Editor’s Note: Cross-posted as an AskDrBrown question.
Actually, one of the foundations of our non-violent faith is the understanding that the Bible’s often “violent” language is not to be applied literally but spiritually. That’s why Christians around the world are almost always the persecuted rather than the persecutors, and it is only when Christians completely abandon their faith – and so are Christians in name only – that they commit atrocities like the Crusades and Inquisitions.
Jesus is our pattern and our model: When He was reviled He did not revile in return, and when He was physically attacked He did not fight back. “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:21-23).
At the same time, Jesus, along with others in the New Testament, often used “violent” language. Consider the following sayings of our Lord:
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).
“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12, ESV).
“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils” (Luke 11:21-22).
How about these sayings of Paul?
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. . . . Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:10-11, 17).
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6, ESV).
And what do we make of the fact that Paul sometimes addressed his fellow-workers as “soldiers”? He wrote of “Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier” and “Archippus our fellow soldier,” also urging Timothy to, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:25; Phm 2; 2 Tim 2:3).
And what we do make of the “violent” imagery of the Book of Revelation? “Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon– the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world– was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last– salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth– the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.” (Rev 12:7-11)
How do we reconcile the fact that the New Testament has so many “violent” references with the fact that Christians through the centuries have been persecuted and martyred for their faith (rather than persecuting and martyring others), turning the other cheek and refusing to retaliate? It’s all quite simple: As I said before, Jesus is our example! He was the one who asked the Heavenly Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him (Luke 23:34), telling Pilate that He was not an earthly king, otherwise His servants would have fought for Him (John 18:36), and ordering His disciples to put down their swords in His defense, since those who live by the sword also die by the sword (Matt 26:52).
As I wrote in my book Revolution: The Call to Holy War, as followers of Jesus, we are called to put down our swords – meaning all physical violence in His name and allegedly for His cause – and take up our crosses, laying down our lives rather than taking the lives of others. That is part of the very essence of the gospel!
That’s why we have Christian classics like Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, not Foxe’s Book of Murderers. And that’s why some of the great Puritan authors like John Bunyan and William Gurnall could write books with titles like Holy War and The Christian in Complete Armor without anyone ever thinking that they were calling for violent Christian acts. And that’s why William and Catherine Booth could found The Salvation Army without anyone thinking they needed to buy a gun to join. This really is self-evident.
In fact, the non-violent nature of the gospel (meaning, non-physically-violent) is so clearly spelled out that Christians can also use the parts of the Old Testament that were, originally, written with physical violence in mind – like Joshua taking the city of Jericho (Josh 5) or like David writing that the Lord trained his hands for war and his fingers for battle (Ps 144:1) – and apply them in an entirely spiritual, non-physically-violent fashion.
To repeat: We understand that as followers of Jesus, we put down our sword and we take up our cross, willing to lay our lives down for a lost and dying world but refusing to take up even a stone to hurt those who oppose us.
Is it possible to misunderstand the biblical imagery and become physically violent “for the gospel”? Only if the Word of God is willfully misused and abused; only if the entire example of Jesus and His New Testament followers is completely ignored; only if the testimony of hundreds of thousands of persecuted and martyred Christians through the centuries is systematically scorned. But to do so would be to call the ocean dry or fire cold or a mountain flat, and that’s why there are so few examples of “physical violence in Jesus’ name” despite the presence of hundreds of millions of Christians worldwide.
And that’s why, despite the tremendous passion against abortion that exists in our Bible-believing, Christian communities, when an abortion doctor is killed by a professing Christian, this is the rarest exception to the non-violent rule. It is, to be a sure, a very terrible exception, but the reason it stands out with such glaring clarity is because it is so contrary or our whole spirit and philosophy. We are pro-life, not pro-death, otherwise, rather than four abortion doctors killed in more than three decades of pro-life activism – this, of course, is four too many – there would have been 400 or 4,000 dead by now. The very thought of this is at complete odds with the message and method of Jesus, and the idea of killing people for the sake of the gospel is utterly revolting.
In a future article, I’ll address the question of why I and others often use the terminology of martyrdom – the willingness to glorify Jesus by life or by death – but I’ll close this here by restating the obvious: It is our use of “violent” biblical language in a non-violent way that helps us focus our energies on spiritual battles rather than physical battles, using the weapons of love and self-discipline and longsuffering, overcoming evil with good. We know that our fight is not with people but with spiritual forces (Eph 6:12), and we understand that we overcome evil with good and hatred with love (Rom 12:17-21). It is only those who willfully misconstrue this message – and therefore who do not truly know Jesus – who could possibly misunderstand it.
For further insights on this, see Revolution: The Call to Holy War, especially chapter ten, “Take Up Your Cross, Put Down Your Sword: The Jesus Way to Revolution.”
Posted in Revolution & Justice Tagged with: armor, christians, demons, language, Paul, spiritual warfare, violence
The book of Judges opens with the recounting of Israel’s campaign to conquer the territories allotted them by the LORD, capturing the cities and dispossessing the inhabitants of the land. However, despite initial success in the united victories of Judah and Simeon, and from the house of Joseph, Israel failed to complete what they had begun. Instead of utterly driving out the people and tearing down their altars, they began to grow weary in the battle. Rather than maintain their position of strength until they thoroughly displaced their enemies, they subjected them instead to forced labor, content to live among them by concession rather than endure the ongoing conflict and delayed settlement. This premature cessation of warfare and the permitting of idols and altars provoked the angel of the LORD to come up from Gilgal, declaring that Israel’s compromise essentially amounted to their establishing a covenant with the people of the land, and effectively breaking their covenant with Him.
The LORD would now no longer drive out the people from before them; instead they would become as thorns in their sides, and their gods as snares to them. When the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, they lifted up their voices and wept, naming the place Bochim as a testament to their tears. Had the angel also announced where he had come up from, then the extent of their disobedience would have been driven home more fully: Gilgal, where the reproach of Egypt had finally been rolled away from them, the wilderness-born. Here Israelites were circumcised the second time, after the previous generation and ‘men of war’ had died in the desert for refusing to listen to and obey the voice of the LORD. Now they too had failed to heed and wholly follow the call of God! T. Austin-Sparks called Judges ‘the Book of the tragedy of the unfinished task,’ offering prophetic insight in his reasoning of why Israel’s initial response to the heavenly vision presented to them failed to result in a completion of the call: weariness and discouragement in the battle, the loss of heavenly vision, and the subtle seduction of the spirit of the world finding place among them.
These reasons remain relevant today, and are worth expounding upon while considering our own beginnings and ongoing fidelity to the call of God.
It was a long, drawn-out warfare that Israel was engaged in, often discouraging because of the continual, seemingly unending, conflict. They began well, but the faith and initiative required for consecutive battles exhausted their resolve, and depleted the warring spirit in their midst. This tendency was not new to the tribes. The sons of Gad and Reuben had formerly been rebuked by Moses for asking permission to prematurely settle down with their possessions in the land of Gilead, reasoning that it was “..a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” (Numbers 32:4) ‘Must we continue further? This will suffice as an inheritance for us. All we require is right here!” Moses’ response? “Shall your brothers go to war while you yourselves sit here? Now why are you discouraging the sons of Israel from crossing over into the land which the LORD has given them?” Going on to call them a ‘brood of sinful men,’ he compared them to the spies sent into Canaan, whose rejection of their inheritance and rebellion against the LORD had provoked His anger and sentenced them to the wilderness-wanderings from which they would only emerge forty years later – and even then to reveal the same reluctance to arm themselves before the LORD for war, ‘..until He has driven His enemies out from before Him, and the land is subdued before the LORD…” (Numbers 34:20,21).
As the people of God, we must be careful that the desire for personal or familial respite from the warfare does not result in our premature withdrawal and permanently distancing ourselves from the ongoing battles of our brethren or the eternal purposes of our God. Often at such times we display a disproportionate concern for our own welfare and security over the encouragement of and commitment towards His inheritance in a fully-established people. Like Esau, we can despise our eternal birthright by sacrificing it on the altar of immediate need; returning exhausted from our labors in the field, we impatiently demand temporary fullness, consuming the bread that perishes dipped in the bowl of betrayal.
In ceasing to contend then for the LORD’s sake, their vision was reduced from a heavenly compulsion to an earthly compromise. The pressures of sustaining faith and family life amidst constant resistance and opposition, and the compelling argument of the undeniable progress that had been made, both in their lives and in the nation ‘for the LORD,’ made subjugation an appealing alternative . Though outwardly the warfare ceased, the battle continued for the heart and its occupancy. If the people of God would not wholly assert their influence upon the land, then the unholy practices of its inhabitants would do so upon Israel’s latent affections. Dwelling in relative peace with the people meant that their customs and idolatry went unchallenged, practiced daily without opposition from Israel.
Soon the people of God began to make comparisons and draw conclusions about the worthiness of serving their God versus the benefits of the gods of the surrounding nations. Like the psalmist (Ps.73), they envied the apparent ease and prosperity of the lives of the surrounding nations they were called to displace; lives unrestricted by the governance of covenant and commandments, without the burden of prolonged periods of testing and the constant proving of their faith in order to secure the pleasure of their God. Wearied tolerance begat interest and dialogue, which produced acclimation and finally integration. Having yielded their fighting spirit and surrendered the exclusivity of their inheritance by attempting to accelerate the promised rest, Israel forfeited their eternal purpose. From casual observers of Canaanite culture, they became conversant, even intimate, acquaintances. Preparing a table for their enemies in the presence of their God, the unguarded hosts entertained the spirit of the world, their lives increasingly comparable, and indistinct, from that of their neighbors.’ Spiritual fruit akin to that originally discovered in the valley of Eschol was intended to come to maturity and remain on prominent display in the land. Instead, Israel were choked by the the decision to remove themselves from the heavenly ground of the sojourner, whose soil is enriched by obedience and seeded by faith, and chose, like Lot, to position themselves according to earthly appearances and the more obvious security of the ‘greener pastures.’
Like Israel, perhaps some of us have made a similarly-inspired beginning, only to become discouraged in the passage of time between our initial response and the fulfillment of the promise. Have we surrendered the fighting spirit before his purposes have been fully accomplished in and through our lives? Have we become increasingly wearied by the warfare waged in the workplace and in our homes, in raising children and contending for our marriages amidst the influence and opposition of the principalities and powers in the land? Somewhere in the midst of this Kingdom campaign, we reconsidered our place in the eternal purposes of God, and lost sight of the heavenly vision. The varied yet daily demands upon our faith and endurance resulted in our questioning the validity of the call and the assurance of victory. Perhaps the exhaustion from an extended trial, a hope deferred or disillusionment with a leader, ministry or community prompted a discussion with your spouse that began the exploration of the possibilities of an alternative way to reside in the land, proposing a change of city perhaps, or establishing a new identity in the marketplace? Did we consider the lot of those around us: our neighbors, former friends, family members, whose lives, and homes, in comparison to ours, were void of similar conflict, uncomplicated, even carefree? Did we come to the conclusion that we had, in fact, kept our hands clean and hearts pure in vain, since the rewards of doing so were not as apparent as we expected?
However, the fruit of such decisions to withdraw from the ground of battle and remove ourselves from the garrison of the Body has left the hearts and lives of many individuals, marriages, and children increasingly compromised with the world, captivated by its idols, compliant with its culture and complacent in their witness and pursuit of God. In the Emmaus Road fellowship to which some now belong, they discuss all the things that have taken place, reminiscing about the movement, ministry and meetings that gave them identity, and laid the foundation for a bright, revolutionary future. Only now they struggle with the dichotomy of the days that have followed, and the seeming demise of the prophetic movement began by Him who was “..mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people..?”
Disappointment blinds us to the reality of His presence with us, and weakens our war-resolve, so that in the battle that yet remains – regardless of our desires or declaration of independence – we are prevented from seeing and knowing Him in the power of His resurrection. We stand wondering at those around us who question our sadness, unaware of all that we have seen and heard, not understanding all that we had hoped…
Yet there is hope still. Men, husbands, and fathers: you may have remained behind at a crucial time when brothers, as well as kings, are to be found at war. You discovered upon your rooftop of discontent that you were still engaged in battle, though now to contend alone. But listen: the voice of those brothers you once fought alongside to victory, who remained engaged in the fight, is calling back from the field with the invitation to gather yourselves together, recover the warring spirit, and claim a crown (See 2 Sam.12:26ff)! Consider your ways, and take courage! Whether discouragement or disengagement, intimidation or impatience, caused the building and establishing of His testimony in our lives and in the land to be delayed, His Spirit and promises remain. Let us consider our ways and realize that, dwelling in our rebuilt, historic houses with restored hardwood floors, we have become as desolate as His house lies in many places, without investors and unrestored by a historic revival. Instead of laboring with God for eternal riches and holy purposes, we have instead worked independently for earthly wages placed in holey purses.
Once more, in a little while, he is going to shake the heavens and the earth, and all nations. We know His judgments have already begun in His house. We cannot afford to dwell on the memories of former glory, delaying obedience to building His house now because of our lament for the legacy of a monument – or movement – that was. It is not about a place but a people, built together as a spiritual house, offering in themselves the revolution, protesting by their very lives the spirit of the age, and provoking Jew and Gentile to jealousy and inquiry because of the love they have for one another. Perhaps we have been subjected, and not willingly, to a season of futility, left wondering at the glory promised to be revealed to us, transforming us, supposedly incomparable to our suffering? Could it be that He permitted such frustration in the hope that our longing would produce a patience that was allowed her perfect work, making us complete as children of God and knowing the glorious freedom from enslaving self-interest and the deeply-entrenched interests and affinity for the things of this world?
Let us take courage again, encourage and build up the hearts of our brothers by emerging from the comfort of our ’spiritual conversation’ with the people of the land and affiliation with their brands, and wield again the sword of the Spirit, clothed with Christ and the full armour of God! Let us return to holiness and the fear of the Lord, speaking to one another in such a way that captures His attention and delights him with every hearing, filling a book of rememberance from those who love His name. If we mourn, let it not be because we are ‘comparers of the glory,’ but like Nehemiah, sharers of the grief over the remnant whose walls are broken down and whose gates are burned with fire. Let us fast and pray in identification with our brethren and their sins, repenting and reminding the LORD of His covenant, seeking the favor and provision necessary for restoration and rebuilding together a people and place of His pleasure and glory. Ridicule and opposition from the people of the land, or even their attempts at inclusion (see Nehem.2:19ff; Ezra 4), will always be present and seeking to frighten, frustrate – or participate in – the completion of God’s testimony.
We must refuse to cease from this good work, overcome discouragement with prayer, and not withold provision by closing our hearts and hiding ourselves from our – and His – own flesh: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren..’ (1 John 3:16). Temptation to compare our lives with the world around us will inevitably rear itself, but when we enter the sanctuary of God we will remember their end, and desire nothing on earth besides Him who is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. When we were younger, we girded ourselves and walked wherever we wished. Now older, we find ourselves bound and directed toward a place we had hoped to avoid, or like Jonah, fled. If so, now is not the time to slumber unconcerned in the hold of the ship while the storm rages, or demand, ‘What about him?’ in response to Jesus’ call to follow. Let our concern be to support one another wherever we are in the ongoing work and warfare, to rally together at the sound of the trumpet, and, remembering the LORD who is great and awesome, fight for our brothers, our sons, our daughters, our wives, our house – and His. Our ways are not hidden from the LORD, and the justice due us does not escape His attention, remembering the end intended even for Job. He gives strength to the weary, to those who have grown tired, and to the once-vigorous young men who have stumbled badly.
“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up toward Him again with wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”
Posted in Scripture Tagged with: Canaanites, compromise, courage, God, idolatry, israel, perserverance, Revolution & Justice, spiritual warfare
Here we are at the end of another year – 2008, and facing a new year – 2009. I like this time, as it provides me with a great opportunity to thank God for what He has done, evaluate it and anticipate the new season of opportunity. In light of this, I am sensing God challenging me on a few issues as a leader in His Church. In 2008, I have sensed an incredible battle in the heavenlies regarding the Church. I am not one for speculative spiritual warfare type talk. (The Western Church is often confusing and messy over the issue.) However, this year I cannot get away from it. It’s as if there is an incredible opposition against the Kingdom of God. ‘Well, that’s obvious,’ you may say, but this last year has been significant in a way I cannot quite convey, and leaders across nations are saying the same thing. The enemy does not want the Kingdom being expressed as Jesus prescribed through the Church in these final days. Satan is attacking God’s people on all fronts – pride, secret sin, unbelief and fear of the new. It is crucial that the Western Church comes through this season in the right way, because I am convinced that there is a new day of Kingdom emphasis about to dawn. But it will cost us!
In the year 1998 the Lord changed my life during a season of intense dealing in the fires of revival at Brownsville, Pensacola, FL. I found myself as a 20 year old British guy standing face to face with Jesus. It seemed that everything I knew of the Christian life had suddenly taken on a larger magnitude, or had been emptied from me altogether. Everything now for the Lord was ALL or nothing. He wanted me to be His disciple, and in return, He wanted to give me Himself.
To add to that, the time of revival was not just about good feelings, although I experienced those. Rather, it was a time of incredible pain, as I went through a season where the Lord allowed a ‘dark night of the soul’ to come upon me for a month. A power of darkness came during that time and tested me, not with sin, but my standing before God and His call on my life. Yet in all of this, God was not only pouring in the new wine of the outpouring of the Spirit of revival, but He was preparing a new wine skin to hold that for future years to come. I needed stretching, changing, emptying, and that was painful but needed.
Mark 2: 22 says: “He pours new wine into new wine skins…”
This is a segment of Scripture which is remarkable, especially in the light Mark portrays these words of Christ. Mark has a beautiful way of putting accounts of Jesus’ life in a type of invisible connection, so that what the Spirit is speaking through Mark is not only seen in an isolated verse, but sometimes, in the connecting stories around it. Let me illustrate:
Mark 2 & 3 at first glance are an ad-hoc series of stories, with the lessons of the wineskin and Sabbath put right in the middle. But if we read this as a whole, in context, Mark is portraying a powerful truth. In Mark 2: 1 – 12, a paralytic man is placed before Jesus. But rather than proclaim healing over the man first, Jesus forgives the man’s sins! Never in Israel has anyone had authority to do this or dared to say this before! Yet Jesus did before the religious leaders of the day. And what’s more, to prove that that man’s sins were in fact forgiven, the man is healed – demonstrating that Jesus has the authority; that the man’s sickness was a result of sin; sins have been removed; and that Jesus was God – the Son. This was a new day, and it demanded a new understanding of this visitation of God through His Son.
Secondly, in Mark 2: 13 – 17, Jesus calls Levi to become one of His disciples. Levi is a tax collector, scorned by the people of the day. To make matters worse, Jesus and His disciples go to eat with Levi and other collectors and ‘sinners!’ Pharisees make judgments about those with whom He is eating and the One who is supposedly the Messiah. In a nutshell, Jesus says that He will call sinners to Himself and do it on His terms. This was not how men had perceived the supposed Messiah to have chosen His followers. This was new and demanded a new understanding of what this glorious Man was all about!
Then thirdly, the disciples are not fasting, as are those of John and the Pharisees. Jesus establishes before the critics that those with Him are not of an order according to man’s ideals, rather they are joined to Him. Those that are with Him are taking on a new law and Spirit as opposed to that of the old. This was not as men had prescribed things, yet a new understanding of the times and seasons was called for!
Fourthly, in verses 23 – 28, the disciples of Jesus are picking and eating grain on the Sabbath. Again, the establishment challenge Him. He replies that He is Lord of the Sabbath. A new understanding of Sabbath was dawning, and it demanded a new understanding of its meaning for the called out ones of Jesus.
Then in connection to the above, let’s take a general look at Mark 3. Jesus heals a man with a shriveled hand in a synagogue on the Sabbath. Now the authorities want to kill Him. The old cannot contain Him!
After this, Jesus is healing and delivering the masses. Evil spirits cry out in acknowledgment and fear. This has never been seen before! Jesus then goes and prays all night on the mountainside, and chooses the twelve to be His Apostles. THEY are now to carry this same authority and power. They are to take this ‘new thing’ of the Kingdom to the villages and towns. Yet despite this, the authorities claim He is working miracles and setting men free by Beelzebub’s power and even His own family says He is out of His mind! This demanded a new understanding of the Kingdom of God working through a Man and an uneducated band of followers in an unprecedented way.
To summarize, let’s get this straight in our thinking: Jesus is ushering in a new age of Kingdom ministry and grace, the religious establishment cannot grasp it; His family says He is crazy; yet demons KNOW and cry out and the everyday people want to be with Him. This ‘new wine’ is being poured out into a new wineskin, and religious men cannot fathom it, and powers of darkness are afraid and know of its potency!
You see it’s not that Jesus’ is being the latest new fad in town just to be different. Men like that kind of thing generally, and we have lots of that in the West today. Weird for the sake of weird, or radical for radical’s sake. (It might be rebellion!) But rather, the new thing He is doing carries a unique Spiritual power of a Divine order – that in itself is radical by nature. It’s as new wine, and it comes with tremendous force against the powers of darkness. The old order of Israel had tried to fit Him within their traditions, yet He was Lord of the Law and Prophets. Pharisees would not and could not hold Him, nor could His family understand Him. But demons know what’s really taking place, and a random concoction of young men from all backgrounds and dispositions are the ones chosen to be the new wineskin and carry the new wine. Through them demons are driven out. God is altogether radical and unique in His movements and His choosing of vessels, and He delights to reveal His Kingdom through such.
In Acts 1, Luke begins by recalling to Theophilus, ‘all that Jesus began to do and teach…’ – and then Luke proceeds with the beginnings of the new people of God, who carry on as a new breed of disciples, by continuing to do ‘ALL that Jesus is doing and teaching..’ Ministry is incarnational. The Local church is as Christ’s physical presence in a community – His wineskin, carrying what He is saying and doing to a lost world.
Therefore, as Christ’s initial ministry came with the potency of new wine fermenting in a wineskin, so too does His continuing ministry. His mercies are new every morning. Revival is like new wine, but so often the establishment wants to destroy or dampen, or our peers don’t always understand. History shows with the Wesleys, that the old cannot contain the new. It’s not that Jesus wants us to be divisive or rebellious – God forbid! But rather, when He pours out His works through us, the inevitable opposition will come, but His disciples are those who not only embrace the new thing but they allow deep reformation to come, that they may contain the wine.
A. W. Tozer said the following:
A religion, even popular Christianity, could enjoy a boom altogether divorced from the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and so leave the church of the next generation worse off than it would have been if the boom had never occurred. I believe that the imperative need of the day is not simply revival, but a radical reformation that will go to the root of our moral and spiritual maladies and deal with the causes rather than with consequences, with the disease rather than with symptoms.
Let’s remember that God has set His principles in His Word, for us to live by and practice, both individually and corporately. However, let’s not be guilty of trying to put our mold upon God’s people. I believe He is looking for the local church to carry His Kingdom, as a fresh and dynamic expression of the Head through a Body.
Finally, a new wineskin not only means that the Church’s practices must be radically examined, but that God’s vessels must be tested by fire. One man once told me: ‘If a man tries to bear the anointing without purity of the heart, eventually that anointing will crush him…’ We must allow God to radically reform us in such a way that pride, secret sin, unbelief and fear will be utterly eradicated from our hearts. Allow God to expand and enlarge our capacity for Him – what He is doing and saying.
God has also established His ministries in His people, through leadership. Leaders are a gift from God and needed to keep people from wandering and on track in ministry. We leaders are to be an example of flexibility in God’s Kingdom mission. Our job is to warn and instruct – yes, but also to train and release.
My prayer 10 years on from the fires of revival in Pensacola, and for this coming year, is that we will become that new wineskin that facilitates what He is DOING and TEACHING through us, to the World at large. We are to be stretchable and moldable in His hand, not according to systems of this world but according to His holy nature revealed in His Son, Jesus. God is looking for people as the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times and seasons. Such people uncompromisingly look for what God is doing and saying, and as Arthur Wallis said, ‘throw themselves into it…’
Nothing except this will turn the World upside down.
Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: Brownsville revival, Jesus, Kingdom of God, new wineskins, Revival, spiritual warfare