Comments Off on 2017 Revival Fires National Conference
Comments Off on The Artificial Shields by Dr. Mickey Carter
“And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah an Ammonitess. And Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel. And it came to pass in the fifth year of king Rehoboam, that Shishak king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: And he took away the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house; he even took away all: and he took away all the shields of gold which Solomon had made.” (I Kings 14:21-26)
You find in the tenth chapter there were 300 of these shields made of beaten gold, three pounds of gold per shield. When this king of Egypt comes up, he takes these. “And king Rehoboam made in their stead brazen shields, and committed them unto the hands of the chief of the guard, which kept the door of the king’s house. And it was so, when the king went into the house of the Lord, that the guard bare them, and brought them back into the guard chamber.” (I Kings 14:27-28) Notice the golden shields were taken, so King Rehoboam made some artificial shields out of brass. I want to speak to you about artificial shields.
The setting here is God’s judgment on sin in the nation of Judah. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, is on the throne. The real shields were taken and substitutes were made out of brass, certainly much cheaper than gold, just a thin brass veneer. These shields were turned over to the guards and the guards went on parade with them. When the king went out, they went out with the shields, just like before, but the difference was they were brass. They were fake — artificial — counterfeit, where the original shields had been of beaten gold. Something is symbolized here for all of us.
We live in an artificial age. The food we eat has a lot of artificial color in it. You say, “Sugar will kill you.” No, you’ll die quicker with the artificial stuff. That’s the way it is. Everything is artificial. A preacher friend was in one of these big restaurants. After you’ve eaten, they try to sell the dessert to you, make another profit off of you. They roll a cart up to the table with all these beautiful desserts on it. He reached out and said, “Okay, I’ll take the strawberry shortcake.” The waitress said, “No, no, this is the artificial stuff, what it looks like. We’ll go back and get you the real thing.”
It’s artificial. A lot of artificial stuff at Christmas time. I’m not much on Christmas trees, but if I’m going to be around one, I like to smell it. People buy fake, artificial ones and spray them with a pine scent. Come on. The thing is artificial!
Everywhere you look something is artificial. Go down to buy building supplies and you better watch it. “Boy, I got some real wood.” Don’t let it get wet. You’ll find out it’s sawdust glued together. Some of you ladies got some real hard-wood furniture, didn’t you? You’d better keep it out of the rain. You’ll find out it’s got a mixed up bottom in it somewhere where they glued it together. It’s everywhere you look.
Automobiles, that thing looks nice and sleek, but when it gets in a wreck you find out it wasn’t metal to start with, just plastic with a little fiberglass smeared over it here and there. We’re in an artificial age. Clothes used to be made out of something that had to die. Did you ever think about the connection? To give us a robe of righteousness, somebody had to die. You know that an animal had to die to give real clothes or a plant had to die, but now we’ve got synthetic fibers. Everything is artificial.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot of good, too. There are folks walking around with an artificial knee or hip. I think about the fella with a boat load of folks out fishing. This lady slipped and fell overboard. The fella reached over and tried to save her. He grabbed her arm, and the artificial arm came off. He grabbed her by the hair of the head to pull her in, and the wig came off. He grabbed a leg that popped up, and it was artificial. He hollered, “If you don’t show me some of the real you, I’ll never be able to save you.” We’re missing a lot of real you today. We’ve got everything artificial everywhere we turn.
You ladies are into it a little more than us men. You like house decorations and stuff. In my home there are pictures of people on the wall that I don’t even know. You’ve got ladies with big, old hats on. I’ve never seen them before. There are little girls holding a doll. I don’t know who she is. A little boy and girl in a swing together, decorations on the wall. I don’t think they were real people, but I don’t know. It sort of bothers me with all those eyes looking on me. You know what I’m talking about ladies. A lot of decorations and art, I guess it’s okay, but you’re wasting a lot of good wall space where you could have a stuffed fish or a deer head that really amounts to something on the wall.
Truthfully, don’t we know that we live in an artificial day? Artificial substitution for the real thing is the theme of our age. There are some sayings. You hear somebody say today, “Man, that’s pure gold.” That means there is some that’s not pure, it’s artificial. “All wool, a yard long,” I heard that growing up some. That means it’s not messed up. It’s not synthetic. That’s the real McCoy.
Man is good at putting veneer over something, faking it up. He’s good about making it artificial. We fellas that tinker with cars a little bit, we get so sick and tired of these artificial parts. You take something off. Maybe it’s not hurt until you take it off and then all the little plastic clips break off everywhere and you’ve got real problems because it’s all artificial everywhere you look. Our day is one of substitution for the real thing.
These shields symbolize our end-time society today. Over in II Timothy 3:1 it says, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” It describes in verse seven, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” We are in the learning age, but they’re missing the truth. They’ve had something artificial slipped in for the genuine. The shield is no longer gold. It’s brass. It’s a pretense. It’s just a replacement for the real thing.
In 1948 a fella by the name of George Orwell wrote what it would be like in 1984. Orwell’s 1984 talked about double speech. He talked about Big Brother having a camera on you all the time. Well he missed it by a little bit, but it was really coming in by ‘84. Now we’re past 2000 and we’ve got cameras on us and don’t even know about it. We’ve got everything going and now with the terrorism we’re moving into Big Brother society everywhere we look. The double speech, politically correct speaking, is what’s being accepted today to avoid or substitute for the truth. It takes the place just like these brazen shields took the place of the gold ones.
Today we’re supposed to avoid profiling. I’ve got news for you. If I get on the plane, I’m going to do some profiling. I’ll tell you something else. Sleeping on the plane is not going to be as easy as it used to be. Common sense dictates some things to us, but you see, it’s not politically correct. That fella who got on the plane with the hot tennis shoes, somebody said, “Don’t profile him.” Great day! He looked like Bin Laden’s brother. They ought to have been watching him. Get off this politically correct junk and get back to the truth. We’ve substituted brazen shields for the gold shields of God. Suddenly man has lost his common sense.
An artificial spirit is being accepted in American life, an artificial philosophy. That is a brazen shield. It’s the spirit of antichrist, anti-God that is prevailing in our country today. Burbank, California passed a law in one of the lower courts that people coming before the city council to lead in prayer, preachers they had invited, could not end their prayer “in Jesus’ name.” That’s an antichrist spirit. If you’ll follow all the other so-called “saviors or gods” then you’re antichrist, because He said that He was the only One.
Some school has taken down the picture of George Washington because it might offend somebody. When I went to school, we called him the “Father of our country.” We honored him as the first President and great general. I believe with all my heart, God had His hand on George Washington for America to get the beginning that it had, and here we are concerned that he might offend somebody? Take his picture down? What in the world has happened to America? We moved in the brazen shields to take the place of the real gold, and we’re seeing the results of it. Young people are growing up with not a clue of what’s right and wrong. Then we’re shocked when they do wrong.
Remember John Walker, who went over there to Afghanistan to fight against his own country? I’m against what he’s done. I think he ought to be dealt with over it, but there is a sense in which he’s a victim of a bunch of parents and teachers that never did point him to the truth to start with. We’ve got a whole pile of parents not doing the job God gave them. These bus workers go out from Landmark and knock on doors. We hear parents say, “I’ll let my kid decide.” How old is he? “Well, he’s six.” I hope you make him decide to brush his teeth and do a few other things hygiene wise around the house. You are going to make him go to school. You’re going to make him do some things that are right and safe.
Parents, you are charged in this Bible to raise up those children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. You better not do like those parents of John Walker bragged. “We just told him when he was a teenager to find his own way, choose his own god, choose his own religion.” No wonder the young man doesn’t know what’s right and what’s wrong. Whoever worked the hardest to be the influence and teaching in his life is who won him over. He wasn’t taught by the parents God gave him. It’s a ridiculous situation we’ve come to in this society, too much like Rehoboam’s kingdom. Rehoboam’s kingdom went off the gold standard. America went off the gold standard a long time ago. You, folks, don’t even know what I’m talking about. That money is supposed to be backed by gold, that plastic in your pocket. Some of you don’t use much else. Somebody sent me a credit card through the mail this week. I got my scissors out and cut it in half. You say, “Why?” Because I might be tempted to go out and buy something with it that I don’t need. We went off the gold standard a long time ago.
We’ve got fakes in everything you want to look at everywhere. The brazen shield has taken place of the gold. Not only is it true in our society, it’s true in our churches. We live in Revelation chapter three, the Laodicean church age, last church age, luke-warm, the one that makes God sick on His stomach. It’s amazing to me that they are fulfilling Revelation chapter three and don’t even know they’re doing it. Isn’t that amazing? My church is just as luke-warm as that one, into heresy, and I don’t even recognize it. Too much Hollywood stage performance in the house of God today. That performance doesn’t care how folks live outside the doors. Oprah and Dolly can get up and sing, “This little light of mine,” and nobody gets disturbed that Oprah can take a trip to Europe with an unmarried boyfriend or that Dolly was in the little whorehouse movie in Texas.
“Preacher, do you have to preach like that?” No, I could be a pussy-footin, nickel nipping, spineless, spaghetti type preacher, but I’m not going to be that kind. See, when you preach the Bible it just makes folks miserable and gets them all disturbed you know. I’ll tell you what. The old preachers used to be barn storming, shingle pulling, window rattling thundering out against sin. If the Book said it, they had the guts to say it, too. We need some more of that. Some of you, though, it’s easier for you to go find one of them than it is to change an old preacher like me. They’re easy to find. In fact they’re just about everywhere. I hate to say it, but you can go find your substitute.
You can get you a brass Bible instead of a gold one. They’re not hard to find. In fact, I read right here in the text where it said why God was punishing Judah, why He let the king of Egypt come down against him. I read in verse 24, “And there were also sodomites in the land:…” That’s what the Bible said. I didn’t write it, but that’s what I’ve read. Now if you’ve got an NIV, it didn’t say sodomites. If you’ve got a New International Version, the Non-Inspired Version, it didn’t say sodomite. It said, “male prostitute.” Big difference. Why in the world would they change it? Because there was a lesbian on the committee that helped get it printed. That’s why. The brass bibles change things. They water it down. They’re going to mess up the fourth man in the fire so you won’t know it was Jesus. They’re going to change Hell into hades. They’re going to soften it up so you can be comfortable with it. That’s the end-time Laodicean church with the brass bibles, messed up miracles. They take the virgin birth out. They have brazen music and pretend it’s God’s to draw a crowd, when its just worldliness. You know what that business results in. It results in a great big membership in the churches that is not regenerated.
An older preacher told me about the big church in his city, with 8500 on Sunday morning. He said, “I talked with the pastor and the staff. They admit that probably over half of that group is not even saved.” That’s sad, folks. Let me tell you something. They can draw a crowd for entertainment’s sake, but there is a difference in being regenerated by the Spirit of God. You say, “Preacher, but what about some of your members?” I think some are in the same boat. “What do you mean?” I mean if they weren’t, I wouldn’t have to pump so hard to get them here. They’d have a little more interest and hunger. There’s some who don’t care about the cause of Christ and don’t have their heart in it. There are a whole lot of folks that can join a church, but they never have joined the Heavenly church up there. There is a big difference in being saved and just being a church member. There is a big difference in being baptized and being saved. There is a big difference in taking the Lord’s supper and being saved. You’d better make sure you’re saved.
I’m going to try to get them there, and then preach the devil out of them. I’m not trying to make them feel comfortable just like they are if they are still lost. End-time church has the brass bibles and the brass song books or bouncing ball on the wall, or brass music. I don’t know about you, but I think God wants us to have something real. I want the real thing. I want to hear somebody sing a song that touches the heart, not just impresses with talent.
I know there are some inventions and things in the world, but when I go to buy an old claw hammer, I buy one with a wooden handle. “Why?” Because the first one I ever saw had a wooden handle in it. It was good enough for grandpa; it is good enough for me. I don’t need the plastic thing. I don’t like aluminum ball bats. When I was a kid we hollered, “Put the wood on it.” You don’t holler that no more.
Substitutes, brass instead of gold, and then we pretend there’s not been a change. I want the real Bible, the One God is using, the gold Bible that God gave us. I want that old AV 1611 that God has used and put His stamp of approval on. I want music that honors God, that’s Holy Spirit inspired. I want prayers that aren’t just for show or pretty words for a man to listen to. I want something that gets through to Heaven.
I want Christians that live like Christians, not just claim they’re Christian. They look like Christians and talk like Christians and smell like Christians and go to the places Christians go. That’s what this Book teaches. It teaches a level of holiness. It teaches, “Ye that name the name of Christ, depart from iniquity.” I didn’t write it. That’s what it says. God wouldn’t tell you to depart from iniquity if you couldn’t. You want to do God’s will? God’s Spirit will help you do God’s will. You want to clean up your life as a Christian? God’s Spirit will help you clean up your life as a Christian. Yes, that’s right. I want the real thing, and I believe God does, too.
These fake shields symbolize, not only our end-time society and our luke-warm church age today, but the end-time artificial Gospel is pictured for us here. Do you know what Paul said in Galatians 1:8? He said, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” We’re in the day of substituting brass gospels for the real thing. Sinner, beware. There are a lot of folks out there trying to trick you. I mean beware. They say, “All roads lead to Heaven.” Don’t kid yourself. They don’t. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) Jesus said, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Don’t be mixed up. The devil is trying to get you to think every religious way, “Follow Buddha. Follow Muhammad.” Follow them if you want to, but they’re not going to the place that Jesus prepared for us. He’s the Way. He’s the only Way. People have got some funny ideas, some funny counterfeits, some brass counterfeits today. You can name a lot of them. “Just be good. Do your best.” The Bible says that there is none good, none righteous, no not one. “Well, I’ll just be sincere.” You can be sincerely wrong.
My wife and I were coming back from a preacher’s meeting several years ago in North Carolina. A beautiful day, I found a beautiful road that didn’t have much traffic on it. I found out later why. It wasn’t going anywhere. I discovered it before she did and I went several miles trying to figure out how I could get out of it without her knowing. It was the wrong way. I was just as sincere when I got on that road as I could be, but I was sincerely going the wrong way.
There are a whole lot of folks that are sincere and going the wrong way. When you get to the gates of pearl, God’s not going to ask you if you were sincere. Ye must be born again. You go in God’s way or you don’t go at all. He prepared a way at great cost. He gave His only begotten Son, Who shed His blood on the cross of Calvary for our sin. God went through that to make a way, and He’s not going to let you just make your own way. It’s His way or no way.
The sad truth is a lot of folks have got brass shields. They’re missing the gold, and they don’t know it. “Well, Preacher, I think the religious ceremony…” It’s amazing to me how folks think that all they’ve got to do is get in the church and the church is going to Heaven, so if I’m in the church I’ll make it. No, it’s personal. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12) Personal, not what Momma is or Daddy. Your daddy can be a deacon or preacher. You’ve still got to be saved just like that old sinner sleeping under the bridge. You’ve got to be saved the same way — through Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “…Ye must be born again.” Who was He speaking to? A religious Jew, who had all the ceremonies and all the rules, all the fastings and all the offerings. Jesus told him it wasn’t enough. “…Ye must be born again.” No matter how many churches you belong to, how many times you’ve been baptized, how many times you’ve taken the Lord’s supper or whatever you call it, you must be born again to go to Heaven. You’re not going to get there any other way.
“Preacher, how do I do it?” When you turn from your way, whatever it is, being good, church membership, your good works, you name them, when you turn and repent from your way and turn to His way, trust Christ and Him alone, what He did when He died for you on the cross of Calvary and shed His blood, you trust Him. You’ll experience the new birth. You’ll become a new creature in Christ. You’ll know it because God’s Spirit will take abode in your heart, and He’ll never let you alone when you become His child.
I’ll be straightforward with you today. If you have no spiritual desire, if you’re in church today because you had to come. You have no interest. You have no love, no care, no desire for the things of God. You ought to check up. You may not be born again. Because the person that’s born again has the Spirit of God that lives inside and says, “Amen” to such singing as we’ve heard today. When they were singing about what I traded in for a mansion in Heaven, the Spirit of God was enjoying that inside of me. How about you? That’s what I’m talking about — something real, not brass, but gold, real on the inside. Jesus said, “…Ye must be born again.” You can fake it down here in front of a lot of people. You can learn the church words and the church songs. You can go with the crowd down here and pass off for one of the crowd, but when you get to Heaven’s gate, you won’t go in with a crowd unless you have Jesus. No crowd to hide in there.
There is a story given in Matthew 22, where the king makes a feast. He invites all to come and some don’t, and when they do the king comes in and finds a guest there without a wedding garment. He said, “Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?” Here is what is behind the story. The wedding garment was free. All you had to do was take it, but he came in with his own clothing. The Scripture says that he was cast into outer darkness where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth. You see, there won’t be any brass robes getting in Heaven’s gate. They’ve got to be the real gold. They’ve got to be the gold of the Lord Jesus Christ, purchased by His shed blood, a royal robe that only He can give you. He does offer that robe of righteousness to you and it’s salvation free. It’s a robe of righteousness that the Lord bought and purchased and paid for. He offers it to every one of you, and it’s the only apparel that’s going to get you in the gate of glory. It’s that robe. No artificial robes are going to pass the inspection. It’s going to have to be the genuine, the blood bought robe of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you have it today? Do you have on such a wedding garment? Do you have the genuine article for the Lord, not the artificial, not the brass, but the gold of His righteousness?
I challenge you today in this artificial age, don’t be duped. Don’t be fooled. Make sure you’ve been born again by trusting God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. We give an invitation authorized by the Word of God. Jesus said, “Whosoever will, Come unto Me, and I’ll not cast him out.” He’ll receive you today. He has a royal robe. It’s the genuine salvation and He offers it to you. Whatever artificial thing you’re wearing today, you need to throw it away and receive the robe of righteousness, the gift of God’s salvation, in receiving Christ and experiencing the new birth. I pray you will.
Comments Off on The Inspiration and Preservation of the King James Bible
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Timothy 3:15 -16)
There are several things in the text that we will highlight by way of introduction to the subject of “The Inspiration and Preservation of the King James Bible.”
First of all, the Holy Scriptures mentioned in verse 15 were not the Originals but rather copies of copies of copies, and they were still able to make Timothy ‘wise unto salvation’ by producing faith in Christ.
Then in verse 16 it’s important to note that ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The word ‘inspiration’ has to do with God not only breathing the words, but breathing His Spirit and His Life into the words, as clarified by the Lord Jesus in John 6:63 where He declared that “… the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”
It is also important to note that in verse 15 the Scriptures are called ‘holy,’ which implies something that is set apart by God and to God, which makes them unique, one-of-a-kind, and complete. What is holy is not to be touched or tampered with by man. When Uzzah touched the ark of God, he died because it was holy, and because he had overstepped his bounds. His good intentions were no excuse.
To tamper with the Holy Scriptures is to overstep one’s bounds and tread dangerous ground, as is indicated in Revelation 22:18-19. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Although the primary application of these verses is the book of Revelation, the whole Bible is holy and God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will judge those who tamper with any portion of the Holy Scriptures.
When God speaks of the Scriptures, it not only makes reference to the body of Scripture as a whole, or even to the words only. According to the Lord Jesus, it also deals with the letters. In Matthew chapter 5 verse 18, we read, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” A jot was the smallest Hebrew letter, and the tittle was the smallest projection on a letter.
It’s important to note that when Jesus made this statement, He was not referring to the Originals, but rather to copies, and His promise was that it would remain intact until Heaven and earth pass. Since Heaven and earth have not yet passed, I must assume that there is still an inspired, preserved Bible with every jot and tittle, or I must assume that Jesus lied. When we carry this concept over to the English Bible, it implies that He will preserve it in such a way so that not even a dot on an ‘i’ or a cross on a ‘t’ is missing.
Another important truth found in our text is the fact that this inspired Bible has a purpose. “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (II Timothy 3:17) Without the inspired Bible this purpose cannot be fulfilled, and the original reason for inspiration is defeated. Therefore, since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, if it is Scripture, it is inspired. If it is not inspired, it is not Scripture. Do we have Scripture or not?
There are those who discount the supernatural oversight of God, and tell us that 3% to 5% was lost during translation. If this were true, how would I know that the error is not in John 3:16 or Romans 10:13, verses on which my salvation rests?
Why bother to preserve what has already been corrupted? I often preserve deer meat by canning it. A few years ago I had meat stored in a refrigerator. The refrigerator quit working, and by the time I realized it, some of the meat had already spoiled. I did not bother to can any of it because I didn’t know what was spoiled and what was not. I didn’t trust any of it. And after listening to some preachers, I understand why some people don’t trust any of the Bible. They throw the whole thing out like I did with the spoiled meat. In this manuscript I am not going to talk about the translators, but rather the promises of God Who cannot lie and cannot change. Let God be true and every man a liar.
In Matthew 4:4 God says that, “…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” If God requires me to live by every word, and He is a just God, would it be logical for me to assume that He made sure that I had all of the words? Anything less than that would be injustice on His part, because He is demanding that I live by what I don’t have, and He is the only one Who could have provided it.
It is important to note that when God speaks of inspiration, He is not implying that a man was inspired, and gave his inspired opinion, but rather that God spoke through that man and saw to it that what He dictated was accurately recorded and alive.
In Psalm 45:1 the Psalmist said, “…my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” The implication here is that God is the Ready Writer and He is using the tongue of the Psalmist. The following illustration adds insight, but does not completely explain the inspiration of Scripture. For instance, if I dictate a letter to my secretary word-for-word and she types it exactly as it was dictated, the final draft is not the work of an inspired secretary, but it is the breath, the wording, and the spirit of the one dictating it. It also carries the authority of the one who breathed it. There is a vast difference between a mere invitation and a court order or a summons to appear. The first is a request, but the second is a demand with all of the authority of the judge who issued it.
To question inspiration is to question the Authorship and the Authority, as well as the spirit and life of the Scriptures. Let me again emphasize that Acts 17:11 tells us that the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily, and they did not have the Originals. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily whether those things were so.” They were looking at copies, and those copies are referred to as Scripture. Only what is inspired is Scripture.
In II Peter 1:16-21, Peter declared that the scriptures were a more sure word of prophecy than an eye-witness account or hearing the voice of God directly. “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Peter declares that the prophecy of Scripture is more sure than what he saw as any eye-witness and what he heard with his ears. How can this be? I have seen Gospel magicians do things with my own eyes, but it was an illusion. My eyes deceived me. I have heard things with my own ears and misunderstood what was said. But the prophecy of Scripture is inspired by God, and preserved by God, and more sure than my sight or my hearing.
To question inspiration is blasphemous, and those who do so do it in the name of education. It is important to remember that ‘higher education’ has never been the friend of true Christianity, primarily because of the principle found in I Corinthians 8:1 where it says, “…Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” To be ‘puffed up’ is to be filled with pride, and pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)
In reality, to question inspiration is an expression of intellectual arrogance rather than education. Those who do so have been corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ, and have begun to scrutinize the Infallible Book on the basis of information found in fallible books that are definitely not inspired, such as lexicons, dictionaries, and history books.
To do so is as foolish as trying to find the exact dimensions of an object while using an inaccurate ruler. Suppose I had a yardstick that was only 28 inches long instead of 36 inches, and I was measuring something that had already been measured by a perfect yardstick, and after I measure it by my imperfect standard, I then question its perfection, because I did not come up with the same number of yards.
These folks scoff at those of us who are simple enough to operate by faith. Faith is dependency upon God and expectancy from God to the point that the Word of God is enough. Those of us who walk by faith and not by sight believe that if God can keep the soul of a sinner saved, He can keep His Book intact, including the inspiration, which is the life of the Book. Because of the simplicity of our faith, they call us ‘ignorant and unlearned men,’ but fail to acknowledge that we have been with Jesus. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13) Who was it that had the truth, these called unlearned and ignorant men, or the doctors of the law with all of their education?
Faith is simple, but not blind. It is based on Biblical principle. Higher education complicates simple matters, and to complicate what God made simple is a form of corruption and will lead to utter apostasy in time.
In Psalm 138:2, it says, “…for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” If God’s Word is no good, then His name is no good, therefore He has elevated His Word above His name.
In Exodus 20:7 we are warned, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” My question is this: If God will not hold them guiltless who take His name in vain, and He has elevated His Word above His name, can those who question the inspiration and preservation of His Word be found guiltless?
To cast doubt on the Word of God is to destroy the foundations. This is exactly what the lawyers were guilty of in Luke 11:52, where Jesus said, “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge; ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” The key of knowledge is an inspired, preserved Bible that can be trusted. First John 5:13 is proof of this statement. “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” The Scriptures that have been written are how I know that I have eternal life. They are the key to this knowledge. Since people enter by faith, you hinder them by raising doubts.
The Scriptures are the foundation of my faith. Romans 10:17 says, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” They are also the foundation of my salvation. In the parable of the sower in Matthew 13, Jesus talks about the seed being sown. In verse 19, when giving the explanation of the parable to His disciples, He tied the seed and the Word of the kingdom together, and made them understand that, to sow the seed is to communicate the Gospel which produces various responses, one of which is the salvation of the soul.
The Scriptures are also the foundation of my moral values, my ethics, my religious practice, my doctrine, and my hope. To cast doubt on the King James Bible is like building a house on a firm foundation and then, after completion, taking a jackhammer and beginning to chip away at the very foundation your house rests upon.
In Psalm 11:3 the danger of the foundations being destroyed is pointed out. The verse says, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” It’s important to note that the word ‘foundations’ is a plural word, which implies there is more than one. According to I Corinthians 3:11, Jesus is the foundation of salvation. But the Scriptures are the foundation on which we build our lives.
If the foundations be destroyed, the righteous will be swept away, as was the foolish man who built his life upon the sand in Matthew 7:24-27. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
This is happening before our eyes as the old-time religion is being swept away and replaced with contemporary religion, as Bible standards are being swept away and replaced with worldliness. Soulwinning is being swept away and replaced by marketing. Biblical marriage is being swept away and replaced by immorality and sodomy. These things are happening as a result of the foundation of the Word of God being removed from society and now from our churches, or at least being questioned by some of our preachers.
Through the ages there have been a number of theological battles over the authority of the Scriptures. Several years ago the Southern Baptists battled over inspiration. The most liberal group did not believe that there ever was an inspired Bible, and the most conservative group of them believed that there was an inspired Bible in the Originals, but none of them believed that one presently existed.
My question is: What good is inspiration without preservation? Who cares if there ever was an inspired Bible if we don’t have it today? The whole point of inspiration is defeated without God supernaturally preserving the Book.
During the same time period that the Southern Baptists were battling over inspiration, independent fundamental Baptists were arguing over preservation. In other words, which English Bible is the inspired, preserved, every-word Bible that God promised would exist until the world passed away? It can’t be the Originals, because they do not exist. It can’t be every Bible, because they do not agree. As my good friend, Dr. Mickey Carter pointed out, “Things that are different are not the same.”
There was a battle, and somewhat of a split in our ranks over this issue, and Bible believers concluded that the King James Bible is the very inspired, preserved Word of God. Some are now calling that battle “The King James Controversy” and condemning those who fought the battle for the foundation of our faith, implying that they hindered the growth of our churches by their stand. Let me remind you that in Nehemiah’s day, they had a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other. They were building and battling.
After these accusations were made, I asked many Bible-believing preachers this question. “How many people have you lost because you believe that the King James Bible is the inspired, preserved Word of God?” Most of them told me they could not remember losing anyone over that issue. Then I asked them, “How many have you lost over standards?” They all said, “Too many to count!” My point is this: If you are not willing to take a stand and make waves over inspiration, you certainly can’t justify losing ten times as many people over standards. The next thing to go will be standards. If you won’t fight for the foundations of faith, you certainly won’t fight for the garnishings of faith. By garnishings I’m not minimizing the importance of standards of separation, but implying that it has to do with the outward expression of our faith, which testifies to a lost and dying world. This ‘growth at all cost’ mentality is dangerously close to that of Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. I am to ‘contend for the faith’ once delivered and forever preserved.
As we already learned in Matthew 4:4 and 5:18, somewhere there must be an every word and every jot and tittle Bible. If it is not in the King James Bible, where is it? Put a copy in my hand. Even common sense would lead one to believe that the King James Bible is the Scripture spoken of by Jesus and Paul, since every great revival that the English-speaking world has ever experienced was in conjunction with the use of a King James Bible. There has been no NIV revival, no ASV revival, no Living Bible revival, no Revised Standard Version revival, no Good News for Modern Man revival, but rather since the Bible-a-month club has started, apostasy has become more rampant both in society and in our churches.
Recently a new theological discussion has surfaced. It is based on the false idea that the King James Bible is preserved but it is not inspired. My question is very simple. If we begin with something inspired, and we preserve it, how do we lose inspiration in the process of preservation? This is theological double-talk. Furthermore, it is important to note that both inspiration and preservation are supernatural acts of God. Everyone involved in this debate believes that the Bible was inspired by God in the Originals, but some believe that inspiration was lost in translation.
My good friend, Dr. Rick Sowell, asked a very probing question while preaching out of Jeremiah 36. The question was this: Where does inspiration end? Does it end when God speaks to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 36:2? Or does it end with Jeremiah repeating it verbatim to Baruch in Jeremiah 36:4? Or does it end with Baruch writing it in Jeremiah 36:4? Or does it continue to the second manuscript that Jeremiah dictated at the command of God after the king had cut the first manuscript and cast it into the fire in Jeremiah 36:32? Verse 32 declares that the second roll had all the words of the first roll that the king had thrown into the fire, and there were added many like words.
Brother Sowell made the statement that, “Inspiration is more of a process than a singular act.” I tend to agree because both inspiration and preservation are the work of God and do not depend on the translating ability of man. And if God did not supernaturally preserve His Word and it’s life, there would have been no point in Him breathing it or inspiring it to start with. Regardless of whether it is a process singular in nature or two separate supernatural acts, the outcome is the same. We have the inspired, preserved Word of God.
Please pay close attention to the wording of Jeremiah 36:32, where it says, “Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.” I want to remind you that Jeremiah was not copying from the Originals which had been burned in the fire, and it does not tell us that God spoke the words a second time to Jeremiah, but rather that Jeremiah once again spoke the words and Baruch penned them. It certainly was not of Jeremiah alone that ‘all the words’ that had been in the first roll were in the second. God both inspired it and preserved it, and used Jeremiah as the instrument or tool to accomplish it.
Remember that II Timothy 3:16 declares that all scripture is given by inspiration of God. Inspiration is not only to breathe the words, but to infuse them with life. The breath of God is equivalent to the Spirit of God, according to John 20:22, where it says, “…he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”
The breath of God is the breath of life. This is clearly pointed out in Genesis 2:7 where it says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Let me point out a couple of things. First of all, God formed man, and I am certain that if he formed man, it was a perfect form. But there was no life in that form until God breathed life into it. The breath of God is the breath of life. Whatever He breathes into has life. If you take the breath away from man he dies, according to Psalm 104:29 which says, “…thou takest away their breath; they die…”
It is equally true that if you take the breath or the inspiration out of the Scriptures, it is a dead book. If our Bible is not inspired, then it is equivalent to an embalmed Bible. The form is still there, but the life is gone. Second Timothy 3:5 speaks of those who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof. To have a preserved Bible and deny its inspiration is to have the form or the shell of the Bible, but to deny the power thereof. A sea shell is the outward form of a sea creature, but the life is gone. Adam, when formed, had all of his fingers and toes, but without the spirit being breathed into him, he was lifeless.
I don’t need an embalmed Bible. I need one that is alive, as well as complete. If I go to the hospital, I want them to preserve more than my form. The mortician can do that. I want them to preserve my life. God promised to preserve an inspired Bible. As already stated, the Lord Jesus declared, “… the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63) which means that they were inspired.
When God breathed into Adam the breath of life, he became a living soul. Is that soul still alive? Absolutely! For those of you who might argue that Adam was the ‘original’ human being and God breathed life directly into him only, I agree that only Adam and Eve were formed by direct creation. Since I am not the original, God did not breathe life into me by direct creation. However, I too am a living soul. That same life that was breathed into Adam directly has been transmitted from one generation to another for over 6,000 years by way of reproduction, not by way of direct creation. I am a descendent and a copy of Adam, over 6,000 years removed from his direct creation, and yet I have the same spirit of life in me that God breathed into Adam.
My point is this: God did not need to re-inspire the translators. He breathed the Originals and breathed His spirit and life into them, and He has seen to it that the life is carried on to every generation by way of reproduction, not re-inspiration. So if I have a preserved copy of the Bible, I also have an inspired copy of the Bible, because it is impossible to start with something inspired and to preserve it, without it continuing to be inspired. A little later in this manuscript I will define preservation which will make this statement abundantly clear.
The fact that God breathed the Bible is clearly stated in the Bible itself. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” (Hebrews 1:1-2) “As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:” (Luke 1:70) “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (II Peter 1:21) In each of these passages the declaration is made that ‘God spake’ or moved them to speak through them. The words of the Bible are God’s words.
God is a Spirit, (John 4:24). His words are spirit, (John 6:63). And according to I Corinthians 2:13-14, the Bible is a spiritual Book written in a language that the natural man, who is spiritually dead, cannot discern. “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Corinthians 2:13-14)
According to Ephesians 2:1, before we were born of the Spirit and infused with Spirit-life, we were described as ‘dead in trespasses and sins.’ We were physically alive, but spiritually dead. This is the condition of the ‘natural man’ mentioned in I Corinthians 2:14.
The King James Bible is both a spiritual Book and a living Book, and I might add, it is the only such Book in English in the universe. This is why the natural man, who is dead spiritually, cannot discern its contents. In Job 32:8 he declares, “But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” This spirit was put into man by the inspiration of the Almighty and is taught by the same breath of inspiration, now contained in the Scriptures.. To understand the Book, I must have the same breath of life in me that the Bible has in it. Otherwise, I cannot get on the same wavelength. The words are spirit, and therefore spiritual. To those who are dead spiritually there can be no communion nor witness with the spirit or spiritual, thus the statement, “…neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” It is not possible for the lost man to know them.
This is also declared in Romans 8:16 where it says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” It is not mere accuracy that makes the Bible undiscernible to the lost man, but its inspiration — its Spirit-life. To read the inspired words of God as a lost man is like someone trying to understand a book written in Chinese when they can only read English, or like a dead man trying to communicate with the living.
If the Bible is not the very Word of God, then it cannot be a good Book, because it would be filled with lies. Four hundred thirteen times we find the expression, “Thus saith the Lord.” Two hundred thirty-five times the Bible describes itself as “the Word of the Lord.” Forty-eight times it describes itself as “the Word of God.” Eight times, speaking of its contents, it says, “the Spirit saith.”
Inspiration is what sets the Bible apart from all other religious books, such as the Koran or the Book of Mormon. A preserved Koran has no life in it, even if it is a perfect copy of the original, because there was no inspiration of God in it to start with. If you take the inspiration out of the Bible and have a perfect copy of the words, you have reduced it to just another religious book, rather than ‘the power of God unto salvation.’
In Hebrews 4:12 it says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” In this verse there are attributed to the Bible certain qualities that could only be attributed to something or someone that is alive.
First it says that the Word of God is quick. The very word ‘quick’ speaks of life. The ink and paper cannot be alive, but God has infused the words with His breath, and made them spirit. If the King James Bible is not alive, it is not the Word of God, because the Word of God is quick, or alive.
In I Peter 1:23 it says, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” Both the Lord Jesus and the Bible are called the Word of God, and both live forever and abide forever. If the Lord Jesus had died at Calvary and never risen, He would have no power to save, because only what has life has power. It is equally true that if we have a Book that is perfect in content, but has lost its inspiration and life in translation, it has no power to produce life. Only what is alive can beget life.
Not only is the Word of God declared to be quick, but to be powerful. Power speaks of authority, and the wise man taught us that ‘where the word of the king is, there is power.’ Power also speaks of ability to perform. In II Timothy 3:15 we learned that the scriptures are ‘able’ to make thee wise unto salvation. In Romans 1:16 we learn that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
Also attributed to the Word of God is the ability to pierce by way of conviction, to divide by establishing a holy standard, and to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. Discernment has to do with probing and searching, which could only be done by a living Book. And the life of the Book is its inspiration. God’s Word is alive and has power to produce life, as is indicated in Genesis 1:24 which says, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind… and it was so.”
My question is, “Do we have a copy of the Word of God which is alive and powerful in the King James Bible?” If not, show me where to get a copy, since God promised that it would both live and abide forever. I do not believe in what some would call ‘dual inspiration’, but I do believe in divine preservation, as it is promised in Scripture. Psalm 100:6 says, “…his truth endureth to all generations.” This would imply that no generation is skipped over or left out.
Psalm 12:6-7 declares that, “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.” Please note that in verse seven it is declared that God would preserve His words from that generation for ever. It is God’s job to preserve His Word, in spite of man. Do you think He is up to the task? If God cannot keep or preserve His own words, how can He keep the soul of a saved sinner such as you or me, as He promised to do in I Peter 1:5, where it declares that we are ‘kept by the power of God’. This is apart from any human work, and the preservation of the Bible is apart from any human work. Let me remind you that the things which are impossible with men are possible with God. (Luke 18:27)
Question #1 If God could inspire His Word through one man, could He preserve it through another, or in another language? Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” Would that include King James, who authorized the translation? Would it also include the translators?
Question #2 If God could overrule in the affairs of Joseph concerning his brothers’ evil intentions toward him and turn their evil intentions into something good as He did in Genesis 50:20, could He also overrule in the good intentions of these fallible translators? Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”
Let me remind you that God has always used fallible man to achieve His infallible goals. Much of the Bible was originally penned by three murderers: Moses, who killed and Egyptian and buried him, David who killed Uriah, and Saul of Tarsus, who gave consent to the stoning of Stephen. All of these men were forgiven and cleansed before they were used, but my point is this: It was originally inspired through these frail, fallible human beings, and everyone involved in the debate believes that. Does God have any less power to preserve than He had to inspire? Is preservation any more dependent upon man than inspiration was?
Question #3 If God could see to it that all the words were re-written by Jeremiah that had been written in the previous scroll destroyed by Jehoiakim, could He oversee the translation of an existing document? Jeremiah 36:28 “Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned.”
I believe that God preserved all the words. (Matthew 4:4) I also believe that He preserved the inspiration, which is the spirit and life of the words. As already stated, anything less than this would be the equivalent of an embalmed Bible. A corpse has all the body parts, but the breath and life is gone. It has no power to pierce, to divide, to discern, nor to save.
Remember, everybody involved in the discussion believes that we started with something inspired in its original form. If we preserve what is inspired, how can we possibly lose inspiration in the process of preservation?
Let me define the word ‘preservation’ from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. It means a) to keep or save from injury, decay, or destruction. b) to uphold or sustain c) to keep in a sound state, d) to defend from corruption and to make last e) to prevent what is preserved from changing. If we begin with something that is inspired and keep it from decay, sustain it, keep it in a sound state, defend it from corruption, make it last, and prevent it from changing, is it still inspired?
If I preserve peaches by canning them, after they are preserved, are they still peaches, or have they now become generic fruit? We do not need a good translation. Nor do we need the best translation. We need the inspired, preserved Word of God that was promised to us by God Himself. Because preservation without inspiration is equivalent to no inspiration to start with.
It is inspiration that gives the Bible life. (Hebrews 4:12) It is inspiration that gives it power. (II Timothy 3:5) It is inspiration that makes it holy. (II Timothy 3:15) It is inspiration which makes it able. (II Timothy 3:15) It is inspiration that makes it Scripture. (II Timothy 3:16) It is inspiration that guarantees its authenticity as the Word of God. To question inspiration is to question the Source and authenticity of the document, as well as to remove any force and power that it had in its origin. We have an inspired and preserved King James Bible. It is perfect, it is complete, and it is alive. It has as much life and as much force to transform the lives of people as it had in its original form.
Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the black race from slavery, was destroyed in the Chicago fire. When the Originals were destroyed, and only exact copies remained, did the power and force of the document disappear and the black race get plunged back into slavery? Absolutely not!
The fact that we do not have the Original Autographs does not reduce or eliminate the breath and power of the Word of God. There are those today who speak of re-writing the King James Bible. Several years ago they put out a New King James in an attempt to improve what was already perfect. It was a disaster, as you might imagine.
I like what was said in an article in the Wall Street Journal, which I’m sure you’re aware is not a Christian newspaper. The writer of the article said, “To try to re-write the King James Bible would be like turning an amateur watchmaker loose on Big Ben.” Amen!
Comments Off on “Having a Fruitful Life” by Bobby Roberson
I want to talk to you tonight on this thought: “How We Can Have a Fruitful Life.” Now first of all, I wanted to go to John 15 and see what Jesus said about fruit. You’ve got your Bible open there to John 15.
By the way, before I forget that, one more thing. Frank mentioned tonight about the lady being our oldest member, Granny Anderson. Remember Granny. She’s such a blessing to us. She’s over at Radford West, I believe. Been there sometime. She’s 97 today. I’m going to take her a flower. I can hear her now. “I brought you a flower.”
“I can’t eat that thing, preacher. Give me something to eat.”
So, I may take her something like that. We’ll have a time. Granny’s a blessing. You know she’d always sit right in here. Today is her 97th Birthday. I meant to mention that.
Now notice what Jesus said. He said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it,” He has to trim it up. He has to trim us up, doesn’t He? A whole lot. “…that it may bring forth more fruit.” If you’ll notice, I’m not going to read all of these verses, He’s talking about bringing forth “more fruit.”
Then you come on down in verse number 5, and notice what He said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches,” and if we abide in Him, in the vine, He said, “…and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.”
If you’ll notice, He talks about “more fruit.” He talks about “much fruit.” Then you come on down to, let me see, there was one more verse that I wanted to mention where He said about the fruit. Let’s look at verse, let’s see, verse number 7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” If you’re bearing fruit.
Now we need to be fruit bearers. Fruit bearers. Now you think about it today. Let’s say you’ve got two apple trees out here, and that one is just standing there. It’s an apple tree. Here’s one that’s got apples on it. This one never has apples. What’s it good for? Well, Christian, listen. You and I are saved to bear fruit for Jesus Christ, and we need to remember that.
I think one of the greatest men in the Bible is Joseph. I think about him, and he was a fruit bearer. Now I’m going to read, in a minute, in the 39th chapter, but I want you to turn to Genesis 39. Now you hold your Bible open right there a minute. Now somebody here may not understand this, all right?
Now Jacob was the daddy. Remember Jacob and Esau, and their daddy was Isaac. Now Jacob, he had twelve sons. You know the twelve tribes of Israel came from him. Okay, now listen. Jacob’s boys were out yonder in the field working. Joseph, his younger boy, he said, “I want you to go see how your brothers are doing.” So, he went out there, and his brothers were jealous of him. Jealousy is an awful sin. His daddy made him a little coat and the other boys didn’t have a coat like him. That made one thing. Then God had given him a gift of dreams. Now listen, back in those days, God spoke through visions and dreams but now He speaks to us through His Word and the third person of the Holy Spirit. Okay.
Now we see, here, Joseph. And he’s obeying his daddy. And he goes out yonder and meets his brothers. His brothers said, “Yonder he comes, yonder he comes.” And he’s going to see how they’re doing. He’s obeying the LORD. Now many times, you and I will do our best to obey the Lord, and then we have troubles that we can’t understand. So his brothers said, “Yonder he comes.” Some of them wanted to kill him and the other said, “Well, no, let’s don’t do that. Let’s put him down in that dungeon.” So they did. They took his coat, the beautiful coat, and they killed an animal, dipped it in blood and said that we’ll tell daddy that we found his coat and that probably an animal killed him. The blood’s on it. Okay.
So, there they’ve got him and here comes some Ishmeelites and they were Egypt, now from Israel. They were going to Egypt. So they come by. So the boys got to talking. They said, “I tell you, let’s just sell him and get some money out of him.” So they brought him out and they sold him for about 20 pieces of silver. So they took him down into Egypt. He gets down there in Egypt and, of course, Pharaoh was the king. Pharaoh’s chief man, so to speak, his captain was named Potiphar.
So, he put him in Potiphar’s house, and he’s in there obeying what he’s supposed to. Potiphar tells him, there’s others working too, and Potiphar’s telling him what to do and so on. So one day his wife, Potiphar’s wife, he wasn’t there, and she grabbed Joseph and said, “Commit adultery with me.” And he jerked loose and said, “No! I cannot sin against God like this.” He said, “Your husband has made me authority over everything here except you. You’re his wife and that’s not right.” So then as he had to go in, day after day, and she grabbed at him one day and he ran and she got his coat. He ran out without his coat. Okay.
Now when her husband came home, then she tells him a lie. She said, “This here Jew that you hired has tried to commit adultery with me and I screamed and so-on and he ran and here’s his coat. All right, now wait a minute. The boss gets him and puts him in prison, and this is amazing. I was reading this this afternoon. Look at this 39th chapter, right here, just the first two verses. Notice now what it says, “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither.” And this is amazing, right here. Now this man is honest, straight, and he’s been sold as a slave, but look at that next verse, “And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man;…” (Genesis 39:1, 2)
Do you know I’ve read that many times? I was reading it this afternoon, “He was a prosperous man.” That’s hard for me and you to understand isn’t it? Now here’s a man trying to do right. Here’s a man that’s been lied on. Here’s a man that everything…I mean, they sold him, he’s a slave, and yet the Bible said that he was a prosperous man. He was a prosperous man.
Do you know? If you and I are where God wants us, that’s prosperity, that’s prosperity. You see, God has a place for me, and a place for you. God has a will for every one of us. He said, “Don’t be unwise,” in Ephesians. Listen. “…but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Now the Will of the Lord is not always joy. It’s not always the best thing, you know? The Will of the Lord.
I think of a man, now who’s with the Lord, and he was making a good living. He was a member of our church, here, been dead about fifteen, ten years. Anyway, he was making a good living, just him and his wife. He had one child and the child was married, and they had no financial battles. Had a beautiful brick home. He worked and she worked. And somebody said, “Hey, buddy. I know where you can get a second shift working and make some extra money.” He thought, “Boy, that’s God’s Will.” And he took off and did that. He’d get off from one job and go on to another, and he got out of the church. He got out of the church, and he stayed out of church. It went on and on until, then trouble came to his home. His wife left him, and he had nothing. I went to see him, and he got back in church before he died. But do you see what I’m trying to say? That wasn’t prosperous, because that looked good, but it wasn’t what God wanted him to do, and he knew it. He talked about it later.
Now this man is down there in prison. It looked like every way he turned, things went against him and yet, God says, “He’s a prosperous man.” That’s amazing when you read about that and you read on about it. You come on down in that 39th chapter there. It says verses 20 and 21, “And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” Now most of us in something like this would say, “I don’t know why God’s turned against me.” But He didn’t do it, did He? It said the LORD was with him.
Folks, let me tell you. I believe, by the grace of God, I’d rather be in the storm with the LORD with me than in the sunshine without Him being with me. That’s the thing. I’m talking about the presence of the LORD. You read that on about him.
Now remember he had a dream that there was a butler and there was a baker. We won’t have time to go into all of this, but if you don’t know the story, read it but they got put in prison with him. Pharaoh the king got mad at them, so he put them in prison. They had a dream one night. The next morning, there in prison and Joseph said, “What are you boys so sad about?” They told him. One of them said, “I had a dream…” and he went on to tell that, “…in three days, this, this, and this happened.” Joseph said, “I’ll tell you what it is. In three days you’re going to be out of prison. Pharaoh’s going to take you out and you’re going back to press the grapes and all that.” Boy, the news sounded good!
So the other one said, “Hey! I had a dream that bothers me.”
“What is it?”
“Well, three days…” and he told him what his was.
“In three days from now the LORD’s going to bring you out and hang you by the neck and kill you.” Now. Here we are. This man’s in prison there. But Joseph said to the other one, “Now when you get out in three days, how about remembering me, here?” But he didn’t do it, you see. Now Joseph is still in prison, all right? Now old Pharaoh’s had a dream, and it’s bothering him. He can’t figure it out. He gets all his fortunetellers together that day, but they can’t tell him.
Then somebody said, “Hey, that prisoner Joseph has got a gift from God. Let’s get him.” So he got him, and he said, “I hear that you…” And he said, “No. It’s God.” He gave God the credit. He revealed a dream that “seven years there will be a famine, and seven years, plenty. You’d better be laying-up, because seven years the crops are not going to bring one thing.”
So they got real busy. God blessed it, and if you remember then in other places it started. It ended up that his daddy sent some of his brothers. He said, “I hear that there’s some food down in Egypt,” and sent him and so on. He was revealed to him.
But this is what I want you to see here in the 49th chapter. Jacob’s an old man. Look in verse 1. That’s their daddy. Now look at it, “And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.” He’s saying, “Boys. C’mon, now there’s twelve of you…” and he starts, he names Reuben in verse 3. He mentioned Simeon and Levi in verse 5, and Judah in verse 8, and on down the line. He’s telling them, “This is going to happen to you. This is going to happen to you.” Now daddy’s telling them, “I’m going to die, but I’m telling you.” But let’s see what he says about Joseph.
Now look at 49:22, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)” (Genesis 49:22-24) Now his daddy said, “Joseph is a fruitful bough.”
Now there’s three simple things I just want to mention: what made this man, and what will happen in you. Very simple.
#1 He didn’t fret over the past.
You know some people always live in the past, in the past. Paul said, “There’s one thing I’m doing. I’m forgetting those things back there.” Now if Paul had said everywhere he went, “I don’t understand. I was trying to do the right thing, and they put me in jail because I was trying to preach Jesus, and I don’t know why Jesus let it happen.” He could have went on and on and on, and he would have never been a happy person. He’d have never been a fruitful person. But this man, he didn’t hold a thing. He forgot the past. That’s what I’m trying to say. You find that.
You find, as you read in Genesis 41:50, that Joseph got married and God gave him some boys. If you read, his boys caused him to forget some things in the past and he began to count his blessings.
Now listen, folks. I don’t care what kind of thing me and you have been through, we’ve got some blessings that we’ve got to thank God for. That’s right. We ought to do that. I love the 23rd chapter of the Book of Psalms, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me…” (Psalm 23:6)
Now this is what I’m saying. It will help me and you to have a joyful life if we leave those things behind. Let them be. Don’t worry about them. “Well, I don’t understand…” Well, quit trying to understand and forget about those. That’s what I’m trying to say. Think of what the good things that God has brought you through.
Now I know there’s a negative and there’s a positive side, but my friend, you and I need to look at the – it’s not the troubles, they’re gone. Look at the time, right now. That’ll help us have a joyful life, you see. That’s exactly what he did.
Then here, there’s something else he did: He allowed it to happen for a purpose. He believed that whatever happened to him was for a purpose, and it was.
God had sent him down, yonder, in Egypt to keep His people from starving, but he couldn’t understand that. See, if he hadn’t have gone down there, they’d have had no food. But God put him down there to let them know the famine was coming so they could have the food, so they could bring the food.
Folks, God works in mysterious ways if me and you can quit trying to figure it out and accept it. In Romans 8:28, and we know it, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” If you’ll go there in that 50th chapter of Genesis, the last chapter, I want you to see something now after it’s all over. Look what he said to his brothers, here in verse 20. He said, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me;” “You sold me. You wanted to kill me. I know you thought evil against me.” But wait a minute, “but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” God let it happen for good and you thought it was for bad, you see.
Now that’s the way you and I ought to take things. The Lord teaches us some things. We won’t go into that, but you could take there, in the Book of Job. Look what Job went through. You know Job had ten children and all of them were killed at one time. By the way, the Bible said that he was the best Christian in the East, too. He was a good Christian, but you know he made this statement. I believe it was in the third chapter, he said, “I feel like this wouldn’t always be good and ease.” He figured some trouble would come.
Now you know most of you know the story about Job. He lost all of his material things. All ten of his children, killed at one time. Then he gets so sick for seven days that he couldn’t even talk to anybody. Then his friends, they’ve had fellowship for years, came to see him and every one of them began to be his judges. They said, “If you didn’t do something… You’re hiding some kind of sin if you wouldn’t, God wouldn’t let this happen to you.” They became his judges. And all of those things. Even his own wife said, “How much more are you going to put up with? Why don’t you cuss God and die? God treat you like this!” Now wait a minute, wait a minute, I’m talking about how we can keep from fretting. Joseph never fretted or anything, but you read that last chapter, and when it was over with, Job said, “LORD, I have heard of you by the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.”
Now what do you mean by that, preacher? God used the death to bring him to the place in his life as a Christian that he’d never been before, you see. He said, “I know you can do anything, now God,” you see. Folks, God will use our troubles to teach us if we listen to Him, to teach us that we can bring things to Him. You know you people who are older, you’ve been through more than these children over here. Okay. Something can happen to them, and they may panic. They may think, “Oh!” But what you do, you can come to them and say, “It’s going to be alright.” “How do you know it’s going to be alright?” Because you had the same thing. God uses those things to help us, and I’m saying that we’d be better not to fret over these things. Job learned that, you see.
We need to know this: Maybe you’ve lived out yonder in sin in your background. You may have been married a dozen times. I don’t know what it may be, but the Bible said, “The Blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” If you believe that, the Lord forgets it. He puts your sins in the sea of forgetfulness, never to remember them against you anymore, and why don’t we just be glad of that?
Here, let me give you a verse of Scripture in Isaiah 43. Let me just read it to you. Some of you have heard and some of you have probably read Mel Trotter. Mel Trotter was a drunk. And Mel Trotter spent everything he had for drinking. Everything. He pawned his soul and everything. Now listen. This happened, up in the Chicago area, I believe. I read about it. He had a little 3-year old child that got sick and died, and he was out yonder on one of his drunken spells. His wife, the neighbors, the people had helped fix the little 3-year old’s body, and Mel Trotter came home craving alcohol so bad. He slipped in the little casket, now and pulled the little shoes off of his dead child’s body and took those shoes and when out yonder and pawned them to buy more liquor.
When he got sober, he got to thinking… You know? The Devil will always take a man on down. He was so ashamed of himself that he was going to a place to drown. He was going to drown and commit suicide, and on his way, if you remember, he passed the great meeting there in Chicago – Pacific Garden. He was going to kill himself and he heard them singing, and he stopped and he went back in there and he got saved and God used him. I’ve got some material about him.
This is a Scripture right here that he loved and talked about so much, in Isaiah 43. Listen. “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” He claimed that and went away. Now if the Devil can bring up my past and your past and we agree with him and go and yet, we’re honest. We’ve confessed it. It’s under the Blood and we will praise God that it’s under the Blood, you see, but if we’re going to wonder about it, then we’re not going to get anywhere.
But I’m talking about how we can have a happy, victorious life is to put these things in the past, “…forgetting those things…” There are some good things, but there’s no way we can go back and undo those things.
#2 He enjoyed the present.
Then I put down my second is, not only that he didn’t fret over the past, but he enjoyed the present. He enjoyed the present that he was with. Now this is a good lesson if you have the time. But the LORD blessed Joseph with four children in the 41st chapter of Genesis. He blessed him with two boys. It tells you, there, in Genesis 41:52, one of them was named Ephraim. He said, “He is the fruit in the land of my affliction,” you see. Now the other had come along and God blessed him.
Now what he had done, he enjoyed the present. He enjoyed what he had, he enjoyed what he had. God gave him his two boys and brought joy in his life.
Now not everybody has a family, but you and I who do have a good-size family, we ought to enjoy them. Just enjoy them. That’s what I’m talking about. Enjoy those grandkids. My goodness, my grand-young’uns and great grand-young’uns get by with a whole lot more than our young’uns ever did. I mean, they come to the house and their mom and dad say, “Don’t you do that!” I think, “Well, I’ll leave them alone.” One time, I done whooped them and everything. You know. Just to have a bunch of kids around, that’s a blessing, my friend. And you read about this man, Joseph, and those kids brought joy to him, you see. We need to realize that. You know the Bible says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
Then here’s something else as you go along. Old Pharaoh had confidence in him, you see. He had confidence in him. When he answered that dream that Pharaoh had, man, he tried to build him up. Joseph said, “Don’t you give me the credit. It’s God that revealed that to you.” Always give the LORD the credit.
Then that last chapter of Genesis. Now again, I’m talking about how we enjoy the present. He said, in verse 21, “Now therefore fear ye not…” His brothers said, after daddy died, after Jacob died, his brother said, “He’ll kill us, now. He’s probably been waiting on us because we sold him. We done him bad.” Well, listen to what he said, “Now Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.” That’s a real Christian, isn’t it? He said, “Well, I know you meant it for bad, but God did it for good. God had a hand…”
I believe with all of my heart that, if I trust God, that He can override all the enemies that may face me, and you, too. And that’s what happened. This man, he didn’t let the past fret him, and he enjoyed the present. Enjoy what you’ve got. You say, “We don’t have like so ‘n’ so.” Don’t covet. Thank God you have what you’ve now got, you know. Praise the Lord for that. That’s what I’m trying to say. Give God the praise and the Glory, you know.
I remember when we lived over yonder in the other house, and some lady at the church here asked my wife, “How many baths do you all have? How many bathrooms?” Well, listen. We were married, Lord, I don’t know how many years and we had a path, and I was glad of that. That’s alright. We had just built us a little house and had just a little small – two people couldn’t get into the bathroom. I remember, one time, Jackie came home one night and the lady said to her, “I don’t see in the world how in the world you all make it with one bathroom.” I said, “You tell her I made it for twenty-some years without one.” Thank God.
We used to go down, out behind the hedge, and on Saturday, take us a bath. You know we didn’t need one all the time, you know. We’d like, there… Mother would heat the water. She’d heat some water to get warm water. Then she’d put it in that tub. “Now you boys get out yonder behind that hedge and quick strip off and get in that tub.” I always liked being there first when I had two more brothers. Get in there and take you a good bath. Everybody didn’t have their little towel, and your towel and my towel and all that. You just got it first if you could, and we had it good. We had it good.
I’m just saying, “Don’t start coveting other stuff. Thank God for what you have and you can enjoy it, my friend.” You can enjoy it. Amen. We enjoyed that. Good night!
Man, my mother could…she could fry the best potatoes you ever stuck a tooth in and cook a big ol’ pot of pinto beans and fix a big ol’ pan of cornbread. Good night! You’d get you a bottle of ketchup and boy, you had it made. That was great. She’d out there on Saturday. She knew how to wring a neck of that ol’ chicken, you know. Going out, and then she’d pick that thing. We’d have chicken on Sunday. I remember.
Let me tell you a good one, right quick. I’ve got to hurry along. J. C. down here, you know his mother was my daddy’s younger sister. I don’t know whether you ever knew this, J. C., but I came over there on my bicycle and Aunt Adelee said, “I wish Arvel would come home.” That’s her husband, his daddy. She said, “I want him to kill a chicken for me.” I said, “Would you like me to kill it for you?” She said, “Can you?” I said, “I believe I can. I don’t want to wring his neck, have you got a…” I knew they had an axe. She said, “Yeah.” I got that ol’ chicken, and I got it out there and stretched his neck across that chopping block, and I don’t know what, the closer I got, that thing eased up, and I just barely broke the skin. I turned that ol’ chicken loose, and it bled and run all over. I never did try to kill another chicken after that, I never did, and she never asked me to.
But you think about those old times. Man, don’t get above your ways, good night! I’m just saying, “Enjoy what you’ve got right now.” That’s what I’m trying to say. “Enjoy!” And that’s what we need.
Now get my points, here. Now get my first point: Forget the past. Enjoy the present. Then, look for
#3 He looked for the future.
Now if you read here, and I’ll close there, but if you read here in verses 24-25, old Joseph tells his brothers in that last chapter, When “I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. What are you saying? He said, “We’re not home. We’re down here in Egypt, but you look forward. He’s going to come and get us out.” My friend, if that doesn’t encourage you, I don’t know what will.
Look for the future. There’s coming a day. There’s coming a day when there’ll be no more sin. There’s coming a day when there’ll be no more suffering. There’s coming day when there’ll be no more temptation. “How do you know?” Because the Book says so! That’s what I’m trying to say.
You folks that are sitting around here tonight and your companion’s in Heaven… It may be tonight we’ll hear the shout come! I’ve been praying for the Second Coming. You see, one reason is to see so many little children hurt today and so much immorality. He’s coming! When He gives the shout, we’ll leave this world. And that ought to be an encouragement to you.
Don’t fret over the past. It’s done gone. Enjoy what you have now. Look, there’s a better day coming, and that ought to encourage you. Ole’ Joseph, he was one of the greatest Christians in the Bible. I never, reading about it, I never sensed one ounce of time when he let any bitterness get in his heart. He just believed God had control. That’s what I’m saying, and He does.
I remember when Brother Fox, Buddy Fox, was pastor, some of you used to go to the Pine Grove church over there, the other end of High Point. Brother Buddy was the pastor of the church. Good man. He’s still up in years, not pastoring right now. He had two boys. He was living for the Lord, faithful, working in church. One of the boys, I think he was 16, was riding his bicycle and happened to go across a stop lane. Anyway, he got killed and I went to his funeral. Some of you may have. It was sad, Buddy said he was such a good Christian boy. He told me later, “Brother Bobby, an old preacher, and old preacher from South Carolina, an old evangelist came up to me and said, ‘Listen, Brother Buddy. Don’t try to sit and figure this thing out because, when you think you’ve got it figured out, you’ve misfigured it.’ He said, ‘you walk on by faith and someday you’ll understand.’” And that really helped that man. God had a purpose in allowing it, and I don’t have enough sense to know why, but He knows why and I’ll walk-on with Him and enjoy His promises and His blessings.
by Dr. Randy Taylor
Randy Taylor is a local church evangelist out of West Union, West Virginia, president of Mt. Salem Revival Grounds and founder of God Save America conferences.
“And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, show thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. And Elijah went to show himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria. And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly: For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.) And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts…. And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the spirit of the Lord shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me: but I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth…. So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah…. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table…. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.”(I Kings 18:1-5, 12, 16, 19, 21)
These people didn’t answer a word because they were too ashamed because they had already given up God. I want to give you a Bible illustration of what you just heard about, how Jezebel gave away all that grace she could have had. She was in the greatest nation, had the greatest God, and she turned her back on God in favor of idolatry and wickedness. Ahab, the king of Israel, and Israel who didn’t want God Jehovah, but they wanted a king like all the other nations, they gave up being the blessed people of God. I want to preach on that phrase in verse 19, “Jezebel’s Table.”
A preacher once asked, “Why is there so much denominational division?” My answer to him was because it is Biblical. There is such a thing as ecclesiastical separation in the Bible. Jezebel was one prophetess who changed a nation that was supposed to serve Jehovah God, and have no other god before Him. We are to worship the God with the capital ‘G’, not the god with a little ‘g’, like the millions of people that are walking before that dead man, Mohammed, who is going to send them all to Hell. They gave the God of Israel away. Ahab was the king of Israel, but he was a hen-pecked husband. Athaliah was Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter, who murdered her way to the throne after awhile, killing even her own children and grandchildren.
Jezebel the queen hated Elijah and wanted to kill him. Jezebel’s name, of all things, meant ‘chaste and free from all carnal connections.’ Isn’t that a strange coincidence? She certainly didn’t live up to that name. Yet her name is associated with some of the most wicked people that have ever lived. You don’t want to name your daughter Jezebel, that’s for sure. She was a murderer, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians, named after Baal. Ethbaal was a worshipper of a wicked idol. His name meant ‘the god of the land.’ Through all their years, they worked to turn Israel away from God. Ahab built a magnificent temple in Samaria and began to worship a sun god. Jezebel housed 400 priests in a sanctuary that was erected and fed all 400 of them at her table. She thought they were greater than God. They forgot who they were supposed to believe in, Jehovah God. Jezebel married Ahab, king of northern Israel. Ahab sinned against God and his own Hebrew nation when he began to follow this person named after Baal, Ethbaal. Ahab served Baal the Bible says in I Kings 16 and in Micah chapter six. He caused a spiritual, moral decay in Israel.
Jezebel wanted to destroy the worship of Jehovah. She was attractive and powerful. She had no restraint. She was savage, relentless, proud, strong, and full of all kinds of schemes. She was persuasive in her influence. Her influence was her biggest curse. She used her strength to destroy her husband, her daughter, and her nation. Can you imagine that one person can be capable of so much damage? I’m telling you, if you don’t stay with that Book, you’re capable of being the same person. You’re capable of eating at the same table, if you don’t watch yourself. None could match her zeal for idolatry. None could match her worship. None could match her drive for deception, her enthusiasm to make false prophets. Baal had no one more dedicated than Jezebel, but it caused immorality, superstition, bloodshed and godlessness.
Elijah had been in hiding for three years after he prophesied a three-year drought. When he came out of hiding, he approached Ahab after that three-year drought and challenged 850 prophets of Baal under Ahab and Jezebel to a challenge of a supreme power at Mt. Carmel.
You know, preachers need to get fed up once in a while. I don’t run with wolf packs because I don’t like wolves. Every once in a while you’ve got to expose them. Ahab and Jezebel were leaders of God’s nation and God’s people. When Jezebel heard of Elijah and how he had slaughtered all these well fed prophets from her own table, she vowed to kill him. Ahab was just a puppet in her hand. If you’re God’s man, you need to follow God and be a man. You don’t need to be your deacon’s man, or your wife’s man. You’d better watch out else you’ll do what they did.
After Elijah had hid himself for three years, he’s back again. By this time the famine was in Samaria. Obadiah was a part of that household, a governor and steward over Ahab’s household. He was a good man, but employed by the wrong boss. He was on the wrong payroll. Obadiah feared God greatly from his youth. I’ve heard that those who are good from their youth are usually very good when they are older.
Obadiah was hired by this wicked king. The truth is bad people trust good people better than themselves and others like them. That’s why it’s good to have this college here. This area needs to see what good character and Bible Christianity is all about. Obadiah knew what Ahab and Jezebel did was wrong. He had all those prophets by fifties in caves and fed them bread and water. They were prophets who preached against the idolatry of Ahab and his wicked wife. Many of his fellow prophets were slain, but Obadiah saved these. Had Jezebel found out what Obadiah was doing, he would have been tortured or killed.
Then Obadiah meets Elijah. That was a great day in his life. Elijah didn’t take much time to tell him what he wanted. He said, “I want to meet Ahab. Can you set it up for me?” When he met him, Ahab looked at Elijah and said, “…Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” You know, a good old fashioned preacher often gets accused of causing trouble where sin abounds. It wasn’t Elijah that caused trouble in Israel. It was God that was raining down judgement because of Israel’s wickedness. It wasn’t Elijah that caused the sins to bring judgment upon the people. It was Ahab and Jezebel and their wickedness. Elijah told Ahab to call a general assembly of all the prophets together. Eight hundred fifty attended that ministerial association on Mt. Carmel. What a meeting! Elijah wanted to teach Ahab that you can’t serve God and sin at the same time. You know there is no such thing as a worldly Christian. Either you are for God or you’re a compromiser.
Another thing Elijah wanted to teach him was you can’t pretend to love God while you obey Jezebel and her idols. Some churches have become idol worshipping churches. We need to get back to God. Elijah looked at them and said, “How long halt ye between two opinions? Who are you going to serve — God or Baal?” They were too ashamed to answer. They were in it too deep. They knew. You know it’s amazing when you get under conviction, you either try to talk your way out of it, or you just get quiet. They were so quiet.
Elijah told them that he wanted to rebuild the altar, and that’s where revival started, when you rebuild that altar. He said, “I want you to get two bullocks, cut them in pieces, lay them on that pile of wood, and without any fire I want you to pray to your god of fire to consume that sacrifice.”
They began to cry out. “Oh, Baal, hear us.” Elijah began to mock them. He said, “Is your god asleep? Can he hear you? He must be away on a trip somewhere.” Read the Bible.
If sin is sin, then call it what it is. I like old time preaching. I never get tired of hearing good preaching. These new guys that preach philosophies will take you to the point where you know more and more about philosophies and less and less about the Bible. We don’t need psychiatry in the pulpit. I never met a psychiatrist that didn’t need one. We need old time, leather lunged, Bible believing preaching. Somebody get up and just tell it like it is.
They cried, “Oh, Baal, help us. Oh, Baal, hear us.” Israel’s false god didn’t hear them. You know, God in Heaven always hears you. He’s always there when you need Him, but you’d better be on His side. The prophets of Baal cut themselves with knives and lancets until blood gushed out of their veins. Then Elijah said, “It’s time to rebuild the altar. Make a trench that holds water. Put wood on the altar. Pour four barrels of water on the sacrifice and then repeat it three times until all the trenches are filled.” Then fire came down from the God of Heaven that those Baal worshippers had been praying for and couldn’t get. When fire falls from Heaven, then you know it’s God that did it. God was on the scene. The Bible says that they all fell to their faces and cried, “…The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.” Elijah said, “I’ve had enough.” He ordered the slaughter of all those false prophets. I’ve been to a lot of revivals, but I’ve never been to one of those kind. Can you imagine that day? Through everything, all of these troubles, Elijah never failed to show respect to the king. He knew that it was God that exalteth one and puts down another. The Bible still teaches in I Peter 2:17, “…Fear God. Honour the king.” Elijah honored the king and feared God. When Jezebel heard that Elijah killed all her prophets, she swore by her god, that god with a little ‘g’, that she’d kill Elijah. She sent messengers to tell him. Can you believe that after all these victories, he got scared off by this one woman. It caused him a Juniper tree experience.
I hear preachers say, “Well, I never get depressed.” You’re lying. Why don’t you come off your high horse and just admit you’re human like everybody else. Elijah got depressed. Depression is a sin. It’s a killer. Most preachers quit because they don’t get over what they’re depressed about. “Woe is me. I’m all alone. I’m by myself.” God said, “You’d better rest a little while because what I’ve got for you is going to take a long time to take care of.” Then he had a mountaintop experience. He just ran 30 miles from Mt. Carmel to Jezreel and he beat the king’s chariot there. He wasn’t some kind of wimp and he didn’t have queer lips either. If you’re a queer, get saved or get out. You say, “You’re not a sympathizer?” Never have been, never will be.
Then Elijah went 120 miles from Jezreel to Beersheba. That was the Juniper tree area. Then he went 200 miles from Beersheba to Mt. Horeb, where the earth began to shake underneath his feet and God said, “Elijah, I want you to go anoint two new kings.” That means he had to remove them. He was a fighter. Four hundred miles from Mt. Horeb to Syria where he took off Benhadad from Syria and put in Hazael. Then eighty miles from Syria to Israel where he took Ahab out and then put Jehu in. That’s 830 miles. They didn’t have automobiles or airplanes back in those days. He was some kind of man.
Ahab covets Naboth’s vineyard. He and his wife kill Naboth for it. Elijah said, “I’ve had enough.” He got his courage back. Don’t lose your courage, preacher. You stand in the pulpit. You don’t look at their faces and their eyes. When you are in the pulpit, you don’t have any friends. You’re God’s friend. You don’t take sides. You just take God’s side and do what God tells you. Ahab was the king of Israel. Elijah said, “The dogs are going to lick your blood and your wife’s blood.” The last thing Jezebel did before she died was, as she saw Jehu coming with his chariot, she painted up her eyes and placed her jewel crown on her head. She mounted herself in a palace tower, and watched Jehu’s chariot arrive. Jehu said, “Who is on my side?” To his surprise, two of her eunuchs, servants of the queen, obeyed Jehu and threw her down.
We haven’t heard the last of Jezebel. Jezebel number two is on TV every day today. Revelation two describes her. Perversion of truth, full of abomination, filthiness, blasphemy and fornication, drunken with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. Revelation 17 calls her the abomination of the earth, the great whore, the mother of harlots. God said He’ll rule her with a rod of iron. Jezebel had created a generation of mad prophets. It kind of sounds like another nation we know, whose words were like poison, who substituted truth for an anything goes message to prove their point and full of fables and false doctrines and wasted words, weird philosophies. We don’t need lies and deceit. We just need the Word of God.
I want you to notice with me what Jezebel’s table caused. Look at I Kings 18:21. “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.”
#1. Jezebel’s table was surrounded by fence straddlers. I looked up in Webster’s Dictionary what a straddler is. A straddler is one who tries to walk or stand with his feet spread far apart. The Bible says “…how long halt ye between two opinions?…” Where I’m from you call those fence straddlers. A fence straddler to me is somebody on the farm that tries to maybe cross that fence and he gets his pant-leg caught in a barb wire fence. He doesn’t know whether to back up or to go forward — number one, because it hurts. Number two, he is going to rip his britches. Fundamental, independent, Bible believing preachers, we don’t have to cross the fence to split our britches. A fence straddler is scared of what kind of problem he’ll face. Compromisers, that’s what you call them. They lead to false prophets. They lead to alliances that become apostate. Time soon changes things. Where once Bible believers banded together to worship God in a Bible way, now because of their systems and their buildings and their colleges and their missions, everything gets so big and the burden gets so enormous, before you know it they’ve got to keep up with the status quo. I thought the tree would always fall the way it’s leaning, unless you’ve got some big bull dozer to hoist it over the right way. That’s what this conference is all about. It’s a big bull dozer trying to get us back on the right track. If your tree is leaning, you’d better watch out. Now we have pulpits of no restraint, full of compromisers. Anything goes.
I like the sign out in front of Brother Bob Smith’s church. It clearly says, “We don’t allow that new kind of music here.” What’s wrong with the old hymn book? I mean one that doesn’t take repentance out of the great hymns of the faith. I don’t care if anybody else will, I’ll say it. I don’t have to please anybody. I can knock your bark off and leave town. Our platforms are full of compromisers and peacemakers. Preach, brother, preach! Who cares what anybody thinks? What does God think about it? Winebibbers, you say, “Where did you get that from?” Some of them don’t care if they preach in these churches that have alcoholic wine at the Lord’s Supper table. Some don’t even think twice about taking missionaries and evangelist’s support. Now we’ve got supposedly fundamental Baptist churches, who are criticizing the King James Bible. Why don’t you take that name off your sign?
You, young men, go ahead and settle it right now. No matter who calls you on the phone, no matter how many arguments they try to bring to you, and they always come while you’re around your friends and try to embarrass you. They try to get you somewhere in a feeble moment where you might say the wrong thing. Just tell them, “I don’t care what you say. The King James Bible is God’s Word.” Stand on that Bible. They ruled out the stand on the deity of Christ, the blood atonement, Second Coming. These are cardinal doctrines of the Bible. Don’t you water down the Gospel. God will take care of you if you stand true to His Word. You say, “Aren’t you scared to preach it?” I’m scared not to preach it. You mess with the Gospel and God is going to mess with you. I don’t mind saying it. They’ve thrown out separation and standards and Bible purity and conduct and appearance. Brother, we’re changing with the culture. We’re changing with this weird religion that is going around today. Let me ask you preachers that have been preaching for awhile, can you preach the same sermons you preached 20 years ago? For some it is pretty easy. For others it’s embarrassing, isn’t it? Because you’ve got to stand before the same people you’ve told that to 20 years ago, and admit you’ve changed.
You say, “Well, it’s no big deal. I can change back.” No, you can’t. Not without a fall. You take standards out of your Sunday school teachers and choir and platform requirements. Before you know it, you’ll lose your church. You’ll resign and go into ‘itinerant speaking’, won’t you? I’ve kind of learned a lesson in the last 30 years that all sympathizers are compromisers. Dr. Roloff said, “We don’t need mixers; we need separators.” There will be another Mt. Carmel someday with the same result — fire. You see, we’re not strengthened when we sympathize with those who water down God’s Word. We just weaken the cause. These preacherboys in this room need to see the same fiery preachers taking a stand 20 years from today. I love to hear these great men preach because they don’t compromise. That’s why Brother Corle and Brother Fugate and Brother Mattingly have them in these conferences, because they’re still preaching what they used to preach. By the way, that’s the God Israel gave away, and that’s the God America is giving away again today. That’s the God our preachers are giving away. First of all, Jezebel’s table caused a bunch of fence straddlers.
#2. Jezebel’s table caused faithful men of God to be cave dwellers. They had to hide for what they preached. We got to come to a great preaching conference. Nobody told us we couldn’t come, but if we keep compromising things will change in this country. Don’t you back up on your stand on the Ten Commandments. They’ve perverted the Constitution. Now we’ve got private rights of individuals. You can go to any public place and find more pornography than you can God’s Word. Jezebel’s table caused cave dwellers. A cave is a cage or a den or a hollow place or a cavern. They feared for their lives. They had no courage. They were terrified. You really learn what you believe when you have to stand by yourself. When you stand with everybody else, you can agree with all of them, but it’s different when you’ve got to stand on your own two feet. You boys in college, it’s okay to say, “Amen” here, but let me hear the same shout when you’re all by yourself out there facing opposition. Obadiah feared the Lord from his youth, the Bible says, but he got on the wrong payroll. He had the wrong boss. He began to see the error of his nation and what happened to God’s people. It ought to do something inside of you, when you see corruption come to the good churches, when you see evil, wickedness, come into the lives of our people and our culture. Hey, this is my country, too. The country was full of fearful prophets, scared to preach against the idolatry of Ahab and Jezebel, scared to be separated.
There was a duplicity of doctrine in the land. There was no direction. First Corinthians 15:58 is still in the Bible. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Philippians 3:14 says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” This modern religion today, oh it will get new worship. It will win new friends, but it won’t get favor with God. The average preacher stands for nothing and falls for everything. Stand for that Book. The truth is if you preach that Book like you ought to preach, you won’t be everybody’s little fair-haired child. Somebody will turn their nose up when they mention your name. Preachers are all the time looking for greener fields of exhortation to meet the expectation of the people. Jezebel just stole another pulpit. That’s what they were talking about in their day probably. “Another pulpit has gone to Jezebel.” That’s the God they gave away. Israel didn’t want Jehovah. They said, “Give us a king to judge us like all of the nations.” Now their supreme power was Ahab and Jezebel. That’s the God they gave away. Now the nation obeys the orders and opinions of wicked people rather than God’s unchanging Word. That’s what we’ve got today. We’re following opinions.
#3. Finally Jezebel’s table faced opposition from the true man of God. I’m so glad that God raised up an Elijah. I’m so glad that Elijah, when he didn’t have a crowd, decided to stand by himself. He just stood up and said, “Okay, God, it’s me and You. That’s it.” But you’re a majority when you have God on your side.
A true man of God will see results at the altar. What kind of results are you seeing at your altar? Is it stagnant? Are people walking the aisle? That’s not their fault. That’s the man of God’s fault. Maybe you haven’t had that Juniper tree experience. Maybe God needs to break you before something great can happen so He gets the glory, but you need to stay faithful long enough until something happens at that altar. You can tell a true man of God by what happens at his altar. We’re not taking enough time to meet the spiritual needs of people. You spend more time preparing your sermons and delivering your message and then you cop out at the altar call.
An old time preacher, Dallas Billington, said, “You need to spend more time after your sermon with the altar call than you do in your message.” That would change things, wouldn’t it? He said, “Your invitations ought to last as long as your sermon.” You want to rush them out because you’ve got your programs. You got to put that candy sucker in their mouth. I’m not against promotion, but I’m against having no altar calls. All these little performers, they perform, and no altar call. God, help us. Is this church or a rodeo? Why don’t you let God’s people kneel at an altar? What happened to you? You might as well join the Southern Baptists. They believe the same way you believe. Is that what is going on? Where are you getting your material? Who are you hanging out with? That won’t get you any meetings. It never has.
A true man of God will have faith in God’s Word to stand against falsehood. Sometimes it takes courage to mount the pulpit because you know what is in your notes and you see who is in the auditorium. Preach what God told you to pen when you were alone in study. By the way, do you reckon God can still bless a sermon that is not typed out by a computer? I’m just wondering. All my preacher friends say, “You’re way out of touch.” Something is kind of sissy about that.
If you’re God’s true man, it means you’ll stand alone in what you believe no matter what the crowd says, all by yourself.
You’ll reveal God’s power. You won’t brag about it. You’ll brag on Him. God’s power will be right there where you are, if you’re truly doing what God wants you to do. We need God’s people and God’s preachers to stand true in this day of apostasy. When Elijah began to do what he believed God wanted him to do, fire fell. It consumed the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and the dust — everything. That was no ordinary fire. God demolished and destroyed everything.
Jezebel’s table was in trouble now. She had to eat by herself. You say, “God is not fair.” No, it was a fair trial. Both sides had the same opportunity to call down fire. I hear people say all the time, “You preachers are mean. You preach too hard, too negative.” Well, you’d better thank God your battery post has a negative on it. You wouldn’t have gotten to church today. It takes both, doesn’t it? I still oppose the evil, liberal, wicked, and worldly things of our day. I still oppose the immodest dress, drunkenness, drugs, and nakedness. I still oppose necking, petting, and teenage fornication. I still oppose worldly music, dancing, gambling, bad TV, and movies. I still oppose sodomy, adultery, and immorality. I still oppose politicians for preachers. I still oppose laughing at purity. I still oppose perverted lifestyles and appearances. I still oppose pagan bibles. I still oppose pornography. I still oppose those loose standards and the destruction of the home and family. I still oppose the attack on marriage. I still oppose convention religion and denominational popes. I still oppose supporting liberals, infidels, evil doers, and unbelievers. I still oppose churches that think they need to have the endorsements of fellowships in order to survive.
I watched my brethren trust God enough through their beginning days of starting their churches until it came to maybe build a new building. One preacher I knew believed God for twenty years and then he went back in the convention because he couldn’t afford song books after he built his big building. How sick is that? People still go preach with him. I’m not going to preach with him. I never have preached for a Southern Baptist church. You say, “What is wrong with the Southern Baptist Convention?” That’s what your problem is. You ought to know what is wrong with it. Their money is wrong for one. Do you know what is sad? Catholic hospitals don’t provide abortions, but Baptist hospitals do. I still oppose heresies and false religion.
Go to Romans chapter one. A lot of preachers take Romans chapter one and treat it like it is just for a lost man, but there are some interesting verses here. Are you God’s child? Have you been saved by the blood? Then why do you need to worry about sitting at Jezebel’s table? Let me tell you what happens to a man that trusts in Jezebel’s table over Jehovah God. Look at Romans 1:21. “Because that, when they knew God,…” Preachers need to read Romans chapter one again. It’s not just for the lost man. “… they glorified him not as God,…” The same trouble Israel had. They knew Him, but they didn’t glorify Him as God. Verse 23, “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” What did God do? Verse 24, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:” That’s not all. Look at verse 28. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” You keep sinning against your body and your mind, and it won’t be very long before you start acting like them, thinking like them. You say, “I’m saved.” God gave them, ones who knew Him, God gave them over to a reprobate mind. You read the check list of sin after that, what you’re capable of doing once you get a reprobate mind. You keep sinning against your mind and you’ll get a reprobate mind. God will give you over. I want to just keep believing the same old stuff and stand true to this Book.
An old black man who loved the Lord used to have the job back in the old days of going down the street and lighting the old gas lanterns on the streets. That was his job every night. Every afternoon he’d light them up. A lawyer began to watch his life. He said, “Hey, old man, you are all the time singing about God and talking about God, but look at your clothes and look how poor you are. How can you brag on a God that keeps you so poor?” He ridiculed and gave him trouble all the time. Every night he’d go by praising the Lord. One night that lawyer said, “How can you brag on God when you’re so poor?”
Finally that old black man said, “Well, I’ll tell you. Lawyer, look ahead of you. What do you see?”
He said, “There are a bunch of lights.” He said, “Yes, that is what God is doing for me now, a lamp unto my path. He is going to show me the way.” The lawyer said, “What happens when you are finished?” He said, “I thought you were a brilliant lawyer. What happens when I’m finished? Morning comes.”
Morning is coming. I don’t care how dark this old world becomes, Christians ought to shine brighter. We have no business sitting at Jezebel’s table. We’re talking about people who knew God and yet took God’s people the wrong way. If you have the awesome privilege and responsibility to stand behind His sacred desk, you keep it right. If someday that man puts his hands on you to go out and do a job for Christ, you go out and do it for God and not for the favor of man. You say, “I can’t get a crowd that way.” You preach what God wants you to preach and He’ll see to it that you get the crowd you need. Just keep soulwinning. Keep getting people saved. Stand true to His Word and preach the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
Paul said, “…the things which happened unto me…” and if you know Paul’s testimony, most of them were not good. He testifies in II Corinthians 11:24-28 and just enumerates the things that had happened unto him. When you talk about something that happened, in most cases it’s not something you intentionally did to yourself. It is a circumstance that came about, a happening. Something happened. It was unplanned. You weren’t prepared for it. Good things happen as well. Quite frequently, the things that happen to us are undesirable. We’re not really excited about it. Paul said in II Corinthians 11:24, “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.” That’s what happened. He was preaching the Gospel, trying to get the Word of God out, trying to do the will of God. What happened? They gave him 39 stripes. That happened numerous times — five times.
He said, “Thrice was I beaten with rods,…” Three times when he was trying to serve God, he was beaten with rods. “…once was I stoned,…” He wasn’t on drugs. I believe they killed him and God raised him back to life at Lystra. I believe that’s what he testified about in II Corinthians when he talked about being caught up to the third heaven. He was beaten and scourged and stoned. He said, “…thrice I suffered shipwreck,…” That’s a blessing. He was headed somewhere and got shipwrecked. It really did turn out to be a blessing in disguise. It didn’t look or feel like a blessing. This is not how he planned it. He would not have asked for it to be this way, but there was a Divine design to every happening in his life.
Quite frequently, I’m afraid that when things happen, we fall apart and get so upset we lose sight of the will of God. When things happen, sometimes we change plans and leave the will of God rather than allowing the circumstance to produce the desired end.
He went on talking about things that happened to him. “…a night and a day I have been in the deep;” Verse 26, “In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers,…” That’s a real blessing, have somebody rob you. Bad things happen to good people, don’t they? Car accidents and things. Shipwreck he talked about, but car wrecks and disease and things that happen and you just can’t find any rhyme or reason to the circumstance. From your perspective looking at it, you can’t imagine how anything good could possibly come from this? I’m certain that whenever Paul was robbed, he wasn’t too excited about having the little bit he had taken away from him, having his life threatened, having money and belongings taken away by force. He said, “…in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;” He talked about the perils of life.
The world in which you and I live, there are some perilous things. There will be people that turn on you, sometimes your own countrymen. Sometimes it will be the heathen, but sometimes it will be the brethren. You can’t decide who does what as far as what they do to you. The only thing you can do is decide that you’ll respond as you should. He talks about, “In weariness and painfulness,…” If you don’t have any of that, you’re not working hard enough and you’re not old enough. You get a little bit older, you’ll know what pain is. You work hard enough, you’ll know what weariness is.
Once I was calling Bryan Sharp. I was in a Spanish conference. Ezequiel Salazar, who is a pastor in Los Angeles, California, was my interrupter — I mean interpreter. You say about three words, and he’d say 15. You say two and he’d say 10. I don’t know, maybe he was preaching his own sermon. I was preaching with Brother Salazar and I had only been sleeping a couple hours a night. I was completely exhausted. I had just flown in there preached and got a bite to eat and went back to the motel room. I laid down and when I woke up, it was five o’clock. It was a winter day and it was dark. When I woke up, immediately I looked at the clock. I started to kind of panic. I thought, “Is it five o’clock in the morning? Am I supposed to be getting ready to go to the airport? Is somebody coming to pick me up? Am I late for my ride?” I thought, “Is it five o’clock in the evening? Am I supposed to be getting ready for church? Where am I at?” I sat there for a little bit and it dawned on me that it was five o’clock in the evening. I said, “Okay, I got a little bit of time. I need to call Bryan Sharp.” I called and in my mind I’m in California because I’m preaching and Brother Salazar is my interpreter. Mary Joyce, Bryan’s wife, answered the telephone. I said, “Mary, is Bryan there?” She said, “Brother Corle, he’s out hunting.” I said, “Come on, Mary. Don’t mess with me. I’m too tired. Get him on the phone.” She said, “Brother Corle, he’s out hunting.” I said, “Mary, look. I’m in California. It’s five o’clock here. It’s seven o’clock there. It’s dark here. Don’t tell me he’s out hunting.” She said, “Brother Corle, it’s not dark here.” I’m sitting there thinking, “What’s happened? Some cataclysmic event has taken place while I was sleeping. What’s going on?” I said, “Just never mind.” So I hung up and I’m sitting on the edge of the bed trying to figure this out. All of a sudden it dawns on me. I’m not in California; I’m in New York, opposite coast, an hour later than Sharp. I didn’t know where I was at, didn’t know what was going on. Everything I tried to do, I was just in a cloud. Now if that never happened to you, you’re not working hard enough. You get too much sleep.
He talked about being in weariness. He talked about being in perils. He talked about painfulness. He talked about watchings often, staying up through the night praying, crying out to God. He talked about hunger. Nobody usually stays hungry intentionally. It’s because there is a lack of food. If you have hunger and there is food, you go ahead and satisfy the hunger. You eat. He’s talking about need. You understand some things that happened to him. He was without what he needed — his physical provision, sometimes. That was not by choice. It wasn’t a planned fast in this case. He talks about fastings a little bit later, “…in fastings often, in cold…” where he didn’t have the heat he’d like to have. “…and nakedness.” He didn’t have the proper clothing. He said, “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Carrying the burdens and the heartaches of other people, people I love, people that are going through it. He said, “You don’t begin to know.”
Brother Hyles said to me several years ago when we were in a meeting together, “You know, Doc, when you know as many people as we know, traveling like we do, if you’re not careful, you just cry all the time.” It’s the truth. The more people you know, the more heartache you know about. Somebody that you love is going through it all the time. Somebody is in a mess all the time. Somebody is hurting all the time. The more people you know, it just multiplies the heartache and burden.
Paul said that he had started these churches. He won these converts. He loved these people and he said, “You don’t begin to know the burden that falls on me daily with the care of the churches and the concern about the direction they go.” He was worried about the church in Galatia. It was going the wrong direction. He had a hand in that thing and it had taken a turn for the worse. That letter would imply that.
Paul said, “…the things which happened unto me…” and I want you to understand most of the things that happened unto him according to his own testimony in II Corinthians 11, most of them were not good. It’s not that nothing good ever happens by chance, and really it’s not by chance. The things that come, the things that happen that you didn’t plan, they come upon you. A lot of them are not good.
Paul said, “…the things which happened unto me…” They have fallen out, not to my destruction. He said, “…the things which happened unto me…” God’s intention was not to destroy me by allowing them to happen.
The first thing people want to do when something undesirable happens is question, “If God loves me, why did He?” and “If there is a loving God, why would He?” The first thing we want to do is question the integrity of God or the love of God or the goodness of God, instead of understanding that everything that God allows in my life has an end to it. It has a Divine purpose. Sometimes the good things don’t produce what the bad things produce. You understand that, don’t you?
Job talked about how God afflicted him. Do you know what he said? He said, “For God maketh my heart soft,…” (Job 23:16) Affliction will do that to you. The good times will callous you. God prospers His people, too, but sometimes prosperity will callous you. Sometimes it will get you cooled down and indifferent to spiritual things. It will get you satisfied with something less than God’s best. He said, “…the things which happened unto me have fallen out…” not to my destruction, but they “…have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;” He said, “The Gospel has gotten out as the result of my calamity. These undesirable circumstances in every case had a Divine purpose and there is some way that they made a difference for somebody and enabled me to get the Gospel to somebody or tendered somebody’s heart, or God used my testimony to affect them. I wouldn’t have chosen any of these things. They just happened. I would have planned it different, but it happened different than I planned it.” God knew what He was doing. It didn’t just happen. It happened with design. It happened with the hand of God in the background orchestrating everything that came to pass in my life. He said, “It happened to the furtherance of the Gospel.”
I understand there is human intent and things. In verses 15-18, Paul talks about human intent. “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” People sometimes have bad intent, but even when they have ill intent, God has a purpose. He could prevent that stuff. He’s still in charge. On your worst day, He’s in charge. When it looks like your whole world is falling apart, He’s in charge. He’s not afflicting you to destroy you or to be unkind to you. There is a Divine purpose.
If you recall in Genesis 50:20, we find Joseph, who was a godly young man, and he was preferred by his father because he was a blessing. The Bible tells us that his brethren hated him. They cast him into a pit and sold him into slavery. Then he was lied about and imprisoned. Then he was forgotten by the one man that could have helped him. Here he is in a strange land for a number of years. It didn’t look good for him, but four times in that passage of Scripture it says, “And the Lord was with Joseph.” Intertwined with all those negative circumstances, four times it says, “And the Lord was with Joseph.” If you gauged it like we do, if you looked at the circumstances in Joseph’s life, it didn’t look like God was within a million miles, but the Lord was with Joseph. God was at work in the life of Joseph. God was making a prime minister for Egypt. God was raising somebody up that could win the heart of the king of Egypt. God was making a refuge for His people, a place for them to go in the coming famine. God was doing some stuff behind the scenes. The things that God was doing were not immediate. They were down the road, but it took years of preparation. It took hardship. It took sorrow. It took affliction. It took betrayal. It took a number of things to make him what God intended for him to be.
Humility always comes before exaltation. God had to humble him so he could raise him up and use him. God had to bring him down so He could bless him. Joseph finally revealed himself to his brethren, and then his brethren, when their father died, were afraid of him. They thought, “Now that our father is gone, the only reason Joseph hasn’t done us in is because of Dad. Now that Dad is gone, we have had it.” They began to plead with him and tell him lies, telling him their father said this and their father said that. Do this; do that. Joseph was wise enough to understand that his brethren had evil intent, but they could not have done anything they had done to him without God permitting it. He said in Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Sometimes people that do things to you, their intent is evil, but God can take their evil intent and use it for His glory. God can take their evil intent and behind the scenes have a Divine will, and even though their intent is to destroy you, God can use the very thing that they intend to destroy you with to raise you up.
Paul said, “…the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;” He said, “A lot of things happened to me. Some of them weren’t very desirable.” As a matter of fact, many of them weren’t very desirable, but he said, “They have fallen out. The outcome, the end result has been the furtherance of the Gospel. It hasn’t been my destruction. I’m still here. God wasn’t going to grind me to powder with the circumstances.” Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” How many things? All things. That’s the good ones and the bad ones.
He didn’t say all things are good, but all things work together for good. How many of you like biscuits? I don’t eat more than half a dozen at a time. Biscuits have several ingredients. I’ll tell you what is really good. Go out to the kitchen and get in the flour bag. You get a big scoop of flour and put it in your mouth. Mmm. Isn’t that good? You don’t like flour? I thought you liked biscuits. It’s one of the main ingredients. Well, maybe one of the other ingredients. You may not like the flour, but I’ll tell you what is really good. The shortening in biscuits, go out there and scoop a big scoop of shortening out of the can. Ummm, yummy! Huh? You don’t like shortening either? I thought you like biscuits. You like biscuits but you don’t like any of the ingredients. Yet once they are all mixed together and go through the fire, you like the outcome.
That’s the way life is. It’s made up of a bunch of ingredients. Any single ingredient by itself may not be very palatable, but God knows what He is doing. All these things work together for good, for your good, for the common good, for the furtherance of the Gospel, for the glory of God. He knows what He’s doing. People get bitter because of one circumstance that’s unpalatable. The truth is if they’d let God do what He’s doing in their lives without getting bitter, they’d like the outcome. Paul said, “The things, mostly negative things, the things that have happened to me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel.” “…all things work together for good to them that love God,…”
In Luke 23, you’ll remember Calvary looked like defeat, didn’t it? The only reason I’m going to Heaven is because of something that was a bitter pill for the Son of God. He drank that cup gladly. The truth is He became sin for you and me. When He died there at Calvary, it looked like defeat, but it was victory. It wasn’t just victory for Him; it was victory for me and for you. It was eternal life for us. What happened at Calvary was necessary.
I don’t believe Jesus shrank from the suffering of Calvary physically. I think the thing that He shrank from in His heart was to become sin, the perfect, sinless Son of God. He said, “…Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:…” I hate sin. I don’t want to become sin. I’ve never touched anything defiling. Our fellowship has never been broken, but if this is the only way, if it will further the Gospel, if it will make salvation available to a bunch of sinners, “…not my will, but thine, be done.” There are a lot of times your will is in conflict with the furtherance of the Gospel. There are a lot of times that the things that you would like to happen cannot happen and the common good be served. It would be better for you, but worse for the cause. Can I remind you there is something bigger than all of us? There is a cause out there bigger than me, bigger than you, bigger than our ministry, bigger than our church, bigger than life. It’s big. That’s what Jesus came and died for.
In Acts 5, the Bible tells us that the apostles were beaten and threatened. Do you know what the outcome was? Jerusalem turned right-side up. The heathen crowd said they turned it upside down, but what they were doing was bringing people to repentance and turning it right-side up. It looked upside down to the heathen. It looked upside down to the religious lost, but really what they were doing was setting the record straight and turning people from sin to Christ, getting them born again. The Gospel was being furthered, but it wasn’t very palatable. It wasn’t very enjoyable for the apostles to be beaten, to be threatened.
In Acts 7 we find Stephen being stoned. There was a certain young man that held their garments while they stoned Stephen. His name was Saul. The Bible says as they stoned Stephen, his face was as the face of an angel. He said, “…Lord, lay not this sin to their charge…” He saw Jesus standing as he fell to his death, and testified verbally. There was a young man there that was a persecutor, who never got over what he saw. The things that happened to Stephen had fallen out to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. Do you remember when Paul finally met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus? Jesus said, “…it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” A prick was something kind of like the electric cattle prods today. If you’re moving animals, you use an electric cattle prod. In Biblical times, they used a pointed stick — a prick. Their intention was not to wound the animal, just to create enough discomfort to get them headed where they’re supposed to be. What the Lord said to Paul was, ever since the death of Stephen, you’ve been under conviction and fighting it. You’ve been kicking against the pricks. You’ve made it more painful than it had to be. You’ve wounded your own conscience by fighting conviction kicking against the pricks instead of cooperating and responding. What happened to Stephen was necessary. It wasn’t very palatable. Do you understand the Apostle Paul penned by the inspiration of God 100 chapters of the Bible? Do you realize he started dozens of churches in Asia Minor? Do you realize there are multitudes and multitudes of people saved because of the ministry that God gave the Apostle Paul? Do you understand that Stephen didn’t have 10,000 converts personally, but he did have one? It was the result of him taking the right stand with the right spirit, dying with grace. The things that happened unto him happened to the furtherance of the Gospel. One guy got saved that had been the enemy of the Gospel as a result of what happened to Stephen. Paul just never got over what he saw on that day.
In Acts chapter 8, the Bible tells us there was a great persecution. Do you know what happened? They went everywhere preaching the Word. They were driven out of Jerusalem by a persecution. They were pushed out of their homeland, driven from their roots and their moorings, but the end result was here they are going every direction but they’re taking the Gospel with them. They spread the Gospel everywhere. It wasn’t an easy thing that got the Gospel out; it was persecution. It was being driven from their homeland. The things that happened unto them were not things they would have chosen. Those things that happened were for the furtherance of the Gospel.
In Acts chapter 16, Paul and Barnabas had a demon possessed girl saved. It caused a great ruckus. The people were making a living on her calamity with her problem because she was reading fortunes and palms. She was into every kind of reading. Somebody was making wealth on that. The Bible tells us they got beaten up and thrown into prison for soulwinning. What happened? The Bible says that at midnight they praised God and sang praises and prayed. The Bible says the prisoners heard them. If they had been griping and complaining, the prisoners would have heard that, too. If they had been saying, “I just don’t know why God let this happen to me.” The prisoners would have heard that, too. They understood that there is a Divine plan in everything that happens unto us. They were doing the will of God and some bad stuff happened. They were doing the will of God and things they didn’t expect to happen happened, things they didn’t want to happen happened.
Do you know what the outcome was? They praised God and they prayed and got an answer. They had compassion on their enemy because when the fella was about to take his life Paul said, “…Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” That was after the earthquake that God sent in answer to prayer. That was after the bands had been loosed and the doors had been opened and they had been set free from their bonds. Do you know what happened? The jailor got saved. His family got saved. Revival broke out in the prison. If you don’t think revival broke out in that prison, just read the text. There was an earthquake and the doors were opened. The bands were loosed. It was midnight. Everybody was at liberty. They could have escaped. The jailor thought they had. “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” If you don’t think that is a revival, go to any state penitentiary, open the prison doors for about 15 minutes at midnight and see if you can say, “We’re all here.” I’m telling you, they weren’t worried about getting out. They wanted to find out who his God was, but Paul and Silas had to end up in prison for the furtherance of the Gospel. They had to be beaten and suffer hardship for the furtherance of the Gospel.
We’ve been listening to these charismatics so long we start believing the gospel of health, wealth, and prosperity, and if you’re right with God, nothing negative ever happens. That’s not so. Read your Bible. Everybody that is doing the will of God has some things come into their lives that they would not ask for, that they do not enjoy. God never requires you to enjoy the negative things, but He does want you to endure them and stay right with Him. He does want you to come to the conclusion that He’s smarter than you, and there is a Divine design to everything that He permits, and that there is good that will come from this even if you can’t figure it out.
In Daniel chapter 6, the Bible tells us that Daniel was cast into the den of lions, not a lion’s den. It could be an empty lion’s den, but he was dumped into a den of lions. The result was God protected him. I’m sure he had some anxious moments. They kept those lions pretty hungry. If you don’t think they were hungry, when Daniel was taken out and those who accused him were cast in it says that the lions had mastery of them and brake their bones before they hit the bottom of the pit. They didn’t even let them hit the ground before they started devouring them, but they didn’t harm Daniel. Why? Because God has control over all that stuff, but don’t get the idea he didn’t have some anxious moments. He was human like you. He didn’t care much for hungry lions, at least up close and personal. He wasn’t too excited about it. He wouldn’t have asked for that, but that’s what it took. He would not cease praying to save his life. He was willing to put his life on the line. The things that happened unto Daniel being cast into the den of lions, it did have an end. You say, “What happened?” When he got taken back out of the den of lions the king said, “I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.” (Daniel 6:26) It sounds to me like he got saved. If he didn’t, he sure got the fire scared out of him. He got the fear of God put in him, came to the realization that there is a living God. It’s Daniel’s God. Daniel had to go in a den of lions for that to be a reality.
When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were cast into the burning fiery furnace, I don’t imagine they were too excited about that. Another decree came from the king who declared that their God was the living God and it had impacted him. It affected his entire kingdom.
In Ruth 2:3, the Bible tells us when Ruth came back with Naomi “And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was…” Her hap — this just happened. This wasn’t planned. She didn’t know where she was. She had no motive or intention. She wasn’t trying to manipulate any circumstance. It just happened this way, but if you know the program of God you know about Boaz and Ruth. You know it didn’t just happen, but it tells us, “…and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.” The seedline of the Saviour. This Gentile girl got in right there. It wasn’t an accident, folks. There was design to it. As far as she was concerned it was her hap. She didn’t plan it, didn’t know what was planned. She just went out and found a place where she could glean after the reapers. God made sure she landed in the right spot.
The Lord knows what He is doing in our lives. Sometimes it’s our hap to suffer. Sometimes it’s our hap to prosper. Sometimes it’s our hap to be in a place, we don’t even know why we’re there. Certainly it’s our hap to be in a circumstance we can’t figure out and say, “I don’t know what good could come of this. I can’t see any good reason.”
Romans 11:25 talks about the blindness of Israel as a nation. “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” They’re blind. It’s kind of frustrating. I’ve been to Israel a couple times and tried to talk to some Jews. You can’t talk to them. It’s easier to talk to just about anybody than to talk to a Jew about the Gospel. They’re blind. They can’t see, but could I tell you the church age falls in that blind spot for them. God extended His grace to us. He’s coming back to them. Don’t worry about it. He hadn’t forgotten them. They’re still His chosen nation.
I’ve been working on a sermon on this subject, but I really believe a lot of the circumstances we’re facing with the weather and all these hurricanes, tornados, and natural disasters and earthquakes, we’ve been messing with that little nation of Israel. The Bible talks about the dividing of the land, and when you divide the land it’s going to bring judgment. That’s this road map. We just need to mind our own business and let them kill their own terrorists. Those Palestinians are a bunch of squatters from eight or nine countries. There are no Palestinian people. I defy you to find their history. It started in modern times with Yasser Arafat. They have no history beyond him. If you check their heritage, they come from eight or nine different Muslim nations. They didn’t live there once and were thrust out and came back to reclaim what was taken. They came as squatters to try to take away what was rightfully Israel’s. We need to stay out of that. That’s not our business. You let that sovereign nation take care of it. We start tampering trying to get Israel to give away what God placed in their hand, and God is going to deal with us. You mark her down. He’s serious about that little nation of Israel. We didn’t threaten them militarily. We just put so much financial pressure on them they went ahead and yielded. I believe we’re under judgment today because of that. Maybe it will bring us to repentance. Maybe it will bring a national revival. Maybe God will use some of these negatives to bring to pass the furtherance of the Gospel in America. We’ve just about become a heathen nation. We’re in a tragic state. I’ve never seen so much apathy and indifference among the people of God. Just total unconcern, everything else is more important. They squeeze God in on occasion, if they don’t have anything else to do, but everything else is back burner. We’re in a bad way spiritually in America, but that blindness was for the church age. He said, “…blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
In I Corinthians 10:11, speaking of the judgment of God on Israel He says, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” He said that everything that happened to the Old Testament Jew in judgment was done for an example to us and they’re written for our admonition. The reason God judged them was to give us fair warning, and He put it in Scripture so we’d know, so we’d be admonished by it. It was an example to us and an admonishment to us.
Do you remember the blind man in John chapter nine? The disciples came to Jesus and said, “Why is that man blind? Because of his sin or his parents’ sin?”
Jesus said, “Neither.” He wasn’t saying that the man or his parents had not sinned. He said that the affliction wasn’t because of sin. Do you know what He told them? “This man’s affliction is for the glory of God.” He said, “He had to be blind so I could heal him and show the power and glory of God.” This fella at random, it wasn’t because of something he had done wrong. It wasn’t because God was angry with him. This man had to be blind. It just was his hap to be blind, so that the Lord Jesus could give glory to the Father.
The truth is things don’t just happen, folks. I’ve broken down all over the world. I told my wife years ago, “Honey, I am going to get an airplane license.” She was serious. She said, “I’m not flying with you.” I said, “Why?” She said, “Every thing you get in breaks down. I want to break down on the ground.” So I never went and got my pilot’s license. That’s why I’m still alive.
I broke down everywhere in the world. You name it. I can show you spots all the way across 70 and 76 and 40. I’ve got spots all over the place, towns where I’ve been towed in, lost the rearend of the vehicle, lost the transmission, lost a clutch, lost the engine, lost a wheel. I’ve had preacherboys change tires and go ten miles and have wheels flying down through the median because they didn’t tighten the bolts. I’ve broken down all over the place, but do you know what? I have won people to Christ all over the place when I’ve been broke down. I didn’t always handle it real well. I don’t like this stuff. How dare God mess with my plans?
I was supposed to be in Phoenix for a Revival Fires Conference. I went to Martinsburg to catch my airplane. They told me that I wasn’t on the list. I said, “I’ve got to be on the list. Right here is my ticket. I bought it two months ago.”
They said, “Something happened and there is a glitch in the computer. You’re not in there.” I said, “You’ve got to get me on the plane.” They said, “We can’t. It’s full. There is another one going out in two hours.” I said, “Look, you’ve got to get me on this airplane.”
They told me that they’re not going to get me on the airplane. I was mad — I mean righteously indignant. I went over and sat down and crossed my arms and pouted. I was mad. Finally they got me on the next airplane, flew me to Pittsburgh. It was already clear. I’m not going to make it. I’m the main speaker in a Revival Fires Conference, co-hosting it. I’m not going to get there. I was mad. “You bunch of dumb bells. They can’t even keep your name in the computer. Throw the stinkin thing out and write it on a piece of paper.” I flew to Pittsburgh and they put me on this plane to Phoenix. Every seat is full. They jammed me in a seat on the aisle. There is a guy beside me and a guy at the window. The guy in front of me decides he wants to lay on my lap. He lays his seat down. Then the stewardess comes back the aisle and jams the cart up against my arm. She said, “Would you like something to eat?”
I said, “What would I do with it, sit it on his head? No, I don’t want anything to eat. I just want to get where I’m going.” I had a wonderful spirit She said, “Would you like something to drink?”
I thought about that for a minute. “Yes, Ma’am, I’ll take a cup of coffee.” She sat a cup of coffee down there. You’ve got to understand this guy is laying on me. I’ve got somebody tight against me on this side and the cart is here. I can’t touch my coffee. I’m just looking at it. The girl working the rows behind me tells the girl up in the front, “I need two bottles of wine.” She picks them up by the small neck and hands them to the girl back here who grabs them by the bottom and when she squeezed, they popped up in the air. I could see it happening, but I couldn’t do a thing about it. They hit my coffee and dumped the whole cup of hot coffee on my leg, and down on my seat. She said, “Oh, oh, I’m sorry.”
I said, “That fixed everything. It’s okay now. You’re sorry.” I’m soaked in coffee, missing my engagement. Then the fella beside me tried to console me. He said, “The same thing happened to me last week.” I said, “Really?” I wouldn’t even speak to him. I got great comfort out of the fact that somebody dumped coffee. I don’t care what happened to you last week. I’m sitting there stewing. I was just mad. I’m not talking to nobody. I’m sitting on the airplane and the Lord just smote my heart.
He said, “Dummy, what are you going out there to Phoenix for?” “I’m going out there to preach and try to challenge them people to be soulwinners and live for God.” “Like you’re doing?” “Well, you know.” I said, “Okay, Lord, ease up. I’ll talk to him.” Finally I turned to talk to this guy. I said, “Have you ever been saved?” He said, “What do you mean saved?”
I pulled my New Testament out and showed the old boy how to get saved.”
He got under conviction and just started sobbing. I said to him, “Now if you want to trust Christ, I’ll help you with a word of prayer, but you’ve got to mean it.” He said, “Okay.” I said, “Lord Jesus.” He yelled, “Lord Jesus!” Passengers are trying to get out on the wing, afraid to get contaminated by religion. The old boy got saved. He had been a Catholic. He was sitting there sobbing. He said, “You know. Now I’m ashamed of myself.” I said, “Why is that?” He said, “My first wife died a couple years ago. I wouldn’t let her go anywhere but the Catholic church. She never heard this.” I said, “Hopefully somebody told her sometime. I can’t promise you they did, but hopefully somewhere somebody told her about Christ and she got saved.”
About that time we landed. I stood up and got out of my seat, and out of my coffee. I stepped back so he could get out. He reached in his pocket and pulled out a hundred dollar bill and stuck it in my pocket. He said, “There you go, young man.” By the way, when I started talking to him, I asked what he was going to Phoenix for? He said, “I’m going to a Nascar race. He was an older guy, retired. He said, “I build seating. I put the seating in nine Nascar Supertracks. I have free passes for life to all of them. I’m just going to watch a race.”
Seriously what happened to me was I had a plan. My plan was to get on the first flight and get to Phoenix on time to preach. God said, “I’ve got a more important plan for you. There is a 78-year-old man that is lost on his way to Hell. He’s a Catholic and nobody will talk to him. I’m going to cancel your flight, and jam you on a plane next to him so you can talk to that guy.” God had to drag me through the mud and dump coffee on my lap so the guy would talk to me, since I wouldn’t talk to him.
The things that have happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel. It messed up my plan and ruined my day, but it made that man’s day once I finally got my heart right with God. Now I know you’re a lot more spiritual than me. You don’t get mad about stuff when it doesn’t go your way, right? I was having what I thought was a bad day, but it wasn’t the devil. God had a plan and somebody had to mess up the computer, bump me off of my flight, so I’d end up in that plane. When I got on there, I was so stinkin mad and rebellious I wouldn’t talk to the guy. So God dumped coffee on my lap, and when He dumped coffee on my lap, that guy talked to me and I still wouldn’t talk to him.
“What are you trying to say, Preacher?” I’m trying to tell you it wasn’t what I planned. God altered my plans and it just happened that way, but it didn’t just happen. The things that happened happened for the furtherance of the Gospel. If you cooperate with God, some good will come of all that stuff. Wouldn’t it be sad if you go through all that for the furtherance of the Gospel and you never further the Gospel? Wouldn’t it be sad if you get so upset about the circumstances that take place in your life, but you don’t complete the task that God put you in that circumstance to complete? Wouldn’t it be bad when you missed the whole purpose for the problem, and you still go through the hardship and nothing good happens?
About a month ago, I was trying to get to Memphis, Tennessee, and preach for Dr. Ron Westmoreland. I left here and flew to Philadelphia. When I got to Philadelphia, a storm blew in. I couldn’t get there. “What did you do?” I probably handed out 70 tracts. I witnessed to every gate agent, everybody else cussing. Do you know what they did? They sent me back home. Trip in vain. It wasn’t in vain. That’s the way they marked my ticket — trip in vain — no charge. They flew me back to Harrisburg. Brother Mark Mahan had to come get me at midnight. You say, “What happened? What good?” I don’t know. God flew me there and it wasn’t to get me to Memphis, because if He wanted me in Memphis I would have found a way to get to Memphis. I tried every option. If it had been up to me, I would have stayed at the house. I don’t have many days at the house. I would have rather stayed home than flown to Philadelphia and back at midnight. But the truth is something good will come of that. I may not know what it is till the Judgment Seat of Christ, but I witnessed to a dozen people. I handed out 70 tracts. It was a trip in vain according to their programming, but it wasn’t in vain.
“Well, it just happened.” It did, but things don’t just happen. Whatever God allows in your life is for the furtherance of the Gospel. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
by Dr. Bob Smith
Dr. Bob Smith is the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas
“Lord, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah. Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger. Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease. Wilt thou be angry with us for ever? wilt thou draw out thine anger to all generations? Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Psalms 85:1-6)
I believe the greatest need of our churches today is not more buildings or more buses. It’s not even more people. (Sometimes I think we’ve got too many of the kind we’ve got!) Our greatest need is for revival. For ten years I traveled across America in full-time evangelism. My goal in each meeting was for God to help me to see revival in the preacher. You see, no matter what happens in the church, if revival doesn’t come to the pulpit, it’s not going to last long in the church. Oh, there is such a need once again for old-fashioned, Bible-believing, fundamental, Baptist, soulwinning churches to be revived. We’re still doing the right things, going through the motions, but we’ve lost the joy of it. “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?”
This Psalm was written shortly after the 70 years of captivity in Babylon had ended. Israel had been far away from God, as far as a backslidden nation could get. This nation of God’s people, who believed in the One true God, had turned to worship idols. Because of Israel’s idolatry, God had raised up the nation of Babylon to bring judgment to sinning Israel. For 70 years they were chastened and humbled before God, and they cried out to Him for mercy and deliverance. For 70 years this backslidden people had endured the judgment of God until their sin of idolatry had been purged from their lives.
Now they’ve just been released from 70 years of captivity and they’re returning to their homeland. But God also wanted them to return to Him, as well. By the way, as you study prophecy, you have to look hard to find America in the future. Oh, yes, I believe a student of the Word of God can show you where she is, but I wonder what our future really does hold for us. As we turn away from God and away from the Word of God to live our own lives and pursue our own interests, I wonder what nation God is preparing to bring such judgment to this land. Don’t think that we’re immune. Don’t think that we are better than Israel and God would not chastise us. Don’t think that because you’re a fundamental, independent, premillennial, Bible-believing Baptist that God won’t chastise us because of our backsliding. Our sin is just as rotten in the sight of God as the sin of any people.
Psalm 85 is a song the people are singing. Scripture tells us that during the captivity, these Israelites had hung their harps on the willows. Israel was a singing people, but long before they were in captivity they had lost their song. Sin and idolatry had stolen it away from them. Now after 70 years of living as captive slaves in a strange, pagan land, they’re released and going back to their homeland, and they’re singing and praising God again. What will it take for us to get our song back? Have you lost your song? You can tell a lot about a person by listening to him sing. I believe we live on the level of the music we listen to. How we sing and to whom we sing reveals a lot about our heart and our relationship with God. Look at the Psalm they were singing. Remember they had turned away from God to idols, and now they are returning to their homeland, to their God, and singing once again. Our worship, our praise, our thanksgiving, our singing ought not just be about Him. It ought to be to Him. Whether we be a choir at church or a person singing a solo or a duet from the platform, we ought to be singing to Him, not just entertaining people.
Notice what they were singing, rejoicing over God’s forgiveness of their sin. “Lord, thou hast been favourable unto thy land: thou hast brought back the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people,…” The most singing people in the world ought to be fundamental Baptist people who know they’re saved and can shout on purpose instead of having to shout on credit. Most of the shouting religions don’t even know for sure they’re saved, but these folks were singing and rejoicing over God’s forgiveness of their sins. They understood that when God forgives sin, He covers it, blots it out, never to be remembered again. Notice, “… thou hast covered all their sin.” That verse alone ought to be enough to bring revival! However, we’ve gotten to the place, we don’t act like we’ve got sin anymore. We act like we were born holy and we’ve always been holy. God picked me up out of the gutter. If God gave me the best I deserve, it would be Hell. But thank God because of His amazing grace and His redeeming love, the only thing I’ll ever know about Hell is what I read in the Bible. My sin is not only forgiven, but it’s covered, blotted out, never, ever to be remembered again.
They also understood that when God forgives sin, the wrath of God against that sin is taken away. That’s what it says in verse three. “Thou hast taken away all thy wrath: thou hast turned thyself from the fierceness of thine anger.” Do you understand if you’re saved today, the closest thing to Hell you’ll ever know is right here in this life? After this life, it’s Heaven. It’s glory hallelujah time. When sinners are purified, God is pacified.
Look at their song in verse four. “Turn us, O God of our salvation, and cause thine anger toward us to cease.” They understood that when sin is forgiven, God is no longer angry with the sinner.
Now God’s people are praying for revival. “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” Notice the word again. I’m not a great student. I’m a country boy that’s been transported to the city. I was born on a farm in Myrtle Springs, Texas. I like what the old country preacher said about this. He said, “I know this is for Christians, because you can’t get revived, if you’ve never been vived.” The Psalmist is saying, “The fire is gone out. Would You light the fire again?” Would you stir the soul again?” Let me tell you a simple definition of revival. A revival is simply coming back to the place as a Christian where God can fill you with His Holy Spirit once again. Revival is getting right with God.
We read in Ephesians 5:18 where He tells us, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” But we fail to read the preceding verses where He tells us to get sin out of our life. He even goes so far as to say, “Don’t even let it be mentioned or named among you. Get busy serving God, and redeem the time, and live in the will of God.” Then we can experience the filling of the Holy Spirit. God’s not going to fill us to continue in our backslidden ways. He’s looking for a consecrated vessel, a dedicated vessel, a clean vessel, a useable vessel, an available vessel. There was a time when they were right with God and on fire for God, but idolatry had put out the fire. Worldliness, carnality puts out the fire of God in our lives.
You can throw dirt on a fire, and it will put it out every time. The dirt of sin will put out the fire of revival in your life and in your heart. Sin separates us from God and His blessings. They once served God, but now they were cold and empty, like so many Christians today who used to serve God. Now after captivity, after God dealing with their backslidden heart for all these years, after most dying in captivity, they’ve gotten over their idolatry and gotten right and come back to God. They’re crying out, “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” When we backslide we lose our relationship with God. We don’t lose our sonship; we lose our fellowship. We lose our power. We lose His blessings. We lose our usefulness to God.
When we get away from God, we also lose our happiness, our song, our laughter, and our joy. Do you know the reason there is no excitement in the average church today? It’s because there is no joy. We need revival that will put the joy back in our heart. I’m not talking about one of these foolish revivals of laughter that’s going around, that un-Biblical, un-Christian nonsense where they bark like dogs and laugh. No, I’m talking about a joy unspeakable and full of glory that floods our soul, that comes only when God and His Holy Spirit takes the driver’s seat of our life.
I have the privilege of pastoring an exciting church. In 18 years we’ve seen people saved and baptized every week but one Sunday. But yet, I know my people, and I know there are areas in my church where we need revival. I’ve watched some cool off, then it’s not long until I’m counseling marriage problems or children problems. Some are now doing things they once gave up at an altar for God. Others are content now to do nothing, when they used to be faithful servants. Still others are beginning to miss some services. This grieves the pastor and breaks your heart. You see them beginning to slip and you preach your heart out and do everything you know how to stop it, but there is nothing you can do until they fall on their face and cry out, “Oh, God, Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” I suspect even in this Wednesday night crowd, there are some preachers and laymen, some men and women, some Bible college students and some teenagers that need revival down deep in their soul. You’re not what you ought to be. You’re not what you used to be. You’re not what you could be. You go through some motions, but the joy is gone. Oh, may God bring us back to that place where more than bread to eat or air to breathe, we want His presence, His power, His touch, His breath upon our life. “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?”
Consider some things with me, some false ideas about a God sent revival.
#1. A revival is not something you can schedule on a calender, nor is it something an evangelist can bring with him in his suitcase. It’s not just a series of meetings and sermons. Now sometimes revival comes when that takes place, but not always. Most of the great revivals in history started before the preacher got there because people began to get right with God and began to pray and cry out for God to change their heart and change their life. A revival is a return to the place where the Holy Spirit of God can fill us with His power and take control of our lives again.
By the way, who is in charge of your life, preacherboy? Who is in charge of your life, pastor, evangelist, missionary? Who is running the show in your life, church member? Before God can fill us with His Spirit, we’ve got to give Him charge of our lives once again.
#2. Revivals do not always produce good feelings at first. “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” Joy does not always come immediately. In the process of revival taking place, God must deal with us about our sin. Because we’re stiff-necked and hard-hearted and rebellious, God has to deal harder and harder.
When I was a boy growing up, Daddy would first say, “Son.” That ought to have been enough. When it ended up, he grabbed me by the arm and took me to the barn and took the lines off the harness and tore my hide up. It hurt. Sometimes God has to tear our hides up before He can get our attention. Revival doesn’t always bring shouting right away. Most of the time it brings weeping and sorrow and grieving over sin. But you see, we don’t grieve over sin anymore because we’re fundamental Baptists. We seem to think it’s not all that bad if I do it. Learn this truth, friend. Sin is not bad because of its name or the number of sins that you commit. Sin is bad because of its nature. It is rebellion against God. It’s rotten and hellish in His sight. Revival doesn’t always come when we want it to come, or the way we want it to come.
Revival is never on man’s terms. It’s always on God’s terms. God has given us instruction in His Word, “This is the way to have revival.” But we seem to have the opposite in mind. “God, You either do it my way or else”. God is not going to compromise one principle of His Word to send revival to our backslidden souls. If we want revival, then we’ve got to come back to God and His Word and seek revival His way. The most popular verse about revival in the Bible is II Chronicles 7:14. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” We preach against the NIV’s and the American Standard’s and all of those other perversions of Scripture, and we should. But when we read our King James we change it. We want it to say, “If My people which are called by My name… then I will hear from Heaven and forgive your sins.”
God says, “There are five things My people have to do if I’m going to visit them with a Holy Ghost revival.” Boy, the first one is hard for us fundamental Baptists. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves,…” Most of us have so little humility. If somebody gave us a badge for being humble, we’d gladly wear it. If My people humble themselves.
“…and pray,…” Uh, oh, there’s the killer in the average Baptist church. “…and pray,…” I can get a crowd with a dinner. I can get a good crowd with a conference. But you call a prayer meeting and you have to work hard to get enough to qualify for Jesus’ presence, ‘where two or three are gathered together.’ Someone said, “The crowd on Sunday morning reveals the popularity of the church in its community. The crowd on Sunday night reveals the popularity of the preacher in the church, but the crowd at prayer meeting reveals the popularity of Jesus Christ in our lives.” We want revival, but we want it on a garage sale basis — cheap. We’re just not willing to pay the price. I was in Mexico one time and heard a salesman saying, “Cheap crosses, cheap crosses.” The cross didn’t come cheap, and revival doesn’t come cheap, either.
“…humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face,…” We seek His blessings, but He says, “…seek my face,…” Paul didn’t say, ‘Oh, that I might know your blessings.’ Paul said, “That I may know him…” Seek His face. The world in lust looks at a woman’s body. A man in love looks at the face of his wife. A Christian in love with Jesus wants that face-to-face relationship. Seek My face — a love relationship with Jesus.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways;…” Leave them behind. It’s not just saying what you did wrong, but it’s breaking ties with it. Israel did not get their song back as long as they held on to their idols. It took them 70 years to turn from their wicked idolatry, but now they’re coming back home, singing again to the one true God. “…turn from their wicked ways…”
“…then…” Circle it. Then, not until, “…then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” We’re fighting homosexuality and abortion and un-Biblical unions. We’re preaching and skinning, and we ought to. We want them to turn from their wicked ways, but what sin are you holding on to today that you’re not willing to turn away from? And we want revival? Why should God answer our prayers, when we don’t think our sins are all that bad? We are no different than these backslidden church members who don’t think their sins are all that bad. They have no understanding of the Word of God and evidently we don’t either, or we’d realize how rotten sin is to the sight of God, even our sins, preachers and leaders. “…turn from their wicked ways…”
Realize that a revival requires a return to God. Let me just give three or four things quickly in reference to this.
#1. Revival is a return to Christ as our first love. Now I have to be careful or I’ll get in the flesh over this. I’ve heard right here in this service several cell phones going off. At Dr. Hyles funeral I sat in the auditorium. Three cell phones went off during the funeral, and people pulled them out and answered them, and carried on a conversation in the auditorium during the funeral. We come to church and leave our cell phone clipped on. Let me ask you. If you were going deer hunting, would you climb up in your deer stand with your cell phone on? No, it would scare off the deer. There wouldn’t be a deer within 50 miles of my deer stand. Deer hunting is important enough to turn off your cell phone, right? But you come to church with your cell phone on, and it rings, and you get up and leave church to answer it. You’re not coming to church to meet with God. He’s not first in your life. Somebody is more important than God because we clipped it on our belt and left it on, where we can hear from them. We may never hear from God. I hate those phones. One went off not long ago during the invitation on Sunday morning. I said, “Sir, it’s God telling you that you ought not come to church with that cell phone on.” We talk about wanting a relationship with Him, but we can’t even get through a church service without the phone pulling us away. What’s worse is we leave God to answer some dumb salesman, or some crazy neighbor or friend that’s not even in church. You say, “Preacher, I’m a doctor.” Then put the thing on vibrate. Sit at the back, and when it vibrates, slip out the door before you answer it. I promise you, there is nothing happening in my life or in my church more important than God visiting with me in the midst of a preaching service. We are never going to have revival until we turn that dumb thing off and tune in to God. I’m talking about a return to Christ. I’m also talking about having enough respect for the house of God and the Word of God to turn off your phone for an hour and tune in to what’s going on right here. We’ve left our first love.
I promise you when I got married and got to spend some time with my bride, the phone wasn’t going to interrupt me. If your love relationship with Him is what it ought to be, you’ll make sure the phone doesn’t keep you from Him. If there is going to be a revival, there has got to be a return to our first love. It’s got to be Jesus. It can’t be gadgets. It’s got to be Jesus. It can’t be a fad. Fundamentalists are fools for fads. We forsake the Word of God and the methods of God for the latest fad coming out of California, or somewhere else. Stick with the Book and the methods of God and the programs of God. Revival is a return to Christ as first love.
#2. Revival is a return to the first Book. There are people in our churches who read through the entire newspaper every morning. I promise, if you’ll read through a newspaper, the size of the newspaper in Louisville, it would be nearly equivalent to reading through the New Testament every morning. Let me tell you our sin, we who are fundamental Baptists, the preacher’s sin. We read all the books about the Bible. Now we’ve got all the programs we can put on our little computer, to read all the commentaries and sermons others have preached. Our sin is going to what others say about the Bible and not to God and what He says about the Bible. When we return to our first love, we’ll return to the first Book — the final rule of authority in all matters of faith and practice, the Supreme Court of the Christian life, and there is only one Judge sitting at that bench.
#3. Revival results in a return to the first work. The first work is that of reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If we don’t return to Jesus as our first love and return to the Bible as our first Book and return to the first work, that of reaching people with the Gospel, what purpose do we have to exist as a church? Jesus didn’t establish the church so we could have weddings and funerals and baby showers and wedding showers. He established the church and empowered the church and commissioned the church to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. The Great Commission of Jesus Christ tells us that the first work is evangelizing and then baptizing those we win, and teaching those we baptize. We have no right to exist if we haven’t returned to Him as our first love, or if we don’t return to Him as our first love and don’t go to the Book as our first Book and go back to the first work.
Jesus said, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5) You say, “Preacher, I don’t know what that means.” We major on the first part of it. The first love and the first work, but we forget the “or else” part of it. Revelation 1:20 tells us the the candlestick is the church. I think what He’s saying here if we, as a church, don’t return to Him, if we don’t have revival and return to Jesus as our first love and the Bible as the first Book that we love, and to the first work, He’ll yank our charter. I think there are a lot of churches running around with Baptist church on the name, but they’re not His church. He’s removed His candlestick. Yes, they’re having church so called. They’re meeting. They’re having services, but He’s not the first love. The Bible is not the first Book, and they’re not given to the first work. The need today is for God’s people, not the world, not the infidel and in-for-Hell, but for God’s people to cry out, “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” Revival is a return to the first love, the first Book, the first work.
#4. Revival is a return to right living which is holy living. Holy living is not extraordinary, but normal for the Christian life. Prayer is a part of revival. If you’re going to have revival, it’s got to start with prayer, not praying for others, but praying for yourself first. Isn’t it easy to pray about someone else’s sins? It’s so easy to kneel at an altar and name every sin old Brother So And-So has. It’s not going to help me.
I was preaching a campmeeting down in Georgia one time. A little old woman came from out of the mountains. Her Bible had a string tied around it because it was just worn out and in pieces. Her husband came with her, and he got right with God that night. He said, “Preacher, I just drew a circle, got in it, and said, “God, the problem with our church is inside this circle. Would You straighten out that sinner inside this circle? Would You forgive me?” If we’re going to have a revival it’s going to be connected with prayer that first turns its attention on our own careless, carnal lives. We need to pray as David prayed in Psalm 51, “Forgive me,” as he prayed in Psalm 139, “Search me,” as David prayed in Psalm 51:2, “Cleanse me.” When true revival comes, God’s people will not only want forgiveness, they’ll want cleansing from their sins. Most of us just want God to forgive us as we go on in our wickedness. Cleansing washes it from us. How can dirty Christians have fellowship with a holy God? To walk with God there has got to be agreement, and the first thing we’ve got to agree on is sin. The first thing a sinner and God have got to agree on in the matter of salvation is sin. We’ve got to know that we’ve been cleansed by the blood of Christ first and foremost. This brings forgiveness of our sin and covers our sin in God’s sight.
Secondly, there needs to be the kind of cleansing that we do when we clean up our old rotten life, the dirty corners, instead of kicking it under the rug. Get it out of the house. Clean up. Turn from their wicked ways. We can’t ignore our sin and have revival.
Revival will result in a desire for God to use me. “…Here am I; send me.”
There are some visions we need on the road to revival. I’m not talking about this spooky, charismatic vision type stuff. I’m talking about the Bible type where it says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish:…” (Proverbs 29:18) The Biblical interpretation of that verse is this: Where there is no divine revelation from God, the people perish. We need some understanding from the Book. We need to see things once again through God’s eyes, through the Bible picture that He paints for us. As Bible believers there is one fundamental rule. We don’t go to Hollywood for our Bible knowledge. We go to the Book. Now I’m grateful when God will use anything to get somebody saved or get them interested in salvation.
I had a phone call last week from a person that got saved 20 years ago in our ministry but had never really done anything with their life. They said, “Preacher, we’re in this church that took us all to see that movie, ‘The Passion of Christ.’ I was amazed because when I got saved, you painted the picture of Calvary in more vivid details than they showed it.” Where do you get the understanding of what Calvary was like? Not from Hollywood, not from a Catholic, but from the Book that paints the complete picture and tells the complete story. There are some visions we need on the road to revival. The first one is the vision of the crucified and exalted Christ. Yes, He came. Yes, He died. Yes, He was buried and yes, thank God, He arose again, but it didn’t stop there. Before He came down here in the form of a man, He was God. He was God eternal and God holy and God everlasting from that way in eternity to that way in eternity, everlasting.
Now then, He’s in Heaven. He ascended back to the Father and the vision we ought to have of Him is painted by John in Revelation 5:6. “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.” Seated at the right hand of God, the King of glory, God eternal, holy, holy, holy, God because of us is now in the form of a man that’s been crucified. He appears as a bloody Lamb that’s been to the slaughter. Did it ever occur to you that the only man made thing that I know that’s going to be in Heaven are the scars in His hands and feet and brow and side? We need a vision of Christ exalted. Angels fall down before Him. Seraphims and Cherubims stand amazed in His presence with their face covered, and we treat Him so carelessly and flippantly. He never died for them, never gave one penny for them, but He took on our form and came down to this old wicked world and died in our place and endured the wrath of God against our sin in His own holy person, so you and I wouldn’t have to go to Hell. We need a vision of Christ exalted, high and lifted up, as that Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
We need a vision of sinners perishing in the lake of fire. Yes, we believe in Hell, but we don’t live like it. We don’t act like it. We don’t preach like it.
I was in a lawyer’s office one day and he leaned across the desk and said, “Preacher, what ever happened to Hell?”
I said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “Nobody ever preaches about it.”
I said, “Let me tell you what’s happened to it. The Bible says, ‘Therefore hell hath enlarged herself,…’ (Isaiah 5:14) There are more people going there every day, but we don’t preach about it. It’s not politically correct anymore.” John, once he got a glimpse in Revelation of that lake of fire, was never the same again. We need an understanding, a Bible vision of sinners perishing in Hell forever and ever and ever. Most everything we know about Hell came from the lips of Jesus Himself. Jesus said in Mark 9 that if your hand offends you, if your hand keeps you from getting saved and causes you to go to Hell, you’d be better off to cut off your hand and go through life with one hand maimed than go to Hell where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched. If your foot offends you, if your foot hinders you from getting saved and living for God, you’d be better off to take an ax and cut off your foot and go through life lame and hobbled, rather than going to Hell with two feet, where the fire is never quenched and the worm never dies. Then He said that if your eye offends you, if your eye keeps you from getting saved, you’d be better off stick your fingers in the socket and tear your eye out and throw it to the ground and go through life with one eye and get saved, rather than go to Hell with two eyes, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched. Yet, we’re coming to the place where we’re following the lead of the liberal Baptists that are taking the fire out of Hell, and now it’s just separation from God. Friend, we need a vision of the lake of fire and lost sinners perishing in Hell.
Lastly, we need a vision of a church that’s empowered by the Holy Spirit of God, a revived church. You say, “Where do I get that vision?” Acts 2 lets us know that it was a powerful church, where souls were won daily. Acts 4, it was a church in unity and unselfish in their giving. Acts 13, it was a church were men were being called out to the ministry. Does that describe your church? A church on fire with the power of God, a church where souls are getting saved daily, a church in unity that is unselfish and sacrificial in its giving, a church where men are being called out to preach the Gospel and go as missionaries, or is it a church that just meets? It had a lot of cell phones go off, but God never shows up. No longer are there wet spots at the altar from the tears of God’s people. You seldom have to worry about the baptistry heater burning out because you don’t ever use it. You don’t have to worry about repainting because there are not enough coming to church to make hand marks on the wall, or wear out the pews. Folks, it doesn’t have to be that way, if we’d come back to Him. Churches don’t have to be dead and dried up and sour-pussed.
“Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” Boy, it’s wonderful when God shows up. It’s wonderful when people weep their way back into His fellowship. It’s wonderful when husbands and wives are getting right with each other and committing to raise their families for God. It’s wonderful when adults as well as children are making their way to the baptistry to get ready for baptism because they got saved. It’s wonderful when 10 and 15 and 20 and 30 young men and young ladies are surrendering their lives to God for His special use every year. It’s wonderful. It can happen, but not until God shows up. “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” Rejoice in Thee, not in things. Rejoice in Him. It’s about Him, not us. “Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?”
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