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No Pastor, You Don’t Need An Armor Bearer: Unnecessary Church Stuff That Compromises The Mission

Strange, unnecessary practices in the church are hindering the advance of the Kingdom.

I'll admit, there are many who will read this article and disagree with me on one or all of the points. That's par for the course no matter what topic I address, but I need to make it clear up front that what follows is an opinion piece—yet, I believe it's a valid opinion and one that many in the church world would agree with. I feel it's important to introduce the topic of this article so we can honestly analyze unnecessary cultural additives to the church that are making the mission more challenging.

I personally believe it best to de-clutter our church structures. Eliminating much of what makes up the construct of the local church would do wonders. I know many are yearning for a church experience that brings focus back to its foundational, governmental purpose—prayer. Check this out from a previous Ministry Today Magazine article:

I'm on the hunt for what I call Pavement People. These are the 2 Chronicles 7 people who couldn't even enter the building due to the glory of God filling it—so they hit the pavement and worshipped. No comfortable chairs, no music, nothing but them, the pavement and God.

Oh how glorious it would be to turn our Sunday morning church experience into a white-hot furnace of prayer! Clear out the chairs, pace around the perimeter or lay face-down and contend as the groans of Spirit-fueled intercession resound!

Good graphic artists and web designers understand the importance of white space. They add art, graphics, text and other elements only as is absolutely necessary, ensuring that there is a significant amount of white space—blank space—absolutely nothing added to a large portion of the art board. It's just empty. It gives room to breathe. You can focus on what is most important. We need white space in the church. Eliminate everything but the most important things.

This being said, there are some unnecessary and often times compromising practices that are taking up precious white space, and it's making the mission of the church tougher than it should be.

WHAT NEEDS TO COME TO AN END IN THE CHURCH?

ARMOR BEARERS

I absolutely believe in rank and order in the government of the church. I also believe it's important to honor leaders intentionally and to be a very real support. Their arms need to be lifted at times.

However, the armor bearer culture is all too often dysfunctional and bizarre. While I don't argue that some leaders handle it in a healthy way, I feel it's simply unnecessary in most cases. By design, assigning an armor bearer creates distinction between the leader and the body. Leaders create their own pedestal, climb up on it and expect to be served in front of everyone. If not handled with extreme caution, it stinks of self-promotion.

I've been in ministry for a long time, and while I appreciate the assistance that people offer, the idea of finding an armor bearer, even when others recommend I find one, to be something that would cause more problems than it would relieve. Instead, why not develop a team of secret intercessors who are aggressive in the spirit as they support you from the closet? Nobody has to know, but the support would be supernaturally powerful.

Sarah Palin and John Burton

Here's a story that illustrates this point. Several years ago I was asked to gather a team of intercessors to cover Sarah Palin during one of her tours. I had the privilege of spending quality one-on-one time with her, prophesied over her and heard her heart. With hundreds of people swarming around her, Sarah, her makeup artist and I retreated beyond the intense Secret Service type security detail into a small room where we spent the next hour and a half together. It was a God ordained moment. Then,my team of three intercessors who were waiting patiently for us were escorted, along with myself, Sarah and her media director onto her tour bus. That gave us additional private, quality time to pray over her as she prepared to address hundreds of people in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I was the first person off of the bus and the rest of the team followed. The crowd roared and the cameras were rolling. Well known national news personalities had their microphones in hand. It was a media frenzy and quite an experience! We also babysat her son Trig that night as she interacted with the crowd for hours, without an armor bearer in sight.

Later as I watched some YouTube videos of us stepping off of the bus, people were commenting that we were most likely her body guards or support staff. They or nobody would ever know that we were actually Sarah's intercessors, the most important team of people that she made sure surrounded her in every city she visited. Prayer warriors, not armor bearers, are what we need surrounding leaders in the church today.

EXCESSIVE SPIRITUAL FATHERING/MOTHERING

I'm sure this point will be met with some indignation. I understand the issue of fatherlessness in the nation today, and while some in the church have addressed it appropriately (and others have ignored it entirely), many have capitalized on this inappropriately. It can get quite strange.

Yes, it's true that we need spiritual fathers and mothers. This is a fact that cannot be debated, and it's fully scriptural. The problem is when we take a simple truth and turn it into a movement or attempt to overemphasize it in a church culture.

Orphans No More

I've had people identify me as their spiritual father, and I'll admit it can be quite awkward. There's often a dysfunctional, co-dependent feel to it. I understand that people are craving impartation and fatherly/motherly guidance, and I fully affirm that. However, it can get weird when we take it too far. It can reveal insecurity in both the spiritual son/daughter AND the spiritual father/mother who both want to experience relational significance while slapping a spiritual label on it. This is toxic.

I wrote my eBook Orphans No More! with this issue in mind. A spirit of insignificance will cause people to look for human fathers and mothers and others who will affirm them instead of drawing their identity from God the Father directly.

EXCESSIVE RELATIONAL FOCUS

Today we are seeing a rise in churches that are mostly focused on connecting people—to people. Pastors are mostly focused on developing relational holding tanks for the congregation and creating systems to ensure everybody feels like a part of the family.

Note, I'm not saying connecting people to the church family is wrong. It's the weight of the focus that is way out of balance in many churches.

You'll notice many church marketing campaigns, signage, fliers and other forms of communication today are focused mostly on how people will be loved in their new church home, on how they will fit in and on how there's a place for them instead of inviting people to surrender all and encounter the Holy Spirit.

In fact, I dare say that many a pastor, especially those in the millennial ranks, are zeroing in on developing a mutual admiration society as they attempt to create an atmosphere filled with warm hugs and an ever-growing community of friends with them positioned right at the center of it all.

I understand this would be an unfair critique if I were labeling all churches as being excessively relational or all millennials as out of balance. I absolutely am not. What I am doing is bringing light to a troubling trend that needs to stop, and fast.

We need to nurture godly relationships, but not at the expense of the mission. The fox hole of ministry is where friendships are forged. As we contend for revival together and war in the supernatural realm, our connections become more valuable and much deeper than we could ever imagine.

EXCESSIVE PASTORAL CARE

Related to the above point, but still distinct, in many churches we are seeing the “hospital mentality” drive the day-to-day. I've heard many people comment that the church is to be a hospital. It is not.

The church is a governmental, missional army of people who are unified, equipped and advancing against the enemy. It's a weapon of war.

Yes, in battle there will be many wounded warriors, but this calls not for a hospital but rather a MASH unit. We tend to the wounded and minister healing to them for the purpose of seeing them return victoriously to the battlefield.

We need to stop putting pressure on the pastor to be continually tending to our every wound and whim instead of moving ahead, blazing trails with his sword aimed squarely between the eyes of the enemy.

In fact, it's a healthier and stronger move to see the body rally around the wounded instead of expecting the General, the leader, to be the sole person expected to tend to them. A spiritual community that's focused on running the race together will be much better equipped to reach the hurting than a single leader who is being pulled in too many directions to count.

Of course, there are times the senior leader must break away to go after the one who has lost their way, but that's the exception, not the rule.

THE SHOW

Again, let's find the pavement people, those who are not drawn to the show, to the theatrics, to the fog and lights, and who simply are energized by contending in prayer and advancing the Kingdom.

I'll admit that atmospheric supplements such as video, lighting and other effects are benign. They aren't evil or good. They are aids, but too often it just gets ridiculous. The draw of the church should be the undeniable presence of God, not a carefully produced environment.

This point takes us right through and well beyond the lights and fog. While I've seen some church services that are terribly disorganized and slopped together, many churches that are forward thinking put great thought into every moment and everything the people will experience. For example, is anybody else tired of the visiting minister orchestrating a circus atmosphere by attempting to push over every soul with enough force to create an Instagram worthy altar of people sprawled out all over?

What about perfectly timed and controlled services? Everything is produced as precisely and efficiently as a Broadway show. When I see a church schedule with 9am, 10:30am and 12pm Sunday morning services, I'm pretty sure, most likely, it's a church best skipped.

Let's shut down the production and the carefully controlled and humanly ordered services and simply worship, pray, get equipped and see the presence of God overwhelm us. That's church.

TITLES

One of the most amusing meetings I've ever had occurred several years ago in Detroit. A local pastor whom I had never met requested that we get together over coffee. We did, and it took everything I had not to smirk between sips of java. He berated me for allowing people to call me by my first name. I had to make sure I clearly understood what he was saying. Yes, he actually was upset that people called me John! He personally didn't allow anybody even to know what his first name was, much less call him by it. He expected everyone to call him by his title. It was such a strange and humorous conversation!

Now, please hear me on this. I know many leaders who do go by their title. Pastors, apostles and other leaders do value the distinction that comes from putting a title before their name. Many, many of these are amazing and godly men and women, and I absolutely do call them by their title if they prefer I do. I respect them and I honor them with abandon.

In fact, when leading a church, I did find myself struggling with this issue. My preference was for people to call me John. However, many wanted to call me Pastor. I was okay with that, except, it caused some functional problems. Why? My office isn't Pastor. That much is clear. While I don't care to identify myself by my office, others, including leaders in my life, have acknowledged a prophetic/apostolic office. So, now what? Do people call me Apostle John? They have, and it's okay, but honestly I kind of cringe when they do. The reason I'm bringing up this point is because I agree that titles can be very helpful when they designate function and expectations in ministry. When people presumed me to be a pastor, with all of the gifts and skills of a pastor, their expectations were frustrated as I couldn't meet them. However, when they understood I was prophetic/apostolic, they began to value me in that role. Again, titles can define function, and that's fully appropriate.

However, like this pastor (or apostle, or doctor, I'm not sure) in Detroit, it can get unhealthy. I'd challenge pastors, prophets, apostles or others to consider allowing people to simply call you by your name. It removes some unnecessary barriers and weirdness from the relationship. If you do prefer a title, that's okay, just handle it in a healthy way and understand that you may not be as big a deal as you think you are.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

I asked some of my Facebook friends what they felt should be eliminated from the church. In addition to confirming the above points, I received several additional interesting suggestions:

Skinny jeans, pulpits, ministers pushing people over at the altar, new stage props every week, organs, tambourines, one-hour services, worship leaders influenced by secular music, the subordination of women, praying in tongues on the microphone, not praying in tongues on the microphone, quenching the Spirit, excessive manifestations, controlling manifestations and comedy acts from the platform.

Why am I suddenly envisioning a skinny jean wearing, tambourine playing woman telling jokes as she pushes people over at the altar? Oh well. Nobody is going to agree on all of this, as I stated at the beginning of the article, but I'd imagine we all want God to lead his church! What changes do you think would be appropriate?

A glance into 2016

2016 has the potential of rescuing many precious people!

Passion for transformed lives and true impact in the nations is launching us into a brand new year. The faithful generosity of people like you has made it possible for people all over the world to be set ablaze with love for Jesus!

This next year provides opportunities for innumerable people to encounter God and his radical love and his life-shaking message of revolution. My heart burns for those who have yet to come alive in Jesus!

I would like to invite you to become a part of this passionate pursuit by giving a tax-deductible year-end gift.

Carriers of Fire International will deliver fresh messages of abundant life and awakening through:

  • Online prophetic teaching from our studio in Branson, Missouri at www.thefurnace.tv
  • Articles, distribution of books and other media
  • Conferences and events in various cities in our nation and around the world

We are excited about what 2016 will bring and we want to thank YOU for helping make it all possible!

You can GIVE TODAY HERE!

John and Amy Burton
Carriers of Fire International

Unsaved Christians—Thoughts on Sin, Hell and Following Jesus in an Unsaved Condition

Unsaved Christians—do we understand the threat of sin in the life of Christians?

There is a glorious salvation to be had, and the enemy has tainted powerful, life-giving theologies in an attempt to counterfeit them—and draw people away from the one true God. God’s passion is for people to be wildly in love with him, and that is what the enemy is afraid of. Instead of radical intimacy and passionate obedience, people are falling for a lesser false-doctrine that communicates God’s apparent affirmation of them and affection for them—and it is resulting in a faux closeness to him for millions of “Christians.”

Our salvation is glorious and it is also weighty. We can’t presume upon it or take it lightly. I suggest it’s possible that most people who are convinced of their position in Christ would actually be in Hell if they died today. I will share some convincing and powerful stories that speak directly to further down in the article. People like Corrie Ten Boom, John Mulinde and Daniel Ekechukwu have a perspective that few others do.

The concept of unsaved Christians seems contradictory. I understand that. A Christian is a follower of Jesus. I am suggesting that there are many followers of Jesus, many who name the name of Christ, who are living their lives following him in an unsaved condition.

“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. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:1-6

But, are we not free from condemnation if we are in Christ Jesus? Yes. But, let’s look at that verse:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

imageA massive and increasing number of Christians have been lulled into a slumber regarding the reality of salvation. They have a reputation of being alive, but are dead because of their sin. The common presumption is now that if we pray, read our Bible, go to church and identify ourselves as Christians than we are automatically exempt from condemnation. The problem? Too many have misunderstood just what it means to be in Christ Jesus. Tragically it’s true that countless professing Christians are actually living in a place of condemnation because they aren’t truly in Christ Jesus. We can’t just call ourselves Christians and presume that we are truly in Christ.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:6-8

For the last 24 years my life and ministry have been marked by a troubled spirit and an unrelenting passion for extreme surrender, zealous prayer and an unapologetic call for passion, repentance and holiness. I understand just how separated, intense and broken we must be to truly be counted among the saved—or, I at least have an understanding of the type of deception that is causing people to remain careless in their walk with Jesus. To be a true follower of Jesus requires more than today’s theologies are communicating, and that does indeed both anger and wreck me. This is why I just cannot lead a church or ministry without an intense, burning edge to them. Anything short of radical just can’t be promoted anymore!

Why is my spirit troubled? Because I am convinced both by Scripture and by a horrifying encounter I had with the terror of Hell over two decades ago that a shocking percentage of professing Christians are on their way to Hell. We must exhort one another into radical faith.

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:12-13

The risk of falling away is very real, and very terrifying:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. Hebrews 6:4-6

In my encounter, I was dragged toward Hell as a praying, worshiping, professing Christian—and I almost went mad. The terror is beyond anything I could ever describe and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. When people tell others to go to Hell, they have no idea what they are saying.

When I came out of the encounter I received the most troubling message that God has ever given me: Many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day. My life long mandate is to shout this truth and awaken the sleepers.

These are people who believe they are in Christ Jesus—but are not—and who are heading to a judgment day that will stun them. This is why continual warnings and messages of awakening must pierce our church culture. This is why anything less than a white hot, high bar atmosphere of fervent prayer, repentance and brokenness must be rejected in our churches. It’s time for Ichabod churches to be made known so it become clear who the martyr-minded true Believers are. Those who are willing to take up their cross make up the true church.

Today the world is watching millions of people following Jesus with no cross on their backs, and this is the heretical deception that must be exposed. God will, in time, reveal the wheat and the tares.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “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 will find it. Matthew 16:24-25

CHRISTIANS LIVING IN MINOR SIN GO TO HELL?

 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 1 Peter 4:18

With the emerging of the false-grace, or what I prefer to call unbiblical grace, teachings, the thought of worshiping, tithing, praying, Bible reading Christians who have great families and seem to be the model of righteousness going to Hell seems ridiculous.

I believe this is one of the most important passages of Scripture in today’s false-grace generation:

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. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:26-31

This means that tongue talking, hand lifting pastors, for example, can go to Hell if they struggle with lust. People that refuse to forgive another are at risk of Hell. If we continue in sin the Bible is clear—there remains no sacrifice for those sins. There are supposed minor sins such as gossip, lust, rebellion to authority, lying and others that seem to fly below our radar—but not God’s. We can’t continue in so called minor sins and presume all to be well. We will experience judgment in this life and in the next if we do not repent. This brings the sweet little lady who’s known as the church gossip into the light—and a terrifying light it is.

Have you ever met someone who has lived with unforgiveness in their heart? What about someone who is into pornography? It’s horrifying to think this, but those very people, even if they are amazing in every other way, are very possibly unsaved right now. Barna recently reported that 97% of BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN men are into pornography! 84% of Christian women are viewing pornography.

Is it any wonder Leonard Ravenhill famously said that he doubts that 5% of professing born again Christians in America are truly saved?

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation… Hebrews 2:1-3

CORRIE TEN BOOM

Consider Corrie Ten Boom. You may have read her story in the book The Hiding Place. She was a general in the faith as she and her family hid Jews during the Holocaust. Eventually they were discovered and were put into a concentration camp. She ministered Jesus in inhuman conditions. She was faithful in a time where all faith was lost. Ultimately, after torture at the hands of one particular guard and countless horrors, her entire family was killed. The war ended and Corrie was released.

Shortly after Corrie was walking down the road when a man approached her. He said, “Excuse me, you were in the camp, weren’t you?” Corrie affirmed that she was. He continued, “After the war I gave my life to Jesus. I prayed that he would allow me to find one person that I hurt so badly in the concentration camp.” It was the guard—the one who brutally tortured and killed her family. He said, “I told God that I wanted to seek their forgiveness. Would you please forgive me?”

Corrie, in her own words, shared her reaction. She said that she simply could not forgive him. As that thought consumed her soul, God spoke to her. He said, “Corrie, if you don’t forgive him, I won’t forgive you.” She knew, as a general in the faith, if she refused to forgive that man than she herself would die in her sins. Hell was her future. She then looked at the man who brought so much horror to her and took his hand and said, “I do forgive you.”

She said the love of God shot through her hand into the former guard’s.

Tragically, so many Christians today presume they are exempt from such truths in Scripture.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15

THIS IS A MUST WATCH VIDEO. IT WILL ROCK YOU TO TEARS:

DANIEL EKECHUKWU

Daniel Ekechukwu is a Nigerian pastor who died tragically in a car accident. He was told that he would go to Hell if he wasn’t raised up—because he refused to forgive his wife regarding an issue. Here’s a short transcript:

“Daniel, if the book of your life was to be closed today, this would be your portion.”

“No, I’m a pastor; I’m a child of God. I’m born-again — and I’ve preached all over….”

“Enough, Daniel, on your way to the first hospital, you were asking God to forgive you, but you would not forgive your wife. And your sins have not been forgiven. It is a matter of reaping what you’ve sown. You cannot sow unforgiveness to your wife and reap forgiveness from God.”

 

JOHN MELINDE

Check out this lengthy but wildly troubling story of an encounter by John Mulinde, a leader with a world ministry on every continent except Antartica. God told him, “If I had come today to take My Bride, you wouldn’t be part of that. I wouldn’t take you.” :

Then suddenly a bright light hit my eyes. My eyes were closed. I was on my knees with my head on the ground, but a bright light hit me. I lifted up my eyes and said, “What is this?” I opened my eyes and I couldn’t look in the light. Even when I closed them, it pierced into my eyes. I bowed my head again, and I was trembling and thinking, “What on earth is going on?” Then I heard a voice, deep and calm. He called my name three times. I couldn’t answer. There was no strength in me to answer, but inwardly I was saying, “I’m here.” He called me—“John”—three times.

Then He said to me, “I knew you before the creation of the world, and I chose you and set you apart to serve Me as a witness in these last days. I want to say to you, if I had come today to take My Bride, you wouldn’t be part of that. I wouldn’t take you.” I can’t describe the shock that came upon me. I think I was in shock. I didn’t even respond. It hit me. He repeated it. He said, “I wouldn’t take you. For it is written, ‘He will appear to those who wait upon Him’ (Isa. 49:23, paraphrased). You’re not living your life as a person waiting upon Me. You’re allowing all kinds of filth to come into your life. You’re living like one who cares not.” As I said, I couldn’t speak with my lips.

At that moment I was thinking, “This can’t be happening to me. I gave up my job to serve the Lord; I gave up my house that my father had given me because I wanted to go to the mission field. I gave up this, I gave up that; this can’t be God saying to me that He wouldn’t take me.” None of my theology and teachings could accept that. He spoke to me these words written in the book of 1 Corinthians 6. He quoted them; I found them later. I couldn’t even remember that they were in the Scriptures, but later on I found them in the Scriptures. It says: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:10). “THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS, AND DESPERATELY WICKED”

He went on to say to me, “Your life is so full of filth. You walk with an outward appearance, and you cover many things in your heart. You forget that I am the Lord who examines the heart. You are not ready to meet Me.” He began to say to me, “If your life is full of this and this and this and this, then are you ready for My appearance?” As He measured the various things, I could say, “OK, Lord, have mercy.” But then He mentioned one thing that my heart rejected. In my own understanding, I had never turned into that. He said, “If your life is full of fornication . . . ” And everything in me said, “Oh, no. That cannot be.” I said it in my heart, and the voice stopped. For a moment there was silence. Then He said to me, “There is no crooked word that comes out of My mouth. Do you call Me a liar? But because you don’t even know your own heart, I will show it to you. Remember this day when you were in this place at this hour?”

Brothers and sisters, I didn’t even remember. I practically saw myself back in that very moment—not as a memory, but as a reality. I was back in that moment. I saw myself sitting in the taxi waiting for the taxi car to be filled. Then I was looking out at some lady with all kinds of filthy imaginations. The moment it came back, I thought, “Oh, God, I have sinned against You.” He said, “No, you haven’t sinned. You live in sin. You live in that. You live from morning to evening in such imaginations. Even in your bed at night you indulge in the same. I know every moment of your private life. I know your thoughts. You don’t even fear, even sitting in church. Someone steps up on the platform to serve Me and you strip them naked in your imagination. You imagine all kinds of things. I am the Lord who examines the heart. Have you not read that he who even looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her (Mt. 5:28)?” Pictures began to pass before me of how my imagination works.

This isn’t something of which I could say, “Lord, I fell in sin. Lord, I was weak.” It was my way of life. It was my constant way of life. I was comfortable in it. I was comfortable that no one else could see it, but God was saying, “I see it. I am the Lord who examines the heart.” I was so ashamed, but then He said, “That’s not the worst of all. You still live in this.” He began to mention things that appear humanly small: the envy, the manipulation and undercutting of one another so that you remain appearing the best, so that you appear to do the best, to preach the best, to work more miracles, to be more anointed; all the manipulation and self-promotions, all the grudges we hold in our hearts when we see someone else being promoted or recognized before us.

The way the Lord brought it up, it was so filthy. I cried and cried, and at some point I was so intent on my grief. Then He raised His voice and said, “Keep quiet and listen.” “I NEVER KNEW YOU; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS!” I kept quiet, and He went on and on and on, unveiling more and more things. Even the things which appear so small, at that moment appeared so rotten. I felt like I was standing before the judgment seat with everything being thrown out. I wanted to say, “Stop, stop, I accept it all,” but He wasn’t stopping. At some point I was just saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He said, “Keep quiet.” I wasn’t speaking loudly; I was speaking in my heart. He said, “Keep quiet and listen.”

As He continued I thought, “I must have been deceived. All along I thought I was serving God and yet I’m so filthy inside. I must have been deceived. The Devil must have taken my life captive a long time ago.” At that moment I thought of the miracles we were witnessing. I thought of the healings. I thought of all those wonderful things, and suddenly my heart sunk. I thought, “The Devil has so deceived me that he could even use me to produce counterfeit miracles; to produce things I thought God was working—and yet it was the Devil all along . . . ”

The voice kept quiet for a moment, and then He said to me, “Why are you imagining such thoughts? I don’t do miracles because you’re worthy. I do miracles because I love My people before whom you stand to preach. Have you never read of how they will come to Me on that day and say, ‘Lord, Lord, in Your name we worked miracles, cast out demons, and prophesied’? Then I will say to them, ‘Get out of My sight, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you’” (Mt. 7:21–23, paraphrased). He said, “Don’t depend on the miracles to assess your worthiness. Your worthiness isn’t in the signs and wonders you witness in ministry. I do miracles because I love the people, and My name shall never be left without witness on earth.” He said, “Have you not ever read that without holiness, no one will see God (Heb. 12:14)? It’s not the miracles; it’s the holiness that comes from God.” He spoke to me the scripture in the book of Hebrews.

Here’s the full length sermon he delivered at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City—possibly one of the most powerful sermons ever:

Do we need to confess our sins as Believers? Should we be sin conscious?

Yes and yes.

False-grace teachers would say that it’s not necessary to confess sins because there is no sin in us. God’s grace has eradicated it.

Folks, let me be very, very clear: that is a heretical teaching that absolutely puts people at risk of Hell.

1 John 1:8-9 (ESV) 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Life Application Bible notes:

Being God’s people does not mean denying sin (1:8), but confessing it. Because all people are sinners, Jesus had to die. Because sin is not completely eradicated from the lives of those who believe in Jesus, God graciously gave his followers provision for the problem of sin.

It’s not only critical, but it’s wonderful to live in a state of continual repentance! God’s love for us is so amazing, that running away from sin and to him is awe inspiring!

As we daily allow God to search our hearts and reveal issues that are barriers to his love fully impacting us, the freedom and resulting life is amazing!

I often hear people say that Christians shouldn’t be sin conscious. Not only is that not biblical, it does us a disservice. Ignoring sin doesn’t disarm it, it empowers it! Allow God to reveal the darkness and set us free!

2 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV) 1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

We must remain diligent regarding sin. As we grow in grace and knowledge we will have the strength to remain stable.

2 Peter 3:14 (ESV) 14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

2 Peter 3:17-18 (ESV) 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

FIVE MARKS OF THE FALSE GRACE MESSAGE: A THEOLOGY OF EXEMPTION

I discuss this point in an article titled Five Marks of the False Grace Message:

Point One:

We believe in a theology of exemption.

A theology of exemption states that since we are saved, we are exempt from the penalties of sin. That there are parts of the Bible that no longer apply to us. Yes, it’s a heresy. False-grace removes bible-based responsibilities to respond to God in holiness.

The number of people who subconsciously or unwittingly embrace a theology of exemption is far greater than those who explicitly pronounce their agreement with this doctrine. Many subscribe to false-grace doctrines without realizing their deception.

Many have been lulled into a false sense of security while actually existing in an unsaved state. They are confident they’d enter Heaven if they died, yet the reality is that they would not. They have come to believe they are exempt from certain parts of the Word of God that requires response.

1 Peter 1:15-17 (ESV) 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,

Be holy. God judges according to one’s deeds. Those who hold to a theology of exemption don’t believe they are subject to what this verse is communicating. The command to be holy is to them a great goal, but not a mandate. A principle not a command.

Our name can actually be removed from the book of life—and that is determined by our obedience, our holiness. Sin can still separate a follower of Christ from him. The Rich Young Ruler saw that this was the case. He wanted to follow Jesus, but could not. He was not exempt from judgment even though he wanted to follow Jesus.

The argument of grace is actually quite revealing. People in the false-grace movement would say, “It’s not possible to be holy, or to avoid sin, so thank God for his grace that covers those sins. In fact we are automatically holy… innocent by association!”

Grace isn’t meant to cover up sin, grace is power! Those who walk in true grace would never say that we, as Christians, are predisposed to sin! True grace enables us to do the impossible! False-grace confesses that we cannot. Because of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, we now have something they didn’t have in the Old Covenant—we have the power to obey! We can do this!

In fact, not only aren’t we exempt from obedience in the New Covenant, the call to obedience is even more humanly impossible than in the Old!

Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

We as Christians are not exempt from judgment or from the repercussions of sin. If we are in Christ, there is no condemnation, but if we are deceived by false theology into thinking we are in Christ, while actually living in disobedience, we are in trouble. We are not in Christ and there is condemnation. No salvation. The wrath of God remains on us. False-grace doctrine is eternally deadly. There are many people following Jesus today in an unsaved condition.

John 3:35-36 (ESV) 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

John 3:18-19 (KJV) 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Deeds. Fruit. Works. They are evidences of our position in Christ.

Yes, it’s hard to get saved, hard to stay saved, but if we walk in humility and grace and in the Spirit, eternity with Jesus is our inheritance!

WHAT ABOUT GRACE?

I believe one of the most vile teachings the unbiblical grace message communicates is that we as Christians are hopeless—that we cannot find freedom from sin. It is presumed that we will continue in sin but we are exempt from judgment. What a fallacy that is! It is an offense to the cross to declare through our teachings that the sacrifice of our precious Lord is insufficient to keep us from sin.

True grace enables us to turn from temptation. Grace is power and we need a revelation of this power in the church like never before!

When we turn to God in repentance after falling, it’s the mercy of God that keeps judgment from us. If we are truly in Christ, repentant and walking in obedience, God will always be there to help us through every addiction, habit, fear, inappropriate thought and attitude of the heart. His grace empowers us to win! The cross is that powerful!

I often hear Christians say, “Well, we sin every day…” What? If we sin every day we have a serious sin problem. This is a very dangerous place to be. If we continue in sin, there remains no sacrifice for that sin! We need the true grace of God to enable us to walk free from sin, not free in sin!

We must shout this message and pray for a reformation in the understanding of salvation. Christian Universalism is moving at great speed. A local well known minister has recently declared their church to be gay friendly, that the Bible in it’s current form is not the accurate Word of God and that they believe that all will ultimately be saved. My God! This is a manifestation of a theological thread that is weaving into the fabric of mainstream Christianity.

This is exceedingly dangerous. Will you help sound the alarm? We must slow the flow to Hell and our mission begins in the church.

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? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 1 Peter 4:17-18

Salvation is not easy to receive or continue in, contrary to popular teachings—but for those who are truly saved, we have a glorious eternity with the lover of our souls ahead of us!

I wrestle with the severity of salvation daily, and while I do fail at times, I do not have a pattern of sin in my life—not because of my ability, but because of God’s. This must be the testimony of all, and from that place we can live in never-ending joy, freedom and abundant life!

Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18:26-30

Should we reject fear in all forms? Does God affirm certain types of fear?

We can damage our relationship with God if we reject all forms of fear.

imageAll too often I hear voices rising up aggressively against any form of fear, or what they would define as fear. That rejection is resulting in the eradication of core, foundational, scriptural truths—verses, principles and even the words of Jesus are ignored or twisted to serve an unbiblical view of love.

God used both positive and negative motivation when calling people to him—both his tangible love and literal fear are motivators to keep us in him.

If we reject healthy fear, or the fear of the Lord, we will sometimes quickly and sometimes gradually fall into a lukewarm, compromised state.

I want to invite you to read my book The Terror of Hell. I have made it available for FREE online. You can see it HERE.

I came out of that God given encounter with terror at such a high level that I almost went mad. Literally. The extremes in the spirit realm are so intense, both positively and negatively, that our natural man cannot handle it.

The fear I experienced in that encounter was from God. It was horrifying, but necessary. It was appropriate. It has never left me.

THREE TYPES OF FEAR

Healthy Fear

Healthy fear results from a analysis of a situation and a reaction to keep us out of harm’s way. The analysis can be well thought out and detailed, such as the development of a plan to save for college and complete a degree program to avoid the threat of poverty. It can also be instant and reactive. I remember falling asleep at the wheel and suddenly realizing I was veering into oncoming traffic. My heart skipped a beat and I was scared out of my mind. I pulled over and slapped my face and reenergized myself!

We also see the call to healthy fear cover to cover in the Bible as God provides warnings of tragedy, such as being eternally separated from him in Hell. Just as we would have a healthy fear of poverty or falling asleep at the wheel, it makes no sense that the principle wouldn’t be applicable regarding Hell.

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Revelation 3:1-3

If the church is asleep at the wheel, someone needs to sound an alarm that impending doom is drawing near!

But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Luke 12:5

Note that the above verse isn’t talking about a reverence for God, but rather it’s saying the be very afraid of where he can send you!

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. Matthew 5:22

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

Again, it is healthy to receive the warning of such a horrific possibility. It is absolutely healthy to fear Hell just as it is healthy to fear burning your finger on the stove.

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:41-42

It’s impossible to dismiss healthy fear and still read and receive the truth in scripture. Time and again God shocks us with insight into a horrible possible future for those who are not truly his. This healthy fear results in a deeper analysis of one’s commitment to Jesus. It no longer is possible to be casual in our relationship with him.

The parable of the talents is an excellent picture of healthy fear.

“‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' Matthew 25:28-30

Jesus was using healthy fear as a motivation to live productively, with focus and sobriety. Interestingly, Jesus’ reaction to the lazy servant was due to unhealthy fear that caused him to bury his talent! Let’s take a look at that.

SLAVISH FEAR

The lazy servant exhibited slavish fear, when instead he should have had healthy fear of Hell on his mind.

“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,' he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' Matthew 25:24-25

He was afraid. That was slavish fear. His focus was on self-preservation instead of honoring his master, and that focus on self resulted in a very destructive type of fear.

Slavish fear kills love. This is the type of fear that is being addressed in 1 John:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Love involves the self giving of one for the highest good of another. ~The New Unger's Bible Handbook.

When we truly love, our focus is not on our punishment, it’s on the object of our affection! If we lack love, we will fear punishment because we are selfish and inwardly focused.

Perfect love does not drive out healthy fear or the fear of the Lord. But it does absolutely drive out slavish fear.

Slavish fear is a self-centered expression that comes when we are overwhelmed with the thought of personal loss. The fear of man, for example, is slavish fear. We become overprotective, defensive and self-preserving, which results in extreme timidity as we distrust those we presume have the power to hurt us. Slavish fear manifests as anxiety, dread and panic. It’s crippling.

Slavish fear results when we feel powerless and threatened. This is where the love of God comes in! We surrender control to him from a place of faith and love and slavish fear begins to dissipate.

to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. Luke 1:74-75

This verse reveals the battle to be free from slavish fear, from fear of our enemies, as we live in the fear of the Lord.

FEAR OF THE LORD

Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:6

My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws. Psalm 119:120

The love of God and the fear of God are inseparable. The fear of the Lord results in us living a circumspect life from a place of loving devotion.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. John 14:15

John Bevere had the privilege of meeting with Jim Bakker of PTL fame in prison after his conviction for mishandling money. John asked Jim, “When did you stop loving God?” Jim replied, “John, I never stopped loving God. I stopped fearing God.”

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil. Proverbs 16:6

To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13

He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises him. Proverbs 14:2

 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27

Experiencing God’s love is insufficient (and radically incomplete) if it doesn’t result in the fear of the Lord. God’s love draws us close and the fear of God keeps us on guard. Fear of God is a fountain of life!

Often it is presumed that the fear of the Lord simply means reverence of the Lord. That is a woefully incomplete definition. Time and again, the fear of the Lord is translated as reverence and terror!

The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, Isaiah 8:13

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. Acts 9:31

In Acts 9:31, the word “fear” translates not as reverence, but as terror:

Transliteration: phobos

(to be put in fear); alarm or fright :- be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror.

When God makes himself known, terror will strike. How could it not? The voice of the Father resulted in terror in the disciples:

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don't be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. Matthew 17:5-8

I think it’s interesting that this was an expression of the Father’s love! God the Father was expressing his love for his Son, and the result was terror! Again, what else, in such an overwhelming encounter, could be expected?

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.  Psalm 19:9

Joseph Prince, false-grace and the risk of millions falling away

Millions of current Christians are at risk of spending an eternity in Hell—and few are saying anything about it.

imageThe leading teacher of what I believe to be the most dangerous, widespread heresy in the church today is the extremely popular pastor and teacher Joseph Prince.

Understand, I am extremely careful when it comes to dropping names—the fear of the Lord is all over me even as I write this. In fact, I can’t remember another person I’ve mentioned by name in this fashion in the last several years.

As I said, the fear of the Lord is on me, and when that happens, it sometimes propels me into caution, and at other times into risk. I understand this message put me in the category of risk. However, it’s a risk that’s easily worth it since literally millions of people’s eternities are at risk. I absolutely believe the core message that Joseph Prince teaches will result in shocked, church going, professing Christians entering Hell one day. It’s that serious.

I believe the hyper-grace message could be the end-time deception that will cause millions of people to fall away from God. ~Sid Roth

Jude 1:3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

While we should desire to talk about unity, our common salvation, I don’t believe we can do so on this matter. False-grace is an eternity and salvation issue. It’s not minor, it’s major.

Regarding naming the name of Joseph Prince, Chace Gordon said:

When I first stumbled into the false grace teachings of Joseph Prince, I was deeply grieved over it and sensed a tidal wave of heresy coming to American shores. I felt America was blessed that he was from Singapore, or the pervasive deception would have been even deadlier in America than it currently is, because it gave us time to counteract the error by teaching the Word before he became an American superstar and the false doctrine would expedite the demise of church influence in preserving the culture. I knew of NO ONE (initially)who was speaking out against this false doctrine on a large stage, only quiet murmurings of resistance, or the typical grumblings of denominational critics who despise prosperity, big churches and the Word of Faith movement.

I do not know Joseph Prince personally (although I know many close to him and some of his elders before him, both living and dead), but I became intimately acquainted with his message, and within a few week period, I wrote a detailed refutation of his book “Destined to Reign” and submitted it to fellow ministers whom I have relationship with, and to friends who accepted his teaching and propagated it themselves. My notes eventually became widespread, not because I led a public campaign attacking Joseph Prince, but because it was being privately distributed by other ministers who were also greatly disturbed.

During that time, before publicly denouncing him, I even contacted Joseph Prince Ministries and submitted a copy of my notes to them for them to respond to or correct any false conclusions I may have come to regarding his doctrine. After the typical form letter response, I finally received an email from one of the associate pastors who responded to none of the content itself, only stating that they did not wish to debate for the sake of Christian unity…but none of the grave concerns that I had communicated were addressed or any of the blatant errors apologized for.

Finally, I started to get contacted by pastors who had received copies of my notes given them by friends of friends. I started hearing testimonies of church splits and the like; but I still knew of few who were publicly taking a stand against this message. I did, however, hear of numerous private confrontations by respected ministers, who challenged him on his doctrine but he refused correction. If anything, Joseph Prince dug in his heels and even increased his outlandish unbiblical comments.

It became clear to me that there was grounds here for marking him publicly, as the heresy was widely publicized, damage to the body of Christ was ongoing, even impacting people within my own church congregation, and repentance was refused.

On a positive note, I believe the tide is being turned. When I first became involved with the hyper-grace message controversy, I heard more horror stories than anything else. Now at least, I'm hearing some positive testimonies in the mix of solid grace teaching to counteract the false hope and empty promises of cheap grace.

This is what burns in my spirit day after day. I know I’ve been given a serious mandate to sound the alarms necessary to awaken people out of a slumber that will result in an eternity in Hell.

imageI ask God often to keep reawakening me to the mandate that originated in an encounter I had with Hell 23 years ago. I will never be the same after that fateful night as the forces of Hell overtook me.

God said very clearly, “John, many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”

Now, 23 years later, I believe we have stumbled upon a great end time deception that can in fact result in what God warned me about. Church going, hand raising, tithe paying professing Christians who are convinced through false-theologies that they don’t have to deal with their sin…wonderful people who will die in those sins if we don’t warn them.

The fundamental deception in hyper-grace is that all of your future sins are forgiven in advance. ~Dr. Michael Brown

I strongly encourage you to watch the interview of Dr. Michael Brown by Sid Roth here: http://sidroth.org/television/tv-archives/dr-michael-brown 

Reggie D. Byrum said:

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16
In the view of the hyper-grace camp, why would we even need to do this? Why should we approach the throne of grace to obtain mercy, if past, present and future sins have already been forgiven, if God does not see the sins of a Christian and if Christians do not need to confess or repent of sin?

What is so sad is that people believe that dealing with sin is a negative issue. It is not! It’s glorious! What a privilege to serve a God who will get into our personal space and set us free time and again!

It’s not complex. If we sin and do not repent, we can’t presume to be in Christ Jesus. But, if we do repent, we are in Christ Jesus!

There are so many scriptures that make it clear that sin is a serious issue both before and after making the decision to follow Jesus. How much more clear could the following verse be? This is a salvation/eternity verse, and it’s applicable to Christians:

Matt 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

It’s clear. If we sin (refuse to forgive) we cannot just ignore it. We ourselves won’t be forgiven. Sin will remain in us, and our eternities are threatened.

DESTINED TO REIGN BY JOSEPH PRINCE

Honestly, it’s extremely easy to see the clear heresy that’s in his book—if only we have eyes to see.

I’m going to include a lengthy study by Pastor Chace Gordon below. Before I do, read what he wrote to me earlier today:

When I first wrote the notes refuting Destined to Reign, they were circulated widely and did not have my name attached to them. I was contacted by an elder minister who received an anonymous copy after going through a church split over Joseph Prince. He tracked me down through the person who gave it to him, and told me the story of how he was on a pastors cruise with a handful of copies of my notes on Destined to Reign. He asked another respected minister who was on the cruise what he thought of Joseph Prince. The respected minister defended him adamantly, saying “I've know Joe and ministered in his church every year for 18 years! There's nothing wrong with him!” After taking a look at my notes including quotes from the book, the respected minister exclaimed, “That's heresy! I never read the book but I will now!” The rest of the story is that minister on the cruise ship went on to become one of the ministers who confronted Joseph Prince in person over these matters. Joseph Prince refused to listen; but this man of God is now an outspoken voice against the false grace message.

This was very interesting to me as a highly respected national leader and a good friend mentioned that senior Christian leaders had attempted to bring Joseph Prince under church discipline for his teachings, but he refused to comply.

A THOROUGH REFUTATION OF THE FALSE-GRACE HERESY OF JOSEPH PRINCE

by Pastor Chace Gordon www.cornerstoneworld.org 

Quotes from “Destined to Reign”

Quote #1:

“I distinctly heard the voice of the Lord on the inside.  It wasn’t a witness of the Spirit.  It was a voice, and I heard God say this clearly to me:  ‘Son, you are not preaching grace.’  I said, ‘What do you mean, Lord?…’Every time you preach grace, you preach it with a mixture of law.  You attempt to balance grace with the law like many other preachers, and the moment you balance grace, you neutralize it.  You cannot put new wine into old wineskins.  You cannot put grace and law together.  He went on to say, ‘Son, a lot of preachers are not preaching grace the way Apostle Paul preached grace.”

Excerpt from the Foreword, page vii

NOTE:  Paul taught grace and law side-by-side throughout Romans chapters 5-6 for the express purpose of preventing doctrinal confusion.  In fact, the book of Romans uses the word “law” 78 times while only using the word “grace” 24 times.  Hence, teaching the law is often necessary as a basis before one can even begin to teach grace!  The heart must be convicted and humbled with the law before grace can be received.

The word “law” is referred to in Paul’s epistles 148 times in 108 verses; the word “grace” was used in Paul’s epistles 99 times in 92 verses.  Thus demonstrating that his “grace preaching” was a doctrinal balance of both law & grace.

It is true that the apostle Paul had more to say on the subject of grace than any other New Testament writer.  It even states in Acts 20:24 that testifying to the gospel of grace was the purpose of his life and ministry; however, he, and other New Testament writers, went to great length to keep the grace doctrine from being twisted and perverted as we must do as well.

(See Jude 4, Romans 5:20-6:2; Romans 6:14-16; II Corinthians 6:1; Galatians 1:6-10; Hebrews 10:29-31; II Peter 3:15-18)

Here is a side-by-side comparison of “grace teaching” versus “law teaching” throughout the Bible:

Usage of words in whole Bible (KJV):

The Bible addresses the law approximately three times as much as it addresses grace!

The word “law”:  used 523 times in 459 verses

The word “grace”: used 170 times in 159 verses

Conclusion:  The Bible as a whole has FAR MORE to say concerning the law than concerning grace.

Usage of words in the New Testament alone (KJV):

The New Testament addresses the law nearly twice as often as it addresses grace!

The word “law”:  used 223 times in 172 verses

The word “grace:” used 131 times in 122 verses

Conclusion:  While the New Testament has more to say on the subject of grace than the Old Testament, the New Testament STILL has FAR MORE to say concerning the law than concerning grace.

Usage of words in the gospels (KJV):

The gospels address the law eight times as much as they address grace!

The word “law”:  used 41 times in 35 verses

The word “grace”:  used 5 times in 4 verses

Conclusion:  Even though Jesus Himself ushered in the dispensation of grace to the church, the gospels have FAR MORE to say concerning the law than concerning grace!

Usage of words in the Book of Acts (KJV):

The Book of Acts addresses the law twice as much as it addresses grace!

The word “law”:  used 22 times in 21 verses

The word “grace”:  used 10 times in 10 verses

Conclusion:  The record of the early church has FAR MORE to say concerning the law than concerning grace!

Conclusion to it all:  There is no Biblical precedent to suggest teaching the law undermines the teaching of grace.  They are complementary doctrines.  In fact, the doctrinal teaching of the law is foundational to receiving the doctrine of grace!

Quote #2:

“It is entirely His [Jesus] effort and His [Jesus] doing.  Our part is to believe on Him and receive all that He has accomplished on our behalf.  Sounds ridiculously simple, one-sided and unfair?  Well, my friend, that is exactly what makes grace, grace!  Grace is only grace when it is undeserved, unearned and unmerited.”

Excerpt from foreword, page x

NOTE: This statement is confusing on several points:

(1)  It confuses God’s grace with a distorted view of God’s mercy.  It also assumes that God’s mercy cancels out God’s justice.  There is nothing “unfair” about God giving us His grace; but there is something infinitely merciful.  How can an infinitely merciful God extend grace to the sinner and not violate His infinite justice?  Through repentance.

Repentance is the place where justice and mercy kiss.  Without justice, mercy becomes cruel.  If the president of the United States, as an act of mercy, decided to pardon our prison population and loose them on society, the innocent would suffer as a result.  However, if a wicked man is truly penitent and puts his faith in God, he can qualify for pardon because he ceases to be a threat to society.  Though the penitent, formerly-wicked man does not deserve pardon, he can receive mercy without compromising justice.  Hence, the criminal does nothing to earn his salvation; yet qualifies for mercy through genuine repentance.

While grace is not something we earn through good works, it is something we must qualify for through repentance. 

(2) It assumes grace is exclusively for the undeserving.  It is not.  According to Luke 2:40, Jesus grew in grace.  Under the above definition, we would have to assume that Jesus “growing in grace” as a child means He was sinful during His youth.  This is total heresy and an increasingly common heresy in today’s culture.  While this may seem to be splitting hairs, this small error could lead someone down the path to destruction.

(3) It assumes the operation of grace is the same as its initial impartation.  It concludes that since receiving grace was effortless on our part, walking in grace after it’s received must be effortless as well.  But receiving a free gift by doing nothing to EARN it does not automatically mean you do nothing to USE it!

Ephesians 2:8-9 tell us we are saved by grace and not by works; however verse 10 tells us that we are saved UNTO good works!  Which means, we don’t do works to earn salvation, but once we are saved, by grace—we do good works!  It’s not effortless!

The key difference is this:  doing good works on your own apart from God will not save you; however, after you are saved, you do good works because now you are participating with God!  Grace is what enables that participation.  You still have responsibility.  You still have effort.  The difference is, you are united with Christ and He gives you the strength, a.k.a. grace, to do alongside of Him, what you could never do on your own.

Quote #3:

“Do you realize that most people believe that one needs to work hard to achieve success in life?  The world’s system of success is built on the twin pillars of self-effort and diligence.  There are always some “laws” that you have to abide by, and some “methods and techniques” that you have to keep on practicing before there can be any results.  Most of the time, any result that you may get will start to fade once you cease to follow through with the prescribed methods and steps.  We have been taught to focus on achieving, on doing and on relying on our self-efforts.  We are driven to ‘do, do, do’, forgetting that Christianity is actually ‘done, done, done’.”

Chapter 1, Page 4

NOTE:  Grace doesn’t do away with the Biblical virtue of hard work (See Proverbs 18:9; 20:4, 13; 21:25-26; 24:30-34; 26:13-16; Matthew 5:16; 25:14-30; II Thessalonians 3:10; I Corinthians 9:19; 15:10; II Corinthians 6:1; II Timothy 2:15).  Diligence is still a necessary part of the Christian experience (See John 8:31; Hebrews 11:6; II Peter 1:4-10) and your results WILL fail when you stop being diligent!  (See Galatians 1:6-10; I Timothy 1:5-6, 19; Hebrews 3:6).  “Achieving” is not an evil concept especially when God has provided incentive and guidelines to obey (Deuteronomy 28; Matthew 25:14-30; Philippians 3:14-16; II Timothy 2:3-7; I Corinthians 9:24-27).  

The Bible tells us to “do, do, do” because though Christ’s redemptive work on the cross IS “done, done, done” Christians still have a lot left to do (see the Sermon on the Mount, the Great Commission, the Book of ACTS, the book of Titus (whose theme is GOOD WORKS) and the Book of James (whose theme is being DOERS of the Word)!

Grace is incompatible with works of self-righteousness (See Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:21; 5:4); but grace is also God’s power working THROUGH you and me because we are cooperating with Him!  (See Ephesians 3:7; Philippians 4:13; Romans 6:1-11; Colossians 2:6).

Quote #4:

“Under the new covenant, we don’t have to keep on asking the Lord…for forgiveness because He has already forgiven us.”

Chapter 1, page 7

NOTE:  While it is true that if you repent of something once, it is not necessary to repent of the same sin twice; however, if you sin again, you must repent—again. “The modern fallacy that judicial forgiveness covers ALL sins, past, present, and future; that God does not impute sins of believers to them; and that God never condemns a saved man for any sins committed, but charges them to the Lord Jesus Christ, is one of the most unscriptural and demon-inspired theories in any church…He will forgive all sins that are confessed to Him, but this does not give the saved man a blank check to continue in sin and live as he pleases without any fear of being held accountable for his sins after he has one time been saved.  Salvation does not include freedom to live in sins of all kinds.  It does not guarantee immunity from hell if one goes back into sins and dies in them.”

–Finis Dake

If Christians had a “blank check” to sin and never had to ask forgiveness after they are saved—why did God tell so many believers to repent in hundreds of scriptures, in both old and new testaments?  Why did Paul go to many of the churches that he planted, that he witnessed their conversions, and that he laid hands on to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit—why did he go to these churches and admonish them to repent—if their sins were forgiven past, present AND future?  Why did John write to believers in I John 1:9 and encourage them to confess their sins if they stopped walking in the light (I John 1:7)?  Why does the book of Revelation warn that your name can be blotted out of the Book of Life if one-time repentance is a blank check for everlasting forgiveness?  Why did Peter say that if a Christian backslides into sin after being delivered—his outcome becomes WORSE?

The truth is grace does MORE than cover our sins or empower us to ignore our pesky consciences.  Grace empowers us to stop sinning and walk in the light (I John 1:7).  I suggest that we don’t sin when walking in the light—we sin when we walk away from it!

Here are several sample scriptures that are examples of how eternal life can be lost and that the saved die again when they commit sin

Genesis 2:17; Exodus 32:32-33; Leviticus 18:24-30; 26:13-39; Numbers 25:1-8; Deuteronomy 4:23-31; Joshua 7:, 10-12; Judges 2:1-23; I Kings 14:22; II Kings 17:1-17; II Chronicles 36; Isaiah 5:24-25; Jeremiah 2:5-37;  Lamentations 1:8-9; Ezekiel 13:1-23; Hebrews 12:28-29; Psalm 69:28; Revelation 3:5; Matthew 7:21; I John 4:8, 12, 16, 21; Galatians 1:6-8; Mark 11:25-26; I Corinthians 3:16-17; Luke 8:13; John 6:66; II Corinthians 5:17; Romans 11:16; Acts 1:20, 25; Colossians 2:8-19; Jude 12-13; II Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16; Philippians 3:7-14; I Thessalonians 3:8; James 5:19-20; & II Peter 1:4-10.

Here are several other sample scriptures that reveal eternal life is not an eternal possession now and will not be until the end of a life of holiness:

Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-29; Mark 16:15; Matthew 12:31-32; Acts 5:3, 32; 7:51; I Corinthians 3:16-17; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; Matthew 19:28-29; Romans 2:7; Romans 6:21-23; Romans 5:21; Galatians 6:7-8; I Timothy 1:16; I Timothy 4:8; I Timothy 6:12, 19; Titus 1:2; 3:7; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13; 3:7; I John 2:25; Jude 20-24; Daniel 12:2; John 5:28; Matthew 25:46; Matthew 7:13-14; etc.

Here are several more plain scriptures that demonstrate men have to continue to the end to be saved:

Matthew 10:22; Romans 6:21-23; Hebrews 3:6, 12-14; 6:11-12; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; Hebrews 10:23, 35-39; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; Matthew 19:28-29; Romans 2:7; Romans 6:21-23; Romans 5:21; Galatians 6:7-8; I Timothy 1:16; I Timothy 4:8; I Timothy 6:12, 19; Titus 1:2; 3:7; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13; 3:7; I John 2:25; Jude 20-24; Daniel 12:2; John 5:28; Matthew 25:46; & Matthew 7:13-14.

Here are a few more scriptures that demonstrate the promises and covenants of God are conditional

John 5:14; John 8:31, 34; Revelation 2:4-5, 10, 13-16, 20-25; 3:1-4, 11, 15-19.

Here are several scriptures concerning faith and faithfulness to the end to be saved:

Acts 14:22; Romans 1:5; 16:26; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38-39; Romans 3:3; Romans 11:20-24; I Corinthians 16:13; II Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:23: I Timothy 1:19; 4:1; II Timothy 3:8; Hebrews 3:6, 12-14; 4:11; 6:11-12; 10:23-39; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13.

Here are several scriptures about saved men falling into sin and becoming lost:

Luke 8:13; Romans 11:11-24; I Corinthians 10:13; I Timothy 3:6; 6:9-10; Hebrews 6:4-6, 11; II Peter 3:17; Galatians 5:4; Romans 14:4; Jude 20-24; Romans 11:22; Acts 1:25; II Thessalonians 2:3; & Revelation 2:5-6.

Quote #5:

“John 1:17, KJV—‘For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”  Have you noticed that truth is on the side of grace, not the law?’”

Chapter 2, page 12

NOTE:  The point of truth being on the side of grace goes to show that grace must still be tempered with truth.  Are God’s laws “lies” because they were in the Old Testament?  Is “truth” sided AGAINST the law because of its connected usage with grace?  NO!!!  It only shows that LIKE THE LAW, GRACE must still be partnered with TRUTH!

Quote #6:

“Grace is personal and came as a person—the person of Jesus Christ.  The law is hard, cold and impersonal.  You cannot have a relationship with two pieces of stone.  But grace is gentle and warm.  Grace is not a teaching or doctrine.  Grace is a person and you can have a relationship with a person.”

Chapter 2, page 12

NOTE:  Grace—Jesus.  Law—stone.  Grace—warm and fuzzy.  Law—hard and cold.   Grace—person.  Law—doctrine.  Grace—good.  Law—bad.  Interesting use of metaphors; but however you try to distinguish the law from grace you must still recognize that Jesus THROUGH GRACE FULFILLED LAW, as opposed to through grace God looked past His state of lawlessness (how many modern preachers would foolishly characterize grace today).

Quote #7:

“Therefore, when you know and believe that Jesus has fulfilled completely the righteous requirements of the law, the devil cannot use the law to condemn you every time you fail.”

Chapter 2, page 15

NOTE:  The idea suggested here seems to be that a revelation of Christ’s fulfillment of the law removes condemnation; however, it also infers that this revelation will do nothing to prevent ongoing failure.  The main problem with this statement is it leaves the believer condemned to failure while promising a removal of condemnation for his failure.   Must we settle for such cheap grace?  Can we not believe for grace to do more than help us feel better while we fail?  Let’s instead believe God to not only remove the sense of condemnation, but to remove the failure that brings the condemnation!

Quote #8:

“I told my minister friend that I actually do not agree that grace should be a topic in a Bible school’s curriculum.  Grace is not a topic—grace is the gospel…Grace is not a theology.  It is not a subject matter.  It is not a doctrine.  It is a person, and His name is Jesus.”

–Chapter 3, page 24

NOTE:  (Sigh.)  Is this not a self-refuting paragraph?  Is this not a topical & theological book on the doctrine/subject matter of grace?  While there is nothing terrible or wrong with making an association of grace with the person of Christ Jesus, let’s go ahead and make the association of Christ Jesus and the Word made Flesh as well.  You see, studying the Word (even the Old Testament—GASP) actually brings us closer to the person of Jesus.  I suggest that a chief bi-product of this intimacy with the Word made flesh is sound doctrine concerning grace.  I would also suggest that a person who teaches doctrine without acknowledging it as such smells “fishy.”  Sort of like saying, “I am the great and powerful Oz so…ignore the man behind the curtain!” or “Since my doctrine on grace IS Jesus Himself—don’t doubt Jesus by questioning me!”  Nice catch-22.

Quote #9:

“So when they [preachers] see sin, they preach more of the law!  That, my friend, is like adding wood to fire because the strength of sin is the law.  Sin is strengthened when more law is preached!  But the power to have dominion over sin is imparted when more grace is preached!”

Chapter 3, page 26

NOTE:  First, let’s properly understand the context of “the strength of sin is the law” taken from I Corinthians 15:56: “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.”

Is this verse in any way implying that the law makes people sin MORE, as the author suggests?   What is this verse saying?

First, let’s look at the first part of the verse: “the sting of death is sin”.  What is this saying?  Simply put, sin makes death painful.  No problem there.  The sting of death is sin.  Sin is the sting of death.  In short, sin stings.

Now the second part:  “…and the strength of sin is the law” or, in other words, “and the strength of [the sting of death] is the law.”  So…the law makes the sting of death, a.k.a. sin, hurt more.

Now, is this in any way saying the law makes people sin more?  No, it is saying the law makes people hurt more because the effect of sin is made apparent in their lives.  No different than spanking a child.  Does spanking a child make the child sin more, even though the scriptures recommend it?  You might make the case that giving a spanking provokes a child to sin (if not properly applied), but the purpose of the spanking is for the child to associate their sin with pain.  No more, no less.  The purpose of the law is the same:  to associate sin with pain.

So, preaching the law may be adding wood to the fire, in the sense that the person living in sin who hears it feels its pain to a greater degree, but the sting of sin must be felt before the salve of grace is applied to any purpose.  The law can be prescribed like pouring alcohol on an open cut:  its purpose is not to stop the pain, it’s to treat the wound.  The law and grace work together and this is a necessary partnership—because the greater problem of sin is not that we FEEL it; it’s that we keep doing it!  Grace is then applied and preached to restore the sinner AFTER the sinner not only escapes the pain of sin (felt more intensely through the law) but flees sin itself!  The law brings necessary pain to the unrepentant; then after repentance, grace converts the sinner and the pain of sin, condemnation, and the sin itself, is fully dealt with and removed from a person’s life!

Quote #10:

“They say that God gives you the gift of righteousness, on the condition that you keep the Ten Commandments for the rest of your life to remain righteous.  Now, is this a real gift?  Come on,  when God gave you the gift of righteousness, it was a real gift.  Stop trying to earn it with your own works.  God’s gifts to us are unconditional!”

                                                                                                                             Chapter 3, page 28

NOTE:  The gift God gave us was “righteousness” itself.  If you sin, you reject the gift.  It is a ridiculous and dishonest proposition to suggest that since we were given the gift of righteousness, we are righteous whether we are righteous or not (See the entire book of I John).  Obviously, God’s gifts ARE conditional in the sense that if He gives us the gift of righteousness, we should BE righteous, and not just assert that the gift means we have an unconditional claim on righteousness.

Quote #11:

“My friend, righteousness is a gift because of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross for you.  All your sins—past, present and future—have been washed clean by His precious blood.  You are completely forgiven and from the moment you received Jesus into your life, you will never be held liable for your sins ever again.”

Chapter 3, pages 28-29

NOTE:  Unconditional forgiveness.  Herein lies the root of error that leads to so many heresies.  All of this quote is true save one important point that makes the difference between a truth and a lie:  righteousness is a gift because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross for you.  All your sins—past and present—have been washed clean by His precious blood, and because of grace you don’t have to have a “FUTURE SINS TO BE FORGIVEN” category!  But if future sins happen, your prescription is not denial, it’s found in I John 1:9.

Quote #12:

“…when believers don’t understand that righteousness is a gift, and that it is about ‘right standing’ and not ‘right doing’, they will depend on their own efforts to earn this gift.”

Chapter 3, page 34

NOTE:  Right standing implies right doing.  The debate, I guess would be, is right standing compatible with wrong doing?  I don’t think that’s the kind of right standing God had in mind.

Quote #13:

“My friend, those who believe that God is sometimes angry with them are still living under the old covenant of the law and not under the new covenant of grace.”

Chapter 4, page 38

NOTE:  So the cross was to convert God the Father from his temper problem against sin?  There are numerous New Testament examples that God still gets mad at both sin and sinners, through Jesus example, through the epistles’ doctrine, and through prophetic warnings of the coming wrath of God.  One only needs to read the book of Revelation to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God still gets angry; and if one reads Revelation 2-3 in particular, they will see that He still gets angry at church people from time to time, even among those He loves who live prior to the tribulation!

Quote #14:

“Schizophrenic teaching that tells you that God is sometimes angry and sometimes happy with you based on your performance is unscriptural and will make you a schizophrenic believer.  It’s time to get out of confusion and to start seeing your God for who He really is.”

Chapter 4, page 48

NOTE:  There is nothing schizophrenic about experiencing a range of emotions for people you love when they perform well or perform badly.  Evidently, the cross not only converted God from His temper problem it saved Him from being schizophrenic and acted as an anti-depressant for mood swings and anxiety.  Now He has only one emotion all the time (at least while the church is here, then after the rapture He will explode in uncontrollable rage after 2000 + years of happy, happy, happy.)

I realize no one would actually ascribe to believe the above paragraph; however, I’m trying to make the point that we sometimes go too far in our analogies about how happy God is with us that we begin to paint an illusion of the nature of God that is very different from His true Person.

Quote #15:

“Soon after the tragedy of September 11 had taken place, some believers publicly declared that God was judging America because of its sins…Come on, when Christians attribute such events to God’s judgment, terrorists would be the first to say, ‘Amen!  Preach it!’  Can you see that something is amiss when both believers and terrorists agree on the same thing?

Chapter 5, page 49

NOTE:  The devil believes in God and divine judgment, why shouldn’t some of his followers?  Can you also see that something is amiss when believers and secular humanists agree to scoff/belittle/patronize the notion of divine judgment?

Quote #16:

“Thousands of people died [referring to 9/11], and many families, friends and loved ones were thrown into grief.  How can that be the work of our loving Father?  Read the Bible for yourself.  It says that God is ‘not willing that any should perish.’”

Chapter 5, page 49

NOTE:  Reading the Bible is always sound advice…in fact, let’s start by reading the rest of the verse cited above:  “[God is] not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  This verse is in II Peter 3:9, which ironically, is a New Testament verse in the middle of a large passage of scripture dedicated to warning believers about divine judgment.  The theme being that in the last days many would scoff at the coming judgment of God, and that if men don’t repent, even though God wills to save, even though God wills that none should perish, men will still perish as part of divine judgment.

The classic argument being that these verses refer to a future judgment exclusively, and that we are in an interim period where God has (please pardon my crude theological paraphrase):  “lovingly decided to stop being judgmental because of the cross (but will have a relapse after the church is gone and judge again in the future).”

Nevertheless, one would be right in saying these verses refer to a future judgment, they do—but not exclusively.  So one must ask the question:  In this “Age of Grace” (or “justice-free Shangri-La” as the Age of Grace is often described), do men still perish?  They do.  Is the command to repent still applicable to us?  It is.  Did God decide to wink at us and ruthlessly judge everyone else by a different standard?  He did not.  In fact, I Peter 4:17-19 tells us that divine judgment not only still applies to us, it begins with us!

Jesus did not die on the cross so the Father would stop being judgmental.  He did not die on the cross to deliver us from consequences to bad behavior.  He died on the cross to provide a way of escape to those who would repent.  Though we repent, if we sin again (as II Peter 2:19-22 tells us) consequences are reinstated.

We cannot have a loving Father and an unjust one at the same time.  A loving Father punishes evil (or refuses to sanction it), to preserve righteousness in His children.  The Bible instructs natural parents to discipline (and punish, if necessary) their children.  Good parents do that.  Hebrews 12:5-29 tells us that God the Father chastens those He loves.  Revelation 3:19 tells us that Jesus rebukes and chastens those He loves.  I Corinthians 5:1-5 tells us that a church was to surrender one of their members to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit might be saved.  There comes a point when wickedness MUST be judged to preserve righteousness.

One might ask, “how can God be just and merciful at the same time?”  It is simple.  God is just in that He punishes wickedness.  He is merciful in that He forgives and pardons the penitent who turn from their crimes.  If they turn back to their sin, they must renew themselves through true repentance once again.  They are not given a lifetime pass.

Quote #17:

“I have also heard some believers pronouncing, ‘If God does not judge America for all its sins, God has to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.’ Well, let me say this with honor and respect: If God judges America today, He has to apologize to Jesus and what He has accomplished on the cross! My friend, God is not judging America (or any country in the world today).”

Chapter 5, page 49

NOTE:  Proverbs 19:28-29 says the following:

“An ungodly witness scorneth judgment:  and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.  Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.”

Divine judgment is throughout the Old Testament and was a common theme in nearly every book.  That theme was continued through our Lord Jesus in the Gospels when He declared judgment upon men, cities, nations and churches who failed to receive Him.  In fact, Jesus rebuked the religious leaders in Matthew 23:23 for NEGLECTING to teach judgment.  Many of the judgments Christ pronounced took place long after the cross.  The epistles teach and warn concerning divine judgment as well.  Hebrews 6:2 lists “judgment” as a foundational doctrine of Christ, the MILK of the Word for babes!  Yet we arrogantly or presumptuously mock the importance of it and say, “Nah, it doesn’t apply to us!”  FOOLISH!

Quote #18:

“You will never find an example of God punishing a believer for his sins in the new covenant.”

Chapter 5, page 57

NOTE:  Please see the following examples of God punishing believers for their sins in the new covenant:

(1)  Ananias & Saphira—Acts 5:1-14(2)  The Galatian church—Galatians 6:7-8

(3)  The promiscuous church member at Corinth—I Corinthians 5:4-5; II Corinthians 2:6

(4)  Christian brothers who maintain certain sins—I Corinthians 5:9-13

(5)  Hymenaeus & Alexander—I Timothy 1:19-20; II Timothy 4:14

(6)  The younger widows—I Timothy 5:11-15

(7)  Sinning brothers—I Timothy 5:20

(8)  Believers who become lovers of money—I Timothy 6:9-10

(9)  Demas—II Timothy 4:10 (see also Colossians 4:14  & Philemon 24 for confirmation he was not only a believer, but a one-time preacher)

(10)  Huge segments of the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 2-3)

Also note God’s divine judgment illustrated in the death of Herod (Acts 12:23), Elymas the sorcerer being struck with blindness (Acts 13:8-12) and God’s use of civil government to punish evil (Romans 13:1-6).

Quote #19:

“Did Jesus die on the cross to free us from committing sinful actions or harboring sinful thoughts?  If He did, then allow me to conclude with reverence that He failed.  You and I know fully well that we can still be tempted with sinful thoughts and tempted to commit sinful actions, and there will still be times when we fail.”

–Chapter 5, pages 58-59

NOTE:  To be blunt, this is a most inflammatory, heretical & unbelieving statement which is contrary to all the Word of God.  Yet, it is what so many preachers believe without saying it so recklessly.

The simple answer is “YES”; Jesus DID die to not only free us from our sins, but from our iniquities (bent towards sin) as well (Isaiah 53:5).  He didn’t just forgive us for the sins we commit.  His grace delivers us not only from the sins we commit; but from the sin nature that accompanies sin.  II Peter 1:4-10 tells us how we can stay free from sin.  I John 1:8-9 says that if we have fellowship with God but continue to walk in darkness (continue sinning) we lie.  Then it also reveals that we are cleansed and maintain freedom from sin by walking in the light.  We don’t sin as believers when we walk in the light; we sin when we walk away from it.  In which case, we do as I John 1:9 instructs, we repent and get back in the light!

Let me also say that temptation itself is not sin.  Jesus was tempted and remained sinless.  Wrong thoughts or suggestions of the devil don’t become transgressions unless acted upon (James 1:14-15).  Wrong thoughts or suggestions of the devil don’t become iniquities unless brooded about and not cast down (II Corinthians 10:5).

Grace that merely “helps sinners not transgress as much as before” is just cheap.  You don’t need salvation for that, a monastery will suffice.  Grace that not only removes sin, condemnation, & the slavery to keep committing it is the only grace worth having!  Everything else is a cheap counterfeit!  God help our unbelief!!!

Quote #20:

“…I was told that the more I knew, the more God would hold me accountable, and my punishment for falling short of His expectations would be more severe than someone who knew less…I was also taught that the closer I drew to God, the more trials and tribulations I would experience…As I grew in the Lord, He opened my eyes and I realized that the teachings that I had received were not true.”

Chapter 6, pages 61-62

NOTE:  These teachings are not lies—they are common sense.  When a believer matures, more is expected of him (James 3:1); You expect more from adults than babies because part of maturity is taking responsibility (Hebrews 5:11-14)—and yes, the more you mature, the greater trials you will face!  Adults tend to have bigger trials than babies.  This is not a fearful thing though, because adults are equipped to handle it.  The premise here is that teaching these things causes believers to shun intimacy with God for fear of greater expectations upon themselves.  Don’t worry!  If a person chooses to stay a spiritual baby to avoid growth pains they can and will.  Personally, I prefer to grow up and tap into the destiny that God has for me.  I want God to trust me to rise to His expectations because of His grace and my partnership with Jesus Christ.

Quote #21:

“You see, faith does not come by simply hearing the word of God because the word of God would encompass everything in the Bible, including the law of Moses.  There is no impartation of faith when you hear the Ten Commandments preached.  Faith only comes by hearing the word of Christ…Only when Christ is preached will faith be imparted.”

Chapter 7, page 75

NOTE:  The complexities of doctrinal confusion in this statement are so vast it is difficult to give a simple refutation.  Nevertheless, it raises some important questions for Pastor Prince:

(1)  How is “the Word of God” out of harmony with “the Word of Christ” in your estimation that makes it necessary to make this distinction?

(2)  Since the Word of God encompasses everything in the Bible, but the Word of Christ does not, which words belong to Christ, and which do not?

(3)  If the law of Moses is God-inspired, why is it not Christ-inspired as well?  Is there strife in the Godhead, or did Jesus convert the Father/Holy Spirit at the cross?

(4)  Why do only the words of Christ produce faith, but not the words of the Father or the Holy Spirit?

(5)  If the law of Moses came from God, but didn’t produce faith in them that heard it, why did so many people try to obey something they had no capacity to believe?

(6)  If the law of Moses doesn’t produce faith, why did Israel experience so many revivals when it was taught to the people (II Kings 22-23; Nehemiah 8-10)?

(7) If the Ten Commandments don’t produce faith, why has our nation sunk further into spiritual darkness since we’ve removed it from our schools, courthouses and public places?

In summary, splitting hairs between “Word of God” verses “Word of Christ” is absurd since Jesus was called “the Word made Flesh (John 1:14)”  and was in the beginning WITH God AS God called “The Word of God (John 1:1).”  Nothing that Christ ever said is out of harmony with the Father or the Holy Spirit, because they are one (I John 5:7).   All of the Word of God contains and produces faith, not just words pertaining directly to Christ Himself (see Hebrews 11:3 & Romans 4:17 for examples).  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, is considered the inerrant Word of God and is necessary for edification of the believer (II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:19-21).  No scripture is subject to private interpretation, nor is it wise to sift through scripture saying, “this is the word of Christ—this is not.”  Hebrews chapter 11 lists many who are referred to as “heroes of faith” who knew no distinction between “word of God” verses “word of Christ”, yet received faith from God’s Word anyway. 

Just for clarification, it is right and proper to teach and preach based on a revelation of Christ (like Paul did, Galatians 1:11-12) and hearing the Word of God/Word of Christ IS the method that faith comes.  However, a revelation of Christ—or an understanding of the words of Christ—are not limited to a hand-picked selection of New Testament verses.  The Word of Christ encompasses all of the Bible and INCLUDES THE LAW OF MOSES!

Quote #22:

“I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a Christian cannot commit the unpardonable sin.”

Chapter 8, page 90

NOTE:  Here are several sample scriptures that are examples of how eternal life can be lost and that the saved die again when they commit sin

Genesis 2:17; Exodus 32:32-33; Leviticus 18:24-30; 26:13-39; Numbers 25:1-8; Deuteronomy 4:23-31; Joshua 7:, 10-12; Judges 2:1-23; I Kings 14:22; II Kings 17:1-17; II Chronicles 36; Isaiah 5:24-25; Jeremiah 2:5-37;  Lamentations 1:8-9; Ezekiel 13:1-23; Hebrews 12:28-29; Psalm 69:28; Revelation 3:5; Matthew 7:21; I John 4:8, 12, 16, 21; Galatians 1:6-8; Mark 11:25-26; I Corinthians 3:16-17; Luke 8:13; John 6:66; II Corinthians 5:17; Romans 11:16; Acts 1:20, 25; Colossians 2:8-19; Jude 12-13; II Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16; Philippians 3:7-14; I Thessalonians 3:8; James 5:19-20; & II Peter 1:4-10.

Here are several other sample scriptures that reveal eternal life is not an eternal possession now and will not be until the end of a life of holiness:

Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-29; Mark 16:15; Matthew 12:31-32; Acts 5:3, 32; 7:51; I Corinthians 3:16-17; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; Matthew 19:28-29; Romans 2:7; Romans 6:21-23; Romans 5:21; Galatians 6:7-8; I Timothy 1:16; I Timothy 4:8; I Timothy 6:12, 19; Titus 1:2; 3:7; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13; 3:7; I John 2:25; Jude 20-24; Daniel 12:2; John 5:28; Matthew 25:46; Matthew 7:13-14; etc.

Here are several more plain scriptures that demonstrate men have to continue to the end to be saved:

Matthew 10:22; Romans 6:21-23; Hebrews 3:6, 12-14; 6:11-12; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; Hebrews 10:23, 35-39; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; Matthew 19:28-29; Romans 2:7; Romans 6:21-23; Romans 5:21; Galatians 6:7-8; I Timothy 1:16; I Timothy 4:8; I Timothy 6:12, 19; Titus 1:2; 3:7; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13; 3:7; I John 2:25; Jude 20-24; Daniel 12:2; John 5:28; Matthew 25:46; & Matthew 7:13-14.

Here are several scriptures concerning faith and faithfulness to the end to be saved:

Acts 14:22; Romans 1:5; 16:26; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38-39; Romans 3:3; Romans 11:20-24; I Corinthians 16:13; II Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:23: I Timothy 1:19; 4:1; II Timothy 3:8; Hebrews 3:6, 12-14; 4:11; 6:11-12; 10:23-39; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13.

Here are several scriptures about saved men falling into sin and becoming lost:

Luke 8:13; Romans 11:11-24; I Corinthians 10:13; I Timothy 3:6; 6:9-10; Hebrews 6:4-6, 11; II Peter 3:17; Galatians 5:4; Romans 14:4; Jude 20-24; Romans 11:22; Acts 1:25; II Thessalonians 2:3; & Revelation 2:5-6.

Quote #23:

“A believer has already received the gift of eternal life and will never be “subject to eternal condemnation.”

Chapter 8, page 92

NOTE:  See scriptures from previous quote.  Particularly the scriptures that reveal eternal life is not an eternal possession now.

Quote #24:

“…some of the words which Jesus spoke in the four gospels…are part of the old covenant.  They were spoken before the cross as He had not yet died.  The new covenant only beginsafter the cross, when the Holy Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost.”

Chapter 8, page 92

NOTE:  (Sigh).  The gospels are the foundation for the new covenant; not merely the capstone for the old.  Jesus didn’t come to earth to teach us about the old covenant.  He certainly didn’t prep His disciples, “Guys, I want you to record the things I say and do and then ignore it because after I’m gone—none of it applies to you anyway.  A man named Paul will come who will teach you what to believe about me.  For now, I want it to be a surprise, so just keep bumbling around like idiots until I’m long gone.”

None of the gospels were written so Jesus could propagate the old covenant!  The gospel of Matthew could probably be considered the most “Old Testament” of the four gospels because it was written to Jews; and yet, the subject of Matthew from the first chapter until the last is the kingdom of heaven (of which the church is a part).  Everything about this gospel is revolutionary, and was written to convert Jews to Christianity.  Why would this gospel be used to evangelize if it was merely an extension of the Old Testament?  It wouldn’t.

The gospel of Mark and Luke were written to evangelize Romans and Greeks.  Why would they need Old Testament teachings of Jesus?  I thought evangelizing Gentile nations was a mark of the new covenant, not the old!

For Pete’s sake, the gospel of John was written to the church!

Now Jesus DID say that there were things He could not teach them yet because they were not ready to bear it; however, John 14:26 said that one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit when He comes is: “TO REMIND THE DISCIPLES WHAT JESUS TAUGHT! “  We all need that reminder.

Quote #25:

“Not everything that Jesus said was spoken to the church.  Paul’s letters were written to the church and are thus for our benefit today.  God raised him up to write the words of the ascended Jesus…That is why, when it comes to reading the Bible, I always encourage new believers in our church to begin with the letters of Paul.  (Many new believers like to start with the book of Revelation or Genesis, without first getting a foundation in the gospel of grace through reading the letters of Paul.)”

Chapter 8, page 94

NOTE:  If Paul had all the post-cross doctrine and revelation we need, why would the church need Jesus’ pre-cross teaching?  Why did Paul say we have the “mind of Christ” if all we need is the “mind of Paul?”

The answer is:  our salvation starts with Jesus, not Paul (See I Corinthians 1:13).  Our doctrine starts with Jesus, not Paul.  Our chief example of compassion, ministry, authority and power is Jesus Himself—not Paul.  Paul’s ministry began with a revelation of Jesus, not Paul coming to self-actualization.  Christ showed us how we can live through His own example.  He taught us what to believe through His own words.  When Pentecost came, a foundation of the Word in new covenant terms through the Word made Flesh was already laid.  The disciples didn’t have to make up their own doctrines after Jesus left!  They taught the good NEWS—that is, what Christ Himself had ALREADY revealed to them!

Jesus didn’t die to save His own doctrine (or the plethora of other things in this book that are wrongfully attributed to the cross)!  He’s the same yesterday, today, & forever!

Quote #26:

“Listen carefully:  We don’t have to confess our sins in order to be forgiven.  We confess our sins because we are already forgiven…I’m talking about being open with God…So confession in the new covenant is just being honest about your failures and your humanity.  It is the result of being forgiven and not something you do in order to be forgiven.”

Chapter 9, page 104

NOTE:  There is no scriptural basis for this statement anywhere and there are literally hundreds of verses to the contrary.  The term “confession” is linked to the idea of repentance, and there is no example in scripture where we are told repentance is “about being open with God” and is not necessary for forgiveness.  This statement is just another way to substantiate an already bogus doctrine that misunderstands the work of the cross.

Quote #27:

“I took I John 1:9 to the limit and it nearly drove me insane.  But what does I John 1:9 really say and to whom was it actually written?…People have actually taken this verse and built a whole doctrine around it when in actually, chapter 1 of I John was written to the Gnostics, who were unbelievers.”

Chapter 9, page 106

NOTE:  The book of I John was written as one single, cohesive letter given to one primary audience.  It is cohesive and thematic throughout and to separate the first chapter from the rest of the book as having a different audience is either dishonest, willfully ignorant or naïve at best.

So the question arises, to whom was the letter written?  If the first chapter was written to the Gnostics, then the whole book was written to Gnostics.  If the first chapter was written to the Gnostics, and then beginning in chapter two it was written to the church (as Pastor Prince later suggests), then why is chapter one included in the same letter, particularly if his letter contained no original chapter divisions, and again if it was not intended for the audience of chapter two and forward?

(I think the reason Pastor Prince insists that the first chapter only is written to Gnostics, is because the rest of the letter is indisputably written to a local assembly of Christian believers that were intimately connected with the apostle John because of the frequent usage of the phrase “my little children” that begins in the opening of chapter two.)

It makes no sense for John to write a letter to Gnostics in the opening and then the church later on.  That would be like my father, Pastor Larry, writing a letter to a church that belongs to one of his spiritual sons in the ministry, and including in the opening paragraph an address exclusively for Mormons.

If Christians are to ignore the first chapter because it doesn’t apply to them, why did John open with it?  If it was necessary to address the local Gnostics, why didn’t John put it on the end of the book, and give a disclaimer:  “Oh yeah, will you send this SEPARATE note to the Gnostics, and remember, YOU don’t need to confess your sins, if you do, you aren’t believing in the finished work of the cross!”

Perhaps Pastor Prince meant that the Gnostics addressed in the first chapter were part of the same congregation/audience—odd, but perhaps.  But if that was the case, why didn’t John single them out, like Paul did in many of his letters, when he was addressing specific people or referring to a particular group of people within a church body?

Regardless, the evidence is overwhelming that the book of I John fits together beautifully and flows perfectly without having to switch audiences after the introductory comments of the first chapter.

Quote #28:

“If you really believe that you need to confess all your sins to be forgiven, do you know what you would be doing?  You would be confessing your sins ALL THE TIME!

Chapter 9, page 107

NOTE:  This statement just comes down to a misunderstanding of confession of sins.  I will explain in a couple points:

(1)  As previously mentioned, confession of sins is inextricably linked to the act of repentance (which is an inward and outward turn from sin).  Now, if your definition of grace is, “the power to continue to sin (less often) but free of the associative feelings of condemnation”, then yes, you would be confessing all the time because your faith is set on needing perpetual bailout from God.  BUT, if your definition of grace, at least in part, is “the power to stop sinning,” then no, you would not be confessing all the time because the power of grace keeps you from perpetual sin, setting you free from not only your transgressions, but your iniquities (habitual sins, and inclinations toward sin)!

(2)  Secondly, confession is more than parroting words.  It is also more than a ritualistic recitation of sin.  Confession, in the Greek is the word “homologeo” and it means more than a recitation of words.  It could be described as entering a covenant or binding agreement with God to renounce sin—aligning your thinking, believing, convictions and viewpoints with God Himself—talking the same language!  When you see confession as strictly lip service to repentance, you miss the point and power of confession.  When you see confession as a covenant with God to cease from sin and be aligned together with Him against sin, then you understand confession not only deals with the act of sin, it deals with the propensity to sin as well.

(I recommend you see the Strong’s Concordance and the Greek word studies of Rick Renner for a better understanding of confession).

Quote #29:

“Let’s not build a whole doctrine on one verse.  If confession of sins is vital for your forgiveness, then Apostle Paul, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, has done us a great injustice because he did not mention it even once—not once—in any of his letters to the church.”

Chapter 9, page 107

NOTE: First, we dismissed the Old Testament as relevant for doctrine; then we dismissed Jesus and the gospels as relevant for doctrine; now we dismiss the relevancy of John on the simple grounds that John is NOT Paul, the apostle of grace.  At this rate, we can eventually dismiss the whole Bible because we spend so much time disqualifying its relevancy of application from one portion to another, we might as well join the Mormon church!

Do we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God or don’t we?  Do we believe the books of the Bible are flawless and in perfect harmony together or don’t we?  Then let us STOP suggesting that the vast majority of the Bible, including the gospels and other New Testament writers, are out of step with the Pauline revelation!

But for the sake of clarity, Paul taught the same doctrine as Jesus and John.  When we talk about confession of sins, we are talking about repentance.  This is not a separate and unusual doctrine that Paul omitted because it wasn’t relevant.  Paul taught and demonstrated the doctrine of repentance throughout his letters and the Book of Acts.  He referred to the doctrine of repentance as foundational doctrine for believers.  He categorized it as “milk”, as “elementary”, as “first principle” (see Hebrews 5:11-6:1).  There are plenty of both Old and New Testament verses that confirm the clear link between confession of sin and repentance.

On the same token, if confession of sins is NOT vital for forgiveness, then Apostle Paul, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, has done us a great injustice because he did not mention it even once—not once—in any of his letters to the church!  Of course, for him to do so, would have been contrary to all other scripture, and therefore, uninspired by God.

Quote #30:

“When there were people in the Corinthian church living in sin, he [Paul] did not say, ‘Go and confess your sins.’  Instead, he reminded them of their righteousness, saying, ‘Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?’  Notice that in spite of their sins, Paul still considered them temples of the Holy Spirit and he reminded them of this truth.”

Chapter 9, page 107

NOTE: Paul was not reminding them of their righteousness—they weren’t (Is this hard?).  He was reminding them of their purpose.  He was reminding them they were made to actually be righteous.

Quote #31:

“When we understand this verse [I John 1:7], we realize that even when we sin, we sin in the realm of light!  So, if we sin in the light, we are cleansed in the light, and we are kept in the light.  This idea of us going into darkness when we sin is not from the Bible.”

Chapter 9, page 108

NOTE:  The idea of us going into darkness when we sin CAME FROM THE BIBLE!

Let’s read the aforementioned passages together (including the skipped over verse 8):

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—I John 1:7-9

It says, “if we walk in the light as He is in the light…”  This means walking in the light AS CHRIST WALKS in the light.  Does Christ walk in sin in the light?  I don’t think so!  What are these verses saying?  When you walk in the light, you are cleansed by the blood of Jesus!  If you have not dealt with sin because you deny its presence (or a false grace teacher tells you to ignore it), you are self-deceived.  However, if and when you do sin, you are cleansed through confessing it (a.k.a.—repentance).

Quote #32:

“Did you know that even the word “cleanses” in I John 1:7 is really beautiful?  In the Greek, the tense for the word “cleanse” denotes a present and continuous action, which means that from the moment you receive Christ, the blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing you.  It is as if you are under a waterfall of His forgiveness.  Even when you fail, this waterfall never stops.  It keeps on keeping on, cleansing you from ALL your sins and unrighteousness.”

Chapter 9, pages 108-109

NOTE: Admittedly, I am no expert on Greek—especially Greek verb tenses.  However, I have no problem with the idea of the blood of Jesus providing perpetual cleansing.  I would even tend to agree with Joseph Prince that the cleansing in verse 7 is different from the cleansing in verse 9.  The problem lies in the notion that being perpetually cleansed means perpetually sinning.  I’m not sure “waterfall of perpetual forgiveness” is how I would describe this verse’s meaning either.

The best way I could describe the different types of cleansing here is: one type of cleansing is for falling into sin; the other type of cleansing is for staying free from sin.  Even though I believe through the power of grace I can stop sinning, I still live in a world corrupted through sin—and I need the blood of Jesus to keep me from falling.  I need to keep my mind renewed by the washing of the Word; I need to fellowship with God through prayer; I need to fellowship with people of like-faith; etc. etc.  We are cleansed people who for the time being, live in a very dirty environment that permeates all of the five senses.  We need the blood of Jesus to keep the filth out of our hearts and minds.  This doesn’t make us sinners; it just means we need spiritual maintenance.

Quote #33:

“In I John 2:1, John addressed the believers as ‘My little children’…and went on to say, ‘These things I write to you, so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ.’  Notice that John did not tell the believers, ‘If anyone sins, make sure that he confesses his sins.’  No, his solution for a believer who sins is to point him to the finished work of Jesus.”

NOTE:  This is misleading.  Notice our Advocate is a Person, not an event.  Also note that Jesus did not die on a cross to save us from the act of repentance.

Quote #34:

“Did the cross make a difference or not?  Jesus Christ has already delivered all believers from the covenant of law which condemns.”

Chapter 10, page 117

NOTE: Jesus Christ did not die on the cross to save us from the Old Testament that God Himself authored.

Quote #35:

“For generations, the church has believed that by preaching the Ten Commandments, we will produce holiness.  When we see sin on the increase, we start to preach more of the law.  But the Word of God actually says that “the strength of sin is the law.”  It also says that “sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace”.  So the power for the church to overcome sin is actually found in being under grace and not in reinforcing the law.  Preaching more of the law to counteract sin is like adding wood to the fire!”

Chapter 10, page 121

NOTE: Chapter ten is actually the best chapter so far at describing the differences between “law” and “grace”; however, many of the inferences concerning the law are not accurate.

Sample false inference:   “Since the law of Moses was referred to in II Corinthians 3:7-9 as the ministry of death and condemnation, THEN teaching the law will bring people into bondage, make them sin more, etc.”

A few additional points about the law (see my comments under quote #1 & quote #9):

(1)  While the law of Moses is no longer in force, the laws of the kingdom ARE IN FORCE! In addition, virtually ALL of the moral law of the Old Testament is included in the new covenant (with the exception of keeping the Sabbath which was ceremonial law—but even in the case of the Sabbath, the spiritual and moral principles behind keeping the Sabbath are still passed on in the new covenant).  Actually, in the New Testament we are given 1050 commands for New Testament Christians to obey!  (See Dake study Bible, under heading “New Testament Commands for complete list).  Therefore, it is a misunderstanding of the covenant of grace to believe the teaching of “law” brings bondage and causes us to sin more.

(2)  There is a vast difference between not being “under the law” and being “without the law”.  Being under grace does not mean we are exempt from obeying laws.  It means we are not under penalty of the law because grace enables us to KEEP the law!

It is not presumption to believe we can keep the laws God gave us.  It is presumption to believe God gave us laws we could not fulfill since He gave us His grace to fulfill them!

(3)  Even though the law of Moses is obsolete because a new contract has been written, the law is still used to convert the sinner before grace is extended!

  • Consider the words of Jesus to the Pharisees in John 9:39:  “…I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.”  Why did Jesus add that last part about making those who see blind first?—Because if a man will not recognize his own blindness; he cannot be made to see.  The law is that which God uses to kill before new life can come!  (Also see Galatians 2:19)
  • Consider I Peter 5:5b:  “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  So if God Himself REFUSES to give the gospel/good news of grace to everyone; but ONLY gives grace to the humble, what does that mean?  It means that if pride is in your heart, God will not reveal His grace to you until you are made humble first!  What tool then does God use to humble the proud to find grace and repentance?  THE LAW!
  • Consider these quotes:
    • “The true function of the law is to accuse and kill; but the function of the gospel is to make alive.”—Martin Luther
    • “Although the law serves as a guide to genuine believers, its primary function is to kill and destroy self-righteousness.  All hope in our good works must be put to death if we are ever to depend on Jesus, who alone can bring life.  The law brings that necessary death.”—Kirk Cameron (even the guy from “Growing Pains” gets this!)  J
    • “The unsaved are in no condition today for the Gospel till the Law be applied to their hearts, for ‘by the Law is the knowledge of sin.’  It is a waste of time to sow seed on ground that has never been ploughed or spaded!  To present the vicarious sacrifice of Christ to those whose dominant passion is to take fill of sin is to give that which is holy to the dogs.”—A.W. Pink
    • “He that sows without a plow will reap without a sickle.  He who preaches the gospel without preaching the Law may hold all the results of it in his hand, and there will be little for him to hold.”—Charles Spurgeon
    • “You must preach the Law, for the gospel is a silken thread, and you cannot get it into the hearts of men unless you have made a way for it with a sharp needle; the sharp needle of the Law will pull the silken thread of the gospel after it.”—Robbie Flockhart

(4)  Knowing the law of the Lord (a.k.a. the Bible) helps us grow in our relationship with God and have better discernment for the spiritual battles we face.  As Paul told us in II Timothy 4:3 concerning the last days, “the time would come when men would not endure sound doctrine.”  Since one of the greatest tools of Satan in the last days will be deceiving people away from sound doctrine, can we not see the dangers of ignoring HUGE portions of the scripture because they talk about laws?  This is NOT studying to show ourselves approved (II Timothy 2:15)!  Must we continue to insist that people who stick with the scriptures for doctrine are “legalists”?  To quote a frequently used phrase from Pastor Prince, “Come on!”  Can we really better keep the spirit of the law by ignoring the letter altogether?

If David could wax eloquent in the Psalms about loving the law of the Lord, keeping His commandments, meditating on them day and night, etc.  Why can’t we love God’s laws too—ESPECIALLY in the age of grace!

(5)  II Timothy 3:15-17

  • The source of equipment for all end-time believers is the entire Bible
  • All scripture is given
    • Either the whole Bible is the Word of God, or the whole Bible is wrongWe cannot pick and choose and say that the writers of certain passages missed God, while the writers of other passages were right on!  That’s arrogance, deception, and frustrates the spirit of Grace!
    • The whole Bible is flawless in context and in perfect harmony, there are no contradictions, only misconceptions; it takes a man who doesn’t know the Holy Spirit to confuse something so simple and so direct!
  • By inspiration of Godevery book in the Bible was planned and directed of God
  • Profitable for doctrine—all Scripture interprets and supports all other scripture; there are no scriptures that are contradictory, only misinterpreted; all scripture forms the basis of our belief system; all scripture may be used to convince men of truth
  • Profitable for reproof—all scripture provides evidence of truth
  • Profitable for correction—all scripture exposes deception and wickedness, as well as lays out consequences and guides to righteousness
  • Profitable for instruction in righteousnessall scripture provides a guide for daily Christian living
  • Completion of the man of God—all scripture in proper application brings us to perfection
  • Full equipment for every good work—all scripture and its understanding will produce demonstrations of the spirit and of power

Enough said.

Quote #36:

“When dealing with any problem in life, we want to get to its root…The world has found that many sicknesses and diseases are linked to a root called stress…The world has also identified fear as the root cause of stress…The Lord showed me a root that was deeper than stress and fear…The Lord showed me that the deepest root is condemnation.”

Chapter 11, pages 129-131

The Bible teaches that there is an even DEEPER root than that!  For after all, what causes condemnation?  SIN!!!

            To quote something I heard my dad once say, “Condemnation is the ‘stink’ of sin.”

Ignoring the sin-problem to focus on the condemnation-problem is like spraying Febreeze instead of taking out the trash!

I don’t mean to belittle the problem of condemnation; but let’s examine the source of it as well.

Is condemnation a real problem in the church?  You bet it is!  I’ll tell you why in a nutshell:  cheap grace & ineffective altar calls.

Consider this quote taken from a theology textbook I researched at a local university:

“One of the most important changes in Evangelical life in the 20th century has been the consistent loss of the centrality of the experience of repentance.  Perhaps this is a point at which evangelicals have been influenced by the liberal tendency to downplay sinfulness and to emphasize the positive aspects of human ability, but 20th century evangelicals have tended to press unconverted persons to an immediate experience of conversion, in which there is little or no room for the extended period of repentance that characterized earlier evangelicalism.  Some evangelicals, concerned with the contemporary renewal of interest in Christian spirituality, have lamented the loss of the place of repentance in the way of salvation and have worked to restore a balanced understanding of repentance as significant to evangelical life.”

Christian Confessions by Ted Campbell, p. 230

In short, we’ve minimized the importance of repentance in our evangelistic efforts and are reaping the consequences from that negligence.  Our churches are full of people who struggle with condemnation primarily because our churches are full of people who struggle with sin.  Faith without repentance is nothing more than mental ascent—and mental ascent will leave you in a condemned state.

So how does one deal with the problem of condemnation?  It’s found in II Corinthians 7:9-11:

“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.  For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

           These verses are powerful!  They tell us two very important things:

(1) Godly sorrow leading to repentance is the antidote to condemnation!

(2) Conversely, rejection of godly sorrow is a major factor in why people lose their passion for God!  Which incidentally, rejection of godly sorrow is also a major factor in why people turn away from sound doctrine and run to “itching ear” preachers!

Quote #37:

“An evil conscience is one that is perpetually conscious of sin and failure, and typically expects punishment.  It is a conscience that is under condemnation.”

Chapter 11, page 132

NOTE:  An evil conscience is one that ceases to work, failing to recognize sin as evil, having been seared!  See the following scriptures that bring clarity to a good conscience versus an evil conscience: 

A good conscience:  Acts 24:16; II Corinthians 1:12; Romans 9:1; I Timothy 1:5; Hebrews 13:18; I Peter 3:16

A bad conscience:  I Timothy 1:19; I Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:15

Quote #38:

“ ‘But Pastor Prince, how can I differentiate between the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin and the accuser hurling condemnation at me?’…The bottom line is that the Holy Spirit never convicts you [a believer] of your sins…I challenge you to find a scripture in the Bible that tells you that the Holy Spirit has come to convict you of your sins.  You won’t find any!  The body of Christ is living in defeat because many believers don’t understand that the Holy Spirit is actually in them to convict them of their righteousness in Christ.  Even when you fail…”

Chapter 11, pages 134-135

NOTE:   Numerous scriptures bring clarity to the fact that the Holy Spirit, DOES IN FACT convict us of our sins and this is not the same thing as receiving accusations from the “Accuser of the Brethren.”  Consider the following:

(1)  The simple difference between the Holy Spirit convicting us of sin and the Accuser of the Brethren accusing us of sin is this:  The Holy Spirit is telling the truth and the devil is lying!  When conviction of the Holy Spirit comes, it is for the purpose of being liberated from sin and condemnation through repentance; when the Accuser comes, it is for the purpose of slandering the innocent.  So, simple rule of thumb:  if you have sin in your life, the devil has no need to slander you.  If you don’t, the devil has EVERY reason to slander and accuse you!

(2)  The Holy Spirit CLEARLY convicts us of sin for the following reasons:

  • Both the Father (Hebrews 12:5-9) and Jesus (Revelation 3:19) convict us of sin and the Holy Spirit is a witness for both of them (John 15:26).
  • The scriptures themselves convict us of sin (Hebrews 4:12-13) and the Holy Spirit teaches us the Word of God (John 14:26).
  • Believers are instructed by Jesus to carry out church discipline and a sinning member is “convicted” by two or three witnesses (Matthew 18:15-17).  If it’s appropriate for church people to do these things, then how much MORE appropriate is it when God Himself does it through the Holy Spirit?
  • Apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Ghost (II Peter 1:21), instructed both Timothy (II Timothy 4:2) and Titus (Titus 1:13 & 2:15) to confront, rebuke, correct, and convince rebel church members of sin and false doctrine; therefore, if it is appropriate for conviction of sin to come through man by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then conviction of sin is a work of the Holy Spirit
  • The human conscience is where conviction of sin takes place (John 8:9; Romans 2:15; etc.) and the Holy Spirit speaks to man through his conscience (Romans 9:1; I John 2:20); therefore, when man needs to repent, conviction of the Holy Spirit takes place
  • The Bible plainly states that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin (John 16:8-11—Please see my notes under the next point for further clarity on these verses)

(3)  It is true—a work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our righteousness in Christ; it is not true however, that the Holy Spirit convicts us of how righteous we are WHEN WE SIN!   He may convict us of our PURPOSE for righteousness and our POTENTIAL for righteousness; but He is the Spirit of Truth and will not flatter us into a false sense of righteousness.

Quote #39:

“When He [Jesus] said that the Holy Spirit would come to ‘convict the world of sin’ [John 16:8]because they do not believe in Him, it is clear that He was referring to unbelievers because they are of ‘the world.’  And notice that the Holy Spirit does not convict the world of ‘sins’ (plural).  It is only one ‘sin’ (singular) that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of, and that is the sin of unbelief, the sin of rejecting Jesus and not believing in His finished work…So the Holy Spirit is present to convict unbelievers of that one sin of unbelief…”

Chapter 11, pages 136-137

NOTE:  Let’s look at John 16:8-11:

“And when He [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

Note the following points:

(1)The “world” does not and CANNOT refer exclusively to unbelievers in this statement and CAN ONLY refer to all men/all mankind for the following reasons:

  • Though the term “the world” can be used to refer to the world system characterized in unbelievers (I John 2:15), the term “the world” is used in other scriptures to signify all mankind (see John 3:16).
  • “Conviction of sin”, “conviction of righteousness” and “conviction of judgment” are three separate categories of conviction directed at ONE audience:  “the world.”  Why would the Holy Spirit EXCLUSIVELY convict unbelievers of sin, righteousness and judgment—and leave the believers “un-convicted” in these areas?  On the same token, why would the Holy Spirit EXCLUSIVELY convict believers of sin, righteousness and judgment—and leave UNbelievers UNconvicted and UNevangelized.  The only logical and biblically-consistent conclusion is that the world refers to all mankind.
  • Both believers and unbelievers experience conviction by the Holy Spirit in all three areas.
  • The term “the world” is used to give distinction to the idea that conviction of the Holy Spirit is for ALL men (Gentiles included), and not just an exclusively Jewish audience.

(2)  This verse is not implying the Holy Spirit convicts the world of one sin ONLY—as Pastor Prince puts it, “the sin of rejecting Jesus and not believing in His finished work.”  A believer/unbeliever can experience conviction from ANY and ALL sin—so what does this mean? 

The term “sin” is singular because it is ONE category that includes a MILLION-BILLION things!  This verse is not saying the only sin (or the only sin that matters) that the Holy Spirit convicts us of is the sin of not believing in Jesus!  It is saying all sin is ROOTED in unbelief.  The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin “BECAUSE they do not believe in Me”.  In other words, it is not saying the Holy Spirit convicts us of the sin of unbelief and rejecting Jesus (though technically true); it is saying the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin BECAUSE of unbelief and rejecting Jesus!

Quote #40:

“If the Holy Spirit never convicts you the believer of your sins, then what does He convict you of?  Jesus says that the Holy Spirit convicts you “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more”.  Now who is Jesus talking about here?  Believers or unbelievers?  Clearly, with the use of the second person pronoun “you”, Jesus was referring to believers.  The Holy Spirit was sent to convict believers of righteousness.”

Chapter 11, page 137

NOTE:  Jesus is talking about believers AND unbelievers, as explained in the previous point.  The use of the second person pronoun “you” simply means “you the audience” are included in “the world” to whom the Holy Spirit convicts.

The Holy Spirit convicts both believers and unbelievers alike of sin (wrong-doing based in unbelief) and righteousness (right doing, right living, the vanity of man’s righteousness apart from God, Christ our Righteousness, etc.)  Jesus did not change audiences mid-sentence.

Quote #41:

“Today, there are some believers who believe that the Holy Spirit is in them to convict them not just of their sins, but also of God’s anger and judgment toward them.  This is just not true either…When Jesus said [John 16:11], ‘of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged,’ who was He referring to?  Believers or unbelievers?  The answer is neither.  He was referring to ‘the ruler of this world’, as plainly stated in the verse.”

Chapter 11, page 143

NOTE:  The conviction of judgment is still addressed to “the world” (verse 8), not Satan.  (See notes on Quotes #39-40).  The context of the verse is not “the world is convicted that Satan is judged” either (though that may be part of it).  Again, the verse is saying the Holy Spirit convicts the world of judgment BECAUSE Satan is judged!  In other words, since Satan is judged, we must be convicted of judgment to not share his fate!

Quote #42:

“The accuser is an astute legal prosecutor who will not hesitate to use the Ten Commandments to condemn you.  That’s why the Word of God declares that the Ten Commandments are not just ‘the ministry of death,’ they are also ‘the ministry of condemnation [II Corinthians 3:7, 9]’…That’s why Apostle Paul said that the ‘commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me[Romans 7:10-11].’  Notice that sin ‘by the commandment’ deceived him and killed him.  What that means is that when Paul came under the old covenant of law, he too came under the ministry of death and condemnation.  The law always ministers condemnation.”

Chapter 12, page 145

NOTE:  With regards to the “accuser” condemning us with the Ten Commandments:

Let’s remember that the very nature of “the Accuser of the Brethren” is as a liar, one who slanders the innocent, not rightly condemns the guilty…and yes, Satan is an expert at twisting the Word of God into a weapon of deception (see Garden of Eden & Jesus in the Wilderness).

With regards to the Ten Commandments as a “ministry of death and condemnation”:

Let’s look at II Corinthians 3:7-9 for context:

“But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?  For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.”

Notice these verses are contrasting covenants in the Old and New Testaments.  This is not a text that is critiquing the law as a tool of Satan for making us feel bad for sin.  In fact, BOTH covenants are referred to as “glorious”, and when the old covenant is referred to as “the ministry of death” and “the ministry of condemnation”, it is comparatively speaking.

However, the law certainly IS a ministry of death and condemnation to those who rebel against God (see Hebrews 3:7-19)—and this is JUST and RIGHT!  For if man will not receive the Word of God by faith and trust in Him, he will be condemned by the lawregardless of which covenant you live under!

Notice the characteristics of those who received the law as a ministry of death and condemnation as they are described a few verses later in II Corinthians 3:14-16 from the Amplified version:

“In fact, their minds were grown hard and calloused [they had become dull and lost the power of understanding]; for until this present day, when the Old Testament (the old covenant) is being read, that same veil still lies [on their hearts], not being lifted [to reveal] that in Christ it is made void and done away.  Yes, down to this [very] day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their minds and hearts.  But whenever a person turns [in repentance] to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away.”

So here we have an illustration that in both covenants, new and old, the law is a ministry of death and condemnation to those who stay in unbelief and refuse repentance.

With regards to sin deceiving Paul by the law:

Let’s look at Romans 7:10-11 for context:

“And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.”

These verses are part of Paul sharing his testimony of his slavery to sin through the law PRIOR to being converted.  Notice the source of Paul’s deception and death:  it was NOT the law—it was SIN!  Because Paul was an unconverted sinner, all his attempts to be a good law-abiding Pharisee apart from Christ caused him to be deceived and condemned.

In fact, Paul makes sure to emphasize that he had a “law-problem” BECAUSE he had a “SIN-problem”!  (See Romans 7:13).

With regards to the law ALWAYS ministering death and condemnation:

(1)  Read Psalm One:  meditating in the law of the Lord leads to prosperity, health, vitality, blessings and fruitfulness.  None of those things sound like death or condemnation.

(2)  Read Psalm 119.  The law ministers a lot of things here.

(3)  Perhaps it is ONLY the law of Moses that is referred to as ALWAYS ministering death and condemnation?  It didn’t minister death and condemnation to Joshua and Caleb!  In fact, look at Joshua 1:7-8:

[God speaking]Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.  ‘This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Quote #43:

“The law stirs up sinful desires in man’s flesh.  Let me tell you that as long as you are in your current body, you will have the propensity to sin.  I did not come up with this.  It was Paul who said, ‘For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.’[Romans 7:15]

Chapter 12, pages 147-148

NOTE:  Paul was illustrating the depth of his slavery to sin BEFORE CHRIST (Read the opening chapter of “Misunderstood Texts of Scripture” by Asa Mahan and see his exposition of Romans chapter seven).  The more Paul studied the law and tried to keep it apart from salvation through Christ, the more in bondage to sin he became.  He was not setting a template for typical Christian living!  He was describing the self-righteous man that he was, attempting to keep the laws of God without conversion to Christ!

            Let me tell you—NO!  As long as you are in your body, you do NOT have to keep your propensity to sin!  THIS IS NOT THE TESTIMONY OF A REGENERATED MAN!!!

Quote #44:

“Paul was faced with the same struggles that you and I are faced with today.  His lament is recorded in Romans 7…But Paul does not stop there.  He goes on to show us in the first verse of Romans 8 how we can counter the accuser’s attacks…There is NOW NO CONDEMNATION to those who are IN CHRIST JESUS!…That is it, my friend—no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, period.  There are no conditions and no prerequisites…So the good news that he [Paul] was declaring is that even when there is sin, there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Chapter 12 pages 148-150

NOTE:  The reason there is NOW no condemnation in Christ Jesus, is because Paul is NOW talking about who he is in the present tense—a new creation through Christ Jesus—no longer a slave to sin!  In case there’s any confusion, Paul gives a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT testimony in Romans 8 than he just gave in Romans 7!

  • In Romans 7 he was under condemnation; in Romans 8 he has no condemnation
  • In Romans 7 he was captive to the law of sin; in Romans 8 he is free from the law of sin
  • In Romans 7 he faced  eternal death; in Romans 8 he was free from eternal death
  • In Romans 7 sin ruled in Paul’s flesh; in Romans 8 sin was condemned in Paul’s flesh through Christ Jesus
  • In Romans 7 Paul’s righteousness was unfulfilled; in Romans 8, Paul’s righteousness is fulfilled through Christ Jesus
  • In Romans 7 Paul was carnally minded; in Romans 8, Paul was spiritually minded with life and peace
  • In Romans 7 Paul is not spirit-filled; in Romans 8, Paul is filled with the same Spirit that rose Christ from the dead
  • In Romans 7 Paul was a sinner; in Romans 8 Paul’s body is dead to sin
  • In Romans 7 Paul is deceived and killed by sin in his flesh; in Romans 8 Paul has crucified his flesh
  • In Romans 7 Paul was walking after the flesh and not after the Spirit; in Romans 8 Paul is walking after the spirit and not after the flesh!

P.S.—Being IN Christ Jesus implies that you are not IN sin!

Quote #45:

“Let me give you a practical tip on how you can grow in this revelation of ‘no condemnation’:  Learn to see the Ten Commandments (the law of God) and condemnation as the same thing.  Whenever you read or think about the law, think ‘condemnation.’”

Chapter 12, page 151

NOTE:  You can’t make this stuff up folks.  Oh wait, someone just did.

Quote #46:

“‘But Pastor Prince, what happens when I sin?’  Well, does ‘NOW’ cover the moment when you sin?  Of course it does.  ‘There is therefore now no condemnation…’ is a ‘now’ verse.  The declaration is true every moment, every day.  It is true in the morning.  It is true in the night.  And when tomorrow comes, it is still true.  There is presently, continuously, no condemnation for you because you are in Christ!”

NOTE:  Wrong answer.  You are in Christ Jesus?  NOW you have no condemnation.  You just sinned?  NOW you are in sin.  Repent and get back in Christ Jesus!

Quote #47:

“Look at the parable of the prodigal son which Jesus shared…We see a father who runs toward his prodigal son to embrace him the moment he sees him from a distance.  Do you know that the father’s behavior is actually contrary to the law of Moses?…according to the law, if a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who refuses to heed his parents, that man is supposed to bring his son to the elders of the city, and all the men of his city are to stone his son to death, so that they can put away the evil from among them, and all Israel shall hear and fear [Deuteronomy 21:18-21].  That’s the law of Moses.”

Chapter 12, page 154

NOTE:  One major difference between Deuteronomy 21:18-21 and the story of the prodigal son:  the prodigal son repented/the stubborn, rebellious son who got stoned refused repentance even after chastening from both parents. While it may be true, the prodigal son may have DESERVED stoning, the repentance is key.  Even in the old covenant, God was merciful and gracious to the penitent who humbled themselves before God, turned from sin and cried out to Him.

Quote #48:

“We all know that the son was not returning to the father’s house because he had realized his mistake.  He was returning because he was hungry!”

Chapter 12, page 155

NOTE:  His hunger became a catalyst for him to realize the goodness of his father, come to his senses, resolve to repent, humble himself taking on the form of a servant, confess his sin, and return to the father.

This is an extremely presumptuous interpretation of scripture to overlook ALL that and INFER the prodigal was NOT repenting, but was in actuality, scheming for food.  There is no evidence whatsoever to accept this spurious and ridiculous interpretation.  If the prodigal was not truly repentant but just a hungry schemer, why did he plan such a far journey home and such an elaborate hoax when he could have just stolen some food from a neighbor?  Was his father the only means to obtain food?

Quote #49:

“Do you remember what He [Jesus] said to the woman who was caught in adultery?…’Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’  Now, pay close attention to this:  Jesus gave her the gift of ‘no condemnation’ before He told her to go and sin no more…the reason people are shying away from churches…is not because they are rebelling against Jesus.  It is because they have not been introduced to the Jesus who gives the guilty sinner the gift of no condemnation.

Chapter 13, page 164

NOTE:  What we see in this account of the woman caught in adultery is God’s principle of “God resisting the proud and giving grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5; James 4:6) at work.  The adulterous woman, clearly already humbled by her sin did not require the law to do its work to convict her of her crime.  She knew she was guilty in need of forgiveness.  This is the same reason Jesus was able to dispense MORE grace to “publicans and sinners” than to the Pharisees (see Matthew 9:10-13).

Once a person’s heart is humbled to repentance, there is no further need for the law to heap condemnation upon them, there is only need for grace because the heart is prepared to receive.  That being said, this is not a proof text that Jesus indiscriminately preaches a universal “no condemnation” message to guilty sinners everywhere and therefore, in our evangelistic efforts we must exclusively say things that make people feel good about themselves.  That is rubbish!

Look again at the FULL account given in John 8:3-11:

“Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery.  And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.  But what do You say?’  This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.  But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.  So when they continued asking Him, He rasied Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’  And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.  And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?  She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’”

Notice that Jesus was surrounded by guilty sinners, but only liberated ONE from condemnation!  His message of “no condemnation” was not universal to His audience.  His message of “no condemnation” was one He gave to the humble who could receive it.  The MAJORITY, Jesus let walk away convicted of sin in their own consciences and He left them in their condemned state!  Why?  God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

The woman Jesus did not condemn, was liberated from condemnation but commanded to change course with her life (a.k.a.—repent/be converted) in the words—“go and sin no more.”  In the same scenario, a multitude of religious hypocrites were left in condemnation by the law!

What an excellent illustration of law and grace used by the Master in the same account!  This is TRUE evangelism.  If it seems hard, it could be that we have a false notion about evangelism that it is “salesmanship.”  It is not.  We are called to be WITNESSES for Christ:  making converts and disciples; not USED CAR SALESMEN for Christ: making temporary customers with marketing ploys and cheap grace gimmicks.

Quote #50:

“Now, let’s come back to the story of the woman caught in adultery.  Let me ask you a question:  Was the woman guilty?  Yes, she was, absolutely.  There is no doubt about that.  The Bible states that she was ‘caught in adultery, in the very act.’  But instead of condemning her according to the law of Moses, which required her to be stoned to death (the law of Moses always ministers condemnation and death, it cannot save the guilty sinner), Jesus showed her grace and gave her the gift of no condemnation.”

Chapter 13, page 165

NOTE:  Once again, Pastor Prince is attempting to put the Law of Moses at odds with Christ Himself.  (It is not necessary to portray Christ as an enemy of the law of Moses in order to illustrate we have a better covenant through grace).  Ironically, this is EXACTLY what the scribes and Pharisees were trying to do:   portray the words/doctrine of Christ as an enemy to the law of Moses (or portray Christ as a usurper of Roman authority, depending on how He answered).

It is true that a woman caught in adultery qualified for stoning; however, Jesus responded to their accusations referring to another law of Moses (see Deuteronomy 19:15-21), which required that in matters of criminal cases, two or three witnesses were required to establish a verdict.  In addition, the witnesses themselves were subject to inquisition based on the charge that they presented concerning someone else.  If they were found to be illegitimate, they could be subjected to the same penalty they were seeking for those they accused.

In Jesus’ act of compassion towards the adulteress, He violated no laws of jurisprudence.  Her accusers withdrew to save their own skin and the case was dropped!

Quote #51:

Anyone who is living in sin is not under grace and has not experienced the gift of no condemnation.  Grace always results in victory over sin!”

Chapter 13, page 167

NOTE:  This is TRUE actually!  It doesn’t negate the first 50 quotes of error bordering on heresy given in the first half of the book that suggest the opposite, but it’s something!

Quote #52:

“Let’s continue with what happened after the children of Israel murmured and complained.  In your Bible, it says that ‘the Lord sent fiery serpents [Numbers 21:6], and they bit the people and many of the Israelites died…All God did was that He lifted His protection when they murmured against Moses.  Remember this happened under the old covenant of law!  Praise the Lord that in the new covenant of grace that you and I are under, God WILL NEVER lift His protection over us.”

Chapter 15, page 200

NOTE:  Look at the admonition we get from Paul concerning what happened to those in the wilderness that were bitten by serpents:

“nor let US tempt CHRIST, as some of them [my emphasis added] also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.  Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for OUR admonition [my emphasis added], upon whom the ends of the ages have come.  Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”–I Corinthians 10:9-12

What about the “new covenant of grace”?  Consider Hebrews 10:28-29:

“Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”

There are tremendous blessings and benefits to the new covenant of grace, such as prosperity, healing, righteousness, peace, supernatural endowments, etc.  These are all part of the package.  In fact, grace enables us to do the works of Christ and live as Christ demonstrated for us to live.  That being said, whether we are talking about someone who lived under the old covenant or someone living today, the principle has not changed:  DON’T TEMPT GOD!

Quote #53:

“Three items were kept in the ark of the covenant.  The first was the stone tablets on which God wrote the Ten Commandments…So the ark of the covenant is a shadow of our Lord Jesus Christ, His person and His work.  Because of His blood, all our sins have been cleansed.  That is why it was dangerous for anyone back in those days to lift the mercy seat to uncover the sins and rebellion that God had covered.  The mercy seat was not to be lifted at any time and the consequences for doing so were severe…Nobody was supposed to even take a peak at the Ten Commandments.  God doesn’t want the law to be exposed because it represents our rebellion, and it will only minister death and condemnation.  The peculiar thing is that people have made the Ten Commandments into posters that are hung in homes today, when even in the Old Testament, God kept the law hidden under the mercy seat!”

Chapter 16, pages 208-211

NOTE:  There is no question that typology is throughout the Old Testament; however, building doctrine on typologies is the least reliable method of Bible interpretation.  While some of the typologies cited above may contain elements of truth, the doctrinal inferences concerning God hiding the Ten Commandments because they represent “rebellion” is a theological foundation built of balsa wood!  It’s weak! 

The above quote is an excellent example of the allegorical method of Bible interpretation.  Finis Dake had the following comments concerning interpreting scripture through the allegorical method:

“We should reject and utterly avoid all such foolishness.  The habit of these men [those who interpret the scripture allegorically as the primary method] is to disregard the common significance of words, the grammatical construction, and the literal intention of God in Scripture.  They force into Scripture any meaning their fancy chooses, and they make the interpreter equal to God and his interpretations even better than the plain Word of God.”

The Bible is full of allegory, typology and symbolism.  That being said, if you can’t find right doctrine given literally in plain scripture, the probability of you finding right doctrine by assigning mystical meanings to Old Testament passages is slim to none!

(See “God’s Plan for Man” by Finis Dake, chapter three on “How to Interpret the Bible” or enroll in “Peacemakers School of Theology” at www.peacemakersinstitute.com.)

Quote #54:

“The Lord showed me something a number of years ago…He spoke to me and said, ‘Son, study the journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai for this is a picture of pure grace.  Not a single Israelite died during this period although they murmured and complained’…Study the Bible yourself.  You’ll find that every time the children of Israel murmured and complained, it only brought forth fresh demonstrations of God’s favor…Because during that period, the blessings and provisions they received were not dependent on their obedience or goodness.  They were dependent on God’s goodness and faithfulness to the Abrahamic covenant, which was a covenant of grace.”

Chapter 17, page 221-222

NOTE:  The “period” of grace referred to where no one died prior to Sinai where the giving of the law led to mass genocide (I’m being facetious), was a period of  only 50 days according to the departure date from Egypt (Numbers 33:3) until the arrival date at Sinai (Exodus 19:1).  So we may see without question, that God graciously refrained from killing anyone for the first 50 days, a period of time that was actually SHORTERthan the period of time between the arrival at Sinai, the construction of the calf, Moses’ intercession for the people and the actual execution of judgment upon the idolaters who continued rebellion and REFUSED to be counted “on the Lord’s side” (Exodus 32:26).

Quote #55:

“…Something tragic happened right at the foot of Mount Sinai.  In Exodus 19:8, your English Bible says that the people cried out to Moses, saying, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’  In the original Hebrew text, this is actually a statement of pride.  They were saying, ‘All that God requires and demands of us, we are well able to perform’…So they effectively exchanged covenants, from the Abrahamic covenant which is based on grace, to the Sinaitic covenant which is based on the law.”

Chapter 17, pages 222-223

NOTE:  The giving of the law at Sinai was not the chastening of God for Israel’s presumption of obedience.  If the Israelites were truly walking in the grace of God, they WERE WELL ABLE to obey the commands of God! 

Why would a just Lord deliberately give commands to His servants they could not fulfill, and then ADDITIONALLY PUNISH them for their predetermined and unavoidable failure?

Keep in mind that it was under the Abrahamic covenant (“which is based on grace”) that Israel backslid and went into captivity in Egypt for 430 years prior to the 50 day “period of pure grace” leading to Sinai.

If the Abrahamic covenant is based on grace and characterized by the unconditional favor of God, why are ONLY the last 50 days referred to as an example of this, and the 430 years prior completely ignored???

Quote #56:

“From that point onwards, every time the children of Israel murmured and complained, many of them would die.  Observe this:  Before Sinai, none died.  After Sinai, the moment they murmured, they died.”

Chapter 17, page 224

NOTE:  This is a legitimate point.  The law NECESSITATED a total consecration to God (as was required in every covenant).  But its greatest liability was it robbed man of his excuses.  Sin no longer had a place to hide.  Therefore, death was the result for those who remained in self-righteousness and were unfaithful to the God whose grace they so desperately needed.  (Yes, grace was available in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament—which is why not everyone in the Old Testament is in hell today.  See my book, “Grace Empowerment” in chapter two called “Old Testament Grace Economics” for more details).

It’s not that God did not previously expect anything from anyone before the law came, or even that He no longer expects things of us today! It’s that up to this point, man had never so clearly known what God expected of him.  Therefore, man’s true nature was revealed.

Revelation brought responsibility.  This is not Old Testament.  This is an eternal principle.  Consider the moral of Jesus’ parable of the unfaithful servant (Luke 12:42-48):  “To whom much is given, much is required.”

This does not mean the key to walking in grace is deliberate ignorance of the law!  For people die for the very opposite as well.  In Hosea 4:6 God says clearly, “My people are destroyed for LACK of knowledge” and goes on to say God’s people are also rejected for REJECTING knowledge!

Please understand:  knowledge of the law is not a hindrance to grace—it only leads to death when we ignore it, refuse it, deny it, or shun God Himself because we don’t want to abide by it!

Quote #57:

“‘But Pastor Prince, we have to preach God’s law and His judgment, or there will be no repentance from the people.’  My friend, God’s heart is never to condemn.  We want judgment, but God wants mercy.  The Bible says that ‘the goodness of God leads you to repentance.’…Nevertheless, there are still people who insist that we have to preach on repentance.  Well, I disagree!  I think that we should do it God’s way—preach the goodness of God to lead people to repentance.”

Chapter 18, pages 231-232

NOTE:  Herein lies one of the deadliest false teachings of modern times:  “we shouldn’t talk about repentance!”  Let’s break this apart to get absolute clarity on this issue:

    (1)  Concerning God’s heart to have mercy and not “condemn”:

Consider the verse from Hosea 6:6 that Jesus quoted on at least two different instances:  “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice…”  Now consider this:  Hosea 6:6 was written as a lament of God that though He desired to give mercy, He could not because extending judgment had become necessary due to the hardness of hearts in Israel.  Why was judgment necessary?  They refused repentance. 

Extending mercy is always PREFERABLE to God; nevertheless, we can find countless examples of God extending judgment.  We must conclude then, that though extending judgment is not PREFERABLE, it is not evil in and of itself—since God extends judgment so often. 

We must also conclude since God is merciful of heart, that when His judgment is extended, it is not cruel; but in fact, completely appropriate and actually carried out by the Author of mercy itself.  If then, it is appropriate for God to judge, then it is appropriate that we as WITNESSES for God not try to “market His ‘better’ qualities” but present God for who He is.

{I know that goes against popular thought on modern (failed, failing and perpetually failing) evangelism techniques, but Acts 1:8 says God gave us power to be WITNESSES for Him NOT power to be “used car salesmen.”}

Likewise, just as a merciful God extends judgment, merciful Christians teach repentance so sinners CAN AVOID IT!

(2)  Concerning the goodness of God leading men to repentance:

The preaching of judgment and repentance is not contrary to the goodness of God that leads men to repentance.

Look at Romans 2:4:

“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

This verse is not a proof text for ONLY talking about the goodness of God to lead men to repentance.  In fact, it is quite the opposite; because Paul (the apostle of grace as he’s sometimes called) is not PREACHING in these verses about the goodness of God—he is actually preaching on judgment and sin!!!  Here’s a sample of his sermon:

“who, knowing the righteous judgment of God that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.  Therefore you are inexcusable, O man…But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.  And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?  But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’:  eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil…”

–Romans 1:32-2:9

(3)  Concerning the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF PREACHING REPENTANCE!!!:

  • The preaching of John the Baptist concerning the kingdom:
    • Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand… ‘Brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.  Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire…His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire…”      (Matthew 3:2-12)
    • “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.  Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.”  (Mark 1:4-5)
  • The preaching of Jesus on repentance:
    • “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  (Matthew 3:17)
    • “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish”  (Luke 13:3 and repeated again for emphasis two verses later in Luke 13:5)
    • “…Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins shoud be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And you are witnesses of these things.”  (Luke 24:46-48)
    • Also see Matthew 11:20-21; 12:41; 21:28-32 Revelation 2:5, 16, 21-22; 3:3, 19
  • The preaching of Jesus’ disciples on repentance during Jesus’ ministry:
    • “So they went out and preached that people should repent.”  (Mark 6:12)
  • The preaching of Peter on repentance on the Day of Pentecost that led to great revival and mass salvation:
    • “‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’  Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’  Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…”  (Acts 2:36-38)
  • The preaching of Peter AFTER Pentecost:
    • Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”  (Acts 3:19)
    • Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.  For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”  (Acts 8:22-23)
  • The preaching of repentance by Paul in Book of Acts:
    • “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”  (Acts 17:30-31)
    • See also Acts 20:21 & Acts 26:20
  • Paul taught godly sorrow as necessary to repentance and repentance as necessary to salvation in II Corinthians 7:9-11
  • Paul listed repentance FIRST as one of six foundational doctrines of Christ (judgment  is also listed) that is necessary “milk” for Christians before they can mature as doers of the word (Hebrews 5:11-6:1)

(4)  Concerning the omission of preaching of repentance by false pastors, false prophets and false teachers:

Consider the “prophet wars” of the Old Testament.  Probably the two main themes of the TRUE prophets of the Old Testament (who wrote many of the books of the Bible) were “repentance” and “judgment.”  (Read their stories.  Find out what they had to say.  Don’t succumb to ignorance of the Old Testament because of cheap grace teachers who ignore it as irrelevant.)

What was the main theme of the false shepherds, the wicked priests and the false prophets?  We are fine as we are.  God is on our side.  We don’t need to fear God’s judgment.  Ignore the real prophets.

Now let’s take it into the New Testament to find out what God tells us preachers (through Paul) what we are supposed to preach:

“I charge [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by (in the light of) His coming and His kingdom:  Herald and preach the Word!  Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable.  [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what ways their lives are wrong.]  And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.  For the time will come when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, and will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.”—II Timothy 4:1-4 [Amplified]

In summary of this point:  PREACHERS WHO REFUSE TO INSTRUCT PEOPLE CONCERNING REPENTANCE AND JUDGMENT ARE IN DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD AND ARE HARMING THE CHURCH INSTEAD OF HELPING THEM!

Quote #58:

“…many of us have the impression that repentance is something that involves mourning and sorrow.  However, that is not what the Word of God says.  Repentance just means changing your mind.”

Chapter 18, page 233

NOTE:  There is nothing wrong with defining “repentance” in simple terms; however, this is just SIMPLISTIC and a very poor characterization meant to belittle one of the most foundational Christian doctrines.  Repentance is an inward conversion that produces an outward change.  Speaking in terms of its application to the believer, it is inseparably linked to conversion.  It consists of four parts displayed over and over again in scripture:  humility, genuine sorrow, confession of sin, and turning from sin.  It means a reversal:  a total change in direction inwardly (different attitude, feelings, & way of thinking, a new heart condition and a change of will) with outward “fruits of repentance” (speaking and acting differently).

Perhaps one could refer to repentance as “a change of mind”; but that is really an inadequate definition considering how loosely we use that terminology today!  When I think of “a change of mind” I think of my wife picking out clothes.  That does nothing to help me understand repentance!

When the Old Testament prophets, or Jesus, or Paul, or the apostles, etc. were preaching “repentance”—they weren’t saying, “Hey!  God wants you to change your mind about stuff!”  NO!  They were saying, “HEY!  God wants you to CHANGE EVERYTHING by being joined to Him in total consecration!

Consider the following scriptural examples of repentance:

  • In connection to sorrow and mourning:  Isaiah 22:12; Ezekiel 18:31; Joel 2:12; Jeremiah 31:9; Matthew 5:4; Psalm 34:18; Joel 2:13; Luke 6:21;  II Kings 22:19; Ezra 10:1; Job 42:6; Jonah 3:6-8; Mark 14:72; II Corinthians 7:10; James 4:8-10
  • In connection with humility:  II Chronicles 7:14; I Samuel 7:3; Luke 15:18; I Kings 8:46-50; Psalm 34:18; I Kings 21:27; II Kings 22:19; Ezra 10:1; Job 42:6; Luke 15:21; Luke 18:13; Isaiah 66:2
  • In connection with confession of sin:  Hosea 14:12; Acts 8:22; Ezra 10:11; Proverbs 28:13; Jeremiah 3:13; I John 1:9; Leviticus 26:40; Numbers 5:7; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:8; Luke 15:18; I Kings 8:33-35; Ezra 10:1; Job 42:1, 6; Luke 15:21
  • In connection to both an inward and outward turn: Ezekiel 14:6; 33:11; Acts 3:19; Acts 26:20; James 4:8; II Chronicles 30:9; Nehemiah 1:9; Isaiah 55:7; Ezekiel 18:21; Zechariah 1:3

Quote #59:

“Believers are often exhorted to repent from sin.  However in the New Testament, we are actually exhorted to repent from dead works…It says in the book of Hebrews [Hebrews 6:1]that the first foundation stone of our faith is ‘repentance from dead works and of faith toward God’.  Now, ‘dead works’ are not sins.  They are the religious things that people do, thinking that by doing these things, they are gaining righteousness with God.”

Chapter 18, page 234

NOTE:  This is fascinating to me on two fronts: 

Front one:  Hebrews 5:11-6:2 is a fascinating topical study because within these verses are the core doctrines of both the Old and the New Testaments and the core problem of “dullness of hearing” regarding these subjects.

Front two:  The doctrine of repentance is listed of primary importance to conversion and its theme is echoed in hundreds of scriptures in both the old and new testaments.  In the hundreds of scriptures both old and new testament that this theme is echoed, it is dealing directly with the subject of sin. Yet Pastor Prince makes a fascinating and erroneous claim that dismisses the relevancy of repentance from sin as connected to this topic WHATSOEVER!

Herein lies the major question:  Is Pastor Prince’s interpretation of the doctrine of repentance from dead works having no correlation with repentance from sin correct?

I believe Pastor Prince’s interpretation to be spurious, reckless, misleading and completely FALSE based on the following points:

(1) The broader context

The book of Hebrews was written specifically to instruct Jewish Christians concerning the conversion of covenants from Old Testament Judaism to New Testament Christianity, so even though the verses may be clearly understood by Gentiles without doctrinal contradiction, many of the references carry extra significance to Jewish people.  Understanding this paradigm will aide in rightly interpreting Hebrews 6:1, as I will now illustrate:

Look at Hebrews 6:1-2 for the full list of what is referred to as “the elementary principles of Christ”:

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrines of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection from the dead, and of eternal judgment.”

These six items (repentance from dead works, faith towards God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection from the dead and eternal judgment) are all referred to as “elementary principles of Christ.”  Why is this significant?  Because these SAME six items were ALSO considered elementary principles for making proselytes of Judaism in the Old Covenant!

For example:  “baptisms” (though it may have different connotations for us as Christians), was foreshadowed in Jewish practices—such as a one-time cleansing for Jewish proselytes converting to Judaism) and Old Testament teachings (Levitical washings, ceremonial cleansings, etc).

Consider this quote taken from the Bible Background Commentary:

“The writer [Paul] probably chooses these items as the ‘basics’ because they were the basic sort of instructions about Jewish belief given to converts to Judaism, which all the author’s readers would have understood before becoming followers of Jesus.  These items represented Jewish teachings still useful for followers of Christ [my emphasis added].  Judaism stressed repentance as a regular antidote for sin, and a once-for-all kind of repentance for the turning of pagans to Judaism.”

So, what was once considered “the basics” for converting pagans to Judaism, Paul is writing to tell us that these same subjects are still necessary for Christians and are now referred to as elementary principles of CHRIST!  Thus, what was elementary in the Old Testament remains elementary in the New Testament—repentance, faith, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection, and judgment!

In fact, look at the Greek word used in Hebrews 6:1 translated “laying again.”  It is the Greek word “katabollo”, and it means “casting down or overthrow.”

Let’s look again at Hebrews 6:1 with this new understanding of “laying again”:

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again [casting down or overthrowing] the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God”

What is Paul stressing here?  Don’t cast down or overthrow the foundational doctrines of verses 1-2!  They were foundational in the Old Testament but they are STILL foundational in the NEW Testament!

So, in the Old Testament, would the expression “repentance from dead works” include the idea of repentance from sin?  YES!!!  This hasn’t changed as foundational doctrine!

The broader context of this passage illustrates the error of dismissing sin as included in the subject of repentance from dead works.

(2)  The term “repentance” itself

Since repentance deals with the conversion of the inward man and is a foundational doctrine dealing with sin in both Testaments, it is fair to say sin would be implied already.  Repentance of dead works would still include “sin” even if not expressly stated.

(3) The usage of the term “dead works”

This term is only used here and again in Hebrews 9:14.  It is true, the term has a special connection to religious formalism done apart from God as Pastor Prince suggests; however, these are works committed in self-righteousness and are therefore sin!

In fact, look at Hebrews 9:14:

“How much more shall the blood of Christ cleanse your conscience…from dead works to serve the living God?”

If dead works do not infer sin, why do we need the blood of Christ to cleanse our conscience of them?

(4) The term “dead works” itself

The term “dead works” is understood as works/actions resulting in/deserving of DEATH!  Is sin a work/action resulting in/deserving of death?  Of course!  Therefore the idea of sin is echoed in the usage of both phrases:  “repentance” AND “dead works”.

(5) Hebrews 6:1 as it is translated in the Amplified Bible

“Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance AND [my emphasis added] abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God”

Notice this translation gives special distinction to the doctrine of repentance itself and lists “abandonment of dead works” as complementary to the first, then reiterates again a third time the act of repentance implied in faith itself!

(6) The combined terms “repentance of dead works” are used together

Rather than the added phrase “from dead works” undermining the doctrine of repentance as it relates to sin, it only gives heightened understanding to the ongoing theme concerning repentance as it is used hundreds of times elsewhere: repentance is a change that is both inward and outward.

Quote #60:

“When the rich young ruler came boasting in his law-keeping, Jesus answered with the law. And the young man could hardly give a dollar to Jesus and walked away sorrowful.  But in the very next chapter, when Jesus gave no law but showed His grace, it not only opened Zacchaeus’ heart, it also opened up his wallet!”

Chapter 18, page 238

NOTE:  This is actually an excellent contrast between the law and grace.  However, rather than legitimizing abstinence from use of the law in evangelistic efforts—it actually shows that it is appropriate to use the law!

Why did Jesus use the law (not grace) when evangelizing the rich, young ruler? 

“Law to the proud, grace to the humble” as previously illustrated.  It is not that Jesus’ efforts at evangelizing the rich young ruler were unsuccessful—Jesus exposed his guilt with the same law he claimed to uphold!  This man was now closer to salvation than He had been previously, (before Jesus used the law to expose his guilt).  The man came as far as Jesus could take him, but would not humble himself in repentance to receive grace.

So why did Jesus NOT use the law when converting Zacchaeus?

Does this mean the only effective method of evangelism is through grace?  No!  It means the law had already done its work in Zacchaeus heart—he was now ready to receive grace for salvation!

ANY evangelist would ALWAYS prefer giving grace in evangelistic efforts!  That’s the EASY part!  Unfortunately, the LAW is the hard part that MUST come first—extending grace  to the unrepentant is casting pearls before swine.

Quote #61:

“You don’t have to worry about how your behavior will be governed without a consciousness of the law.  The Word of God says that grace will teach you—‘For the grace of God…has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts…’ [Titus 2:11-12]. Grace is a teacher…”

Chapter 18, page 239

NOTE:  If you have no consciousness of the law and are worried about what will govern your behavior—it is because your own conscience is telling you, “Hey you!  You need to know the law to rightly govern your behavior!”  If you REALLY want to test out this theory of grace teaching you without knowledge of the law, just put down your Bible (ignoring II Timothy 2:15), never read it again, never obey your conscience and ONLY listen to Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live:  “You are good enough; you are smart enough, and DOG-GONE it, PEOPLE LIKE YOU!”   Then send a testimony to Pastor Prince to tell him how things turned out for you!

You know how to RIGHTLY interpret Titus 2:11-12?  The grace of God appearing to all men (in the person of Jesus) CONFIRMS WHAT THE LAW ALREADY TEACHES!

Quote #62:

“In saying that ‘where sin abounded, grace abounded much more’, I am preaching the same message that Paul…preached.  What Paul meant…is this: Sin does not stop God’s grace from flowing, but God’s grace will stop sin…So where there is sin, God’s grace is in superabundance!”

Chapter 19, page 249

NOTE:  What Paul is teaching is NOT:  sin and grace share the same space and no matter how much I sin grace has got me covered!  He is saying that there is MORE THAN ENOUGH GRACE AVAILABLE to completely COME OUT of the dominion of sin in your life and NOT CONTINUE IN SIN!

Quote #63:

“When it came to wrong behavior in Corinth, Paul was cool and collected toward the believers.  He was able to handle their wrong behavior because he knew that the grace of God was able to take care of their spree of wrong behavior.  That is why he was able to speak positively to them…But when it came to wrong doctrine in Galatia, he rebuked the believers there because they nullified God’s grace by mixing it with the law.”

Chapter 20, page 258-259

NOTE:  First of all, the letter to the Corinthians was not exactly all “happy-happy” since it was primarily a book of correction; however, I would agree there IS in fact a greater degree of agitation in Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia because they had become backslidden heretics.

Secondly, what KIND of law were the people in Galatia practicing?

These people were not backslidden because they were preaching Christ and the Ten Commandments from the same pulpit; they were backslidden PRIMARILY because they substituted the ceremonial aspects of the law (man-made traditions, rituals, ceremony & pomp) for faith in God.

            Examples:

(1)  They had rejected the truth, turned from faith, and started justifying themselves by works (Galatians 3:1-5).

{This in itself is no more an indictment against the law than it was when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees.  This was an indictment against those who attempt to practice the law apart from faith in God (Christ).}

           (2)  They had begun to reinforce the ceremonial law (Galatians 4:9-10; 5:1-2)

The ceremonial law was completely done away with through Christ because it was a type and shadow of everything that Christ already fulfilled.  The laws of Moses are not applicable to us because we have a new contract through Christ.  Nevertheless, God’s divine laws are eternal and immutable.  There is no part of the new covenant that implies we are exempt from keeping God’s eternal laws of morality and faith.

(3)  They were imposing the circumcision to avoid persecution for Christ (Galatians 6:12-15).

Galatians 6:15-16 effectively sums up the gospel of grace:

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them…”

Are you or aren’t you a new creation?

This is true grace.  It does not mix with superficiality.  Whether that superficiality be cheap grace, ceremonial laws, or religious pomp.  If you are a new creation, the law is no threat to grace and you don’t have to ignore if for fear it will make sin stronger in your life.

Quote #64:

“Now would you like to know what Revelation 3:15-16 really means?  The two verses would only make sense when they are interpreted in the light of the mixture of covenants of law and grace in the church of Laodicea.  The Lord was saying that He would the church be cold—entirely under law, or hot—entirely under grace.”

Chapter 20, page 264

NOTE:  This is more allegorical preaching that pulls doctrine out of thin air.   But since Pastor Prince brought it up, mixing up covenants is a bad idea; teaching the law and grace together in their proper context is actually a GOOD idea.  That’s why it they are taught side-by-side throughout the New Testament (see response to Quote #1).

Quote #65:

“Paul told the Galatians, ‘Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace(Galatians 5:4).  This is the true definition of ‘falling from grace.’  Today, when someone sins, ministers say that the person has ‘fallen from grace.’  But Paul never told the Corinthians they were fallen from grace despite all their sins.  To fall from grace then is to fall into the law.”

Chapter 20, page 267

NOTE:  Falling from grace in this context simply means they reverted back to self-righteousness—thus, they fell into sin.

One can also do “despite the Spirit of Grace” by committing willful sin according to Hebrews 10:26-29.  One can twist the scriptures (or the teachings of Paul specifically) to their own destruction instead of “growing in grace” according to II Peter 3:15-18.   Or one can “fail of the grace of God” like Esau did in Hebrews 12:15.  Or one can invent their own doctrine of grace as a means to fulfill lust, like the ungodly men of Jude 4 did.  Either way, there is more than one way to fall from grace, whether we use this phrase or another.

Quote #66:

“The law makes everything of man’s efforts, while grace gives all the glory to God.  That is why Paul told the Galatians that the gospel is not a man-pleasing gospel.  He was essentially saying, ‘If I want to please man, I would be preaching the law.’”

Chapter 20, page 268

NOTE:  Paul was essentially saying he wasn’t a man-pleaser because he just finished saying let the other guy who is preaching a DIFFERENT gospel (the one this church just embraced), LET HIM BE DAMNED!  Paul had some grit!  I like him!  (See Galatians 1:6-10).

Quote #67:

“The question we should be asking is, ‘Did Jesus tell us to fast?’  Now, I know that when Jesus’ disciples were unable to cast out a certain spirit from a boy, the NKJV (as well as the KJV) Bible does record that Jesus, in reference to the spirit, said, ‘This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.’…But do you know that in the original Greek text, the word ‘fasting’ does not appear in that verse?  It was added by the translators!  And if you look at the NASB and NIV translations, you won’t find the word ‘fasting’ in that verse.”

Chapter 21, page 274-275

NOTE:  I don’t even like fasting J, but I feel compelled to respond anyway:

We have no way of saying that “FASTING” is not in the original Greek text BECAUSE WE DO NOT HAVE THE ORIGINAL GREEK TEXT!  What we have, are numerous copies of the original Greek text, most of which include the word “fasting.”  Which is more likely, most of the copies are wrong or a couple copies accidently left a word out?  Even the earliest copies which are considered among the highest in manuscript authorities have accidental omissions.  Nevertheless, we literally have THOUSANDS of early manuscripts to compare to determine with a great deal of accuracy what passages and words were in the original text.  Which is why it was overwhelmingly decided with very little debate from most theologians, old or new, that “fasting” should be included.  Besides that, if you believe “fasting” was a copy error, (later addition by fasting enthusiasts) in Mark 9:29, then you must make the case that “fasting” as it is recorded in Matthew 17:21 is a copy error/(later addition by fasting enthusiasts) as well.  Where does it stop?

The fact is, “fasting” was practiced by Jesus as well as in the book of Acts.  There is some dispute over its usage in I Corinthians 7:5 as well, but there is nothing unscriptural about taking a break from indulging the flesh for awhile to focus on prayer.

Quote #68:

“Now, do I fast?  Yes, I do, in the sense that many a time, I am so preoccupied with the Lord in prayer or with studying His Word that I forget to eat…I unconsciously miss my regular meals, and I even find myself forgoing sleep to be in His presence.  But I don’t consciously go on a fast, believing that fasting would get me my miracle.”

Chapter 21, page 276-277

NOTE:  So the short answer is, “Only if it’s accidental”?

Even though fasting is not something we do to try to earn God’s attention or answered prayer, it still can be beneficial to the New Testament believer.

For examples of the purpose an benefits of fasting, see the following scriptures:

Matthew 17:14-21; Psalm 35:13; II Samuel 12:16-23; Matthew 4:1-11; Psalm 69:10; I Corinthians 7:5; I Kings 21:27; Daniel 6:18; I Kings 21:27; Ezra 8:21; Esther 4; Acts 27:9; Acts 9; Matthew 6:16-18; Matthew 9:15 & Matthew 17:14-21.

Quote #69:

“When Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased…When the devil said, ‘Command these STONES to become bread,’ he was, in fact, telling Jesus to get His nourishment from the law that was written on STONES.  Now look at Jesus’ reply:  ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’…What did God just say to Jesus before He entered the wilderness?  He had said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’  This is the word that we are to live by today as well!”

Chapter 22, pages 295-297

NOTE:  To the casual observer, one would assume that when Satan told Jesus to turn stones into bread it was because He was hungry after not eating for forty days! Evidently, it was because Satan wanted Him to study the law of Moses and come under death and condemnation.  Fortunately, Jesus outwitted Satan by responding with therhema word from God:  God loves me!  (The coded exchange used by both Jesus and Satan here is so deep; it is AMAZING that either one was able to decipher the other’s witty word-plays!

Quote #70:

“The Lord told me many years ago, ‘Son, your ministry is to roll away the stone.’  Let me explain to you what this means.  In the story of Lazarus, Jesus commanded the people to roll away the stone from Lazarus’ tomb…My friend, the stone is a picture of the law.”

Chapter 22, page 298

NOTE:  Book burning anyone?

Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church.

Today’s church has stricken a sympathetic pose in the hopes that it will help turn hearts. It won’t.

We love old saints, missionaries, martyrs and reformers… We will do anything except imitate them.- Leonard Ravenhill

imageEnough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church!

We have become little more than a socially aware sympathetic ear to a culture that, if we are honest, we have sold our birthright to as well.

The emerging strategies to impact culture today look little like the powerful, bold, prophetic messages that were delivered by the burning messengers of old.

In today’s religiously correct society (yes, I’m talking to the Spirit-filled church) the primary methods of evangelism and cultural impact are driven by human sympathy instead of the supernatural revelation of the Word of God.

We are being nice, cautious, soft-spoken and relevant while convincing ourselves that the true Church is advancing because of it! It’s time our messages result in the mass exodus of our friends and the ferocious resistance of our enemies!

“Why in God's name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it the world couldn't get on with the holiest man that ever lived, and it can get on with you and me?” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

The offense of the cross has been traded for appealing camaraderie in marginalized, religious social structures that couldn’t be further from the model of the biblical church.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10

If we don’t change our approach by adopting the historic blueprint of preaching holiness in light of the realities of both Heaven and Hell, Christianity will become little more than a myth or fable to nearly every person on the planet.

“The only reason some of us are not exiled or thrown into prison is simply because we do not preach as fervently and as sternly as did Paul, John, Peter and others. This modern “santa claus” religion that is sweeping country today is not the religion Jesus taught and John practiced.” ~Oliver B. Greene

“It is not enough to do God's work; it must be done in His way and for His credit.” ~ Erwin Lutzer

Duck Dynasty & Phil Robertson opposed by…a Spirit-filled mega-church pastor?

When I read a Charisma Magazine article today about Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong NYC, standing in opposition to public messages regarding homosexuality, I couldn’t stay silent. Can you imagine Leonard Ravenhill saying what this pastor said? How far has the church fallen? Very, very far.

While Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson is currently facing serious backlash in the wake of his comments about homosexuality, a popular New York City pastor has made it clear he will not take a public stance on the controversial issue.

Carl Lentz, who leads megachurch Hillsong NYC, told Katie Couric in an interview on her self-titled show that he did not believe he had a “moral imperative to speak publicly about some of these more controversial issues” because, he says, “We try to be like Jesus.”

“Very rarely did Jesus ever talk about morality or social issues,” the 35-year-old pastor explained in a pre-recorded interview that aired Thursday. “It was about the deeper things of the heart, and often people want to talk about behavior modification. Our church isn’t about that.”

When Couric asked Lentz if his church has a position on issues like gay marriage, he said, “We have a stance on love, and everything else, we have conversations.”

Sure, it’s great to have conversations. It’s important to walk with people through their struggles. But, he actually said that he refuses to make a public stand on homosexuality! Does he forget that Jesus, Paul and others had no problem whatsoever taking a public stand?

“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Our Christianity is degenerating into a middle class culture, a comfortable nostalgia, in the avoidance of the Cross of Christ Jesus. ~ Art Katz

Is it possible that our churches are full of people who have been seduced by culture and, thus, blinded by God himself?

“He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him. Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. John 12:40-43

as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” Romans 11:8

When preaching truth is avoided due to fear that most will reject it, the fruit of our ministry will be little more than a gathering of spiritually blind people—people who have rejected God and who are rejected by God.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:19

We cannot avoid the controversial social topics of our day (which, in fact aren’t controversial, they are simply resisted by blinded people). We need a bold prophetic people who will renounce the shameful ways of the world and who will refuse to distort the Word of God!

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 2 Corinthians 4:2-5

Love

When did the definition of biblical love shift to mean little more than human sympathy?

I wrote extensively on this topic in an article that should awaken you to the reality of true love. You can read it in a new window here: https://burton.tv/2013/09/21/the-great-love-deception-a-false-love-movement-is-on-the-rise/

The passage so often trumpeted in today’s watered-down Christian evangelism culture is in Romans 2:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:1-4

God’s kindness leads us toward repentance. This is truth! Without question.

However, this has to be applied appropriately. What this passage is saying is that we can’t be cruel and spiteful and condemning when people don’t live up to biblical standards. There is a nasty spirit out there that can lead people to operate much like Westboro Baptist Church who terribly and unapologetically pronounces condemnation on people. They cry out, “God hates fags!” They picket funerals of people who didn’t live up to their standards. It’s this type of approach that God is dealing with here. He’s reminding us that he is kind by not judging us prematurely. He’s longsuffering.

What it doesn’t say is that we put on some cheesy smile, affirm people’s apathy and casually nudge them toward the light at the end of their dark tunnel. Being kind does not mean being passive. It doesn’t mean we lose the fire in our bellies. It doesn’t mean we don’t have unction. It doesn’t mean we don’t have a fierce disposition as we renounce sin and reveal both the fires of God’s heart and the fires of an eternal Hell.

Preaching truth won’t cause most to cozy up to us. It will cause most to hate us.

All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Mark 13:13

Please understand—this means that very possibly most in your current church will begin to hate you (though they may not publically admit it) when you call them higher than they are willing to go. Pastors will despise you too. A life surrendered to the cross in love is threatening and offensive as it reveals the lesser commitments of those around you.

Yesterday's prophets focused on causing people problems, and today's on fixing people's problems. Pastors, do you understand that you are called to trouble the saints? You are called to wreck their pursuits of satisfaction while calling them to die. I’m not talking about taking a week or two out of the year to mention consecration, Hell or the cross. I mean the very culture of your ministry must be threatening, volatile and burning—like a volcano that impacts society hundreds of miles around.

God did not save Paul from the consequences of being Pauline. Men vowed to kill him, because He was a perpetuation of Jesus Christ Himself. ~ Art Katz

It’s time that we understand that our love-driven preaching of truth will cause most to hate us. The plumb-line of truth isn’t the level of response it generates. The greater the truth, the greater the resistance by both the world and the church. Mega-churches can easily shrink from ten thousand members to less than a hundred when the offensive, costly message of the cross is preached with power—and churches of one hundred can impact millions.

“If you're going to be a true Christian, I'll tell you one thing amongst others: it'll be a lonely life. It's a narrow way and it becomes narrower and narrower and narrower.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

“All you have to do is get in a closer walk with God and you'll find your enemies are in your own church.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Listen, we are absolutely kidding ourselves if we think simply being nice is going to result in mass salvations. Being nice can’t result in that—but preaching truth can.

I propose that it was Leonard Ravenhill’s deep love that provoked so many people to offense, and so many to freedom, and not his sober, intrusive, irritating attitude.

“What's the condition of America like, spiritually, tonight? Zero. Why? Because we've got blind men coming out of seminaries. Men there don't teach them; they don't hear a word about Hell. They're blind themselves, and as blind men, they lead the blind and they go to Hell.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill

Wrath

How is it that we have fallen for the lie that toning down truth in such a way that people will cozy up on the couch next to a flesh-warming fireplace to listen to our spiritualized human wisdom is an appropriate strategy?

Our goal is NOT to gain more hearers! That approach will always result in compromised truth—always. The goal is to preach undiluted truth that results in extreme reaction—both for and against. If there is not a provocation in people’s inner man, than we have to question whether it’s truth being delivered or or if it’s Christianized philosophy.

When is the last time you’ve heard a message to our nation that includes Hell and God’s wrath as focal points? Today’s pop-religion rejects such approaches as unloving, even though they are clearly communicated in scripture.

 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. Romans 1:18-19

Is it possible the obnoxious street preacher with a megaphone is closer to preaching uncompromised truth than most pastors with a growing audience? I do think that may often be the case.

Christian! It is time to pull out the ancient messages from generations ago and shock a comfortably resistant culture with the truth of eternal torment in Hell, God’s judgment and his wrath that is currently resting on the unrepentant! Authentic Christians will celebrate even the most offensive, troubling message of the cross while the rest will resist it. Do you want to know who’s truly in line with scripture as authentic Christians? Preach truth and watch the pretenders get offended and scatter.

“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher”   ~George Whitefield

If we truly flow in God’s love we will unapologetically preach the truth of God’s wrath! Those two topics aren’t mutually exclusive, they are intertwined and flowing from the same heart of God.

There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. — He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it.

They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.

So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them. 

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. — And consider here more particularly. ~ Jonathan Edwards

Homosexual Agenda

The church’s response to the aggressive, militant homosexual agenda has been laughable at best. Attempts at relevance have resulted in being rejected both as Christians and as friends. They see right through us.

We’ve fallen for the fallacy that being nice equals loving people—and somehow that strategy gives us the best shot at winning them to Jesus. We’ve bitten at their accusations of intolerance, and we’ve surrendered our prophetic mantle. In fear of coming across as intolerant and unloving, biblical truth has been silenced. God’s methods have been traded for human wisdom in the hopes that it will result in peace, common ground and changed hearts.

“If the Holy Spirit guides us, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.” ~George Muller

First, it’s time that we understand that our primary goal isn’t to attempt to win everybody to Jesus via sympathetic strategies! It is to worship & reveal Jesus in the spirit of truth—and to function in the Holy Spirit as we reveal Jesus to the nations. Keep in mind, when Jesus is revealed as he truly is, he, and we, will be despised by most. That’s why our goal simply cannot be winning everybody. That just won’t happen. But, when we trust truth, the remnant will be revealed.

Historically when truth is preached, the core desire has always been to reveal Jesus to as many people as possible with the understanding that the extremely high majority will say no. They will reject Jesus when he is revealed as he truly is. It’s only a quasi-Jesus that’s accepted at a high level today. A Jesus that doesn’t exist.

“The Jesus that men want to see is not the Jesus they really need to see.” ~G. Campbell Morgan

The spirit behind the homosexual agenda is so destructive that we cannot use relational, sympathetic methods in an attempt to eradicate it.

We must have bold, offensive, authoritative, confrontational preaching that’s anointed by the Holy Spirit to tear down the arguments that are being embraced by by our culture, media and churches.

“The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God's law and to show the nature of sin.”  ~Martin Luther

God himself is extreme in the way he deals with those who are vile and unrepentant. How is it that we think we can casually woo them in when God’s strategy is to turn them over to their desires?

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. Romans 1:24

Do you not see how successful that evil spirit has become?

All it takes is Phil Robertson to very simply affirm classic, historic biblical truth to set off a firestorm!

Will someone please trumpet the truth that homosexuals will not enter Heaven? Will someone let them know? Will someone reveal the undeniable truth that homosexuals will spend eternity in torment beyond our capacity to fathom? Will someone love them enough to warn them of the crisis that’s ahead? Is telling someone with a gun in his hand that he’ll go to prison for life if he pulls the trigger hatred? Intolerance? No! It’s love!

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Romans 1:26-27

God gave them over to their lusts—and they are under penalty for their perversion. The Bible makes this clear, yet we are afraid to make this known!

Their future is sure unless they repent! God wasn’t subtle or relevant or sweet as he revealed this:

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32

The accusation against preaching this way is that we are unloving, hateful and angry. Intolerant. Arrogant. Not nice.

We don’t have to defend ourselves. God will truly judge us if we are operating in a spirit of hate or pride. That is sure. But we don’t have to defend scripture. It stands on its own.

We must stand against the spirit of the age however it manifests. We have to stand for holiness. We can’t presume that many will respond. We can’t modify the message in hopes that more will receive it. We must present God and his Truth accurately.

It’s time to expose the darkness! If we don’t, than the blood of many will be on our hands. We live in a culture where Romans chapter one is playing out before our eyes. People are full of greed, strife, gossip, disobedience and every kind of wickedness—and God says that they deserve death! God says that! Is he unloving?

Who will warn the world of its impending destruction? If we only tell them that God loves them, that is an insufficient, incomplete message! Definition must be given to that truth as it can be presumed that God’s love equates to his indifference. God is not indifferent. He is longsuffering but not tolerant!

God loves homosexuals, adulterers, gossips and the others who are willfully gripped by the powers of darkness—but that looks very different than we might presume. His anger and wrath are on them at the same time he is loving them!

Somehow we’ve fallen for the lie that hiding the fact that God’s wrath remains on the unrepentant will result in them wanting to get saved more quickly. We must never trade biblical truth for human wisdom! We can’t veil truth! It must be preached and we must trust God’s wisdom!

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11

The method we must embrace is a sharp, clear call to repentance! Sympathy won’t do it. Pop-psychology won’t do it. A demand for holiness in our nation must be decreed!

This powerful spirit of the age has nearly overtaken the church today.

We are entertained in media by the very things that required the death of the one we say we love.

It’s shocking that calls to holiness IN THE CHURCH are resisted and those delivering the message are called angry legalists!

No, it’s not OK to listen to cuss words in a movie! It’s not OK to see nudity! It’s not OK to play first person shooters! It’s NOT OK. We have been desensitized by crafty demonic spirits and it’s time to shut them down! How can we presume to have any authority to confront the homosexual spirit in our culture if we ourselves think lustful thoughts? We don’t have any authority whatsoever when we embrace the very spirits we are attempting to rebuke. It’s time to repent church! Wake up!

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Revelation 3:15-19

May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever. Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them. May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents. For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt. Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous. Psalm 69:23-28

This is hard core!

The answer is simple—repent! The church must see prophetic messengers arise who will boldly awaken sleepers, expose the spirit of the age and call people out of clearly defined darkness!

Almost Homosexual

As I conclude this message, I am going to include, in full, one of the most important messages I’ve ever given:

Almost homosexual: A crisis in the church

After I woke up from a significant dream about Ellen DeGeneres, I read my verse of the day… here it is:

Colossians 4:5 Be wise when you engage with those outside the faith community; make the most of every moment and every encounter.

I felt God had a message of love for Ellen that I should try to get to her.

I decided to email Ellen. I have no idea if she will ever get it, but I pray she does.

Here’s what I sent to Ellen DeGeneres:

Here’s a strange story for ya! I’m a pastor & author, and I had a dream about you last night. It was crazy long and detailed and the first two part dream I’ve had (I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle and the dream continued after I went back to sleep).

You aren’t someone I think about often at all (sorry!), so I have a feeling God may have dropped that dream on me. It started with you at the Academy Awards (or something similar) and you called me on stage from the audience. I was overwhelmed with grief and whispered to you, “Please forgive me for judging you.”

Later, you went on to share with me from your heart about some pain and you talked about your mom. Later on I met your mom and your brother at their home. (I didn’t realize you had a brother until I googled it just a moment ago.)

There were other pieces to the dream, but I thought I’d leave it at that for now.

A little about me; I may appear to fit the stereotype as I do believe any lifestyle that embraces activities that God, in his wisdom, deems unhealthy must be avoided. Homosexuality included. However, what’s also included is pride, which the Christian church is often steeped in. So is selfish ambition and having cold love. All deadly, all have hit the church at large. Again, please forgive me.

After the dream I decided to preach tonight on a crazy controversial message calling the church to repentance titled, “Almost Homosexual: The Church in Crisis.”

God likes you, he loves you. Me too.

I'd strongly encourage you to listen to this powerful teaching & intercession for Ellen from a Revival Church service here:

 

As I begin this urgent and troubling prophetic message, I must do my best to make several points extremely clear.

  • God is passionately jealous and zealous for his beautiful bride, the church. His emotions are extreme and deep as he yearns for love fueled intimacy with those he laid down his life for. His affection cannot be described by capture-000000596even the most romantic or poetic language.
  • When I mention the church in this message, I am referring to the global body of Christ. The global bride of Christ. I'm fully aware and thankful that there are many local expressions of the church that are radically surrendered and given to the lover of their souls—Jesus Christ.
  • The primary points I will expound on have little to do with sexuality, or sexual sin. You will have to intentionally keep this in mind so as to ensure you understand the issues when I deal with the spirits behind homosexuality and how these spirits are being embraced in the church (again, the global church; or, the church in general).

Massive Repentance

Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.

This is a powerful verse, and the more time we spend on our face in the presence of God, the more we realize how true it is.

Before we can go any further, we have to all agree on the above point that is found in Jeremiah 17: Our hearts are both deceitful and wicked. What does this mean? Very simply, it’s possible and common for impure motives to be rooted deeply in us even though we may be devoted followers of Christ.

The more time I spend in prayer the easier it is for the Lord to dig deep and bring to the surface issues that wouldn’t normally be evident. My heart has harbored pride at times though at the surface I felt meek. Other times I’ve verbally forgiven people, but then the Holy Spirit revealed to me a deeper reality—that I hadn’t truly done so.

This is why we must not only be OK with messages like this one, but we have to eagerly invite God to shine his burning light into every part of our lives.

Is 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

When God is in our midst, a revelation of our own sin and issues are made known.  A key problem today is that God’s manifest presence isn’t with us as He should be!  Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.  He is the Revelation.  He is the Word.  Where God is, revelation is.  You can’t separate the two.

As God, in his burning love for us, reveals our hearts to us, we will find ourselves falling to our knees.

God is calling the church to massive repentance.

Almost Homosexual?

God has suddenly revisited me with a prophetic word that shocked me and those I shared it with a few years ago—and he’s added to the revelation.

Trust me, I’ve waited several days before deciding to write this (I usually write prophetic words the moment I receive them). I’ve considered the trouble it may bring. I’ve also considered God’s thoughts about the matter and I’ve chosen to trust his wisdom that this will free many more people than it will disturb. God’s word and his wisdom must return to the pulpits again.

image“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” — Leonard Ravenhill

Deuteronomy 4:23-24 (ESV) 23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

God is jealous of his church—and the spirits that have not only invaded the church, but that have been embraced by the church, have made him jealous indeed.

As I was on the airplane flying into Colorado a few years ago, the Lord surprised me with a strong and striking word for the church. I was shaking.

The church is almost homosexual.

This is a word that I’m confident is tearing at the heart of God… he’s watching his bride become bewitched.

Question—Is it possible that we in the church are close to embracing the same spirits that fuel the homosexual agenda?

As I was watching the mountains of Colorado draw closer during the final approach to the airport that day, the Lord revealed three drivers of the homosexual agenda:

  1. Pride
  2. Identity
  3. Lust

Understand—the driver of the homosexual agenda is not same-sex attraction, but rather there are strong deceiving spirits of pride, self-promotion and identity, and lust.

I was on a train where two homosexual girls were very visibly hanging on each other, making it very clear that they were together. Their actions were not a result of raging hormones, but rather, they were making a bold declaration, a prideful pronouncement of their chosen identity as lesbians.

They wanted to force affirmation, be noticed and demand acceptance and equality.

“All of the acceptable sins in church are keeping us sick.”-Steve Gray

“Be careful about what you think is innocent. It may come back and choke you.”- Steve Gray

The church has been bewitched by the same spirits that give fuel to the homosexual agenda—and this is a primary reason we have not had success in winning homosexuals to Jesus. We can’t cast out the same demonic spirits we embrace.

Pride

We’ve all heard of gay pride. Pride is a hallmark of the homosexual movement, and, all too often, it’s a driver of the church as well.

I hear continually that it’s rare to find a church where the tangible, manifest presence of God can be experienced. I believe, sadly, there are more Ichabod churches than we realize. An Ichabod church is simply a church that is devoid of God’s glory. The ark of God’s presence has been captured. It doesn’t mean God hates that church. Quite the opposite—He is grieved that he must be removed from his lover, his bride.

1 Samuel 4:21-22 (ESV) 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

1 Peter 5:5 (ESV) 5…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

You may not have thought about it this way, but God, though he loves so deeply, actually opposes, or resists, those who are proud. God’s glory departs.

We live in a culture where we fight for success, we jockey for position and we can’t imagine being hidden or failing. Compromise has consumed the church as it seeks success, a larger building, more people, more influence, more money and other demands. Pride has resulted in worship of images made of gold where humility demands the gold is given as worship to God. Pride has resulted in worshiping a packed house where humility calls for laying down our lives for even one.

We wonder why the church isn’t having more success in the culture.

I believe a key reason is that we are attempting to attack worldly pride with religious pride.  We are actually retaining the services of the very same demons that we are attempting to battle!  A spirit of pride! God resists the proud! Is it possible that we are attempting to change culture from a position of religious pride all while God is not standing with us?

When humility reigns, the church will have the grace that God promises in 1 Peter 5.

Identity

This point is the most burning issue in my spirit right now.

I am fully given to seeing people step into their destinies, discover their true identity in Christ and finding freedom from lies and emotional scars that the enemy has given them. It’s a significant focus of my own ministry.

However, we have a growing problem.

  • Focus is on self more often that it is on God.
  • Focus is on living more than it is on dying daily.

1 Corinthians 4:10-13 (ESV) 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.

Please understand, I believe we are seated in Heavenly places with Christ Jesus. We are kings and priests. We have great authority. We have overcome. We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.

But, our identities, when rightfully understood, don’t lead us to focusing mostly on personal benefit. When we embrace the cross of Christ, which is where our identities originate, we are now focused on going low, humbling ourselves, serving with passion and identifying with the scum of the world—so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

A focus on our own benefits, our own healings, our own identities as it relates to personal gain has actually resulted in us aligning with a key spirit that drives the homosexual movement.

Just as with homosexuals, God loves them and us too deeply to affirm a false identity—no matter how desirable and convincing that identity may be! God’s wisdom is much higher than ours, and it takes humility to admit that.

This is a huge, huge point!

When we fight for a false identity that feels so overwhelmingly a part of us, and when our focus is on acceptance, affirmation and human rights, we give up the call to die to our own desires. Suddenly securing our own identity is more important than serving the masses.

The goal is not to be affirmed, accepted, liked or honored. We aren’t to look for equality. We don’t compare ourselves with others. We can’t make demands when life is unfair. The church is to die so that others may life. Our identity is to be fully and entirely in Christ.

An improper attention given to the pursuit of identity (acceptance, affirmation, etc.) causes us to forsake the call to focus on our mission for the sake of devotion to narcissism. This is where the temptation to disobey God and submit to the demands of man can happen.

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:16

Lust

Lust is oozing through the church today. Yes, it’s true that sexual lust is rampant as pornography has been viewed by as many as 50% of Christian men recently.

However, lust is not limited to the sexual variety.

Simply ask the question, “What causes you to get excited, to come alive?”

Many honest Christians would admit that everything from money to fame to popularity to sex could be the answers.

James 1:14-15 (ESV) 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Lust results in death. It really is that simple. The life is sucked right out of people. Suicide is on the rise. Eternal death is another threat as well.

This is a tragic reality in the church today—we’ve lost our first love! False intimacy in the form of lust has take the place of a deep, satisfying, truly intimate and never ending encounter with Jesus! He yearns for us while his beautiful bride is yearning for other lovers!

The church has lost its desire for intimacy with Jesus. Many Christians don’t even know what it is to be overwhelmed by his deep, burning love. Jesus is more of a principle or a foreign character in a book than he is a real, tangible, literal person you can feel.

This lack of revelation and encounter in a very intimate, life giving way with Jesus has resulted in one more comparison with the homosexual movement:

The bride is becoming intimate with the bride.

What does that mean?

We have become more interested in reproducing after our own kind than in receiving a fresh impartation directly from God himself. How does this play out? Several ways:

  • We become enthralled with a certain stream in the body (Word of Faith, house of prayer, etc.) and want to have a relationship with that stream hoping that it produces life.
  • We turn to other people in the church instead of to God through prayer and study of the Word in the hopes that the union can result in the outcome we are looking for.
  • We are move connected socially to people than we are spiritually to God.
  • We believe our church growth comes through people, so we comprise the mission, cancel prayer, water down the message and get intimate with the body!

An intimate union with God will result in a fresh stream birthing through your ministry!

A deep encounter with Jesus will bring the results that a million human counselors never could!

“You can have all of your doctrines right—yet still not have the presence of God.”Leonard Ravenhill

The Solution

Intimacy. Repentance. Falling in love with Jesus. Humility.

“A sinning man stops praying, a praying man stops sinning — Leonard Ravenhill

Yes, fervent, zealous prayer must return to our churches again!

2 Chronicles 7:14-16 (NKJV) 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.

We cannot anymore develop systems that enhance our own identities, stroke our pride or fuel our lust for power, recognition or anything else.

It’s time again to declare the cross, holiness, humility and passion from our pulpits and on our faces!

The core call is for a movement of humility and holiness.

It’s a call to become broken and undone, desperate and deeply intimate with Jesus.

It’s a call to a fasted lifestyle, to full surrender and complete saturation in the advance of the Kingdom.

It’s a call to the deeply humble, yet powerfully bold life of John the Baptist.

Are we ready to let the Lover of our souls invade the deepest parts of our inner man? He is wooing his glorious bride back to him…will we respond?

Song of Songs 1:4 (ESV) 4 Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.

Correction: I made a mistake in the last article…PLUS let’s discuss father confusion…

Father confusion: We cannot presume what it is to be a good father based on our human understanding.

First: TONIGHT! I’ll be teaching on the orphan spirit and a fatherless generation! 7pm at Revival Church!

Revival Church is located at 26091 Sherwood, Warren, MI 48091.


Correction: I was bouncing between two thoughts when I wrote a certain point in the last article, and used the wrong passage to make my point, which made my point incorrect. Thanks to my friend Mark for pointing it out!

The two passages I was bouncing between were:

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. Acts 7:54-58

And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.' Acts 22:20

In my original post I mentioned that Jesus was standing and giving his approval, but I based it on Acts 22:20, which was the wrong verse. That was actually Saul. Big difference!

But, in the appropriate passage, Acts 7:54-58, we do see Jesus standing in honor of Stephen’s martyrdom. That was the point I meant to make!

Here’s the corrected version:

Rejection of call to martyrdom—Martyrdom is the pinnacle of negative experiences for the Christian. Of course, the truth is that it’s not negative at all. It’s glorious!

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. Acts 7:54-58

How powerful is it that Jesus stood as Stephen died! Not only that, but did you notice what young man was mentioned in the story? A young man who would end up turning the world upside down. Saul. Paul. We need Stephen’s to arise and lay down their lives in such a way that a new company of Saul’s are awakened into their destinies.

FATHER CONFUSION

imageAnother point in the article has caused some trouble!

Here it is:

Misinterpretations of negative situations—News flash: it’s not always the devil. How often to people rebuke demons when it’s actually God that caused the situation? If we think that God only functions positively than what are we to do with the fact that God actually demonized Paul and refused his deliverance? What about God striking people with sickness? 

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

God actually endorsed an assault of Satan on Paul to keep him humble! Paul embraced a “negative” God, because he was True. He was content with weaknesses, hardships, calamities. He didn’t rebuke them, and that didn’t cause him to attribute them to Satan. Of course, Satan wouldn’t want to keep Paul from becoming conceited, so this wasn’t his plan. Just as with Job, God will allow attack of the enemy for our own benefit. In fact, it was Satan who was allowed by God to kill Jesus. He literally had thorns in his flesh as he hung on the cross, and they were not taken away.

There is such a wild misunderstanding of the nature and character of God as Father today.

The resistance to this point is coming from those who subscribe to the idea that God would never do anything negative. Of course, that is the reason I wrote the article—to address this fallacy.

Someone on Facebook said:

God never allows evil.

That just can’t be supported in scripture.

If we truly know that our Father loves us, we won't balk at the trouble he initiates for us. We will trust him.

The text is very simple… we can look at it…

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me,”
God was the primary player in this… he gave the messenger of Satan… and he had a reason: “…to keep me from becoming conceited.”

Of course, Satan wouldn't want to keep Paul from becoming conceited, so this wasn't his plan. Just as with Job, God will allow attack of the enemy for our own benefit. In fact, it was Satan who was allowed by God to kill Jesus. He literally had thorns in his flesh as he hung on the cross, and they were not taken away.

So, God used Satan to keep Paul in line. That is the very simple take away here.

Life Application Commentary:
We don't know what Paul's thorn in the flesh was because he doesn't tell us. Some have suggested that it was malaria, epilepsy, or a disease of the eyes (see Galatians 4:13-15). Whatever the case, it was a chronic and debilitating problem, which at times kept him from working. This thorn was a hindrance to his ministry, and he prayed for its removal; but God refused. Paul was a very self-sufficient person, so this thorn must have been difficult for him. Three times Paul prayed for healing and did not receive it. He received, however, things far greater because he received greater grace from God, a stronger character, humility, and an ability to empathize with others. In addition, it benefited those around him as they saw God at work in his life. God, according to his sovereign plan, doesn't heal some believers of their physical ailments. We don't know why some are spared and others aren't. God chooses according to his divine purposes. Our task is to pray, to believe, and to trust. Paul is living proof that holy living and courageous faith do not ensure instant physical healing. When we pray for healing, we must trust our bodies to God's care. We must recognize that nothing separates us from his love (Romans 8:35-39) and that our spiritual condition is always more important than our physical condition.

This is such an important truth to discuss. So many attribute difficulties to Satan when it's actually God at times. So, they end up rebuking God… they resist him. We see with Paul that he didn't resist. He accepted his very troubling situation as it was given to him by God.

My friend James replied to an opposing view on Facebook by saying:

God sent evil spirits to do His bidding, to the point of even personally sending lying spirits to deceive the Jewish prophets SO THAT they would prophesy falsely. I am amazed at the ignorance that abounds on the realities of spiritual warfare.

It’s pure love that will result in a perfect Father functioning in ways that confound us as mere humans. It doesn’t make sense to us at times, but God will work contrary to common sense! God will actually blind eyes of people so they can't be saved! God is SO DIFFERENT than we realize.

James also said:

I believe it was the reformer, Martin Luther, who said that the devil is God's devil. He is on a tether but it is a rather long one. The only place of protection and safety is in the true knowledge of God as revealed through Jesus Christ (Aslan is no tame lion!).

We can't presume how a father would act based on our human understanding. That's the point. We may want a father to act a certain way… but, we have to remember, God is not human. He doesn't play by our rules. His method of fathering is way different than ours… and his method will create shock, awe, fear, intimacy and a myriad of other emotions in us.

God the Father did many, many things that an earthy father would never do.

We can’t attempt to define what a good father is by what a human father would do.

We can't make God into our image, we were made in his. What we might call abuse, God might call love. Was it abuse to allow a fish to swallow Jonah? Was it abuse to kill all of mankind except for a few on the ark? Was it abuse to allow John to be boiled in oil? Was it abuse for God not to stop the terror attacks on 9/11? Is it abuse when he doesn’t answer our most urgent prayers? No. God is love—always.

Let me ask you this: If you were staring into the fires of Hell, would you, as a loving father, throw anybody in there? God will. And his love surpasses anything we've ever known.

A bold strategy against fatherlessness | Stepping into your destiny with no excuses

No more excuses: Don’t let an orphan spirit keep you from fulfilling your destiny!

imageIt’s widely acknowledged today that there’s a serious problem with fatherlessness and orphan spirits in the church and in the world.

I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 1 Corinthians 4:14-16

It’s true that spiritual fathers are needed, and it’s also true that sons and daughters must discover their true identities—and those identities are not dependent on whether fathers appear in their lives or not. It’s much deeper than that.

The sins of the fathers are significant, and they impact the succeeding generations dramatically. The call is for every one of us as sons or daughters to break off generational destruction and align ourselves with Father God. If we don’t, the devastation will continue. Children of God arise!

…Why is the land ruined and laid waste like a wilderness, so that no one passes through? And the LORD says: “Because they have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice or walked in accord with it, but have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their fathers taught them. Jeremiah 9:12-14

Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will feed this people with bitter food, and give them poisonous water to drink. I will scatter them among the nations whom neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send the sword after them, until I have consumed them.” Jeremiah 9:15-16

This generational problem resulted in judgment then—and we are at risk of judgment again today. Notice that judgment was not due to the father’s sins, but rather to the children’s refusal to break the cycle. The children have the power to cover the sins of their fathers and experience blessing. But, that’s not what happened.

The same story unfolded with Noah:

Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. Genesis 9:20-26

The children had the power to either cover or enjoy the sin of their father. Blessing followed Shem who interceded for his father. A curse followed Canaan who exposed his father.

Children are called to stand in the gap, intercede and cut off the pattern of sin set by their fathers. As we align with our true Father, Jehovah, great blessing will come.

In fact, a major end-time prophecy hinges on the resolution of this problem:

 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Malachi 4:5-6

Interestingly God reveals that this issue must be fixed, or as in Jeremiah, destruction will come.

The Malachi prophesy resurfaces in the story of John the Baptist:

And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke 1:16-17

Did you notice the end-time spirit of Elijah, as manifested through John the Baptist, had, and still has, a two-fold mission:

  1. Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.
  2. Turn the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just.

This isn’t mostly about dads and kids rediscovering their lost friendships. It has to do with aligning ourselves, as disobedient children, with the spirit of Wisdom, with God himself.

What’s an orphan to do?

I absolutely validate the desire that is within us as Christians to have earthly, spiritual fathers—whether they are biological or not.

I remember many years ago when I was extremely young in the Lord that a strong desire for a mentor overcame me. I asked a youth pastor if he would be that to me, and he was visibly taken aback. He said he had never been asked that before.

Well, he never did follow through on that, and I want to share with you why that was the best thing for me. God’s best for me was to not have an earthly spiritual father at that point in my life.

I grew up in a phenomenal family with an amazing mom and an incredibly spiritually strong father. However, at the time of this story, I had moved from Missouri to Ohio and was very much alone on a new adventure as a young man. I had recently encountered God in dramatic fashion and I craved a deeper relationship with him. I also yearned for spiritual growth.

I didn’t understand it then, but I believe God wanted me to understand how he would be using weak, inexperienced children, many of whom are spiritual orphans without a godly human mentor, to change the world.

What I did know what this: I was burning so hot inside, and my vision was so consuming, that there was no way I was going to wait for a spiritual father to show up in my life. In fact, I knew early on that few fathers would be able to keep pace with me.

Now, of course, there have been many people in my life that have impacted me, and there are others that I highly value and I have submitted myself to. But, to date, I’ve never had a spiritual father other than my natural one.

A lonely venture

From that moment I started blazing trails and advancing very quickly. This child wasn’t waiting for a father because he had already discovered one—Abba!

I ultimately ended up in Manitou Springs, Colorado to plant my first church.

I’ll never forget a life-changing lunch I had with an older, wiser man whom I had just met shortly after moving to Colorado.

He looked the part too. He had a beard and eyes burning with wisdom. A long wooden staff would have completed the picture! He asked me, “John, what is the one thing you want on a personal level as you begin your new church?”

I immediately said, “Well, I’m alone in this new venture. I am craving someone who has the same vision as me, who will run at the same pace with me as we get the church off the ground, and as we go after full blown city transformation.”

His answer is one I’ll never forget: “It will never happen.”

What? Was he serious? He absolutely was.

He said, “God gave you the vision, and he has given it to no one else. You can’t wait for others to lead the charge. That is your job. Others will come along side you and support the vision, but nobody else in the world has that unique, special gift that God himself has given you.”

The wisdom of this fatherly man ensured I wouldn’t be disobedient in my calling by waiting around instead of advancing. There was work to do. You have work to do too. This next section will help you fulfill your calling without waiting around for outside help.

The Gideon Strategy

Are you ready for the strategy to boldly break off an orphan spirit? Great. As I’ve said before, it’s not to wait for spiritual fathers to arrive in your life. Let’s look at Gideon.

The Israelites were under attack and went into hiding. There was no true, bold leader in the camp and the result was insecurity, fear and delay in fulfilling their destiny.

The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years. And the hand of Midian overpowered Israel, and because of Midian the people of Israel made for themselves the dens that are in the mountains and the caves and the strongholds. Judges 6:1-2

God was the one who gave them over to the enemy, and God would be the one who would give them a strategy to break off their orphan spirit that resulted in a confused identity.

You see, fathers are supposed to nurture and build up, but since Israel forsook their Father, they were left with the opposite—oppression and brokenness.

For whenever the Israelites planted crops, the Midianites and the Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. They would encamp against them and devour the produce of the land, as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel and no sheep or ox or donkey. For they would come up with their livestock and their tents; they would come like locusts in number—both they and their camels could not be counted—so that they laid waste the land as they came in. And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the LORD. Judges 6:3-6

They were orphans who were aimless and lost, but eventually they cried out—to their Father.

Mighty Man of Valor

Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” Judges 6:11-12

Keep in mind, God will be using children who break off an orphan spirit to accomplish his purposes—children who are united with their Father. This was true in the story of Gideon, and it’s true today in the end-times. An emerging army of supposed orphans are rising up. They won’t take no for an answer as they advance in their missions with ferocity and boldness as their Heavenly Father leads the way.

With Gideon, God was restoring this beautiful relationship by referring to him according to his true identity. His Father saw him as a mighty man of valor! He didn’t see him the way Gideon saw his self. This revelation comes through a dynamic, growing relationship not with people but with God himself!

Confusion

What happened next was a critical lesson to be learned. Gideon was confused about the Father/son relationship and God was about to school him.

And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” Judges 6:13

Gideon incorrectly presumed that the role of a father is to fully alleviate burdens, answer every question and to resolve issues. This isn’t the case. If you are craving a spiritual father, that is good. However, be warned. God the Father will stretch you to your breaking point so you can discover the power and responsibility you have as a child! Fathers point the way and children go.

Check out how God responded to Gideon’s confusion and frustration:

And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” Judges 6:14

Did I not send YOU? God again addressed him according to his true identity, as one who is mighty, and let him know in no uncertain terms—you don’t send me, I send you!

As a spiritual child (quit referring to yourself as an orphan) you have a Father and you are a part of this end-time mission! Go in your might!

Gideon continued in his confusion with another excuse:

And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” Judges 6:15-16

Gideon felt like the least and the weakest. In fact, he said something quite interesting: I am the least in my father’s house. He had an orphan spirit. He acknowledged rejection and a disappointing relationship with his earthly dad.

Growing Close

What happened next was so important for Gideon. He was learning how to draw from his spiritual Father.

And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return.” Judges 6:17-18

Please don’t depart…I will stay till you return.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you… James 4:8

That’s it! The child noticed the favor of his Father and started into an interactive relationship with him. He had a bad earthly dad. His entire nation had no leader. He was confused. He had an identity crisis. But, something was compelling him. He found One who believed in him, and One who was calling him higher. He found his Dad.

Two Altars

As the drama continues, Gideon’s eyes are opened and he is undone before his Father. He is an orphan no more!

Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD and called it, The LORD Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. Judges 6:24

He immediately built an altar to God, but there was another altar to deal with—his earthly father’s.

That night the LORD said to him, “Take your father’s bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the LORD your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.” Judges 6:25-26

Children of the end-times will not only discover their true identities as revealed by their true Father and build an altar of worship to him—a spirit of boldness will arise in the children to tear down altars established by the previous generations—altars to Baal that will result in continued bondage and destruction. End-time children won’t wait for their fathers to make things right—they will go to battle and initiate deliverance no matter the cost!

Identity!

When children tear down altars of old, there will be threats of death! This is the moment of destiny we are looking for! Gideon went from weak and the least to one with an identity of might that was given to him by his Father. His call wasn’t to wait for his earthly father to come around, it was to destroy the generational curse that was devastating him, his dad and the entire nation!

When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.” Therefore on that day Gideon was called Jerubbaal, that is to say, “Let Baal contend against him,” because he broke down his altar. Judges 6:28-32

It was then that Gideon’s dad finally rose up! Gideon’s leadership was clear and God’s leadership was being reestablished in the nation as his dad agreed with the destruction of Baal’s altar. The hearts of father and son were turned!

Gideon was then called Jerubbaal which literally means, “let Baal contend.” Now that’s an identity!

Is there an army of former orphans who refuse to wait for earthly fathers to show up? Is there an army that will discover their true spiritual Father? Is there an army of spiritual children who just might have their names changed as they contend against the spirit of the age? Come on! It’s time!

Children, it’s time to awaken! No more hiding! No more confusion! Get alone with your Father and respond to his call into destiny!

Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. Judges 7:20-21

The miracle? Gideon fulfilled both roles: He discovered his identity as a child of God and he emerged into a spiritual of father who lead companies into destiny. This is your story!

Today’s children are marked to be leaders and fathers who will take cities and rout the enemy.

Yes, you are one of them.

Conclusion

As I said above, I’ve never had a spiritual father. However, there is a very important takeaway for me.

While I am ever learning and endeavor to glean much from the generals of the faith, I have come to understand that nobody I’ve met has been where I am called to go. The same was true for Gideon.

Nobody can lead me into my personal land of Promise except God, my Father.

Others can support the vision and encourage me in the journey, but most of my learning has been one-on-one with my Father—and it has been priceless. I wouldn’t change a thing.

I want to strongly encourage you to read my book, “Piece of Cake.”

It is a practical guide for starting ministries, missions, businesses and other ventures. It will help set you free from the waiting game. You as a child of God, as a mighty person of valor, absolutely can advance with confidence and strength without delay!

You can find the book here: www.johnburton.net/resources

Prophecy games: A culture of eagerly misled people yields few winners

The fear of deception is giving way to a demand for it—often at the cost of people’s souls.

We are living in the days of deception on demand—a prophetic culture that serves encouragement at the expense of truth.

“Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil, declares the LORD. Therefore their way shall be to them like slippery paths in the darkness, into which they shall be driven and fall, for I will bring disaster upon them in the year of their punishment, declares the LORD. Jeremiah 23:11-12

imageIt’s important that you know as I begin this article that I hold a high value for prophecy. I’ve written and taught on it for years, and I strongly encourage everybody to live a bold, active prophetic life.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21

It would be equally as easy, and important, to write about movements that are defying scripture by quenching the Spirit and despising prophecies. Today, more than ever, the church must live and walk in the spirit as it hears God’s Rhema voice. God is absolutely talking and we must absolutely hear him—and relay key end-time prophetic data to the church and the world.

“For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7

God has established the office of Prophet, and we need to embrace that office. Additionally, we are all called to live prophetic lives, and we should embrace that gift.

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 1 Corinthians 14:1

With that established, we have to ensure the prophetic revelation is accurate, and that we don’t modify it at all—even if the message will be violently rejected. The way we handle prophecy will result in people either knowing God in the clarity of truth, or in people living a life of deception that may very well lead to an eternity in Hell.

The scripture instructs us not to despise prophecies, BUT it also instructs us to test it and to only hold to what is good. This is what we must do now in the prophetic movement—bad prophecy is doing great damage.

Salvation Deception

Wrong information will lead to a tainted analysis.

While many of today’s prophetic voices trend toward affirming people in their current condition via false words, these people are falling into deception that puts their very souls at risk.

How often have you heard someone affirm somebody’s salvation in order to bring them comfort? This is an example of a violation of prophetic protocol. We should never assure someone of their salvation, especially since we don’t know the depths of their hearts and we don’t know what type of decisions they will make in the years to come. False information like this is dangerous. Just as the disciples did, we need to all wrestle with our own salvation.

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:23-26

Theologies and prophetic insights today rarely address the issue of salvation in any way other than affirming it—even for those who are only marginally devoted to Jesus. Somehow, there appears to be a certain valiance associated with the idea of easy salvation. What it communicates is that Jesus is willing and able to save every person regardless of their personal commitment and relationship with him. That feels heroic, and it is great news for those who are not fervent in their relationship with Jesus. Unfortunately, that great news is not the Good News.

Not everybody who hears the Good News receives it. In fact, the Good News doesn’t usually feel like good news at all. Most reject it.

And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 18:18

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Luke 18:22-23

I am convinced that it is exceedingly rare for people to be legitimately saved. I’ve said before that I often wonder if even 10% of people in vibrant, Spirit-filled churches will end up in Heaven. Of course, there is no way to scientifically arrive at a literal percentage, but the inspection and analysis is appropriate. This is a prophetic process that is much different than the sugary prophetic imitations that are most common today.

When I have this discussion about uncommon salvation with fellow Christians, the reaction is most usually a mixture of shock, anger and fierce resistance. How dare somebody question their salvation!

It’s love that propels me to shine the light on the “angel of light” belief systems that are temporally satisfying yet eternally damning. Feel good messages are delivered which are actually not good at all—they are doctrines of demons.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1

In fact, as I’ve said before, I only give myself an 80% chance of “making Heaven.” I am not exempt from deception. I am not immune to temptation. I have a free will and I can walk away at some point in the years ahead. The great falling away is coming, and every one of us will be courted by it. If I died today, I’m confident I’d be with Jesus, but tomorrow is another day.

Salvation is not a status, it’s a dynamic lifestyle that isn’t gauged by an on and off switch. It’s measured by a deep, growing, intimate love relationship with Jesus that manifests radical obedience and surrender.

Jesus warned about false prophets that will put people’s salvation at risk. This is very real, and we are in those days right now.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-14

Lying Prophets

Lying prophets would never think of alerting an at risk person of their eternal future. Instead, they serve what is demanded—a promise of a future and a hope.

Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” Jeremiah 23:16-17

As people are flooding into Hell while thinking they are on the road to Heaven, it’s horrific to think that we wouldn’t warn them!

Today’s lying voices who are building their own reputations are about to experience the reformation of the Lord in their lives. This reformation is coming to the entire prophetic culture in today’s church.

…spirits like Baal and Jezebel are working through those who accepted the call to ministry but have given in to the financial pressure of building their own kingdoms rather than serving the kingdom of God. ~Jennifer LeClaire

When supposed prophetic voices share nothing but happy, encouraging words, they lose credibility. There is absolutely no way, in today’s volatile world, that everything is OK and getting better. Where are the warnings? Where are the rebukes?

True prophets will warn as often as they encourage. They will rebuke just as they build up.

One of the most often misused verses in scripture is Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

This is one verse that doesn’t stand on its own very well. Context is necessary.

This is a perfect example of today’s prophetic culture—encouraging people without supplying the context and the often challenging instructions that are attached. Lets look at the context.

“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. Jeremiah 29:10-14

Instead of receiving a nice, comfy personal prophecy that all will be well, that there’s a great future ahead, the truth is that there’s much more to this prophetic process!

The future comes after seventy years! The hope arrives when God’s plans are reactivated after the exile is over. It’s then that they can pray and be heard. It’s then that they will find God, but only if they seek him with all their heart! Not only is the prophecy about the far off future, it’s also conditional.

The process is spelled out precisely:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD. Jeremiah 29:4-9

The prophecy they wanted to hear was that they would be freed immediately. God warned them not to listen to lies, false prophecies that would be exactly what they wanted to hear, and even words that seemed to validate their view of the goodness of God. Certainly, a good God would never approve of being held captive by their enemies, right? Wrong.

Remember, God assigned a demon to Paul. He cast Jonah into a fish. He threw Joseph into a pit. God’s ways most certainly aren’t our ways, and he most definitely is not compelled to fit within our definition of what is good and right.

For those in exile, the true word was inconvenient, disappointing, challenging and irritating. It even put the hearers at risk of losing hope and having an emotional meltdown!

The truth remains—they were to build houses, plant gardens, get married, have kids and even wait for them to get married and have kids. What a prophetic word! Their was no hope until they were grandparents!

Here’s a huge point—God was certainly interested the individual’s plight, but, as always, he was more interested in the bigger picture. This is such a critical issue in today’s narcissistic Christian culture! Yes, God loves us as individuals, but he is more interested in the future of his entire people. He will allow one to go through great trouble for the sake of the freedom of many. Of course, Jesus is the perfect model of this truth.

Martyrdom is another model of this truth. God will allow one to be tortured and murdered for the sake of the advance of the Kingdom. What if today’s prophetic messengers started revealing people’s call to die at the hands of a terrorist for the sake of the Gospel? What if they started affirming our call to die before we live? True prophecy will be troubling as often as it is affirming.

What this means is that our process is not only about us, but for many others.

So, instead of demanding the flaky, invented prophetic words that promise a quick improvement to our personal lives, we need to hear the difficult messages that deal with our sin, our struggle, our disobedience and what should be done to correct. We need the words that call us higher.

There are generally three types of messages:

  1. What God has done for us and the benefits that result
  2. What God is about to do to benefit us
  3. What our responsibility is

The first two are all too common, and when delivered appropriately, these messages are great.

The last one is what we must see an increase of. In fact, we need to hear what we are doing wrong! We have to be OK with that so we can be calibrated to God’s plan for our lives. This is great, great news indeed!

Lets move beyond generic, incomplete words that reveal that God has a future for us. Instead, we need to know what he expects from us, how we have failed, what we can build on, how we can grow and what the big picture is.

Prophecy should propel us to action, not satisfaction.

Eat the Scroll

The prophetic words of God will be weighty, and won’t usually be received very well.

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them. For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel— not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you. But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.” Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.” Ezekiel 3:1-11

Today’s false or flaky prophetic movement is not birthed in the place of trembling intercession. It’s open to hear the most satisfying words that will result in the church elevating it, affirming it and celebrating it.

That’s why we need true prophetic messengers who will eat the scroll, carry the weight of the revelations of God and fearlessly confront the stubborn rebellion in the church. When we eat the scroll, we are undone, fearful and trembling.

Watch how Ezekiel, a true prophet, responds:

Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me the voice of a great earthquake: “Blessed be the glory of the LORD from its place!” It was the sound of the wings of the living creatures as they touched one another, and the sound of the wheels beside them, and the sound of a great earthquake. The Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the hand of the LORD being strong upon me. And I came to the exiles at Tel-abib, who were dwelling by the Chebar canal, and I sat where they were dwelling. And I sat there overwhelmed among them seven days. Ezekiel 3:12-15

He was lifted up by the Spirit and experienced bitterness and heat in his spirit. His investment resulted in him being overwhelmed for a week. We need prophets who are overwhelmed.

Prophecy on Demand/Paying for Prophecy

I wrestle with the issue of prophecy on demand. On one hand, I do believe that God is always talking and that we can receive messages about others on a regular basis. On the other hand, all too often the prophetic words are nothing more than encouraging words that may or may not be accurate. There’s great immaturity and a lack of the fear of the Lord all too often.

True, biblical encouraging words are great, but I believe we need to take the prophetic label off of that ministry if it’s not truly prophetic.

That being said, there’s something that I am absolutely alarmed about—a growing trend of payment for prophecy. This must stop.

I see this in the prayer movement and there are many who affirm ministries that offer prayer and prophetic words in exchange for financial support. Boy, this is dangerous.

Not only is the financial exchange iffy, it puts people on the spot. If a prophecy is ordered, the supposed prophet must come up with a prophecy. What if God isn’t talking? What if the word is negative? What if the prophetic person is having a bad week? What if they can’t hear easily? We could go on and on with the issues.

The spiritualized fortune telling has to stop. I’m not saying it’s all entirely inappropriate, but the precedent it’s setting is dangerous at the least. The fear of the Lord must hit the prophetic movement, and by all means, ministries that charge for prophetic ministry must be shut down.

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. Acts 8:18-22

Prophecy for payment is functioning today in the spirit of Balaam—administered by for prophet false prophets.

Balak paid Balaam to deliver a specific word of the Lord. Balaam was not invested in the process, but God did in fact put a word in his mouth, as a test. Balaam delivered this word, but Balak was furious—it wasn’t the word he paid for!

Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD. Numbers 31:16

Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. Jude 1:11

Prophecy for payment feels right—Christian people are delivering words that even God may have initiated, just as he did with Balaam, but the foundation is that of divination.

The money changers in the temple are about to be overturned.

If someone wanted me to be their resident prophetic counsel, I’d direct them to a much more reliable source—the Bible.

The Bible

All of this brings me to the issue that’s burning hottest in my spirit. The purest prophetic messages are those that are read directly from scripture.

The Bible must return to front and center in the prophetic culture.

The greatest anointing won’t come when we are foretelling or reading somebody’s mail. It will come when a prophetic spirit comes upon us as we declare the ancient truths of scripture.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Psalm 19:7-11

Wow! It seems everything people are looking for in personal prophecy can already be found in the Word of God. Rejoicing, enlightening, reward.

The issue is this—we must invest our lives into the Word of God. It takes effort. Personal prophecy is easy. We ask and receive.

Have you ever wondered why God is intentionally silent when we pray? Is it possible he doesn’t want us to have the information that a supposed prophet would be more than happy to divulge? Is it possible God wants us to search scripture for ourselves?

Personal prophecy has a place, but a reformation must come. It’s time we stop being lazy and resistant to the tough love of God as he either withholds information for a season or requires our radical participation in the process.

The prophecy games must come to an end. It isn’t harmless encouragement if it’s contrary to truth. The players in this game are being setup for eternal loss, and God is about to hold all of us accountable.

Prophetic Messengers Notes

Here are the notes for TONIGHT’S teaching on Prophetic Messengers

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If you stumble across this after the fact, go to http://media.johnburton.net and search for the first teaching in the series Prophetic Messengers!

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Prophetic Messengers

I.                    The voices must be heard! The power of life and death is in the tongue!

a.       Now, more than ever, the remnant must get a clue! Rise up! Open your mouths!

                                                               i.      This means you! You are a prophetic messenger! You declare truth!

                                                             ii.      Wake up with the call to impact burning in you!

                                                            iii.      The church is silent. Christians are posting sweet nothings on Facebook when we must be provoking and awakening a numb church that has no sense of spiritual violence and is little threat to the enemy.

                                                           iv.      Most don’t post truth for two reasons:

1.       They don’t want to offend friends and family.

2.       They don’t hear from the Lord.

                                                             v.      Joe Sazyc: Prophets are always victims of those who didn't like their message.

                                                           vi.      Generally, prophetic churches don't get very big. The prophetic ain't popular. People like prophets from a distance. That doesn't mean they don't have impact. ~Joe Sazyc

1.       The impact you have may not draw the people you want to you. It will probably repel people you care about from you. But you WILL have impact!

2.       Some friends and family will probably cut off relationship with you!

                                                          vii.      Luke 14:25-28 (ESV) 25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?

1.       ESV Study Bible : “Hating” is a Semitic expression for loving less.

2.       Scofield: All terms which define the emotions or affections are comparative. Natural affection is to be, as compared with the believer's devotedness to Christ, as if it were hate.

3.       We see the same expression when God said, “Jacob I have loved but Essau I have hated.”

a.       We must proclaim truth knowing that it will absolutely enrage people you love! It is for their freedom!

4.       Follow people like Isaiah Saldivar. His entire Twitter feed is one provoking prophetic decree after another! He’s on a mission! He’s 22!

5.       Some of his posts:

a.       “If you don't think being holy is important than you don't think seeing God is important.”

b.      “No amount of false teaching will be able to widen the narrow road.”

c.       “Not being on time is saying your time is more important than someone else's.”

d.      “God cannot trust you with a stage if you struggle to show up to church on time.”

e.      “Don't envy those who God promotes and expect a promotion.”

f.        “We have lost the spirit of conviction due to fear of condemning people.”

g.       “I know countless people who preach on revival and awakening. I know few who are willing to pay the price.”

h.      “If your revelation of joy is laughter in church you have sold yourself short.”

i.         “We should be more sensitive to how the Holy Spirit feels than how people feel.”

j.        “If we were really sensitive to seekers our services would be longer not shorter.

k.       “Jesus is coming back for a church not a relevant movement.”

l.         “Lukewarm people lack spiritual discernment so holiness will always look like legalism.”

m.    “It would be interesting to see people express their opinions in real life and not just behind a keyboard.”

                                                        viii.      Messengers arise! Get the word of the Lord hour after hour! Burn! And shout those messages from the rooftops!

1.       Every Christian on the planet should have a Twitter and Facebook and Youtube account…and should take media over with never-ending proclamations of truth!

                                                           ix.      With the situation in Syria upon us, we have no option but to open our mouths!

1.       Saw a vision of a sudden Revolutionary War…a shaking that provoked the people who were working in their fields to pick up their guns and fight.

2.       Are you ready?

3.       You have the authority to DEMAND COMPLIANCE and to decree order!

II.                  Break Down and Build Up

a.       Jeremiah 1:4-10 (ESV) 4 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” 9 Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

                                                               i.      Number One: The word of the Lord came to me.

1.       This must happen now for the remnant!

2.       The prophetic atmosphere must skyrocket!

3.       Sheep must hear God’s voice!

4.       The prayer movement is key!

                                                             ii.      Number Two: We are known by God and appointed by God.

1.       We are assigned!

2.       Do you participate in church or ministry due to assignment or opportunity?

3.       Your answer will determine your readiness.

                                                            iii.      Number Three: We have no excuse!

1.       Don’t say I’m only a youth, I’m only a housewife, I’m not educated, I can’t speak!

                                                           iv.      Number Four: We will speak what the Lord commands us to

                                                             v.      Number Five: Have no fear

                                                           vi.      Number Six: God has touched our mouths and appointed us over nations!

III.                Jeremiah Continued

a.       Jeremiah 1:11-19 (ESV) 11 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 12 Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

                                                               i.      Dake: A staff for striking, made from an almond tree. Here it symbolizes a watchman, a vigilant officer looking for the invasion of Judah by Babylon.

                                                             ii.      God is setting up watchmen!

                                                            iii.      We can’t be an echo, we must be a voice. What is God saying?

                                                           iv.      His Words are being delivered…are you receiving them?

1.       He’s watching over his word, not ours! We can’t pray amiss!

                                                             v.      ESV Study Bible : Jeremiah can expect that when he speaks God’s words, the words will come true.

                                                           vi.      Do you have that confidence?

b.      13 The word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” 14 Then the LORD said to me, “Out of the north disaster shall be let loose upon all the inhabitants of the land. 15  

                                                               i.      Life Application Study Bible: The pot of boiling water tipping from the north and spilling over Judah pictured Babylon delivering God's scalding judgment against Jeremiah's people.

                                                             ii.      Boiling pot: An Oriental symbol of a raging war.

                                                            iii.      How can America oppose the chemical massacre of 426 Syrian children & support the chemical massacre of 4000 American children a day?

c.       For behold, I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, declares the LORD, and they shall come, and every one shall set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around and against all the cities of Judah.

                                                               i.      God so loved his people that their rebellion put his eternity with them at risk.

                                                             ii.      If God’s methods of allowing enemies of his people to attack were valid then, certainly it’s valid now.

                                                            iii.      It’s interesting that God sent enemies to the gates.

1.       Cindy Williams: The Lord said; “an unholy triad of deception is forming, watch Russia, Iran and North Korea.”

2.       Prov. 8:34 “Blessed is the man who listens to me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at my doorposts.

3.       Rick Warzywak: The Lord is supernaturally rousing intercessors and watchmen from their sleep and giving them the charge to fulfill their calling to stand alert and serve as “early warning systems” in the spirit.

4.       James Goll: We urged our state leaders to call their states to focused prayer over ports and naval bases, including Annapolis, and the eastern gate of the US.

5.       Cindy Jacobs: It is clear that we are in need of better “intelligence,” greater clarity, and the need for those who stand guard over our nation to be awake and alert. This is not a time to be asleep, confused or distracted!

6.       Cindy Jacobs: Please agree with us in prayer and continue to decree a supernatural watchman anointing over our intelligence community, border agents, customs, the coast guard, the military, and police, in particular for those who stand guard over our ports along the eastern seaboard. In addition to this, please pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and that war would be averted in the Arab world.

7.       Cindy Williams: I'm looking at the earthquake world map. I studied this area for a year, so am a little familiar with what it normally looks like and it's trends so what caught my eye today was that ALL the major plates have been shaking and are 6.0 or 6.6  (number of man).

d.      16 And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands.

                                                               i.      Dake: God always makes the reasons for His judgments clear, in time for men to avoid them if they will listen. Four reasons for judgment here:

1.       Wickedness

a.       Holiness!

2.       Forsaking God

a.       Leonard Ravenhill: We have forsaken God, we have forsaken the prayer rooms.

3.       Burning incense to other gods

a.       Burning Man: Aug 26-Sept 2

b.      50,000 people

4.       Worshiping the works of their own hands

                                                             ii.      Ephesians 5:3-17 (ESV) 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. [THIS IS HUGE! WE MUST EXPOSE DARKNESS!] 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

1.       This is huge!

e.      Jer 1:17 But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.

                                                               i.      It’s time to work!

                                                             ii.      It’s about the assignment not the opportunity!

1.       ESV: He must not be dismayed by them (his foes) as he works, or God will give him over to their terrors.

f.        18 And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.”

                                                               i.      God is purging, purifying, and he will prevail if we aren’t dismayed!

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