I was reading a post on a blog I enjoy reading from time to time, m’kayla’s korner, about someone in the UK whose church became ‘Bethelized”. Now, this isn’t a word you’ll find in any dictionary, but this isn’t the first place I’ve seen it used. For a church to become “Bethelized” is to adopt the ways and practices of Bethel Church in Redding, California.
For those who aren’t familiar with Bethel Church or their practices, they are a church in Redding, CA that’s pastored by a man named Bill Johnson. They started out as an Assemblies of God church but around a couple of years ago, they voted to withdraw from the Assemblies and go it on their own. They didn’t want the restraint of a denomination keeping them from promoting some of their heretical doctrines, as if the Assemblies of God are much of a restraint these days.
This blog post, here on m’kayla’s korner, got me to thinking further about some events that’s transpired this past few weeks in my own life. As I’ve stated here before, my wife and I have been on a search for a new church for over a year. As it turns out, I guess God led us to a church within a couple of months of our searching, but we were still too hurt to recognize it. We ended up moving on from that church and looked for another six months before we realized that was where we are supposed to be in the first place.
This church we’ve chosen isn’t perfect. We would wish for some other things if it was up to us, but one thing I’ve come to learn on our journey for a new church home is that there aren’t many pastors that open a Bible and teach extensively from scripture. This church we’ve chosen does. The pastor doesn’t sweat, he doesn’t yell, and he doesn’t “impart”. He simply teaches line by line and verse by verse through each book of the Bible, the way the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to do. It’s done the same way in our children’s church……line by line, verse by verse so that as little of the pastor’s philosophies are woven into the teaching as possible.
Now back to what’s been on my mind the last couple of weeks. We still have some friends that attend our old Assembly of God church. Our old Assembly of God church along with all of the other Assemblies of God in the area have been at youth camp this past week. Each year the camp gets a themed name. This year’s themed name was “Supernatural Camp“. I thing it goes without saying just what the camp focused on this year, and it wasn’t preaching the Gospel (though I’m sure they thought that’s exactly what they were doing).
The focus was on imparting the “Fire of God” on the kids for them to take back to their local churches.
The focus of the camp wasn’t on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was on acquiring the “power” of God, the dreams, visions, the supernatural knowledge. In fact, I would go so far to say that most of these AG kids left camp and weren’t able to articulate the Gospel at all. You see, I know they can’t, because none of our former friends’ kids can.
The youth pastor of our former church was trained at another AG church who adored Bethel Church. If you was to go today to this church’s website in Irving, Texas it’s really nothing more than an idol to Bethel Church and Bill Johnson. There’s nearly as much on their website about Bethel as their own church. The sad part is that the pastor of this church in Irving, Texas is a Section Leader of the Assemblies of God while promoting a church that cast off it’s restraints from the Assemblies of God. Probably all done in a spirit of “interdenominational unity”, of course.
My wife posted on her Facebook this past Sunday something along the lines of “Something I love to hear in church on Sunday, ‘Church, open your Bibles to………’ “. I can’t count the amount of churches we went to that claimed to be Bible-centered, Gospel-preaching churches. These claims were made proudly on their websites and in their bulletins. But, you see, just because a pastor gives a 1-hour sermon on something and backs it up with several scriptures scattered from across the range of the books of the Bible, doesn’t mean it’s Bible centered. It only means they’ve used scripture to support their teaching. All those mis-contextualized scriptures makes the sermon sound so…..scriptural. But in all but one of these other churches, we never heard the Gospel presented. I’m not talking about an invitation to “receive Jesus”, but the actual death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with a call to repentance.
In other words, there are more than 60 churches within a 5-mile radius of our house (this IS Texas, ya know) and of the 20 or so churches we tried, only two preached gospel centered preaching directly from scripture. Two. By the way, the other 40 or so churches were easily dismissed from their websites. It was obvious we weren’t going to hear the Gospel in those churches.
It’s a sad state of church affairs out there. I guess I was in for a shock just how complacent God’s people have become. Oh sure there’s a lot of hollering and screaming in churches all across America every Sunday, but that doesn’t equate to line by line, verse by verse Gospel centered preaching. The infection is only getting worse as churches like Bethel, and IHOP, and Morningstar among a growing tsunami of other self-promoting ministries take their heresies worldwide.
So if you’ve become a frog in a pan of water on a stove, I can’t advise you to run from your current church. What I can advise, however is to search your heart, search out God, and search out the whole council of God’s word, the Bible, and see if you’re sitting under a self-centered, empire-building wolf…….you might just have become so used to your surroundings that you’re failing to realize your about to be eaten.
Most of all, be a Berean and hold every minister of the Gospel accountable for every word that comes out of their mouth. Remember, Luke called the Bereans noble for holding the Apostle Paul accountable.