Bill Johnson:“I believe it is the provision of the Lord in his suffering on our behalf; Jesus bore stripes in his body through brutal beating as an atoning work to deal with the power of sickness and disease…”
Jesus did not need to go to the cross to heal your cancer. Throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus, he healed people. During his earthly ministry, Jesus appointed 72 people to go out and heal people and share the gospel. Physical healing, while miraculous, wonderful, and beautiful, was not the purpose of Jesus’ ministry—preaching the gospel (Mark 1:36–38), the good news of forgiveness of sin was the primary purpose of Jesus’ ministry. I promise you, a leper that was healed of their leprosy, but in turn rejected the gospel, received no lasting good from their physical healing.
We know why Jesus went to the cross. The apostle Peter writes, “He (Jesus) himself bore our sins in his body on the tree (cross), so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24 ESV)
The phrase, “by his wounds you have been healed,” also translated as, “by his stripes” in 17th century King James English is first introduced to us by the prophet Isaiah about 700 years before Jesus’ earthly ministry. In describing the purpose and events surrounding the suffering servant (Jesus) in Isaiah 53. Isaiah records, “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.” (Isa 53:5) The wounds Jesus voluntarily bore upon himself describe a healing from sin (for believers in Christ), as summed up at the end of the passage, “yet he bore the sin of many and makes intercession for the transgressors.” The same point the apostle Peter makes in 1 Peter 2:24.
While Bill Johnson’s sermon message is consistent with his legacy of an anthropocentric health, wealth, and power centered “gospel” message which appeals to the goals of every sinful human—it absolutely pales in comparison to the true gospel of Jesus. Where Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection was not to provide you with the things that will pass away (health and wealth), but rather, to provide you with true grace, mercy, holiness only available through the Christ Jesus leading to eternal life that is full of goodness, joy, love, kindness, peace…because it gives us fellowship with God Himself back in the Edenic state.
The theology of Bethel Church in Redding is carefully nuanced—where we find scriptural axioms mixed between tragic errors and old heresies—the result of a faulty biblical theology, bad hermeneutics, and frequent eisegesis. Over the next few days, I am going to catalogue and write on a number of significant (i.e. Bible, Jesus, gospel) errors and heresies openly taught/advocated by Bethel Church in Redding. I am not talking about minor differences that make one a Southern Baptist versus a Presbyterian, but rather, the difference between those saved in Christ versus those outside of Christ. The difference between those who have received and teach the gospel of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins versus those who have embraced and teach a different gospel centered around health, wealth, and power.
I recently had an interaction with an acquaintance who happens to be a Youth & Family Pastor. He recently stumbled upon an online article from last year about Jim Carrey talking about the significance of suffering which he eventually links to Jesus. Like the newspaper article, this Pastor fawned over Carrey’s proclamation of suffering’s salvific powers, and like too many mainstream Christian media outlets, linked this message of Carrey’s as the gospel itself.
But this is NOT the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not some vague metaphysical archetype as described by Carrey; rather Jesus Christ is THE ONLY WAY of salvation, not simply a model of it. This Youth Pastor wondered out loud why the mainstream media and Christian media had not made Carrey’s gospel proclamation more well-known, he for one was super excited about this message, sharing it to all who would listen.
Well, I decided to give him a reason why it might not have gained the attention he thought it deserved. I proposed the reason his message wasn’t more popular was simply because it was not a new message – nor was it a Christian one. The message shared by Carrey was the most popular mode of salvation – try harder and work harder. In his message, it centered around suffering leading to two decisions, one leading to resentment, and the other leading to “forgiveness, which leads to grace.” The gospel according to Jim Carrey can be best summed up in his own words, “suffering with compassion and with forgiveness, and that’s what opens the gates of heaven for all of us.” In fact, Carrey’s message is the standard new age mantra which is hardly news worthy.
I don’t fault the Pastor for falling for Carrey’s purposeful deception; I say purposeful because Carrey was speaking with Christians so Carrey wrapped his message in Christianize. And if we were talking about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and goodness in broader cultural terms this conversation would be able to keep a Christian appearance without much harm. Instead, this Pastor and the media are trying to sell this as the gospel. I pointed all this out to the Pastor and his response was, “No Matter.” Well, now we have a problem.
Because Carrey’s message is NOT the gospel; it is by definition another gospel.
Why isn’t Carrey’s message the gospel; he sounded smart, nice, loving, and he used Jesus as a model of suffering and forgiveness – isn’t that the good news? No. Basically, what Jim Carrey said was this: Here is a bridge. Here is how the bridge was built. You too can build a bridge. Build the bridge, come to the other side. How is this good news? The world is not short on advice, wisdom, and how-to guides. And just in case there was a shortage, I started this blog.
What is the Christian gospel?
This is where the Christian gospel separates itself from the world of guru’s, life coaches, and actors/artists. Jesus did not come to provide another guide on how to live life. He came to save. And that is exactly what Jesus accomplished. You see, Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, is not a model of salvation, it is the price of salvation that has been paid in full. There is nothing we can add; nothing we can do to improve it. Jesus paid the entire debt we owe, to realize this gift is to simply place your faith in Jesus that this sacrifice, HIS sacrifice, is sufficient. We place our faith in Jesus that He has saved us. Again, not because we deserve it, not because we have earned it, but instead, because God is patient, loving, merciful, and full of grace. The gospel is that Jesus did all the work, none of which we could do, and only by trusting in this can we have everlasting fellowship with God.
The gospel according to Jim Carrey is, “suffering with compassion and with forgiveness, and that’s what opens the gates of heaven for all of us.” Yet, the gospel according to Jesus Christ is, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6]
I believe Jesus. I pray and hope you will too.
Bonus Footage: Jim Carrey on Jesus
My apologies there is some fowl language in this video.