This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
I really appreciate this time to be here. It’s a special privilege and excitement. Something I never really anticipated would happen. This lady on my right, as you’ve all been told, is my wife. I tell everybody wherever I go, for me you get two for the price of one.
I just have one thing to say, we were on the phone a little earlier today with Elihu Ben Haim in Jerusalem who is the leader of Intercessors For Israel which is a sister organization which really grew up partly out of this, and he wanted to send his warmest greetings to all of us here today.
But one of the things Ruth and I always do before I speak is make a proclamation from the word of God. Many of you’ve heard me say this, but this is one of the most effective ways of releasing the power of God into a situation, is to proclaim the word of God. In fact, I have said many times, I doubt if Ruth or I would be alive today if we had not learned in a time of tremendous pressure, each of us at a different time, to proclaim the word of God. This is not the one we’re going to repeat, but it’s a good one. “I shall not die but live and declare the words of the Lord.” But the one we’re going to say tonight is from the book of Psalms 100:5, and I think it’s very appropriate for this occasion.
“For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.”
So perhaps it would bless you if you were to say that after us, phrase by phrase. “The LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” Now this time we’ll say it together. Are you ready? “The LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” Amen.
Now, I want to announce to you this evening the theme that I believe God has given me to follow for my part in these meetings. I’m doing this partly to help you and partly to help me, because once I’ve announced my theme I’m more or less stuck with it. My theme is that in any nation where the church is established, God holds the church accountable for the condition of that nation. This is a very far-reaching thought and I will give you some Scriptures along that line in due course. But it’s very significant for our meeting, because what we want to do is reach America. And if I had to reach America direct tonight, this would be the wrong place for me. Because nearly all of you or perhaps all of you are committed believers. But I believe, myself, that to reach America I and anyone else who is concerned, has to reach the church. Because it’s through the church that God reaches a nation. And God also judges a church partly by the condition of the nation for which He hold the church accountable.
There was a great revival—I’m a little tired of that word revival. I don’t know about you, but I hear it so often, often so wrongly applied. But in 1904 in the country of Wales in the British Isles, there was a real revival. And it shook the whole nation. It affected everybody everywhere. Wales is a nation of coal miners, and the coal miners were very wicked, foul-mouthed people. But when the revival hit the coal miners it upset the whole working of the collieries, because they used pit ponies to carry the coal to and fro and the pit ponies were used to moving only when they were sworn at. And when the miners no longer swore, the pit ponies didn’t move. That gives you just a little idea of the impact that a revival can have—a genuine revival.
So I believe that’s what we need. I believe there is no alternative. We have no other hope but that God will move in such a way that He will touch millions of people sovereignly. In 1948 there was a revival in the little island called the Hebrides, north of Scotland, and I happened to later meet the man who was used of God. This was a very simple kind of rustic population with a small town, but it was just close by a sea route where the merchant ships past. At the time that the revival was at a height, when merchant ships were passing near the city, the power of God would come on the men in the ships and they would fall on their knees and ask God for mercy.
Again, earlier when Charles Finney held a revival in some cities in this nation, the power of God was so powerful that people walked into the city not knowing what to expect, and fell on their knees on the sidewalk and began to cry to God for mercy. That is revival! It’s not just a few people getting saved. And as Finney pointed out himself, the word revival means bringing back to life. Evangelism is not revival. I thank God for evangelists. My whole heart is in it, but what the church needs is not evangelism. It’s revival, because the church has been dead and has to be brought back to life, and that’s where the action starts is with the church. So I’m going to be dealing in my talks, as far as I can, with the responsibility of the church. The things that God has to do in the church, the changes which have to come in the church, if we are to have what is a genuine revival.
There are certain principles that are involved in this and I want to take one verse or two verses from Ephesians 1:22–23. Speaking about the Lord Jesus it says,
“God put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body...”
So there are two words that describe God’s people in those two verses—the church and the body of Christ. Actually, this is not a promotion, but I do have a series of two cassettes entitled Seven Pictures of God’s People, which deal with the seven pictures of God’s people in this epistle. Number one, the church; number two, the body; number three, the workmanship, the creative masterpiece of God; number four, the temple; number five, the family; number six, the bride; and number seven, the army. And that, I think, gives you a glimpse of how extremely versatile the church has to be.
But I want to speak just about those two phrases, the body and the church. The church, and I’ll explain that word in a moment, is the body of Christ. Christ is the head, the church is the body. Now it’s an obvious fact, clear to all of us in our experience, that my head cannot get anything done without the willing cooperation of my body. If I want to go out through that door, my head may make the decision but my feet have to take me through the door. If I want to pick up my Bible, my head makes the decision but my hands have to lift the Bible. And that’s how it is with Christ as the head of the church. He has plans, He has desires, but He cannot carry them out unless the body cooperates.
Now you might say, “Well, let Him set the body aside and just go ahead and do it.” He won’t do that. I’ve learned in experience over the years that when God tells us to do something, He will never do it for us. You might say, “Well, after all Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations more than nineteen centuries ago, and there are many, many national groups that have never yet been touched.” So the Lord could say, “Well, I’m tired of waiting for these people. I’ll come down and do the job Myself.” He never will do it. The job will not be done until the church does it.
So that’s one of the aspects. The other is a little more complicated. It’s the church, which is a very unfortunate word. It’s a pity it ever got used. Historically it goes back to a Greek phrase (in English letters) kuriakon which means that which is the Lord’s. Kurios is the Lord. So the church is that which is the Lord’s. And it’s transliterated into English in place of the K they put CH, so it’s CHURCH. But that’s what it means. It means that which is the Lord’s. And it’s true but it completely obscures the real meaning of the Greek word which is ekklesia from which we get such English words as ecclesiastical.
Now ekklesia has a specific meaning in the time of the Greek language where we’re talking about. It was the word for a governing body of a Greek city/state. Basically Greece was usually made up of four city/states, like Athens, or Corinth, or whatever it might be. In each city/state there were many differences, but they had a governing body, which was called the ekklesia.
Now the word ekklesia come from a Greek verb meaning to call out. So the church is a body of people called out from the world. And the ekklesia—let’s take Athens which is the most conspicuous example. The ekklesia was the governing body of the city of Athens. We talk a lot about Greek democracy, but it wouldn’t suit the feminists the least bit today, because the ekklesia was made up of male citizens of Athens. No women, no slaves, no aliens. That was the constitution of the ekklesia in all Greek city/states as far as I know.
So the church, the ekklesia, is a body of people called out from the world to exercise government. See, that’s the problem that this word church give no indication of the fact that we are God’s governing body in the earth. The best English word I can find is assembly but it doesn’t really do the job. I spent a few hours, once upon a time, trying to catch up on American history, and I didn’t succeed, but I believe it’s true, and some of you know better than I do, at one time the state of Virginia was governed by an assembly of Burgesses. Is that right? Well that means the assembly is a governing body.
So what is the church, the ekklesia? It’s Christ’s governing body on earth. We are responsible to administer His government. That’s a totally strange concept to the majority of church goers. And therefore, He holds us accountable for the way we do it. And when we look at the world, let’s say modern America, we say, “It’s in a mess. These people are awful.” Jesus looks at the church and He says, “What are you doing about it? I hold you accountable in many respects. Not all respects for what the world has become.”
So the situation is this as I see it, that’s why I’m happy to be here. If we want to change the nation we have to start by changing the church. In that Welsh revival that I spoke about, the man whom God used was a man named Evan Roberts. He was not, I don’t think, a great preacher, but he had a slogan: “Bend the Church and Bow the World.” If the church will bend, the world will bow. If the church will not bend to the Lord, the world will not bow. So in many ways, not in every respect, the destiny of America is in the hands of the church—you and I, people like us. Do we realize our responsibility? It’s a very solemn responsibility.
You see, let me say this first about Athens. I think I knew this years ago, but I rediscovered it. In the city of Athens there was a founder, almost a George Washington, who gave the laws of Athens. His name was Solong (?), and from then on the laws could not be changed. But the ekklesia, the governing body, had the power to make decrees. They couldn’t change the laws, but they could make decrees. To me that’s exactly like the church. Christ has made the laws, but we can make the decrees. We cannot transgress the laws, but we can impose the laws by the decrees that we make.
It said in the old translation of the Book of Job, “I shall also decree a thing and it shall be established unto thee.” I really believe that there comes a time in our relationship with the Lord where we can make decrees which will be carried out, because our authority is not our own. It’s from Jesus who is the head over all things to the church which is His body. So through the church Jesus carries out His redemptive purposes. No matter how long we delay, and we’ve delayed nineteen centuries in taking the Gospel to all nations, Jesus is not going to step down from heaven to finish the job off. And furthermore, He’s not coming back until we’ve done it.
For the key Scripture of Derek Prince Ministries is Matthew 24:14,
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”
When will the end come? When the gospel of the kingdom, and that’s not some human substitute gospel, it’s the real gospel—when the gospel of the kingdom has been proclaimed in all the world to all nations, then the end will come. Who is responsible for proclaiming the gospel in all the world to all nations? Could you say, “I am!, jointly responsible with the rest of the body.” And Jesus is not going to step down from heaven to take over. He’s waiting. I think He’s waiting patiently, but in a sense impatiently. How many other things we have permitted to take priority over this priority.
I want to say—I trust it’s not boastful—Ruth and I were married in 1978. This is my second marriage. Some of you knew my first wife, Lydia, who was a Dane. I mean a real Dane. Only the Danes know what a real Dane is. I’m so glad to have two real Danes sitting right there. In 1979, I felt the Lord saying to me, “I want you to start a radio broadcast.” Well I never thought of myself as a radio preacher. We didn’t have any surplus funds. But we went ahead in rather timid obedience and we started a radio broadcast called Today With Derek Prince, on eight stations with a budget of $8,000. a month and we really didn’t know where that money was coming from. But we did it in obedience, and we did it with a vision. Today, I think—we’re not clear—but I think and you can talk to our staff, I think it’s in fourteen different languages. It certainly reaches every continent. It’s in Chinese, Russian, Arabic and Spanish to talk of four main languages. That’s it. We just started and God took over. But if we’d never started, God would never have taken over.
So we are accountable to Jesus, the head of the church, as the members of His body to do what He has told us to do. We’re accountable to Him as His governing body to administer His authority. You know there’s one thing that’s tremendously lacking in America today and it’s authority. Much of it is due to the church, because the church has not represented the authority of Jesus Christ. The reason, and often is, because the church is not under His authority. There’s only one head to the church. His name is Jesus. Anything that is not under His headship is not a church.
Now I want to give you a concrete example of what happens when the church fails. It’s in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition...”
The “man of lawlessness” is the antichrist. These Thessalonians Christians were expecting the coming of the Lord at any time and Paul says, “I have to correct you. That day will not come, the return of the Lord, until there has been a falling away.” A very interesting word. The Greek word is exactly the word that gives us apostasy. It’s just the same word written in English letters. It’s only used twice—in this passage and in Acts where the leaders of the church in Jerusalem tell Paul that he’s been accused of teaching apostasy from the Law of Moses. So it means specifically a turning away from revealed spiritual truth. And Paul says, “Before the antichrist, the man of lawlessness, is revealed there has to be an apostasy.” Why? Because the church is the barrier to the revelation or to the consummation of evil. Satan full well knows, he knows the Bible better than most of us, that he cannot manifest the antichrist until the church has got out of the way. So there has to be an apostasy in the church because the restraining influence of the church has to be cancelled before the antichrist can be revealed.
You see what that means? You see the responsibility it places upon us. We are the restraining influence. It says a little further down in that chapter, and I know we are getting into speculative prophecy, in verse 6:
“And now you know what is restraining, that he [the antichrist] may be revealed... For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”
There are two ways of interpreting that. It can be the Holy Spirit or it can be the church. Probably it’s both—the Holy Spirit in the church. So the final consummation of evil in this age will not come until the church, by apostasy, opens the way. And I’m going to give you a few quotations later in my teaching—not tonight. I would say the apostasy is just about consummated in America today. In the top levels of most Christian professing denominations, apostasy rules; blasphemous, Christ denying, God provoking apostasy. I will give you just one or two quotations later on in these meetings.
I don’t think we have to go much further before the apostasy is complete. But in the mean while, what is our responsibility? To restrain the forces of evil. We are the governmental assembly. We’re the enforcers of Christ’s authority. Not in every area, but in certain specific areas.
Summing it up briefly, what God will do in America depends largely on what the church will do. Did you hear that? Shall I say it again? What God will do in America depends largely on what the church will do. I’ll give you one familiar Scripture which is the number one Scripture for all intercessors. 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“If my people... I will heal their land.”
I’ve left out all the middle, but what it means is if God is to heal our land His people have to do something. If His people do not do it He will not heal the land. That places a clear responsibility on you and me.
Now, I just have to make one more point and then I’m going to close for tonight. The questions that is not yet answered is who are the church? Who are the church? And I want to give you an answer which I think may shock you. I’m going to quote altogether four Scriptures. First of all Matthew 28:19. Jesus said to his apostles after His resurrection:
“Go 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, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus said “Go and make disciples of all nations.” And then He said teach them. The evidence that they’ve accepted the responsibility of discipleship is that they’re baptized in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. I hear dear Christians talking about discipling nations. No one is discipled until he’s baptized. Because that’s the mark of discipleship. So we can go and have an influence on nations, but we are not making them disciples until they submit to baptism.
We talk a lot today about Christianizing our culture. I’m skeptical. I don’t think our culture can be Christianized. Our job is to make disciples, not Christianize people. Are you in agreement with that?
The thing that Jesus did not say is, “Go and make church members.” Most of us, honestly, that’s the way we think. “Well, we’ve got 8,000 members in our church.” How many disciples do we have? Well, maybe 23. You think I’m not serious. Well I’ll show you what He says. Acts 11:26, just the latter part of the verse.
“...And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”
In other words Christian only occurs three times in the New Testament. That’s one of its uses. What kind of people were called Christians? Disciples. That’s right. Those who are not disciples, have no right to call themselves Christians. No Biblical right. This is a land of free speech. You can say whatever you like. But what you may say may not be Biblical. So Jesus said, “Go and make disciples...” And the problem is that we have not kept His commandments. There have been wonderful exceptions.
I’ll tell you the problem about making church members who are not disciples. Number one, they give the world a false picture of what Christianity is. How may times have you heard people says, “Well, if that’s what Christianity is I don’t want any part of it.” I wouldn’t either. But it isn’t what Christianity is. The demonstration of Christianity is disciples. And all of you probably know I was associated with the “Discipleship Movement.” I’m not part of the Discipleship Movement and I’m not talking about the Discipleship Movement. I want to make that clear. Many of the aims of the Discipleship Movement were very right, but unfortunately they went the wrong way about applying them.
Like it says in Galatians, “Oh foolish Galatians, how can you begin in the spirit and be made perfect in the flesh...” That’s really the tragic history of the Discipleship Movement. And I have to say I was there when it started. There were three other brothers, two of whom are now with the Lord. It was a sovereign intervention of God. We did not plan it, we didn’t even want it. God started something, but we messed it up. I think within in a year we messed it up. You know what the problem was? Personal ambition. Is that ever a problem in the church? I think is probably the number one problem in the church.
So what I’m saying is, the other problem about church members that are not disciples, is they take up the time of the people who should be making disciples. Paul said, “If people can’t learn, don’t waste time on them. From such turn away.” There are many Godly ministers and men of God who are spending countless hours laboring with people who will never make the commitment. It’s a disaster. So what we’re talking about now is a church made up of real Christians which is disciples.
Now we come to one final simple statement which is what are the conditions for becoming a disciple? I will take two passages from the teaching of Jesus. Some of you may have noticed there’s a brightly colored new book out called They Shall Expel Demons. I’d have to tell you, much of what is in that book I learned the hard way. Time and time again I wanted to go a certain way, and I ran up against the words of Jesus. He never messed around. He never compromised. He never used double speech. He said exactly what He meant and He still means it just the same today. And I want to take two statements of His concerning disciples. The first is in Matthew 16:24–25.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone comes after Me...’”
And that means to become a disciple, because the mark of a disciple in the Jewish culture was you followed your teacher. You never went ahead of him, you didn’t even walk beside him, you walked behind him. And those who walked behind Jesus were His disciples. There were all sorts of people thronging Him all around, but they were not disciples. But the ones who walked behind him, they were the disciples. So Jesus said:
“If anyone desires to follow Me, to come behind Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his [soul] life will lose it, but whoever loses his life [or his soul] for My sake will find it.”
So, there are two unvarying requirements. Number one, you deny yourself. Number two, you take up your cross. Somebody said, “Your cross is the place where God’s will and your will cross.” It’s also the place where you die. God never imposes the cross. It’s something we take up voluntarily. And then Jesus said, “For whoever desires to save his life...” But the Greek word also is soul. If you want to hold onto your soul life, you’ll lose it. If you’re willing to lose it, you’ll find it.
Now the soul in the physiology or the constitution of the human being, there are three elements; the spirit, the soul, the body. Triune man created in the likeness of a triune God. And the soul is the ego. It’s usually interpreted as the will, the intellect, and the emotions. Putting it in simple words, it’s the thing that says, “I want, I feel, and I think.” And that has to be put to death. What you want is not important. What you feel is not important. What you think is not important. It’s what God says. And you have to put that to death. You cannot be a disciple without taking that step, voluntarily putting an end to you ego.
You see, if you turn to 2 Timothy 3, we don’t need to turn to there now, there’s a vivid picture in the first five verses of the condition of humanity at the close of this age. And there are eighteen horrible sins that are listed. But the first two and the last one, all concern what we love; love of self, love of money and love of pleasure. Unfortunately the NIV does not translate love of self. It says egotism, which is all right. But it obscures the fact that there are three dominating loves; self, money and pleasure. And in 1 Timothy 6:10 it says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil...” So everything else that’s evil in that chapter springs from the love of money. And I would have to say, the love of money is the conspicuous driving force in America today. And you have not all lived as long as I have. It wasn’t always true in the Anglo-Saxon world.
I come from a military family. All my forbearers have been officers in the British Army. Some of them were not Christians. But I’d have to tell you they were not motivated by the love of money. What were they motivated by? A word you never hear today; duty. People have changed. Some of you haven’t lived long enough to know how much people have changed. This is a mark of the end of the age. Love of self, love of money and love of pleasure. But if ever there was an age that’s self-centered, it’s this one. All the words are self-development, self-conservation, self-expression. What people don’t realize is, the self they’re expressing is a rebel. And so we’re multiplying rebellion.
So those are the conditions for discipleship. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. And you cannot follow Him until you’ve denied yourself and taken up your cross. That’s what the church consists of. All the rest is in a way, superfluous. It cannot fulfill God’s purposes because it’s going contrary to God’s plans.
Now let me point out a very interesting Scripture. In Acts 11:26, just the last sentence in that verse,
“...And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”
Who were called Christians? Disciples. And who has a right to be called Christian? Disciple. And no one else has Scriptural right. We can use the title, but it doesn’t belong. It’s only disciples who have the right to be called Christian. You see, I have a feeling, I would have to say that the Lord not only gave me a lot of time think about what I was going to say and I changed my mind several times before I arrived at my decision, but the Lord has been dealing sovereignly with Ruth and me. I won’t go into any details, but yesterday we spent time in the presence of the Lord, and He reminded each of us individually of sins that we’ve been involved with many, many years earlier. And we realized that we had never fully dealt with those sins. And we did as far as I know.
I think that’s something that’s going to happen to some of the people here. You’re going to be made aware of sins that you’ve tolerated or maybe forgotten. But Jesus hasn’t forgotten them. He doesn’t hold them against you, but they’re not expiated until you acknowledge, repent, confess. And I believe it may be that many of those here, you will be faced during these days we’re together with the question—Am I a disciple or just a church member. You may be a very good church member. You may do all the right things. Read your Bible, pay your tithes, attend the services, do nobody any harm. The question is how many people do you do any good to? We’ll come to that later if God wills and I live.
Turn to one other passage concerning discipleship. In Luke 14:26–27. These are incredibly painful words, but they’re there. And if we’re not willing to experience the pain, I don’t believe we’ll experience the release. Let’s read the previous verse, 25.
“And great multitudes went with Him [notice they went with Him, they weren’t following Him. They were not disciples. They were just multitudes of interested people.]. And He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life [but the word is soul] also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.’”
So it’s impossible to become a disciple of Jesus without fulfilling those conditions. Now you may take exception, or be shocked by the word “hate”. We are not called actively to hate our father or mother, our wife or brothers or sisters. But, as I understand it, the word means when our relationship with any of those people would conflict with our obedience to Jesus Christ, then we have to say “no.” We’re to hate anything that keeps us from wholeheartedly following Jesus. Then He says, “...his own life or his own soul also.” So that’s the safeguard. You’re not entitled to hate anybody else unless you hate your own soul. Your soul life, your ego, the demanding self that says, “I want, I think, I feel, I’m important, put me first, cater to me, make me comfortable, suit my convenience.” Does that govern many people in the United States today? I think it does. I think we have to be very careful that we don’t take our relationship with Jesus for granted. I really believe, and this is the last thing I want to say tonight, I really believe that we need to examine ourselves during these days that we are here together, and say, “Lord, show me. Am I a disciple or just a church member? And if I’m just a church member, Lord, help me to change. Amen.”