Bethel Church pastor Bill Johnson said that while many Christians are uncomfortable with the supernatural and hold back from allowing God to miraculously heal the sick through them, the responsibility of every believer is to “take some form of risk to give God a chance to show up and do what only He can do.”
Johnson, pastor of the megachurch in Redding, California, that also runs a school of supernatural ministry, participated in Thursday’s session of the Q 2020 Virtual Summit, an annual event that equips Christian leaders to thoughtfully engage culture from a Christian worldview.
During the session, the pastor was asked by host Gabe Lyons to address “why we should lean into the supernatural more” and “trust God to do things that we might not ever understand in the supernatural realm.”
“If everything about [God] is something I understand, then I've reduced Him to my size,” Johnson replied. “I'm required to live with mystery. And if I'm a follower of Jesus, I need to at least attempt to do what He did and said that we would do.”
Johnson referenced Matthew 10:8, where Jesus sends out the 12 Apostles and tells them: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give."
“Part of what He imparted to His disciples was this mandate to heal the sick, raise the dead, whatever it might be,” he explained. “It's the miracle realm. The miracle realm is not the bonus, it's not the controversial side issue. It's the heart and nature of who Jesus was and what He displayed [on earth.] I may never do it well, I just don't have the right to change my assignment.”
Johnson encouraged Christians to give Jesus the “occasion to show up and do the extravagant thing.”
“My responsibility is to carry truth and to take some form of risk to give God a chance to show up and do what only He can do,” the pastor said. “I still want to present the Gospel so that people come to Christ. So my responsibility is to carry truth and to take some form of risk to give God a chance to show up and do what only He can do.”
According to Johnson, two things hold Christians back from pursuing a lifestyle of allowing God to work extravagantly through them: “Bad teaching where we're taught it ended some time ago,” and "disappointment.”
“I think it's in our DNA as a believer, to see God do extravagant things through us,” he said. “It's a part of just a normal desire, ... we actually have to be taught out of that. And it's normal for us to long to see God use us in a significant way. The mistake comes when we take it to ourselves that it's because of our great faith or our great strength or courage, whatever it might be. That's an error, but it's also an error to go the other direction and to say, ‘Well, if God wants it to happen, He'll just do it and I don't need to pursue a life of risk.’ It's just not the way it's played out in Scripture.”
The California pastor also discussed his view of the presence of God, explaining that because “the Holy Spirit is the greatest gift we've been given,” the “Holy Spirit in my life has to be better than Jesus standing right next to me at my side.”
“So Jesus next to me at my side is less than the Holy Spirit in my life growing in me,” the pastor said. “We need to learn to host Him so He rests upon us continuously.”
The 12,000-member church is known for its focus on faith healing. Bethel currently hosts online healing rooms that are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Additionally, many of the 2,400 students at the church’s School of Supernatural Ministry approach and pray for people in hospitals and healthcare centers, though not without controversy.
In April, Bethel shifted their healing rooms to online events weeks after suspending their faith healing ministry at hospitals due to the coronavirus.
Chris Gore, the church’s head of healing, told The Washington Post that the most common ailment among the approximately 100 calls they get daily from around the world are mostly related to stress about the coronavirus.
Johnson urged the church to “come alongside” their local communities in the wake of the coronavirus, stressing that “we have to erase the line between us and then we have to stop thinking that we're the inside group.”
“If we treat them like a project, then we will always try to change them instead of to love them,” he said. “What we've chosen to do is come alongside our civic leaders and the system, not try to change them but try to honor them for who they are, for God putting them in the position area and serving them for the well-being of our city.”
“We believe in miracles and we see extraordinary things happen ... but we can also serve and help them carry on their responsibilities, whatever it might be. We can offer our facilities for this pandemic to serve people in need. It doesn't matter. There's no separation.”
COVID-19, Johnson emphasized, presents “a prime time” for the Church to experience “significant breakthrough” in its interactions with secular culture.
“People are becoming more and more aware that they don't have an answer and they realize their politicians don't have the answers either,” he said. “We have to make sure that we maintain the hope in our life because people are crying out for hope ... And if we come under the influence of circumstances, instead of under the influence of the Almighty God and His heart for people, then we won't carry the message as we should. We won't hear the opportunity.”
“I think we're being positioned for a Great Awakening, and a mighty, mighty, mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” he declared.
The large gathering of the church is where identity is established and prophetic direction becomes clear for the whole group; the small group is where the church’s “authority and strength” are displayed, Johnson said.
“Fathers have to put aside any insecurity for somebody else getting the credit, getting the breakthrough ... and celebrate that this is the moment for the Church to really be strong where God has called us to be strong, and that’s in the two or three.”
The annual Q conference was founded in 2007 by Gabe and Rebekah Lyons. The two-day event featured a number of influential thought leaders, pastors, and notable members of the Christian community.