During this night of terror more than 25 years ago, I fell asleep in the old, empty church building and found myself dreaming.
In my dream, I was lying on my stomach in a one-room building. It was very comfortable inside, although the room was empty. I rested on the carpet and looked out of the two windows, one in front of me and one to my right. The overwhelming feeling I had was one of comfort and relaxation. I had no concerns and no thoughts beyond enjoying the atmosphere. This feeling drove my entire experience. Obviously nothing could be wrong if I was feeling so good, right?
Through the windows I could see a peaceful, lazy and bright sunny, day unfolding. It was beautiful! The trees were blowing in a gentle breeze. The birds were chirping and flying from tree to tree. What a brilliant Creator we have. Everything was so refreshing and alive. I couldn't have asked for a better afternoon.
Suddenly, I experienced a changing of the scene. Like time-lapse photography, as I was in the same position on the floor looking out the window, I watched the atmosphere change. There was an immediate and progressive shift. The clouds were ever-so-slightly darkening and increasing in coverage in the sky. The gentle breeze picked up velocity, and the brilliant brightness started to go in and out as periodic shadows covered the area while the sun hid beyond the advancing clouds. It seemed as if some rain might be moving in. I rested there, stretched out on my belly with my head in my hands as I watched it unfold. I remained immersed in my own comfort. I was taking deep breaths and enjoying every moment of my day.
Time lapsed again and I saw the sky completely covered in clouds—clouds much darker than just a few moments ago. I could now smell the fresh and unmistakable scent of the coming rain.
Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Matt. 24:36-39).
The birds were taking cover as the wind picked up significantly. In the distance I saw several lightning strikes. It surely seemed as if this could be quite a storm. How was it that I was feeling no concern, no urgency to prepare as I enjoyed my personal, careless experience in that small, one-room shack? I stretched out and relaxed even more. The greater the threat, the greater the peace. What a wonderful day I was having.
Again, for the third time, I watched the scene in front of me change suddenly. Now it was fully obvious the storm would most definitely hit—and soon. The wind was intense and large, ominous drops of rain started to hit the windows. Violent and arrogant lightning that seemed to have a personality all its own struck less than 300 yards away. The thumps of hail hitting the roof started and quickly increased in force. It was time for concern. The threat of danger was increasing by the second, but I didn't feel any urgency or need to respond. I remained prostrate on the ground, refreshed and at ease, just as I did when it was a beautiful sunny day. I was enjoying the perceived safety of my environment. I was feeling so good.
Once again, time lapsed, and I found myself in the center of a churning, dreadful force that seemed powerful enough to split the Earth in two. The storm of the century was upon me. The massive trees were nearly snapping in two as they bent over, parallel to the ground. The hail was massive in size and was slamming every surface around me. The windows were buckling in and out as the incredible pressure of the storm weighed on them. The lightning that burned hotter than the surface of the sun was striking mere feet from the shack. The walls were shaking. You can imagine what I was experiencing in that terrible and fearful moment. You guessed it: beautiful peace, safety and comfort. It truly was a wonderful day, until...
In a fraction of a moment my overwhelming sense of peace and safety and relaxation turned to the most gripping terror I had ever known. It was as if every source of life and good had been eliminated from the atmosphere. Evil dominated the place that just moments ago was so enjoyable.
My mind raced in an attempt to figure out what had just happened. The fear I was experiencing was beyond description. It made no sense. What was going on? Everything was so perfect. Today was supposed to be about enjoying life!
Suddenly, as I lay confused, horrified and trembling on the floor, two hands grabbed my ankles. My terror instantly escalated to levels I cannot describe. I quickly looked back and saw nothing, but I knew a demonic entity had grabbed me.
The grip on my ankles was like a vice. The thought of escaping was ridiculous. It was impossible. My life, which seemingly just moments ago had been under my own control, was now overpowered by an invisible yet horrifying force. A force that I knew had intents—and the ability—to destroy me.
Again, the terror immediately increased nearly to the point of losing control of my mind as that demon started to pull me backward and then down. My feet and legs were disappearing below the floor of that shack. I knew I was going to hell.
How can this be? It's impossible! I'm going to hell? But I'm saved. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. This is contrary to everything I have ever learned in church. Yet, the moment was real, and I was losing every ounce of hope. I was about to enter an eternity of continual torture. Never-ending panic, madness and torment was upon me.
The demon kept slowly pulling me downward, as if he was relishing every single moment. My feet were well below the floor, and my waist was at ground level. Then, suddenly my hope increased. I thought to myself, "If I say the name of Jesus, the demon must flee!"
So, in my new state of hope, I was able to squeeze out, "In the name of J—–. In the name of J—–. Ahhhhh!"
I couldn't say it! The demon was controlling my very breath. I was suffocating every time that name was about to be said. I could have said any word in the dictionary but that one. I instantly lost hope and started to cry out as I convulsed under the unbreakable control of that demon.
He continued to pull me down, one grueling inch at a time. Finally, my neck and then my mouth were entering hell as my body was taken below. At the height of my madness and terror, and as my eyes were about to descend beneath the floor, I woke up.
I sat straight up, trembling in my bed in that old church building. I was sweating in such volume that my entire bed was saturated. The light switch by my bedroom door was no more than seven feet from my bed. Just two quick steps to the wall would have been all it took to lighten the room. But I was frozen. I sat there for at least three hours in the darkness in absolute terror.
What Just Happened?
I finally fell back to sleep and awoke the next morning. I didn't realize what a radical turn my life had taken the previous night. As I tried to gather my thoughts while the events of the previous night overwhelmed my spirit and my mind, I looked outside the two windows in my bedroom in that old church building. It was a beautiful sunny day—but I did not feel comfortable or relaxed. I was shaken.
I begged God to tell me why I had that dream. What had just happened? Finally, later on that day, He spoke to me, "John, you represented the church. You were comfortable in your place of supposed safety. The storm was intensifying, yet you were lulled into a state of apathy. Many in the church will be surprised one day, just as you were surprised in the dream, to find themselves under the control of demons as they are taken to hell."
The house of the wicked will be overthrown, but the tent of the upright will flourish. There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that cheer is grief. The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied with his (Prov. 14:11-14).
There is a way that seems right. Intellectually, it makes sense. Other people seem to confirm that it is right. Common sense tells us that it is right. Even our theological dispositions confirm it is right. But it leads to death. And if it's the type of death I experienced in my dream, it must be avoided at all costs.
A backslider is focused on his own condition, on his own comfort zone while a good man is in tune with the heart of God. His pleasure comes from intimacy with Father God. His pleasure comes from going where God is going, doing what he is doing and feeling what he is feeling. There is no sense of ease in the storm, but there is satisfaction and joy in the presence of God and by being in active agreement with him. This message is a wake-up call for every one of us. Many wonderful people will be terribly shocked to find themselves separated from God forever.
"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).
This scripture is in reference to those who would call themselves born-again Christians. People who have understood and actually flowed in the power of the Holy Spirit. They understood their heavenly position and earthly authority as they overcame demons. These were your miracle workers.
We need a wakeup call, church. We can't presume to be in a place of safety simply because we said a prayer, go to church, give offerings and talk about Jesus. An intense pursuit of holiness and intimacy is required.
This is a message that must be shouted from the rooftops.
I can't imagine multiplied millions of people who are currently following Jesus in an unsaved condition crying out in terror one day, "I'm going to hell? That's impossible!"
John Burton has been developing and leading ministries for over 20 years and is a sought-out teacher, prophetic messenger and revivalist. John 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 has planted two churches, has initiated two city prayer movements and is currently directing a prayer-and revival-focused ministry school in Detroit called the School of Prayer. John's mandate is to call the church in the nations to repentance from casual Christianity and to burn in a manner worthy of the King of kings. He is equipping people to confront the enemies of God (established religion, Jezebel and so on) that hinder an extreme, sold-out level of true worship.
Note: This is an excerpt from John Burton's original article. For the entire story, please visit burton.tv.
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