Monday, September 23, 2013

What's Wrong with the Prosperity Gospel?

The prosperity gospel is very popular today in America.  Everyone wants to be rich.  I am not advocating poverty or saying all Christians should take a vow of poverty.  But the test of prosperity is even harder than the test of poverty.

The prosperity preachers say that wealth is evidence of godliness.  Yet Jesus taught that we cannot serve God and wealth.  "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Mat 6:24)

And Jesus [also] said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."  (Mat 19:23-24)

The eye of a needle was the gate into a city.  When camels returned from abroad, loaded with merchandise, they had to get down on their knees outside the city gate, so that all the merchandise could be unloaded from their backs, so they could enter through the narrow gate. 

Jesus said we must "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it." (Mat 7:13)

"So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions." (Luk 14:33)

The apostle Paul said, "For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1Ti 6:10; cf., 1Ti. 3:3; Heb. 13:5).

The prosperity preachers are living in luxury, in multimillion dollar homes, often flying in their own private jets.  I know of one Christian couple that run a non-profit Christian ministry, and own his-and-her mansions one street apart in a gated community.  I know of another preacher who built a three million dollar home for himself, paid for by the church he pastors.  Don't they read these same Scriptures?  What men value highly is detestable in God's sight (see Luke 16:15).  If you want to know where their heart is, then just look at where their treasure is.  "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Mat 6:21)

The psalmist said of the wicked, "Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth." (Ps 73: 9).  And at one point he envied the prosperity of the wicked.  But after the Lord revealed to him their final destiny, he said of himself, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." (Ps 73:25).  Let me encouraged you to read the entire Psalm 73.

The apostle John put it like this: "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1Jn 2:15)

The apostle Paul described himself and his ministry team as "poor, yet making many rich" (2 Co 6:10), just as our Lord Jesus Christ, who "though he was rich, yet for your sake He became poor" (2 Co 8:9b).

Paul said, "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed." (1Ti 6:17-19)

James said, "Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?" (Jas 2:5-6)

He said God chose the poor of this world to be rich in faith.  And it is true that the poor are still more open to the gospel than the rich.  Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.” (Luk 4:18) James said that it is the rich who oppress you and drag you into court.

James also said, "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! ...You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter." (Jas 5:1-3, 5)

I feel sorry for those Christians who live like this, especially the preachers, because they are storing up treasure on earth, which our Lord warned against.  And they seem to avoid the teachings in Scripture about The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer.

The spirit of the wealth lovers
I would like to show you from Scripture how the love of money causes people to harden their hearts to the gospel.

Luke 16:13-14 - The Pharisees were lovers of money, so they scoffed at Jesus teachings on wealth.  Out of envy they falsely accused Him and had Him crucified.

Acts 16:16-24 - The masters of the fortune-telling slave girl saw that their hope of making a profit was gone, due to Paul's actions, and they proceeded to have the apostles beaten and imprisoned.

Acts 19:23-34 - The silversmith Demetrius and workmen of similar trades felt that their prosperity from their business of making silver shrines of Diana was endangered by Paul's preaching against false gods.  So they reacted angrily and started a riot to oppose the apostles.

John 2:14-21 - The money changers were angry because Jesus took away their ability to earn money selling sacrifices in the temple, so they retorted to Him, asking who gave Him the right to do that to them.

Mt 8:28-34 - The herdsmen and all the people of their town, who heard about Jesus sending the legion of demons into their pigs, implored Jesus to leave their region.  They did so, probably because of the negative impact it had on their pig business, and the financial loss they took, when all the pigs drowned in the sea.

Luke 16:19-31 -  The rich man who lived in luxury every day did not care for Lazarus, the beggar at his gate, who lived in poverty and misery.  He hardened his heart to the needs of Lazarus, and only took care of himself.  The same way that he hardened his heart to the poor, he also hardened it to the Scriptures.  Just as he would not listen to the cry of the poor, he would not listen to the Law and the Prophets, so he ended up in hell.

1 King 21:1-16 - Jezebel used spirituality (a fast) as a ruse to have Naboth falsely accused of evil, in order to get him executed, so that her husband could take his inheritance (assets), because Naboth would not give or sell his inheritance to her evil husband Ahab the king.

The same way these people hardened their hearts because of wealth, people today reject the gospel for it.  They may not even think they are rejecting the gospel.  Perhaps they think they already believe the gospel.  But if someone preaches the truth of God's Word to them, such as the verses I shared at the opening of this post, they may disregard it.  And if someone speaks to them about God's standard of righteousness and holiness, they might actually become angry with that person.  If a Christian becomes angry with another believer for proclaiming in Jesus name that we must live holy lives and seek God's righteousness, this reveals their spirit.

I  believe God blesses His children and prospers us.  I don't believe He wants us to live in lack of anything.  In fact, in Christ, we possess all things.  But in my opinion, the so-called "prosperity gospel" that is being preached today is not the true gospel.  It causes people to wander from the truth.  And in the end they pierce themselves with many griefs.

The Secret of Contentment
We must be content, as Paul was, whether living in plenty or in want.  He said, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Phil 4:12).  He not only knew what it was to have plenty, he knew what it was to be in need.  They key was that he had learned the secret of contentment in any and every situation.  He said that godliness is great gain, when it is accompanied with contentment (see 1 Tim 6:6).

The Pattern
The prosperity preachers are preaching a type of self-ism, the fastest growing religion, which they have disguised to look as if it is Christian.  Their teachings make it seem as if God existed for us and not the other way around. They talk as if God is our trained seal who has to jump through our hoops. They speak only of blessings and not about the need to suffer.

Being Rich Yet Very Poor in God
Unfortunately the Church of the western world in these last days has become like the wealthy Laodicean church. Jesus said to the messenger of that church, "Because you say, 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see." (Rev 3:17-18)

The messenger of that church said, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing." But the Lord said, "you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked." They were not cold toward God!  They considered themselves disciples.  But they were not hot either.  The Lord said they were lukewarm. "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. o because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." (Rev 3:15-16)

They thought they were wealthy, but in God's sight they were not.  Rather, they were just the opposite.

Howard Pittman's Testimony
On August 3, 1979, Howard Pittman, a Baptist minister for 35 years, died while on the operating table during surgery.  He appeared at the gates of heaven, and believed that he had served God faithfully for many years.

Howard said, "God proceeded to tell me just what kind of life I had really lived. He told me what He really thought of me and even others who did as I had. He pointed out that my faith was DEAD, that my works were NOT ACCEPTABLE, and that I had labored in VAIN. He told me that it was an abomination for me to live such a life and then dare call it a life of worship. Furthermore, He said to those who do it, they are in danger of experiencing His everlasting wrath."

He continued, "I could not believe He was talking to me in this manner! I had served Him for years! I thought I had lived a life pleasing to Him! As He was enumerating my wrongs, I was sure He had me confused with someone else. There was no strength left in me to even move, let alone protest, yet I was panicking within myself. No way He could be talking about me! All of these years I thought I was doing those works for God! Now He was telling me that what I did, I did for myself."

"God told me that He would not accept this kind of worship in the day of the Pharisees and He certainly was not about to accept it now in this the Laodicean Church Age. He put it to me as plain as words and actions could make it."  

In the end, Howard was given another chance to live for the Lord. He went all over the world, testifying about this experience. He said, "For those who call themselves Christians, this is the Laodicean Church Age in which we live. A high majority of so-called Christians are, in fact, living a deceived life. They talk Jesus and play church, but do not live it. They claim to be Christians and then live like the devil. They have bought the great lie from Satan who tells them that they are alright. He tells them that it is alright to go to church on Sunday and attend mid-week services but as far as the rest of the time is concerned, they are to get all they can out of life. As far as their Christian life is concerned, they believe they are comfortable and have need of nothing and as a result, they are only lukewarm Christians if Christians at all."

I encourage you to listen to his entire testimony on the video below or read Howard Pittman's testimony here.



All Prosperity Preachers Are Headed for Hell
Lastly, I would like to share with you a prophetic revelation about prosperity given to my sister Rachael Mushala from the Lord Jesus Christ.  I have written about her in my article Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell.  And on October 15, 2014, she wrote the following words on her blog in an article called Warnings From God To Preachers and Their Followers:

"The Lord was really angry about prosperity gospel preachers and He said, 'They have populated hell. All they talk about is prosperity, they don't warn my people about sin. What is money if you lose your own soul?'"

"Jesus was really sorrowful and He said, 'ALL PROSPERITY GOSPEL PREACHERS ARE HEADED FOR HELL, because they have misled my people. My people now think Christianity is all about blessings and they do not tell them about repentance. My churches are full of sin and all they tell them is prosperity. They are all headed for hell unless they repent.'"

I recommend reading her entire article for the full context, as the Lord singled out specific prosperity preachers for her to expose, namely Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and T.B. Joshua.

Likewise, as I wrote in my article Ibrahim's Experience in Hell, brother Ibrahim saw the present condition of lost ministers who are going down to destruction.  I recommend reading that article about his experience, but many of the lost ministers he saw were prosperity preachers, including Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and T.B. Joshua, as well as Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Rod Parsley, Myles Munroe, Mike Murdock, Paula White, Pastor Donnie McClurkin, Duncan Williams, and many others!

Putting it All Together 
As we have just seen in God's Word, you cannot serve God and wealth. We are commanded not to love this world or the things of this world. It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, and the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil. Therefore, to be a disciple of Jesus, a man must first give up all his own possessions.  You need to learn the secret of contentment in any and every situation.

Jesus and Paul both became poor, and were not like the prosperity preachers of today.  God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom. Sadly, miseries are going to come upon the rich in these last days.

Beware of "people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain" (1 Timothy 6:5).  If you are caught up in the teachings of the "prosperity gospel," please consider what you have just read in God's Word today, and amend your ways.

Take care, brethren, that you are not like the Laodicean church.  And if you are, then buy from the Lord gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  The Lord said, 'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent." (Rev 3:19)

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Rev 3:13)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading my articles Ibrahim's Experience in Hell, All Things Handed Over to Jesus Christ, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer, Holy Fire BaptismAvoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, and Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations. I also recommend Kenneth Hagin’s Forgotten Warning by J. Lee Grady.  You may also like the other posts in this blog available through the links in the side bar. You may also access my blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer

I am reading through T.L. Osborne’s book, Healing the Sick.  It’s excellent! Although he has recently gone to be with the Lord in Febraury, he saw tens of thousands of people healed in every corner of the earth, during his sixty-five years of ministry.  I absolutely agree with most of what he says, including that it is always God's will to heal us.  You can read more on that in my other post called, "Healing is in the Atonement."

However, he says that suffering is never from God.  I can perhaps accept that sickness is never from God when His children are obedient.  But the Scriptures have much to say about the role of suffering in the life of God’s children.

In the Bible, there are two kinds of suffering, as I see it.  One is suffering for sin and the other is suffering for righteousness. 

Suffering for Sin
Let’s begin with suffering for sin.  The Israelites are a good example of this kind of suffering.  When they sinned, they suffered.  But it was always redemptive.  The Lord was seeking to bring them back to Himself.

The Bible does teach us that God does sometimes try us in the fire, refine us like silver, and that’s painful.  “For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water, Yet You brought us out into a place of abundance.” (Psa 66:10-12).

In this Psalm, it even says the Lord laid an oppressive burden upon their loins.  God made men ride over their heads.  He put them through fire and water.  But look at what He did in the end ultimately – He brought them into a place of abundance. 

The only time you need to refine silver is when there are still impurities in it.  You only use this process to remove dross.  It would not be used on silver that is already purified.  So when we need more purification in our lives, the Lord uses the fire to remove the impurities. This comes in the form of painful sufferings.

I think that disobedience can surely bring sickness into the life of a believer (see Micah 6:12-13), which is one kind of suffering.  The way this happens is that when we walk in disobedience to the Lord, we open a door to the enemy and give him a right to get a foothold in our lives.  When the enemy comes in, he can and usually does bring sickness, pain, or disease.  The demons want to gain control of your soul ultimately, but they begin by getting into the body at first.  Satan always comes to steal, kill, and destroy.

In Deut 28:15-68 you can read how the Lord told the Israelites that they would experiences disease and hardship if they rebelled against Him.  You may be thinking that Jesus became a curse for us, and we are free from every curse, according to Galatians 3:13.  You are correct, but when a child of God walks in rebellion or idolatry, they come out from under that protective covering of Christ’s atonement.

There are plenty of practical examples in life.  One is alcoholism, which causes liver disease.  Another is tobacco addiction, which causes lung disease and other sicknesses.  Addiction to injected narcotics leads to disease that enter through the blood, such as AIDS, hepatitis, and others.  Gluttony leads to obesity and its related diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.  The list of examples goes on and on, and there are too many to cite.  The consequences of sin are serious and you cannot escape them if you walk in rebellion or idolatry.

The fact is that even when you're sick or in pain as a result of your own sin, the Lord still desires to heal you.  It's not His will to leave you like that. He wants you whole once again. 

Here is another example from the lives of the Israelites: 

At the end of Is 42 it says, “But this is a people plundered and despoiled; All of them are trapped in caves, Or are hidden away in prisons; They have become a prey with none to deliver them, And a spoil, with none to say, "Give them back!" Who among you will give ear to this? Who will give heed and listen hereafter? Who gave Jacob up for spoil, and Israel to plunderers? Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned, And in whose ways they were not willing to walk, And whose law they did not obey? So He poured out on him the heat of His anger And the fierceness of battle; And it set him aflame all around, Yet he did not recognize it; And it burned him, but he paid no attention.” (Isa 42:22-25)

From this passage we learn two things: it was the Lord who gave Jacob up for spoil and Israel to plunderers.  And He did this because they had sinned against Him.  They were unwilling to walk in His ways, and did not obey His commands.

This might cause a person to wonder if the Lord still loved them, or whether He still cared about them.  Was He finished with them and seeking to destroy them?

Immediately after this it says, “But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. "For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place. "Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in your place and other peoples in exchange for your life. "Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west. "I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring My sons from afar And My daughters from the ends of the earth, Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made." (Isa 43:1-7)

This clearly shows the Lord’s redemptive purpose in suffering.  He says to them, I have redeemed you.  Although they have sinned greatly against Him, He says, “You are precious in My sight, and I love you.”  And He calls them His own. He calls them His sons and daughters.  He promised that though they would go through the fire, they would not be scorched, nor would the flames burn them.  And though they would go through the waters, He would be with them.  He said that when they would go through the rivers, they would not overflow His people.

The Lord promised that although it was necessary for them to be purged, ultimately He would get them back for Himself.  That’s the same way the Lord works under the New Covenant.  When we sin against Him and refuse to walk in His ways or obey His commands, He will refine us in the fire.  He will give us up for spoil to the plunderers.  How could He let the enemy do such things to His chosen people?  How could He lay such an oppressive burden on us, and let the enemy ride over our backs?  Is this a loving God?

Yes, He is loving in all His ways.  In the end, He brings us into a place of abundance.  He knows what He is doing!  The question is whether we know what we are doing.  And do we know what He is doing in all this when it is happening to us?  Or do we panic and think the Lord has forgotten us? Are we surprised by the fiery trials?

The apostle Peter says, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.” (1Pe 4:12-13)

From Peter we learn that fiery ordeals do come upon the saints of God for our testing.  It’s the will of God.  Being saved is not easy.  It’s a difficult thing.  When we have impurities in our lives, the Lord will burn them up. He will bring judgment to His house, not to destroy us, but to purify us, so we may be saved.

“For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” (1Pe 4:17-19)

Peter says it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved.  The judgment of God begins now with the household of God. The only way through it is to entrust your soul to the faithful Creator and do what is right.

In all of this, we know that Christ has suffered for sin, but not His own.  He has suffered for our sins. 

Peter says, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (1Pe 2:21-24)

Christ suffered for you.  And He bore your sins in His body on the cross.  The Lord has made a way for us to be saved, as well as healed.  We don’t have to earn our salvation. But we do need to follow in the steps of Jesus Christ, according to His example.  That includes dying to sin and living for righteousness.  If you refuse to do that, then you reject the sufferings of Christ for your sin, and you must suffer for your own sin.  If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the sinful nature, you will live.  But if you live to please the sinful nature, you will reap destruction.

Suffering for Righteousness
I said there are two kinds of suffering in life, and I have just explained the first one, which is suffering for sin.  Now we’ll discuss suffering for righteousness.

Peter called this "suffering unjustly" or "suffering for doing what is right," and taught that we find favor with God when we patiently endure it.

“For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.” (1Pe 2:19-20)

If you are going through some kind of suffering for your own sin, and you endure it, there is no credit in that.  You just need to repent and let the Lord have His perfect way in you.  Let Him use the fire to purge and purify you. And if you are sick, you need to call upon the elders of the church to anoint you with oil and pray for you, according to James 5:14.  And if you have sinned, you will be forgiven, according to James 5:15.

On the other hand, there is suffering for the sake of righteousness.  This happens when you do right and suffer for it.  Perhaps you refuse to do unethical things or immoral things that your employer wants you to do. You may lose your job and suffer financially for it.  Likewise, you might refuse to take such a job in the first place, if you know in advance what it will require.  In that case, you may also suffer through a longer period of unemployment and financial difficulty.  But the Lord will see this and be pleased.  He will bless you in the end, and give you something even better than what you would have had, if you had followed the ways of the world.  This has been my experience in life.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to suffer.  That’s what the Scriptures say.  Peter said, “You have been called for this purpose.” (1 Pe 2:21).  He was referring to doing what is right and suffering for it, then patiently enduring it (see 1 Pe 2:20).  That’s the purpose for which you and I have been called.  The problem today is that many preachers have taken the cross out of the gospel; however, there is a cross for every disciple.

The apostle Paul said, “For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.” (Php 1:29-30)

Paul did not run from suffering, but embraced it.  He had lost everything for Christ and considered knowing Christ of greater value than anything else, "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;"  (Php 3:10; also see 1Th. 2:9; 2Ti. 2:3, 2:9; 3:12; and 4:5)

Paul said, "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Act 14:22). 

The Lord told the church in Smyrna, "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life." (Rev 2:10).  And I believe the Lord would say the same to us today.  Do not fear suffering!  We have nothing to fear, if God is for us. Rather, rejoice that you suffer for Christ (see Mt 5:11-12).  If this message frightens you, then meditate on Rom 8:28; 1 Pe 5:7; Is 26:3; and Psa 56:3-4.

A preacher named Paul Gabanek, who suffered much for Christ under communism, said in his autobiography, Ministry of the Holy Spirit in My Life: "If we have love of Jesus, nobody can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38 to 39). Yes, God is with us in every situation of life. We need the love of Jesus Christ. Without His love we cannot suffer, we cannot bear tribulations or temptations."

Brother Gabanek stated: "In those last days of my imprisonment they put me in a disciplinary cell for eight days. It was a little room like a tomb in underground. Only a little of light came in. The guard took me down and locked the iron gate. As I lifted my eyes in prayer I had a vision: I saw Jesus Christ with His apostles at the table eating and drinking at the last supper. And immediately I heard Jesus saying to me: 'I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,' (Luke 22:15) and when He was saying: 'before I suffer,' He looked at me. I understood Him, but I was not sorrowful. He suffered much more for us than we can ever suffer for His sake. And our suffering for Him is blessed, because it is for righteousness’ sake. His suffering for us was much harder, because it was for our sins. (1 Peter 3:14)"

Now I am in total agreement with T.L. Osborne regarding the fact that God is not going to send sickness into the life of an obedient believer to refine the person (see Exodus 15:26).  I believe that healing is in the atonement and that we should stand on God’s promises about that.  But there are many other types of suffering that you may have to endure as an obedient believer.  Among these may be persecution and conflict, hardship and difficulty, beatings and imprisonment, troubles and distress, sleepless nights and wrecks, and a host of other possibilities like Paul endured (see 2 Co 6:3-10).  You cannot always make these go away.  And the Lord will use them to further refine you, just as Peter taught. 

Even those who obey the gospel still need to be purified.  There is not one of us who doesn’t need some work of purification in our lives.  We serve a holy God, and He has called us to be holy as He is holy.  We serve a perfect God, and He’s called us to be perfect as He is perfect.  We need to seek His righteousness, pursue holiness, and aim for perfection.  Seek peace and pursue it.  Pray for the holy fire to purify you from everything that will not pass through the fire as purely from God.

For, "The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.” (1Pe 3:10-11)

Peter also said, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,” (1Pe 4:1).  Suffering in the flesh does bring you to a place where you cease from sin.

Even the archangel Gabriel told the prophet Daniel, "Those who have insight among the people will give understanding to the many; yet they will fall by sword and by flame, by captivity and by plunder for many days. Now when they fall they will be granted a little help, and many will join with them in hypocrisy. Some of those who have insight will fall, in order to refine, purge and make them pure until the end time; because it is still to come at the appointed time.” (Dan 11:33-35)

This is not about bad people being punished.  It’s about those with insight and understanding falling by the sword and being burned to death.  It’s about righteous people being taken captive and plundered for an extended period of time.  The purpose for it is to refine, purge, and make them pure until the end time.

You see, this is the end time.  We are about to witness the return of Christ.  And the Scripture says “that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Eph 5:27)  He is going to present to Himself the church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing – one that is holy and blameless.

So let’s not be surprised at the fiery trials that come upon us. “But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.” (1Pe 4:13-16)

Putting it All Together
There are basically two kinds of suffering.  One is suffering for sin.  Everyone who sins suffers for it, unless they repent and accept the suffering of Jesus Christ that He suffered for their sin in their place.  Even believers in Christ can suffer for sin, if they walk in rebellion or idolatry.  This could be sickness, disease, pain, financial distress, imprisonment, or a host of other possibilities.  But the purpose is always redemptive.  Though the Lord sends these things upon us, He promises that we will not be destroyed by them. The Lord is always seeking to bring us back to Himself into a place of righteousness, peace, abundance and joy.

The other kind of suffering is for the sake of righteousness.  It’s when you suffer for doing what is right, and that’s unjust suffering.  The Lord is not going to send sickness upon His obedient servant, so we can be sure of that.  I will concede that Job was the most righteous man on earth in his day, and yet he still suffered more than most of us ever have. But consider how God blessed him in the end.

We need to stand on the promises of Deuteronomy 28: 1-14; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24; Ps 103:1-3 and James 5:14-15. We need to walk in the perfect health He has paid for on our behalf.  But there are a host of other things that can happen to a righteous believer, and we cannot possibly list them all here.  That could include dishonor, evil reports, being regarded as a deceiver or imposter, being punished, seeming to be poor or having nothing, imprisonment, captivity, sword, flame, and even dying. So let's not forget that or remove it from the gospel.

This message is not intended to frighten you.  Do not fear suffering, but trust the Lord through it and rejoice that you share in His sufferings.

I close with the words of the apostle Peter, “Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” (1Pe 4:17-19)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note If you know a believer going through fiery sufferings, please share this article with them.  If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy Holy Fire Baptism, The Afflictions of the Righteous, The Burning Ones, The Three Elijahs, The Refiner's Fire, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, Holy Living in a Perverted World, and Aim for Perfection. You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Aim for Perfection

These days it seems like most so-called Christians have given up on the idea of perfection.  They are willing to settle for compromise with the world and sin in their own lives, doing so under the excuse of grace.  But grace is not a license for sin.  So I’d like to examine the Scriptural standard for the life of every disciple of Christ.  The standard is perfection.   To be more precise, it is sinless perfection.

You May Not Sin
Jesus spoke to the man whose hand was healed, and warned him not to sin anymore. “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.’” (Joh 5:14).  Why would Jesus tell him to sin no more, if it were not possible?  Wouldn’t that only frustrate the man? No, the Lord would not command him to do something that was impossible.

He said, “sin no more.” That expression comes from the Greek words “harmatano meketi.”  The word “harmatano” means “to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize), that is, (figuratively) to err, especially (morally) to sin: - for your faults, offend, sin, trespass” (Strongs).  And meketi means, “no further: - any longer, (not) henceforth, hereafter, no henceforward (longer, more, soon), not any more.”  “Meketi” comes from the Greek root word “me,” which is a primary particle of qualified negation, such as “not, neither, never, no, none, nor, or without” (Strongs). And the other root word “eti” means “yet”, still (of time or degree): - after that, also, ever, (any) further, (t-) henceforth (more), hereafter, (any) longer, (any) more (-one), now, still, yet.” Therefore, "meketi" emphasizes the discontinuation of an act already in progress and the negation of an act in the future.

After Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, He used that same expression to warn her to leave her life of sin.  “She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.’” (Joh 8:11).  That expression once again comes from the Greek words “harmatano meketi.”

The apostle John wrote his epistle, so that his readers may not sin.  “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”  (1Jn 2:1-2)

John said, "You may not sin." That expression comes from the Greek words “me harmatano” meaning "sin not" just as the apostle Paul used in his epistle to the Corinthians, when he wrote, "Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame." (1Co 15:34). Other English versions say, “sin not” (KJV) or “do not go on sinning” (ESV).

John taught that sin has no place in the life of one who is born again. He said, “We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.” (1Jn 5:18).

I believe the Lord would say the same to us today as He and His apostles said then, "Do not sin anymore."

Depart from Iniquity
The apostle Paul said, "Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and, 'Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.'" (2Ti 2:19). He explicitly said we must abstain from wickedness. Other versions say "depart from iniquity" or "depart from unrighteousness."  This leaves no room for any unrighteousness at all in our lives. We have a responsibility to depart from it.

Do No Evil
The Holy Spirit spoke through the mouth of Isaiah saying, "Cease to do evil!" (Is 1:16b). Likewise, the apostle Paul prayed for the Corinthians that they would do no evil. He said, "Now I pray to God that ye do no evil." (2Co 13:7a, KJV). The Greek word for "evil" here is "kakos", which means that which is  worthless, depraved, sick, injurious, bad, evil, harmful, or wicked. This should be our prayer also for ourselves and others that we would do no evil, in other words do nothing wicked, wrong, bad, harmful, or sinful in any way. This is even more important than praying that we would be spared from suffering evil.

Be Perfect
Jesus said, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mat 5:48).  The word “perfect” is “teleios” in the Greek, meaning “complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); completeness: - of full age, man, perfect.”  When Jesus said, “as your heavenly Father is perfect,” it clarified that was talking about godly perfection.  Obviously what Jesus referred to was moral perfection of the same kind that our Father in heaven has.  He would not command us to do something that was impossible, so we know this is attainable.

The apostle Paul also said that Epaphras prayed earnestly for the Colossians so that they may “stand perfect.” He said, “Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.” (Col 4:12)

Likewise, that was the way Paul prayed for the Corinthians.  In the context of praying that they would do no evil (2 Cor 13:7), as I mentioned previously, He said, "But we pray also for this, your perfection." (2 Co 13:9b, MKJV). The word “perfect” is “katartisis” in the Greek, meaning “perfection” (Strongs). That is the goal.

How to Attain Perfection
But how do we attain such perfection?  There is a responsibility on our part to be perfect, as Jesus said. We certainly have an active role in submitting to the process. However, the Lord carries out the process, as a refiner does with silver or gold. Peter said that Christ Himself will perfect you through suffering.  “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” (1Pe 5:10)

Paul also said the Lord will perfect the good work He began in you. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Php 1:6).  Note that Paul says the Lord will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus, which means it is an ongoing work until the Lord returns or until we go to be with Him.

Therefore, while we must actively participate and make every effort to be perfect, it does not depend completely on us. Ultimately it is the Lord's work in us, without which we could never be perfect.

Now But Not Yet
So then are we perfect already, or is it still something we seek to obtain?  The apostle Paul made it clear that he had not already become perfect.  “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” (Php 3:12).  Now I can relate with that! Although he admitted he was not yet perfect, he made it his aim to reach that goal, since that was the reason Jesus Christ laid hold of him.

On the other hand, Paul also referred to himself among those who were already perfect.  He said “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;” (Php 3:15).  Paul spoke in the first person plural in the present tense, when he said “as many as are perfect.” So we see that although Paul had not already become perfect, he was in fact leading a perfect life to the greatest extent possible at that time.  I call this "Now, But Not Yet ."

A Perfect Conscience
The gifts and sacrifices of the Law could not make the worshiper perfect in conscience.  “Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience,” (Heb 9:9b). 

But those who accept the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ are not guilty, not only because of destroyed records, but because of a purged conscience.  When your conscience has been purged, it becomes perfect.

This is a glorious gift from God, because a guilty conscience makes a person miserable.  And it only keeps the person bound by sin, so they keep repeating the same thing.  But a clear conscience is liberating and free. It is no longer obligated to sin, but is obligated to righteousness.  Thank the Lord for a clear conscience!

Spirits made Perfect
The apostle writing to the Hebrews said that when you come to know the Lord, “You have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,” (Heb 12:22b-23)

We are one with the entire Body of Christ, including those who have already gone before us into glory.  They are the spirits of righteous men, women, and children made perfect.  That’s what we are, if we know Jesus and obey His commands.  Note that is says we are "made perfect" and the One who made us perfect is the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s what we are becoming, and we’ll soon join that heavenly throng.

Is Perfect Simply Being Complete?
Some people who teach about perfection say that the Greek word for “perfect” simply means being “complete.” They imply that is doesn’t really mean moral perfection as we understand it in the English language. 

But James said, “And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (Jas 1:4)  James uses two different words here, “perfect” and “complete”.  The word “perfect” is “telios” in the Greek, which we have already defined as perfect.  The word “complete” is “holokleros” in the Greek, meaning “complete in every part, that is, perfectly sound (in body): - entire, whole.”  Since James said, “you may be perfect and complete,” we know there is a difference between “perfect” and “complete”.  We know that when the Scripture speaks of being perfect, it does not simply mean “complete.” Since James used both these terms side by side, we know it is God’s will for us to be perfect, and it is possible for the believer.

The Power of the Tongue in Perfection
James described a perfect man as one who does not stumble in what he says: “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” (Jas 3:2).  He said the reason such a man is perfect is that the tongue will direct the course of one’s entire life.

Jesus said, "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” (Luk 6:45).  The mouth speaks from whatever the heart is full of.

Since the tongue merely speaks from the overflow of the heart, then the real issue is one of the heart.  Therefore, ask the Lord to give you a perfect heart, as David prayed for his son, Solomon: “and give to my son Solomon a perfect heart to keep Your commandments, Your testimonies and Your statutes, and to do them all, and to build the temple, for which I have made provision." (1Ch 29:19)

What if You Do Sin?
And always remember, “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”  (1Jn 2:1b-2). If we do sin, Jesus Christ is our Advocate with the Father.

John also said, “If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1Jn 1:7). Aren't you glad to know that as long as you walk in the Light as He is in the Light, the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin?

Never forget, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1Jn 1:9). Confess your sins, and He will forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

Aim for Perfection
Make it your goal to be perfect.  Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  Pursue holiness (Heb 12:14).  Finally, brothers, good-by. The apostle Paul said, “Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Cor 13:11)

Putting it All Together
There is no place in the Bible that says God tolerates any amount of sin. The Scriptures teach us that we are to be perfect, even as our heavenly Father is perfect.  That's God's high standard for our lives. We are to sin no more. Depart from iniquity. Committing sin is no longer allowed. If we continue in a sinful lifestyle, then something worse may happen to us than what the Lord originally healed or delivered us from.

He has promised to give us a perfect conscience that is clear and free of guilt.  When you are born again, your conscience is restored and made to be like that of a little child once again.  That sets you free to soar like an eagle and obey the Lord in true righteousness.

You can't do this yourself.  You need a definite work of the Holy Spirit in your life.  That's why we must pray for perfection for ourselves and one another.

The main culprit is the tongue, so watch your tongue.  And ask the Lord to give you a pure and perfect heart, so that the words overflowing out of it through your mouth will be perfect also, and order your whole life in a way that is pleasing to God.

You don't need to go around telling everyone you are perfect.  Just live it.  And the Lord will continue to perfect the good work He started in you until the day of Christ Jesus.  He'll always be working on something in your life, as you continue to pursue truth, righteousness, and holiness.  So if you do sin, repent and confess it, so you may be forgiven.  A daily life of repentance is the shortest path to God's mercy, and that's how I seek to live my life.

Brethren, aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. The "Let This Mind Be in You" and "Nothing is Impossible" paintings © 2012 are by Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Author's note I invite you to see these related articles of mine: Holy Living in a Perverted World, Called to be Blameless, Sins That Will Keep You From Heaven, Is Obedience Optional?, Faith Works!, Obedience by the Spirit, Righteous Deeds and White Robes, Doing What is Right, The Straight and Narrow Path, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer, and Striving to Enter the Kingdom of God. You can access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Three Elijahs

Elijah Oil Painting by Boris Vallejo
Today I’d like to look at three "Elijah" prophets in Scripture.  You probably knew there was at least one Hebrew prophet Elijah, who lived on the earth and served God during the reign of King Ahab.  He is the Elijah whom the three disciples saw with Moses there on the Mount of Transfiguration, talking with Jesus (Mt 17:3).  In addition, many of you are aware that a second Elijah has already come.  But I want to show you that there is still another Elijah.

“And He [Jesus] answered and said, ‘Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist.”  (Mat 17:11-13)

Note that Jesus said, “Elijah already came,” and “Elijah is coming.”  By this He showed that there are two prophets.  In addition to the original prophet Elijah, there are two prophets who come in the spirit of Elijah, but do not necessarily have his name.  He acknowledged that Elijah had come, which the disciples understood that He meant John the Baptist, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah (see Lk 1:17).  But He also said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things.”  Since Herod had already beheaded John the Baptist (Mt 14:8), who did Jesus mean when He said that Elijah is coming to restore all things?

This is what the prophet Malachi spoke of when he said, “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the LORD of hosts.” (Mal 3:1).  This is a double prophecy, referring to both the first and second coming of Jesus Christ.  There is yet to come in the spirit of Elijah a prophet who will prepare the way for the Lord before He returns.

Malachi prophesied for the Lord: "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse." (Mal 4:5-6).  That was the end of Malachi's book of prophecy and the final portion of Scripture written before Christ.  I believe this final Elijah will restore the hearts of God’s children to the Heavenly Father before Jesus come.

I believe that just as the first Elijah had a holy fire ministry, as did John the Baptist, so will the final Elijah have such a ministry.  Elijah called down holy fire upon the sacrifice on top of Mt Carmel (1Ki 18:37-38), when  he prayed, “'Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again.' Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench." Later on another occasion, he also called down fire upon the captains and their fifties (2 King 1:10).

John the Baptist was a fiery preacher like that, who said, "The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Mat 3:10-12)

So we know that the final Elijah will also have a holy fire ministry.  Just take a look at the coming ministry of the two, last-days witnesses in Revelation. “And if anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way.” (Rev 11:5). 

As we look at the prophets Elijah and John the Baptist, we can see that the only people who were hurt by them were the wicked and the ungodly.  The poor, the humble, and those who repented of their sin were not harmed in any way.  The same can be said of the last-days witnesses.  The only people who will be harmed are the ones who want to harm them.

My wife and I have pondered whether there will be just two such witnesses, or a whole company of people who will move in the spirit and power of Elijah.  We tend to believe that while these two witnesses in Revelation 11 will operate in Jerusalem, there will be many others operating like that around the world.

An Important "After-Word"
I originally posted this article on September 13, 2013, when the Lord gave me this message.  However, today on October 30, 2013, I received further revelation, as I read the book of Revelation.  I had just read the verse that says, "Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, 'Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!'" (Rev 8:13)

And having read that verse, I was actually looking for a prophetic word that John Paul Jackson once received and shared in an interview with Sid Roth, in which he said that 2012 would be a year of woes. However, the Lord led me to the following video recording of an interview between Paul Keith Davis and Terry Bennett, a prophet of the Lord.

Amazingly, this interview was conducted on September 3, 2013, and covers the same subject that I have covered in this article.  They discussed the coming days along with the subject of Elijah and the Bride of Christ.

From 4:00 to 5:10 in the video, Terry Bennett mentions that Elijah has appeared to him in person on numerous occasions.  At 7:45 he says that in at least one instance, Elijah appeared to him with the Lord and the angel Gabriel.  He was told that the Bride must be made ready for the Lamb, and that Elijah is being released.  This means the actual, original prophet Elijah is being released by the Lord to carry out his end time ministry.  In a recent conference, brother Terry said he has seen Elijah return to earth in a chariot of fire. This explains why he has been appearing to brother Terry and others.

Brother Terry was also told by Gabriel that the time for the release of the Spirit and power of Elijah has arrived.  It was explained to him that this Spirit and power will be upon a worldwide company of men and women, whom God has invited to operate in the Spirit and power of Elijah.

He said that God's invitation to be the Bride extends to all, but it requires total consecration. As James says, the double-minded man must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Note that the Scripture says the Bride must make herself ready, and one primary reason the Holy Spirit has been given to the Church is to enable this.  "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." (Rev 19:7)

The ministry that will occur in connection with the the Spirit and power of Elijah, and the Bride making herself ready will be a very atypical (unusual) time for the Church in most arenas.   This is not going to look like business as usual in the Church. 

The Lord did give a warning to brother Terry that this ministry is not about drawing attention to Elijah or any man.  There must be great humility in all of this, just as Elijah had during his original ministry.  The Lord said that if the message is not about pointing people to the Lamb who is coming, it's going to be judged. The message must direct people to the Lord. 

Brother Paul Keith said at around 16:00 in the video that he believes it's not OK not to believe the Word regarding fullness.  I agree completely.  Some have rejected what the Word says about fullness in Christ, which includes healing and holiness, as well as the baptism with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  The Lord paid a great price at Calvary to make these possible, and it's not OK with Him if people reject these.

This all reminded me of what brother Neville Johnson said in a conference I attended exactly one year ago, on October 31, 2012 in Sheffield, England.  He said that on June 22, 2012, the Lord woke him at 3:00 AM.  He started to pray. Suddenly, people came into his room. It was the Lord and other people -- Elijah and Moses.

The Lord said to Neville, “The day has now come when you will see great anointings come to the earth. Tell my people they are the sent ones to this generation. I am about to release my true apostolic anointing. Many angels are about to come to the earth. They will come and bring this anointing.” Truth will come like never before.

The prophet Elijah said to Neville, “The Spirit that was upon me when I was on the earth will be upon men once again, and He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse."  He quoted Malachi 4:6 about this. The church is to reveal the heart of the Father to this generation and show them what God is like." He spoke about redemptive judgments coming to the earth. When God’s judgments are in the earth it will bring righteousness.

God showed him some of the terrible things coming to the earth, and Neville emphasized that we must be there to tell people why they are happening.  Neville said the foundations have been eroded: holiness and the baptism of fire. When a person is baptized in fire, there is an absolute change in their life. The old is burned right out. They need a baptism of Holy Spirit and fire. This is exactly the same message the Lord has been speaking to me and my wife, and which I have been preaching, so this bears witness to my spirit.

I would like to encourage you to watch the Paul Keith Davis and Terry Bennett interview at this link.

Putting it All Together
My friends, it’s time to seek the Lord. Consecrate yourself wholeheartedly to Him. Let the holy, Refiner's fire do its perfect work in you.  Ask the Lord to purify you from everything that will not pass through the fire as purely from Him.  Love the fire of God!  Ask the Lord to baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire, as John the Baptist said He would do (Mt 3:8).

If there is anything in your life that is not right with God, get it right with Him.  Clear the way for the Lord, because He is about to return in the glory of His Father with His angels, and he is coming for a Bride without spot or wrinkle.  He will reward every person for his own deeds (Mt 16:27).  Without holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14)

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Boris Vallejo Elijah Oil Painting Original Art (1981). Boris Vallejo presents this stunning vision of Elijah, the prophet of Israel during the ninth century B. C.

Author's note I invite you to also read these related articles of mine: Holy Fire Baptism, The Burning Ones, Baptized by Blazing Fire, The Refiner's Fire, Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, The Fiery Sufferings of the Believer, Healing is in the Atonement, Covenant Prayer, Baptized with the Spirit, and Your Rewards Are Based on Your Practice. You can also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.