I received this from The Elijah List. I wanted to share it with you are we have entered a brand New Year.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson
President-elect Obama won the election because he seized the high ground of hope for the future. The hope he gave was mostly undefined and superficial, which only goes to show the power of hope, especially in difficult times. This is a lesson we must learn. One of the most tragic mistakes of Christianity has been to focus on the prophecies of judgment about the end of the age instead of fulfilling the commandment to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. Gospel means “good news,” and it is the greatest news the world has ever or will ever hear. When that greatest hope of all is articulated, no message on earth will have ever had a greater impact. It is time to take up this charge.
This is not to imply that we should overlook the prophecies about the troubles that will come upon the world at the end of this age. A good case can be made that these troubles are already unfolding. We are foolish if we do not heed these and prepare for their fulfillment. However, the devil has been successful in getting the world to believe that Christians are fearful prophets of doom who are against just about everything and are out to spoil everyone’s fun. Many Christians have helped to feed that image by the message they preach, and the message they have preached has made them into that kind of Church. This will soon change.
As this age comes to a close and the world enters its most trying times, the Church and her message are going to change. As the greatest of all hopes takes its place in the heart of the Church, her demeanor is going to become one that exudes vision and purpose. In the greatest darkness, she will be the greatest light, growing in the joy and peace of the Lord, demonstrating the greatest and happiest society the world has ever seen.
The Biblical prophecies are clear that things are going to shake more and more as we get closer to the end of this age, until everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Those same Scriptures explain clearly how we can build our lives on the Kingdom which cannot be shaken. If we obey the Lord we have nothing to fear in these times, but rather the opposite—we have the promise of increasing glory (see Hebrews 12:26-29). When this hope, peace, and joy arise in the midst of such trials, it will be even brighter and will cause the nations to flock to the light, as we see promised in Isaiah 60:1-5:
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you. And nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in the arms. Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you.”
The Gospel of the Kingdom is the greatest hope for the future this world has ever heard. This is the unshakable promise that we have from God that His Kingdom is going to come to this world and His will is going to be done, right here on Earth as it is in Heaven. When His Kingdom comes, He is going to restore the earth into the paradise that it was originally intended to be. The lions will lie down with the lambs, and children will play with cobras, because no one is going to hurt anyone else. All the mourning, pain, disease, famine, and even death itself will have been removed from the earth. At that time, the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
The power of the Gospel of the Kingdom is greater than any other message. The power of hope is great, but there is no other message of hope like the one we have been given. The Church will not continue to let cults, such as the New Age movement, seize the high ground of hope for the future. This is our special domain. It is time to raise the banner and stand for hope in the future as the Gospel of the Kingdom so powerfully does.
Think about it. Even the most far-fetched concepts and dreams of utopia fall short of how great it will actually be right here on the earth after the Kingdom has come and the earth has been restored. However, the greatest promise of all is that God is going to make His dwelling place on earth among men. As awesome as His creation is, God is far more interesting, compelling, and lovable than His creation. God will again walk with men in paradise and dwell among them. This will indeed make the earth the center of the universe. When mankind is restored to God and to our original purposes, the creation will come back into harmony and become the home for man and God that it was originally intended to be. This will be far more wonderful than we can comprehend at this time. That is the hope given for the original creation, but what is promised for the new creation will be far better.
The new creation is the great company of those who responded to God in this age and who were redeemed, reconciled, and restored to Him. These are the ones who gave their lives to His service in preparing the way for His coming Kingdom and will have “a better resurrection” (see Hebrews 11:35). As the Lord Jesus testified, they will be like Him in His resurrected, glorified Body and will have transcended the natural realm to be “partakers of the divine nature” (see 2 Peter 1:4). These will also rule with Christ over the earth during the “period of restoration of all things” (see Acts 3:21)—the one-thousand year reign of Christ over the earth.
We can see in the Scriptures that the restoration of the earth to the paradise it was originally created to be will take one thousand years. The earth and all of the people on it will go through a renewing process similar to what a Believer goes through after being born again. We are not instantly perfected and mature, but we must have our minds transformed as we grow up “into Christ.” This is similar to what the whole earth will go through, but it will be much easier after the Lord’s return and satan is bound. The period of restoration will be filled with wonders just as the progressing Christian life is. Again, all of this is seen in the prophecies of Scripture.
The reason why the Lord did not bind satan and cast him into the lake of fire immediately after His resurrection (which He had the authority to do), was because He did not want it to be easy for us. The entire Church age has the purpose of calling and perfecting those who would actually become true sons and daughters of God, co-heirs with Christ. These do not just have to prove their devotion, but they need the trials and tests to make them into who they are called to be. King David endured much to prepare him to be the great king that he was. Trials are not things God does to us but for us.
There is a prevailing concept that when the Lord returns the earth will be instantly perfected. That is not the case as the prophecies make quite clear. In fact, that is not the way the Lord has ever done anything. The whole period of history since the Fall reveals His patient process with man. However, when He returns, it is obvious that the process of renewal will be hastened and made much easier for the earth and its inhabitants.
I have had prophetic experiences in which I was shown brief pictures of how wonderful the Kingdom of God on the earth will be. With sin and evil removed, the mental capacity of people grew to be many times what we have now. It has been estimated that even the greatest geniuses only use about 10 percent of their brains. In the Kingdom, the rest of the brain will be awakened, not just for people, but for all creatures. This will result in an ability to perceive and understand many times what we are able to now. The animals were also freed mentally so that there was a communication and understanding between all living things.
Animals such as lions seemed to have an intelligence approaching what people have now. The communication between people and animals was conversational and intelligent. I was shown that this was actually the condition in the Garden before the Fall, which is why Eve was not startled when the serpent talked to her—she was used to having conversations with animals.
After the Fall, the discord between man and creation grew as man fell deeper into depravity and selfishness. Noah, who had maintained a level of harmony with God, also had maintained a level of harmony with His creation. This enabled Noah to be comfortable with the animals in the ark and to communicate with them. That, too, is an insight into what the messengers of the Kingdom will be like. They will not only save man but the creation as well. The Lord loves the earth that He made for us, and He loves all of the creatures on it.
In the visions I have been given of the age to come, men were not teaching the animals tricks but high level concepts and the ways of the Lord. The creatures worshiped Him too and wanted to know Him and be close to Him. The animals were also sharing with men their understanding of Him and their understanding of the creation. It was as if man was having the kind of fellowship with the animals that God has with men. Knowledge was still increasing, and it was truth that led to an increasingly abundant life.
Because the curse on the earth was removed, the climate seemed much more uniform over the earth. This enabled plants to grow much faster and larger. Fruit was produced continually, not just seasonally. People did not seem to need as much food as they do now. The productivity of fruit and grains was so abundant that the earth could be occupied easily by many times the number of people who had lived during this age. In fact, several times the number of people who had lived on the earth could have lived in what is now an area less than the size of Texas. There was that much more productivity out of the land and less consumption by man and the animals.
Technology was also far beyond what we have now. Energy was given by nature in a way that was not only a ready source but clean and completely renewable. The energy from the sun was converted in such an efficient way that roads absorbed it and transferred it directly to vehicles traveling over them, with no pollution. There was air travel also, but the fuel source came from solar energy that was absorbed on the surface of aircrafts and was transferred directly into power. Engines were so quiet that they seemed to be an electric and magnetic combination. The energy transfer was so efficient that there was no waste and no pollution.
Travel was extensive for recreation, education, and trade. Commerce and interchange was vibrant, but without hype, pressure, and competition. There was not a mentality of getting the most out of a transaction, but rather giving the most. This made for a peace and tranquility that pervaded over all. Survival was not an issue and neither was prosperity, so fear and greed were no longer a part of human transactions. This made every day full of life and joy, and learning was the great treasure for everyone.
I did not see space travel but understood that the solar system was “the backyard” that those on earth were devoted to settling and bringing to life. To help life become abundant where it was not yet found was a great focus and devotion. The technology of harnessing the sun’s energy was making this possible for even distant planets and moons. The creation of this type of technology and this devotion to bring life where it was not yet found brought great pleasure to the Lord. It seemed that all of mankind’s now considerable genius was devoted to spreading life and helping it to thrive.
Why was I shown this? I think it was simply because I asked to understand what mankind would be doing after the earth was restored. It was just a curiosity, but I felt that it brought great pleasure to the Lord to show me these things. I was just given a brief glimpse, and we know His plans for us are far beyond what we can ask or think.
The New Creation
What I have described above was what I was shown for mankind, but the “new creation” is given far more than this. As stated, those who attained to the high calling of God by overcoming in this age were given “a better resurrection.” They were not just resurrected as humans on the earth, but in the nature of Christ in His resurrection. They could visit the natural realm at will, but they did not dwell there—rather they dwelled in the spiritual realm.
In this life we can only see in part and know in part, and I have not been shown much more than this about those who attain to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. This is the race that the Apostle Paul wrote about (see 1 Corinthians 9:24). It was also what he was seeing when he said that he did not consider himself to have yet attained to it, but he pressed on toward the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Of course, Paul was not thinking about his redemption or salvation, which we attain as soon as we believe. He saw something so great concerning a high calling that he pressed on to attain the “one thing” (see Philippians 3:13-14), and he did not consider at that time that he had.
The mentality that in the resurrection we will all be the same is disputed throughout the Scriptures. There are rewards and even the manner of our resurrection is obviously affected by how we serve Him in this life. Not understanding that how we live this life will affect our place in eternity is probably one of the main open doors to lukewarmness and even debauchery among Christians. Obviously, the Lord’s own disciples understood this or they would not have asked for certain positions in the Kingdom.
The Scriptures actually make it quite clear that there will be a resurrection to the Heavenly realm for some and the earthly realm for others. A full study of this is not possible in a bulletin, but we do need to understand the rewards. Even Jesus endured the Cross because He was looking to the reward.
Even being resurrected to the lowest state will be far more wonderful than the highest state in this life. However, there clearly is a “high calling” that even perceiving a little should wake us up to the greatest devotion. I have had some conservative evangelical leaders say that not understanding this is the one thing that is hurting the Church in our times, and understanding it could have a bigger impact on the Church than any other single factor. I am not sure if I would quite go that far, but no doubt it is very important.
Where Are We?
Even the best map is useless unless you know where you are. Every Christian should know where they are on the path of life, and they should also know the signs of the times in which they live. This is declared quite clearly in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11:
“Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.
“For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
It says here that we are not to be in darkness so that the day overtakes us like a thief, but if we are sons of the day, or of the light, we should see and understand what is happening. There were prophets in the Old Testament that were shocked if anything significant happened without them foreseeing it. We have “a better covenant” with more glory, so we should be doing better than that. How do we get there? There is a way that has been prepared. All we have to do is get on the path. The way to do that is to discern it and be devoted to staying on it. In Isaiah 40:3-5 the prophet declares:
“A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God. Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low. Let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.'”
We prepare the way for the Lord by building a highway. To build a highway, the ground needs to be leveled, bringing down mountains and hills, and raising up the low places. A lot of work is done for us to be able to drive on our super-highways and zip along at 70 mph. Likewise, many have done a lot of work on our spiritual highway so we can go much further and faster than those who went before us. This is one reason why it is so important and crucial for our spiritual health to honor our fathers and mothers in the Lord, who did so much to make our way straight and smooth. It is likewise our job to keep building this highway until it is complete and the Kingdom comes.
There is a straight, smooth highway right through the difficulties the world is presently experiencing. Regardless of how dark and confusing it gets in the world, for those who are on the highway, it will be getting increasingly bright and full of hope, just as we are told in Proverbs 4:18: “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.” If we stay on the path of the righteous, our lives will get continually brighter. We should see our path more and more clearly. If this is not the case, then somewhere we have gotten off the path. If this is the case, we can get back on the right path by a simple act called “repentance.” As C.S. Lewis observed, in the Lord the wrong path will never turn into the right one, so if we have gotten off the right path we must go back to where we missed the turn. That is basically what repentance is.
The “path of the righteous,” or the right path, is doing what is right in the sight of the Lord. Staying on this path is simply walking in basic, Biblical discipleship. The Lord made this very clear in such Scriptures as Luke 14:27: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” True disciples are not Christians for what they can get, but for what they can give, the most basic of which is their life. The apostle made this clear in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15:
“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
To have eyes to see, we must be delivered from selfishness and self-seeking so that we are devoted completely to the Lord and His purposes. To the degree that we are devoted to Him, we will see through His eyes and understand with His heart. If we are going to walk in understanding and discernment of the times, we must return to basic, radical discipleship. The Lord said in Matthew 16:24-25: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.”
The Lord explained in the Parable of the Sower that the seed, which is His Word, will be choked out by the cares and worries of this world. If we spend more time caring for the things of this world than we do for the Lord, then those things have become our first love or a devotion that we have above Him, which is an idol. An idol is not just something you bow down to, but it is what you put your affection or your trust in instead of God. Just as the judgments of God that came upon Egypt were for the purpose of setting His people free, the judgments coming upon the world in our times are also intended to help set His people free.
To build our lives on the Kingdom, or to stay on the path of life, there is a simple key—the key of the Kingdom. The key of the Kingdom is explained in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” It is a sure promise of God that if we will put His Kingdom first, He will take care of everything else we need. That is the best business deal we will get in this life!
How do we seek His Kingdom first? We should start by putting His Kingdom first in our decision making. The key to the Kingdom is to never make a major decision on what we want or what others want but on the interests of the Kingdom. For example, if we made the decision on where we would live based on where the best job opportunity is, the geography we liked, or to be close to friends or relatives, rather than where the Lord wanted us, we could be in the wrong place for our purpose in Him. It may be nice for a while, but when the shaking comes, we will pay a dear price for not having sought the Kingdom first. This is probably the number one reason why so many Christians do not feel that there is a Church close to them where they fit—they are in the wrong place. If we do not esteem being in the right place in His Body more than having a good job, then we certainly are not seeking the Kingdom first.
If this is the case with us, what do we do? First, do not do anything rash, but start a radical pursuit of the Lord and His purposes. We can have great jobs and things may be going well at work, but if we are in the wrong place it can cost us our children, our peace, and our joy. We are told in Romans 14:17, “for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Righteousness, peace, and joy are far more valuable than any material things we can receive in this world. Multitudes of very wealthy people will testify of this on judgment day.
I have been privileged to get to know quite a few of the world’s most successful people, and, without exception, if they did not know the Lord, they did not have either peace or joy in their lives. Those in the world often seek joy first as their chief pursuit, but the only path to true peace and true joy is by starting with righteousness, which is doing what is right in the sight of the Lord. This alone can lead to true peace, which is the only foundation for true joy.
For Christians who have lost their peace and joy—get back on the path of righteousness! This alone can restore our peace and joy. Doing what is right in the sight of the Lord is seeking and doing His will above all things. If this is our chief pursuit, it will be what we seek first when making any major decisions in our lives. The path of life is walking in the will of the Lord. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If we really know the Way, He will also be our Truth and our Life.
The Best of Times
There will be an increasing distinction between those who are on the path of life and those who are not. Churches and individuals who are on the right path will see increasing revival. Great and exciting new movements are about to be born all over the earth. The wise will rejoice in all of them. These will not bring competition but will be the streams that make glad the city of God.
The Church is going through a radical transformation, and radical, Biblical Christianity will continue taking root across the earth. Miracles will again be a main currency of the Church, verifying its message of the Kingdom, which will begin to be preached. Every new stream or movement will help carry the whole Church further toward her ultimate destiny. The whole Church should embrace new movements the way a congregation embraces new Believers.
Power and Dominion
The great Apostle Paul wrote that the Cross is the power of God (see 1 Corinthians 1:18). Those who will walk in the greatest power are those who embrace the Cross the most, taking it up daily and living a life of sacrifice for the purpose of serving God and His people. I have been a Christian nearly forty years and have spent a good deal of my studies over that time reading the great Christian voices who impacted their times, and often all succeeding times. There is a common denominator you can sense in all of their writings—it is the message of the Cross. They preached and lived a life of sacrifice. I was told over twenty years ago that the Cross would be popular again and that it would be the message of our times—I know that we have come to that time. When this becomes a reality, it will pave the way for unprecedented supernatural authority to be given to the Church.
The emerging generation is not responding to the self-centered message that much of the Church drifted into over the last few decades. If you look at the congregations of typical Churches, it is composed mostly of old people and their parents. However, the youth are coming to Christ in great numbers, but they are not going to be found in boring Church meetings, and they are not giving themselves to the self-centered message that the former generation fed on. The emerging generation is being drawn to movements that preach radical discipleship and a life of sacrifice.
True Christianity is the ultimate adventure and the greatest cause. True Church life is to be a part of the ultimate fellowship of the most noble, courageous souls. This is being restored in our times, and though a good example of it may not be found in every community yet, it will be. The
Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in every place before the end of this age can come. Just as the Gospel of salvation can only be preached by those who have salvation, the Gospel of the Kingdom can only be preached by those who are living in the Kingdom. The highway to the Kingdom is open and many are traveling it. It is the higher-way of God.
A New Beginning
The number 8 in prophecy often refers to a new beginning, and 2008 was certainly a year of new beginnings. However, when a person is born, they are far from being what they will be when they mature, and the new things that have been born in the Church this year are a long way from being mature. Because of this, to see what the Lord is doing we often need the vision of Simeon the prophet, who could see in a mere infant the salvation of the world (see Luke 2:25-34). For this reason, the Lord compared faith to a seed. Faith can see a mature tree in a seed. You may only see it now with the eyes of faith, but the last-day Church was actually born in 2008.
On 8/8/08, we had a gathering to celebrate this new beginning. It was an outdoor event on the grounds at Heritage and it drew thousands. The Lord gave us “signs in the Heavens” to testify that He was indeed bringing forth a new beginning. For days before, the heat had been hitting 100 degrees or more, and the humidity was almost too much to bear for more than a few minutes. Of course, we were concerned about the people in the open fields. However, the Lord turned on His air conditioner, and as we gathered for the meeting the temperature was a very comfortable 88 degrees with low humidity, and the wind was blowing 8 mph.
The presence of the Lord was remarkable, and there were many signs and wonders that day. Even so, the Lord had spoken through a number of dreams that September 21 was going to be an even more important day. We had changed the dates of our Harvest and Worship & Warfare Conferences so that September 21 was the Sunday between them. It was a powerful day, but not more than we were used to at conferences, and it did not seem that anything very significant happened—but it did. Through a number of prophetic dreams and experiences given to those who had gathered with us and others who were far away, the Lord proclaimed that day as the end of the Laodicean Church and the beginning of age of the 8th Church of the Book of Revelation. This is not to add to the Book of Revelation, but there is actually an 8th Church in it—the Bride that is prepared for Him and comes down out of Heaven.
The Laodicean Church was the one that had so much she did not seem to need the Lord. We have certainly been in a very blessed time in the natural, but much of the Church has fallen into the most depraved and deceived state of lukewarmness. That will now change. That Church is going to fade away, and a new Church with a new nature is going to emerge. The difference between these two Churches will be like the difference between a caterpillar and a butterfly. The caterpillar is a worm that has to crawl on the earth and therefore conforms to the earth. The butterfly soars high above it and is carried about by the wind of the Spirit.
It is said that the greatest struggle of the life of a butterfly is breaking out of its cocoon. However, if it was not for that great struggle, the butterfly would not have the strength to use its huge wings. A struggle is happening in the Church, but it is for our sakes so that we will be able to use the great authority that the Lord will give His people who are called to preach the good news of His coming Kingdom. It is now time to obey Romans 12:1-2:
“I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The Greek word that is translated “transformed” in this text is actually the word that we derive our English word “metamorphosis” from, which is the process a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly. It is time to learn to fly.