Free speech isn't the only liberty at risk—the Gospel message itself is being threatened.
‘Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.'
My approach in this article might be considered a bit strange since it's coming from someone who has a high value for holiness, love and honor of others. The right to offend opens up the floodgates for all sorts of cruel, immoral, hateful and ungodly behavior. In fact, we as Christians should never desire to cause others to fall into the prison of offense by our unrighteous words or actions.
I've written and taught on this critical topic for several years, and it's quite possibly the most feeing message I've ever delivered.
The Bible tells us that in the end, love will grow cold. Offense overtaking a culture is a key indicator of the arrival of the latter part of the end times:
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” (Matthew 24:7–10, KJV 1900)
If we are going to survive and avoid falling away, we must live a life free from offense. We must be unoffendable. The moment offense takes root is the moment we have adopted the identity of a victim. We point fingers at others and blame and complain and allow their actions against us, beliefs about us and words said about us to define us. Instead of laying down our lives, loving, forgiving and blessing those who curse us, offense causes us to strike back. Imagine if Jesus did this as his haters were mocking him as he was dying naked on the cross.
This is why the vile sin of gossip is so destructive. Gossip erupts from the soul of an offended person. It's a form of hatred and revenge, and it is a powerful and wicked weapon against those who oppose us. Further, gossip breeds even stronger offense as it seeks to destroy, shame and manipulate.
With this in mind it's critical to understand that we have a dire responsibility to love with such passion that the unapologetic truth of Jesus will touch as many people as possible. We don't want people to be offended. Why?
“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: And their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” (Proverbs 18:19, KJV 1900)
If we, through mean spirited, arrogant or unloving words or actions cause people to be unnecessarily offended, we imprison them. It's next to impossible to win them to Jesus.
So, I understand how it might seem a bit bizarre that I'm promoting “the right to offend.”
A CALL TO REPENTANCE IS POSSIBLY THE MOST OFFENSIVE MESSAGE MANY WILL EVER HEAR
The Daily Mail, a British publication, reports, “Judges have insisted that freedom of speech includes the ‘right to offend' in a landmark ruling which could help to turn the tide on ‘woke' intolerance…”
Presiding over a case in the Court of Appeal, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Warby said: ‘Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.'
They added that ‘free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another'. The judgment from two senior members of the judiciary will set a precedent for future cases involving freedom of speech.”
The reason Christians must support the right to offend is simple: the message we have been mandated to deliver to the world is by nature offensive to those who reject it.
According to the Bible, the cross of Christ is offensive. We can't avoid that. We can't soften it. Jesus offended to such a severe degree that people tortured and murdered him. Yet, he loved and forgave.
Our attitude when serving the message to our audience should never be offensive. We must preach with fire in our veins and tears in our eyes. Our hearts must be broken over the pain and hopelessness of the world. The moment we start shoving our favorite Bible revelations down the throats of the lost is the moment we started teetering on the verge of losing our own salvation. This is abhorrent behavior to say the least.
However, while the Gospel message is the greatest revelation of love the world will ever know, it is also threatening, corrective, invasive, unmoving and, yes, offensive.
“So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” (1 Peter 2:7–8, ESV)
The Gospel message invades the private spaces of those who have rejected God. The Holy Spirit will confront the rebellion and the pain and the confusion in an attempt to reach the deepest places of their hearts. Many of you who are reading this know exactly what I'm talking about. It's quite possible, normal even, to be offended into the Kingdom of God!
The resulting collapse to their knees as they cry out to God for the first time in their lives is evidence of the power of sanctified, holy offense that the Holy Spirit is perfectly skilled at delivering. When the message offends, God can transform lives powerfully. However, when the messenger offends, ears are shut and hatred results.
THE RIGHT TO OFFEND GOES EVEN FURTHER
Let's bring this topic into the natural, secular realm.
The justices on the other side of the ocean are on to something. A nation becomes weak and liberties are threatened when its people become easily offended. The snowflake culture is more threatening to the strength of our nation than we know.
Does it make any sense that certain affinity groups would have a right to be protected from what others are saying while the rest of civilization does not? Why would those who have adopted a transgender lifestyle (which was the focus of the Daily Mail's article) have a specialized right to not hear what others have to say while the rest of the world has no choice but to have cruel, hateful vomit spewed all over them?
I was so saddened when I was watching a TikTok video the other day. A wonderful special needs adult who has a large following on the platform was attacked by a troll. This terrible person said it's “cute” when special needs children are on display on social media, but adults? They should be euthanized.
I was sickened. This was hateful speech. In comparison to an individual refusing to refer to a transgendered person by their preferred pronoun, well, there is no comparison.
Anyone who spends any amount of time online will see the most heinous people in our nation freely hating, attacking, trolling, bullying, mocking, canceling, shaming and attempting to wound anyone they disagree with. It's everywhere. So, again, the question is, why would certain affinity groups be protected from free speech while the rest of us are not?
My wife and I have a travel channel on YouTube. We are privileged to have a great community of people who are pleasures to interact with. However, there have been several who have been hurtful. Guess what? They have a right to say what they want. They can attack. They can hate. They have that right. I will defend their right to projectile verbal vomit all over me.
Comedian Dave Chappelle unleased absolutely disgusting, vile, unfunny and hateful language in the direction of conservative activist Candace Owens. I won't come close to sharing what he said here, but I will share the shocking and refreshing response from Candace. She tweeted:
To every Democrat tweeting me the clip of #DaveChappelle insulting me: I’m not a leftist. I have a sense of humor & I think comedians SHOULD make fun of people. Dave Chappelle is one of the greatest comedians of all time and I made it into one of his specials. That’s POWER!
Whatever the opposite of a snowflake is, that is Candace.
When Congressman-elect Luke Letlow recently died of COVID-19, many truly sick individuals started launching I-told-you-so attacks against him (regarding his more right-leaning beliefs concerning the virus that ironically took his life). The hatred that flooded Twitter and other social sites is protected free speech, but people become enraged when their affinity group isn't affirmed? This offensive, demented and loveless barrage of missel strikes on Luke Letlow has most certainly devastated even further his precious wife and children who are in mourning.
Of course we know Christians are often targets of hate. Where is the outrage?
The Daily News reports:
On New Year’s Eve, left-wing journalist and New York Times bestselling author Kurt Eichenwald wished “pain & misery” on Republicans and said that he wants to find an “antimasker” and “beat them to death.” During the volatile rant, Eichenwald also scolded alleged “anti-mask” “F***ING ‘Christians’ who preen about God saving [them] from COVID,” claiming they are who “Jesus condemns.” “I have so much hate in my heart tonight.”
With all sincerity, I pray God touches Kurt's heart and heals his pain.
Again, on TikTok, a creator was greeted with a comment that said, “I really hope this is a video of you having a stroke that will end your life.”
And, again, that hate speech is perfectly okay? Understand, comments like this are flooding the social-sphere night and day. Innumerable people being sniped by innumerable commenters with unfathomable hatred. Well, of course it isn't okay, but it's legal, and it should be. Voicing opinions, no matter how politically incorrect, evil or personal is protected in our nation. It's called free speech.
The saying goes, sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me. Of course, that's untrue. Words hurt. But, in our nation we are free to use hurtful words. We are free to use hateful words. Spend ten minutes outside of your Christian bubble and venture into the real world of public opinion. Every form of vile language and unrelenting hate-filled assaults are non-stop when it comes to politics, abortion rights, gay rights, masks, lockdowns, sports, parenting and pretty much every other hot topic in our culture.
Please tell me why this hate speech is protected but other hate speech is censored, rooted up and out. While you are considering that, let me know why some lies are affirmed while other lies are banished from social media.
THE RIGHT TO LIE
Okay, this is getting downright blasphemous. A Christian author supporting the right to lie?
It's not blasphemy. Honestly, it's common sense.
Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have emerged as today's thought police, independently becoming arbiters of truth. They are either attaching disclaimers to “deceptive” tweets and posts or completely deleting them. Entire conservative accounts being deleted has become quite normal. In a nation that not only celebrates but was founded on free speech, alternate viewpoints (conspiracy theories) and even mainline, honest evaluations have become flagged as deceptive.
No longer can we question the election, share our beliefs regarding biology (science) when it comes to questions of gender or debate many of the liberal ideologies of the day.
Here's why we must support the right to lie. You will agree that it is common sense. The truth of the Word of God is already being rejected as a lie. If we don't support the right to lie or to hold positions that differ from secular society, our freedom to preach truth will be stripped.
Facebook, Twitter and the others: stop the moderation. You can't sanitize your platform of the truth you call a lie. If people want to promote belief in aliens, so be it. If we want to discuss election fraud, surely we should be allowed to. Our President surely should never be censored. (I'm talking to you, Jack Dorsey.)
But, friend, we have to know that as the end draws nearer, truth will be called a lie and lies will be called truth. This is why we must support the right to lie. We as Christians must be unmuzzled, free to spread “lies” that will set the captives free.
“Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” (Romans 1:24–25, ESV)
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20, ESV)
WE MUST BE UNOFFENDABLE
If we are unoffendable, we will remain full of life, joyful and victorious no matter what people say to us. Yes, words hurt, but they should not debilitate.
Both in the spiritual and the natural, we must discover this strength. Our churches and our nation will become stronger, healthier and enduring when we refuse to melt when the verbal (or written) attacks come.
The Daily Mail continued, “Mr Justice Warby explained that the relevant parts of the Communications Act ‘were not intended by Parliament to criminalise forms of expression, the content of which is no worse than annoying or inconvenient in nature'. Mr Justice Warby also suggested that the prosecution had been an ‘unjustified state interference with free speech'.”
Please hear me. I have already made the case that we should never desire to offend, but when we as Christians stand for truth, offense will come. There is a careful, Spirit-led balance that must be discovered. There is a time to avoid offending people, as Jesus made clear:
“When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”” (Matthew 17:24–27, ESV)
There's also a time to stand for what is right, defending the liberty of society, even though those who aren't willing to be graceful may strike back. It makes no sense that it's okay to call for a special needs adult to be killed but it's a crime for someone to call someone a he instead of a she. A spirit of offense truly is overtaking the world, and we cannot allow it to dictate laws and culture.
I'll conclude by requalifying and clarifying my position on personal holiness. We as blood-bought Believers must be spotless, rejecting a life of sin and driven by the love of Jesus. We should not lie, hate or intentionally offend. Our passion must be the transformation of those who God so deeply loves. The world needs to see us as an unoffendable army of lovers of our mighty God. We must stand for truth even when it's determined to be a lie. We must deliver the offensive truth of Scripture from a pure and unoffended heart. We must love so deeply that those who vehemently resist it lash out and call us haters.
Simply, get ready for persecution that living a consecrated life will bring.
Originally published by The Stream.
Negative. Offensive. Irritating. Why provocative messages are so critical today.
To silence a preacher from preaching judgment is like being awoke from sleep by a fire alarm, and just silencing the alarm, and going back to sleep. –Unknown
Though they often cause a bit of a ripple, I honestly don’t see the messages, status updates, videos and other communication I release as very striking at all. I am often amazed at how a firestorm of trouble can result from what I consider to be simple, orthodox truths—truths that have been too often abandoned by today’s church, even churches that look vibrant and active.
So often, after I share a very basic post I hear people commenting on how edgy it was. That never ceases to amaze me. I personally feel weak, broken and living too far below the bar God has for me to communicate anything that’s truly provocative—not the way the prophets of old did, at least.
Yet, even the insufficient words from this messenger tend to cause trouble. The deeper I go in the Lord, the more troubling the messages become—and the messages don’t originate in my mind. They are delivered my spirit in dreams, visions and in Scripture. God is shaking his church, and he’s shaking me as well. The messages will only get stronger.
All you have to do is decide to walk a little closer to God and you'll be criticized more in the church than in the tavern down the street. ~Leonard Ravenhill
When compared with spiritual heroes of old, we still have miles to go before we are anywhere near the level of shock that their messages caused.
If we have another Pentecost and it was real , we'd all be in jail within a month. We're such an accommodating Christianity today. ~Leonard Ravenhill
We are living in a day where deception has so overwhelmed the church that anything less than clear, black and white preaching of the Word won’t suffice. The enemy has convinced millions of professing Christians that they are OK and in a good place as he craftily leads them to Hell.
The devil can counterfeit all the saving operations and graces of the Spirit of God. ~Jonathan Edwards
There isn't a “Pentecostal” Church in America. If there is, tell me where it is. ~Leonard Ravenhill
I'm embarrassed to be a part of the (so-called) church of Jesus Christ today because I believe it's an embarrassment to a Holy God ! ~Leonard Ravenhill
Simply put, some presume most in the world are saved and I believe they are not.
Many presume most in the church are saved and I have my doubts.
I doubt if 5% of professing Christians in America are born again. ~Leonard Ravenhill
For this reason, the disturbing messages of awakening to the church must continue. They can’t be occasional or squeezed between other less costly teachings. The alarm cannot be interrupted.
Someone asked me, “Do you pray for the dead?” I said, “No, I preach to them!” I think every pew in every church is death row. Think about that! They're dead! They sing about God; they talk about God, but they're dead! They have no living relationship (with God). ~Leonard Ravenhill
There's one thing we need above everything else; it's something we don't talk about these days. We need a mighty avalanche of conviction of sin. ~Leonard Ravenhill
Effectively Communicating the Struggle
As a communicator it’s so frustrating to me when I can’t effectively get a point across (which happens more often than I’d like to admit!).
I’ve been wrestling with how I can best represent the urgency I have in my spirit regarding the state of the church. Maybe the following will help.
Even the revival/prophetic stream that I most easily identify with would presume that, in general, most in the church are in right standing before God. They are saved.
This is where my internal struggle intensifies. I have a low level of confidence that that’s true.
This point of departure radically impacts how messages are delivered and received.
How you believe God perceives people will determine how you respond to them. –Jacquelyn K. Heasley
Consider the well known “Urgency/Importance Matrix.”
Urgent means that a task requires immediate attention.
Important tasks are things that contribute to our long-term mission, values and goals.
My messages are most often situated right in the center of the URGENT/IMPORTANT section of the matrix. What this means is that the calls for awakening are so critical that if they aren’t heeded, many praying, tithing, church going, professing Christians will end up in Hell—and the lost will remain lost. Simply, my message is to awaken the at risk church and to establish again the clear, biblical structure of the church—to be a house of prayer for all nations.
Additionally, for the remaining who are truly saved, the message retains its urgent status as it calls the remnant church to abruptly shock the rest of the world out of the grip of the spirit of the age. Billions are headed to Hell and anything less than a white hot burning church won’t work.
We're blind to the fact (that) we have an obligation to five billion people in the world. This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of lost souls! ~Leonard Ravenhill
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 1 Peter 4:17-18
Even the righteous are scarcely saved, so we need a steady, continual sledgehammer approach to our messages. Awaken! Strengthen what remains!
Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:2
The American church is living so far below the bar, and it has become convinced that it’s normal. We have been deceived.
I don't believe 90% of people who claim to have the Baptism of the Holy Spirit truly have it. True power is missing. ~Morris Cerullo
I'm astounded, bewildered, confused, baffled when people tell me there are 75 million people in America that are filled with the Holy Ghost and we're the most rotten nation on earth. ~Leonard Ravenhill
God is taking His hands off of America. We've had so much light and we've rejected it. ~Leonard Ravenhill
Additionally, regarding revival, it’s easy to presume that the foundation has already been laid and that now we are to expect an outpouring. I depart from this perspective as well. Of course, revival can spark anywhere through anybody that is wholehearted toward God, but on a regional and national level I’m still in the URGENT/IMPORTANT square.
Instead of millions finding Jesus in a season of revival, the risk is high and immediate for millions to end up in Hell. The alarms should still be sounding. It’s not time to shift to another square on the matrix, and it won’t be for quite some time.
I'm concerned in my spirit (that) the reason the world goes to hell-fire tonight is because we've (the church) lost Holy Ghost fire. ~Leonard Ravenhill
It seems the majority of other preachers and teachers and Christian leaders don’t wrestle with this the way I do (though some definitely do so and at a much higher level than me). So, their starting point is different.
Since their feeling is that professing Christians are out of harms way, the urgency factor is not there. Their messages are most often categorized as NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT. They take on the feel of exhortation instead of proclamation, encouragements instead of mandates.
So, the starting point for those in the NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT quadrant is that we are safe, and now we can start the process of improvement, enhancement and development. With the urgency factor removed, there is no need for strong preaching or offensive messages. There’s no call to desperation in the place of prayer.
Without the urgency of prayer, the importance of reaching the masses and seeing revival is a pipe dream. Daily gatherings of prayer must return to the church!
I can think of one thing when I get to the Judgment Bar and Jesus will look down and say, “I had many things to tell you but you couldn't bear them.” We're too busy running our own lives: praying when you want to pray, eating what you want to eat, going where you want to go, spending what you want to spend, reading what you want to read, (Do you) call that a spiritual life? Brother, it is carnal as carnality! ~Leonard Ravenhill
At this level there is a false sense of unity that tends to take over. The unity is around a presumed state of salvation, and this common ground actually results in an aggressive rejection of URGENT/IMPORTANT messages. Those messages are disruptive, and in fact, are often re-categorized by the hearers as NOT URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT. Distractions. They disagree with both the message and the delivery. They are irritants to their focus on enhancement and development. They seem to be counter-productive and a threat to their mission.
There's is certainly a cry for unity in the church. The question is, will we unite at the lowest common level or at the highest & most costly?
Regarding revival, the lack of urgency has resulted in a premature focus on strategies and advance. The NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT approach toward revival reveals that most feel the church is in a good place, ripe for revival, and that now it’s time to plan. On the contrary, the church is in a deeply compromised place and we must return to the basics. We must do little else than pray, repent and proclaim truth in this very troubling phase.
A Culture of Nice
This NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT church position has resulted in what some are calling a “culture of nice,” or the “false gospel of nice.”
The strategy is simply to be nice in the hopes that people will get saved and that the church will be unified—and that sounds great. The problem is that many of today’s issues require that we aren’t nice and passive. A confrontation is necessary. There’s even a sharp increase in evangelism that eliminates any mention of sin and repentance in the hopes that they communicate a nice, loving God that simply wants to be befriended. That type of evangelism results in people shifting from rejecting God to appreciating God—but not surrendering all to him.
We don't preach salvation. We preach forgiveness. ~Leonard Ravenhill
There are many, many people who are extremely active in churches today that have not had their false theologies challenged, who feel no pressure to deal with sinful attitudes and who presume to be in right standing in Christ—because nobody wants to threaten the culture of nice. The challenge to their positions never comes. The rebukes are absent. The conviction of the Holy Spirit is hushed.
Instead, the focus is on affirming and encouraging people in their current state. The NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT approach casually encourages them to grow and to become all they can be—if they want to. It’s important, but not immediately necessary. It’s the equivalent of being encouraged to get a college degree. It’s important, but not urgent. But, if they decide not to grow and advance, if the cost is too high, that’s OK. God still loves them anyway and all is well.
“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 1 Corinthians 15:32
The incorrect understanding of God’s love also results in a non-urgent approach to social issues. Homosexuals are affirmed in the church in the hopes that someday, if they so choose, they can find freedom. Pre-martial sex is discouraged but not shunned. Gossip is tolerated since it’s seemingly nice and important to value people’s opinions and to allow them to share their hearts. After all, if those same people are also feeding the hungry, giving financially, serving in the ministry and being nice, it can be presumed that they are in a good place and that they are to be affirmed.
We're living in an unprecedented day (when) evil is no longer evil. We've changed the terminology– iniquity is now infirmity; wickedness is now weakness; devilry is now deficiency. ~Leonard Ravenhill
If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying “Peace, peace,” where is no peace; if I forget the poignant word “Let love be without dissimulation” and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love. –Amy Carmichael
We must stop avoiding the “negative,” false-unity threatening truths!
Jennifer LeClaire from Charisma Magazine said:
Jesus isn’t bending His standards for any generation, and if people choose to desert the faith to fit in with the crowd or because the truth is too hard to bear, it would grieve Him, but He still won’t change His mind.
When Jesus taught that He was the bread come down from heaven and said, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54), many deserted Him. The Bible says, “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you also want to go away?'” (vv. 66-67).
Even if the 12 had left His side, Jesus would still not compromise the truth. We can’t compromise the truth either. Ultimately, it won’t serve youth, millennials or any generation to cave on 2,000 years of Christian orthodoxy. Especially not now. We’re in the last days. All signs point to a soon return of the Lord.
Not Urgent/Not Important
A lack of urgency, a culture of nice and a rejection of what’s important results in the lifestyle we see in our nation—NOT URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT.
Not only is there no urgency to go to church, for example, now the argument is that it’s also not important.
There’s no urgency to warn people of the destruction that media is bringing to our culture and it’s also no longer important to avoid that media ourselves.
There’s no urgency to gather together to pray, and, in fact, the call to prayer in the church is being rejected by many. It’s not important, or at least not as important as other things.
No church is going to have a revival with a prayer meeting (only) one day a week! ~Leonard Ravenhill
The surest thing in the world is not death and taxes, it's death and eternity. Yet, we're so unconcerned. ~Leonard Ravenhill
So now, a NOT URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT lifestyle results in laziness and a life-threatening misevaluation of what is important. Deception has taken over.
Pleasure and entertainment have filled the void and time is spent watching TV, relaxing and playing.
Doubt about what God deems important overtakes people and the result is a casual, happy-go-lucky approach to life.
It is now possible to live a “christian life” without doing the things that Jesus commanded us to do. ~Cal Thomas
The church is supposed to do what? To stop corruption? Is the church doing that? No! The world is corrupting the church! ~Leonard Ravenhill
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1
Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually! You spurn all who go astray from your statutes, for their cunning is in vain. All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross, therefore I love your testimonies. My flesh trembles for fear of you, and I am afraid of your judgments. Psalm 119:117-120
This leaves us with the last quadrant—URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT.
It’s very easy to fall into this category while presuming we are in the URGENT/IMPORTANT category.
The easy way to explain URGENT/NOT IMPORTANT is this—it’s all about priorities.
I've heard a million words, sermons, and read books: (and) I'm accountable to God for everything I have. Every moment of my time, every dime of my money. ~Leonard Ravenhill
We live in a very busy culture that demands our attention continually. Additionally, we can give ourselves to goals and activities that require our focus immediately and continually, but that are less important than what God would have us involved in.
The cares of life fall directly into this section.
And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” Mark 4:18-20
This is why we must be students of the Word. The Bible reveals what is most important to us, not our urgent, intense, demanding American culture.
The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible is the religion of Christ's church. ~Leonard Ravenhill
The pursuit of riches or other things results in an urgency to obtain them, even though we know in Scripture that it’s not at all important.
Tell the students to give up their small ambitions and come eastward to preach the gospel of Christ. — Francis Xavier, missionary to India, the Philippines, and Japan
What message are you preaching?
Do you presume all is well? Are you mostly focused on enhancing and developing, or is there a spirit of a reformer ready to be awakened in you?
There is a need for URGENT/IMPORTANT prophetic messengers to rise up.
You will be resisted by the NOT URGENT/IMPORTANT crowd—many of whom are wonderful, valuable Christians who sincerely see things differently. Their view on salvation and on the necessary level of intensity in our generation may differ. But, that doesn’t remove your mandate to urgently sound a critically important message—wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die.
The spirit of the age is overwhelming the church in ways we may not have considered.
As is necessary when addressing an ultra-sensitive issue, I will make some qualifications on the front end:
God is without question, and I will declare without apology, passionately interested in blessing his children. It is fully appropriate to give a measure of attention to the wondrous process of discovery of God’s abundant life, overwhelming benefits and blessings.
That being said, I now must move on to offering some analysis on a hidden crises.
THE SPIRIT OF ABORTION…IN THE CHURCH?
As a prophetic messenger, a primary driving force of my daily life is to reveal and help destroy any barriers to Kingdom advance and the revelation of the cross and resurrection of Christ. In fact, we all must have our eyes wide open to this disturbing movement that is overtaking the church and stand in unity against its advance.
Now, of course, the thought of the spirit of abortion in the church is potentially offensive and certainly provocative. It’s a bold statement to say the least.
It’s important at this point to understand our discussion isn’t about all of those other Christians or all of those other churches that just don’t get it. We must look inward. Yes, we have to boldly and humbly ask ourselves the question, “God, are the same spirits that drive the abortion movement also driving me?”
Check out this quote which highlights the issue quite well. Notice how this person affirms killing a threat to other “good” endeavors:
Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. Abortion is profamily, prolife, moral, and good. For many millions of women, abortion has meant getting on with their lives and continuing to meet their responsibilities to themselves, their families, and society. PATRICIA W. LUNNEBORG, Abortion: A Positive Decision
Is it possible that we in the church are also more focused on getting on with our lives at the expense of God, the church, our mission, the Word and other people?
It’s shocking to me how Little League, school, family vacations and rest and relaxation are not looked at as threats to our personal freedoms, but a call to the prayer room is.
With that in mind, here’s another qualifying statement: The demonic abortion strategy is multi-faceted. It includes spirits of murder, violence, hatred and many others. While we as Christians may not be driven by those spirits, there is one spirit that has a foundational, comprehensive assignment. This spirit is what has infiltrated the church, and it’s, in my opinion, a key reason why we haven’t had the authority to eradicate it from its assignment of murdering babies.
This spirit has one key focus, one goal as it ministers to the minds and hearts of people:
People are focused primarily on their personal experience.
You could also call it selfish ambition.
Check out this passage of scripture:
James 3:13-16 (ESV) 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
Selfish ambition is demonic. Jealousy, which results when we focus on our own personal experience, is also vile, earthly and demonic.
When a woman is carrying an unwanted baby, her focus immediately shifts to her own personal experience. Her ambition. Her dreams.
The call to lay down her life for another, to make a great sacrifice, to change her priorities, to embrace a life of struggle and inconvenience for another person all fall on deaf ears. After all, it’s her body and she can do what she wants with it, right?
One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living. AYN RAND, The Ayn Rand Lexicon
The unwilling mother has rights! It’s her life. It’s her time. It’s her dreams. It’s her decision, and in the case of abortion, she makes the decision for self instead of for another. Her personal experience was instrumental in her decision.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
So, how does this affect the church? This issue is impacting the church and Christians in very deep, disturbing ways. It’s not a minor issue that’s affecting a few. It’s a major problem that’s a primary driver in the very fabric of Western Christianity.
We have to understand that so much of preaching today has been fashioned to appease people looking for a positive personal experience. This must end.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV) 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Do you know how difficult it is to find churches that preach the cross? Cost? Death? Surrender? The personal experience must be positive and without much cost if we hope to fill the pews. The same thing happened at the cross. The place Jesus died was empty except for those killing him and those closest to him. Where were the crowds who were looking for a message to satisfy their itching ears? They left when the message included death. When you preach the cross the masses will run and you will be left with those who are the closest to you and those who are out to kill you.
“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
“The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
“I believe that there are too many accommodating preachers, and too many practitioners in the church who are not believers. Jesus Christ did not say, ‘Go into all the world and tell the world that it is quite right.' The gospel is something completely different. In fact, it is directly opposed to the world.” ~C. S. Lewis
What should send us to our knees is that it’s the very gospel of Jesus that is being rejected for the sake of the pursuit of personal blessing and benefit! There are preachers in churches with crosses on their steeples who refuse to call people to the cross at the altars! A minimized cross results in Christians that are only artificially vibrant as they pursue blessing, but dead and dying inside—and this has eternal implications!
It’s time for us to respond positively to what many have called negative messages; these piercing, demanding, shocking negative messages of death at the cross were born through God himself and delivered to us in the form of the Jesus.
“I doubt that more than two percent of professing Christians in the United States are truly born again.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
Just like the woman who wants to remove the threat of a baby for the sake of her own personal experience, we in the church are all too often looking for relief and blessing instead of carrying a heavy cross for the sake of others! The refusal to sacrifice time, money, energy and our very lives on a daily basis results in a prayerless, self-centered, quasi-Christian that’s driven by the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Have you noticed that the biggest offerings tend to come when the emphasis is on what we can expect in return? The biggest conferences tend to be those that highlight personal breakthrough. The most appreciated sermons are those that reveal the blessings we can expect as Christians. I often wonder what would happen if we held a conference titled, “Come and die.”
We live in a day when we unwittingly embrace a deadly, self-centered spirit of religion.
Religion is: Man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.
When we don’t get what we want out of God our the church, we have an opportunity to accuse, to get angry, to place demands and to flee. When Jesus was here, the spirit of religion killed him because they didn’t get out of Jesus what they wanted.
The crowds were crying out, “Hosanna!” during the Triumphal Entry, which literally means, “Save us now!”
Jesus had of course decided to do just that—but not in a way they wanted.
In the next passage Jesus goes into the temple to overturn the moneychangers tables. Why? Because they were using the church for personal gain! The spirit of religion was in the temple! We are to enter the church with the expectation of leaving with LESS than we entered with, not more! We aren’t to use the church, but we are to bring an offering and to be a living sacrifice for the sake of others!
Then, that spirit of religion ended up killing Jesus. Jesus didn’t give them what they wanted in the way they wanted it. So, that spirit of abortion, of murder, took care of business.
Theocentric simply means we exist for God rather than He for us. Egocentric praying is our attempt at managing and directing God to accomplish our will instead of His. If “covetousness is idolatry” then attempting to harness the power of God to the priorities of self-centeredness is SIN! ~Harold Vaughn
The emphasis today seems to be on God alleviating our struggles instead of joining in on the great end-time struggle!
“If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there’s something wrong!” ~Leonard Ravenhill
Again, God loves to bless his children, but we must discuss the approach:
I absolutely love to give my kids presents. I come alive! My son Jet’s birthday was yesterday and I had so much fun watching his face beam as we opened presents, and as Chuck-E-Cheese led out in singing happy birthday. I also couldn’t wait to get him home, after he thought all of the presents had already been given, and see his face as he opened the shed to ride his bike…only to see his brand new bike sitting there! What a moment! Later that night we were laying on the hammock under the stars together, and he very casually and thoughtfully said, “Yep, this was about the best birthday ever…the best Chuck-E-Cheese birthday ever.”
Now, compare that to other days when I take the kids for a routine shopping trip to Walmart. From the moment they hit the door their sad, frustrated faces reveal what’s coming next. “Dad, please, can I have…”
No. No. NO! Over and over again. The tears come. The sadness increases. Their carnal nature is showing in radiant brilliance! Their consideration is not for mom and dad, our focus on saving money or anything else. It’s on self! You see, I often bring my kids with me when I go out just because I want to be with them, and to their credit, my wonderful children often want to be with me too! We love being together. But, something happens when the focus turns to self. What’s in it for me?
When threats to your dreams or your time or your personal endeavors come, how do you react? When preaching cuts instead of satisfies, how do you respond? The answer to these questions can go a long way in revealing what spirit you are driven by.
When the threats came to Jesus, he didn’t resist—he died. He surrendered for the sake of the world.
However, when the threat of a new King being born was discovered by Herod, he was troubled. The threat to his own personal experience, his reign as king, resulted in the spirit of abortion entering him.
Matthew 2:13 (ESV) 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
Matthew 2:16 (ESV) 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
We see this pattern repeating itself throughout history. Massive resistance comes when a threat to personal experience arrives. It emerged, for example, when the African-Americans threatened a segment of society’s idea of racial purity. That resulted in the Ku Klux Klan and the horrific murders of many innocent people.
We saw it during the holocaust as Hitler was threatened by the Jews and other groups. Again, millions of innocent people died for the sake of one demented person’s overzealous aim to ensure his personal life experience was protected.
Today, terrorism is on the rise and murder is the strategy of choice for many who refuse to allow their life experiences to be threatened by other cultures.
This demonic spirit is incredibly crafty. The call of Christianity is to die for others and the call of this demonic spirit is for others to die for us.
Of course, the act of murder isn’t the strategy of choice for those who are threatened in the church—or is it?
Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Jesus equates anger to murder. In the church the manifestation of anger usually results in gossip, which is a deeply destructive spirit. Gossip results in dark hearts manifesting outwardly against those who threaten them. The same accusation that the abortionists hurl are used by the uncrucified, angry Christians—”You are threatening my freedom and my rights!”
No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother. MARGARET SANGER, Woman and the New Race
When we become Christians we gain freedom but we lose our freedoms.
Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV) 16 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
It’s also possible to take on the offense of others. We have to be very careful! If we allow others who have had their own personal experiences threatened to lure us into a inappropriately merciful, sympathetic position, we are at great risk of taking on their offense and embracing anger against the threatening person. We saw Absalom do this as he took on the offense of others who didn’t get what they wanted out of King David.
Again, we are to expect a sharp sword, a high bar, a challenging life and a call to die to everything, including our own opinions, for the sake of others.
The spirit of abortion fights for personal rights no matter what the cost to others is. It resists the preaching of the cross with a vengeance. The cross threatens our very life!
Repentance must hit our churches. We have to return to the cross and refuse to buy into the demand for messages that tickle our ears. It’s time to once again be OK with deep inspection of the Lord into our hearts.
It’s this type of life that is a manifestation of deep, selfless love. This love will result in a great authority against the mission of murder against the millions of precious babies.
If we embrace the same self-centered spirit that drives the abortionists while at the same time crying out against them, we will be powerless. But, if die to self we will have the authority to defeat the spirit of abortion, murder and death that has overrun our nation.
Men tell us in these days that sin is what you think it is. Well, it is not. Sin is what God thinks it is. You may think according to your own conscience. God thinks according to His. –John G. Lake
People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. –D.A. Carson
It is perilously easy to have amazing sympathy with God's truth and remain in sin.– Oswald Chambers