The last part of this article will deal with different types of churches that millions of Americans are a part of—that are at significant risk. I challenge you to read this article in its entirety and prayerfully consider, in humility, whether you may have fallen into one of these at risk groups. I must also wrestle with this myself.
I’m disturbed. That’s not news, really, as I was created to carry the burden of God for the bride—his church. This results in a life of both continual joy and non-stop grieving—and never-ending bold calls of consecration.
The dissatisfaction with God in our nation has resulted in an attempted upgrade—a 2.0 version of God that meets our demands and fits the picture for the perfect leader. Always happy. Always nice to us. Always working to fulfill our desires. Not inconvenient. His personality matches what we expect in a God.
Exodus 32:7-8 (ESV) 7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’”
The previous verse reveals the motive of the people:
Exodus 32:6 (ESV) 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
The Hebrews were not satisfied with the current version of God, so their 2.0 upgrade was in the form of a golden calf—a god of their own design.
After all, God’s purpose is to perform as we expect him to, right? He is mostly interested in our desires to eat, drink and play, isn’t he?
My God, how far has the church fallen?
Entire movements in our nation have upgraded God to their 2.0 version, and have successfully seduced millions of Christians to abandon the old, outdated, ancient Jesus. The arguments of the emergents have infiltrated the main line church in America.
Before I continue, I have to make an important point. When bold truth is revealed that threatens the status quo of the church, it’s common for those who are invested in that system to accuse the messenger of being unloving or unconcerned for the bride of Christ.
How opposite the reality truly is!
It’s deep, troubling love that causes those who are broken over the compromised bride to sound alarms and shine lights to shake and wake a church that’s in extreme risk of living forever without the Bridegroom!
We must be concerned not for the personal desires and perspectives of those who presume to identify with the bride, but for God himself and his desire for those who are lukewarm or deceived to pursue him with passion!
Josh MacDonald from The International House of Prayer said on a trip to Detroit recently, “This might be shocking to you but 1/2 of the church or more will probably fall away in the end-times.”
That, my friend, is why we must risk offense to let an at risk bride understand just what is at stake. Many in the church will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day. That reality haunts me non-stop.
The False Bride
Do we understand that not everybody who calls themselves a Christian actually is? Again, that is why we have an urgent job as forerunners. The false bride, those who think they are Christians but are not, are at extreme risk of burning in Hell for multiplied trillions of years. Actually, forever. We cannot remain silent.
An immediate, and unbiblical response that many people have today is, “It’s not your place to judge.” How many times have you heard that defense from the secular camp? Now, we are hearing it from Christians when their pet sins, false doctrines or structures are threatened!
As Christians, we actually have a very serious responsibility to judge in love! It’s a part of our job description. Pure love of the bride will reveal all that hinders love!
We absolutely have a responsibility to urgently warn. To release messages of awakening. To talk about eternity, about Heaven and Hell. To call people to greater fervency. It’s love that demands this, yet so few are sounding alarms.
If I see a child wandering into oncoming traffic, I don’t really care so much about whether he chose to rebel by running into the street. I’m not thinking about his motives or his error of judgment. I just want to warn him so he isn’t crushed by a bus. Yes, it is that simple. It is that urgent.
At Risk Churches
With that in mind, I want to reveal some major church movements and expressions that are actually opposing the cross. The call of every single Christian is to hear God’s voice, to know him deeply and to intercede for the nations. You can gauge where the general church public is by calling a prayer meeting. The most elementary call for any Christian is to pray…and when Christians avoid the prayer room, it’s a revelation of just where we are as a church in this nation. Frightening.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all if most people in the church in America are unsaved.
Leonard Ravenhill said he doubts that 5% of American church goers are actually saved.
I heard someone once say, who had a heavenly encounter, that only 1 in 1000 who die on any given day make it to Heaven. Possibly 99.9% go to Hell. That wouldn’t surprise me, and it grieves me beyond what I can bear. God 2.0 would never support this statistic. He is benevolent and unconcerned with our hearts.
Mike Bickle said that the false-grace message, which is one of the leading causes of people being deceived as a false bride, is more dangerous than the issue of abortion and 54 million baby’s blood crying out in our nation!
Listen closely! This is serious! My God, help us! Masses of people who are convinced that they are saved are actually following Jesus in an unsaved condition right now! Many more will fall away in the future! Who will warn them?
Before we look at the problem churches, we must consider this: We have to resist the urge to presume the current Sunday driven church structure is the biblical norm. If we think we’re functioning normally, we’ll resort to minor adjustments to that system as repairs are needed instead of the destruction of it in favor of the introduction of the biblical church.
When we truly understand this, we’ll devote ourselves to the removal of man made systems and give ourselves to the development of the new.
Most people alive today have no idea what revival is. They have never experienced it. They have no grid for it. So, we default to what we have experienced and try to build on that faulty foundation.
In Matthew, the passage that deals with the money changers follows immediately after another type of church that we’ll discuss next—the Triumphal Entry Church. I find it interesting that these two stories are back-to-back, and that they are events that are closely situated to the drama of the cross. Simply said, the cross of Christ is not only foreign, but resisted.
Matthew 21:12-13 (ESV) 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
The money changers church is possibly the best representation of the current American/Western church. This is a serious issue. This is possibly the most severe and violent reaction from Jesus to a situation when he was still on the Earth.
Note how aggressively Jesus rebuked and resisted the money changers. Why is this?
They were fueled by a spirit of religion. Religion defined is man’s attempt to use God and his church to get what he wants. They were using the temple for personal gain. They were thinking about their own needs and desires instead of ministering to God. They went into the temple with the expectation of leaving with more than they entered with. The call to the church is for us to enter with an offering. A sacrifice. We leave with less than we entered with!
Today, prayer is nearly dead in the church. Additionally, even in churches that support prayer, if every service was cancelled and replaced with prayer meetings, there would be a mass exodus of disappointed people who aren’t getting their desires met. In Acts, the “wait and pray” mandate was resisted by almost everybody. Thank God for 120 who weren’t waiting for a call from a pastor, a pat on the back or the perfect ministry center for their family. They showed up, laid down their agendas and changed the world.
I’ve said it probably thousands of times and I’ll say it again. Our false expectations of what a church should be are resulting in a defiled structure. The church isn’t a house of teaching, a house of evangelism, a house of friendships or even a house of musical worship. It’s a house of prayer first and foremost. The other focuses are important, but secondary at best. Would you stay in a church that prayed as their primary activity? Or would you get frustrated and leave if your demands weren’t met? Is it possible you may be functioning in a similar spirit as the money changers? You go to church to receive instead of to give?
Pastors know most would not stay, so they have all too often traded in their mantle of prophet for salesman. The church product has been altered, spruced up and packaged in a way to let the people know that they will receive the best bang for their buck if they come to their church.
This is grieving, and must end! I am looking for pavement people—those who aren’t looking for comfort, but will hit the pavement and cry out to God as they did in 2 Chronicles 7!!
2 Chronicles 7:1-3 (ESV) 1 As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Long ago as a young, first time church planter, my wife and I would often take visitors out to lunch after the service. I’d do my best song and dance to sell the Revolution Church experience to them. I’d ask what they were looking for in a church, and more times than not I’d encourage them that we’d get right on that! We’d be sure to sell them the product they are looking for!
My brilliant wife would get so frustrated with me! She wanted me to stop the nonsense and simply communicate our vision. Boy, was she right! I was acting in the spirit of the money changers!
I slowly changed my sales pitch. Instead of letting people know how much they would receive if they chose our church for their home, I was reveal the challenge and the cost. I’d let them know that we all pray together 10+ hours a week. We give financially in an extravagant way. We are fervent and burning and calling people into a radical lifestyle—to the cross.
I’d actually try to discourage them from participating if they weren’t on board with the vision! And, surprise! I got more response from that call than I did trying to sell the perfect experience!
Now this is church!
I’ve witnessed first hand how people will flood into an environment that’s full of celebration and exuberance. I enjoy those environments too!
I’ve also witnessed first hand how those same people—those who are dancing at the altar, going after a happy experience, will get sad when the call to the cross is preached. It’s heart wrenching.
The focus of the people at the Triumphal Entry is similar to the focuses in the other churches we are discussing. They wanted their lives to be better. Blessing and personal gain were their motives.
The word “Hosanna” literally means, “save us now.” The people wanted a king who would give them life in a kingdom that would be personally fulfilling. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that desire—unless that’s the extent of the desire.
Matthew 21:8-11 (ESV) 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”
Notice how there was a measure of sacrifice by the people. They gave their cloaks. They got to work and cut down palm branches. They were exuberant in their worship. I can imagine a spirit-filled environment where people are at the altar dancing and laughing and worshiping. I’ve had that happen in churches I’ve led many times, and it’s great! Many churches are growing with this very positive, happy focus—but, the growth is, in my opinion, often driven by people who will not stay the course if the cross is preached with boldness.
See, Jesus was willing to save them now. However, his methods were nowhere near satisfactory for a crowd of people who were looking for life, not death. Jesus chose the cross as the means to answer their prayers. This crowd of energetic worshipers switched quickly to energetic crucifiers.
I’m all for wild, fervent worship. I am a proponent of continual joy. We should dance and smile a lot. However, we can’t dismiss the burden of the cross and the call to die.
Don’t presume a church is alive just because there’s an electric atmosphere. Human energy and desire can create quite an environment. Wait and see who remains when the call to surrender is high, and the alarms of intercession are sounded.
There is some relation between the Rich Young Ruler church and the Money Changers Church. In both scenarios, personal gain was the focus.
The Rich Young Ruler, however, possessed a sincere desire to follow Jesus. Notice how Jesus reveals this story is all about salvation:
Matthew 19:16-25 (ESV) 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. 23 And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
I am convinced there are millions of people following Jesus in an unsaved condition. Pastors have affirmed people’s commitment to Christ and, in turn, their eternal security, all while, in many of those cases Jesus knew the deeper truth—they were not willing to surrender all. I believe the sinner’s prayer has probably led more people to Hell than to Heaven. Handled wrongly it gives people false-confidence in their position in Christ.
How many go to church each week, raise their hands in worship, pay their tithes and “follow Jesus” in a very public way, the same way the Rich Young Ruler wanted to—but are actually not saved?
Even Billy Graham admits less than 2% of people who make decisions at his crusades over the years remain true followers of Jesus. Wow!
If you are struggling with this and the truth of your own salvation, that’s good! That’s healthy! I don’t know where it started being negative for us to wrestle with that. Today leaders don’t want to upset people with messages like this out of fear of accusation and ridicule. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling! The disciples in the above passage wrestled with it, and so should we. Let’s see what Jesus says next:
Matthew 19:26-29 (ESV) 26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
The most controversial thing I’ve ever said just may be this:
I give myself about an 80% chance of making Heaven.
Is there any part of the Rich Young Ruler in me? Is it possible that I could fall away? It would be arrogant for me to presume that I’m exempt from the great falling away. I wrestle with Jesus and with my own heart—and I love that process.
Again, it’s healthy and necessary to work that out day by day. And, we need pastors and leaders who won’t skirt that tough topic out of fear of losing people who would rather be coddled. It’s possible that the best giver and most vibrant member of your church is on a track that leads to Hell. We can’t stay silent on this issue.
When you understand how deeply God loves you, it’s wonderful to wrestle with the difficult topics. It’s invigorating!
It’s critical! So many will be shocked to enter Hell. We see this proven in scripture:
Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
I’ve written on this previously, so I’m going to be extremely short with this concluding point.
The coming church will be marked by:
- Everybody praying as their primary ministry
- Everybody ministering to God
- Praying in the Holy Spirit will be continual.
- We will be together most days of the week to pray, receive apostolic instruction and move out in unity to fulfill that assignment.
- We will arrive at church full and leave empty—after we’ve poured out to God.
- Friendships will be forged in the foxhole more than at potlucks and picnics.
- The cross will be central.
- Repentance will be continual.
- Freedom will be overwhelming.
- The bar of expectation will be high.
- It will be apostle led more often than pastor led.
Lets see an Acts 2 & 2 Chronicles 7 church arise!
The change that’s coming to the church is absolutely unnerving and fearful
First: The following article may provoke the burning inside of you to rage. Join us for theLab Internship and help establish a model of fire that will reform the identity of the church. $100 discount now available. www.revivallab.com
What I saw was clearly a picture of the church…clearly in my spirit, that is, because my intellect was confounded. It didn’t make sense.
Before I share the vision, and some very interesting confirmation and insight, lets look at the current model of the church:
THE CURRENT CHURCH
There’s no way I’m going to attempt to present a comprehensive picture of the church with all of its varying streams and complexities. The point I’m focusing on is the simple, common experience that the current structure and function of the church presents.
- Teaching driven: In most churches, the Sunday service revolves around the message, the teaching.
- Sunday only: The average attendance for a church goer in America is less than two services a month. Most of those services occur on Sundays.
- Predictable & scheduled: Each service and ministry of the church is mapped out and scheduled, and while there is often some flex, you can usually have a pretty good picture in your mind of what to expect during each event. Several songs of worship, a few announcements, receiving the offering and a 30-40 minute message is what most have come to expect.
- Mostly natural: While some churches do experience a measure of supernatural activity, the overwhelming experience is logical, natural and humanly comprehendible.
- Locally focused: Most churches have a vision that is limited to themselves. Their local church is where most of their energy is focused.
- Seeker focused: Even churches that aren’t identified as “seeker sensitive” tend to be intent on attracting visitors and they gear their ministry to do so.
- Personal gain highlighted: God blesses and that message when presented in appropriate context is a necessary one. But, most churches highlight personal benefit while keeping the bar of personal surrender and commitment quite low.
In my encounter, the vision I saw was shocking and quite mysterious. I have had many visions of the church, of reformation, but this one was markedly different. It sure didn’t look like a vision of a church, but it immediately felt like one.
I was standing in an apocalyptic looking environment. It was dark and weighty. In front of me was an absolutely massive crater. God immediately revealed to me that I was looking at the soon coming church.
Really? It sure didn’t look like a church. My initial analysis was that what was coming wouldn’t be defined by what is logically communicable. The building and steeple and Sunday experience was gone, and what replaced it was frightening.
My spirit was provoked and raging, but I knew that those who were more logical than spiritual in their life experience would most probably resist what is just over the horizon.
1 Cor 2:14 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.
Note, this doesn’t mean the unsaved, it means those who are naturally minded. That’s a lot of Christians. Here’s what Paul says next:
1 Cor 3:1 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready…
The crater that I was looking at looked alive. It was moving and churning. There was glowing red lava coursing throughout.
The closer I got to the edge of the crater, the church, the greater the fear of the Lord was, the more ominous the vision was. I couldn’t casually participate as the shaking and trembling rocked my whole being as I approached this invasion of Heaven into Earth.
Then the vision ended.
I shared this vision in a class at theLab Internship and one of the interns about came out of her skin.
She just watched a National Geographic special on craters on the Earth!
She shared some dramatic revelation about the coming crater based on what God was revealing through my vision and the program she watched.
- The asteroid that caused the crater was huge. When it impacted the ground, the top of it was still 30,000 feet up—that’s where jets fly!
- When it hit, a pillar of fire instantly exploded and reached from the surface of the Earth up into the heavens.
- Balls of fire shot out from the pillar and scorched regions far away from the point of impact.
- A cloud of smoke then rose and actually surrounded the entire planet. The entire Earth was covered by the residual impact of the asteroid.
- Celestial elements, parts of the asteroid that don’t exist on this planet, were implanted into the ground. Heaven was brought to Earth.
- Earthquakes rocked the Earth all around.
- Molten rock filled the crater.
THE COMING CHURCH
We won’t be able to define ‘going to church’ the way we do now.
God is coming to reform, to crush structures of old for what is to be introduced very soon.
The force from Heaven, the celestial asteroid, is going to impact the church, and most pastors and people will resist with everything that’s within them. Man-made support systems will be removed. People’s financial and relational structures will be threatened by this strange, new spiritual invasion.
The human wisdom and natural common sense that has been involved in the development of the current church structure will not be usable in the new. Those who walk by sight are in danger.
We will have to rely on a new set of senses as we, in faith unlike any we’ve ever allowed ourselves to embrace, begin to walk blindly into a fearful new church reality.
- Encounter driven: We will gather together with the primary goal of having an overwhelming encounter with an invisible God. The burning of God will engulf us day after day. A 2 Chronicle church will be the normal reality.
- The 24/7 church: The thought of only gathering in the crater, in the lava of God’s shocking presence, on occasion, a few times a month, will be laughable. Our entire lives will be empowered by this tent of meeting and our energies will be spent gathering the desperate masses into the fire to experience an otherworldly spiritual encounter together. Most days of the week we will easily make room to be in the church, on our faces, trembling under the weight of God.
- 2 Chronicles 7:1 As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.2 And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord's house.3 When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
- Unpredictable: Finally we will begin to know a God who is limitless in expression. Every moment with him, in our corporate gatherings, will be unlike any other. The fierce burning will never stop, the myriad of emotions we experience as God hovers over us will surprise and overwhelm us continually. A gathering of burning ones will result in fire balls of worship that lead to sharp swords of prophetic teaching that shake the people to their core. Wave after wave of fiery shock and awe will never disappoint. Services will be open ended and will overlap each other as room is made for an uncontrollable Holy Spirit to orchestrate the events in his wisdom.
- Supernatural: We will take the leap from mostly translating God into our natural language and understanding to allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us out of the natural realm and into a supernatural culture that can only be understood via our spirits. The lost will finally have hope as we stop trying to give them logical reasons to ‘get saved’ and we start introducing them to a supernatural God that they have been craving to meet.
- Regionally focused: The level of impact that the rock from Heaven will bring will not be confined to a local church. Pastors and leaders will stop focusing mostly on developing their own local ministry and will instead shelve much of what they did in the old church model and focus on serving the regional mission. The local will give way to the regional as leaders ‘lead’ the people into encounter, into regional mission and into the greater vision of revival and reformation. The spirit of Pharaoh that focuses on personal goals and keeping people locally focused will give way to the spirit of reformation and Kingdom advance that was manifested through Moses and Joshua.
- God focused: Instead of attempting to ‘grow the church’ by focusing on visitors and seekers, the leaders will be fully devoted to a 2 Chronicles 7 strategy of compelling God to show up in extreme, weighty power. The pillar of fire that connects Heaven to Earth is the new goal. In fact, an empty church is a better goal than a full church if we understand that passage of scripture correctly! Many people will leave the church as a more serious devotion to Holy Spirit activity is given, but the supernatural invasion of fire will result in fire, smoke and earthquakes that will rock cities and nations.
- Personal surrender highlighted: Instead of compelling people to ‘join our church’ through the promise of personal gain, we’ll highlight the cross. The cost. The Rich Young Rulers will leave while the end-time remnant will gain confidence in leaders seriousness for revival and will flood in and serve with military level commitment. You will know leaders have turned the corner toward the new model of church when they actually raise the bar so unapologetically that those with money and influence are allowed to go. How many RICH RULERS are in our churches because leaders have compromised the call, just so they don’t lose their money?
The new church will look nothing like we see now. We must learn how to live in the Spirit if we hope to embrace this uninvited yet deeply needed invasion from Heaven. Everything is at risk. Will you embrace or resist this reformation?