Category Archives: prophetic

A Decade of Expectation and Preparation

2020 ProphecyAs one year winds down and another is on the doorstep, prophetic people often seek God for a fresh word for the coming year. Many diverse prophecies had already been given, so I really hadn’t sought the Lord to hear one myself this year. I was surprised when He did speak to me a couple of weeks ago about the coming decade. Here’s what I heard:

In 2020, we are entering a decade of expectation — expectation of the coming of the King. It will also be a decade of preparation — preparation for His coming.

I remembered Hosea 6:1-3:

Come, and let us return to the LORD: for He has torn, and He will heal us; He has smitten, and He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come to us as the rain, as the latter and former rain to the earth.

He is calling us to prepare for His coming by returning wholeheartedly to Him. In Revelation 2:4, 5, Jesus chastised the Ephesian church for leaving her first love. He exhorted her to remember, repent, and do the first works. Revelation 19:7 says, “…The marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready.”

In Hosea 6:2,  we see that first He will revive us, and then He will resurrect us.  Jesus arose on the third day. We will experience a “third day” resurrection into our glorified bodies as well. (We are now in the third millennium since Jesus returned to heaven. Since “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8), there is a possible correlation between the third millennium since Christ’s resurrection and our “third day” resurrection.)

Finally the Lord said, “Throw the nets out one more time.” The accompanying thought was that this time we will receive a great catch of fish. I believe this is about a last great harvest of souls before Jesus returns. (See Luke 5:4-6.)

I want to clarify that I am not saying Jesus will delay His coming for His bride for another ten years. Nor does He have to return for us by the end of the decade. Jesus made it clear in Luke 12:35-40 that we should always be watching and waiting for Him. He will appear when we aren’t expecting Him to. It could be tomorrow, if the Father so chooses. I believe He will come very soon, and I yearn for Him to do so. But until He does, we are to be in expectation of Him and preparing for Him as a bride readies herself for her wedding day.

In this next decade, let’s eagerly

  • Expect the coming of the Lord Jesus,
  • Prepare our hearts for His coming, and
  • Throw our nets out one more time, to receive that final harvest for His glory.

 

prophecy, books, audiobooksWould you mind taking a look at
my resources page?

I have books, audiobooks, and audio workshops for you on prayer, prophetic teaching, and more.

 

 

Small Beginnings, Influencers, and Cupbearers

water glassI know I have written on this topic before, but it’s on my heart once again.

In the last thirty years or so, I have seen a mindset within the charismatic/prophetic church which has brought a great deal of discontentment and disillusion to some believers. It’s the emphasis on being somebody special — special in the sense of being more than everybody else. We’ve been encouraged to achieve “greatness.” Many of us have been given personal prophecies that we would be important “influencers;” “world-changers;” great evangelists, prophets, worship leaders, or whatever. In short, we’ve been molded into thinking that if we don’t have some kind of celebrity status, there is something wrong with us.

We’ve been told, “Don’t despise the day of small beginnings” — with the implication that we might start small, but it had better get bigger! We’re encouraged to serve first by cleaning toilets, because eventually our faithfulness will be noticed, and we will graduate to better things (where cleaning toilets is no longer part of our job description). I suppose it’s the same “dream big” mentality that pervades all of American society, where every little girl or boy theoretically has the potential of someday becoming President. We’ve just repackaged it a bit in Christianity.

Along the way, though, some have become sadly disappointed when these illusions of greatness did not materialize. They’ve given up, wondering what went wrong or where they failed. Still others continue to chase after that pot of gold (personal importance) at the end of the rainbow, while it always remains out of reach.

I suspect God never intended for us to have expectations of being a “somebody.” We already are somebodies in His eyes, because we are His sons and daughters. We are already “a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9) of priceless value, just because we are His. I don’t think He ever wanted us to aim at graduating from scrubbing toilets into something “better.” Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, didn’t He? He said that in the Resurrection, He would seat us at the table and serve us (Luke 12:37). How amazing! Not even Jesus has graduated from serving. It is His eternal nature, and it must become ours.

A few days ago, I spent some time praying part of Ecclesiastes 9:10: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might….” I promised the Lord that I would do whatever He brings to my hand, no matter how insignificant it might seem. For me right now, that means devoting myself to serving my elderly mother, making sure she feels loved and well taken care of. It means spending time listening to people, praying with them, answering their questions about spiritual things when I am able, and helping them in little ways here and there which are unlikely to be noticed on a grand scale. It means cherishing my husband and children. It also means that right now I can’t pursue some things I would have preferred to do if I had the time.

I see a lot of other Christians in the same position, some serving with greater dedication than I could ever hope to. Selfless giving in small ways is precious in the Lord’s sight, if we do it humbly and joyfully for Him. These acts of kindness, every bit as much as miracles, signs, and wonders, are the works and greater works which Jesus said we would do, in John 14:12. Don’t think so? Take another look at 1 Corinthians 13, with its message about noisy gongs and clanging symbols versus loving when the rubber meets the road.

Years ago, I taught a Bible verse to our small children when I put them to bed at night: “And whoever will give to one of these little ones a cup of cold water to drink, only in the name of a disciple, most assuredly I say to you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42). We recited this verse together over that last glass of water they requested before going to sleep at night. It’s a fun memory.

Whether you ever become well known or not, do with all your might whatever the Lord gives you, moment by moment. Don’t miss out on the many opportunities to serve Him and the people around you while you wait for some big destiny thing. And remember, giving that cup of cold water, only in the name of a disciple, will be rewarded by the King, too.

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peace of mind

 

 

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

time, clock, DaliLast time, I wrote about a dream I had concerning the Church. Here is one more, with a different message:

In the dream, I woke up on the day I was supposed to have eye surgery at the hospital on the north side of our city. The surgery appointment time was 7:05. I looked at the clocks in our kitchen, and the one on the wall said 6:15. The microwave clock said 6:30. I panicked, thinking I didn’t have enough time, no matter which clock was right. And I still had to take a shower.

I asked my husband Paul what time it really was, but he didn’t seem to know. My mom changed the clock on the microwave to 7:30, thinking that was the correct time. When I pointed out the error to her, she laughed and said she would change it again. But nobody seemed to know what time it really was.

I became overwhelmed as I realized I might not have enough time for a shower before my appointment. But I was going to try anyway. I now discovered I didn’t have my clothes ready, either. They were stuffed tightly in my purse, and I couldn’t seem to get them out. I poured powdered laundry detergent into the purse, all over the clothes, and then realized I had now made a huge mess of them. The dream ended with my dad trying to help me fix the situation.

Whew! How would you like to have stress like that going on? And what does it all mean?

Here are the main points I understand: A critical event is looming on the horizon, there isn’t much time, and nobody seems to understand what time it really is.

I believe the dream is speaking of the return of Jesus for His Church, and we are not ready.

I had an appointment for eye surgery at the north side hospital. “North” often speaks of heaven, where God is.  At the appointed time, we will see Jesus as He is. We will see clearly.

1 John 3:2, 3“… But we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man who has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure.” (Note that I desperately wanted to get that shower in!)

1 Corinthians 13:12“For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know even as also I am known.”

While nobody in the house seemed to know what time it really was, I was keenly aware that the time available was extremely short — maybe shorter than we thought.  I didn’t know if I had enough time to get ready, but it seemed like I probably did not.

I am not sure if the numbers I saw on the clocks had deeper meanings, but this is what I did understand from them:

7:05 — The appointed time has been set.
6:15 — The time is very short before that appointment.
6:30 — The time is even shorter than we thought.
7:30 — Some people are totally off on the timing, expecting the appointment to take place much later than when it actually will.

My mom mistakenly set the clock for later than the appointment time. Some Christians are putting the time of Jesus’ return off with their prophecies and theology, not realizing that their idea of when Jesus will return is actually after the appointed time God has set.

In the dream, I felt very unprepared and not clean, and I wanted desperately to remedy that, but I was trying to do it in my own strength. I couldn’t lay hold of my clothes. Sprinkling dry laundry detergent over them sounds a lot like our human efforts to spruce ourselves up outwardly, but inwardly we’re still a mess — and our Father in heaven is there, trying to assist us with this, just as my father in the dream tried to help me.

Yet, we do have a part to play in getting ready. Revelation 19:7 comments, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”

So, is the dream saying we cannot possibly be ready when Jesus comes? No, it is a warning to wake up and understand what time it is. The appointed time for His coming for His bride is sooner than we may have realized.  We need to make adjustments now.  Jesus is returning for a beautiful bride, who is “without spot or wrinkle … holy, and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). While we can’t clean ourselves up by human effort (Ephesians 5:26 says Jesus sanctifies and cleanses us by the washing of the water of the Word), we do need to cooperate with Him by listening and obeying.

He’s coming sooner  than we think. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him (Luke 12:40, NIV). We don’t want to end up like the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25.

How do we make sure we are ready? Come to the Lord for cleansing. Each of us knows the areas of compromise in our lives which need to go. We must lay aside whatever distracts us from the Lord. Seek His face, call on His name for a fresh love for Him, and eagerly look for Him. He is coming for those who “love His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). “Unto those who look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).

In the dream, the time of the eye appointment was 7:05. Let me finish with Psalm 70:5: “But I am poor and needy; make haste unto me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer. O Lord, make no tarrying.

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dream interpretation

 

 

Hearing God Through Your Dreams,
Audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

 

personal prophecy

 

 

The Spirit-Filled Guide to Personal Prophecy,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

A Dream About the Church

vanToday, I’d like to share a recent dream, which I feel is about something currently happening in the family of God.

For most of the dream, I was acting as an observer.  I saw my daughter sitting in the driver’s seat of my van, and she seemed to be stalled. Pulled up alongside of her in another car was a well-known actor of bygone days. He was someone who had done several TV series on occult or paranormal themes. He was smiling graciously at her while advising her on how to get the van running.

He told her to put water in the gas tank. In her ignorance, she trusted that he was really trying to help her, so she did as he said. I knew she had just ruined the van.

At this point, I left my observer position. I hurried behind the actor’s car with a pad of paper and pen to write down his license plate number, so I could turn him in to the authorities. But then I heard him chuckling about what he had duped my daughter into doing. He was also laughing at me for thinking I could turn him in. I suddenly realized that, because he had not personally poured the water into the gas tank, but had fooled my daughter into doing it to herself, there would be no case against him in a court of law.

My interpretation:

Vans and cars usually represent a person’s life or ministry. Vans lean more toward meaning ministry in my dreams.

I felt that the actor represented the devil (perhaps also evil or deceived people he works through). Actors play roles which are not their real selves, so here was a man who was pretending to be nice and to give sound advice, but his intentions were entirely evil. He preyed upon the ignorance and innocence of my daughter.

My daughter represented younger people in the faith, either biological or spiritual sons and daughters. She blindly believed someone was trying help her, just because that’s what he wanted her to think. She did not discern the source of the information she received. Hence, she ruined the van by following his evil advice. This was due to extreme ignorance in basic car care, too.

My daughter watered down the fuel. We cannot mix the pure fuel of the Word and of the Holy Spirit with other substances. We need to stick with what the Bible says and not adulterate it. This is a trap many Christians fall into. They absorb  secular, humanistic thoughts, opinions, and advice, not discerning the unholy sources from which they are coming. They end up thinking and living just like non-Christians, even ruining their own lives by following beliefs and tactics which are not from God. They can’t even pin it on the enemy, because they do it to themselves through ignorance of the truth and lack of discernment. An absence of prayer and reading the Bible are major reasons for this ignorance and inability to discern.

Meanwhile, the devil is enjoying deceiving God’s people, thereby rendering them ineffective and even ruining their lives.

I noted that my daughter was not able to get my van going in the first place; it was already at a standstill. The evil advice she took just finished the job. I felt this was saying that in our families and in the Church, we hand our ministries over to the next generation without equipping them to know how to drive them.

What is the solution? 

Those of us who are older and/or leaders in the family of God must train our sons and daughters (both biological and spiritual) in the fundamentals of the faith, the Bible, and in discernment, so that they are not duped into thinking evil is good, “lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices”  (2 Corinthians 2:11). We must emphasize the importance of daily prayer and time in the Word as well. The generations behind us will not be able to keep the kingdom of God, or their own personal lives as believers, moving forward without these things.

In our churches, we must also realize that we cannot water down or compromise the “living fuel” of the Word from the pulpit. Our gospel must be centered on Jesus, rather than on a me-istic message of personal success.

Do you have any further thoughts to add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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dream interpretation

 

 

 

Hearing God Through Your Dreams,
Audio Teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

Prayer — Let’s Not Complicate It!

prayerIf you have been following Out of the Fire for a while, you know I like to provide practical steps to effective prayer, hearing God, and the gifts of the Spirit. That’s because it’s how I personally like to learn. “Show me how! Give me the down-to-earth scoop on this!” My goal is to share principles from the Bible which make whatever aspect of the Christian life we’re talking about as easy to grasp as possible.

However, I don’t want these how-to steps to become some kind of methodology. They are guidelines, not rules. God is not about formulas. He wants us to develop ever-deepening relationship with Him — a growing hunger for the “more” He invites us into and an increasing awe of His infinitely beautiful nature.

In my last post, I talked about the self-help mentality which has invaded the Church. Since the fall into sin in the Garden of Eden, we’ve had a tendency to insist on doing things for ourselves, rather than depending on the Lord. The realm of prayer is not exempt from this error. We want a method which will give us answered prayer every time, where, if we input the right stuff, God will automatically spit out the desired response. We like having everything neatly boxed and wrapped, don’t we?

As a result, teachings keep arising which promise us that magic prayer bullet. We saw it with the extremes some Word of Faith people got into: “Say it, and it’s yours.” “If you speak the right Bible verses over your situation enough times and with unwavering faith, you’ll have what you need.” Many people slipped from having faith in Christ and His Word into trying to have faith in their own faith. When things didn’t happen as they had hoped, they either condemned themselves, became disillusioned with God, or walked away from believing He does miracles today. (This does not mean everything brought by the Word of Faith movement should be rejected. I am only speaking of extremes that some got off into.)

A rapidly spreading fad in charismatic circles is the “courts of heaven” teaching. It depends on formula, personal experiences, and shaky application of Scripture coming from an Old Covenant law mindset. The basic premise is that you must know how to present your case in a heavenly court room. The reason you haven’t been getting answers to prayer is because you weren’t aware of the legal court system in heaven, so you didn’t present your case correctly there. Therefore, the devil has a “legal right” to hinder your petitions. Buy the books, attend the conferences, and you will learn how to “navigate the courts” to receive answers. Voila! You have your magic prayer bullet.

Various teachings on how to get breakthroughs are nothing new. Trying to find the cure to unanswered prayer has probably been a concern since the Church’s inception. Over the decades, I’ve heard lots of teaching involving lists of multiple conditions we must fulfill and step-by-step formulas for how to attract God’s favor. At its core, it’s really all about works, isn’t it? We hasten to say we are saved by grace, not by works, but then we attempt to live out the Christian life (including prayer) in a totally works-based fashion.

Here’s a simple hint: When your prayers become about you doing/saying everything exactly right, rather than about Jesus’ unlimited ability and eagerness to help, something is radically wrong. When you become fearful that you might not get your answer because you didn’t fulfill a list of qualifications, this is bondage.

So, how should we pray to get answers?

1. We listen for the Holy Spirit’s leading. That starts with a lifestyle of filling ourselves with His written Word. It is His primary way of speaking with us. Even when we listen for His voice in our hearts (the other thing we want to cultivate), much of what we hear will be drawn from the Bible. The Holy Spirit loves to bring Scripture and Scripture principles to our remembrance.

Maybe you’re thinking, “But I don’t know my Bible very well yet.” Just start reading it now. Trust the Lord to still help you, even if you are weak in this area. He will be your teacher, and He’ll make up for your inadequacies.

2. Lay aside your concerns that you might fail at praying rightly. You will make mistakes and have some false starts here and there. That’s just life on earth. Prayer is something we continually grow better at, especially as we come to know the Lord more intimately. But we will never do it all perfectly. We will always need to depend upon Him.

Your heavenly Father is compassionate toward your limited understanding, your emotions, and your fears about the outcome. Pour it out to Him. You might start out with prayers which are less than faith-filled, but as you continue to come to Him, He will get you there. Remember, this is not all about you. It’s about how big and completely able the Lord is.

3. Expect God’s course correction and move with Him. He will show you new angles on how to pray in any given situation as you persist in coming to Him. He will correct any wrong direction you start out in and get you headed on the right course, as long as you stay open to His leading and don’t stubbornly resist Him.

4. Ask Him for His input. “How do You see this? How should I pray? Please guide me.” What a wonderful opener! We don’t tell Him how it’s got to be; we ask Him how it’s supposed to be. This is part of staying yielded to Him.

5. Pray in your prayer language. The Holy Spirit knows exactly how to intercede according to the Father’s heart, so even if your inclination on how to pray isn’t exactly right-on, you will still end up praying correctly as you pray in tongues. It is direct communication between your spirit and the Holy Spirit, without the human mind getting in the way. It opens you to a greater understanding of the need and God’s desired conclusion to it, so that you become better equipped to pray correctly in your native language, too. Praying in tongues also builds faith, according to Jude 20: But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.”

While we tend to complicate prayer, God does not. It is simply coming to Him, in all our inability, and asking Him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We bring Him our lack, our hope, and our trust. And we keep doing it. Psalm 62: 5, 8 says it best: My soul, wait only upon God, for my expectation is from Him. … Trust in Him at all times, you people. Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.”

If you would like to learn more about how to pray effectively, please take a look at the Article Series tab at the top of this site. You will find a wealth of info there. You might also find my books for intercessors (listed below) helpful.

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intercessor handbook

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercessory prayer

 

 

The Intercessor’s Companion,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercession, prayer

 

 

Your Intercession Questions Answered,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 7) — Other Attributes of the Church

Supreme Court buildingWe’ve talked about the Church being a family, a body, an army, a house of prayer and worship, and a healing center. Here are a few other attributes of the Church which should not be neglected.

 

The Church is a governing body upon earth.

We carry out our governing function in a couple of ways. One is by bringing the power and presence of God with us wherever we go.

We are meant to influence and bring change in our world through our words and actions. We are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20), meaning that what Jesus did to demonstrate the Kingdom of God, we do also. Jesus “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38); we do likewise. He spoke light and truth; we are to do the same. Jesus said of His disciples, “You are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”“a city set on a hill [that] cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:13, 14). Paul worded it, God “makes manifest by us the savor of His knowledge in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:15). So, we govern by bringing the Lord’s kingdom to our world in how we do life.

Each of us can do this in the process of going about our daily occupations. But in order to be as effective as possible, we should stay aware that this is why we have been placed by God in our particular spheres of influence. We must not miss our opportunities!

The second way we govern on earth is through prayer. In Matthew 18:18, 19, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by My Father Who is in heaven.”

In his book, Secrets of a Prayer Warrior, Derek Prince said this: “The Bible reveals that this world is not really ruled by presidents and governors and dictators. They only seem to rule. The people who really rule the world are those who know how to pray.” We need to grasp this idea and run with it!

Our governing function is carried out both individually and as a church body. While each of us should be an ambassador and a prayer warrior, when we join together in unity with other believers, our effectiveness is greatly multiplied. Corporate governing as a body ties in with what we already saw in Part 4 about the Church being an army. No man fights a war all by himself.

Ultimately, we will physically govern on earth with Christ when He returns (and we with Him) for His millennial reign as King. The governing we do now is a seed, a foretaste of what is to come.

discipleshipThe Church is a center for discipleship.

What did Jesus tell His disciples before He left earth? “Go, therefore, and teach [make disciples of] all nations… teaching them to observe all things which I have commanded you….” (Matthew 28:19, 20).

Paul called this discipleship “the perfecting [equipping] of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all come, in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, into maturity, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we are no longer children, tossed to and fro, carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery and cunning craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:12-14).

Some of our local churches are fulfilling the discipleship function well. However, based on the amount of serious doctrinal error which has become commonplace in the Church today, apparently many of our churches are not getting the job done. In Charismatic / prophetic / apostolic circles, we often focus on “equipping the saints” in how to do the supernatural works of Jesus, but we have neglected to lay the firm foundation of the core doctrines taught by the original New Testament apostles. Indeed, we have neglected teaching the Bible as a whole. On the other hand, in fundamentalist / non-Charismatic streams, there is often a great adherence to Bible teaching, while not emphasizing pursuing intimacy with Jesus Himself. As you can see, the Church needs a lot of improvement in the discipleship area!

The discipleship function can be worked out in a variety of ways. The Word of God should be preached from our pulpits (in many cases, this is not happening as it should). Home Bible studies and Bible classes within the local church can further enhance the work. One-on-one discipleship, with mature believers mentoring newer Christians, is just as vital as what we receive through sermons and structured teaching.

I personally believe we should see more teaching from the Bible on God’s nature. If we understand Who He is and how He acts, we can then apply that understanding to develop Christlike character in our own lives. Too many believers in our day have little understanding of either God’s nature or how to live like Jesus. These things can be taught systematically, however.

It is a large task, and may seem overwhelming, but each of us can do our part by being connected into a local fellowship where true discipleship is taking place, and by being willing to disciple others who are just beginning their life in Christ.

In our next post, we’ll wrap up this series with one more aspect of who the Church is and a few final thoughts.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Part 4 — We Are an Army
Part 5 — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship
Part 6 — We Are a Healing Center
Next: Part 8 (Conclusion)

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nature of God

 

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

Christian character

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

intercession, prayer

 

 

The Intercessor Manual,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 4) — We Are an Army

In Christian circles, we often refer to the Church as an army. We sing Onward Christian Soldiers, God’s Got an Army, and the children’s song, I’m in the Lord’s Army! Unquestionably, warfare is a major theme throughout the Bible. The physical warfare so prevalent in the Old Testament becomes the spiritual warfare of the New.

Surprisingly though, while the Old Testament frequently refers to the armies of Israel, the New Testament only uses the word “army” or “armies” for the Church once, in Revelation 19:14: “And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” The context is Jesus’ return to earth to rule and reign. He is accompanied by the already raptured and glorified Church. We know this is the Church because of the emphasis upon their apparel, which is “white and clean.”

We do have a number of verses which speak of Christians as soldiers engaged in combat:

Ephesians 6:11-18 — the familiar passage about putting on the whole armor of God

Romans 13:12… Let us put on the armor of light.”

2 Timothy 2:3, 4 “Therefore, endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man going to war entangles himself with the affairs of this life, so that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 — “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds), casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

We also have several verses on overcoming and triumphing in the context of spiritual warfare.

One of the clearest implications of the Church being an army is given by Jesus, in Matthew 16:18. Peter has just professed His belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (v. 16). Jesus then comments, “Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” That sounds like the Church will be engaging together in warfare — assaulting the gates of the enemy and winning the battle.

So, that’s what we’ve got in the Bible — Israel fighting together as an army for the sake of their family inheritance, several references to the Church engaging in spiritual warfare individually and together as a group, and finally, the Church appearing as the armies in heaven who follow Jesus back to earth. Yet, in some Christian circles, the Church is referred to as an army incessantly, while Church as family is rarely spoken of. That’s where we run into problems, with the extreme emphasis of the one over the other.

We hear much talk among Charismatics in particular about leaders being “generals,” and various levels of leaders having “rank” above others in the Body of Christ. I think we should be very careful to avoid that language and the attitude behind it. While God has put in place an orderly hierarchy for church leadership, using terms such as bishops and elders, He calls them shepherds of the flock, not military officers. Indeed, Jesus warned his disciples against lording it over others:

But Jesus called them to him, and said to them, “You know that those who are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever wants to be great among you shall be your servant, and whoever of you desires to be chief, shall be servant of all.”Mark 10:42-44

In Matthew 23:10, 11, He also said, “Neither be called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”

Peter encouraged church leaders to be shepherds: “The elders which are among you I exhort, who also am an elder, … feed the flock of God which is among you … not as lords over God’s heritage, but as examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, you will receive a crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:1-4).

The functions of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher were not ever meant by the Lord to be positions used to levy power over others. They are gifts to the Church to help train us for ministry and to build up the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:8-13 explains this, with verse 8 saying Jesus ascended and gave gifts to men,” and verse 11 saying “He gave some to be apostles and some to be prophets….”

When church leaders view themselves as army officers instead of fellow brothers and sisters in God’s family, they can easily become heavy-handed. Abuse takes place, and people get hurt. When kingdom purposes become more important than valuing the people who make up the kingdom, we’ve lost the vision God intended. God does not see the individuals in His army as expendable cannon fodder, and we shouldn’t see anyone that way either.

How can we change these attitudes, when they are so prevalent? Being aware of the truth is a big step, so that we no longer buy into man-made misconceptions. And, if we have the opportunity to lead others in any way, we don’t have to make the same mistakes which have been made before. We can bring change through how we treat others. It all comes back to the core description we started with: The Church is the expression of Jesus Christ upon the earth.

I know some of you have been deeply hurt by leaders who were not gentle, who used, rather than cherished, the church flock. I do not write this to stir up bitterness, but in hopes of bringing some truth to bear so that adjustments can be made, even if it is only in the thinking of a few. May God give those of you who have been hurt grace to forgive, to receive healing, and to be instruments of change for the better in the Lord’s hands.

Ultimately, when we think of the Church as an army, if we keep it in the perspective of the Church being first and foremost God’s family, we’ll be all right. We will carry out our warrior calling in the way God intended, without harming our fellow soldiers in the process.

What Should the Church Look Like? (Part 1)
Part 2 — We Are Family
Part 3 — We Are One Body
Next: Part 5 — We Are a House of Prayer and Worship

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prophetic teaching

 

Growing in the Prophetic,
Audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

 

nature of God, Christian discipleship

 

 

Before Whom We Stand, by Lee Ann Rubsam