April 27, 2016
I’ve been writing a series on some of the controversial subjects that come up over and over with people who are opposed to Bethel or that misunderstand our position on certain issues. Check out my previous articles Here, Here and Here. This blog will discuss doctors, medicine and restoring broken people.
Doctors and Medicine
There is a rumor that continues to resurface that Bethel Church doesn’t believe in doctors or medicine. Jesus said, “…It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.” I don’t know of a single person on our staff that wouldn’t go to a doctor if they didn’t get well after prayer. We have a medical doctor named Dr. Andre VanMol who has been on Bethel’s church board for many years, along with a physician’s assistant named Julie Winters, who also serves on our board.
I think the rumor may have started because of the way we warn people about what they might experience from their doctors after they have received a miracle in their bodies. Many doctors simply won’t believe in miracles. Therefore, when someone gets instantly healed of a medically verifiable disease and then goes back to their doctor for verification, sometimes the physician refuses to acknowledge their healing, even though all the tests come back negative and their symptoms are completely gone. (Frankly, I think some doctors are simply afraid of being sued for a misdiagnosis, or thought of as being crazy by their peers).
Because faith plays a huge factor in miracles (Jesus often said, “…your faith has made you well,”), it is imperative that the people who are recipients of divine healing don’t start doubting that they are well and then end up sick again. Therefore, we tell people that they should consult their physician to verify their healing, but they should be aware that this dynamic is fairly common among the medical community.
Nothing troubles me more than what is often reported about our view of the grace of God and what is perceived as a lack of conviction for holy living or great character. Actually, we have such a passion to see people live holy lives that I wrote a book entitled Moral Revolution. We also started a ministry by the same name to help seed this morality into the very fabric of the nations. (Check out MoralRevolution.com.)
Bill and Beni Johnson have been our spiritual leaders for more than 35 years. They are some of the most honest, integrous, kind and holy people I have ever met in my life. Their INTENSE passion for the presence and purity of God caused Kathy and me to give up four businesses (that we spent 20 years building) to follow them to Redding.
Jesus Loves Sinners
We believe, however, that the core message of the gospel is that Jesus loves sinners. Not only does Jesus have intense passion for them, He has the power to transform anyone no matter how deeply they have fallen or how often they have failed. This has been the central theme of our ministry and message for more than three decades.
Jesus demonstrated this best when He chose Judas to be the treasurer of His ministry although He knew he was a thief. Why would He do that, you ask? Because Jesus believed in people BEFORE they deserved it, which caused eleven men to become world changers, and one man to hang himself. (Of course, even one of His world changers fell away for a season and denied knowing Him. But Jesus took Him back and made him one of the pillars of the church and a foundation stone of the heavenly temple).
I am a living testimony of God’s amazing grace being extended through the Johnsons. Although I wasn’t living in sin when I met them, I was a very broken young man. Bill chose to believe in me when I didn’t deserve it. He spoke strength into my weakness, extended kindness to me although I was often harsh, and empowered me to lead with him, while many very public flaws remained in me. In short, his faith in me transformed my life.
Our families grew up together in a little country church nestled in the northern California mountains, about an hour from society. This wilderness experience became a laboratory where these core values took root, and were lived out in our daily lives. Over the years, this culture of mercy and grace attracted many broken and virtue-less people. Like David’s mighty men, many of them were transformed and became great believers.
Others that we had trusted crashed and burned badly, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Yet we chose not to let the people who failed dictate our core convictions. But each time someone fell, we would try and learn how to do a better job of restoring, empowering and leading people. As the years passed, our leadership skills improved quite dramatically, yet some still chose to destroy their lives and the lives of the people around them with sin.
Culture of Mercy
We naturally brought this culture of mercy and grace with us to Bethel Church. The only difference is that God has given us a much larger platform, and consequently our core convictions are being displayed to the world. This empowering culture has commissioned thousands of believers to bring the Kingdom of God to the four corners of the planet. A relatively few people, however, have taken advantage of our faith in them and abused our freedom. They’ve suffered shipwreck and hurt many people.
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Have you experienced this culture of mercy? Tell me about it in the comments below.
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