After all this crisis of late, I’m a bit burned out on talking about racial issues, violence in the streets and the coronavirus. What I want to push forward with is what I’m about to say – and unfortunately it can’t be separated from what is going on.
For twenty years I’ve been crying out for the church to awaken from slumber. For twenty years I’ve warned of the rising tide of hatred and the self-centered life focus that together have now shattered politics, ignited smoldering racism, broken up families, filled prisons, fed sexual perversion and exploitation, released the drug crisis, and more, generally leading us ever farther down a dark path.
For twenty years I’ve called for repentance and holiness to return as key messages in the church. For more than twenty years I’ve called for the church to resign from the culture of self-focus and return to a focus on the cross and the blood. For twenty years I’ve seen the Great Apostasy spreading like a cancer. For twenty years I’ve seen the proliferation of doctrines taught in the church that undercut the foundations of our faith and that fail to represent the fullness of who God really is.
For FORTYyears I’ve seen increasing levels of sin exposed in major Christian leaders. Through all of those years I’ve seen so-called Christians mock and ignore God’s moral laws and principles. For all of those years I’ve seen complacency grow in lockstep with a wussy view of God as the great teddy bear in the sky who is too gentle to deal with sin, too kind and forgiving to execute judgment, too permissive to issue commands and expect them to be obeyed. People object, “Oh my gosh! That would be legalism!”
For at least twenty years I’ve seen a slumbering and comfortable church stumbling sleepily toward a cliff and I’ve cried out for us to awaken. As a whole, my voice and others like mine have gone unheeded. Now people wonder, “Where is God? Why is society crumbling around us?”
The apostle Paul wrote
“You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts”Romans 13:9-14
Society crumbles because the church lost its voice of authority long ago. We lost our voice because we’ve been sound asleep. Then the virus lockdowns came and churches were forbidden to meet. Instead of standing up to it, instead of walking in faith, healing the sick and raising the dead, we rolled over in fear and we complied, just like the rest of the culture around us.
In mid-May, I was led of the Lord to use whatever platform I have to call churches across the nation to open as one on May 31, Pentecost Sunday, regardless of what governors and mayors might say. A few responded but the vast majority continued to wait for the government to give them permission. If we had been able to rise up as one in a mass movement to open our churches on that day, governments could have done nothing to stop us, and what a massive nationwide outpouring of the Holy Spirit we might have seen. But the vast majority simply rolled over and submitted. Too bad. What’s wrong with us? Where is the lion’s roar? No wonder we’re not heard. This is the hour for us to awaken, to shake off the slumber, repent and turn away from the cultural influences that have dulled our sense of righteousness and watered down our passion for the Lord.
I want to tear a couple of paragraphs from my upcoming book, THE LAST GREAT OUTPOURING, officially scheduled for release August 18. We should have copies in our New Song Store in early July. Here’s the quote:
Every real historic revival sprang from a focus on the cross, the blood and repentance. Holiness matters. God is about to do something stunning, but the vast majority of the body of Christ is not ready, sound asleep and/or captivated by a culture of self that ultimately fails to serve the purposes of the Kingdom of God. Too often and too much, we seek the glory without a focus on the cross where we die to self with Him, the blood that cleanses and the resurrection that releases life. We seek experiences of His touch, but fail to share in His self-sacrificial death. Because we fail to share in His death, we cannot attain to resurrection life. Worship then becomes a show. Church services become fluffy pats on the back that tell us how good we are, or how to be healthy, wealthy and wise, without truly changing the lives of those who attend. Revival becomes an effort to put butts in the seats rather than make passionate disciples.
The gospel of self-improvement can never be the gospel of God. It can never make good on what it promises. All real Christianity flows too and from the cross. The apostle wrote that ‘I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.‘Galatians 2:20
Therein lies the heart of it. I want to suggest to you that if the church had been living the life of the cross of Jesus Christ, sacrificially poured out in love for one another and the world around us, and if we’d been walking in His resurrection power, we might have had the kind of impact on this nation that would have prevented the violence and hatred we’re seeing today. Love would have sealed the breaches between people and between the races. Love would have preferred one another in honor so that racial prejudice could have been beaten back. Hate would have been overcome.
The ugly destruction brought on by moral sin and compromise would have been shown for the foul stench it is. Governmental officials might have sought out reliable Christian prophetic voices for advice and counsel because, like Joseph and Daniel in the Bible, we would have had the solutions to the problems they faced. We would have been the leaven in the lump that Jesus said the kingdom of God would be. Our influence would have permeated every level of society and formed a firewall against the burning fires of hell and the pain that has been inflicted on masses of people.
But it’s not too late. A remnant is rising with a broken heart and a passion for purity and the genuine presence of the Holy Spirit. The lion has begun to roar in their throats and they will not be silenced. Real love flows from the cross and the blood of Jesus Christ to fill the hearts of this figurative 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal, as God described them in Elijah’s time.
I’ve long said that we don’t need a revival. We need an awakening. The remnant is waking up and they’re ready to roar. The remnant is black and white and brown and Asian together, arm in arm as equals before the throne of God, loving the unlovable, forgiving the sinner, and leading the way in righteousness and peace. These will walk in supernatural signs and wonders that demonstrate the power and love of God.
The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.Romans 13:12