by Rick Joyner (Used by Permission)
During the last year I have felt increasingly compelled to discern the times. As you may have heard me often to confess, knowing God’s timing, even concerning prophecies He has given through me, has been one of my great weaknesses. As I look at the body of Christ in general, I do not think that I am alone. In fact I only know a couple of prophetic people who seem to accurately understand the timing of their own prophecies, but most of the time they too confess that they do not know the timing of their words. Even though I think that it is one of our great weaknesses, the Lord is going to change this soon- He is going to begin to give us increasing understanding of time.
It seems that the common approach to a problem such as this is to study it – acquiring
the knowledge of those in scripture and history that seem to have the valuable gift of understanding the times. However, the scriptures teach that the real foundation for this knowledge is not mere knowledge as much as it is character. We will say more about this in a moment, but in our approach to any such issue we must always keep in mind that the answers we are seeking are always found in the Lord Himself, and being conformed to His image. The Lord Jesus Himself is the answer to every human problem.
THE BIBLICAL STANDARD
If we look at the biblical standard of knowing the times for prophecies given, it seems that only a small percentage of the prophecies given had time attached to them. Basic to understanding prophecy is the truth of 1Corinthians 13:9 “For we know in part …” in spite of the spectacular prophetic gifts that are now being given to many, and the stunning supernatural knowledge demonstrated at times, the Lord never intended for prophecy to be an exact science. By this I am not speaking about accuracy, but prophecy is seldom intended to be comprehensive – giving us all of the details. Then we would not need to continue to seek Him, or to follow Him day by day with sensitivity, faith and obedience.
It is a biblical truth that only those who are committed to following Him daily with sensitivity, faith and obedience will hear His Words and interpret them accurately, as the Lord Himself asserted in John 7:17-18: “ If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
Here we see that to discern even the Lord Jesus’ teachings, one had to do the will of God. This is the primary issue. As we seek the truth are we willing to obey it? I have found that most people who claim to be seeking the truth in a matter, are in reality actually seeking to confirm what they already believe, or what they want to believe. This is a foundation for deception and has been true in science which claims so much objectivity, even though it has been less objective than any other discipline. It is also true in theology and the pursuit of biblical knowledge, which can be very different from biblical truth.
In the verses quoted above, Jesus also said that those who were speaking from them- selves instead of from God could be discerned by their desire to seek their own glory, or as it could have been translated, their own “recognition.” Therefore, the motives of the one teaching or prophesying are crucial. Nothing will more quickly pervert a prophetic ministry than to be known as a prophet. Nothing will pervert a teaching ministry than wanting our teachings to be popular, or our books to be purchased, etc.
This does not mean that one has to be perfect to prophecy. If this were true the Lord Jesus would have been the only One capable of prophesying throughout history. However, self-seeking and self-promotion are the most destructive forces of perversion in any ministry. We may have many other flaws, but these two cannot be tolerated or our ministry will be perverted. The more devoted we are to see the Lord glorified, and the less we care about any credit we get on this earth, the more true we will be, and the more truth we can be trusted with.
I do believe I have this from the Lord – the truth about the end times will not be popular with the church. So if popularity is our motive, we will not teach the truth on this subject, as well as other important biblical truths that are crucial for walking in truth and discerning truth. As we see in 2 Thess. 2:10, it is not just those who receive truth who are not deceived, but those who receive a “love of truth.” There can be a big difference between the two. The latter will embrace the truth regardless of how uncomfortable it makes them or how unpopular it is.
It is for this reason that most true prophets are not received or recognized in their own time, and are continually rejected, scorned, and persecuted. Very few prophets have been what we would consider even socially acceptable in most circles. For that matter very few apostles have been either. To represent and speak for God, one has to be free from the fear of man and the desire for the praises of man, and seek their comfort and acceptance from God.
The less you are affected by the opinions of people, the less comfortable people will be with you. Therefore, the only ones who will tend to listen to you will be those that want God and His truth enough to put up with you. This is the reason why Jesus Himself even came in the form that no one would be attracted to. He did not want anyone drawn to His appearance or His social position, but only by the Spirit and a love of the truth. As the Lord Jesus Himself warned in Luke 6:26: “ Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.” How much are we motivated by a desire to be accepted and popular with men?
In Rev.8:1 it says, “And when He broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about a half an hour.” A popular interpretation of this is when everyone is burning their end time charts ! I do believe that the most popular teachings on the end times are very far from the truth, and are in basic conflict with the scripture themselves, but the overwhelming majority of Christians seem to be completely unaware of these conflicts in doctrine. There is still a tendency to think that there is security in numbers’ and if so many people believe them, they must be true. This concept itself, that truth is found in numbers, is in conflict with the entire weight of Scripture.
B E A R E R S O F T H E T R U T H
In Matthew 11:25—26 we have another astonishing statement by the Lord concerning those that can discern truth. “ I praise Thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them, to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it is well – pleasing in thy sight.” In the Greek, from which this is translated, it implies that the Lord was a little more than just thankful for this – He was ecstatic! This principle of the Father touched Him deeply. The things that touch Him need to be the things that touch us. The things that He esteems need to be the thinks that we esteem. So what is my point?
There are many doctrines concerning the last days from many established and popular sources, but they are not true. They will mislead multitudes for they do not love the truth more than they love appearances and praise of men. At the same time, God is giving extra ordinary revelation to children concerning end times. Much of the greatest and most important revelation concerning those times, which we are going to need in the coming days, is going to come through children, which is what the Lord Himself was rejoicing about in the verses quoted in Matt.11
It is for this reason we have been so committed to children’s ministry and raising up children’s prophetic teams. If you have attended any of our conferences, you have heard me say that we are really baby sitting the adults so that we can teach the children. This is not entirely accurate, as we care very much that everyone that comes receives all for which they came. But in truth we know that what is done in the children will bear most long-term fruit, so it is very crucial to us. One of our main goals for every child that attends our children’s conferences is for each of them to know that they can hear from God, and leave knowing His voice better. We try to lay a foundation that, even if we never see them again, will be something they can grow on their entire life.
We also continually remind ourselves that we must become like little children to enter the kingdom of God. Our goal is more than knowing what is coming – we want to be a part of it. We are going to need some of the same characteristics that children have if we are going to do this: 1)They tend to trust, not doubt. 2) They are teachable, 3) They are open to the Spirit. 4)They love freely.
W H O W A R N E D T H E M
When I teach these things or share them with other leaders I usually am asked if I am concerned with the way people will take this, even accusing us of letting children establish our doctrines and beliefs. I do expect to get such accusations, and would probably be a little disappointed if we did not. People who tend to think in such ways are those we want to keep far from our ministry. These are the ones who are the kind of leaven that can ruin the whole lump.
I was once at a ranch spending s few days with several Christian leaders who all had or were growing in worldwide influence in the body of Christ. When everyone wanted to take a nap one afternoon, one of these men, who at the time was certainly one of the two or three most influential men in the church, wanted to stay and talk to me. His purpose was to convince me to change my writing and speaking style to reach theologians and conservative evangelicals. He felt that if I reached them, I would reach everyone else.
I told him I did not want to write for those people or for the professional Christians, but for those that who had faith and a love for the truth, who were far more likely to be the common people.
My friend was strongly disagreeing with me when Paul Cain came stumbling out of his room with eyes wide, saying he had just had a remarkable dream. In this dream Paul saw John the Baptist preaching. When the Pharisees and saducees came to him for baptism, John was angry, saying, “who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?”
(Matt. 3:7) I believe that John the Baptist felt this way because he knew these would one day do great damage to the church, and he was right.
All I said to my friend was, “That’s what I meant to say!” As dramatically as I felt my position was confirmed in this, my friend remained unconvinced. In my opinion his whole ministry began to slide at that point, and the great movement he had begun started to lose it’s bearings. Soon the prophets he had recently publicly confessed to have “saved” his movement, started to get blamed for everything that went wrong, and far to soon he passed away.
I confess to likewise being more alarmed than please when some types of people are drawn to our ministry. I begin examining myself to see what I am doing wrong, wondering if we have started compromising in some way. I almost continually have people saying how sorry they are about all the false things that are said about me, especially the things written on the Internet. They do not understand that this actually encourages me – I would be far more bothered if those same people were writing good things about me.
To be theologically correct is to be politically incorrect in much of the church. If you are concerned about being popular, you will never embrace the truth. This is what Paul was referring to in 1Corin: 3:8-21; “Let no man deceive himself. If any man things that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again,” The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that they are useless,” So let no one boast in men.”
Those who receive human, worldly esteem and honor should set off alarms in us – not attract us to them as Paul also wrote in 1Corin. 1:26 – 29: “For consider your calling, brethren, that their were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong. And the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no one should glory before God.”
Here he does not say that there are not any wise, mighty, noble etc., but that there are “not many.” We are coming to the end of this age, and it will be a time when the full result of the pride of man will be demonstrated for what it is. If we are going to remain true, we must learn to flee from many of the things that the world and the worldly church so esteems in its leaders.
T H E F O U N D A T I O N O F T R U T H
Faith and humility are the pillars of truth upon which all wisdom and understanding are built. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). Those who are more prone to doubt knew things that they hear rather than believe, will not come to the knowledge of the truth. This does not mean they should not have discernment and thoroughly check out things that we hear, in the Scriptures. However, it does mean that our basic tendency should be to believe, hope, and trust, rather than doubt. Skepticism and criticism have all the appearances of wisdom, but it is a worldly wisdom that will inevitably end up in basic conflict with the Holy Spirit and truth.
We read in James 4:6, God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (see also 1Peter 5:5) One of the basic characteristics of true humility is to be teachable. If we really want to know how humble we are, consider how we respond to someone we consider being less mature than we are.
One of the most encouraging things for me lately has been to see how the people who attend our conferences respond to the children whom we have let speak in our main services. We have had children as young as six years old speak to thousands. That they would have the courage to do this is amazing to many, but what they have to say is much more astonishing. We do not help them prepare their messages either. We just tell them speak what the Lord is saying to them.
Over and over we are told that the children, who speak at the conferences, as well as in our church services, are the highlights of those meetings. They often really do bring the most pure words from the Lord, and it comes with His anointing, which has at times left us all speechless. The truth, wisdom, faith, depth, and power, which come through these children, have brought deep conviction to thousands.
We had better learn to listen to our children. The children are for signs and wonders
(see Isaiah 8:18) and “ from the mouths of infants and nursing babes Thou hast established strength …. “(Psalm 8:2, see also Matt. 21:16). If you really want your church to be prepared for the times to come, invest in your children’s ministry. It is a great spiritual crime to have a children’s ministry that only baby- sits so the parents can enjoy the “real service.”
If we want the truth, we also need to listen to the humble even more in some ways than those who are of reputation. The Lord does raise up elders in the church whose words should carry weight. But if you only want a prophetic word from someone who is of great reputation, you will almost certainly miss the majority of what the Lord is trying to say to you. I know many who come to our conferences want a personal prophecy from Paul Cain or Bob Jones. But it is one of my great joys to see so many dignified leaders of great churches go in to receive ministry from our children’s prophetic teams and come out not only in tears, but crawling on their knees. We have received letters stating that these encounters with the children were not only the high-light of the conference for them, but were actually highlights in their lives.
S A U L A N D P A U L
Though what I have written above is sound, biblical truth, there will always be some “Sauls” who are converted and become “Pauls.” By this I mean that there are some theologians and church leaders who are more professional than true shepherds, who can be converted and become some of the greatest teachers and leaders of all. We should not give up on person as long as they are alive, but I certainly will not trust one of these until they have been converted.
Like John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Himself, if there is anyone that we should view with skepticism when they come to us, it is these “professional church leaders.”
There are many pastors and theologians who are in a profession rather than a calling. We should be able to discern the difference. But few can because we are more devoted to what we perceive to be “excellence” and what attracts people, than we are able to recognize the anointing.
Even after his conversion, the church was right to be wary of Paul until he had proved himself over time. More damage has been done to the church by “professional” Christian leaders and theologians, then all other attacks by the devil combined. The greatest deception and perversion of the church came when positions in the church gained
political authority and wealth, and were than sought and attained by those who desired these things more than they wanted to serve the Lord by serving his people. True leaders who walk the way of the cross, and who humble themselves doing their work as servants are still very rare.
However there is a new breed arising. There are already many children in our midst who have more authority in heaven than many of the most highly visible and popular leaders of our time. Those who are spiritually wise and discerning will know this change is upon us and will begin to discern the times. We are going to begin to receive clarity and accuracy in relation to the times, and the biblical prophecies concerning the end of this age, as we are told in 1Thess.5:1 – 6: “ 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 let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.
Just as the apostle is stating here, those who are of the light should not be overtaken by the day as by a thief. Things that are coming upon the world should not surprise us. The Lord is raising up a prophetic ministry, which will not be caught off guard by any major events, and they will see the moves of God coming with great accuracy. However prophetic ministry is not going to come in a package like most of us want it to come in.
Have faith, but stay humble and teachable, and you will be able to discern it and receive it. You may even be able to become a part of it.
By Rick Joyner
Used by Permission
For more information www.mornigstarministries.org