I was first introduced to the concept that God only moves and functions positively when I was planting my first church in Manitou Springs, Colorado. What I was hearing was a strange doctrine that didn't set well in my spirit, but I endeavored to allow God to change my theology if I was unbalanced or incorrect even slightly.
Was it possible that God was more relaxed and carefree than I understood Him to be? Was His method of kingdom advance simply a revelation of how good He is?
I noticed quickly that those who were buying into this philosophy were living without a contending spirit. If the unction for prayer was there, it was mostly to enjoy God's presence (which I highly value, of course) but not to intercede with passion and fire. Desire for experience was there, but fervency in mission was lacking.
The second time I dealt with this fast-growing doctrine that exclusively promotes God's happy nature was in Detroit.
After a season of truly amazing encounters in the glory of God, I was stricken by the Lord with a severe, weighty message—that season needed to give way to a focus on the blood, the cross, brokenness and repentance. Those who were sold out to a culture of positivity found themselves outside of the "happy sauce" they so enjoyed as they were being called into the depths of God's heart.
Those depths include clearer revelations of God's mission, of His response to the infection of evil in the land, the cost of His Son's brutal slaughter on the cross, the horror of hell and the disease of apathy in the church. The reaction of many was to pull back and dream of the good old days as if God had somehow left the room. He never left. He actually intensified and the way He manifested changed. He was inviting us into the deep realities of the age. He was looking for a remnant army to carry this light but troubling burden.
While I always want to grow in understanding God's more positive characteristics, I can't allow myself to stop my learning at that point. I crave to understand God as He is—in fullness—whether it's positive, negative, encouraging or troubling. Further, I can't presume He will only move on the earth in a positive fashion. Honestly, you have to be quite lacking in biblical knowledge to presume that He would be restricted to functioning in that manner. God always has, and still does, move in both revival and judgment. They aren't competing ideas. They are intentionally intertwined. They go together.
"But the Lord remains forever; He has established His throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; He will give judgment to the peoples in uprightness" (Ps. 9:7-8).
We Should Be Praying for Judgment
"Then the trees of the forest will ring out before the Lord, for He is coming to judge the earth. Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever" (1 Chr. 16:33-34).
We should be singing for joy regarding His judgment!
Let me make something clear right up front—judgment isn't the result of an evil God doing evil things. Judgment is a vehicle used by a loving God to positively impact those who will respond (though the impact will certainly be negative for the rebellious). Judgment is an act of deep love. It has to be, as God is love just as He is the Judge. He doesn't lay down love when He moves in judgment and He doesn't forsake justice when He pours out His love.
We as end-time Christians should be ardent supporters of God's judgment, of His act of love.
In America, we have a justice system. It's a good one. I can't imagine anybody reading this wanting to eliminate it in favor of anarchy. When someone murders, that person should be tried and judged—not because we hate that person but because we want them restored and because we love the others who are in harm's way if they were to go free. We agree with the judge's verdict of guilty and with the sentence of prison for the sake of both the murderer and the general public.
If we can trust our nation's justice system, even with all of its inadequacies, we certainly can trust the judgment of a perfect, loving God, right?
People need to know this! It's critical that we preach about Jesus as the Judge. We can't eliminate that from the gospel message!
"He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be the Judge of the living and the dead" (Acts 10:42).
I often pray that God will judge me. I actually crave it! I trust Him. He loves me, and I know that. He's not evil. He's not out to destroy me. I need His judgment in my life so any and every issue of my heart is dealt with. I can't let it fester. It needs to be addressed so I can repent and shift into a life of greater consecration. I know a life that's compromised by sin can do great damage to me and others. God's loving judgment in my life will resolve that.
"Now all has been heard. Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil" (Eccl. 12:13-14).
The whole duty of man is to:
- Fear God
- Keep His commandments
Do we understand how critical both fear of the Lord and obedience are?
"In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They shall be punished with eternal destruction, isolated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (2 Thess. 1:8-9).
If we don't obey, judgment will come to us. God will deal with our nation in similar fashion, and we should embrace that—because the judgment that comes after we leave the earth is permanent. Our fate is sealed.
"As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this comes the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).
This should result in the fear of the Lord returning in full force to the church!
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