I'm often asked how to experience God on a regular basis. I do believe there's an answer, but it's not a simple one.
There's a phenomenal opportunity available to every legitimate follower of Jesus: an indescribable and life-rocking encounter with an invisible, all-powerful Deity. Sadly so few do what's necessary to live in this realm where the Holy Spirit reveals his shock and awe to the children of God.
It seems so many are satisfied living a typical, logical life in the natural realm. The idea that we can be overwhelmed by a Spirit and experience unimaginable manifestations that only exist beyond where our eyes and ears can discern is silliness to them. Twilight Zone. X-Files. Science fiction.
Yet, to others, it's not far-reaching at all. They yearn to meet God in this place but they don't know how to get there. It's those hungry people I'd like to try to encourage.
THE RECIPE FOR ENCOUNTER
RAW, RISKY BELIEF
5 …so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5 (ESV)
Intellectualism may be the greatest killer of faith and supernatural encounter among those who are truly living for the Lord. Their left-brained approach to invisible and mystical realities rarely works. When it does, you usually have to take the long way around.
My passion is for God to encounter me in ways my natural, logical, intellectual capacities could never predict, gauge or moderate. The moment I limit this to my own understanding or my careful analysis is the moment I've diminished my hope of moving into that spiritual realm that exists beyond what can be grasped.
The “I have to see it to believe it” mantra doesn't work in a “walk by faith, not by sight” Kingdom. Having to understand it before seeing it doesn't usually work very well either.
Of course, I'm not proposing a renunciation of the pursuit of understanding. However, when logical understanding must come first, before the other-worldly revelation that God wants us to experience, we short circuit the supernatural happenings.
While many would argue that seeing is believing, for Christians the opposite is true. Believing is seeing…and encountering, and being shocked by the fire and power of the Holy Spirit!
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)
I'll never forget the night many years ago that changed my life. I witnessed God doing remarkable things in the lives of some of my friends. These seemingly normal American guys who were grunting on the basketball court and staying up to all hours playing video games were also undone by an unseen force. I'd watch them weeping in prayer, pacing the church and crying out to God for him to move. These people had tapped into something that I convinced wasn't invented. It wasn't fake. It was real and I had to meet God they way they had.
Alone one night, I paced around the youth room of the church, feeling nothing but desperation. I prayed a simple prayer, the only one I could. “God, you know my heart.” That's it. Over and over I was talking to God using those words, revealing the depths of my hunger in a simple statement. God knew how deeply I desired to know him.
The rest is history. My eternity has forever been altered by that simple yet overwhelming prayer. Shortly after, he flooded into my life in a way that could never be described by using human words, though I'll try. Extreme boldness replaced timidity in a split second. A tangible force shook my being. Passion for Jesus was instantaneous. There was a power source connected to me and I was radiating with fire.
I didn't seek to understand what I was pursuing. I was simply desperate. Hungry. Willing to surrender all. In fact, I told God in the days preceding this momentous experience that I didn't want anything to do with him if he “wasn't all that he was cracked up to be.” I wasn't interested in fairy tales or following some religious icon who didn't heal, couldn't deliver and wasn't omnipotent, good and alive. However, I also said, “But if you are all of this, I will die for you.”
While an initial encounter may not require a disciplined life of intercession, I've discovered that a regular, continual encounter with Jesus absolutely does. It's in the place of fervent, fiery prayer, especially praying in tongues, where the presence of God is constant, and very often extremely intense.
Some may wonder why it's so important to contend for encounter. They may see it as unnecessary and possibly even evidence of an imbalanced or immature person, someone who is driven by emotions or strange, mystical rushes of adrenaline. Oh my, this couldn't be further from the truth. Encounter is absolutely necessary for every blood-bought Christian.
As we walk in great faith and hunger with great desperation, the cries of our heart and the intercession of the Holy Spirit through us will launch us into the place where God can be clearly heard. We can discern his heart. He can reveal mysteries to us. Critical information, some of life and death, is transmitted to us through impressions, dreams, visions or other prophetic means. Simply, if we aren't living in encounter, we are tragically limited to our own understanding, the very understanding the Bible instructs us not to lean on.
But, as we pray in the Spirit, everything changes. The heavens open. God's voice resounds. An inner tremble shakes within. Our daily lives become adventures as God takes the reigns and gives us direction that can only be received via the Spirit.
God resists the proud. This is why I firmly believe the gateway to deeper levels in the Spirit includes many opportunities for humiliation.
I'll never forget meeting a young lady at an event who was a part of another church. She told me she so wanted to experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but had no idea how to do so. She was unpretentious and authentic as she shared her expectancy for what was going to happen at the worship conference we all converged at in Los Angeles.
I don't have space to explain what happened the next night other than to say, this hungry young lady was suddenly, without warning, flopping all over the ground as strange and wonderful new sounds were exploding from her mouth. God's activity in that moment hit her and many others, including myself. I was suddenly on the floor experiencing an extremely weighty manifestation of God's glory that wouldn't dissipate until the next day. The presence of God in that moment was something I can still remember, though it's been over twenty years since it happened.
Humility caused this young lady to dismiss how she might look to the hundreds of people all around as supernatural God invaded her natural self. She wanted God. She was hungry at a level few experience. She was filled.
If you think a very Holy Spirit is going to brood over you and manifest in and through you as you are living an unholy life, you have been terribly deceived. Holiness is absolutely mandatory if we have any hope of God moving remarkably in our lives. This is such common sense, yet so many Christians can't understand why they aren't being consumed by God's Holy Spirit.
You simply cannot watch movies, TV and other media that contains foul language, nudity, coarse joking and other immorality and think you are a candidate for encounter. You are kidding yourself. In fact, why would you want the Holy Spirit if that's your chosen lifestyle? You are only inviting conviction if not judgment.
I encourage everybody to eliminate all secular music and listen to nothing but anointed worship music. I even suggest doing away with most contemporary Christian music and pumping music through their headphones that carries the unusual fire and glory of God.
Those who have taken me up on this, time after time, experience dramatic breakthrough. Those who don't tend to trend downwards.
14 …For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV)
Possibly the quickest shortcut to living a life of dramatic, supernatural encounter with God is to sign up as a martyr.
We are called to die daily, to take up our crosses and to love life not unto death. This is our portion as Christians. The key moment in my personal life came shortly after my initial encounter I described above. Do you remember that I told God I'd die for him? He was listening.
From my article Risks of the Upcoming Presence Movement:
One night my life changed forever. In the midst of my amazing daily encounters with Jesus, I found myself in a prayer room at a youth lock-in in Dayton, Ohio. While 300 students were playing volleyball and basketball I was alone in a dark, glorious room overlooking the skyline of the city. God was waiting for me when I waked in.
I paced around praying and worshiping as the presence of God swirled all around me. I never wanted to leave.
Suddenly, as I was enjoying God, walking back and forth in his manifest presence, I heard a voice, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
I was irritated. My focus on loving Jesus was interrupted by someone with what felt like a terribly different agenda. Little did I know, it was an agenda to grow me up and gauge my devotion.
I shook off that distracting voice, and attempted to enter back into the glory realm. I prayed and worshiped, but the presence of God was completely gone—or so I thought.
Again I heard, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
Though I clearly understood I was being asked to give my life for Jesus, my emotions were negative. I was distraught, irritated, lonely and even afraid. My enjoyment was gone. However, what I didn’t realize was this—my feelings were not sufficient to analyze the situation. God’s presence had actually increased exponentially in that room of destiny, not dissipated. The fearful judge had arrived and he meant business.
Though I tried to enter back into worship again, it was futile. I heard the voice one more time, “John, I want you to give me permission to take your life tonight.”
Finally, in a state of lonely desperation, I realized I couldn’t live my life without the fire of Jesus burning within me. I needed him. I wanted him, even if it meant the loss of my physical life.
Understand, I was convinced that I was going to physically die that night. It was very real to me.
I told God, “I can’t live without you. If my death will result in the advance of your Kingdom, I give you permission to take my life tonight.”
The moment I said that, his manifest glory flooded the room about one hundred times greater than I had experienced it before. I had experienced the glory and the severity of God, and I was forever changed.
ZEAL FOR THE WORD OF GOD
As I reveal the final ingredient of the secret sauce of encounter, I can feel the naysayers breathing down my neck right now. They are riled up at the thought of focusing on the experiential, on the suggestion that faith trumps logic, on the mystical, invisible and on what they would call hyper-Charismatic fluff.
I'll try to put them at ease. Nothing I am proposing can defy Scriptural truth. If there's ever a contradiction, it must be eliminated. This means that we must be students of the Word. There should be a burning zeal in us for the powerful, eternal and non-negotiable truths of Scripture.
However, while many would hold up the giant family Bible in the air as a defense against the supposed superstition that I'm dealing with here, true Bereans will excitedly search the Word to see what powerful revelations it holds.
From my article What To Do When We Hear Rumors Of Revival:
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?
I’m on a personal journey to discover God—as He truly is—and what I discover will certainly trouble me.
It will trouble me because I'm absolutely confident that his fear is going to hit me more than it ever has… and I will have to guard my heart from offense when the parts I so value are revealed as a distortion of who he truly is. But, in the end, it will be glorious!
We have to put on our big boy and big girl pants and have a tender heart covered by very thick skin as we eagerly welcome calibration to God’s Word.
We must read the Word as it is, in context! I’m shocked at how quickly very clear scriptural truths are dismissed without reason by those who are threatened by what it says.
For example, how can we not read Revelation 9:15 and not have it violate the common, modern definition of Godly love?
So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, were released to kill a third of mankind. Revelation 9:15
That’s an offensive verse! How does that mess with your definition of a loving God? He killed mankind throughout biblical history, OT and NT, and that greatly impacts how we view God!
I so crave to read verses like this and devour it, let it get deep into my spirit so my understanding of God can be made more vivid. If I resist that process of study, I put my position in Christ at risk as I replace him with a misrepresented version of him.
The Bible tells us to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith. ~Paul Washer
I regularly talk to God about this. Am I truly in the faith, or have I bought into religious superstition and tradition that satisfies my desire for spirituality?
In this journey I’m quickly discovering that the Word of God will radically offend me if I don’t allow it to enlighten me. The God of the Bible is strikingly different than his representation in much of today’s church.
When you preach truth, it will cause people to either thank you or hate you. Pure truth is costly to handle and receive. It’s dangerous. It’s freeing.
The very traditions and perspectives that we have grown up with in the American church must be placed on the altar as we allow God to reeducate us. We must have the knowledge of God, and it’s time that we finally get deep into God’s Word again!
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! Mark 7:9
thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.” Mark 7:13
This journey has ramped up for me over the last two years, and my message and mission have become so clearly defined that I have had to repent in tears over leading a church with a care-free culture that was devoid of the fear of the Lord. I was shocked to life and brokenness during a Bay of the Holy Spirit event in Detroit—and it was then, as a vision of millions of people hanging in the void between Heaven and Hell opened before me, that I knew everything was going to change for me and my ministry—drastically.
Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Romans 10:1-3
Romans 10:1-2 sums up the short period of time when I was leading a vibrant church here in the Detroit region that was electric and experience driven. We launched Revival Church correctly, and experienced some phenomenal moves of God, but I distinctly remember thinking at one point well into the church planting process, “People are so locked in to the happy, care-free culture of celebration that we better just ride this wave for a while.” That is what I had to repent for. I was irresponsible for perpetuating a culture of positivity while ignoring God’s severity. What was resulting was no longer God moving as much as we’d like to think. I believe we became inward focused, looking for spiritual high after spiritual high.
What people call a great move of God is often just emotion. ~Paul Washer
Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Romans 11:22
We have to embrace both God’s kindness and his severity. I was focusing on his kindness while forsaking his severity, for this short period of time, and I became so broken and convicted that I simply could not continue that way.
The shift resulted in a focus on the core DNA of my heart, and a fuller acknowledgment of scriptural truth.
That shift is continuing for me, and it has me in the grips of God’s empowering grace—I am yearning for revelation not based on experience first, but on the timeless, pure Word of the Living God. That’s the journey that will cause trouble as it already has and will certainly continue to threaten the sacred cows in the church today.
SOURCES OF FOOD AND LIFE?
In Hinduism, the cow is revered as the source of food and symbol of life and may never be killed.
The sacred cows in the church are going to be violated when truth in scripture is trumpeted, and that has already and will continue to cause problems. These sacred cows are relied on by many Christians as their source of food and life, of feelings of security, safety, love, etc.
Since I started this journey of biblical study, my eyes have been opened afresh, and my spirit awakened as God has revealed violations of clear, orthodox biblical truths that the church has embraced with much eagerness. As one who fell into the trap of perpetuating a culture of positivity at the expense of the highlighting the cost and God’s severity, I understand how seductive it can be.
It’s time, with a humble spirit, to tear down our father’s altars. When we do that, people’s source of food and life will be threatened, and the reaction will be extreme, no matter how humble our heart is.
When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” Judges 6:28-30
Most people will shrink back from such a bold approach due to the cost. It’s difficult when the accusations start flying. After all, such a seemingly arrogant move stinks of personal ambition and hatred—when in fact Gideon was acting in love, according to the instructions of God. I’ll talk more about the radical misunderstanding of what love is below.
Do you understand the cost I must pay to say that American Christianity is almost totally wrong. ~Paul Washer
Because our gospel message has been deficient,our disciples are now deficient & the American “born again” Church is deficient. ~Michael Brown
THE FALSE-GRACE REACTION
By far, the teaching that resulted from my journey in the Word that has elicited the greatest number of comments is on false-grace.
Many times a day, most every day, I’m receiving emails, Facebook messages and other comments on this message—and about 95% of them are positive. People are thanking me for sounding the alarm. I’ve received many testimonies from people who have been set free from this deception. That makes it worth it for sure!
It’s so important that we don’t hold back truth out of fear of accusation. People who are buying into false-grace are literally in extreme and immediate danger!
We care more about our friendships than we do about our friends. We hold back truth to save those friendships. ~Francis Chan
Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Romans 11:22
The remaining 5% or so of those who respond to my articles, videos and comments on false-grace, sadly, are often extremely aggressive and even hateful in their communication. The reason? They have put their faith in an unscriptural sacred cow instead of the fearful truth of Jesus.
They have so identified with their sinful nature that they cannot imagine Truth actually setting them free. Their only hope seems to be a grace that covers up their failures. In fact, accusations are often hurled saying the rejection of the false-grace message reveals one’s hypocrisy since they are trying to call people to a standard that they have determined nobody can reach. Teachers of true grace are called legalists, though all they are doing is letting people know the standards Jesus himself established.
Grace enables us to obey. It really does. It’s empowering, not burdensome.
And, thanks to God’s mercy, when we do fail, we can respond to God’s love and get back up! We should never refuse to preach truth and affirm the biblical standards because we struggle living up to it! It’s in our weakness that he’s made strong! When we admit that we cannot do it in our own strength, God is glorified!
One of the most difficult parts of repentance is to repent of your good deeds – it is much harder than repenting of your bad deeds – to repent of your self-righteousness, which is far more offensive to God than your unrighteousness. ~David Pawson
It’s actually God’s mercy, not his grace, that covers our failures. It’s an expression of God’s deep love for us! It’s true grace that enables us to live a righteous life.
The false-grace issue is volatile enough to split churches right down the middle, and I believe that it will actually be the distinguishing factor that reveals clearly the authentic and the false church in the end times.
THE FALSE-LOVE CONFUSION
Love. We don’t understand it.
There's been an overemphasis on the love of God (in teaching). It was not the message of the apostles. Only 35 out of 35,000 scriptures in the Bible are about the love of God. ~David Pawson
I have been increasingly troubled in my spirit with the misunderstanding of what true, biblical love really is. I mean, my friend, it is so radically different than we understand it to be—in fact, God’s expression of love can very often look like hatred! This is biblical truth, and it’s hard to handle.
I wrote another article on the false-love movement, so I won’t rehash it here. But I do want to speak to it to a degree.
I was so appreciative of a short video I stumbled upon by David Pawson. I am including it here, and the seven minutes it will take to watch it just might change your understanding of just what love is. Please, by all means, watch it. Everything he’s saying is what has been jumping in my spirit for months. He just does a much more brilliant job of communicating it!
After watching the video, you are provoked I’m sure.
This is the type of scriptural revelation that I’m talking about! We misunderstand God which results in misrepresenting God!
Entire churches and movements are sitting on a compromised foundation that’s made up of misrepresentations of God and his Word!
We really don’t know God! We must humbly admit this!
We’ve grown up in churches that have taught about God’s love in massive portions, so any movement that doesn’t focus on it in that way seems unloving, and is dismissed. My God!
We must dive into the Word of God again, as if we’ve never read it before.
Just today, my wife was reading through John chapter 3, and was taking note of the severity of God. (Very interestingly, she read it just before she watched the above video!)
She then read the commentary in the sidebar that was written by an extremely popular author. The author was actually contradicting what the passage was revealing! This isn’t surprising since John 3:16 specifically is so often misapplied, but it does give us a sobering mandate to study to show ourselves approved.
My wife said, “Maybe I need to stop reading the commentary and just read the Word.”
Yes! Read it first, and then use commentary and various Bible helps to see if they either confirm and illuminate what the scriptures reveal OR contradict it.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
We must return to orthodox Christianity. It’s time we read the Word as it is. As I do this, it’s stunning how contrary we are to it. I’m wrecked and I’m being transformed.
As we are in the Word, we will discover often disturbing but always liberating insights on fear, eternity, Hell, grace, love, God’s nature, his feelings toward different types of people, salvation and much more.
We must break off the gods of personal satisfaction, selfish ambition and personal gain that so many of today’s theologies have empowered.
Any impatience, self-will, religious ambition, the compulsion to do for God, and the need to be recognized and acknowledged, will never be a glory unto God. -Art Katz
Our hearts must be continually inspected and pure, humble, broken…as we dive back into the Word and see just what God originally communicated.
I challenge you to read the Word, in context, without the lenses of pop-theologies of today, and see how different God ends up appearing to you!
When that happens, tell the world. It’s time to shine light on our hearts first, and then on the religious darkness in America.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
FREE food & new friends at our first monthly Meet, Greet & Eat TONIGHT at Revival Church!
I will be continuing the series TENETS tonight at Revival Church as I share on the Word of God and the differences between the NT and the OT.
I’ve been told multiple times that it’s the focus on the core, foundational truths of scripture that will send us into revival—and I agree.
Then, immediately after service we will have the food ready in the foyer for you to enjoy with old and new friends! The third Sunday of each month we will enjoy connecting together at Meet, Greet and Eat!
REVIVAL CHURCH SOFTBALL
I just have to say that, yes, there is a HUGE difference between 43 years of age and 36. It’s been 7+ years since I’ve played softball (legendary glory years on the Revolution Church softball team in Colorado!), and my body is screaming and aching head to toe!
My skills have diminished, but, it’s OK! Talking about relationships and connecting, we all had a blast yesterday in Royal Oak as about 20 Revival Church friends played two games.
Why am I sharing this now? Because we’ll be doing it again and again! If you want to connect more deeply relationally, softball is the way to do it! Josh Kearney and I have never been closer—as he plowed into me and flipped me upside down at a play at the plate. Now, that’s intimacy!
Talk to Melissa Feliciano if you’d like to play in our next games in a couple of weeks!
NEW FRIDAY NIGHT MISSION AT THELAB
Friday night marked a shift at theLab Prayer Events.
Often through the summer we’ll be meeting outside at Port Detroit and moving out in teams into the streets.
This past Friday night we established team captains and they took 2-3 people with them on a prayer journey. We all moved out from our Port Detroit base for 30 minutes and listened to God as he revealed spiritual issues to us.
The captains will be gathering all of the data each week so we can develop a plan of action based on the spiritual intelligence we receive. We’ll then launch into spiritual warfare, intercession and other plans of action to push back the darkness in Detroit!
I want to invite YOU to join one of our several teams! It is a great way to get connected into some (more!) great relationships and to catch the vision of Revival Church! You will LOVE theLab on Friday nights!
NEW CULTURE GROUP: “Lord, Lord-Proof” Your Life
This Wednesday 6/20, we’ll be looking at how to keep from being surprised on your Judgment Day. We’re also going to be demonstrating how to make the Bible “come alive” when you read it and how to see truth in the Scriptures by the Light of Holy Spirit.
Come on out and be blessed!
1466 Lochmoor, Grosse Pointe Woods
Listen to a POWERFUL and important message on the departure from orthodox Christianity in the Church.
Last night’s message was sobering yet radically freeing—and I implore you to listen to it and let the Holy Spirit shoot the spotlight on the deepest places of your heart.
There are a lot of false, feel good movements out there that feel a lot like the Holy Spirit–but are not. We have a crisis of discernment. True discernment is found in the Word of God, not in a feeling.
I also discuss what I call the theology of exemption. Christians can believe that they are exempt from the ramifications of sin simply because we have chosen to follow Jesus. That’s a doctrine of demons and is resulting in a lot of Christians entering Hell not Heaven when they leave the Earth.
You can listen to it right now, right here: media.johnburton.net/2565526
You can also follow along with the notes that I’ll include below.
ALSO, I hit on many of these same topics in my recent XPmedia video. IN JUST SIX DAYS, This video has more views than any of my other XPmedia videos, and I’d encourage you watch it and prayerfully consider how God might be sharpening your discernment. You can watch the video here: http://www.xpmedia.com/Z1QglFvIu13K
TENETS PART TWO: THE WORD OF GOD
I. The Word
a. Much of the material for our study on the tenets of the faith comes from the book Foundations of Pentecostal Theology.
i. It was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
ii. Our English word Bible comes from the Greek word biblos, meaning "a book."
1. "The Book [biblos] of the generation of Jesus Christ" (Mt. 1:1)
2. It’s also called scripture, which means “holy writings.”
a. Scripture, holy writings, oracles of God, Word of God
b. 2 Peter 1:20 (ESV) 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
c. Mark 7:13 (ESV) 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
d. The Word can be voided in your life if you don’t understand its power, its holy nature.
e. Traditions based on experiences can nullify the Word!
f. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (ESV) 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
c. God speaks!
i. By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. 33:6)
1. I teach a lot on hearing God’s voice, on revelation.
a. However, the most reliable and most powerful revelation you will receive is the Bible—by far!
i. Jeremiah 23:29 (ESV) 29 Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
ii. All Spirit-filled believers have known, to some degree, the miracle of divine inspiration by the Holy Spirit, but never to the extent experienced by the writers of Scripture.
b. Pastors have abdicated their responsibility of keeping eternity in front of the church. We must touch the hard topics continually.
c. This is why I’m talking about the Word tonight! The church has fallen terribly away from right doctrine! Friday night at theLab was possibly one of the most important shifts we’ve had as God used a simple, fiery young lady to call us into the burden of God’s heart.
d. Julia: God has been speaking to me about why He is doing what He is doing in you and at your church in light of the history, calling and prophetic destiny of Revival Church! It makes so much sense and I am so excited about it! Keep going. You are so walking in step with Gods agenda right now. Also, take heart in that your apostolic anointing is manifesting very strongly right now. You are calling the church back to the foundational truths. Its so good!
e. We must be people of the Word and refuse to give in to the temptation to settle for a softer, cozier gospel.
f. Good Christian Bitches cancelled… comment: I found GCB to be quite entertaining. There is so much that is serious going on in the world, why not bring a little humor into our lives. We as Christians need to stop taking things so seriously – breathe and enjoy life.
i. Sounds good… but what does the Bible say?
ii. Luke 12:19-20 (ESV) 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you…
g. Another example, Christians often fall into a theology of exemption—we presume we are exempt from the ramifications of sin because we are saved.
i. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (ESV) 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1. Intimacy doesn’t not automatically mean we’ll do good works, and doing good works doesn’t automatically mean we’ll be close to God.
iii. Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
iv. Part of his will is intimacy!
h. Craig Groeschel: I think so much of what we think is the "fun, happy, meaningful" life is simply a substitute for the real thing. I think most would want to believe that we're not that accountable to our commitment to Christ. But Scirpture says we're going to be accountable for every word we speak. His grace is probably going to be greater than we realize and yet what we're held accountable to and even the rewards may be greater than we realize as well. Meaning ultimately, the way we live today and what we believe today will have a greater impact on our eternity than we can imagine.
a. Psalms 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
b. We often hear people say that the are just going to flow in the Spirit… they make decisions based on what they sense.
i. We see this in many streams and movements—including the prophetic movement that I so love.
ii. "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Colossians 2:6-9
iii. This is a conference agenda from a well known minister in the prophetic realm… some good, some concerning because of the self-centered focuses:
1. We need to die daily! Surrender! "For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God" (I Cor. 1:18).
2. Operate in Trances, Raptures & Ecstatic Prayer (Barbara Yoder noted a serious concern about going into trances on command)
a. Colossians 2:18-19 (ESV) 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
b. We must know the Word!
3. Experience Physical Phenomena of Mysticism (what and why?) What is the mystery we should pursue knowledge of? Colossians 1:26-27 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
4. Get Activated in Creative Miracles, Signs & Wonders
a. These follow those who believe in Jesus… who have embraced the cross and resurrection of Christ.
b. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (ESV) 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
c. Mark 16:16-18 (ESV) 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.”
5. Understand & Access New Creation Realities (What?)
6. Gain A Historical Grid of Miracle Workers & Mystics
7. Be Activated in the Seer Realm, Prophecy, Spirit Travel (Spirit travel on command? Red flag…that happened in Manitou.)
8. Receive Open Heavens & Revelatory Understanding
a. Barbara Yoder is also concerned about this… we are already under an open heavens.
9. Access and Manifest the Glory Realm
i. The major issue is this: Very often our pursuits in the name of God contradicts what the Bible says! If that’s the case, they are putting God’s name on error… it becomes a nephilim doctrine.
ii. They are flowing in a wrong spirit!
iii. John Mulinde: Repent! The greatest sin, people have created their own experiences that they call the Holy Spirit.
a. We must be both Word and Spirit driven:
iv. Isaiah 59:21—"My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth."
v. John 14:26—"The Holy Ghost… shall… bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
vi. Acts 4:31 (ESV) 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
vii. Acts 13:4-5—"Being sent forth by the Holy Ghost…. they preached the word of God."
c. 2 Timothy 3:12-17 (ESV) 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
d. Hebrews 4:12 (ESV) 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
e. This is powerful! We can have all sorts of intentions, thoughts, ideas… but if they don’t align with the Word, we must let the Word slice it off.
f. Before God uses a man greatly, he wounds him deeply. A.W. Tozer
ii. From Julia, John Mulinde form Uganda, truly a world ministry… established on every continent except antartica… at IHOP: Then suddenly a bright light hit my eyes. My eyes were closed. I was on my knees with my head on the ground, but a bright light hit me. I lifted up my eyes and said, “What is this?” I opened my eyes and I couldn’t look in the light. Even when I closed them, it pierced into my eyes. I bowed my head again, and I was trembling and thinking, “What on earth is going on?” Then I heard a voice, deep and calm. He called my name three times. I couldn’t answer. There was no strength in me to answer, but inwardly I was saying, “I’m here.” He called me—“John”—three times. Then He said to me, “I knew you before the creation of the world, and I chose you and set you apart to serve Me as a witness in these last days. I want to say to you, if I had come today to take My Bride, you wouldn’t be part of that. I wouldn’t take you.” I can’t describe the shock that came upon me. I think I was in shock. I didn’t even respond. It hit me. He repeated it. He said, “I wouldn’t take you. For it is written, ‘He will appear to those who wait upon Him’ (Isa. 49:23, paraphrased). You’re not living your life as a person waiting upon Me. You’re allowing all kinds of filth to come into your life. You’re living like one who cares not.” As I said, I couldn’t speak with my lips. At that moment I was thinking, “This can’t be happening to me. I gave up my job to serve the Lord; I gave up my house that my father had given me because I wanted to go to the mission field. I gave up this, I gave up that; this can’t be God saying to me that He wouldn’t take me.” None of my theology and teachings could accept that. He spoke to me these words written in the book of 1 Corinthians 6. He quoted them; I found them later. I couldn’t even remember that they were in the Scriptures, but later on I found them in the Scriptures. It says: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:10). “THE HEART IS DECEITFUL ABOVE ALL THINGS, AND DESPERATELY WICKED” He went on to say to me, “Your life is so full of filth. You walk with an outward appearance, and you cover many things in your heart. You forget that I am the Lord who examines the heart. You are not ready to meet Me.” He began to say to me, “If your life is full of this and this and this and this, then are you ready for My appearance?” As He measured the various things, I could say, “OK, Lord, have mercy.” But then He mentioned one thing that my heart rejected. In my own understanding, I had never turned into that. He said, “If your life is full of fornication . . . ” And everything in me said, “Oh, no. That cannot be.” I said it in my heart, and the voice stopped. For a moment there was silence. Then He said to me, “There is no crooked word that comes out of My mouth. Do you call Me a liar? But because you don’t even know your own heart, I will show it to you. Remember this day when you were in this place at this hour?” Brothers and sisters, I didn’t even remember. I practically saw myself back in that very moment—not as a memory, but as a reality. I was back in that moment. I saw myself sitting in the taxi waiting for the taxi car to be filled. Then I was looking out at some lady with all kinds of filthy imaginations. The moment it came back, I thought, “Oh, God, I have sinned against You.” He said, “No, you haven’t sinned. You live in sin. You live in that. You live from morning to evening in such imaginations. Even in your bed at night you indulge in the same. I know every moment of your private life. I know your thoughts. You don’t even fear, even sitting in church. Someone steps up on the platform to serve Me and you strip them naked in your imagination. You imagine all kinds of things. I am the Lord who examines the heart. Have you not read that he who even looks upon a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her (Mt. 5:28)?” Pictures began to pass before me of how my imagination works. This isn’t something of which I could say, “Lord, I fell in sin. Lord, I was weak.” It was my way of life. It was my constant way of life. I was comfortable in it. I was comfortable that no one else could see it, but God was saying, “I see it. I am the Lord who examines the heart.” I was so ashamed, but then He said, “That’s not the worst of all. You still live in this.” He began to mention things that appear humanly small: the envy, the manipulation and undercutting of one another so that you remain appearing the best, so that you appear to do the best, to preach the best, to work more miracles, to be more anointed; all the manipulation and self-promotions, all the grudges we hold in our hearts when we see someone else being promoted or recognized before us. The way the Lord brought it up, it was so filthy. I cried and cried, and at some point I was so intent on my grief. Then He raised His voice and said, “Keep quiet and listen.” “I NEVER KNEW YOU; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS!” I kept quiet, and He went on and on and on, unveiling more and more things. Even the things which appear so small, at that moment appeared so rotten. I felt like I was standing before the judgment seat with everything being thrown out. I wanted to say, “Stop, stop, I accept it all,” but He wasn’t stopping. At some point I was just saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” He said, “Keep quiet.” I wasn’t speaking loudly; I was speaking in my heart. He said, “Keep quiet and listen.” As He continued I thought, “I must have been deceived. All along I thought I was serving God and yet I’m so filthy inside. I must have been deceived. The Devil must have taken my life captive a long time ago.” At that moment I thought of the miracles we were witnessing. I thought of the healings. I thought of all those wonderful things, and suddenly my heart sunk. I thought, “The Devil has so deceived me that he could even use me to produce counterfeit miracles; to produce things I thought God was working—and yet it was the Devil all along . . . ” The voice kept quiet for a moment, and then He said to me, “Why are you imagining such thoughts? I don’t do miracles because you’re worthy. I do miracles because I love My people before whom you stand to preach. Have you never read of how they will come to Me on that day and say, ‘Lord, Lord, in Your name we worked miracles, cast out demons, and prophesied’? Then I will say to them, ‘Get out of My sight, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you’” (Mt. 7:21–23, paraphrased). He said, “Don’t depend on the miracles to assess your worthiness. Your worthiness isn’t in the signs and wonders you witness in ministry. I do miracles because I love the people, and My name shall never be left without witness on earth.” He said, “Have you not ever read that without holiness, no one will see God (Heb. 12:14)? It’s not the miracles; it’s the holiness that comes from God.” He spoke to me the scripture in the book of Hebrews.
d. Divisions of scripture
1. The Hebrew Old Testament was commonly divided into three sections:
a. The Law (Torah), five books:
b. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
2. The Prophets (Nebhiim), eight books:
a. Former Prophets—Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings
b. Latter Prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Twelve
3. The Writings (Kethubim), eleven books:
a. Poetical Books—Psalms, Proverbs, Job
b. Five Rolls (Megillot)—Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Esther, Ecclesiastes
c. Historical Books—Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah (in the Hebrew canon, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were combined), Chronicles
1. Biographical (four books): Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
2. Historical (1 book): Acts
3. Pedagogical (twenty-one books): Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude
4. Prophetic (one book): Revelation.
1. The first Bible to be published entirely divided into verse was the Geneva Bible of 1560.
1. The Bible is one Book, but it is also many books written by at least forty different authors, over a period of not less than fifteen hundred years, many of whom never saw each other.
2. Backgrounds of the writers
a. Two of the writers were kings—David and Solomon.
b. Two were priests—Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
c. Luke was a physician.
d. Two were fishermen—Peter and John.
e. Two were shepherds—Moses and Amos.
f. Paul was a Pharisee and a theologian.
g. Daniel was a statesman.
h. Matthew was a tax collector.
i. Joshua was a soldier.
j. Ezra was a scribe.
k. Nehemiah was a butler.
e. The Inerrancy of the Scriptures
1. The inerrancy of the Scripture means that in its original autographs the Bible contains no mistakes. In the original languages in which it was written, it is absolutely infallible—without error whatsoever.
2. This Book was written by man—fallen, weak, sinful man, with all the potential of misunderstanding, misinterpretation, lack of memory, and even the possibility of malicious falsehood. Yet, it is claimed that the Book man wrote contains no evidence whatever of all these natural weaknesses.
3. The doctrine of inerrancy comes from the Scriptures themselves. It claims to be inspired by God. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim. 3:16). "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. 1:21).
4. The writers of the Old Testament are most explicit in claiming they were speaking the Word of God. They claim 3,808 times to be transmitting His very words.
5. Moses said in the beginning of scripture: Deuteronomy 4:2 (ESV) 2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.
6. In the middle of the Bible, Proverbs 30:5-6 (ESV) 5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. 6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
7. At the end of the Bible, Revelation 22:18 (ESV) 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
8. Jesus also found no error in Scripture… he specifically confirmed the whole of the OT. He did not find error or inconsistency with it. He continually based his arguments and exhortations on it.
a. John 10:34-35 (ESV) 34 …and Scripture cannot be broken—
b. Luke 24:44 (ESV) 44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
9. Lewis Chafer says the Bible is infinite because it discloses truth concerning the infinite God, infinite holiness, infinite sin, and infinite redemption.
10. Myer Pearlman concludes his section on bibliology with the words: "Intellectual defenses of the Bible have their place; but after all, the best argument is the practical one. The Bible has worked. It has influenced civilizations, transformed lives, brought light, inspiration and comfort to millions. And its work continues."
a. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (ESV) 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
b. It’s God breathed. It’s the same language and meaning that we see when God breathed into Adam.
f. The law
1. I’ve often heard Christians say that the OT does not apply to us anymore. What? It’s an evidence of biblical ignorance.
2. First we need to understand that the law and works are not the same thing!
a. We are still called to good works… while the law refers to a specific set of commands found in the OT.
b. Adherence to the law is not a part of salvation. Works, however, is. Faith alone can’t save us.
i. James 2:14 (ESV) 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
ii. Check this out… there is a certain type of works that does no good:
iii. Romans 3:28 (ESV) 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
iv. …of the law. In the OT it was the Mosaic law that was their only hope. In the NT, faith in Jesus that’s evidenced through New Covenant obedience and works is what saves us.
v. Joseph Tkach: The New Testament does give us rules and behavioral expectations, but these should be seen as the result of a faith relationship, not as the basis for it.
vi. Romans 3:29-30 (ESV) 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
vii. We don’t have to be circumcised, but we do still have to obey, to respond to God’s NT commands.
c. The New Testament contains hundreds of commands. Although some of Paul's comments about the law seem negative, Paul himself gave us hundreds of commands.
i. How does Paul unite the concepts of liberty and obligation?
ii. Galatians 5:13 (ESV) 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
iii. Galatians 5:16-21 (ESV) 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
d. Look at Matt 22:
e. Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV) 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
f. The power of that scripture is that God’s attributes are affirmed. Loving God and others covers a lot of ground!
g. In the OT obedience was required and in the NT obedience is required.
i. The difference? Jesus often told people to obey God, but Moses is not the standard by which obedience is now measured.
h. Jesus told his disciples to preach the gospel throughout the world. This gospel focuses on the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus Christ.
i. We don’t take the cross lightly, but we realize how profoundly it obligates us to obey the One who gave himself for us.
j. Matthew 28:20 tells us that Christians should be taught to obey their Lord and Savior in addition to believing in him.
k. Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
l. They had to obey then, and we have to obey now. Why?
3. God has never changed and never will!
a. Matthew 5:17-20 (ESV) 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
b. Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
4. The call is actually greater in the NT than in the OT! Only by grace can we fulfill this mandate.
a. 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.
b. Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV) 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
i. Some Christians commit adultery multiple times every day! In the OT you could get away with this… but not in the NT!
c. Matthew 5:31-32 (ESV) 31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
d. Matthew 5:38-39 (ESV) 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
e. Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
5. When considering what was fulfilled and is no longer applicable, ask whether it’s part of the Mosaic ceremonial law or not. There are moral laws in the OT that absolutely do still apply.
a. The Mosaic law came 430 years after the Abrahamic covenant. This is the law that was fulfilled.
6. Some people try to interpret biblical laws with this rule: "Old Testament laws are valid unless the New Testament specifically says they are not." But this rule is not true, as we can see with the example of tassels, and it is proven false by Hebrews 8:13.
a. Hebrews 8:13 (ESV) 13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
b. "If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Gal. 2:21)
7. Michael Morrison The laws we keep today may be in the old covenant, but if so, we keep them not because they are in the old covenant, but because they are also in the new.
8. Michael Morrison The old covenant is obsolete. This does not mean the covenant is mostly valid, except for those laws specifically rescinded. No, it means the covenant itself is obsolete. It is like a law code that the government has declared invalid. It is not a valid source for rules about Christian behavior. Of course, some individual laws, such as the prohibition of adultery, are valid, but their validity is based on something more permanent than the old covenant — the more basic law that existed before the old covenant was given and still exists after the old covenant became obsolete.
9. In fact, in the NT we see that all scripture… which includes fulfilled laws… is profitable for instruction in righteousness:
a. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV) 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
10. The law of Moses included laws of ritual purification, prophecies about the Messiah, rules about treating livestock, and civil laws about penalties for religious crimes.
11. The Abrahamic covenant was characterized by God’s promise while the Mosaic was characterized by God’s law.
a. The law was temporarily necessary to deal with sin… it revealed how common sin is…
b. Romans 7:7 (ESV) 7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
c. …the promise was not annulled… it was made available. The law of Moses, with its worship rituals, civil laws and other customs, was temporary. In the NT, the ceremonial law was dealt with by Jesus.
d. The clearest way to understand what still applies is by studying to see what is re-emphasized in the NT. What OT law was reaffirmed in the NT?
e. Nine of the Ten Commandments were reaffirmed in the NT (all except to keep the Sabbath).
i. For example, in the OT, stoning was the penalty for those caught in adultery (based on the Mosaic covenant)…
1. Leviticus 20:10 (ESV) 10 “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
ii. …but in the NT Jesus affirmed that the sin of adultery was not acceptable, but he would be the one to take their punishment… if they repented.
iii. In the OT, wrath of God was on that person. In the NT, Jesus took the wrath on himself… UNLESS the individual is unrepentant!
1. John 3:36 (ESV) 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
2. Living without Christ in the NT is very similar to living pre-Christ in the OT.
f. The OT is an excellent resource to learn how God feels about certain activities, sins, behaviors.
i. God never changes. He still hates sin. He hates murder. He hates adultery. He hates sexual sin.
ii. However, his wrath was placed on Jesus instead of us, which should compel us to make Jesus our Lord and Master with expedience!
g. In Acts 15 Peter addresses the laws that concern diet and circumcision… but moral laws remain.
h. In the OT if you see regulations and ordinances that are a part of the law, you can be sure they no longer apply—unless they are either reaffirmed in the NT or are covered by the Great Commandment—to love God and others.
i. Some examples of obsolete laws:
i. Animal sacrifice (Go PETA!)
1. Hebrews 10:4 (ESV) 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
ii. Food and drink offerings and ceremonial washings
1. Hebrews 9:6-10 (ESV) 6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
iii. Wearing distinctive clothing
1. Numbers 15:37-38 (ESV) 37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner.
2. Numbers 15:39 (ESV) 39 And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes…
3. The principle is upheld in the NT, but not the requirement. We are still to obey, but we don’t dress with tassels to remind us to.
iv. Annual festivals (Feast of Tabernacles, Yom Kippur, Passover, etc.)
1. The old covenant required annual worship festivals. It specified the date and the place, the manner and the people to whom the commands applied. God did not command gentiles to keep this festival. It was one of the ordinances that separated Jews from gentiles, and the early church did not require gentile believers to travel to Jerusalem, to make offerings, to gather palm branches or to live in booths. Those things were part of the old covenant, which God made with ancient Israel. They are not part of the new covenant.
v. Dietary laws and uncleanness
1. You became unclean for a variety of things including touching a corpse, lepers, etc.
2. Numbers 19:11-13 (ESV) 11 “Whoever touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days. 12 He shall cleanse himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so be clean. But if he does not cleanse himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not become clean. 13 Whoever touches a dead person, the body of anyone who has died, and does not cleanse himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from Israel; because the water for impurity was not thrown on him, he shall be unclean. His uncleanness is still on him.
3. Matthew 8:2-3 (ESV) 2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
4. Bill Johnson: In the OT if a leper touches you, you become unclean. In the NT if you touch a leper he becomes clean.
vi. Some types of foods were unclean
1. Romans 14:20 (ESV) 20 Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats.
2. The Great Commandment is at work here.