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Caught Up to Heaven Through Visualizing Jesus? Part 2

by Karl Kemp  
9/09/2020 / Book Reviews


Book Review: Experiencing the Heavenly Realm: Keys to Accessing Supernatural Encounters, Expanded edition, by Judy Franklin and Beni Johnson (Destiny Image Publishers, © copyright 2016)

This is Part 2 of this book review for Experiencing the Heavenly Realm.

4.2. Franklin Says that in One of Her Heavenly Encounters Jesus Took Her Back in Time to Observe His All-Important Crucifixion, but There Are Some Serious Problems with this "Revelation": For One Thing, it Includes an Often-Repeated Error; I Believe It Is Clear that this "Revelation" Did Not Come from God (pages 119-120). "... [Jesus] took my hand and we began to travel extremely fast. Everything passed by in a blur, and I knew we were moving very fast because my clothes were pressed against me as though I was standing in front of a high-velocity fan. ... I asked Jesus where we were going and He said we were going back in time. 

Once we stopped, I saw Jesus as He was about to be whipped [scourged] before His crucifixion. [She watched when Jesus, Who took her there, told her that she must watch, but she "stayed right there in His arms" while she watched.] 

The first lash hit its mark. As the blood began to flow I cringed. I saw the Father begin to rise from His throne and I heard the heart of Jesus saying, 'No, Father, no. They don't know what they are doing. Forgive them.' The second lash came and again the Father started to rise, 'No Father, forgive them.' The third, fourth, and fifth lashes came, and again He cried out for the Father to forgive. [[I believe there is a very serious problem here: Franklin is communicating the idea that God the Father was ready to interfere and stop this wicked procedure but that Jesus stopped Him by asking Him to forgive. The glorious new-covenant plan of salvation originated with God the Father, and the Son willingly submitted to the plan (see Phil. 2:8-9, for example). There is no hint that Jesus stopped the Father's intervention by asking Him to forgive them. It is true, however, but not relevant to what Franklin said here, that Jesus, after He had been nailed to the cross, said 'Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing' (Luke 23:34). There is no thought here of Jesus restraining the Father from stopping the scourging or the crucifixion here by asking the Father to forgive them. That wasn't going to happen! Thank God for the all-important crucifixion!]] The 10th, 15th, 20th, 30th, and 39 lashes came...." 

I won't quote any more of what Franklin goes on to say here, but I need to comment on the 39 lashes/stripes that came with the scourging. There is no Biblical or other legitimate basis for saying that Jesus received 39 lashes/stripes, but I have been hearing from some Christians about Jesus supposedly receiving 39 stripes over the years. This idea came from a misunderstanding by sincere Christians (demons might have helped get this error started; every error hurts): It's true that, based on Deut. 25:3, the Jews were not allowed to give more than 40 lashes, and they would often stop at 39, BUT THE ROMANS WERE NOT INTERESTED IN KEEPING JEWISH LAWS. The Romans did not stop at 39 lashes/stripes. Sometimes they would actually kill a person when scourging them. The Man/man who was buried in the Shroud of Turin had received more than 100 lashes/stripes. Based on what I have seen and read, and I spent quite a bit of time on this, I believe it is probable that the Man buried in the Shroud of Turin was the Lord Jesus. The evidence for that viewpoint is quite strong. 

4.3 A Few Examples of Franklin's Seeing and Interacting with God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit; Sometimes All Three Persons at the Same Time; All Three Danced and at Least the Son and the Holy Spirit Danced with Franklin. "...I came upon my Father's throne, and there I found my Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit all dancing. The Holy Spirit was twirling around like a miniature tornado, spinning joy. The Father and Jesus were dancing a primitive type dance that was full of passion and rejoicing. What a picture! 

The Father's dance was rather undignified.... I wondered, How can I really be seeing the Maker of the Universe being so exuberant? [When she mentioned to Him about perhaps being "a bit undignified"]...He laughed and threw His arms out, declaring enthusiastically, 'I love to dance. I created the dance.' ... ...Oh how we danced in our joy [She already mentioned that the Father, Son, and Spirit were dancing.]" (page 85). 

"The Holy Spirit came over and asked me for a dance. Always before when I had danced with Him, my feet had stayed on the ground while He soared around, seemingly unhampered by the gravity that held me to the floor. This time He took me in His arms and we both soared up and away in a marvelous dance. I was laughing and He was smiling at me. Then He leaned over and said, 'I love you' " (page 127). 

"Then the Holy Spirit and I started to dance again, and this time I wasn't just standing while He danced around me. This dance wasn't the soaring dance we had done previously but a deliberate step-by-step dance of me learning to follow His lead..." (page 140).  

"... I ran to Him [Jesus] and threw myself into His arms. He held me and we began to dance" (page 151). 

"We sat down - Jesus, the Father, the Holy Spirit and me" (page 134). 

"At different times throughout this vision of the tree, I would get down out of the tree to meet with the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit" (page 93). Franklin frequently mentions seeing the three Persons together at the same time. 

4.4. Does it Fit the Bible for Us To Be Able To See and Interact with God the Father and the Holy Spirit? Let's discuss God the Father first. The Bible rather clearly shows that we will not be able to see God the Father, at least not in any definite way that includes seeing His face, until after we are glorified. I believe we will be able to see Him after we are glorified, but there is a widespread viewpoint among Christians that the Father is invisible and we never will be able to see Him. We will get into some key details here, but for more details see my 86-page paper "Will We See God the Father after We Are Glorified? ...." (It's on my internet site: Google to Karl Kemp Teaching.) If seeing the Father face to face is not available during this present age (or ever available as large numbers of Christians believe), it causes some serious problems for Franklin's experiences. 

As I mentioned, there is widespread agreement among many Christians that God the Father always was, and always will be, invisible. Verses like the following fit that viewpoint: John 1:18 ("No one has seen God at any time"); 6:46 ("Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father."); Col. 1:15 ("the invisible God"); 1 Tim. 1:17 ("invisible"); 6:16 ("and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see"); and 1 John 4:12 ("No one has seen God at any time"). Very many Christians believe that He does not have a body that could be seen. 

I am not at all satisfied with that viewpoint. I believe it's true that we cannot see the Father during this present age, at least not in a definite sense that includes seeing His face, but that we will be able to see Him, including His face, after we are glorified and that He does, therefore, have a body. Anyway, I have a serious problem believing that Franklin actually sees (and she speaks of seeing Him in significant detail, very much including His face) and interacts with God the Father. It is quite possible that she is seeing a demonic impersonation of the Father.  

The Bible speaks of some believers having seen God the Father after the fall of man (I won't consider what Adam and Eve were able to see of God before the fall), but apparently none of them where they were seeing Him in detail, including seeing His face. For example, in Ezek. 1:25-28, Ezekiel saw God's portable throne with Him on His throne with "the appearance of a man," but mostly he saw "fire" and "radiance," something of the glory of God. He clearly did not see His face. Exodus 33:11 says, "Thus the LORD [Yahweh] used to speak to Moses face-to-face, just as a man speaks to a friend. ...," but the idea that Moses was literally seeing the face of God is clearly denied by verses 18-23 that follow in that same chapter (Exodus chapter 33). This is where Moses asked God to show him His glory (verse 18). I'll just quote the key verses: "But He said, 'You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" (verse 20). And, "then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen" (verse 23). I'll quote what John D. Hannah said on the meaning of God speaking to Moses face to face in Ex. 33:11 (Bible Knowledge Commentary - Old Testament [SP Publications, Inc., 1985], page 157): "Moses' speaking 'face to face' with God does not contradict the fact that he was not allowed to see God's face (v. 20) as 'face to face' is a figurative expression suggesting openness and friendship (cf. Num. 12:8; Deut. 34:10...)." 

I'll quote one last passage, Rev. 4:2-3: "Immediately I [the apostle John] was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven and One [God the Father (The Son of God comes on the scene later and interacts with God the Father, starting in Rev. 5:6)] sitting on the throne. (3) And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance." The apostle John saw the Father on His throne, but he mostly saw His glory: "He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance." He did not see His face. I believe these passages suffice to confirm that God has a body and that He is not invisible in His Being, but there is a very definite problem with Franklin's being able to literally see the Father in detail, including being able to see His face. 

A key verse that clearly shows that the Father is not invisible is Matt. 18:10: Jesus said, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say unto you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven." And, significantly, there are quite a few verses that show that we will see the Father after we are glorified: Psalm 17:15 "As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake." Matthew 5:8, Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." 1 Cor. 13:12, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." And, significantly, Revelation 22:3-4, "There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [New Jerusalem], and His bond-servants [that’s us] will serve Him [We will be reigning with Him too (Rev. 22:5)]; (4) they will see His face." I believe 1 John 3:2 is another important example. See on 1 John 3:2 in my paper (Will We See God the Father after We Are Glorified?). 

How about Being Able to See and Interact with the Holy Spirit? I agree with the essentially unanimous viewpoint among Christians that the Bible doesn't speak of the Holy Spirit having a body or being visible. He can be represented as a dove coming down out of heaven (John 1:31-33) or as "the seven Spirits who are before His throne" (Rev. 1:4) with Rev. 4:5, "... And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God." The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, is everywhere (omnipresent) and doesn't have a body, so He is invisible. Also, if He doesn't have a body, He won't be dancing, etc. 

 

5. What about Deception? I'm confident that Bill Johnson, the Senior Pastor at Bethel Church, Redding CA, is strongly motivated to please God and to not go against the Bible, but it is clear that He is also strongly motivated for them to experience the supernatural to the fullest possible extent, which can be dangerous if we are not also making it a top priority to guard against demonic deceptions ((and manifestations of the flesh, which can include, for example, man-made prophecies; false prophecies can come from demons or man in the flesh; we have a very serious problem in the Christian church in our day with false prophecies, prophecies that don't come from God; I heard Mike Bickle, who was a key leader in the prophetic movement, say, a year or two ago, that although he believes in a true gift of prophecy, he believes that most prophecies in our day do not come from God; I have been thinking for a long time that many prophecies do not come from God)). 

I wonder, for example, if Bill Johnson has ever considered the possibility that the feathers falling at his church, or even in restaurants, or some other supernatural manifestations, might not all be from God. There is a tendency to think that everything that happens to us or at our church must be of God. I very much want for Bill Johnson and Bethel church to be used by God and effective for Him to the max. We need everything that God wants to do through him and Bethel church. The more the ministry at Bethel church is effective, the more they need to guard against Satan and his demons trying to infiltrate and as-much-is-possible to destroy, or at least hinder, that ministry. 

I'll briefly comment on something Bill Johnson said to Judy Franklin on page 61 and some closely related things that he said in the Foreword of the book. It shows a strong tendency to wrongly assume that our Big God will faithfully, essentially automatically guard us from a little devil and demonic deception. The Bible and Church history have all-too-clearly demonstrated that God leaves a lot of room for His people to accept wrong doctrines (doctrines of demons), demonic manifestations, and to yield to temptation and sinful living. It's shocking! And it is very significant that the Bible warns us that Satanic deceptions and other activities will be very widespread in the last days before Christ returns. (I documented this in the second paragraph in section 1 of this book review.) It is totally clear to me that God requires us to put a high priority on guarding against these things through cooperating with His grace, by faith, in line with His Word, and by His Spirit. The victory is very far from being automatic or always easy! This is serious business! I stand amazed when I see all of the heresy and sin of God's people throughout the Old Testament and throughout the history of the Christian church, and quite a bit of heresy and sin is even recorded in the New Testament. The devil cannot make God's people sin, yield to demons and their deceptions, or to accept doctrines of demons, but he has been all-too-effective in all of these areas. That's our fault!

"At first I [Judy Franklin] was worried about being deceived. [[(This double bracket continues into the second paragraph.) IF we don't realize the potential to be deceived and guard against it, we probably will be deceived. A primary problem is that so many Christians have assumed that they (including their church, organization, ministry, etc.) would be automatically protected by God, and all the more so if God was moving in their midst in powerful supernatural ways. In America it really has been assumed by many that any demons must be somewhere else, like in Africa. This is a big mistake! (See sections 7 and 8 in this book review.) I believe Franklin had very good reasons to be concerned that she might be deceived.

I'll mention four good reasons that she might have had, or should have had, to be concerned about being deceived: 1) The way she was introduced to her heavenly encounters, which was far from any Biblical experiences, where she saw a door partially opened and something came out of the door and laid on her; she was afraid. (I gave more details above.) 2) She had no Biblical basis to lead people to the third heaven by visualizing Jesus or God the Father (or maybe the Holy Spirit), which she was (and is) doing, leading them to the third heaven where the apostle Paul was taken by God. There is a gigantic difference between God taking the apostle Paul to heaven on one occasion and Franklin, or anybody else, taking Christians to heaven at essentially any time they choose to go by visualization. (The few verses that they use in this book to try to support what she was/is doing totally fail to support it. I have mentioned several of these verses already and we'll discuss them together later in section 6 of this book review - this is super-important!) 3) She might have had reservations about seeing and interacting with God the Father and especially with the Holy Spirit since so many Christians believe that both Persons are invisible. 4) And it is significant that Franklin knew that some Christians were against what she was doing. Although some Christians are against just about everything, we should prayerfully, humbly, and seriously check out what they are saying. Sometimes (or often) they are right. (Back to quoting Franklin:)]] So one day I talked to Bill Johnson about my concern. He responded by saying, 'Then your God is too small and your devil is too big' (page 61)." I believe that in a context like this one this was very bad advice coming from her pastor and for whom she worked. We certainly need to be on guard against demonic workings that have been and are happening throughout the history of the church on a regular basis. I believe Johnson misses the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches with this advice. It's true that God is God and the devil is very inferior compared to God, but that doesn't mean that Franklin (or we) will be automatically protected from the devil and his temptations and deceptive working by our Big God. Far from it! Our Big God requires us to make it a top priority, by grace through faith, to resist the devil (and all sin) and his hosts in order to keep the demons, their false doctrines, and deceptive, counterfeit workings (along with all sin) outside of us and the Christian church (cf., e.g., Eph. 4:27; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 5:8-9). In general, large numbers of Christians have failed here to one degree or another throughout the history of the Christian church, and it is getting worse in these end times.      

5.1. I'll Quote Part of what Bill Johnson Says in the Foreword of this Book (pages 23-24) that Includes the Idea of a Big God and a Little Devil. "I have never been more thrilled with what I see God doing in the Church than right now. While we have challenges, the hunger that is truly a gift from God is at the highest point that I've ever seen. And it is spreading worldwide. [[(This double bracket continues for two paragraphs.) We need to have a hunger to repent, as required, and draw close to God and walk by the Holy Spirit, very much including the gifts of the Spirit, but I am concerned that many Christians are plunging into the supernatural with little or no discernment. Tapping into the devil's supernatural can yield results, including healings and other supernatural things that look good too; this helps motivate those Christians to persist in what they are doing, but it is a totally serious problem when Christians are tapping into clever demonic counterfeits or accepting doctrines of demons. The devil's supernatural will never yield any real good for Christians, quite the contrary, though it may seem like it for a while, maybe even for a long time. The devil is intelligent and persistent, but that is no reason for us to ever be deceived or defeated by him and his kingdom.

God's enabling grace is always sufficient to keep us in God's will, but we must cooperate with His grace and walk by His Spirit, by faith, in agreement with His Word, on a continuous basis. This very much includes our having a clear understanding of the devil's workings so we can guard against them, as we have been commanded to do. Our focus must be on God, but we cannot ignore the devil and his kingdom. Ignorance here can lead to great problems. We have been warned!]]

Hunger [Johnson is speaking of Christians hungering for God to move in us and through us] produces people who will live with risk [[(This double bracket continues into the third paragraph.) I don't believe God is calling us to take risks by quickly and dangerously plunging into supernatural things before carefully and prayerfully checking them out and proving they are from God. WALKING BY FAITH IN GOD, HIS SON, HIS SPIRIT, AND HIS WORD IS NOT TAKING RISKS: IT'S THE ONLY SAFE PLACE TO WALK. Christianity is not about taking risks, but it is about our walking in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God with all the power and gifts that He has made available to us, in agreement with His Word. There are no real risks as long as we do this. We are led by the Word of God, walk by the Spirit of God, and, as we have been instructed, we guard against and resist all of the tempting, deceptive, and attacking works of the devil. We are not called to, and we must not just jump into the supernatural world without discernment, because the devil is very active in the supernatural arena, and it is very deceptive, including his counterfeiting the presence of God and his counterfeiting the gifts and workings of the Spirit. 

It is clear to me that God will enable us to know the difference between His gifts and works and Satan's gifts and works IF we use the required caution and seek Him for wisdom and discernment, but it is also clear to me that many Christians are not being cautious or discerning and that this has happened all-too-much throughout the history of the church, very much including false doctrine, even including in the early church when the first apostles were still alive, but it is happening in very serious ways in our generation.

It seems impossible to me that many Christians are saying it is good for us to go to the New Age movement or to secular science to learn things that we need to know to be effective Christians: However, these things are taught in the book The Physics of Heaven, which is tied to Judy Franklin and Bethel church. (See my Book Review: The Physics of Heaven by Judy Franklin and Ellyn Davis that is on my internet site; Google to Karl Kemp Teaching.) Many seem to have a gigantic blind spot! Another problem is that many Christians reject the gifts of the Spirit that we need (including the gift of discerning of spirits) to effectively wage warfare against the workings of Satan's kingdom. Satan is here; he is the god of this world.]] This hunger for the authentic Gospel, the kind preached and experienced in the Bible, is increasingly burning within the hearts of so many. [[Yes, and we need this, but with a strong Bible-based caution, always being aware that the devil is actively and subtly against us on a full-time basis. We keep the focus on God, and we fear Him, not the devil, but we cannot ignore the devil (cf., e.g., Eph. 4:27; James 4:7; and 1 Peter 5:8-9). The devil is weak compared to God, but his kingdom is very active in the supernatural realm, and he has been all-too-effective in his warfare against mankind from the beginning, including the old-covenant people of God and then Christians. God allows Satan and his kingdom to exist for this present age for His own purposes. For one thing, He lets us be tested.]] And our perfect heavenly Father is ready to answer by giving the Holy Spirit and not a stone to those who ask. [[The Father is faithful, but He requires us to walk by His Word and by His Spirit on a continuous basis by faith. He doesn't typically automatically keep us from being tempted and falling into sin, or accepting doctrines of demons, or accepting the devil's gifts and other works if we are ignorant of what the Bible teaches. Again, we have been warned in the Bible, but many Christians have not been warned by the leaders. The devil is anxious and waiting to walk through any doors we leave open.]] When hunger gets strong people experience the things of God in new ways [my emphasis]. [[Johnson makes this point about "new ways" several times as he continues. This is important! I think we must say that our visualizing Jesus or God the Father to come into contact with them, to see them and interact with them in the third heaven, is something totally new and not found in the New Testament (or the Old Testament). You could argue that God is doing something new (that's not totally impossible, but that is a good example of VERY SERIOUS RISK TAKING; WE NEED TO SERIOUSLY CHECK THIS OUT BEFORE WE JUMP IN), but it is totally clear to me that you cannot justify this visualizing technique based on the Bible. However, throughout this book they are claiming Biblical authority/support for this technique. For more on this super-important point, see section 6 of this book review. (now continuing to quote from Bill Johnson in the Foreword:)]]

Judy Franklin and Beni Johnson have written a book that is very timely in that it answers part of the heart's cry of the people of God. Our hunger is for Him. But often we stop short of God encounters because we are satisfied with good theology. [It is extremely important that we have good theology (accurately based on what the Bible teaches) and then to live it by the sufficient grace of God by faith. Essentially every born-again Christian agrees with this - that Christianity is much more than having good theology; we are born again and have a personal relationship with God by the Holy Spirit and begin to live for Him by His enabling grace - but some Christians (their numbers are dwindling) do wrongly deny most of the charismatic dimension that is part of Biblical Christianity is for us today.] Theology is wonderful. But it is not the same as the invitation from God to encounter Him in new and deeper ways. [[We have to seriously answer the question whether God has opened up this new and deeper way of visualizing Jesus or God the Father or the Holy Spirit and then being caught up to the third heaven to see and interact with them at essentially any time we choose. IF God has opened this new and deeper way, it is a gigantic change from New Testament Christianity. What a transformation of the prayer and worship life of Christians! Again, if this is real, IT IS NEW, and not based on the New Testament. I strongly suggest that we - very much including those who are using this technique - need to humbly, seriously, and prayerfully check this out before God. As far as I can see, they cannot offer even one verse that validates this technique. The few verses they list don't come close to justifying what they are doing. And, we should at least know, as discussed in section 8 of this book review, that the occult world has been using visualization for thousands of years to make contact with spirits, spirits who are frequently impersonating somebody, God, or Jesus, or Mary, or the spirits of those who have died (necromancy), etc.]] For example, the whole concept of being 'seated in heavenly places in Christ' was never meant to be reduced to a doctrine (see Eph. 2:6 [[and raised us up with Him (all true Christians are united with Christ Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection [see Rom. 6:1-11, for example], and seated us with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6 says a lot, but when read in the light of the rest of the New Testament, it doesn't offer any support for the technique taught in this book of visualizing Jesus or God the Father to be caught up into the third heaven to see and interact with them. If God has invited Christians to use this technique in our day, it must be based on His making this invitation apart from what is written in the New Testament, and that seems totally unlikely to me: It would be a gigantic modification of the gospel of new-covenant salvation at a foundational level.]]. It was always meant to be an invitation from God to encounter Him and live from Heaven's perspective. [We certainly are called to a very real union with God and His Son through the indwelling Spirit of God, and to live from heaven's perspective; we are even now (during this present age before we are glorified) living in a very real sense in the heavenly dimension as God's born-again children (cf. Col. 3:1-11), but this doesn't mean that He has opened the door for us to come into the third heaven except when, on rare occasions, He takes the initiative and takes believers into the third heaven.] But short of an experience [Again, essentially every born-again Christian understands that we must experience Christianity as His born again children. Of course true Christianity must involve spiritual reality (by the Spirit; by grace through faith) and cannot be limited to knowing some Biblical doctrines).], we can only imagine. Once again we fall short, as God is not an idea, a formula, or a ritual. He is a person to be known, and One with whom we interact." What Johnson said here is true or course, but we need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. As I mentioned, essentially all born-again Christians agree that we must experience new-covenant salvation reality, which involves a lot more than believing correct doctrine. If we are not born again and living for God in accordance with His Word and by the Holy Spirit, by grace through faith, we are missing what new-covenant salvation is all about. We are "seated in heavenly places in [union with] Christ," which means a lot, including our having and using the authority we have been given to live as His victorious children. However, there is nothing in the Bible that offers us the invitation to visualize Jesus or God the Father and ascend into the third heaven to see and interact with them, far from it. I don't believe Eph. 2:6 (or any other verses in the Bible) offers any support to the invitation given in this book. (See section 6 in this book review.)

In the next paragraph Bill Johnson speaks of Judy Franklin's and his wife's [Beni Johnson's] stories and experiences that "stir the hearts of people for more of what God has made available in our day." This, of course, is the primary issue: Has God really made these things available that are far removed from what the New Testament offers Christians, or is a powerful deception taking place? The fact that large numbers of sincere Christians are doing something doesn't begin to show that it's from God, NOT AT ALL!

I'll quote the following paragraph and then the short paragraph that follows, which is the last paragraph in this Foreword by Bill Johnson. "Their [Franklin's and Beni's] insights are rich with hope and full of promise. In reading this book, one cannot help but wonder how much more God will give us in this lifetime. It's as though they give us permission to pursue God, assuming nothing would be withheld from us if we asked. It's not too good to be true. It's so good it is true." [[The problem for me is I doubt that this is true, and I believe I owe it to God and the Body of Christ, very much including Bill Johnson and Bethel church and all of the people involved with this technique to write this book review. If I am proved wrong by God somehow, it won't bother me (I want for us to know and to walk in everything that God makes available to us), but I believe I am obligated to write this book review. Keep in mind that the key issue in this book review is whether God has invited all Christians to visualize Him, or the Lord Jesus, or the Holy Spirit and be transported to the third heaven to see and interact with one or more or the Persons of the Trinity at essentially any time of our choosing as this book teaches. IF this were true, all of us should be taking advantage of this great privilege. However, this is a very major deviation from New Testament Christianity. God is God and I suppose He could offer this invitation to us Christians here at the end of this age, but I don't believe that He has done it. It's much easier for me to believe that deception is taking place here. One problem is that IF this were true it would strongly tend to reduce our need for faith, but it seems clear to me that God puts a high priority on our walking by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). I'm not suggesting that we wouldn't have to keep walking by faith if the technique taught in this book were true, but there would be a lot of "sight" and personal interaction with God in His full presence and very much less need for walking by faith.]] 

Pray, laugh, and sing all while reading. Experiencing the Heavenly Realm is a journey you won't soon forget." As far as I know, Bill Johnson doesn't tell us if he takes the trips to the third heaven, but I have to assume that he does. He certainly believes this is available, and who wouldn't want to fellowship with God in His direct presence in the third heaven in a much fuller way?     

6. Some Passages from the New Testament that Supposedly Help Show that Taking these Trips to the Third Heaven Through Visualization Is Supported by the New Testament. I have mentioned some of these passages other places in this book review, but this is very important! I don't believe any of these passages offer any support for this technique. 

6.1. I'll include some excerpts from chapter 28, "Letting Go and Letting God," by Beni Johnson. "... ...I'm here to tell you that we all need an encounter with the Father. I love to know that the broken will be free and will be able to sit with the Father and let Him love them and restore them through heavenly encounters. But I'm also glad that all may come. ... 

God has so much to teach us and have us learn, and one of the ways He does this is through heavenly encounters with Him" (pages 203-204). 

2 Corinthians 12:2. After describing an occasion where she was caught up to heaven in a conference where Judy Franklin was leading a group (this was not her first such experience), Beni Johnson said, "[The apostle] Paul said: 'I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago - whether in the body I do not know or out of the body I do not know [I believe it is clear that in all of the present-day experiences of people (supposedly) being caught up to the third heaven, starting with visualization, they were taken "out of the body" (their physical bodies remained on the earth)], God knows - such a one [I believe it is clear that the apostle was speaking of himself here.] was caught up to the third heaven' (2 Corinthians 12:2 NKJV)." 

Johnson included this verse here to communicate the idea that her being caught up to the third heaven has Biblical support. I believe the support this verse offers is essentially zero. For one super-important difference, God took the initiative and caught up the apostle Paul (who was very important in laying the foundation for new-covenant salvation) up to the third heaven on, as far as we know, only one very special occasion. That experience doesn't at all open the door for other Christians to claim a Biblical right to go there too through visualization. How did Johnson get caught up to heaven? She tells us in the preceding paragraph, and what she says there is typical: "At the end of her [Franklin's] sharing, she asked everyone who could to lie on the floor and get comfortable. Then she had us close our eyes and picture [visualize] Jesus coming toward us..." (page 204). So, Christians are initiating this experience by visualizing Jesus or God the Father. You could argue that God led them to do this, but that is highly questionable and certainly not backed up by the Bible. It seems very significant to me that, as discussed in section 8 of this paper, the occult world has been using this visualization technique for thousands of years to bring people into contact with spirits, sometimes spirits impersonating others, which can include Jesus, God, Mary, other people who have died, etc. And section 7 of this book review deals with the devil's deceiving Christians, sincere Christians, especially Christians involved in a revival of the supernatural, by counterfeiting the presence of God, of the Lord Jesus, the gifts of God, etc.  

Revelation 4:1-3. And one more excerpt from Beni Johnson in chapter 28: "One of my favorite stories in the Bible about this subject of heavenly encounters is that of [the apostle] John the beloved. In Revelation 4:1-3 (NKJV), John tells of his vision: 'After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying [[It isn't relevant to the present topic, but I believe the translation of the NASB gives the intended meaning: "and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me [referring to the voice of Rev. 1:10, "a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet"], said, 'Come up here'...."]] "Come up here, and I will show you things that must take place after this." Immediately I was in the Spirit and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne [God the Father. The Son of God, the Lamb of God, comes on the scene and interacts with the Father in Rev. 5:4ff.]. And the One who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius in appearance [[As discussed in section 4.4 in this book review, I don’t believe John was able to see the Father in any detail, including seeing His face. The words "jasper" and "sardius" fit the idea that although John was aware he was seeing the Father on the throne, he mostly was seeing His glory.]]; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance as an emerald.'

[[I don't believe the fact that the apostle John was caught up to heaven to receive the all-important book of Revelation offers any more support for the idea that Christians can take the initiative and visualize God or Jesus and be caught up into the third heaven and see and interact with them than the apostle Paul's experience does. This is serious business being caught up to the third heaven, and we have been warned of heavy-duty deception here at the end of this age. Beni Johnson went on to say:]] 

This was one of many encounters that John had [apparently referring to experiences that took place while he was receiving the book of Revelation]. After reading John's encounters, we can see that it is God's intention to take us into His realm to uncover His glorious mysteries. [[(This double bracket continues for three paragraphs.) Actually, all of the "mysteries" that deal with God's glorious new-covenant plan of salvation have already been revealed through the first apostles, especially the apostle Paul. I dealt with the wrong idea that Paul was speaking of God's revealing the mysteries to the saints as time goes by in section 2 of my Book Review: The Physics of Heaven that deals with the Foreword of that book by Kris Vallotton: What Paul said in Rom. 1:20 and Eph. 3:8-10 was misinterpreted there. As I showed, what the apostle Paul was saying there was that the mysteries had already been revealed. There is still room for God to reveal things: See Rev. 10:3-5, for example, which deal with the "seven peals of thunder" that God revealed to John but didn't let him write it. He will probably reveal that information to us in these end times. But the "seven peals of thunder" don't deal with the heart of what new-covenant salvation is all about. A major problem we have in parts of the Body of Christ is Christians looking for new revelation where the primary thing that we need is to understand the New Testament - to put a high priority on rightly dividing God's Word -  and to walk in line with God's Word and His will by His grace.

The fact that the mysteries of new-covenant salvation have already been given to us in the New Testament does not do away with the need for God's direct involvement in our lives with His authority, power, revelations, healings, etc. (I totally agree with Bill Johnson here.) God was directly involved with the old-covenant believers; how much more with born-again new-covenant believers. Some of this direct involvement is manifested through the gifts of the Spirit. We need all the work of the outpoured, indwelling Spirit of God. For one primary thing, we need the Holy Spirit to help us understand and to live in line with the Word of God in God's truth, righteousness, and holiness, with the victory over all sin and demons.

The Bible doesn't inform us, for example, which Christians are called to be in the ministry, or what type of ministry, or equip with the grace to fulfill those ministries. We need all the work of the Spirit to live in the truth of God in His righteousness and holiness and to walk in victory over Satan and his kingdom. The Bible doesn't tell us that a tornado is headed our way and what we should do about it. The Bible doesn't bear witness in our hearts that we have become born-again Christians (the Holy Spirit does [Rom. 8:16]) or confirm other things that we need to have confirmed. We totally, desperately need the Bible; it is the foundation for Christianity; but as the Bible teaches us, we need all the work of the Holy Spirit too. God also uses His angels in the outworking of new-covenant salvation, but we must keep the eyes of our hearts fixed on God and His Son, not on His angels.]] ...  

[I'll quote Beni Johnson's last sentence in this chapter.] He [God] wants all men and women and children to experience His love and be changed into His likeness." I totally agree, but we don't need new revelations or new trips to the third heaven to accomplish this. We just need to walk in the light of the Bible, especially the New Testament, which includes the call and enablement to walk by the Holy Spirit on a continuous basis in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God, by grace through faith, for the glory of God and our ultimate good. The call and grace to accomplish this, which includes all the gifts and workings of the Spirit that God has made available, has been provided from the beginning of Christianity." I'm not saying that God cannot do some new things here at the end of this age, but I don't believe it includes the technique of visualizing Jesus or God the Father and being caught up to the third heaven to see and interact with them. That would be a GIGANTIC change from New Testament Christianity!   

James 4:8 and John 17:24. I'll quote a sentence from what Franklin says in a context of being taken to heaven under the heading "The Expectation." "James 4:8 reminds us that as we draw near to God, He draws near to us. I challenge you to expect an encounter with God. While encounters are often different from person to person, the desire is the same - for you to be where He is (see John 17:24)" (page 214).  

I'll quote James 4:7-8 (NASB): Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. [Along with submitting to God and the things of God on a full-time basis, we are also required to be aware of, and to resist, the devil and his tempting, deceiving, attacking work on a full-time basis.] (8) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. I believe it is clear that James was not including any idea of Christians being taken up to the third heaven in what he said here. In this context James was speaking of the things like what he mentioned here in verses 7 and 8 (and in the surrounding verses), which includes submitting everything to God, resisting the devil and all of his work, and repenting anywhere and everywhere repentance is required: "Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded."  

I'll quote John 17:24, which Franklin mentioned (NASB): Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which you have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. These are part of the words of the glorious prayer that Jesus prayed on the last night of His life on earth before He was to die on the cross the next day (Friday). He included in this prayer that we may see His glory, which prayer will be answered when we are glorified and taken up into heaven. I don't believe this verse offers any support for our being able to visualize God the Father or the Lord Jesus and be caught up to heaven now, in the days before we are glorified. Jesus was speaking of the time when He will return and will take us to heaven. See John 14:1-3, which are words that Jesus spoke that same evening, before He was to be crucified the next day.

I'll quote Colossians 3:1 (NASB) here since this verse is mentioned by Larry Sparks on page 19. Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ [If we have become true Christians, we have been united with Christ Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection (raised up with Christ). We are called and enabled to be dead to the old man and to walk in new-creation life in the truth, righteousness, and holiness of God by grace through faith (see Romans chapter 6, for example)], keep seeking the things above [which includes putting first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33) and living for Him with top priority in His truth, righteousness, and holiness, by grace through faith, with the victory over all sin and demons. What the apostle Paul goes on to say in Col. 3:2-11 confirms that this is what the apostle Paul was speaking about here.], where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. There isn't any idea here that Christians are invited to take the initiative (essentially at any time we choose) and visualize Jesus or God the Father as a technique to take trips to heaven during this age. Before long, however, heaven will be our home in the full and final sense where we will reign with God and His Son in a never-ending reign (cf. Rev. 22:5).

And, lastly, I'll mention Ephesians 2:6. This verse, which was referred to by Bill Johnson in the Foreword of this book to try to give Biblical support to the idea that God has invited us to encounter Him using the techniques outlined in this book by his secretary and his wife, is quoted and discussed in section 5 of this book review. 

We will continue this book review in Part 3 with section 7, "Some Excerpts from War on the Saints: A History of Satanic Deceptions in Christianity and the Conflict between Good and Evil by Jessie Penn-Lewis (and Evan Roberts) that Are Relevant to this Book Review."  

http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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