Prophetic Self-Talk

Internal Prophetic Communication

Every believer has a conversation going on inside, talking to and with themselves as the mind carries on internal dialogue. The conversation is often composed of positives and negatives, or comparisons and contrasts, as the mind analyzes thoughts, combines them into concepts, make decisions, reaches conclusions.

Believers argue with themselves a way of determining what they hold onto or disregard as true, valuable, and consistent. The process is complex but part of the constant and consistent internal discussion through which the spiritual mind solves problems and makes decisions. Once a  believer has a set of values and beliefs that demand application and implementation in real life with voices in the mind takes sides about simple and complex things, listening to sources of input and information.

For the believer in tune with his own spirit, receiving constant and consistent input from Holy Spirit, a complete paradigm shift of how to think arrives that includes revelation of things unavailable to the human mind through any other source but the spirit.

I call this “prophetic self-talk” when the mind is working with information communicated by spiritual means or the mind assumes that the information comes from a spiritual source. While this is a norm for all believers because they have Holy Spirit in their lives, the maturing of this kind of internal mental processing may hit some bumps in the road, and the possibility of deception is real. Deception can become delusion when the mind jumps to conclusions.

Prophetic self-talk, like all other forms of internal communication, can be key to living in boldness, confidence, faith in the form of trust and faith in the form of action, as well as, a basic way that believers take every thought captive to obedience to Christ.

However, prophetic self-talk must recognize the sources properly, engage in prophetic process faithfully, and resist the work of hell to capture the mind with evil imaginations. The enemy will plant a thought and work to convince the believer he thought it, that it was a revelation from God, or that what the believer lusts after is a legitimate part of the process of deterring what God wants.

In this way, prophetic self-talk can be deceptive and sometimes lead to delusional conclusions about the direction and directives of God. Some believers reach a level of pride in which they assume that every thought they have is from God, that their prophetic processing is perfect, and that their motivations are so pure that no accountability is needed.

God Speaks Today!

Prophetic self-talk occurs within the prophetic person who has prophetic operations and functions, who carries on the same prophetic practices within themselves without the proper protocols to process what they see as revelatory information.

  1. It is obvious that God speaks today, that He is involved with His people individually and corporately, and part of His involvement is teaching, leading, revealing, correcting, reproving, disciplining, and communicating as part of His passionate love for His people and purposes.
  2. It is obvious God communicates in the several methods the Bible reveals He uses to reveal what is hidden, or what cannot be known properly unless God reveals it.
  3. It is obvious that this means every believer learns to recognize the communication of God in order to receive what God communicates in contrast to what the believer thinks or what other sources communicate, both natural and spiritual. The believers make choices about what is God and not, and this process is imperfect even though God’s communications are.
  4. It is obvious that any believer can talk himself or herself into believing that God communicated something, giving it the same high level of authority in making decisions and solving problems that God deserves when God was not the source of the communication or the conclusion reached by that believer.

So, I conclude that many people who have been trained or learned prophetic operations and even prophetic function prophesy to themselves. They engage in self-talk that is self-prophetic. They come to consider that self-prophetic process exempt from the prophetic process applied to all prophecy because they come to assume that this prophetic self-talk is the same thing as God speaking. There is a marked difference in the method God uses to communicate internally within believers and the way prophecy communicates revelation.

God is talking all the time to His people through impressions, dreams, visualizations, and language-based insights that arrive through the spirit of a believer. While these are all a way of communicating, they are not all prophetic or a form of prophecy in the technical or functional sense. Many times a dream simply reveals what’s going on in a believer’s own heart, the outflow of internal dialogue, the imagery of personal emotions, or the imagining of one’s self in interacting internally with respect to conflict and comprehension. In that sense, no direction or directive is given or intended no matter at what level God is involved.

Prophets, Prophecy, and Prophetic Process

The very reason God has prophets and prophecy that comes through all the believers who operate in this important grace capacity,  the reason they have prophetic dreams other than those that provide simply understanding of internal feelings and imaginations, is that God designed and defined prophecy to be something uniquely different from that spiritual life communion. God knows full well the prophetic capacities of believers, wants them to receive revelation, but never intended that this aspect of His relationship with them would short-circuit the leaders He created, designed, defined, and assigned them.

God wants every believer to enjoy the fullness of kingdom leadership, and prophecy needs leadership, order, accountability, principles and protocols just like any other aspect of kingdom to avoid the pitfalls possible to human imperfection.

Although God’s part of the process is always perfect, God makes no guarantee that believers become perfect because they become spiritual. In fact, God makes Himself clear in design, definition, and directives concerning revelation by providing both people and process leadership principles and protocols to safeguard revelation.

When we fail to properly distinguish between prophetic self-talk and prophecy, we fail to apply needed caution, accountability, and wisdom that comes from outside ourselves. Sometimes assuming we are having more communication with or from God than we actually are, we are falling into a form of pride that assumes every thought that enters the mind is from God.

I have observed this phenomenon in prophets and prophetic people for some time. I have certainly observed myself falling prey to the temptation. I want to hear God. I also want to think that I hear Him a lot. I want to think that God is so involved that He makes me as wise as He is.

I fell into the trap through spiritual pride in the early days of prophetic experience. I felt so close to God and was experiencing spiritual things so intensely that I came to the conclusion that I was spiritual in an exaggerated sense. I was certain I was correct in every assumption I made or that my assumptions were actually conclusions reached by revelation. Boy! I learned some hard lessons.

Having leaders to call you on it is step one! Submitting to those leaders is the safest way to overcome the deep desire to be something you are not or cannot be. Learning to say, “I have no idea!” when people expect you to discern it all is vital!

Dangers of Exempting Self-Talk from Leadership

When prophetic self-talk reaches conclusions, these conclusions seem exempt from prophetic process, and people are even willing to name drop “God” as a means of exempting themselves from the prophetic security that comes from leadership. They are willing to dismiss all discussion, merely announce their internals findings, and make horrendously inappropriate, even sinful, decisions, while blaming God for them.

I’ve seen some of my precious spiritual children quit jobs, make moves, jump ship, start ministries, spend or invest money, and even marry someone based upon prophetic self-talk. I weep at the messes they made they continue to attribute to God, and traps they fell into, some of which continue to imprison them to this day. I saw them exempt their prophetic self-talk from the prophetic process because they wished to do what they wanted to do, believe what they wanted to believe, and think what they wanted to think.

In other words, they wished to say this with a loud voice, “God told me to.”

Here some things that happen when you exempt prophetic self-talk from prophet process:

  1. You jump to conclusions about people you see as a threat, dislike personally, or hope to diminish in order to make more room for yourself in the kingdom, assuming that God is showing their weakness or sin as justification for your otherwise bad attitude toward them; you justify rivalry and contest with pseudo spiritual input;
  2. You settle upon something you want and project your demanding desire upon God as a revelation of what He wants justifying your delusions, investing spiritual functions in strengthening your “confirmations” of your misguided imaginations of the will of God;
  3. You dream a fleshly dream in your imagination and interpret it as a God-given passion, building a defense around it because of its value to your heart, and attribute experiences, thoughts, further imaginations, and air castle ideas to revelation when they are simply human imagination; while human imagination is awesome and healthy, it cannot stand the process prophetic revelation must endure;
  4. You find listening ears for your self-talk, some relational association that allows your self-talk celebration; finding this kind of friend is never difficult and often leads to mutual self-talk delusions as one parries the other into deeper “confirmations,” even leading to pseudo prophetic words between you;
  5. You begin to move more of authentic prophetic revelation into this faulty process, drawing back from sharing with leaders and other prophetic people, isolating at a greater pace until you find that you need no leadership, no sharing, no accountability, convincing yourself that what you think, judge, decide, want, and determine is sufficient because God is the One revealing things to you: of course, the prophetic process always assumes that God is the One revealing things, so you have excluded yourself from what He designed and defined to protect you from the very error that has overcome you!

Appropriate Prophetic Self-Talk

When revelation comes, tested, judged, confirmed, and approved, that revelation becomes part of the redeemed mindset of a transformed believer! His self-talk is certainly full of prophetic revelation, but it does not become part of his prophetic self-talk until after it has been processed properly.

The mind of Christ receives revelation readily. The mind of Christ assimilates revelation and gives it priority for determining a proper grasp of reality. Prophetic revelation changes the process by which believers live their lives. The mind of Christ begins with the spirit to process information, think, judge, reach conclusions, and make decisions, and solve problems.

The mind of Christ is spiritual and feeds into the mind of the believer. The mind of the believer has capacities for perception, memory, ideation, reasoning, intention, decision, combining feelings and emotions as input to the processing of information, all of these answering to belief. And, the mind of the believer is controlled by obedience to Christ.

We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. And after you have become fully obedient, we will punish everyone who remains disobedient. Look at the obvious facts. Or you look at things only on the basis of appearance. Those who say they belong to Christ must recognize that we belong to Christ as much as they do. I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But our authority builds you up; it doesn’t tear you down. So I will not be ashamed of using my authority.  (2 Corinthians 10:4-8)
Notice that Paul recognizes that believers have a battle in the mind, yet believers have the mind of Christ, open to revelation. Paul makes it clear that the process of setting believers free is one a leader does. Paul isn’t saying that believers need to use these weapons, in this instance, but that he uses them as a leader to bring thoughts into captivity to Christ.
My point is that God assumes that believers need leaders in their lives to do some serious warfare with regards to how those believers think.
We can apply this to the prophetic self-talk discussion.

Honor and Inheritance

Honor releases anointing. Dishonor always limits us from receiving what Jesus has sent us.

Honor releases what Jesus sends through leaders. Dishonor limits what He sends us. We often demand Jesus give us directly what He has designed for us to receive through leaders.

We dishonor His leadership when we dishonor His strategy for leadership. We dishonor Jesus when we demand that He do things the way we design.

I have noticed a dishonor displayed by people wishing to be able to claim that everything in their lives and ministries comes “directly from God” without any human leadership involved. They will sometimes allow for a really famous international leader’s touch, but they do so when that international leader has no direct responsibility in their lives and ministry, to avoid direct accountability.

Jesus sends something to us through leaders because we need accountability for what He sends us from the leaders through whom He makes this available. They are sent to release an anointing and are the very ones to whom we need to make ourselves accountable for that anointing. In other words, Jesus knows that putting that anointing upon us directly – “I got this from Jesus so I’m only accountable to Him” – leaves us without the accountability absolutely necessary for having that anointing. In reality, they don’t have the anointing they think they have.

I remember one particular leader who would always avoid receiving ministry when I was laying hands upon people so that she could continue to characterize her anointing as coming directly from Jesus. In that way, she hoped to avoid accountability. She, in fact, avoided receiving fresh anointing and new anointing.

She proved to be a dismal failure at leadership simply because she failed this important leadership test; because of dishonor and a lack of honor, she lacked the very anointing she wished to claim. Because she refused accountability to the ones who would release it, she attempted to show that she had an anointing she didn’t have. Everybody but her could see that she lacked this anointing, so they didn’t honor her at that level – failure to honor results in a failure to be honored.

She demanded a level of honor she wasn’t due because she refused to give a level of honor Jesus asked her to give. She was demanding honor while refusing to give honor.

Life emptied out right in front of her, and all the honor she demanded escaped her because she was never positioned to function and receive it.

Spiritual Sources for Natural Inheritances

Honor begins with sources and originations. Honoring parents because they give you life brings a promise of long life. Honoring parents through whom you receive inheritance brings a promise that the inheritance will produce for you.

In the kingdom, honor begins with sources and originations. Honoring spiritual fathers because they give you what Jesus sent them to impart brings a promise that your spiritual life will expand in your generation. Honoring spiritual fathers through whom you receive ministry and spiritual inheritance brings a promise that the ministry you have will have life and your natural inheritance will expand in your generation. Yes, spiritual inheritance anoints you for natural inheritance.

If you insist upon receiving something without inheriting it, you will short circuit the relationship needed to prepare and position you for inheritance. And, the spiritual relationships that would cause what you carry to produce its highest are necessary to you functioning at the highest.

I have had spiritual inheritance for which spiritual fathers have prepared and positioned me who were not the sources of the inheritance, per se. That is, I carry unfulfilled purposes inherited naturally for which Jesus gave me spiritual fathering; the inheritance came naturally but the fathering came spiritually.

In this way, natural limits are removed from the possibility that I am prepared and positioned to bring those inheritances to fullness in my generation. If I refuse to honor, the natural and spiritual inheritance may only function with limitation: the limits of my success can be measured in the limits of my honor.

 

Enforcing God’s Decisions

Jude says God has already long ago passed judgment. The term in verse 4 is “krima,” the Greek term for judgment decision with emphasis upon the verdict: “A long time ago God recorded His judgment decision about people like this.”

God made a decision about people operating in these spiritual conditions, a judgment verdict handed down in writing. We should be able uncover these spiritual conditions because of the influence and impact they have upon the internals Remnant, Kingdom, Ecclesia, and because this influence limits revival moving into awakening.

Now the reason for Jude writing this letter is not to announce that someday God will do something but to warn the kingdom leaders that God already decided what to do with people who function in these spiritual conditions so they can enforce, apply, implement, and lead.

The idea of this written Scripture isn’t “do nothing because God will take care of them.” Just the opposite! This Scriptures says, “God already decided that people like this shouldn’t be allowed to infiltrate His kingdom assembly without an application of God’s verdict being communicate to them so that they can no longer function in hiding.”

Here’s the “do not judge” scenario completely disassembled. The reason we do not judge is because God already did. The “judge not that you be not judged” scenario isn’t that God doesn’t want any judging! We know that isn’t true because Jesus says, “Judge righteous judgment.” The judgment we don’t need is decision making based upon anything other than God’s principles and protocols.

We need God’s judgment decisions: communicated, understood, applied, implemented. Kingdom leaders should be able to identify by discernment people who operate in the way of Cain, the error of Balaam, and the rebellion of Korah, to bring personal deliverance to them or to quarantine the Ecclesia of their internal influences when they refuse to change.

Now, We War!

Why did Paul begin his discussion of God’s weaponry with a clear statement of whom we do not wrestle with? Could we discover in this statement, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood,” a first step to victorious warfare? Or, do we find here a statement that draw strong contrast with the methods, machinery, manpower, and meaning of spiritual warfare?

Isn’t Paul clarifying that believers don’t expect to win the spiritual battle with natural warfare? Doesn’t he make it clear that all the historic efforts to politicize the kingdom have missed the authentic kingdom warfare? Paul isn’t saying all natural warfare is wrong; don’t get me wrong – Paul isn’t an anti-war hippie, nor is Jesus. Nations have governments, and governments are given the sword by God to be a terror to them that do evil. So, war is a part of the struggle of nations on the natural level. Thank God the right nations won World War 2, for example, but also recognize that every war isn’t legitimate fulfillment of Romans 13 authorization: some nations are the source of terror and should be defeated by violent force when they use violent force, and they should be attacked, dismantled, defeated, and disarmed when their warfare is wicked, according to Romans 13.

However, our warfare isn’t natural. We aren’t hoping to amass bigger weapons to take over governments and conquer nations with bullets, tanks, missiles, and drones. We carry on a very different warfare with even greater historic potential for kingdom expansion!

Warfare in the Spirit

Paul uses the word, “pale,” to metaphorically describe warfare that he says requires God’s armor and produces more than a defensive position, rather an advancing and overcoming conquering of new territory. The word has the deeper meaning of “shake or vibrate,” and the meaning applies to “struggle, wrestle, conflict, and opposition.” The word is used by Plato to speak of getting your opponent by the neck by gaining a superior position.

Here’s the point: victory comes from gaining position. “The translation of the word as “wrestling” may be a distraction for the point Paul makes, and we instantly start thinking of hand holds, throws, and leverage where we should be thinking about gaining a superior position from which to subdue the opposing force. We also err by assuming the application of “wrestling” is individual where it should be understood corporate.

God’s armor is Body armor, fitted to the entirely assembled Ecclesia, more than individualized armor fitted to each warrior. Paul describes what we do corporately in Ephesians 6.

The verb, “palo” is actually another form of the common word, “ballo,” which means “to throw, cast, rush, drop, or place.” We can see that the words denote activity, and in this sense, aggressive activity of the sort that can be associated with fighting, warfare, contention, contest, struggle, and battle.

Oppose the Actual Enemy

Paul clarifies that we must battle with the principalities, not with flesh and blood, in this battle. Notice that I said, “In this battle.” Paul didn’t say, “You never have opposition from people.” Neither did Paul say, “You never enter into struggle or conflict with people.” And, Paul never says, “People are never your enemies.” We know, for certain, that we do have battles with people that people oppose us, and that people can be enemies.

The discussion Paul has in Ephesians 6, however, specifically details our conflict with spiritual conditions produced by the real enemies the produce those spiritual conditions: rulers, authorities, cosmic dominators of this darkness, who are the spiritual evil in the heavenlies.

Paul begins with this prophetic declaration and impartation: “Be empowered by the Lord and with His dominating spiritual power that overcomes all natural and spiritual conditions.” [This includes “dunamis, kratos, and ischuous.”] Standing thus in this condition of spirit, put on all of God’s armor so that you will have the capacity and power to stand against the devil’s methods.

Then, Paul describes who operates, from where, with these methods, to withstand, distract, deflate, defeat, wound, oppose, and even destroy us. So, we know that the devil designs and designates ways for his rulers to rule, his authorities to authorize, and his cosmic dominators of this darkness to maintain enslaving spiritual conditions. And, Paul says, “We are the ones who must win this battle.”

The “we” represents what is shared by those assigned by Jesus as the called together into assembly Ecclesia, to a place, at a time, where these evil representatives of hell oppose God’s representatives. We receive authorization to overcome in God’s power, through overcoming spiritual power to dominate the spiritual arena where these representatives of hell use the devil’s methods to maintain their dominion. We are in this thing together!

While a great deal has been made of the fact that armor is mostly defensive and the Sword of the Spirit is the offensive weapon, this ignores the fact that we need defensive armor because we are on the offense, pushing, pressing, charging, expanding, displacing, challenging, and overcoming the enemy! The idea that we are never offensive and wear armor to defend ourselves only when attacked completely ignores the message Paul is releasing, the lifestyle and ministry of Paul, and the mandate and mission of the Ecclesia!

We Fight on Offense, Not Defense

Nearly all my ministry life I’ve heard the same rhetoric about God’s armor being predominately defensive in application with the Sword being the only offensive weapon carried by the believer. Two things bother me about that repeated mantra: 1) God’s armor fits the Body of Christ and the picture given here has more to do with corporate armor than personal; 2) the only reason the believer wears God’s armor, to represent God in this battle, is because the believers are pressing, pushing, charging, combating, expanding, and displacing; the Ecclesia is on offense, not defense!

I’ve heard discussions of warfare that make me want to stand on the table and scream: “Do you have a Bible?” Mush mouthing and murmuring about “we aren’t supposed to oppose the devil or anything like that ’cause we are so wimpy and weak before the devil that we need to hide behind Daddy’s armor while He does all the fighting for us.” Intellectual honesty suffers from these devotionals on dereliction of duty.

We need armor because we are going to push the enemy off God’s land, push him back from where he has usurped, take territory and occupy it, and overthrow the rulers, authorities, and cosmic dominators who enslave the people in particular spiritual arenas applying the devil’s methods. We need armor because we intend to resist, pursue, overtake, overcome, and set up kingdom where hell has been in charge!

We aren’t called to passivity, weakness, and excuses to stay home and knit John 3:16 into our sweaters while hell takes our nation!

We need to get some blood on our hands swinging God’s Sword of authority and power at demonic opponents. We face the enemy because we are sent to pursue God’s purpose and run right into the usurping hellish hordes. We don’t back down and say, “Oh excuse me, I didn’t mean to get in your way.” Our spiritual violence is not just OK, it is demanded!

Jesus defeated the devil and destroyed his works. Now, we represent Him in enforcing His victory, challenging every entrenched opponent of His redemption, and taking back what hell has stolen. We establish kingdom “in the midst of His enemies,” so He can rule in the earth.

Finally, let me say, that we should avoid “needless casualties of war” but never assume there will be no casualties. To insist that no believers get hurt or die, that no martyrs reach heaven for their faithfulness in the face of war is to blaspheme! I say, “To not go to war is to blaspheme the Power of the Cross, Resurrection Life, Ascension Authority, and Eternal Intercession of Jesus Christ!”

We War and Win!

Why did Paul begin his discussion of God’s weaponry with a clear statement of whom we do not wrestle with? Could we discover in this statement, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood,” a first step to victorious warfare? Or, do we find here a statement that draw strong contrast with the methods, machinery, manpower, and meaning of spiritual warfare?

Isn’t Paul clarifying that believers don’t expect to win the spiritual battle with natural warfare? Doesn’t he make it clear that all the historic efforts to politicize the kingdom have missed the authentic kingdom warfare? Paul isn’t saying all natural warfare is wrong; don’t get me wrong – Paul isn’t an anti-war hippie, nor is Jesus. Nations have governments, and governments are given the sword by God to be a terror to them that do evil. So, war is a part of the struggle of nations on the natural level. Thank God the right nations won World War 2, for example, but also recognize that every war isn’t legitimate fulfillment of Romans 13 authorization: some nations are the source of terror and should be defeated by violent force when they use violent force, and they should be attacked, dismantled, defeated, and disarmed when their warfare is wicked, according to Romans 13.

However, our warfare isn’t natural. We aren’t hoping to amass bigger weapons to take over governments and conquer nations with bullets, tanks, missiles, and drones. We carry on a very different warfare with even greater historic potential for kingdom expansion!

Warfare in the Spirit

Paul uses the word, “pale,” to metaphorically describe warfare that he says requires God’s armor and produces more than a defensive position, rather an advancing and overcoming conquering of new territory. The word has the deeper meaning of “shake or vibrate,” and the meaning applies to “struggle, wrestle, conflict, and opposition.” The word is used by Plato to speak of getting your opponent by the neck by gaining a superior position.

Here’s the point: “victory comes from gaining position. “The translation of the word as “wrestling” may be a distraction for the point Paul makes, and we instantly start thinking of hand holds, throws, and leverage where we should be thinking about gaining a superior position from which to subdue the opposing force. We also err by assuming the application of “wrestling” is individual where it should be understood corporate.

God’s armor is Body armor, fitted to the entirely assembled Ecclesia, more than individualized armor fitted to each warrior. Paul describes what we do corporately in Ephesians 6.

The verb, “palo” is actually another form of the common word, “ballo,” which means “to throw, cast, rush, drop, or place.” We can see that the words denote activity, and in this sense, aggressive activity of the sort that can be associated with fighting, warfare, contention, contest, struggle, and battle.

Attack the Actual Enemy

Paul clarifies that we must battle with the principalities, not with flesh and blood, in this battle. Notice that I said, “In this battle.” Paul didn’t say, “You never have opposition from people.” Neither did Paul say, “You never have a struggle or conflict with people.” And, Paul never says, “People are never your enemies.” We know, for certain, that we do have battles with people that people oppose us, and that people can be enemies.

The discussion Paul has in Ephesians 6, however, specifically details our conflict with spiritual conditions produced by the real enemies the produce those spiritual conditions: rulers, authorities, cosmic dominators of this darkness, who are the spiritual evil in the heavenlies.

Paul begins with this prophetic declaration and impartation: “Be empowered by the Lord and with His dominating spiritual power that overcomes all natural and spiritual conditions.” [This includes “dunamiskratos, and ischuous.”] Standing thus in this condition of spirit, put on all of God’s armor so that you will have the capacity and power to stand against the devil’s methods.

Then, Paul describes who operates, from where, with these methods, to withstand, distract, deflate, defeat, wound, oppose, and even destroy us. So, we know that the devil designs and designates ways for his rulers to rule, his authorities to authorize, and his cosmic dominators of this darkness to maintain enslaving spiritual conditions. And, Paul says, “We are the ones who must win this battle.”

The “we” represents what is shared by those assigned by Jesus as the called together into assembly Ecclesia, to a place, at a time, where these evil representatives of hell oppose God’s representatives. We receive authorization to overcome in God’s power, through overcoming spiritual power to dominate the spiritual arena where these representatives of hell use the devil’s methods to maintain their dominion. We are in this thing together!

While a great deal has been made of the fact that armor is mostly defensive and the Sword of the Spirit is the offensive weapon, this ignores the fact that we need defensive armor because we are on the offense, pushing, pressing, charging, expanding, displacing, challenging, and overcoming the enemy! The idea that we are never offensive and wear armor to defend ourselves only when attacked completely ignores the message Paul is releasing, the lifestyle and ministry of Paul, and the mandate and mission of the Ecclesia!

We Fight on Offense, Not Defense

Nearly all my ministry life I’ve heard the same rhetoric about God’s armor being predominately defensive in application with the Sword being the only offensive weapon carried by the believer. Two things bother me about that repeated mantra: 1) God’s armor fits the Body of Christ and the picture given here has more to do with corporate armor than personal; 2) the only reason the believer wears God’s armor, to represent God in this battle, is because the believers are pressing, pushing, charging, combating, expanding, and displacing; the Ecclesia is on offense, not defense!

I’ve heard discussions of warfare that make me want to stand on the table and scream: “Do you have a Bible?” Mush mouthing and murmuring about “we aren’t supposed to oppose the devil or anything like that ’cause we are so wimpy and weak before the devil that we need to hide behind Daddy’s armor while He does all the fighting for us.” Intellectual honesty suffers from these devotionals on dereliction of duty.

We need armor because we are going to push the enemy off God’s land, push him back from where he has usurped, take territory and occupy it, and overthrow the rulers, authorities, and cosmic dominators who enslave the people in particular spiritual arenas applying the devil’s methods. We need armor because we intend to resist, pursue, overtake, overcome, and set up kingdom where hell has been in charge!

We aren’t called to passivity, weakness, and excuses to stay home and knit John 3:16 into our sweaters while hell takes our nation!

We need to get some blood on our hands swinging God’s Sword of authority and power at demonic opponents. We face the enemy because we are sent to pursue God’s purpose and run right into the usurping hellish hordes. We don’t back down and say, “Oh excuse me, I didn’t mean to get in your way.”

Our spiritual violence is not just OK, it is demanded!

Jesus defeated the devil and destroyed his works. Now, we represent Him in enforcing His victory, challenging every entrenched opponent of His redemption, and taking back what hell has stolen. We establish kingdom “in the midst of His enemies” so He can rule in the earth.

Finally, let me say, that we should avoid “needless casualties of war” but never assume there will be no casualties. To insist that no believers get hurt or die, that no martyrs reach heaven for their faithfulness in the face of war is to blaspheme! I say, “To not go to war is to blaspheme the Power of the Cross, Resurrection Life, Ascension Authority, and Eternal Intercession of Jesus Christ!”

Ananias and Sapphira Accountability

Ananias and Sapphira represent radical accountability in a season of visitation. We observe how serious God is about establishing this kingdom reset when we observe God’s response to their casual prevarication. “You lied to Holy Spirit” becomes the grounds for their deaths.

Remember, God did not require Ananias and Sapphira to sell anything. Eject from your mind any idea that God was requiring everyone to sell everything and become paupers because of Pentecost. He was not, and He did not require them to sell anything. They did this because they wanted to, but they decided to make an appearance something where the reality was different. They said, “We sold this and we are giving it all” when they were not giving it all. They lied to God in this way, “Lord, we are giving You all this property as an offering as if God couldn’t see the reality of their motivations.”

God sees the heart, remember, and God also sees the season. So, in the season of accountability, the heart is more openly brought to account. Ananias and Sapphira lied to God about their accountability in the season of accountability, and they both dropped dead because of that lie. So, the reason for the dramatic and immediate response of God to their lie comes from the season of the Father and the motivation of their hearts.

Simon Peter announces God’s decision of judgment as God’s representative. Simon Peter is merely carrying out the decision of heaven, not executing his own peeved perception of their lack of integrity. Simon Peter isn’t insisting they die for the lie because he is demanding that all believers sell everything. This isn’t a fund-raising fiasco!

We ask, “Why did this immediate response to their lie occur.” And, the answer comes from the level of accountability to which the kingdom was exposed during this season.

  • They didn’t die for not giving all the money;
  • They didn’t die for failing to sell all they had;
  • They died because they lied.

It is impossible to separate this incident from its context: when visitation occurs, we deal with God on a more immediate and dramatic basis; His increased Presence and Glory comes in visitation, and visitation arrives with heightened contexts for judgment. Just as our prayers for miracles, signs and wonders meet with more immediate and dramatic responses of power, anointing, and breakthrough, so does all God’s character become more immediately and dramatically available.

Accountability and Visitation

Remember, that giving in this way was appropriate but voluntary. We commend the couple for selling the property, but we are left to wonder about their desire to appear to be something they were not. They were frauds in more than one way, I would suppose. That is, God was resetting kingdom in a rather immediate and dramatic way, and the instruction was “save yourself from this perverse generation;” yet, the couple reached back to the deceptive appearances of the generation already judged for destruction, seeking to bring into the kingdom reset the very things God was cleansing from His people.

The measure of accountability at that moment was at its greatest because the generation was experiencing visitation, and the implementation of God’s response to that visitation was ongoing in the days of the early Ecclesia. So, the couple met God’s immediate assessment of their desire to appear to be what they were not: God says, “See this? This is what I really do not want in My people. This is exactly what I’m at work to remove from My kingdom people.”

 

Ecclesia as the “ekklesia”

The word Jesus uses to describe what He is building to displace the strategically positioned authorities of Hades has been pressed into a scrapbook collection of possible meanings, and we are left to sort through the scrapbook in order to hear this word with the meaning He gives it when He speaks it.

Matthew 16 contains this discussion between Jesus and His disciples, a discussion that occurs naturally in the course of conversation about His identity. Recall this premise: the meaning of ekklesia comes from a dramatic discussion of Christ’s identity. Heading away from this context, the meaning of the word travels far, far afield of its origins and meaning.

What Ecclesia is Not

Perhaps we should eliminate the ornamental shrubbery from the landscape a bit so we can see more clearly the forest of trees that have grown around the original term.

  1. It is not defined by denominational distinctives so that ekklesia fits into a doctrinal system in a way that proves the superiority or singularity of that denomination. Once we step back from this morass of muddled misnomers, we can rest our sights upon a much-reduced set of possible meaning for the term Jesus used. It is certain, beyond all doubt, that Jesus did not use the term, ekklesia, with a particular denomination in mind.
  2. It is not defined by a particular entitled class of leaders designated by men to design the ekklesia so they can become the source of its control, management, and expansion. While the Ecclesia most certainly has Divine representative leadership, that leadership does not define ekklesia; rather, ekklesia defines the function of the kingdom leaders Jesus, the Head of Ecclesia, sends to represent Him.
  3. It is not defined by the often misused and misapplied quotation of Matthew 18 in which Jesus discusses how to resolve internal personal conflicts with the ekklesia in a way that maintains the purpose and performance of the ekklesia. Ecclesia is not defined by “two or three gathered together in My Name.” The “two or three” Jesus mentions in this passage are clearly the “two or three witnesses” summoned alongside the person seeking reconciliation with someone who has done them wrong. It is an aspect of Ecclesia operating because the actions and activities described here are Ecclesia issues resolved by Ecclesia principles and protocols, but the “two or three” are clearly not the Ecclesia.
  4. It is not different in meaning when referring to “all believers everywhere as a kingdom assembly of the heavenly kingdom” or “all believers called together into assembly in any localized, regional or specific circumscription.” That is, the discussion of “church universal” or “church local” does not alter the meaning of the word, ekklesia.

We are left with only a few remaining discussion points by which to understand the meaning of ekklesia in the mouth of Jesus after removing these considerations from the list of common usage.

Modern American Meaning

For American minds, the term “church” requires a near total rehab and overhaul to hear hints of the meaning of Jesus’ words. While we might not say that modern American meaning of “church” is the worst in history, we most certainly would find it use odd and even strange when compared with what Jesus says when He uses this word.

Again, we can begin with what it is not more easily than what it is:

  1. Ecclesia is not a building, facility, or temple. No physical temple exists for the Ecclesia. The Ecclesia gathered together is His temple of dwelling; each individual believer’s physical body is His temple of dwelling. However, no physical headquarters, universal location, or “Mother church” can represent anything other than a place for function, a facility for distinct operations, or a known location for gathering.
  2. Ecclesia is not the “called out of the world” believers. Jesus does not refer to the ekklesia in this way else He would use the common word for this phrase, a word different from ekklesia, which never means, “called out of.” The most common meaning for “church” used today carries an underlying sense of “separation from the world” as a definition of “church” when “separation from the world” is an issue of kingdom, not Ecclesia.

So, phrasing comes into vogue that reinforces the assumptions: namely, “go to, attend, join, be part of” a “church” with a full sense of personal choice, taste, comfort, appeal, relationships, and take it or leave it presuppositions attached. Most modern believers consider “church” a matter of personal choice when Jesus considers “ekklesia” an extension of kingdom assignment, alignment, and authority.

From the bastardization of the word, modern believers view their place in the Ecclesia nearly opposite of what Jesus says when He uses the word!

Why would I say that? Because the word, ekklesia, in the mouth of Jesus has to do with the King calling together from within His kingdom, creating or building an assembly of His citizens so the “gates of hell” are displaced by what He builds.

And, what an individual believer likes, prefers, choses, or finds comfortable has nearly nothing to do with his or her assembling. The King assigns, aligns, and authorizes individual believers under the kingdom leaders He bestows upon the Ecclesia to prepare and position believers in the systems of the Ecclesia as a spiritual Body, the living stones of the Ecclesia as a spiritual Building, or the properly attired and purely approved spiritual Bride.

What Ecclesia Is

The three times the word, ekklesia, comes from the mouth of Jesus in the Gospels gives us our best and only glimpses of the King’s understanding of His Ecclesia and its function. Without doubt, these become the source of many disputes and distinctives among the various divisions within the kingdom, perhaps the basis for the deepest rifts in unity that have occurred in church history. Since the definitions of “church” often carry within them the reins of control and the reigns of assumed leadership that fit differing models, few other issues divide the believers more clearly and completely.

I will take the viewpoint that the inclusion of Jesus’ words is completely inspired by Holy Spirit, the words within the context in which they are used has come to us in this form because of His preservation of Scripture, and all discussions of their validity or authenticity are blasphemous on that basis. Jesus spoke these words and used this term or referred to this term in His everyday speech in ways that assume the word, ekklesia, represents what He means by the Ecclesia.

So, in that context of Jesus’ life and the use of the common Greek word in His generation, we should assume no special or technical theological sense except to carry from the Old Testament use of this word to describe “the congregation of Israel” what Jesus carries into the new kingdom context, what Jesus establishes in His life, ministry, and Messianic kingship: kingdom assembly or assemblies that represent His Kingly rule.

We must see Ecclesia in kingdom terms if we are understand what Jesus says about Ecclesia in His preparation of and for the arrival of the kingdom of God. Separating Ecclesia from kingdom becomes the first step in emptying that word of the meaning it has in the mouth of Jesus. Without kingdom, there is no “church,” for Ecclesia comes about because kingdom arrives through the King’s representatives.

The Ecclesia assemblies those called from within the kingdom, the citizens of the kingdom, to attend to kingdom business and establish kingdom purposes for the King. The Ecclesia worship the King who is ever present when the Ecclesia assemblies in representation of His rule, and the kingdom citizens establish on earth what the King has already established in heaven.

The Ecclesia is more a legal and legislative assembly, summoned by a herald, assigned a kingdom purpose, empowered by the King with kingdom authority to carry out that purpose, while maintaining the culture of the kingdom from which it is called together so that the Ecclesia, when called and assigned, functions in the fullness of the King’s authority, power, and Glory.

John the Baptist Heralds a Preparatory Ecclesia

“Kingdom come” is the reason John heralds. The voice heralding in the wilderness calls out from the kingdom those who can be prepared and positioned to receive the King upon His arrival. John is not the King, but sent by the King to prepare the King a people ready to respond to the King upon His arrival.

John is not the King but he is the herald that announces the King’s arrival, so the Ecclesia to which he calls people is one of preparation for a heavenly visitation. This visitation is one of inspection and accountability, and his generation is unprepared for it. John calls them to radical life change so that an Ecclesia will be available to assemble in response to the purpose of the arriving King.

Because his generation did not prepare for the visitation, they did not recognize it.

“They will level you to the ground and your children with you, leaving not one stone in place, because you did to recognize the season of your visitation.” [Luke 19:44]

Seasons of visitation accompany season change.