I recently read an article from Lifeway 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!
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 3, 2020, entitled, “Focus On The Fruit,” he talks about Jesus’ presence. Here is what he said:
“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 says, “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” 1 Corinthians 6:16 says, “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.
When Jesus left and went back to Heaven, the disciples waited for the promise of Jesus for the Holy Spirit to indwell them. It happens in Acts 2:2, “When the day of Pentecost arrived … 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 it 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.
If God were energy, that means that God and the energy in you makes you God. 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.
Why Pastor Steven referred to God as “energy,” I don’t know. The Bible says in John 4:23, “God is Spirit and we who worship him must worship him in Spirit and truth.”
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.
In Christianity, God is the eternal being who created and preserves all things. He is both transcendent and immanent.
In Pastor Steven’s analysis of God, he concludes with this, “that means He (God) can visit and inhabit anywhere we choose to give Him praise.”
The Bible affirms this concept in Psalm 22:3, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel.”
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:
1. He inaccurately defines who God is.
2. His inaccurate definition of God wrongly applies the characteristics of God.
3. It forms a sense that God is the energy people need to get through the day.
4. 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.
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 follow him.
Pastor Steven’s teachings 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 redefined by nonbiblical words for us to experience Him as spirit and truth.
God needs pastors and teachers to simply proclaim Him with words 100% of the time that the Bible uses.