Some prophetic voices are predicting something major—a significant shaking that will change the landscape of America (and ultimately, the world) forever. Thus, it's time to "wake up!"
I agree with them 100 percent—we need to wake up! The church has been sleepwalking through the world too long. Problematically, many of these prophetic words also call for further disengagement from a kingdom-starved world and instead, focus on the church's escape plan. (Getting ready for the rapture, imminent societal collapse, etc.)
These prophetic messages are often presented in the packaging of Urgent Prophetic Alerts. Let me immediately offer a disclaimer saying that I believe many of these leaders are authentic, God-fearing, and Jesus-exalting men and women of God. I am not saying their prophetic warnings are right or wrong, accurate or inaccurate. Instead, I am calling us all to remain grounded in this most critical and urgent season!
Yet, the prophetic messengers I mentioned above are tame compared to some of the other voices that are emerging with their warning messages of impending judgment, imminent economic collapse and catastrophic doomsday scenarios. They are calling us to stock up on our food supplies and prepare for the worst.
Once more, my goal is not to argue for or against a more negative eschatology, where things progressively get worse and worse prior to the Messiah's return. My simple prayer is that we would stay anchored in the unchanging and timeless truth of God's Word in the middle of a very legitimate global crisis and a simultaneous barrage of "Thus sayeth the Lord" messages that are accompanying (and will continue to accompany) unfolding global events.
Don't Get Distracted
Here is my honest question: What is the urgent prophetic alert that the Bible tells us to live mindful of? From my evaluation of church history—particularly, into modernity—there has been an unbiblical (yes, unbiblical) fascination with predictive eschatology. In other words, we are spending way too much time focusing on something that Jesus did not tell us to place that much emphasis on. As a matter of fact, Jesus Himself told us to not be consumed with these matters!
He gave us the ultimate instead of focus when it came to the topic of times, seasons and eschatological events. Simply put, instead of being inundated with trying to figure out how history will arrive at its grand finale, we need to go out and make history while there is history left to be made. No, Jesus didn't put it quite like that, but basically, that's what He said to the disciples while preparing them to go out into all the nations and make history for the kingdom of God.
Think about it. If investing the majority of our evangelical energies on charting unfolding end-times events was important to Jesus, He would have made that abundantly clear in the Great Commission. Alas, He did not. During the Risen Savior's final interactions with the disciples, He issued some pretty clear "Don'ts" when it came to an unhealthy preoccupation with unfolding future events, and then provided the key emphasis that should define our lives today! Consider Acts 1:6-11.
Don't miss the answer to the real question. Consider this interaction between Jesus and the disciples as He was getting ready to leave the planet and ascend to the Father's right hand: "So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6, MEV). The disciples were asking Jesus an excellent eschatological question: Lord, when are you going to return and set everything right? Of course, all of us legitimately have this curiosity within us. There is a spiritually healthy longing to see Jesus return, for that ultimate consummation of the ages will right wrongs and establish justice in the earth. Scripture makes it crystal clear that such a day will come. The real question is: What should be our point of focus between now and Jesus' Second Coming?
Don't become obsessed with charting out end-time events. Jesus continued explaining to the disciples that "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority" (Acts 1:7, MEV). This is a fascinating statement that provides the ultimate balance on what kind of emphasis we should be giving to the unfolding of end-time events. To live in a constant state of spiritual sobriety and readiness to receive the coming King is absolutely Biblical; to be preoccupied with the technical details of how the end times will come to pass can actually distract the church from the kingdom assignment that Jesus gave the disciples—an assignment that was never revoked and is available for you to walk in today!
Don't get distracted off your kingdom assignment. The disciples' assignment is your assignment. So, right after telling the disciples that it was not for them to know the sovereignly fixed times and seasons of the Father, Jesus issued the timeless call for all believers throughout all generations: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8, MEV). This is a key moment where Jesus commissions His followers to go out and make history.
- A history where those who are far from God—regardless of background, religious affiliation, ethnicity, etc.—are brought into His family through the reconciling message of the gospel.
- A history where sickness is miraculously cured—a foretaste of an ultimate reality where sickness will be completely destroyed.
- A history where the demonized and tormented are set free—a prophetic glimpse of an eternity.
These are a few (among many) of the supernatural works of the kingdom—and furthermore, they were always meant to be carried outside of the church's four walls and brought into a world where people desperately need to see that God is alive, well, and moving in power!
God's Urgent Prophetic Alert for This Hour
Yet, if we get overly caught up in "end-times fever," we will exchange the present-tense supernatural works of the kingdom for supernatural-sounding predictions of the future. Sadly, many Christians get so preoccupied with what might happen "one day" that they completely miss what Jesus told them would happen today as they draw from the Holy Spirit's limitless, indwelling power. In this scenario, kingdom works are replaced by eschatological rhetoric and this is never how Jesus envisioned His church to operate.
When we become consumed by what may or may not happen in the future instead of carrying the kingdom of God into our spheres of influence, we neglect a most urgent prophetic promise of Scripture.
So, what do I believe the Urgent Prophetic Alert is for the church right now? I believe the Holy Spirit took me right to the Scripture and gave me a timeless prophetic word that we can build our lives, our futures, and our churches on today! If we want to know what God is saying in this most critical hour, we need to look no further than Acts 2:17, where the Apostle Peter actually gives the ultimate Urgent Prophetic Alert ...
"'In the last days it shall be,' says God, 'that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.'"
What is our end-times mission, purpose and responsibility? Simple. Jesus told us that we would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon us. Furthermore, God Himself said that He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh as His ultimate end-times agenda. My question: Do you think that we, who have the Holy Spirit inside us, have a role to play in ensuring that all flesh experiences this prophetic promise? Yes! What a call! What a mission! What a mandate!
In this time of shaking, fear, uncertainty, and prophetic confusion, how will this timeless promise of Holy Spirit outpouring shape your future?
1. It lets you in on God's true end-time agenda. Rather than being preoccupied with dates, possible events, symbolical meanings, and other areas that—quite frankly—Scripture is silent on, we are granted clarity on what heaven's end-time plan includes: a continuous outpouring of the Spirit that began in Acts 2 and will not stop until the skies split and the Savior descends at the Second Coming.
2. It shows you the timeless will of God. Perhaps one of the resounding questions for the ages is "What is God's will for my life?" I believe that we discover God's individual will for our lives when we first make His agenda our priority and pleasure. We delight in His will, and as a result, He provides us with progressive clarity on how we can uniquely carry His kingdom into our unique spheres of influence, using the talents, gifts and abilities He has entrusted to us. And yet, it's all to an end: God's glory filling the Earth. Acts 2, in which Peter is citing Joel's Old Testament prophecy, gives us the will of God in the plainest of terms: "I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh" (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17). Oh, that our driving life ambition would be to see all flesh come into a transformative collision with Holy Spirit!
3. It gives you a blueprint for powerful prayer. God always answers prayers that He originates. If we pray, "God, pour out Your Spirit on all flesh," not only can we pray such words passionately, I believe we can pray them with confidence and expectation. Truly, these are words for us all to take into our War Rooms, as I am tired of Christianity being defined by its rhetoric instead of its supernatural demonstration and power. Though it is easy to complain, I felt like recently the Lord told me, "Stop complaining and start contending." That leads me into the fourth and final way that this prophetic word will shape our future.
4. It gives you the legal right to contend with heaven. If we want to see the landscape of the church, let alone the world, change, we must stop living content with Christianity "as usual."
A.W. Tozer identified this as "status quo" Christianity is his book Rut, Rot or Revival. Once more, this is not a license for us to complain about the negative condition of the present spiritual landscape—and spiritualize our complaining by calling it prophecy. Far from it!
Declension is a summons to contend for outpouring! Whether it's a church culture living beneath its inheritance in Christ, or a world that seems to be spiraling out of control, the hope for revival will not be found in the words of spiritual naysayers or self-proclaimed judges. No matter how dark the times become, there is always hope for revival when there is a man, a woman, or a company of people who become possessed by the promise of Acts 2:17 and contend for the prophesied outpouring to become a living reality!
This is a call for us to stare at what is and prophesy what should be according to the Word of God. Revivalist Leonard Ravenhill once said that "The only reason we don't have revival is because we are willing to live without it!"
It's time for us—as individual Christ-followers and a community of believers—to cease living contentedly with splashes, when there is an outpouring available. And the incredible reality is that this outpouring is not locked up in heaven, safeguarded beneath the clenched first of an unwilling God. Far from it! Outpouring was released from heaven at Pentecost and has been deposited into the very temple of God. The Spirit rests in this temple. The unlimited resources of heaven abide there. The matchless power and supernatural ability of God Himself reside in this place. So, where is this center of revival, outpouring, and power? "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are not your own?" (1 Cor. 6:19, MEV).
You ... me ... the Spirit-filled community of God! All I know is that Scripture makes it very clear that there is a surefire Last Days prophecy that must come to pass: all flesh experiencing the outpouring of Holy Spirit! If this is true, and we are the carriers of the Holy Spirit, then it's time for us to rise up, cease devoting so much time to debating possible end-times scenarios, and be the outpouring that the world so desperately needs!
Larry Sparks is co-author of the book, The Fire That Never Sleeps, with Dr. Michael Brown and John Kilpatrick. Larry's mission is to help teach all believers how to experience and sustain personal revival—enjoying a deep relationship with God through encountering the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. To this end, he maintains a blog through Charisma magazine, is a published author, teaches revival seminars, and is the co-founder of Renewing South Florida, an organization committed to uniting the local church for regional outpouring. Larry holds a Master of Divinity from Regent University and presently serves as vice president of publishing for Destiny Image Publishers.
You can receive daily empowerment for personal revival from Larry on Facebook (facebook.com/larryvsparks).
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