/12/23/jesus-is-our-model-sermon-of-the-week-20-dec-09/> 33:48 to 34:57; as accessed 11/08/10
[2] Hagin, Kenneth E. The Name of Jesus. 1979, 3rd printing 1981; Rhema Bible Church aka Kenneth Hagin Ministries / Faith Library, Tulsa, OK; p 28
[3] ibid.
[4] ibid. p 29
[5] ibid. p 31
[6] ibid. p28
[7] Affiliated New Thought Network The Philosophy of New Thought. <http://www.newthought.org/new_thought.html>; as accessed 11/08/10
[8] THE WORD on the The Word of Faith (a GroupBlog) Atonement Where? By Moreno Dal Bello <http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2010/10/15/atonement-where-1-mdbello/>; as accessed 11/08/10
[9] Hare, John Bruno / Internet Sacred Text Archive New Thought. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/nth/index.htm>; as accessed 11/08/10
[10] Johnson, Bill When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 99
[11] Johnson, Bill Face to Face with God. 2007; Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL; p 77
[12] ibid. p 99-102
[13] ibid. p 78
[14] Johnson, Op.cit. When Heaven Invades Earth. p 134
[15] Johnson, Op.cit. Face to Face with God. p 78
[16] ibid. p 21-22
[17] Johnson, Op.cit. When Heaven Invades Earth. p 145
[18] Got Questions? What Was the Role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament? <http://www.gotquestions.org/Spirit-Old-Testament.html>; par 4; as accessed 11/08/10
[19] Johnson, Op.cit. Face to Face with God. p 199
[20] Johnson, Op.cit. When Heaven Invades Earth. p 79
[21] ibid.
[22] ibid. p 110
[23] Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stewart How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. second edition, 1993; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 133-134
[24] AllaboutGOD.com / All About Following Jesus Sanctification – Set Apart. <http://www.allaboutfollowingjesus.org/sanctification.htm>; as accessed 11/08/10
[25] Hagin, Op.cit. p 55
[26] Hagin, Kenneth E. The Believer’s Authority. 1986, 2nd ed.; Rhema Bible Church aka Kenneth Hagin Ministries / Faith Library; Tulsa, OK; p 16
[27] Bailey, Alice A. From Bethlehem to Calvary. Copyright 1937 by Alice A. Bailey, renewed 1957 by Foster Bailey; Lucis Trust, 4th paperback edition, 1989; Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; pp 238-239
[28] Johnson, Op.cit. When Heaven Invades Earth. p 90
[29] Johnson, Op.cit. Face to Face with God. p 76
[30] ibethelTV Open Heavens 2010. < http://vimeo.com/15808994 > as accessed 03/26/11
[31] ibid. pp 76-77
[32] ibid. p 77
[33] Wikipedia The General Council of the Assemblies of God in the United States of America. “Relations with other denominations and renewal movements” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Council_of_the_Assemblies_of_God_in_the_United_States_of_America>; as accessed 11/08/10
[34] Johnson, Op.cit. When Heaven Invades Earth. p 145
[35] ibid. p 146
[36] Hagin, Op.cit. The Name of Jesus. pp 106-107
[37] ibid. p 107
[38] ibid. p 49
[39] ibid. p 52
[40] ibid. p 53
[41] Bentley, Todd Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service 08-08-08. DVD; available at MorningStar Ministries Store <http://www.morningstarministries.org/Store/Products/1000013034/MorningStar_Store/Media_Store/Teaching_Sets/All_Teaching_Sets/DVD_Teaching_Sets/Todd_Bentley_Healing.aspx>; 1953:26 – 1953:37
[42] ibid. 1953:37 – 1954:44
[43] ibid. 1955:18 – 1956:00
[44] ibid. 1956:00 – 1956:38
[45] ibid. 1934:39 – 1935:10 (Bob Jones speaking)
[46] ibid. 1956:38 – 1956:46
[47] ibid. 1956:46 – 1957:00
[48] ibid. 1956:58 – 1957:53
[49] Bill Johnson Ministries, Questions and Answers. “UPDATE: What do you think about Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Revival? June ‘08” <http://www.bjm.org/questions/11/update-what-do-you-think-about-todd-bentley-and-the-lakeland-revival.html?file=regarding-todd-bentley>; as accessed 11/08/10
[50] ibid.
[51] Bill Johnson Ministries, Friends. <http://www.bjm.org/friends.html>
[52] Johnson, Op.cit. Face to Face with God. p 139
[53] Both books from Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., copyright 2003 and 2005 respectively
[54] Journey into the Miraculous, Sound of Fire Productions, Ltd.; 2003 / Journey into the Miraculous, Destiny Image; January 1, 2008 / “Endorsements” ; The Reality of the Supernatural World, Destiny Image; June 1, 2008; “Endorsements” / Kingdom Rising, Destiny Image; October 1, 2008: pp 15-17
[55] Bentley, Todd Journey into the Miraculous. 2008; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; “Endorsements”
[56] ibid. pp 21-22
[57] ibid. pp 22-23
[58] ibid. p 23
[59] Gaebelein, Frank E., Gen. Ed. “Joel.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 7. 1985; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 245-250. with contribution by Richard D. Patterson
[60] Bentley, Op.cit. p 23
[61] Joyner, Rick The Final Quest. 1996, 2nd ed.; MorningStar Publications, Charlotte, NC; pp 36-38
[62] Cumbey, Constance A Planned Deception. 1985; Pointe Publishers, East Detroit, MI; p 172
[63] Bentley, Op.cit. pp 24-25
[64] ibid. p 25
[65] “whizzpopping” You Tube video, Bill Johnson – Friendship with God. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4RZ_ctiwlE&gt>; 1:24 – 1:37; as accessed 11/08/10
[66] Booth, Tricia (formerly Tillin), The Birthpangs of a New Age. “The Birth of the Manchild” <http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/latterrain/manchild.html>; as accessed 11/08/10
[67] Paulk, Earl, Held in the Heavens Until…. 1985; K Dimension, Atlanta, GA; p 156
[68] ibid.
[69] ibid. p 197
[70] Bailey, Alice A. The Reappearance of the Christ. 1948, Lucis Trust, 9th printing 1979 (4th Paperback ed.); Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, NY; p 145
[71] Johnson, Op.cit. When Heaven Invades Earth. p 145
[72] Bailey, Alice A. The Destiny of the Nations. 1949, Lucis Trust, 5th printing 1974 (2nd Paperback ed.); Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, NY; pp 150-151

Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part I

[For a more in-depth investigation, see the series Bill Johnson's Christology: A New Age Christ? in all its parts. For additional articles see Anthology of Bill Johnson Articles (So Far)]

{Update on 11/22/11: I’ve just realized the information sourced from “Got Questions” at footnote 25 has been updated/corrected.  This article has been updated to reflect that change.  More explanation is contained in comment 842 below.}

{I’ve just now found an error (Jan. 2, 2011) in my copy of the NIV Study Bible regarding kenosis which I had perpetuated in a portion of endnote 9.  I’ve now deleted this erroneous verbiage and put an explanation of this in comment #136 of this post.  I sincerely regret the error.}

[This article could not have been completed without the work of others who came before me, the assistance of those who pointed me to certain texts and documents, the expertise of those whom I consulted for advice and clarification on theological matters, and the help of the individuals who assisted me on readability before finalizing this document. To all of these I say, “Thank you!”]

[The Kingdom of God is at Hand, Part II provides pertinent information as a bridge of sorts to Part II of this article.]

On a recently uploaded YouTube video[1] there are two clips put together exposing some faulty teaching of “Apostle” Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, CA.[2]  In the second part, which begins at 3:40, Johnson states that Jesus was ‘born again.’  Here[3] is the uncut sermon from December 20, 2009 with the ‘born again’ Jesus portion beginning at 33:48.  Following is the transcription:

“…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.’” [4]

Did Jesus become sin?  If so, when?  Was it at His incarnation?  Was it on the cross?  Was it some time in between?

As we examine Scripture we find, of course, that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.[5]  However, Scripture does say He ‘became sin’ as substitution for ours:

21God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.                                   [II Corinthians 5:21 NIV]

Please note that Jesus Christ did not ‘become sin’ in that He did not become a sinful being with corruptible flesh but, rather, our sins were imputed to Him by the Father to atone for the sins of all who believe on Him.  The following explains this:

“God used the principle of imputation to benefit mankind when He imputed the sin of believers to the account of Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for that sin – death – on the cross.  Imputing our sin to Jesus, God treated Him as if He were a sinner, though He was not, and had Him die for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2).  It is important to understand that sin was imputed to Him, but He did not inherit it from Adam.  He bore the penalty for sin, but He never became a sinner…” [6]

We’ve established the correct interpretation regarding how Jesus Christ ‘became sin;’ but, what is Johnson’s belief?  Apparently, he does not ascribe to the orthodox view because, if so, he would not state that Jesus had to be born again.  Regarding this apparent view of Johnson: who would be worthy to atone for Jesus’ supposed sin in order for Him to be born again?

Going back to the second paragraph of the transcript, Johnson quotes the question from Hebrews 1:5a, then attempts to answer this question over in Acts 13.  The trouble with this is that these are two completely different contexts.  Why did he do that?  It just leads to potential confusion.

Logic would lead us to think that Johnson was making a thesis statement in the first paragraph while explaining it in the next.  So, to paraphrase Johnson: Jesus ‘became sin’ and thus had to be ‘born again’ which can be proven using Scripture.

Therefore, if we take Johnson’s words in the second paragraph as a strict chronology in the context he provides by isolating the verses in Hebrews and Acts, we should find the answer to his thesis statement.  In addition, we may be able to determine his underlying theology.  First, he quotes the first part of Hebrews 1:5:

            For to which of the angels did God ever say,

                         “You are my Son; today I have begotten You?”

Next he states:

            And Acts 13 explains that…

Explains what?  Explains ‘to which of the angels did God ever say…’?  No, that’s not what Johnson answers (it was a rhetorical question in the context of Hebrews and, hence, did not require an answer) as he has shifted to a completely different context over in Acts as pointed out above.  So, which question IS Johnson attempting to answer?

God has fulfilled this [“You are my Son; today I have begotten You” from above] for us, their children, in that he has raised up Jesus [at the Resurrection].  As it is also written in the second Psalm:

            ‘You are my Son, Today I have begotten You.’ [Jesus is the Father’s begotten Son, today at the Resurrection.]  [Bracketed comments mine for explanation.]

If we take his words at face value here he seems to be inferring that Jesus became God’s Son at the resurrection.  Johnson appears to solidify this thought by continuing with the following:

…And that he ‘raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption.’

Johnson now states that Jesus was ‘born again’ “through the Resurrection:”

He was born through Mary the first time and through the Resurrection the second time.  He was ‘born again.’

So, can we conclude that Johnson believes Jesus was ‘born again’ through the Resurrection, and subsequently, or simultaneously, became God’s Son only then?  The view of Jesus being God’s Son at or through the Resurrection is only unorthodox if the belief is that Jesus was not the Son of God before this event.  We’ll return to this at a later point.

Now that we understand when and how Jesus was ‘born again’ according to Johnson, it may seem plausible to assume he is also explaining with the words in the second paragraph of the transcript when and how Jesus ‘became sin.’  Is it possible then, that he is saying it is through Mary that Jesus ‘became sin?’ This would make sense if he equated “corruption” with “sin” and that Jesus’ birth through Mary made Him ‘corruptible flesh,’ i.e., human.[7]  We’ll attempt to answer this later.

In his book When Heaven Invades Earth from 2003, Johnson further defines his theology:

“Jesus lived His earthly life with human limitations.  He laid his [sic] divinity aside as He sought to fulfill 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).” [8] [all as per original]

This is bad Christology[9] (the view of Christ’s nature, person and deeds) which we’ll explain more a bit later.  When did Jesus lay aside His deity?  And, when, if ever, did He pick it back up?  Did Jesus have to strive to be sinless?  This is just faulty theology.  [This issue of Johnson’s faulty Christology is also spoken of here.]  Is it that Johnson just does not understand orthodox Christian doctrine?  This seems doubtful as he is a fifth generation[10] pastor by his own admission.

This also contradicts Johnson’s words in the transcript.  How could Jesus have been spotless and without sin yet ‘became sin’ thus making it a requirement that He be born again?  How can that be reconciled?

Perhaps the words from Johnson’s books can be harmonized with the words in the video/audio in order to understand his theology.

Returning to Johnson’s When Heaven Invades Earth we find Jesus as a boy at the Temple[11]:

“He was simply a 12-year-old boy with priorities that were different from everyone else.” [12]

With this he may be inferring that Jesus was not yet divine; but, this is inconclusive.

The “Anointing”

However, with his words below, Johnson claims outright that Jesus did not become The Christ until His baptism[13] which, by extension, means He was not divine at the Incarnation:

“Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  The word Christ means ‘Anointed One’ or ‘Messiah.’  It is a title that points to an experience… …He had to receive the anointing in an experience to accomplish what the Father desired.”  [emphasis mine]

 “The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine enabling Him…”. [14]

Scripture makes it clear that Jesus was divine at His Incarnation[15] by identifying him as “Immanuel” (God with us)[16] and the “Anointed One” – The Christ[17] – at the virgin birth, contrary to Johnson.  Given his view that Jesus was not The Christ at His birth, then, by extension, does this mean he believes Jesus was born into the same fallen, Adamic sin nature as the rest of us?

This points, once again, to faulty Christology known as the Kenosis heresy.[18]  Adding Johnson’s words from a few paragraphs earlier: “The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless)…” drives it home.  Louis Berkhof in The History of Christian Doctrines quoting Everard Digges La Touche: “In the most absolute and consistent form it [the Kenosis doctrine] teaches what La Touche calls ‘incarnation by divine suicide.’”[19]

Adding to this, Johnson, in his book The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles states:

“…Jesus had no ability to heal the sick.  He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead.  He said of Himself in John 5:19, ‘the Son can do nothing of Himself.’  He had set aside His divinity… …Jesus so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father – without the Father’s help…”[20]

Johnson lifts this Scripture out of its proper context.  So, was Jesus Christ really “powerless” with the ability to do “nothing of Himself?”  He makes clear His words:

17”The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again.  18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.” [John 10:17-18]

Johnson explains his belief that Jesus received the “title” of Christ at His baptism:

“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.” [21] 

With the above, Johnson misconstrues the meaning of the word “anointing” in this context.  First of all, in the Gospel accounts the Greek word from which we get the word “anoint” is not used at all in regard to Jesus’ baptism.  The Holy Spirit ‘descended upon’ Jesus.[22]

In Acts 10:38, in which Jesus is described as having been ‘anointed’ with the ‘Holy Spirit’ (also see Acts 4:27, Luke 4:18 and Hebrews 1:9), the Greek word used is chrio which is defined:

To anoint (physically with oil; spiritually, with the Holy Spirit), to assign a person to a special task, implying a giving of power by God to accomplish the task. [23]

Johnson is over-literalizing a metaphor.  The spiritual application should be used rather than the physical.  Referring to the Holy Spirit as a ‘smearing’ smacks of sacrilege.  This error begun in the first two sentences has compounded itself in the third with its implications.  He’s equating ‘Christ,’ The “Anointed One,” with the Holy Spirit “anointing.”

Here’s the Strong’s definition of “Christ” from the Greek Christos:

“Christ, Anointed One, Messiah, the Greek translation of the Hebrew 4899 (cf. Greek 3323).  The Messiah is the Son of David, an anointed leader expected to bring in an age of peace and liberty from all oppression.  In the NT, the Messiah is Jesus, who came first to bring liberty from sin and peace with God and who will come again to bring all things under His control.[24]

The orthodox view of the significance of Jesus’ baptism is stated here:   

Jesus’ baptism…symbolized the sinners’ baptism into righteousness of Christ, dying with Him and rising free from sin and able to walk in the newness of life.   His perfect righteousness would fulfill all the requirements of the Law for sinners who could never hope to do so on their own…

 Perhaps most importantly, the occasion of the public baptism recorded for all generations to come the perfect embodiment of the triune God revealed in glory from heaven.  The testimony directly from heaven of the Father’s pleasure with the Son and the descending Holy Spirit upon Jesus [Matthew 3:16-17] is a beautiful picture of the Trinitarian nature of God.  It also depicts the work of the Father, Son and Spirit in the salvation of those Jesus came to save…[25]

Note that Jesus “publicly announced Himself” as the Son of God; however, He already was the Son of God at His incarnation (and before this, of course).  Jesus Christ being ‘fully God and fully man’ at the virgin birth did not need the Holy Spirit.  He was already the “Anointed One.”

This same “anointing” is available to others according to Johnson.[26]  With his belief, then, by implication, when individuals receive the Holy Spirit – thus receiving the same ‘Christ’  “anointing” as Jesus – they will, in essence, be just like Jesus.  Taken to its logical conclusion, this leads to the view that once an individual receives this ‘Christ anointing’ he/she will be Joe/Jane Christ.   Quoting Johnson:

Through the shedding of His blood, it would be possible for everyone who believed on His name to do as He did and become as He was. [27]            

This seems to state outright that we can become just like Jesus Christ.  While we are to strive to be ‘like Christ’ by the leading of the Holy Spirit, we are never going to be equal to Christ.  Jesus Christ is the one and only Son by nature.[28]  We, however, are adopted as sons (and daughters) by grace.[29]   There is only one Christ and He is Jesus Christ!

According to Johnson, after receiving the “anointing,” we are to pass ‘it’ to others.  Not necessarily others who are or wish to become Christians exclusively, but to anyone:

“For the most part, the anointing has been hoarded by the Church for the Church.  …thinking it is for our enjoyment only. …This wonderful presence of God is to be taken to the world.” [30]

 “…When we are smeared with God, it rubs off on all we come into contact with – and it’s that anointing that breaks the yokes of darkness.” [31]

“…The anointing is substanceIt is the actual presence of the Holy Spirit, and He can be released into our surroundings” [32]  [all emphasis mine]

Johnson is claiming the “anointing” is a transferable, tangible substance; however, the “anointing” is also described as the “smearing” on of the Holy Spirit at baptism.  Are these one and the same?  Presumably not since Johnson refers to the “anointing” above as an impersonal ‘it.’  The Holy Spirit, as the third person of the Trinity and part of the Godhead, is most certainly not an ‘it!’

This seems as though Johnson is implying the Holy Spirit may be manipulated almost at will.  If that’s the case, could we just ‘pass Him on,’ so to speak, to unbelievers – those in “the world” – in order to bring salvation?

The Apostle John makes it clear there is a counterfeit anointing.  Is it possible Johnson is passing a counterfeit?

20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.  I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth…

 26I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.  27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.  But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him. [1 John 2:20, 26-27 NIV; emphasis mine.  Underlined portion is rendered in other translations as “is true, and is not a lie”]

Johnson also speaks quite a bit about the antichrist spirit:

“The nature of the antichrist spirit is found in its name: anti, “against”; Christ, “Anointed One.’” [33]

 “…The spirits of hell are at war against the anointing, for without the anointing mankind is no threat to their dominion.” [34] 

 “The antichrist spirit has a goal for the Church – embrace Jesus apart from the anointing.”[35]

The first sentence is nearly correct; however, it’s not a complete definition (see below).  However, in the second and third passages, once again we find Johnson confusing “anointing” with “Anointed One.”  Johnson’s view here then may be better stated as ‘anti-anointing,’ ‘anti-Holy Spirit,’ or, perhaps, anti-hagiopneuma [or anti-pneumahagios].[36]

Johnson defines further his version of the antichrist spirit calling it a ‘religious spirit:’

“The spirit of antichrist is at work today, attempting to influence believers to reject everything that has to do with the Holy Spirit’s anointing. …That spirit has worked to reduce the gospel to a mere intellectual message, rather than a supernatural God encounter. …But, never does this spirit expect the anointing of God’s power to be available in the here and now…”

 “It is the antichrist spirit that has given rise to religious spirits.  A religious spirit is a demonic presence that works to get us to substitute being led by our intellect instead of the Spirit of God.” [37]

Since Johnson’s definition of antichrist would be more accurately termed ‘anti-anointing,’ or ‘anti-Holy Spirit,’ then this “demonic presence,” – the term he uses to describe those with ‘religious spirits’ (those who hold to doctrine over personal experience) – are actually those who are against Johnson’s “anointing” rather than against Christ.

The prefix ‘anti’ from which the term ‘antichrist’ is derived is defined as:

“in exchange for (often as a sign of benefaction), in place of (often as a sign of contrast), instead of (often as a sign of an exchange of a relationship), one after another (often as a sign of purpose or result).  Note that this preposition used in absolute does not mean to be ‘against’ or ‘in opposition to’ something.” [38]

Therefore ‘antichrist’ is not just ‘against Christ’ it can be ‘instead of Christ,’ ‘in place of Christ,’ et cetera.

Johnson’s Christology Defined

If we take Bill Johnson’s words in total so far, we have Jesus devoid of divinity at birth, but receiving His divinity at baptism by the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit and thereby becoming the “Anointed One” and consequently obtaining the ‘title’ of Christ. Immediately following this “anointing,” The Father declared, “This is My much loved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”[39]  In laying His divinity aside he was “powerless,” completely dependant upon the “anointing” in seeking to live a sinless life.  He was successful in living out a sinless life; however, because He had ‘laid His divinity aside,’ he died as the man Jesus – a “powerless” lamb – on the Cross.  Further, since He ‘became sin’ He had to be ‘born again.’  He was ‘born again’ through the Resurrection and was consequently reaffirmed as God’s Son.  Presumably, He reacquired His divinity which He previously laid aside.

The remaining question to attempt to answer: When was it that Jesus ‘became sin’ according to Johnson?  Logically, it was either at birth or at the Cross.  Let’s explore these two options.

First, if He ‘became sin’ at the Cross as per the orthodox meaning as described near the beginning of this article – i.e., our sin was imputed to Him by the Father– then it would not have been necessary for Him to be ‘born again.’  So, it is fair to say he either does not hold to this doctrine or he does not fully understand it.

Second, If Johnson’s view is that Jesus ‘became sin’ on the Cross like that of Word of Faith, then, it is considered heretical.[40]  We can’t know for sure since, of course, Johnson is not clear on how he supports this particular view.

The next possibility then is that Johnson believes Jesus ‘became sin’ at His incarnation. Since Jesus apparently did not have a divine nature until His baptism, according to Johnson, then it is logical to assume that He had only a human nature and, by extension, He inherited an Adamic, sin nature.  Going back to the second paragraph of the transcription: if we consider, as noted above, the possibility that Johnson was actually explaining his viewpoint on when and why Jesus ‘became sin,’ it is plausible that his interpretation of “corruption” in Acts 13 is “sin,” and thereby “corruption” could mean “corruptible flesh.”

It seems the most plausible conclusion is that Johnson believes Jesus ‘became sin’ at the Incarnation since Jesus was not divine until baptism; however, this is not made certain in the texts.

It appears Johnson has adopted a Christological view close to that of Cerinthianism, derived from its main spokesman Cerinthus.  A form of 1st century Gnosticism, this is one of the heresies the Apostle John was specifically refuting in his first epistle.[41]  He did this by proclaiming that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, was the Son of God, and had preexisted as part of the Triune God [vv 1:1-4].  Further, he identifies that which is antichrist [vv 2:22-23; 4:2-3].

1Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus [Christ] is not from God.  This is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. [I John 4:1-3 NIV.  Emphasis mine.] [42]

The study note of 4:2 referencing ‘Every spirit that acknowledges that’ “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” ‘is from God’ states:

…Thus John excludes the Gnostics, especially the Cerinthians, who taught that the divine Christ came upon the human Jesus at His baptism and then left him at the cross, so that it was the man Jesus who died.” [43]

The Apostle John goes further in showing that Jesus was also divine at the Cross (blood):

6This is the one who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ.  He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.  And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify:[the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit and these three are one] 8[And there are three that testify on earth:] the Spirit, the water and the Blood; and the three are in agreement. 9We accept man’s testimony but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about His Son. 10Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.  Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. [I John 5:6-11 NIV] [44]

The study note referencing verse 5:6 explains the importance of Jesus being divine at the Crucifixion:

“…He [John] now asserts that it was this God-man Jesus Christ who came into our world, was baptized and died.  Jesus was the Son of God not only at His baptism but also at His death (v. 6b).  This truth is extremely important, because, if Jesus died only as a man, his sacrificial atonement (2:2; 4:10) would not have been sufficient to take away the guilt of man’s sin…[45] [emphasis mine]

Sad to say, but, Bill Johnson’s ‘Jesus’ is not the one of orthodox Biblical Christianity.  In addition, his ‘Christ’ is inconsistent with Scripture; and, this ‘Christ’ does not offer true salvation.

The Good News!

However, there is good news!  Salvation is available through the one True Savior: the Anointed One, The Messiah, the one and only Son of God – Jesus Christ.

Orthodox Christianity asserts that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God, [John 3:16] incarnated through the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit coming upon and overshadowing her [Luke 1:26-35; Matthew 1:18], fully God and fully man [John 5:18; Philippians 2:6-7] – the unique God-man – at all times during His earthly ministry.  He was preexistent as part of the Triune Godhead (the Trinity) from ‘the beginning’ [Genesis 1:1; John 1:1] and He is ‘the alpha and the omega’ [Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13], the beginning and the end.

Salvation into eternal life is only through Jesus Christ [John 14:6] as a result of His death, burial, and resurrection on the third day [Philippians 2:8; Matthew 28:1-7; Luke 24:1-10,46] which atoned for our sins [John 3:16; Romans 5:8, 10:9].  Christ has now ascended to be at the right hand of the Father [Acts 2:33] serving as our mediator [Galatians 3:19-20; 1 Timothy 2:3-6].  Salvation is a free gift of unmerited grace through faith in Jesus Christ [Ephesians 2:8-9]. Jesus’ death also fulfilled the Law of Moses [Matthew 5:17; Romans 8:1-2]; consequently, Christians are free from this bondage [Galatians 3:10-25].

If you believe the above and acknowledge the fact that you are a sinner in need of a Savior [Romans 3:23, 5:12, 6:23], repent of your sins [Luke 13:5; Matthew 3:2], and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you will gain eternal life [Romans 10:9,13].  At the point of salvation the Holy Spirit indwells each and every believer [Romans 5:1-2,5] identifying each one as a Christian who has become a new creature [2 Corinthians 5:17].  Christians are a Royal Priesthood [1 Peter 2:9] with the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place [Mark 15:37-38] to petition the Father by prayer [Hebrews 10:19-22] in the Name – i.e., in the character – of Jesus Christ, His Son as revealed through His Word.

The Holy Spirit empowers all believers [Romans 8:9-11] to live out the Christian life; and, His indwelling is a seal guaranteeing eternal life [2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14] if we stand firm to the end [Matthew 24:13].  The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin and guides into all Truth [John 16:8-11,13].  He will testify and bring glory to Jesus Christ [John 15:26, 16:14].  The Holy Spirit gives believers spiritual gifts [1 Corinthians 12:7-11; Romans 12:4-8; I Peter 4:9-11] just as He determines [1 Corinthians 12:11] and, He intercedes on our behalf [Romans 8:26-27].  AMEN!

This article, The Kingdom of God is at Hand, Part II, provides pertinent information as a bridge of sorts to Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part II.

[This article is not copyrighted and may be reproduced with the stipulation that all endnotes be included as these provide additional explanation critical to the document.]
Endnotes:
[1] “raideragent” Bill Johnson False Teacher. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzAwFYKe3h0> 3:40 to 4:55
[2] Bethel Church, Redding, CA home page <http://www.ibethel.org/site/>
[3] “ewenhuffman” Jesus is our Model- Sermon of the week 20 Dec 09. <http://ewenhuffman.podbean.com/2009/12/23/jesus-is-our-model-sermon-of-the-week-20-dec-09/> 33:48 to 34:57
[4] Here Johnson quotes Hebrews 1:5a and Acts 13:33-34b from the NKJV
[5] Hebrews 4:15; I Peter 2:22/Isaiah 53:9; etc.
[6] Got Questions? What is the Definition of Sin?. <http://www.gotquestions.org/definition-sin.html> par 4
[7] When taking the larger context into account by adding vv 36 and 37 it is clear the best definition for “corruption” is ‘the decay of the body after death.’  See Studylight.org diaphthora <http://www.studylight.org/lex/grk/view.cgi?number=1312>
[8] Johnson, Bill “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
[9] Got Questions? What Is Christology <http://www.gotquestions.org/Christology.html> The claim that Jesus Christ laid His divinity aside is known as the Kenosis heresy – the misunderstanding of the words “emptied himself” of Philippians 2:7.  Jesus was never less than fully divine; however, some of his attributes were veiled.  See http://www.theopedia.com/Kenosis.
[10] Johnson, Bill “Introduction.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 23
[11] Luke 2:41-52
[12] Johnson, Bill “The Works of the Father.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 98
[13] Johnson, Bill “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
[14] ibid.
[15] Luke 2:11; I John 1:1-3; Matthew 1:18-23; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6
[16] Strong, James, Dr. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. fully revised by John R. Kohlenberg III and James A. Swanson; 2001, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; Strong’s # 1694; p 1495 “Immanuel,” ‘God with us.’
[17] Strong, Op.cit. Christos Strong’s # 5547; p 1542 “Christ, Anointed One, Messiah, the Greek translation of the Hebrew 4899 (cf. Greek 3323).  The Messiah is the Son of David, an anointed leader expected to bring in an age of peace and liberty from all oppression.  In the NT, the Messiah is Jesus, who came first to bring liberty from sin and peace with God and who will come again to bring all things under His control.”
[18] Theopedia Kenosis <http://www.theopedia.com/Kenosis>
[19] Berkhof, Louis The History of Christian Doctrines. 1975, Baker, Ann Arbor MI; p 121
[20] Johnson, Bill “Change Your Mind.” The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles. 2005; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 50
[21] Johnson, Bill “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
[22] Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22
[23] Strong, Loc.cit. Chrio Strong’s # 5548; p 1542
[24] ibid. Christos Strong’s # 5547; p 1542
[25] Got Questions? Why was Jesus baptized? Why was Jesus’ baptism important?. <http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-baptized.html>; updated 11/22/11
[26] Johnson, Op.cit. pp 79-80, 134-135
[27] Johnson, Bill “Our Debt to the World: An Encounter with God.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 138
[28] John 3:16-18
[29] Romans 8:15, 8:23, 9:4; Ephesians 1:5  We are adopted as sons by Grace; whereas, Jesus is God’s Son by nature.
[30] Johnson, Op.cit. p 134
[31] ibid. Johnson p 135
[32] Johnson, Bill “The Kingdom and the Spirit” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 75
[33] Johnson, Bill “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
[34] ibid. p 80
[35] ibid. p 84
[36] Not an actual word, but made from the Greek, hagios which is ‘Holy,’ and pneuma which is ‘Spirit,’ for illustrative purposes.  It is understood that these two terms are never used as a compound word.
[37] Johnson, Op.cit. p 81
[38] Strong, Op.cit. anti, Strong’s # 473; p 1480
[39] Johnson, Bill “The Works of the Father” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA;   p 99 (Here Johnson quotes Matthew 3:17 from the NKJV)
 [40] Gospel Outreach Ministries Online. “Atonement” What is the Word of Faith Movement?. <http://www.gospeloutreach.net/whatwordfaith.html>
 [41] Barker, Kenneth; Burdick, Stek, et. al. “Introduction: I John; Gnosticism” NIV Study Bible. copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society,  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI; p 1905
[42] Strong, Op.cit. p 198 The word “Christ” put in brackets here is disappointingly omitted in the NIV; however, it is in the original Greek (Christos) and appears in the KJV and NKJV as well as other translations.
[43] Barker, Op.cit. p 1910
[44] ibid. p 1911 Bracketed portion is in “Late manuscripts of the Vulgate…”  However, this text is “not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century.”
[45] ibid.
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