Monday, December 12, 2016

Responding to the False Teaching of Bethel Church, Jesus Culture, and Todd White


Last week, I published a series of videos through WWUTT about false teachers at Bethel Church and Jesus Culture, including Bill Johnson and Todd White. This began with a video that Todd White posted on Facebook preaching a false man-centered gospel. I followed that up with a video on Bethel Church and Todd White. The last of the trilogy was a video addressing Bethel Church and Jesus Culture's use of "glory clouds" during their worship services. How do I know these men are cons? Because the Bible says so. The following are some of the comments we got about those videos. The comments are in bold and my response follows.

You still don't have proof. God manifest His glory in myriads of ways. What Moses experienced was unique and only occurred one time in the Bible. What about the cloud that was present in the camp? God was present in the cloud by day and the fire by night. God was present in the cloud that covered the tabernacle in the midst of over 2 million people. "Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40:34). I'm not defending Bethel but you have made baseless accusations that you simply cannot verify. You do not know with absolutely certainly whether or not your accusations are true. Why not send someone to collect some of the dust and have it analyzed?

Ben
Overland Park, KS

Understand something: It is Bethel Church that calls this glitter-and-fog-machine manifestation a "glory cloud." That's their name for it, not mine. If it was the glory of God, it would kill everyone in that room. The pillars of cloud and fire described in Exodus 14 were not a display of God in His glory. Exodus 14:19 says that it was an angel of God that was in the pillar of cloud (not to be confused with the Angel of the Lord). In Exodus 40:34, "The cloud covered the tent of meeting" and "the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle" are two different statements. It's not saying the cloud which was the glory of God filled the tabernacle.

Furthermore, it's as if Ben didn't actually watch the whole video (which is only 90-seconds long). The book of Exodus is not the only Scriptural evidence given as to how I know God's glory is not appearing in gold dust at Bethel Church. Hebrews 1:1-3 explicitly states that God does not appear to us in such ways anymore. He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, through His word, the Bible -- which is not preached at Bethel Church. That's how I know they are liars and deceivers, and they're piping in gold dust and fog through their ventilation system.

Thank the Lord, I don't need to invest the time and money to go to Bethel church and scoop up some gold dust to have it analyzed or crawl through their air ducts and take pictures. I have a much more infallible resource -- the word of God. If you won't believe that word, you'd never believe any other form of proof.

Is it bad to play their music in church? Some of their songs aren't bad.

Aisha
Plantation, FL

Here's three reasons why you shouldn't play their music in church. First, their songs offer nothing substantive. Your church will not be missing anything if you don't play Jesus Culture songs, but you will be missing something if you do. As I've written about before, there's nothing biblically solid about their music. If you think you hear doctrinally sound lyrics, that's because the song is ambiguous enough to allow you to impose your (probably better) theology upon it. But if their teaching isn't biblical, neither will their music be.

Second, you would inadvertently be endorsing their church. If someone found out the song you sang on Sunday came from Jesus Culture, that could open the door for that person exposing them to Bethel's teaching and heresy. I shared an occasion of this happening in a previous article (linked above).

And third, you would be paying them for their songs. If your church is singing something other than hymns or what's in the public domain, then you probably have a CCLI license. That means you pay royalties on the songs that you sing. If some of those songs are from Jesus Culture, you are paying them to sing their music. (By the way, these reasons also apply to why we shouldn't sing Hillsong tunes either.)

My friends, to correct your closing statements, there is no question that WWUTT, Pastor Gabe, and others who do what they do are false teachers. Leave God's anointed alone for once. That would be great.

Evans
Marion Station, MD

Regarding the video exposing Bill Johnson and Todd White, the closing statement is, "There's no question that Bethel Church, Todd White, and others who do what they do are false teachers." Evans was trying to be witty and turn that back around on me. His insistence to "leave God's anointed alone" is a common one used often in charismatic circles. The irony is that it's actually these charismatic false prophets who are harming God's anointed ones.

Upon the return of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, David gave praise to God for His faithfulness to His people. While they wandered from Egypt to the Promised Land, and were yet so few in number, God allowed no one to oppress them and "rebuked kings on their account, saying, 'Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!'" (1 Chronicles 16:22, repeated again in Psalm 105:15).

God's anointed ones are those who are descendants in the line of Abraham. In our case as Christians, it's all who are in Christ, Himself a descendant of Abraham and through whom we are adopted into the family of God. In 2 Corinthians 1:21, Paul says that we have been anointed in Christ. John says this also in 1 John 2:20, anointed by the Holy One. We who are in Christ are God's anointed.

Those who speak against God are the false shepherds and teachers talked about in Ezekiel 34 and John 10. In 1 John 4:1, we read, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." These false teachers are a burden upon the people of God, unsettling them by teaching for selfish gain what they ought not teach.

Jesus said, "For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24). Just as God protected his people from pagan kings in the Old Testament, so He will continue to protect His people from the wiles of false prophets. It is to these false teachers, like Bill Johnson and Todd White, that God is saying, "Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!"

Psalm 105:15 and 1 Chronicles 16:22 are in no way meant to give false teachers a pass. Rather, it's all the more reason why we need to test all things according to the Scriptures. This will be a topic in a future WWUTT video.

Another lovely video taken out of context. Watch the rest of the video and you'll see how Todd White realizes that it's all grace and mercy. Todd White realizes we were wretched but aren't anymore now that we are in Christ. Come on, Pastor Gabe. So as a Christian it's wrong to say we are a new creation?

Ricky
Omaha, NE

Ricky expressed appreciation for my ministry and WWUTT, so I know that his disagreement is respectful. The video that the Todd White clip was taken from was shared by White on his Facebook page, and has been seen over a million times. In the three minutes that he spoke, he never once mentioned grace or mercy. The 45-second clip that was used in the WWUTT video was perfectly in context.

I have watched dozens of Todd White sermons since I was first introduced to him in 2014. His messages are always the same. He constantly abuses Scripture, rambles on about nothing, and never shares the gospel. He uses the word "gospel," but doesn't preach it. There is never any understanding of guilt before God, repenting of sin and receiving forgiveness. He doesn't tell people to turn from their rebellious nature to the righteousness of Christ, who by His death satisfied the wrath of God burning against ungodliness, and by His resurrection has rescued us from the grave we deserve and given us the eternal life we do not deserve. Those who are in Christ are saved from God's judgment, those who are not will be consigned to an eternal hell at the last judgment.

That's not White's message. White's message is always about how we're great and deserving of the blessings of God. When he talks about God's love, he talks about it from the standpoint that the love God has for us proves that we are inherently lovable. We're not. We were children of wrath like the rest of mankind saved by the mercy of God (see Ephesians 2:1-10). White's doctrine could not be more man-centered. It is this very kind of teaching that prompted Spurgeon to say, "If you meet with a system of theology that magnifies man, flee from it as far as you can!"

White preaches about dominion and stuff he'll call "the gospel" that isn't the gospel. He thinks that "By His wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24) means that we're supposed to go up to people on the street and make their legs grow. And even that work is a total con. He is a liar, a Bethel Church cad, leading thousands of people astray into a false gospel of works-based evangelism. I pray he repents or the day of judgment will not go well for him. Have nothing to do with this charlatan.

A church here in Garden City has promoted him and has had Dan Mohler, one of Todd's mentors, to speak at the church. Thank you for your time to bring this to light.

John
Garden City, KS

As a former resident of Garden City, this grieves me. This is why it's so important to speak up about these things and alert people to this false teaching. People are being deceived. They think miraculous clouds and healings (which are nothing but tricks) are the gospel. They're trading in sound preaching and teaching of God's word for goosebumps and charismania.

Not so long ago, I was having my quiet time with God and I was sharing what's on my heart on how jealous I am for God, how I wanted to fight the false teachings in church that led God's sheep astray, how I wanted to expose it and burn it. And as I was sharing that, God spoke to me in a personal way and told me that to get the darkness away you need light. To fight falsehood, you need the truth to shine. Go share the truth instead of dedicating yourself to exposing falsehoods in other teachings. I quickly stepped down from my anger toward the false teachings in obedience and decided that I want to pursue learning the Bible so I can share the truth to all that I bump into. I'm sharing this testimony because I would love for the WWUTT team to stop releasing videos accusing others and instead focus more on sharing the truth without having to point fingers in order to do that. All that is doing is creating hostility, and I'm saying that from personal experience. Press on, aspire on being salt and light to the world, and may God bless you.

Daniel
New Cairo, Egypt

There were a couple of men that responded to Daniel with Scripture, and he seemed to be appreciative for the correction. For that reason, I rejoice. Daniel's experience is subjective and not based in Scripture. He heard something in his mind instead of reading for himself what God has truly said in the Bible. There it says we need to take no part in the fruitless works of darkness, but rather expose them (Ephesians 5:11). The church is to be a pillar and buttress of the truth, declaring the truth and defending the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). One of the responsibilities as a pastor is to hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught and be able to rebuke those who contradict it (Titus 1:9). Sometimes that means naming names.

Preaching the truth and occasionally calling out false teachers does not divide. It unifies. It is the false teachers who divide. It is men who are faithful to the sound teaching of the Bible who are the peacemakers. The word of God pierces to the division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). If declaring it offends someone, that's not on the part of the teacher who humbly submits to and declares its truth. Jesus said, "I came not to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). Many will be divided from the people of God when the word of God is declared because they were not really of the people of God in the first place.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Who Wrote the Book of Hebrews?

The following is a response given on a recent episode of the WWUTT podcast, answering a question on who wrote the book of Hebrews. If you'd like to submit a question, the e-mail address is whenweunderstandthetext@gmail.com, and subscribe to the podcast here! Questions are answered on Fridays.


Hey Pastor Gabe, I really enjoy your WWUTT videos! My question is: who do you think wrote the book of Hebrews? What do you think are the best arguments out there? A.W. Pink makes very strong internal arguments from the Scripture in favor for Paul writing the book.

Thank you
Jeremiah

Greetings, Jeremiah!

Thank you for your question! It's hard to say who wrote Hebrews, but I do not believe it was Paul. Now, I'm not versed in Greek and am unable to compare Paul's Greek to the Greek in Hebrews. But I don't think a person would need to know Greek in order to rule out Paul as the author.

There are two reasons I don't believe Paul wrote it. First, there's no clear greeting. In all of Paul's letters that we have, there is a distinct introduction and conclusion. He identifies himself in every letter, and in Hebrews he does not. This is an argument from silence of course, but it's a very loud silence given the nature of the letter, who it's written to, and yet Paul doesn't find it necessary to remind them that he's a former teacher of the Law.

The second reason I believe is the strongest reason. Hebrews 2:3 says of the gospel, "It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard." Well, Paul didn't receive the gospel "by those who heard." He received it from direct revelation from the Lord himself (Galatians 1:12, Ephesians 3:3).

So who did write Hebrews? Well, considering there are some stylistic similarities to Paul's writings, it would have to be someone close to Paul. The mention of Timothy in chapter 13 suggests someone from Paul's group. The most likely candidates are Apollos and Barnabas. Despite the fact that Martin Luther argued for Apollos being the author, I think Apollos can be ruled out in favor of Barnabas.

Apollos was a Jew, but he was from Alexandria, Egypt. He had a Greek name, and his ministry outreach was primarily to the Greeks, particularly in Ephesus and Corinth. Barnabas, however, was a Levite (Acts 4:36). He would have known the levitical system well which is a central theme in the book of Hebrews. In Acts 11, we see Barnabas sent out from Jerusalem to find Paul, and they served in ministry together. Barnabas was present at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15. His acquaintance with both Hebrews and Paul runs much deeper than Apollos.

That would be my argument for the author of Hebrews. I hope I've been able to give you something to consider. Ultimately the author of Hebrews is the author of the Bible: God Himself. It is in Him we marvel when we read His inerrant word, delivered to us through His apostles and prophets to the praise of His glorious grace. God bless, Jeremiah!

Pastor Gabe