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How Should We Prepare?

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Part 2 of 2: Longing for His Appearing

By Derek Prince

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Be encouraged and inspired with this Bible-based sermon by Derek Prince.

Be encouraged and inspired with this Bible-based sermon by Derek Prince.

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Code: MV-4134-100-ENG

Transcript

  1. Derek Prince Tape # 4134

I want to recapitulate briefly what I said last night because I want to build on that for tonight’s message. Those of you who hear my radio teaching regularly will have noticed that recapitulation is part of my teaching. My aim is to teach. Somebody said once that nothing has been taught until something has been learned and that’s a challenging statement. I don’t judge what I’ve taught by what I’ve said but by what people have gathered and taken away for themselves. I was for 5 years a principal of a teacher training college for African teachers in East Africa and one of the principles we inculcated into our teachers is that recapitulation is an essential part of good teaching. I make no apology, I’m going to recapitulate briefly the theme of my message.

How many of you were here last night? I’d be interested to know. That’s wonderful! Good to see you back and welcome to those who are here for the first time.

My basic text last night was really 2Timothy 4:8 where Paul is writing near the close of his life from prison to Timothy and he says,

“Finally there is laid up for me the crown or the wreath of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day. Not to me only but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

I pointed out that that verse indicates that within the total body of Christ the Lord recognizes a special group. This group is marked out by the fact that they have loved his appearing or in the NIV version that they are longing for the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. For that special group God has a special honor which is the crown or the wreath of righteousness.

I’m very careful about speaking about special groups within the body because I think sometimes special groups can become special problems. But here is something that the word of God actually authenticates. God looks all through the body of Christ and he says, “There’s a sister that’s longing for my appearing. There’s a brother that’s longing for my appearing.” He says to the angels or whoever is responsible for this part of the administration of heaven, “Be sure to prepare for them a crown of righteousness.” See?

This became very real to me to the point where I had to examine my own life as to whether I was qualifying for that crown of righteousness. This is not primarily a message I’m aiming at other people, it’s a message I’ve applied to myself. I invite you to apply it to yourself. I can’t force you to apply it, I can just make it possible for you to do so.

In my teaching yesterday evening I analyzed four Biblical reasons why every Christian should be longing for the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. I will briefly recapitulate them and then I will turn to the theme of my message tonight. Reason number one, the appearing of Jesus in glory will bring about the consummation of our personal salvation which is the transformation of our physical body into the likeness of his glorious body. I pointed out a number of scriptures which clearly indicate that our personal salvation is not complete until we are equipped with our resurrection body.

Secondly, the appearing of the Lord Jesus will bring about the final consummation of our union both with Jesus as our bridegroom in the marriage supper and with one another. Paul says in that connection so shall we be ever with the Lord. After that, no more separation, total wonderful union throughout eternal ages.

Thirdly, I suggested to you that the establishment of Messiah’s kingdom, which will be brought about by the personal appearing of the Messiah Jesus, is the only hope for suffering humanity as a whole. Nothing else will terminate the awful plagues of war, oppression, famine, sickness, poverty and strife. That’s my conviction and I believe I gave you a number of scriptures that substantiate that.

Fourthly, which takes us beyond our own personal interest, only at the appearing of the Lord Jesus and the redemption of the believers bodies will creation be released from the bondage of corruption which was brought upon it by the fall of man. If you were not here last night you may find that a little puzzling. But, one thing you can do is obtain the tape from last night. I don’t have time to go into that again and it’s a field that the average contemporary Christian has given comparatively little thought to but it’s very real, very scriptural.

Tonight I’m going to go on and apply this in a very practical way. I am going to say to you if we are truly longing for Christ’s appearing what will we do about it? How will it show in the way we live? What will be its practical outworking in our daily lives. I’m going to suggest to you four or maybe five different ways in which it will cause us to live lives that are different from those of people who are not eagerly awaiting the appearing of Jesus.

First of all, it will cause us to cultivate personal holiness. I think that’s very important. I pointed out last night but I can say it again. As you read the New Testament I believe you will find that the greatest single motivation offered by the apostles for holiness of life is the anticipation of the Lord’s return. My personal conviction and observation is that where Christians are not living in eager anticipation of the Lord’s return the standard of holiness in those Christians is below that of the New Testament. I’m going to give you four powerful scriptures. I don’t want to dwell on any of them, I think really they speak for themselves. I think you’ll see in every one of these scriptures it’s the anticipation of the Lord’s return that is the basic motive for true holiness.

We’ll turn, first of all, to Titus 2:11–14. I read this last night but it doesn’t do any harm to read it again.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present age...”

I pointed out last night that grace is free but it’s not cheap. We can’t do anything to earn it but when we receive it it places obligations upon us. One of the things it does is teach us that we must live a certain kind of life. This is a demand of grace that we live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age.

Then the great motive is stated in the next verse:

“...looking for the blessed hope, and the appearing of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ.”

What is the motivation for holiness? It’s the anticipation of the appearing of the Lord Jesus.

Then it says concerning him he gave himself for us in sacrifice on the cross that he might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify himself his own special people, zealous for good works. The redeemed of the Lord are a special kind of people who are marked out by the fact that they are zealous for good works. They’re eager to do their best in every area of life.

Then in 1Thessalonians 3:12–13 Paul says this, it’s one of his prayers, one of his many prayers for the people he writes to.

“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another, and to all, just as we do to you: so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”

So, our hearts are to be established blameless in holiness. That is certainly a high standard, isn’t it? In view of what? In view of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. That suggests to me that when Christ appears and gathers all his saints to him with the resurrection body, every one of us will be exposed to the universe. It will show in us just what level of holiness we have actually achieved. Paul returns to that theme again and again, especially in the epistles to the Thessalonians. There’s going to be some way in which every Christian is going to be revealed to the universe in the level of holiness that he has achieved. That’s a thought that should challenge us.

Then in 2Peter 3:11–14 Peter deals with the same theme, our anticipation of the Lord’s return, what he calls the day of the Lord. He says:

“Therefore since all these things will be dissolved...”

Bear in mind that all material things will ultimately be dissolved. There’s nothing permanent in the material realm. Don’t hold onto it too fast because one day it’s going to vanish from your brow.

You know, the great conqueror Alexander the Great who in 10 years conquered the known ancient world, perhaps the most rapid and total record of conquest in military history, at the age of 33 died of a fever. His command was that when he was buried, or rather laid out for burial, all his soldiers were to file past his body and observe the fact that his hands were placed out upwards totally empty. The lesson: he could take nothing with him.

Verse 11:

“Therefore since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be...”

And then Peter answers his own question.

“...in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hasting the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved [being on fire], and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”

Those are the basic requirements for being ready for the Lord. First of all, in peace. No ruptured relationships which can be healed. I think that’s very important.

I just celebrated my 70th birthday last year and there had been a time when another minister had been very critical of me. We had never really resolved that. I sat down and I wrote him a handwritten very confidential, personal letter in which I said I anticipate many more years of active service but I don’t want to be called home and leave any unfinished business. I just want to make sure that there’s nothing between you and me. I got back quite quickly a likewise handwritten letter in which he gave me that assurance.

I don’t think that on the whole I have a large number of ruptured relationships in my Christian walk. I’ve repaired some just recently but Ruth and I in our prayer list which we maintain have a little section for relationships that need repair. I doubt where there are many of us here that don’t have one or two. What I want to testify, since we made that list and put those names there we’ve been able to cross off most of the names. God has moved in a wonderful way to heal those relationships. We are charged to do everything in our power to be found in peace without any quarreling, without any unresolved complaints or bitterness.

It’s not always possible, the Bible recognizes that. The Bible says as much as is in you, live at peace with all men. I take that very seriously.

Peter says without spot. I think that refers to the garment of righteousness which Christ has given us. If we sin, if we can admit a specific sin—and how many of you recognize that Christians do sometimes sin? Let’s be honest about it. I’m the first to recognize that. If we do sin that’s a spot on that garment. Jesus talks about keeping our garments without spot. The wonderful thing about being a Christian is we know how to get our garment cleansed. Oh how I have compassion on people who have a guilty conscience and don’t know how to be resolved of it. We have a wonderful cleaning fluid that cleans all garments so that there never even was any indication there was a stain there. Do you know what that is? The blood of Jesus. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us. It’s very important that if you sin and the Holy Spirit convicts you, you repent, you confess and you receive the cleansing that comes from Jesus through his blood.

Somebody has said it pays to keep short accounts with God. Don’t build up a big account of unconfessed sin because the bigger it gets the harder it gets to get back to God.

Thirdly, he says blameless. I understand that means there is nothing we ought to have done and could have done that we’ve left undone. We’ve been faithful in every duty that was within our power to fulfill.

So that’s the challenge there and it’s in light of the coming of the Lord, our gathering together to him. We’re going to appear in glory but we’re going to be very public, the whole universe will see us. Just meditate on those three requirements. In peace, without spot and blameless. When Peter says be diligent I think you’d agree with me it takes diligence. It will not happen through carelessness or sloppy living. It takes real attention to spiritual issues.

One other scripture in connection with the requirements of personal holiness as we envisage the return of the Lord. 1John 3:2–3.

“Beloved, now are we children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be: but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

That’s our resurrection body that I’ve been talking about. When we see him we’ll be like him, we’ll have the same kind of body.

Now John continues:

“Every one who has this hope in him [Jesus] purifies himself, just as he is pure.”

That’s a mark of those who truly hope to see Jesus and be transformed into his likeness. Everyone that has that hope purifies himself.

If I were your pastor—which I’m not—and I were to see that you paid no attention in your daily living to purifying yourself, you took no real steps to become purer; I would have to say to you you don’t really expect to see the Lord. You may say yes to the doctrine but it’s not real in your experience because everyone that has this hope in him purifies himself. That’s a mark. If you think about it logically that we’re going to be exposed to the total glory of heaven in the presence of God the Father and Jesus and the holy angels, we certainly need purity. I mean, that dazzling light is going to reveal every spot on our garments. It’s going to reveal any defect or flaw in our character. It’s challenging.

If I said no more than this tonight I would leave you enough to act on. But, I have more to say.

The second thing that I believe we need to be doing if we’re preparing for the return of the Lord is we need to complete our assigned task. Look, first of all, in Ephesians 2:10.

“For we are his [God’s] workmanship...”

The Greek word is ?poeima? from which we get the English word poem and it means not just something that’s made, it means a masterpiece. We are God’s creative masterpiece. It always blesses me to think just to demonstrate what he could do to the whole universe, when he wanted to make this masterpiece do you know where he went for the materials? To the scrap heap. He said to the universe, “See what I can do with lives that are broken, stained, out of harmony? Out of those lives I can make what will be my signature piece throughout eternity.” So, we are his masterpiece.

“...created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

We are all created in Christ Jesus, each one of us, for specific good works which are our assigned task. Really, we don’t have to decide what we’re going to do, we need to find out what God has prepared us to do. He has a prepared task for every one.

I will tell you, the satisfied Christians, the fulfilled Christians are those who are walking in their assigned task.

Now, in Revelation 19—we’ve already looked in this passage but I want to look again at one characteristic of the bride. Revelation 19:7–8.

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give him glory: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready.”

Let me point out that the bride has to make herself ready. God doesn’t do that. He provides her with the means but she has to do it.

“And to her it was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”

If you have the King James Version I think it says “the righteousness” but that’s not really totally accurate. It’s the righteous acts of the saints. You see, when we trust Jesus for salvation his righteousness is imputed to us. We have what the theologians call imputed or reckoned righteousness. We receive it as a gift. But by the time we get to heaven that’s got to become outworked righteousness. Imputed righteousness has got to be translated into the righteous acts that we have done. You can’t just walk through life saying “I’m reckoned righteous.” It’s got to be demonstrated in the fact that you live a righteous life. There’s first imputed righteousness, then there’s outworked righteousness.

Paul says to the Philippians work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. God works in us but he can’t work in us more than we work out, you understand? The limit of what God can put in is the measure of what we put out.

Why I say his is because when you appear in your bridal attire you don’t want to have a skimpy little dress, do you? You want sufficient material for a beautiful bridal garment. But you’re only going to have enough material if you’ve had enough righteous acts. The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Think about it this way. Every righteous act that you make is one thread in the linen. You’re going to have to do a lot of righteous acts if you’re going to have a beautiful garment. That’s very real to me.

I’ll tell you one way. Years ago my first wife and I had a lady who was a friend of ours, a missionary in Jerusalem. She became very ill and hovered between life and death for quite awhile. She was a godly woman and she thought maybe it’s God’s time to take me home, and I’d love to go home. While she was thinking that one night the Lord gave her a dream and in this dream she saw herself working on a dress that she was making. As she looked at the details she saw that there was much of the dress that was not yet complete, especially the sleeves if I remember rightly. She realized that God was showing her you can’t come home yet because your dress isn’t complete. There’s a lot more righteous acts for you to do that are appointed for you before your dress will be complete.

Jesus talks about people who will be found naked. Why? Because it’s all profession but no action. Profession isn’t going to clothe you in that day. It’s action that will clothe you.

The third indication that we’re really anticipating the Lord’s return is continuing prayer. I’ll just read one passage from Luke 21. This is the chapter that corresponds to Matthew 24 and it’s Jesus’ outline of the events that will precede his return. It’s a prophetic discourse. I just use this version because I think it’s a little closer to the correct translation and in certain points it’s more vivid. We look, first of all, at verse 28. Jesus has described all the different types of problems and pressures and evil that will come upon the world as his return draws near. Instead of saying hide yourself in a cave or, you know, feel gloomy about it he says:

“When these things begin to take place, straighten up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption is drawing near.”

You understand that we who really believe in Jesus have a different view of world affairs from the world. The world is continually agonizing over mounting problems. As soon as they’ve made their way through one problem there’s two more. At the present moment it’s terrorism that’s occupying everybody. Jesus said at the end of this age lawlessness would abound. That’s just one aspect of that truth.

We see the same thing but we see it in a different light. Jesus said in Matthew when you see these things, these are the beginnings of labor pains, of birth pains. What’s going to come? The birth of a new age. We want to see the new age so we don’t object to the labor pains. You see? A husband that wants his wife to give him a beautiful little baby doesn’t get all distressed when the labor pains begin. If he’s got any sense he rushes her to the hospital and says, “Praise the Lord. Now I’m seeing the labor pains, I know the baby’s on the way.” That’s how we should respond to these things in the world. They are the labor pains of a new age that’s going to be born, a kingdom age.

Incidentally, in the natural I think you mothers would agree once the labor pains begin they become more and more frequent and more and more intense until the baby is born. That’s the normal rule. I believe it’s going to be that way with this age. I don’t think that we’re going to get a period of relaxation and peace. I think the labor pains are going to become more frequent, closer together and more intense.

But, we don’t get alarmed about that because we believe a new age is going to be born and we realize there’s no way that age could come except through a birth. We accept the labor pains and when we see these things we straighten up and we’re glad because we know our redemption is at hand. That’s just the attitude we need.

Then Jesus gives in the same chapter, Luke 21, very specific instruction about our prayer life. I’d like to say to you in general that I don’t think your Christian life will ever get beyond the scope of your prayer life. Your prayer life ultimately will determine just how much of a Christian life you really live. Praise God.

Look at what Peter says about prayer in this context. We’re in Luke 21:34 and following.

“Be on guard that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation, and drunkenness, and the worries of this life...”

Most professing Christians are not really in tremendous danger of dissipation or drunkenness, although it’s a temptation. But what about the worries of this life? I remember dear Corrie Ten Boom once saying, “When I discovered that worry could keep me from being ready for the Lord’s return I had a very different attitude toward worrying from that time onward.” Why? Because the reason for worry is you’re too much immersed in the things of time. You’re giving too much importance to things that are purely temporal. Jesus warns us against three things: dissipation, drunkenness and worry. Be on your guard. We need to be on our guard, every one of us needs to be on our guard.

Then he goes on to say if these things deaden your spirituality that day will come on you suddenly like a trap. That day is the day of the closing of the age and the Lord’s return.

“For it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth.”

The difference between us is our residential address is heaven. Remember I read last night Paul said our citizenship is in heaven. For people whose residential address is on earth it’s going to come on all of them. The writer of Hebrews says here we have no continuing city but we’re looking for one that is to come. It’s your attitude that will determine whether you’re caught by this thing that’s coming on the whole earth or whether you’ll survive.

Then Jesus gives this specific instruction about prayer.

“But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of man.”

If you have the King James Version you’ll understand why I’ve switched to this one because there is a difference. I have access to the original text and it’s simply that there are two possible Greek words. Some are in one manuscript, some are in another. But modern scholarship basically has accepted this as the most probable reading. To me it’s challenging. “Praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of man.”

The days that lie ahead are going to demand tremendous spiritual strength. How many of you would agree—who’ve been Christians 30 years or so—that we are exposed to all sorts of pressures today which really weren’t so manifest? In my experience the pressures increase every year. We talk about the problems of young Christians. I tell people you should consider the problems of old Christians. It does not become any easier to be a Christian. We’re going to need strength to withstand these pressures and stand before the Son of man. Jesus says where will we find strength? In what? In prayer. He says praying always. I believe that’s essential.

Let me compare something to you. Doctrinally, theologically I believe totally in the personal return in glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. But, I can believe it doctrinally and theologically and yet it can be very distant from my daily thinking unless I spend time with God’s word and in prayer. I don’t believe anybody can live in the real constant anticipation of the Lord’s return unless you shut yourself in as often as possible with God through his word and through prayer. I’ll always maintain the doctrinal stand but my personal life attitude is contingent upon my prayer life. I believe that’s scriptural. Jesus said be alert, pray continually that you may have the strength to escape, and to stand before the Son of man.

And again, you see, the anticipation is being presented before the Lord at his return.

Now we come to the fourth requirement. I’m not suggesting that these are exhaustive but I’m suggesting they are main requirements of scripture. Which is to speed or hasten the coming of that day. This may be a new thought to some of you. I want to go back to 2 Peter 3 and read that passage that I think we’ve already read twice. Verses 11–12.

“Therefore since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God...”

If you have the King James it will say “hastening unto” but almost all the modern translations have decided that the correct way to translate that is not hastening unto but hastening the coming of the day of God. One translation says “speeding its coming.” That’s a challenging thought because that indicates that there are things that we can do that will bring that day nearer.

I want to suggest to you what I believe to be the main thing that we can do to bring nearer the day of the Lord’s return. I need to say to those of you who are theologically minded that I do believe God knows the exact day and hour that Jesus will return. Nevertheless, it won’t happen ‘til we fulfill the conditions. Understand? That’s resolved by God’s omniscience because God knows when there will be a generation that will do the things that will bring back the Lord. My prayer is that I may be looking at that generation.

Let me show you what I believe is the essential requirement in Matthew 24. Matthew 24 corresponds to Luke 21. Those are the chapters that describe the close of the age. We need to read verse 3 to get the question which Jesus then proceeds to answer.

“Now as Jesus sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us, when will these things be? [that’s the destruction of the temple which he had just spoken of] And what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Let’s leave out the question about the destruction of the temple which is actually answered in Luke 21. I’ll just give you the answer. Jesus said when you see Jerusalem surrounded with armies then know that the destruction of it is near. That’s not given so fully in Matthew. That’s why we have to put the chapters together.

But, the answer to the second question which, in a way, is more important is given very specifically in Matthew 24. The second specific question is, What will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age? In the verses that follow Jesus gives a number of signs. False messiahs, false prophets, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, increasing lawlessness, the lack of love amongst God’s people. Those are a lot of negative signs but he still hasn’t answered the question because the question was, “What will be the sign?” When you come to verse 14 he answers a specific question with a specific answer.

“This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations: and then the end will come.”

That’s an answer to the question, What will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age? This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. What is the specific sign? It’s the preaching of this gospel in all the world to all the nations.

You see, before Jesus left after his resurrection he gave specific instructions to his apostles. Very precise in two places. Matthew 28 and Mark 16. In Matthew 28 he said go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Mark 16 says go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Until the church has obeyed those orders Jesus will not come back. We are responsible either for hastening his return or for delaying his return. The only way we can be sure of the Lord’s return is by doing the job he committed to us.

I have to say I believe Satan is very well acquainted with Biblical prophesies. His main motivation is to hold onto his kingdom. He knows that his kingdom will stand until two conditions are met. The first is this one. This gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end shall come.

The other which we’ll deal with in a moment is the restoration of Israel to their Messiah. So, on Satan’s priority list of things to prevent those are the two top items. By all means, prevent the church from preaching the gospel of the kingdom to all nations and, by all means, resist the re-establishment of Israel. That’s the meaning of what’s happening in the Middle East. The furor that persists about that little nation in that little country is totally illogical unless you understand the spiritual issues behind it. Satan knows that when Israel is re-established his kingdom is finished.

He also knows that when the church has fulfilled its task and proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom to every nation, then the Lord can return. You see, Satan is angered if even one soul is saved but it’s not going to threaten his kingdom. Even if 50 million souls were saved in the United States tomorrow that wouldn’t unseat Satan’s kingdom. But if the gospel of the kingdom is preached in every nation to every tribe, every tongue, every people, then the way is open for the Lord’s return.

As regard to establishing churches in a country like America, I’m not sure that Satan is much worried about churches being established. I think some of them help him, actually. I’m not being cynical, I think they keep Christians tied down. Harmlessly occupied with things that are not any threat to Satan. I’m inclined to think we have enough churches in America. In fact, it could be said we have too many. American churches are no threat to Satan until they become sending bases for the messengers of the gospel to all nations. And, most of them are not. I have to say I think Satan has the church tied up in knots and most of it is in simply things that are habitual, we go on doing it.

After any religious institution has been in being one generation its supreme object is to keep the institution in being regardless of what the institution is accomplishing. That’s almost irrelevant. The hardest thing in the world is to terminate a religious institution. I’m not attacking churches but what I want you to see is that is never going to change the world situation. What’s going to change the world situation is our doing our assigned task which is proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom to all nations. It’s estimated at the present time in this world there are two and a half billion people, which is a little more than half the world’s population, who have never heard the name of Jesus once. That’s the real issue. That’s what matters.

Let’s look at the second of these two related requirements. That is what God has planned for Israel. We’ll look in Romans 11 for a moment. Just two verses, verses 25–26.

“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant unto this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion; [what is the mystery] that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until...”

You notice every time it talks about God’s rejection of Israel it always states two things. It’s partial and it’s temporary. It’s in part and until. Blindness in part has happened to Israel until what?

“...the full number of the Gentiles has come in.”

How will the full number of the Gentiles be brought in? What is absolutely essential? The proclaiming of the kingdom gospel to all nations. See, in Revelation we see more than once the picture of the redeemed and one of the things that Revelation emphasizes is they’re from every tribe and nation and people and tongue. So, the redeemed cannot be completed until every tribe and nation and tongue has heard the good news. That’s why I am personally an ardent supporter of the Wycliffe Bible translation. I believe that’s an essential part of bringing the Lord back, is to get at least part of God’s word into every spoken language. It’s not dramatic, it doesn’t make the headlines but it’s essential.

You see, I believe because Jesus gave that supreme sacrifice for all nations and all people everywhere that to honor the Lord God the Father is going to make sure that there’s at least one from every tribe, people, nation and tongue that has benefited from the sacrifice. He has not died in vain for any group on the earth.

So, here we’re faced with the fact that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the church does its job. You see, one of our responsibilities is we’re keeping Israel in unbelief because they cannot be restored fully to God until the full number of the Gentiles come in. See? Read the next verse.

“And so all Israel will be saved: as it is written, The deliverer will come out of Zion, and will turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”

So those are the two priorities, as I understand, in God’s program for the close of the age. They’re closely related. Number one, the proclaiming of the kingdom gospel to all the nations. Number two, the restoration of Israel.

I was talking to a very intelligent, Jewish lady who is not a born again Christian but her husband who is a Gentile is a born again Christian. They came and asked to talk to me about this issue. I explained to them briefly what I’ve been trying to communicate to you. I said, “It’s our grievous responsibility that the Jewish people are not yet restored because we haven’t done our job because until the full number of the Gentiles has come in at least part of Israel will remain in unbelief.” This rather sophisticated lady, being Jewish, looked at me and said, “Well, I guess we’re at the end of the line.” Then she said, “I wish you’d get on with the job.” It was a remarkable challenge, really. She had seen so much. In a way, she was more perceptive than many Gentile Christians. But, the blindness had not been removed, you see? That, in a sense, is a mystery. Paul calls it a mystery.

You see, initially the offer of the kingdom was made only to Israel. Jesus said, “I’m not sent to any but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But, when Israel rejected the king they forfeited the kingdom. After that, God ordained that the offer of the kingdom was to be made to all nations. Because that’s God’s program it’s not going to change. The age cannot close until the program of God is complete by the offer of the kingdom to all nations. I hope you see that. I hope I’ve communicated it to you. I know that for most of you that’s totally unfamiliar. It has become so real to me that it’s what I sleep and eat and drink. That’s my life motive. Two things: proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom to all the nations and working for the reconciliation of Israel. In just a moment I’m going to close this message tonight by telling you what Ruth and I are doing. Not because we want to boast but because we want you to see that we take this thing seriously.

I want to turn just for a moment to Isaiah 40, which is closely related to this. Isaiah 40:1–2:

“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, says your God.”

Who are “my people” in that context? I’ll tell you what I believe, I believe it’s the Jewish people. I have many reasons which I don’t have time to give you. If it’s the Jewish people who are to be comforted, to whom are those words addressed? It can’t be the Jewish people because it’s the Jewish people who are to be comforted. So when God says “comfort ye” it’s plural, “comfort ye my people.” To whom are those words addressed? Us. I think there’s no other possibility. Us who believe in the God of the Bible, who believe in the Bible and who believe that what the Bible says is what we ought to do. That’s an assignment for Christians. Comfort ye my Jewish people. How many of you would agree that the Jewish people need comfort? No other nation in history has suffered 1/10 of what they have suffered. Please understand—I’m not accusing anybody here—but most of their suffering has been at the hands of professing Christians. You must bear that in mind. You don’t understand the world situation unless you understand that. The main source of anti-Semitism in Europe for at least 1,000 years was the church. Well, you say that’s not our church. True enough maybe but as far as I understand, there is only one church. Jesus is not a bigamist, he’s not coming back for two brides. So, we must be part of the church.

You see, we can’t just accept the good that the church has done and say, that we accept but the bad we disown. That doesn’t work. We are answerable in history for what the Christian church has done. Hitler would never have been able to do in one generation what he did to destroy the Jews if the seed had not been sown in the minds of the Germans and the Poles and the Austrians and the French and many other nations by the church for at least 1,000. By the way, I express it as this: The church sowed the harvest so now it’s reaping. That may shock some of you. I you want to you can check on what I say in my book The Last Word On the Middle East. I think I produced sufficient, documented evidence of that fact. Don’t say it was only the Catholics, please. Because, there was no one more strongly anti-Semitic than Martin Luther. His statements about the Jewish people are so vulgar and vile that when I went to examine some of them I refused to print some of them in my book. I just wouldn’t dirty the pages of my book with what Martin Luther said about the Jews. I’m an admirer of Martin Luther in many respects but this is the sad, dark page in the history of the church.

So, if we’re told to comfort the Jewish people we’ve got many motives for doing it. First of all, we need to repay them for some of the harm we’ve done them.

Secondly, we must bear in mind what Jesus said. “Salvation is from the Jews.” Every spiritual blessing we enjoy as Christians came to us through the Jewish people. I’ll substantiate that statement. No Jews, no patriarchs, no prophets, no apostles—they were all Jewish—no Bible and no savior. How much would you have of salvation without that? These are just plain, objective, historical facts.

God is saying now is the time, and I believe we’re living in those days, for you to start comforting my people.

“Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, that he warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”

Jerusalem has been conquered at least 10 times by alien nations since the time of Jesus. It is a downtrodden, trampled city.

Now, notice the context of this. The next verse says:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord...”

How do we prepare the way of the Lord? By comforting the Jewish people. Do you see the context?

Then I just want to show you the message of comfort. I’m speaking from experience because God has used me to present this message to Jewish people in their synagogues and elsewhere on a number of different occasions. The message is in verses 6–8.

“The voice said, Cry out. And he said, What shall I cry?”

What is my message? This is the answer:

“All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field: the grass withers, the flower fades: because the breath of the Lord [or the Spirit of the Lord] blows upon it: surely the people are grass.”

What comfort is there in that? None. It’s all very true but it’s not comfort. All flesh is going to perish, it’s all going to wither, it’s going to fade away. Where’s the comfort? The comfort is in the next verse.

“The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God stands forever.”

That’s one of the things we need to tell Jewish people. This word of God stands, this word promises you a future, this word promises you restoration, this word promises you blessing. It stands forever. The nations and the kingdoms and the empires that have persecuted Israel have passed from the scene of history like grass. Two things remain. The word of God and the Jewish people to whom God has promised an eternal future. That’s the message. If you start taking that message from the prophets to the Jewish people, you’ll discover something interesting. They are almost totally ignorant of their own prophets. I’ve stood up in a number of synagogues and explained out of the prophetic scriptures of the Old Testament why I believe in the future of Israel. Time after time Jewish people come up to me and say, “Where was that? Where did you find that? I didn’t know that was in our Bible.”

Let me try and wrap this up. I’m going to come back to what I believe are our responsibilities if we claim that we are awaiting eagerly the return of the Lord, if we’re longing for his appearing. First of all, we must cultivate personal holiness. Without holiness the Bible says no one will see the Lord.

Two, we must complete our assigned task, each one of us. As we complete our assigned task we’re adding strands to the linen that will be our bridal dress.

Number three, Jesus warns us of the need of continuing prayer that we may have strength to escape all these things, and to stand before the Son of man. Then, Peter challenges us not merely to wait for the day but to speed it’s coming. We can do things that will hasten the return of the Lord.

Conversely, if we don’t do them we will delay the return of the Lord. One way or the other, we’re responsible.

The two things that I suggested Biblically are appropriate at this time. Number one, we’re responsible to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom to all nations because until that has happened the end will not come. Do you accept that? I mean, is that clear in Matthew 24:14? I don’t see it as any other way to understand it. How many of you realized that before? A few. God bless you. I do believe Satan does everything in his power to keep the church ignorant of that one vital issue. He’s quite happy to see us with our Sunday School picnics and a lot of other things that just keep the church going but don’t threaten his kingdom one little bit.

The other thing is prepare the way of the Lord by comforting Israel. By showing them love. That’s one thing they’ve experienced very little of in 19 centuries of exile is love. You’d be surprised how love with no strings attached will melt a Jewish heart. They will almost run after you when they feel that you really love them. I’m not talking about trying to get them to become Baptists, you understand? My personal conviction may shock you. I don’t really want to see Jews become Baptists. Thank God for Baptists but I believe that Jews who believe in their Jewish Messiah should be allowed to remain Jewish. That’s an issue we won’t go into but we don’t have to solve all these problems. We have to comfort them, we have to love them, we have to pray for them.

To close this I’m going to challenge you in a way because I’m going to give you very briefly an outline of how Ruth and I are trying to do what I’ve been preaching. Understand? Our ministry has four main thrusts. When you see us two together here that’s just the tip of an iceberg, there’s a lot more below the surface than above. I think the major thrust of our ministry is my radio program. We started that in l979 on 8 stations in the United States with a budge of $8,000. We could never have conceived of how it would expand. For the glory of God I want to relate briefly. We are now on over 50 stations in the United States but that’s still only the tip of the iceberg. We are also basically covering most of the inhabited globe both in English and in four foreign languages and a fifth one being prepared. In English from Manila we cover Southeast Asia, East Africa and part of India. From South Lebanon, George Otis’ station, we cover Lebanon, the neighboring Arab states and the north if Israel medium wave. Short-wave that station reaches right into Europe as far north as Finland and Leningrad. It is heard in Finland like a local station. Our program is on there five days a week.

It’s interesting, you’ve all heard, I’m sure, that there was an attempt to blow the station up recently? We met with George Otis in Jerusalem just after that and he told us that investigations indicated that the Moslems that did it were Marxist Moslems, Russian oriented. Apparently, one of their main targets was the transmitter that was reaching Russia. They didn’t get it, thank God. But that gives us some indication that it’s making an impact in Russia.

Then from Honolulu the program covers the islands of the Pacific and on a second night broadcast it reaches as far as New Zealand in one direction and Japan in another.

From Puerto Rico it reaches most of the islands of the Caribbean, it’s also heard through most of New Zealand and in the south of Australia. That’s in English.

It has now been translated into three Chinese dialects: Mandarin, Cantonese and Amoy. Because of Chinese culture I can’t broadcast under the name Derek Prince so I have a Chinese name and the program has a Chinese name. The Chinese name of the program is Living Sacrifice and my Chinese name as best I can pronounce it is Ye Gwang Ming, which means “Clear light.” Isn’t that beautiful? I didn’t choose it, it was just allotted to me. If I could have chosen a name that expresses more completely exactly what I want to be, which is clear light.

That program is broadcast from South Korea in Mandarin, the official language of all Communist China, and reaches the whole of Communist China five days a week at 6:00 P.M. which is peak listening time. Responses have been received from many different provinces of China. It’s estimated that in the rural areas of China 90 percent of all Christians listen to the radio. It’s their main source of input. I suppose you are aware that in the last two or three decades China has experienced perhaps the greatest move of the Holy Spirit that’s ever taken place in the history of the church. It’s estimated there are least 50 million new Christians. Few of them have Bibles or any other source of material. The radio is their main channel.

Somebody asked a young Chinese believer if he had a Bible. He said no. They said, “Do you have any teaching material?” He said, “Yes. A sister tore out one page from her devotional book and gave it to me.” That’s the kind of hunger that there is, you see. I cannot thank God enough for the privilege of being used to meet that desperate need at a time when it can make the history of China.

Then in Cantonese it reaches Hong Kong which Cantonese is the dialect of Hong Kong. In Amoy it reaches Southeast Asia where there is a large Chinese population. Altogether potentially that one listening audience is over one billion people. Bear in mind one out of every four persons on earth today is Chinese. If you don’t reach the Chinese it’s vain to talk about reaching the world.

Then from San Francisco in Spanish since the middle of last year, twice in every 24 hours it reaches the whole of Central and South America. It covers the entire continent.

Then another thing that to us is intensely exciting is we have been praying to get it into Russian. There’s a lot of hard work involved because you have to find the right translator, the right voice, you have to check on whether they’re reliable, whether they’re really translating what you say. God just put us in touch with a man we consider to be the ideal Russian translator and voice, a man born in Poland, educated in Russia, suffered much persecution for his faith and was miraculously delivered and brought with his family to the United States. So, we trust that we will be broadcasting daily, probably twice daily, and perhaps from more than one station into Soviet Russia. In Soviet Russia reliable estimates indicate that there are 29,000 house churches that are fed only by radio. As far as the Communist world is concerned, at this present time radio is by far the most effective means to reach them with the word of God—if you can put it into their own language.

We’re praying about other languages. I’ve been challenged about Arabic. I get passionate letters from India telling me of all the Indian dialects that it ought to be in. It’s hard to keep up with what God is doing, I’ll tell you that. Ruth and I used to sing that chorus together, “Draw me after you and let us run together.” But some years ago I said to Ruth we better stop singing it because we can’t keep up as it is!

Then the second main way we’re trying to fulfill this challenge is what we call our global outreach program which we take all my teaching material, all my cassettes, all my books and offer them free, completely free without any cost whatever to Christian leaders and workers in Third World countries and behind the Iron Curtain. We are now offering material to about 40 nations. My material in one language or another is in every one of the Iron Curtain countries.

And just by way of interest, I can’t offer you to buy this because this is the last copy. At least, there’s just one copy. Somebody maybe could get it. This is my Foundation Series, seven books of basic Bible teaching. How many of you have read them? I meet people all over the world who tell me that’s what I cut my teeth on, that’ what gave me stability in my Christian walk. These are currently being published in Polish in Poland. The story behind that is really remarkable. The Communist government has concluded that the church is too powerful in Poland to be defeated in open conflict so their policy now is to divide the church. To do that they are favoring the evangelicals at the expense of the Catholics and so they gave the evangelicals permission to print and publish these books. What amuses me is I get lots of letters from Catholics telling me how much my books have helped them!

Then this other book here, aSelf Study Bible Course, which I had to borrow back from somebody who had obtained it, is already translated into a number of languages and is currently at this present time being translated into a dialect of Malawi (a nation in East Africa); a dialect of Zambia, it’s called ?Lunda? (which is a nation in Southern Africa); into Mandarin Chinese; into French; and into Hebrew and Spanish.

Then there’s our personal ministry which you’ve seen a little of. This past year in l985 Ruth and I personally traveled more than 80,000 miles outside the United States and we’ve ministered in countries as far apart as the south of New Zealand which is just about as far south as you can go, the north of Sweden and Singapore and Pakistan in the east as well as a number of other nations.

Finally, not by any means the least important, is our ministry in Israel. We have built a home in Jerusalem which was one of the hardest assignments we ever had from God. We spend approximately 6 months of the year based in Jerusalem. Our ministry there is very different at the present time. I do do some teaching, I conducted a seminar for Jewish Christians in October of this past year. Primarily our emphasis is on intercession for Israel and for the nations of the Middle East and on reconciliation between Jews and Christians.

I’d like to say just a word about the Moslem nations. Although I’m primarily called to Israel I have a tremendous burden for the Moslem nation. If you don’t know that religion, Islam, I tell you—and I’ve lived in Moslem nations and I’ve been exposed to it for over 40 years—I think it’s the cruelest, hardest, most diabolical bondage that has ever been imposed on human beings. There are nearly one billion Moslems in the world. Virtually, except in a few places like Indonesia, almost no inroads have been made by the gospel. In the Middle East in any one of the Moslem nations to preach the gospel to a Moslem is a crime that is frequently punished by death and for a Moslem to convert to Christianity is a crime that is automatically punished by death. There is a kingdom of darkness out there which we have to overcome primarily by the ministry of prayer.

That’s a little summation of our ministry. I wanted to give it to you because I wanted you to know that we don’t just preach, we seek to practice what we preach.

Now, as we come to the end of this I want to present a challenge to you who have heard this message. I’m a pretty straightforward person, I don’t believe in having every head bowed and every eye closed. I don’t know why you have to make your mind up with your head bowed and your eyes closed. I’d rather you make your mind up with your eyes wide open. There are some of you here who know the Lord, who love him, who want to serve him but measured by what I’ve been saying tonight, you are not really with it. Okay? I hope that doesn’t offend you. You are busy with a lot of religious activity but very little of it does any serious harm to Satan’s kingdom whatever. Some of you may be pastors or leaders of congregations. I’d like you to consider how much your congregation is doing that really threatens Satan. How much you may just be engaged in religious activity which is not going to change anything significant in this earth. I hope that doesn’t offend you but that’s the way I see it.

I’m speaking now particularly—but not exclusively—to the younger people here. Maybe you really want a challenge. Would you be willing to tell God, “In light of what Brother Prince has said here tonight, I’ll make myself available to do whatever will really meet the need, what really will affect the situation, what will really speed the return of the Lord.”

If you feel that God has been challenging you by his Holy Spirit tonight—I’m not putting any limits of age—and you would like to make a fresh commitment of your life to get involved with the things that really matter—I hope I’m not being arrogant when I say that. I think I’ve explained it clearly out of scripture why they matter. And, you’d like to ask God to lay his hand upon you tonight and direct your into something that is really significant—let me give you this little testimony if you can wait a moment.

In l958 I was a principal of a college for training teachers in East Africa in Kenya. It was a very useful job. I won many of my students to the Lord. But, one day I was sitting on the shore of Lake Victoria which is the great, beautiful, inland water lake there in western Kenya and I opened my New Testament at random and my eye fell on Matthew 24:14. It was as if at that moment it was printed in letters of fire across the sky and reflected in the waters of the lake. The Lord spoke to me very quietly and he said this, Matthew 24:14 is priority number one for my people. I thought it over and I said, “Lord, I’m not sure that my life is fully lined up with that priority. I know I’m doing a useful job and I’ve got to finish the furrow that I’m plowing. But, if there’s a way I can be more fully in line with your purposes, I ask you right now to move in my life to bring me into line.” I think where I am at now is God’s answer to that prayer. It took him about 20 years to instruct me, illuminate my understanding, gain control of my will and bring me to a place where I believe I am really doing the things that matter. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant but I’m really convinced that Ruth and I are doing the things that matter for the kingdom of God, for the return of the Lord.

If we’re wrong, God forgive us and show us. But we’re doing it with that conviction. I’m past 70, I could retire. I have no interest in retiring. In fact, last year, my 70th birthday, I traveled further and preached more than I’ve ever done in my life before. I’m motivated by a passionate conviction that this is what the church has to do.

So, if you would like to do what I did on the shores of Lake Victoria and say, “Lord, if I’m not really in line with your purposes, I want to be brought into line. I’m willing to yield myself and come under your guidance and direction.” And you’d like to make that decision here tonight I want you to do just one very simple thing. That’s all I’m going to ask. It’s that you stand to your feet wherever you are. Brother Bill, come up here and support me in prayer. Ruth, come up, too, please. Annette, would you come up too? I just like to have people around me. That is the most astonishing response I have ever seen anywhere. I’m just overwhelmed, I don’t know what to say. There are tears in my eyes. I really was afraid I had spoken too long or I’d been too longwinded or I hadn’t made it clear. Praise the Holy Spirit who made the truth clear.

I’d like you to say this prayer after me. You’re not praying to me, please understand that. I’ll just give you the words to say and in these words you put your life in the hands of the Lord and just ask him to do whatever needs to be done and trust him. “Lord Jesus Christ, you are my savior and my redeemer. You redeemed me by your precious blood out of the hand of the devil. I belong to you and I want to serve you. Lord, I want to do what is really important. I want to be committed to the things that will bring your return. I offer my life to you afresh tonight. Lay your hand upon me from this night forward. Guide me and work out your will in my life so that I may find myself in a place in your service, the one you’ve appointed for me in which I am doing the things I have heard tonight: working to bring the gospel of the kingdom to all nations and in some way working for the reconciliation of Israel, for their restoration to their God. God, I don’t know how you’ll do this but I trust you to do it because I pray out of a sincere heart and in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

Now I’m going to pray for all of you and just ask God to lay his hand upon you. “Heavenly Father, I thank you tonight for this phenomenal response. I thank you that your Spirit is here tonight. I could never have achieved that, Lord, by my words or by my efforts. God, we want to tell you tonight we trust you to answer that prayer for each one that’s prayed out of a sincere, committed heart. Lord, move in every one of these lives. Where there are obstacles, remove them. Where there are bondages and fetters, break them and loose these people from everything that would hinder them from your highest will in their lives. From this night onwards, Lord, and when we meet at the presence of the Lord Jesus we’ll give you the glory, Lord, for all you’ve done for each one of us. In his wonderful name, Amen.”

God bless you.

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