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Let’s turn to our theme for this evening. I saw the title for these two seminar series was Faith and Spiritual Power. I always try to be obedient so I really sought the Lord on what I could say about faith and spiritual power. And one of the scriptures that came to me is one that you might not be familiar with. We’ll just glance at it. It’s found in the book of Daniel, chapter 11 and verse 32. It describes prophetically a time when evil is going to be tremendously powerful and almost sweep everything before it. But it describes in that passage one kind of person who will not be overwhelmed with the flood of evil but who will be triumphant and active and successful in the midst of evil. From my point of observation, which is as you’ve heard, nearly seventy years of very active involvement in the work of God and the people of God, traveling in many, many nations, having a certain kind of background experience of situations which probably are not known to many of you, I find that the tide of evil in the world is rising with amazing rapidity. I have to keep bearing in mind that I’m older than most of you, but when I think of what England was like when I grew up there between World War I and World War II, the security, the stability, the sense of accepted values, I can hardly believe the changes that have taken place. I’ve lived now for more than twenty years, most of the time, in the United States. In those twenty years, the changes that have taken place, I can only describe them as cataclysmic. The changes in morality, in relationships, in family life, the upsurge of the divorce rate, the open flaunting of wickedness in the form of homosexuality, violence, perverted lifestyles. Really, when I look back I have to say to myself, did all that happen in just twenty years?
Then I think of one of the countries which I’ve been close to over the years, the country of Sweden. I first went to Sweden as a young minister in l947 and I have to say it was the most God fearing nation that I had ever visited. The people lined up in the streets for the church services on Sunday morning and you could go out on Saturday night and feel the sense of God’s presence in the streets of Stockholm. I don’t know whether any nation has ever declined morally so rapidly as Sweden. I talked to a young Swedish journalist a couple of years ago who interviewed me. He was probably about thirty years old. When I told him my impressions of his own land when I first visited it before he was born, he really couldn’t believe me. I mean he didn’t question me but he said, I cannot believe that my own nation was ever like that.
And then, when I think of what’s happened to the British Empire. I come from a family of empire builders. Every male member of my family that I’ve ever known was an empire builder. The only problem today is there’s no empire to build. And when I think of the disintegration of the British Empire—and I’m not suggesting that was a historical disaster, believe me—but I’m just simply saying the amazingly rapid change, without defeat in war, between l948 and today in Britain. Who ever imagined that you would arrive at London airport and be greeted by signs in Arabic. It was so remote from the Britain that I knew before World WarII. I’m not suggesting that all these changes are necessarily harmful, I’m just pointing out that we live in a period of incessant violent, and I think, uncontrollable change. And I personally believe that the scene that’s depicted at the close of the book of Daniel, which I’m not going to speak about, but I’ll simply say that I believe that that scene could be a description of the world before the end of this present century. And so I want to suggest to you that the words I’M going to read are so very brief, are very relevant. Daniel 11:32:
“...those who do wickedly against the covenant, he [that’s the Antichrist] shall corrupt with flattery, but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (NKJ)
The phrase that I want to focus on is the people who know their God shall be strong. The New King James Version that I’m reading from says shall do great exploits. I think the New International Version says shall firmly resist him. The Hebrew simply says shall do. It’s like a blank check. You can write in anything. There’s nothing that the people who know their God will not be able to do. And I believe ultimately that’s the only secure source of strength and power that’s available to any of us. It’s the knowledge of God.
And as I travel around, and I travel very widely, and am in contact with Christians from almost every background right from the Roman Catholics through the other extreme, whatever that might be, if you want to call it Pentecostals. Although that’s like the circle going around and meeting itself again. But anyhow, my observation is that most of God’s people are interested in things and have relatively little time for God.
Now there are always outstanding exceptions to that statement. But basically you talk about power, people’s ears open. You talk about healing and they’ll come almost endlessly. You can talk about other dramatic aspects of Christian ministry and people are ready to listen. But I hear very, very little that’s really being taught about God himself. I want to suggest to you this evening that anything that is not rooted in God is going to be swept away by the floods of evil.
When I read the word power in the title for the seminar, I thought to myself the mere desire for power can be extraordinarily dangerous. I think it’s the psychoanalyst Jung who says the quest for power is the main motivation for human beings. I’m not saying that necessarily is exactly true, but there is something in almost every person, and it starts in early childhood, that wants power. I believe that’s placed in man by the Creator. Because man was created to rule. The problem with unregenerate, fallen man is he wants the power and he wants to rule without meeting the conditions. So tonight I want to speak about the knowledge of God. It’s a vast subject and I have to say I feel inadequate even to begin with it. But on the other hand, if I don’t begin I’ll never get any further.
So I would like to turn now to Exodus 19. And I’m going to read the first six verses. These verses are the message that God gave to Moses for the children of Israel after he had redeemed them from slavery in Egypt, brought them out by tremendous miracles and brought them to the foot of Mount Sinai where he proposed to enter into a covenant with them. And here God states rather succinctly the purpose of Israel’s redemption.
Now, as I read these verses, those of you who are familiar with the New Testament will recall that the same words are quoted by the apostle Peter in 1Peter 2:9 and are applied to all who believe in Jesus Christ. So that these words are not merely relevant to Israel after their redemption out of Egypt, but they are no less relevant to believing Christians today. And I’d like to suggest to you right at the outset that for the most part, God’s purposes for Israel as revealed here never were fulfilled. Some individuals, men like Daniel, grasped their calling. But I would say for the most part Israel never really discovered the purpose of their redemption. And since they did not do so, God simply restated the same purpose for the church of Jesus Christ. And I would offer this comment that sin and Satan can delay the outworking of God’s purposes but never ultimately prevent it. So if it doesn’t work the first time, God does not give up and say, well, Satan won that round. He simply waits until he finds a people who will do what he intends to get done. And I have come to this conviction that what God intends to be done will be done. The question is not whether it will be done. The question is who will do it? And I think for you and me the question is, will we find our destiny in God or will we make the same mistake that Israel made and never fully comprehend or work out the purpose of our redemption? Having said that, let me read these words.
“In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day they came to the wilderness of Sinai. For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the desert of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness, so Israel camped there before the mountain. And Moses went up to God and the Lord called to him from the mountain saying, Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the children of Israel: [this is a message now for the whole people of Israel from God himself through his mediator Moses.] You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (NKJV)
So there is an outline of what God intended to be Israel’s destiny.
I would like to look at the outline of what God says and then go back to the first point which I believe is the one that Israel missed. And I believe it’s the one that Christians today are in equal danger of missing. Going back to verse 4, you have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings. I think that’s the miraculous power of God displayed in Israel’s redemption, that’s the eagles’ wings. And brought you to myself.
Now that’s what I want to dwell on this evening. That God primarily redeemed Israel to bring them to himself.
Then he went on to outline the rest of his purpose. In the Hebrew language, that phrase to myself is just the shortest possible word, ?Leek?. And I think what has happened to the Jewish people is they’ve just missed out that word basically in reading. And I think though the phrase is longer in English, multitudes of Christians are in danger of doing the same thing. God’s primary purpose in redemption is always that, to bring his people to himself. Everything else is secondary.
God then went on to speak about his covenant. He went on to give them the law, he had given them the promise of a land to inherit. I find that the Jewish people then, and today to some extent, are excited about the law. Orthodox Jews, the one word that dominates all their thinking is the word Torah which is the word for law. They’re excited about a covenant to a certain extent, they’re definitely excited about the land, but I find few anywhere who are excited about God. See, it’s like people have bypassed God and gone for the product. But God himself they’re scarcely aware of in a way.
Let’s look at the purposes because we’ll come back to them tomorrow, God helping us. But tonight I want to focus on the primary purpose. But let’s look at what God said in verse 5 because these words are all basic to a relationship with God.
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant...” (NKJ)
Let’s not read further. I think that that’s the basic requirement of God with his redeemed people in every age, every dispensation. There are two things. If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant. I think if you read the book of Exodus and then also the book of Deuteronomy you will find almost without ceasing, God says this is what I want you to do: obey my voice.
If you come to that tremendous chapter of blessings and curses which is the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy. 68 verses. 14 verses of blessing and 54 verses of curses. You will find that the reason for blessing and cursing is very simple.
“If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you.” (NKJV)
What’s the condition? What’s the primary condition? Diligently listen to the voice of the Lord and then do what he says. Obviously listening to his voice is primary because if you don’t hear his voice you won’t know what he is telling you to do. But you have to listen with the attitude that you will obey what he tells you.
And what are the causes of the curses? If you read that list of curses which begins in verse 15 and goes on through verse 68, it is horrible. There is hardly anything unpleasant that isn’t in that list. Whether it’s spiritual or emotional or physical or relational or financial. What’s the reason? It’s very simple. If thou will not diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God and do what is right.
So really, in a sense, the destiny of each one of us is determined by that if. If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God and do. My observation is that most people who diligently hearken, do. The people who don’t do are the ones who don’t listen. That will determine your destiny. For every one of us here the basic course that our life will take is determined by this. If we will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord our God.
For how many of you is that somewhat new? You don’t have to raise your hand? But I want to suggest to you that continually in religion we tend to bypass the basic and deal with the secondary. My observation of religious people is—and it includes Christians, it’s not limited to Christians—is that they get so taken up with means that they lose sight of ends. Do you understand what I’m saying? You know what a means is. A means is something you do in order to achieve an end. But an end is something that’s worthwhile for its own sake.
Now I think many, many churches are so taken up with means that they’ve even forgotten what the ends are to which they’re designing to achieve. I find in the New Testament that there are two great ends. Things which are valuable for themselves. And it so happens in the English language each of them ends with the syllable ship. The first is fellowship, the second is worship. And I would suggest to you that all church activity that does not bring people into those two experiences, the fellowship and the worship, is basically vain. It’s wood, hay and stubble. And in the day of judgment it will be burned up.
Now you might say that that was the Old Covenant. But the New Covenant is just the same. Jesus summed up in John 10:27 as briefly as it’s possible to do who are the true Christians. And he didn’t name the Catholics, and he didn’t name the Protestants, he didn’t even name the Pentecostals. You know what he said? My sheep hear my voice and they follow me. That’s it. That’s the basic requirement for being a Christian. My sheep hear my voice and they follow me. In other words, hearing his voice and doing what he says. The picture is taken from an Oriental shepherd and as most of you are aware, an Oriental shepherd does not drive his sheep, he leads his sheep. And he leads them basically by the sound of his voice. They recognize his voice and where they hear his voice they go. So Jesus says if you want to be one of my sheep you’ve got to listen, recognize my voice and act on what I tell you.
See, I have spoken to large congregations where what I’m saying has come as a kind of surprise. Isn’t that strange? You see, it doesn’t say my sheep read the Bible. I mean, please understand I fully endorse reading the Bible and I read the Bible myself regularly. But it’s very possible to read the Bible without hearing the voice of the Lord. It’s good but it’s not sufficient. My sheep hear my voice. What is that? It’s a personal relationship. There’s nothing more distinctive in a personality than the voice. When my wife phones me if we’re separate, as soon as I hear the voice I know who it is. Why? Because I know my wife. If you know a person, almost invariably you know that person’s voice. If you don’t recognize the voice it’s questionable whether you really know the person. See, what I’m talking about is a personal relationship with the Lord.
Let’s come back here. If you will indeed obey my voice. If I remember rightly, the Hebrew says it this way, and it certainly does in Deuteronomy 28 and also in Exodus 15:26. You know that great healing covenant? I am the Lord your doctor. I am the Lord that healeth thee? You’re familiar with Exodus 15:26? You know the first condition for having the Lord as your doctor? If thou will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God and do it.
Now I think personally anybody who turns down the offer of the Lord’s services as a personal physician is unwise. He made himself available, Israel didn’t ask for it. It was a sovereign revelation of God. If you’ll do this I’ll be your doctor. And the first requirement is if you will listen, listening to the voice of the Lord your God.
And I’ve studied the theme of healing in the Bible. I had to study it because I was sick in the hospital and the doctors were not able to heal me and I had just come to faith in the Lord Jesus. I realized if I was to get out of the hospital it would have to be God’s doing. So I did certain simple things. I think they’re recorded in this, I’m not sure. I decided to read through the Bible and underline in blue everything related to four things. The whole Bible. Healing, health, physical strength and long life. It took me several months but at the end, do you know what I had? A blue Bible. And the one thing that was impressed more than anything else is healing depends on listening to God. See, we’re going to have healing services in the other auditorium. I just want to say that, and I might as well say it now, I have come to the conclusion that most Christians come to a healing service, they don’t analyze it, but what they’re asking for is a little patch of God’s supernatural blessing on the old clothes of their own walk. And God says nobody puts the patch of new material on an old garment. Most people are not prepared to revolutionize their walk. But if you listen to the Lord you know what will happen? Your life will be revolutionized. I could spend all this evening dealing with the blessings that result from listening to the voice of the Lord. But I began by saying that the Hebrew says that if you will listen listening. The most emphatic way you can say something in Hebrew with a verb is to double the verb. So if you will listen listening.
Now as I lay in my hospital bed and pondered on this fact I said to myself what does it mean to listen listening? And I felt the Lord gave me this answer. You have two ears, a right ear and a left ear. To listen listening is to listen to me with your right ear and your left ear. Not listen to me with your right ear and something else with your left ear. Faith comes by hearing, you know that.
I’ll tell you something else that comes by hearing. Unbelief. Jesus said take heed what you hear and take heed how you hear it. I just have to say frankly the church would be revolutionized, it would become a spiritual dynamo is Christians would reverse the amount of time they spend on two things: watching television and reading their Bible. Just switch them, that’s all. Give as much time to your Bible as you give to the television and as much time to the television as you give to your Bible and you will turn the earth upside down. See, I am very, very careful what I listen to. I have a mind that was highly trained and I never willingly let into it anything that is going to undermine my walk with God. And basically I follow Corrie Ten Boom’s motto which you’ve probably heard: K-I-S-S, Keep It Simple Stupid! I am not interested in complications. I am not interested in being profound. I just want to be understood. Sometimes people come to me and say, Brother Prince, that was a deep message. I say, Lord, what did I do wrong now? When we can learn to swim let’s begin to be deep, but most of us at the present moment would be out of our depth. We’d drown if we got into the depth.
All right, let’s go back to this. Exodus 19:5:
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant...” (NKJ)
The other great basic requirement of God is to keep his covenant. You may not be aware, but in both Hebrew in the Old Testament and Greek in the New, the same original word that’s translated covenant is translated testament. It’s not two different words. It’s the same word. In Hebrew, ?Bereet? and in Greek ?Disteeky?. So when we read the Old Testament and the New Testament we need to bear in mind that we’re reading the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. And this brings out the very significant fact that the whole of God’s word comes to us in the form of two covenants. Everything God says to man comes within the scope of covenant. That’s why I believe this little book of mine is significant because it brings out the real basic nature and requirements of covenant. And marriage by God is designed to be a covenant between a man, woman and God. And where this is not understood, marriage almost invariably disintegrates. That’s the reason for fifty percent divorce rate in the United States. Soaring divorce rate in most other western nations is men and women have lost the concept of marriage as a covenant. And until that concept is restored, marriages will continue to break down even in the Christian church. Do you know that in America the tragic thing is the divorce rate inside the quote, believing Christian church is almost the same as it is outside. See, it’s not a question of whether you belong to a church or not. The question is are you meeting God’s conditions? God doesn’t have any favorites. He doesn’t favor the Protestants at the expense of the Catholics or vice versa. God blesses those who hear his voice and keep his covenant. God never enters into a permanent relationship with anybody in any period of history except on the basis of a covenant. The moment God intends to have an enduring, permanent relationship he establishes a covenant. It determines the basis of the relationship, the responsibilities on either side. God’s side and man’s side. Those are set up like a legal document in the form of a covenant.
Secondly, a covenant is always based on a sacrifice. I made this discovery in a remarkable way which I could relate because I can take no credit for it. During the closing years of World War II when I was in the Middle East in what was then Palestine, I decided to teach myself Hebrew. And the way I decided to do it was get hold of a Hebrew Bible, a Hebrew grammar and read the Bible in Hebrew with the English version side by side. I naturally started where everybody will start, in Genesis. And for some reason, I’m a believer—or I was at that time, I don’t do it so often now, but I still think it’s a very good practice—in underlining certain themes in certain colors. How this came about I will never know. I think the Holy Spirit must have inspired me. I decided to underline three themes. Covenant, sacrifice and shedding of blood. I do not know why. I think covenant was blue, sacrifice was green, shedding of blood was red. And I wasn’t more than halfway through the book of Genesis when I made this discovery; every time you have a covenant you must have a sacrifice. And every time you have a sacrifice there must be the shedding of blood. And that is a great basic truth which if you can grasp it, will help you to enter into a relationship with God.
Now the sacrifice means a life laid down. And the shed blood is the outward evidence of the life laid down. See, that’s the essence of what marriage is. Christian marriage. It’s two people who have entered into a covenant through sacrifice. Each laying down his life or her life for the other. Each finding his fulfillment and achievement in the life of the other. See, the Bible says in the New Testament, the woman is the glory of the man. In other words if you want to know how successful a Christian man is, look at his wife. That will tell you. Because she’s his glory. And if you look in the Old Testament in Proverbs 31, it’s the successful woman, the virtuous woman, a woman of success it says in Hebrew, you’ll find the list of her accomplishments begins and centers on and concludes with her husband. Her husband is known in the gate when he sits among the elders of the land. See the significance of that? He is his wife’s achievement. He is known because of her.
But going beyond that, wherever you have permanent relationships there must be a covenant, there must be a life laid down. You see, the body of Christ is united in a covenant made through the blood of Jesus. And if he laid his life down for us, John says, then we ought also to lay down our lives for one another. The church flounders when it’s made up of people who do not lay down their lives for one another. You can have all the principles of church leadership and church government and church discipline. But if it consists of people who have not laid down their lives, those principles will not work. I don’t think really we need better principles. I think we need better people.
In l963 I encountered Watchman Nee’s book, The Normal Christian Church Life. It made a deep impact on me. So I decided here goes, I’m going to discover the outline of the perfect church. Of course, you know the problem would have been if I discovered it, I couldn’t have joined it because it wouldn’t have been perfect after I joined it. I told people if you’re looking for the perfect church, give up. Because if you find it you can’t join it, you’ll spoil it! However, I really came to some basic conclusions which I still believe today. And then I thought, well here goes, now we got the blueprint, let’s build it. Do you know what I discovered? The problem is the material. You see, if the architect designs this building to be built with reinforced concrete and all you had is timber, you cannot build the building. Our problem is not the blueprint, it’s the material. And I’ll tell you the one key requirement. You’ll find it at the beginning of Ephesians 4 which is the body building chapter with all these great ministries; apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. I can run that list off in my sleep.
But how many of us have missed the first two verses? What’s the emphasis? Humility. You cannot build a church without humble people. And you know what knowledge does? Does it make people humble? What does it do to people. Puffs them up, doesn’t it? See, that’s the disaster of seminaries if I may say so. Honestly I’m not anti anything but seminaries are the greatest single curse of the church today. They are training more servants of Antichrist than anything except the communist movement itself. Now this is not true of all seminaries. But it’s true of most. You see, the problem is if you just take young men or even young women and you put into their heads a lot of theological information, the more knowledge you give them the more you are puffing them up. So they emerge without any practical experience thinking they know all the answers. And most of them are never willing to be confronted with the fact that they don’t know the basics. Now that wasn’t in my outline but it happens to be true.
Let me say this in case I offended anybody. I think if you really view the major problems of the Christian church today most of them can be traced to the new theology that emanated in Germany toward the end of the last century. It has now basically corrupted almost the whole professing church. Personally I believe that’s the curse on Germany that produced Adolf Hitler. I believe it’s the rejection of Biblical truths that opened the way for the spirit of Antichrist to rise up Adolf Hitler. And I believe furthermore that wherever the church rejects the truth, and rejects the Holy Spirit which the church in Germany did officially with a document signed by pastors in l910, the inevitable result will be that the next most powerful force in the world will move in. Which is? The spirit of Antichrist. And basically that’s the history of Russia and most of Europe today.
Well anyhow let’s come back to this. If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant. That’s the basic requirement. Now, the essence of covenant is not theological knowledge. It’s loyalty. That’s the key word. The evangelical church has, I think, unintentionally completely misrepresented what it is to believe in Jesus Christ. Believing has become the acceptance of a theological system or a set of doctrines. I cannot go into this in detail because it involves a knowledge of the original languages. But I want to say emphatically both in Hebrew and in Greek, the Old Testament and the New, the basic word for a believer describes character, not intellect. And if you’re to sum it up in one word, it’s loyal. A faithful person is a loyal person. The just shall live by his loyalty to God in the midst of all the disasters that are described in the book of Habakkuk, the just will live because of his commitment to God. A disloyal person is not a believer in terms of the Bible. And God requires first and foremost loyalty to him and second, loyalty to his covenant people. When we take the communion service or the Eucharist, or breaking of bread or whatever you want to call it, by that act we are committing ourselves to be loyal to the Body of Christ. And it is a terrible sin to walk out of a communion service and start to speak against the very people that you’ve broken bread with.
There’s a book, Oh, Jerusalem. How many of you have ever read it? Anybody have? It’s rather a good book written by two journalists. It’s a description of what happened in Jerusalem in the period when the state of Israel was born in l947–’48. I was an eyewitness of much of that and I can vouch for the fact that the book is basically very accurate. But in chapter 29 it describes something that took place at the place called ?Espion? which was a Jewish settlement south of Jerusalem which was overrun by Arab forces. The Arab Legion of Jordan.
Most of the Jewish defenders were killed and just a handful survived of whom one was a young Polish Jewess. And when the Arab soldiers captured her—now I’m not saying this as a statement of anti-Arab sentiment because this is the normal procedure in the Middle East. They were proposing to do what was natural, which was rape her. So they caught hold of her and began to tear her clothes off and an amazing thing happened. The Arab officer in command walked up to them, drew his revolver, shot them both dead and then pulled a piece of bread out of his pocket, handed it to the Jewess and said. “Eat this.” And she ate it in the presence of the people. He said, “Now you’re safe. No one will touch you. You have broken bread with me.”
Now he was a Moslem without a doubt but I just thought to myself when I read that incident, if only Christians understood as much as Moslems do about what it means to break bread. You understand? Breaking bread is the outward evidence of the covenant that you have with God and with his people. And when you break bread with people and go out afterwards and you’re disloyal to them you’re a covenant breaker. And there is nothing more serious in the Bible than to be a covenant breaker. God says if you’ll keep my covenant. It’s not really theology. I agree there’s an element of theology. It’s loyalty. Personal loyalty to God.
Then my plan will be fulfilled. What is his plan? His plan is, and let’s read it again. Verse 5–6:
“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice [the indeed is there to represent the repetition of the verb. If you will listen listening.] and keep my covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to me above all people. For all the earth is mine and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” (NKJ)
There are three aspects of that promise. You will be a special people. You will be a kingdom of priests. And you will be a holy nation. That’s God’s purpose for Israel but it’s based on their relationship to him. And you see, I think the reason that both Israel and the church have so often failed to achieve their destiny is the fact that they have not fulfilled the primary condition.
Let’s look for a moment in 1Peter 2. I want you to see that God’s purpose has not changed. He’s just looking for a people that will fulfill it. 1Peter 2:5 and 9. I’m not going to dwell on these now, I just want to direct your attention to the fact that God’s purpose hasn’t changed.
“You also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. [and then verse 9:] But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood [that’s a kingdom of priests] a holy nation, his own special people.” (NKJ)
Every one of those promises is restated in 1 Peter 2:5 and 9 which bears out my point that God never gives up on his purposes. He’s prepared to wait but he’s not prepared to acknowledge defeat. He’ll wait thousands of years. I’m so convinced of that in my observations both in my own life and the lives of others. If God says he’s going to do something you can be absolutely sure of one thing: he will do it. And in a certain sense, as my friend Bob Mumford says, God has got a bulldozer. And when God turns his bulldozer loose, anything that stands in its way is going to be razed. No matter what it is. God is very merciful and very gracious, but he’s also very ruthless. And if he says he’s going to do something, you can count on one thing. He’ll do it. It’s better to go all the way with a bulldozer because you can’t stop it and you can’t turn it aside.
Now let’s go back, we have a little while longer in this session. Let’s go back to Exodus 19 and look at verse 4.
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself.”
That’s God’s primary objective. Before any of the further statements of condition and promises he says I brought you to myself. And I have often thought that there’s a kind of passoff or tragedy in those words. I brought you to myself. Because I think the majority of God’s people, whether Jewish or Christian, have never really seen that. That God’s primary desire is not to bring us into a covenant or into a law or into a promised land. But it’s to bring us to himself. That’s his deepest longing. And his firmest purpose. And I want to suggest to you that it’s the only place of safety in the contemporary world, it’s to have that deep, intimate, personal relationship with the Lord himself.
The world is riddled today with cults. And I think the essence of a cult when you boil it down is that it bypasses that personal relationship with the Lord and gets you off on some secondary issue. You can listen to people who have been or who are in cults, Christian cults, and you’ll find that they can quote scripture better than you can. And they’ve got some particular axe to grind. And no matter what you start to talk about you always come back to that particular subject. Let me say frankly I respect Seventh Day Adventists, but you can start talking to a Seventh Day Adventist about anything you like and you’ll end up talking about the sabbath. Well God didn’t say that I may bring you to the sabbath. He said that I may bring you to myself.
Now there are many fine, believing, godly Seventh Day Adventists. But in my opinion, like many other groups in the church, many of them have missed the primary purpose which is . . . You know, when you have God you really don’t need much more. I’ve been associated with people whose attitude always was God plus something will do the job. Different groups have different somethings. My comment is God will do the job. Never mind about the something. The New Testament says of Jesus Christ, “in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead in orderly form. And you are complete in him who is the head of all principality and power. And you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands”. If you ever run into people who are having a problem with cults, go to Colossians because that’s the final answer. When you have read the revelation of Jesus Christ contained in Colossians, it is absolutely ridiculous to put him on the same level with Buddha or Socrates or Martin Luther King or any other person. It may be before we close tonight that we’ll look at that revelation.
But I want to emphasize at this point here tonight that if you bypassed God you’ve missed it all. If you’re just interested in doctrine or church structure or even missions, but you’re not wrapped up in God, you’re missing it. God will bless you, he’ll help you, he’ll do what he can for you. But I believe if you could hear what’s going on in heaven you’d hear a deep sob in the heart of God. They want everything I have to offer but they’re not interested in me.
I want to say tonight to the best of my understanding, I am interested in God. I was a philosopher, a professional philosopher. And I looked here and looked there and looked everywhere for the answer to life’s problems. I looked in Christianity as it was presented to me and I concluded that Christianity did not have the answer. I was perfectly right, it didn’t. I turned to Greek philosophy, I turned to Yoga, I turned to all sorts of ridiculous things. And then one night in l941 in an Army barrack room somewhere about midnight when no one else was awake, I had a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. And in that encounter I discovered I had met the answer. And then a little later I read in Colossians concerning Jesus Christ, in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And I said to myself why should I grub around any longer in the rubbish bins of human wisdom when all the treasures are hidden in Jesus Christ. And I made a decision at that time in my life the Bible is the book with the answer and I want to find in it what God has in Jesus Christ. Sometimes I’ve strayed, sometimes I’ve become deflected and diverted. But I think tonight I can say to you all I am back on track. Jesus is Alpha and Omega. The beginning and the ending. The first and the last. The author and the finisher of our faith. We are complete in him. If you ever start to look outside Christ you’ll find all sorts of interesting, stimulating theories, presentations, but you’ll be feeding on the husks when you could be living on the Father’s bread.
I want to say this carefully. If there are Christians here tonight who are disposed to study philosophy, I’m not saying don’t do it, but I’m saying check your motives. What is it you’re looking for? Because as far as I’m concerned, everything I tried to find in philosophy I found in Jesus Christ.
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