October 5, 2016

Book Review: When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles

by Eric Davis

51kfcacw9kl-_sy344_bo1204203200_For as long as anyone knows, humanity has had a fascination with the supernatural. It’s an allure that transcends culture and time. So it has been in many contemporary Christian movements.

It was in 1987, after a John Wimber conference on miracles, that Bill Johnson claims to have experienced his ministry breakthrough. Then in 1996, after an experience at the Toronto Revivals, he began serving at Bethel Church in Redding, California, the original home of the Jesus Culture movement and Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Johnson, who is considered to have the “apostolic gift,” teaches many doctrines which fall in line with the NOLR (New Order of the Latter Rain Movement) and the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation). A proponent of the Toronto Blessing, Johnson supports individuals such as John G. Lake, Rodney Howard-Browne, and Smith Wigglesworth (the notorious, early 20th century faith-healer known for punching and slapping people with sicknesses as a means of miraculously healing them).

In 2003, Johnson published one of his more popular works, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles (WHIE). Since its publication, tenth anniversary and teen editions have also been released. WHIE, which is claimed to be “a death-blow to cessationism” (21), has received endorsements by individuals such as Randy Clark, Heidi Baker, John Arnott, Ché Ahn, and Todd Bentley.

WHIE features many stories of people attempting to reach out to the lost (e.g. 25-26, 172-173). For that, the book is commendable. As Christians, it’s far too easy to shy away from bringing the love of Christ in word and deed to those in need.

Despite the popularity, however, when compared to Scripture, WHIE’s problems are enormous. The book will be examined in several theological categories to demonstrate this.

  1. Scripture

WHIE misuses numerous passages of Scripture. For example, WHIE completely misses the argument of 1 Corinthians. Johnson argues that the Apostle Paul chose to sway the Corinthians into faith by miracles (91). However, Paul argues for his simple approach of preaching the message of the cross as that which God used to do the greatest supernatural work; conversion (1 Cor. 1:18-31). In a serious misuse of Matthew 11:23, WHIE cites the verse as God’s prophetic promise that miracles performed in sinful cities will cause repentance (123). Perhaps the most error (some of which are detailed in the sections below) comes from Chapter 11 in which an erroneous doctrines of signs and wonders is presented.

bible-06In WHIE, doubt is cast upon the sufficiency of Scripture. Revelation is believed to be ongoing (177). It’s claimed that we have insufficient teaching about Jesus, thus ought to seek additional revelation (178). Though this necessarily demands additional inscripturation and canonicity, WHIE does not address the issue. Personal experience is, in effect, elevated above Scripture (92-93). Johnson recalls an electrocution-like experience, which he insists was from God despite no biblical explanation. To justify it as such, he writes, “All I can say is you just know” (114). Statements such as, “God is bigger than His book,” though catchy-sounding, violate the way in which God chose to reveal himself through Scripture (Ps. 138:2, 2 Pet. 1:20-21). Finally, signs and wonders are taught as what brings people to salvation (120-121). However, Scripture teaches that Scripture is sufficient to convert (Ps. 19:7, Luke 16:31, Rom. 10:17, 2 Tim. 3:15-17).

WHIE pits the Holy Spirit against the Bible by indicating that Scripture is insufficient to discern the voice of God (84). This is a dangerous and false dichotomy which Scripture does not make (cf. Eph. 5:18-19 and Col. 3:16).

When heaven truly invades our lives, we will embrace Scripture alone as the sufficient voice and will of God for life and godliness.

  1. God

WHIE often teaches a view of God which differs from Scripture. At times, he is pictured as a part-time Sovereign. When believers are not in control, then Satan is (154). Things like revival are dependent upon man (161). To enact his plan for redemptive history, God needs man to cooperate. Particularly, he needs people who will muster up enough faith. Man’s exercising himself in faith, then, provides God which much of the fuel he needs to keep his salvation plan moving forward. Miracles are God’s will, but our mental-breakdown strips him of that will (27).

The problems here are numerous. Scripture teaches that God does whatever he pleases, regardless of man (Ps. 115:3, Eph. 1:11). His is a free-will which determines whatsoever he wishes (Ps. 33:11, 135:6). His sovereign plan rules over all of the ebb and flow of man’s desires, whether righteous or wicked (Ps. 33:10; 93). God is never dependent upon man’s cooperation to bring about his will (Ps. 33:10, Rom. 11:34).

WHIE rejects the idea that God decrees affliction for sanctification. “When I have misconceptions of who He is…my faith is restricted by those misconceptions. For example, if I believe that God allows sickness in order to build character, I’ll not have confidence praying in most situations where healing is needed” (45). We might ask Job his opinion on this. Johnson tells the story of a woman who told him that God allowed her sickness for a purpose. He writes, “I told her that if I treated my children that way I’d be arrested for child abuse” (45). As clever as that may sound, this is the kind of reasoning, which, ironically, requires little faith and differs from Scripture. It’s easy to believe in a God who would not want us to suffer; a God who is like us. WHIE risks the sin of Psalm 50: “You thought that I was just like you” (Ps. 50:21). Whether prosperity or calamity, the God of the Bible has decreed it all (Eccles. 7:14), and if we are his children, it will work for good (Rom. 8:28).

When heaven invades our lives, we will glory in the God of the Bible as the Sovereign Lord of the universe who does not need us to assist him in carrying out his will.

Jesus Christ

On occasion, the Jesus taught in WHIE is not the Jesus of Scripture. An incorrect teaching of Christ’s emptying (the kenosis) is put forward. As great as Jesus’ life was, his post-cross doings are superior (178). He merely did miracles as a man (29), which positions WHIE conveniently to insist that we, too, will do miracles, and even more than Christ. It is claimed that Jesus “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. But if He did them as a man, I am responsible to pursue His lifestyle” (29). This becomes the major premise for the book.

Johnson teaches that the name “Jesus Christ means that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit” (79). Scripture gives no credence to this conclusion. Instead, “Christ” is a transliteration of the Greek word, christos, meaning “messiah,” referring to the chosen individual who would fulfill many OT prophecies concerning the salvation of God’s people and establishment of God’s kingdom.

The Holy Spirit

For WHIE, the Holy Spirit is somewhat submissive to the believer. Since we have to learn how to release him (74), he is in semi-subjection. However, this contradicts Scripture, which teaches that the Spirit shares all of the attributes of the Godhead.

WHIE cites a story in which a young man jumped in a car and spontaneously healed an individual’s broken leg (69). Johnson concludes that these kinds of things are the norm for Christians who are obediently following the Holy Spirit.

This belief is a common pneumatological error which differs from the NT. Scripture teaches that to be led by the Spirit will show in the turning from, and putting to death of, sin (Rom. 8:12-14, Gal. 5:16-17). To be led by the Spirit is to see, loathe, confess, and turn from attitudes in the heart and actions in life which lack holiness, and subsequently be transformed into christlikeness. Spirit-filling looks like repenting of personal sin, growth in holiness, and love for the word. Nowhere does the NT instruct believers to perform physical healing so as to be Spirit-led. Additionally, if even the apostolic gifts had not ceased, Scripture teaches that God has given varying gifts to varying Christians (1 Cor. 12:11, 14-18), thus it would be wrong for all to pursue the same gift.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is taught to be a repeated event (72-73). However, Scripture teaches that the Spirit’s baptism is that one-time occasion at salvation (1 Cor. 12:12-13). Upon regeneration, the Holy Spirit comes in entirety to the newly saved individual (Eph. 1:13-14). We do not receive more or less of him, because he is a Person.

WHIE teaches that God’s goal for humanity is the baptism of the Spirit (70-71). If we would pursue this goal, then we would live a more exciting and full life. Again, this departs from Scripture’s teaching. God’s goal in humanity is his own glory (Isa. 48:9-11, Rom. 11:36). If we are speaking in terms of salvation and believers, God’s goal is not that the willing would be baptized of the Spirit, but that the Spirit would regenerate and secure his elect-redeemed so that God would receive the glory which he deserves (Eph. 1:4-6, 13-14).

When heaven invades our lives, we will walk in a sound understanding of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Humanity and the Problem

creationWHIE teaches a version of error known as Dominion Theology. Johnson claims that Genesis chapter one describes the imperfection in the universe, whereby Satan and the demons took dominion of the earth (30). The reason humanity was to subdue the planet was because it “was under the influence of darkness” and those made in God’s image would defeat that darkness (30).

The errors here are significant. First, we learn nothing of Satan, the demons, or creation’s imperfection in the first chapter of Genesis. In fact, we can only conclude that everything was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Second, the darkness present (Gen. 1:2) had nothing to do with Satan’s dominion, but the fact that God’s creative work was in process; he had not yet created light (Gen. 1:3). Seven times the creation is declared good and the chapter ends with God concluding that everything was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). WHIE’s view is a forced interpretation of the text which appears to bolster the unwarranted idea that it is man who is called to conquer Satan.

For WHIE the chief problem of man is that he has forfeited earthly authority to Satan. “Since man was given the keys of dominion over the planet, the devil would have to get his authority from them…It is important to realize that even today [S]atan is empowered through man’s agreement” (31).

Similarly, WHIE downplays the sinful depravity of man. For example, “Many of us have thought that the ability to see into the spiritual realm is more the result of a special gift than an unused potential of everyone…The very fact that [the Pharisees and Saducees] were required to see is evidence that everyone has been given this ability” (43). This contradicts universal depravity (Eph. 2:1-3). For WHIE, evil is far more in things like bars, sickness, and crystal balls (45, 57, 74), than it is the deceitfulness of man’s dead, idolatrous, rebellious heart (Jer. 17:9-10, Mark 7:20-23).

The real problem with humanity, sin, is not discussed at any length. Though the book discusses the power of the Holy Spirit, no real power of the Spirit is needed where depravity is absent. Further, our fallen desires and the flesh cannot tolerate much biblical discussion on sin. It takes the indwelling presence of the true Holy Spirit to enable us to surrender under our sinful indictment and begin addressing our real issue.

When heaven invades our lives in terms of humanity’s great problem, we will humbly embrace that sin is it; that we are depraved in every fiber of our being apart from Christ.

  1. Salvation

Thankfully, WHIE acknowledges that conversion is the greatest miracle (116).

However, it muddies the water of Christ’s salvation work, giving little to no emphasis on the importance of reconciliation to God. The focus on redemption is more about retrieving authority for humanity. “In redeeming man, Jesus retrieved what man had given away” (32). Virtually every anecdotal story focuses on the miracle of some physical healing instead on the greater miracle of justification and regeneration (e.g. 26, 42, 53, 54).

old-rugged-cross-christian-stock-photoAccording to WHIE, Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection were intended to place man in a position of ruling, where we learn to enforce the victory obtained at Calvary here and now (32). Living under grace is taken to mean living a life where the Holy Spirit manifests in miracles in a way that is outside of Scripture (93). WHIE teaches that signs and wonders will bring people to salvation (120-121). Sometimes, miracles were used to bring people to salvation (e.g. John 11:45). Sometimes they were not. Often people remained hardened to Jesus when he did miracles (e.g. John 6:26-27). Miracles are said to provide the grace for conversion (127). While they may be instrumental, it is God’s sovereign decision, not signs and wonders, which bring the grace for conversion (Rom. 9:18, 23).

When it comes to explaining the salvation work of God through Jesus Christ, WHIE errs. This understanding of redemption does not match up with the Bible. When God initiated relationship with Israel, he communicated that the problem was man’s sin, not his loss of earthly authority. God mercifully gave Israel the sacrificial system, not to restore their dominion of personal rule, but to remove their defilement from personal sin (Lev. 1:4, 4:27-31). Humanity’s chief need is not miraculous power, but to have the wrath of God propitiated and an acceptable righteousness granted (Phil. 3:9).

This confusing of the doctrine of salvation is no peripheral issue. The apostle Paul warned that those who muddy the gospel—whether they be an angel or an apostle—are accursed (Gal. 1:8-9).

When heaven invades our lives in salvation, we will understand the gospel; rejoicing in God’s mercy shown by sending Christ as the substitutionary sacrifice who absorbs the wrath due us in hell for eternity.

  1. Sanctification

For WHIE, sanctification centers largely on experiencing miracles. Having become a Christian, the goal becomes walking in signs and wonders. If a Christian is not, then they need to grow; they are not experiencing God’s kind of sanctification. Johnson teaches that pursuing christlike character apart from miraculous healing powers is to not wholeheartedly follow Christ (107). Christlike character cannot be obtained unless the Christian pursues miracles (108). But we are hard-pressed to conclude that many rejected teachings as those in WHIE, such as most of the Reformers and Puritans, for example, were not wholeheartedly following Christ.

32-goldencalf1Johnson recounts a time when he personally brought a friend in moral compromise with a “prophetic anointing” and a large ministry under discipline (109). The discipline consisted of Johnson personally restricting him from “giving prophetic words.” However, “after several months,” Johnson concluded that he needed to release “him to prophesy again” in order to further his godliness. This evidences a skewed view of sanctification.

WHIE misses Scripture’s teaching on the process of Christian maturity and growth. It fails to address Scripture’s emphasis on idols and cravings from the human heart (Jas. 4:1-2). Repentance of personal sin, not expressing physical healing, is the great manifestation of the Spirit’s power, and that which gets God’s attention (Ps. 51:17, Isa. 66:2).

Further, Johnson correctly mentions that what constitutes living is being citizens of another world. However, the NT teaches that what constitutes being citizens of another world is not miraculous healing powers, but personal godliness. When heaven invades our lives in sanctification, we will strive for personal holiness, humbly and diligently searching and seeing ungodly idolatry in our lives, repent of it, and grow in humble surrender under the lordship of Christ.

  1. Faith and Prayer

WHIE misunderstands faith. Johnson writes, “Faith is the currency of heaven” (48). The more faith we have, the more goods we can buy down. “Faith is the mirror of the heart that reflects the realities of an unseen world—the actual substance of His Kingdom” (43). Ambiguous statements like this sound more New Age than biblical.

How exactly we begin to exercise faith is not explained. We are left to assume that it’s something we must resolve to exert from within. “Through the prayer of faith we are able to pull the reality of His world into this one. That is the function of faith” (43). “Faith actualizes what it realizes.” (43)

Johnson understands faith as believing that we can coerce God to lift the hard things from our lives with signs and wonders. For WHIE, faith is better termed something like “trust-lacking coercion,” for biblical faith does not reject and cast out struggle, it surrenders to it as from the hand of a good, sovereign God. While God may do a miracle, and we ought to pray that he would, biblical faith differs significantly from that of WHIE. In terms of sanctification and trials, faith is an active trust in the character and sovereign purposes of God, regardless of circumstances. It strives to maintain humble obedience to Scripture. Further, far less faith is needed to call out for relief from suffering than to submit to God and say, “Father, Your will be done.”

Faith & Material Possessions

your-will-be-done_31It is assumed that, should one have enough faith, the material abundance in heaven would be the standard for the Christian’s material prosperity (58). We are to personally expect an economy of heaven since we represent it (65). By that assumption, the Apostle Paul must have seriously erred in his understanding of faith and possessions. At the conclusion of his life, he seems to lack even sufficient clothing in his jail cell (2 Tim. 4:13). Jesus and John the Baptist (considered by Christ as the greatest man, Luke 7:28), also, must have failed to understand this as the biblical standard for material possessions on earth (Matt. 3:4, 8:20).

Though not likely the intention, this teaching on possessions is subtle cruelty towards God’s people in material desperation. For example, impoverished believers would be forced to conclude that their circumstances were the result of insufficient faith to claim authority over heaven’s resources. One shudders at idea of telling that, for example, to parents of children with nothing in an impoverished nation working hard to provide.

It is simply grave error to teach that great miracles follow great faith. Many who experienced great miracles exercised no faith. For example, Lazarus was the object of a resurrection miracle, but was already dead (John 11:44). The same goes for Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:41-42, 50-56). The Apostle Paul, a man of great faith and trust in Christ, was constantly bombarded with suffering (2 Cor. 6:4-10, 11:23-27). On one occasion, he repeatedly begged God to remove the suffering, to no avail (2 Cor. 12:8). Was it because he had insufficient faith? Quite the contrary. Christ decreed his suffering so that he would grow in personal godliness (2 Cor. 12:9-10). We might also reference contemporary believers suffering greatly. For example, we could hardly conclude that the reason Joni Eareckson Tada continues in her paralysis, and other suffering, is due to insufficient faith in God.

WHIE’s paradigm of faith simply does not fit with that of Scripture. When heaven invades our lives, we will exercise greatest faith by humbly submitting to the sovereignty of God in whatever suffering and struggle he brings.


Prayer is largely taught as the believer’s exercise of authority in heaven to bring down miracles upon earth. “Again, through prayer we are to exercise the authority given to us” (58). WHIE erroneously teaches that the phrase, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” means that the praying Christian permits heaven to unleash certain power.

This contradicts Scripture’s teaching. Instead, prayer is the believer assuming, not an authoritative, but submissive posture towards God and heaven. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-8, Paul assumed a posture of complete submission to the lordship of Christ. Even Christ assumed a submissive position in prayer. Instead of claiming an alternative redemptive plan with authority, he says, “…yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). In Christian prayer, the believer draws near to God through the Person of Christ, praising and thanking him, while asking for things (and even fervently), yet not in authority, but submission to God’s sovereign plan.

  1. The Spiritual Gifts

In teaching that the apostolic gifts have continued, WHIE propagates a view which differs from Scripture. At the time of its writing, Johnson prophesied that a current revival was one in which over one billion souls will be saved and stadiums will be filled with people 24 hours a day, experiencing miracles beyond number (182). And, much of WHIE’s justification for its methods are anecdotal and pragmatic. Stories are recounted of an individual receiving physical healing, with a conclusion where the reader is encouraged to do and do likewise. However, no follow-up with the healed individual is cited so as to provide objective medical evidence.

Citing Habakkuk 3:2-4 as justification, WHIE claims, “The hand that are surrendered to God can release the power of heaven into a situation. In the spirit world, it is released like lightning” (58). Not only is this a misuse of Habakkuk 3, but no such thing is taught regarding believer’s spiritual gifts in the NT.

Johnson argues that believers would not arrive at a cessationist position through studying Scripture (94). However, throughout church history, God’s people have discerned this truth from Scripture.

Finally, behavioral excesses, attributed to the Spirit, are acceptable. “Excess has never brought an end to revival…I pay no attention to the warnings of possible excess from those who are satisfied with lack” (179). Thus, out-of-control, and biblically unwarranted, behaviors such as drunkenness in the Spirit, Spirit-barking, Spirit-laughing, and slayings in the Spirit are, in effect, given the green light. However, one of the most gifted individuals in Christian history, the Apostle Paul, rebuked such beliefs about the Holy Spirit: “But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner” (1 Cor. 14:40). “The fruit of the Spirit is…self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).

When heaven invades our lives in the realm of giftedness, we will be content to use our spiritual gifts in zeal and humility, though they differ from those of the Apostles. 

  1. The Church and the Kingdom

t1larg-pulpitWHIE teaches that the “Kingdom is here and now” (38). This explains much of the reason behind the insistence on the believer’s pursuit of signs and wonders. The mission of the church is to perform miraculous works of power. Those who experience this gospel are to then unleash the power of miracles into the lives of others (33). WHIE claims that, in being “given the keys to the Kingdom,” we have the “authority to trample over all the powers of hell” (33). But that is a significant misunderstanding of what Jesus taught in Matthew 16:19.

WHIE indicates that Kingdom blessings can be earned through works. “The presence of the Kingdom saves the lives of people who have not earned it through personal obedience” (169). However, Scripture teaches that kingdom entrance is received through the sovereign grace of God by the new birth of the Spirit (John 3:3).

After a brief explanation of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Johnson describes a time when he commanded the healing of a man’s partial paralysis (42). The conclusion seems to be that those who respond correctly to Christ’s sermon will experience and unleash physically miraculous powers. But this is a misunderstanding of the Sermon on the Mount. Christ’s purpose was to show that God’s moral requirements are devastatingly high, and, therefore, entirely unachievable for humanity. Christ clarified that God’s moral standards are total perfection (Matt. 5:48), so that we would understand our utterly depraved state (Matt. 5:3-4), despair of our ability to live the kingdom ethic, and cast ourselves on Christ.

  1. End Times

WHIE teaches an over-realized eschatology. Johnson claims that, “Many, if not most, theologians, make the mistake of taking all the good stuff contained in the prophets and sweeping it under that mysterious rug called, the Millennium” (34). In effect, Johnson claims that one thing wrong with the church is that, due to the belief that many of God’s eschatological promises are yet future, we fail to claim those promises in the present. Despite this massive claim, WHIE does not take the time to back it up biblically. Further, Johnson significantly misrepresents the Millennial view with statements such as, “A cornerstone in this theology is that the condition of the Church will always be getting worse” (34).

Further, WHIE discourages believers from anticipating heaven and the Lord’s return. Excessive desire for Christ’s second coming can, Johnson claims, squelch a revival (161). Similarly, WHIE bears its misunderstanding of God’s salvation plan with statements such as, “To want Jesus to come back now is to sentence billions to people to hell forever” (161). However, Scripture indicates that, regardless of what one wants, God will not lose one of his elect, with or without revival (John 6:39, 2 Pet. 3:9).

WHIE seems to impatiently force its desire for heavenly conditions upon a cursed, unheavenly earth. Heaven will invade earth. And when it does, the exalted Christ will not bring heaven here, but dispose of this current cursed earth (2 Pet. 3:7), and re-create an entirely new, pristine heavens and earth where the curse will be forever gone (Rev. 21:1-8). And it will not happen by our coercion of God, but according to his wise, sovereign plan.

When heaven invades our lives in reference to the end times, we will grow in a humble anticipation of the future fulfillment of the kingdom of God (2 Tim. 4:8).

Misused Arguments

strawman2Finally, WHIE pulls out some of the unfortunate, erroneous arguments to counter those who disagree with their teaching.

First, the “Pharisee” argument. On multiple occasions, Johnson sets up a straw man, claiming that his opponents are like the Pharisees. This is nothing new, as it seems every biblical error is justified by the Pharisee fear-factor. But this will not do. The Pharisees were rebuked because they assumed that their works were efficacious in right standing with God. They praised themselves for the righteous works they did (Luke 18:9-12). Ironically, WHIE veers dangerously close to doing the same in regards to the numerous miracle claims.

Second, the “over-intellectual” argument. WHIE almost forces readers to embrace their position by playing the “it’s-more-than-we-can-understand” card (76). In effect, the argument goes, “If you disagree with this position, it’s because you are depending too much on understanding.” Johnson writes, “Anything that doesn’t make sense to their rational mind is automatically in conflict with Scripture” (47).

In essence, it says, “I do not want to do the hard work of ‘accurately dividing the word of truth’ (2 Tim. 2:15) and humbly and objectively compare my teachings to Scripture. So, to keep my views, I will, again, play the ‘it’s-bigger-than-our-intellect’ card.” Certainly, God is bigger than our intellect. However, he has decided to reveal himself in normal human language in a logical way through Scripture. Scripture is understandable. If something contradicts Scripture, we are not to say, “Well, it’s just more than we can understand, but let’s go with it anyways.” We are to say, “We must examine these things from Scripture to see if they be so. If Scripture teaches X, but this teaches Y, I must go with X, so as to maintain faith and trust in the God of Scripture.” That requires faith. And it’s the exact approach which is commended of believers in Acts 17:11. In that passage, those who examined Scripture, reasoned from Scripture, and re-aligned their beliefs to Scripture, were saved (Acts 17:12). Therefore, WHIE’s argument is amiss.

Third, the “this-understanding-of-the-Holy-Spirit-discomforts-me” argument (83). WHIE claims that opponents to their view simply fear these movements of the Spirit. On the one hand, nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone in some physical suffering would delight to see healing. And, those true movements of the Spirit—seeing, loathing, mourning, and turning from sin—are far more uncomfortable than experiencing physical healing. Further, even if some do fear the Spirit, no human can stand in the way of God’s will. On the other hand, these actions should be feared since they are not grounded in Scripture.


It’s understandable why so many in our day have loved this book. It’s a book from our culture and for our culture. Instead of focusing on humanity’s real problem of sin, the focus is the fallen appeal to the sensational. It appeals to the human desire for more; to be something greater, experience something greater, and do something greater. No doubt, that’s the spirit of the age. And as Christians, there is a sense in which we should long for those things.

8786829_f520However, the greater proposed by WHIE differs radically from that of Scripture. We are, and will, experience something greater through God’s sovereign plan in the Person and work of the biblical Christ. It will be something greater than that suggested in WHIE. The greater is the God of the Bible; our loving, sovereign Lord who we are privileged to worship. The god of WHIE is something lesser; akin to a genie who we summon for a miracle and emotional arousal.

With all of the claims to exercise big faith, WHIE, ironically, puts forward a belief system which requires little faith and little Spirit. More faith is required to walk through suffering in surrendered sanctification before God than in claiming a healing-promise from God. Learning to rejoice when the fig tree does not blossom requires supernatural faith. Wrestling in thought and prayer with Scripture necessitates much faith.

Like the first century Jews, WHIE has a demeanor of demanding signs (1 Cor. 1:22). However, as the Apostle exhorted us, it’s best if the church continues to preach Christ crucified (1 Cor. 1:23). WHIE claims that their view is opposed due to offense (85). However, those of the WHIE persuasion are often the most offended when sin and repentance are preached. The more the cross is exposited, the more they stumble; the more Christ-crucified is preached, the less interested they are. They want more, but are missing the most. To precede the command to preach the word, the Apostle Paul laid out the most solemn preface in the NT (2 Tim. 4:1-2). He did not follow the solemn warning with, “Do miracles,” but, “Preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2).

The popularity of books like this evidence how far contemporary Christianity has drifted from Scripture. We have wafted a long ways from the most fundamental and essential truths of the Christian faith, such as the doctrine of God, man, Christ, and salvation. Sadly, the book, When Heaven Invades Earth, is a stark reminder. WHIE is filled with intriguing miracle-stories and clever illustrations to support its teaching, but its approach to the Christian life is far more supported by stories than Scripture. Even so, heaven has invaded earth. The result is the Spirit-inspired, inerrant 66 books of Scripture by which this kind of error is discerned and sinners can be saved so as to walk in the truth. Despite the title, the book brings very little of the true heaven to earth. Consequently, this book should be avoided by God’s people.

Eric Davis

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Eric is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008. Leslie is his wife of 14 years and mother of their 3 children.
  • Thanks Eric, super helpful!

  • Thanks for your work on this Eric. Very helpful.

  • Harry Court

    Eric, you’ve identified some critical theological issues. And I agree. But ‘one-line’ responses are insufficient.
    For example: Point 5 Salavation. “WHIE teaches that signs and wonders will bring people to salvation (120-121). However, Scripture teaches numerous occasions to the contrary. Often people remained hardened to Jesus when he did miracles (e.g. John 6:26-27).”

    Yet John 3 Nicodemus interest – affirms the contrary; Lazarus resurrection Jn 11:45 some Jews believed others didn’t. Jn 10:25 predestined sheep believe the miracles others will never acknowledge Jesus divinity.

    Let me rephrase what I think WHIE people are on about. They don’t see the Supernatural as a fascination but critical to the gospel being presented as in the gospels.

    Yes they love the 66 books – believe in sin and salvation. But (I also think and could be wrong) WHIE people look at Hebrews 2:4 and believe that the unsaved will never enter a church, never respond to a preacher, have a solid darkened mindset that the Bible, Church, Christianity is irrelevant old out of date and Jesus if he existed was a nice teacher etc etc.

    WHIE people (I think) believe that some of the unsaved will only respond to the gospel, when God testifies to it by signs, wonders, healing and a miracle – thereby verifying the message and wiping away a mindset and causing a possible response (Yes the HS would draw them to Christ, repenting of sin etc.) like ….(Mk 1 new teaching with authority).

    • Eric Davis

      Thank you for the comments, Harry. That’s a good point and I will make some slight adjustments there.

  • Raideragent

    Excellent resource, thank you so much for taking the time to write this. It’s extremely helpful and to the point. Bart McCurdy

  • Karl Heitman

    Eric, thanks for this very thoughtful and thorough review. Charismatic theology is far more dangerous than most of us even realize. This is always such a cause for conflict because it’s become so mainstream. So, I appreciate men like you who care enough about souls to write things like this. Keep fightin’ “the good fight,” brother!

    • Eric Davis

      Thank you, Karl. Hope you are doing well in the Lord.

      • Trenna

        My heart breaks for the division the church tries to create with each other! Sometimes we have to twist scripture to make it what WE want because OUR earthly minds can’t comprehend it! My heart Is sickened by the teachings of this church to cause such division! God bless you Eric! I pray god gives you a radical encounter with his Holy Spirit so you may operate fully in your calling HE has so graciously died for you to have! God bless you and may UNITY be formed in your heart for your brothers and sisters in Christ VERSES division to prove youre right and their wrong! I Love you my brother! I pray for you and all those you lead! ❤️

        • Jane Hildebrand

          Excuse me, but did you just say that we have to twist scripture to make it say what we want because our earthly minds can’t comprehend it? Please tell me you’re joking.

          That kind of thinking is exactly why there IS division in the church because unity based upon the need to twist scripture is rooted in error! That is how cults are born. A radical encounter with the Holy Spirit will teach you that.

        • JB Park

          Dear Trena,

          I will never ever unite myself with someone who will twist my beloved savior’s words that saved me, that rejuvinates me, that shows me grace, that helps me love my local Church, and that helps me grow in Christlikeness and Love for Him. And i will always advise to do the same for anyone I care about deeply. And how can I, a human or any human decide where to twist and not to twist from a holy and perfect Word from God Himself? Nowhere in scripture does it command us to do that! The contrary God calls us to not add or take away (Revelations 22:19) God saids His word is sufficient for all thing (2 Tim 3:16-17.) so why should ever decide to twist it when we know it’s sufficient? And God calls us to watch out because the people that want to tickle our ears are approaching (2tim. 4:3)

          So why not just turn a blind eye and just unify ourselves with them and just link hands… well first God commands my Pastor to call out False Teachers for His flock (Rom. 16:17-18, 2 tim. 4:1-5, col. 2:8, 2 cor 11:13-15) my pastor has a Job of shepherding (1Peter 5:2.) and My Pastor is revealing to me and everyone else the disunity “they” are causing going back to Romans 16:17-18 “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” They are causing contrary teachings to the Truths of teaching so therefore God commands us to stay away from them.
          Lastly dear sister if you do write back please use scripture to back up your words because mans word are full of error. I would love to be corrected by my dear Lord and savior so that I may love him more through his infallable words but not from men’s word that deceive and tear apart or their doctrine because 2 Tim 3:1-9. Prayed for you, that you will see we are the ones not creating disunity and that is not our goal anyways to be all unified the goal of our Church is to make disciples, that will observe all that Christ has taught and not man.

        • Eric Davis

          Hi Trenna – thank you for commenting. I know that this is a tricky issue & I appreciate your love & prayers. I need it!

          I assure you that the desire here is actually to build greater unity & build up more. The reason God commands us to identify error precisely so that more unity would be established as people are built up.

          The concerns that it is divisive & unloving to challenge our beliefs from Scripture (& say that something is wrong) are a bit off. If that is true, then Jesus was sinfully divisive a lot (& Paul). And, by that logic, your comment is actually quite divisive & unloving itself.

          However, if our understanding of God & his word is off, then that is where the disunity is; we have a division from the Spirit in that sense. Unity is built when we come more & more under the word of God. So, when encouraging ourselves to re-examine our beliefs from Scripture (Acts 17:11, something Scripture encourages), we are hoping to bring greater unity to the body of Christ & to build up more the body of Christ. To be built up (or unite in Christ) happens as we grow in the knowledge & application of the word (Eph 4:12-15), not simply tolerating differing views.

          I hope that makes sense.

          • Karl Heitman

            What a gracious and loving reply, brother.

            “Unity is built when we come more & more under the word of God.” 100 amens. Just yesterday, I was in a discussion with a Methodist and a Charismatic about the folly of saying “my theology,” “your theology,” or “his/her theology,” implying that all theology is subjective and up in the air. All the Methodist could do was cite the “Book of Discipline” and all the Charismatic could do was talk about how offensive John MacArthur’s cessationism offended him (referring to Strange Fire). There was no chapter and verse to be concerned with whatsoever. So, it’s really no wonder why there are countless denominations on the rise (Matt 16:4). There seems to be that innate desire in men to demand more than what God’s Word has revealed. Hence, the widespread disunity.

            Press on, bro. When I grow up, I hope to be a pastor like you. 🙂