“Lord, bend that proud and stiffnecked “I,” Help me to bow the neck and die, Beholding Him on Calvary, Who bowed His Head for me.”
The following are some of the features and manifestations of the self-life. The Holy Spirit alone can interpret and apply this to your individual case. As you read, examine yourself in the very presence of God. Are you ever conscious of:
A secret spirit of pride-an exalted feeling in view of your success or position; because of your good training or appearance; because of your natural gifts and abilities. An important, independent spirit?
Love of human praise; a secret fondness to be noticed; love of supremacy, drawing attention to self in conversation; a swelling out of self when you have had a free time in speaking or praying?
The stirrings of anger or impatience, which, worst of all, you call nervousness or holy indignation; a touchy, sensitive spirit; a disposition to resent and retaliate when disapproved of or contradicted; a desire to throw sharp, heated flings at another?
Self-will; a stubborn, unteachable spirit; an arguing, talkative spirit; harsh, sarcastic expression; an unyielding, headstrong disposition; a driving, commanding spirit; a disposition to criticize and pick flaws when set aside and unnoticed; a peevish, fretful spirit; a disposition that loves to be coaxed and humored?
Carnal fear; a man-fearing spirit; a shrinking from reproach and duty; reasoning around your cross; a shrinking from doing your whole duty by those of wealth or position; a fearfulness that someone will offend and drive some prominent person away; a compromising spirit?
A jealous disposition, a secret spirit of envy shut up in your heart; an unpleasant sensation in view of the great prosperity and success of another; a disposition to speak of the faults and failings, rather than the gifts and virtues of those more talented and appreciated than yourself?
A dishonest, deceitful disposition; the evading and covering of the truth; the covering up of your real faults; leaving a better impression of yourself than is strictly true; false humility; exaggeration; straining the truth?
Unbelief; a spirit of discouragement in times of pressure and opposition; lack of quietness and confidence in God; lack of faith and trust in God; a disposition to worry and complain in the midst of pain, poverty, or at the dispensations of Divine Providence; an overanxious feeling whether everything will come out all right?
Formality and deadness; lack of concern for lost souls; dryness and indifference?
Selfishness; love of ease; love of money?
These are some of the traits which generally indicate carnality in the heart. By prayer, hold your heart open to the searchlight of God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalms 139:23-24).
The Holy Spirit will enable you, by confession and faith, to bring your “self-life” to the death (Romans 8:12-13). Do not patch over, but go to the bottom. It alone will pay.
Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord, Oh, to be lost in Thee; Oh, that it might be no more I, But Christ that lives in me. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
~ Poem by Roy Hession author of ‘The Calvary Road’
I want to speak today on grace and power in the Holy Spirit. I want to begin with the first promise in the New Testament. Yesterday I mentioned, that when we come to the Word of God, if we don’t come with an open mind, we may not see new truths. We’ll see the old truths again and again, and perhaps new illustrations to explain the old truths. But if I come to God’s Word thinking that I’ve already understood everything God has to show me, I can miss something new God has for me. And one of the things I decided many years ago was that I’d always let God change my thinking if there was something I had not understood properly, that He would correct it and lead me into that, which was correct; that He’d help me to understand His ways, even if it brought me into conflict with a lot of, what is known as Christianity.
Now you’ve got to be willing to pay that price… if God sees in any of our hearts, the desire to find security in people around us and not in Him alone, He won’t lead us on. If He sees in us a slight desire to please someone……do you know what the Word of God says? “If I seek to please men, I cannot be the servant of Christ.” So I want to invite you, to open your minds, as you hear and say, “Lord, show me, is this your Word or not? Correct my thinking. Lead me, in the path which is right.” And let God convince you. Very often when I speak to people, they say, “Yes, I’m gripped….” And I say, “Hang on. You’re convinced because I said it. And you’ve got some respect for me. Take that before God. You got it second-hand from me. Take it before God and make it first-hand. Let Him convince you from His Word. And then you’ll never shake.”
Okay, the first promise in the New Testament, is found in Matthew 1, in verse 21. The very first promise in the New Testament, where the angel told Joseph that this little baby that is going to be born to Mary, “His name shall be called Jesus,” because, “He will save His people from their sins.” That’s the first promise in the New Testament. “He will save His people from their sins.” And that’s why His name is Jesus. Many people who use the name Jesus don’t know why He is called Jesus. Here the angel explains it. “His name shall be called Jesus because He will save His people from their sins.” Now we use the word “save” very frequently. And very often, we equate being “saved” with being forgiven. Now that’s not true. And that’s the distinction I want to make here. This is a new covenant. As soon as you come to this, the previous page says, New Testament. It’s a new covenant. This is something new! Which they didn’t have in the Old Testament. They had forgiveness in Old Testament. Psalm 103, a thousand years before Christ was born, David said, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and forget not all His benefits; One who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who crowns your life with good things….” That’s material blessing. They had forgiveness from sins, healing from sickness, material blessing, in the Old Testament. What they didn’t have, was being Saved from sin. That’s why the New Testament begins, with this as the very first promise. This is the distinctive feature of the New Covenant! David could not say, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, who saves me from sin in my life….” No…He could only say “God forgives me.” What is the difference of me being forgiven and being saved from sin? Now very often when we talk about being saved, we talk about being saved from the wrath of God. That’s in a moment, when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. Without any works… “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling…” That’s the only way to be saved from the wrath of God. That is salvation from the penalty of sin.
But now there is another salvation, from the power of sin. And that’s what it’s speaking of here. One day in the future, we’ll be saved from the presence of sin, altogether. That’s future. But right now, in between the time I was born-again, and the time Jesus comes again, I am to be saved from the power of sin. That’s what’s being spoken of here. To use a illustration – If my little five-year old son was going outside the house, and I said, “Son, be careful, they’re digging up the road there, they made a big, huge eight-foot pit there and don’t go anywhere near it.” And like little boys are, they disobey. And he falls into the pit and says, “Daddy!” And I come running and I say, “What’s the matter son?” And he says, “Well Daddy, I’m sorry, I disobeyed you.” He’s there in the pit… And I say, “Okay son, you’re forgiven, goodbye.” I want to ask you a question. Have I forgiven him? Have I saved him? That’s the difference. That’s the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
In the Old Covenant, they were forgiven, but they will still in the pit. They had to keep offering sacrifices everyday. But now with One Sacrifice, it says, it’s all over. We cannot only be forgiven, we can be saved. “You shall call His name, “Jesus”, because, it’s not He will forgive their sins, but “He will save His people, from their sins.” He will save His people from their dirty thoughts, and lustful thinking, and from their anger and from their bitterness against their wives and from jealousy and strife and every other form of evil. That’s why we call Him, Jesus! That’s the message of the New Covenant! And if you haven’t experienced it, it’s because the god of this world, the devil, has blinded our eyes, to the full gospel.
See, this is an expression that is used a lot in the world today, “Full Gospel”. People say we’re a “Full Gospel” Church. But what’s the full gospel? It’s being saved from our sins. It’s no use saying we’re a “Full Gospel” Church if people living inside there are still defeated by sin. Whatever gift of the Spirit they may have. Jesus came to save us from sin. That is the Full Good News. That I’m not only saved from the wrath of God, but I can be saved from this, wretched, sinful flesh of mine that has kept pulling me down, down, down, for so many years. You know, I have heard of a particular lunatic asylum, where they give a little test to see whether a man has come back to his senses or not. They put him in a room with a tap open, a faucet open, and the water flowing, and they give him a bucket and a mop to dry the floor. And if he tries to dry the floor without first closing the tap, they know he still needs to stay there a little longer. It’ll never end! He’ll be mopping the floor all his life! But you know, that’s what Christians do with the Blood of Jesus Christ. It never ends! We’re mopping, and mopping , and mopping….. well, that’s at least good news that we’ve got a mop and a bucket, but I want to say, the gospel is even better to use than that. God can do something about that “tap”. Otherwise, it really wouldn’t be “Good News”! If all that God could say to me was, “Well, you’re going to be forgiven, but you’re going to be defeated by the same old lusts, all your life.” I’d say, “Well, thank you Lord, but I’d hoped it would be better than that.” And it is better than that. “You shall call His name, “Jesus”, because He shall save His people from their sins.” The very first promise, as soon as you turn, to the pages of the New Testament. But we missed it! We thought it was all genealogy. “Somebody begat so and so, and somebody begat so and so…..” And you didn’t come to this verse. And you turned over, and rushed through. But this is the very first promise in the New Testament. Salvation from sin.
I want to turn to Hebrews in chapter 4, we read verse 15 and 16; “We don’t have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,…” In other words, to put it in a positive way, “We have a High Priest, who can sympathize with our weaknesses. Why? “…because He was tempted in all points, as we are, yet without sin.” Now I’m sure that God can sympathize with us, even without having become a man. Because He’s God. But, you know, we’d always feel, “Well you don’t really understand what I’m going through.” You know it’s like a really wealthy man, goes to a slum and says, “Well, I really feel sorry for you folks, and here’s a little money.” They’ll never feel that he understands what they’re going through. “He lives in his palace up there; he’s a multi-millionaire…what does he know about living in the slums?” He may be a sincere person. Very affectionate, very compassionate. But those people in the slums will never feel that he understands them. And that’s why God became a man. He came into this slum. That’s the Good News. He loved us so much. That He came into this filthy slum, and lived here, and….. Wonder of Wonders; “He was tempted in all points,” as you and I are. I remember the first time my eyes were open to this truth. And interestingly enough, it was about fifteen years after I was born again. You know, Jesus once spoke about the ladder that Jacob saw. Jacob once had a dream where he saw a ladder going up to Heaven and the angels of God descending and ascending upon that ladder, and in John chapter 1 when Jesus spoke to Nathaniel, He said that that ladder was Himself. He said, “I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” And I always thought that that ladder, which came all the way from Heaven, stopped a little short, of down at my level. I thought, “Jesus couldn’t possibly have come right down to my level, to be like me…” And the day my eyes were open to that glorious truth, that, like it says in Hebrews 2:17, “He had to be made like His brothers, in all things.” He became like me. I wept tears of joy. I said, “Lord, I never knew you loved me so much. I never knew, that you loved me, to become exactly like me, to lift me from the pit in which I was. That last rung of the ladder came all the way down to earth. It didn’t stop, some ten feet above me. Now many people can’t think of that; that Jesus could become just like me. That He could be tempted just like me. They feel it robs Him of some of His glory. It’s not true. I live in a country that’s had a lot of Godly missionaries that have come from Western countries, including the United States, and I praise God for Godly men and women who’ve come there, and who’ve sacrificed and suffered for people in my country. And I’ve said to people in our land, I said, “Supposing a missionary from the United States where they live in such great comfort, comes to our land and lives in a five-star hotel, and visits the slum everyday, and preaches the gospel…well, that still would be a sacrifice. But think of another missionary who comes from a similar wealthy background and comes and lives in that slum. Whom would you admire more? Would you despise this person because he lived in the slum? No.” The glory of Jesus became greater, when I saw that He became just like me. And that He was tempted like me, on every single point…..I wouldn’t believe it, if it were not written in scripture, and He didn’t sin. Now I don’t want to try and analyze that. I just want to find the comfort I get from that. That when I’m tempted, I could now say, “Lord Jesus, sometime in your walk in Nazareth, in those thirty years you were tempted just like I am being tempted right now. Give me the grace to react and resist this temptation the way you did, when you walked in Nazareth.” You know in the Old Testament, the Old Covenant/New Covenant differences, the many differences, one of them is this: The Old Covenant was full of commandments, “Thou shalt….Thou shalt not….. Thou shalt…. Thou shalt not….” And so on. That was good. But in the New Covenant, God gave us an example, who said, “Follow Me..” Now supposing, none of you knew how to swim. And here I wanted to teach you how to swim, and there are two ways to teach you. One is to draw diagrams on the blackboard – how to move your hands and legs, and then say, “Okay fellows, go jump in the river now and remember what you saw on the blackboard……” That was the Old Covenant. Absolutely accurate – those diagrams were perfect! How to move our hands and how breathe in and out and everything….Wouldn’t it be better, the second method, where I say, “Come along with me to the river,” and I jump in and say, “Follow me”. That’s the New Covenant. That’s why Hebrews says the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant. Jesus never gave us a lot of commandments like Moses, He said, “Follow Me…I’ve been tempted like you…” There’s not a single temptation any of us can ever face, which He hasn’t faced, and He overcame; He never sinned! Now, we’ve got to read scripture carefully – It doesn’t say He faced all the circumstances we face; no…. He didn’t have a drunken father….He didn’t have a nagging wife….He didn’t have difficult children…. He didn’t face the temptations to impatience we face, with other drivers on the road. It’s the same in India by the way – it’s actually worse. We have cows and dogs and everyone on the road – and we’ve got a lot more patience then you all over here. He didn’t face our circumstances. The Bible doesn’t say; it’s not necessary. But the temptations that come in those circumstances – He faced them. You don’t have to face the same circumstances. The temptation to be irritated, the temptation to be impatient, the temptation to be angry; He faced them all, and He overcame. And He says, “Follow Me…..Look at my example”. And I want to say , in my personal testimony, in the last twenty-five years, since I saw this truth; And I’m sorry that it took me fifteen years after I was born again to see it; is when I am tempted, I say, “Lord, you were tempted like this, exactly like this…..” Maybe a temptation to compromise, maybe a temptation to please some man; it may be a temptation to lust, it may be a temptation to get angry, it may be a temptation to anything…..I go to Hebrews 4, “You were tempted like me and you didn’t sin. I want to do the same thing. I want to see your footsteps. And I want to plant my feet in your footsteps the way you walked in Nazareth.” And I want to tell you, it works.
Now I want to go to the next verse, Hebrews 4, verse 16, because it goes on from there. He says, “Therefore,” And like someone said, whenever you see a therefore in scripture, see what it is there for. What’s a therefore? Why does it say therefore? Because it’s connected to the previous verse. “Therefore, let us, (because we have a high priest, who can sympathize with us,)” who has walked this way, who was tempted like us, who became like us in everything, and who understands the struggle, who understands the need to resist sin unto blood, like it says in Hebrews 12:3, who faced such a great contradiction of sinners against Himself, Hebrews 12:3, 4. Let’s look unto Him and run this race. “Let us therefore draw near with great boldness, to the Throne of Grace, that we may receive mercy, and that we may find grace.” We need two things: Mercy and Grace.
Mercy is an Old Covenant word. You don’t find grace in the Old Covenant. Even in the one or two places where it says, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” What it means is he found favor. It’s not speaking about that grace which only came through Jesus Christ, according to John 1:17. There was no grace in the Old Testament. There are people who say grace means the “undeserved favor of God”. Now I beg to disagree with that definition, because everyone in the Old Testament got the undeserved favor of God. Nobody gets favor that they deserve. Every human being, right from Abel’s time, got undeserved favor. Grace means more than that. Mercy, that’s an Old Covenant word, it refers to forgiveness. Jesus never needed mercy. We need mercy. Because we’ve all sinned. The best of us have sinned, and we will probably sin until Jesus comes again, in one way or another – we could slip up anytime. We don’t have to, but we might and we often do. We need mercy; that’s the first thing we need when we come to God – mercy – that deals with our past. But we now need something that deals with our future, and that’s grace. Now for many years, I never knew the difference between mercy and grace; I thought these were just interchangeable words. I’ve discovered, they’re not interchangeable words. Mercy is Old Covenant and grace is New Covenant. We have mercy and grace in the New Covenant. And so, mercy, first of all, to blot out my past, so that the guilt of my past doesn’t hang over my head, mercy that justifies me , and justification is another word, which is more than forgiveness! I never understood the meaning of that for a long time. To be forgiven, that was wonderful, but to be justified…..And this is how the Lord showed that to me. It’s like I’m standing in a court, accused of thousands of wrongs, and crimes that I’ve committed, and the judge listens to all that the prosecutor has to say against me – the Law of God is the prosecutor. And I’m guilty of all of them. And the judge has mercy on me and says, “Okay, you’re forgiven.” I walk out, happy. But as I walk out, and as I see the crowd outside the courthouse, I walk out happy, but with my head hanging down, because I’m a criminal. I’m a murderer, an adulterer, a thief. That’s forgiveness, I’m forgiven, I’m free. I don’t have to go to jail. Now, consider another scenario. Here I am, standing before the judge, and he examines carefully, all the charges, he examines all the witnesses, and says, “These are all false charges! There’s nothing wrong with this person, he never did any of these things! He can go free.” This time I walk out of the court hall with my head lifted up. That’s the meaning of justification. It’s unbelievable! That God Almighty, against whom I’ve committed so many sins, could not only forgive me, but declare me righteous. Look upon me as though I’ve never sinned in all my life. It’s unbelievable, but it’s true! And if you believe it, you will say, “My glory and the lifter of my head!” That’s what God is! He lifts up our head. There’s no need for a single sinner forgiven by Jesus to walk with his head hanging down, no. We’re not only forgiven, we’re justified. And never forget that, brother and sister. Today God delights over us with shouts of joy! We’re forgiven, justified. But there’s more….. what about this flesh of mine? That’s always dragging me down, and down, and down. Is there an answer for that? There certainly is. God offers us grace. I want to go back for a moment to Matthew’s gospel again. We looked at the first promise in the New Testament. Do you know what the second promise in the New Testament is? That’s also interesting. The first promise is “He will save His people from their sins.” The second, Matthew 3:11, ” He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Do you know that the New Testament begins with two promises? The very first two promises of the New Covenant – don’t miss either of them. 1. “He will save His people from their sins.” And 2. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” And the devil has made sure he’s got people scared of both. If somebody talks about being saved from sin, “Oh – holiness, this is dangerous teaching, perfection”. Baptism of the Holy Spirit, “Oh – those are those fanatics who go do crazy things”. And what’s the result? He’s killed two birds with one stone. He’s got some people off on a fanatic extreme, and he’s got other people reacting to that, and not wanting this truth at all. I remember what God said to me once concerning different doctrines. What the Lord said to me was, “Don’t let your understanding of a doctrine, ever be a reaction to the extremes you see in certain Christians.” Get your understanding from God’s Word. Forget the extremes and the fanaticism that you see in others. Because I got turned off from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, because I saw a lot of fanaticism. I’m not a Pentecostal, I’m not a Charismatic, I never have been, I’ve never belonged to those churches. I always wanted to be a Christian, experiencing everything the New Testament offers. I remember once, when I was seeking God for this, I said, “Lord, I don’t want what I see around here. I want what Peter, James and John got on the day of Pentecost. I want that.” That’s the second promise of the New Testament. It’s for me. Let a million people go to the fanatic extremes; I’m not bothered! I get what God’s Word promises me, what Peter, James and John got on the Day of Pentecost, which transformed their lives and I said, “I want that. I want power.” And do you know the Holy Spirit is called a Spirit of Grace, in Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 29, He’s called a Spirit of Grace. And that is, grace comes to us through the Holy Spirit. What is baptism? Baptism is immersion, to be immersed in the Spirit of Grace. Why should anyone be afraid of that? That’s the very thing we need! I need an immersion! A drenching of the Spirit of Grace! There are two ways we can be immersed: One is, you go into a river, and the other is, a flood of water, falling down from Heaven. If I stand under a river flowing down, I can be drenched. And that’s what the Holy Spirit is….. The River of God, flows down from Heaven and I stand under it, and I get drenched, and it’s grace, all the way. Grace, Grace, Grace. And grace is not “Undeserved favor”. Grace is power . Now I want to show you that from scripture. I don’t want you to ever believe what I say if I cannot show it to you from scripture! 2 Corinthians , chapter 12. Paul says about a time in his life when God allowed him to suffer a thorn in the flesh. And he asked the Lord to take it away from him, and the Lord said to him, 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is perfected in weakness.” What is my grace? It’s my power. It’s the same thing. “My grace is enough for you because my grace, or in other words, my power, is made perfect in your weakness.” And Paul understood that. He says, “Well, then I’m okay. I’m alright because the power of Christ is going to rest on me.” That’s what grace is. And when God says , “My grace is sufficient for you,” what it means is, “My grace is sufficient to handle anything that you’ll ever face in your life.” If I send my son to the shop to buy something worth five dollars, I give him five dollars. But If I send him to the shop to buy something worth a hundred dollars, he can’t buy it with five dollars, he needs a hundred dollars. So I give him a hundred. That’s what it means when it says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Exactly according to what your need is. Is the pressure very great? Grace is going to be very great. Is it a hundred dollars you need? You’ll get that. My grace is sufficient for you. I praise God for this, that there will never be a situation, I ever face in life, where the Lord won’t give me enough to pay the bill. Praise the Lord for this! This is the Good News! There is no temptation that’s going to be too strong for me. There’s no giant in Canaan’s land, that’s not going to come under my feet. Not one. Sin shall not have dominion over you, because you are not under law, but are under grace! You’re not under the Old Covenant, you’re under the New Covenant. You’re not just one receiving mercy, but you’re receiving grace. I want to show you another verse. It’s not so well known, unfortunately, as , “My grace is sufficient for you.” “My grace is sufficient for you” has been popularized throughout the world. It’s a very famous verse on grace. But I’ve discovered another verse, which is a much fuller statement on grace, and I think it’s the most wonderful statement on grace in the whole Bible. I don’t know how many of you have noticed it, in 2 Corinthians 9:8, it says here that “God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always, having all sufficiency, in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” Here are seven times, you get a picture of totality, do you notice that? All grace, abound, always, all sufficiency, everything, abundance, every good deed. I’ve never seen a verse like this in the whole Bible. Seven times! All grace, is going to abound to you! Always, not just sufficiency, but all-sufficiency. Not just in most things, in every thing. And, for every good deed, He’s going to give me two-hundred dollars, when I need only a hundred. An abundance! This is the Gospel! That’s why a Christian is to be an over comer, in every situation.
You know, how Ephesians 6 describes the Christian? Beautiful! Ephesians 6:13, it says, “Having overcome everything, you’ll be able to resist in the evil day, having overcome everything, to stand firm.” No matter what the situation – sister, are all your six children sick at the same time? “God is able to make all grace abound towards you, that always , having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” for all those six children, and still be able to greet your husband with a happy face when he comes home from work. That’s grace. Is it possible? No? Well, according to your faith, be it unto you. But if you say, “YES!” According to your faith, be it unto you. The answer is the same. I think of that story, where two blind men went to Jesus, and Jesus asked them, you know the story, in Matthew chapter 9, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, and they said, “We want our eyes to be open.” And then he asked them a question, “Do you believe, that I am able to do this for you?” He didn’t ask them, “Do you believe that if you just try a little harder, you could see a little bit?” That’s not what He asked them. “Do you believe that if you just try a little harder, you could overcome that sin?” That’s not what He’s asking! That’s like asking a blind man, “Can you just try, try opening one eye just a little bit, see if you can see a little?” That’s not the gospel. Do you believe that Jesus said that, “I am able to do this for you.” It’s got nothing to do with your ability. It’s got to do with whether you are willing to let Jesus do a work in your life or not. And I’ve thought, one blind man goes first into the room and he says, “Well, Lord, I mean, I’ll be happy if you’ll open just one eye. That will be enough for me, I could see the road and I could walk around and I believe that you can open one eye.” And the Lord says to him, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” And he goes out with one eye open, and he’s so happy! Now the other blind man goes in, and the Lord asks him, “Do you believe I can do this for you?” He says, “Sure! I want both eyes open!” And He says, “According to your faith, be it unto you.” And He goes out with two eyes open. Now you have these two blind men. And now this first man says, “Hey, this is heresy! Jesus opens only one eye…..how in the world did you get two eyes open?” Does Jesus give forgiveness and victory? No! Only one eye. And he starts the One Eye Denomination. And he gets a whole lot of people who have faith that Jesus can open one eye, in that church. And here’s this other one, it’s usually smaller, of a few people, who’ve got both eyes open, and they are dubbed as heretics and false teachers, because they preach that Jesus opens two eyes. This is what’s happened for two thousand years.
Now I want to say to you, brothers and sisters, you can have your choice – which one you want to join. According to your faith; not according to Jesus’ ability, No….. If it were according to Jesus’ ability, we’d all have both eyes open! But it’s according to your faith, be it unto you. For years, I belonged to the One Eye Denomination; after I was born-again, I was on my way to heaven, my sins were all forgiven. But that was about all. I had the mop, I had the bucket, and the tap was always open. Till God had mercy on me.
You know, I’ve discovered one thing; you don’t understand scripture, you don’t get new revelations on scripture by study. You get new revelation of Jesus, when you have a new need in your life! It’s not by sitting and studying Greek, and Hebrew……I don’t know Greek and Hebrew, but I have needs in my life. And I said, “Lord, is there an answer to this need in my life?” And without any knowledge in Greek and Hebrew, He showed me that, “Sin need not have dominion over me.” And I want to say to you, my brothers and sisters, I don’t care what sin it is in your life; Jesus can deliver you from it. It doesn’t matter which it is. I just told you yesterday , how as a young man I struggled with lustful thoughts, and nobody ever told me what I could do about that, and as I told you yesterday, I thought everybody preaching up there had no problems with lustful thoughts, and I thought it was only me. That’s what I thought! I thought, “Oh my, why me? Why am I always struggling with these thoughts? Is it because I’m a maniac?” It’s because I didn’t know the way. I was forgiven. The tap was open, and I was mopping, mopping, mopping, mopping…….’til I found something better. That Jesus could not only forgive me, He could deliver me from the power of sin. When I was too weak to deliver myself. Through the Holy Spirit! And I thought of this, you know, this verse came to me at that time; God delivers only people who seek for victory like this; I want you to read this verse, in Exodus, Chapter 2, in verse 23, in the middle of that verse, it says, “The sons of Israel sighed, because of their , and they cried out. And their cry for help, because of their , rose up to God.” I want to ask you, my brothers and sisters, how many of you have sighed, because you were defeated by sin? Wept at night and said, “Oh Lord……there I lost my temper again. Lord! There I lusted with my eyes again.” Who sighed! There are a lot people who don’t sigh! No wonder they don’t get delivered! The children of Israel sighed. You know sighing is more than crying; it’s crying and saying, “Oh……when will I ever be free from this ?” “And their cry for help, rose up to God”. And it rises up, even today. And it says, “And God heard their groaning,” and He hears the groaning even today. Here and there…..not among many of his people. Most believers are content in their defeated position. But here and there He hears some……crying out for an immersion, a baptism in the Holy Spirit of Grace and Power. Verse 24, “And God remembered His covenant, in that day with Abraham,” and today, through Jesus. Through the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant. God remembers that. “And He saw the Sons of Israel, and He took notice of them, and He delivered them.” And He’s the same today. But He waits……for us to sigh, and cry.
Now I want to turn back to Hebrews, in chapter 4, where we saw, “that we may receive mercy,” That’s what He does for us, first of all, and then, “that we may find grace to help us in our time of need.” And our time of need is, in the context of verse 15, when we are tempted! My need is not for more money, to get a better car, or better house….. These are the stupid things being preached, in Christendom today, unfortunately. My need is to be delivered from this wretched nature I inherited from Adam, from sin. And when I’m delivered from that, all the other things will fall into their proper place. So, “Help in time of need,” is when I’m tempted! Now, imagine, a mountain climber. Someone, who feels he’s an expert at climbing mountains, and at one particular place, he slips, and he’s hanging on by his fingers, over the cliff….but he’s too proud to ask for help, because, “I’m an expert.” And he falls to the bottom. Then he has to ask for help, and the ambulance comes along and picks him up. That’s forgiveness of sins. We fall, we say, “Oh Lord, please forgive me.” And the ambulance is always there, Mercy. Takes me, fixes me up, and I go mountain climbing again. And again, I �m hanging by my fingers one day, I’m still too proud to ask for help, and I fall again. And the ambulance comes. And this is the cycle. That so many Christians live in – always the ambulance. Thank God for the ambulance. Isn’t it good news that there’s an ambulance when you’ve fallen? Mercy is available, forgiveness…… But think, if this person, the next time he’s about to fall, is a little humbler. And says, “I’m not such an expert.” Please, help me now. Then he will find grace, lifting him up in his time of need, and making him stand. Now which is his time of need? I agree, his time of need is there when he’s fallen and broken his bones. But there was another time of need prior to that. Before he fell. Now what I want to ask you, brothers and sisters, is when do you want God to help you, after you’ve fallen, or before? That’s the question. When is our real time of need. When are we going to break out of the cycle of always falling and getting the ambulance and falling and getting the ambulance. Are you sighing? Is there a sigh because, “Lord, I’m sick and tired of this. I want a better life.” There is a better life. You know, not everyone can come to Jesus. Jesus said, “come to me, all those who are weary and heavy laden.” Those who are sick and tired of their defeated lives, “come to me…..” In another place He said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me.” That means, if anyone’s thirsty for a better life than he already has….If anyone acknowledges that there is a dryness in his life, a deadness in his life, and he’s thirsty, let him come to me……and drink! There’s plenty of water there. And not only to satisfy you, it can flow out from you in rivers of living water to bless other people. This He spoke about the Holy Spirit. But you’ve got to thirst….. That means you’ve got to have a longing for something more than you have right now, and it’s got nothing to do with how many years you’ve been a believer. You may have been born again yesterday, and you can have a thirst and God can fill you with His Holy Spirit. But if you don’t have a thirst, even after twenty-five years, you’ll just be in the same old condition. You’ll be going around with the mop and the bucket, �til Jesus comes. But all I’m saying is, there’s a better way. I’m not forcing you, I’m just saying, “Come up higher, brother.” You’re invited, it’s free, but it’s up to you. If you’re satisfied down at those low levels, you can stay there. But Jesus invites you higher. So that’s our time of need. When we are about to slip and fall, and He can keep us. (Editor’s note, see Jude verse 24) Now if you don’t believe this, I can give you a little homework. The next time, you are tempted, think of the area where you are falling most of the time, where the ambulance has had to come and pick you up, and what particular area…. You know how it speaks about in Hebrews 12, about “the sin, that so easily besets us.” And that may be different in different ones. Okay, what’s the one in your case, is it anger? Is it sexually, lustful thoughts? Whatever it is, think of it now. The next time, that could be tonight, it could be tomorrow morning, you won’t have to wait long for that, for “the sin that so easily besets us.” But the next time you find yourself tempted in that area, when you’re about to fall, try this…. Come boldly to the Throne of Grace, humble yourself, you’re not such an expert mountain climber, just humble yourself and say, ” Well, Lord, I’m just a failure. Now Lord, show me that this really works! Give me grace! “Let’s come boldly to the Throne of Grace, to receive mercy for my past failures,” Okay, we’ve got that, but to find grace now, to help me in this particular moment, in my time of need.” And you know what’ll happen? After a few moments you’ll find, “Hey, I didn’t lose my temper! Hey, I could resist that evil though!” This is the Gospel. It’s a message of deliverance. Jesus came to set the captives free! He came to open prison doors. He came that we might walk as free people, no longer as slaves to sin. Never again in our life. And that’s why he gives us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Grace! People ask me this question, “What is the mark of the baptism of the Holy Spirit? What’s the sign, of being filled with the Spirit?” I say the same thing that Jesus said, I can’t say it better than Him; Acts 1:8, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and you shall receive power….” Power! What’s the evidence? Nothing else! That is the evidence. If you don’t have that, whatever else you’ve got, you’ve missed it. You need power. Power, to be a witness for me, Jesus said. Not just to bear witness. I hope you know the difference between being a witness and bearing witness. Bearing a witness is included in being a witness, but being a witness is more than bearing witness. “You shall receive power, and you shall be….”Not you shall “do”, “you shall be.” There’s a lot of emphasis in the Christian world today on “doing.” “What are you doing for the Lord, brother?” I’m being; and from being, I’m doing. You can “do” without “being”. But I want to “Be” first and then “do”. “You shall be witnesses, unto me, in every part of the earth.” America, India, everywhere…..God needs people who are witnesses and I need power for that! I need power, I need grace, this grace which is power. This which comes through the immersion in the Holy Spirit. Praise God for such a wonderful Gospel! And that can take care of all my needs. You remember that Old Testament story? I think it’s in 2 Kings, chapter 6, where this widow came to Elisha and said, “The creditor has come. I’m in debt and the creditor has come to take my sons away captive” I don’t have time to turn to it, you can read it sometime. And Elisha asked her a question, “What do you have in your house?” And she says, “Your servant has nothing, except, a vessel of oil.” It’s like saying, “We have nothing, except the Holy Spirit.” And Elisha said, “What do you mean nothing? That’s the answer to all your debt! That’s the answer to all your problems! Go and get as many vessels as you can and keep pouring.” And it says, she got vessels from all around her neighbors, and she kept pouring and it never finished. That’s a picture of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. They couldn’t experience it in the Old Covenant. We heard about our debt the other day; our debt of love. Every person we meet, we’ve got to recognize, “I owe this man something. I owe him something.” Even if it’s a stranger. I owe him something. Perhaps, just a smile, okay? But I’ve got to clear a debt. And how do I clear this debt? That was exactly the question this widow asked Elisha! How can I clear this debt, I’m in terrific debt! Do you recognize that you’re in debt? Most of us don’t….most of us don’t recognize that God, because He loved us so much, has permanently placed us in debt, to every single human being we meet on the face of this earth. That was the crime of the Levite and the Priest, when they saw that man laying on the ground and didn’t do anything to help. That’s the answer. And we say, we’ve got nothing. You think you’re going to clear the debt by going to one more meeting? Listening to one more message? Reading another book? No brother, you need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The answer is there. Ask God to fill your heart with the Holy Spirit. And like it says in Ephesians 5:18, “Be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.” That’s the answer. And God wants to give that to every single one of us. That’s the second promise in the New Testament! “He will save His people from their sins, He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit and with Fire.” But, like everything else, we’ve got to acknowledge our need. I couldn’t get forgiveness of sins, �til I confessed I was a sinner. Why is it the Pharisees couldn’t get forgiveness of sins? Because they pretended that they were not sinners. And Jesus said, “Well then I didn’t come for you, you fellows are healthy. I came for these poor, sick people.” I’ll apply the same logic of the same steps, to being filled with the Holy Spirit. Here, Jesus comes offering, what is the first thing? Forgiveness of sins. And here are a bunch of people who say, “We’re okay.” The Lord says, ” Okay, I didn’t come for you.” Here are some people who say, “Lord, we really need this, we’re sinners.” Okay, they get it, forgiveness of sins. And now He comes in the fullness of the Spirit, and here are a whole bunch of Christians who say, “Ah, we got it, we got it when we were saved,” and they were convinced doctrinally about something or the other. The Lord says, “Fine, you’re okay, I’ll leave you alone.” But here are these other, thirsty, hungry Christians, who say, “LORD, I DON’T CARE WHAT DOCTRINE, I’M DRY! I’M DEAD! I DON’T NEED A DOCTRINE, I NEED POWER! They get it! You know why you haven’t got it so far? Because someone convinced you about a doctrine. I know there’s a lot of doctrinal disputing about Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I don’t get into this at all. I remember when I was born-again, and I was in a brethren assembly where they didn’t preach about being filled with the Holy Spirit. They told me I got everything when I got converted. But I said, “Lord, I don’t know what it is, but I certainly, to be honest, I can’t say that Rivers of Living Water are flowing out from me.” No! My experience is more like a hand-pump. You know, in India, we have some hand-pumps. You pump and pump and pump and pump and a few trickles of water come out. And then when you’ve recovered a little bit, you pump some more, you pump some more and a few trickles come out. Yeah, a little bit comes out. A little bit was coming out of my life, but it was certainly not a river, certainly not many rivers. And Jesus said, “He who believes from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.” I just had to be honest. I said, “Lord that is not true in my life.” And I don’t want anyone to convince me doctrinally about something, which is going to make me miss the most important thing in the Christian life, and discover at the judgment seat of Christ, that I missed something God had for me. I don’t want that tragedy. “So I seek you Lord, I don’t care about terminology, call it what you like, it doesn’t matter to me, I want Rivers of Living Water flowing out of my life.” That’s how I began to seek God. And I want to say, God met with me. He changed my life. He changed my ministry. My ministry was such a strain before that. Oooh, a struggle, struggle, struggle. A few drops would come out. I said, “Lord, that’s not how it’s meant to be, that’s not how Jesus ministered. That’s not how the apostles ministered. I want my ministry to be Rivers of Living Water! Flowing in many directions!” Now if you knew what I was, when I was converted, a shy, fearful, timid, introverted, reserved type of person, who wouldn’t like to stand anywhere, I know God changed me. And I believe that He can change anyone. But it’s according to your faith, be it unto you. If you continue to believe that Jesus opens only one eye, that’s all you’ll have til the end of your life. “According to your faith, be it unto you.” I’m not asking you to have faith for better cars and better houses and things God has not promised. I’d like to have hair on my head, but I don’t try to trust God for that. I’ll get it one day when Jesus comes again. But there are other things. You know, all the books on faith you’ll find on Christian bookshelves, are the type of books which tell you how you can get hair on your head, and new teeth, where your teeth have fallen off, better cars and better houses. I tell l you, I’m not interested. What’s the use of getting a better house, or a better car if I’m defeated by anger in my life? What’s the use of that? What’s the use, of even speaking in other tongues, if I lose my temper in my mother tongue. That’s no use. You mean, the Holy Spirit can only control other tongues and He cannot control the mother tongue? Well, that must be another spirit. I say if the Holy Spirit cannot control my mother tongue, I don’t want other tongues! Let me deal with my mother tongue first. And let Him teach me how to have the law of kindness in my mouth, when I speak to my wife. If that isn’t there.. I got sick and tired of these believers who would praise God in other tongues on Sunday morning and shout at their wives in their mother tongue Sunday afternoon. This is not the Holy Spirit! And I said, “Lord, I want that tongue of fire that was on top of those believers, that made the Holy Spirit control my speech, twenty-four hours a day. Control my tongue. That is what we need! Victory over sin! Along with other gifts God wants to give us! I believe that the devil has done a tremendous work in confusing people in this area, because he knows this is a very vital area in the Christian life. He’s made a lot of people go to one extreme, and he’s made a whole lot of other people fall over the cliff on the other side, going to the other extreme. And it doesn’t matter to the devil which side of the cliff you fall over, so long as you reach the bottom.
Dear brother and sister, let’s shame the devil, and let’s say, “Lord, I’m going to seek you for what you’ve promised; I’m not going to seek you for things which are not promised in the Word, which are not going to help me in eternity, and which are not going to help me to be a more effective witness for you here on earth! But I do want to trust you, for that which I need to make me a more effective witness for you, here on this earth.” I want you to turn to Luke, chapter 11, “The disciples once came to Jesus and said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And do you know the answer to that? Now you ask most questions, what answer did Jesus give when they asked Him this question – “teach us to pray…” They only say the Lord’s prayer. Well, they asked Him to teach them to pray, and He said, “When you pray, say verse two, Father, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, and so on……” But did it stop with that? No! He went on and that’s what I want to show you today. He taught them to pray like that and then He said, He’s still answering the same question, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And He told them what to pray for, and He says, in verse 5, “Supposing one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight, and says, “Friend, lend me three loaves for a friend of mine has come, and I’ve got nothing to set before him”, and from inside he answers and said, “Don’t bother me, the door is shut, my children are in bed and I can’t get up.” “I tell you, even though he’ll not get up, and give him anything because he’s a friend, yet because of his persistence, He’s still answering that question, “Teach us how to pray,” “With persistence He will get up and give him as much as he needs. And I say to you, ask like this, and it will be given you. Seek, like this man sought, and you will find. Knock, like this man knocked, and it will be opened to you; for everyone who asks like this, receives, and he who seeks like this, finds. And he who knocks like this, it’ll be opened. Because supposing, one of you fathers, your son asks for fish, will he give him a snake? No, never. If he asks for an egg, will he give him a scorpion? And now we come to the final point, “How much more, will your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.” If you don’t ask….. How should we ask? Like this! That’s the point, it’s all the answer to that first question, “Lord, teach us to pray…” What do you need to pray for? This is what we need to pray for. What is the meaning of this man going to his neighbor, saying, “Give me three loaves….” Jesus said, “Ask the Father for the Holy Spirit, for the power of the Holy Spirit, for grace, ask.” And how shall I ask? Supposing I don’t get it immediately? Keep knocking. Keep seeking. Keep asking. “Lord, I’m not going to give up till you give me power.” There’s one more thing, which is very, very important, which I want to mention here. See here, He’s primarily speaking about our ministry. And He’s talking about somebody whose come to us in need. I told you about clearing the debt. Here is a man who has come to me in need, and I’m surrounded by people with need, in this world. And when I see their need, I can do one of two things. You know when this fellow came, this chap comes to my house at night, just imagine I’m the person here; he comes to my house at night and I ask him, “Well, have you eaten?” He says, “No, I’m hungry.” “Well, I’m sorry brother, refrigerator is empty right now, we already had our meal. Let’s just praise the Lord, and go to bed, and we’ll see how it is in the morning.” That’s not what he did. He felt, “He’s hungry. I must meet his need. I must do something about it!” That’s where it begins, that’s where a real seeking after God for the power of the Holy Spirit begins, when I see the need of another person, and I’m trying to help him, and I don’t have it within me, what it takes to help. Then what do I do? I can ignore and say, well I can’t help everybody in the world, I’m okay myself. I’ve eaten my meal and I’m alright. That’s how most Christians live. That’s why they never experience the genuine power of the Holy Spirit. And a lot of people who are so called, “seeking” for the power of the Holy Spirit today, you know what they’re seeking for? They’re not seeking for power to help others, oh, no! They’re seeking, because someone got up and gave a testimony, that they got tickled down their spine when the Spirit came upon them, or they got thrown into some corner, or they began to mutter something…..They’re seeking for some experience like that other testimony they heard in that meeting. They’re seeking for something for themselves; they’ve not got one single thought about somebody else in need! Whereas, Jesus said, “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you’ll be my witnesses to all those needy people, in the outermost parts of the earth!” And if people had sought God with this parable in mind, for the power of the Holy Spirit, like He said, they’d have gotten the genuine experience, and they’d have gotten the genuine Power. And it would have made the church like an army, terrible with banners; like it says in the Song of Solomon. But it isn’t. Why is the church so weak? You know, when we sing that song, “Hold the fort for I am coming…..” I tell you, I have little bit of a reservation about that. It’s a picture of a beleaguered church, struggling and the devil somehow – “Oh Lord, please come, we’re about to be defeated!” That’s not it. That �s not the church, an army, terrible with banners….. There is no “Hold the Fort, for I am coming,” anywhere in the New Testament. Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell,” See, we’re attacking the gates of Hell! They’re the fellows that are going to cry out for help! “The gates of Hell, will not prevail against this church!” Don’t reverse it and say, that “The gates of the church will somehow survive, when the forces of Hell are attacking it!” I am not holding any fort. We go full steam against the devil with the promises, the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church! The church is triumphant. Satan will not be able to make inroads into our church and destroy people. He will not be able to get into that family and destroy those children. Because we’re going to stand and deliver that family, from the power of the devil! That’s what we’re here for. That’s what God’s servants are here for. We’re not here just to preach messages. Anybody can preach a message….. Just go read some books, listen to some messages and you’ve got material to preach for next Sunday. That’s not a servant of God. A servant of God is called to do what Jesus did; it says, “He went about doing good and delivering people who were oppressed by the devil.” And we are surrounded by them. There are needy people in our churches whose families are suffering, the devil has got inroads into those families. Are the gates of Hell going to triumph or not? No! The church must go against them! We’ve got to bind the Strongman, and spoil his goods! Deliver people who are under the captivity of Satan. For that, we need the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s why we need the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I give you authority over all the power of the enemy. Nothing shall be able to stand before you. Over serpents, scorpions, over all the power of the enemy.” This is how we should be, brothers and sisters! But, here we are, praying, “Heal my backache, and I want a better car, and I want a better house,” and all these stupid things that believers are praying. I say, forget whether my backache is healed or not, I’m going to chase the devil out of that home.
I believe we need to have our vision lifted. We need to see what the Lord is calling us to in these Last Days. I want to encourage you my brothers and sisters, forget doctrinal differences. Forget terminology – call it what you like – But ask God to set you on fire! And if you don’t like the term, “Baptism of the Holy Spirit”, okay, drop it. Ask God for Rivers of Living Water, to flow out from you! Ask God to set you on fire! Is there anything wrong with that? Anything doctrinally wrong with that? And if you don’t like tongues, drop it, that’s not the most important thing. Ask God to set you so much on fire, that you’ll be able to deliver people who are oppressed by the devil around you. That’s the most important thing. And if He gives you other gifts, take them, but don’t go seeking after them. Seek for that power which will help you to deliver other people around you who are in need. I know, for thirty-five years, consistently, I have prayed one prayer. I have earnestly coveted to prophesy. Because the Bible says so. Earnestly desire the gifts of the Spirit. Why have I coveted to prophesy? There’s hardly a meeting, that I come to, where I don’t see God before, and say , “Oh God, I want to prophesy. I want to give a word, that will go straight to the hearts of people. And I don’t have it within me. I don’t have the loaves. My refrigerator is empty. There are people in need. I come to you, Lord, give me that, which I can give to them.” And then it becomes easy. You remember the way the five thousand were fed? The disciples didn’t have to produce the loaves, Praise the Lord. I always say, I’m only in the distribution business, I’m not in the production business. I can’t produce! I can’t produce a message! But I can distribute if the Lord gives it to me. And when my basket is empty, I just go back to the Lord and say, “Lord, there are a few more people hungry out there, you got some more?” “PLENTY. PLENTY FOR EVERYONE!” It’s distribution we’re called to, not production. Don’t waste your time, cramming your head, trying to produce something. And you fill your head with knowledge, that’s what happens in a lot of pulpits. People are busy preparing on Saturday, for what they’re going to give on Sunday. It’s like getting a lot of things in and vomiting it all out on Sunday. That’s not what people need. They need food. And you cannot produce it. That’s the first thing you’ve got to recognize. In my younger days, I thought I could produce it. Gave out, what I would call vomit. What I had taken in, digested and vomited out. But I found a better way; I began to seek God, like this man here, for prophesy, for words, that would exhort, edify, comfort, build up, God’s people. And I want to encourage you to seek God a little more. I’m not saying intellectual preparation is wrong, but all I’m saying is spiritual preparation is much more important. That’s all I’m saying. You’ve got to walk with a clear conscience before God. You’ve got to walk in humility, and God gives his grace on ly to the humble. Keep your face in the dust before God and say, “Lord, I’m empty. Help me to deliver people who are in need.” I believe our churches are full of such people. They need help. They need to be delivered. And we need to give that which will set them free. I want to encourage you to seek God, to set you on fire. There is no respecter of persons with God. What He’s done for one, He’ll do for another. But He wants us to have faith. Faith, that He will, “Give us grace to help us in our time of need”, so that we don’t fall in to sin; Faith, that He’ll give us that power, those loaves…..to feed that needy person, who has come to us in his need. Let’s pray.
“Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord. Come and quench this, thirsting of my soul. Lord, we want to come to you with open hearts. With hungry hearts; seeking you for that, which only you can give. We don’t want to be satisfied with experiences and thrills. We want Rivers of Living Waters to flow out from us, in these Last Days. To quench the thirst of needy people all around us. Help us Lord we pray. Help us to honor You, that we might be a church, like you want us to be, an army against which the gates of Hell will never prevail, in our local church situations. Give us grace we pray, as we cry out to you, there are needy hungry people here. Thirsty. I pray, Lord, you’ll satisfy the longing of their soul. In Jesus’ name. Amen”
** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / Photo by Felix Mittermeierfrom Pexels
“Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one, for the results can be much better. If one falls, the other pulls him up; but if a man falls when he is alone, he’s in trouble…..And one standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer; three is even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Eccl. 4:9-12-TLB).
You may remember the story from Aesop’s fables, where an old farmer taught an object lesson on unity to his three children, who were constantly quarreling among themselves. Taking a number of weak sticks, he showed them how the sticks could quite easily be broken individually, but when tied together in a bundle were almost impossible to break. Even the children of this world realise that there is strength in unity and fellowship. “The locusts”, the Bible says, “though small are unusually wise, for though they have no leader, they stay together in swarms (Prov. 30:27-TLB). Therein lies their safety and their power. In the church of Jesus Christ, we need to relearn this lesson.
The unity that the New Testament speaks of, is the unity of the members of Christ’s Body with one another, under the Headship of Christ – an organic unity and not an organisational one. It excludes those who are outside of the Body of Christ, even if they have the label `Christian’. There can be no union between the living and the dead. Those made alive in Christ through the new birth can find their spiritual unity only with others who have been similarly regenerated by God. Christian unity is forged by the Holy Spirit Who alone makes us members of Christ’s Body. The Bible exhorts us to “strive earnestly to guard the harmony and oneness produced by the Spirit” (Eph. 4:3-Amplified). Any unity formed by man is worthless.
Satan is a cunning foe and he realises that he cannot overcome a united Christian fellowship that lives under the authority of Christ and His Word. His strategy for warfare, is therefore, to begin by sowing discord, suspicion and misunderstanding among the members of a fellowship, so that he can paralyze them individually. Jesus said that the powers of Hell would not be able to overcome His church.
(Matt. 16:18). It is the church, the Body of Christ, that is promised victory in the battle against Satan. A believer standing in isolation from other believers may find himself defeated. Satan attacked Christ constantly during Christ’s life on earth, but was unable to prevail. Finally at the cross, Satan’s power over man was taken away from him by Christ (Heb. 2:14; Col. 2:15).
Today, Satan cannot attack the Risen Christ. His attacks are therefore directed at Christ’s Body, the church. Victory over Satan is possible only as we stand united against him, as a Body under the Headship of our Lord. In a fellowship of Christians, even if one member is not fulfilling his function, the power of the Body is, to that extent, weakened. Satan knowing this, seeks continually to isolate individual members of a group, or to divide the group (or church) into cliques. Either way, he succeeds in his aim. This is why we must be constantly on our guard against the wiles of Satan, lest he weaken the links between us and other members of the Body of Christ.
Jesus made many promises in relation to individual believers praying to God. But in Matthew 18:18,19, we have a promise made to a section of Christ’s Body praying in unison: “Whatever you bind on earth”, Jesus said, “is bound in heaven, and whatever you free on earth will be freed in heaven. I also tell you this – if two of you agree down here on earth concerning anything you ask for, my Father in heaven will do it for you” (TLB). The word translated “agree” in verse 19, is the Greek word “sumphoneo”, from which our English word “symphony” is derived. Jesus was referring in these verses to a unity among even two of His children that would be like a musical symphony. This implies more than just saying “Amen” at the end of another’s prayer. Symphony implies a deep harmony of spirit between those who are praying together.
When the fellowship of even a small group of Christians is like the symphony produced by a well-conducted orchestra, then (Jesus said) their prayers will have such authority that anything they asked for would be granted. Such a group of Christians would have authority to bind Satan’s power and to liberate Satan’s captives. The reason why such a fellowship could exercise such authority was explained by Jesus: “For”, He said, “wherever two or three are gathered together into My Name, there I AM in the midst of them” (verse 20-Amplified). Christ the Head is present with all His authority in the midst of such a fellowship, and therefore the powers of Hell can never stand against it. One reason why the church described in the “Acts of the Apostles” knew the reality of this authority was because they had this unity in their fellowship. “All of these (the 11 apostles) with their minds in full agreement devoted themselves steadfastly to prayer….. “And all who believed were united and together…..and day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose…… “And they (the apostles and other believers)… lifted their voices together with one united mind to God… (Acts 1:14; 2:44,46; 4:24-Amplified). Because they were integrated into one Body under the authority of Christ, they could exercise the Lord’s authority in prayer. They were not highly educated, they had no social influence and no financial backing, yet they turned the then-known world upside down for Christ. When Peter was locked up in prison, all of Herod’s forces could not stand against the power of that early church on its knees before God (Acts 12:5-11). Satan’s kingdom was shaken to its foundations by that church as it went forth as one Body, registering the victory and authority of Christ in human lives all over the Roman Empire (See Acts 19:11-20 for one example of this).
Today Satan ridicules the efforts of a disunited church trying to oust him from his strongholds by gimmicks, gadgets, conferences, theological knowledge, eloquence and trained choirs. None of these are of any avail against Satan. The church needs to know again the reality of being one Body united under the Headship of Christ. A fellowship of Christians properly related to each other, growing in love for one another and living in obedience to Christ and His Word is the greatest threat to the kingdom of the Devil on earth. Satan dreads nothing else as much as that.
Let us make it our prayer that the Lord will help us to live each day in the light of the glorious truth of our being one Body in Christ. As more and more Christians throughout the world begin to understand and to live by this truth, we shall assuredly see the church, though small in number, restored to her pristine glory, an instrument in God’s Hands to rout the forces of darkness and a channel of blessing to a needy world.
** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / Photo by Aigars Neļķefrom Pexels
It is written in Genesis 32:29 that God blessed Jacob there”. The word “bless” is perhaps the most frequently used word in the prayers of Christians; but few understand its real meaning.
What is blessing? What was the blessing Jacob got? It is described in verse 28 as “power with God and power with men. This is the blessing that we all need and that we should be seeking for. And this alone can make the sun to rise upon our lives. Nothing less than this is what God desires to give His people.
Jesus referred to this blessing when He asked His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. He said, “When the Holy Spirit is come upon you, you shall receive power” (Acts 1:8) – power with God and power with men. Jacobs would be transformed by the Spirits power into Israels. This was what made the sun to rise upon Peter’s life and upon the lives of the other disciples that day in the upper room at Jerusalem.
And this alone can provide the answer to the crookedness of our self-life. It is not a question of reformation or of good resolutions or even of our determination. It is a question of the Holy Spirit possessing us fully and governing and ruling our lives.
But where does the Spirit lead us? Always to the cross. It is only when we are crucified, that Christ can live in us in His fullness. It was when Jesus was baptized, buried under the waters – symbolically accepting death to Himself – that the Holy Spirit came upon Him (Matt. 3:16). It was when Jacob was broken, that he was blessed. It was only after Moses self-confidence had been shattered through 40 years of looking after sheep, that he was ready to deliver Israel. The rock had to be smitten before the living waters could flow. The Israelites had to go through the River Jordan (symbolizing death and burial) before they could enter Canaan (symbolizing life in the fullness of the Spirit). Gideons army had to break their pitchers before the light inside was visible. The alabaster vial had to be broken before the odor of the ointment could fill the house. Peters boastful self-confidence had to be shattered before he was ready for Pentecost. We find this truth throughout Scripture.
It would be dangerous for God to empower an unbroken man. It would be like giving a sharp knife to a 6-month-old baby, or like handling 20,000 volts of electricity without proper insulation. God is careful. He does not give the power of His Spirit to those in whom self is still unbroken. And He removes His power from a man when he ceases to be broken.
Jacob was now blessed by God Himself. Earlier, Isaac had laid his hands on Jacob and blessed him when Jacob brought him the venison (Gen. 27:23). But that had brought no change in Jacob’s life. The real blessing came at Peniel. And this is the lesson we need to learn too. No man can ever give us this blessing. A man – even a saintly man like Isaac – may lay his empty hands on our empty heads and pray for us. Yet, we may get nothing. Only God can really empower us. When Isaac put his hands on Jacob’s head, the sun merely set on Jacob’s life. But when God blessed him, the sun rose! Power belongs to God and He is the only one who can ever give it to us.
** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at cfcindia.com / Arnie Chou at Pexels
In 2 Kings 2:13-14, we read about Elisha dividing Jordan which is symbolic of a ministry of life that conquers and overcomes spiritual death. The waters of Jordan, in the Bible, are symbolic of death. And the parting of the waters is therefore symbolic of triumph over death. In the ministry of Elisha, we find him engaged again and again in bringing life out of death. In Jericho, he brought life into the barren land there (2 Kings 2:19-22). In Shunem, he brought life into the barren womb of a woman (2 Kings 4:8-17). Later, he brought life into a dead child (2 Kings 4: 18-37). He once brought life into a pot of deadly food (2 Kings 4: 38-41). He ministered life to a leprous general’s dying body too ( 2 Kings 5 : 1-14) Elisha’s power never faded away. Even after he was dead and buried and his body had disintegrated,when a dead man was thrown into his grave, the dead man arose!(2 Kings 13:20-21) This was Elisha’s ministry-bringing life out of death wherever he went. This was a direct result of his being anointed. This is the type of power that the anointing of the Holy Spirit brings-power to bring life out of death, resurrection power. This alone is the unmistakable evidence of the anointing. We read of this power often in the New Testament. Paul writing to the Ephesian Christians, says that his prayer for them is that they may know this power. He goes on to tell them that the greatest manifestation of God’s power was not in creation nor in the miracles recorded in the Bible, but in the raising of Christ from the dead (Eph. 1:19-23). Writing to the Philippian Christians, Paul tells them that his own desire is that he may know more of this resurrection power (Phil. 3:10).This, I am convinced, is the power that Jesus said His disciples would receive when the Holy Spirit came upon them (Acts 1:8) – resurrection power, the power to bring life out of spiritual death. And God desires to communicate this to us too.
This, brothers and sisters, is the mark of the anointing. Not some experience, not some utterance, but the power to bring spiritual life out of death wherever we go. Is our ministry accomplishing this? This is the acid test whether we have the anointing or not. Alas, so often Christians, instead of ministering life are ministering death. The heathen are so often driven away from the Lord instead of being drawn to Him, because of the bickering and quarrels, the lack of integrity and other un-Christlike habits that they see in the lives of those who profess to be born-again Christians. How we need to humble ourselves before God and ask for His forgiveness for bringing reproach upon His Name by our behaviour.
Let us not glory merely in the fact that we are “evangelicals.” If we are not careful, we can end up like the church in Sardis, having a name that we are alive but in reality being dead (Rev. 3:1). It is not enough that the creed we repeat and the statement of faith we sign are Scripturally sound. We may be able to sign the most fundamental statement of faith. So can the Devil! He knows the Bible well and so he is no modernist. He is a thorough fundamentalist as far as doctrines go! It is not much use therefore taking credit merely for our fundamentalism. Doctrines are important. God forbid that I should decry their value. But over and above doctrine, the thing that counts with God is whether we are ministering spiritual life or not.
The Apostle Paul could say that through God’s help, he was an able minister of the New Testament, ministering spiritual life (2 Cor. 3:5,6). He didn’t just boast that he was a fundamentalist. Neither did he merely talk of his experiences-either the Damascus Road one or the Straight Street one. No. He demonstrated the reality of his fundamental beliefs and of his spiritual experiences by constantly bringing life into situations of spiritual death.
In Paul’s life, as in Elisha’s, there was no fading away of the power. There was no losing of the anointing in later years, as seems to be the case with so many servants of God in our day. Paul and Elisha never came to a stage where all they could do was to glory in what God did in days of yore. They constantly lived in the present enjoyment of the anointing and of God’s power. Their spiritual strength instead of waning, waxed more and more. As their days, so was their strength. Their light shone brighter and brighter until the perfect day. What a blessed way to live! And yet this is the path that God desires all His children to walk in (Prov. 4:18).
Elisha lived in constant touch with God and this was why he was always able to bring life out of death wherever he went. And so people came to him with their problems and their needs. He didn’t have to go looking for a ministry. He didn’t have to go around asking people to sponsor him and to invite him. No. Opportunities for ministry came to him in abundance, without any fleshly efforts on his part.
** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at cfcindia.com / Photo by Rachel Claire from Pexels by
Acts 2 we find that when those 120 people waited for the Holy Spirit, they did not know how long they would have to wait, because Jesus never told them. If they knew it would be only ten days, it would have been easier for them to wait. When God keeps us waiting for something, He does not usually tell us how long we have to wait for an answer.
God wants us to live by faith, because that is the only way to grow spiritually – and waiting is one way by which our faith is strengthened. If we knew how long we had to wait, then there would be no faith there. It is only afterwards when we look back that we can say, “I had to wait for three days (or three years)” for that.
If you had gone to those waiting disciples and asked them, “How will you know when you have been baptised in the Holy Spirit?” – They would not have said that they would speak in tongues. They would have said that Jesus had told them that they would receive power. You may ask “How will I know that I have received this power?” God can assure us of that, just like He assured us that our sins were forgiven. The Holy Spirit, Who bears witness with our spirit that our sins have been forgiven will also bear witness that we have been endued with power. Ask God to give you the assurance for both these important matters. So they were waiting for power. But when they got power they also received the gift of speaking in unknown languages (tongues).
The tragedy today is that many who claim to have the gift of tongues do not seem to have any power. Tongues can be imitated, whereas power to overcome sin and to be a bold witness for Christ cannot be imitated.
Consider this illustration: You go to a shop to buy a computer (power). The shopkeeper tells you that a free CD (tongues) is also being offered with every computer. You didn’t go to the shop to buy a CD but a computer. But since the CD is being offered freely, you take both the computer and the CD. But now your friend sees your CD and goes to the same shop and pays for the computer but brings home only the free CD!! How foolish! That is a picture of those who received the gift of tongues but not the power.
We read that a noise and a wind filled the house where they were praying and tongues as of fire rested on everyone’s head. These were only the externals. The receiving of an anointing and power were the major events. The externals were different when Jesus was anointed. In His case, there was no wind or fire but a dove and a voice. But the power and anointing He received were the same as these apostles received. We all need to be “anointed with the Holy Spirit and power” as Jesus was (Acts 10:38).
The physical and emotional experiences may vary with each of us. If someone were to give you an expensive diamond as a gift, it wouldn’t make any difference if it came wrapped crudely in ordinary brown paper or in a shiny paper with fancy ribbons? It is the gift inside that is important. Only babies are taken up with the wrappings, the externals – the wind, the fire, the noise, the tingling sensations, etc. Adults are taken up with the gift – the anointing and the power of the Holy Spirit. When people testify about and glory in the wrapping in which they got the gift, you know that they are still baby-Christians.
The tongues of fire that sat on everyone’s heads indicated that the most important part of our body that God would be using in the new covenant age would be the tongue – a tongue set on fire by the Holy Spirit and under His total control all the time. This is also part of the symbolism of the gift of tongues. God wants to use your tongue to bless others with, not only if you are a preacher, but also in your ordinary conversations with people every day. But for this, you must let the Holy Spirit have full control of your speech, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2:14, we see one wonderful result of the Spirit indwelling all the apostles. We read here, “Peter stood up, backed by the other eleven” (MSG).
What Jesus could not accomplish in His entire lifetime is now accomplished at last: The twelve are all one body now. They did not compete to have the honour to preach. They supported Peter and were 100% behind him as he spoke. This is the greater work that Jesus had said they would do after the Spirit came – the Holy Spirit had baptised them into one body.
In 2:17, Peter said that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel. All men and women could now have the Spirit poured out on them and they could prophesy. This was a privilege reserved only for kings and priests under the old covenant. But under the new covenant, all can receive the Spirit. We need to recognise what a tremendous honour this is.
** Copyright – Zac Poonen. No changes whatsoever are to be made to the content of the article without written permission from the author at CFC India.com / Photo by Jahoo Clouseau at Pexels
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