My heart is grieved beyond description. There is stunning unconcern over the state of most Christian's lives.
While it's rare to find those who are burning with a never ending, raging furnace of passion for Jesus, it's common to find pastors and others who appreciate those who are casually devoted as "good Christian people" who go to church and pay their tithes faithfully, as if that's the mark we are trying to hit.
It's time for us to function in a type of love that's rare in the land today. This love will result in a complete refusal to affirm "good Christian people" in any state less than radical, extreme, burning zeal that results in a lifestyle of prayer, works, fruit and obedience as they carry their crosses. No longer will we be able to look at a "good Christian family" who would qualify as pillars in most any reputable church today, but who are unresponsive to the calls to pray with groans of intercession, to feel the weight of God's heartbreak and to be marked as extremists for Jesus.
It's time to awaken the lukewarm, those who look alive, who appear to be solid Believers in Jesus, but who lack the necessary investment. We need a movement of people crying in the wilderness to confront the casual spirit that has overtaken the church!
"In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea,and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.' "
"This same John had clothing made of camel's hair, a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him, and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said to them, "O generation of vipers, who has warned you to escape from the wrath to come? Therefore, bear fruit worthy of repentance, and do not think to say within yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.Even now the axe is put to the tree roots. Therefore, every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Matt. 3:1-10, MEV).
Just as he rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for resting casual on the work of their father Abraham, we need a rebuke today for those who are flat-lining and unresponsive due to a casual response to what Jesus did on the cross. The cross didn't end our investment; it initiated it. It empowered it. It demanded it.
"Good Christian people" are those who are interested in the things of God, and who are active to a point, but when the call becomes costly (and bloody), they back off just enough to still have a sense of connectivity but also, safety from the call to death to self and radical surrender on their cross.
"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be like ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were wise and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps, but took no oil with them. But the wise took jars of oil with their lamps. While the bridegroom delayed, they all rested and slept.
"But at midnight there was a cry, 'Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him!' "Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. But the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps have gone out.'
"The wise answered, 'No, lest there not be enough for us and you. Go rather to those who sell it, and buy some for yourselves.'
"But while they went to buy some, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
"Afterward, the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open the door for us.'
"But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.' "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming" (Matt. 25:1-13, MEV).
Fifty percent of those who considered themselves to be consecrated to Christ (virgins) were deemed unready. He didn't know them due to their casual approach, due to their sleep. This affected their eternities:
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonderful works in Your name?' But then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice evil'" (Matt. 7:21-23, MEV).
Today we have a generation of church people who once said a prayer and who are entrusting their entire eternity to that one moment in history. There's little passion, little intimacy with Jesus, little fruit and no raging fire in their spirits, yet they presume all to be well. After all, they are "good Christian people."
Who Will Respond to the Call?
It wouldn't shock me that in a major city the size of Chicago, for example, if there might only be a few thousand people who would be described as the radical remnant. Of course, that's an uneducated guess, but even if it's four or five times that amount, the percentages would be staggering.
That's not to say that many more aren't interested or even hungry. I'm absolutely sure that is the case. The potential harvest is great. But, I'm talking about the John the Baptist style burning awakeners who are giving themselves fully to continual prayer, the pursuit of revival and advancing the Kingdom of God. Those who are in position and responsive. Those who have dealt with the cares of life and who live for little else than to serve the King and to contend night and day for revival and a great end-time harvest.
It's this type of person that Evan Roberts targeted with his famous revival prescription. Frank Bartleman, who was instrumental in the Azusa Street move of God, sent Evan Roberts a message asking him what he should do to experience a move like they saw in the Welsh revival. Frank listened and we all know the rest of that story.
What is the prescription? It's something that very few are willing to adhere to:
"Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender. Pray and wait. Believe God's promises. Hold daily meetings."
I challenge pastors everywhere: refuse to build a church on any type of person other than those Evan Roberts describes. Your church of 500 will most certainly shrink to under 50 but you will be left with those who are fully surrendered and ready to invest at a level worthy of the King.
Just what would happen if we really got serious and refused to lower the bar for those less devoted? Let's break down Evan's prescription:
Congregate the people who are willing to make a total surrender.
Preach in such a way that makes the less passionate uneasy and the remnant come alive.
When we call people to a level of life worthy of the cross of Christ, the pretenders will return to the activities their hearts are most united with. The resulting atmosphere will be Upper Room like as the Holy Spirit moves in great freedom.
John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-after teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. He has authored nine books, has appeared on Christian television and radio and directed one of the primary internships at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Additionally, he planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer- and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called theLab University. John also has a web- and graphic-design business and is continually developing new and exciting ventures. He and his beautiful wife, Amy, have five children and live in the Detroit area. He can be reached via his website at JohnBurton.net.
For the original article, visit johnburton.net. This is the second of a three-part series.