Without one key element, movements that emphasize signs, wonders and glory meetings are extremely dangerous.
I’m encouraged that we are witnessing a sense of awakening in parts of the church today. It thrills my heart that we are starting to move beyond the tired, predictable wine skins of yesterday and are yearning for a much deeper dive into the river of the Holy Spirit. There are meetings and movements that are enjoying a supercharged atmosphere. Some of these are extremely good, necessary and forerunners for the coming church.
The hunger is so overwhelming for some, however, that this current season is producing people who will run to any meeting that presents the hope of experiencing a supernaturally activated moment.
Of course, a deep desire to encounter the wonder of the Holy Spirit is not an indicator of impure motives. Quite the opposite, those who hunger for more of Jesus can be counted among the remnant—as long as their hunger is pure and their approach is stable.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. Acts 8:18-22 (ESV)
IMPURE SPIRITUAL HUNGER AND THE CALL FOR REPENTANCE
Simon was more than intrigued by the invisible force he was experiencing. He was so zealous to function in that power that he actually wanted to pay for it! I know that seems absurd, but that spirit is at play very commonly today. The rush of the super power he was experiencing was so remarkable that he couldn’t help but to go after more of it. His sin was not his hunger for God. His sin was his motive. He had no option but to repent—or die in his sin of impure spiritual hunger. This sin that Simon the Sorcerer was overcome by, the sin of of impure spiritual hunger, is rampant in the church today.
To deal with this temptation, a key element that must exist within movements that are marked by supernatural power is repentance. Of course, repentance and the cross must be the primary driver of any church, movement or ministry. Sadly, today that is not always the case.
I was stunned when I heard about a pastor that no longer preaches the blood and the cross because, as he stated, they are pre-resurrection. His focus is now the benefits and the bonuses we can experience on this side of Calvary. While this may shock many of you, the truth is that many are abandoning a keen focus on repentance, the blood and the cross, though they may never be so bold as to announce it.
The last two places I ministered, in Dayton, Ohio and Greenville, South Carolina, I received strikingly similar comments from people as I was connecting at the end of the service. In both places I had preached a straight forward message on holiness, repentance, surrender, sin, the cross and eternity. It was nothing original, but the anointing was strong.
In one of the events someone said, “I haven’t heard preaching like that in 30 years.” In the next event I was told, “I haven’t heard preaching like that in 27 years.”
That almost brought tears to my eyes. It did bring righteous indignation to my spirit.
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 (ESV)
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:1-2 (ESV)
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, Acts 17:30 (ESV)
HOLY GHOST PARTIES
I love to dance in the river, jump in the river, swim in the river, soak in the river. If the river is rushing, I’m there. I’ve been transformed in glory meetings and I can’t wait for the next one!
I’m also extremely careful to discern the motive of my heart. The glory of God is not meant to be used as a high inducing narcotic. God is holy and we must approach and enjoy him from that reality.
When God moves, it’s not a playground, though there are times for wild celebration. We need to experience great fear just like in the days of old. Holy Spirit comfort and fear of the Lord must go hand in hand.
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. Acts 9:31 (ESV)
I’ve had the privilege of being in the midst of some extremely powerful and unusual river events where manifestations of oil, gold dust, gold teeth and a mist of God’s presence filled the auditorium. People were dancing, trembling and rejoicing throughout. It was impossible to deny that joy was in the place and that humanly impossible wonders were occurring. I was giving leadership in that church but was continually awestruck at the very real, very powerful things God was doing. I was laid out many times during that season, including in the parking lot at 2am one late night as God spilled out after a powerful prayer meeting. I was undone. Many others were as well.
We enjoyed a Holy Ghost party atmosphere that was wonderful and legitimate. The celebration was joyous!
However, what grieves me to this day is that among the dancers were a few who were living very dark lives—and they were convinced that God affirmed those lifestyles. This is why they could dance and rejoice with such “freedom.” None of this came to the surface until God hit me hard one day. He told me it was time to shift the message from rejoicing to repenting, from dancing on our feet to crying out on our knees, and to let the Holy Spirit move in a very different way. God had set us up and it was time to marry true freedom with brokenness and surrender. This was the only way faux freedom could be exposed.
While the revelation of unapologetic sinful lifestyles was troubling enough, the point I need to make here brings something else into the equation: the plumb line of the cross.
Holy Ghost parties, glory meetings and river experiences are not enough to rightly deal with our hearts and to draw us into freedom. They are insufficient. As overwhelming it can be, experiencing God’s presence and his love are not enough to deal with darkness and rebellion.
God instructed me to preach with great unction and urgency on what was: the cross, Hell, holiness and the blood of Jesus. This ended the Holy Ghost parties and opened the door to Holy Ghost conviction.
This led to many rushing to the altars to allow God to break them, heal them and set them free.
Sadly, and disturbingly, there were previous Holy Ghost, glory meeting dancers who soundly rejected that message. One supported lesbianism and was convinced that God would never send homosexuals to Hell. Another was involved in sexual New Age practices and rejected the theology of eternal separation from God entirely. Others told me they didn’t affirm a definition of God that included judgment or anything negative. One of the most passionate young people in the church said that she doesn’t know the God associated with that message!
That was like an arrow piercing through my heart! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!
In the midst of a true move of God, people were embracing deviant theologies and living in radical rebellion to the one they were dancing before!
As a leader, my heart was crushed. How could this have happened?
REJECTING THE MESSAGE
When I hit the messages of repentance and the cross with fervor, some people fled. Honestly, this shouldn’t have surprised me. In fact, I preach often that a true move of God will result in many being exposed and turning from God as deception and rebellion overtakes them. This is such a crushing truth that is hard to bear.
…they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (ESV)
In Acts chapter two we see two responses to God moving. Some marveled. Some mocked.
The cross, when preached, will bring clarity.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34 (ESV)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 (ESV)
The truth of the cross of Jesus will always have that type of impact. It divides. It reveals the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Holy Ghost parties must be founded on the truth of the cross, and that message must be shouted continually if we want to avoid deception at party central.
It’s easy to dance and rejoice when the benefits and blessings are preached, but when the call for repentance is in the mix, suddenly the party may shift into a season of mourning.
“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Joel 2:12-13 (ESV)
Then, the mourning and freedom that comes from true, deep repentance, can lead to another season of dancing!
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30:11-12 (ESV)
Today we have meetings that are focused intently on the glory, God’s presence and the river. Healings, signs and wonders are primary. They can no longer be primary if we want to avoid allowing darkness and deception to thrive in such an environment.
Calls to repentance must be sounded. A revelation of Hell must be had. The blood of Jesus must be foremost as the cross of Jesus is preached with unction.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret… 2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV)
Only then can we truly celebrate and dance in the river.
Watch today’s powerful video! God has called us to consider others more significant than ourselves. It’s time to be free from pride driven entitlement.
It’s time for the spirit of entitlement to be eradicated from the church and the nation.
We must go low, serve others and quit making demands that promote our special interests.
Everywhere we look people are demanding what is presumably rightfully theirs. This spirit of entitlement drives major, evil movements today such as abortion, homosexuality, feminism. It’s also fueling crusades and campaigns that are generally good, but tainted because of this foul spirit.
What if we stopped focusing on our own rights and started loving people even if it costs us comfort, money and vindication?
In a self-centered, narcissistic world one can only presume entitlement would be in the mix as well. This attitude is doing great harm to our testimony as Christians in addition to creating a proud, lazy people who expect to be served instead of to serve.
23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (ESV)
We can presume we are entitled to something because it seems right. If other people stand in the way of what is rightfully ours, we might presume we have the right to obtain it—even at the cost of others. It might be lawful for us, but is it helpful? Does our pursuit of that build others up?
SPIRITUAL WARFARE THREE PART SERIES
When we understand our authority, and when we understand that the battle is in the invisible realm, we can have great impact. The enemy will bring the fight to us whether we want to go to war or not. Our only option is to know who we are in Christ, and who Christ is in us and then to enforce the victory of the cross! You will find yourself encouraged, equipped and joyful as you finally hit the enemy with a supernatural power that will send him fleeing!
Today’s church has stricken a sympathetic pose in the hopes that it will help turn hearts. It won’t.
We love old saints, missionaries, martyrs and reformers… We will do anything except imitate them.- Leonard Ravenhill
Enough! Today’s passive reaction to a vile culture is killing the church!
We have become little more than a socially aware sympathetic ear to a culture that, if we are honest, we have sold our birthright to as well.
The emerging strategies to impact culture today look little like the powerful, bold, prophetic messages that were delivered by the burning messengers of old.
In today’s religiously correct society (yes, I’m talking to the Spirit-filled church) the primary methods of evangelism and cultural impact are driven by human sympathy instead of the supernatural revelation of the Word of God.
We are being nice, cautious, soft-spoken and relevant while convincing ourselves that the true Church is advancing because of it! It’s time our messages result in the mass exodus of our friends and the ferocious resistance of our enemies!
“Why in God's name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it the world couldn't get on with the holiest man that ever lived, and it can get on with you and me?” ~ Leonard Ravenhill
The offense of the cross has been traded for appealing camaraderie in marginalized, religious social structures that couldn’t be further from the model of the biblical church.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:6-10
If we don’t change our approach by adopting the historic blueprint of preaching holiness in light of the realities of both Heaven and Hell, Christianity will become little more than a myth or fable to nearly every person on the planet.
“The only reason some of us are not exiled or thrown into prison is simply because we do not preach as fervently and as sternly as did Paul, John, Peter and others. This modern “santa claus” religion that is sweeping country today is not the religion Jesus taught and John practiced.” ~Oliver B. Greene
“It is not enough to do God's work; it must be done in His way and for His credit.” ~ Erwin Lutzer
Duck Dynasty & Phil Robertson opposed by…a Spirit-filled mega-church pastor?
When I read a Charisma Magazine article today about Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong NYC, standing in opposition to public messages regarding homosexuality, I couldn’t stay silent. Can you imagine Leonard Ravenhill saying what this pastor said? How far has the church fallen? Very, very far.
While Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson is currently facing serious backlash in the wake of his comments about homosexuality, a popular New York City pastor has made it clear he will not take a public stance on the controversial issue.
Carl Lentz, who leads megachurch Hillsong NYC, told Katie Couric in an interview on her self-titled show that he did not believe he had a “moral imperative to speak publicly about some of these more controversial issues” because, he says, “We try to be like Jesus.”
“Very rarely did Jesus ever talk about morality or social issues,” the 35-year-old pastor explained in a pre-recorded interview that aired Thursday. “It was about the deeper things of the heart, and often people want to talk about behavior modification. Our church isn’t about that.”
When Couric asked Lentz if his church has a position on issues like gay marriage, he said, “We have a stance on love, and everything else, we have conversations.”
Sure, it’s great to have conversations. It’s important to walk with people through their struggles. But, he actually said that he refuses to make a public stand on homosexuality! Does he forget that Jesus, Paul and others had no problem whatsoever taking a public stand?
“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill
Our Christianity is degenerating into a middle class culture, a comfortable nostalgia, in the avoidance of the Cross of Christ Jesus. ~ Art Katz
Is it possible that our churches are full of people who have been seduced by culture and, thus, blinded by God himself?
“He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him. Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. John 12:40-43
as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” Romans 11:8
When preaching truth is avoided due to fear that most will reject it, the fruit of our ministry will be little more than a gathering of spiritually blind people—people who have rejected God and who are rejected by God.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. John 3:19
We cannot avoid the controversial social topics of our day (which, in fact aren’t controversial, they are simply resisted by blinded people). We need a bold prophetic people who will renounce the shameful ways of the world and who will refuse to distort the Word of God!
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 2 Corinthians 4:2-5
When did the definition of biblical love shift to mean little more than human sympathy?
I wrote extensively on this topic in an article that should awaken you to the reality of true love. You can read it in a new window here: https://burton.tv/2013/09/21/the-great-love-deception-a-false-love-movement-is-on-the-rise/
The passage so often trumpeted in today’s watered-down Christian evangelism culture is in Romans 2:
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:1-4
God’s kindness leads us toward repentance. This is truth! Without question.
However, this has to be applied appropriately. What this passage is saying is that we can’t be cruel and spiteful and condemning when people don’t live up to biblical standards. There is a nasty spirit out there that can lead people to operate much like Westboro Baptist Church who terribly and unapologetically pronounces condemnation on people. They cry out, “God hates fags!” They picket funerals of people who didn’t live up to their standards. It’s this type of approach that God is dealing with here. He’s reminding us that he is kind by not judging us prematurely. He’s longsuffering.
What it doesn’t say is that we put on some cheesy smile, affirm people’s apathy and casually nudge them toward the light at the end of their dark tunnel. Being kind does not mean being passive. It doesn’t mean we lose the fire in our bellies. It doesn’t mean we don’t have unction. It doesn’t mean we don’t have a fierce disposition as we renounce sin and reveal both the fires of God’s heart and the fires of an eternal Hell.
Preaching truth won’t cause most to cozy up to us. It will cause most to hate us.
All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. Mark 13:13
Please understand—this means that very possibly most in your current church will begin to hate you (though they may not publically admit it) when you call them higher than they are willing to go. Pastors will despise you too. A life surrendered to the cross in love is threatening and offensive as it reveals the lesser commitments of those around you.
Yesterday's prophets focused on causing people problems, and today's on fixing people's problems. Pastors, do you understand that you are called to trouble the saints? You are called to wreck their pursuits of satisfaction while calling them to die. I’m not talking about taking a week or two out of the year to mention consecration, Hell or the cross. I mean the very culture of your ministry must be threatening, volatile and burning—like a volcano that impacts society hundreds of miles around.
God did not save Paul from the consequences of being Pauline. Men vowed to kill him, because He was a perpetuation of Jesus Christ Himself. ~ Art Katz
It’s time that we understand that our love-driven preaching of truth will cause most to hate us. The plumb-line of truth isn’t the level of response it generates. The greater the truth, the greater the resistance by both the world and the church. Mega-churches can easily shrink from ten thousand members to less than a hundred when the offensive, costly message of the cross is preached with power—and churches of one hundred can impact millions.
“If you're going to be a true Christian, I'll tell you one thing amongst others: it'll be a lonely life. It's a narrow way and it becomes narrower and narrower and narrower.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill
“All you have to do is get in a closer walk with God and you'll find your enemies are in your own church.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill
Listen, we are absolutely kidding ourselves if we think simply being nice is going to result in mass salvations. Being nice can’t result in that—but preaching truth can.
I propose that it was Leonard Ravenhill’s deep love that provoked so many people to offense, and so many to freedom, and not his sober, intrusive, irritating attitude.
“What's the condition of America like, spiritually, tonight? Zero. Why? Because we've got blind men coming out of seminaries. Men there don't teach them; they don't hear a word about Hell. They're blind themselves, and as blind men, they lead the blind and they go to Hell.” ~ Leonard Ravenhill
How is it that we have fallen for the lie that toning down truth in such a way that people will cozy up on the couch next to a flesh-warming fireplace to listen to our spiritualized human wisdom is an appropriate strategy?
Our goal is NOT to gain more hearers! That approach will always result in compromised truth—always. The goal is to preach undiluted truth that results in extreme reaction—both for and against. If there is not a provocation in people’s inner man, than we have to question whether it’s truth being delivered or or if it’s Christianized philosophy.
When is the last time you’ve heard a message to our nation that includes Hell and God’s wrath as focal points? Today’s pop-religion rejects such approaches as unloving, even though they are clearly communicated in scripture.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. Romans 1:18-19
Is it possible the obnoxious street preacher with a megaphone is closer to preaching uncompromised truth than most pastors with a growing audience? I do think that may often be the case.
Christian! It is time to pull out the ancient messages from generations ago and shock a comfortably resistant culture with the truth of eternal torment in Hell, God’s judgment and his wrath that is currently resting on the unrepentant! Authentic Christians will celebrate even the most offensive, troubling message of the cross while the rest will resist it. Do you want to know who’s truly in line with scripture as authentic Christians? Preach truth and watch the pretenders get offended and scatter.
“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher” ~George Whitefield
If we truly flow in God’s love we will unapologetically preach the truth of God’s wrath! Those two topics aren’t mutually exclusive, they are intertwined and flowing from the same heart of God.
There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment. Men's hands cannot be strong when God rises up. The strongest have no power to resist him, nor can any deliver out of his hands. — He is not only able to cast wicked men into hell, but he can most easily do it.
They are now the objects of that very same anger and wrath of God, that is expressed in the torments of hell. And the reason why they do not go down to hell at each moment, is not because God, in whose power they are, is not then very angry with them; as he is with many miserable creatures now tormented in hell, who there feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath. Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth: yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, who it may be are at ease, than he is with many of those who are now in the flames of hell.
So that it is not because God is unmindful of their wickedness, and does not resent it, that he does not let loose his hand and cut them off. God is not altogether such an one as themselves, though they may imagine him to be so. The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened its mouth under them.
The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God's vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.
O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment. — And consider here more particularly. ~ Jonathan Edwards
The church’s response to the aggressive, militant homosexual agenda has been laughable at best. Attempts at relevance have resulted in being rejected both as Christians and as friends. They see right through us.
We’ve fallen for the fallacy that being nice equals loving people—and somehow that strategy gives us the best shot at winning them to Jesus. We’ve bitten at their accusations of intolerance, and we’ve surrendered our prophetic mantle. In fear of coming across as intolerant and unloving, biblical truth has been silenced. God’s methods have been traded for human wisdom in the hopes that it will result in peace, common ground and changed hearts.
“If the Holy Spirit guides us, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.” ~George Muller
First, it’s time that we understand that our primary goal isn’t to attempt to win everybody to Jesus via sympathetic strategies! It is to worship & reveal Jesus in the spirit of truth—and to function in the Holy Spirit as we reveal Jesus to the nations. Keep in mind, when Jesus is revealed as he truly is, he, and we, will be despised by most. That’s why our goal simply cannot be winning everybody. That just won’t happen. But, when we trust truth, the remnant will be revealed.
Historically when truth is preached, the core desire has always been to reveal Jesus to as many people as possible with the understanding that the extremely high majority will say no. They will reject Jesus when he is revealed as he truly is. It’s only a quasi-Jesus that’s accepted at a high level today. A Jesus that doesn’t exist.
“The Jesus that men want to see is not the Jesus they really need to see.” ~G. Campbell Morgan
The spirit behind the homosexual agenda is so destructive that we cannot use relational, sympathetic methods in an attempt to eradicate it.
We must have bold, offensive, authoritative, confrontational preaching that’s anointed by the Holy Spirit to tear down the arguments that are being embraced by by our culture, media and churches.
“The first duty of the gospel preacher is to declare God's law and to show the nature of sin.” ~Martin Luther
God himself is extreme in the way he deals with those who are vile and unrepentant. How is it that we think we can casually woo them in when God’s strategy is to turn them over to their desires?
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. Romans 1:24
Do you not see how successful that evil spirit has become?
All it takes is Phil Robertson to very simply affirm classic, historic biblical truth to set off a firestorm!
Will someone please trumpet the truth that homosexuals will not enter Heaven? Will someone let them know? Will someone reveal the undeniable truth that homosexuals will spend eternity in torment beyond our capacity to fathom? Will someone love them enough to warn them of the crisis that’s ahead? Is telling someone with a gun in his hand that he’ll go to prison for life if he pulls the trigger hatred? Intolerance? No! It’s love!
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Romans 1:26-27
God gave them over to their lusts—and they are under penalty for their perversion. The Bible makes this clear, yet we are afraid to make this known!
Their future is sure unless they repent! God wasn’t subtle or relevant or sweet as he revealed this:
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32
The accusation against preaching this way is that we are unloving, hateful and angry. Intolerant. Arrogant. Not nice.
We don’t have to defend ourselves. God will truly judge us if we are operating in a spirit of hate or pride. That is sure. But we don’t have to defend scripture. It stands on its own.
We must stand against the spirit of the age however it manifests. We have to stand for holiness. We can’t presume that many will respond. We can’t modify the message in hopes that more will receive it. We must present God and his Truth accurately.
It’s time to expose the darkness! If we don’t, than the blood of many will be on our hands. We live in a culture where Romans chapter one is playing out before our eyes. People are full of greed, strife, gossip, disobedience and every kind of wickedness—and God says that they deserve death! God says that! Is he unloving?
Who will warn the world of its impending destruction? If we only tell them that God loves them, that is an insufficient, incomplete message! Definition must be given to that truth as it can be presumed that God’s love equates to his indifference. God is not indifferent. He is longsuffering but not tolerant!
God loves homosexuals, adulterers, gossips and the others who are willfully gripped by the powers of darkness—but that looks very different than we might presume. His anger and wrath are on them at the same time he is loving them!
Somehow we’ve fallen for the lie that hiding the fact that God’s wrath remains on the unrepentant will result in them wanting to get saved more quickly. We must never trade biblical truth for human wisdom! We can’t veil truth! It must be preached and we must trust God’s wisdom!
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11
The method we must embrace is a sharp, clear call to repentance! Sympathy won’t do it. Pop-psychology won’t do it. A demand for holiness in our nation must be decreed!
This powerful spirit of the age has nearly overtaken the church today.
We are entertained in media by the very things that required the death of the one we say we love.
It’s shocking that calls to holiness IN THE CHURCH are resisted and those delivering the message are called angry legalists!
No, it’s not OK to listen to cuss words in a movie! It’s not OK to see nudity! It’s not OK to play first person shooters! It’s NOT OK. We have been desensitized by crafty demonic spirits and it’s time to shut them down! How can we presume to have any authority to confront the homosexual spirit in our culture if we ourselves think lustful thoughts? We don’t have any authority whatsoever when we embrace the very spirits we are attempting to rebuke. It’s time to repent church! Wake up!
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Revelation 3:15-19
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever. Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them. May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents. For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt. Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous. Psalm 69:23-28
This is hard core!
The answer is simple—repent! The church must see prophetic messengers arise who will boldly awaken sleepers, expose the spirit of the age and call people out of clearly defined darkness!
As I conclude this message, I am going to include, in full, one of the most important messages I’ve ever given:
Almost homosexual: A crisis in the church
After I woke up from a significant dream about Ellen DeGeneres, I read my verse of the day… here it is:
Colossians 4:5 Be wise when you engage with those outside the faith community; make the most of every moment and every encounter.
I felt God had a message of love for Ellen that I should try to get to her.
I decided to email Ellen. I have no idea if she will ever get it, but I pray she does.
Here’s what I sent to Ellen DeGeneres:
Here’s a strange story for ya! I’m a pastor & author, and I had a dream about you last night. It was crazy long and detailed and the first two part dream I’ve had (I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle and the dream continued after I went back to sleep).
You aren’t someone I think about often at all (sorry!), so I have a feeling God may have dropped that dream on me. It started with you at the Academy Awards (or something similar) and you called me on stage from the audience. I was overwhelmed with grief and whispered to you, “Please forgive me for judging you.”
Later, you went on to share with me from your heart about some pain and you talked about your mom. Later on I met your mom and your brother at their home. (I didn’t realize you had a brother until I googled it just a moment ago.)
There were other pieces to the dream, but I thought I’d leave it at that for now.
A little about me; I may appear to fit the stereotype as I do believe any lifestyle that embraces activities that God, in his wisdom, deems unhealthy must be avoided. Homosexuality included. However, what’s also included is pride, which the Christian church is often steeped in. So is selfish ambition and having cold love. All deadly, all have hit the church at large. Again, please forgive me.
After the dream I decided to preach tonight on a crazy controversial message calling the church to repentance titled, “Almost Homosexual: The Church in Crisis.”
God likes you, he loves you. Me too.
I'd strongly encourage you to listen to this powerful teaching & intercession for Ellen from a Revival Church service here:
As I begin this urgent and troubling prophetic message, I must do my best to make several points extremely clear.
- God is passionately jealous and zealous for his beautiful bride, the church. His emotions are extreme and deep as he yearns for love fueled intimacy with those he laid down his life for. His affection cannot be described by even the most romantic or poetic language.
- When I mention the church in this message, I am referring to the global body of Christ. The global bride of Christ. I'm fully aware and thankful that there are many local expressions of the church that are radically surrendered and given to the lover of their souls—Jesus Christ.
- The primary points I will expound on have little to do with sexuality, or sexual sin. You will have to intentionally keep this in mind so as to ensure you understand the issues when I deal with the spirits behind homosexuality and how these spirits are being embraced in the church (again, the global church; or, the church in general).
Jer 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.
This is a powerful verse, and the more time we spend on our face in the presence of God, the more we realize how true it is.
Before we can go any further, we have to all agree on the above point that is found in Jeremiah 17: Our hearts are both deceitful and wicked. What does this mean? Very simply, it’s possible and common for impure motives to be rooted deeply in us even though we may be devoted followers of Christ.
The more time I spend in prayer the easier it is for the Lord to dig deep and bring to the surface issues that wouldn’t normally be evident. My heart has harbored pride at times though at the surface I felt meek. Other times I’ve verbally forgiven people, but then the Holy Spirit revealed to me a deeper reality—that I hadn’t truly done so.
This is why we must not only be OK with messages like this one, but we have to eagerly invite God to shine his burning light into every part of our lives.
Is 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
When God is in our midst, a revelation of our own sin and issues are made known. A key problem today is that God’s manifest presence isn’t with us as He should be! Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. He is the Revelation. He is the Word. Where God is, revelation is. You can’t separate the two.
As God, in his burning love for us, reveals our hearts to us, we will find ourselves falling to our knees.
God is calling the church to massive repentance.
God has suddenly revisited me with a prophetic word that shocked me and those I shared it with a few years ago—and he’s added to the revelation.
Trust me, I’ve waited several days before deciding to write this (I usually write prophetic words the moment I receive them). I’ve considered the trouble it may bring. I’ve also considered God’s thoughts about the matter and I’ve chosen to trust his wisdom that this will free many more people than it will disturb. God’s word and his wisdom must return to the pulpits again.
Deuteronomy 4:23-24 (ESV) 23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
God is jealous of his church—and the spirits that have not only invaded the church, but that have been embraced by the church, have made him jealous indeed.
As I was on the airplane flying into Colorado a few years ago, the Lord surprised me with a strong and striking word for the church. I was shaking.
The church is almost homosexual.
This is a word that I’m confident is tearing at the heart of God… he’s watching his bride become bewitched.
Question—Is it possible that we in the church are close to embracing the same spirits that fuel the homosexual agenda?
As I was watching the mountains of Colorado draw closer during the final approach to the airport that day, the Lord revealed three drivers of the homosexual agenda:
Understand—the driver of the homosexual agenda is not same-sex attraction, but rather there are strong deceiving spirits of pride, self-promotion and identity, and lust.
I was on a train where two homosexual girls were very visibly hanging on each other, making it very clear that they were together. Their actions were not a result of raging hormones, but rather, they were making a bold declaration, a prideful pronouncement of their chosen identity as lesbians.
They wanted to force affirmation, be noticed and demand acceptance and equality.
“All of the acceptable sins in church are keeping us sick.”-Steve Gray
“Be careful about what you think is innocent. It may come back and choke you.”- Steve Gray
The church has been bewitched by the same spirits that give fuel to the homosexual agenda—and this is a primary reason we have not had success in winning homosexuals to Jesus. We can’t cast out the same demonic spirits we embrace.
We’ve all heard of gay pride. Pride is a hallmark of the homosexual movement, and, all too often, it’s a driver of the church as well.
I hear continually that it’s rare to find a church where the tangible, manifest presence of God can be experienced. I believe, sadly, there are more Ichabod churches than we realize. An Ichabod church is simply a church that is devoid of God’s glory. The ark of God’s presence has been captured. It doesn’t mean God hates that church. Quite the opposite—He is grieved that he must be removed from his lover, his bride.
1 Samuel 4:21-22 (ESV) 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
1 Peter 5:5 (ESV) 5…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
You may not have thought about it this way, but God, though he loves so deeply, actually opposes, or resists, those who are proud. God’s glory departs.
We live in a culture where we fight for success, we jockey for position and we can’t imagine being hidden or failing. Compromise has consumed the church as it seeks success, a larger building, more people, more influence, more money and other demands. Pride has resulted in worship of images made of gold where humility demands the gold is given as worship to God. Pride has resulted in worshiping a packed house where humility calls for laying down our lives for even one.
We wonder why the church isn’t having more success in the culture.
I believe a key reason is that we are attempting to attack worldly pride with religious pride. We are actually retaining the services of the very same demons that we are attempting to battle! A spirit of pride! God resists the proud! Is it possible that we are attempting to change culture from a position of religious pride all while God is not standing with us?
When humility reigns, the church will have the grace that God promises in 1 Peter 5.
This point is the most burning issue in my spirit right now.
I am fully given to seeing people step into their destinies, discover their true identity in Christ and finding freedom from lies and emotional scars that the enemy has given them. It’s a significant focus of my own ministry.
However, we have a growing problem.
- Focus is on self more often that it is on God.
- Focus is on living more than it is on dying daily.
1 Corinthians 4:10-13 (ESV) 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
Please understand, I believe we are seated in Heavenly places with Christ Jesus. We are kings and priests. We have great authority. We have overcome. We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.
But, our identities, when rightfully understood, don’t lead us to focusing mostly on personal benefit. When we embrace the cross of Christ, which is where our identities originate, we are now focused on going low, humbling ourselves, serving with passion and identifying with the scum of the world—so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
A focus on our own benefits, our own healings, our own identities as it relates to personal gain has actually resulted in us aligning with a key spirit that drives the homosexual movement.
Just as with homosexuals, God loves them and us too deeply to affirm a false identity—no matter how desirable and convincing that identity may be! God’s wisdom is much higher than ours, and it takes humility to admit that.
This is a huge, huge point!
When we fight for a false identity that feels so overwhelmingly a part of us, and when our focus is on acceptance, affirmation and human rights, we give up the call to die to our own desires. Suddenly securing our own identity is more important than serving the masses.
The goal is not to be affirmed, accepted, liked or honored. We aren’t to look for equality. We don’t compare ourselves with others. We can’t make demands when life is unfair. The church is to die so that others may life. Our identity is to be fully and entirely in Christ.
An improper attention given to the pursuit of identity (acceptance, affirmation, etc.) causes us to forsake the call to focus on our mission for the sake of devotion to narcissism. This is where the temptation to disobey God and submit to the demands of man can happen.
“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” James 3:16
Lust is oozing through the church today. Yes, it’s true that sexual lust is rampant as pornography has been viewed by as many as 50% of Christian men recently.
However, lust is not limited to the sexual variety.
Simply ask the question, “What causes you to get excited, to come alive?”
Many honest Christians would admit that everything from money to fame to popularity to sex could be the answers.
James 1:14-15 (ESV) 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Lust results in death. It really is that simple. The life is sucked right out of people. Suicide is on the rise. Eternal death is another threat as well.
This is a tragic reality in the church today—we’ve lost our first love! False intimacy in the form of lust has take the place of a deep, satisfying, truly intimate and never ending encounter with Jesus! He yearns for us while his beautiful bride is yearning for other lovers!
The church has lost its desire for intimacy with Jesus. Many Christians don’t even know what it is to be overwhelmed by his deep, burning love. Jesus is more of a principle or a foreign character in a book than he is a real, tangible, literal person you can feel.
This lack of revelation and encounter in a very intimate, life giving way with Jesus has resulted in one more comparison with the homosexual movement:
The bride is becoming intimate with the bride.
What does that mean?
We have become more interested in reproducing after our own kind than in receiving a fresh impartation directly from God himself. How does this play out? Several ways:
- We become enthralled with a certain stream in the body (Word of Faith, house of prayer, etc.) and want to have a relationship with that stream hoping that it produces life.
- We turn to other people in the church instead of to God through prayer and study of the Word in the hopes that the union can result in the outcome we are looking for.
- We are move connected socially to people than we are spiritually to God.
- We believe our church growth comes through people, so we comprise the mission, cancel prayer, water down the message and get intimate with the body!
An intimate union with God will result in a fresh stream birthing through your ministry!
A deep encounter with Jesus will bring the results that a million human counselors never could!
“You can have all of your doctrines right—yet still not have the presence of God.”Leonard Ravenhill
Intimacy. Repentance. Falling in love with Jesus. Humility.
Yes, fervent, zealous prayer must return to our churches again!
2 Chronicles 7:14-16 (NKJV) 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.
We cannot anymore develop systems that enhance our own identities, stroke our pride or fuel our lust for power, recognition or anything else.
It’s time again to declare the cross, holiness, humility and passion from our pulpits and on our faces!
The core call is for a movement of humility and holiness.
It’s a call to become broken and undone, desperate and deeply intimate with Jesus.
It’s a call to a fasted lifestyle, to full surrender and complete saturation in the advance of the Kingdom.
It’s a call to the deeply humble, yet powerfully bold life of John the Baptist.
Are we ready to let the Lover of our souls invade the deepest parts of our inner man? He is wooing his glorious bride back to him…will we respond?
Song of Songs 1:4 (ESV) 4 Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.
Failure or victory? Yes.
“The big idea is this: I don't know if you are aware of it, but Christendom is dead,” he says during a recently released video promoting the book's theme. “The bus is no longer carrying us, it's running over us. Christianity is no longer popular and there are no social benefits to waving the Jesus flag. All you are going to get is persecution, opposition, and criticism. That's the day in which we live. The question is what will we do?” ~Mark Driscoll
“We have the victory!”
This is something we hear shouted in churches all the time, and, as stated, it is true. What we need to discuss is the actual reach of that victory. True Christians (who are much fewer in number than we’d realize) absolutely have had victory availed to them through the death and resurrection of Jesus. There are two specific issues, however, that we must consider.
- First, we as Christians can shout “Victory!” all day long, and live in depression, deception, defeat, fear and turmoil if we don’t actively live according to that victory. We have a part to play (a big part).
- Second, the true scope of the victory is limited. We can get excited about our own victory while failing to see how rare it is—as the high majority of people on the Earth are not victorious at all. They are lost.
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 1 John 5:4
Victory and faith are one in the same. This reveals quite clearly that we must be active in faith in order to experience victory. And, of course, as was stated above, that victory is tragically limited. It’s truly few on the Earth who are living in faith and victory even though the cross and resurrection of Jesus provided victory to everyone in the world—everyone who would respond, that is.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58
As we, through faith, abound in the work of the Lord, we will live in victory—yet more importantly, our labor will result in victory for others. That’s the true purpose of our lives.
A Rescue Mission
Prior to the cross and resurrection, humanity was flooding into Hell. The rescue mission of the cross was necessary, and the power it released was immeasurable, but its impact was minor when you take into account how few have responded to it.
It’s no surprise that the idea of Christianity experiencing failure feels both ridiculous and offensive. It’s ridiculous to those who are so inwardly focused on their own personal experience that they don’t see reality around them. It’s offensive because it presumes the sacrifice of Christ was insufficient.
The emergence of Christian Universalism and its various sects has resulted in a faux spirituality for innumerable people—people who presume that the cross of Christ resulted in one hundred percent of humanity being redeemed. Any thought of a lesser success rate is immediately resisted with mocking and even rage. After all, their comfortable, eternal utopia is threatened, and any theology that puts it at risk is soundly rejected.
Most play the good vs. bad card just as the lost do. Have you ever seen the interview on the street segments where people are asked, “Why should you be allowed into Heaven?” The answer is always, “Because I’m a good person.”
The thought is that Jesus would certainly allow entrance into Heaven anybody who lived a good live and who voiced even the slightest affirmation of the Gospel. Only the hateful, evil people of the world would be cast into Hell. This thought is rampant in Spirit-filled churches today.
…as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; Romans 3:10
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Mark 10:18
We have underestimated the power of the blood of Jesus while overstating the role of the blood of Jesus. The shed blood of one Man long ago was powerful enough to eradicate the multiplied trillions of sins that had been committed, and those that would be committed in the future. Further, one drop of that ancient blood was sufficient to heal every disease. We have barely tapped into its power.
However, people wrongly presume upon the blood to apply itself simply because we have voiced a commitment to the one who shed it. The blood doesn’t grant us immunity, it grants us authority. We must apply it. We must live a life empowered by it. Though the blood paid the price for sickness, it is still required that we heal the sick. Though the blood paid for salvation, we must walk that salvation out with fear and trembling.
The church in the Western culture barely has a heartbeat, and this is due largely to a casual, entitled people who presume wrongly upon the blood of Jesus instead of taking up their cross, laying down their lives and operating in the bold authority that such a great sacrifice by a great God demands. We have a part to play.
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Luke 10:19
If we tread, then we won’t be hurt. Why? Because we applied the blood of Jesus. We advanced in the authority that it provided. If we don’t tread, we will be stung.
It’s not a prayer alone that saves us. It’s a lifestyle of enduring surrender. Salvation isn’t a status, it’s a lifestyle. We work it out, we endure, we repent. Salvation is not a dime store item on the shelf that anybody with a little curiosity and a minimal investment can receive. Salvation is immersive, dynamic and all consuming, and can’t be simply analyzed with a logical mind. It’s not a switch that’s flipped. It’s a relationship. Anybody who’s been in relationship knows it has up and downs, and it grows, ebbs and flows.
A relationship with Jesus is otherworldly and it is discerned spiritually. This is why so many are so terribly deceived into thinking they are saved simply because they believe in Jesus and live a good life (which isn’t actually possible without living in the power of Jesus). The majority of church attenders presume it’s easy to get saved. This deception is growing deeper and deeper as is evidenced in faulty theologies such as Christian Universalism, false-grace and Antinomianism. (Antinomianism in Christianity is the belief that under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation.)
For example, an increasing number of professing Christians have subscribed to an expression of Christian Universalism that believes that Hell is a temporary holding place for those who rejected Jesus, and will be released from torment at the end of the Millennium. This is a result of a misunderstanding of the role of the blood. Its reach is only as far as we affirm and apply it.
The cross of Christ, the blood of Jesus, possesses such unimaginable power. However, it didn’t result in salvation for all. This means that the glorious cross and miraculous resurrection set many captives free, but not all. Not most. Not even close.
The question is, is this failure Christ’s or the church’s? Of course it is on us.
Victory’s Limited Reach
The fall of Adam and Even was more cataclysmic than any of us could imagine. The general thought is that they fell and God then sent Jesus who would resolve everything. That’s the incorrect belief that this article is addressing.
After the fall, God moved into the world’s most dramatic and comprehensive rescue mission—a mission that by most any standard would be categorized as a massive failure. Contrary to Universalists, this rescue mission will not result in every human being being saved, redeemed. In fact, we should be haunted and grieved by the reality. Statistically, the numbers are horrifying.
It’s been recently reported by Barna Research that only 4% of Americans fit within the category of professing, active Born Again Christians.
Without any true ability to know the exact numbers of people who have or will be cast into Hell, we can at least entertain an estimate.
The official estimate of people who have ever lived on the Earth is approximately 108 billion people. Others who subscribe to a 6,000 year history put the number closer to 50 billion. Let’s use the 50 billion estimate.
How many of the 50 billion people experienced victory and how many did the mission of Jesus fail to save?
At 4%, which may even be a little high (some suggest one in one thousand on the earth today are truly saved), that would mean 2 billion through all of history were successfully saved through the cross of Christ. That would mean 48 billion are currently in Hell (or on their way there).
So, you might wonder just what the point I’m trying to make is.
Here it is: When declaring victory, shout it with boldness and humility and great thanks, but absolutely do not stop there. Cry out to God and volunteer to move outside of your comfortable safe place, focusing on your own victory, and volunteer for the ongoing rescue mission.
To shout about victory without understanding how rare and precious it is, and without brokenness about the condition of the world, is narcissistic, selfish and evidence of a radical lack of revelation of God’s heart for the lost.
Who’s Number One?
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. 1 Colossians 1:18
While others are convulsing, burning, roasting in the fires of Hell for eternity, Christians today are lining up for events that promise health, prosperity and happiness for themselves in their few short years on the Earth. They are already convinced of their own eternal security (often wrongly), so the next obvious step would be to have their life on Earth enhanced.
Every day countless people are entering eternity without Jesus, while never being prayed for, never having a Christian stand in the gap for them, never having the opportunity to know the love of Jesus.
Where are those Christians who should be weeping and hurting over the condition of the lost? Too many are self absorbed, entertained and working on living a more fulfilling life. They are looking out for the wrong number one. They are asking, “What’s in it for me?”
I see a lot of Bible Promise books out there. Where are all of the Bible Command books? What if we asked, “What is required of me?”
A wrong understanding of victory will result in presumption that Jesus did it all, we have no part to play and now all we should do is go about our personal lives.
A right understanding of the status of the mission will result in lives of Believers laid down as willing martyrs for the sake of slowing the flow to Hell.
Simply said, the cross of Christ resulted in glorious victory for those who have received him. However, those people are very few and very far between. Salvation is rare indeed.
Hell is expanding to hold those who are descending into it, and this is a tragedy that we can’t ignore. It’s not about us. It’s about them and it’s about Him.
Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it. Isaiah 5:14
We must be realists. We must not reject truth, even when that truth is fearful, traumatic and heavy.
Certainly, in the end, Jesus will win the victory over Satan and the kingdom of darkness. We understand the great battles that are coming will be won by Jesus and his army.
That is a mighty victory for sure!
The redeemed will experience such phenomenal, glorious victory and their eternities will shine forever!
This absolutely is news worth rejoicing over!
But, we cannot stop there. Not now. Not when people will die in their sins tonight. Not when it’s so unbelievably rare to make Heaven. It’s time to pray. It’s time to fight. It’s time to lay down our lives—for real this time.
Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 21:13
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. Revelation 6:9
The concept of compliance to prophetic voices and even to God himself is diminishing in our culture—and the consequences will be disastrous.
…A Greek word for proclaim…is kerusso… It means “to be a herald.” A herald was a public crier who was a speaker of divine truth. The message delivered by the crier was a public and authoritative announcement that demanded compliance. When you kerusso, you are like a town crier making an announcement that requires the hearers to comply. How powerful! ~Barbara Wentroble
Today, prophetic voices are neutered by a culture that is extremely independent, and, as a result, are declaring the sharp word of the Lord less and less. Instead, those with prophetic ministries have abandoned the call for compliance to a correction or redirection of God for words that tickle ears and communicate positive destinies even for those who are in direct rebellion to truth.
I was at the Detroit Prayer Furnace recently, and, prior to seeing this message by Barbara Wentroble, God dropped a very clear, weighty word into my spirit: COMPLIANCE.
I immediately knew that we as a nation were moving into a very troubling and dangerous time where prophetic voices must unapologetically call the church into compliance with God’s very costly, inconvenient calibration. No longer can we act as salesmen, forming our words in such a way that people will buy what we are saying! Prophetic messengers will be shunned, assaulted, resisted and accused due to the calls out of a theology of comfort and independence.
It is beyond critical that these prophetic messengers are living holy and are sensitive to the leading of God.
MINOR IS MAJOR: TWO PERSONAL LESSONS
Minor is major with God. Two recent minor sins had a major impact on my life. I’m about to confess those sins to you.
Additionally, there’s a decrease of the fear of the Lord and any concern at all over eternal destinies.
Read this disturbing account of a young Christian at a homosexual parade as told by Dr. Michael Brown:
When asked why they were at the gay pride event, the young women stated with enthusiasm that they were there to support people they love. (To watch the entire, extraordinary video interaction, click here.)
The same girl reiterated that gay s-ex was sinful but that supporting the gay pride event didn’t mean she agreed with it since, again, being gay was a “lifestyle.”
When asked once more if she believed gay s-ex was sin, she replied, “It’s a sin, but I’m not against it. I think you’re forgiven no matter what.”
She was then asked, “If you’re a Christian, you’re forgiven of the sin?” She replied, “Yeah, absolutely. You’re forgiven of everything except not believing.”
When asked, “So, you support people having gay s-ex?” she answered, “Yeah, I think that you can’t help your heart sometimes.”
Did you notice that the false-grace believe that she held to? Christians can sin without any fear of judgment. This belief is sending so many to Hell.
As I said above, minor is major with God. So often we hear the argument regarding the “big sins” of homosexuality, murder, etc., that “all sin is the same.” The argument is that God can forgive a murderer just as quickly and completely as he can forgive one who gossips, lies or lusts. I do agree with that. (For the record, I don’t believe all sin is the same, and you can read more about that here. But, for the sake of this point, let’s agree that God can forgive all sin equally.)
What if we turned the argument around? If all sin is the same, then the sin of gossip is as detestable and eternally destructive as the sin of murder. Lying can send one to Hell just as quickly as premarital sex. Minor is major. And, no, we aren’t exempt from eternal threat simply because we consider ourselves to be Christians. That is one of the greatest, most devastating fallacies in the church today. Christians who sin absolutely are at risk of eternal separation from God.
Hebrews 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.
LESSON NUMBER ONE
I know a key assignment for me is to call the church back into radical holiness and consecration, and my authority to do so comes via the blood of Jesus. When I sinned in what I would consider a minor way, my assignment was compromised.
I temporarily lost my authority to prophetically call the church to corporate holiness when I didn’t respond to God’s call to personal holiness. I no longer could impact the major because of my failure in the minor.
A couple of weeks ago I was writing a post just as I’m writing this one now. Many people presume that I haphazardly write and say anything that comes to mind in a cavalier way. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Every word that comes out of my mouth is measured and ordered via the fear of the Lord. It’s a daily, weighty matter for me to ensure I’m not withholding anything due to the fear of man and that I’m not saying what I should not due to the fear of God. To be a prophetic messenger requires this wrestling match.
As I was writing the message, I boldly said what I felt the Lord would want me to, and I was making some sharp points.
I was also listening to a teaching about how certain sins can manifest in our bodies as sickness. For example, if we gossip and don’t repent, it’s not uncommon to have tooth pain or even to need expensive dental work such as a root canal. Gossip out of our mouth affects our mouth. As I continued writing, I was thinking to myself, “We need prophetic people who don’t wash their mouths out with soap, but with the blood of Jesus!” I kept seeing pure mouths of bold messengers filled with the blood of Jesus as they declared truth.
I came to a point in the article where I relayed an extremely minor, common issue that can come up in a messenger’s life. I wrote in an extremely generic, careful manner about a personal situation that happened in my life recently. The content wasn’t the problem, but the attitude of my heart was. Again, it was so minor. You’d laugh if you knew just how minor it was! But, as I wrote it, God gave me a gentle check in my spirit. I considered the check, wondering if it was just my own emotions—then I ignored the check. After all, there was nothing that I wrote that would raise alarms whatsoever.
I finished the article and prepared to send it out. I always post it to the web first, and then immediately send it to my email list.
Then, I got up from my office chair and I felt something in my mouth. I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Directly under my tongue, right in the center, I saw a blood blister! It was not there five seconds prior! God immediately reminded me that his prophetic voices must have their mouths filled with the blood of Jesus, and I was instantly convicted. I ignored Jesus. I immediately repented from a deep place of my heart. I was wrecked!
I went back to my office, troubled that the tainted message was now all over the world. But, then, I noticed something. I had actually forgotten to send the message to my email list, which would have been a point of no return! I quickly removed the questionable sentence, reposted it to the web and then sent it to my list. Less than three hours later, the blood blister in my mouth completely disappeared! God is so kind as he is training us in righteousness! I learned, as a seasoned minister of 22+ years, that promotion to new assignments requires trust of God that we will respond immediately and exactly to him. I learned that lesson…or so I thought.
LESSON NUMBER TWO
About a week later I had a great meeting with two state prayer leaders in Dearborn, Michigan. I can’t explain it, but God was REALLY getting my attention that day. It was as if there were an open heaven over me and God was calling me to engage with him. After I left the meeting, I felt compelled to stop by the Detroit Prayer Furnace on my way home and get along with the Lord. I craved him, and I could tell he craved time with me.
I had also wanted to go to Best Buy at some point that day to buy something I had really wanted, so that was definitely in the back of my mind.
I spent about 45 minutes getting into the zone at DPF and trying to hear what the Lord had for me that day. I was still extremely stirred.
A friend then showed up and we talked for just a little bit. He decided to leave, and, with the desire to head to Best Buy increasing, I did too.
I felt a minor check in my spirit that I needed to stay put and keep seeking after God. Instead, I responded casually and thought that I could pray in the car and possibly reconnect with God later that night or tomorrow.
Well, I couldn’t connect in the car, and my spirit was increasingly grieved, but I excused it away. I got to Best Buy, and almost left without buying what I wanted, and I felt that’s what God wanted. Keep in mind, this is all low level stuff. I didn’t see an angel with instructions from Heaven. I was discerning something that felt more like the story of the Princess and the Pea. That small irritating pea wouldn’t go away.
Before I left Best Buy, I checked one more aisle, and there it was—it was exactly what I wanted! And, they price matched Amazon.com, so I saved $20! I bought it, and my grief increased.
For one week my life was a swirl of God, Satan and flesh—all assaulting me. A very minor decision to casually respond to God and ignore his gentle prompts resulted in sleepless nights and non-stop feelings of demonization. Trust me, I am not exaggerating.
I was in rebellion. My minor sin was major. My rejection of God was real. He had called me up to the mountain to meet with me and I chose to remain at the bottom with a spirit of Egypt compelling me to worship a golden calf. I actually had a picture of my rebellion resulting in an eternity in Hell—just me, demons and that stupid item I bought at Best Buy! I was tormented!
You might try to encourage me by saying that there’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus. That’s true. But, I’m sober enough to admit that, in that moment of rebellion I really wasn’t in Christ Jesus—and that’s why the shouts of condemnation by the enemy were piercing me so effectively. Now, I believe God knew this trial would hit me, and he knows my heart is so deeply in love with his, so I wouldn’t be dying in that state of rebellion. It was a Peter denying Christ type of moment. However, I’m also convinced that continued rebellion by me, someone who leads ministries, has written books, teaches on holiness, goes to church, pays my tithe, prays continually—would absolutely put me at risk of Hell.
Yesterday, I was exhausted as I keep trying to connect with Jesus who I love so much, and who loves me so much. I prayed, I worshiped, I listened to anointed music. Nothing worked. I had my intercessors praying for me. I was in darkness and I was wiped out. I cried out to God, “Please talk to me! Give me something that will reveal what I am to do! I can’t go on feeling alone and separated from you!”
Within moments, my good friend Julia Palermo posted this on Facebook:
Any place in our lives and heart where we are exerting our will and ways over God's will and ways will inevitably drain us of energy and resources. Exertion=Exhaustion. On the other hand, death to self requires only that we lay down at the foot of the cross and give up the right to run our lives. We say with Christ, “Not my will but Yours be done Father.” The Crucified life is the entrance into true rest. #ComeAndDie
Jesus! I immediately packaged up what I bought at Best Buy to take it back. I crucified my flesh and returned my idol. Peace flooded my soul. The life and love of Jesus IMMEDIATELY returned. I felt him instantly! The anointing spiked.
It’s absolutely stunning how simple, minor sins can have such a profound impact on those called to serve the Lord!
Minor is major! The sins of apathy, gossip, independence, selfishness, materialism, idol worship, homosexuality, murder, rape and all of the others, major or minor, required the same death of Jesus.
Sins that are repented of, that have the blood of Jesus applied to them, are eradicated! But, if we refuse to repent and confess and allow Jesus to have Lordship again, we cannot presume to be in a safe place.
God is going to hold ministers to a much higher standard. This is why we must pursue holiness and refuse to participate in the sins of culture through media, rebellion, materialism and independence.
It’s time to embrace a spirit of repentance. God is extremely kind. He was in my two back-to-back sins. But, he’s equally serious. He will discipline those he loves. I am so thankful that he loves me.
This brings us back to compliance.
God is raising up voices that will walk in true consecration and holiness. Not perfect people, but responsive people. People who will quickly repent and who will walk in true authority—authority to call the church into compliance to the Word of God.
When this generation’s true prophetic messengers sound an alarm, it won’t be open for discussion. We won’t have the option to consider whether we want to obey or not. We will have to comply. Are you one who will awaken the church and call it to holiness, to prayer and to consecration? Are you walking in holiness? Are you listening to God, or are you casual, as I was in the two above stories? Pray for your discernment to increase, and get ready to gather the ready, responsive remnant that will offer no excuse as they respond to the alarms of the Lord as they are shouted through your blood filled mouth!
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.
Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep
and say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:15-17, ESV)
Are you part of the cross-bearing company of fire-breathing awakeners that God is raising up? Listen to this heavily anointed event and respond!
The past week in Manitou Springs, Colorado resulted in a shaking and weighty awakening for every person on our team. Listen as I share the encounters here: media.johnburton.net/6936545
Trust me, you WANT to listen to this…the last half of the audio includes an other-worldly prophetic session where the calling for revival was revealed AND clips from each of the three services, including our attack against witchcraft and the drunkenness I was rocked with. High entertainment value for sure!
We are gathering an army of carriers of fire who will travel with us to the cities of the Earth. The team that we took to Manitou flowed in such extreme authority and power that everybody was hit dramatically. We dealt with heavy witchcraft and strategic demonic attack at a high level, and watched as God then flooded that place. Humbled.
The three nights revealed a very clear strategy for all of us:
- Night One: Personal breakthrough. We battled and experienced fire and joy and breakthrough on a personal level.
- Night Two: Holy Spirit arrival. I was drunk most of the night as the Holy Spirit poured out. Many want to camp here, but we cannot.
- Night Three: Militant attack. Full of the Holy Spirit, we experience an extreme level of witchcraft in the room, and we went after it with authority and power.
This is a pattern of advance for all of us. I break it down and share sound clips: media.johnburton.net/6936545
CARRIERS OF FIRE
Are you ready to invite our team to your city for an event that will bring deliverance, shock and awe? We are broken and humble people, emboldened by the fire of God and ready to serve you.
Visit www.johnburton.net/booking for more info. I’d love to talk with you directly.
You will have the opportunity to listen to four of our team members in the audio from last night here: media.johnburton.net/6936545
The house of prayer must be launched NOW! NOW! NOW!
Julia Palermo prophesied with trembling urgency regarding the house of prayer in the Detroit region. It must be launched now!
Are you ready to help build a night and day center of strategic, revelation driven prayer? Contact us!
We need to add fresh intercessors, musicians and others. We need to raise at least $44,000 more. You can donate here: www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/donate
YOUR IMPENDING ADVENTURE
I also want to invite you to listen to a message that will provoke you to fulfill your ministry. It’s titled Your Impending Adventure. It’s a NOW word and will help you take very clear steps toward a completed calling. I’ll include the notes below.
Listen here: media.johnburton.net/6936482
AUDIT THELAB CLASS “BECOMING UNOFFENDABLE” THIS THURSDAY
Offense will cause many to fall away and go to Hell. It’s a big deal.
This is my most requested teaching, and you can audit the class THIS THURSDAY at 7pm!
Simply show up at 7pm this Thursday and pay $25 at the door.
Revival Church meets at CENTRAL CHURCH, 1529 E. 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071.
Here’s the notes for Your Impending Adventure
Your Impending Adventure
a. Nobody was called into an average life.
i. Certainly not now! At the end of the age!
1. An undertaking or enterprise of a hazardous nature.
2. a risky undertaking of unknown outcome
3. An undertaking of a questionable nature, especially one involving intervention in another state's affairs.
4. “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered” [G.K. Chesterton All Things Considered]
iii. British Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) placed this advertisement in London newspapers in 1900 in preparation for the National Antarctic Expedition (which subsequently failed to reach the South Pole).“Men Wanted For Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”Shackleton later said that “it seemed as though all the men in Great Britain were determined to accompany me, the response was so overwhelming.”
1. Yes! The adventure is there for you!
b. All you have to do is sign up and pay the fee!
i. It costs your dreams, plans, comfort and safety!
ii. Your adventure will impact many!
a. Step one: Isaiah sees God (These steps come from Ungers Handbook)
i. Isaiah 6:1-4 (ESV) 1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
1. Most people don’t get to this point!
2. Your adventure begins by laying down everything so you can see God!
3. Go after him! Burn! Pray! Devote your every breath to knowing him deeply!
ii. Step two: Isaiah sees himself
1. Isaiah 6:5 (ESV) 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
2. You cannot see God without having a revelation of your own wretched condition!
3. Jeremiah 17:9-10 (ESV) 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 10 “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
4. Hebrews 3:12-13 (ESV) 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
5. 1 John 1:6-7 (ESV) 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
6. The closer the look on our own condition, the greater the revelation of our fruit.
a. Matthew 7:17-20 (ESV) 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 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.
b. We must repent, confess, let God search our hearts continually.
i. It’s in the Lord’s Prayer
ii. Matthew 6:12 (ESV) 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
iii. Believes must live a life of confession and repentance.
iv. Matthew 3:6 (ESV) 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
c. Acts 19:18-20 (ESV) 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
d. Luke 17:3-4 (ESV) 3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
e. Let God search your heart continually in the place of fervent prayer.
i. 1 Chronicles 28:9 (ESV) 9 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.
ii. Jeremiah 17:10 (ESV) 10 “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
f. Torrey's Prescription For Revival “I can give a prescription that will bring a revival to any church or community or any city on earth. “First, let a few Christians (they need not be many) get thoroughly right with God themselves. This is the prime essential. If this is not done, the rest that I am to say will come to nothing. “Second, let them bind themselves together in a prayer group to pray for a revival until God opens the heavens and comes down. “Third, let them put themselves at the disposal of God for Him to use as He sees fit in winning others to Christ. That is all! “This is sure to bring a revival to any church or community. I have given this prescription around the world. It has been taken by many churches and many communities, and in no instance has it ever failed; and it cannot fail!”
i. This is huge!
ii. We must get thoroughly right with God! Let God search us! Is there any impure thought? Do we ever lie? Do we ever gossip? Do we ever disobey God?
iii. Torrey said: This is the prime essential. If this is not done, the rest that I am to say will come to nothing.
iv. You may have heard a theology out there that says Jesus forgave our sins past, present and future. That’s incomplete, and it leads people away from confession and repentance and dying daily.
1. Jesus did what he needed to do, but, unrepentant sin, ignored sin, cannot go unresolved! You can sin in the future and have it not be covered!
2. Spend hours in the prayer room and you will discover issue after issue… and it’s glorious!
3. If we cover unrepentant sin with sugar and honey, it’s still diseased on the inside. You can dip rotting meat that’s full of maggots into chocolate, and attempt to hide the corruption… but the realty remains, the inside is spoiled.
4. I shared the following on Facebook: The false belief that we are exempt from penalties of future sins with no confession or repentance is dangerous beyond measure.
5. Someone responded: Who believes that way?
6. I said: Millions of Christians. It's a huge false movement.
7. He said: Guess I'd have to go to a church that preaches a false word to know…praise God for the Baptists.
iii. Step three: Isaiah is cleansed
1. It’s good to let God reveal wickedness in us so we can be cleansed by fire!
2. Isaiah 6:6-7 (ESV) 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
3. 1 John 1:9 (ESV) 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
4. Hebrews 12:1 (ESV) 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
5. Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
a. The reason it’s so good to let God search out the corruption in our hearts, is because we can be freed from it!
iv. Step four: Isaiah is commissioned
1. Prophetic messengers will have the boldness to proclaim the word of the Lord regardless of its tone!
2. Wiersbe Outlines: Now God can call Isaiah and use him to preach His Word. The prophet is no longer wrapped up in his own needs; he wants to do the will of God. He is no longer burdened by sin; he has been cleansed. He is no longer discouraged; he knows that God is on the throne. Now he is ready to go to work.
3. Isaiah 6:8-10 (ESV) 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
4. This is God’s cry! Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?
a. Matthew 9:35-38 (ESV) 35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
v. Step five: Isaiah is given the outcome of the commission
1. Isaiah 6:11-13 (ESV) 11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, 12 and the LORD removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump.
a. We see in Mt 13 that Jesus spoke in parables because of this very judgment!
b. Matthew 13:10-14 (ESV) 10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
c. And also in John:
i. John 12:37-41 (ESV) 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.
d. And in Acts:
i. Acts 28:23-26 (ESV) 23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
e. This is why we need prophetic messengers with a bold spirit of awakening on them!!!!!
2. Ungers: How long would this spiritual deterioration go on? To the complete blotting out of Israel's testimony to the one true God? No, came the divine answer. Only until the complete devastation of the land and the removal of its inhabitants to Babylon were accomplished. Thence a remnant would return to Palestine. Even this tenth part would be further reduced, yet a holy posterity would survive in whom the ultimate hope of Israel would rest and in whom the covenants and promises would be realized.
b. You have an impending adventure if you simply sign up! Be available!
i. Sometimes God will draw you into adventure to cause you to become addicted to adventure!
ii. Wildman story
1. Fearful situation
c. God is looking for a people who are ready to give up the tired, old dreams of man for an adventure that will change societies!
d. Go after it! Don’t fear the risk! Don’t fear failure!
e. A study made a number of years ago said the more education a man has, the less likely he is to be an inventor. Now the reason for that is quite simple. From the time the boy, or girl, starts in school he is examined three or four times a year and, of course, it is a very disastrous thing if he fails. An inventor fails all the time and it is a triumph if he succeeds once. Consequently, if education is an inhibition to invention, it is due entirely to the form by which we rate things and not because of any intellectual differential. —Charles Kettering
The spirit of the age is overwhelming the church in ways we may not have considered.
As is necessary when addressing an ultra-sensitive issue, I will make some qualifications on the front end:
God is without question, and I will declare without apology, passionately interested in blessing his children. It is fully appropriate to give a measure of attention to the wondrous process of discovery of God’s abundant life, overwhelming benefits and blessings.
That being said, I now must move on to offering some analysis on a hidden crises.
THE SPIRIT OF ABORTION…IN THE CHURCH?
As a prophetic messenger, a primary driving force of my daily life is to reveal and help destroy any barriers to Kingdom advance and the revelation of the cross and resurrection of Christ. In fact, we all must have our eyes wide open to this disturbing movement that is overtaking the church and stand in unity against its advance.
Now, of course, the thought of the spirit of abortion in the church is potentially offensive and certainly provocative. It’s a bold statement to say the least.
It’s important at this point to understand our discussion isn’t about all of those other Christians or all of those other churches that just don’t get it. We must look inward. Yes, we have to boldly and humbly ask ourselves the question, “God, are the same spirits that drive the abortion movement also driving me?”
Check out this quote which highlights the issue quite well. Notice how this person affirms killing a threat to other “good” endeavors:
Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. Abortion is profamily, prolife, moral, and good. For many millions of women, abortion has meant getting on with their lives and continuing to meet their responsibilities to themselves, their families, and society. PATRICIA W. LUNNEBORG, Abortion: A Positive Decision
Is it possible that we in the church are also more focused on getting on with our lives at the expense of God, the church, our mission, the Word and other people?
It’s shocking to me how Little League, school, family vacations and rest and relaxation are not looked at as threats to our personal freedoms, but a call to the prayer room is.
With that in mind, here’s another qualifying statement: The demonic abortion strategy is multi-faceted. It includes spirits of murder, violence, hatred and many others. While we as Christians may not be driven by those spirits, there is one spirit that has a foundational, comprehensive assignment. This spirit is what has infiltrated the church, and it’s, in my opinion, a key reason why we haven’t had the authority to eradicate it from its assignment of murdering babies.
This spirit has one key focus, one goal as it ministers to the minds and hearts of people:
People are focused primarily on their personal experience.
You could also call it selfish ambition.
Check out this passage of scripture:
James 3:13-16 (ESV) 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
Selfish ambition is demonic. Jealousy, which results when we focus on our own personal experience, is also vile, earthly and demonic.
When a woman is carrying an unwanted baby, her focus immediately shifts to her own personal experience. Her ambition. Her dreams.
The call to lay down her life for another, to make a great sacrifice, to change her priorities, to embrace a life of struggle and inconvenience for another person all fall on deaf ears. After all, it’s her body and she can do what she wants with it, right?
One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living. AYN RAND, The Ayn Rand Lexicon
The unwilling mother has rights! It’s her life. It’s her time. It’s her dreams. It’s her decision, and in the case of abortion, she makes the decision for self instead of for another. Her personal experience was instrumental in her decision.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
So, how does this affect the church? This issue is impacting the church and Christians in very deep, disturbing ways. It’s not a minor issue that’s affecting a few. It’s a major problem that’s a primary driver in the very fabric of Western Christianity.
We have to understand that so much of preaching today has been fashioned to appease people looking for a positive personal experience. This must end.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV) 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Do you know how difficult it is to find churches that preach the cross? Cost? Death? Surrender? The personal experience must be positive and without much cost if we hope to fill the pews. The same thing happened at the cross. The place Jesus died was empty except for those killing him and those closest to him. Where were the crowds who were looking for a message to satisfy their itching ears? They left when the message included death. When you preach the cross the masses will run and you will be left with those who are the closest to you and those who are out to kill you.
“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
“The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
“I believe that there are too many accommodating preachers, and too many practitioners in the church who are not believers. Jesus Christ did not say, ‘Go into all the world and tell the world that it is quite right.' The gospel is something completely different. In fact, it is directly opposed to the world.” ~C. S. Lewis
What should send us to our knees is that it’s the very gospel of Jesus that is being rejected for the sake of the pursuit of personal blessing and benefit! There are preachers in churches with crosses on their steeples who refuse to call people to the cross at the altars! A minimized cross results in Christians that are only artificially vibrant as they pursue blessing, but dead and dying inside—and this has eternal implications!
It’s time for us to respond positively to what many have called negative messages; these piercing, demanding, shocking negative messages of death at the cross were born through God himself and delivered to us in the form of the Jesus.
“I doubt that more than two percent of professing Christians in the United States are truly born again.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
Just like the woman who wants to remove the threat of a baby for the sake of her own personal experience, we in the church are all too often looking for relief and blessing instead of carrying a heavy cross for the sake of others! The refusal to sacrifice time, money, energy and our very lives on a daily basis results in a prayerless, self-centered, quasi-Christian that’s driven by the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Have you noticed that the biggest offerings tend to come when the emphasis is on what we can expect in return? The biggest conferences tend to be those that highlight personal breakthrough. The most appreciated sermons are those that reveal the blessings we can expect as Christians. I often wonder what would happen if we held a conference titled, “Come and die.”
We live in a day when we unwittingly embrace a deadly, self-centered spirit of religion.
Religion is: Man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.
When we don’t get what we want out of God our the church, we have an opportunity to accuse, to get angry, to place demands and to flee. When Jesus was here, the spirit of religion killed him because they didn’t get out of Jesus what they wanted.
The crowds were crying out, “Hosanna!” during the Triumphal Entry, which literally means, “Save us now!”
Jesus had of course decided to do just that—but not in a way they wanted.
In the next passage Jesus goes into the temple to overturn the moneychangers tables. Why? Because they were using the church for personal gain! The spirit of religion was in the temple! We are to enter the church with the expectation of leaving with LESS than we entered with, not more! We aren’t to use the church, but we are to bring an offering and to be a living sacrifice for the sake of others!
Then, that spirit of religion ended up killing Jesus. Jesus didn’t give them what they wanted in the way they wanted it. So, that spirit of abortion, of murder, took care of business.
Theocentric simply means we exist for God rather than He for us. Egocentric praying is our attempt at managing and directing God to accomplish our will instead of His. If “covetousness is idolatry” then attempting to harness the power of God to the priorities of self-centeredness is SIN! ~Harold Vaughn
The emphasis today seems to be on God alleviating our struggles instead of joining in on the great end-time struggle!
“If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there’s something wrong!” ~Leonard Ravenhill
Again, God loves to bless his children, but we must discuss the approach:
I absolutely love to give my kids presents. I come alive! My son Jet’s birthday was yesterday and I had so much fun watching his face beam as we opened presents, and as Chuck-E-Cheese led out in singing happy birthday. I also couldn’t wait to get him home, after he thought all of the presents had already been given, and see his face as he opened the shed to ride his bike…only to see his brand new bike sitting there! What a moment! Later that night we were laying on the hammock under the stars together, and he very casually and thoughtfully said, “Yep, this was about the best birthday ever…the best Chuck-E-Cheese birthday ever.”
Now, compare that to other days when I take the kids for a routine shopping trip to Walmart. From the moment they hit the door their sad, frustrated faces reveal what’s coming next. “Dad, please, can I have…”
No. No. NO! Over and over again. The tears come. The sadness increases. Their carnal nature is showing in radiant brilliance! Their consideration is not for mom and dad, our focus on saving money or anything else. It’s on self! You see, I often bring my kids with me when I go out just because I want to be with them, and to their credit, my wonderful children often want to be with me too! We love being together. But, something happens when the focus turns to self. What’s in it for me?
When threats to your dreams or your time or your personal endeavors come, how do you react? When preaching cuts instead of satisfies, how do you respond? The answer to these questions can go a long way in revealing what spirit you are driven by.
When the threats came to Jesus, he didn’t resist—he died. He surrendered for the sake of the world.
However, when the threat of a new King being born was discovered by Herod, he was troubled. The threat to his own personal experience, his reign as king, resulted in the spirit of abortion entering him.
Matthew 2:13 (ESV) 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
Matthew 2:16 (ESV) 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
We see this pattern repeating itself throughout history. Massive resistance comes when a threat to personal experience arrives. It emerged, for example, when the African-Americans threatened a segment of society’s idea of racial purity. That resulted in the Ku Klux Klan and the horrific murders of many innocent people.
We saw it during the holocaust as Hitler was threatened by the Jews and other groups. Again, millions of innocent people died for the sake of one demented person’s overzealous aim to ensure his personal life experience was protected.
Today, terrorism is on the rise and murder is the strategy of choice for many who refuse to allow their life experiences to be threatened by other cultures.
This demonic spirit is incredibly crafty. The call of Christianity is to die for others and the call of this demonic spirit is for others to die for us.
Of course, the act of murder isn’t the strategy of choice for those who are threatened in the church—or is it?
Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Jesus equates anger to murder. In the church the manifestation of anger usually results in gossip, which is a deeply destructive spirit. Gossip results in dark hearts manifesting outwardly against those who threaten them. The same accusation that the abortionists hurl are used by the uncrucified, angry Christians—”You are threatening my freedom and my rights!”
No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother. MARGARET SANGER, Woman and the New Race
When we become Christians we gain freedom but we lose our freedoms.
Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV) 16 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
It’s also possible to take on the offense of others. We have to be very careful! If we allow others who have had their own personal experiences threatened to lure us into a inappropriately merciful, sympathetic position, we are at great risk of taking on their offense and embracing anger against the threatening person. We saw Absalom do this as he took on the offense of others who didn’t get what they wanted out of King David.
Again, we are to expect a sharp sword, a high bar, a challenging life and a call to die to everything, including our own opinions, for the sake of others.
The spirit of abortion fights for personal rights no matter what the cost to others is. It resists the preaching of the cross with a vengeance. The cross threatens our very life!
Repentance must hit our churches. We have to return to the cross and refuse to buy into the demand for messages that tickle our ears. It’s time to once again be OK with deep inspection of the Lord into our hearts.
It’s this type of life that is a manifestation of deep, selfless love. This love will result in a great authority against the mission of murder against the millions of precious babies.
If we embrace the same self-centered spirit that drives the abortionists while at the same time crying out against them, we will be powerless. But, if die to self we will have the authority to defeat the spirit of abortion, murder and death that has overrun our nation.
Men tell us in these days that sin is what you think it is. Well, it is not. Sin is what God thinks it is. You may think according to your own conscience. God thinks according to His. –John G. Lake
People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. –D.A. Carson
It is perilously easy to have amazing sympathy with God's truth and remain in sin.– Oswald Chambers
Five Shifts at Revival Church: You’ll want to know what our fresh focuses and key changes are!
FIRST: Listen to a key message on core doctrine and the risk of deception in the church from this past Sunday. I deal with the law, homosexuality, tithe, shellfish and more! I’ll include my notes at the bottom of this message. Listen here:
As many of you know, God has hit me hard regarding the crisis of the cross-less church this year.
There has been an awakening at Revival Church as I’ve refocused our attention to the foundations of scripture, including the call to the cross, to surrender and to repentance. The Bible tells us to judge ourselves now so we are not judged later. It’s time to take a microscope to our hearts and allow God to reveal every hidden thing for the sake of love and healing.
Orthodox Christianity has been compromised by a desire for something new—and this is a serious threat to the mission of Kingdom advance on the Earth. If the new thing ever minimizes the old thing—the eternal thing—the gospel, you can be sure that there is error in the message. We do want the new wine, but the new will always emphasize the ancient and non-negotiable truths of the Bible. The blood, the cross and our call to die daily must be in front of us night and day.
I have received remarkable reports from people who have been deeply convicted, troubled and awakened by these messages. Especially provoking and liberating for many was my XPmedia teaching on the False Grace movement. I want to STRONGLY recommend you block out one hour and watch this video that deals with the sober reality of our eternity. Watch it here: http://www.xpmedia.com/JK9d86jAPOyr
- SHIFT ONE: Revival Church will be more intent then ever on solid and deep foundational teaching of the Word. I believe a true prophetic ministry is one that is rooted in scripture and allows the truth to explode out of us with power. Prophetic ministries are also to be alarms and warning systems that alert the world to eternal danger, and I am more devoted than ever to slow the flow to Hell.
- SHIFT TWO: theLab Prayer Events have shifted on Friday nights! We are developing teams that will be hitting the streets most Friday nights through the summer on strategic prayer assignments. This is a GREAT way to connect in what I consider the most vital ministry of the church. At 10pm at Port Detroit (most Friday’s, see the schedule at www.revivallab.com) we start in violent and fervent corporate prayer as we overlook Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and then we break up into our teams, led by some amazing captains, and hit the streets! We are collecting spiritual intelligence so we can pray and act in a much more focused fashion.
- SHIFT THREE: Social Networking! Not Facebook or Twitter… old school, face to face relationships! (What a brilliant idea!) We value friendships and want to make it EASY for you to thrive at Revival Church! The third Sunday of every month is our Meet, Greet and Eat social event right after service. We also are having a blast with our new softball teams and I’m very excited about our Culture Groups which are a great way to grow deeper in the Lord with other men and women of God!
- SHIFT FOUR: theLab School of Fire is being reworked as a six month school (and ultimately a nine month school). This year I am investing in training a team of about 20 leaders every Thursday and Friday night. This infusion of Revival Church DNA and vision into this phenomenal team of leaders will be carried and released into our next class of students in January, 2013!
- SHIFT FIVE: Our prophetic mandate is, with love and tears, to trouble people into freedom. I’m humbly embracing the call of God to awaken the church and sound the alarm regarding anything that keeps people away from God. Over the last couple of years, every single prophetic dream I’ve had has been quite sobering, severe and troubling. God is preparing the church to react when crisis comes to our nation and the world, and this demands we live as prophetic alarmists. This is driven by a deep love and passion for people—many of who think they are safe yet are in extreme danger. We must see them saved.
So, I want to INVITE and ENCOURAGE you to run this fun and important race with us! We will do everything we can to help connect you and enjoy your church family! You are valuable!
Revival Church meets at CENTRAL CHURCH, 1529 E. 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071.
Here’s my personal notes that I used to teach from this past Sunday. Again, you can listen to the teaching here: media.johnburton.net/2588973
i. The word Bible simply means ‘book’. (biblos)
1. It’s also called scripture and the Word of God.
2. 66 books, 55 of which it’s clear who the authors are.
a. 39 OT books
b. 27 NT books
c. Over 40 different authors
d. Moses authored the most OT books. (first five, the Pentateuch)
e. Paul wrote the most NT books (14, over half of the NT).
f. The NT was canonized in 375 AD.
g. It became the collection of books or writings accepted by the apostles and leadership of the early Christian church as a basis for Christian belief.
h. The KJV isn’t the original Bible!
i. The first English version was translated in 1382 A.D., by John Wycliffe.
j. The Holy Bible has been translated into 2,018 languages.
k. The Bible was printed in 1454 A.D. by Johannes Gutenberg who invented the "type mold" for the printing press. It was the first book ever printed.
3. Jesus wrote it all.
4. 2 Tim. 3:16—"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." (God breathed)
5. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. 33:6)
6. 2 Pet. 1:21—"For not by the will of man was prophecy brought at any time, but being borne by the Holy Spirit, the holy men of God spoke."
7. The Holy Ghost was especially and miraculously present with and in the writers of the Scriptures.
8. FofPT: God is a God who desires to reveal Himself. He does not remain silent like the gods of the heathen, both ancient and modern. The Lord takes pleasure in making Himself known to His creatures. He is pictured as a God of love; love must always communicate itself, and that revelation must come from God Himself.
ii. The word testament means covenant.
iii. By the end of the 2nd century, the terms OC and NC were established.
iv. The Old Testament deals with the record of the calling and history of the Jewish nation, and as such it is the Old Covenant. The New Testament deals with the history and application of the redemption wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ, and as such it is the New Covenant.
1. Now, it’s a serious mistake when we presume the OT is no longer valid.
a. We’ve discussed that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
b. He didn’t change OT to NT.
c. He has always loved, has always been just, has emotions of anger, has always wanted us to know him intimately.
2. When considering what was fulfilled and is no longer applicable, ask whether it’s part of the Mosaic ceremonial, moral or civil laws or not. Ceremonial and civil laws no longer apply. There are moral laws in the OT that absolutely do still apply.
a. This is critical!
i. The call to morality doesn’t cease in the NT—it increases!
ii. Remember, in the OT you couldn’t commit adultery. In the NT you can’t WANT to commit adultery!
b. The Mosaic law came 430 years after the Abrahamic covenant. This is the law that was fulfilled.
3. Some people try to interpret biblical laws with this rule: "Old Testament laws are valid unless the New Testament specifically says they are not." But this rule is not true. It’s opposite. It is proven false by Hebrews 8:13.
a. Hebrews 8:13 (ESV) 13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
b. "If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Gal. 2:21)
4. Michael Morrison The laws we keep today may be in the old covenant, but if so, we keep them not because they are in the old covenant, but because they are also in the new.
a. For example, both homosexuality and the eating of shellfish were prohibited in the OT.
i. Leviticus 18:22 (ESV) 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
ii. Shellfish: Leviticus 11:11 (ESV) 11 You shall regard them as detestable; you shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall detest their carcasses.
iii. In the NT Jesus ended the prohibition of shellfish, but reaffirmed sexual morality.
iv. Mark 7:14-23 (ESV) 14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 16 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” ( Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
v. Also: Acts 10:9-16 (ESV) 9 The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”
vi. God wanted him to eat snakes and lizards! (Alligator is great!)
vii. So, the OT law on sexual purity remains.
viii. 9 of the 10 commandments remain. (some people get tripped up about the Sabbath.)
5. The OT is critical for us to understand holiness.
6. In fact, in the NT we see that all scripture… which includes fulfilled laws… is profitable for instruction in righteousness:
a. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
b. Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV) 20 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
c. The Bible cover to cover reveals how to live, while the NT reveals that we are empowered in Christ to actually fulfill the mandate.
d. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown: The Law elicits the consciousness of sin and the need of redemption; it only typifies the reality. The Gospel, on the contrary, actually communicates reality and power from above
7. The law of Moses included laws of ritual purification, prophecies about the Messiah, rules about treating livestock, and civil laws about penalties for religious crimes.
8. The Abrahamic covenant was characterized by God’s promise while the Mosaic was characterized by God’s law.
a. The law was temporarily necessary to deal with sin… it revealed how common sin is…
b. Romans 7:7 (ESV) 7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
i. This is powerful! The OT helps us with analyzing our lives, being aware of sin.
ii. There’s a skewed teaching out there that says we must not have sin consciousness, but this is in opposition to what we see in the Word of God.
iii. It’s the law that is good, and sin that is bad, not the other way around.
iv. Today we hear that the law is bad and that sin is not an issue!
v. Just because the law cannot sanctify does not make it sinful or unnecessary.
vi. The law reveals sin, then the applied blood of Jesus heals us of it.
1. The law is the xray or the MRI and then the blood of Great Physician deals with that issue.
c. Matthew 5:17-20 (ESV) 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
i. Here’s an example of how sin can be dormant instead of eradicated… and how the OT brings revelation to that issue:
ii. Romans 7:8-9 (ESV) 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.
iii. Sin lies dead means that sin was latent rather than nonexistent.
iv. Revelation of God’s commands are critical! Is there any dormant sin in us that would surface if we let the Word of God deal with us?
1. Life Application Notes: Where there is no law, there is no sin, because people cannot know that their actions are sinful unless a law forbids those actions. God's law makes people realize that they are sinners doomed to die, yet it offers no help.
2. Dake: I do not blame the law, for it is just and good in its demands.
b. Now see how the fulfillment of the law is addressed by Jesus in Matthew…this is a long passage, but Jesus felt it was important to explain this clearly:
a. Matthew 5:21-48 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. 31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
d. The part of the OT that was addressed in the NT is quite limited. The law of Moses, with its worship rituals, civil laws and other customs, was temporary. In the NT, the ceremonial law was dealt with by Jesus.
e. The clearest way to understand what still applies is by studying to see what is re-emphasized in the NT. What OT law was reaffirmed in the NT?
f. Example: Tithing was both pre-law and affirmed in the NT:
i. Matthew 23:23 (NIV) 23 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
g. Nine of the Ten Commandments were reaffirmed in the NT (all except to keep the Sabbath).
i. For example, in the OT, stoning was the penalty for those caught in adultery (based on the Mosaic covenant)…
1. Leviticus 20:10 (ESV) 10 “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
ii. …but in the NT Jesus affirmed that the sin of adultery was not acceptable, but he would be the one to take their punishment… if they repented.
1. In the OT, physical death was often the most obvious penalty… in the NT, spiritual death is.
iii. In the OT, wrath of God was on that person. In the NT, Jesus took the wrath on himself… UNLESS the individual is unrepentant!
1. John 3:36 (ESV) 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
2. Living without Christ in the NT is very similar to living pre-Christ in the OT.
h. The OT is an excellent resource to learn how God feels about certain activities, sins, behaviors.
i. God never changes. He still hates sin. He hates murder. He hates adultery. He hates sexual sin.
ii. However, his wrath was placed on Jesus instead of us, which should compel us to make Jesus our Lord and Master with expedience!
i. In the OT if you see regulations and ordinances that are a part of the law, you can be sure they no longer apply—unless they are either reaffirmed in the NT or are covered by the Great Commandment—to love God and others.