Revivalist and senior pastor of Bethel Church Bill Johnson puts signs and wonders in perspective for both cynics and over-enthusiasts.
By Yong Yung Shin
Signs and wonders—in our contemporary society today, these are, at best, seen as divine displays of miracles for the “entertainment” of the saints, and at worst, works of the devil. But what many miss is that signs and wonders are not ends in themselves, but rather indications that point to the reality of God’s raw power.
In his message to students from the School Of Theology at CHC’s Jurong West premises on March 20, senior pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, Bill Johnson, put the subject of miracles in the perspective of God’s will of salvation for all mankind, that “none should perish but have everlasting life.”
Miracles are meant to tutor us to renew our minds in order that we may see things from God’s perspective. In Mark 8, Jesus asked the disciples why they still reasoned among themselves about not having any bread on the boat when they had witnessed twice the multiplication of the loaves and fish.
“A move of God is sustained by the renewing of the mind and not by the demonstration of miracles itself,”—which explains why many revivals tend to last between two to four years only. “The renewed mind that is able to see the unseen is able to display or prove the will of God on earth as it is in heaven,” said Johnson, hence Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
“The mind is renewed when the impossible looks logical,” he added, using Jesus and the miracles He worked as an example of the life that could be for the person who has no sin and is empowered by the Spirit—in other words, every believer who has received the salvation of Christ and who is baptized in the Holy Spirit.
City News caught Bill Johnson for a quick chat after the session.
You were one of the speakers at the recently concluded School of Healing and Impartation 2012 – Kingdom Invasion conference from March 14 to 17 at the Singapore Expo. Tell us more about it.
It was wonderful. It was my first time ministering in Singapore. I love doing anything with Randy Clark, he’s a dear friend who’s been used so powerfully by God to ignite the fires of revival all over the world. There was such an impartation for miracles, not only did we see so many healings at the conference but people left with the desire to pray for the sick; when people take that anointing outside the conference and start praying for people in their cities and their churches—that’s what I’m excited about.
The thrust of your leadership at Bethel Church has always been revival, and for a good number of years the church has seen many miracle healings and wondrous moves of the Holy Spirit. Tell us what went through your mind when the glory cloud first appeared in the church beginning October 2011.
We didn’t know what to do. I’ve been expecting it for many years but I didn’t know what would happen—there was both joy; the children just ran to it, with their hands up and their mouths open like they could taste it. It was awe-inspiring; you can’t figure it out, it’s not confusing, that would be a wrong word but it’s a mystery and you just sit there staring at it. You lose control of the meeting at that point, and everything just stops. Spontaneously, the whole church began to sing together but not from the pulpit but the congregation—that was amazing.
But the Bible does say in 1 Corinthians 14:40 that everything should be done in order. How does a person in a church leadership position reconcile this verse with the desire for revival and the possibility that when God manifests His glory, there will be no “control” as you mention?
We need to cultivate a value for God’s presence. You do need wisdom on what to do and how to communicate best; when we have a revival meeting it doesn’t mean it’s out of control—we’re just doing what He wants us to do. Sometimes it looks to people like we let anything happen, but we don’t. We are very empowering in how we do things but if we had people run up and dance across the stage halfway through, we bring them down immediately. There is a director to the choir, so to speak; there is somebody working hard to listen to what God is doing and then direct the flow of things.
We’ve been experiencing this for 16 years but we’re still learning the same lessons on how to give Him first place and how to make the Holy Spirit the chief guest of the house. In Luke 5:17, it says that the power of the Lord was present to heal, so that means He was there with a specific purpose in mind. My job is to find out what He wants to do when He comes. It may or may not be what I had planned—I never assume I know what He wants.
In your teachings about creating a kingdom culture here on earth, why the emphasis on honor instead of just love? After all, the Bible states that if we have love for one another, the world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples.
Honor is an expression of love, but what happens is that love doesn’t always translate into giving honor to somebody. By emphasizing honor, we’re able to develop a “skill” in conveying our love for another person that wasn’t developed previously. But it only works if you have a culture that confronts people. For example, if you said something that hurt my feelings, then I should probably talk to you about it; I don’t pretend everything’s ok when it’s not.
One of my staff was teaching something and made a huge mistake. He showed a movie clip to illustrate a point but he missed something in the clip and people got offended by it. When I heard about it, I just asked him to speak again instead of punishing him by not letting him speak for six months. He’s a great man, and I don’t need to make him feel worse than he already feels. The point is, in honor, you celebrate who a person is without stumbling over who they’re not.
Lastly, as an apostolic leader, how do you form partnerships with leaders from other churches?
Friendship. For me, friendship is everything. I have wonderful friends who I minister with throughout the year. What’s effective for me is when I find that we have the same heart, and as we constantly find each other at the same kinds of events, I become interested in the anointing that you carry and in this friendship we start seeing God move powerfully and that’s what I look for. I don’t want to create a new denomination or a big organization, I don’t want everything to rotate around our organization; I want the health of the whole Body to be good.