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When I first got saved and joined a small Bible church that was not part of a denomination my friends were concerned that I had joined a cult. The church was small (50 or so attendees), we met in a school hall, the pastor was a foreigner (any American teaching just smelled suspicious), and we had a lengthy membership process, part of which required baptism because my “mainstream” Catholic christening didn’t count. It also included signing a document that said I understood the practice of church discipline, resulting in excommunication for violating Scripture.

In retrospect, I can sympathize with their concerns. My beliefs and behavior altered, and albeit for the better, it still seemed radical. I attended three Bible studies a week, two services on a Sunday, and listened to countless hours of John MacArthur tapes. I started dating a girl in the church who had refused to date me while I was Catholic. I can see what this looked like. At one point the pressing concerns of a close friend of mine caused me to pause and consider: had I joined a cult?

I asked a friend in another church how I could know if I was in a cult. I have been asked the same question by others, and I’ve had Christian parents enquire how they can know if the church their college-aged child has got involved in is a cult or not.

First, let me say that the mere fact that you are asking the question is a good sign. Even if someone in my own (Baptist) church asked me if we were a cult I would not be offended but encouraged. It signals that the person is thinking critically about their faith, rather than accepting it based on an authority figure spoon feeding (or worse: force feeding) it to them. I would also recommend to the enquirer that they not accept my answer as final either, but that they read widely and research other sources to check what I say.

Also, bear in mind that cultic patterns occur on a spectrum. The more characteristics your church exhibits, the more concerned you should be. And just because a group is missing one or two of these traits does not mean it is a safe spiritual place.

Your church might not be a cult, while still exhibiting cultic behavior, that you should address with the leadership.

So here is the short answer, in 500 words…

5 Characteristics of Cultish Groups:

Read the Characteristics HERE 

 

 

A good article by Rick Becker from

Famine In The Land

 

You probably have friends and family caught up in New Apostolic Reformation churches (Bethel, Hillsong etc) and you have found it extremely difficult to persuade them they are being deceived.  You may have been accused of having a critical spirit, of being divisive, judgemental, or of being a heresy hunter when warning them of the false doctrines in this movement.  Why is it so difficult for those caught up in the New Apostolic Reformation, word of faith and prosperity gospel movements (NAR & CO) to break free?

These movements have characteristics similar to cults, making it almost equally difficult to come out from their grip and deception. There are reasons why it is so difficult for people to escape from these movements and churches that teach false doctrine. Firstly, we will look at some secondary reasons, and then note the two primary reasons why people struggle to break free from this deception.

1  A new priesthood has been established within the NAR & CO.  When the likes of Patricia King, Kris Vallotton or Bill Johnson claim to have a revelation for the body of Christ, a new strategy etc, who are you to question when God does not speak to you on such an intimate basis?  Like any cult leader, they claim to have special knowledge, immediately placing them on a level that is admired by their followers.  Leaders claim to have taken trips to heaven, talked with angels, received new downloads and impartations from an open heaven.  Their so called ability to receive new revelation has elevated them above their followers, in clear contradiction of 1 John 2:27: “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.”  There is no difference between the manipulative priests and Popes of the Roman Catholic Church and this new breed of apostles, prophets and pastors.  They interpret scripture on our behalf, and through eisegesis twist the scriptures to promote their false doctrines.  They are rarely challenged by their own followers, and point two reveals why.

2  Submission induced through an unhealthy fear keeps followers in their place.

Finish article HERE

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An article from:

Anthony Wood on September 14, 2017

EQUIP THE SAINT

Calling today’s world to God’s timeless truth…

 

I’ve some friends who know the “signs and wonders” movement pretty well. We’ve seen the backstage planning of a “miracle” crusade, the selection of those to be healed, the bravado in the green rooms, the falsified twitter feeds, the manipulation of youthful naïveté, and even the post event cash-money exchanges behind hotel doors in some destitute third world nation… smoke and mirrors… all of it.

So, it poses the question, is this form of miracle-manipulation part of biblical history? Well, Acts 8 indicates it was:

When Simon saw how the Spirit was given through the apostles’ laying their hands upon people he offered them money with the words, “Give me this power too, so that if I were to put my hands on anyone he could receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “To hell with you and your money! How dare you think you could buy the gift of God! You can have no share or place in this ministry, for your heart is not honest before God. All you can do now is to repent of this wickedness of yours and pray earnestly to God that the evil intention of your heart may be forgiven. For I can see inside you, and I see a man bitter with jealousy and bound with his own sin! [Acts 8:18-23]

Once we realize miracle manipulation was part of biblical history a subsequent question asks if extra biblical revelation and miracle manipulation was part of church history? Again the answer is affirmative. Miracle manipulation has always been around. In fact, dating back to A.D. 156 one can research the assault on orthodox Christianity by a charlatan named Montanus. Montanus came from Asia Minor along with two “prophetesses” named Prisca and Maximilla. His sect of followers insisted that opposition to their versions of prophecy was blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and caused many churches to split. Sound familiar?

Finish HERE

 

I have received many inquiries about oppression from those who have gone through SOZO or 
any method contacting the spirit world. Just because Christian terminology is used, 
it does not mean it is indeed "Christian." 

These methods are very dangerous as you are actually being subjected to the demonic realm.
Spiritism is called detestable in Deuteronomony 18:9-13. This would include calling down
any spirit in the form of fire, power, etc. This can open yourself to demonic oppression 
which causes manifestations in your body and mind. Once this door is opened it can be 
difficult to be free of the evil spirits. 

Kim 

“Has SOZO given me evil spirits?”

I received the following letter about SOZO Prayer, a technique based on psychology and used by so-called “inner healing ministries” sweeping churches today. I share because it’s important for you to know what SOZO is, and what it does and does not do:

“I was recently bought some SOZO CDs, which I haven’t listened to yet. I threw them away, after learning that the CDs are from Bethel Church in Redding, California.  So far I have gone to two SOZO appointments, but I have not experienced any issues. Even though I do feel healed, Scripture tells me my feelings can’t be trusted.  I am concerned, and wondering if I inadvertently picked up evil spirits during those sessions? What should I do?”

Throwing those teachings in the trash was the right thing to do. “SOZO” is a psycho-spiritual deliverance and inner healing methodology designed to exorcise demons from Christians. Not that a Christian can be possessed by demons, but that is one of many apostate teachings from the New Apostolic Reformation, or NAR. (See, What your church needs to know about NAR.)

This technique came out of Bethel Church, invented by NAR apostle Bill Johnson himself. The Bethel SOZO website says SOZO will heal your broken connection with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so that you can walk in the destiny to which you have been called and reach your potential.

During SOZO sessions, counselees receive help opening their minds to be filled with the Holy Spirit. They may be told that they have a spirit of Jezebel, or a Squid spirit, or some other creature or demon living inside of them.

Finish article HERE 

MY BETHEL CHURCH EXPERIENCE ~

by Tony Baugh

Recently, I decided to pay a visit to Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding, California, ground zero of the New Apostolic Reformation (yes, I know, call me crazy).

Arriving up their very well manicured driveway, it was lined with flag poles and various global flags, along with one complete with the Yin-Yang waving high. It’s a church/Christian college, with lots of the typical, cute college girls and young guys mostly wearing beards, ball caps, or Bill Johnson-style eye glasses, many of which were very effeminate or clearly gay (not a judgement, but an observation). The whole place was crawling with a self-consciousness and sexual energy, and was complete with its own buff, tattooed guys working as security. The place is clearly raking in the big $.

I went into the their Coffee Shop, the girl at the counter was wearing a tank top which read, “As on Earth as it is in Heaven.” I asked her if they sold organic coffee (because I try to drink it when I can), she said no, but they have their own “Bethel Brand” and pointed to bags of coffee, that sure enough, were labeled as such. I bought a cup and noticed that directly across from the coffee bar, was loud music coming from a large hall called the “Sanctuary”, with signs saying, “No Visitors or Family Today. Students Only”. A name tag was required for entry. I peeped inside the door and a full on concert was going on with people dancing and swaying to a live worship band of whom some members were convulsing and flailing around ecstatically while the lyrics were displayed across a large screen. This was not a Sunday worship service, just another average weekday @ Bethel. (To be clear, I do not have an issue with worship music unless the emotional high of the music is being confused with a move of the Holy Spirit.)

I then wandered into their own Bethel bookstore, which was loaded with every apostate book imaginable, many of which were on Quantam Mysticism, with authors like John Crowder and Bill Johnson having their own sections,d loads Jesus Culture worship music CD’s for purchase. Only one small shelf contained bibles, no KJV’s. I asked the two women working at the counter if they carried any books by Warren B Smith (One of the great author/speakers of our day exposing end times deception and apostasy in the modern church and it’s embrace of mysticism). They said they’d never heard of him (of course).

As I sat outside drinking my coffee during class break, I suddenly observe a girl is giving another girl an impartation through the laying on of hands on her forehead, while she looks like she is receiving shock treatment, convulsing, right before my eyes. I kid you not. Pure Kundalini Serpent Spirit Impartations were being handed out as casually and as commonplace as hugs, handshakes or high-fives. I could not believe what I was seeing.

As I drove out, back through all the global flags, the last thing I saw was a student wearing a T-shirt that said “unify”. An ironic, final, punctuation mark for Ecumenical, Globlalist “COEXIST-ence” of the rapidly rising global kingdom of the Antichrist.

This was one weird, weird place. Much more so than I had imagined, absolutely infested with demonic presence and blasphemous perversions in the so-called name of Christ. I felt as if I just entered and exited an alternate reality.

Satan knows his time is short, and is pulling out all the stops in these closing moments. God is indeed sending strong delusion and the Great Apostasy is very much now upon us.

May God have mercy on these lost, misguided souls.

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Leaving the NAR Church: Christopher’s story

posted by Amy Spreeman on May 5, 2017

http://bereanresearch.org/

“There is a deep sadness in me, a sorrow over wasted years and opportunities. I get angry with myself for having been deluded and so easily led into false doctrine and practice.”

Christopher got swept up in the “Third Wave,” another term for the New Apostolic Reformation. I love how he tells of his journey out! He has allowed me to include his story in this series about a movement called the New Apostolic Reformation, or NAR for short. In this series, I want to take readers beyond the textbook What is the New Apostolic Reformation Movement explanation, into the personal experiences from those who have been there, and what happened when God opened their eyes to the truth.

Here is Christopher’s story in his own words:

You would probably be surprised that I have a degree in Microbiology and that I practice dentistry and consider myself a scientific person. And that I have had a number of wonderful Bible preaching pastors over the years, men committed to the gospel and the inerrancy of the scriptures. And that I was even trained in and practiced inductive Bible Study, accompanies with a reference texts such as Vines and Strong’s. Boy, did I let my guard down and embrace false illumination! And I thought God was in the middle of the craziness. I thought God was doing something wonderful. I even wrote defenses for all of it, to counteract the “haters” and “heresy hunters.”

Four months ago I renounced my twenty years of involvement with the Third Wave charismatic thing as well as a more recent connection with the “New Apostolic Reformation”. I immediately experienced a relief, a lifting of a burden.

I had begun to grow tired of the promises of coming breakthroughs. I had spent my share on books, tapes, and conferences, all promising to prepare me for what was coming next. I went through Inner Healing and SOZO only to become worried that my great grandparents might have done something which I would never be able to discover which might have opened a doorway for spiritual oppression in my life.

I had been Slain in the Spirit many times, and had received my share of “visions”, but the quest became about more and more of it. It was about finding and riding the next wave of the Spirit, always. And it became about speaking things into existence. Doing greater works than Jesus. Doing spiritual warfare. And marching around the church building speaking in tongues, waving flags, blowing shofars, and ignoring the incredulous looks of onlookers.

Two things happened that probably pushed me over the edge.

Finish article HERE

http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/newapostolic.html#bjohnson

It seems that many of us know someone who has been negatively influenced by the New Apostolic Reformation.

There are those who are currently picking up roots and leaving for Redding, California to attend Bethel Church. May some of these articles serve as red flags. I am praying.

There are those who are currently attending and have fallen in love with teachings that may seem to glorify God but instead glorify man. Bill Johnson teaches that Jesus laid aside his divinity and did his miracles merely as a man. This paves the way for men and women to perform such false signs and wonders. There are many accounts and videos of deceived young people elevating themselves instead of teaching about Jesus Christ and His purpose of providing a way we can be forgiven of our sin. May some of these articles serve as red flags. I am praying.

There are those whose eyes have been opened, yet experience controlling manifestations in their body. They seek help and find none in faulty deliverance methods. May I encourage those who suffer in this way that returning to the  true Lord Jesus Christ in repentance of  following a false Christ and false teachers will start you on a path back to spiritual truth. Read these articles and share them with others. I am praying.

http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/newapostolic.html#bjohnson

Source : Berean Research“Guard Yourselves in Steadfast Truth!”

Leaving the NAR church: Jessie’s story

“I saw myself as a far superior Christian! I belonged to a church that was restoring prophets and apostles, and was right on the cutting edge of what God was doing on the Earth.”

Jessie was fully steeped in the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) movement without realizing it.

Today she tells her story to expose for what it is: An anti-biblical counterfeit that sounds almost like biblical Christianity.

In this series, I want to take readers beyond the textbook What is the New Apostolic Reformation Movement explanation, into the personal experiences from those who have been there, and what happened when God opened their eyes to the truth.

This is Jessie’s story in her own words:

I had no idea that I was in the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation), or part of the Word of Faith movement. I didn’t even know those terms existed. I simply went to the church that I found most exciting, cutting edge and challenging. I had been saved out of the occult and so I was aware of the spirit world. When the Toronto blessing began I was right in there too.

However, over the past three years (and I have been saved for thirty) my eyes have been opened.

 

Finish HERE 

Unholy Signs & Cash Flows

Bethel’s example of Church working with Corporate and State

 

By Pastor Rod Page
“I dedicate this book to my children’s children’s children’s children. Though we will not meet until we get to heaven, I wanted you to know that I had you in mind as I wrote every word of this book, and I continue to hold you in my heart. You will become the answer to my prayers and the fulfillment of my prophecies. By the time you read this book, I will be watching you from heaven (see Hebrews 12: 1).”[1]

This quotation above is the opening dedication to Kris Vallotton’s upgraded book called Heavy Rain. Its former title was How Heaven Invades Earth. At the outset it sounds like a way to soften, or even spiritualize, the more militant sounding “invade” language in his book from six years ago. I believe this change is part of a new effort to say the same thing in a more sophisticated, and yet more palatable, way in order to attract a wider audience.

In this day and age where everything is seen from a marketing standpoint, as far as publishers and agents and business in general, it is no surprise that this would happen from within the headquarters of a now worldwide movement—Bethel Church in Redding, California.

I am writing this from Redding as it is the closest city to where we live for groceries and doctors. It is also where I lived for several years. It’s a pretty typical town in most aspects, with a Costco and an old converted theater downtown, and a mix of working people and retired folks looking for the sun…. It is even sunnier in Redding than Phoenix!

But Redding is actually quite special in regard to what is happening in Christendom. A phenomenon has grown up here. There is something almost “magical” about the effect that Bethel has had on this community. The city has fallen in love with this “church”. Is this even possible in our day of hysteria over “separation of church and state”? It is not separate in Redding. Bethel bailed out the Civic Auditorium and is running it well from all indications. Bethel is also becoming a major property owner. They have bought and improved several commercial properties and hope to increase their School of Supernatural Ministry to 3000 students in the next few years. (It is currently around 1400.) They want to build a museum of revival in Americana and have spent around $40,000 to purchase one man’s memorabilia collection of articles from major “moves of God” going back into the 1950s.

Bethel is growing while the city of Redding has endured a decline in many facets. Crime is up. The housing market is flat at best. Homelessness is rampant. But Bethel is doing really well. I believe they know why. I think they have discovered a secret to moving forward at this time in their history. Before I get back to this subject let met tell you why I am writing this report.

The Bethel “cash flow” agenda, cited HERE

Why I Write 
Before becoming a full time pastor in 2011 I spent over 30 years being a regular Christian, with a regular secular job, raising a family with my wife of 37 years. Before we moved to Redding we attended a church for 10 years beginning in 1994 in Yuba City, California. We noticed after almost 7 years in that church that the teaching was changing. We heard things that shocked us, but because of intense loyalty to the leadership we tried to justify things we should have checked out immediately. We were told that spiritual warfare was calling out demons by name and defeating them in the atmosphere, and thus allowing our city to have a mass revival. We were told it was always God’s will for us to be physically well. We were told our children were a chosen seed to bring in the great harvest of all time—that they would do miracles greater than Jesus or the Apostles. These things came in slowly, like a steady drip. We were told that Christians have demons that need to be cast out. We were to go on “prayer walks” that would run the devil out of neighborhoods and out of families as we took dominion over our city.

The problem is it didn’t work, and we could not find a good Biblical reason to swallow all of this new teaching. Young people would go to the church’s new “discipleship” school and come out on the other end bewildered by a lack of power, not blaming the leaders who taught them but God, who they thought did not keep up His end of the bargain. We looked at our Bibles and saw texts that were clearly meant for the next world being brought into ours, with no concept for context or proper Biblical interpretation.

It took us almost 3 years to realize we needed to get back to the Bible. Then we found the Discernment Ministries’ Herescope blog (www.herescope.net). God led us to this small cadre of folks who had been writing for years about different new teachings, that were really old things wrapped up in new and upgraded lingo. As Solomon says, there is nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9).

Then, because of a job, and a ministry opportunity to take what we were finding about Satan’s schemes and warn younger believers, we moved to Redding to start a new job and work with a couple we thought truly were wanting to warn others. Sadly, within a year we found out we were not on the same page with the very people we were supposed to serve with. Shortly after this we began to attend a church where the Bible was taught verse by verse. God put us away in His waiting room where we could get our thoughts and hearts in line with His precious Word.

We began to serve the Lord in humble but useful ways. We helped clean the church each week, emptying waste cans and vacuuming the carpet. Later we taught Sunday School. We truly had many glorious times with our 4th grade class teaching through the entire Bible line upon line. Eventually I was asked to teach in place of the pastor when he was out of town. We were asked to shepherd a part of the congregation and had a “home group” of over 40 people in our home each month. What I found in those days was that God is gracious. When we seek Him and His ways for His glory, He provides all we need. His Word has the answers we need to communicate. We don’t need to make up anything fancy to attract attention to it.

I had heard the Lord calling me to ministry when I was 12 years old. I had, because of fear, chosen not to follow His call for many years. Finally at 50 years of age I answered that call. I began to seek the Lord, and asked others to pray with me about going into full time work. I assumed it would be in a ministry to young people, as that was the reason I moved to Redding. I wanted to warn them of what the enemy was trying to do, both within the church and without it. After another year of waiting, just when I began to give up, an opportunity came as the Lord opened up a door for ministry. I have been serving as pastor at a small community church in Lewiston, California, ever since. I live within 35 miles of Redding in the mountains. God is gracious indeed. It is the hardest, and yet most fulfilling job, I have ever had.

But Bethel is still a thorn. I suppose it reminds me of what happened to us in Yuba City. But it is far worse. It is a leader, a worldwide and dominant leader, in a movement rife with error. This is grievous to me personally because it goes after, and actually targets, young people in a huge way. This is why I write. These young people (and old people, too) are precious to our Savior. This movement is swallowing them in ways I never could have imagined even 6 years ago when I lived within a mile of Bethel Church. This church is more sophisticated and more “excellent” in an alarming way.

Finish Article HERE

What Are Bill Johnson’s Heresies?

In the past few weeks, Bill Johnson has been the center of a lot of controversy. With Montanist apologists like Michael Brown defending his errors and whitewashing his heresies and others falling prey to his exploitation, the fact that he is a heretic at all is being questioned. Bill Johnson seriously needs to be tested against the Scripture.

Kenosis

The Kenosis heresy teaches that Jesus set aside His divinity while on Earth. According to this doctrine, Jesus was no longer divine from His birth to His ascension. Bill Johnson has promoted this heresy in Face to Face with God on page 108. He said,

“Jesus set aside His divinity, choosing instead to live as a man completely dependent on God.”

Truth is, if Jesus set aside His divinity and became a man, Jesus would have been nothing more than a man. This is not the only time that Johnson promoted Kenosis. In chapter 7 of When Heaven Meets Earth, Johnson claimed,

“[Jesus] laid His divinity aside as He sought to fulfill the assignment given to Him by the Father.”

To claim that Jesus put His divinity aside while on Earth brings another Gospel. If Jesus was not divine when He died on the Cross, then He would not have been a sufficient sacrifice. In that case His death would be in vain and so would our faith. Instead, Jesus is treated like God while He is on Earth. He received worship (John 20:28, Matthew 2:2, Matthew 14:33, Matthew 28:9), claimed to be God (John 5:18, John 8:24, John 8:58), and did things only God could do all while on Earth (Matthew 9:2, Mark 2:5, 1 Peter 2:22).

Osteenism

Johnson has also taught the false gospel of Osteenism, more commonly called the Prosperity Gospel. The Prosperity Gospel teaches that health, wealth, and prosperity are promises of salvation or obedience. In a 2013 article entitled Courage to Leave a Legacy, Johnson wrote,

“Our connection with God is obviously the source of all blessing, prosperity and goodness in our lives. We make our way prosperous through obedience because when we do what He asks us to do, we strengthen our connection with the source of life.”

I would remind Bill that the most obedient person of the Bible was a poor carpenter who was brutally crucified, and someone who was called the greatest person born of a normal birth (Matthew 11:11) was a nomad who lived in the desert, wore camel hair for clothing, ate locusts and honey, and had his head cut off for his obedience.

Throughout the Bible, we see James get beheaded, Stephen get stoned, and the number of people who have gotten sick appear to pile up: Timothy, Epaphroditus, Trophimus, and even possibly Paul himself. However, that does not stop Johnson from saying Jesus died for our physical healing. In an article entitled Is It Always God’s Will to Heal Someone?, Johnson claims,

“When He bore stripes in His body He made a payment for our miracle.”

 

Retanism

There is another false teaching out there pushed by people such as Kenneth Copeland and Joyce Meyer that teaches that Jesus was born again. I called this teaching “Retanism”, and if it was a civil crime to preach it then Bill Johnson would be found guilty. In one sermon (Which has been reviewed on Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting for the Faith), Johnson can be quoted as saying,

“So [Jesus] was born through Mary, the Virgin, and then he was born again in the resurrection.”

Jesus was not born again because He did not need to be Born Again. He did not have a sinful nature and He, though tempted, did not desire to rebel against God. He was not dead in trespasses and sins, so He did not need to be made alive. However, Bill Johnson says Jesus was born again in many places, including this video, where he asks,

“Did you know that Jesus was born again?”

Finish Article HERE 

A good link to other articles

Bill Johnson / Bethel Church, Redding, California

 

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