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Now we’re going to be dealing with the theme “How to Approach Biblical Prophecy,” and we will more or less follow the outline that’s in the program, more or less, until we get to the last message and then it will be changed. But I’m not going to tell you in advance what it will be because you might stay away if I told you. So, one of the essential requirements for being able to receive biblical prophecy is a right appreciation of the sovereignty and the majesty and the justice of God. God is always just. He never makes mistakes. Everything He does is right. Some of you have been going through situations where you could be wondering whether God wasn’t making a mistake or wasn’t being unfair, but that’s a wrong attitude. God is always right.
And Ruth and I are going to make a proclamation as we usually do, taken from two chapters of Daniel, Daniel chapter 2 and chapter 4, which declare the sovereign majesty of God. And I want to begin on that note tonight.
“Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever, for wisdom and might are His and He changes the times and the seasons. He removes kings and raises up kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things. He knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells with Him. For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing. He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’”
Those last verses were the words of Nebuchadnezzar. He went through a pretty difficult time to come to that place where he had that realization. He spent seven years like an animal out in the wild, naked. His hair grew like bird’s feathers, his nails like animal’s claws, and he fed on the grass. But at the end of seven years God restored everything to him that He had taken away, but he was a different man. He had learned in the school of God’s discipline, and this was his testimony. “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing. You do according to your will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain your hand.” He was the most powerful monarch on earth at that time. But he came to realize there was someone infinitely more powerful than he. It was the God of Israel.
And I sometimes ask people and I just leave this with you as a thought: If, by the grace of God, you reach heaven (and I mean it will be by the grace of God), whom do you think you’ll be more likely to meet there? King Solomon or King Nebuchadnezzar? And I haven’t an answer to that question, but it’s an interesting question. Maybe you can meet both of them, but I don’t know. Anyhow, that’s just something.
Now, we’re going to come to the theme of how to approach biblical prophecy. And I want to say that amongst most Christians that I mix with (and I mix with a lot from different nationalities, different denominations, different backgrounds), there is an altogether inadequate appreciation of the importance of biblical prophecy. About one-quarter of the Bible, at least, must be predictive prophecy. And you cannot afford to neglect or ignore one-quarter of the Bible and expect to have all that God has for you. I believe in the days in which we are living it is essential to have at least a basic understanding of the themes of biblical prophecy.
Now I recognize that some of you have been “turned off” by so-called prophets who may have made predictions in the name of the Lord including the exact date the Lord was due to return and this is not the first or the second time that this has happened. It happens from time to time in the history of the church. But because of that, you’ve been turned off and you’ve said, “Well, if that’s what prophecy is like, I just don’t want to get involved in it!” Well, that’s a disaster, for you, because you need an understanding of biblical prophecy.
I want to quote to you now just one verse from the second epistle of Peter, chapter 1, verse 19. Peter has been speaking about the revelation that he and two other apostles had of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration when they saw the honor and the glory that God the Father had bestowed upon Jesus. And he says, in effect, that was wonderful but there’s something much more important than that. And this is what he says:
“We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place until the day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your hearts.”
So, Peter says, “That revelation we had on the Mount of Transfiguration was wonderful, it was valid, it’s recorded now in Scripture, but something that’s much more certain is the prophetic word of Scripture. And when I say that I mean the written prophecies of the Bible. I’m not talking about the gift of prophesying, which I esteem, which I believe in, and which, from time to time, I myself exercise. But prophesying in that sense has to be judged and it has to be judged by the Word of God. But the Word of God has not to be judged. Every Word of God is pure. His words are like silver, purified in a furnace of earth seven times. That’s the difference. The written, prophetic Word of God is totally and absolutely authoritative. And Peter says, “We do well to give heed to it.” In other words, it’s in our best interests to pay attention to it. So if we don’t give heed to it we’re depriving ourselves of something extremely important in the life of each one of us.
He compares it to a light shining in a dark place. I don’t know how you view the world around us but for me it is a dark place. And furthermore, it’s getting darker, it’s not getting brighter. We had that song that said, “Arise, shine, for your light is come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you; for darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the nations of the earth.” That’s the condition of those outside of Christ. Darkness, gross darkness, increasing darkness. But in the midst of that darkness God has given us a light. What is it? The prophetic word of God. Peter says you better give heed to that because you’re going to need it. Otherwise, you may be a believer, you may be saved, baptized in the Spirit, speak in tongues and be destined for heaven; but while you’re here on earth you’ll be walking in darkness because you have ignored the light that God has provided, the prophetic word.
If you walk in darkness it doesn’t mean you won’t get to heaven when you die. But, it means that you’ll be stumbling and groping while you’re here on earth, you will not understand the things that are going on around you and you’ll be often fearful and confused because you have ignored the provision of God which is His prophetic word.
Now, I’m going to give you seven suggested principles for approaching the prophetic word of God. I didn’t originally have seven, I had five, but the Lord added two more recently and I’m not superstitious, but when I get to the number seven I usually feel that’s it.
Let me point out something else very important about this prophetic word of God. Its purpose is to make us aware of the coming of the Lord as an imminent reality, as something real that’s happening. Peter says you need to give heed to it till the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. He’s not talking about what’s happening in the world, he’s talking about what’s happening in your hearts.
In World War II I spent three years in the deserts of North Africa, not by choice, let me say. Most of that time we lived by the sun because we had no artificial light. When it got dark we went to bed and when it became light we got up. And so, I observed things that I wouldn’t be observing today. One of the things I saw is that at certain seasons of the year in the east when the sun is due to rise, the horizon will become luminous, it will get quite light in that part of the heavens. You will think the sun is rising but it isn’t the sun, it’s the morning star called Aurora. And, that star at that time gets so bright that for a moment you would imagine the sun is going to rise, but it isn’t the sun. One thing is sure, when Aurora rises you know for sure what’s going to happen next; which is, the sun is going to rise.
So, Peter says let this Aurora, this morning star, rise in your hearts because when it arises you’ll know for sure Jesus is coming back.
See, God requires that every one of us live in the excited anticipation of the return of the Lord. That’s how every believer should be living.
In Hebrews 9:27–28 it said:
“It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment...”
Remember, you only die once. And you’re not reincarnated, the next thing is judgment. I say this because we’ve just come through countries where Buddhism has prevailed and they teach, of course, this endless cycle of reincarnation. It’s a lie, it is not true. It is appointed to each of us to die once and not to be reincarnated but to await the judgment.
“As it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time apart from sin for salvation.”
For whom is Jesus going to appear? For those who eagerly wait for Him. So, are you eagerly waiting for Him? If the morning star is risen in your heart then you will be eagerly awaiting for Him. If not, you really don’t qualify, for those are the ones for whom He will appear the second time, for those who eagerly wait for Him.
Now let me deal with my seven suggested recommendations for getting the right thing, what you need out of Biblical prophecy. We’ll start with the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 29 and verse 29, which contains two great, basic principles for understanding and applying prophecy. Moses was speaking to the children of Israel and he said:
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
The first point is there are two kinds of things, there are secret things and there are things that are revealed. There are things that God keeps secret, He has not revealed them. When I speak on this kind of theme it often happens that somebody will come up to me and say in effect, “What do you believe? Pre, mid or post?” You know what that means? Will Jesus come at the beginning of the tribulation, the middle of the tribulation or the end of the tribulation? I always answer, “I don’t know.” First of all, I’m not embarrassed. Furthermore, in the light of what is going to happen it may turn out that those are meaningless questions, they just won’t apply. You see, I believe that the day and the time of the coming of the Lord is a secret thing. It’s only known to one person in the universe, God the Father. It’s not known to the Son, it’s not known to the angels, it’s a secret thing.
Now, anybody who claims to be able to reveal that secret thing is a false prophet. By his own lips he has identified himself. But you see, if people don’t understand Biblical prophecy, they’ll be taken in. It’s been tragic how many Charismatics have been fooled by a prediction that Jesus was coming back in, what was it, October 28th or 29th. I think it was going to be October 28th the first time and when it didn’t happen then he said he got his dates wrong and it was October the 29th. I was appalled by the number of serious Christians who actually began to believe that. Had they known the prophetic scriptures they would have known it was a lie, because it’s one of the secret things.
One of the temptations we have to resist in interpreting Biblical prophecy is trying to get God to reveal the secret things. Because if God keeps a thing secret, it’s a waste of time trying to find it out. I think much of the interpretation of biblical prophecy has focused on trying to get to know secret things. And the result is frustration, confusion and disappointment. When God keeps a secret, believe me, there’s no one can find His secret.
Then it says there are revealed things. Thank God there are revealed things. But it says about them “that we may do them.” The purpose of Biblical prophecy is not to make you wiser than your neighbors or to be able to say, “Well, now we know what’s coming next.” The purpose of Biblical prophecy is to give you things to do. My experience with God is this, if you obey what He reveals, He reveals something more. If you don’t obey what He reveals, He doesn’t reveal any more. Why should He? He says, “Carry on, do what I’ve told you and I’ll show you the next thing.”
Now in 1958, if you can believe that people were alive as long ago as that, I was in East Africa in the west of Kenya, the principal of a teacher training college for African teachers. I took my little car and drove seven miles into the main city there, Kitsumu. I was taking my car in to the garage or the service station to have it serviced. I had a list of things that I needed to do in the town. I felt myself very busy. As I walked out of the service station, having handed over the car, I felt God said to me, “Not only does your car need service, you need service, too.” I saw that I desperately needed oiling and greasing. So I gave up my whole program, walked about ten minutes down to the shore of Lake Victoria Neanza, which is the second largest inland lake in the world and a very beautiful place, and at that time very tranquil. I sat down on a bench under some great, over-arching trees, pulled out of my pocket my pocket New Testament and flipped it open. I wasn’t looking for anything but I opened at Matthew 24:14, which you’ll be hearing again in due course, which says:
“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.”
God made it clear to me at that point, He said, “This is priority number one for My people.”
Well, I was in a ministry as principal of a teacher training college, and my primary aim was to win my students to the Lord so I was not by any means backslidden. In fact, I believe I was in the will of God. Hardly ever any student left that college in five years that was not saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit, very, very few. So, I wasn’t wasting my time but I felt the Lord had spoken to me there was something more important. So I said to him, “Well, Lord, if I’m not yet fully identified with your primary purpose, I want to be. Will you arrange it?” I think it took twenty years for the Lord to bring me to the point where it was arranged because in 1978, which was the year I married Ruth, I began a totally new phase of my ministry. I didn’t know I was beginning it, I just did what God told me. God told me, I believe, to start a radio ministry. I had never been interested in that kind of ministry but I started because God told me to start , on eight stations in the United States, in the English language, with a budget of $8,000 a month. We really had no idea where the money would come from. That same radio program is now translated into nine other languages and is virtually heard all around the world every day. It’s in four languages of China and is broadcast at least once every twenty-four hours into China. It’s in Russian, it’s in Spanish, it’s in Arabic, it’s in Tongan, it’s now being put into Samoan, Mongolian, the first actual positive message of the gospel that’s ever been presented to the people of Mongolia. That has happened from 1978 until the present time, which is sixteen, seventeen years. I had no idea, I never thought that program would ever get outside of the United States or be in any other language but English. But God did it. He was beginning to develop in me this primary purpose of God.
This gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. When will it come? When the church has done its job.
Since then Ruth and I have been privileged to minister in very large Bible teaching conferences in all sorts of improbable places, Moscow to start with, and then Alma Ata. Most of you don’t even know where Alma Ata is, but it’s the main city of Kazakhstan, which is one of the southern provinces of the former Soviet empire.
This year, God willing, we’re going to be in Turkey. We live for that, that’s our purpose in life. But it didn’t all happen in a day, God had to work it out gradually. I want to tell you this, if I had not to the best of my ability obeyed what God showed me from Matthew 24:14, I doubt whether God would have ever shown me anything else. Revelation is conditional upon obedience. Would you like to say that with me? “Revelation is conditional upon obedience.” If you don’t obey, God won’t show you anything more. The devil may show you a great deal but not God.
So, that’s the first and second principles. Number one, there are secret things and revealed things. Trying to find out the secret things is a waste of time.
Number two, God reveals things that we may do them. If we don’t do them, He will not reveal any more to us.
The next principle is that many prophecies are given for a specific time and situation, and until we come to that time and situation we will not be able to understand the prophecy. So, in Jeremiah 30:3–7 we have a specific prophecy concerning the restoration of Israel to their own land. Let me say my observation is most of the prophecies for the end time assume the presence of Israel as a nation in their own land. In other words, they could not be fulfilled until the state of Israel was restored. This is the prophecy. Let me say a dear brother in the Lord whom I respect some good many years ago made a statement, he said, “The restoration of the state of Israel could not be from God because if it were from God it would have produced peace.” I have to say he could not have said that if he’d been familiar with prophecy. Prophecy says exactly the opposite. These are the words:
“For behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will bring back from captivity [or from exile] my people Israel and Judah, says the Lord, and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.”
Now anybody who has a small acquaintance with the Bible knows where the land is that God gave to the fathers of Israel. There’s only one land that answers to that description, it’s a little strip of territory at the east end of the Mediterranean.
Then we go on:
“Now these are the words the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah. For thus says the Lord, We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.”
Notice that “not of peace.”
“Ask now and see whether a male is ever in labor with child. So why do I see every male with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale. Alas, for that day is great so that none is like it, and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble. But, he shall be saved out of it.”
So far from predicting peace when Israel is restored to their territory, the Bible warns us there’ll be a time of tribulation and anguish without parallel in Jewish history. And when you consider Jewish history, that’s a startling statement. Concerning it the Lord says not “he will be saved from it” but “he will be saved out of it.” And that applies to a lot of other situations in our lives. God doesn’t always save us from things but He saves us out of things. He lets us get into them and then He saves us out of them.
And then at the end of that chapter there’s the little sort of P.S. in the last verse, verse 24:
“In the latter days you will consider it.”
In other words, you really won’t have any use for this prophecy until the time of the end. In fact, it won’t have much meaning for you. But I’ll tell you, as far as I’m concerned, it is exceedingly meaningful today because we live in Jerusalem and we see it all happening in front of our eyes.
So remember, a lot of prophecies you won’t understand until the appropriate moment.
And then one main purpose of Biblical prophecy is to guide us in what we do and what we don’t do, it becomes directive. People who don’t know Biblical prophecy are liable to be praying and trying to do things which will never come to pass because God has said they will never happen. If God has said something will never happen, it’s a waste of time to pray that it will happen or to try to make it happen.
I’ll give you a little example from Matthew 24, and we’ll be returning to Matthew 24 in the next two sessions. Let me say this in case I forget to say it then, if you want to receive as much as possible from my next two sessions, read Matthew 24 and 25. And when you’ve read them, read them again because we’re going to deal with them in detail, verse by verse. I’m just preempting that by going to two verses that apply to the situation after the Jews have been returned to their land. It says in Matthew 24:19–20:
“But woe to those who are pregnant and to those with nursing babies in those days. And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.”
So, you would be inclined in that situation to say, “God, don’t let us have to flee.” God says that’s a useless prayer, you’re going to have to flee. Pray within those parameters. Pray that though you may have to flee, it will not be in winter. Why? Because it will be very tough in winter, especially for pregnant women or women with nursing babies. And, pray that it may not be on the Sabbath. Why would you pray that it may not be on the Sabbath? That has no meaning at all unless there’s a Jewish state. I lived in that country which was then called Palestine while it was still under the British mandate. The Sabbath was no different from any other day. But under a Jewish state, in the area of Jerusalem no one has public transportation on the Sabbath. The majority of people don’t travel anywhere. So, a large group of people fleeing on the Sabbath day would become extremely conspicuous. So Jesus says you’re going to have to flee. Don’t pray you won’t have to flee but pray that you won’t have to flee in winter or on the Sabbath day.
That’s an example of many prophetic scriptures which tell us what is going to happen. And if God says it’s going to happen, it is a waste of time to pray it won’t happen. It’s a waste of time to try and work it out so it won’t happen. What you can do is pray within the parameters of revealed prophecy.
That’s number three.
Now number four, to avoid wrong prayer or action.
Number five is in a different category. You find the principle in Revelation 19:10.
“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
We’re not talking about just the words of prophecy, we’re talking about the spirit of prophecy. And all biblical prophecy focuses in the Lord Jesus, He’s the central theme of all biblical prophecy from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus said in John 16:8:
“When He the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth. He will glorify me for He shall not speak from Himself.”
That’s one acid test of any manifestation, whether it’s of the Holy Spirit or not. If it’s of the Holy Spirit it will glorify Jesus. It will focus our attention on Jesus, it will show us something new we didn’t see about Jesus.
Prophecies that glorify men are not from the Holy Spirit. In fact, when the Holy Spirit begins to move, if human personalities are allowed to move into His place and take the center of the stage the Holy Spirit politely withdraws. He’s done that frequently in this century. There have been many moves of the Holy Spirit that were quenched because men put themselves in the center of the stage and wanted the focus on themselves. But any true prophetic revelation will always glorify Jesus.
Principle number six, give words their plain meaning; don’t be too spiritual. If you examine the many prophecies given about the first coming of Jesus , and there must be at least twenty , every one of them was fulfilled literally. He was born of a literal virgin, not a metaphorical virgin. He was literally born in Bethlehem. He literally was called out of Egypt. He literally healed the sick. He was literally crucified , very, very literally, nothing spiritual or metaphorical about that. He was literally buried and, thank God, He literally rose again from the dead. He literally ascended into heaven. You cannot find one example of prophecies concerning the first appearance of Jesus that were not fulfilled literally. There is no precedent there for making prophecy allegorical or spiritualizing it or interpreting it in some way other than the plain, natural meaning of the words.
Now, some prophecies are allegorical, and then it’s legitimate to interpret them allegorically. For instance, nobody supposes that the king of Greece is a goat or that the king of Persia was a ram. We know those are allegorical. But where the scripture does not warrant an allegorical interpretation, it is a mistake to make it allegorical. I believe myself as we face the tremendous pressures and dangers of this latter time that the prophecies concerning this latter time are going to be fulfilled with frightening literalness. Things are really going to move out of their place. Things are going to fall from heaven. There are going to be real, literal earthquakes more and more. It’s a mistake to make what is simple and plain spiritual and allegorical.
And another thing I would like to say just in passing is Israel is Israel. That’s very simple but it’s very basic. Israel is not the church and the church is not Israel. If you want a little study on that subject I have a book somewhere out there, I think, which is called Prophetic Destinies: Who is Israel, Who is the Church? The English version was called The Destiny of Israel and the Church. I give there, I think, 79 scriptures applying to Israel in the New Testament, none of which applies to the church. So, please don’t be too spiritual.
And that goes for a lot of other things. We won’t go into that but super-spirituality is a disease.
Finally, bear in mind God’s total sovereignty and supremacy , and His total justice. He is always righteous, He never makes a mistake, He’s never said anything that isn’t true. And brothers and sisters, He’s never made a mistake in your life. You may think He has but He hasn’t. One of the things to benefit from the dealing of God is to acknowledge His absolute righteousness.
So those are the seven principles that I want to put before you as we begin to approach biblical prophecy.
Number one: there are secret and revealed things.
Number two: Don’t waste time trying to find out the secret things but be sure to obey the revealed things.
Number three, some prophecies are given for a specific time and will not be understood until the time comes.
Four, prophecy is given very often to keep us from wrong action and wrong prayer. You see, if God has said something will happen, it will happen. If God has said something will not happen, it will not happen. You can spend hours praying the opposite way but all you’re doing is wasting time and energy. So if you want to pray sensible, effective prayers, you need to know the parameters of the will of God revealed in prophecy.
Principle number five, the spirit of prophecy is the revelation of Jesus. All true prophecy given by the Holy Spirit ultimately has one theme , it’s Jesus.
Number six, give words their plain meaning.
And number seven, acknowledge and bow before God’s total sovereignty. I do not read the Bible in order to correct God’s ethics. A lot of people do. A lot of people have got the idea that God is doing something unjust in the Middle East at the moment. He’s not. God is always right. Do you think you can say that with conviction? “God is always right.” Amen.
Now then, I want to come to one specific prophecy of the New Testament and make it a test case of these principles. It’s a very relevant and important one in 2 Timothy 3:1–5.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away.”
That statement of Paul’s begins with something unusual in the Scripture. He says “know this.” Usually the Bible simply says this is the way it’ll be. But Paul is so concerned that we’ll not have a wrong idea about the last days that he says “know this.” Be in no doubt about this, here is an absolutely established fact which you cannot change by prayer, by pleading or by any kind of activity. It’s going to happen. So, bow before this fact.
Now, a lot of contemporary Christians have not really yet absorbed this truth. He says in the last days, which is the period immediately preceding the return of the Lord, and probably half the books of the Bible have some reference to the last days, perilous times will come. Now that word that’s translated perilous only occurs in one other place in the New Testament. It’s in Matthew 8:28 and it describes two demonized men who came to confront Jesus when He crossed the Sea of Galilee to the region called Gadara. And it says they were exceedingly fierce. I want to suggest to you that that’s a better translation here. In the last days fierce times will come. I believe myself we’re living in fierce times. But I think they’re going to get fiercer.
Now, to wish otherwise, to pray otherwise, to act as if it were not true, is a waste of time. It’s an established fact. In the last days things are going to get fiercer and fiercer and fiercer. That doesn’t frighten me, I’ve adjusted to it. I accept it as the expression of God’s wisdom, God’s righteousness. But, a lot of people still act as if it weren’t going to happen, and some of those people are here this evening. You have not yet grasped the fact that we are confronting fierce times. They’re not going to get less fierce, they’re going to get more fierce.
You might say, “You’re just a pessimist.” No, I’m not, I’m an optimist. I’m an optimist because I believe God has a solution. Do you know what the solution is? The coming of Jesus. I don’t believe there’s any other valid solution. No other solution than the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. With all respect to the politicians, I don’t believe they have the solution. If they have, I’d like to know where it is. I pray for politicians, if they’re political leaders I respect them. But, I do not expect them to come up with a remedy for the problems of humanity, which are enormous and increasing, poverty, sickness, hatred, war. All these terrible things that are blighting the lives of millions and millions of people, politicians do not have a solution. Ultimately, I believe the Bible reveals there will be one politician who will claim to have the solutions and he will be the antichrist. But his solution will be worse than all the problems that have ever gone before. I am not a pessimist. I am not standing here looking unhappy because I believe that Jesus is coming. But He cannot come until this condition is fulfilled in the world because that’s what the Bible says.
So, if we want Jesus to come, do you want Jesus to come? Well, you have to be prepared for fierce times because that’s what it’s going to take.
I believe myself God is going to allow human wickedness to come to its full expression. We will see, if we’re still alive, the real, innate evil in the heart of sinners manifested with an ugliness and a fearfulness that we can hardly imagine. I believe God is going to let man, who claims to be able to choose his own leaders, make their own choice.
See, I have to tell you frankly I prefer to live in a democracy than a tyranny but democracy is not God’s pattern for government. Democracy is a Greek word just like humanism, it comes from Greece. It’s corrupted our thinking, some of us.
I was a student of Greek philosophy before I became a preacher. I didn’t intend to do this, but let me give you Plato’s little picture of five forms of government. I think, really, you can’t improve on this. Starting with the best and ending with the worst, the best is the rule of one good man. The next best is the rule of a few good men. The rule of one good man he called monarchy, the rule of a few good men he called aristocracy. After that is democracy, the rule of the people by themselves. Who was it , it was Lincoln who said government by the people, of the people, and for the people will never perish from the earth. I’m afraid he was wrong. It will. Going still further, number four is the rule of a few bad men, which he called oligarchy. And finally, the rule of one evil man which he called tyranny.
Now, I cannot really see that that needs any correction. What he said about democracy is it’s the weakest form of government. But, in my opinion, it’s preferable to oligarchy or tyranny. But it’s not God’s form of government. God’s form of government is monarchy, the rule of one good man. And what is His name? Jesus. And the rule of a few good men with Him who are His saints. So I tolerate a democracy and I’d rather live in a democracy than a tyranny, but I don’t believe it’s the ultimate solution. I don’t believe it has the power to solve the problems of the human race. I don’t believe that men and women, basically, are capable of choosing the right leader. If they have, why haven’t they done it?
I’m not criticizing the government, I’m just dealing with human weaknesses. So, what is the end? The end is monarchy. One man. Jesus, who will be King, who will lead a righteous rule, who will share His authority with those whom He has trained through suffering, through affliction, through discipline to share His rule with Him. What do we call those people? We call them the church. And bear in mind that the word church is a very poor translation of the Greek word ekklesia, which is essentially a government assembly. So if we’re members of the church, we’re members of a governmental assembly, which will be headed up by one righteous man, Jesus. That’s God’s solution. And I believe there is no other solution. I believe, in a certain sense, if we’re trying to arrange some of the solution, we’re wasting our time and energy. We’ve got lots to do within the context of God’s revelation.
Now, I want to point out two, I think, incontrovertible principles (you may not think them so), but what we are dealing with is the corruption of human nature caused by sin. And notice, that when Paul speaks about fierce times, the reason he gives is “men will be” and he lists eighteen moral or ethical blemishes. The root cause of the problems in the world is not nuclear fission, it’s human character. After all, the atom bomb didn’t invent itself. Men invented it; men used it. Men have invented all sorts of horrible instruments of destruction. It’s men who use them. So, the root cause of the problems of humanity today is the moral and ethical corruption produced in humanity by sin. And if you’ll accept the metaphor of corruption, which I believe is valid, there are two principles, in the natural. All corruption is progressive. It doesn’t get better, it always gets worse. And, all corruption is irreversible, there is no way to turn back the working of corruption. I believe that applies to the world situation, I believe it applies to the world. The corruption in the world is progressive. It’s never going to get better, it’s always going to get worse. And, it’s irreversible, there is no way to reverse the process of corruption.
So, all Christian prayers and schemes and plans that are, whether they know it or not, directed to reversing corruption are a waste of time, and probably money, too.
This is why we need Biblical prophecy, because it saves us a lot of wasted time, effort and money, a lot of disappointment. Please understand, I believe as Christians we have an obligation to pray for our government within the parameters of the revealed will of God.
I was speaking about this once some good many years ago, about the need to pray for the government, and at the end a lady came up, a dear lady, to me and said, “But Mr. Prince, doesn’t the Bible teach that everything is getting worse and worse?” I said, “No. It teaches some things are getting worse and some things are getting better and I’m one of the things that’s getting better.” You can be one of the things that’s getting better too, you understand? This is not negative, it’s realistic. You have to live within the parameters of the revelation of God’s Word.
So, let’s note also, and we’ll return to this list, but let’s note also that in the last time this passage reveals there will be a great upsurge of the occult. For instance, in the same chapter, that’s 2 Timothy 3, verse 7, Paul says:
“Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth, men of corrupt minds disapproved concerning the faith.”
Notice the word corrupt. But those two names, Jannes and Jambres, are the names of the two magicians in Egypt that resisted and opposed Moses and Aaron. And so, when it talks about them it’s talking about the occult, the satanic supernatural.
Please bear in mind that Satan is perfectly capable of working miracles. Any Charismatic who believes that all miracles necessarily attest the truth is mistaken. The Bible says in the end Satan will do great miracles but they’ll not be truth, they’ll be lying wonders.
It’s interesting, really, because this conflict between Moses and Aaron and the magicians was not fought out on the natural plane, it wasn’t a conflict of theology. The battle for us in these last days is not going to be a conflict of theology, it’s going to be a conflict of spiritual power. That’s the decisive issue.
Let me remind you what happened when Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh and said, “Let God’s people go.” Pharaoh said, “What sign can you show that this message is from God?” And Moses said to Aaron, “Throw down our rod.” And in the presence of Pharaoh that rod became a snake. Now you might think that would convince Pharaoh but it didn’t. He said, “Wait a minute. I’ll see what my magicians can do.” He called for them and, listen, the Bible says plainly they threw down their rods and they became snakes. All right. Supernatural but satanic.
That’s not the end of the story, thank God. Do you know what happened next? Moses’ snake ate up the Egyptian snakes. I just picture this, it’s so vivid to me. The magicians walked away with empty hands, they had no rods. And Moses’ rod was thicker and stronger than it had ever been.
But, it was fought out on the supernatural plane. I want to tell you for sure that’s where we’re going to have to fight. It’s not going to be theology, it’s not going to be merely doctrine, it’s going to be who has the power of God. This was predicted nearly 2,000 years ago, the prediction is right in force today. The powers of the occult are increasing. Their boldness, their arrogance, their claims to superiority are increasing continually. But, their folly will be made manifest to all men as was the folly of Jannes and Jambres.
Then you go a little further down here in 2 Timothy 3:13:
“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
You see, that’s the progress of corruption. They’ll grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. No one is such a successful deceiver as the one who is deceived himself, who really believes his own deception. Because he speaks with a real conviction.
So, and again, where it says evil men and impostors – Now I happened to have learned Greek since I was 10 years old. I was qualified to teach it at university level. That doesn’t mean I’m always right but it means I’m entitled to my opinion. And so, I want to say about this 13th verse, it says, “evil men and impostors.” The Greek word is enchanters or wailers. It speaks about people who cast spells by enchanting and wailing. Again, we’re dealing with the occult. This is very real.
Some years ago , I date things from before and after the death of my first wife and my marriage to my second, so this is before. In other words, a long while ago. A man came to see me and he said he’d come to apologize to me because he had put a curse on me and my family. Then he told me, and I didn’t accept everything he said but I just listened. He said he was a practitioner of the occult and regarded as the most powerful wizard in America. And then he told me that he practiced various forms of occult power but he said, “I’ve come to the conclusion, much the most successful form of power is in chanting.” That really registered with me. I thought, so when we are singing in the Spirit we’re releasing God’s power.
Then I thought about the Middle East where I’ve lived for many years and I thought about the practice of the Muslims. Five times every day from every mosque, and there are thousands of them, the muezzin, the thing that comes out, the chant, how many of you have heard it at least once? All right. I think it’s the ugliest sound on earth. We worship in a church in Jerusalem inside the old city which is right next door to the mosque. Every now and then at crucial points in the service we have this awful wailing blaring out at us. But, it doesn’t quench the Spirit because the Spirit is more powerful. But anyhow, I thought to myself, and I think this is important, the area of the earth that has most persistently resisted the gospel is the Middle East. It’s because of the presence of Islam, the Mohammedan religion. What has given them that tremendous power is the regular proclamation of their satanic lie five times every day.
If that is so, then what is one of the most powerful weapons that we have? Tell me. Proclamation, that’s right. That’s why Ruth and I always make a proclamation before I stand up to preach, because it releases the power of God into the situation. I’ve told people I don’t believe either Ruth or I would be alive today if we had not learned the power of proclaiming scripture. Because we both passed through a time of severe illness and in that time we learned to use proclamation.
Let me give you one of the proclamations. Come on, sweetheart. It doesn’t take long. Psalm 118, somewhere in the middle of the psalm, about verses 15 and so on. This starts with a reference to the devil, you’ve got to understand that.
“You pushed me violently that I might fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous. The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted. The right hand of the Lord does valiantly. [Now listen] I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord has chastened me severely but He has not given me over to death.”
That’s our testimony. The Lord has chastened us severely. We went through a time of chastening, both of us, but He did not give us over to death. And if God doesn’t give you over to death, you won’t die. There’s no way we can count how many times we said, “I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord.”
Some of you probably need to say the same for various reasons. You’ve been sitting a long while. Stand to your feet for a moment. Psalm 118:17, it’s all there in the Bible. We’ll say it once so you get it right, then you’re going to say it with us the second time.
“I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord.”
Now all of us together:
“I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord.”
What did we say? We said:
“I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord.”
“I shall not die but live and declare the works of the Lord.”
Amen. Now you may sit down. Amen.
So now we’ve seen from 2 Timothy 3 that things are not going to get better, they’re going to get worse. It’s not so much things, it’s people. People are not going to get better, they’re going to get worse. And, the major factor in their getting worse will be the operation of occult power. That’s exactly where we are today. The occult has come out into the open and become aggressive and active to the degree which was unthinkable in either the United States or Britain even twenty years ago. It’s a fulfillment of prophecy.
Now, you could be discouraged, that’s one way to respond. The other way to respond is thank God it proves the Bible is true!
When I was teaching in East Africa some of my students who wanted an excuse not to become Christians told me, “I don’t want to become a Christian, there are so many hypocrites in the church.” I say that may be true but after all, the New Testament shows there will be hypocrites in the church. So that doesn’t prove the Bible is false, it proves it’s true. That’s one more reason for becoming a Christian.
I say the same about what I’m teaching. You think it’s very negative, it’s very dark. But thank God it proves the Bible is true. And if we can believe the dark we can also believe the light. But I think frankly if you don’t believe the dark you don’t really believe the light either. You cannot be selective. The Word of God is pure. Every word of God is pure. No word of God is to be set aside.
Now let’s go back to the beginning of 2 Timothy 3 and I want to give this a very personal application in the life of each one of us. Maybe I should read it once more. As I read it, just ask yourself how many of these things are conspicuous in our contemporary culture.
“Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents...”
Parents, is that true? It’s true for some.
“...disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy...”
And notice, to be unthankful is to be unholy.
But that’s not really the right translation. The Old King James had it much better, “without natural affection.” In other words, even the normal love that we expect has evaporated in many cases. The love of a mother for her baby, the love of a parent for his children, the love of brothers and sisters for one another. They are evaporating rapidly.
“...without natural affection, unforgiving [in the margin it says irreconcilable], slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God...”
Let’s stop the list there for a moment. I want to point out to you that what you love determines what you will be. That list begins and ends with what people love. There are three things: love of self, love of money and love of pleasure. That really is the cause of all the other negative features that are listed there. Love of self, love of money, love of pleasure. Why do people love money? Because they love pleasure, because money apparently will buy pleasure. But, it won’t buy peace, it won’t buy joy. But it will for a little while buy pleasure. And also, the love of money is an expression of man’s pride. Because when we have a lot of money we can be arrogant, we can display our wealth, we can act as if we’re better than those who have less. It all hangs together.
But, the root is the first one, love of self. That is what is breaking up our society today. A survey was carried out a few years ago as to the average number of people living in a household in the United States today. And do you know what the amazing answer was? 1.7 persons. In other words, less than two persons can live together today on the average. What’s the reason? Love of self. “Well, if you don’t like the way I live, I’m going my way, you can go yours.” That has broken up and is breaking up countless marriages. I tell people who get married there’s a recipe for disaster and a recipe for success. The recipe for disaster is “what will I get out of this?” If you get married on that basis your marriage will be a disaster. The recipe for success is “what can I give to this?” And if you go in with that attitude your marriage will be a success. I’ve had two marriages. The first lasted thirty years, our present marriage has lasted sixteen years. Each of them has been happy and successful. Listen, I am not talking from theory. The surest cause of the breakdown of marriage and of the family and of society is the love of self. “You can have what you like but I’m going my way, I’ll do what pleases me.” That really dominates the thinking of the unconverted people of this nation today.
When marriage breaks up, the family breaks up. When the family breaks up, society breaks up. The government can spend millions or billions of dollars to find some remedy but there is only one, the family. Children were designed to have two parents. If one of them drops out you have an unhappy, frustrated child who will possibly take out his frustrations on society. I say myself the generation that has neglected its children is breeding its own source of judgment. Because the young people that have not been parented, that have not been loved, that have not been disciplined, will grow up to plague our society with violence and hatred. It’s frightening but it’s happening. In this once-blessed nation it is happening.
I became an American citizen by choice, unlike many of you, in 1970. So, I’ve been one for twenty-four years. I have to tell you, the nation of which I became a citizen doesn’t exist today. It’s totally different. Ruth was born an American citizen. She says to me when we return from overseas, “I don’t recognize the nation in which I was born.” That’s a tragedy. The root cause, self love. All the other problems stem from that.
Now, let’s give an application. One of the amazing things that Paul says in this passage in verse 5 is about all these people who have all these problems, and incidentally, they’re not problems. I have to correct myself. I got into the sloppy way of using contemporary language. God does not save us from problems, He saves us from sins. When we call our sins problems we don’t get saved. You don’t have to repent from a problem, you do have to repent from a sin. I mean, I find myself using contemporary speech and then correcting myself. These are not problems, they are sins. Blatant, evil sins.
Now, concerning these people that demonstrate all these sins, Paul says something truly amazing in verse 5:
“...having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
Now he’s given this list and then he says these people have a form of godliness. The word in Greek is such that I don’t believe Paul would ever have used it of any religion except Christianity. He could not have used this word of any religion that was unchristian. So, brothers and sisters, listen to me. These people that Paul is talking about are professing Christians. They use the word born again. That word has become so glib I shudder when I hear it. All sorts of people claim to be born again. But do you know what’s missing? Their lives have never been changed, they’ve never had a radical change in their lives.
What is the power that they deny? The power to change human lives radically and permanently. I tell people you can join a church, you can say a prayer, you can sign a form, and remain the same. But if you ever meet Jesus, you’ll be changed. I met Jesus in an Army billet in World War II. I didn’t have any doctrinal knowledge of salvation. I didn’t know what the gospel was, I was just an Anglican, that’s all. God bless the Anglicans, there’s some wonderful people amongst them but I was not one of those. I never went to church voluntarily and I didn’t believe the Bible. But one night in the middle of the night, about midnight, I met Jesus with such power that I ended up on my back on the floor for an hour, first sobbing and then you know what? Laughing. Believe me, friends, this laughter is not new. It may be spreading but it’s not new. I didn’t know anything about spiritual things. There was one other soldier sleeping in the same billet with me and I was laughing so loud in the middle of the night on my back on the floor in my underwear, because the Army didn’t issue us with pajamas. So what could you do? Eventually I woke my friend up. I can still see over the back of my head, I saw him reluctantly get out from under the blanket and walk towards me and walk around me, keeping a safe distance, a couple of times. He was a good friend. He said, “I don’t know what to do with you. I suppose it’s no good pouring water over you.” Something in me said, “Even water wouldn’t put this out.” Well, I thought this must be the Holy Spirit. It’s not my idea of the Holy Spirit but it was. And that produced a permanent, radical change in my whole life which has gone on for fifty-three years. In 1941 I met the Lord Jesus. It took me months to discover all the changes that had taken place in me. Why? Because I met Jesus.
Dear brothers and sisters, if you meet Jesus you cannot stay the same. You can become religious, you can join a church, you can do all sorts of things and radically be unchanged. That’s the problem with these people, they deny the power of God to change people radically. That’s why churches are now admitting homosexuals and ordaining homosexuals. Do you know the reason why? They say we have to have compassion. I agree, we have to have compassion. But then they say there’s no way to change them. That’s the lie. I believe in admitting homosexuals and ordaining them if they’ve been changed by the power of God.
Ruth and I have a friend in central Europe , he was a well known homosexual in his particular society, he met Jesus. And Jesus changed him. Today he’s married, has children and is pastoring a church. He’s one of the most loving people I’ve ever met in my life. He’s rightly ordained because he’s been changed. The problem is, and this time I think I can use the word problem, the problem is the people who are ordaining homosexuals are not realizing that Jesus can change people. He changes lots of other people. He changes liars, He changes cheats, He changes people who are grieving and jealous and spiteful and malicious. It isn’t just homosexuals. Our mistake is to make an exception for homosexuals.
See, this is exactly what Paul said, they’ll have a form of godliness but deny its power, the power to change people radically and permanently for the better.
This is a very sensitive issue but it’s very important so I want to give you just three passages from the writings of Paul. The first is in 1 Corinthians 6:9–11.
“Do you not know...”
I find that where Paul says “do you not know,” most Christians today don’t know. When he says, “Brethren, I would not have you ignorant,” most Christians are ignorant. It’s surprising. It’s gone on for nineteen centuries and it doesn’t seem to have changed much.
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites...”
And those are, first of all, the passive homosexual and then the aggressive homosexual.
“...nor thieves, nor covetors, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.”
So God is not excluding anyone in that category, provided they’re changed. But, he says, and these are beautiful words:
“But you were washed, but you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
But, you’ve been changed. I’m all in favor of admitting prostitutes, homosexuals, murderers, drunkards, everything, if they’ve been changed. But it’s unscriptural to admit them unchanged. And we have a right to demand the evidence of the change in their lives.
Notice what Paul said because he uses this phrase in three places. He says “such will not inherit the kingdom of God.” It’s one thing to be born again and enter the kingdom of God, it’s quite another thing to inherit the kingdom of God. A lot of those who’ve entered will never inherit because they’re in these categories.
Then we turn to Galatians 5:19–21:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are fornication...”
And let me say it’s fashionable now to call that premarital sex. But that doesn’t change the nature of the act the least bit. God still calls it fornication.
See, one of the devil’s subtle tricks is to put new labels on old things. So, to kill a baby in its mother’s womb is wrong, but to abort a fetus is different. All they’ve done is change the word baby to fetus. But some people are silly enough to believe it changes the nature of the act. No.
And some people commit fornication but they call it premarital sex and they think they can get away with it. You can’t. You cannot inherit the kingdom of God unless you repent. There may be some of you here tonight who need to do that. You cannot inherit the kingdom of God if you’re a fornicator. God doesn’t admit fornicators.
Let me say if He did, you’d be worse off in heaven than you’d be in hell, because in the radiant purity of heaven you would be totally lost.
“...fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions...”
You notice the majority of the things in that list are expressions of broken relationships. Then he goes on:
“...envy, drunkenness, revelries and the like. Of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in times past, those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Notice, they can be born again into the kingdom of God but ultimately they cannot inherit the kingdom of God. They’re excluded.
And then we’ll look in Ephesians 5:3–7.
“But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as fitting for saints. Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting; but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
Three times Paul says such a person cannot inherit the kingdom of God. He says to the Galatians, “I told you before but I’m going to tell you again.” And I believe, brothers and sisters, it’s time we tell people again.
When I became a Pentecostal fifty-three years ago, nobody would ever consider that a fornicator could get to heaven without repenting. Standards have changed but God’s standards have not changed. He’s still the same. Changing the label doesn’t change the nature of the act.
Some people have said, and I’ve heard young people say, “Well, this is just an experimental relationship to see if it will work.” That’s self deception because marriage is not an experiment, it’s a commitment. You can’t make an experimental commitment, it’s a contradiction in terms.
So, if corruption is progressive and irreversible, what is God going to do about it? Well, praise God, He has an answer. You’ll find it in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new and all things are of God.”
God does not patch up the old man, He produces a new creation. The attempt to redeem society without changing people is doomed to defeat.
I’ve heard people talk about redeeming the performing arts. It depends what you mean. If it means that maybe in the performing arts you have an opportunity to confront people with the testimony of Jesus, praise God. But if you think that the performing arts can be redeemed without people being changed, you’re deceived. God is not redeeming the old corrupt nature. It’s destined for His final judgment. God’s remedy is much more radical, it’s a new creation.
Those of us who’ve experienced the new creation understand what it means. I mean, it took me months to discover what God had done in me in one night. I really couldn’t believe it but it happened. That’s a new creation. Please understand, I was not perfect. I’m still not perfect. But, I was different, that’s what matters. A radical change in your life.
So, God’s going to do what? He’s going to bring forth a new creation. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. You cannot be in Christ and remain the same. Something totally new has happened that only God creates. Man can reform, man can improve, but only God can create. This is something that God has to do for us and in us, we cannot do it of ourselves. To be in Christ is to become a new creation. That’s His logical remedy for the old, corrupt, fallen nature. God is not going to patch it up, He’s not going to improve it. He doesn’t send the old man to church or Sunday school, or teach him the Golden Rule. I got this sentence which is in my mind, “God’s solution is execution.” That’s it.
But, the mercy is the execution took place when Jesus died on the cross. Our old man was crucified in Him. You have to know that and you have to believe it and act in it, and it works. That’s God’s remedy. It’s a perfect remedy, it’s a loving remedy, it’s a merciful remedy, but it does not compromise with sin or with Satan. God will never, never, never do that.
Out of the new creation God is going to produce a new people. This is our final proclamation, a glorious one. It’s Titus 2:11–14. We have a practice when we have a meal, we say our grace , which we won’t say now, we were in a meeting once and I said to Ruth, “Come up and say the grace,” and she started to giggle. I mean, she couldn’t stop giggling. I said, “What’s the matter?” She said, “All these people are hungry and you’re saying grace in front of them!” So anyhow, we won’t repeat our grace but at the end of our grace we always proclaim a scripture. The one that gets in first makes the proclamation. This is one of our proclamations, Titus 2:11–14:
“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 the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
So what is God going to get out of history? His own special people. That’s why He tolerates all the wickedness and the tragedy and the suffering. Because God is waiting till everyone He has chosen for Himself has come to Christ.
There’s another scripture that we say, 2 Timothy 2, beginning about verse 10. This is Paul’s motivation. He went through a lot of suffering but he always had one thing in mind, and it was this:
“Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying, for if we die with Him we shall also live with Him. If we endure we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him He also will deny us. If we are faithless He remains faithful. He cannot deny Himself.”
What motivated Paul? He had a vision. He said, “I endure all things for the sake of the elect, God’s chosen ones, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
You see, God has His chosen ones and they come from every tribe, nation, people and tongue. Until they’ve all been reached we cannot rest. That’s God’s remedy, a new creation that will produce a new kind of people, that will be fit to share the throne with Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, remember that’s our high calling. God is going to put you through everything necessary in this life, every kind of potential suffering or trouble or pressure, to fit you to become a ruler with Jesus.
Shall we pray in closing?
“O God, we thank you that your word is so clear, so plain. There’s no if’s, there’s no but’s. You’ve made the way of life and righteousness so clear that even fools will not stumble in it. Lord, we remember what Jesus said, ‘Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and those who find it are few.’ We pray tonight for all those gathered here, for ourselves too, that we will pass through the narrow gate and walk the difficult way until we have finished our course. Give us a vision, Lord, each of us of the elect, of the chosen ones. Many of them have not yet heard the word of God. Many of them do not yet have scripture in their own language. But Lord, we want to share Paul’s vision. I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
And all God’s people said amen. God bless you.