Hope, On Even The Darkest Of Days (Psalm 88)


The sun rises behind the dark cloud, you’ve been waiting all night just to watch the dawn; hoping it will somehow lighten your hopelessness.

You feel like you cannot cry anymore, no-one cares, no-one listens, no-one understands.

Worries, questions, depression, doubts, and anxiety weigh in on you.

And, after a night of pain, searching, and sobbing prayers, you feel as if even heaven has shut it’s doors to you; your feeble words not even passing past the walls.

My friend, can you relate to this, do you know this place?
Perhaps you find yourself here even as you read this. If this is you, keep reading, you are not alone.

First, take a few minutes and read Psalm 88

This Psalm has often been dubbed as being the ‘darkest passage of Scripture’, and you can immediately see why. The writer jumps straight into the reality of their situation:

O Lord, God of my salvation, 
I cry out day and night before you. 
Let my prayer come before you; 
incline your ear to my cry! 
For my soul is full of troubles, 
and my life draws near to Sheol”

There’s no doubt they are in a bad place, so bad in fact that they feel as if they are close to death itself:

“[I am] like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, 
like those whom you remember no more
for they are cut off from your hand”

Not only close to death, but as if God has cut them off from himself, as if they have been left completely on their own.
And rather than turn the corner, rather than the Psalmist being relieved from his pain and misery, it appears to only deepen, I think verses 6-7 really summarise the situation:

You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep. 
Your wrath lies heavy upon me, 
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah”

As you read to the end of the Psalm, you will see that his situation does not improve, in fact his complaints grow and it only seems to get worse and worse.
So the question has to be asked, where is the hope in this Psalm?!

Let me offer 3 glimmers of hope from the Psalm:

  1. Honesty
    This Psalm plainly reminds us that believers will, and do, face times of great pain, sadness, and trial.
    We live in a sin-broken world, a world that has been marred with evil. And that will be felt in the life of the Christian, just as much as in that of the non-believer.
    The only difference is that the Christian is held secure by the eternal promise keeping creator of the universe – that’s not to say we will always ‘feel’ this, but it is a reality nonetheless.
    I know of a believer that has suffered deep depression for ~10 years, they said that this Psalm and it’s honesty was a great help to them, in the midst of the darkness it helped them put words to what they were going through.
  2. Sovereignty
    On first reading it does sound as if he is blaming God for all that is happening to him, ‘You have caused..’,’You have put..’ etc. (See also Psalm 42)
    Rather than blame, this appears to be recognition of the sovereignty of God.
    He is King, He rules and, He reigns. And He is allowing these things to take place in the life of the man, now this might sound like a strange comfort, but we have to ask ourselves what’s the alternative?
    Well, a God that is not in control, that is not Sovereign, that can do nothing about a situation, not a God worthy of any worship
    Instead we see in this Psalm, as we do throughout all of Scripture our God reigns supreme. And all is done according to His perfect will and plan, which ultimately will lead to His name being glorified and for the eventual good of his beloved people (Romans 8).
  3. Prayer
    As we read this Psalm, we are reading a real prayer of a real person, who really suffered and felt what they then wrote down.
    Even though the Psalmist declares God had ‘hidden his face’ from him. He still carries on the rest of the Psalm, he still offers his prayer up to God.
    Because Jesus is our intercessor, because He alone carries our prayers to the Father, because He himself continually offers up prayers on our behalf, we can have the confidence to carry on praying – even in the midst of darkness.  (Hebrews 7:25)
    Knowing, not only, that our prayers are heard, but also that our Saviour knows exactly and intimately the pain and trial we are facing:“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
    Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16
    “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
    For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” – Hebrews 2:7-18

This is not a sermon, not a complete look at the Psalm, but just a few thoughts for any echoing similar thoughts as expressed in the Psalm.
Don’t suffer alone, read the Word,pray, pray, and keep praying.
I’d also encourage you to share your struggles with a brother/sister, ask them to pray with you and for you.

Infectious Christianity

It’s 111AD and Plinius Caecilius the Roman governor of Bithynia (modern-day Istanbul) has a problem on his hands. He’s been faced with a secret group of religious believers, a group he has not had to deal with before, a group that will not follow the religion of the people and the country. Looking for help he writes to the Roman Emperor Trajan:

“It is my custom, Lord emperor, to refer to you all questions whereof I am in doubt … In investigations of Christians I have never [before] taken part; hence I do not know what is the crime usually punished or investigated, or what allowances are made. ”

Whilst waiting for advice from the Emperor on how to proceed, he decides for himself on what to do for the time being:

“Meantime this is the course I have taken with those who are accused before me as Christians. I asked them at their own lips whether they were Christians, and if they confessed, I asked them a second and third time with threats of punishment. If they kept to it, I ordered them for execution”

Plinius stresses the danger of this new religion:

“The matter seemed to me worth deliberation especially on account of the number of those in danger; for many of all ages and every rank, and even of both sexes are brought into present or future danger”

But even though it’s so infectious, he is confident  it won’t last too long, that it can be stopped:

“The contagion of that superstition has penetrated not the cities only, but the villages and country: yet it seems possible to stop it and set it right.”

So, did Plinius manage to stop this evil sect from spreading even further, did he manage to “set it right”? Well, the fact that I am sitting here in Lewis writing this shows that they failed in that task.
The Romans had suppressed many other sects and religions (some who resisted violently), so why did they struggle so much with this peaceful, small group of people?

These early Christians (men and woman, boy and girls) suffered awful persecutions (which we can look at in the future). Our brothers and sisters today still face awful persecutions, so how do they endure it all? How has the Church survived and grown through all these years?

The reality is that although there have been many brave Christians throughout the centuries, people who were willing to live in poverty and die in pain for the glory of God; the spread of the Gospel and the preservation of the Church did not rely even on them.
Instead let’s see what Paul concludes when he ponders the care & love of God for his people, the Church:

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
-Romans 8:38-39

Nothing will stop the Gospel, not violence, governments, laws, false teachings or the many other religions in our world.
God knows his people, God saves his people, God keeps his people. This is as true now as it was 2000 years ago. 

[The text of the letter from Pliny to Trajan is taken from “Selections from Early Christian Writers” pp.27-31, H. M. Gwatkin]

Lacking Assurance – “I don’t feel like a real Christian”


“There’s no way my salvation is real, I feel nothing like a real Christian.”


“I used to feel so close to God, but recently, it just doesn’t feel the same anymore.”

Friend, as you read these can you relate? Maybe right now you can relate with full understanding with these phrases? If so, then you are lacking some assurance in your place before God. It is not a comfortable or a happy place to be.

See, these are not just some random examples, these are quotes, quotes taken from my own diary.
Since I was first saved, around ten years ago, one of my biggest struggles has been doubting the validity of my salvation.
Not doubting God, not doubting His power to save.
But simply doubting if I have been saved at all.

Every so often, I’ll get a small nagging doubt in the back of my mind. Sometimes it may only last a few minutes. Other times this small thought can grow and grow, and stay with me for days.
I know it’s not easy to share these kinds of thoughts with our brothers and sisters. Have you shared your thoughts with other Christians, or have you kept them locked away in your mind?
Scared, scared that no one else knows what is to doubt your salvation, to lack assurance?

The reality is you are not alone. Brothers and sisters all throughout history have been where you are now, and have shared with you and with me in their doubts.
The famous Puritan Thomas Brooks, writing in 1650:
“Assurance is the believer’s ark where he sits, Noah-like, quiet and still in the midst of all distractions and destructions, commotions and confusions…. [However] most Christians live between fears and hopes, and hang, as it were, between heaven and hell.
Sometimes they hope that their state is good, at other times they fear that their state is bad: now they hope that all is well, and that it shall go well with them for ever; [then] they fear that they shall perish by the hand of such a corruption, or by the prevalence of such or such a temptation …. They are like a ship in a storm, tossed here and there.”

Here he reminds us that assurance should be our “”Ark”, where we are to find security in the midst of the storms of life. But, for various reasons, instead we find ourselves like a “ship in a storm, tossed here and there”
We are commanded in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to make sure that our belief/ love and salvation is indeed genuine – but this should never result in a constant doubting of who we are in Christ.

So what causes our lack of assurance, and how can we fight against it?

I’ll only touch on a few possible reasons, there will  be many more, but let’s look at some of the most common reasons people have for doubting their salvation:

1- We misunderstand the nature of our salvation


Scripture is clear on the process of our salvation, Romans 8:28-30 clearly lays out for us five ‘steps’ in our salvation:

A- Foreknew: Before we were born, before the universe was created, God knew us. Not in a general sense, he knew us, all that we would ever say, do, and think. All that was known to God. He knew his children, before they ever saw the light of day. He knew those that he would save.
B- Predestined: He knew us, and he also chose us. He ‘set apart’ his people, those that he would save.
     [A & B occur in eternity – with no interaction by us]
C- Called: We hear the Gospel, we see ourselves as someone that needs to be transformed and changed, wee see our sin and acknowledge that we need a saviour. We listen to the Gospel, and we cry out to Christ to save us.
D- Justified: Through the sacrifice of Jesus, the punishment of our sin is placed on him. In that happening, we are made right with God (to put it simple terms)2 Corinthians 5:21
E- Glorified: This is the future hope of every Christian, that one day we will join with our saviour in eternity. And when we see him we will be made like him.

If we miss or misunderstand these steps, it usually ends up with us thinking our salvation as something that relies on us, on our actions.
If we get this wrong, then it is likely we will really struggle with our assurance – everything else we will look at has its base on this fact.

We were not saved based on our actions, we are saved because of the love and grace of holy and perfect God.
So because we were not saved by our own power, we also do not continue in our faith by our own power.

Along the same lines as this is the idea some people have that they can somehow ‘lose’ their salvation when in reality we cannot lose our salvation as it’s not ours to lose. It was purchased for us by the blood of Christ, it is established on him and not on ourselves.

If we don’t understand that our salvation is based solely on Christ, and on his unfinished work then we will be so easily swayed by any and everything that comes our way.

2- Feelings vs. Facts


You might now be thinking “well I know all of that, but I still find myself doubting my salvation”
One of the most common reasons for finding ourselves doubting salvation is that we place our faith in our feelings rather on the facts.
Our worship and understanding of God  and His works encompasses all that we are. We don’t just worship God through knowing all the correct points of theology and history. Our worship of God involves our emotions and our feelings – we feel humbled, we feel love etc.
The problem arises when we give an unequal place to our feelings over the facts.
The thought “I don’t feel like a Christian / don’t feel saved” is based not on Scriptural facts but instead it’s based on our emotions.

Scriptural fact is fact regardless of the situation/ place/ person. But our emotions and feelings can and do change so often, the are completely subjective. They can, and so often are, influenced by sin.

If you find yourself in the middle of a trying situation (perhaps one completely out of your control), you very well might not feel like a  Christian, but does that mean you are not?

Or what about our brothers and sisters who suffer with an illness like depression, do you think they always ‘feel’ like a Christian? Does that mean they are no longer saved?

Our feelings and emotions can change in a second, but our salvation does not rely on them. Like we saw in the first part, our salvation relies alone on the work of Jesus. Until we accept this truth, we will still find ourselves being tossed and thrown around with worries about our salvation.

In terms of practical help, I have found incredibly useful to keep a simple diary. Recording how God is dealing with me day by day. Be honest and be disciplined with it, and when you start again to doubt your salvation look through the diary, and you will see God’s faithfulness in your life. Regardless of how you have been feeling.


3- Sin

One of the other reasons that Christians lack assurance is because of certain sins in their life that they can’t seem to shake.
Sin in our life is never to be taken lightly, it has to be battled against every day and in its every form. But to say that we sin therefore we are not saved, well that makes no sense. The sad fact is that we will sin until we reach eternity.
The difference is that the Christian does not just simply feel remorse over their sin, they are repentant.
In other words, we don’t just feel sorry for ourselves, the Christian goes to God and says: “I can’t do this, I have no power over my sin. Help me!”

If we hate our sin, and are on our knees before God in repentance, if we understand that our sins are blatant disobedience to our  Saviour. Then these things are a mark of faith for us, a strong piece of evidence that our faith is genuine. If it  wasn’t, we’d have no desire to turn to God for forgiveness.
In terms of some practical advice, it’s not easy being honest with our brothers and sisters, especially when talking about our sins.
But in Scripture we are instructed to share our burdens with each other. I’d advise that you and perhaps two other friends become accountable to each other. Agree to meet one a week (or whatever suits) and share each others burdens. Discuss your walk that week, hold each other accountable on your sins, encourage one another. Incorporate even a short Bible study.

4- A time of testing

At times, God withdraws from us our sense of his presence and our assurance of salvation. He does this as our loving father, to test us and to help us to grow in reliance and trust in Him.
It’s an extreme case, but it still serves as example, when we look to the life of Job. God permitted him to endure a great deal of things, but in the midst of his darkness he grew in his love and understanding of the God he served.
Talk with other Christians, share with them what you are experiencing – ask them to pray with you and for you. Trust me it will encourage them just as much as it will encourage you.


5- Unclear Conversion

Some can pinpoint an exact time, date, and location for the moment of their conversion. Others, myself included, cannot offer a specific moment, rather it’s a slow progression.

The problem is that when it is a series of stages, if we do doubt our salvation, it can be difficult to look back and see a specific moment of seeing ourselves as saved.
This issue can be worked through relatively easily, just because you cannot look back to certain singular moment, that doesn’t mean that you cannot look back to see God working in your life. Again I think the diary idea works well, record the progress of your walk. You can then look back and see how God has been working in your life.

If you are struggling with assurance, you are not alone, and this state will not last forever. Over and above all other things, when you feel as if you are confused or concerned where you stand before God. Turn to the Word, pray, meet with the people of God.
Remember: facts over feelings, and your salvation & eternal standing with God is based on the finished and perfect work of Jesus, not on you.

Here are some other helpful resources for when you find yourself lacking assurance:


Rev Kenneth Macrae offers 9 marks (evidence) of God’s work in our life :
[Diary of Kenneth Macrae pp.59-60]
1- A love for God’s Word, house, and day
2- A desire for holiness
3- A longing to be able to pray
4- A mourning over a sinful heart
5- A desire to love Christ
6- A desire for fellowship with Him
7- A fear lest, these evidences being so faint in us, we lack them altogether
8- A belief that if Christ be not for us in eternity then we are lost
9- A belief, founded upon the free invitation extended in the Gospel and in virtue of His work on Calvary, that He will be for us and will be our Surety

Westminster Confession of Faith [in modern English] Chapter 18.4:
“True believers may have the assurance of their salvation shaken, diminished, or temporarily lost in various ways: as by negligence in preserving it, by falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit, by some sudden or violent temptation, or by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance and allowing even those who reverence him to walk in darkness and have no light. Yet, true believers are never completely deprived of that seed of God and life of faith, that love for Christ and fellow believers, that sincerity of heart and conscience concerning duty, out of which – by the operation of the Spirit – this assurance may in due time be revived; and by which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.

Donald Guthrie provides three simple tests for us to apply to our lives [I have paraphrased]:
1- Do I have a present trust in Christ for my salvation? Despite my current situation, do I still trust that in Christ alone I find salvation?
2- Is there evidence of ongoing regenerating work in my life?
3- Is there evidence of a long term ‘pattern of Growth’’

Resource From Desiring God

Hymns, Hats, and Tattoos

Hymns,Hats, &Tattoos.png

This will be a short one. Really it’s just a few spare thoughts from the post “Christians, Cocktails & Coll Beach“. In that post we talked about young  Christians drinking, how a Christian has the freedom to have a drink (providing it’s legal and they don’t get drunk).
The reality is that the Bible is the living word of God, not a bland rule book. In some situations, we as Christians are free to use Scripture along with our own god-given common sense to decide which way to go, and what to choose.
[See WCOF Ch.1 – VI]

As Christians, we are called to be united. But to be united does not always mean to be uniform.
We are told in a wonderful and vivid way 1 Corinthians 12 that we are one body with one ultimate purpose and one ultimate goal. But just as all our different body parts are different, yet still work together; so it is for the Church.

This won’t be a deep scriptural examination of each point.
For each topic, we can look briefly at both sides (including my own view) then see how they are different but not opposed.
They will be short and generally simplistic, they are just to get you thinking.

This is not a definitive list of all the areas where Christians have liberty, but they are some of the areas which we may face in our own normal Christian living.

When we come to look at Christian liberty and Christian living, it’s always good to have these words from Paul in our thoughts:
““All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.”  (1 Corinthians 10:23)


Hymns vs. Psalms
An issue which has caused so much contention in our Church.
Our sung worship of God is important, but it should never be an issue on which the family should bear ill-will or split over.
As a slightly younger Christian, this was a real strong point of mine.  To my shame, it was “Psalms only or you are deceived” level of thinking.
I still prefer the Psalms to any hymn, but I was led to realise it’s a matter of conviction and personal reasoning and certainly not a Gospel issue.
You can sing a Psalm, with all the correct harmonies, but with a stone cold heart. Just as you can sing even a modern worship song with a heart full of genuine praise.

Bible Translation
Out of all the translation that people love dearly, the KJV (or AV) has got to be #1.
And it’s understandable, it is what many of us grew up hearing and using for our memory verses!
If you use the KJV, if it’s your ‘ go to translation, then that is fine – it is well loved and by all accounts a faithful translation. But whilst it may be a good translation, it is not the only one. Almost all the commonly used translations around today are just as faithful as the KJV.
God’s Word is perfect and unchanging, it’s not only to be found in one certain translation. It is found in all faithfully translated Bibles. Personally, I use the ESV, I find it easy to read and believe it’s one of the best modern translations currently available. [One day we can look at this topic in proper detail]

Let’s bite the bullet and start off with hats (head coverings to be specific).
Should a woman wear a hat in Church or not?
Much like the Psalms vs. hymns issue, this can attract a serious amount of fire from both sides. Those who believe head coverings should be worn point to one passage in Scripture (1 Corinthians 11:6).
Those who say it’s not necessary,  dispute that the passage applies to women today (instead it applied to the certain culture of the day).
If you wear a head covering, that is fine, but make sure you understand why you do it, don’t just do it as part of the ‘culture’.

So what about the rest of our clothes, how should we dress in Church? The reality is that dressing in our  “Sunday Best” does not make sense scripturally. Yes, we are gathering to worship God, so we should dress appropriately. But ‘appropriately’ does not equal ‘formally’.
The reality is that we are meeting together as a family, so the idea of some sort of special Sunday clothes do not mix with that idea.
Our dress and head coverings are not Gospel issues, as long as we are dressed appropriately and don’t cause each other to stumble then it really shouldn’t be a majour issue.

Church Attendance
This is one area in which we have very little liberty.
This does not include special circumstances (family situations /illness etc.)
If we are able, we should all take every opportunity we can to gather with the Lords people, with our eternal family. Sundays, Wednesdays, and any other chances that may arise.
The reality is, and I speak from experience, if you purposefully neglect gathering with the Church, then your walk will suffer. It is simple as that.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching ” (Hebrews 10: 24-25)


We already looked at this in detail (click here), essentially if you are old enough to legally drink and you don’t get drunk there is no Scripture against you enjoying a drink.
All whilst bearing in mind where you are drinking and who you are drinking around – always remembering that we are lights in the darkness.
I would say, and this is purely my own thoughts (and my own personal situation), if there is a history of alcoholism in your family I would strongly advise you to just avoid it altogether.

Those against getting a tattoo will point to Leviticus 19:28 as a reason to not get them.
If read in context you will soon see this instruction belonged to the “civil law”, and therefore applied to the nation of Israel [We will visit this in greater detail in a future post].
Essentially this instruction, along with the dietary rules and rules on clothing & hygiene that we find in passages in Leviticus etc. were applicable to the Nation Of Israel – and were highly beneficial to them. But we are no longer bound by those two sets of laws.

So we can get a tattoo, but does that mean that we should?
We still have to ask ourselves why we are getting it?
For our glory, or for Gods?
We also have to ask the obvious question, are we sure we want this on our skin for years to come?
We also have to bear in mind that if we are to get one, it would be wise, for the sake of our witnessing and unity that we perhaps get it somewhere that is not easily seen.
I’ll have to admit I do have a horse in this race. Although we may be able to get tattooed, it’s something we should do with our witness and brotherly unity very much in mind.
[See HERE and HERE for more information on the threefold separation of the Law]

Relationships [boy/girl friend]
In terms of relationships, the Bible is clear that here again is one issue with not much liberty or room for a difference of opinion. If you are a Christian then your other half needs to be a Christian – it’s that simple.
Even if Scripture wasn’t clear on the issue, common sense alone should lead us to realise that it does not make sense any other way.
As Christians our first love must always be Christ, this won’t make sense to one that is not yet saved. We also try to seek God’s glory in all things,  especially in our relationships. That simply won’t be possible with someone that does not care about the Glory of God.

So, there we go.
Just a very brief snapshot of some areas that may to Christians. Like we said already, this is just to get you thinking of these topics. By no means is it a complete Scriptural analysis.
Different opinions on certain secondary issues are not a bad thing. In practice, if love and grace are shown, they serve to strengthen the Church.

Let me know in the comments of any other areas where the Christian will have to use their liberty to make a choice?

Further Reading:
4 Principles for the Exercise of Christian Liberty

Christian Liberty

Bethel: A man-centered gospel

bethel img

[Note: This is not an attack on the beliefs of my Charismatic Brothers and Sisters, although we differ – our differences are secondary issues. The issues addressed here are something completely different to normal Charismatic church practice. A different Gospel is being shared here. I do apologise for not making this clear when I first posted this.]

This is going to be a long one folks, but please take the time to read it carefully. Go make yourself a cup of tea &  grab some biscuits and let’s tackle this together.

Quotes are taken mainly from Bill Johnson (B)[“When Heaven Invades Earth”] and Kris  Vallotton (V)[“School of the Prophets”], as well as material from various Bethel sermons and this article in Charisma Magazine.
Bill and Kris are essentially the main leaders in Bethel. It’s a bit of a long history, but essentially Bill & Kris and their spouses are heavily involved in the leading and teaching of Bethel.

I have tried to approach this academically as possible, displaying the evidence and letting you, the readers, decide for yourselves how Biblical the teachings of Bethel really are.
As a younger believer, I was taken in by this teaching, I believed most of it – I tried to offer prophecy, I believed I could speak in tounges etc.
To the praise of God, he took me out of that, and I left it all far behind me.
I recently took the time to read and re-read several of their books, and listening to countless sermons and lectures, it has been a real struggle. To be honest, my soul is hurting, hurting as I have seen the wonderful Gospel completely tarnished and twisted for nothing else than monetary gain and pride. A gospel of Self, Want, and Me; being so widely propagated in the place of the real truth that it is all about God, and not about us.

You might well say that this is an exaggeration, that they do proclaim some truth. I won’t disagree with you, much like the proverbial broken clock, they do hit on some Biblical truths every now and then.
Let’s not forget that the devil often comes as an ‘angel of light’, half-truths packaged as the pure truth have lead many to eternal destruction.
‘A spoonful of truth helps the false-teaching go down…’ – and oh, how much I wish this was only Mary Poppins level makebelieve.

Me, Me, Me

As you delve into the sermons and literature from Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton, the truth is that the standout feature is a theology that is simply not God-centered, but it is purely focused and based on man:

In redeeming man, Jesus retrieved what man had given away … We were then to be completely restored to His plan of ruling as a people made in his image. And as such we would learn how to enforce the victory obtained at Calvary…

It carries on:

We were born to rule-rule over creation, over darkness-to plunder hell and establish the rule of Jesus wherever we go 

The first sentence seems like it could be heading in a good direction, if it had defined what man had given way was his standing before a Holy God, then we could move on quite happily.
But no, instead we are told that what we gave away was our place as a “ruling people” – in fact, that we were made to rule over creation (not even going to go into the Mormonism alarm bells that statement rings). Not only creation, but also darkness, and to “plunder hell”, whatever that actually means? [Rom3:23]
Yes, we were made to have “dominion over the earth”, but that is where our territory and ruling ends. At best we are here as caretakers of God’s creation, to look after it, not to rule over it. [Gen1:28]

Jesus did not redeem us so that we could regain our rule on the earth, this is not just missing the target, this is not even firing the arrow.
We’ll touch on this more in a second, but Jesus came (as far as our redemption is concerned) to save “a people for  himself”, so that he would save his people, bear the punishment meant for them, wash them clean,  forgive their sin, and one day take them home to himself. Nothing to do with us ruling over anything, it is all to do with His incredible work.
[1Pet2:9/ 1Pet2:24/ Jhn14:3]

This next quote is  a question from the devotional book that is for use with “When Heaven meets Earth” (I have it on Kindle, so cannot give a page number, it’s found in ‘Day 3’) :

Who do you relate to the most, Gideon or Peter? What ability do you find in Jesus that makes up for you inability?

I’ll be honest, this question really did hurt. It further confirms and helps to summarise the attitude that is found towards Jesus in much of this teaching. Ultimately he is some great vending machine that will provide us with what we are lacking. Like a wee kid asking Santa for presents we come to Jesus to fulfil for us what is lacking in our life.
The Gospel truth is that I am totally and completely unable to do anything, ANYTHING. I don’t come to Jesus hoping he’ll help me with the gap in my otherwise sorted life. I come to Him as He is the only one who provides us with all our ability, all our meaning, and all our purpose.
[Col2:10/ 2Cor12:9/ Jhn14:27]

We can now tackle one of the saddest and untrue statements I’ve ever read:

Likewise, salvation was not the ultimate goal of Christ’s coming…Without accomplishing redemption, there was no hope for the ultimate goal-was was to fill each born again person with the Holy Spirit. [B,pp.69 ]

I had to take a break after reading this section, it is nothing short of a simple lie. This is not some minor difference in point of view. No, this is simply going against very clear Scripture, we can go through a whole list of passages, for example:

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” – 1 Timothy 1:15


“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:10

We could look at pages more of biblical quotes all saying similarly. When your teaching is directly in opposition to the clear words of Christ, something has gone badly wrong.
The beautiful message that Jesus came to save us from our sin, that any who come to him will be saved, twisted into meaningless words.
This shocking lie is simply just a continuation of our point , that ultimately it’s all about us. All done so that we may benefit in the here and now. When in  reality, it’s all about God and his glory.


The following two quotes are from Johnson (I added the underline), the first from the Charisma magazine article that he wrote (2014), and  the second from his book (2003):

While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divine powers and became a man (see Phil. 2:7). It’s vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God. 

If He did them as God, I would still be impressed. But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us.


He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God…not as God. If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us.

Whilst Johnson claims that he believes that Jesus is eternally God, he then goes on to contradict himself in the same sentence by stating  that Jesus emptied himself of all his divine powers, that he achieved all he did on earth as a man, and not as God.
He uses Phil2:7, to back up this incredible claim. What we are about to see is nothing short of a master class in twisting Scripture.
Let’s see this verse from Philippians placed in the context of the verses that surround it:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, by taking the form of aservant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,even death on a cross.

These verses are from a wonderful section in Philippians chapter 2 (v5-11), where Paul is writing to the Church and is really bringing them back to the basics of their faith.
He explains to them that in order for Jesus to come to earth he had to become like us, he had to be born as a man. Now Johnson here claims that when Jesus did this he completely “emptied himself of his divine powers”. In the context of these verses, is this really what Paul was trying to say?
No, of course not, it’s clear from the second half of v7, that Jesus emptying himself is nothing to do with somehow losing his “divine powers”, instead it is all to do with him humbling himself. The NIV perhaps offers a clearer translation of the verse:
“he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
In v.8 we this being confirmed to us, he was found in human form, he felt our emotions, he felt pain, he felt and experienced the world as we do (all without sinning). But he was ‘fully human and fully God’, he did not, for once second, ever ‘loose’ any of his power. He never ceased being God. To say otherwise is go against clear Scripture [click here for a further explanation] For further study, look into “Kenosis Theology”.

So why would Johnson even begin to sate anything otherwise? Well as he said:
“If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us.”
Because Bethel teaches that we can all still perform miracles today, to agree that Jesus did all that he was able to do because of his divine power; well, that sort of ruins the self-worship party a bit.

So instead the alternative narrative has to be created, one where Jesus acted as just a man, implying that if we try really had we can one day become like him in all our works.
Again here we see the core of all Bethel teachings, that we are so amazing that we can even perform miracles like Jesus did.
Even the newest Christian understands that we do not have the power that Jesus has, to even entertain that thought is nothing sort of complete senselessness.
He is, was and always will be God, never losing or letting go of His divine attributes for one second. [Hebrews 13:8] If He did He would no longer be able to be called God, and His work, and ultimately our salvation, would all be totally meaningless.

My friend, has your soul sunk as you are reading this, does this not just hurt so much? The perfect work of our perfect Saviour being lost in the confusion of man-made beliefs, that do nothing but hide the true Gospel from eyes and ears  that desperately needs to see and hear it.


Bethel are perhaps best known for the supernatural goings-on that they claim happen on a near daily basis. I have struggled on how best to do this section, I think the best way is to simply share with you the evidence and you can judge for yourself the validity of their claims. I will link a wide variety of videos, images and quotes – just to give you a taste of what goes on.

It does not take any level of Biblical maturity to see these miracles, signs, and prophecies for what they really are. Not one of these videos, quotes, images have any Biblical backing and are purely man-made creations.

I leave these here for you to watch and come to your own conclusions, compare what is being shown and said to the simple Biblical teachings.

A Bethel Fire Tunnel
Fun story: As a younger Christian I was quite keen on the teachings of Bethel, and sometimes attended a Church that promoted their teaching and beliefs. I went once to C.L.A.N., and there I experienced a Fire tunnel. In fact, I was prophesied over: “Your smile will bring joy to the nations” – Yup, never did follow my career dream as a travelling nomad dentist…

“Why are they jumping around like that?”, to be honest I have no idea. Whatever else it may be, it is definitely not the Holy Spirit.
This video explains one possibility. I am not saying I agree with it 100%, but it is certainly interesting.

Leg growing ‘miracle’ at Bethel

What’s happening here? Think of it like playing “I’ve got your nose” with a kid, expect it’s a leg, and it’s making a total mockery of God.

‘God’s glory’ appearing in Bethel (as glitter?)

Here is Bill Johnson further explaining  this ‘miracle’
Yeah, the creator of the universe and all that it contains, the one who numbers the stars, and who knows the very hairs on our head, decided to show up in Bethel, as some glitter coming through air-vents. God’s glory is not something that gets swept up and binned at the end of the night. They also experience feathers from the “wings of God” (no, not joking) and money also falling from the ceiling.

 Grave Soaking


Seriosuly, I’ve got nothing to say, quite simply “Eh?”

I heard a strange noise, and I opened my eyes just in time to see Jesus walk through the wall and stand in front of me! I sat up in the tub with a sense of awe surging through my being like electricity. I looked up into His face, and I could see the world in His eyes. Then, to my surprise, He began to speak to me.
“I have called you to be a prophet to the nations. You will speak before kings and queens. You will influence prime ministers and presidents. I will open doors for you to talk to mayors, governors, ambassadors and government officials all around the world. You will be a father to many nations, and you will guide many nations into prosperity, freedom and peace. I will put My words in your mouth, and the nations will know that there is a God in heaven who loves them, leads them and guides the affairs of men!”
The vision lasted for about half an hour as Jesus told me many other things that would happen in my life. I sat there in the tub, speechless, my mind swirling with thoughts, while my heart trembled with some sort of awesome fear, excitement and wonder all mixed up into one tumultuous emotion.
Finally, the Lord turned His back toward me to leave the room. Then He suddenly stopped, turned back around and pointed right at me. He said in a serious tone, “History will tell us if you believe Me!” A moment later He was gone.
– Kris Vallotton, School of the Prophets, pp.23.

Can’t find Scripture to back-up your teaching? No worries, according to Kris he hears dorect from Jesus anyway.

Someone should really tell John the Baptist, “He must become greater; I must become less.” – John 3:30
…me, me, me, me, me, me, me… ad infinitum

This is from Beni Johnson, Bill’s wife. She deserves a whole other series of posts, dedicated to her varied completely new age/mystical/spiritual teachings.

We could continue looking at these posts for a hundred more pages, they are all taken from their own official Facebook pages. I hope this gives you an idea of the pure nonsense that is created and shared as wonders and miracles from God.
At best they are nothing more than pagan/new age quotes and cheap magic tricks, at the expense (sometimes literally), of needy souls.


Firstly, if you’ve managed to stay this far, well done. I almost gave up halfway when writing it, so gold star for you!

How can we summarise what we have just seen? The sad reality is that I have barely scratched the surface, there are so many other areas of teaching that I have not even touched.
What we have looked at is  quite simply not the Gospel, what Bethel offers is, at best, a completely distorted version of the Gospel. It does not portray Jesus as He portrays himself, instead, they have made Him into nothing more than a means to an end. That end being our own benefit and glory.
The true Gospel is that Jesus came to save us from the destruction that we had created for ourselves, to bear the punishment for our sin, to wash us clean, to make us His people. He did not to come to make us a better version of ourselves.
I short, if you are involved with the teachings of Bethel, please stop. It is not teaching  the Gospel, it’s not even teaching anything close to the Gospel. It is teaching a man-centered theology that appeals to the ego, and that does not glorify God.
Like all other false teachings, because they are manmade, they are ultimately man-centered.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!10For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. – Romans 5:8-11

If you have been involved with this teaching and want to share your story, get in touch via “beholdourshield@outlook.com”, completely anonymous.

Five misused Bible verses: Number One, Matthew 18:20

Matthew 18:20

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

How many of us have heard this verse used in public prayer? How many of us are guilty of using this verse in our own public prayer?
I certainly am, until recently I would happily repeat this wonderful verse in our small prayer meeting, or during times of fellowship.

Now I know you’re wondering why I’ve said I’m guilty of using this verse, surely there’s nothing wrong with quoting Scripture during prayer?
And you’re perfectly right, it’s great to use Scripture in our prayer, but only if the Scripture we use makes any sense what so ever in what we are praying about!

This verse is almost always used to encourage us that no matter how small the gathering may be that God is still there with us. It’s used as a rallying call to encourage us , even if the numbers are low, It’s used in every type of fellowship and gathering , when in reality it only makes real sense in one specific situation. Whilst the message is right, using this verse to back-up this message certainly isn’t.

Let’s look at the verse in it’s context, it appears near the end of Mathew 18, a section of Scripture that is dealing with Church discipline. This chapter is teaching us what to do if a brother or sister is sinning against us. Let’s look at verses 15 – 20: [Emphasis is mine]
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Here we see Jesus teaching his disciples that in them gathering together as a Church to discuss important matters (here it is the case of Church discipline), that he will be with his Church, as they seek to be led and guided by him. This verse is about the Church meeting together as a body, knowing that as they meet seeking his guidance, he promises to be with them.

Let’s think about it another way, if this verse is really saying “don’t worry if there’s only a few of you, as long as  there’s more than two, God will be there”, then we have to ask what about an individual Christian, when they pray or praise God, does he not hear them?
It also implies that God needs some type of quota to be reached before he bothers being present. We know this is not biblical, and just plain silly, we have the assurance from God that wherever his people are gathered he will be there, simply because the Spirit lives inside each and every Christian:
“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.  But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”Romans 8:9

So let’s be careful not to twist the words of God, by doing so in this situation we run the danger of saying that God is not continually present with his people, going against one of the most beautiful  promises that we have as Christians.

Five misused Bible verses

“We are nothing more than the result of evolution, born out of primordial ooze which started on a planet in a universe that was nothing more than a collection of elements that came from a random expansion some 14 billion years ago.”
This is a quote from my last post, as it is quoted here this would probably result in more than a  few questions from my brothers and sisters, and possibly from my minister?
On closer inspection of the original post you will see that this was in the context of those with no belief in a creator God, and not my own personal views.
In all forms of media and communication , context is everything. It forms the simple difference between:
“…the fire burnt for the rest of the night and was seen from the next village…”
“After the fireworks display and the barbeque were done, the fire burnt for the rest of the night and was seen from the next village, as the celebrations continued.”

Those who attack the word of God often like to quote the Bible out of context, either intentionally or through ignorance of the wider context.
But the fact is that Christians are also guilty of cutting down the word of God into tweet-sized pieces, and in doing so, ripping the verses out of it’s original context in order to fit in with the point we are trying to make.
I am not saying that we must always quote the whole paragraph or chapter, some verses are perfectly clear  when they are quoted as a single verse.
The problem arises when we cut and snip the text into verses which sound great, and which might well carry some truth about God, but which do not reflect the full meaning  or the context of the passage that we snatched them from.

Starting with Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered…”, we can go on to look at five commonly misused Bible verses.