SAINTS, WE ARE LIVING IN A DAY WHEN THE JUDGMENT OF GOD IS PUTTING A HUGE QUESTION MARK IN THE MINDS OF MANY PEOPLE. TRADITION HAS ALWAYS HELD THAT JUDGMENT WAS ONLY FOR THE UNGODLY SINNERS, BUT BY THE HELP OF GOD, WE ARE GOING TO SHOW SOME OF THE WAYS THAT GOD’S JUDGMENT AMONG THOSE OF THIS OWN HOUSE, BEFORE IT IS EVER TURNED LOOSE UPON THE UNGODLY ELEMENT OF MANKIND. HAVE YOU EVER TAKEN TIME TO EVEN WONDER WHAT THE APOSTLE PETER WAS HAVING REFERENCE TO, WHEN HE SAID, “FOR THE TIME HAS COME THAT JUDGMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD? DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE WHAT THE HOUSE OF GOD IS? HAVE YOU ALWAYS JUST THOUGHT IT WAS A BUILDING SOMEWHERE, THAT CHRISTIANS MEET IN? READ WITH US WHILE WE FIND OUT EXACTLY WHAT THE HOUSE OF GOD IS, AND THEN WE WILL LOOK AT SOME OF THE WAYS THAT JUDGMENT IS STRIKING THAT HOUSE IN OUR DAY.
We are going to deal with a somewhat different kind of message as we look into the writing of that apostle to whom was committed the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Our text is found in 1 Peter 4:10-19, and our main emphasis is going to be on verse 17, “Judgment Must Begin at the House of God.” People have quoted part of this verse and applied it to many situations throughout this age of grace, but I believe that by the help of God, we can give these words of the apostle a true application for our day. Naturally we all realize that anyone can pick up a bible and read these words, but it takes the Holy Ghost to quicken the words and make them real to our lives.
He is the author: He is the one that caused them to be written here in the first place. Therefore I ask that each of you will keep an open mind, and a receptive attitude toward Him as we begin reading here in verse 10. This could be read right along with what Paul wrote to the Romans, in chapter 12. They both spoke along the same lines. Notice now. “As every man hath received the gift, (That would be the gift of the Holy Ghost which in reality is the gift of eternal life.) even so minister the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” When you read the last part of that verse you have to realize that he is in the area of the gifts of the Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit is eternal life. which is the Spirit of Jesus Christ that indwells true believers. But the gifts (PLURAL) of the Spirit are those mentioned by the apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. and this is the area of Peter’s thinking whereby we are to minister to each other. There are certain callings that lay within the realm of the called out ministry, but there are also gifts within the body of believers, some with certain gifts, others with another, and so on throughout the whole body of Christ. Therefore we minister these gifts to each other in the same orderly way that the particular members of our natural body serve each other. The hand feeds the mouth, washes all the members, rubs a sore muscle, wipes a tear from the eye, and many other things, but the hand cannot see; that is a job for the eyes. Neither can they hear, or smell, but by cooperating with each other the normal body functions in completeness and harmony. So likewise should it be with the body of Christ as the particular members minister their gifts to each other. You did not receive spiritual gifts just for your own benefit; this is where being good stewards of the manifold grace of God, comes in. A lot of people think that just because Jesus used the parable of the talents to illustrate what the kingdom of heaven would be like, any time stewardship is mentioned it should be applied to how their money should be applied to the work of God. But I hope we can make it clear that stewardship in the eyes of God pertains to a lot more than money.
LET THE HOLY GHOST LEAD YOU
When Jesus was here on earth, the Holy Ghost in Him, working through Him, did things for the benefit of the people, that it might draw them to God. But when He went to glory to fulfill His high priest office work, all that He had been doing for the benefit of the people was to be carried on by the church. Therefore when the Holy Ghost descended upon those who were waiting in an upper room for the promise of the Father, it placed within their lives the ability to carry on the work of God among lost mankind. Now before I make this next statement let me remind you again, what we are dealing with. Judgment must begin at the house of God. This judgment must first take place in the spiritual realm, before it comes to its climax among ungodly mankind. Therefore as we return our thinking to the gifts of the Spirit, let us realize that Jesus did not stand upon earth in corporal body passing out gifts to His disciples. When a man is called to preach, it is not that Christ is present in corporal body doing the calling. How is it then? Simply this: the Holy Spirit begins to take the things of Christ and make them so real to that man, there is only one thing left for him to do, preach. It works the same way in every area of the spiritual gifts. It is simply the Holy Ghost using physical bodies of believers to carry on the ministry of Christ. Now here is the point of all this. If Jesus can pass out gifts to the church, call men to preach, and direct all the use of those gifts among the church without being physically present, then judgment can take place without His physical presence also. Saints, there are certain phases of judgment now taking place, and most people do not even realize it. That is why you hear me say, “This is no time to be playing church.” It is a time when every last one of us should be continuously pressing toward the mark for the prize that is set before us. We do not need soup suppers, bingo parties, and rummage sales in order to promote the work of Christ. If we are to be like the early church, let us give first priority to living a life for Jesus: then whatever the works side of our life is to be, it will definitely exemplify the indwelling Christ. It is a matter of allowing Him to express His attributes through us on behalf of the church as well as to lost souls out in the world. It seems that the church world in general has become so wrapped up and entangled with its materialistic programs, there is no room for the Holy Ghost to work, and without the Holy Ghost, people soon forget what the Christian life is to be. Then when you say something about all their vain efforts that go into their programs, they become offended. Nevertheless I must say it anyhow. Any effort you put out, no matter how worthy the cause may seem, is vain, unless the Spirit of God has led you. That includes knocking on doors, street corner preaching, all these marches and demonstrations, and every other effort that man’s zeal promotes. To be good stewards of the manifold grace of God is to allow the Holy Ghost to direct those gifts of the Spirit that the whole body may be benefited by their use These spiritual gifts are not for the world; they are for the body of Christ, and from that properly functioning body, He is able to reach out to lost souls without a lot of man made programs. There was no committee meeting to appoint Phillip to go out into the desert and witness to that Ethiopian eunuch who was hungering for God. If you will read Acts 8, you will discover that Phillip was directed by the Spirit, as to what to do. He would never have left that great meeting he was having there in Samaria, just to go out into the desert and help only one man, if he had not been willing to be led by the Spirit of God.
IDENTIFYING THE HOUSE OF GOD
Notice as we read verse 11 of our text. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” That points to the man who is called to function in the realm of the ministry. Whatsoever he speaks in the area of that calling, let him speak it as the very word of God. Just mere opinions and speculation has no place in the ministry. Anyone can do that. Speaking truth from the word of God will not always draw large crowds to hear you, but there is eternal value in doing so. On the other hand, men who are interested more in how many heads they can count in each service than they are in truth, will speak words designed to attract large crowds, but their efforts are vain as far as spiritual benefit is concerned. Therefore, Peter said, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God, (or as the voice of God.) When you read the book of Acts, you will not find those men in a competitive program. Each man knew his calling. Each man knew his own anointing, and he knew the ability that God had put within his life, and for what purpose it was there; therefore there was no striving. None of them had to worry about where they would preach the following Sunday. If they only preached one sermon in a year, it was in the will of God, and that was worth more in the redemptive program of God than 10,000 sermons preached to fit man’s programs. I know some of you have heard me say this, many times before, but I am going to say it again. God’s true church is not overstocked with preachers. Nowhere in the scriptures can you find where God ever had preachers on the shelf, just waiting for their chance to preach. You may think I am crazy talking like this, but it seems that we are living in a day when there are more preachers than there are people to preach to, and that opens the door for a competitive spirit to operate. We know that as long as Gentile time lasts, there will always be priests, bishops, doctors of divinity, and all such like; but, Saints, That is not the house of God. Get your mind off of this building also, and every other building that is called a church, for the house of God, (the church) is His redeemed people. My Bible tells me, we are as lively stones built up a spiritual house. (1 Peter 2:5) Then when I consider what Paul wrote to the Ephesians, it is very easy to see that the house of God is people, not buildings of natural wood, brick, and stone. Notice Ephesians 2:19-22. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone: In whom all the building (redeemed people) fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are budded together for an habitation (H-A-B-I-T-A-T-I-O-N) of God through the Spirit.” Realizing then, that we, as individuals, bonded together by the Spirit of God, actually make up the house of God, it just stands to reason that He should have the sovereign right to arrange and direct His own house. I hope you get the point. Those who get their eyes upon the mechanics of Christianity, lose the vision of what Jesus was primarily concerned with. In other words, in order to have a house in the first place, it was, and is still, necessary to deal with lost sinners. The gospel message brings them into His plan of salvation. Then, once they are in, He begins to instill certain truths in their mind and heart that will cause them to go down through life knowing beyond any shadow of doubt that they are fulfilling a purpose of God. The house of God is made up of these lively stones who minister to each other according to the gift of the Spirit that each one has been blessed with, as well as in natural things pertaining to this life.
GOD’S CHILDREN OVERCOME ALL THINGS
As we finish verse 11, we hear Peter say, “If any man (or any person of the body of Christ) minister, (this could be in any area of life.) Let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: (If we have any ability at all, God gave it.) that God in ALL things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Those two verses deal with the body as a whole, the building of God, how it should function, even though Peter did not go into as much detail as Paul did in Romans 12. Nevertheless it sets the stage for him to move from the body as a whole, over to the individual believers of that body, as we find him doing in verse 12. Notice, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” There is not a believer among us that has not had some kind of serious trial in life, and possibly some of you are going through such a trial at this very moment. In either case, let me say this – First of all, your trial is not a new one; some have already gone through the very same thing. Then secondly, be assured that as a believer who loves God it will have to work for some basic purpose in God’s plan of perfection for you. That is according to scripture, which is what we live by as children of God. (Romans 8:28) When a trial hits a person it does one of two things; It will either draw you closer to God, or it will cause you to doubt God. Many people who have been professing to be Christians for years have a trial hit their life, and the first thing you know, they are so discouraged. You can hear them say, I am just going to give up, I’m not going back to church anymore, I am just going to quit trying to live the life, and many other such statements, but none of those remarks should ever be uttered from the lips of a true child of God. If such thoughts come to your mind and you begin to entertain them: I say, You had better start examining your life. Check up on your experience with God. Just where in your life did God deal with you, and what was there about it that caused you to even say you were a Christian? Now you may say, Bro. Jackson: That is pretty strong language you are using. It certainly is, but it is according to the word of God. The Bible tells us that whosoever is born of God overcometh the world. That includes everything the devil throws at you, regardless of whether it affects your spirit, or just your flesh. There may be times when many negative and disappointing thoughts come to our minds, and they may cause much anguish of the soul, but if we have truly been born of the Spirit of God, in the end it is that overcoming Spirit which indwells you that claims the victory. He is that all sufficient one in you, that is greater than he that is in the world. Hallelujah! Praise His wonderful name! I am so thankful that I do not have to depend completely upon my own strength in times of great trial and tests. You see, it really is not you that does the overcoming, for when you finally reach the point where you yield completely to God, your victory is secured already. You just wait for the manifestation. For total victory it must come to a point where we say, Lord I am going to live for you regardless of circumstances, for the things of this world are not worth giving up eternal life for. Trials, tests, compromising pleasures, and all such like are of very short duration, but eternity without God is such a long time.
FIERY TRIALS PERFECT GOD’S CHILDREN
Saints of God, the fiery trials which come upon us are allowed by God for a definite purpose in our lives. Many times they bring about a judging of certain things about our nature, our fleshly makeup, and so forth. That is God’s way of molding us, and creating within us a more perfect image and likeness to Jesus Christ. Any one who has ever read the New Testament, should know that Jesus (the perfect Son of God) was a man that faced many trials. Persecution and ridiculement were not strange to Him. He faced opposition and hindering obstacles in everything He did. The devil threw everything he had at Him. Every time He went to Jerusalem, He got into trouble with the religious leaders of His day. It seemed like they could find something wrong with everything He and His disciples would do. They could not even walk through the grain fields and eat a few grains of wheat without the Pharisees squawking; or even heal a sick person on the Sabbath day. His good was constantly evil spoken of: He was the object of constant criticism. Therefore, let us understand that obedience to God is not an automatic freedom from everything that troubles us. But there is a great reward for all who face those trials with a proper attitude toward God, and faith and confidence in His word. Listen to Paul in Hebrews 12. “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself. LEST YE BE WEARIED AND FAINT IN YOUR MINDS.- Jesus could see beyond the cross, beyond the suffering of it, beyond the rejection of so many, beyond the crown of thorns which brought blood streaming down His face, to the glory that would be His when all things were fulfilled. I might add also, His pain was just as severe as yours could ever be. The fact that He was God according to the Spirit, did not make the pain and suffering in His flesh any less. Therefore if it was necessary for Him to suffer like that, who are we, that we should be immune to suffering and anguish of the soul? That is why Peter said, When these things come upon you, do not look upon them as though you are the only one that has ever been tested in such a way. What did he say we should do? then? “Rejoice.” Oh! Bro. Jackson; How can a person rejoice when it seems like everything is falling apart in their life? First of all, ask yourself if you really do believe the word of God. Do I believe that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose? (Rom. 8:28) If you can answer that question in a positive way, then listen to Peter, in the rest of verse 13. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. Naturally we cannot mention every area that some believer may be tested in, so let us just take sickness for one. No one wants to be sick, and no believer necessarily should be sick, unless there be a definite purpose behind it, within the will of God. Listen to me for a minute, and try to understand my illustration. Sometimes when people do get sick they allow the devil to climb on their back and fill their minds with all sorts of thoughts designed to drag them down even lower than they are already. They hear that accusing voice, saying, “Now if you were where you should be, you know you would not be sick; doesn’t the Bible say, “By His stripes ye were healed?,” This causes such people to think. I definitely have done something wrong; I thought I was believing the Lord to keep me free from sickness, but I must not have enough faith. If the devil can find this kind of attitude and mind in a person, he then knows they do not rightly divide the word of truth, therefore he exerts every possible effort to keep them as miserable as possible. He will sit upon their shoulder and whip them half to death with his perversions of the word of God.
REJOICING IN SUFFERING
You have all read the story of how God allowed Job to be tested, and there are times when such an application can be made to people in this very age of time, but certainly, we ought not try to apply that to every situation we know of many times a believer is right on the verge of stepping out to do something that would put him out of the will of God. In such cases, God sometimes allows some little sickness to take hold of his life to prevent him from going ahead with it. Many people have the idea that sickness cannot be used in the plan of God for our lives, and certainly, we do not want to give any glory to the devil, but we must realize that God knows just exactly when to apply certain things to accomplish His purpose. I have had this happen in my own life, either in my own body, or that of one of my family, and as I am able to look back upon those times, I have to realize; that was just a test, something that Satan was permitted to do, to test my reaction, my attitude toward God, and my confidence in His word. At any rate, no matter what happens to you, nor how serious it may seem at the time; if you are a true child of God, you can always rejoice in the knowledge that there is victory up ahead. In 1 John 5:4, we read these words. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Saints, the point is this: anything that serves to mold us a little more into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ is worth rejoicing about, no matter how much suffering is involved. Then let me say this; Do not allow yourself to just surrender up to sickness nor any other of the devil’s devices as a permanent thing, for anything that God is using is for a season. Furthermore, I just used sickness here to make a point; but we must make the application to whatever it applies to in our own particular lives. We certainly know that Jesus was never sick, but He suffered much in other areas, for in Hebrews 2:10, we read. “For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation (JESUS) perfect through suffering.” So Peter says, “Rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.” Then he goes ahead to say this, “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye: for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” Now we get down to where people talk about you. That is what being reproached for the name of Christ is. People criticize you, make fun of you, and even shun you, but do not rule out the possibility that God may be using that to perfect something in you.
REPROACHED FOR CHRIST
None of us like to be talked about and criticized, but if God can use something like that to help us, then so be it. If there is something in you that requires that kind of pressure to mold you into a little more of the image of Christ, then God will allow some carnal mouth to go to work on you. Do not feel that it has to be someone in the tavern down the street doing the talking either, for it will most likely be someone you look upon as a Holy Ghost filled Christian. There are a lot of Christians that have never grown up enough in the stature of Christ, to know how to control their tongue, and bring their motives in line with the scriptures. They see a little something, or hear something, and away they go, talking about you to anyone who will listen to them. You know what I mean. Here is what happens though; God uses that immaturity in them to deal with a condition in you. Then, later on, he deals with such a person to help them. I hope my illustration is clear to you. What you must realize is, that we are living in the days just before the coming of Jesus Christ to rapture a people that have been perfected. When that hour arrives, it will be too late to make any last minute changes; therefore God is using circumstances that we never even dreamed He would use, to mold us into something that will be acceptable to Jesus when He comes. Furthermore, He will not wait until He gets here to make that inspection; the Holy Ghost is doing that daily. When that trump of God sounds, the bride will be standing ready, clothed in fine linen, clean and white. Paul said we would be caught up together with those who are resurrected from the dead, to meet Jesus in the air. Whatever it takes to get me ready for that event, may the grace of God administer it to me, even if it be delivered by the hands of Satan. Amen! Praise God! Let us look on a little further now. It is the Spirit of glory resting upon you that causes you to be reproached for the name of Christ, but that is something to be happy about. In other words, if you really are a true child of God who has purposed to walk in the Spirit. letting the Spirit of God guide your life to bring it in line with His word, then your flesh as well as your spirit must constantly face certain situations that will make you more aware ofHis word. We were not born Into the family of God with a full knowledge of what the will of God for our lives is; for just like in the natural; there is a lot of growing up to do. You can tell a little three year old child not to put his hand on the stove, but sooner or later, it will get too close. Then, once they learn by practical experience, they never have to be told again. It works the same way with the word of God; there are many things in there that never actually become a reality to us, until we are faced with a situation where it has a practical application that makes us more like Jesus. Then it becomes revelated to you. That is the very reason why we should never plan a program for a church service; we do not know what God may want to do when we come together. If you have your bulletin printed up days in advance, announcing who is going to lead in prayer, what songs you will sing, how long the preacher will preach, and every little detail covered, where could the Spirit of God possibly work in your service? He simply will not bend Himself to fit the programs of men. You can affirm that for yourself, simply by taking note of how dead, denominational churches are. There is no life left in those church systems. God has moved out of them with the individuals who love His word enough to abide by what they learn from it. He may still reach into those systems now and then, to lead a hungry soul out of bondage, but He is not there to bless their man made programs.
TRUTH BRINGS ABOUT CHANGES
All right now, we are going to examine the other side of this thing. If you suffer because of Christ, be happy about it, “But let none of you (believers) suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” What is he actually saying here, in verse 15? Simply this, Be absolutely certain that you are not guilty of the things people accuse you of. If you really are a busybody, always sticking your nose into the business of other people, then you are not being reproached because of Christ, you are not suffering without a cause. If you are guilty of any of these things, you deserve to have the finger pointed at you. Some people get so upset when they are unable to find out every little detail about everything that is happening, or being said. You can hear them as they run from one to the other, Who said that? What did he say? Why did he say that? Tell me about so and so. How many of you have noticed that about certain people? I have always felt like this; we should not even desire to know all about everything that is being said. We should be happy just to hear those things that convince us in our hearts that we are children of God. Then if there is anything else that we need to know for our spiritual benefit, God will see that we hear it also. A lot of Christian people will spend 10 hours talking about something they have heard, and only 10 minutes praying about it, if that. Brothers and sisters, we ought to be thankful when our ears are spared from hearing some of the things that are being talked about. Things that are not beneficial for me to know, I couldn’t care less about hearing. Now saints, please take what I have said, in the right way. My point is, we should not be busybodies. We should never have to suffer because we are guilty of doing wrong. There is no reward for that kind of suffering. On the other hand, listen to verse 16. “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” This lets me know, there comes a time in the life of every Christian, that they need a little more trimming. We received a letter just a few days ago, from a sister who wrote, Bro. Jackson: Just let one of us even mention your name, and these people around here think we have gone crazy. Now that doesn’t make you feel good to hear a thing like that. But she went ahead to tell how many years she had been going to church, and then said that she had learned more from the Contenders she had read, than she learned from going to church all those years. That part made me feel better, but we do not want to glorify any flesh in these things, for to God belongs all the glory. I just want to be sure that when I am criticized, it is because of the truth of God’s word that I stand for. Believe me, If you take a stand for the truth, you will be criticized by your friends, relatives, and so forth, that do not see what you see. We have some people here today that are going to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, a little later, but there is no reason to expect that they will go without being criticized. When all your life you have been associated with folks who believe that God is three persons, and then one day God shines light upon your pathway, and leads you into true Christian water baptism, you are stepping into a whole new way of life; you can never be the same again – But that will not guarantee you a life free from persecution. That is where your persecution starts, but Peter said, Do not be ashamed, just glorify God. When you are walking in spiritual darkness, like most of us were at one time, no one notices; But when God shines His light upon your pathway, and you begin to walk in that light, everyone notices, and the devil does not like it, so he begins to set traps for you, and tries to get all a your old friends either to persecute you, or try to drag you back where you came from. One thing is sure though, God knows all them that are His, and He knows where every last one of them are, and what it will take to redeem them from their captivity, and set their soul free in Jesus Christ. Even in the most remote area of the Congo, if there is one of God’s elect children there, he will bring about some situation that will reach that soul with His light, even if He has to cause the wind to pick up a tract or something, and deliver it to that person. That is why we can say, There will be no extra plates at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and neither will there be a shortage. God’s redemptive work is precise and complete; But regardless of where you come from, your critics will find you. First they will try to talk you out of what you have found, just as it was with me. Bro. Jackson, we believe that we can love the Lord without getting all tied up in something, and without getting so fanatical about it. What we call, following truth, is what they call fanaticism. Therefore I would say to these who are to be buried in the precious name of the Lord Jesus Christ, May the truth of God’s word get down deep within your souls, and become a vibrant part of your every day activity. The joy of a life lived for Jesus, is worth all the ridicule that could ever come your way. As a matter of fact, it is that great joy that gets us in trouble in the first place. As God’s truth begins to bubble up in your soul, you just have to talk about it. But the very moment you begin to tell your cousins, your aunts and uncles, and your close friends and neighbors, you have invited trouble for yourself. No, I am not telling you to keep it a secret; you could never do that anyhow, for when God gets hold of your life people can see the change. I am only telling you what to expect. They will tell you to be awfully careful, for you may be getting involved in false doctrine, or even in a cult. They will say to each other, So and So used to be a fine fellow, until he got mixed up with those fanatics, over there, and many other things. But nevertheless, God will use all of that. He always allows someone to hack at anyone who begins to walk in truth. Now some of you may say, Why would God allow anything like that, when we are walking in truth, in what we believe to be the will of God? It is to test you; just getting baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is no guarantee that you can stand the pressures of ridicule and persecution. Everything we receive from the word of God must be tested, for it is these tests, that enables that truth to make us a little more Christ-like. It will either do that, or we will become discouraged and draw back, one or the other. Just remember this, though, no matter what happens; If it is truth you received, it will stand up through any and all tests, but the important thing on the part of every individual is, Do you have that truth by revelation, or have you just taken hold of it with the mind? We all know that our mind is the doorway to our spirit; everything passes through it first, but if it never gets beyond your intellect, it will not hold up against all the accusations and ridicule that Satan will bring against you. On the other hand, that which becomes a revelation to you, will remain to be a part of you, no matter how rough the road gets. Therefore settle it in your hearts once and for all. Is what you have, worth dying for, if it comes to that point? It was, to those early Christians. Read your Bibles, and see for yourselves. You will see also, that it was not the drunks and gamblers and such like, that persecuted them; it was religious people, and that is the very ones that will persecute you. We can say almost anything to the average man of the world, and he will not take issue with us, but you just let some of these religious characters hear you start talking about something that is not in their church creed and you had better be ready to take your stand, for they will challenge you. Not necessarily with the scriptures, but with their traditions.
HOW TARES CREPT INTO THE CHURCH ASSEMBLIES
Saints: Do you know where those anti-word traditions and creeds had their beginning? Right in the first church age, while some of those original apostles of Christ were still alive. That is why Peter wrote as he did here; He, like Paul and John, and others, thought Christ would return in their lifetime. They had witnessed a great decline of enthusiasm for truth among the body of believers, as the tares began to spring up in their midst. That compromising spirit was doing its work, and it was a cause for alarm to those who recognized what was happening. Therefore, Peter took this occasion to set a few things straight among them. He reminds them how they, who in times past had no part in the things of God, have now been revealed to be a holy priesthood who may offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. He tells them that even though they are free in Jesus Christ, their freedom, or liberty should not be used as a cloak of maliciousness, but rather as servants of God. He reminds them that it is much better to suffer because of well doing, than for evil doing, if the will of God be so. He has seen things change so much that he feels there is only one way that it can be dealt with. Verse 7, in chapter 4, reveals that he thought the end was at hand, so after admonishing and instructing them, he says, (verse 17) “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved – Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Almost 30 years have passed since the church had its beginning, and Satan has had time to sow his tares among God’s good crop, and Peter seeing this influx of growing opposition creeping in to persecute and harass the true believers, he is moved to write this epistle. Please keep in mind, it was not Catholicism, Methodism, Episcopalian, Baptist, nor any other of these brands in Peter’s day; it was just the church. In other words, there were no denominational titles associated with the church in those days, but he saw things creeping in that did not belong in God’s church, and he knew there was only one remedy for it. That was, for God to sit up a system of judgment. Naturally since he believed they were living very close to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, his thoughts took in the whole scope of things, and he ended up by saying, “If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Nineteen hundred years have passed since Peter wrote those words, and that same setting has been present in every generation. Did this truth have its judgment affect in every generation, you may ask. No. As a matter of fact, that spirit of Antichrist grew stronger and stronger until it led the church off into the Dark Ages. As false teaching was magnified, it choked the life of the church and began to bring it down from its great spiritual level, to a worldly level where the tares ruled it by head knowledge, rather than saints by the leading of the Holy Ghost. Throughout all Europe, Christianity became known as a religious system, and not until our generation was the church ever in a position where this scripture could actually be fulfilled. I believe we are living in the day when this epistle will be fully applied, and there will be a complete purging of the body of believers. Do not try to apply it in denominational circles, it is only for those whom God has dealt with on the basis of revealed truth. It will be universal in scope, but only among God’s chosen bride people, which in the mind of God, is the church. The Bible says that the church is the pillar and ground of truth, therefore all religious systems are ruled out, because they are structured upon rituals and traditions of men. The true church of the living God is to hold up truth. Peter, Paul, James and John, and all those others who wrote, saw the beginning of the church, and any time they used the term, church, it applied only to those who followed truth. It is only on this side of the Dark Ages that the word has taken on such a vast scope in its application. When you look in the dictionary for the definition of this word, you can find ever so many definitions, but you seldom find one that carries the same thought the apostles had when they referred to the church of the living God.
Brothers and sisters: God knew the church would go the route it did, and He also knew that those apostles who believed Christ would come back during their lifetime, would all be dead and their bodies planted in the ground, and that the church would live on through hundreds of years of time. He knew that Satan would do everything within his power to transform Christianity into a religious institution that just anyone could feel comfortable being a part of, and He knew that Satan would have such a system. But most important of all, He knew that what the world calls, the church, is not the church at all. We have many ex-Catholics among us. They were raised under the influence and dogmatic persuasions of that system, and they were taught that Catholicism was the original, founded by St. Peter, and turned over to the succession of their popes. But there came a time in the lives of these people that God shined light upon their souls, and that light revealed to them that they were in an Antichrist system, rather than the church of the living God. Their teachings are as strange to revealed truth as light is to darkness. In other words, there is no compatibility. The true church of the living God cannot snuggle up to that old apostate system just for the sake of peace and harmony in what they call worship. For the Bible itself declares that those who worship God, (who Himself is a sovereign Spirit) must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) He couldn’t care less about your six million dollar buildings, your stained glass windows, and your trained choirs that stand and sing with such disciplined perfection, about a blessed holy trinity, a God who is represented in three persons. Let me tell you something right now. Anyone who has more than ONE God is a pagan, no matter how pious they may be. Does not the scriptures declare that Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light? Does it not say also, that it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness: whose end shall be according to their works. For you who may not know, their end will be the lake of fire, along with all who are deceived by them. No devil can worship God in Spirit and in truth, for they neither have the spirit, nor the truth. The only people upon the face of the earth who can truly worship God, are those who have been BAPTIZED into the body of Christ by the BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST, according to 1 Corinthians 12:13. There is a vast difference between just living a good moral life, being honest and upright in all your affairs and being able to worship God in spirit and in truth, in the sense that Jesus spoke it. Nevertheless, regardless of what your attitude toward God and truth may be, we are living in the hour of time for Peter’s epistle to have its fulfillment. Judgment truly is having its affect in our day, and just like it says here in our text, it must first begin at the house of God, and the house of God is people, not natural buildings of wood, brick, and stone. Many times, we have thought, in relation to scriptures such as this, that this judgment was to be like it was in Acts 5, with Ananias and his wife Sapphira, but that is one of the last phases of this judgment. There is much to be accomplished within the ranks of the body of Christ before it comes down to that point.
DEAD STALKS — DEAD SYSTEMS
For the sake of illustration, let us just suppose that Jesus will return for His church, ten years from now. Do you actually think He is coming to call 25 from the Catholic ranks, 20 from the Baptist, 20 from the Methodists, the Lutherans. the trinity Pentecost, the Presbyterians, and so on? I hope most of you know better than that. Those systems served their purpose coming out of the Dark Ages, just like the corn stalks out here in our fields. In other words, life comes up through that stalk and goes into the grains of corn that come out from that stalk. Then the stalk dries up completely, never to have life in it again. You could never put enough fertilizer and water to it to revive it, once it reaches that point. What happens next? The farmer goes through the field and picks from those old dead stalks, everything that is like the original seed he planted a few months earlier. Reaping his crop involves certain phases of judgment on the part of the farmer. The crop is inspected, tested, separated, and placed according to the predetermined plan of the farmer. The old stalk that once had life is as dead as a doornail; it is rejected by the man, who is only interested in the finished product. Does that not help you understand how God looks upon these church systems in this age of time? Jesus is coming, only for those that are fashioned after His own image, those who have already been gathered out of those old dead systems, and brought to maturity. He does not have to be on the scene in the form of flesh to accomplish this; He does it by His Spirit. That is why it is so essential to be sensitive to the Spirit of truth that is among us. If Jesus stood in physical flesh, instructing us, it would be very easy to know what He wanted us to do; it would not require any faith. But this is a faith walk from earth to glory. That is why the writer of Hebrews said, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6) Therefore only those who may be led by His Spirit will ever come out from among the ranks of the dead, and be made ready for His glorious appearing. Now I just used a span of ten years just for the sake of what I want to say, that is, If Jesus comes 10 years from today, that will be too soon for a lot of people who somehow feel that He is coming for them. A lot of people want Him to return, but they do not want it to be that soon. There are just too many things they want to get done first. Faith Assembly: Listen to me. If in your minds there are a lot of things you want to get done before Jesus comes, chances are, you will miss Him when He does come. We are to live our lives, seeking to please Him, and to be like Him, so that any moment He appears we will be ready to go. Those who constantly say, Lord give me a little more time to get ready, say such things without yielding their will to Him. When we yield fully to Him, that is our assurance that we will be ready to meet Him when He comes. That in itself rules out any possibility to bride saints remaining in denominational systems until He comes, for His word tells us to come out from among all such as do not follow truth, and be a separated people. If it was the will of God for everyone just to remain where he is, or was, until Jesus comes for us, then it was vain for Peter, Paul, or anyone else to speak of persecution for Christ; there wouldn’t be any Tell me this, When did your persecution start? I am speaking to you who have had to pay the price of some form of persecution already, because of your faith in Christ. It was when you began to hunger in your soul, for something your old system was not feeding you, and you began to sit at a table, spiritually speaking, where you could be fed something that would satisfy your appetite.
TRYING TO REVIVE DEAD STALKS
I started to tell, earlier, what happened with me, when I began to see some things in the Bible that the Methodist church did not teach, yet I knew in my heart that it was truth. I began to see predestination, I began to see eternal security of the believer, and the Methodist would not touch either of these Bible truths with a ten foot pole, so to speak. Nevertheless, our pastor at that time, who was a student in the seminary at Wilmore, Ky., came to me, and said, Raymond: I am going to be gone for two weeks, you take care of the church while I am away. What do you suppose I did that first Sunday morning? I stood there in that little Methodist church, at Elizabeth, and preached predestination and eternal security to them. You know the old saying, When the cat is away, the mouse will play. I have heard it all my life, and this reminded me of it; But I want you to know, He was not a cat; I was not a mouse; and I was not playing. I saw these truths in the word of God, and I was as serious as I could have possibly been. But you just don’t do that sort of thing in a Methodist church without getting into trouble with someone. In this case, it was the Sunday school superintendent that paid me a visit, and said, Now Raymond, we know that there are certain things in the Bible, that is no doubt truth, but we believe that if the church (the Methodist church) does not teach them, we ought to just leave them alone. That made me feel bad. I knew it was truth, and I wanted the church to have it, but they did not want it. Then as time went on, I received the light on receiving the Holy Ghost, and began to teach a little of that. This time it was the pastor that came to see me, and it went something like this, Raymond: Are you sure of this experience you say you have received? I said, I am sure. Well, Raymond, I will not question your testimony on what you have received, but I do feel that we owe the Methodist church something. After all, that is where you were saved, so the least you can do, is cooperate with them, and go along with their teaching. After he got back out to his car, I said, Brother, I want you to know that everything I have, I received it from the Lord, therefore I do not feel that I owe the Methodist church anything for it. Raymond, I am sorry that is the way you feel about it. That was the end of our talk, but I knew my days in Methodism were numbered, after that. If I stayed in there much longer, I would just have a lot of enemies hounding me. I am sure that many of you have had similar experiences; that is one way God has to get us out of those systems and into a place where He can perfect Christ-likeness in us. Naturally when we first began to attend some of the meetings in the realm of Holy Ghost filled people, and were hearing things that were blessing our souls so much I thought, This is what Rogers Campground Church needs, I am going to take this back, and revive that old country church. That is what I thought, but that is not what happened. The old building is still there, but groundhogs, wasps, and dirt dobbers are about all that ever use it. God did not intend for those denominational systems to be revived, He would no more pour His Spirit into those old dead systems, than a farmer would pour water and fertilizer on a field of nothing but old dead corn stalks. God is only interested in the few predestinated souls that still remain in those systems. He will do whatever is necessary to get them out, but He definitely will not try to revive the old dead systems. This generation has passed through the days of Billy Sunday, Dwight L. Moody, Billy Graham, and various others which brought converts into our systems of religion, mainly on John 3:16, Romans 5:8, Matthew 28:19, and such like, but never actually got down to the doctrine of Christ which it takes to add stature to our inner man. I do not say that to detract anything from what God used those men for, that is, evangelism mainly from the salvational aspect of the word of God; But Saints, we are living so close to the coming of the Lord, His judgment must work in our midst in order to perfect that which He is coming for.
CARNALITY CANNOT UNDERSTAND SPIRITUALITY
Dwight L. Moody was greatly used of God in his hour, but he has been dead since 1899, yet there are those who still remember those revival fires that were lit by his ministry. Billy Sunday died in 1935, just prior to the time when God was getting ready to introduce a prophet to this age, a church age messenger who would call the bride of Jesus Christ from the ranks of those converts that had been added to those church systems. Now, that prophet messenger is gone from the scene, and there is still much to be done before Jesus comes for His bride. Bro. Jackson, Don’t you believe He could come just any day now? I know there are a lot of people who believe that, and I have been asked that question more than a few times, but my answer remains the same. He could come for any of us individually, just any minute. We are just one breath away from that, as far as we know. That is why we ought to be ready at all times to meet Him. But listen to me now He cannot come for the catching away of the living element of His bride until all the scriptures are fulfilled which must proceed that catching away. There is an Ezekiel 38 & 39, war to be fought. There are the seven thunders of Revelation 10:3, yet for the bride before she leaves, as well as the man of sin to be revealed according to 2 Thessalonians 2:3. and other things that must proceed His coming for the rapture. But do not allow this to discourage you, or cause you to be lax with your spiritual life, for He may come for you, or me, just any day now. We need to allow the Spirit of God to mold us day by day, by the washing of the water by His word, so that we may have the answer of a good conscience before Him at all times. In other words, we have to give up our spiritual milk bottle, and begin to eat of the meat of God’s word. Why? Because all whom He has foreknown as the bride of Christ are to reflect the image of Jesus Christ, and that can only come by partaking fully of all the word of God. When you see Jesus in the scriptures, the character He portrayed, the image He projected, and His complete submission to the will of the Father, then you can know what He wants His church to be like, and you should know also that He will not accept anything else. We have used it before, but it is still in the Bible, and it is still truth, so we will read it again. I am talking about Romans 8:29, which says, “For whom He did FOREKNOW, He also did PREDESTINATE to be conformed to the IMAGE OF HIS SON, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” That very verse of scripture standing alone, should be enough to convince anyone who reads it, that counting beads on a rosary, burning candles in a church building, and reading prayers from a prayer book, will never project the image that God is looking for. We have a parallel situation in progress in our day. God is calling His grace age church out of denominational systems and bringing them home to His word, and He is calling Jews out of the nations of the world, and bringing them back home to the land that He gave to their father Abraham. He is doing this by His Spirit, therefore only those who are supposed to go will go. All the others will remain just as they are for the present time, I will say this though; there will come a day when many of those Jews who did not go home, will regret it, for they will miss seeing and hearing those two prophets of God that will bear witness of Jesus Christ for 3 1/2 years there in that land. In the meanwhile though, they probably look at some of those who all of a sudden just pull up stakes and go to Israel, and wonder why anyone would want to do a thing like that. We know the reason though, the same Spirit that put a hunger in our hearts for the word of God when we were still in denominations, is putting it into their hearts to go home to Israel. Naturally those who have not been dealt with in that way could never understand. It is the same way with us Gentiles that God has called out of denominations. Those who have never hungered for anything beyond what their system feeds them, could never understand why anyone would rather meet in a small storefront room with two dozen other people, than go uptown to a million dollar building where they have two thousand members. If the Spirit of God has never dealt with you like that, you cannot understand such a thing. Spiritually speaking, some people are content with milk and crackers week after week, but there comes a time in the life of every predestined seed, that he just gets to feeling like he must have some meat to eat. He gets hungry for a good square meal, and crackers and milk will not satisfy that hunger. He may be the Sunday school superintendent of the largest Baptist church in his city, but when the Spirit of God puts a hunger in his soul for something more than his denomination can offer, sooner or later he has to go where he can be fed. Then his old associates will begin to say. Poor old Joe has gotten himself mixed up with a bunch of fanatics. He was one of the most loyal members we had up until he started associating with them, and now he won’t even come back to visit us. Why go back? If they do not have what your hungry soul is longing for, there is no reason to go back. It is very difficult to move on with God when you spend so much time looking back. Of course we know that not everyone who comes out of denominations is going to go all the way with God, but from those that come out, He will perfect and purify in every aspect of Christian living, a people for His great name, a people that will honor and glorify Him.
PREPARING TO HARVEST
When He brought the Israelites out of Egypt, there was a great, mixed multitude that came out, some of them looking back longing for what they had left behind, and while they were like that, they were in no shape to conquer Canaan land. But I want you to realize that when God finished 40 years of dealing with that nation, in the wilderness, they were ready to go over and lay hold on their inheritance. Now you all know what took place during those 40 years; God’s judgment process purified their ranks. The fearful and unbelieving died off, and those who were left, were ready to follow their leader right into their promised land. Hallelujah! Can you see what God is doing in our day? He is perfecting a people who will by faith, lay hold upon every promise and provision that the word of God provides for those who believe. A lot of people think they have faith as long as everything is running smoothly for them, as long as they are in good health, and no one talks about them or crosses them in any way. But you let a little something go wrong, let a little trial come upon them, and the first thing you hear is, This is too much for me. I just can’t take any more. I’m going to have to have a cigarette or a bottle of beer, or something to settle my nerves and help me pull myself together. How many of you have heard people talk like that? It doesn’t sound very much like the same victory that was in the souls of Paul and Silas down there in that old PhilippIan jail with their feet in stocks; does it? At midnight, those fellows were praying and singing praises to God, and they made no effort to hold their voices down either, for it says, the other prisoners heard them. Neither were they just putting on a show, for if they had been, they would not have had the results they had. God was so pleased with their attitude, and the joy that was bubbling up in their souls, that He sent an angel to shake that old prison door open and loose all their shackles. Do you think God would have done that, if Paul and Silas had taken the attitude that some of you have taken when a little trial hit you? Bro Jackson: Are you saying that God would do a thing like that for me? What I am saying is, that God will do whatever is necessary to fulfill His purpose in His true children, and to preserve their souls unto their full inheritance. If there comes a time when shaking your prison doors open will glorify God, then it is reasonable to expect Him to do it, for He does not change. Neither has His purpose changed. The big difference is this, Paul and Silas lived in God’s planting season, and we are living in His harvesting season; therefore different methods are being applied. You do not harvest corn with a corn planter, you have to use a corn picker. In the sowing or planting process you put good seed into the ground, but when it comes harvest time, there must be a separating process. You do not make bread out of those old dead stalks and shucks. Instead, you are harvesting only that which is an exact reproduction of the seed you planted. Now saints, here is your spiritual application. The farmer does not judge and separate his crop from all that is hanging onto and around it until harvest time, and according to Matthew 13:30, and 37-43, God operates the same way in the realm of the Spirit. His judgments here at the end of Gentile time will separate His perfected people who through faith have held to His word, regardless of how hard the trials of life have been. Praise God! I want to be found faithful in all things! Don’t you?
JUDGMENT HAS MANY PHASES
If we can just learn to be led completely, by the Spirit of God; we will always be in the right place, at the right time, and then we will not have to bite our tongues because we have said the wrong things. Many times, if I just stepped up here and said everything I feel that I know about certain things, there would be precious people present, that would be hurt because they did not understand. For that reason, I always do my utmost to allow God to direct what is to be said. Then if someone is offended, they will have been offended by the truth that God wanted to present, and not because I just took occasion to run off at the mouth and hit them with everything in the book. God has His season for everything, and we do not need to rush anything. Take our text, for instance. God inspired Peter to speak those words, “For the time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God,” more than 1900 years ago, but I want you to know, that if judgment had been applied then, about half of what is written in the epistles of the New Testament would never have been needed. There would never have been any conditions in the church for them to deal with. In other words God let Peter know that there was a judgment coming to the church, but He did not let him know when it would be applied. When Peter began to see certain things creep into the church that he knew did not belong there, he knew by the Spirit that was in him, that they would have to be judged, but Jesus had already spoken the parables, and every one of those parables had to be fulfilled; therefore those conditions were allowed to develop and run throughout seven church ages, and now we are certain that Peter’s words are being fulfilled in our day. It was for the last days, and we are living in the last days. Of course some will say. “How do you know it is the last days now? Every generation has thought that.” God did not reveal the scriptures pertaining to the seven church ages to past generations. Neither did they have a revelation of the other prophecies that would need to be fulfilled before the end of the age would come. We have both the revelation and the fulfillment of those necessary scriptures that enables us to know that Gentile time is running out. Therefore knowing that, we also know that every word of the scriptures pertaining to judgment and perfection of the grace age church will have to be fulfilled before she goes to meet the bridegroom. This judgment could not have been applied while the house of God was still scattered throughout denominational systems, but now that God has called His true people out of those systems. This judgment is for them. I must keep stressing the fact that this house of God is His Holy Ghost filled people, and not the meeting place where they gather together for fellowship and worship There are groups of saints gathered together in various kinds of structures, all around the world today, and I want you to know, it takes every last one of those true saints to make up the house of God. The house of God will be completed when that last predestined soul has heard the gospel and surrendered his or her life to Christ. In the past, it has been just like building material for a particular building, scattered all around from place to place, it had to be collected up and put together. Part of this judgment process is applied to get God’s building material out of those denominational systems. There are so many phases of it, that it makes it difficult to pin down to where you can actually say. This is it. For instance, if you see someone doing wrong, and some tragedy strikes them, either to straighten them out, or to get them out of the way: it is easy to say, That was the judgment hand of God at work. But you must realize that everything that moved you from where you were, to where you are now, was also the judgment of God. It keeps on working until every predestined soul becomes one with the word of God. That is the reason John could say, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God. and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: (or be like) but we know that, when He (Christ Jesus) shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” We become sons of God when we are baptized into the body of Christ by the baptism of the Holy Ghost, according to 1 Corinthians 12:13. but it takes a lot of washing by the waters of the word of God to fashion us into the image of Christ where it can be said that we are like Him. It takes a lot of judgment between those two points to accomplish that. Those who think of the judgment of God only from the final state, as it was with Ananias and Sapphira, are missing the most important part. There may very well be some of that, as we reach the final stages of our perfection, but I can assure you, the rapture will be so close, there will not be very many wanting to be a part of us. When it comes to that, you will not find anyone just playing around with the word of God, as so many are so prone to do yet. In that hour, you will not find anyone getting offended in one assembly, and running to another, trying to find someone who will take sides with them. No. They would be afraid someone would be burying them, before they reached their destination.
FAITHFUL AND WISE SERVANTS
We want to take some time now, and talk about how certain parables fit into the program of God. Open your Bibles to Matthew 24:45; where we will begin reading. Jesus has been talking about events of the endtime, prior to the time He spoke this certain parable. He had even reached all the way over to His literal coming, after the great tribulation, but then He reverted back to the catching away, and of the days prior to that when the church should be watching for His appearing in the clouds for them, and in verse 45, He says, “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom, his lord hath made ruler over his household to give them meat in due season?” There is a key word here, that lets us know Jesus spoke this as a future tense condition. Notice the word, THEN. “Who THEN (when?) is a faithful and wise servant? We must also establish the fact of WHAT and WHO this applies to in order to understand the WHEN of it. This speaks of a man who has been called into the ministry here in these last days, a man who is charged with the responsibility of feeding fresh meat (revelated word of God) to the church of the living God, during the days when Gentile time is running out, and the bride is watching for her bridegroom. Being made ruler of the household, (the true church of God) speaks of a position of authority. Therefore what we must see here is a true man of God feeding the true church in the last days, before the rapture takes place. That gives you the who, what and when of verse 45, and due season is the time that God is opening up the revelation of scriptural truth that other generations were not privileged to understand. Brothers and sisters: There are a lot of preachers running from place to place in this age of time, but I want you to understand that the ones who are carrying fresh meat for the church are few and far between. I do not say that to exalt myself in any way whatsoever; but truth is truth; not many of them are carrying meat. Most of those who claim to be in this end time message, carry nothing but quotes. What they are feeding, was fresh meat 16-20 years ago, but to quote that year after year is no different than what the denominations are doing. What they feed every Sunday, was fresh to their forefathers, but God has already moved on past that. God is looking at every one of us through this end time message that He is revealing to His true servants in these last days. How do you hear it, and what do you do with it after you hear? Will you refuse to eat meat just because it did not come from the prophet’s table? I can direct you to a lot of people who feel exactly like that. They would rather hear someone stand week after week declaring that God sent a prophet to this age, than to hear someone preaching from the scriptures that the prophet first began to open to this age. Giving meat in due season, is not just quoting word for word what Bro. Branham said, trying to prove that you are preaching the prophet’s message. You could quote every word the prophet spoke, while he was alive, and you still would not be feeding meat to the church in due season, for the prophet’s season has passed. The true church received every truth that he brought to them; they added it to the truth they had already, and they are moving on with God. We all know he was God’s prophet messenger to the age of Laodicea, and Laodicea is still in effect, but God did not stop feeding fresh meat to His church just because Bro. Branham left the scene. I could circle this globe seven times, telling everywhere I go, that God sent a prophet, and that he fulfilled Malachi 4:5-6, Rev. 10:7, and so forth (and those things are true, of course) but unless I allow God to reveal a picture of His objective in all of that, I am shutting off the supply of fresh meat that He desires to have fed to His church.
THE SERVANT’S REWARD
Now, let us read verse 46, and see what Jesus said about that faithful and wise servant who is found doing what he is supposed to do. “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.” Saints, please understand that this coming of the Lord is not His visible return to earth; (we will prove that later,) this pertains to His mystical return when His bride saints will be caught up to meet Him in the clouds. Likewise we will be caught up to meet Him in the clouds. Like we said before, He was not in corporal body when He called certain men to preach His gospel; therefore He will not need to be present in corporal body to judge their faithfulness. That judgment is taking place right now, right this very hour. Some men are preaching for the financial benefit of it. Others for the recognition they get from it. Then you have some who just feel like they ought to be doing something for God, not really thinking anything about fame and fortune, but then, not really called to preach either. But the faithful and wise servant is that man who has a genuine call of God upon his life, to feed God’s flock, in the hour when God is giving out fresh meat to prepare them for their forthcoming journey. Jesus knew there would be an hour of time such as we live in, and He knew there would be ever so many factions trying to motivate and control those who would desire to follow truth; therefore He gave this parable for the benefit of those who would have ears to hear in such an hour, and it lets us know what the reward for that kind of faithfulness will be; He will make him ruler over all His goods. When will that be? In the Millennium, of course. The scriptures tell us that when Christ comes to reign on earth for one thousand years, overcomers from the grace age will sit upon thrones judging, also. There definitely is a reward for faithfulness, whether we are in the ministry or just living our daily lives with Him having first place above all else. How many of you, do truly realize that Jesus Christ is to have first place in all of your life? That applies to every Christian from the least to the greatest, (if we may use such a term.) but the parable itself is dealing with the ministry of this hour. What about the servant that is not faithful and wise, then? What will happen to him? Notice verse 48. “But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming: And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, (Brothers and sisters: This was a message God laid upon my heart back in the years of 1966 and 1967, when so many were shooting at me with everything they had, while I was doing all I knew to do, to stand for the message, and try to keep my head above water, so to speak. There are those who have gone to great extremes trying to destroy whatever influence I have had upon anyone, concerning this endtime message, but after I began to see that it had to be like that to fulfill the scriptures, I remembered also, that it is written, ”Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord, so I just asked the Lord to help me keep from giving my mind, and my spirit over to a spirit of bitterness, and to wait with patience while He works it out. Now we will finish reading that verse; and to eat and drink with the drunken: The Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for Him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the HYPOCRITES: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Saints, I want to say this in a way that will cause you to see that the Lord Jesus Christ is not going to be here on earth in a fleshly body, doing these various things. In Matthew 22 , there is a man among the wedding guests who does not have on a wedding garment when the king came in to inspect them. The king said, “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and CAST HIM INTO OUTER DARKNESS; THERE SHALL BE WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH.” Then in Matthew 24, we see this evil servant who was found smiting his fellow servants, and he was appointed his portion with the hypocrites, and again we find that there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. People such as this wind up in the same place as those who are found without a wedding garment. Where will that be? What is this outer darkness? Let us look at one more; then I will tell you. This one is in Matthew 25:28-30. It concerns the unprofitable servant who hid his talent which his Lord had committed to him. Notice the judgment that was pronounced upon him. Take the talent away from him, give it to the faithful one, who actually had the most, and cast the unprofitable servant into OUTER DARKNESS: THERE SHALL BE WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH.
OUTER DARKNESS IS GREAT TRIBULATION
Saints: If you are following my thought, you should begin to see that we are dealing with some more of the judgments that first must begin at the house of God. As we have said so many times, and proved by the scriptures, over and over again: this outer darkness is the great tribulation that is to come upon the earth, while the bride is at the marriage supper with her bridegroom. Therefore let me ask you once again, Is Jesus going to be here in corporal body, casting people into the tribulation? You say, of course not, how could He be here on earth, and at the marriage supper in glory at the same time: In other words, the evil servant: are busy right now, smiting their fellow servants, and the Holy Ghost is observing it all, and pronouncing their judgment upon them. So also is He observing those who sit among the true saints every time they meet for worship, without a wedding garment. Their sentence is sure to be exactly like the scripture says. The slothful servants are also being judged by the Holy Ghost, and Jesus will not be here in a body of flesh for any of it. Now, need you ask how they will be cast into outer darkness, which is the great tribulation? It is as plain as the nose on your face. Those who are prepared will hear the shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, and they will arise, to meet the Lord in the air. That automatically leaves all these others behind to face the great tribulation. Will they be lost? Naturally, that is a question that comes to our minds. Every one of us could probably pick out certain people that we feel fit into one or more of these categories, but do we see them as God sees them? He is the only one who has the right to pronounce final judgment upon them, you know. I will say this, but you will still have to leave it in the hands of God. Every one of these individuals who have failed to measure up to what is required of bride saints, will be left behind to face that dark hour with the Antichrist, just like all of the foolish virgins. Some of them will turn out to be true foolish virgins who will be purged unto life eternal, but others of them will reveal their true spirit when they accept the mark of the beast unto damnation. Therefore out of all those who cover the earth claiming to be servants of God, the Holy Ghost has three categories, or divisions. Those who are true and faithful in every way, will be caught up in the rapture. Then those that are left will either be purged or damned in the hour of great tribulation. Those who will be damned, are damned already. in the eyes of God, but we cannot know who they are, and furthermore, I do not want to know who they are. God has called me to feed meat in due season, and that is what I want to spend my time doing, just being faithful to that calling.
LOOKING BEYOND 1983
I hope most of you know me well enough by now, that you know I am not just trying to lift up my own flesh. I am just trying to show you truth from the word of God. Since God laid this message upon my heart, (about 15 years ago) I have preached it just about everywhere I have been, but I have noticed that these other preachers who claim to know everything there is to know about the message delivered to this age by Bro. Branham, never preach on this subject of the faithful, and evil servants. Maybe I should say that like this, I have never heard of them preaching on this subject. They are out of the scriptures, and do not know how to take the message and get back into the Bible with it. They spend their time quoting statements Bro. Branham made, and many of those quotes are used in an effort to try and cut someone else down. (Smiting their fellow servants) When God first revealed this to me, I had been hearing all these fellows harp on 1977, and I made the statement then that I have repeated many times. I said, It wouldn’t surprise me if God left us all right here until after 1977, and all the other dates that they try to figure time from, have come and gone. When 1977 failed to produce their projected results, you could not find even one of those fellows who would stand up and say, We have been wrong. Instead, they began to focus their attention on certain other dates. Brothers and sisters: I hope He doesn’t, but if God leaves us here beyond 1983, all of their dates can be wadded up and thrown into the waste basket. Some of them believe we are in the hour of silence, of Revelation 8:1, but I am here to tell you, we are not. Jesus is still on the mercy seat. That seventh seal has not yet been broken. That is exactly why it is still possible for a soul to be saved. But once that seal is broken and there comes the revelation and application of the effects of it, there will never be another Gentile saved. It will be a time when Jesus is just about ready to receive His bride to Himself. After watching the trend of things and ideas of the people associated with this message, for the last 16 years. I am sure they will come up with another date of some kind, if 1983 comes and goes, and we are still here. That kind of spirit will not give up, nor repent. It is sad to see people just jumping from one thing to another, hoping that they will hit it right sooner or later. When the time does truly come, for the rapture to take place, only those who are settled in the Lord will go. None of them will be the least bit impatient, nor hysterical; they will just be ready and patiently waiting. God’s weeding out process at work, weeding out the weaklings, and the carnal minds. God’s judgments are working in every phase of our lives, but it is the Holy Ghost that is the overseer of it all. The first judgment where Christ actually sits upon a throne in corporal body, to judge, is found in Matt. 25:31. That is after the great tribulation, after the battle of Armageddon – after He has been seated upon the throne of David, in Jerusalem. He and His bride saints will be judging the natural people who are left alive out of every nation, and from this judgment will come an element of people from those nations who have been found worthy to live and repopulate the earth in the Millennium. In other words, we could say, This judgment is to be like a filter. Nothing that is unworthy to pass into the Millennium will be passed through these judges. Contrary to the opinions of a great many people, there definitely will be people left alive who have managed to escape the great tribulation, and the battle of Armageddon, and it is these very people that Matthew 25:31-34 is dealing with. This will be people who have never been faced with accepting or rejecting the gospel message in the age of grace. There is a judgment prior to that one, but there will not be one unsaved person present; for it is the judgment seat of Christ where saints are judged to determine what their reward shall be, for their service unto the Lord in their life upon earth. Paul spoke of it in his Roman letter, (19:10) and also in 2 Corinthians 5:10, but only those who go in the rapture will pass before Him in that judgment. It takes place in glory, just before we actually go into the marriage, and it will determine what position of authority each person will have, once they return to earth with Christ for the Millennium. That is where the first part of verse 4, in Revelation, chapter 20, comes in. John said, “And I saw thrones, (PLURAL) and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them. This is the bride of Christ, after she has returned to earth with Christ, sitting upon the thrones which were delegated to them at the judgment seat of Christ.
SPIRITUAL BUILDING MATERIAL
I believe we need to kindly analyze what we have said up to this point, and try to get it together so you can form a picture in your mind. We have seen that this Holy Ghost judgment which first begins at the house of God, eliminates the slothful servant. He will not make it to the marriage supper. Neither will the evil servant who was found smiting his fellow servants, nor the ones who were found without a wedding garment. They are automatically left to go through the tribulation. But there still remains those who had five talents, and those who had two, and so forth. Their final disposition comes at the judgment seat of Christ. We are going to turn to I Corinthians, chapter 3, where we find Paul actually dealing with this judgment seat of Christ, even though he does not refer to it like that, as he did in the other two passages we mentioned. Before we start reading with verse 9, let me remind you once again, that a parable is only to project a thought; it does not carry all the way through with every detail of what is involved in the actual occurrence. In other words, let us consider the wise, and the evil servants for an instance of this. The evil servant is dealt with before the rapture, in the sense that he is left here. But what about that wise element which the Lord shall make ruler over all His goods? When will he step into that position of authority? Not until the Millennium hour arrives; When will he find out exactly what he is supposed to do? At the judgment seat of Christ, after he has been translated to glory, just like those who invested their talents. So always remember this: just take a parable as far as it will go. and then leave it. Do not try to stretch it to fit every little detail. With that in mind, now let us catch what Paul had to say in his first letter to the church at Corinth along these lines. Paul was consistent in his revelation. You never have to worry about him wavering, shifting back and forth, like a lot of people you may know. However, when he wrote these words, he did not yet have the revelation of the evil servant, the slothful servant, nor the man without a wedding garment. These conditions had not at this time become that prominent in the overall picture. It is true, he t realized there was something working within the church that I was not of God, for he said in his Thessalonian letter, The mystery of iniquity doth already work; But when he wrote this letter to the Corinthians, he treated it as though all who would read it were brethren. Notice what he says here in verse 9. “For we are laborers together with God; ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. (That leaves no room for doubt as to who he is writing to, for only blood washed, Holy Ghost baptized believers, make up the building, or house of God.) According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble.” Let us pause to be sure everyone realizes that Paul is dealing with nothing but true people of God right here. those who are truly building upon the foundation of Christ” What makes the difference then? The true motive of their hearts is what is compared to gold, silver and so forth. Paul realized that even among the ranks of true Christians, there was still a lot of carnality. Some of them had selfish motives for what they did, they sought self glory, rather than just to glorify Christ. Now just to make it perfectly clear, suppose you had two preachers preaching exactly the same message, the same revelation in every respect. One of them, out of a pure heart, seeking no personal recognition whatsoever, preached to glorify Christ, and the other, even though his message was the same, had a selfish motive He wanted to be recognized as a man of God. He wanted to be called, Reverend So and So, and wanted everyone to know who he had won to the Lord. Now brothers and sisters, if you will think about this for just a minute, you will have no trouble at all, determining which one was building with gold, silver and precious stones. Also, let me remind you that since they were both preaching the same message, whoever heard that message, and believed it, received the benefits of it, regardless of which one they heard it from. God will always honor His word, no matter who preaches it, or why they are a preaching.
JUDGED BY FIRE
Now let us pick up verse 13, and see what he says about this. “Now I if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: (Notice now) Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire: and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” Now, listen to me saints. Do you think Paul is talking about the fires of hell, here in these verses? Of course not. He is talking about the fire of the Holy Ghost that watches over all our motives. Some people actually think the wood, hay, and stubble applies to men who preach false doctrine. Do you realize that if you apply it to them, you will have all those Antichrist preachers saved, in the end? We will see that, when we get to verse 15, but let us read verse 14 now, and apply it to the man, or person who has a pure motive for what is done. “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” Now let your mind reflect back to the parables we were considering. “His Lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Saints, right here is where you get a chance to see that a parable does not cover every detail. The slothful servant was dropped off, the faithful servants received a reward, but you find nothing in the parable that deals with the servant who builds with wood, hay and stubble. Yet we find Paul, a man who received a pure revelation from Christ, dealing with such ones. Notice verse 15, “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: (Not loss of eternal life, but loss of rewards at the judgment seat of Christ.) but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” In other words, yes he will enter into the Millennium with all the rest of the saints, but his position of authority will be very limited. Brothers and sisters, I believe we should begin to see that whatever the judgment of God does not deal with this side of the rapture, will surely be dealt with at the judgment seat of Christ. By applying judgment at the house of God, everything of an ungodly spirit is eliminated from the rapture. Then, at the judgment seat of Christ, everything that those genuine saints have done in life is put to the test. Nothing that was done with any carnal motive or self interest will receive a reward. It is just like a great refining furnace; no precious metal or stone will burn up when fire is applied, but you all know what wood, hay, and stubble will do when fire hits it. The first thing you know, there is nothing left but maybe a few ashes. Just carry that thought right on over into the spiritual realm, now. When the Holy Ghost, which is referred to in the scriptures, as fire, flashes your whole life upon His great screen, and cancels out everything that was done with a wrong motive, will you have anything left to receive a reward for. Think about it; Why do you do what you do? Everything will be revealed by fire, Holy Ghost fire. Hallelujah! If our hearts are pure, we have nothing to worry about, even though we may have failed, at times, to do everything we should have done. Praise His wonderful name! I love Him, because He first loved me. Don’t you? The judgment seat of Christ is not to determine whether we are sons of God or not; we are already sons. We do not yet know what we will be like, but we do know that when we see Him, (Jesus) we will be like Him. He is going to change us. Hallelujah! We are going to have a body just like His. Don’t you think that is something to get excited about? I do. Up until that hour, we see through a glass darkly, but then, face to face. We will no longer be limited by carnal knowledge, and carnal wisdom. We will know, even as we are known. In this present life some people are forever stirring up trouble because they depend entirely too much upon their natural understanding, and not enough upon the leading of the Spirit of God within them.
DEALING WITH CARNAL CHRISTIANS
In the opening verses of the 3rd chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks very sternly about the fact that they were all still too carnal in their ways. He says, You are still so carnal that I cannot speak to you in spiritual terms at all; I have to continue with you as babes in Christ, feed you only the milk of the word of God, and speaking only in natural terms. Let us just back up a bit and read a few verses. Notice verse 3. “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men” They were even fussing among themselves about who baptized them, as though that would make one better than the other, or more ; saved than the others. He reminded them that if they were saved at all, it was God that saved them, and said unto them, We are only ministers by whom you believed, and comes on down to the verses we have read already, actually showing them that everything a Christian does in this life will have to be tested at the judgment seat of Christ, even though he did not call it that in this first letter. However, a year later when he wrote the second letter to them, he definitely called it that, saying in 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Paul just throws this in as a reminder, for he goes ahead later on in this letter to commend them for their repentance as a result of the first letter he wrote them. Just to paraphrase it, he said something like this. I realize that my first epistle made you sorry but I do not repent for writing to you like that, for your sorrow was but for a season, and it was a Godly sorrow that worked repentance on your part, and now we are all encouraged and joyful because of the report we have received concerning how you have grown in the Lord since that time. In this same letter, he tells them not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers because righteousness and unrighteousness have no common ground of fellowship. I want to read a few verses, beginning with verse 16, in the 6th chapter. This is just good sound advice and instruction, that every Christian would do well to heed to the fullest extent. “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; (Every Christian is.) as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, (unbelievers and idolaters) and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. ” Now notice this first verse of chapter 7 when Paul wrote this letter, it was not divided into chapters and verses, and therefore you would just read straight on through, without any interruption, from the last verse of chapter 6, so he says, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, (the promises of the previous verses) let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Bro. Jackson: I always thought every Christian became completely clean when they received the Holy Ghost. That has been a wrong teaching among the ranks of many Pentecostal people. Actually it is the Holy Ghost in your life that enables you to clean up yourself, both your fleshly habits and your mind and spirit. People have stretched 2 Corinthians 5:17, beyond its true application. Anyone with any spiritual perception knows that Christlikeness is not an instantaneous occurrence; it is something we grow into day by day, as we allow the water of God’s word to wash us and purge us from our former ways. When we are birthed of the Spirit of God, we are truly a new creature: there is no disputing that. Our thoughts, our motives, and our outlook on life is changed, but always remember, from that point onward, there is still much carnality to deal with in our fleshly makeup. Babes in Christ have a lot of pettiness to deal with, and the way they deal with it is what determines their rate of growth into the stature of Christ.
BEING ACCEPTABLE TO GOD
The epistle to the Romans was written by the apostle Paul the same year he wrote the 2nd epistle to the Corinthians, and he had to deal with them along the same lines as he did the Corinthians. They were fussing among themselves about eating meats, observing certain days, and all such like, so let us listen to Paul as we begin reading here in chapter 14. “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, you just simply do not put a person out of the family of God, because they have a weakness of the flesh that you do not have. You receive them into the fellowship and pray for them.) but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: FOR GOD HATH RECEIVED HIM.” Brothers and sisters, will you reject someone that God has already accepted? This seriously affects your own spiritual growth, so think about it, and realize that you are not yet perfect as far as your carnal ways are concerned, either. I want to read all these verses down through verse 10, in the hope that it may cause some to look upon their brothers and sisters in the Lord with a better attitude, realizing that it is only by the grace and mercy of God, Lhat any of us are saved and delivered from our old way of life. All right now, verse 4, “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be held up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth (or observeth) it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy BROTHER? (He is not talking about the world, he is talking about judging and finding fault with each other, right within the family of God.) or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? (That is to run him down to others, causing him to be less esteemed in their eyes.) FOR WE SHALL ALL (every true Christian) STAND BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST.” Then verse 12, says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Naturally Paul could not mention all the various things that Christians find fault with each other in, but there is nothing to hinder each one of us from making our own examination, being guided by Paul’s words in this epistle. We should not be confused by an open and outright life of sin on the part of professing people, but on the other hand, we ought not be calling everything which some person does, that we do not believe in, sin. God who looks upon our hearts, determines whether it is sin to us or not, according to our motives, and what has been revealed to us along those lines. In other words, instead of tearing each other to pieces, finding fault and criticizing each other, we ought to care enough to pray more for our weaker brothers and sisters of the faith. God might even lead some of you to help them with their revelation of the word of God, if you would just have a proper attitude toward them.
WHAT IS IN YOUR HEART
A lot of you will remember how conditions here at Faith Assembly. During our 1980 convention, forced me to preach that message which we titled, Holiness versus Tradition. God used all of that to set a lot of minds at ease on a number of things that had been a problem to them. One of the things that had begun to creep in here and cause a conflict was the issue of whether a woman should trim her hair or not. I have said many times before, and will continue to do so, that there is nothing in the Bible that in any way forbids a woman to trim dead ends from her hair. Some people get so upset, because I teach that. They accuse me of giving people a license to sin. But I say, If a person has a mind to sin, they will do it, regardless of what I say. I just do not see any need to keep people who truly desire to do right, under that kind of bondage, because you are afraid someone will go too far with it. Anyone who has good sense, knows the difference between cut off and trim. If I say, Yes, it is all right to trim your hair, if it needs it, and you run out here somewhere and get one of those wordly hair styles, do not blame me for it, for it was in your heart to do that, even before you came to me. There is just no reason for revelated people to be so narrow minded about things such as this. Any sister who feels that she should not even trim her hair at all need not feel the least bit bad, because I say, it is all right to trim it, if it needs it. People do not go to hell for cutting their hair off, nor for cursing, drinking, smoking, nor any of these other things that people do. It is that unregenerated spirit within them that causes them to do these things, that actually dooms their souls to eternal damnation. Those who are not born of the Spirit of God, are going to end up in hell anyway, even if they keep all of your religious rules and ordinances. Some people seem to have the idea that a preacher should take time in every service to give out a list of do’s and do nots for his congregation to live by until they meet again. I just happen to believe that those whose hearts are right with God, do not need a sin list handed to them every service.
CONFLICT ABOUT WOMAN’S PLACE AND CUTTING HAIR
A few years ago when we were in Canada, ministering, some of the brethren asked me a question concerning a woman’s position in the church. One man thought it was wrong for a woman even hardly to open her mouth in church. That same man thought it was wrong for a woman to drive a car. A man like that, looks upon a woman more as a slave than a wife. In other words, let her cook meals, wash clothes, keep the house clean and take care of the children, but keep her mouth closed and let him run the show both naturally and spiritually. This particular man was causing trouble in the church with his strange ideas, so the brethren asked me about it. I began my answer to them by saying, I am reminded of a certain woman in the Bible, who was a special friend of Elijah’s. There came the day when her little child got sick, and died. What did she do? You have all read the story. She told one of the servants, “Saddle me a donkey.” She climbed upon that donkey and headed down the road, to find the prophet. That was their mode of travel in those days. Are you following me? In our day we use the automobile, instead of a donkey, but please show me scripturally, why you would even think it is wrong for a woman to drive a car. I say, If a woman in that day could ride a donkey like that, going after the prophet of God, she ought to be able in our day, to drive a car wherever she needs to go. But if you will not allow your women to drive cars, the least you could do is get them some good donkeys. Now brothers and sisters, when you start preaching like this, it gets carnality very nervous and upset. Those whose hearts are not right with God, will invariably take issue with you, but my judgment is this, I must tell the truth. No one is going to be helped, just by pacifying their flesh. It is just like I said, about that hair issue. I am obligated to tell the truth, you may trim it, if you need to, but I am not to be held accountable for those who stretch the truth far enough to go ahead and do what has been in their hearts to do, all along. If I send some of these brothers out to my orchard, with instructions to trim my trees, I hope none of them would be foolish as to think trim and cut down both mean the same thing. I think you have my point. If the two terms do not mean the same thing in reference to my trees, then they do not mean the same thing in reference to your hair either. I am aware of the fact that some people are telling me that I said it is all right for women to cut their hair off. I am depending upon you who are spiritual to know better than that, and beyond that, I leave it in the hands of God to deal with those who tell such things. They will be held accountable for anyone who innocently stumbles as a result of what they have told, that is not so. There will no doubt come a day when those who deliberately misrepresent what has been said, may never live to get back home. But until that hour comes, we still need to walk in the Spirit, and learn to leave certain things in the hands of God. I have always been aware of the fact that I will one day have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and give account for everything I have taught, and my motive for teaching it, but if I know my heart, that does not worry me in the least. I am absolutely certain that that judgment will not be biased. Praise God forever!
GOD WILL SUPPLY WHAT WE NEED
We started out dealing with the judgment that begins at the house of God, and I believe we have given sufficient coverage to the judgment seat of Christ, so let us return to our original thought for a few more remarks. Not only does this judgment of God work to keep on working to get those systems out of us. Many times, that is where the real trouble develops. We do not realize how much we are controlled by those old traditions until the Holy Ghost goes to work on us, purging us of them. It just really comes down to this, either we let God have His way, or the consequences may be great. Every true seed of God will be purged, one way or another, We can either submit to it, or be chastened into it. The choice is up to every individual. Now let me caution you again, before we bring this message to a close. Do not allow yourselves to get caught up in a spirit that tries to determine who is a true seed of God, and who is a serpent seed. We are getting close to the end, and the tares are being bundled; therefore we are definitely going to see much chaff purged from our fellowship, but hold steady, and do not make judgments, for as this takes place, from time to time, some of the true children of God are going to be tossed around a bit, and you could hastily pronounce judgment upon them. Saints! Don’t do that! If a true seed gets off the track God will get them back on, and if you have been too hard on them, you will have to be chastened for it, so let us just leave it all in the hands of God, and He will work it out to perfection right on schedule. I do my utmost to look upon every one of you as children of God, for I am thoroughly convinced that in the final analysis, there is going to be some surprises in store for you who try to judge who is, and who is not a child of God.
Furthermore, you do not have to beat the bushes all the time, trying to find out what others are doing. You just live for Jesus according to the revelation you have in your heart, and I guarantee you, that if you need to know anything about anyone else, God will see to it. If you need more revelation, God will see to that, and if you need chastening, He will see to that also. Did not the apostle Paul say, in Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus? Some people apply that verse only to material needs of this life, but I am here to tell you, that my God will supply everything that is necessary to care for, and perfect every individual one of His true children, and then catch them away to glory where they will be rewarded for faithfulness, during the time He is dealing with Israel through the ministry of His two Jewish witnesses. Then when God’s redemption process is finally completed, and all the rest of mankind has been judged, Peter’s words will stand out neon lights on a dark winter night. “If the righteous scarcely (or barely, by the grace and mercy of God) be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Peter may have thought those words were for his day, and I am sure that through the ages, others have felt likewise, but I am fully persuaded that they were only for this present age. As we look back, we can easily see how time had to go on as it has, in order for all of the parables to have their fulfillment. That is why we have men in this very message, doing what they are doing. From our standpoint, it would be wonderful if God would just open their eyes before it is too late, but from the standpoint of fulfilling the scriptures, there has to be men doing exactly what they are doing, just like there has to be a Billy Graham and Oral Roberts, doing what they are doing. What is that? You may say. They are bundling tares. They deal with the big bundles. You need not get offended; just examine the final results from their great campaigns, and if you are a revelated person, you will have no trouble making an accurate determination. While they are tying up the big bundles, getting them ready for burning, we are dealing with the pure grain that the Father wants to harvest very soon. Therefore let me say once again, Walk in the Spirit, pray for each other, bear each other’s burdens in a scriptural way, and above all else, do not try to hinder God’s refining process. Let Him toss you around as much as is necessary in order to shake the chaff loose from you. Just do not let the devil get in the picture any more than what God uses him for. There may still be a lot of self that has not yet been dealt with, but just remember, God is not finished with you yet. Praise His glorious name! Regardless of what we may have to go through before we get out of this life, the least we can do is keep our spiritual attitude toward God’s word, the same. I want to be able to stand before the judgment seat of Christ without being stripped of every reward. Don’t you? I am not the least bit interested in being made ruler over 20 cities, or anything like that. That is not what I mean. I would be perfectly happy just to have a little place somewhere. where I could have a few horses to take care of and some little children to play with. But what I am interested in while we are still here, is that my efforts in God’s work are put forth with the proper attitude and motive. God is looking at our hearts, and every judgment that He makes on our behalf is based upon the condition He finds there. What is the thought about it lately? You should. Your eternal destiny will be determined by it. You who have already surrendered your heart to Him, need only to let His word wash you and dress you in a way that will be acceptable to the bridegroom when He comes to call His bride to the Marriage supper. On the other hand, if these words should fall upon the ears of someone who has never surrendered their heart to God. There is still a little time left. But do not try to stretch that time much farther; for today is the day of salvation. Come to Him while you may be accepted; for when the bride goes; it will be too late then. Again, I say to all you saints, Do not be discouraged and draw back, for “Judgment must begin at the house of God,” but it is for our spiritual benefit. Out of it will come perfection. HALLELUJAH! Amen.