Rick Joyner has assured me that he did not mean what I thought he meant in his article on the coming Civil War in the church. However, despite my respect for Rick, I believe that this issue surely has to be the most critical that has faced the church in recent decades. Does God really want the prophetic movement "taking sides" in the coming conflict? And is this Civil War really a good thing, or will it be the most colossal disaster that has befallen the church in centuries? In New Zealand, God has given us very strong prophetic warnings regarding this whole issue, and this is what will be discussed in this article.
For at least ten years now, particularly in the American prophetic movement, God has been warning of the great 'Civil War' that would soon split and shake His church. A number of prophetic ministries have been given dreams and visions likening this coming great con- flict in the church to the American Civil War of last century, which was fought between the Union in the North (the Blues) and the Confederacy in the South (the Grays). In these dreams and vis- ions of the coming war in the church, God has also likened one side to the 'Grays' and one side to the Blues. Many prophets have interpreted this to mean a conflict between those who are dist- inctly 'head-knowledge'- oriented Christians, and those who are distinctly 'Spirit'-oriented. (This certainly seems a logical con- clusion). No doubt there have always been tensions between these two extremes in the church, but this time it will be all-out war. However, God has also warned very strongly that those who take part in this conflict will be excluded from the great Revival that is to follow immediately after this colossal 'shaking'. One very well-known vision, which was quoted by Rick Joyner in his article, was given to Philip Elston several years ago. In it, he saw Jesus standing with arms outstretched. Soldiers in blue and gray uni- forms were marching past Him on either side, and were laying their bloody swords on His arms. The Lord resolutely looked into the eyes of each one, saying, "NO-ONE WHO HAS THEIR BROTHER'S BLOOD ON THEIR SWORD WILL BE USED TO BUILD MY HOUSE." It is well-known around the world that civil wars are usually the most bitter, destructive and ugly conflicts that it is possible to have. Brother against brother, fathers, cousins and countrymen consumed with murderous enmity one against the other. What a nightmare! (As we have seen recently in Rwanda and Bosnia). One thing I certainly do agree with in Rick Joyner's article is his statement that: "This will, in fact, be one of the most cruel battles the church has ever faced. Like every civil war, it will cause brother to turn against brother like we may have never wit- nessed in the church before... What is coming will be dark. At times Christians almost universally will be loath to even call themselves Christians. Believers and unbelievers alike will think that it is the end of Christianity as we know it, and it will be." He then goes on to say that: "Through this the very definition of Christianity will be changed, for the better." I am afraid that, due to the strong prophetic warnings God has given us in New Zeal- and, I simply cannot go along with that last statement. However, I certainly do believe that we are headed for a great splitting and shaking of the church (in fact, I believe that this will be a form of JUDGEMENT upon today's Laodicean church). But I just cannot go along with the idea that the prophetic movement is to actively participate or "take sides" in this conflict, or that this Civil War is some marvellous thing that we should all be looking forward to in the church. The idea that we should join in with this war, to try and drive the "Accuser of the brethren" out of other Christian groups in this way, frankly strikes me as being one of the most disastrous and ill-advised courses of action that I have ever heard. But what are we to think when we read things like: "...it was time to straightforwardly warn the church, and to begin preparing for this great war with the resolve to fight until there was a com- plete victory. The definition of a complete victory in this war would be the complete overthrow of the Accuser of the Brethren's strongholds in the church... This battle must be fought. It is an opportunity to drive the accuser out of the church..." (- From 'Civil War in the Church', published May, 1996). I am afraid I simply cannot agree with any of this. Surely it is obvious that all that would be accomplished by such a brutal, all-out conflict is that the church would literally tear itself apart? And aside from a whole raft of crushed and damaged Christians, what would be the real fruit of such a War? Before I go on to discuss what God has been showing us here in NZ, I would just like to briefly discuss my own background. I am a Spirit-filled, tongues-speaking believer, and have been involved with the Charismatic movement now for some years. I am also a great believer in the coming end-times Revival, and through my writings on this subject I have come into contact with hundreds of praying and prophetic groups and individuals across New Zeal- and. My wife and I are also modern musicians who write our own songs, and we have been clearly directed towards "Sons of Thunder" type music ministry for about ten years now. I am also a Revival historian, and have been studying Revival and Reformation history for about twelve years. I am currently Editor of the New Zealand Revival Bulletin, which is a national prophetic journal. There have been a large number of dreams and visions given to prophets and intercessors in New Zealand regarding the coming move of God. (Many of these are covered in my book, "The Coming Great Reformation"). Like elsewhere around the world, they have often spoken of the great 'shaking', division and Reformation that are about to come upon the church. One vision which relates particu- larly well to our present discussion, was given to a local inter- cessor (whom I know personally) early in 1995. In this vision, she saw the waters being parted, just as Moses parted the sea. The words that she was given to describe what she was seeing were: "TWO CHURCHES". In other words, what she was witnessing was the dividing of the current church into two distinct 'churches' or movements. For a time, while the gap between the two sides was still relatively small, Christians were easily able to jump from side to side. However, as the gap widened, this became more and more difficult, and eventually the only way people could get from one side to the other was to jump into the deep rift itself (the sides of which now looked like huge 'cliffs' of water), to be hauled up by people on the other side. Significantly, this inter- cessor was given the strong impression that the catalyst for this great rift was to be the 'Toronto blessing' movement. Certainly, I have noticed a far more "militant" mood amongst the 'Spirit'- oriented believers since Toronto has swept through the church. There seems to be a lot more talk of aggressive mobil- isation and aggressive defence of the movement against those who oppose it. This hardening of attitude has also coincided with a similar hardening on the other side. Many of the 'conservative', evangelical-type Christians seem to have been particularly appall- ed by Toronto, and have become quite bitter in their opposition. So we can see that conditions for a Civil War in the church have indeed been greatly advanced by 'Toronto' (and I guess by 'Pensa- cola' also, which is closely related). For to have a civil war, it is necessary for BOTH SIDES to become quite "militant" in their stance, one against the other. With all of this in mind, I just want to take a look now at one of the most important reasons that God has shown us, why we should not even consider lifting our hands against opposing leaders or organizations in the church (even if they are considered 'Saulish' by nature). The well-known lesson that God has very strongly poin- ted us to is found in the story of David and Saul. In those times, just like today, there was a 'new move of God' - a golden era for Israel - on the horizon. This new era would begin when the new leadership (ie. David) was finally raised up and recognized as the true leader of God's people. Remember, king Saul had already been rejected by God as leader, and David had been anointed by the prophet to take his place. But did David then try to wrest control of Israel away from Saul? Did he try to attack Saul and bring about this new golden era himself? No! In fact he did the very opposite. David refused to lift his hand against Saul in any way. He still regarded Saul as being the "Lord's anointed", God's chosen leader, right up until the time that GOD HIMSELF acted to completely annul Saul's kingship (by allowing him to be killed in battle against Israel's enemies). In other words, David waited until SAUL WAS DEAD - in God's perfect timing - before he made any move toward taking up the leadership of Judah and Israel. HE NEVER FOUGHT SAUL AT ALL - FOR THE KINGDOM OR FOR ANYTHING ELSE. For he knew that to do so would have been REBELLION, and would have been pre-empting what God was wanting to do. In fact, it is my belief that if David had raised his hand against Saul, then he would have proved him- self unworthy of the leadership of Israel, and would have disqual- ified himself because of it. God never sanctions rebellion, and this was obviously a very crucial test for David. During his years of waiting, David suffered greatly in many ways. He was slandered, misunderstood, hunted like an animal, forced to live in caves in the wilderness, etc. And NOT ONCE did he raise his hand against Saul, even under the pretext of "liberating" the people of Israel who were being ruled by Saul. It is my belief that today, anyone who raises their hands against opposing leaders or groups, or participates in a 'Civil War' against them at this time, is falling into this self-same trap, and will disqualify themselves from taking part in the coming move of God. This is clearly what the vision that we discussed earlier is saying: "NO- ONE WHO HAS THEIR BROTHER'S BLOOD ON THEIR SWORD WILL BE USED TO BUILD MY HOUSE." I now want to share with you something else, of a slightly "un- usual" nature, which God has also pointed out to us as a strong prophetic warning on this subject. Strangely enough, 1995 was by far the most unusual year for New Zealand sport in living memory, with massive 'shaking' or Reformation being visited upon three of our top national sports during that time in an unprecedented peri- od of crisis and change. Uncannily, as God pointed out to me, much of this 'shaking' and Reformation was almost identical to what God had been telling us was about to come upon His church. And interestingly, in two of these sports, the concept of 'Civil War' was right at the centre of what occurred. The two sports that I am referring to here are Rugby Union (played right around the world) and Rugby League (played mainly in Eng- land, Australia and New Zealand). These are very big sports, espe- cially in the Southern Hemisphere. In early 1995, it was announced by Robert Murdoch's News Corporation that they were launching a new rebel League competition (because they didn't have broadcast rights to the existing one), which would be called "Superleague". They immediately began signing up many of the best Rugby League players around the world, even though most of them in Australia and New Zealand still had contracts with the existing competition. What resulted from this was a literal 'Civil War' in Rugby League, with two giant media moguls fighting for control of the sport's best players, and much bitterness and ill-will on both sides. All of this was played out in the full glare of the media spotlight, and it has done terrible harm to the sport as a whole. Right now, Rugby League is still split irrevocably into two camps, with on- going legal nightmares, and players in Britain beginning to defect to Rugby Union because of better conditions. For a sport that was doing so well, and beginning to make big inroads in NZ, this Civil War has been an absolute disaster, and things are already begin- ning to look very grim for the long-term survival of League as a truly leading sport in some areas. (In fact, you could almost say it has been suicidal - different limbs of the same body tearing murderously at one another). Meanwhile, in Rugby Union, 1995 was literally the most revolution- ary and crisis-stricken year in the sport's long history. Rugby Union had always been one of the last really big 'Amateur' sports, but because of the perceived threat of "Superleague", it suddenly went Professional almost overnight in 1995, securing a multi-mill- ion dollar TV deal and speeding up the pace of the game with rule changes, etc. In New Zealand (arguably the best Rugby nation in the world at the moment), they also revolutionised the entire top administration (which was old and stodgy), getting rid of twelve men, thus leaving only seven (plus two business advisors) on the national council. They also appointed John Hart, the most innovat- ive man they could find, as national coach. All of this has led to a truly 'golden era' for Rugby in the Southern Hemisphere. However, Rugby Union also came very close to 'Civil War' in 1995 (which would have ruined everything, just like it has in League). Just as Rugby Union was turning Professional, another rebel group (the World Rugby Corporation) came along, and began to sign up all the leading Rugby Union players around the world, offering them better money, etc. Just like the rebel Superleague, for a long time it looked as though this new rebel Rugby Union competition would succeed, and would capture all the best players. But right at the last moment, the whole thing began to unravel, and the players eventually crawled back to the Union (just in time). If this new rebel competition had succeeded (as it very nearly did), there would no doubt have been all-out 'Civil War' in Rugby Union, just like in Rugby League, and the damage would likewise have been suicidally crippling and severe. The sport would probably have taken years to recover (if at all). But instead, Civil War was narrowly averted, and traditional old 'Amateur' Rugby Union was able to revolutionise itself so completely in the space of just one year, that it has entered what many regard as a glorious new "golden era". So who needs a Civil War? (Please note that it was the 'rebellious' movements who were responsible for starting these destructive conflicts). To me, the lessons that God has been trying to show us in pointing to the above examples are pretty obvious. Civil Wars of any kind are extremely damaging and debilitating. Do we really need to tear the church apart with this kind of bitter public infighting, in order to see Revival come to the church? I don't think so! In fact, I believe that such a Civil War is far more likely to be a form of "JUDGEMENT" upon the church, and upon all who participate in it, rather than anything positive. If there is a Civil War in the church, I am convinced that those who participate in it will have no part whatsoever in the coming move of God. Surely it makes sense that God would give all these visions of the coming Civil War as a WARNING, not as some kind of invitation to participate in it!? Frankly, I have to say that I have been very disappointed that the American prophetic movement has seemingly advocated "taking sides" in the coming conflict. To me, this seems the height of irrespon- siblity, and it alarms me greatly. I have to say also, that there are a number of factors associated with the prophetic movement in America that have disturbed me for some years now. I don't know how well my words will be taken over there, but I do believe that these issues are important enough to risk raising them at this time. Sometimes an outsider's view can be of value, but I do apol- ogise in advance for any offence caused by what I am about to say. It seems to me that there are some very profound differences bet- ween the way the prophetic movement is set up in America, and the way it functions in other parts of the world. In America, there seems to be a very strong perception amongst friend and foe alike, that the prophetic movement there is so closely aligned with one particular denomination that they might almost be consid- ered to be one movement. Surely this would have to be seen as a very unhealthy state of affairs for any truly 'prophetic' group. How on earth can your words be taken as "impartial" when you are seen to be so closely aligned with the views and teachings of one particular stream or denomination? Is this what God really wants? I am by no means part of the "Anti-Vineyard" brigade, but is it really desirable to have a prophetic movement that is seen by many to be more of a mouthpiece for the Vineyard movement than an im- partial mouthpiece for God? I am sorry if I am offending you, but I frankly find it incredible that such a movement could see this as an acceptable state of affairs. And I also believe that, as always, there will be subtle pressure in such a situation, not to be too critical or too analytical about some of the teachings or practices that are associated with the 'related body'. It is my belief that this unhealthy association with one partic- ular stream has already affected the way that some issues have been examined by the American prophetic movement over the last few years or so. Elsewhere in the world, this is not the case, and other prophetic movements are free to analyse such issues without any perceived bias one way or the other. But how can the same be said of the American prophetic movement? As I said before, this apparent partiality surely has to be seen as a most debilitating weakness in any movement of this kind. Prophets are supposed to be beyond reproach in the area of impartiality. They are supposed to be the "eyes", the watchmen of the church. Surely this can only be harmed when there is a perceived bias in favour of one particular (controversial) stream of teaching? One thing that has struck me repeatedly about the American proph- etic scene is the seemingly never-ending talk about the problem of 'legalism' and Pharisee-type religion in the church. Certainly, this has been a problem (I have written detailed warnings about it myself in the past). But honestly, do we really need to go on and on about it, like some broken record or an endless tape loop? Surely we would have to be kidding ourselves if we thought that this was the major problem facing the 'Laodicean' church? I just cannot go along with the idea that it is "the control spirit, the political spirit and the religious spirit" that are largely resp- onsible for the sick and tepid state of today's lukewarm Christi- anity. This is certainly not what the Bible says. The Scriptures are very clear as to what the major problems of the Laodicean church are: "... because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing'... BE ZEALOUS THEREFORE, AND REPENT" (Rev 3:16-19). It seems beyond dispute to me that the major problems of the Laod- icean church are compromise, lukewarmness and materialism, etc, rather than some kind of 'control' spirit or pharisaical attitude. And when the Bible speaks of the "last days", it warns again and again of seducing spirits, 'lying signs and wonders', great decep- tion amongst Christians (arising from within the church), etc. Surely any truly 'prophetic' movement in the last days would be warning strongly of such dangers? But we don't seem to be hearing many warnings about these things from today's prophetic movement, do we? Could it be that it is more "politically correct" in the Vineyard to attack legalism and domination, but not 'lying signs and wonders' or similar deception? Surely it is obvious that if we live today in the age of the 'Laodicean' church, then we should be emphasising what Jesus Him- self emphasised: The desperate need for REPENTANCE from today's "bless-me, bless-me" Christianity, and from the insipid compromise and 'love of pleasures' that dominate so much of today's church. Does "taking up the cross" not mean what it says any more? It is a well-known fact that over-emphasising certain doctrines or teachings can lead to a very unbalanced Christianity. If you are over-balancing in the direction of 'legalism', then your preaching will cause heaviness and condemnation in people. On the other hand, if you are constantly preaching AGAINST legalism, and in- stead tending to strongly emphasise 'liberty' and grace all the time, then your preaching will result in the opposite problem: The people will tend towards 'casting off of restraint', license, and a spiritual "fun/party" atmosphere. Sin and holiness will be de- emphasised, and touchy-feely 'experiences' will tend to come to the fore. (This is simply a logical result of such teaching). Sound familiar, anyone? This kind of inbalance is surely just as serious and just as damaging as the 'legalistic' type of extreme. They are both at opposite ends of the scale, but as history clear- ly demonstrates, such inbalance in any direction can be absolutely fatal for God's people. To get back to our original theme of 'Civil War' once again, a friend of mine who is a well-known prophet in Australia, was given a very significant vision in 1995. In it, he saw a giant army snaking through the jungle. At it's head was the banner, "Joel's Army". Meanwhile, off in the jungle by itself was a battalion. It stood, waiting. This battalion was in the shape of a great square, and at it's head was a banner: "Gideon's Army". It was much small- er than the first. It seemed evident that Joel's Army was going to war, but that Gideon's Army had yet to receive it's marching orders. It is interesting to note that the Scriptures openly declare Joel's Army to be an army of LOCUSTS, which sweeps through immed- iately prior to the genuine Revival, devouring and destroying every good thing in the land. First comes this great army of lo- custs devouring everything, then God drives the locusts away and sends a great Revival, followed by a great outpouring of His Spir- it "upon all flesh". (If you don't believe me, just read the book of Joel for yourself. It is very clear. There can simply be no dispute about it). So why are we being told that joining up with Joel's Army is such a desirable thing? Another very significant dream was given to a local prophet (whom I know personally) several years ago (quite some months before the 'Toronto blessing' was even heard of here). In this dream, he found himself in a large auditorium full of people. Many of these people appeared spiritually 'fat' and overfed (including many of the leaders), while the rest seemed small in comparison. At the front of the auditorium he saw people FALLING DOWN LAUGHING AND CRYING, etc, and the words that were clearly spoken to him to des- cribe what he was seeing were: "LAODICEAN REVIVAL". He noticed that it was essentially the large, overfed looking people who were really becoming 'caught up' in this laughing, crying and falling, etc. In the dream, my friend was taken and seated with the small people. And as he watched, a great gulf began to appear between the large people (who were still caught up in their 'Laodicean re- vival') and the little people, who were being steadily drawn away from this scene until a yawning gulf had developed between the two groups. Suddenly a great tide of young people flooded in all ar- ound these little people, and they began to minister to them in the power of Jesus Christ. The prophet knew that this was the be- ginning of the true Revival. Glory to God! Notice in the above dream of the "TWO REVIVALS" that it was the 'Laodicean revival' that came first, followed after an interval by the genuine Revival. This dream is confirmed by the well-known prophetic allegory, "Escape from Christendom" (published by Morn- ing Star several years ago) which also contains two revivals - one counterfeit and one genuine. It also seems to fit in perfectly with the pattern found in the book of Joel. I have to say that I have been astonished that the American proph- etic movement has allowed itself to become so closely identified in the minds of many Christians around the world, with the 'Toron- to' movement. I myself put this down to the fact that their close association with the Vineyard clouded their judgement, and meant that they did not look at this movement as objectively or as analytically as they should have. Speaking personally, having wit- nessed the 'Toronto' manifestations for myself, and also as a Revival historian, I have to say that this movement surely has to be the most dubious that has arisen in the church for well over a century. Why on earth would the American prophetic movement allow itself to become so strongly identified with such a movement? The only explanation is their close association with the Vineyard. And so here we are, in the last days (the days of great deception amongst Christians, of seducing spirits and "lying signs and won- ders" in the church), with the most well-known prophetic movement in the world actually supporting a 'revival' that is surely one of the most suspect and dubious spiritual movements in history. Alarming, isn't it? Some time ago, God gave me a prophetic analogy from the story of the children of Israel in the wilderness. It is clear that the wilderness was a place of testing and trial for the Israelites be- fore they could enter into the promised land. God showed me that the twelve spies who went in to spy out the land were really just like prophets, who have been shown in the spirit what the Revival of tomorrow will be like - a land "flowing with milk and honey". However, in the end result, ONLY TWO of these spies (or prophets) - Joshua and Caleb - were truly uncompromising in their stand for truth and for God's promise. The other ten spies, even though they had been shown what was to come, simply did not possess the uncom- promising, immovable steadfastness that was necessary to inherit the promised land. Even though they were definitely true prophets (in the sense that they had truly 'spied out the land'), they preached an insipid, compromising word, and all who trusted in them perished in the wilderness. Joshua and Caleb, the "immovable" prophets (and their families) were the only ones from that entire generation who made it into the promised land. The rest all fell at the final hurdle - the last great 'test'. Their prophets had let both them, and God, down very badly. Like the children of Israel, I am convinced that today's church has been passing through it's own wilderness of testing in recent times (just before the 'promised land' of true Revival). And like the Israelites, I am convinced that only a "remnant" will eventu- ally make it through into the coming move of God. (This principle is all the way through Scripture). It will be a "Gideon's Army" (a remnant army), rather than a "Joel's Army" that will bring in the great last-days harvest. This is clearly what God has been speaking in the dreams and visions that we have discussed. And it seems obvious from the Scriptures also. I would just like to conclude this article by saying that it has not been my intention here at all, to 'attack' the American proph- etic movement, but rather to warn and plead with them, to at least consider the possibility that what I am saying is true. It is my belief that the U.S. prophetic movement is now in far greater danger than it is probably aware of, just like the many previous movements that have found themselves in a similar position down through history. Tragically, it has often been found doubly true of Revivals that: "The good becomes the enemy of the best". My great fear is that this may again prove to be the case this time. In closing, I would just like to urge all who are reading this to step back for a moment and take a good hard look at what is happ- ening around them. Please think twice before allying yourself in any way with "Joel's Army". Remember, Gideon's Army is WAITING for God to move, while Joel's Army is just about to march off to war. The choice between these two is an absolutely crucial one. For again, let me repeat what Jesus Himself said in the vision: "NO- ONE WHO HAS THEIR BROTHER'S BLOOD ON THEIR SWORD WILL BE USED TO BUILD MY HOUSE." Amen. ______________________ [Please note that it was never stated in the above article that I believed the U.S. prophetic movement to be officially joined with the Vineyard. I was merely making the point that there were strong ties generally between the Vineyard and the most well-known and widely recognized of the American prophetic movements. This is ab- solutely common knowledge, and even the most cursory look at the relationship between many prophetic ministries and the Vineyard in the U.S. will confirm what I am saying. -A.S.]
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