Preaching to the saints? You need to understand that many of them are not safe—if they are saved at all.
“Who then can be saved?” Matthew 19:25 (ESV)
The call of church leadership is not to confirm someone's salvation, but rather to challenge it. We need the fear and trembling to reverberate through our spirits night and day that only wrestling with our salvation can produce.
Jonathan Edwards brought his bold, fearful message to the church, to the saints:
The wrath of God burns against them; their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared; the fire is made ready; the furnace is now hot; ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet and held over them, and the pit hath opened her mouth under them.
The devil stands ready to fall upon them, and seize them as his own, at what moment God shall permit him. They belong to him; he has their souls in his possession, and under his dominion. ~Jonathan Edwards
I understand that many who read this will wholeheartedly disagree with my conclusions. They are either adherents of eternal security doctrine or some form of unstable, unbiblical or fully false-grace ideologies. Instead of tossing this article aside or attacking the viewpoint, I challenge you to humbly, soberly take it in and ask God to impact you, to shake you regarding this very serious topic.
As you might have guessed I believe that it's not only possible to surrender one's position in Christ, but I'm convinced it's common. Entire churches, many of them “Spirit-filled,” are fully lost while others are filled with people who have never had their relationship with Jesus challenged, and are as lost as the wicked of the world—yet they don't know it.
It's from this position that I am shining the light on possibly the greatest epidemic regarding the issue of salvation in the construct of the church today. Pastors commonly presume those who are faithful attenders, givers and friends in their churches to be saved. It's a given. It's obvious. It's settled. If they are raising their hands, dancing at the alters, serving in ministry, leading small groups or involving themselves in other activities, then, of course, they are true followers of Jesus, right? Not always. In fact, the salvation journey is one of endurance, and it's extremely easy to pull back, to slip up, to become casual or to lose faith.
12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:12-13 (ESV)
Many in the church are simply not saved. They are following Jesus in an unsaved condition, all while the pastor is sharing messages on how to be successful in Christ, how to prosper, how much Jesus loves them and the benefits of the Kingdom—a kingdom they are not a part of.
Where are the gut-wrenching holiness messages? What happened to assaulting sin and compromise from the pulpit? Where is the weighty presence of the Holy Spirit that results in tearful repentance and an eager rejection of wickedness?
Pastors, do you realize that a large portion of your church is very possibly involved in pornography on a regular basis? Lust drives them. Many others are absolutely okay with filling their lives with movies, television and other media that is filled with filth. F-bombs, nudity and absolute evil is consumed day after day without the slightest conviction of the Holy Spirit. This puts their salvation at risk. To presume they are safe and destined for Heaven is to be blinded and duped. It's utter foolishness.
You've made it easy for them to fit right in on Sunday mornings, after a night of debauchery, to sing songs of worship and to blend right into the fellowship. You've convinced them that all is well and Heaven is their home, when the reality is that, absent legitimate repentance, they will be tormented in Hell forever.
I'm talking about elders and worship leaders, Sunday School teachers, youth pastors, ushers, children's ministry workers and faithful attenders. Many of these people are entertaining themselves with evil, fully devoid of discernment and convinced that God is unconcerned about their lifestyles.
ONE: Preach Hellfire and Holiness
“The Christian world is in a dead sleep. Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it.” ~George Whitefield
It's nonsensical to teach the joys and blessings of the Kingdom to people who are foreigners, who are not truly adopted sons and daughters of the King. We have “Rich Young Rulers” filling our pews, except instead of alerting them to their unsaved condition, they are confirmed as legitimate followers of Jesus.
Those who are perverse, sleeping, unconcerned and driven by their flesh must have a shock come to their system! The fire from Heaven must consume them, but it's rare for a pastor to release that fire from the pulpit today. It's too risky. It's too costly.
Their eternal blood will be on the pastor's hands due to the failure to bring their rebellion and apathy to light. We need bold, confrontational messages today that strike us, break us and sear our flesh.
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? Romans 10:14 (NKJV)
After a sermon in Lyme, Connecticut, “many had their countenances changed; their thoughts seemed to trouble them, so that the joints of their loins were loosed, and their knees smote one against another. Great numbers cried out aloud in the anguish of their souls. Several stout men fell as though a cannon had been discharged, and a ball had made its way through their hearts.” (http://www1.cbn.com/spirituallife/a-great-awakening-stirs-the-colonies)
TWO: Cultivate an Atmosphere of Holy Spirit Fire
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 (ESV)
Every meeting should be driven by the raging fire of the Holy Spirit. Cultivating a culture where bold, deep groans of intercession and praying in tongues is normal will have a clear result: those who are uncomfortable with an encounter with a very Holy Spirit will either repent or run.
I have often counseled pastors to bring this type of focus to their staff and leadership. Gather them to pray in tongues together for an hour a day and watch what happens. Staff members who are not on board with the vision, who are manipulative, who are functioning in Christian witchcraft and those who are gossips or resisters will be identified very quickly. When the Holy Spirit is present in such a deliberate and powerful way, impurities will be exposed. I also propose this type of environment be nurtured for the entire church body.
I heard in a message at church this morning that in the Assemblies of God, a historic movement that was shaped by revival and Pentecost, only 22% of people in their churches today have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues. How can this be?
Without this baptism of fire, oh my, the hope of living holy, obedient and fiery lives for Jesus is greatly and negatively impacted.
They are unable to build themselves up in the faith:
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, Jude 1:20 (NKJV)
They are unable to pray the mysteries of God:
2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 1 Corinthians 14:2 (ESV)
They are unable to overcome their limited understanding when praying:
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26 (ESV)
Those who don't live, walk and pray in the Spirit are disadvantaged significantly. This is why it's crucial for all Believers to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and to pray and groan in tongues daily! Doing so develops intimacy with Jesus. The prophetic in our lives intensifies. So do dreams and visions. Many will receive other gifts such as words of wisdom, words of knowledge, discerning of spirits, faith and more. And, most definitely, when the Holy Spirit is moving, the unholy won't be able to remain.
THREE: Revise How You Lead and What You Teach
The issue of salvation should be front and center week after week in the church. I'm not talking about simply giving the lost an opportunity to get saved. I'm referring to the sobering responsibility to lead the saints toward a successful transition into eternity.
Never presume someone is saved. Never confirm to them that they are. In fact, I never presume myself to be safe. It infuriates some that I would ever suggest that I or they may not retain our salvation. The great falling away will be very great. Enduring to the end is an intense and challenging call. Working out our salvation is a fearful thing.
Teach on holiness. Call people into obedience to the Word. Refute unbiblical grace theologies. Target the spirit of the age that has infiltrated so many in our churches. Expose the darkness of the media and entertainment that is being devoured by professing Christians without any concern whatsoever.
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV)
29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:29-31 (ESV)
FOUR: Embrace Biblical Church Discipline
When is the last time you heard about someone being barred from the church for violations of Scripture that demand such action?
Failure to be faithful to the scriptural mandate to enact church discipline has resulted in compromised churches and a generation of people who are absolutely convinced they are saved, all while they are moving closer and closer to the fires of Hell.
Today unmarried men and women are living together, and they head to church together, hand in hand, each week, greeted by hugs and smiles. People who are consuming porn on Saturday are leading ministries on Sunday.
God is clear. We must purge those from among us who are sexually immoral, greedy or idolaters. We can't even eat with them.
In fact, turning them over to Satan is God's prescription in certain situations.
4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 1 Corinthians 5:4-6 (ESV)
We have entire churches that have been compromised because they are refusing to follow biblical church discipline protocols. This is extremely serious.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (ESV)
In fact, it's not only sexual immorality or drunkenness or greed that we need to deal with. Check this out:
6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 2 Thessalonians 3:6 (ESV)
Those who are idle, lazy, not being productive as God has called them to be should be avoided as well. Why did I include this last verse? Well, first because it's in the Word. Second because I wanted to highlight just how serious God is about obedience and how we should respond to those who are in rebellion. Again, it's very serious.
Of course, when they are ready to repent, we run to them with open arms and welcome them back home!
19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20 (ESV)
So much focus is put on evangelism and people getting saved, while so little is put on staying saved. Failure in consecration and sanctification absolutely can impact justification.
Pastors, it's time to bring this issue front and center, and leave it there. Many under your care are in trouble. They are dying or dead spiritually and you haven't even noticed. That may be because your church culture is dead and they simply don't stand out. Or, it may be that your theology is off and that you believe salvation is easy and permanent. False-grace may have infected your ministry. You may have failed in the call to preach on the holiness of God. Hell and eternity may not be focuses as they should be.
I implore you to allow God to wreck you. Ask him to put the people in the church on your heart and intercede for them. Confront them. Challenge them. Awaken them. Eternity draws near.
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:1-6 (ESV)
Where are the soul crushing, convicting preachers that stir up demons and set the captives free today?
I don’t remember exactly what I was preaching that evening as a visiting guest minister, but I know there was an extremely sober, weighty atmosphere—and the message was hitting hard on repentance, eternity and holiness.
Suddenly, as people were silently, somberly on their knees at an altar, and in the middle of a teaching—no, a preaching—that was demanding a response, a response came.
A disturbed, provoked cry, “Damn John Burton to Hell! Damn John Burton to Hell! I’m going to Hell! I’m going to Hell!” shocked everybody in that church sanctuary. It was shouted, screamed, from the rear of the room, shattering the weighty atmosphere with demonic shrieks. The voice went on with the tirade while escorted to the foyer and then out into the parking lot to be ministered to by church staff. We all heard this person, a well respected part of this church from what I understand, continue in their manifestation as the Holy Spirit was bringing deep conviction to all who were present.
This type of demonic reaction to anointed, convicting preaching should not be rare in the church today, but it is. Extremely rare.
Jonathan Edwards, the central figure behind the Great Awakening and the preacher of the famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, caused quite a stir at Enfield:
An eyewitness, Stephen Williams, wrote in his diary, “We went over to Enfield where we met dear Mr. Edwards of Northampton who preached a most awakening sermon from these words, Deuteronomy 32:35, and before the sermon was done there was a great moaning and crying went out through ye whole House…. ‘What shall I do to be saved,’ ‘Oh, I am going to Hell,’ ‘Oh, what shall I do for Christ,’ and so forth. So yet ye minister was obliged to desist, ye shrieks and cry were piercing and amazing.” (http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/200201/200201_104_johnathan.cfm)
WE NEED HELLFIRE PREACHERS TO RETURN TO THE AMERICAN STAGE
Much of today’s church has been duped into thinking the quickest path to revival is through positive affirmation, encouraging words and happy, middle-of-the-road sermons. The idea is that a non-threatening church culture where God’s goodness and kindness are emphasized will make him appealing and easier for people to warm up to.
This method is woefully inadequate, even inappropriate. The motive of the leaders who employ such tactics is suspect. God’s fearful, weighty presence has been sidelined for a softer, more approachable version.
I recall prophesying over a mother at a service in another church I was visiting. This mom was extremely agitated that her daughter had decided to attend this revival style service and came with both barrels blazing. She wanted her daughter to leave immediately—but God had other plans. She decided to mock the theatrics and jumped right into the prophecy line with her daughter. Big mistake. I prophesied over approximately one hundred people that night, one by one, but something I said to this irritated mother changed her life. I don’t remember what I said (which is usually the norm when prophesying over people I’ve never met before), but after the service she was sitting in the corner, dumbfounded. She called me over and asked me how I knew everything I told her. She explained that nobody has ever known about the things I revealed.
The next night of the week-long event saw this mother and her daughter back in the service. I was preaching a pointed, aggressive message, and right in the middle of it I experienced another interruption. This mother shouted, “What must I do to get saved?!” All eyes darted toward her, and then toward me as she ran to the altar. The enemy thought he was sending her to disrupt a move of God the previous night. This night he lost a disciple to the glorious love of Jesus. The anointing broke her yoke of bondage.
ANOTHER GREAT AWAKENING
During the Second Great Awakening, we saw the following happen:
On the American frontier, camp meetings came to characterize revivals. The first camp meeting revival was in south-central Kentucky. At a meeting in June 1800, Presbyterian James McGready and two other pastors preached for 3 days; on the fourth day, two traveling Methodist ministers officiated and concluded with an emotional exhortation. Many physically collapsed at what they called conviction of sin. People were convinced they were experiencing a visitation of the Holy Spirit such as the early church had known at Pentecost. (https://www.christianity.com/church/the-2nd-great-awakening-11630336.html)
We must see another great awakening come to America! It’s time to shut down the predictable, stale church services and allow the disturbing yet wonderfully freeing messages of repentance emerge!
I was preaching at a regional youth conference, and, again, the message was provocative. Whenever messages like this are delivered, I can discern an intense resistance to it. Sadly, this often comes from leadership. Those who are living compromised lives often walk out. In fact, one person admitted to me that they were indignant and were about to walk out the previous night—until the Holy Spirit whispered to them, “Trust me and stay.” He did, and his life was transformed. He couldn’t stop thanking me and especially God for what had happened in his life.
At this youth conference, I prophesied very directly and precisely that someone was in extreme danger of being separated from God for eternity in Hell. I said this person was involved in sexual sin and I knew who they were, though I told them I wouldn’t expose them. It was up to them to bring their sin into the light. I implored them to repent, and fast.
After the service, the boyfriend of the person God had highlighted to me walked up to me. He revealed he was a youth pastor at one of the attending churches. He admitted that he and his girlfriend were involved in sexual sin and God had broken him that night.
Pastors, do you have any idea how much compromise and wickedness is occurring on your watch? We need to trust the Holy Spirit to lovingly and urgently convict the church. We must see mass repentance and a return to Jesus. Holiness must be preached again. Hellfire messages can no longer be avoided. Revival is an absolute necessity today. Where there is no revival, spiritual death will overwhelm our nation. George Whitefield knew this well:
After a sermon in Lyme, Connecticut, “many had their countenances changed; their thoughts seemed to trouble them, so that the joints of their loins were loosed, and their knees smote one against another. Great numbers cried out aloud in the anguish of their souls. Several stout men fell as though a cannon had been discharged, and a ball had made its way through their hearts.” (http://www1.cbn.com/spirituallife/a-great-awakening-stirs-the-colonies)
We can no longer be silent. Presuming all who hear our preaching to be spiritually and eternally okay is a great mistake. We need a booming shock to the system if we hope revival to come.
“The Christian world is in a dead sleep. Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it.” ~George Whitefield
A sinister spirit is behind much of today’s church growth movement.
Leonard Ravenhil: “We need to close every church in the land for one Sunday and cease listening to a man so we can hear the groan of the Spirit which we in our lush pews have forgotten.”
A recent post on Facebook resulted in a long stream of comments from people shouting amen, asking me to start a church, sharing heartbreak over today’s church and dropping in a bunch of fire and bullseye emojis. Here’s part of what I wrote:
I'm more convinced than ever that attempting to grow churches and develop programs and ministries has made it nearly impossible to see the remnant church so many are yearning for.
Pastors, please hear me. Stop the madness! Stop counting how many people show up every Sunday morning. Stop analyzing metrics. Stop setting numerical growth goals. Stop casting vision that’s centered around your local church growing. Stop. For the love of everything holy, just stop.
I know, I know. The Bible tells us that the church was added to daily.
47 …And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:47 (ESV)
Notice, however, the Lord added to their number, not the assimilation team or the marketing team.
In fact, if we back up in the text just a bit, we’ll clearly see it wasn’t marketing or a seeker sensitive, low water level approach that resulted in growth.
40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:40-41 (ESV)
Unapologetic preaching and a call to repentance was the impetus for growth. A Holy Spirit infused message calling people out of a lifestyle of wickedness is what triggered the awakening—not assimilation strategies. The apostles had no need for church growth. They simply preached a transforming message in the power of the Holy Spirit and watched God move. Can you imagine the early Apostles sitting around a table in the Upper Room discussing how to form greeter teams, what coffee and donuts to buy and how to attract people to their services? The thought of it feels like blasphemy! Yet, today’s churches do just that every week. The fear of the Lord is nowhere to be found.
31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. Acts 9:31 (ESV)
The fear of the Lord and the moving of the Holy Spirit—not programs and ministries—resulted in growth and impact.
In fact, consider this powerful truth: False prophets and false teachers are smart enough to know what will truly attract is an encounter with the supernatural—not programs and pastries.
24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:24 (ESV)
If false prophets are focusing on the (unholy) supernatural, why are so many pastors and leaders tied to natural ideas and gimmicks to draw in the people? It’s foolishness. We need the fresh fire of the Holy Spirit to fall. We need to eliminate the distraction and undue stress of most of our church ministries and programs—and simply gather the remnant to pray.
FOCUS MUST SHIFT TO THE REMNANT CHURCH
I absolutely believe in church growth, but I don’t believe every local church must grow numerically in order to fulfill their purpose. The stigma of small churches has haunted many a pastor. Our focus must be on the city church and regional revival as opposed to local church numeric growth. The group of people on the local level that will spur on the pursuit of revival in the city is the remnant. It’s the remnant church. These are your champions of intercession, holiness and passion for Jesus. They will zealously dive deep and advance into uncharted waters. Note that I didn’t say these people are your core group or your leadership team. The remnant should be the whole of the church. Everybody going deep together. The lukewarm, apathetic people that so many pastors attempt to grow their churches with will be alerted to their condition and then left with a decision. They will either dive into the depths with the rest of the body or they will, by their own choice, shrink back. In fact the Bible says they will ultimately die. Pastors, why are we trying to grow our churches with the spiritually comatose?
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:1-2 (ESV)
We need bold messages of awakening in our pulpits today! The call to holiness, prayer and revival must be continual. Their must be a prophetic unction burning in the guts of pastors today. The goal is not church growth! It’s obedience to Jesus and a lifestyle of intercession and fire!
From a recent Charisma Magazine article Should the Church Get Scary?:
We need to stop trying to attract the lost to church. The purpose of the church, of the ekklesia, is NOT to draw in the lost. Entire church mission statements and vision statements should radically change.
While the church isn't for the lost, it remains obviously true that we want to see the lost come to Christ. When the church is again a house of prayer, we will again see the necessary power to truly impact the world. The spirit of revival will explode as will the church.
When we understand that a group of twenty or fifty fiery, praying, devoted remnant Believers can do more to minister to God and shake a city than a thousand mildly curious church goers, our energy will shift from church growth to Kingdom impact. Are both mutually exclusive? No. But, the risk of compromise is great when we are attracted to numbers.
THE REMNANT IS DONE WITH CHURCH AS USUAL
Pastors have been duped into believing they need to (witch)craft their services in such a way that the seekers will be drawn, and not overwhelmed. They manipulate the environment to attract the largest possible group.
First, as I have already explained, the church wasn’t designed for the lost. The call for all is to radically and immediately surrender and turn from their wicked ways. Creating a culturally relevant atmosphere that gives people a comfortable warming up period to the concept of God is no way to run a church. The church service was never meant to be used for evangelism. It's a Believer's prayer meeting, not a place to assimilate seekers.
Second, when the lost do come in, when a move of God shakes the foundation and the neighborhood bars empty and the desperate line up at the church doors, they are not looking to be pacified and affirmed. They are ready to break! They want an encounter with deity! They don’t want your programs or ministry philosophies. They want Jesus!
The remnant has had enough of these low water approaches to ministry.
Those who are desperate for a move of God don’t really care that much about being greeted with a handshake and a smile at the door as they arrive on Sunday morning, yet pastors invest much energy and focus on assimilation, hospitality, visitation and other people-centric strategies. The remnant doesn’t care about being assimilated. They want to burst through the door and head to the altars alongside other desperate people.
They aren’t impressed by a perfectly produced and executed worship experience led by people who haven’t had an encounter with God in years—if ever.
They are not interested in the pastor’s latest, greatest teaching if it’s not burning with fire and dosed with anointing that can only come from hours in the prayer room.
They are bored with today’s predictable, powerless, structured and forgettable church services.
The remnant simply wants to gather together with others that have the smell of fire on them and pray. They aren’t looking to shake hands with others and they really could not care less about announcements, programs and special events. They want to be wrecked and rocked by the glory of God.
How far have we fallen as leaders when we think an unthreatening, casual environment would be the medicine for a spiritually apathetic people. Churches have the smell of death on them because they are attracting the dead to something devoid of resurrection power. Sometimes I wonder if there’s any difference between those in the pews and those in the ground in the church cemetery next door.
When the fear of the Lord manifests in a church service, people will immediately either hit the floor or hit the door. The travail, groaning, and agonizing over sin will either grip people to the core or they will simply run out the door. The fear of the Lord directly confronts neutrality and exposes all immorality.
A great majority of American churches have never actually experienced the fear of the Lord and it’s coming to this nation. Messengers with a hardcore message of repentance are arising who will enter into cities and regions with a mandate to break up the fallow ground of the hearts of men and usher the fear of the Lord back into the Church.
The sign to you that the fear of the Lord has arrived is when people only have two options: to either hit the floor or run out the door.
My friend Jeremiah Johnson also posted this recently:
When the offerings are down…
When attendance is low…
When the attacks won’t stop coming…
Will you continue to preach the gospel or go back to manipulating people?
If asked why they want their church to grow, pastors will offer some spiritual answers:
- We want to win the lost.
- Anything healthy grows.
- We want to impact our neighborhood.
While those points are good, and while there are many phenomenal pastors who are doing their best to serve God with obedience, I know there are other more honest answers to the church growth question we must consider:
- If the church grows, it’s evidence that people like me.
- I need the money a larger group will bring into the church.
- My reputation will take a hit if I can’t grow the church.
- If the church doesn’t grow, I’ll have to get another job.
- I’m being pressured by my board or overseers to grow numerically.
- We can only fulfill the vision if a lot of people buy into it.
- I’ll feel like a failure.
- My identity is tied to my performance in ministry.
- We have been seduced by the success of other ministries, and want to have the same success.
The pressure to grow numerically is insane. Pastors are falling into depression. Recently there have been horrible headlines of pastors committing suicide. The stress of leading ministries and meeting metrics can be too heavy to bear.
The allure and demand of church growth can be seductive indeed. If the Lord isn’t bringing increase (due to a failure to host the Holy Spirit and to boldly preach offensive truth), there is another spirit that is more than willing to extend a wretched, crooked hand. A demonic, wicked spirit of witchcraft thrives on control and manipulation. This spirit rebels against the methods of the Kingdom and against the purity of the Holy Spirit with tactics that will minister to the leader’s need for success.
Please understand me. I’m not saying all focuses on numeric growth are impure. I’m really not. It’s possible to possess an apostolic and prophetic spirit and to see through the eyes of God into a future of impact and explosive growth. It’s possible to discern a coming harvest. It’s possible to have the heart of an evangelist and to cry out for the lost and for a church filled with new, Spirit-filled, hungry converts. It absolutely is. In fact, a passion for the harvest, a cry for souls, must radiate out of every pastor and leader. Sadly, however, the allure of church growth is rarely born from such a pure desire.
Instead, an evil spirit is invoked, rarely deliberately, usually by default as an impure passion of the heart that demands satisfaction. Pastors souls are sold for the promise of a full house—a promise that is rarely delivered on. Further depression and failure is usually the result. Sometimes the church does explode, but not with burning zealots. Instead it’s a morgue, filled with people who are numb, cold and without signs of life.
The remnant church is wising up. While I have and always will teach that we must honor pastors and refuse to move in rebellion to God’s established authority, a disturbing shift must come to the church, and fast.
Pastors, we must stop using people to build our own kingdoms.
God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name. ~Brian Ming, as quoted in Pharaoh in the Church
The witchcraft necessary to coerce people to give financially, to serve the pastor’s vision and to build a ministry for impure reasons is extreme. It truly requires quite a few very powerful demons to anoint such a venture.
Please understand, I’m not talking about pastors who are intentionally evil and manipulative. I’m talking about pastors who have heart issues, those who try to spiritualize their ventures, those who are attempting to grow their church just like most every other pastor they know, those who have been seduced but don’t know it. They need to be shocked out of their deception and into the rest and peace that comes from allowing the Lord to bring the increase instead.
THE CHURCH WE ARE YEARNING FOR
Someone asked how I'd like to see church services go. Here's what I said:
Start with an hour of fiery intercession in the sanctuary prior to the service. Let it keep going as people show up for the service. Let the musicians play behind the prayer for the first 30 minutes or so of the service. Then, as prayer continues, let the musicians kick into some prophetic worship for a song or two. Open up the mic for decrees and declarations. Have the dancers and flaggers and others fill the altars. Encourage people to pace around the room or hit their face and contend. After a couple of hours or so, there might be a strong prophetic message, or just some declarations of the Word. Then flood the altars as people lead in prayers of repentance and reveal prophetic revelation that was received during the service.
Of course, that’s one model, but the point I’m making is that the coming remnant church simply isn’t interested in most of what is offered today—at all.
Pastors, when we realize the church service was never meant for assimilating seekers or evangelizing the lost, the stress of church growth falls off. The pressure to grow numerically can be replaced by the joy and passion of ministering to God.
Again, yes, we most definitely can believe God for numerical growth—if that’s God’s desire for our particular local expression of the church. And, also, there are those who will over-spiritualize their small congregation. They argue that their focus on holiness and revival don’t allow for numerical growth. Ridiculous. Remember, where the fear of the Lord, the power of the Holy Spirit and bold preaching exist, people will respond. Many will mock. Many will marvel. The city will be impacted. The local church may or may not grow numerically, but it will in spiritual depth and the church in the city will be impacted.
I’d encourage you to read my Charisma Magazine article, The Church We Crave But May Never See.
Here’s something to consider from that article. Keep in mind, the casual seeker won’t be attracted to a church on fire unless they are ready to surrender all. The church may shrink in number. However, the Holy Spirit will give leadership that will shock us to the core. Check it out:
For at least eight years specifically, and 23 years generally I've been teaching, writing articles, writing books, recording podcasts and posting videos about this very subject—extreme reformation in the church. Yet, the church service in nearly every Christian church looks the same (or worse) than it did decades ago.
I'm just about done. Finished. I can't stand the thought of additional years of church experiences modeled after a wine skin that's been outdated for years—yet, I acknowledge that it's all I may have to choose from while I'm still on the earth. Reformation seems to be far off.
The goal is not to hope for a more anointed old wine skin, but rather for such a radical reformation that it looks nothing like what we see today.
Simply, what's coming will look more like an extreme prayer meeting with people laid out all over the place with fire and tears in their eyes than the casual, tired and predictable worship and teaching services we see today.
Yes, the Sunday service will finally be the Upper Room experience that the burning, desperate remnant has been yearning for. Raging prayer, fervent prayer, passionate prayer will return to first place in the church.
People are leading ministries and churches all while the Bible instructs us not to even eat with them. It’s time for a house cleaning.
Facebook is a great, if unscientific, medium for discussions about culture and Scripture (and kittens, food, vacations, etc.). I’ve participated in many such discussions online and I constantly find myself shaking my head when supposedly solid, Spirit-filled Christians flat out reject clear, simple truths found in the Bible. We have declined into a church that all too often employs human reasoning in favor of biblical principles.
As an example, when is the last time you heard a pastor teach on the issue of divorce? At best they may suggest it’s negative and painful while fully ignoring what God himself has to say about it.
Right in the middle of Luke chapter 16 we see the following:
“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. Luke 16:18 (ESV)
We have a bunch of people in our churches today who are living in adultery because they divorced and remarried without validation. We need a mass movement of repentance for wrongful divorce and remarriage! After getting remarried, there can be redemption and forgiveness, but that is a process that must be completed. Divorce rates in the church should be near zero. I say near zero because there are legitimate and approved reasons to initiate a divorce. There are times when it’s fully appropriate to get remarried as well. God is in the restoration business, but we must submit to his process and follow his protocol.
The point on divorce was simply one example as I begin this article on discipline in the church. We have to agree that Scripture rules. We must stop minimizing it, modifying it, ignoring it or rewriting it.
Before you attempt to crucify me for being cruel and unfeeling regarding divorce or the other issues I’ll address in this article, I want to challenge you. First, my heart is broken over sin in the camp. Second, why do you presume you have the right to dismiss clear directives in Scripture? You don’t. Neither do I. I believe it’s an act of love and humility to trust God’s wisdom as we deal directly with sin in the church. God has given us a measure of stewardship over his holy church, and we are failing, especially in regard to holiness.
IT’S TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE
Take a moment and let the following verse sink in:
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (ESV)
Sin in the camp is defiling the house.
The above passage reveals that God judges the unsaved, the lost, those in the world. It also reveals that we have been mandated to judge those within the church. This, friend, rarely happens and that is a key reason revival is not near.
Please remember, we don’t have the right to exercise mercy that’s not endorsed by the Word of God. We don’t have the freedom to let someone off the hook when God demands we deal with their situation.
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Galatians 5:7-9 (ESV)
One immoral person in a church can compromise the entire congregation.
LOVE THEM OUT THE DOOR
It’s time to express love, with tears in our eyes, by inviting people to leave our churches. Multiplied thousands of professing Christians must be shown the door—and fast.
If they profess Christ and are guilty of sin, we cannot even eat with them. This is severe, and it is necessary. It’s also literal.
Are there any people attending church today who are greedy? We can’t go grab coffee with them. Is anybody involved in porn? Do they get intoxicated? Do they have idols in their lives? Are they abusive? We must deal directly with them for the sake of their souls and those of everybody in the church! Why? Check out a verse that’s strangely similar to what we read in 1 Corinthians 5 (it takes it to a whole other level):
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (ESV)
While so many are welcoming these offenders into church services and functions every week, God has determined they will not be welcomed into Heaven. We are celebrating the people God is rejecting! We are confirming those God is calling out!
Allow me to make this point very clear: If anyone who names the name of Christ is guilty of these sins, they must immediately repent while bearing fruit or they must be removed from fellowship. Period.
Yes, most youth groups will be wiped out. Elders in the church will have to go. Many pastors will have to relinquish their positions. Churches will decline significantly in number as they lose those guilty of sin AND their sympathizers!
What will be left? A holy, remnant church that can finally move in power, unity and purity.
TURN THEM OVER TO SATAN
Sexual sin is especially destructive. If anybody tells you all sin is the same, don’t believe them. It’s not true. For example, one type of sin cannot be forgiven. Other sins are not unto death. Sexual sin is one that demands a more severe response. Again, the response is rooted in love, not revenge. It’s to protect the church and to awaken the offender.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 1 Corinthians 5:1-7 (ESV)
The world has the right to accuse Christians of hypocrisy. When sin happens, it’s swept under the rug. It’s ignored. It’s certainly not dealt with. It’s rarely judged.
The instruction is clear and cannot be modified. The one who is guilty must be turned over to Satan. They must be excommunicated. They are a danger to themselves and to the church.
The purpose of discipline is twofold:
- The restoration of the person—God, in his wisdom, knows just what it will take to give people the greatest chance of restoration. Biblical discipline is a part of that process.
- The protection of the body—A little leaven leavens the whole lump. We must insist on a holy church for the sake of the innocent and unsuspecting.
…deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” Hebrews 12:6 (ESV)
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. Hebrews 12:10 (ESV)
When restoration works, the Bible tells us that we will win our brother. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out the way we’d prefer, but it’s imperative that we try as Scripture demands:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17 (ESV)
Keep in mind that severe church discipline must follow earlier attempts at restoration.
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (ESV)
The first step isn’t removing them from fellowship. It’s calling them higher, exhorting them to live righteously and patiently yet invasively, uncomfortably, demand they respond to the correction of the Lord. Walk the walk with them until their rebellion or repeated failures would cause you to violate the Word to maintain fellowship with them. That time comes sooner than we typically presume.
GOD DEMANDS THAT HIS CHURCH IS HOLY
John L. Dagg said this:
“When discipline leaves a church, Christ goes with it.”
Ichabod is posted above the doorposts as the presence of God vacates a once holy church that’s inundated with immorality.
The question is simple, do you want God to remain or the unrepentant offender? You can’t have both.
Do we trust God’s message enough to risk everything to share it?
Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time… Jonah 3:1 (ESV)
We never want to cause God to bring his word to us more than once. Jonah was resistant. We are all familiar with the story. The mission the Lord gave Jonah was a critical one, and he wasn’t about give up over the childish, selfish approach of his prophet. Nineveh needed to hear from God, fast, and Jonah was the man to bring the message. The longer I live the more dismayed I become at the state of preaching and prophetic ministry. While there is a small, raging, faithful remnant that is operating out of the fear of the Lord in these dire end times, the normal approach to preaching in our nation is cautious at best, outright rebellious at worst. Human wisdom has taken over numerous pulpits. Many are trading unchangeable truths in Scripture for a modified version that seems more godly, and less costly. For example, I asked a question on Facebook recently: If a professing Christian was caught in sin such as greed, pornography, gossip or other intentional failures, and they repeatedly refused to repent, what should happen? Many rejected Matthew 18 as too severe. They generally replied by saying we should pray for them, keep them in the church so they can hear the truth, be patient, etc. That sounds good, but it’s not biblical. They are attempting to extend a type of mercy that God never intended them to.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17 (ESV)
Cultural resistance to any hint of judgment has caused many American preachers to go soft and silent. Churches are crawling with immoral people who name the name of Christ, and we as leaders will have blood on our hands if we don’t deliver a sobering message of repentance to our nation. The Bible is extremely clear on this point. We must judge with a heart of love and sobriety for the sake of the church:
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 (ESV)
The Bible reveals in the end-times, people will call evil good and good evil. While church leadership as a whole isn’t at the point of calling sexual sin good, the lack of action as demanded by Scripture reveals that some leaders are calling evil something less than evil. Weakness. Struggle. Human nature. They wish to extend mercy to those who willfully continue in their deliberate decision to defy God. There comes a time when we must trust God’s wisdom and understand the unrepentant are evil. Period. Boy, that sounds self-righteous, doesn’t it? No, it doesn’t, unless you’ve been conditioned by the politically correct, religiously correct culture we are living in today. In truth, it’s not self-righteous. It’s simply righteous. We can, and must, have a heart of compassion and eyes filled with tears as we witness people rejecting God and his standards. Those tears however can’t result in a failure to exercise biblical protocol. There does come a time when we must act, no matter how terrible the action might feel. God can be trusted.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (ESV)
It doesn’t get any more direct than that.
A SECOND CHANCE FOR AMERICA’S PREACHERS
The primary purpose of this article is not to discuss protocol for discipline in the church, though that is a necessary sub-point. The reason I led with that point was to reveal the deep dilemma we are currently in in America. We have gone soft on sin and few are speaking on the crisis. Judgment is not only probable, it’s most likely necessary to ensure more people aren’t contaminated by compromised, carnal, passive, quasi-Christianity. Judgment is God’s method of giving opportunity for those who still have hope to escape the prison they locked themselves into through their disobedience. We need judgment. It’s God moving in both love and severity at the same time, for good cause.
Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” Jonah 3:1-2 (ESV)
This is a message for America. It’s time to call out against it. We have no option but to deliver the message that God gives us. We need great, humble and bold men and women of God to reject fear of man, to stop thinking about the impact on their ministry and reputation and call out! It’s time for a shaking to come to America, and it needs to be initiated by preachers behind pulpits and in front of cameras from coast to coast. We know that Nineveh famously repented, and God relented.
Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. Jonah 3:9-10 (ESV)
We need messengers of God to arise and open their mouths! We must call out against America and cry out for deliverance from destruction.
CALL OUT AND CRY OUT!
I’ve met many pastors who admittedly have surrendered the fiery and unapologetically confrontational message that God had given them years prior for a more palatable message that ensures people keep showing up on Sundays. As an itinerant prophetic minister, I’m often called in to bring a sharp prophetic message, when in reality the leadership should have been bringing it themselves all along. I understand what bringing in catalytic people can do. That is a God designed strategy, and many amazing pastors do that to help bring some fresh revelation and instruction into their situation. But, much of what I and others do can be accomplished without any outside help whatsoever. Call out and cry out night and day! Gather the people to pray! Repent! Refuse to lead a typical American church! Go deep and burn with passion! Call every person to be branded by the searing heat of the Holy Spirit. It’s time! We don’t want to live a Jonah 3:1 life. The second time God is required to speak due to our delay and disobedience is one time too many. Let’s back up to Jonah 1:1:
Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD. Jonah 1:1-3 (ESV)
There we see the original directive. Instead of calling out against Nineveh, Jonah instead went away from the presence of the Lord. Listen closely: Many of today’s prophets and preachers are ministering on the run, outside of God’s presence, in a spirit of self-centeredness. They are evading the hard messages because of unresolved inner issues in their lives. The thought of offending people, losing them from their ministry, losing financial support, losing favor and their pedestal, have all resulted in preachers without an anointing delivering a message born of their own hearts.Judgment is coming—first to the preachers, and then, very possibly to our nation. Remember, it’s God’s love that demands this. It would be the least impactful way to awaken the greatest number of people. Judgment is necessary if repentance is absent.
Being open to God’s voice in our lives will result in a lifestyle of inconvenience, challenge and impossible mandates. It will cause huge, huge problems in our lives, and it will cause damage and bring calibration to our lifestyle. But, as we understand our roles to bring reformation and calibration to the church and to the world, we’ll see that our lives won’t collapse. We will function in power as we hear God and release decrees and declarations! As many of today’s preachers and prophets are running from God’s mandate and asleep outside of his presence, the world is crying out for you to awaken!
So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.” Jonah 1:6 (ESV)
There is no safe place outside of God’s call. Jonah’s disobedience was putting the lives of those around him at risk. They demanded that he wake up and call out to God! I want to encourage you to do the same. Call out to God and then call out against America. Then, cry out for her as intercessors. A great drama is before us, and we must ensure that drama includes the greatest move of repentance in history; a revival that cannot be measured. Preachers, America is waiting for you to arise from your slumber and release the burning messages of God. Like Jonah, this is the very reason you were born.
Donald Trump revealed some issues that demand discussion.
There is a spirit of euphoria spreading through much of the church thanks to the overwhelming and unprecedented election results. As many of you know, I was one who wasn’t sold on the idea of a Donald Trump presidency, but as it stands now, we must all honor him as the soon to be inaugurated President of our nation. Many are saying he was God’s choice. I don’t know that any of us can know that for certain, but what we do know is that God has established him, just as he does with all leaders, be they good or evil.
That being said, we must contend for God’s purposes as Donald leads us from one national experience into another. We have to pray that his steps are ordered and refuse to complain no matter how vexing his leadership may be.
Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Numbers 14:1-4 (ESV)
We do not want to go back to Egypt. And, no, at this point, we absolutely do not want a new leader.
No more cries, no more tears, no more grumbling.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. Romans 13:1-2 (ESV)
Donald Trump is our authority and he has been instituted, established, by God. Resisting and complaining can only result in judgment. It’s time to serve, honor, love and contend for revival in America, and we must do so with Donald Trump at the helm of our nation’s government.
And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation grumble against him by bringing up a bad report about the land— the men who brought up a bad report of the land—died by plague before the LORD. Of those men who went to spy out the land, only Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive. Numbers 14:36-38 (ESV)
Joshua and Caleb determined they could advance under the leadership of Moses into very threatening territory. The others? They grumbled and died on the wrong side of promise. This same scenario is before us today. How will we respond? We need people who will spy out the land, who will view into our prosperous future with Donald Trump in leadership, and bring back a good, confident report. We need pioneers, apostles, warriors who will advance in the face of any enemy, without excuse, without fear.
Now, before you accuse me of equating Donald Trump to Moses, please bear with me. We all know that Donald has some serious personal issues that must be dealt with, but we must also serve him in intercession and by refusing to speak evil of him. We must be his advocates.
That’s my clear message of how we must respond to Donald Trump’s Presidency. Now, at this point I must switch gears. Having an appropriate attitude towards Donald Trump is but the beginning. There are some very real issues to be discussed. There is an issue with the church that must be addressed.
You see, Moses and Joshua were not only focused on taking new territory. They also called for the consecration of the people. Success depended not only on the leader and on the support of the people but also the consecration and continual refining of the people. This is where we must now focus. Attention now shifts from Donald Trump to you and me—the church of America. Repentance and consecration must come. Our tomorrow depends on it.
Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” Joshua 3:5 (ESV)
TROUBLING ISSUES THE CHURCH MUST DEAL WITH AFTER THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP
The reason I was disturbed with the wholesale support of Donald Trump by many Spirit-filled Christians was not because I didn’t believe God could eventually move through his Presidency. The trouble in my spirit, which is still there today, has to do with violations by the church that put our nation at risk regardless of who the President is. In fact, Donald Trump could have a Damascus Road encounter and become a revivalist in the White House overnight, but that wouldn’t resolve the national issues that have been created by American Christians this election season. The enemy is not those who didn’t support Donald Trump. The enemy is a segment of the American church that dipped into corruption in its efforts to elect the President of their choice.
SHRUGGING OFF IMMORALITY
I wish it was possible for me to express to you my thoughts and emotions every time I witnessed Christians shrugging off immoral behavior by Donald Trump. While I didn’t engage with as many Hillary Clinton supporters, the same confusion would have resulted had I heard people defend her indefensible immorality.
The immediate, almost scripted and prepared statement I heard time and again from legitimate, God-loving, Spirit-driven Christians was, “That was in the past,” or “It was only locker room talk,” or other similar verbal and written shrugs of the shoulders. Others often argued that nobody is perfect and therefore we couldn’t hold them to any standards whatsoever. I was stunned!
Further, it was determined that anybody who didn’t sin greater than King David was approved for leadership. This extreme biblical illiteracy is shocking. When a corrupt, indecent politician writes some psalms revealing the cry of their heart for intimacy with God, I’ll listen to you.
Many were defending Donald Trump by reminding us that he’s a baby Christian and that he needs time to grow. The problem? Nobody actually knows if he’s truly converted or not. At the time of the election, the fruit hadn’t started to show. My argument is not that Donald is not saved. It’s that we don’t know if he will or will not continue in the extreme immoral behavior that he has exhibited his whole life. It’s an immature, desperate person who will ignore warning signs in the hope that all is well. We simply cannot minimize immoral behavior. I don’t believe politicians must be Christians, but I do believe they must adhere to a moral code.
Remember, I’m not talking about our new President now. I’m talking about the failures of the church to support righteousness.
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan. Proverbs 29:2 (NKJV)
I was legitimately concerned that we were risking four years of national groaning by closing our eyes to indiscretions. But, cries for righteousness in our leadership fell on many deaf ears. That is an indictment on the church, not on Donald Trump.
For the life of me I couldn’t find many who would honestly acknowledge how serious the violations and accusations of racism, hatred, sexual indiscretion and other behaviors were. I’ll admit, it was strange. The reaction felt like a well rehearsed political script. The church’s extreme support of a man has, in my opinion, resulted in opening the door to conditional morality and an increase in sexual deviance in our nation. I’m not saying we can’t fight against that tide, but it’s a situation we should not have initiated. If those who supported Donald Trump would have at least admitted the controversy exists, and that they are grieved about his demeanor and behavior, whether its past or present, righteousness could have prevailed.
In 1988 I was at the epicenter of a global, spiritual moral crisis in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was near the front of the auditorium at Family Worship Center as I, along with countless news reporters and thousands of other people, watched Jimmy Swaggart famously repent for his sexual sin. The world lost trust in Christianity, and especially in popular evangelists and ministers, that day. The moral code was violated and it should not have been shrugged off. It was devastating.
Years later I had the privilege of leading regional prayer meetings with Ted Haggard in Colorado Springs. Ted also preached in my church twice and, like Jimmy Swaggart, I experienced his tangible, powerful anointing. Like Jimmy, Ted was a true general in the faith. I also felt the impact of failure when Ted gave in to sexual sin. Again, people were shocked, in tears and grieved. They had a right to be.
I also had the opportunity to meet personally with Todd Bentley in Lakeland, Florida during the outpouring. I experienced the power of God on his life too. Then, his failure became known and it rocked many. The outpouring was suddenly over as people lost trust in Todd.
Years and decades later there are many Christians who refuse to support these men of God or even watch them on television. Many of these same Christians were lining up to vote for a man who probably violated the moral code exponentially more than Jimmy, Ted and Todd combined.
Please remember, I’m not talking about whether Donald is forgiven or not. I’m not pointing my finger at him. This segment of the article is aimed at the church.
I’m calling out a permissive, passive church that was so afraid of one leader in Hillary Clinton that they were willing to sell their birthright for another.
No, Donald Trump isn’t a pastor or a spiritual leader. I’ve heard that excuse too. It seemed that people were looking for any loophole to excuse immorality. The argument has resulted in a new standard: give us what we want and we will overlook crimes, lies, sexual deviancy, hatred and anything else necessary.
I’ve asked the question more than once, “What must a candidate do in terms of morality that would make him or her impossible to vote for?” Believe it or not, I never received an answer! What if both candidates in the next election are pro-abortion, but one would limit it to the first trimester while the other supports partial-birth termination? Would situational ethics give us license to vote for a pro-abortion candidate if they were the lesser of the two evils? Truthfully, I believe many Christians would actually cast a vote for a murderer—the lesser of two murderers.
This is what happens when biblical truth and core values are placed on a sliding scale. Those values have been constantly moving in this election and we must repent and react to the new immorality that was introduced as nothing more than locker room talk this year.
Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. Proverbs 21:4 (ESV)
Pride and arrogance reared their ugly heads during the election season, and much of it in the name of prophecy. “God said to vote for Donald Trump so I’ll assault you until you see it my way.”
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers… James 4:11 (ESV)
I value prophecy highly. I teach on it and one of my signature teachings is on living a prophetic life. We need more prophecy, more people activated in the prophetic, not less. I also value many of today’s prophetic leaders who live in the prayer closet and do their best to communicate the heart of God.
That being said, I’m almost embarrassed to call myself a prophetic Believer today. The rate at which mature Christians are dismissing biblical truth in favor of the apparent word of God of the hour is appalling. We must have a reformation in the prophetic culture of the church if we hope to give true leadership in the trying days to come. The Bible must return to center stage. Logos must be given priority over Rhema. It must again become the plumb line.
I’ll tell you this. The Bible demands that we love one another, but I experienced such nasty behavior from mature Believers just because their candidate was opposed. Shaming, accusations, arrogance and a ridiculous presumption that they were hearing God perfectly, and others were missing God completely filled social media. Friends were lost. Pride drove many of those who were supposedly promoting God’s prophetic word about Donald Trump.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 (ESV)
We must honor those who didn’t hear God the way we did. We must also promote the Scriptures ahead of prophetic revelation, and value people who are doing their best to rightly divide the Word.
During this election season it was non-negotiable that I give my energy to hearing God through the Word, which also resulted in supporting Rhema revelation. What I mean by that is I believe it’s important, actually critical, that we start with the Bible when making key decisions and then allow the prophetic to bring clarity and to highlight specifics. Instead, many, many people that I talked to were relying solely on dreams, the revelation of other prophetic people, inner senses and other insight instead of hearing what the Word says about the matter. Biblical truth was regularly discounted by many or ignored at any point their prophetic revelation was threatened.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34 (ESV)
This verse was commonly ignored almost every time I shared it. Ears were shut and eyes were closed out of fear that something in the Word would create a conflict in their support of their favorite candidate. My passion is to see righteousness reign in the church even if that means a less desirable leader is in office. Time and again the response I heard was simply that “God said Donald Trump is his man. He’s a Cyrus. God will deal with his heart later.” I’m trusting that God will do that too. But, again, I’m not dealing with Donald in this portion of the article. I’m talking about the many Christian’s exuberance in dismissing clear, biblical truth in favor of pipe dreams in the name of prophecy.
Please understand, I’m not saying that God can’t use Donald as a Cyrus. He absolutely can. Those prophecies may prove to be true. What I am saying is that we were too quick to ignore the Bible in favor of prophecy.
Prophecy is conditional. We see in part. The Bible is unconditional. We absolutely must move in great humility, admitting that we may not be hearing clearly and ensuring we remain teachable and flexible, ready to admit we were wrong at any time.
In a recent Charisma Magazine article I expressed the need for a pastor as President now more than ever. I wrote that when many were using yet another excuse for immorality by saying that we weren’t electing a pastor. Many Christians were laughing at that idea, declaring that we are electing a secular business man, a leader, and not someone who has righteousness as a mandate. Again, I was grieved. Apparently the prophecies trumped (yeah, a pun) the biblical call for righteousness.
Stands for holiness and calls for righteousness actually resulted in attack after attack by Christians who were guarding their prophetic revelation. Prophetic assaults were constant. I’ve heard from many who can attest to this fact.
Add to the unloving, prophetic assaults the increasingly bizarre “prophecies” that people are putting God’s name on, not only in the election but in the Charismatic experience in general, and you have a very strange, contentious situation indeed. Too many in the prophetic community are reaching for little more than coincidences and slapping God’s name on them. This is truly quite dangerous. It’s taking God’s name in vain.
I’d encourage you to read my article titled: Stop the Madness! A Prophetic Reformation is Needed. We must simply put an end to the strange prophecy that isn’t from God, but from the soul. The witchcraft that’s behind that is stronger than we may understand.
PUTTING TOO MUCH TRUST IN MAN
I value leadership and I acknowledge that we want the right leaders in position, whether they are pastors, bosses or politicians.
What we experienced in this election season, however, is trust in man going way too far.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. Psalm 118:8-9 (ESV)
As I write this, protests and riots are taking place all over America simply because Donald Trump was elected. People were crying, angry, fearful and vengeful after he was voted in. Others were euphoric, rejoicing and overly celebratory. Both sides are putting way too much trust in a mere human being.
When those who lost are attacking and hateful toward those who won, that is evidence that God does not have the supreme place in their lives. The same is true on the other side. Too much relief, happiness and an elevated sense of victory can be evidence that they are putting too much trust in a human being. I’ve seen this result in a nose up attitude that creates division. Pride and arrogance seem to be leading the way for many.
Further, I’m still disturbed at those who were so angry and abrasive toward people who decided they couldn’t support either candidate.
I’m hoping Americans will truly respect the freedom to vote next election by honoring those who search their hearts, pray and decide to vote third party. There has been so much ungodly shaming, attacks and disrespect this election season toward those who exercised their right to vote for whoever they felt God instructed them to. That couldn't be more un-American or un-Christian.
My wife posted this on Facebook:
I certainly agree that we must be obedient to the Lord when deciding for whom to vote, which is the reason I felt I couldn't vote for Trump. I have been called selfish, proud, rebellious. I've been told I don't care about my country, that I can't hear God simply because I felt I needed to stand for righteousness in this matter according to the Word. My liberal friends have treated me better than some of my evangelical friends and that is truly sad. I voted, but not for Trump, Hillary, Johnson or Stein. I shouldn't have gotten flack from Christians for trying to vote as the Bible would prompt me.
I understand why some felt they had no choice (but to vote for Trump). Many times, I almost decided to vote for Trump for the reasons (many have) stated, but in the end it just didn't feel right to me. I was told I was sinning for following my conscious. How did that even make sense?
God fearing Christians were actually more afraid of Hillary being in office. The judgments and criticism was at historic levels, and towards true Christians who were doing all they could to vote according to biblical values.
IT’S TIME FOR REPENTANCE
This election brought out the worst in the church. Is it possible the prophetic revelation that Donald is a Cyrus, that he was God’s choice, is true? It absolutely is possible. However, this message isn’t focusing on that. I’m bringing attention the the ugliness that the church exhibited for all the world to see. From immature prophetic people assaulting anyone who departs from their point of view to minimizing immorality to nearly idolizing a human leader, the church should be licking it wounds. It definitely should be repenting.
We must have a prophetic reformation. We need a movement of holiness. We have to trust God like never before.
With that in mind, let’s join together to display the love of Jesus, pray for God’s established leader of America and contend for reformation in a spirit of repentance.
Our nation’s future depends on it.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (ESV)
Would God’s grace be a result of Hillary Clinton being voted in as President? Before you answer, read on.
Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:32 (ESV)
In this most contentious election season, it seems that we've been strong-armed into believing we must choose one of two candidates. It’s either Donald or Hillary. Approval of one or the other is mandatory. And, yes, it’s probably true that no other person has a chance at winning. Voting for a third party is nothing more than symbolic and principle driven for those that choose to do so.
I'm extremely well versed in the reasoning behind the belief that it must be either Trump or Clinton. It’s true that we effectively have a two party system in our nation and the most basic common sense reveals that we must function within those limits. With this in mind, some say that while we are choosing the lesser of two evils, it's a necessary strategy so Hillary doesn't make it into office. Others say the upcoming picks for the Supreme Court are what really matter, and that we must choose the candidate that will give us the Justices we need.
Of course, I wholeheartedly agree that Hillary stands in opposition to much of what we as Christians so deeply value. She is pro-murder of children, just as King Herod and Pharaoh were. She is a sure danger to our nation for many reasons. So, blocking her victory should be attempted at all costs, right?
In the natural, using human logic, that argument makes a lot of sense. Again, common sense would dictate that the clear choice is Donald Trump. I understand why people can get so frustrated with me. They don't understand how I can’t see it the way they do. However, I do see it…in the natural.
In the spirit, I see things very differently.
LEAN NOT ON OUR OWN UNDERSTANDING
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)
The instruction is to refuse human wisdom and understanding while rejecting evil. Only then will God make our paths straight.
While we see only two options, God’s options are limitless. It’s an indictment on the faith of the church; a church that tends to embrace common sense, to lean on their own understanding and that is unfamiliar with the immeasurable supernatural realities of the Kingdom. Donald and Hillary are definitely not the only two possibilities. God’s wisdom is much deeper than that.
Throughout Scripture we see God calling his people to advance with seemingly ridiculous, nonsensical methods. Supernatural people are not limited to natural analysis or human wisdom. In fact, we must actually be quick to dismiss the obvious in favor of the wisdom of God.
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33 (ESV)
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:25 (ESV)
Since we are not limited by only two candidates, we have to expand our plan of action to include clear, biblical instructions. The Word of God is clear that we must not promote those who walk in darkness, even if our only two choices are both living that way.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:11-17 (ESV)
We must awaken as a supernatural church, refuse to promote immorality by coming along side those who take part in the unfruitful works of darkness and we must reject foolishness. We are commanded to know what the Lord’s will is.
My belief is simple: I am not limited to the two obvious choices for President if both of those choices would require I affirm them in their immorality. If I embrace, affirm and vote for someone who embodies immorality, perversion, arrogance and pride (no matter if they are ‘in process' or not), I will reap the consequences.
More-so, our nation will reap the consequences. It's a spiritual issue. What I endorse is what will manifest. While we might gain the Supreme Court appointees we are hoping for and we could make progress on other conservative issues, the fact remains that the nation will be ripe for judgment. Ignoring unrighteousness as a ‘lesser evil' will come back to haunt us.
And the LORD said by his servants the prophets, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.” 2 Kings 21:10-15 (ESV)
Manasseh was driven by a deviant sexual appetite, human sacrifice and other detestable practices through the worship of Baal. His leadership AND the agreement of those in Judah who sinned with him resulted in judgment.
Both candidates have various character/sin issues similar to what we see in Manasseh. So, where does that leave us? A non-vote or a third party vote becomes valid. Voting for a righteous person who doesn't win will result in greater favor for our nation than voting for a lesser of two evils who does win.
I am stunned that so many Spirit-filled, faithful Christians are dismissing the behavior of Donald Trump, both eleven years ago when he made it clear he was in favor of behavior that many suggest equates to sexual assault and more recently with vile comments about women and others. Christians are actually buying into the diversion tactics that Trump’s comments were nothing more than locker room banter. I don’t know about you, but if I was in that locker room I’d walk out and be appalled at what I heard—not dismissive.
Many are quick to remind me of Donald’s profession of faith as a Christian, but it’s a profession that the public has never heard. I have yet to find one video or article that includes Donald discussing his passion for Jesus, from his own lips. If you know of one, please send it to me. I would be so happy to see it. There are third party accounts, but even those are extremely shallow. Of course, I pray Donald has fallen in love with the lover of his soul! At best he’s a baby Christian, and the fruit and character and consecration has yet to measure up. He’s in no place to be the leader of our nation. He may be forgiven. I hope he is. But while that qualifies him for heaven, it doesn’t qualify him for office.
Simply, we need someone with character that won’t invite judgment.
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan. Proverbs 29:2 (ESV)
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34 (ESV)
A church that stands in and for righteousness is what will exalt our nation. We can put more hope in voting third-party and standing in righteousness as a national church than in a single, flawed candidate who affirms some of our positions through his or her policies.
If we vote for Donald Trump (or Hillary Clinton) we endorse extreme immorality and we will absolutely open the door to God’s judgment. It won’t matter what pro-Christian policies Donald advances, who he appoints to the Supreme Court or how appealing he is for national security. The church will be guilty of wrapping its arms around an idol of perversion and it will be the first to be hit with judgment.
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:17-19 (ESV)
Instead of trusting a two party system, we must do good, stand for righteousness and trust God.
If the church embraces Donald or Hillary, we will abdicate our right to govern and very possibly will invite terrible judgment. However, if the church rose up in humble solidarity and refused to endorse the radical immorality that’s represented in our two candidates, God’s favor would rest on us and the church would function in supernatural authority in this great land. It will matter little who’s in leadership as God will have liberty to bring revival and bring change not from the White House but from God’s House.
I firmly believe if the church was unified around righteousness as Christians refused to vote for Donald or Hillary AND Hillary Clinton won the election as a result, America would again function under the favor of the Lord, be authorized to lead and advance in righteousness. Again, in the natural that doesn't make sense but in the spirit, it does. If we take a stand, though Clinton may win, God's protection and favor will return to America.
WE MUST DISCREN SUPERNATURALLY
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. 1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)
We cannot default to our intellect or common sense when making decisions. God’s wisdom will seem like foolishness. It takes spiritual discernment to understand what God would have us do.
So, to clarify one more time, my opinion is that a vote for Trump in the natural might make sense, but as a Christian, and in the spirit, it can quickly lead to judgment.
If the church stood for morality and righteousness and refused to endorse anything less, Hillary Clinton might win. In the natural that may look like a massive blow, but God would have much more room to work in our nation…not because of Hillary, but because of a church that stood for holiness and refused to be strong-armed into compromise.
Only then would the church regain it's rightful place as supreme governing body in the United States of America.
If that doesn’t happen, we will be in trouble as a nation. A shaking will come. At that time, we can only pray Donald or Hillary and the people of this nation will do as Manasseh finally did after their nation was invaded by a foreign army:
The LORD spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the LORD brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the LORD his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God. 2 Chronicles 33:10-13 (ESV)
Isn’t it just like our God to use the extreme force of judgment to victoriously woo a leader and a nation to him. It would be better if judgment wasn’t necessary though, wouldn’t it?
A simple principle found in Scripture is the answer we need for the Black Lives Matter vs. the police tragedy in America.
Anger and fear are erupting in the streets of our nation, and the crisis demands a solution that transcends human common sense. We need God to step in and provide a solution. The ancient wisdom that we need is found in the book of Romans, chapter twelve.
Before we explore that passage, I want to address what I believe to be a calculated strategy of Satan in these last days. I’ve watched him execute his plan via the homosexual activism that has emerged in recent years in addition to other social movements of our day.
While it’s true that many professing Christians need to be rebuked for their heartless dealings with people who associate with certain unrighteous cultural movements, such as the homosexual community, we have to look at how the enemy is manipulating that reality. True, compassionate, loving Christians have been forced into a position of faux sympathy. Instead of standing for the timeless, non-negotiable revelation found in Scripture regarding homosexuality, we have lost our prophetic voice. Most are remaining silent instead of confronting the spirit and dogma of the age, whether it’s through homosexual activism, Black Lives Matter, abortion or other counter-biblical movements. Some are actually surrendering to this spirit and aligning with those who are deviant. Why is this? Fear.
The accusation of the enemy is that we have lost our love for homosexuals (or abortionists or other groups who oppose the truth we embrace) and we have no option but to repent and “prove” our love for these people by affirming (or at least ignoring) their positions, desires, identities and supposed freedoms. Fear is even causing people to avoid saying “Blue Lives Matter,” or “All Lives Matter,” because of accusations that such comments are bigoted.
The devil is forcing Christians to reject biblical principals and to accept his theology of universal affirmation.
Satan himself is calling for a movement of repentance! The demand is to apologize for adhering to timeless Christian truth instead of embracing his more “compassionate” religion (that positions him as god). He is calling the church to abdicate our position of Godly love in favor of a demonic affinity, affirmation and agreement with what is unholy. The enemy is forcing us into a sympathetic position.
Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” Matthew 27:20-23 (ESV)
The demonic, religious demand was to affirm and release back into society what is unholy, represented by Barabbas, while calling for the eradication of righteous standards, of holiness, represented by the Holy One himself, Jesus. The crowds responded en masse.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)
The demand is to affirm evil and to reject good. Those who refuse, those who stand as true holy soldiers in opposition to the demands of the enemy are threatened and identified as haters. In fact, many Christians will lose their lives in the Tribulation because of this very situation. We will be marked as haters, as being in opposition to what is right and just, and will be martyred.
Today, anytime a Believer stands opposed to homosexuality, we are convincingly accused of hatred. If we oppose abortion, we are anti-woman and anti-freedom. Similarly, if we stand opposed to the rebellion that’s manifesting through the Black Lives Matter movement, we are labeled as racists who are fueled by radical hatred of African Americans.
The results are stunning. Entire Christian (actually, former Christian) denominations are now gay-affirming. They have surrendered to the enemy’s demand to “repent” and to prove their love and sympathy for those who choose to live as homosexuals. Many pastors and churches affirm the woman’s right to choose to end the life of their children. And most recently, Christians are forsaking biblical truth in favor of vengeance and anger toward our nation’s police force.
Satan, though evil through and through, is brilliant. He is duping Christians to submit to his demands for a sympathetic response of affirmation. It’s false love.
How can something so demonic and evil be embraced as loving, compassionate and true?
Satan has been masquerading as God since the beginning.
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5 (ESV)
The highest (or lowest) form of demonic deception results in people being convinced his wisdom is actually good, godly and superior.
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” Matthew 2:7-8 (ESV)
Satan and those who are advancing his cause want us to believe that they are in union with God. The true motive, obviously, is not to worship God or advance his causes. Their plan is destruction and coerced allegiance to the enemy.
And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. Matthew 24:4-5 (ESV)
Similarly many will advance deviant cultural norms and promote them as godly when in reality they will lead many astray.
Currently, police shootings and the resulting uprising of the Black Lives Matter movement have the nation’s attention.
Scripture gives us a clear, simple blueprint. Is it possible for our nation to reject the demonic deception and anger that’s ripping our land to shreds in favor of true love?
We don’t have to oppose our nation’s law enforcement officers to prove our love of African Americans. We shouldn’t denounce African Americans who are feeling very real pain to prove our support of law and order. There’s a more godly, effective way.
Here’s the simple, powerful biblical protocol found in the Book of Romans that must prevail:
BLACK LIVES MATTER:
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Romans 12:14 (ESV)
THE POLICE AND SOCIETY:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 (ESV)
Live in harmony with one another… Romans 12:16 (ESV)
ONGOING TRUTH FOR ALL:
…Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:16-21 (ESV)
When we admit we are weak, then we will discover the Strength of the nations.
I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. Isaiah 13:11 (NIV)
It’s an indictment on our nation when we puff up our chest in the face of our enemies and make trite, inaccurate statements about our supposed strength. American pride is finally coming back to haunt us. Our haughty, arrogant spirit has opened the gates of our nation to our enemies.
No, America, we are not strong, and we need to finally admit it. Without a radical devotion to Jesus, we have no hope.
A NEW AMERICAN REVOLUTION
We need our President to humble himself, to admit our extreme vulnerability without God and to lead the nation in cries of repentance. Pastors, do the same. Nothing less than a new American Revolution will stop our downward spiral as a nation.
Except, this time we aren’t fighting for our independence. We must humbly repent of our pride, arrogance and self-sufficiency.
Instead of overthrowing the authority of the British monarchy, we must submit to the authority of the Kingdom of God.
If we understand the nature of God, realization of our weakness is very good news for us—if we repent, cry out to God as a nation and surrender to the King.
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Hebrews 11:32-34 (ESV)
American can become strong out of weakness and put ISIS, cop killers, terrorists and foreign armies to flight—if we turn to God.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
PROTESTS VS. REPENTANCE & FORGIVENESS
What if we hit our knees and admitted how dark our own hearts can be?
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “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.” Jeremiah 17:9-10 (ESV)
God knows the depths of our heart and we are being tested as a nation.
Will we humble ourselves or rise up in anger and pride? The answer to that question will determine the direction of our nation.
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 (ESV)
We have to embrace meekness as a people—if we want our nation to be safe and favored again.
PRAYER FOR OUR NATION IS NOT ENOUGH.
It’s laughable when celebrities and politicians tweet and post about prayers being given during times of crisis. Are they really praying? To whom? Is the spirit of prayer really driving them, or is it something else?
Maybe if we didn’t wait for tragedy to hit before a national movement of prayer launches, we would find the protection and prosperity we so desire.
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (ESV)
Prayer isn’t enough.
Per the above passage in 1 Chronicles 7, the prescription for national safety is more involved than simply tweeting a prayer. It will truly take a new American Revolution to see a response like this on a large scale level:
- HUMILITY—We are nothing without God. This is why it’s so critical to elect politicians who are meek. Proud, arrogant people give hope in the natural, but spiritually they are a serious liability.
- PRAY—Prayer movements must erupt from coast to coast. Never ending, heart rending intercession must launch now.
- SEEK—God is calling us into his presence! A holy people running after and encountering God as a lifestyle is a must.
- TURN—The vile wickedness in our nation, and in so much of our church, is a stench in the nostrils of God. Repentance has to begin, and when it does, God will finally forgive our sin and hear our prayer!
Then, and only then, will God begin the process of healing America.
I’d say a revolution like this is well worth it.
Let’s do this America. Let’s see our great land become safe, free and prosperous again.
Without one key element, movements that emphasize signs, wonders and glory meetings are extremely dangerous.
I’m encouraged that we are witnessing a sense of awakening in parts of the church today. It thrills my heart that we are starting to move beyond the tired, predictable wine skins of yesterday and are yearning for a much deeper dive into the river of the Holy Spirit. There are meetings and movements that are enjoying a supercharged atmosphere. Some of these are extremely good, necessary and forerunners for the coming church.
The hunger is so overwhelming for some, however, that this current season is producing people who will run to any meeting that presents the hope of experiencing a supernaturally activated moment.
Of course, a deep desire to encounter the wonder of the Holy Spirit is not an indicator of impure motives. Quite the opposite, those who hunger for more of Jesus can be counted among the remnant—as long as their hunger is pure and their approach is stable.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. Acts 8:18-22 (ESV)
IMPURE SPIRITUAL HUNGER AND THE CALL FOR REPENTANCE
Simon was more than intrigued by the invisible force he was experiencing. He was so zealous to function in that power that he actually wanted to pay for it! I know that seems absurd, but that spirit is at play very commonly today. The rush of the super power he was experiencing was so remarkable that he couldn’t help but to go after more of it. His sin was not his hunger for God. His sin was his motive. He had no option but to repent—or die in his sin of impure spiritual hunger. This sin that Simon the Sorcerer was overcome by, the sin of of impure spiritual hunger, is rampant in the church today.
To deal with this temptation, a key element that must exist within movements that are marked by supernatural power is repentance. Of course, repentance and the cross must be the primary driver of any church, movement or ministry. Sadly, today that is not always the case.
I was stunned when I heard about a pastor that no longer preaches the blood and the cross because, as he stated, they are pre-resurrection. His focus is now the benefits and the bonuses we can experience on this side of Calvary. While this may shock many of you, the truth is that many are abandoning a keen focus on repentance, the blood and the cross, though they may never be so bold as to announce it.
The last two places I ministered, in Dayton, Ohio and Greenville, South Carolina, I received strikingly similar comments from people as I was connecting at the end of the service. In both places I had preached a straight forward message on holiness, repentance, surrender, sin, the cross and eternity. It was nothing original, but the anointing was strong.
In one of the events someone said, “I haven’t heard preaching like that in 30 years.” In the next event I was told, “I haven’t heard preaching like that in 27 years.”
That almost brought tears to my eyes. It did bring righteous indignation to my spirit.
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 (ESV)
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:1-2 (ESV)
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, Acts 17:30 (ESV)
HOLY GHOST PARTIES
I love to dance in the river, jump in the river, swim in the river, soak in the river. If the river is rushing, I’m there. I’ve been transformed in glory meetings and I can’t wait for the next one!
I’m also extremely careful to discern the motive of my heart. The glory of God is not meant to be used as a high inducing narcotic. God is holy and we must approach and enjoy him from that reality.
When God moves, it’s not a playground, though there are times for wild celebration. We need to experience great fear just like in the days of old. Holy Spirit comfort and fear of the Lord must go hand in hand.
So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. Acts 9:31 (ESV)
I’ve had the privilege of being in the midst of some extremely powerful and unusual river events where manifestations of oil, gold dust, gold teeth and a mist of God’s presence filled the auditorium. People were dancing, trembling and rejoicing throughout. It was impossible to deny that joy was in the place and that humanly impossible wonders were occurring. I was giving leadership in that church but was continually awestruck at the very real, very powerful things God was doing. I was laid out many times during that season, including in the parking lot at 2am one late night as God spilled out after a powerful prayer meeting. I was undone. Many others were as well.
We enjoyed a Holy Ghost party atmosphere that was wonderful and legitimate. The celebration was joyous!
However, what grieves me to this day is that among the dancers were a few who were living very dark lives—and they were convinced that God affirmed those lifestyles. This is why they could dance and rejoice with such “freedom.” None of this came to the surface until God hit me hard one day. He told me it was time to shift the message from rejoicing to repenting, from dancing on our feet to crying out on our knees, and to let the Holy Spirit move in a very different way. God had set us up and it was time to marry true freedom with brokenness and surrender. This was the only way faux freedom could be exposed.
While the revelation of unapologetic sinful lifestyles was troubling enough, the point I need to make here brings something else into the equation: the plumb line of the cross.
Holy Ghost parties, glory meetings and river experiences are not enough to rightly deal with our hearts and to draw us into freedom. They are insufficient. As overwhelming it can be, experiencing God’s presence and his love are not enough to deal with darkness and rebellion.
God instructed me to preach with great unction and urgency on what was: the cross, Hell, holiness and the blood of Jesus. This ended the Holy Ghost parties and opened the door to Holy Ghost conviction.
This led to many rushing to the altars to allow God to break them, heal them and set them free.
Sadly, and disturbingly, there were previous Holy Ghost, glory meeting dancers who soundly rejected that message. One supported lesbianism and was convinced that God would never send homosexuals to Hell. Another was involved in sexual New Age practices and rejected the theology of eternal separation from God entirely. Others told me they didn’t affirm a definition of God that included judgment or anything negative. One of the most passionate young people in the church said that she doesn’t know the God associated with that message!
That was like an arrow piercing through my heart! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!
In the midst of a true move of God, people were embracing deviant theologies and living in radical rebellion to the one they were dancing before!
As a leader, my heart was crushed. How could this have happened?
REJECTING THE MESSAGE
When I hit the messages of repentance and the cross with fervor, some people fled. Honestly, this shouldn’t have surprised me. In fact, I preach often that a true move of God will result in many being exposed and turning from God as deception and rebellion overtakes them. This is such a crushing truth that is hard to bear.
…they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 (ESV)
In Acts chapter two we see two responses to God moving. Some marveled. Some mocked.
The cross, when preached, will bring clarity.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34 (ESV)
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 (ESV)
The truth of the cross of Jesus will always have that type of impact. It divides. It reveals the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Holy Ghost parties must be founded on the truth of the cross, and that message must be shouted continually if we want to avoid deception at party central.
It’s easy to dance and rejoice when the benefits and blessings are preached, but when the call for repentance is in the mix, suddenly the party may shift into a season of mourning.
“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Joel 2:12-13 (ESV)
Then, the mourning and freedom that comes from true, deep repentance, can lead to another season of dancing!
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30:11-12 (ESV)
Today we have meetings that are focused intently on the glory, God’s presence and the river. Healings, signs and wonders are primary. They can no longer be primary if we want to avoid allowing darkness and deception to thrive in such an environment.
Calls to repentance must be sounded. A revelation of Hell must be had. The blood of Jesus must be foremost as the cross of Jesus is preached with unction.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret… 2 Corinthians 7:10 (ESV)
Only then can we truly celebrate and dance in the river.