Comments Off on Building Churches or Centers of Convenience by Dr. Terry Anglea
“And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi. And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.” (I Kings 12:26-33)
Israel, God’s chosen, is now a divided kingdom, just like God prophesied because of their sin and idolatry. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became the king after his death, and preferred the influence of his young punk friends over the wise counsel that was given to him by the older, wiser, more experienced statesmen. When Rehoboam allowed his pride and arrogance to threaten and burden the people with a heavier load and even higher taxes, a rebellion took place that tore the nation in two.
Remember that it was the result of their sin which resulted in the dividing of the kingdom into two nations. You’ve got the northern kingdom that was made up of ten tribes and it retained the name of Israel. Jeroboam, a long-standing enemy to Solomon’s kingdom, became its king. Then you have the southern kingdom made up of two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, and it took the name of Judah. Rehoboam was its king.
For the first time as king of the northern kingdom, Israel, Jeroboam had a crowd. He had ten tribes under his leadership. He was excited. Many people were calling him king, maybe, “Your Majesty,” and no doubt that pleased him immensely.
But for all of his excitement, Jeroboam was still uneasy. God’s designated place of worship was Jerusalem. There was a Temple there and God had designated that all of the worship, the offerings, the feasts, and sacrifices be centered there at the Temple in the city of Jerusalem. God has always had a designated place of worship. That was God’s appointed place for them. In the New Testament, God has given us the local church. Though you can worship God in more places than just at church, you cannot scripturally worship God without a right relationship with His church.
The problem Jeroboam saw was that Jerusalem was located in the southern kingdom of Judah. Jeroboam began to contemplate this situation, and he thought, “You know if the people in my kingdom here in the north continue to travel to the south, to Rehoboam’s kingdom, in order to worship God, celebrate a feast, make a sacrifice, all those things that are so much a part of life for Israelites, there could be trouble for my kingdom.” He decided that something was going to change.
The Bible says in I Kings 12:28 that he took counsel. Though it doesn’t say with whom he counseled, obviously he didn’t receive good godly counsel. Like most people I know, Jeroboam probably asked counsel of people that would give him the advice he wanted to hear. I’ve learned that’s what happens most of the time with counseling. People don’t want the preacher’s counsel or advice unless he agrees with what they already want to do.
After the counsel he received, Jeroboam decided how he was going to ‘solve’ this problem that might threaten his reign. He took two calves of gold, two idols. He put one in Dan and one in Bethel. Then he told the people of his kingdom, “You need to worship here,” and they began to do so.
I’m sure that the people were not without blame. They knew better than to worship golden calves. Their forefathers had done that when they came out of the land of Egypt, and they were well acquainted with the history of the judgment that fell because of it. They knew better than to go to Bethel. They knew better than to go to Dan. They knew God commanded them to go to the Temple in Jerusalem. I don’t think the people are without blame, but I believe with all of my heart that the greatest blame falls on Jeroboam. He was their king. He was their leader. He had a self-centered motive for not wanting them to worship in the place where God had commanded them to worship.
CONVENIENCE RATHER THAN COMMITMENT
Once Jeroboam decided that he wanted the people of the northern kingdom to worship at Dan and Bethel instead of going to Jerusalem, he made a plan to convince the people that this would be better for them, and here is how he did it. He offered the people convenience as opposed to commitment. He said in verse 28, “…It is too much for you…” It involves too much commitment. It is too much work. It’s too far. It’s too much labor. It’s too much sacrifice. It’s too costly. It takes too much time. It involves way too much commitment.
Now friends, preachers especially, I guess that is where my burden is with this message today. We need to understand that a life of following Jesus Christ will never be convenient. It always has, it does now, and it always will require commitment. Let me ask you which one of these terms would better define Jesus’ life and ministry on earth — convenient or commitment? I think it is pretty obvious the answer to that question. His was a life of commitment. I remember Jesus saying to us, recorded for us in the Word of God, that the servant is not greater than his Lord. If the Lord Jesus Christ lived a life of commitment as opposed to a life of convenience, then what is expected of His followers? We are never going to build followers of Jesus Christ by offering them convenience as opposed to commitment.
It takes an extremely principled person to say, “No” when they are offered convenience as opposed to commitment. Most folks could not make the right choice. It’s too easy to want easy. That’s why I place the greater blame for this on their leader, Jeroboam. He was the leader, the king. He offered the people convenience as opposed to commitment, and most people can’t turn that offer down.
Brethren, we cannot build followers of Jesus Christ and by the way, that is our goal. As preachers, our job is to build up, edify, strengthen, and grow saved people, from the point of being a new convert, a baby Christian, to the point of maturity where they become strong in the faith, becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. I am for building our churches, our ministries, as big as we possibly can, provided that we do it God’s way. I’m for reaching as many people and keeping as many of them as we can, and becoming as big as we possibly can get, but I am not for doing that at the sacrifice of building followers of Jesus Christ.
Preachers, we need to stop and ask ourselves what goal we are pursuing. Are we laboring together with God to build His church, or are we simply chasing big numbers by building centers of convenience? Our nation has many huge centers of convenience being established all over this country, in every major city, and even in a lot of small towns. No matter what vicinity you travel to, there are at least one or two centers of convenience where a pastor, a leader, has decided to major on attracting a big crowd. Many of them have succeeded. There are a lot of resources out there at your disposal, if all you are interested in is drawing a crowd. At least one of their number, from one their flag ship ministries, has publicly admitted that they have succeeded at attracting a crowd, but they have a failed at building committed followers of Jesus Christ.
My great concern is that I’m watching independent Baptist brethren copy their ways and adopt their philosophies and their methods. Preacher, and especially young preachers here today, don’t get your eyes on their huge buildings and complexes and their beautiful landscaped properties and their paved parking lots and their huge crowds. You sit there, maybe in a smaller building with a gravel parking lot and half the lights are working and half the lights aren’t working, and you get your eyes on that, and you begin to wonder how he got all that and how did he get to that point and how did he get that many people. When you begin looking at the methods he used to attract that crowd, you understand that he offered them convenience rather than commitment.
Maybe you are a young pastor, and for the first time after starting a church or taking a small work that was struggling and had problems, after you began to win souls, and visit, and work and you began to have successful outreach ministries, now you have finally got a pretty good crowd. You begin to think to yourself, “You know I’ve got to keep this crowd.” In order to keep the crowd, you begin to make things convenient for them, because you don’t want to lose your crowd. It doesn’t take long for the shift to take place. You begin to build a center of convenience rather than a center of commitment.
That’s what Jeroboam did. That’s what, I’m afraid, many preachers in America are starting to do. Let me show you some things that Jeroboam did in this kingdom to build a center of convenience as opposed to a center of commitment, some of the same things that we, as God-called preachers and leaders, need to guard against.
#1. HE DESIRED THE PEOPLES’ LOVE AND LOYALTY. Look at verse 27. “If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam…” He was worried that the peoples’ hearts would be turned to Rehoboam instead of him. He didn’t want that. In fact, he was more concerned about their love for himself than their love for God. Brethren, what he should have been concerned about was turning the heart of his people to the Lord, building their devotion and their commitment to God. I don’t know what you think, but I believe with all of my heart that we are living in the last of the last days. I believe that Jesus could come at any moment. I believe with all of my heart it is high time for us to build folks who are committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, people who want to serve Him and carry His Gospel message around the world. But Jeroboam was much more concerned with their loyalty to him, so in order to get the people to love him and remain loyal to him, Jeroboam catered to convenience over commitment.
I think I’m like most any other normal pastor in this room. I hope the people of Faith Baptist Church love me. I even hope the people of Faith Baptist Church like me! I’m not of the sort that wants everybody to hate me. I don’t believe there is any merit in making enemies on purpose. But I decided a long time ago, I will not, by the grace of God, hold back on the truth in order to win their favor. Pleasing God has to come first before pleasing people. We have to be careful.
I was at the national Revival Fires! conference a few years back, and I heard Brother Fugate and Brother Corle both say something like this. I’m not quoting exactly, but paraphrasing. “Preachers, don’t plan your church schedule and calendar to suit your carnal people.” That registered with me. Because I think all of us, pastors, when we are getting ready to plan a church calendar or plan some things throughout the year at our church, when we begin to think about doing this spiritually minded event or activity, conferences, or soulwinning outreaches, or special soulwinning emphasis days, prayer meetings, revival meetings, we begin to think, “How many folks will come? How many guys will show up? How many of our people will participate and get involved?”
If we are not careful, we will neglect to schedule spiritually minded activities on our church calendar because we don’t want to make it inconvenient for the carnal people. Brother Corle has said, “Your spiritual people cannot survive on what your carnal people will tolerate. You have to plan and provide what your spiritual folks need, and the carnal folks are going to hit and miss anyway, so they will get some of it, too.” Friend, if you make all your plans based on the carnal, or less spiritual, Christians, you’ll begin to cater to convenience. “It’s too much. It’s too hard. It’s too much work. It’s too much this. It’s too much that.” We make a big mistake when we cater to convenience over commitment, trying to get the people to like us, trying to get them to build their loyalty and allegiance to us. It’s not about us, preacher friend. It’s about their allegiance and loyalty and faithfulness to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I was in a meeting not long ago and heard one of the preachers say, “Two or three times a year we’ll have an all night prayer meeting at our church.” The Spirit of God spoke to my heart and convicted me. I was part of some all night prayer meetings when I was in Bible college, though they were not structured or scheduled. Sometimes they just kind of fizzled out and men would fall asleep. I had never done an all-night prayer meeting. The Spirit of God said, “You know, you ought to do that at Faith Baptist Church.”
When we planned our calendar, we scheduled two all night prayer meetings for this year. We had our first one in March and I was concerned about how many men would come. We prayed from 10:30 at night to 5:00 in the morning on Saturday. We had it structured, with a Bible lesson on prayer, then 45 minutes of prayer for specific things. We broke it up into seven categories. We prayed for specific things and specific purposes and specific people. We prayed for many who are unsaved. We prayed for our college kids. We prayed for our teenagers. We prayed for our church families. We prayed for the men of our church. We prayed for our missionaries. We prayed for the state of Illinois. We broke for 20 minutes at one point and had some refreshments. Then we came back and sang some songs and had another lesson on the subject of prayer.
Honestly, the night just flew. We started out with 28 men and had as many as 35 different men come and go throughout the night. Some of the guys couldn’t come because of their work schedule. I understand that. We ended up with about 22 guys who stayed all night from 10:30 at night to five o’clock in the morning. We’ve already seen unbelievable answers to prayer from that prayer meeting. I never will forget the fight, the war, that took place in my heart to even put it on the calendar. “They won’t come. They won’t participate. It’s not convenient to pray for six hours through the night.” Following Jesus Christ and having the power of God on our churches has never been a matter of convenience. It has always been a matter of commitment.
The truth of the matter is that the activities and events that require the greatest commitment, those produced the greatest joy and the greatest satisfaction. I have found that the closer a person’s heart grows to their Lord, the more they appreciate their pastor. That’s not the goal, that’s just a by-product. You can cut out some things to try to gain this and that, but when you start catering to convenience as opposed to commitment, preacher, you are making a bad trade. If you develop a calendar for the carnal folks and you cater to convenience in order to win their loyalty to yourself, you will disappoint and deprive your spiritual people, and those carnal people will still pick you apart in the end.
King Jeroboam, their leader, desired their loyalty for himself, so he appealed to their desire for convenience over commitment.
#2. HE LOWERED THE STANDARDS FOR LEADERS. I see a second thing that Jeroboam did in his kingdom to make it a center of convenience. He diluted the requirements for leaders. Look at verse 31. “And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.” Don’t tell me Jeroboam didn’t know God’s requirements for those who were to serve as priests. They had to come from the tribe of Levi. God set that up. Even for the Levites, God gave many specific commands. He had established that many years earlier. The whole tribe of Levi had been given to the Lord, the priestly order.
Now there is no difference in the worth of every soul in our churches. The worth of their soul is not determined by the color of their skin, their educational opportunities, their financial standing, or their place in the classes of our communities. The worth of every soul is found in the fact that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. There is a difference in the amount of dedication and commitment that people will put forth for the Lord Jesus Christ. If someone has a desire to serve God, then they need to grow and commit and become what God says His leaders are suppose to be. We have to be careful as pastors that we don’t dilute the requirements for the leaders, teachers, and examples in our ministries.
Paul gave Timothy a charge to commit leadership to faithful men. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (II Timothy 2:2) Paul also told Timothy, “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” (I Timothy 5:22) I’m glad that doesn’t mean you can’t that you can’t pop somebody in a hurry when it’s necessary! Seriously, when he said, “Lay hands suddenly on no man” he was instructing Timothy to be careful about who you laid hands on to ordain them to the Gospel ministry. Don’t make those decisions in haste.
You make sure he is a faithful man. You see, a preacher must be wise about the people he puts in positions of leadership.
Let me give you the wrong philosophy. The wrong philosophy is this. “In order to keep people, I’ve got to give them something to do. Unless they have a position, they won’t stay.” Listen very carefully. There are some responsibilities that any new Christian can just jump into and grab hold of. Get them involved in the soulwinning outreach. Even if all they know how to do is put some tracts in their pocket and go stand on the corner and pass out Gospel tracts. Get the ladies involved in serving in the nursery. There are work days and cleaning responsibilities and times to work on the buses or make repairs or paint in the buildings. There are places where new Christians can jump in and help serve and be a blessing, but there are some positions that obviously should be given to people who have exhibited some degree of commitment. A center of convenience will give people a position to try to make them committed, but the right thing to do is to give a position to people who have shown they are already committed to Christ and and to doing right.
King Jeroboam decides to change where the people worship, gives them some idols to worship, and he lowers the requirements for those who are the leaders in his new ‘convenient’ place of worship. “Oh, you want to be a priest. Where are you from? The tribe of Naphtali? Not a problem,you can serve. From the tribe of Dan. Not a problem, come on. Where are you from? I’m from the tribe of Asher. Not a problem, you can be a priest, too.” He diluted the requirements for leaders. Pastors, you are going to have to decide. I don’t know what you are going to do, but I decided a long time ago. Even if I have to do a lot of things myself, I’m not going to turn over positions of leadership to people who are not committed. I’m not going to offer positions to try to keep people in the church. I’m not going to do that.
We had a fellow who called the church. “I’m moving to the area. I’m staying with my mom and dad and looking for a job. I want to check out your church. Would you mind coming by?” We got his address and went by to visit with him. He was from the south previously and was a Southern Baptist man. He began to ask me about this and that at the church. I kept hearing the statement, “When I come to your church and I sing..” “When I sing at your church….” You do whatever you want to do, but I called his name and said, “Sir, let me tell you where there is a good church for you. It’s called Bethel Baptist Church, over on Bethel drive in Bourbonnais. It’s a Southern Baptist Church, like the one you’ve been a part of. Maybe you should just go over there.” That’s where he is today.
I’ve done that with charismatic folks, as well. They visit our church and then I go to visit them in the home. They say, “I’m looking for a place where we are going to praise and worship and glorify God in tongues,” and all this stuff. I say, “Sure. Just go up highway 50 to North Street, make a right, then make a left on Cardinal Drive. About a half mile down that road on the right you’ll find the Bradley Assembly of God Worship Center. I’m sure that would be a great place for you.”
“But Brother Anglea, I thought you were trying to build a church.” I am. But I’m not going to promise charismatics and compromisers and carnal folks and people who don’t even believe the Bible is the Word of God and people who won’t be faithful to the services any kind of place or position in our church just to get their carcass in the pew. I’m not interested in building a center of convenience. I’m interested in building a center of commitment. I’d much rather go out and find an old long-haired, dope addict and lead him to Christ, someone who knows nothing about God, nothing about the Bible, nothing about anything, and let him get saved and listen to Bible preaching and grow into a servant of God. Let him just get like that fellow from John Booth’s church who is so eaten up with Christianity and being saved, I’d much rather have a house full of those folks than a bunch of charismatic, compromising people that I’m just trying to put together so I can build a center of convenience.
You are going to have to decide what you are going to do. We decided a long time ago, people who are part of our platform ministry, people who teach classes, people who sing, people who play instruments, people who are part up in front of folks as leaders, I’m talking about Sunday school classes and bus routes, I’m talking about anybody where they stand up with a Bible in their hand and teach boys and girls or teenagers or senior citizens or whatever, brother, they are going to have to exercise and display some form of commitment to Jesus Christ.
There are people in our church that have beautiful voices, but they don’t sing in our choir, because they don’t want the dress standards. You say, “Brother Anglea, good night. Shame on you. You won’t give people a place to serve.” Excuse me. I say, “Shame on them.” You mean you are letting a piece of cloth, some worldly garment, stand between you and serving God? That’s more important to you than serving Jesus? Shame on you!
Not long after I arrived in Bourbonnais, there was a guy who showed up who had been at the church for years and had gotten disgusted and disgruntled and left the church. He had left for about three months and couldn’t find any other church he liked either, so he came back. He was the wealthiest man in the church. He had a big development going up outside of town. One day I was sitting in the office, and he called. The secretary told me who was calling, so I picked it up and said, “Hello.”
“Are you in your office?” That’s how he started.
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He came in and sat down. I was sitting behind the desk, 33 years old, still young as a pastor. Here is an older man who has a lot of bucks. He sat down and said, “Well, what’s the problem?”
I thought to myself, “I think I’m supposed to be asking you that question!” I said, “What are you talking about?”
He said, “I’ve been here now five or six months. You haven’t gone out to eat with me one time. You haven’t let me and my wife sing, not even once. What’s the problem?”
I said, “First of all, there are fellows who were part of this church when I came here that I haven’t had a meal with yet. I’ve been working like crazy to get this thing back on its feet. Second of all, nobody is going to sing who only comes to church on Sunday morning at 11:00, and isn’t faithful to come to Sunday school, Sunday night or Wednesday night.” It was only about a month and a half later, he was gone. Friend, I am not going to create a position to keep somebody at a church, or create an opportunity just to keep Mr. Big Bucks around.
Has this ever happened to you? You’d be visiting. Knock on the door, “Hi. I’m Terry Anglea of Faith Baptist Church in the neighborhood passing out some literature, and I wanted to invite you over to our services.”
“Yes, I go over to Zion Lutheran. I teach Sunday school over there.”
“Oh, you do. Okay. How long have you been a member there?”
“Oh… I’m not a member. I just teach Sunday School there.”
I’ve got a man right now that wants to do something so bad for our church, but he’s not a member. He’s been coming for six months. After six months, if you can’t make up your mind whether that’s the place where God wants you to be or not, there must be some kind of problem. He doesn’t understand why I won’t let him do what he wants to do in the church. By the grace of God, I am not going to dilute the requirements for leadership in our church.
Preachers, keep your leaders in line with what the Bible says. Make sure that you give positions only to committed people. Number two, he diluted the requirements for leaders.
#3. HE DEVISED CHANGE OUT OF HIS OWN HEART. Look at verse 33. “So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart;…” We read that too quick. “So he offered…” Jeroboam is no priest. Jeroboam is a king. Jeroboam has got no business making an offering. Then it says, “…the fifteenth day of the eighth month,…” Reading that text in devotions, I just felt something didn’t sound right about that. So I began to study when this feast was initiated. In Leviticus 23, God set it up on the 15th day of the seventh month. Just a small change. Just a little different, but it was not what God said.
The Bible says that he devised that change out of his own heart. I don’t even need to go into why did God put it on the seventh month as opposed to the eighth month. I just need to know that God said to do it in the seventh month, not the eighth month. I wonder and am amazed sometimes, that we are so full of pride that we think we have the right to demand an explanation from God. Let’s just do what God said to do in the way that God said to do it.
I know there are established preachers here, older than I am, and you fellows have paved the way for us. God bless you and I look up to you and admire you, but let me talk to the young preachers just for a minute. There are those in independent, Baptist circles today who have made a lot of changes to the old time religion that was handed down to us by the last generation. It used to be you could pick up the Yellow Pages if you were on vacation and choose an independent, Baptist church in just about any location, and you’d be okay. My, but how the times have changed! There are those in our ranks who are encouraging us to ‘think outside the box.’ Excuse me, but while you are thinking outside the box, be careful that you don’t think outside the Book!
You have a community to reach. I am not afraid of new ways to reach people, as long as it’s not in violation of scripture. I’m not against that at all, but you’d better be carefully examining and asking yourself this question. Am I thinking outside of the box, or am I thinking outside of the Book? When you start thinking outside of the Book, then you’d better leave it alone. Be careful you don’t devise change out of your own heart, or just follow some evangelical compromiser in independent Baptist clothing.
Lots of things are changing at a rapid pace. Today you can go on independent Baptist church websites and read where on Sunday night we have cell groups on the first and third Sunday nights, and on the second and fourth Sunday nights, we encourage the parents to have a date night and let us watch the kids. I can understand when you are starting a church, maybe having only a service on Sunday morning and gradually adding Sunday night and eventually Wednesday night services, but if you are getting together in cell groups, why don’t you just get together at church? There are established churches with a good many people already coming to a Sunday night service who are changing over to that kind of philosophy.
Church means called out assembly. I went to public high school where we had assemblies, where, instead of being broken up into smaller classrooms, we all came together. I think the very nature of the word ‘assembly’ means come together, not break apart. When we had high school assembly, we all left our small classrooms and got together in the main auditorium for an assembly. What is the church? Ecclesia — a called out assembly. You can justify that by saying you are thinking outside the box, but the box is not what I’m concerned about. You’ve gone beyond the Book.
Jeroboam devised change out of his own heart. Change is a dangerous word. What’s wrong with the old time religion? I like what the brother said last night. Some of these older men who have paved the way before us, they have reached the end of their ministries. We’ve watched them. We know where they ended up. We can see their example of faithfulness from beginning to end. What in the world are we doing looking for some other new way of doing things, when these men have paved the way before us. Don’t devise change out of your own heart. Even if you think outside the box, make sure that you think inside this Book, or you are going to get yourself in trouble with God.
In chapter 13:1, “And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the Lord…” You know, those old-fashioned guys that are always meddling with the new ideas in fundamentalism and waving their fingers in disapproval, saying, “Ah, ah, ah, ah…” Yes, God had some of those back in I Kings 13, too. He sent a man of God over there who waved his finger in the face of Jeroboam and he cried against all that. He cried against that altar. He cried against that form of worship. He cried out against those idols. He cried against the 15th day of that eighth month. He cried out against all of those unscriptural leaders in their worship. He cried against all of that. He said, “God is not in this. God is not within a thousand miles of all this.”
I’m all for building as big a church as we can build for the glory of God. But I am not for building a big crowd that doesn’t qualify as a church scripturally, perhaps one that may bring glory to a man or a movement, but does not bring glory to God and stay in line with this Book.
I’ll be honest with you. I’m probably not as goal-motivated as I ought to be and need to be. I remember when we got ready to build that our auditorium, I asked Dr. Hyles to come and spend a few minutes with me because I knew he travelled and saw so many churches and buildings. In the middle of the conversation, I think he may have gotten a little fretted or frustrated at me. He said, “How many are you going to run here?”
I said, “Preacher, I don’t know.”
“How many are you going to run?”
“I don’t know.”
“As many as I can.” I didn’t know. I probably should be more goal-motivated. But if I am goal-motivated in any fashion, it is not to just big. I’m not near as concerned about the size as I am the sort, and I’ll just let God take care of the size. I don’t want to be guilty, in these last days, of building a center of convenience, as opposed to a church of commitment for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Young preachers, I hope you will just stay on course. Don’t become a Jeroboam. Don’t cater to convenience and downplay the importance of commitment. Don’t water down the Bible’s principles as a requirement for leaders. Don’t devise change out of your own heart, and turn away from ‘thus saith the Lord.’ If you do, don’t be mad when some old gray-haired preacher wags his finger and says to you, “That ain’t of God. Shame on you!”
Let’s check up on ourselves, preachers, and promise God that we are going to stay on course and stick with the Bible. We need to remain faithful and keep doing things God’s way, and remember that it is His church, not ours, so we don’t need to come up with something new, or follow the example of some other guy that claims he’s found the newer, bigger, better way to do things. Since it’s God’s church, we just need to closely follow His instructions in the decisions that we make, and continue to do God’s work God’s way. “…Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
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 How To Be The Most Victorious Loser In The World
by Dr. Oliver Araiza
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:32-42)
Young people, this passage is dealing with discipleship. I’m a little concerned that sometimes we want to paint to you all the perks of serving the Lord in ministry, as if we could entice you to join the ranks of full time Christian work. And don’t misunderstand me, God’s blessings are great, and there is no better life than giving 100% to God and living your life to do His work. But the truth is, if you are going to serve the Lord, it WILL cost you something. That’s what Jesus is talking about here — the cost of discipleship. If you’re going to make your life count for God, it is going to cost you something. I want to preach a message that I’ve entitled, “How To Be The Most Victorious Loser In The World.”
I want to read verse 39 again. “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
Matthew 10 is dealing with the price and the privileges of true discipleship. I’m going to pull out a couple more verses. The Bible says it will show us the price and privileges if you’re going to be a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. I mean one that stays with the Lord Jesus through thick and thin, a true disciple. Look at the first verse of chapter ten. “And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits,…” We know that one of the things God gives us is the power to serve Him; we don’t have to do it under the influence of our flesh. Thank God, we have help from Heaven to live out these decisions. He gives us the power. You can grunt and groan and strain and try harder. It will fail you every time. But the way to victory is in the Lord Jesus Christ. You just have to keep submitting to Him and asking Him to help you. “I don’t feel like I did that right last time, Lord. I didn’t talk right. I didn’t act right. I didn’t behave right. Forgive me, Lord. Help me.” Keep looking to Him. Victory is in the Lord Jesus.
Look at verse 16. “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves:…” You want to be a disciple. Jesus said it’s like you’re a sheep in the midst of wolves. I’ve never been around wolves too much, but I know they travel in packs. A sheep is absolutely defenseless to anything that a wolf can dish out. There is no way in this world that a sheep can defend itself. Jesus says, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
Look at verse 22. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake:…” Hey, young people, if you can’t take somebody calling you a name now and then, you’re not going to make it living the Christian life and being a true disciple. I’m not saying that you’re not going to go to Heaven, but if you are going to live your life 100% for Jesus, you have to be able to handle some ridicule. There are going to be some people who call you names or laugh at you. They’re going to mock you. I guarantee you there are teenagers not here tonight and no longer serving God because somewhere down the line somebody called them names and they couldn’t take it. Jesus said that you’re going to be hated of all men for My name’s sake. Do you realize we’re living in a society where you can talk about Allah? You can talk about Muhammad. You can talk about Buddha. You can talk about Confucius, but if you mention the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, you’re going to be ostracized. The reason why is because when you mention His name, it is so intimidating to all others, because they are dead and in the grave and Jesus is alive and He lives in us that are saved. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake:…” It would be unfair to speak of the price and privileges of true discipleship and ignore the perils, because there are a lot of perils to it.
Verses 32-33 says, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Young people, there will come a time, maybe even next week, at school or somewhere that you will have an opportunity to speak up for Jesus. Don’t be quiet. Speak up! We have got to take the beliefs and values that we have from the Bible and take them outside of these walls. What good is Christianity if it stays in this room? Somebody has got to speak up.
Verse 34 says, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” It’s not a Sunday school picnic every day. “It’s a battlefield, brother, not a recreation room. It’s a fight and not a game.” Like old Lester Roloff used to say, “Run if you want to, run if you will, but I came here to stay.” We need teenagers that have that idea, and the desire to be faithful even though it’s a warfare and not fun and games.
Verse 38, “And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” There is a cross to bear. That cross all through history has stood as an object of shame and disgrace and death and blood. It takes young people who are willing to die to self.
Verse 39, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” This word disciple is a very interesting word. It’s the single word most often used in the New Testament to describe those who are going to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, when you study the Lord Jesus and this idea of a disciple, the Lord Jesus demanded total devotion from those who would be His disciples. “And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:25-26) Most folks would like to tone that down and trim it off and make it fit, but the Lord Jesus is saying if you are going to be His disciple and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, you’re going to have to give Him devotion and faithfulness in the face of hardship. He says that the the intensity of our love and desire to serve Him ought to be so fervent and so far above every other love, that it would make our love to father, mother, wife and children look like hate in comparison. He says that we cannot be His disciple without this kind of love for Him. He says, “I need total devotion.” That’s a heavy price. I guarantee you a generation or two behind us, they used to preach it, but we’ve almost become too soft for it. We’re almost afraid to preach it to teenagers. We want to throw out the perks and encourage them to come in desiring the blessings, and there definitely are plenty of them. But I want to tell you there is a lot of peril out there too, not just perks, but it’s worth it in the end. Jesus demanded total devotion from those who were going to be His disciples.
As a matter of fact, the Great Commission is supposed to result in the multiplication of disciples. It’s a sad truth that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. That means that Muslims are more aggressive at evangelism of their gospel and discipleship than we are. Can you imagine that? That’s a shame. Discipleship is all about devotion and being totally surrendered to God.
Brett Farve, quarterback for the Greenbay Packers, his father passed away. If I’m not mistaken, the same day his father’s funeral was to take place, they had a ball game scheduled. He said that he played and was faithful to that ballgame in honor of his father.
But you know what, young people? The Bible says to honor your father and mother and the way you do that is to be present at times like that. I don’t care what anybody says. That would be the way that you honor your father. Why do these men do that for football? Devotion. They have given their life. Jesus says, “If you’re not willing to do this, you cannot be My disciple.”
Matthew 10:39 helps us to see the difference between a lip disciple and a life disciple. “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” This idea of sacrificing your own values, sacrificing yourself, dying to self for the purpose of someone else’s ideas, for someone else’s values is so foreign today. As a matter of fact, the philosophy of sacrificing your wants and your desires and your goals and your dreams is opposite from the way the secular world sees it today. Secularism or worldliness says, “You live for you. You take everything for you. Look out for number one.”
We’re just coming off the Christmas season. I don’t ever remember hearing this until this year. Things like, “Don’t forget to put you on your Christmas list.” I don’t ever remember hearing that before, but we’re being programmed more and more to be self-centered. What they’re saying is “Me, my things, mine, what I want, how I feel.” You take the world’s philosophies and values about life, about business, about marriage, about children, about love, and compare them to Christianity, it will always be a 180% difference, in the total opposite direction.
For example, to the world greatness is to be served, but to Christianity greatness is to serve others. To the world love is to fulfill my lust, but to Christianity the Bible says that love fulfills the law. The world says, “You give to get,” but God says, “You get to give.” The world says, “Be modern.” The Bible says, “Be modest.” The world says, “Serve self.” The Bible says, “Sacrifice self.” The world says, “Use others.” The Bible says, “Live for others.”
The world says, “Marriage is a union of the same sex.” The Bible says, “…For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife:…” What the Bible teaches and what the world teaches are always in stark contrast. The world and Christianity are always that way. This is why you can’t love both.
The Bible says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (I John 2:15) You don’t have enough room in your heart to love both. You cannot be in love with this world and God at the same time. You don’t have enough room in your heart to do that. The Bible says, “…If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” You can’t do it because there is no room. The Lord Jesus demands total devotion, total loyalty from those who are going to be His disciples.
We’re talking about the price of true discipleship. A disciple willingly loses, and that word lose in our text verse is a very strong word. It literally means ‘to destroy fully.’ The Bible says a disciple is going to lose his life, but not for something that doesn’t mean anything. He is going to lose it for Jesus’ sake. That word sake means ‘final cause, with purpose.’ It is the end, the purpose of what you want to obtain. Jesus says, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” He sells everything for the sake of Jesus Christ. He is going to receive life back in return. We’re talking about devotion, about young people that sell out to God for a lifetime. I mean you raise the white flag on your own life and you say, “Jesus, my life is Yours. I surrender.” It’s not going to be a game. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s worth it and God will supply every need that you have. Devotion.
To be a real winner in life, you first have to be a loser. To be the most victorious loser in the world, you have to do some things. The first thing you have to do according to the Bible is you have to lose your life. That means your goals, your desires, your dreams. You have to lose it, destroy it. You have to obliterate it for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. Lose your life for the sake of His testimony. What is the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ?
You know one of the most troubling arguments for unbelieving skeptics is why do the people of Jesus’ day believe that He was the Son of God? What I’m getting into right now is a subject called apologetics. We don’t hear it mentioned much, but these things are important. One of the biggest arguments for unbelievers that study history they say, “Why did the people of Jesus’ day believe that He was the Son of God?” I’m asking you, young people, to throw everything that you want to do out the window for somebody that you have never seen with your eyes. I’m not going to promise you like the Muslims promise, that if you die for their cause you’re going to meet 72 virgins. I’m talking about you’re throwing your life away for the sake of Jesus Christ, God the Son. Why did the people of Jesus’ day think that Jesus was the Son of God?
Let’s look at some verses here. “And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:39) There He goes. This is a man that no doubt had seen many people be put to death by crucifixion, but when Jesus Christ died on the cross, when He gave up the ghost, the centurion said, “This man was different from everybody else. Truly He was the Son of God.” Why did those people say that Jesus was the Son of God? This man did.
“Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” (John 1:49) Jesus had just spoken prophetically to him. He is thrown back by it and he says, “Truly, You’re the Son of God.” What would make these people say that this man walking the streets of Jerusalem is the Son of God? One of the most troubling arguments that unbelieving skeptics have to deal is this: “Why did the people that lived in the time of Jesus, why did they say He was the Son of God?”
“And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:65-69) Why did the people of Jesus’ day say that He performed the miracles? Why did they say He was the Son of God? Why did the people of Jesus’ day say that He rose from the grave? Those are some of the hardest questions for unbelieving skeptics to deal with. Their answer is they just wanted him to raise the dead and perform miracles. Young people, they’re not answering the true facts of history.
Even a greater question of the unbelieving, rationalistic skeptics is, “Why did the Lord Jesus say that He was God’s Son?” We understand that people are fickle. I mean, they’ll follow all kinds of weird people.
In Texas years ago under Bill Clinton’s administration, they had that following down in Waco, Texas. A lot of people followed a man by the name of David Koresh. He said that he was Christ and they followed him.
So you know the skeptics, when they say, “Why did the people in Jesus’ day say that?” They answer it, “Well, They just wanted to believe that He did these kind of miracles. They just wanted to believe that He was the Son of God.” Why did He say that He rose from the grave? They just say it because they wanted Him to. That’s their answer. But then one of the other questions that boggles them is why did Jesus say it?
I’m talking about the price of discipleship. If I’m going to ask you to give your life to somebody that you’ve never seen based on His testimony, then we have to know something about His testimony. If we’re going to give our lives to somebody and destroy what we want to do and live our lives for His sake, for His values, for His doctrine, for His Gospel, for what He says, we need to know something about Him. We know what the people said back in His day. He is the Son of God. The skeptics say, “They just said that because they wanted to say that about Him,” but Jesus said it about Himself.
The Bible says, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:1-10) Over and over again the devil said to the Lord Jesus, “If You are the Son of God, do this. If You are the Son of God, do this. If You really are the Son of God, why don’t You do this? If You are who You say You are, do this.” One of the things that boggles the minds of the skeptics, the unbelievers, the folks that engage in higher criticism, is why did Jesus say that He was the Son of God?
If Jesus wasn’t who He said He was, then what does that make Him? That makes Him a liar. Can you imagine somebody coming on this earth saying, “I am God’s Son. I’m the only begotten of the Father,” and he’s not. “…Let God be true, but every man a liar;…” (Romans 3:4) Young people, He said it. That causes a real problem to unbelieving skeptics.
If Jesus believed He was the Son of God, but He really wasn’t, what does that make Him? Have you ever heard the word lunatic? If somebody went around saying, “I’m the Son of God,” and he wasn’t, then somebody slipped the cheese out of his happy meal. He’s not there. There is something wrong with this guy. Young people, Jesus said that He was.
The Bible says, “And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.” (Matthew 26:62-63) This is the Roman court system and now they are questioning Jesus. They’re interrogating Him. Just right as clear as can be they’re saying, “Tell us who You are.” That’s where we are at in the story. Look at verses 64-65. “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.” Young people, Jesus did say that He was the Son of God.
Matthew 27:43 says, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.” John 4:25-26 says, “The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.” History will either fortify or falsify the testimony of Jesus Christ. History will prove whether Jesus was a liar or a lunatic, or the Lord of Glory. History does that.
I’m going to give you some quotes by some unbelievers and this is what they say, “Christianity is either everything for mankind, or nothing. It is either the highest of certainty, or the greatest delusion.” A skeptic by the name of Jenkins said, “Christianity is based on indisputable facts.” There are those that lie and say that Jesus is not even a historical record, but He is. He is all through history. I’m quoting from the Encyclopedia Britannica. One of the latest editions used 20,000 words describing the historical person of Jesus Christ. His description took more space than was given to Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Muhammad, or Napoleon. Concerning the testimony of the many independent secular accounts of Jesus of Nazareth it records, “These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of the Lord Jesus Christ, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds by several authors at the end of the eighteenth, during the nineteenth, and at the beginning of the twentieth century.”
I stand before you and say, “Sell your life out. Destroy your life for the sake of Jesus Christ.” You’re not giving your life for some made-up, heathen idiot. He’s the eternal Lord of glory. When you live for Jesus, it is the best. When you lose your life for Jesus’ sake, you will have real life in the end. We want to paint all the perks. “If you live for Jesus, this is what you’ll get.” We almost want to entice young people to become disciples because of all the little neat things they’ll get, when the truth of the matter is there is a price to discipleship. But when you lay down your life for His sake, it’s worth it.
The resurrection proved that Jesus was different from all of those men, proved that He was the Lord of all. Go ahead, secularist, go ahead you agenda historians, and atheists, and modernists, and liberals, you go ahead and contrast the Christ of Christianity with the philosophers and thinkers and dictators, go ahead and contrast the Christ of Christianity with Nirvana of Buddhism. Go ahead and pair Him up with the emperor of Shintoism and the Karma of Buddhism and the pope of Catholocism and the Angel Moroni of Mormonism and the devil of Satanism and the false gods of paganism and the education god of secularism. Go ahead and compare Jesus. Go ahead and match Him up with the Allah of Islam along with his prophet, Muhammad. I guarantee you, my friend, they’ll all fall short of the love and loveliness of Christ. They’ll all fall short of His grace and graciousness. They’ll all fall short of the mercy and mercifulness of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. That’s why He says, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” You go ahead and live for your values and your ideas and your goals and dreams, but in the end you lose. You destroy your life for His sake and then you’re really going to find life. Jesus Christ is the risen Lord.
Someone may say, “Well, I’ll live for money’s sake. I’ll live for pleasure’s sake. Oh, Preacher, I’m going to live for my own sake.” By the world’s standard you will, but when it really counts, you are the loser. Yet if you lose your life for the sake of Lord Jesus, remember He is the author of life. He’s the breath of life. He’s the giver of life. He’s the sustainer of life. He’s the light of life. When you lay down your life for Him, brother, you’re the winner when it really counts. I’m talking about laying down your life, losing your life for Jesus’ sake, for the sake of His testimony. What is His testimony? His testimony of Lordship. Jesus is the Lord of glory. Lose your life for the sake of His testimony of Lordship.
Lose your life for His testimony of friendship. Friendship in teenagers is a big thing. Teenagers think a lot about friends. Every teenager wants to have friends. When you came to a meeting like this, a lot of you were thinking about, “Who am I going to hang around with? Am I going to see some of my friends?” In your teen years, friendship is real important. If you are by yourself and don’t have anybody that you know, you just feel all alone. Man, if you’ve got a friend, it makes all the difference in the world. You can take it. You can have a wonderful time.
Let me tell you about Jesus. You talk about a friend! Jesus is that friend. In John 15:15 Jesus is talking to His disciples. “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” The reason why He called them friends was that He had now treated them as His friends. When you’ve got a true friend, you will tell that friend things about you that you wouldn’t even probably tell your mom or dad. It shouldn’t be that way. You ought to have an open relationship with your mom and dad, but that’s the way it is. We get so attached to friends. You begin to share things, serious things. There are teenagers that come to a point and things happen in their life, maybe their parents get divorced, or somebody dear to them dies. I’ve known of teenagers going up to their friends and saying. “I’m just facing problems. All these things are happening in my life. I’m beginning to even doubt that there is a God.” You wouldn’t say that to your preacher. You wouldn’t say that to your parents or anything like that, but you’ve shared things that intimate with friends. We’re talking about friendship. Jesus shares some pretty intimate things with you. It’s that He is your friend and you are His. Friendship talks about sharing. We can’t even begin to get into it for the sake of time, but Jesus shared it with them.
Something sweet about friendship is trust. The reason you tell them those things is because you trust them. They’re not going to go all over the school yard, or youth group telling all those things about you. If they did, that would be the last time you ever told them anything because you couldn’t trust them. When you lay down your life for Jesus’ sake, for the sake of His testimony, His Lordship, and for the sake of His friendship, you can tell Jesus everything. Do you know what many of you need to do? You need to get somewhere all by yourself and just tell Jesus everything that bothers you. I mean you just need to lay it out. “Why did this happen? Help me, Lord. Show me. Teach me. I know these people and everybody thinks this about them, but I know this. Lord, why? How can that be? That hurts me.” You just need to open up and give it to the Lord. He can take it. He’s the friend that sticks closer than a brother.
Do you remember Judas when he betrayed the Lord? What did Jesus say to him? He called him friend. Even though he had betrayed the Son of God, Jesus was his friend. I’m telling you that you can lay down your life for Jesus’ sake, the sake of His Lordship, and the sake of His friendship. The Bible says that He’s the friend that sticks closer than a brother. You can share and He’ll share with you about life. You can trust Him and He’ll trust you.
Do you know what else? One thing about a friend that is neat, you say this about your friends. I hear it at graduations all the time, said about family members and their pastor. “He was always there for me.” That’s what counts with you about your friends. “They were always there for me.” You know what? Jesus will always be there for you, teenager. He’ll never leave you. He’ll never forsake you. He’s always there.
I don’t know exactly how old I was, but it was around the fourth of July. We had moved out in the country from Dallas, a little community called Kaufman. We had a storm cellar in the back yard, but it was run down and had stinging scorpions and spiders in it. We weren’t going to use it for storing vegetables, so my dad decided to use it for an incinerator. We put trash in it. We were going to light it on fire and burn. That’s the way people do it out in the country. How many of you know what a burn barrel is? You pick out all the glass and things that don’t burn and you burn all the paper and cardboard. We filled it up. It was crazy because the very day we were going to light it on fire was July fourth. We were going to do a little more work around the house and then load up. My dad had a big, old Ford Esquire station wagon back then. We were going to load up in the station wagon and head to the church picnic. We had an old Ford tractor parked right there in front of the doorway of this incinerator. My dad said, “Son, I need you to move the tractor.” I got on that old Ford and put it in gear and moved it around. My dad, just before that, had taken a little gasoline and put it on top of that trash to help get the fire going. To be honest with you, that probably saved his life. Since he had put gas on it, he struck a match and tossed it over on that garbage, the entrance of that cellar. When that match hit that doorway, you talk about an explosion. Remember it was the fourth of July. I don’t remember how old I was, maybe about 12 or 13 years old. I already told you I like firecrackers. When I heard that explosion, I thought to myself, “Good night, what kind of a firecracker was that?” I turned and looked over my shoulder and saw this black mushroom cloud. Then I looked back around and I saw my dad. The explosion had blown his shirt completely off and he was laying face down on the ground. I knew it was bad. What had happened was that old vegetable cellar, because it was used as a root cellar, when vegetables rot, a very explosive gas is created. It was like a bomb waiting to happen. If my dad had not put that gas on there, he would have struck that match and leaned down to light it. If he had been that close, it would have killed him. The casing of that thing, there is no telling what it would have done to my dad. That thing blew up and I remember my mother screaming. I remember thinking to myself, “Lord, what is going on?” I wasn’t even a Christian yet. It just seemed like such dark days for us. When those days are dark like that, young people, we don’t know what in the world is going on, remember you can lay down your life for the sake of His testimony, His Lordship, His friendship. He’s not going to leave you. He’s not going to forsake you.
Do you remember reading that poem about footprints in the sand? This person talks about looking back at his life. During the darkest days of his life, he only saw one set of footprints. At other times he’d see a double set of footprints. It seemed like in the trying and darkest days of his life he was by himself. This poet goes on to say when he gets to Heaven he says, “Lord, I don’t understand. During those dark days of my life, Lord, I only see one set of tracks in the sand. Why did You leave me? Why did You leave me by myself?”
The Lord said, “Oh, son, I didn’t leave you by yourself. Those are the days that I carried you.”
Hey, young people, you can lose your life for the sake of Jesus, for the sake of His testimony. You check it out. He is a historical figure. They’ll all talk about Him. The reason why He said He was the Son of God was that He is, and the proof that we have is that He rose from the grave.
You can lay down your life. You can say, “Jesus, I’ll give up my dreams, my goals, everything for Your sake.” Okay, who am I giving that to? Brother, you’re giving it for the sake of His testimony, His Lordship. Jesus is Lord. When you lay down your life for Him, you’re the winner in the end. As a matter of fact, you don’t even have to wait until the end to win. You win all through life. Glory to God! You can lay down your life for the sake of His testimony of His friendship. He’ll share things with you. He’s always going to be there for you. You can trust Him.
As I was thinking about this message, I just started thinking about all the ‘ships’ that Jesus is. You can trust Him on His Lordship, His fellowship, His headship, His Sonship, His friendship. I like this next one. His championship, His comradeship, His partnership, His relationship, His hardship, His leadership, His followship, as He followed the Father.
Jesus says, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Do you want to be the most victorious loser in the world? Lose your life for Jesus’ sake. I’m not asking you to do that for some far out, weird person. I’m saying you do it on the sake of His testimony, His Lordship, and His friendship. I’ll take Jesus any day. Boy, we need a whole lot of others to join up, and pay the price of discipleship.
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?”
Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!