This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
This final session is a question and answer session in which I’m seeking, by the grace of God, to answer some of the questions that have been brought to us, mainly in connection with the teaching that has been given in these previous sessions. Ruth and I went through all the written questions together last night and we tried to sort them into different categories. We sought to find the ones that obviously represented areas where people needed further clarification. And so, we’ve got, I think, four categories which I will just read out. They could have been anticipated. The first one is predestination. The second one is about the practice of Christians organizing protests and marches and sit-ins and so on—especially in connection with abortion. The third is in connection with Israel. And then there’s a fourth which is miscellaneous. Also, two questions in my outline which somebody asked me to offer an answer to. So, God helping us, we’ll get through that.
Let’s come now to predestination. It’s not surprising because this is probably one of the most difficult areas of Christian truth, fully to understand and rightly to divide. Let me say at the beginning that I don’t believe in the method of interpreting the Bible that takes one thing that God has said to prove that He didn’t mean something else He said. I think we have to have a method of interpretation that makes room for everything that God has said and not use one statement of scripture to contradict another. And sometimes we simply have to come to a place of humility and say, “God, I believe all that you’ve said but I’m not sure exactly how it all fits together.” I don’t think that that should be a problem to any of us. In fact, if we imagine that we could understand the whole council of the eternal, omnipotent God, that would be ridiculous. So let us be grateful for whatever measure of understanding He gives us.
Here’s the question, the first one.
How does God’s foreordained choosing of us bear on the way we are to pray for the unsaved?
Of what use is praying for salvation for those who cannot or will not come?
And then, is it a correct biblical conclusion, then, to say that we are predestined to choose—that predestination is God’s gift—if free will does coexist?
And then, does God arrange circumstances so that we are pressured into accepting His will?
Considering God’s sovereignty, of what use is free will to us?
You can see they’re all essentially revolving around the same issue.
And then, scripture tells us that God wants all to be saved. Ephesians 4 talks about us being chosen in Him before the creation of the world. When you talked about God choosing, do you believe that He chooses who will follow Him?
So really, in essence, they all revolve around the tension between free will and predestination. And both are very clearly stated in the New Testament. If we believe the whole New Testament, we have to believe both—even if we don’t see how they fit together.
Historically, the church has tended to take a pathway which I’ve sometimes compared to that of a drunkard walking down a road. And he staggers, first of all, into one ditch, falls into that ditch, picks himself out of that ditch, staggers a little further and falls into the ditch on the opposite side of the road and then gets out of that. But he does not walk steadily down the center of the road. So there are those who emphasize free will to the exclusion of predestination. And there are those who emphasize predestination to the exclusion of free will. You’ve probably heard about the Calvinist who fell down stairs and broke his leg and said, “Well, thank God that’s over!” I’m not making fun of John Calvin, he was a man of God and a very godly—perhaps one of the most godly of the Reformants. And I was preaching in a Presbyterian church earlier, last year, and I was preaching about God’s dealings with Israel. Much the same that I tried to give an outline here. And the pastor, who was obviously a committed Calvinist, said afterwards about my message, “John Calvin has been dancing in heaven tonight!” Which was one of the nicest things that anybody has ever said about my preaching. So I believe in predestination. But I also know that I have a free will. And the Bible confirms that. I’m responsible for the choices that I make.
I think the resolution comes through trying to comprehend the extent of God’s knowledge. Recently I’ve been overwhelmed by the revelation of the knowledge of God. It is measureless. It’s unlimited. There’s nothing that God does not know. He knows the number of hairs on each head here in this auditorium right now. None of us know the number of hairs on our own head, but God knows them. And then you multiply that by five billion people in the world today, and God knows the number of hairs on every head. Chinese heads, Russian heads, American heads, He knows the number.
God is also so attentive to detail. Jesus said not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Father. I heard a preacher say God takes time out to attend the sparrow’s funeral. His attention is to detail.
And I also believe—this is something that you can consider—if you fully know something now, if you completely know it totally, you know its whole past and you know its whole future. Total knowledge of anything or any person at any time lets you into the total past and the total future. So I believe God knows everything that will happen. I’m glad He does because He’s in total control. If there were things that were going to happen that God didn’t know about, He might not be in control. God never has an emergency. He’s aware of what’s taking place, He knows the course that our lives will take, that human history will take. But, He doesn’t make us do things. Can you accept that? Because He knows us intimately He knows how we’ll react in every situation. He knows the choices that we’ll make. But He doesn’t compel us to make those choices.
I thought of a little example which I’m rather hesitant to give but I’ll try to do it. This is just in human terms. There was this wealthy, committed Christian who was getting near the end of his life and he had two sons, Jim and Jack—with all due respect to present persons. And he wanted the great bulk of his estate to go to the use of God’s kingdom. But neither of his two sons were saved. But in his will he ordained that a certain evangelist would preach his funeral sermon and he knew that both his sons would be there. And he made out his will in the light of this knowledge of his two sons. So, when the evangelist preached, Jim the elder, didn’t respond. Jack responded, gave his heart to the Lord and was wonderfully converted. Then when they opened the will they discovered that the great bulk of the estate had been willed to Jack. Although at the time the will was written, Jack was not converted. So, the father knew exactly how his two sons would respond in a given situation. And he made his plan according to that. But he didn’t compel his son to be saved. In fact, he wasn’t even present on earth when his son got saved.
Does that help you, does it show you? If it doesn’t help you, don’t let it confuse you. But I believe that this is the key. I have been so overwhelmed by contemplating the total knowledge of God of every person, every situation. I mean, the tiniest little microbe, the smallest bacteria—He knows how they’re behaving. That’s one of the secrets of healing. He knows exactly the total condition of our body and He knows how to deal with that condition.
I think that’s the best I can do for those.
Now we come to what is probably the one that could be a little controversial. Everybody knows I’m never controversial! This is about Christians basically taking part in protests or other similar demonstrations against abortion. Let me say, first of all, I think abortion is a terrible crime. I think it was Mother Teresa who said, “What hope is there left for a nation when its mothers murder their own babies?” And I’ve learned by dealing with people and helping them through deliverance that God classifies abortion as murder. But let me say quickly, in case it should concern anybody here, if you meet God’s conditions, He’ll forgive you and cleanse you of your guilt. So I am totally opposed to abortion.
When I spoke about the church and its relationship to the Roman Empire I said they didn’t hold protests, they didn’t stage marches as far as we know. They didn’t apparently use any form of propaganda that was available. What I intended to convey was there are means available to the church which no government can withhold, no dictator can prevent us using. And they are the most effective. I would say those means are, and still are today, prayer, testimony and the preaching of the word of God. I want to emphasize testimony. Because I think what dethroned the Roman Empire more than anything else was the testimony of thousands of Christians from different social levels, different racial backgrounds, all saying Jesus changed my life. He’s alive. I think ultimate that impact broke that monolithic structure of the Roman Empire. I say that because I believe we as Christians need to return to an emphasis on personal testimony. We’ve talked here about sowing seed. Many times you have an opportunity to sow a seed that you’ll never see germinate. But somebody else will come along when that seed has started to grow and will reap what’s grown out of it.
As regards to the practice of staging protests, I better read what’s here.
In submitting to government, should anti-abortionists physically prevent women from having abortions? I don’t really know how they can physically prevent women from having abortions. But I would say Christians should not resort to physical violence, in my opinion, that is not in line with the whole teaching of the New Testament. But I don’t think that’s really a practical question, in a way, because I don’t know how you can prevent a woman from having an abortion by physical violence.
This one says Jesus told us to occupy until His return. I understand the word “occupy:” in this sense: as a military connotation. I think that’s a mistake. I looked the word up in the Greek New Testament, it has a business connotation. The master in the parable in Luke 19 gave ten minas, or ten pounds, one to each servant and said, “Occupy [do business with them, cause them to multiply] until I get back.” So I think a military analogy is not exactly appropriate.
My question. How far am I justified to go as a Christian in fighting such things as abortion, lies in the media, disinformation, infringement of my First Amendment rights as a Christian, pornography, and so on? Personally, I believe Christians are entitled to everything that’s legal. It’s not a question of whether we’re entitled to do it, it’s a question of what works best. And here I’ll just offer my opinion. I think sometimes aggressive demonstrations, sit-ins—and somebody has said the same in one of these questions—they’re counterproductive. As a result, all that’s gone on—and the blame is not exclusively at the door of Christians—basically, the United States is a polarized nation. Everybody is either for or against abortion. Pro life or pro choice. I think that’s unfortunate because I think there are a lot of people who would be pro Jesus if they had the opportunity. See, I ask myself how many of the people who are pro choice have really been presented with the gospel? Unquestionably, in my opinion, our first responsibility is to preach the gospel to those people and not view them as outcasts or criminals, but view them with love.
I think there’s a certain lack of love come in in some areas. To give you what happens to be a testimony about my radio program, which is heard, as you’ve been told, in most parts of the world. And at one time, I’m not sure that it’s true or not, was broadcast in English from Manila in the Philippines. There was a lady, I won’t reveal her name, who was a militant feminist, a lesbian and a Marxist. And when I say militant, she and her associates were buying revolvers in order to shoot men. And she found herself with some of her associates in a small ship in the China Sea. I don’t know what they were going there for, that’s not my business. A storm began to rise. The other few people on the vessel said, “Listen, go down into the hold, switch on the radio and find out what the weather report is.” She switched on the radio and heard “Today With Derek Prince.” And, was saved there in the hold of that ship with one message, just part of a message. And she said afterwards I was saying I was going to close and then I added something more, it was what I added that got her saved. Well, she is now as militant on the other side as she was. Her committed aim is to reach people like herself and change them. Well, to me that’s more important than just telling those people how bad they are or passing laws to prevent them doing the bad things.
I’ve often asked people this question. Which kind of situation would you rather live in? A country with good people and bad laws or a country with good laws and bad people. Well, you’re silly if you don’t answer a country with bad laws and good people because bad people can make good laws bad. We’ve seen that very clearly demonstrated in the last few decades. And you see, you need to bear in mind laws do not change the hearts of people. Laws can, to a certain extent, restrain crime, and that’s very important. But with regard to abortion, as I understand it, in France they’ve now more or less perfected a pill which guarantees abortion. There is no legal way you can prevent people using that pill. All you’ll do is start a black market in pills. I don’t believe that the passing of laws from now on can rectify this situation. If it could, by all means let’s do what we can. But I really believe the remedy is to change the hearts of people.
One thing is very significant about the ministry of Jesus. All sorts of social evils existed in his day, slavery, et cetera. And He never preached against them. He never dealt with social problems. He always dealt with the root problem which is the human heart. And His aim was to change the hearts of men and women. And the only power that can do that is the power of the gospel with the Holy Spirit. And that, in my opinion, is by far the most effective answer. That doesn’t mean to say we don’t use other means if they’ll work, if they’re practical, if they’re available.
One thing I notice with my British background is American Christians are tremendously conscious of media. They hardly do anything without thinking what will the media say. Well, the media are very influential but the media are not God. Our whole series of demonstrations that have been held in Washington have been aimed to impress the media. And maybe to impress Congress that there’s a large number of people who think a certain way. Well, to my way of thinking it’s much more important to impress God. I would say some of the meetings that have been aimed at impressing the media haven’t had much impact on God. There’s a strange silence here. I hope you’ll keep loving me.
The other questions are so similar. This one says do you believe Christian protests are truly accomplishing what God desires in situations like anti-abortion picketing, or wouldn’t more be done through prayer and fasting? Well now, let’s be very fair to the people who do the picketing. Most of them also pray and fast. So it’s not either/or. But for me, practically, the question is what is it worth my while giving my strength and energy to what will be the most effective? And whereas we don’t have a clear command in the New Testament to picket anything or anybody, we have a very clear command to preach the gospel to every creature. And I believe that there are multitudes of people in the pro choice camp who, if the gospel were presented to them attractively in love, without them being smeared with some kind of accusatory title, they would respond. I really think that the root question is how much love do we have? We have love for the unborn babies. Do we love the mothers that have the abortions? I want to ask that question. Do you love the mothers that have the abortions? Who knows the background of many of those women. Who knows what they’ve been through with men. Who knows how many men have betrayed them and abused them. How many of them were abused in childhood. Who knows how many scars that they carry in their own heart. To me, the greatest victory would be to see them healed. And the only power that can do that is the proclaimed gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
I’ve got a little simple analysis of the problem of America. It’s so naive that you won’t bother with it. But the problem of America is there are a lot more bad people than there are good people. And furthermore, the bad people are increasing more rapidly than the good. Okay? And there’s only one radical, practical solution. Which is, to change a lot of bad people into good people. And I happen to know it can be done because it happened to me. And it happened in one night. At 11:00 o’clock that night I was a bad person with bad motives and no knowledge of God and out of harmony with everything. And by the next morning I was totally changed. My desire was to live for God, serve Him and do the right thing. I wasn’t perfect by no means. I’m still not perfect, whether you believe that or not. But, I was different. And I would have to say out of my life there’s no counting the number of people that have been touched and changed by God.
I heard the gospel, I didn’t know it was the gospel—and it was hardly recognizable as a matter of fact—but I heard it in a Pentecostal church. And they had a week of special meetings. At the end, only one person had raised his hand. Guess who it was? Me. So they were lamenting that the results were rather unsatisfying! Which I understand. But I’d have to say without being boastful that from then until now millions of people have been touched by the gospel through that one person that they weren’t very satisfied with. You see what I’m trying to communicate to you? We can go to the root of the problem when no one else can do that. The media can’t do it, the government can’t do it, the legislators can’t do it. We have the answer.
When I started my radio program just over ten years ago, the word that was in my heart was proclaim. I’ve always regarded myself as a teacher systematically expounding verse by verse, line upon line. But something galvanized me into the thought that I need to proclaim the truth. I always had a feeling I had to explain it. I got this impression, just proclaim it and let the Holy Spirit do the explaining. Out of thousands of cases there’s that one woman that I mentioned, that lesbian, feminist, aggressive, harsh. And she got saved not by a lot of explanation, not by a lot of argument, but by the impact of the word of God. At least, that’s how I feel about things. So, I praise God, I’ll pray for the people that hold protests, I’ll support them, and I certainly admire their commitment and their dedication and their zeal and their concern for the unborn. But if I had to parcel out my time I’m not sure that I would find time to take part because I think there are other things that I could do that are more effective.
Okay. I hope you still love me. Now where are we going from here? The next series of questions is about Israel. Naturally, there are a number of questions. How are the church and Israel related? Does Galatians 3:29 not mean that believers are Abraham’s seed—adopted Jews? We better look at Galatians 3:29. That’s a very common, I would say, assumption. I don’t believe it’s correct. That’s my personal opinion. Galatians 3:29 says:
“If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, and heirs according to promise.”
Galatians 3:29. So, all who come to God through Jesus Christ, or belong to Christ, are Abraham’s offspring. That doesn’t make us Jews. That’s the simple statement. You see, if you turn to Romans 4:17, speaking about Abraham and quoting from the book of Genesis:
“As it is written, a father of many nations I have made you, in the sight of him who you believed [that’s God]...”
So God made Abraham a father of many nations. Hebrew, goyim. He’s not only the father of the Jewish people; he’s the father of many goyim who’ve come to faith in Jesus Christ. The fact that I’m a believer in Jesus makes me Abraham’s descendant but it doesn’t make me a Jew. I see a puzzled look on the faces of some of you.
What is or will be the role of Israel in the final evangelization of the world? Is world evangelization the exclusive duty of the church or is there an aspect that the church will not fulfill that is reserved for the Israel that recognizes her Messiah? That’s a very intelligent question and I cannot give you a definitive and final answer. I’ll give you my opinion. And as I’ve said many times to people, you can disagree with me and still get to heaven!
In reading the book of Revelation—I have to assume that you’re familiar with some of these passages—it says that there will be 144,000 out of twelve tribes of Israel that God will seal for His end time purposes. I am naive. I believe it will be 144,000. Not 143,999 and not 144,0001. Precisely 144,000 and I believe they will come out of all the tribes that are mentioned. And bear in mind the tribe of Dan is not mentioned, that’s a significant fact. I believe there will be just what the Bible says from the tribes of Israel. See, the last time Israel is mentioned in the New Testament, it’s in Revelation in this passage and then in the description of the New Jerusalem, the names of the gates were the twelve sons of Israel. I see no reason to think that means anything other than what the whole Bible indicates, the twelve sons of Israel.
Now, I am excited because I really believe that God is going to move in supernatural grace and power in Israel among the Jewish people, and that thousands of them are going to come to the Lord Jesus. And out of them there will be 144,000, 12,000 from every one of the tribes named. And then, if you look at the next passage in Revelation, it’s Revelation 7 and then Revelation 14. So we’ve looked at Revelation 7, we didn’t turn there. Turn now to Revelation 14, and it says:
“I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.”
To me it seems probable that the 144,000 of chapter 7 and the 144,000 of chapter 14 are the same persons. That seems to be reasonable. I understand that these have all given their lives as martyrs; that’s why they’re with the Lamb on the Mount Zion. They’re a very special category of people. It says there was no guile found in their mouths. That makes them very special Israelites. Just like Nathaniel was very special when he came to Jesus. “Behold a true Israelites, in whom there is no guile.” See? That’s the mark of a true Israelite. While there was one in the time of Nathaniel, by the end of the age there will be 144,000.
I have to avoid getting into this too deeply but each one had the name of Jesus and the name of the Father on their foreheads. You see, they were the counter to the antichrist who insisted on having his name either on the forehead or the hand of all the people he brought under his dominion. And typically, the antichrist doesn’t mind whether he gets it on your hand or on your forehead, as long as he’s got you. God will only put it on the forehead because He wants your mind. He wants your willing, yielding, believing submission.
I shouldn’t have gone into this. If you look back in Revelation 7:4:
“I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand from every tribe of the sons of Israel.”
And then it says, verse 9:
“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count from every nation, and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne, and before the Lamb...”
I could believe there’s a connection. I could believe that the 144,000 Israelites were God’s instrument to reap that harvest of all other nations, peoples, tribes and tongues. That would be a logical connection.
And then it says of this uncountable multitude:
“...these are those that came out of the great tribulation.”
So, whether you like it or not, this present age is going to end with terrible tribulation. And immediately after the tribulation there’s going to appear a sign in the sun, moon and stars, and the Lord Jesus Christ is coming in power and glory. So, for those who believe the church is going to take over at the end of the age, we have to say the church is going to be responsible for a terrible state of affairs. Because, that’s the final state of unredeemed humanity before the actual personal return of the Lord.
Returning to the question, and I’ve been talking about this much more at length than I intended, but as I’ve been talking, a conviction has formed within me that God is going to use the Israelites before the age actually closes in a tremendous, final reaping of the harvest. That’s a personal understanding. Thank you for asking the question.
Now let’s go on. When an Israelite gets saves, has a born again experience and is baptized in the Holy Spirit, is he then considered to be part of Israel or the church? Well, when an American gets saved and has a real born again experience, is he part of America or is he part of the church? The answer is he’s part of both. We don’t lose our national identity by becoming members of the church. But, our supreme commitment thereafter is not to our own nation but to the church of Jesus Christ. So, in that respect, an Israelite is no different from an American or a Britisher or Russian.
Oh, how did we get here? Well, this is a very good question, I should have dealt with it. You have to be familiar a little bit with the New Testament. In the great council that was held in Acts 15 to decide what to do with Gentiles who were believing in Jesus, you remember that? See, it’s very interesting because the boot is now on the other foot. Gentiles are deciding what to do with Jews who become believers in Jesus. And actually, the Assemblies of God in this country had a council meeting to determine what to do about Jewish believers. Eventually, one of their senior officials stood up and said, “Well, we don’t have any option. Nineteen centuries ago they took us, now we have to take them!”
Then it was decided there were four things only that would be imposed upon Gentile believers. They were not required to observe the law of Moses, they were not required to be circumcised. But these four things, and this is written out:
“It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements. Abstain from food sacrificed to idols, blood [that means eating food with blood in it], meat of strangled animals [and that’s the same requirement because if you strangle an animal, the blood stays in it], and sexual immorality.”
And notice that eating food with blood in it is placed one exactly the same level as sexual immorality. And I believe those apply. Those are the only requirements of the law of Moses that apply to all Gentile believers. They’re still in force today. Shall I read them again? Maybe I should. To abstain from food sacrificed to idols, eating blood, meat of strangled animals, and sexual immorality.
Then this: When you spoke of the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael, will any of the seed of Ishmael be included as the Israel of God? And are they considered true Jews? The answer is definitely not. But, all descendants of Ishmael who believe in the Lord Jesus and His sacrificial death will become part of the body of Christ. Thank God for that. And I incidentally believe there’s going to be a great ingathering from amongst them also.
And in case anybody should think that Ruth and I are prejudiced, our present main endeavor is to get my radio program into Arabic to reach the Arabs of the Middle East, who are the most unreached large segment of humanity anywhere. Recently Youth With A Mission conducted an investigation of forty least reached national groups with the aim of reaching them. And of those forty, twenty-four were Islamic nations. So that gives you some idea of how little real penetration there has been of the gospel amongst the Islamic nations, who are the descendants of Ishmael primarily. So, may God help us to reach them and may they be brought in, and may the Lord be glorified. And would you please pray for that because we’ve never had so many frustrations and delays with anything we’ve tried to do as with getting that program into Arabic. Because, an Egyptian Christian who was working closely with us said about Islam, “The head of the serpent is in the Middle East. And unless you crush the serpent’s head you haven’t dealt with it.” So, some time or other we have to deal with Islam in the Middle East.
Okay. Now then, this is the miscellaneous group.
Does the local church have the right to establish rules for membership, such as refraining from alcohol, et cetera? This is a very good and important question. We’ve got to distinguish between rules in two ways. Rules as a means of achieving righteousness with God have been ruled out. No one achieves righteousness with God by keeping rules. It’s only by faith in Jesus Christ, His atoning death, His resurrection.
On the other hand, once you have been made righteous, you’re going to keep the appropriate rules. And that will be the expression of your righteousness. Do you understand? God’s righteousness doesn’t make rebels, it makes people who obey the appropriate rules. And there have to be rules in life. A family has to have rules. Otherwise it falls apart. A lot of families in this generation have fallen apart precisely because there are no rules. And the fathers abdicated from their responsibility.
And the local church has to have rules. People have to know their boundaries. What am I permitted to do, what am I not permitted to do. And they have to be arrived, in essence, by a consensus of the people. This is what we stand for, this is the way we commit ourselves to live.
But, keeping those rules doesn’t make you righteous. The problem is church after church, and denomination after denomination, has established its rules and then people have slipped into the impression that keeping those rules makes them righteous. It doesn’t. Actually, the rules then become a barrier because the Baptists say, “Well, we keep our rules, they’re right. So, Roman Catholics don’t keep the same rules, they’re not right. We can’t fellowship with them.”
However, I would recommend that the rules be kept as simple, as basic and as few as possible. One evidence of insecurity in leadership is that it multiplies rules. “Well, we don’t get results by twenty rules so let’s have forty rules. And forty isn’t doing it so let’s have a hundred.” When you get that syndrome, you know there’s something wrong. I think a church has got a right to say we expect our members to abstain from alcohol. I wouldn’t recommend it because I think it’s really right against the New Testament. But I mean, if people feel that way, that’s their privilege. You’d have to exclude both Jesus and Paul and Timothy from those congregations. I mean, if that’s what you want!
I do think there should be regulations about dress, but keep it simple, stupid, I’ve already quoted that. Let’s not make life unnecessarily complicated. And let’s bear in mind the primary rule is love one another. Amen!
Okay. I’m still here, I haven’t been stoned. Please ask Brother Derek to deal with the two questions on Page 20. I’ll do that last, that’s the two questions I left.
Since God’s law is love, please explain Luke 14:26. This is a good question.
“If any man come to me, and hat not his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, an sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”
So, I’ve said love is the rule of the Christian life. I wasn’t the first person to say it, Paul said it before me. And then a statement by Jesus, “You can’t be my disciple unless you hate your father, your mother, your wife, your children, your brothers, your sisters, and your own life.”
Now, the words love and hate are used in various ways in the New Testament. And there is a way of using the two of them together in which if you love something you have anything that interferes with your love for that thing. You see what I’m saying? So Jesus says, “I want a love for me that will not brook any rival in any other relationship. If your father takes precedence over me, you’ve got to hate him. If your wife takes preference over me, you’ve got to hate her. If your husband takes precedence over me, you’ve got to hate him.” But, you see, and He ends up “and your own life also.” Your own soulish life, which I define as your will, your intellect and your emotions. So, what you’ve got to say is, “I lay down my will, I lay down my intellect, I lay down my emotions. If at any time they conflict with God’s will for my life, I hate them. I will not let anything stand between me and my commitment to loyalty to Jesus.” I hope that’s been helpful.
Now here’s a very good one. It’s a little bit long but I’ll try and read it. What surprises me is I’m reading without my glasses. I didn’t think I could do that. Somebody must have prayed for me. It sounds like, in chapter 15 of Romans, we’re almost into an area that could be compared to situation ethics; that is, we are asked to behave according to what we believe may be the consequences of our behavior. God, on the other hand, really wants us to be principle-based in our behavior; that is, not consider the need or consequence, but rather the scriptural principle and then act on it. For example, you believe your husband is wrong but respect him. Licentiousness, in a certain manner, anyway. Or you need some new tires but tithe as usual and drive on the old ones. These are examples of principles, you understand? Did you get that? It appears that this chapter, that’s chapter 14 and 15, is calling on us to behave with love, wisdom, sensitivity and insight to individual situations. But how does this differ from situation ethics and Bible-based principles of behavior?
You’ve got the question? You understand what it is? A very sensible question. Romans 14 and 15 says consider your brother. Don’t do a certain thing if it will offend your brother. But, how does that tie in with unreserved commitment to the principles of God’s word? The answer is that Romans 14 and 15 only deals with two particular types of problems. Number one is the observance of food, and the other is the observance of certain days. So the principles in Romans 14 and 15 do not apply to all situations but only to those two particular areas of behavior. And Paul says in those two areas yield to your brother’s opinions, consider his prejudices and act in such a way as not to offend him unnecessarily. Okay?
Please ask Brother Derek to deal with the two closing questions on Page 20 of the study guide. These are my responsibilities, I put them in. I’m beginning to wonder whether I should have done it. Question number one, what did God love in Jacob and what did he hate in Esau? Okay? You’ve got to remember what I was teaching. I’ll give you my opinion. It’s a very important question. I have a series of radio messages called “If You Want God’s Best.” It’s also a little booklet. I think I deal with this. You see, the interesting thing is by contemporary standards, Esau was the good guy and Jacob, as I said, was a heel. I’m not justifying Jacob’s treatment of his brother—for which he paid a heavy price.
But, first of all, let’s read about Esau because scripture’s estimate of Esau is very different from what ours would be. Hebrews 12:15:
“See to it that one comes short of the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled...”
And that root of bitterness that he’s speaking about is a person. See that there’s no one among you that answers to that description. And then it says:
“...that there be no immoral or godless person, like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.”
So they put Esau in the category with the immoral and the godless. Why? Because he despised his birthright.
What did Jacob have in his favor in the sight of God? He appreciated his birthright. That’s the great difference. And you see, if you want God’s favor, you may be a Jacob—thank God He knows how to deal with Jacobs—He takes time and He’s ruthless, but He deals. But if you want God’s favor you must have that characteristic that Jacob had. That you think the blessing of God is more worth than anything else in life. You esteem the call of God on your life as a priceless privilege. You believe in the promises of God. See, Esau shrugged his shoulders, “Well, what will the birthright do me?” With the birthright went all the precious promises of God. In despising the birthright, Esau despised those promises. And there are lots of good guys around who don’t do anybody any harm, pay their debts and yet they’re classified with the godless and the immoral because they have no appreciation of what God has offered them.
If you want to really anger God, turn down His offer. If you study the New Testament, that’s when God gets angry. He can put up with a lot of sins but when He goes to offer you His best at infinite cost, and you shrug your shoulders and say, “I’d rather have a glass of whiskey,” that makes God angry. That was the sin of Esau. To say one word, it’s carnality. Just more concerned with the things of time than eternity; with the things of the flesh than the Spirit.
I want to turn the tables on you. I want to ask you the final question. I won’t embarrass you, I really want a response. I’m not trying to draw you out, I just want to know as a matter of interest. The second question was will the church be a remnant in the same way as Israel that gets saved will be a remnant? Now, think it over for a moment and tell me what would be your answer. And you’ve only got two possibilities, yes or no. All right? Will the church be a remnant? Think it over for a moment and if you say yes it will be remnant, it won’t be the whole group of people that’s called the church today, I want you to stand up. That’s your answer. The church will be a remnant. Well, turn around, you people at the front, and look. I don’t want to embarrass the people that are not standing by no means. But that impresses me. I’d have to say I agree with you. You may sit down, thank you. I believe that’s how it will be.
Let me read in closing a few verses from Matthew 24. This is the final scripture that we’ll leave with. Matthew 24, beginning at verse 9 and reading through verse 14.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of my name...”
Who is you? You is us, that’s right.
“...and at that time [verse 10] many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.”
“Many who? Christians, that’s right. Verse 11:
“And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. [verse 12] Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.”
And the word for love there is agape, normally used of Christians. And then:
“But the one who has endured to the end, it is he who shall be saved.”
So you’re saved now but to stay saved you’ve got to endure to the end. Is that right? And in the middle of all that we get verse 14:
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all nations...”
So the greater the pressure against us, the greater the urgency to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom.
God bless you, thank you for being so cooperative, attentive and altogether wonderful.