I read recently an article from Life Way Research that said we now live in a day and age in the United States where one-third of all evangelical Christians do not believe Jesus is God.
That is staggering to consider! Especially since Jesus Himself said in the Bible.
John 14:6 I am the way, the truth, the life, no one comes to the Father except by me.
Peter declared in John 6:66, “…where else can we go (Jesus) for you are the only One that has the words of eternal life.
Twenty-three years ago, my wife and I started Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs in partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention.
When we first started Vanguard, we wondered how to get unbelievers to come to church to hear the Gospel. As time has gone on, we have wondered, “How do we get Christians to come to church?”
But now, lately, we have wondered, “How do we get ‘Christians’ to believe that Jesus is God and the only way to eternal life?”
I am convinced that in my lifetime as a pastor in America, one of the most judgmental things we will be accused of saying is, “Jesus is God and the only way to eternal life.”
Recently, I was watching a message by Pastor Steven Furtick, who is a fellow Southern Baptist Church planter and senior pastor of Elevation Church, which is also affiliated with the same denomination.
Pastor Steven represents millions of evangelicals who follow his teachings.
In a sermon dated May 3rd, 2020, entitled “Focus On The Fruit,” He talks about Jesus’ presence.
Here is the link: (watch at 10:19, below is the transcript too):
“God is where you are. You don’t go to a place where God is. How stupid is that? He’s omnipresent. You think God is keeping a desk somewhere in a corner office, like an old college professor on Sundays? (Come by) Like God is an old man in a nursing home. ‘I wish you’d come see me more.’
No. God is energy, God is Spirit. God is a molecular structure that fills all in all. That’s what It means to say that Christ was from the beginning. So, since he’s eternal, and he’s not bound by time or by location, since he can move with the cloud or move with the fire, since God is always moving, that means he can visit and inhabit anywhere we choose to give him praise. Thank you Jesus.
His first paragraph lines up perfectly with Scripture.
Psalm 139:7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
1 Corinthians 6:16 …God’s Spirit dwells in you?
The Psalmist and the Apostle Paul made it clear that God’s presence is everywhere. You don’t go to where God’s presence is. He is everywhere you are, already. He also lives inside those who believe in Jesus. This is one of the promises that Jesus gives. He told the disciples before He left to go back to heaven…
“John 14:25 – “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
When Jesus left and went back to heaven, the disciples waited for the promise of Jesus for this indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It happens in Acts 2…
Acts 2:2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, for they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Steven’s first paragraph lines up perfectly with what the Bible teaches.
The deviation comes in the second paragraph.
God is energy…God is a molecular structure that fills all in all…that means he can visit and inhabit anywhere we choose to give him praise…
Nowhere in the Bible does the Bible say God is energy. The Bible says in Genesis 1:1 God created everything, including energy. To be the Creator of energy, He has to remain who He is while creating what it is. If God created everything, including energy, then He can’t be energy; otherwise, energy would be God.
This thought of God as energy is best seen in pantheism.
Pantheism is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing, immanent God. All forms of reality may then be considered either modes of that Being, or identical with it. To them, pantheism is the view that the Universe (in the sense of the totality of all existence) and God are identical (implying a denial of the personality and transcendence of God).
If God were energy, that means that God and the energy in you makes you God. As we saw in Scripture earlier, God does dwell in those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, but He is not absorbed into us like energy is absorbed by an object or a person.
We are created to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and because of this, He calls us to listen to the promptings of His Spirit who lives inside of us and respond accordingly. His promptings can create emotional experiences and create energy and movement in our souls that then impacts our physical bodies and thus impacts where we go, what we do, and how we go about it. However, at no time is that energy we experience, God.
It is the response our souls and bodies have from being impacted by the Spirit of God who lives inside of us if we believe in Jesus as God.
Why Pastor Steven referred to God as “energy,” I don’t know. The Bible says, “God is Spirit, and we who worship him must worship him in Spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
But nowhere in the Bible does it say God is energy.
What is the difference between God as “spirit” and God as “energy?” In the simplest of definitions, a spirit is a bodiless being
Energy is the work of that bodiless being.
Energy is never a person.
Pastor Furtick says God is “a molecular structure that fills all in all.”
The Bible never says this either about God.
The Bible says God is your Creator. And not only is He your Maker, He is involved in your world. Paul even uses pagan philosophers in Acts 17 to make this point to people who did not yet believe in Jesus as their Savior.
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens…24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, 26 And he made from one man every nation…having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God…for ‘In Him we live and move and have our being’;
In Christianity, God is the Eternal Being who created and preserves all things. He is both transcendent (wholly independent of, and removed from, the material universe) and immanent (involved in the world).
In Pastor Steven’s analysis of God, he concludes with this statement.
“That means he (God) can visit and inhabit anywhere we choose to give him praise.”
The Bible affirms this concept.
Psalm 22:3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel. (KJV)
But what does that mean?
It means that God’s presence is in our midst when we praise Him.
But it is not based on our choice but His sovereign and omnipresent nature. God is not just present where we choose for Him to be. He is not just present when we want Him to be. He is present all the time, everywhere.
The danger of Pastor Steven’s analysis of who God is four-fold:
- He inaccurate defines who God is.
- His inaccurate definition of God (spirit, energy, and molecular structure that fills all in all) wrongly applies the characteristics of God and at best confuses who God is in someone’s life, and at worse, leads them toward pantheism and a new-age view of God that removes all tenets of the Gospel.
- It forms a sense that God is that energy people need to get through the day, not an eternal being we are called to follow. This can also wrongly lead them to the conclusion that God is a part of them, and they are a part of God. This removes the distinctive tenets of the Christian faith that delineates the presence of God from the existence of our person and our need for a Savior. It makes God energy that we tap into to become the best version of us. Instead of coming to the realization that we are sinners, separated from God, and apart from His indwelling Holy Spirit, we have no hope.
- Ultimately, this definition of God as energy and molecular structure that fills all in all removes the personal nature of God’s involvement in our lives on a day to day basis as an eternal being separate from us. Sadly this can lead the listener to the belief that they are in control of their lives and that God is the energy available to help them make their life what they want it to be.
Each one of us who claim the name of Jesus has been called to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. He has asked us to lay aside our desires, wishes, and hopes for our lives and pick up the cross He is asking us to carry and follow Him wherever He is leading us.
Which, I must conclude, leads me to the most challenging part of what I want to say about Pastor Steven’s teachings. They are wrapped in Gospel language with a man-centered focus and an emphasis on feeling what you want to feel from God for the sake of knowing He accepts you. When we step outside of Scripture, we are moving AWAY from the reality of an eternal God who is loving, forgiving, compassionate, and full of mercy.
God doesn’t have to be us to be with us.
God doesn’t have to be redefined by nonbiblical words for us to experience Him as Spirit and Truth.
God needs pastors and teachers to simply proclaim Him with words one hundred percent of the time that the Bible uses.
James 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
The Truth of who God is is wholly found in His Word.
May we run back to His Word for the complete truth of who He is, because almost truth is not like a lie, it is worse than the lie. It is heresy that leads people near the truth, but never allows them to know or truly experience the truth.
Jesus is God.
He is not energy.
He is not molecular structure.
Jesus is the physical representation of WHO the Godhead, the Trinity, is.
John 14:6 I am the way, the TRUTH, and the (eternal) life, no one comes to the father, but by me.
Apart from the truth of who Jesus is there is no salvation.
Apart from salvation there is no eternal hope.
Apart from eternal hope there is no heaven, for you or me.
Almost true, is not good enough, if you want to go to heaven.
Jesus is not energy or molecular structure.
He is God and our only hope of eternal life.
Every one of us need a Savior.
Accept Jesus today as God in the flesh, the Savior of the world.
And yes, we can experience an eternity with Jesus, forever!