A suffocating spirit was out for destruction as we were contending for revival.
I’ve waited fifteen years to write this article. I implore you to read every word.
As young church planters in one of America’s darkest regions, Amy and I along with our two oldest boys, who were little guys back in 2001, launched Revolution Church. The vision was intense and our passion was for revival that would launch in that strategic city and impact the nations.
Manitou Springs, Colorado is famous for its dark history and present liberal leanings. Rumor has it that Anton Levey wrote at least some of the Satanic Bible from his home there. It’s a quirky town at the base of Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs. We started the church there in a 700 square foot office space and then quickly grew to a core of 25 people. We moved to our second of four ultimate locations, a 2000 square foot storefront right downtown Manitou Springs. It’s there where we met Janet (name changed for the sake of this article).
I’ll never forget the Sunday morning service as the sun shined brightly through the large plate glass windows in our small meeting place at the Arcade in Manitou Springs. Janet was a first-time guest, and she seemed to be attempting to engage during the service. Understand, at the time, Christians in Manitou Springs were few and far between, so it was not common to see Spirit-filled people visiting, unless they drove from Colorado Springs. In fact, I was invited to preach at a Manitou Springs festival the first year we were there. The organizer had no idea what he had done! In the middle of my fiery message, a bold declaration of the power and necessity of the blood of Jesus, a tall man in flowing garments stormed to the front and demanded equal time. This alternate religious, New Age leader was agitated by the anointing. It was uncommon in Manitou Springs and his turf was certainly being threatened.
At the end of the service I invited people to come forward to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Janet sprung from her seat and kneeled at the altar. I quickly realized she was not even saved.
After spending time with her, introducing Jesus to her and ministering to her, she boldly asked a question, “Do you ever pray for people in their homes?”
We agreed to meet at her townhouse that week to pray and encourage her. We had no idea what we were about to get ourselves into.
We arrived one evening, sat on the couch and prayed for Janet and her baby. It was an unusual moment for us as I felt little to no anointing. Something was hindering our prayers. Janet confided in us that she had dabbled in witchcraft and was ready to move on from it. I applauded her courage to break away from what I know is a very strong, seductive spirit. She repented of her involvement and we prayed some more. The breakthrough remained elusive. I asked her if she owned anything inappropriate that she should get rid of. She reluctantly admitted she did and disappeared upstairs to retrieve some items.
She emerged down the stairs with a T-shirt with some occult symbolism on it. She also held the witch’s handbook.
She surrendered these two pieces of occult paraphernalia to us, and we again prayed. I thought it would be easier to pray now that she had removed them from her life. I was wrong. Amy and I didn’t understand why it felt so dead in her home, but we had done all we knew to do. We encouraged her again and prepared to leave. She then asked us, “I’ve heard of anointing homes in oil. Do you do that?” I told her to find some Crisco.
We anointed doorways, windows and anywhere else we could dab some oil. After we finished anointing and praying downstairs, I led the way up the staircase. At the top of the stairs I saw a guest room and a bathroom. I also saw Janet’s room. I was not prepared for what happened next.
I stepped into her room and immediately could not breathe. It felt like I stepped into a swimming pool sideways. I was engulfed with a suffocating, heavy, evil presence. I stepped back outside her room. Relief.
I didn’t share my experience with Amy or Janet, but instead prayed through the guest room and bathroom. I then stepped back into Janet’s room. Crushing suffocation.
I attempted to pray in tongues, but there was absolutely no way I could. Every prayer fell dead to the ground.
I urgently asked Janet if there might be any additional items she should throw in the trash. She slowly, casually looked in her closet and pulled out a couple things and placed them on her bed. That didn’t work. I was gasping for air, but not only air, for the breath of the Holy Spirit! We needed God to move in that place, and quick!
I was very direct with her. I said, “Janet! I will not pray for you and you will not find freedom if you don’t immediately eliminate every single thing from your life that is impure!”
I was standing between her bed and the wall, next to her night stand. She placed several more items on her bed, but it was not helping. One final time, as I was ready to get out of there, I said, “There is something you are holding on to that is much more evil than anything you’ve surrendered so far. What is it? No more delay!”
She reluctantly glanced over to the night stand, inches from where I was, and pointed at something I had not noticed. She said, “Well, that’s where I perform my sacrifices.” I looked at a small altar with ashes all over it. Yes, that was it.
She ran down and grabbed a large, plastic trash bag. We renounced what was happening at that altar and threw it away. Immediately I could pray in the Spirit. The wind of the Spirit was refreshing beyond description. The fire in my prayer was a stark contrast to how debilitated I was previously.
Amy then began to pray with Janet and talk with her. I was praying in tongues and doing my best to hear what God was saying. God instructed me to ask Janet about demons visiting her room. God had given me incredibly precise revelation. I revealed to her that those demons require written documentation about her interactions with them. Her jaw dropped and her eyes spread open. She had never been more stunned at something someone said. I read her mail.
She went to the closet and pulled out a stack of at least 20 spiral notebooks. She said she had much more stored on her computer. She confessed that demons visit her every night and terrorize her. She is forced to write about their visits. That is why she invited us to her home. She wanted the demons to leave.
She put the notebooks and many additional things on her bed. Six trash bags of occult and witchcraft materials were taken to the dumpster.
JANET’S STRUGGLE CONTINUES
After that experience in Janet’s tiny townhouse, you’d imagine she would have gone on toward radical deliverance. Sadly, that didn’t happen, at least as far as we know. She disappeared. We aggressively searched for her and finally, after several weeks, did track her down. She would attend church occasionally, but would manifest demonically at times. She aggressively confronted my wife once and then ultimately vanished again. That was the last time we ever saw Janet, well, sort of. Janet was about to visit some people in their dreams.
HALLOWEEN SEASON IN MANITOU SPRINGS
October in Manitou Springs is always extremely volatile. Witchcraft is rampant and the atmosphere in that town is heavy. Creepy. Threatening. Also, it was my favorite time of the year. We knew we were called to contend against the darkness as we we were advancing toward revival.
Each year in Manitou Springs we’d prayer walk the city as we witnessed small fires in the foothills of the mountains ignite. The flames would dance as thought the mountains were alive. Witches were having their meetings, and we were having ours. We’d never consider hosting a harvest party or other event like that on Halloween. It was all out war, a spiritual war, and we had no option but to be alert, armed in the Spirit and on assignment. It was time for prayer.
The attack during October each year was intense. Three years in a row, precisely on October 31st, our oldest son was admitted to the hospital with a severe asthma attack. The suffocating spirit was assaulting him every October, until God gave us some revelation on how the enemy was assaulting us. We responded and the Halloween attacks on him then ceased.
In 2003, two years after we had planted Revolution Church, and quite some time since we’d seen Janet, Amy was pregnant with our third child. One night, in the middle of October, Amy shot up in bed, frantic, and woke me up.
She was shaking. She said she just had a horrifying, vivid dream of Janet wielding a large knife. She drove it into my wife’s stomach and killed our baby.
After praying we went back to sleep, shaken but confident that God was in control. The next morning we awoke and prepared for a scheduled church staff meeting at our home. At the beginning of the meeting, I asked our staff for prayer and started to mention Amy’s dream. I was interrupted by one of our staff members. She said, “Amy, I had a dream about you too last night. It was disturbing. I saw Janet with a knife. She stabbed you in your stomach and killed the baby.”
We were speechless. Another staff member was beside herself. She said, “I didn’t have a dream, but I had an vision about the exact scenario you both described!”
Later that day, a friend of Amy’s who had never met Janet or known anything about her called. She was upset. She didn’t want to scare Amy, but she had to share about a dream she had. “Amy, there was this girl (she went on to describe Janet’s unique appearance precisely), and I saw a large knife in her hand. She attacked you, stabbed you in the stomach and killed the baby!”
Amy and I proceeded to do literally everything we could. We prayed, of course. We stood in our authority. We had a powerful deliverance minister and his team conduct a spiritual house cleaning in our home. They reported it was the cleanest house they had ever been in.
A CHRISTMAS EVE TO FORGET
A couple of months passed, and we had shaken off the disturbances that October visited on our family. In fact, we were excited about a special doctor’s appointment on Christmas Eve. We were going to hopefully discover the sex of our baby!
I will never, for the rest of my life, forget what happened in the waiting room. Amy, our two sons and Amy’s parents were there as we waited our turn to meet with the sonographer. Our appointment was the last of the day and doctors, nurses and receptionists were scurrying around, closing up shop and preparing to head out to various holiday festivities. Joy was in the house!
Suddenly, I felt an extremely heavy, holy blanket of grace descend upon me. My emotional strength suddenly tripled at least. I was spiritually tuned in, sensitive, wondering why God had decided to strengthen me in that manner. I was about to find out.
“Amy Burton,” called the nurse. It was our turn.
Amy and her mom joined me in the ultrasound room. Amy laid back as we were all excited about seeing our wonderful, new baby. The sonographer placed the instrument on Amy’s belly, and instantly removed it.
She said, “Wait here. I need to see if I can find a doctor before they all leave for the day.”
The next two minutes were spent in silence. Joy and gladness gave way to nerves.
The doctor finally arrived, took a quick look, and said, “I’m so sorry, your baby has died.”
WITCHCRAFT KILLED OUR CHILD
The next day was Christmas morning. We did all we could to make sure it was a wonderful one for our boys. We unwrapped gifts as we sat around the tree. Literally every single present I got for Amy was either maternity clothing or a gift for the baby. She carefully unwrapped each as her turn came and placed them in a pile to return to the store.
The following day we were in a hospital room, waiting for Amy to deliver Elizabeth Hope Burton.
As the labor inducement was quite a ways from taking effect, Amy said I could go to a late-night prayer meeting a few blocks away. My phone was kept on and I remained ready to rush back to the hospital at any moment. At that prayer meeting, God again strengthened me. Shortly after returning to the hospital at around midnight, we both met Elizabeth.
The doctor was shocked at the cause of death. It was a cord accident. Cord accidents aren’t unusual, but this particular one was. He said he’d never seen a cord wrapped five times around a baby’s neck. Elizabeth was suffocated to death. Witchcraft killed Elizabeth.
WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD
Amy and I bless Janet. We pray for her, wherever she may be. We don’t hold her accountable in any way. She was a hurting, lost young lady. She didn’t kill Elizabeth. Extremely vile, destructive, evil entities did. At the time, we did all we knew to do to help Janet. We also did all we knew to do to cancel the curse and to wage war against hateful, murderous evil spirits. We failed. We learned.
We lost six more babies after we lost Elizabeth, but we are so blessed to have three wonderful boys and two precious girls in the Burton family.
Amy has been a champion. She has ministered to those who have lost babies to stillbirth or miscarriage. She has cried with them, grieved with them, prayed with them and stood with them.
While our faith was hit, it was not shattered. We have learned over the years to war, to wrestle with the enemy and to contend with faith and passion. Life isn’t about some set of rules that Satan has to obey. He cheats. He hates. He does all he can to rip us to shreds, and he wastes no time finding just the best way to do that.
I know many of you who are reading this are already thinking about theological issues with my story. You might think Christians can’t be touched by witchcraft. You’d be wrong.
The slightest open door or lazy approach to intercession, or pride or even ignorance can give the enemy access. He doesn’t fight fair. He knows our weaknesses. In fact, some of you may be considering Job. He was upright, yet struck.
Understand, the blood of Jesus doesn’t grant us immunity. It grants us authority. We need to enroll in the school of the Spirit and learn how to battle. If we don’t fight, the fight will come to us. If we don’t engage, we will be hit.
I held off for fifteen years in writing this article because it’s not a happy story. But, I realized that so much of today’s church has become inauthentic by only highlighting that which makes us happy.
In order to win battles, and ultimately the war, we have to learn from struggles. We must understand the ferocity of the enemy. We need to be in the Word, in prayer and free from even the slightest sin or compromise.
The lesson we learned was not that we were steeped in sin. We weren’t. We were living holy lives as young though immature Jesus lovers. The lesson is that we must clearly understand that the enemy is ready to pounce, and that we must be ready.
HALLOWEEN IS EVIL—AND NO CHRISTIAN SHOULD PARTICIPATE AT ANY LEVEL
Witchcraft is permeating the atmosphere this and every October. It’s time to war, not party. Pastors, call solemn assemblies instead of holding harvest parties. This is an all hands on deck season.
I’ll leave you with some short bullet points that I posted to Facebook earlier today about Halloween. If you didn’t understand before why I so vehemently renounce this unholy day, you now should.
Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Joel 1:14
Eleven reasons Christians celebrate Halloween
- They don't believe witchcraft is a big deal.
- They wrongly think the way they celebrate doesn't involve witchcraft.
- They incorrectly assume Christians are immune to curses and the power of witchcraft.
- They can't imagine the thought of their kids missing out.
- They celebrated Halloween as children and conclude it didn't have any negative impact on them.
- They wrongly equate it with Christmas, which “also has pagan roots” yet is universally embraced by Christians.
- They believe it can be sanitized and Christianized.
- They believe it's a great opportunity to evangelize, but without exposing the darkness or revealing how wicked the holiday is.
- They have fallen for false-grace deception that allows them to be free and have fun no matter what.
- They haven't experienced the wonder and terror of the spirit realm.
- They lack discernment.
Are you in one of the groups of Christians that will be quick to renounce Jesus? You might be shocked.
Few can argue that we are experiencing a falling away right now. Many are surrendering wholehearted passion for Jesus for other more immediately satisfying, carnal pursuits. Our culture is growing darker by the day.
However, as great as the falling away is today, it cannot compare to what the Bible calls the apostasy, or the great falling away. This will be a far reaching rebellion against God and an abandonment of truth.
3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (ESV)
The Bible makes it clear that legitimate followers of Jesus will, during a time of great pressure, fall away.
9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-14 (ESV)
I’ve often wondered just how easy it will be to renounce Jesus when the pressure intensifies in the End Times. After all, it’s easy for many to excuse apathy, carnality, prayerlessness and other dangerous spiritual lifestyle choices. The ferocity of Satan will be experienced at levels never before fathomed. I believe it will be the norm, not the exception, for Christians to embrace the Beast.
15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666. Revelation 13:15-18 (ESV)
YOUR END TIME THEOLOGY DOESN’T MATTER
Well, actually, end time theology matters a lot. To adopt a position that it’s not important and that it will all just pan out in the end, as I hear so many preachers say, will put you and those you influence into serious eternal jeopardy. I firmly believe churches must regularly teach on eschatology and must facilitate a culture that keeps it at the forefront. The life of the church must be driven by the truth that Jesus is returning and that we must be prepared for our role during that key season.
What I meant by saying your end time theology doesn’t matter is that we will all have equal opportunity to reject Jesus—or to go deeper with greater devotion into his love—regardless of when Jesus returns. While the events of the Tribulation, which I personally believe all Christians will experience, will make it extremely easy to reject God, we will all have the chance to fall into deception, rebellion, carelessness and a carnal lifestyle.
9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” Revelation 14:9-11 (ESV)
While I believe we will have a clear, specific opportunity to either take a physical mark or reject it (which will seal our eternal fate), the truth remains that we can align with the Beast now. We can befriend him and adopt his philosophies and his attributes, either overtly or subtly. For most, it’s subtle. They remain convinced they are saved, secure and a follower of Jesus while living in great deception.
GROUPS THAT WILL EASILY RENOUNCE JESUS WHEN THE PRESSURE INTENSIFIES
My wife and I attended a stage production that left my spirit troubled. It was a fictional presentation of events during the Tribulation. A family was living in a prison camp during the reign of the antichrist, doing their best to survive day to day, wondering if they might ever escape, or die at the hands of their enemies.
During one scene, a soldier offered to make a deal with the patriarch of the family. If he signed a decree renouncing Jesus, they could all immediately go free. The soldier then left, giving them time to consider the offer. The father was at the end of himself. He wanted desperately to save his family, and every other attempt had failed. What happened next was grieving.
Sitting at the table with the document and a pen in front of him, he told his family he was going to sign it. He picked up the pen, but his daughter stopped him. She made it clear that it wasn’t worth it to trade his soul for a few more weeks, months or years of life on the earth. Dying was better than eternal damnation. So far so good.
But then, the father, in an important teaching moment in the production said something to the effect of, “Daughter, this is just a piece of paper. It doesn’t matter if I sign it or not. Nothing could ever affect the reality that Jesus lives in my heart and yours.” That’s where the grief hit me. Yes, signing the paper, taking the mark, abandoning truth, taking the easy way out absolutely does affect our eternities.
The Bible directly reveals that those who do so will drink the wine of God’s wrath. (Revelation 14:10)
So, it’s clear there are Christians who believe that their lifestyles and decisions won’t impact their eternities. Here are some groups to consider:
THOSE WHO SUBSCRIBE TO ETERNAL SECURITY
It was obvious to me that the writer of the play that we watched was most probably part of one of the many mainline denominations that affirm the doctrine of eternal security.
I so appreciate what many of the godly men and women in these particular movements bring to the Kingdom. However, this one belief can do deep damage to Christendom, leading millions astray. It will be extremely easy, just as we saw in the End Time production, to wrongly assume that our actions have no impact on our eternal standing. The truth is that we are only safe if we conquer, overcome and endure to the end.
5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. Revelation 3:5 (ESV)
THOSE WHO AFFIRM FALSE-GRACE DOCTRINE
I’ve written on false-grace dangers often, and won’t add to it here, except to say that the number of people at risk of renouncing Jesus is rapidly increasing due to this movement. If all of our sins are forgiven past, present and future, then taking the mark of the Beast is a non-issue. In fact, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, sexual immorality, unforgiveness and any number of other sins won’t impact our eternity if we believe in God’s grace as taught by these teachers.
The deception is so dangerous as personal action and responsibility are removed entirely from the picture. The truth is that our actions absolutely do impact our eternity.
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV)
THOSE WHO AREN’T ON FIRE FOR JESUS
A raging, burning passion for Jesus is non-negotiable. In fact, it’s crazy that anyone would ever have to broach this topic. We are either on fire for Jesus or we are lukewarm, or possible cold and dead. Period. To endure the End Times, we must have an anointing radiating out of us. We need to be so intimate with Jesus that our love of him could never be sacrificed for temporal relief. Those who refuse to take the mark of the Beast will be radically in love and on fire for Jesus.
15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16 (ESV)
THOSE WHO DON’T HAVE A LIFESTYLE OF PRAYER
A prayerless Christian is really a confounding concept. An oxymoron. Sadly, most Christians, it seems, are nearly prayerless. In fact, most churches are as well. We must be living, walking and praying in the Spirit, night and day if we hope to survive the coming pressure. You’ll remember Jesus warning his disciples to stay awake and pray so they don’t fall into temptation. Do you know what temptation Jesus was referring to? Rejecting Jesus, as they did when the pressure increased and Jesus was taken away for crucifixion.
41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 (ESV)
THOSE WHO DON’T LIVE HOLY LIVES
Christians who excuse away foul language, nudity and other immorality in movies, television and other media are setting themselves up for an eternity separated from Jesus. They are convinced that embracing certain sins won’t have any impact in their lives on earth or their eternities, therefore, taking the mark will be an easy decision for them. Surely God doesn’t really care about this the way some Christians might argue, right? Wrong.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)
THOSE WHO ARE OFFENDED AND REBELLIOUS TO AUTHORITY
If you are easily offended, especially by those who are in authority, you are setting yourself up for a great fall. The antichrist will be the authority you have been looking for, giving you want you want—for a time. It’s critical to learn now how to love well, how to forgive and how to honor authority that God puts in your life. If you think authorities in your life are unfair now, just wait until the end comes. Jesus will be giving leadership in a way that many will deem unfair. Will you have learned how to submit to unfair authority and how to trust God’s leadership in your life? It’s absolutely mandatory that you do.
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Romans 13:1-2 (ESV)
THOSE WHO ARE NOT CONNECTED IN A LOCAL CHURCH
We will need each other more than ever as the pressure intensifies. The church will certainly look much different during the Tribulation than it does now, but one truth will remain—we will be together.
We must learn how to lock arms and contend together if we hope to survive in the end. The Bible gives us this instruction, especially as the Day draws near.
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
There are other groups that are at risk of falling away. Many of them, in fact. There are some obvious ones that I haven’t addressed here such as seeker sensitive churches and those who don’t affirm the gifts of the Spirit. There are some that are not as obvious too. Those who have adopted pre-Trib rapture theology, Preterists and others are at greater risk as well. But, don’t let this become an argument about the timing of end time events. This is about attitudes and decisions and belief systems that impact us at any point on the timeline.
We must be ready. Jesus is coming again soon. That is one point we must simply have to agree on.
Halloween: Christians are putting their families at great risk by participating in Halloween at any level.
“Success for the Christian will depend in a large measure on recognizing the work of the devil and knowing how to defeat and expel him from every situation…” ~Michael Harper
Listen to an old but powerful teaching on the dangers and wickedness of Halloween at www.thefurnace.tv/media titled Halloween: The Invitation.
Over my last 25 years of ministry, I have had many encounters with witchcraft and the evil that is celebrated on Halloween, and I implore you to trust me: If you participate in Halloween at any level, you are at risk. There is nothing innocent about it and there is no way to sanctify it. The stories I could tell would make your skin crawl.
The level of demonic activity around the world on this night should result in millions of Christians gathering together to pray on fire in response.
We must understand that a key role for us as Christians is to expose darkness. Strangely, instead of doing that with anointing and passion, when October rolls around, Christians—actual blood bought servants of a holy God—are actually enjoying and promoting darkness. If we understood the evil that surrounds this unholy day, we’d shout from the rooftops the danger and evil that is overcoming our culture.
There are things we are being entertained by that required a nail to be driven into the wrist of Jesus. Halloween is one of these things, and not only can we not participate, we must violently tear down this altar to Satan. As Believers we must not dance with the devil. We must expose his lies.
Instead of wondering how to allow our kids to enjoy a more sanctified version of Halloween, we should understand that Halloween is a prime opportunity for Christian parents to teach their children about consecration and opposition to wickedness in our culture. We must teach them to deny their flesh and reject the spirit of the age that’s compelling them to bow!
I propose we eliminate all supposed Christian Halloween alternatives and instead make it clear that we as Christians will have nothing to do with such a demonic celebration. We wouldn't look for an alternative to a night devoted to murder or child abuse, so how can we attempt to do so with a night devoted to witchcraft? It's an abomination. In fact, I'd argue that Halloween is in fact celebrating murder and child abuse.
Instead of seeking an innocent alternative, hold a late night prayer meeting, with all of the kids and the entire family. Prayer walk the city. Pray in the Spirit. Instead of ignoring late night coven meetings as begin, we must counteract them with late night Holy Spirit intercession meetings. Instead of festivals to the dead, we need festivals of revival. We must aggressively expose the darkness and reject the party that is seducing our generation of youth.Reformers will irritate the church and the world, and with this issue many Christians and pagans are hand in hand. A holy irritation must come.
One of my favorite nights of the year when leading Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado was October 31st. While witchcraft was filling the atmosphere in that extremely liberal town driven by the occult, we would dive into intense, raging prayer in the church and in the streets.Tom Sanguinet, former high priest in the Celtic tradition of Wicca (witchcraft) said, “Halloween is purely and absolutely evil, and there is nothing we ever have or will do that would make it acceptable to the Lord Jesus.”
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” Eph 5:11-14 (NKJV)
“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who…practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium, or spiritist or who consults the dead? Deuteronomy 18:9-11
The enemy’s strategy is to trap people, to ensnare them. The idea is that the person who is trapped is unsuspecting. They didn’t realize it was coming. Halloween is not a trap—it’s’ an outright invitation. This is what makes it so shocking that Christians could even think of participating in Halloween at any level.
Witches consider Halloween to be a high holy day. With such an important holiday, witches often hold two distinct celebrations. First, a large Halloween party for non-Craft friends, often held on the previous weekend. And second, a coven ritual held on Halloween night itself, late enough so as not to be interrupted by trick-or-treaters. If the rituals are performed properly, there is often the feeling of invisible friends taking part in the rites.
Noted New Age Researcher Texe Marrs said this about the activities of witches on Halloween. “…our own research confirms that on this unholy night [Halloween], witches' covens meet, drink, dance, spit out curses and spells, conjure up spirits, engage in sexual orgies, induct new members, and offer up animal and human sacrifices. (Witches have become expert at covering up these sacrifices by use of cremation ovens and the use of privately owned land preserves for disposal of bodies in deeply dug graves.)”
Again, the terrible things Halloween represents must be exposed. Consider why costumes were worn.The early origin of costumes is repulsive. On the evening of October 31st, the Druids, who were the occultic priests and teachers of the Celts, ordered the people to put out their hearth fires. The Druids built a huge new year's bonfire of oak branches, which they considered sacred. They burned animals, crops and human beings as sacrifices to their sun god Muck Olla and Samhain, their god of death. During this diabolical ceremony the PEOPLE WORE COSTUMES made of animal heads and skins. They then practiced divination, looked for omens in the struggle of the victims sacrificed in the fires, jumped over the flames or dashed through them, danced and sang. All of this was done to frighten the evil spirits away.
Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thess 5:22
Children in costumes celebrating a night of candy and fun is not innocent. It’s an invitation into wickedness and it’s a dangerous affirmation of the evil spirit of the age. Lives truly are at stake.
Dave Benoit tells of a mother finding a strange diary, called “The Book Of Shadows” in her son's room. She with fear and trembling leafed through pages filled with Satanic drawings. Then her eyes fell on these horrifying words, “Last year I stole a car at Halloween and ran over a kid and killed him. This year, at Halloween, I plan to do the same thing!” The words in his satanic diary proved to be true. The teenager is now incarcerated. He murdered a kid as a sacrifice to Satan.
“It is the night before All Saints Day. It is the night when evil spirits roam the earth. It is the night for necromancy, the conjuring of evil spirits. It is the devil’s night. The image of a toothless hag flying on a broomstick might seem comical to most, but if you keep in mind the black witches that really do exist then those rituals on All Hallows Eve are not so comical. I have seen them. I have heard them. I know they exist.” ~Unknown
Those who practiced fortune telling and divination found that this was the night that they had the most success. To Witches, Halloween is one of the four High Holidays, or Greater Sabbats, or cross-quarter days. Because it is the most important holiday of the year, it is sometimes called ‘The Great Sabbat’, or the Black Sabbath.
Yes, Halloween is pure evil through and through. More than any other night of the year, Christians have a chance to let their light shine as they expose the darkness.
October 31st must be a night of intercession, not a party.
Church, wake up and pray with passion for an increasingly dark world. That is my invitation.
“Many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”
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. 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. For them, there is truly no hope.
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.
I’m shocked at the number of people who are convinced that people are often, by default, considered Christian simply because they mentioned God at times or have given indicators of religious interest. Do we understand that MANY professing Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day? I’m talking about people living lives much more spiritually remarkable than those with simple religious interest ever did. Tongue-talking, Bible-reading, tithe-paying, hungry-feeding, naked-clothing Christians—many of them pastors and other ministers—will be cast into eternal fire. If even some of the most passionate appearing people in the church will not make Heaven, we should at least stop and consider that those who are less in love with Jesus could be at risk. It’s common sense.
1 “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. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:1-2 (ESV)
Now, for all of you who misunderstood the intent of this article, I want to make a very clear statement:
I do not know where specific people will be spending eternity. I am grieved when their lifestyles don't make the analysis easier. I am shocked more Christians aren’t sufficiently discerning concerning this.
The Bible tells us there is to be clear evidence of a person’s salvation. We shouldn’t be left guessing or hoping. This is why we have to talk about people who die leaving questions:
9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:9-10 (ESV)
I'm honestly disturbed that SO MANY people are using the deathbed conversion possibility as their excuse to eliminate any discussion about eternity. People have been declared to be in eternity with God because of a last minute radical life change that led to repentance. Yes friend, that is the hope that people are hanging on. Is it possible for it to happen that way? Sure. Statistically speaking however, the chances of someone rejecting Jesus their entire life suddenly falling in love with him and surrendering their lives to them is astronomically low. And, attempting to get saved at the last moment because of fear of death just won’t cut it. It’s self-serving instead of God-honoring. That is not true salvation. Unless it is true surrender, it doesn’t work.
Do we have any idea how rare it is to make Heaven? People are always declaring RIP…rest in peace…over people who have died. They say they are now in a better place. That's rarely true. The reason people say it is to provide false peace to those who remain behind—including themselves.
The reason we need to have this discussion is to awaken people to the reality of Hell. If people think they can be casual about their submission to God and that they can just repent when they die, their eternity is pretty much sealed.
PROFESSION BASED SALVATION
Somewhere in the recent world of instant and easy everything, people have fallen for the lie that a simple, casual declaration of the divinity of Jesus is all it takes to be saved. This is ludicrous.
I know, some of you are already warming up your fingers to type a response accusing me of promoting works based salvation. Let me spare you the effort. I’ve heard your accusations and arguments. I don’t believe in works based salvation. I also don’t believe in faith only salvation.
In 1983, a man by the name of R.T. Kendall wrote: Whoever once believes that Jesus was raised from the dead, and confesses that Jesus is Lord, will go to heaven when he dies. But I will not stop there. Such a person will go to heaven when he dies no matter what work (or lack of work) may accompany such faith.1 Later, he expanded on this saying: “I therefore state categorically that the person who is saved – who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes in his heart that God raised Him from the dead – will go to heaven when he dies no matter what work (or lack of work) may accompany such faith. In other words, no matter what sin (or absence of Christian obedience) may accompany such faith.”
This is clearly unscriptural. There is a cost to discipleship. Evidence of salvation will always follow true salvation. Everything has changed for the person who has encountered and surrendered to Jesus.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Matthew 7:18-20 (ESV)
…I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:2 (ESV)
16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. Titus 1:16 (ESV)
We cannot simply profess that we are Christians and presume we are saved. There’s a lot more that we have to consider.
We must exhibit evidences of salvation:
- We will refuse to walk in darkness: 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1 John 1:6 (ESV)
- We reject sin: 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:9-10 (ESV)
- We obey: 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 1 John 2:3-4 (ESV)
- We follow after holiness: 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. 1 John 2:29 (ESV)
Additionally, Intimacy with Jesus is a key component of salvation.
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.’ Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)
The goal of God is to know us, and to be known by us. That is the definition of intimacy.
1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV)
A simple profession of faith is insufficient when it comes to our salvation—radically so, in fact.
Is your lamp full of the oil of the Holy Spirit? Do you see the difference between simply professing and going on with life and actually cultivating a life of extreme intimacy with Jesus?
Some of you might be thinking back to your old Sunday School classes. Don’t we just have to believe on Jesus? Let’s look at that:
16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:16 (ESV)
The loaded word in this scripture is believes. This does not refer to an intellectual acknowledgment of the existence of God, or even of his divinity. To believe means much more. True belief results in significant spiritual fruit. This is one reason why it’s stunning to me that Christians don’t want to attend prayer meetings. Connecting with Jesus in a close, intimate way through prayer is a fruit. Show me someone who loves to pray and we’ll be looking at someone who is in a great place regarding their relationship with Jesus. It’s not the final word, but it’s a great indicator for sure.
If we keep reading beyond verse 16, we’ll see just what true belief looks like:
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.]] Mark 16:17-20 (ESV)
Mark records the above passage as the final words of Jesus before he left the earth. These are pretty important instructions.
How can we look at celebrities or any other person who gives a casual thanks to God or simply acknowledges his existence, or even those who have an affinity for Jesus and so quickly presume they are saved—and when they die that they are so obviously in Heaven? Such a stance is reckless and irresponsible. It’s opening the door for millions of others to presume casual, carnal Christianity is their key to salvation.
No, salvation requires much more. MUCH more. Even those who are truly saved are but a breath away from eternal damnation.
And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 1 Peter 4:18
I want to strongly encourage you to read a much more in depth article I wrote regarding this topic before you leave comments:
I never thought a simple comment would result in such a reaction.
“I give myself an 80% chance of making Heaven.”
There it is. A clear and simple comment that has provoked people into honest pondering at the least and vicious personal assaults at the worst.
Before I continue, allow me to provide some context. This message is intended for those who believe that a Christian can lose their salvation. We have to have a common starting point. Those who subscribe to the doctrine of eternal security (once saved, always saved) will certainly be at least intrigued by this article, but many of their arguments will be unaddressed. I’m not going to attempt to debate their position in full here, but I am going to present what I hope to be a clear breakdown of why I am so convinced of my perspective.
My estimation is that I will spend eternity with Jesus, but it is not a guarantee. If it was, I would, by definition, be an adherent to the doctrine of eternal security. I am not.
Simply, if you don’t believe in eternal security, that means that every current Christian will have an opportunity to lose their salvation—to turn from Jesus. And, no current Christian would ever presume that they would do such a thing, but nonetheless many certainly will.
Why would we be immune from that temptation while multitudes of other Christians are not? I definitely am not immune.
Mat 24:21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.
Many current lovers of Jesus will be deceived (even the elect) by extremely convincing yet false moves that have the name of Jesus attached directly to them.
1 Tim 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons…
Those who are currently in the faith are at risk. I am currently in the faith. I am at risk.
I and others more scholarly than myself have written on the dangerous false/hyper/unbiblical grace doctrines that are on the rise. You can read my previous articles to gain a better understanding of the theology here:
The reason I need to briefly address unbiblical grace in this article is to highlight a common thread that is woven through both of these talking points.
There seems to be an increasing desperation with people who are convinced that they simply cannot experience freedom from sin. Their last hope is a theology that overlooks their overpowering inclination to repeated failure. So, any teaching contrary to a quasi-universalistic viewpoint becomes a threat to their hope of eternal security.
I am absolutely sympathetic to those who are in bondage to sin. It breaks my heart that they are living in struggle and torment most every day of their lives and I am devoted to seeing them find radical, complete liberation!
The answer, however, is not unbiblical grace that would simply overlook repeated, intentional sin, but rather, true grace that actually gives supernatural power to be free from sin!
It’s from this place that I understand that I cannot continue in intentional sin and hope to live forever with Jesus. I will have many opportunities to live in sin, to intentionally gossip, lust, hate, to refuse to forgive, to lose my love. I, John Burton, must die daily, must take up my cross and must allow God to continually reveal the issues of my heart so I can turn, change and fall deeper and deeper in love with Jesus. If I don’t, I can presume that my name will be blotted out of the book of life.
Rev 3:5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
It’s simple. Pressure to turn from Jesus is only going to increase as the end draws near, and it will be so severe that many will turn from Jesus to avoid persecution and death. Imagine living during the Tribulation without the ability to buy, sell or trade. If we don’t take the mark we will have no access to medical care, food, communication tools, or much of anything else. Imagine what that will be like when Christians will have to move out of their homes because their bank accounts are closed. They can’t rush an injured child to the emergency room. They will lose everything including all natural hopes for survival. Will the pressure be high to take the mark, to turn on Jesus? Absolutely—and it’s fairly easy to presume that most will bow to that pressure. Will I? From a place of comfort it’s easy to say I won’t. It’s from a place of wisdom, however, that I must more carefully analyze that sobering question. Yes, I will be at risk of bowing.
With such a provocative statement it’s easy to make incorrect presumptions about what I really mean and what has driven me to that conclusion. I will address some of these here.
I’m confident that if I died TODAY that I’d be with Jesus forever.
I believe we absolutely can have a certain measure of confidence in our position in Christ. We are saved by the grace of God. The power of the blood of Christ is indescribable and I am fully dependent on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. As I respond to his gift and live in repentance, from a place of loving surrender and intimacy with him I know he has me. He’s mine and I’m his. If I died today, I’m quite confident I’d be welcomed into glorious eternity.
What I am not sure of (as nobody can be) is what decisions I will make TOMORROW. My very strong free will will always provide me the opportunity to lose my love, to fall into sin and to become lukewarm.
Rev 3:15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
It must be said that tomorrow can come very quickly, and my reaction to the drawing of the Spirit of God today is critical. I know that I can slip into a state of presumption, convinced that all is well when actually I have compromised my position in Christ.
See how the passage in Revelation chapter three continues:
Rev 3:17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
If you jump back to the beginning of the chapter you’ll see this:
Rev 3:1 “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. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
Am I, John Burton, somehow exempt from the fate that so many other current Christians will suffer due to their continued sin? Absolutely not. It would be quite arrogant to say that I, John Burton, don’t have to repent, can continue in sin, can fall asleep, can become lukewarm at some point in the future and will not suffer the consequences. There will be a great falling away, and I must stay alert to avoid becoming a part of that tragically massive group of people.
So, my life is focused on staying awake and strengthening what remains—and alerting others to do the same. The resulting passionate life for Jesus is well worth the internal introspection!
I don’t believe that one sin in the life of a Christian will automatically send you to Hell.
God loves us. He understands that we are in a process of sanctification and some failure is to be expected.
It’s our reaction to that failure that is so important. The Bible is a story of redemption and it should go without saying that we can fail and then embrace redemption, forgiveness and enjoy the hope of the prodigal.
However, if we choose to continue in sin, without repentance, without turning from darkness to Jesus, we absolutely are at risk of Hell. The Bible makes it so clear that it’s shocking that it’s even debated.
Heb 10:26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The answer? Live a life of wonderful, joyful repentance. Run into the arms of our Father at the point of failure. Repent. Turn. Fall in love with him again and enjoy a glorious forgiveness and a refreshed relationship with God.
I do believe we don’t ever have to sin again.
One of the reasons unbiblical grace is so popular is because so many Christians presume that we are all expected to sin every day. How tragic a theology that must be to live out!
We are no longer sinners. We are saints. True grace is so powerful that it enables us to live free from sin! If we sin every day, we have a sin problem and we should certainly be shocked into reality.
Of course, there’s a famous verse that’s pulled out in support of the idea that we are all continuing in sin:
John 8:7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.
So, the argument is that we are all with sin. The problem with that argument? Jesus followed up the analysis of the situation with a command that could only be obeyed via the grace (power) of God:
John 8:10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
Sin no more. Don’t sin again. Stop sinning. That was the message.
It was clear that Jesus expected this woman to live free from sin, and certainly from a life of daily sin!
Often when I state that we don’t have to ever sin again I receive a snarky comment in response: “So, how’s that working out for you, John?”
That reply exposes the condition of the person’s heart and reveals the point I’m trying to make. People feel hopeless against the power of sin and are attempting to use grace to cover it instead of eradicate it. This belief is tragic—and dangerous. It moves us quite close to a fearful judgment:
Heb 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
I don’t live my life in fear of Hell.
The most common presumption that people have about me when they hear me say that I am not convinced I’ll end up in Heaven is that I must be living in great fear. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
I am full of joy and am experiencing an abundant life in Jesus! Check this out:
1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
There is no fear in love. There are many who “got saved” to avoid torment in Hell. That is their motivation and their theology is keenly focused on the eradication of any threat of eternal torment. Though I have had an encounter with Hell, and I understand to a very small degree the horror associated with that place, I would never attempt to use God to avoid it. God isn’t one to be used for our own selfish pursuits. God is to be loved with immeasurable passion!
Let’s continue reading the passage in 1 John 4:
1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
It’s not a theology of eternal security that casts out fear, it’s love. And, this is where it gets a bit more serious. It’s possible to subscribe to a theology that ensures our salvation while also hating someone—and go to Hell.
So, my focus isn’t on avoiding Hell. I’m not living in torment. If I were, I’d know that love was not being perfected in my life and I would certainly have cause for concern. My barometer is the manifestation of love in my life. My daily goal and continual desire is to be with Jesus in a place of joyful, love driven encounter. I crave his presence. I yearn for a deeper intimacy with him. I am free, alive and thankful for what Jesus has done for me. I have no fear. But I am sober. I am alert.
I don’t believe it’s easy to lose your salvation.
For those who are truly saved, who have put their faith in Jesus and are following him, I believe it takes quite a set of circumstances to lose that salvation.
Remember, it’s intentional, continual sin that does not result in repentance the will eventually result in separation from Jesus. If we are actively wrestling with our flesh, dying daily, growing in sanctification and trusting in God’s justification, we are in a very good place!
However, if we refuse to repent and live a life of sin, no matter how insignificant that sin may seem to be, we should be very alarmed.
Again, the Bible is a book about redemption. We can look at the lives of many godly people who failed miserably yet are still considered giants of the faith. Their common thread? They turned back to God.
Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
Luke 17:3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,' forgive him.”
Rev 2:5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
2 Pet3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
I do understand the miraculous, glorious work of the cross.
One accusation that I’ve heard is that I am lacking in revelation of just how comprehensive and powerful and conclusive the work of the cross is in the lives of Christians.
I won’t pretend to have a perfect revelation, but this accusation couldn’t be further from the truth.
Check out the doxology in Jude:
Jude 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
God is great! He is able to keep us from stumbling—but only if we are in agreement with it. If we choose to stumble of our own volition, we absolutely will.
The power of the blood of Jesus is worthy study and we will be growing in understanding of it for all of eternity. We have truly been set free from the penalty of sin and sin itself! We can be free, joyful, prosperous, empowered and abounding in love every moment of our lives!
The issue isn’t a lack of revelation of God’s greatness, it’s an overestimate of mankind’s devotion. I know God loves me, but do I love him? Will I be at the foot of the glorious cross when the pressure is high or will I run? Will there be a better offer, like thirty pieces of silver in a financially trying time? These are the questions that I keep in front of me as I grow in love and revelation of the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.
I do believe we must stay awake, pray and watch.
The key reason I believe we must see the prayer movement escalate, and contend for every Christian to become invested in continual prayer is that the temptation to fall will be overwhelming as the end draws near.
Mat 26:40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
The command is to watch and pray so that we may not enter into temptation. Just what temptation was Jesus referring to? Notice who he was talking to. He was telling Peter to stay awake, to watch, to pray, because his flesh would certainly give in to the temptation that was coming very soon—the temptation to deny Christ.
He slept and he sinned.
Rev 3:1 “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die.This the warning for casual, sleepy Christians today.
I was watching a TV show called They Shouldn’t Be Alive. It’s a series of survival stories that depict various adventures that should have ended in death—but somehow did not.
This particular episode told the story of a man who was canoeing alone down a river through the Grand Canyon. His boat overturned and he lost it and all of his supplies. He was cold and wet and the temperatures were quickly plummeting under the night sky. He was able to build a fire and he warmed himself as he sat under a massive cliff. He had no way of escape and his only hope was to survive the night.
The Holy Spirit got my attention as the narrator said, “If he falls asleep, and the fire goes out, he dies.”
This is the story of today’s church.
It is shocking to me how many supposed Spirit-filled Christians are actually coming out against the prayer movement. They make statements like, “While you are hiding away behind the four walls of the church I’m out evangelizing the lost.” I would be the first to argue that winning souls is a primary mandate for the church—and it’s funny when people presume I would believe any other way. However, I don’t believe we’ll have anything to offer other than religion and false hope to desperate sinners if we aren’t bathed in a lifestyle of never ending prayer.
Mat 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
We are commanded to go behind closed doors and pray. This is where the term prayer closet originated.
Simply, if someone isn’t active in continual prayer they won’t be of much value in the work of the Kingdom. They will be at risk of sleep and spiritual death. They will attempt to move in the flesh when a discerning spirit is what is required.
Mat 26:50 Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
Peter famously did what a sleeping, spiritually dull person would do—he reacted in the natural. He was aggressive and instant in action. He was protecting Jesus. Yet, he was wrong. This was the beginning of a great fall for Peter and it came due to many reasons, none greater than his prayerless, sleepy lifestyle.
Will I ever be tempted to stop watching, to fall asleep and to fall into temptation. Of course. And, as the end draws nearer the pressure to do so will only increase.
I don’t believe the state of our position in Christ is a mystery.
One of the questions I always have when someone struggles with this statement, that I give myself an 80% chance of making Heaven, is this: why not just live a life of joyful repentance?
We don’t have to worry and wonder whether we are in a good place with Jesus or not. If we sin, we repent. Period. It’s extremely simple.
We shouldn’t have to struggle with this at all. I don’t. If I sin, I repent. That being the case, why would I presume there is still a chance I can go to Hell? It’s also simple: there may come a day that I lose faith and refuse to repent—and continue in intentional rebellion to the point where my name is blotted out of the book of life.
Mat 24:9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
And, there it is. When unparalleled tribulation, trial, murders and mass hatred comes to the church (it already has in other nations in a significant measure) many in the church will be offended. Betrayal, hatred and lawlessness will come and then love will grow cold. Cold love is the key to eternal separation from God.
In the face of such a great assault, there will be some who endure—and those are the ones who will be saved. Will I be a part of that remnant group? I don’t know. God’s pulling for me. But, it’s fully up to me.
I want to encourage you to read my book The Terror of Hell. This is the awakening that caused me to take my salvation very seriously. I had an encounter with the forces of Hell, and God spoke very clearly to me afterwards: John, many current Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”
Read my latest article in Charisma Magazine: Unsaved Christians
There is a glorious salvation to be had, and the enemy has tainted powerful, life-giving theologies in an attempt to counterfeit them—and draw people away from the one true God. God's passion is for people to be wildly in love with Him, and that is what the enemy is afraid of. Instead of radical intimacy and passionate obedience, people are falling for a lesser, false doctrine that communicates God's apparent affirmation of them and affection for them—and it is resulting in a faux closeness to him for millions of “Christians.”
Our salvation is glorious and it is also weighty. We can't presume upon it or take it lightly. I suggest it's possible that most people who are convinced of their position in Christ would actually be in Hell if they died today. I will share some convincing and powerful stories that speak directly to further down in the article. People like Corrie Ten Boom, John Mulinde and Daniel Ekechukwu have a perspective that few others do.
The concept of unsaved Christians seems contradictory. I understand that. A Christian is a follower of Jesus. I am suggesting that there are many followers of Jesus, many who name the name of Christ, who are living their lives following him in an unsaved condition.
I reference two articles that will give you loads of scriptural support for the positions I take in the video:
You will want to check them out as you watch.
It’s shocking to me how sharply resistant Christians can be when the doctrine of salvation is discussed. Many have been lulled into a state of false-comfort through incredibly dangerous and fast spreading theologies—and anything that would threaten their confidence is reacted to fiercely. A pastor once told me that the most violent reaction from Christians against him comes when he deals with false-grace.
Titus 2:11-15 (ESV) 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. 15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
My life message is to awaken the comfortable, sleeping church and declare the true, empowering grace of God.
It’s not a message that I chose. In the natural that would be insanity as my fervent attention to it has brought trouble and grief not only to me but to my family. We’ve lost friends and awakened enemies we didn’t know we had.
Here’s an email from our great friend Julia Palermo:
Hi John! I wanted to let you know that the Lord has really put you, Detroit Revival Church and the city of Detroit on my heart the past few weeks. I’ve been following your posts and just carrying you all in my heart. I feel like you are very much in need of extra prayer coverage as you are stepping out very boldly in some areas of proclamation of the truth. Just wanted you to know that I am going to be praying for you and for the church. Would love to talk some time and hear what the Lord is doing. Though I think this bold stand may cost you in some sense, I truly feel that for the remnant who receives these messages and signs up to pursue Him in holiness, He is going to come with His fire and His presence. I believe you are going to experience some times of such a weight of his holiness and nearness in the room that people will only be able to weep on the floor and won’t move for hours. You have not seen before what He is about to do in you and in the church. Be encouraged! He is with you! Julia
Thankfully, it’s a message that has resulted in continual messages from people sharing how their life has been powerfully impacted by it.
Shortly after hearing a teaching that (God forgives all sin, past, present and future) I was ignorantly relieved of the struggles I was having with particular sins and then went soo far away from truth, deep into more self justified sin, self deception, coldness, distance from God, family, etc. …. Now I’ve been hearing teaching from John Burton and others against sin and this false doctrine (false-grace teaching) and now for the first time since I became a Christian almost 10 years ago, I have been free from the power of habitual sin and no longer live a life of torment … All Glory to GOD!!! God needs more TRUTH Ministers.~Nick
It’s a message that, by design, urgently and aggressively provokes those who are personally comfortable yet eternally vulnerable.
Operation Houston: It’s time to launch a movement of Spirit driven prayer in the face of homosexual bullying
For those of you who read my recent article titled 9 Prophetic Keys for Binding the Homosexual Spirit, you may know where this article is going. It’s time for a humble people to boldly advance with tears in their eyes and fire in their mouths. The homosexual agenda is advancing in unprecedented arrogance and the church must respond boldly in the authority it has been given.
With this in mind, I want to warn against any human zeal or pride that would result in combating against the aggressive demands of the city of Houston. The arrogance of those who are placing improper and unrighteous demands on pastors in Houston must not be met with arrogance and unrighteous demands by the church. True humility will result in true boldness and the power of God will be made evident. Keep in mind, this isn’t a political human rights or first amendment issue—this is a spiritual issue. If America were not a free nation, how then would we respond? It wouldn’t be in the courts of our land. It would be in the courtroom of Heaven.
This doesn’t mean human judges won’t be involved—they very well may be. It does mean, however, that they can’t win alone. The church must pray.
We have great authority as Christians thanks to what Jesus did for us.
…which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church… Ephesians 1:20-22
This authority grants us the right and the responsibility to govern on the Earth. God’s government trumps the government of the city of Houston and as we operate in our authority as a unified church entire cities will shift. We have the keys of the Kingdom and we have the authority to bind and to loose—and God will have our back.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19
The church has historically had a tragically weak response to the homosexual agenda. We haven’t stood in our authority.
I believe this is mostly due to the fear of being accused of hatred. After all, our calling card is love and it would seem to make sense to protect that branding. The thought is that we should simply respond to assaults with a smile on our face and a bear hug. Unfortunately, that won’t work against principalities and powers. In fact, such a response is not the perfect expression of love. Not even close. It looks more like timidity.
It’s rare today to hear people clearly sounding alarms and warning those who are in grave danger. It seems that it’s more loving to avoid discussing someone’s possible eternal future than to warn them that they are at risk of eternal torment. The gut wrenching truth that causes me to shudder and break in my heart is that the Mayor of Houston is fighting against God and, based on Scriptural truth, is currently destined for Hell. Again, it’s love that communicates this horrifying reality, and it’s also love to go to battle on behalf of Mayor Annise Parker and her supporters in Houston.
God’s passion for them is intense and the enemy’s attack against them is continual. The church finds itself in between, warring for their souls.
WHO ARE WE FIGHTING?
First, we must agree that this is a fight. We have to move beyond our simple evangelism strategies and relationship building at the coffee shop. The church of America is at war and our weapons are not man made.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete. 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
When considering the homosexual advance, it’s important that we understand what our battle is. Our fight will look very different depending on the situation. Who are we engaging?
We don’t fight people, but we do fight an invisible enemy. That enemy will manifest differently depending on just who it’s attacking. Consider these two strategic focuses:
- The Homosexual Victim
- The Homosexual Agenda
There are millions of people who have been violated by Satan’s hordes and the result is extreme confusion regarding their sexual identity. The homosexual victim has been abused and confused and our approach as loving Christians must be tender. Of course, we will fight the enemy on their behalf but the point I want to make here is that a giant smile and a massive bear hug are absolutely appropriate in this particular scenerio. A personal, relational approach is necessary and we should take the time to serve those who feel hopeless and confused.
This article, however, is directed more to the homosexual agenda. Our response to this massive onslaught in our nation will look much different than it does to the homosexual victim. At this level, the war is on.
For the victim we are dealing with emotions, woundings and various demonic attacks. Regarding the agenda it’s a completely different story. We are dealing with extremely powerful, influential wicked powers that can’t be won with a hug.
The homosexual agenda is driven by a violent, organized and deadly demonic strategy that has little to do with same sex attraction—it’s all about taking dominion in America and it’s manifesting clearly in Houston.
This evil assault must be met with one key spiritual strategy—praying in tongues. Fervent, unified, passionate and continual prayer in the Spirit. This is a call to the church to always be in the Spirit and to pray without ceasing.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:25
Again, read my prior article for a more comprehensive explanation of this revelation. The present danger our nation is experiencing cannot be allowed to advance.
It’s time to bring confusion to the camp. The violent, intolerant homosexual agenda will be stalled via a massive movement of people who are praying in the Spirit. The groans of intercession need to be heard in our nation again!
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints– and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:10-20
Praying in the Spirit is one of our weapons of warfare! It results in precise intercession being lifted up and a sword of the Spirit exploding out of our mouths! Just imagine the demons that are scattering as we pray!
I see stadiums filled with thousands of people who spend all day and night groaning and roaring in the Spirit along with myriads of angels waging war in the heavenlies over Houston!
Just as those in the homosexual movement have a common language, and just as those at the Tower of Babel had one language, the church’s response must be the common language that God gave us in Acts 2.
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. —Gen. 11:1
Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:3-4
Just as confusion came to those at Babel, another unified language resulted in confusion in Jerusalem:
And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled… Acts 2:6-7
The difference? At Babel the confusion stopped the unified work of Satan. In Acts the prayer-fueled unity initiated outpouring caused people to marvel!
It’s time for Satan’s agenda in Houston to be confused and for the people of Houston to marvel!
ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD?
We all know the verse:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
This is one of the most misused verses in all of Scripture.
When somebody has a bad day—their girlfriend breaks up with them or they can’t pay their bills or they break their leg—it’s common to quote this famous verse. The problem? It’s terrible counsel and it doesn’t work. That single verse cannot stand alone. Context is necessary.
You may have noticed that the verse started with the word AND. That should tip us off to something that comes prior. There’s a condition that must be met for verse 28 to activate. Those conditions are found in verses 26 and 27:
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
It’s when we allow the Holy Spirit to intercede through us with groans that things start to come together.
America needs a groaning movement of deep intercession! The Holy Spirit knows what the mind of the Spirit is, and he prays through people who physically groan and travail. This prayer is perfect prayer as it’s according to the will of God. We don’t need human strategy when we pray in the Spirit!
When the groans are burning in and through us we find ourselves loving God more deeply and trusting him more fully. We agree with his calling on our lives. Then all things work together for good!
As the church of Houston and of our nation gathers together in unity to allow the Holy Spirit to pray through us, we will begin to see all things working together for good! The love of God will explode! The homosexual agenda will lose its power and the plan of our glorious Savior will advance in power! Let’s fill churches, streets, homes and stadiums with groaning intercessors! Can you imagine what tens of thousands of people groaning deeply in the Spirit would sound like? The stadium roof would explode!
Unity always surrounds a cause, or a point of focus. The homosexual agenda is possibly the most unified movement in the world today. They are gathered around a singular focus.
Consider the three Hebrews who unified against King Nebuchadnezzar. The king called everybody to rally around an image. His strategy for national strength was brilliant—unity.
So at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the horn, flute, harp, and lyre, in symphony with all kinds of music, all the people, nations, and languages fell down and worshiped the gold image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Daniel 3:7
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego chose a different point of unity—the fire.
Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” Daniel 3:15
God was the only one who could deliver them, and God was the only one who could change the nation. So, in the face of certain death, they stood together in unity.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18
This is where the church is right now. What will we rally around? If we attempt to blend in and let the situation play out, we, by default, worship the image—the image that the homosexual agenda is gathering everyone in the city around.
When we make our stand, we will absolutely appear to be divisive, hateful and arrogant, and that will result in rage in the camp.
Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Daniel 3:19-20
It’s at this point, well into the battle, where Jesus will be made known to all:
Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” Daniel 3:24-25
Their radical unity in the fire resulted in a manifestation of Jesus that was undeniable. The nation turned at that moment. Our nation, the city of Houston and Mayor Annise Parker can all be transformed over night.
Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon. Daniel 3:28-30
Operation Houston will result in a unified church in the midst of the fire, wielding their weapons, praying in the Spirit and impacting not only Houston but the nation and the entire world. The love of God will be made manifest and millions of people will have an unprecedented opportunity to experience it. Church, this is our hour.
Does anybody in Houston have a stadium we can borrow for a day?
It’s time to pray.
I had a dream, and afterwards I visited Detroit to minister, and then saw the mural of jumping whales which was a key part of the dream.
It’s a warning dream, and Detroit must respond in repentance and intercession—as must the nation. Here’s the picture I took last night at the game and also the dream. (This is taken from the chapter in my book The Coming Church titled Their Freedom is Your Mission.)
A Troubling End-Time Dream
Here is a clear example of a sharp, prophetic message. Will we respond to the call or casually watch from the sidelines?
It would be nice if all of our dreams, visions and communication from God had the feel of running and dancing through a field of daisies, but it’s more important that we receive accurate data than imaginary, feel good stories.
This dream was anything but candy canes and ice cream. To date, other than my encounter with Hell in the early 1990s, I’ve never received such an urgent and troubling dream of God.
The first scene in my dream represented a typical American day. I was in my basement in a really comfortable leather recliner, sitting in front of a large television. I was excitedly watching my favorite NFL team, the Chicago Bears, play in a nationally televised evening game. I was thoroughly entertained and was settling in for a great night of football.
The scene then suddenly changed. I found myself in the captain’s seat of the largest commercial airplane I’d even seen. In fact, this jet was capable of holding over 1000 people. Everybody in the airplane was excited and ready for the journey—and they were all blood-bought Christians. They represented an end-time remnant being prepared by God for the days ahead.
In the cockpit, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude and majesty of the airplane. I put my hand on the throttle as we were sitting on the runway, ready to depart. Simply touching it revealed a power that was sobering indeed.
I understood that, as the captain of the airplane, my responsibility was immense. I felt completely incapable of fulfilling my duties, but at the same time, I felt such an overwhelming confidence. I had the grace to do what I was called to do, even though I didn’t understand even how to take the first step.
In that grace, I gave the throttle a push. Every inch that I carefully moved the throttle forward it seemed that the power increased one hundredfold or more. The slight vibration that was caused by multiple jet engines kept increasing as I moved 1000 people down the runway.
Suddenly, we were airborne, and we were catapulted into our unknown mission.
Almost immediately, as I followed the flight plan, we were flying over an ocean. As I looked down, something unusual had caught my attention, and I yearned to move in for a closer look. I brought the jet down and flew just above the surface of the water. What I saw was remarkable. All around, sea life was leaping out of the water. Everybody in the airplane was glued to the windows as they were captivated by the same view. Dolphins and whales were jumping high into the air as were innumerable other creatures, many of which I had never seen before.
As I watched, my desire for greater revelation and encounter with this seeming other-worldly exhibition was rapidly increasing. I wanted more!
I then did what makes no sense in the natural—I nose-dived and took the giant airship under the water. The moment I did, the power of the engines rapidly increased. The deeper I went, the greater the power. Under the water, I saw things I had never seen before. It was dark, but all of the sea life was easily visible as they glowed in various brilliant colors. Needless to say I, along with my passengers, would never be the same again.
I then reemerged at the surface of the water and took the aircraft back up to cruising altitude. It was time to move on to our destination.
Just as we reached the appropriate altitude, I received an urgent radio transmission:
The airport you will soon arrive at has been overtaken by terrorists. When you land, you and your passengers will deplane and will be confronted by them. You have no option to divert to another airport. If you do, the missiles that are currently locked on to your aircraft will be launched and you will all perish. You have no option but to continue according to your original flight path and land.
I then passed that information along to the 1000 passengers. In a moment, our joyful awe of what we experienced just moments ago shockingly changed to sobriety. We were about to land.
When we did, my two older boys (who at the time were approximately 10 and 12 years old) and I left the plane and entered the terminal.
I expected to see mass chaos, but I did not. Though there were many thousands of people in the terminal’s various public areas, it was so quiet that you could hear someone cough from one hundred yards away. Fear had gripped everybody. They were scared silent.
Each public area looked the same. People were ordered to line up along the walls by a terrorist who was standing in the middle of the room. The terrorist was dressed fully in black and had a machine gun in his hands.
We were ushered into a room, and as we entered, my oldest son thought he saw someone he knew on the other side of the room. Before I could do anything, he broke away from me, oblivious to what was happening, and ran across the room to see his friend. I knew it was the last time I’d ever hold my son.
I then held my younger son closer than ever as we took our place on the wall.
The terrorist then started addressing people as he walked along the wall. He slowly, methodically moved closer to where we were standing. He then stopped and ordered the man who was standing next to us to move to the center of the room. The terrorist asked this terrified man a question, “Have you ever stolen anything?”
He didn’t know how to answer. Should he tell the truth and reveal that, yes, he had stolen something at some point in his life? Would that earn him favor with the terrorist? Or, should he lie and attempt to convince him he was pure and should not be executed?
I knew that it didn’t matter how he responded. He was about to take his last breath.
What I saw next was grisly. I shielded my younger son’s eyes as the terrorist pulled out a machete and started hacking the victim’s fingers, a half an inch at a time. He dismembered this man and was ready to move on to the next—us.
Then I woke up.
What did it mean?
Football. In America, football is one of the enduring symbols of passionate, cultural entertainment. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with watching a football game, but the game’s place in my dream was significant. It represented life as usual. I was happily distracted and nothing else existed on my grid that night.
The sudden shift to the cockpit is key. Vehicles often represent ministry when they occur in dreams. We must, as the remnant Church, be ready for a sudden move into critical end-time ministry. We have to be instant in and out of season. Our ears must be attentive to the prophetic voices that are sounding alarms in our nation.
Supernatural power and grace is coming to the true, remnant Church. The 1000 passengers represented the true Church—Christians who were ready to be carried by God and who were not doing so for their own enjoyment. The massive airplane and the immeasurable power that it produced was there for a purpose—to carry people into a mission. The coming Church will be marked by people, as in the first century Church, who are mission minded and willing to lay down their lives. They aren’t there for the benefits alone.
When the remnant Church is in position, the adventure will begin! As in the dream, the first phase will include such glorious, supernatural revelation that we will be forever transformed. Those who are distracted by the offerings of the world will miss out on this remnant call into the shock and the awe of the glory of God! There is a consecration that’s required for those who are interested in going into the deep places with God.
The deeper we go, the more power and wonder we will experience.
Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”
Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. Joshua 3:1-6
God is raising up captains, leaders who will, like Joshua, call everybody into position. They will lead the remnant Church out of typical, deadly desert life across the water and into promise.
The end-time company represented by the 1000 on the airplane will be those who, as priests of the Lord, will carry the ark of his presence into the mission.
We have never been this way before. It is a mystery, but a mystery well worth the trouble to discover. We must consecrate ourselves on this side of the unknown as we, in faith, get ready to experience the wonders of the Lord!
As we emerge out of revelation of the glory of God, we will be functioning from a place of power and radical transformation. We will then be ready for the troubling warnings of God.
I believe the terrorists in my dream are less symbolic than we might hope. Fear is about to grip our land as the enemy puts his boots on the ground. We must stand firm in the grace of God, even when horrific trouble comes, as it did for me as a father, when in my dream, my older son broke away from my care.
Very troubling times are ahead of us. The enemy’s primary weapon will be the spirit of fear. God’s primary weapon? The shock and the awe of the glory of God. The coming Church will be a Church that has gone deep in God together and my friend, this is the only Church that will be able to stand against the wickedness.
Interestingly, I discovered after I had this dream, that it is known that Islamic terrorists will actually chop off the fingers of thieves just as I witnessed in my dream. I had never heard of this before and it was further confirmation that the dream was communication from the Lord and that we must be ready for an assault against his Bride.
“As to the thief, Male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in power.” Quran 5:38
Perfect love casts out fear, which is why we know the kingdom of darkness cannot win. This is all the more reason for the Church to go deep into God! We need a revelation of Jesus! The coming Church will have that revelation of deep, glorious love, and the enemy knows this. This is why he is unleashing a false-love movement that is actually founded on fear…
Negative. Offensive. Irritating. Why provocative messages are so critical today.
To silence a preacher from preaching judgment is like being awoke from sleep by a fire alarm, and just silencing the alarm, and going back to sleep. –Unknown
Though they often cause a bit of a ripple, I honestly don’t see the messages, status updates, videos and other communication I release as very striking at all. I am often amazed at how a firestorm of trouble can result from what I consider to be simple, orthodox truths—truths that have been too often abandoned by today’s church, even churches that look vibrant and active.
So often, after I share a very basic post I hear people commenting on how edgy it was. That never ceases to amaze me. I personally feel weak, broken and living too far below the bar God has for me to communicate anything that’s truly provocative—not the way the prophets of old did, at least.
Yet, even the insufficient words from this messenger tend to cause trouble. The deeper I go in the Lord, the more troubling the messages become—and the messages don’t originate in my mind. They are delivered my spirit in dreams, visions and in Scripture. God is shaking his church, and he’s shaking me as well. The messages will only get stronger.
All you have to do is decide to walk a little closer to God and you'll be criticized more in the church than in the tavern down the street. ~Leonard Ravenhill
When compared with spiritual heroes of old, we still have miles to go before we are anywhere near the level of shock that their messages caused.
If we have another Pentecost and it was real , we'd all be in jail within a month. We're such an accommodating Christianity today. ~Leonard Ravenhill
We are living in a day where deception has so overwhelmed the church that anything less than clear, black and white preaching of the Word won’t suffice. The enemy has convinced millions of professing Christians that they are OK and in a good place as he craftily leads them to Hell.
The devil can counterfeit all the saving operations and graces of the Spirit of God. ~Jonathan Edwards
There isn't a “Pentecostal” Church in America. If there is, tell me where it is. ~Leonard Ravenhill
I'm embarrassed to be a part of the (so-called) church of Jesus Christ today because I believe it's an embarrassment to a Holy God ! ~Leonard Ravenhill
Simply put, some presume most in the world are saved and I believe they are not.
Many presume most in the church are saved and I have my doubts.
I doubt if 5% of professing Christians in America are born again. ~Leonard Ravenhill
For this reason, the disturbing messages of awakening to the church must continue. They can’t be occasional or squeezed between other less costly teachings. The alarm cannot be interrupted.
Someone asked me, “Do you pray for the dead?” I said, “No, I preach to them!” I think every pew in every church is death row. Think about that! They're dead! They sing about God; they talk about God, but they're dead! They have no living relationship (with God). ~Leonard Ravenhill
There's one thing we need above everything else; it's something we don't talk about these days. We need a mighty avalanche of conviction of sin. ~Leonard Ravenhill
Effectively Communicating the Struggle
As a communicator it’s so frustrating to me when I can’t effectively get a point across (which happens more often than I’d like to admit!).
I’ve been wrestling with how I can best represent the urgency I have in my spirit regarding the state of the church. Maybe the following will help.
Even the revival/prophetic stream that I most easily identify with would presume that, in general, most in the church are in right standing before God. They are saved.
This is where my internal struggle intensifies. I have a low level of confidence that that’s true.
This point of departure radically impacts how messages are delivered and received.
How you believe God perceives people will determine how you respond to them. –Jacquelyn K. Heasley
Consider the well known “Urgency/Importance Matrix.”
Urgent means that a task requires immediate attention.
Important tasks are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values and goals.
My messages are most often situated right in the center of the URGENT/IMPORTANT section of the matrix. What this means is that the calls for awakening are so critical that if they aren’t heeded, many praying, tithing, church going, professing Christians will end up in Hell—and the lost will remain lost. Simply, my message is to awaken the at risk church and to establish again the clear, biblical structure of the church—to be a house of prayer for all nations.
Additionally, for the remaining who are truly saved, the message retains its urgent status as it calls the remnant church to abruptly shock the rest of the world out of the grip of the spirit of the age. Billions are headed to Hell and anything less than a white hot burning church won’t work.
We're blind to the fact (that) we have an obligation to five billion people in the world. This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of lost souls! ~Leonard Ravenhill
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 1 Peter 4:17-18
Even the righteous are scarcely saved, so we need a steady, continual sledgehammer approach to our messages. Awaken! Strengthen what remains!
Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:2
The American church is living so far below the bar, and it has become convinced that it’s normal. We have been deceived.
I don't believe 90% of people who claim to have the Baptism of the Holy Spirit truly have it. True power is missing. ~Morris Cerullo
I'm astounded, bewildered, confused, baffled when people tell me there are 75 million people in America that are filled with the Holy Ghost and we're the most rotten nation on earth. ~Leonard Ravenhill
God is taking His hands off of America. We've had so much light and we've rejected it. ~Leonard Ravenhill
Additionally, regarding revival, it’s easy to presume that the foundation has already been laid and that now we are to expect an outpouring. I depart from this perspective as well. Of course, revival can spark anywhere through anybody that is wholehearted toward God, but on a regional and national level I’m still in the URGENT/IMPORTANT square.
Instead of millions finding Jesus in a season of revival, the risk is high and immediate for millions to end up in Hell. The alarms should still be sounding. It’s not time to shift to another square on the matrix, and it won’t be for quite some time.
I'm concerned in my spirit (that) the reason the world goes to hell-fire tonight is because we've (the church) lost Holy Ghost fire. ~Leonard Ravenhill
It seems the majority of other preachers and teachers and Christian leaders don’t wrestle with this the way I do (though some definitely do so and at a much higher level than me). So, their starting point is different.
Since their feeling is that professing Christians are out of harms way, the urgency factor is not there. Their messages are most often categorized as NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT. They take on the feel of exhortation instead of proclamation, encouragements instead of mandates.
So, the starting point for those in the NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT quadrant is that we are safe, and now we can start the process of improvement, enhancement and development. With the urgency factor removed, there is no need for strong preaching or offensive messages. There’s no call to desperation in the place of prayer.
Without the urgency of prayer, the importance of reaching the masses and seeing revival is a pipe dream. Daily gatherings of prayer must return to the church!
I can think of one thing when I get to the Judgment Bar and Jesus will look down and say, “I had many things to tell you but you couldn't bear them.” We're too busy running our own lives: praying when you want to pray, eating what you want to eat, going where you want to go, spending what you want to spend, reading what you want to read, (Do you) call that a spiritual life? Brother, it is carnal as carnality! ~Leonard Ravenhill
At this level there is a false sense of unity that tends to take over. The unity is around a presumed state of salvation, and this common ground actually results in an aggressive rejection of URGENT/IMPORTANT messages. Those messages are disruptive, and in fact, are often re-categorized by the hearers as NOT URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT. Distractions. They disagree with both the message and the delivery. They are irritants to their focus on enhancement and development. They seem to be counter-productive and a threat to their mission.
There's is certainly a cry for unity in the church. The question is, will we unite at the lowest common level or at the highest & most costly?
Regarding revival, the lack of urgency has resulted in a premature focus on strategies and advance. The NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT approach toward revival reveals that most feel the church is in a good place, ripe for revival, and that now it’s time to plan. On the contrary, the church is in a deeply compromised place and we must return to the basics. We must do little else than pray, repent and proclaim truth in this very troubling phase.
A Culture of Nice
This NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT church position has resulted in what some are calling a “culture of nice,” or the “false gospel of nice.”
The strategy is simply to be nice in the hopes that people will get saved and that the church will be unified—and that sounds great. The problem is that many of today’s issues require that we aren’t nice and passive. A confrontation is necessary. There’s even a sharp increase in evangelism that eliminates any mention of sin and repentance in the hopes that they communicate a nice, loving God that simply wants to be befriended. That type of evangelism results in people shifting from rejecting God to appreciating God—but not surrendering all to him.
We don't preach salvation. We preach forgiveness. ~Leonard Ravenhill
There are many, many people who are extremely active in churches today that have not had their false theologies challenged, who feel no pressure to deal with sinful attitudes and who presume to be in right standing in Christ—because nobody wants to threaten the culture of nice. The challenge to their positions never comes. The rebukes are absent. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is hushed.
Instead, the focus is on affirming and encouraging people in their current state. The NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT approach casually encourages them to grow and to become all they can be—if they want to. It’s important, but not immediately necessary. It’s the equivalent of being encouraged to get a college degree. It’s important, but not urgent. But, if they decide not to grow and advance, if the cost is too high, that’s OK. God still loves them anyway and all is well.
“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 1 Corinthians 15:32
The incorrect understanding of God’s love also results in a non-urgent approach to social issues. Homosexuals are affirmed in the church in the hopes that someday, if they so choose, they can find freedom. Pre-martial sex is discouraged but not shunned. Gossip is tolerated since it’s seemingly nice and important to value people’s opinions and to allow them to share their hearts. After all, if those same people are also feeding the hungry, giving financially, serving in the ministry and being nice, it can be presumed that they are in a good place and that they are to be affirmed.
We're living in an unprecedented day (when) evil is no longer evil. We've changed the terminology– iniquity is now infirmity; wickedness is now weakness; devilry is now deficiency. ~Leonard Ravenhill
If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying “Peace, peace,” where is no peace; if I forget the poignant word “Let love be without dissimulation” and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love. –Amy Carmichael
We must stop avoiding the “negative,” false-unity threatening truths!
Jennifer LeClaire from Charisma Magazine said:
Jesus isn’t bending His standards for any generation, and if people choose to desert the faith to fit in with the crowd or because the truth is too hard to bear, it would grieve Him, but He still won’t change His mind.
When Jesus taught that He was the bread come down from heaven and said, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54), many deserted Him. The Bible says, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?'” (vv. 66-67).
Even if the 12 had left His side, Jesus would still not compromise the truth. We can’t compromise the truth either. Ultimately, it won’t serve youth, millennials or any generation to cave on 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy. Especially not now. We’re in the last days. All signs point to a soon return of the Lord.
Not Urgent/Not Important
A lack of urgency, a culture of nice and a rejection of what’s important results in the lifestyle we see in our nation—NOT URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT.
Not only is there no urgency to go to church, for example, now the argument is that it’s also not important.
There’s no urgency to warn people of the destruction that media is bringing to our culture and it’s also no longer important to avoid that media ourselves.
There’s no urgency to gather together to pray, and, in fact, the call to prayer in the church is being rejected by many. It’s not important, or at least not as important as other things.
No church is going to have a revival with a prayer meeting (only) one day a week! ~Leonard Ravenhill
The surest thing in the world is not death and taxes, it's death and eternity. Yet, we're so unconcerned. ~Leonard Ravenhill
So now, a NOT URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT lifestyle results in laziness and a life-threatening misevaluation of what is important. Deception has taken over.
Pleasure and entertainment have filled the void and time is spent watching TV, relaxing and playing.
Doubt about what God deems important overtakes people and the result is a casual, happy-go-lucky approach to life.
It is now possible to live a “christian life” without doing the things that Jesus commanded us to do. ~Cal Thomas
The church is supposed to do what? To stop corruption? Is the church doing that? No! The world is corrupting the church! ~Leonard Ravenhill
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1
Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually! You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain. All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross, therefore I love your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments. Psalm 119:117-120
This leaves us with the last quadrant—URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT.
It’s very easy to fall into this category while presuming we are in the URGENT/IMPORTANT category.
The easy way to explain URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT is this—it’s all about priorities.
I've heard a million words, sermons, and read books: (and) I'm accountable to God for everything I have. Every moment of my time, every dime of my money. ~Leonard Ravenhill
We live in a very busy culture that demands our attention continually. Additionally, we can give ourselves to goals and activities that require our focus immediately and continually, but that are less important than what God would have us involved in.
The cares of life fall directly into this section.
And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” Mark 4:18-20
This is why we must be students of the Word. The Bible reveals what is most important to us, not our urgent, intense, demanding American culture.
The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible is the religion of Christ's church. ~Leonard Ravenhill
The pursuit of riches or other things results in an urgency to obtain them, even though we know in Scripture that it’s not at all important.
Tell the students to give up their small ambitions and come eastward to preach the gospel of Christ. — Francis Xavier, missionary to India, the Philippines, and Japan
What message are you preaching?
Do you presume all is well? Are you mostly focused on enhancing and developing, or is there a spirit of a reformer ready to be awakened in you?
There is a need for URGENT/IMPORTANT prophetic messengers to rise up.
You will be resisted by the NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT crowd—many of whom are wonderful, valuable Christians who sincerely see things differently. Their view on salvation and on the necessary level of intensity in our generation may differ. But, that doesn’t remove your mandate to urgently sound a critically important message—wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die.