By Rayola Kelley
We have been talking much about the end days. Jesus stated that many can read the signs in the sky, but they can’t discern the days they are living in. The one thing I can tell you is that the Lord will never leave His people in a state of ignorance. Acts 17:30-31 states, “And times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained (Jesus), whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Parenthesis added.) The Apostle Paul also said that believers should not be ignorant of Satan’s devices or the gifts of the Spirit, but on the other hand he also turned around and stated let the ignorant remain ignorant about such matters if they insist on their own conclusion about a matter (1 Corinthians 12:1; 14:38; 2 Corinthians 2:11.)
The Apostle Paul also made this statement about the end days, after warning that the Lord will come as a thief in the night to those who are spiritually asleep and unprepared for His coming, in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”
Last month the Lord changed direction on me by clearly instructing me to write about what really ails the church in the day of great deception as many fall away from the truth to believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 9-12). At the bottom of all sin is unbelief towards God and His Word. This unbelief exists because many will not choose to believe God’s Word is true, final, and that it is for today, preventing them from coming to rest on His promises (Hebrews 3:12-19) People who fail to walk by faith according to who God is and walk in faith based on Scriptures will not be looking forward to a city made by God, as well as upward for redemption to be fully realized in their lives (Hebrews 11:6; 13:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Luke 21:28). We also know that genuine faith can only come by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Roman 10:17).
Many do not love God and His Word. In fact, man has a warped understanding of love and believes that God’s love is something to hide behind in order to justify compromising, worldly, fleshly ways rather than God’s pure motive behind providing His Son as a means to deliver people from the entanglements, influence, ways, activities, and judgment of sin on their souls (John 3:16-21). As a result, the love of God is often being overemphasized to make the stark reality and attitude of God’s holiness and judgment towards sin tolerable to the world; however, God has not changed His attitude towards sin in order to be “politically correct.” He is holy and cannot look at sin without judging it (Isaiah 59:2; 64:7). In Christ all sin has been judged according to the Law, but we must be hid in Christ because of being born again in the spirit by the Holy Spirit and the washing of His Word upon our souls to bring about cleansing. Clearly, the life of Christ must be in us to avoid the wrath of God that will be poured out on all disobedience at the end of this age (Ephesians 5:6).
Man’s inept idea of love puts a worldly sentimental value on God’s love. Sentiment is all about how one feels emotionally about something, but God’s love is not sentimental. God sent His Son, not for sentimental reasons, but because He took the responsibility to do something about our sins and the fact that there was a separation between mankind and Him. Godly love cannot remain indifferent or inactive when a need is present and a way is available to address it. It will not rejoice in iniquity, nor will it allow unabated selfishness to rule in indifference. God’s love will not be immoral in how it expresses and handles itself towards others. It is not arrogant or brazen, nor can it be easily offended when challenged (1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 3:16-18).
Unbelief, as well as godly love for God and His Word is a choice. Some might argue this point. You have those who say, show me a sign and miracle and I will believe, but Abraham stated in Luke 16:29-31 to the rich man in hell who requested that he send Lazarus to warn his five brothers of hell, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets neither will they be persuaded, though one rose form the dead.”
How right Abraham was. Jesus rose from the grave, but still many do not believe this reality in their hearts and the Bible is clear that you must believe that Jesus was raised from the grave in order to be saved (Romans 10:9,10).
In Acts 2:17-18, Peter quotes a scripture found in Joel 2:28, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams, and on my servants and my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”
The last days started on the day of Pentecost. In the Lord’s timetable the last two thousand years for us is a couple of days to Him (2 Peter 3:8). Peter goes on to say in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to us-ward not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The Lord has not changed His mind about pouring out His Spirit to prepare and equip His church. He has been doing it in these last days, but can those who call themselves Christians properly discern what the Spirit is saying in our time? There are many waiting for the outpouring of the Spirit in these days, but God is not going to pour out His Spirit on unprepared ground.
The other night I had a dream. In my Christian life of forty-two years I can count the dreams I have had on one hand that seem significant. One dream was a warning to a particular friend about the decisions she was making, while another was about Seattle having a major earthquake, but we were not going to be there. Another dream was the way for God to answer a question about grace, but this recent dream had instruction to it. It was disclosed to me that it is a message for the church.
Once again we must discern all dreams, messages, and visions. We must not just embrace such matters because it seems spiritual, but we must discern the message as to whether it is from God. I am going to simply share the dream with you because I feel there is something for the church. However, each person must discern if it is true and how it might be applicable to them.
The dream happened in a very formal church setting. I was to share some type of message but there was a lot going on, causing mass confusion. Our God is not a God of confusion and if there is no order the first thing believers must conclude is that the Spirit of God is missing (1 Corinthians 14:33).
We also must beware of formalism. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were formal. They were bound by their traditions and when Christ came to challenge their dead religious exercises, they convinced themselves that they were doing God a service in protecting their formalism by crucifying Christ (Matthew 15:6-9).
It is important to point out that formalism in churches is often a big enemy of the Spirit of God. In many cases rituals and doctrines put God in a small religious box and serve as a deterrent against the Holy Spirit shaking up the controlled religious environment. I was also aware that since the church was very formal, it had its rituals, but the problem was that there were a couple of men fiercely arguing about how to conduct a certain ordinance. The Lord gave us two ordinances, water baptism and communion (Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-34). Sadly, these two ordinances are points of contention among believers, and yet the instructions Jesus gave about both are not up for debate, nor are they hard to understand, but man has added his own take on them. The problem is not who is right about what; the problem is people fail to believe the simplicity behind the instructions already given and obey them. This brings us to the sad fact that the simplicity of Christ and His instructions and examples are missing or have been changed to cater to man’s emphasis, veering from the right spirit, while presenting a different Jesus and preaching another gospel (2 Corinthians 11:3-5).
If Christians are not arguing over church ordinances, they are debating over an array of other beliefs. How many Christians are arguing over doctrines and methods? When you listen to them debate non-essential matters, you realize it is a matter of pride and not truth. Pride tells us someone must come out on top, but the Bible talks about us submitting to one another out of fear of the Lord and that most arguments over non-essential doctrines that have nothing to do with salvation are not profitable when it comes to the true edification of believers. (Ephesians 5:21; Titus 3:9) However, we continue to argue to try to get our point across. If we cannot learn to listen to others, even when it comes to opposing views, how do we expect to hear the Spirit of God when He might oppose our present reality?
I have learned a long time ago that I may know some things and understand certain things, but I do not know all things. I may be right at one point, but if I insist on pushing my particular take on something onto someone else, I can be sure of one thing, the Holy Spirit will be missing. He is a gentleman and will not step over someone’s will or insist on His way. Meanwhile, I must remember it is not up to me to convince people of my take on something. My responsibility is to speak the truth and let the Holy Spirit reveal a matter to someone’s spirit to bring heavenly agreement. Without the Spirit nothing will be accomplished.
The next aspect I encountered was prejudice. I was walking down the aisle and encountered an unhappy family. This family was made up of foreigners with a different culture and take on how they were being treated by others. They were upset because they felt that prejudice clearly reigned in the church. I could not argue that there was no prejudice, but what I noticed is that the family was harboring tremendous prejudice against those in the church. They felt they were being judged, but in reality they were judging everyone else. Sadly, their children were taking on the same attitude.
Prejudice produces a foul mood in us. We use our own prejudices to justify our unloving, condemning attitudes towards others who do not hold to the same biases. Prejudices are those judgmental boards in our eye that prevent us from seeing our own spiritual condition. I tried to encourage the family to look to Jesus, but they would have none of it. They were allowing their anger to have the final say.
The Bible is clear that love for one another is what distinguishes true Christianity and discipleship. As in the case of Esau anger towards Jacob became akin to hatred. If people harbor hate because of some personal offense, 1 John 4:20-21 brings this indictment against them, “If a man say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him. That he who loveth God love his brother also”
The church is full of prejudices because many are harboring the right to be right about their particular denomination, doctrinal beliefs, and practices. There are many sitting on the pinnacle of judgment based on church affiliation, doctrinal differences, and cult-like practices and control. What many people forget is no denomination, doctrine, or practice can save you. None of these things died for them and that if a person has not truly become identified with Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection, that individual is still dead in his or her sin and is still on his or her way to hell.
The next thing I noted is that the band left when I walked into the sanctuary. Apparently this band had finished its performance and was marching out the door. I realized that I had missed the worship time, but I had to wonder how much of the worship was entertainment, making it man-centered? The Father deserves and desires worship that is Spirit-led and leads to truth when it comes to Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus must be lifted up if man is going to be drawn to Him and be saved and set free (John 4:23-24; 12:32).
The next thing I remember is that I had lost my outline as to what I was going to share. As I bowed down before the pew to look at my Bible and collect my thoughts, I found the Word was in disarray. Some pages were right side up and others were upside down. Some parts of the Bible were loose. It seemed that God’s Word was in a great upheaval.
Out of the whole dream this was the most disconcerting to me. Amos 8:11-12 states, “Behold the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.”
I am seeing this famine. Besides the many corrupt versions of the Bible that remove certain fundamental truths, there are heretical teachings and cult emphasis. The Word of God is rarely being taught at “Bible studies.” Sadly, few preachers really preach out of the Word. In many cases they preach according to personal opinions and agendas. Many people use other people’s teachings and takes on the Bible, but few study the Bible itself. I even heard about a Bible study where people leave their Bibles at home. My question is how can you call a Bible study, a Bible Study when one is not studying the Bible? I personally don’t care about other people’s take on something; I want to know what God is saying about a matter. In the end, God’s Word will have the final say and all of man’s opinions will either be consumed in judgment, fall to the wayside, or collapse when the storms challenge people’s faith (Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 55:11).
As I wrestled with the condition of the Word, I wanted to write down some thoughts but I couldn’t find a pen that worked. There is only one ink that is capable of properly writing on our hearts and minds the Word of God and that is the Holy Spirit (Roman 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:2-6). It was clear that the ink was missing in the church as well as in all the religious activities taking place. In other words, the Holy Spirit was not behind any of it; therefore, there was no inspiration or anointing, revealing that without the ink the message will fall flat on hearts and minds.
As I stood up to share, half the church left because they were not there to hear a message; rather, they were there to be entertained and sent away feeling good because they had some type of religious experience. The Bible talks about those who have itching ears in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears: And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” We are living in the days that fables are being promoted from different pulpits because people don’t want to hear the truth about a matter. They don’t want to hear about sin, repentance, and the Gospel that spells out how Jesus died for sins to deliver them from the claims and practices of it in their life, that He was buried with those sins, and that three days later He rose from the grave to prove victory over the judgment of death on sin.
As I turned to share my message with those remaining on the other side of the church, I went to mention the love of God in light of His great sacrifice to save mankind, and what I sense about those remaining is that they immediately went to sleep and slid into a comatose state. They had heard about God’s love so much there was no need to stay alert or awake to listen to the rest of the message.
As I stated in this article, the Holy Spirit will not come down on unprepared ground. The question is what prepares the ground? There are only two ways to prepare the ground for God’s Spirit. The first way is worship, but it must be the worship that God seeks, not what appeals to the flesh, which amounts to nothing more than idolatrous paganism. Worship is not about man experiencing some emotional high in church; rather, it is about lifting the Lord up who is on high in hearts and minds to bring deserved honor and glory to Him alone, thereby, encouraging His Spirit to honor us with His presence.
The second way to prepare the ground for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit is by preaching inspired, anointed messages given by heaven itself. However, the dream revealed to me that besides man-centered worship, the church in the dream was void of the right message. The pure Word is missing and lacks the sharpness of truth to wake up the sleeping and to penetrate the great darkness that is upon the souls of the unsaved, the ink of heaven is not present to write upon hearts and minds, and sadly those in my dream were content in their present status and did not see any need to possess the reality and fullness of heaven. They were content to sleep on in the hull of their pews as the destructive storms raged without ready to claim every soul it can for hell.
What is the message to the church that is described in the dream? It is the same message that has always been: REPENT and come out and be separate from the world (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)! Cease your Laodicean ways of seeing yourself as being spiritually rich when you are wretched in your state, miserable in your deception, poor in faith, blind to truth, and naked in guilt and shame before the holy God (Revelation 3:14-18). Repent for showing contempt towards the Word of God because of unbelief and disobedience, promoting fables to mass numbers, for strange worship that honors base man, pushing legalistic, lifeless practices, fleshly ways and worldly methods on the vulnerable, for becoming a white-washed sepulcher harboring damnable lies, decaying works, and grave clothes of former glory.
Jesus is coming back for a church without spot and wrinkle (Ephesians 5:26-27). He wants to send the fire of His Spirit by pouring His Spirit out on the church to prepare it for His coming, but the ground must be prepared or the fire of the Spirit will scorch and purge instead of purify.
The fire is coming whether through His Spirit or some type of judgment. The question is are you ready for the bridegroom or are you part of the church in the dream that is content with business as usual regardless of the fact that God is not in any of it?