By Rick Becker 15 November 2018
The Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry relies on subjective and unbiblical practices to “evangelize” the lost. Sadly, it’s a case of the blind leading the blind. One of the resources from the BSSM is a list of “activations” for evangelism. The fact that this resource even exists and that the “activations” are believed and practiced by thousands, is an indictment on the state of churches in the New Apostolic Reformation. When “evangelism” is based on assumptions, imaginations, and doctrines of demons, it has ceased to be evangelical. When supernatural gifts can be taught, they are no longer supernatural. In this article, we examine the BSSM “activations.”
If you believe what the scriptures teach, then you will know that the BSSM “evangelism activations” should be rejected outright as pure heresy.
Introduction to the seven activations taught by the BSSM School Planting Team:
BSSM: “BEFORE YOU START – Teach your students what to be aware of before they interact with people. Have them assess how are they feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually before entering a room full of people. When they are aware of how they are feeling before interacting with people, they can be aware of when they feel the Holy Spirit moving.”
At the outset, the focus is already on self, and the subjective world of feelings. Christianity by nature is faith based, not feeling based. The Holy Spirit dwells in all believers regardless of how we feel. Can you think of a passage of scripture that instructs us to be aware of how we feel, in order to feel the Holy Spirit moving?
The task of any evangelist is to preach the gospel, regardless of how they are feeling. The power lies not in us or our ability to feel the Holy Spirit moving, but in the gospel – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16
BSSM: “Loving people well is the number one priority when participating in evangelism or outreaches. Remember, it’s not about keeping score and seeing who can
release the most healings. People will remember how you made them feel long after they remember what you did for them. Teach them what real success looks like. While someone being healed or miracles happening are great outcomes, others feeling the love of the Father through your students is real success.”
Once again, feelings are a determining factor in Bethel’s estimation. Evangelism is about spreading the gospel, not making people feel good about themselves. When an unbeliever is confronted with truth in the form of the law and the gospel, they should first of all feel the anguish of being separated from God due to their sins. There is no “good news” unless we acknowledge the bad. A successful evangelistic outreach should be measured by salvations, not healings or feelings. When I say “salvations,” I mean people who have been born again, not people who have been enticed to recite the sinners prayer or “begin a relationship” with Jesus. A great example of evangelism, is Peter’s first sermon on the day of Pentecost:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus,delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”
Accusing the crowd of being complicit in the death of Christ is about as far as one could get from a seeker friendly approach to evangelism. Peter was not interested in catering to the felt needs of the crowd, but in proclaiming the truth. What’s interesting about this passage is that some who had witnessed the miracles of Christ, still wanted him crucified. There goes Bill Johnson’s theory that signs and wonders are essential in evangelism. Jesus knew that miracles could capture minds, but not hearts: “ Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people” John 2:23-24
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”Now when they heard this they
felt good about themselves and the amazing destiny God had for them were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:36-38
Note that the people were “cut to the heart” and Peter’s solution was not to tell them they were awesome and worth dying for, but that they needed to repent.
The seven activations:
1. WORDS OF KNOWLEDGE
BSSM: “The best way to start is to ask the Lord to tell you something about someone. When you are interacting with someone, a great question to ask the Lord is, “What is something You love about this person?” Words of knowledge help us connect to what is in God’s heart in a real-time way, connecting us to not just the principles, but the person of God. Colossians 2:3 says “In whom [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
The best way to evangelize the lost is to know what the gospel is. By telling someone that God loves something about their unique personality has nothing to do with evangelism, but the initiation into a “gospel” that revolves around self. Scripture describes our condition prior to being born again- see if you can spot something amazing that God would have “loved about” us: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
That’s the bad news. Thank God he intervened: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”
In other words, this is the message the lost need to hear: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
The verse from Colossians is not an encouragement to receive “words of knowledge” for unbelievers, but rather encouragement for believers “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.“ Colossians 2:1-3
Students should be proclaiming the mystery which has now been revealed – the gospel. Instead they are taught to delve into mysticism, speculation and apply human reasoning and “activations” in order to reach the lost.
Search the scriptures and see if you can find where this word salad is taught – “Words of knowledge help us connect to what is in God’s heart in a real-time way; connecting us to not just the principles, but the person of God.”
BSSM: “Below are a few approaches to identify different ways to receive words of knowledge.
These usually appear on the inner screen of our minds. Our image center is the same place where we use our imagination. They can be a single picture like a snapshot or viewed like watching a movie.
Exercise – Close your eyes and picture a beach in Hawaii – see the blue ocean, a palm tree, and a white hammock gently moving in the breeze. Can you envision that? This is the inner screen in your mind. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a body part that needs healing of someone you will meet this week. Take a minute and write down what He is showing you on a piece of paper.”
“Vision- Seeing” was a very important process developed by the Apostle Paul in order to help the Corinthians become effective in evangelism. Sound ridiculous? That’s because it is, and not taught in scripture. I have an exercise for you – don’t think of a Zebra, don’t imagine what it looks like…..so what image just flashed through your mind? By creating an exercise where students ask the Holy Spirit to show them a body part, the BSSM are using the power of suggestion on their students. Guaranteed, every student will immediately see a body part. Now the student needs to find a match, and if they envisioned a sore back, their chances of success are high. When they do find an individual with back ache, their “vision” will have been confirmed and the student will walk away believing they had “heard from God.” This is basically an example of “The Texas sharpshooter fallacy.”
Instead of envisioning a swollen liver or a slipped vertebra, students should be taught to rightly divide the word of truth, and pray for boldness and opportunities to preach the gospel.
(For more on the gift of the word of knowledge read here & here.)
BSSM: “Physical Impression – Touch
These are physical Holy Spirit impressions that are felt on your body. They may feel very slight and be easily missed or they may be very strong in nature. You may sense heat, sympathy pain, electricity, pressure, a breeze or coldness, etc. on a body part.
Exercise – Close your eyes and become aware of your body. Take note of how your body is feeling, any areas of pain, and how you’re feeling emotionally. It may be helpful for students to jot down anything they are feeling. Have your students mingle with each other. Make sure they are aware of any changes that may occur in their bodies or
emotions as they mingle with one another. If they are feeling a change in their body or emotions, have them press into Holy Spirit and give each other words or pray for one another based on the shift they felt.“
Now compare Bethel’s activation to this:
“Let your attention wander into your body. Become aware of the physical sensations that arise in your body as a result of the emotion you’ve identified…When you experience physical discomfort, it means that something is unbalanced in your experience — physically, mentally, or spiritually. Your body knows it — every cell in your body knows it. Befriend these sensations and their wisdom, because the pain is actually leading you to wholeness.” – Excerpt from Deepak Chopra’s 7 – step exercise to release emotional turbulence.
Hard to differentiate between the two! This creepy BSSM activation is supposedly a way to “receive words of knowledge.” Bill Johnson, Beni Johnson, and Kris Vallotton are not ashamed of their new age and occultic leanings, and it’s tragic to witness these students being schooled in subjective and new age practices.
BSSM: “Audible – Hearing or Knowing
These can come as quick random thoughts. You may be talking to your waitress and all of a sudden you think of a person you know that suffers from insomnia. God is probably giving you insight into a need that your waitress has. You will never know unless you take a risk and ask her. Sometimes the word of knowledge will be an internal knowing. The world calls that ESP. You just know that you know. The Holy Spirit may also speak as a still small voice to your spirit in your language. Or He may speak out loud as if someone was talking out loud.
Exercise – Be still and quiet. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about a specific prayer need for someone who you know. Write that down and be on the lookout throughout the week for the person the word is for.”
God has chosen to use his servants and the proclamation of the gospel through them as the means to save the lost. What he requires is obedience in preaching the gospel, and in his providence he will orchestrate circumstances and work in the hearts of people. There is no need to “take risks” by throwing out random thoughts and hoping they make sense, besides, if this is a “supernatural” school of ministry then all their methodologies reek of flesh. Do I believe God can guide our conversation as we witness – absolutely! But not in the mystical and manufactured way Bethel promote.
BSSM: “Feeling Emotions
You may sense the emotional atmosphere of a region, location or a person. You will feel the emotions or mood of the environment or person in your proximity. God allows you to sense this so you can partner and release what He desires into that environment.
Exercise – Every morning for a week, take note of your emotions in a journal. Several times throughout the day, set reminders to take note of your emotions. If you notice a drastic change in your emotions, go over what has happened throughout your day and see if your emotional change belongs to you or someone else.“
Surely if you are a believer, you will know that this is nonsense! Nevertheless, let’s examine a passage that will bring some clarity. We read the account of Paul preaching in Athens in Acts 17, and the closest we get to any mention of an “atmosphere” in a particular region would be this verse: “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols” Acts 17:16
This was indeed a city of idols, to such an extent that the Roman courtier Petronius described Athens his satirical novel Satyricon as follows: “Our region is so full of deities that you may more frequently meet with a god than a man.” Unlike the NAR teachers, Paul failed to initiate any spiritual warfare and bind the strong man over Athens. All he released into the “atmosphere” were his arguments: “So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.” Acts 17:17
Without taking any notes of his emotional changes, Paul did the unthinkable in today’s context, he mentioned repentance and judgement:
“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
Some believed, some mocked, and Paul moved on to Corinth where he failed dismally to release anything positive into the Jewish environment : “Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” Acts 18:5-6
Here is a far better exercise – ignore your emotional changes and be faithful in studying and proclaiming the gospel.
BSSM: “Holy Spirit Highlight
A person or body part on a person just seems to be highlighted. The Holy Spirit is supernaturally pointing something or somebody out to you. It is always a great idea to take a risk and talk to that person or ask the person if the body part that stands out to you needs healing.
Exercise – Ask God to highlight something to you and take note of what that looks like to you. It may be a gut intuition, a glowing, feeling energized, or something else. As time goes on, continue to explore with Holy Spirit what this looks like to you, then pay attention when it happens.”
The machinations of the BSSM are no substitute for the workings of the Holy Spirit. The irony is that the very thing Bethelites long for – the working of the Holy Spirit, is the very thing they prevent by dismissing the Holy Spirit inspired word of God. By focusing on methods instead of the message of the gospel, Bethelites are on a never ending rabbit trail in search of their next “encounter.”
2. TREASURE HUNTS
BSSM: “At BSSM, we often send students on Treasure Hunts. Treasure Hunts implement hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit and teaches students to step out in risk. Treasure Hunts start by asking the Holy Spirit for words of knowledge on various topics: location, people’s name, appearance/clothing, what they need prayer for, and anything
unusual (lollipop, three children, lime green door, etc). The students should write these down on their Treasure Maps…It’s important to remind students to honor the people they interact with. When students find a person that fits their treasure map, have them approach the person politely and have the students explain they are on a treasure
hunt and that the person is on their treasure map. This will make the person feel seen and known by the Lord. With love and honor at the forefront, the students then ask if they can pray for the person. The students can either ask the person if there is something specific to pray for, or go off their treasure map, asking about the
various things students have written down to pray for.”
Kevin Dedmon taught this concept at the BSSM for 13 years.
Dedmon’s goal is “to help people know their true identity, and walk in their divine destiny. to bring God’s kingdom in every sphere of society through signs, wonders, miracles, healing and the prophetic.” Bethelites believe that they have been given dominion on earth, and are eager to out perform the miracles of Christ. So eager in fact, that they are “taking risks” by attempting to walk on water, walk through walls, and raise the dead.
If the students find someone who identifies with their words of knowledge (“lollipop, three children, lime green door”) and the person agrees to be prayed for, the article has the following instructions:
BSSM: “Ask for the presence of God to come (release His presence on them)
Command the pain to leave (bones to be set, back to be realigned, tumor to shrink, etc) Ask them to test it out – “Do something that you couldn’t do before we prayed. Repeat if necessary. When they are healed: Explain what just happened (God’s goodness revealed, He knows you and cares about you, etc)
Explain the gospel to them Ask them if they would like to know Jesus personally (have a relationship with Him) Have them ask Jesus into their life”
For more information on the unbiblical practice of Treasure Hunting, read Holly Pivec’s article – What are the dangers of ‘Treasure-Hunting’ evangelism?
3. FREE HUGS
BSSM: “With a group of students, make signs that say, “FREE HUGS.” Stand on the streets and offer hugs to people as they pass by. We all have the power to shift atmospheres. Have students become aware of what they can release without speaking, such as releasing love and healing into the atmosphere. Make sure your students honor the people they are ministering to, as well as the businesses they may be standing in front of. Your students should be aware of their impact on an atmosphere and that they can shift atmospheres. These encounters provide opportunities to interact with the person and either get words of knowledge, prophetic words, or to pray for the person.”
“Shifting atmospheres” is a product of Dawna De Silva’s imagination. Dawna is the founder and co-leader with Teresa Liebscher of the International Bethel Sozo Ministry. Dawna believes she is powerful, and writes the following: “Being powerful doesn’t threaten my husbands power, there is room for both of us to be powerful. As a women in ministry I had to settle in my heart that I’m not taking a man’s place, the Kingdom of God is ever expanding, everyone gets to be powerful….” Dawna believes her decrees are powerful enough to get her neighbour to paint his house. This craving for power is not new, the request “Give me this power also” was uttered by Simon the magician, who thought he could “obtain the gift of God with money!” Acts 8:20.
Fill in the blanks: “releasing love and healing into the atmosphere” is taught in the book of _______________ chapter _____________
The remaining four “activations” listed below follow a similar methodology, so I’m not going to comment on them:
4. ROSES FROM FATHER
“This is such a fun activation! Purchase several dozen roses. Have the students go to various locations, such as store parking lots or street corners, and pass out roses to people as they walk by, telling each person it’s a gift from the Father. This can open the door for students to minister to people and release the Father’s love.”
5. STICKY NOTE
“In small groups of three or four, go to different stores around town with a pad of sticky notes. Write encouraging words on the sticky notes and place them inside various books, journals, and magazines, being sure not to damage the books. Make sure your students use honor when they are doing this by not going to the same store
too often and respecting the store owner. We often tell our students that if they go into a store or shop, they should respect the business by purchasing something.”
6. RECEIPT ACRONYM
“At a restaurant, write your server’s name vertically on the back of your receipt. Ask God for a word or phrase for each letter in the person’s name that represents their unique identity. While being sensitive to their work time, quickly share with your server what you felt like God was saying about them as a word of encouragement.”
7. TATTOO INTERPRETATION
“In pairs, go to a busy, public area and look for people with tattoos. Ask them if you can interpret the meaning of their tattoo. Ask the Holy Spirit for His meaning of their tattoo. Share what you hear and encourage the person. A fun take on this outreach is to set up a booth at a street fair. As they share their interpretation, have them keep in
mind to use language that makes the person feel comfortable and that they will understand.”
Now that you have read the BSSM activations and exercises, I’d like you to do the Berean exercise and search the scriptures to “see if these things were so.”
These activations are an invention of Bethel, geared towards an encounter gospel. Bill Johnson believes that we owe the world an encounter with God. In his eyes, this encounter includes signs and wonders; anything less is an incomplete gospel. Bethel’s quest for power has caused them to ignore the principles of God’s word, and the result is a narcissistic gospel. Note all the emphasis placed on the students. Here’s what’s important to them: Their physical, emotional and spiritual feelings. Their words of knowledge. Their ability to shift atmospheres. Their physical impressions. Their ability to hear from God.
Evangelism is not about how we feel or taking risks in order to experience something supernatural. Paul had some instructions for a young evangelist by the name of Timothy: “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5
Paul described the “work” Timothy should be doing in the opening verses of the chapter, verses which included a warning about the times we live in:
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
2 Timothy 4:1-4
As the saying goes – “What you win them with is what you win them to”
In the case of Bethel’s “evangelism,” people are being won by feelings, experiences, flattery, and supposed messages from God. They are being introduced to a Jesus who thinks they are awesome, and who needs them to partner with him in restoring his kingdom on earth. Bethel’s health, wealth, and dominion gospel will attract many to Jesus. The question is – which Jesus?
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