Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism – A Personal Testimony of Bethel’s Influence
March 28, 2011 243 Comments
[Following is a personal testimony of an individual who, under the influence of Bethel Church in Redding, CA pastored by Bill Johnson, fell into error and later was freed. The original article in four parts can be found at inerrantword.]
A Dangerous Journey – My Wife’s Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism (Part 1)
At the beginning of 2010 I decided I wanted to get involved in a more passionate “Christianity”. I have always thought of myself as a worshipper & I craved being around others who lived & breathed worshipping the Lord.
Our church had been *pushing* & wanting revival to break out. So naturally I went home one day and decided to research about what “revival” actually was and how we could get it! Through my discoveries I found out about The Welsh Revival, Charles Finney and others.
I wanted *revival* to break out in our church. The more I read about the “amazing” things that happened in Wales, the more I wanted that to happen to us.
A member of our church had been involved in the Brownsville Revival. She told me many stories about the revival that happened there & the anointing that she received from there. Whenever she went up for prayer her body would shake & eventually she would, fall to the floor.
I was curious and started looking into the information surrounding the Brownsville revival. Like the Toronto blessing, the Brownsville revival had similar manifestations of the holy spirit, and following that was the Lakeland revival.
At that time I was initially very cautious. It didn’t seem to line up with the God of the Bible I knew and I couldn’t find anything in the scriptures to back up what was happening in these places. BUT I so desperately wanted to feel God and being among passionate Christians, I thought that this was where those sorts of people were. Some of the manifestations, including the prophetic seemed exciting and it drew me in.
Despite my initial caution & a nagging feeling of unease, I started listening to the answers that these extreme prophetic people would give to the sceptics.
Here are some of the things they said/say:
– God was revealing new things to the church today.
– God was moving in a way that was different & more relevant to the world now.
– How could these things not be of God, when people were singing his praises all within the safety of a church?
– No one can judge or dismiss the manifestations of the holy spirit, if you did then this then you were quenching the Spirit.
– David danced in the streets and people then thought he was crazy, but he was a man after the Lord’s heart. This meant that even though manifestations were similar to David’s dancing (disorderly behaviour) they were of God.
– The church at Pentecost had exactly the same spirit manifestations (like drunken behaviour…because in the Bible the mockers thought they were acting drunk therefore the early church must have had drunken spirit manifestations.
– Bill Johnson is such a kind, quietly spoken & gentle man therefore he must be a man of God.
– People from all over are coming in droves to these churches, so its has to be good.
– In the last days, God’s spirit will pour out on his people and this is that.
– No-one can judge the holy spirit. If something is done in the name of the holy spirit then it must be the holy spirit.
– Those who think that these manifestations are not of God are Pharisees (& are not open to things happening in the spirit outside of the Bible).
– People who were outside of these movements were missing out on a special anointing from the Lord.
I became convinced by these sorts of answers. I was drawn to it, I wanted to be around enthusiastic worshippers of God and I did not want to act like a so called Pharisee. It also looked exciting.
So began my journey into the world of extreme Pentecostalism, the teachings of Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, & the music of Jesus Culture.
(Little did I know how dangerous this path was going to be)…
Hidden Dangers – My Wife’s Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism (Part 2)
I spent months immersing myself into the Bethel Church teachings and music of Jesus Culture.
I started engaging in what is called ‘soaking’. Soaking is a practice of opening your mind and spirit to the “lord” whilst listening to loungey “Christian” music. I gave up reading my Bible…because I wanted new revelations from God. I had heard mentioned in so many sermons (including writings by Rick Joyner) that the Bible was being superseded by new revelations. The people who only read the Bible were called “wordies” and these people (the “wordies”) were setting themselves up against the new spiritual move of “god”. The new spiritual movement was more important than the information in the Bible. So I gave my regular bible reading and embraced soaking.
I wanted to encounter God. I wanted something dramatic to happen, something exciting. During my soaking I would sit quietly opening my mind and heart up to the ‘presence’. I would focus on this little warm fuzzy I had in me and eventually this feeling started to get bigger and bigger. I would have this almost ecstatic feeling on call anytime I wanted it. Eventually I would just begin to start a soaking “prayer” and this feeling would come over me immediately. It made me feel “in love” with jesus. He was no longer in a position of authority or a lord on a throne, but someone I was in love with. Someone who made me feel really good and superior. This feeling made me feel good and I wanted more of it.
My whole world started to change…in fact I was changing more than I really knew…and not for the better.
The more I engrossed myself into Bethel church’s teachings the more passionate I became about “us” being ‘right’ and those that only followed the Bible being wrong. This set me up against my husband. My husband is a fervent student of the Word of God – quiet and humble – and so he did not embrace what I was now into. I resented this and felt he was not good enough anymore. I wanted him to be more passionate and open to the spirit like I was. My main goal in life now was to save our money to get to a Bethel Conference so I could receive these special anointings. I was increasingly unhappy with my life the way it was. It was too boring, it didn’t excite me or make me outwardly more passionate for God. I wanted this anointing. I wanted to see the gold glitter and jewels falling from heaven. I wanted to move in the prophetic.
As you may have noticed…it had now become all about ME.
I wanted the new anointings. I wanted to be blessed by God. I wanted to give up my entire life and get into one of these churches…I even wanted to get my husband to move our entire family to Redding (where Bethel is based) so that I could be apart of this new move of God. All I wanted was to have these good feelings I had inside all the time. The ones that made me feel “in love” and passionate about jesus. I loved how those feelings made me feel, and I wanted more of it. No one was going to stand in my way. I knew what was right for me! I had become a loud, aggressive woman, extremely impatient and completely caught up in my own selfish ambitions.
I could not see that this was happening. I no longer had any time for my family, I needed this and that what was all that was important. I couldn’t understand that my husband wasn’t able to see the great *change* in me. I needed to be soaking and listening to my Jesus Culture music. As time went on, I started to get exceedingly rude towards my husband. I grew to be resentful towards him and completely disrespected his walk with the Lord. I wanted him to become “great” for God by receiving the new anointing. I was in a superior place with the Lord and I thought his bible studies were a waste of time.
One day however I did pick up my Bible and read it. It was during that time that I noticed something very different from what I was experiencing. I became aware of this quiet still voice. This had become very foreign to me. It was no at all like the excited, loud experiences I was having in my soaking time. It concerned me as I could not work out in my head why this gentle, quiet voice was so different from my other experiences.
Then something happened that completely opened my eyes.
At a church gathering I started chatting to the same member that I referred to in part one on my story. We started talking about all the amazing anointings and manifestations that were happening overseas, like the gold dust, glitter and jewels and how we wanted these things to start happening in our church. We longed to go and attend these conferences and receive “more”.
Then it happened. She started telling me about this amazing “anointed” man of god, who received the glory of god. His name was Joshua Mills. At his conferences were all the same manifestations…she started telling me that the glory of god was so strong on this man that he had oil that drips from his body as a show of his anointing. She was amazed by this. But for I suddenly started to realise that something wasn’t right. In fact there was something very wrong with this.
I felt very uncomfortable with this. I had been raised in the Catholic church, before I became a born again believer. When I became I believer God opened my eyes very clearly to the satanic influence in that church. The Catholic church is full of visitations from “mary”, oil dripping from their own “anointed” people, the stigmatas etc. So when my friend started telling me about Joshua Mills and his oil dripping from this body as a sign of the glory of god, alarm bells starting ringing inside my heart!
As soon as I got home I started looking up Joshua Mills to find out more about this. Joshua Mills is part of the Elijah List, a list of special “prophets”. On this list included Bill Johnson, Kim Clements, Rob De Luca, Randy Clark, Cindy Jacobs, Rick Joyner, Todd Bentley, Patricia King, Rodney Howard-Brown, Carol and John Arnott and so on. Joshua Mills was a man who ran conferences and teaching classes (which you pay huge amounts of money to attend). He ran these classes so the students could receive from him and take home his special anointing. And sure enough, just as my church friend had said, Joshua Mills was producing oil from his skin, that was sign of the glory of god upon him. And if it wasn’t bad enough – he was collecting his drips of oil on rags and selling it…so that people could buy and get his special anointing from the rag.
All of a sudden, like a lightning bolt, I realised what I had got myself involved.
Uncovering the Dark Deception – My Wife’s Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism (Part 3)
After reading about Joshua Mills on the internet I started to realise exactly what I have allowed into my spirit, my heart and my life. It hit me like nothing I have ever experienced before! I had allowed a deceiving spirit into my life. A false spirit, a false jesus.
All of a sudden everything that had been covered up was uncovered. The truth of what was my reality, my darkness was exposed. The moment of this is like nothing I can explain or give a full account of. I became completely aware of this sick, filthy darkness that had been in my life. The heaviness of the reality on my spirit was awful. To give you an idea of what this felt like I can only explain it like this: There have been times in my life when I felt a deep darkness. Times like when I had a life before Christ. Another time was when I was a born again believer but started living in the world for myself. I got involved in immorality and it was awful and caused a deep wound in my spirit then. When I realised I had allowed a deceiving spirit into my life, it was far, far greater than anything I have ever felt when I was not a believer and when I was engaging in full blown sin as a believer. The intensity and depravity of what I had done and allowed in was so great I simply just cannot explain in words. Perhaps for me I can only liken this to what is the actual reality of the dark evil spiritual realm. What it may feel like to be in alliance with satan. One thing is sure, when the Light of God and His Truth uncovers deception nothing can hide from His glory.
I came before my husband and confessed what I had allowed into mine and our lives. I explained to him exactly how I had been deceived and the burden and heaviness on my spirit that had come from allowing this false spirit in my life. I had spent so many months desperately trying to get him into this “world”. He told me that he had been praying to God intensely for Him to reveal to either one of which of us was wrong. God answers prayer and He came through for us!
When I realised what had crept into my life, all I wanted to do was get rid of this thing as fast as possible. I was absolutely desperate to get rid of this darkness, this filth! (One can only imagine what it will feel like in hell for people who will live an eternity with this constant desperation and never be able to get rid of it and get peace).
Praise the Almighty One. Earlier that year I had visited a blog about a woman who had gone through a similar experience (visit M’Kayla’s Korner), but I thought I knew better and had not heeded her warning. Thankfully I had bookmarked her blog page and that night Nick and I sat down searching through it to help us work out how to get rid of this darkness and filth that was in my spirit. God had given this woman the insight to put an extremely helpful link to getting rid of these false spirits if you had allowed them into your life (read this here). We printed off the pages and followed each step. I spent a few hours in our bedroom on my own paging through the advice and looking up bible verses.
That night I spent those hours confessing my sin and disobedience to my Lord. I confessed my lack of discernment and my own sinful willingness to expose myself to this deception and false spirit. I was able to see that after I confessed this from my heart and made a decision to never expose myself or my family to these false spirits again I was set free! The Lord Jesus took the darkness away from my life and in place the sweetness of His Spirit returned.
What is a False Jesus? – My Wife’s Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism (Part 4)
This false spirit, a false “jesus”, one that pleases the flesh, had been given permission by me into my life. If I knew the character of the Lord well or knew my Bible basics I would have recognized the false spirit simply by looking at what type of behaviour I was displaying when I was experiencing this “spirit”. I would have know that the fruit of the real and true Holy Spirit is peace, love, real joy, gentleness, self-control, humility, patience, kindness, faithfulness and goodness. If I had done this little test I would have clearly seen that I lacked gentleness, self-control, patience, peace and real love. This false spirit is very easily recognised when you do this little test. What I had allowed in my life brought out impatience, anger, rudeness, complete lack of Self-Control, chaos, flesh seeking madness, self ambition and selfish desires.
The next way to determine a false spirit is to do a quick comparison with what the God of the Bible is like in character versus the spirit you have opened yourself up to. Does it match up with what the Word of God says?
– Who God is (a God of order and peace)
– The order of a Church service (no chaos, no un-interpreted tongues, no more than 2 or 3 people talking in tongues and in turn (not over each other)
– That these manifestations are similar if not the same to the strange fire offered by Aaron’s sons in Exodus
– Leadership in the church (should be characterised by godly character: men of peace, self-control, peace, gentleness, quietness and of humility).
– The focus of godly teaching (is leading one towards complete reliance on Jesus Christ and not on yourself or a person or a ministry)
– People under the authority of the Lord (will display a peace, calmness, quietness and gentleness about them).
– Dying to self and dying to flesh. The entire false spirit movement is characterised by satisfying your own flesh and carnal nature. Rather than bowing down before the Lord, it is about getting as much out as you can for yourself, getting the “anointing” for yourself, getting the “manifestations” for yourself, seeing the signs and wonders for yourself. This is completely the opposite to the life of Jesus Christ, one of complete self sacrifice and in turn the life Christians are to live. We are to beat our body/flesh to make it our slaves (1 Corinthians 9:27).
– The real gospel of the Lord is unpopular. I have realised that wherever there are huge crowds and no real genuine repentance (followed by no major changes in the person’s life) then one needs to proceed with extreme caution! The way of the Lord is a narrow way, not a popular one.
– We need to be very careful of false teachers and false prophets in the end times. There are no arguments that we are in the end times, so why would we switch off our discernment buttons because we are too scared to be wrongly called Pharisees.
Will we be accountable to God for being easily deceived?
We have access to the Truth, the Word of God. The Word of God specifically warns us in detail about what deceptions there will be in the end times and yet we are still easily deceived. I was warned by earnest believers, but still chose to be lead astray. And in turn we have earnestly warned others but they choose to defile themselves with these false spirits too.
Why are we caught off guard by so called “men of god” that are bringing these false spirits into the church?
Most likely they are completely deceived themselves and are themselves, in turn, deceivers. The whole purpose of deception is that is going to come in and trick us! Why does it surprise us that this is happening in the church? Satan has had over 7,000 years to work out the best ways to deceive and cheat people, of course he is going to influence people in the church today. It is naive to think he wouldn’t. There will be no excuse for us on our day of judgement when we face our Lord and King and we realise we have been tricked into allowing false spirits into our hearts. We should know better and be prepared for this.
How do we know and recognise satan?
Satan will deceive us by enticing our flesh! It is not surprising them to find that these so called movement of the “holy spirit” are about ‘making us feel good’, ‘hyping up our emotions’ and ‘satisfying our carnal desires’ into chaos, uncontrolled disgusting behaviour and acting like mad people.
Is it any surprise why we are so desperate for the next “fix”?
This behaviour is not found anywhere in the Word of our God. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and then they went out with their purpose, to spread the gospel NOT to run from conference to conference, meeting to meeting to get *more* of the “anointing”.
When I look back over my darkest days I can now very clearly recall some of the behaviours of these people and even friends who are in these “movements”. Their behaviour (including my own) was some of the most selfish, prideful displays I have ever seen. We were desperate to have our next “fix”, the next manifestation, the next drunken moment in the so called holy spirit, and the next “loved up” feeling. The longer I was involved the greater my drive and motivation was to fulfil my flesh and carnal desire. This selfish, flesh seeking drive is intensely stronger than the motivation to go out into the world and spread the gospel and to save lost sinners in the name of Jesus. I only cared about myself and truthfully I had no real genuine care or love for other believers during that time. It was all about me.
I also have noticed and experienced the anger of these people when they are questioned about the truth behind these movements and any mention of false spirits. It is like they turn into monsters defending their prey. There is an awful ugliness that emerges and it is quite frightening (that is why I used the word monster). I displayed this ugly behaviour myself so I speak from first hand experience…these people have sold themselves out to a false spirit, a false jesus. The devil has a hold on their heart and their desires. This false spirit makes them feel good and they will hold onto it like nothing else! Their flesh fights to hold onto it and fights against the truth being revealed.
If you are concerned about this false spirit that is creeping into the church please go to my sister in Christ’s Mkayla Kelly’s blog.