"And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" - Romans 10:15
Paul asked the rhetorical question, "How shall they preach except they be sent?" (Rom.10:15), expecting, of course, the obvious response, "They cannot preach except they be sent." No one can understand either Paul's question or the answer, without first being made aware of the difference between being called and being sent. Jesus first called disciples to follow him. Later, from among those whom he had called, and there were many, Jesus chose certain ones to send to preach the gospel. As Jesus said, "Many are called, but few are chosen."
It may seem at first to be a small matter, but we need to know that no one has ever been "called to preach". That phrase is found nowhere in the Bible. Rather than "calling men to preach", our Lord calls for men and women to be silent and to learn of him. Then he chooses some of those followers to be sent with his gospel of peace. He calls men not to preach, but to be quiet. Only after teaching his disciples the fundamentals of the faith did Jesus send some of them to carry his gospel.
In Matthew 5:1-2, we read, "And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain. And when he was set, his disciples came unto him, and he opened his mouth and taught them." After this lengthy session with his disciples, teaching them the moral requirements of the kingdom of God, Jesus descended from the mountain (Mt.8) and demonstrated to his disciples the miraculous power of God to heal the sick and deliver the oppressed. Then, in Matthew 10:1, we find that Jesus gathered his disciples, and "He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." Mark describes this sending of the disciples with these words, "And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sickness and to cast out devils" (Mk.3:14-15).
Notice, please, that these disciples were ordained after they were called. And ordained for what? "That they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out devils." What about this, preacher? Now, when were these disciples ordained to preach? Not when Jesus called them to leave their nets, tax office, etc. Not when they were being taught in the mountain. It was only after Jesus had led them down from the mountain and demonstrated in their presence the power of God by healing a great multitude of all manner of diseases, that he anointed these disciples with "power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." It was at this time that Jesus ordained his twelve disciples and sent them to preach, saying, "freely ye have received, freely give."
Prayerfully consider, my dear pastor friend, this question which I ask in deepest sincerity: Have you been sent? Or have you only been called? Each experience is definite and wonderful. But most ministers never speak of more than being called. There is no cause to doubt the reality of their call to follow Jesus; however, their own testimonies are witness that Jesus has not sent them to preach his gospel. There is a seminary of God, where the Spirit reveals the true doctrine of Christ and gives power which no man can give. Men are not able to confer upon other men the power to preach the gospel. Only Christ can send a man to preach. In the seminary of God, Christ alone confers the degrees. As wise Peter said, "If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth."
Yes, my reader, it was by receiving the power of God to heal and to deliver the people from evil spirits that the twelve apostles were ordained as ministers of God. Now comes the big question - and it is at this point that many stumble - is this power for healing and deliverance required of present day ministry? In other words, is the church of today as important to God as the church of the apostolic days? Does God love us as much as he did them? Our answer will have to be "yes", since Christ puts no difference between his early disciples and us whom he sends to carry his word today. He put his first followers and us on exactly the same level, so far as preaching the gospel is concerned. Surely he who healed so many in the days of his apostles has made provision for the people of all ages to receive similar benefits of his grace and power, for God is not a "respecter of persons."
Demons were subject to Jesus' disciples, just as they were subject to him, for he gave them power to heal the sick, cast out devils, cleanse the lepers, and even to raise the dead. This, of course, was all done in the wonderful name of Jesus. And God has given the privilege of the authority of that great name to all His ministers.
Nothing could be clearer than this, and it is proving to be so among every one today who has been anointed and sent by Christ with his power of deliverance from sin and sickness. Still, there are multitudes who regard the cleansing and healing power of God as something belonging to another age and altogether out of the reach or right of their ministry. Who has bewitched them to think this? Oh, my friend, so many people are sick and dying, not because God's healing power is unavailable, but because real faith is becoming rare. How it must grieve the heart of God, who has willed His power of complete deliverance to all faithful ministers!
The Pharisees opposed both Jesus and ministers of the early church because of the power of God which they possessed to heal and deliver the people. Every unanointed minister today, like the Pharisees of old, senses that the power of God is a threat to his unauthorized, man-appointed ministry. It seems easier for some of them to fight the power of God than to seek God and receive it. Hear Paul's description of such religious leaders, and note his warning that follows: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. From such turn away" (2Tim. 3:1-5).
Paul was not the first man sent by God to prophesy concerning the latter-day surge of false prophets. God spoke through Jeremiah, "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they should have turned them from their evil ways, and from the evil of their doings" (23:21-22).
What a warning! What a description of every mocker, who walks after his own ungodly lusts and prophesies out of his own spirit! "These be they", Jude tells us, "who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit [holy Ghost]." May God anoint and send men to heal His divided, hurting people! Only men who are sent from God have God's answer to our deepest needs.
Every minister must face this issue: "Shall I resist or yield to the power of God - the force that not only cleanses the soul, but also heals the body and mind?" This is the supreme issue in the life of everyone who has been called. Many have already answered, either by denying the power of God or by receiving it. Some are evading the issue. Every true and wise minister has or will joyfully yield to it. Their answer can only be, according to God's word, "Here am I; send me." And remember that he who said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" also said, "And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
Contrary to what anyone may think, this same gospel with the same authority of the apostles is for us today. Thousands of ministers, ignorant of the true gospel, have established word-only ministries of their own, ministries without the power and signs that Jesus said would follow believers. The unrepealable gospel which Jesus preached is to be preached and practiced by all believers, even to the end of this age. May our God enable us to do so! Amen.
Ye Must Be Born Again
By John Clark Sr. and George Clark
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (John 3:7)
"Ye must be born again." Listen to those words of our Lord Jesus. "Ye must be born again." Tell it to sinful men as they struggle in their bondage and try to rise to better things. Proclaim the message to those who are proud of their achievements and who trust in their own strength. "Ye must be born again!"
Nicodemus, one of Israel's wise elders, was greatly puzzled by our Lord's words about the New Birth. When Jesus set before him the necessity of this experience, Nicodemus asked, "How can these things be?" This is a question many have asked, but there is a mystery concerning the New Birth which finite minds cannot solve. There are some things which men obtain only by the obedience of faith.
Jesus acknowledged the mystery of the New Birth when he described it to Nicodemus: "The wind blows where it will, and you hear its sound, but you cannot tell from where it comes or where it is going. So is every one that is born of the Spirit" (Jn.3:8).
When Were The Disciples Born Again?
Reader, do you know when Jesus's disciples received an experience such as Jesus described to Nicodemus? At no time during Jesus's earthly ministry did his disciples receive such an experience. Then, when did they receive it? Keep his words "the wind blows where it will" in mind as you read from Acts 2:3-4: "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." This experience which the disciples received on Pentecost morning fulfills the description of the New Birth which Jesus gave to Nicodemus. Evidently, the disciples were born again in the second chapter of Acts.
When Jesus spoke of the sound of the wind accompanying every new birth experience, he was obviously not discussing weather conditions with Nicodemus. As he was wont to do, Jesus was explaining a spiritual truth by using a familiar earthly phenomenon (in this case, the blowing of the wind). In reminding Nicodemus that winds produce discern able sounds, Jesus was saying that "every one who is born of the Spirit" is moved by the Spirit to speak in tongues when it happens.
In this covenant, especially, we live by the Word of God, not by the word of man. Man's own "sound", his own confession of faith, bears no weight in heaven; men can be wrong. It is only the witness of the Spirit which is always true. As his disciple John pointed out, "It is the Spirit that bears witness, because the Spirit is truth" (1Jn.5:6b). Paul expressed the same truth in these words: "The Spirit itself bears witness with our Spirit, that we are the children of God" (Rom.8:16). Please notice that both apostles emphasize the necessity of the Spirit's testimony (speaking in tongues) as the divinely appointed sign that we have indeed received the Spirit of God. It is God's peculiar way of declaring one to be His child. It is the voice of "Him that speaketh from heaven", Whom we must not refuse (Heb.12:25). It is the sound of the ever-moving wind of God.
No man knows another's heart; therefore, the testimony of God's Spirit is the only reliable testimony of true repentance. Listen to Peter's words in Acts: "Men and brethren . . . God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the gospel and believe. And God, Who knows the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the holy Ghost, even as He did unto us" (Acts 15:7-8). And how did Peter and his Jewish companions know that Cornelius and his household had repented and received the holy Ghost? "They heard them speak with tongues and magnify God."
Speaking in tongues when we receive the holy Ghost also makes it possible for unbelievers to know who has received God's Spirit. Many claim to be of God and to be in possession of His Spirit; therefore, "tongues are for a sign," Paul affirmed, "to them that believe not" (1Cor. 14:22). How the love of God is revealed in this! He desires those outside His kingdom to be able to find it!
At the last supper, Jesus described the spiritual condition of those who followed him but had not yet received the Spirit: "A woman when she is in travail has sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And you now therefore have sorrow, but I will see you again [in spirit, at Pentecost], and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you" (Jn.16: 21-22). By comparing his disciples' spiritual condition that night with a woman agonizing with the pangs of childbirth, Jesus was saying that the time for their New Birth was near. The disciples had been conceived by the Word of God which Jesus had sown into their hearts, and now they were nearing the hour of their spiritual birth at Pentecost. They were no longer of the world (Jn.17:14); at the same time, however, they were not yet "in Christ" (Jn 17:21). They were "clean" under the Law (Jn.15:3), but they were not sanctified (Jn.17:17,19). As much as their lives had been changed by Jesus, their greatest transformation was yet to come.
Conception Is Not Birth
Nature itself teaches us that no birth can occur without a seed first being sown. This is true whether one is speaking naturally or spiritually. Nowhere, even in the kingdom of God, is there a birth without the sowing of a seed. Spiritually, "the seed is the Word of God" (Lk.8: 11). One must receive this Seed in order for the process of New Birth to begin. In addition to this universal truth, nature also teaches us that relatively few of the seeds sown will produce life, and that even fewer will mature and bear fruit. According to Jesus, only a small portion of the seeds of the kingdom of God which are sown into human hearts actually sprout, or produce righteousness in the life. Sometimes, he said, when one hears the Word (Seed) and receives it, "the wicked one catches away that which was sown in his heart" (Mt.13:19). The Word of God was sown into the hearts of many thousands during Jesus' earthly ministry, yet only about 120 followers continued in his Word and were born again at the first outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
Many ministers mistake the receiving of the Seed to be the New Birth. They think that receiving the Word of God and repenting of sin is the same as being born again. But cessation from evil - good as that is - is not the New Birth. Repentance neither atones for nor washes away sins; sins are washed away only by the Spirit, when it baptizes us into the body of Christ (1Cor.12:13; Acts 22:16). Only by entering into Christ do we become new, spiritually clean creatures.
The Samaritans, for one example, gladly received the Word that Philip preached (Acts 8:5-8); still, the washing away of their sins was not accomplished until later, after news of Philip's preaching reached Jerusalem: "Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John, who, when they were come, prayed for them, that they might receive the holy Ghost. (For as yet it had fallen upon none of them. . . .) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the holy Ghost" (Acts 8:14-17).
So, as the Samaritans' experience demonstrates, being convicted of sin and turning from it is only the first step toward the New Birth. Tragically, many fail to continue in the Word after being convicted by it. Consequently, they never receive the baptism of the holy Ghost; they are never born again. Such people, and there are millions of them in Christianity around the world, must be warned that incomplete surrender is no better than none at all. God gives His Spirit only to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32); therefore, our first priority must be to know God's will and to do it - not only to receive the baptism of Christ, but to obtain the promised salvation at the end of the way. "Let no man deceive you by any means", my friend; no one will be saved without receiving the holy Ghost and obeying it (1Pet.3:21; Mk.16:16; Rom.8:14). Regardless of anyone's standing among religious men, he has no part in the kingdom of God without His Spirit.
I do not diminish the importance of conviction (conception) - who could be born without it? - but we must understand its purpose. Being conceived is good, but it can only be appreciated by those who are born. And how much better than the conception is the birth of a child! This is God's heart, but it is not the heart of one who has the spirit of a harlot. She dreads the thought of bearing a child, though she earns her living by performing the act which should produce the conception of one - just as multitudes of Christian ministers hate the thought of anyone being baptized with the holy Ghost and speaking in tongues, though they earn their living by "preaching the Word" - the religious act which should lead sinners to the holy Ghost life. Such men love to see the Word convict and change a sinful life; they rejoice when many respond to their "altar call"; they study; they build; they give; they pray; they cross land and sea to make converts; but all their religious activity is no more in God's sight than the cheap perfume of a streetwalker plying her ungodly trade if the result is not life in the Spirit! The act of sowing the seed is there, but to what end?
In spite of the claims of Christians, the way of Christ Jesus found in the New Testament is not the beginning of Christianity; rather, it is the way of life which Christianity has historically opposed with all its worldly power; and it will continue to oppose that true faith until that Whore and her "daughters" are destroyed. Yes, the great Whore in John's Revelation is Christianity (Catholicism), and the harlots to whom she gave birth are the faiths (Protestants) which departed from her. Christianity is that religion which worships the Lord Jesus, but not in spirit and in truth. It arose as a religion after the days of the apostles, and it corrupted the right ways of God. It is a religion which to this day rewards men for sowing the Seed, even as its carnal forms of worship and unordained doctrines abort the very spiritual life which that Seed produces.
Yes, by leading sinners convicted by the Word to do religious works and to believe doctrines which are not of God, Christian ministers abort the good work which their own seeds may have started! By resisting the truth and power of the Spirit, ministers themselves turn what should have been a wonderful gift of God, the sowing of the Seed of Christ, into a vain religious enterprise. It is true that God has blessed some Christians with wonderful spiritual blessings, but every holy gift with which God blesses those who remain in Christianity is destined to wither, because the spirit of Christianity is the spirit of death. God has precious children now who are anointed but who have not obeyed His call to "Come out from among them." Watch them. In time their gifts will wither. Christian ity will drain the life out of their work.
Who Has Repented?
When a truly hungry soul hears the Word of God, a wonderful change begins to take place, a change wrought by the love and power of God. As one begins to feel the life of the Spirit, his countenance and behavior is altered. And if he continues in the Word, not allowing the wicked one to steal the Seed from his heart, the day will come when the Lord will baptize him with the holy Spirit. He will come out of the womb, to be numbered among the saints! Jesus encouraged us not to doubt this when he said, "Every one who hungers and thirsts for righteousness shall be filled"!
The experience of New Birth is sometimes illustrated by the process by which a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. First, there is the worm, hairy and ugly, crawling in the dust. Then one day that worm wraps itself in a cocoon. There it remains for a time, and then, on a warm day, that cocoon bursts asunder and a beautiful butterfly emerges, no more to crawl as a worm in the dust, but to ride upon the wind and to nestle in the hearts of flowers. A sinner, convicted of his sin by the Word of God, wraps himself in the cocoon of God's love and protection. His changing, developing life becomes a mystery to those on the outside. Old companions call him strange. But when the Spirit of God enters, he becomes a son of God, born to rise to heavenly places in Christ.
Jesus said, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Lk.13:3). No one who believes the truth will deny this. All who do not repent will surely perish. On the other hand, what is promised to all who do repent? "Peter said unto them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the holy Ghost'" (Acts 2:38). Despite these words, multitudes claim that they have repented and been baptized in the name of Jesus, but they have not received the baptism of the holy Spirit. How is that possible? If one can repent, yet not receive the holy Spirit (contrary to the Word by Peter), then one can refuse to repent, yet be saved in the end (contrary to the Word by Jesus). If God's Word in Luke 13:3 to all who do not repent stands sure, then God's Word in Acts 2:38 to all who do repent stands sure. Every one who repents will receive the holy Ghost, God's promise of eternal life. Every one who does not repent will not receive the holy Ghost and will not be saved in the end. That is the simple truth, my friend; and the truth is destined to prevail over all the doctrines of man, regardless of how many of us may give to those doctrines a hearty "Amen".
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(Editor's Note to those who have already received the baptism of the holy Ghost (as evidenced by speaking with other tongues): Being conceived is good, but it can only be appreciated by those who are born. And how much better is the birth of a child than the conception! This is God's heart, but it is not the heart of one who has the spirit of a harlot. She hates the thought of bearing a child, though she earns her living by performing the act of conception - just as multitudes of Christian ministers hate the thought of seeing someone baptized with the holy Ghost, though they rejoice greatly in the spiritual conception.
Child of God, the reason you cannot find a fellowship that walks in the Spirit of Truth is that you are looking for such a fellowship within Christianity, and such fellowship does not exist there. You will feel no complete "kinship" in this religion that teaches someone can be "born again" prior to receiving the precious Spirit you have received. The unifying doctrine in ALL Christianity is that one can become a child of God without the real "new birth" experience. That is why we teach God's children (those with the holy Ghost) to come out of Christianity altogether so they will find fellowship in the light of Jesus Christ. The cry of the life-giving Spirit of your Father is growing more fervent with every passing day: "Come out of her My people!")
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