From Moriah Ranch: Watch as I break down just why the local church may be the most significant threat to revival.
The church is identified in Scripture by the region it is in, not the corner on a street. It's regional. This means, the pursuit of revival must be regional in focus. In fact, the revival most likely will ignite in an area of town that's not your own. Will you abandon the local effort for the sake of the greater regional work?
As a lover and fervent supporter of the local church, it pains me to admit that often times it is in fact the church that stands opposed to revival in a region. Spirit-filled, revival focused churches can easily become resisters when the pursuit of revival in a region threatens their own pursuits.
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Threat #9: Seeking an Enhanced Life
People generally want God to make their current lives better. They want an enhancement, an upgrade. However, the demands of revival include the willingness to embrace a fire that won’t warm your flesh—it will consume your flesh. Evan Roberts called for people to gather—but not all people—only those who were willing to make a total surrender.
Revival doesn’t enhance lives, it crushes them. If we attempt to advance with a semi-surrendered people, the fire simply will not fall. It’s not that blessing won’t come…but there are a lot of people who are looking for an enhancement to lives that are actually on agenda to be broken, not built up.
We don’t want life as we know it to become better! We have to lay that life on the altar and trade it for the cross!
Threat #10: Lack of an Immediate Response
We must develop a ‘drop everything ‘culture. An ‘all hands on deck’ culture.
There will be regular calls to prayer, calls to action… monthly, weekly, that will require a ‘drop everything’ culture.
Joel 1:14 Consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly.
Gather the elders
and all the inhabitants of the land
to the house of the LORD your God,
and cry out to the LORD.
When prophetic instruction is received, the entire region must know about it right away, and the people must respond.
If we are mostly focused on our local, personal ventures, we’ll stay disconnected from the greater, regional mission. The response won’t be what is necessary and revival will most likely never come.
Watch: Does fear grip your life? You can be free! Don’t let fear of loss rob you of the fire of revival!
Threat #10: Fear of Loss
If we fear loss of our our free time, finances, comfort and loss of command of our own lifestyle, schedule and plans, we will resist revival fiercely. Demonic fear must be replaced by a raging, shaking fear of the Lord!
The greater our fear of God which comes through intimacy with him, the less our fear that’s initiated by the enemy will be.
We won’t fear loss… we will understand that loss is a part of the process. Don’t protect what God may want to touch in your life.
Isaiah 8:11-13 (ESV) 11 For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
The catch is this: If we fear God, the result is boldness and intimacy and power and confidence.
If we have a spirit of fear, the result is timidity, reclusion, weakness and insecurity.
Proverbs 19:23 (ESV) 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
The Local Church is a threat to revival? Watch as I continue looking at the threat of the local church.
We must serve the mission of the local church with passion while also contending for a revolution that will help set the stage for a revival in the earth.
John discusses ten clear and present dangers to revival breaking out in a region. If we can diffuse these threats we will be on the verge of a massive city-wide outpouring!
The spirit of the age is overwhelming the church in ways we may not have considered.
As is necessary when addressing an ultra-sensitive issue, I will make some qualifications on the front end:
God is without question, and I will declare without apology, passionately interested in blessing his children. It is fully appropriate to give a measure of attention to the wondrous process of discovery of God’s abundant life, overwhelming benefits and blessings.
That being said, I now must move on to offering some analysis on a hidden crises.
THE SPIRIT OF ABORTION…IN THE CHURCH?
As a prophetic messenger, a primary driving force of my daily life is to reveal and help destroy any barriers to Kingdom advance and the revelation of the cross and resurrection of Christ. In fact, we all must have our eyes wide open to this disturbing movement that is overtaking the church and stand in unity against its advance.
Now, of course, the thought of the spirit of abortion in the church is potentially offensive and certainly provocative. It’s a bold statement to say the least.
It’s important at this point to understand our discussion isn’t about all of those other Christians or all of those other churches that just don’t get it. We must look inward. Yes, we have to boldly and humbly ask ourselves the question, “God, are the same spirits that drive the abortion movement also driving me?”
Check out this quote which highlights the issue quite well. Notice how this person affirms killing a threat to other “good” endeavors:
Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. Abortion is profamily, prolife, moral, and good. For many millions of women, abortion has meant getting on with their lives and continuing to meet their responsibilities to themselves, their families, and society. PATRICIA W. LUNNEBORG, Abortion: A Positive Decision
Is it possible that we in the church are also more focused on getting on with our lives at the expense of God, the church, our mission, the Word and other people?
It’s shocking to me how Little League, school, family vacations and rest and relaxation are not looked at as threats to our personal freedoms, but a call to the prayer room is.
With that in mind, here’s another qualifying statement: The demonic abortion strategy is multi-faceted. It includes spirits of murder, violence, hatred and many others. While we as Christians may not be driven by those spirits, there is one spirit that has a foundational, comprehensive assignment. This spirit is what has infiltrated the church, and it’s, in my opinion, a key reason why we haven’t had the authority to eradicate it from its assignment of murdering babies.
This spirit has one key focus, one goal as it ministers to the minds and hearts of people:
People are focused primarily on their personal experience.
You could also call it selfish ambition.
Check out this passage of scripture:
James 3:13-16 (ESV) 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
Selfish ambition is demonic. Jealousy, which results when we focus on our own personal experience, is also vile, earthly and demonic.
When a woman is carrying an unwanted baby, her focus immediately shifts to her own personal experience. Her ambition. Her dreams.
The call to lay down her life for another, to make a great sacrifice, to change her priorities, to embrace a life of struggle and inconvenience for another person all fall on deaf ears. After all, it’s her body and she can do what she wants with it, right?
One method of destroying a concept is by diluting its meaning. Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living. AYN RAND, The Ayn Rand Lexicon
The unwilling mother has rights! It’s her life. It’s her time. It’s her dreams. It’s her decision, and in the case of abortion, she makes the decision for self instead of for another. Her personal experience was instrumental in her decision.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
So, how does this affect the church? This issue is impacting the church and Christians in very deep, disturbing ways. It’s not a minor issue that’s affecting a few. It’s a major problem that’s a primary driver in the very fabric of Western Christianity.
We have to understand that so much of preaching today has been fashioned to appease people looking for a positive personal experience. This must end.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (ESV) 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Do you know how difficult it is to find churches that preach the cross? Cost? Death? Surrender? The personal experience must be positive and without much cost if we hope to fill the pews. The same thing happened at the cross. The place Jesus died was empty except for those killing him and those closest to him. Where were the crowds who were looking for a message to satisfy their itching ears? They left when the message included death. When you preach the cross the masses will run and you will be left with those who are the closest to you and those who are out to kill you.
“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
“The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
“I believe that there are too many accommodating preachers, and too many practitioners in the church who are not believers. Jesus Christ did not say, ‘Go into all the world and tell the world that it is quite right.' The gospel is something completely different. In fact, it is directly opposed to the world.” ~C. S. Lewis
What should send us to our knees is that it’s the very gospel of Jesus that is being rejected for the sake of the pursuit of personal blessing and benefit! There are preachers in churches with crosses on their steeples who refuse to call people to the cross at the altars! A minimized cross results in Christians that are only artificially vibrant as they pursue blessing, but dead and dying inside—and this has eternal implications!
It’s time for us to respond positively to what many have called negative messages; these piercing, demanding, shocking negative messages of death at the cross were born through God himself and delivered to us in the form of the Jesus.
“I doubt that more than two percent of professing Christians in the United States are truly born again.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
Just like the woman who wants to remove the threat of a baby for the sake of her own personal experience, we in the church are all too often looking for relief and blessing instead of carrying a heavy cross for the sake of others! The refusal to sacrifice time, money, energy and our very lives on a daily basis results in a prayerless, self-centered, quasi-Christian that’s driven by the question, “What’s in it for me?”
Have you noticed that the biggest offerings tend to come when the emphasis is on what we can expect in return? The biggest conferences tend to be those that highlight personal breakthrough. The most appreciated sermons are those that reveal the blessings we can expect as Christians. I often wonder what would happen if we held a conference titled, “Come and die.”
We live in a day when we unwittingly embrace a deadly, self-centered spirit of religion.
Religion is: Man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.
When we don’t get what we want out of God our the church, we have an opportunity to accuse, to get angry, to place demands and to flee. When Jesus was here, the spirit of religion killed him because they didn’t get out of Jesus what they wanted.
The crowds were crying out, “Hosanna!” during the Triumphal Entry, which literally means, “Save us now!”
Jesus had of course decided to do just that—but not in a way they wanted.
In the next passage Jesus goes into the temple to overturn the moneychangers tables. Why? Because they were using the church for personal gain! The spirit of religion was in the temple! We are to enter the church with the expectation of leaving with LESS than we entered with, not more! We aren’t to use the church, but we are to bring an offering and to be a living sacrifice for the sake of others!
Then, that spirit of religion ended up killing Jesus. Jesus didn’t give them what they wanted in the way they wanted it. So, that spirit of abortion, of murder, took care of business.
Theocentric simply means we exist for God rather than He for us. Egocentric praying is our attempt at managing and directing God to accomplish our will instead of His. If “covetousness is idolatry” then attempting to harness the power of God to the priorities of self-centeredness is SIN! ~Harold Vaughn
The emphasis today seems to be on God alleviating our struggles instead of joining in on the great end-time struggle!
“If a Christian is not having tribulation in the world, there’s something wrong!” ~Leonard Ravenhill
Again, God loves to bless his children, but we must discuss the approach:
I absolutely love to give my kids presents. I come alive! My son Jet’s birthday was yesterday and I had so much fun watching his face beam as we opened presents, and as Chuck-E-Cheese led out in singing happy birthday. I also couldn’t wait to get him home, after he thought all of the presents had already been given, and see his face as he opened the shed to ride his bike…only to see his brand new bike sitting there! What a moment! Later that night we were laying on the hammock under the stars together, and he very casually and thoughtfully said, “Yep, this was about the best birthday ever…the best Chuck-E-Cheese birthday ever.”
Now, compare that to other days when I take the kids for a routine shopping trip to Walmart. From the moment they hit the door their sad, frustrated faces reveal what’s coming next. “Dad, please, can I have…”
No. No. NO! Over and over again. The tears come. The sadness increases. Their carnal nature is showing in radiant brilliance! Their consideration is not for mom and dad, our focus on saving money or anything else. It’s on self! You see, I often bring my kids with me when I go out just because I want to be with them, and to their credit, my wonderful children often want to be with me too! We love being together. But, something happens when the focus turns to self. What’s in it for me?
When threats to your dreams or your time or your personal endeavors come, how do you react? When preaching cuts instead of satisfies, how do you respond? The answer to these questions can go a long way in revealing what spirit you are driven by.
When the threats came to Jesus, he didn’t resist—he died. He surrendered for the sake of the world.
However, when the threat of a new King being born was discovered by Herod, he was troubled. The threat to his own personal experience, his reign as king, resulted in the spirit of abortion entering him.
Matthew 2:13 (ESV) 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
Matthew 2:16 (ESV) 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.
We see this pattern repeating itself throughout history. Massive resistance comes when a threat to personal experience arrives. It emerged, for example, when the African-Americans threatened a segment of society’s idea of racial purity. That resulted in the Ku Klux Klan and the horrific murders of many innocent people.
We saw it during the holocaust as Hitler was threatened by the Jews and other groups. Again, millions of innocent people died for the sake of one demented person’s overzealous aim to ensure his personal life experience was protected.
Today, terrorism is on the rise and murder is the strategy of choice for many who refuse to allow their life experiences to be threatened by other cultures.
This demonic spirit is incredibly crafty. The call of Christianity is to die for others and the call of this demonic spirit is for others to die for us.
Of course, the act of murder isn’t the strategy of choice for those who are threatened in the church—or is it?
Matthew 5:21-22 (ESV) 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Jesus equates anger to murder. In the church the manifestation of anger usually results in gossip, which is a deeply destructive spirit. Gossip results in dark hearts manifesting outwardly against those who threaten them. The same accusation that the abortionists hurl are used by the uncrucified, angry Christians—”You are threatening my freedom and my rights!”
No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother. MARGARET SANGER, Woman and the New Race
When we become Christians we gain freedom but we lose our freedoms.
Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV) 16 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
It’s also possible to take on the offense of others. We have to be very careful! If we allow others who have had their own personal experiences threatened to lure us into a inappropriately merciful, sympathetic position, we are at great risk of taking on their offense and embracing anger against the threatening person. We saw Absalom do this as he took on the offense of others who didn’t get what they wanted out of King David.
Again, we are to expect a sharp sword, a high bar, a challenging life and a call to die to everything, including our own opinions, for the sake of others.
The spirit of abortion fights for personal rights no matter what the cost to others is. It resists the preaching of the cross with a vengeance. The cross threatens our very life!
Repentance must hit our churches. We have to return to the cross and refuse to buy into the demand for messages that tickle our ears. It’s time to once again be OK with deep inspection of the Lord into our hearts.
It’s this type of life that is a manifestation of deep, selfless love. This love will result in a great authority against the mission of murder against the millions of precious babies.
If we embrace the same self-centered spirit that drives the abortionists while at the same time crying out against them, we will be powerless. But, if die to self we will have the authority to defeat the spirit of abortion, murder and death that has overrun our nation.
Men tell us in these days that sin is what you think it is. Well, it is not. Sin is what God thinks it is. You may think according to your own conscience. God thinks according to His. –John G. Lake
People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. –D.A. Carson
It is perilously easy to have amazing sympathy with God's truth and remain in sin.– Oswald Chambers
Revival is a serious threat to the prevailing church structure as it will put at risk every comfort zone we know.
It’s important to understand that it’s a religious spirit that is the force behind anything that might resist a costly revival.
Religion is: man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants
Jesus threatened the church of the day—so the church killed him. They got what they wanted.
Today, it’s normal for many to attempt to use God or to use the church to get what they want. They want life to be comfortable and convenient. They want the church experience to be a certain way. They might shop around until they find the spiritual experience that meets their desires and demands. If people aren’t careful, they can unwittingly embrace a spirit of religion while minimizing the cost, the cross and the mandate to surrender all for the sake of Kingdom advance.
As revival approaches, here are some of the issues we will have to wrestle through:
- All traditions are at risk: Traditions have the power to void the Word of God (Mat 15)! It’s no wonder God is so intent on resolving this issue. The coming reformation will impact many traditions that have become signatures of church as we know it. It’s imperative that we don’t resist the change that will affect the days and times we gather together, the style of worship we’ve become familiar with, programs, etc. The coming church will look nothing like the church we know today. Kim Clement said recently, “The church as we know it is being abolished.”
- Pastors will have to face the risk of losing people, money and their reputations: The pressure for church growth, and the temptation to compete with other pastors and churches for the best ministry, is pretty extreme. Additionally, drastic change to the familiar church experience will be a serious threat to pastor’s salaries and retirements. The fear of loss will hit many. If people who are unwilling to buy into such a drastic change and such a zealous experience decide to leave the church, their money leaves with them. Further, if people leave the church, accusations of pastoral failure will start to fly. Reputations will be lost. The question is, is a move of God more important than security and position?
- Local church missions will have to adjust: When revival lands, it will probably land in a single location. That location most likely won’t be our specific church. This means that local church leaders will have to have open hands and and be quick to release the people in their church to participate at a high level in the revival. The pastors will need to lead the people out as they join forces with the greater city church. When I went to the outpouring in Lakeland, Florida I was saddened that no church marquee gave any indication that they were cancelling some services so they could participate in the revival. Not one. I wonder if the threat of that revival caused them to lock everybody down and keep them far from that tent where the fire of God chose to manifest.
- Investment will increase radically: The time, money and focus required to steward a revival is off the charts. Cares of life must finally be dealt with and preparations to spend day after day and dollar after dollar must be made. Lesser priorities will have to take a back seat to the coming ‘all hands on deck’ season.
- Acts 2:46 (NKJV) 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple…
- We will have to release control: The Holy Spirit is going to manifest in such bizarre and extreme measure that those who are nervous about such environments will be tempted to shut it down.
- Acts 2:12-13 (NKJV) 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?" 13 Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine."
- Most people don’t like change, and that is a problem: Leaders tend to shy away from alienating the people they are leading, but a crisis is coming. The change that’s coming to the church will cause most to vehemently resist. Will we as leaders respond to God or man? Peter, interested in man ahead of God, unwittingly renounced the great change and cost of the cross, and Jesus gave him one of the strongest rebukes in scripture. Peter was embracing religion, the desire to use God and eliminate the cross. This religious disposition is a serious risk to revival.
- Mark 8:31-33 (ESV) 31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
- Sharp yet love filled prophetic messages must be preached: In Acts 2 direct and prophetic teaching was a direct result of the outpouring. The days of sloppy grace and tickled ears must come to an end.
- Acts 2:36-37 (NKJV) 36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
The systems that we have developed are about to be destroyed as God paves the way for the coming church. The revival that’s nearly hear will be both great and terrible. It won’t be a series of nice meetings, but rather it will break a lot so that the love and abundant life of Jesus can be felt in much fuller measure.