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Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; - Joel 2: 15 (ESV)
Let me start by saying that this is not about intent. I do not pretend to know the motives nor would I want to impugn them for the 30,000 pastors scheduled to show up at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 2016 for "United Cry." Discernment ministries often has nothing to do with motives or intent. I think we can genuinely convince ourselves almost anything is from God. That is why the Bible says not only is the human heart desperately sick but also deceitful above all things! Think about that sobering thought for a moment. Above everything else - nothing is more deceitful than the human heart. This is why it is so crucial for us to live by and not swerve from the Word of God. I do not mean a verse here or there but rather truly understanding the heart of God, in which there is no deceit, to combat our own internal propensity for wickedness. Intentional or otherwise.
That said, what is United Cry? It is a call for pastors to unite in Washington DC to pray for America. Sounds benign enough until you start to take a closer look and take out your Bible. The founder of this event is former pastor Lewis Hogan. He left pastoring in 2012 to start "Awakening USA"; which according to Hogan has three goals. First is to end abortion. Second is to promote pastors "voices" in this country. Third is to pray for revival for this nation. The first cause, while noble, reveals the goals are political in nature. The third shows that Hogan believes in the America the Idol false theology that pretends this country can be revived. That this country was once under covenant with God and can be again if the unsaved goats would just start behaving like sheep. Except it doesn't work like that beloved. This poor theology is based upon an unbelievably poor understanding of American history and an equally poor understanding of Scripture.
The second goal however is an interesting angle from Hogan. He actually believes that the voices of pastors across this country have been "muffled" over the past 70 years. That prior to that the voices from the pulpit drove the morality in this country until the big bad government started muzzling the pulpit. I say interesting when I really should be saying ludicrous because this has not happened. Sure there are some restrictions from a political sense but that is because the church continues to line up at the trough of the world to drink. We cannot have it both ways. If we insist on tax exemptions and special treatment from the world we cannot be angry when they come with conditions. If you want to show real Christian bravery you should leave the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and go back and give up your church's tax exempt status. That however require real sacrifice and trust in God. It is far easier to hold hands in DC and pretend that it is all someone else's fault.
The truth is that it is the free will choice of pastors to muffle the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. The movement was not some nefarious governmental decree but rather the Seeker Friendly Industrial Complex deciding that sin was simply not to be discussed anymore. That is was far more purpose driven to glean silly life lessons from Scripture rather than actually trying to discern what God might be saying. Bill Hybels removes all crosses from his church because the unsaved masses told him they found them offensive. Rick Warren advises against preaching the Gospel on Easter so you give your visitors a "reason to come back." Joel Osteen admits he does not tell people what they do wrong because they "already know it." Mr. Hogan unfortunately is looking at the wrong perpetrator. He needs to look in the mirror. Even if he himself did not compromise the Gospel when he was a preacher he is now associating himself with a fallen church system and calling for the disparate parts to unite despite what they might believe. Some of the headliners from Untied Cry include George Wood from the Assemblies of God, Ronnie Floyd from the Southern Baptist convention and Anne Graham-Lotz; the granddaughter of Billy Graham.
Now these may sound like solid names but unfortunately today they are not. The Assemblies of God, for which I have a soft spot in my heart, has gone off the rails over the past ten years and unless it corrects course it will be one of the guiding forces in the coming ecumenicalism. It has embraced rank heretics like Bill Johnson, Roma Downey and Reinhard Bonnke. It promoted the wildly heretical book the Circle Maker and Wood himself taught one of the weekly lessons associated with the unbiblical AD Miniseries. Ronnie Floyd? He openly embraces the abusive "God will curse you" tithing teachings of heretic Robert Morris. He recently spoke at an IHOP convention endorsing Mike Bickle; who is a false prophet and teacher extraordinaire. He teaches new age mysticism, contemplative prayer, the bridal paradigm, end times Joel Army and a myriad of other absolute departures from Biblical orthodoxy. Anne Graham-Lotz has proven again and again there is no false prophecy she is willing to not utter in defense of her complete idolization of this country. She recently intimated that God had sent Winter Storm Jonas as a potential warning to the godless in this country because it happened to hit Washington DC.
Granted these are not the crème de la crème of false teachers but they are all part of the upcoming ecumenical shift. They have all compromised the true teachings of Jesus Christ for the Pharisaical slice of the church pie that they control in this country and abroad. Beloved, we have been warned about this over and over again in Scripture. We all know there will be a move towards a one world religion. This will be necessary for the rise of the Antichrist. How do we get there? It certainly will not be led by the unbelieving masses but rather by the people within church walls. Roma Downey does not share our faith nor our beliefs. She created an entire television miniseries eviscerating the Book of Acts and the head of the Assemblies of God does not blink to teach one of the lessons associated with the church kit Downey sold to churches across this land? Ronnie Floyd represents the SBC but think nothing of sharing the stage with someone as blatantly false as Mike Bickle? An organization that is so steeped in satanic teachings such as IHOP? Beloved, time is running out. Jesus is coming back. We do not have the luxury of time to hold hands with the enemy and sing Kumbaya. Hogan says that United Cry is to bring together pastoral voices to unify in the spirit but what spirit are we talking about?
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. - Romans 16: 17-18 (ESV)
Beloved these verses cannot be clearer. Disunity in the body of Christ is sown by false teachings. It is the false teachers that are sowing the discord. Our unity must not be based on something so carnal as patriotism or so meaningless as "being a pastor." It has to be based upon doctrine and doctrine alone. So if you spend your ministry lying about things God never told you then I am sorry Mrs. Graham-Lotz but I cannot stand with you. We have no unity. I do not need to hear the smooth talk of Mike Bickle or the flattery of the Circle Maker telling me to pray petulantly to God. We have nothing in common. The Bible says that there is no fellowship between light and darkness.
The key verse today is chosen because Hogan chose it as the rallying cry for this event. Within this simple choice are all of the problems with what he believes. Joel is written to the nation of Israel, not the country of the United States. The call to repentance is for Israel, not America. The call to fast and have a solemn assembly is for Israel, not America. Now, if you want to try and extract application for today then the entity you need to be addressing is the church, not America. The Old Covenant was for Israel and the new covenant is for the church. So if United Cry was a rallying of pastors to stop preaching false doctrines, stop fleecing the sheep of the Lord, stop the Purpose Driven church growth schemes, break up the Seeker Friendly Industrial Complex, stop associating ourselves with rank heretics, adhere to the Titus 1:9 mandate to rebuke false teachers, and return to the Bible as the only plumb line then count me in!
By the way, do you know what would happen in this country if this national call was actually focused on correcting the abuses from the pulpit? Revival. That's right. The very thing the America the Idol worshippers always claim to desire do deeply. True revival can only occur when the Church of Jesus Christ starts behaving as it is biblically commanded to do so. Only then will we see a supernatural move of God across this country. That is not my design beloved. It is God's design. Instead of salt and light to a dying world we have become pepper and glitter to a world we strive to be relevant to. Then when we want to act pious and moral we gather by the tens of thousands in the nation's capitol and stretch out our accusatory fingers at people who according to the Bible are walking in complete darkness and think the things of God are utter foolishness.
It is time to dispel the false teachings not only of doctrine but of American history. I used to teach American history. Despite the best efforts of people to rewrite history, we were never a Christian nation. The majority of the founding fathers were not bible believing Christians. Most were Deists, which means they believed in God but NOT the God of the Bible. Jefferson rewrote the Bible removing every reference to the deity of Jesus Christ. While America remains the best secular nation in history it is not without its trail of blood and most decidedly unchristian behavior. Do you know why? Because God does not save nations beloved. He saves people. Even the great nation of Israel, the apple of His very eye, will not be saved en masse but only those who place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If we want to truly pray for our nation of unbelievers then we ought to be praying that our churches return to the Gospel because only the Gospel can save them:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. - Romans 1: 16 (ESV)
It is not behaving better that is the power of God unto the salvation of men. It is not even the law which is the power of God unto the salvation of men. Only the true Gospel saves. So while United Cry may have the best of intentions it is simply an exercise in missing the point. Is this country more immoral than it was in 1916 or 1816? Sure but were the people who did not know Jesus in those years any more lost than the people in 2016? Of course not. There are not degrees of being lost. Your name is either in the Lamb's Book of Life or it is not. You are either a sheep or a goat. You will either hear well done my good and faithful servant or I never knew you. There is no curtain number three. So what has really changed in the past 100-200 years? Certainly the technology has brought sin into our world at a faster moving pace but that also misses the point. What has changed over the past two centuries is the church itself. We have gone from Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God to Discover Your Purpose in the Usher Ministry. We have gone from How Great Thou Art to Oh How Much He Loves Me. As the church moved from the bullhorn for the Gospel to a thriving business opportunity we have seen the steady decline in the power and influence the church holds. Not because sin is abounding more. Not because the government is controlling more. But because the church no longer seeks to be different from the sinful society it proclaims to need to pray for so earnestly. When we see the raging immorality in the world we refuse to see that same immorality in the church. We decry the ruining of the institution of marriage but fail to see how we lead the way when we shamelessly follow pastors on their third divorce. We will kneel before statues in Washington and cry crocodile tears over the depravity and corruption in the world but refuse to see how the church has led that depravity and corruption with adulterous leaders we run to embrace and disgraced leaders we welcome back into ministry in the blink of an eye.
Just consider Mark Driscoll for a moment. This man has disgraced the pulpit of Jesus Christ. Forget about the overly sexual teachings and the depraved Internet posts from 15 years ago. Just stick with the admitted theft of 250 thousand dollars in tithes that he used to cheat the NY Times Bestseller list. Or the 13 plagiarized books. Or his callous reference to the people he has hurt as "a pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus." Or his blatant lie about hearing audibly from God to avoid church discipline. How much is enough for this wicked church today to say no more? This man has disqualified himself from the pastoral office. Instead, a mere 15 months later he is opening a new church and is teaching at a national conference on leadership??? Dear Lord, forgive us.
Then we will actually march the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to pray to God to "restore our nation", "heal our land" or "spread revival?" Seriously? You are missing the point! We are to blame for our nation needing to be restored, healed, and revived. The unsaved have not changed. They are just as blind as they were a hundred years ago. They are just as lost as they were 200 years ago. They still need to hear the Gospel as they did 300 years ago. The problem is someone stopped preaching it. The good news is that the Good News still saves people. The same Gospel that saved people in 1816 and 1916 still can save people in 2016. It just needs to be preached again. So go to DC if you want but I pray you realize that the very people you vilify and blame are the very people you are charged with bringing the Gospel to.