Posts Tagged ‘false grace’

Unbiblical “Freedom Theologies”–The Growing Rejection of the Need to Go Deep in God

Arguments against the invitation to go deep in God are increasing…and it’s Christians who are leading the resistance.

re·li·gion /rəˈlijən/ Man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.

imageSlap the label “religious” on anything that threatens your theology or impacts your definition of freedom. It feels spiritual. It is spiritual. The demonic spirit realm is filled with unholy wisdom, and very often this is the source of such a defense. Today’s rallying cry seems to be fueled by the desire to be free from anything that places restraints, expectations or requirements upon someone. All of that, to them, is religious.

Many of the arguments are coming from those who have been duped into believing an unbiblical doctrine of grace. This false-grace ideology presumes that all has been completed by Jesus, and that nothing remains for us to do in order to be in relationship with him. Simply, his actions on the cross and at the tomb were sufficient. The result, if we only understood, they would argue, is that absolutely nothing can be done by us to increase our nearness to him, and, from the other direction, nothing can be done to decrease his nearness to us.

They argue that our sin is impotent. Our effort is both futile and unnecessary, and actually an offense to the finished work of Jesus. Their proposition is that we simply need a revelation of this supposed truth. When they discovered it themselves, burdens and weights were lifted and they began enjoying God as a good, good Father. They would say they do nothing, except believe and receive and live in that revelation.

YOGA-12-7-2018 3.03.07 PM 00000000The truth is that eliminating every burden (God’s burden is light, not non-existent) just may cost us our lives. If you are carrying a backpack on your three-day hike into the mountains, it’s going to get heavy. If you decided to take it off and leave it behind, it will feel like freedom! You are suddenly relieved of that irritating, uncomfortable burden. However, you will also be without food, water, a sleeping bag and shelter. The elements of the world will overtake you and you may very possibly succumb.

I celebrate with zeal every time someone I know encounters legitimate freedom and the immeasurable love of the Father! However, our experience in God cannot stop there. Those who do stop short need to be awakened to the deeper call of God on their lives.

You see, religion isn’t that which produces a barrier to freedom, it’s the attempt to use God in order to have the most pleasurable experience possible, no matter how selfish that pursuit may be.

Those who wanted Jesus to be their king one day, turned on him and demanded his death the next. Why? They were not set on worshiping Jesus but rather on using him. When he didn’t deliver what they wanted, they decided to eliminate him for a better option. This is religion in action.

9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:9 (ESV)

12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Mark 15:12-15 (ESV)

A SIMPLE YET PROFOUND CALL

God is calling us into the deep.

The only way there is through radical surrender, fervent intercession, living in the Spirit and unapologetic holiness.

We must die daily. We must be living sacrifices.

I’m writing this from my hotel room during a ministry trip to Albany, New York, and I’m watching The International House of Prayer’s prayer room live on YouTube. I was on staff at IHOPKC for a couple of years and it was easy to see one specific reality: Most of these people were devoted to God at a level rarely seen in this nation. They weren’t perfect people, but they were hungry people with a level of consecration rarely seen in the church. I’ve known many people who are offended at this. They actually despise IHOPKC and ministries like them. Why? Because their own level of passion for Jesus and depth in God are exposed as lacking. The thought that much is required of disciples of Jesus is contrary to their personal pursuits of undisciplined freedom.

Understand, I know these words I’m writing are provocative. I also believe they must be written so I can most effectively make my point. As obvious as it seems, a growing number of people in this generation don’t get it: we can only experience the deep things of God if we are fervent, radical, surrendered and dying daily to the things of the flesh. There is no other way. There are no shortcuts.

At IHOPKC and other similar ministries all around the world, people are praying 2-4 hours a day or more. They are allowing the groans of the Spirit to erupt out of them. They are devouring the Word of God as they allow the presence of God to permeate them in the prayer room. The Holy Spirit is speaking to them with clarity. The prophetic atmosphere around them is electric. Dreams, visions and a powerful anointing become regular. The chambers of their heart are opened to the searching of the Spirit of God. These people are undone, hungry, desperate and relentless.

Yet, those who subscribe to the unbiblical “freedom theologies” that I addressed above somehow believe that they are as close to God as those who are giving themselves in a more deliberate manner, even if they make no effort in drawing close to him.

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:7-10 (ESV)

A POWERFUL ANOINTING

I’ll never forget the time I had a regional prayer meeting in my church. A well known mega-church leader was in the prayer meeting along with several of his friends. I was praying with my eyes closed when I felt this intense wave of the glory of God wash over me. I opened my eyes and this man of God had just walked by me. I waited for him to make another lap, and as he passed by again, the wave hit me a second time. This happened several times.

I knew this man knew God. There was a depth that was uncommon. He was living in such a way that resulted in a very powerful anointing swirling around him. I yearned to do whatever it took to carry that type of glory on my own life.

I’ve experienced similar manifestations several times, and each time leaves me crying out for a deeper hunger and a more resolute life.

Pastor John Kilpatrick was preaching at a Bay of the Holy Spirit remote event in Detroit. I was on the front row during this morning session enjoying the wisdom that John was releasing to us. Suddenly, in the middle of a point, he stopped. He simply said, “He’s here.”

As he gazed toward the rear of the auditorium, I turned my head and looked myself. You could see a wave of God’s glory moving from the back to the front, row by row. Then it hit me. If I had an unlimited vocabulary at my disposal, I would still not be able to describe that experience. Simply, God arrived.

There is no way that manifests except via a radically devoted life, a life that John Kilpatrick exemplifies. There are precious few who live this way.

1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” Isaiah 6:1-7 (ESV)

As we life consecrated lives, encounters are revelations will increase. The truth found in Scripture will explode off the pages. We will be undone. As with Isaiah, the revelations will result in a declaration of God’s holiness and our weakness and struggle. If there is sin in our lives, it will be instantly evident. Then, the fire will sear us and our redemption and deliverance will be made clear.

We will live with a never-ending burning in our spirits and a tremble that marks us forever.

If we want to experience the wonders of God, radical consecration is the only option.

5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” Joshua 3:5 (ESV)

THE TERROR OF HELL

The Terror of Hell Paperback 500Not only will we live tepid, powerless lives that are focused mostly on our own personal experience instead of laying our lives down for Jesus, but those who refuse to consecrate and devote in the place of intense prayer and surrender are at risk of eternal separation from God. There is a terror of Hell that the enemy is making ready for them to experience.

My book The Terror of Hell is a sobering message of how intimacy with Jesus and salvation in Jesus are related. In the encounter, I was dragged toward Hell. The terror I experienced was horrifying and fully indescribable. God spoke to me after the encounter and said, “John, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”

It’s possible that a Christian may be in a good place today, but in the future they may grow apathetic or they may lose their first love. Here’s a portion of an article based on my book:

A backslider is focused on his own condition, on his own comfort zone while a good man is in tune with the heart of God. His pleasure comes from intimacy with Father God. His pleasure comes from going where God is going, doing what he is doing and feeling what he is feeling. There is no sense of ease in the storm, but there is satisfaction and joy in the presence of God and by being in active agreement with him.
This message is a wake-up call for every one of us. Many wonderful people will be terribly shocked to find themselves separated from God forever.

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

This scripture is in reference to those who would call themselves Born Again Christians. People who have understood and actually flowed in the power of the Holy Spirit. They understood their heavenly position and earthly authority as they overcame demons. These were your miracle workers.

We need a wakeup call, church. We can’t presume to be in a place of safety simply because we said a prayer, go to church, give offerings and talk about Jesus. An intense pursuit of holiness and intimacy is required.

This is a message that must be shouted from the rooftops.

I can’t imagine multiplied millions of people who are current following Jesus in an unsaved condition crying out in terror one day, “I’m going to Hell? That’s impossible!”

“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. 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. 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. Revelation 3:1-3 (ESV)

WE MUST DIVE INTO THE DEEP

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)

Unbiblical “freedom theologies” reject the call to the deep. I’ve had people actually tell me that going deep is unnecessary. Others have called people out of the prayer rooms! They argue it’s an unnecessary practice if we truly understand that there is nothing left to be done. They say we just need to rest in our fully resolved position in Christ. Still others reject prayer movements like IHOPKC because their devotion to intercession is a devotion to unnecessary works.

I’ll be honest with you, I never thought I’d see entire movements of supposed Spirit-filled Christians standing in opposition to prayer!

Someone connected with me on Facebook recently and shared her desperation to see a prayer movement emerge in her region. She actually said she’s been involved in a church that’s all about revival, but they haven’t had a prayer meeting in ten years! I simply responded by confirming her suspicions: you can’t be a revival church without a fervent, consistent and supernatural culture of prayer. It’s impossible.

THE SUBMARINE DREAM

YOGA-12-7-2018 2.12.07 PM 00000000My wife and I were in a military grade nuclear submarine following behind a second submarine that contained my Father and Mother-in-law.

I was analyzing the situation, trying to gain understanding on what exactly were were doing while my wife was playfully looking through the periscope. Both submarines were staying at the surface of the water, and they were being used as tour vessels. The atmosphere was playful and carefree.

After a short time everybody was done playing and we decided to park the submarines alongside a long pier. We climbed out and walked down the pier and onto an ocean side boardwalk. There were people everywhere enjoying a beautiful sunny day. The restaurants and shops were full of activity.

We walked onto the sandy beach which was about one hundred yards from the submarines.

As we gazed out over the water, both submarines suddenly began leaving. They headed out toward deeper water.

My in-laws immediately started running into the water giving chase to the submarines. As they did, I was thinking that it was impossible for them to get anywhere near to the fast moving vessels and I didn’t understand why they had tried.

Then, my wife ran into the water as well.

What I saw next can’t easily be described in a way that is true to the emotion I felt. The water immediately began erupting as if a powerful hurricane was upon us. I was terrorized as I frantically tried to devise a plan to help. What I saw next drained every bit of hope from my being. A whirlpool opened up underneath my in-laws and sucked them under. Then, a second whirlpool took my wife.

I was screaming for help. A few people gathered around but could offer no help whatsoever. I called 911 and all I heard was this recording, “We can’t send help for an hour. We can’t send help for an hour.”

It looped over and over. I knew that THIS was the hour. I couldn’t wait! The emergency was upon us.

As I stood on the beach, hopeless, the scene changed.

Only a few days had passed yet it was now bitterly cold and the water had frozen over. There was at least ten feet of snow on top of the ice.

I started moving slowly, though as quickly as I could, through the snow in the direction of where the whirlpools were.

imageI started digging ferociously and what I saw next will forever be seared in my memory.

It was my wife, frozen. She was gone.

I ran back to the boardwalk and into a restaurant. I saw someone who had tried to help previously behind the counter of a sports bar. He was a volunteer firefighter in addition to working at the restaurant. I yelled, “Help! Help! I found her! I found her! Come quickly!”

He just casually said, “Sorry man, I’m working.”

What? I couldn’t believe what I heard. I said, “No, you don’t understand! I found my wife! I need help!”

He just said, “Sorry.” and then looked at a customer and said, “How can I help you?”

imageI ran back to the snow where my wife was buried. I thought that maybe, just maybe, since she was frozen that there was a chance she could be revived. I’ve heard of people freezing and their heart beat is slowed to almost nothing before being brought back.

As I was thinking about this I looked down at her, and there was a piece of paper right next to her frozen face.

I picked it up. All it said was, “Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die.”

Then I woke up.

Interpretation

When I woke up I was shaken to my core.

As I started to pray and analyze the dream, the following is what was highlighted to me:

  • The submarines: Vehicles represent ministry, and I believe the submarines represented the church. The church is not meant for casual play at the surface of the water. It’s a military weapon of war designed to move into the deep as it advances toward enemy targets. When the submarines left on their own, that represented the truth that the church will most certainly advance on its mission with or without us. We can be left behind as we continue our focus on entertainment and leisure if we so choose.
  • My family: Of course, this was a hard core part of the dream. The first reaction is to do everything I can to ensure those close to me are doing well and burning hot for Jesus. Beyond that, symbolically I feel they represented familiarity and presumption. It’s very easy to presume those who are close to us are most certainly doing well in their relationship with Jesus—and then to model our lives after theirs. What happens so often is that we can adopt their pace and their level of passion instead of staying locked in, on alert and advancing in the fire of God. The pressure of maintaining civilities and false-unity can result in a marginalized, lukewarm, casual disposition.

    This verse best represents what I am communicating:

    …I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:1

    We must be careful not to presume that we are alive and that others are alive simply because of the preceding reputations. There are many people with both a spiritual legacy and a name for being zealous who are doing little more than playing—and it’s possible that those people may be some of our closest friends, family, pastors and other personal heroes. Don’t measure your life by their grid. We must calibrate to the truth in scripture that will bring light to every issue of our heart.

    Then, we can be true awakeners. If we think people who are are asleep are already awake, then we will have no need to step into our roles as end-time prophetic messengers.

  • 911: I was sounding the alarm in a variety of ways including by calling 911. I also ran into the sports bar looking for help. Both rejected the alarm. It’s clear that the hour is now for awakening though even those trained as emergency responders won’t see it. What was the alarm? Those that have a reputation of being alive are dead! Wake up!
  • The storm: It was sudden, violent and really out of place. It didn’t make sense, but it wasn’t obligated to explain itself. If we would have been in the submarines AND in the deep, the storm would not have touched us.

    “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; Matthew 24:36-38

THE CALL

So, what’s the call?

It’s simple, and it’s directed to the church, to those who are to be in the deep:

Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:2

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Revelation 3:4-6

God instructed me to wrestle with Revelation 3:1. I've been burning hot for Jesus for over 20 years, yet, is it possible that my devotion is not as deep as I might think? Yes, it is possible.

God didn't accuse me of being dead. He didn't reveal that my passion was false. He simply wanted me to always consider the possibility that my reputation will always be at risk of being more intense than my reality.

…I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Revelation 3:1

It's time to go deep, to be awake and alert and then to awaken the sleepers…many who may have a reputation of being very much alive…but are not.

It’s time for revival, not the promotion of selfish “freedom theologies.” This is the hour.

Are works a part of our salvation? Let’s talk about Ephesians 2:8-9

Misunderstanding grace as it relates to salvation has compromised the theology of millions.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

YOGA-000000029False-grace adherents, Universalists and the millions who subscribe to the doctrine of eternal security (once saved, always saved) arrive at their related positions via a theological journey that takes them all right through Ephesians 2:8-9.

They have been so inoculated by this belief system that anybody who suggests that faith is not enough, or that works play a part in salvation, must be following another Jesus and subscribing to another gospel.

Antinomianism is often the result for those who reject works in relationship to salvation. Antinomianism states that God forgives sins fully, and sinning has no disadvantage. Additionally, obedience has no impact. If it did, it would taint what Jesus did at Calvary.

Wikipedia:

Antinomianism in Christianity is the belief that under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation.

Regarding Antinomianism, Steve Hill wrote:

Purveyors of this poisonous teaching fail to realize that Jesus calls us beyond the requirements of the law in His teaching, stating, for example, that adultery refers to adultery of the heart and not just the physical act (Matt. 5:27-28).

This, folks, is an eternally destructive theology.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? James 2:14 (ESV)

The question is answered several verses later:

You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. James 2:24 (ESV)

In order for that verse to register rightly, we’ll have to talk about the difference between our own works and works that are graced and mandated by God. There is much more to the salvation equation than simply exhibiting faith.

The idea that all we have to do is believe in faith to gain salvation leads many to believe that all is well after we profess that faith. We are forever secure no matter how we live.

The manifestation of that belief is destructive in many ways, on many levels. Just yesterday someone quite adamantly told me that Hitler most definitely could have been saved. They also said that Hillary Clinton’s recent comments about possibly entering the ministry and preaching as a United Methodist should be celebrated. Since she believed on Christ long ago, she should be affirmed in her pursuit, no matter what abominable fruit she may produce.

Where did the basis of the argument come from? A misunderstanding of salvation, of faith and of works of righteousness. Many professing Christians simply are not saved. Some were at one point and their unrighteous decisions cost them their relationship with Christ.

WHAT KIND OF WORKS ARE NECESSARY?

A lot of people get tripped up when considering works as a part of our salvation process. Many have flashbacks to Catholic penance, where repetitively reciting the rosary is the prescribed answer to their sin. This, friend, is not the type of works that we should be endeavoring to accomplish. In no way should we attempt to trade work for an eternal paycheck.

Let’s look at a passage of Scripture:

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)

This is a solid, clear truth. Our own righteousness is a non-player. Works that come from our own righteousness are fruitless. Jesus alone could atone for our sins and make it possible for us to be in relationship with God. Jesus alone could make a way for us to spend eternity with him. So, on the front end, we don’t have anything of worth to offer.

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; Romans 3:10 (ESV)

You are indeed angry, for we have sinned– In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; Isaiah 64:5-6 (NKJV)

Understand, our own attempts to atone for our own filthiness is futile. It’s laughable. We deserve Hell and we are absolutely helpless outside of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.

But, works of another type absolutely do play a role in our salvation. Obedience and a right response to be holy is critical. If we don’t play our part, our salvation was either never secure, or it can be surrendered.

Above, in Titus chapter three, it was made clear that our righteousness and our works were powerless in regard to salvation. However, the message continues:

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. Titus 3:8 (NKJV)

True faith must manifest works that are not empowered by our own ability, but rather graced by God himself.

Let’s look at Ephesians 2:8-9 a little more closely:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved…

Another way to say it would be, “God, through divine favor and influence, has empowered you to be made whole.”

Since it’s impossible for us, in our humanness, to work the miracle of salvation, to bridge that uncrossable chasm, no matter how hard we work at it, God granted the power necessary.

…through faith…

You could reword this by saying, “by being convicted and convinced of truth, and becoming reliant upon Christ…”

Faith is a loaded word. We know that even demons believe. They are convinced that Jesus is Lord, but their reaction is very different. If simple belief was all that was necessary for salvation, we’d be living in our heavenly mansions next door to demons of every stench. Of course, that will not happen, so just what defines faith? Our response. Our obedience. Our works. I don’t believe works that are empowered by God’s grace are simply an “expected outcome” for one who comes to Jesus. (Have you ever met someone who “got saved” and still struggles with obedience?) I believe they are an integral, strategic part of the salvation process. God’s grace and our response are both key.

And, yes, I’ll agree to a point that you are probably thinking about right now. Consecration takes time. However, I believe a repeated failure at consecration can threaten our justification. We can’t take God’s calls to obedience and works lightly. Faith is not enough.

And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…

God initiated the relationship. He did what we could not do. Our wretchedness wouldn’t keep him away and our righteousness wouldn’t draw him near. God recognized that we all had hit rock bottom as we realized we had no power whatsoever to save ourselves. His love required that he simply rescue us by offering a relationship with him, and we didn’t have to pay for it, work for it or convince him we were worthy. We could never be.

Our humility is required as we allow God to move in and take over. Outside of Christ there is no grace to live in obedience so the only option was for God’s gift to be given.

…not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

God knew any hope of relationship with him would be compromised if we ever thought we could find salvation through our own effort. Our pride would take over and we’d boast about our remarkable abilities to find eternal life outside of God.

Here’s how this works: We can’t say, “Thanks God, but no thanks. I really don’t want to subscribe to your methods, protocols or mandates. I want to do this on my own terms, so I’m going to give one million dollars to charity. I’ll also do good, be good and think good thoughts. I’ll pay my own way. See you in Heaven some day (but don’t bother me too much. I’ll be busy doing my own thing there too.)”

We need God. Period. So, we are graced when we truly believe to be in relationship with Jesus AND adopt his way of life. We cannot simply have faith and then live according to our own plans. Works are not simply an evidence of faith, they are a key part of the salvation process. What trips people up so often is a misunderstanding of our own works versus works that are graced by God to fulfill. When God gives us power to respond, we must respond.

In order for this article to be written, I need the free power that the laptop receives by being plugged into the outlet in the coffee shop. I couldn’t type this out without the gift of electricity. Because of that grace, I can now get to work. God will anoint me, inspire me, grace me and empower me to write, but he won’t write it for me.

OUR WORKS ARE FRUITLESS BUT WORKS EMPOWERED BY GOD’S GRACE ARE MANDATED

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

Immediately after our human works were deemed to have no value in regard to our salvation, the very next verse highlights a primary purpose of our salvation—good works that we must walk in! Again, works are not an automatic result of salvation, nor are they disconnected from salvation. Works are mandated and God gives us the grace to those who are saved to fulfill them.

God absolutely will grace us to obey, but we must be the ones to respond. If we live a life of disobedience to God, a life devoid of works, the salvation that we freely received via faith will quickly be surrendered.

We have been given a gift that’s much greater than spending eternity in Heaven (and not in Hell). God’s grace enables us to work miracles! We can be full of supernatural joy and life every day! The works we now can do could never be done in the old covenant. Jesus made it possible to work wonders!

Yes, I believe calls to obedience and work that are fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit do impact our salvation, but they also launch us into a phenomenal, remarkable, other worldly life!

We absolutely can live free from sin! If we do sin (not when), we have access to Jesus and the same grace that we discovered when we initially gave our lives to him.

Let’s be sober regarding the issue of grace, faith and works but also exuberant! Jesus has made it possible to live the most amazing life—now, and forever with him in eternity!

Can Christians dabble in darkness without fear?

The blood of Jesus doesn’t grant us immunity. It grants us authority.

YOGA-000000044The rise of the unbiblical false-grace message has had predictable results: Christians are increasingly dabbling in darkness in the name of freedom. Those in that camp wrongly presume their casual response to sin has no consequences and that God’s love will cover every iniquity.

My recent Charisma News article on the dangers of engaging in cultural wickedness resulted in some Christians reacting in disagreement. Many vehemently resisted the idea that we should have any measure of concern about participating in Halloween due to our position in Christ—a position they believe cannot be compromised no matter how we behave. However, this emerging false principle reaches far beyond whether we should go trick or treating or not. Our entire lives are at risk the moment we dismiss caution regarding the unholy.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

This unbiblical, permissive principle that laughs at concern over evil in our culture gives license to careless playing with darkness. As a result, the aggressive defense against calls to separation and consecration very often comes in the form of an accusation. They presume to be standing for liberty and against religion as they boldly accuse messengers of holiness of legalism.

I actually believe it’s a severe offense to the cross when we reject calls of consecration in the name of freedom. This liberal position of casual unrighteousness is gaining wide acceptance in the Charismatic world. Instead of exposing the darkness, the evil in the land is resulting in a collective yawn.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:6-10 (ESV)

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. Ephesians 5:11-12 (ESV)

The argument is that we as Christians should never be afraid of repercussions from entertaining worldly elements in our culture. After all, perfect love casts out all fear, right?

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 (ESV)

Perfect love doesn’t automatically manifest simply because we are saved and that we have a connection with Jesus. Not even close. Perfect love produces evidences and one of those evidences is a repulsion of anything that is unholy.

I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music. I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. Psalm 101:1-3 (ESV)

Perfect and steadfast love, as declared in the above passage, results in worship of God AND living a blameless life. We won’t put anything worthless, or anything wicked as the Kings James Version puts it, before our eyes. We will have a hatred of anything unholy and will do all we can to ensure it doesn’t cling to us.Sadly, instead of hating the wickedness in our culture, many are working hard to validate their “innocent” participation as proof of their freedom. The result? Wickedness is clinging to them as they bring dishonor to the God they say they love. Deception is running rampant.

WHAT ABOUT THE BLOOD?

Many presume the mere act of repeating a prayer and inviting Jesus into their life makes them bulletproof. The idea is that a revelation of the power of the blood will result in a confidence that we are untouchable by the enemy. Thus, we can have no concern regarding our behaviors, what we are entertained by or the growing darkness in the land. We can participate without fear. Friend, that is a gross misunderstanding of liberty, love and fear.

Others have accused preachers of righteousness of inciting fear in people when they talk about the consequences of participating in worldly entertainment such as Halloween, immoral movies and television and music. The truth is that ungodly fear of the enemy is an expected result if we are aligning ourselves with him. The warning is to resist the devil, not to ignore him. If we resist, we can walk free from fear. However, if we ignore the enemy or dismiss worldly attractions as benign, we open ourselves up to a very real nightmare. We can’t embrace evil and avoid fear. It’s not possible.

If we are entertaining demons and the evil that demanded the slaughter of Jesus, we can be sure our love has not been made perfect. Further, we can have confidence that access to our lives has been granted to very evil beings.

The blood of Jesus absolutely does not grant Christians immunity from attack or from the influences of evil that we open our lives to. The blood of Jesus grants us authority to pierce the darkness as we live consecrated, blameless lives of perfect love.

Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die. Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the LORD, but those of blameless ways are his delight. Proverbs 11:19-20 (ESV)

Our connections, or alliances, or permissions can make us extremely vulnerable. They result in open doors for the enemy to access our lives.

A very important question comes from the Bible:  Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:2-3 (KJV)

The moment we roll our eyes at those who are making calls for holiness is the moment we become aligned with evil. Further, our agreement with the enemy and his plans of destruction result in a hand-in-hand walk with him. We become partners. We further his cause while we shout freedom from the rooftops and mock those who are exposing the darkness.

No, the blood of Jesus doesn’t grant us immunity. But, if we walk in authority the power of the blood is beyond our ability to imagine! Sin is eradicated in a moment. Disease is healed, demons are cast out and people are transformed for eternity!

HOUSE CLEANING AND DELIVERANCE

I’ve been involved in some incredible deliverances and house cleanings over my 25 years of ministry. I absolutely love it when I can participate in ministering freedom and deliverance to people who are bound up by the enemy.

Some amazing Christian people have been unable to break free until they went through deliverance or until they invited people to pray through their house. One person actually removed twelve large trash bags full of items from their home after such a ministry session with my wife and me. The items were acting as curses upon them simply because they brought them into their homes.

Others eliminated movies and other media from their DVR or devices that were resulting in oppression and demonic activity.

In fact, over twenty years ago I sat down to watch a very popular movie at the time, Silence of the Lambs. Common spiritual sense should have made it clear that I shouldn’t watch such a movie. Nevertheless, I did, and in the middle of it the Holy Spirit spoke very directly to me: John, you have to turn this off.

Some time went by and my new wife and I were vacationing in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. One night in the hotel I was exhausted and decided to go to bed early. As I was drifting to sleep I noticed my wife decided to watch Silence of the Lambs. I saw that it was on network television, so it was the “sanctified” version. I wasn’t too concerned and I fell asleep quite quickly.

I suddenly started dreaming, if you can call it that. It was real and it was pure evil. I couldn’t breathe as the demonic atmosphere overwhelmed me. In the dream I was in the same bed, in the same hotel room as I was in reality. I looked over and saw my wife next to me. She was watching Silence of the Lambs.

I then started levitating above the bed and was maneuvered above my wife. Somehow I had a very large knife in my right hand. As I was convulsing due to the inability to breathe, I took the knife and violently advanced against my wife with the intent to murder her.

Then I woke up.

My wife was extremely disturbed as she was shaking me awake. She told me I was convulsing and aggressive. Nothing like that had ever happened to me and it was disturbing.

As I came to, Silence of the Lambs was still on the television. I told her to turn it off immediately.

The room was filled with the thickness of demonic activity. Now awake, I could still barely breathe. The evil we somewhat unwittingly invited into the room had taken up residence.

Now, remember, my wife and I were blood-bought, Spirit-filled Christians. We were not immune to the attack of the enemy that we invited into our lives by watching that video. We opened the door and gave Satan authority to move in.

After turning off the television, we didn’t rely on immunity and ignore the myriad of demons in the room. That immunity wasn’t there. What we did, however, was move in our authority.

We repented for our sin and commanded every demon to leave, in the name of Jesus. Instantly they obeyed and left. The room was clean again and I could breathe.

Why am I sharing this? I want to point out how vulnerable we are to the enemy if we participate in unrighteousness. The evils of Halloween, most media and other forms of entertainment are saturated with demonic intent, and all it takes is an open door. Our participation is that open door. You can’t innocently, harmlessly go trick or treating, dress up the kids and eat candy. You can’t determine that certain types of movies don’t offend you if they contain forbidden content. We must not put anything wicked before our eyes. We must not adopt the evil in our culture.

“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. Deuteronomy 18:9 (ESV)

Depression, fear, anger, sickness and even death can come if we don’t aggressively resist the devil and his schemes while proclaiming to follow Jesus. It’s that serious.

Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 1 Corinthians 11:28-30 (ESV)

It’s critical that we examine ourselves, live blamelessly and resist the devil. If we are careless in the name of freedom, we can only expect open doors to allow those who are bent on destroying us free access.

On the contrary, if we sound the alarm, reject wickedness and call people to righteousness, if we live in love and are zealous servants of the most high God, we can walk in extreme authority and annihilate the kingdom of darkness!

A clear breakdown of my most controversial belief

I never thought a simple comment would result in such a reaction.

“I give myself an 80% chance of making Heaven.”

There it is. A clear and simple comment that has provoked people into honest pondering at the least and vicious personal assaults at the worst.

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Before I continue, allow me to provide some context. This message is intended for those who believe that a Christian can lose their salvation. We have to have a common starting point. Those who subscribe to the doctrine of eternal security (once saved, always saved) will certainly be at least intrigued by this article, but many of their arguments will be unaddressed. I’m not going to attempt to debate their position in full here, but I am going to present what I hope to be a clear breakdown of why I am so convinced of my perspective.

My estimation is that I will spend eternity with Jesus, but it is not a guarantee. If it was, I would, by definition, be an adherent to the doctrine of eternal security. I am not.

Simply, if you don’t believe in eternal security, that means that every current Christian will have an opportunity to lose their salvation—to turn from Jesus. And, no current Christian would ever presume that they would do such a thing, but nonetheless many certainly will.

Why would we be immune from that temptation while multitudes of other Christians are not? I definitely am not immune.

Mat 24:21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Many current lovers of Jesus will be deceived (even the elect) by extremely convincing yet false moves that have the name of Jesus attached directly to them.

1 Tim 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons…

Those who are currently in the faith are at risk. I am currently in the faith. I am at risk.

UNBIBLICAL GRACE

I and others more scholarly than myself have written on the dangerous false/hyper/unbiblical grace doctrines that are on the rise. You can read my previous articles to gain a better understanding of the theology here:

The reason I need to briefly address unbiblical grace in this article is to highlight a common thread that is woven through both of these talking points.

The-Terror-of-Hell-PaperbackThere seems to be an increasing desperation with people who are convinced that they simply cannot experience freedom from sin. Their last hope is a theology that overlooks their overpowering inclination to repeated failure. So, any teaching contrary to a quasi-universalistic viewpoint becomes a threat to their hope of eternal security.

I am absolutely sympathetic to those who are in bondage to sin. It breaks my heart that they are living in struggle and torment most every day of their lives and I am devoted to seeing them find radical, complete liberation!

The answer, however, is not unbiblical grace that would simply overlook repeated, intentional sin, but rather, true grace that actually gives supernatural power to be free from sin!

It’s from this place that I understand that I cannot continue in intentional sin and hope to live forever with Jesus. I will have many opportunities to live in sin, to intentionally gossip, lust, hate, to refuse to forgive, to lose my love. I, John Burton, must die daily, must take up my cross and must allow God to continually reveal the issues of my heart so I can turn, change and fall deeper and deeper in love with Jesus. If I don’t, I can presume that my name will be blotted out of the book of life.

Rev 3:5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

It’s simple. Pressure to turn from Jesus is only going to increase as the end draws near, and it will be so severe that many will turn from Jesus to avoid persecution and death. Imagine living during the Tribulation without the ability to buy, sell or trade. If we don’t take the mark we will have no access to medical care, food, communication tools, or much of anything else. Imagine what that will be like when Christians will have to move out of their homes because their bank accounts are closed. They can’t rush an injured child to the emergency room. They will lose everything including all natural hopes for survival. Will the pressure be high to take the mark, to turn on Jesus? Absolutely—and it’s fairly easy to presume that most will bow to that pressure. Will I? From a place of comfort it’s easy to say I won’t. It’s from a place of wisdom, however, that I must more carefully analyze that sobering question. Yes, I will be at risk of bowing.

THE BREAKDOWN

With such a provocative statement it’s easy to make incorrect presumptions about what I really mean and what has driven me to that conclusion. I will address some of these here.

I’m confident that if I died TODAY that I’d be with Jesus forever.

I believe we absolutely can have a certain measure of confidence in our position in Christ. We are saved by the grace of God. The power of the blood of Christ is indescribable and I am fully dependent on the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. As I respond to his gift and live in repentance, from a place of loving surrender and intimacy with him I know he has me. He’s mine and I’m his. If I died today, I’m quite confident I’d be welcomed into glorious eternity.

What I am not sure of (as nobody can be) is what decisions I will make TOMORROW. My very strong free will will always provide me the opportunity to lose my love, to fall into sin and to become lukewarm.

Rev 3:15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

It must be said that tomorrow can come very quickly, and my reaction to the drawing of the Spirit of God today is critical. I know that I can slip into a state of presumption, convinced that all is well when actually I have compromised my position in Christ.

See how the passage in Revelation chapter three continues:

Rev 3:17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

If you jump back to the beginning of the chapter you’ll see this:

Rev 3:1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.

Am I, John Burton, somehow exempt from the fate that so many other current Christians will suffer due to their continued sin? Absolutely not. It would be quite arrogant to say that I, John Burton, don’t have to repent, can continue in sin, can fall asleep, can become lukewarm at some point in the future and will not suffer the consequences. There will be a great falling away, and I must stay alert to avoid becoming a part of that tragically massive group of people.

So, my life is focused on staying awake and strengthening what remains—and alerting others to do the same. The resulting passionate life for Jesus is well worth the internal introspection!

I don’t believe that one sin in the life of a Christian will automatically send you to Hell.

God loves us. He understands that we are in a process of sanctification and some failure is to be expected.

It’s our reaction to that failure that is so important. The Bible is a story of redemption and it should go without saying that we can fail and then embrace redemption, forgiveness and enjoy the hope of the prodigal.

However, if we choose to continue in sin, without repentance, without turning from darkness to Jesus, we absolutely are at risk of Hell. The Bible makes it so clear that it’s shocking that it’s even debated.

Heb 10:26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The answer? Live a life of wonderful, joyful repentance. Run into the arms of our Father at the point of failure. Repent. Turn. Fall in love with him again and enjoy a glorious forgiveness and a refreshed relationship with God.

I do believe we don’t ever have to sin again.

One of the reasons unbiblical grace is so popular is because so many Christians presume that we are all expected to sin every day. How tragic a theology that must be to live out!

We are no longer sinners. We are saints. True grace is so powerful that it enables us to live free from sin! If we sin every day, we have a sin problem and we should certainly be shocked into reality.

Of course, there’s a famous verse that’s pulled out in support of the idea that we are all continuing in sin:

John 8:7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

So, the argument is that we are all with sin. The problem with that argument? Jesus followed up the analysis of the situation with a command that could only be obeyed via the grace (power) of God:

John 8:10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Sin no more. Don’t sin again. Stop sinning. That was the message.

It was clear that Jesus expected this woman to live free from sin, and certainly from a life of daily sin!

Often when I state that we don’t have to ever sin again I receive a snarky comment in response: “So, how’s that working out for you, John?”

That reply exposes the condition of the person’s heart and reveals the point I’m trying to make. People feel hopeless against the power of sin and are attempting to use grace to cover it instead of eradicate it. This belief is tragic—and dangerous. It moves us quite close to a fearful judgment:

Heb 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

I don’t live my life in fear of Hell.

The most common presumption that people have about me when they hear me say that I am not convinced I’ll end up in Heaven is that I must be living in great fear. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

I am full of joy and am experiencing an abundant life in Jesus! Check this out:

1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

There is no fear in love. There are many who “got saved” to avoid torment in Hell. That is their motivation and their theology is keenly focused on the eradication of any threat of eternal torment. Though I have had an encounter with Hell, and I understand to a very small degree the horror associated with that place, I would never attempt to use God to avoid it. God isn’t one to be used for our own selfish pursuits. God is to be loved with immeasurable passion!

Let’s continue reading the passage in 1 John 4:

1 John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

It’s not a theology of eternal security that casts out fear, it’s love. And, this is where it gets a bit more serious. It’s possible to subscribe to a theology that ensures our salvation while also hating someone—and go to Hell.

So, my focus isn’t on avoiding Hell. I’m not living in torment. If I were, I’d know that love was not being perfected in my life and I would certainly have cause for concern. My barometer is the manifestation of love in my life. My daily goal and continual desire is to be with Jesus in a place of joyful, love driven encounter. I crave his presence. I yearn for a deeper intimacy with him. I am free, alive and thankful for what Jesus has done for me. I have no fear. But I am sober. I am alert.

I don’t believe it’s easy to lose your salvation.

For those who are truly saved, who have put their faith in Jesus and are following him, I believe it takes quite a set of circumstances to lose that salvation.

Remember, it’s intentional, continual sin that does not result in repentance the will eventually result in separation from Jesus. If we are actively wrestling with our flesh, dying daily, growing in sanctification and trusting in God’s justification, we are in a very good place!

However, if we refuse to repent and live a life of sin, no matter how insignificant that sin may seem to be, we should be very alarmed.

Again, the Bible is a book about redemption. We can look at the lives of many godly people who failed miserably yet are still considered giants of the faith. Their common thread? They turned back to God.

Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

Luke 17:3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,' forgive him.”

Rev 2:5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

2 Pet3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

I do understand the miraculous, glorious work of the cross.

One accusation that I’ve heard is that I am lacking in revelation of just how comprehensive and powerful and conclusive the work of the cross is in the lives of Christians.

I won’t pretend to have a perfect revelation, but this accusation couldn’t be further from the truth.

Check out the doxology in Jude:

Jude 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

God is great! He is able to keep us from stumbling—but only if we are in agreement with it. If we choose to stumble of our own volition, we absolutely will.

The power of the blood of Jesus is worthy study and we will be growing in understanding of it for all of eternity. We have truly been set free from the penalty of sin and sin itself! We can be free, joyful, prosperous, empowered and abounding in love every moment of our lives!

The issue isn’t a lack of revelation of God’s greatness, it’s an overestimate of mankind’s devotion. I know God loves me, but do I love him? Will I be at the foot of the glorious cross when the pressure is high or will I run? Will there be a better offer, like thirty pieces of silver in a financially trying time? These are the questions that I keep in front of me as I grow in love and revelation of the power of the cross of Jesus Christ.

I do believe we must stay awake, pray and watch.

The key reason I believe we must see the prayer movement escalate, and contend for every Christian to become invested in continual prayer is that the temptation to fall will be overwhelming as the end draws near.

Mat 26:40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

The command is to watch and pray so that we may not enter into temptation. Just what temptation was Jesus referring to? Notice who he was talking to. He was telling Peter to stay awake, to watch, to pray, because his flesh would certainly give in to the temptation that was coming very soon—the temptation to deny Christ.

He slept and he sinned.

Rev 3:1 “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.

Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die.This the warning for casual, sleepy Christians today.

I was watching a TV show called They Shouldn’t Be Alive. It’s a series of survival stories that depict various adventures that should have ended in death—but somehow did not.

This particular episode told the story of a man who was canoeing alone down a river through the Grand Canyon. His boat overturned and he lost it and all of his supplies. He was cold and wet and the temperatures were quickly plummeting under the night sky. He was able to build a fire and he warmed himself as he sat under a massive cliff. He had no way of escape and his only hope was to survive the night.

The Holy Spirit got my attention as the narrator said, “If he falls asleep, and the fire goes out, he dies.”

This is the story of today’s church.

It is shocking to me how many supposed Spirit-filled Christians are actually coming out against the prayer movement. They make statements like, “While you are hiding away behind the four walls of the church I’m out evangelizing the lost.” I would be the first to argue that winning souls is a primary mandate for the church—and it’s funny when people presume I would believe any other way. However, I don’t believe we’ll have anything to offer other than religion and false hope to desperate sinners if we aren’t bathed in a lifestyle of never ending prayer.

Mat 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

We are commanded to go behind closed doors and pray. This is where the term prayer closet originated.

Simply, if someone isn’t active in continual prayer they won’t be of much value in the work of the Kingdom. They will be at risk of sleep and spiritual death. They will attempt to move in the flesh when a discerning spirit is what is required.

Mat 26:50 Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.

Peter famously did what a sleeping, spiritually dull person would do—he reacted in the natural. He was aggressive and instant in action. He was protecting Jesus. Yet, he was wrong. This was the beginning of a great fall for Peter and it came due to many reasons, none greater than his prayerless, sleepy lifestyle.

Will I ever be tempted to stop watching, to fall asleep and to fall into temptation. Of course. And, as the end draws nearer the pressure to do so will only increase.

I don’t believe the state of our position in Christ is a mystery.

One of the questions I always have when someone struggles with this statement, that I give myself an 80% chance of making Heaven, is this: why not just live a life of joyful repentance?

We don’t have to worry and wonder whether we are in a good place with Jesus or not. If we sin, we repent. Period. It’s extremely simple.

We shouldn’t have to struggle with this at all. I don’t. If I sin, I repent. That being the case, why would I presume there is still a chance I can go to Hell? It’s also simple: there may come a day that I lose faith and refuse to repent—and continue in intentional rebellion to the point where my name is blotted out of the book of life.

Mat 24:9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

And, there it is. When unparalleled tribulation, trial, murders and mass hatred comes to the church (it already has in other nations in a significant measure) many in the church will be offended. Betrayal, hatred and lawlessness will come and then love will grow cold. Cold love is the key to eternal separation from God.

In the face of such a great assault, there will be some who endure—and those are the ones who will be saved. Will I be a part of that remnant group? I don’t know. God’s pulling for me. But, it’s fully up to me.


I want to encourage you to read my book The Terror of Hell. This is the awakening that caused me to take my salvation very seriously. I had an encounter with the forces of Hell, and God spoke very clearly to me afterwards: John, many current Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”

ORDER THE TERROR OF HELL IN PRINT OR EBOOK FORMAT HERE.

Intimacy with Jesus and the false-grace message

I agree with false-grace adherents on one key point—intimacy with Jesus is the goal.

As one who has an escalating concern over the false-grace (or what I prefer to call the unbiblical grace) message, you can imagine that I open myself up to all sorts of accusations.

I will take responsibility for failing to communicate my position comprehensively enough at times. This failure can result in knee-jerk analysis and critiques that often presume I hold to a particular position due to my silence on a related and connected point.

One such point that I want to clearly communicate here is that intimacy with Jesus is the goal. In fact, it’s not only the goal, but it’s also the primary focus of our journey.

When we are deeply intimate with Jesus our heart explodes with love and our passion for him becomes intense and immeasurable. Oh how I love to spend countless hours in the secret place enjoying God, praying in the Spirit and worshiping him with unbridled exuberance! If there’s anything that defines my life in God it’s intimacy!

If we are madly in love with him and are cultivating intimacy, the unrighteous invasions into our lives will be soundly rejected. We will guard our love connection with God jealously. This is where holiness dominates in a sin wrecked world.

So, where do unbiblical grace teachers and I part ways? In more than one place, but the key point is this:

If we don’t feel intimacy with Jesus, if we aren’t in a place of abandoned desire for him, we must beware. I think we would all admit that it’s terrifyingly easy to fall into a life of lukewarm apathy. The result is a careless approach to sin that puts our salvation at risk, and this is where the departure between the camps begins.

Neither camp would ever argue that it’s okay to sin. Neither would casually deal with sin. But one camp teaches that indifference to sin and a continued pattern of unforgiveness, anger, lust or any number of other issues will result in one following Jesus in an unsaved condition. The other camp would teach that those sins don’t threaten eternity. This is why we must deal with this topic carefully. I believe millions of people are living daily with unforgiveness in their hearts or with lust and they are not repentant. These are the people who are at risk of an eternity separated from God.

For the sake of clarity, if we are living a repentant life, rejecting our sin and understanding that God deeply loves us and is ready to set us free, we are in a very good place! It’s not a single sin that will cost us our eternity, it’s a willful, deliberate, continual life of sin that will.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Hebrews 10:26-27 (NIV)

With this in mind, we’ll go back to square one—intimacy with Jesus.

THE COMMAND TO LOVE

Let’s talk about the call to love.  This is the call that God has for us to be intimate with him. Have you ever considered this mandate?  It’s very, very intriguing.  I can understand calling someone to serve, to give money, to feed the poor or to avoid sin.  That makes sense very easily.  However, a mandate to love?

Certainly the act of love in many ways is fully intentional and can often be void of feeling.  We act in love toward others.  This is also quite easy to understand.  But this idea goes well beyond a call to act out in right ways.  It’s a call to intimacy,  a mandate to be deeply intimate with our Lover.   

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 (NKJV)

In the original Hebrew, the word love is ahab. 

It means: to have affection for

Additionally it means to like as a friend.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I can be forced to like anybody, much less have deep affection for them.  But this is what Scripture is telling us.  Could it mean that the call isn’t for instant intimacy, but rather a determined and unwavering process of pursuit and faith toward the promise of experiencing an enjoyable God? 

As we, in faith, more easily believe that being with God in a continual and significant way will result in continual and significant enjoyment, we will allow the old things to pass away.  We will not stop until we discover the joy that only God can provide.

So, if we are to understand that God is mandating us to fall deeply in love with Him, there is a disciplined process that must commence.  The goal is deep and passionate intimacy with our Lover, the invisible God. 

It makes sense that when we discover this ultimate of pleasures, that we will not be as inclined to pursue the human desires that demanded so much of us in years past.  It’s been said more times and in more ways than we know, “Our sin causes separation from God.  We, in effect, trade intimacy with God for intimacy with the world.”

Certainly there is truth to that statement.  However, if we view the issue from the other side, we could say, “Intentional pursuit of intimacy with God carries with it the reward of perpetual discovery.  Deliberate surrender of human desire coupled with a craving for the manifest presence of God Himself in our lives will lead, sooner or later, to fulfillment that cannot be measured or effectively explained.  It’s that extreme.  It’s that good.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you … Matthew 5:43-44 (NKJV)

In the above passage, the Hebrew interpretation of the word “love” is different than ahab.  It is agapaō, which emphasizes the attitude of love.  It’s the moral and socially appropriate act of service and attention to others, including both mankind and God Himself.

Throughout Scripture we do see various translations of that single word “love”, and God is the central figure regardless of the interpretation.  However, it’s that unique call to ahab love that has captured my attention.  It’s a mandate to intimacy.

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved, That you tell him I am lovesick! Song of Songs 5:8 (NKJV)

Lovesick!  What a word that is.  As you might guess, the Hebrew translation is ahab.  In the Song of Songs we see this amazing story of love unfold beautifully.  In the following verses the word “love” is translated ahab each time.  As we gain insight into the intimate longing of our God for us, our hearts melt and our understanding changes.

“I will rise now,” I said, “And go about the city; In the streets and in the squares I will seek the one I love.” I sought him, but I did not find him. The watchmen who go about the city found me; I said, “Have you seen the one I love?” Song of Songs 3:2-3 (NKJV)

[The Shulamite to the Daughters of Jerusalem] He brought me to the banqueting house, And his banner over me was love. Sustain me with cakes of raisins, Refresh me with apples, For I am lovesick. His left hand is under my head, And his right hand embraces me. I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or by the does of the field, Do not stir up nor awaken love Until it pleases. Song of Songs 2:4-7 (NKJV)

He made its pillars of silver, Its support of gold, Its seat of purple, Its interior paved with love By the daughters of Jerusalem. Song of Songs 3:10 (NKJV)

How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights! Song of Songs 7:6 (NKJV)

[The Shulamite to Her Beloved] Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised. Song of Songs 8:6-7 (NKJV)

Read the last passage, Song of Songs 8:6-7, over and over.  Its communication of passionate desire is intense.  As we establish a vow with our Lover, the intentional and disciplined pursuit of intimacy with Him is alluring and strong.  It is a vehement flame that even water, the fierce enemy of fire, cannot drown.  It’s this that we are pursuing, the fire of passion that will overcome the waters of human desire.

In the following Song of Songs passage, we discover a different translation of love.

Draw me away!
[The Daughters of Jerusalem] We will run after you.
[The Shulamite] The king has brought me into his chambers.

[The Daughters of Jerusalem] We will be glad and rejoice in you. We will remember your love more than wine.

[The Shulamite] Rightly do they love you.

Song of Songs 1:4 (NKJV)

The Hebrew word used for “love” in the part of the passage that says, “We will remember your love more than wine” is dôd.  The literal meaning is to boil.  The idea is that God’s love is actively boiling.  It’s hot and constant and intentionally set on us.

The enemy of human desire is a very strong one.  A simple resolution to avoid sin and do good is far too weak to be seriously considered for inclusion in our arsenal.  The burning fire of passion for God, ahab love, is our most effective weapon.  The reward of the perpetual discovery of new depths of God’s zeal for us is enough to keep us burning with a vehement flame that the waters of carnal human desire cannot put out.

Video: Do Christians sin every day? Are works necessary for salvation? Watch…

Watch the video: Is obedience necessary for salvation? Do Christians sin every day? If faith alone enough to be saved? Can we lose our salvation?

Watch as I discuss possibly the most important theological topic of our generation—obedience, sin, works, faith and how they relate to salvation.

I reference two articles that will give you loads of scriptural support for the positions I take in the video:

You will want to check them out as you watch.

It’s shocking to me how sharply resistant Christians can be when the doctrine of salvation is discussed. Many have been lulled into a state of false-comfort through incredibly dangerous and fast spreading theologies—and anything that would threaten their confidence is reacted to fiercely. A pastor once told me that the most violent reaction from Christians against him comes when he deals with false-grace.

Titus 2:11-15 (ESV) 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. 15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

imageMy life message is to awaken the comfortable, sleeping church and declare the true, empowering grace of God.

It’s not a message that I chose. In the natural that would be insanity as my fervent attention to it has brought trouble and grief not only to me but to my family. We’ve lost friends and awakened enemies we didn’t know we had.

Here’s an email from our great friend Julia Palermo:

Hi John! I wanted to let you know that the Lord has really put you, Detroit Revival Church and the city of Detroit on my heart the past few weeks. I’ve been following your posts and just carrying you all in my heart. I feel like you are very much in need of extra prayer coverage as you are stepping out very boldly in some areas of proclamation of the truth. Just wanted you to know that I am going to be praying for you and for the church. Would love to talk some time and hear what the Lord is doing. Though I think this bold stand may cost you in some sense, I truly feel that for the remnant who receives these messages and signs up to pursue Him in holiness, He is going to come with His fire and His presence. I believe you are going to experience some times of such a weight of his holiness and nearness in the room that people will only be able to weep on the floor and won’t move for hours. You have not seen before what He is about to do in you and in the church. Be encouraged! He is with you! Julia

Thankfully, it’s a message that has resulted in continual messages from people sharing how their life has been powerfully impacted by it.

Shortly after hearing a teaching that (God forgives all sin, past, present and future) I was ignorantly relieved of the struggles I was having with particular sins and then went soo far away from truth, deep into more self justified sin, self deception, coldness, distance from God, family, etc. …. Now I’ve been hearing teaching from John Burton and others against sin and this false doctrine (false-grace teaching) and now for the first time since I became a Christian almost 10 years ago, I have been free from the power of habitual sin and no longer live a life of torment … All Glory to GOD!!! God needs more TRUTH Ministers.~Nick

It’s a message that, by design, urgently and aggressively provokes those who are personally comfortable yet eternally vulnerable.

Unsaved Christians—Thoughts on Sin, Hell and Following Jesus in an Unsaved Condition

Unsaved Christians—do we understand the threat of sin in the life of Christians?

There is a glorious salvation to be had, and the enemy has tainted powerful, life-giving theologies in an attempt to counterfeit them—and draw people away from the one true God. God’s passion is for people to be wildly in love with him, and that is what the enemy is afraid of. Instead of radical intimacy and passionate obedience, people are falling for a lesser false-doctrine that communicates God’s apparent affirmation of them and affection for them—and it is resulting in a faux closeness to him for millions of “Christians.”

Our salvation is glorious and it is also weighty. We can’t presume upon it or take it lightly. I suggest it’s possible that most people who are convinced of their position in Christ would actually be in Hell if they died today. I will share some convincing and powerful stories that speak directly to further down in the article. People like Corrie Ten Boom, John Mulinde and Daniel Ekechukwu have a perspective that few others do.

The concept of unsaved Christians seems contradictory. I understand that. A Christian is a follower of Jesus. I am suggesting that there are many followers of Jesus, many who name the name of Christ, who are living their lives following him in an unsaved condition.

“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. 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. 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. 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. 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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:1-6

But, are we not free from condemnation if we are in Christ Jesus? Yes. But, let’s look at that verse:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

imageA massive and increasing number of Christians have been lulled into a slumber regarding the reality of salvation. They have a reputation of being alive, but are dead because of their sin. The common presumption is now that if we pray, read our Bible, go to church and identify ourselves as Christians than we are automatically exempt from condemnation. The problem? Too many have misunderstood just what it means to be in Christ Jesus. Tragically it’s true that countless professing Christians are actually living in a place of condemnation because they aren’t truly in Christ Jesus. We can’t just call ourselves Christians and presume that we are truly in Christ.

For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:6-8

For the last 24 years my life and ministry have been marked by a troubled spirit and an unrelenting passion for extreme surrender, zealous prayer and an unapologetic call for passion, repentance and holiness. I understand just how separated, intense and broken we must be to truly be counted among the saved—or, I at least have an understanding of the type of deception that is causing people to remain careless in their walk with Jesus. To be a true follower of Jesus requires more than today’s theologies are communicating, and that does indeed both anger and wreck me. This is why I just cannot lead a church or ministry without an intense, burning edge to them. Anything short of radical just can’t be promoted anymore!

Why is my spirit troubled? Because I am convinced both by Scripture and by a horrifying encounter I had with the terror of Hell over two decades ago that a shocking percentage of professing Christians are on their way to Hell. We must exhort one another into radical faith.

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:12-13

The risk of falling away is very real, and very terrifying:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. Hebrews 6:4-6

In my encounter, I was dragged toward Hell as a praying, worshiping, professing Christian—and I almost went mad. The terror is beyond anything I could ever describe and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. When people tell others to go to Hell, they have no idea what they are saying.

When I came out of the encounter I received the most troubling message that God has ever given me: Many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day. My life long mandate is to shout this truth and awaken the sleepers.

These are people who believe they are in Christ Jesus—but are not—and who are heading to a judgment day that will stun them. This is why continual warnings and messages of awakening must pierce our church culture. This is why anything less than a white hot, high bar atmosphere of fervent prayer, repentance and brokenness must be rejected in our churches. It’s time for Ichabod churches to be made known so it become clear who the martyr-minded true Believers are. Those who are willing to take up their cross make up the true church.

Today the world is watching millions of people following Jesus with no cross on their backs, and this is the heretical deception that must be exposed. God will, in time, reveal the wheat and the tares.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25

CHRISTIANS LIVING IN MINOR SIN GO TO HELL?

 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 1 Peter 4:18

With the emerging of the false-grace, or what I prefer to call unbiblical grace, teachings, the thought of worshiping, tithing, praying, Bible reading Christians who have great families and seem to be the model of righteousness going to Hell seems ridiculous.

I believe this is one of the most important passages of Scripture in today’s false-grace generation:

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. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 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? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:26-31

This means that tongue talking, hand lifting pastors, for example, can go to Hell if they struggle with lust. People that refuse to forgive another are at risk of Hell. If we continue in sin the Bible is clear—there remains no sacrifice for those sins. There are supposed minor sins such as gossip, lust, rebellion to authority, lying and others that seem to fly below our radar—but not God’s. We can’t continue in so called minor sins and presume all to be well. We will experience judgment in this life and in the next if we do not repent. This brings the sweet little lady who’s known as the church gossip into the light—and a terrifying light it is.

Have you ever met someone who has lived with unforgiveness in their heart? What about someone who is into pornography? It’s horrifying to think this, but those very people, even if they are amazing in every other way, are very possibly unsaved right now. Barna recently reported that 97% of BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN men are into pornography! 84% of Christian women are viewing pornography.

Is it any wonder Leonard Ravenhill famously said that he doubts that 5% of professing born again Christians in America are truly saved?

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation… Hebrews 2:1-3

CORRIE TEN BOOM

Consider Corrie Ten Boom. You may have read her story in the book The Hiding Place. She was a general in the faith as she and her family hid Jews during the Holocaust. Eventually they were discovered and were put into a concentration camp. She ministered Jesus in inhuman conditions. She was faithful in a time where all faith was lost. Ultimately, after torture at the hands of one particular guard and countless horrors, her entire family was killed. The war ended and Corrie was released.

Shortly after Corrie was walking down the road when a man approached her. He said, “Excuse me, you were in the camp, weren’t you?” Corrie affirmed that she was. He continued, “After the war I gave my life to Jesus. I prayed that he would allow me to find one person that I hurt so badly in the concentration camp.” It was the guard—the one who brutally tortured and killed her family. He said, “I told God that I wanted to seek their forgiveness. Would you please forgive me?”

Corrie, in her own words, shared her reaction. She said that she simply could not forgive him. As that thought consumed her soul, God spoke to her. He said, “Corrie, if you don’t forgive him, I won’t forgive you.” She knew, as a general in the faith, if she refused to forgive that man than she herself would die in her sins. Hell was her future. She then looked at the man who brought so much horror to her and took his hand and said, “I do forgive you.”

She said the love of God shot through her hand into the former guard’s.

Tragically, so many Christians today presume they are exempt from such truths in Scripture.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14-15

THIS IS A MUST WATCH VIDEO. IT WILL ROCK YOU TO TEARS:

DANIEL EKECHUKWU

Daniel Ekechukwu is a Nigerian pastor who died tragically in a car accident. He was told that he would go to Hell if he wasn’t raised up—because he refused to forgive his wife regarding an issue. Here’s a short transcript:

“Daniel, if the book of your life was to be closed today, this would be your portion.”

“No, I’m a pastor; I’m a child of God. I’m born-again — and I’ve preached all over….”

“Enough, Daniel, on your way to the first hospital, you were asking God to forgive you, but you would not forgive your wife. And your sins have not been forgiven. It is a matter of reaping what you’ve sown. You cannot sow unforgiveness to your wife and reap forgiveness from God.”

 

JOHN MELINDE

Check out this lengthy but wildly troubling story of an encounter by John Mulinde, a leader with a world ministry on every continent except Antartica. God told him, “If I had come today to take My Bride, you wouldn’t be part of that. I wouldn’t take you.” :

Then suddenly a bright light hit my eyes. My eyes were closed. I was on my knees with my head on the ground, but a bright light hit me. I lifted up my eyes and said, “What is this?” I opened my eyes and I couldn’t look in the light. Even when I closed them, it pierced into my eyes. I bowed my head again, and I was trembling and thinking, “What on earth is going on?” Then I heard a voice, deep and calm. He called my name three times. I couldn’t answer. There was no strength in me to answer, but inwardly I was saying, “I’m here.” He called me—“John”—three times.

Then He said to me, “I knew you before the creation of the world, and I chose you and set you apart to serve Me as a witness in these last days. I want to say to you, if I had come today to take My Bride, you wouldn’t be part of that. I wouldn’t take you.” I can’t describe the shock that came upon me. I think I was in shock. I didn’t even respond. It hit me. He repeated it. He said, “I wouldn’t take you. For it is written, ‘He will appear to those who wait upon Him’ (Isa. 49:23, paraphrased). You’re not living your life as a person waiting upon Me. You’re allowing all kinds of filth to come into your life. You’re living like one who cares not.” As I said, I couldn’t speak with my lips.

At that moment I was thinking, “This can’t be happening to me. I gave up my job to serve the Lord; I gave up my house that my father had given me because I wanted to go to the mission field. I gave up this, I gave up that; this can’t be God saying to me that He wouldn’t take me.” None of my theology and teachings could accept that. He spoke to me these words written in the book of 1 Corinthians 6. He quoted them; I found them later. I couldn’t even remember that they were in the Scriptures, but later on I found them in the Scriptures. It says: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:10). “THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS, AND DESPERATELY WICKED”

He went on to say to me, “Your life is so full of filth. You walk with an outward appearance, and you cover many things in your heart. You forget that I am the Lord who examines the heart. You are not ready to meet Me.” He began to say to me, “If your life is full of this and this and this and this, then are you ready for My appearance?” As He measured the various things, I could say, “OK, Lord, have mercy.” But then He mentioned one thing that my heart rejected. In my own understanding, I had never turned into that. He said, “If your life is full of fornication . . . ” And everything in me said, “Oh, no. That cannot be.” I said it in my heart, and the voice stopped. For a moment there was silence. Then He said to me, “There is no crooked word that comes out of My mouth. Do you call Me a liar? But because you don’t even know your own heart, I will show it to you. Remember this day when you were in this place at this hour?”

Brothers and sisters, I didn’t even remember. I practically saw myself back in that very moment—not as a memory, but as a reality. I was back in that moment. I saw myself sitting in the taxi waiting for the taxi car to be filled. Then I was looking out at some lady with all kinds of filthy imaginations. The moment it came back, I thought, “Oh, God, I have sinned against You.” He said, “No, you haven’t sinned. You live in sin. You live in that. You live from morning to evening in such imaginations. Even in your bed at night you indulge in the same. I know every moment of your private life. I know your thoughts. You don’t even fear, even sitting in church. Someone steps up on the platform to serve Me and you strip them naked in your imagination. You imagine all kinds of things. I am the Lord who examines the heart. Have you not read that he who even looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her (Mt. 5:28)?” Pictures began to pass before me of how my imagination works.

This isn’t something of which I could say, “Lord, I fell in sin. Lord, I was weak.” It was my way of life. It was my constant way of life. I was comfortable in it. I was comfortable that no one else could see it, but God was saying, “I see it. I am the Lord who examines the heart.” I was so ashamed, but then He said, “That’s not the worst of all. You still live in this.” He began to mention things that appear humanly small: the envy, the manipulation and undercutting of one another so that you remain appearing the best, so that you appear to do the best, to preach the best, to work more miracles, to be more anointed; all the manipulation and self-promotions, all the grudges we hold in our hearts when we see someone else being promoted or recognized before us.

The way the Lord brought it up, it was so filthy. I cried and cried, and at some point I was so intent on my grief. Then He raised His voice and said, “Keep quiet and listen.” “I NEVER KNEW YOU; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS!” I kept quiet, and He went on and on and on, unveiling more and more things. Even the things which appear so small, at that moment appeared so rotten. I felt like I was standing before the judgment seat with everything being thrown out. I wanted to say, “Stop, stop, I accept it all,” but He wasn’t stopping. At some point I was just saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He said, “Keep quiet.” I wasn’t speaking loudly; I was speaking in my heart. He said, “Keep quiet and listen.”

As He continued I thought, “I must have been deceived. All along I thought I was serving God and yet I’m so filthy inside. I must have been deceived. The Devil must have taken my life captive a long time ago.” At that moment I thought of the miracles we were witnessing. I thought of the healings. I thought of all those wonderful things, and suddenly my heart sunk. I thought, “The Devil has so deceived me that he could even use me to produce counterfeit miracles; to produce things I thought God was working—and yet it was the Devil all along . . . ”

The voice kept quiet for a moment, and then He said to me, “Why are you imagining such thoughts? I don’t do miracles because you’re worthy. I do miracles because I love My people before whom you stand to preach. Have you never read of how they will come to Me on that day and say, ‘Lord, Lord, in Your name we worked miracles, cast out demons, and prophesied’? Then I will say to them, ‘Get out of My sight, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you’” (Mt. 7:21–23, paraphrased). He said, “Don’t depend on the miracles to assess your worthiness. Your worthiness isn’t in the signs and wonders you witness in ministry. I do miracles because I love the people, and My name shall never be left without witness on earth.” He said, “Have you not ever read that without holiness, no one will see God (Heb. 12:14)? It’s not the miracles; it’s the holiness that comes from God.” He spoke to me the scripture in the book of Hebrews.

Here’s the full length sermon he delivered at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City—possibly one of the most powerful sermons ever:

Do we need to confess our sins as Believers? Should we be sin conscious?

Yes and yes.

False-grace teachers would say that it’s not necessary to confess sins because there is no sin in us. God’s grace has eradicated it.

Folks, let me be very, very clear: that is a heretical teaching that absolutely puts people at risk of Hell.

1 John 1:8-9 (ESV) 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Life Application Bible notes:

Being God’s people does not mean denying sin (1:8), but confessing it. Because all people are sinners, Jesus had to die. Because sin is not completely eradicated from the lives of those who believe in Jesus, God graciously gave his followers provision for the problem of sin.

It’s not only critical, but it’s wonderful to live in a state of continual repentance! God’s love for us is so amazing, that running away from sin and to him is awe inspiring!

As we daily allow God to search our hearts and reveal issues that are barriers to his love fully impacting us, the freedom and resulting life is amazing!

I often hear people say that Christians shouldn’t be sin conscious. Not only is that not biblical, it does us a disservice. Ignoring sin doesn’t disarm it, it empowers it! Allow God to reveal the darkness and set us free!

2 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV) 1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

We must remain diligent regarding sin. As we grow in grace and knowledge we will have the strength to remain stable.

2 Peter 3:14 (ESV) 14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

2 Peter 3:17-18 (ESV) 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

FIVE MARKS OF THE FALSE GRACE MESSAGE: A THEOLOGY OF EXEMPTION

I discuss this point in an article titled Five Marks of the False Grace Message:

Point One:

We believe in a theology of exemption.

A theology of exemption states that since we are saved, we are exempt from the penalties of sin. That there are parts of the Bible that no longer apply to us. Yes, it’s a heresy. False-grace removes bible-based responsibilities to respond to God in holiness.

The number of people who subconsciously or unwittingly embrace a theology of exemption is far greater than those who explicitly pronounce their agreement with this doctrine. Many subscribe to false-grace doctrines without realizing their deception.

Many have been lulled into a false sense of security while actually existing in an unsaved state. They are confident they’d enter Heaven if they died, yet the reality is that they would not. They have come to believe they are exempt from certain parts of the Word of God that requires response.

1 Peter 1:15-17 (ESV) 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,

Be holy. God judges according to one’s deeds. Those who hold to a theology of exemption don’t believe they are subject to what this verse is communicating. The command to be holy is to them a great goal, but not a mandate. A principle not a command.

Our name can actually be removed from the book of life—and that is determined by our obedience, our holiness. Sin can still separate a follower of Christ from him. The Rich Young Ruler saw that this was the case. He wanted to follow Jesus, but could not. He was not exempt from judgment even though he wanted to follow Jesus.

The argument of grace is actually quite revealing. People in the false-grace movement would say, “It’s not possible to be holy, or to avoid sin, so thank God for his grace that covers those sins. In fact we are automatically holy… innocent by association!”

Grace isn’t meant to cover up sin, grace is power! Those who walk in true grace would never say that we, as Christians, are predisposed to sin! True grace enables us to do the impossible! False-grace confesses that we cannot. Because of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus, we now have something they didn’t have in the Old Covenant—we have the power to obey! We can do this!

In fact, not only aren’t we exempt from obedience in the New Covenant, the call to obedience is even more humanly impossible than in the Old!

Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

We as Christians are not exempt from judgment or from the repercussions of sin. If we are in Christ, there is no condemnation, but if we are deceived by false theology into thinking we are in Christ, while actually living in disobedience, we are in trouble. We are not in Christ and there is condemnation. No salvation. The wrath of God remains on us. False-grace doctrine is eternally deadly. There are many people following Jesus today in an unsaved condition.

John 3:35-36 (ESV) 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

John 3:18-19 (KJV) 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Deeds. Fruit. Works. They are evidences of our position in Christ.

Yes, it’s hard to get saved, hard to stay saved, but if we walk in humility and grace and in the Spirit, eternity with Jesus is our inheritance!

WHAT ABOUT GRACE?

I believe one of the most vile teachings the unbiblical grace message communicates is that we as Christians are hopeless—that we cannot find freedom from sin. It is presumed that we will continue in sin but we are exempt from judgment. What a fallacy that is! It is an offense to the cross to declare through our teachings that the sacrifice of our precious Lord is insufficient to keep us from sin.

True grace enables us to turn from temptation. Grace is power and we need a revelation of this power in the church like never before!

When we turn to God in repentance after falling, it’s the mercy of God that keeps judgment from us. If we are truly in Christ, repentant and walking in obedience, God will always be there to help us through every addiction, habit, fear, inappropriate thought and attitude of the heart. His grace empowers us to win! The cross is that powerful!

I often hear Christians say, “Well, we sin every day…” What? If we sin every day we have a serious sin problem. This is a very dangerous place to be. If we continue in sin, there remains no sacrifice for that sin! We need the true grace of God to enable us to walk free from sin, not free in sin!

We must shout this message and pray for a reformation in the understanding of salvation. Christian Universalism is moving at great speed. A local well known minister has recently declared their church to be gay friendly, that the Bible in it’s current form is not the accurate Word of God and that they believe that all will ultimately be saved. My God! This is a manifestation of a theological thread that is weaving into the fabric of mainstream Christianity.

This is exceedingly dangerous. Will you help sound the alarm? We must slow the flow to Hell and our mission begins in the church.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 1 Peter 4:17-18

Salvation is not easy to receive or continue in, contrary to popular teachings—but for those who are truly saved, we have a glorious eternity with the lover of our souls ahead of us!

I wrestle with the severity of salvation daily, and while I do fail at times, I do not have a pattern of sin in my life—not because of my ability, but because of God’s. This must be the testimony of all, and from that place we can live in never-ending joy, freedom and abundant life!

Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” And Peter said, “See, we have left our homes and followed you.” And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” Luke 18:26-30

New! Live nightly video broadcasts on revival, prayer and more!

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Last night I started forty nights of video broadcasts, and I will continue TONIGHT at 11pm Eastern.

You can watch last night’s video, False-Grace: What Does God Look Like?” HERE.

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A Free Book: An encounter 23 years ago that keeps me wrecked every day of my life

The Terror of Hell: I prayed for fifteen years after this encounter that God wouldn’t give me any more.

(2nd last version of) The-Terror-of-Hell-Box-Shot-2011I never saw it coming.

What happened to me that fateful night 23 years ago is the reason I am unrelenting in bringing attention to anything that puts the people God so desperately loves in harm’s way.

Nearly a quarter of a century has passed, and I still shudder in brokenness and desperation every time I think about the encounter.

THEIR FREEDOM IS MY MISSION

Just a couple of years ago, twenty years after the encounter, I had a vision of multiplied thousands of people, mostly professing Christians, stretching in front of me, to my right and to my left as far as the horizons. As I looked at the sea of precious people, God spoke clearly to me: Their freedom is your mission.

I was overwhelmed with the weight of the mandate, and terribly distraught at its scope. So many people were in peril, and I couldn’t imagine even one of them not being rescued.

God was reawakening me to my mission that was given two decades prior—to shake the church and sounds alarms to a casual, sleeping people.

Every day I am in prayer, seeking the most impactful means possible to fulfill this mandate. Every day that passes without meaningful advance, without the message of awakening spreading to an unsuspecting church, is a day that grieves my spirit. There are millions of people who are unaware of their true condition, and who God is zealously pursuing. He is using prophetic messengers to help in that pursuit.

A. W. Tozer, a close friend of Leonard Ravenhill, had the following to say about him: “Those who know Leonard Ravenhill will recognize in him the religious specialist, the man sent from God not to carry on the conventional work of the church, but to beard the priests of Baal on their own mountain-top, to shame the careless priest at the altar, to face the false prophet and to warn the people who are being led astray by him.”

As I’ve said many times before, I am convinced that the greatest threat to today’s church is the false-grace movement. So many presume that movement to be simply another expression within the body of Christ. I am convinced that, to the contrary, that movement is actually resulting in massive amounts of false or compromised conversions.

I believe the hyper-grace message could be the end-time deception that will cause millions of people to fall away from God. ~Sid Roth

This is why it’s so critical that we are deeply devoted to the Word of God. The Bible is our final authority, and we need to, now more than ever, stay true to what it teaches. We must relay biblical truths to the masses!

The answer to false-grace is so simple that I wonder why so many are resistant. Simply, be intimate with Jesus, let him search your heart, and when he finds sin, immediately repent. That’s it! It’s so easy!

THE MISSION

I am going to include free of charge, in its entirety, the story of my encounter as told in my book The Terror of Hell.

First, I’ll reveal to you the end of the story—God revealed very clearly to me, “Many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”

At that moment I had my life mission. Every day I am burdened with the reality that the blood of millions will be on my hands if I shrink back and refuse to sound the alarms. I can’t allow a day to pass without somehow doing what I can, with all of my weaknesses and limits, to shine a light on this tragic reality. People have to be rescued from a path that is leading them to Hell.

The cost of delivering such a message to a sleeping or comfortable church has been significant—but absolutely worth it. It’s a hard message to relay as it’s intended for those who are convinced of their security. It’s an offensive message because it introduces a radical redefinition to people’s concept of God.

For me, I willingly embrace such challenging, provoking, troubling messages. I crave to hear truth no matter how irritating it is to me.

This is why I have said that I give myself about an 80% chance of making Heaven. If I were to die today, I’m about 99.9% sure I’d be there. However, it would take arrogance to presume I’m exempt from the great falling away, that I, unlike millions of others, have no risk of ever turning my back on Jesus. I am sober.

However, I’m not fearful or depressed regarding this. I’m full of joy! Why? Because I’m not focused on avoiding Hell! I’m focused on intimacy with Jesus—and I have that! That intimacy results in joy, peace and the ability to wrestle with the realities of my heart.

Understand one thing prior to reading about my encounter in the next section: If you fear Hell more than you are grieved at not being intimate with Jesus, you are not in a safe place. The first giant step to take is one right into the arms of a loving God. Pursue him with passion.

THE TERROR OF HELL

    How could I be going to Hell? What I was experiencing messed with my theology to a radically uncomfortable degree. The Holy Spirit was making sure I would never be the same again. Mission accomplished.

    I count the early 1990’s as the most significant season of my life to date. God had invaded my life. (Do you feel the weight of that reality? The burning, raging Creator thrust himself into this mere mortal!)

    The Holy Spirit took me beyond a mere understanding of my need for a savior and a simple acceptance of Jesus as that savior to a place of breath-taking experience in his extreme, fearful and surprisingly vivid invisible realm. The sudden all-consuming desire of my heart was to be intimately joined with the Lover of my soul every moment of my life. I was craving and experiencing a legitimate, reportable and constant weighty manifestation of the presence of God in my life. I was burning! The desire and the cry of my heart was, “More!”

    In those early years, as I was diving into the increasingly deeper realms of life in God, many things happened that I’ll never forget–but one event shook me like no other before or since. 

I had a Dream

   
    The night I had this uninvited invasion of both God and Hell into my sleep, I was living in an old, vacant church building as the care taker. The dramatic scene was what you would imagine–the church was a relatively ancient stone structure. I would regularly encounter God as I walked through the now empty corridors, hidden rooms, sanctuary and other mysterious places throughout that relic. The countless hours praying in this vacant building resulted in forming me as a young burning man in some very memorable ways. 

    One destined evening I prepared for bed as I did every other night. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I prayed myself to sleep in the weighty and wonderful presence of the Holy Spirit as I had done so many times before.
    What was about to happen as I slipped into sleep that fateful night would result in a tremble that is with me to this day–twenty years later as I am revising this book. I was invited into an other-worldly encounter that I had no freedom to turn down.

    Because of the unimaginable panic and terror I experienced that night, I would often pray as I went to sleep, “God, please don’t give me any dreams tonight.” I prayed that way for thirteen years.

    Thirteen years! God eventually spoke clearly to me, after thirteen years of receiving many visions, but no dreams of God, “John, I need you to stop praying that prayer. I have things to reveal to you. I need to talk to you. I have dreams for you to dream.” I relented and have since craved dreams, angelic visitations and other forms of communication from the heavenly realm.

    During this night of terror I fell asleep in the old, empty church building and found myself dreaming.

    In my dream I was laying on my stomach in a one room building. It was very comfortable inside, though there was nothing in the room. It was empty. I rested on the carpet and looked out of the two windows, one in front of me and one to my right. The overwhelming feeling that I had was one of comfort and relaxation. I had no concerns and no thoughts beyond enjoying the atmosphere I was in. This feeling is what drove my entire experience. Obviously nothing could be wrong if I was feeling so good, right?

    Through the windows I could see a peaceful, lazy and bright sunny day unfolding. It was beautiful! The trees were blowing in a gentle breeze. The birds were chirping and flying from tree to tree. What a brilliant Creator we have! Everything was so refreshing and alive! I couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon.

    Then, suddenly, I experienced a changing of the scene. Like time lapse photography, as I was in the same position on the floor looking out the window, I watched the atmosphere suddenly change. There was an immediate and progressive shift. The clouds were ever so slightly darkening and increasing in coverage in the sky. The gentle breeze picked up velocity and the brilliant brightness started to go in and out as periodic shadows covered the area while the sun hid beyond the advancing clouds. It seemed as if some rain may be moving in. I rested there, stretched out on my belly with my head in my hands as I watched it unfold. I remained immersed in my own comfort. I was taking deep breaths and enjoying every moment of my day.

    Time lapsed again and I saw the sky completely covered in clouds–clouds much darker than just a few moments ago. I could now smell the fresh and unmistakable scent of the coming rain.

Matthew 24:36-39 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. or as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

    The birds were taking cover as the wind picked up significantly. In the distance I saw several lightning strikes. It sure seemed as if this could be quite a storm. How was it that I was feeling no concern, no urgency to prepare as I enjoyed my personal, careless experience in that small, one room shack? I stretched out and relaxed even more. The greater the threat, the greater the “peace.” What a wonderful day I was having.

    Again, for the third time, I watched the scene in front of me change suddenly. Now, it was fully obvious the storm would most definitely hit–and soon. The wind was intense and large, ominous drops of rain started to hit the windows. Violent and arrogant lightning that seemed to have a personality all its own struck less than 300 yards away. The thumps of hail hitting the roof started and quickly increased in force. It was time for concern. The threat of danger was increasing by the second, but I didn’t feel any urgency or need to respond. I remained prostrate on the ground, refreshed and at ease, just as I did when it was a beautiful sunny day. I was enjoying the perceived safety of my environment. I was feeling so good.

    Once again, time lapsed and I found myself in the center of a churning, dreadful force that seemed powerful enough to split the Earth in two. The storm of the century was upon me. The massive trees were nearly snapping in two as they bent over parallel to the ground. The hail was massive in size and was slamming every surface around me. The windows were buckling in and out as the incredible pressure of the storm weighed on them. The lightning that burned hotter than the surface of the sun was literally striking mere feet from the shack. The walls were shaking. You can imagine what I was experiencing in that terrible and fearful moment. You guessed it: beautiful peace, safety and comfort. It truly was a wonderful day, until…

    In a fraction of a moment my overwhelming sense of peace and safety and relaxation turned to the most gripping terror I had ever known. It was as if every source of life and good had been eliminated from the atmosphere. Evil dominated the place that just moments ago was so enjoyable.

    My mind raced in an attempt to figure out what had just happened. The fear I was experiencing was beyond description. It made no sense. What was going on? Everything was so perfect! Today was supposed to be about enjoying life!

    Suddenly, as I was confused, horrified and trembling on the floor, two hands grabbed my ankles. My terror instantly escalated to levels I cannot describe. I quickly looked back and saw nothing–but I knew a demonic entity had grabbed on to me.

    The grip on my ankles was like a vice. The thought of escaping was a ridiculous one. It was impossible. My life, which seemingly just moments ago had been under my own control, was now overpowered by an invisible yet horrifying force. A force that I knew had intents–and the ability–to destroy me.

    Again, the terror immediately increased nearly to the point of literally losing control of my mind as that demon started to pull me backwards–and then down. My feet and legs were disappearing below the floor of that shack. I knew I was going to Hell.

    How can this be? It’s impossible! I’m going to Hell? But, I’m saved. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. This is contrary to everything I have ever learned in church. Yet, the moment was real, and I was losing every ounce of hope. I was about to enter an eternity of continual torture. Never ending panic, madness and torment was upon me.

    The demon kept slowly pulling me downward, as if he was relishing every single moment. My feet were well below the floor and my waist was at ground level. Then, suddenly my hope increased. I thought to myself, “If I say the name of Jesus, the demon must flee!”

    So, in my new state of hope I was able to squeeze out, “In the name of J—–. In the name of J—–. Ahhhhh!”

    I couldn’t say it! The demon was controlling my very breath. I was suffocating every time that name was about to be said. I could have said any word in the dictionary–but that one. My hope instantly was lost and I started to cry out as I convulsed under the unbreakable control of that demon.

    He continued to pull me down, one grueling inch at a time. Finally, my neck and then my mouth were entering Hell as my body was taken below. At the height of my madness and terror, and as my eyes were about to descend beneath the floor, I woke up.

    I sat straight up, trembling in my bed in that old church building. I was sweating in such volume that my entire bed was saturated. The light switch by my bedroom door was no more than seven feet from my bed. Just two quick steps to the wall would have been all it took to lighten the room. But I was frozen. I sat there for at least three hours in the darkness in absolute terror.

What Just Happened?

   
    I finally fell back to sleep and awoke the next morning. I didn’t realize how radically my life had taken a turn the previous night. As I tried to gather my thoughts while the events of the previous night overwhelmed my spirit and my mind, I looked outside the two windows that were there in my bedroom in that old church building. It was a beautiful sunny day–but I did not feel comfortable or relaxed. I was shaken.

    I begged God to tell me why I had that dream. What had just happened? Finally, later on that day, He spoke to me, “John, you represented the church. You were comfortable in your place of supposed safety. The storm was intensifying yet you were lulled into a state of apathy. Many in the church will be surprised one day, just as you were surprised in the dream, to find themselves under the control of demons as they are taken to Hell.”

    Proverbs 14:11-14 The house of the wicked will be overthrown, But the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, And the end of mirth may be grief. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied from above.

    There is a way that seems right. Intellectually it makes sense. Other people seem to confirm that it is right. Common sense tells us that it is right. Even our theological dispositions confirm it is right. But, it leads to death. And, if it’s the type of death I experienced in my dream–it must be avoided at all costs. 

    A backslider is focused on his own condition, on his own comfort zone while a good man is in tune with the heart of God. His pleasure comes from intimacy with Father God. His pleasure comes from going where God is going, doing what he is doing and feeling what he is feeling. There is no sense of ease in the storm, but there is satisfaction and joy in the presence of God and by being in active agreement with him.
    This message is a wake-up call for every one of us. Many wonderful people will be terribly shocked to find themselves separated from God forever.

    Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

    This scripture is in reference to those who would call themselves Born Again Christians. People who have understood and actually flowed in the power of the Holy Spirit. They understood their heavenly position and earthly authority as they overcame demons. These were your miracle workers.

Two Critical Keys to Salvation

  • Knowing Jesus–To be received by Jesus we must know Jesus. We must be hungry and intimate. We must ask, seek and knock. The pursuit of great intimacy with our Bridegroom has to be intense and continual. It’s not about our position, it’s about our love. It’s about our obedience and union with God in love, in life and in mission.
  • Lawlessness–This issue is addressed further in my book, Covens In The Church. In my dream, I represented a lawless church, or a lawless person. Someone who maintained control of my own experience. I was focused on what satisfied, on what comforted. I was not alert to the storm or surrendered to a place of radical participation in the moment.

    Again, many people will be devastated to find themselves in Hell one day. Many church-goers. Many who prophesy, many who smile when they see their friends, many who live a good life. Why is this? They refuse to pursue intimacy with God as they focus mostly on maintaining control of their own experience on the Earth.

    The call to intimacy is one of the most precious rewards for those who follow Jesus! Who could ever reject such an opportunity?

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

    The reward is intimacy with God! It’s the all-consuming fire engulfing us as we tremble in his presence! What a God we serve! His goal for us, and our life focus must be this–to be with him continually as he hovers over us and adores us as a Lover.

    However, this simple yet overpowering reality is so often avoided by people who are seeking comfort and control of their personal situations.

    Might I offer some sobering news to you? If our primary reason to follow Jesus is to avoid Hell and to go to Heaven one day, we are operating in the same self-centered, controlling attitude that resulted in my journey to Hell. Salvation for the sake of personal satisfaction is not salvation at all.   

Zechariah 7:5-6 “Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me–for Me? When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat and drink for yourselves?

 

The Sinner’s Prayer

   
    The sinner’s prayer is one of the most misused evangelism techniques in the church today. This misuse has had devastating results.

    Listen to me closely: The sinner’s prayer has become a ticket to Hell for countless people. To ever present someone with a guarantee of Heaven if they simply say a prayer is irresponsible. How many people have you met that believe they are going to Heaven because they repeated a prayer at an earlier point in their lives? How many of these people have become deeply intimate with their Lover? 

    Let’s dispel something right now–salvation is not primarily about making it to Heaven. It’s identifying with the Lover of our souls, the Alpha and the Omega, the Healer, the Deliverer, and coming to a place of agreement. A place of complete surrender. An intimate encounter with God will result in adoration and desire for him alone.

    It’s saying, “Yes, I agree that you are God, that you love me, that there is nothing bad in you. You are perfect. You actually died for me. I deserve nothing, and regardless of my eternal destiny I will choose to love and serve you every moment of my life.” All I want on this planet is to spend every moment of my life in passionate union with my Lord and Master and wonderful friend.

    Salvation is falling so deeply in love with Jesus that we’ll gladly sacrifice everything to spend just a moment with him. God is so great that he lovingly extends this moment with him into an eternity. It’s all about being with God. This is salvation.

    I have a difficult question for you. I admit it is an imperfect question as it leaves many theological truths hanging in the balance. It’s a question that will never have to be answered, but it does make the idea of salvation for all of us crystal clear.         
   
    If Heaven was never guaranteed for you, would you still crave and love Jesus so much that you would give up everything you have on the Earth just to spend the next 30-60 years with him in wonderful intimacy?

    Of course, when Jesus finds his lovers on the Earth, those who have an intense yearning in the depths of their hearts to be with Him, he simply can’t wait to spend eternity with them! That’s what the cross was all about! It wasn’t a ticket to Heaven or immunity from Hell. It was a model of perfect love in an imperfect and hateful world. That’s why he is calling us to carry our cross–it’s the evidence of our love and desire for our Bridegroom.

 

The Rich Young Ruler

   
    Consider a great and critical bible story about a Rich Young Ruler that we all know very well:
    Very interestingly this story comes right after Jesus was talking to his disciples about allowing innocent, loving children to come to him. He said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

    Why is this? They just wanted Jesus! They wanted to crawl up in his lap! They wanted to embrace him! Now, let’s look at the Rich Young Ruler.
   
    Matthew 19:16-22 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ “ The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

    Now, consider how this story goes. Someone decides he wants to follow Jesus, yet on his own terms. This person could easily be found going to a vibrant church every Sunday, repeating a sinner’s prayer, lifting his hands in worship, leading a small group, witnessing on the streets and owning several bibles.

    Remember, the Rich Young Ruler made the choice to follow Jesus. Most any pastor or evangelist would quickly rejoice and lead this man in a prayer. He would fill out a card and would be directed on how to connect in the church.

    This scenario plays out day after day after day around the world. Yet, in this story Jesus did not offer a sinner’s prayer, a card to fill out or membership in the church. Jesus knew he didn’t have this man’s heart, and made that reality clear.

    This man was what we would call a good man. He kept the commandments.

    However, Jesus was after something all together different from him. Jesus will always search the hearts of those who wish to follow him. In the end of this sad story, Jesus literally communicated to this man who wanted to be a follower of Jesus that he may not follow! Incredible!

    I heard a story of a great revivalist who was preaching in the first night of a week long revival. The anointing was so strong that a man rushed up to the altar to get saved right in the middle of this preacher’s message. He wanted to get saved!

    The revivalist rebuked him publicly and commanded him to return to his seat.

    “You, sir, are not ready to get saved. I have yet to reveal what it will cost you. Come back each night and I will let you know when it is time to respond to the call of Jesus.”

    Wow! Where is this type of gutsy presentation of the costly Gospel today?

    I often hear of salvation as a free gift. I completely understand the point that people who use that phrase are trying to get across, but I believe it can have damaging impact to those who are responding to it when it’s repeated without explanation. The reality is that salvation is very costly to every one who receives it.

    The point is that we did not have the ability to get saved on our own. We were not able to control the situation and do anything in ourselves to get saved. Jesus loved us so much that he did it all. He did what we could not do and extended his free gift. 

    Romans 6:22-23 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    The free gift of eternal life must be responded to. We become servants and friends of the Most High God. If Jesus’ death on the cross was all that was required for salvation, then every person on the earth would be saved. The cost of our own surrender is high and cannot be overlooked. Every one of Jesus’ disciples, except John, were martyred, for example. High cost, yet worth it all.

    To extend the point, if a sinner’s prayer, or a decision to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior was all that it took, much of what is revealed in scripture would have to be overlooked.

    Remember, salvation is all about intimacy with our Bridegroom and not simply a ticket to Heaven. Many who acknowledge the free gift of Jesus’ death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead, and who repeat a prayer and make a decision to follow Jesus will end up eternally separated from God.

    The story of the Rich Young Ruler demonstrates this.

    Jesus will say to many, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

    The attitude of the Rich Young Ruler is that of personal gain. I’m sure he wanted his sins washed away. The problem is this: Jesus didn’t come to relieve us of our guilt. He came to free us of bondage to sin. Presumed freedom from guilt and the penalty of sin can easily result in a passionless connection with Christ, and in a casual response to the call of holiness and intimacy. Jesus didn’t come so we could sin without guilt, he came to reveal himself as more satisfying and powerful than sin!

    When we are intimate with Jesus, embracing his emotions, his personality, his passion, we will buy into a life of fiery devotion. It won’t be possible to relax in the midst of the storm! We won’t desire sinful pleasures! It’s not about freedom from guilt, it’s about freedom from bondage that leads to death!

    For the sake of clarity on this very important subject, allow me to qualify briefly the point that is being made. The argument is that salvation is a very serious issue, and that a casual desire to go to Heaven and to take the name of Jesus is dangerous. The qualification is this–God is in charge of who goes to Heaven, and his heart cries out for all to be saved. 

    2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

    He is longsuffering and deeply desires for people to be saved.

    We don’t try to pay for or work for our salvation in lieu of full-blown surrender of our lives. Rather, fruit born in intimacy with God is the expected result of true salvation. Evidences. 

    With that in mind, scripture does make it clear that some who haven’t stepped into deep intimacy with Jesus will most definitely make it to Heaven. The thief on the cross is probably the best example. 

    While the Word tells us that those in the church who are lukewarm will be rejected by God, there is apparently a type of person who will live a substandard Christian life who will make it to Heaven.

    1 Corinthians 3:14-17 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
   
    This scripture reveals a very narrow exception for people whose fruit is proven to be lacking and unacceptable. This person will be saved–but barely. Can you imagine being in that terrifying position of waiting for God’s judgment to land on a life that was barely connected with him? Additionally, why would anybody want to live outside of God’s intimate presence? Why choose this low, risky level? What’s to gain?

    The scripture goes on to clarify the serious nature of eternal life. It’s not a simple matter, nor a light matter. If we destroy God’s temple, we will be destroyed. If we reveal inappropriate fruit, we may still be saved. But, if our work endures, and our temple is pure, salvation is a guarantee. 

    We can be confident in our eternal position, though I often find myself crying out to God something like, “Father, my heart longs for intimacy with you. I know I fail so often. I know I choose comfort over you at times. Please, Lord, help me ensure that you and I remain intimate. We remain in love. I don’t take your relationship or your salvation lightly. I know it’s possible to lose that relationship and that salvation. Help me surrender all, take up my cross and excitedly follow you. I love you.”

    Note that in that prayer I don’t reveal my fear of missing Heaven. My fear is losing intimacy with Jesus. Of course, I don’t want to go to Hell and I don’t want to miss Heaven–but that’s not my motivation. Our focus must be on the wonderful relationship with Jesus that we will either enjoy or lose sight of in our day-to-day experience on this planet.

    The churches in the book of Revelation reveal great truths in regard to the serious nature of salvation. God was not pleased with all of their works. In fact, in Revelation chapter 3 we see it revealed that names can be removed from the Book of Life.

    Revelation 3:5 “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

    If we overcome, our name is securely kept in the Book of Life. If we do not overcome, our name which was written in that Book at the time of our salvation will be blotted out.
    Salvation is serious stuff.

 

False Grace

   
    There is a false grace message that’s spreading fast, and it’s critical that we deal with this eternally devastating message with vengeance. False grace can lead people out of intimacy and action.

    There is a need for sober, humble and bold prophetic messengers to rise up and declare the piercing messages from God. These messages will provoke people to rush into the presence of God that results in trembling and collapse to their faces.

Matthew 23:33-34 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,

    The call to intimacy with God is a call to slow the flow to Hell! The church must awaken and sound the alarm! We can’t rest in our comfort any longer! We have been called to steward this weighty reality.

Matthew 25:29-30 For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

    Note, that passage of scripture is referencing servants. Those in the church. Followers of Jesus!

    We must understand that salvation is not free. Jesus did what we could not do by defeating death, Hell and the grave. Now, we do what Jesus will not do. He said, “It is finished.” Now it’s our turn to respond to his Kingdom design.

    A false grace message would relay that we have no participation in the process of salvation (other than accepting Jesus into one’s heart). A true grace message actually embraces the power that was made available to us to obey the impossible directives of God.

    Grace empowers us to draw very close to God and to respond to his mandates. A true grace message will always have a biblical works message attached to it. Because of grace we can now work.

1 Corinthians 3:10-13 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

    I have a definition for religion that brings clarity to both unbiblical grace and unbiblical works positions. Here it is:

Religion: man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.

    If we attempt to use God through grace by excusing ourselves to laziness or by abdicating our responsibility, we are driven by a religious spirit.
    On the contrary, if we try to buy or work our way into good favor with God outside of his radical sacrifice, that is a spirit of religion as well.
    Grace is favor. We have favor given by God so we can be in deep relationship with him and respond in supernatural power to his plans for our lives. He did what only he could do so we could do what only we must do.
    Jesus was favored. He was full of grace, yet he also had a responsibility. He walked in supernatural favor, and that favor enabled him to fulfill the necessary work of the cross.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

    His grace enabled him to fulfill his assignment, and because of his fulfilled assignment, we now have the grace to fulfill our assignment. Grace enables. It doesn’t relieve responsibility.

    Further, Jesus’ grace resulted in a paid price that we had no ability to pay. No amount of work or payment on our part could get us to eternity with God. We were destined for Hell, but because Jesus’ allowed grace to enable him to embrace the horrors and wonders of the cross, we can now run to him freely.

    But, we’re called to do more than run to him. We must run with him and for him. We are his graced, favored and empowered instruments on the Earth.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

    Paul ensured God’s grace was not in vain by allowing that power to result in abundant labor for the Kingdom.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

    Grace will establish us in work. Grace has an expected outcome, and we have a part to play in that story.

    So, just what is work? It is simply response to the passionate and active heart of God. This is why deep intimacy is so critical. It’s only in this place of intimacy (which is also a work) that we can more fully embrace the wild, challenging and seemingly impossible assignments of our loving Father. His grace lifted some burdens from our lives, but also placed new ones upon us. It’s when, in the place of intimacy with God, we trade human burdens with holy burdens that we come alive and grace is most fully activated in us.

 

Wonderful Surrender

   
    I’ll share another experience that, I strongly believe, was critical in securing my relationship with Jesus. I believe a negative response to what the Lord was speaking to me would have put my eternal position at jeopardy. Would I have lost my salvation? I don’t know and I don’t want to play with that fire.

    In the season of life where this experience took place, I knew that once saved, everything changed. A great barometer of salvation is to ask whether everything in our lives was open for change or not. I agreed that once I surrendered my life, God would begin to change me and require much from me.

    2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

    Additionally, I understood that simply acknowledging that Jesus was God, or even agreeing that he was the only way to the Father wasn’t sufficient to guarantee salvation. I had to surrender all.

   Acts 10:43 “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
   
    This scripture does not indicate that all we have to do is have some belief that Jesus existed, and that he died and rose from the dead. Even the devil knows that! The word believes literally means, to be committed to, or to commit oneself to. It’s an all out surrender to the Living God.

    Now, allow me to share with you the life-changing experience with God that radically changed my understanding of what it was to follow Jesus.

    This event occurred shortly after I had the terrifying dream in the old church building. God was wildly challenging me and drawing me closer to him. I was in my early twenty’s at the time. Our church, along with several others in the area participated in a lock-in at a local YMCA. There were a few hundred people there enjoying everything from wallyball to basketball to ping-pong.

    They had also set up a prayer room in one part of the building. As a young man who was getting blasted by the Holy Spirit with amazing regularity I presumed the room would be full of hungry young men and women of God. Sadly, I was wrong, though the nearly empty room provided me quite an atmosphere to pray in.

    In many ways, that room was similar to the one in my dream. I was looking out of the windows over the city as I spent some time with the Lord. However, unlike the dream, I was passionately enjoying God with intensity. The atmosphere was full of the presence of the Holy Spirit and, to date, it was literally one of the most powerful God moments of my life. I was so full of life that I found myself pacing around with lifted hands and a fire in my belly for quite a long, wonderful time.

    All of a sudden, I heard something in my spirit.

    “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life.”

    Huh? Where in the world did that thought come from? What an unwelcome interruption it was! I shook it off and moved back into prayer and worship. But, something was wrong. The warm and consuming presence of God had left the room. I didn’t realize it then, but God’s presence didn’t leave the room–it had simply changed. God was honoring me with a serious call to follow Him.

    I tried for the next fifteen minutes to enter back into prayer, but I felt entirely alone. No unction, no flow, no passion.

    I kept hearing the words, “John, will you let me take your life?”

    I finally realized that the warmth of God’s presence had transitioned into the challenge of God’s purposes. He was testing me. Was I really ready to take up my cross? Was I really in it for Jesus? Or, was I into this Christian life mostly for what I could get out of it? You see, this crossroads question from the most Holy One would result in ensuring my destiny–either in one direction or in the other. And, it wouldn’t make any difference if I kept paying tithes, going to church and lifting my hands in worship if I chose the road toward personal satisfaction that fateful night.

    The Holy pressure in that dark prayer room was extreme. I honestly thought, beyond any doubt, that the decision I was about to make to my Lord would result in my physical death that very night. The call was that urgent. But, I immediately realized I couldn’t stand to live the rest of my life outside of the warmth of the tangible presence of Jesus that I felt as I first entered that room.

    “God, if it will result in warming your heart, and in advancing your Kingdom on the Earth, you can take my life. I love you and you are teaching me more about love in this moment than in my previous two decades. I trust you.”
    The split second I communicated that in my heart, the fire of the Holy Spirit rushed in with power. It was better than any previous experience with God I had ever had. Far better. I was consumed by his love. I was surrendered to him unlike anytime in my life. I was his.

Song of Songs 1:2-4 THE SHULAMITE Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth– For your love is better than wine. Because of the fragrance of your good ointments, Your name is ointment poured forth; Therefore the virgins love you. Draw me away! THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM We will run after you. THE SHULAMITE The king has brought me into his chambers. THE DAUGHTERS OF JERUSALEM We will be glad and rejoice in you. We will remember your love more than wine.

    To this day I don’t know if God will suddenly take my life–and while I wish to live for a long time on earth, I am longing to live for eternity with my Lover.
    Calls from the heart of God like this one come to me from time to time. How serious am I? Am I in it for the benefits? Do I live my life for what I can get out of it? Or, am I a walking dead man? The positive response to the call of God is an indicator of the intimate love that we have for our Lover. It is a fruit of our salvation.

The Barometer of Prayer

    I have many barometers in my life. I am an imperfect man who loves to discover lack in my life. That discovery leads me on an adventure of pursuit and acquisition of the new things of God for me. For example, if I don’t easily heal the sick, then I am thrilled to read books, study the Word of God, watch teachers on TV and pray a lot so I can grow in this gift.

    I believe an absolutely critical barometer for any follower of Jesus is that of prayer. Prayer is simply being with God, engaging with him on a very real and personal level.

    I shared a moment ago about my experience in the prayer room in the YMCA. Something else that was tragic and striking to me was that it was nearly empty. Volleyball was more desirable than being with God.

    I remember another time during that year just after a youth worship service. I was experiencing God so dramatically and so continually that I was probably glowing in the dark! I went outside after that service, and with a goofy smile on my face, told some of my new friends just how amazing God is.

    “Wow! Guys, God is so amazing! Whoa! His anointing and his fire is powerful! I can’t imagine ever living without him!”

    These guys, whom I would pray with on a regular basis, just looked at me with a half smile and said something like, “John, that’s great. Yep, God’s good.”
    Where was the passion for Jesus and the explosion of emotion that I was experiencing?

    During that particular season of my life, every Thursday night just prior to the youth service there was an hour of prayer in the sanctuary. The leaders heavily announced the prayer meeting, put signs on the doors, talked with people one-on-one and ensured the prayer was the most emphasized portion of the entire night.

    Week after week between 60-100 young people would arrive early–and stand outside of the sanctuary in the foyer. The large sanctuary looked empty as 5-6 zealots pressed into the presence of God for one hour and the small foyer looked like a fire hazard as it was jammed to its limits.

    You may be saying, “Well, John, many of those young people may not even be saved. They were just babes in the Lord at best.”

    OK, that may be true. But, let me ask a question–how many times have you seen a similar scenario take place with adults?

    I talked to someone just the other day regarding prayer. She stated that her church of about 500 people is resistant to the idea of prayer. The prayer room was on the second level of the church and it had six chairs in it. Then, to make room for another church program, the prayer room was moved from the second floor to the third floor, and in the process they removed three of the chairs. How can this be?!

    There is a GREAT SIN of prayerlessness in this nation! Again, prayer is simply being with God. Do we even understand the opportunity we have to encounter God in increasing measure every moment of our lives?

    Intimacy must follow salvation and prayer is the vehicle of intimacy. I’ll never understand why the call to intimately encounter God in prayer is countered with excuses and no-shows. It literally breaks my heart. 

    I don’t know how often I’ve heard people respond to the call to the prayer room with excuses like:

  • I am always in prayer–in the car, while doing dishes, at work.
  • God is with me wherever I go.
  • God knows my heart and my needs. I trust he’ll take good care of me.

    The fact that we attempt to validate non-aggressive, passive and non-costly methods of prayer above the wonderful experience of spending hours of hungering and groaning as the Holy Spirit breathes through us in the place of visitation reveals a tragic crisis in the Church!

    We should not be making excuses for not being with Jesus!

    There is a difference between being in the omnipresence of God and being in the manifest presence of God. Everybody is continually in God’s omnipresence. Satanists, witches, children, adults, preachers and sinners. However, it costs much to press into God’s manifest presence. It takes time, effort and passion. Period. It’s radically inconvenient to a naturally driven life. God is drawing us into the Holy of Holies, yet we have become satisfied with the outer courts!

    There is a difference between passively praying throughout our day and actively pressing into God’s presence. We must discover God’s heart in prayer. We talk a lot about lengthy prayer in our ministry. It is absolutely non-negotiable.

Prayer in the Cave

    We often hold a unique event called Prayer in the Cave. We crawl into a deep cave, turn out the lights and be with God. It usually takes at least an hour of sitting in perfect silence before our hearts are at a place of being invaded by the Holy Spirit. Then, as we transition into the next phase of repentance, we find that we’ve gone well over the two hour mark. Worshipping and crying out to God takes more time. Then, finally, we can hear God. We wait and wait as the prophetic Word of God is delivered to us. Then (and now it’s been 3-4 hours) we are ready to come into agreement with what’s on God’s heart. We war in the Spirit and experience wildly enjoyable and effective prayer. Our love of God is intense, our passion is hot and the outcome is amazing. People who experience this wouldn’t trade it for anything! Excuses aren’t made to avoid prayer, but instead declarations are made to friends, family and our own calendars that we have an appointment with God that will not be violated! Saying no to God’s wooing becomes a laughable idea indeed!

    Let me say this clearly–people who are legitimately saved simply crave to be with their Lover–Jesus. Lengthy prayer is an obvious reality for them as they understand the many issues of life that must be contended with in order to enjoy God freely.

    Does that mean everybody is glowing in the dark and full of life and fire every moment of their lives? Does it mean that prayer isn’t hard work sometimes? Of course not! It also doesn’t assume that everybody has tangibly experienced God–but those who love God, whether they have experienced him or not, will do whatever it takes to experience him initially and then over and over again.

    God yearns for us to be with him intimately and continually. Much of that time will be passive–while we are in the car or cleaning the house–and much will be very active. I consider the following passage of scripture to be one of the saddest in scripture. Its story was also indicative of things to come.

    Matthew 26:42-44 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

    The saddest phrase is, “He left them.”

    At history’s most critical moment, Jesus was craving intimacy with his friends, and when he found none, he went to be with his Father, alone. He had something to accomplish, so while he didn’t leave them in terms of his friendship with them, he did leave them when it came to partnering, or the lack thereof, in purpose.

    Our desire to be with God will be maintained through thick and thin. God has much to do, and he is calling his lovers to be with him as he does it. Our love of Jesus will keep us awake and alert. The disciples wanted to experience very passive prayer (it is very possible to sleep in the Spirit!) while Jesus was calling them to the most active prayer of their lives. When they didn’t respond, Jesus left them.

    I know some may quote a scripture at this point, which is one of my favorites:
   
    Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

    “But John, God has promised us a light burden. It seems as if you are preaching a very heavy burden when you discuss lengthy prayer.”

    First of all, let me say this–prayer is wonderfully enjoyable. Those who tap in to the heart of God simply become addicted to lengthy prayer.

    But, let’s also address the incredibly difficult and important seasons of prayer that require much of us. God’s burden in these situations is very light only when we enter them in his strength and not ours. God’s assignments for us are so heavy and severe that it is completely impossible and burdensome for us to accomplish. Many get very frustrated as they stare God’s impossible directives for them in the face.

    What’s the missing element here? The power of the Holy Spirit that can only be received through being with God! As we are with God intensely and with wild regularity, we will, day-by-day, discover the ability to obey God by carrying the burdens he has given us to carry.

    Romans 8:26-28 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

    We should literally find ourselves in our prayer closets realizing the monumental tasks that God has placed on us, identifying our incredible weaknesses and falling on our faces yearning and groaning before the Lord. Many have not allowed the Holy Spirit to physically groan through them. We intercede and cry out and pray in the Spirit day in and day out as we receive the burdens that the Holy Spirit is willing and able to carry through us. 

    We must hear God’s voice so we can know what he wants us to do. We’ve all heard the scripture that “all things work together for good…”, but we miss the point all too often. If we are intimate with God and if we are receiving his purpose for our lives, the heavy burden which is made light through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, things work together for good. If we don’t hear God, don’t pray, don’t receive his burden and aren’t intimate with him, things in our lives can be very bad. We must intentionally be with God, hear God, be intimate with God, receive God’s ministry and mandates and allow the Holy Spirit to work and groan through us. Our flesh then becomes crucified and our spirits dance and stir as we excitedly move into the realm of the impossible!

    Our flesh often tries to determine how much we will carry because it knows how much it can handle. Instead of surrendering to God’s plans, we attempt to manage our own burdens. Our tolerance for pain dictates how far we go.

    Our flesh tells us how much to pray, how much to fast, how much to serve, how much to give. Our flesh determines the extent of our obedience.

    However, when we are with God in the furnace of prayer, we become super-powered as the Holy Spirit takes over. We can now obey God and press into the incredible life God has called us to live.

 

Cares of Life

    When I started Revolution Church in 2001, I naively assumed that people who participated with us would see the extreme nature of the vision to take a city for Jesus and would quickly conclude that a radical departure from life as usual must occur. I believed people would get so excited about accomplishing the impossible that they would immediately respond to calls to fast, to pray and to reorder their lives.

    After all, the only way to do what God was calling us to do was to be empowered by the Holy Spirit through lengthy prayer. It seemed obvious to me.

    God then spoke to me very powerfully, “You must communicate the following message clearly and continually–cares of life must be eliminated!”

    Luke 8:14-15 “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

    Those who are inward focused and pursue pleasure and comfort, and who focus on the cares of life, will not mature. I knew a call to take an entire city required people to very quickly respond to this truth regarding the cares of life. It would take serious and maturing people. It couldn’t be a long process, but a quick response to press in, pray, fast and reprioritize their lives.

    Those who hear the word keep it and bear fruit with patience. It’s a radical life.

    I believe God is restoring the church to be much like the first church in the Book of Acts. While today church leaders avoid scheduling too many events because of the demands of life on people, we will see these demands finally giving way to the structure God had originally ordained. God’s ways will trump life’s demands.

    Acts 2:46-47 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

    They were actually at church every day! They also met in homes. A lot of activity with God and other believers was taking place. They had favor and the harvest was large. Can you imagine people today praying in the church every day? Well, it is coming and it will mark the most powerful season the church has ever experienced! 

    The Lord spoke something to me recently. He told me the Holy Spirit is moving on the face of the earth right now, and he is recruiting. He’s recruiting those who will respond to him, and who will participate in a great end time move of God. A great battle. He said that he is not installing a draft. This end time army will be made up of those who are willing and ready–those who discern the signs of the times. Those who resist, some who will still be secure in their salvation and others who won’t, will feel the force of the move of God on the earth instead of partnering with God.

    God is calling us to surrender all. Many are just cruising along in life, relaxing and doing their best to be comfortable. Many will not make Heaven.

    Even Billy Graham’s own research shows a mere 2% of people who fill out a decision card at one of their evangelistic crusades ever end up pursuing their walk with the Lord.

    I’ve heard of a person who was taken to Heaven in real time. He watched as people entered eternity. Some went to Heaven. Most went to Hell.

    A recent Gallup poll reveals that 45% of people in America call themselves born again. On this particular day, this individual reported that only about 2% of the people who died that day entered Heaven. While this is not verifiable, it is nonetheless striking. We could deduct fairly reliably that well over 90% of people who had at one time repeated a sinner’s prayer, probably attended church and lived a good life were never known by God and ended up in Hell.

    Intimacy with God is achieved through prayer. I suggest it’s a matter of eternal life and death to ensure the prayer rooms of America’s churches are full.

    Revolution Church was transitioned to Revolution House of Prayer recently. God had spoken clearly to me about the deep importance of having entire cities that pray and worship him 24-hours a day. I decided to contact someone at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. I emailed several questions to them, and one of their leaders responded back to me.

    The answer to one question broke my heart and sent flags flying and alarms sounding.

    “How do visitors respond when you tell them that the mission of IHOP is to minister to God 24-hours a day in prayer?”

    The answer?“They often look back at us with a confused look on their face.” I too have experienced this tragic phenomena.

    How can this be? How can they be confused? It simply doesn’t make sense. Where is the deep longing to be with the Lover of our souls? Where is the lovesick bride?

    God’s house is a House of Prayer. Period. There is a trend that must be eliminated from our mind sets–the trend of participating in churches or spiritual activities based on what we can get out of them. Entire churches are set up with the mind set of having the most programs so they can serve the most needs of the most people! When did this happen?

    We are called to bring our sacrifices to the altar! We are called to surrender all! To minister to God! 

    I contend that one of the best things that churches in America can do is to cancel all of their programs, small groups, Sunday School classes and activities–and pray. For a year. Who will stay? Who will thrive? Who will leave? Who will complain?

    Can you imagine what this nation and this world would be like if for 365 straight days and nights every single church and every single pastor and every single believer would be in the prayer rooms? Revival would burn across this land and the harvest would be received in world record time!

    As it is now, churches call a prayer meeting and the people scatter–America, we have a problem.

    A reformation of ministry to the Living God is coming to our land. Churches are abandoning old wine skins and are transitioning to the original intent on God’s heart–for his house to be a house of prayer for all nations.

    Relationships will be developed in the prayer rooms. We’ll go out for coffee after our prayer watches and study the Word together. We’ll enjoy each other’s company in our homes. We’ll live a life of continual prayer, continual growth and continual relationships with other fire-breathing Christians–and it won’t be dependent on a program!

    What about the lost? I contend that they will finally have a good reason to get saved. And they won’t get falsely saved into a cozy, self-centered experience. They won’t ever have to face the terror of Hell that gripped me in that shocking and horrific dream. Salvation for the coming harvest will equate to passionate surrender to a zealous Bridegroom. They will be launched into a life of intimate pursuit of Jesus through the vehicle of continual, fervent prayer.

    Let’s go churches of America–open up the prayer rooms again!

Joseph Prince, false-grace and the risk of millions falling away

Millions of current Christians are at risk of spending an eternity in Hell—and few are saying anything about it.

imageThe leading teacher of what I believe to be the most dangerous, widespread heresy in the church today is the extremely popular pastor and teacher Joseph Prince.

Understand, I am extremely careful when it comes to dropping names—the fear of the Lord is all over me even as I write this. In fact, I can’t remember another person I’ve mentioned by name in this fashion in the last several years.

As I said, the fear of the Lord is on me, and when that happens, it sometimes propels me into caution, and at other times into risk. I understand this message put me in the category of risk. However, it’s a risk that’s easily worth it since literally millions of people’s eternities are at risk. I absolutely believe the core message that Joseph Prince teaches will result in shocked, church going, professing Christians entering Hell one day. It’s that serious.

I believe the hyper-grace message could be the end-time deception that will cause millions of people to fall away from God. ~Sid Roth

Jude 1:3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

While we should desire to talk about unity, our common salvation, I don’t believe we can do so on this matter. False-grace is an eternity and salvation issue. It’s not minor, it’s major.

Regarding naming the name of Joseph Prince, Chace Gordon said:

When I first stumbled into the false grace teachings of Joseph Prince, I was deeply grieved over it and sensed a tidal wave of heresy coming to American shores. I felt America was blessed that he was from Singapore, or the pervasive deception would have been even deadlier in America than it currently is, because it gave us time to counteract the error by teaching the Word before he became an American superstar and the false doctrine would expedite the demise of church influence in preserving the culture. I knew of NO ONE (initially)who was speaking out against this false doctrine on a large stage, only quiet murmurings of resistance, or the typical grumblings of denominational critics who despise prosperity, big churches and the Word of Faith movement.

I do not know Joseph Prince personally (although I know many close to him and some of his elders before him, both living and dead), but I became intimately acquainted with his message, and within a few week period, I wrote a detailed refutation of his book “Destined to Reign” and submitted it to fellow ministers whom I have relationship with, and to friends who accepted his teaching and propagated it themselves. My notes eventually became widespread, not because I led a public campaign attacking Joseph Prince, but because it was being privately distributed by other ministers who were also greatly disturbed.

During that time, before publicly denouncing him, I even contacted Joseph Prince Ministries and submitted a copy of my notes to them for them to respond to or correct any false conclusions I may have come to regarding his doctrine. After the typical form letter response, I finally received an email from one of the associate pastors who responded to none of the content itself, only stating that they did not wish to debate for the sake of Christian unity…but none of the grave concerns that I had communicated were addressed or any of the blatant errors apologized for.

Finally, I started to get contacted by pastors who had received copies of my notes given them by friends of friends. I started hearing testimonies of church splits and the like; but I still knew of few who were publicly taking a stand against this message. I did, however, hear of numerous private confrontations by respected ministers, who challenged him on his doctrine but he refused correction. If anything, Joseph Prince dug in his heels and even increased his outlandish unbiblical comments.

It became clear to me that there was grounds here for marking him publicly, as the heresy was widely publicized, damage to the body of Christ was ongoing, even impacting people within my own church congregation, and repentance was refused.

On a positive note, I believe the tide is being turned. When I first became involved with the hyper-grace message controversy, I heard more horror stories than anything else. Now at least, I'm hearing some positive testimonies in the mix of solid grace teaching to counteract the false hope and empty promises of cheap grace.

This is what burns in my spirit day after day. I know I’ve been given a serious mandate to sound the alarms necessary to awaken people out of a slumber that will result in an eternity in Hell.

imageI ask God often to keep reawakening me to the mandate that originated in an encounter I had with Hell 23 years ago. I will never be the same after that fateful night as the forces of Hell overtook me.

God said very clearly, “John, many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”

Now, 23 years later, I believe we have stumbled upon a great end time deception that can in fact result in what God warned me about. Church going, hand raising, tithe paying professing Christians who are convinced through false-theologies that they don’t have to deal with their sin…wonderful people who will die in those sins if we don’t warn them.

The fundamental deception in hyper-grace is that all of your future sins are forgiven in advance. ~Dr. Michael Brown

I strongly encourage you to watch the interview of Dr. Michael Brown by Sid Roth here: http://sidroth.org/television/tv-archives/dr-michael-brown 

Reggie D. Byrum said:

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16
In the view of the hyper-grace camp, why would we even need to do this? Why should we approach the throne of grace to obtain mercy, if past, present and future sins have already been forgiven, if God does not see the sins of a Christian and if Christians do not need to confess or repent of sin?

What is so sad is that people believe that dealing with sin is a negative issue. It is not! It’s glorious! What a privilege to serve a God who will get into our personal space and set us free time and again!

It’s not complex. If we sin and do not repent, we can’t presume to be in Christ Jesus. But, if we do repent, we are in Christ Jesus!

There are so many scriptures that make it clear that sin is a serious issue both before and after making the decision to follow Jesus. How much more clear could the following verse be? This is a salvation/eternity verse, and it’s applicable to Christians:

Matt 6:14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

It’s clear. If we sin (refuse to forgive) we cannot just ignore it. We ourselves won’t be forgiven. Sin will remain in us, and our eternities are threatened.

DESTINED TO REIGN BY JOSEPH PRINCE

Honestly, it’s extremely easy to see the clear heresy that’s in his book—if only we have eyes to see.

I’m going to include a lengthy study by Pastor Chace Gordon below. Before I do, read what he wrote to me earlier today:

When I first wrote the notes refuting Destined to Reign, they were circulated widely and did not have my name attached to them. I was contacted by an elder minister who received an anonymous copy after going through a church split over Joseph Prince. He tracked me down through the person who gave it to him, and told me the story of how he was on a pastors cruise with a handful of copies of my notes on Destined to Reign. He asked another respected minister who was on the cruise what he thought of Joseph Prince. The respected minister defended him adamantly, saying “I've know Joe and ministered in his church every year for 18 years! There's nothing wrong with him!” After taking a look at my notes including quotes from the book, the respected minister exclaimed, “That's heresy! I never read the book but I will now!” The rest of the story is that minister on the cruise ship went on to become one of the ministers who confronted Joseph Prince in person over these matters. Joseph Prince refused to listen; but this man of God is now an outspoken voice against the false grace message.

This was very interesting to me as a highly respected national leader and a good friend mentioned that senior Christian leaders had attempted to bring Joseph Prince under church discipline for his teachings, but he refused to comply.

A THOROUGH REFUTATION OF THE FALSE-GRACE HERESY OF JOSEPH PRINCE

by Pastor Chace Gordon www.cornerstoneworld.org 

Quotes from “Destined to Reign”

Quote #1:

“I distinctly heard the voice of the Lord on the inside.  It wasn’t a witness of the Spirit.  It was a voice, and I heard God say this clearly to me:  ‘Son, you are not preaching grace.’  I said, ‘What do you mean, Lord?…’Every time you preach grace, you preach it with a mixture of law.  You attempt to balance grace with the law like many other preachers, and the moment you balance grace, you neutralize it.  You cannot put new wine into old wineskins.  You cannot put grace and law together.  He went on to say, ‘Son, a lot of preachers are not preaching grace the way Apostle Paul preached grace.”

Excerpt from the Foreword, page vii

NOTE:  Paul taught grace and law side-by-side throughout Romans chapters 5-6 for the express purpose of preventing doctrinal confusion.  In fact, the book of Romans uses the word “law” 78 times while only using the word “grace” 24 times.  Hence, teaching the law is often necessary as a basis before one can even begin to teach grace!  The heart must be convicted and humbled with the law before grace can be received.

The word “law” is referred to in Paul’s epistles 148 times in 108 verses; the word “grace” was used in Paul’s epistles 99 times in 92 verses.  Thus demonstrating that his “grace preaching” was a doctrinal balance of both law & grace.

It is true that the apostle Paul had more to say on the subject of grace than any other New Testament writer.  It even states in Acts 20:24 that testifying to the gospel of grace was the purpose of his life and ministry; however, he, and other New Testament writers, went to great length to keep the grace doctrine from being twisted and perverted as we must do as well.

(See Jude 4, Romans 5:20-6:2; Romans 6:14-16; II Corinthians 6:1; Galatians 1:6-10; Hebrews 10:29-31; II Peter 3:15-18)

Here is a side-by-side comparison of “grace teaching” versus “law teaching” throughout the Bible:

Usage of words in whole Bible (KJV):

The Bible addresses the law approximately three times as much as it addresses grace!

The word “law”:  used 523 times in 459 verses

The word “grace”: used 170 times in 159 verses

Conclusion:  The Bible as a whole has FAR MORE to say concerning the law than concerning grace.

Usage of words in the New Testament alone (KJV):

The New Testament addresses the law nearly twice as often as it addresses grace!

The word “law”:  used 223 times in 172 verses

The word “grace:” used 131 times in 122 verses

Conclusion:  While the New Testament has more to say on the subject of grace than the Old Testament, the New Testament STILL has FAR MORE to say concerning the law than concerning grace.

Usage of words in the gospels (KJV):

The gospels address the law eight times as much as they address grace!

The word “law”:  used 41 times in 35 verses

The word “grace”:  used 5 times in 4 verses

Conclusion:  Even though Jesus Himself ushered in the dispensation of grace to the church, the gospels have FAR MORE to say concerning the law than concerning grace!

Usage of words in the Book of Acts (KJV):

The Book of Acts addresses the law twice as much as it addresses grace!

The word “law”:  used 22 times in 21 verses

The word “grace”:  used 10 times in 10 verses

Conclusion:  The record of the early church has FAR MORE to say concerning the law than concerning grace!

Conclusion to it all:  There is no Biblical precedent to suggest teaching the law undermines the teaching of grace.  They are complementary doctrines.  In fact, the doctrinal teaching of the law is foundational to receiving the doctrine of grace!

Quote #2:

“It is entirely His [Jesus] effort and His [Jesus] doing.  Our part is to believe on Him and receive all that He has accomplished on our behalf.  Sounds ridiculously simple, one-sided and unfair?  Well, my friend, that is exactly what makes grace, grace!  Grace is only grace when it is undeserved, unearned and unmerited.”

Excerpt from foreword, page x

NOTE: This statement is confusing on several points:

(1)  It confuses God’s grace with a distorted view of God’s mercy.  It also assumes that God’s mercy cancels out God’s justice.  There is nothing “unfair” about God giving us His grace; but there is something infinitely merciful.  How can an infinitely merciful God extend grace to the sinner and not violate His infinite justice?  Through repentance.

Repentance is the place where justice and mercy kiss.  Without justice, mercy becomes cruel.  If the president of the United States, as an act of mercy, decided to pardon our prison population and loose them on society, the innocent would suffer as a result.  However, if a wicked man is truly penitent and puts his faith in God, he can qualify for pardon because he ceases to be a threat to society.  Though the penitent, formerly-wicked man does not deserve pardon, he can receive mercy without compromising justice.  Hence, the criminal does nothing to earn his salvation; yet qualifies for mercy through genuine repentance.

While grace is not something we earn through good works, it is something we must qualify for through repentance. 

(2) It assumes grace is exclusively for the undeserving.  It is not.  According to Luke 2:40, Jesus grew in grace.  Under the above definition, we would have to assume that Jesus “growing in grace” as a child means He was sinful during His youth.  This is total heresy and an increasingly common heresy in today’s culture.  While this may seem to be splitting hairs, this small error could lead someone down the path to destruction.

(3) It assumes the operation of grace is the same as its initial impartation.  It concludes that since receiving grace was effortless on our part, walking in grace after it’s received must be effortless as well.  But receiving a free gift by doing nothing to EARN it does not automatically mean you do nothing to USE it!

Ephesians 2:8-9 tell us we are saved by grace and not by works; however verse 10 tells us that we are saved UNTO good works!  Which means, we don’t do works to earn salvation, but once we are saved, by grace—we do good works!  It’s not effortless!

The key difference is this:  doing good works on your own apart from God will not save you; however, after you are saved, you do good works because now you are participating with God!  Grace is what enables that participation.  You still have responsibility.  You still have effort.  The difference is, you are united with Christ and He gives you the strength, a.k.a. grace, to do alongside of Him, what you could never do on your own.

Quote #3:

“Do you realize that most people believe that one needs to work hard to achieve success in life?  The world’s system of success is built on the twin pillars of self-effort and diligence.  There are always some “laws” that you have to abide by, and some “methods and techniques” that you have to keep on practicing before there can be any results.  Most of the time, any result that you may get will start to fade once you cease to follow through with the prescribed methods and steps.  We have been taught to focus on achieving, on doing and on relying on our self-efforts.  We are driven to ‘do, do, do’, forgetting that Christianity is actually ‘done, done, done’.”

Chapter 1, Page 4

NOTE:  Grace doesn’t do away with the Biblical virtue of hard work (See Proverbs 18:9; 20:4, 13; 21:25-26; 24:30-34; 26:13-16; Matthew 5:16; 25:14-30; II Thessalonians 3:10; I Corinthians 9:19; 15:10; II Corinthians 6:1; II Timothy 2:15).  Diligence is still a necessary part of the Christian experience (See John 8:31; Hebrews 11:6; II Peter 1:4-10) and your results WILL fail when you stop being diligent!  (See Galatians 1:6-10; I Timothy 1:5-6, 19; Hebrews 3:6).  “Achieving” is not an evil concept especially when God has provided incentive and guidelines to obey (Deuteronomy 28; Matthew 25:14-30; Philippians 3:14-16; II Timothy 2:3-7; I Corinthians 9:24-27).  

The Bible tells us to “do, do, do” because though Christ’s redemptive work on the cross IS “done, done, done” Christians still have a lot left to do (see the Sermon on the Mount, the Great Commission, the Book of ACTS, the book of Titus (whose theme is GOOD WORKS) and the Book of James (whose theme is being DOERS of the Word)!

Grace is incompatible with works of self-righteousness (See Ephesians 2:8-9; Galatians 2:21; 5:4); but grace is also God’s power working THROUGH you and me because we are cooperating with Him!  (See Ephesians 3:7; Philippians 4:13; Romans 6:1-11; Colossians 2:6).

Quote #4:

“Under the new covenant, we don’t have to keep on asking the Lord…for forgiveness because He has already forgiven us.”

Chapter 1, page 7

NOTE:  While it is true that if you repent of something once, it is not necessary to repent of the same sin twice; however, if you sin again, you must repent—again. “The modern fallacy that judicial forgiveness covers ALL sins, past, present, and future; that God does not impute sins of believers to them; and that God never condemns a saved man for any sins committed, but charges them to the Lord Jesus Christ, is one of the most unscriptural and demon-inspired theories in any church…He will forgive all sins that are confessed to Him, but this does not give the saved man a blank check to continue in sin and live as he pleases without any fear of being held accountable for his sins after he has one time been saved.  Salvation does not include freedom to live in sins of all kinds.  It does not guarantee immunity from hell if one goes back into sins and dies in them.”

–Finis Dake

If Christians had a “blank check” to sin and never had to ask forgiveness after they are saved—why did God tell so many believers to repent in hundreds of scriptures, in both old and new testaments?  Why did Paul go to many of the churches that he planted, that he witnessed their conversions, and that he laid hands on to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit—why did he go to these churches and admonish them to repent—if their sins were forgiven past, present AND future?  Why did John write to believers in I John 1:9 and encourage them to confess their sins if they stopped walking in the light (I John 1:7)?  Why does the book of Revelation warn that your name can be blotted out of the Book of Life if one-time repentance is a blank check for everlasting forgiveness?  Why did Peter say that if a Christian backslides into sin after being delivered—his outcome becomes WORSE?

The truth is grace does MORE than cover our sins or empower us to ignore our pesky consciences.  Grace empowers us to stop sinning and walk in the light (I John 1:7).  I suggest that we don’t sin when walking in the light—we sin when we walk away from it!

Here are several sample scriptures that are examples of how eternal life can be lost and that the saved die again when they commit sin

Genesis 2:17; Exodus 32:32-33; Leviticus 18:24-30; 26:13-39; Numbers 25:1-8; Deuteronomy 4:23-31; Joshua 7:, 10-12; Judges 2:1-23; I Kings 14:22; II Kings 17:1-17; II Chronicles 36; Isaiah 5:24-25; Jeremiah 2:5-37;  Lamentations 1:8-9; Ezekiel 13:1-23; Hebrews 12:28-29; Psalm 69:28; Revelation 3:5; Matthew 7:21; I John 4:8, 12, 16, 21; Galatians 1:6-8; Mark 11:25-26; I Corinthians 3:16-17; Luke 8:13; John 6:66; II Corinthians 5:17; Romans 11:16; Acts 1:20, 25; Colossians 2:8-19; Jude 12-13; II Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16; Philippians 3:7-14; I Thessalonians 3:8; James 5:19-20; & II Peter 1:4-10.

Here are several other sample scriptures that reveal eternal life is not an eternal possession now and will not be until the end of a life of holiness:

Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-29; Mark 16:15; Matthew 12:31-32; Acts 5:3, 32; 7:51; I Corinthians 3:16-17; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; Matthew 19:28-29; Romans 2:7; Romans 6:21-23; Romans 5:21; Galatians 6:7-8; I Timothy 1:16; I Timothy 4:8; I Timothy 6:12, 19; Titus 1:2; 3:7; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13; 3:7; I John 2:25; Jude 20-24; Daniel 12:2; John 5:28; Matthew 25:46; Matthew 7:13-14; etc.

Here are several more plain scriptures that demonstrate men have to continue to the end to be saved:

Matthew 10:22; Romans 6:21-23; Hebrews 3:6, 12-14; 6:11-12; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; Hebrews 10:23, 35-39; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; Matthew 19:28-29; Romans 2:7; Romans 6:21-23; Romans 5:21; Galatians 6:7-8; I Timothy 1:16; I Timothy 4:8; I Timothy 6:12, 19; Titus 1:2; 3:7; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13; 3:7; I John 2:25; Jude 20-24; Daniel 12:2; John 5:28; Matthew 25:46; & Matthew 7:13-14.

Here are a few more scriptures that demonstrate the promises and covenants of God are conditional

John 5:14; John 8:31, 34; Revelation 2:4-5, 10, 13-16, 20-25; 3:1-4, 11, 15-19.

Here are several scriptures concerning faith and faithfulness to the end to be saved:

Acts 14:22; Romans 1:5; 16:26; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38-39; Romans 3:3; Romans 11:20-24; I Corinthians 16:13; II Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:23: I Timothy 1:19; 4:1; II Timothy 3:8; Hebrews 3:6, 12-14; 4:11; 6:11-12; 10:23-39; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13.

Here are several scriptures about saved men falling into sin and becoming lost:

Luke 8:13; Romans 11:11-24; I Corinthians 10:13; I Timothy 3:6; 6:9-10; Hebrews 6:4-6, 11; II Peter 3:17; Galatians 5:4; Romans 14:4; Jude 20-24; Romans 11:22; Acts 1:25; II Thessalonians 2:3; & Revelation 2:5-6.

Quote #5:

“John 1:17, KJV—‘For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”  Have you noticed that truth is on the side of grace, not the law?’”

Chapter 2, page 12

NOTE:  The point of truth being on the side of grace goes to show that grace must still be tempered with truth.  Are God’s laws “lies” because they were in the Old Testament?  Is “truth” sided AGAINST the law because of its connected usage with grace?  NO!!!  It only shows that LIKE THE LAW, GRACE must still be partnered with TRUTH!

Quote #6:

“Grace is personal and came as a person—the person of Jesus Christ.  The law is hard, cold and impersonal.  You cannot have a relationship with two pieces of stone.  But grace is gentle and warm.  Grace is not a teaching or doctrine.  Grace is a person and you can have a relationship with a person.”

Chapter 2, page 12

NOTE:  Grace—Jesus.  Law—stone.  Grace—warm and fuzzy.  Law—hard and cold.   Grace—person.  Law—doctrine.  Grace—good.  Law—bad.  Interesting use of metaphors; but however you try to distinguish the law from grace you must still recognize that Jesus THROUGH GRACE FULFILLED LAW, as opposed to through grace God looked past His state of lawlessness (how many modern preachers would foolishly characterize grace today).

Quote #7:

“Therefore, when you know and believe that Jesus has fulfilled completely the righteous requirements of the law, the devil cannot use the law to condemn you every time you fail.”

Chapter 2, page 15

NOTE:  The idea suggested here seems to be that a revelation of Christ’s fulfillment of the law removes condemnation; however, it also infers that this revelation will do nothing to prevent ongoing failure.  The main problem with this statement is it leaves the believer condemned to failure while promising a removal of condemnation for his failure.   Must we settle for such cheap grace?  Can we not believe for grace to do more than help us feel better while we fail?  Let’s instead believe God to not only remove the sense of condemnation, but to remove the failure that brings the condemnation!

Quote #8:

“I told my minister friend that I actually do not agree that grace should be a topic in a Bible school’s curriculum.  Grace is not a topic—grace is the gospel…Grace is not a theology.  It is not a subject matter.  It is not a doctrine.  It is a person, and His name is Jesus.”

–Chapter 3, page 24

NOTE:  (Sigh.)  Is this not a self-refuting paragraph?  Is this not a topical & theological book on the doctrine/subject matter of grace?  While there is nothing terrible or wrong with making an association of grace with the person of Christ Jesus, let’s go ahead and make the association of Christ Jesus and the Word made Flesh as well.  You see, studying the Word (even the Old Testament—GASP) actually brings us closer to the person of Jesus.  I suggest that a chief bi-product of this intimacy with the Word made flesh is sound doctrine concerning grace.  I would also suggest that a person who teaches doctrine without acknowledging it as such smells “fishy.”  Sort of like saying, “I am the great and powerful Oz so…ignore the man behind the curtain!” or “Since my doctrine on grace IS Jesus Himself—don’t doubt Jesus by questioning me!”  Nice catch-22.

Quote #9:

“So when they [preachers] see sin, they preach more of the law!  That, my friend, is like adding wood to fire because the strength of sin is the law.  Sin is strengthened when more law is preached!  But the power to have dominion over sin is imparted when more grace is preached!”

Chapter 3, page 26

NOTE:  First, let’s properly understand the context of “the strength of sin is the law” taken from I Corinthians 15:56: “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.”

Is this verse in any way implying that the law makes people sin MORE, as the author suggests?   What is this verse saying?

First, let’s look at the first part of the verse: “the sting of death is sin”.  What is this saying?  Simply put, sin makes death painful.  No problem there.  The sting of death is sin.  Sin is the sting of death.  In short, sin stings.

Now the second part:  “…and the strength of sin is the law” or, in other words, “and the strength of [the sting of death] is the law.”  So…the law makes the sting of death, a.k.a. sin, hurt more.

Now, is this in any way saying the law makes people sin more?  No, it is saying the law makes people hurt more because the effect of sin is made apparent in their lives.  No different than spanking a child.  Does spanking a child make the child sin more, even though the scriptures recommend it?  You might make the case that giving a spanking provokes a child to sin (if not properly applied), but the purpose of the spanking is for the child to associate their sin with pain.  No more, no less.  The purpose of the law is the same:  to associate sin with pain.

So, preaching the law may be adding wood to the fire, in the sense that the person living in sin who hears it feels its pain to a greater degree, but the sting of sin must be felt before the salve of grace is applied to any purpose.  The law can be prescribed like pouring alcohol on an open cut:  its purpose is not to stop the pain, it’s to treat the wound.  The law and grace work together and this is a necessary partnership—because the greater problem of sin is not that we FEEL it; it’s that we keep doing it!  Grace is then applied and preached to restore the sinner AFTER the sinner not only escapes the pain of sin (felt more intensely through the law) but flees sin itself!  The law brings necessary pain to the unrepentant; then after repentance, grace converts the sinner and the pain of sin, condemnation, and the sin itself, is fully dealt with and removed from a person’s life!

Quote #10:

“They say that God gives you the gift of righteousness, on the condition that you keep the Ten Commandments for the rest of your life to remain righteous.  Now, is this a real gift?  Come on,  when God gave you the gift of righteousness, it was a real gift.  Stop trying to earn it with your own works.  God’s gifts to us are unconditional!”

                                                                                                                             Chapter 3, page 28

NOTE:  The gift God gave us was “righteousness” itself.  If you sin, you reject the gift.  It is a ridiculous and dishonest proposition to suggest that since we were given the gift of righteousness, we are righteous whether we are righteous or not (See the entire book of I John).  Obviously, God’s gifts ARE conditional in the sense that if He gives us the gift of righteousness, we should BE righteous, and not just assert that the gift means we have an unconditional claim on righteousness.

Quote #11:

“My friend, righteousness is a gift because of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross for you.  All your sins—past, present and future—have been washed clean by His precious blood.  You are completely forgiven and from the moment you received Jesus into your life, you will never be held liable for your sins ever again.”

Chapter 3, pages 28-29

NOTE:  Unconditional forgiveness.  Herein lies the root of error that leads to so many heresies.  All of this quote is true save one important point that makes the difference between a truth and a lie:  righteousness is a gift because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross for you.  All your sins—past and present—have been washed clean by His precious blood, and because of grace you don’t have to have a “FUTURE SINS TO BE FORGIVEN” category!  But if future sins happen, your prescription is not denial, it’s found in I John 1:9.

Quote #12:

“…when believers don’t understand that righteousness is a gift, and that it is about ‘right standing’ and not ‘right doing’, they will depend on their own efforts to earn this gift.”

Chapter 3, page 34

NOTE:  Right standing implies right doing.  The debate, I guess would be, is right standing compatible with wrong doing?  I don’t think that’s the kind of right standing God had in mind.

Quote #13:

“My friend, those who believe that God is sometimes angry with them are still living under the old covenant of the law and not under the new covenant of grace.”

Chapter 4, page 38

NOTE:  So the cross was to convert God the Father from his temper problem against sin?  There are numerous New Testament examples that God still gets mad at both sin and sinners, through Jesus example, through the epistles’ doctrine, and through prophetic warnings of the coming wrath of God.  One only needs to read the book of Revelation to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God still gets angry; and if one reads Revelation 2-3 in particular, they will see that He still gets angry at church people from time to time, even among those He loves who live prior to the tribulation!

Quote #14:

“Schizophrenic teaching that tells you that God is sometimes angry and sometimes happy with you based on your performance is unscriptural and will make you a schizophrenic believer.  It’s time to get out of confusion and to start seeing your God for who He really is.”

Chapter 4, page 48

NOTE:  There is nothing schizophrenic about experiencing a range of emotions for people you love when they perform well or perform badly.  Evidently, the cross not only converted God from His temper problem it saved Him from being schizophrenic and acted as an anti-depressant for mood swings and anxiety.  Now He has only one emotion all the time (at least while the church is here, then after the rapture He will explode in uncontrollable rage after 2000 + years of happy, happy, happy.)

I realize no one would actually ascribe to believe the above paragraph; however, I’m trying to make the point that we sometimes go too far in our analogies about how happy God is with us that we begin to paint an illusion of the nature of God that is very different from His true Person.

Quote #15:

“Soon after the tragedy of September 11 had taken place, some believers publicly declared that God was judging America because of its sins…Come on, when Christians attribute such events to God’s judgment, terrorists would be the first to say, ‘Amen!  Preach it!’  Can you see that something is amiss when both believers and terrorists agree on the same thing?

Chapter 5, page 49

NOTE:  The devil believes in God and divine judgment, why shouldn’t some of his followers?  Can you also see that something is amiss when believers and secular humanists agree to scoff/belittle/patronize the notion of divine judgment?

Quote #16:

“Thousands of people died [referring to 9/11], and many families, friends and loved ones were thrown into grief.  How can that be the work of our loving Father?  Read the Bible for yourself.  It says that God is ‘not willing that any should perish.’”

Chapter 5, page 49

NOTE:  Reading the Bible is always sound advice…in fact, let’s start by reading the rest of the verse cited above:  “[God is] not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  This verse is in II Peter 3:9, which ironically, is a New Testament verse in the middle of a large passage of scripture dedicated to warning believers about divine judgment.  The theme being that in the last days many would scoff at the coming judgment of God, and that if men don’t repent, even though God wills to save, even though God wills that none should perish, men will still perish as part of divine judgment.

The classic argument being that these verses refer to a future judgment exclusively, and that we are in an interim period where God has (please pardon my crude theological paraphrase):  “lovingly decided to stop being judgmental because of the cross (but will have a relapse after the church is gone and judge again in the future).”

Nevertheless, one would be right in saying these verses refer to a future judgment, they do—but not exclusively.  So one must ask the question:  In this “Age of Grace” (or “justice-free Shangri-La” as the Age of Grace is often described), do men still perish?  They do.  Is the command to repent still applicable to us?  It is.  Did God decide to wink at us and ruthlessly judge everyone else by a different standard?  He did not.  In fact, I Peter 4:17-19 tells us that divine judgment not only still applies to us, it begins with us!

Jesus did not die on the cross so the Father would stop being judgmental.  He did not die on the cross to deliver us from consequences to bad behavior.  He died on the cross to provide a way of escape to those who would repent.  Though we repent, if we sin again (as II Peter 2:19-22 tells us) consequences are reinstated.

We cannot have a loving Father and an unjust one at the same time.  A loving Father punishes evil (or refuses to sanction it), to preserve righteousness in His children.  The Bible instructs natural parents to discipline (and punish, if necessary) their children.  Good parents do that.  Hebrews 12:5-29 tells us that God the Father chastens those He loves.  Revelation 3:19 tells us that Jesus rebukes and chastens those He loves.  I Corinthians 5:1-5 tells us that a church was to surrender one of their members to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit might be saved.  There comes a point when wickedness MUST be judged to preserve righteousness.

One might ask, “how can God be just and merciful at the same time?”  It is simple.  God is just in that He punishes wickedness.  He is merciful in that He forgives and pardons the penitent who turn from their crimes.  If they turn back to their sin, they must renew themselves through true repentance once again.  They are not given a lifetime pass.

Quote #17:

“I have also heard some believers pronouncing, ‘If God does not judge America for all its sins, God has to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.’ Well, let me say this with honor and respect: If God judges America today, He has to apologize to Jesus and what He has accomplished on the cross! My friend, God is not judging America (or any country in the world today).”

Chapter 5, page 49

NOTE:  Proverbs 19:28-29 says the following:

“An ungodly witness scorneth judgment:  and the mouth of the wicked devoureth iniquity.  Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.”

Divine judgment is throughout the Old Testament and was a common theme in nearly every book.  That theme was continued through our Lord Jesus in the Gospels when He declared judgment upon men, cities, nations and churches who failed to receive Him.  In fact, Jesus rebuked the religious leaders in Matthew 23:23 for NEGLECTING to teach judgment.  Many of the judgments Christ pronounced took place long after the cross.  The epistles teach and warn concerning divine judgment as well.  Hebrews 6:2 lists “judgment” as a foundational doctrine of Christ, the MILK of the Word for babes!  Yet we arrogantly or presumptuously mock the importance of it and say, “Nah, it doesn’t apply to us!”  FOOLISH!

Quote #18:

“You will never find an example of God punishing a believer for his sins in the new covenant.”

Chapter 5, page 57

NOTE:  Please see the following examples of God punishing believers for their sins in the new covenant:

(1)  Ananias & Saphira—Acts 5:1-14(2)  The Galatian church—Galatians 6:7-8

(3)  The promiscuous church member at Corinth—I Corinthians 5:4-5; II Corinthians 2:6

(4)  Christian brothers who maintain certain sins—I Corinthians 5:9-13

(5)  Hymenaeus & Alexander—I Timothy 1:19-20; II Timothy 4:14

(6)  The younger widows—I Timothy 5:11-15

(7)  Sinning brothers—I Timothy 5:20

(8)  Believers who become lovers of money—I Timothy 6:9-10

(9)  Demas—II Timothy 4:10 (see also Colossians 4:14  & Philemon 24 for confirmation he was not only a believer, but a one-time preacher)

(10)  Huge segments of the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 2-3)

Also note God’s divine judgment illustrated in the death of Herod (Acts 12:23), Elymas the sorcerer being struck with blindness (Acts 13:8-12) and God’s use of civil government to punish evil (Romans 13:1-6).

Quote #19:

“Did Jesus die on the cross to free us from committing sinful actions or harboring sinful thoughts?  If He did, then allow me to conclude with reverence that He failed.  You and I know fully well that we can still be tempted with sinful thoughts and tempted to commit sinful actions, and there will still be times when we fail.”

–Chapter 5, pages 58-59

NOTE:  To be blunt, this is a most inflammatory, heretical & unbelieving statement which is contrary to all the Word of God.  Yet, it is what so many preachers believe without saying it so recklessly.

The simple answer is “YES”; Jesus DID die to not only free us from our sins, but from our iniquities (bent towards sin) as well (Isaiah 53:5).  He didn’t just forgive us for the sins we commit.  His grace delivers us not only from the sins we commit; but from the sin nature that accompanies sin.  II Peter 1:4-10 tells us how we can stay free from sin.  I John 1:8-9 says that if we have fellowship with God but continue to walk in darkness (continue sinning) we lie.  Then it also reveals that we are cleansed and maintain freedom from sin by walking in the light.  We don’t sin as believers when we walk in the light; we sin when we walk away from it.  In which case, we do as I John 1:9 instructs, we repent and get back in the light!

Let me also say that temptation itself is not sin.  Jesus was tempted and remained sinless.  Wrong thoughts or suggestions of the devil don’t become transgressions unless acted upon (James 1:14-15).  Wrong thoughts or suggestions of the devil don’t become iniquities unless brooded about and not cast down (II Corinthians 10:5).

Grace that merely “helps sinners not transgress as much as before” is just cheap.  You don’t need salvation for that, a monastery will suffice.  Grace that not only removes sin, condemnation, & the slavery to keep committing it is the only grace worth having!  Everything else is a cheap counterfeit!  God help our unbelief!!!

Quote #20:

“…I was told that the more I knew, the more God would hold me accountable, and my punishment for falling short of His expectations would be more severe than someone who knew less…I was also taught that the closer I drew to God, the more trials and tribulations I would experience…As I grew in the Lord, He opened my eyes and I realized that the teachings that I had received were not true.”

Chapter 6, pages 61-62

NOTE:  These teachings are not lies—they are common sense.  When a believer matures, more is expected of him (James 3:1); You expect more from adults than babies because part of maturity is taking responsibility (Hebrews 5:11-14)—and yes, the more you mature, the greater trials you will face!  Adults tend to have bigger trials than babies.  This is not a fearful thing though, because adults are equipped to handle it.  The premise here is that teaching these things causes believers to shun intimacy with God for fear of greater expectations upon themselves.  Don’t worry!  If a person chooses to stay a spiritual baby to avoid growth pains they can and will.  Personally, I prefer to grow up and tap into the destiny that God has for me.  I want God to trust me to rise to His expectations because of His grace and my partnership with Jesus Christ.

Quote #21:

“You see, faith does not come by simply hearing the word of God because the word of God would encompass everything in the Bible, including the law of Moses.  There is no impartation of faith when you hear the Ten Commandments preached.  Faith only comes by hearing the word of Christ…Only when Christ is preached will faith be imparted.”

Chapter 7, page 75

NOTE:  The complexities of doctrinal confusion in this statement are so vast it is difficult to give a simple refutation.  Nevertheless, it raises some important questions for Pastor Prince:

(1)  How is “the Word of God” out of harmony with “the Word of Christ” in your estimation that makes it necessary to make this distinction?

(2)  Since the Word of God encompasses everything in the Bible, but the Word of Christ does not, which words belong to Christ, and which do not?

(3)  If the law of Moses is God-inspired, why is it not Christ-inspired as well?  Is there strife in the Godhead, or did Jesus convert the Father/Holy Spirit at the cross?

(4)  Why do only the words of Christ produce faith, but not the words of the Father or the Holy Spirit?

(5)  If the law of Moses came from God, but didn’t produce faith in them that heard it, why did so many people try to obey something they had no capacity to believe?

(6)  If the law of Moses doesn’t produce faith, why did Israel experience so many revivals when it was taught to the people (II Kings 22-23; Nehemiah 8-10)?

(7) If the Ten Commandments don’t produce faith, why has our nation sunk further into spiritual darkness since we’ve removed it from our schools, courthouses and public places?

In summary, splitting hairs between “Word of God” verses “Word of Christ” is absurd since Jesus was called “the Word made Flesh (John 1:14)”  and was in the beginning WITH God AS God called “The Word of God (John 1:1).”  Nothing that Christ ever said is out of harmony with the Father or the Holy Spirit, because they are one (I John 5:7).   All of the Word of God contains and produces faith, not just words pertaining directly to Christ Himself (see Hebrews 11:3 & Romans 4:17 for examples).  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, is considered the inerrant Word of God and is necessary for edification of the believer (II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:19-21).  No scripture is subject to private interpretation, nor is it wise to sift through scripture saying, “this is the word of Christ—this is not.”  Hebrews chapter 11 lists many who are referred to as “heroes of faith” who knew no distinction between “word of God” verses “word of Christ”, yet received faith from God’s Word anyway. 

Just for clarification, it is right and proper to teach and preach based on a revelation of Christ (like Paul did, Galatians 1:11-12) and hearing the Word of God/Word of Christ IS the method that faith comes.  However, a revelation of Christ—or an understanding of the words of Christ—are not limited to a hand-picked selection of New Testament verses.  The Word of Christ encompasses all of the Bible and INCLUDES THE LAW OF MOSES!

Quote #22:

“I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a Christian cannot commit the unpardonable sin.”

Chapter 8, page 90

NOTE:  Here are several sample scriptures that are examples of how eternal life can be lost and that the saved die again when they commit sin

Genesis 2:17; Exodus 32:32-33; Leviticus 18:24-30; 26:13-39; Numbers 25:1-8; Deuteronomy 4:23-31; Joshua 7:, 10-12; Judges 2:1-23; I Kings 14:22; II Kings 17:1-17; II Chronicles 36; Isaiah 5:24-25; Jeremiah 2:5-37;  Lamentations 1:8-9; Ezekiel 13:1-23; Hebrews 12:28-29; Psalm 69:28; Revelation 3:5; Matthew 7:21; I John 4:8, 12, 16, 21; Galatians 1:6-8; Mark 11:25-26; I Corinthians 3:16-17; Luke 8:13; John 6:66; II Corinthians 5:17; Romans 11:16; Acts 1:20, 25; Colossians 2:8-19; Jude 12-13; II Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16; Philippians 3:7-14; I Thessalonians 3:8; James 5:19-20; & II Peter 1:4-10.

Here are several other sample scriptures that reveal eternal life is not an eternal possession now and will not be until the end of a life of holiness:

Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-29; Mark 16:15; Matthew 12:31-32; Acts 5:3, 32; 7:51; I Corinthians 3:16-17; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; Matthew 19:28-29; Romans 2:7; Romans 6:21-23; Romans 5:21; Galatians 6:7-8; I Timothy 1:16; I Timothy 4:8; I Timothy 6:12, 19; Titus 1:2; 3:7; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13; 3:7; I John 2:25; Jude 20-24; Daniel 12:2; John 5:28; Matthew 25:46; Matthew 7:13-14; etc.

Here are several more plain scriptures that demonstrate men have to continue to the end to be saved:

Matthew 10:22; Romans 6:21-23; Hebrews 3:6, 12-14; 6:11-12; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; Hebrews 10:23, 35-39; Mark 10:29-30; Luke 18:29-30; Matthew 19:28-29; Romans 2:7; Romans 6:21-23; Romans 5:21; Galatians 6:7-8; I Timothy 1:16; I Timothy 4:8; I Timothy 6:12, 19; Titus 1:2; 3:7; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13; 3:7; I John 2:25; Jude 20-24; Daniel 12:2; John 5:28; Matthew 25:46; & Matthew 7:13-14.

Here are several scriptures concerning faith and faithfulness to the end to be saved:

Acts 14:22; Romans 1:5; 16:26; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38-39; Romans 3:3; Romans 11:20-24; I Corinthians 16:13; II Corinthians 1:24; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 1:23: I Timothy 1:19; 4:1; II Timothy 3:8; Hebrews 3:6, 12-14; 4:11; 6:11-12; 10:23-39; I Peter 1:5, 9, 13.

Here are several scriptures about saved men falling into sin and becoming lost:

Luke 8:13; Romans 11:11-24; I Corinthians 10:13; I Timothy 3:6; 6:9-10; Hebrews 6:4-6, 11; II Peter 3:17; Galatians 5:4; Romans 14:4; Jude 20-24; Romans 11:22; Acts 1:25; II Thessalonians 2:3; & Revelation 2:5-6.

Quote #23:

“A believer has already received the gift of eternal life and will never be “subject to eternal condemnation.”

Chapter 8, page 92

NOTE:  See scriptures from previous quote.  Particularly the scriptures that reveal eternal life is not an eternal possession now.

Quote #24:

“…some of the words which Jesus spoke in the four gospels…are part of the old covenant.  They were spoken before the cross as He had not yet died.  The new covenant only beginsafter the cross, when the Holy Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost.”

Chapter 8, page 92

NOTE:  (Sigh).  The gospels are the foundation for the new covenant; not merely the capstone for the old.  Jesus didn’t come to earth to teach us about the old covenant.  He certainly didn’t prep His disciples, “Guys, I want you to record the things I say and do and then ignore it because after I’m gone—none of it applies to you anyway.  A man named Paul will come who will teach you what to believe about me.  For now, I want it to be a surprise, so just keep bumbling around like idiots until I’m long gone.”

None of the gospels were written so Jesus could propagate the old covenant!  The gospel of Matthew could probably be considered the most “Old Testament” of the four gospels because it was written to Jews; and yet, the subject of Matthew from the first chapter until the last is the kingdom of heaven (of which the church is a part).  Everything about this gospel is revolutionary, and was written to convert Jews to Christianity.  Why would this gospel be used to evangelize if it was merely an extension of the Old Testament?  It wouldn’t.

The gospel of Mark and Luke were written to evangelize Romans and Greeks.  Why would they need Old Testament teachings of Jesus?  I thought evangelizing Gentile nations was a mark of the new covenant, not the old!

For Pete’s sake, the gospel of John was written to the church!

Now Jesus DID say that there were things He could not teach them yet because they were not ready to bear it; however, John 14:26 said that one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit when He comes is: “TO REMIND THE DISCIPLES WHAT JESUS TAUGHT! “  We all need that reminder.

Quote #25:

“Not everything that Jesus said was spoken to the church.  Paul’s letters were written to the church and are thus for our benefit today.  God raised him up to write the words of the ascended Jesus…That is why, when it comes to reading the Bible, I always encourage new believers in our church to begin with the letters of Paul.  (Many new believers like to start with the book of Revelation or Genesis, without first getting a foundation in the gospel of grace through reading the letters of Paul.)”

Chapter 8, page 94

NOTE:  If Paul had all the post-cross doctrine and revelation we need, why would the church need Jesus’ pre-cross teaching?  Why did Paul say we have the “mind of Christ” if all we need is the “mind of Paul?”

The answer is:  our salvation starts with Jesus, not Paul (See I Corinthians 1:13).  Our doctrine starts with Jesus, not Paul.  Our chief example of compassion, ministry, authority and power is Jesus Himself—not Paul.  Paul’s ministry began with a revelation of Jesus, not Paul coming to self-actualization.  Christ showed us how we can live through His own example.  He taught us what to believe through His own words.  When Pentecost came, a foundation of the Word in new covenant terms through the Word made Flesh was already laid.  The disciples didn’t have to make up their own doctrines after Jesus left!  They taught the good NEWS—that is, what Christ Himself had ALREADY revealed to them!

Jesus didn’t die to save His own doctrine (or the plethora of other things in this book that are wrongfully attributed to the cross)!  He’s the same yesterday, today, & forever!

Quote #26:

“Listen carefully:  We don’t have to confess our sins in order to be forgiven.  We confess our sins because we are already forgiven…I’m talking about being open with God…So confession in the new covenant is just being honest about your failures and your humanity.  It is the result of being forgiven and not something you do in order to be forgiven.”

Chapter 9, page 104

NOTE:  There is no scriptural basis for this statement anywhere and there are literally hundreds of verses to the contrary.  The term “confession” is linked to the idea of repentance, and there is no example in scripture where we are told repentance is “about being open with God” and is not necessary for forgiveness.  This statement is just another way to substantiate an already bogus doctrine that misunderstands the work of the cross.

Quote #27:

“I took I John 1:9 to the limit and it nearly drove me insane.  But what does I John 1:9 really say and to whom was it actually written?…People have actually taken this verse and built a whole doctrine around it when in actually, chapter 1 of I John was written to the Gnostics, who were unbelievers.”

Chapter 9, page 106

NOTE:  The book of I John was written as one single, cohesive letter given to one primary audience.  It is cohesive and thematic throughout and to separate the first chapter from the rest of the book as having a different audience is either dishonest, willfully ignorant or naïve at best.

So the question arises, to whom was the letter written?  If the first chapter was written to the Gnostics, then the whole book was written to Gnostics.  If the first chapter was written to the Gnostics, and then beginning in chapter two it was written to the church (as Pastor Prince later suggests), then why is chapter one included in the same letter, particularly if his letter contained no original chapter divisions, and again if it was not intended for the audience of chapter two and forward?

(I think the reason Pastor Prince insists that the first chapter only is written to Gnostics, is because the rest of the letter is indisputably written to a local assembly of Christian believers that were intimately connected with the apostle John because of the frequent usage of the phrase “my little children” that begins in the opening of chapter two.)

It makes no sense for John to write a letter to Gnostics in the opening and then the church later on.  That would be like my father, Pastor Larry, writing a letter to a church that belongs to one of his spiritual sons in the ministry, and including in the opening paragraph an address exclusively for Mormons.

If Christians are to ignore the first chapter because it doesn’t apply to them, why did John open with it?  If it was necessary to address the local Gnostics, why didn’t John put it on the end of the book, and give a disclaimer:  “Oh yeah, will you send this SEPARATE note to the Gnostics, and remember, YOU don’t need to confess your sins, if you do, you aren’t believing in the finished work of the cross!”

Perhaps Pastor Prince meant that the Gnostics addressed in the first chapter were part of the same congregation/audience—odd, but perhaps.  But if that was the case, why didn’t John single them out, like Paul did in many of his letters, when he was addressing specific people or referring to a particular group of people within a church body?

Regardless, the evidence is overwhelming that the book of I John fits together beautifully and flows perfectly without having to switch audiences after the introductory comments of the first chapter.

Quote #28:

“If you really believe that you need to confess all your sins to be forgiven, do you know what you would be doing?  You would be confessing your sins ALL THE TIME!

Chapter 9, page 107

NOTE:  This statement just comes down to a misunderstanding of confession of sins.  I will explain in a couple points:

(1)  As previously mentioned, confession of sins is inextricably linked to the act of repentance (which is an inward and outward turn from sin).  Now, if your definition of grace is, “the power to continue to sin (less often) but free of the associative feelings of condemnation”, then yes, you would be confessing all the time because your faith is set on needing perpetual bailout from God.  BUT, if your definition of grace, at least in part, is “the power to stop sinning,” then no, you would not be confessing all the time because the power of grace keeps you from perpetual sin, setting you free from not only your transgressions, but your iniquities (habitual sins, and inclinations toward sin)!

(2)  Secondly, confession is more than parroting words.  It is also more than a ritualistic recitation of sin.  Confession, in the Greek is the word “homologeo” and it means more than a recitation of words.  It could be described as entering a covenant or binding agreement with God to renounce sin—aligning your thinking, believing, convictions and viewpoints with God Himself—talking the same language!  When you see confession as strictly lip service to repentance, you miss the point and power of confession.  When you see confession as a covenant with God to cease from sin and be aligned together with Him against sin, then you understand confession not only deals with the act of sin, it deals with the propensity to sin as well.

(I recommend you see the Strong’s Concordance and the Greek word studies of Rick Renner for a better understanding of confession).

Quote #29:

“Let’s not build a whole doctrine on one verse.  If confession of sins is vital for your forgiveness, then Apostle Paul, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, has done us a great injustice because he did not mention it even once—not once—in any of his letters to the church.”

Chapter 9, page 107

NOTE: First, we dismissed the Old Testament as relevant for doctrine; then we dismissed Jesus and the gospels as relevant for doctrine; now we dismiss the relevancy of John on the simple grounds that John is NOT Paul, the apostle of grace.  At this rate, we can eventually dismiss the whole Bible because we spend so much time disqualifying its relevancy of application from one portion to another, we might as well join the Mormon church!

Do we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God or don’t we?  Do we believe the books of the Bible are flawless and in perfect harmony together or don’t we?  Then let us STOP suggesting that the vast majority of the Bible, including the gospels and other New Testament writers, are out of step with the Pauline revelation!

But for the sake of clarity, Paul taught the same doctrine as Jesus and John.  When we talk about confession of sins, we are talking about repentance.  This is not a separate and unusual doctrine that Paul omitted because it wasn’t relevant.  Paul taught and demonstrated the doctrine of repentance throughout his letters and the Book of Acts.  He referred to the doctrine of repentance as foundational doctrine for believers.  He categorized it as “milk”, as “elementary”, as “first principle” (see Hebrews 5:11-6:1).  There are plenty of both Old and New Testament verses that confirm the clear link between confession of sin and repentance.

On the same token, if confession of sins is NOT vital for forgiveness, then Apostle Paul, who wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, has done us a great injustice because he did not mention it even once—not once—in any of his letters to the church!  Of course, for him to do so, would have been contrary to all other scripture, and therefore, uninspired by God.

Quote #30:

“When there were people in the Corinthian church living in sin, he [Paul] did not say, ‘Go and confess your sins.’  Instead, he reminded them of their righteousness, saying, ‘Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?’  Notice that in spite of their sins, Paul still considered them temples of the Holy Spirit and he reminded them of this truth.”

Chapter 9, page 107

NOTE: Paul was not reminding them of their righteousness—they weren’t (Is this hard?).  He was reminding them of their purpose.  He was reminding them they were made to actually be righteous.

Quote #31:

“When we understand this verse [I John 1:7], we realize that even when we sin, we sin in the realm of light!  So, if we sin in the light, we are cleansed in the light, and we are kept in the light.  This idea of us going into darkness when we sin is not from the Bible.”

Chapter 9, page 108

NOTE:  The idea of us going into darkness when we sin CAME FROM THE BIBLE!

Let’s read the aforementioned passages together (including the skipped over verse 8):

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—I John 1:7-9

It says, “if we walk in the light as He is in the light…”  This means walking in the light AS CHRIST WALKS in the light.  Does Christ walk in sin in the light?  I don’t think so!  What are these verses saying?  When you walk in the light, you are cleansed by the blood of Jesus!  If you have not dealt with sin because you deny its presence (or a false grace teacher tells you to ignore it), you are self-deceived.  However, if and when you do sin, you are cleansed through confessing it (a.k.a.—repentance).

Quote #32:

“Did you know that even the word “cleanses” in I John 1:7 is really beautiful?  In the Greek, the tense for the word “cleanse” denotes a present and continuous action, which means that from the moment you receive Christ, the blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing you.  It is as if you are under a waterfall of His forgiveness.  Even when you fail, this waterfall never stops.  It keeps on keeping on, cleansing you from ALL your sins and unrighteousness.”

Chapter 9, pages 108-109

NOTE: Admittedly, I am no expert on Greek—especially Greek verb tenses.  However, I have no problem with the idea of the blood of Jesus providing perpetual cleansing.  I would even tend to agree with Joseph Prince that the cleansing in verse 7 is different from the cleansing in verse 9.  The problem lies in the notion that being perpetually cleansed means perpetually sinning.  I’m not sure “waterfall of perpetual forgiveness” is how I would describe this verse’s meaning either.

The best way I could describe the different types of cleansing here is: one type of cleansing is for falling into sin; the other type of cleansing is for staying free from sin.  Even though I believe through the power of grace I can stop sinning, I still live in a world corrupted through sin—and I need the blood of Jesus to keep me from falling.  I need to keep my mind renewed by the washing of the Word; I need to fellowship with God through prayer; I need to fellowship with people of like-faith; etc. etc.  We are cleansed people who for the time being, live in a very dirty environment that permeates all of the five senses.  We need the blood of Jesus to keep the filth out of our hearts and minds.  This doesn’t make us sinners; it just means we need spiritual maintenance.

Quote #33:

“In I John 2:1, John addressed the believers as ‘My little children’…and went on to say, ‘These things I write to you, so that you may not sin.  And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ.’  Notice that John did not tell the believers, ‘If anyone sins, make sure that he confesses his sins.’  No, his solution for a believer who sins is to point him to the finished work of Jesus.”

NOTE:  This is misleading.  Notice our Advocate is a Person, not an event.  Also note that Jesus did not die on a cross to save us from the act of repentance.

Quote #34:

“Did the cross make a difference or not?  Jesus Christ has already delivered all believers from the covenant of law which condemns.”

Chapter 10, page 117

NOTE: Jesus Christ did not die on the cross to save us from the Old Testament that God Himself authored.

Quote #35:

“For generations, the church has believed that by preaching the Ten Commandments, we will produce holiness.  When we see sin on the increase, we start to preach more of the law.  But the Word of God actually says that “the strength of sin is the law.”  It also says that “sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace”.  So the power for the church to overcome sin is actually found in being under grace and not in reinforcing the law.  Preaching more of the law to counteract sin is like adding wood to the fire!”

Chapter 10, page 121

NOTE: Chapter ten is actually the best chapter so far at describing the differences between “law” and “grace”; however, many of the inferences concerning the law are not accurate.

Sample false inference:   “Since the law of Moses was referred to in II Corinthians 3:7-9 as the ministry of death and condemnation, THEN teaching the law will bring people into bondage, make them sin more, etc.”

A few additional points about the law (see my comments under quote #1 & quote #9):

(1)  While the law of Moses is no longer in force, the laws of the kingdom ARE IN FORCE! In addition, virtually ALL of the moral law of the Old Testament is included in the new covenant (with the exception of keeping the Sabbath which was ceremonial law—but even in the case of the Sabbath, the spiritual and moral principles behind keeping the Sabbath are still passed on in the new covenant).  Actually, in the New Testament we are given 1050 commands for New Testament Christians to obey!  (See Dake study Bible, under heading “New Testament Commands for complete list).  Therefore, it is a misunderstanding of the covenant of grace to believe the teaching of “law” brings bondage and causes us to sin more.

(2)  There is a vast difference between not being “under the law” and being “without the law”.  Being under grace does not mean we are exempt from obeying laws.  It means we are not under penalty of the law because grace enables us to KEEP the law!

It is not presumption to believe we can keep the laws God gave us.  It is presumption to believe God gave us laws we could not fulfill since He gave us His grace to fulfill them!

(3)  Even though the law of Moses is obsolete because a new contract has been written, the law is still used to convert the sinner before grace is extended!

  • Consider the words of Jesus to the Pharisees in John 9:39:  “…I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.”  Why did Jesus add that last part about making those who see blind first?—Because if a man will not recognize his own blindness; he cannot be made to see.  The law is that which God uses to kill before new life can come!  (Also see Galatians 2:19)
  • Consider I Peter 5:5b:  “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  So if God Himself REFUSES to give the gospel/good news of grace to everyone; but ONLY gives grace to the humble, what does that mean?  It means that if pride is in your heart, God will not reveal His grace to you until you are made humble first!  What tool then does God use to humble the proud to find grace and repentance?  THE LAW!
  • Consider these quotes:
    • “The true function of the law is to accuse and kill; but the function of the gospel is to make alive.”—Martin Luther
    • “Although the law serves as a guide to genuine believers, its primary function is to kill and destroy self-righteousness.  All hope in our good works must be put to death if we are ever to depend on Jesus, who alone can bring life.  The law brings that necessary death.”—Kirk Cameron (even the guy from “Growing Pains” gets this!)  J
    • “The unsaved are in no condition today for the Gospel till the Law be applied to their hearts, for ‘by the Law is the knowledge of sin.’  It is a waste of time to sow seed on ground that has never been ploughed or spaded!  To present the vicarious sacrifice of Christ to those whose dominant passion is to take fill of sin is to give that which is holy to the dogs.”—A.W. Pink
    • “He that sows without a plow will reap without a sickle.  He who preaches the gospel without preaching the Law may hold all the results of it in his hand, and there will be little for him to hold.”—Charles Spurgeon
    • “You must preach the Law, for the gospel is a silken thread, and you cannot get it into the hearts of men unless you have made a way for it with a sharp needle; the sharp needle of the Law will pull the silken thread of the gospel after it.”—Robbie Flockhart

(4)  Knowing the law of the Lord (a.k.a. the Bible) helps us grow in our relationship with God and have better discernment for the spiritual battles we face.  As Paul told us in II Timothy 4:3 concerning the last days, “the time would come when men would not endure sound doctrine.”  Since one of the greatest tools of Satan in the last days will be deceiving people away from sound doctrine, can we not see the dangers of ignoring HUGE portions of the scripture because they talk about laws?  This is NOT studying to show ourselves approved (II Timothy 2:15)!  Must we continue to insist that people who stick with the scriptures for doctrine are “legalists”?  To quote a frequently used phrase from Pastor Prince, “Come on!”  Can we really better keep the spirit of the law by ignoring the letter altogether?

If David could wax eloquent in the Psalms about loving the law of the Lord, keeping His commandments, meditating on them day and night, etc.  Why can’t we love God’s laws too—ESPECIALLY in the age of grace!

(5)  II Timothy 3:15-17

  • The source of equipment for all end-time believers is the entire Bible
  • All scripture is given
    • Either the whole Bible is the Word of God, or the whole Bible is wrongWe cannot pick and choose and say that the writers of certain passages missed God, while the writers of other passages were right on!  That’s arrogance, deception, and frustrates the spirit of Grace!
    • The whole Bible is flawless in context and in perfect harmony, there are no contradictions, only misconceptions; it takes a man who doesn’t know the Holy Spirit to confuse something so simple and so direct!
  • By inspiration of Godevery book in the Bible was planned and directed of God
  • Profitable for doctrine—all Scripture interprets and supports all other scripture; there are no scriptures that are contradictory, only misinterpreted; all scripture forms the basis of our belief system; all scripture may be used to convince men of truth
  • Profitable for reproof—all scripture provides evidence of truth
  • Profitable for correction—all scripture exposes deception and wickedness, as well as lays out consequences and guides to righteousness
  • Profitable for instruction in righteousnessall scripture provides a guide for daily Christian living
  • Completion of the man of God—all scripture in proper application brings us to perfection
  • Full equipment for every good work—all scripture and its understanding will produce demonstrations of the spirit and of power

Enough said.

Quote #36:

“When dealing with any problem in life, we want to get to its root…The world has found that many sicknesses and diseases are linked to a root called stress…The world has also identified fear as the root cause of stress…The Lord showed me a root that was deeper than stress and fear…The Lord showed me that the deepest root is condemnation.”

Chapter 11, pages 129-131

The Bible teaches that there is an even DEEPER root than that!  For after all, what causes condemnation?  SIN!!!

            To quote something I heard my dad once say, “Condemnation is the ‘stink’ of sin.”

Ignoring the sin-problem to focus on the condemnation-problem is like spraying Febreeze instead of taking out the trash!

I don’t mean to belittle the problem of condemnation; but let’s examine the source of it as well.

Is condemnation a real problem in the church?  You bet it is!  I’ll tell you why in a nutshell:  cheap grace & ineffective altar calls.

Consider this quote taken from a theology textbook I researched at a local university:

“One of the most important changes in Evangelical life in the 20th century has been the consistent loss of the centrality of the experience of repentance.  Perhaps this is a point at which evangelicals have been influenced by the liberal tendency to downplay sinfulness and to emphasize the positive aspects of human ability, but 20th century evangelicals have tended to press unconverted persons to an immediate experience of conversion, in which there is little or no room for the extended period of repentance that characterized earlier evangelicalism.  Some evangelicals, concerned with the contemporary renewal of interest in Christian spirituality, have lamented the loss of the place of repentance in the way of salvation and have worked to restore a balanced understanding of repentance as significant to evangelical life.”

Christian Confessions by Ted Campbell, p. 230

In short, we’ve minimized the importance of repentance in our evangelistic efforts and are reaping the consequences from that negligence.  Our churches are full of people who struggle with condemnation primarily because our churches are full of people who struggle with sin.  Faith without repentance is nothing more than mental ascent—and mental ascent will leave you in a condemned state.

So how does one deal with the problem of condemnation?  It’s found in II Corinthians 7:9-11:

“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.  For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

           These verses are powerful!  They tell us two very important things:

(1) Godly sorrow leading to repentance is the antidote to condemnation!

(2) Conversely, rejection of godly sorrow is a major factor in why people lose their passion for God!  Which incidentally, rejection of godly sorrow is also a major factor in why people turn away from sound doctrine and run to “itching ear” preachers!

Quote #37:

“An evil conscience is one that is perpetually conscious of sin and failure, and typically expects punishment.  It is a conscience that is under condemnation.”

Chapter 11, page 132

NOTE:  An evil conscience is one that ceases to work, failing to recognize sin as evil, having been seared!  See the following scriptures that bring clarity to a good conscience versus an evil conscience: 

A good conscience:  Acts 24:16; II Corinthians 1:12; Romans 9:1; I Timothy 1:5; Hebrews 13:18; I Peter 3:16

A bad conscience:  I Timothy 1:19; I Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:15

Quote #38:

“ ‘But Pastor Prince, how can I differentiate between the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin and the accuser hurling condemnation at me?’…The bottom line is that the Holy Spirit never convicts you [a believer] of your sins…I challenge you to find a scripture in the Bible that tells you that the Holy Spirit has come to convict you of your sins.  You won’t find any!  The body of Christ is living in defeat because many believers don’t understand that the Holy Spirit is actually in them to convict them of their righteousness in Christ.  Even when you fail…”

Chapter 11, pages 134-135

NOTE:   Numerous scriptures bring clarity to the fact that the Holy Spirit, DOES IN FACT convict us of our sins and this is not the same thing as receiving accusations from the “Accuser of the Brethren.”  Consider the following:

(1)  The simple difference between the Holy Spirit convicting us of sin and the Accuser of the Brethren accusing us of sin is this:  The Holy Spirit is telling the truth and the devil is lying!  When conviction of the Holy Spirit comes, it is for the purpose of being liberated from sin and condemnation through repentance; when the Accuser comes, it is for the purpose of slandering the innocent.  So, simple rule of thumb:  if you have sin in your life, the devil has no need to slander you.  If you don’t, the devil has EVERY reason to slander and accuse you!

(2)  The Holy Spirit CLEARLY convicts us of sin for the following reasons:

  • Both the Father (Hebrews 12:5-9) and Jesus (Revelation 3:19) convict us of sin and the Holy Spirit is a witness for both of them (John 15:26).
  • The scriptures themselves convict us of sin (Hebrews 4:12-13) and the Holy Spirit teaches us the Word of God (John 14:26).
  • Believers are instructed by Jesus to carry out church discipline and a sinning member is “convicted” by two or three witnesses (Matthew 18:15-17).  If it’s appropriate for church people to do these things, then how much MORE appropriate is it when God Himself does it through the Holy Spirit?
  • Apostle Paul, by inspiration of the Holy Ghost (II Peter 1:21), instructed both Timothy (II Timothy 4:2) and Titus (Titus 1:13 & 2:15) to confront, rebuke, correct, and convince rebel church members of sin and false doctrine; therefore, if it is appropriate for conviction of sin to come through man by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, then conviction of sin is a work of the Holy Spirit
  • The human conscience is where conviction of sin takes place (John 8:9; Romans 2:15; etc.) and the Holy Spirit speaks to man through his conscience (Romans 9:1; I John 2:20); therefore, when man needs to repent, conviction of the Holy Spirit takes place
  • The Bible plainly states that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin (John 16:8-11—Please see my notes under the next point for further clarity on these verses)

(3)  It is true—a work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our righteousness in Christ; it is not true however, that the Holy Spirit convicts us of how righteous we are WHEN WE SIN!   He may convict us of our PURPOSE for righteousness and our POTENTIAL for righteousness; but He is the Spirit of Truth and will not flatter us into a false sense of righteousness.

Quote #39:

“When He [Jesus] said that the Holy Spirit would come to ‘convict the world of sin’ [John 16:8]because they do not believe in Him, it is clear that He was referring to unbelievers because they are of ‘the world.’  And notice that the Holy Spirit does not convict the world of ‘sins’ (plural).  It is only one ‘sin’ (singular) that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of, and that is the sin of unbelief, the sin of rejecting Jesus and not believing in His finished work…So the Holy Spirit is present to convict unbelievers of that one sin of unbelief…”

Chapter 11, pages 136-137

NOTE:  Let’s look at John 16:8-11:

“And when He [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

Note the following points:

(1)The “world” does not and CANNOT refer exclusively to unbelievers in this statement and CAN ONLY refer to all men/all mankind for the following reasons:

  • Though the term “the world” can be used to refer to the world system characterized in unbelievers (I John 2:15), the term “the world” is used in other scriptures to signify all mankind (see John 3:16).
  • “Conviction of sin”, “conviction of righteousness” and “conviction of judgment” are three separate categories of conviction directed at ONE audience:  “the world.”  Why would the Holy Spirit EXCLUSIVELY convict unbelievers of sin, righteousness and judgment—and leave the believers “un-convicted” in these areas?  On the same token, why would the Holy Spirit EXCLUSIVELY convict believers of sin, righteousness and judgment—and leave UNbelievers UNconvicted and UNevangelized.  The only logical and biblically-consistent conclusion is that the world refers to all mankind.
  • Both believers and unbelievers experience conviction by the Holy Spirit in all three areas.
  • The term “the world” is used to give distinction to the idea that conviction of the Holy Spirit is for ALL men (Gentiles included), and not just an exclusively Jewish audience.

(2)  This verse is not implying the Holy Spirit convicts the world of one sin ONLY—as Pastor Prince puts it, “the sin of rejecting Jesus and not believing in His finished work.”  A believer/unbeliever can experience conviction from ANY and ALL sin—so what does this mean? 

The term “sin” is singular because it is ONE category that includes a MILLION-BILLION things!  This verse is not saying the only sin (or the only sin that matters) that the Holy Spirit convicts us of is the sin of not believing in Jesus!  It is saying all sin is ROOTED in unbelief.  The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin “BECAUSE they do not believe in Me”.  In other words, it is not saying the Holy Spirit convicts us of the sin of unbelief and rejecting Jesus (though technically true); it is saying the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin BECAUSE of unbelief and rejecting Jesus!

Quote #40:

“If the Holy Spirit never convicts you the believer of your sins, then what does He convict you of?  Jesus says that the Holy Spirit convicts you “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more”.  Now who is Jesus talking about here?  Believers or unbelievers?  Clearly, with the use of the second person pronoun “you”, Jesus was referring to believers.  The Holy Spirit was sent to convict believers of righteousness.”

Chapter 11, page 137

NOTE:  Jesus is talking about believers AND unbelievers, as explained in the previous point.  The use of the second person pronoun “you” simply means “you the audience” are included in “the world” to whom the Holy Spirit convicts.

The Holy Spirit convicts both believers and unbelievers alike of sin (wrong-doing based in unbelief) and righteousness (right doing, right living, the vanity of man’s righteousness apart from God, Christ our Righteousness, etc.)  Jesus did not change audiences mid-sentence.

Quote #41:

“Today, there are some believers who believe that the Holy Spirit is in them to convict them not just of their sins, but also of God’s anger and judgment toward them.  This is just not true either…When Jesus said [John 16:11], ‘of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged,’ who was He referring to?  Believers or unbelievers?  The answer is neither.  He was referring to ‘the ruler of this world’, as plainly stated in the verse.”

Chapter 11, page 143

NOTE:  The conviction of judgment is still addressed to “the world” (verse 8), not Satan.  (See notes on Quotes #39-40).  The context of the verse is not “the world is convicted that Satan is judged” either (though that may be part of it).  Again, the verse is saying the Holy Spirit convicts the world of judgment BECAUSE Satan is judged!  In other words, since Satan is judged, we must be convicted of judgment to not share his fate!

Quote #42:

“The accuser is an astute legal prosecutor who will not hesitate to use the Ten Commandments to condemn you.  That’s why the Word of God declares that the Ten Commandments are not just ‘the ministry of death,’ they are also ‘the ministry of condemnation [II Corinthians 3:7, 9]’…That’s why Apostle Paul said that the ‘commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me[Romans 7:10-11].’  Notice that sin ‘by the commandment’ deceived him and killed him.  What that means is that when Paul came under the old covenant of law, he too came under the ministry of death and condemnation.  The law always ministers condemnation.”

Chapter 12, page 145

NOTE:  With regards to the “accuser” condemning us with the Ten Commandments:

Let’s remember that the very nature of “the Accuser of the Brethren” is as a liar, one who slanders the innocent, not rightly condemns the guilty…and yes, Satan is an expert at twisting the Word of God into a weapon of deception (see Garden of Eden & Jesus in the Wilderness).

With regards to the Ten Commandments as a “ministry of death and condemnation”:

Let’s look at II Corinthians 3:7-9 for context:

“But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious?  For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory.”

Notice these verses are contrasting covenants in the Old and New Testaments.  This is not a text that is critiquing the law as a tool of Satan for making us feel bad for sin.  In fact, BOTH covenants are referred to as “glorious”, and when the old covenant is referred to as “the ministry of death” and “the ministry of condemnation”, it is comparatively speaking.

However, the law certainly IS a ministry of death and condemnation to those who rebel against God (see Hebrews 3:7-19)—and this is JUST and RIGHT!  For if man will not receive the Word of God by faith and trust in Him, he will be condemned by the lawregardless of which covenant you live under!

Notice the characteristics of those who received the law as a ministry of death and condemnation as they are described a few verses later in II Corinthians 3:14-16 from the Amplified version:

“In fact, their minds were grown hard and calloused [they had become dull and lost the power of understanding]; for until this present day, when the Old Testament (the old covenant) is being read, that same veil still lies [on their hearts], not being lifted [to reveal] that in Christ it is made void and done away.  Yes, down to this [very] day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their minds and hearts.  But whenever a person turns [in repentance] to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away.”

So here we have an illustration that in both covenants, new and old, the law is a ministry of death and condemnation to those who stay in unbelief and refuse repentance.

With regards to sin deceiving Paul by the law:

Let’s look at Romans 7:10-11 for context:

“And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.”

These verses are part of Paul sharing his testimony of his slavery to sin through the law PRIOR to being converted.  Notice the source of Paul’s deception and death:  it was NOT the law—it was SIN!  Because Paul was an unconverted sinner, all his attempts to be a good law-abiding Pharisee apart from Christ caused him to be deceived and condemned.

In fact, Paul makes sure to emphasize that he had a “law-problem” BECAUSE he had a “SIN-problem”!  (See Romans 7:13).

With regards to the law ALWAYS ministering death and condemnation:

(1)  Read Psalm One:  meditating in the law of the Lord leads to prosperity, health, vitality, blessings and fruitfulness.  None of those things sound like death or condemnation.

(2)  Read Psalm 119.  The law ministers a lot of things here.

(3)  Perhaps it is ONLY the law of Moses that is referred to as ALWAYS ministering death and condemnation?  It didn’t minister death and condemnation to Joshua and Caleb!  In fact, look at Joshua 1:7-8:

[God speaking]Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which my servant Moses commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.  ‘This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Quote #43:

“The law stirs up sinful desires in man’s flesh.  Let me tell you that as long as you are in your current body, you will have the propensity to sin.  I did not come up with this.  It was Paul who said, ‘For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.’[Romans 7:15]

Chapter 12, pages 147-148

NOTE:  Paul was illustrating the depth of his slavery to sin BEFORE CHRIST (Read the opening chapter of “Misunderstood Texts of Scripture” by Asa Mahan and see his exposition of Romans chapter seven).  The more Paul studied the law and tried to keep it apart from salvation through Christ, the more in bondage to sin he became.  He was not setting a template for typical Christian living!  He was describing the self-righteous man that he was, attempting to keep the laws of God without conversion to Christ!

            Let me tell you—NO!  As long as you are in your body, you do NOT have to keep your propensity to sin!  THIS IS NOT THE TESTIMONY OF A REGENERATED MAN!!!

Quote #44:

“Paul was faced with the same struggles that you and I are faced with today.  His lament is recorded in Romans 7…But Paul does not stop there.  He goes on to show us in the first verse of Romans 8 how we can counter the accuser’s attacks…There is NOW NO CONDEMNATION to those who are IN CHRIST JESUS!…That is it, my friend—no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, period.  There are no conditions and no prerequisites…So the good news that he [Paul] was declaring is that even when there is sin, there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Chapter 12 pages 148-150

NOTE:  The reason there is NOW no condemnation in Christ Jesus, is because Paul is NOW talking about who he is in the present tense—a new creation through Christ Jesus—no longer a slave to sin!  In case there’s any confusion, Paul gives a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT testimony in Romans 8 than he just gave in Romans 7!

  • In Romans 7 he was under condemnation; in Romans 8 he has no condemnation
  • In Romans 7 he was captive to the law of sin; in Romans 8 he is free from the law of sin
  • In Romans 7 he faced  eternal death; in Romans 8 he was free from eternal death
  • In Romans 7 sin ruled in Paul’s flesh; in Romans 8 sin was condemned in Paul’s flesh through Christ Jesus
  • In Romans 7 Paul’s righteousness was unfulfilled; in Romans 8, Paul’s righteousness is fulfilled through Christ Jesus
  • In Romans 7 Paul was carnally minded; in Romans 8, Paul was spiritually minded with life and peace
  • In Romans 7 Paul is not spirit-filled; in Romans 8, Paul is filled with the same Spirit that rose Christ from the dead
  • In Romans 7 Paul was a sinner; in Romans 8 Paul’s body is dead to sin
  • In Romans 7 Paul is deceived and killed by sin in his flesh; in Romans 8 Paul has crucified his flesh
  • In Romans 7 Paul was walking after the flesh and not after the Spirit; in Romans 8 Paul is walking after the spirit and not after the flesh!

P.S.—Being IN Christ Jesus implies that you are not IN sin!

Quote #45:

“Let me give you a practical tip on how you can grow in this revelation of ‘no condemnation’:  Learn to see the Ten Commandments (the law of God) and condemnation as the same thing.  Whenever you read or think about the law, think ‘condemnation.’”

Chapter 12, page 151

NOTE:  You can’t make this stuff up folks.  Oh wait, someone just did.

Quote #46:

“‘But Pastor Prince, what happens when I sin?’  Well, does ‘NOW’ cover the moment when you sin?  Of course it does.  ‘There is therefore now no condemnation…’ is a ‘now’ verse.  The declaration is true every moment, every day.  It is true in the morning.  It is true in the night.  And when tomorrow comes, it is still true.  There is presently, continuously, no condemnation for you because you are in Christ!”

NOTE:  Wrong answer.  You are in Christ Jesus?  NOW you have no condemnation.  You just sinned?  NOW you are in sin.  Repent and get back in Christ Jesus!

Quote #47:

“Look at the parable of the prodigal son which Jesus shared…We see a father who runs toward his prodigal son to embrace him the moment he sees him from a distance.  Do you know that the father’s behavior is actually contrary to the law of Moses?…according to the law, if a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who refuses to heed his parents, that man is supposed to bring his son to the elders of the city, and all the men of his city are to stone his son to death, so that they can put away the evil from among them, and all Israel shall hear and fear [Deuteronomy 21:18-21].  That’s the law of Moses.”

Chapter 12, page 154

NOTE:  One major difference between Deuteronomy 21:18-21 and the story of the prodigal son:  the prodigal son repented/the stubborn, rebellious son who got stoned refused repentance even after chastening from both parents. While it may be true, the prodigal son may have DESERVED stoning, the repentance is key.  Even in the old covenant, God was merciful and gracious to the penitent who humbled themselves before God, turned from sin and cried out to Him.

Quote #48:

“We all know that the son was not returning to the father’s house because he had realized his mistake.  He was returning because he was hungry!”

Chapter 12, page 155

NOTE:  His hunger became a catalyst for him to realize the goodness of his father, come to his senses, resolve to repent, humble himself taking on the form of a servant, confess his sin, and return to the father.

This is an extremely presumptuous interpretation of scripture to overlook ALL that and INFER the prodigal was NOT repenting, but was in actuality, scheming for food.  There is no evidence whatsoever to accept this spurious and ridiculous interpretation.  If the prodigal was not truly repentant but just a hungry schemer, why did he plan such a far journey home and such an elaborate hoax when he could have just stolen some food from a neighbor?  Was his father the only means to obtain food?

Quote #49:

“Do you remember what He [Jesus] said to the woman who was caught in adultery?…’Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’  Now, pay close attention to this:  Jesus gave her the gift of ‘no condemnation’ before He told her to go and sin no more…the reason people are shying away from churches…is not because they are rebelling against Jesus.  It is because they have not been introduced to the Jesus who gives the guilty sinner the gift of no condemnation.

Chapter 13, page 164

NOTE:  What we see in this account of the woman caught in adultery is God’s principle of “God resisting the proud and giving grace to the humble” (I Peter 5:5; James 4:6) at work.  The adulterous woman, clearly already humbled by her sin did not require the law to do its work to convict her of her crime.  She knew she was guilty in need of forgiveness.  This is the same reason Jesus was able to dispense MORE grace to “publicans and sinners” than to the Pharisees (see Matthew 9:10-13).

Once a person’s heart is humbled to repentance, there is no further need for the law to heap condemnation upon them, there is only need for grace because the heart is prepared to receive.  That being said, this is not a proof text that Jesus indiscriminately preaches a universal “no condemnation” message to guilty sinners everywhere and therefore, in our evangelistic efforts we must exclusively say things that make people feel good about themselves.  That is rubbish!

Look again at the FULL account given in John 8:3-11:

“Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery.  And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.  Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.  But what do You say?’  This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.  But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.  So when they continued asking Him, He rasied Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’  And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.  Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last.  And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours?  Has no one condemned you?  She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’”

Notice that Jesus was surrounded by guilty sinners, but only liberated ONE from condemnation!  His message of “no condemnation” was not universal to His audience.  His message of “no condemnation” was one He gave to the humble who could receive it.  The MAJORITY, Jesus let walk away convicted of sin in their own consciences and He left them in their condemned state!  Why?  God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

The woman Jesus did not condemn, was liberated from condemnation but commanded to change course with her life (a.k.a.—repent/be converted) in the words—“go and sin no more.”  In the same scenario, a multitude of religious hypocrites were left in condemnation by the law!

What an excellent illustration of law and grace used by the Master in the same account!  This is TRUE evangelism.  If it seems hard, it could be that we have a false notion about evangelism that it is “salesmanship.”  It is not.  We are called to be WITNESSES for Christ:  making converts and disciples; not USED CAR SALESMEN for Christ: making temporary customers with marketing ploys and cheap grace gimmicks.

Quote #50:

“Now, let’s come back to the story of the woman caught in adultery.  Let me ask you a question:  Was the woman guilty?  Yes, she was, absolutely.  There is no doubt about that.  The Bible states that she was ‘caught in adultery, in the very act.’  But instead of condemning her according to the law of Moses, which required her to be stoned to death (the law of Moses always ministers condemnation and death, it cannot save the guilty sinner), Jesus showed her grace and gave her the gift of no condemnation.”

Chapter 13, page 165

NOTE:  Once again, Pastor Prince is attempting to put the Law of Moses at odds with Christ Himself.  (It is not necessary to portray Christ as an enemy of the law of Moses in order to illustrate we have a better covenant through grace).  Ironically, this is EXACTLY what the scribes and Pharisees were trying to do:   portray the words/doctrine of Christ as an enemy to the law of Moses (or portray Christ as a usurper of Roman authority, depending on how He answered).

It is true that a woman caught in adultery qualified for stoning; however, Jesus responded to their accusations referring to another law of Moses (see Deuteronomy 19:15-21), which required that in matters of criminal cases, two or three witnesses were required to establish a verdict.  In addition, the witnesses themselves were subject to inquisition based on the charge that they presented concerning someone else.  If they were found to be illegitimate, they could be subjected to the same penalty they were seeking for those they accused.

In Jesus’ act of compassion towards the adulteress, He violated no laws of jurisprudence.  Her accusers withdrew to save their own skin and the case was dropped!

Quote #51:

Anyone who is living in sin is not under grace and has not experienced the gift of no condemnation.  Grace always results in victory over sin!”

Chapter 13, page 167

NOTE:  This is TRUE actually!  It doesn’t negate the first 50 quotes of error bordering on heresy given in the first half of the book that suggest the opposite, but it’s something!

Quote #52:

“Let’s continue with what happened after the children of Israel murmured and complained.  In your Bible, it says that ‘the Lord sent fiery serpents [Numbers 21:6], and they bit the people and many of the Israelites died…All God did was that He lifted His protection when they murmured against Moses.  Remember this happened under the old covenant of law!  Praise the Lord that in the new covenant of grace that you and I are under, God WILL NEVER lift His protection over us.”

Chapter 15, page 200

NOTE:  Look at the admonition we get from Paul concerning what happened to those in the wilderness that were bitten by serpents:

“nor let US tempt CHRIST, as some of them [my emphasis added] also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.  Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for OUR admonition [my emphasis added], upon whom the ends of the ages have come.  Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”–I Corinthians 10:9-12

What about the “new covenant of grace”?  Consider Hebrews 10:28-29:

“Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?”

There are tremendous blessings and benefits to the new covenant of grace, such as prosperity, healing, righteousness, peace, supernatural endowments, etc.  These are all part of the package.  In fact, grace enables us to do the works of Christ and live as Christ demonstrated for us to live.  That being said, whether we are talking about someone who lived under the old covenant or someone living today, the principle has not changed:  DON’T TEMPT GOD!

Quote #53:

“Three items were kept in the ark of the covenant.  The first was the stone tablets on which God wrote the Ten Commandments…So the ark of the covenant is a shadow of our Lord Jesus Christ, His person and His work.  Because of His blood, all our sins have been cleansed.  That is why it was dangerous for anyone back in those days to lift the mercy seat to uncover the sins and rebellion that God had covered.  The mercy seat was not to be lifted at any time and the consequences for doing so were severe…Nobody was supposed to even take a peak at the Ten Commandments.  God doesn’t want the law to be exposed because it represents our rebellion, and it will only minister death and condemnation.  The peculiar thing is that people have made the Ten Commandments into posters that are hung in homes today, when even in the Old Testament, God kept the law hidden under the mercy seat!”

Chapter 16, pages 208-211

NOTE:  There is no question that typology is throughout the Old Testament; however, building doctrine on typologies is the least reliable method of Bible interpretation.  While some of the typologies cited above may contain elements of truth, the doctrinal inferences concerning God hiding the Ten Commandments because they represent “rebellion” is a theological foundation built of balsa wood!  It’s weak! 

The above quote is an excellent example of the allegorical method of Bible interpretation.  Finis Dake had the following comments concerning interpreting scripture through the allegorical method:

“We should reject and utterly avoid all such foolishness.  The habit of these men [those who interpret the scripture allegorically as the primary method] is to disregard the common significance of words, the grammatical construction, and the literal intention of God in Scripture.  They force into Scripture any meaning their fancy chooses, and they make the interpreter equal to God and his interpretations even better than the plain Word of God.”

The Bible is full of allegory, typology and symbolism.  That being said, if you can’t find right doctrine given literally in plain scripture, the probability of you finding right doctrine by assigning mystical meanings to Old Testament passages is slim to none!

(See “God’s Plan for Man” by Finis Dake, chapter three on “How to Interpret the Bible” or enroll in “Peacemakers School of Theology” at www.peacemakersinstitute.com.)

Quote #54:

“The Lord showed me something a number of years ago…He spoke to me and said, ‘Son, study the journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai for this is a picture of pure grace.  Not a single Israelite died during this period although they murmured and complained’…Study the Bible yourself.  You’ll find that every time the children of Israel murmured and complained, it only brought forth fresh demonstrations of God’s favor…Because during that period, the blessings and provisions they received were not dependent on their obedience or goodness.  They were dependent on God’s goodness and faithfulness to the Abrahamic covenant, which was a covenant of grace.”

Chapter 17, page 221-222

NOTE:  The “period” of grace referred to where no one died prior to Sinai where the giving of the law led to mass genocide (I’m being facetious), was a period of  only 50 days according to the departure date from Egypt (Numbers 33:3) until the arrival date at Sinai (Exodus 19:1).  So we may see without question, that God graciously refrained from killing anyone for the first 50 days, a period of time that was actually SHORTERthan the period of time between the arrival at Sinai, the construction of the calf, Moses’ intercession for the people and the actual execution of judgment upon the idolaters who continued rebellion and REFUSED to be counted “on the Lord’s side” (Exodus 32:26).

Quote #55:

“…Something tragic happened right at the foot of Mount Sinai.  In Exodus 19:8, your English Bible says that the people cried out to Moses, saying, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’  In the original Hebrew text, this is actually a statement of pride.  They were saying, ‘All that God requires and demands of us, we are well able to perform’…So they effectively exchanged covenants, from the Abrahamic covenant which is based on grace, to the Sinaitic covenant which is based on the law.”

Chapter 17, pages 222-223

NOTE:  The giving of the law at Sinai was not the chastening of God for Israel’s presumption of obedience.  If the Israelites were truly walking in the grace of God, they WERE WELL ABLE to obey the commands of God! 

Why would a just Lord deliberately give commands to His servants they could not fulfill, and then ADDITIONALLY PUNISH them for their predetermined and unavoidable failure?

Keep in mind that it was under the Abrahamic covenant (“which is based on grace”) that Israel backslid and went into captivity in Egypt for 430 years prior to the 50 day “period of pure grace” leading to Sinai.

If the Abrahamic covenant is based on grace and characterized by the unconditional favor of God, why are ONLY the last 50 days referred to as an example of this, and the 430 years prior completely ignored???

Quote #56:

“From that point onwards, every time the children of Israel murmured and complained, many of them would die.  Observe this:  Before Sinai, none died.  After Sinai, the moment they murmured, they died.”

Chapter 17, page 224

NOTE:  This is a legitimate point.  The law NECESSITATED a total consecration to God (as was required in every covenant).  But its greatest liability was it robbed man of his excuses.  Sin no longer had a place to hide.  Therefore, death was the result for those who remained in self-righteousness and were unfaithful to the God whose grace they so desperately needed.  (Yes, grace was available in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament—which is why not everyone in the Old Testament is in hell today.  See my book, “Grace Empowerment” in chapter two called “Old Testament Grace Economics” for more details).

It’s not that God did not previously expect anything from anyone before the law came, or even that He no longer expects things of us today! It’s that up to this point, man had never so clearly known what God expected of him.  Therefore, man’s true nature was revealed.

Revelation brought responsibility.  This is not Old Testament.  This is an eternal principle.  Consider the moral of Jesus’ parable of the unfaithful servant (Luke 12:42-48):  “To whom much is given, much is required.”

This does not mean the key to walking in grace is deliberate ignorance of the law!  For people die for the very opposite as well.  In Hosea 4:6 God says clearly, “My people are destroyed for LACK of knowledge” and goes on to say God’s people are also rejected for REJECTING knowledge!

Please understand:  knowledge of the law is not a hindrance to grace—it only leads to death when we ignore it, refuse it, deny it, or shun God Himself because we don’t want to abide by it!

Quote #57:

“‘But Pastor Prince, we have to preach God’s law and His judgment, or there will be no repentance from the people.’  My friend, God’s heart is never to condemn.  We want judgment, but God wants mercy.  The Bible says that ‘the goodness of God leads you to repentance.’…Nevertheless, there are still people who insist that we have to preach on repentance.  Well, I disagree!  I think that we should do it God’s way—preach the goodness of God to lead people to repentance.”

Chapter 18, pages 231-232

NOTE:  Herein lies one of the deadliest false teachings of modern times:  “we shouldn’t talk about repentance!”  Let’s break this apart to get absolute clarity on this issue:

    (1)  Concerning God’s heart to have mercy and not “condemn”:

Consider the verse from Hosea 6:6 that Jesus quoted on at least two different instances:  “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice…”  Now consider this:  Hosea 6:6 was written as a lament of God that though He desired to give mercy, He could not because extending judgment had become necessary due to the hardness of hearts in Israel.  Why was judgment necessary?  They refused repentance. 

Extending mercy is always PREFERABLE to God; nevertheless, we can find countless examples of God extending judgment.  We must conclude then, that though extending judgment is not PREFERABLE, it is not evil in and of itself—since God extends judgment so often. 

We must also conclude since God is merciful of heart, that when His judgment is extended, it is not cruel; but in fact, completely appropriate and actually carried out by the Author of mercy itself.  If then, it is appropriate for God to judge, then it is appropriate that we as WITNESSES for God not try to “market His ‘better’ qualities” but present God for who He is.

{I know that goes against popular thought on modern (failed, failing and perpetually failing) evangelism techniques, but Acts 1:8 says God gave us power to be WITNESSES for Him NOT power to be “used car salesmen.”}

Likewise, just as a merciful God extends judgment, merciful Christians teach repentance so sinners CAN AVOID IT!

(2)  Concerning the goodness of God leading men to repentance:

The preaching of judgment and repentance is not contrary to the goodness of God that leads men to repentance.

Look at Romans 2:4:

“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

This verse is not a proof text for ONLY talking about the goodness of God to lead men to repentance.  In fact, it is quite the opposite; because Paul (the apostle of grace as he’s sometimes called) is not PREACHING in these verses about the goodness of God—he is actually preaching on judgment and sin!!!  Here’s a sample of his sermon:

“who, knowing the righteous judgment of God that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.  Therefore you are inexcusable, O man…But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.  And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?  But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’:  eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil…”

–Romans 1:32-2:9

(3)  Concerning the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF PREACHING REPENTANCE!!!:

  • The preaching of John the Baptist concerning the kingdom:
    • Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand… ‘Brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?  Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.  Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire…His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire…”      (Matthew 3:2-12)
    • “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.  Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.”  (Mark 1:4-5)
  • The preaching of Jesus on repentance:
    • “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  (Matthew 3:17)
    • “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish”  (Luke 13:3 and repeated again for emphasis two verses later in Luke 13:5)
    • “…Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins shoud be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  And you are witnesses of these things.”  (Luke 24:46-48)
    • Also see Matthew 11:20-21; 12:41; 21:28-32 Revelation 2:5, 16, 21-22; 3:3, 19
  • The preaching of Jesus’ disciples on repentance during Jesus’ ministry:
    • “So they went out and preached that people should repent.”  (Mark 6:12)
  • The preaching of Peter on repentance on the Day of Pentecost that led to great revival and mass salvation:
    • “‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.’  Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’  Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…”  (Acts 2:36-38)
  • The preaching of Peter AFTER Pentecost:
    • Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”  (Acts 3:19)
    • Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.  For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”  (Acts 8:22-23)
  • The preaching of repentance by Paul in Book of Acts:
    • “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”  (Acts 17:30-31)
    • See also Acts 20:21 & Acts 26:20
  • Paul taught godly sorrow as necessary to repentance and repentance as necessary to salvation in II Corinthians 7:9-11
  • Paul listed repentance FIRST as one of six foundational doctrines of Christ (judgment  is also listed) that is necessary “milk” for Christians before they can mature as doers of the word (Hebrews 5:11-6:1)

(4)  Concerning the omission of preaching of repentance by false pastors, false prophets and false teachers:

Consider the “prophet wars” of the Old Testament.  Probably the two main themes of the TRUE prophets of the Old Testament (who wrote many of the books of the Bible) were “repentance” and “judgment.”  (Read their stories.  Find out what they had to say.  Don’t succumb to ignorance of the Old Testament because of cheap grace teachers who ignore it as irrelevant.)

What was the main theme of the false shepherds, the wicked priests and the false prophets?  We are fine as we are.  God is on our side.  We don’t need to fear God’s judgment.  Ignore the real prophets.

Now let’s take it into the New Testament to find out what God tells us preachers (through Paul) what we are supposed to preach:

“I charge [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by (in the light of) His coming and His kingdom:  Herald and preach the Word!  Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable.  [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what ways their lives are wrong.]  And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.  For the time will come when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, and will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.”—II Timothy 4:1-4 [Amplified]

In summary of this point:  PREACHERS WHO REFUSE TO INSTRUCT PEOPLE CONCERNING REPENTANCE AND JUDGMENT ARE IN DISOBEDIENCE TO GOD AND ARE HARMING THE CHURCH INSTEAD OF HELPING THEM!

Quote #58:

“…many of us have the impression that repentance is something that involves mourning and sorrow.  However, that is not what the Word of God says.  Repentance just means changing your mind.”

Chapter 18, page 233

NOTE:  There is nothing wrong with defining “repentance” in simple terms; however, this is just SIMPLISTIC and a very poor characterization meant to belittle one of the most foundational Christian doctrines.  Repentance is an inward conversion that produces an outward change.  Speaking in terms of its application to the believer, it is inseparably linked to conversion.  It consists of four parts displayed over and over again in scripture:  humility, genuine sorrow, confession of sin, and turning from sin.  It means a reversal:  a total change in direction inwardly (different attitude, feelings, & way of thinking, a new heart condition and a change of will) with outward “fruits of repentance” (speaking and acting differently).

Perhaps one could refer to repentance as “a change of mind”; but that is really an inadequate definition considering how loosely we use that terminology today!  When I think of “a change of mind” I think of my wife picking out clothes.  That does nothing to help me understand repentance!

When the Old Testament prophets, or Jesus, or Paul, or the apostles, etc. were preaching “repentance”—they weren’t saying, “Hey!  God wants you to change your mind about stuff!”  NO!  They were saying, “HEY!  God wants you to CHANGE EVERYTHING by being joined to Him in total consecration!

Consider the following scriptural examples of repentance:

  • In connection to sorrow and mourning:  Isaiah 22:12; Ezekiel 18:31; Joel 2:12; Jeremiah 31:9; Matthew 5:4; Psalm 34:18; Joel 2:13; Luke 6:21;  II Kings 22:19; Ezra 10:1; Job 42:6; Jonah 3:6-8; Mark 14:72; II Corinthians 7:10; James 4:8-10
  • In connection with humility:  II Chronicles 7:14; I Samuel 7:3; Luke 15:18; I Kings 8:46-50; Psalm 34:18; I Kings 21:27; II Kings 22:19; Ezra 10:1; Job 42:6; Luke 15:21; Luke 18:13; Isaiah 66:2
  • In connection with confession of sin:  Hosea 14:12; Acts 8:22; Ezra 10:11; Proverbs 28:13; Jeremiah 3:13; I John 1:9; Leviticus 26:40; Numbers 5:7; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:8; Luke 15:18; I Kings 8:33-35; Ezra 10:1; Job 42:1, 6; Luke 15:21
  • In connection to both an inward and outward turn: Ezekiel 14:6; 33:11; Acts 3:19; Acts 26:20; James 4:8; II Chronicles 30:9; Nehemiah 1:9; Isaiah 55:7; Ezekiel 18:21; Zechariah 1:3

Quote #59:

“Believers are often exhorted to repent from sin.  However in the New Testament, we are actually exhorted to repent from dead works…It says in the book of Hebrews [Hebrews 6:1]that the first foundation stone of our faith is ‘repentance from dead works and of faith toward God’.  Now, ‘dead works’ are not sins.  They are the religious things that people do, thinking that by doing these things, they are gaining righteousness with God.”

Chapter 18, page 234

NOTE:  This is fascinating to me on two fronts: 

Front one:  Hebrews 5:11-6:2 is a fascinating topical study because within these verses are the core doctrines of both the Old and the New Testaments and the core problem of “dullness of hearing” regarding these subjects.

Front two:  The doctrine of repentance is listed of primary importance to conversion and its theme is echoed in hundreds of scriptures in both the old and new testaments.  In the hundreds of scriptures both old and new testament that this theme is echoed, it is dealing directly with the subject of sin. Yet Pastor Prince makes a fascinating and erroneous claim that dismisses the relevancy of repentance from sin as connected to this topic WHATSOEVER!

Herein lies the major question:  Is Pastor Prince’s interpretation of the doctrine of repentance from dead works having no correlation with repentance from sin correct?

I believe Pastor Prince’s interpretation to be spurious, reckless, misleading and completely FALSE based on the following points:

(1) The broader context

The book of Hebrews was written specifically to instruct Jewish Christians concerning the conversion of covenants from Old Testament Judaism to New Testament Christianity, so even though the verses may be clearly understood by Gentiles without doctrinal contradiction, many of the references carry extra significance to Jewish people.  Understanding this paradigm will aide in rightly interpreting Hebrews 6:1, as I will now illustrate:

Look at Hebrews 6:1-2 for the full list of what is referred to as “the elementary principles of Christ”:

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrines of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection from the dead, and of eternal judgment.”

These six items (repentance from dead works, faith towards God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection from the dead and eternal judgment) are all referred to as “elementary principles of Christ.”  Why is this significant?  Because these SAME six items were ALSO considered elementary principles for making proselytes of Judaism in the Old Covenant!

For example:  “baptisms” (though it may have different connotations for us as Christians), was foreshadowed in Jewish practices—such as a one-time cleansing for Jewish proselytes converting to Judaism) and Old Testament teachings (Levitical washings, ceremonial cleansings, etc).

Consider this quote taken from the Bible Background Commentary:

“The writer [Paul] probably chooses these items as the ‘basics’ because they were the basic sort of instructions about Jewish belief given to converts to Judaism, which all the author’s readers would have understood before becoming followers of Jesus.  These items represented Jewish teachings still useful for followers of Christ [my emphasis added].  Judaism stressed repentance as a regular antidote for sin, and a once-for-all kind of repentance for the turning of pagans to Judaism.”

So, what was once considered “the basics” for converting pagans to Judaism, Paul is writing to tell us that these same subjects are still necessary for Christians and are now referred to as elementary principles of CHRIST!  Thus, what was elementary in the Old Testament remains elementary in the New Testament—repentance, faith, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection, and judgment!

In fact, look at the Greek word used in Hebrews 6:1 translated “laying again.”  It is the Greek word “katabollo”, and it means “casting down or overthrow.”

Let’s look again at Hebrews 6:1 with this new understanding of “laying again”:

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again [casting down or overthrowing] the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God”

What is Paul stressing here?  Don’t cast down or overthrow the foundational doctrines of verses 1-2!  They were foundational in the Old Testament but they are STILL foundational in the NEW Testament!

So, in the Old Testament, would the expression “repentance from dead works” include the idea of repentance from sin?  YES!!!  This hasn’t changed as foundational doctrine!

The broader context of this passage illustrates the error of dismissing sin as included in the subject of repentance from dead works.

(2)  The term “repentance” itself

Since repentance deals with the conversion of the inward man and is a foundational doctrine dealing with sin in both Testaments, it is fair to say sin would be implied already.  Repentance of dead works would still include “sin” even if not expressly stated.

(3) The usage of the term “dead works”

This term is only used here and again in Hebrews 9:14.  It is true, the term has a special connection to religious formalism done apart from God as Pastor Prince suggests; however, these are works committed in self-righteousness and are therefore sin!

In fact, look at Hebrews 9:14:

“How much more shall the blood of Christ cleanse your conscience…from dead works to serve the living God?”

If dead works do not infer sin, why do we need the blood of Christ to cleanse our conscience of them?

(4) The term “dead works” itself

The term “dead works” is understood as works/actions resulting in/deserving of DEATH!  Is sin a work/action resulting in/deserving of death?  Of course!  Therefore the idea of sin is echoed in the usage of both phrases:  “repentance” AND “dead works”.

(5) Hebrews 6:1 as it is translated in the Amplified Bible

“Let us not again be laying the foundation of repentance AND [my emphasis added] abandonment of dead works (dead formalism) and of the faith [by which you turned] to God”

Notice this translation gives special distinction to the doctrine of repentance itself and lists “abandonment of dead works” as complementary to the first, then reiterates again a third time the act of repentance implied in faith itself!

(6) The combined terms “repentance of dead works” are used together

Rather than the added phrase “from dead works” undermining the doctrine of repentance as it relates to sin, it only gives heightened understanding to the ongoing theme concerning repentance as it is used hundreds of times elsewhere: repentance is a change that is both inward and outward.

Quote #60:

“When the rich young ruler came boasting in his law-keeping, Jesus answered with the law. And the young man could hardly give a dollar to Jesus and walked away sorrowful.  But in the very next chapter, when Jesus gave no law but showed His grace, it not only opened Zacchaeus’ heart, it also opened up his wallet!”

Chapter 18, page 238

NOTE:  This is actually an excellent contrast between the law and grace.  However, rather than legitimizing abstinence from use of the law in evangelistic efforts—it actually shows that it is appropriate to use the law!

Why did Jesus use the law (not grace) when evangelizing the rich, young ruler? 

“Law to the proud, grace to the humble” as previously illustrated.  It is not that Jesus’ efforts at evangelizing the rich young ruler were unsuccessful—Jesus exposed his guilt with the same law he claimed to uphold!  This man was now closer to salvation than He had been previously, (before Jesus used the law to expose his guilt).  The man came as far as Jesus could take him, but would not humble himself in repentance to receive grace.

So why did Jesus NOT use the law when converting Zacchaeus?

Does this mean the only effective method of evangelism is through grace?  No!  It means the law had already done its work in Zacchaeus heart—he was now ready to receive grace for salvation!

ANY evangelist would ALWAYS prefer giving grace in evangelistic efforts!  That’s the EASY part!  Unfortunately, the LAW is the hard part that MUST come first—extending grace  to the unrepentant is casting pearls before swine.

Quote #61:

“You don’t have to worry about how your behavior will be governed without a consciousness of the law.  The Word of God says that grace will teach you—‘For the grace of God…has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts…’ [Titus 2:11-12]. Grace is a teacher…”

Chapter 18, page 239

NOTE:  If you have no consciousness of the law and are worried about what will govern your behavior—it is because your own conscience is telling you, “Hey you!  You need to know the law to rightly govern your behavior!”  If you REALLY want to test out this theory of grace teaching you without knowledge of the law, just put down your Bible (ignoring II Timothy 2:15), never read it again, never obey your conscience and ONLY listen to Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live:  “You are good enough; you are smart enough, and DOG-GONE it, PEOPLE LIKE YOU!”   Then send a testimony to Pastor Prince to tell him how things turned out for you!

You know how to RIGHTLY interpret Titus 2:11-12?  The grace of God appearing to all men (in the person of Jesus) CONFIRMS WHAT THE LAW ALREADY TEACHES!

Quote #62:

“In saying that ‘where sin abounded, grace abounded much more’, I am preaching the same message that Paul…preached.  What Paul meant…is this: Sin does not stop God’s grace from flowing, but God’s grace will stop sin…So where there is sin, God’s grace is in superabundance!”

Chapter 19, page 249

NOTE:  What Paul is teaching is NOT:  sin and grace share the same space and no matter how much I sin grace has got me covered!  He is saying that there is MORE THAN ENOUGH GRACE AVAILABLE to completely COME OUT of the dominion of sin in your life and NOT CONTINUE IN SIN!

Quote #63:

“When it came to wrong behavior in Corinth, Paul was cool and collected toward the believers.  He was able to handle their wrong behavior because he knew that the grace of God was able to take care of their spree of wrong behavior.  That is why he was able to speak positively to them…But when it came to wrong doctrine in Galatia, he rebuked the believers there because they nullified God’s grace by mixing it with the law.”

Chapter 20, page 258-259

NOTE:  First of all, the letter to the Corinthians was not exactly all “happy-happy” since it was primarily a book of correction; however, I would agree there IS in fact a greater degree of agitation in Paul’s letter to the church at Galatia because they had become backslidden heretics.

Secondly, what KIND of law were the people in Galatia practicing?

These people were not backslidden because they were preaching Christ and the Ten Commandments from the same pulpit; they were backslidden PRIMARILY because they substituted the ceremonial aspects of the law (man-made traditions, rituals, ceremony & pomp) for faith in God.

            Examples:

(1)  They had rejected the truth, turned from faith, and started justifying themselves by works (Galatians 3:1-5).

{This in itself is no more an indictment against the law than it was when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees.  This was an indictment against those who attempt to practice the law apart from faith in God (Christ).}

           (2)  They had begun to reinforce the ceremonial law (Galatians 4:9-10; 5:1-2)

The ceremonial law was completely done away with through Christ because it was a type and shadow of everything that Christ already fulfilled.  The laws of Moses are not applicable to us because we have a new contract through Christ.  Nevertheless, God’s divine laws are eternal and immutable.  There is no part of the new covenant that implies we are exempt from keeping God’s eternal laws of morality and faith.

(3)  They were imposing the circumcision to avoid persecution for Christ (Galatians 6:12-15).

Galatians 6:15-16 effectively sums up the gospel of grace:

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them…”

Are you or aren’t you a new creation?

This is true grace.  It does not mix with superficiality.  Whether that superficiality be cheap grace, ceremonial laws, or religious pomp.  If you are a new creation, the law is no threat to grace and you don’t have to ignore if for fear it will make sin stronger in your life.

Quote #64:

“Now would you like to know what Revelation 3:15-16 really means?  The two verses would only make sense when they are interpreted in the light of the mixture of covenants of law and grace in the church of Laodicea.  The Lord was saying that He would the church be cold—entirely under law, or hot—entirely under grace.”

Chapter 20, page 264

NOTE:  This is more allegorical preaching that pulls doctrine out of thin air.   But since Pastor Prince brought it up, mixing up covenants is a bad idea; teaching the law and grace together in their proper context is actually a GOOD idea.  That’s why it they are taught side-by-side throughout the New Testament (see response to Quote #1).

Quote #65:

“Paul told the Galatians, ‘Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace(Galatians 5:4).  This is the true definition of ‘falling from grace.’  Today, when someone sins, ministers say that the person has ‘fallen from grace.’  But Paul never told the Corinthians they were fallen from grace despite all their sins.  To fall from grace then is to fall into the law.”

Chapter 20, page 267

NOTE:  Falling from grace in this context simply means they reverted back to self-righteousness—thus, they fell into sin.

One can also do “despite the Spirit of Grace” by committing willful sin according to Hebrews 10:26-29.  One can twist the scriptures (or the teachings of Paul specifically) to their own destruction instead of “growing in grace” according to II Peter 3:15-18.   Or one can “fail of the grace of God” like Esau did in Hebrews 12:15.  Or one can invent their own doctrine of grace as a means to fulfill lust, like the ungodly men of Jude 4 did.  Either way, there is more than one way to fall from grace, whether we use this phrase or another.

Quote #66:

“The law makes everything of man’s efforts, while grace gives all the glory to God.  That is why Paul told the Galatians that the gospel is not a man-pleasing gospel.  He was essentially saying, ‘If I want to please man, I would be preaching the law.’”

Chapter 20, page 268

NOTE:  Paul was essentially saying he wasn’t a man-pleaser because he just finished saying let the other guy who is preaching a DIFFERENT gospel (the one this church just embraced), LET HIM BE DAMNED!  Paul had some grit!  I like him!  (See Galatians 1:6-10).

Quote #67:

“The question we should be asking is, ‘Did Jesus tell us to fast?’  Now, I know that when Jesus’ disciples were unable to cast out a certain spirit from a boy, the NKJV (as well as the KJV) Bible does record that Jesus, in reference to the spirit, said, ‘This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.’…But do you know that in the original Greek text, the word ‘fasting’ does not appear in that verse?  It was added by the translators!  And if you look at the NASB and NIV translations, you won’t find the word ‘fasting’ in that verse.”

Chapter 21, page 274-275

NOTE:  I don’t even like fasting J, but I feel compelled to respond anyway:

We have no way of saying that “FASTING” is not in the original Greek text BECAUSE WE DO NOT HAVE THE ORIGINAL GREEK TEXT!  What we have, are numerous copies of the original Greek text, most of which include the word “fasting.”  Which is more likely, most of the copies are wrong or a couple copies accidently left a word out?  Even the earliest copies which are considered among the highest in manuscript authorities have accidental omissions.  Nevertheless, we literally have THOUSANDS of early manuscripts to compare to determine with a great deal of accuracy what passages and words were in the original text.  Which is why it was overwhelmingly decided with very little debate from most theologians, old or new, that “fasting” should be included.  Besides that, if you believe “fasting” was a copy error, (later addition by fasting enthusiasts) in Mark 9:29, then you must make the case that “fasting” as it is recorded in Matthew 17:21 is a copy error/(later addition by fasting enthusiasts) as well.  Where does it stop?

The fact is, “fasting” was practiced by Jesus as well as in the book of Acts.  There is some dispute over its usage in I Corinthians 7:5 as well, but there is nothing unscriptural about taking a break from indulging the flesh for awhile to focus on prayer.

Quote #68:

“Now, do I fast?  Yes, I do, in the sense that many a time, I am so preoccupied with the Lord in prayer or with studying His Word that I forget to eat…I unconsciously miss my regular meals, and I even find myself forgoing sleep to be in His presence.  But I don’t consciously go on a fast, believing that fasting would get me my miracle.”

Chapter 21, page 276-277

NOTE:  So the short answer is, “Only if it’s accidental”?

Even though fasting is not something we do to try to earn God’s attention or answered prayer, it still can be beneficial to the New Testament believer.

For examples of the purpose an benefits of fasting, see the following scriptures:

Matthew 17:14-21; Psalm 35:13; II Samuel 12:16-23; Matthew 4:1-11; Psalm 69:10; I Corinthians 7:5; I Kings 21:27; Daniel 6:18; I Kings 21:27; Ezra 8:21; Esther 4; Acts 27:9; Acts 9; Matthew 6:16-18; Matthew 9:15 & Matthew 17:14-21.

Quote #69:

“When Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased…When the devil said, ‘Command these STONES to become bread,’ he was, in fact, telling Jesus to get His nourishment from the law that was written on STONES.  Now look at Jesus’ reply:  ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’…What did God just say to Jesus before He entered the wilderness?  He had said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’  This is the word that we are to live by today as well!”

Chapter 22, pages 295-297

NOTE:  To the casual observer, one would assume that when Satan told Jesus to turn stones into bread it was because He was hungry after not eating for forty days! Evidently, it was because Satan wanted Him to study the law of Moses and come under death and condemnation.  Fortunately, Jesus outwitted Satan by responding with therhema word from God:  God loves me!  (The coded exchange used by both Jesus and Satan here is so deep; it is AMAZING that either one was able to decipher the other’s witty word-plays!

Quote #70:

“The Lord told me many years ago, ‘Son, your ministry is to roll away the stone.’  Let me explain to you what this means.  In the story of Lazarus, Jesus commanded the people to roll away the stone from Lazarus’ tomb…My friend, the stone is a picture of the law.”

Chapter 22, page 298

NOTE:  Book burning anyone?

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