Should Christians wear masks or would that be an indicator of a lack of faith?
My most recent article titled “Offended by Faith: The Pandemic has Exposed an Unbelieving Church” has created quite a stir among the pro and anti-maskers. Interestingly, the article really wasn't about masks at all. It was about faith.
In fact, I made it quite clear that we should use both wisdom and faith in these treacherous times:
Wash your hands. Wear a mask if called for. Go to the doctor if needed. Do your due diligence. But don't put your faith in such things.
It never ceases to amaze me how triggered people zero in on the narrative they want to attack, all while blowing past qualifiers and clarifiers that would address their concerns if they only took time to read them.
I can't tell you how often people become unglued just by the title of one of my articles. They arrive at conclusions that are unfounded because they didn't read past the first sentence.
Spoiler alert: I wear a mask if the situation demands it. Here's a pic to prove it. I'm not a card-carrying anti-masker. I'm definitely not a pro-masker either.
I'm watching the carnage pile up all over social media as a result of verbal assaults, judgments on morality and ethics, crazy conspiracy theories (and some possible true ones) and accusations that pro-maskers are killing America and anti-maskers are killing grandma.
It's ridiculous to point nasty, crooked fingers at the uncovered calling them selfish, unloving and reckless. Not only is that statement generally untrue and the motive fairly disingenuous, the logic behind it simply doesn't work. It's equally ridiculous to presume those who wear masks are fearful by default and surrendering to the anti-Christ. No, these aren't masks of the beast and no, America isn't going to become communist because we wear them.
I would encourage you to read an article I wrote on the spiritual reality surrounding the 2020 crisis. Yes, I do believe witchcraft is behind it, but wearing a mask doesn't mean we are surrendering to that spirit.
This bizarre conversation between pro and anti-maskers that has overtaken our culture must be refocused onto what is most important.
UNBELIEF HAS BEEN EXPOSED
I don't think anybody can deny that the entire world has been shaken by the virus. The purpose of my recent articles on the subject is to awaken the shaken to the supreme opportunity to shine our lights into a desperate and dark situation.
Be honest. Christians are worrying, nervous, fearful and scrambling to do whatever they can to be safe from this invisible threat. This isn't true of all Believers, of course. It's true of a whole lot of them though. I don't know how often I hear blood-bought Believers urgently warning people to wear masks, to socially distance and to lock down while rarely hearing them proclaim the power of the blood that bought them. I'm dumbfounded.
The lack of a faith-driven spiritual response is a problem. If our joy, peace and confidence in Jesus has been impacted, we must respond in repentance. In the midst of a threat, abundant life is still ours. Joy unspeakable and full of glory. Peace that passes all understanding. We are more than conquerors, the head and not the tail, above and not beneath. We trample on serpents and scorpions. We have authority over all the power of the enemy. That will preach.
The sad reality is that a lot of Christians simply don't believe that Jesus heals or protects today. Some believe that he can, but they doubt that he will. Miracles are rare. Wonders of old can be taught in Sunday School but they really don't occur today. They boldly defend the power of the enemy by confessing that nobody is safe, Christian or non-Christian.
What many Christians call faith is little more than hope. Hope is posturing ourselves by sitting back and waiting for God to do something we'd like him to do. Faith is altogether different. It's active. There's an attitude driving it. It's demanding. It's expectant. It's militant.
Vibrant faith results in people speaking to mountains, shouting from rooftops, casting out demons, decreeing the Word of God and refusing to allow common sense, human wisdom or anything else to stop them.
Faith crushes fear. Faith destroys worry. Faith demands results. Faith pleases God.
Instead, too many default to hope (or hopelessness) and live pretty much the same way as the unredeemed do. Truths of Scripture are somehow dismissed as unreliable:
17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-18 (ESV)
The sick may recover would be a better translation according to the belief system of many Christians.
In fact, they tend to get quite mad at those who stand in faith on the Word of God, especially regarding healing. Accusations of “holier than thou” and “spiritual pride” are hurled at those who simply state they believe Jesus paid the price for sickness.
There are many reasons people are not healed. This article isn't the place to dive into a deep discussion on the topic. Suffice it to say the reasons include one or more of the following: unbelief, fear, sin, lukewarmness, receiving communion in an unworthy manner, not understanding our authority, curses, lies we've adopted, ignorance of the Word, misunderstanding timing, lack of fervency, trusting in doctors more than God, etc.
Another reason is what I call the treasure map. Healing is a hidden treasure that often must be sought after. The Holy Spirit will lead us as we discover truths, repent of wrong thinking and work to grow in faith. The treasure map is the unknown. It's the journey. There may be no sin, no doubt and no clear reason why sickness remains. So, we seek, pray and stand as God progressively brings revelation to our situation. Those who are sick should not live in condemnation, but they should be earnestly seeking the treasure of healing with joy and great expectation.
If someone is not healed, it doesn't necessarily mean they are less spiritual. It simply means they are somewhere in the middle of their journey on their personal treasure map.
That being said, please hear me. Faith demands that we stare sickness in the eye and fight. We can't allow the “chances” of healing or our own failed experiences with sickness to cause us to doubt, to stand down or to divert to other more natural remedies. No! We decree truth! We stand as warriors! We declare that Jesus took all of our sickness on the cross. We proclaim that healing is ours! It's this type of boldness the world needs to see!
THE CALL TO ALL
If you don't remember anything else in this article, please remember the following. This is what is burning in my spirit. This is the real purpose of my writing.
Declare the goodness and power of God! Stop declaring the deadly power of a virus!
The church should be commandeering the media, social and otherwise, with faith-filled messages to those who are haunted by fears of sickness and death!
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19 (ESV)
We are anointed to proclaim good news, liberty and healing! Are you doing that every day on Facebook and Twitter? You must! Especially during this opportunistic season!
The world should be witnessing a supernatural explosion as we radiate the power of the Holy Spirit and decree with passion that peace, freedom and healing can be theirs!
Christians, stop with the faithless drivel about the power of masks or the threat of COVID. Ok, sure, make your point and be safe, but please stop giving the enemy more power than he already has. Speak life!
If the world wants scientific data on whether masks are beneficial or not, they can do their own research. What they need from you and me, however, is powerfully anointed, deeply profound and supernaturally charged revelation! Preach, preacher!
The call to all is to rise up in fearless faith, with smiles on our faces and fire in our eyes as we proclaim to a worried and dying world that Jesus has conquered death, hell and the grave! There is a love that eliminates all fear!
This is the message. This is the cry of my heart. We should be preaching Jesus!
Where are the social warriors who will share verses that ignite faith? Where are the Believers who truly embrace the healing power of Jesus? Where are those who refuse to be shaken by the enemy? Where are the firebrands who will push back the darkness and laugh at the threats?
This is your mandate, Christian. This is your call. It's time you stop repeating all of the news stories and reports that spread fear. It's time to burn hot with the truth of the Word and show the world just what it is to be a sign and a wonder in the earth!
Originally published by The Stream.
Why are American Christians afraid of a virus? The answer is sobering.
Scrolling through Facebook I happened upon a simple yet interesting post. One of the comments was even more intriguing.
“Show me the verse in Scripture that says God heals everything but coronavirus.”
A sharp-witted respondent typed: Matthew 13:58.
58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:58 (ESV)
That's the sobering answer I alluded to. Instead of boldly standing in authoritative opposition to a wicked threat, the common reaction of so many of today's American Christians seems to be unbelief.
Those who are to be driven by fearless faith are instead shaken by the winds of the world.
AN OFFENSIVE MESSAGE
56 …Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him…” Matthew 13:56-57 (ESV)
A lack of faith most certainly results in a lack of mighty works. Matthew 13 makes that clear. The preceding verse reveals the root of their unbelief: offense.
In our current crisis I'm stunned and saddened by the reaction of supposed Christians to the few who are rallying the troops to arise in faith and healing. These cries for the church to confidently confront the spirit of the age and to believe without wavering in the healing power of Jesus are being met with resistance. How can that be?
Where did this man get all these things? That's the question being asked by doubters when people of great faith proclaim the Word of God. Just who do you think you are? What type of hocus-pocus are you communicating? Don't you realize how scary this virus is? Your lack of concern is foolish. Your so called faith is dangerous to our nation's health.
It's true, we are living in a day when many in the church are quicker to trust in science and medicine than in the Word of God. Facts trump faith in today's secularized society.
It would do us well to learn from the test that King Asa failed.
12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. 2 Chronicles 16:12 (ESV)
The next verse displays very clearly what this strategy of healing results in:
13 And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign. 2 Chronicles 16:13 (ESV)
If we allow fear to drive us, we will have no choice but to defer to the physicians in our search for health and safety. Fear destroys faith. The only way we can approach God for healing or anything else is by faith.
Unfortunately, it's obvious that many in the church haven't learned from King Asa. Calls to stand in confident faith are rejected as a nonsensical threat to their safety. What they don't realize is a refusal to believe sets them up as easy targets of the enemy.
A SUPERNATURAL CHURCH
It truly is shocking that many Christians today don't live in the supernatural realm that is so obvious in the Word of God.
As Believers, we have access to mind-boggling benefits that few take advantage of. In fact, many fully reject these spiritual realities. They become offended when faith-filled Christians challenge them. “Where did you get all these things” is the question they ask. Where did you get these bizarre beliefs that are contrary to common sense?
The Bible. That's the answer to their strange, humanistic question.
17 …“He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” Matthew 8:17 (ESV)
The truth is that the blood of Jesus is sufficient for coronavirus. If we are afraid and default to human wisdom as we fight against it, we will lose. There will be no protection beyond what science can provide.
If we live as supernatural people and expect miracles and wonders to surround us, we will thrive no matter what plague may befall us. Healing, authority, power, freedom, joy and absolute victory are all ours as Believers! Fear, worry and defeat cannot stand against mighty, supernatural faith!
The church should be sounding a universal proclamation that Jesus heals and that fear can't stand! The world should be amazed and provoked by a joyful, fearless and faith-filled Church. Life for Christians is radically, wildly, supernaturally different than those who haven't surrendered to the Lord. No weapon formed against us can prosper!
Instead, so much of the church is nervous, afraid and campaigning for worldly potions, provision and protection.
LIVING IN A NATURAL WORLD
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV)
Wash your hands. Wear a mask if called for. Go to the doctor if needed. Do your due diligence. But don't put your faith in such things.
Our faith is in the miraculous. It's in the invisible wonders of a loving, omnipotent God.
Don't get offended when someone challenges your response to the threat of a virus. Instead, admit your unbelief, repent and determine to live in a realm entirely different than where the world lives.
As Christians, we should be experiencing supernatural power and incredible miracles regularly. The authority we have over the enemy is extreme. The promises of God open up a world of wonder to all of us who walk in the mysterious realm of faith.
To think we are limited by science and human wisdom is silliness at best and blasphemous at worst.
It's time for the supernatural, fearless church to arise!
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
Originally published by The Stream.
We are all hungering for a powerful move of the Holy Spirit. What we do when reports of revival come will determine whether it continues or not.
11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. Mark 16:11 (ESV)
What will we do when we hear about a move of God in our region? Will we reject it, resist it, doubt it—or will we run and see and serve with passion?
I need to begin by explaining my personal views on revival. I must do this so you understand what my perspective is when I deal with false reports of revival and how to respond to true moves of God in a region.
I understand this is nothing more than an opinion, but I don’t personally believe the United States has experienced legitimate revival since Asuza. We have experienced various very powerful moves and visitations of God in places like Brownsville and Smithton, and some might argue that the impact is greater than I am understanding. I have been powerfully transformed by such moves of God and I in no way am attempting to diminish what happened there. The reason for the distinction is to bring clarity to just what we are contending for. I believe a move of God must shift history and change the spiritual landscape and culture of the region it is in in order for it to be called revival. Simply, revival radically changes entire cities and nations.
There are over 19,000 cities in our nation and none of them are experiencing the biblical normalcy of revival. God has done all that is necessary for us to be living in revival as a nation every day of our lives. Revival isn’t a special kiss from heaven as much as it is God’s church stepping up and living according to the grace and power of the Holy Spirit that has been available for over 2000 years. I’ve often said that we should be trembling in the shock and awe of the presence of God day and night. Churches should be full of people who are praying and groaning in the Spirit day after day. Salvations, healings, signs and wonders should be normal not unusual.
I believe the following passage describes clearly what is biblically normal—and what a sleeping, naturally minded church would consider unusual:
14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs. Mark 16:14-20 (ESV)
The eleven were overtaken by unbelief and hardness of heart. Sound familiar? They were driven by the same attitude that drives many today when reports of a move of God in a region are given. Just as they didn’t believe those who had experienced the resurrection power of Jesus, today’s church is quick to scrutinize, dismiss and reject such reports with a very suspicious spirit. More on this in a bit. Let’s continue looking at a movement of revival.
Jesus appeared to the disciples, rebuked them and gave them an all consuming mandate—Go all over the world, preach the gospel to everyone, cast out demons, speak in tongues and heal the sick. The promise of protection was given to them if they obediently responded to the orders of their Commander. Harm will not come to them.
This is revival! The American church needs a rebuke! We need a visitation of Jesus and we must say yes to every command of God to carry and release life and healing to the nations!
THE TRUE HEART OF A BEREAN
11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. Luke 24:11-12 (ESV)
Belief and expectancy will result in running as a result of any news that God has moved with great passion. Doubt will always result in resistance, staying away and embracing suspicion.
I often hear about the concept of being a Berean from some who may be considered heresy hunters. Those who are deeply suspicious of any report of a fresh move of God often attempt to disguise their unbelief and mocking spirit with a religious cloak. They say, I’m just being a Berean.
People driven by a false Berean attitude hear a report of a possible revival or outpouring and their immediate response is to discredit it. They pull out scriptures that supposedly renounce any new move of God and declare the participants to be misguided at best, heretics at worst. Others may take a less direct approach by holding back, waiting to see if it passes muster.
That, my friend, is not being a Berean.
I agree that we must be based on the Word of God more intentionally than ever in history. There is too much foolishness out there today in the name of revival. The answer is a people who are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and firmly grounded as students in the Bible.
However, I don’t agree that our immediate response to a potential fresh outpouring of the Spirit of God should be suspicion! This attitude can affect even the most godly of people. It’s all too easy to immediately doubt that such a move could be anything more than overreaching hope, hype or sensationalism.
I propose we all have the heart of a true Berean.
Before the stop at Berea, Paul preached about a powerful fresh move of God at Thessalonica. I believe heresy hunters are actually more like the Thessalonians than the Bereans:
2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. 5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” Acts 17:2-7 (ESV)
There was an urgent and immediate rejection of the report of resurrection power. Let’s contrast this with the pure hearts of the Bereans:
10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. Acts 17:10-13 (ESV)
This is a powerful passage of scripture!
The Bereans were more noble than those in Thessalonica. This is an important point! Why were they more noble? When they heard the report of a powerful, transforming, new move of God that would change everything in their lives, they received the word with all eagerness!
Their response was not scrutiny, unbelief, jealousy or resistance. They were excited to hear the news! They were so impacted by the potential of such a report that they immediately dove into the Word with the hope of confirming—not disproving—the life altering revelation!
But then, in verse 13, we see the unrelenting Thessalonians actually traveling to Berea to gather people to them in opposition to what God was doing there.
I hope you are truly ready for revival. This is what it looks like. The resistors will show up in force.
The question that needs to be answered is, which camp will you be in? Are you a scrutinizing Thessalonian or an eager Berean?
WHAT ABOUT FALSE REPORTS?
As I have already stated, I don’t believe we have seen an actual revival in over 100 years. I also am very careful not to label something revival or an outpouring if it is not. I want to be a true Berean, searching the Word and honestly determining whether something is an outpouring—or if it’s something different.
The reason this is important is because our response to it will be shaped by what is happening, or is reported to be happening.
If there is a very real fire in an apartment building, it makes all the sense in the world to put all of our resources, time and energy into an immediate and urgent response. Lives are hanging in the balance! But, if there is a false report about a fire, people and equipment are diverted away from availability into crisis response—where there is no crisis. Legitimate emergencies will then be under resourced due to the false report.
When I moved my family to the Detroit, Michigan area seven years ago I did so for only one reason—to prepare for revival. Detroit was poised for a move of God and my assignment was to serve with everything within me.
Shortly after arriving, my spirit began to be somewhat disturbed as I heard truly amazing, godly people announce that “revival is here” or that it is near or that it can’t be stopped.
I began to wonder just what definition of revival people were using. I knew before I ever decided to move to Detroit that revival was not near, but we had everything we needed as a region to get to work and give ourselves to the long, costly process of building a city fire. Unfortunately, the premature reports of revival were compromising the efforts. If revival was here or near why would we need to gather the laborers? Now we can relax and wait. Premature reports can kill a move of God that requires extreme participation from the city church.
The false report was that revival was there. The true report was that revival was possible.
Now, I agree that we might be able to say at times that the spirit of revival has arrived, or that there is a greater grace to believe for revival. We might be able to announce a local move of God or even an outpouring in a church. But, revival is a very special word. It must be reserved for something so gloriously cataclysmic in the spirit and in the natural that even muttering it causes a holy hush.
While in Detroit we experienced some absolutely stunning moves of God that are completely undeniable. We saw a visible mist of God’s presence three separate times. After a prophecy about a very unusual manifestation of God’s glory landing on a young lady, people were rushing to see gold dust coming up out of her scalp—just a week later! Another young man had anointing oil manifest on his hands during most every service for an extended season. People’s lives were being changed dramatically. Yet, there is no way I would even begin to presume we were in revival—but the spirit of revival was definitely there (meaning, God was moving in a way on a small scale that would be representative of full blown revival).
While some great friends are laying down their lives and contending for revival to this day in Detroit, the nation has not yet heard of the Great Detroit Revival. It hasn’t come yet. The masses have not come to Jesus. Healings are not skyrocketing. Churches are not full. The culture has not changed to one that is marked by the fire and Spirit of God.
Please understand an extremely important point: When a report of revival is sounded, we must dive in and serve—not because we immediately agree that true revival has landed, but because there are people who are hungry for revival gathering together—even though they may be premature in the announcement. If I hear about a move of God in my region, it’s critical that I, as a member of the city church, offer myself as a log on that fire, ready to be consumed for the sake of a greater outpouring. We can’t determine whether we will support it or not on the front end. Give it time and God will make it clear whether it’s going to continue or not. I gave six years of my life to the call for revival in Detroit. I never felt revival was near in the whole time I was there, even when God was moving powerfully as he did on multiple occasions. But, for a time I did feel we could see it come within a few years if we gave ourselves rightly to it. I ultimately realized that my season was done and others would have the honor of contending further.
The opportunity definitely does remain for Detroit and any other region in our nation to experience revival. This is good news! Detroit is one out of 19,000 cities who have yet to see it come. So is Branson, Missouri.
I am quite undone by the recent meetings led by Marrio Murillo in Branson, Missouri. Of course, I’ve been wrecked by the power of God, the intense messages and the incredible number of healings and salvations. Last night’s meeting was probably the most powerful I’ve been to in many years. It was indescribable.
But, that’s not why I’m undone. After moving to Detroit for the sole reason of seeing revival come to that region I was honored to be a part of meetings led by Brian Simmons that were similar to what I’m experiencing in Branson. If a Christian could experience Déjà vu, this would be it.
Every night for a month my team in Detroit and I cancelled our own agendas, most church services and other activities and gave leadership to the prayer emphasis at the meetings. I knew in my spirit that these services were designed by God to be catalysts to a revival that would impact the entire Detroit region—and the nation. I can’t even begin to explain the hunger and passion that I was experiencing. God was moving and revival was a legitimate possibility—if only the church would reorder their lives, show up and contend with everything they had.
In the midst of those meetings a haunting prophetic word was given: If the church of Detroit doesn’t respond to the costly call of revival, God will move on to Chicago.
Unfortunately unbelief and a Thessalonian spirit brought the outpouring to an end after just a month. Suspicion and resistance manifested and the eagerness to serve with passion was lacking.
Six years later, in the first meeting I attended in Branson, Mario Murillo mentioned that he felt one of a few cities on the clock for revival now is Chicago. He had my attention. He also mentioned that God would move on from any region that doesn’t compel him to stay. The similarities between the two events and the two words was stunning.
The question is clear no matter what city on the earth you live in: will the church of the city respond with great passion and pay the great cost to see revival come? If it’s a false report, how will we respond? Will we jump in and contend with people who may be overstating the experience yet are zealous beyond measure for the Holy Spirit to pour out? You do realize that gathering together with a handful of like-minded people and praying without stopping can result in legitimate revival no matter what true or false reports are flying, right?
We must gather together as the regional church. I’ll include the last instructions that we as a nation have received for revival—the instructions that led to the last true revival in the United States, Asuza:
Gather those who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God’s promises. Hold daily meetings. ~Evan Roberts
No matter the report, we should be doing this in our city. Stadiums should be filled with people who are crying out and contending day and night for revival.
And, keep in mind, when revival does come it will impact a city, not a single church. That’s the primary distinction between an outpouring and revival. This means that the church of the city must be unified and in position to serve the regional move of God. A supernatural, holy event in a church is a good thing, but not until the city church gathers and the entire region is rocked by the glory of God can we presume to call it revival.
We must not be like the Thessalonians. We need true Bereans who will eagerly receive the news of a fresh move of the Spirit of God and respond in force.
City shaking revival lies in the balance.
Watch: Find freedom from fear as you launch out into a life of powerful faith!
Ten Threats to Revival Part 11 – Unbelief
You can do this! You are called to live a ridiculously supernatural life!
You must believe! Go after the impossible! Be like Noah and live in such a way that causes people to mock!!!! You are called to live a miraculous life!
Understand that most people will not believe. In order to be in the mix of the end-time revival, you must have great faith. The more we pray, the more we believe. The more we hear his word, the more faith! Faith comes by hearing!
If we don't believe, this results in a life on hold and revival cannot flow through us. Faith results in action that will shake the nations. You are called to be a giant in the faith!
Luke 18:7-8 (ESV) 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
Watch today’s video and discover how critical a rapid response is as we pursue revival together!
TEN THREATS TO REVIVAL PART 4 – TAKING A WAIT AND SEE APPROACH
In today's message John reveals the next threat to revival – taking a “wait and see” approach. If we wait to see if a reported move of God is indeed something significant, it will most likely never happen. Skepticism and unbelief will quench the Spirit before he barely begins to manifest in our regions.
We can't wait for revival to break out before we participate at a high level. Revival will be facilitated through us, and we must gather together with others and contend with passion until it ignites.
Waiting for revival is a threat to revival, but being radically invested in the costly pursuit of revival will see it launch with great power!
A spirit of entitlement is false-faith. God is calling us to move ahead boldly as people of great faith!
Last night’s teaching is ready for you to listen to now here: http://media.johnburton.net/5885592
- Threat 8. Unbelief
1. You can do this! You are called to live a ridiculously supernatural life!!!!!
1. You must believe! Go after the impossible! Be like Noah and live in such a way that causes people to mock!!!! You are called to live a miraculous life!
2. Understand that most people will not believe. In order to be in the mix of the end-time revival, you must believe!!!!! The more we pray, the more we believe!!! The more we hear his word, the more faith! Faith comes by hearing!!!
1. Luke 18:7-8 (ESV) 7 And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
2. Frank Bartleman wrote Evan Roberts and asked him how to launch revival.
1. So, Frank did it and Azusa exploded and changed the face of Christianity!
2. Mike Bickle prophecy: “I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity in the earth in one generation.”
3. So what is Evan Robert’s prescription?
1. “Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God’s promises. Hold daily meetings. ”Evan Roberts
2. Reading this simple yet non-negotiable prescription for revival reveals that the church of this nation is far from ready!
3. Evan Roberts reveals one of the elements of revival is simply to believe God’s promises.
1. In Detroit there’s false belief over this region: Entitlement
1. When people don’t get what they presume they are entitled to, rage ensues.
2. The right to work legislation resulted in violence in Lansing.
4. It’s stunning how little the church believes in the supernatural. Healing, freedom, power and abundant life are tragically rare.
1. 1 John 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world- our faith.
1. The call of revival is the call to overcome the spirit of this age.
1. It’s a HUGE, HUGE mission, and if we struggle in our belief, we just won’t get it done.
2. We must be Believers, not hopers.
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3. Matthew 13:57-58 (ESV) 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
1. I experienced this when I was traveling to Detroit… faith was high!
2. Now, who comes with raging, burning expectation of fire every Sunday?
3. If we expect to only have another service, that is what we will get—fire requires fervent, active faith that won’t relent!!!!
1. Most people think faith results in waiting… waiting for God to do something.
2. Not true!!!!! Faith is simply belief that something is to be done!!!
3. We go after it!!!
4. Faith is an action word-when we have it, based on a revelation of who we are in Christ, we rock the world, we work with passion, we burn continually!
1. Start a Tribe!
2. Pray continually!
3. Move! Advance! Do! Go!
1. Mark 9:17-24 (ESV) 17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
2. Jesus doesn’t take kindly to lack of faith!
3. Now, get this… the kid was going to die if the father didn’t have faith!!!! This is why he said ‘help my unbelief’… it wasn’t casual!! There was a point of crisis… he had to believe to save his son!!!!
2. Matt 9:20-22 (NIV) 20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”
22Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.
1. Faith is an action word! After the revelation comes the action… it takes both to receive what is rightfully ours.
2. It wasn’t only a hope and a prayer… it was a revelation and response.
3. Mark 4:23-25 (ESV) 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” 24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. 25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
3. 1 Tim 6:12 (NKJV) 12Fight the good fight of faith
1. We don’t wait for things to happen, we cause things to happen!
2. Matt 21:21-22 (NKJV) 21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done. 22“And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
3. DO what was DONE to the fig tree. Faith is an action word!
4. Hebrews 6:11-12 (ESV) 11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
2. Oh God, I really want a great job in the ministry- I know you’ll come through for me… it will happen as you have divinely designed.
1. Well, have you submitted a resume?
2. Have you studied to show yourself approved?
3. Have you done the work?
5. I believe one of the most critical areas of both crisis and opportunity has to do with identity.
1. A spirit of insignificance- listen to it!
2. Wrong identity absolutely annihilates faith and ministry.
1. It has people hiding from their enemies in caves.
2. It results in taking a casual approach to ministry.
3. It keeps people at home or relaxing when their comrades are on the wall in the church.
1. Check out this report:
1. We had revival (I mean, full-tilt, make Brownsville Toronto and Lakeland look tame) … we were about to ramp it up… and suddenly most of the people who make it all “work” had “other things to do” —I wept.
2. If we believe, we will advance, work and expect… we won’t pull back or be casual.
3. If there’s someone who’s casual in their pursuit, you can know they are having a faith crisis.
2. If we have a wrong understanding of our identity, we tend to participate in the church or in mission so it can make our life better instead of walking in the power of an accurate identity using our lives to make the church better.
3. George Barna- Americans consider survival in the present to be much more significant than eternal security and spiritual possibilities.
6. Faith is what others will see as evidence that God is who we believe he is.
1. Heb 11:1 (NKJV) 1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
1. It’s when we tithe before we see the money to pay our bills.
2. It’s when we step into the impossible.
3. It’s when we pray for the sick.
4. It’s when we obey the Word!
1. Heb 11:4 (NKJV) 4By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice
2. Heb 11:8 (NKJV) 8By faith Abraham obeyed
3. Heb 11:27 (NKJV) 27By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.
4. Heb 11:29 (NKJV) 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land
5. Heb 11:30 (NKJV) 30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down
6. Heb 11:32-34 (NKJV) 32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
3. A barometer of our position in Christ has to be whether we can hear or not!
1. John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
2. This is the only way we can believe!
4. The only way to be united with Christ in the pursuit of revival is to hear and believe!
6. We can't just wait around in doubt, it's time to move!
7. We MUST believe!
1. Mark 16:14-18 (ESV) 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
The church is crying out for a new thing, yet when something new manifests a common reaction is suspicion and unbelief.
What’s your first reaction when you hear about gold dust, gold teeth, oil manifesting on people, healings, angelic visitations, trances, Third Heaven encounters, etc.? Joyous belief or skeptical reservation?
Let’s have an open discussion about signs, wonders, miracles and manifestations. It’s a burning hot can of worms that is only going to get hotter and messier. God is going to offend our expectation and our intellects as he invades our comfort zones and destructs human controlled systems.
EXPECTATION VS. EXPECTANCY
God is moving the church from a place of expectation to an culture of expectancy. What’s the difference? It’s simple yet profound. An expectation has a pre-determined outcome attached to it. For example, I have an expectation that the sun is going to set tonight. There’s a clear and definable reality that should certainly come to pass.
Expectancy is quite different. It’s open ended yet very powerful and all consuming. It’s often ambiguous, nebulous. What we sense is coming goes beyond our ability to define and contain it in our narrow constructs.
So, to have an expectation means that we impose limits and boundaries on what we want to see done. But, expectancy opens us up to anything and everything that God might want to do. We have a resounding “yes” in our spirits even though what’s coming is well beyond our realm of understanding or imagination.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV) 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
At Revival Church and theLab School of Fire we’ve been experiencing undeniable wonders such as gold dust appearing on people, anointing oil coming out of people’s hands, a visible mist of God’s presence, angelic activity and more. I’m sure there has been a gut reaction of doubt and skepticism by many who read about it.
I believe God is lovingly testing and preparing us for the greater glory that’s coming. He wants to see how we will react when he does something new and unusual. Will the first reaction be skepticism and suspicion? Will we attribute what’s happening to him or his arch enemy, Satan? Or, will we be fueled by such expectancy that faith and belief is our immediate reaction?
Check out this email I received this morning from a close friend who’s a student at ministry school:
I must admit I've been extremely skeptical about your Facebook reports of gold dust. People so desire the Lord move in their midst they will imagine many things. I mean, what's the purpose of gold dust anyway. Apparently, you can't collect it and take it to the bank. It just disappears after a while.
People can react to a song or phrase in a fleshly manifestation when nothing is actually happening. Although I think we must stay on guard against such things, something happened this morning that has radically shifted my thinking.
During admin time before moving into the prayer room this morning, a woman in the back of the room started laughing uncontrollably. After a short time of ministry to her, they took her out in the hall and continued with announcements.
A minute later, a young woman across the aisle from me started trembling and weeping. The girl next to her said, "There's oil dripping from her hands." I looked and could see it with my own eyes. See laid hands on a sick woman and received healing. I must repent of my unbelief and skepticism. This girl seemed like one of the most introverted and timid I've ever met. Here with my own eyes I see the Lord manifesting something I don't understand through her.
O Lord help my unbelief.
7 Key Points to Consider
ONE. What’s the purpose?
Often people will doubt that a manifestation is a result of God moving because they can’t connect the dots. They can’t answer the “why?” What benefit does the gold dust have?
I personally think we’re overcomplicating this issue. Most realities that we experience in life don’t have a purpose, they just are.
What is the purpose of smoke at a campfire?
What’s the purpose of the smell of spring rain?
What’s the purpose of the sound of thunder?
There is no real purpose. They are simply evidences of fire, of rain and of lightning.
Gold dust, for example, is an evidence of God manifesting in glory in a certain location. That’s all.
But, that’s really not all. We know that evidences result in some pretty remarkable things—people get radically saved as they see God move!
Acts 2:43 (NIV) 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
Acts 2:47 (NIV) 47 ..And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
TWO. Should we ignore or deny what is clearly happening?
I’ll admit, when I hear from people who doubt that what we are reporting is true, my first reaction is, “I’m not sure what to do with your skepticism. I saw it happen.”
I mean, if it’s happening right there in front of us, with many witnesses, should we ignore it? Deny it?
If we allow unbelief or skepticism violate the clear evidence of God’s glory we are in a lot of trouble. God’s manifest presence will be gone that fast.
We also have to be careful not to jump to conclusions that are fueled by unbelief when we hear of God moving unusually somewhere.
Mark 16:14 (ESV) 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.
Matthew 13:57-58 (ESV) 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
Someone sent me this message today on Facebook. He couldn’t deny God’s presence or his manifestation:
Back in 2009, I had oil appearing to flow from my hands and gold dust appearing all over me. Most of the time this happened in my home. People were amazed when they visited my home…mostly because of the presence, NOT the manifestations. Well, I haven't had those happen in years, but I got so excited when I read your recent posts… not because of the manifestations, but because of the presence…and because of what's coming to you NEXT!"
THREE. Why do we immediately presume unusual signs and wonders are the work of Satan?
This point is more serious than we might realize. Yes, its absolutely true that Satan will deceive people through deceptive signs and wonders.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 (ESV) 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
Note that this passage emphasizes that it’s specifically those who are perishing, those who don’t love truth, who will be deceived. Those of us in love with Jesus should not be fearful or nervous when signs and wonders start happening!
If we are deeply in love with Jesus, we will easily identify the lover of our souls when he’s in the room. The anointing will overwhelming, and when the signs and wonders follow, there can be no denying that it’s God himself who’s manifesting.
The reason this point is very serious is because of the one sin that is unforgivable—blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
Those in the suspicion driven heresy hunter movement often creep very close to the edge of this sin—and certainly some have gone over that edge.
Mark 3:28-30 (ESV) 28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Wow. That is sobering. The fear of God should rock us. They were saying Jesus was manifesting demonic power when in fact, of course, he was demonstrating the power of God.
FOUR. Should we not be more concerned when miracles aren’t happening?
Mark 16:17-18 (NIV) 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well."
Is it possible that we have churches full of unbelievers? I’m not talking about those who haven’t repeated a sinner’s prayer. I’m talking about church goers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Yet, their unbelief results in no supernatural power in their lives. No demons driven out. No healings.
The expected atmosphere for a Christian church is one of signs, wonders and miracles. They are the result of belief. It’s that simple. Check it out:
John 14:11-12 (NIV) 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
It seems to me that a more accurate conclusion would be that the enemy is the key influencer when we don’t see signs, wonders and miracles. Demonic and humanistic conditioning results in unbelief. Unbelief ensures nothing miraculous will happen at all.
FIVE. The Bible doesn’t contain a record of every manifestation or Kingdom activity.
A lot of people get tripped up here.
Scrutiny causes them to shun anything unless they can validate it through a duplicate situation recorded in scripture.
The question shouldn’t be limited to, “Is this exact manifestation recorded in the Bible?” The question should actually be, “Does this manifestation line up with the truth of scripture, and is there anything in the Bible that would forbid or shoot down what we are experiencing?”
John 21:25 (NIV) 25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
Have you considered that some of what is happening might be a part of what Jesus did that wasn’t contained in scripture? Have you also considered, based on John 14:12 that we are to do MORE than what Jesus did?
Take ten minutes and consider everything in our Christian culture that isn’t found in scripture. Do you really want to throw it all out?
You’ll have to stop using the word Trinity. There will be no celebration of birthdays, Christmas or Easter. We would be forbidden from tapping our toes during worship. There would be no electric guitars or saxophones in worship. The only valid spiritual dreams and visions would be those that are exact duplicates of dreams and visions in scripture.
God giving specific, personal answers to prayer would not be allowed, unless God also revealed that in scripture (He’d have to mention the exact city he wants you to live in and the exact place he wants you to work in the Bible, for example.)
What about paid children’s pastors? Media ministry pastors? Television ministry? Wearing crosses around our necks? Nope.
SIX. What about all that the Bible does contain that we aren’t experiencing?
An even easier way to address the issue raised in the previous point is this: Why aren’t we experiencing all of the dramatic signs and wonders that are in the Bible?
Cover to cover we see wild and bizarre manifestations and miracles of God.
A pillar of fire, a cloud, parting of waters, blind eyes opened, the creator, walking on water, manna, a burning bush, angelic encounters, trances, Third Heaven encounters, and on and on and on.
I believe we must repent for living below the bar of supernatural manifestation in our churches and have an increased expectancy for the unusual, strange and overwhelming manifestation of God today.
SEVEN. The Bereans weren’t skeptics.
There’s a Pharisaical spirit in a growing group of people that are masking themselves as Bereans.
The Bereans weren’t skeptical. They weren’t suspicious. They weren’t nervous. They weren’t divisive.
People often say that the Bereans were marked by their study of scripture—and that study was to police any activity that would violate the Word of God. People presume they were self-appointed protectors and “officers of the law.”
Most common day, self-described Bereans are filled with unbelief, suspicion, doubt and a spirit of division that’s used against anybody that threatens their personal, narrow interpretation of Scripture.
Those people are not Bereans, not by a long shot. Many of them venture very close to the Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Others are simply arrogant and mean spirited. Others are simply deceived. In fact, they could better be defined as Thessalonians.
Acts 17:1-9 (NIV) 1 When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ," he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women. 5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus." 8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.
The Thessalonians heard Paul talking about Jesus and about the supernatural miracle of resurrection from the dead. This was a problem for the Jews. It bothered their theology. They then adopted a spirit of accusation (a demonic spiritual gift) and declared that the message was not of God and that they were causing trouble.
So, the moved on to Berea. Here we find true friends of God and people who were expectant, open to a fresh move:
Acts 17:10-13 (NIV) 10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men. 13 When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up.
Why were the Bereans counted as more noble? Because they received the message with great eagerness! They excitedly, expectantly searched the scriptures for confirmation. They were joyous, not suspicious. Not guarded. Not nervous.
So, a great question is this: When we hear of God moving in a new way, will we be like the Thessalonians who were threatened and full of doubt or like the child-like Bereans who excitedly received the Good News?
It’s time to take an honest look at the typical Christian experience that is largely disappointing for so many.
Sing along with me:
I went to the enemy’s camp and took back what he stole from me, took back what he stole from me, took back what he stole from me…
This is a fun song to sing and has a sold ring of victory to it, but it has always troubled me. I always wondered why Christians seemed to be playing catch up, perpetually trying to gain back what was lost and attempting to convince themselves that they are victorious. We often try to cheerlead our way to believing we are who God says we are. It’s as if we are sitting on a couch in a counselors office, looking into a mirror and saying, “I’m OK. God likes me. I’m a winner. I’m OK. God likes me. I’m a winner.” If we say it enough, surely it will sink in, right?
Again, let’s be honest. Yes, we as Christians all agree that in the end Jesus wins. Or, do we really believe that? Is it simply easier to believe something that’s far removed and chiseled logically into the stone that holds the tenants of our religion?
What if that end of times war exploded violently and experientially right now? Would we simply embrace peace and easily, confidently know that Jesus wins—or would we freak out and worry as devastation creeps onto our front lawn? Would it it result in a crisis of faith or an eruption of faith?
Our foundation of faith (or lack of it) will result in difficult situations either triggering hopelessness and despair or passionate expectancy.
Lets bring it closer to home.
At any Sunday morning church service I could stand in the pulpit and ask the congregation a question: Who here has a history of financial struggle?
Most hands would shoot to the sky. Yet, we know that scripture declares that every need that we have is provided for!
Philippians 4:19 (ESV) 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Do you see the conflict? It’s a crisis of faith that is unfortunately experienced by most Christians!
Think about the 1260 promises in the Word of God. How many are inactive in the lives of Christians? How many have the enemy stolen away? Just where is that camp that we have to find so we can take back what he stole from us?
Psalm 84:11 (NKJV) 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly.
That’s a really good Bible promise!
Why does that verse feel more like a pipe dream than a common reality experienced by Believers?
Because many Believers are actually unbelievers.
They doubt. They are gripped by unbelief.
Check out this passage:
Matthew 13:10-15 (ESV) 10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “ ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’
Seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. This issue is gripped the unbelievers in the church!
Why don’t we see extreme prosperity, healing, joy, life and freedom in the church today?
Matthew 13:58 (ESV) 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.
- Tradition. Another way to say it is historical evidence or past experience. If our confidence and expectations come from past experience and cultural norms instead of the wild realities of the Kingdom, you will live like most every other Christian out there—below the bar of Kingdom wonder.
Matthew 15:6-9 (ESV) 6 …So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
- Powerlessness. Christians are evidenced by their supernatural power. Check out this problematic passage:
Mark 16:14-18 (ESV) 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
What a situation we have here! In the same breath that Jesus rebuked them for unbelief he was telling them to wise up and figure this Kingdom thing out. They were commanded to deal with their doubt and change the world. The way they would pass the test? Faith-fueled signs, wonders and miracles. Does it strike you as concerning that there are Christians out there that have not discovered the power of God flowing through them? It’s a very serious issue.
- Failure of performance. Have you ever quoted verses that dealt with an issue you were facing? Did you add some prayer to the mix only to be disappointed by a failed mission? The Bible speaks to this directly:
Matthew 17:19-20 (NKJV) 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" 20 So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
It’s unbelief. Doubt. The moment we give room for any ending other than what is promised in Scripture, you can label that unbelief. So, what was Jesus’ prescription for their unbelief?
Matthew 17:21 (NKJV) 21 However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting."
We don’t pray and fast to cause demons to come out. We pray and fast to cure our unbelief. Apply this verse to any enemy that is winning in your life. Depression, fear, poverty, sickness. If you don’t have belief that joy and power and prosperity and health are yours for the taking, then move into an extreme season of prayer and fasting. Breakthrough hinges on your ability to fully believe without wavering.
This verse makes the point very clear:
James 1:5-8 (ESV) 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
If we doubt, we can’t expect to receive. Period. If your mind entertains thoughts like, “God might heal me,” you are pretty much done before you began contending.
- No joy of salvation. Ouch. This one hurts, but must be addressed. We see salvation and faith so intertwined throughout scripture that we simply have do deal with this. If we as Believers are living most of our lives in the realm of unbelief can we casually presume to be saved? I’m not so sure. Check this out:
Luke 8:11-15 (ESV) 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.
Do you see how faith and salvation are connected? Here we see the devil stealing the very thing that ensures their salvation—their belief. The next group experiences the joy of salvation, but didn’t have sufficient belief when the trials came. They fell away. It’s the last group that hears the word (faith comes by hearing the Word!) and endures and bears fruit with patience.
- Faith in what is visible. If we default to what is visible and humanly understandable, we will fall well below the mark of belief. This can have often tragic results. The story of King Asa should be an alarm for all of us:
2 Chronicles 16:12-13 (ESV) 12 In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but sought help from physicians. 13 And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign.
I believe one reason we don’t see more healings in America is because it’s too easy to pop a pill and trust that the doctors can heal us. That misguided faith has been devastating in its impact. The majority of our lives as true Believers exists in the invisible realm of the unseen—in the realm of confident belief.
Hebrews 11:1-3 (NKJV) 1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
For the Believer, the unseen realm has more substance than what our five senses pick up. For the Believer it’s easy and normal to believe the report of the Lord ahead of the report of human experience or human perception.
Church, it’s time we stop hoping and wishing our way to victory. Hope deferred makes the heart sick! We have to put an end to demonic thievery. Pumping ourselves up and cheerleading our way to a low level confidence in God’s Word must give way to a peaceful assurance of breakthrough. We don’t contend for victory, we start at the point of victory. Now, we don’t have to play catch up as we focus on personal identity and success. We can launch with great faith from the platform of success into the world changing missions that God has assigned us to. As champions and authorities in the Earth we don’t ever allow the enemy to steal anything—instead we take dominion over his camp, his domain!
I see a day coming in the church where everybody who simply yet fully believes is wildly joyful, prosperous, healthy and free—strong and ready to annihilate the kingdom of darkness with force!