The church is suffering a crisis of faith as logic, experience, humanistic wisdom and emotional intuition are causing many to reject biblical truth.
5 …so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:5 (ESV)
It's stunning to see how easily some Christians change their theologies to match their experiences, their compassion, their definition of love, their frustrations, their logic, their doubts, their temptations and their emotions.
Read the Bible. Believe the Bible. It's that easy.
I'll take the chaos of faith over the precision of facts any day. Common sense would tell us a beautiful painting of mountains, trees and a log cabin on the banks of a rushing river would be more valuable than an abstract splattering of colors applied by whipping streaks and smears of paint onto a canvas.
Jackson Pollock's abstract art simply titled No. 5 is currently worth $140 million. It's chaotic, nonsensical and it doesn't depict anything other than streaks, splotches and randomness. Yet it's currently ranked as the fifteenth most valuable piece of art in the world. This is how I see faith. It often doesn't make sense, and there are many other representations of reality that sure seem more worthy of attention. Yet, as Believers, we affirm what God values, and he deeply values great faith.
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)
The bottom line is that we believe God, no matter how obvious altering arguments seem to be. While an imperfect application, might I suggest that left brained people, those who are given to facts, figures, logic and intellectualism, might struggle more with faith then right brained people, those who see beyond the obvious and into the mystical. Their spiritual canvas is filled with random streaks and blotches that depict glorious life. They know truth trumps facts and it actually excites them to trust God at that level. Of course, as I said, this suggestion is not at all perfect as there are many brilliant intellectually wired men and women of God who are giants in the faith. Yet, the point I'm making is that many struggle to trust God when smacked in the face with seemingly clear and undeniable factual realities. Faith in the invisible can be snuffed out by reason.
For me, the Bible comes alive when I approach it as a trusting child. I read it and I believe it. I'm not saying I'm not challenged by it because of course I am. Yet, the collision of biblical truth with natural facts invigorates me. I come alive as I reject all that contradicts the Word of God, no matter how naturally convincing, and watch in faith for God's truth to miraculously activate in my life. If God said it, I believe it and that settles it.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)
The world is currently cowering in fear over the coronavirus scare, and sadly this includes many Christians. In fact, churches are banning handshakes and laying hands on people at the altar! “Lay hands on the sick and they shall recover” has suddenly changed for many Christians. Now it's “avoid touching the sick so we don't catch it.” I wonder if they realize this is the exact opposite way Scripture instructs them to respond.
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.” Mark 16:15-18 (ESV)
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. James 5:14-15 (ESV)
In a recent article I dealt directly with the fact that coronavirus is embarrassing the church as supposed blood-bought Christians are freaking out just like the rest of the world, and faith is nowhere to be found.
Are you taking the opportunity to show the lost you are fearless, full of faith and joyful? Or do they sense your anxiety about coronavirus?
A crisis of faith has been exposed. Coronavirus is embarrassing the church.
Have you noticed any difference at all between the godless world and those who are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus, the Healer? Bold decrees of faith, not confessions of fear and worry, should be exploding out of our mouths!
Instead, Christians are hiding in caves, running from the battle and trembling not in the fear of the Lord, but the fear of the enemy.
Sure, take precautions, but don't cower. Don't respond like the world. Don't allow the enemy to impact your life. Live! Be free! You are covered by the blood of Jesus!
Of all people, we should be the ones preaching faith not fear. Put the ridiculous spiritual face masks away. Your mouth is your weapon! Don't allow the enemy to muzzle you. Speak to the fear and command it to dissipate! Renounce the tactics of the evil one! Let the world see just how powerful Jesus is and how different his children are! We run to the battle! ~Christians are being embarrassed by coronavirus, John Burton
Universalism, annihilationism, false-grace, false-love and other heretical theologies are growing at record pace today. Why? People have traded truth for a golden calf. Emotionally, they can't reconcile how God is the perfect representation of pure love while also choosing to cast those who don't serve him into everlasting torment. Logically they have concluded that since no human father would ever punish a disobedient child in such a fashion, then, of course, God who loves at an exponentially deeper level than any human father wouldn't either. Common sense for them trumps biblical truth. In fact, I've heard some reject conscious eternal torment so ferociously that they foolishly equate such an act with the child sacrifices of Molech. That's venturing into blasphemy of the Holy Spirit territory. Be careful.
I believe it's a mistake to be limited to the realm of logic and emotion. We can't allow our sympathy and our compassion to define our theology. Simply trust that God's love transcends our understanding of how it functions. Judgment does fit within the construct of love. I have no need to force God to fit inside my limited definition of love, and in fact I hope that he never would. His justice and his mercy aren't competing realities. Love and wrath aren't mutually exclusive. The Bible has the final say and it reveals with clarity that those who die in their sins do in fact enter into never-ending torment. We can't rewrite Scripture. Just believe it and respond accordingly.
10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:10 (NKJV)
15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15 (NKJV)
Born in Sin
Today it seems many have shifted from believing we are all born in sin to defending our various desires and temptations by declaring we were “born that way.”
Homosexuals, for example, are known for surrendering to feelings, emotions, yearnings and a strong pull to adopt what Christians know to be deviant lifestyles. They argue that the strength of their desires is evidence that we have been interpreting the Bible incorrectly.
Others believe it's ridiculous to suggest that a precious newborn baby is tainted by sin since they are innocent and have no capacity to commit sin. Still others suggest there's an “age of accountability” that must be crossed before sin becomes an issue.
The problem? The Bible suggests no such age of accountability. It clearly reveals that all are born in sin. It's also point blank obvious that certain lifestyles are in fact sin no matter how powerful the urges are. We were born wicked and every unholy desire must be crucified. We must surrender to Jesus if we hope to be saved.
Again, common sense, powerful desires, emotional cues, intellectual discernment and all forms of logic must submit to the truth of Scripture. Yes, it's truth that may at times seem contradictory and it is often mystical and too deep to grasp, but it's truth nonetheless.
Keep in mind that God has no obligation to explain himself to us. As harsh as it sounds, it's his way or the highway to hell. He is God and we are not. If you don't like that, don't follow him, but please don't attempt to redefine him to fit your perfect image of how a god should look and behave.
18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV)
Unbelief tends to consume people when it comes to finances. Remember, God is a very good God and he loves to prosper his children. In the age of certain greedy televangelists, it's common for many to renounce this pursuit as unrighteous, yet they are doing so in the face of clear Scripture to the contrary.
Common sense would say we can expect to lose money when we give it away, yet spiritual sense would agree with the Word. When we give, it's given back in much greater measure.
Don't attempt to rewrite the Word of God to match your own struggles with faith. Don't oppose other people who are standing in faith and who are seeing God miraculously move in their finances.
Does God promise to supply every need or not? Does God promise to prosper or not? Does God give us the ability to create wealth or not? We need to put to bed every argument in opposition to God's Word, no matter how logical they may seem.
19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (ESV)
My article The Secret Sauce of Supernatural Encounter reveals several of the ingredients necessary to experience God. Answered prayer has a similar recipe.
It's grieving how quickly people give up on a life of intercession simply because they aren't seeing the breakthrough they are seeking. Natural proof has become their god and blind faith is deemed foolish.
Speaking of blind faith, I've heard it said that Heidi Baker prayed for every blind person she found for a solid year before the first one received their sight. This is critical to understand. God desires to heal. Period. He wants to move miraculously in every situation. The fact that we are experiencing breakthrough has nothing to do with God and everything to do with us. Heidi needed to learn how to see healing manifest. There was process. The fact that blind people weren't healed wasn't because of God, it was because Heidi was learning how to heal. To adopt a false teaching that says God doesn't always desire to heal due to our own delay would be a tragic decision. Unfortunately, it's a decision that many Christians have made.
There are usually several reasons why prayer goes unanswered, and few people are determined enough to wrestle through them. They prefer to blame God or to give up on the idea the healing is for today, that miracles are to be common and that we are to live in the supernatural realm.
There are multiple blockages to breakthrough including doubt, sin, a lack of fervency, misunderstanding of our spiritual authority, not engaging in spiritual warfare, misunderstanding the scriptural position on the matter, not hearing God's voice, not discerning his will, not praying in tongues, giving up too early, wrong motives and much, much more.
You see, you can't determine that God doesn't want to answer prayer just because he isn't doing so. We can't reject undeniable scriptural truths just because we can't break through. Prayer works when we pray correctly. It must be effective and it must be fervent.
16 …The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:16-18 (NKJV)
I could address several additional arenas of struggle when it comes to faith, but I think you understand the point.
The chaos of faith is immeasurably more valuable than the seeming stability of logic. Your life will become dramatically more thrilling, more powerful and more miraculous if you step beyond the limits of intellectualism and the bounds of emotional experience into the realm where common sense is regularly defied. It's the invisible realm where faith explodes, miracles are to be expected and the power of God burns through us.
I challenge you to read the Bible and to believe it without qualification or reservation. When the Word of God floods your mind and your spirit, faith will spike and the supernatural reality you are craving will be revealed.
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 (NKJV)
It’s time for the fear of the Lord to land on the prophetic movement as we enter the new year.
16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips? 17 For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you. Psalm 50:16-17 (ESV)
“Financial breakthrough is coming in 2017!”
“This is the year of fulfilled promises!”
“No more delay! Prosperity is yours in the new year!”
“This is the year of promotion!”
Prophecies like these or any variety of variants are shouted from rooftops online and in other venues about this time of the year, every year. Many of these such words are being given by those God is addressing in Psalm 50. What right do they have to recite God’s statutes? They are undisciplined and God’s true words are cast off.
It’s time for the fear of the Lord to hit the prophetic movement in full force.
7 “For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. 8 The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken; who can but prophesy?” Amos 3:7-8 (ESV)
Lest you misunderstand my intention, I’ll make it clear: prophecy is critical in this late season. We must see an increase in clear, true prophetic revelation now more than ever. I believe God is hand picking key voices who will not shrink back and who refuse to carelessly play with this supernatural gift as if they were some Disney-level wizard.
It’s time for the Lion to roar with such force that these prophetic messengers are blown back as if standing behind a jet engine at full thrust.
The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary notes: As when “the lion roars” none can help but “fear,” so when Jehovah communicates His awful message, the prophet cannot but prophesy. Find not fault with me for prophesying; I must obey God.
What a striking contrast to so much of today’s fortune-telling promises of wealth, health and happiness.
I read a “prophetic” word for the new year earlier today that promised miraculous wealth in the early part of 2017. My initial question was, “Is this word true for literally every Christian in the world?” Of course that is absurd, but that prophecy follows the pattern of so many that we hear at the first of the year. Big promises, freedom from anything negative and extreme satisfaction for all who hear. Yes, the fear of the Lord must return to the prophetic movement. The Lion must roar.
I propose we embrace a prophetic protocol that has Jesus as the central figure. It’s found in Isaiah chapter eleven:
1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, Isaiah 11:1-3 (ESV)
The shoot from the stump of Jesse and the roaring Lion are Jesus, and the prophetic role that he plays is worthy of aligning with. As we endeavor to reveal accurate prophetic words it would do us well to pray according to this passage in Isaiah:
ONE—The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (and us): There is too much divination in today’s prophetic culture. The spirit of Balaam is strong. Instead of the Spirit of the Lord we are experiencing too much revelation from the realm of the soul or from the realm of the demonic.
Another problem that arose was the spirit of Balaam. To give you some history of this, Balak, the pagan king, literally bought the prophet Balaam’s ministry. Balak eventually sent women to seduce the men of Israel, thus bringing judgment upon them. It was Balaam that sold out the people of God. In keeping the spirit of Balaam, too often today, money has become the goal and prize of many in the church. Popular preaching has replaced prophetic preaching. Image has replaced anointing and the church is reduced to no more than a place where pop psychology tickles the ears of its parishioners on Sundays. The image-makers and the politically correct have dulled the sword of the churches and its men of God. ~Ron Phillips, Charisma Magazine article, “7 Demons that Attack the Church”
TWO—The Spirit of wisdom and understanding: Godly prophecy is the result of revelation received in the place of prayer. Why is this? Human wisdom and human understanding are all too eager to share their soulish revelation. It’s only when we pray and live in the Spirit that we can truly adopt supernatural wisdom. The mysteries of God will be revealed and human logic will be confounded. It’s sadly rare to hear prophetic words today that shock our senses instead of satiating them.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7 (ESV)
THREE—The Spirit of counsel and might: The Hebrew translation of the word “might” is power or force. When the Lion roars you can be sure that immeasurable power and force will be felt. Instead of turning our stomachs like too many softball prophetic words do today, God’s prophetic force will knock us to our knees. There will be clear direction, counsel, as to how we are to respond to the revelation. Cover to cover in Scripture we read prophetic directives that are intense and dependent on the right response of the hearer.
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:1-6 (ESV)
You can be sure John felt the force of those words, and the counsel was clear and urgent. I yearn for prophetic unction like this today.
FOUR—His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord: Words that don’t contain enough weight to cause the fear of the Lord to strike us are suspect. Even true, positive messages that would cause us to rejoice should still bear the marks of the fear of a most holy God. Instead of avoiding such sharp messages the next generation of prophetic warriors will delight in the safety, the plumb line, that the fear of the Lord is.
1 “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. Deuteronomy 28:1 (ESV)
15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Deuteronomy 28:15 (ESV)
God is ready to bless us beyond measure, and that blessing is even brighter in contrast to what will come to the disobedient. This is the delight that the fear of the Lord produces–the realization that God is full of love and mercy and we can be free from his wrath.
FIVE—He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear: It’s all too easy to gaze upon the landscape of our world and produce supposed prophetic revelation that will capture people’s attention. We can’t have anymore tabloid style prophecies that capitalize on the current events of our day. Proclaimers are much different than reporters. We need those who will hear God’s voice in secret and proclaim it to the people much more than we need to hear opinion on what is going on in society.
2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’ 3 Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Ezekiel 13:2-3 (ESV)
MY PROPHETIC WORD FOR 2017
I don’t mean this to be a snarky or creative way to end this article. I feel something burning very strongly in my spirit; something extremely simple.
While timely Rhema revelation must be received, the church must return to confidence in the Logos. The infallible written Truth. The Bible.
When timely prophetic words are given to me, I value them highly. However, I don’t seek after them. I don’t crave them. I only need them when God knows I do. What I do long for is the Word of God, the Bible. I deeply desire for it to explode in my Spirit in fresh new ways. I want God’s eternal Word to capture me!
8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8 (ESV)
89 Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Psalm 119:89 (ESV)
35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35 (ESV)
I exhort you to dive into the Word of God. The wealth it contains will transform your new year much more powerfully than a low level prophetic word ever will.
Consider some of the following and begin your quest to encountering God through his Word. Take note of the promises and also of the conditions associated with them. Let the Lion roar. May the fear of the Lord delight you. May your new year be marked by the force of the very breath of our mighty God!
22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! 23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50:22-23 (ESV)
7 “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. Deuteronomy 28:7 (ESV)
22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! 23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50:22-23 (ESV)
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High, 15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:14-15 (ESV)
34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:34-36 (ESV)
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (ESV)
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 (ESV)
That’s a start. Now go ahead and receive the remaining promises in the Bible that are waiting for you in the new year. There are thousands.
Join me in Poplar Bluff, Missouri for the BULLHORN CONFERENCE on July 10th and 11th!
Discover how to hear God’s voice and contend for revival as you release powerful prophetic messages into the nations!
The last time I was in Poplar Bluff I released a prophetic word. This is a key area and this is a key season:
JOHN BURTON 5-09-2015
I FEEL THE LORD SAYING THIS LOCATION WILL BE A BULLHORN FOR THE NATIONS. THIS IS A VERY CLEAR WORD OF THE LORD THAT I’M HAVING RIGHT NOW. A BULLHORN FOR THE NATIONS THERE WILL BE MESSAGES COME OUT OF THIS PLACE THAT OTHER REGIONS HAVE REJECTED. AND DO NOT PRESUME YOUR VOICE TO BE QUITE.
DO NOT PRESUME YOUR VOICE TO BE INSIGNIFICENT. OBEY MY WORD AND SPEAK THE WORD OF THE LORD. AND WHEN THAT PURE WORD COMES OUT OF YOU I WILL SHOUT IT TO THE NATIONS FOR YOU.
I FEEL SUCH A WEIGHTY SOBRIETY ABOUT THIS. I FEEL GOD IS WAITING FOR A VOICE THAT WILL SAY THE THINGS THAT WILL GET THEM KICKED OUT OF MOST CHURCHES, THAT WILL SAY THE THINGS THAT WILL CAUSE THEIR FINANCES TO COME TO A STAND STILL- SAY THE THINGS THAT WILL CAUSE THEM TO BE MOCKED AND PERSECUTED. HE IS LOOKING FOR A PEOPLE THAT ARE NOT TRYING TO SURVIVE ON THIS EARTH AND PAY BILLS AND BUILD A REPUTATION. HE’S LOOKING FOR A PEOPLE THAT WILL DIE THAT WILL BE HUMBLE WHO WILL SURRENDER ALL, WHO WILL OPEN THEIR MOUTHS AND SHOCK THE NATIONS WHO WILL DELIVER PEOPLE FROM SURE TORMENT IN HELL.
I HEAR THE LORD SAYING THAT BEFORE REVIVAL BREAKS OUT THERE IS GOING TO BE A GREAT CALIBRATION TO THE TRUTH OF THE WORD OF GOD THAT HAS BEEN HIDDEN UNDER A BUSHEL. NOW IS THE TIME TO SHOUT THE MESSAGE TO SHINE THE LIGHT THAT WILL BLIND THE EYES OF SO MANY THAT ARE NOT WILLING TO SEE. THERE WILL BE RESPONSE BY A READY REMNANT AND A HUNGRY PEOPLE WHO WILL FINALLY MEET JESUS THAT THEY’VE ONLY YEARNED FOR.
LOCATION: Conference Center, 727 Ridge Avenue, Poplar Bluff MO
TIME/DATE: Friday, July 10th 7pm, Saturday, July 11th 1pm & 6pm
Contact us at www.carriersoffire.org/contact if you have any questions.
Discover four powerful keys to experiencing an explosion of truth in your life!
All too often I run into some amazing Christian people who are standing strong and pressing in, but also experiencing frustration at the lack of impact the Word of God has in their lives.
God’s Word is a burning, exploding, penetrating and living message that should cause us to collapse to the ground while trembling—yet that is rarely the experience for so many discouraged people of God.
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me… Revelation 1:12
…I fell at his feet as though dead… Revelation 1:17
I know it’s popular today to attempt to read the Bible through in a year. Kudos to all who accomplish this!
I’d like to offer an alternate option: read a portion of a verse for a month. If we can speed through verses, chapters and books without being overwhelmed by the searing revelation, we need to slow down. Read one verse and let it rock you to the core.
For example, you could take the next month and let the first half of Revelation 1:10 provoke you:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day… Revelation 1:10
What does that portion of a single verse do to you? Oh, to be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day! We could spend hours crying out to God on that topic alone! Hours can turn to days as we break and repent for times we might have grieved the Holy Spirit. A holy hunger to never leave that supernatural realm would then begin to overtake us and our entire lives would shift for eternity! A fraction of a verse can, and should, do that!
Then, the next month can be devoted to the rest of the verse:
…and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet Revelation 1:10
My spirit jumps at the mere thought of such an experience!
A zealous determination to hear the voice of the Living God will consume us as we, after the previous month’s revelation, are trembling in the Spirit of the Almighty!
The Word of God, the Bible, is most certainly a living message that should take us to our knees in extreme passion! Sadly, for most, it rarely does.
Four Powerful Keys
1. REALLY BELIEVE IT.
And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13
It’s at work in you who believe. Or, another way to say it: we must believe what we are reading for it to work.
Before I lose you, I know, of course, that we as Christians clearly affirm a belief in the Bible. The problem is that we are kidding ourselves. True belief is rare in today’s church.
Have you ever considered why so many messages on love, for example, have to be preached from the pulpit? So many don’t really believe that God loves them. They aren’t convinced.
There have been seasons where I have hit hard on the issues of holiness, repentance, the fear of the Lord and eternity. It never fails that someone submits a request for me to balance out the subject matter with teachings that focus mostly on God’s love. Of course, it’s true that the topic of love is inexhaustible, but that’s not the underlying argument. The reality they are communicating is that the discussion of God’s severity threatens their weak grasp on God’s love. They don’t believe God loves them—even though the Bible states it clearly, continually from cover to cover!
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love… 1 John 4:16
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
You see, if we really believed that God loved us, we would never be phased by other difficult truths.
It would behoove us to be settled on truths that God’s Word is settled on. We simply must believe the Bible!
When we believe the Bible, literally, everything changes. We will never be able to casually breeze through the pages of our Bible again!
Passages that previously bored us will ignite us! Just take a moment, grab your Bible, and open it up. Read. Believe. Let the hunger for a manifestation of what you just read electrify your spirit! Have some righteous anger over truths that have been dismissed or minimized in the past, and as a result have not manifested in your life!
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. Psalm 18:30
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7
All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal. Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your word. Psalm 119:160-161
God’s Word is true, no matter what our intellect or our situation may report.
A sure way to lose faith and fail to experience a life that is fueled by the power of the Word is to be led by our senses.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; Proverbs 3:5
If you want the power, the burning and the trembling to cease (or to never be found), then reject anything in Scripture that isn’t verified via science, experience or common sense.
Yes, you must read the Bible and believe it, no matter what your circumstances or experiences or knowledge may be. God’s truth trumps all else—even supposed facts, proofs or testimonies.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
Throughout Scripture God defied common sense and brought man’s wisdom to nothing. We don’t have the capacity to grasp the mysteries of God in the natural, in our minds.
I dare you to read the Bible, be challenged by the impossible and refuse to doubt even for a moment. You will grow like a rocket!
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 4:18-22
2. DON’T REJECT IT.
We cannot reject the unpopular, difficult truths in Scripture. We must receive everything God’s Word communicates to us.
Today we are witnessing a tragedy in the church that I call Buffet Jesus. Jesus is the Word, according to Scripture, but his words are received in part instead of in full. Unpopular truths are passed by in favor of the sugary, more satisfying messages.
It is not possible to be a Biblical Christian if we only receive the parts of the Bible that are affirming, encouraging or uplifting. We can’t shut out the rebuke, discipline, judgment or severity of God because they don’t match our faulty worldview. When we do so, the entire counsel of God’s Word becomes compromised and tainted. Even the parts that are received are incomplete and were not meant to stand on their own.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13
Truth doesn’t only edify us. It corrects us. It troubles us. It judges us.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Too many refuse to be teachable due to their own pride or their rejection of anything that contradicts their picture of a perfect God. They shut down wisdom that threatens their utopia to their own detriment.
The Israelites rejected the way God was functioning when Moses was on the mountain (receiving the law, ironically enough) so they rejected him in favor of a man-made image. They fashioned the perfect God that fit their fleshly demands.
When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.' Exodus 32:5-8
If we fashion our own golden calf, made up of compromised, incomplete and twisted truth, we are far from enjoying the fruit of a truly Biblical life.
3. ACCURATELY UNDERSTAND IT.
If we want to have the truth of Scripture manifest powerfully in our lives, we have to understand it. We must study and rightly interpret what it is saying.
It’s shocking how many verses are taught, declared and stood on completely out of context. It doesn’t make us evil people if we do this (if done in ignorance), but it does make us frustrated people!
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
For example, most people who I would connect with on a day to day basis would agree that God is the Healer and that we can experience divine health as Christians.
Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits– who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, Psalm 103:2-3
So, it’s common to pray for the sick and to cry out to God for him to heal them. And, the result, most often, is that the person remains sick. This can cause the truth of Scripture to become discouraging. In fact, the enemy can even cause people to reject the truth about healing in favor of a substitute teaching that matches what they are experiencing. How deadly this is!
If we understand Scripture we will know that nobody in the New Covenant ever prayed for God to heal anybody! The Apostles simply did it! The command wasn’t to pray to God to heal the sick, it was for us to heal the sick!
He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. Matthew 10:1
He gave them authority! So, we are to heal the sick, according to Scripture. When we pray for God to do it, that is contrary to the biblical protocol given to us.
Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Matthew 10:6-8
Jesus had to correct the misunderstanding of his disciples in Acts chapter 1:
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:4-8
Imagine the scenario: Jesus had just been slaughtered on the cross before their very eyes. Graves then opened up as previously dead people started moving about, the sun turned to darkness, the earth quaked—and then, a few days later, the previously unrecognizable, bloodied man had miraculously defied death and was standing before them!
You can imagine their passion and excitement. They were ready for their Champion to set up his Kingdom. However, they misunderstood how it would all unfold. Instead of telling them how he’d set up his Kingdom, Jesus told them to wait for the Promise—and then revealed that they would be establishing the Kingdom on the earth, not him!
Then he disappeared as the disciples were gazing into the heavens.
Today so many Christians are doing the same thing. We are gazing into heaven waiting for Jesus to do what Jesus is not going to do! In Acts chapter 1, the disciples transitioned into being apostles—sent ones. Jesus said something important on the cross, “It is finished.” He’s done. What else do we want him to do? He has defeated death, hell and the grave! Now WE are to move out and do what he empowered and commanded us to do!
If we don’t correctly understand this truth, we will be greatly frustrated and will wonder why the Bible doesn’t seem to work powerfully in our lives.
Another example of misunderstanding Scripture to our own detriment can be found in Romans 8.
How often have we attempted to encourage a fellow Christian with verse 28? Maybe they have gone through a divorce or lost their job. The go to verse for so many is actually some of the worst counsel that you could give them!
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
A correct understanding of Scripture would result in quite a different bit of counsel. Verse 28 begins with the word and. That should clue us off. That verse is contingent on the preceding truth. Something else must happen in order for all things to work together for good. Let’s back up and take a look:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. Romans 8:26-27
When we are weak, we are instructed to groan in the Spirit! That is the counsel we should be giving to people who are going through difficulty! It’s in the place of groaning intercession where all things work together for good. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is praying through us perfectly in accordance with God’s will. When that happens, our love of God intensifies (just try it!) and God’s will becomes ours as we agree in prayer. We don’t know what we are agreeing with, but it doesn’t matter. Our trust in in God and he can do as he wishes. He then makes all things work!
One more example can be found in Matthew. Have you ever called a prayer meeting and only had two or three people show up? In order to encourage the few faithful who showed up, you probably pulled out Matthew 18:19-20:
“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20
I’ve done that myself, though I’ve always been a bit troubled by the principle. If he’s there where two or three are gathered, is he distant when I’m alone?
So, I studied it out and found something quite interesting. Those verses aren’t about prayer or prayer meetings at all.
They are about church government!
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' Matthew 18:15-16
How interesting! Jesus is saying that he has our back when we go with two or three witnesses to deal with someone who is in sin and unrepentant! He’s giving us a protocol for church government!
I could go on and on with other examples, but I believe you understand the point. If we function with great intentions but contrary to Scriptural truth, we are bound to be disappointed with the results.
4. EXPERIENCE REVELATION OF IT.
It’s one thing to believe the Bible. It’s an entirely different thing to have a supernatural revelation of it.
We all must live and walk and pray in the Spirit, night and day, so we can have a never ending supply of revelation.
This is where so few Believers will go. If we aren’t living in the Spirit, we can’t presume to fully understand or believe the Word of God.
Check this out:
Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power (MIRACULOUS FORCE) through his Spirit (PNEUMA: BREATH, WIND, SPIRIT) in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend (SEIZE, POSSESS, APPREHEND) with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (DOESN’T EXIST IN THE VISIBLE REALM, OR EVENIN THE DREAM REALM), that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (WOW! FILLED, FULLNESS OF GOD!) 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power (MIRACULOUS FORCE) at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen
This miraculous force isn’t there to enhance what we see in the visible realm, or to give us the ability to dream a little bit more deeply…it’s there as a burning, blowing Spirit to take us on a journey into the invisible, supernatural realm.
Did you notice one of the most powerful miracles known to man revealed in verses 18 and 19?
We can comprehend and know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge! Wow!
This means that we can have a revelation of God that goes well beyond our mental, logical limits. Verse 20 goes on to say that he’ll do more than we could ask or think according to the power within us.
There is an invisible, supernatural realm that we are called to live in continually. When we do, the Word of God will transform us over and over again.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17
The word word (as in, word of Christ) is translated rhema. Rhema is the voice of God, the message of God that is delivered in real time. It’s God talking directly to us! Our faith isn’t increased as we simply read the Bible. It’s increased as we hear God’s voice, and that happens as we live in the Spirit!
…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Ephesians 6:17-18
Again, the word word (which is the sword of the Spirit) is translated rhema. It’s no mistake that the next part of the armor is praying at all times in the Spirit. When we live and pray in the Spirit, the rhema word of God will come to us, our faith will increase and we will advance with a powerful sword.
When the logos (the living, written Word) collides with the rhema as it’s stirred by the Spirit of God, our live in the Word will be alive, vibrant and active!
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. Hebrews 4:12
I’ll leave you with the passage I started with. Read it. Believe it. Understand it. Don’t resist it. Pray for overwhelming revelation of it. Let God rock you as the Holy Spirit burns through you. I pray that you will find yourself in the Spirit on the Lord’s day—and that his Word will transform your life!
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. Revelation 1:10-19
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
An overwhelming experience in God’s presence is coming—and that is going to produce some issues in the church.
I often say that a 2 Chronicles 7 church is coming—and it is going to be shocking when it does.
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
Now, that’s a good church service!
I am definitely wired to appreciate and crave encounters with Jesus that leave people wrecked and rocked. I’ve experienced visible glory clouds, manifestations of gold dust and oil and indescribable encounters that left me absolutely floored in the glory of God’s presence. I believe one second in God’s presence is enough to convince the most resistant skeptic and it’s enough to free people from years of demonic assault.
However his presence may not feel like what we think it might.
“I just want to feel Jesus.”
I was compelled strongly by the Holy Spirit in a recent season at Revival Church to call everybody back to the raw, elementary truths of Christianity. I shifted from teaching mostly on experience and encounter to the tenets of our faith for several weeks when I started to become troubled with the lack of maturity in the camp.
In fact, I was deeply grieved when I discovered one young lady who had connected with us and absolutely loved to worship and pray was actually steeped in extremely demonic New Age teachings. That was a wake-up call for me. How was it that we had a culture of experiencing God’s presence and someone could blend in who was so radically deceived? I knew I had to shock our culture with a fresh understanding of what God’s presence truly is—and it starts with his Word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
My experience there was priceless—I had to gain an understanding of the risk that will accompany the coming moves of God that will result in unprecedented manifestations of his presence. Many fiery Christians will shrink back when God’s true presence manifests.
When we shifted, I began preaching and teaching on the hard topics of salvation, Hell, repentance, the cross and the blood of Jesus. I have to admit I was stunned at the fierce resistance that came as I was communicating the elementary tenets of the Christian faith. I believe it’s possible to experience God’s presence and be so undisciplined and focused on personal experience that one isn’t even saved. This is the main reason this topic has to be addressed. Is it possible some of the most fervent worshipers and wildest dancers weren’t saved? I don’t know. I tremble at the thought of it.
In this critical season, instead of a careless, party atmosphere that had become common at Revival Church, the bar was raised as I called everybody into intentional steps of maturity, repentance and brokenness before the Lord.
What followed broke my heart—and confirmed my suspicions.
With the happy, dancing, party dialed down as we invited God to reveal himself to us in a deeper way, I saw sad faces and disengaged people.
Someone said, “I just want to feel Jesus again.”
What they didn’t realize is that Jesus was actually moving in greater power than he had previously, even though those prior encounters were something to behold. God was calling us deeper, beyond the entertainment and warm fuzzy feelings that are very much Holy Spirit initiated, but limited greatly. There was more—and for those who are addicted to happy feelings, more with God can feel like less.
“I want you to give me your life.”
I understand the struggle with feeling God’s presence removed.
In the early 1990’s God had absolutely overwhelmed my life day after day. I wish I could communicate how remarkable that season of my life was. God was overwhelming me with his presence and I became a different person literally overnight.
After work every day I’d go to the church, by myself, and pray for hours. That’s all I craved to do! God met me there continually, and I was rocked over and over again. My entire life revolved around the prayer room and enjoying God. Nothing compared.
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.
You see, the contrast in experiences was so stark that I actually wondered if the voice was coming from Satan! My lack of maturity in spiritual discernment and biblical truth resulted in a misdiagnosis! This is the risk of the presence movement!
I ended up rebuking the voice that was speaking to me! I was rebuking God as if he were Satan! The lesson is clear—our analysis of the situation must include sources much more comprehensive than feelings alone.
After all, would Satan ask me to lay my life down for Jesus? My feelings should have been shelved in that critical moment in lieu of applying the Word of God.
Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? Matthew 12:22-26
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.”
I didn’t realize it that night, but the reason I couldn’t enter back into worship is two-fold:
- I wanted to worship a God of my own design. I wanted to enjoy God conditionally. I cringed when he decided to reveal another part of his self to me, and since it wasn’t what I expected, I rejected him, at least temporarily as I was wrestling that night. God demanded that I worship him as he is, not as I presumed.
- I was resistant to embrace the costly, troubling part of Christianity—potential martyrdom. I was all in when the glory was on me, but I was quick to hesitate when something negative was required of me—my death.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:39
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.
When the person said, “I just want to feel Jesus,” they didn’t understand what they were asking for. In my experience I felt Jesus in a variety of ways. My problem was that I presumed happy feelings equaled Jesus and difficult feelings equaled Satan. Boy was I wrong. Happy feelings can be Satan and difficult feelings can be Jesus! We can’t discern emotionally, we must discern spiritually. Confirmation must come from the Word.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
Spiritual discernment bypasses feelings and our human senses and draws from the truth of Scripture.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16
The Rhema and Logos of scripture must drive us. We can’t allow ourselves to check in and out based on what we are sensing. Our commitment is unconditional and it can’t waiver based on what we perceive. We always return to the Word.
We must lean on Jesus and his revealed will in the Word of God.
Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding? Isaiah 40:13-14
The point is that our counsel must come from the Counselor. Our discernment must come through the spiritual truths found in the Bible. As we yield to the Word, the Holy Spirit can awaken revelation to us as it is needed.
We must move beyond the subjective statements about what we feel God is saying or doing and truly understand his revealed truth.
It’s all too common to hear personal opinions about what someone feels God is saying or doing, and how they feel led to respond, while their discernment is simply off or incomplete.
As we mature we become less reliant on nebulous senses and more reliant on both God’s clear voice and what he reveals to us in scripture.
This issue of leaning on feelings can impact us negatively in many ways. It’s easy to feel like God doesn’t love us due to the lack of, well, feeling him, even though the Bible makes it clear that he does love us. It’s so sadly common to hear about people who struggle their whole lives with this issue. Does God even love them? It’s a black and white question with a black and white answer. Yes. Their feelings have led them astray and it affects their entire life!
The answer is to simply believe! That belief doesn’t come from an experience or a feeling. It comes from reading text on paper (the Bible) and believing it. We don’t have to feel it to believe it!
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29
I often tell God that I want to worship him with my belief.
Back to the discussion about my season of teaching on the tenets of the faith. They didn’t result in a euphoric sensory overload. It wasn’t a glory teaching. So, some withdrew when the feeling wasn’t happy even though the information was truth. It was important truth. It was time to go to school and to the altar with tears in our eyes, and not a time of dancing.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Joel 2:15-17
The risk of the coming presence movement is that people will reject anything that doesn’t feel like glory, even when it is God.
The cry of our heart must be for God’s true presence to be with us always, regardless of the form it takes.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:10-11
His presence will hit us with truth as our hearts are cleansed, as we are consecrated. His presence can be glorious and it can be fierce.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. Psalm 97:5
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, Psalm 114:7
God will be raising up key prophetic and apostolic leaders who will be leading people into the presence of God and into the missions of God. There will be many focuses that don’t feel like God (note my experience of being asked to die above) that God’s leaders will call the people to. Will the people respond? What if they don’t sense the Holy Spirit on it? Feelings and senses are wildly subjective. I personally value counsel that’s directly from scripture much more than I do personal, subjective experiences or supposed discernment. That doesn’t mean I don’t at all value personal discernment, but that revelation almost always ends up on the shelf as I await confirmation.
Keep in mind, I radically affirm prophecy. I promote encounters and experiences. I believe in dreams and visions. I have an intercession team that evaluates prophetic data on an ongoing basis. But, the point remains—we see in part. And, we can often see wrongly. It takes humility to admit that.
Sometimes we are so in tune with our own historic personal encounters with the spirit realm that we can lose sight that we are human! I’ve had a lot of amazing encounters and I have a high level of sensitivity in the spiritual realm. I also know that I’m human and that I’ve been wrong in the past. I much prefer to submit prophetic data for evaluation and for confirmation in scripture. Just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is right. Feelings sit on the lowest shelf of the confirmation process. More revelation and confirmation is necessary to trust our feelings.
Apostolic leaders will call you to action very often in ways that are contrary to what you are sensing. Are you ready to respond regardless? Or will you declare that God isn’t in it and hold back?
Read the following point from my article “Five Reasons NOT to Leave a Church.” The reason I’m including it is to highlight how important it is to promote scripture over feelings:
When NOT to leave a church? When God tells you to. OK, I’m sure you are awake now! Have you ever played the God card? As a leader I’ve heard many times, usually through the grapevine, that, “God told so and so to move to another church.” Really? That’s odd. I was entrusted as their leader, which is a very serious position, and God just forgot to tell me about this? He left me out of the loop? Maybe Hebrews 13:17 isn’t what we think it is? The church I’m leading isn’t important enough for people to honor the mission?
I hope you are getting the point.
We are called to submit to authority—even ungodly authority like judges, elected officials and our bosses at work. Certainly it makes sense that God would include our godly authority in a decision making process as important as leaving one family and one mission for another.
The point is this—God wouldn’t just tell you to leave without your leader being involved in the process. In fact, can I just be blunt? It’s extremely disrespectful, presumptuous, rude and self-serving to abdicate your responsibility in your current church by leaving without honoring the authority in your life. Your pastor has every right to participate with you in your process.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (ESV) 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
Why was it important to include that portion of the article? To show how critical it is that we are biblical Christians. We can’t presume a feeling or a discernment exempts us from biblical protocol. I’ve felt on many occasions that a leader in my life wasn’t hearing God, and that I was, but in humility I had to surrender my opinion and follow my leader—and often I realize that my sense was in fact wrong or incomplete. We can’t gravitate toward what is easy, happy, glorious and enjoyable and away from what is troubling or negative by using the “God card.” God will often call us into his fearful presence, and we have to be unified with others who are being led in that direction.
Do you remember the Exodus? The Israelites were famous for analyzing their various situations based on their feelings. They felt alone and abandoned, so they crafted a new god made of gold. They presumed that the absence of God’s manifest presence meant something was off—yet, little did they realize one of the most astounding events in history was taking place up on the mountain! They then ended up dying in the desert when they presumed God was all about their comfort and happiness—and were indignant when he was asking them to put their lives on the line in a land of Giants—and a land of Promise.
I want to challenge you to get ready for a great outpouring of God’s presence. It will feel very different than you expect. It may be a glory cloud or it may be in the midst of a fiery furnace.
Ask yourself how you react to your feelings now. Do they drive you? Do you presume any negative feeling to be from the enemy? Do your feelings and emotions drive your decisions?
You need to wrestle with this now so you are ready to receive Jesus when he shows up. I am certain—he will manifest in ways we’ve never experienced before.
On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.” Exodus 19:16-22
Some of our leadership team felt it was time to communicate our current situation, and ask for twenty new partners to donate $100 per month.
Michele Perry, a missionary to Sudan, mentioned that she feels Detroit just may be a more difficult mission than even Sudan. Amy and I are missionaries to an area that is a challenge to even the most seasoned missionary.
We currently receive zero financial support from churches or organizations, and only around $500 per month from personal supporters. The economic crisis has hit us hard!
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Tonight at Revival Church was powerful… extremely powerful.
Here’s the audio of tonight’s teaching: http://www.johnburtonministries.com/teaching
And here are the notes so you can follow along:
Revelation Unto Mission—Jonah’s Story
I. The Word of the Lord
a. It’s troubling to me that people attempt to live their lives outside of God’s Rhema activity.
i. Jonah 1:1 (ESV) Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
ii. Of course, Jonah was being called into a world changing mission, and it’s a mission he would not even know about if he didn’t hear God.
iii. This issue plagues Believers around the world. The Word is rare to them.
iv. Let’s look briefly at the story of Samuel and Eli.
v. 1 Samuel 3:1-11 (ESV) 1 Now the young man Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli.
1. Note that Samuel was involved in ministry to God.
vi. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. 2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.
1. He was where the ark of God was… just being in God’s presence changes everything!
vii. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.
1. God’s voice was so clear that Samuel mistook it for a human.
2. When God talks, we should know him.
3. If our spouse were to show up at the house, we wouldn’t require their ID and a DNA test before we let them in. We know them. In similar fashion, we should know God!
viii. 6 And the Lord called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
1. Did you get this? Samuel was involved in ministry, but did not know God! He never had an encounter, never communed with him! He never heard his voice!
ix. 8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the young man. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”
1. This isn’t a simple statement! This is a key goal of this ministry and of God—to get his servants to hear!
x. 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.
1. The mission was about to be revealed.
b. Now, back to Jonah and his impending mission
i. We want to do all we can to avoid living a Jonah 3:1 life.
ii. Jonah 3:1-2 (ESV) 1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”
1. What happened between Jonah 1:1 and Jonah 3:1 is enough to destroy most people.
2. Chapter two is the prayer of Jonah… he’s is begging God to rescue him from his hell… it’s a common cry of Believers everywhere.
3. Let’s look at Jonah 1:1.
c. Jonah 1:1-2 (ESV) 1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.”
i. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire, and one of the largest. It was three days journey in circumference.
ii. Some estimate that 2,500,000 people lived in Nineveh.
iii. It’s also presumed that as a prophet, Jonah had but this single mission.
iv. He was born for Nineveh.
d. Being open to God’s voice in our lives will result in a lifestyle of inconvenience, challenge and impossible mandates. It will cause huge, huge problems in our lives, and it will cause damage and bring calibration to our lifestyle.
i. But, like Samuel, as we understand our roles to bring reformation and calibration to the church and to the world, we’ll see that our words won’t fall to the ground. We will function in power as we hear God and release decrees and declarations.
ii. Unlike Samuel, who was residing in God’s presence, and responded to God’s voice and delivered a difficult message to Eli that had every opportunity for offense, Jonah ran from God’s presence. The message and the mission was too costly.
iii. Jonah 1:3 (ESV) But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went on board, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
iv. Jonah 1:4 (ESV) But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up.
1. Some of you might be there.
a. Your goal? Hear God’s voice and run in the right direction. Simple.
b. Is everything around you breaking up? Are you on your way to your mission or moving away from it?
v. Jonah 1:5 (ESV) Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep.
1. Jonah was asleep, full of apathy, seeking out comfort.
2. This is plaguing the American church! We have created a place of comfort instead of advancing in a prophetic mission!
3. God is sending the waves and that boat is close to breaking up!
e. Now, watch this—this same scenario is about to be played out in the Church.
i. Jonah 1:6 (ESV) So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”
ii. Authorities are going to come to us for help—will they be disgusted as they find the church asleep?
iii. They will cry out, “Wake up! Perhaps your God will be the answer!”
iv. Now, watch this.
v. Jonah 1:7-10 (ESV) 7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.
1. It will be CLEAR to the world why devastation has come.
2. The church tends to blame the liberal left, the homosexual agenda, abortionists… but, judgment comes first to the house of God!
vi. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation?
1. That is a critical question! What are we occupying ourselves as a prophetic people with? The world will ask!
vii. And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.
1. They knew! Pagan idolaters’ knew Jonah was fleeing God’s presence!
viii. The world is angry… and this next statement is eye opening:
ix. Jonah 1:11 (ESV) Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous.
1. So life can get better, what must we do to the Christian church?
2. They are mad!
3. They are looking to eliminate us not because our values collide, but because we have failed to bring life to their reality!
x. Jonah 1:13-16 (ESV) 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.
f. Take Two:
i. Jonah 3:1-4 (ESV) 1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days’ journey in breadth. 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
1. That is an excellent verse to use in regard to ‘failed’ prophecy.
2. Of course, we know that Nineveh was not overthrown.
3. Today, heresy hunters would be all over Jonah and decry him as a false prophet.
4. Often, a purpose of prophecy is for it NOT to come to pass!
ii. Jonah 3:5 (ESV) And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.
1. God’s plan worked.
2. All of Jonah’s running and fear and disaster could have been avoided… his mission could not have been more simple… he simply went to a city and voiced a single sentence: In forty days Nineveh shall be overthrown! Mission fulfilled.
3. His whole life was about saying that single sentence and saving a city!
g. As Kingdom people respond or fail to respond, authorities will be impacted.
i. We see the captain of the ship seeing out Noah as he slept.
ii. We see the king of Nineveh respond as Noah obeyed.
iii. Jonah 3:6-9 (ESV) 6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
h. The last chapter of Jonah reveals what may have been the problem all along.
i. He was so distraught after the miraculous taking of an ENTIRE city!
ii. How can this be? Because of his selfish nature… his prophecy didn’t come to pass… the city was not destroyed… and he was concerned about his reputation… he didn’t want to be called a false prophet.
iii. He seemed to be more about reputation and self-preservation than he was about his Father’s business.
iv. This uncrucified quirk cost him dearly.