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So now we’re going to make our proclamation. It’s taken from Joshua, chapter 1, verses 8 and 9.
“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth but you shall meditate in it day and night that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it for then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you, ‘Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’”
Now the subject that’s been assigned to me for this evening, with my agreement, is “How to Be a Man of God.” I would prefer to change it a little and say, “What It Means to Be a Man of God.” But I’m going to divide it into two sections: first of all, what it means to be a man. And then, a man of God. I think there’s nothing that is under more systematic satanic assault today than the very concept of what it is to be a man. I’m sure many of you are familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s well-known poem, If, and the last stanza goes like this:
“If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run Yours is the earth and all that’s in it And which is more, you’ll be a man, by some.”
So that’s Rudyard Kipling’s recipe for being a man: Filling the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run. Now, I’m not going to preach on that. But I want to say, first and foremost, and this is very important, it’s that I have only once source of authority and it is the Scripture. I have no other source or authority to which to appeal except the Scripture. That may sound simplistic, but it’s extremely important today because the Scripture is being systematically undermined and very often by people who profess to represent God.
I want to quote just two Scriptures and one man. John 10:35. Jesus is speaking and He says in reference to a certain Psalm:
“If He called them gods to whom the Word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken...”
So Jesus gives to this book the two titles we most commonly use: the Word of God and the Scripture. And then He says “the Scripture cannot be broken.” You could not make a more emphatic assertion of the authority of Scripture than in that simple statement: the Scripture cannot be broken.
And then, in 2 Timothy 3:16 we have Paul’s personal testimony on this theme. 2 Timothy 3:16:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God — there is no such thing as uninspired or unauthoritative Scripture. And bear in mind that both Jesus and Paul were speaking primarily of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, commencing with Genesis.
And then I’d like to quote John Wesley. When I was a young preacher, I was a Pentecostal, and one of our Pentecostal slogans in those days was: We’ve got it all! Then I started reading John Wesley’s journals, in four volumes. And after I’d read a little bit about John Wesley, I thought, “If we’ve got it all, what did he have? Because he certainly has a lot more than we have.” And there’s just one thing he said that impresses me. He said:
“I acknowledge no other rule of faith or practice but the Scripture.”
That’s the founder of Methodism. Where is Methodism today? Where are we today? At any rate, that is my personal stand. I acknowledge no other rule of faith or practice but the Scriptures.
Now, let me give you another side to this. Recently I came across a book called Spirit Wars written by a Brit who has done the same as I do—moved across to America. And his theme is what is happening in the church today and how the church is being systematically undermined by false teaching. And the false teaching is not new, it’s a resurrection of a heresy called gnosis, which was contemporary with the apostles and the early church. It’s just the old line come back again. I want you to listen to this rather carefully. Speaking about this new type of interpretation of Scripture:
“This new style exegesis is popping up everywhere lately, in more or less radical forms. One of note comes from the scholarly British publication The Journal for the Study of the New Testament, published at the University of Sheffield and known for its conservative, evangelical leaning. It’s present editor, Francis Wattson, from London University, publishes an article in which he finds the Biblical text, New and Old, hopelessly patriarchal and hierarchical.”
And let me tell you patriarchal is a dirty word today.
Wattson considers quite unconvincing, no doubt correctly, all attempts to save these texts by recovering between the lines a sort of pristine egalitarianism.
He leaves the reader with what he judges the more appropriate strategy—resistance. Such resistance, according to Wattson, would take the form of a counter-reading, reading the text defiantly against the grain. In practice, this would involve [now this is his conclusion] seeing the serpent as liberator, Eve as heroine in her courageous quest for wisdom, and the Lord God as a jealous tyrant, concerned only with the preservation of His own prerogatives.
That is from a leading British Bible scholar. I want to read it to you again because it is totally in contradiction of Scripture.
“This interpretation of Genesis chapters 1, 2 and 3 [which is the whole battleground today] would see the serpent as liberator, Eve as heroine in her courageous quest for wisdom, and the Lord God as a jealous tyrant concerned only with the preservation of his own prerogatives.”
That is the kind of interpretation which is being distilled and instilled by leading biblical colleges and authorities in this country today. I wonder how many of you are aware of what’s going on. So I want to say, I’m with John Wesley. I acknowledge no other rule of faith or practice but the Scripture.
Now, when we come to a theme of how to be a man and family life, I want to turn to Matthew chapter 19, where Jesus was approached by the Pharisees. In Matthew 19, beginning at verse 3, on the subject of divorce: Matthew 19, beginning at verse 3:
“The Pharisees also came to Him [Jesus] testing Him and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’ And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that he who made them at the beginning made them male and female.’”
Now, when Jesus said, “at the beginning,” you have to know that the Hebrew name for the book of Genesis in Hebrew is bereshee, which is the first words of the text: In the beginning. So, when Jesus said, “at the beginning,” He was saying, “turn back to Genesis” and see what was God’s purpose when He made them.
“Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female.”
And that still stands today. There are two sexes: male and female. That sounds obvious to me, but I find a lot of people for whom it is no longer obvious. And God made them—they didn’t just happen. It was God’s order that there should be male and female.
I remember years ago I was walking somewhere in a town and I passed a barbershop. And this is nothing against barbers—but on the glass door it was painted one word: unisex. And I thought to myself: “We must be very close to the end of the age.” Unisex. Now I’m not against a barber cutting men’s and women’s hair—that’s not my point. My point is there are two sexes—and only two sexes. Obviously, in this country at this present time, this is a rather controversial issue. I thank God for the good African bishops. God bless those bishops! They came out with the truth, and they weren’t even willing to negotiate. Oh, this is not negotiable! There are two sexes: male and female.
And let me tell you something else. We’re being enticed along a road by a subtle change of language. I don’t know whether you realize how much is being, as it were, pressed on us, by the language we are given. For instance, talk about abortion. No longer is it called killing an unborn baby. It’s not even called aborting a fetus. After all, a fetus and a baby are not the same thing. I mean, you don’t kill babies, but you can abort fetuses. But now it’s called “terminating a pregnancy.” What a nice, kind phrase. Terminating a pregnancy. Just blotting out a little life that was created in the likeness of God. We have to beware of the language that we use.
And I find another subtle change, which is, people no longer talk about sex. They talk about gender. Gender equality. My dear friends, sex is physiological, gender is grammatical. I’m not a gender, I’m a sex. I’m a male sex. I’ve been male all my life and I don’t think I’ll ever change! I want you to see how subtle it is. We’re not told just take the Bible and throw it out. But we’re told edit the Bible. Change the language a little bit. Move this and move that and adjust here and adjust there. And by the time you’ve done all the adjusting, you’re believing something directly contrary to the Bible. But you don’t realize it.
So Jesus said in the beginning God made them male and female. And He went on to say:
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
So Jesus said, in effect, “When God started the human race, He laid the basis for human relationships and family order and that has never changed.” It’s still the way God ordained it. And if you go contrary to that, you’re going contrary to the Word of God.
Now, coming back to the theme of men, I want to point out something to you which is very remarkable and I think most of us—in fact, I didn’t appreciate it myself until recently. In fact, I’ll speak about something and acknowledge that I myself was, in a way, I failed.
Going back to the record of the events in the Garden of Eden, and I’m sure that we all have some awareness of what was spoken of, it says, after Adam had been created and before he’d been given a wife, in Genesis 2:15:
“Then the Lord God took the man, Adam, and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.”
Tend is cultivate. Now keep is not clear in the English language. The Hebrew word means to guard or to protect. For instance, it says, “The Lord is thy keeper.” That’s thy guardian, thy protector. “The keeper of Israel will not sleep.” It’s a very powerful, strong word. Adam was put there, in charge of the garden, to protect it. And you see, the first sin is one that isn’t actually recorded. And it’s the sin of a man. We’re aware that Eve was enticed into sinning. But we don’t realize that wasn’t the first sin. The first sin was Adam’s delinquency. He failed in his assigned task. And I would like to say that I think delinquency is the number one failing of men. It’s not that they start off by being actively bad, they just fail to fulfill their obligations. And I know many good men who are, nevertheless, delinquent. Because they’re not guarding what was committed to them. And the serpent should never have got into the garden without Adam challenging him. “What are you doing here? I’m in charge of this garden. God put me here. You have no authority to be here.” We don’t know where Adam was, but he wasn’t on the job. And so the serpent got to Eve and she was unprotected because her husband wasn’t doing his job. And I’ve said countless times in America, “The number one problem of the United States is renegade males.” And it isn’t an obvious problem. There are other very obvious problems that emerge but the real source of the problem is men are not fulfilling their scriptural obligation. They’re not guarding, they’re not protecting. Their wives are unprotected. And that’s how the disaster comes.
I made this little saying which I think I’ll get you to repeat: Sins of omission lead to sins of commission. You see, we’re very insensitive to sins of omission. We hardly take any note of them. But they never end there. So, sins of omission lead to sins of commission. I’d like you all to say that: Sins of omission lead to sins of commission. All right. Now I’d like only the men to say that. Sins of omission lead to sins of commission. That’s the story of the human race. It’s the story of the Fall. The first failure was Adam. He was delinquent. It was not what he did, it was what he didn’t do that was the problem.
Now, when Ruth and I felt that it was God’s will for us to get married, Ruth asked me a rather pointed question. She said, “What do you believe about what Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians chapter 11?” And I said, “I believe it means what it says.” And so she said, “So do I.” So we were in agreement. It was good we were. You see, in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 Paul is really applying the teaching of Genesis. And I want to take just one scripture, 1 Corinthians 11, verse 3:
“And I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”
Let’s put it this way: there is a descending chain of authority that starts in heaven and ends in the family. The chain comes out of God the Father, through Christ, to the husband, to the woman, to the family. That is the way God ordained it. Now, I’ve heard a lot of people say that—or suggest—that Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 is cultural. I think that’s ridiculous, to say the truth. I can’t think of anything that is less cultural than the relationship between God the Father and Jesus His Son and the husband and the wife. If the eternal relationships in the godhead are cultural, then we have nothing stable on which to build at all. Furthermore, people suggest that being cultural makes it all right. I think that’s ridiculous. I’ve traveled in approximately 50 nations and preached and I’ve come across many different cultures. And almost every culture that I can think of there was a strong demonic element. So the fact that it’s cultural doesn’t make it all right. There’s only one thing that makes it all right—that it’s scriptural. And if it’s not scriptural, it’s not all right.
So, we have this descending chain of authority: from God the Father, through Christ His Son, to the husband and father, and from him to the wife and the mother.
Let’s look for a moment in John 10, verse 18. How did authority work, or does it work, in the heavenly family? And I think it’s surprising, it’ll surprise you, how Jesus speaks about His relationship to the Father’s authority. He says in John 10, verses 17 and 18:
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No man takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down [it should be authority] to lay it down and I have authority to take it again. This command I received from My Father.”
So God the Father gives commands to Jesus the Son and Jesus obeys His Father’s command. So the idea that it’s unscriptural to have commands in a family is not in agreement with Scripture. In the heavenly family, God gives the commands and Jesus carries them out.
In John chapter 12, verses 49 and 50, Jesus is speaking:
“For I have not spoken of Myself, but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command: what I should say and what I should speak, and I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”
So Jesus, in all His teaching, was obeying the commands of the Father. That was the relationship in the heavenly family.
And then, in John 14:31, as Jesus prepares to go from the Upper Room, go out to the encounter which led to His trial and execution, He says: (John 14:31)
“That the world may know that I love the Father and as the Father gave Me commandments, so I do. Arise, and let us go from here.”
So Jesus went to the cross in obedience to the Father’s command. That’s the ultimate test of obedience.
And then it says in Hebrews 5 and verse 8:
“Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”
So there is a pattern of two divine persons: the Father and the Son. The Father gave the commands and the Son learned obedience by obeying the commands—which cost Him His life. You see, there is no pattern for sloppiness or disobedience or carelessness. God is a very accurate God. He tells us what He wants us to do and He expects us to do it. And this should be reproduced in the human family.
Actually, there are three ministries of Jesus which the father should reproduce in the home: the ministry of the priest, the prophet and the king. As a priest, the father makes intercession for his family. And remember the pattern of Job. He got up early every morning and offered sacrifices for his seven sons and his three daughters. He’s the prophet: he brings the Word of God to his family. And he’s the king: he rules his family according to the Word of God. Priest, prophet and king.
But what I want to emphasize tonight is there is authority, there is discipline, there is obedience. And it starts in heaven. It does not begin on earth. And God’s intention is that it should be reproduced in every family. A father should be the priest, the prophet and the king.
Have you ever asked yourself: Why did God choose Abraham? God was looking for a man who would be the father of a special people that would fulfill God’s purposes on the earth. And he had all the human race available. And he chose one man whose name was Abraham. And the name in itself is significant because A-b, Ab, in Hebrew, means father. The first thing God looked for was a father. And He tells us in Genesis 18 why He chose Abraham. Genesis 18, verses 17 and following. The Lord with two angels was on His way to pronounce judgment on Sodom, and He stopped off and was entertained by Abraham. And then the angels moved ahead, but the Lord Himself tarried. It’s challenging, to me, that quite unannounced, the Lord visited Abraham’s home. And I don’t think Abraham had to scurry around, putting everything in order and telling his wife how to behave. He had his home in order. If the Lord should favor your home with a personal visit, would everything be in order, or would you be embarrassed?
Then, the Lord said, in verse 17:
“Shall I hide from Abraham what I’m doing? [He wanted to share His purposes with Abraham.] Since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.”
Now why? Now, there are a lot of different translations of this verse. But the essence of it is the same. This one says,
“I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him.”
I find that pretty strange English. The Old King James said, “I know him that he will...” and the New American Standard says, “I have chosen...” Actually, it’s very hard to say exactly what it means. You could be right and you could be wrong. But that’s not the point. The point is why?
“I have chosen him [or I have known him or I’ve endorsed him] that he may command his children and his household after him that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice, that the Lord may bring on Abraham what He has promised to Him.”
So why? ...what did God see in Abraham, Abram when he became Abraham? What did God see in him that caused Him to choose this man to be the father of a special race? First of all, he was a father. And then, he knew that He could trust Abraham to command his children and his household after him. Not to make suggestions. Not to offer a plan. But to make a command. A very unpopular word today. But it’s very Biblical and it still means exactly what it says. It’s a father’s responsibility to impose the discipline of God on his household. And I would like to say in any nation where fathers fail to do that, that nation cannot be or remain great.
Once upon a time, this nation of which I am a member, used to be known as Great Britain. Nowadays very few people bother to put in the “great.” It’s just Britain. Do you know why it’s ceased to be “great”? Because the fathers have failed to fulfill the requirement for a nation to be great. This is not a side issue, this is central to the whole well-being of you, your family and your nation. This is what God is looking for.
Now I’d like to turn, for a moment, to the subject of divorce. And I want to turn to the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, chapter 2. And it’s significant that the principle that God’s enunciated in Genesis are summed up and endorsed in Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament. God has not changed His plan or His order.
Today, the word “divorce” is on everybody’s lips. I think there are not many people that have lived as long as I have. But I grew up in this country between the two World Wars. I was born in World War I and... was born in India, but very early in my life I moved to this country with my parents. Or, my parents moved with me. And I grew to the age of 25 in this country, living what you’d call an upper-middle class life, and in all those years, I had only met one divorced person. Can you believe that? I mean, that one person, she’s divorced. It was just like a, well, can you believe it? She’s divorced. How rapidly things have changed in Britain. There’s been a landslide that is in danger of becoming an avalanche. And it will carry away this nation and it’s people. It’s a deliberate turning-of-the-back to God and His standards and His requirements.
So let’s see what God says about divorce in Malachi chapter 2, beginning at verse 15. Now, again, this is a little difficult, with some different translations, but the sense of it comes out.
“But did not He make them one, having a remnant of the spirit. [He made apparently Adam and Eve one. He could have made more, but He didn’t. And why one? Now this is the answer.] He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit and let none deal treacherously with the wife of your youth.”
I think “deal treacherously” corresponds to the phrase that I hear now, “cheat on.” Let nobody cheat on his wife. Let no one break his marriage covenant because that’s something that God detests. For it goes on in the next verse:
“For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce. [And then it goes on again:] Why did He make them one? Because He seeks godly offspring.”
You see, when God looks at marriage, the first thing He looks at is the offspring. What are they going to produce? How will they care for what I’ve committed to them? My most cherished and choice possession: a child. Are they going to be responsible? Are they going to bring that child up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? He’s looking for godly offspring. And there is no question that monogamous marriage—one man with one woman, for life—is the best way to produce godly offspring.
I pastored a small congregation in West London, in Westbourne Grove, in the 1950s, and because we did not have a building that was licensed for marriage, (And you know in this country it’s the building that’s licensed) some of our people got married in registry offices. And so I found myself several times as a witness in a registrar’s office and in every registrar’s office throughout this country, as you walked in, there was a notice on the wall that said this: “According to the law of this country, marriage is the union of one man with one woman, for life, to the exclusion of all others.” That’s as good a Biblical definition of marriage as you can find. I can’t believe that it’s still found in registrar’s offices today, I might be wrong. It certainly isn’t practiced.
But that was the basic concept of marriage in this country in the 1950s, less than 50 years ago. I want to say it again, because it’s so powerful: “According to the law of this country, marriage is the union of one man with one woman, for life, to the exclusion of all others.” You could not have a more Biblical definition of marriage. And that’s exactly what marriage is. That’s what it is. And God hates divorce.
Now, I’m not attacking people who have been divorced because I know, unfortunately, today, there are situations in which sometimes a person really has no other scriptural alternative but divorce. And this is not an attack on them, it’s an attack on the system that produces divorces. Today they estimate in America that half of—50%—of every marriage will end in divorce. And people shrug their shoulders and go on with their coffee. There’s no sense of the enormity of the situation that confronts us.
The root problem is parents are not parenting their children. And the most delinquent is, first and foremost, the men. You see, unfortunately, women’s liberation has boomeranged. Women got liberated from their commitment to honor and obey their husbands, but their husbands got liberated from their commitment to stay with one woman. So they get married, the man gets tired of his wife and walks out. Has no more obligations. And the woman is left struggling with one or two or three children to raise on her own. Who’s lost? The woman. It’s disastrous. I have a deep concern in my heart for single mothers. And I feel, in a way, the church does not do what it should be doing for single mothers. Because pure religion and undefiled before God, James 1:27 says, is to visit the orphans and widows. And the church is not doing that. But let’s consider the problem, the source, of the problem. It’s divorce. God says, “I hate divorce, because I want godly offspring.” And I tell you there’s only one solution for juvenile delinquents. You can appoint a commission, you can investigate, you can appoint various government offices and functions—but there’s only one solution: it’s parents. There’s nothing else can produce godly offspring but parents. If we abandon that, we abandon our children to the Destroyer.
It’s interesting to me because we looked in Genesis chapter 1 and 2 and 3. We come to Malachi, which is the last book of the Old Covenant and, in time, much later than the others, and God is still saying the same thing. He hasn’t changed His mind. “I’m looking for godly offspring. The union of one man with one woman.”
The last two verses of the Old Testament, the end of the Old Testament. I’m so glad there’s a New Testament. I’ll explain why in a moment. Because this is God speaking. And He says in Malachi 4, verses 5 & 6:
“Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
Now, Hebrew could put that in various different orders. But in the Hebrew, the last word of the Old Testament is “a curse.” And it’s the word that means something totally devoted to destruction. That’s the last word of the Old Testament. I’m glad there’s a New Testament. I wouldn’t want God’s last word to be a curse. But, he says, unless the fathers and the children are reconciled, that’s what will come on the land. I want to read that again.
“Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
And notice who has to turn first. Did you notice that? It’s not the children; it’s the fathers. It’s those whom God holds primarily accountable. We can complain about Generation X or Next or whatever they call it. We can point out all their faults and problems. But I want to tell you the truth: they’re not to blame. It’s our generations that are to blame. We are the ones who’ve betrayed them. We are the ones who have led them astray. We are the ones who have failed to present the truth to them. We are the ones who have failed to impose godly discipline. Now God is going to judge us through the children. And, I mean, they can move in and take over in a little while and make life very unpleasant for us. Unless we do something about it.
I believe in a home, raising children, there are two primary requirements: Number one is love, number two is discipline. And neither of them works properly without the other. Discipline without love produces probably rebels. But love without discipline produces irresponsible people.
Ruth and I are the head of a family of 12 adopted children. We may not look like it, but that’s what we are. And there are about 150 members in our family today. So I’m not without some measure of experience. And I would like to say, and I have to be careful I don’t become too personal, I have observed children who were excessively indulged by their parents and basically they’ve all had a difficult life. So the way to make your child happy is not to spoil your child—not to give them all they ask, do everything they want, turn around at every request. If you teach your children this way, what will probably happen is they will go into life expecting life to treat them that way. And life doesn’t. How many of you know that? Life is pretty tough. And it’s not getting any less tough, either.
So, in order to raise successful children, we have to combine love and discipline. Unfortunately, that’s a rare combination today. Our problem is delinquent males. And it expresses itself in unparented children. And that becomes a landslide which will ultimately become an avalanche. No matter how many computers we may have. No matter how many fancy cars we may drive. No matter how much property we may invest in. Ultimately, it’s all going to blow up in our face. Unless we deal with the basic spiritual issues: which are fathers and their children. We can try to skirt around it, but we will not. There’s a destiny that catches up with people. We can slight and ignore the laws of God for a time and get away with it, and seem to prosper. But, ultimately, God catches up with us.
I remember in the days when I used to know Latin, they had a phrase Heddy pina claudda, “lame-footed justice” or punishment. That Latin figure expressed the fact that justice or punishment is lame, it walks slowly, but ultimately it catches up with you. And that’s how it is.
I just want to go on from what it means to be a man to what it means to be a man of God. But you can’t be a man of God if you don’t know what it means to be a man. That’s the first requirement.
Now, I just want to, very briefly, point out two of the qualifications or requirements of elders. And I want you to see in each case an elder is required to rule. 1 Timothy chapter 3, verses 2 through 4. Paul says:
“A bishop [but it’s much better to say ‘an overseer’] must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous, one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence.”
So the ultimate requirement of an elder is that he rules his own house well. And if he doesn’t do that, he’s not qualified to be an elder. And then, speaking about elders, in the same epistle, chapter 5, verse 17, Paul says:
“Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”
So one element in being a man of God is being able to rule, qualified to rule, and willing to rule. And in our contemporary culture that will not always make you popular, by any means. In fact, if you want popularity, stay away from being an elder. But if you want God’s approval, then it’s a good thing to be an elder. You have to decide, very often, whether you want popularity or God’s approval. People who are motivated by a desire for popularity can never become strong, stable Christians.
Now I just want to say a word about the word that’s translated “rule.” I started learning Greek at the age of 10. I didn’t have a choice; it was the education system to which I was exposed. And I went on learning for 15 years. I’m not faultless, but I do know something about Greek. And I just want to say this: the real meaning of this word that’s translated rule is to stand out in front of. So a bishop, an elder, must stand out in front of his family. And that’s a very vivid picture. God has made it very vivid to me, in my own personal life, just lately. I’ll explain why in a few moments. But the function of the elder, the function of the father, is to stand out in front. That combines two concepts: to lead and to protect. And that is the responsibility of a father in his family, the responsibility of an elder in a church. To stand out in front. To show the way. To walk ahead. And to encounter the adversary. So that when the adversary strikes, the elder or the father is the one who deals with him. Now, that is a responsibility of a man of God. It’s to stand in front, stand out in front, of his family. That when the blows come, they touch you first.
Somebody once asked a well-known preacher, “Is so-and-so a good Christian?” And he answered, “I can’t tell you yet; I haven’t met his wife!” You see, the wife is the glory of the husband. So, you can tell what sort of man he is, by what sort of glory his wife has. If the wife is secure and tranquil and diligent, she’s his glory. But if she’s distraught and nervous and continually under pressure, it’s his fault. He should have been “standing out in front.”
This has become very vivid to me just recently. You know you have to be kind to Bible teachers because we tend to teach things before we’ve practiced them. That’s not deliberate. It’s just, you see a thing and you say it, and then you have to do it. At any rate, that’s the way I’ve come into truth. I usually am behind my teaching. But I try to catch up. And I’ve just come now to this particular situation in relationship to my wife, who has been through a siege of different kinds of sicknesses. And I was very concerned for her, but I didn’t know what to do. And, in a sense, I think I was like Adam. I was delinquent. I just let it all happen. I didn’t protect the garden. I let the serpent pass in. This is metaphorical, you understand. And God, through the Scriptures that I’m giving you now, began to speak to me. And He said, “You’re not fulfilling your job! Your wife’s condition is largely your responsibility.” And I said, “Lord, what can I do? I pray. I really am concerned. We love one another. We share everything together. What am I lacking?” I said, “What do I have to do?” And I got a very simple answer, almost simplistic. “The prayer of faith will save the sick.” And I said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” He said, “Pray the prayer of faith.” And I didn’t feel any faith. I didn’t have any tremendous inspiration and I thought, Lord, I’ll do my best to be obedient. So I began to say, “Lord, I pray the prayer of faith on behalf of my wife.” The answers haven’t all come, but the change has taken place. We’re moving in a different direction.
Now that was an expensive lesson. I have a totally new sense of responsibility for my wife. And that doesn’t mean everything is going to be all right from now until the Lord comes, but it has shown me a new dimension to what it means to be a man of God. If you’re married, and if you’re planning to get married or hoping to get married, remember your wife should be your glory.
Now I’m proud of my wife in many respects. You may have noticed she keeps her hair covered, head covered. Do you know why she does that? Because the Bible says to. One simple reason. It’s not fashionable. So what? Are we dictated to by the fashions of this world? What I’ll tell you is I think she looks pretty. I don’t think she looks dowdy, I don’t think she looks dull. In fact, I’ll have to tell you secretly, I think she looks smarter than women who don’t have their heads covered. But she doesn’t do it for that reason. She does it because God says to do it. And if I didn’t encourage her and strengthen her, I would be delinquent.
Now, this is not an issue about whether you cover your head or not; that’s your business, not mine. But the issue is are you really in submission to Jesus Christ? and the Word of God?
You know, I mean I’ve been Pentecostal since I knew what it was to be a Christian. I didn’t know there was any other way to be a Christian. I was surprised when I discovered there were some Christians who didn’t speak in tongues because I got the whole thing in a package deal. I didn’t know what I was getting, but I got it! If you’ve been Pentecostal, you know there’s a lot of talk about “the world” and “being worldly.” And so I want to just suggest to you a way to think about what it means to be of the world or not of the world. Because Jesus said, “My disciples are not of the world just as I am not of the world.” So, if we’re not of the world, what does that mean? And I’ll give you a little example. This is in Acts 17, in Corinth. As usual, there was a riot. When Paul arrived in a city you could guarantee a riot. I doubt whether we’ll ever have many revivals without riots.
I remember working as a missionary in East Africa with a group of Canadian missionaries. And they were discussing whether we should open a new church in a certain area. And one of my fellow-missionaries said something that always stuck with me. He said, “Let’s make them mad or let’s make them glad, but let them know we’re here!” Them’s my sentiments! Let’s make them mad or let’s make them glad, but let them know we’re here. The worst thing they can do is ignore us. And generally speaking, in much of Europe today, people ignore the church. They regard it as insignificant, unimportant. It doesn’t have any influence. That’s the church’s fault. But, believe me, if we get influence, we’ll get opposition. You can’t have one without the other. If you want a revival, you’re probably going to have a riot.
I remember Wesley’s description of how he first came to Cornwall. And he was preaching and there was a riot and people were throwing stones. And there was a stone thrown straight at his head and, as it came to him it was deflected by some supernatural power and passed by. That’s what it means to be not of this world. It includes stones.
Anyhow, this is my little explanation. There was this situation when Paul had arrived in Corinth. And when he arrived in Corinth the Lord spoke to him and said, “Don’t be afraid. I have many people in this city. Stay here and I’ll see you through.” It says in Acts 17:5:
“And some of them were persuaded and a great multitude of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women joined Paul and Silas. But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace and gathering a mob set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason and sought to bring him out to the people.”
I wish we had a few more uproars, to tell the truth. We’re too - I don’t know what to say. We don’t really make much impact. But anyhow, I want to come on to what they said:
“But when they did not find them [that’s Paul and his companions] they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too!’”
Actually the Greek says, “these who are turning the world upside-down...” Is that true of you and me? Are we turning the world upside-down? Does the world even know we’re there? You see, they weren’t turning the world upside-down; the world was already upside-down. What they were doing was turning the world right-way-up. People had lived so long upside-down, they felt upside-down when they were right-way-up. But I want you to notice what they said, because these are unbelievers. This is the way they saw the Christians, without knowing what they really believed.
“These who are turning the world upside-down have come here too. Jason has harbored them and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar saying there is another king, Jesus!”
They didn’t understand the Gospel. They didn’t have any doctrinal knowledge. They only knew one thing about these Christians. They say there’s another king and his name is Jesus. And amongst those who said that, there were Jews and Gentiles, rich men, noble ladies, workers, and many slaves. A strange assortment of people who wouldn’t normally come together. And what brought them together was they said there’s another king and His name is Jesus. And that, I believe, is what it means to be un-worldly. To live in a way that acknowledges another king. And His name is Jesus. To live under another government. We’re not solely under the government of this world. We have a heavenly government. We have a heavenly king. And that’s what we should be.
Tell me, are you living like that? Are you living in such a way that people say, “Well, I don’t understand her religion, but she’s got a different king. She obeys different laws. She’s under different authority.”—or he.
There’s another phrase that they use in America (I don’t know if they use it here). They say about a certain person “He marches to the beat of a different drum.” You see, all the world is marching to a certain drum beat, and there these strange people, they’re not in step. What beat do they hear? They’re hearing a different drum. The drum of the kingdom. People of God. Crazy! Fanatics! Do you know what the definition of a fanatic is: somebody who loves Jesus more than you do! I mean, there is such a thing as fanaticism which is very wrong, but I say, “Lord, give us a few more fanatics. Please.” We are so respectable. We are so much in line. We seldom raise our voice. All sorts of ungodly things happen and we don’t even protest. And the forces of evil just say, “Well, we can get away with it. There’s no opposition.” Opposition is not our primary task, but when we stand for what’s right, we will be opposition. And I think, I really think, the opposition will be afraid of us, to say the truth. When I see the amount of influence that a little group of homosexuals—and I never use the word gay, because for me gay is a very beautiful English word. And I don’t want to apply it to something so ugly. They’re homosexuals. They’re perverts. But when I see the influence that that little, screaming, hysterical group is exercising here in this country, I say, “What is wrong with the church? Why don’t we make a noise? Why don’t we act up?” We’re too respectable. We’ve forgotten that we have another king. And His name is what? Jesus. Say it again. Jesus. That’s right. Now say it just as loud in the marketplace next time!
Well, that’s been a strange message. It wasn’t the way I’d planned it, but that’s the way it came out. It can’t be changed now; it’s all recorded.
Now I think that we should try and give an application to this message I’ve preached.
For five years I used to train African teachers for African schools in Kenya. And they had a lesson plan that they had to submit. And always the bottom line was “Application.” What do you make the children do to prove they’ve understood what you’ve said. And I think sermons should have applications, too.
So I want to suggest that you pause for a moment and consider what I’ve been saying about what it means to be a man. Let alone a man of God. And then, if you feel, as I said of myself, that you’ve been delinquent; that you hadn’t really had a backbone—I don’t want to insult you, but you’ve been far below the standard of Scripture in being a man, in being a husband, in being a father, in being a pastor. But tonight you’ve been confronted with something. There is a standard. God has expectations. He’s never lowered His standards. He’s still the same as He was in the Garden of Eden and with the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter. He’s never changed. He’s still the same as He was with John Wesley. And you would like to say to the Lord, “Lord, I recognize I’ve come short of Your standard; and I repent. But by Your grace, Lord, by Your grace, I’ll do different. If You’ll empower me, if You’ll equip me, I will be a man.” That’s what the world is crying out for—is a man. Is men. Thank God for women who are doing things, but where are the men? And I’m not criticizing the women. There’s a vacuum and it’s created by men who are delinquent, who’ve abdicated.
So now, let’s just be silent before the Lord for a few moments. And all you good ladies now be praying for the men, which is one of your responsibilities, you know that. And now, there are men here tonight who have been touched by what I’ve said, who’ve come face-to-face with a truth, and you need to change. You’re willing to repent of your delinquency, from your laziness. And you would like to make a fresh commitment, as a man, to God—as a man of God. Just think that over for a moment, and if it’s your desire to make that commitment here tonight, then I want you to do one simple thing: Just stand to your feet, wherever you are.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Father. Thank you, Lord. We worship you. We worship you.
Now I feel that it will be good if you moved out from your place. You’re making a move. And it’s good to make that move symbolically. So I would like you to move out from your seat and come to the front. Don’t do this unless you’re serious. If God will touch these men here tonight, there’s enough to move Cornwall, let alone Weydbridge. Thank you, Father. Thank you, Father. Thank you, Father. Thank you, Lord Jesus.
Lord Jesus, I think this is what you’ve been waiting for. How long? How long? How long? Thank you. Thank you, O God.
Now, will you, each of you, just lift up your voice. You don’t need to speak loud but just speak it out. Tell God you’re here because you repent of not being the kind of man that God wanted you to be. And you’re willing to submit to God and let Him change you and redirect you from this moment onwards. Just tell God that in your own words. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Father. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Lord Jesus, just let your Spirit come down upon these men. It means a lot to them that they’ve come forward. You’ve done something in many of their hearts that they’ve been willing to come forward. Will You send your Spirit and your anointing upon them now, in Jesus name. Will you touch them. Will you touch them with a coal from your altar. Oh God. Will you do something? Will you move by your Spirit.
Ladies, and others, be praying for these men right now. Pray earnestly for them. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord Jesus.
[Derek speaks in tongues.]
Oh, you evil spirit of Jezebel, we rebuke you in the name of Jesus. That has castrated these men. Lord, will you do something here tonight? That evil force of feminism. We stand against it in the name of Jesus. We break its hold over these men and over their situation and over their thinking and over their culture. We break the hold of feminism. Amen. In the name of Jesus. In the name of Jesus. Thank you, Lord.
If any of you want to kneel down, it would appropriate. If that’s what you feel you want to do. I feel that you should make this a moment of consecration.
[Derek speaks in tongues.]
In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, be strengthened, be equipped, be transformed, be empowered. In the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Lord, we thank you for every one of these men who’ve heard Your call, responded to Your voice, submitted to Your word. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord. Bless them, bless them, bless them we pray.