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Tape No. B-4082Page
I want to open at one of the less read books of the Old Testament, the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3. This is one of my favorite passages in all the Bible. To me there is such tremendous and abiding truth and wisdom in this passage. It speaks about times and seasons. The Bible has a great deal to say about times and seasons. In the New Testament Paul writes to the Thessalonian believers and he says if you are children of the light and walking in the light you should not be ignorant of the times and the seasons. Earlier on in the New Testament we read how Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they could discern the signs of heaven but they could not discern the signs of the times. So, it is clearly a spiritual responsibility placed upon the people of God to understand the times and the seasons.
With that thought in mind let me read the first 8 verses of Ecclesiastes 3.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens.
That embraces everything. Anything we do has a time and a season to it. And now in the following verses Solomon lists 14 pairs of opposites. Solomon says for each one of these opposites there’s an appropriate time or season. It’s very obvious that we need to know because they’re opposites. As I read these I want you to be thinking about them and particularly applying them to your own life. I believe we must have a number of men here who are in business. You don’t need to raise your hand. I think you’ll see that this is very sound business advice.
Before I came to the United States I was totally innocent and ignorant of anything to do with business. As a matter of fact, my spiritual attitude was business was for crooks and sinners, saints had better stay away from it. The Lord has adjusted my thinking and I am now in business myself, amongst other things. It’s been one of the most exciting experiences of my life to get a little window into the world of business. I’ve learned many, many lessons which are extremely profitable in the spiritual realm. If you are in any way involved in business I want to suggest to you here is an absolute fountain of wisdom.
A time to be born, and a time to die...
That’s one pair that’s not normally under our control.
...a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted...
That applies to farmers and others.
...a time to kill, and a time to heal...
Let me point out to you, and I’m going to take my liberty to interject here, there’s a great deal in the Bible about a time of healing. One of the things I’ve learned in the healing ministry is there is a time of healing. We just can’t turn God’s healing power on to order. There are times when God sovereignly begins to heal and we better adjust to that time. Often I think we miss it because our schedule doesn’t coincide with God, and when we’ve got healing scheduled it isn’t God’s time to heal. The adjustment is going to have to be made by us because God is not going to adjust.
...a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up...
That refers to the construction industry amongst others.
...a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...
That applies to all human life. There’s none of us here that hasn’t both wept and laughed, there’s none of us here that haven’t mourned, and I hope there’s none of us here that haven’t danced.
...a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sow; a time to keep silent, and a time to speak...
How vital those two are. How often we get into trouble by speaking when we should keep silent. There’s a time to speak and a time to keep silent.
...a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Now I believe to a very large extent success in life depends on doing the right thing at the right time. We cannot say of any of those fourteen things it’s always right to do them. It’s not always right to love, it’s not always right to speak, it’s not always right to sow, it’s not always right to build up, it’s not always right to embrace.
How are we going to know when it’s right to do a certain thing? How are we going to know what to do at a certain time? I believe the answer to that question will largely determine whether you succeed or fail in life. I think this is one of the crucial issues of life.
Time, in a certain sense, is a mystery. In the book of Revelation it says “the mystery which God has created shall be completed, there will be time no longer.” One of the fascinating discoveries of modern physics is that time is really a mystery. Who holds the key to that mystery? Who shows us what to do at what time? I believe there’s an absolutely specific answer to that question, it’s not vague. There’s a certain person who has the answer. Whom do you think I have in mind? The Holy Spirit, that’s right. That’s why there’s nothing we can do that works without the Holy Spirit. My view of church history is that for about nineteen centuries men have tried to find a system that would work without the Holy Spirit and they never have come up with one. There are plenty of people coming up with systems in our time but there is no system, no set of rules, that will work without the Holy Spirit.
Let me say frankly I believe in discipleship, I believe it’s a scriptural principle. But, if you make it a system and a set of rules it will work no better than any of the other religious systems and sets of rules which have gone before; it will not operate without the sovereign direction of the Holy Spirit. There is nothing in the Christian life that will operate without the Holy Spirit.
Probably the biggest mistake of earnest Christians is trying to make it through without the Holy Spirit. God forgives us but He never prospers us. I want to tell you that the Father and the Son are both jealous of the reputation of the Holy Spirit. He never speaks of Himself, He never pleads for Himself, but if you want to be blessed of the Father and the Son, you better make friends with the Holy Spirit.
Let me point out to you, this is not my theme, that the Holy Spirit is the administrator of the entire wealth of God’s kingdom. He’s the steward. Everything that God has available is ours in Christ because we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, but the administrator of the inheritance is the Holy Spirit.
Now I’m going to turn to another passage. You may wonder why I’ve turned there. I’m going to turn to the book of Zechariah. If you need any help, in the last four books of the Old Testament they rhyme like this: Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. So we’re looking for the last book but one of the Old Testament, chapter 4—not a long chapter, I’m going to read it all. Zechariah 4, this is a vision that the prophet Zechariah had. A good part of Zechariah is visions and many of them appear again slightly modified in the book of Revelation. In my opinion, one key to understanding Revelation is being familiar with the prophecies of Daniel and Zechariah because they are brought up again in Revelation.
The angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and said unto me, ‘What seest thou?’ I said, ‘I have looked, and behold a candlestick [or a lampstand] all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and the seven lamps [or candles] thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereon: And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.’ So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, ‘What are these, my lord?’ And the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, ‘Knowest thou not what these be?’ And I said, ‘No, my lord.’”
Now the angel does not immediately tell him what they are but he does at the end of the chapter. That’s why we have to read through the chapter. The angel is answering the question about what are these two olive trees. And before he gives the answer he establishes a principle. The principle is right in line with that which we deduced from Ecclesiastes 3.
“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, ‘This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, “Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”’”
So the principle is whatever God is going to do He’s going to do not by might — the Hebrew word is army. God is not going to use military might, nor by power, nor by force, but He’s going to do it by His Spirit.
And then He’s called the Lord of hosts but in Hebrew it’s the Lord of armies. It’s the same word which says not by armies. So what God is saying is although I’ve got all the armies at my disposal I’m not going to use them. They won’t accomplish what I want done. But I’m going to accomplish by the Spirit of the Lord.
I think we always need to remember that. Ultimately the only enduring results in the kingdom of God are achieved by the Spirit of the Lord.
Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain...
Now it’s clear from the context that what’s going to level the mountain is not an army, nor a bulldozer, but the Holy Spirit.
...and He shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shouting, crying, “Grace, grace unto it.”
We’re speaking about the rebuilding of the second temple of which Zerubbabel was the civil governor. Verse 8:
Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands also shall finish it; and thou shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you.”
Bear in mind that this is all a prophetic picture of the building of the latter house, the church of the Lord. Verse 10:
“For who hath despised the day of small things? For they shall rejoice, and see the plummet in the hands of Zerubbabel with those seven...”
Again, that’s another picture of the Holy Spirit.
“...they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”
Now, Zechariah comes back to his question about the vision.
Then answered I, and said unto him, “What are these two olives trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?” I answered again, and said unto him, “What be these two olive branches which through the golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?” And he answered me and said, “Knowest thou not what these be?” And I said, “No, my lord.” “Then,” said he, “these are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”
I want to offer you an interpretation of that vision. It’s not necessarily the only interpretation but I believe a legitimate one. All through the Bible normally the candlestick typifies the church. This is a basic principle of biblical interpretation. So we have here a picture of the seven branched candlestick which again is carried over in Revelation. In the first chapter Jesus stands in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. On either side of the candlestick are two olive trees and there are golden pipes somehow attached to the olive trees that are piping olive oil out of the tree into the bowl that stands on the top of the candlestick. And then there are individual pipes that lead the olive oil down to each of the seven lamps on the sevenfold lampstand. Bear in mind that olive oil, again without any controversy, is almost invariably a type of the Holy Spirit. So we see that the function of the church is to give light. Jesus said ye are the light of the world. But the candlestick is so arranged that it cannot give light without the olive oil which tells us that the church cannot give light, cannot be what God intends or fulfill its function without the Holy Spirit.
But the particular feature of this vision that’s unusual is the way the olive oil is supplied to the candlestick. It comes direct from two olive trees that stand on either side of the candlestick which is kind of circumventing the natural process of gathering the olives from the trees, tramping them out and squeezing the oil out, et cetera. I think the real focus of the vision is on the olive trees. That’s the ultimate question, “What are the olive trees?” The answer is these are the two anointed ones, the Hebrew says sons of oil, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. And again, this is carried forward in Revelation 11 where the two witnesses are described as the two olive trees. The two witnesses are called prophets. I believe that these olive trees represent the prophetic ministry and its input into the church. I don’t believe that’s confined merely to a single fulfillment in the book of Revelation, I believe it’s a principle that all through the church must receive fresh olive oil. I think the emphasis is on the freshness, that’s why it comes straight out of the trees. Without that fresh olive oil the church cannot function the way it’s intended. I believe that to be true. In the book of Proverbs it says where there is no vision—and the word means prophetic vision—the people perish. Bear in mind religion will not keep us going. Religion will keep something going but not the purposes of God. It is not enough to have religion.
There’s a very clear example of this in the days of Eli, before Samuel came on the scene. It says at that time there was no open vision. God’s people were without immediate, fresh, up-to-date prophetic revelation. They had religion, they had the priesthood, they had the sacrifices, they had the tabernacle, they had the Law, they had everything. But that did not keep the whole nation from backsliding and going into tremendous defeat and decline. Where there is no vision the people perish. In other words, the candlestick has got to have the fresh oil continually flowing into it. And that, I believe, comes from the prophetic ministry. Without that ministry the church cannot function as God intended.
Now let me say something which I hope you can rightly receive. I believe that the function that Don and I have in this conference is to pipe the fresh oil into the lampstand. If you want to say that’s the prophetic ministry, I will not say no. I don’t believe the church can function without it. The prophetic ministry is not just standing up and saying, “Thus saith the Lord...” It’s supplying the church with absolutely fresh oil. It’s a completely up-to-date understanding of what God is about now. It’s the answer to the question, “What should we do at this time? Should we build? Should we break down? Should we sow? Should we rend? Should we plant? Should we pluck up that which is planted? Should we mourn? Should we dance? What are we to do?” God has so organized it that we will not know without the prophetic ministry. There is no substitute for it. These are the two olive trees that stand by the Lord of the whole earth. The ultimate definition of the prophetic ministry is the one who stands in the presence of the Lord, hears His word and delivers it. One of the big problems of the church, and it includes the Charismatic movement, is living on stale oil. God never designed it that way. God is moving with such rapidity in the earth at this time that what was current five years ago is absolutely out of date today. If you look at the Charismatic movement you can see many people still doing what they were doing five years ago. Five years ago it was right, today it is wrong. There are people who found a, quote, success formula and they just keep doing it. But what brought success in the ‘60s brings death in the ‘70s. And what brings life in the ‘70s may well bring death in the ‘80s. We have to keep abreast of what God is saying to His people right now.
All right, let me show you another passage in these minor prophets. Turn back to Haggai, which is the next one, and let me read a little there. We’ll read the first 14 verses. Bear in mind that Haggai and Zechariah were the two main prophets in the time of the restoration of the Jews from Babylon and the rebuilding of the temple. Zerubbabel was the governor and Joshua was the high priest. You need to get those three personalities fixed in your mind. Zerubbabel the governor, Joshua the high priest, Haggai and Zechariah the prophets. Now let’s look, Haggai 1:
In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest, saying...
Notice Haggai, Zerubbabel and Joshua.
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, “This people say, the time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house shall be built.”
Notice it’s all a question of what is the right time.
Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house [the temple] to lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.”
And God points out how He’s dealt with His people. And essentially He’s dealt with them in the area of business. All their business enterprises have failed. You know that God often reaches us through economics, did you know that? When your income dries up and you’re in debt, somehow some people find it easier to hear God.
“...consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but you are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.”
Just as a matter of interest, how many of you have ever been in that place where your wages went into a bag with holes? Did you realize God was trying to get a message to you? It’s God’s dealings. Why? Because you didn’t know the time.
“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified. You look for much, and it came to little; and when you brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and you run every man into his own house [because they didn’t know the time, the time to build the Lord’s house]. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, upon the corn, and upon the new wine, upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labor of the hands.”
Now the people received the message from Haggai, changed their ways and began to prosper.
“Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord.”
Would God that all God’s people would respond like that to the word of the prophet.
Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, “I am with you, saith the Lord.” And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God on the four and twentieth day of the sixth month in the second year of Darius the king.
And that changed the destiny of all God’s people. From that time onwards when they began to do what God required them to do they began to prosper in all their ways.
I want you to see the three ministries that are particularly associated with the process of rebuilding or restoration. I believe that’s the particular process that we are involved in today. We are involved in the restoration or the rebuilding of the house of the Lord which is the church of the living God. I think it’s important to see these three ministries. There’s the ministry of government represented by Zerubbabel, there’s the priestly ministry represented by Joshua, there’s the prophetic ministry represented by Haggai or Zechariah. I want to suggest to you that we will never be successful in the work of restoration until we have all three ministries in operation: government, the priestly ministry which is primarily intercession, and the prophetic ministry which channels the fresh oil into the candlestick.
Also note just as a matter of interest that in every home God has set those three ministries in one person, the father. The father is the governor, the priest and the prophet of his home. I believe, actually, that if your eyes are open to see this principle you’ll see that wherever God builds there’ll be the government, the priestly ministry and the prophetic ministry. I do not believe you can take away any of those ministries and have the process of building successful.
Now let me just show you a word in 2Chronicles 20, without going into it in any detail. This is in the midst of a tremendous crisis. The people of Judah are being invaded by an army that is much stronger and larger than theirs. There is no hope of (unintelligible) merely through normal military means. They’ve all gathered together and they’re praying and fasting. There comes a prophetic word. We’ll read only this part of it in 2Chronicles 20:14.
“Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the spirit of the Lord in the midst of the congregation; and he said, ‘Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou King Jehoshaphat. Thus saith the Lord unto you, be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of the great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
Now I want you to know that he supplies the timing. Here again is the vital issue, what to do and when to do it.
“Tomorrow go ye down against them; behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle; set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them; for the Lord shall be with you.” And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground; and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.
I want to say one thing about a prophetic utterance. When it is really given by the Holy Spirit it will always produce an impact and it will always produce life. It will always flow in the direction of the will of God. Many times we have prophecies which are not unscriptural, they’re valid but they’re not the now word for this situation. They are somehow dead. One of the best ways to recognize the correct operation of the prophetic gift is that it will bring life. It will cause people to flow in the line of God’s purposes and it will nearly always bring forth worship. Note that all the people immediately responded with worship. Jehoshaphat bowed his head, all the people fell on their faces before the Lord.
And then it says in verse 19:
The Levites, of the children of the Kohathites, and the children of Korhites, stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with a loud voice on high. They rose up early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat [the king] stood and said...
And you notice we have the kingly ministry, the priestly ministry and the prophetic ministry? The king is Jehoshaphat, the prophetic ministry comes through Jahaziel, the priestly ministry comes through the Levites. Notice the three ministries there. This is the scripture that I want to give you and close with in this particular section here. Verse 20:
They rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, `Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
Now I believe that is the key to prosper. Believing in the Lord and believing his prophets.
Believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.
Why? Because the prophets will show you what to do at the given time and in the given situation. That is really, in essence, the nature of the prophetic ministry in a practical way. We cannot do without it.
Now I want to say two more main thoughts and I’ve got to try and squeeze them in quickly. I want to turn to Ephesians. I’ve owned two Bibles in the last few years, first of all I owned my own and then when the Lord called my wife home to glory I thought the best use I could put her Bible to is to preach from it. So I’ve owned two identical Bibles, the only difference being the name on the cover. In each of those Bibles if you look for the most worn passage it will be the epistle to the Ephesians. It seems to me at this time that here is one main area of truth which the Holy Spirit is emphasizing, is the truth unfolded in Ephesians. I don’t want to go into this at length, I just want to extract a principle and then give an application and I’ll be finished.
For He [Jesus Christ] is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and came and preached peach to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
You probably noticed that the word one occurs four times in those verses and I deliberately emphasized them. This is what I want to emphasize at this moment and I want to pick out particularly the phrase in verse 15, the purpose of God through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross is to make in Himself of twain, two. And Paul has primarily in mind Jew and Gentile, one new man.”
Now, the thought that I want to impart to you is that God’s purpose has never to been to make a lot of new men. We’ve often misconceived it. God’s purpose is to produce one new man. All the emphasis is on the word one. I believe we’ve come to the place where anyone who does not see that is not going to flow fully with the purposes of God. God is not aiming at producing a lot of new people, He’s aiming at producing one new man, the collective body of Christ. It’s one body. That’s the ultimate of God’s purpose with the church, it’s where the main emphasis of His activity is at t his time. And, only if we see that will we flow in line with it.
I do not need to say, I think, that the biggest, single problem of the Protestant section of the church is excessive individualism. We have completely distorted the gospel. I don’t want to take time but our presentation of the gospel is not in line with scripture. It’s excessively individualistic. I would say the problem with the Catholic section of the church is probably the opposite but I’m not talking to them. When I do talk to Catholics I use very different language because the errors that need to be corrected with them are totally different. But I don’t have any question in my mind that the essential error of Protestantism is rampant individualism. We have to face the fact that in the Protestant reformation there were the seeds of division. Consequently, the Protestant church has gone on dividing ever since. Usually those groups that consider themselves most Orthodox and most spiritual are the ones that divide most often. How many Churches of God do we have? Church of God, Church of God of Prophecy, Church of God of Prophecy in Christ, and so on almost endlessly. All because they’re so Orthodox. But they have failed to see the basic error is a seed that was planted which is not the seed of God at all. It’s a seed of aggressive, self seeking individualism.
Now let’s go on to Ephesians 4 and again we’ll see the same truth. Ephesians 4:11:
And He [that is the risen, exalted Christ] gave some, apostles; some, prophets; some, evangelists; some, pastors and teachers...
Now this passage deals with the building of the church, the body of Christ. And when Christ set that process in motion, the first thing He did was to give men. Somebody said God uses men, not methods. That is perhaps a little bit of an overstatement but I’ll rephrase it this way, God’s methods will not work without the right men. There is no right way to get this job done without those men. That’s one of the great frustrations historically of the church; for many generations we’ve talked about building the church, we have not given consideration to whether we have the men available.
I think I can freely say this as a rather interesting sideline. Most of you have heard of The Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. You will recognize, I think, that it was quite certainly founded by two men, Steve Clark and Ralph Martin. I was with Steve Clark in Germany earlier this year, we were talking about spiritual things. I was talking about the emphasis that God has placed on the men to get the job done. I said to Steve, “Frankly, it’s my opinion without you The Word of God Community would never have come into being.” I didn’t expect him to agree but he said, “I have no trouble in accepting that.”
If you want to look at that community, and I’m not in any way saying it’s the perfect pattern of everything that should be—it’s certainly a challenge to most—you’ll find there very, very clearly the two basic ministries, Steve Clark the apostle and Ralph Martin the prophet. Then Steve went on to say, “We do not seek to build communities anywhere unless we believe God has given us the men to do it.” Coming from a Catholic that was rather revolutionary, wasn’t it?
I believe that’s absolutely true. I believe you can never build what God intends to be built without the men that God gave to do it. It’s absolutely a waste of effort to try.
Now, what were these ministries given for? I want you to see.
...for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying [or building up] of the body of Christ; till we all come into the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ...
Notice we are not growing up to be perfect men. God is building one man, one new man. What God is waiting for is that one new man to be two things, mature [fully grown] and complete. Those are the two objectives that God has. Notice you can have one without the other. You can have a complete body without any organs missing but it may not be fully grown. Or, you can have a fully grown body but it may have some organs missing. It may have a toe missing or a finger. But the body that God is building is going to be both complete and mature. It’s going to be one, new, mature, complete man. Okay? Not a lot of men but one man.
Now, I want to suggest to you that when this one man emerges on the scene of human history, properly equipped with all the ministries and all the gifts, Christ will be once again revealed in flesh. This one man, this corporate man, will do everything that Jesus ever did except for the atonement. That’s what the world is waiting to see and God is waiting to bring forth.
I do not believe that the judgment of God will finally fall on this earth until this earth has had a demonstration of Christ in His body to every nation. Then they will not be able to say, “Your judgment is not just, we never had opportunity to know the truth.”
Now, in the light of that I want to read one more scripture which will surprise you. It’s one of my favorites. It’s in 3John 2:
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.
Now let me say that this is very clearly addressed to an individual believer, there’s no doubt about that. It expresses God’s will for that individual and it covers three areas. It covers the area of the soul, the inward man. It covers the area of the physical body which is health. It covers the area of what we own, what we do, our homes, our businesses, our activities, which is under the heading of prosperity. And the will of God is good in every area. It’s good in the inward man, it’s good in the physical man and it’s good in our material and financial situations and that which we own, that which is really in a certain sense part of us, the extension of us.
First of all, we need to see that God’s will is good in every area and department of our life. That’s very important. You need to grasp that and lay hold of it. God does not will you ill in any area of your life. He wills that your soul prosper, that your body be in health and that you prosper financially and materially. But what I want to say—and I feel this is what, in a sense, the Lord gave me by revelation yesterday on the beach—is that the ultimate purpose of God is not limited to the individual but it’s for the corporate man. That corporate man shall prosper in soul life, in body life and in material and financial circumstances. I believe the Lord has shown me that as we get the body together and as it begins to function as a body and not as a lot of collective, individual units, God is going to release a measure of prosperity in every are—the soul area, the physical area and the financial area—such as most of us have never dreamed of.
I venture to say that it’s my conviction God has shown me this. If you wish, I’ll make a prediction. This is what’s going to happen.
I just want in closing for a moment to think about what’s involved. I personally believe that there are many sick among us who will not be fully healed as individuals but only as they find their place and function in the body. I’ve been in the ministry of healing many years and I challenge any man in the ministry of healing who can say that he has not left many people behind him not healed. I don’t believe there is. In the days when Oral Roberts was at the height of his ministry, his own estimate was that three percent of the people he prayed for got healed. That’s not a criticism. The fact of the matter is we have not resolved the problem of the sick believer. I believe the answer does not come merely in the individual, I believe it comes in the corporate man.
And then I want to say that I believe God will provide for that corporate man financially and materially on a level far above that which we have normally associated with Christianity. But I want to say furthermore I believe the key is in the area of the soul. I want to kind of present to you the challenge of prospering in the soul. I do not believe the soul is the spirit, I believe there’s a difference. I believe the soul is correctly defined in simple terms as the will, the mind and the emotions.
How many of you know that there are lots and lots of Christians who are not prospering in their emotions? They’re unstable, moody, depressed. I believe in many cases it’s because they’re not where they ought to be in the body. I don’t believe there’s an individual solution to all those problems.
I also believe that in the realm of the mind God has infinitely more to release to us than most of us have comprehended. What I’m again going to predict is this, that as our corporate man comes together God is going to release mental and creative and artistic abilities, which are all in the realm of the soul, that we have hardly ever associated with Protestant Christianity. I believe we saw just a little demonstration on the platform today of what real musical talent can mean to the body of Christ.
Do you know what I believe? I believe it belongs to the body. We’ve always viewed it as something that was outside in the world that we could just spectate or view. I believe the real fountains of creativity, artistically and musically and dramatically, are in the body of Christ. I believe that when the body comes together, as God intends it to be, we will prosper in our souls.
I have to say that I was permitted yesterday to view one of the most fascinating houses I’ve viewed in a long while. And as I stood there and looked at that house I thought that’s what God’s people ought to be like. They ought to be creative, they ought to be original, they ought not to be following the hum-drum, worn out patterns of this world, many of which are only limited in their success.
Isn’t it amazing how people go on building things the same way year after year because that’s how they were always built? And then somebody comes up with the realization it’s far from being the most efficient way to build. But it only takes a kind of surge of creativity to change the accepted pattern of doing things. Where does that come from? Where should it come from? In my opinion it should come from the body of Christ.
I was with Don Basham and Alice and Laura in Mackinaw Islands last week. We saw a little drama, it wasn’t anything tremendous but it was extremely witty. It was right down the line about American family life. Written by a member of the fellowship in Kalamazoo and very well acted. I mean, it was not inferior acting. I thought to myself, that’s a little bit of what we ought to have.
What about dancing? I want you all to know I’m in favor of dancing. If you’ve ever been in any doubt let me settle that question now. When I was in Australia in Brisbane, one of the groups that sponsored my meeting was a Covenant Community which was really an offshoot of The Word of God in Ann Arbor. The second night they cleared the whole platform when a group of about twelve young ladies danced a beautiful horain my honor and benefit.
I tell you, it’s coming. The time of the singing of birds is come. The voice of the turtle is heard in our lands. It’s a time of renewal, it’s a time of refreshing, it’s a time of excitement, it’s a time of exhilaration. It’s a time to shed off the old dead ways and concepts and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and get in line with the purposes of God and see what God is saying and what God wants to do because it’s fresh oil. When the fresh oil comes the light is going to burn a lot brighter. The world is going to be dazzled by it and turn around and say, “What have these people got that we don’t have?” Amen? I believe it.