The Prophetic And The Next Thirty Years
The following is edited from a circulation letter penned to a number of prophetic friends centered in the Manchester, New Hampshire area in the Spring of 1998. It anticipates issues and transitions which prophetic understanding must negotiate over the next thirty years.
It has been ten years now since I first began writing these circulation letters to various ones, sharing from my depths what the Lord has shared with me….
So here I am once again, constrained to write on several main topics in a capsule form (each of which could take a book)—to a group of friends I hope will read the letter through and will take to heart what is written. From here—please be blessed, and let him with ears hear…
There are about four or five major unfoldings on my heart, which I believe are critical for the times in which we live. I share them with you as the Lord has shared them with me:
I. The Written Word, the Prophetic Word, and the Living Word
Beloved friends, do you understand the difference between these types of the Word of God? We're all acquainted with the Written Word—the Scriptures, and I think most of us understand it is not enough to have the Scriptures. God's Word as a reality goes deeper than Bible knowledge.
But then there is the Prophetic Word. Here, we are not so careful or wise. The Prophetic Word is the Word of the Spirit of God and mediated through human believers. It is the same Spirit by which the Scriptures were given (II Tim. 3:16). The Prophetic Word is the present-tense utterance of God before it has had time to crystallize into a written form.
The reason this is important is because, not realizing the limitations of the Prophetic Word, the overwhelming majority of people involved in the present tense prophetic movement are doing with prophecy what the fundamentalist and evangelicals have always done with the Written Word. Saints are failing to realize that the Prophetic Word is just as limited as the Scriptures—that like the Scriptures, the Prophetic Word is not final reality or essence of God's Word, but points to a deeper essence.
The church is fooled by the present tense impact of prophecy where it is not fooled into worshipping Scripture. Prophetic people know better than to be enslaved by the letter of Scripture and the image of its form. But prophecy is itself image and form—present tense form, yes—but form just the same. The fact that it is "present tense" doesn't change this.
Yet we are fooled just the same into lifting up this form prophecy, chasing prophecy, devoting ourselves to prophecy—in a way we would never do with Scriptures. We decry scriptural legalism. But yet we are "prophetic legalists," prophetic pharisees—coming again only to that which is form, and missing something deeper.
This brings us to the 3rd dimension of the Word of God—the "Living Word." What is the Living Word and how is it different from the Written Word and the Prophetic Word?
The Living Word is the reality to which the Scriptures and prophecy point. That reality is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." The Living Word is the Son of God Himself (The Word John 1:1) come to live inside of us—by Whose very substance we have been born-again (I Pt.1:23).
The Living Word is the substance that makes up our new identity in Christ, that resonates with Who He is within us, engendering secret communion with Him, and is the nature by which we are being re-formed in His image (ie, Christ formed in us —Gal. 2). And this is the reality toward which both Scripture and prophecy are given to bring us. The purpose of Scripture is to lead us to new birth in the Living Word, and to cause the Living Word in us to grow.
This is also the purpose of prophecy.
The difference between the Living Word, and Scripture or prophecy is that the Living Word is and centers us upon the Lord Jesus Christ. By contrast, both Scripture and present tense prophecy are manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Scripture is the record of an ancient manifestation of the Spirit (II Pt 1:21) while prophecy is a present manifestation of the Spirit (I Cor 12:7-8). But both are evidence of the Spirit as opposed to the reality that is Christ-in-you.
The Holy Spirit was given to lead us to Jesus, not Himself (Jn 16:13-14). So it is that the forms of the Word whereby He manifests through men are given to lead us to the Reality of who Christ is within us. But where we are led to glorify Scripture and prophecy themselves in the end, the Holy Spirit has been abused and misplaced.
I conclude this topic with this exhortation to my prophetic friends: Are you following prophecy of the Spirit or are you growing in the Living Word by means of prophecy? Is prophecy leading you to deeper intimacy, communion and obedience to Jesus within, or are you simply forming a prophetic club around a manifestation of the Spirit? —Let him with ears to hear—hear.
II. What Are We Looking For?
So here it is—1998. And what have we come to in the Lord? And where are we headed? What are we looking for? Peter describes prophets as searchers of the times (I Peter 1:11). As we look at the times, the state of the church, and the state of the world, what can we discern that can guide us?
Here is my report to you of the situation we are in. The situation is this:
We as a church have reached a "prophetic ceiling" concluding a cycle of revelations that was launched 50 years ago under the Latter Rain Movement of 1948-49. What do I mean by this? What I mean is that the church (myself included) has been functioning under a level of revelation that was birthed 50 years ago and has come to be fully developed, but has reached a ceiling past which it is unable to pass.
From a prophetic standpoint, nothing new has been revealed since the Latter Rain Movement. Everything we have today from "singing in the Spirit" to "expecting revival" to "5 fold ministry" to "manifestations of God" was given 50 years ago. Since then, it has been developed and filled out as far as possible—whether healing, or the prophetic, or the intercessory, etc. Now, we've reached this ceiling we can't get past.
If you listen carefully to everything out there—especially in the prophetic movement—nothing new is coming forth. Everyone is just "circling," going around on the same themes, having dreams, seeing visions, giving "thus saiths." There are bold words—words of judgment, words of revival, back and forth, etc.
But nothing is transcendently new. We are all sort of up against this blank wall—and we're waiting for what is on the other side to appear. I think all of us are aware that great and sudden change is shortly ahead. But what is it we are looking for? Here are our most common options:
- Economic collapse
- World War
- Natural catastrophe affecting the whole earth
- Manifestation of the Sons of God (ie, glorified saints)
- A new revelation of Christ
Past this we seem to be unable to peer. What I urge to all then is this: maintain a ready, diligent, vigilant heart for any kind of change above. For the one certainty is that major change is ahead. Do not be lulled by stillness before the storm. Be alert. Be sober. Be ready. That is all God requires: readiness. For only readiness itself is what will prepare us for the new realm of revelation and salvation ahead. This is why all Jesus said was watch and pray.
While we don't know what will trigger the entrance into the next realm of revelation, I do conclude by predicting the following:
1) The next realm of revelation will break the "mortality barrier."
I believe the main reason we can't see past where we are is because we have not broken the death barrier. I believe we have gone as far as we can in receiving revelations in mortal bodies and can go no further as we are. That's why we are only in circles now.
2) The next realm of revelation will completely bridge us through to the Kingdom Era.
The next realm will replace the blockages we have now about the tribulation, the return of Christ, the "rapture," etc. and will also redefine our position in the world relative to the world, moving us from isolated religious ghetto-ism to open frontline contest with the highest levels of world authority, systems and media.
I personally believe that we will see the unfolding of this new transitional revelation beginning this year, and that it will unfold over a 30-year period. This revelation will have less emphasis on the time frames because its focus will be on helping saints make the final transition from time to eternity. "Transition" is the key word that will characterize the next realm. "How to make the crossover from mortality to eternity" will be the focus.
Are you ready for this? He that has ears, let him hear.
III. Doctrines in Conflict: Identity, Morality, Nationality, and God's Nature
Over this same period of time (30 years) battlegrounds will shape up in the church over the following questions:
—Is our identity ultimately in Christ or in Adam?
—Is our destiny ultimately defined by our subjection to our earthly context, or by our calling to immortality?
—Is our destiny ultimately dressed in national identity, or in Christ past all nationality?
—Is our identity in Christ primarily individual or corporate?
—Are we ultimately related to God in His Fathering nature—through the Word—which calls us to the standard of His perfection, or in His Mothering nature—through the Spirit—that ministers to our need and imperfection?
Because we are bound to mortality still, the human-earthly side of each of these propositions is predominant and largely unchallenged. The great emphasis is on earthly context, national identity, corporate relationship, and the Spirit's Mothering ministry to human need. But as the mortality barrier begins to fall and direct entrance to eternity unfolds, watch for severe contortions in the church over the above issues.
He that has ears, let him hear.
[Ed. Note: When this article was originally written, the primary conflict in view regarding national identity pertained to Americanism and the spirit of patriotism. In the years since however, an even more important plane of identity conflict come into manifestation is the historic conflict with Messianic Judaism.]
IV. Universalism: Just What Is "The Love of God?"
As we wait for the Great Change just ahead, the Lord is also making known another great darkness upon the entire church that will also be challenged and become perhaps the most heated issue of conflict over the next 30 years of transition. It is a matter as strong and stronger than all the issues I've listed above, —it's an issue of darkness that many if not most of you are subject to also, —and it's the issue which will "least endear" me to you. We are speaking of none else than the meaning of the love of God.
To the point—there is today throughout the "evangelical-Spirit filled" church and indeed the world a thread of belief concerning the love of God that, in a word, goes something like this: "God is love. God is of course also universal. Therefore, the love of God has no definition, no delimitation, no parameters of expression."
This belief already has a name. It is known as "universalism." What universalism does is it extracts the love of God as seen through His goodness, kindness, and redemptiveness, then divorces it from the rest of who God is, and then lifts up that partial image of who God is as god.
Universalism is the worship of the Love of God—plain and simple. It worships what it calls Love. It translates "God is love" to mean "Love is God." Consequently, in the universalistic church, all teaching and behavior is measured against one standard: "Does it support or challenge the image of universal Love?"
If something challenges the perception of universal Love, it is rejected, regardless of what the Bible has to say about it. (And to combat any truth in the Bible opposed to the concept, universalism simply redefines passages and hyper-spiritualizes meanings of words to its satisfaction.)
Universalism today has many forms and many levels. In its most extreme forms, it teaches that God loves the devil and will ultimately redeem him and all those in hell. Sometimes it just says that God still "weeps" over those in hell (as I just heard one radio minister say).
In its more common form, universalism teaches that God loves all men indiscriminately, to the same extent, ie, to the full extent of who He is, and in some cases teaches that God has already redeemed every man without exception ("they just don't know it").
Universalism—in its most contested form—removes all element of the determination of God from the expression of His love toward man. It teaches that it is man's determination only that separates men at all from God's otherwise universal love. [ouch!!!]
There is a measure of truth in what universalism teaches. Because God is everywhere (as far as creation is concerned) and because He is love, therefore it is true that there is some measure of His love manifest to everyone everywhere at all times. As the Psalmist says, "His tender mercies are all over His Works." And as Jesus said, "He makes His sun to shine on the just and the unjust."
- Using the illustration of sunlight, God is not only light ("love"), but He is also heat (holiness, righteousness as defined by His will).
You cannot separate the sun's light from its heat. However, it is possible to see light without feeling its heat, or by only feeling enough to warm you comfortably. This presents an inaccurate picture however of what the sun is. If you lived on Mars, you would see the sun, but yet couldn't feel it. You might then conclude that the sun is light without heat. But you would be wrong. Your conclusion would only reveal how far you are from the sun!
And that is the problem with universalism. Universalism believes God is light, but not heat—or at least, only enough heat to warm everybody, but not burn anybody. This only shows how far we are from God.
The reason this is so dangerous is because, as a "spiritual planet" mankind is not just orbiting God as "the sun." but the planet is heading toward the sun. Mankind is on a crash course with God! And as it gets closer, the heat is turned up. What has all along been perceived as the love of God and the goodness of God is going to become felt as the wrath of God as man gets closer to eternity. Do you see this? Do you understand that in its extremity, the love of God is the wrath of God? They are inseparable.
So what would you do if you knew the earth was heading for the sun? Well, of course, you would find a way to become fireproof! If you could you would become a metal that fire could not burn!
And that is exactly what is happening spiritually. As mankind heads on a collision course with God, those who know the truth are not just soaking up the rays of His goodness on the beach, they are submitting to the process of becoming unburnable metal through submitting to the requirements of His holiness and His jealousy. These will never experience God as wrath, but only the eternity of His favor.
- Though God's love is displayed everywhere to all creation all the time, His covenantal love is the only dimension of His love that saves us from His wrath and the expression of that love is subject to His determination.
You must understand that there are two dimensions of divine love. One is general; the other is selective, subject to God's determination. Paul describes covenantal love in Eph. 1:5-
"In love He predestined us in Jesus Christ to be His sons according to the kind intent of His will."
The expression of covenantal love is delimited by the choosing of God.
Covenantal love is the love whereby God chooses a body of people to be delivered from the effect of His wrath by converting them to metal. The rest He does not choose, even though they experience the goodness of His general love from a distance (ie, light with no heat or else just enough to warm).
Covenantal love is the backbone of the Bible from beginning to end. God covenanted with Adam—with Noah—with Abraham—with Israel—with the disciples—and finally, with us who He graced to believe in Him. God has never covenanted with the world, with mankind as a whole. Ultimately, God's covenant with His chosen was before earth's foundation (for that is when the Lamb was slain!), and time only reveals the outworking of it over the centuries.
So here is the problem of universalism. Not only does it separate the light of His goodness from the heat of God's righteous wrath, but also, it either denies covenantal love or else tries to apply it to all mankind. Either way, universalism denies that the love of God is ever in any way subject to the discretion of God's selective choosing and enabling (i.e., His kind intent).
Why does any of this matter? What difference does it make whether we believe in universalism and worship our image of God's love as god? It makes all the difference in the world as to how well you will fulfill your destiny in Christ. See, you cannot fulfill your destiny within the covenant if you are not aligned with God's will in the expression of His love. You do no one any service by ascribing to the love of God that which is not true about His love!
You only serve to deceive others as well as yourself. And if we align with the enemy this way, we cannot escape the judgment.
He that has ears let him hear.
V. Between Amnesty and Judgment
Part of fulfilling our destiny is being able to understand our times and align ourselves with the purpose of God. Universalism has blinded the entire church—including the prophetic movement, and effectively crippled us all from aligning with God. To counter this, I will now paint you a different picture of how we are to see ourselves in this world, and qualify what is otherwise taught about how we are to manifest the love of God.
The first thing we have to understand is that the only reason the earth is able to exist at all and enjoy the blessings of God at all is because the earth is under an amnesty order—a temporary hold order that staves off judgment. The amnesty is a hold order that halts the judgment of God, allowing a window of time under which God is accomplishing a rescue mission according to His kind intent, after which the amnesty will be lifted and the entire cosmos will be swallowed up in judgment and fire.
How come, when Adam sinned, God did not summarily destroy the creation on the spot? What prevented this? And how is it possible now that with all the evil in the earth as it is, the earth is still together in one piece? And just what is it that is holding back all the evils of massive nuclear and germ warfare poised to strike the earth dead?
The answer to all these is that Jesus Christ died as a propitiation for the sin of the whole world, (I Jn 2:2). What is propitiation? Propitiation is a sacrifice that appeases the wrath of an angry god. It is a sacrifice that purchases a temporary forgiveness or amnesty. Jesus died to purchase amnesty for all mankind—allowing a window of time (several ages) for God to accomplish a redemptive purpose within the window of time, after which the amnesty order is lifted and the judgment falls.
Because the death of Jesus was logged in heaven before the earth was founded, the earth was able to continue existing after Adam sinned. Otherwise, it would have been destroyed on the spot. This is what has prevented sinful creation from having been destroyed at the time of first sin or since.
— The Purpose of Amnesty
So we are all under amnesty before judgment. Now, what is the amnesty for? The amnesty allows a window for the redemptive love of God (covenantal love) to go out over the earth and gather to Himself a redeemed people from every age and race. That is what is happening now. God has selected a sheephood from among mankind that He has targeted to redeem. As He gathers the sheep to Himself, He commissions them in turn to do 3 things:
- help enforce the amnesty
- help rescue more sheep
- prepare to share in executing the judgment.
There are different pictures of this from scripture. The best picture is that of the angels at Sodom. The angels rescued Lot and protected him from harm even as Abraham pleaded with God to hold up the amnesty. Once the angels got the last sheep out, they executed the judgment. The amnesty was cancelled.
My favorite picture of this is from the Superman TV series when I was a kid. But—do you remember the one about Superman and the coalmine? Superman goes into this rickety teetering coal mine to rescue Jimmy and Lois. He removed the timbers that have trapped them. Just then, the whole thing is about to collapse. So Superman holds up the walls and ceiling of the coal mine shaft with his bare hands, while Lois and Jimmy pass underneath him quickly to get out. Then, Superman lets go, flies out, and KA-BANG! The whole thing implodes, etc. etc., smoke everywhere…
— Our Threefold Mandate Under Amnesty
That, people, is the picture of our place in the world. So watch now.
First, we enforce the amnesty.
That is why we intercede for places, people, cities, etc. It is also why we are to continually send out the blessing of God everywhere rather than judgment. Right now, we are under God's amnesty. The amnesty not only keeps God from destroying the world, but it prevents the devil from committing evil. Why? Is it to convert the world to a paradise? No. Listen. The world is coming down. The coal mine is going to collapse. Nothing can change that. We don't intercede for that reason. We only intercede to enforce the temporary amnesty until God finishes the redemption.
Second, we rescue the sheep.
In other words, we are to align ourselves with the redemptive covenantal purpose of God to bring in more sheep. We align ourselves with the targeted love of God. Our call is not to win the world to Christ, contrary to universalist dogma. It is to rescue the sheep only, the targeted objects of the covenantal love of God.
But how do we do this? We do this by casting a wide net, speaking to all whom God gives us, and then letting God do His targeting work from there. It is not for us to determine who the sheep are. But, we must recognize that God is only after sheep, and we must align ourselves with His intent.
That is why Jesus told us to send out the blessing upon everyone. We send out the general love of Christ to all. This provides the radar scent that only the sheep will pick up. And they will come. But for anyone to pick it up, it must go out to all. And if false sheep (ie, goats in disguise, ie bad fish) respond, they are thrown back into the water after the net comes in.
But this is how we rescue sheep while holding up the coalmine. It requires a two-tiered display of God's love—general, and covenantal.
Third—we prepare to share in the execution of the world system.
As we near the end of the amnesty, a changeover in the function of God's people is in preparation—and you need to get ready for it. Shortly, God is going to be calling us to let go of the coal mine, to stop holding up the Red Sea and to actually start calling down God's judgment on the remaining goat population.
This is seen in Rev. 11 where the end time witnesses call for earthly destruction. We will stop interceding, we will stop rescuing, and we will begin releasing fire against the Sodoms of the earth. This change of function requires an excruciating mental shift if you have been raised on universalism. But you better start changing your thinking now. Otherwise you will be unable to move on with God when He calls you to start executing judgment.
I have just described the true scriptural picture of our place in the world. It is totally contrary to the bleeding-heart universalism now being espoused by the church at large. But you must wake up to this if you are to survive what is ahead.
He that has ears to hear, let him hear.
VI. A New and Living Relationship
This is my final topic. But listen well. God is in the process of refining the way His house is built. The essence of the church is in relationship. However, currently, church as we know it does not reflect relational knitting. It only reflects structural organization centered on positional title, constitutional tax exemption, building facility—and serves as a house oriented for activity (often commercial activity) and little more.
Back in the section I just wrote on Doctrines in Conflict, one developing issue I forgot to mention is this: Is God's church primarily defined by visible gathering (what we see) or by something yet to be revealed? The reason that this is important is because if we get locked into perceiving the church according to its mortal makeup as we now see it, then when God works further to perfect how we relate together (something which is based in hidden spiritual reality) we go through contortion.
The contortion comes because God's hidden work in knitting us sooner or later challenges the way we visibly gather. It challenges our assumptions about what the church is, and everything we have made it to become. The contortion is intensified because of the way we use the anointing to reinforce our devotion to a visible form or way of doing things.
What am I trying to say? Simply this: God is starting to work in a relational building of people together that is not bound to the current forms of what we call church. This is creating a secret struggle between those who are feeling a call to develop relationship outside the visible church parameters, and those whose position or title depends on loyalty to a form centered in a building, legally incorporated, etc. etc.
What has magnified this problem is that much anointed and prophetic ministry has come through to bolster up the visible structures and to intimidate those who sincerely see through the weakness of the structure and are daring to meet outside its confines to develop relationship.
Having been outside of the structure, and also inside of the structure, and having seen the grave spiritual weaknesses of structural church as we know it, and also having heard the numerous prophetic warnings against disloyalty to the structure—let me go on record and say, "I'm not buying it anymore."
What do I mean? I mean that—though I continue to respect positional authority for what it may be in any structured church ("Moses' seat")—I'm refusing to be intimidated by verbal prophetic threats concerning gathering with others according to a truer positive relationship outside the structure.
Case in point: Jesus respected the positional authority of pharisees (though he had no use for their structure). Yet His carefulness to respect positional authority did not stop Him from having His own gathering of disciples according to the freer, truer relationship that the Father was knitting between Him and these men outside the synagogue. Jesus was not intimidated by the fear of "becoming an Absalom" or by warnings against trying to "overthrow Saul" etc.
(Note: I am not advocating in this rebellion of any kind against established authority. I detest the rebellious spirit, as does the Lord. But I am advocating liberty of meeting according to relationship only according to the Lord's whispering and gentle nudging.)
So I come back to where I started. Namely, God is beginning to knit people toward a truer relationship that is not subject to the structure that has grown up around older knitting. Such new knitting is challenging the legitimacy of the old structure and "prophetic threats" against "disunity" (read, personal disloyalty) are being issued.
Here then, I am simply writing to encourage anyone who is finding a call in his heart to a deeper level of knitting with others outside a current structure to not be afraid to meet and gather in humility and peace to worship the Lord. The new knitting will be formed with a new kind of authority—but not so much a positional authority as a relational authority. Yet there will be authority.
But above all, simply be warned that this is coming. New relationship, new knitting, new networking—all of it positive/not rebellious—is coming. But in its coming it will expose and indeed has begun to expose the frailty of much of what is called church, but which has little genuine relationship behind it. The Lord is saying, "I know your heart. Do not be afraid of the conflict. Do not be intimidated against walking out the truth I have given you through new relationship."
Personally, my desire as a builder of the church is to walk neither outside nor inside the present church—but along side it in a healthy way that can help others make the transition to truer relationship without promoting active rebellion against the current systems, evil as they may be. If I can minimize the contortion, I will—but it is vital for all of you to start heeding the call of the Shepherd to your hearts and make the moves you need to make to be obedient to the truth…
"It was for freedom that Christ has made us free, no longer to be bound by the yoke of slavery." Gal. 5:1
He that has ears to hear, let him hear.
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