By Rick Becker 28 April 2022
Bethel Church is currently promoting its upcoming Healing School (May 10-13, 2022). “Activations, impartation, and miracles, miracles, miracles” don’t come cheap at Bethel. It beggars belief that Bethel has the audacity to charge $165 per individual for a slice of pie in the sky. Their “pie in the sky” is the false teaching that physical healing in this life is guaranteed in the atonement. The reality is that despite all their efforts, encounters, and impartations, their teaching has had no impact on their own lives. Some of Bethel’s leadership are suffering from minor or life-threatening diseases, but dare point that out and you’ll be accused of being callous, insensitive, and cruel. Yet the cruelest thing to do is to blame someone for their failure to be healed. Johnson’s forked tongue may fool some, but the contradiction is as clear as day. Regarding healing, on the one hand, he writes: “There are no deficiencies on His end – neither the covenant is deficient, nor His compassion or promises. All lack is on our end of the equation.”
On the other hand, he writes: “If someone isn’t healed, realize the problem isn’t God… It’s also not wise to blame the person who is sick.”
If all lack “is on our end of the equation” who else can we blame? This torturous teaching places a burden on the sick that adds to their physical suffering as they embark on a wild-goose chase in pursuit of physical healing.
A brief look at Bethel and their dismal healing performance.
Johnson: “Would satan like to inflict heaven with cancer? Of course he would. But he has no dominion there. He only has dominion here when and where man has come into agreement.” 1
The conclusion of Johnson’s statement is that Bethelites who are currently battling cancer, Parkinson’s, and other diseases not found in heaven, have somehow come into agreement with Satan. Furthermore, Bethel’s declaration concerning cancer has proven to be ineffective: “Often we will receive a reality report and a fruit at the same time. For example, for a number of years now at Bethel Church, we have seen tremendous breakthroughs for physical healing. One ailment that we have intentionally targeted is cancer. In fact, we have declared our city a “cancer-free zone.” 2
Who can forget the tragic death and failed resurrection of Olive Heiligenthal – the two-year-old daughter of Bethel worship leader Kalley Heiligenthal? Despite all the prophetic words of a resurrection, and the decrees and declarations of Bethelites, the child never came back to life. Bethel’s teaching that healing is guaranteed in the atonement was possibly the motivating factor behind the false hope the child would be resurrected. At the time, Kalley Heiligenthal wrote: “Her time here is not done, and it is our time to believe boldly, and with confidence wield what King Jesus paid for. It’s time for her to come to life.”
Bethel’s most recent awkward moment that made the headlines occurred in 2020. Bethel had to cancel their healing rooms in their sanctuary due to the Coronavirus outbreak and shifted to online prayer. At the time, the head of the healing ministries Chris Gore said “We’re in impact mode. We’re going after this thing.” The opposite happened, that “thing” showed no respect for Bethelites or the 700 “healers” involved with the healing rooms. A local news publication carried the headline COVID-19 case spike in college-aged students partially attributed to Bethel. Approximately 123 students at Bethel’s school of supernatural ministry hosted the virus, thereby contributing to the spike in Shasta County.
Now one would imagine that this colossal failure would at least put a damper on the ministry, and open the eyes of deluded Bethelites who imagine that they have dominion over disease. However, delusion is strong – aside from biblical teaching, even logic and facts have failed to penetrate the fog of deception that envelops Bethel. The show must go on!
Before we examine two of Bethel’s posts on the subject of healing, let’s look at the core issues that necessitate Bethel’s belief in healing. Essentially, it boils down to two of Bethel’s teachings:
1. Whatever Jesus did during his earthly ministry as far as signs and wonders are concerned, we can emulate and even surpass.
Johnson’s twisted view is that Jesus came to model miracles for us. The scriptures teach that Jesus came to model suffering (1 Peter 2:19-21) and humility (Philippians 2:5-8), but Johnson’s interest lies in the supernatural aspect of Jesus’ life:
“FOR US TO BECOME all that God intended, we must remember that Jesus’ life was a model of what mankind could become if it were in the right relationship with the Father. 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. This meant then that every true believer would have access to the realm of life that Jesus lived in. Jesus came as the light of the world. He then passed the baton to us, announcing that we are the light of the world. Jesus came as the miracle worker. He said that we would do “greater works” than He did (see John 14: 12).” 3
Apart from the fact that Christ’s miracles were unique in nature and purpose, Johnson ignores the fact that signs and wonders are not normative.
The scriptures include many accounts of miracles, signs, and wonders, which cause some to believe that they are normative. This is false because the following is not taken into account:
• The scriptures span a period of approximately 4000 years.
• There were centuries that went by during this time, without any recorded miracles.
• The number of people who performed miracles was relatively few.
• The sign gifts were not given to all believers (1 Cor 12).
• The major reason for signs and wonders in the New Testament has been fulfilled – to authenticate the message and ministry of the apostles (2 Cor 12:12), and to authenticate the identity, message, and ministry of the messiah (John 10:36-39).
If you believe greater works is referring to miracles, then you should at least be able to walk on water, calm a storm, feed 5000 with five loves and two fish, raise a four day old corpse from the grave (provide death certificate please), and raise yourself from the dead. Greater works is referring to what God would accomplish through believers who preach the gospel (not performing miracles) throughout the earth. Johnson’s focus is on the physical and temporal, the gospel’s focus is on the spiritual and eternal.
Johnson’s rationale for healing all the sick: “Jesus healed everyone who came to Him. To accept any other standard is to bring the Bible down to our level of experience, and deny the nature of the One who changes not.” 4
Johnson’s wrong, what he’s doing is elevating man to Christ’s level of experience, and in fact nature – “it would be possible for everyone who believed on His name to do as He did and become as He was.”
Practically speaking, the result is that instead of praying for the sick as scripture instructs (James 5:14), Johnson & co believe that they have the same power and authority as Christ, and simply have to command the sick to be healed:
“For example, it’s common for believers to read Jesus’ command to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons and think, “Well, I might be able to preach the Gospel. But God is the only one who does all those other things. I’ll pray for the sick, but I can’t heal them.” But Jesus didn’t say to pray for the sick. He said to heal them.” 5
“A person with revelation takes authority over the sickness and commands the sick person’s body to be healed “on earth as it is in heaven.” 6
2. Without signs and wonders such as healing the preaching of the gospel is incomplete.
Johnson: “Jesus gave people the right to disbelieve it all if there was no demonstration of power upon his ministry. I hunger for the day when the church will make the same statement to the world – if we’re not doing the works that Jesus did, you don’t have to believe us” 7
Vallotton: “A Church that does not demonstrate the miraculous works of Christ has failed to give the world this opportunity, and thus has no right to judge people for their lack of response. Without miracles, the kingdom of God is reduced to words, concepts and good works” 8
Johnson and Vallotton are incorrect of course. There were times when Paul displayed the signs of an apostle (which Johnson cannot emulate because the office of Apostle ended with Paul) but his custom was to “reason” from the scriptures. Athens was a city steeped in idolatry, this would have been a great opportunity for Paul to shift the atmosphere (Bethel terminology) by binding spirits and performing a few miracles. Instead, Paul delivered a sermon and the result was that some believed, and others mocked.
Once we understand the difference between descriptive and prescriptive texts, and acknowledge the unique callings and signs of Christ and his Apostles, it’s impossible to hold the belief that we can emulate either.
Miracles don’t save, the gospel does! In stark contrast to Vallotton, Paul believed that “words” in the form of the gospel, are powerful and sufficient:
• “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” Romans 1:16.
• “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,” 1 Corinthians 1:22.
“And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” Acts 17:2-3.
One of Bethel’s proof texts for the belief that signs and wonders must accompany the gospel is Romans 15:18-19: “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient – in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”
If you just read the words in bold, you may come to the same conclusion as Bethel.
Debunking the proof text:
• Paul’s unique ministry is ignored.
There’s no doubt that signs and wonders accompanied Paul’s ministry. What Bethel ignore is that “God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul” (Acts 19:11), and that certain signs were unique to the Apostles: “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.” 2 Corinthians 12:12.
What this means is that one cannot view Paul’s unique ministry as normative.
God has not appointed a single Apostle since Paul – who was appointed directly by Christ (1 Cor 1:1). Apart from Matthias (Acts 1:20-26), the original apostles never appointed replacements. Scripture never instructs the church to appoint apostles, but overseers ( 1 Timothy 3:1) and elders (Titus 1:5). Besides, there were specific requirements to hold the office – one of them being an eyewitness to the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:22). This is why Paul argued in defense of his apostleship: “Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?” (1 Cor 9:1).
• The context is ignored.
By changing the words in bold, and adding verse 20, the context becomes apparent:
“For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient – in mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about to Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation,” (see also 2 Tim 4:17).
Fully preaching the gospel is referring to a geographical area, not signs and wonders accompanying the message.
By examining two of Bethel’s posts on the subject of healing, we’ll be able to deactivate Bethel’s lies.
Context: “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53: 4-6)
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:24-25.
That’s not to say physical healing is excluded in Isaiah 53. Verse four is referring to physical healing: “borne our griefs.” The word “griefs” in Hebrew (חֳלָיֵ֙נוּ֙) is referring to sickness.
Matthew quotes this verse (Isaiah 53:4) in the context of physical healing: “That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” Matthew 8:16-17.
This does not mean healing in this life is guaranteed in the atonement, it means that Christ was the fulfillment of the messianic passage in Isaiah. Matthew was making it clear that Jesus is the messiah, that only he could have performed these miracles. Two further incidents recorded in Matthew 8, indicate that Christ’s identity as the Son of God, was being confirmed:
“And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” – Matt 8:27.
“And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” – Matt 8:29. Jesus healed people because:
He was God in the flesh, the messiah. He was more than a healer or a man in the right relationship with God. When Jesus healed people it was a sign of his identity – God in the flesh who could heal physical illness, but more importantly spiritual illness –
“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic – “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” Mark 2:9-11.
Unpacking Bethel’s five arguments – Bethel’s comments that accompanied the post above are in italics.
There are many myths in the world about healing that aren’t modeled in the life of Jesus, the standard for what is possible for those who believe in Him. Let’s unpack a few of the lies you may believe about biblical healing:
1. Sickness is sent from God.
One of the greatest lies that we believe about healing is that sickness is sent from God. Jesus said,”There is a thief, who comes only to steal, kill and destroy.” Stealing, killing, and destroying comes from the enemy. But when the enemy is in the midst of doing all of that, Jesus is present, bringing life and life more abundant.
There are various reasons for disease, the first won’t please Bethel:
• God sending sickness –
Old Testament: “But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” Exodus 4:10-11.
New Testament: “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” 1 Corinthians 11: 29-30.
It’s accurate to say that God allows sickness – even in the life of believers. New Testament examples – Timothy (1 Tim 5:23), Trophimus (2 Tim 4:20), and Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-27). Paul never accused them of coming into agreement with Satan for their sickness, didn’t plead the blood of Jesus over their disease, and never instructed them to speak life over their bodies and lay hold of their healing that was guaranteed in the atonement.
• Satan can be the cause of some sickness (Luke 13:11-16).
• Poor lifestyle choices can result in disease.
• Living in a fallen world, in a fallen body (that is going to die) can result in various forms of disease or genetic disorders.
It’s ironic that Bethel quote John 10:10, because “the thief” that Jesus is referring to is false teachers.
The word of faith and prosperity doctrine which are inherent in New Apostolic Reformation teachings, interpret “abundant life” as health, wealth, and dominion. However, the abundant life that Jesus promised is eternal and spiritual in nature. Based on Bethel’s theology, Paul could not have experienced abundant life (2 Corinthians 11:23-29; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
2. I don’t have enough faith.
Another common lie that we believe about healing is that we don’t have enough faith to believe, either to see someone healed or see ourselves healed. Jesus commended people when they had faith. But He also healed people who had no faith. It’s not our faith that produces healing, it’s the power of Christ in us! Galatians 2:20 says, “I’ve been crucified with Christ and nevertheless I live. Not just I who live but Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Healing isn’t a function of our grace, it’s a function of His great faithfulness and His great love.
The first part is true. Jesus healed those who had faith (the woman with the issue of blood – Matthew 9:22; Bartimaeus, the blind beggar – Mark 10:52), and those who had no faith (Lazarus – John 11:43; the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda – John 5:7-8).
The context of Galatians 2:20 is law vs grace, and has got absolutely nothing to do with physical healing: “But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” Galatians 2:17-21.
If “healing isn’t a function of our grace,” why are they charging $165 to teach folk how to “cultivate and maintain an atmosphere conducive to healing.”
Here’s the clincher, if our faith has nothing to do with healing the sick, why does Bill Johnson write the following: “The effects of Heaven on earth are practical, gradual, and increasing wherever faith is exercised. Jesus often performed a miracle and then announced that His Kingdom was present or near. In other words, it was seen in the simple manifestation that brought an end to the devil’s work of death, loss, and destruction, followed by the abundant life that only Jesus can give. The sickness or torment that was an evidence of the works of darkness was changed into a testimony of the fulfillment of His prayer—“on earth as it is in heaven.” Simply put, there is no sickness there, so there is to be none here.” 9
Isaiah 49:8 says, “In the time of My favor, I heard You. In the day of salvation, I helped you…” Now is the time of God’s favor. Today is the day of salvation. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and under the New Covenant, Jesus has paved the way for healing, wholeness, and life abundant today!
Again – passages of scripture are plucked out of context. These “deactivations” come too late for Paul who instructed Timothy to “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” Imagine that, the great Apostle giving Timothy practical advice for his frequent ailments instead of pointing him to Isaiah 49:8.
How does a prophetic word concerning the restoration of Israel prove that healing is guaranteed in the atonement?
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) means that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. He is God, his nature and attributes cannot change. Although covenants change (Hebrews 8), and the way God speaks to us has changed (Heb 1:1), God does not change (Many of the false teachings in the visible church occur because of the failure to recognize the two changes mentioned above).
While verse 8 is a truth that stands on its own, the immediate context contains an exhortation and a warning (which Bethelites would do well to heed).
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.” Hebrews 13:7-9.
Do you see anything in the text that suggests it’s always God’s will to heal?
4. It may not be God’s will to heal me.
Jesus was the exact representation of the Father and healed all who came to Him. In Matthew 8:2-3, when the leper came to Him, he said, “Lord if You’re willing, You can make me whole.” He said, “I am willing.” Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and He still willing—it’s His joy to heal you.
As an exact representation of the Father, Jesus overlooked “a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed” (John 5:3) and healed just one man.
Matthew 8:2-3 is a descriptive text of Christ’s earthly ministry. We’ve dealt with Hebrews 13:8. Like a sneaky squid, Bethel adds to the text, and rewrites the verse! I hope you can see the extent to which they have to engage in theological gymnastics to justify their position on healing.
5. God’s allowing this so that I can learn something.
In the Covenant of the Law, we were required to make a sacrifice when we sinned. In the New Covenant, Jesus took on all sickness, sin, and death that we could walk in the fullness of life God created us for. John 10:10 reminds us that killing, stealing, and destruction are from the enemy, and that includes sickness. God does not send sickness to us, but desires to heal us from it completely!
If you are currently contending for breakthrough and healing in your body, we are believing for a touch from heaven right now, and declare the blood of Jesus over you. He paid for your healing, and we speak life over you today in Jesus’ name!
Rehashing John 10:10 is all Bethel can offer at this point. The scriptures remind us that believers should expect to suffer, not simply because they live in this fallen world, but because God uses various forms of afflictions to discipline us, test our faith, and cause us to have an eternal perspective:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
Imagine the condemnation experienced by the sick who have fallen for Bethel’s lie that God never allows sickness and that there’s nothing to learn when we experience illness. God allowed a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass Paul and prevent him from becoming conceited. Whatever it was, the affliction was by God’s design with a specific purpose.
In one instance an affliction experienced by Paul caused him to preach the gospel to the Galatians: “You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus” Galatians 4:13-14.”
A few years after this event, Paul penned these words: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28).
All things include all kinds of afflictions that God allows.
Bethel’s final sentence reveals their superficial and unbiblical theology – we are believing for a touch from heaven right now, and declare the blood of Jesus over you. He paid for your healing, and we speak life over you today in Jesus’ name!”
We are believing.. – How does that help/contribute towards healing?
and declare the blood of Jesus over you – where in the scriptures are believers taught to declare the blood of Jesus…over anything?
we speak life over you – this word of faith practice is as effective as attempting to blow away a category five hurricane with your breath. The idea that our words are causative, contain power, or are needed by God in order to heal someone is heretical.
God allows various forms of suffering in the life of believers, suffering which may include sickness or physical disabilities. By demonizing those who are sick (it can only be their fault according to Bethel’s theology), Bethel are responsible for two evils:
• Heaping condemnation and guilt on the sick.
• Capitalising on their pain by charging $165 for a “healing school” – which is nothing less than a scheme of Satan.
They are hypocrites, selling a cure that does not exist and has not worked for their leadership.
Jesus didn’t come to earth to create sickness-free zones in Israel, he came to “seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10.
He didn’t say come and fill your bellies with loaves and fishes or come and let me deal with your diseases, he said “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 4:17.
He didn’t come to release bodies bound by sickness, he came to purchase spirits bound by sin.
Bethel has nothing to offer the sick – apart from confusion, condemnation, and a costly wild goose chase.
Ultimately, every believer will be healed:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Romans 8:18-23.
I must point out that the NAR teaches that the glory revealed to us will be in this present age. They use verse 19 as a proof text: “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”
The idea is that a new breed of Christian will walk in the authority and power of Christ, take dominion, and bring heaven to earth – which includes eradicating all sickness.
But the futility and corruption of this world will only end when Christ returns. Until then, the groaning will continue: “we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” (vs 22)
Verse 23 makes it clear that the deliverance we are waiting for is in the future when our bodies will be glorified after the resurrection: “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
Philippians 3:20-21 makes this future aspect of our redemption clear: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”
Until then, God sovereignly heals us according to his will:
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (1 John 5:14).
1. Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles.
2. Bill Johnson, Walking in the Supernatural.
3. Bill Johnson. When Heaven Invades Earth Expanded Edition: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles.
5. Bill Johnson, Release the Power of Jesus.
6. Bill Johnson; Kris Vallotton, The supernatural ways of royalty.
7. Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles.
8. Kris Vallotton, Heavy Rain: How to Flood Your World with God’s Transforming Power.
9. Bill Johnson, The Way of Life.