Why are so many Believers trading God's justice for mob justice?
Don Carson explains, “To preach moral duty without the underlying power of the gospel is moralism that is both pathetic and powerless.”
It seems many Christians have fully swapped out morality rule books, trading the Bible for an ever-changing social justice manual. One was written by the very hand of God and will never be erased, edited or discredited. The other? The loudest and most influential voices win the right to determine what the societal rules of the day are. Of course, the rules change according to whatever their current agenda is, and most aren't privy to these rules until they are cancelled, or worse.
Of course, most people of God wouldn't admit to shelving the Word of God in favor of the word of the mob. Instead, they have been known to attempt an unholy morphing of the two manuscripts while most often favoring social justice issues. Biblical truths are forced to fit within manmade definitions of what is right and fair.
The truth is biblical justice and social justice are often, though not always, mutually exclusive. They are at odds.
“You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice. And do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor.” (Exodus 23:2–3, NLT)
The plumbline of morality can never be the crowd. This is the clearest way to express the concern with today's social justice movement. Does it mean the crowd is always wrong? No. Does it mean the crowd is imperfect in its ability to discern? Yes. For Christians the litmus test of morality does not come from our ability to gauge unfairness or improprieties. The test is Scripture. We don't need a social justice movement that's tainted by the agendas, whims, politics and emotional reactions of the squeakiest wheels. We need a movement of God's justice on the Earth as he is the only perfect judge. His justice is never wrong.
There are many distinctions between social justice and biblical justice. Here are just a few.
GOD JUDGES FAIRLY
Social justice promotes an often twisted version of fairness, demanding individuals, entire people groups or segments of society are punished, minimized or discredited for the sake of those the mob values. The agenda becomes the standard of fairness, though it's laughable to even consider using the word.
For Believers the standard is radically and entirely different than the one social justice advocates have adopted. The reality is that the fairness of God can be both comforting and terrifying.
Those who have been wronged and who are putting their full trust in God can rest knowing God is their advocate.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19–21, ESV)
God's fairness should also strike us with fear. Those who promote social justice would do well to understand that outside of Christ we are all wretched, wicked and soaked in sin. Advocating for the disenfranchised without revealing they are literally living under the wrath of God will bring only the most temporary of relief. If it's fairness we are talking about, we need to grasp the reality that we all deserve the never-ending, horrifying, maddening and tormenting fires of Hell. This is fair and right judgment.
However, while the bad news of social justice cancels and defames any and all who have failed to support their cause or measure up to their humanistic standard, the good news of the Gospel reveals the wonder of God's love. God knew we could never measure up to the standard of holiness necessary to live with him forever. His passion for us (unlike the disdain seen in cancel culture) resulted in the greatest act of love the world has even known. Jesus died so we could live.
FORGIVENESS VERSUS RETRIBUTION
The spirit behind many social justice movements is one of punishment. The Spirit of God yearns to forgive all. The Bible tells us that God wants no man to perish. Social justice is so broken and limited in its ability to truly promote a societal fix that punishment and promotion becomes the only system available to them. Punish the oppressors and resisters as they promote the cause of the oppressed.
In today's social justice driven cancel culture the concept of forgiveness is laughable. I am so grieved at the amount of vitriol that is vomited across social media today. People are fueled by pure hatred and vengeance against those who stand in their way. I've seen it on both sides of the political aisle. In fact, it's often professing Christians exposing their fangs preparing to devour any who oppose their earthly mission.
What would happen if, instead of a “defund the police” social justice movement we saw masses of people holding signs that proclaimed “forgive the police?”
In fact, what if we saw pro-lifers declaring, “I forgive the abortionists” as they prayed outside of the clinics?
“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.” (Luke 23:34, ESV)
This humble and loving heart posture wouldn't mean we can't still contend for police reform or the ending of abortion. But it does flip the script by driving the conversation from a place of humility and deep love for the offenders.
Instead of punitive demands for people to make amends (or to be cancelled permanently), true love and true justice would instead call people to repentance. With tears in our eyes and compassion in our hearts we must look at the oppressors and call them into God's Kingdom. They are not people to be crushed and despised, but rather they are potential future brothers and sisters.
God makes it clear that we must love our enemies, not cancel them. We pray for them, contend for their souls and reveal the passion God has for them.
When penance takes the place of repentance we put people into an impossible situation. While it feels good for social justice mobs to exert control and enforce punishment, it's a carnal, demonic emotional rush that only brings destruction.
Further, as we are inviting people into glorious repentance and into a new life in Jesus, we must search our own hearts. As we fight for true justice it's critical that we walk in humility, love and repentance ourselves. Social justice is often driven by pride and puffed out chests. God's justice results in us hitting our knees and humbly advocating for those who so desperately need God.
EARTH ISN'T OUR HOME
It's disturbing how much energy some churches are giving to social justice initiatives to the exclusion of preparing people for what happens after we leave the earth. To devote so much effort to what amounts to a blip, a vapor, a split second in time compared to an impending eternity makes little sense. No sense. Campaigning for some sort of fairness on the earth is ultimately meaningless if those on the receiving end are not also prepared for life after death.
Of course, we see this carnality play out in many additional ways. It's not exclusive to the focus of social justice. Many Christians are intent on indulging on temporal selfish pleasures while having little thought of the price they are paying eternally.
Is the Gospel being preached? Is Heaven and Hell on the forefront of conversations? We can give our lives attempting to help others naturally while failing miserably in preparing them spiritually. Evangelism is the tool God has given us to reach the world. Social justice is an imperfect and possibly dangerous substitute, especially when utilized outside of the framework of Scripture.
“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”” (John 18:36, ESV)
THERE IS A PLACE FOR GODLY JUSTICE MOVEMENTS
In no way am I attempting to argue that we should sit on our hands with muzzles on our mouths. No, we shouldn't remain silent when people are wrongfully attacked, minimized and oppressed. We should go to battle as agents of the Lord and push back the forces of darkness.
Wickedness is rampant in the earth and God is looking for fearless warriors to confront the evils of abortion, sex trafficking, racial injustice and other ills.
I didn't cover all I could in regard to the dangers of wrongfully applied social justice movements and I'll not even begin to cover all of the opportunities for biblical justice in our nation. The point I'm attempting to make is that we must address issues in society with truth, the right motive and with the loving, compassionate heart of God.
We cannot use division and battles between cultural groups to bring healing and justice to our nation. The Bible demands that we don't oppress each other and also that we refuse to scheme against each other. We can see this world impacted if we refuse to demonize the oppressors and if we respond to sociological crisis with the love of Jesus.
“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.” (Zechariah 7:9–10, NLT)
Photo credit: “Moral Monday March & Interfaith Social Justice Rally” by twbuckner is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Originally published by The Stream.
In this end-time hour, Christians are distracted by everything from politics, masks, American freedom, building ministries and seeking all sorts of pleasures.
“Leave it there, I'll finish it later.”
Standing in the gas chamber at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri, I overheard our guide's story of the last moments of a prisoner's life.
The air-tight capsule took the lives of forty people between the years of 1937 and 1989. The Warden would pull a lever initiating the process that combined sodium cyanide and sulfuric acid. The resulting gas would painfully and all-too-slowly end a human life.
A few short feet from the cramped gas chamber was a cell. This is where death row inmates spent their last few hours before being secured with leather straps to the last chair they would ever sit in. The cell was also the place their last meal was eaten.
As the story goes, after eating a portion of his meal, the unnamed prisoner was escorted from his cell toward the gas chamber. A guard took the unfinished meal to throw it away, which caused the concerned prisoner to say, “Leave it there, I'll finish it later.”
He wasn't joking. He didn't fully grasp what was about to happen. Eternity was not on his mind.
There was no need to save the food. He would not be finishing it later.
I propose the whole of America, and the bulk of the church isn't grasping what is about to happen either. Eternity is not on the mind of most.
DISTRACTED IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING
I received a text message several years ago that launched me into one of the most bizarre, sad and thankful moments of my life. The message contained condolences from a pastor in Branson, Missouri. My dad died. I immediately called my mom and she confirmed the unexpected news. My head was spinning as I immediately started mentally preparing for a sudden trip from Detroit to Branson. Suddenly the phone call with my mom dropped as another call was coming in. It was from my dad.
Dazed and confused, I answered the phone. My dad was alive. I asked him, “What in the world is going on?” His voice was weak as he explained that news of his death was premature. My mom was bedridden and was not able to be with my dad in the hospital. She heard incorrectly and shared the false status with friends and family. News spread and my dad, who was literally on his death bed, called all over town (where he was very well known) letting people know he was still alive.
He told me, “I'm still in the land of the living, but it won't be long.”
He was peaceful, thoughtful, still with a sense of humor and focused on his soon coming transition into eternity.
Our family made the long drive and I was able to see him, though he was sedated and unable to respond. He died that night.
Of course, I was deeply sad, but I was also thankful I was able to talk with my dad on that fateful phone call one last time.
Eternity is coming to all of us and it is of supreme importance that we talk about it. A lot.
Can anybody explain to me why it's so rare for pastors and preachers to prepare people for the end-times, much less eternity? Does anybody know why Christians are so distracted by the cares of life instead of staying intently zeroed in on the most dramatic moment of their lives, entering into forever?
We are distracted by lesser things in the land of the living while not understanding there is a transition coming soon and very soon.
I've never seen such passion from people as I have in the last year. Sadly, it's not because of revival. The zeal isn't a result of encountering the Holy Spirit. People haven't been provoked by the soon coming return of Jesus. No, people are shouting with ferocity about masks, elections, riots and politics of every sort. They are energized by the short-term, temporal issues of this lifetime.
Other passions people are exhibiting have nothing to do with the previous year in our nation. Many ministers have been drunk on growing bigger churches and email lists for decades. Christians are trying to live the American dream while forsaking their Kingdom perspectives. Idols, fears, desires and debates are distracting us.
I'm not saying we can't joyfully invest ourselves in the life God gives us. We can. We should. There's a right and good way to deal with politics, cultural issues, our jobs, family demands, dreams, building businesses and everything else that fills up the seventy or so years we are on the earth. However, the moment the land of the living takes precedence in our daily lives is the moment our lives become endangered. Everything we do must be in sync with preparing for the end-times and the coming trillions (endless) years of our eternity.
We are all on death row. It's a sobering thought, one that most of us want to shut out, but it's truth.
I wish I could explain the feeling I had as I was standing outside of the small out-building that contained the gas chamber. The left door was for spectators of the execution. The right was for the inmate, Warden and others directly involved with the process. I was overwhelmed, spiritually more than emotionally, as I envisioned demons all around preparing to escort one of the parade of souls into their version of eternity. This literally played out time after time in years past as unrepentant criminals vacated their bodies and entered the torments of hell. Only those who authentically surrendered their lives to Jesus prior to the gas overwhelming them would see angels instead of demons.
As I looked at the never-ending rows of claustrophobic cells in the main prison cell blocks, my feeling was only enhanced. Sadness struck me knowing the despair and hopelessness that possessed all who lived there throughout the years prior to the prison closing. While we are debating over Trump and Biden and viruses and vaccines, people are flooding into eternity. Imprisoned souls are hopeless as the church is distracted.
It wrecks me knowing the high majority of those inside that prison entered into madding torture that will never end. Friends, we must change our focus.
I'm troubled by how few are waking up every morning preparing for the end. We should also be preparing others. It's coming very soon, and the distractions in our nation are killing us.
Our life now is but a vapor. What we focus on everyday matters, and that focus must absolutely be eternity.
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:13–14, ESV)
“…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, ESV)
Not only will we be full of life but others will be powerfully impacted when we are driven by eternity.
Our life in Jesus is not as much about finding satisfaction here as it is in living with eternity as our prime focus. It's about Jesus and ruling and reigning with him forever! It's about sounding alarms and warning as many as we can about the reality of hell and the hope of Jesus. It's about capturing the heart of God and preparing our families for the end season we are quickly moving into.
Let's reprioritize pretty much everything and look at politics, viruses, the church, our families, our dreams, our entertainment and all the rest through the lens of eternity. The flow to hell will slow and the church will be ready for all that is to come. Masks, viruses and politics won't be as important and will finally receive attention with a Kingdom perspective.
Both angels and demons are getting ready for our point of transition into eternity, not to mention billions of others all over the world.
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2, ESV)
Originally published by The Stream.
I'm calling the godless politicians and the liberal media to swift, heart-wrenching repentance.
nefarious [ ni-fair-ee-uhs ]
adjective – extremely wicked or villainous; iniquitous
As I think about various online church services, meetings that consist of no more than ten people on site due to lockdown laws in our nation, I see something else. As these governmentally controlled worship events play out on the screens of American Christians on Sunday mornings, it's easy to miss the strings. Most don't notice them at all.
A nefarious group of people, made up of politicians, those in the media, social networking executives and other cultural leaders and influencers, are just off screen, positioned above the puppets they are controlling.
These puppet masters have been exposed and their evil schemes have been made clear. President Trump called them out as he sharply decreed that churches should open immediately.
“Governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now — for this weekend,” Trump said at a hastily arranged press conference at the White House.
“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential” but not churches, he said. “It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”
“These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united,” he added. ~APNews
A BOLD CALL FOR REPENTANCE
While it's true that every one of us must embrace the call to repentance, and we all must be surrendered to Jesus at a much deeper level, I'm specifically addressing our nation's leaders.
Politicians such as Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Governor Andrew Cuomo, I implore you to humble yourselves and to bow your knees to Jesus.
Media influencers including Mark Zukerberg and Jack Dorsey, just like all of us, your time is limited. The Holy Spirit is drawing you to surrender your pride, your dreams, your ideals, your philosophies and your power to Jesus. All of it. There is no other way to God than Jesus Christ. I'd have it no other way.
Living radically, zealously for Jesus is indescribable. The split second after you make the decision to live wholeheartedly for Jesus you are sure to weep over the wasted years of your lives. The freedom, joy and explosive life that will hit you will rock you to your core.
No political power, media empire or personal pursuits could ever compare to the tangible, overwhelming love and power of Jesus.
I told God many years ago that I refused to follow him, or even acknowledge him, if he wasn't a very real, omnipotent, just and loving Creator. If he didn't heal the sick or deliver the tormented I would have nothing to do with him. If he was just a story in a book instead of a living and active person, I'd reject Christianity fully. I was serious.
As I walked around that lonely, empty room in Dayton, Ohio many years ago, desperate for God to actually be real, I then declared, “But, if you are real, if you do work miracles, if I can know you personally, if you are all powerful, I will die for you.”
Again, I was serious. You see, I only have one very short life to live and I have no desire to waste it on religious foolishness. However, I'll surrender this very short life for someone I love, and for the one who loves me, if Jesus is in fact real.
Allow me to confirm he absolutely is. After that prayer, that cry for a legitimate revelation of God, he invaded my life in ways I could never explain. The absolutely ridiculous, indescribable and countless miracles I've experienced since that fateful day continue to stun me time and again as I remember all he has done. Without question I'm willing and ready to live and die for Jesus.
So, again, those who are closing churches, censoring Christian and conservative messages and resisting God in favor of your own pursuits, please, speedily repent. Sin kills and the finality of Hell is so terrible to consider it's hard for me to even think about. God is love and he is just. Eternity is about to reveal itself to all of us. It won't be long. Entering into the rest of forever, the moment after we die, without surrendering our hearts and bowing our knees to Jesus results in the unthinkable. I am crying out for your souls. Don't delay for even a moment. Repent, turn from your wickedness and proclaim to the nation your new found love for Jesus!
PASTORS, YOU AREN'T OFF THE HOOK
If there are puppet masters, that means there must be puppets.
I am thankful for people of God like Rodney Howard-Browne, Jeremiah Johnson and many others who refused to be controlled by the state. They rejected the strings of the puppet masters as they continued to gather in worship.
It's one thing for pastors to shutter services because God told them to. It's entirely another thing if they do so because secular government forces them to. Pastors, you have to ask which voice you heeded.
I suggest there might be cause for repentance among many of God's leaders who have refused the fiery furnace in favor of taking a knee at the command of a wicked king. The music played and the worship environment was affirmed by the nation's evil leader. (Daniel 3)
The king required all to bow to an idol as worship music played, and all but three did. They were thrown into a furnace and we all know the rest of the story. Today we have pastors being arrested for refusing to bow. We have threats, citations and legislation put in place that defy God's people
However, when God's people take a stand against wickedness, against nefarious puppet masters, God is exalted.
17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18 (NLT2)
When we are willing to lose everything, including our lives, our churches, our money, our reputations and everything we value to stand for Jesus, miracles happen.
What happened next is what must happen in America now.
24 But suddenly, Nebuchadnezzar jumped up in amazement and exclaimed to his advisers, “Didn’t we tie up three men and throw them into the furnace?” “Yes, Your Majesty, we certainly did,” they replied. 25 “Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” Daniel 3:24-25 (NLT2)
And, ultimately, the leaders of America will proclaim devotion to the Lord. It's time to stand in defiance to the wicked puppet masters who would demand we bow our knee to their decrees. When we do, America just might be saved, and so might the puppet masters.
28 Then Nebuchadnezzar said, “Praise to the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel to rescue his servants who trusted in him. They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore, I make this decree: If any people, whatever their race or nation or language, speak a word against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, they will be torn limb from limb, and their houses will be turned into heaps of rubble. There is no other god who can rescue like this!” Daniel 3:28-29 (NLT2)
Originally published at The Stream.
The church is suffering a crisis of faith as logic, experience, humanistic wisdom and emotional intuition are causing many to reject biblical truth.
5 …so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5 (ESV)It's stunning to see how easily some Christians change their theologies to match their experiences, their compassion, their definition of love, their frustrations, their logic, their doubts, their temptations and their emotions. Read the Bible. Believe the Bible. It's that easy. I'll take the chaos of faith over the precision of facts any day. Common sense would tell us a beautiful painting of mountains, trees and a log cabin on the banks of a rushing river would be more valuable than an abstract splattering of colors applied by whipping streaks and smears of paint onto a canvas. Jackson Pollock's abstract art simply titled No. 5 is currently worth $140 million. It's chaotic, nonsensical and it doesn't depict anything other than streaks, splotches and randomness. Yet it's currently ranked as the fifteenth most valuable piece of art in the world. This is how I see faith. It often doesn't make sense, and there are many other representations of reality that sure seem more worthy of attention. Yet, as Believers, we affirm what God values, and he deeply values great faith.
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)The bottom line is that we believe God, no matter how obvious altering arguments seem to be. While an imperfect application, might I suggest that left brained people, those who are given to facts, figures, logic and intellectualism, might struggle more with faith then right brained people, those who see beyond the obvious and into the mystical. Their spiritual canvas is filled with random streaks and blotches that depict glorious life. They know truth trumps facts and it actually excites them to trust God at that level. Of course, as I said, this suggestion is not at all perfect as there are many brilliant intellectually wired men and women of God who are giants in the faith. Yet, the point I'm making is that many struggle to trust God when smacked in the face with seemingly clear and undeniable factual realities. Faith in the invisible can be snuffed out by reason. For me, the Bible comes alive when I approach it as a trusting child. I read it and I believe it. I'm not saying I'm not challenged by it because of course I am. Yet, the collision of biblical truth with natural facts invigorates me. I come alive as I reject all that contradicts the Word of God, no matter how naturally convincing, and watch in faith for God's truth to miraculously activate in my life. If God said it, I believe it and that settles it.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)
HealingThe world is currently cowering in fear over the coronavirus scare, and sadly this includes many Christians. In fact, churches are banning handshakes and laying hands on people at the altar! “Lay hands on the sick and they shall recover” has suddenly changed for many Christians. Now it's “avoid touching the sick so we don't catch it.” I wonder if they realize this is the exact opposite way Scripture instructs them to respond.
15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 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.” Mark 16:15-18 (ESV) 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. James 5:14-15 (ESV)In a recent article I dealt directly with the fact that coronavirus is embarrassing the church as supposed blood-bought Christians are freaking out just like the rest of the world, and faith is nowhere to be found.
Are you taking the opportunity to show the lost you are fearless, full of faith and joyful? Or do they sense your anxiety about coronavirus? A crisis of faith has been exposed. Coronavirus is embarrassing the church. Have you noticed any difference at all between the godless world and those who are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, the Healer? Bold decrees of faith, not confessions of fear and worry, should be exploding out of our mouths! Instead, Christians are hiding in caves, running from the battle and trembling not in the fear of the Lord, but the fear of the enemy. Sure, take precautions, but don't cower. Don't respond like the world. Don't allow the enemy to impact your life. Live! Be free! You are covered by the blood of Jesus! Of all people, we should be the ones preaching faith not fear. Put the ridiculous spiritual face masks away. Your mouth is your weapon! Don't allow the enemy to muzzle you. Speak to the fear and command it to dissipate! Renounce the tactics of the evil one! Let the world see just how powerful Jesus is and how different his children are! We run to the battle! ~Christians are being embarrassed by coronavirus, John Burton
EternityUniversalism, annihilationism, false-grace, false-love and other heretical theologies are growing at record pace today. Why? People have traded truth for a golden calf. Emotionally, they can't reconcile how God is the perfect representation of pure love while also choosing to cast those who don't serve him into everlasting torment. Logically they have concluded that since no human father would ever punish a disobedient child in such a fashion, then, of course, God who loves at an exponentially deeper level than any human father wouldn't either. Common sense for them trumps biblical truth. In fact, I've heard some reject conscious eternal torment so ferociously that they foolishly equate such an act with the child sacrifices of Molech. That's venturing into blasphemy of the Holy Spirit territory. Be careful. I believe it's a mistake to be limited to the realm of logic and emotion. We can't allow our sympathy and our compassion to define our theology. Simply trust that God's love transcends our understanding of how it functions. Judgment does fit within the construct of love. I have no need to force God to fit inside my limited definition of love, and in fact I hope that he never would. His justice and his mercy aren't competing realities. Love and wrath aren't mutually exclusive. The Bible has the final say and it reveals with clarity that those who die in their sins do in fact enter into never-ending torment. We can't rewrite Scripture. Just believe it and respond accordingly.
10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10 (NKJV) 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15 (NKJV)
Born in SinToday it seems many have shifted from believing we are all born in sin to defending our various desires and temptations by declaring we were “born that way.” Homosexuals, for example, are known for surrendering to feelings, emotions, yearnings and a strong pull to adopt what Christians know to be deviant lifestyles. They argue that the strength of their desires is evidence that we have been interpreting the Bible incorrectly. Others believe it's ridiculous to suggest that a precious newborn baby is tainted by sin since they are innocent and have no capacity to commit sin. Still others suggest there's an “age of accountability” that must be crossed before sin becomes an issue. The problem? The Bible suggests no such age of accountability. It clearly reveals that all are born in sin. It's also point blank obvious that certain lifestyles are in fact sin no matter how powerful the urges are. We were born wicked and every unholy desire must be crucified. We must surrender to Jesus if we hope to be saved. Again, common sense, powerful desires, emotional cues, intellectual discernment and all forms of logic must submit to the truth of Scripture. Yes, it's truth that may at times seem contradictory and it is often mystical and too deep to grasp, but it's truth nonetheless. Keep in mind that God has no obligation to explain himself to us. As harsh as it sounds, it's his way or the highway to hell. He is God and we are not. If you don't like that, don't follow him, but please don't attempt to redefine him to fit your perfect image of how a god should look and behave.
18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV)Unbelief tends to consume people when it comes to finances. Remember, God is a very good God and he loves to prosper his children. In the age of certain greedy televangelists, it's common for many to renounce this pursuit as unrighteous, yet they are doing so in the face of clear Scripture to the contrary. Common sense would say we can expect to lose money when we give it away, yet spiritual sense would agree with the Word. When we give, it's given back in much greater measure. Don't attempt to rewrite the Word of God to match your own struggles with faith. Don't oppose other people who are standing in faith and who are seeing God miraculously move in their finances. Does God promise to supply every need or not? Does God promise to prosper or not? Does God give us the ability to create wealth or not? We need to put to bed every argument in opposition to God's Word, no matter how logical they may seem.
19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
PrayerMy article The Secret Sauce of Supernatural Encounter reveals several of the ingredients necessary to experience God. Answered prayer has a similar recipe. It's grieving how quickly people give up on a life of intercession simply because they aren't seeing the breakthrough they are seeking. Natural proof has become their god and blind faith is deemed foolish. Speaking of blind faith, I've heard it said that Heidi Baker prayed for every blind person she found for a solid year before the first one received their sight. This is critical to understand. God desires to heal. Period. He wants to move miraculously in every situation. The fact that we are experiencing breakthrough has nothing to do with God and everything to do with us. Heidi needed to learn how to see healing manifest. There was process. The fact that blind people weren't healed wasn't because of God, it was because Heidi was learning how to heal. To adopt a false teaching that says God doesn't always desire to heal due to our own delay would be a tragic decision. Unfortunately, it's a decision that many Christians have made. There are usually several reasons why prayer goes unanswered, and few people are determined enough to wrestle through them. They prefer to blame God or to give up on the idea the healing is for today, that miracles are to be common and that we are to live in the supernatural realm. There are multiple blockages to breakthrough including doubt, sin, a lack of fervency, misunderstanding of our spiritual authority, not engaging in spiritual warfare, misunderstanding the scriptural position on the matter, not hearing God's voice, not discerning his will, not praying in tongues, giving up too early, wrong motives and much, much more. You see, you can't determine that God doesn't want to answer prayer just because he isn't doing so. We can't reject undeniable scriptural truths just because we can't break through. Prayer works when we pray correctly. It must be effective and it must be fervent.
16 …The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:16-18 (NKJV)
FINAL THOUGHTSI could address several additional arenas of struggle when it comes to faith, but I think you understand the point. The chaos of faith is immeasurably more valuable than the seeming stability of logic. Your life will become dramatically more thrilling, more powerful and more miraculous if you step beyond the limits of intellectualism and the bounds of emotional experience into the realm where common sense is regularly defied. It's the invisible realm where faith explodes, miracles are to be expected and the power of God burns through us. I challenge you to read the Bible and to believe it without qualification or reservation. When the Word of God floods your mind and your spirit, faith will spike and the supernatural reality you are craving will be revealed.
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
Watch the livestream TOMORROW, Tuesday, March 3rd at 6pm PST (8pm CST)!At 6pm PST (8pm CST) on Tuesday, March 3rd go to fb.com/isaiahsalvidar and lock in for a night of FIRE! John, Isaiah and Neeko will be talking about the sobering realities of Hell…realities that have been dismissed and minimized if not fully renounced by pastors all over the world.
Those who don't know Jesus should not be expected to act like those who do.
(Looking for the article Dueling Puppet Masters: Controlling Pastors vs. Manipulative Congregations? Read it HERE.)
If you follow my ministry you'll know that I am an unapologetic preacher of holiness. You'll also know that most of my messages are directed to the church. Preaching holiness to the lost doesn't work well unless it's coupled with a powerful invitation to surrender all.
Those who haven't had a life-rocking encounter with Jesus are at a disadvantage and it's unfair for those who have been transformed to expect them to see things the way we do. In fact, to attempt to coerce them to adhere to our set of standards, in violation of their own free-will and their right to also have a say in morality is ineffective, and in most situations, unfair if not outright arrogant.
Who are we to say that pornography is wrong? What makes our version of truth regarding homosexuality more valid then theirs? To Christians, babies were created by God, given human spirits at the time of conception and they clearly, obviously deserve protection. Except, those who don't believe in God the way we do simply disagree that they are fully human at points of development prior to birth. They have a right to that belief, as horrifying as we think it is.
The result is a holy war between a group of people who have one set of standards and a group that has an entirely different set. Coercion in the political realm, in the high courts and in the battleground of public opinion becomes the only tool left in our tool belt. We vote or legislate our way to victory, further enraging those who oppose our paradigms.
Listen to the podcast here…
YES, WE SHOULD STILL GO TO BATTLE AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE AGE
Now, please understand, with humble hearts, we as people who are zealous about protecting the unborn and who have a responsibility to guard our children from being indoctrinated by the homosexual agenda, I absolutely believe we must use whatever tool we have in our tool belts. Yes, it's right to fight for laws that stand aggressively against human trafficking. We should work hard to overturn Roe v. Wade. Pornography, the legalization of narcotics and other destructive cultural vices that are being normalized in our society must be met with resistance.
However, it remains true that the unredeemed simply cannot understand things the way Believers in Christ can. This isn't because we are better. It's because we have surrendered to Jesus and our entire way of thinking was renewed. We were once compromised and unable to discern right versus wrong. Then, God touched us as wicked, confused, arrogant and very lost people and the light came on.
HOW ARE THE UNREDEEMED AT A DISADVANTAGE?
I pray you begin to mourn and weep over the lost as you grow in understanding as to how terribly the enemy is assaulting them. Yes, every person who has ever lived and who ever will live will be without excuse on Judgment Day. Yes, everybody has a choice, and the lost have made their choice. That shouldn't result in us marking them off as enemies while we puff ourselves up and sneer down our noses at them. We should be broken and our intercession should be taken to a much higher level.
BORN THIS WAY VERSUS BORN AGAIN
Those who argue that they were born gay, for example, may have something to their argument.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5 (ESV)
We were all born in sin, in iniquity. It shouldn't take much for us to understand this. Sin comes very naturally to all and it takes the momentous event of being born again by the Spirit of God for that to shift.
In fact, the Bible calls those who are not his own, children of wrath. Are you seeing the extreme disadvantage the lost have when attempting to discern good versus evil? All they know are the inner urges that, in their minds, makes up the very core of their identity? If they have been attracted to the same sex for as long as they can remember, then, it seems clear that they were born this way. That should validate their homosexuality, or so they would argue.
Without a dramatic encounter with Jesus, without being born again, we can't expect people to understand biblical freedom or morality.
NO RELIEF FROM ANXIETY, FEAR AND DEPRESSION
The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy, and based on the rampant addictions to opiates in our generation, it appears that he's winning.
Spirit-filled Christians can fill their days with praying in tongues, meditating on God's Word and by singing songs of praise to break off the debilitating, suffocating assaults of depression, fear and anxiety. We have a very present friend in Jesus ministering to us, interceding for us, talking to us and walking with us.
The lost are limited to positive thoughts, drugs, counseling and, sadly and all too often, suicide. Truly, the only hope in the battle of emotional trauma is Jesus, and they haven't met him yet.
Can Christians also be in need of counseling and medical care including the administration of appropriate medications to help deal with chemical imbalances and other physiological and emotional difficulties? Yes, absolutely. As long as it takes place on a foundation of faith, such care can be an important part of the healing process.
10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO PEACE
Those who don't know Jesus simply cannot know peace. For Christians, peace rests on us and it is not dependent on circumstances or in understanding our situation. God is with us and his supernatural peace displaces the darkness.
It's not hard to understand why so many politicians, protesters and others who are advancing their various ungodly causes become enraged when they experience push back. They have no peace, and in their minds, the road to a life that is more centered and devoid of resistance is to hate, curse and attempt to slay anything and anyone that gets in their way.
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)
THEY DON'T EXPERIENCE THE PRESENCE OF GOD
The thought of not having that constant burning of God's Holy Spirit within is enough to make me shudder. The glory of God and his anointing on our lives is irreplaceable and without it we would spiral out of control.
Our decisions, our mindsets, our emotional well-being, our belief systems, our desires and everything that make up who we are would radically shift. It would be a deeply disturbing way to live, yet the lost live in that reality every moment of every day of their lives.
11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED LOVE
No matter how determined society is at convincing us that they do what they do because of love, it's simply not true. They have fallen for a faux love that does not originate from the only one who can manifest love. Outside of God, we cannot know love. The reason is simple: God is love.
I want to encourage you to read my article The Great Love Deception. It's eye-opening.
Sure, the lost can experience infatuation, attraction, appreciation, strong desire, lust and many other emotions, but love is the one experience they can't have outside of Jesus.
The next time you hear about someone who is militantly promoting what we would call perversion, just remember they are yearning to love and to be loved. This isn't a defense of perversion, but rather it's a call to weep for our culture and to stand in the gap so people can finally discover the only true source of love.
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD. Psalm 32:10 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO ACCESS TO SUPERNATURAL WISDOM
The unredeemed are limited to their own logic and human ability to reason. That's it. They have no resource when their own abilities or the abilities of others to understand comes to an end.
The ceiling of understanding becomes their version of truth and they will fight to the end to support it.
For Christians, there is such a relief knowing that we won't ever understand it all, and that our own logic is often fallible. We simply read the Bible and believe it. God speaks and we respond. The lost cannot do that.
They will argue that getting drunk, for example, is just fine, as long as you don't get behind the wheel of a car. It makes sense to them. Christians, however, have no need to attempt to wrap their minds around the topic. God says don't get drunk, and he's much wiser than we are, so we buy in wholesale to what he says. As a result, life is much, much better.
Further, decision making becomes much easier as Christians. We may not know what job to take, what house to buy, where to go, who to marry or how to resolve life's problems. Thankfully we have a supernatural source of direction that goes well beyond humanity's resources.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5 (ESV)
HAPPINESS IS THEIR ONLY HOPE
We all have the right to pursue happiness in our nation. Sadly, that's the limit for people who don't love and serve Jesus.
Christians, on the other hand, live with overwhelming, immeasurable, supernatural joy! Happiness is dependent on circumstances. Joy is not.
Instead of pursuing wealth, sex, fame, materialism and other pleasures as sources of happiness, Believers are fully satisfied by knowing God. It's a supernatural reality that can only be understood when experienced. It's not mind over matter. I'm not talking about mental gymnastics that turn bad situations to good. I'm talking about an actual Spirit that fills us up and brings supernatural joy to our hearts. Those in the world can never understand this.
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 (ESV)
THEY LIVE OUTSIDE OF THE REALM OF MIRACLES
The lost have absolutely no hope of relief from life's woes unless mankind can come up with a solution. They are dependent and desperate and all too often, hopeless.
Believers in Christ live in the realm of miracles every day! Healings, wonders, signs, breakthroughs, prophetic revelation and much more are our portion!
The lost are feverishly doing all they can to avoid or avert dire circumstances in their own abilities. They turn to man, not God when they are in a time of need.
12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. 2 Chronicles 16:12 (ESV)
Seeking the Lord is necessary for us to survive and thrive on the earth, and those in the world simply can't enjoy the miracles that result from such a devotion.
THEY HAVE NO REASON NOT TO SIN
Above I revealed the mindset regarding drunkenness. In the minds of the lost there is absolutely no reason not to get drunk. This logic can be used in other scenarios too. Lust is pleasurable as is pornography. Getting high on drugs feels good. Foul language and other behaviors are morally benign. If it's legal, it's okay.
In the world the line is drawn when one person's sin negatively impacts another. That's what defines morality in a culture that's not surrendered to Jesus. What the world defines as lawless and what God defines as legal are very different.
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 (ESV)
Christians understand how destructive sin is and we embrace consecration and repentance eagerly. Sin kills even if we don't understand why. We don't define what is morally legal, God does.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (ESV)
THEY HAVE NO HOPE OF A WONDERFUL ETERNITY
Every ounce of life must be experienced in a window of approximately 80 years to those who don't know Christ. The thought of preparing for eternity is nonsensical to them. This over-magnifies the importance of fulfilling dreams and desires on the earth, as they do all they can to soak up all their short earthly journey can provide.
Of course, Believers know there are an unlimited number of years ahead of us. Every person, whether lost or saved, will live somewhere forever. This is what drives our lives. We do all we can to awaken the sleepers, to warn the apathetic and to rescue the perishing. This world means little in comparison to eternity.
Further, those who know Jesus are exhilarated knowing they will experience never-ending joy, abundant life, freedom, love and peace as we live day-by-day with God. This isn't some euphoric pipe dream. It's truth. It's going to happen. Those who don't know Jesus simply cannot understand this.
1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1-6 (ESV)
CHANGE OUR DISPOSITION
I pray this will at least cause you to think differently the next time you get agitated at people who are promoting beliefs and behaviors that are repugnant to you. Pray hard for them. Battle for their souls.
Trust me, the moment one of these vile, wicked people truly find Jesus, they will turn on a dime and renounce everything unrighteous they previously supported. Meeting Jesus does that to a person.
A basketball legend is suddenly gone, yet the world carries on mostly unconcerned about where people will spend eternity.
Retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in Southern California, according to a TMZ report confirmed by Variety and the Los Angeles Times.To say that I'm sick in my spirit would be a woefully weak attempt to explain the internal trauma I'm experiencing right now. I'm certainly saddened by today's tragic news of the loss of Kobe Bryant, and my heart goes out to his family, his many friends and his fans who loved him. However, the source of my grief isn't limited to the loss of several people who entered eternity in a helicopter crash today. It's much, much deeper, more comprehensive and incredibly serious than even today's awful events were.
The crash comes one day after Bryant was passed by Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. James inscribed his sneakers with “Mamba 4 Life” and “8/24 KB” in gold marker before the game, showing respect for Bryant, an 18-time All-Star with the Lakers who is eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame this year.Mamba 4 Life. Those haunting words adorned on the sneakers of LeBron James are almost too much to bear. Life would last less than one more day for Kobe. I feel raw, and if I were to be completely honest, a little hopeless. For years I've been sounding alarms to a sleeping, casual, unconcerned and presumptuous people, mostly Christians, who refuse to adopt a fearful tremble in their spirits. Other men and women much more anointed, effective and reputable then myself have been doing the same, yet there are millions of people, both lost and saved, who have no sense of forever. Too many are slipping right into eternity and down into an indescribable, eternal fire. The parties continue. The intoxication on entertainment is non-stop. Fame, wealth, notoriety, pleasure and greed drive our culture, and so many in the church have likewise been seduced. Listen to the podcast… We need awakeners to arise in the world, those who will power through the false ideologies and theologies and excuses and accusations and shout, “Wake up! You are in great, imminent danger! The earth is about to swallow up the casual, unconcerned sleepers! Arise before it's too late and repent!”
THE ONLY REASON WE ARE ALIVEThe purpose of this sliver of time on the Earth before we launch into eternity is to glorify God and to advance his Kingdom. That's it. Please listen to me, we are called to be fiery, passionate lovers of Jesus every moment of our existence. As we live our daily lives, we must be consumed by God as we walk and live and pray in the Spirit. We go to sleep praying, we wake up praying, we worship throughout the day, we live holy. we battle the enemy and we advance with great anointing as God leads. Yes, we are to enjoy our lives. Yes, our families are precious. Yes, we can fall in love. Yes, we can be entertained. Yes, we can relax. Yet none of this should ever compromise our unrelenting zeal for Jesus. We are aliens from another world with an other-worldly mission that should consume us every second of our lives. Kobe Bryant and Eternity from John Burton on Vimeo.
DEADLY DOCTRINESI won't take the space to debate theology right now. I'm not in that state of mind. I'm wrecked and undone. I'm provoked and irritated. Irritated enough to go for the throat of deadly doctrines that so many are selling their very souls for. I'm upset at those who have been seduced, but I'm enraged at the pastoral impostors who are selling this snake oil. Without hesitation I'm shouting from the rooftops with everything I have that false-grace and eternal security theologies are seductive poisons that are leading untold numbers to Hell every day. I believe it's quite rare for someone to enter Heaven. Of course, I could never confirm this, but just like you I have the right to an opinion. I believe following Jesus is a much more serious, sobering and costly endeavor than most realize, and I wonder if maybe one in 500 enter Heaven instead of Hell when they die. Point two percent. The level of surrender that's required is well off most people's grids. They erroneously lean on the story of the thief on the cross to affirm their casual position and their belief that all it takes is a “prayer of salvation.” I don't believe any of us will ever understand the level of surrender that man committed to.
THIS ISN'T ABOUT KOBE BRYANT…IT'S ABOUT YOUKobe Bryant isn't on the earth anymore, but he is somewhere right now. We don't know where. You or I don't know what the level of his passion for Jesus was. This article isn't about him, however, It's about you. It's about me. It's rare to find people who are on fire, who are surrendered, who are living holy lives and who are preaching raw, offensive truth. It's this truth that will wake the dead and provoke the sleepers to arise. Eternity is upon us. 150,000 people die every day. It's 5pm right now. This means, since Kobe Bryant died, in the neighborhood of 31,250 more people have died and entered into eternity. Since I started writing this article about a half an hour ago, approximately 3,125 people have died. …30 minutes later, as I'm proof reading the article, another 3,125 people have died. Is it possible that of the 150,000 people who die today that only around 3,000 will be with Jesus forever? 147,000, give or take, will be tormented non-stop as they are gripped with indescribable, maddening terror that will never end? Yes, it's absolutely possible. We can't know for sure, but the sheer possibility should crush us. You can see why I'm broken and heartsick. You can understand my holy rage.
WE NEED HELLFIRE PREACHERSI'm done with the ridiculous, passive and biblically unsound messages of “love and kindness” that are choking out the fiery truths of Scripture. Of course, we need a greater revelation of the love of Jesus, but, man, how people have twisted that reality! I implore you to read some articles that speak directly to this issue:
- The Great Love Deception : A False-Love Movement is on the Rise
- “Damn John Burton to Hell!” The Return to Convicting Preaching that Riles Demons
- Is It Time for Hell-Fire Preaching Again?
- 5 Marks of the False Grace Message
“I’m just happy to be in any conversation with Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time greats to ever play,” James said.Bryant congratulated James via Twitter not long after his historic basket. sin into your life? What about pornography? Lust? Greed? Unforgiveness? Hate? Unbelief? Are you a walking furnace of intercession, or are you devoid of fire? Have you lost your first love? Please don't ever presume you are safe because of a prayer you prayed. You are not. Salvation requires endurance and it must be worked out with fear and trembling. Remember, you are not alive to fulfill your personal dreams. The selfish pursuit of dreams and the entertainment induced drunkenness must come to an end. You are alive for a single purpose—to serve the King and to know him intimately. I implore you to wake up, to get serious and to embrace the call to martyrdom. Lay your life down, and do it now. We are all one breath away from leaving our physical bodies and stepping into forever.
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:1-2 (ESV)
Preaching to the saints? You need to understand that many of them are not safe—if they are saved at all.
“Who then can be saved?” Matthew 19:25 (ESV)The call of church leadership is not to confirm someone's salvation, but rather to challenge it. We need the fear and trembling to reverberate through our spirits night and day that only wrestling with our salvation can produce. Jonathan Edwards brought his bold, fearful message to the church, to the saints:
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 her mouth under them. The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. ~Jonathan EdwardsI understand that many who read this will wholeheartedly disagree with my conclusions. They are either adherents of eternal security doctrine or some form of unstable, unbiblical or fully false-grace ideologies. Instead of tossing this article aside or attacking the viewpoint, I challenge you to humbly, soberly take it in and ask God to impact you, to shake you regarding this very serious topic. As you might have guessed I believe that it's not only possible to surrender one's position in Christ, but I'm convinced it's common. Entire churches, many of them “Spirit-filled,” are fully lost while others are filled with people who have never had their relationship with Jesus challenged, and are as lost as the wicked of the world—yet they don't know it. It's from this position that I am shining the light on possibly the greatest epidemic regarding the issue of salvation in the construct of the church today. Pastors commonly presume those who are faithful attenders, givers and friends in their churches to be saved. It's a given. It's obvious. It's settled. If they are raising their hands, dancing at the alters, serving in ministry, leading small groups or involving themselves in other activities, then, of course, they are true followers of Jesus, right? Not always. In fact, the salvation journey is one of endurance, and it's extremely easy to pull back, to slip up, to become casual or to lose faith.
12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:12-13 (ESV)Many in the church are simply not saved. They are following Jesus in an unsaved condition, all while the pastor is sharing messages on how to be successful in Christ, how to prosper, how much Jesus loves them and the benefits of the Kingdom—a kingdom they are not a part of. Where are the gut-wrenching holiness messages? What happened to assaulting sin and compromise from the pulpit? Where is the weighty presence of the Holy Spirit that results in tearful repentance and an eager rejection of wickedness? Pastors, do you realize that a large portion of your church is very possibly involved in pornography on a regular basis? Lust drives them. Many others are absolutely okay with filling their lives with movies, television and other media that is filled with filth. F-bombs, nudity and absolute evil is consumed day after day without the slightest conviction of the Holy Spirit. This puts their salvation at risk. To presume they are safe and destined for Heaven is to be blinded and duped. It's utter foolishness. You've made it easy for them to fit right in on Sunday mornings, after a night of debauchery, to sing songs of worship and to blend right into the fellowship. You've convinced them that all is well and Heaven is their home, when the reality is that, absent legitimate repentance, they will be tormented in Hell forever. I'm talking about elders and worship leaders, Sunday School teachers, youth pastors, ushers, children's ministry workers and faithful attenders. Many of these people are entertaining themselves with evil, fully devoid of discernment and convinced that God is unconcerned about their lifestyles.
ONE: Preach Hellfire and Holiness
“The Christian world is in a dead sleep. Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it.” ~George WhitefieldIt's nonsensical to teach the joys and blessings of the Kingdom to people who are foreigners, who are not truly adopted sons and daughters of the King. We have “Rich Young Rulers” filling our pews, except instead of alerting them to their unsaved condition, they are confirmed as legitimate followers of Jesus. Those who are perverse, sleeping, unconcerned and driven by their flesh must have a shock come to their system! The fire from Heaven must consume them, but it's rare for a pastor to release that fire from the pulpit today. It's too risky. It's too costly. Their eternal blood will be on the pastor's hands due to the failure to bring their rebellion and apathy to light. We need bold, confrontational messages today that strike us, break us and sear our flesh.
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? Romans 10:14 (NKJV) After a sermon in Lyme, Connecticut, “many had their countenances changed; their thoughts seemed to trouble them, so that the joints of their loins were loosed, and their knees smote one against another. Great numbers cried out aloud in the anguish of their souls. Several stout men fell as though a cannon had been discharged, and a ball had made its way through their hearts.” (http://www1.cbn.com/spirituallife/a-great-awakening-stirs-the-colonies)
TWO: Cultivate an Atmosphere of Holy Spirit Fire
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 (ESV)Every meeting should be driven by the raging fire of the Holy Spirit. Cultivating a culture where bold, deep groans of intercession and praying in tongues is normal will have a clear result: those who are uncomfortable with an encounter with a very Holy Spirit will either repent or run. I have often counseled pastors to bring this type of focus to their staff and leadership. Gather them to pray in tongues together for an hour a day and watch what happens. Staff members who are not on board with the vision, who are manipulative, who are functioning in Christian witchcraft and those who are gossips or resisters will be identified very quickly. When the Holy Spirit is present in such a deliberate and powerful way, impurities will be exposed. I also propose this type of environment be nurtured for the entire church body. I heard in a message at church this morning that in the Assemblies of God, a historic movement that was shaped by revival and Pentecost, only 22% of people in their churches today have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues. How can this be? Without this baptism of fire, oh my, the hope of living holy, obedient and fiery lives for Jesus is greatly and negatively impacted. They are unable to build themselves up in the faith:
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, Jude 1:20 (NKJV)They are unable to pray the mysteries of God:
2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 14:2 (ESV)They are unable to overcome their limited understanding when praying:
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26 (ESV)Those who don't live, walk and pray in the Spirit are disadvantaged significantly. This is why it's crucial for all Believers to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and to pray and groan in tongues daily! Doing so develops intimacy with Jesus. The prophetic in our lives intensifies. So do dreams and visions. Many will receive other gifts such as words of wisdom, words of knowledge, discerning of spirits, faith and more. And, most definitely, when the Holy Spirit is moving, the unholy won't be able to remain.
THREE: Revise How You Lead and What You TeachThe issue of salvation should be front and center week after week in the church. I'm not talking about simply giving the lost an opportunity to get saved. I'm referring to the sobering responsibility to lead the saints toward a successful transition into eternity. Never presume someone is saved. Never confirm to them that they are. In fact, I never presume myself to be safe. It infuriates some that I would ever suggest that I or they may not retain our salvation. The great falling away will be very great. Enduring to the end is an intense and challenging call. Working out our salvation is a fearful thing. Teach on holiness. Call people into obedience to the Word. Refute unbiblical grace theologies. Target the spirit of the age that has infiltrated so many in our churches. Expose the darkness of the media and entertainment that is being devoured by professing Christians without any concern whatsoever.
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV) 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:29-31 (ESV)
FOUR: Embrace Biblical Church DisciplineWhen is the last time you heard about someone being barred from the church for violations of Scripture that demand such action? Failure to be faithful to the scriptural mandate to enact church discipline has resulted in compromised churches and a generation of people who are absolutely convinced they are saved, all while they are moving closer and closer to the fires of Hell. Today unmarried men and women are living together, and they head to church together, hand in hand, each week, greeted by hugs and smiles. People who are consuming porn on Saturday are leading ministries on Sunday. God is clear. We must purge those from among us who are sexually immoral, greedy or idolaters. We can't even eat with them. In fact, turning them over to Satan is God's prescription in certain situations.
4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 1 Corinthians 5:4-6 (ESV)We have entire churches that have been compromised because they are refusing to follow biblical church discipline protocols. This is extremely serious.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (ESV)In fact, it's not only sexual immorality or drunkenness or greed that we need to deal with. Check this out:
6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 2 Thessalonians 3:6 (ESV)Those who are idle, lazy, not being productive as God has called them to be should be avoided as well. Why did I include this last verse? Well, first because it's in the Word. Second because I wanted to highlight just how serious God is about obedience and how we should respond to those who are in rebellion. Again, it's very serious. Of course, when they are ready to repent, we run to them with open arms and welcome them back home!
19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20 (ESV)
STAYING SAVEDSo much focus is put on evangelism and people getting saved, while so little is put on staying saved. Failure in consecration and sanctification absolutely can impact justification. Pastors, it's time to bring this issue front and center, and leave it there. Many under your care are in trouble. They are dying or dead spiritually and you haven't even noticed. That may be because your church culture is dead and they simply don't stand out. Or, it may be that your theology is off and that you believe salvation is easy and permanent. False-grace may have infected your ministry. You may have failed in the call to preach on the holiness of God. Hell and eternity may not be focuses as they should be. I implore you to allow God to wreck you. Ask him to put the people in the church on your heart and intercede for them. Confront them. Challenge them. Awaken them. Eternity draws near.
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:1-6 (ESV)
The enemy is looking for a back door into the church—through worship teams.
I’ll never forget an extremely powerful and disturbing experience I had when praying in a church many years ago.
Both in Colorado Springs and Detroit I had the privilege of giving some leadership to remarkable prayer movements. Every Friday from 10pm until midnight we would gather hungry people from the region to pray in tongues. We’d spread out and pray boldly through the sanctuary, on the platform, in classrooms and outside. The roar of intercession was intense.
The focus each week was to bless the ministry and to partner with them in their mission. At times we’d have over 200 people squeezing into a property designed for 30! I was always thrilled when the pastor and his core team would show up in force. I was always confused when a secretary or janitor would unlock the door for us and then disappear into another part of the property.
The night of the experience I am about to share with you, from what I can remember, included nobody from the host church. However, scores of fiery zealots from all over the region were praying with passion.
In the midst of pacing and praying, one of the other leaders called me over. He said, “John, go walk through the baptismal.” I was perplexed and asked why. He encouraged me to just do it. The baptismal was empty and positioned behind the platform. While praying in the Spirit, I walked down into the vessel designed for introducing people into a life-altering eternity with Jesus. I gagged. I felt sick. The swirl of demons in that very spot was so overwhelming that I was shocked. I Slowly walked through, praying and attempting to analyze what was happening in the invisible realm. I emerged on the other side and approached my friend. With my eyes wide open and shock on my face, I said, “What in the world was that?” He smiled (not a happy smile, but one that indicated bewilderment) and said, “I told you something was going on there.”
We didn’t share the experience with anybody there and simply prayed and took authority.
Very shortly after that night, it was discovered that the worship leader of that church had been involved in homosexual relationships. The memory of my walk through that baptismal tank caused me to grieve.
WORSHIP LEADERS MUST MAKE THEIR POSITION KNOWN
Its expected for today’s righteous pastors and leaders to take a stand and to oppose all wickedness, including homosexuality. Sadly, fewer and fewer are, but that’s an article for another day. Today we need to talk about the responsibility of worship leaders and those on worship teams to stand for truth.
It’s quite uncommon to hear from worship leaders regarding their doctrinal positions. They are a vulnerable vehicle for the enemy to deliver his next assault in the church through.
On one of the largest stages in the nation, Carrie Underwood was invited to participate in the latest Passion Conference. She belted out Amazing Grace along side Crowder in front of thousands of worshipers. What many didn’t realize is Carrie is a supporter of homosexual rights.
From a recent Charisma News article:
“The controversy is why would Louie Giglio put someone in front of millennials—who are struggling with this issue—who is basically saying that the Bible is not true in what it says about homosexuality,” American Family Association Ed Vitagliano says.
“[There is a] growing strain within the evangelical community that is denying the truth of Scripture,” he continued.
“Our church is gay friendly,” she explains. “Above all, God wanted us to love others. It's not about setting rules, or ‘everyone has to be like me.' No. We're all different. That's what makes us special. We have to love each other and get on with each other. It's not up to me to judge anybody.”
She also said:
“As a married person myself, I don’t know what it’s like to be told I can’t marry somebody I love, and want to marry. I can’t imagine how that must feel. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love.”
ETERNITY IS AT STAKE
This isn’t about debating about differing theological viewpoints. This argument isn’t even an argument. It’s settled. The Bible is clear. Eternity is at risk.
It goes down like vinegar, but the truth remains, those who support homosexuality can’t presume to be saved. They will experience horrifying torment in Hell forever. We have to let that sink in.
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Rom 1:32
If we are allowing worship leaders to minister in the name of God while endorsing homosexuality or other wickedness not only are we aligning with extremely powerful demonic spirits at they ramp up their assault on millions, we are stepping aside, allowing people to be put at extreme risk of Hell.
Entire churches risk having Ichabod posted above the doorposts because of leaders, including worship leaders, who are inviting unholy spirits to take residence through their alliance with them. Simply, when we agree with a doctrine of demons, we become a partner with them. We align ourselves with them and give their evil war power and strength.
THIS IS A PROPHETIC MESSAGE FOR TODAY
I sense strongly that God is attempting to awaken worship leaders who are toying with spiritual death, and he is also attempting to strengthen his holy army of worship warriors. He’s looking for those anointed men and women of God who are partnering with him in holiness and who are taking their call to lead people in worship of a fearful, holy God seriously and soberly.
I don’t know about you, but it is important to me to know just what a worship leader believes. I’m often troubled with the doctrine that’s coming through in the lyrics of much of today’s popular worship music. However, this prophetic call takes us down a very specific path. We have to understand the enemy is attempting to normalize homosexuality in churches. What better strategy than to anoint those who are leading people into a spiritual/emotional place. I’ve heard people support homosexuality by saying, “Don’t you feel God’s presence when we worship? We consider that his endorsement of our position on homosexuality.”
Respectfully and with great honor, send this message to your worship leader and your pastor. Pray for them. Collectively lets encourage worship leaders to make their positions on morality and biblical truth clear.
The church, revival and eternity are all at risk.
Or 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 effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9–10
The Great Love Deception E-book is my gift to you on Valentine’s Day!
Here’s a portion of what you will read in the book:
Those of you who are longing for a pure, love-driven move of God, get ready! We are about to have the opportunity to go deeper than we ever have. True love will change the world. The burning, churning crater is filled with molten, liquid love!
We could spend trillions of years learning about and discovering and encountering the love of God. In fact, we will do so throughout all eternity. The Bible itself exhorts us to learn about love:
So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of… Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG)
We are to learn to love appropriately. This Scripture is a critical exhortation! Why? It means there are inappropriate ways to love. There are deceptions that feel right but are poor representations or even counterfeits of truth.
As God’s love begins to manifest in such amazing, deeper ways at the end of the age, we have to be aware that the enemy will work hard to redefine, misrepresent and twist true love. He has a castrated version to offer us.
The enemy is so terrified of pure love being revealed that he is willing to promote and endorse a compromised, lesser version of it. Love defined by human emotion instead of the Word is his plan.