Neither love the world nor the things in the world. Whoever loves the world has not the Father's love in his heart, because everything in the world—the passions of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the proud display of life—have their origin not from the Father but from the world. And the world with its lust passes away, but he who does the will of God remains forever. Children, the final hour is here, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming…. - I John 2:15-18
The late 20th century release of prophetic spirit into the world has been perhaps the greatest spiritual marvel of our times. Prophecy is an amazing phenomenon for the way it bridges two worlds at the same time. The burden of the prophetic is to bring the things of heaven to bear on the earth, to enforce the authority of the eternal over the temporal with a view to transforming the earthly to become like the heavenly.
But with this burden comes a mandate. The mandate is this: before we can transform the earthly into the heavenly, we must first lose our love for the earthly. That is, we must lose our inherent natural affinities, attractions and desires for our surroundings—our families, our friends, our nations, yes, even our churches—the aromas and atmospheres of our cultures with their values, traditions and expectations.
This mandate is not easy to fulfill. It is in fact very painful. Yet, though it takes a lifetime to work out, we must come to a critical surrender to it before we can safely and responsibly bear the prophetic burden of transforming the earthly under the government of the heavenly.
The mandate to lose our love for the culture is the thrust of John's word "love not the world." Not to be confused with Jn. 3:16 where he refers to God's love for the world of lost souls, John distinguishes here between our love for the world of corporate flesh and the love of the Father. He differentiates between the essence of culture and the burden of those who execute the will of God. The two are not compatible. They are in fact hostile and irreconcilable.
If we wish to experience the true intimate love of the Father, to convey that love to the people of the earth and to prophetically speak the will of God into the earth, then, as John says here, we must first lose our love for our earthly culture.
A Burden Without the Mandate: the Culture Prophecy of Antichrist
If we attempt to execute the prophetic burden on earth's affairs without first losing our love for and identity in our culture, our spiritual gift and office becomes overpowered and subverted by our culture to reaffirm its own ways. The prophetic becomes a mouthpiece for the very powers behind culture which it has been dispensed to challenge and oppose. We become unable to discern between the loves of Jn. 3:16 and I Jn. 2:15. We are deceived into believing that God's love for men and our love of culture are the same thing—and their agendas as well.
Now, as prophets of the culture, or "culture prophets," we begin prophesying to the glory of our culture—our nations and our denominations, our government's policies and our society's passing fancies, our civic customs and our religious holidays—believing we are indeed prophesying the true mind of the Lord and the true love of the Father to the world. We think we are executing God's will to transform the earthly into the image of the heavenly, but are only debasing heaven, lowering God to the image of the earthly.
John immediately follows his admonition to lose our cultural love with a warning about antichrist. This is no accident. You see, this diverted prophetic energizing of the culture produced by our inability to distinguish between love of God and culture is in fact the essence of antichrist.
The antichrist spirit is not so much an independently false revelation from satan as it is a satanically hijacked parody of the true revelation of the Lord. It has all the look and feel of the real because it is stolen from the actual supply of the Holy Spirit in God's own people. Yet it is not real. This counterfeit subversion of the prophetic spirit can be avoided only as the prophetic soul is first purged of its love for the culture. In such a light, the importance of John's admonition can hardly be overstated.
The Traits of Culture Prophecy and Today's Prophetic Dynamic
The cultural prophetic bears certain fruits that can help alert us to its true spirit.
For one, it reinforces our bondage to the cares of this life rather than delivering us from them. It creates a prophetic tyranny of the urgent in context of a prophetic "rat race" that competes with our ability to rest in the Lord and to hear from him clearly.
Second, it is focused on information regarding times, seasons, and events to the neglect of perfecting inner relationship.
Thirdly, culture prophecy is centered on mortal life as an end. It shows little or no vision for taking us beyond the veil into our ultimate hope for an immortal, eternal existence.
Fourthly, the cultural prophetic proclaims man and his redemption, rather than the Son, as the center of God's eternal plan and purposes. Painting a romanticized attitude of God toward man, it is in essence humanistic.
The reason this discussion is necessary is that, if there is any clear imbalance in our contemporary prophetic movements, it is that we are operating as much or more as cultural reinforcers than true Kingdom establishers. Much of what is now being proffered as prophetic toward the world gives little evidence or testimony that it has submitted to the circumcision of love for the culture, or admits that this is even necessary.
We are confronted through conferences and e-lists with multitudes of words focused on temporal issues and powers—words that have no basis for testing nor clear target for application—words whose net effect after all is said and done is only to endear us and entangle us more deeply with our cultures. In so many ways we are coming no closer to true intimacy in the Lord, or one another, nor are we coming closer to realizing our eternal hope in immortality.
The prophetic is no longer the isolated revelation that stirs marvel for its scarcity and uniqueness. In its increase to and through so many, the prophetic has become a worldwide spiritual dynamic with a life of its own. If this dynamic is to truly bridge us to the eternal rather than delude us under the temporal, it must be tested by a standard greater than itself.
This testing must go beyond determining the perceivable "accuracy" of individual words. (It is simply not possible to test for fulfillment and embrace every word coming forth through every prophetic website and e-list, even were every one of them true.) Our testing must weigh the dynamic itself behind the words for its impact on our lives. We must test it for its fruits. Is the prevailing dynamic anchoring us more into the Lord and His eternal realities, or is this energy reinforcing our feverish devotion to the cares and values of the culture?
Though God has authored this worldwide prophetic release, he has not willed us to become blinded among the trees of prophecies and prophets to where we miss the larger forest of His true immutable eternal purposes and lose our personal anchor in His closeness. Nor has He willed the prophetic to become debased because of its near instantaneous untested proliferation throughout the world by and to so many people.
Yet where culture prophecy prevails and has subverted the dynamic, this is precisely what is happening. We see then that what God has released for our blessing can also destroy us. For this cause, testing the fruit of the overriding prophetic dynamic for subjection to the mandate of death to culture is imperative.
Immaturity, Testing and Harvest
Once we understand this issue of culture prophecy, our natural response is to seek the "true" prophetic movement and expose the "false" one—to find and uphold the prophets who have clearly died to the culture and to abandon those who have not.
Unfortunately the line for discerning this is not clear now. This is because the kingdom / culture prophetic conflict is one of wheat and tares strewn throughout the entire prophetic dynamic beginning within each one of us. We are all under testing for obedience to the death mandate, for submitting to purging from our own share of culturalism and being delivered of our own remaining mixture.
Some of today's romantic humanistic prophesying is by immature novices who operate in sincere ignorance and have not been clearly confronted with the death mandate. Other ministries have been confronted but continue prophesying this way in hidden stubbornness against the message, yet have not reached the point of no return. We just cannot tell yet.
Though lines appear to be getting clearer as culture prophesying persists, we must be careful about how we confront others. For even we who hate culture prophecy but judge prematurely and without grace can ourselves still be subverted thereby.
As a work in progress, the kingdom vs. culture prophetic conflict is drawing near to a critical harvest time mass. At that time, there will be a clear demarcation, as Malachi says, between those who serve the Lord and those who serve Him not. Those who have proven their burden through death to the culture will be manifested with an attesting immortal glory of the Lord.
But those prophets who have consistently refused to face their blindness and to mature their vision through culture death will finally align with the antichrist system. Hard as it is to believe, some of today's otherwise most respected popular prophetic voices will be found on the other side at that time. (So too will those whose opposition to culture prophecy is based in superficial or unhealed pride. The sword is double-edged.) Such a contemplation should strike fear in every heart.
A Time For Self-Examination
Against the day, then, when the Lord makes this separation clear, our prophetic examination must begin with the culture conflict in our own hearts. Before we can deal with culture prophecy in others, we must test ourselves. We who carry the inward prophetic burden must ask ourselves:
"Am I fulfilling the prophetic mandate? Have I covenanted with the Lord to lose my love for the culture? Am I anchored in the Father's true love? Am I anchored in the hope for immortality and the eternal realm? Do my prophecies concerning this world bear witness to this?
What of the effect of my prophecies on others? Do they challenge others to supreme commitment to the Lord and breakthrough into His rest and intimacy? Or do they enslave others to the issues of this life and deepen their devotions to the pride of cultures and all that represents?"
If we have not faced this issue before in our lives, now is the time to let the Lord deal with us about this. This is the hour of secret proving. May the Lord deliver us all from every mixture of culture prophecy in our hearts. Moreover, let us remain humbly vigilant. The antichrist spirit can arise at a moment's notice to subvert any of us. Those entrusted to minister to large audiences and/or to notably important persons in the world must be especially wary of this temptation.
Once we understand our own proneness to subterfuge in this area, we must then proceed to address it in others with a bold yet humble and redemptive forthrightness. As prophetic sheep, we must ask these same questions of those who purport to be bringing us the mind of the Lord for the lands we live in. If their words and dynamic bear the marks of the cross, let us hear them. If they do not, let us warn them with grace. And if they persist, let us turn from them.
Meeting the Challenge to Overcome
Both the call to the prophetic spirit and the risk of its diversion to support antichrist are inescapable realities presented to our generation. We can neither hide from the call because we fear the possibility of diversion, nor can we confidently believe that because our call to the prophetic is real, it is self-protecting and has no risk of subversion. We must then embrace the prophetic and the risk that comes with doing so. It is do or die, without the option to decline.
Surely, we are the most accountable generation since Christ that has ever lived. This article is written that you may face the risk of walking in the prophetic for what it is, and that, having faced the risk, you may overcome in your mission and may appear with the Lord's hosts at the end without shame.
And now, dear children, remain in Him so that when He appears we may have confidence and may not shrink in shame from him at His coming. 1 Jn. 3:28
Page created September 15, 2003
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