Proverbs 16:25 There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
I have been active in repentance ministry for several years now. I must tell you, when I first became involved I was so excited about it. It had seemed that I had come into a secret fraternity- one that understood that the church was in bad shape and error was present everywhere you looked. These were those few that God had used through the ages by revealing to them the message of repentance and I ate up everything that I could find. Now, repentance had always been a factor in my ministry, I had preached messages that brought repentance for years. But suddenly, it was all that I preached- it became the golden key of revival and I became a crusader against the world system and the church that was its pawn.
Over time I began to question the fruit in my own ministry and my personal life and also the fruit in the ministries of others I knew in the repentance circles. I wondered why there was no revival, even on a small local scale. I mean, if we were “in the know” as to secret revival truths, then there must be some fruit somewhere, right? It seemed easy to claim that it was the fault of the people or the enemy or whomever. However, when I looked at the people who were coming to hear me, I saw people open to my message and hungry for whatever God had for them. It simply could not be the case. Even seeing this issue, I was still preaching the messages because I had not, to my mind, seen anything else that struck me as being right.
A few months ago, I was thrust into a situation in which I had to call on faith and had to do it fast. And as I reached to grab it I honestly realized with no small horror that I had none available. So I got into the Word and searched but I received no faith from what I read there. So I began searching online for sermons from those involved in repentance for something that imparted faith and found nothing. In fact, I soon saw evidence everywhere that I looked that faith was not something that they talked about at all.
Now, I came up in ministry in Word circles. In fact, I preached it for over 12 years. I saw dynamic miracle after miracle in my life and in the lives of others. I had lived by faith from the time I started in ministry, trusting God for provision for myself, my family and my ministry. The day I began ministry when my local church laid hands on me and “sent me out”, I got into a tiny car with $50 in my pocket and when that ran out, I prayed in everything else I needed out on the road. And over all of those years since then, God had never once failed me. Now that is not to say that we didn’t eat some funny looking meals at times, we certainly did, but we always ate. I was living proof of the scripture that says “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).
And here I was, faithless now. I had grown so accustomed to “calling those things that are, as they are or worse” in my life and ministry that I had no ability to live by faith. I saw all of the problems with the church and focused on them with all of my intent. I saw the problems with everyone around me, with the system, with everything. All that I saw were the problems and I truly felt that God hated it as much as I did. I did not rely on His promises because he simply did not care about me or my joy. God only cared about His glory and my job was to take up my cross and die. And believe me; I really began to do just that.
I found myself angry at everyone and judgmental of everything that did not line up with my own theology. Soon, I never received revelation in the word because that sort of thing led to error. I fed myself a steady diet of un-Spirit filled preaching focused on the problem and never the answer. And I lost all of my joy, all of my love, all of my peace and all of my faith in the process.
The heart of this sort of preaching is unbelief, plain and simple. And I had embraced it and in so doing, agreed with everything that the enemy was doing in my life and the world. I actually got into agreement with him in the Spirit! I agreed with him that I needed to have nothing and I didn’t. I agreed with him that people hated to hear me and I never got invited anywhere and soon I wasn’t anymore. I agreed with him that people did not want to hear the “truth” and that America was doomed to face judgment. Can you imagine that? Is it God’s will that America be judged? That it does not turn and find Him again? So why would we actually get into agreement with the enemy about every single thing that he is doing?
When I first got involved with repentance ministry, I was bitter. I was shell-shocked from some personal tragedies in my life and I was angry with the church. And when I heard the message, it all rang true with my experience. It was so easy to blame the church, the system, the preachers and everyone else. It felt so good to think that it wasn’t my fault, it was theirs. Everything that I heard lined up with my experiences in the flesh and I was sucked in. Now, that is not to say that it lined up with the word; I had to ignore large passages of scripture that did not fit in with my new belief system. Of course, I was so busy pointing out the portions of scripture that others were ignoring that it was hard to see my own blind spots.
In the end, it was the total lack of faith in those circles that shocked me to the truth. After all, if “Now abideth faith, hope and love, these three” and none of those things are evident, isn’t there a problem? There is a fault-finding and hyper critical spirit there that brings people into bondage and into agreement with the enemy. And I will harbor that no longer in my own life.
In the last little while I have began to change up my thinking and I have never felt so liberated in my life. Both my wife and I felt the effects immediately in our hearts and in our lives. Suddenly we had hope once again: hope for our own life and hope for the ministry that He called us to! Love was shed abroad in our hearts again by the Holy Ghost. We drove past a church building with a silly name and instead of cursing them and being angry we looked at each other and said ‘Good for them!’ We have peace that surpasses comprehension because we are standing on His word and not agreeing with the enemy in regards to circumstances. We are freed by knowing the truth and I have not been so excited in so very long.
And so I must take the biggest faith step in my life right now and begin to preach the full Gospel message again. Seeing the problem is always important and I will certainly continue to do that. But seeing GOD’S ANSWER IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT and that is what we are called to do. We must know that His word is established in heaven and then seek to establish it here on the earth in our life and ministry.
I invite you to stay with us as we turn this corner; I know that the best is yet to come!