Worship, Power, and Purity: An Interview with Bill Johnson
Grace that doesn't lead to holiness isn't grace at all.

Worship, Power, and Purity: An Interview with Bill Johnson

by Mike Bickle
1/24/17 Christian Living

In the run-up to the Onething Conference, December 28–31, 2016, I sat down with Bill Johnson to hear a little of what was on his heart.

Mike: What are some of the things that you have a passion to share with the Body of Christ right now?

Bill: My passion is constant, and has been for several years. I just want to see purity and power. I want to see people walking in purity and holiness. Grace that doesn’t lead to holiness isn’t grace at all. There is a real twisted view of grace that has entered the Church. I don’t live in reaction to that stuff, but I do live in response to what God is doing, and the whole issue of being like Jesus is a big deal, but it also includes being like Jesus with power.

It is not okay for me to be a nice guy and to walk uprightly, but not have power. I ask our folks what is more important: to not quench the Holy Spirit or to not grieve the Holy Spirit. Quenching is about power, and grieving is about purity. You can’t choose one over the other, and I am so tired of the people who don’t have character but attempt to walk in power. It’s nauseating to me, but I also wish we were as offended over the people who walk in character but don’t walk in power.

Mike: I love it. You know, I tell people, you’ve heard the old adage “seek His face and not His hand,” but believe it or not, that is not biblical. You don’t choose between His face and His hand. I mean, we want His face as a priority in our life, but the Bible tells us to seek both.

Bethel is one of the inspirations for the IHOPKC worship teams. You have quite a few teams, but you have a million worship teams in the earth following you. So how do you stir up and cultivate so much quality worship in your spiritual family there?

Bill: You know, we actually don’t give a lot of attention to that. What we give attention to is atmosphere and hope, and releasing people into who God made them to be. And monitoring atmosphere is what I am good at. Atmosphere that is impregnated with the presence of God, where people live conscious of His presence, and become empowered to be everything that God means them to be—when we dream bigger than our own talents, skills, and capabilities.

When we have those two elements going, what is happening is very natural; it is like how it’s normal for a married couple to have children. It is normal, because they are in love—they are together, and there is intimate relationship, and they are going to have children.

And the offspring of our life right now is this worship thing, but it is not the focus. It is the offspring of being worshipers outside, off the stage, being worshipers one-on-one in the private place, which you guys champion so much. It is this personal intimate time with God. As long as we maintain the right value system in our culture, then everything else follows.

So all that we see happening—we are as surprised with it as anybody is. But what we give ourselves to is what I refer to as the main thing —it is honoring the Holy Spirit in the day to day. I don’t want to learn to recognize His voice or His presence so I can minister. I won’t do it, because that is “professional” intimacy. We have names for people who are intimate as a profession, and so I want to stay away from that.

Mike: The worship that is coming out of your place is changing the world.

Bill: Yes, I am so thrilled, too, because it is Charles Wesley who took the theology of John Wesley and put music to it, and that is what is happening here as well.

I love the joyful song that has very few lyrics to it and is just a lot of fun, but I don’t want that to be the staple. I want us to have good strong theology about the resurrection and the cross, about the victorious life, about all of these things. And our guys and gals are capturing these things and are writing them in songs. I get so excited, because it is working.

Mike: I remember when I first met you, one of the things that the Lord put on my heart was the similarity between the assignment that God gave John Wimber and the assignment He has given you.

John Wimber had this passion for the presence of God, rooted in the Bible, which was striking. You know, many people who are really presence-oriented aren’t really Bible-oriented. Likewise, some are Bible-oriented, but don’t have a passion for His presence. But John had both. He had a great zeal, but people would always talk about how laid back he was. But I could always tell when he ministered that his soul was engaged.

And (John’s) Vineyard Music produced music that birthed a worship movement around the world. These things are so similar to who you are and what you are doing. Inside, you are not trying to make something happen, but you are saying, Lord, I am yours; this is not a game to me—I am yours all the way.

Bill: Thank you, so much. That is a real honor. John is somebody that I never actually had a chance to meet. I did get to hear him teach a couple of times, and that itself was an incredible honor—but I appreciate that so much.

Mike: You know, people so love it that we love each other.

Bill: As a young Christian, I was really weaned on back-to-back books on prayer and intercession, and I have such a deep value for those who give themselves to prayer like you have. And to me, you are the most important person—you and Lou Engle and those like you are just so valuable.

You just need to know this: I don’t know if there is anybody else on the planet that I would give up some of the Christmas holidays for, but I have such a deep admiration for you guys, and I am so honored to be able to come, to be a part of Onething.

Thank you for inviting me.

New by Bill Johnson:
God Is Good

Bill Johnson and his wife, Beni Johnson, are the senior pastors of Bethel Church in Redding, California. Together they serve a growing number of churches that have partnered for revival. This apostolic network has crossed denominational lines in building relationships that enable church leaders to walk in both purity and power.

Learn more about Bill and his ministry at bjm.org.

Mike Bickle


  • Founder, IHOPKC

Mike Bickle is the founder of the International House of Prayer, an evangelical missions organization based on 24/7 prayer with worship. He is also the founder of International House of Prayer University, which includes full-time ministry, music, and media schools.

Mike’s teaching emphasizes growing in passion for Jesus through intimacy with God, doing evangelism and missions work from the place of night-and-day prayer, and the end times. He is the author of several books, including Growing in Prayer, Passion for Jesus, God’s Answer to the Growing CrisisGrowing in the Prophetic, and Prayers to Strengthen Your Inner Man.  Mike and his wife, Diane, have two married sons and six grandchildren.

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