What is Finished?

What is Finished?

What is Finished?

Jesus’ job is done. Ours is just beginning.

A key premise of this book is that you and I play a significant role in our ultimate salvation. It’s easy for Christians to get derailed, confused and disillusioned when their victory and freedom seem to evade them.

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30, ESV)

It is finished. 

These three words, this short sentence, may be the most powerful and eternity-shaking ever uttered. In fact, I’m sure that is the case. 

The world shook and groaned as Jesus completed his most glorious assignment.

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”” (Matthew 27:50–54, ESV)

Can you imagine being there, witnessing these incredible events? Jesus cries out and dies resulting in a shaking of the earth, a torn curtain, split rocks, open tombs and long-dead people walking around alive once again.

Truly this was the Son of God!

The centurion was correct. 

“It is finished” changed the world.

But, “It is finished” begs the question, “What is finished?”

A GREAT DECEPTION

One of the greatest deceptions that has compromised many Believers in Jesus is this: 

They presume “It is finished” means “All is finished.”

This miscalculation of the impact of the blood, the cross and the resurrection has resulted in a sleepy church, a casual people and lukewarm Christians who are at risk of surrendering their salvation.

““And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” (Revelation 3:1–3, ESV)

Wake up. 

““ ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15–16, ESV)

Burn hot.

If we misunderstand “It is finished” to mean everything is finished, all is well and there is nothing left for us to do, we sleep and grow cold. 

When Jesus died and rose, everything necessary for us to live in victory, power and abundant life was made available. Jesus succeeded in grand fashion by conquering death, Hell and the grave. We have been invited to walk in that victory, but in order to do so we have to, for starters, walk. We have a part to play.

WHAT IS FINISHED?

The Gospel message reveals the glory of the cross and resurrection. What is finished? More than we have the capacity to understand. it’s immeasurable. 

Sin was crushed. 

Death was destroyed.

Sickness was defeated.

The Holy Spirit came to the earth.

Freedom was made possible.

Beyond this, demons must obey us. We have authority. Mountains must move. We are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.

We trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and they will by no means harm us. 

Of course, countless messages have been preached on the power of the blood and the victory of the cross. The power and the victory are real and the church has barely tapped into experiencing it. 

But, the blood, cross and resurrection didn’t resolve everything. If it did, Universalism would be true. The believe that all will be saved is a false-belief. It’s untrue. 

We must respond to the sacrifice and victory of Jesus if we hope to walk in victory, and ultimately to be saved.

WHAT IS UNFINISHED?

The cross has empowered us to respond and to walk in victory. But, again, we have to walk.

The concept is quite simple. Jesus has given us authority over the enemy. He defeated Satan. Yet, people today are demonized. What is unfinished? Well, for starters, demons must be dealt with.

If someone is demonized, they will remain in torment if we don’t do anything. The victory of the resurrection didn’t result in demonic attacks coming to an end. If anything, they became more intense.

We have to act. We have to cast out the demon. 

That example works well in many scenarios. Consider sickness.

Nowhere in the New Testament will you find the Apostles praying for God to heal somebody. Why? Remember, Jesus said, “It is finished.” His job is done. He already did everything necessary for the sick to be healed. There is nothing left for him to do. It’s finished.

In order for the healing to manifest, we must draw on the victory and power of Jesus and minister his healing power. We have to do it.

Demons are still with us. Sickness is still here. 

The resources necessary to eradicate both have been made available to us. We must act. God is ready to facilitate his deliverance and healing through us.

What else is unfinished? Well, every second of every day people are entering their eternal home in Hell. Since I wrote that previous sentence, approximately another twelve people died, and, most likely, most of them are currently in torment.

We have a job to do. The harvest is ripe! Hell is growing larger to hold the number of people who are going there. This should grieve us! We should be moved to cries, groans and tears!

Yet, the church sleeps.

It is unfinished. Our job is unfinished.

OUR SALVATION IS UNFINISHED

There is much for us to do in the short time we are alive. Are their open doors to the enemy in our lives? We must close them. Are we apathetic? We must burn hot. Are we one of the foolish Virgins who have no oil in our lamps? We must develop intimacy with Jesus. Is our family unsaved? We must intercede. Is our city overtaken by wickedness? We have no choice but to pray, preach and advance into the darkness.

A significant focus for us must also be our own salvation.

We work it out with fear and trembling.

We must endure every single day until the very end when we breathe our last breath.

Our salvation is unfinished.

Eternal security is not only a myth, it’s a disastrous and eternally dangerous lie. We first endure and tremble, and then we are saved.

A casual approach due to a misunderstanding of “It is finished” leads to lamps without oil and a lukewarm life.

“For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept.” (Matthew 25:3–5, ESV)

“Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’” (Matthew 25:11–12, ESV)

A failure to go deep in God, to have a passionate heart and to stay awake in these perilous end-times can lead to eternity in Hell.

Depart from me, I never knew you.

“It is finished” didn’t result in everybody going to Heaven. You and me included.

If we lose our love, grow sleepy and lose our passion, we are in a risky position. If we continue in sin, are careless with the call to holiness and refuse to respond rightly to the cross of Jesus, we can’t presume to be saved at all.

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26–27, ESV)

“It is finished” didn’t result in all being saved. We must respond. We must walk in holiness. If we continue in sin we can only expect judgment and a fury of fire that will consume us.

WE HAVE A JOB TO DO

Your life is unfinished. Your job is unfinished. We all must respond to the glorious benefits of the empty tomb by walking in power, authority, obedience and overwhelming passion for Jesus every day.

We can no longer wait around for Jesus to do what he isn’t going to do. 

“So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”” (Acts 1:6–11, ESV)

The disciples still didn’t get it. 

They expected Jesus to establish his kingdom and to hang around to work miracles and all of the other incredible stuff he did prior to his death and resurrection.

Jesus basically told them that he’s leaving. He’s done. It is finished.

He told them to wait for the Holy Spirit. Why? Why would this great gift be necessary? 

It’s simple. It was their turn to do the works of Jesus. 

““Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12, ESV)

Then, Jesus left. He was gone. 

It was in this moment these original followers of Jesus went from being disciples to apostles. From followers to “sent ones.” 

Now it was their turn. Jesus’ job was finished. Theirs was just beginning. A desperate world was waiting for them. It was time to work wonders.

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.” (Mark 16:17–20, ESV)

27 Points of Revolution in the Church

This Reformation Thesis is a call to massive shift in the church and in our nation.

God has given the church every resource and opportunity necessary to initiate a fire of revival that will burn our cities, nations and planet.

We can all agree this fire is not raging–and the current structure in the church can neither initiate nor sustain a move of God of this magnitude.

It’s time for a radical and momentous change in the church. It’s time for reformation. It’s time for revolution.

APOSTOLIC CENTERS

Glenn Bleakney writes:

In this critical hour, Holy Spirit is revealing the significance of shifting churches away from conventional gathering places towards Apostolic Centers. These Apostolic Centers are not merely physical locations; they are communities where God’s people assemble to encounter the tangible presence and glory of God, and be equipped to advance His Kingdom.

Apostolic Centers are dynamic hubs where the Holy Spirit is actively moving, transforming lives, and empowering believers for kingdom work. In these physical environments, the gathered people of God experience His manifest presence, receive prophetic revelation, and are trained and mobilized as effective ministers of the gospel to advance the kingdom of God into the marketplace, cities, and nations.

Rather than focused solely on weekend services, Apostolic Centers foster a culture of ongoing discipleship, ministry training, and missional living. They equip believers to operate in the fivefold ministry gifts, and send them out as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to impact their communities and the nations.

This shift towards Apostolic Centers is a strategic move of the Holy Spirit to prepare the Bride of Christ for the harvest and the return of Jesus. As the church aligns with this vision, it will experience a new level of authority, anointing, and impact in the earth.

The “family-style” churches must quickly shift and embrace a governmental paradigm. We must gather laborers, pray with passion, equip a holy military and advance into the darkness as we pursue full-blown revival. An outpouring and a city-structure that can withstand the weight must consume our thoughts.

27 POINTS OF REFORMATION AND REVOLUTION IN THE CHURCH

The following was written originally in the mid-2000s to the church of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and then to the cities of the earth. While I don't know the current landscape of the church of Colorado Springs, I've heard rumblings about the lack of five-fold, apostolic, governmental order in the city. If true, this shouldn't come as a surprise as this is true in most cities. 

The verbiage in the Thesis was adjusted to address our current city, Branson, Missouri, though any city could most probably be substituted. These 27 points are simple yet critical to consider. I address the problem and then share the benefits of extreme course-correction:

1: We must repent of prayerlessness.

A call is being made for every believer to pray with hunger and passion to an extreme degree. Spiritual leaders of this city must model such a lifestyle of prayer on a daily basis. It must be our primary activity.

Pastors and leaders–let’s agree to developing a furnace of intercession in every local church and a weekly city-wide prayer event that shakes the region to the core.

Keep in mind, your primary call is prayer and study of the Word, not visitation, program development, administration or other focuses that steal time energy and focus.

Leonard Ravenhill said, “Pastors who don’t pray two hours a day aren’t worth a dime a dozen”

Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”” (Acts 6:3–4, ESV)

BENEFITS:

Literally everything changes when we adopt an intense, strategic, continual lifestyle of intercession.

The supernatural increases, miracles happen, intimacy with Jesus skyrockets, pretenders are exposed, the corporate mission is strengthened.

I’ve counseled pastors to incorporate deep, fiery prayer meetings to set the culture in their leadership team. These supernatural meetings will quickly reveal those who are resistant, opposed to the mission, apathetic, given to a spirit of control or who have embraced an Absalom spirit.

2: We must repent of competition.

It’s time to promote the city church ahead of our local church. Are we willing to lose people, money, our ministries and our reputations for God’s corporate dream of city-wide revival to explode? The “sheep stealing” myth must be exposed for what it is: insecurity, personal kingdom building and a spirit of competition. The truth is it's impossible for someone to steal what we don't own. We don't own the sheep

As Bring Ming said, “God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name.”

Further, our aim is not to grow our local church, but rather, as a simple, small department of the city church, we must promote connection in various ministries in the region. 

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, ESV)

BENEFITS:

We have no idea the nuclear-level strength we’ll have if the churches of the city became the church of the city.

Everything is stronger, healthier, more precise, better equipped. Additionally, self-centered kingdom building and other idols are torn down in favor of a city-wide altar of worship.

3: We must repent for being mindful of man ahead of God–and then resign our positions as salespeople. We are to once again lead with a bold prophetic mantle.

As a leader, the primary role is to hear God in prayer and to declare his Word to the people. The body must renounce consumerism in the church by asking not what our church can do for us but what we can do for our church.

We must stop attempting to make our church more desirable, attractive and popular so as to attract the crowds. The prophetic messages we are called to shout will repel most.

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”” (Matthew 16:23, ESV)

BENEFITS:

Allowing God to give supreme leadership will offend many and will upset those who have built a “family-style church.” However, the resulting remnant will be firebreathers who are ready to lay down their lives and expose the darkness.

4: We must repent for forsaking the house of prayer.

There is a call for every church in the city to maintain prayer as its primary ministry. It is to be modeled and led by senior leadership.

The primary purpose of the church is not teaching, visitor assimilation or fellowship. It is undeniably night and day prayer for the nations. Lengthy prayer should be taught and modeled as the dominant activity of every believer. Those who refuse to buy into this mission must not be allowed to dictate the level of passion in the ministry.

As I've often said, “I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry.”

these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”” (Isaiah 56:7, ESV)

BENEFITS:

When prayer is not the primary activity of everyone in the church, the entire mission is compromised and underpowered. A culture of intercession results in unity, strength and ever-increasing passion for Jesus.

“Prayer is the highest activity of the human soul, and therefore it is at the same time the ultimate test of a man´s true spiritual condition (there is nothing so much as prayer life that tells the truth about us as Christian people). Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer.”- Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:11–12, ESV)

  1. Fervent: hot, boiling

I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,” (Romans 15:30, ESV)

  1. Fervent, urgent

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16, ESV)

  1. Fervent, To be active, to be mighty in, to work

5: We must repent of pride.

God resists the proud, and this city can’t afford for God to move away from us. We must repent, humble ourselves and cry for Jesus to come!

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”” (James 4:6, ESV)

BENEFITS:

God literally stands opposed to those who are proud and the same is true for churches that are formed in pride. Renouncing this alliance with a wicked spirit of pride will result in deep intimacy with Jesus, great favor, a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit and a grace that is immeasurable.

(Scripture + commentary) Matt 23:12 Whoever exalts himself [with haughtiness and empty pride] shall be humbled (brought low), and whoever humbles himself [whoever has a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly] shall be raised to honor.13 But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces; for you neither enter yourselves, nor do you allow those who are about to go in to do so.14 [Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you swallow up widows’ houses and for a pretense to cover it up make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation and the heavier sentence.15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes one [a proselyte], you make him doubly as much a child of hell (Gehenna) as you are.

6: We must repent for quenching the Holy Spirit.

Our cry must be, “Come as you are and do what you want!” Sunday services should be marked by significant and earth-shaking supernatural moves of the Holy Spirit.

Do not quench the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19, ESV)

BENEFITS:

Where do I begin?! When the Spirit is not quenched AT ALL, the entire place erupts in fire!

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7, ESV)

Wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, faith, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, interpretation; the benefits are immeasurable.

A church that is not moving in the supernatural must be scrutinized. The mission we have been given is impossible to accomplish without signs, wonders, miracles, dreams, visions and supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

7: We must repent for resisting the prophetic.

Now, more than ever, we need to hear the Word of the Lord. We must teach every believer how to hear God, how to steward that Word and how to take responsibility in the fulfillment of that Word.

Do not despise prophecies,” (1 Thessalonians 5:20, ESV)

BENEFITS:

Leading a church without a vibrant prophetic culture is an experiment in futility. God has absolutely critical revelation to reveal to us.

We need the 100 prophets to emerge from the caves!

Obadiah hid them, Elijah was accused of being a troubler of Israel, the fire fell, the prophets of Baal were defeated. This scenario must play out again in Branson and the cities of the earth!

And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly, and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.)” (1 Kings 18:3–4, ESV)

8: We must embrace and teach on the experiential reality of the presence of God.

If someone were to be on the moon, would he want to learn about air or experience air? Branson must experience the fresh flowing air of the Holy Spirit again.

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:1–2, ESV)

BENEFITS:

Revival. When the Kabod and Shekinah come, and demons flee, and the anointing overwhelms, people are literally transformed forever.

Check this out:

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” (Acts 7:54–8:1, ESV)

Saul watched this! This was an experiential reality for him.

Saul would soon become Paul. The entire world would soon be turned upside down!

9: We must be willing to forsake programs and policies set in place by the demands of man in favor of the divine vision of the Holy Spirit.

Today people expect a vibrant worship ministry, children's ministry, youth ministry, singles ministry, coffee shop, small groups and much more. While any of these ministries are not inherently wrong, they quite often are not what God desires for a particular church.

Gather “pavement people.” Those who don't care about comfort, about the biggest and the best, about their own satisfaction are the remnant you are looking for. They are happy hitting the pavement and declaring the goodness of God.

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”” (2 Chronicles 7:1–3, ESV)

BENEFITS:

Our energy will be reserved for what is most critical.

The vision will drive the ministry instead of what people presume to need or want. The trajectory of the entire church will be wildly different than if we were need-driven.

10: We must release control of our services.

We should expect to stay late, burn hot, experience much, cast out demons, prophesy, proclaim the Word, worship intensely and enjoy a wonderfully messy but Holy Spirit ordered event. The first church was birthed supernaturally in such a way that many marveled and many mocked. It must continue now as it started then.

And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”” (Acts 2:12–13, ESV)

BENEFITS:

The unexpected must be expected. Limits to God need to be torn down and passion for the unknown, supernatural manifestations of God must overtake us.

11: We must raise the bar of expectations and do now what we will be doing when revival breaks out.

Pray continually, burn hot, be in the House of Prayer daily, cry out for justice, establish the 24-hour church, give, serve and enjoy God with other believers.

And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?” (Luke 18:7, ESV)

and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.” (Luke 2:37, ESV)

And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:46–47, ESV)

BENEFITS:

We will be crushed and sharpened, disciplined and ready when the weight of revival hits the region.

God will be able to use us in a leadership capacity and as stewards of the outpouring. We will be ready.

12: We must repent for surrendering to culture by canceling services, closing the church doors and lowering the expected commitment.

We have submitted to a deadly and apathetic American culture, and it’s time to lead the way and bring reformation to that culture. The church must dominate our calendars again.

BENEFITS:

The church will shift from cowering to culture to shaping it.

Our families will be stronger, full of fire and deeply intimate with each other and with the Lord.

Prayer meetings, prayer walking, equipping, worship and so much more should be our primary activities, not T-ball, ballet, movies or other lesser things.

And day by day, attending the temple together…” (Acts 2:46, ESV)

13: We must cry out for the love of God to weigh on His church in the form of both mercy and judgment.

Pray for God’s judgment to rest on you, your church and this city so as to ensure wrong things are made right, holiness prevails and God reigns supreme.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17, ESV)

BENEFITS:

Judgment is simply God making wrong things right. God will use the least severe method to get the greatest results.

When we trust God to judge and crush and break us, everything changes. The church is stronger. Our families are stronger.

14: We must teach Acts chapter two style–experience a move of God and then teach on it.

Experience an overpowering move of the Holy Spirit to such a degree that highly anointed biblical teachings penetrate hearts. What God does in the moment is then taught and explained from a supernatural perspective. Instead of teaching about revival to come, we need revival to break out, providing us the opportunity to explain the other-worldly invasion that shocked the city.

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: “ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” (Acts 2:14–21, ESV)

BENEFITS:

We get to experience God!

A full-speed ahead pursuit of supernatural visitation should consume us!

15: We must admit there are demons and that they must be dealt with.

Not through programs and projects but through prophetic proclamation. A unified assault on the kingdom of darkness will result in mass deliverance in our city.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, ESV)

BENEFITS:

The freedom will be immeasurable!

Demons will finally be forced out of hiding and we will be free and full of life.

The freedom will spread like wildfire as demonic strongholds are destroyed in the city.

It will be normal for demons to manifest on Sunday mornings, right in the middle of the service, as people pray, contend for freedom and witness supernatural deliverance.

16: We must be available for repositioning and do away with the redundancy that a church on every corner invites.

Many churches in our city should close. Those pastors would then assume more appropriate positions of service in other churches. Teachers would lead centers of teaching, pastors would lead small groups, and other leaders would serve in a variety of physical locations within the city church. The goal is one city church, many departments, unified leadership and individualized roles.

BENEFITS:

Huge unnecessary burdens will be lifted from leaders as they are released to focus on what they are called and wired to do.

The power of a city church can’t be understated.

17: We must again become Holy Spirit sensitive instead of seeker sensitive.

People aren’t looking for something worth living for, but rather for a cause worth dying for. Show them the cross.

The normal New Testament church experience is one of extreme manifestations of God, death to self, prophetic preaching and an unapologetic invasion into the culture which results in momentous change.

I believe the “seeker sensitive” movement has been the most destructive model of church in recent history. The devastation won't be fully realized until people enter into eternity.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:34–35, ESV)

BENEFITS:

The pretenders will leave and the remnant will be free to advance with great unity and strength.

The anointing will skyrocket and those “seekers” who are truly hungry will run to the altar. It will be more about God’s invasion into their lives than their assimilation into an affinity group.

18: We must again embrace dreams, visions, praying in the Holy Spirit and extreme encounters with God.

So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.” (1 Corinthians 14:39, ESV)

BENEFITS:

The mission of the church will be strengthened as people are receiving revelation.

Our personal lives will become powerfully effective as we are led by supernatural guidance instead of staggering around in confusion.

19: We must repent for presenting a watered down, socially acceptable gospel.

Salvation requires death, surrender and commitment to the plans of God.

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:21–22, ESV)

BENEFITS:

Authentic salvations will result in a powerful church.

The Rich Young Rulers won’t be affirmed, the Money Changers in the temple won't be coddled and the truth won’t be compromised.

20: We must repent for emphasizing what people can get instead of what they are to give.

To enter a church with the expectation of leaving with more than you entered with is to embrace the same spirit the money changers did. We must again, with fear and trembling, enter the House of Prayer with the expectation of making a sacrifice and giving an offering.

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”” (Matthew 21:12–13, ESV)

BENEFITS:

We will have clarity on our devotion to Jesus.

During the Triumphal Entry, Jesus was “worshiped” by people crying out “Hosanna!” That word, Hosanna, translates as, “save us now.” The focus was on self.

The moment they determined Jesus wouldn't give them what they hoped for, they turned on him. Their next cry was, “crucify him!”

People will attend our churches as long as we give them what they want. Instead we may need nearly empty churches with the few who have the guts to gather around the cross.

21: We must encourage every believer to grow intentionally, rapidly and independently.

And then, to step into their assigned ministry role.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:12–14, ESV)

BENEFITS:

Strong leadership teams will develop as will strong, devoted people.

22: We must call for the fear of the Lord to return to our churches and city.

Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:17–18, ESV)

BENEFITS:

We will be calibrated with the reality of who God is. Both the love and the severity of God will be made known.

23: We must repent for rebellion, self-government, lawlessness and an independent spirit.

This is evidenced through church hopping and by leaving a church without being sent out by the leaders. This results in compromised missions, a divisive spirit and a splintering of the body. Accountability and submission to authority must again return to the church.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17, ESV)

BENEFITS:

We will shed demonic influence that has brought ruin to people, families and churches.

24: We must repent of gossip, complaining and other forms of witchcraft.

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16–19, ESV)

BENEFITS:

Alliance with demons will be eradicated.

The church will be much stronger and full of Holy Spirit activity.

25: We must repent for embracing a religious spirit.

Religion is this: “man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.”

It’s time to cry out for God to remove our man made structures and advance his Kingdom in our city!

BENEFITS:

A spirit of religion killed Jesus. This same spirit resists the Spirit of God today.

When eradicated, the Holy Spirit will come in like a flood and give supernatural, divine leadership to our churches.

26: We must repent to the nation for misrepresenting Branson as a significant Christian center of Holy Spirit activity.

It is not. We have wrongly stewarded this responsibility. We hear a lot about “God and country,” and there is much that is very positive happening here. However, we can't stop the analysis of the spiritual condition of our region with what seems to be healthy. 

There are altars that must be torn down, wicked spirits that must be exposed and repentance that must overwhelm us all.

BENEFITS:

The humility repentance would bring will be a catalyst for a massive move of God.

It would also recalibrate the church of Branson and make it possible to effectively steward revival.

27: We must repent for not praying intently for our leaders.

Their failure is our failure.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (1 Timothy 2:1–2, ESV)

BENEFITS:

Leaders would be undergirded, their arms lifted and covered. Failure would decrease and the mission of Kingdom advance would be strengthened.

Pastors and other ministers would not be as susceptible to failure.

The people would not be as susceptible to disillusionment and falling away due to the failure of leadership.

FINAL THOUGHTS

As we pray, unify, preach the cross, love God and the people of our city with passion and embrace the present Word of the Lord Branson will be a propellant for revival around the world.

Written trembling in the fear of the Lord,

John Burton

John Burton
Revival X

Marks of a Revival-Minded Church

Spirit-filled churches are increasingly falling into the trap of becoming a “typical church.”

I've given leadership to revival-style churches and ministries for decades. It's grieving how few Spirit-filled churches are truly taking people unapologetically into the depths of surrender to Jesus. Instead, the preference is to grow wide and shallow in the hopes that the seats stay full, the money keeps coming in and the programs are staffed.

Of course, the majority of churches, Charismatic included, aren't pretending to be concerned about revival at all. The pursuit of a wild-fire, other-worldly, supernatural habitation of the Spirit of God never even comes to mind.

The cost is too high. The chances are too slim.

To most, it's not worth it.

The truth is, revival churches don't see dramatic impact, big crowds and overwhelming wonders in the early stages. The wells of revival must be dug. The hours of prayer must be invested. Repentance, consecration and a radical devotion of time must be constant. Few are willing to buy in at this level, and pastors know it.

The preferred church growth method is to create a “healthy, vibrant” atmosphere that's focused on meeting needs and fulfilling expectations. The shock and awe of God's glory is traded for a more naturally familiar environment that's sprinkled with some worship, teaching and fellowship. Nothing too deep, expensive or disruptive.

Of course, not every church has descended into what I'm calling a typical church. And, not every church will have done so on every point. Some are hanging strong in some areas while slipping on others.

And, it should also be said that legitimate revival churches can fail on some points that typical churches are stronger in. However, I do believe the comparison is generally valid.

Nine key differences between typical churches and revival churches:

  1. Typical Church: Participation is emphasized
    Revival Church: Consecration is emphasized

    In a revival church, the focus is a radical surrender to Jesus and an ongoing depth to the lives of all who come. Simple church attendance does little to advance the vision of dramatic, supernatural, regional impact. A revival-style church would be happier with 50 people going deep in the Holy Spirit than 500 attending, giving and serving.

  2. Typical Church: Prayer is rare
    Revival Church: Prayer is constant

    Prayer is the primary call of all in a revival church. A powerful, miraculous, supernatural culture of fiery intercession burns nonstop. No authentic revival has been initiated without first developing a foundation of unceasing and effective prayer. Without the intensity of intercession, revival churches cannot exist.

  3. Typical Church: Church growth is the goal
    Revival Church: Regional revival is the goal

    Revival church leaders don’t care in the least about the numerical growth of their church or ministry. Their eyes are on the city. They do want the right people in position to contend for revival in the city. They do pray in the laborers. However, they understand the Gideon principle. Fewer devoted people keenly focused on revival is powerfully effective.

  4. Typical Church: Relationships are a key focus
    Revival Church: Relationships are a byproduct

    Deep, powerful and biblical relationshps are developed in the foxhole at revival-style churches. The mission is the main thing. An outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a context of holiness and intercession is the prime goal. Relationships result as hungry, consecrated people put differences aside and contend for revival with military precision.

  5. Typical Church: Demons remain hidden
    Revival Church: Demons are exposed

    Playing games with very powerful, wicked demonic spirits is not an option in a revival church. At risk of offending those in attendance, prophetic and apostolic leaders will discern haunting, taunting spirits and expel them. They train the body to do the same and wouldn’t think of hiding the dramatic moments of freedom from others in the service.

  6. Typical Church: Encouragement driven
    Revival Church: Prophetically driven

    Churches that are authentically prophetic will at times cut, offend, correct and challenge. Those who respond will ultimately experience extreme encouragement as they blow through limitations and compromise. Revival churches are equipping an army. End-time holy soldiers must go through radical transformation in order to be made truly ready.

  7. Typical Church: Driven by expectations
    Revival Church: Establishes expectations

    Revival churches get their vision and strategy from the prayer room. They refuse to buy into the “tried and true” methods of building a church. Many will be turned off by revival churches as their demands go unmet. The rest will come alive and burn hot.

  8. Typical Church: One-stop shop
    Revival Church: Specialized ministry

    As it’s been said, Christians aren’t in gangs. It’s okay to connect in different churches. Revival leaders most often encourage people to draw from other churches and ministries. This allows them to remain focused on their specific part of the city-wide vision. Revival leaders make no apology about being laser-focused and allowing other needs to be met by other leaders in the city.

  9. Typical Church: A family gathering
    Revival Church: A school of fire

    Those in revival churches find themselves groaning in intercession, crying out to God, repenting with passion and getting baptized in holy fire most every day. Dreams, visions, encounters, assignments, warnings and preparing for the end-times define the experience. MASH units, instead of hospitals, get people healed and equipped to run to the battle and annihilate the enemy.

 

The “Deconstructed” Dones (Revised)

Done with Church

Done with church, done with Christianity?

Christians all over the world are abandoning Christianity. They are fed up with God, or at least the way he's represented. Their anger–which is often quite explosive–is directed at people, usually church leaders. They are deconstructing and they aren't hiding it. Many are loud and proud with their newfound anti-faith.

Another sizable group wouldn't admit to full-blown deconstruction. They are, however, equally loud and proud when announcing they have joined the leaderless cult called the “dones.” They are done with church, and just like those who are deconstructing, the prime motive is due to disappointing leadership and unfulfilling church experiences.

All who deconstruct are “dones” but not all “dones” have fully deconstructed. These two movements are uniquely related, however.

PASTORS, LISTEN UP

Being deconstructed or done isn't an option and I implore those who have done so, or who are considering undergoing this faith-change operation in their lives, to fearfully reconsider. This decision is eternity crushing.

That being said, I absolutely understand some of the reasons people are frustrated enough to abandon the church.

Much of it is due to false expectations. People become jaded and disillusioned when leaders fail, when they feel rejected or when the church experience isn't what they hoped for. However, we can't abandon God or his glorious church due to this. I've had a front row seat to multiple national leaders dramatically and very publicly falling. It's heartbreaking, but it cannot negatively affect our zealous love for God or his church. 

While dealing with false expectations is the responsibility of the people, there is a good measure of responsibility that pastors have as well. Both need to do better.

Pastors, they are yearning for more. They can't handle another perfectly crafted, wonderfully produced, humanly orchestrated mess with just a sprinkle of supernatural flavor for good measure. They are done.

DECONSTRUCTED OR CORRUPTED?

Let's start with those who are deconstructing. I'm perplexed by the radical religious shift of friends and acquaintances who were previously burning white hot for Jesus. My brain explodes when considering the possibility that people who were sharply prophetic, invested in fervent and powerful intercession and devoted radically to the truth of Scripture could end up fading away. Yet, it's happening. Over and over again.

Understand, I'm not talking about typical church goers. I'm referring to people who were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Their every waking moment was consumed by a passionate love for Jesus. They were continually provoked to awaken the sleepers and sound the alarm. These were end-time messengers who had a powerful anointing and a critical call on their lives. I know many of them.

Now they are done. Deconstructing. Fading. 

Of course, many would retort that they aren't done with God. They are deconstructing from what they've known as Christianity, and more specifically, the expression of it. 

The danger is very real, however. When we get fed up with the way God's leaders are leading or the direction the movement is headed, a golden calf is most often the result. While Moses, an imperfect man, was literally meeting with God in one of history's most critical moments, the people decided they had had enough. They didn't give up on God, per se, but they had given up on Moses' version of God.

So, what did they do? They deconstructed and redefined God to fit their personal desires.

They decided to focus on self and the experience that's more authentic, more trustworthy and more sensical to them. They planned a feast to the Lord, but it was the lord of self, the lord of Egypt and the lord of deconstruction. 

Then God said this to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” (Exodus 32:7, ESV)

This is what we are seeing today. Previously liberated people have had enough and, as a result, they have corrupted themselves. 

THE RIGHT RESPONSE

Simply, we need to passionately fall in love with Jesus again, radically commit to a vibrant, Spirit-filled, imperfect and often irritating local church and let go of inappropriate expectations. Extend grace. Love people, especially when they struggle and fail. Promote truth. Go low. Live, pray and burn night and day in the Spirit.

You'll never find a biblical church or movement that's devoid of bold, authoritative, anointed leadership. We shouldn't want to. We need people like Moses, Joshua, Paul and others to hear from Heaven and lead with supernatural vision.

And one final exhortation: to those who are deconstructing, you are in eternal danger. To those who are done, I understand the pain and frustration, but abandoning the church isn't the answer.

 

Escorts to Hell

Escorts to Hell

“I had a dream”

I shot up from my bed last night, disoriented, shattered and horrified. I cried out, “No, no, no. Stop! No!”

I’m a dreamer. God gives me dreams on a regular basis, and often the subject matter is jarring. The Lord isn’t hesitant to stir and trouble me if it results in an alarm being sounded and sleepers being shocked awake. 

This dream should do just that.

This divine vision of the night started with me in an apocalyptic setting, waist-high in water that had settled where city streets should have been. 

The mood was foreboding. In fact, there has to be a better descriptive word to use here. What I was experiencing took me well beyond foreboding for sure. Hopeless. Terrorizing. Evil. 

Everywhere I looked I saw able-bodied people slowly pushing, guiding emaciated, zombie-looking people through the water. One near-dead, weakened, contorted person for each individual that still had a measure of strength.

I also had someone with me, someone who had lost all life from her eyes. Her body was nearly limp, floating through the water as I ever-so-slowly pushed her along. She didn’t speak. Nobody did. Neither the guides nor the guided. Hope was gone. There was nothing left to say.

I didn’t fully understand what was happening until, finally, after some time moving toward the intended target along with all of the other guides, the horror struck me.

I understood why hope was gone and why death had overtaken the innumerable limp, demon-like individuals. 

We were guiding them to Hell.

I looked ahead to an opening in an old wall which led inside an old building. This is where we were headed. Nobody asked questions. Nobody said anything. There was no turning back. There was no hope. The judgment was final.

Once inside the building, there was an opening, a portal. A portal to Hell. One by one, guides pushed the guided into the eternally dark hole, into never-ending pain, torment, fear and despair.

I didn’t know the person I was guiding. Or at least I didn’t recognize her. She looked barely human. I could easily visualize what she might have looked like just prior to entering into eternity. 

Maybe a vibrant mother, full of laughter, full of life, playing with her children at the playground.

Or, she could have been a motivational speaker. Possibly an energetic entrepreneur. Could she have even been a minister? A small-group leader? A Sunday School teacher?

Who knows. But I could imagine her as free, alive, vivacious, full of energy, driven by dreams, loved by many and excited about what the rest of her life would bring her.

Her eternity, however, wasn’t given sufficient thought.

It’s My Fault

As I waited my turn to push this person, this person Jesus died for, this person who just moments ago was alive and well, into the abyss, I understood the message.

Even before I woke up, I was wrecked, dismayed and troubled beyond any possibility of explanation. Her journey to Hell could have been avoided. Her eternity different. It was my fault. I was her escort to Hell.

Before that one haunting, final push, I awakened. 

I shot up, and cried out. The horrors and indescribable, suffocating and eternally hopeless reality of Hell overtook me. 

After several tense moments I prayed and asked God to speak to me clearly about what just happened. Most of the message was obvious. Hell is real. Eternity is forever. The experience will make you go mad. 

But, what about the escorts? Why was I involved? The weight of the matter was crushing me. 

My sense was that the escorts represented Christians, and often, ministers. Our failure to preach truth, to love deeply, to warn loudly and to allow the Holy Spirit to move in our lives results in what I encountered in my dream. We escort people to Hell. We are partners in their eternal torment.

Is this a message to awaken the evangelist in us? Sure it is. But I believe it’s more than that.

One Night

Last night, prior to my destined journey into the dream realm, I was giving leadership at a powerful, weighty and sober prayer meeting. We prayed in the Spirit with passion. We hit our knees in desperation. The glory and presence of God was thick and it was hard to stand at times. God was up to something.

One of the strongest prophetic words that I’ve received in quite some time hit me in a moment. In fact, I instructed our team to erase a whiteboard that contained prophetic messages, decrees and other revelation from earlier in the night. I felt what God was about to release demanded a fresh slate and our undivided attention.

With supernatural unction, I decreed, “One night!” I said it again, “One night!” 

One night. God was brooding over us and his Spirit was rallying this raw, hungry group around one focus. One mission. One night.

I felt God yearning to show up and, for lack of a better human expression, show off. He wanted full liberty to move with great power exactly as he desires. 

I was tempted, while in my prophetic moment, to announce the obvious. “One night will result in an ongoing outpouring that will be felt around the world.” God immediately shut my mouth. He said, “One night.” 

He wants us fully surrendered to his simple plan. He wants us ready to respond to a sudden invasion of the force of Heaven in our city. He wants us focused, zeroed in on the simplicity of a moment.

One night.

The enemy knows very well how powerful a moment can be. One night. One day. One hour. One minute.

At 8:46AM local time, on September 11th, 2001, the first hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center’s North Tower. 

At 9:03AM, the second airplane was intentionally crashed into the South Tower.

At 9:37AM, another airplane hits the Pentegon.

At 10:02AM the final plane lands in an empty field, it’s ultimate planned destination unknown.

The entire world changed in one moment.

At 9:02AM local time on April 19th, 1995, a bomb exploded, killing 168 people at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

One moment.

God understands the power of sudden impact as well.

In 1993, two years before the revival began, Brownsville’s pastor, John Kilpatrick, began directing his congregation to pray for revival.[4] Over the next two years, he talked constantly about bringing revival to the church, even going as far as to threaten to leave the church if it didn’t accept the revival. 

On Father’s Day June 18, 1995, a Sunday, the revival began, evangelist Steve Hill was the guest speaker, having been invited by Kilpatrick. Later, Hill and Kilpatrick, told of “a mighty wind” that blew through the church, an account that quickly spread across the Pentecostal community.

During the revival, nearly 200,000 accepted Christianity, and by the Fall of 2000 more than 1,000 people who experienced the revival were enrolled at the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry.

All told, more than 2.5 million people have visited the church’s Monday prayer and Tues-through-Saturday evening revival services, where they sang rousing worship music and heard old-fashioned sermons on sin and salvation. After the sermons were over, hundreds of thousands accepted the invitation to leave their seats and rush forward to a large area in front of the stage-like altar.

One moment that change the world after two years of fervent prayer for revival. 

One follow-on revival, often called the Smithton Outpouring, occurred in the small town of Smithton, Missouri, at Smithton Community Church. It was significant because it was not connected with the Assemblies of God. The pastor, Steve Gray, visited the Brownsville Revival in 1996 while in the midst of personal turmoil, returned to his church of 150 members and hosted a 3-year revival which saw about 250,000 visitors. (Wikipedia https://w.wiki/AKMb)

One moment, one hungry pastor and one outpouring that launched because of another.

ESCORTS TO HEAVEN

The church must see a revolution, a revival that awakens those who are slumbering. A strike from Heaven must come to each of us!

Many people are convinced they are safe, following Jesus and ready for Heaven, all while they are aimlessly walking through life like the Rich Young Ruler. They think they are saved, but they are not. Will we warn them? Will we guide them away from the fires of Hell? Will we preach the truth necessary to stun them out of their “eternal security” mind-set? Will we love them enough to help initiate authentic revival that will contain the evidence they need to repent?

Many of those in my dream were certainly people who were convinced they were saved. Many of those being guided were shocked and instantly sucked lifeless. Many of the guides, the escorts to Hell, possessed no urgency either. Their failure, my failure, became another’s torment.

We must have revival. One night. One moment. 

When revival comes, the outpouring follows. When the outpouring lands, everybody’s trajectory changes. 

Pastors start shouting truth from the rooftops. Christians repent and discover the power of the Spirit of God. Love for Jesus explodes. Sin diminishes. Demons are cast out. Death is squashed. Life erupts.

And, we stop guiding people to Hell. 

We become commissioned, transformed and on-fire escorts toward eternity with Jesus in Heaven.

The inner-evangelist in us will come out of hiding. Prophetic messages will no longer be tempered. Church services will not be toned down. Wickedness won’t be tolerated. Witchcraft will be exposed. A lukewarm church and an apathetic people will be rescued just mere moments prior to being vomited out of the mouth of God.

We will discover the wonder of full, joyful surrender to Jesus. Our passion, our anointing and our message will captivate the lost. Reformation will hit the church. Revolution will overtake the city. Revival will raise the dead.

Yes, we are all guides. We are escorts. We aren’t only leading one person toward eternity, but many. 

The question is, where exactly will we be guiding them?