Do me a favor, will ya?
When I die, if you’re nearby, and, if you even remotely THINK you have the ability to raise me from the dead … DON’T. Please. I’m with Paul when he wrote to the Philippians, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Philippians 1:23) As he said, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
So … please … consider this my publicly-stated “DNR” – “Do Not Resurrect.” When I go, I’ll be most content to await that Word-promised final resurrection in which the culmination of the ordo salutis – glorification – is, by God’s grace, mine. (The ordo salutis, or “order of salvation,” is summarized in Romans 8:29-30). Were it not rightly for the glory of Christ and his love for the Lord, you just have to know that poor Lazarus wasn’t all that thrilled with coming back. I mean, really … who’d wanna come back here after having been to heaven?
The author of Hebrews, written some 30 years or so after Lazarus’ resurrection by Christ, gave us a final, important, inspired Word from the Lord about death. Barring the imminent return of our Lord and being taken up in the clouds with Him, “it is appointed unto man once to die.” (Hebrews 9:27) And, as Steven Lawson has pithily summarized, “If you have only been born once you will die twice, but if you are born twice you will only die once.”
While the reality of death isn’t refuted by the proponents of charismania, the permanence of it certainly is. According to Tyler Johnson, “Dead raising is for every believer, not just a select few.”
Johnson is a deceived follower of Bethel Church-style charismania, a mixture of prosperity gospel and dominion theology that is replete with signs, wonders, and miracles. He is a graduate of the Scripturally-noxious church’s School of Supernatural Ministry, co-founded by Bethel’s charlatan in charge – Bill Johnson (no relation, apparently, to Tyler) and his charismatic co-conspirator Kris Vallotton. His website bio identifies him as functioning “primarily in the spirit of revelation as well as healing.” (Yes, please note … that is EXTRA-biblical revelation.)
But Tyler Johnson doesn’t merely proclaim a belief in the potential ability of believers to raise the dead; he claims to teach others how to do it. His independently published book entitled How To Raise The Dead purports to instruct others how to accomplish a task previously reserved only for Christ, and His chosen prophets and apostles.
The digital flyleaf on Amazon outlines the book’s topical ambitions. Besides the obvious denial of Scripture’s account of the Spirit-prompted death of Ananias and Sapphira, so infused with the false prosperity gospel is Johnson that his book on how to raise the dead includes with a chapter on “How to Overcome Debt.”
While “raising the dead for fun and profit” might make for jocular fictional novel fodder, Johnson not only wrote a “non-fiction” tome on the topic, he also runs a ministry called The Dead Raising Team. (DRT)
“If you would like to fulfill Jesus’ commandment in Matthew 10:8 to raise the dead, send us an email and we will help you start a Dead Raising Team in your city. Starting a DRT is very simple. and causes heaven to applaud. The DRT is available to come to your fellowship and do a “School of Resurrection Power” if you desire.” (SOURCE)
Legitimate exegesis of Jesus’ disciple-specific “commandment” from Matthew aside, Johnson’s Dead Raising Team “ministry” claims to have established over 60 affiliates across the globe. Regrettably the bulk of the blue-pinned affiliates of the DRT are found right here in the good ole USA, where heresy may be proclaimed unfettered from illegitimately named churches and undefended among sheep in those churches that ought to be legitimate. (It’s where, for example, you’ll find Southern Baptist Churches hiring musical charlatans direct from the heresy haven of Bethel to entertain youth, as we reported HERE.)
The DRT began in 2006 and claims to have produced “15 resurrections to date,” as their team “travels to the funeral home, morgue or family’s home where the deceased is being kept.”
“Upon arrival, we spend time in prayer with the family, as well as the deceased. We will stay as long as we are needed.” (Source)
They’ll stay as long as needed … or until your VISA card has reached its max, one presumes. No doubt this is one sure-fire way for the DRT to “overcome debt” … on the backs of the grieving.
“Dead raising is for every believer, not a select few. In fact, in order for the dead to be raised on a consistent basis, there needs to be people that are ready to prayer for resurrection in different geographical locations across the globe. Anywhere people die prematurely, God desires that there would be people that know His will on the situation and bring the Kingdom to Earth, manifest in resurrection power. God desires that every Christian have the faith to raise the dead. Therefore, we are believing God to raise up people from across the globe with a desire to obey the commandment to raise the dead in Matthew 10:8.” (Source)
No. Just say no. This is a grotesquely aberrant, and diabolically-inspired teaching. Believers do not have the ability to raise the dead. It is not a matter of having sufficient faith. It is not a matter of praying with enough sincerity. Scripture neither commands us nor compels us that resurrection powers are gifts of the Spirit given to regenerate believers.
But herein lies the fundamental error with continuationist charismania. The authenticating miracle powers God used in Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles were just that … authenticating. They were intended to validate the legitimacy of God’s chosen spokesmen. HOWEVER, the use of signs, wonders, and miracles by God’s agent was never intended merely to elevate the status of that chosen agent. Instead, they were intended to drive listeners to hear the legitimate, forthcoming revelation of God through those agents.
Such wonders exhibited in the Bible were never about working wonders. They were always about drawing focused attention on God’s revelation. Moses’ miracles were not about Moses, but about God’s use of Him to proclaim divine plans. Paul’s miracles weren’t about Paul; they were to point Paul’s audience to the Gospel.
John MacArthur, in his sermon Does God Still Do Miracles Today?, said this:
Miracles are designed to call attention to the revelation. God did the miracle so the people would listen to the Word and see it as His truth. The miracle didn’t stand alone, that’s the point. God doesn’t do miracles for miracles’ sake …the purpose of the miracle was to get people to understand that God had something to say.” (Source)
But churches like Bethel and their Bible-denying co-horts like Johnson disregard the very revelation the New Testament miracles were intended to point to. They disregard and deny the Word and the Gospel by emphasizing experience over revealed Truth. God’s revelation has been jettisoned and the “experiential” has become the focus. Truth has been thwarted by emotion. The father of lies loves to have it so.
“We must remember that Satan has his miracles, too.” John Calvin
Johnson’s DRT ministry tagline is “Fulfilling the Commissioning of Matthew 10:8.” This oft-used maneuver – verse plucking – might leave the otherwise biblically-illiterate presuming that its “heal the sick, raise the dead” exhortations – from Christ, no less- are viable instructions for believers today. However, verse plucking leads to false assumptions based on inadequate knowledge. The section from which the DRT ministry so nobly derives its “commissioning” is familiar to devoted Gospel readers. Matthew 10:5-15 records the historical narrative of Christ sending out the now commissioned twelve apostles. Matthew 10:1 provides the apostolic specificity with which Johnson’s verse plucking is to be rightly considered:
“And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.” (Matthew 10:1)
Although Bill Johnson of Bethel – along with multitudes of other NAR types – is reputed be a bonafide, modern-day apostle, the canon of Scripture is closed. Thus, the affirmation-required authentication of divinely chosen spokesmen, pursuant to God’s New Testament revelation in Christ, is no longer valid. We have a completed, closed, and thorough revelation. The completion of that revelation means that the authenticating measures to show its legitimacy are no longer needed because God now speaks through that finalized revelation, not through human agents. Authentic believers call that revelation the Bible and are capable of apprehending and comprehending it by the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination. Places like Bethel, and ministries like the DRT, disregard it, both in context and in authority and sufficiency.
It’s clear that Johnson’s DRT disregards Scripture, for if he were diligent about the (wrongly-interpreted) commissioning of Matthew 10:8, he would also be equally bound to obey it in its entirety. The intentionally un-cited remainder of the verse finds Johnson, though, in certain disobedience, even if that portion of Scripture was prescriptive for believers today. (It isn’t.) The verse, in its entirety, states:
“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.” Matthew 10:8
While it is correct that nowhere on the DRT site does Johnson solicit donations for his illicit spiritual enterprise, that’s not quite the entire story. He does so under his broader umbrella ministry called One Glance Ministries. On that site, you will find an exuberant (“Go Jesus!”) explanation of the financial needs of the DRT ministry.
You’ll not need to peruse the appeal long to notice the one glaringly absent element that one would presume a bonafide Christian ministry to tout – the Gospel is noticeably absent.
The intent of the ministry is not to further the proclamation of the Gospel – the “power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16) – in an “area outside of Calcutta.” The goal there might quench the ill-placed pursuits of a social gospel by “feeding widows, building a church, installing a well” and other things, but, apart from the God-wrought, man-proclaimed transforming power of the Gospel, those “widowed women” may merely find their temporal conditions improved, but their souls left hopeless in a “condemned already” condition. (John 3:18) A social justice gospel merely makes earth a better place from which to go to hell.
But it’s point #2 in Johnson’s appeal for funding where the disregard for the full – though, again, illigitimate for us – commissioning he cites from Matthew 10:8. He seeks funds to “sow into resurrection power.” Whereas Christ expected His rightly commissioned apostles to “give without pay,” Johnson needs another $2300 a month to continue his gospel-void “ministry.”
Oh, yeah, the local “Healing Room and children’s healing room” are also in need of your financial help. However, Johnson – nor Bethel which also runs a “Healing Room” ministry – does not cite a Scriptural “commissioning” for this element of his ministry, for the very simple reason that there is not one. Just as there is not one for his Dead Raising Team charade.
The tragedy of charismania, and the very real threat it represents, is not altogether unknown in the broader, non-charismatic church. The eagerness with which churches preach and teach a “man-centered” message, rather than the God-centered Truth evident in Scripture, makes more palatable the introduction of an emotionally-enticing, feelings-focused form of faith that is absent in Scripture. (Yes, contemplative prayer is like a gateway drug, a discipline that, engaged upon, leads to greater, and more deliterious, Scripturally-defiant pursuits.)
The intrigue of the world over the supernatural has not waned with the shift of culture from modern to post-modern to post-post-modern. The media is awash in feeding the gluttonous extra-worldly, supernatural cravings of society in its continued appetite for zombies, witches, warlocks, vampires, mediums, ghost-hunting, and the like. The depraved, godless culture is eager for an encounter with the supernatural, a brush with the other-worldly, an interaction from beyond.
And, with churches like Bethel and Scripturally-illicit “ministries” like the Dead Raising Team, these same desires are being served in the self-monikered “Christian” world. A perusal of your nearest Christian bookstore will reflect similar, if not less extreme, efforts to quench the “churched” public’s supernatural desires. From heresies that promote extra-biblical revelation (It’s nigh to impossible to list the high profile “Christian leaders” who promote this.) to improperly exegeted texts on spiritual warfare, supposed believers are being fed placebic, anemic, Scripture-slathered, but Scripture-denying, error and unsound doctrine. They are being fed fanciful interpretations that bring focus away from God and His revealed Truth to man and his unbiblical appetite for mystery, emotionalism, and mysticism.
(For a Biblically astute resource on spiritual warfare, please see THIS.)
The genuinely regenerated believer, abiding in the Word, (John 8:31) will recognize that Christ is still building His church, the true church. He does it in a staggering, supernatural way … through a bonafide resurrection of those “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) into “a new creation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) This is the ongoing, Gospel-powered, miracle being wrought by God across the planet … and it is a miracle of eternal consequence.
For those whose focus, however, is on this world, rather than rightly on “things above,” (Colossians 3:2) the sin-generated death suffered by all is to be overcome by illicit and unbiblical spiritual endeavors. But if you truly want to see a resurrection, zealously share the Gospel with those “condemned already” (John 3:18) and pray God uses it to breathe eternal life into dead souls.
As for the Dead Raising Team, the charlatans behind it aren’t particularly surprising. Scripture tells us such false teachers abound, trying “to lead astray, even the elect if possible.” (Mark 13:22) As Christ warned us, “See to it that no one decieves you.” (Matthew 24:4)
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)
[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]
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