It seems to be uncommon if not rare to find churches today that are preparing people for the end-times.“I'm not a pre-tribber, a post-tribber or a mid-tribber. I'm a pan-tribber. I believe it will all pan out in the end!” That's the whimsical, fantastical argument many casual, unconcerned people are making today regarding the most critical season in all of human history. In fact, I've heard many pastors defend their reluctance to address eschatology by saying similar things. No, it absolutely won't all pan out in the end if we don't prepare with intense and strategic discipline. In fact, I believe innumerable current Christians may spend forever in torment because of a failure to prepare. As I jump into this, I implore those of you who are already chomping at the bit to defend your eschatological position with determined ferocity and great verbosity in the comments—just don't. This article is not a study of the eschatological timeline. I will present some suppositions, and I don't hide the fact that I firmly believe the church will be here during the Tribulation, but if you are looking for an end-time Bible study, you won't find it here. Your comments would be better served addressing the precise topic I am presenting here: preparedness.
SALVATION ALONE WON'T PREPARE US, AND MANY WILL FALL AWAY
3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (NKJV)I'd like to present a question. What if many of the varied end-time theologies prove to be wrong and, one day in the near future, we find ourselves face-to-face with the Anti-Christ? Suddenly everything in our life will change. Again, I'm not diving into the specifics regarding precise timing or chain of events. I'm keeping this very simple. Will the church be ready to face such unimaginable, demonic pressure that will seek to crush those who are weak in their faith during the Tribulation? The idea that salvation alone will prepare us for the coming end-times is honestly quite hysterical yet so many are convinced it will.
Our world is in a season of acceleration toward two momentous events: the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the greatest hour of pressure and trouble in all of history.I'll state it plainly. I believe a life of consecration, intercession and depth in the Word are mandatory if we hope to survive the pressures of the Great Tribulation. Yes, it will be extremely easy and even common sense for those who are the least bit casual and those who have not truly died to their own desires to embrace the Anti-Christ with open arms—and go to Hell.
THE PRESSURESI personally believe there must be Holy Spirit activity in our lives at an extremely explosive degree if we hope to survive the troubles.
The Church will be victorious in love with power during the most dramatic time in history. This view gives us confidence and urgency to dynamically participate with Jesus now and in the coming revival. ~Mike BickleA vibrant and devoted life of prayer cannot be substituted. Dreams, visions and a sharp prophetic daily life will help greatly. Intimacy with Jesus that is only nurtured as we pray without ceasing is mandatory. Additionally, heavenly revelation and the faith necessary to combat the convincing assaults of the enemy will come to those who are filling their lives with the Word of God. They must eat the scroll.
3 And He said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.” So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness. Ezekiel 3:3 (NKJV)If simple temptations like lust, greed, gossip, pornography, apathy and other common sins are captivating the high majority of professing Christians today (for example, 68% of men and 50% of pastors view porn), then what makes us think we will have the spiritual strength to say no to the most powerful wicked manifestation in history, the Anti-Christ? If we aren't wildly consecrated, intimate with Jesus, praying in the Spirt and dead to self we won't be. Understand, the pressures won't be limited to rejecting run-of-the-mill sins. Consider this: We know in the Tribulation we won't be able to buy, sell or trade without the Mark. As a Christian parent, what would you do if your children had absolutely nothing to eat and had no fresh water to drink? It will be easy, and it will feel like love, to make the decision to take the Mark so your family is cared for. What happens when a family member has an asthma attack with no access to a life-saving prescription rescue inhaler? Again, it will feel like love and absolutely obvious common sense to take the Mark of the Beast so they can save them. Certainly God would sanction such a selfless act, right? Wrong. It will be very easy for those who have adopted the doctrine of eternal security to take the Mark. After all, the falling away doesn't apply to them and nobody can snatch them out of God's hand, right? Do you now see, if this end-time view is correct, how millions of current Christians can end up in Hell? Once you take the Mark, there is no turning back. Repentance will not be an option. Their remaining time in the Tribulation will be a vacation compared to their soon coming eternal season. Partial Preterists and others who deny a future season of trouble is coming will also have little issue taking the Mark. It's easy today to fall, to live in sin, to live every day thinking all is well while living compromised, lukewarm lives. Not one of us can imagine how easy it will be to give in when the cost of standing strong in Jesus becomes so great. Only those who are truly living in the Spirit, walking in that other-worldly, supernatural realm where the Holy Spirit is manifesting with extreme power can hope to survive without falling away. The seriousness on this matter is beyond what I can express. Being a “pan-tribber” would be laughable if that position weren't so eternally deadly. Pastors, you must prepare the people. Those who are simply showing up each Sunday morning, smiling, shaking hands, giving offerings, saying prayers and listening to your Bible teachings are in an extremely vulnerable place. If they aren't deep in God, praying with fervency, encountering God, living in the Spirit and allowing the Word of God to sear their hearts, they have little hope of surviving our current world, much less the one that I and many others believe is coming very, very soon.
Yes, church as we know it is over, but not anywhere near the way the FOX News author suggests.
Church leaders and pastors have spent time every week encouraging, inviting and pleading with people to come to a specific place at a specific time on Sundays. This approach has created church staffing models, systems and ministry strategies focused on improving attendance.
But that way of doing church is dead.
And just like Joshua needed to hear God say, “Moses my servant is dead” (Joshua 1:2), so he could move into the next level of leadership, I think the Church needs to accept the fate of physical church as we know it, so we can move into the next phase of digital church. ~Dave Adamson, FOX News, https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/churches-as-we-know-it-are-over-here-is-how-to-engage-the-faithful
And the church takes another hit, this time not from the anti-church society that’s filled with disgruntled Christians who didn’t have their expectations met in the last church they attended, and not from the organic, house church proponents, but from a pastor featured by FOX News. His take on the emerging, morphing church in the twenty-first century isn’t unique, but it is gaining steam, especially among those who are pretty much done with church as it has been known for centuries.
There’s a problem though. What is being proposed simply cannot be defined biblically as the church. Technology, video and alternate methods of worshiping, listening to teachings and even connecting with other Christians are all benefits for Believers. Every night I fall asleep to worship music I’m streaming online. I am thankful for the never ending live stream of the prayer room at the International House of Prayer. Limitless sermons are available to all of us. In fact, nobody has an excuse in this digital age for lacking in spiritual depth, knowledge and intimacy with Jesus. The opportunities for spiritual growth are endless. This is good, but this is not church.
An omni-channel approach to church would allow people to fully connect and engage with a church without the need to step inside a physical environment every week. They could attend one Sunday, listen to the message on podcast the following week, watch a live online stream the Sunday after, and catch the message on-demand in an church app the week after that. ~Dave Adamson
That sounds freeing, but it’s not the church. It is not the Ekklesia.
In fact, Dave misunderstands the purpose of the church gathering quite remarkably. It’s not simply to connect, worship and learn. If that were the case, the online options would absolutely be better in many ways than connecting physically in a local church. It’s easy to find the best of the best worship experience, the deepest and most impacting teaching and the experience we specifically desire somewhere online. Those experiences will most always out perform what the local church can offer. Except for at least one, important thing—the governmental gathering. The Ekklesia.
The church isn’t primarily there to satisfy our desires for worship, teaching and connections. It’s been ordained by God as a governmental force in the region. Ekklesia is actually a secular term referring to the gathering together of the people in the region by governmental authorities for the purpose of relaying information and calling people to action.
So, for the Ekklesia to function, there must be local leadership, a regular gathering under that leadership and a responsiveness to what God is calling people unto.
Add to that the key purpose of the church, corporate intercession, and you realize it’s not possible to have church or to be the church in any legitimate way online.
In my Charisma Magazine article titled Ancient and Emerging: 5 Major Changes Coming to the Church, I write:
We will gather together most days of the week. The 24/7 church will again emerge as the church drives culture instead of reacting to culture. Cares of life will lose their power as we simplify our lives and put corporate prayer and mission ahead of most everything else.
This may be the most challenging change for Christians. Today, Sundays are the days to set aside for corporate worship while we give precedence to our ‘normal lives.' In The Coming Church, the very reason we live will be to pray on fire together every day, receive apostolic assignments and then move out into our lives as kingdom ambassadors. It wouldn't be surprising if a tithe of our time is what became the standard. Two to three hours a day, whether it's in the morning, afternoon or evening, or even in the late night hours, will be given by every believer to praying on site together with others, ministering and giving ourselves to intercession-fueled kingdom ministry. Of course, much of what we have been giving ourselves to will have to be eliminated so we have the time necessary to devote.
I want to encourage you to consider picking up a copy of my book The Coming Church. This 300 page book is a powerful revelation of what I believe is coming to the church, and the changes for every one of us will be dramatic.
In fact, I’ll make the digital version of this book available FREE for anyone who reads this article. Visit www.burton.tv/freechurchbook and you can download it immediately.
In my article titled Five Unusual Marks of the Coming Church, I write:
The church will drive culture instead of being driven by culture. The 24/7 church is coming and it will violate the prevailing culture of busyness and distraction.
Gone will be the days of formatting our churches to fit within the schedules and expectations of society. The seeker movement will fade away and the urgent call to the wall will overpower even the most demanding of personal and social pressures.
Acts 17:6 (ESV) 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,
ESV Study Bible: These hostile opponents spoke better than they knew, for the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire was the beginning of a movement that would change the course of history forever.
The coming church will be marked by its boldness and culture will be threatened for the good.
WHAT ABOUT CHURCH ONLINE?
To Dave Adamson’s credit, he did state:
This approach allows the church to connect with people physically for 1 hour on Sunday, and stay connected for the other 167 hours of the week, digitally.
While one hour per week in church is woefully short of what is coming in the 24/7 church, he does emphasize staying connected. Utilizing technology to stay strategically and actively locked in to what is happening in the local church is a smart move. While I disagree with surrendering to the whims of today’s noncommittal generation and encouraging empty pews, I believe using online media and social connectors is a great move. I remember spending hours in the prayer room every day at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City while also watching the live web stream from home and watching teachings by Mike Bickle and others. IHOPKC is doing media right as it enhances their 24/7 mission instead of replacing it.
However, we need to look a little deeper at the idea of online church.
In my article titled: You are Not the Church: The Scattering Movement, I deal with this concept of church online. There are some very clear issues that can’t be ignored.
- DEVOID OF APOSTOLIC LEADERSHIP—There is most probably (there are exceptions) no clearly defined apostolic leadership involved. We have to know who we’re called to serve with. We have to all hear, together, in our local congregation, how we are to respond in mission advance. What’s God calling our leaders to focus on? How are we to participate? What are the goals? What steps must we take to prepare ourselves to see this come to pass?
- LACK OF STRATEGIC CORPORATE INTERCESSION—While not impossible, it’s very hard to involve ourselves in the number one purpose of the church this way—corporate intercession. We just have to be together to pray with unity and consistency if we are to have the sufficient strength to see significant impact.
- NO ACCOUNTABILITY—Accountability and discipline are nearly non-existent outside of the context of the local church. Most who flock from the church and into alternative spiritual activities do so to avoid conflict, accountability and correction from leadership. We have to understand that this is a critical part of the refining process. We must be receptive and humble and ready to be challenged—even if the leaders God established for us are exceptionally flawed and out of touch with our needs.
- PROMOTES MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH—It can quite easily reinforce a wrong understanding of the purpose of the church. I would say this is the most serious issue. The prevailing thought these days is that the church is there for us. Whatever needs we have, we can get many of them met in the church. So, we attend if we are ministered to. Or, we may determine that we can get what we’re looking for without regular church attendance. So, the church becomes unnecessary to us. Friend, this concept is a defilement of the church. I can’t say it any less striking than that. We are called to gather together with other believers primarily to intercede for the nations. We are there to give, to leave offerings, to serve, to minister, to pray, to grow. The church isn’t primarily there for us, we are to be there for the mission of the church. We may say that we don’t need the church but have we considered that the church needs us?
The purpose of the church simply cannot be fulfilled through technology. Video, social media, websites like this one and other mediums absolutely can be powerful supplements to what we are experiencing in our weekly gathering, but they simply aren’t designed to handle the demands of the Ekklesia, the governmental, prayer-fueled, local church.
Unsatisfied 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?
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!
The 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!
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 Church
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 Church
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 Church
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.’
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!
Listen to this teaching from tonight’s class at thelab school of fire—The Lifestyle of a Forerunner.
You 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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
- 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.
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!
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.
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!
4. The only way to be united with Christ in the pursuit of revival is to hear and believe!
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.”