Posts Tagged ‘charisma’

The Very Best Sex: Discovering a New Sexual Paradigm in a Vile Culture

Focus on the Family Retreat Center

A defiled, confused version of sexual satisfaction bombards our culture. It's time for a new sexual paradigm.

So, I told my wife I was writing an article on sex. She laughed and said, “You don't know anything about sex!” After my crushed ego was healed (not really), I laughed right back and said, “I know! But, people need to hear about the amazing resource we discovered this weekend!”

So, with that in mind, if you are a married, Christian couple, read this. All of it. You'll thank me!

You can listen to a podcast on this topic here…

Then, I want to encourage you to jump at the chance to participate in a retreat at Focus on the Family that my wife Amy and I attended this past weekend.

Discovering Passion: Keys to Sexual Fulfillment in Marriage at the Focus on the Family retreat center in Branson, Missouri was phenomenal! It was eye-opening, fun and refreshing. In fact, our previous retreat several months ago was so life-changing, that we had to come back for more! You can read about that powerful experience in a Charisma News article HERE.

God is ready to breathe life into your marriage and into your sex life. Healing awaits. A life of intimacy and adventure is God's desire for you and your spouse!

SANCTIFIED LUST?

21  I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced. 2 Corinthians 12:21 (ESV)

Why are Christians tapping into the same evil seduction in the realm of sex that a vile, defiled and confused culture is? Sex between a married Christian couple should be absolutely nothing like the spirit of lust and sexual deviation that drives unbelievers, yet sadly, many Christian married men and women seek to “lust their way” to satisfaction.

27  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV)

Christians have all too often been duped by the same crafty demonic spirit that the world has. The enemy has a grand scheme and is uniquely anointed to bring all-consuming destruction to people, both in and out of the church, by promoting a twisted, demented and extremely seductive spirit of lust.

The passion surrounding sex for Christians, while sometimes bridled, seeks to satisfy the same desires that those who are outside of Christ do. This is why pornography among Christians, and even among pastors and Christian leaders, is so widespread.

3  For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4  that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5  not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (ESV)

The focus is on an intense yet momentary experience instead of a much more satisfying, intimate and holy union between two people. “Sanctified lust” is not what God has planned for Believers. There is something so radically, wonderfully and mysteriously different for God's people in the area of sex, yet so few discover it. We, as godly men and women, are privileged in ways the world is not. If we have a true revelation of marital intimacy, we will be determined to give and receive love in ways the world could never understand. It's holy. It's pure. It's passionate.

THE CHRISTIAN DILEMMA

Christian marriages are regularly marred by self-focused arguments surrounding sex. The smiling faces you see on Sunday mornings are often experiencing wounding, rejection, frustration, temptation and confusion about their sex life. Churches are historically ill-equipped at addressing this issue, and this must change.

Further, churches are equally flawed regarding ministering to teens and singles about sex. This issue has very destructive earthly consequences, and it also has horrifying eternal repercussions. To ignore what is possibly the number one issue of morality and wholeness in the church is a catastrophic move by most of today's Christian leaders.

I propose appropriate yet direct and regular conversations, in safe settings, and with great integrity, on the topic of sex. If pornography is a daily struggle for many (most?) in the church, sex must be a teaching and equipping topic continually. If marriages are tense and often falling apart over this issue of sex, if husbands and wives aren't intimate and coming together as one as God intended, the church must step up to the plate.

I believe resources like we discovered at Focus on the Family can help churches in very specific and effective ways. Discussion was direct. Sexual situations were addressed without hesitating to speak plainly. I believe Christians are yearning for this, yet they have not had an outlet or resource to help them with their extremely sensitive and vulnerable questions. Too often they turn to secular culture for insight.

A NEW PARADIGM: ONENESS

24  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:24-25 (ESV)

As my wife and I discovered at this amazing Focus on the Family retreat, which, by the way, was led by remarkable and highly qualified counselors including a Christian sex therapist, the pursuit of “oneness” is a much higher goal than a series of short lived, euphoric encounters.

The holiness, selflessness and deeper love experienced in the pursuit of oneness will make the demands and desires for a simple act of sex nearly grieving. The loss experienced when oneness isn't the intent of being together is tangible.

Of course, I can never do justice to the revelation we received during this retreat in a short article. I can simply say that my eyes were truly opened and there was language given to what previously felt like a nebulous, unintelligible truths about God's amazing gift of sex. Questions were answered, vulnerable discussions were had, tears were shed and legitimate excitement about a brand new chapter in our marriages hit us all.

6  How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! Song of Songs 7:6 (ESV)

The act of marital love, when done as Believers with the Holy Spirit indwelling us, is absolutely nothing like what we see in our sexualized culture today. The adventure, the romance, the experience brings never-ending new layers, depths, revelations, joy, fulfillment and fun!

The weekend ends with a session on “Affair Proofing your Marriage,” followed by “Leaving a Legacy of Sexual Wholeness.” God has called us to victory in this area, and that victory will be felt through your family line for generations to come!

I want to encourage you to consider attending this marriage-altering weekend retreat at Focus on the Family right here in our hometown of Branson, Missouri.

You don't have to live your life fighting about sex. Rejection and anger is not your portion. Freedom from sexual frustration and disappointment awaits. Indescribable intimacy with your spouse and a brand new, God-ordained sexual journey is worth the small price you have to pay to attend this weekend in the beautiful Ozark Mountains.

Jesse Duplantis wants a $54 million airplane. How should we respond?

Jesse Duplantis is believing for a new airplane. The way we respond will determine our financial future.

YOGA-000000237

As an introduction, I need to make it clear that I personally wasn’t raised in the Word of Faith movement. This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction from a Word of Faith member, as I am not one. That being said, I’ve known many phenomenal Believers who were deeply involved in Word of Faith, so I have first hand testimony of some pretty awesome fruit.

In fact, from one who has some thoughts on finances that may or may not be common in the Word of Faith movement, you might read a recent article that exposes the limits of giving to churches and ministries without considering other, very potent and very important, financial strategies in a recent Charisma News article: https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/70859-why-giving-large-portions-of-our-finances-to-church-might-require-disobeying-god. Giving to ministries alone will never unlock the wealth that God has for his people.

The reason I bring this up is so you understand this isn’t another article defending the faith message. I am making the focus more specific. Let’s talk about Jesse Duplantis.

In fairness, we do need to let Jesse speak for himself. After you read what he said, you have to wonder what exactly people think is so wrong with his intentions:

“I'm not asking you to pay for my plane,” the televangelist says in a new video posted to his ministry's website. “The Lord said, ‘I didn't ask you to pay for it, I asked you to believe for it.' That is what I said. So I'm believing, and I want you to believe with me.” (From CNN https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/04/us/jesse-duplantis-plane-new-message-trnd/index.html)

I’d be the first to defend him for fundraising if he were actually doing that. However, he is making it clear he isn’t asking for money. He’s asking for people to agree in faith.

The following ten points will at least give us a starting point when considering how to respond to Jesse’s bold request. Be warned, though. My stance resulted in a longtime Facebook friend blocking me this morning and declaring me a false prophet. (He should know I don’t consider myself a prophet at all, but I doubt that would have deterred him!)

ONE: The moment we embrace lack and limits for another is the moment we embrace lack and limits for ourselves.
Many years ago I was the youth pastor of one of the wealthiest churches in the nation. My wife and I were earning $24,000 a year, and the rumor was my senior pastor was earning well over $100,000. He was also given a new Cadillac every couple of years and he lived in a beautiful home. One day I was pondering whether my pastor really needed such a high income. I wasn’t complaining in the least. I was simply wondering. God heard my not-so-private thoughts and initiated a dialogue with me, though at first I didn’t realize it was him.

”So, would $40,000 a year be sufficient for your pastor?” That’s the question that dropped into my mind. My silent reply was something like, “Well, no. He’s been faithful in ministry for years. He’s surely worthy of more than that.”
”How about $50,000?” I replied, “No, that’s still too low. I appreciate all he has done and he certainly can earn more.”

$75,000?” At this point, I was keenly aware that I was in a fearful conversation with God. I didn’t even answer that final question. He didn’t wait for a response. What he said next struck me, and has impacted my finances and my ministry ever since.

”Don’t you ever again presume I should consult you when I decide how to financially resource and bless one of my children. The moment you make a judgment on another’s finances is the moment your finances will come under judgment. When you embrace lack and limits for another, you will not find success breaking through lack and limits in your own life. If you affirm lack for another, you will experience lack yourself.”

YOGA-000000238

I’ve never questioned another’s financial situation again. I bless those who are financially blessed, period.

In fact, I’ve met many people who faithfully tithe and give who are always struggling financially. In addition to what I addressed in my other article referenced above, I believe this issue is very often a cause.

Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV)
18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

TWO: It's not being used for personal pleasure. It's a tool to reach people with the Gospel.
If a pastor announced a fund-raiser for a new church van, would you protest? Of course not. It’s an important tool for ministry. Pastors regularly raise funds for important works including millions for new buildings, busses, missions and other ministries. Jesse is believing for fast transportation so he can reach more people. I find no fault in that.

In fact, what if Jesse stood in faith for a $54 million jet personally, instead of for his ministry? That way, he could use it any way he desired, including for ministry. You might consider that to be a strange point, but consider this: I use my car in the exact same way. I have a 501c3 ministry, but my car was not secured through my non-profit. I own it personally. So, I use it to go to Walmart, on vacation and to various ministry destinations.

The problem is that many are judging Jesse’s motive, which is radically irresponsible. They presume to know just what’s in his heart and, therefore, judge that his attempts to secure the airplane are immoral. They presume he’s coveting. They think he’s selfish. That judgment is out of line.

There is not one person alive, with the possible exception of those who are very close to him, who knows what his motive is. Biblically, we are mandated to judge fruit, but until we have clear proof of indiscretion, it’s foolish and irresponsible to say we know what his motives are.

THREE: Why is it any of your business?
As I sit back and watch people become unraveled about this, I have to wonder, why are you so uptight about someone you don’t even know? The truth is that this is none of your business. Stay silent. Nothing immoral has occurred. No crimes have been committed.

FOUR: If it is your business, what specifically has God told you to do in response?
While I doubt God chose to consult you about Jesse’s situation, let’s pretend he did. God doesn’t gossip. He doesn’t share information about someone else just so we can enjoy shaming them. If he reveals another’s immorality to you, I’d be shaking in my boots. The fear of the Lord should wreck you. His revelation means you have a sober responsibility to help bring restoration to the one in error. What would your first step be? For starters, implementing Matthew 18 protocol if you felt he sinned against you.

Matthew 18:15 (ESV)
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

FIVE: If you gossip about Jesse, you are in the wrong.
God doesn’t gossip. Neither should we. When we speak negatively about someone without them there to defend themselves, we sin. Gossip and slander are serious violations that can bring swift judgment to us. Today with social media being such a powerful medium, supposed Christians are spending their waking hours spouting out their gossip and slander about people of all types without any measure of grace of love. There’s a way to honestly discuss issues with a heart of love and honor without bringing shame to the one being talked about.

Romans 1:28-30 (ESV)
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,
30 slanderers…

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

James 1:26 (ESV)
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

SIX: Why are you threatened by his faith?
Jesse is inviting people to join him in mountain moving faith. We need more people to believe for absolutely shocking, magnificent, world-shaking things! Celebrate when men and women of God are not only dreaming big but actually putting action to their faith. Visionaries have always threatened those with no vision for their lives.

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

SEVEN: Those who have will be given more. It's a biblical principle.
So many miss this powerful biblical truth. The Kingdom isn’t governed by socialism. Financial equality doesn’t exist. Yes, we are to give to those in need and we are to take care of the poor. However, the truth remains, those who handle their finances rightly will always have more money than those who don’t. If this wasn’t the case, there would be no poor among us, but Jesus made it clear that the poor would always be with us.

I personally want to support and stay close to those who continually grow their financial portfolios. I’m not talking about manipulators or swindlers. I’m talking about true people of God who are so faithful with their finances that they can’t help but to prosper.

Matthew 25:28-29 (ESV)
28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.
29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

EIGHT: Don't let pride convince you that you have better ideas on how to use the money.
We would all use $54 million differently. Evangelists would use it to reach the lost. Pastors would build large buildings so they can nurture the saints. Teachers would create a media ministry so they could get the message out. Apostles might build many churches in different regions. Prophets would probably invest in the soap box and megaphone industry. Christians in business would develop new businesses and multiply the money. Those without biblical financial training would waste most of it.

Don’t pridefully presume your plans for the money are better than another’s. For Jesse, a jet is how he can most effectively minister. Again, we can’t judge motive. Let’s take him at his word.

NINE: If God told him to pursue this, he better do it.
Do you have any idea how much trouble we’d be in (and he’d be in) if we convinced Jesse to disobey God because we presumed our wisdom to be greater? If God spoke to Jesse about this airplane, we better get out of the way and keep our mouths shut, unless blessing and honor is all that would be spoken. How foolish Solomon must have been to use his wealth the way he did, right? Wrong. God spoke, and wealth was not all given away. It wasn’t used to eradicate poverty. It was used in ways that didn’t make much sense. But that’s the wonder of God. His ways aren’t our ways.

Added together, the gold and silver used along in Solomon's Temple was worth $216,603,576,000. This does not include all the precious metals, bronze, iron, ivory, or cedar wood used in the temple. (http://althistory.wikia.com/wiki/User_blog:PitaKang/Funday_Monday_1:_How_much_did_Solomon%27s_Temple_cost%3F)

TEN: If he missed God on this, extend grace.
If Jesse is wrong, let’s bless him, love him, honor him, pray for him and believe for great things in his life. Extending grace while also standing for righteousness is something we must do. But, again, not one single person reading this article knows whether he’s wrong or not at this point, no matter how much you might believe God is consulting you on the matter.

Revelation 22:21 (ESV)
21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Powerful resources on revival, prayer and reformation

Enjoy a large and growing library of video, articles, books and equipping at www.burton.tv!

Thank YOU for connecting with us and aligning with our passion for legitimate revival and awakening in the nations!

By now you’ve most likely heard about my book The Coming Church. If you haven’t started reading it yet, I encourage you to dive in! You will find yourself coming alive and burning hot as God shakes you to your core!

In addition to The Coming Church, I’ve written nine other books on topics such as prayer, intimacy with God, dealing with authority and fulfilling your mission.

Also, I have a massive library of articles, both on my site at www.burton.tv/articles and on Charisma Media’s sites. You can check them out here: www.burton.tv/charisma.

If you like to watch or listen to full length teachings, head over to www.burton.tv/media. Teachings from my studio here in Branson, Missouri and also other messages from the road are available at no cost to you!

Lastly, you may be ready for three months of fire! If you are hungry to grow fast and deep, check out the School of Revival! This is an online school of fire that will stretch you and equip you in prayer, revival and other key end-time focuses. Go to www.schoolofrevival.tv today!

Unusual Books 800

Most of all, I love to hear from all of my partners and friends!

Let me know what God is doing in our region.

I’d love to come out and hold some meetings in your church or at your camp or conference. Let’s connect and see what God might do!

John Burton

5 More Seeker-Sensitive Strategies that Threaten Revival

Many churches that don’t identify as Seeker Sensitive are actually employing Seeker strategies that threaten revival.

You can read the first article where I dealt with five clear threats to revival that are propagated through seeker sensitive church growth strategies on the Charisma News site HERE.

The Coming Church Paperback 300Seeker Sensitive methodologies have done more damage to the mission of revival and the advance of the Church than many realize.

The very purpose of the church and the experience in the church meeting have become confused, so much so that most would consider today’s typical Spirit-filled service to be biblically normal, though some have “Ichabod” etched above their doorposts.

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. And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” 1 Samuel 4:21-22 (ESV)

We have so neutered the supernatural influence that mostly natural religious expressions with a few raised hands and occasional shouts of “Hallelujah!” give it just enough spiritual unction to pass muster. The glory has departed and few have noticed—or cared.

The church must shift from being naturally familiar to being supernaturally shocking! The tremble must return to the church as Believers are functioning in raw, Holy Spirit power that can only be found in a lifestyle of zealous intercession.

From my book The Coming Church:

We soon won’t be able to define going to church the way we do now. God is coming to reform, to crush structures of old for what is to be introduced very soon. Our call isn’t to stand strong until the shift comes, it’s to prophetically sound the alarm and awaken those at risk! God is coming!

America doesn’t need another bed-and-breakfast church that comforts our flesh (our natural desires). Our nation needs a Church with a volatile atmosphere that explodes, burns human flesh and shocks our culture.

To the dismay of those who simply want to hear a little worship and listen to good (and short) teaching, services will become more like prayer meetings. This is one of the most critical and most upsetting shifts that will come–and it must come now. Today, most of the energy church leadership teams expend is usually on attracting and keeping visitors instead of training and engaging intercessors.

One of the greatest indictments on the Church today is that prayer is not the driving force. Today, people tend to choose churches based on the appeal of the teaching and the worship instead of the fervency of prayer. If the Church was a house of teaching, or a house of worship, that would make sense—but it’s not. Scripture reveals that the Church is a House of Prayer for all nations (Mark 11:17) Every person in the Church will function as a burning intercessor, and the services will be marked by this unified groan of fiery prayer. It simply does not make sense that people gather together as Christians without prayer being their primary activity!

Christians who aren’t invested in fervent, supernatural prayer will be enticed by the natural familiarity of Ichabod churches (where the glory has departed).

5 MORE SEEKER-SENSITIVE STRATEGIES THAT THREATEN REVIVAL

1. Fewer, Shorter, Predictable Services

First, I’m quick to admit that I, like many others, do not like poorly formatted church services that are too long for all the wrong reasons. Do away with Sister Martha’s five minute announcement on the upcoming social and a special song by Brother Larry that unnecessarily fills space. Let’s do away with announcements and other time wasters and dive into what is more pressing.

That being said, we have to stop the trend of churches giving into the demands of the culture. It’s laughable to think the church can impact the world if the soldiers are only together two hours a week (or less than an hour in some churches). What happened to being in church every time the doors are open? I suppose this still happens since the church doors are only open from 10am-noon on Sunday mornings. The house of prayer is eerily empty, dark and closed most hours of the week.

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple… Acts 2:46 (NKJV)

It’s time to call the warriors together for fervent intercession and apostolic instruction and expect the Spirit of God to shock and rock the service! Even some of the most revival focused, Holy Spirit friendly churches out there have limited services and have created a predictable, repeatable, user-friendly order of service that ensures very little spontaneous would ever happen. Stop and think of the various elements that happen in every single church service, at exactly the same point every single time.

People are typically creatures of habit and it’s proven that growing churches are structured, shorter and mostly predictable. This is a tried and true Seeker strategy. It makes it comfortable for the seeker while it creates a foreign environment for the Holy Spirit. God must not only be given room to move in unusual and unique ways, but the service must be formatted in such a way that such Holy Spirit activity is nurtured and facilitated. I’d rather wait on my knees in silence for an hour waiting for God to move than to go through the order of service as if God has chosen another church to visit that day.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2 (NKJV)

2. Programs for Everyone

The Upper Room had one program, one expectation, one mandate. Pray. Hundreds of invited people chose not to attend, and that was okay. Sad. Unbelievable. But, okay. The mission was more important and it would not be compromised to attract a few hundred more distracted seekers.

Many of today’s pastors are so eager to keep every visitor and make every participant feel connected and satisfied that a massive and every growing menu of programs, small groups and activities is carefully created. The reasoning behind this is to ensure everyone has a place. This feels right. It seems to be a great way to welcome and include as many people as possible. However, if we look at what is really being done it will infuriate you. It does me.

There is a place for everyone in the church, in the house of prayer, in that Upper Room. The place is the prayer room! When we create programs and activities in an effort to keep people in our church it’s evidence that we have not successfully developed the culture of prayer that the church demands. We end up empowering people in their resistance to a lifestyle of intercession. If the prayer room isn’t magnetic enough, those you are attempting to attract just have to be allowed to move on.

This is why I’m a firm believer that the prayer meeting must take place on Sunday mornings. It’s the main thing, the program for all, the activity that entire families give themselves to night and day.

Even the most revival-centric churches fall into the trap of enticing people to stay via means other than the call to prayer.

The true church lives and moves and has its being in prayer.”

Leonard Ravenhill

In fact, the call isn’t only to pray, but to pray in the Spirit! We need people praying in tongues, groaning in the Spirit, crying out to God night and day. This is the program that must be developed, and until all are involved other efforts should be tabled.

praying at all times in the Spirit… Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)

3. Easy Salvation

This point could easily demand an entire article, or even an entire book to deal with effectively.

Suffice it to say the American church has failed miserably by presenting a casual, easy, costless salvation that is sealed by repeating a sinner’s prayer. This is an offense to the cross of Christ!

When I minister I always invite people to salvation by saying, “Every eye open and everybody looking around.” It’s common today to give people a private moment to ask Jesus into their heart by saying, “Every eye closed and nobody looking around…” I understand what they are trying to do. I understand how intimidating it can be to raise a hand and come to an altar, however if we are training people that salvation can occur without powering through the fear we are providing a lot of them with a false security.

We cannot be ashamed of Jesus! We must call people to radical surrender! The cost is high. The surrender must be complete. There are many people following Jesus in an unsaved condition because they have not been presented with the true Gospel. They have not been confronted with their depravity. They are filled with messages of how much God likes them without highlighting the reason they are separated from him.

True salvation results in a fervent, committed person who will burn hot, serve with passion and rend their hearts continually.

From The Coming Church:

The horrific confusion regarding the issue of salvation in the Western Church is the key reason why I am so intense. I am intentionally extremely off balance as a heavy counterweight due to current off-balance theologies. People are going to Hell. They think they are saved.

Just so you know how I see things, due to this encounter that I had 22 years ago (of being dragged toward Hell and hearing God tell me that many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day): when I’m in a vibrant, Spirit-filled church of, lets say, one thousand people—people who are lifting their hands, worshiping Jesus and paying their tithes—I see maybe 100 of them, on average, ending up in Heaven. That’s not a judgmental statement, as I have no way of truly judging that on a person-by-person basis. It’s simply a statistical, analytical reality for me based on my encounter with Hell. How can I stay silent even for a day if billions of unsaved people are going to Hell—not to mention many others in churches who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition?

4. Slow, Easy Pace

Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Understand, as we follow Jesus, we are called to lead others in that procession—but it’s at the pace of Christ, not the pace of the followers.

Seeker churches provide a “taste and see” environment for people to consider the ways of Jesus at a level that’s comfortable to them. We need churches that will stun the people and preach messages of urgency and radical consecration!

Under Moses the Hebrews dictated the pace of their advance and they all died in the desert—all but Joshua and Caleb. Under Joshua’s leadership, there was precision, urgency and unity in the advance into the land of Promise.

If we truly understood the urgency of the hour we would be shouting from the rooftops, calling people into immediate, radical surrender!

Hell continues to grow larger and today many will begin their eternity there. It’s a horrifying, tragic reality and we cannot allow people under our leadership to be casual, disinterested, lukewarm and disengaged. I believe their blood will be on our hands as leaders if we don’t start preaching with fire and shocking the dead to life!

5. Focusing on Numbers

This is such a huge point that I really want it to hit hard. True revival churches, with very limited exceptions, can expect to be very small in number. The goal of growing in number will almost immediately hijack the primary purpose of calling the remnant together for raging intercession, consecration and inconvenient instructions.

I was personally set free many years ago when God told me to never consider the number of people in the church again, but rather to consider how obedient I am. How well do I allow the Holy Spirit to lead?

It’s a very rare remnant that will gather together in the furnace that is being stoked, prodded and heated. Most people love to warm themselves by the fire but very few will actually lay across the fire and allow God to burn fully through them, to refine them and to cause them to blaze. We don’t need people who have the smell of fire on them, we need those who are burning.

We must let God build his church with rare, remnant burning ones.

FINAL THOUGHTS

God is ready to ignite his remnant bride. We must get ready for a raging furnace of prayer to burn in our churches again. It’s time. It’s past time. Most won’t be ready. Most weren’t ready for the Upper Room. The Upper Room wasn’t changed, programs weren’t added, the time there wasn’t shortened, the pace wasn’t easy, the cost was high. The pretenders had excuses and the remnant was surprised by supernatural power that turned the world upside down.

Yes, we need Upper Room churches in America, and fast.

Prince is awake, alert and settling into his eternity.

What is Prince doing right now in eternity?

Dell-000050435It’s late and I’m awake, wrestling, grieved, angry.

I often write for Charisma Media and I do hope this raw, unedited article is published there. It’s much different than the type of article I usually write.  It also needs to land in Rolling Stone, on Fox News and everywhere else the eyes of the world are looking.

Prince is dead.

Like so many others who have been deceived by a cunning serpent, a drug overdose was suspected as was reported by TMZ:

Multiple sources in Moline tell us, Prince was rushed to a hospital and doctors gave him a “save shot” … typically administered to counteract the effects of an opiate.

Read more: http://www.tmz.com/2016/04/21/prince-treated-drug-overdose-dead/#ixzz46ZSRFU00

David Bowie, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Chris Farley, Kurt Cobain, River Phoenix, John Belushi, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and the list goes on and on and on. They surrendered their souls to a murderous spirit in the form of drugs, alcohol and suicide.

Earlier today the man people around the world are calling “Legend” was alive, just as he had been for the last 57 years. Now, like the other celebrities who have gone before him, Prince is awake, alert and living in an entirely new place—a place he was probably not that concerned about—until today.

Yesterday Prince’s Wikipedia page was quite different. It highlighted his legend status, his great accomplishments and his worldwide fan base. He had no idea today it was report this:

Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)

On April 15, 2016, while on tour, his private plane made an emergency landing in Illinois. He was later admitted to a hospital with flu-like symptoms. On April 21, 2016, Prince died at his Paisley Park recording studio and home in Chanhassen, Minnesota.

Tributes to Prince are spontaneously appearing all over the world. Chicago turned their night skyline Prince's signature purple. The New Orleans Superdome was also shrouded in purple as was Madison Square Garden in New York City and City Hall in San Francisco. People in Prince's home town of Minneapolis were dancing in an all night vigil to him.

I am so disturbed by the insanity of our culture that I refuse to hold back. I know I’ll be accused of being insensitive. People will say, “It’s too soon to talk about this.” Others will be enraged that I would presume someone to be in Hell. I’m sure I’ll be accused of being prideful and arrogant. Others might say I’m hateful.

Revealing that people are in Hell isn’t an indicator of hatred any more than reporting that an individual is in the state penitentiary. If I enjoyed the fact that they were there, however, I would indeed be deranged. I’m sick that they are there. I want to vomit. I can’t handle the fact that so many are in indescribable torment there right now. They will never find relief. I honestly feel helpless.

In the past, when other people have died, I’ve felt similar grief, but this time I had to react. I suppose respond would be a more appropriate word than react, but that’s not what I’m feeling. I don’t feel like I’m simply responding to a difficult situation. There is a raging reaction to the evil that is so vigorously celebrated today coursing through my veins. It’s unbridled. It’s uncensored. It’s real, pure, undeniable anger at a society that repeatedly rejects God as if he were some sort of killjoy, a monster. Satan is brilliantly playing the puppet master to a generation that absolutely adores him. When he says dance, they dance.

Barring a last minute decision to fall in love with and surrender to a God he has soundly rejected for decades, Prince is currently experiencing the darkest, most maddening, horrific evil imaginable. In fact, it’s far beyond one’s ability to understand. Five seconds in Hell is more than enough to send a person into complete lunacy. As of the writing of this sentence, Prince has been there 13 hours and 40 minutes. Even more horrifying is that over the same amount of time, approximately 85,000 other people have died. Based on what the Bible teaches, the high majority of those people are confused, disoriented and terrorized in Hell—right now. Since you started reading this article, around 100 more people have died. For many of them it was unexpected. Just over 60 seconds ago, all was well as it had been for years. Now many of them are in the clenches of unrelenting darkness. The grip is too tight to struggle free from. It will never loosen.

People of planet Earth, I have a question for you. Why do you hate God with such fervor? I’m not talking about a manmade invention of some god that you might have an affinity for. I’m talking about Jesus Christ. What has he ever done to cause you to reject him so soundly? Why are you turning to evil instead of to someone who actually loves you with immeasurable passion? Hey superstars, celebrities, why are you so enamored by sex, drugs, fame, money? Get over it! Stop! It’s ridiculous! You are entertaining destruction! Everybody else, why do you look up to them, call them legend, dream to be like them? How have you become so bewitched?

Jesus is real. Jesus is alive. Jesus thinks about you continually. Jesus burns with a selfless love that would change you for eternity if you just experienced it for a moment.

I opened by saying that I’m angry. Sure, I’m angry at Satan. Whatever. That’s the obvious spiritual answer. My immediate emotions however are not exclusive to that invisible enemy. I’m furious at flesh and blood people who continue to fall for such darkness and rebellion and who propagate a godless, selfish lifestyle that’s radically debased—and extremely contagious.

Musicians, actors, athletes, politicians and everybody else who is influencing society—stop your nonsense! Get over yourself! You are not a god! Stop living a life that mocks Jesus and is fueled by self-indulgent filth. It’s killing you. It’s killing our generation. You aren’t heroes. You aren’t untouchable. The hand of death will grab you at some point and won’t let go. What will your first five seconds in eternity be like?

Jesus allowed himself to be hated, mocked, spit on, mutilated, put to shame and murdered as he hung naked in front of a blood thirsty crowd—and he forgave them all. He did this for me. My life will never be the same again. I’m weak and broken—and transformed. I’m free. I’m alive. I don’t deserve it, but I will have the opportunity to be with that man, Christ Jesus, for trillions and trillions of years, forever actually. Why? The answer is obvious—who could not fall in love with a God like that? I couldn’t resist.

God is passionately calling you, drawing you. Just take the dive already! Do it! Do you seriously think sex or drugs or fame is better? Really? Just what type of god are you imagining?

I think of people like Johnny Manziel who are spiraling out of control. I’m scared for Johnny. He doesn’t need rehab. He doesn’t need to make better choices. He needs to stop the madness and finally surrender his heart to Jesus. It’s that simple.

Johnny’s still alive. He has time. He could spend forever with Jesus, experiencing freedom, power, peace, strength and love that would wonderfully wreck him for eternity. He has that option.

What would happen if we suddenly had a rush of celebrities completely rejecting their previous lives by becoming fully surrendered to Jesus? I believe that can happen. It must happen.

I envision fiery, rowdy, Holy Spirit driven prayer meetings with people like Oprah, Charlie Sheen, Johnny Manziel, Harrison Ford, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashian, Ellen Degeneres, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Rihanna and others leading the way. Imagine what it would be like if they were all on their knee at an altar, adoring Jesus, waiting their turn to take the mic and lead the room in intercession for revival!

Alright, my rant is over. My emotions are shifting from anger to sadness, and again to determined intercession. We can see change come if we stop idolizing these people and truly pray in tears for them.

For Prince, tragically, it’s too late. Nothing can be done to alter his eternity.

But God is targeting those who remain on the earth. Celebrity or not, they are precious, precious people who have an amazing destiny ahead of them—if they only, finally, say yes to someone who loves them deeply. My friend, Jesus.

Can you forward this to your pastor? Carrying fire to the cities of the Earth

I need your help! I’m heading on the road full time to consult, teach, equip and carry fire!

It would mean a lot if you would forward the following to your pastor! I’m ready to hit the road and serve with passion!


Hi!

I’d love to give you a call and learn more about you and your ministry. Is there a time that would work?

We are in such a critical and powerful season where God is awakening those who are ready to burn hot for Jesus. God has been wrecking and rocking me lately and I’m carrying the resulting message everywhere he leads.

If you feel an event would benefit your church, I don’t require a minimum honorarium or a minimum sized crowd. I will sleep on the floor if it means revival can be fueled in your region!

When I travel I enjoy the opportunity to pour into leadership teams and the body through equipping, encouraging, imparting strategies and calling people higher!

You can learn a little about what makes my heart burn by reading my articles in Charisma Magazine: www.johnburton.net/charisma

clip_image002

You can also view my bio at www.johnburton.net if you’d like to take a look.

The short version is:

clip_image004

  • I’ve planted two churches, one in Colorado and one in Detroit.
  • I’ve written ten books on the topics of prayer, reformation, equipping and revival. You can read several of these books for FREE if you’d like to learn more about us at www.johnburton.net/books!
  • I directed one of the primary internships, Intro to IHOP, at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.
  • I crave being in God’s presence with other hungry people!
  • I also believe strongly in the local church and would love to serve your mission.

Contact me any time via email at john@johnburton.net or phone at 719.231.6000.

FYI, I often hear from pastors looking to book an event about whether I’ll come and minister to a small crowd. I absolutely will!

I know God is ready to pour out in any fiery, hungry environment!

I can’t wait to hear from you!

RECOMMENDATIONS


clip_image006Dear John,

When we invited you we anticipated an unusual move of God in our church but had no idea how much you would ignite the fire of God in hearts and set us on the path to revival. What a tremendous week it has been! Thanks for all that you, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, have invested in us this week. One of these days there will be a mighty sound coming from the south. It will be the sound of revival and of a raging fire of the Spirit in Haiti. READ THE ENTIRE LETTER HERE.

Jean Heder Petit-Frere

 

 

“John is dangerously prophetic, provoking passion in those in pursuit of revival. In just a few short years, I have witnessed the impact of his obedience to Christ in a region bound by division & religion. His mandate is one of radical devotion, raising up burning ones and releasing them into new levels in their kingdom assignment.”

Marcellis Smith, Lead Pastor
Jubilee City
clip_image008Detroit, MI

John Burton is a man with unquenchable passion for God. His life is a living Epistle of the truth that the Kingdom of God is not just in word, but in power. He lights fires wherever he goes leaving behind the unmistakable fragrance of the life of Christ. I highly recommend his ministry to you.

Glenn Bleakney
President of Awake Nations

“John won’t serve yesterdays’ manna, old wine, or an ear tickling message! His ears are tuned to hear the Word of the LORD and bring a piercing message to people who hunger for truth. Your community will be awakened, provoked, and equipped! Be prepared to encounter God, experience His power & presence and transform your world!”
Chris Ferguson, District Pastor Forerunner Christian Fellowship
International House of Prayer
Kansas City, MO

John Burton is a great man of God that is blessed with numerous gifts that serve as a blessing to the body of Christ. I would highly recommend him to anyone in ministry or the business world. He is full of integrity and does very quality work.
Jeremiah Johnson

“John, thanks so much for listening to God’s heart! It changed my life. I’m crying, but I feel happy inside- a happiness I’ve never felt.”
Melanie

“John Burton is a man who has continued to allow himself to be thrust into the middle of what God is doing. He not only hears from Heaven, but is willing to boldly shout it from the rooftops. If John is stirred about something, I would recommend that you listen.”
JD King, International Director World Revival Network of Ministries

I’ll sleep on the floor if that’s what it takes to carry fire to your region! | Have you read my latest articles in Charisma Magazine?

No minimum honorarium, no minimum crowd, I’ll sleep on the floor…I’m burning to bring revival to your city!

Hi!

Do you lead a church or ministry? It would be great if we could connect!

I’m currently filling up my 2015 calendar, and I’d like to see if a ministry event in your region would be a benefit.

I’d love to give you a call and learn more about you and your ministry. Is there a time that would work?

My passions are REVIVAL, PRAYER AND AWAKENING…and I want to see the fire of God’s love rage through your city!

image

You can learn a little about what makes my heart burn by reading my articles in Charisma Magazine:

clip_image001

Plus, if you feel it would benefit your ministry, we can discuss scheduling a church event or conference in your region that would powerfully encourage you and your team!

If that won’t work, that’s OK! I still want to get to know you and bless what God is doing in you!

In the meantime, my bio can be viewed at www.johnburton.net if you’d like to take a look.

The short version is:

clip_image002

  • I’ve planted two churches, one in Colorado and one in Detroit.
  • I’ve written ten books on the topics of prayer, reformation, equipping and revival. You can read several of these books for FREE if you’d like to learn more about us at www.johnburton.net/books!
  • I directed one of the primary internships, Intro to IHOP, at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.
  • I crave being in God’s presence with other hungry people!
  • I also believe strongly in the local church and would love to serve your mission.

You also might consider hosting theLab Intensive. This 2-3 day school of fire will equip and encourage your church and leadership team. Learn more here: www.thelabuniversity.com/intensives.

Contact me any time via email at john@johnburton.net or phone at 719.231.6000.

If you feel an event would benefit your church, I don’t require a minimum honorarium or a minimum sized crowd. I will sleep on the floor if it means revival can be fueled in your region!

FYI, I often hear from pastors looking to book an event about whether I’ll come and minister to a small crowd. I absolutely will!

I regularly travel to minister to crowds less than 50, and I know God is ready to pour out in those fiery, hungry environments!

I can’t wait to hear from you!

RECOMMENDATIONS


clip_image004Dear John,

When we invited you we anticipated an unusual move of God in our church but had no idea how much you would ignite the fire of God in hearts and set us on the path to revival. What a tremendous week it has been! Thanks for all that you, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, have invested in us this week. One of these days there will be a mighty sound coming from the south. It will be the sound of revival and of a raging fire of the Spirit in Haiti. READ THE ENTIRE LETTER HERE.

Jean Heder Petit-Frere

“John is dangerously prophetic, provoking passion in those in pursuit of revival. In just a few short years, I have witnessed the impact of his obedience to Christ in a region bound by division & religion. His mandate is one of radical devotion, raising up burning ones and releasing them into new levels in their kingdom assignment.”

Marcellis Smith, Lead Pastor
Jubilee City
clip_image006Detroit, MI

John Burton is a man with unquenchable passion for God. His life is a living Epistle of the truth that the Kingdom of God is not just in word, but in power. He lights fires wherever he goes leaving behind the unmistakable fragrance of the life of Christ. I highly recommend his ministry to you.

Glenn Bleakney
President of Awake Nations

“John won’t serve yesterdays’ manna, old wine, or an ear tickling message! His ears are tuned to hear the Word of the LORD and bring a piercing message to people who hunger for truth. Your community will be awakened, provoked, and equipped! Be prepared to encounter God, experience His power & presence and transform your world!”
Chris Ferguson, District Pastor Forerunner Christian Fellowship
International House of Prayer
Kansas City, MO

John Burton is a great man of God that is blessed with numerous gifts that serve as a blessing to the body of Christ. I would highly recommend him to anyone in ministry or the business world. He is full of integrity and does very quality work.
Jeremiah Johnson

“John, thanks so much for listening to God’s heart! It changed my life. I’m crying, but I feel happy inside- a happiness I’ve never felt.”
Melanie

“John Burton is a man who has continued to allow himself to be thrust into the middle of what God is doing. He not only hears from Heaven, but is willing to boldly shout it from the rooftops. If John is stirred about something, I would recommend that you listen.”
JD King, International Director World Revival Network of Ministries

John Bevere Answers: ‘When Should I Leave My Church?’

John Bevere Answers: ‘When Should I Leave My Church?'

I’m often asked, “When should I leave a church or ministry team? How bad does it have to get?”

I respond, “Who sent you to the church you presently attend?”

The majority of the time they answer, “God did.”

“If God sent you,” I reply, “do not leave until God releases you. If the Lord is silent, He is often saying, ‘Don’t change a thing. Do not leave. Stay where I have placed you!’”

When God does instruct you to leave, you will go out with peace, no matter what the condition of the ministry: “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace” Is. 55:12, KJV). Therefore, your departure will not be based on the actions or behavior of others but rather on the Spirit’s leading.

So leaving a ministry is not based on how bad things are. To leave with an offended or critical spirit is not the plan of God. It is reacting rather than acting on His guidance. Romans 8:14 (NKJV) says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

Notice it does not say, “For as many as react to difficult situations, these are sons of God.”

Almost every time the word son is used in the New Testament, it comes from the two Greek words teknon and huios. A good definition for the word teknon is “one who is a son by mere fact of birth.”

When my first son, Addison, was born, he was John Bevere’s son by mere fact that he came from my wife and me. When he was in the nursery in the midst of all the other newborns, you could not recognize him as my son by personality. When friends and family came to visit, they could not pick him out except by the nametag above his crib. He did not possess anything that set him apart. Addison would be considered a teknon of John and Lisa Bevere.

We find teknon used in Romans 8:15–16. It says that because we have received the spirit of adoption, “the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children [teknon] of God.” When a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord, he is a child of God by fact of the new birth experience. (See John 1:12.)

The other Greek word translated sons in the New Testament is huios. Many times it is used in the New Testament to describe “one who can be identified as a son because he displays the character or characteristics of his parents.” As my son Addison grew, he started looking and acting like his father. When Addison was 6, Lisa and I took a trip and left him with my parents. My mother told my wife that Addison was almost a carbon copy of his daddy. His personality was like mine when I was his age. As he has grown, he has become more like his dad. He now can be recognized as John Bevere’s son, not only by the fact of his birth but also by the characteristics and a personality that resemble his father’s.

So, to put it simply, the Greek word teknon means “babies or immature sons,” and the Greek word huios is most often used to describe “mature sons.”

Looking at Romans 8:14 again, it reads: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons [huios] of God.” We can see clearly here that it is the mature sons who are led by the Spirit of God.

Immature Christians are less likely to follow the leading of the Spirit of God. Most often they react or respond emotionally or intellectually to circumstances they face. They have not yet learned to act only on the Spirit of God’s leading.

As Addison grows, he will progress in character development. The more mature he becomes, the more responsibility I will entrust to him. It is wrong for him to stay immature. It is not God’s will that we remain babies.

One way the character of Addison has grown is by facing difficult situations. When he started school, he met up with some “bullies.” I heard some of the things these rough kids were doing and saying to my son, and I wanted to go and deal with it. But I knew that would be wrong. For me to intervene would hinder Addison’s growth.

So my wife and I continued to counsel him at home, preparing him to face the persecutions at school. He grew in character through obeying our counsel in the midst of his suffering.

This is similar to what God does with us. The Bible says, “Though He [Jesus] was a Son [Huios], yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8, emphasis added).

Physical growth is a function of time. No 2-year-old child has ever been 6 feet tall. Intellectual growth is a function of learning. Spiritual growth is a function of neither time nor learning, but rather of obedience. Now look at what Peter says: “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1, emphasis added).

A person who has ceased from sin is a perfectly obedient child of God. He is mature. He chooses God’s ways, not his own. Just as Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered, we learn obedience by the difficult circumstances we face. When we obey the Word of God that is spoken by the Holy Spirit, we will grow and mature in times of conflict and suffering.

Our knowledge of Scripture is not the key. Obedience is.

Now we understand one reason why we have people in the church who have been Christians for 20 years, who can quote verses and chapters of the Bible, who have heard a thousand sermons and have read many books but still wear spiritual diapers. Every time they meet with difficult situations, rather than responding by the Spirit of God, they seek to protect themselves in their own way. They are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). They never come to the knowledge of the truth because they do not apply it.

Truth must be allowed to have its way in our lives if we are going to grow and mature. It is not enough to give mental assent to truth without obeying it. Even though we continue to learn, we never mature because of disobedience.

John Bevere is a popular speaker at conferences and churches and the author of best-sellers The Bait of Satan and The Fear of the Lord. He is host of The Messenger TV show and directs Messenger International ministry. This article was excerpted from his popular book The Bait of Satan.

Charisma Magazine | Rooting Out Fuzzy Theology Behind the Hyper-Grace Message

Rooting Out Fuzzy Theology Behind the Hyper-Grace Message

9:21AM EDT 4/2/2013 David & Nancy Ravenhill

image

Imagine a car dealership that provides every car buyer with a free car wash for as long as they own the car. You purchase a car, and along with the required paperwork you are given a free-car-wash certificate. The dealer tells you he has fully paid for all the car washes you will ever need, saying he believes that a clean car is the greatest way of advertising and promoting his dealership.

Several days later, you happen to drive down a muddy country road full of potholes and ruts. Later, you notice your car is covered with mud and decide to avail yourself of your free lifetime car wash. But before you have time to drive through the car wash, your friends inform you that you no longer have to go there. They tell you that your first car wash was all that was necessary. Any suggestion that you need another wash is not only wrong, but a lie.

You try and reason with your friends and even show them your dirty car. They still refuse to acknowledge that the car needs washing, even after seeing the condition of the car. They inform you that what the dealer really meant was that once the dealership had purchased the car wash for you, that would keep the car clean forever. They also argued that to suggest it needed washing again was an insult to the dealer and the dealership. “Don't you realize,” your friends tell you, “when the dealer first paid for your car wash, that automatically washed it for life; all past, present and future dirt was washed away, and therefore it never needs to be washed again.”

Such logic would, by anyone's reasoning, be considered imbecilic, ignorant or crazy, to say the least. Obviously, what the dealer intended was that anytime you needed your car washed, you could avail yourself of a car wash because he had already paid for it in advance.

Thinking back on your conversation with the dealer, you recall him telling you that he has a personal hatred for dirty cars and that is why he paid for a lifetime of free washes to anyone who asked. He went on to say that if—and not when—you happen to get your car dirty, the car wash would take care of it. He obviously never intended for you to drive around searching for dirty roads just so you could avail yourself of the car wash. That, he said, would be abusive to the car-wash program and an insult to his dealership.

In a similar way, the atoning work of Christ paid in full for all my sin. This, however, does not exclude my need for repentance, nor does it give me license to sin as I please. For my “friends” to tell me otherwise is totally false and misleading.

Sadly, this is the logic behind the new hyper-grace message. The essence behind this false teaching is that all sins past, present and future have already been atoned for and therefore there is no longer any need to repent. That, the proponents of this idea say, would be tantamount to telling God you don't believe He has paid for all your sin.

This type of fuzzy theology falls apart for this reason: If repentance is acknowledging a sin that has already been forgiven, thereby making repentance unnecessary, then why do we tell people to repent the first time in order to be saved? If repentance is wrong following salvation, then using the same “logic,” repentance is wrong prior to salvation too.

The error here is that this type of teaching leads to ultimate reconciliation or universalism. Jesus paid for all sin; therefore, all are saved.

The fact is that the provision for my cleansing was completed at the cross but the process of my cleansing is conditional upon my repentance, and not before.

Check out these other articles that deal with the false-grace message:

What’s Wrong With Grace? Mike Bickle and the distorted grace message

Why a distorted message of grace is the church’s greatest crisis today—and how we must respond

The original article can be found here: http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/17080-what-s-wrong-with-grace

You can read my article Five Marks of the False Grace Message here: www.johnburton.net/grace-message

Watch as Mike Bickle explains how the American culture has colored the understanding of grace at grace.charismamag.com


imageThe most powerful, significant and liberating message ever given to the human race is the gospel of grace. The Christian life is established on the foundation of this wonderful truth, which emphasizes what Christ did for us on the cross and what the Holy Spirit does in us in our daily life. Paul’s dramatic declaration that we have become new creations in Christ has vast implications for our lives: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away … all things have become new … that we [our spirit] might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:17-21).

The “he” that is a new creation is our spirit man. We possess the very righteousness of God in our spirit (v. 21). This describes our new legal position in Christ—how God sees and relates to us. In Christ, all things have become new pertaining to our spirit. This includes being fully accepted by God, receiving the authority to use the name of Jesus and possessing the indwelling Holy Spirit—all of which enable us to resist sin, sickness and Satan; to walk in victory; and to release the works of God through prayer. The old things that passed away under this legal shift include no longer being under the penalty of sin nor being dominated by the power of sin.

So what’s the problem if we’ve been given such freedom as new creations? Unfortunately, man’s natural tendency to distort truth gets in the way. And when it comes to a truth as fundamental and crucial as grace, that distortion has far-reaching implications. In short, it can become the central crisis of an entire generation.

The Crisis of Our Time

The apostle Jude confronted the great spiritual crisis of his day when he exhorted believers to contend earnestly for the “faith” or for the message of grace originally delivered to them through the first apostles. In Jude 3-4, he writes: “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed … ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness.”

Think about this: Within one generation after Jesus’ resurrection, it was already necessary to contend for the true grace message. That’s how key this battle over the true grace message is and always has been since Jesus’ definitive work on the cross.

Jude warned of certain men who crept into the fellowship of the church unnoticed—that is, their error went unnoticed by most of the leaders and the people. These men turned the message of grace into a message of lewdness or one that affirmed various compromises, even sexual immorality. These men with persuasive teaching abilities twisted what the Bible said about grace, thus empowering many to confidently continue in sinful activities without feeling any urgency to repent.

Undoubtedly, these teachers of error appeared outwardly to live godly, but in their private lives they refused to repent of various lusts. Instead, they justified their ungodly habits by distorting the message of grace to accommodate their lifestyles.

The result was devastating, as many in the church concluded that it was acceptable for them also to live with similar compromises because these popular teachers were justifying this sort of lifestyle with various Bible verses. In reality, they took these verses out of context of the broader New Testament message, which called believers to live in wholehearted love for Jesus as evidenced by seeking to live in obedience to Him (John 14:15, 21).

The same is true with hyper-grace teachers today. They choose to emphasize only God’s love and forgiveness while practically ignoring Jesus’ call for His people to walk in wholehearted commitment to the Lord. They preach mostly on forgiveness without repentance and on receiving God’s blessing on their circumstances without any conditions. The truth is, it’s glorious that we are freely forgiven by Jesus and that He blesses our circumstances; but these truths are in context to seeking to live in a real relationship with Him and in agreement with His leadership and Word.

Jude’s exhortation is a significant warning for the body of Christ today. When the grace message is distorted, everything else in one’s spiritual life becomes blurred. In fact, there is no spiritual battle more significant in the church today than contending to keep the grace message faithful to Scripture.

Sadly, some believers aren’t even aware of this spiritual crisis regarding a diluted grace message. They must wake up to the emergency at hand—because today, as we contend for the spirit of truth, we are fighting for the very soul of a generation.

It’s easier in today’s world for teachers to creep in unnoticed, as Jude said, because of television and the Internet. Some contemporary teachers distorting the message of grace come from high-profile ministries whose very popularity gives them a false sense of credibility. We must not receive a ministry because it’s attractive and popular; we should only receive it if it’s faithful to the truth.

Paul prophesied of a time when many who profess loyalty to Jesus would fall to unsound doctrine: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

These people aren’t willing to embrace the challenges of a lifestyle of obedience to Jesus as emphasized by the sound teaching in the New Testament. Instead, they have “itching ears” to hear messages that affirm their sinful desires. They want to feel comfortable in their relationship with God, even as they continue to boldly walk out their sinful lusts.

By isolating Bible verses about God’s blessing and forgiveness from the larger context of the New Testament’s call to love Jesus with obedience, they affirm the lustful desires of their hearers. One famous TV preacher went so far to say that there is no longer a need for a believer to repent because Jesus’ work on the cross did that for them. He obviously overlooked the fact that Jesus repeatedly called born-again believers to repent for yielding to various compromises (see Rev. 2:5, 16, 21-22; 3:3, 19).

Grace: The Power to Love and Obey Jesus

If countless sincere believers have already succumbed to the rising tide of this distorted grace message, how can we stand strong through the crisis? It starts by remaining grounded in biblical truth. We must approach the biblical grace message through the lens of God calling us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).

The Lord wants us to love Him in a wholehearted way because that’s how He loves us—with all of His heart, mind and strength. This mutual relationship of wholehearted love between a believer and the Lord is foundational to the kingdom. In fact, this is the very way that the Father loves the Son—with all of His heart. The Son loves the Father and the Spirit loves the Father and Son in this way too. Oh, the glorious mystery of one God in three persons who delight in Their relationship of wholehearted love for each other (see John 3:35; 5:20; 14:31; 15:9; 17:23, 26)! God’s plan from the foundation of the earth was to redeem people so that they could participate in this loving fellowship that the three persons of the Trinity enjoy.

The core reality of the grace message is to empower us to walk with God in a relationship of wholehearted love. Jesus called this “the first commandment” (Mark 12:30). Thus, the Holy Spirit’s first agenda is to establish the first commandment in first place in the church. This must also be our first agenda. Wholehearted love is to be “first” in our response to God because it is how the Father relates to the Son and how the Godhead relates to us. We must see grace through the lens of this quality of love. To think of grace without it being anchored in the first commandment is to be aiming at the wrong target. Thus, we distort the grace message when we do not interpret it through the lens of the first commandment. We must love Jesus on His terms, and He defined loving God in terms of a spirit of obedience to His commandments (see John 14:15, 21, 23).

There’s no such thing as loving Jesus without seeking to obey His Word. Some seek to love God on the terms of a humanistic culture that has no reference to obeying the Word. But loving and seeking to obey Jesus are synonymous. All of His commands are based in His love. Thus, the biblical message of grace teaches us to live righteously and to deny ungodliness as the way of expressing our love to God. Titus 2:11-12 says, “The grace of God … has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly.”

If you hear a teaching on grace that doesn’t call you to deny ungodliness, it’s not a biblical grace message—it’s a distorted one.

Legal Position vs. Living Condition

As we correctly view the grace message through the lens of the first commandment, we can also begin to understand the difference between our legal position before God and our ongoing living condition as a response to what Jesus has done. Not only is there a key difference between these two, it’s often the element that hyper-grace adherents conveniently overlook.

Our legal position is what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross, while our living condition is what Jesus requires of us in our response to Him. In our legal position, we stand before God by possessing His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). Our legal standing before God is so glorious that it will never be improved upon—not even with the perfection of a resurrected body—because we received Christ’s very own righteousness. Our legal position relates to receiving His righteousness instantly on the day that we are born again.

Our living condition, on the other hand, relates to growing in righteousness progressively as our mind is renewed, causing our behavior and emotions to be transformed by the Holy Spirit in us.

The gospel is the good news about receiving God’s righteousness and can be seen in three tenses:

  1. Justification: our legal position—past tense, focused on our spirit
  2. Sanctification: our living condition—present tense, focused on our soul
  3. Glorification: our eternal exaltation—future tense, focused on our body

One-third of our salvation is complete (the salvation of our spirit), but the other two parts are not yet complete in our experience (the salvation of our soul and body). All believers have received the fullness of grace in their spirit (legal position), and yet they can still live far below it in their daily experience (living condition).

Much misunderstanding about grace can be traced to misunderstanding the distinctions of these truths. Many confuse what Jesus did for us in our legal position with what He requires of us in our response to Him in our living condition.

Jesus’ finished work on the cross makes His grace fully available to us as a gift. However, our regular interaction with the Spirit causes us to experience the transforming power of this grace in our daily life. James wrote about this when he urged believers to walk in a greater measure of grace because God “gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

James wrote this to born-again believers, calling them to receive more grace. A believer already has the gift of righteousness and therefore can’t receive “more grace” in his or her legal position. However, each of us can receive “more grace” in our living condition—and this is what James was referring to. We can always experience more of God’s grace to transform and renew our mind and emotions (see Rom. 12:2).

Grace in the Eight Beatitudes

If we hope to experience more of this transforming grace on a daily basis, then we must follow the words of the greatest teacher on grace who ever walked the earth: Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) is His most comprehensive statement about a believer’s role in cooperating with God’s grace. In this teaching, Jesus defined loving God in context to the eight beatitudes (5:3-10), offering us a rich understanding of how to walk out biblical grace in our daily lives.

One aspect of this is Jesus’ exhortation to us to hunger for more of God’s righteousness (v. 6). Here, Jesus affirmed the need to press into God for a greater release of righteousness in our daily lives—our living condition. Keep in mind that He wasn’t calling us to receive more of the gift of righteousness, since we already fully possess this in our legal position. Our hunger for righteousness doesn’t cause us to deserve grace—nothing can do that—but hunger positions us to receive more of the outworking of righteousness in our character.

Some believers don’t hunger to grow in righteousness in their daily life. Rather, they seek to know how far they can go in sin and how little they need to talk with Jesus to keep their salvation intact.

Imagine a couple in their wedding ceremony who have just completed their vows. While walking down the aisle for the first time as “one,” the man whispers to his new bride, “How far can I go with other women before we get divorced? And how much do I have to talk to you each week?” Adding insult to injury, he then says, “By the way, we just signed a marriage license that legalized our marriage—so now I have legal rights to all that you possess.”

Of course, the new bride would be heartbroken to hear that her husband didn’t love her with all of his heart but was instead establishing their marriage on a faulty foundation—and focusing almost entirely on the bare-minimum “requirements” and legal ramifications involved.

Some teach about grace in a way that parallels the lack of wholeheartedness portrayed in this analogy. It’s a version of grace more concerned with what it takes to “meet the requirements” on paper than to engage in the authentic, loving relationship for which it was originally intended. Sadly, this error is bound to occur whenever people separate the grace message from the first commandment.

How to Receive God’s Grace

Grace was never intended to be abused, but as our current church crisis proves, it can be. God gives us the freedom to choose relationship and obedience to His Word—and thus benefit from the true liberty found in grace. Yet this is also why Paul urged the believers in Corinth “not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Cor. 6:1).

The gospel of grace is distorted in two main ways: first, by presenting God’s love as something we can earn; second, by refusing to call people to respond in wholeheartedness to God. The fruit of the biblical grace message is confidence in the gift of God’s love combined with a spirit of obedience. If either of these two elements is missing, then it isn’t the true message. Thus, receiving God’s grace in vain is to receive it in such a way that it doesn’t produce confidence in God’s love nor the resolve to respond wholeheartedly to Jesus’ leadership. Either distortion is disastrous for our spiritual life.

Like Jude in the first century, we must earnestly contend for the truth about grace. The very soul of the youth in our nation hangs in the balance.

The good news, however, is this: The Holy Spirit is highlighting this spiritual crisis and is committed to the recovery of the biblical grace message. We can be confident that He will release His power to establish the first commandment in first place in the church before Jesus returns for His fully prepared Bride (see Rev. 19:7). Let’s come alongside Him, rather than opposing Him, when it comes to receiving, understanding and walking in grace.

Mike Bickle is the director of the International House of Prayer Missions Base of Kansas City, Mo., and author of several books. For more information, visit mikebickle.org or ihopkc.org.

Watch as Mike Bickle explains how the American culture has colored the understanding of grace at grace.charismamag.com

X