Many churches that don’t identify as Seeker Sensitive are actually employing Seeker strategies that threaten revival.

You can read the first article where I dealt with five clear threats to revival that are propagated through seeker sensitive church growth strategies on the Charisma News site HERE.

The Coming Church Paperback 300Seeker Sensitive methodologies have done more damage to the mission of revival and the advance of the Church than many realize.

The very purpose of the church and the experience in the church meeting have become confused, so much so that most would consider today’s typical Spirit-filled service to be biblically normal, though some have “Ichabod” etched above their doorposts.

And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” 1 Samuel 4:21-22 (ESV)

We have so neutered the supernatural influence that mostly natural religious expressions with a few raised hands and occasional shouts of “Hallelujah!” give it just enough spiritual unction to pass muster. The glory has departed and few have noticed—or cared.

The church must shift from being naturally familiar to being supernaturally shocking! The tremble must return to the church as Believers are functioning in raw, Holy Spirit power that can only be found in a lifestyle of zealous intercession.

From my book The Coming Church:

We soon won’t be able to define going to church the way we do now. God is coming to reform, to crush structures of old for what is to be introduced very soon. Our call isn’t to stand strong until the shift comes, it’s to prophetically sound the alarm and awaken those at risk! God is coming!

America doesn’t need another bed-and-breakfast church that comforts our flesh (our natural desires). Our nation needs a Church with a volatile atmosphere that explodes, burns human flesh and shocks our culture.

To the dismay of those who simply want to hear a little worship and listen to good (and short) teaching, services will become more like prayer meetings. This is one of the most critical and most upsetting shifts that will come–and it must come now. Today, most of the energy church leadership teams expend is usually on attracting and keeping visitors instead of training and engaging intercessors.

One of the greatest indictments on the Church today is that prayer is not the driving force. Today, people tend to choose churches based on the appeal of the teaching and the worship instead of the fervency of prayer. If the Church was a house of teaching, or a house of worship, that would make sense—but it’s not. Scripture reveals that the Church is a House of Prayer for all nations (Mark 11:17) Every person in the Church will function as a burning intercessor, and the services will be marked by this unified groan of fiery prayer. It simply does not make sense that people gather together as Christians without prayer being their primary activity!

Christians who aren’t invested in fervent, supernatural prayer will be enticed by the natural familiarity of Ichabod churches (where the glory has departed).

5 MORE SEEKER-SENSITIVE STRATEGIES THAT THREATEN REVIVAL

1. Fewer, Shorter, Predictable Services

First, I’m quick to admit that I, like many others, do not like poorly formatted church services that are too long for all the wrong reasons. Do away with Sister Martha’s five minute announcement on the upcoming social and a special song by Brother Larry that unnecessarily fills space. Let’s do away with announcements and other time wasters and dive into what is more pressing.

That being said, we have to stop the trend of churches giving into the demands of the culture. It’s laughable to think the church can impact the world if the soldiers are only together two hours a week (or less than an hour in some churches). What happened to being in church every time the doors are open? I suppose this still happens since the church doors are only open from 10am-noon on Sunday mornings. The house of prayer is eerily empty, dark and closed most hours of the week.

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple… Acts 2:46 (NKJV)

It’s time to call the warriors together for fervent intercession and apostolic instruction and expect the Spirit of God to shock and rock the service! Even some of the most revival focused, Holy Spirit friendly churches out there have limited services and have created a predictable, repeatable, user-friendly order of service that ensures very little spontaneous would ever happen. Stop and think of the various elements that happen in every single church service, at exactly the same point every single time.

People are typically creatures of habit and it’s proven that growing churches are structured, shorter and mostly predictable. This is a tried and true Seeker strategy. It makes it comfortable for the seeker while it creates a foreign environment for the Holy Spirit. God must not only be given room to move in unusual and unique ways, but the service must be formatted in such a way that such Holy Spirit activity is nurtured and facilitated. I’d rather wait on my knees in silence for an hour waiting for God to move than to go through the order of service as if God has chosen another church to visit that day.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2 (NKJV)

2. Programs for Everyone

The Upper Room had one program, one expectation, one mandate. Pray. Hundreds of invited people chose not to attend, and that was okay. Sad. Unbelievable. But, okay. The mission was more important and it would not be compromised to attract a few hundred more distracted seekers.

Many of today’s pastors are so eager to keep every visitor and make every participant feel connected and satisfied that a massive and every growing menu of programs, small groups and activities is carefully created. The reasoning behind this is to ensure everyone has a place. This feels right. It seems to be a great way to welcome and include as many people as possible. However, if we look at what is really being done it will infuriate you. It does me.

There is a place for everyone in the church, in the house of prayer, in that Upper Room. The place is the prayer room! When we create programs and activities in an effort to keep people in our church it’s evidence that we have not successfully developed the culture of prayer that the church demands. We end up empowering people in their resistance to a lifestyle of intercession. If the prayer room isn’t magnetic enough, those you are attempting to attract just have to be allowed to move on.

This is why I’m a firm believer that the prayer meeting must take place on Sunday mornings. It’s the main thing, the program for all, the activity that entire families give themselves to night and day.

Even the most revival-centric churches fall into the trap of enticing people to stay via means other than the call to prayer.

The true church lives and moves and has its being in prayer.”

Leonard Ravenhill

In fact, the call isn’t only to pray, but to pray in the Spirit! We need people praying in tongues, groaning in the Spirit, crying out to God night and day. This is the program that must be developed, and until all are involved other efforts should be tabled.

praying at all times in the Spirit… Ephesians 6:18 (ESV)

3. Easy Salvation

This point could easily demand an entire article, or even an entire book to deal with effectively.

Suffice it to say the American church has failed miserably by presenting a casual, easy, costless salvation that is sealed by repeating a sinner’s prayer. This is an offense to the cross of Christ!

When I minister I always invite people to salvation by saying, “Every eye open and everybody looking around.” It’s common today to give people a private moment to ask Jesus into their heart by saying, “Every eye closed and nobody looking around…” I understand what they are trying to do. I understand how intimidating it can be to raise a hand and come to an altar, however if we are training people that salvation can occur without powering through the fear we are providing a lot of them with a false security.

We cannot be ashamed of Jesus! We must call people to radical surrender! The cost is high. The surrender must be complete. There are many people following Jesus in an unsaved condition because they have not been presented with the true Gospel. They have not been confronted with their depravity. They are filled with messages of how much God likes them without highlighting the reason they are separated from him.

True salvation results in a fervent, committed person who will burn hot, serve with passion and rend their hearts continually.

From The Coming Church:

The horrific confusion regarding the issue of salvation in the Western Church is the key reason why I am so intense. I am intentionally extremely off balance as a heavy counterweight due to current off-balance theologies. People are going to Hell. They think they are saved.

Just so you know how I see things, due to this encounter that I had 22 years ago (of being dragged toward Hell and hearing God tell me that many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day): when I’m in a vibrant, Spirit-filled church of, lets say, one thousand people—people who are lifting their hands, worshiping Jesus and paying their tithes—I see maybe 100 of them, on average, ending up in Heaven. That’s not a judgmental statement, as I have no way of truly judging that on a person-by-person basis. It’s simply a statistical, analytical reality for me based on my encounter with Hell. How can I stay silent even for a day if billions of unsaved people are going to Hell—not to mention many others in churches who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition?

4. Slow, Easy Pace

Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Understand, as we follow Jesus, we are called to lead others in that procession—but it’s at the pace of Christ, not the pace of the followers.

Seeker churches provide a “taste and see” environment for people to consider the ways of Jesus at a level that’s comfortable to them. We need churches that will stun the people and preach messages of urgency and radical consecration!

Under Moses the Hebrews dictated the pace of their advance and they all died in the desert—all but Joshua and Caleb. Under Joshua’s leadership, there was precision, urgency and unity in the advance into the land of Promise.

If we truly understood the urgency of the hour we would be shouting from the rooftops, calling people into immediate, radical surrender!

Hell continues to grow larger and today many will begin their eternity there. It’s a horrifying, tragic reality and we cannot allow people under our leadership to be casual, disinterested, lukewarm and disengaged. I believe their blood will be on our hands as leaders if we don’t start preaching with fire and shocking the dead to life!

5. Focusing on Numbers

This is such a huge point that I really want it to hit hard. True revival churches, with very limited exceptions, can expect to be very small in number. The goal of growing in number will almost immediately hijack the primary purpose of calling the remnant together for raging intercession, consecration and inconvenient instructions.

I was personally set free many years ago when God told me to never consider the number of people in the church again, but rather to consider how obedient I am. How well do I allow the Holy Spirit to lead?

It’s a very rare remnant that will gather together in the furnace that is being stoked, prodded and heated. Most people love to warm themselves by the fire but very few will actually lay across the fire and allow God to burn fully through them, to refine them and to cause them to blaze. We don’t need people who have the smell of fire on them, we need those who are burning.

We must let God build his church with rare, remnant burning ones.

FINAL THOUGHTS

God is ready to ignite his remnant bride. We must get ready for a raging furnace of prayer to burn in our churches again. It’s time. It’s past time. Most won’t be ready. Most weren’t ready for the Upper Room. The Upper Room wasn’t changed, programs weren’t added, the time there wasn’t shortened, the pace wasn’t easy, the cost was high. The pretenders had excuses and the remnant was surprised by supernatural power that turned the world upside down.

Yes, we need Upper Room churches in America, and fast.

I need your help! I’m heading on the road full time to consult, teach, equip and carry fire!

It would mean a lot if you would forward the following to your pastor! I’m ready to hit the road and serve with passion!


Hi!

I’d love to give you a call and learn more about you and your ministry. Is there a time that would work?

We are in such a critical and powerful season where God is awakening those who are ready to burn hot for Jesus. God has been wrecking and rocking me lately and I’m carrying the resulting message everywhere he leads.

If you feel an event would benefit your church, I don’t require a minimum honorarium or a minimum sized crowd. I will sleep on the floor if it means revival can be fueled in your region!

When I travel I enjoy the opportunity to pour into leadership teams and the body through equipping, encouraging, imparting strategies and calling people higher!

You can learn a little about what makes my heart burn by reading my articles in Charisma Magazine: www.johnburton.net/charisma

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You can also view my bio at www.johnburton.net if you’d like to take a look.

The short version is:

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  • I’ve planted two churches, one in Colorado and one in Detroit.
  • I’ve written ten books on the topics of prayer, reformation, equipping and revival. You can read several of these books for FREE if you’d like to learn more about us at www.johnburton.net/books!
  • I directed one of the primary internships, Intro to IHOP, at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.
  • I crave being in God’s presence with other hungry people!
  • I also believe strongly in the local church and would love to serve your mission.

Contact me any time via email at john@johnburton.net or phone at 719.231.6000.

FYI, I often hear from pastors looking to book an event about whether I’ll come and minister to a small crowd. I absolutely will!

I know God is ready to pour out in any fiery, hungry environment!

I can’t wait to hear from you!

RECOMMENDATIONS


clip_image006Dear John,

When we invited you we anticipated an unusual move of God in our church but had no idea how much you would ignite the fire of God in hearts and set us on the path to revival. What a tremendous week it has been! Thanks for all that you, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, have invested in us this week. One of these days there will be a mighty sound coming from the south. It will be the sound of revival and of a raging fire of the Spirit in Haiti. READ THE ENTIRE LETTER HERE.

Jean Heder Petit-Frere

 

 

“John is dangerously prophetic, provoking passion in those in pursuit of revival. In just a few short years, I have witnessed the impact of his obedience to Christ in a region bound by division & religion. His mandate is one of radical devotion, raising up burning ones and releasing them into new levels in their kingdom assignment.”

Marcellis Smith, Lead Pastor
Jubilee City
clip_image008Detroit, MI

John Burton is a man with unquenchable passion for God. His life is a living Epistle of the truth that the Kingdom of God is not just in word, but in power. He lights fires wherever he goes leaving behind the unmistakable fragrance of the life of Christ. I highly recommend his ministry to you.

Glenn Bleakney
President of Awake Nations

“John won’t serve yesterdays’ manna, old wine, or an ear tickling message! His ears are tuned to hear the Word of the LORD and bring a piercing message to people who hunger for truth. Your community will be awakened, provoked, and equipped! Be prepared to encounter God, experience His power & presence and transform your world!”
Chris Ferguson, District Pastor Forerunner Christian Fellowship
International House of Prayer
Kansas City, MO

John Burton is a great man of God that is blessed with numerous gifts that serve as a blessing to the body of Christ. I would highly recommend him to anyone in ministry or the business world. He is full of integrity and does very quality work.
Jeremiah Johnson

“John, thanks so much for listening to God’s heart! It changed my life. I’m crying, but I feel happy inside- a happiness I’ve never felt.”
Melanie

“John Burton is a man who has continued to allow himself to be thrust into the middle of what God is doing. He not only hears from Heaven, but is willing to boldly shout it from the rooftops. If John is stirred about something, I would recommend that you listen.”
JD King, International Director World Revival Network of Ministries

No minimum honorarium, no minimum crowd, I’ll sleep on the floor…I’m burning to bring revival to your city!

Hi!

Do you lead a church or ministry? It would be great if we could connect!

I’m currently filling up my 2015 calendar, and I’d like to see if a ministry event in your region would be a benefit.

I’d love to give you a call and learn more about you and your ministry. Is there a time that would work?

My passions are REVIVAL, PRAYER AND AWAKENING…and I want to see the fire of God’s love rage through your city!

image

You can learn a little about what makes my heart burn by reading my articles in Charisma Magazine:

clip_image001

Plus, if you feel it would benefit your ministry, we can discuss scheduling a church event or conference in your region that would powerfully encourage you and your team!

If that won’t work, that’s OK! I still want to get to know you and bless what God is doing in you!

In the meantime, my bio can be viewed at www.johnburton.net if you’d like to take a look.

The short version is:

clip_image002

  • I’ve planted two churches, one in Colorado and one in Detroit.
  • I’ve written ten books on the topics of prayer, reformation, equipping and revival. You can read several of these books for FREE if you’d like to learn more about us at www.johnburton.net/books!
  • I directed one of the primary internships, Intro to IHOP, at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City.
  • I crave being in God’s presence with other hungry people!
  • I also believe strongly in the local church and would love to serve your mission.

You also might consider hosting theLab Intensive. This 2-3 day school of fire will equip and encourage your church and leadership team. Learn more here: www.thelabuniversity.com/intensives.

Contact me any time via email at john@johnburton.net or phone at 719.231.6000.

If you feel an event would benefit your church, I don’t require a minimum honorarium or a minimum sized crowd. I will sleep on the floor if it means revival can be fueled in your region!

FYI, I often hear from pastors looking to book an event about whether I’ll come and minister to a small crowd. I absolutely will!

I regularly travel to minister to crowds less than 50, and I know God is ready to pour out in those fiery, hungry environments!

I can’t wait to hear from you!

RECOMMENDATIONS


clip_image004Dear John,

When we invited you we anticipated an unusual move of God in our church but had no idea how much you would ignite the fire of God in hearts and set us on the path to revival. What a tremendous week it has been! Thanks for all that you, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, have invested in us this week. One of these days there will be a mighty sound coming from the south. It will be the sound of revival and of a raging fire of the Spirit in Haiti. READ THE ENTIRE LETTER HERE.

Jean Heder Petit-Frere

“John is dangerously prophetic, provoking passion in those in pursuit of revival. In just a few short years, I have witnessed the impact of his obedience to Christ in a region bound by division & religion. His mandate is one of radical devotion, raising up burning ones and releasing them into new levels in their kingdom assignment.”

Marcellis Smith, Lead Pastor
Jubilee City
clip_image006Detroit, MI

John Burton is a man with unquenchable passion for God. His life is a living Epistle of the truth that the Kingdom of God is not just in word, but in power. He lights fires wherever he goes leaving behind the unmistakable fragrance of the life of Christ. I highly recommend his ministry to you.

Glenn Bleakney
President of Awake Nations

“John won’t serve yesterdays’ manna, old wine, or an ear tickling message! His ears are tuned to hear the Word of the LORD and bring a piercing message to people who hunger for truth. Your community will be awakened, provoked, and equipped! Be prepared to encounter God, experience His power & presence and transform your world!”
Chris Ferguson, District Pastor Forerunner Christian Fellowship
International House of Prayer
Kansas City, MO

John Burton is a great man of God that is blessed with numerous gifts that serve as a blessing to the body of Christ. I would highly recommend him to anyone in ministry or the business world. He is full of integrity and does very quality work.
Jeremiah Johnson

“John, thanks so much for listening to God’s heart! It changed my life. I’m crying, but I feel happy inside- a happiness I’ve never felt.”
Melanie

“John Burton is a man who has continued to allow himself to be thrust into the middle of what God is doing. He not only hears from Heaven, but is willing to boldly shout it from the rooftops. If John is stirred about something, I would recommend that you listen.”
JD King, International Director World Revival Network of Ministries

Rooting Out Fuzzy Theology Behind the Hyper-Grace Message

9:21AM EDT 4/2/2013 David & Nancy Ravenhill

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Imagine a car dealership that provides every car buyer with a free car wash for as long as they own the car. You purchase a car, and along with the required paperwork you are given a free-car-wash certificate. The dealer tells you he has fully paid for all the car washes you will ever need, saying he believes that a clean car is the greatest way of advertising and promoting his dealership.

Several days later, you happen to drive down a muddy country road full of potholes and ruts. Later, you notice your car is covered with mud and decide to avail yourself of your free lifetime car wash. But before you have time to drive through the car wash, your friends inform you that you no longer have to go there. They tell you that your first car wash was all that was necessary. Any suggestion that you need another wash is not only wrong, but a lie.

You try and reason with your friends and even show them your dirty car. They still refuse to acknowledge that the car needs washing, even after seeing the condition of the car. They inform you that what the dealer really meant was that once the dealership had purchased the car wash for you, that would keep the car clean forever. They also argued that to suggest it needed washing again was an insult to the dealer and the dealership. “Don't you realize,” your friends tell you, “when the dealer first paid for your car wash, that automatically washed it for life; all past, present and future dirt was washed away, and therefore it never needs to be washed again.”

Such logic would, by anyone's reasoning, be considered imbecilic, ignorant or crazy, to say the least. Obviously, what the dealer intended was that anytime you needed your car washed, you could avail yourself of a car wash because he had already paid for it in advance.

Thinking back on your conversation with the dealer, you recall him telling you that he has a personal hatred for dirty cars and that is why he paid for a lifetime of free washes to anyone who asked. He went on to say that if—and not when—you happen to get your car dirty, the car wash would take care of it. He obviously never intended for you to drive around searching for dirty roads just so you could avail yourself of the car wash. That, he said, would be abusive to the car-wash program and an insult to his dealership.

In a similar way, the atoning work of Christ paid in full for all my sin. This, however, does not exclude my need for repentance, nor does it give me license to sin as I please. For my “friends” to tell me otherwise is totally false and misleading.

Sadly, this is the logic behind the new hyper-grace message. The essence behind this false teaching is that all sins past, present and future have already been atoned for and therefore there is no longer any need to repent. That, the proponents of this idea say, would be tantamount to telling God you don't believe He has paid for all your sin.

This type of fuzzy theology falls apart for this reason: If repentance is acknowledging a sin that has already been forgiven, thereby making repentance unnecessary, then why do we tell people to repent the first time in order to be saved? If repentance is wrong following salvation, then using the same “logic,” repentance is wrong prior to salvation too.

The error here is that this type of teaching leads to ultimate reconciliation or universalism. Jesus paid for all sin; therefore, all are saved.

The fact is that the provision for my cleansing was completed at the cross but the process of my cleansing is conditional upon my repentance, and not before.

Check out these other articles that deal with the false-grace message:

Why a distorted message of grace is the church’s greatest crisis today—and how we must respond

The original article can be found here: http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/17080-what-s-wrong-with-grace

You can read my article Five Marks of the False Grace Message here: www.johnburton.net/grace-message

Watch as Mike Bickle explains how the American culture has colored the understanding of grace at grace.charismamag.com


imageThe most powerful, significant and liberating message ever given to the human race is the gospel of grace. The Christian life is established on the foundation of this wonderful truth, which emphasizes what Christ did for us on the cross and what the Holy Spirit does in us in our daily life. Paul’s dramatic declaration that we have become new creations in Christ has vast implications for our lives: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away … all things have become new … that we [our spirit] might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:17-21).

The “he” that is a new creation is our spirit man. We possess the very righteousness of God in our spirit (v. 21). This describes our new legal position in Christ—how God sees and relates to us. In Christ, all things have become new pertaining to our spirit. This includes being fully accepted by God, receiving the authority to use the name of Jesus and possessing the indwelling Holy Spirit—all of which enable us to resist sin, sickness and Satan; to walk in victory; and to release the works of God through prayer. The old things that passed away under this legal shift include no longer being under the penalty of sin nor being dominated by the power of sin.

So what’s the problem if we’ve been given such freedom as new creations? Unfortunately, man’s natural tendency to distort truth gets in the way. And when it comes to a truth as fundamental and crucial as grace, that distortion has far-reaching implications. In short, it can become the central crisis of an entire generation.

The Crisis of Our Time

The apostle Jude confronted the great spiritual crisis of his day when he exhorted believers to contend earnestly for the “faith” or for the message of grace originally delivered to them through the first apostles. In Jude 3-4, he writes: “I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed … ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness.”

Think about this: Within one generation after Jesus’ resurrection, it was already necessary to contend for the true grace message. That’s how key this battle over the true grace message is and always has been since Jesus’ definitive work on the cross.

Jude warned of certain men who crept into the fellowship of the church unnoticed—that is, their error went unnoticed by most of the leaders and the people. These men turned the message of grace into a message of lewdness or one that affirmed various compromises, even sexual immorality. These men with persuasive teaching abilities twisted what the Bible said about grace, thus empowering many to confidently continue in sinful activities without feeling any urgency to repent.

Undoubtedly, these teachers of error appeared outwardly to live godly, but in their private lives they refused to repent of various lusts. Instead, they justified their ungodly habits by distorting the message of grace to accommodate their lifestyles.

The result was devastating, as many in the church concluded that it was acceptable for them also to live with similar compromises because these popular teachers were justifying this sort of lifestyle with various Bible verses. In reality, they took these verses out of context of the broader New Testament message, which called believers to live in wholehearted love for Jesus as evidenced by seeking to live in obedience to Him (John 14:15, 21).

The same is true with hyper-grace teachers today. They choose to emphasize only God’s love and forgiveness while practically ignoring Jesus’ call for His people to walk in wholehearted commitment to the Lord. They preach mostly on forgiveness without repentance and on receiving God’s blessing on their circumstances without any conditions. The truth is, it’s glorious that we are freely forgiven by Jesus and that He blesses our circumstances; but these truths are in context to seeking to live in a real relationship with Him and in agreement with His leadership and Word.

Jude’s exhortation is a significant warning for the body of Christ today. When the grace message is distorted, everything else in one’s spiritual life becomes blurred. In fact, there is no spiritual battle more significant in the church today than contending to keep the grace message faithful to Scripture.

Sadly, some believers aren’t even aware of this spiritual crisis regarding a diluted grace message. They must wake up to the emergency at hand—because today, as we contend for the spirit of truth, we are fighting for the very soul of a generation.

It’s easier in today’s world for teachers to creep in unnoticed, as Jude said, because of television and the Internet. Some contemporary teachers distorting the message of grace come from high-profile ministries whose very popularity gives them a false sense of credibility. We must not receive a ministry because it’s attractive and popular; we should only receive it if it’s faithful to the truth.

Paul prophesied of a time when many who profess loyalty to Jesus would fall to unsound doctrine: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

These people aren’t willing to embrace the challenges of a lifestyle of obedience to Jesus as emphasized by the sound teaching in the New Testament. Instead, they have “itching ears” to hear messages that affirm their sinful desires. They want to feel comfortable in their relationship with God, even as they continue to boldly walk out their sinful lusts.

By isolating Bible verses about God’s blessing and forgiveness from the larger context of the New Testament’s call to love Jesus with obedience, they affirm the lustful desires of their hearers. One famous TV preacher went so far to say that there is no longer a need for a believer to repent because Jesus’ work on the cross did that for them. He obviously overlooked the fact that Jesus repeatedly called born-again believers to repent for yielding to various compromises (see Rev. 2:5, 16, 21-22; 3:3, 19).

Grace: The Power to Love and Obey Jesus

If countless sincere believers have already succumbed to the rising tide of this distorted grace message, how can we stand strong through the crisis? It starts by remaining grounded in biblical truth. We must approach the biblical grace message through the lens of God calling us to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30).

The Lord wants us to love Him in a wholehearted way because that’s how He loves us—with all of His heart, mind and strength. This mutual relationship of wholehearted love between a believer and the Lord is foundational to the kingdom. In fact, this is the very way that the Father loves the Son—with all of His heart. The Son loves the Father and the Spirit loves the Father and Son in this way too. Oh, the glorious mystery of one God in three persons who delight in Their relationship of wholehearted love for each other (see John 3:35; 5:20; 14:31; 15:9; 17:23, 26)! God’s plan from the foundation of the earth was to redeem people so that they could participate in this loving fellowship that the three persons of the Trinity enjoy.

The core reality of the grace message is to empower us to walk with God in a relationship of wholehearted love. Jesus called this “the first commandment” (Mark 12:30). Thus, the Holy Spirit’s first agenda is to establish the first commandment in first place in the church. This must also be our first agenda. Wholehearted love is to be “first” in our response to God because it is how the Father relates to the Son and how the Godhead relates to us. We must see grace through the lens of this quality of love. To think of grace without it being anchored in the first commandment is to be aiming at the wrong target. Thus, we distort the grace message when we do not interpret it through the lens of the first commandment. We must love Jesus on His terms, and He defined loving God in terms of a spirit of obedience to His commandments (see John 14:15, 21, 23).

There’s no such thing as loving Jesus without seeking to obey His Word. Some seek to love God on the terms of a humanistic culture that has no reference to obeying the Word. But loving and seeking to obey Jesus are synonymous. All of His commands are based in His love. Thus, the biblical message of grace teaches us to live righteously and to deny ungodliness as the way of expressing our love to God. Titus 2:11-12 says, “The grace of God … has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly.”

If you hear a teaching on grace that doesn’t call you to deny ungodliness, it’s not a biblical grace message—it’s a distorted one.

Legal Position vs. Living Condition

As we correctly view the grace message through the lens of the first commandment, we can also begin to understand the difference between our legal position before God and our ongoing living condition as a response to what Jesus has done. Not only is there a key difference between these two, it’s often the element that hyper-grace adherents conveniently overlook.

Our legal position is what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross, while our living condition is what Jesus requires of us in our response to Him. In our legal position, we stand before God by possessing His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). Our legal standing before God is so glorious that it will never be improved upon—not even with the perfection of a resurrected body—because we received Christ’s very own righteousness. Our legal position relates to receiving His righteousness instantly on the day that we are born again.

Our living condition, on the other hand, relates to growing in righteousness progressively as our mind is renewed, causing our behavior and emotions to be transformed by the Holy Spirit in us.

The gospel is the good news about receiving God’s righteousness and can be seen in three tenses:

  1. Justification: our legal position—past tense, focused on our spirit
  2. Sanctification: our living condition—present tense, focused on our soul
  3. Glorification: our eternal exaltation—future tense, focused on our body

One-third of our salvation is complete (the salvation of our spirit), but the other two parts are not yet complete in our experience (the salvation of our soul and body). All believers have received the fullness of grace in their spirit (legal position), and yet they can still live far below it in their daily experience (living condition).

Much misunderstanding about grace can be traced to misunderstanding the distinctions of these truths. Many confuse what Jesus did for us in our legal position with what He requires of us in our response to Him in our living condition.

Jesus’ finished work on the cross makes His grace fully available to us as a gift. However, our regular interaction with the Spirit causes us to experience the transforming power of this grace in our daily life. James wrote about this when he urged believers to walk in a greater measure of grace because God “gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

James wrote this to born-again believers, calling them to receive more grace. A believer already has the gift of righteousness and therefore can’t receive “more grace” in his or her legal position. However, each of us can receive “more grace” in our living condition—and this is what James was referring to. We can always experience more of God’s grace to transform and renew our mind and emotions (see Rom. 12:2).

Grace in the Eight Beatitudes

If we hope to experience more of this transforming grace on a daily basis, then we must follow the words of the greatest teacher on grace who ever walked the earth: Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) is His most comprehensive statement about a believer’s role in cooperating with God’s grace. In this teaching, Jesus defined loving God in context to the eight beatitudes (5:3-10), offering us a rich understanding of how to walk out biblical grace in our daily lives.

One aspect of this is Jesus’ exhortation to us to hunger for more of God’s righteousness (v. 6). Here, Jesus affirmed the need to press into God for a greater release of righteousness in our daily lives—our living condition. Keep in mind that He wasn’t calling us to receive more of the gift of righteousness, since we already fully possess this in our legal position. Our hunger for righteousness doesn’t cause us to deserve grace—nothing can do that—but hunger positions us to receive more of the outworking of righteousness in our character.

Some believers don’t hunger to grow in righteousness in their daily life. Rather, they seek to know how far they can go in sin and how little they need to talk with Jesus to keep their salvation intact.

Imagine a couple in their wedding ceremony who have just completed their vows. While walking down the aisle for the first time as “one,” the man whispers to his new bride, “How far can I go with other women before we get divorced? And how much do I have to talk to you each week?” Adding insult to injury, he then says, “By the way, we just signed a marriage license that legalized our marriage—so now I have legal rights to all that you possess.”

Of course, the new bride would be heartbroken to hear that her husband didn’t love her with all of his heart but was instead establishing their marriage on a faulty foundation—and focusing almost entirely on the bare-minimum “requirements” and legal ramifications involved.

Some teach about grace in a way that parallels the lack of wholeheartedness portrayed in this analogy. It’s a version of grace more concerned with what it takes to “meet the requirements” on paper than to engage in the authentic, loving relationship for which it was originally intended. Sadly, this error is bound to occur whenever people separate the grace message from the first commandment.

How to Receive God’s Grace

Grace was never intended to be abused, but as our current church crisis proves, it can be. God gives us the freedom to choose relationship and obedience to His Word—and thus benefit from the true liberty found in grace. Yet this is also why Paul urged the believers in Corinth “not to receive the grace of God in vain” (2 Cor. 6:1).

The gospel of grace is distorted in two main ways: first, by presenting God’s love as something we can earn; second, by refusing to call people to respond in wholeheartedness to God. The fruit of the biblical grace message is confidence in the gift of God’s love combined with a spirit of obedience. If either of these two elements is missing, then it isn’t the true message. Thus, receiving God’s grace in vain is to receive it in such a way that it doesn’t produce confidence in God’s love nor the resolve to respond wholeheartedly to Jesus’ leadership. Either distortion is disastrous for our spiritual life.

Like Jude in the first century, we must earnestly contend for the truth about grace. The very soul of the youth in our nation hangs in the balance.

The good news, however, is this: The Holy Spirit is highlighting this spiritual crisis and is committed to the recovery of the biblical grace message. We can be confident that He will release His power to establish the first commandment in first place in the church before Jesus returns for His fully prepared Bride (see Rev. 19:7). Let’s come alongside Him, rather than opposing Him, when it comes to receiving, understanding and walking in grace.

Mike Bickle is the director of the International House of Prayer Missions Base of Kansas City, Mo., and author of several books. For more information, visit mikebickle.org or ihopkc.org.

Watch as Mike Bickle explains how the American culture has colored the understanding of grace at grace.charismamag.com

Have you registered for the Michele Perry event yet? It’s IMPORTANT that you do so ASAP… we’re expecting an overpowering emotional and supernatural atmosphere on SUNDAY, MAY 30th at Revival Church.

You can REGISTER right now (it’s FREE!) at www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/events.

You can read about her amazing journey as the founder of Heidi Baker’s Sudan ministry, Iris Ministries-Sudan.

ALSO- If you know of a church that Michele could minister in on Sunday morning, May 30th, PLEASE contact me right away at john@detroitrevivalchurch.com.

You can read the Charisma article here.

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An article that will appear in the Grosse Pointe News:

One fateful day a long time ago I was walking around a large empty room in a church building in Dayton, Ohio. I had been watching people, very normal people, people who played video games and basketball, on their knees in tears crying out to God.

Their passion was undeniable and real. And, it appeared that their encounter with an invisible and holy Force was also very real indeed.

After all, as I stated, these were people that didn’t have anything fake about them. They had no reason to masquerade or show off to anybody. They were simply desperate people who tapped into something that made me yearn.

In that large empty room I simply walked around and talked—to an invisible Jesus. As I considered the implications of diving into a life passion and surrender I boldly declared something to God:

“If you aren’t real, if you aren’t everything you’re cracked up to be, if you aren’t powerful, if you can’t heal sick people, if you don’t truly work wonders—I don’t want anything to do with you. But, if you are… if really you are… I’ll be willing to die for you.”

At that crossroad of destiny, God dramatically invaded my life in power. I didn’t discover an intellectual revelation or an emotional release. I found the Lover of my soul. Moving Day-400x300

Since that day I have lived what I can only call a thrill ride. It’s the thrill ride of knowing God and watching him do “God-type stuff.”

Miracles and humbling favor have followed our family. Is life still difficult. Yes. At times, terribly so. But God has continually showed up—not figuratively, really.

After traveling to the Detroit area and preaching on the life and fire of the Holy Spirit five or six times in 2008 and 2009, God started to provoke me. I felt we were to move to Detroit and help bring an overpowering move of God to this region.

We owned our house in Grandview, Missouri (which Forbes Magazine called the eighth fastest dying city in America—see the article here) and the only way we could move was if our house sold—for full price. We really wanted to move back to Colorado Springs and work with our ministry there… but, in an attempt to find clarity, my amazing wife talked to God.

“God, if you want us to move to Detroit, we are going to put our house on the market tomorrow. If it’s your will for us to move, sell the house for full price within the next seven days.”

Six days later, in the midst of a national economic crisis, in the eighth fastest dying city in America, the house was sold—for full price. The next month we loaded up the truck and headed north.

We’ve since launched Revival Church and are waiting for the next waves of miracles and the phenomenal favor of Jesus as we position ourselves for an outpouring that will be felt around the world! Get ready Detroit—Jesus has a thrill ride on the agenda for you!

capture-000204 FIRST: Let’s spread the word about the vision of Revival Church! Point your friends to our new welcome magazine! Send Facebook status updates, tweets, emails and whatever else you can to get the word out! I did the hard part (designed it!) 🙂 and now I need your help! Point people to www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/welcome.

SECOND: In lieu of our Wednesday prayer meeting, join me online for a LIVE video broadcast! We’ll gather a larger group together for prayer, discussion and teaching at 7pm every Wednesday. Just head to www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/live!


I’ll be at a special prayer meeting tonight (Friday) from 11pm-1am, and would like to invite you to join me!

I’ll be at IHOPE as usual at 7pm, and will then head on over to the prayer meeting.

Here’s all the info that I received:

Dear Praying Friends,
Bishop James Williams has asked me to lead a prayer time called Midnight Cry at Spirit and Truth Ministries this Friday at 11:00 pm til about 1 am. You can read the details below. This is an important opportunity to seek God for the metro region.
I would love for you to come and join in this united calling out to God. This "city" church is enlarging its vision for the whole region. I SOO appreciate Bishop Williams larger than normal desire to see God affect the region and build bridges to the suburbs! Will you encourage him by standing with him and the sweet people of Spirit and Truth?
The details are below. Let me know if you can go. Feel free to extend this invitation to others.
Humbly,
Eric Moore


Greetings Eric and thank you for consenting to share with us this coming Friday in our Midnight Cry prayer service. The month of January is our Month of Outpouring. It is a time of consecration when we come together to worship and pray and to hear prophetic direction from the Lord for the course of the new year.
This year we are having special services every Sunday afternoon and the Midnight Cry services every Friday at 11:00 p.m. Scriptures tell us that Paul and Silas prayed at midnight from the Roman prison and God responded by opening the prison doors and loosing their bonds. We expect God to open doors and loose bondage over His people in this new season.
We really have no set agenda. Last week for example, each of our Intercessors, who have been given specific assignments to cover individual ministries of the church, were given opportunity to lead prayer in their specific areas of responsibility. Then, we heard from a visiting evangelist and a visiting Bishop. I gave some closing words of prophecy and prayer and we were done.
I'm looking for you to help us expand our prayer beyond our ministry and our people and help us pray strategically over this region. You and your guests are free to move as the Spirit leads you. I'll begin and we'll just move from there. We're usually done about 1:00 a.m. but that's not set in stone – a little before or a little after is fine.
Hope this helps. See you Friday.

Blessed to Prosper in the Year of Harvest (Lev.25:22; Ps.126:1, 5)

Bishop James A. Williams, II.

SPIRIT & TRUTH CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES

KINGDOM BUILDERS ASSOCIATION OF FULL GOSPEL CHURCHES & MINISTRIES

1335 Oakman Boulevard, Det. MI 48238 

(313)-867-7729

I was considering what type of ‘welcome pack’ to send to visitors at Revival Church. There’s all sorts of options out there from a postcard to a letter to full blown video greetings.

I decided to see how a magazine style welcome pack might work. I just finished it, and you can see it below.

We’ll make it available online, and we’ll also send a hard copy to visitors every Monday.

Let me know what you think. Did we forget to include anything you feel might be important?

(Click the magazine below to view it full screen.)