Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Exposing Bette Stevens


The following exposé is intended as a warning to Christians about Bette Stevens and her ministry and teaching. I sincerely pray that those who have been victimized by the religious spirit of condemnation and fear operating through her will be set free and healed. 

There is no Christian omertà 

Omertà is an Italian word for the code of silence employed by members of the Mafia. Under this code, men do not interfere in the illegal, nefarious activities of others and do not ever cooperate with authorities or speak to them. Within the Mafia culture, breaking omertà is punishable by death. As the Sicilian proverb states, "He who is deaf, blind and silent will live a hundred years in peace.”

There is no such thing as Christian omertà. There is no code of silence concerning dark deeds and false doctrines in the Lord’s house. On the contrary, we are commanded to expose them:

Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them.” – Ephesians 5:11

Leaders in the church are to be rebuked publicly, just as the Apostle Paul did with the Apostle Peter when he stood aloof from the Gentile believers:

Publicly rebuke those [elders] who sin, so that the rest will also be afraid.” – 1 Timothy 5:20

To be silent about sin and false teaching in the name of keeping peace, or to accuse people of gossip, slander or disunity when they are sincerely trying to expose works of darkness, is to assist the devil in his coverup. 

Background 

Bette Stevens and her husband John are leaders of a ministry called Victorious Vision Church. Bette claims to be a pastor and prophetess ordained by a man named Patrick Kirk who claims to be an apostle (more on this later). She specializes in “deliverance ministry” and prophetic visions. I do not know Bette personally, but I have read and heard some of her messages and have witnessed the harmful effects of her ministry on others. 

Doctrines of Condemnation and Fear

I think the best way to explain this is to just share my story.

My friend James Chance exposed me to Bette Stevens. James manages a Christian blog and online forum called “jcsouthwest,” where for a long time I participated in the online community. James has a heart for ministry and regularly creates posts with Scriptures and illustrative graphics. For most of this year my wife and I also had regularly Skype sessions with James for conversation and Bible study that we enjoyed.

James knew Bette and John Stevens and had participated in Bible studies, calls and phone conferences they hosted. Bette’s videos and messages were posted in the jcsouthwest forum. I watched a little of her videos about end-times prophecies and teaching, but something about her tone and presentation disturbed me. In one video in particular about the Mandela Effect, she seemed fearful and hysterical. Fear and hysteria are not fruits of the Holy Spirit. This turned me off, but I thought, well, maybe it’s a personality conflict, maybe I’m being too critical. I know I can be that way sometimes.

In hindsight I was sensing something deeper. When I am around people or places with a demonic influence or presence, I sometimes feel deeply disturbed and agitated and intuitively know dark spirits are operating there. It happened twice in the last week, for example. The first time was when my wife and I met with a counselor at a local junior high school. The counselor was kind of cold and the conversation was discouraging and didn’t fully make sense. I experienced that disturbing, uncomfortable feeling and knew there was a spirit influencing this person to discourage us. The other time was in a small, privately owned bookstore. I felt darkness there and quickly left the store because I don’t like to be around demons if I don’t have to. Discernment of spirits is a spiritual gift from the Lord (see 1 Corinthians 12:10).

I first started noticing problems when James’ posts and comments became more condemning, harsh and perfectionist. One post was entitled “Many Professing Christians Are in Hell” and showed the terrified face of a man burning in hellfire and a woman falling backward into flames. Many of his statements were true, but the tone lacked mercy and hope, and not everything was true. He said that future sins not are covered when we believe in Jesus Christ, and that we need to confess and ask forgiveness for each and every sin to be forgiven of it. This implies we are continually bobbing in and out of the grace of God, and if we happen to die at the wrong moment after committing a sin, to hell we go. Is God’s faithfulness to his children really that fickle? This is what the Scriptures say:

For by a single offering he [Christ] has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:14

This means Christ’s one sacrifice covers our sins for all time – past, present and future – for we who are being sanctified. Please hear me carefully, because I am not saying we don’t have to repent of sins, grow in our faith and remain steadfast in our faith to the end. That’s all true. For a full response to this issue, please see the recent post: 


In another post called “The Great Falling Away,” James featured the verse in Hebrews 6 about those who have fallen away from the faith. It’s a sobering verse, yet the author of Hebrews ended it on an encouraging, hopeful note:

Even though we are speaking this way, dear friends, in your case we are confident of the better things connected with salvation. For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His name when you served the saints—and you continue to serve them. Now we want each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the final realization of your hope.” – Hebrews 6:9-11

But James left out that part of the scripture and ended his quote by highlighting the prior verse:

But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and about to be cursed, and will be burned at the end.” – Hebrews 6:8

In other words, James focused on the fear of punishment in hell and neglected the hope, salvation, mercy and fairness of God.

He had also said we need to examine ourselves daily to check for unconfessed sin. It’s this idea of continually gazing inward and obsessing over whether we might have sinned here or there. This is not healthy and leads to a paralyzing introspection. The Scriptures say our eyes are supposed to be on Jesus, not on ourselves. It’s the Lord who reveals what we need to repent of and correct. In fact, the Apostle Paul said he does NOT examine himself:

But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 4:3-4

So, I watched James make a this turn toward doctrines and images of condemnation and fear. When my wife saw these posts, she asked what was wrong with James and cancelled her subscription to his blog. She is a counselor who specializes in treating trauma victims and understood readily how damaging this stuff is, especially for emotionally wounded people trying to heal. God does not intend for us to live in fear and condemnation:

There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear.” – 1 John 4:18a, Holman

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1, NIV

At that point, I began to gently challenge him on what he was saying. 

Witchcraft

I also noticed that James deferred to Bette Stevens as an authority on God. Both in person and on his blog, James justified viewpoints by referencing Bette and saying she taught those things. That seemed strange to me. For Christians, the only authorities for God’s truth are the Bible and the Holy Spirit. I wondered what this influence was?

Eventually I felt the Lord wanted me to re-listen to a sermon by Derek Prince on witchcraft:


Prince defined witchcraft as controlling or influencing people by any other spirit than the Holy Spirit, and said it goes on in the church more than you think.

After pondering all of this for a while, my wife and I went to the Lord one evening to ask a specific question: Is Bette influencing James with a spirit of witchcraft? My wife has an unusual gift of “randomness” where we ask God a question and she randomly opens the page of thesaurus or Bible and it is amazing how what appears speaks to the question, though it requires interpretation.

The first word we received was “nocturnal,” meaning “of the night” or “darkling.” This was about Bette. The second word was “non-believer,” which was also about Bette. At this point, I began to feel a bit sick to my stomach. I knew something was wrong, but did not think it was this wrong. I also knew that I would have to speak to James. Another word was “non-stop,” which I believe speaks to the nature of the spirit we are dealing with here. I later came to understand that this is a religious spirit of condemnation and fear operating in Bette and influencing James. This spirit drives people into a frenzied, almost manic, “non-stop” state of religious activity – out of fear that if they rest or stop they will surely be condemned to hell. What a contrast to the rest that the true God of heaven offers to his people:

Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His.” – Hebrews 4:9-10

From picks in the Bible, we received Deuteronomy 28, which is about the blessings for obeying the Lord’s commands and the curses for disobeying Him. If we obey Him, we receive His blessings. If instead we obey a religious spirit not of Him, we will disobey the Lord and receive curses. We also received a reference to 1 Kings 11 about Athaliah, a female descendant Jezebel in Israel who usurped power through murder and intrigue. This was also about Bette and showed a Jezebel spirit operating in her, which would explain her strange influence over James as a man.

And we received a reference to Song of Solomon 5 about the beloved yearning to find her lover at night, but the city watchmen assaulted her and took away her cloak:

I opened for my darling, but my darling had turned and gone. My heart had failed me when he spoke — I sought him, but I couldn’t find him; I called him, but he didn’t answer. The watchmen roaming the city found me; they beat me, they wounded me; they took away my cloak, those guardians of the walls!” – Song of Solomon 5:6-7, Complete Jewish Bible

Song of Solomon is a poetic metaphor about the relationship between the beloved, who is the bride representing the saints, and lover, who is the groom representing Jesus Christ. I believe this passage portrayed James as a sincere believer being victimized by a nefarious watchman. It is profound that the attackers are described as “watchmen,” which is the role Bette appears to play as a prophetess.

I was shocked and sickened by all this – both the severity of it and how strong the confirmations were. I knew I had to warn James and called him the next morning.  I talked about dark influences from Bette – not the specifics of our confirmation – and encouraged him toward messages of hope and redemption. He listened but ended up rejecting the warning.

The same day, I saw a message from Bette Stevens that James had posted on his blog. She described a voice that twice said “Burn, baby, burn,” and called her into a vision about a nuclear attack on America. “O My God….. Why????? Why Lord???????” she cried. It was clear to me that was not the Holy Spirit speaking, but a false spirit. God is just and He judges mightily, but He is not a mocking madman who delights in burning everything to the ground. The Jesus I know would not say, “Burn, baby, burn,” about a nuclear holocaust in America. That sounds like the sadistic Joker in the movie “The Dark Knight.” This word from Bette confirmed what the Lord showed us the night before. She is under the influence of a false spirit. I left a comment questioning the source of Bette’s word, but James deleted it. 

Religious Spirit of Condemnation and Fear 

There were more back-and-forth emails with James, and he left some comments on his blog that I felt were directed at me. Anyway, the bottom line was we were at an impasse. He thought those teachings and Bette’s ministry were from God, and I believed they are false and a deception. I sensed the Lord tell me to back away and so I did. I had stated clearly that the core problem was this religious spirit of condemnation and fear which needed to be dealt with.

Incidentally, I came down with a strange, energy-draining virus for about 3 weeks while confronting this spirit. It took a lot of rest and prayer to shake it, but praise God He delivered me.

In the midst of the confrontation, I also experienced a moment of doubt, because I felt like I was going way out on a limb. So I asked God if I was on the right track. Do you know what He said to me? He said, “Am I not leading you?” What else could I say to that but, yes, You are.

In the wake of this, the Lord moved me to read through the New Testament epistles with this question in mind: What is salvation? It was very helpful to clarify and refine my beliefs on matters related to salvation and what it means to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. The following two posts came out of my study: 


During the time I was working on that study, I heard a song on the radio that I felt confirmed what was in my mind about how fear & condemnation drives people away from God. The song was "I Will Follow You into the Dark" by Death Cab for Cutie. One of the lyrics says: "In Catholic school, as vicious as Roman rule, I got my knuckles bruised, by a lady in black. I held my tongue, as she told me, son, fear is the heart of love, so I never went back."

Several weeks passed and James reached out to me in a short email. It was nice and conciliatory, though vague considering the very specific issues I had raised with him. I glanced at his recent posts and they seemed more gracious and merciful. Perhaps he was softening? So I asked if he wanted to catch up via Skype sometime. I also left a brief comment on his blog. Shortly thereafter he left more hell-burner comments, such as: “You will indeed go to hell by knowingly sinning and not asking for forgiveness!” It was uncanny those popped up when I showed up again. Then he quickly put up two more posts with condemning tones and messages. There was that frenzied religious spirit again. 

Prophecy contradicts the Bible 

At this point, the Lord put it on my heart to expose Bette Stevens publicly. That is why I am writing this.

I read Bette's book “Redeemed from Hell!!” in which she claims she was taken into hell and given a personal tour by Jesus Christ. The book was disturbing and clashed with my spirit. Since when does Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who sits at the right hand of the Father, descend into hell to give the living personal tours of that spiritual prison? Many of the people Bette said she encountered in hell were professing Christians! What a sinister message of condemnation. Eerily, it contained the same harsh, emphatic tone and condemning messages that I experienced with James. Because it was the same spirit.

Bette said “Jesus” took her to the Lake of Fire - in hell - and it contained people who committed the most serious sins, including "arrogance," "blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" and, ironically, "religious and controlling spirits." But there is a problem with Bette’s account when compared with the Scriptures. According to Revelation 20, human spirits are not sent to the lake of fire until Judgment Day, which is after the end of this age and after Christ’s 1,000-year reign on earth. Then, at the judgment of the great white throne, even death and hell, as well as Satan and his angels, are thrown into the lake of fire. According to Revelation 14, the lake of fire exists "in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb."  So, the lake of fire is not in hell and there is no one in it yet – not until Judgment Day (except for the beast and false prophet who are taken there at the end of this age, but that hasn’t happened yet either). Bette’s description of hell contradicts the Bible.

I asked God if Bette's message was from Him, and this is what I heard in my heart: "Would I contradict My own word?"

No, He would not.

On John and Bette's web page, their biography states they were ordained as ministers by their "Apostle and Overseer, Brother Patrick Kirk." I did an Internet search on this man and could find hardly anything about him, except for skimpy Facebook and LinkedIn pages. On his ministry website, the "About" section only contains some pictures of frilly handbags with Jewish graphics that he sells:


There is only one prophecy on his website from 2014, in which Kirk said God addressed him as "Warrior General" and told him of an "impending annihilation" where the US government was going to lace our food supply with cyanide and arsenic. Then he gave an email for an infomercial that sells survivalist books.

That does not pass the smell test. Who is this man and who gave him the lofty title of apostle? What church or organization ordained him? His resume said he pastored a church for two years in the 1980s. I don’t see hardly anyone associated with him except John and Bette. He said God addressed him as “Warrior General.” The same God who addressed Abraham, Moses and Jeremiah by their names and called the Prophet Ezekiel “son of man,” calls Patrick Kirk “Warrior General?” I don’t think so. Maybe the Archangel Michael, maybe, but not a mere mortal.

I’m sorry, but this looks suspicious and bizarre.

I pray that anyone who has been harmed by Bette Stevens’ false prophecies and messages of condemnation and fear will be set free and healed. God loves us and his commitment to us is not fickle and fleeting:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.” – John 10:27-28

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Do Christians Have to Confess Each and Every Sin for God to Forgive Them?


I want to respond to someone who recently said:

“You will indeed go to hell by knowingly sinning and not asking for forgiveness!”

And:

“We are not saved from future sin. We must repent of all sin, even after we have been baptized by the Holy Spirit.”

I need to respond carefully because I believe the truth threads a line between the cheap grace taught by many American churches and perfectionist doctrines of condemnation that make it seem almost no one is going to heaven.

Let’s start with the fundamentals:

  • Our salvation is by faith in the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
  • The purpose of salvation is to reconcile us to God and present us holy and blameless before Him.
  • Our salvation will be complete when Christ returns in glory. In the meantime, we go through a process of sanctification, i.e. learning to walk in God’s righteousness and power.
  • God wants us to always be growing in our faith. If we are growing, then our faith is solid.
  • Saving faith endures to the end.

For more details, please see my recent posts about what the Bible says about salvation:


The comment above said we are not saved from future sin, but this is not what the Scriptures say:

For by a single offering he [Christ] has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” – Hebrews 10:14

This means Christ’s one sacrifice covers our sins for all time – past, present and future – for we who are being sanctified. One offering, all time, period.

And we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.” – Galatians 2:16

We are justified by faith in Christ and His sacrifice alone makes us worthy. To say we have to confess or ask forgiveness for each and every sin to be forgiven is to add a work of the law to Christ’s sacrifice and attempt to be justified by works. Please hear me carefully, because I am not saying we don’t have to repent of sins, grow in our faith and remain steadfast in our faith to the end. That’s all true.

Acknowledging our sins is part of repentance, but the specific idea of confessing each sin in order to be forgiven is like offering a mini-sacrifice to earn God's mercy. This contradicts the Bible's teaching about Jesus' once-for-all-time sacrifice. This view of confession probably comes from a misinterpretation of 1 John 1:

If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:8-9

This passage about being saved, as in believing in Jesus Christ. A person can only be saved if he first admits to being a sinner and needing God’ forgiveness. If we say we have no sin, then the truth is not in us and we are not saved. However, if we are saved, we have the Holy Spirit and the truth is in us, because Christ is the truth. Therefore, this verse is directed to non-believers. It is not about a believer's sanctification. The subsequent verses about Jesus as our advocate and propitiation pertains to believers:

"My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He Himself is the propitiation for our sins." - 1 John 2:1-2a

Again, I am not saying it’s okay to sin, but the idea of losing our salvation every time we slip, as if we are continually bobbing in and out of the grace of God, is not true. God’s love and commitment to us is not so fickle:

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:13

Therefore, this idea that Christ’s sacrifice does not cover future sin is a false doctrine that brings condemnation and fear.