Political agendas instead of brokenness over souls have overtaken the American church.

“People are freaking out about your new video, where you ride down a stripper pole to Hell then twerk on the devil. Why are they upset?” (an actor portraying Brittany) Spears asks.

“Would you be able to give a lap dance to God, just to even things out?” Spears asks, before welcoming on a man with long white hair and tan robes. (An actor portraying) Lil Nas X leaps up and begins twerking in front of him for several seconds to the cheers of the audience.

This ET.com story has also been reported by most of the major news sources, and Christians are enraged. 

“God” gets a lap dance on the eve of the most holy day of the year, Easter Sunday. Resurrection Day. The day when Jesus destroyed the shackles of sin and death, just three days after the most loving act in the history of mankind. Brutal torture and slaughter were what the mob wanted for the man who famously said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

THE RAGE OF CHRISTIANS

This article isn't really about yet another heinous Saturday Night Live skit, this one about new shoes introduced by Lil Nas X that are literally anointed with a drop of human blood. It's not about the blasphemy of SNL or Lil Nas X. Christian friends, it's about you and me.

Hatred, division, rage, finger pointing and shaming have been the calling cards for many Christians over the past year. Whether it's blood boiling over due to a supposed stolen election or unbridled agitation resulting from masks, lockdowns, vaccines and, as some would argue, violations of Constitutional rights, followers of Jesus are up in arms.

Sure, watching defiling wickedness overtake our nation should provoke a strong response from us. The last thing we need is comatose, apathetic Christians who presume lukewarm passivity to be equal to love and kindness. I agree that we need men and women of God to speak boldly on political and cultural issues that are destroying our nation. To remain silent from behind the pulpit on the far-left agendas that are killing America is enough to disqualify anyone from ministry. We need holy, anointed freedom fighters to emerge. However, it's critical to understand just what freedom we are fighting for. Yes, there's a battle for our nation, but too many have lost focus by identifying as American patriots ahead of Kingdom ambassadors. This war is a spiritual war.

If pastors would have vigilantly prepared the church for the end times, Christians would not have panicked when a virus emerged, churches were shuttered, persecution arrived, the election didn't go the way they wanted and government tyranny deprived them of the life they were used to.

Instead we have naturally minded, reactionary people scrambling to fight the oppression, demonize their enemies and blame all who have threatened their elusive American dream. 

It's telling when American Christians presume God has promised freedom in our nation while forgetting freedom in Christ can be found in prisons, in Communist nations and anywhere other people remove natural freedoms from us.
The Bible guarantees perpetual national freedom literally nowhere from Genesis to Revelation. In fact, an argument for the opposite could more easily be made. 

You might presume this famous verse about God's promise to prosper a nation would support an argument for perpetual national freedom:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)

However, you should back up one verse. National freedom won't come for seventy years:

““For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” (Jeremiah 29:10, ESV)

And these verses drive home the point:

“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” (Jeremiah 29:12–14, ESV)

I might argue that America is closer to being sent into exile than it is stepping into promise. 

Our response should be a hardcore turning to God, national repentance and a heart-wrenching cry for revival.

WHERE ARE THE TEARS?

@LilNasX
Mar 27
i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the s**t y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay. so i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.

Lil Nas X sells out of 666 pairs of Satanic shoes, each containing a drop of human blood, and he reveals the reason for his provocative business venture: Christians. 

Where are the tears? Where is the compassion? Where is the cry, “Father, forgive him, he knows not what he does?”

Where is the brokenness over lost souls and devastated hearts that have been seduced by the enemy of humankind? Do we understand both saved and lost share the same enemy? Those who don't know Christ are not our enemies, and we aren't theirs. It would be hard to believe that in today's volatile American culture however. 

Instead, we are witnesses, many of us participants, in the war against any and all who oppose our “righteous” ideologies.

It's rare to find people crying out with passion for God to move on the hearts of people like Lil Nas X, President Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bill Maher, Whoopi Goldberg and others who are commonly in the sights of our holy sniper rifles. 

Instead, we do in fact snipe. We pull the trigger time and again with our “righteous” banter in an attempt to out them, shame them, accuse them and bring correction to them. How our gossip could ever reap positive results is beyond me.

INTERCESSORS ARISE

When I call intercessors to arise, I'm speaking to every blood-bought Christian reading this. Intercessors aren't a special brand of Believer. We are all called to pray with fiery zeal for those who are targeted for eternal destruction by Satan. 

The last year has revealed yet another angle of the ugly side of Christianity. It wrecks my heart that so few are exhibiting love for the lost. It's rare to find those who will put aside differences and truly fight the horde of hell for people God so deeply loves.

How can we expect those who have not had a genuine encounter with the Holy Spirit to ever buy into our brand of morality and values? It makes no sense, yet Christians are still enraged when people don't see things the way we do.

An intellectual or emotional affirmation of the truth of the Bible will never transform a human heart. Yes, they may engage positively at a logical or emotional level. Yes, they may try to understand our point of view. Most, however, will partially or fully reject a biblical worldview unless a supernatural, unmistakable, life-altering, soul-shocking invasion of God's glory floods into their being. 

This is why I so passionately preach the need to live, walk, pray and move in the Spirit. We exist in an invisible world that only those with spiritual eyes can experience. We need the blind eyes of the lost and deceived opened to the abundant life of Jesus. Contend for this in determined prayer. Push back the enemy. Battle for souls. Love deeply. Weep for the wandering. Stand in the gap for those who mock God. Preach with anointing. Pursue a spirit of revival to overtake Hollywood, Washington, and, oh yeah, the church. Some good old fashioned repentance at an simple, holy altar, Christian, would be a good first step.

Photo Credit: “Satan (after Botticelli)” by Maxwell Hamilton is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Origionally published by The Stream.

Spirits of control and rebellion are hovering over our nation.

Take a half step back and gain a wider view of the epic clash that’s playing out in America. You’ll witness a supernatural assault that is fueled by mankind’s resolve to be in control. An unwitting alliance between puppet and puppet master has been working brilliantly in recent months. Invisible and extremely powerful demonic entities are the ones in control of the strings. The brilliance? They have convinced a culture that control is a desirable weapon, all while they are the ones truly in charge.

Opinions and actions concerning masks, politics, riots, the election and other trending topics of the last year are all too often manifestations of control and rebellion. It’s witchcraft. Has a spell been cast over America? Well, I question whether a spell is needed when so many of its citizens are so eager to embrace these extremely powerful tools of destruction.

As a pastor for many years I can tell you that witchcraft is an extremely powerful force. I’m talking about traditional witchcraft like I’ve experienced first hand many times. I’m also talking about what’s known as Christian witchcraft that manifests in gossip, manipulation and betrayal. I’m sure many pastors would agree that it’s easy to discern that evil spirit of control and rebellion even if there are no outward signs.

However, there’s an even more subtle form of witchcraft (control and rebellion) that even the most secular (or most Christian) person can employ. This is what we are seeing bring destruction to our once great nation.

CANCEL CULTURE IS A MANIFESTATION OF HATRED AND CONTROL

It shouldn’t surprise us that the largest population group in America would have the greatest influence. The non-Christian segment of our nation is leading the charge. This is detrimental to us all as they simply cannot exhibit leadership marked by true biblical love. Consistently producing fruits of the Spirit such as peace, patience, kindness and gentleness isn’t possible. It’s not because they are all terrible people, but rather because they don’t have the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Christians have a tough enough time trying to walk in this life-giving manner. Without the indwelling of the Spirit of God, it just can’t happen.

Without the power of God, the strings of the puppet master become enticing. The veiled promise of control and power the enemy offers is too hard to pass up. The virtue signaling can then begin as the ungodly promote their agenda.

The ambitious goal of cancel culture is to eradicate hate, abuse, immorality and other national and personal sins. It will never work.

The threat of being canceled may, to a very small degree, modify the outward expression of hatred, but it will do nothing to cause someone to stop hating. In fact, it may have the reverse effect of adding fuel to their fire.

Only a radical encounter with Jesus can remove the wickedness of hatred and all of the other sins cancel culture is attempting to address from a person's heart.

Further, cancel culture is inherently evil as it loathes what is possibly the greatest expression of love and transformation: forgiveness. No, cancel culture thrives on punishment, shame, control and, yes, hatred. You can't eradicate hatred with hatred.

The cancel culture alarmists unilaterally determine what should be canceled and what should not. They are writing the rule book. They are controlling the narrative.

Why aren't they also canceling promoters of other national atrocities? Porn? Abortion? Drug use? Greed?

The model of Jesus is, yes, despising wickedness. It's also loving enemies, costly forgiveness and redemption.

I wonder if there's anything more contrary to the Gospel in America today than the hate-driven, punitive, shaming and life-destroying cancel culture.

In fact, if we saw the underbelly of cancel culture we’d understand their agenda isn’t at all about eliminating hand-selected American vices. It’s about control. They have been seduced by this strong and wicked spirit of witchcraft and will stop at nothing to gain control of the narrative. They eagerly destroy people’s lives in their pursuit of power. The seduction dilutes any sense of love and forgiveness as they rip to shreds any and all who stand in their way. Their picture of a perfect America is worth casualties and collateral damage. They destroy with passion.

A SPIRIT OF CONTROL HITS HOME WITH MASKS AND LOCKOWNS

If there’s a trigger word today it’s masks. Lockdowns would be a close second. I suppose Trump is in the mix too.

For the past year social media has been dominated by aggressive opinions, accusations, finger pointing and all sorts of rebellious behavior regarding masks and lockdowns. I’m convinced that many a politician enjoys a guilty pleasure when they enact mask laws. The rush of power and the satisfaction of controlling others are addictive. Am I saying nobody has pure motives in their mask and lockdown legislation? No. Am I saying the science supporting masks and lockdowns is entirely flawed? No, not entirely. However, it’s abundantly clear that many politicians and people of influence are capitalizing on the opportunity to gain greater control over the people they were called to serve.

I’ve often wondered why there’s such a clear divide on the issue of masks and lockdowns between the left and the right. It’s truly fascinating. Is it as simple as big versus small government? I don’t think so (though I do believe big government thrives on control). Is it because freedom-loving Christians are typically right-leaning conservatives? Possibly, at least in part. Could it be many on the right are marked by independence and personal responsibility while many on the left are more focused on systems that diminish personal responsibility and promote a sort of quasi-fairness for all? Probably. Could it possibly be that those on the right are often marked by their zealous love for America while those on the left tend to be less patriotic while focusing on the negative issues in our nation? While I understand these are generalities, we have to consider the possible nuances. Those on the left are quicker to identify issues by taking a knee while those on the right celebrate the positives while standing for the flag. Again, I understand there’s overlap, but these general ideas warrant consideration.

Regardless, it’s still interesting how it plays out. Many on the left are enraged when they can’t control others and force them to wear a mask. The rage may even be greater on the side of the right as they tend to become unglued when forced to wear a mask. Have you seen some of the fights that have broken out at shopping centers simply because someone was asked to wear a mask?

I’ll be direct: the invisible yet powerful evil spirit of control is manifesting in both the left and the right. Some people want to control others while others want to maintain control of their own lives. Witchcraft has seduced both with a wicked concoction of control and rebellion.

If a spirit of witchcraft is driving your beliefs and emotions, you will find yourself agitated, triggered and aggressive when control is removed from you. The threat of losing charge of your American experience is enough to cause you to adopt the puppet master’s tactics instead of being driven by the Spirit of God.

When we are led by our flesh we get agitated when people don't see things the way we do.

When we are led by the Spirit we love more deeply when people don't see things the way God does.

Freedom isn’t defined by the absence of controlling factors in our lives. It’s defined by refusal to lose our liberty in the face of oppression. Only Jesus makes this possible.

IT’S TIME FOR AMERICAN PRIDE TO DIE

Pride is what caused the fall of Lucifer. Pride is what will cause the fall of our nation.

We need mass repentance in America, and fast. It’s time to sever our ties with the enemy and renounce control, rebellion, pride and all forms of witchcraft. The spell of witchcraft on our nation was cast not by wicked witches, but by pure-blooded Americans who are fueled by their own prideful desires. It’s time to humble ourselves and to cry out to God for mercy on America.

Photo credit: “Witch” by www.metaphoricalplatypus.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

750 police officers were injured defending Americans from violent rioters. Now the defended are demanding the police are defunded.

9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers… 1 Timothy 1:9 (ESV)

Make no mistake, anyone with the slightest hint of discernment can agree a vile spirit of lawlessness is overtaking this nation.

This buildup has been at work for years. It's clear we are blazing quickly toward the end zone of the end-times.

3 Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NLT2)

Lawless people are ravaging our cities, businesses and lives, most often, black lives. The core of my emotions as a human have been rocked by what I've witnessed. A lawless act of murder by a police officer has resulted not in love or forgiveness, but predictably in revenge. Lawlessness.

Don't misconstrue my words or my motive. Racism is pure evil. We should all be deeply hurt by what has ravaged our black brothers and sisters. If we don't, we have no soul.

My motive is to shine the light on the invisible realm, on the spiritual reality of our natural situation. Truth must prevail in the midst of a volatile emotional situation.

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 (ESV)

DEFUNDING THE DEFENDERS

It doesn't take a theologian to appreciate the connection between the call to disband and defund the police and the spirit of lawlessness. The extremely high majority of police officers in America are amazing individuals, driven by passion for people and operating in extreme integrity. Demonizing the world's greatest peace force is shameful.

Our nation's police, though imperfect as any and every human institution is, represents law and order. A push to disband and defund exposes the motives and spirit of those seeking to uproot and tear down. Lawlessness.

Racism is evil. Most everyone agrees.

Police brutality/murder is evil. Most everyone agrees.

We should all be horrified by the murder of George Floyd. Most everyone agrees.

We don't have to be convinced.

Now, don't get mad at me, I'd like to ask you something, something that is on the minds of people all across the nation. Here's the question: What evidence is there that George Floyd's horrific murder was racially motivated?

To expand on that critical question, are people just presuming it was because the cop had run-ins with minorities in the past? Or simply because a white cop killed a black man? Is it because other cops have targeted blacks in the past? How does that relate to this specific cop? Further, does that mean all cops, or most cops are racist? Are they the enemy?

This is a VERY important question as the supposition that it was racially motivated has resulted in SERIOUS reactions like riots, violence, attacks, murders, destruction of businesses and assaulted lives (including black lives).

This is a VERY important question as it attempts to confirm that there's racism in our nation (which there is) AND systemic racism in the police department and other American institutions (which is debatable at best).

This is a VERY important question as it draws a line in the sand and forces people to reject deeply held personal beliefs and values that are contrary to the narrative. Beliefs like Drew Brees holds (held?), a refusal to kneel during the National Anthem. The assault against his patriotism was disturbing.

This is a VERY important question because EVEN IF IT WAS RACIALLY MOTIVATED, the violence and the general spirit of many (not most) of the reactions have not only been inappropriate but destructive to our nation.

And, most recently, this has become a VERY important question as the belief that racism motivated the killing is resulting in defunding and disbanding police departments, launching cities into a state of dangerous lawlessness.

Friends, it's possible to hate racism and to love blacks, whites and everybody else in our nation without buying into narratives that are contrary to our personal values. We can love while agreeing or disagreeing. Depending on what the proposed beliefs and solutions others may adhere to are, we can voice concern while still honoring each other. We can agree to disagree while still authentically loving and valuing each other. We can still hurt when they hurt, even if our analysis of and solutions to the matter differ.

DELUSION AND CONFUSION

9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan… 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9,11-12 (ESV)

It's imperative that we take pause for a moment in the natural and lock in to the rapidly evolving spiritual climate. The spirit of lawlessness is not to be taken lightly.

Satan is possibly more active on the earth today than he has ever been as his end is drawing nearer every day. The lawless one is gathering an evil army, anointing all who are interested to assist him in fulfilling his diabolical purposes.

Don't be surprised as the demonization continues to spike and ramp up. Confusion and delusion are overtaking many. This is a terrifying reality as it sets into motion people's eternities. Lawlessness produces a confused, enraged, demonized and delusional people who will do all they can to destroy.

Defunding and disbanding of the police is merely a natural result of an invisible reality. So are the riots, violence and hatred. So is police brutality. So is every sort of wickedness that is suffocating America. It takes a confused and delusional people to do such a thing. It's contrary to common sense.

THE ANSWER: THE GOSPEL

Natural solutions can be helpful, but they will never bring resolution. The only thing that can, quite simply, is wholehearted surrender to Jesus Christ. That's it. Nothing else will work.

When a nation repents, and when sinners surrender to Jesus, healing can begin.

6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Romans 4:6-8 (ESV)

It's time for preachers to preach this truth boldly. It's this message and only this message that can stand against the lawlessness.

Pastor's refusal to regularly engage the topics of culture and politics from behind the pulpit has, in large part, resulted in the chaos in our nation today.

No, you can't “just preach the Gospel.” Applying the truth of the Word to today's national situation is mandatory. Non-negotiable. If you aren't equipping the saints to be a spiritual force in our nation, exactly what are you training them to be? Ushers? Greeters? Your personal armor bearers?

No. They are today's mighty warriors who will assault the kingdom of darkness and expose wickedness. They are a lawful people who will stand opposed to lawlessness. It's time for the people of God to preach, equip and confront with a mighty anointing of God. If we don't, our nation is lost. Cities devoid of police protection would be but the beginning of sorrows.

Originally published by The Stream.

Where are the firebrands who will fearlessly confront the wicked systems of the day?

Handcuffs, ankle monitors and locked church buildings are the new normal for many Christians in America today. The state has threatened worshipers of Jesus at the same time they are opening the “essential” doors of Planned Parenthood wide. Somehow it's safe to congregate at Walmart, Home Depot, liquor stores and on golf courses but gathering in worship, prayer and repentance are a threat to national safety.

A closed church isn't the most disturbing reality, however.

PROPHETIC TROUBLERS

17  When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 1 Kings 18:17 (ESV)

The pathetic extent of many Christian's response to the lock-downs and governmental threats is to remind people to wash their hands as they shelter in place and fearfully wait it out as they hope for the best. It's shameful. Washing hands is a great common sense idea, but how can that be the best insight and advice a blood-bought, Spirit-filled, fire-breathing Christian can offer?

The most disturbing reality in the midst of this crisis is a muzzled, cowering church. Where are those who have a reputation as troublers? The church shouldn't be afraid of the United States government. The church should cause politicians to tremble!

The time is now for humble yet bold prophetic people to use every medium available to them to strike cultures and unholy systems with ferocity! Cast down arguments, assault wickedness and become defenders of our rights as Americans to assemble, to worship and to be free from tyranny. The Constitution wasn't written to protect us from a virus at the cost of our liberty. It is in place to protect our rights, and those rights aren't suspended in the midst of a pandemic or any other crisis.

After being accused of troubling Israel, Elijah, in the anointing of the Lord, struck back with the sword of truth:

18  And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. 1 Kings 18:18 (ESV)

Holy indignation must erupt from within as we clearly stand against the threats, taunts and attempts to shut down the only governmental authority that outranks that of the United States of America: the church.

The secular leadership of our nation, our states and our localities need to hear loud and clear, whether they might identify as Believers in Jesus or not: America has abandoned the commandments of the Lord!

Troublers of America Arise! from John Burton on Vimeo.

POLITICS IN THE PULPIT

I would suggest pastors who refuse to consistently and without apology confront the spirit of the age, including vile cultural and political positions that are embraced, celebrated and promoted by our nation's leaders and influencers, have disqualified themselves from ministry. Ichabod may soon be stamped above the doorposts of their church if it hasn't been done already.

When pastors understand their prime call is to equip a prophetic people to expose and assault the kingdom of darkness, it will become clear that it's not possible to go silent on the politics and immoralities in the land.

Sadly, there is but a small number of fervent, devoted, highly trained and radically surrendered people who are prepared to respond to the taunts and assaults that the enemy is bringing through this testing season. Instead of equipping the people diligently over the last few decades, many pastors have instead played around in the shallows in the hopes that they keep everybody comfortable and happy. Instead of trained warriors they have produced sloths who have little interest in the things of the Spirit.

PROPHETIC SYSTEMS

21  And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 1 Kings 18:21 (ESV)

Elijah demanded a decision. He fearlessly confronted leaders, false prophets and all of the people and called them out. He didn't stop there. He went to war in the power of God and ultimately killed all 450 of the prophets.

There are extremely powerful prophetic systems in America today that must be not only confronted but taken out via the power of the Holy Spirit. The media is prophesying lies twenty-four hours a day. Many politicians are releasing oracles that originate from wicked hearts that are in radical rebellion to God. Lawmakers are enforcing demonically influenced restrictions on the church. Satan is gaining ground while Christians sleep.

We need troublers of America to arise! This prophetic army will be deeply humble, surrendered and functioning from a place of sobriety. They won't sound mere opinions but will rather trumpet prophetic truths. They won't stand still when liberties that so many gave their lives to protect are ripped away from us. They will aggressively and with fire in their eyes stare down the enemy and remove him from his place.

It's time the unrighteous leaders of America hear loud and clear that they have been disobedient to the Lord God and that God has an awakened, equipped and determined people who will confront their unholy advances in this hour.

A REPAIRED ALTAR

31  Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 1 Kings 18:31 (ESV)

Holy confrontation isn't the ultimate goal. A restored altar is. America must be taken back and we can't get there without you and I standing up boldly to the spirit of the age. Jezebel must go. False prophetic systems must go. The rains of refreshing must return but that will only happen as the nation repents as a result of God's people taking a stand.

A restored altar to the one true God in America is the goal. This is a season of divine reset and every one of us must shift dramatically. Repentance must hit us deeply as we renounce a casual, shallow life. Today is the day for you and everyone of us to respond to the call of the Lord to fight against deeply wicked systems in our nation. The altar will be built, the false prophets will die and the fire will fall. Only then can we call America a Christian nation again.

38  Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39  And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” 40  And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there. 41  And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” 1 Kings 18:38-41 (ESV)

Originally published on The Stream.

Many seduced by unbalanced grace theologies misunderstand the desperate need for the church to contend for a move of God.

“I felt such release when I realized I didn't need to work and contend like I had been taught by pastors and preachers. Instead I'm just relaxing in God and it is so freeing!”

“There's no need to work, war or battle. God's love for you is immeasurable! Nothing you can do could cause God to love you more!”

“Your identity isn't defined by what you produce, it's in a revelation of God the Father.”

“God is with you in your struggle. No need to beat yourself up over sin.”

I've heard these defenses of grace-centric ideologies many times, and while some of the statements do absolutely contain irrefutable truth, there is still some serious concern to deal with.

Of course it's true that our identity is in Christ and not in what we produce, but it's honestly not as simple as that. To dismiss the command to respond to the directives of God, to be productive, would raise the question of whether we are in Christ at all. The parable of the talents makes that clear.

26  But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27  Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28  So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:26-30 (ESV)

DYS-GRACEFUL MINDSETS

I believe there are churches and ministries that are all in on the grace teachings of Scripture, and unlike false-grace doctrine there is legitimacy to what is being communicated. However, the problem comes when these grace truths are adopted to the exclusion of the full counsel of Scripture. It's dysfunctional.

I propose there is a radical misunderstanding of the purpose of grace, and today's translation of it can result in a self-idolatrous culture. If the focus is mostly on how we can benefit, on who we are and on eliminating Kingdom responsibilities from our lives we can know we have fallen for a distorted view of grace. Grace actually empowers us to do, to obey, to work, to move, to heal, to deliver, to respond to God's Kingdom mandates.

I was stunned several years ago when someone actually admitted to me that they were praying against the prayer movement! I'm not sure if they appreciated the irony. They rejected the idea that we have to do anything in order for God to be revealed in our lives. Our identity, he said, is not in proving ourselves or in coercing God to move. He believes the prayer culture is damaging to our ability to understand our identity. We are sons and daughters and we don't have to do anything to convince God to love us or to move in our lives, or so he argued.

News flash: movements of intercession have little to do with us, though it seems so much of today's grace movement is very much about self. When we contend in intercession, we are pounding Heaven and assaulting Hell. We are seeking and knocking, warring and resisting. It's a governmental position of authority where we stand in our identity in Christ and move mountains, rebuke demons, establish truth and tear down strongholds. It's about other people! We are fighting for the freedom of others, we are moved to tears as we contend for freedom in other people. When we contend for revival, it's a strategic advance in the spiritual realm against barriers, demonic strongholds and wickedness. We are not doing this to discover our identity or to convince God that we are lovable. That is ridiculous! We do this to expose the darkness and rescue the perishing! We do this to awaken the sleepers and to prepare the Bride of Christ for his return!

To all of my grace friends out there, I'm thrilled that you have discovered the wonder of resting in your true identity in Christ, if that has truly happened. I appreciate and promote that same revelation without reservation. It's impossible to do what God has called us to do without it.

And, that's where I probably lost some of you. You see little need to “do” anything. You just want to be. After all, we are human beings, not human doings, right? Yeah, I've heard that more times than I can remember.

RESOLVE THE LOVE ISSUE ALREADY

God loves you. It's settled.

While I agree that there are never-ending realms, expressions and revelations of God's love, and that we will forever be experiencing new encounters in his love, it's time that we simply understand that we are loved, and then get on with the mission.

The problem comes when people discover a supposed fresh revelation of God's love that removes the very mandates and responsibilities that Scripture reveals he has placed on us. A revelation of love that minimizes or eradicates God's assignments doesn't exist. You have been deceived.

It's possible to be deeply loved by God while not being usable to God. Both being loved and being available impact our relationship with God and our eternities. Heaven and Hell lay in the balance. Obedience plays a role just as enjoying intimacy with God does. The parable of the Talents along with many other truths in the Bible make this clear.

Our very purpose of living on the earth is to bring God glory and to advance the Kingdom. As we develop intimacy with Jesus and as we grow in revelation of his love, we cannot help but to emerge as mighty warriors advancing against the darkness and setting the captives free.

God loves you. Now from that place of love, serve the Master with passion. Don't sit around for the rest of your life celebrating how free you are while the extent of your relationship with God is soaking in his presence and sitting in his lap. God loves you, but from here on out it's not as much about you as it is those God has called you to rescue. Remember, you aren't attempting to coerce God to love you more. That argument from the grace camp is true. However, the identifying mark of the dys-graced camp is to stop doing anything that smells of work, effort, contending or sacrifice and to simply focus on enjoying him. The appropriate response is to settle the love issue and to get moving, get working and change the world!

BEATING YOURSELF UP OVER SIN

In all my years, I've never seen the a collective shrug that I'm seeing in much of today's church regarding sin. The dys-graced movement is perpetuating this by promoting the idea that God is unconcerned with our sin and, over time, if people discover God's love in greater measure, the sin will auto-magically take care of itself. This is deception.

27  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29  If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. Matthew 5:27-29 (ESV)

No we shouldn't beat ourselves up in condemnation if we are truly repentant. However, the above passage sure seems more extreme than an internal, emotional beat down—and God sanctioned it. He suggested it. The reality of eternity in torment, darkness and maddening terror in Hell is so severe that we must go to whatever extreme necessary to avoid it.

Note, he didn't suggest following more closely or becoming a part of the family as they “do life” together. Nowhere do we see him unconcerned with sin. Quite the opposite, he makes it clear that continued sin will result in never-ending Hell.

Stop and think about this for a moment. Today many Christians would say it's ridiculous to think anybody could be free from lust. I've had people rebuke me for suggesting that. In fact, a “Christian” sex therapist scolded me in a long email after I wrote about this in a Charisma Magazine article and confessed that he actually prescribes sexual fantasy about other people to struggling married couples!

In fact, it's quite common for those in the dys-graced religious system to lambaste those who would encourage people to stop sinning. An angry retort often follows: “You can't put such a burden on them! It's not loving! Quit judging!”

Tell that to Jesus, who also famously once said, “Go and sin no more.”

With the high percentage of Christians regularly involved in pornography, and a huge percentage of pastors involved in the same sin, and with lust, greed, apathy, unforgiveness, gossip and other spiritual crimes rampant, how can we not shout from the rooftops, “Repent!” We need loving, zealous hellfire preaching in the church again!

The reality is that the Bible gives very clear guidelines regarding all of this:

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)

When is the last time you heard of a church obeying God's guidelines regarding immorality? It's extremely rare. Why? The infiltration of dys-graceful philosophies into the church. Do we not understand that it's a powerful expression of love to trust God's wisdom in the handling of sin in the camp? He desires redemption and he understand that it takes severity to get people there at times.

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. 1 Corinthians 5:4-5 (ESV)

That is love in action. It should not be done with a heart of retribution, but rather with tears streaming down our cheeks we should intercede passionately for them. We have no choice but to obey God and administer his prescription for their behavior.

TRUE GRACE WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE AND SHAKE THE PLANET!

True grace empowers us to do the impossible. Who wouldn't want to sign up for that? What a life we can live if we step into the current of the Holy Spirit's movement on the earth! As we trust God's Word, preach the truth and move in supernatural grace we will live miraculous lives that will pierce the darkness and topple demonic kingdoms…and rescue precious souls.

 

 

 

A basketball legend is suddenly gone, yet the world carries on mostly unconcerned about where people will spend eternity.

Retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in Southern California, according to a TMZ report confirmed by Variety and the Los Angeles Times.

To say that I'm sick in my spirit would be a woefully weak attempt to explain the internal trauma I'm experiencing right now. I'm certainly saddened by today's tragic news of the loss of Kobe Bryant, and my heart goes out to his family, his many friends and his fans who loved him. However, the source of my grief isn't limited to the loss of several people who entered eternity in a helicopter crash today. It's much, much deeper, more comprehensive and incredibly serious than even today's awful events were.

The crash comes one day after Bryant was passed by Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

James inscribed his sneakers with “Mamba 4 Life” and “8/24 KB” in gold marker before the game, showing respect for Bryant, an 18-time All-Star with the Lakers who is eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame this year.

Mamba 4 Life. Those haunting words adorned on the sneakers of LeBron James are almost too much to bear. Life would last less than one more day for Kobe.

I feel raw, and if I were to be completely honest, a little hopeless. For years I've been sounding alarms to a sleeping, casual, unconcerned and presumptuous people, mostly Christians, who refuse to adopt a fearful tremble in their spirits. Other men and women much more anointed, effective and reputable then myself have been doing the same, yet there are millions of people, both lost and saved, who have no sense of forever. Too many are slipping right into eternity and down into an indescribable, eternal fire.

The parties continue. The intoxication on entertainment is non-stop. Fame, wealth, notoriety, pleasure and greed drive our culture, and so many in the church have likewise been seduced.

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We need awakeners to arise in the world, those who will power through the false ideologies and theologies and excuses and accusations and shout, “Wake up! You are in great, imminent danger! The earth is about to swallow up the casual, unconcerned sleepers! Arise before it's too late and repent!”

THE ONLY REASON WE ARE ALIVE

The purpose of this sliver of time on the Earth before we launch into eternity is to glorify God and to advance his Kingdom. That's it. Please listen to me, we are called to be fiery, passionate lovers of Jesus every moment of our existence. As we live our daily lives, we must be consumed by God as we walk and live and pray in the Spirit. We go to sleep praying, we wake up praying, we worship throughout the day, we live holy. we battle the enemy and we advance with great anointing as God leads.

Yes, we are to enjoy our lives. Yes, our families are precious. Yes, we can fall in love. Yes, we can be entertained. Yes, we can relax. Yet none of this should ever compromise our unrelenting zeal for Jesus. We are aliens from another world with an other-worldly mission that should consume us every second of our lives.

Kobe Bryant and Eternity from John Burton on Vimeo.

DEADLY DOCTRINES

I won't take the space to debate theology right now. I'm not in that state of mind. I'm wrecked and undone. I'm provoked and irritated. Irritated enough to go for the throat of deadly doctrines that so many are selling their very souls for. I'm upset at those who have been seduced, but I'm enraged at the pastoral impostors who are selling this snake oil.

Without hesitation I'm shouting from the rooftops with everything I have that false-grace and eternal security theologies are seductive poisons that are leading untold numbers to Hell every day.

I believe it's quite rare for someone to enter Heaven. Of course, I could never confirm this, but just like you I have the right to an opinion. I believe following Jesus is a much more serious, sobering and costly endeavor than most realize, and I wonder if maybe one in 500 enter Heaven instead of Hell when they die. Point two percent.

The level of surrender that's required is well off most people's grids. They erroneously lean on the story of the thief on the cross to affirm their casual position and their belief that all it takes is a “prayer of salvation.” I don't believe any of us will ever understand the level of surrender that man committed to.

THIS ISN'T ABOUT KOBE BRYANT…IT'S ABOUT YOU

Kobe Bryant isn't on the earth anymore, but he is somewhere right now. We don't know where. You or I don't know what the level of his passion for Jesus was. This article isn't about him, however, It's about you. It's about me.

It's rare to find people who are on fire, who are surrendered, who are living holy lives and who are preaching raw, offensive truth. It's this truth that will wake the dead and provoke the sleepers to arise.

Eternity is upon us. 150,000 people die every day. It's 5pm right now. This means, since Kobe Bryant died, in the neighborhood of 31,250 more people have died and entered into eternity. Since I started writing this article about a half an hour ago, approximately 3,125 people have died. …30 minutes later, as I'm proof reading the article, another 3,125 people have died.

Is it possible that of the 150,000 people who die today that only around 3,000 will be with Jesus forever? 147,000, give or take, will be tormented non-stop as they are gripped with indescribable, maddening terror that will never end? Yes, it's absolutely possible. We can't know for sure, but the sheer possibility should crush us. You can see why I'm broken and heartsick. You can understand my holy rage.

WE NEED HELLFIRE PREACHERS

I'm done with the ridiculous, passive and biblically unsound messages of “love and kindness” that are choking out the fiery truths of Scripture. Of course, we need a greater revelation of the love of Jesus, but, man, how people have twisted that reality!

I implore you to read some articles that speak directly to this issue:

I pray LeBron James, who just passed Kobe Bryant for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring leader board, reads this. He was celebrating and enjoying the moment. For Kobe, the moment was a few short hours away from ending forever.

“I’m just happy to be in any conversation with Kobe Bryant, one of the all-time greats to ever play,” James said.

Bryant congratulated James via Twitter not long after his historic basket.

Kobe Bryant: Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother #33644 1.29M

Twelve hours later Kobe would be gone.

Where are you in God? Are you casual, presumptuous, apathetic? Are you allowing sin into your life? What about pornography? Lust? Greed? Unforgiveness? Hate? Unbelief?

Are you a walking furnace of intercession, or are you devoid of fire? Have you lost your first love?

Please don't ever presume you are safe because of a prayer you prayed. You are not. Salvation requires endurance and it must be worked out with fear and trembling.

Remember, you are not alive to fulfill your personal dreams. The selfish pursuit of dreams and the entertainment induced drunkenness must come to an end. You are alive for a single purpose—to serve the King and to know him intimately.

I implore you to wake up, to get serious and to embrace the call to martyrdom. Lay your life down, and do it now. We are all one breath away from leaving our physical bodies and stepping into forever.

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)

Todd Bentley has been deemed unfit for ministry. Why do so many fallen ministers reject a process of restoration that would reestablish their ministry?

Dr. Michael Brown and other extremely reputable Christian leaders released a report on Todd Bentley and his reported indiscretions. They took quite some time and carefully stepped through the process to ensure the final report would be accurate and written from a heart of love. I believe they accomplished this.

I've had the unfortunate opportunity to have a closer than normal view of public failure of three world famous ministers over the last few decades.

This most recent situation caused me to ask a simple question: Why is it so hard for fallen ministers to properly step through a restoration process? Would it not look much better for them and wouldn't the public be much more accepting of a return to ministry if they handled it rightly?

Jimmy Swaggart was warned to take a year off of ministry by David Wilkerson just before his infamous failure was made known. This was a striking prophetic word as nobody had any inclination that Jimmy was in sin and it was about to be announced to the world. As I sat in the pastoral ministry class at Jimmy Swaggart Bible College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Jim Rentz, the pastor of Family Worship Center on the campus of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries told us that they all truly loved Brother David. However, the ministry would collapse if Jimmy Swaggart stepped away for a year. They rejected the prophetic instruction and the rest is history.

After the failure, he was instructed to take a year off of ministry by the Assemblies of God, but he rejected that instruction by his authorities. He was back behind the pulpit in three months. In fact, he did everything but preach in the weeks leading up to his extremely rapid return.

From the Los Angeles Times on April 9th, 1988:

Jimmy Swaggart was defrocked Friday by the Assemblies of God after he refused a one-year suspension, asserting that a prolonged absence from the pulpit would doom his television ministry and jeopardize his Bible college.

The decision to defrock Swaggart for unspecified “moral failures” was made in a telephone conference of a dozen elders of the Assemblies of God church. It commenced upon receipt of a letter from Swaggart declaring that he could not submit to the terms of his penance and rehabilitation.

“We believe,” Swaggart told reporters later at his Baton Rouge, La., headquarters, “that to stay out of the public for a year would totally destroy the television ministry and greatly adversely impact the college.”

Assemblies of God leaders said Swaggart gave them no choice but to defrock him.

He's not the only one who rushes back into ministry after falling into immorality.

I believe there are many reasons for this. In fact, it would do all of us well to ask God if any of these reasons I'll be addressing below might be issues or potential issues in our own lives. It's hard, but still much easier to deal with character issues before failure hits then after.

Here's a handful of extremely deadly mindsets and problems that all of us, on either side of failure, should go to prayer about.

FEAR OF LOSS

When failure becomes public, suddenly everything the minister has worked for, sometimes for decades, is at risk of being removed in the matter of a moment. We see this clearly admitted to by Jimmy Swaggart as revealed in the LA Times article above. Their immediate reaction may not be to deal with the sin, but rather with the impending consequences. They can't imagine their entire lives being turned upside down, so they do whatever possible to mitigate damages and keep their ministry machine moving forward just as it always has been. They don't understand that losing the ministry is okay if it means saving their soul and guarding the name of Jesus.

DENIAL

Some will fully deny wrongdoing whatsoever, but even those who have been undeniably caught in indiscretion, they may minimize just how serious the sin is. I believe often times they have convinced themselves that it's not really that big of a deal. They deny the severity of the failure and can be quite irritated that others can't see it that way.  In fact, they will often presume that a simple confession eradicates the past sin. Well, if a confession is genuine, and if repentance is true, then the sin is forgiven. What is yet to be resolved, however, is their own heart, weaknesses and the state of their ministry. They may correctly deny that they are still in sin, but that denial doesn't end the restoration process, it starts it, and it very well may take years.

CONTROL

Many of today's most successful public ministers are alpha leaders. They are dominant. They are used to being in charge and the thought of answering to another is an irritant to them, if not totally foreign. They claim to do exactly what God is telling them to do, and they won't relinquish that role to any other. The problem is that God has placed human authorities in our lives and we don't have the option to cast them aside so we can do what we please.

When failure as come, the leader is no longer in charge. They would do well to humble themselves and trust the process that loving Kingdom authorities will lay out for them. They didn't ask to be in this situation. They wish they weren't, but the leader's sin put them there. Honor them in their selfless service by submitting to them.

SHAME

You can imagine how embarrassing a public scandal would be. Those caught in sin can be humiliated as it crushes any reputation they have built for themselves over the previous years or decades. It's easy to fight back against the charges in hopes of eliminating the shame.

Instead, we should be like Joseph who chose both shame and prison over sin when he ran out of a setup in the bedroom naked. Personal image protection can't be our motive. Holiness, purity and God's reputation must be drive our reactions to accusation.

DAMAGE CONTROL

A full confession and full surrender to a lengthy restoration process is counter-intuitive to someone who is attempting to salvage what he spent so long building, and that is currently being threatened and torn apart.

A better move would be to waive the white flag, to fully repent and to go through whatever process necessary to move through the restoration. They need to understand they have no leverage, no bargaining power. They are now in the hands of God, of the public and of leaders who want to initiate create a careful, thoughtful pathway of success for them.

WRONG MOTIVES

While many people enter ministry with a pure heart, over time their motives can change significantly. Anyone in ministry knows it's possible to be seduced by the promise of influence, power, finances or other temptations.

It's sad how rare it is to see preachers who have fallen into sin to be truly, visibly and deeply sorrowful for their sin. Where are the tears? Where is the brokenness? Where are those who admit they have nothing left and who are willing to spend the time necessary, as mandated by their overseers, to rediscover God, to get healed and to become qualified for ministry again?

RETALIATION

Some will boldly, without any concern for the people they hurt, strike back at their accusers by rejecting any accountability. They continue to build their ministry in the face of the entire world in hopes of smothering the accusations and silencing the accusers.

There is an arrogance that has overcome this type of leader. They have successfully driven through people their entire “ministry” and they won't let anyone stand in their way now. If they do, look out.

FINANCIAL LOSS

The threat of losing money and of having a lifestyle altered is a serious motivating factor for ministers caught in sin. They kick into damage control and do whatever they can to keep the dollars rolling in.

The thought of actually getting a job is a joke to them. Working a 9 to 5 is laughable. It would be a smart move for many of these fallen ministers to give up on the monument they have built and start working for another.

How powerful would it be to see someone like Todd Bentley humbly and honorably working at a pizza place or driving a bus instead of announcing yet another ministry endeavor in the face of scandal? Can you imagine how much more quickly people would be endeared to them? Their restoration would be fast tracked.

PRIDE

Of course, pride is sure to rear its ugly head if it hasn't been fully dealt with prior to failure. It's easy to react mindlessly if a spirit of pride is leading the charge. A collapse of a ministry very well may be an act of love by God who is doing all he can to alert them to their haughtiness and save their soul from Hell.

NO DESIRE TO REPENT

Some enjoy their sin so much, and have minimized its severity so completely, that they don't see themselves leaving that lifestyle behind. Some are addicted to behaviors and they can't imagine life without feeding that beast. Of course, people like this have no business being in any type of ministry. Instead they should be checking themselves into to counseling sessions, going through deliverance and seeking inner healing.

MINISTRY IS AN IDOL

This may hit home to many pastors and ministers. How easy is it to get addicted to the rush of ministry? Very. Every single one of us should immediately ask God to search our hearts and see if we are addicted to it. Do we love ministry more than God? Nobody would want to say yes, but we should yearn for the freedom that can come if it's true and we repent.

CONCLUSION

Those who have fallen into sin need to understand their restoration most often will take years, not months. Just step away and discover the lover of your souls again!

God is your provider, so financial loss shouldn't be an issue.

God's name is to be made famous, not ours, so a lack of influence shouldn't concern us.

We are called to die daily, so loss shouldn't be troubling to us.

This message is for all of us, public failure or no public failure. Do all you can to address the above issues and any other the Lord highlights to you. The enemy is working very hard to destroy ministries, ministers, their families and all who are under their influence. Any weakness such as pride or idolatry is an open door for attack. Close that door fast!

I learned a long time ago that the world doesn't need my ministry as much as I might think it might. God doesn't need me as much as I'd like to think either. I'm not minimizing the need for people to step out into their callings and ministries, but we must understand that being responsive to God, being repentant, growing in intimacy, embracing humility and dying to self is all much, much more important.

 

The uniting of two sinister forces, hyper-grace and hyper-love, has created a ferocious monster that is devastating lives.

The Coming ChurchI'm going to do something I've never done, because I believe right now, in light of the current false-grace/false-love crisis, the message of my book “The Coming Church” is an urgent one. I'm giving away the ebook version of this 300 page nuclear bomb of prophetic revelation for FREE. Download your copy immediately HERE.

I believe there are two evil, powerful and seductive demonic spirits that are roaming freely in churches all over the world, and people are celebrating them, promoting them and imparting them into millions of others. These spirits, dark and crafty entities that have already caused extreme destruction in innumerable people, are: hyper-grace and hyper-love.

The reason I call these two mindsets, philosophies and theologies “spirits” is simple: Satan has devised a scheme to deceive the church to such a degree that people believe themselves to be radical followers of Jesus while living in such a way that disqualifies them from an eternity with Jesus. Those infected by hyper-grace and hyper-love are at great risk, with many of them already surrendering their salvation and many others moving in that direction.

I was at Jimmy Swaggart's confession in 1988. I helped give leadership to a city-wide prayer movement with Ted Haggard approximately 15 years ago. My wife and I had a private meeting with Todd Bentley in Lakeland in 2008. All three had a powerful, undeniable anointing. All three failed dramatically. Hyper-grace didn't restore them. Hyper-love didn't remedy the destruction.

I remember John Bevere sharing the story of him visiting Jim Bakker in prison. John asked Jim, “When did you stop loving God?” Jim shocked John Bevere by saying, “I never stopped loving God. I stopped fearing God.”

Listen to the podcast…

HYPER-LOVE

For a closer view into this topic of hyper-love, read one of my more popular articles titled, “The Great Love Deception: A False-Love Movement Is On The Rise,” HERE.

When we encounter love, we will be presented with a view of God that is quite different than what we previously understood to be true. God’s love can be expressed in a very direct, uncomfortable way that breaks you and may even wonder how a loving God could act that way. God’s expression of love will often put you at risk, threaten you and trouble you. ~The Great Love Deception: A False-Love Movement Is On The Rise

I'll say it loud, clear and repeatedly until it's finally received: The love of God that results in glorious breakthrough and warm feelings, no matter how great the revelation, is not nearly enough to keep us calibrated with the heart and expectations of God. (Yes, contrary to the love camp, God absolutely has expectations. If you read your Bible, you can't miss them.)

I've heard from countless people, most of them wonderful yet deceived, that all we need to do, whether its in evangelism, in our personal relationship with Jesus, in ministry or in any place in our life is to focus on God's love. Reveal God's love. Preach God's love. Grow in understanding of God's love. Go deep in God's love. Meditate on God's love. Study about God's love. Minister God's love.

I'll be the first to say that I agree we have the glorious opportunity to do what they are campaigning for. Going deep in revelation of God's love will mark us, transform us and overwhelm us. God's love is powerful beyond description. However, it's not enough.

The fear of God is critical (and fear here doesn't always translate as reverence. It's also translated as terror in places.) We must embrace both God's kindness and severity. We must minister both.

Someone mentioned to me that God would forgive him if he starts dating a girl who wants to have sex prior to marriage. He knew that this sin was wrong, but he didn't believe it was a big deal, and God certainly wouldn't send anybody to Hell over it. He argued he could just ask for forgiveness later and all would be well.

While most might not be as brazen as this young man, millions would actually agree with him. The percentages of people who profess Christ while also living in sexual sin is staggering. Fornication, pornography, lust, adultery and other sinful lifestyles are a pandemic in the church. A misunderstanding of God's love has led to this. The bible is clear on just what appropriate love looks like in this case:

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 5:11-13 (ESV)

True love protects the flock, and true love trusts God's wisdom. True love obeys God even when it doesn't feel like the humanized love so many have adopted.

When leaders are the ones in sin, love demands we handle it immediately. Ministry must stop for that individual. Restoration into the ministry is not the next step. It's possible they will never step behind a pulpit again. That's okay. Ministry has become an idol for too many. True love will expose that in someone's heart and deal with it.

True repentance is so rare today. I am waiting for the day the failed minister is more broken over the lives he destroyed than he is endeavoring to start preaching again. That is true love in action.

HYPER-GRACE

My article “Five Marks of the False-Grace Message” is my most read ever, and the most scrutinized. Read it HERE.

We as Christians are not exempt from judgment or from the repercussions of sin. If we are in Christ, there is no condemnation, but if we are deceived by false theology into thinking we are in Christ, while actually living in disobedience, we are in trouble. We are not in Christ and there is condemnation. No salvation. The wrath of God remains on us. False-grace doctrine is eternally deadly. There are many people following Jesus today in an unsaved condition. ~Five Marks of the False-Grace Message

When you add the deception of  hyper-love to hyper-grace, a rampant theology that actually encourages Christians NOT to confess sin, you have a two-headed monster that is bringing widespread destruction to the church.

Those who subscribe to both deceptions promote God's love and forgiveness to the exclusion of his severity, and they believe God is indifferent to sin. This monster creates the perfect environment for sin to be nurtured, and to kill.

15  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:15 (ESV)

So, the response to sin is tepid. The threat is wildly minimized.

Instead of a severe and immediate response to sin, “love” and “grace” is enacted, believing all is well and that is all that's necessary to see happy restoration take place. This fallacy has put millions in the path of unrepentant ministers and has caused many of those millions to adopt doctrines of demons as a result.

When true love and true grace are in play, it looks very different than the passive, mild response we see today. People presume that we are all sinners (we are not) and that we all sin daily (we should not) and therefore the sexual sin, sins of leadership, unforgiveness, lust, greed and any other number of evil acts are minimized, deemed benign. In reality, unrepentant, unresolved sin is eternally deadly, especially for Christians.

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)

False-love coupled with false-grace will rip people to shreds spiritually. It's already seduced untold numbers of people.

I want to encourage you to read a bold, sobering and tear-driven message from Jeremiah Johnson regarding the recent controversy regarding Todd Bentley and Rick Joyner. It was written with much prayer and fasting, and the message it contains will have us all trembling in the fear of the Lord. You can read the message titled, “An Open Letter To The Body Of Christ 8/26/19,” HERE.

If you'd like more details on the current crisis, read a Charisma News article titled, “Revivalist Todd Bentley Accused of ‘Sexual Perversion' With Male, Female Interns,” that was released today HERE.

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.

THE RESOLUTION

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)

STAYING SAVED

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