Defying authority can either catapult the church forward or result in judgment.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:1–2, ESV)2002 has given the church an unusual opportunity to learn a critical end-time lesson. When is it time to defy authority, and when should we remain submitted? Choosing correctly can launch the church forward in the face of tyranny and persecution. Choosing incorrectly can result in God himself bringing judgment against the church. There seems to be a misconception among many Believers that God is cheer-leading a spirit of rebellion as we fight against the very authority that he put into position. News flash: We are mandated by Scripture to honor and obey all authority, be they good or evil, just or unjust. Yes, there are exceptions, but we don't start there. The exceptions are not the norm. By default, we submit.
“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” (1 Peter 2:18–19, ESV)I'm confident many will argue this point. That's okay, but I want to challenge you. Argue it with Scripture, not with your own emotions, intellect, common sense or ego. The Word of God is the authority, no matter if it makes sense to us or not. Remember, God requires us to obey both good and evil authorities, both good and bad laws. The Bible couldn't be more clear. Every person is required to subject themselves to (submit to) governmental authorities. Why? Because God placed them in position and granted them authority. Further, if we resist the authorities that God has empowered, we will (not may) incur judgment.
A SPIRIT OF LAWLESSNESSIt's easy to accuse rioters, for example, of operating from a spirit of lawlessness. After all, it's obvious to all that they are boldly breaking laws. I propose it's the same spirit of lawlessness that is driving the rebellion in many Christians who refuse to follow state and local mask and social distancing mandates. We don't have the option to reject an ordinance simply because we disagree with it. We are required by Scripture to be subject to governing authorities, and if they require masks in certain situations, we as representatives of Christ must respond with integrity and wear masks. I am personally not a fan of masks (though I must admit they may be beneficial in certain circumstances) and I believe there are some nefarious influences behind all that the coronavirus has unleashed. However, I also realize I am not authorized by God to defy the mandates. I'd be in rebellion both to man and God if I did. It's disturbing to see pastors breaking the law by allowing meetings, small groups and other events to take place without adhering to local mask and distancing ordinances. This rebellion invites God's judgment, even if we are convinced the masks are unnecessary or that the government is attempting to implement freedom threatening controls. By all means, do what's appropriate to have the laws overturned. Attend city council meetings, vote politicians and policy makers in or out of office and sound all of the alarms you can in hopes of drawing attention to the cause. But until the laws are overturned the laws must be obeyed. If we truly fear God, we won't play games, rise up in pride or arrogantly resist those he put into position.
THE EXCEPTIONSThe exception to all I have written above is simple: if the Word of God would be violated by us obeying an earthly authority, then, and only then, do we refuse to submit. We honor God and not men in this scenario. So, if the government mandates that churches remain closed and that Christians don't gather to worship, we can't comply.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24–25, ESV)The Bible clearly requires us to meet. If the government allows the church to meet, but demands we not sing, again, we refuse to obey that order.
“Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!” (Psalm 149:1, ESV)When (not if) the time comes that we are told by lawmakers that we cannot preach certain truths of Scripture, we boldly reject their mandate.
“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:27–29, ESV)The principle should be quite clear and simple. If the Word of God would be violated should we submit to a governmental decree, we do not submit. If the Bible wouldn't be violated, we do submit. One response results in the favor of God and another the judgment of God. It's not about being a champion of what is right (in your own eyes). It's about aligning with God's commands. Many are shouting “Persecution!” in selfish arrogance simply because the government is requiring them to submit to laws that are merely inconvenient and that in no way violate Scripture. We see this truth played out in the Book of Daniel:
“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;” (Daniel 2:21, ESV) “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”” (Daniel 3:17–18, ESV)God put the king in position, and then the king gives an unrighteous decree. The king was to be honored until he mandated worship to an idol. At that moment, the three Hebrews had no option but to refuse the command.
WHAT SHOULD THE CHURCH DO?The church should obey the laws of the land unless those laws are clearly unscriptural. Gathering together and worshiping as Believers has been instituted by God. So, gather, with masks on if the local ordinance requires that. In my city of Branson, Missouri we are required to wear masks in any public setting unless we are able to remain six feet away from others. Since this is a theater town, the law allows us to remove our masks when seated in an auditorium as long as we maintain social distancing. Public speakers, singers and performers can remove their masks when on stage. The same rule applies to the church. So, this means masks must be on at all times except when socially distanced in the sanctuary or speaking, singing on the platform. Prayer lines, altar time, greeting time and other times would require masks to be worn. Small groups and other gatherings should adhere to the same guidelines. We need to be wise and carefully choose our battles. Again, favor or judgment hang in the balance.
THE ARGUMENTSI've heard all sorts of extreme arguments in opposition to what I'm addressing here. “What about Anne Frank? Are you suggesting she should have obeyed her government and turned Jews over to the Nazis?” Several people have angrily blasted that argument my direction. Of course the the answer is no. Why? We'd be complicit in murder, and murder is forbidden in Scripture. “What about Rahab who lied to protect Israeli spies?” Rahab was commended for giving lodging to the spies, but not for her lie. I find it disturbing that Christians are becoming more enthralled with their own wisdom while at the same time looking for loopholes in the Bible so they can do what they desire. Many don't consider the Bible to be the final authority on a matter or to be the infallible Word of God. We are most certainly in the end times.
FAVOR OR JUDGMENTI don't want this point to be missed. No matter how convinced of how right you are or how righteous your position is, if you defy God's established authority, God's judgment rests on you. However, if you honor authority in every instance except when they would require you disobey Scripture, God's favor rests on you. Oh, and by the way, understand that the written Word of God is the final authority, not your own prophetic revelation. We can't use the God card here. If your local government requires you to wear a mask or a seat-belt or to pay your taxes or to wear pants in public, and you think God told you something different, you can know it's not God's voice you are hearing.
PHARAOH IN THE CHURCHAs I close, I want to encourage you to read an article that will give strategies to resisting tyrannical and wicked human governments. I understand the arguments about masks and lock-downs and control. Greater persecution (by far) was experienced in Egypt under the rule of Pharaoh. The strategy there wasn't to defy Pharaoh's authority, as God placed him in that place of ruler-ship. God sent a messenger and immense pressure to Pharaoh. The goal? For Pharaoh, the Hebrew's legitimate authority, to make the decree that they may go. He released them. It was at that moment in time that the authority over the Hebrews shifted from Pharaoh to Moses. This is why we must be living, walking and praying in the Spirit. Prayer movements and prophetic decrees will bring down unrighteous human systems. Pride, arrogance, anger and rebellion however will only strengthen them as God's fury rains down on us all. Originally posted by The Stream.
It's time for a humble yet unapologetic and holy army to stand opposed to the unrighteous restrictions of human government.Many politicians, police officers, judges and officials would be shocked to hear that the American government isn't the supreme authority in the nation. In fact, they would scoff at the higher ranking government they must yield to: the church. God's government is based on the Word of God, is legislated through the church and is positioned higher than any other government, court room or human establishment on earth. Simply, if a human order, law or mandate violates orders, laws or mandates found in Scripture, the Bible wins. God reigns supreme. When there is no conflict between man-made and spiritual ordinances, it's right and expected to obey the laws of the land. Doing so helps establish integrity and promote humility as we intermix with the world. However, there comes a point when civil disobedience is not only suggested but required if we are to respond obediently to the Lord, the highest power, the greatest governmental leader the world will ever know.
LOCKDOWN: A VIOLATION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
12 Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Daniel 6:12 (ESV)A 30-day lockdown was enacted in the kingdom and religious freedom was forbidden. Petitions and permissions could only be received from the lawmaker, the king. Daniel understood this was unquestionably the time for civil disobedience, and he also understood the consequences. His thrice daily prayer continued. Daniel famously was instrumental in the establishment of this tyrannical government when he interpreted the handwriting on the wall for the previous ruler, King Belshazzar.
23 …And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. Daniel 5:23 (ESV)Daniel rebuked the king for dishonoring God, just as his father had. Where are the prophetic leaders today who are confronting today's governmental officials in the same manner? It's time for God's people to arise and to renounce the wickedness that's poisoning our nation and attempting to neuter the church. Daniel went on to interpret King Belshazzar's supernatural encounter by revealing an end to the kingdom. It would be divided and given to the Medes and Persians. That very night the king was killed and the kingdom was given over as prophesied. Now, Daniel had to deal with the new ruler who was forbidding his intercession.
Members of an armed Michigan militia say they will stand at the door of a barbershop in Owosso to protect the owner from being arrested for allegedly violating the state's lockdown order. “We are here to make sure he doesn't get arrested,” Daniel Brewer, a member of the militia, told local media on Saturday. “We're willing to stand in front of that door and block the entrance so the police will have no entry there today.” ~Washington ExaminerOnce again the secular world is responding more courageously and speedily than so many in the church when liberties are threatened. While many Christians have been exposed as having dimmed and dulled discernment as they have surrendered their religious rights for the promise of health and safety, we see bold if not brash patriots standing in solidarity with a 77-year-old man who was simply trying to earn a living. Where are those who will stand up for the church? We are closer to going underground then any of us realize, and it because of a cowardly people who refuse to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure religious freedom remains. I want to make it very clear: church leaders have every right to choose to forgo services, prayer meetings and other events if they deem it necessary based on their own unique situation. What is not allowed is a lower ranking government attempting to trump the greater authority, the Word of God. Mayors and governors have no right to mandate a ceasing or limiting of prayer meetings and other church gatherings. Many are arrogantly demanding the church petitions only them. The idea that Scripture has any authority in today's crisis is laughable to them. They have determined nobody else would dictate how the church should function. Not Christians, not pastors, not the Bible, not even God. The truth is, the church isn't the only organization that outranks the United States government. The Constitution of the United States outranks local, state and federal governmental authority (when they attempt to establish rulings that contradict that document), and the Constitution is clearly on the side of religious liberty. The case for civil disobedience can be made. The resistance should be done in an honoring, humble and appropriate manner, and shouldn't be fueled by anger or malice. As Believers in Jesus Christ, we must be driven by a resolve to honor God in the midst of unrighteous demands of society.
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. Acts 5:27-29 (ESV)
GET READY FOR THE LIONSWe all must be prepared to face the repercussions of our actions. The government will do what it wills in the face of resistance. We've already seen both threats and action brought by ungodly mayors, governors and political leaders including filling skate parks with sand, arresting pastors, placing moms in handcuffs for taking their children to the playground, requiring churches and businesses to report the names of patrons and ticketing church goers at a drive in service. If we don't do something, it will get worse. Much, much worse.
16 Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” Daniel 6:16 (ESV)There will be a national taunting of Christians, and we as Believers must be ready both to face the lions and to stand in great faith as our God brings the accusers to shame.
19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Daniel 6:19-22 (ESV)A blameless people will reveal God's miraculous saving power to a stunned nation. As we refuse to stop praying, respond to worldly authorities with integrity and honor and remain willing to pay whatever price necessary to obey God rather than man, God will move in undeniable and miraculous power. America will have no option but to take notice, and the very government officials that brought the angst to God's people will be instrumental in a sudden outbreak of revival in the nation. The process may be severe, and we must be ready to face lions, giants and the hordes of hell, but the resulting outpouring of God will make it all very much worth it.
25 Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. 26 I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end. 27 He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.” 28 So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian. Daniel 6:25-28 (ESV)Originally published by The Stream.
Misunderstanding grace as it relates to salvation has compromised the theology of millions.
False-grace adherents, Universalists and the millions who subscribe to the doctrine of eternal security (once saved, always saved) arrive at their related positions via a theological journey that takes them all right through Ephesians 2:8-9.
They have been so inoculated by this belief system that anybody who suggests that faith is not enough, or that works play a part in salvation, must be following another Jesus and subscribing to another gospel.
Antinomianism is often the result for those who reject works in relationship to salvation. Antinomianism states that God forgives sins fully, and sinning has no disadvantage. Additionally, obedience has no impact. If it did, it would taint what Jesus did at Calvary.
Regarding Antinomianism, Steve Hill wrote:
Purveyors of this poisonous teaching fail to realize that Jesus calls us beyond the requirements of the law in His teaching, stating, for example, that adultery refers to adultery of the heart and not just the physical act (Matt. 5:27-28).
This, folks, is an eternally destructive theology.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? James 2:14 (ESV)
The question is answered several verses later:
You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. James 2:24 (ESV)
In order for that verse to register rightly, we’ll have to talk about the difference between our own works and works that are graced and mandated by God. There is much more to the salvation equation than simply exhibiting faith.
The idea that all we have to do is believe in faith to gain salvation leads many to believe that all is well after we profess that faith. We are forever secure no matter how we live.
The manifestation of that belief is destructive in many ways, on many levels. Just yesterday someone quite adamantly told me that Hitler most definitely could have been saved. They also said that Hillary Clinton’s recent comments about possibly entering the ministry and preaching as a United Methodist should be celebrated. Since she believed on Christ long ago, she should be affirmed in her pursuit, no matter what abominable fruit she may produce.
Where did the basis of the argument come from? A misunderstanding of salvation, of faith and of works of righteousness. Many professing Christians simply are not saved. Some were at one point and their unrighteous decisions cost them their relationship with Christ.
WHAT KIND OF WORKS ARE NECESSARY?
A lot of people get tripped up when considering works as a part of our salvation process. Many have flashbacks to Catholic penance, where repetitively reciting the rosary is the prescribed answer to their sin. This, friend, is not the type of works that we should be endeavoring to accomplish. In no way should we attempt to trade work for an eternal paycheck.
Let’s look at a passage of Scripture:
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7 (ESV)
This is a solid, clear truth. Our own righteousness is a non-player. Works that come from our own righteousness are fruitless. Jesus alone could atone for our sins and make it possible for us to be in relationship with God. Jesus alone could make a way for us to spend eternity with him. So, on the front end, we don’t have anything of worth to offer.
as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; Romans 3:10 (ESV)
You are indeed angry, for we have sinned– In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; Isaiah 64:5-6 (NKJV)
Understand, our own attempts to atone for our own filthiness is futile. It’s laughable. We deserve Hell and we are absolutely helpless outside of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.
But, works of another type absolutely do play a role in our salvation. Obedience and a right response to be holy is critical. If we don’t play our part, our salvation was either never secure, or it can be surrendered.
Above, in Titus chapter three, it was made clear that our righteousness and our works were powerless in regard to salvation. However, the message continues:
This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. Titus 3:8 (NKJV)
True faith must manifest works that are not empowered by our own ability, but rather graced by God himself.
Let’s look at Ephesians 2:8-9 a little more closely:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
For by grace you have been saved…
Another way to say it would be, “God, through divine favor and influence, has empowered you to be made whole.”
Since it’s impossible for us, in our humanness, to work the miracle of salvation, to bridge that uncrossable chasm, no matter how hard we work at it, God granted the power necessary.
You could reword this by saying, “by being convicted and convinced of truth, and becoming reliant upon Christ…”
Faith is a loaded word. We know that even demons believe. They are convinced that Jesus is Lord, but their reaction is very different. If simple belief was all that was necessary for salvation, we’d be living in our heavenly mansions next door to demons of every stench. Of course, that will not happen, so just what defines faith? Our response. Our obedience. Our works. I don’t believe works that are empowered by God’s grace are simply an “expected outcome” for one who comes to Jesus. (Have you ever met someone who “got saved” and still struggles with obedience?) I believe they are an integral, strategic part of the salvation process. God’s grace and our response are both key.
And, yes, I’ll agree to a point that you are probably thinking about right now. Consecration takes time. However, I believe a repeated failure at consecration can threaten our justification. We can’t take God’s calls to obedience and works lightly. Faith is not enough.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…
God initiated the relationship. He did what we could not do. Our wretchedness wouldn’t keep him away and our righteousness wouldn’t draw him near. God recognized that we all had hit rock bottom as we realized we had no power whatsoever to save ourselves. His love required that he simply rescue us by offering a relationship with him, and we didn’t have to pay for it, work for it or convince him we were worthy. We could never be.
Our humility is required as we allow God to move in and take over. Outside of Christ there is no grace to live in obedience so the only option was for God’s gift to be given.
…not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
God knew any hope of relationship with him would be compromised if we ever thought we could find salvation through our own effort. Our pride would take over and we’d boast about our remarkable abilities to find eternal life outside of God.
Here’s how this works: We can’t say, “Thanks God, but no thanks. I really don’t want to subscribe to your methods, protocols or mandates. I want to do this on my own terms, so I’m going to give one million dollars to charity. I’ll also do good, be good and think good thoughts. I’ll pay my own way. See you in Heaven some day (but don’t bother me too much. I’ll be busy doing my own thing there too.)”
We need God. Period. So, we are graced when we truly believe to be in relationship with Jesus AND adopt his way of life. We cannot simply have faith and then live according to our own plans. Works are not simply an evidence of faith, they are a key part of the salvation process. What trips people up so often is a misunderstanding of our own works versus works that are graced by God to fulfill. When God gives us power to respond, we must respond.
In order for this article to be written, I need the free power that the laptop receives by being plugged into the outlet in the coffee shop. I couldn’t type this out without the gift of electricity. Because of that grace, I can now get to work. God will anoint me, inspire me, grace me and empower me to write, but he won’t write it for me.
OUR WORKS ARE FRUITLESS BUT WORKS EMPOWERED BY GOD’S GRACE ARE MANDATED
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
Immediately after our human works were deemed to have no value in regard to our salvation, the very next verse highlights a primary purpose of our salvation—good works that we must walk in! Again, works are not an automatic result of salvation, nor are they disconnected from salvation. Works are mandated and God gives us the grace to those who are saved to fulfill them.
God absolutely will grace us to obey, but we must be the ones to respond. If we live a life of disobedience to God, a life devoid of works, the salvation that we freely received via faith will quickly be surrendered.
We have been given a gift that’s much greater than spending eternity in Heaven (and not in Hell). God’s grace enables us to work miracles! We can be full of supernatural joy and life every day! The works we now can do could never be done in the old covenant. Jesus made it possible to work wonders!
Yes, I believe calls to obedience and work that are fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit do impact our salvation, but they also launch us into a phenomenal, remarkable, other worldly life!
We absolutely can live free from sin! If we do sin (not when), we have access to Jesus and the same grace that we discovered when we initially gave our lives to him.
Let’s be sober regarding the issue of grace, faith and works but also exuberant! Jesus has made it possible to live the most amazing life—now, and forever with him in eternity!
I reference two articles that will give you loads of scriptural support for the positions I take in the video:
You will want to check them out as you watch.
It’s shocking to me how sharply resistant Christians can be when the doctrine of salvation is discussed. Many have been lulled into a state of false-comfort through incredibly dangerous and fast spreading theologies—and anything that would threaten their confidence is reacted to fiercely. A pastor once told me that the most violent reaction from Christians against him comes when he deals with false-grace.
Titus 2:11-15 (ESV) 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. 15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
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 concept of compliance to prophetic voices and even to God himself is diminishing in our culture—and the consequences will be disastrous.
…A Greek word for proclaim…is kerusso… It means “to be a herald.” A herald was a public crier who was a speaker of divine truth. The message delivered by the crier was a public and authoritative announcement that demanded compliance. When you kerusso, you are like a town crier making an announcement that requires the hearers to comply. How powerful! ~Barbara Wentroble
Today, prophetic voices are neutered by a culture that is extremely independent, and, as a result, are declaring the sharp word of the Lord less and less. Instead, those with prophetic ministries have abandoned the call for compliance to a correction or redirection of God for words that tickle ears and communicate positive destinies even for those who are in direct rebellion to truth.
I was at the Detroit Prayer Furnace recently, and, prior to seeing this message by Barbara Wentroble, God dropped a very clear, weighty word into my spirit: COMPLIANCE.
I immediately knew that we as a nation were moving into a very troubling and dangerous time where prophetic voices must unapologetically call the church into compliance with God’s very costly, inconvenient calibration. No longer can we act as salesmen, forming our words in such a way that people will buy what we are saying! Prophetic messengers will be shunned, assaulted, resisted and accused due to the calls out of a theology of comfort and independence.
It is beyond critical that these prophetic messengers are living holy and are sensitive to the leading of God.
MINOR IS MAJOR: TWO PERSONAL LESSONS
Minor is major with God. Two recent minor sins had a major impact on my life. I’m about to confess those sins to you.
Additionally, there’s a decrease of the fear of the Lord and any concern at all over eternal destinies.
Read this disturbing account of a young Christian at a homosexual parade as told by Dr. Michael Brown:
When asked why they were at the gay pride event, the young women stated with enthusiasm that they were there to support people they love. (To watch the entire, extraordinary video interaction, click here.)
The same girl reiterated that gay s-ex was sinful but that supporting the gay pride event didn’t mean she agreed with it since, again, being gay was a “lifestyle.”
When asked once more if she believed gay s-ex was sin, she replied, “It’s a sin, but I’m not against it. I think you’re forgiven no matter what.”
She was then asked, “If you’re a Christian, you’re forgiven of the sin?” She replied, “Yeah, absolutely. You’re forgiven of everything except not believing.”
When asked, “So, you support people having gay s-ex?” she answered, “Yeah, I think that you can’t help your heart sometimes.”
Did you notice that the false-grace believe that she held to? Christians can sin without any fear of judgment. This belief is sending so many to Hell.
As I said above, minor is major with God. So often we hear the argument regarding the “big sins” of homosexuality, murder, etc., that “all sin is the same.” The argument is that God can forgive a murderer just as quickly and completely as he can forgive one who gossips, lies or lusts. I do agree with that. (For the record, I don’t believe all sin is the same, and you can read more about that here. But, for the sake of this point, let’s agree that God can forgive all sin equally.)
What if we turned the argument around? If all sin is the same, then the sin of gossip is as detestable and eternally destructive as the sin of murder. Lying can send one to Hell just as quickly as premarital sex. Minor is major. And, no, we aren’t exempt from eternal threat simply because we consider ourselves to be Christians. That is one of the greatest, most devastating fallacies in the church today. Christians who sin absolutely are at risk of eternal separation from God.
Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
LESSON NUMBER ONE
I know a key assignment for me is to call the church back into radical holiness and consecration, and my authority to do so comes via the blood of Jesus. When I sinned in what I would consider a minor way, my assignment was compromised.
I temporarily lost my authority to prophetically call the church to corporate holiness when I didn’t respond to God’s call to personal holiness. I no longer could impact the major because of my failure in the minor.
A couple of weeks ago I was writing a post just as I’m writing this one now. Many people presume that I haphazardly write and say anything that comes to mind in a cavalier way. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Every word that comes out of my mouth is measured and ordered via the fear of the Lord. It’s a daily, weighty matter for me to ensure I’m not withholding anything due to the fear of man and that I’m not saying what I should not due to the fear of God. To be a prophetic messenger requires this wrestling match.
As I was writing the message, I boldly said what I felt the Lord would want me to, and I was making some sharp points.
I was also listening to a teaching about how certain sins can manifest in our bodies as sickness. For example, if we gossip and don’t repent, it’s not uncommon to have tooth pain or even to need expensive dental work such as a root canal. Gossip out of our mouth affects our mouth. As I continued writing, I was thinking to myself, “We need prophetic people who don’t wash their mouths out with soap, but with the blood of Jesus!” I kept seeing pure mouths of bold messengers filled with the blood of Jesus as they declared truth.
I came to a point in the article where I relayed an extremely minor, common issue that can come up in a messenger’s life. I wrote in an extremely generic, careful manner about a personal situation that happened in my life recently. The content wasn’t the problem, but the attitude of my heart was. Again, it was so minor. You’d laugh if you knew just how minor it was! But, as I wrote it, God gave me a gentle check in my spirit. I considered the check, wondering if it was just my own emotions—then I ignored the check. After all, there was nothing that I wrote that would raise alarms whatsoever.
I finished the article and prepared to send it out. I always post it to the web first, and then immediately send it to my email list.
Then, I got up from my office chair and I felt something in my mouth. I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Directly under my tongue, right in the center, I saw a blood blister! It was not there five seconds prior! God immediately reminded me that his prophetic voices must have their mouths filled with the blood of Jesus, and I was instantly convicted. I ignored Jesus. I immediately repented from a deep place of my heart. I was wrecked!
I went back to my office, troubled that the tainted message was now all over the world. But, then, I noticed something. I had actually forgotten to send the message to my email list, which would have been a point of no return! I quickly removed the questionable sentence, reposted it to the web and then sent it to my list. Less than three hours later, the blood blister in my mouth completely disappeared! God is so kind as he is training us in righteousness! I learned, as a seasoned minister of 22+ years, that promotion to new assignments requires trust of God that we will respond immediately and exactly to him. I learned that lesson…or so I thought.
LESSON NUMBER TWO
About a week later I had a great meeting with two state prayer leaders in Dearborn, Michigan. I can’t explain it, but God was REALLY getting my attention that day. It was as if there were an open heaven over me and God was calling me to engage with him. After I left the meeting, I felt compelled to stop by the Detroit Prayer Furnace on my way home and get along with the Lord. I craved him, and I could tell he craved time with me.
I had also wanted to go to Best Buy at some point that day to buy something I had really wanted, so that was definitely in the back of my mind.
I spent about 45 minutes getting into the zone at DPF and trying to hear what the Lord had for me that day. I was still extremely stirred.
A friend then showed up and we talked for just a little bit. He decided to leave, and, with the desire to head to Best Buy increasing, I did too.
I felt a minor check in my spirit that I needed to stay put and keep seeking after God. Instead, I responded casually and thought that I could pray in the car and possibly reconnect with God later that night or tomorrow.
Well, I couldn’t connect in the car, and my spirit was increasingly grieved, but I excused it away. I got to Best Buy, and almost left without buying what I wanted, and I felt that’s what God wanted. Keep in mind, this is all low level stuff. I didn’t see an angel with instructions from Heaven. I was discerning something that felt more like the story of the Princess and the Pea. That small irritating pea wouldn’t go away.
Before I left Best Buy, I checked one more aisle, and there it was—it was exactly what I wanted! And, they price matched Amazon.com, so I saved $20! I bought it, and my grief increased.
For one week my life was a swirl of God, Satan and flesh—all assaulting me. A very minor decision to casually respond to God and ignore his gentle prompts resulted in sleepless nights and non-stop feelings of demonization. Trust me, I am not exaggerating.
I was in rebellion. My minor sin was major. My rejection of God was real. He had called me up to the mountain to meet with me and I chose to remain at the bottom with a spirit of Egypt compelling me to worship a golden calf. I actually had a picture of my rebellion resulting in an eternity in Hell—just me, demons and that stupid item I bought at Best Buy! I was tormented!
You might try to encourage me by saying that there’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus. That’s true. But, I’m sober enough to admit that, in that moment of rebellion I really wasn’t in Christ Jesus—and that’s why the shouts of condemnation by the enemy were piercing me so effectively. Now, I believe God knew this trial would hit me, and he knows my heart is so deeply in love with his, so I wouldn’t be dying in that state of rebellion. It was a Peter denying Christ type of moment. However, I’m also convinced that continued rebellion by me, someone who leads ministries, has written books, teaches on holiness, goes to church, pays my tithe, prays continually—would absolutely put me at risk of Hell.
Yesterday, I was exhausted as I keep trying to connect with Jesus who I love so much, and who loves me so much. I prayed, I worshiped, I listened to anointed music. Nothing worked. I had my intercessors praying for me. I was in darkness and I was wiped out. I cried out to God, “Please talk to me! Give me something that will reveal what I am to do! I can’t go on feeling alone and separated from you!”
Within moments, my good friend Julia Palermo posted this on Facebook:
Any place in our lives and heart where we are exerting our will and ways over God's will and ways will inevitably drain us of energy and resources. Exertion=Exhaustion. On the other hand, death to self requires only that we lay down at the foot of the cross and give up the right to run our lives. We say with Christ, “Not my will but Yours be done Father.” The Crucified life is the entrance into true rest. #ComeAndDie
Jesus! I immediately packaged up what I bought at Best Buy to take it back. I crucified my flesh and returned my idol. Peace flooded my soul. The life and love of Jesus IMMEDIATELY returned. I felt him instantly! The anointing spiked.
It’s absolutely stunning how simple, minor sins can have such a profound impact on those called to serve the Lord!
Minor is major! The sins of apathy, gossip, independence, selfishness, materialism, idol worship, homosexuality, murder, rape and all of the others, major or minor, required the same death of Jesus.
Sins that are repented of, that have the blood of Jesus applied to them, are eradicated! But, if we refuse to repent and confess and allow Jesus to have Lordship again, we cannot presume to be in a safe place.
God is going to hold ministers to a much higher standard. This is why we must pursue holiness and refuse to participate in the sins of culture through media, rebellion, materialism and independence.
It’s time to embrace a spirit of repentance. God is extremely kind. He was in my two back-to-back sins. But, he’s equally serious. He will discipline those he loves. I am so thankful that he loves me.
This brings us back to compliance.
God is raising up voices that will walk in true consecration and holiness. Not perfect people, but responsive people. People who will quickly repent and who will walk in true authority—authority to call the church into compliance to the Word of God.
When this generation’s true prophetic messengers sound an alarm, it won’t be open for discussion. We won’t have the option to consider whether we want to obey or not. We will have to comply. Are you one who will awaken the church and call it to holiness, to prayer and to consecration? Are you walking in holiness? Are you listening to God, or are you casual, as I was in the two above stories? Pray for your discernment to increase, and get ready to gather the ready, responsive remnant that will offer no excuse as they respond to the alarms of the Lord as they are shouted through your blood filled mouth!
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.
Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep
and say, “Spare your people, O Lord,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’” (Joel 2:15-17, ESV)