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My theme tonight is Overcoming Guilt, Shame and Rejection. I would suppose that there are maybe at least twenty-five percent of the people here this evening have one or other of those three problems – guilt, shame or rejection. And there is a place where they can be healed. Tonight I’m going to speak about that.
The place is the cross and in Hebrews 10:14 we have this statement.
“For by one sacrifice He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
That one sacrifice is the death of Jesus on the cross. And notice the language that’s used. He has perfected forever. It’s perfect and it goes on forever. It never loses its validity and it never is incomplete. By one sacrifice Jesus has made total provision for every need of humanity. Many people do not realize that the death of Jesus on the cross was a sacrifice. In Hebrews 9:13 it says,
“He, [Jesus] offered Himself through the eternal Spirit to God.”
Jesus was the Priest, He was the sacrifice. He offered Himself and He did it through the eternal Spirit.
I remember the second time I went to a revival service. I had no idea what it was. It was in the Assemblies of God. I’d never heard of them. I didn’t know anything about all this. I’d been to one previous service where the Holy Spirit had put my hand up at the appeal. I didn’t put it up, He put it up which is a frightening experience, believe me. I had enough knowledge to know they were going to do that kind of thing which was totally foreign to me. So sure enough they got to the end of the message and everybody who wants this put your hand up. So I thought somebody else did it for me last time I couldn’t expect that to happen twice, so I’ll put my hand up, and I did. That’s all they were waiting for then they carried on with the service.
Later the pastor came to me and talked to me and I think he realized he had a problem on his hands. And he said, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ died for you?” I thought it over. My whole background was in philosophy and definitions and I said, “To tell you the truth I can’t see what the death of Jesus Christ nineteen centuries ago could have to do with the sins I’ve committed in my lifetime.” And he didn’t argue with me which was to his credit. But they prayed for me and about two nights later, in an army barrack room, in the middle of the night, clad only in my underwear, I had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ which radically and permanently changed my whole life. And that was fifty-eight years ago. So this was no temporary flash of emotion.
Later, when I was reading the New Testament and I was reading it in the original Greek, I read that Scripture, Jesus through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God. And I knew the meaning of the word eternal. It means something that’s out of time. It’s not subject to the limitations of time. And then I saw the answer to my own question. On the cross Jesus comprehended, took upon Himself, the sins of all humanity from Adam to the last one that ever is to be born. It was not within the limits of time. It was an eternal sacrifice out of time. And that completely solved my philosophical problems. So I want to talk tonight about how I entered into this.
When I met the Lord I was a soldier in the Army. You know salvation brings promotion. I was a medical orderly because I had been a conscientious objector, and so I was not eligible for a promotion. But the Army is a bit mixed up. When they sent me on a Junior NCO’s course in Leeds on this vast parade ground, which stretches much further than this building here, and being from a totally military background – all my male relatives have been officers in the British Army – I passed the test. So then they had to promote me. I didn’t know all this was going on so I came back and the commanding officer who was a doctor sent for me and said, “We’ve made you a Corporal.” I said, “Yes sir.” He said, “How’s the cooking going?” Well, you know you learn in the army to be pretty discrete so I thought to myself it’s about as bad as usual but I didn’t want to tell him that. So I said, “It seems about the same as usual, Sir.” He said, “Didn’t you know that you were the Corporal Cook of this Unit?” I said, “No Sir, nobody told me.” He said, “We had to promote you and the only vacancy was for a cook. So from now on you’re the Corporal Cook.”
By title I continued that way for several years but I never did any cooking which was a real blessing for my fellow soldiers. I can tell you that. Let me tell you I was a local acting unpaid Lance Corporal when I went on that course and I came back a Corporal. So you see, promotion follows salvation.
Now I want to tell you how I got to this. Then the Army sent my unit, which was Number One Light Field Ambulance, to the Middle East, and I spent the next three years in the desserts of North Africa – Egypt, and then finally the Sudan. Well I was in the Battle of El Alamein at a safe distance in the rear and then I followed the advancing forces up in my Number One Light Field Ambulance. But I developed a skin infection on my right toe and they did everything they could because they really wanted to keep me in the unit, but they couldn’t. So I was admitted to hospital and I spent the next year in military hospitals in the Middle East, and that is not an experience I would choose for anybody.
Well I had sunk to what John Bunyan calls the Slough of Despond, the pit of despair and I was sitting there in the bed thinking there’s nothing left. And then I opened my Bible and I was saying to myself, “I know if I had faith, God would heal me.” Then the next thing I would say, “I don’t have faith.” And there I was back in the Slough of Despond. But I opened my Bible by chance Romans 10:17 and I read these words.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
So I said to myself, “If I don’t have faith I can get it. It comes.” And I want to tell every one of you that. You don’t need to be without faith. It comes if you do the right thing. The right thing is hearing the word of God. So I said I’m going to do this systematically. I armed myself with three colored pencils – one blue, one yellow and one red. And the blue pencil was for every passage in the Bible that had anything to do with healing. I read the whole Bible through because I had plenty of time. And you know what I ended up with? A blue Bible. So I really was convinced healing is in the Bible. You see being a philosopher I made everything as difficult as possible. So I said, “Sure God heals, but He’s not interested in the body. He only heals the soul.”
So then I was reading Proverbs chapter 4 verses 20 to 22, it says,
“My son, give attention to my words; Incline thine unto ear to my sayings, Let them depart from thine eyes;Keep them in the midst of thine heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health [and the margin says medicine] to all their flesh.”
And when I read flesh I said not even a philosopher can make flesh mean soul. So I saw that God had provided medicine for all my flesh, my whole body.
Well I was in the _________________________ for a long while and I was transferred to another hospital. I narrowly avoided being transferred to a psychiatric hospital because I was telling the doctors by that time I believe God would heal me. And something descended on me. You know what it was? It was a Salvation Army Brigadier. A female Brigadier because in the Salvation Army if your husband dies, you take his rank. So her husband had died and she was a militant salvationist but just as militant about speaking in tongues as others are about salvation. And bless God, she’s with the Lord now, but I’ll always honor her memory.
She got hold of a New Zealand soldier and her American lady co-worker, and she herself was Australian. They got in this little four-seater car and they drove fifty miles to Alballa(?) on the Suez Canal where I was a patient. She was fully attired. She had her bonnet, her ribbons, everything. She marched into the ward and overawed the sister, the nurse. And said, “Can I take this young man out and pray with him in my car?” The sister said “yes” and they never asked me whether I wanted to pray. So I found myself sitting in the back seat of this little four-seater car with the Australian Brigadier and the New Zealand driver in the front seat, and the American lady co-worker – a young woman from Oklahoma – on the back seat beside me. And we all started to pray and then this young woman beside me began to vibrate and speak in tongues. And then I began to vibrate and I wasn’t choosing to do it. And then everybody in the car began to vibrate, and then the whole car began to vibrate. And we were stationary. The engine was not running and the car was... But I knew that somehow God was doing this for my benefit and that He wanted to convince me.
And so then this young lady got a message in tongues, an utterance in tongues, and the interpretation. I don’t remember the whole interpretation, but I have never forgotten one particular part. It said this, and she was from Oklahoma and if you know America people from Oklahoma don’t talk like graduates from Cambridge. That is an understatement. But when she gave the interpretation it was in perfect Shakespearean English. And I thought this has to be God.
And now I’m coming to the point of what I’m going to say. The interpretation was longer than this, but this is the part I remember. “Consider the work of Calvary, a perfect work, perfect in every respect, and perfect in every aspect.” And I knew that the Lord was talking to me about the death of Jesus of the cross and that He was telling me it was perfect, it was complete, there was nothing omitted, it covered every need.
But when I got out of the car I was just as sick as when I got in, but I knew what I had to do. “Consider the work of Calvary.” So putting that together with my experience with the Scripture from Proverbs chapter 4, I went to the doctor and I said I want to be discharged at my own responsibility. Now he was a Nicodemus. He was very interested. So he didn’t discharge me immediately. He used to send to me at night and ask me questions about the Gospel. And I decided I know what to do, I’ve got to consider the work of Calvary, I’ve got to take the Bible as my medicine. And then I said being a Medical Orderly, “How do people take their medicine?” The answer is three times daily after meals. So I said from now on I’m going to take the Bible as my medicine three times daily after meals.
Well, when I was sent out from Egypt, in a few days I was sent to the Sudan which is a much worse climate than Egypt. But I said I’m going to take my medicine three times daily after meals. So after every main meal I got away by myself, opened my Bible, started to read it. “Lord, you said this is my medicine.” Well I can’t tell you of all that transpired, but the answer is the medicine worked in one of the worse climates in the world, in a very unsuitable position, I was completely and permanently healed. The medicine works.
Now I’ve got here a little book, booklet that’s based on this called God’s Medicine Bottle. And you can have it for whatever the price is. Let me tell you one more thing about this little book. About a year ago I was in Jerusalem and a young woman came up to me from the Philippines. She said, “Brother Prince I want to tell you something.” And she told me the following story. Her mother had been diagnosed with cancer in one of the best hospitals in Manila. They said you’ve got three months to live. She was flown to the United States, went to a hospital in New York. They told her exactly the same, you’ve got three months to live. Well somebody gave the daughter this little book. And so the daughter looked at the title, handed it to her mother, and said, “Mother, why don’t you try this? You’ve got nothing to lose.” And the mother must have been a woman of tremendous character. She said, “I’ll do it.” And for nine months she took God’s word as her medicine three times daily after meals. When she went back to the doctors they could not find any trace of cancer anywhere in her body. I want to tell you the medicine works.
I want to say, however, that you need to bear in mind that God has got more than one way to heal you. If His way is the medicine it will work. If He has another way, then you have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and find out what the other way is. But after all you’ve got not much to lose. It’s quite a cheap book and if you don’t get healed by it somebody else might, like the woman whose mother was healed completely of cancer.
So that brings me back to Hebrews 10:14.
“By one sacrifice He [Jesus] has perfected forever those [us] who are being sanctified.”
It covers every need of every human being from Adam to the last one to be born – spiritual, physical, mental, emotional – every need is covered by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Consider the work of Calvary, a perfect work. Perfect in every respect, perfect in every aspect. Every need of all humanity has been provided for by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
Now I want to talk to you about provision for three, what we could call emotional needs – guilt, shame and rejection. Now God through the sacrifice of Jesus has provided for complete deliverance from each of those things – guilt, shame and rejection. But my experience is that many, many Christians – born again Christians – are not fully free from guilt or shame or rejection. So I want to talk to you tonight about deliverance from each of those three things. And I would estimate at least twenty-five percent of the people here this evening need some kind of deliverance from one or other of those three things.
Now let’s start with guilt. And you know what people say – conscience makes cowards of us all. If you have a sense of guilt you can never be a fully liberated, victorious, effective Christian. And God doesn’t want you to have any lingering sense of guilt whatever. Isaiah 53 verse 6 which is the prophetic description given seven hundred years before the event through the Prophet Isaiah of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and it says,
“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way.”
You see that’s the problem of all humanity. We have not all necessarily committed some specific sin such as murder or adultery. But we’ve all done one thing. We’ve turned to our own way and our own way was not God’s way. And God calls that iniquity or rebellion. And it goes on to say,
“And the LORD has laid on Him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all.”
All our rebellion was visited upon Jesus on the cross that we might be free. In John 1 verse 29, John the Baptist introduces Jesus and he says,
“...Behold! The Lamb of God who carries away the sin of the world.”
Jesus was the Lamb upon whom God laid every sin of every human being of every time and every place. And He carried it away that it might never again trouble us or cause us to feel guilty.
How do we avail ourselves of that? I’m speaking very simply tonight. Nothing complicated. You know my conclusion – this is only for myself – but it concerns me us if I can’t explain something simply it is because I haven’t understood it clearly. And I work at it until I can.
I think of my precious first wife who used to sit in the front row and pray for me. And I mean she prayed earnestly. But when she bowed her head and clasped her hands I thought to myself, “Now what have I done?” But God answered her prayers. You see she was much older than I was. An experienced missionary. She could have lorded it over me. She could have dominated me and she didn’t. She backed off, took the position of a wife and let me be the head of the family. And in the long run, and it was a long run, it paid off. I could have easily been submerged beneath my much more experienced and gifted wife. And some of you wives maybe you’re making that mistake. You’re much sharper, you’re much quicker, you’re much cleverer than your husband, but don’t take his place because the result is confusion.
Now how do you avail yourself of this provision? It’s all very simple. Proverbs 28 and verse 13.
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
So what do you have to do? You have to confess your sin. In 1 John chapter 1 verse 9 it says,
“If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
So if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. But if we refuse to confess, God will not forgive. God has committed Himself to forgive every sin concerning which we repent and confess it to Him. But if we refuse to confess we receive no forgiveness. You see there’s a tremendous tension and tendency not to bring sin out into the open.
When Lydia and I were first married she had a dream one night and through that dream God spoke to her and He said this, “Time does not cover sin.” And I’ve carried that with me ever since. “Time does not cover sin.” You may have sinned fifty years ago, but if you’ve not repented and confessed and forsaken, you’re still accountable for that sin. I think one of the things that God is doing in my life is from time to time reminding me of sins I have not confessed. So I don’t believe in making a search for sin. I don’t think that way. But from time to time God shows me a sin that I committed and never confessed and never repented. And all I have to do is say, “God I’m sorry. I repent. I acknowledge.” And it’s gone. But until I confess it hasn’t gone.
You see we feel bad about bringing our sins out into the light of God’s countenance. But that’s the only place where they are forgiven. If you withhold confession you will not receive forgiveness. Let me read that again, Proverbs 28:13.
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
It’s not enough to confess. You have to forsake. That’s repent. You have to turn away from it. When you confess and forsake you are guaranteed God’s mercy.
And now when God saved you it’s a perfect work as I was told in that little car when it was vibrating with the power of God. And I want to confront you with just one beautiful and glorious and holy and wonderful effect of confessing our sins. It’s in Isaiah chapter 61 and verse 10. Isaiah 61:10
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God.”
That’s pretty exciting isn’t it? That’s not just religion. That’s salvation. You know as a boy growing up in the Anglican Church I listened to all those beautiful prayers and things, and I loved them. They’re so beautiful. And all the confessions that people said. But I said to myself afterwards, “If they’ve really confessed all those things why do they walk out looking just the same as they walked in? It doesn’t seem to have changed them at all.” So I concluded it didn’t work. I was wrong and later I discovered it does work. But anyhow,
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; [Listen. What’s the reason?] For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”
Now there’s two things there – the garment of salvation, the robe of righteousness. Many, many Christians and some of you here tonight have received the garments of salvation but you don’t realize you’ve been covered with the robe of righteousness. Not your righteousness, but Christ’s righteousness. A righteousness which has never known sin, which has no guilty past, which has no nothing to be ashamed of. And bless God, God didn’t just drape it on you, He covered you with it. There’s no area of your personality that is any longer exposed to the accusations of Satan, because He’s covered you with a robe of His righteousness. And when you realize that you’ve confessed, forsaken, and received salvation, all you need to do is let God put on you the robe of righteousness. When you wearing that robe of righteousness there’s no room for a guilty conscience. There’s no room for remorse, there’s not room for doubting and questioning. It’s all taken care of at the cross. So that’s God’s remedy for guilt. Let me say it very simply, it’s the garment of salvation and then the robe of righteousness.
Now many people have received the garment of salvation but they’ve never understood that there’s also that goes with it a robe of righteousness. Not your righteousness. God’s righteousness imputed to you through Jesus Christ. And when you put that on it covers you. The devil can look at you from any angle, but he’s got nothing of which he can accuse you because you’re covered with the robe of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That’s God’s remedy for guilt. There are many of you here tonight that have never fully availed yourself of that remedy. Before this message closes I’ll give you an opportunity to do it.
I want to go on now with shame. Shame is such a cruel and ugly thing. Very often it’s the result of sexual abuse or being made fun of at school. I read a story recently about one boy out of a class. He headmaster of the school said, “Stand up whatever your name is.” Then he said, “I want to tell you all, all of you have passed your exams except...” and he named the boy standing up. Well how could he feel anything but shame? Many of the things that happen in our childhood can be causes of shame. You see the things that happened longest ago are sometimes the hardest to get out. First in is often last out. And there are some of you here tonight who are not free from shame.
Perhaps the commonest single source of shame tonight in this country and in our Western civilization to our eternal shame be it said, is sexual abuse. And I’ve dealt with, I can’t count, how many people. I think of that one woman I knew when she was a little girl of about nine, her father who was a professing Christian sexually abused her. And she was left with this awful question: “Is there something bad in me that made him do it?” And only when she came to the cross was she set free from that shame.
I want to tell you that Jesus has borne all our shame. Let me give you just a few Scriptures. Isaiah 50 and verse 6. This is a prophetic utterance which describes what Jesus did for us and it says verse 5,
“The LORD God has opened My ear; And I was not rebellious, Nor did I turn away. [That’s Jesus. Then it says.] I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.”
You notice Jesus says, “I gave My back.” He could have saved Himself, He could have called for twelve legions of angels. But He didn’t. He gave His back. And let me tell you the pretty little pictures we see of the scourging of Jesus have very little to do with reality. It was a horrible scene because he was scourged with a scourge that had little pieces of metal or bone in the thongs. And when they fell on a man’s flesh they tore it away and exposed the flesh that was under the skin. And that’s what Jesus endured. He did it for our sake. But He says, “I did not hide my face from shame and spitting.” So on the cross Jesus bore your shame and my shame.
Let me just read a brief account of what happened after the arrest of Jesus. Matthew chapter 27 verses 27 through 31. Pilate had handed Jesus over to the soldiers to take Him out to execution and it says in verse 27 and following.
“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorian and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. [They stripped Him naked and then they mocked Him.] When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and stuck Him on the head. [And remember he was wearing a crown of thorns and every blow of that reed pressed the thorns into His skull. But He did not hide His face from shame and spitting. Then it says,] And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.”
So actually He was exposed naked twice in that scene. And then we read further on in Matthew 27 verse 35.
“Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet. ‘They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.’”
Sitting down they watched him there naked on the cross for three hours. You see you will never see an accurate picture of Jesus on the cross because they’ll always put a little loincloth on Him. But there was no loincloth. He was exposed naked. His shame was exposed to everybody who passed by and mocked Him.
And then we could turn for a moment to the Epistle to Hebrews just to emphasize this truth. Hebrews chapter 12, it says in verse 2,
“Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame.”
You see, he bore our shame but He despised it. And then what is the opposite of shame? How many of you can tell me? I think the best opposite is glory. And in Hebrews chapter 2 and verse 10 it says speaking of Jesus,
“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
Notice He was bringing many sons to what? Glory. What’s the opposite of shame? Glory. He bore our shame that we might share His glory. So those of you, and there are many here tonight, who for some reason or other have a background in your life of which you’re ashamed, something you’ve never fully got away from, something that haunts you and follows you up and disturbs you and threatens your moments when you’re wanting to worship and praise God, remember Jesus bore our shame completely, naked for three hours on the cross, that we might share His glory. Isn’t that wonderful! Thank you Lord!
Now I was teaching this in Holland a few years ago and I received a testimony from a Dutch woman in writing. I haven’t got the written testimony here but I want to sum up what she said. As a young girl she had been sexually abused. She’d been gang raped by a group of young boys and suffered further sexual molestation. Then she married but her marriage was not happy because she had a deep bitterness in her heart against all men including her husband. She also could never escape the shame of what she’d endured through sexual molestation. And then the Lord did something so wonderful, but I believe it because I know the Dutch minister that sent this testimony to me, and he sent it to me because he said it establishes exactly what you’ve been preaching. Sitting in her bedroom alone she had a vision of Jesus on the cross and He was absolutely naked. Then she realized two things. First of all He had borne her shame. She didn’t need to have shame any longer. Jesus had borne it. The second thing she realized was Jesus was a man. She was so bitter against men, she realized it was a Man who paid the penalty of her sin. Wasn’t that beautiful?
So there you are. If you are wrestling with shame just bear in mind naked on the cross, Jesus bore your shame. He’s exposed to the jeers and the taunts of passers by. The primary object of crucifixion was to make shame, to impose shame on people. Jesus endured it all but He despised the shame. It didn’t get Him down because he knew why He was bearing your shame and my shame that we might share His glory.
Now we come to the last of these three problems. I’ve dealt with guilt. I’ve dealt with shame. I’ll deal with rejection. Now I consider rejection to be the deepest wound of the human spirit. And I was reading recently something written about Mother Theresa after she had died and she made this simple statement, “Not being loved is the worst sickness.” And I have to say on the basis of my dealings with people over many years, I totally agree. The worst sickness is not being loved. And there are some of you here tonight sick with that sickness. You may be Christian, you may be saved, but you’ve never realized what it means that you’ve been loved. You’ve never absorbed it. You’ve never taken it in.
Now there are various possible courses... Let me say, in the United States where I spend some of my time, I would guess that – this is the lowest estimate – twenty-five percent of the population have a wound of rejection. I think that’s an underestimate. I think it’s an epidemic and I think it’s not probably very much different here in Britain. It is the number one sickness in our culture today due mainly to the breakdown of the family.
Now I’m going to give you just some simple examples. They’re by no means all inclusive. There are others I could give, but one of the commonest causes of the wound of rejection is a baby that’s rejected in the womb. People don’t realize that there’s in that womb, in that embryo there’s a sensitive little person who wants to be loved.
Now at a certain point when I was conducting regular deliverance services in the United States I saw that there was a certain age group that so commonly had the problem of rejection. So I worked it out. When were they born? The answer was about 1930 and if you’re an American the date 1929 is indelibly printed on your mind. It’s the year of the Great Depression, when everything fell apart financially. Most people were out of work. Few people had enough to eat. And you can imagine a woman finding herself pregnant in that situation – she’s got six little kids to feed already and there’s a seventh coming – and she doesn’t have to take any violent action. She just resents that little baby. And that baby is born with a spirit of rejection.
Now I believe my wife Ruth would permit me to say this. She was born in 1930 in a large, rather poor family. And she had that problem. She had a spirit of rejection. She was wonderfully delivered, but she told me – she said “That’s something I always have to guard against is rejection. It often tries to come back.”
Then, every baby as I understand it is born into the world craving one thing more than anything else which is Love. And if parents don’t love their baby or maybe love it but don’t know how to express their love, to manifest their love... You see unexpressed love does a baby no good. It’s not a psychologist. It’s can’t work out, “Well behind all that external there’s real love.” It has to feel love, it has to have love expressed. And a baby that doesn’t feel love, and I would say particularly the love of a father, if you’ll forgive me ladies for saying that. I mean the love of a mother is wonderful, but the love of a father is particular.
Let me say this and I’m speaking from my first wife, Lydia was one of the strongest characters I’ve ever met. And she did a work in Palestine amongst Moslems and Arabs that few people would have had the courage to do. She was often without sufficient money, she often had even the missionaries criticizing her, but she stuck through it. And you know I, thinking it over later, I realize one factor in her character was she was the youngest of four sisters and she was her father’s favorite and he always affirmed her. And do you know that makes all the difference in a child’s life if the father affirms the child. And an unaffirmed child, it may be provided for... I was provided for – I mean I had every need met, but I never knew in my family what it was to be loved. I mean I was loved but nobody showed it. We were – you know what they say “the stiff upper lip” never show your emotion. Never tell people you love them, just keep it cool, keep it cold.
I want to say this. It’s personal and I find it hard to say it. But I’m saying it not for my benefit but for yours. When the Lord took Ruth it’s the hardest thing that’s ever happened in my life. And I made up my mind I’m not going to be a slave of the “stiff upper lip.” If I want to cry I’m going to cry. If people don’t like it, that’s their problem. But I’m not going to suppress God-given emotions because my culture doesn’t agree with it. And you know what I think (applause) – you know what I’ve observed? My family was a good family. They really were good people, but that stiff upper lip produces stunted deformed personalities. They never really learn to express themselves, and something that’s not expressed is something that suppressed. So I’ve made up my mind. Let people enjoy it or dislike it, but if I want to weep I’m going to weep. I don’t want to weep, but if I feel like weeping I’ll weep. And if I feel like dancing I’ll dance. The problem with me with dancing is, I used to be a great dancer. Believe me I’ve led lots of congregations in dancing. But now at this age in life my feet just don’t obey me. So I stand there and tap my feet but I can’t really let myself go.
Anyhow, then another very commonplace where rejection starts is at school. I was sent off to a boarding school in Westgate-On-Sea in Kent at the age of nine. My family has a photograph of me ready to go to school. I was attired in a three-piece suit and I had a bowler hat on. That was my culture. And when I got there there were several other little boys of the same. And I remember one boy. He was uninhibited. He just started to cry. He said, “I want my Mummy, I want my Mummy, I want my Mummy." He didn’t get his mummy.
It was a hard life. British life has often been hard you know that. I don’t have to tell some of you that. We’ve imprisoned ourselves in our own culture. I mean you can understand every male relative I’ve ever known in my life was an officer in the British Army. I was educated in Eton and went on to Cambridge. If anybody was inculcated with a stiff upper lip it was me. But I rebelled. I decided I’m not going to be enslaved. If I want to dance I’ll dance. And if I feel like crying I’ll cry.
You know I’ve got a very good example. You know who He is? Jesus. Have you ever read the account of the death of Lazarus? Jesus arrived four days late and when he went to the tomb it says the shortest verse in the whole Bible two words, Jesus wept. He wasn’t weeping for Lazarus because He knew He was going to raise him up. He was sharing the grief of Mary and Martha. And you know one thing about grief? It helps to have it shared.
Oh I’ve been so blessed since God took Ruth home. I can’t count the number of people that have shared their love with me. My family has been wonderful, absolutely wonderful. Three of my daughters came, one after another, to Jerusalem to look after me. First my African daughter, Jesika. How many of you met Jesika? A few. Then my Arab daughter who’s here tonight, Kirsten. And finally one of my seven Jewish daughters, Anna, who’s here tonight, took me into her home and she and her husband, David, gave me half the upper floor of their house to live in. I tell you I’m proud of my family and when I think of how that family began...
My first wife, Lydia, in 1928 took in one little dying Jewish baby girl and everybody, all the missionaries criticized her. “What’s the good of that? Why isn’t she preaching the gospel?” Well there’s different ways to preaching the gospel. You can do it in word and you can do it in deed. But if you don’t do it in deed it’s not much good doing it in word. And out of the one little deathly sick Jewish baby, whom God raised up, there has grown up a family of more than one hundred and fifty persons tonight. If I’m boasting I’m not boasting about myself. I’m boasting about God. You see, so many people want a big impressive ministry. I think most big things start small.
I was ignorant. I mean I’d just been saved. I didn’t know that the gospel was to the Jew first. But my first congregation was Jewish. It wasn’t large and it wasn’t old, but it was Jewish. And then the Bible says, Pure and undefiled religion before God is this... What is it? How many of you can tell me? ...to care for the orphans and widows and to keep himself unspotted from the world. So I cared. I started by caring for the orphans and widows. I wasn’t spiritual. God just thrust me into it. It was the last thing I would ever have planned, but I’m oh so glad I did it.
Another common reason for rejection, all too common today, is the break-up of a marriage. A woman has given herself unreservedly to a man and like Brother Ed Cole was telling, a pastor turns up one day unannounced with divorce papers. What is such a person to experience? You’ve given yourself without reservation, you’ve done everything you can, you’ve loved, you’ve served, and suddenly you’re no longer wanted. Anybody that doesn’t feel rejection in that situation has got to have a very close walk with the Lord.
And then one other kind of rejection and I’ll come to the end of this little list, is self-rejection. And again that’s a terrible problem. You’d be amazed, or maybe you wouldn’t be, how many people reject themselves. I think especially women or girls. They’re just not the right length – too long, too short, too thin, too fat, eyes the wrong color, hair’s not straight or it’s kinky. Whatever it is you’ve made it a reason to reject yourself. You look at other people and wish you were like them. You know your problem? Self-rejection.
Now I want to tell you the remedy. It’s found at the cross. In Luke 23 verses 13 to 24, we have the scene when Jesus is before Pilate and Pilate is trying to get him let off. And the more Pilate tries, the more Jesus’ own people shout, “Let Him be crucified.” I’ll just read it quickly.
“Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, said to them, ‘You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him, no neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing worthy of death has been done by Him. I will therefore chastise Him and release Him’ (for it was necessary for him to release one to them at the feast). And they all [now this is all the Jewish leaders] they all cried out saying, ‘Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas’— Who had been thrown into prison for a certain insurrection made in the city, and for murder. Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. But they shouted, saying, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him!’ Then he said to them the third time, ‘Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.’ But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of those men and the chief priests prevailed.”
How do you think Jesus felt? His own people from whom He’d come turned Him down, rejected Him in favor of a robber and a murderer. Don’t you think that you or I in that situation would have felt totally rejected? I believe He did. But that wasn’t the end. Going to Matthew 27 verses 45 and following. Now Jesus is now on the cross.
“Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?’ Some of those who stood there when they heard that, said, ‘This Man is calling for Elijah!’ Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave it to Him to drink. The rest said, ‘Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him.’ Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit.”
He didn’t die of the wounds of crucifixion. People crucified could live sometimes twelve or more hours. What killed Him? Tell me in one word? Rejection. That’s right. And it was bad enough to be rejected by His people, but now He was rejected by His Father. After His agonized cry there came no answer. Because Jesus was identified with our sin God had to deal with Him as He would deal with sin. He closed His ears and averted His eyes and Jesus died of a broken heart. Not of the wounds of crucifixion. What killed Him in one word? Rejection. That’s right. That is the most terrible wound the human heart can ever experience.
But the next verse tells us why it happened.
“Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.”
That’s the thick curtain that separated the Holy place from the Holy of Holies. And only one man could go through that, the High Priest, only once every year. But when Jesus died on the cross that thick curtain was split in two from the top to the bottom. In other words, it was God’s doing. What did that indicate? That by the death of Jesus on our behalf the way was open for us into the presence of a Holy God. Jesus endured our rejection.
Now in Ephesians 1 in the King James Version we have a wonderful, beautiful account of that, just a brief summary. Ephesians 1 verse 4.
“Just as He chose us in Him [Jesus] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, To the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.”
So Jesus endured our rejection that we might have His acceptance. Can you see all the evil came upon Jesus that all the good might be offered to you and me? And it was all resolved by one sacrifice on the cross. By one sacrifice He has perfected forever us who are being sanctified. He never needs to do another thing. It’s all done. All we have to do is appropriate what He has done.
So now I want to give you an opportunity to receive what God has provided through the death of Jesus on the cross. I want those of you who still have a problem with guilt to receive total forgiveness, to receive the verdict of the court of heaven which pronounces you NOT GUILTY.
Those of you who have battled with shame, and I know there are many here tonight, I want you to receive your healing, bearing in mind that on the cross, totally naked, Jesus bore your shame that in place you might share His glory.
And for those of you who have struggled with rejection, I want you to receive you healing tonight bearing in mind that on the cross Jesus was rejected by His Father, the ultimate and cruelest of all rejections, died of a broken heart because He bore our rejection that we might have His, what? Acceptance. That’s right. You see as a child of God you’re not just tolerated. You’re welcome. You don’t have to apologize. You don’t have to make an appointment. You can come anytime and the Father will always welcome you because you come through Jesus.
Now I want to help you if I can and it’s not all that easy but I’ll try my best. If you have any of these three problems or all of them – guilt, shame or rejection – and you want tonight to claim the healing which has been provided for you through the cross, I want to lead you in a prayer, bring you to the cross and then let the cross do its work in you. You receive it by faith. You don’t have to struggle. You don’t have to improve yourself. You don’t have to make yourself good enough. You just have to believe what I’ve been preaching that on the cross Jesus bore your shame, your guilt and your rejection and begin to thank Him. You no longer need to be ashamed. You no longer need to feel guilty. You no longer need to struggle with rejection. Jesus has done it all and you can walk out of this place tonight feeling that a load has been lifted from your shoulders. You can be FREE! FREE! So I want you very simply to say this prayer after me. I don’t have it rehearsed. I’ll pray as I feel led. Will you say these words.
“Lord God, I thank you that you know my problem here tonight. You know what I’m struggling with whether it’s guilt or shame or rejection. I thank you, God, that Your word clearly reveals that on the cross Jesus endured all three. He endured guilt, He endured shame and finally He endured rejection that I might be delivered. That I might be free from guilt. That I might be free from shame. That I might be free from rejection. That instead of feeling rejected I can know I’m accepted by God, My Father. I belong to God. I belong to the best family in the universe. I have nothing to apologize for. I don’t need to be ashamed. I don’t need to be second class. God has no second class children and I’m one of them. Thank you, Father. Thank you, Father. Thank you.”
Now as you stand there after that prayer, I’m going to pray for the Holy Spirit to minister to you all that you’ve prayed for.
“Heavenly Father, we thank You tonight for Your love and Your mercy and Your faithfulness. That on the cross You permitted Jesus to endure those agonies of guilt, of shame and rejection that we might be delivered, that we might be set free, that we might know that we are no longer guilty, we no longer have any need to be ashamed, we are no longer rejected. We’re children of God. We belong to the best family in the universe. Father, let this truth penetrate now into the hearts and the minds of those who are standing before You. In Jesus name receive your release.”
And thank God for it now. Begin to thank Him. That’s the purest expression of faith it just thanking Him. You can’t do any more. You can’t earn it, you can’t deserve it, but you can thank Him for it. Just take plenty of time to thank Him here tonight.
Thank you, Lord, thank you, Lord.