An overwhelming experience in God’s presence is coming—and that is going to produce some issues in the church.
I often say that a 2 Chronicles 7 church is coming—and it is going to be shocking when it does.
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
Now, that’s a good church service!
I am definitely wired to appreciate and crave encounters with Jesus that leave people wrecked and rocked. I’ve experienced visible glory clouds, manifestations of gold dust and oil and indescribable encounters that left me absolutely floored in the glory of God’s presence. I believe one second in God’s presence is enough to convince the most resistant skeptic and it’s enough to free people from years of demonic assault.
However his presence may not feel like what we think it might.
“I just want to feel Jesus.”
I was compelled strongly by the Holy Spirit in a recent season at Revival Church to call everybody back to the raw, elementary truths of Christianity. I shifted from teaching mostly on experience and encounter to the tenets of our faith for several weeks when I started to become troubled with the lack of maturity in the camp.
In fact, I was deeply grieved when I discovered one young lady who had connected with us and absolutely loved to worship and pray was actually steeped in extremely demonic New Age teachings. That was a wake-up call for me. How was it that we had a culture of experiencing God’s presence and someone could blend in who was so radically deceived? I knew I had to shock our culture with a fresh understanding of what God’s presence truly is—and it starts with his Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
My experience there was priceless—I had to gain an understanding of the risk that will accompany the coming moves of God that will result in unprecedented manifestations of his presence. Many fiery Christians will shrink back when God’s true presence manifests.
When we shifted, I began preaching and teaching on the hard topics of salvation, Hell, repentance, the cross and the blood of Jesus. I have to admit I was stunned at the fierce resistance that came as I was communicating the elementary tenets of the Christian faith. I believe it’s possible to experience God’s presence and be so undisciplined and focused on personal experience that one isn’t even saved. This is the main reason this topic has to be addressed. Is it possible some of the most fervent worshipers and wildest dancers weren’t saved? I don’t know. I tremble at the thought of it.
In this critical season, instead of a careless, party atmosphere that had become common at Revival Church, the bar was raised as I called everybody into intentional steps of maturity, repentance and brokenness before the Lord.
What followed broke my heart—and confirmed my suspicions.
With the happy, dancing, party dialed down as we invited God to reveal himself to us in a deeper way, I saw sad faces and disengaged people.
Someone said, “I just want to feel Jesus again.”
What they didn’t realize is that Jesus was actually moving in greater power than he had previously, even though those prior encounters were something to behold. God was calling us deeper, beyond the entertainment and warm fuzzy feelings that are very much Holy Spirit initiated, but limited greatly. There was more—and for those who are addicted to happy feelings, more with God can feel like less.
“I want you to give me your life.”
I understand the struggle with feeling God’s presence removed.
In the early 1990’s God had absolutely overwhelmed my life day after day. I wish I could communicate how remarkable that season of my life was. God was overwhelming me with his presence and I became a different person literally overnight.
After work every day I’d go to the church, by myself, and pray for hours. That’s all I craved to do! God met me there continually, and I was rocked over and over again. My entire life revolved around the prayer room and enjoying God. Nothing compared.
One night my life changed forever. In the midst of my amazing daily encounters with Jesus, I found myself in a prayer room at a youth lock-in in Dayton, Ohio. While 300 students were playing volleyball and basketball I was alone in a dark, glorious room overlooking the skyline of the city. God was waiting for me when I waked in.
I paced around praying and worshiping as the presence of God swirled all around me. I never wanted to leave.
Suddenly, as I was enjoying God, walking back and forth in his manifest presence, I heard a voice, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
I was irritated. My focus on loving Jesus was interrupted by someone with what felt like a terribly different agenda. Little did I know, it was an agenda to grow me up and gauge my devotion.
I shook off that distracting voice, and attempted to enter back into the glory realm. I prayed and worshiped, but the presence of God was completely gone—or so I thought.
Again I heard, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
Though I clearly understood I was being asked to give my life for Jesus, my emotions were negative. I was distraught, irritated, lonely and even afraid. My enjoyment was gone. However, what I didn’t realize was this—my feelings were not sufficient to analyze the situation. God’s presence had actually increased exponentially in that room of destiny, not dissipated. The fearful judge had arrived and he meant business.
You see, the contrast in experiences was so stark that I actually wondered if the voice was coming from Satan! My lack of maturity in spiritual discernment and biblical truth resulted in a misdiagnosis! This is the risk of the presence movement!
I ended up rebuking the voice that was speaking to me! I was rebuking God as if he were Satan! The lesson is clear—our analysis of the situation must include sources much more comprehensive than feelings alone.
After all, would Satan ask me to lay my life down for Jesus? My feelings should have been shelved in that critical moment in lieu of applying the Word of God.
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? Matthew 12:22-26
Though I tried to enter back into worship again, it was futile. I heard the voice one more time, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
I didn’t realize it that night, but the reason I couldn’t enter back into worship is two-fold:
- I wanted to worship a God of my own design. I wanted to enjoy God conditionally. I cringed when he decided to reveal another part of his self to me, and since it wasn’t what I expected, I rejected him, at least temporarily as I was wrestling that night. God demanded that I worship him as he is, not as I presumed.
- I was resistant to embrace the costly, troubling part of Christianity—potential martyrdom. I was all in when the glory was on me, but I was quick to hesitate when something negative was required of me—my death.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39
Finally, in a state of lonely desperation, I realized I couldn’t live my life without the fire of Jesus burning within me. I needed him. I wanted him, even if it meant the loss of my physical life.
Understand, I was convinced that I was going to physically die that night. It was very real to me.
I told God, “I can’t live without you. If my death will result in the advance of your Kingdom, I give you permission to take my life tonight.”
The moment I said that, his manifest glory flooded the room about one hundred times greater than I had experienced it before. I had experienced the glory and the severity of God, and I was forever changed.
When the person said, “I just want to feel Jesus,” they didn’t understand what they were asking for. In my experience I felt Jesus in a variety of ways. My problem was that I presumed happy feelings equaled Jesus and difficult feelings equaled Satan. Boy was I wrong. Happy feelings can be Satan and difficult feelings can be Jesus! We can’t discern emotionally, we must discern spiritually. Confirmation must come from the Word.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
Spiritual discernment bypasses feelings and our human senses and draws from the truth of Scripture.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16
The Rhema and Logos of scripture must drive us. We can’t allow ourselves to check in and out based on what we are sensing. Our commitment is unconditional and it can’t waiver based on what we perceive. We always return to the Word.
We must lean on Jesus and his revealed will in the Word of God.
Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Isaiah 40:13-14
The point is that our counsel must come from the Counselor. Our discernment must come through the spiritual truths found in the Bible. As we yield to the Word, the Holy Spirit can awaken revelation to us as it is needed.
We must move beyond the subjective statements about what we feel God is saying or doing and truly understand his revealed truth.
It’s all too common to hear personal opinions about what someone feels God is saying or doing, and how they feel led to respond, while their discernment is simply off or incomplete.
As we mature we become less reliant on nebulous senses and more reliant on both God’s clear voice and what he reveals to us in scripture.
This issue of leaning on feelings can impact us negatively in many ways. It’s easy to feel like God doesn’t love us due to the lack of, well, feeling him, even though the Bible makes it clear that he does love us. It’s so sadly common to hear about people who struggle their whole lives with this issue. Does God even love them? It’s a black and white question with a black and white answer. Yes. Their feelings have led them astray and it affects their entire life!
The answer is to simply believe! That belief doesn’t come from an experience or a feeling. It comes from reading text on paper (the Bible) and believing it. We don’t have to feel it to believe it!
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
I often tell God that I want to worship him with my belief.
Back to the discussion about my season of teaching on the tenets of the faith. They didn’t result in a euphoric sensory overload. It wasn’t a glory teaching. So, some withdrew when the feeling wasn’t happy even though the information was truth. It was important truth. It was time to go to school and to the altar with tears in our eyes, and not a time of dancing.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Joel 2:15-17
The risk of the coming presence movement is that people will reject anything that doesn’t feel like glory, even when it is God.
The cry of our heart must be for God’s true presence to be with us always, regardless of the form it takes.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:10-11
His presence will hit us with truth as our hearts are cleansed, as we are consecrated. His presence can be glorious and it can be fierce.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. Psalm 97:5
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, Psalm 114:7
God will be raising up key prophetic and apostolic leaders who will be leading people into the presence of God and into the missions of God. There will be many focuses that don’t feel like God (note my experience of being asked to die above) that God’s leaders will call the people to. Will the people respond? What if they don’t sense the Holy Spirit on it? Feelings and senses are wildly subjective. I personally value counsel that’s directly from scripture much more than I do personal, subjective experiences or supposed discernment. That doesn’t mean I don’t at all value personal discernment, but that revelation almost always ends up on the shelf as I await confirmation.
Keep in mind, I radically affirm prophecy. I promote encounters and experiences. I believe in dreams and visions. I have an intercession team that evaluates prophetic data on an ongoing basis. But, the point remains—we see in part. And, we can often see wrongly. It takes humility to admit that.
Sometimes we are so in tune with our own historic personal encounters with the spirit realm that we can lose sight that we are human! I’ve had a lot of amazing encounters and I have a high level of sensitivity in the spiritual realm. I also know that I’m human and that I’ve been wrong in the past. I much prefer to submit prophetic data for evaluation and for confirmation in scripture. Just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is right. Feelings sit on the lowest shelf of the confirmation process. More revelation and confirmation is necessary to trust our feelings.
Apostolic leaders will call you to action very often in ways that are contrary to what you are sensing. Are you ready to respond regardless? Or will you declare that God isn’t in it and hold back?
Read the following point from my article “Five Reasons NOT to Leave a Church.” The reason I’m including it is to highlight how important it is to promote scripture over feelings:
When NOT to leave a church? When God tells you to. OK, I’m sure you are awake now! Have you ever played the God card? As a leader I’ve heard many times, usually through the grapevine, that, “God told so and so to move to another church.” Really? That’s odd. I was entrusted as their leader, which is a very serious position, and God just forgot to tell me about this? He left me out of the loop? Maybe Hebrews 13:17 isn’t what we think it is? The church I’m leading isn’t important enough for people to honor the mission?
I hope you are getting the point.
We are called to submit to authority—even ungodly authority like judges, elected officials and our bosses at work. Certainly it makes sense that God would include our godly authority in a decision making process as important as leaving one family and one mission for another.
The point is this—God wouldn’t just tell you to leave without your leader being involved in the process. In fact, can I just be blunt? It’s extremely disrespectful, presumptuous, rude and self-serving to abdicate your responsibility in your current church by leaving without honoring the authority in your life. Your pastor has every right to participate with you in your process.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (ESV) 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
Why was it important to include that portion of the article? To show how critical it is that we are biblical Christians. We can’t presume a feeling or a discernment exempts us from biblical protocol. I’ve felt on many occasions that a leader in my life wasn’t hearing God, and that I was, but in humility I had to surrender my opinion and follow my leader—and often I realize that my sense was in fact wrong or incomplete. We can’t gravitate toward what is easy, happy, glorious and enjoyable and away from what is troubling or negative by using the “God card.” God will often call us into his fearful presence, and we have to be unified with others who are being led in that direction.
Do you remember the Exodus? The Israelites were famous for analyzing their various situations based on their feelings. They felt alone and abandoned, so they crafted a new god made of gold. They presumed that the absence of God’s manifest presence meant something was off—yet, little did they realize one of the most astounding events in history was taking place up on the mountain! They then ended up dying in the desert when they presumed God was all about their comfort and happiness—and were indignant when he was asking them to put their lives on the line in a land of Giants—and a land of Promise.
I want to challenge you to get ready for a great outpouring of God’s presence. It will feel very different than you expect. It may be a glory cloud or it may be in the midst of a fiery furnace.
Ask yourself how you react to your feelings now. Do they drive you? Do you presume any negative feeling to be from the enemy? Do your feelings and emotions drive your decisions?
You need to wrestle with this now so you are ready to receive Jesus when he shows up. I am certain—he will manifest in ways we’ve never experienced before.
On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.” Exodus 19:16-22
Listen to a POWERFUL and important message on the departure from orthodox Christianity in the Church.
Last night’s message was sobering yet radically freeing—and I implore you to listen to it and let the Holy Spirit shoot the spotlight on the deepest places of your heart.
There are a lot of false, feel good movements out there that feel a lot like the Holy Spirit–but are not. We have a crisis of discernment. True discernment is found in the Word of God, not in a feeling.
I also discuss what I call the theology of exemption. Christians can believe that they are exempt from the ramifications of sin simply because we have chosen to follow Jesus. That’s a doctrine of demons and is resulting in a lot of Christians entering Hell not Heaven when they leave the Earth.
You can listen to it right now, right here: media.johnburton.net/2565526
You can also follow along with the notes that I’ll include below.
ALSO, I hit on many of these same topics in my recent XPmedia video. IN JUST SIX DAYS, This video has more views than any of my other XPmedia videos, and I’d encourage you watch it and prayerfully consider how God might be sharpening your discernment. You can watch the video here: http://www.xpmedia.com/Z1QglFvIu13K
TENETS PART TWO: THE WORD OF GOD
I. The Word
a. Much of the material for our study on the tenets of the faith comes from the book Foundations of Pentecostal Theology.
i. It was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
ii. Our English word Bible comes from the Greek word biblos, meaning "a book."
1. "The Book [biblos] of the generation of Jesus Christ" (Mt. 1:1)
2. It’s also called scripture, which means “holy writings.”
a. Scripture, holy writings, oracles of God, Word of God
b. 2 Peter 1:20 (ESV) 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
c. Mark 7:13 (ESV) 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
d. The Word can be voided in your life if you don’t understand its power, its holy nature.
e. Traditions based on experiences can nullify the Word!
f. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (ESV) 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
c. God speaks!
i. 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)
1. I teach a lot on hearing God’s voice, on revelation.
a. However, the most reliable and most powerful revelation you will receive is the Bible—by far!
i. Jeremiah 23:29 (ESV) 29 Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
ii. All Spirit-filled believers have known, to some degree, the miracle of divine inspiration by the Holy Spirit, but never to the extent experienced by the writers of Scripture.
b. Pastors have abdicated their responsibility of keeping eternity in front of the church. We must touch the hard topics continually.
c. This is why I’m talking about the Word tonight! The church has fallen terribly away from right doctrine! Friday night at theLab was possibly one of the most important shifts we’ve had as God used a simple, fiery young lady to call us into the burden of God’s heart.
d. Julia: God has been speaking to me about why He is doing what He is doing in you and at your church in light of the history, calling and prophetic destiny of Revival Church! It makes so much sense and I am so excited about it! Keep going. You are so walking in step with Gods agenda right now. Also, take heart in that your apostolic anointing is manifesting very strongly right now. You are calling the church back to the foundational truths. Its so good!
e. We must be people of the Word and refuse to give in to the temptation to settle for a softer, cozier gospel.
f. Good Christian Bitches cancelled… comment: I found GCB to be quite entertaining. There is so much that is serious going on in the world, why not bring a little humor into our lives. We as Christians need to stop taking things so seriously – breathe and enjoy life.
i. Sounds good… but what does the Bible say?
ii. Luke 12:19-20 (ESV) 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you…
g. Another example, Christians often fall into a theology of exemption—we presume we are exempt from the ramifications of sin because we are saved.
i. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (ESV) 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1. Intimacy doesn’t not automatically mean we’ll do good works, and doing good works doesn’t automatically mean we’ll be close to God.
iii. Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
iv. Part of his will is intimacy!
h. Craig Groeschel: I think so much of what we think is the "fun, happy, meaningful" life is simply a substitute for the real thing. I think most would want to believe that we're not that accountable to our commitment to Christ. But Scirpture says we're going to be accountable for every word we speak. His grace is probably going to be greater than we realize and yet what we're held accountable to and even the rewards may be greater than we realize as well. Meaning ultimately, the way we live today and what we believe today will have a greater impact on our eternity than we can imagine.
a. Psalms 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
b. We often hear people say that the are just going to flow in the Spirit… they make decisions based on what they sense.
i. We see this in many streams and movements—including the prophetic movement that I so love.
ii. "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:6-9
iii. This is a conference agenda from a well known minister in the prophetic realm… some good, some concerning because of the self-centered focuses:
1. We need to die daily! Surrender! "For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (I Cor. 1:18).
2. Operate in Trances, Raptures & Ecstatic Prayer (Barbara Yoder noted a serious concern about going into trances on command)
a. Colossians 2:18-19 (ESV) 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
b. We must know the Word!
3. Experience Physical Phenomena of Mysticism (what and why?) What is the mystery we should pursue knowledge of? Colossians 1:26-27 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
4. Get Activated in Creative Miracles, Signs & Wonders
a. These follow those who believe in Jesus… who have embraced the cross and resurrection of Christ.
b. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (ESV) 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
c. Mark 16:16-18 (ESV) 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
5. Understand & Access New Creation Realities (What?)
6. Gain A Historical Grid of Miracle Workers & Mystics
7. Be Activated in the Seer Realm, Prophecy, Spirit Travel (Spirit travel on command? Red flag…that happened in Manitou.)
8. Receive Open Heavens & Revelatory Understanding
a. Barbara Yoder is also concerned about this… we are already under an open heavens.
9. Access and Manifest the Glory Realm
i. The major issue is this: Very often our pursuits in the name of God contradicts what the Bible says! If that’s the case, they are putting God’s name on error… it becomes a nephilim doctrine.
ii. They are flowing in a wrong spirit!
iii. John Mulinde: Repent! The greatest sin, people have created their own experiences that they call the Holy Spirit.
a. We must be both Word and Spirit driven:
iv. Isaiah 59:21—"My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth."
v. John 14:26—"The Holy Ghost… shall… bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
vi. Acts 4:31 (ESV) 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
vii. Acts 13:4-5—"Being sent forth by the Holy Ghost…. they preached the word of God."
c. 2 Timothy 3:12-17 (ESV) 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 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.
d. Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) 12 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.
e. This is powerful! We can have all sorts of intentions, thoughts, ideas… but if they don’t align with the Word, we must let the Word slice it off.
f. Before God uses a man greatly, he wounds him deeply. A.W. Tozer
ii. From Julia, John Mulinde form Uganda, truly a world ministry… established on every continent except antartica… at IHOP: Then suddenly a bright light hit my eyes. My eyes were closed. I was on my knees with my head on the ground, but a bright light hit me. I lifted up my eyes and said, “What is this?” I opened my eyes and I couldn’t look in the light. Even when I closed them, it pierced into my eyes. I bowed my head again, and I was trembling and thinking, “What on earth is going on?” Then I heard a voice, deep and calm. He called my name three times. I couldn’t answer. There was no strength in me to answer, but inwardly I was saying, “I’m here.” He called me—“John”—three times. Then He said to me, “I knew you before the creation of the world, and I chose you and set you apart to serve Me as a witness in these last days. I want to say to you, if I had come today to take My Bride, you wouldn’t be part of that. I wouldn’t take you.” I can’t describe the shock that came upon me. I think I was in shock. I didn’t even respond. It hit me. He repeated it. He said, “I wouldn’t take you. For it is written, ‘He will appear to those who wait upon Him’ (Isa. 49:23, paraphrased). You’re not living your life as a person waiting upon Me. You’re allowing all kinds of filth to come into your life. You’re living like one who cares not.” As I said, I couldn’t speak with my lips. At that moment I was thinking, “This can’t be happening to me. I gave up my job to serve the Lord; I gave up my house that my father had given me because I wanted to go to the mission field. I gave up this, I gave up that; this can’t be God saying to me that He wouldn’t take me.” None of my theology and teachings could accept that. He spoke to me these words written in the book of 1 Corinthians 6. He quoted them; I found them later. I couldn’t even remember that they were in the Scriptures, but later on I found them in the Scriptures. It says: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:10). “THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS, AND DESPERATELY WICKED” He went on to say to me, “Your life is so full of filth. You walk with an outward appearance, and you cover many things in your heart. You forget that I am the Lord who examines the heart. You are not ready to meet Me.” He began to say to me, “If your life is full of this and this and this and this, then are you ready for My appearance?” As He measured the various things, I could say, “OK, Lord, have mercy.” But then He mentioned one thing that my heart rejected. In my own understanding, I had never turned into that. He said, “If your life is full of fornication . . . ” And everything in me said, “Oh, no. That cannot be.” I said it in my heart, and the voice stopped. For a moment there was silence. Then He said to me, “There is no crooked word that comes out of My mouth. Do you call Me a liar? But because you don’t even know your own heart, I will show it to you. Remember this day when you were in this place at this hour?” Brothers and sisters, I didn’t even remember. I practically saw myself back in that very moment—not as a memory, but as a reality. I was back in that moment. I saw myself sitting in the taxi waiting for the taxi car to be filled. Then I was looking out at some lady with all kinds of filthy imaginations. The moment it came back, I thought, “Oh, God, I have sinned against You.” He said, “No, you haven’t sinned. You live in sin. You live in that. You live from morning to evening in such imaginations. Even in your bed at night you indulge in the same. I know every moment of your private life. I know your thoughts. You don’t even fear, even sitting in church. Someone steps up on the platform to serve Me and you strip them naked in your imagination. You imagine all kinds of things. I am the Lord who examines the heart. Have you not read that he who even looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her (Mt. 5:28)?” Pictures began to pass before me of how my imagination works. This isn’t something of which I could say, “Lord, I fell in sin. Lord, I was weak.” It was my way of life. It was my constant way of life. I was comfortable in it. I was comfortable that no one else could see it, but God was saying, “I see it. I am the Lord who examines the heart.” I was so ashamed, but then He said, “That’s not the worst of all. You still live in this.” He began to mention things that appear humanly small: the envy, the manipulation and undercutting of one another so that you remain appearing the best, so that you appear to do the best, to preach the best, to work more miracles, to be more anointed; all the manipulation and self-promotions, all the grudges we hold in our hearts when we see someone else being promoted or recognized before us. The way the Lord brought it up, it was so filthy. I cried and cried, and at some point I was so intent on my grief. Then He raised His voice and said, “Keep quiet and listen.” “I NEVER KNEW YOU; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS!” I kept quiet, and He went on and on and on, unveiling more and more things. Even the things which appear so small, at that moment appeared so rotten. I felt like I was standing before the judgment seat with everything being thrown out. I wanted to say, “Stop, stop, I accept it all,” but He wasn’t stopping. At some point I was just saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He said, “Keep quiet.” I wasn’t speaking loudly; I was speaking in my heart. He said, “Keep quiet and listen.” As He continued I thought, “I must have been deceived. All along I thought I was serving God and yet I’m so filthy inside. I must have been deceived. The Devil must have taken my life captive a long time ago.” At that moment I thought of the miracles we were witnessing. I thought of the healings. I thought of all those wonderful things, and suddenly my heart sunk. I thought, “The Devil has so deceived me that he could even use me to produce counterfeit miracles; to produce things I thought God was working—and yet it was the Devil all along . . . ” The voice kept quiet for a moment, and then He said to me, “Why are you imagining such thoughts? I don’t do miracles because you’re worthy. I do miracles because I love My people before whom you stand to preach. Have you never read of how they will come to Me on that day and say, ‘Lord, Lord, in Your name we worked miracles, cast out demons, and prophesied’? Then I will say to them, ‘Get out of My sight, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you’” (Mt. 7:21–23, paraphrased). He said, “Don’t depend on the miracles to assess your worthiness. Your worthiness isn’t in the signs and wonders you witness in ministry. I do miracles because I love the people, and My name shall never be left without witness on earth.” He said, “Have you not ever read that without holiness, no one will see God (Heb. 12:14)? It’s not the miracles; it’s the holiness that comes from God.” He spoke to me the scripture in the book of Hebrews.
d. Divisions of scripture
1. The Hebrew Old Testament was commonly divided into three sections:
a. The Law (Torah), five books:
b. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
2. The Prophets (Nebhiim), eight books:
a. Former Prophets—Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings
b. Latter Prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Twelve
3. The Writings (Kethubim), eleven books:
a. Poetical Books—Psalms, Proverbs, Job
b. Five Rolls (Megillot)—Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Esther, Ecclesiastes
c. Historical Books—Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah (in the Hebrew canon, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were combined), Chronicles
1. Biographical (four books): Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
2. Historical (1 book): Acts
3. Pedagogical (twenty-one books): Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude
4. Prophetic (one book): Revelation.
1. The first Bible to be published entirely divided into verse was the Geneva Bible of 1560.
1. The Bible is one Book, but it is also many books written by at least forty different authors, over a period of not less than fifteen hundred years, many of whom never saw each other.
2. Backgrounds of the writers
a. Two of the writers were kings—David and Solomon.
b. Two were priests—Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
c. Luke was a physician.
d. Two were fishermen—Peter and John.
e. Two were shepherds—Moses and Amos.
f. Paul was a Pharisee and a theologian.
g. Daniel was a statesman.
h. Matthew was a tax collector.
i. Joshua was a soldier.
j. Ezra was a scribe.
k. Nehemiah was a butler.
e. The Inerrancy of the Scriptures
1. The inerrancy of the Scripture means that in its original autographs the Bible contains no mistakes. In the original languages in which it was written, it is absolutely infallible—without error whatsoever.
2. This Book was written by man—fallen, weak, sinful man, with all the potential of misunderstanding, misinterpretation, lack of memory, and even the possibility of malicious falsehood. Yet, it is claimed that the Book man wrote contains no evidence whatever of all these natural weaknesses.
3. The doctrine of inerrancy comes from the Scriptures themselves. It claims to be inspired by God. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim. 3:16). "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. 1:21).
4. The writers of the Old Testament are most explicit in claiming they were speaking the Word of God. They claim 3,808 times to be transmitting His very words.
5. Moses said in the beginning of scripture: Deuteronomy 4:2 (ESV) 2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.
6. In the middle of the Bible, Proverbs 30:5-6 (ESV) 5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
7. At the end of the Bible, Revelation 22:18 (ESV) 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
8. Jesus also found no error in Scripture… he specifically confirmed the whole of the OT. He did not find error or inconsistency with it. He continually based his arguments and exhortations on it.
a. John 10:34-35 (ESV) 34 …and Scripture cannot be broken—
b. Luke 24:44 (ESV) 44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
9. Lewis Chafer says the Bible is infinite because it discloses truth concerning the infinite God, infinite holiness, infinite sin, and infinite redemption.
10. Myer Pearlman concludes his section on bibliology with the words: "Intellectual defenses of the Bible have their place; but after all, the best argument is the practical one. The Bible has worked. It has influenced civilizations, transformed lives, brought light, inspiration and comfort to millions. And its work continues."
a. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (ESV) 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
b. It’s God breathed. It’s the same language and meaning that we see when God breathed into Adam.
f. The law
1. I’ve often heard Christians say that the OT does not apply to us anymore. What? It’s an evidence of biblical ignorance.
2. First we need to understand that the law and works are not the same thing!
a. We are still called to good works… while the law refers to a specific set of commands found in the OT.
b. Adherence to the law is not a part of salvation. Works, however, is. Faith alone can’t save us.
i. James 2:14 (ESV) 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
ii. Check this out… there is a certain type of works that does no good:
iii. Romans 3:28 (ESV) 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
iv. …of the law. In the OT it was the Mosaic law that was their only hope. In the NT, faith in Jesus that’s evidenced through New Covenant obedience and works is what saves us.
v. Joseph Tkach: The New Testament does give us rules and behavioral expectations, but these should be seen as the result of a faith relationship, not as the basis for it.
vi. Romans 3:29-30 (ESV) 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
vii. We don’t have to be circumcised, but we do still have to obey, to respond to God’s NT commands.
c. The New Testament contains hundreds of commands. Although some of Paul's comments about the law seem negative, Paul himself gave us hundreds of commands.
i. How does Paul unite the concepts of liberty and obligation?
ii. Galatians 5:13 (ESV) 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
iii. Galatians 5:16-21 (ESV) 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
d. Look at Matt 22:
e. Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV) 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
f. The power of that scripture is that God’s attributes are affirmed. Loving God and others covers a lot of ground!
g. In the OT obedience was required and in the NT obedience is required.
i. The difference? Jesus often told people to obey God, but Moses is not the standard by which obedience is now measured.
h. Jesus told his disciples to preach the gospel throughout the world. This gospel focuses on the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ.
i. We don’t take the cross lightly, but we realize how profoundly it obligates us to obey the One who gave himself for us.
j. Matthew 28:20 tells us that Christians should be taught to obey their Lord and Savior in addition to believing in him.
k. Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
l. They had to obey then, and we have to obey now. Why?
3. God has never changed and never will!
a. 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.
b. Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV) 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.
4. The call is actually greater in the NT than in the OT! Only by grace can we fulfill this mandate.
a. 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.
b. Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV) 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.
i. Some Christians commit adultery multiple times every day! In the OT you could get away with this… but not in the NT!
c. Matthew 5:31-32 (ESV) 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.
d. Matthew 5:38-39 (ESV) 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.
e. Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV) 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.
5. When considering what was fulfilled and is no longer applicable, ask whether it’s part of the Mosaic ceremonial law or not. There are moral laws in the OT that absolutely do still apply.
a. The Mosaic law came 430 years after the Abrahamic covenant. This is the law that was fulfilled.
6. 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, as we can see with the example of tassels, and 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)
7. 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.
8. Michael Morrison The old covenant is obsolete. This does not mean the covenant is mostly valid, except for those laws specifically rescinded. No, it means the covenant itself is obsolete. It is like a law code that the government has declared invalid. It is not a valid source for rules about Christian behavior. Of course, some individual laws, such as the prohibition of adultery, are valid, but their validity is based on something more permanent than the old covenant — the more basic law that existed before the old covenant was given and still exists after the old covenant became obsolete.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.”
c. …the promise was not annulled… it was made available. 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.
d. 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?
e. 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.
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.
f. 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!
g. In Acts 15 Peter addresses the laws that concern diet and circumcision… but moral laws remain.
h. 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.
i. Some examples of obsolete laws:
i. Animal sacrifice (Go PETA!)
1. Hebrews 10:4 (ESV) 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
ii. Food and drink offerings and ceremonial washings
1. Hebrews 9:6-10 (ESV) 6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
iii. Wearing distinctive clothing
1. Numbers 15:37-38 (ESV) 37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner.
2. Numbers 15:39 (ESV) 39 And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes…
3. The principle is upheld in the NT, but not the requirement. We are still to obey, but we don’t dress with tassels to remind us to.
iv. Annual festivals (Feast of Tabernacles, Yom Kippur, Passover, etc.)
1. The old covenant required annual worship festivals. It specified the date and the place, the manner and the people to whom the commands applied. God did not command gentiles to keep this festival. It was one of the ordinances that separated Jews from gentiles, and the early church did not require gentile believers to travel to Jerusalem, to make offerings, to gather palm branches or to live in booths. Those things were part of the old covenant, which God made with ancient Israel. They are not part of the new covenant.
v. Dietary laws and uncleanness
1. You became unclean for a variety of things including touching a corpse, lepers, etc.
2. Numbers 19:11-13 (ESV) 11 “Whoever touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days. 12 He shall cleanse himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so be clean. But if he does not cleanse himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not become clean. 13 Whoever touches a dead person, the body of anyone who has died, and does not cleanse himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from Israel; because the water for impurity was not thrown on him, he shall be unclean. His uncleanness is still on him.
3. Matthew 8:2-3 (ESV) 2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
4. Bill Johnson: In the OT if a leper touches you, you become unclean. In the NT if you touch a leper he becomes clean.
vi. Some types of foods were unclean
1. Romans 14:20 (ESV) 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.
2. The Great Commandment is at work here.