This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Tape No. I-4259Page
I’m going to try to be brief because I want to give plenty of time for the word itself. But I’m a little bit in awe of God when I think here I am in New Zealand, in the uttermost part of the earth, the farthest inhabited distance from Jerusalem where we make our home. I think I started my life on the prairies of South Dakota in the middle of the United States. But God in His foreknowledge of me had a plan and a purpose, and I look at my life now and I say surely I did not plan my like. No one would have ever of thought of a plan like this.
I grew up in a Christian home, my parents, I believe, were both born again Christians. But they didn’t talk about it. They were denominational Christians and they just assumed that we would get what they had. And I went to church regularly and to Sunday School but I never knew that you could know Jesus. I knew that He was a historical figure but somehow the reality of Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension and coming again didn’t ever penetrate.
So, as soon as I was old enough, I left the church. And then during the Korean War I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. While serving in the Marine Corps I attained the rank of sergeant. While serving in the Marine Corps I met another Marine who was Jewish, and I married him. We talked about what we should do for a religion. Neither of us had any faith but we felt we had to have a religion. So I agreed to convert to Judaism. And I did it unemotionally, it was a convenience thing. But when I began to study to become a convert to Judaism, something happened to me. I met the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob. I can’t say that I knew Him personally but I knew He was there and that He had a concern for the people of the earth, and especially for the Jewish people whom He had chosen. I really tried, I gave myself to Him as I understood Him, to worship Him as a Jewess. That was in l952.
I lived a very active life as a religious Jewess, I worshiped in the synagogue, I kept a Jewish home. All my friends were Jewish, we adopted three Jewish children; I was not able to bear children so we adopted three. All were Jewish. My whole adult life has been as a Jewess.
Then in l965 my husband left me for another woman. And so I was faced with the task of raising three children. And I had just begun to complete my university education so I went ahead and did that raising my children. I really clung to my Jewish friends and to the synagogue.
And then in l968 I became ill. I think I had just overstrained my body. At that point in time I cried out to God, I was in my room in my home. I cried out to God and I said, “Have you forgotten about me? I’ve really done my best to serve you, to follow you. I can’t do anything now. I can’t take care of my children. Please help me.” And there was a presence that filled my room. I didn’t see Him but I knew it was Jesus. And He healed me.
Now I had a real dilemma because I believe that Jesus was the Messiah but I was Jewish and I didn’t have any idea what I could do with Him. I thought I was the first Jewish person that had ever believed in Jesus. I didn’t know that Jesus was Jewish, I didn’t know that the apostles and all the early church were Jewish; I thought I was the first one. So for about two years I really ran away from God.
And then again in l970 I became ill. What I say is God let me go but He didn’t let go of me. In l970 I became ill again and this time a Christian friend gave me a book. Basically, the book was how to receive the Holy Spirit because she knew I believed in my head and she thought I was born again. In the hospital room I read the book and I realized it said that Jesus will not fill an unclean vessel. And it told me how to receive Jesus. So I did, just very simply and unemotionally. I prayed and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my heart—and He did. Then I said to Him, “If the baptism of the Holy Spirit is from you and you want me to have it, I want it.” He baptized me in the Holy Spirit there in the hospital room. I spoke in tongues in a language I have never learned, in a whisper because I didn’t want anyone to hear me.
That changed my life, that was in October of l970. I tried for the next little while to go on living the busy life I had been having with all my secular activities and my work. But God really dealt with me because I was so hungry for His word and for fellowship with Him. One night in February of l971 He brought me to the place where I saw I had to surrender my whole life to Him without any reservations. I remember it was a tremendous emotional experience for me. My salvation experience was not so emotional, this was because I had to count the cost. I said to him, “I’m 40 years old. I have a broken marriage, I have three children who have problems. My health is not what it ought to be. I’m not strong. As far as the world is concerned, I have succeeded, but I’m not satisfied with what I have achieved.” I said, “Whatever my life is worth to you, I give it to you.” And you know, He took me at my word.
The first thing He required of me was that I leave the employment that I had then had. I had graduated from the university, I was working in a very high pressure, exciting job. He required of me that I leave that with no knowledge of where I was to go. But I knew if I didn’t obey Him in that I couldn’t expect that He’d ever speak to me again. So I did. A lot of people thought I was crazy, but two months later approximately, He put me in another position. And when he took me into my next challenge, I was earning exactly twice the amount of money I had been earning in the first job that I left. So He took care of me.
The first calling that I had in God after I left my employment was to intercession. And I really didn’t understand it. I just knew that He would put burdens on my heart and I would just weep and cry. Sometimes I would see the answers, sometimes I wouldn’t. They were often about things that were far too large for me. One of the things that he very soon put on my heart was Israel. I became an intercessor for Israel. It’s very interesting, because in l967 during the six day war I was a very active Jewess in the synagogue. It was all so remote and far away because I didn’t know Jesus. But in l973 during the Yom Kippur war I just wanted to leave and go and help. I had such a burden for the people of Israel in that time. That’s the difference the Holy Spirit made in me.
But in l974 I visited Israel for the first time. While I was there God spoke to me by chapter and verse—there were six scriptures in all—one night in my hotel room. I had not had an experience like that before. The essence of it was leave everything you have in the United States and go to Israel. One of the scriptures was “the people who have sat in the darkness have seen a great light. Those who are in the region of the shadow of death, on them light has come.” So I went back to the United States and made my preparations. I gave away virtually everything I had and I immigrated to Israel in l975 with my 15 year old daughter. My other children had already grown and left home.
Two years later I fell and injured my back. Here I was, I was living in Jerusalem, I was serving the Lord there and I thought I had achieved my heart’s desire to serve the Lord full time in Jerusalem. Then I fell and hurt my back and I couldn’t do anything. I knew God’s healing power, He’d healed me twice before and yet I couldn’t lay hold of His healing. I lay in bed week after week. The doctors really couldn’t offer much hope to me, I had a ruptured disc and I also had curvature of the spine which I’d had since childhood. The rupture was exactly at the point where the curvature began. It just wouldn’t heal, there was no strength in my muscles. During that period, Derek Prince who was at that time a widower, came to Jerusalem. He heard about me and in an act of mercy and compassion he came and prayed for me because he has a gift of praying for people who have back problems. Nothing dramatic happened but there was an interesting thing that happened. He had a prophecy for me and the prophecy that he gave me was almost word for word something the Lord had spoken to me about two weeks previously. So I knew that God had been there and that something had happened.
What he explained to me was I was to keep the plug in. God would touch me with His supernatural power and as long as I kept my cord plugged into God’s power by thanking Him that He was at work in my body, His power would continue to work. I did that. It was in June that he prayed for me. I was healed in the meeting while I was worshipping the Lord in November of l977.
But God had more in store for me than I knew because a few days after Derek prayed for me, God gave him a vision in which He showed him the way back to Jerusalem for him would be a zigzag course. It would not be direct but that the first step of the road back was to marry me. I want to say he’s a man of faith! Because, he knew nothing about me and yet he followed through on what God showed him. In due course God showed me that I should marry him.
Now that story is told in this book, God is a Matchmaker, which came out last spring. There’s more in the book. It also tells young people how to find the right mate, it isn’t just a love story. It has a chapter for pastors and parents. But the central story is in here.
Just a few months before this happened, before I fell, I had been in prayer with the Lord and I felt very strongly that He wanted me to make another commitment to Him. I had committed myself to Him without reservation in l971, and again when I went to Israel I had given myself to Him for whatever. But at this particular point in time He led me to write out a contract in which I thanked Him for all that He had done for me through His blood, through the power of the Holy Spirit, through His word. That He had taken me and transformed me. And then I said in recognition of all that God has done for me I give Him permission to do anything He wants to with the rest of my life. And I left the term blank and I left the rest of the page blank and signed my name at the bottom. It was four months later that I fell and injured my back and about seven months later that Derek came along. And I didn’t know that that was in the contract. He keeps on giving me more things that I don’t know were in the contract—including standing up and speaking to you people here in New Zealand.
But at the time Derek and I were married in l978, Derek was a traveling minister who sold books and tapes and mainly in the United States. He had a staff of about a dozen people in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. And we were married with the expectation that we would spend a good portion of our time in Israel because Derek felt the Lord was calling him to the Jewish people, to Israel. Well, God really fooled us because since we had been married, this ministry has exploded. He began a radio broadcast just after we were married, just a few months afterwards, that was mainly aimed at the United States. We started with eight stations and a budget of about $8,000 a month. We didn’t know where that was coming from. And now, 8 years later, that ministry circles the globe in six languages. In three Chinese languages, in Russian, in Spanish and in English. Potentially we could reach half of the world’s population with the radio outreach and the literature and tape outreach. And Derek and I travel. Sometime I think it’s continuously. We have a base in Fort Lauderdale, our ministry base there. We now have about 35 workers and we have branches in many parts of the world. We didn’t do that. God did. When we arrived here in New Zealand just over two years ago, when we got to our hotel room there was a little note for us with the letterhead at the top saying “Derek Prince Ministries New Zealand.” We didn’t do that. The Lord arranged that. And the ministry has grown and our responsibility has grown.
Right now we’re on a journey around the world that is taking us in all five months. And we’re covering 36,000 miles. More and more we’re going to the Third World countries, countries that can’t support us but who need to hear the truth about Jesus. Especially now we’ll be going on to Moslem countries, to Indonesia and Malaysia.
So, what I want to conclude with is I didn’t plan my life. But every time that I had said to the Lord, “Take me and take me where I am now Lord, and take me on,” He has taken me at my word and He has opened up doors of outreach far beyond anything I would have ever dreamed of. I thought I would spend the rest of my life on kibbutz on Israel and here I am traveling with my husband around the world. And being able to be apart of a ministry that is reaching the globe. I can’t preach like Derek, I can’t unfold the scriptures the way he does. But I can pray for him and I can support him in every way. And I just want to encourage you—I started to say young people but, goodness, I was 40 when I began. So, whatever age you are, don’t hesitate to say yes to the Lord.
I forgot. I was going to mention to you that this tape here, “The Pathway of Commitment” is the detail of the commitments that God has taken me through. It’s also on video. I shared this with Pacific Asian Christian University in Hawaii two years ago. That’s the first time I had ever done anything just like that, to speak to such a group of people. When I finished, one of the leaders came and said, “I believe that we have all been challenged to make a fresh commitment.” I was so humbled because every single person there, students and staff and faculty, stood and recommitted their lives to the Lord. So if you want a challenge, I recommend my tape. I only have three tapes. And this—in fact, it has two of mine on it. One is my testimony and then “The Pathway of Commitment” and the other one is Derek’s personal testimony. Thank you.
I’m going to carry straight on where Ruth left off, I’m going to bring you a message that’s directly related to what you’ve heard Ruth testify about, “The Call of God.” God’s call is something that we can’t command. We don’t dictate to Him, the initiative is with Him. The New Testament tells us that God’s call is holy, it’s heavenly, it’s an upward call. It’s as though our lives are on a horizontal plane but God’s call is vertical. It’s something that comes from heaven and bisects our lives. And our life before that call is quite different from what our life becomes after that call.
The New Testament speaks a great deal about the call of God. I want to take just some simple central truths about God’s call and apply them to all of us here tonight. And what I say applies as much to me, who is the preacher, as to you who are the congregation.
In Romans 1, in the first 7 verses, Paul speaks of a call of God three times. In Romans 1:1 he says his own description of himself:
“A servant of Jesus Christ called to be an apostle.”
Called to be an apostle. And then in writing to the Romans, the Christians there, he says in verse 6:
“Among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ.”
And then when he actually gets to the salutation in verse 7 he says:
“To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.”
So three times in the opening verses of Romans Paul emphasizes the fact that our relationship with God depends on the call of God. If God did not call, we would have no relationship.
I want to look together with you briefly at how Jesus began to call his disciples. We’ll turn to Matthew 4:18–22. One thing I want to emphasize tonight is the sovereignty of God. Sovereignty is a kind of theological word. I interpret it this way, it means God does what He wants when He wants the way He wants, and He asks no one’s permission. I think one of the great truths of scripture which has been largely neglected in this present generation is the sovereignty of God. I think we need to come back to that because until we appreciate and honor God’s sovereignty, there are a lot of ways in which we can’t relate to God as we should.
So here’s the description of how Jesus called the first apostles. Matthew 4:18:
“Now Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’”
Notice the brevity of what He says. Follow me. He didn’t waste a lot of words, he didn’t use a lot of persuasion, didn’t do a lot of explaining. He just challenged them directly. Follow me.
And He left them with just two possibilities. To follow or not to follow. As I say, their lives were bisected at that moment. Something came from the heavenly realm and they could never be the same again. They could be much better or they could go downhill and become worse, but they could not ever be the same again.
“Then they immediately left their nets and followed him.”
They responded to His call. God doesn’t always do a lot of explaining when He calls. He’s God. And when He confronts us He just tells us what He expects us to do.
Then it says in verse 21:
“Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. And he called them.”
Notice the simplicity of it, he called them.
“And immediately they left the boat, [their means of livelihood] and their father, [their family ties] and followed him.”
Very simple. Not complicated, not theological, not religious; just intensely practical.
It’s rather interesting, first of all, to notice that the first four men Jesus called were fishers, fishermen. I’ve never been a fisherman but I think I understand the wisdom of God in some measure. Fishermen are a race apart. Some of you here undoubtedly are fishermen. They are fanatics. I mean, they don’t care about the weather, whether fish bite or don’t bit really doesn’t matter to them. They’ll sit on the bank of the river in the rain, covered with some kind of umbrella, and just gaze at the water. Ruth and I go for walks sometimes and we pass them. I say, “Ruth, the fish aren’t biting.” She says that doesn’t matter, they’re fishermen. Circumstances don’t bother them, discouragement doesn’t affect them; they’ve got a vision for fish.
I really believe Christians should be like that. I’m quite serious when I say I think the Lord knew what He was doing when the first four men He called were all fishermen. It’s interesting to notice two of them were casting their nets and two of them were mending their nets. I think that also is a kind of picture of the two great activities of the apostolic ministry. Casting the net is proclaiming the gospel to the people who need to hear it. But mending the net is keeping the church in good order. You see, it isn’t much good casting a net that’s got holes in it because the fish will swim in and out. I think a lot of evangelization these days is casting a net with holes in it. We get a lot of fish that swim in but a lot of them swim out again because we haven’t mended our nets. We haven’t restored our relationships, we are not rightly related to one another as Christians and the people come in and say, “If that’s what Christians are like I don’t think I want this,” and they swim out again.
The second thing I want to point out to you which is closely related is Jesus never called for volunteers. This is so contrary to the thinking of contemporary Christians. In face, when volunteers came He discouraged them. It was His choice, not man’s volunteering. Look, I’ll give you a little picture in Luke 9:57–62. This is three volunteers.
In the British Army, which I adorned by my presence for five and a half years in World War II, they would say, “Three volunteers: you, you and you”, so that solved that. They weren’t really volunteers, they had learned the scriptural principle.
All right. Verse 57:
“Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Jesus, ‘Lord, I will follow you wherever you go.’”
You would have thought Jesus got excited and said, “Wonderful! I really need you.” Jesus never talked like that.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay His head.’ Then He said to another, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.’”
There was no way to put off the call of God, you understand. When Jesus said now, tomorrow wasn’t good enough. It was totally authoritative, totally sovereign. There’s no room for compromise on the part of those whom He called.
And then the third example:
“Another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow you, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
See the authority, the sovereignty, the challenge of the call of God?
I grew up in the Anglican Church in Britain and I was a member of it for the first part of my life. I’m not criticizing the Anglican Church, I did all the things that I was supposed to do. But I never found reality in my own life. I think if I were to look back I would say if I had to criticize, the problem was they never really challenged me. They made it pretty easy. Well, you don’t have to do much but you have to do this. And you know, I didn’t know my own heart, but what I was looking for was a challenge. And the first time I was confronted by the challenge of Jesus, I responded with a total response. I suspect there are some of you here this evening who haven’t been too excited by conventional religion and you’re not fully satisfied and you really don’t know what it is that would satisfy you. But I want to suggest to you it’s the challenge of the unequivocal, uncompromising call of God. So if that comes to you, don’t let negative impressions from professing Christians keep you back from the excitement of responding to God.
Now, what does it entail? I’ll tell you in one simple word. Everything. Let’s look at some of the statements of what it means to be called of God and to obey. In Matthew 10:34–39, Jesus said:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth: I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
There’s no compromise in our commitment to Jesus. No other human being, no matter how closely related, can take precedence over our commitment to Him.
“And he who does not take his cross, and follow after me, is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Those are very clear uncompromising words.
And then again in Matthew 16:24–25:
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’”
Again, there is nothing between the two. You can save your life, hold onto it, keep it for yourself, please yourself, make your own plans, do what you want to do; but you lose your life. Or you can lose your life, lay it down; and you’ll find another life. But you cannot find the other life until you’ve lost the first life. And, generally speaking, I think Ruth’s testimony is a good example, God doesn’t bargain. He doesn’t say, “Well, if you give God this, I’ll give you that.” He just says, “Follow me.” That’s all.
And then again in Luke 14:26–27 and then verse 33.
“If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
Notice He says cannot. He doesn’t say it’s difficult but it could be done, He says it’s impossible.
And then in verse 33 of the same chapter:
“So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has, cannot be my disciple.”
Very clear. It’s total commitment. No reservations, no other person takes precedence over Jesus. When He said that we have to hate father and mother and other relatives, He means only in this sense that anything that would tempt us from our total commitment to Jesus we have to take a total stand against no matter how close it may be to us in the natural.
And then one other passage along the same line in John 12:24–26.
“Most assuredly I say to you, ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me, and where I am there my servant will be also. If anyone serves me, him my Father will honor.’”
Again, the same message consistently. A life to lose and then a life to find. But you cannot find the new life until you’ve lost the old. And that’s faith. There’s no bargaining with God. “God, if I give up this job you’ll get me a better one.” “God, if I step out in faith you’ll do this or that.” God doesn’t bargain.
I’d like to just make that very simple and practical by outlining four steps in following Jesus that all come out of the verses that we’ve just read. First of all, you have to deny yourself. That’s not complicated. We all know what to deny is, it’s to say no. So to deny yourself is to say no to yourself. Self says, “I want, I’d like, I wish, I think.” Denying self says, “No. It’s not what you want, it’s not what you wish, it’s not what you think; it’s what God says.” That’s the first step. It includes, if necessary, turning our back on the closest human relationship, closest family and friends. It also means turning our back on all material possessions, our employment, whatever it might be, our material security in this life.
One of the reasons why I asked Ruth to give her testimony first is that it’s such a clear testimony. God asked her to give up her job. Then He asked her to give up all her possessions and her home. But every time she took the right step she found something in its place. I don’t want to discourage you but I just want to make it very clear to you.
The second thing you have to do after you’ve denied yourself is take up your cross. The cross, there are two definitions of your cross. One is it’s the place where you die. It’s the place of your own execution. You don’t have to take it up, it’s your decision. God doesn’t impose the cross on you. He says if you wish you may take it up. Jesus went to the cross voluntarily. And if we follow Him we go voluntarily. We go to the place that’s appointed for our death, the end of the old life.
The other definition of the cross is that it’s the place where your will and God’s will cross. And there’s always a place in discipleship where you have to say like Jesus, “Not my will but yours be done.”
The third step is to become a seed that falls into the ground. Jesus said a grain of wheat that remains alone never brings forth fruit. But a grain of wheat that is dropped into the ground, goes down below the surface, and is lost to sight and buried; something happens there in the moist earth. I’m not farmer, some of you probably are. But the moisture gradually breaks down that hard shell and exposes the seed to the nourishment of the soil. And after a while a new green shoot comes up out of the soil. That’s the new life. But Jesus said unless the seed is first dropped into the ground, goes beneath the surface, is buried and is exposed to that breaking down process, there will never be a new life out of it.
This has been so vivid to me. Perhaps I could put it to you this way. Just for a moment think of your life as a seed, a grain that you’re holding in the palm of your hand. And you say, “You’re mine, you belong to me, I control you, I can do whatever I want with you.” But, as long as you maintain control and hold it in your hand it remains alone. And you know what I’ve discovered in our contemporary society and culture? There are so many lonely people. One reason why they’re lonely is they’ve held on to the seed. It’s still yours. You’re in control. But you can be very lonely.
The other thing you can do is say I’ll give up control, I’ll let it go. It’s my life but I’ll let it go. I’ll let it fall into the ground, I’ll let it be buried, go down below the surface. People may even walk over it. If you do that, God promises out of that seed you’ve dropped there will come a new life. It’s related to the seed but it’s quite different from the seed that you’ve dropped.
Those are the three first steps. Deny yourself, take up your cross, become a seed that falls into the ground. The fourth step is the exciting one. It’s find a new life. A life that you can never find any other way. You’re shut off from that life which is the life God has planned for you, the life for which God has created you. But the only way you can go is through those steps: deny yourself, take up your cross, fall into the ground and let God do what you cannot do.
One of the key words in the Bible is grace. As it’s used in the Bible, it’s supernatural. It’s what God can do when we come to the end of our own ability. As long as we can do it we don’t need God’s grace. When we come to the end of all that we can do, that’s where God’s grace begins. So when we’ve dropped the seed into the ground and left it, taken our hands off it, we open the way for God’s supernatural grace to do with it what only He can do.
Let me say a little to you about the new life. I just want to say three important things. First of all, the motivation of the new life is to do the will of God. That was the motivation of Jesus Himself. He said, “My food is to do the will of God, finish the work that He gave me.” And in 1John 2:17, John speaks about the one who does the will of God. He contrasts that with everything that this world has to offer. And he says in 1John 2:17:
“The world is passing away, and the lust of it...”
All its desires, all its ambitions, all the things that it grasps for and strives after; they’re all temporary. They’re all going to pass away. Is that true? Isn’t that true? Very seldom are we willing to face that fact. But when we do it’s obviously true. But there’s a but.
“... but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
That’s the difference. You see, when you renounce your own will, when you say no to yourself and meet the conditions, and unite your will with God’s will, you become as powerful, as undefeatable as the will of God. In the last resort, God’s will is going to be done. You become identified with His will. You’re unsinkable, you’re undefeatable, you’re going to last forever. Isn’t that exciting? He that does the will of God abides forever. I invite you to say that with me. “He that does the will of God abides forever.” Once more. “He that does the will of God abides forever.”
Now let’s change it just a little bit and make it personal like this. Listen to me once. “If I do the will of God I will abide forever.” All right, are you ready? “If I do the will of God I will abide forever.” That was good, we’ll do it once more with real conviction this time. “If I do the will of God I will abide forever.” All right, that’s the first mark of the new life, it’s a life that’s united to the will of God. It has in it all the strength and the undefeatable confidence of God’s own will.
Secondly, the new life is directed by the Holy Spirit. Let’s look at just one brief scripture in Romans 8:14.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
It’s all a continuing present tense. As many as are regularly led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. You see, when you receive Jesus as your personal savior by faith, you are born of the Spirit of God. You become a little infant in God’s family. But to grow up into a mature son, there’s a further process. It’s being led by the Spirit of God. Many, many Christians who have been born again have never learned to be led by the Spirit of God. But as many as are regularly led by the Spirit of God, they become sons of God, they become mature, they grow up, they find God’s purpose and destiny in their life.
And so this new life is not keeping a set of rules, it’s not primarily going to church. All these things may be important. But the essence of the new life is a personal relationship with a person. And that person is the Holy Spirit. You let the Holy Spirit take you by your hand and lead you. He knows the way. He knows the dangers. He knows the pitfalls. You’re secure when you’re led by Him. You don’t have to rely on your own cleverness or your own strength. You’ve got a supernatural friend by your side who leads you, who knows the way and who can take you in it.
The third aspect of this new life is that the provision for it comes from God. Once you’ve surrendered yourself to God in obedience to His call, He accepts responsibility for you. I could illustrate this from the British Army, though in many ways the British Army is not a pattern of God. When I got into the British Army, I mean, I was conscripted. I’m not saying I enlisted. But anyhow, I ended up in the British Army in September, l940. For the next five and a half years I didn’t have to worry about what I wore or plan where I would go or plan what I would eat. My pay in those days, believe it or not, was two English shillings a day, which nobody in New Zealand today could fathom how little that was. But we never starved, we didn’t have to pay for our food. We never had to buy our clothes. The army was always responsible to provide us with somewhere to sleep. For about two years it didn’t provide me with much better than the North African desert but at least there was the desert, and some kind of covering for night. I’m not saying it was all a picnic but with all its limitations, the army accepted responsibility for every soldier.
Now, when you commit yourself to God’s will without reservation, God becomes responsible to provide for you. There are many of here that can testify this. When I stepped out of the British Army and became a disciple of Jesus Christ to the full, I married a lady who had a children’s home just north of Jerusalem. The same day that I married I became adoptive father to eight girls. That’s a large family. We went through the war that marked the birth of the State of Israel. We were right in the middle of the war. Our house was about one quarter of a mile from the front line when there was a front line. And we’ve moved from country to country and place to place. We’ve faced dangers, privations, opposition; but all through it God has consistently provided.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:33:
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
See, the world goes about to grab them. The world makes them [things, food, clothing, money, houses, cars and all that] its objective. But in this new life you make the will of God your objective and God adds these things. That saves a lot of worry if you know that God is adding.
Now some of you can say that sounds almost too good to be true. Well, first of all, it’s the promise of Jesus Himself. He never deceived. Secondly, there are thousands and thousands of servants of the Lord around the earth today who will testify from personal experience it’s true, it works. God is as good as His word. I want to testify to that. I have, to the best of my ability by the grace of God, sought first the kingdom of God in my life and God has provided and provided and provided. I tell ministers sometimes when they become too spiritual, the Church Board relieves them of their job. I’ve met many such. I say don’t worry, God is more generous than Church Boards. He’ll take care of you when they wouldn’t. It’s not true of all Church Boards but believe me, God cares for those who commit their lives to Him.
I’d like to give you just one other beautiful scripture. Mark 10:29–30. Well, we could read verse 28 because characteristically it was a question by Peter that brought forth this answer from Jesus.
“Peter began to say, ‘See, we have left all and followed you.’ So Jesus answered and said, ‘Assuredly I say to you, there is no one who has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecution [don’t leave that out]...’”
Jesus was so honest, He’ll never give us an unreal picture.
“‘...in this age; and in the age to come eternal life.’”
So Jesus says in due course, whatever you’ve given up will be given back to you multiplied many times over. Not just in the next world—thank God for the next world and what awaits us there—but in this world. I can look to you know and say I’ve proved it true. When God called me to the land of Israel and the Jewish people first and then to the nations of the world, I actually can say I forsook everything. I didn’t do it in a dramatic way, God just put me in a situation where to obey Him I had to. I gave up my own country, which was Britain, and settled in a foreign land. I gave up my family. Not in the sense that I was alienated from them but their claims came second to the claims of Jesus in my life. One of the closest members of my family to me was my grandfather because as boy I’d been cared for for quite a long while by my grandparents while my father was still serving with the British Army in India. My grandfather was dying of cancer. The British Army owed me a passage from the Middle East to England. I had every claim. God said to me, “I’ve called you and now is the time.” And I had to say I’m not coming home. My grandfather died without seeing me again. He was a believer, I know where he is. That was difficult. The Lord said neither father, nor mother, nor any relative must come between my claims and you.
I had a position at Cambridge University, I was a fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. It was a very distinguished academic position. At the end of World War II, the college authorities wrote to me and said, “If you come back we’ll give you this and this and this position.” I was not very tactful. I wrote back and said, “I’ve become a Christian, I’m not coming.” I could have said it a lot better but anyhow, I turned that down.
The money that I had which I had received some from various members of my family, I had an insurance policy, when our home moved from where we were living outside Jerusalem into Jerusalem in l946, we had to put down all the money we possessed to get into that house. So I gave up my money. There was nothing, actually, of any significance in my life that did not turn my back on. I want you to know this wasn’t some grand dramatic gesture, it was just step by step obedience to the claims of the Lord.
Well, as our brother pointed out earlier about the question of retirement, suppose I’d become a professor at Cambridge University, age 65, what would have happened? I would have retired. Sit somewhere in a little cottage with a rather moderate pension. Here I am 71 years old, traveling the world, strong, active, leading a life that’s challenging and exciting. I wouldn’t trade my life with anybody. Not with the royal family, not with any prime minister. It’s the life God appointed for me.
See, it’s tailored for me. He made me for this life and this life for me. I would be a misfit anywhere else but in the life that God planned for me. But to find that life, first and foremost, I had to lose the other life. I just want to tell you God is faithful. That’s all I can say. I’ve said many times, it’s in print, if I were asked to leave a personal testimony to posterity, I would say it in three words: God is faithful.
Now tonight the Spirit of God is here, He’s very personal, He’s not just an abstract influence. He has been speaking to some of you. Maybe He’ll be speaking further to others. I’m not calling for volunteers tonight. But I want to speak to those of you who feel that God through the Holy Spirit has said, “Follow me. Give your life to me for my service.” I want you to ponder that just for a few moments quietly. Just shut yourself in with the Lord. If God has something to say to you, be willing to hear it. You maybe came to this meeting without any anticipation of God claiming you for His service. But that was like Andrew and Peter, they were just there casting their net and Jesus walked past and said, “Follow me.” Another situation I didn’t read, there was Matthew, a Levite, sitting in the tax receipt office. And Jesus preached the shortest sermon ever preached, He said, “Follow me.” And he left the security of that job, the prestige and followed him.
Basically speaking, God’s call is usually unexpected. And one thing I can tell you is if He calls, you have no right to demand that He will call again. I know when God called me I was very ignorant of spiritual things, but I knew one thing, I had no right to expect that He would call twice. And I responded the first time.
So now if there are those of you here tonight who feel God has laid His hand on you and said, “Follow me into whatever kind of life I’m going to lead you,” without reservation I recommend you to respond. I’m going to give you an opportunity to do so. If you want to respond to that invisible hand of God that’s tapped you on the shoulder, and that inaudible voice that’s spoken in your ear, this is your personal response, it’s nothing I’m trying to persuade you to do. But you would miss God’s purpose for your life if you walked out of here tonight without making a response. I want to suggest you make a very simple, personal response. Don’t worry about the people around about you. But in order to make that response just stand to your feet right where you are and say, “God, here I am. Send me.” Don’t be motivated by other people, it’s got to be your personal decision. What you’re saying is, “God, here I am. Send me.” Young or old, it’s not a question of age, it’s a question of your heart relationship and attitude to the Lord.
I tell you, there are many retired people today, retired by the world’s standards who could be extremely valuable in the kingdom of God. They have experience, they have maturity. Often they have a certain measure of financial provision. They can fill vitally important positions in the work of the Lord today. Don’t ever write yourself off as being too old. Nor as being too young. I think of the little boy Samuel in the temple when Eli called. If there are others that want to stand, we’re not going to prolong this. Because of Ruth giving her testimony tonight and because we pray so much together, I’m going to ask her to come and join with me in praying for those of you who are standing.
First of all, I would like you to make a very, very simple response to the Lord. We don’t need to say a lot of words. I would just like you to say to the Lord direct, “Here I am. Send me.” Just say that just loud enough to hear yourself. Know that you’ve said it. “Here I am. Send me.” Say it once more. “Here I am. Send me.”
Now we’re going to pray for all of you who are standing.
“Father, we want to thank you for your Spirit here tonight, for the open hearts of your people, for the way you’re moving and working, Lord. Lord, I want to stand back. I don’t want to get in your way. Holy Spirit, move in to everyone who’s made that commitment. We just offer them up to you. Father, in the name of Jesus, may they be yours, totally yours from this night forward. Lay your hand upon them, guide them, show them your way and work out your will. For your glory, Lord, in Jesus’ name.”
And all God’s people say amen. God bless you. Remember now, expect to be led by the Holy Spirit. If I may say it, in a certain sense, expect the unexpected. Get out of the rut and see what will happen. It’s going to be exciting. Bless you.