Posts Tagged ‘mike bickle’

Revival Games and Glory Meetings: A radical misunderstanding of just what we are pursuing

Revival Games—The grand prize is not what we think it is.

There are over 19,000 cities in this nation, and none of them are experiencing revival. None. Zero.

Of course, God is moving in unique and legitimate ways in various small pockets all over the world, but not on a regional level anywhere in America.

I propose a primary reason this is the case is the focus of our efforts.

Most are seeking after glory meetings, soaking sessions and sign and wonder events instead of zeroing in on the costly, sobering, prophetic call to repent, consecrate and lay down our lives.

game noun \ˈgām\ An active interest or pursuit; activity engaged in for diversion or amusement

Revival is not a game designed for our amusement.

Revival demands an extreme lifestyle of surrender, intercession and a precise, searing laser focus.

The games that too many are playing today have an end goal of having an experience with God in a powerful corporate setting. You may be scratching your head at what I just wrote. Why would having an experience with God together with other hungry people be a negative pursuit? It wouldn’t. Read it again:

The games that too many are playing today have an end goal of having an experience with God in a powerful corporate setting.

If there’s an event where God is manifesting in supernatural power, I’ll be the first one there and the last one out. I’ll be on my face for hours, days and weeks if possible. I’ve been in many such atmospheres, and it’s impossible to describe just how overwhelming God’s manifest presence can be. Having an experience with God isn’t the problem. Pursuing that experience as an end goal is the problem.

When we play the revival game, the grand prize is limited to a personal encounter with God. I know, that seems like a risky thing to say. How can I even consider that an audience with the King of Glory is an insufficient reward? That sounds absurd if not slightly blasphemous!

However, we must stop and consider this point closely.

I believe revival is not exploding in our cities because we have been satisfied to settle for a personal encounter with God instead of aggressively laboring for millions of others to be overwhelmed by him.

The mission has been limited to our own experience. When we are full, we stop.

True revival isn’t a game, and we don’t stop when we win. We don’t stop when we are full. We start when we are full.

This issue is currently costing us greatly.

People are vacating churches because they don’t perceive the glory is being pursued. The soldiers are more focused on the benefits than the battle, and the enemy is gaining ground.

It’s not about us. It’s about the nations, and we must all be in position every time the church doors are open, on our face, praying night and day no matter how dry the environment is.

Twenty-Elements-of-Revival-Box-ShotINTERNATIONAL IMPACT

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1

In my book 20 Elements of Revival, I map out a step-by-step process of revival based on Acts chapter 2.

The first step, or element, is agreement. We can’t pretend to think we’ll experience God together, much less revival, if we aren’t submitted, agreed and in position.

Today, if people don’t sense a glory meeting or other type of experience is the goal, they will check out. They become conference hoppers looking for the latest, greatest supernatural rush—all while the true remnant is dying to their opinions, praying night and day and crying out to God together. They are unified.

The second element is what I call an extreme devotion of time. They were all together in one place, and refused to leave until the Promise arrived. Today? Finding people to stay in position as commissioned soldiers is nearly impossible. Our American life offers way too much, or demands too much, for us to consider our call to pray and advance in the church to be a primary devotion.

The third and fourth elements deal with the necessity for the atmosphere to be charged with supernatural power and for everybody in the mission to be driven by it.

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:2-4

This brings us to element number five: International Focus.

The Upper Room wasn’t about the Upper Room. It wasn’t a glory meeting for people to enjoy. It was a supernatural equipping center for only those most devoted to the cause. It burned through everybody there, and what they experienced resulted in international impact.

God’s power, glory and truth pierced Jerusalem and the hearts of the people who had gathered from the nations.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” Acts 2:5-12

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

What does this mean? This is the question that will launch a revival.

How ridiculous does it seem to consider that the 120 in the Upper Room would have just focused on enjoying themselves! That historic moment in human history where super invaded natural was not about a glory meeting! It wasn’t about personal satisfaction. It was about the nations.

This must grip us. Today we must have a remnant people who will stop seeking after personal satisfaction at the cost of Earth rocking revival.

There was a major stadium event being planned in Detroit a few years ago. People were called to gather together to pray on fire for the passions on the heart of God.

In preparation for this massive meeting I had the privilege of attending one of the pastor’s prayer sessions. There were around 40 or 50 pastors and leaders there, and as we entered into prayer, a holy hush came over all of us. In that place of sober silence I received a sharp prophetic word for all of us in attendance:

Pastors and leaders, we cannot look to this event, where thousands of people will gather, as an opportunity to grow our own ministries. If we are participating because we are holding out hope that people and resources will come into our churches as a result, we must repent. God will judge all who attempt to use this pure, holy, solemn assembly for their own satisfaction and gain.

Groans were heard filling the room.

When we stop seeking after personal gain and start looking at the masses who are currently sentenced to Hell, our motives will change. Our intercession will explode. Our expectations for revival will shift dramatically.

The power of God will radiate out of our prayer room into the nations and all will be provoked for an answer to their desperate question, “What does this mean?”

Our response will then be like Peter’s: we will preach the Word in power and people will be cut to the heart.

A glory meeting, no matter how intense or widespread, cannot be considered revival. Only when a message of repentance results, and when people respond in mass can we even begin to hope revival is near.

Is it possible there are no people alive today who have experienced legitimate revival? Many believe Azusa and the Welsh Revival were the last true moves of God that could be defined as revival. That was a very long time ago.

ENCOUNTERING GOD

When we have an experience with God, the goal is not to remain on our faces.

Many people didn’t understand why the awakening that occurred a few years ago at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City was eventually deemphasized. I directed one of the four primary internships at IHOPKC for a short season, so I understand at least in part the culture and the vision. The mandate is to pray. I wasn’t there when the awakening broke out, and I’m sure if I was I would have been on my face as often as I could have!

Why did Mike Bickle allow the awakening to settle down? I won’t pretend to have the answer, but I’d at least like to offer a hypothesis. The end goal for IHOPKC isn’t a glory meeting or a local awakening. It’s prayer for the nations.

I am actually in awe of that ministry. Unlike so many others who burn out after a move of God lands, IHOPKC didn’t miss a beat and they didn’t violate their primary purpose. They stayed in the prayer room through the awakening and didn’t pull back when it ended. They had work to do. They were on their face, and then were put back on their feet. I’ll explain that powerful principle in just a moment.

Understand, I am one who is addicted to the love, power and glory of the Lord Jesus! When his presence manifests in a weighty glory, I can just stay on my face forever! The biblical norm for believers is to experience the weighty presence of the Holy Spirit regularly.

However, there is more—much more. And, there is a greater goal than simply experiencing God myself. Others must know about him.

Consider just how intense our God is:

As I looked, behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, and a great cloud, with brightness around it, and fire flashing forth continually, and in the midst of the fire, as it were gleaming metal. Ezekiel 1:4

This is the glory of the Lord!

When God touches us, we can expect to fall over as dead!

Consider this:

  • Lightning is a created force—and if it strikes you, you will fall over as dead.
  • Angels are created beings—and people fall over as dead when they encounter them.
  • What happens when we encounter the Creator?! We can’t presume to just stand there and grin with a hand lifted up when God truly touches us! We will fall over as dead!

I’ll admit, the experience is so phenomenal, so shocking, that it would be easy to just stay in that place, after a supernatural lightning strike puts us on the floor. But, when we stay there, the hope of revival fades.

I was at the International House of Prayer one day when God moved in great power. Someone who had recently attended the Lakeland outpouring was shaking under the presence of God. He came over to me and prophesied over me. I got hit by fire! I fell over and he immediately picked me up and said, “You are going to have to learn to stand and minister under this anointing.”

He was right. I couldn’t just lay there and enjoy the moment. There was work to be done, and I had just experienced the necessary power to do it.

ON YOUR FACE. ON YOUR FEET. ON YOUR FACE.

Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking. Ezekiel 1:28

Ezekiel was rocked and he hit his face. But, notice that he doesn’t stay there:

And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.”  And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. Ezekiel 2:1-2

Ezekiel couldn’t enjoy his glory encounter for long. He was being encountered by God Almighty for a purpose, and the purpose wasn’t just to bless Ezekiel:

And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them. Ezekiel 2:3-5

Messengers and divine messages always precede revival, and Ezekiel was to carry and release a word that was necessary to be heard. If Israel responded, revival would erupt. If not, judgment would come. True messages of revival always include revelation on both mercy and judgment, on revival and rebuke.

See, the Spirit is looking for a people who he can set on its feet. He is ready to empower us to use our feet to walk in the Spirit and to awaken a sleeping generation.

And he said to me, “Son of man, eat whatever you find here. Eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this scroll to eat. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey. And he said to me, “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with my words to them. For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel— not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you. But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, for they are not willing to listen to me: because all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart. Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.” Moreover, he said to me, “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.” Ezekiel 3:1-11

Then, again we see God striking Ezekiel and standing him back up:

So I arose and went out into the valley, and behold, the glory of the LORD stood there, like the glory that I had seen by the Chebar canal, and I fell on my face.  But the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and he spoke with me and said to me, “Go, shut yourself within your house. Ezekiel 3:23-24

We see how invested Ezekiel was in revival in Israel. He didn’t stay in a soaking session simply enjoying God’s presence. He was obedient and instant in his response as God gave him his directives. He was set on his feet to go to his house…and to experience distress over the state of the nation:

And you, O son of man, behold, cords will be placed upon you, and you shall be bound with them, so that you cannot go out among the people. And I will make your tongue cling to the roof of your mouth, so that you shall be mute and unable to reprove them, for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ He who will hear, let him hear; and he who will refuse to hear, let him refuse, for they are a rebellious house. Ezekiel 3:25-27

Ezekiel wasn’t playing revival games, seeking his own amusement! He was repeatedly stricken and put upright by his Commander!

WARN THE CHURCH

In Revelation chapter one John has a similar encounter with God. He also fell, but clearly he was not to soak in God’s presence. He was given a critical mission to warn the church.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 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, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. Revelation 1:10-20

John immediately started writing what was revealed to him. Again, the call was for revival.

SO, WHAT ABOUT GLORY MEETINGS?

As I said, we should expect God to show up in extreme glory at times. This is very good and absolutely biblical.

God finally took Ezekiel into a place of glory:

Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face. As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple, and he said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever… Ezekiel 43:1-7

This is revival! The glory of the Lord filling the temple and the glory of the Lord covering the Earth! This is revival! Even though, as in the continuing drama in the book of Ezekiel, many won’t respond, the spirit of revival will arrive and God will be glorified.

In Acts 2, many marveled and many mocked. While revival can and should impact a city and a nation, the mark of revival is not comprehensive response. The mark is the glory of God filling the region. When that happens, most will rebel more distinctly, but the remnant will be found. The wheat and the tares will be defined.

“As for you, son of man, describe to the house of Israel the temple, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and they shall measure the plan. And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple, its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, that is, its whole design; and make known to them as well all its statutes and its whole design and all its laws, and write it down in their sight, so that they may observe all its laws and all its statutes and carry them out. Ezekiel 43:10-11

So, yes, we will find ourselves on our face before the Lord in glorious victory and true revival…but, the point I’ve been driving home must be clarified again:

The goal isn’t our experience in God’s glory—it’s the experience of the nations!

The process is simple:

  1. On our face: Get struck by God in a place of extreme consecration, prayer and obedience.
  2. On our feet: Be put on your feet to minister the messages of God to a sleeping and rebellious generation.
  3. On our face: Experience revival—God is worshiped by the nations and his glory fills the Earth.

On our face. On our feet. On our face.

…and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God. 2 Chronicles 5:13-14

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3

God 2.0: A slicker, more user friendly version | Three churches to look out for

imageUnsatisfied with God? Upgrade to God 2.0!

The last part of this article will deal with different types of churches that millions of Americans are a part of—that are at significant risk. I challenge you to read this article in its entirety and prayerfully consider, in humility, whether you may have fallen into one of these at risk groups. I must also wrestle with this myself.

I’m disturbed. That’s not news, really, as I was created to carry the burden of God for the bride—his church. This results in a life of both continual joy and non-stop grieving—and never-ending bold calls of consecration.

The dissatisfaction with God in our nation has resulted in an attempted upgrade—a 2.0 version of God that meets our demands and fits the picture for the perfect leader. Always happy. Always nice to us. Always working to fulfill our desires. Not inconvenient. His personality matches what we expect in a God.

Exodus 32:7-8 (ESV) 7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’”

The previous verse reveals the motive of the people:

Exodus 32:6 (ESV) 6 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.

The Hebrews were not satisfied with the current version of God, so their 2.0 upgrade was in the form of a golden calf—a god of their own design.

After all, God’s purpose is to perform as we expect him to, right? He is mostly interested in our desires to eat, drink and play, isn’t he?

My God, how far has the church fallen?

The Bride

Entire movements in our nation have upgraded God to their 2.0 version, and have successfully seduced millions of Christians to abandon the old, outdated, ancient Jesus. The arguments of the emergents have infiltrated the main line church in America.

Before I continue, I have to make an important point. When bold truth is revealed that threatens the status quo of the church, it’s common for those who are invested in that system to accuse the messenger of being unloving or unconcerned for the bride of Christ.

How opposite the reality truly is!

It’s deep, troubling love that causes those who are broken over the compromised bride to sound alarms and shine lights to shake and wake a church that’s in extreme risk of living forever without the Bridegroom!

We must be concerned not for the personal desires and perspectives of those who presume to identify with the bride, but for God himself and his desire for those who are lukewarm or deceived to pursue him with passion!

Josh MacDonald from The International House of Prayer said on a trip to Detroit recently, “This might be shocking to you but 1/2 of the church or more will probably fall away in the end-times.”

That, my friend, is why we must risk offense to let an at risk bride understand just what is at stake. Many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day. That reality haunts me non-stop.

The False Bride

Do we understand that not everybody who calls themselves a Christian actually is? Again, that is why we have an urgent job as forerunners. The false bride, those who think they are Christians but are not, are at extreme risk of burning in Hell for multiplied trillions of years. Actually, forever. We cannot remain silent.

An immediate, and unbiblical response that many people have today is, “It’s not your place to judge.” How many times have you heard that defense from the secular camp? Now, we are hearing it from Christians when their pet sins, false doctrines or structures are threatened!

imageThe accusation is that we are being cruel, unloving or presumptuous by dealing with this subject matter. Again, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

As Christians, we actually have a very serious responsibility to judge in love! It’s a part of our job description. Pure love of the bride will reveal all that hinders love!

We absolutely have a responsibility to urgently warn. To release messages of awakening. To talk about eternity, about Heaven and Hell. To call people to greater fervency. It’s love that demands this, yet so few are sounding alarms.

If I see a child wandering into oncoming traffic, I don’t really care so much about whether he chose to rebel by running into the street. I’m not thinking about his motives or his error of judgment. I just want to warn him so he isn’t crushed by a bus. Yes, it is that simple. It is that urgent.

At Risk Churches

With that in mind, I want to reveal some major church movements and expressions that are actually opposing the cross. The call of every single Christian is to hear God’s voice, to know him deeply and to intercede for the nations. You can gauge where the general church public is by calling a prayer meeting. The most elementary call for any Christian is to pray…and when Christians avoid the prayer room, it’s a revelation of just where we are as a church in this nation. Frightening.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if most people in the church in America are unsaved.

Leonard Ravenhill said he doubts that 5% of American church goers are actually saved.

I heard someone once say, who had a heavenly encounter, that only 1 in 1000 who die on any given day make it to Heaven. Possibly 99.9% go to Hell. That wouldn’t surprise me, and it grieves me beyond what I can bear. God 2.0 would never support this statistic. He is benevolent and unconcerned with our hearts.

Mike Bickle said that the false-grace message, which is one of the leading causes of people being deceived as a false bride, is more dangerous than the issue of abortion and 54 million baby’s blood crying out in our nation!

image

Listen closely! This is serious! My God, help us! Masses of people who are convinced that they are saved are actually following Jesus in an unsaved condition right now! Many more will fall away in the future! Who will warn them?

Before we look at the problem churches, we must consider this: We have to resist the urge to presume the current Sunday driven church structure is the biblical norm. If we think we’re functioning normally, we’ll resort to minor adjustments to that system as repairs are needed instead of the destruction of it in favor of the introduction of the biblical church.

When we truly understand this, we’ll devote ourselves to the removal of man made systems and give ourselves to the development of the new.

Most people alive today have no idea what revival is. They have never experienced it. They have no grid for it. So, we default to what we have experienced and try to build on that faulty foundation.

1. The Money Changers Churchimage

In Matthew, the passage that deals with the money changers follows immediately after another type of church that we’ll discuss next—the Triumphal Entry Church. I find it interesting that these two stories are back-to-back, and that they are events that are closely situated to the drama of the cross. Simply said, the cross of Christ is not only foreign, but resisted.

Matthew 21:12-13 (ESV) 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

The money changers church is possibly the best representation of the current American/Western church. This is a serious issue. This is possibly the most severe and violent reaction from Jesus to a situation when he was still on the Earth.

Note how aggressively Jesus rebuked and resisted the money changers. Why is this?

They were fueled by a spirit of religion. Religion defined is man’s attempt to use God and his church to get what he wants. They were using the temple for personal gain. They were thinking about their own needs and desires instead of ministering to God. They went into the temple with the expectation of leaving with more than they entered with. The call to the church is for us to enter with an offering. A sacrifice. We leave with less than we entered with!

Today, prayer is nearly dead in the church. Additionally, even in churches that support prayer, if every service was cancelled and replaced with prayer meetings, there would be a mass exodus of disappointed people who aren’t getting their desires met. In Acts, the “wait and pray” mandate was resisted by almost everybody. Thank God for 120 who weren’t waiting for a call from a pastor, a pat on the back or the perfect ministry center for their family. They showed up, laid down their agendas and changed the world.

I’ve said it probably thousands of times and I’ll say it again. Our false expectations of what a church should be are resulting in a defiled structure. The church isn’t a house of teaching, a house of evangelism, a house of friendships or even a house of musical worship. It’s a house of prayer first and foremost. The other focuses are important, but secondary at best. Would you stay in a church that prayed as their primary activity? Or would you get frustrated and leave if your demands weren’t met? Is it possible you may be functioning in a similar spirit as the money changers? You go to church to receive instead of to give?

Pastors know most would not stay, so they have all too often traded in their mantle of prophet for salesman. The church product has been altered, spruced up and packaged in a way to let the people know that they will receive the best bang for their buck if they come to their church.

This is grieving, and must end! I am looking for pavement people—those who aren’t looking for comfort, but will hit the pavement and cry out to God as they did in 2 Chronicles 7!!

2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (ESV) 1 As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Long ago as a young, first time church planter, my wife and I would often take visitors out to lunch after the service. I’d do my best song and dance to sell the Revolution Church experience to them. I’d ask what they were looking for in a church, and more times than not I’d encourage them that we’d get right on that! We’d be sure to sell them the product they are looking for! 

My brilliant wife would get so frustrated with me! She wanted me to stop the nonsense and simply communicate our vision. Boy, was she right! I was acting in the spirit of the money changers!

I slowly changed my sales pitch. Instead of letting people know how much they would receive if they chose our church for their home, I was reveal the challenge and the cost. I’d let them know that we all pray together 10+ hours a week. We give financially in an extravagant way. We are fervent and burning and calling people into a radical lifestyle—to the cross.

I’d actually try to discourage them from participating if they weren’t on board with the vision! And, surprise! I got more response from that call than I did trying to sell the perfect experience!

2. The Triumphal Entry Churchimage

Now this is church!

I’ve witnessed first hand how people will flood into an environment that’s full of celebration and exuberance. I enjoy those environments too!

I’ve also witnessed first hand how those same people—those who are dancing at the altar, going after a happy experience, will get sad when the call to the cross is preached. It’s heart wrenching.

The focus of the people at the Triumphal Entry is similar to the focuses in the other churches we are discussing. They wanted their lives to be better. Blessing and personal gain were their motives.

The word “Hosanna” literally means, “save us now.” The people wanted a king who would give them life in a kingdom that would be personally fulfilling. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that desire—unless that’s the extent of the desire.

Matthew 21:8-11 (ESV) 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Notice how there was a measure of sacrifice by the people. They gave their cloaks. They got to work and cut down palm branches. They were exuberant in their worship. I can imagine a spirit-filled environment where people are at the altar dancing and laughing and worshiping. I’ve had that happen in churches I’ve led many times, and it’s great! Many churches are growing with this very positive, happy focus—but, the growth is, in my opinion, often driven by people who will not stay the course if the cross is preached with boldness.

See, Jesus was willing to save them now. However, his methods were nowhere near satisfactory for a crowd of people who were looking for life, not death. Jesus chose the cross as the means to answer their prayers. This crowd of energetic worshipers switched quickly to energetic crucifiers.

I’m all for wild, fervent worship. I am a proponent of continual joy. We should dance and smile a lot. However, we can’t dismiss the burden of the cross and the call to die.

Don’t presume a church is alive just because there’s an electric atmosphere. Human energy and desire can create quite an environment. Wait and see who remains when the call to surrender is high, and the alarms of intercession are sounded.

3. The Rich Young Ruler Churchimage

There is some relation between the Rich Young Ruler church and the Money Changers Church. In both scenarios, personal gain was the focus.

The Rich Young Ruler, however, possessed a sincere desire to follow Jesus. Notice how Jesus reveals this story is all about salvation:

Matthew 19:16-25 (ESV) 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”

I am convinced there are millions of people following Jesus in an unsaved condition. Pastors have affirmed people’s commitment to Christ and, in turn, their eternal security, all while, in many of those cases Jesus knew the deeper truth—they were not willing to surrender all. I believe the sinner’s prayer has probably led more people to Hell than to Heaven. Handled wrongly it gives people false-confidence in their position in Christ.

How many go to church each week, raise their hands in worship, pay their tithes and “follow Jesus” in a very public way, the same way the Rich Young Ruler wanted to—but are actually not saved?

Even Billy Graham admits less than 2% of people who make decisions at his crusades over the years remain true followers of Jesus. Wow!

If you are struggling with this and the truth of your own salvation, that’s good! That’s healthy! I don’t know where it started being negative for us to wrestle with that. Today leaders don’t want to upset people with messages like this out of fear of accusation and ridicule. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling! The disciples in the above passage wrestled with it, and so should we. Let’s see what Jesus says next:

Matthew 19:26-29 (ESV) 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.

The most controversial thing I’ve ever said just may be this:

I give myself about an 80% chance of making Heaven.

Is there any part of the Rich Young Ruler in me? Is it possible that I could fall away? It would be arrogant for me to presume that I’m exempt from the great falling away. I wrestle with Jesus and with my own heart—and I love that process.

Again, it’s healthy and necessary to work that out day by day. And, we need pastors and leaders who won’t skirt that tough topic out of fear of losing people who would rather be coddled. It’s possible that the best giver and most vibrant member of your church is on a track that leads to Hell. We can’t stay silent on this issue.

When you understand how deeply God loves you, it’s wonderful to wrestle with the difficult topics. It’s invigorating!

It’s critical! So many will be shocked to enter Hell. We see this proven in scripture:

Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

imageThe Coming Church

I’ve written on this previously, so I’m going to be extremely short with this concluding point.

The coming church will be marked by:

  • Everybody praying as their primary ministry
  • Everybody ministering to God
  • Praying in the Holy Spirit will be continual.
  • We will be together most days of the week to pray, receive apostolic instruction and move out in unity to fulfill that assignment.
  • We will arrive at church full and leave empty—after we’ve poured out to God.
  • Friendships will be forged in the foxhole more than at potlucks and picnics.
  • The cross will be central.
  • Repentance will be continual.
  • Freedom will be overwhelming.
  • The bar of expectation will be high.
  • It will be apostle led more often than pastor led.

Lets see an Acts 2 & 2 Chronicles 7 church arise!

The Salvation Equation: False-Grace | Hyper-Grace | Distorted-Grace | “Many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”

My life message: The Terror of Hell | “Many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.”

imageFirst: I'd encourage you read the most popular article I've ever written, Five Marks of the False-Grace Message HERE. It's a much shorter teaching that is perfect for relaying to those struggling with this dangerous doctrine. (It will open in a new window/tab)


 

Some may wonder why I am so passionate about this issue of grace, and why I continue to sound the same alarm again and again.

It’s simple—this is my life message. Silence on this issue will result in tragedy beyond comprehension.

My burning passion is to see the church shaken out of slumber into a deep, intimate encounter with Jesus. Out of complacency and any false assurance of salvation and into zealous devotion to follow our all consuming leader. This is all about eternity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Terror of Hell

It’s a message that was hand delivered to me, by God, over 20 years ago, in a dream where I was dragged toward Hell by a demon that strangely had full authority to do so. In a split second, in my night time encounter, I went from beautiful comfort and complete confidence in my position in Christ to maddening terror as I was slowly, methodically dragged toward Hell. The confusion that gripped me was met by the truth that I was indeed going to spend the rest of eternity—multiplied trillions of years consisting of innumerable hours that feel like decades—being tormented in Hell.

I thought, “It’s impossible! I can’t be going to Hell!”

After all, I’m a Christian!

After I came out of this deeply disturbing experience, God spoke clearly to me: John, in your dream you represented the many in the church who will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.

I knew my life assignment was now to humbly yet boldly—and expediently—warn everybody I can. According to Mike Bickle, his opinion is that the number one most dangerous threat today is the distorted grace message… Even a greater threat than abortion. Greater than 54 million murdered babies! Why is it a greater threat? Because as sickening and horrifying as abortion is, there are 54 million babies in Heaven today. False grace results in millions of casual Christians ending up in Hell.

Christians in Hell?

I have to be perfectly clear at this point:

Yes, it is my conviction that many in the church, many in even the most fiery, vibrant and alive churches in the world, are convinced they are saved while living in an unsaved state. False theologies have been so widely embraced that the thought of them being false seem absolutely ridiculous.

Additionally, I am quite comfortable with differing Christian streams emphasizing different biblical principles, and even disagreeing over them—if they don’t threaten eternity. We can disagree over tongues, prophecy, gifts, the timing of the rapture and a myriad of other doctrines—but, the issue of false-grace is different. Eternity is at stake, and many worshiping, bible reading, tithing professing Christians have been deceived and Hell is being made ready for them.

I will share a lot of scripture in this lengthy article to support my position.

You can watch a video where I deal in detail with the false-grace teaching:

How do works fit into the salvation equation?

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

False-grace teachers are vigilant in their attempts to invalidate any measure of works for the Christian—at least as they relate to salvation. In fact, the logical end to the false-grace theology is actually universalism. We do nothing, God did everything, everybody is saved.

Of course, it would be said that we have to believe to be saved. Well, first, that is a work. It takes participation on our behalf. Second, even the demons believe. Even the Rich Young Ruler believed. He was rejected because he was unwilling to do his part. The true motive of his heart was revealed, yet in today’s churches it would be offensive to turn such a man away at an altar call! The common reaction is to give someone assurance of their salvation, all while they may not actually be saved at all. That is a serious indictment on the church to say the least! How many people are going to Hell because a pastor told them they are eternally secure if they simply repeat a prayer after them? I believe the sinner’s prayer may actually be sending more people to Hell than to Heaven!

Leonard Ravenhill states that he doubts that 5% of professing American Christians are actually saved!

The above scripture in Ephesians 2 is actually quite easy to understand. It’s NOT saying that we don’t have to participate in the salvation process. The truth is that we have to be radically involved. The salvation equation includes us!

What the passage is saying is that we cannot bypass Jesus. We can’t give a million dollars to a charity and volunteer at Habitat for Humanity every weekend in order to work our way into Heaven. We can’t decide that the call to serve Jesus is not appealing to us, so we opt instead for option two or three. We can’t create our own salvation plan and then boast about our own abilities. There is only one way, and Jesus is it. And, obedience is very much a part of the equation.

James 1:21-22 (ESV) 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

  • Works minus Jesus equals no salvation.
  • Jesus minus works equals false salvation.
  • Jesus plus works equals evidence of true salvation.

The cross of Christ doesn't eliminate our responsibility, it redefines our responsibility. He did what only he could do and we must do what he will not do.

When he said, “It is finished,” he meant it. His job is done—and ours begins. He emphasized this again in Acts 1. The disciples wanted Jesus to do more work (establish his Kingdom), but Jesus made it clear that his job was indeed complete. However, he let them know that their work was just beginning. They must walk in obedience to Jesus.

Hebrews 5:9 (ESV) 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him…

We can have ‘intimacy’ with Jesus without works, and death is the result. We can also have works without intimacy and the result is also death.

Being intimate with Jesus doesn’t not automatically mean we’ll do good works, and doing good works doesn’t automatically mean we’ll be close to God. Attention must be given to both endeavors. In Matthew being known by God intimately AND doing God’s will are required. We can’t call him Lord without doing his will, and we can’t do works without also knowing him:

Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

This is a quote from the most popular article I’ve ever written, Five Marks of the False Grace Message (www.johnburton.net/grace-message):

It’s striking to me how often I hear that a focus on holiness and obedience equates to legalism. How far from orthodox Christianity has the church fallen?

The only point at which it’s legalism is if we were to reject the cross and resurrection of Christ by attempting to work our way into Heaven. But, if we agree that Jesus is the only one who could have paid for our sins yet we also refuse to work, our salvation is a myth.

Legalism is our attempt to get to Heaven by bypassing the cross of Jesus. Holiness and works are our response to the cross of Jesus.

    • Luke 6:46 (ESV) 46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
    • Luke 8:21 (ESV) 21 But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
    • Luke 11:28 (ESV) 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
    • John 8:51 (ESV) 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”
    • John 14:15 (ESV) 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
    • John 15:10 (ESV) 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
    • John 15:14 (ESV) 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
    • Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV) 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Additionally, we see God dealing with the churches in the book of Revelation. Repeatedly he said, “I know your works.” And, their position in Christ absolutely did hinge on what they did or did not do.

Interestingly, when I talk about biblical works, the most common response goes something like this, “John, we don’t have to perform for God to love us.” Hmmm, why is the issue of God’s love introduced into a discussion about an entirely different topic? I didn’t mention God’s love. I didn’t say that we had to do stuff to convince God to love us, but that is the most immediate reaction I receive. Is it possible that we are living in a “me centered” generation where personal satisfaction and experience are the goal? The issue isn’t God’s love of us, it’s our love of God.

We see this play out all throughout the church. Prayer meetings, conferences and other events are full when the focus is on personal blessing, encounter, healing, prosperity and other bonuses. But, when the call is to die, to intercede for the nations, to carry our cross, to do the work of fervent prayer, to lay down our lives to impact the world, the crowds disperse.

Revelation 3:1-2 (ESV) 1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.

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

Incomplete works can result in names being blotted out of the book of life.

The ESV Study Bible gives clarity to what is being said in Revelation 3:5-6:

Hope for revival is in the fact that a few names—alert and unstained disciples—can still be found in this church. Their unsoiled garments symbolize consistent obedience and courageous faith. Christ promises them the conqueror’s reward: communion with himself (walk with me) and the white raiment of victory.Their name is secure in his book of life, and he will confess their name before the Father, since they have confessed Jesus in hostile circumstances (Matt. 10:32).

Both obedience and faith make up the salvation equation.

From the AMG Bible Commentary on the same verses:

Believers must wake up, change their ways, and determine to follow the teaching of the gospel they first believed. If not, swift judgment will fall upon them.

From Dake:

Here Christ promises not to blot the name out of the book of life of any man who will obey the commands of Rev. 3:2-3. If some refused to obey these commands, would their names not be blotted out? If we say such is impossible we accuse God of using vain threats on His people. He definitely promised Moses, “Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of my book” (Ex. 32:32-33).

Again, we see obedience, works, directly involved in the salvation equation.

The call to wake up and strengthen is a call to works! If that work is not done, that person will in fact one day be cast into Hell.

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

Life Application Commentary on James 2:14:

Faith not accompanied by deeds has no saving value.

Dake:

Christianity demands of its followers good works to all men (Mt. 5:16; 16:27; Eph. 2:10; 1Tim. 6:18; 2Tim. 3:17; Tit. 1:16; 2:7,14; 3:8). One is not justified by works (Rom. 3:25-31; 4:1-6; 9:11; 11:6; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5), but justified ones must do them to prove their Christian consecration (vv. 14-18,20-26).

Faith without works is dead; works without faith is dead (vv. 17,20,26). Neither is complete in itself.

False-Grace is closely related to the false teaching of Antinomianism.

Wikipedia:

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

Regarding Antinomianism, Steve Hill wrote:

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

Are our sins forgiven past, present and future?

Steve Hill: Hyper-grace teachers ignore mountains of other scriptural truths and draw wrong theological conclusions. For example, they rightly teach that Jesus died for all our sins— past, present and future—but wrongly conclude that as believers we no longer have to deal with sin (meaning we never have to confess sin or repent of sin, and the Holy Spirit no longer convicts us of sin).

Again, Jesus told us that his job is finished. He died and rose and that was sufficient to cover every sin, past, present and future.

However, that does not mean our future sin is automatically resolved. We have a part to play.

I posted this to Facebook (www.facebook.com/johburton.net) yesterday:

Are our sins forgiven past, present and future? PAST: Yes. PRESENT: Why are you sinning right now? FUTURE: No.

No? Jesus did his part, but we must do ours. We can absolutely lose our salvation due to a decision to sin.

Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV) 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.

The sacrifice that was fully sufficient for the Believer at the time of his conversion to Christ can be invalidated based on our behavior.

Additionally, this scripture clearly reveals that Jesus paid the price for our past sins:

Romans 3:23-25 (ESV) 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Leonard Ravenhill said:

“I've heard people say “Jesus died for you sins past, present and future.” Imagine a judge tell a thief “you are forgiven of all the purses you stole in the past, the ones you stole today, and the all of the ones you'll …steal in the future.” If that's insane in real life is just as insane in so called doctrine.”

The historic church has always taught that Christ died potentially for all sins , in other words provision has been made for all sins. But that provision has to be applied.

In my message Five Marks of the False Grace Message, I deal with a theology of exemption. The presumption is that Christians are exempt from, and can ignore, certain biblical standards and warnings. For example, the following verse would be ignored:

Matthew 6:15 (ESV) 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

If we believe in a theology of exemption, we’ll rewrite this verse to say, “If we don’t forgive others, we are still forgiven.”

Dan Corner:

Jesus taught openly that sin can drag any person guilty of lust to hell:

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Mat 5:28,29)

The Lord also stated the stipulation for a Christian to get his sins forgiven, that is, he must forgive others who sin against him. Such a teaching would be impossible if his future sins were all automatically forgiven even before they were committed. If that was true then there would be no conditions to get forgiven, unlike what Jesus stated:

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Mat 6:14,15)

Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. (Mat 18:32-35)

From Five Marks of the False Grace Message:

A theology of exemption states that since we are saved, we are exempt from the penalties of sin. That there are parts of the Bible that no longer apply to us. Yes, it’s a heresy.

The number of people who subconsciously or unwittingly embrace a theology of exemption is far greater than those who explicitly pronounce their agreement with this doctrine.

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

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

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

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

From Hall Worthington:

To believe you are saved, while still immersed in sin is to ignore, disregard, and treat with indifference the Bible's many stated exclusions, requirements, and qualifying conditions of salvation plus the commands of Jesus, while relying on a select four verses out of thousands to support an imaginary salvation; never bothering to question how those four verses must be interpreted in conjunction with Jesus' wonderful commands and the rest of the Bible.

Jesus said: Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Mat 5:20

Jesus told five out of seven churches of believers in Revelation that they were lost, on the way to destruction. The Smyrna believers were about to enter tribulation, whom he encouraged. Notice again! Jesus said that five out seven Christian churches of believers were on their way to Hell. Only the church of Philadelphia was doing well because they had kept [obeyed] his word with patient endurance.

Hall also says:

Christendom's false apostles started teaching the lie of instant grace, excusing all past, present, and future sin by grace 2000 years ago, and the itching ears of the world embraced the lie with heaps of teachers and preachers, just like Paul predicted. By grace through faith in what we hear from within our heart, we are delivered from all sin, which is salvation; but only after we have listened to and obeyed the Lord over time. There is no one-time, instant, receipt of salvation by grace; we must grow in grace and hope until we see the end of Grace, Jesus bringing our salvation:

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Pet 3:18
Therefore be resolute of mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of (you seeing) Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:13.

Grace teaches us what to deny. Grace (Jesus) leads us to repentance. With our obedience to His leading and commands, grace then removes the sin, (even the desire to sin), from our hearts — thus to redeem us from all sin and purify us; deliverance from all sin is the true definition of salvation.

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

Then suddenly a bright light hit my eyes. My eyes were closed. I was on my knees with my head on the ground, but a bright light hit me. I lifted up my eyes and said, “What is this?” I opened my eyes and I couldn’t look in the light. Even when I closed them, it pierced into my eyes. I bowed my head again, and I was trembling and thinking, “What on earth is going on?” Then I heard a voice, deep and calm. He called my name three times. I couldn’t answer. There was no strength in me to answer, but inwardly I was saying, “I’m here.” He called me—“John”—three times. Then He said to me, “I knew you before the creation of the world, and I chose you and set you apart to serve Me as a witness in these last days. I want to say to you, if I had come today to take My Bride, you wouldn’t be part of that. I wouldn’t take you.” I can’t describe the shock that came upon me. I think I was in shock. I didn’t even respond. It hit me. He repeated it. He said, “I wouldn’t take you. For it is written, ‘He will appear to those who wait upon Him’ (Isa. 49:23, paraphrased). You’re not living your life as a person waiting upon Me. You’re allowing all kinds of filth to come into your life. You’re living like one who cares not.” As I said, I couldn’t speak with my lips. At that moment I was thinking, “This can’t be happening to me. I gave up my job to serve the Lord; I gave up my house that my father had given me because I wanted to go to the mission field. I gave up this, I gave up that; this can’t be God saying to me that He wouldn’t take me.” None of my theology and teachings could accept that. He spoke to me these words written in the book of 1 Corinthians 6. He quoted them; I found them later. I couldn’t even remember that they were in the Scriptures, but later on I found them in the Scriptures. It says: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:10). “THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS, AND DESPERATELY WICKED” He went on to say to me, “Your life is so full of filth. You walk with an outward appearance, and you cover many things in your heart. You forget that I am the Lord who examines the heart. You are not ready to meet Me.” He began to say to me, “If your life is full of this and this and this and this, then are you ready for My appearance?” As He measured the various things, I could say, “OK, Lord, have mercy.” But then He mentioned one thing that my heart rejected. In my own understanding, I had never turned into that. He said, “If your life is full of fornication . . . ” And everything in me said, “Oh, no. That cannot be.” I said it in my heart, and the voice stopped. For a moment there was silence. Then He said to me, “There is no crooked word that comes out of My mouth. Do you call Me a liar? But because you don’t even know your own heart, I will show it to you. Remember this day when you were in this place at this hour?” Brothers and sisters, I didn’t even remember. I practically saw myself back in that very moment—not as a memory, but as a reality. I was back in that moment. I saw myself sitting in the taxi waiting for the taxi car to be filled. Then I was looking out at some lady with all kinds of filthy imaginations. The moment it came back, I thought, “Oh, God, I have sinned against You.” He said, “No, you haven’t sinned. You live in sin. You live in that. You live from morning to evening in such imaginations. Even in your bed at night you indulge in the same. I know every moment of your private life. I know your thoughts. You don’t even fear, even sitting in church. Someone steps up on the platform to serve Me and you strip them naked in your imagination. You imagine all kinds of things. I am the Lord who examines the heart. Have you not read that he who even looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her (Mt. 5:28)?” Pictures began to pass before me of how my imagination works. This isn’t something of which I could say, “Lord, I fell in sin. Lord, I was weak.” It was my way of life. It was my constant way of life. I was comfortable in it. I was comfortable that no one else could see it, but God was saying, “I see it. I am the Lord who examines the heart.” I was so ashamed, but then He said, “That’s not the worst of all. You still live in this.” He began to mention things that appear humanly small: the envy, the manipulation and undercutting of one another so that you remain appearing the best, so that you appear to do the best, to preach the best, to work more miracles, to be more anointed; all the manipulation and self-promotions, all the grudges we hold in our hearts when we see someone else being promoted or recognized before us. The way the Lord brought it up, it was so filthy. I cried and cried, and at some point I was so intent on my grief. Then He raised His voice and said, “Keep quiet and listen.” “I NEVER KNEW YOU; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS!” I kept quiet, and He went on and on and on, unveiling more and more things. Even the things which appear so small, at that moment appeared so rotten. I felt like I was standing before the judgment seat with everything being thrown out. I wanted to say, “Stop, stop, I accept it all,” but He wasn’t stopping. At some point I was just saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He said, “Keep quiet.” I wasn’t speaking loudly; I was speaking in my heart. He said, “Keep quiet and listen.” As He continued I thought, “I must have been deceived. All along I thought I was serving God and yet I’m so filthy inside. I must have been deceived. The Devil must have taken my life captive a long time ago.” At that moment I thought of the miracles we were witnessing. I thought of the healings. I thought of all those wonderful things, and suddenly my heart sunk. I thought, “The Devil has so deceived me that he could even use me to produce counterfeit miracles; to produce things I thought God was working—and yet it was the Devil all along . . . ” The voice kept quiet for a moment, and then He said to me, “Why are you imagining such thoughts? I don’t do miracles because you’re worthy. I do miracles because I love My people before whom you stand to preach. Have you never read of how they will come to Me on that day and say, ‘Lord, Lord, in Your name we worked miracles, cast out demons, and prophesied’? Then I will say to them, ‘Get out of My sight, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you’” (Mt. 7:21–23, paraphrased). He said, “Don’t depend on the miracles to assess your worthiness. Your worthiness isn’t in the signs and wonders you witness in ministry. I do miracles because I love the people, and My name shall never be left without witness on earth.” He said, “Have you not ever read that without holiness, no one will see God (Heb. 12:14)? It’s not the miracles; it’s the holiness that comes from God.” He spoke to me the scripture in the book of Hebrews.

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

Yes and yes.

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

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

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

Life Application Bible notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don Corner:

Being found spotless, blameless and at peace with God is not automatic. Christians under grace are to put forth every effort to remain in this condition:

Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (Luke 13:24)

The idea that we don’t have to confess sins because we will never again have to deal with the penalties of sin, is so unbiblical that even the most remedial student would pick up on the heresy.

2 John 1:8-9 (ESV) 8 Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

2 Peter 2:20-21 (ESV) 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

If we don’t live in a state of glorious repentance, the sins can overcome us, and the result would be worse than if we had never been saved! Many have had revelations of Hell where they see special attention given to those who walked in the truth and then fell away. This is special attention that nobody would ever want. Additionally, pastors and leaders who don’t reveal this truth are in danger as well!

Baptized by Blazing Fire by Pastor Yong-Doo Kim: Even later that night, as I continued to pray in tongues, I was taken down to hell. I was in a place where there was some devil jabbing a long, sharp spear into rectangular shaped boxes. With foul language, it shouted, “You think you are a pastor? What kind of life did you live? I am ecstatic that you are here with me.” The evil spirit continued to jab the boxes as it cursed. Loud, painful screams came from the boxes, as blood flowed out. I noticed the tops of the boxes were covered with canvass, with a large cross portrayed on it. The boxes were lined up in an orderly fashion, and they stretched endlessly. I could not see where they ended. I realized that they were coffins. Evil spirits were jabbing their long, sharp spears into the holes unmercifully. I asked the Lord, “Jesus, why are the caskets of former pastors here?” Jesus replied, “These pastors did not preach My gospel. They preached another gospel, and those who followed became depraved. This is their end result, a place in hell.” Jesus said, “Depraved pastors will be judged greater.” (Read more here.)

Don Corner says it well:

It takes a present tense saving faith, which submits to and follows Jesus in obedience to remain righteous after getting born again. Moreover, true saving faith can cease to exist and become destroyed (Luke 8:13; 2 Tim. 2:18; 1 Tim. 1:19; Rom. 11:19-23). After salvation, sin can nullify a Christian's righteous and holy standing before God and make him unholy, impure, unrighteous and spiritually dead!

But, isn’t it true that God can’t see the sin of a Christian since he’s washed in the blood of Jesus? No, it isn’t true.

Read through the New Testament. Check out the warnings to the seven churches. God saw their sins. Sins that are not repented of are not covered by the blood of Jesus. Willful sinning results in us being removed from right standing in God.

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

Again, if our future sins are forgiven, and there’s no need to repent or confess, why does this verse in Hebrews, written to Believers (brothers), reveal that sin can cause them to fall away from God?

False-Grace teachers will say that the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict Christians of sin. Whoa. This is an extremely dangerous and UNWANTED concept! We want conviction! We are actively involved in the salvation process. Salvation is NOT a one time occurrence, but it’s a life-long life-changing process. We need conviction. We need God to search our hearts!

Additionally, we have a lot to do to ensure we remain saved!

2 Peter 1:3-11 (ESV) 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We must know our heart! Let God search it out!

Jeremiah 17:9-10 (ESV) 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 10 “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

If you don’t believe this is true, spend hours in prayer and ask God to reveal every thought, every motive, every sin, every issue in your heart—and he will do it! In love! What’s our reaction? Life! Rejoicing! Repentance! Confession! An encounter in the love and forgiveness of Jesus! There is nothing like it!

But, if we do not repent, what God finds in our hearts will be used against us! This is serious!

So many in the false-grace movement say that God is always in a good mood. This is ridiculous. In fact, it would make God quite deranged if this were true! What would you think of a God who was happy and laughing and in a good mood when he cast people he loves into Hell? No, though judgment will certainly come from God, his love precludes him from being happy about the devastation that it will bring.

Revelation 2:19-23 (ESV) 19 “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

Being a willing participant as God searches our hearts is a very good idea! Repenting is critical! Confession is mandatory! To teach a gospel that relieves people of the need to repent and confess can lead them right into fearful judgment at the hands of God!

We even see the results of a non-repentant Christian in the passage about holy communion:

1 Corinthians 11:27-32 (ESV) 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

What about the law?

I’ve often heard Christians say that the OT does not apply to us anymore. That to call Christian to obedience is to put them into bondage under the law. What? It’s an evidence of biblical ignorance.

Some Christians mistakenly think we no longer have to obey any of the basic laws and commandments set out by God the Father in the Old Testament since we are now operating under a new covenant with Jesus. But this view is wrong. Jesus Himself says that He did not come to do away with the law, but to fulfill it.

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17-18)

“Therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:1-2, KJV)

Romans 7:7 (ESV) 7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

There are three kinds of laws in the OT:

Ceremonial laws

These are related to the priesthood, sacrifices, the temple, and cleanness. These are now fulfilled in Jesus (for example, nearly the entire book of Hebrews addresses this issue for Jews who struggled with the Old Testament laws once they were saved). These laws are no longer binding on us because Jesus is our Priest, Sacrifice, Temple, and Cleanser.

Civil laws

These refer to the governing of Israel as a nation ruled by God. Since we are no longer a theocracy, these laws, while insightful, are not directly binding on us. As Romans 13 says, we must now obey our pagan government because God will work through it, too.

Moral laws

Moral laws prohibit such things as stealing, murdering, and lying. These laws are still binding on us even though Jesus fulfilled their requirements through His sinless life. Jesus Himself repeats and reinforces the Ten Commandments.

First we need to understand that the law and works are not the same thing! We are still called to good works… while the law refers to a specific set of commands found in the OT.

Adherence to the law is not a part of salvation. Works, however, is. Faith alone can’t save us.

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

Check this out… there is a certain type of works that does no good:

Romans 3:28 (ESV) 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

…of the law. In the OT it was the Mosaic law that was their only hope. In the NT, faith in Jesus that’s evidenced through New Covenant obedience and works is what saves us.

Joseph Tkach: The New Testament does give us rules and behavioral expectations, but these should be seen as the result of a faith relationship, not as the basis for it.

Romans 3:29-30 (ESV) 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

We don’t have to be circumcised, but we do still have to obey, to respond to God’s NT commands.

Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV) 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The power of that scripture is that God’s attributes are affirmed. Loving God and others covers a lot of ground!

In the OT obedience was required and in the NT obedience is required. The difference? Jesus often told people to obey God, but Moses is not the standard by which obedience is now measured.

Jesus told his disciples to preach the gospel throughout the world. This gospel focuses on the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ.

We don’t take the cross lightly, but we realize how profoundly it obligates us to obey the One who gave himself for us.

Matthew 28:20 tells us that Christians should be taught to obey their Lord and Savior in addition to believing in him.

Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Wake up church!

The ‘happy Christianity’ movement that is experience-focused and self-serving is not scriptural! When we become Christians we sign up to die, we embrace martyrdom! It’s not all about experiencing happiness and blessing!

Of course, there is significant blessing, joy and life in Jesus, but the focus is not on feeling good about life, it’s about taking up our cross and following Jesus in fear and trembling!

Taking up our cross doesn’t mean to wear it around our necks! It’s the same thing as saying today, “put your head on the guillotine,” or “sit in the electric chair.”

Following Jesus isn’t easy. It’s not about our happiness. It’s about him! It’s falling in love with the lover of our souls and responding to his leadership!

I’d strongly recommend reading my book The Terror of Hell. In it I discuss the connection between intimacy with Jesus and salvation. We want to be known by God in a place of deep intimate encounter and full devotion. We want to avoid God ever saying, “Depart from me I never knew you.”

What’s Wrong With Grace? Mike Bickle and the distorted 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

Audio & Notes: Are you ready for the tribulation & the return of the Lord?

Listen to this teaching from tonight’s class at thelab school of fire—The Lifestyle of a Forerunner.

imageYou will get rocked as you listen to this teaching from thelab school of fire. It’s hot off the press—just a couple of hours old.

Are you ready to step into the calling of an end-time forerunner? Listen and find out!

LISTEN: media.johnburton.net/7547883

Additionally, here is a short audio about the most troubling end-time dream I’ve ever had. I shared this tonight, but stopped the recording before I did so. http://media.johnburton.net/2217865 

The Lifestyle of a Forerunner

 

1.      A Generation of Zealots

a.       One of this ministry’s primary callings is to minister with a “forerunner spirit”. Forerunners prepare the way for the Lord by preparing people to respond rightly to Jesus in light of His Second Coming.

b.      A description of the forerunner ministry:

I've been listening to Mike Bickle's series on the forerunner and the fasted lifestyle. Fasting of our time, food and money. He talks about how disruptive it is to give ourselves to God in a radical way. We are living in a prophetic time, we are a prophetic generation, many believe the generation before the Lord's return, and there is a call to radical, extravagant devotion to Jesus.

If we say Yes, we are blessed in the deeper things of God during this life and the one to come. If we say No and lock ourselves behind our safe religious traditions, we risk our hearts growing cold to the deeper things of God. We don't separate ourselves from His love, but we close the door to a greater awakening and walking in deeper revelation. Don't know about you guys, but I want a deeper revelation. The same ole same ole doesn't work any more.

But the radical, fasted lifestyle messes with our worlds. It's disruptive. It means eating less, spending less, sleeping less so we can get up or stay up for prayer. Worse, our pursuit disrupts the lives of those around us – our friends and families.

In Matthew 11:19, Jesus is preaching and reminding the people the religious leaders said John the Baptist had a demon, and they accused Jesus of being a glutton and drunkard. Bible believing, Bible preaching people are going to be offended at the radical lifestyle and they are going to call us crazy, demonized, drunkards and all sorts of things. Our reputations will be ruin, perhaps.

Jesus tells us we will be reviled because He was reviled. But, we will have what can't be taken a way – a knowledge of the Beautiful man. An experience in the pleasures of God, IN THIS LIFE. And I believe, walking in divine power and authority.

I've concluded: Prayer is a must. Not bless Aunt Betty prayers, but intercession. We cannot go on without it. We must pray the Word, believe the Word. We must dialog with God using His own words. It deepens our own understanding, our own revelation.

Giving, praying, fasting unlocks our hearts! Even our smallest effort. The writer of Hebrews understood this and challenges us. “Oh my stars, you guys still want milk? You could be eating steak by now.

c.       We are in a transitional season between generations.

                                      i.            A prophetic generation is arising around the world who's daily lifestyle will look nothing like their parent's.

                                     ii.            Both ancient and emerging

1.      Acts 2:43-47 (NKJV) 2:43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

                                   iii.            Forerunner- a person who goes or is sent in advance to announce the coming of someone or something that follows

1.      Initiator

2.      Originator

3.      Pioneer

                                   iv.            John the Baptist was the forerunner- Matthew 11:7-10 (NKJV) 11:7 As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 “But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. 9 “But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 10 “For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.'

1.      Luke 1:15-17 (NKJV) 1:15 “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 “And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,' and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

                                    v.            Detroit is a forerunner city- we as forerunners are establishing a city of the future as God reveals his plans.

                                   vi.            The ministry of the forerunner, especially during transitional seasons like the one we're in, is one of the most important in the church.

1.      For those who are forerunners

2.      For those who are not

3.      Forerunners must:

a.       Clearly hear God's fresh Word

b.      Accurately declare that Word

c.       Warn others of what is coming

e.       Apostolically prepare new ground

f.        Prophetically see what God is doing and do whatever is necessary to prepare the body for what lies ahead

g.       Isaiah 40:3-5 (NKJV) 40:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; 5 The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

                                                                                            i.            We are also preparing the way for Jesus!  The preparation of the arrival of a city of refuge, of a city of worship and of Jesus himself requires absolute focus, energy and passion.

h.      Embrace the continual disruption to our rest, our focuses, our families, our relationships, our work and our pursuits- as God continually requires more of us, shakes us to the core and develops us into radical pioneers!

                                                                                            i.            My call to die (YMCA)

                                                                                           ii.            Becca was told that she would have to surrender her family to God if she wanted to accept her calling.

                                                                                         iii.            Vision of her daughter on the dock

                                                                                         iv.            The life of the forerunner, as with John the Baptist, is a life of lonely and zealous and continuous declaration. 

1.      They have surrendered their lives.

2.      God asked Becca permission to take her life.  He asked me permission to take mine.  He's asking the entire generation of forerunners to die.

3.      Mat 14:10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.

i.         Report from the Forerunner School of Ministry

                                                                                            i.            My Internship Experience: Do Not Despise the Process

As I sit down to write this paper and reflect upon the changes that have occurred in these last six months, I’m actually weeping because of my gratitude and amazement. I could never have imagined all that has happened in these last six months. As I read through my application testimony, I’ve realized that the girl sitting here today is not the same person that wrote that paper less than a year ago. God’s been busy…

I’m not going to lie; this was not a fun season of life. I’ve never cried so much, nor felt so lonely, nor felt like my very life was being sucked out of me with each passing hour in the prayer room (graphic, yet true). I had anticipated a breaking of sorts when I got here, Lord knows I needed it, but I did not understand the entirety of what I had signed up for. In the infamous words of Corey Russell, God got up in my business. Almost as soon as I got here, God took me out of the excitement and comforts of internship bonding and into a twenty-one day fast (promptly breaking my fear of fasting). It was clear that this season wasn’t about my ability to make good friends; God wanted me all to himself. In a place where every single false comfort and idol had been stripped away and only loneliness and barrenness remained (thank you, Dana Chandler for providing language for the groaning), I quickly realized that I had a deep fear of intimacy and animosity against God. I didn’t trust God. Actually, everything that I struggle with has its roots in distrust, is God really who he says he is? Will He really do everything he has promised? Can I really give him my whole life? God has proven faithful time and time again to answer my many questions.

This is what it all boils down to: I’ve fallen in love with a Man and he’s bid me come and die so that I may truly live. I’ve signed up for a life that’s different, wholly other than what the world thinks of as a successful life. I didn’t know that my life would be “ruined” when I got here. I didn’t know that there would be an unsatisfied ache in my soul that will remain all the days of my life. I didn’t know that I was going to be preparing for the last days and the return of my Lord and Savior, which was, by the way, one of the biggest shocks of the internship – my college education in theology did not prepare me for this message! I didn’t know the cost would be so great and that the reward would be far greater…here I go weeping again. As this internship ends, I find that I’m embarking on a great journey: To spend the rest of my life now and in eternity experiencing this man and his love and seeking out a comprehension of this God and his glory; what could be greater? 

I've had a hard time giving language to all that has taken place in my life. What do you say when God takes you to a place of complete death to self, only to realize that what rises from the ashes is a hunger pang that can never be satisfied by anything less than the presense of the Lord. Guys – I'm ruined. I don't want anything but God. All else in this life is dim, dull and painfully worthless

j.         Those who don't feel they are forerunners must:

                                                                          i.            Embrace their relationship with the forerunners in their lives

                                                                         ii.            Listen closely to the instructions of the forerunners

                                                                       iii.            Prepare for a drastic lifestyle change in the comings months and years

                                                                       iv.            Deliberately discipline themselves according to the Word of the Lord for this season

d.      I've lived a strange experience in ministry

                                      i.            Since 1991 I have been burning with virtually the same message and have been both disappointed and shocked that so few in the church were eagerly responsive.

1.      Calling prayer meetings as a youth pastor and everyone stayed in the foyer

2.      Prayer walking in San Diego- less than 10 people vs. going to the beach- 40-50 people

3.      In the church in Dayton every day after work for hours alone while most others barely made it 2-3 times a month

4.      I found myself puzzled as I would proclaim the necessary and critical directives of God- pray hours a week!  I'd get nods, smiles and some response… but much non-responsiveness.

                                     ii.            I wasn't alone in my pursuit, I knew that.  I experienced first hand mighty people of God who also modeled such a lifestyle.

e.       The critical relationship between the forerunner and the body

                                      i.            As I've discovered more about the forerunner ministry, the more I have understood the critical importance of an intentional relationship between them and the church.

                                     ii.            If you can't hear God, stay very close to someone who does.

1.      Amos 3:6-8 (NKJV) 3:6 If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it? 7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. 8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?

2.      We know that we should all prophesy, should all hear God… especially those associated with ministries like this as we are a team of forerunners and developing forerunners.

a.       However, there is a special prophetic declaration that is being sounded through forerunners- and it's critical to heed that alarm!

b.      The difficulty in this is that those who don't personally hear the alarm simply assume that it is not sounding, or that it is not for them.

c.       The reality is that God established the prophetic ministry as a protective measure for his church.

d.      It's very important to read the Elijah List, to listen to people like Chuck Pierce and others who are proclaiming the Word of the Lord for these end-times.

e.       Habakkuk 2:2-3 (NKJV) 2:2 Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. 3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.

                                                                                            i.            The visionaries, the forerunners, write the vision down and the rest of the body reads and runs!

                                                                                           ii.            John 1:14-15 (NKJV) 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' ”

                                                                                         iii.            John the Baptist said, “this was He of whom I said”… yet people weren't entirely ready for his arrival.  Will the church be ready to respond to the word of the prophets?  The forerunners?  Is the church resisting or responding?  Heck, are those who are called as forerunners resisting or responding!

f.        Are you called as a forerunner?  Someone who is establishing now what God desires to exist in the not to distant future?

                                      i.            If so, you will have the responsibility of proclaiming and establishing some difficult truths.

                                     ii.            You will have the responsibility of reordering every part of your life to ensure there is extreme time, energy and passion available to complete the mission.

                                   iii.            We as forerunners are living now as the entire generation of Spirit-filled believers will be living in a short amount of time.

1.      We are praying hours a week, we are together in strategy sessions continually, we are maturing at a very fast rate, we are unified and organized as a holy military.

2.      We are allowing extreme lifestyle pressure to hit us because of the severity of the prophetic call on our lives.

3.      Isaiah 62:6-7 (NKJV) 62:6 I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, 7 And give Him no rest till He establishes And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

4.      We must repent for our schedules!

a.       We are called to order our lives in such a way that our mandate is carried out, not in a way that focuses on rest and entertainment!

g.       The forerunner is simply announcing what will be the normal lifestyle of the normal believer in a short time to come.

                                      i.            This doesn't mean all will respond, but it means that those whose hearts don't grow cold will be those that do respond.

                                     ii.            Luke 8:16-18 (NKJV) 8:16 “No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. 17 “For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. 18 “Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.”

                                   iii.            As we hear and shine the light of the Word of God, more and more revelation will come to us.  It's the normal way of life for the believer- but we are living below the bar.

1.      It will be the norm to be in church and ministry activities 4 or 5 nights a week.

a.       Psalms 27:4 (NKJV) 27:4 One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple.

2.      It will be the norm for every believer to pray easily 15 or more hours a week (This lifestyle is already normal in Africa- Friday prayer meetings.  We must look at this and understand we are lagging way, way behind God's norm for the church)

3.      It will be easy to understand that the lifestyle God gives us is not there to bring comfort to our lives, which is the opposite of the mindset of the western church now.

a.       The extreme problem in the church as we know it is that we assume it's there to make our lives better, that God's primary purpose is to comfort us… but it's an inaccurate idea!

                                                                                            i.            When we find ourselves full enough, the prayer stops, the effort ceases, the pressing eases.  We must push because of the magnitude of our mission!

                                                                                           ii.            We will only fulfill our mission if we are bleeding and sweating and pressing in great unity every day of the week with smiles on our faces and fire in our eyes!

b.      Our pleasure and comfort will come through intimacy and obedience.

c.       Isaiah 58:12-14 (NKJV) 58:12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. 13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the LORD honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, 14 Then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

4.      The disruption of our daily lives will be embraced.

5.      Romans 12:10-11 (NKJV) 12:10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

6.      Let's join with other forerunners around the world and establish now in our lives and in this city what is to come!  Detroit is a forerunner city- one that will be devoted to God not only on Sundays, but 24/7!  It will disrupt everything in our lives, it will demand much, and it is what God has called us to!

7.      The way we live our lives now, as forerunners, is what we are prophetically declaring to the world- as we live so they will live.  Is it enough?

2.      John the Baptist

a.       Characteristics of a forerunner's life

                                      i.            Self-denial- Matthew 3:4 (NKJV) 3:4 And John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.

                                     ii.            Courage- Matthew 3:5-8 (NKJV) 3:5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him 6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…

                                   iii.            Obedience- Matthew 3:13-15 (NKJV) 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.

                                   iv.            Powerful Preacher- Mark 1:4-5 (NKJV) 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

                                    v.            Humility- John 1:19-23 (NKJV) 1:19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD, ‘ ‘ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

                                   vi.            Holiness- Mark 6:20 (NKJV) 6:20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

                                 vii.            Burning Zeal- John 5:35 (NKJV) 5:35 “He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.

                                viii.            Honored by Christ- Matthew 11:11 (NKJV) 11:11 “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

                                   ix.            Did No Miracle- John 10:41 (NKJV) 10:41 Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.”

                                     x.            Suffered Martyrdom- Matthew 14:10 (NKJV) 14:10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.

 

Mike Bickle: 7 Characteristics of the End-time Praying Church

7 Characteristics of the End-time Praying Church

4:00PM EST 1/3/2013 Mike Bickle

Here’s another must read article… a repost of a message by Mike Bickle. You can read the story in its original location here: http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/13386-not-just-a-movement

Mike Bickle

The end-time role of the praying and worshipping church

Right now, all across the earth, the Holy Spirit is raising up a worship-based prayer movement that will culminate in the second coming of our King, Jesus. This isn’t a new idea, but one rooted in history and, more importantly, in the Bible. This prayer and worship movement that we see exploding across the planet was prophesied many years ago, as recorded in the Scriptures. I believe that what we’re witnessing today, with the rapidly growing worldwide prayer and worship movement, is the beginning of the fulfillment of biblical prophecies about the end times.

This conviction that God is raising up a worldwide prayer movement that will precede Jesus’ return has strengthened my resolve to build a 24/7 worship community. We started on May 7, 1999, and for the last 12 years the International House of Prayer Missions Base of Kansas City (IHOP-KC), consisting of full-time missionaries who serve as worship leaders, singers, musicians and intercessors, has continued nonstop in worship and prayer. Our hearts are set on gathering corporately to worship Jesus 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Partnering with Him in intercession, we contend for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and for the release of justice, both in our own city and in the cities of the earth. What started with 20 full-time missionaries has grown to more than 1,000 full-time staff and 1,000 students and interns in our Bible school.

Why do I mention this? Because if weak and broken people in Kansas City, Mo., can do this, anyone can! And that’s exactly the point God wants made. The Lord is determined to establish a culture of prayer in the entire body of Christ worldwide before He returns. Over the last 10 to 20 years, we’ve watched the prayer movement grow especially fast in Asia and Africa. Yet this rapid growth is only the first fruits of what Jesus is doing in His church in this generation.

I believe this is the hour in history when many of God’s people from a multitude of ministries, churches and denominations will align themselves with Jesus’ commitment to build His church. It will be in such a way that He Himself will call it “a house of prayer for all nations” (Is. 56:7).

The Scriptures describe several characteristics of the end-time worship and prayer movement that are involved in releasing God’s presence and power. When people pray, the spiritual atmosphere over cities and regions is changed. Demons are driven back from their place of influence, angels are more active, and the Spirit releases a greater measure of grace on our labors. Thus, the preaching of the gospel and the works of the kingdom become more effective. Jesus taught us to pray for God’s kingdom to be expressed on earth as it is in heaven (see Matt. 6:10). This includes worship—the Father desires to be worshipped on earth as He is in heaven.

The apostle John wrote more on the end-time worship and prayer movement than any other writers of Scripture. From two of their books—Isaiah and Revelation—we can define seven characteristics of this global movement.

1. It will be God-centered (Rev. 4:8; 5:11-14; Is. 24:14-16).

The worship order of heaven is decidedly God-centered. Night and day, day and night, those nearest God’s throne proclaim the truth about who God is and what He does. He desires that His creation would encounter His majesty, love and goodness and that, in turn, they would offer up their praise and adoration for all He is, all He has done and all He will do. Treasuring God and adoring Him endlessly is the priority of the prayer movement. It is the necessary and fitting response to His matchless beauty and immeasurable worth.

Worship is a witness on earth to the indescribable value of Jesus. The truth of His greatness must be declared in song and in proclamations because it is the ultimate truth on which the created universe exists. This truth of the greatness of God is powerful. God loves the truth, including the truth about Himself.

The power and supremacy of the grand truth about God demand expression on the earth. If the people do not worship our great God, Jesus said the rocks would cry out in our place (see Luke 19:37-40). The end-time worship and prayer movement will extol the majesty and worth of God as it joins the symphony in heaven, where the worshippers are forever crying out, “Worthy is the Lamb!” (Rev. 5:12). 

Our prayer life is best energized when we experience intimacy with God’s heart. The Father relates to us with tender mercy. Jesus relates to us with fiery desire as our bridegroom God (see Is. 54:5, 62:5).In Revelation 22:17, John prophesied that the Spirit and the bride would say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” This is one of the most informative and significant prophecies describing the end-time church. In it, John describes an end-time church in unity with what the Spirit is saying and doing.

What is the Spirit saying? He is speaking to believers about their corporate identity as Jesus’ bride. What is the Spirit doing? He is interceding for Jesus to come in power and calling thirsty people to come to Jesus, the bridegroom God.

In the end times, for the first time in history, the Spirit will universally emphasize the church’s identity as Jesus’ bride. It is not the Spirit and the family who will say, “Come!” or the Spirit and the army, kingdom, body, temple or priesthood. Rather, it is the Spirit resting on the church as a bride. Forever, we will rejoice in our identity as God’s family, body, temple, priesthood and more. 

As sons of God, we are to experience God’s throne as heirs of His power (see Rom. 8:17). As the bride of Christ, we are to experience God’s heart—His desire for us. The bridegroom message is focused on Jesus’ emotions for us, on His beauty, on His commitments to us (to share His heart, home, throne, secrets and beauty), and on our response of wholehearted love and obedience to Him. 

Understanding this message begins with experiencing His affections for us. Jesus delights in us, enjoys us, partners with us in the work of the kingdom and is committed to our eternal success.

Isaiah described the end-time prayer movement as deeply relational, a quality that would stem from the revelation of God as our bridegroom (see Is. 54:5, 62:5). In no way should “the bridegroom God” term conjure up images of our Lord and King as some sort of sensual lover or “boyfriend God.” That is grossly inappropriate and dishonoring to Jesus.

One reason people burn out in intercession and ministry to others is because they lack intimacy with God through encountering Jesus as their bridegroom God. The revelation of the church as Jesus’ cherished bride is essential for keeping our hearts alive through the years as we diligently do the work of the kingdom.

2. It will be continual (Rev. 4:8; Is. 62:6-7; Luke 18:7-8).

In Revelation 4-5, the apostle John describes the heavenly worship order around the throne. In His vision of God’s throne room he witnessed celestial beings who “do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy ” (Rev 4:8). As already mentioned, God desires to be worshipped on this earth just as He is in heaven—continually and unceasingly.

Moreover, the prophet Isaiah saw a prayer movement on earth that would not rest night and day until God’s purposes were fully established (see Is. 62:6-7). In these last days God is raising up a prayer movement that will continually worship Him and cry out to Him for His plans to be executed and His justice to be released (see Luke 18:7-8).

The call to 24/7 worship and prayer is not an invitation to organize it all under one roof. Continual prayer usually is expressed by the body of Christ together as prayer is offered up from many different buildings across a city or region. The call of 24/7 prayer is to build a prayer culture among God’s people across cities and regions so that Jesus receives continual, corporate worship from many different ministries and locations. Each does its own small part, but together all offer night-and-day prayer and worship.

I do not believe the Lord is calling most churches to start a 24/7 prayer ministry in their building but instead to build a prayer culture in their church. Unless the Lord specifically calls you to start 24/7 prayer in your congregation, it is best to view it as what will result from the collective efforts of hundreds of prayer meetings held in homes, churches, universities and businesses across your city.

3. It will be global (Is. 24:6-7, 42:10-12; Mal. 1:11).

The Scriptures are clear that the end-time worship and prayer movement will extend all across the earth, even to the most remote and difficult-to-reach places. Isaiah prophesied that even in the remote islands of the earth God’s people would sing to the Lord in worship and intercession (see Is. 42:10). He witnessed worship going forth in the wilderness, or desert places—even in Islamic villages such as Kedar in Saudi Arabia and Sela in Jordan—and that God’s people would worship from one end of the earth to the other until Jesus returns (see Is. 42:11, 13-15).

Simply put, the end-time worship and prayer movement will be in every place, even the hardest and darkest places (see Mal. 1:11). That means it will be international. King David had a continual, musical worship movement in Jerusalem. About 300 years after him, Isaiah said, in effect: “The worship moment will go far beyond what David did. David was limited to one location. The end-time movement will be global.”

4. It will be musical (Is. 24:14-16; 26:1; 27:2; 30:29; 32; 35:2, 10; 42:10-12; 54:1).

Some who lead prayer ministries struggle with the idea of prayer meetings being led by music, but the idea is biblical. One aspect of the kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven involves music in our prayer meetings. This is seen in Revelation 5:8-9. 

When I first began having daily prayer meetings, we did not include music led by a worship team. We spent more time shouting at the devil than we did talking to God. It seemed like the mark of a good prayer meeting was exhausted and hoarse intercessors. Eventually I introduced music, and our prayer meetings became not just bearable but enjoyable! 

The end-time prayer movement is musical. The human spirit is deeply musical because we were created in the image of God, who is very musical. Few things touch the human spirit in the way that anointed music does.

5. It will be missional (Rev. 7:9, 14).

The end-time worship and prayer movement will be instrumental in ushering in the greatest harvest of souls in history (see Matt. 24:14; Rev. 7:9, 14). Jesus said in Luke 10:2 that we must pray for the Lord to release laborers for the harvest. Throughout the Scriptures we see a pattern in which communities, such as the one in Jerusalem in Acts 2 and the Antioch community in Acts 13, gather together in worship and prayer. From those prayer meetings, missionaries are sent out and evangelism movements are unleashed that result in a significant harvest of souls.

Jesus connected night-and-day prayer to the release of justice on the earth (see Luke 18:7-8). He spoke of this in the context of the end times, with specific reference to His second coming (see Luke 17:24-37; 18:8). John spoke of the end-time prayer movement as being deeply connected to the release of God’s judgment to remove oppression from the earth (see Rev. 6:9-11; 8:3-6).

6. It will be youth-oriented (Mal. 4:5-6).

The end-time prayer movement will consist primarily of young people. We know historically that most people who turn to Jesus do so before they are 25 years old. Most great revivals of history were focused primarily on youth. This will be the pattern again because the majority of the world’s population is under age 25.

Malachi prophesied that the Holy Spirit would turn the hearts of the fathers to a focus on the youth during the generation in which the Lord would return (see Mal. 4:5-6). This means spiritual fathers and mothers will focus on God’s purpose for young people in the end times. Thus, the end-time prayer and worship movement will comprise youth who walk in a spirit of humility and honor.

David spoke of a time when young people would declare the excellence of God’s name throughout the earth. This will happen, in the fullest sense, only in the generation in which the Lord returns.

David went on to prophesy of the power of this worship movement that would flow from the mouths of babes. He said that even through the youth God would release His strength to silence the enemy and the avenger (see Ps. 8:1-2). Jesus referenced David’s prophecy during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It was at this time that He declared His house would function as a house of prayer.

Matthew tells us that immediately after this the scribes were indignant at seeing children cry out in worship to Jesus. Jesus answered them by quoting David’s prophecy that from the mouth of babes God would perfect praise (see Matt. 21:13-16). David’s prophecy of young people worshipping God was so important that Jesus emphasized it in the context of calling God’s house a house of prayer. On another occasion, David prophesied about young people volunteering for the Lord’s end-time army at a time when God’s power would be openly manifested in the nations (see Ps. 110:3, 5).

7. It will be unified (John 17:21-23; Eph. 3:18).

In His high-priestly prayer, Jesus prayed and prophesied that He would pour out His glory, enabling His people to walk in unity and greatly enhance the effectiveness of the gospel (see John 17:21-23). The end-time worship and prayer movement will function in gracious cooperation because God has entrusted different aspects of His purposes and plans to separate parts of His body. Out of necessity, but borne of love, the prayer movement will be profoundly unified as the church experiences the fullness of God’s purpose by honoring and serving one another in relationship. This will be achieved by a supernatural grace that God will pour upon His body, enabling it to walk in love and a spirit of unity. For unity is the place where God commands His blessing in the greatest measure (see Ps. 133:1-3).

The Holy Spirit is calling the church to rise up in unity as the end-time prayer movement to offer fervent, continual intercession and worship that flows from prophetic music and intimacy with God. From this position of strength we will work together to fulfill the Great Commission and bring in the greatest harvest of souls in history. And Jesus will respond to the voice of His bride calling out as one with His Spirit for Him to come in power, vanquish His enemies and fill the earth with the knowledge of the Lord.

Mike Bickle is the director of the International House of Prayer Missions Base of Kansas City (IHOP-KC) and author of several books. For more information, visit mikebickle.org or ihop.org.

What the Bible Says About the Prayer Movement

Revelation 22:17 speaks of the Spirit and the bride—the praying church—crying as one to the Lord Jesus, saying: “Come!”

No one knows the day or the hour of Jesus’ coming. But we do know that He will come in response to a worldwide worship and prayer movement beckoning Him to return. Check out all the indicators of this in Scripture:

  • Psalm 68:32; 96:1, 9, 13; 98:1-9; 102:15-22; 149:6-9
  • Isaiah 12:4-6; 19:20-22; 24:14-16, 23; 25:9; 26:1, 8-9; 27:2-5, 13; 30:18-19, 29, 32; 35:2, 10; 42:10-15; 43:26; 51:11; 52:8; 54:1; 62:6-7
  • Jeremiah 31:7; 51:8
  • Joel 2:12-17, 32
  • Zephaniah 2:1-3
  • Zechariah 8:20-23; 10:1; 12:10; 13:9
  • Matthew 21:13
  • Luke 18:7-8
  • Revelation 5:8; 6:9-11; 8:3-5; 9:13; 14:18; 16:7; 18:6; 22:17

Listen now to Ten Threats to Revival #8: Unbelief

A spirit of entitlement is false-faith. God is calling us to move ahead boldly as people of great faith!

Last night’s teaching is ready for you to listen to now here: http://media.johnburton.net/5885592

image You can follow along with my notes here:

  1. Threat 8. Unbelief

1. You can do this! You are called to live a ridiculously supernatural life!!!!!

1. 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!

2. Understand that most people will not believe. In order to be in the mix of the end-time revival, you must believe!!!!! The more we pray, the more we believe!!! The more we hear his word, the more faith! Faith comes by hearing!!!

1. 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?”

2. Frank Bartleman wrote Evan Roberts and asked him how to launch revival.

1. So, Frank did it and Azusa exploded and changed the face of Christianity!

2. Mike Bickle prophecy: “I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity in the earth in one generation.”

3. So what is Evan Robert’s prescription?

1. “Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God’s promises. Hold daily meetings. ”Evan Roberts

2. Reading this simple yet non-negotiable prescription for revival reveals that the church of this nation is far from ready!

3. Evan Roberts reveals one of the elements of revival is simply to believe God’s promises.

1. In Detroit there’s false belief over this region: Entitlement

1. When people don’t get what they presume they are entitled to, rage ensues.

2. The right to work legislation resulted in violence in Lansing.

4. It’s stunning how little the church believes in the supernatural. Healing, freedom, power and abundant life are tragically rare.

1. 1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith.

1. The call of revival is the call to overcome the spirit of this age.

1. It’s a HUGE, HUGE mission, and if we struggle in our belief, we just won’t get it done.

2. We must be Believers, not hopers.

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3. Matthew 13:57-58 (ESV) 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

1. I experienced this when I was traveling to Detroit… faith was high!

2. Now, who comes with raging, burning expectation of fire every Sunday?

3. If we expect to only have another service, that is what we will get—fire requires fervent, active faith that won’t relent!!!!

1. Most people think faith results in waiting… waiting for God to do something.

2. Not true!!!!! Faith is simply belief that something is to be done!!!

3. We go after it!!!

4. Faith is an action word-when we have it, based on a revelation of who we are in Christ, we rock the world, we work with passion, we burn continually!

1. Start a Tribe!

2. Pray continually!

3. Move! Advance! Do! Go!

1. Mark 9:17-24 (ESV) 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

2. Jesus doesn’t take kindly to lack of faith!

3. Now, get this… the kid was going to die if the father didn’t have faith!!!! This is why he said ‘help my unbelief’… it wasn’t casual!! There was a point of crisis… he had to believe to save his son!!!!

2. Matt 9:20-22 (NIV) 20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.

1. Faith is an action word! After the revelation comes the action… it takes both to receive what is rightfully ours.

2. It wasn’t only a hope and a prayer… it was a revelation and response.

3. Mark 4:23-25 (ESV) 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

3. 1 Tim 6:12 (NKJV) 12Fight the good fight of faith

1. We don’t wait for things to happen, we cause things to happen!

2. Matt 21:21-22 (NKJV) 21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done. 22“And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

3. DO what was DONE to the fig tree. Faith is an action word!

4. Hebrews 6:11-12 (ESV) 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

5. Action!

2. Oh God, I really want a great job in the ministry- I know you’ll come through for me… it will happen as you have divinely designed.

1. Well, have you submitted a resume?

2. Have you studied to show yourself approved?

3. Have you done the work?

5. I believe one of the most critical areas of both crisis and opportunity has to do with identity.

1. A spirit of insignificance- listen to it!

2. Wrong identity absolutely annihilates faith and ministry.

1. It has people hiding from their enemies in caves.

2. It results in taking a casual approach to ministry.

3. It keeps people at home or relaxing when their comrades are on the wall in the church.

1. Check out this report:

1. We had revival (I mean, full-tilt, make Brownsville Toronto and Lakeland look tame) … we were about to ramp it up… and suddenly most of the people who make it all “work” had “other things to do” —I wept.

2. If we believe, we will advance, work and expect… we won’t pull back or be casual.

3. If there’s someone who’s casual in their pursuit, you can know they are having a faith crisis.

2. If we have a wrong understanding of our identity, we tend to participate in the church or in mission so it can make our life better instead of walking in the power of an accurate identity using our lives to make the church better.

3. George Barna- Americans consider survival in the present to be much more significant than eternal security and spiritual possibilities.

6. Faith is what others will see as evidence that God is who we believe he is.

1. Heb 11:1 (NKJV) 1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

1. It’s when we tithe before we see the money to pay our bills.

2. It’s when we step into the impossible.

3. It’s when we pray for the sick.

4. It’s when we obey the Word!

2. Action

1. Heb 11:4 (NKJV) 4By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice

2. Heb 11:8 (NKJV) 8By faith Abraham obeyed

3. Heb 11:27 (NKJV) 27By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.

4. Heb 11:29 (NKJV) 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land

5. Heb 11:30 (NKJV) 30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down

6. Heb 11:32-34 (NKJV) 32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

1. Action!!!

3. A barometer of our position in Christ has to be whether we can hear or not!

1. John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

2. This is the only way we can believe!

3. Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

4. The only way to be united with Christ in the pursuit of revival is to hear and believe!

5. Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

6. We can't just wait around in doubt, it's time to move!

7. We MUST believe!

1. Mark 16:14-18 (ESV) 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

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