Treading foolishly on social media will cost the church it's voice.
NEWSMAX reports, “Last month, the former president brought class-action lawsuits against the three big Tech giants requesting unspecified damages for alleged First Amendment violations.”
It's commonly believed that social media giants have censored, banned and caused all sorts of trouble for conservatives. This includes Christians who find themselves in so-called Facebook jail after expressing forbidden viewpoints.
This truly feels like David versus the giants who are determined to taunt, minimize and cast aside any who would threaten their narratives.
SHOULD WE NOT RUN TO THE BATTLE?
Yes, we absolutely should fearlessly fight against the spirits of the age. The real question, however, is exactly how should we fight?
God is known to give unusual, supernatural wisdom to those who are advancing toward wicked adversaries. Gideon was told to eliminate most of his army and to bang jars together. Joseph and Mary were instructed to avoid Egypt. Paul was warned against going to certain cities. Elijah brought the fire. Every situation is different, and might I suggest, brashly breaking the rules of Facebook, YouTube and other social media companies is foolish beyond measure.
Lawsuits like the one President Trump brought very well may be a wise, effective step toward protecting First Amendment rights of all US citizens. I agree that we are rushing quickly toward the reality of very real persecution of Christians who preach the truth of Scripture. We cannot shrink back. We must run to the battle, but with divine wisdom, not fleshly rebellion.
Everything starts with strategic intercession. The fight against principalities and powers is a deadly game to play if we aren't prepared. Our enemies aren't the CEO's and thought police. It's very smart, organized and vile evil spirits who are bent on destruction of the church. They are absolutely determined to muzzle all who preach the power of the Gospel.
WE MUST BE WISE AS SERPENTS AND GENTLE AS DOVES
““Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues,” (Matthew 10:16–17, ESV)
I've always found it interesting that we are instructed to be as wise as serpents. Satan is both a snake and a brilliant and shrewd military strategist. He is not haphazard or careless in his schemes. We should not be either.
The Hill reports, “And despite the Taliban's brutality and dishonesty, two Taliban spokesmen have Twitter accounts, including Zabihullah Mujahid, who boasts nearly 320,000 followers. Mujahid has posted dozens of videos that have been viewed millions of times. Quite a platform for the Taliban to have, and it doesn't cost them a dime.”
Read this next segment analyzing Donald Trump's ban and the Taliban's get out of jail free card from the article on The Hill carefully:
“The answer, analysts said, may simply be that Trump’s posts for years challenged platform rules against hate speech and inciting violence,” the piece adds. “Today’s Taliban, by and large, does not.”
Of course, we know of the brutality the Taliban unashamedly promotes and it seems they should in no way be provided a platform on social media, especially when these companies are based in the United States. I agree with most by saying it's madness.
Additionally, it's beyond belief that the President of the United States could be banned. Like you, I'm flabbergasted. This isn't the America I've grown to love. We are living in very different, dangerous and wicked times.
With all of that being said, consider the wisdom of the Taliban. They are careful on social media. They don't post anything that would put them in Facebook jail or ban them from Twitter (at least that's what appears to be the case to date).
Here is the point of this article: be wise.
Flipping a bombastic, rebellious, spiritualized middle finger to the decision makers of the very platforms the church must have a voice on is utter foolishness. We receive no badge of honor by spouting off at the mouth in a way that breaks the rules (yes, unfair rules) and challenges the social media powers. It's childish at best, foolish and destructive to the church's mission at worst.
IF WE BREAK THE RULES WE LOSE OUR VOICE
I, for one, want to keep influencing people on social media with the life and power of Jesus. I can't afford for that message to be banned.
I've yet to be locked out of any social media account. I've not been shadow banned or jailed. I'm not saying it will never happen and I'm not patting myself on the back. I simply understand I must be extremely careful if I want to continue to be heard (even by my very small sphere of influence). There are things that are absolutely unnecessary to say, or that can be said in a way that doesn't poke the bear. We can be smart. We can be led of the Spirit of God. We can use divine wisdom.
This is not a matter of having a backbone or proudly shouting with fervor at our oppressors. It would be extremely easy to state the obvious and call out every anti-Christ spirit we come across on a daily basis. We can shout loud in all caps and presume we are mighty champions of God by refusing to be silent on the matters of the day. Well, yes, you can do that and you can lose your voice. You will lose your platform. You will surrender your privilege to communicate on a private forum.
Chinese Christians know this all too well, except they aren't risking a Facebook account being closed. They are risking their lives. They are faced with beatings and prison. We can only imagine the divine wisdom necessary to survive such an ungodly regime. Yet, the underground church is thriving and China is on pace to host the largest number of Christians in the world in the next couple of decades.
Standing on a street corner in Beijing and preaching the Gospel isn't an option for Chinese Christians. They must be wise. They understand the rules of their particular forum. They are Spirit-led instead of naturally aggressive.
The voice of Chinese Christians has been preserved because they have adapted to their situation. The church is thriving in that restrictive and dangerous environment because of godly wisdom.
If we as American Christians can't figure out how to keep our voice on Facebook, how do we think we will survive when we are forced underground? Brash, bombastic fist-waving won't work then, even if we do it in the name of Jesus.
In an era of muzzled speech and shadow bans, it’s time for Believers to wise up.
We need to finally admit what has been true for years. Jack Dorsey, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, Jeff Bezos and the rest of the liberal tech and media decision makers control the narrative. These are leaders who have the right to promote or shut down activity that they deem appropriate or inappropriate for their respective businesses. The fact that their businesses are vehicles for our media makes no difference.
What they don’t realize, as unbelievers in Jesus, is that they are being used. They are puppets of a wicked, devious spirit that intends to mold society as it sees fit. They are drones being manipulated and navigated to fly high above the culture so as to capture and punish unsanctioned behavior. This is the world we live in.
My heart is grieved mostly because Jack, Mark, Sundar, Jeff and the others have not encountered the shock and awe of God’s overwhelming, indescribable, supernatural love. Yes, the restriction of speech in our nation troubles me deeply. Yes, the rapid decline of godliness in our culture is gut wrenching. Yes, the corruption in the media, whether mainstream or social, can’t be ignored. We are living in threatening times.
However, none of that compares to the reality of eternity. Heaven won’t be the same without Jack, Mark, Sundar and Jeff. I can’t imagine the horrors of hell that await any human that rejects the ridiculously generous, loving and completely undeserved offer of forgiveness and eternal life. We need to pray for an invasion of God’s love to overtake the hearts of our nation’s leaders.
WE HAVE A PROBLEM
I’m also troubled by the muzzling of Christians and conservatives.
Jack Dorsey recently made the decision to permanently ban the leader of our nation, Donald Trump, from Twitter. Stop and think about that. Such an act is unheard of in America. A citizen shuts down the President? You just don’t cancel the voice of the highest ranking official in America, and one of the most powerful people in the world. Is treasonous too strong of a word? Yes, but it sure smells similar.
Other recent bans include Focus on the Family for the following:
The Daily Citizen, which is a part of Focus on the Family, engaged in “hateful” rhetoric, according to the social media platform, when they tweeted January 19: “On Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden announced that he had chosen Dr. Rachel Levine to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of HHS. Dr. Levine is a transgender woman, that is, a man who believes he is a woman.”
CENSORSHIP ALERT: Twitter banned @FocusCitizen from their platform. The crime? A tweet which identified Asst. Health Sec. pick Rachel Levine as a biological male. If stating the facts gets you banned, none of us belong here. @Twitter, we're wondering: #AreWeNext? RT to speak out! pic.twitter.com/Z1cUJrK0sZ
— FamilyPolicyAlliance (@family_policy) January 29, 2021
Twitter has also banned My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell:
Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, was banned from Twitter Monday night, according to a Twitter spokesperson.
Twitter made its decision based on a new policy it enacted after the Capitol insurrection whereby people who repeatedly share election misinformation can be permanently banned.
“The account you referenced has been permanently suspended due to repeated violations of our Civic Integrity Policy,” the spokesperson told CNN.
Of course, Jeff Bezos’ Amazon along with both Apple and Android eliminated conservative leaning Twitter alternative Parler from their services.
It’s stunning that simply believing things and saying things can get you muted in our free nation. But, then again, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to discerning Christians. The persecution has barely begun, and we should have seen it coming.
THEIR PLATFORM, THEIR RULES
We need to remember, the decision makers for our nation are, by and large, unbelievers. They live by an entirely different code of ethics. What makes sense to Christians simply does not make sense to them. We need to understand this. Attempting to force our values on them will have no positive effect. Even if we are able to grab the reigns, their hearts will not be turned to Jesus by brute force. Their resolve to resist what we’d define as righteousness will only grow stronger.
Those who have followed my ministry know that I’m not adverse to dealing directly with issues. I don’t shrink back or surrender when the Lord is calling me to advance with unapologetic ferocity. Compromise is not an option. That being said, I believe it’s important to communicate something: Twitter, Facebook, Google, Amazon and the other businesses that have become largely indispensable in our daily lives make the rules for their own platforms. If we don’t like the rules, we can leave. Sadly, too many Christians are pouting and complaining about being singled out as they are poking the social media beast with malicious intent.
If I’m in a library and the librarian asks me to whisper, I whisper.
If I’m visiting a church, I don’t presume to be welcome to take the pulpit and preach.
The businesses we are visiting makes the rules.
If a restaurant doesn’t allow people to wear MAGA hats, they have that right.
Christian bookstores don’t have to order Harry Potter books for their customers and secular bookstores don’t have to stock Bibles.
Their business, their platform, their rules. Are their inconsistencies and lack of fairness at times? Absolutely. We have witnessed that several times, including a Christian baker's business being destroyed because they refused to bake a cake. We as Christians need to understand that the world will not be friendly or fair to us, and attempting to force them to comply may work at times, but in the end, we need to be ready for persecution.
But, as it stands, the laws of the land allow businesses to run things the way they see fit.
If Twitter doesn’t want certain things said on their platform, so be it. The same is true for Facebook and the rest.
Yes, I agree that such a position by a massive facilitator of communication does put our American values at risk. But, unless the laws change, they have that right.
Facebook can shadow ban, Twitter can suspend, Amazon can choose not to sell your book, Google can reject your app. They have those rights.
Again, their value system is radically different than ours. It’s humanistic instead of godly. It’s based on secular wisdom instead of divine wisdom as revealed in the Bible. It’s carnal versus spiritual.
A NEW GAME PLAN
Some consider me to be a bit provocative in my writing as I don’t typically hold back when communicating truth. Interestingly, while it may change at any moment, unlike many Christians on social media, I’ve never been in Facebook jail. I’ve never been shadow banned (to my knowledge). I’ve yet to be suspended from Twitter. Why is this? I believe it’s because I’ve attempted to use wisdom when posting while also refusing to compromise the message. I try hard to play by the rules of the platform I’m on. It’s their platform, not mine.
This is part of the new game plan that I’m suggesting. It does us no good as Christians to adopt the aggressive, bombastic and threatening disposition that so many on the political right (or left) have. The unnecessary conspiracy theories have to go. The mean-spirited accusations against our enemies (you know, the ones we are supposed to be blessing and not cursing) has to stop. The blatant rule breaking is unacceptable. We should be wiser. We can get the message across, in most cases, while honoring the place that gave us an opportunity to speak.
We are guests on the various social platforms, and they have the right to uninvite us at any moment. Using Facebook and Twitter and the others is a privilege not a right. Using these platforms foolishly will only cost the church in our nation.
Instead of feeding our addictions on social media by sharing every controversial, conspiratorial viewpoint that pushes you closer to the edge of a violation of their terms and conditions, why not play nice, stay inside their boundaries and advance the Kingdom of God? Preach truth. Exhibit love. Let that be what drives you instead of anger, complaining and vitriol over politics and other hot topics?
I think we need to tread carefully and use the media that's available to us responsibly. I'm not saying we cower or compromise. Never. I'm saying there's a wise way to deliver your message without going over the edge and triggering those who have the power to shut you down. Honestly, my personal opinion is that President Trump would have done well to follow this advice.
We should treat people well. Don't accuse. Don't be combative. Don't spread conspiracies. Don't ridicule. Exhibit the fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (You know, be Christians.)
MANY of the opinions people are sharing really don't need to be shared, or they can be reworded in such a way that it's much better received. That is the goal, right? For people to receive what we say?
But, as I said, we don't compromise. We speak truth in love. We also choose our battles. Social media is most probably going to shut down all Christians at some point. We just need to be smart by not expediting the process.
Am I saying we are silent on the hot topics? No. I’m not saying that at all. I’m suggesting we play by the rules of the platform so we can continue to have a voice at all.
Am I saying we should not fight illegal policies or unfair censorship in social media? Not necessarily. If we take up that battle, it needs to be in the form of something other than complaining and sharing supporting videos and posts on the very medium you are taking issue with. In fact, the conservative website www.louderwithcrowder is suing Facebook. Candace Owens is suing fact checkers retained by Facebook and USA Today. This will surely be more effective than incessant posting about our disagreements.
Do I believe our speech as Christians will be ultimately restricted even further in the near future? Yes, I do. This is why we must come up with a strategy of advancing the Gospel that takes this into account. The underground Chinese church has done it. Other restricted and persecuted groups of Believers have done it. It's time for a social media underground movement to emerge. Until that happens, we need to tread carefully and respectfully on the surface.
LESS FACEBOOK AND TWITTER, MORE INTERCESSION, MORE STRATEGIC PLANS OF ACTION
Honoring the rules of the platforms we are on simply requires that we monitor what we are communicating. I’m personally less interested in using social media for ministry than I have been in the past. I wonder just how more impactful we can be if we put our energies into fiery intercession instead. Pray with passion for the Jacks, Marks and Jeffs of the world. Contend for their souls.
My primary outlets will continue to be writing on my site and on other platforms that choose to publish my articles. I'll still use social media, but I'll be guarded.
I believe the fact that so many choose to take breaks from social media (breaks that typically last much shorter than announced!) is an indicator that we may need to take this desire seriously. We are addicted as a nation to Facebook especially. I would suggest a serious shift away from social media. Don’t look for conservative replacements. Don’t just take a short break. Consider eliminating it entirely or minimizing it greatly. If we do use it, use with great caution.
Just take a moment and consider the possibilities of intercession. If Jack Dorsey got radically saved, the entire world shifts. The same is true for Mark, Sundar and Jeff. The enemy is zealously working to keep them from the truth of the Gospel. If they find Jesus, the enemy’s schemes are shattered.
Attempting to force them to comply with our standards, however, will only cause them to fight back all the harder. Which path seems more effective? Let’s pray for passion for these men, precious people being pursued with passion by the Spirit of God. He loves them.
PRAY FOR JACK DORSEY
Jesus, Jack Dorsey is known by millions as the founder of Twitter. What is most important, however, is that he is known by you. God, I ask that you touch Jack’s heart as only you can. Absolutely overwhelm him with your love. I pray he’d fall to his knees and cry out to you and surrender every part of his life to your leadership. This is a remarkable man who has a powerful calling on his life. In the name of Jesus I declare that he will fall desperately in love with Jesus, will become a mighty instrument in God’s hand and will impact millions for the Kingdom! In Jesus’ name! Amen!
Free speech isn't the only liberty at risk—the Gospel message itself is being threatened.
‘Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.'
My approach in this article might be considered a bit strange since it's coming from someone who has a high value for holiness, love and honor of others. The right to offend opens up the floodgates for all sorts of cruel, immoral, hateful and ungodly behavior. In fact, we as Christians should never desire to cause others to fall into the prison of offense by our unrighteous words or actions.
I've written and taught on this critical topic for several years, and it's quite possibly the most feeing message I've ever delivered.
The Bible tells us that in the end, love will grow cold. Offense overtaking a culture is a key indicator of the arrival of the latter part of the end times:
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” (Matthew 24:7–10, KJV 1900)
If we are going to survive and avoid falling away, we must live a life free from offense. We must be unoffendable. The moment offense takes root is the moment we have adopted the identity of a victim. We point fingers at others and blame and complain and allow their actions against us, beliefs about us and words said about us to define us. Instead of laying down our lives, loving, forgiving and blessing those who curse us, offense causes us to strike back. Imagine if Jesus did this as his haters were mocking him as he was dying naked on the cross.
This is why the vile sin of gossip is so destructive. Gossip erupts from the soul of an offended person. It's a form of hatred and revenge, and it is a powerful and wicked weapon against those who oppose us. Further, gossip breeds even stronger offense as it seeks to destroy, shame and manipulate.
With this in mind it's critical to understand that we have a dire responsibility to love with such passion that the unapologetic truth of Jesus will touch as many people as possible. We don't want people to be offended. Why?
“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: And their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” (Proverbs 18:19, KJV 1900)
If we, through mean spirited, arrogant or unloving words or actions cause people to be unnecessarily offended, we imprison them. It's next to impossible to win them to Jesus.
So, I understand how it might seem a bit bizarre that I'm promoting “the right to offend.”
A CALL TO REPENTANCE IS POSSIBLY THE MOST OFFENSIVE MESSAGE MANY WILL EVER HEAR
The Daily Mail, a British publication, reports, “Judges have insisted that freedom of speech includes the ‘right to offend' in a landmark ruling which could help to turn the tide on ‘woke' intolerance…”
Presiding over a case in the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Warby said: ‘Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.'
They added that ‘free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another'. The judgment from two senior members of the judiciary will set a precedent for future cases involving freedom of speech.”
The reason Christians must support the right to offend is simple: the message we have been mandated to deliver to the world is by nature offensive to those who reject it.
According to the Bible, the cross of Christ is offensive. We can't avoid that. We can't soften it. Jesus offended to such a severe degree that people tortured and murdered him. Yet, he loved and forgave.
Our attitude when serving the message to our audience should never be offensive. We must preach with fire in our veins and tears in our eyes. Our hearts must be broken over the pain and hopelessness of the world. The moment we start shoving our favorite Bible revelations down the throats of the lost is the moment we started teetering on the verge of losing our own salvation. This is abhorrent behavior to say the least.
However, while the Gospel message is the greatest revelation of love the world will ever know, it is also threatening, corrective, invasive, unmoving and, yes, offensive.
“So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” (1 Peter 2:7–8, ESV)
The Gospel message invades the private spaces of those who have rejected God. The Holy Spirit will confront the rebellion and the pain and the confusion in an attempt to reach the deepest places of their hearts. Many of you who are reading this know exactly what I'm talking about. It's quite possible, normal even, to be offended into the Kingdom of God!
The resulting collapse to their knees as they cry out to God for the first time in their lives is evidence of the power of sanctified, holy offense that the Holy Spirit is perfectly skilled at delivering. When the message offends, God can transform lives powerfully. However, when the messenger offends, ears are shut and hatred results.
THE RIGHT TO OFFEND GOES EVEN FURTHER
Let's bring this topic into the natural, secular realm.
The justices on the other side of the ocean are on to something. A nation becomes weak and liberties are threatened when its people become easily offended. The snowflake culture is more threatening to the strength of our nation than we know.
Does it make any sense that certain affinity groups would have a right to be protected from what others are saying while the rest of civilization does not? Why would those who have adopted a transgender lifestyle (which was the focus of the Daily Mail's article) have a specialized right to not hear what others have to say while the rest of the world has no choice but to have cruel, hateful vomit spewed all over them?
I was so saddened when I was watching a TikTok video the other day. A wonderful special needs adult who has a large following on the platform was attacked by a troll. This terrible person said it's “cute” when special needs children are on display on social media, but adults? They should be euthanized.
I was sickened. This was hateful speech. In comparison to an individual refusing to refer to a transgendered person by their preferred pronoun, well, there is no comparison.
Anyone who spends any amount of time online will see the most heinous people in our nation freely hating, attacking, trolling, bullying, mocking, canceling, shaming and attempting to wound anyone they disagree with. It's everywhere. So, again, the question is, why would certain affinity groups be protected from free speech while the rest of us are not?
My wife and I have a travel channel on YouTube. We are privileged to have a great community of people who are pleasures to interact with. However, there have been several who have been hurtful. Guess what? They have a right to say what they want. They can attack. They can hate. They have that right. I will defend their right to projectile verbal vomit all over me.
Comedian Dave Chappelle unleased absolutely disgusting, vile, unfunny and hateful language in the direction of conservative activist Candace Owens. I won't come close to sharing what he said here, but I will share the shocking and refreshing response from Candace. She tweeted:
To every Democrat tweeting me the clip of #DaveChappelle insulting me: I’m not a leftist. I have a sense of humor & I think comedians SHOULD make fun of people. Dave Chappelle is one of the greatest comedians of all time and I made it into one of his specials. That’s POWER!
Whatever the opposite of a snowflake is, that is Candace.
When Congressman-elect Luke Letlow recently died of COVID-19, many truly sick individuals started launching I-told-you-so attacks against him (regarding his more right-leaning beliefs concerning the virus that ironically took his life). The hatred that flooded Twitter and other social sites is protected free speech, but people become enraged when their affinity group isn't affirmed? This offensive, demented and loveless barrage of missel strikes on Luke Letlow has most certainly devastated even further his precious wife and children who are in mourning.
Of course we know Christians are often targets of hate. Where is the outrage?
The Daily News reports:
On New Year’s Eve, left-wing journalist and New York Times bestselling author Kurt Eichenwald wished “pain & misery” on Republicans and said that he wants to find an “antimasker” and “beat them to death.” During the volatile rant, Eichenwald also scolded alleged “anti-mask” “F***ING ‘Christians’ who preen about God saving [them] from COVID,” claiming they are who “Jesus condemns.” “I have so much hate in my heart tonight.”
With all sincerity, I pray God touches Kurt's heart and heals his pain.
Again, on TikTok, a creator was greeted with a comment that said, “I really hope this is a video of you having a stroke that will end your life.”
And, again, that hate speech is perfectly okay? Understand, comments like this are flooding the social-sphere night and day. Innumerable people being sniped by innumerable commenters with unfathomable hatred. Well, of course it isn't okay, but it's legal, and it should be. Voicing opinions, no matter how politically incorrect, evil or personal is protected in our nation. It's called free speech.
The saying goes, sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me. Of course, that's untrue. Words hurt. But, in our nation we are free to use hurtful words. We are free to use hateful words. Spend ten minutes outside of your Christian bubble and venture into the real world of public opinion. Every form of vile language and unrelenting hate-filled assaults are non-stop when it comes to politics, abortion rights, gay rights, masks, lockdowns, sports, parenting and pretty much every other hot topic in our culture.
Please tell me why this hate speech is protected but other hate speech is censored, rooted up and out. While you are considering that, let me know why some lies are affirmed while other lies are banished from social media.
THE RIGHT TO LIE
Okay, this is getting downright blasphemous. A Christian author supporting the right to lie?
It's not blasphemy. Honestly, it's common sense.
Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have emerged as today's thought police, independently becoming arbiters of truth. They are either attaching disclaimers to “deceptive” tweets and posts or completely deleting them. Entire conservative accounts being deleted has become quite normal. In a nation that not only celebrates but was founded on free speech, alternate viewpoints (conspiracy theories) and even mainline, honest evaluations have become flagged as deceptive.
No longer can we question the election, share our beliefs regarding biology (science) when it comes to questions of gender or debate many of the liberal ideologies of the day.
Here's why we must support the right to lie. You will agree that it is common sense. The truth of the Word of God is already being rejected as a lie. If we don't support the right to lie or to hold positions that differ from secular society, our freedom to preach truth will be stripped.
Facebook, Twitter and the others: stop the moderation. You can't sanitize your platform of the truth you call a lie. If people want to promote belief in aliens, so be it. If we want to discuss election fraud, surely we should be allowed to. Our President surely should never be censored. (I'm talking to you, Jack Dorsey.)
But, friend, we have to know that as the end draws nearer, truth will be called a lie and lies will be called truth. This is why we must support the right to lie. We as Christians must be unmuzzled, free to spread “lies” that will set the captives free.
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” (Romans 1:24–25, ESV)
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20, ESV)
WE MUST BE UNOFFENDABLE
If we are unoffendable, we will remain full of life, joyful and victorious no matter what people say to us. Yes, words hurt, but they should not debilitate.
Both in the spiritual and the natural, we must discover this strength. Our churches and our nation will become stronger, healthier and enduring when we refuse to melt when the verbal (or written) attacks come.
The Daily Mail continued, “Mr Justice Warby explained that the relevant parts of the Communications Act ‘were not intended by Parliament to criminalise forms of expression, the content of which is no worse than annoying or inconvenient in nature'. Mr Justice Warby also suggested that the prosecution had been an ‘unjustified state interference with free speech'.”
Please hear me. I have already made the case that we should never desire to offend, but when we as Christians stand for truth, offense will come. There is a careful, Spirit-led balance that must be discovered. There is a time to avoid offending people, as Jesus made clear:
“When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”” (Matthew 17:24–27, ESV)
There's also a time to stand for what is right, defending the liberty of society, even though those who aren't willing to be graceful may strike back. It makes no sense that it's okay to call for a special needs adult to be killed but it's a crime for someone to call someone a he instead of a she. A spirit of offense truly is overtaking the world, and we cannot allow it to dictate laws and culture.
I'll conclude by requalifying and clarifying my position on personal holiness. We as blood-bought Believers must be spotless, rejecting a life of sin and driven by the love of Jesus. We should not lie, hate or intentionally offend. Our passion must be the transformation of those who God so deeply loves. The world needs to see us as an unoffendable army of lovers of our mighty God. We must stand for truth even when it's determined to be a lie. We must deliver the offensive truth of Scripture from a pure and unoffended heart. We must love so deeply that those who vehemently resist it lash out and call us haters.
Simply, get ready for persecution that living a consecrated life will bring.
Originally published by The Stream.
Functioning primarily out of our soul results in division, fear, recklessness and arrogance.
Social media has been distressing to my spirit this year. Really, all media has been, including the few sources that might be considered trustworthy. I'll be the first to admit it's easy to dive into debates at a soul level, arguing logic that seems so obvious while being legitimately confused at how anybody else just cannot see it the same way.
Everything from masks to President Trump to racism has polarized our nation. The damage left in the wake of the raging debates has been devastating. More concerning, the church has been caught up in the exact same soul-level social battles.
When our soul leads the way in our debates and decisions, the results can be quite toxic. We've seen fear and division overcome the people of the “home of the brave.” Arrogance has been masquerading as authority and recklessness as freedom.
The soul is the center of emotions and logic, and without the anointing of the Holy Spirit, arguments initiated from that level are not to be trusted. Powerful emotions with the help of seemingly obvious logic will convince people they are functioning from a place of wisdom when in truth they are reacting in fear. Faith is eliminated from the equation. Wisdom (fear) trumps faith when we don't live, breathe, pray and walk in the Spirit.
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:25-26 (NIV)
DIVISION IS NOT ALWAYS NEGATIVE
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law– 36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.' Matthew 10:34-36 (NIV)
The true church will always introduce division simply because of the topics we are promoting. There is an agenda. Jesus made it clear that ecumenical unity wasn't his goal. World peace wasn't the focus.
We can expect division when the Gospel is preached. When revival hits, people will be split like the Red Sea with many running to the altar and many running out the back door.
Many pastors today are attempting to avoid the very necessary schisms that clearly define the remnant and the pretenders. Truth rightly presented demands decisions. In the end the Final Judgment will bring the greatest division of all, separating the sheep and the goats for all humanity to see.
Many Christians have attempted to apply this principle of biblical division to their own humanistic stubborn opinions. They celebrate as their pet positions cause others to get riled up and split off. They feel spiritual, but this is soul-level activity and it is grieving to the Lord.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another… Ephesians 4:30-32 (NIV)
Preach the Word of God and, often times, you can expect division.
Preach masks, politics, the Constitution and on the racial issues of the day? We as Spirit-filled, blood-bought children of the King should speak with great love and grace. Is there ever a time to strike against wicked arguments with force and precision? Absolutely. But, not from our soul. This type of engagement must be led fully by the Spirit.
WHAT IS GOD SAYING?
Church, it's time to come up higher. In this toxic season of politics, sickness, murder and distress, we need to resist the urge to function from our soul. It's time to minister from our spirits.
We've heard all of the arguments about masks, both pro and con. We know all of the reasons people are going to vote for Trump or Biden. People are dogmatic about taking a knee or not. The memes and GIFS and posts and rants about all of these volatile issues and others have become predictable — and nauseating.
Where are those who have emerged from their closets of intercession, those who have a clear word from the Lord? Where is the tangible anointing that pierces through arguments? In this critical, historic hour, where are the true prophets?
Understand, this doesn't mean we can't discuss issues at a logical level. I'm not even saying the soul (emotions and logic) should be minimized. God gave us a soul and he will certainly cause us to speak intelligently and even passionately on secular matters, with wisdom, love and clarity. Debates and discussions can be beneficial. The critical call, however, for every Christian, is to do so with the mind of Christ.
The greater the activity of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the more impacting our words will be. I would challenge you to disengage from the madness that has bewitched so much of the world and the church. Pull back. Stop functioning mostly from your soul. Don't get so excited about your logic. Be teachable. Die to your own opinions. Speak truth under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and people will be absolutely confounded.
When the truth you speak causes both people and demons to react, you know you've moved from soul-level arguments to spirit-driven, authoritative declarations:
22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 24 “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching–and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. Mark 1:22-28 (NIV)
TAKE A BREAK
As I said above, it's easy to get sucked into the soul-level debates of the day. And, as I said, not all of these debates are unhealthy. However, a whole bunch of them are.
They can distract those who are supposed to be functioning in the realm of the Spirit and cause us to fight in the flesh. If your revelations on the matters of the day aren't burning with anointing, take a break. If you aren't having dreams and visions about how to address the madness of this hour, take a break.
Seriously. Resist the urge and stop posting to Facebook. I'm not talking about the infamous month-long breaks from social media that people regularly announce. Those folks are back and active usually in less than 24-hours.
I'm talking about going deeper in God than you ever have. See the futility of your arguments. Humble yourself. Finally understand that nobody needs to hear what your soul has to say. Find your prayer closet and discover what God is yearning to reveal to our nation.
The whole world will want to hear what you have to say then.
All it took was a health scare to expose a negative spirit in many American Christians.
22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)
It saddens me quite deeply to see a famously strong American people have their spirits so easily and thoroughly crushed by our recent crisis. However, the reaction of the American people pales in comparison to how disappointing the response of many Christians is. Faith-walkers have surrendered that distinction for one of nervous caution. Walking by sight and not by faith has been the nearly instantaneous shift many have adopted as an invisible enemy has threatened their safety.
Of the weapons God has provided for us to win battles and counteract the assaults of the enemy, I wonder if joy just may be among the most supreme. Instead of scouring the internet in search of the perfect mix of vitamins, supplements, essential oils and unproven medicines to combat a medical threat, the Word of God states clearly that joy is the good medicine we need!
SOCIAL MEDIA REVEALS A LOT
It's telling when Believers in Jesus are posting non-stop everything negative, threatening and discouraging they can find, most of it from the compromised liberal media. This toxic negativity is doing great damage to many and it must stop immediately.
11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:11 (ESV)
Continuing to spew fearful statistics, hyped news reports and other information without clearly communicating that we as the children of God are victorious overcomers and that we will fight this giant in joyful, fearless faith, it is defiling to us. Speaking or typing out dread, nervousness, hyper-caution, worry or fear does great damage to our spirits. It crushes us. It crushes many who are hearing or reading our dire reports as well. Instead of ministering life, hope, faith and victory, too many Believers are pawns in the enemy's hands, messengers of pending disaster.
It's astonishing how messages of fearlessness and faith and a resolve to stand against this foe in our nation are met with anger, often by Christians! They have determined our faith is threatening their safety and that our holy confidence is foolishness. Truth be told, when faith meets fear, those who live in fear can become quite enraged indeed.
WHO WILL STAND AGAINST THIS UNCIRCUMCISED PHILISTINE?
26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26 (ESV)
This young man would have nothing to do with a paralyzed nation. He refused to be intimidated, and his great, godly resolve was met with initial resistance, not from Goliath, but from his own people. Not only was Goliath positioned against David, his threats resulted in David's very own family turning against him. As if Goliath's army wasn't enough, now he had the help of those in David's camp in shutting him down.
28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 1 Samuel 17:28 (ESV)
The moment a faith-filled Believer determines to move forward in the face of fear is the moment those who are timid, cautious and tentative will launch their attack against them. Accusations will fly. They will determine that people of faith are presumptuous, driven by an evil heart just as Eliab did with David.
Additionally, in this great biblical story, David rejected Saul's armor. In the same way today, God is raising up people who don't put their trust in the supposed wisdom that seems obvious to everybody else. They have an entirely different plan of action to bring destruction to a wicked assault of the enemy. When you have faith a single stone will do.
But, understand, that stone won't stop the accusations and assaults of the fearful. It won't stop those who are walking by sight and not by faith from mocking your position or methods of battle. Sadly, many in the camp of the Lord are doing all they can to silence their own brothers and sisters, people of faith who won't be intimidated by the threats that have caused everybody else to go into hiding.
17 No weapon formed against you shall prosper… Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV)
3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler And from the perilous pestilence. Psalm 91:3 (NKJV)
5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor of the arrow that flies by day, 6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. Psalm 91:5-6 (NKJV)
10 No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; Psalm 91:10 (NKJV)
19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19 (NKJV)
Now these are verses that should be repeated all over Facebook! Speak life!
It's unsettling that so many people who name the name of Christ are filling their social media and conversations with bad reports. They sound no different than the unredeemed of the world. This must stop immediately if we hope to be a national church that moves in great supernatural power!
If you are triggered by negative news reports regarding a virus or any other threat, you have an opportunity to reject the tendency to share the bad news. Instead, speak life! Be life-giving!
If you read bad news, don't confess it! Instead, jump on Facebook and Twitter and announce to the world that “No plague shall come near your dwelling!” Command the wicked strategies to come to nothing! Take authority and trample on the serpents! Pick up your stone and run to the battle with joy bursting forth from your heart, abundant life exploding out of your spirit and victory resounding on your lips! Allow everyone around you to be astonished that you are free, alive and not stricken by this wicked serpent as it's crushed under your feet!
Don't alert everybody to the taunts of Goliath. Don't fill up your day relaying news reports of his encroaching position. Quit warning everybody about his strength. Don't devise a defensive plan to avoid him at all costs, to lock down in hiding and to just wait it out and hope for the best. No! It's time to advance!
16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening. 1 Samuel 17:16 (ESV)
The world needs to see you posting life not death, faith not fear! Confront the evil spirit of the age that's taunting our nation! Let no defiling word, report or confession come out of your mouth!
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)
Both the lost and the church needs to hear YOU rejecting fear as you abound in unspeakable joy! Decree an overcoming testimony over this nation! Command the enemy to step back and declare with fiery boldness that our faith is more powerful than his mountain!
20 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. 23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:20-23 (ESV)
Let Psalm 27:13 and Psalm 19:14 be your meditation going forward, and fill up your conversations and social media posts with joyful, fearless, life-giving messages that focus on the goodness of the Lord, truths that will put fear into the enemies of our nation!
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Psalm 27:13 (ESV)
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (ESV)
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.
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.
Bethel Church has an opportunity to correct a seriously flawed post regarding LGBTQ+. They are on the clock.
(I'd like to offer to you my most potent and critical book, The Terror of Hell, for FREE. More info below.)
It was a day, not unlike every other day, doing what most every person on the planet does: flicking through posts on Facebook. Then, something caught my attention. I did a double-take and read it again. And again. I was shocked.
At the time of this writing, the post in question had over 2.5 thousand comments, and it seems that a large number of them voiced grief and great concern. Also at the time of this writing, clarification has not been given and the post has not been taken down nor reworded.
CHANGED, a ministry of Bethel Church in Redding, California, wrote the post and included the following statement in it:
God loves all people, LGBTQ+ and straight. The message of CHANGED has never been “All Must Change.” We share these stories specifically for Christians who are unfulfilled in identifying as LGBTQ+. For those of you who feel fulfilled and happy as you are, we love you!
Of course, this was immediately troubling to me as it seemed as if Bethel Church was moving closer to the false-grace, hyper-love philosophy that is bewitching so much of the church today. However, I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. I don't believe it's appropriate to launch into attack mode, as many of today's “protectors of truth” tend to do. It's important to honor even when questions and controversies arise. I am believing that Bethel Church will bring clarity to a murky and concerning situation.
Listen to the podcast on this topic…
Here's my response to their post:
Oh no. Please, Bethel Church, PLEASE rethink this. Reconsider your wording. The following that you wrote is NOT GOOD. Did you possibly word it incorrectly?
“We share these stories specifically for Christians who are unfulfilled in identifying as LGBTQ+. For those of you who feel fulfilled and happy as you are, we love you!”
Since then, there's been quite a stir among many who are equally troubled about their apparent stance. Some Christian news sites are picking up the story as well.
Bethel Church bashed on social media for being ‘weak’ on LGBTQ+ stance ~Premier Christian Magazine
Today, I received a response from Bethel Church to my request for clarification:
We believe you can fully love someone who you disagree with, Jesus modeled this for us well.
Of course we must love those we disagree with. This is such an obvious concept that it makes one wonder if they are attempting to toe the line or to completely cover something up. What do they really believe? Right now, nobody knows.
We still don't know if:
1. You simply worded your original post wrongly.
2. You actually believe Christians can identify as LGBTQ+ and for those who are fulfilled and happy, there is no further action necessary.
I'm curious about what would happen if they were addressing another issue in their ministry, and posted the following:
“We share these stories specifically for Christians who are unfulfilled in viewing pornography. For those of you who feel fulfilled and happy as you are, we love you!”
You can switch out the key word with any. What if they are unfulfilled in child abuse? Pornography? Fornication? Hatred? It's clear that Bethel Church must clarify their statement. The confusion can be catastrophic for those who are convinced that respected, well-known Christian leaders are affirming their lifestyles. Yet, they are available to talk if they should ever want to change, if they stop enjoying their lifestyle. I honestly don't think their position could be any weaker, more confusing or more dangerous.
ALL MUST CHANGE
Contrary to the message that Bethel Church is communicating, very directly and boldly I might add, radical, wholesale change is absolutely required for those who desire to follow Jesus.
A revelation of our debauchery and hopelessness is the critical starting point when sharing the Gospel with someone. We cannot cover up this reality out of fear that someone will get defensive, offended or resistant to the message. Do we even understand anymore in our hyper-modern age that God is holy? If we modify the message of truth in hopes of ensuring a longer, more “successful” audience with a sinner, we are in serious violation.
Simply revealing the love of God to someone is NOT evangelism. In fact, it can have devastating results. It takes much more than a love revelation to draw someone into a legitimate relationship with Jesus.
As was done with the Rich Young Ruler, you must make it hard, not easy, to follow Jesus. You aren't a salesman, you are a representative of a holy God. Address sin, hell, the fear of the Lord, surrender, the cost of following Jesus and the personal loss that will result.
They will lose friends, leave immorality and selfishness behind, surrender all and sign up as a martyr should God call them to that.
If they eagerly repent after you share all that, you'll know they are starting their Christian journey the right way. If you only share God's love with them, they are at great risk of living their entire lives convinced all is well while actually following Jesus in an unsaved condition.
STOP minimizing the cost of following Jesus and hiding offensive truth in the hopes that people will get saved.
If they don't like God as he is or if they get offended when faced with their own wickedness, let them walk. They have zero bargaining power as they are mere moments away from entering Hell. That sounds harsh, but it's truth. God is who he is, and we can't attempt to make him more attractive. He truly is a loving and fearful God.
Of course, their decision to walk should rip at our hearts, launching us into tears and intercession for them. True love looks just like this. Refusal to confront with truth is damaging beyond measure, and Hell is growing larger because of it.
The idea that Bethel Church is propagating (even if they erred in communication) that you can identify as both a Christian and as LGBTQ+ is extremely dangerous, not to mention fully and completely wrong. Can you be a Christian pornographer? A Christian adulterer? A Christian serial killer? A Christian witch? It's lunacy. Until Bethel Church refutes this idea and corrects their error, this is what people will be led to believe.
Today many are arguing that all sin is the same, and that Christians are in fact themselves sinners, and that homosexuality is no different than lying. I'd encourage you to read an article that I wrote titled, “No, Not All Sin Is The Same—Here's Proof.”
First, it's untrue that all sin is the same. That idea is fully unbiblical, and the article I linked to above will bring clarity on the matter.
Second, Christians are not sinners. We absolutely should not be living a life of sin as the world does. If we do, we are in trouble for sure.
We are living in a time when the high majority of evangelical young people are having sex outside of marriage. A huge percentage of Christians, including pastors, are regularly viewing pornography. The Bible clearly reveals that continuing in sin as Christians has dire, eternal consequences. Many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27
I'd like to offer the ebook version of my book The Terror of Hell to you for free. It's a short read but a troubling and revealing—and life-altering—account of an encounter I had with the forces of Hell. God placed a disturbance in my spirit that has lasted nearly 30 years, right up to this very moment. He said, “John, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.” My life was forever changed. My life message was given to me.
You can download the book here: https://burton.tv/the-terror-of-hell
This is why I'm so disturbed by messages like the one that Bethel Church is communicating. I believe they, if not more careful, can lead millions to the slaughter. Hell can absolutely be the result of faulty theology.
Now, all of this being said, I am absolutely holding out hope that Bethel Church will bring better clarification than what they offered me in the comments of the Facebook post.
They are tackling a very important issue in our generation, and I pray they are able to do it with utmost biblical integrity instead of sociological, philosophical, psychological strategies.
Addressing error without compromising our credibility
Listen to the podcast:
The need for people who rightly divide the truth is only going to escalate as the end-times season we are in continues to unfold. These Bereans are valuable and it would do us all well to embrace the opportunity to analyze our belief systems and to grow.
Instead, all over social media especially, we see critical and arrogant spirits assaulting others they disagree with theologically. For Christians to be rude and to operate in a spirit of accusation makes one wonder if they are saved at all. In fact, the moment we utilize methods of communication that contradict the fruits of the Spirit, we lose our credibility. Fortunately, there are many people who confirm their credibility by debating and discussing with love and honor. Communicating with them is a pleasure. However, all too often, supposed guardians of theology are zeroed in on proving their point and on shaming all who disagree. On the contrary, the shame is on them as they attempt to demoralize and invalidate people’s ministry. The focus is on mistakes, errors, disagreements and weaknesses instead of building them up, honoring them and encouraging them in the Lord.
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10 (ESV)
As one who absolutely affirms bold and provocative messages, I’m dismayed that so many who name the name of Jesus presume boldness equates to cruelty and divisiveness. Haters and debaters who are driven by a contentious agenda against those they disagree with are doing great damage to the church. Strangely, they presume to be the champions of truth, knights in shining armor who are to be celebrated for defending their absolutely “perfect” view of Scripture. They presume themselves to be Bereans when in reality they are aligning themselves with a dark spirit of accusation and assault. These are no Bereans. They are, in fact, Thessalonians.
THE SPIRIT OF THE BEREANS VS THE SPIRIT OF THE THESSALONIANS
2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. Acts 17:2-3 (NIV)
In Thessalonica, Paul was reasoning in the synagogue and revealing the glorious truth of Jesus. Some were persuaded, but many weren’t, and instead of exhibiting love in disagreement, they started a riot. This riotous spirit is driving the religious today, people who are not at all interested in life-giving truth. Their motive is selfish, protecting their own way of life and belief system.
5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. Acts 17:5 (NIV)
I think I’ve met some of the bad characters the verse mentions. They are all over Facebook. In the face of this, Paul and Silas moved on to Berea.
10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Acts 17:10 (NIV)
Many presume the Bereans heard the message and then, with a nasty, suspicious look on their face and thick theological walls built up, they put their noses into the Scriptures, looking to refute all that was being said. This is not what happened at all. Many modern “Bereans” are some of the meanest, most arrogant and unteachable people in the church. They are so tightly wound up, fearing even the slightest threat to their personal doctrines that they often slander and accuse people they oppose. This is not how the Bereans in the Book of Acts responded. Not at all.
11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11 (NIV)
Did you notice that the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians? Did you notice why? They received the message not with great suspicion, but with great eagerness! They were excited about this fresh, life-giving message that Paul was revealing to them! Their energy wasn’t spent discounting the message but rather in searching the Scriptures to see if it was true.
Because of this, many Jews and Greeks were transformed.
The story doesn’t end there, however.
13 When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. Acts 17:13 (NIV)
The Thessalonians actually went to Berea to hunt down Paul and agitate the people because of his message!
I propose many who assume themselves to be Bereans are actually Thessalonians—people who are more intent on hunting, agitating and stirring up instead of eagerly receiving revelation from the Word of God.
LET LOVE LEAD
When engaging in conversation, especially online on social media or in the comments section of articles like this one, simply be nice. Discussions and healthy debates are supposed to be fun and edifying!
I try to make it a point to address false theologies while never assaulting the minister. I know, there are many who would argue that there are times in Scripture where false teachers were named and they were addressed quite bluntly. Yes, there absolutely does come a time to do that, but it is not as often as many might presume—and it’s always in a spirit of great love.
I do my very best to honor all, even if I believe their theology is way off. What benefit is there in being rude, arrogant or aggressive toward them as a person? When I engage in discussions on Facebook or other places online, a core value of mine is to be nice. I never want the person I’m engaging with to feel like I’m attacking them or that I presume to be superior. While I will boldly communicate my position, I don’t want anybody who might disagree to feel unsafe or devalued. They are precious people created in the image of God. Yes, if they pose a risk because of their doctrine, we must deal with that. But, it’s usually more beneficial to attack beliefs than to call out and defame people.
If I’m not exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit in my conversation, I should not be communicating at all. It’s time to shut off the computer and head into the prayer room. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control should dominate our discussions.
Quit calling everyone you disagree with a heretic. Quit commenting on articles like this one with the sole intent of exposing the author as deceived, false or in some sort of error. Share your perspective. Offer your point of view. Reveal your concerns. Be teachable. Communicate with honor and humility without abdicating your mandate to be a true Berean. Your eagerness to receive truth will open the door for many to believe in Jesus.
Please understand, I have thick skin. By the grace of God I’m nearly unoffendable. When people are aggressive toward me personally when I write or preach, I honestly don’t take offense. Reading mean tweets and comments can be entertaining and even enlightening. I understand the messages I’m called to deliver are provocative and I do know the arrows will fly.
But, I will say this. As someone who is deeply troubled when other preachers and prophetic people are attacked simply because of a disagreement over their theology or style of ministry, I want to simply ask you to be nice. Don’t aim your arrows in their direction. Understand the accusations and cruel things you say don’t only hurt them, but they hurt their spouses and children. Do you have any idea how many tears wives have cried because their husbands are mercilessly assaulted by others in the church through gossip and all over the internet? This is a very real and terribly sad problem, and it simply shouldn’t be.
Let love lead. Be kind. Be gentle. Be patient. Be bold. Stand for truth. Don’t hate. Be tender in your debate. Put the arrows down and simply love.
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