SPIRITUAL WARFARE THREE PART SERIES
When we understand our authority, and when we understand that the battle is in the invisible realm, we can have great impact. The enemy will bring the fight to us whether we want to go to war or not. Our only option is to know who we are in Christ, and who Christ is in us and then to enforce the victory of the cross! You will find yourself encouraged, equipped and joyful as you finally hit the enemy with a supernatural power that will send him fleeing!
Why isn’t every Spirit-filled Christian craving to gather to pray in the fire every day?
A DESPERATE CALL
This is a raw, unprepared message from my heart about the desperation in my spirit for an awakening in the church.
It's saddens me that so many excuses are immediately raised at the point where the call to prayer is sounded. I'm not seeing the passion for continual, never ending intercession in most circles, and there must be a shaking come to the church.
If we don't have time to gather to pray every day we are probably doing something God doesn't want us to do. It's time to cancel most of what makes up our daily lives and pray with a passion strong enough to launch revival in the land.
This is your hour to awaken and burn with a passion for Jesus that will shock your culture!
The apathy, sleepiness and casual responses to today's urgent alarms must cease immediately.
It's time to wake up, strengthen what remains and is about to die!
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SPIRITUAL WARFARE THREE PART SERIES BY JOHN BURTON
When we understand our authority, and when we understand that the battle is in the invisible realm, we can have great impact.
The enemy will bring the fight to us whether we want to go to war or not. Our only option is to know who we are in Christ, and who Christ is in us and then to enforce the victory of the cross!
You will find yourself encouraged, equipped and joyful as you finally hit the enemy with a supernatural power that will send him fleeing!
Watch this powerful, can’t miss message from Moriah Ranch—End Time Ready.
This is a can't miss teaching delivered at Moriah Ranch in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. John boldly deals with the current state of the church and tragic misunderstandings regarding salvation.
A prayerless people are at great risk of falling away, though they profess Christ and live an otherwise devoted life.
This segment from the book “not a fan” is so important—it will change the way you look at church and evangelism.
It’s a Thursday afternoon and I am sitting in the church sanctuary. It’s empty now, but Easter is only a few days away. More than thirty thousand people will likely come to the weekend services, and I have no idea what I’m going to say to them. I can feel the pressure mounting as I sit there hoping that a sermon will come to mind. I look around at the empty seats hoping some inspiration will come. Instead there’s just more perspiration. I wipe the sweat off my brow and look down. This sermon needs to be good. There are some people who only come to church on Christmas and Easter (we call them “Creasters”). I want to make sure they all come back. What could I say to get their attention? How can I make my message more appealing? Is there something creative I could do that would be a big hit and get people talking? Still nothing.
There is a Bible in the chair in front of me. I grab it. I can’t think of a Scripture to turn to. I’ve spent my life studying this book and I can’t think of one passage that will “wow” the Creasters. I consider using it the way I did as a kid. Kind of like a Magic 8 Ball, you ask a question, open up the Bible and point on the page, and whatever it says answers your question. Finally a thought crosses my mind: I wonder what Jesus taught whenever he had the big crowds. What I discovered would change me forever.
Not just as a preacher, but as a follower of Christ. I found that when Jesus had a large crowd, he would most often preach a message that was likely to cause them to leave. In that empty sanctuary I read of one such occasion in John chapter 6. Jesus is addressing a crowd that has likely grown to more than five thousand. Jesus has never been more popular. Word has spread about his miraculous healings and his inspirational teaching. This crowd of thousands has come to cheer him on. After a full day of teaching, Jesus knows the people are getting hungry, and so he turns to his disciples and asks what all these people will do for food. One of the disciples, Philip, tells Jesus that even with eight months’ wages, it wouldn’t be enough money to buy bread for everyone to have a bite. From Philip’s perspective, there really wasn’t anything that could be done. But another disciple, Andrew, has been scanning the crowd and he tells Jesus of a boy who has five loaves of bread and two small fish. Jesus takes the boy’s sack lunch and with it he feeds the entire crowd. In fact, the Bible tells us that even after everyone had their fill, there was still plenty of food left over. After dinner the crowd decides to camp out for the night so they can be with Jesus the next day. These are some big-time fans of Jesus.
The next morning when the crowd wakes up and they’re hungry again, they look around for Jesus, aka their meal ticket, but he’s nowhere to be found. These fans are hoping for an encore performance. Eventually they realize that Jesus and his disciples have crossed over to the other side of the lake. By the time they catch up to Jesus they’re starving. They’ve missed their chance to order breakfast and they are ready to find out what’s on the lunch menu. But Jesus has decided to shut down the “all you can eat” buffet. He’s not handing out any more free samples. In verse 26 Jesus says to the crowd: I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Jesus knows that these people are not going to all the trouble and sacrifice because they are following him, but because they want some free food. Was it Jesus they wanted, or were they only interested in what he could do for them? In verse 35 Jesus offers himself, but the question is, Would that be enough? Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus says, I am the bread of life. Suddenly Jesus is the only thing on the menu. The crowd has to decide if he will satisfy or if they are hungry for something more. Here’s what we read at the end of the chapter: From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him (John 6:66). Many of the fans turn to go home. I was struck by the fact that Jesus doesn’t chase after them. He doesn’t soften his message to make it more appealing. He doesn’t send the disciples chasing after them with a creative handout inviting them to come back for a “build your own sundae” ice cream social. He seems okay with the fact that his popularity has plummeted. As I sat in the sanctuary surrounded by thousands of empty seats, here’s what became clear to me: it wasn’t the size of the crowd Jesus cared about; it was their level of commitment. I put the Bible back in the chair in front of me. I cried.
God, I am sorry. Almost as soon as I said it to him, I knew it needed to go further. A few days later on Easter Sunday, a crowd of thousands gathered and I began my sermon with a choked up apology. I told the crowd that I was wrong for being too concerned with what they would think and how many of them would come back. I think over the years my intentions were good; I wanted to make Jesus look as attractive as possible so that people would come to find eternal life in him. I was offering the people Jesus, but I was handing out a lot of free bread. In the process I cheapened the gospel. Imagine it this way. Imagine that my oldest daughter turns twenty-five. She isn’t married but she really wants to be.* I decide I’m going to help make that happen. So, imagine I take out an ad in the newspaper, put up a billboard sign, and make up T-shirts begging someone to choose her. I even offer some attractive gifts as incentives. Doesn’t that cheapen who she is? Wouldn’t that make it seem that whoever came to her would be doing her a favor? I would never do that. I would set the standard high. I would do background checks and lie detector tests. There would be lengthy applications that must be filled out in triplicate. References would be checked and hidden cameras installed. If you want to have a relationship with her, you better be prepared to give her the best of everything you have. I don’t want to just hear you say that you love her; I want to know that you are committed to her. I want to know that you would give your life for her.
I knew there was a risk of losing everything when the call to the deep was announced.
We’ve become such a passive church society that the abrasion that’s coming will be wholeheartedly rejected by mainstream Christianity. False-humility and superficial pleasantries are masquerading as spirituality while truth is moderated to ensure it doesn’t disturb anybody.
The result is a Christian culture that celebrates the shallows and merely acknowledges the depths as optional for those who may want to venture in.
Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. Ezekiel 47:3-6
The time is coming when the deep is no longer presented as an option for the Christian, but rather, it’s the only hope for those who desire to truly follow Jesus. Prophetic awakeners will be boldly moving into deep waters and calling out those who are splashing like children in the shallow waters while presuming themselves to be normal, biblical Christians. These awakeners will be shocking an apathetic people like madmen!
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 2 Corinthians 11:23
We have fallen for the deception that we are all equal in our Christianity and any type of distinction based on maturity, passion or discipline is quickly hushed out of fear that the less committed will feel alienated. This fear is going to cease as prophetic voices will be calling all who are willing into the deep—and those who choose to splash and play will do so of their own volition.
But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:1
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Ephesians 4:11-14
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, Hebrews 5:11-12
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 1 Corinthians 13:11
Grow up and get into position! That’s the call of the hour. It’s time to count the cost, get into position and run with passion as the Church worthy of the name of Jesus Christ!
Don’t think for a minute that you can’t do it. That would be an insult to the grace of Christ!
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 12:9-10
Paul refused to shrink back. He moved in great grace and turned the world upside down! He ran. He fought. He knew his sole purpose on the Earth was to advance the Kingdom and that mission burned in him night and day.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 1 Corinthians 9:24
Paul said to the people, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” and not to Jesus, “Hey, wait up, let’s move at the pace of the people.” God sets the pace, not us.
The fear is that others will presume we are arrogant or haughty when we call them higher—after all, if we are calling them higher, we must think we are higher already.
- First, the closer we get to Jesus, the deeper we go, the more humble and broken we become—our own depravity, weaknesses and struggles are clarified as the holiness and majesty of Jesus are magnified. The deeper we go the deeper we have to keep going. The deep is truly the point of no return.
- Second, what would the suggestion be? That we lessen our intimacy with Jesus and encourage people in their apathy so as not to offend any or invite division within the camp? No way.
And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Matthew 11:6
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39
When I called the church into the deep in Colorado several years ago, I knew that I would lose many people, a lot of money and even my reputation. Many would be angered that we were picking up the pace and raising the bar—beyond where they were willing to go. I fully understood there was a risk of killing Revolution Church when we did this—and it literally almost happened. Many truly thought I was a madman—and they were right! The remnant came alive to the call and ran with passion, but, sadly, those who were given to this costly, fiery, normal Christianity were very few and far between. I decided early on that I’d rather have a small church on fire with Christians who were ready to invest their very lives than a church of two or three hundred people who gathered around a space heater—and I knew I could have either. A church of 200 would provide a good salary and stability for my family. Good programs and honey-dipped messages would draw the socialites who would invest just enough to provide a cozy, Laodicean environment for all of us. I get sick even thinking of that option—and so does God.
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16
In a world where lukewarm is normal, the common response to an extreme church environment is that it’s not the appropriate church experience, that it’s not for a typical Christian, even though some would agree such a ministry has some value, for some people. An extreme church culture to many is more like a para-church ministry than a legitimate church. It doesn’t fit within their definition of what a church is suppose to be and do. The accusation is that such an extreme focus is only for a small minority of Christians—and then, most probably just for a short season.
I’ve spent years and tears attempting to address this fallacy. Normal church today is that of mildly committed followers of Jesus who put limits on their passion and devotion—it’s children splashing in the shallows. This is not the Christianity of the Bible.
“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ Matthew 11:16-17
Revival Church is not an extreme environment, not even close. However, compared to the user friendly, bread and breakfast version of the church that dominates the landscape of our nation, it does feel like a para-church, over the edge, specialized ministry for the minority instead of the majority. This grieves me—not because I want more people to stuff themselves into our church building, but because the thought of extreme passion feels specialized and uncommon, unwanted and unnecessary.
The church experience in our nation has become more about living a wonderful life instead of dying a remarkable death—and pastors know very well that a focus on surrender versus benefit will result in empty pews and offering plates.
While I would never presume to have a perfect understanding of the function of the church, I am confident on several points—and when I employed these critical elements into our ministry I fully believed that the result would be a sound, vibrant and biblical church. We are para-church in no way. I want to alleviate the fear pastors may have of being accused of not being a legitimate church—when you gather together to pray on fire and release the messages of the Lord, you are modeling the coming church. This is what the church will look like when the reformation is complete! That being said, the accusations will fly, but don’t relent. Stay the course, gather the people and pray.
Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Joel 2:15-17
The call is for every person who has made the radical and costly decision to follow the living God to dive into the fire together. No matter how long we’ve known Jesus, our pace should be the same—intense and fiery.
Have you ever met someone who was recently radically saved? They can’t run fast enough or burn hot enough! Yet, we’ve fallen for the deception that new Christians need to take baby steps! No way, no more!
Extreme church is the only option in today’s end-time climate. The formula is simple—too simple for most—pray with fervent passion together with others several times a week, read the Bible, believe it and respond to God’s mandates with faith and obedience. Pray continually. Live in the spirit. Die daily. Surrender all. Be holy.
This is normal church. It’s a culture of uncommon holiness and passion for intercession where we refuse to be amused by darkness and endeavor to slow the flow to Hell with prayer and action. This is why were are on the Earth.
I believe we would be much closer to the true, biblical model of the church if we did little more than pray nonstop in tongues for two hours on a Sunday morning than what we see today.
The Coming Church
Please understand this point. Consider it. Pray on it.
We live in a day where Christians are boldly, unapologetically defending their measured religious devotion and are denouncing calls to extreme commitment. I hear it all the time—fervency is shunned in favor of the status quo. Can you believe this? Being extreme for Jesus is an unwelcome negative attitude, an invasive intrusion into the well guarded lives of American Christians.
If the thought of the church experience being made up mostly of praying in the Spirit with infusions of apostolic messages and reading of scripture feels incomplete or uncomfortable to you, you will find yourself frustrated and resistant in the coming church.
Change is coming. For example, many are looking for a church with an amazing worship experience where it’s easy to sit back and bask in the atmosphere. In the coming church, in place of polished worship teams, we will see an environment where groans of intercession are echoing in the room—with or without instruments. Everybody will be on their face burning, groaning and crying out as acts of worship in place of today’s Christian karaoke. Imagine gathering together multiple nights a week to hit our faces and groan in intercession together! Most everything else that we’ve come to know in today’s church will be done away with as we all serve as worshiping intercessors in the house of prayer for all nations. We will worship in spirit. In truth.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
This type of a church environment seems extreme, and demanding, and uncomfortable. Yes. Today it will feel like that, but when the reformation and revolution in the church is complete, it will feel normal, and God will call us to yet another level—a level today that we wouldn’t even think is possible. It’s a level, one beyond the level where we are going next, that will result in continual supernatural power. Keep that in mind. If the next level seems extreme, just compare it to what’s coming beyond that!
Again, the coming church, the next level, will be white hot and perfect for every Christian at every maturity level. The prayer room is the only room for the new Believer and the apostolic leaders who are investing into them! This is my heart for Revival Church. I see this model being perfect for people of all levels as it calls everybody into the same place—death and destiny. Everybody gathers, prays, grows and is intentional in their discipleship. It’s intense and life changing. And then, when the remnant does this together in unity, it will be world changing.
Our ministry school, theLab University, is an extreme experience of prayer and maturity—and my view is that the school is closer to a normal, biblical church than churches we see today.
The commitment level at theLab is high (by today’s standards)—we meet together four days and nights a week. We have homework to complete and turn in on a weekly basis. There are prayer events that are required for us to attend somewhere in Detroit every Friday night. We are held accountable for our attendance and participation. Holiness is commanded. We are a family. We are locked in and ready to grow at a rapid rate together. This, my friend, is church. However, in America, it’s para-church. It’s extreme. It’s not for the general Christian. This, again, deeply grieves me.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11
Zeal is not a personality trait! It’s a command!
And he said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.” So he had him ride in his chariot. 2 Kings 10:16
I challenge you—live so boldly that others take notice, and call them to experience your zeal for the Lord! Call them higher! Call them out of the dead and dying manmade American church system that is headed for judgment!
“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. Revelation 3:1
…If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Revelation 3:3
The coming church is what the scoffers and mockers and seekers and disillusioned are waiting for. They want to see a people who are serious about their God, radical in their devotion and done with the imitation religion of our day.
They want to see a church that’s finally devoid of hypocrites—people that won’t be amused by unrighteousness in media that required the death of the one they say they love.
They are waiting for a church that will not only boldly expose the sins of the nation, but also pray night and day for it.
The world needs a church that burns with such love and anointing and holiness and that’s single minded in it’s purpose—to set the world ablaze.
No more programs, productions or promotions. It’s time to pray as the church again. America is waiting.
The last part of this article will deal with different types of churches that millions of Americans are a part of—that are at significant risk. I challenge you to read this article in its entirety and prayerfully consider, in humility, whether you may have fallen into one of these at risk groups. I must also wrestle with this myself.
I’m disturbed. That’s not news, really, as I was created to carry the burden of God for the bride—his church. This results in a life of both continual joy and non-stop grieving—and never-ending bold calls of consecration.
The dissatisfaction with God in our nation has resulted in an attempted upgrade—a 2.0 version of God that meets our demands and fits the picture for the perfect leader. Always happy. Always nice to us. Always working to fulfill our desires. Not inconvenient. His personality matches what we expect in a God.
Exodus 32:7-8 (ESV) 7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’”
The previous verse reveals the motive of the people:
Exodus 32:6 (ESV) 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
The Hebrews were not satisfied with the current version of God, so their 2.0 upgrade was in the form of a golden calf—a god of their own design.
After all, God’s purpose is to perform as we expect him to, right? He is mostly interested in our desires to eat, drink and play, isn’t he?
My God, how far has the church fallen?
Entire movements in our nation have upgraded God to their 2.0 version, and have successfully seduced millions of Christians to abandon the old, outdated, ancient Jesus. The arguments of the emergents have infiltrated the main line church in America.
Before I continue, I have to make an important point. When bold truth is revealed that threatens the status quo of the church, it’s common for those who are invested in that system to accuse the messenger of being unloving or unconcerned for the bride of Christ.
How opposite the reality truly is!
It’s deep, troubling love that causes those who are broken over the compromised bride to sound alarms and shine lights to shake and wake a church that’s in extreme risk of living forever without the Bridegroom!
We must be concerned not for the personal desires and perspectives of those who presume to identify with the bride, but for God himself and his desire for those who are lukewarm or deceived to pursue him with passion!
Josh MacDonald from The International House of Prayer said on a trip to Detroit recently, “This might be shocking to you but 1/2 of the church or more will probably fall away in the end-times.”
That, my friend, is why we must risk offense to let an at risk bride understand just what is at stake. Many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day. That reality haunts me non-stop.
The False Bride
Do we understand that not everybody who calls themselves a Christian actually is? Again, that is why we have an urgent job as forerunners. The false bride, those who think they are Christians but are not, are at extreme risk of burning in Hell for multiplied trillions of years. Actually, forever. We cannot remain silent.
An immediate, and unbiblical response that many people have today is, “It’s not your place to judge.” How many times have you heard that defense from the secular camp? Now, we are hearing it from Christians when their pet sins, false doctrines or structures are threatened!
As Christians, we actually have a very serious responsibility to judge in love! It’s a part of our job description. Pure love of the bride will reveal all that hinders love!
We absolutely have a responsibility to urgently warn. To release messages of awakening. To talk about eternity, about Heaven and Hell. To call people to greater fervency. It’s love that demands this, yet so few are sounding alarms.
If I see a child wandering into oncoming traffic, I don’t really care so much about whether he chose to rebel by running into the street. I’m not thinking about his motives or his error of judgment. I just want to warn him so he isn’t crushed by a bus. Yes, it is that simple. It is that urgent.
At Risk Churches
With that in mind, I want to reveal some major church movements and expressions that are actually opposing the cross. The call of every single Christian is to hear God’s voice, to know him deeply and to intercede for the nations. You can gauge where the general church public is by calling a prayer meeting. The most elementary call for any Christian is to pray…and when Christians avoid the prayer room, it’s a revelation of just where we are as a church in this nation. Frightening.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if most people in the church in America are unsaved.
Leonard Ravenhill said he doubts that 5% of American church goers are actually saved.
I heard someone once say, who had a heavenly encounter, that only 1 in 1000 who die on any given day make it to Heaven. Possibly 99.9% go to Hell. That wouldn’t surprise me, and it grieves me beyond what I can bear. God 2.0 would never support this statistic. He is benevolent and unconcerned with our hearts.
Mike Bickle said that the false-grace message, which is one of the leading causes of people being deceived as a false bride, is more dangerous than the issue of abortion and 54 million baby’s blood crying out in our nation!
Listen closely! This is serious! My God, help us! Masses of people who are convinced that they are saved are actually following Jesus in an unsaved condition right now! Many more will fall away in the future! Who will warn them?
Before we look at the problem churches, we must consider this: We have to resist the urge to presume the current Sunday driven church structure is the biblical norm. If we think we’re functioning normally, we’ll resort to minor adjustments to that system as repairs are needed instead of the destruction of it in favor of the introduction of the biblical church.
When we truly understand this, we’ll devote ourselves to the removal of man made systems and give ourselves to the development of the new.
Most people alive today have no idea what revival is. They have never experienced it. They have no grid for it. So, we default to what we have experienced and try to build on that faulty foundation.
In Matthew, the passage that deals with the money changers follows immediately after another type of church that we’ll discuss next—the Triumphal Entry Church. I find it interesting that these two stories are back-to-back, and that they are events that are closely situated to the drama of the cross. Simply said, the cross of Christ is not only foreign, but resisted.
Matthew 21:12-13 (ESV) 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
The money changers church is possibly the best representation of the current American/Western church. This is a serious issue. This is possibly the most severe and violent reaction from Jesus to a situation when he was still on the Earth.
Note how aggressively Jesus rebuked and resisted the money changers. Why is this?
They were fueled by a spirit of religion. Religion defined is man’s attempt to use God and his church to get what he wants. They were using the temple for personal gain. They were thinking about their own needs and desires instead of ministering to God. They went into the temple with the expectation of leaving with more than they entered with. The call to the church is for us to enter with an offering. A sacrifice. We leave with less than we entered with!
Today, prayer is nearly dead in the church. Additionally, even in churches that support prayer, if every service was cancelled and replaced with prayer meetings, there would be a mass exodus of disappointed people who aren’t getting their desires met. In Acts, the “wait and pray” mandate was resisted by almost everybody. Thank God for 120 who weren’t waiting for a call from a pastor, a pat on the back or the perfect ministry center for their family. They showed up, laid down their agendas and changed the world.
I’ve said it probably thousands of times and I’ll say it again. Our false expectations of what a church should be are resulting in a defiled structure. The church isn’t a house of teaching, a house of evangelism, a house of friendships or even a house of musical worship. It’s a house of prayer first and foremost. The other focuses are important, but secondary at best. Would you stay in a church that prayed as their primary activity? Or would you get frustrated and leave if your demands weren’t met? Is it possible you may be functioning in a similar spirit as the money changers? You go to church to receive instead of to give?
Pastors know most would not stay, so they have all too often traded in their mantle of prophet for salesman. The church product has been altered, spruced up and packaged in a way to let the people know that they will receive the best bang for their buck if they come to their church.
This is grieving, and must end! I am looking for pavement people—those who aren’t looking for comfort, but will hit the pavement and cry out to God as they did in 2 Chronicles 7!!
2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (ESV) 1 As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Long ago as a young, first time church planter, my wife and I would often take visitors out to lunch after the service. I’d do my best song and dance to sell the Revolution Church experience to them. I’d ask what they were looking for in a church, and more times than not I’d encourage them that we’d get right on that! We’d be sure to sell them the product they are looking for!
My brilliant wife would get so frustrated with me! She wanted me to stop the nonsense and simply communicate our vision. Boy, was she right! I was acting in the spirit of the money changers!
I slowly changed my sales pitch. Instead of letting people know how much they would receive if they chose our church for their home, I was reveal the challenge and the cost. I’d let them know that we all pray together 10+ hours a week. We give financially in an extravagant way. We are fervent and burning and calling people into a radical lifestyle—to the cross.
I’d actually try to discourage them from participating if they weren’t on board with the vision! And, surprise! I got more response from that call than I did trying to sell the perfect experience!
Now this is church!
I’ve witnessed first hand how people will flood into an environment that’s full of celebration and exuberance. I enjoy those environments too!
I’ve also witnessed first hand how those same people—those who are dancing at the altar, going after a happy experience, will get sad when the call to the cross is preached. It’s heart wrenching.
The focus of the people at the Triumphal Entry is similar to the focuses in the other churches we are discussing. They wanted their lives to be better. Blessing and personal gain were their motives.
The word “Hosanna” literally means, “save us now.” The people wanted a king who would give them life in a kingdom that would be personally fulfilling. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that desire—unless that’s the extent of the desire.
Matthew 21:8-11 (ESV) 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Notice how there was a measure of sacrifice by the people. They gave their cloaks. They got to work and cut down palm branches. They were exuberant in their worship. I can imagine a spirit-filled environment where people are at the altar dancing and laughing and worshiping. I’ve had that happen in churches I’ve led many times, and it’s great! Many churches are growing with this very positive, happy focus—but, the growth is, in my opinion, often driven by people who will not stay the course if the cross is preached with boldness.
See, Jesus was willing to save them now. However, his methods were nowhere near satisfactory for a crowd of people who were looking for life, not death. Jesus chose the cross as the means to answer their prayers. This crowd of energetic worshipers switched quickly to energetic crucifiers.
I’m all for wild, fervent worship. I am a proponent of continual joy. We should dance and smile a lot. However, we can’t dismiss the burden of the cross and the call to die.
Don’t presume a church is alive just because there’s an electric atmosphere. Human energy and desire can create quite an environment. Wait and see who remains when the call to surrender is high, and the alarms of intercession are sounded.
There is some relation between the Rich Young Ruler church and the Money Changers Church. In both scenarios, personal gain was the focus.
The Rich Young Ruler, however, possessed a sincere desire to follow Jesus. Notice how Jesus reveals this story is all about salvation:
Matthew 19:16-25 (ESV) 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 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.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
I am convinced there are millions of people following Jesus in an unsaved condition. Pastors have affirmed people’s commitment to Christ and, in turn, their eternal security, all while, in many of those cases Jesus knew the deeper truth—they were not willing to surrender all. I believe the sinner’s prayer has probably led more people to Hell than to Heaven. Handled wrongly it gives people false-confidence in their position in Christ.
How many go to church each week, raise their hands in worship, pay their tithes and “follow Jesus” in a very public way, the same way the Rich Young Ruler wanted to—but are actually not saved?
Even Billy Graham admits less than 2% of people who make decisions at his crusades over the years remain true followers of Jesus. Wow!
If you are struggling with this and the truth of your own salvation, that’s good! That’s healthy! I don’t know where it started being negative for us to wrestle with that. Today leaders don’t want to upset people with messages like this out of fear of accusation and ridicule. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling! The disciples in the above passage wrestled with it, and so should we. Let’s see what Jesus says next:
Matthew 19:26-29 (ESV) 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
The most controversial thing I’ve ever said just may be this:
I give myself about an 80% chance of making Heaven.
Is there any part of the Rich Young Ruler in me? Is it possible that I could fall away? It would be arrogant for me to presume that I’m exempt from the great falling away. I wrestle with Jesus and with my own heart—and I love that process.
Again, it’s healthy and necessary to work that out day by day. And, we need pastors and leaders who won’t skirt that tough topic out of fear of losing people who would rather be coddled. It’s possible that the best giver and most vibrant member of your church is on a track that leads to Hell. We can’t stay silent on this issue.
When you understand how deeply God loves you, it’s wonderful to wrestle with the difficult topics. It’s invigorating!
It’s critical! So many will be shocked to enter Hell. We see this proven in scripture:
Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
I’ve written on this previously, so I’m going to be extremely short with this concluding point.
The coming church will be marked by:
- Everybody praying as their primary ministry
- Everybody ministering to God
- Praying in the Holy Spirit will be continual.
- We will be together most days of the week to pray, receive apostolic instruction and move out in unity to fulfill that assignment.
- We will arrive at church full and leave empty—after we’ve poured out to God.
- Friendships will be forged in the foxhole more than at potlucks and picnics.
- The cross will be central.
- Repentance will be continual.
- Freedom will be overwhelming.
- The bar of expectation will be high.
- It will be apostle led more often than pastor led.
Lets see an Acts 2 & 2 Chronicles 7 church arise!
‘All sin is equal.’ Is that true?
This is an excellent article that I felt worthy of a repost. You can see the original article here: http://marshill.com/2013/01/06/all-sin-is-equal-is-that-true?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=marshill&utm_campaign=Mars%2BHill%2BTwitter
When we believe that all sins are equal, it often causes us to not take the problem of sin seriously.
Have you heard this said? Maybe you’ve said it yourself—it’s a common refrain among people, Christians and non-Christians alike.
But is it true?
Why do people say this?
People may use the statement for one of the following motivations:
- They don’t want to be like the Pharisee in Luke 18.
- They want to find common ground with non-Christians.
- They don’t want to be labeled “legalistic” or “judgmental” by others.
These motivations are understandable, but the question still remains whether all sins are equal before God.
Deadly sin, deadlier sin
Sin is the great equalizer. Whether a beggar on the streets or a king in a palace, every single person is—apart from Christ—a sinner both by nature and by choice (Rom. 3:23). Sometimes the sin is obvious and we know what it is, and other times, the wool is totally over our eyes and we have no idea.
All sin is deadly, but there are many passages in the Bible where different types of sin are spoken of as being particularly grievous:
- Numbers 15. This chapter differentiates between sins that are unintentional and sins “of the high hand,” meaning sins that are intentional and rebellious. (Think: middle finger to the sky.)
- Deuteronomy 18:12, 27:15. In the Mosaic Law, certain sins are listed as being abominations, meaning these sins are an offense to God (e.g. sexual sin, improper worship, idolatry).
- Proverbs 6:16–19. Seven things are listed as sins that God hates (and they’re not the seven deadly sins as most people know them).
- Matthew 12:31, Mark 3:29. Blasphemy against the Spirit is said to be an unforgivable sin. (For a good treatment of this subject, listen to Acts 29 pastor Sam Storms’ sermon “So close, yet so very far away.”)
- Luke 20:47. Jesus says that the Pharisees will receive a “greater condemnation” for their sins of religious pride (yikes!).
- John 19:11. Jesus tells Pilate that Judas has committed the “greater sin.”
- 1 John 5:16–17. John differentiates between sin that leads to death and sin that does not lead to death.
In one particularly striking New Testament passage, Paul speaks of sexual sin as being different from all other sin because, “Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). Bible commentators are fuzzy on what the phrase “against his own body” means exactly, but it doesn’t take a Bible degree to see that Paul is urgently, passionately warning his hearers to avoid sexual sin at all costs.
Why does it matter?
All sin is deadly, but there are some types of sin that are so serious that they warrant an extra-impassioned warning, a sterner rebuke, a more drastic plan to avoid temptation. Additionally, some sins are worse than others in terms of their immediate effects. If someone steals a candy bar, sinful as that may be, it does not have the same effect as when someone molests a child.
I am convinced that use of the claim “all sin is equal in the eyes of God” is inaccurate and unhelpful. It is inaccurate because it does not line up with what the whole of the Bible teaches. It is unhelpful because it downplays just how serious the problem of sin really is. Sin, by its very nature, is never satisfied. It grows from bad to worse and leads to death (James 1:15). As the great English preacher John Owen put it: “Every rise of lust, if it has its way reaches the height of villainy; it is like the grave that is never satisfied. The deceitfulness of sin is seen in that it is modest in its first proposals but when it prevails it hardens mens’ hearts, and brings them to ruin.”
When we believe that all sins are equal, it often causes us to not take the problem of sin seriously. This attitude then leads us to not take seriously the biblical command to put our sin to death by the power of the Spirit.
The cross, the cross, the cross
The good news is that regardless of what sin we have committed, forgiveness is found at the cross of Jesus Christ. And when someone sins against us, we can find cleansing and redemption in Jesus. On the cross, Jesus took the beating that we all deserve for our sins. It might not be truthful to tell someone that all sins are equal in God’s sight, but it is very truthful to tell them that all sins can be forgiven because of Jesus’ death on the cross. We can confidently proclaim forgiveness for any type of sin because Jesus rose again on the third day to prove that he was God and that he was able and willing to forgive sinners. What an amazing Savior!
Are you in Christ? Then God has forgiven you for all of your sins—past, present, and future. Jesus Christ shouted from the cross as his final words in triumphant victory, “It is finished!” At that moment, sin was atoned for and sinners were forgiven.
Brownsville Revival Lead Intercessor Lila Terhune at Revival Church THIS SUNDAY!
Lila and her retired Hollywood Stuntman husband Bob lived in Southern California most of their lives.
Lila served as the Intercessory Prayer Coordinator at Brownsville Assembly of God, Pensacola, Fl, from 1995 – 2005.
Additionally, Lila is the author of "Cross Pollination", an international speaker & teacher and she travels extensively, both nationally and internationally to spread revival fire and a passion for intimacy. Lila has a heart and vision for America and the Nations, with a focus on unity in the Body of Christ. Her enthusiasm is contagious, coupled with her love of people and the Word of God is inspiring. Her gift of leading prophetic intercession is sure to take you deep into the presence and glory of God.
Come EARLY for prayer at 5pm THIS SUNDAY and get ready for a night of powerful revival fire at Revival Church!
THE BAY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OUTPOURING
And then, the event of the year lands in Detroit April 19th and 20th with John Kilpatrick and Nathan Morris! I will never forget the power last year, and I’m sure it will be greater this year!
Every revival minded leader, intercessor and fiery Believer should converge for this extremely important and strategic event!
Core, historic biblical truths must be embraced in the church again—and we should expect an unusual supernatural reality to result.
It seems that the weirder the Charismatic camp gets, the more the cross and other key Christian doctrines are minimized. The new wine and fresh revelation often trumps a radical adherence to the very foundational, scriptural truths.
The cross must become central again. Repentance has to well up and cry out of us again. As we return to these core doctrines, we will be surprised to experience the shock and awe of a realm that is so supernatural, so other-worldly, that the most demonstrative Charismatics will pale in comparison.
When the cross is preached in power, miracles, signs and wonders are an expected result.
Matthew 27:51-54 (ESV) 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
When we preach the cross, we’re not just encouraging people to ask Jesus into their heart. True ministry of this earth-shaking (literally) event will result in a drama that we couldn’t invent if we tried.
Did you see what happened when Jesus died? Note, this was before the power of the resurrection! It’s before the keys to death, Hell and the grave were taken! It was at a time of seeming defeat! The power of surrender in this story is phenomenal!
- The curtain was torn—Preaching of the cross will result in eyes being opened and supernatural encounters becoming standard. So many are blind and numb to the volatile invisible realm that’s all around us. The cross grants us access not simply to a hope to enter Heaven when we die, but access into the very presence of a fearful God right now!
- The Earth shook—Get ready! A great shaking will come, a trembling from deep within, as we all grab hold of the bloody cross of Christ. As we embrace our own crosses, and surrender our lives fully, the Earth will shake! I prophesied that this coming revival will result in a literal trembling in us that won’t stop until we leave the planet. Many have been shaking deeply already, and the more the cross is preached, the more it will build.
- Rocks were split—The cross is so powerful that unbreakable, immovable boulders will be shattered in our lives. Deliverance and dramatic freedom comes, and Jesus is the one who receives all of the glory! If you crave freedom, don’t simply plead the blood of Jesus, declare the power of the cross!
- Tombs were opened—What power! A sleeping church is about to be awakened! The offense of the cross will cause some to mock and flee, but the true church will immediately break free from the power of death and slumber and rise up with messages of life on their lips!
- Those who crucified Jesus were filled with awe—God will be praised by even the most vicious attackers! The proof of God’s greatness isn’t in the wisdom of words, but people will be convinced as they watch God’s power explode right before them!
1 Corinthians 1:17 (ESV) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.