Either the extreme activity of the Holy Spirit is critical to every Christian, or it is not.I've resisted writing this article for a long time, as there doesn't seem to be a way around causing a schism, or at least provoking people to pick a side. Then again, maybe this is just what we need—an honest evaluation of the value and purpose of allowing the Holy Spirit to be fully free in our lives and in our churches. Is the movement of the Holy Spirit vital to our success as Christians? Or, can we choose to tone down the manifestations due to personal discomfort or outright disagreement over how appropriate it is?
AMAZING CESSATIONISTSOne of the reasons writing this article is such a struggle is because of how many truly amazing, godly and humble men and women of God there are who don't affirm the gifts of the Spirit. Additionally, there are many others who affirm the gifts and activity of the Holy Spirit, but don't emphasize them or give room for them in the church. In fact there are many “Spirit-filled” churches today that are sadly restrictive of the Holy Spirit. Yet, I've met so many of these pastors and leaders, and they are remarkable people. I'm continually humbled by people like this who are lovers of God, faithful givers, students of the Word, brilliant leaders in the church and who possess truly tender hearts toward people. You won't find any praying in tongues, deliverance of demons, mention of dreams and visions or supernatural manifestations in their ministry. However, they are feeding the poor, visiting prisoners, giving to the needy, standing for righteousness, preaching with conviction and loving those God brings across their path. There are those who would argue that people who discount or minimize the gifts and workings of the Holy Spirit are not saved at all. While I personally feel this is a serious issue, I could never jump to such an extreme conclusion. However…
BAPTISM IN THE HOLY SPIRIT IS CRITICAL FOR ALLI must admit my spirit is grieved terribly when Christians attempt to shut the Holy Spirit and his workings away. I recently heard someone raise the question as to why the activity of the Holy Spirit is even necessary today. He argued that if we focus on the basics, on salvation and preaching the Gospel, that is more than sufficient. He wondered out loud, “Just what else is necessary?” He felt the outward expressions, the loud groans of intercession, tongues, deliverance of demons, and other manifestations were hindrances to the advance of the Gospel. I do understand why he has arrived at his position. There are too many people acting out in bizarre, emotional and strangely spiritual manners while excusing it away as the activity of the Holy Spirit. While I fully embrace the truth that it will become supernaturally intense and even quite messy when God invades a people and a church in great power, too often overly zealous people are getting a little nutty when the power really isn't there. Their passion can get the best of them and, for better or worse, it turns a lot of people away from such theatrics. With all of this in mind, I must clearly reveal the core of my heart and my position on this matter:
Those who dismiss, reject, minimize or tone down the gifts and activity of the Holy Spirit due to discomfort or theological position are at great risk of rejecting God himself—and encouraging others to do the same.Yes, the baptism in the Holy Spirit which results in a remarkable life of power, praying in unknown tongues, experiencing the supernatural realm and living a prophetic life is critical, not simply optional, for all.
WHY IS THE HOLY SPIRIT SO IMPORTANT?No, preaching the Gospel and winning the lost isn't all that we are called to do as Christians. Not even close. However, it's easy to argue that the very act of preaching the Gospel and leading the lost to Jesus can't be done with any real effectiveness, anointing or power without the very direct and active influence of the Holy Spirit.
Only the Holy Spirit knows when, where, how and to whom we should be preaching the Gospel. Of course, we should default to preaching and ministering everywhere we go—unless the Holy Spirit tells us not to. If we are not tuned in to the clear and present words of God, we will not be able to discern his will on anything, including our ministry strategy. Further, we know that praying in tongues edifies us, and the Bible teaches clearly that this gift is available for all. While some of the different gifts of tongues (tongues and interpretation, for example) are reserved for select people, as is true for most spiritual gifts, the prayer language of tongues is a critically important gift for every Christian. We all need the edification that only the Holy Spirit can bring, and his chosen vehicle for that edification is praying in tongues. There is no substitute. No tongues, no edification. That is a recipe for disaster.
Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. Acts 16:6
He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 1 Corinthians 14:4Also, the Holy Spirit enables us to prophesy. We can hear God's voice, receive prophetic revelation, have dreams and visions and discern spiritually as the Holy Spirit moves in and through us. Those who are not baptized in the Holy Spirit may occasionally receive rare and unusual revelation from the Holy Spirit, but such an important part of the Christian life is not supposed to be rare and unusual. Our lives should be filled with never-ending revelation from God. This is part of the wonder of the Spirit-filled life! From my Charisma News article, Should the Church Get Scary?
We need a church on fire today more than ever. The lost are being introduced into lukewarm, natural, Ichabod religion instead of a supernatural shaking that can only come from the great I Am. They are convinced they are saved as they are assimilated into a community of like-minded quasi-spiritual people who would love to see God manifest in their natural realm—yet have no interest in manifesting in the spiritual realm where the Holy Spirit broods.
FLYING BLINDIf you eliminate the activity of the Holy Spirit, you remove the navigator from your life. You fly blind without any unction in the depths of your spirit, without the supernatural stirring and unmistakable glory and presence of God radiating within. Words of knowledge, words of wisdom, discerning of spirits, prophecy, power to do miracles, gifts of healing and other Holy Spirit endued abilities would disappear. I often wonder how any Christian could ever attempt to live their lives much less lead a ministry, preach, write books, lead worship or do pretty much anything else without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, without tongues, without a prophetic spirit and without supernatural gifts. Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit, evangelism, preaching, teaching and every other form of ministry reproduces not the electric, supernatural life of the Spirit, but, rather a simplistic, humanly understandable depiction of God. I'm not saying it's impossible to lead someone to Jesus or to teach the truth of Scripture if you aren't baptized in the Holy Spirit, but the efforts become more difficult at best and compromised at worst. If you aren't filled with power, just what are you imparting to them? Without the baptism of the Holy Spirit and embracing the extreme activity of the Holy Spirit, and while attempting to subdue intense supernatural manifestations, deliverance won't happen, people will remain demonized, instantaneous healing will be rare, church services will be dead and naturally orchestrated, faith will be manufactured instead of imparted, prophecy will cease and power will fizzle out.
LIVING AN IMPOSSIBLE LIFEI could write a book, no, many books, on this topic. This article is woefully incomplete, but I wanted to at least stir the waters and initiate some conversation. We are called to live wildly supernatural lives. The experiences and mandates God has for us are fully impossible without moving in the power of the Holy Spirit. The revelation that God has given me and my family over the years is so absolutely remarkable and other-worldly that I would be an entirely different person today if it had not come. The miracles and wonders that God has performed have marked us and moved us in directions that would have been impossible without the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Yes, I'll say it loudly: The Holy Spirit is that important as are his gifts, revelation and power.
Are you living on the right side of Acts chapter one? The answer will determine the course of your life.
Every morning when we awaken from a long night of sleep, we stretch, yawn and eventually step into a new day. In the natural we are functioning from a collection of experiences, training, opportunities, challenges and other influences that have helped determine our current experience. Some are waking up in the morning to get ready to operate on somebody’s heart because his natural training provided him that opportunity. Others are headed to classes in a university as a result of healthy planning. Still others are depressed, lonely, fearful, expectant, determined or are experiencing a myriad of other very real feelings due to their position in life. Their natural position.
Spiritually, where are you? Specifically, which side of Acts chapter one are you living on when you wake up each morning?
Listen to a podcast on this topic…
Acts Chapter 1
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:6-11 (ESV)
Of course, the first chapter of Act’s position on the historical timeline comes after the death and victorious resurrection of Jesus. The question I’m asking is directed toward those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb—Christians—those who have responded to the greatest gift man has ever been offered. Christian friend, it’s possible to be functioning on the right side of the cross and on the wrong side of the rest of the story.
Read the short passage in Acts 1:6-11 again. Let the power of that dramatic moment impact you. Put yourself in the position of the disciples of Jesus.
They had just experienced, to put it lightly, a dramatic season of life that culminated with their hero, their friend, God himself being brutally, savagely tortured and mutilated. They were suddenly alone, fearful and confused. Their holy hope was gone forever—so it seemed. Dead people don’t just wake up and walk out of their tombs after all, right?
Lazarus might disagree with that. So would Jesus. The disciple’s overwhelming hopelessness was miraculously displaced by the impossible. Jesus walked out his tomb.
They were fearful, alone and confused no more. Now the celebration begins! Now plans for the future can be discussed! This was the day the Lord Jesus himself created and it was time to rejoice and be glad!
The obvious next step was for Jesus to set up his Kingdom and to reign! The disciple’s question was an honest yet misguided one:
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6 (ESV)
They didn’t understand at all what the future held. The victory on the cross, in their minds, would result in Jesus doing much more of what they saw him do previously. Jesus was the man of the hour and they wanted to be in the front row for the show.
After all, Jesus had just spent 40 days talking to them about the Kingdom, right?
3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 (ESV)
Yes, the Kingdom was coming, but not at all the way everyone had presumed. Jesus was about to launch them out of Acts chapter one and into Acts chapter two.
If you’ll remember, Jesus had already given them a mandate that it seems they casually overlooked:
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:4-5 (ESV)
The disciples had necessary teaching about the Kingdom and a mandate to wait for a promise that would enable them to initiate a world shaking mission.
However, in their minds they wondered why they would need a Promise if Jesus was there with them. Why would they need anything else? Jesus was going to work wonders and they would be there as his most fervent supporters!
9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. Acts 1:9 (ESV)
Again, put yourself in the shoes of the disciples. What type of emotional crisis were they going through? First Jesus died, then he defied all odds and returned in victory. Now their plans for Jesus to build his Kingdom were cut down as they received an inconvenient mandate to pray and wait for some nondescript Promise—as Jesus again left them.
Now, their close friend, their superhero who would protect them from the threats of the many enemies in the land, was gone from them a second time—this time for good (at least in their lifetimes).
The Bible says that they were just standing there gazing into heaven.
My question to you is this: Are you gazing into heaven waiting for Jesus to show up and do what you are yearning for him to do? Or, are you taking action in the power of the Holy Spirit to do it yourself?
On the cross Jesus famously said, “It is finished!” His part is done. We have been left with an extreme mandate and a costly mission that must be in front of us every morning when we awaken, stretch and yawn and move into our day.
So often we are crying out for Jesus to heal the sick when he commanded us to heal the sick. Those on the wrong side of Acts chapter one will gaze into heaven waiting for Jesus to do it. Those who have been baptized with power and who have embraced their spiritual mission will function in the power of the resurrection by looking at someone and commanding that they take up their mat and walk!
True baptism in power results in an inconvenient life.
I’m convinced that casual ‘gazing into heaven’ type prayer is often unanswered because Jesus is putting the pressure on us to get into the prayer rooms where supernatural baptism can be found.
The angelic question in Acts 2 remains for us today:
11 …“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?” Acts 1:11a (ESV)
Those who are living on the wrong side of Acts chapter one have bought into the resurrection power of the cross but have yet to step into their life mission that requires a devotion that will put every other life focus at risk. They want to continue in their day-to-day life hoping that Jesus will be the hero and rescuer they might need in times of trouble. The call to greater consecration is unnecessary since they are already saved and the victory of the cross was complete.
The truth is that the victory of the cross launches our mission. It doesn’t end it. When Jesus said “it is finished,” for us it meant, “it has begun.”
The enemy is moving across the earth stealing, killing and destroying. How could we even begin to think our work is done or unnecessary?
The blood of Jesus doesn’t grant us immunity, it grants us authority—authority to tread on serpents, authority to heal the sick, authority to advance the Kingdom, authority to go and make disciples.
Those living on the right side of the chapter are burning with that mission every single day. They wake up on fire with an urgency to fulfill their extremely important commission.
The life of someone living in Acts chapter two and beyond looks radically different than the lives of other Christians.
The call to prayer was too inconvenient for most everybody who saw Jesus alive after the resurrection. Only 120 showed up in that room. Only 120 determined it was necessary to actually obey Jesus. To them Jesus was more Savior than Lord.
Living on the right side of Acts one requires obedience. It requires us to be people of extravagant, inconvenient prayer.
Acts two started with prayer in an Upper Room and it continued with prayer daily in the temple.
17 pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV)
Today we have innumerable people who are naming the name of Christ who are living in constant disobedience by refusing to live a life of continual prayer.
Corporate prayer is such a clear and obvious mandate for Christians that it is beyond shocking and nonsensical that so many are not investing in it. They are living after the resurrection but before Acts, presuming that all is well and there is nothing left to be done. Both Resurrection power and Holy Spirit power are required before we can even begin to understand our life purpose—much less fulfill it.
The corporate prayer meetings are the most important meeting and every Christian must be in attendance. In fact, In Acts 2 corporate prayer was a daily occurrence. This is what must return to our churches today.
46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day… Acts 2:46 (NLT)
This means we can no longer continue without coming together for Holy Spirit infused prayer every day and presume it’s okay or normal. It’s not. Those living on the right side of Acts one can’t stand the thought of going a day without encountering God in prayer with other Believers.
Acts Christians were radically invested in both corporate church gatherings and planting of new churches.
I’m grieved at the number of Christian “church haters” (is that even possible?) that are on the rise. People are creating theologies that argue against the corporate church setting that are laughable.
Consider Chinese Christians who gather together every morning at 4:30am, seven days a week, to pray and worship together as the church before they begin their day. In America we think a couple hours a week is too inconvenient!
Can somebody explain to me how coming together with other Christians every day to pray on fire is a bad thing? How is that something that doctrines are being created to oppose? Truly those are doctrines of demons.
Some might say that they don’t need to attend church because “they are the church.” They would be incorrect.
From my article, You are not the church:
If we understand the meaning of the word ‘church’ we could never presume that we alone are the church. That idea is contrary to the origin of the word (ekklesia, meaning “assembly”). In fact, that word has secular origins. It literally means an assembly of people who have been called together by an authority in the city or region. Wow! That sheds a lot of light on what the church is.
The church is an assembly of people organized under defined governmental leadership. It’s a regular gathering of people who are deeply agreed and in pursuit of mission advance under God’s apostles, prophets and other governmental leaders.
Further, the pure definition of the word reveals that it isn’t used as easily in the context of the global company of believers as it is in the regional and local gathering of believers.
The definition reveals that it’s a well defined local group vs. a loosely defined larger group of people (who mostly don’t know each other at all). We can’t be a part of the church if we aren’t gathered together with other parts of the church. Church is corporate.
Additionally, the church is a group of people who assemble, fellowship, pray and respond together to apostolic teaching. That can’t happen in a more nebulous global context.
The church has inherent in it’s core call the expectation of assembly and a corporate response so as to ensure the local mission is fulfilled. Again, a fulfilled mission can’t be realized without this type of intentional and faithful participation at a local level where communication and commonality are clearly defined.
Those living in Acts Holy Spirit power understand the need to be rightly aligned with men and women of God. They understand the church gathering isn’t foundationally a social one. It’s a strategic one. Great numbers of people coming together to pray and to receive apostolic instruction is necessary on a daily basis if we are to advance the gospel in victorious fashion.
The church is a military. It has a mission.
Church haters have gripes about how they were treated, about disagreements with focus, about not being recognized, about most anything. True biblical Holy Spirit empowered Christians are ready to die to their own opinions and serve. Today when people are rejected they run from the church with complaints in their hearts. Two thousand years ago when Jesus was rejected he died for the church with love in his heart.
Acts Christians are not flowing under the radar, blending in with their culture. They are causing controversies and inciting riots!
40 For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.” Acts 19:40 (ESV)
It angers me that so many supposed Christians refuse to declare the offensive Gospel message out of fear that they may lose friends, offend family or put their financial security at risk!
Did you know that’s why there was a riot in Ephesus? People’s financial well being was compromised when Paul and his team of firebrands arrived on the scene!
23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. 25 He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” 28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. Acts 19:23-29 (NIV)
I absolutely love Acts 19 verse 23:
23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. Acts 19:23 (NIV)
Where is such a disturbance today?
“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” is not the gospel message! It’s a true message, but it’s not the gospel message. When we start preaching about man’s depravity, our darkness, and God’s holiness and Lordship and his extreme sacrifice on the cross we will begin preaching the gospel. Anything that does not upset culture as it sets people free is suspect as a true message.
People on the right side of Acts chapter one will burn with a mission. Others will live normal, low impact lives. Sure, they may enjoy God, say their prayers, go to church, worship him, read their bibles and be people of great conviction. However, the very reason they were born eludes them. The tears over the lost and the zeal for intercession are absent. An aggressive, unwavering daily pursuit of humanly impossible God given projects and assignments is nowhere to be found.
The primary purpose of the Promise in the Upper Room was not to make us feel better as we worship or to help us in our daily lives. The primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to empower us to live free from sin (He’s the HOLY Spirit) and to preach the message of the cross to the world; to expand the Kingdom. How different this is than what the disciples presumed in Acts one!
The Holy Spirit enables us to work and to advance in mission in ways that are not possible via human determination. Jesus is physically gone and we are the ones to do the work!
12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12 (NIV)
When on the earth, Jesus was about his Father’s business. Now that he is gone we are to be about our Father’s business!
49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Luke 2:49-50 (NKJV)
I propose there are many post-resurrection/pre-Upper Room Christians today who also don’t understand what it is to be about our Father’s business.
Acts chapter one where we see disciples of Jesus transition into apostles. In a moment, they went from followers to ‘sent ones’ with a mission.
I want to encourage you, when you wake up each morning, stretch and yawn and get ready for the day that you function as a sent one. Burn with a passion for Jesus and the advance of his Kingdom. Embrace the impossible assignments that God has for you. Pray continually with others. Live and walk in the Spirit. Disrupt the culture you live in. Trouble the lukewarm and awaken the sleepers. Live in great power—power that’s found on the other side of Acts chapter one.
Watch: Does fear grip your life? You can be free! Don’t let fear of loss rob you of the fire of revival!
Threat #10: Fear of Loss
If we fear loss of our our free time, finances, comfort and loss of command of our own lifestyle, schedule and plans, we will resist revival fiercely. Demonic fear must be replaced by a raging, shaking fear of the Lord!
The greater our fear of God which comes through intimacy with him, the less our fear that’s initiated by the enemy will be.
We won’t fear loss… we will understand that loss is a part of the process. Don’t protect what God may want to touch in your life.
Isaiah 8:11-13 (ESV) 11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
The catch is this: If we fear God, the result is boldness and intimacy and power and confidence.
If we have a spirit of fear, the result is timidity, reclusion, weakness and insecurity.
Proverbs 19:23 (ESV) 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE THREE PART SERIES
When we understand our authority, and when we understand that the battle is in the invisible realm, we can have great impact. The enemy will bring the fight to us whether we want to go to war or not. Our only option is to know who we are in Christ, and who Christ is in us and then to enforce the victory of the cross! You will find yourself encouraged, equipped and joyful as you finally hit the enemy with a supernatural power that will send him fleeing!
An overwhelming experience in God’s presence is coming—and that is going to produce some issues in the church.
I often say that a 2 Chronicles 7 church is coming—and it is going to be shocking when it does.
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
Now, that’s a good church service!
I am definitely wired to appreciate and crave encounters with Jesus that leave people wrecked and rocked. I’ve experienced visible glory clouds, manifestations of gold dust and oil and indescribable encounters that left me absolutely floored in the glory of God’s presence. I believe one second in God’s presence is enough to convince the most resistant skeptic and it’s enough to free people from years of demonic assault.
However his presence may not feel like what we think it might.
“I just want to feel Jesus.”
I was compelled strongly by the Holy Spirit in a recent season at Revival Church to call everybody back to the raw, elementary truths of Christianity. I shifted from teaching mostly on experience and encounter to the tenets of our faith for several weeks when I started to become troubled with the lack of maturity in the camp.
In fact, I was deeply grieved when I discovered one young lady who had connected with us and absolutely loved to worship and pray was actually steeped in extremely demonic New Age teachings. That was a wake-up call for me. How was it that we had a culture of experiencing God’s presence and someone could blend in who was so radically deceived? I knew I had to shock our culture with a fresh understanding of what God’s presence truly is—and it starts with his Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
My experience there was priceless—I had to gain an understanding of the risk that will accompany the coming moves of God that will result in unprecedented manifestations of his presence. Many fiery Christians will shrink back when God’s true presence manifests.
When we shifted, I began preaching and teaching on the hard topics of salvation, Hell, repentance, the cross and the blood of Jesus. I have to admit I was stunned at the fierce resistance that came as I was communicating the elementary tenets of the Christian faith. I believe it’s possible to experience God’s presence and be so undisciplined and focused on personal experience that one isn’t even saved. This is the main reason this topic has to be addressed. Is it possible some of the most fervent worshipers and wildest dancers weren’t saved? I don’t know. I tremble at the thought of it.
In this critical season, instead of a careless, party atmosphere that had become common at Revival Church, the bar was raised as I called everybody into intentional steps of maturity, repentance and brokenness before the Lord.
What followed broke my heart—and confirmed my suspicions.
With the happy, dancing, party dialed down as we invited God to reveal himself to us in a deeper way, I saw sad faces and disengaged people.
Someone said, “I just want to feel Jesus again.”
What they didn’t realize is that Jesus was actually moving in greater power than he had previously, even though those prior encounters were something to behold. God was calling us deeper, beyond the entertainment and warm fuzzy feelings that are very much Holy Spirit initiated, but limited greatly. There was more—and for those who are addicted to happy feelings, more with God can feel like less.
“I want you to give me your life.”
I understand the struggle with feeling God’s presence removed.
In the early 1990’s God had absolutely overwhelmed my life day after day. I wish I could communicate how remarkable that season of my life was. God was overwhelming me with his presence and I became a different person literally overnight.
After work every day I’d go to the church, by myself, and pray for hours. That’s all I craved to do! God met me there continually, and I was rocked over and over again. My entire life revolved around the prayer room and enjoying God. Nothing compared.
One night my life changed forever. In the midst of my amazing daily encounters with Jesus, I found myself in a prayer room at a youth lock-in in Dayton, Ohio. While 300 students were playing volleyball and basketball I was alone in a dark, glorious room overlooking the skyline of the city. God was waiting for me when I waked in.
I paced around praying and worshiping as the presence of God swirled all around me. I never wanted to leave.
Suddenly, as I was enjoying God, walking back and forth in his manifest presence, I heard a voice, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
I was irritated. My focus on loving Jesus was interrupted by someone with what felt like a terribly different agenda. Little did I know, it was an agenda to grow me up and gauge my devotion.
I shook off that distracting voice, and attempted to enter back into the glory realm. I prayed and worshiped, but the presence of God was completely gone—or so I thought.
Again I heard, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
Though I clearly understood I was being asked to give my life for Jesus, my emotions were negative. I was distraught, irritated, lonely and even afraid. My enjoyment was gone. However, what I didn’t realize was this—my feelings were not sufficient to analyze the situation. God’s presence had actually increased exponentially in that room of destiny, not dissipated. The fearful judge had arrived and he meant business.
You see, the contrast in experiences was so stark that I actually wondered if the voice was coming from Satan! My lack of maturity in spiritual discernment and biblical truth resulted in a misdiagnosis! This is the risk of the presence movement!
I ended up rebuking the voice that was speaking to me! I was rebuking God as if he were Satan! The lesson is clear—our analysis of the situation must include sources much more comprehensive than feelings alone.
After all, would Satan ask me to lay my life down for Jesus? My feelings should have been shelved in that critical moment in lieu of applying the Word of God.
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? Matthew 12:22-26
Though I tried to enter back into worship again, it was futile. I heard the voice one more time, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
I didn’t realize it that night, but the reason I couldn’t enter back into worship is two-fold:
- I wanted to worship a God of my own design. I wanted to enjoy God conditionally. I cringed when he decided to reveal another part of his self to me, and since it wasn’t what I expected, I rejected him, at least temporarily as I was wrestling that night. God demanded that I worship him as he is, not as I presumed.
- I was resistant to embrace the costly, troubling part of Christianity—potential martyrdom. I was all in when the glory was on me, but I was quick to hesitate when something negative was required of me—my death.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39
Finally, in a state of lonely desperation, I realized I couldn’t live my life without the fire of Jesus burning within me. I needed him. I wanted him, even if it meant the loss of my physical life.
Understand, I was convinced that I was going to physically die that night. It was very real to me.
I told God, “I can’t live without you. If my death will result in the advance of your Kingdom, I give you permission to take my life tonight.”
The moment I said that, his manifest glory flooded the room about one hundred times greater than I had experienced it before. I had experienced the glory and the severity of God, and I was forever changed.
When the person said, “I just want to feel Jesus,” they didn’t understand what they were asking for. In my experience I felt Jesus in a variety of ways. My problem was that I presumed happy feelings equaled Jesus and difficult feelings equaled Satan. Boy was I wrong. Happy feelings can be Satan and difficult feelings can be Jesus! We can’t discern emotionally, we must discern spiritually. Confirmation must come from the Word.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
Spiritual discernment bypasses feelings and our human senses and draws from the truth of Scripture.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16
The Rhema and Logos of scripture must drive us. We can’t allow ourselves to check in and out based on what we are sensing. Our commitment is unconditional and it can’t waiver based on what we perceive. We always return to the Word.
We must lean on Jesus and his revealed will in the Word of God.
Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Isaiah 40:13-14
The point is that our counsel must come from the Counselor. Our discernment must come through the spiritual truths found in the Bible. As we yield to the Word, the Holy Spirit can awaken revelation to us as it is needed.
We must move beyond the subjective statements about what we feel God is saying or doing and truly understand his revealed truth.
It’s all too common to hear personal opinions about what someone feels God is saying or doing, and how they feel led to respond, while their discernment is simply off or incomplete.
As we mature we become less reliant on nebulous senses and more reliant on both God’s clear voice and what he reveals to us in scripture.
This issue of leaning on feelings can impact us negatively in many ways. It’s easy to feel like God doesn’t love us due to the lack of, well, feeling him, even though the Bible makes it clear that he does love us. It’s so sadly common to hear about people who struggle their whole lives with this issue. Does God even love them? It’s a black and white question with a black and white answer. Yes. Their feelings have led them astray and it affects their entire life!
The answer is to simply believe! That belief doesn’t come from an experience or a feeling. It comes from reading text on paper (the Bible) and believing it. We don’t have to feel it to believe it!
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
I often tell God that I want to worship him with my belief.
Back to the discussion about my season of teaching on the tenets of the faith. They didn’t result in a euphoric sensory overload. It wasn’t a glory teaching. So, some withdrew when the feeling wasn’t happy even though the information was truth. It was important truth. It was time to go to school and to the altar with tears in our eyes, and not a time of dancing.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
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
The risk of the coming presence movement is that people will reject anything that doesn’t feel like glory, even when it is God.
The cry of our heart must be for God’s true presence to be with us always, regardless of the form it takes.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:10-11
His presence will hit us with truth as our hearts are cleansed, as we are consecrated. His presence can be glorious and it can be fierce.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. Psalm 97:5
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, Psalm 114:7
God will be raising up key prophetic and apostolic leaders who will be leading people into the presence of God and into the missions of God. There will be many focuses that don’t feel like God (note my experience of being asked to die above) that God’s leaders will call the people to. Will the people respond? What if they don’t sense the Holy Spirit on it? Feelings and senses are wildly subjective. I personally value counsel that’s directly from scripture much more than I do personal, subjective experiences or supposed discernment. That doesn’t mean I don’t at all value personal discernment, but that revelation almost always ends up on the shelf as I await confirmation.
Keep in mind, I radically affirm prophecy. I promote encounters and experiences. I believe in dreams and visions. I have an intercession team that evaluates prophetic data on an ongoing basis. But, the point remains—we see in part. And, we can often see wrongly. It takes humility to admit that.
Sometimes we are so in tune with our own historic personal encounters with the spirit realm that we can lose sight that we are human! I’ve had a lot of amazing encounters and I have a high level of sensitivity in the spiritual realm. I also know that I’m human and that I’ve been wrong in the past. I much prefer to submit prophetic data for evaluation and for confirmation in scripture. Just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is right. Feelings sit on the lowest shelf of the confirmation process. More revelation and confirmation is necessary to trust our feelings.
Apostolic leaders will call you to action very often in ways that are contrary to what you are sensing. Are you ready to respond regardless? Or will you declare that God isn’t in it and hold back?
Read the following point from my article “Five Reasons NOT to Leave a Church.” The reason I’m including it is to highlight how important it is to promote scripture over feelings:
When NOT to leave a church? When God tells you to. OK, I’m sure you are awake now! Have you ever played the God card? As a leader I’ve heard many times, usually through the grapevine, that, “God told so and so to move to another church.” Really? That’s odd. I was entrusted as their leader, which is a very serious position, and God just forgot to tell me about this? He left me out of the loop? Maybe Hebrews 13:17 isn’t what we think it is? The church I’m leading isn’t important enough for people to honor the mission?
I hope you are getting the point.
We are called to submit to authority—even ungodly authority like judges, elected officials and our bosses at work. Certainly it makes sense that God would include our godly authority in a decision making process as important as leaving one family and one mission for another.
The point is this—God wouldn’t just tell you to leave without your leader being involved in the process. In fact, can I just be blunt? It’s extremely disrespectful, presumptuous, rude and self-serving to abdicate your responsibility in your current church by leaving without honoring the authority in your life. Your pastor has every right to participate with you in your process.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (ESV) 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
Why was it important to include that portion of the article? To show how critical it is that we are biblical Christians. We can’t presume a feeling or a discernment exempts us from biblical protocol. I’ve felt on many occasions that a leader in my life wasn’t hearing God, and that I was, but in humility I had to surrender my opinion and follow my leader—and often I realize that my sense was in fact wrong or incomplete. We can’t gravitate toward what is easy, happy, glorious and enjoyable and away from what is troubling or negative by using the “God card.” God will often call us into his fearful presence, and we have to be unified with others who are being led in that direction.
Do you remember the Exodus? The Israelites were famous for analyzing their various situations based on their feelings. They felt alone and abandoned, so they crafted a new god made of gold. They presumed that the absence of God’s manifest presence meant something was off—yet, little did they realize one of the most astounding events in history was taking place up on the mountain! They then ended up dying in the desert when they presumed God was all about their comfort and happiness—and were indignant when he was asking them to put their lives on the line in a land of Giants—and a land of Promise.
I want to challenge you to get ready for a great outpouring of God’s presence. It will feel very different than you expect. It may be a glory cloud or it may be in the midst of a fiery furnace.
Ask yourself how you react to your feelings now. Do they drive you? Do you presume any negative feeling to be from the enemy? Do your feelings and emotions drive your decisions?
You need to wrestle with this now so you are ready to receive Jesus when he shows up. I am certain—he will manifest in ways we’ve never experienced before.
On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.” Exodus 19:16-22
Are you part of the cross-bearing company of fire-breathing awakeners that God is raising up? Listen to this heavily anointed event and respond!
The past week in Manitou Springs, Colorado resulted in a shaking and weighty awakening for every person on our team. Listen as I share the encounters here: media.johnburton.net/6936545
Trust me, you WANT to listen to this…the last half of the audio includes an other-worldly prophetic session where the calling for revival was revealed AND clips from each of the three services, including our attack against witchcraft and the drunkenness I was rocked with. High entertainment value for sure!
We are gathering an army of carriers of fire who will travel with us to the cities of the Earth. The team that we took to Manitou flowed in such extreme authority and power that everybody was hit dramatically. We dealt with heavy witchcraft and strategic demonic attack at a high level, and watched as God then flooded that place. Humbled.
The three nights revealed a very clear strategy for all of us:
- Night One: Personal breakthrough. We battled and experienced fire and joy and breakthrough on a personal level.
- Night Two: Holy Spirit arrival. I was drunk most of the night as the Holy Spirit poured out. Many want to camp here, but we cannot.
- Night Three: Militant attack. Full of the Holy Spirit, we experience an extreme level of witchcraft in the room, and we went after it with authority and power.
This is a pattern of advance for all of us. I break it down and share sound clips: media.johnburton.net/6936545
CARRIERS OF FIRE
Are you ready to invite our team to your city for an event that will bring deliverance, shock and awe? We are broken and humble people, emboldened by the fire of God and ready to serve you.
Visit www.johnburton.net/booking for more info. I’d love to talk with you directly.
You will have the opportunity to listen to four of our team members in the audio from last night here: media.johnburton.net/6936545
The house of prayer must be launched NOW! NOW! NOW!
Julia Palermo prophesied with trembling urgency regarding the house of prayer in the Detroit region. It must be launched now!
Are you ready to help build a night and day center of strategic, revelation driven prayer? Contact us!
We need to add fresh intercessors, musicians and others. We need to raise at least $44,000 more. You can donate here: www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/donate
YOUR IMPENDING ADVENTURE
I also want to invite you to listen to a message that will provoke you to fulfill your ministry. It’s titled Your Impending Adventure. It’s a NOW word and will help you take very clear steps toward a completed calling. I’ll include the notes below.
Listen here: media.johnburton.net/6936482
AUDIT THELAB CLASS “BECOMING UNOFFENDABLE” THIS THURSDAY
Offense will cause many to fall away and go to Hell. It’s a big deal.
This is my most requested teaching, and you can audit the class THIS THURSDAY at 7pm!
Simply show up at 7pm this Thursday and pay $25 at the door.
Revival Church meets at CENTRAL CHURCH, 1529 E. 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071.
Here’s the notes for Your Impending Adventure
Your Impending Adventure
a. Nobody was called into an average life.
i. Certainly not now! At the end of the age!
1. An undertaking or enterprise of a hazardous nature.
2. a risky undertaking of unknown outcome
3. An undertaking of a questionable nature, especially one involving intervention in another state's affairs.
4. “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered” [G.K. Chesterton All Things Considered]
iii. British Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) placed this advertisement in London newspapers in 1900 in preparation for the National Antarctic Expedition (which subsequently failed to reach the South Pole).“Men Wanted For Hazardous Journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”Shackleton later said that “it seemed as though all the men in Great Britain were determined to accompany me, the response was so overwhelming.”
1. Yes! The adventure is there for you!
b. All you have to do is sign up and pay the fee!
i. It costs your dreams, plans, comfort and safety!
ii. Your adventure will impact many!
a. Step one: Isaiah sees God (These steps come from Ungers Handbook)
i. Isaiah 6:1-4 (ESV) 1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
1. Most people don’t get to this point!
2. Your adventure begins by laying down everything so you can see God!
3. Go after him! Burn! Pray! Devote your every breath to knowing him deeply!
ii. Step two: Isaiah sees himself
1. Isaiah 6:5 (ESV) 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
2. You cannot see God without having a revelation of your own wretched condition!
3. Jeremiah 17:9-10 (ESV) 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 10 “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
4. Hebrews 3:12-13 (ESV) 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
5. 1 John 1:6-7 (ESV) 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
6. The closer the look on our own condition, the greater the revelation of our fruit.
a. Matthew 7:17-20 (ESV) 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
b. We must repent, confess, let God search our hearts continually.
i. It’s in the Lord’s Prayer
ii. Matthew 6:12 (ESV) 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
iii. Believes must live a life of confession and repentance.
iv. Matthew 3:6 (ESV) 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
c. Acts 19:18-20 (ESV) 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
d. Luke 17:3-4 (ESV) 3 Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
e. Let God search your heart continually in the place of fervent prayer.
i. 1 Chronicles 28:9 (ESV) 9 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.
ii. Jeremiah 17:10 (ESV) 10 “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
f. Torrey's Prescription For Revival “I can give a prescription that will bring a revival to any church or community or any city on earth. “First, let a few Christians (they need not be many) get thoroughly right with God themselves. This is the prime essential. If this is not done, the rest that I am to say will come to nothing. “Second, let them bind themselves together in a prayer group to pray for a revival until God opens the heavens and comes down. “Third, let them put themselves at the disposal of God for Him to use as He sees fit in winning others to Christ. That is all! “This is sure to bring a revival to any church or community. I have given this prescription around the world. It has been taken by many churches and many communities, and in no instance has it ever failed; and it cannot fail!”
i. This is huge!
ii. We must get thoroughly right with God! Let God search us! Is there any impure thought? Do we ever lie? Do we ever gossip? Do we ever disobey God?
iii. Torrey said: This is the prime essential. If this is not done, the rest that I am to say will come to nothing.
iv. You may have heard a theology out there that says Jesus forgave our sins past, present and future. That’s incomplete, and it leads people away from confession and repentance and dying daily.
1. Jesus did what he needed to do, but, unrepentant sin, ignored sin, cannot go unresolved! You can sin in the future and have it not be covered!
2. Spend hours in the prayer room and you will discover issue after issue… and it’s glorious!
3. If we cover unrepentant sin with sugar and honey, it’s still diseased on the inside. You can dip rotting meat that’s full of maggots into chocolate, and attempt to hide the corruption… but the realty remains, the inside is spoiled.
4. I shared the following on Facebook: The false belief that we are exempt from penalties of future sins with no confession or repentance is dangerous beyond measure.
5. Someone responded: Who believes that way?
6. I said: Millions of Christians. It's a huge false movement.
7. He said: Guess I'd have to go to a church that preaches a false word to know…praise God for the Baptists.
iii. Step three: Isaiah is cleansed
1. It’s good to let God reveal wickedness in us so we can be cleansed by fire!
2. Isaiah 6:6-7 (ESV) 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
3. 1 John 1:9 (ESV) 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
4. Hebrews 12:1 (ESV) 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
5. Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
a. The reason it’s so good to let God search out the corruption in our hearts, is because we can be freed from it!
iv. Step four: Isaiah is commissioned
1. Prophetic messengers will have the boldness to proclaim the word of the Lord regardless of its tone!
2. Wiersbe Outlines: Now God can call Isaiah and use him to preach His Word. The prophet is no longer wrapped up in his own needs; he wants to do the will of God. He is no longer burdened by sin; he has been cleansed. He is no longer discouraged; he knows that God is on the throne. Now he is ready to go to work.
3. Isaiah 6:8-10 (ESV) 8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
4. This is God’s cry! Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?
a. Matthew 9:35-38 (ESV) 35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
v. Step five: Isaiah is given the outcome of the commission
1. Isaiah 6:11-13 (ESV) 11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is a desolate waste, 12 and the LORD removes people far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. 13 And though a tenth remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, whose stump remains when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump.
a. We see in Mt 13 that Jesus spoke in parables because of this very judgment!
b. Matthew 13:10-14 (ESV) 10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
c. And also in John:
i. John 12:37-41 (ESV) 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.
d. And in Acts:
i. Acts 28:23-26 (ESV) 23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 26 “‘Go to this people, and say, “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
e. This is why we need prophetic messengers with a bold spirit of awakening on them!!!!!
2. Ungers: How long would this spiritual deterioration go on? To the complete blotting out of Israel's testimony to the one true God? No, came the divine answer. Only until the complete devastation of the land and the removal of its inhabitants to Babylon were accomplished. Thence a remnant would return to Palestine. Even this tenth part would be further reduced, yet a holy posterity would survive in whom the ultimate hope of Israel would rest and in whom the covenants and promises would be realized.
b. You have an impending adventure if you simply sign up! Be available!
i. Sometimes God will draw you into adventure to cause you to become addicted to adventure!
ii. Wildman story
1. Fearful situation
c. God is looking for a people who are ready to give up the tired, old dreams of man for an adventure that will change societies!
d. Go after it! Don’t fear the risk! Don’t fear failure!
e. A study made a number of years ago said the more education a man has, the less likely he is to be an inventor. Now the reason for that is quite simple. From the time the boy, or girl, starts in school he is examined three or four times a year and, of course, it is a very disastrous thing if he fails. An inventor fails all the time and it is a triumph if he succeeds once. Consequently, if education is an inhibition to invention, it is due entirely to the form by which we rate things and not because of any intellectual differential. —Charles Kettering
Four Demon Accusations That Stop Spiritual Warriors
Wow! This article by Jonas Clark is right on…and timely! You can see the original article here: http://www.jonasclark.com/spiritual-warfare-prayer/demon-accusations-hindrances-spiritual-warriors.html
Spiritual Warfare and Prayer
Demon powers know how to stop most Christians. You are not like most Christians. You can see what others don’t. How you see Jesus affects your life. Jesus was a spiritual warrior. After the anointing of the Holy Ghost came on Jesus He rebuked demons, faced Satan, healed the sick, and spoiled principalities and powers. He defeated death, hell and the grave. He is your redeemer and he is risen!
spiritual warfare is part of Christianity and the spiritual warfare is not over. Historically, the rise and fall of spiritual power within the Church of Christ has been related to the acknowledgement and opposition toward demonic principalities and powers. As leaders recognized the spiritual warfare caused by demon powers they equipped believers to use their delegated spiritual authority to fight back. When leaders ignored the dark rulers of this world believers and the Church suffered.
You are in a spiritual war whether you want to be or not. Jesus did not ignore demon powers and he didn’t teach his apostles to ignore them either (Matthew 10:1). The Apostle Paul taught the church in Ephesus how to battle saying,
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand (fight back) in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-13)
Warriors wear armor. Armor is for the fighting man. Paul likens spiritual opposition to warfare. He teaches five important truths.
- Christ’s followers should be strong in the Lord.
- Be full of spiritual power.
- Recognize devils have wiles or tactics.
- The battle is a spiritual battle not a natural one.
- Spiritual warriors wear God’s armor.
- The battle ready fight back.
The Apostle Paul knew much about the spiritual opposition against him. “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9). He continually uses warfare terms when teaching and training leaders:
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)
A GOOD SOLDIER
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3)
NO MAN THAT WARRETH
“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:4)
WAR A GOOD WARFARE
“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare.” (1 Timothy 1:18)
WAR NOT AFTER THE FLESH
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:” (2 Corinthians 10:3)
WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. “ (2 Corinthians 10:4)
Paul uses terms such as soldier, fight, weapons and armor. Warfare means “armed conflict against an enemy.” As Christians we understand there are many spiritual enemies of Christ including demons, principalities and powers. Included in that list of spiritual enemies but seldom discussed are the systems, structures, kingdoms, and organizations that demon inspired people build. This is something worth thinking about. Christians should not yoke themselves with systems the demon influenced build like fiat money printing and exotic financial instrument schemes such as junk bonds, abortion clinics and drugs, or thief by political deception. These are the results of demonic influence. Satan’s cohorts come only to steal, kill and destroy. This is one way to identify them.
spiritual warfare is a spiritual fight against a spiritual enemy. Paul identifies those enemies as:
- Rulers of the darkness of this world
- Spiritual wickedness in high places
Again, our battle is not against flesh and blood. Our warfare is a battle in the spirit that manifest in the natural. Win spiritually and things get better and better naturally. Lose spiritually and things get worse and worse naturally. This is where the Word of God and battling prayer become vital to the disciple of Christ. There are many different types of prayer. Not all prayer stops demon powers. Mature in the Word and learn how to pray.
INCREASING IN DISCERNMENT
Are you afraid to discern the presence of demon activities? Some are. Demons influence people and their activities must be discerned. You can’t stop them by ignoring then. Evil spirits, spirits of infirmity, seducing spirits, spirits of error, unclean spirits, anti-Christ spirits, Jezebel spirits and divination spirits have infiltrated the Church. They target the high places of authority and power. Sometimes these spirits work alone and at other times they network together.
Some have been victimized by evil spirits because they are afraid to judge demonic operations. Apostle John taught to try the spirits. He said, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). As already said spirits work through people. To “try the spirits” means to put them to the test. When you do this devils respond. Here are four things spirits use to stop your spiritual discernment:
- Don’t judge least you be judged.
- Let the one without sin throw the first stone.
- The measure you use to judge someone else will be measured back to you.
- Take the beam out of your own eye first.
The list goes on and on. Did you notice the devil will use the bible to stop bible believing people? Yes everyone should examine their own hearts “first” but spiritual discernment requires sound judgment. You must judge. To judge simply means to make a judgment. Making a judgment “is not” being judgmental. A judgmental person is a fault finder. That’s not what we are discussing.Christians should never be fault finders or false accusers. We are writing about spiritual discernment that affects lives. Remember, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, that’s people, but against demonic spirits.
You make judgments every day. You believe what you hear or you don’t. No you are not judging any ones salvation, that’s between them and God, but you are judging what spirit they are flowing in and the fruit of their lives and ministries. Good trees bear good fruit. Bad trees bear bad fruit. This is where shared values and world views come.
Listening to and being around people lets you know what they value. You make judgments during conversation and by watching people’s actions. What do they embrace? Value? Pursue? Talk about? Value based judgment happens every day. Scripture says, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Shared values draw people together. Those core values govern your life. Values determine your relationships with others. Shared values empower folks to walk together. People fellowship with each other based on shared values.
- What you value you will pursue.
- What you value you will protect.
- What you value you will enjoy.
- What you value you will fight for.
- What you value you will keep.
- Decisions are based on what you value.
Churches are built on shared values, political groups are built on shared values, organizations are built on shared values and relationships are built on shared values. Values differ. You spend time with people that value what you do. That’s human nature. Scripture says we are not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple” of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)
How would you know if you are unequally yoked if you don’t’ make a judgment? In this scripture the Apostle Paul was not being judgmental against unbelievers. He was pointing this out for your protection. It is guidance for the sons and daughters of God. Christ authorized you to make judgments about people. Yes he did. Christ said, “You shall know them.” In other words, you shall accurately know them.
“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-18)
WEAPONS OF MASS DEFLECTION
It is unscriptural for someone to tell you not to judge because the spiritual man judges all things. Scripture makes this clear, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things yet he himself is judged of no man” (1 Corinthians 2:15). Did you get that? The spiritual man judges all things. Are you a spiritual man? To judge, Greek anakrinō,means:
- To investigate, examine, enquire into, scrutinize, sift and question.
- As a judge would hold an investigation.
- To interrogate and examine the accused or witnesses.
- To judge, estimate, determine (the excellence or defects of any person or thing.
Christ never taught his followers to ignore demonic spirits. Don’t let demon spirits use their weapons of mass deflection to stop your spiritual discernment. As already stressed, you are not to unfairly judge people, be judgmental, mean spirited and hurtful, condemn people or judge their salvation. This article is about demons stopping a Christian’s spiritual discernment. You must make judgments as you seek to weigh what you hear and what you see against the written Word of God. It takes spiritual maturity to see things as they really are. Demon powers know how to stop most Christians. You are not like most Christians.
The Jesus Manifesto
This article can be seen at its original place here: http://www.voiceofrevolution.com/the-jesus-manifesto/
The dawning of the 21st century finds the church of America in a moral and spiritual crisis. Decades of self-centered living and worldliness have taken their toll. Years of compromise and toothless gospel preaching have had their effect. And now we have reached the moment of truth: Either we wake up, stand up, speak up, and act up, or we run the risk of becoming a mere historic curiosity, an irrelevant religious sideshow, an entertaining, harmless spectacle. Something must change, and it must change now. There is no other choice.
Forty years ago, a counterculture revolution swept through America, resulting in a sudden, steep moral decline. Since that time (from the early ’60s until today), the divorce rate has doubled, the teen suicide rate has tripled, reported violent crime has quadrupled, the prison population has quintupled, the percentage of babies born out of wedlock has risen six-fold, and couples living together out of wedlock has risen sevenfold. And the end is not in sight.
The last generation’s counterculture of rebellion has become this generation’s establishment of revulsion, and what was unthinkable forty years ago – daytime talk shows celebrating adultery and incest; homosexual love scenes on major network TV; eleven year-old multiple murderers; massacres in our schools and houses of worship – is a matter of course today. We need a revolution!
But this revolution will be different than other revolutions – including the revolution that birthed our nation more than 200 years ago. This revolution will not be fought with earthly weapons of destruction – not with guns and knives and bullets and bombs. It will not be fought with hatred, anger, intimidation, or brute force. No. It will be fought with the message of the gospel, with the love of God, with the power of the Spirit, with radical holiness, with sacrifice, compassion, and courage. It will be a Jesus revolution, an intense clash between two spiritual kingdoms, a heavenly attack on the enemy’s strongholds, a no compromise stand for morality and truth. And it will impact society in a lasting way. It must!
Revolution means upheaval. Revolution means the overthrowing of the status quo. We dare not downplay the significance of the word. Revolution is a matter of life and death, and our revolution flows from the blood of the Savior to the blood of the martyr. We put down our sword and take up our cross, overcoming Satan by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimony, and by not loving our lives so much as to shrink from death (Rev. 12:11). Nothing can stop a revolution like this!
Our revolution is fueled by the power of the gospel, and the gospel does violence to the forces of hell. We must recover the fullness of the gospel of Jesus! It is nothing less than a direct assault on the kingdom of Satan, a frontal attack on hostile, spiritual powers, a mortal confrontation of light against darkness. It brings about the ultimate counterculture conflict.
That’s why Jesus said to His disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed My teaching, they will obey yours also” (John 15:18-20).
That’s why Paul explained that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12), reminding the disciples that, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). God’s people march to the beat of a different drummer. God’s obedient people will always offend the world, no matter how much we seek to be peacemakers and to walk in compassion and love. Our very lifestyles are a reproof to the ungodly.
That’s why Joseph Parker could say more than a century ago, “The man whose little sermon is ‘repent’ sets himself against his age, and will for the time being be battered mercilessly by the age whose moral tone he challenges. There is but one end for such a man — ‘off with his head!’ You had better not try to preach repentance until you have pledged your head to heaven.” The gospel means conflict and confrontation, and all who stand for righteousness will be resisted.
That’s why Jesus was accused by his own people of being “a Samaritan and demon-possessed” (John 8:48), why Paul and Silas were accused of “throwing cities into an uproar” (Acts 16:20) and “causing trouble all over the world” (Acts 17:6), why Paul himself was mistaken for being an “Egyptian who started a revolt and led four thousand terrorists out into the desert” (Acts 21:38). The gospel is subversive. The gospel is a threat to the kingdom of darkness. The gospel is revolutionary.
We’re in a war, and war means conflict, hardship, and sacrifice. As Leonard Ravenhill wrote, “When a nation calls its prime men to battle, homes are broken, weeping sweethearts say their good-byes, businesses are closed, college careers are wrecked, factories are refitted for wartime production, rationing and discomforts are accepted — all for war. Can we do less for the greatest fight that this world has ever known outside of the cross — this end-time siege on sanity, morality, and spirituality?”
Satan’s strategy is to institutionalize the Church, to turn the Body of Christ into a powerless religious system. If that tactic fails, he tries to desensitize us and lull us to sleep until we lose our convictions and our sense of outrage is gone. And he is always seeking to seduce us into sin until we become just like the world, enslaved by its passions and lusts. And when he thinks he has succeeded, when he no longer feels threatened by the people of God, then he gets aggressive and brazenly puts forth his agenda. He’s doing it today. We need a revolution!
The cat is out of the bag. The secret is no longer a secret. Anti-God forces are after the soul of our nation, and if we don’t wake up now, if we don’t take a stand now, if we don’t repent and pray and rise and speak and act now, then instead of this great country being “the land of the free and the home of the brave” our nation could become “the land of sleaze and the home of depraved.” We need a revolution!
DNA tests to find out who fathered the baby are here. (In fifteen of our nation’s largest cities, more than 90% of the babies born to teens are illegitimate.) Legalized same-sex “civil unions” are here. Children’s textbooks encouraging adolescent fornication are here. School hallways splattered with teenage blood are here. Bans on using the name of Jesus at our graduations are here. Topless, feminist “worship services” on our college campuses are here. We need a revolution!
We live in a time of ethical madness and social uncertainty, a time when talk of a moral revolution should be everywhere. Instead, the best-selling “revolutionary” books are books about new diets. What does this say for us as a people? When we need to be talking about the call to die for the gospel, we are talking instead about the call to diet for good looks. What a sad indictment! And what does it say of our self-deception and lack of discipline when we are at one and the same time the world’s best-read nation on diet and nutrition and the world’s most obese? Even our pets are overweight. We need a revolution!
The United States boasts the highest percentage of professing evangelicals in the industrialized world, with more than 36% of Americans – meaning more than 90 million people – classified as born-again. Yet America has:
• The highest percentage of single-parent families in the industrialized world
• The highest abortion rate in the industrialized world
• The highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases in the industrialized world (the rates of syphilis and gonorrhea transmission are almost 500% higher than the highest rates in the other industrialized nations)
• The highest teenage birth rate in the industrialized world (by far!)
• The highest rate of teenage drug use in the industrialized world
We need a revolution!
Our society is deteriorating all around us and even non-believers sense that something is wrong. Why? It is because we, the people of God, the army of the Lord Jesus, the messengers of liberation, the ambassadors of reconciliation, have been sidetracked by the love of this world and distracted by the cares of this age. As a result, we have not changed this generation. This generation has changed us!
Rather than seasoning the world like salt and brightening the world like light, we now smell and taste like the world, and its darkness is snuffing out our lamps. Rather than setting captives free by the power of Jesus’ blood, many of us are being ensnared and enslaved, making a mockery of that sacred blood. Rather than making disciples of sinners and teaching them the ways of God, many of us are being discipled by them, learning their ways, imitating their lifestyles, and conforming to their values.
A 1997 survey conducted by George Barna used 152 different items to compare the church and the world. He found virtually no difference between the two. In fact, the divorce rate today among evangelicals is higher than the divorce rate among atheists. We need a revolution!
Communist educators visiting America have been shocked by the materialism and worldliness of many of our Christian young people, while Islamic leaders are appalled by the rampant sexual sin and shameless immodesty among many who profess Christ as Lord. The ideals of the unsaved are often more lofty than the ideals of the saved. We need a revolution!
Just consider how far things have fallen, despite decades of 24-hour gospel radio and TV, hundreds of Bible colleges and seminaries, thousands of Christian schools and bookstores, and churches and ministries too numerous to count. Forty years ago, men having sex with men and women having sex with women was considered perverse. Now it is considered perverse – homophobic, hateful, mean-spirited, and bigoted – to call such behavior wrong. We need a revolution!
Forty years ago, not even science fiction writers would have predicted that American companies would be making money off the sale of the skin and brains and limbs and spinal chords of aborted babies. Today, Congress will not even pass legislation to make this thriving practice illegal. We need a revolution!
Jesus rebuked the leaders of his day who said of themselves, “If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets” (Matt 23:30) – and then they took part in shedding the blood of the greatest Prophet of them all. How hypocritical! Yet we do this very thing, saying, “If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in the detestable sin of slavery. We would never have tolerated such evil. We would surely have done something about it.”
Yet on our watch, in our day, we have tolerated an even more heinous sin: the slaughter of forty million babies in their mothers’ wombs. In what way have we been better than our forefathers who tolerated slavery – or better than the European “Christians” who tolerated the Nazi extermination of six million Jews? How much have we really done to stop this generation’s holocaust?
Bloodshed pollutes the land (Num 35:33), and the blood of these helpless victims – oceans of blood of these aborted little ones – has been crying out for justice for decades. What will our God do? We need a revolution!
In 1960, only 2.3% of percent of white women had children out of wedlock. By 1997, more than 25% — a ten-fold increase! – were having children out of wedlock (despite millions being aborted before they ever left the womb). In the African American community, that number rose from 23% percent to more than 68%. We need a revolution!
In 1962, the Supreme Court outlawed organized, public prayer in our schools (without citing a single historic precedent to back its decision), and we complied with that ruling. In the year 2000, the Court has banned voluntary public prayer in our schools. Why have we complied with this ruling too? At what point do we say, “We must obey God rather than man”? At what point do we say, “Enough is enough”? We need a revolution!
On April 12, 2000, at Pearl River Central High School in Carrierre, Mississippi, the Spirit of God fell upon the students attending a voluntary, pre-class assembly led by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. As students lined up fifty deep to confess their sins and get right with God and one another, the principal, Lolita Lee, herself a Christian, decided to let the meeting go on through the day. Civil libertarians were outraged, but, as Time magazine reported (June 5, 2000, p. 61), “The school received hundreds of congratulatory e-mails. ‘Thank you for your courage,’ wrote an Ohio man to Lee. ‘You have done the equivalent of not moving to the back of the bus.’” Isn’t it time we follow suit? If not now, when? What more needs to happen?
For more than two hundred years, the Bible was commonly used as a textbook in our schools, and generations of children learned the ABC’s with a Scripture truth for each letter. But in 1963, the Supreme Court banned required reading of the Scriptures from our schools, and once again, we complied with the ruling. Why? By 1980, the Court had ordered the removal of the Ten Commandments from public view in our schools and by 1985, it outlawed benedictions or invocations in formal school activities. Some lower courts even ruled against students praying out loud over their cafeteria meals. We need a revolution!
When the governing authorities seized the apostles and charged them not to speak in Jesus’ name, Peter replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). And they kept speaking! As a result, they were arrested, whipped, and strictly ordered not to speak any more in Jesus’ name. But, Scripture records, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 5:41-42). Can we learn something from this?
Christians around the world today are severely persecuted because they refuse to obey oppressive, unjust laws. Many of them are model citizens in every way, obedient, respectful and peace loving. But when the government – or religious establishment – forbids them to read their Bibles, forbids them to baptize, forbids them to share their faith, forbids them to gather together, forbids them to make disciples, then they say with the apostles, “We must obey God rather than man.” At what point does this apply to us?
Our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world have been discriminated against, deprived of their livelihoods, imprisoned, tortured, and killed, all because they refused to render to Caesar that which does not belong to Caesar. Yet we are afraid to take a stand for Jesus if it would threaten our income, or cost us a scholarship, or make us unpopular. Why this double standard? Why do they refuse to comply – even when threatened with imprisonment and death – while we willfully comply, even when there is no threat? We need a revolution!
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were commanded to worship an idol or be subject to a fiery death, they refused to bow down (Daniel 3). But today, with no one commanding us, we freely worship the idols of our society, bowing down to the gods of unclean entertainment, sensual fashion, and unbridled materialism and greed. Our obsession with sports is idolatrous as well, to the point that many churches throughout the land make sure their Sunday services end in time for the afternoon football games, canceling their meetings entirely the night of the Super Bowl. We need a revolution!
When Daniel was told that an edict had been passed declaring that “anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to [the] king, shall be thrown into the lions’ den . . . he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before” (Daniel 6:10-12). It’s time that we follow his lead. Godly defiance spells triumph while retreat spells defeat. We need a revolution!
Year by year our religious freedoms have been taken away, while special rights and freedoms have been given to those whom the Bible calls “unrighteous” (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; in the Scriptures, homosexual activity is classified along with adultery, fornication, theft, drunkenness, hatred, anger, greed, and hypocrisy, and all who practice such things are called “unrighteous”). Thus the Supreme Court ruled that a school full of Christians cannot choose to have prayer before a school sporting event since it would offend and exclude the minority who don’t want to pray. But when homosexuals introduce children’s textbooks into our schools outlining in graphic detail the intricacies of gay sex, the offended majority is told to accept it. Right is now wrong and wrong is now right, and the will of the godless is imposed on the will of the godly. We need a revolution!
When a gay man is beaten to death because he is gay – this is a reprehensible, despicable act that every decent person should abhor – it causes a national uproar, with loud voices in the government calling for new legislation against hate crimes. And we should speak out against such deplorable crimes. But when Christians students are shot to death as they profess their faith in God, the government raises its voice to forbid the placing of memorial crosses on school property. The handwriting is on the wall. The strategy is clear. We need a revolution!
Teachers in our public schools can give condom demonstrations to our teens and use books like “Heather Had Two Mommies” to teach our kids to read, and we are required to support this with our own tax dollars. But let a teacher read from the Scriptures to a seeking, needy student, and that teacher could be out of a job – all because of the First Amendment’s so-called separation of Church and State.
But that is not what the First Amendment intended. It simply stated that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” meaning, first, that the government could not form a national denomination (like the Church of England of old) and require all Americans to be part of it, and second, that there would be religious freedom for all. As emphasized by Stephen Carter, professor of law at Yale University, “The wall of separation of church and state is not there to protect the state from the church; it is there to protect the church from the state. It stands as a divide to preserve religious freedom. And one needs to protect the church from the state because the latter will utilize its enormous powers to do what the state has always done – either subvert the religion or destroy it. If we continue our slide toward a state that breaches the wall of separation whenever it is convenient, then I worry about the great risk to religious freedom. In the end, such a breach could destroy our ability to form the communities of resistance that are crucial if we are going to have a chance to transform the nation.”
Our forefathers wanted to ensure that the government would not be able to impose its will on the church. For more than one generation now, this has been totally reversed and stood on its head, and the price has been very high, with skyrocketing crime rates and plummeting rates of morality and literacy. And what has become of the First Amendment’s guarantee of “the free exercise” of religion when the courts tell us that we cannot use religious symbols on public property, cannot post the Ten Commandments in government buildings, and cannot use the name of Jesus in public school events? We have lost our religious freedom. We need a revolution!
In 1999, a bill was brought before Congress that would have required businesses – which by implication could have included churches and religious institutions – to hire gays and lesbians if they were qualified for the job in question, despite their sexual preference. And the bill failed by only one vote! Even more distressing is that if the bill did pass, there was another bill ready to follow, calling for a ban on even speaking against a person’s sexual orientation. (A similar bill has now been passed in Canada.) Such speech would be deemed hate speech, punishable by law, and potentially meaning that a pastor simply expounding the Scriptures to his flock could be arrested. Yet this is the very thing from which our Founding Fathers were trying to protect us. So much for the First Amendment and religious freedom! The fact that such laws could even be crafted for Congress proves that we have long since passed the breaking point – yet some Christian leaders would have felt obligated to obey these laws if they had passed. We need a revolution!
We have gone from debating a woman’s “right to choose” to sucking out the brains of third trimester babies (with the backing of the courts!), from arguing about the medical definition of death to legalizing physician-assisted suicide, from needing metal detectors at airports to needing metal detectors at schools (and soon at houses of worship?), from tracking down absentee fathers to trying to figure out who the father is, from the outlawing of mandatory school prayer to the outlawing of voluntary school prayer. We need a revolution!
Without a holy, counterculture revolution, America could become a society where candid religious expression is outlawed, a society where it is almost impossible to keep our children free from the pollution of the world, a society teetering perilously close to the thunderous judgments of God. Such things have happened to other nations, and such things could happen to us.
But all is not lost! The gospel has changed societies before, and the gospel can change societies again. For countless centuries, India engaged in the practice of widow-burning, where the widow of a deceased man was sometimes burned alive with her husband’s corpse. This horrific practice was outlawed through the tireless efforts of missionary William Carey. Both slave-trading and unjust child-labor laws were abolished in Britain through the fearless work of the Christian political leader William Wilberforce. And this followed on the heels of England’s transformation through the sacrificial labors of John Wesley and his Methodist followers, saving the nation from the anarchy and violence of the French Revolution. Around the world today, whole communities are being impacted by united prayer and evangelism, and here in our land, there is a rising momentum of concerted, twenty-four hour worship and intercession not seen for decades.
There are pockets of spiritual renewal throughout the country, and the tides of a radical youth revival are rapidly rising. Another Jesus people movement could be near, a heaven-sent revolution far greater than the worldwide Jesus movement of 1967-1975, when hundreds of thousands of hippies and radicals were swept into the kingdom. Even now, it is at the door. And not only will multitudes of lost sinners be truly saved, but multitudes of casual church goers will also be truly saved. Just think of what would happen if even one-quarter of America’s professing believers got totally and uncompromisingly right with God – and then each of them touched just five or six other people. It would quickly reverse our nation’s moral decline. Despite our perilous condition, it’s still not too late!
If our nation could be changed for the worse in one decade – this is what happened in the 1960s, despite progress in Civil Rights and some other social areas – it can be changed for the better in one decade. If angry student protests on college campuses could help stop an international war (Vietnam), what could holy student “protests” on our campuses accomplish?
America can be impacted for the good, and as followers of Jesus, we are called to make that impact. We do it by walking in the light, as He is in the light; by calling the lost to turn back to God in repentance; by preaching the gospel and making disciples; by proclaiming liberty to the captives; by pursuing righteousness in every area of public and private life; by acts of kindness, mercy, and compassion, overcoming evil with good; by prayer, fasting, and the power of God; by living holy lives and setting holy examples; by being a prophetic voice and a moral conscience to society; by Spirit-led community involvement and godly political action; by non-violent resistance of injustice and oppression.
What else should Christians do? Should not the presence of tens of millions of believers be felt in a nation? Should we not make a difference for God? Should we not be a force for spiritual and moral reformation? Should we not actively extend the kingdom of God? Should not the Great Commission leave tangible results in its wake?
This is our sacred moment, our solemn time for action. If we will unshackle ourselves from the love of this world – from our lusts, our addictions, our obsessions – and give ourselves wholly to the purposes of God, we can shake this nation. If we learn the principle that to save our lives is to lose our lives, while to lose our lives for the Lord is to save our lives, then we can really live. As Martin Luther King declared in 1965, “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right; a man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice; a man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.” It’s time we take our stand!
The counterculture revolution of the 1960s began when people said, “Something is missing. Something is wrong. There must be something greater than this.” And they were right! There must be something greater than eating and drinking, working and sleeping, existing. There must be something greater than the American dream. There must be something greater than simply getting a good education so that you can find a good job and have a good family so that your kids can get a good education and find a good job and have a good family so that their kids can a get a good education . . . . Is this really it? Is this why God put us here on this earth? There is more!
Our goal is revival, not survival, the transformation of the human race, not the preservation of the human race. There is a divine purpose and destiny to our time here on earth. Even atheistic revolutionaries understand that there must be a higher purpose to life, and they give themselves for their cause, freely dying for their revolution so that their families can live in what they hope will be a better world. And they do this without the promise of heaven or eternal life. How much more should we give ourselves to the cause of our Master? How much more readily should we hear the call?
Nate Saint and Jim Elliot, martyred as missionaries in 1956, understood this well. They recognized that life was far more meaningful, far more rich, far more significant than most of us ever realize, even if we live to be 100 years old. As Nate Saint wrote, “People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget they too are expending their lives and when the bubble has burst they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.”
Yes, everyone’s bubble will burst one day. The dust will return to dust and the spirit will return to God who gave it (see Ecc. 12:7). On that day, only one thing will matter: Did we fulfill the purpose of God? Did we make a lasting impact for Jesus? Did we leave behind a blessed legacy for the generation to come? All the silly little things that seemed so important to us during our few years here on earth will seem utterly insignificant when they are viewed in the light of eternity.
How wise it was for Jim Elliot to write these now-famous words: “That man is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” And how wise it was for him to lift up this petition before the Lord as a young man in college: “God, I pray, Thee, light these idle sticks of my life and may I burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like you, Lord Jesus.” Oh, that all of us would lead truly full lives!
Columbine martyr Rachel Scott was not wrong when she wrote in her journal, “I have no more personal friends at school. But you know what? I am not going to apologize for speaking the name of Jesus. I am not going to justify my faith to them, and I am not going to hide the light that God has put into me. If I have to sacrifice everything, I will. I will take it. If my friends have to become my enemies for me to be with my best friend Jesus, then that’s fine with me.” Jesus is worth it to the end!
Fellow-soldiers, holy servants of the risen Lord, blood-bought disciples of the Master, heed the call. It’s now or never, time to put up or shut up. Either we take a stand once and for all or forever we hang our heads in shame. History is eagerly anticipating our next move. This is the hour we have been waiting for. So, on with it – by life or by death. The revolution won’t wait.
Tomorrow morning at 10am the revolution in Detroit continues at Revival Church North!
We’ll be going hard after God, encountering him in prayer and worship and catching the vision of widespread fire in the region!
FOOD AND FUN!
After the service ends, we’ll hang out and fire up the grill and eat, talk and get to know each other!
I would love to have a room full of people I’ve never met before! Come out and bring everyone you can find to this brand new church plant!
If you’d like to let us know you are coming, that would be great! We’ll be ready for you! Contact us here: http://revivalnorth.com/contact-us/
For a map and directions, click HERE.
We are gathering a team of hungry people who are ready to experience God in this region in unprecedented fashion.
As one of what will ultimately be 50 Revival Church locations in the Detroit region, we are devoted to starting fires and inviting people to watch us burn!
These fires will spread—and fast. The harvest is ripe and God is gathering those who are ready to help infuse them with the abundant life of Jesus!
What should you expect? Freedom and fire!
Revival Church has a passionate and fun atmosphere, exciting and challenging teaching, God’s amazing presence and a environment to nurture life-long friendships!
If you are looking for a point of reference, we affirm and appreciate a variety of ministry streams including the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Bethel Church in Redding, California, Barbara Yoder, Steve Gray and World Revival Church, John Kilpatrick and The Bay of the Holy Spirit, Catch The Fire in Toronto, Lou Engle and many others who embrace the power and presence of God and his advancing Kingdom.
So, plan your visit by contacting us here, dress any way you want (most of us dress in jeans), bring the family, grab some free coffee and enjoy Jesus!
The Culture is our set of core values at Revival Church. It sets the pace and clearly communicates the culture we are called to establish and steward.
- Our mission is your freedom – The mission of freedom from sin, sickness and poverty drives everything we do at Revival Church. We reject a casual approach to God and affirm abundant life, passion and fire for all.
- Honor is in our DNA – Honor is something we are. No matter the issue, you can’t stop us from honoring you! We believe that honor is a condition of the heart and not dependent on someone’s actions toward us.
- We rally around the vision – Revival Church is built on the vision God gave John. As a company of burning ones, we are passionate defenders and champions of it. Every person is responsible to catch fire and burn hot every day. The resulting corporate torch will inflame our region with revival.
- We are a threat to the status quo – This is a ministry of extreme reformation. As we storm against the prevailing flow of the church and society, we fully believe many will be provoked to turn and follow our lead into freedom.
- There is one church in the city and we aren’t it – Revival Church is one department of many in the landscape of the city church. Our focus is regional impact and the increase of the harvest that will be felt far and wide.
- We affirm ridiculous faith – We simply believe that God is extreme and his plans are bigger than what we can imagine. If it doesn’t look ridiculously insane, it’s less than what God has in mind.
- We are all about the numbers – We are unapologetically intense in our mission to gather and equip people of destiny.
- Corporate mission prevails – We are focused on preparing for the influx of zealous people the harvest will bring to Revival Church. We launch and support only those endeavors that fit into the corporate mission.
- We refuse to live below the Biblical norm – Healings, signs, wonders, miracles, extreme love and bold prophetic teaching were and are the standard.
- Poverty has no chance – Extravagant giving in every sphere of life, whether it’s in the church or a big tip at the coffee shop, will displace a spirit of poverty, transform individuals and reform the economy of our region.
- Sickness and disease have no right to torment believers – The Lord Jesus Christ has been given power and authority over all sickness and disease. He has delegated that authority to us.
- We err on the side of freedom – Revival is messy and is to be stewarded, not controlled. We embrace an atmosphere of bold prophetic declaration and Holy Spirit initiated freedom.
We look forward to getting to know you!
The Revival Church Team
TOMORROW, Sunday, May 6th 2012 I will start a new teaching series, TENANTS: A TEACHING ON THE POWER OF BELIEFS
The teaching will include:
- Nephilim Doctrine: a doctrine of mixture. Part image of God, part image of demons.
- Sin: It kills regardless of whether you’ve decided to follow Jesus or not
- Salvation: Once saved always saved?
- The End Times: What is the position of Revival Church?
- The Cross: If there is no cross preached in the church, sound a very loud alarm and wave an urgent flag.
- Heaven and Hell: They are both preparing for your arrival.
- Plus: Divine Healing, The Holy Spirit, True and False Grace, prayer, revival and more!
Come EARLY for prayer at 5pm and the service begins at 6pm!