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For our final proclamation we’ve chosen one which I think is appropriate for the close of the conference, Philippians 1:6.
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in us will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Are you confident of that very thing? We have no other source of confidence. Nothing else is reliable. So why don’t we all say it? You’d better say it after us the first time, and then second time you can say it with us.
“being confident of this very thing, [repeat] that He who has begun a good work in us [repeat] will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Now we’ll say it all together.
“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in us will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Thank you. Now it would be remiss of me if I did not say a big thank you to all sorts of wonderful people who have made this conference possible. But I arrived in time to hear some thanks being given individually. So I am just going to give thanks to all of you collectively. Let me say it has been a real delight to meet some people whom I haven’t seen for years, to discover you are still alive, in good health and walking with the Lord. That’s wonderful. So God bless every one of you.
Now the theme for this closing message is “A Vision of Holiness.” Some of you have been here long enough to remember what I said, but I said about two or three meetings ago that I was taking you through a long, dark tunnel, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. Yesterday evening I spoke about the church as the Bride of Christ. Now today, God helping us and it has to be God, I want to come out into the full glory of God. That’s where the tunnel should lead us. I believe the glory of God is summed up in one word—holiness, a word that is very seldom used in the contemporary church as I know it. In fact, it might almost have dropped out of the Scriptures as far as most people are concerned. There is a version of holiness which is a set of negative rules. You mustn’t do this, you mustn’t do that. Let me say I respect those rules, but they’ve got nothing whatever to do with holiness. Holiness is totally different and it’s totally positive.
I find that we as religious people, find it much easier to focus on the negative than on the positive. We’ll quickly learn all the “thou shalt nots” but we often don’t get much further than that. I don’t know why, but a thought came to me, and I mean the most unlikely people it was something that Napoleon said about his place in the history of France. He said, “I found the crown of France rolling in the gutter and I picked it up on the point of my sword.” And I have to say I think the crown of holiness is rolling in the gutter, and it’s time we picked it up on the point of the sword of the Spirit of God, the word of God.
I want to start with Proverbs 29:18:
“Where there is no vision [this says revelation, but I prefer vision] the people cast off restraint.”
That word in Hebrew means “something that’s granted you by God as a revelation, as a vision.” It doesn’t necessarily mean a physical vision, but it means a revelation from God. Would you agree with me that basically to get anything real out of the Bible, we need revelation? We can study it. We can intellectualize it. But when it’s going to do it’s work, it has to be a direct, personal revelation.
I observed this is true where there is no such revelation, people cast off restraint. The real restraining influence in our lives is our vision. We can try to follow a set of rules, but after a while it becomes wearisome, and we tend to throw them off and say, “I’ll do my own thing.” For me the obvious example of this which Paul himself uses is the example of an athlete. He says, “They aim for a crown [a gold medal if you want] which is going to perish. But we have a crown which will never perish.” And if you think about athletes, the things that they will do, the stress that they will put on themselves, the discipline, the sacrifices of time, everything. They are almost cruel to themselves. Paul said that about his own body. He said, “I beat my body. I treat it cruelly, because I have a vision.” Why do those athletes do that? Because they see glowing in the distance a gold medal. They do things for that gold medal they would never do for anything else. And that’s what we need is a gold medal vision. I believe the vision that we need is holiness.
I want to speak this morning about holiness. I feel totally inadequate to this tremendous subject, but I’m just going to do what I can and trust the Lord to use it whatever way He can. In Ephesians 5 Paul speaks about the relationship between Christ and His church in terms of a marriage relationship. You see, I think it was when I last spoke, I can’t remember when it was, yesterday afternoon, I said that God has shown me that the heart of Jesus is for His church, His bride. And when our heart is in harmony with His heart we can flow with Him. Jesus has a passion for the lost. He wants to reach the unsaved and so do we in our ministry. Our motto is to “Reach the Unreached and Teach the Untaught.” We’ve had that vision and it’s worked. We’ve succeeded to a certain extent. We have reached in one way or another, at least one hundred and forty nations. My radio program goes out in at least a dozen languages and touches every continent. It’s in all the most spoken languages of the world. Why were we successful? Because we had a vision. Not because somebody hired us, but because we had a vision.
But my vision has lifted. I believe it’s a sovereign work of God. I’m still totally committed to reaching the unreached and teaching the untaught, but my vision now is focused on the Bride of Christ, the church. I believe, in a way, I’ve come into a more full harmony with the heart of Jesus, because I believe that’s where His heart is. It’s with His bride.
I want to read a little passage from Ephesians 5:25:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
So we see, here’s the focus of Jesus’ whole ministry is to present to Himself the church as a bride. He uses two words; glorious and holy. Let me speak first briefly about the word glorious. I want to turn to 2 Chronicles 7:1–2. Now I want to explain because of my academic background, this word glory and glorious has a special meaning for me. I want to take you for a brief trip around the Greek language.
I started studying Greek when I was ten, not because I chose it, but because that was the way education went. I studied it until I was the age of twenty-five. There are lots of things about Greek that I don’t know, but there are some things I do know. My focus of my study was on the was on the philosophy of Plato. I had two heroes, Socrates and Plato. And I can say I read every word that Plato ever wrote in the original language. One of his key concepts was a word which is Greek is doxa which is translated in the New Testament glory. And a doxology is something that gives glory to God. But I, when I turn to the New Testament Greek, I had a major problem because doxa was a key word in Plato’s philosophy. He talked about two things, epestemi, knowledge, intellectual knowledge, and doxa. The thrust of his philosophy was for epestemi, that’s the only thing that’s reliable, doxa what you perceive by your senses, is never to be trusted. So for me doxa meant sensual perception.
Then I come to the New Testament and they’re using the word doxa in such a totally different way, that I had to sit down and ask myself how did it come about, this change. And I believe I can help you to grasp something exciting. The reason is because glory, kabod in Hebrew and doxa in Greek, means the impact of
God upon our physical senses. That’s the relationship. Glory is something that impacts our senses. It can be felt. It can be seen. And I want to turn to this passage in 2 Chronicles because it gives a wonderful example. This is the end of Solomon’s dedication of the temple.
“When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.”
I want to say, wherever you find holiness, you’ll find fire. Holiness is something fiery. And then it says,
“And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house.”
God’s presence was so powerful that nobody could stand up. They couldn’t even enter it. How many of you (don’t put your hand up) but how many of you have actually been impacted by the glory of God? You felt God in such a way that you probably could never describe it. That is His glory.
Now the church is to be glorious. That means it’s to be permeated with the glory of God. It’s not a religious organization. It’s a living organism permeated with the visible, sensible presence of God. That’s exciting. See, if you don’t have a vision, you can be a good Christian. Keep all the rules. Do the right thing. God to church. Pay your tithes. But it can be very boring. I see a lot of heads nodding in agreement. See, what changes it is vision. Then it becomes exciting.
I’m excited. I’m eighty-two years old and I’ve never been more excited than I am right now. Life is not getting duller for me. I tell Ruth from time to time when we’re in one situation or another, “At least you can’t complain that our life is dull.” I don’t want a dull life. I want the presence and activity of God in my ministry, in my fellowship, in the church. The church has got to be glorious, pervaded with the sensible presence of God so that people actually sometimes can’t even stand up. I’ve been in those situations.
I don’t know why I’m quoting people, but you know this little stanza from John Bunyan?
“He that is down need fear no fall, He that is low no pride, He that is humble ever shall have God to be his guide.”
You see, I’m going to come to the words for worship. Maybe I should do it now. I’ve examined both in the Old Testament and in the New, every major word for worship. And they all describe a posture of the body. And I will start at the head and work downwards. Bowing the head. When Moses came to the elders of Israel with the news that the Lord was going to deliver them it says, “They bowed their heads and worshiped.”
Then we come to the upper part of the body. You bow like this. You know amongst Orientals, that’s basically the way you acknowledge somebody. You bow before them.
And then there’s the hands. There’s different postures of the hands. The hands reaching up toward God. That’s an acknowledgment of His sovereignty. Then there’s the hands stretched out, which is the receiving attitude from God. And then there’s the hands in this position. Isn’t it remarkable that much the most famous picture of prayer is Albrect Dura’s “Praying Hands.” He didn’t focus on the mouth or the lips. He focused on the hands. Wherever you see that picture you think of prayer. That’s the first thing you think.
Well, we’ll go a little lower down. You can bend the whole upper part of your body. Then you can come to the place where you kneel down, you bend your knees. When Solomon dedicated the temple he did two things. He kneeled down and he stretched out his hands. That was worship.
Then you come to your feet and there’s all sorts of things you can do with your feet. Your feet have an important part in your worship. Unfortunately my feet won’t do now what I want them to do, but as long as they would, I did it. Some of you have witnessed this. I think of a young man who came from a rather wild life and met the Lord, and his testimony was this. “I haven’t stopped drinking, I’ve just changed the brand. I haven’t stopped dancing, I’ve just changed the floor.” Them’s my sentiments. You know I’m a very serious person, but I like to be seriously preoccupied with the glory of God.
And finally, this isn’t the end of the list but it’s where we’ll stop, the Hebrew word for worship ?ishtok kabut? means prostrating yourselves on your face on the ground. That’s why I think of John Bunyan, because when you there, there’s no lower you can go. There’s only one way you can go, is up. That is the actual, literal meaning the primary Hebrew word for worship ?ishtok kabut?. Wherever Ruth and I go to minister, and it includes this particular, before I come out in public, we spend time on our face on the floor. We did it a day before this conference opened. We said, “Here we are, Lord. We’ve got nothing to give except what You give. We have no strength. We have no power. We belong on the floor and we won’t get up until we’ve made that clear to You. We’re depending on You.”
So that’s worship according to the Bible, and not according to the church. You know that famous hymn,
“All hail the power of Jesus’ name, let angels prostrate fall.”
What are they doing? Worshiping. And these respectable church members will sing this song with gusto. It wouldn’t enter their heads to fall prostrate. That’s good enough for angels, not for us respectable church members. Worship is the response to God’s holiness. It’s the response to God’s presence.
We have in many churches the Sunday morning worship service where there is no worship at all. It’s a nice song service, but people come in stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up and walk out. They haven’t worshiped. They don’t even know what worship is. In fact, I think really, until you get a glimpse of God’s holiness you don’t have the motivation for worship.
Let me quote from Hebrews 12:10, speaking about our earthly parents or fathers. The writer of Hebrews says:
“For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He [God] for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
So remember when God disciplines you, if you respond it will make you more capable of being partaker of God’s holiness. Some mature Christians have the attitude of, “Well, God doesn’t need to discipline me.” No, He doesn’t if you’ve become partakers of His holiness. But if you haven’t He may still discipline you. And what I want to point out is it’s not our holiness. It’s not a set of rules. It’s being partaker of God’s holiness. For me, that’s the glory, that’s the vision. The vision of God’s holiness. Holy is the only word that’s applied three times to God. It’s unique. It describes the uniqueness of God. We can have other aspects of God’s character like His love, His justice, His wisdom, His patience. And we can see them in a fragmented way portrayed in human character. We know people who are wise or just or patient or loving. But apart from God, the word holy has no meaning. It only has meaning when you know God.
And as I said there are two passages, one in the Old Testament the other in the New, where the word holy is applied three times to God. We’ll turn first of all to Isaiah 6, the first eight verses:
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD.”
Remember that’s a proper name. It’s not a title. In Hebrew it’s probably Yahweh. So when you’re talking about the Lord, you’re not just talking about a person who occupies a certain position, you’re talking about a unique being with His own name. I don’t know whether Yahweh is the correct pronunciation. I don’t think anybody does. Let me use it.
“I saw Yahweh sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple, Above it stood seraphim...”
Now the word seraph is directly related to the word for fire. Seraphi in Hebrew is a fire. So I say wherever you see holiness, you’ll find fire. These are fiery creatures.
“They stood there; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.”
Notice the distribution of activity. With two they covered their face, that’s worship. With two they covered their feet, that’s worship. And with two they flew, that’s service. So in heaven there’s twice as much emphasis on worship as there is on service. Should that be true here? I really believe it should. One thing I notice about these seraphim, they never became familiar with God. They always kept their faces covered and their feet covered. There is a kind of familiarity with Jesus which I find offensive, like buddy-buddy relationship. He is our Brother, He is our Friend, He is our closest relative, but let us never cultivate familiarity with Jesus. The Seraphim never did. And as they stand there like that:
“They cried one to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!’”
So that was their theme. It never became monotonous. The holiness of God was so awesome, so glorious that it never became monotonous.
“And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am undone! [I’m lost, I’ve perished] Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’”
Now as far as I can understand it Isaiah was already a prophet, because he prophesied in the reign of Uzziah. This happened in the year that Uzziah died. So as I understand it, Isaiah was already a prophet of the Lord. But when He had a vision of the Lord’s holiness, He cried out, “I’m lost. I’m a man of unclean lips, dwelling in the midst of a people of unclean lips.”
The first time I ever went to a Pentecostal service, and I went there because somebody had invited and I thought I want to see what goes on. The preacher had previously been a taxi driver and it was a little different from Cambridge. But he read this passage and when he got to those words, “The man of unclean lips dwelling in the midst of a people of unclean lips,” I said to myself, “That describes me more accurately than anybody has ever done.” I was in the British Army which is probably number one for the list of people of unclean lips, and I was just as unclean as the rest.
I didn’t get saved that day. Well, let me tell you what happened. This has got nothing to do with my sermon, but he began to preach. I had been trained to analyze and criticize for seven years at Cambridge. And I sat there and I said to myself, “This man knows what he is talking about. I don’t understand, but he knows and I don’t.” I mean, one of the things he did was he started with this text and he ended up somehow with David and King Saul. I never understood how I got from one place to the other. He was just demonstrating the fact that King Saul was head and shoulders taller than the rest of the people. So he was conducting an imaginary conversation between Saul and David, and in order to emphasize the fact that Saul was so much taller, there was a little bench on the platform. He’d jump up on the bench and when he was speaking of Saul he’d look down at where he was when he was David from the bench. But in the middle of one of his addresses, the bench collapsed, and he fell to the platform with a loud thud. If you’d been planning something to impress a don from Cambridge, you’d have left that part out.
But I said, not because of but in spite of it, I know what he’s saying is right and I don’t know if he does. So then they came to the end of the service, and I had never been in a place where they use red hymnbooks, let alone repeated verses. I mean it was all new to me. And at the end they said, “Now if you want this,” and I couldn’t understand what this is, “put your hand up.” Well, I was acutely embarrassed. Never had anybody ask me to put my hand up in a church. So I sat there and there was this stony silence, no background music, nothing. And as I sat there, there were two inaudible voices speaking to me. One of them said, “If you put your hand up in front of all these old ladies and you’re a soldier in uniform, you’re going to look very silly.” The other one said in the opposite ear, “If this is something good, why shouldn’t you have it?” And I was paralyzed. I mean, the silence lasted at least two minutes. Then a miracle took place. I saw my own right arm go right up in the air, and I knew I had not raised it. You think about being excited, I was frightened. I thought, “What have I got myself into?”
A few nights later I met the Lord personally in an army barrack room. But that impression of those words of Isaiah, “Woe is me, for I am undone. I’m lost, I’ve perished.” Here was a prophet of the Lord. But when he saw the Lord in His holiness he felt so unclean, so unworthy, so contemptible. See, that’s a revelation of the holiness of the Lord.
You can think of Job. Let’s look at Job. Job 1:1:
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and eschewed [or shunned] evil.”
A little further on it says in verse 8. Now this is the Lord’s testimony about Job, and He’s boasting about Job to Satan which is a remarkable scene.
“Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’”
So that was God’s testimony about Job. Everybody agreed that Job was a very righteous man. Job thought so, God said so, and even Satan said so. But when Job had a personal revelation of the Lord, we’ll turn on to Job chapter 42:5–6. Now the Lord had appeared to Job in a whirlwind and told him a lot of things which we won’t go into. But Job’s reaction, he said to the Lord:
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself And repent in dust and ashes.”
This uniquely righteous man, directly exposed to the glory of the Lord, felt just like Isaiah. “I’m unclean. I’m unworthy. I’m unfit.” That’s what holiness is. It’s very remarkable, I don’t know whether you consider God’s dealings with people, because God doesn’t deal with us the way we expect. I have to say one thing about God. He’s not fair — by our standards. Is that right? I believe this revelation was the end purpose of all that Job went through in the previous parts of the book. Think what it cost. He lost all his seven children, all his servants were killed except about two or three, his house was smitten with a whirlwind or rather his children’s house, and he was left destitute sitting on the ashes scraping himself. Why? Why did God permit him to go through that? I believe it was essential to bring him to the place where God could reveal His holiness. So God’s valuations are totally different from ours.
That may have a meaning in the lives of some of you. Things may happen that make no sense and you say, “Why did I have to go through that?” The answer is God wants to reveal His holiness to you. You have to be prepared. I don’t think unprepared people ever receive a revelation of the holiness of God.
I just want to say about Job’s seven sons and three daughters. At the end of this book, Job gets everything back doubled—sheep, oxen, servants, everything. But his sons and daughters are not doubled. He just gets the same number back. You know why? It’s very important to know why. Because you could say, “Well, look. Job got up every morning and sacrificed for his sons and his daughters and they get swept away.” But God didn’t give him double because the ones he had were still there waiting for him. So don’t be discouraged when God snatches away someone you love. He’ll be there, or she’ll be there when you arrive.
Our brother from Kenya came up to me and brought me greetings from my daughter in Kenya. I said, “I’ve a lot of daughters in Kenya but I don’t know which one you mean.” Then it suddenly dawned on me, my first wife and I... The mother of one of our women students in the college died. We went to the funeral and I’m not a great one for funerals. It was the most pathetic scene. Such a scene of poverty. The woman was buried in a sort of wooden box. She was dressed in a white nightgown which was very stained, and the hole was dug right in front of the hut, just a few yards away. And as I looked at it I saw such a sense of poverty. But the woman left behind not only her daughter who was a student, but two little girls. I think they were aged five and two, or four and two, or something like that.
So I said to Lydia, “Who’s going to care for them?” So we took them in. And as long as we were in Kenya they lived in our home like our children. The elder was called Susanna. Her name was Susan. I’d forgotten all about it, really. But Ruth will bear me testimony. One day, quite out of the blue, I received a letter from Susan from Kenya. She’d made a good career as a teacher, she was married to a good Christian man who is now leading a work, primarily counseling married couples. And she said, “You’re the first person that ever took me in your arms. It’s the first time I ever slept on a bed. It’s the first time I ever had a sheet.” Oh, I’m so glad. I’d forgotten all about it really. But it came back to me. Just bear in mind, your good works will follow you. You will not leave them behind. They are all being stored up for each one of us.
So we’ll go on with the theme of holiness. Let’s go to the New Testament. Revelation 4:2, John says:
“Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.”
I don’t think John could look directly immediately at the person on the throne. All he could see was the throne. But when his eyes adjusted to the throne, then he could see the One that sat on it.
“And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald.”
You know green is a restful color, and the rainbow is the sign of God’s covenant mercy. So the whole throne was like saying, “It is a place of awe but don’t be afraid.”
“Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.”
Crowns is the laurel wreath, it’s not the diadem of a king. It’s very interesting to me, I’m not going to give a lecture on church government, but the human form of government that God endorses is eldership. It started in Genesis and it reappears in Revelation. I remember about maybe twenty or more years ago I began to get very excited about elders. And I would go around and preach about elders. People would say, “What are elders? What do we need elders for? What are they?” Well, there’s a great change come in the church because people today are very conscious, many of them, about elders. But that is the divine form of government. And these people apparently they were people who’d been victorious in their earthly race, sat on thrones. It used to say “seats” in the Old King James, but the word is “throne,” in the presence of God. That was their reward. I have to say, in my own experience, I used to think, you know, being in heaven just sitting around singing hymns doesn’t exactly excite me. Then I thought about these men. All they did was sit on thrones in the presence of God. And I still haven’t arrived at the point that I can fully accept it, but I have come to see that the direct personal revelation of God is the highest that He has to offer. And to be permanently in the presence of God—there is nothing beyond that.
I used to think well I’d would like to take off and look at one or two stars up there. Find our what’s going on in the universe. But I don’t think I’ve arrived, but I’m much nearer being fully satisfied with nothing but the presence of God. Let me remind you that God is a self-revealing God. He’s a Creator who loves to reveal Himself. And the highest reward that God has to offer you is the revelation of Himself. So here these twenty-four victorious overcomers with golden wreaths on their heads in the presence of God, and every time they have a vision of the holiness of God they end up on their faces. Well, brothers and sisters, if it’s good enough for the seraphim, it should be good enough for you and me.
“And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, [notice the fire again] which are the seven Spirits of God. [We could dwell on that but I won’t.] Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.”
Now, I believe these must be the same as the seraphim, but that’s just an opinion.
“The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!’”
Somebody in Hebrew has come out with a most beautiful chorus. Somebody asked me what I would like if I had a funeral? This is one of the things I have asked for. In Hebrew it is “Kodesh, Kodesh, Kodesh.” And then it says, “To Him who was, and is and is to come.” What a privilege to be in the presence of God even briefly, just for a moment in our weak and fragile condition. There is no higher privilege. This is holiness, you see. And I have to say I’ve preached in well over forty nations, for over fifty years, to people from many different denominational and ethnic backgrounds, and I don’t know that I have yet to find people who do what is says in Hebrews 12:14.
“Pursue peace with all men and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”
Now this makes it clear that you cannot have holiness without right relationships. If we’re careless about our personal relationships, we don’t qualify for the revelation of God’s holiness. It’s peace with all men. As far as lies in us—some people you can’t make peace with. And then is says, “...holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”
You see, I’ve just completed a book which some of you have got hold of by now called They Shall Expel Demons. If you have not read to the end of the book which is quite a long way, I’ve raised the question at the end of the book, “After deliverance, what then?” Because deliverance is essentially negative. We can’t end with the negatives. And I quote from the prophet Obadiah verse 17. How many of you have heard a sermon from Obadiah? There’s only one chapter. Most people ignore him. He says in verse 17:
“But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, And there shall be holiness; The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.”
As far as I’m concerned deliverance is not an end in itself, but it’s an essential condition. It leads to holiness. And without being delivered a lot of people cannot be holy, because all demons are unclean. Consequently, if you really want holiness I believe you have to have, if you need it, deliverance.
And then it says, “The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.” That’s the goal — to bring God’s people back into their possessions. Now we who are not Jewish, some of us, we can see that Israel as a nation has been out of their God-given possession for something like nineteen centuries. And what’s exciting about this year is they’re celebrating the fact that they’ve begun to possess their possessions. But they’re a long way still from possessing the whole possession.
But I believe the same is basically true of the church. I believe we have been out of our God-given inheritance for a long, long, long time. And I believe the one end-time purpose of God is to bring us back into our inheritance. And it will not come without deliverance if you need deliverance and without holiness. Because without holiness no one will see the Lord. So this is my understanding of where we’re at. In 1 Chronicles 16:29 it says:
“...Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!”
As I understand it, holiness is spiritual beauty. Most of the dear sisters that I know to some extent are concerned about their physical appearance. My wife is and I’m glad she is. But how many of us, male or female, are concerned about our spiritual appearance? How many of us are really concerned for spiritual beauty, which is holiness? And how many of us... we had an impassioned presentation from Cort Randal about getting back. I say, “Amen.” But that means getting back into our possessions. Becoming the kind of people that we ought to be.
I think I comment in the book, if the apostles returned to earth today they’d have to look a long, long way to find any church that they would recognize as being like the one they left behind. We have a long way to go. But it’s exciting. I have a vision. I can see holiness. I haven’t attained to it, but it’s there. And I will not be satisfied with anything less. God has created in me a deep inner dissatisfaction with things the way they are. I’m not, I think, essentially critical, but I just am realistic. The church is not what it should be. Can you say amen to that? I think that’s obvious. The question is, do we want the church to become what it should be, or are we content to go on with things as they are? I am not content. I don’t know how far I’ll come before the Lord takes me, but I’m headed in that direction. How about you?
Let me just close with a passage from Psalm 95:1–7. This Psalm is a progression. A progression out of praise and proclamation and singing into the presence of the Lord. It says you know in the Psalms, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.” The only way into the presence of the Lord is with thanksgiving and praise. If you don’t have thanksgiving, you can’t get through the gate. If you get through the gate but you don’t praise, you can’t get into the courts. But they are not the destination. The destination is the presence of the Lord. So let’s follow this procedure.
“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.”
You know what shout means? It means shout. Is it Scriptural to shout? Well it certainly is. People who go to whatever things they play down there—is it baseball over there? They certainly shout. You get a football crowd in Britain and believe me they shout. They’ve got something to shout for but it’s very temporary. We’ve got something glorious and permanent and God says, “Just shout joyfully.” Are you prepared to do that? All right. Well stand to your feet. Now we’re going to shout. We’re not going to talk loud. We’re going to shout so that they can hear it in whatever bank it is across the street. They probably need to hear it. We’re going to shout jut a simple phrase. Jesus Christ is Lord. We’re going to shout it three times. Take your time from me. Are you ready? Now, not just talking. Take a deep breath. JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! AMEN. HALLELUJAH! GLORY TO GOD! GLORY TO GOD!
All right. Now you may be seated. We haven’t quite finished. We’re going to do the rest of this Psalm. We’ve only done verse one.
“Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. [Now this is the reason why we shout.] For the LORD is the great God, And the great King above all gods. In His hands are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, and He made it; And His hands formed the dry land.”
In all of that we’ve been doing we’re acknowledging this glorious, holy Creator. But then it says, this is only the progression, this is the gates and the courts. Then it says in verse 6:
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; [And notice it’s a position of the body.] Let us kneel [another position of the body] before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God.”
Whatever you worship, it is your god. And when you worship something you make it your god. If you worship money, money becomes your god. If you worship pleasure, pleasure becomes your god. But the way to acknowledge the true God is to worship Him. That’s what we owe to Him. And God does not tolerate worship offered to any other person but Himself. He alone is worthy of worship. So it says in verse 6:
“Come let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hands. [Now there’s a period, but the verse hasn’t ended. This is a remarkable thing. And it goes on,] Today if you will hear His voice.”
And that’s the end of that verse, but it’s not the end of the sentence, and I believe it brings out this. That when you’ve entered through thanksgiving and through praise, and you’ve acknowledged Him in worship, that’s the time to hear His voice. My experience is, when I’ve been in an attitude of real worship, if God speaks I know it’s God. Ruth is my worship leader. When we pray together, she leads and I try to follow. At times we really enter into worship. And then it often happens God speaks a word to us. When that comes, I know that’s God. There are other times when I hear a word and I think, “Well, I hope it was God,” but I’m not sure. But when the spirit of worship is prevailing, then we can hear His voice.
I want to suggest .. Dick where are you... I’m giving you a hard job. But the grace of the Lord is sufficient. I want you to lead us in worship, if possible something familiar so that we don’t have to learn the words. And then we’ll stand up to worship. I would like to be able to tell you you can all come and prostrate yourselves. A few can if you want to. If God has something to say, whatever way it may come, then we are ready. Amen!