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“But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore my beloved brethren, we are steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
I wonder if you’ve been in a situation where it took all your strength to force those words out of your mouth. We are steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. I’ve been in a place where it took all my spiritual strength just to say those words because the pressures were so intense and all the evidence of victory was absent. But it’s still true because it’s the word of God. Amen.
Now our theme tonight, as announced, is “How to Come Through Victorious.” Not just to squeeze through, not just survive, but to come through victorious. You might say, “Well, what have we got to come through?” I’m going to remind you of just a few of the passages that we’ve been looking at together just to give you a little glimpse of what we have to come through.
You may recall that I spent a good deal of time in Matthew 24. In verse 8 we had that word, “all these are the beginning of sorrows, or birth pangs.” Then the following verses say this:
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.”
And when I read that to Christians I always ask, “Who is you?” Do you remember the answer? You is us, that’s right.
“And then many will be offended and will betray one another and will hate one another. And many false prophets will arise up and deceive many; and because lawlessness will abound the love of many will grow cold.”
That’s what we’re going to be coming through, you understand. It’s not a little to come through that victorious.
And then in 2 Timothy 3 I read a few verses there.
“But know this, that in the last days fierce times will come.”
We’re going to come through fierce times.
“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.”
That’s what we’re going to have to come through.
And then another Scripture that I didn’t read but I will read now is in Romans 8, just two verses, 36–37:
“As it is written, for your sake we are killed all day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. [And the next verse says:] Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
So we have to be able to say the positive as well as the negative. We are being killed all day long. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. That’s we, it’s believers. Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. I asked the Lord once what it was to be more than a conquerors. I felt the answer He gave me was when you go into a trial you emerge from it with more than you had when you took in. That’s to be more than a conqueror. Not only do you emerge victorious but you emerge with spoil. And that I believe is God’s provision and standard for us.
Now, how can we enter into this life of victory, of fulfillment? I want to read 1 John 2:15–17.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
You see, there are two things that are mutually exclusive, you can have the love of the Father or the love of the world but you can’t have both because they don’t mix, they’re like oil and water.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.”
John uses the phrase “the world” about ten times more than any of the other gospel writers. If you read it you need to ask yourself what is “the world”? The world is not necessary an assortment of wicked people. This is my definition of the world: The world is all those who are not under the righteous government of God’s appointed ruler Jesus Christ. All those who are not under His rule are the world. You may say there’s some really good people out there, nice people. Certainly there are. But you just challenge them with one thing: Are you willing to make an unreserved commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and you’ll find out how nice they are. They’re nice in everything except that. That is the world.
Now the next verse John says:
“The world is passing away, and the lust of it...”
All the things that the people of the world are scrambling for and craving and desiring and fighting for are all passing away, they are impermanent.
Then he comes to the Scripture that I want to deal with:
“...but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
That is the key to emerging victorious. He who does the will of God abides forever. In other words, you have to align yourself with the will of God. When you align yourself with God’s will you are as powerful and undefeatable as the will of God itself. That is the only key not merely for survival but to victory and to emerging with spoil, is to align yourself with the will of God.
To do that you have to find out what the will of God is. I’m going to suggest to you tonight quite briefly three main purposes of God clearly revealed in Scripture, which are His will, the purposes that He is working out in the earth right now.
We’ll begin with Matthew 6:10. This is really the supreme statement of God’s purpose in the earth at this time. It’s part of what we call the Lord’s Prayer, just the first two verses. The strange thing is I preached on this through central Europe in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany. At every place I intended to tell them what the will of God was and in every place I was arrested by the opening words. This is the Lord’s prayer:
“Our Father in heaven...”
And I said to those dear people, I hope you understand you have a Father. You’re not abandoned, you’re not left to yourselves, you’re not of just a little worth. If you believe in Jesus you’re a member of the best family on earth. You never need to be downcast, you never need to feel inferior. In one place, in Czechoslovakia, when I began to say that the women in the front row began to weep. I said I know what their problem is and I can’t just go on preaching and leave them weeping when I have the answer to their problem. I began to speak about people who feel rejected, unworthy, they don’t have any sense of self worth. I said your problem is if you’re a child of God you don’t know who you really are because you have a Father. You may have no earthly father but you have a Father in heaven who loves you, is all powerful and is planning the best for you right now. You belong to the best family on earth. I said in each of those places, “How many of you really feel abandoned, unwanted, worthless?” And in every one of those places a majority of the people stood to their feet.
So I think I have to do the same here. It may not apply but I know at least one because one lady came to me. You feel you don’t have a father, you feel lonely, abandoned, you don’t feel you’re worth much, you often wonder why am I alive, what am I here for? You have a very low sense of self-worth. One of the reasons for that is the breakup of the family. In central Europe it’s also the results of World War II.
Now, I want to tell you God has a remedy. I’m not going to spend long on this but I’m not going to pass you by. You’ve got to be humble enough to indicate your real need here this evening. If you are in that category, you may be Christian, you may be born again, you may speak in tongues, but you don’t have any sense of self worth, you wonder what you’re here for, you feel like a piece of flotsam just drifting on the water. God has a remedy for you.
Let me tell you this story before I finish. This was such an illustration to me. In the days when there was still a Tennessee-Georgia Christian Camp, and some of you probably will remember those days, one or two of you , I was there to speak and I was walking to the auditorium and I was in danger of being late. I was walking rather fast and there was a lady walking just as fast in the opposite direction and we collided. So when we picked ourselves up she said, “Oh Mr. Prince, I was praying that if God wanted us to meet we’d meet.” I said, “We have met. What can I do for you?” And then I said, “I can only give you two minutes because I have to be there to preach.” She began to tell me her problem. I listened for about a minute and I said, “I’ve only got one minute more. I know the answer to your problem. I want you to pray this prayer after me.” I didn’t tell her what I was going to pray. In fact, I didn’t know what I was going to pray. But I said, “Pray like this.” And I said something like this, “O God, I thank you you are my Father. You really love me and I really love you. I belong to the best family in the universe. I’m not unwanted, I’m not second-class, I’m extremely valuable in your sight. Thank you, God. You’re my Father, you love me, I love you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I said, “Good-bye, I have to go.”
About a month later I got a letter from that lady and she described the situation so I’d know who was writing. She said, “I just want to tell you, Mr. Prince, praying that prayer with you has completely changed my whole life.” I saw something which I’ve lived with ever since. By that short, simple prayer of one minute she had passed from rejection to acceptance.
And, you can do the same. If you here this evening feel in some way rejected, unwanted, second-class, I just want to tell you God has got no second-class children. If you would like me to lead you in a prayer by which you can pass as that lady did into the assurance that you’re accepted by your Father in heaven, that you’re a member of His family, that He really loves you, He knows your name, He plans the best for you. If you would like a transition like that, if you need it, please stand to your feet right where you are just now and I’ll lead you in a prayer. If nobody stands, that’s all right. Okay. All right. Wherever you are, you need this transition. We’ll take a few moments. Don’t let pride stand in your way. People may know you, you may be a member of a well known church but that doesn’t follow that you really know that God loves you individually and personally. And, that you love God. I’ve discovered it’s harder for Christians to realize that God loves us than it is to tell Him that we love Him.
We were dealing just recently with a man who’s almost my age. He’s been a missionary all his life in Zambia, a man with tremendous achievements. This was a prayer conference and he humbled himself, he said, “You know, I can speak to others, I can help others, but God never speaks to me personally.” I said, “We’ll pray for you.” A little while later he stood up and tears were streaming down his cheeks. This is a man well over seventy, been a Christian all his life. He said, “God has just spoken to me and He said, ‘I love you.’” He had to live all that time to know individually and personally that God loved him.
So, those of you who are standing, I want to tell you God loves you individually and personally. You’re not second-class, you’re not unwanted, you’re not without value. You’re more valuable to God than all the things He’s created in the universe because you’re in Jesus Christ.
I don’t have a prayer planned but just pray this after me and I’ll trust the Lord. Say it out loud. You don’t have to shout but say it loud enough to hear yourself say it. You say:
“O God, I want to thank you. You are my Father, I am your child. You belong to me and I belong to you. I’m not unwanted, I’m not rejected, I’m not second-class. I belong to the best family in the universe, the family of God. Oh God, I want to thank you. You are my Father, I am your child. You love me and I love you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, God.”
Now keep thanking Him. Thank you, Lord. When you know you’re accepted, sit down. When you know God has received you, you belong, sit down. God bless you.
Now we’ll come to the reason why I read that scripture. I was going to lead up to the first prayer in the Lord’s Prayer. This is prayer number one for all of God’s people.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
What’s objective number one for God and His people? It’s for God’s kingdom to come to earth. That takes precedence over every other need and every other situation. The reason why Jesus came was that He could bring God’s kingdom to earth. We’re here as His servants and His people to assist in that process of bringing God’s kingdom to earth. That’s the first priority in your life. It takes priority over your earning money or eating food or raising a family. It’s to be an instrument to bring God’s kingdom to earth. That’s the thing that’s first on God’s list. And if we want to be in harmony with God, it has to be first on our list. When you align yourself with that purpose of God, you’re flowing in the purposes of God. Then you are doing the will of God, then you are unshakable, you’re unsinkable, you’re just as strong and firm as God’s will itself.
Let’s turn to Matthew 6:33.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things [the things we need every day in life] shall be added to you.”
I’ve had many times of weakness, I’ve often failed God, but basically I can say for more than fifty years I have sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. He has never failed to add to me the things I need. You don’t have to pursue things, what you have to do is be committed to the kingdom of God. Seek first the kingdom of God.
Again, it’s a matter of priority. It’s not second, it’s not third. The first purpose in your life is to be an instrument to bring God’s kingdom to earth. When you align with the purposes of God, God accepts responsibility for you. He says, “I’ll provide for you, I’ll open the doors.”
I’ve learned in my own experience if I really get really pressured about something and begin to pray about it, I seldom get it because it’s not the will of God. Most of the really important things in my life, from my perspective, have happened by accident.
Let me tell you how I became an immigrant to the United States. I had no intention of ever making my residence in the United States. I said to myself, “If there’s any nation that has enough preachers, it’s America, I don’t need to be there.” Well, I was in Canada and I wanted to come to a friend that I’d known in military service in the Middle East, an American pastor, an Assembly of God pastor. He invited me to come to Minneapolis for six months. I was with my first wife Lydia and our little adopted African girl who was about three and a half at the time. We had no papers on her, only she’d been added to my passport. So we arrived at the border at a place called Cambina in North Dakota and they said, “What are you coming for?” I said, “I’m coming for a visit, I’m visiting a friend.” They said, “How long?” I said, “Six months.” They said, “That’s too long for a visit.” Well, I’ve had to deal with a lot of immigration personnel in different places because I had a family of eight adopted girls that I had to get all sorts of places. So I know you never argue with them. I simply said, “Well, maybe you can help us.” He looked at my wife and he looked at this little black girl, he said, “Come in, we’ll see what we can do. Come to Minneapolis and we’ll arrange for you to become an immigrant.”
I never planned that, it wasn’t even in my thinking. So, I arrived in Minneapolis in February 1963, which is not the best time of year to come to Minneapolis, especially when you’ve come through East Africa, and basically I’ve been here ever since. They arranged the immigration, I got my little green card and in 1970 I took American citizenship.
And that has been one of the most significant events in the unfolding of God’s purpose in my life. But, I didn’t plan it, God planned it. I tell you, it’s better to let God plan for you than to plan for yourself. I don’t mean we’ve got to be indifferent or prayerless, by no means, but God’s ways are higher than our ways. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. The highest we can plan for ourself is far below what He’s planned for us.
So, let’s consider now in some further detail how you can align yourself with God’s purpose. I want to give you three successive commitments that you have to make. First of all, as I’ve said already, you have to be committed to God’s kingdom. Matthew 6:33:
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness...”
Matthew 10:7–8. Jesus is sending out the twelve apostles for the first time and this is the instruction to them:
“As you go preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
That is the message of the gospel. It’s not often preached today. I examined this many times, as far as I know, the apostles never held a healing service. They never held a service for people to tarry for the baptism. They simply said the kingdom of heaven is at hand. You can join if you like, if you meet the conditions. I don’t mean it’s wrong to pray for healing, I’ve held many healing services. But I realize that wasn’t the approach of the apostles. The approach was there’s a kingdom. If you meet the conditions you can join. If you don’t meet the conditions you’re excluded.
And then in Matthew 24:14, and I suppose some of you know what that says by now:
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world...”
Not this gospel of get your sins forgiven or you can be healed or speak in tongues, but this gospel of the kingdom. The message has never changed, it started that way and it will close that way. It’s a message of a kingdom and a King.
I’d like to just illustrate this by the reaction of one group of people to whom the apostles came in the city of Thessalonica. And as usual, when Paul turned up there was a riot! I mean, he either had a riot or a revival or both.
I was with a group of missionaries in east Africa just before I went to Canada and to the States. They were dear brothers and they were talking about opening a church in a new area. One of them said, “Let’s make them mad or let’s make them glad, but let them know we’re here!” Those are my sentiments. The worst thing is to be ignored.
So, Paul and Silas arrived in Thessalonica and there was a riot. The people wanted to get hold of Paul but Paul’s assistants had learned by that time to spirit him away, so he wasn’t there. Acts 17:6, it says:
“When they did not find them [that’s Paul and Silas] they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.’”
Now I ask you, would they say that about us , we’ve turned the world upside down, we’ve upset things? We’re really sometimes too polite, too careful. We’d rather do almost anything than upset people. Let’s maintain the status quo, regardless of the fact that the status quo is the devil’s status quo.
And then this man said:
“These people that have turned the world upside down have come too. Jason [that’s one of the new believers] has harbored them. And these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying, ‘There is another King, Jesus.’”
You learn a lot from the opposition. This was this man’s understanding of their message. He didn’t say anything about the forgiveness of sins or healing. He said these people are presenting another king. Why? Because they were proclaiming the kingdom. And that’s what upset the local authorities. This is contrary to the rule of Caesar.
I heard a brother once who’d been a believer behind the Iron Curtain while there still was an Iron Curtain. He said, “You can tell people Jesus loves you and no one gets angry. But when you say Jesus is King, they’ll put you in prison.” See, we are not really declaring the essence of the message. There is another king. This is the gospel of the kingdom. There’s a kingdom coming and you can get into it or you can be left out of it but you can’t stop it coming. That’s a powerful message. It doesn’t always make you popular.
When they proclaimed that message, all sorts of things happened. The sick got healed, demons got driven out; but they never, I think you can check this for yourself, they never had a meeting specifically for that purpose. They had one message: the gospel, the good news of the kingdom.
I believe that’s what we need to align ourselves with. We are here to become part of the work force that will bring in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. I am completely pessimistic about human and humanistic solutions to world problems. I don’t believe man has it in himself to solve his problems. I don’t believe the problems of war or sickness or poverty will be solved by human plan. If that’s all I believe I would be a pessimist. But I’m not because I believe there’s another kingdom coming. It’s not far away. There’s a King coming who will reign in righteousness. And when there’s righteousness there will be peace.
If you study the teaching of the Bible on peace you will never find any promise of peace apart from righteousness. That’s why the whole peace process in the Middle East is a farce. They’re trying to bring peace but they’re not trying to establish righteousness. The Bible says, “There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked.”
That’s the first thing you have to do, is to align yourself with the purpose of God, to proclaim and help to bring in the kingdom of God.
Secondly, and this is very closely related, they all follow from this, you have to commit yourself to the final order of Jesus to His church. Which is given in Matthew 28:19 and following. I joined the British Army not by choice but by compulsion on the 12th of September, 1940. I happened to remember the date because it was my mother’s birthday. The first thing the sergeant told us was, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” He had good reason to say that! In the kingdom of God, we can’t say that. We have to say, “Do as I do.” We can’t give people instructions we don’t follow ourselves. Anyhow, two other things they taught me were this, that once an order is given it’s enforced until it’s canceled by someone with authority. Second, ignorance of orders is no excuse for disobeying them. And that is true in the army of God. I smile when God’s people talk about being an army because they’re so far from being an army. Let me tell you one thing, when I joined the British Army, under King George VI, I never got a little certificate signed by the king saying, “I guarantee you you will not have to lose your life.” No soldier has ever joined an army on that basis. No solider has a right to join the army of Jesus on that basis. It may cost you your life. Don’t talk about being a soldier if your motive is self preservation.
Let’s read the words of Jesus, Matthew 28:18–20:
“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth...”
It’s important to know who has all authority. Not some authority but all authority. It’s all vested in one person and His name is Jesus.
So, having said that, having cleared up the whole issue of authority once for all, Jesus says:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
He said go and make disciples of how many nations? All nations. Are you sure? Have we done that? By no means. Nineteen centuries have passed and we are still far from doing that.
Then I want to point out to you that He did not say make church members. He said make disciples. One of the biggest problems that we have in the church is members who are members but not disciples. Because, by their lives they contradict the message that we give.
If you’ve never started a work for the Lord and you feel led to do so, begin with disciples, don’t begin with members. If you make disciples, sooner or later the members will come along. But they are not primary. I really mean this, I think the greatest single problem of the church in America is that we’ve made members who are not disciples. They tell me such and such a church has so many thousand members. I say that’s wonderful, how many of them are disciples? A disciple is one who is under discipline. A disciple is one who has laid down his life. Jesus said unless a man forsakes all that he has he cannot be my disciple. It’s not it’s difficult but some succeed, it’s impossible.
That’s what we’re told to do. You see, our problem is disobedience. We’ve not been following the Commander’s orders.
Then it says baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Understand that properly practiced, water baptism is a commitment to discipleship. If people are not willing to be discipled and come under discipline and lay down their lives, they shouldn’t be baptized because they’re going to be buried and then they’re going to be resurrected. Water baptism is as important in the New Testament as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is a decisive step. It’s urgent. Jesus said. “Go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature, not just all nations but every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” I do not find a single instance in the New Testament from the Day of Pentecost onwards that anybody ever claimed salvation without being baptized in water. I tell people if you say you’re born again and a believer in Jesus but have never been baptized by immersion, I say you’re taking a risk. There’s no guarantee in the New Testament that you are saved. Right? I think you’ll find it’s right.
And, don’t be in this line, “Well, if you want to be baptized, we’re having a baptismal service in two weeks, put your name down.” That was not the attitude of the people in the New Testament. When God visited the house of the Philippian jailer, and mind you, He visited it in a powerful way with an earthquake, I’m sure He had the jailer’s attention. When he and his family became believers they were all baptized at that hour of the night, they didn’t wait for dawn. Water baptism is urgent.
When Philip met the eunuch on the road to Gaza and he got in the chariot, the Bible says he preached to him Jesus. It doesn’t tell us he said anything about baptism. But when they passed a pool of water, it was the eunuch who said, “Look, here’s water. What would prevent me from being baptized?” Philip didn’t say, “Well, you’ve got to memorize fifty-three Scriptures and attend a biblical class. And if you pass, at the end I’ll baptize you.”
You see, I was with a mission that was a wonderful group of people but they wouldn’t baptize anybody if they hadn’t been in a baptismal class for six weeks. You know the result? They were baptizing educated pagans. They’d been through the class but they’d never been saved, they just became religious.
So remember, water baptism isn’t a step you take somewhere down the road, it’s part of your salvation. On the Day of Pentecost the unbelievers said, “What shall we do?” Peter said, “Repent.” Number one. Number two, “Let every one of you be baptized and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” And three thousand people were baptized in one day. That takes a lot of hard work. If all the apostles did the baptizing, it must have taken several hours. But I’ll tell you what, it made an indelible impression upon the people of Jerusalem. This is what it means to become a believer in Jesus. I have to go through the water.
Then it says:
“...teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”
So the real teaching process doesn’t come before baptism, it comes after it. When they’ve committed themselves to discipleship then begin to train them. But don’t train uncommitted people because it’s a waste of time.
I say all this from experience. I’ve seen the results both ways.
In the church that we attend in Fort Lauderdale, Good News Church, we basically have the principle that if you want to get saved you repent, you believe and you get baptized. They have a baptismal tank available every Sunday morning. And most of the people that get baptized in water get baptized in the Holy Spirit.
There was a time before the church was really going when the people used to come to our house on Sunrise Key and they’d get baptized in our swimming pool. Well, that’s a good place to get baptized. We had one couple, they were just total pagans before they got saved. We said, “You need to be baptized, come to our house.” This dear, precious lady came in a knitted bikini! You know what I said? Thank God we’ve got somebody who isn’t religious. So we provided her with a cover-up and she got baptized.
I was in a meeting many years later in Johannesburg, South Africa. I was invited to speak to the B’nai B’rith , do you know what they are? The Jewish anti-defamation organization. They began by giving my background, et cetera, et cetera. They wouldn’t have invited me to tell them about Jesus but they what they really wanted to know was why I believed in the prophecies of God for Israel. I was trying to tell them this and in the middle of it, two men sitting back lit up their cigarettes. I thought, wonderful! To be in a place where people are not so religious they don’t know that you can’t smoke in church!
I’ll tell you what happened at the end. The leader of that meeting was a Sabra; that is, he was an Israeli or a Jew born in Israel. He’d gone out to Johannesburg to lead this organization. He had no religious language at all. But at the end he said, “While Dr. Prince was talking, there was something very interesting here. It was kind of warm, it was kind of comforting.” What was he talking about? The Comforter! Oh, what a privilege to talk to people who don’t have all the language. I wish we did it much more often. My problem is I hardly ever meet unconverted people. I mean, I see it’s God’s plan for my life but I can remember the good old days when I was in the British Army and all the people that were around me were unconverted!
I think God wants me to tell this story. Some of you have heard it before. I ended up in the Sudan in a little place, it wasn’t a town, called Gibate on the Red Sea hills overlooking the Red Sea. I was a corporal at that time, and I never got any higher. My wife, who was in the Marines, became a sergeant so she outranks me. Anyhow, I was in charge of what they called the native labor; that is, the Sudanis. There was one man who was the head of all the labor force. My business was to relate to him, I was to see that he got the men doing the right things. He was the only one who spoke English and he spoke English he’d learned from British soldiers, which is not exactly King James. He was very intelligent, very bright. For quite a while we just met one another and talked about the jobs. And then somehow or other I discovered that he believed in the devil. I said, “Well, you know, I believe in the devil too.” That was our point of contact, we both believed in the devil. A little later he came into my store where I met him and he was late. He said, “I’m sorry but I had to go to the clinic, I’m sick.” Well, I had never prayed for anybody in my life but I knew it was in the Bible so I said, “Would you like me to pray for you?” He said, “Yes,” which frightened me. I said, “I’m going to pray in the name of Jesus.” He said, “That’s all right.” He was a Muslim. So, treating him like a bomb that I was defusing, I laid my hands on him and prayed in the name of Jesus. A week later he came back and said, “I’m perfectly well.” Well, after that I had his attention. I began to tell him, “I believe in Jesus and I read the Bible.”
Then another thing happened. I was in my billet and I got stung by a Sudanese hornet. Well, I tell you, Sudanese hornets are in a class by themselves. It was the most agonizing thing I’ve ever felt. I jumped off my bed with terrible pain and I thought to myself, “Jesus said you can tread upon serpents and scorpions and they won’t harm you.” I said, “That should include even hornets.” So I walked up and down for about ten minutes praising the Lord in my ankle, but it never swelled up.
The next morning I met my friend Ali and I said, “You know, I got stung by a hornet last night.” He said, “You were stung by a hornet? Where?” So I pulled my stocking down and showed him. He took me to the door of the store and he showed me a man limping across the compound with one knee up. He said, “Do you know what happened to that man? He was stung by a hornet in the knee.” He said, “Why didn’t it happen to you?” I said, “I prayed in the name of Jesus.” Well, by then I had his attention.
So, I began to read to him from the King James Version, translating it into soldier’s English, which takes a certain amount of ingenuity! Then he said, “I want to teach you to ride a camel.” We were really good friends by that time. I said okay. I discovered there’s a peculiarity about camels, there’s no part of a camel that’s always level. If one part is going up, another is going down. I learned, I mastered a camel. I know some of you have probably been to Egypt and ridden those tame creatures they have at the Sphinx. That’s not even in the same league with a Sudanese camel.
Then we decided we’d take a little picnic and I had access to the store so I could get a few things to eat. We set out on our camels, rode a certain distance and sat down at the base of a little hill. There was this brackish stream of water running down the hill. He said to me, “We [Sudanis] drink this water but you white people don’t.” I said, “I’m prepared to drink it.” He said, “How come?” I said, “There’s no other water and the Bible says if I drink any deadly thing in the name of Jesus it will not hurt me.” I drank it and had no problems. We had our meal together, got on our camels and I read to him while we were there from John 3, the first verses about being born again. This absolutely fastened on his mind. “Born again,” he kept saying, “what does it mean to be born again?” I said, “It means God gives you a new heart.” Well, he burst out laughing. That was ridiculous. How could God give anybody a new heart. But I saw he was very much in earnest so I said, “Now listen, would you like to be born again?” He said, “Yes.” Well, I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I hadn’t been to Bible school or theological college. I said, “Listen, you go to your own little hut, I’ll go to my billet and at 6:00 this evening when the sun goes down, you pray there and I’ll pray in my billet and you and you ask to be born again.”
So I met him the next morning at 10:00 am, as usual. I looked at him and said, “Did you pray?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Did you get it?” He said, “No.” I was glad, first of all, that he believed something was going to happen. If it didn’t happen, he didn’t get it. The Holy Spirit whispered to me, “He’s a Muslim.” I said, “Did you pray in the name of Jesus?” He said, “No.” I said, “You can’t be born again unless you pray in the name of Jesus. Are you willing to do that?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “At 6:00 this evening you pray in your hut, I’ll pray in my billet.” I met him next morning, I looked at him, I said, “You’ve got it!” He said, “I did.” And the whole staff of the hospital knew within a week that Ali had been born again. My British soldier friends came to me and said, “What happened to your friend Ali?” I said, “He’s been saved.” They said, “What’s that?” I said, “Let me tell you!” I started a Bible class with three British soldiers and before the end of the class, two of them got saved because they saw what happened to a Muslim.
I didn’t intend to say any of that but anyhow, I ended up by baptizing him in the swimming pool of the hospital, so I did the complete job as far as I understood it.
Listen, there are people all around us that really would like to know how to meet with God. Just make up your mind you’re going to carry the good news of the kingdom wherever you go. All right? Don’t be embarrassed, don’t be shy. One thing about my wife is she’s not shy. When I’m standing there listening she’s talking to people about Jesus. And, she has such a sweet smile on her face they are always willing to listen.
That was talking about taking the gospel to all nations. Let me just show you a passage I read once already here, Revelation 7:9–10. This is part of the vision that John the revelator had in heaven. He said:
“After these things I looked and, behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes with palm branches in their hands, crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.’”
And I pointed out already, but it deserves emphasis, they were from every people, nation, tribe and tongue. The age will not close until there’s at least one representative from every nation, people, tribe and tongue. Because, God the Father will honor His Son Jesus for the sacrifice that He made. He will make sure that there’s one representative, at least, from every ethnic group, every language group, that has received the sacrifice and is there to praise the Lamb.
So, our job is not complete until we’ve reached every people, nation, tribe and tongue. I’m not directly connected in any way with the Wycliffe translators but I certainly support them. I think they’re taking God seriously when many people with more fancy titles are just playing religious games. They are committed to get the scripture into the language of every language group on earth because of this verse. It has to be. What are you living for?
The third thing that God wants , number one was He wants His kingdom to come to earth. Number two, He wants the gospel to be preached to all nations. Number three, it’s very logical, He wants a people for His kingdom.
Come up here, sweetheart, and we’ll make a proclamation, your favorite one, 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.”
That’s what God is waiting for, His own special people. You might wonder why God tolerates the awful wickedness, the agony, the suffering, the poverty, all the terrible things that are going on in the earth. God could speak a word and stop it but He won’t stop it until He has a people for Himself. Jesus wants a bride to share the throne. That is a main purpose of God, a people , and they have to come from every people, nation, tribe and tongue, a holy people, a purified people, whom He has purified from every lawless deed, from all self will, self ambition and self seeking , zealous for good works. That’s what God is after.
Concerning that, John tells us in 1 John 3 , we could say this together again, too. Shall we say that? Now you see how I preach, I preach from our proclamations. Because you see, I’ve absorbed them, they’ve become part of me, I think in terms of them. 1 John 3:1–3:
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God, and we are. Therefore, the world does not know us because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He shall be revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.”
So what’s the mark of those who really are waiting for the revelation of Jesus? What are they doing? They are purifying themselves. How pure? Just as He is pure. God has only one standard of purity, it’s Jesus. You may say, “Well, I’m looking forward to the coming of the Lord.” But if you are not purifying yourself it’s not true. That’s the evidence in the life of every person who honestly and sincerely looks for the coming of the Lord. Everyone that has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure.
How do we purify ourselves? Peter tells us, 1 Peter 1:22:
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto sincere love of the brethren.”
So how do we purify ourselves? It isn’t a mystical experience, it’s obeying the truth. What truth? The truth of God’s word. That’s what purifies us, obeying the Scriptures. What is the goal? It’s sincere love of the brethren.
Now the brethren, believe me, are not always easy to love. You acknowledge that? As Bob Mumford used to say, “God has got some strange children!” And then he would add, “And you may be one of them!” But that is the mark of purity, sincere love for the people of God. That’s what will make us ready for the coming of the Lord.
Let me just recapitulate and we’re going to close. The three purposes of God with which I believe we need to align ourselves:
Number one, the coming of His kingdom on earth.
Number two, the proclaiming of the gospel to all nations, peoples, tribes and tongues.
And number three, preparing a people for the kingdom, God’s own special people.
Now I’ll just close with what I consider to be Paul’s response to this challenge. These are words that have become very, very real to me just recently. 2 Timothy 2:10. It starts with a therefore. And some of you have heard me say when you find a therefore in the Bible you need to find out what it’s there for. You can read back and find, we’re not going to look at it. He says:
“Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect [the chosen ones], that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
I believe that’s a motivation that will take you through the pressures, the trials, the disappointments, the persecutions, whatever it takes. You have to have a vision. That’s my vision. I got it from Paul.
“I endure all things, whatever it takes, for the sake of God’s chosen ones, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
You see, I have a vision , I don’t see it with my eyes but I see in every tribe, people, nation and tongue, God has got those whom He has chosen from eternity. And the age will not close till every one of those is in the kingdom of God.
So, I’m motivated to go where people haven’t gone. You know, the motto of our ministry is “Reaching the unreached and teaching the untaught.” We go to some strange places. The stranger the place the more exciting. I tell you frankly, I’m never really excited about a congregation that’s all the same race. I like to see people mixed up, different colors, different languages, different customs. That’s where I’m happiest. Our church in Fort Lauderdale now is a multi-ethnic church. I think they have twenty-two different nations on the members roll. That’s just a beginning, that’s where I like to be.
I was brought up a Brit, my family were all empire builders in India. And although they were good people, they were white and the Indians were not white. That made a difference. I remember as a boy of about twelve sitting at the table saying, “I don’t understand why we couldn’t invite an Indian to lunch.” And there was a deathly silence. I’d said the wrong thing. Because I was the apple of everybody’s eye, because I was the only son, they didn’t squish me. But I realized “they don’t think the way I think” at age twelve. That’s the way I’ve thought ever since.
I tell people , I don’t know if there are any of you here , after I’d been five years in east Africa with African students I concluded one thing: black is beautiful. I say that sincerely. I love to see black people.
The other race I really love is the Jews. And think how I felt when we were invited by the Ethiopian Jews to go minister to them. Think what I got! Jews and black people in one package!
Now you may not have the same feeling but let God enlarge your heart. As Scott said, begin to pray for some nation. And after you’ve been praying for a while you’ll get so burdened you just won’t be able to sleep at night until something begins to happen with that nation.
So the Lord bless every one of you. We’re going to go, with God’s help, to wrap this up tomorrow morning with a message of which the title is not announced, it’s top secret!