Enough. The church has been failing far too miserably for far too long in one specific area—dressing up Jesus.
This tragedy is rooted in movements that refuse to embrace the severity of God. Their infatuation with emotional love, intimacy and connection to the exclusion of an inner tremble and utter brokenness that can only come from a revelation of the terror of the Lord has compromised a generation.
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This puppy dog, cuddly Jesus that so many yearn for is a fantasy. If the extent of your relationship with God is enjoying his kindness and goodness to the exclusion of his terror and severity, you actually may be developing intimacy with an angel of light instead of the lover of your soul.
The church has knee-jerked away from the bold, passionate street preacher declarations in favor of a message that presents Jesus in a softer, more affirming light. The problem? Jesus is both a lamb and a lion.
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The answer to mean-spirited street preachers is not to change the message, but to change the spirit. Unfortunately, today’s Christian culture has surrendered to the accusations of hate and intolerance that have been hurled by many. So, instead of a potent, burning and convicting message, we are hearing little more than “Jesus loves you,” and “You are special.”
This methodology and theology has infected much of today’s church growth strategies and even worship. Take note of how many songs we sing today in churches all over that are about how great we are instead of how great God is. The focus is on how irresistible we are as opposed to how desperate we are—and how holy, perfect and magnificent God is.
Today’s church has dressed up Jesus, almost as an apology to the world for previous generations staying true to the truths of repentance, holiness and eternity. This new fashioned “jesus” stays well away from the topics of hell, brokenness, our depravity, surrender and anything that has even the faintest scent of negativity.
IT’S TIME TO GOVERN!
I’m disgusted at how the world has so successfully neutered so many in the church. We have been on the defensive for far too long as liberals, homosexual activists, atheists, pro-abortionists and others have continually hurled accusations of intolerance, convincing many that we don’t truly love as they do. Our response has been mostly pathetic. The church has shrunk back as the world has painted us into a corner, demanding WE repent for a lack of love, tolerance and affirmation. No more!
My job isn’t to get you to like Jesus. It’s to get you to admit he is God and you are not and your only hope is full surrender to this magnificent, fearful deity.
Of course we should all continually check our hearts, and we must be driven by true love. But, let me tell you, the love of God looks little like what we are seeing today. Yes, his love absolutely can be tender, caring and gentle. It can also fuel his anger, wrath and judgment.
The church must repent, not to the world, but to God for allowing it to be disempowered, neutered. The threat of revival is fading every day. We must stand firmly and decree without a hint of apology or political correctness, sin is sin! God is holy. The Bible is true. We need prophets not wordsmiths.
The church’s job isn’t to convince the world that Jesus is a really great guy. Our job is to expose darkness, preach truth, allow the love and terror of God to explode into lost souls and allow the Holy Spirit to move. We are to govern with great authority and immovable resolve to stand for truth. Do it with a right spirit, but, please, finally, just do it.
WATERED DOWN EVANGELISM
11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. Mark 6:11-12 (ESV)
Yes, there are some evangelists who are mean spirited. Others have great intentions but poor delivery. However, as I stated above, we cannot discard the message. Simply address the spirit and then proclaim the offensive truth with explosive anointing.
Today, so much of evangelism looks little different than fortune telling and New Age mysticism. Instead of soul-piercing, convicting messages being shouted at camp meetings and through the streets like were heard in generations past, today the messages are centered around how wonderful everybody is.
We need preachers behind the pulpits and in the streets who unapologetically and with great burden shout, “Repent! For the kingdom of God is at hand!”
I find it fascinating that John the Baptist, as the forerunner, made this decree famous (Matthew 3:2). Then, when he was arrested, look what happened:
17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 (ESV)
This is the model of evangelism. John the Baptist started it and Jesus confirmed it.
Evangelism that encourages people to consider following Jesus because of his benefits and how special and amazing he thinks we all are deviates from that model to serious detriment.
SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD
Theologically deviant evangelism and powerless preaching from the pulpit have resulted in millions of people filling churches who are apathetic, lukewarm and who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition.
It’s time the church repents for attempting to dress up Jesus in order to make him more appealing to a resistant culture. Somehow we’ve been duped into believing that we can’t preach cutting and dividing truth without also loving the people we are delivering it to. The enemy has done well in his attempt to convince us that we need to be soft, casual and emotionally sedated in order to sell our religious goods. The problem, of course, is that we are not salesmen. We are prophets! While we all don’t hold the office of prophet, we are all called to carry the mantle of Gideon who, without apology, tore down altars. We are to be like Elijah who confronted culture like no other. We are to be like Paul confronting the magician:
8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Acts 13:8-11 (ESV)
Jonathan Edwards delivered what many consider to be the world’s most famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Consider these points from his message and then consider the messages that are being preached in the streets and behind pulpits today:
So that, thus it is that natural men are held in the hand of God, over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold them up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, the flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out: and they have no interest in any Mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of; all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted, unobliged forbearance of an incensed God. ~Jonathan Edwards
Evangelism and preaching must include the truth of mankind’s condition and position should they refuse to repent. Love demands we do. If God’s wrath, anger and vengeance is directed at someone, and they are a breath away from falling into an eternal abyss, how could we not reveal that to them with tearful urgency?
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 3:36 (ESV)
THE TERROR OF THE LORD
The fear of God, the terror of the Lord, the power of his wrath and his violent assault against the forces of Hell both at the cross and coming soon at the end of the age must be acknowledged as key, foundational truths. We can’t ignore them. We shouldn’t want to.
11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. 2 Corinthians 5:11 (KJV)
As a result of knowing the fierceness of God and the soul-shocking terror of the Lord, we persuade men. We evangelize. We preach. With tears in our eyes and fire in our veins we boldly reveal the ferocity of God and the love that has driven him to reach out to mankind.
Make no mistake, when the fear of the Lord is mentioned in Scripture, it doesn’t always mean respect as some teach. No, the terror of God is just that—pure terror.
The Greek word may sound familiar to you: phobos
This word literally means:
alarm or fright :- be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror, “that which causes fright, a terror,” “fearful sights”.
We need to preach in such a way that terror lands on the hearers.
17 And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. Acts 19:17 (KJV)
In the above scripture, the word “fear” translates the exact same way it did in 2 Corinthians 5:11. Terror. When the terror of the Lord lands on the people, the name of the Lord Jesus is magnified. We cannot dress Jesus up and hide his terrifying attributes. Remember, He is not safe, but he is good.
We see terror striking Paul as well:
3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:3-5 (KJV)
He live a life driven by the terror of the Lord, marked by much trembling, and he preached from that place. the power of God, and not man’s wisdom, brought the results that we are feeling 2000 years after his ministry on the earth ended.
Consider the following verses that all translate to mean terror:
20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. 1 Timothy 5:20 (KJV)
11 And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. Revelation 11:11 (KJV)
27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:27-28 (KJV)
I’m certain that many who read this are thinking about the verse that reveals that perfect love casts out fear. I’ve met many wonderful people who have been mightily confused about this. They unwittingly evaded all fear, even the fear of the Lord.
The truth is that perfect love does not cast out the terror of the Lord. If that were the case, God would be working against himself and we would have to deal with contradicting truths in the Word.
I’d encourage you read my article, Should we reject fear in all forms? Does God affirm certain types of fear? It will answer a lot of questions for you.
I know many who are fully invested in the “happy Jesus” movement have probably stopped readying by now. If you are in that camp, and you’ve made it this far, please read just a little further. Your passion for intimacy with Jesus is good, but make sure it’s not incomplete. Deep, transforming intimacy with Jesus is a core message of mine. Without that vulnerable, close and otherworldly relationship with Jesus, I’d give up. Knowing God in this way is something that can never be described or replaced. However, several times in my life, God provoked me to something deeper. He didn’t allow me to stay in that sweet, tender place. He changed the way he was manifesting and I was faced with his severity.
I’ll never be able to forget my experience with the forces of Hell. My life was forever changed that night many years ago when God allowed me to experience the feeling of being taken to Hell. His severity was vivid and terrifying, yet it in no way contradicted my intimate heart connection with him. Knowing him as both lamb and lion is critical, and I’m personally desperate to have a greater revelation of him in his fullness. I pray you are too. Jesus will one day shock us all as we see him as he truly is:
15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:15-16 (ESV)
Are Christians more afraid than those in the world? Look out! It’s motorcycles, guns and diet soda!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 (ESV)
Surely I’m not the only one who has noticed that Christians tend to be an easily frightened bunch. Spirits of fear are in high demand in churches from coast to coast. Why is this? People take on these demonic spirits of fear because they very successfully masquerade as spirits of wisdom. The more afraid we are of anything that presents a threat, the more careful we will be, and the safer we will be, or so goes the logic.
In this article I want to offer a completely different method of confronting threats. Believe me, taking on a devilish anointing is not part of the plan. We can absolutely can live every moment of our lives without a troubled or afraid heart. The Bible tells me so!
Too many simply reject biblical truth as unrealistic, and fear is an all too familiar friend that can help with overcoming faith falters.
In fact, the carnal, unsaved people of the earth seem to exhibit more bold fearlessness than we see among those who have the most powerful, attentive and loving person that has ever lived on their side (Jesus!).
The “No Fear” mantra that took off years ago still emblazons T-shirts and bumper stickers across the land. Fearlessness is understood by those who don’t know God. But what about those who carry the immeasurable force of the universe within? What’s up with Christians who live in fear and worry every day of their lives?
MOTORCYCLES, GUNS, DIET SODA AND OTHER SCARY STUFF
“Worry shows God you are paying attention.” ~Frankie Heck, The Middle
God bless all of you who love me! I mean that with all sincerity. Being in church settings my entire life has provided me a never ending stream of suggestions and concerns delivered through some of the most wonderful people in the world. The more people love me, the more they worry. This is true for anybody. Frankie Heck (played by Patricia Heaton) revealed the wisdom, in humorous fashion, that many loved ones employ. They worry, hoping it will suffice as intercession. The truth is that worry is atheism. Worry decrees that there is no God. It’s evidence that we doubt any supernatural covering, provision or help is truly reliable.
One of the riskiest things any Christian can do is drink a diet soda in the foyer of the church when the resident essential oil/practitioner of health/organic foods promoter might be lurking. In fact, many years ago someone in the church I was leading jabbed me with a quick comment as I was drinking a diet soda. He said, “I hope you enjoy your brain cancer.”
I gave him a sharp, loving rebuke. I rejected his curse and made it quite clear that he may never say that again. He apologized and all was well. You see, I didn’t fear soda then, and I don’t fear soda now.
Today we are experiencing an increase in evil in America as mass shootings are becoming bigger and more devastating. Just as with the attacks on 9/11, the goal of the enemy is to instill fear. Of course, he’s out to steal, kill and destroy, but an even more effective strategy is to cause people to fear that he will steal, kill and destroy. That paralyzes us so he can finish the job.
So, the cry of many is to eliminate guns. Many Christians are saying the same thing. Instead of dealing directly with the spirit of fear while standing in our authority, we presume that dealing with the natural threat is the prime answer. It is not. If guns were done away with, fear would visit us in even more horrifying ways. The enemy would be sure of that.
Let’s see, so far I’ve dealt with diet sodas and guns. Oh yeah, we can’t forget the motorcycles.
Many years ago as a teenager I owned a motorcycle and I had a blast riding through the hills of Arkansas and Missouri. I’m 48 years old now, and I’ve wanted to buy another bike ever since my early years.
My wife, as many wives would understandably, was nervous about the idea, and we had many discussions. I was not winning any of our friendly arguments.
On a Saturday God spoke very clearly to me. He said, “Tomorrow morning at church, I’m going to speak to your wife through the message. You will own a motorcycle on Monday.”
I was unable to be at church that day. My wife went and God did speak to her quite remarkably.
She told me the message was breaking off a spirit of fear and entrusting your life and the lives of others into God’s hands. The time of our death or their death is up to him and we can rest in that.
I was stunned! The next day we drove to a motorcycle dealer in Ozark, Missouri and I bought a 2015 Kawasaki Vulcan S ABS. Now, admittedly, my wife is still not in love with the idea of me on a bike, but we both agree to trust God with the lives of our family members and others we love.
Many other people have reacted to my purchase in love, but also in fear. Now, if you are one who shared your concern, you are off the hook. I appreciate your love! But, I just couldn’t hold back in dealing with an issue of fear that is devastating the church and keeping people both in bondage and with a very dangerous false sense of safety.
While there are natural cautions that we can take when dealing with risky endeavors, fear cannot be a part of that strategy. Fear does not protect, it exposes us for attack.
Of course, if you own a gun, keep it locked up. If you drink diet cola, don’t over do it. If you own a motorcycle, wear a helmet, a riding jacket, gloves, boots and riding pants every single trip. Take a safety course. Don’t speed. If you drive a car, wear a seatbelt. Don’t drink and drive. If you go boating, wear a life vest. You get the idea. But don’t be afraid! Don’t allow yourself to be possessed by a demonic spirit of fear! It will feel good for a while as the enemy deceives you into a false sense of security, but worry and anxiety will certainly overtake your life. The Holy Spirit will not have access and the Prince of Peace will not be felt. God has truly called us to be at peace always.
Remember, the enemy wants to masquerade as a spirit of wisdom. He wants us to be so concerned about life that tragedy is a certainty unless we cower and lock ourselves into our homes as we nervously nibble on our fingernails.
THE RIGHT RESPONSE
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19 (ESV)
Instead of predicting a crash, instead of sharing horror stories of other motorcyclists who have died, instead of decreeing that I’m going to develop brain cancer because I drink diet sodas, instead of projecting spirits of fear on everyone who takes risk, a right Christian response would be to decree life! We have the keys of the kingdom of heaven! We bind! We loose! We have authority! We decree protection and believe that it will come!
Someone in a motorcycle video I watched mentioned people ask him how in the world he could ride a bike if he wants to live. His response (as a non-Christian, mind you) was, “I want to LIVE which is why I ride my bike!”
I’ve met a lot of Spirit-filled Christians who won’t go on missions trips to dangerous or third-world nations because of fear. Others fear death right here in America. Fear has imprisoned millions of Christians, people who have a good, good Father! Everybody, fear must go! The right response is to stare fear in the face and to decree that we will not be stopped!
An overcautious life is not the answer. The Bible is filled with truth that we should apply instead of holding to demonic wisdom of self-protection.
You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, Psalm 91:5 (ESV)
Instead of decreeing devastation out of fear, we should command life! We are blood-bought Believers! We have supernatural power burning within! As we intercede and declare protection as friends and family are living every day in a risky world, we will celebrate with them and rejoice that they have nothing to fear!
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4 (ESV)
We must wholeheartedly reject any reaction that is tainted by fear. If we consider the tragic possibilities, and that information drives our emotions, we can know that fear has gripped us.
Instead of fear, we must stand in authority! We command safety! We intercede! We exhibit the power and confidence and great faith that God has called us to function in!
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Luke 10:19 (ESV)
I propose powerfully declaring Psalm 91 as a powerful method of encouragement and intercession for us and those we love:
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91:11-16 (ESV)
No fear. Long life. That, friend, is our decree.
God is love. God is judge. There is no conflict and we can expect him to manifest according to his true nature.
I was first introduced to the concept that God only moves and functions positively when I was planting my first church in Manitou Springs, Colorado. What I was hearing was a strange doctrine that didn’t set well in my spirit, but I endeavored to allow God to change my theology if I was unbalanced or incorrect even slightly. Was it possible that God was more relaxed and carefree than I understood him to be? Was his method of Kingdom advance simply a revelation of how good he his?
I noticed quickly that those who were buying into this philosophy were living without a contending spirit. If the unction for prayer was there it was mostly to enjoy God’s presence (which I highly value, of course) but not to interceded with passion and fire. Desire for experience was there, but fervency in mission was lacking.
The second time I dealt with this fast growing doctrine that exclusively promotes God’s happy nature was in Detroit. After a season of truly amazing encounters in the glory of God I was stricken by the Lord with a severe, weighty message—that season needed to give way to a focus on the blood, the cross, brokenness and repentance. Those who were sold out to a culture of positivity found themselves outside of the “happy sauce” they so enjoyed as they were being called into the depths of God’s heart. Those depths include clearer revelations of God’s mission, of his response to the infection of evil in the land, the cost of his Son’s brutal slaughter on the cross, the horror of Hell and the disease of apathy in the church. The reaction of many was to pull back and dream of the good old days as if God had somehow left the room. He never left. He actually intensified and the way he manifested changed. He was inviting us into the deep realities of the age. He was looking for a remnant army to carry this light but troubling burden.
While I always want to grow in understanding of God’s more positive characteristics, I can’t allow myself to stop my learning at that point. I crave to understand God as he is—in fullness—whether it’s positive, negative, encouraging or troubling. Further, I can’t presume he will only move on the earth in a positive fashion. Honestly, you have to be quite lacking in biblical knowledge to presume that he would be restricted to functioning in that manner. God always has, and still does, move in both revival and judgment. They aren’t competing ideas. They are intentionally intertwined. They go together.
7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, 8 and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness. Psalm 9:7-8 (ESV)
WE SHOULD BE PRAYING FOR JUDGMENT
33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. 34 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:33-34 (ESV)
We should be singing for joy regarding his judgment!
Let me make something clear right up front—judgment isn’t the result of an evil God doing evil things. Judgment is a vehicle used by a loving God to positively impact those who will respond (though the impact will certainly be negative for the rebellious). Judgment is an act of deep love. It has to be as God is love just as he is judge. He doesn’t lay down love when he moves in judgment and he doesn’t forsake justice when he pours out his love.
We as end-time Christians should be ardent supporters of God’s judgment, of his act of love.
In America, we have a justice system. It’s a good one. I can’t imagine anybody reading this wanting to eliminate it in favor of anarchy. When someone murders, that person should be tried and judged—not because we hate that person but because we want them restored and because we love the others who are in harm’s way if they were to go free. We agree with the judge’s verdict of guilty and with the sentence of prison for the sake of both the murderer and the general public.
If we can trust our nation’s justice system, even with all of its inadequacies, we certainly can trust the judgment of a perfect, loving God, right?
People need to know this! It’s critical that we preach about Jesus as the judge. We can’t eliminate that from the gospel message!
42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42 (ESV)
I often pray that God will judge me. I actually crave it! I trust him. He loves me and I know that. He’s not evil. He’s not out to destroy me. I need his judgment in my life so any and every issue of my heart is dealt with. I can’t let it fester. It needs to be addressed so I can repent and shift into a life of greater consecration. I know a life that’s compromised by sin can do great damage to me and others. God’s loving judgment in my life will resolve that.
13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 (ESV)
The whole duty of man is to:
- Fear God
- Keep his commandments
Do we understand how critical both fear of the Lord and obedience are?
8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 (ESV)
If we don’t obey, judgment will come to us. God will deal with our nation in similar fashion, and we should embrace that—because the judgment that comes after we leave the earth is permanent. Our fate is sealed.
27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, Hebrews 9:27 (ESV)
This should result in the fear of the Lord returning in full force to the church!
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 (ESV)
The Bible tells us that judgment begins in the house of God. This is good, not bad—though the results can be quite terrible if repentance isn’t the result. If we plan on continuing in sin, I can understand why we’d be anti-judgment. That makes sense. However, whether you are opposed to judgment or not makes no difference—it will come to you if you don’t repent.
Those in the church are most definitely at great risk if repentance doesn’t come. Hell is their future.
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV)
Are you starting to see why judgment now is so glorious? It’s a part of God’s divine plan of redemption. In fact, we as Christians are called to enact judgment in certain situations.
2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 (ESV)
For example, if someone continues in sexual sin the church leadership is to turn them over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh! When is the last time you saw this happen in a church? Why is such harsh judgment necessary? The Bible tells us its so their spirits might be saved.
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (ESV)
Additionally, we can’t even eat with supposed Christians who are sexually immoral. That type of judgment is mandated. We have no option but to exercise it.
11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 1 Corinthians 5:11-12 (ESV)
Again, the reason we do this is not because we hate people—but because we love them! Judgment now is restorative. The final judgment is not. Judgment now should be celebrated and welcomed as a way to avoid eternal judgment in the end.
49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:49-50 (ESV)
EVIL MUST BE ADDRESSED
When revival comes, that will be the first invitation to the world to surrender their lives fully to Jesus. Those who reject that call will be visited by more direct, negative, persuasive measures—judgment. Again, this is an act of love that will encourage the greatest number of people to respond to God as possible.
Completely different from judgment, however, is God’s wrath. This is what we should be trembling about. When we understand the potential of God’s wrath, and that those who are not in Christ are living under threat of the outpouring of his wrath every second of their lives, judgment will actually be cried out for! We need God’s wise justice to deal with every situation on the planet so his wrath hits as few people as possible.
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 3:36 (ESV)
12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:12 (ESV)
14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Matthew 10:14-15 (ESV)
God is much more severe than we often realize! We must address the evil in the land and trusting both revival and God’s judgment are necessary. If judgment doesn’t come, more people will go to hell and evil will overtake the earth. It’s as simple as that.
We can’t fall in love with a God who manifests positively and reject him when he manifests in judgment or wrath.
5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. Romans 2:5 (ESV)
In fact, I believe the rejection of God’s negative traits, of his judgment and wrath, is setting up millions for destruction. How many current Christians will reject God when they see him destroying a fourth and then a third of the earth? How many cursed God when he brought the floods of death to the entire world, save 8?
7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:7-8 (ESV)
18 By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. Revelation 9:18 (ESV)
13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Genesis 6:13 (ESV)
How will you react when a holy and just God moves in severe and fearful ways? When God moves negatively, will you presume it’s actually Satan doing it? Or, will fear of the Lord result? This is a critical question!
10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. Acts 5:10-11 (ESV)
Will you commit the sin of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit by attributing an act of God to Satan or will true fear of the Lord come upon you?
29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:29-30 (ESV)
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
Christian friend, we should be sober, but we can be at peace!
If we are obedient and serving God in love, the Bible is clear—we are in a very good place!
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 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. 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. 1 John 4:13-20 (ESV)
There is no fear of eternal judgment if we are in the love of God.
However, please take note of the warning that follows in that passage:
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. 1 John 4:20-21 (ESV)
Your theology doesn’t save you. Your surrender to Jesus and obedience to him does. We can attempt to rest on the encouragement in the passage shared above in 1 John 4, but actually be unsaved, unprotected from final judgment, if we are haters and liars. If we say we love God but hate another we can’t presume to be exempt from judgment—temporal or eternal.
This is why we must live our lives consecrated and surrendered, fueled by the supernatural grace, the power, of God. If we do, God is well able to keep us.
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. Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)
Jesus is coming soon as King and Judge. His Spirit is moving on the earth now. Judgment is here and wrath is coming. Love will win and our eternities hang in the balance. I encourage you to trust God’s judgment in your life. Your eternity hangs in the balance.
12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:12-17 (ESV)
Watch: Find freedom from fear as you launch out into a life of powerful faith!
Ten Threats to Revival Part 11 – Unbelief
You can do this! You are called to live a ridiculously supernatural life!
You must believe! Go after the impossible! Be like Noah and live in such a way that causes people to mock!!!! You are called to live a miraculous life!
Understand that most people will not believe. In order to be in the mix of the end-time revival, you must have great faith. The more we pray, the more we believe. The more we hear his word, the more faith! Faith comes by hearing!
If we don't believe, this results in a life on hold and revival cannot flow through us. Faith results in action that will shake the nations. You are called to be a giant in the faith!
Luke 18:7-8 (ESV) 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Watch: Does fear grip your life? You can be free! Don’t let fear of loss rob you of the fire of revival!
Threat #10: Fear of Loss
If we fear loss of our our free time, finances, comfort and loss of command of our own lifestyle, schedule and plans, we will resist revival fiercely. Demonic fear must be replaced by a raging, shaking fear of the Lord!
The greater our fear of God which comes through intimacy with him, the less our fear that’s initiated by the enemy will be.
We won’t fear loss… we will understand that loss is a part of the process. Don’t protect what God may want to touch in your life.
Isaiah 8:11-13 (ESV) 11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
The catch is this: If we fear God, the result is boldness and intimacy and power and confidence.
If we have a spirit of fear, the result is timidity, reclusion, weakness and insecurity.
Proverbs 19:23 (ESV) 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
You are marked as a forerunner! Get equipped in fire and be provoked into reformation in today’s teaching!
I start out today’s teaching sharing about an INTENSE encounter with God that I had in the middle of the night last night. There was a healing mantle released, and I begin today’s teaching praying for those who need healing. I’m expecting powerful testimonies!
FOUR FIRES PART 4
Discover the call of the forerunner, the passion of those who are burning white hot for Jesus every single day of their lives…and those who are waking up the sleepers!
The marks of a forerunner include radical holiness, humility, boldness and freedom from fear. God is ready to move greatly in and through you!
I had a dream, and afterwards I visited Detroit to minister, and then saw the mural of jumping whales which was a key part of the dream.
It’s a warning dream, and Detroit must respond in repentance and intercession—as must the nation. Here’s the picture I took last night at the game and also the dream. (This is taken from the chapter in my book The Coming Church titled Their Freedom is Your Mission.)
A Troubling End-Time Dream
Here is a clear example of a sharp, prophetic message. Will we respond to the call or casually watch from the sidelines?
It would be nice if all of our dreams, visions and communication from God had the feel of running and dancing through a field of daisies, but it’s more important that we receive accurate data than imaginary, feel good stories.
This dream was anything but candy canes and ice cream. To date, other than my encounter with Hell in the early 1990s, I’ve never received such an urgent and troubling dream of God.
The first scene in my dream represented a typical American day. I was in my basement in a really comfortable leather recliner, sitting in front of a large television. I was excitedly watching my favorite NFL team, the Chicago Bears, play in a nationally televised evening game. I was thoroughly entertained and was settling in for a great night of football.
The scene then suddenly changed. I found myself in the captain’s seat of the largest commercial airplane I’d even seen. In fact, this jet was capable of holding over 1000 people. Everybody in the airplane was excited and ready for the journey—and they were all blood-bought Christians. They represented an end-time remnant being prepared by God for the days ahead.
In the cockpit, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude and majesty of the airplane. I put my hand on the throttle as we were sitting on the runway, ready to depart. Simply touching it revealed a power that was sobering indeed.
I understood that, as the captain of the airplane, my responsibility was immense. I felt completely incapable of fulfilling my duties, but at the same time, I felt such an overwhelming confidence. I had the grace to do what I was called to do, even though I didn’t understand even how to take the first step.
In that grace, I gave the throttle a push. Every inch that I carefully moved the throttle forward it seemed that the power increased one hundredfold or more. The slight vibration that was caused by multiple jet engines kept increasing as I moved 1000 people down the runway.
Suddenly, we were airborne, and we were catapulted into our unknown mission.
Almost immediately, as I followed the flight plan, we were flying over an ocean. As I looked down, something unusual had caught my attention, and I yearned to move in for a closer look. I brought the jet down and flew just above the surface of the water. What I saw was remarkable. All around, sea life was leaping out of the water. Everybody in the airplane was glued to the windows as they were captivated by the same view. Dolphins and whales were jumping high into the air as were innumerable other creatures, many of which I had never seen before.
As I watched, my desire for greater revelation and encounter with this seeming other-worldly exhibition was rapidly increasing. I wanted more!
I then did what makes no sense in the natural—I nose-dived and took the giant airship under the water. The moment I did, the power of the engines rapidly increased. The deeper I went, the greater the power. Under the water, I saw things I had never seen before. It was dark, but all of the sea life was easily visible as they glowed in various brilliant colors. Needless to say I, along with my passengers, would never be the same again.
I then reemerged at the surface of the water and took the aircraft back up to cruising altitude. It was time to move on to our destination.
Just as we reached the appropriate altitude, I received an urgent radio transmission:
The airport you will soon arrive at has been overtaken by terrorists. When you land, you and your passengers will deplane and will be confronted by them. You have no option to divert to another airport. If you do, the missiles that are currently locked on to your aircraft will be launched and you will all perish. You have no option but to continue according to your original flight path and land.
I then passed that information along to the 1000 passengers. In a moment, our joyful awe of what we experienced just moments ago shockingly changed to sobriety. We were about to land.
When we did, my two older boys (who at the time were approximately 10 and 12 years old) and I left the plane and entered the terminal.
I expected to see mass chaos, but I did not. Though there were many thousands of people in the terminal’s various public areas, it was so quiet that you could hear someone cough from one hundred yards away. Fear had gripped everybody. They were scared silent.
Each public area looked the same. People were ordered to line up along the walls by a terrorist who was standing in the middle of the room. The terrorist was dressed fully in black and had a machine gun in his hands.
We were ushered into a room, and as we entered, my oldest son thought he saw someone he knew on the other side of the room. Before I could do anything, he broke away from me, oblivious to what was happening, and ran across the room to see his friend. I knew it was the last time I’d ever hold my son.
I then held my younger son closer than ever as we took our place on the wall.
The terrorist then started addressing people as he walked along the wall. He slowly, methodically moved closer to where we were standing. He then stopped and ordered the man who was standing next to us to move to the center of the room. The terrorist asked this terrified man a question, “Have you ever stolen anything?”
He didn’t know how to answer. Should he tell the truth and reveal that, yes, he had stolen something at some point in his life? Would that earn him favor with the terrorist? Or, should he lie and attempt to convince him he was pure and should not be executed?
I knew that it didn’t matter how he responded. He was about to take his last breath.
What I saw next was grisly. I shielded my younger son’s eyes as the terrorist pulled out a machete and started hacking the victim’s fingers, a half an inch at a time. He dismembered this man and was ready to move on to the next—us.
Then I woke up.
What did it mean?
Football. In America, football is one of the enduring symbols of passionate, cultural entertainment. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with watching a football game, but the game’s place in my dream was significant. It represented life as usual. I was happily distracted and nothing else existed on my grid that night.
The sudden shift to the cockpit is key. Vehicles often represent ministry when they occur in dreams. We must, as the remnant Church, be ready for a sudden move into critical end-time ministry. We have to be instant in and out of season. Our ears must be attentive to the prophetic voices that are sounding alarms in our nation.
Supernatural power and grace is coming to the true, remnant Church. The 1000 passengers represented the true Church—Christians who were ready to be carried by God and who were not doing so for their own enjoyment. The massive airplane and the immeasurable power that it produced was there for a purpose—to carry people into a mission. The coming Church will be marked by people, as in the first century Church, who are mission minded and willing to lay down their lives. They aren’t there for the benefits alone.
When the remnant Church is in position, the adventure will begin! As in the dream, the first phase will include such glorious, supernatural revelation that we will be forever transformed. Those who are distracted by the offerings of the world will miss out on this remnant call into the shock and the awe of the glory of God! There is a consecration that’s required for those who are interested in going into the deep places with God.
The deeper we go, the more power and wonder we will experience.
Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “As soon as you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.”
Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” And Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on before the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went before the people. Joshua 3:1-6
God is raising up captains, leaders who will, like Joshua, call everybody into position. They will lead the remnant Church out of typical, deadly desert life across the water and into promise.
The end-time company represented by the 1000 on the airplane will be those who, as priests of the Lord, will carry the ark of his presence into the mission.
We have never been this way before. It is a mystery, but a mystery well worth the trouble to discover. We must consecrate ourselves on this side of the unknown as we, in faith, get ready to experience the wonders of the Lord!
As we emerge out of revelation of the glory of God, we will be functioning from a place of power and radical transformation. We will then be ready for the troubling warnings of God.
I believe the terrorists in my dream are less symbolic than we might hope. Fear is about to grip our land as the enemy puts his boots on the ground. We must stand firm in the grace of God, even when horrific trouble comes, as it did for me as a father, when in my dream, my older son broke away from my care.
Very troubling times are ahead of us. The enemy’s primary weapon will be the spirit of fear. God’s primary weapon? The shock and the awe of the glory of God. The coming Church will be a Church that has gone deep in God together and my friend, this is the only Church that will be able to stand against the wickedness.
Interestingly, I discovered after I had this dream, that it is known that Islamic terrorists will actually chop off the fingers of thieves just as I witnessed in my dream. I had never heard of this before and it was further confirmation that the dream was communication from the Lord and that we must be ready for an assault against his Bride.
“As to the thief, Male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example, from Allah, for their crime: and Allah is Exalted in power.” Quran 5:38
Perfect love casts out fear, which is why we know the kingdom of darkness cannot win. This is all the more reason for the Church to go deep into God! We need a revelation of Jesus! The coming Church will have that revelation of deep, glorious love, and the enemy knows this. This is why he is unleashing a false-love movement that is actually founded on fear…
We can damage our relationship with God if we reject all forms of fear.
All too often I hear voices rising up aggressively against any form of fear, or what they would define as fear. That rejection is resulting in the eradication of core, foundational, scriptural truths—verses, principles and even the words of Jesus are ignored or twisted to serve an unbiblical view of love.
God used both positive and negative motivation when calling people to him—both his tangible love and literal fear are motivators to keep us in him.
If we reject healthy fear, or the fear of the Lord, we will sometimes quickly and sometimes gradually fall into a lukewarm, compromised state.
I want to invite you to read my book The Terror of Hell. I have made it available for FREE online. You can see it HERE.
I came out of that God given encounter with terror at such a high level that I almost went mad. Literally. The extremes in the spirit realm are so intense, both positively and negatively, that our natural man cannot handle it.
The fear I experienced in that encounter was from God. It was horrifying, but necessary. It was appropriate. It has never left me.
THREE TYPES OF FEAR
Healthy fear results from a analysis of a situation and a reaction to keep us out of harm’s way. The analysis can be well thought out and detailed, such as the development of a plan to save for college and complete a degree program to avoid the threat of poverty. It can also be instant and reactive. I remember falling asleep at the wheel and suddenly realizing I was veering into oncoming traffic. My heart skipped a beat and I was scared out of my mind. I pulled over and slapped my face and reenergized myself!
We also see the call to healthy fear cover to cover in the Bible as God provides warnings of tragedy, such as being eternally separated from him in Hell. Just as we would have a healthy fear of poverty or falling asleep at the wheel, it makes no sense that the principle wouldn’t be applicable regarding Hell.
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Revelation 3:1-3
If the church is asleep at the wheel, someone needs to sound an alarm that impending doom is drawing near!
But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Luke 12:5
Note that the above verse isn’t talking about a reverence for God, but rather it’s saying the be very afraid of where he can send you!
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. Matthew 5:22
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14
Again, it is healthy to receive the warning of such a horrific possibility. It is absolutely healthy to fear Hell just as it is healthy to fear burning your finger on the stove.
The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:41-42
It’s impossible to dismiss healthy fear and still read and receive the truth in scripture. Time and again God shocks us with insight into a horrible possible future for those who are not truly his. This healthy fear results in a deeper analysis of one’s commitment to Jesus. It no longer is possible to be casual in our relationship with him.
The parable of the talents is an excellent picture of healthy fear.
“‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' Matthew 25:28-30
Jesus was using healthy fear as a motivation to live productively, with focus and sobriety. Interestingly, Jesus’ reaction to the lazy servant was due to unhealthy fear that caused him to bury his talent! Let’s take a look at that.
The lazy servant exhibited slavish fear, when instead he should have had healthy fear of Hell on his mind.
“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,' he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' Matthew 25:24-25
He was afraid. That was slavish fear. His focus was on self-preservation instead of honoring his master, and that focus on self resulted in a very destructive type of fear.
Slavish fear kills love. This is the type of fear that is being addressed in 1 John:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
Love involves the self giving of one for the highest good of another. ~The New Unger's Bible Handbook.
When we truly love, our focus is not on our punishment, it’s on the object of our affection! If we lack love, we will fear punishment because we are selfish and inwardly focused.
Perfect love does not drive out healthy fear or the fear of the Lord. But it does absolutely drive out slavish fear.
Slavish fear is a self-centered expression that comes when we are overwhelmed with the thought of personal loss. The fear of man, for example, is slavish fear. We become overprotective, defensive and self-preserving, which results in extreme timidity as we distrust those we presume have the power to hurt us. Slavish fear manifests as anxiety, dread and panic. It’s crippling.
Slavish fear results when we feel powerless and threatened. This is where the love of God comes in! We surrender control to him from a place of faith and love and slavish fear begins to dissipate.
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. Luke 1:74-75
This verse reveals the battle to be free from slavish fear, from fear of our enemies, as we live in the fear of the Lord.
FEAR OF THE LORD
Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:6
My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws. Psalm 119:120
The love of God and the fear of God are inseparable. The fear of the Lord results in us living a circumspect life from a place of loving devotion.
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. John 14:15
John Bevere had the privilege of meeting with Jim Bakker of PTL fame in prison after his conviction for mishandling money. John asked Jim, “When did you stop loving God?” Jim replied, “John, I never stopped loving God. I stopped fearing God.”
Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil. Proverbs 16:6
To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13
He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises him. Proverbs 14:2
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27
Experiencing God’s love is insufficient (and radically incomplete) if it doesn’t result in the fear of the Lord. God’s love draws us close and the fear of God keeps us on guard. Fear of God is a fountain of life!
Often it is presumed that the fear of the Lord simply means reverence of the Lord. That is a woefully incomplete definition. Time and again, the fear of the Lord is translated as reverence and terror!
The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, Isaiah 8:13
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. Acts 9:31
In Acts 9:31, the word “fear” translates not as reverence, but as terror:
(to be put in fear); alarm or fright :- be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror.
When God makes himself known, terror will strike. How could it not? The voice of the Father resulted in terror in the disciples:
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don't be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. Matthew 17:5-8
I think it’s interesting that this was an expression of the Father’s love! God the Father was expressing his love for his Son, and the result was terror! Again, what else, in such an overwhelming encounter, could be expected?
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. Psalm 19:9
Are we are forming a culturally acceptable version of God?
And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. Exodus 32:4-6
I’ll begin by affirming that God absolutely is LOVE! He is good, all the time. However, his goodness may not always register as good on our human grid.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14
There is a rapidly growing aversion to any discussion about God that includes anything that feels negative. The problem? Cover to cover in scripture we see endless accounts of God displaying his attributes—many of which would not be defined as positive.
Instead of proclaiming the full counsel of scripture, people today are looking for a buffet Bible when they can load up on chocolate cake and milk shakes while quickly stepping by the peas, carrot and salad.
People want to form a god of their own design as the Israelites did when Moses was meeting with a fearful God. The plan is to sit down to eat and drink, and rise up to play.
Today it’s nearly impossible (not an exaggeration) to find a church that preaches cutting, hard core truths of scripture that break us out of prison and into freedom. If you want to hear about how good God is and little else, than you can pick most any church in the nation.
“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
Sixteen dangers of the positive Christianity movement
False conversions—I could spend a lot of time on this point, and I do address it extensively in my book The Coming Church. For the sake of brevity, we must finally come to the understanding that salvation requires an extreme step, not a casual one. It’s when we understand the great drama that includes God, Satan, eternity, heaven, hell, judgment and abundant life that authentic conversions can occur. Who wouldn’t sign up to follow a God that promises gold coins and butterflies? The question must not be, “How can I benefit from salvation.” It has to be, “Is God worthy of me surrendering all I value to him?” When we truly know him in his fullness, in his grace and wrath, in his mercy and judgment, as a Lion and a Lamb, we will be able to make the fearful decision, “You, Lord are worthy of my entire life.”
Misunderstanding of the fear of the Lord—It’s stunning to me that so many are renouncing any fear whatsoever, even the fear of the Lord! If we have a view of God that is only positive, we will reject anything that feels negative, and this includes the fear of the Lord. Let’s set the record straight—the fear of the Lord is not simply to be in awe of God or to respect him. Fear of the Lord is translated over and over as terror, to be afraid, to dread. The love of God and the dread of God are not mutually exclusive. In fact, his love shines brighter we we realize how fearful he truly is.
That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Romans 11:20-22
God is limited—When we eliminate a major part of God’s personality and character, we greatly limit our revelation of him, and his ability to move in our lives. God is much more than the leader of some euphoric land of fantasy.
Rejection of judgment (that we need so badly)—I believe one of the most important prayers I can pray is, “God, judge me daily.” For those who reject God’s judgment because they perceive it to be negative, their lives will be marked by areas not given access to God’s loving calibration. Additionally, our nation is in desperate need of loving judgment from a righteous judge. Judgment is not hatred, it’s love. It’s deep love. We see this in our own society. We are so touchy/feely that we react in anger when we presume someone to be judging us. However, it’s true love that will judge an issue and help someone break free into healing. We must embrace judgment in these dire end-times.
And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42
Rejection of God—This is one of the most serious issues. God absolutely still judges in the New Covenant, and those who reject this will be at risk of attributing judgments of God to Satan. God’s wrath is still on the Earth, and we have to understand that much of the trouble we see today has actually been initiated by God—all while many of his followers are rebuking him and calling him Satan.
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 3:36
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit—Even more serious is the risk of blasphemy. I believe we have to be radically opposed to God to fall into this unforgivable sin (I know many wrestle with this, but unpacking it will require more time than we have here), but, the positive Christianity movement can nudge people closer to falling into this. When we attribute an act of God to Satan, that is blasphemy, and this occurs often within positive Christianity.
“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:28-30
Ignoring calls to battle—If we think God is mostly interested in our safety and happiness, we will deem unnecessary and invasive any call to battle. It’s time we mature and understand we are already in the midst of a vicious battle, and it’s our calling to fight hard. God really is OK with his children being tortured and killed as martyrs for the sake of other people discovering Jesus, and we should be too. We are end-time soldiers, and this means we have signed up for a life of inconvenience, brokenness and struggle. That negative reality is glorious when we understand what it is unto.
Misinterpretations of negative situations—News flash: it’s not always the devil. How often to people rebuke demons when it’s actually God that caused the situation? If we think that God only functions positively than what are we to do with the fact that God actually demonized Paul and refused his deliverance? What about God striking people with sickness?
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
God actually endorsed an assault of Satan on Paul to keep him humble! Paul embraced a “negative” God, because he was True. He was content with weaknesses, hardships, calamities. He didn't rebuke them, and that didn't cause him to attribute them to Satan. Of course, Satan wouldn't want to keep Paul from becoming conceited, so this wasn't his plan. Just as with Job, God will allow attack of the enemy for our own benefit. In fact, it was Satan who was allowed by God to kill Jesus. He literally had thorns in his flesh as he hung on the cross, and they were not taken away.
Minimized need for intercession—If we think things are getting better and better, as many who support the positive Christianity movement do, than we have no need to intercede. However, if we truly understand some very troubling times are ahead, and God has called us to stand in the gap, then our passion for intercession will skyrocket. We need Abraham’s and Jonah’s who will see the judgment of God ahead and pray with passion and warn those in his direct path. Our God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, totally destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. He destroyed the earth in a flood. His wrath remains on those who reject him today.
Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” Genesis 18:32
Rejection of call to martyrdom—Martyrdom is the pinnacle of negative experiences for the Christian. Of course, the truth is that it’s not negative at all. It’s glorious!
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. Acts 7:54-58
How powerful is it that Jesus stood as Stephen died! Not only that, but did you notice what young man was mentioned in the story? A young man who would end up turning the world upside down. Saul. Paul. We need Stephen's to arise and lay down their lives in such a way that a new company of Saul's are awakened into their destinies.
Universalism—You’d be surprised at how many professing Christians reject any thought of eternity in Hell—for anybody! After all, how could a good God cast people into eternal torment? It doesn’t register on the grid of positive Christianity.
Rejection of tenets of the faith—I’m angered at how today’s Christians get sad and withdrawn when core tenets of the faith are preached. The cross, hell, fear of the Lord, surrender, brokenness and repentance are minimized as they prefer to focus on how giddy God is about them! We absolutely need a fresh wave of blood bought fire and brimstone preachers again!
Wrongly discern God’s presence & purpose—The presumption is that whenever God is manifesting that the feelings we experience are to be happy, warm and positive. Any manifestation that includes fear of the Lord, conviction, rebuke, challenge or mourning is soundly rejected. If the atmosphere isn’t electric, many today check out and disengage.
Using God—A spirit of religion is in this positive Christianity movement. The thought is that God is there for our enjoyment and must respond to our cries for satisfaction. We determine the experience instead of letting God use us as he sees fit.
Self-centeredness—Related to using God, instead of focusing on the devastation in the world and our responsibility to bring resolution to it, those in the positive Christianity movement are focused on self.
Forsaking our anointing by always being nice—Boy, we have to stop it. We think God always has perma-smile with a twinkle sparkling off of his grin. If we think of God in this light, we’ll attempt to do the same. It can manifest many different ways. For example, instead of boldly preaching repentance and the terror of Hell, we might just smile and be sweet and sugary by encouraging people to take baby steps toward Jesus. We have become so tentative and passive when dealing with severe threats against the church such as the homosexual agenda, the false-grace movement and others. We need prophets to rise up and preach judgment and repentance again!
Sometimes we need to look someone in the eye, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, and say with no hint of a smile that they are destined for Hell. Repent!
Of course, there are limitless positives about God and our relationship with him. However, we don’t want to stop there. We must trust him enough to embrace him in his fullness.
The judge is coming, and he will start with the church. How many will fall away when he arrives, disappoints and confuses people by looking nothing like the god of their own design?
Listen to the latest in what may be the most important series I’ve ever taught: Threat to Revival #7—Fear
FIRST: You DON’T want to miss our fourth annual Revival Church Christmas Dinner & White Elephant Gift Exchange!!!
Join us this Thursday, December 13th at 7pm for a night of Christmas family fun. Bring a main course and either a side OR dessert to share. Also, bring a wrapped gift valued under $10, one for each member in your family, for the white elephant gift exchange. It all happens at Revival Church, which meets at CENTRAL CHURCH, 1529 E. 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071. Invite all of your friends and family!
TEN THREATS TO REVIVAL: THREAT #7, FEAR
You can listen to last night’s incredibly freeing message on the spirit of fear here: http://media.johnburton.net/5753783
Follow along with the notes here:
Threat 7. Fear of Loss
1. The greater our fear of God which comes through intimacy with him, the less our fear that’s initiated by the enemy will be.
1. We won’t fear loss… we will understand that loss is a part of the process. Don’t protect what God may want to touch in your life.
2. Isaiah 8:11-13 (ESV) 11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
3. The catch is this: If we fear God, the result is boldness and intimacy and power and confidence.
4. If we have a spirit of fear, the result is timidity, reclusion, weakness and insecurity.
1. Proverbs 19:23 (ESV) 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
1. You could call the spirit of fear, slave fear and the fear of the Lord, son fear.
2. The fear of a slave is to cower; slaves want to run away from their masters. But “son fear” is something different; it motivates us to seek and please God.
3. “Slave fear” that drives us away from God is wrong; “son fear” that drives us toward God is right and proper.
2. In this next passage, God is saying not to have slave fear.
3. Exodus 20:18-20 (ESV) 18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”
2. Revelation 1:17-18 (ESV) 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
3. Nenien C. McPherson, Jr., says that the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises are the only fears that are natural to us. There are only two, he says, and all the rest are learned.
1. Satan coaches us into every other fear! He’s our fear coach. He’s our fear leader!
2. In generations past the fear for the Christian was the loss of life, today the fear is a loss of comfort.
4. Fear haunts people and hijacks their zeal and their focus on mission.
1. When we fear loss, our natural reaction is to shut everything else out and go into protect mode.
2. Fear is a disqualifier. It sends people home… their focus is on how to survive their own lives at home instead of being in the midst of the mission… the very reason they were born!
3. Judges 7:2-3 (ESV) 2 The LORD said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.
1. When the call to run with a vision is presented, don’t be surprised when people turn their focus to their own survival.
2. The song goes, I surrender all!!! If all is surrendered, we can’t be gripped by fear of loss!
1. Our family is surrendered, our money is surrendered, our comfort is surrendered, our physical life is surrendered!
3. Manitou Springs-I was disturbed at the number of Christians that were afraid to even drive past that city! I was mad!
4. I needed the warriors to show up, to be bold, to lock arms with us and take a city—and they didn’t even begin in the battle! Fear kept them away, and the flow to Hell kept streaming.
1. As a visionary, one issue that I constantly wrestle with is the job of selling the vision.
2. So much energy is used attempting to convince the church of the region that it’s a good move to invest in revival. It’s a benefit to them to participate. There’s blessing if they run the race with us.
3. Come on! Where are the people who have matured beyond this? Where are those who need no reason to invest in revival other than the fact that people are going to Hell?
4. Where are those who fear not? Who simply show up to fight against the Kingdom of darkness? No fear of loss at all! People with fire in their eyes who know why they were born!
1. We cannot expect to win if we forfeit.
2. The church isn’t primarily plagued with defeat, it’s plagued with FORFEIT!
3. The Hebrews forfeited the Promised Land!!!! Fear!!!
4. Numbers 13:25-28 (ESV) 25 At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. 26 And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large.
5. Then what happens is that the true visionaries reject fear and call everybody to go, and there’s division in the camp! The mission ends!
6. Numbers 13:30-33 (ESV) 30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 32 So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. 33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”
7. They wanted to stone those who were responding to God’s call to advance!
8. Numbers 14:23-24 (ESV) 23 … And none of those who despised me shall see it. 24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.
5. The issue of fear is a HUGE one!
1. If we don’t deal with fear now, when the threat to our lives increases, we will run home!
2. Mark 14:61-65 (ESV) 61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 65 And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.
3. Mark 14:66-72 (ESV) 66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
4. There’s been so much emphasis in the church on blessing and gain, that the spirit of fear has been able to settle into position, ready to pounce when the possibility of personal loss presents itself.
1. Attempting to minimize risk is not the answer!!!!
6. The church must again be a place of power that calls people to the edge as it plunders the kingdom of darkness!!!
1. A key reason pastors don’t advance their churches into the experiential realm of encounter with God is that the risk of losing people, money and their reputation is high.
2. It’s clear that a instituting a marginalized church culture is a much less risky option to develop a growing church in America. However, it’s also clear that such a culture is void of power and miracles.
1. Revival will only come through a Biblical church that is costly, raging hot on fire and radically uncomfortable to our flesh.
3. The world isn’t looking for another man-made system to join. In fact, the world does a much better job of building humanistic kingdoms than the church does.
4. We’ll only see revival when we have the guts to call people into the wilderness of extreme encounter where the Fire and the Cloud leads them into a supercharged adventure.
1. Fear of loss must be replaced by an expectation of loss!
2. I surrender all! It's not, “I hope I don't have to surrender all!”
3. I die daily! It's not, “I hope I can avoid the death part of the program!”
4. I take up my cross! It's not, “I take up my blessing!”
7. The comforter
1. We were robbed
1. The enemy will actually cause blessing at times!
2. Promise of new computers
3. Story of getting robbed
5. At IHOP
6. The enemy wants to masquerade as the Holy Spirit… he’s a false comforter.
7. He wants us to use him, to use fear as a means of protection.
8. This revelation was so powerful.
9. We were initially terrified to stay in the house, but that night I let God comfort me like never before… and I slept with overwhelming peace.