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The theme that we’re going to be dealing with together in these sessions I have a title for which I think is exciting, I trust it will excite you. It’s the “Good News of the Kingdom.” Before we come to the actual theme I feel that I need to give something of a background of the purposes of God in our day. Years ago when I was much younger than I am now I heard another preacher say, “The secret of success in any generation is to find out what God is doing and do it with Him.” I think that’s profoundly true. So I’d like to share with you briefly by way of introduction to my theme what I believe God is doing in this generation.
Thank God He’s doing tremendous things. Thank God He’s not confused, He hasn’t lost control, He’s still in charge of the nations and their destiny. And Jesus Christ is still head over all things to the church which is His body.
I believe we need to understand, first of all, what God is primarily concerned with. What is God going to get for Himself out of history? As we view the confusion, the agony, the strife, the terrible condition of mankind which doesn’t seem to be really getting better in its most important aspects, we might well ask ourselves what is God after? Why does He wait with such patience? Why doesn’t He intervene? Why doesn’t He stop all the wickedness? I believe the answer is that God is primarily interested in a people for Himself. That’s what God is going to get out of history. And that makes people such as you and me the focus of all God’s purposes, plans and activities.
There’s just one brief scripture I’d like to give you in Deuteronomy 32:9:
“For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the place [or the lot] of his inheritance.”
That’s just the first part of that verse. The Lord’s portion is his people. What is God after? Not really institutions, not material things; but a people for Himself. And all of history centers around the people of God.
Writing to the Corinthian church Paul made an amazing statement. He said all things are for your sakes. Everything that happens happens because of you. I find many Christians don’t appreciate this, they don’t realize how important we are. It always distresses me to hear Christians speak as if we were a little insignificant minority just holding out until God intervenes and takes us out. That’s not the picture the Bible gives at all. Everything centers around the people of God. The sun rises and sets for us. Jet airplanes fly for us. Governments govern for us. All of it is for our sakes because we are the thing that God is after.
There are three main structures that God caused to be built for a dwelling place for Himself if you go through the main outline of Bible history. The first was the tabernacle of Moses which was a very remarkable structure but not very impressive from the outside. It was covered with badger skins and surrounded by a white linen fence. And there it was in the middle of a desert. What made it distinctive was that there was a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night that rested over this strange structure. And inside there were some tremendous craftsmanship, some amazingly detailed artistic work. But it wasn’t a tremendously valuable structure.
Then the next main structure was the temple of Solomon. I am inclined to believe that that was the most expensive building that has ever been constructed in the history of the human race. I doubt whether there are the resources or the craftsmanship in the world today to build such a building. Much of it was gold. Calculating even some years back I reckon that the value of the gold which David himself contributed to the temple out of his own personal wealth was seventy-five million dollars worth of gold. That was just his personal contribution. And yet, that tremendous structure lasted only a comparatively short time, it was destroyed.
What could God cause to be built that would be more valuable, more impressive and more enduring than Solomon’s temple? We have to turn to the New Testament and there’s one more major structure that’s revealed in scripture as God’s dwelling place. It is built out of material infinitely more valuable than the material of Solomon’s temple. It’s built out of the most valuable thing in the universe. Do you know what that is? People. Jesus said in effect, one human soul is worth all the world. So, there’s no anticlimax in God. This is the ultimate, a temple that will endure through eternity and it’s built of living stones. And that’s what God is after, the living stones in the temple which He will inhabit forever and ever and ever.
Now, if God’s purposes center in His people, can we state briefly what His purposes for His people are at this time? I personally believe that I can say it in one word. And that one word is restoration. I’d like you to just kind of look at this word and think about its implications.
Furthermore, I believe that God is concerned with the restoration of two peoples to whom He’s related by a covenant which He has declared He will never break. This is my understanding of scripture. I share it with you, you must evaluate it for yourself. In a certain sense, ultimately I believe they will not be two peoples but as we know them today there are two quite distinct peoples. The first historically is Israel. Time and time and time again in the Bible God declares that He will never abrogate His covenant with Israel. The second is the Church. I could put the Church of Jesus Christ but I’m sure you understand that’s what I mean.
So I believe that God’s purposes in this time center in the restoration of Israel and the Church. Let me define what I mean by restoration. I define it basically as putting things back in their right place and their right condition. And the very fact that restoration is needed is sufficient evidence that things have been out of their right place and out of their right condition. If we talk about restoring an ancient building, that is sufficient evidence that the building needs repair, it’s not in the condition in which it ought to be. And I believe that the fact that God’s people need restoration is in itself evidence that they have not been and are not at this time in the condition in which God intends them to be.
Now, the restoration of Israel is in initially geographical. It’s putting them back in their right place. And that’s a little strip of territory at the east end of the Mediterranean which God declares with language as emphatic as any that’s used anywhere in the Bible, He has given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob Israel for an everlasting possession. The mere recovery of the land is not the ultimate of God’s purpose, it’s the springboard. Because, there’s only one place on earth where God will deal with Israel as a nation and that is that particular land. Therefore, He has to regather them there in order to deal with them. But the ultimate purpose is to bring them back into a relationship with Himself and always it’s summed up in this statement: “I will be their God and they shall be my people.”
Now I could talk for hours on the restoration of Israel, I have to be careful that I don’t go that way because it’s one of the main themes of my teaching and one of the main areas of my ministry. But I want to speak about the Church.
Those of you that know anything of Jewish history will be aware that for something like eighteen or nineteen centuries the great majority of the Jewish people have been scattered in all nations of the earth as wanderers and exiles from the land which God promised them. That’s a very obvious, historical fact. In my understanding, and again, I offer this to you, you don’t have to agree with me. But in my understanding, the Church of Jesus Christ has been just as far away from its spiritual inheritance in Christ most of those centuries as Israel have from their inheritance in the land. Consequently, the process of restoration for the Church is just as traumatic, just as involved in strife and agony and sacrifice and warfare as the restoration of Israel. Israel has been a nation now for something like thirty-six years, thirty-seven years. It has never really known any peace. And I want to suggest to you that the church in the process of restoration is not going to fare better or have an easier time than Israel.
But the restoration of the Church is not to a piece of territory but it’s to our inheritance in Christ. What I believe is very exciting is that the double process of restoration began almost precisely at the beginning of the present century, ‘round about the year 1900. If you want to pinpoint the date, for Israel probably the first Zionist World Conference in Baal in Switzerland in 1897 would be the date.
If you want to talk about the restoration being produced in the church by the Holy Spirit, we can look back to a period near the end of the last century when there was a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit in Russia and Armenia. But when we come to the United States there are two years that stand out. 1900, and the first day of the new century a girl in a Bible school in Topeka, Kansas went to the leaders of the Bible school and asked them to pray over her that she might be filled with the Holy Spirit in the same way as in the book of Acts. The leaders of the Bible school didn’t really believe it would happen but they prayed over her and it did happen and she spoke in tongues as the Spirit of God gave her to speak. That was a kind of historical breakthrough and God permitted it to happen on the first day of this century.
And then, of course, in l904 there was that great visitation in Azuza Street, Los Angeles which is the birthplace of every Pentecostal denomination in North America.
And then as we move on we come to what has come to be known as the Charismatic renewal which began somewhere in the 50’s or the 60’s of this century with which I’ve been privileged to be associated to some considerable extent.
So, if you view history that way, contemporary history, it begins to make sense at least for me. God has a purpose. He’s doing something in the midst of all the chaos and confusion. God is working to restore His people according to the promises of His word. And as we are His people, we are the very focus of what’s happening.
I’d like to turn to two passages of scripture that speak very, very clearly about this process of restoration. We’ll turn, first of all, to the New Testament, to Acts 3:19–21, and then we’ll turn back to the Old Testament to a passage which in its own poetic way is exactly parallel. These words that I’m going to read were spoken by Peter to a Jewish crowd in Jerusalem that had gathered because of the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate. But in these words, and I imagine Peter didn’t realize what he was saying at the time, I believe he gave us a very specific outline for God’s program to bring the present age to a close. I am cautious about talking about the close of the age. I am very, very clear that nobody knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return. I’m very well aware there are many uncertainties and obscurities which probably will not be cleared up. But let them not deprive us of those certainties which are in the word of God. So let me read these words. Acts 3, beginning at verse 19:
“Repent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that he may send Jesus Christ, who has preached to you before. . .”
Now there’s an alternative reading if you have the NIV or the NASB. It will say more or less “that he may send to you Jesus the Messiah who was before appointed for you.” Don’t let’s go into the reason. There are two different texts. The meaning is not affected and let’s not get involved in the change of a few Greek letters.
Going on now with verse 21 which is where we’re headed for.
“Jesus Christ whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
Notice that Jesus Christ was taken up to heaven—that’s recorded in Acts 1. Paul says here in Acts 3, “heaven must receive him,” and I think it’s legitimate to add “and retain him until.” Until when? The times of restoration of all things. And we conclude from that that sometime during the period of restoration of all things heaven will release Jesus to come back and establish His kingdom on earth. I believe that’s a legitimate conclusion.
If you read on as far as verse 24, referring to this same period, Peter makes a remarkable statement.
“Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.”
So these days, this period of restoration, is the theme of all prophets. It’s the focus of a tremendous area of prophetic revelation.
Let’s go back and see what has to precede this period of restoration of all things. Some of you may have heard this teaching before but I believe it can be summed up in four English words, each of which begins with the letters RE. Let’s see if we can pick them out. The first one is at the beginning of verse 19, that’s not difficult. Repent, that’s right. Or repentance, whatever you want. Let’s put them down. Who’s got to repent? Who has to repent? Well, God’s people, let’s say that. Do you know what the Bible says? The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God. That’s where it always begins, you understand? The real problem that God has in dealing with the nations is not the nations, it’s the church.
In the great Welsh revival in Wales in l904, Evan Roberts the leader of the revival used to say this: Bend the Church and bow the world. If the Church will bend, the world will bow. But if the Church won’t bend, God has no way to reach the world to make the world bow. See?
So whether it’s the Jews or whether it’s the Church, the first stage in releasing God’s program to close the age is the repentance of God’s people. And repentance is probably one of the most neglected and misunderstood major doctrines of the New Testament. It’s a very powerful word. The Greek word used in the New Testament in secular Greek is almost invariably translated to change your mind. You’ve been thinking one way, now start thinking another. The word used in Hebrew for repentance means to turn around. That’s typical of the two languages. Greek will always focus on the internal, Hebrew will always focus on the practical, you understand? But if you put the two together you get a complete picture of repentance. The inner decision to change your way of thinking and living followed by the outward action of turning around, facing up to God and saying, “God, tell me what to do and I will do it.” That’s repentance. A person who has repented never argues with God.
In my dealings with people over the years in counseling I have met many people who think they’re struggling for faith. My conclusion is in most cases it’s not faith they’re struggling for, it’s repentance. The New Testament never tells people to believe without first telling them to repent.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that if people had really applied the New Testament teaching of repentance, half the counseling problems we have in our church would cease immediately. The real problem is lack of repentance. A firm decision and commitment to face up to God, submit to Him and obey Him. That’s where it begins. Repentance.
Now repentance brings a response in God, God’s blessing is released. And it’s also there in verse 19, so if you’re a theologian you can tell me what it is. Refreshing, that’s right. Repentance brings refreshing. Are you feeling a little jaded and tired, weary? Try repenting. Refreshing is not the ultimate, that’s very important. I think it’s tremendously important for the Charismatic movement to understand that refreshing is just a stage on the journey. I believe the Charismatic movement is a season of refreshing. Thank God for it. But let’s not ever imagine that that’s the ultimate. God’s purpose in refreshing is to strengthen us for, verse 21, restoration. You understand, restoration is a fight. You’re going to need to be refreshed in order to move into restoration.
If you want to know what restoration costs, just look at the history of Israel. Agony, sacrifice, self denial, warfare. The Church is not going to have it any easier than Israel, believe me. When we trouble the devil as much as Israel has troubled the devil in the Middle East we’ll see what will happen to us.
Restoration is not the ultimate either. It’s the essential setting of the stage for the climax of the age which is another word that begins in RE. It isn’t in the text but some brilliant logician will be able to tell us what it is. Yes? I didn’t hear it, say it louder. Return, that’s right. Go to the top of the class wherever that is! All right, return. I do firmly believe, it’s up to you to determine, but I firmly believe that is a clearly revealed scriptural outline program for the close of this age. Of course, we didn’t say who was going to return. How many of you can guess? Have you seen that bumper sticker, “Guess who’s coming back?” I don’t have to guess, I know. Well, I believe that’s God’s program. You understand? So that in the light of that, this period of restoration becomes extremely crucial. It’s critical. The Lord Jesus could not have returned before this period. That may shock some of your theology but I think it’s very clearly attested in scripture. But in this period of restoration at some day and hour that no one knows we can look for the blessed hope of the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. If you’re not excited I question whether you really believe it. I don’t see how you can believe it without being excited.
That’s the New Testament presentation of this theme. Now let’s look in the book of Psalms, Psalm 102. Psalm 102 begins with the psalmist in a very gloomy mood. Everything is falling apart around him, God has taken him up and dropped him down and he sees no future. It’s one of the gloomiest passages anywhere in the book of Psalms. You might observe there are quite a number of gloomy passages in the book of Psalms. Have you ever noticed that? The spiritual life is not all exhilaration and excitement.
However, at verse 12 the psalmist does something very wise. He turns his eyes away from his own condition and problems and by faith he lifts up his eyes and sees the Lord on His throne. And he realizes that the Lord has never abdicated, that He’s still in total control of history. And when he does that he gets this tremendous prophetic revelation of how the age is going to close. Let’s look now, beginning in verse 13. And notice there words are addressed to the Lord. I think I can go through this verse by verse and make it clear to you.
“You [Lord] will arise, and have mercy on Zion: for the time to favor her, yes, the set time has come.”
So the psalmist by prophetic revelation looks forward to a period in God’s prophetic calendar when God is going to arise. That means He’s going to go into action. He’s going to intervene in human history.
And the purpose of His intervention is to show mercy and favor to Zion. Now, my understanding of Zion is it’s the basic Biblical name for all of God’s covenant people both Israel and the Church. It’s no accident that the political movement that was the instrument to trigger the return of Israel to their land is called Zionism. It’s kind of like saying here it is. You understand? You want to know where you are, that’s it. But I find from reading Hebrews 12 that Zion includes all of God’s covenant people. We, the Church, have come to Mount Zion. That’s where our headquarters are. The ultimate headquarters are the heavenly Jerusalem, Mount Zion.
In this predicted period, let me say first of all that the psalmist uses the phrase “the set time.” That’s an interesting Hebrew word. It’s used for all the festivals of the calendar of Israel. Every festival which had a set time each year like the Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, was a set time. The Hebrew word is mo-wed. So God is going to show mercy and grace to His covenant peoples.
There’s a scripture in Hebrews 4:16 which covers both. It says:
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Now the most important thing for you to understand is that neither mercy nor grace can ever be earned. By definition you cannot earn them. If you earn mercy you don’t need it. And Paul says grace cannot be earned. This is tremendously important to understand what God is doing because He’s doing something for His people that we have not earned. If we had earned it we wouldn’t need restoration. It’s just because we haven’t earned it He has to give it to us out of mercy and grace.
Now, it’s very, very easy for Christians to see that the Jews haven’t earned restoration. You’re one hundred percent right, dear friends. Absolutely true. It’s mercy and grace. Let me tell you something. You may not know it’s just as easy for the Jews to see that the Christians don’t deserve it. And they’re just as right. The truth of it is none of us deserve it. You just got to learn to accept God’s mercy and God’s grace. And you know, the people who find that hardest? Religious people. Because they keep trying to think they’ve got to do something to earn it. This is something we receive because God determined in His eternal counsel that at a certain point in human history He would intervene on behalf of His people. Now, I believe firmly, my unshakable conviction is we are living in that period of history. You have to determine that for yourself. But my whole course in life, my attitude to things, my motives, my objectives are all determined by the fact that I am convinced we are living in this period of restoration, the period of God’s mercy and grace. I want to get as much of His mercy and grace as I can. He cannot give me too much. I know I need it. That’s one of the things in my life, I’ve never been ignorant of the fact I need God’s mercy. From the day I got saved it was absolutely clear to me I needed God’s mercy.
I heard Loren Cunningham tell this story once, it might be appropriate to hear it. He’d probably object to my telling his story. But it’s a little illustration about the lady who went to have her photograph taken, a photograph portrait. After a while she went back to look at the proofs and she didn’t like what she saw so she shook her head and she said, “These don’t do me justice.” And the photographer looked at her for a while and he said, “Lady, you don’t need justice, you need mercy.” Oh how true that is. We don’t need justice, you realize that? We do not need justice, we need mercy. Thank God it’s promised. Thank God this is the time for it.
Let’s look on in this passage, verse 14:
“For your servants take pleasure in her stones, and show favor to her dust.”
That’s a picture of Zion. And Zion is more or less to be identified with Jerusalem. There are some distinctions. I first went to Jerusalem in l942 if you can believe that I really was alive in l942! Okay? And there were two things that happened. First of all, the two words that would sum up my impression were stones and dust. It was a city of ruins, of stones and dust. The second thing that happened was I fell in love with her. And I’ve been in love with her ever since. Not because Jerusalem is so beautiful. I really don’t think today you could call it a beautiful city. It’s very dirty in some places and there’s a lot of different things that could be a whole lot better. And some of the new architecture is a headache. But it’s the city that God has chosen. And if you’re a servant of God, one of the evidences is that you’ll love her.
Ruth and I have conducted many, many tours to Israel. Time and time again people say to us, “I don’t know why but I just love this place.” That’s something the Holy Spirit does in the heart. See?
But I think it’s true not only of the earthly Zion, I think it’s true of the Church. I think—this may be my background but I grew up in Britain. If you heard, I was educated in an educational setting where church attendance was compulsory. I seldom went to a church that was less than three or four hundred years old. And if I were to talk about two things it would be stones and dust. To me, that’s how the Church is, stones and dust. I’m talking about the whole Church of Jesus Christ. But I want to warn you don’t make fun of the Church because that’s not an evidence of being a servant of the Lord. The servant of the Lord cares about the Church, even the stones and dust.
To me, the parallels between Israel and the Church are so exact and so illuminating that, I mean, they’ve just opened up whole areas of understanding for me. I hope they can do the same for you.
So this is a mark of the servants of God that they care about God’s covenant people. Even when they’re in a state of ruin and decay.
Verse 15 describes the purpose of God in His intervention.
“So the nations shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory.”
What is God aiming at for Himself in one word? What is He going to get out of it? Glory, that’s right. Reverence is fine because that’s another translation. That’s right.
I’ve made a little study of the word grace in the New Testament and I’ve come to this conclusion. Again, you check for yourself. I’ve come to the conclusion if you study the end purpose of God’s grace it is always His glory. That’s why He bestows His grace that it may ultimately renown to His glory. If He had to wait for us to earn it, you see, it would never happen. So we have to receive His grace in order to be able to glorify Him. And God’s visitation of grace and mercy on His people is that the whole earth may be overawed by the demonstration of His power and His glory. All nations shall fear the name of the Lord and all the kings of the earth your glory.
Verse 16 gives us the real key to understanding the significance of this period.
“For the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.”
One of the translations says the Lord shall rebuilt Zion. And the Old King James Version says “when the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.” See, that’s in exact agreement with Acts 3. In the time of the restoration we may look for the return of the Lord. The fact that the Lord’s rebuilding Zion is a scriptural guarantee that He’s getting ready to appear in His glory.
And then we continue, verse 17:
“He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer.”
I think we need to understand that the return of the Lord is going to be an answer to a whole lot of prayers. And some of our prayers won’t get answered till then. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with the Jewish way of putting in prayer requests for the Lord, but they have what they call the Western Wall. It used to be called the Wailing Wall, which is the western foundation of the temple area. That’s as near as the Jewish people can get to that sacred site for them. It’s made of massive stones. And Jewish people go there night and day almost continually to pray. And sometimes Ruth and I go down there just to add our prayers. The way they make their prayer requests is they write them on little pieces of paper, roll them up and put the little piece of paper in the cracks between the stones. You understand? That’s like our putting our prayer requests in the offertory basket or whatever it might be.
Well, I was there one day, it was a windy day. And the wind had blown a whole lot of these little slips of paper out of the cracks in the rocks and they were just going to and fro across the stone floor. I said to myself a little bit cynically, “There’s a whole lot of prayers that don’t seem to have got answered.” And the Holy Spirit said to me instantly, “But there’s a day coming when millions of prayers will be answered in a very short time.” I had a revelation on this scripture that the coming of the Lord will be an answer to prayer, the cry of the desperate, the destitute.
Let me say this in line with the theme we’re going to be talking about. I personally am convinced that there is no real practical permanent solution for the miseries and the agonies of the human race except the setting up of Christ’s kingdom on earth. You can talk about the social gospel and that’s fine, but it isn’t going to get the job done. It’s going to take the Lord Jesus Christ to do it. If you really care about the poor and the underprivileged and the sick, then you’ll be concerned about the return of the Lord and the setting up of His kingdom.
Ruth and I travel widely and we minister in many different places to the sick. And sometimes the spectacle of the sufferings of humanity is almost more than we can bear. And we are just doing a tiny little fraction to help some tiny fraction of all the people that need help. But the sum total of human misery is so ghastly that I don’t think God would permit us to see it because we couldn’t stand the sight. I’m in favor of everything that we can do to help the miserable and the sick and the suffering but, believe me, the only ultimate real practical solution is the kingdom of God on earth. That’s my conviction. I think anything else is unrealistic. So, the coming of the kingdom is going to be God’s final answer to the cries of suffering humanity.
Now, one more verse, verse 18:
“This will be written for the generation to come; that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.”
The psalmist knew that what he was writing was not for his own time. He knew that there was to be a generation somewhere in the future in this time of restoration for whom this would make sense. And that his words were written for the generation that would see these things fulfilled. I believe we’re that generation. That’s exciting. At least to me. If you don’t get excited I don’t understand your make up.
Now, one more truth. In this particular generation of which we are speaking, God is going to create a special people to do one thing which is what? It’s there. You won’t find it by looking at my face, it’s in the Bible. To praise Him, that’s right. It’s as if the Lord was saying, “My people have been so slack for so many centuries to praise me the way that I should be praised that if I am ever going to get the kind of praise I want I’m going to have to create a special people to do it.” Do you know what I believe? I believe we could be that people. I believe, once more, we should be that people. You can say a lot of bad things about Charismatics, and I can help you, I know them from inside out. But there is a dimension of praise that is come in with the Charismatic movement which is making history. I don’t believe we’ve arrived but I believe we’ve caught a glimpse of what God wants. I believe one of the things that’s going to open the way for the return of the Lord Jesus is a generation that really learns how to praise Him.
I spoke on this theme not altogether this way in the town hall in Christ Church in New Zealand a few Sundays ago. They had a record attendance, they’ve never had such an attendance. The town hall was filled, the overflow auditorium was filled. About 3,500 people which New Zealanders know is a large crowd for New Zealand. I gave this teaching and I got to the end and I said what can we do? I said the only thing I think is appropriate is to start praising the Lord. That’s what He’s waiting for. I tell you, those people took off and they praised the Lord for the next hour. You couldn’t stop them. They were hilarious. New Zealanders are not tremendously emotional people, I think you’ll agree. It was a kind of milestone in my experience. I just got a little taste of what God is waiting for from His people.
We can go just a little further in this session. We’re talking about restoration and we’re talking about the Church. We’re leaving out Israel. Okay? I want to suggest to you now certain main aspects of the restoration of the church. I mean, this is just a viewpoint, it’s not absolute doctrine. I would say the first main area of restoration that marked the beginning of what we’re talking about is the restoration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Now again, you can say a lot of things about the gifts of the Holy Spirit but be careful what you say! You see, I think the gifts of the Holy Spirit are the entrance into the supernatural. My understanding is that you cannot speak about New Testament Christianity without the supernatural. You’re simply deceiving yourself. The way that I convinced myself of that was this. I decided to read through the book of Acts which has 28 chapters and consider what would happen if I removed all reference to the manifested supernatural. That’s not inward supernatural experiences like the new birth which is totally supernatural but it’s inward. But manifestly supernatural events perceptible by human senses. So I read through the whole 28 chapters and you know what I discovered? That if I removed all reference to the supernatural, not one chapter would be left intact. There is not one chapter without that kind of material. And you see, I don’t believe it’s possible for the church to function as God intended on a purely natural plane. It cannot be done. Let’s not try to do it.
Generally speaking, there may be exceptions but generally speaking, the doorway into the supernatural is through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, all of which are supernatural. And the usual door is the most controversial; which is, the gift of tongues. There’s no doubt about that.
But, it’s an extraordinary thing, I don’t know why God did it this way, but He’s not the least bit embarrassed about tongues, do you know that? Rather the opposite, He flaunts them. The first time the Church was manifested as a body to the whole world, you know what they were all doing? All speaking with tongues, that was the first public appearance of the Church of Jesus Christ. A lot of people didn’t understand but that didn’t worry God. And when God reached out to the Gentiles in the household of Cornelius and brought Gentiles in other than through the Law, what happened? What brought them in? One thing, what was it? They all spoke with tongues. So, you know, people can criticize and object and point out all the problems but the fact of the matter is God is not embarrassed. Nor am I. Hallelujah, glory to God! I like it. I find it’s a blessing.
If you want to know three good reasons for speaking in tongues. Many people say to you what’s the use of it? Have you ever heard them say that? They said that in the day of Pentecost, what meaneth this? I tell you what, number one, you’re speaking to God. That’s a privilege. Number two, you’re speaking mysteries. That’s another privilege. And number three, you’re edifying yourself. So there are three good reasons of speaking in tongues. Understand? If you don’t do it you’re cheating yourself out of something.
The next phase of restoration, as I see it, which I believe is in process of taking place is the ministry gifts which are listed in which epistle? Ephesians, that’s right. Chapter 4 verse 11. And they are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. I think in this process of restoration you could argue that they’re being restored in the opposite order in which they’re mentioned. I think the primary emphasis of restoration was teachers. And then pastors. And I believe now we’re in a period of the restoration of evangelists. But we’ll never be complete without the apostles and prophets. You understand? You study the New Testament, the Church was never designed to function without apostles and prophets. In the New Testament no one ever appointed elders except apostles. How would you ever get motion without apostles?
That’s not my theme. I believe that there’s another aspect of restoration which is my theme and that’s what I want to talk about in the next session but we’ll just open it up in this session. That’s the restoration of the message which is the gospel. What does gospel mean? Good news, that’s right. Bear that in mind. If you ever hear anybody preaching something that isn’t good news, remember he’s not preaching the gospel.