Revelation 3:14-22: “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:’” We see here where Jesus is referred to as the Faithful and True Witness. He said, “‘“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”
America the Great
May God open this word to us and may we have open hearts to receive His Word. America is undoubtedly the most Christian nation on this earth. Australia has about six Christian radio stations. Britain I think has a handful. New Zealand has one. The United States of America has 1,485 Christian radio stations, 300 Christian television programs. I’m amazed to turn on secular television so often and see on secular television news people testifying to God’s deliverance from earthquakes, and tornadoes, and floods. I mean, it’s just accepted that they thank the Lord for delivering them, standing with them in their time of testing.
What other nation could have a talk show host ask, “Name some life-changing experience,” and hear an answer, “Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior”? What other nation has gospel music festivals sponsored by McDonald’s? The United States of America, where it isn’t extraordinary to have Time Magazine run a comprehensive interview with evangelist Billy Graham, where the president reads his Bible every day, where supermarkets and other secular stores sell Christian cards, plaques, and Bibles, where there are more fish on cars than there are in the supermarkets. In fact, the Barna Research Group found that 62% of Americans, quote, “Say they have made a commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today.” That means according to that statistic that there are 148 million professing born-again Christians in the Unites States.
The foundation of America is soaked in a godly heritage. The pilgrim fathers’ reason for establishing the United States was, quote, “For the glory of God and the founding of the Christian faith.” The Declaration of Independence declares all men are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights. 50 of the 55 men who established or instituted the Constitution were professing Christians. What other nation has “In God We Trust” on its currency? What other nation sings unashamedly that God’s grace was shed upon it? If ever a nation should shine with the blessing of God, it should be this nation, the United States.
Is America Truly Godly?
The Bible says righteousness exalts a nation. A nation’s house will bring forth, the Bible says, because of righteousness. God will honor any country that honors Him with long life, blessings, health, and prosperity. If America is as godly as it seems, it will be reflected both in the health of its people and its land, but instead, we’re seeing the very opposite. In 1989, 52,000 Americans died of a flu virus. In the same year, more died of AIDS than were killed in the entire Vietnam War. Every year, 160,000 die of cancer. Two and a half million have Alzheimer’s disease. Heart disease is killing millions. 10 million have asthma. 400,000 have Parkinson’s disease. The National Alliance on Mental Health diagnosed 10 million Americans with having, quote, “Serious long term mental illness”; 10 million. There are 500,000 attempted teenager suicides each year, over one million teenager runaways each year, 10,000 of them living on the streets of Los Angeles.
“If America is as godly as it seems, it will be reflected both in the health of its people and its land, but instead, we’re seeing the very opposite.”
There are escalating marriage breakdowns, widespread alcoholism, epidemic drug problems, boiling racism, and massive financial pressures from home to commerce. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and droughts rock the nation, making the whole thing somewhat difficult to equate with God’s blessing. Despite America’s belief in God, in 1989 she spent 240 billion dollars on gambling. In the same year, 120,000 women reported being raped. Two and half million abused, missing, and abducted children were reported. 5,000 women in one year were killed by domestic violence. 23,000 Americans are murdered every year. Drunk drivers kill 25,000 each year, and the number one killer in the United States of children is parents. The US has 100 times more burglaries per capita as so-called “godless” Japan.
Since the law was instigated in the U.S., 30,000 law officers have died in the line of duty, and it’s almost added to daily. Satanic murders, mass killings, are common place. Drive-by shootings and other gang-related murders or drug-related murders are beyond police control in many states. Florida, state representative Michael Freedman said these words. This was in Time Magazine, 1987: “The message we’re sending out is we can’t protect you anymore, so get yourself a gun and do the best you can.” Violence and drug use have just so infiltrated the public school system that over 500,000 children in the U.S. are now homeschooled. That’s not Christian schooling. That is homeschooling. They’re taking them out of the school system all together.
“Benjamin Franklin said, ‘Sin is not hurtful because it’s forbidden. Sin is forbidden because it is hurtful.’ The pleasures of sin aren’t worth the pains of sin. If we as Christians can’t hate sin for what it is, we just hate it for what it does.”
Video has taken pornography and sexual violence to a new realm. Television programs spew out murderous acts of violence every hour, 32 acts of violence every hour. Pornography is now a 32 billion dollar industry. USA Today reported recently that the new NC-17 censorship for movies means that, quote, “Movies can now start where most sex scenes end.” The irony, on the same page I read that in USA Today, there was a report of a 500% increase in a certain type of cancer saying researchers do not know why. The answer is just across the page. If a nation sews sin, it will reap suffering and death. Benjamin Franklin said, “Sin is not hurtful because it’s forbidden. Sin is forbidden because it is hurtful.” The pleasures of sin aren’t worth the pains of sin. If we as Christians can’t hate sin for what it is, we just hate it for what it does.
“One Nation Under God”?
Each year in California alone, 50,000 drug-addicted children are born. San Francisco has 60,000 intravenous drug users. Corruption and drug use has so infiltrated the police system in the U.S. that California police decided they would instigate a lie detector to test the 34,000 people who wanted to join the police force and found to their horror that 64% were former drug users. Jails in L.A. are often so full, judges don’t know what to do with criminals because they don’t know where to put them, so they just send them out back into the streets. The blood of unborn through abortion spilled at a million, over a million each year. 146,000 of these are in the last semester. That is the seven to nine month period. That’s 4,300 abortions per day, 97% just for the sake of convenience. There’s an estimated 17 million professing homosexuals in the U.S. 800,000 babies are born to unwed teenagers each year.
This one nation under God has 10,000 full-time astrologers and 175,000 part-time astrologers working busily to chart the heavens for future-minded citizens. Halloween, you wouldn’t believe how big Halloween is. It is a multi-billion dollar industry. You can see Bibles on one side of the store and Halloween junk on the other side of the store. It’s as common as apple pie is in the United States. One out of seven teenagers in the U.S. has a sexually transmitted disease. A 1990 survey showed that in schools, 40% of kids had had at least three sexual partners. Adults lead the example. USA Today reported that between 50 and 60% of married men had committed adultery. The women weren’t too far behind.
Now, the sad thing is this isn’t confined to the unchurched. You ask my son Daniel, he’s with me here, how many kids in his class in the secular school he used to go to went to church. 85, 90% of kids actually go to church, and the language they use is absolutely disgusting. A university campus found that nearly 50% of those who call themselves evangelicals think premarital sex is okay. Christianity Today did a confidential survey among 300 pastors and found that one in four had been involved in some sort of sexual sin.
More of a “Cultural Thing”
Sammy Davis seemed to sum it up. Sammy Davis Jr. testified as to how Jesus had stood with him, this was a public testimony, during a bout with throat cancer. Someone came up to him and said, “Hey, you’re a born-again Christian.” He said, “No, no. It’s more of a cultural thing than a religious thing.” I find when I’m preaching to the homeless, drug addicts, and thieves, as I quote John 3:16, they all join in the chorus and quote it with me. I mean, America is baptized in a baptism of the grace of God, and they use God’s grace for liberty and occasion of the flesh. Contemporary America has adopted a cosmetic Christianity, which was epitomized when I was standing in line recently. I turned around, there was a guy with a chain around his neck and on the chain he had a cross and a Playboy bunny hand in hand.
“America is baptized in a baptism of the grace of God, and they use God’s grace for liberty and occasion of the flesh. Contemporary America has adopted a cosmetic Christianity.”
Satan understood the principle of inoculation far longer or far before man discovered it. His great victory has been to convince the church of the United States and this country throughout the western world to open up its doors and say, “Hey, world, come in. All you have to do is ask Jesus into your heart. It’s easy to become a Christian.” Jesus said the exact opposite. He said, “Strive to enter the straight gate. For many, I say, shall seek to enter and shall not be able.” He said, “Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it. Broad is the path that leads to destruction and many go in that way.” When Jesus said, “Strive to enter the straight gate,” he used a Greek work which means “to agonize.” Agonize to get into the straight gate. It is not easy to become a Christian.
James said, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double minded.” He said, “Weep and mourn. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to heaviness.” If someone doesn’t repent in humble contrition, they can’t become a Christian. They can’t be born into God’s kingdom unless they repent. Jesus said that. “Unless you repent, you shall perish.” You see, the tragedy in the United States is that a minister can get up, an evangelist can get up and preach for 40 minutes on faith and give a good faith teaching and make no mention of sin, Law, righteousness, holiness, judgment, repentance, or even mention the cross, and then say, “Let’s just bow in prayer. You need to give your life to Jesus Christ. You’ve got a God shaped vacuum in your heart,” and multitudes come forward and they accept Jesus as Savior and Lord, and they have a false conversion. Because how could a man repent if he doesn’t know what sin is?
No Law, No True Conversion
Paul said, “I had not known sin but by the law.” That’s foreign to most evangelicals. Psalm 19:7 says, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” What converts the soul according to God’s Word? “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Paul says, “By the law is the knowledge of sin. By the commandments, sin became exceeding sinful.” 1 Timothy 1:8 says, “The law is good if anyone uses it lawfully for the purpose for which it was designed.” God’s Commandments, His Law, the 10 Commandments, weren’t given for us to justify ourselves in the sight of holy God. They were given that we might see the standard of God’s righteousness and have a measuring rod, that by them sin might become exceedingly sinful.
For the last 100 years, the church has forsaken the Law, preceding grace. That was the essence of the gospel proclamation of Charles Spurgeon, Finney, Wesley, Moody, George Whitefield, and all the greats of the past. Any teaching I want to find on the use of the Law to bring the knowledge of sin and prepare our heart for grace as Jesus prepared the heart for grace in giving so many of the Commandments before He gave them grace, I have to go back at least 100 years in church history to the old moth-eaten books, the leather-bound smelly ones, open them up and there it is. They say if you don’t use the Law, you will reap false converts, stony ground hearers who receive the word with joy and gladness but in a time of testing, tribulation, persecution, they fall away for the world’s sake. The contemporary church is filled with false conversions, strangers to holiness “without which no one will see the Lord.” No burden to pray, no zeal for the lost.
If you want to see the health of your church, don’t call a doctor. Call a prayer meeting for the post. If you get 10% of today’s church, you’re doing well. Lukewarmness pervades within the contemporary church. I’ve had the privilege of probing the body of Christ worldwide, preaching in over 300 churches in recent years. I can say before you and before God most of the church sits very comfortably in the lukewarm bracket. Jesus said, “I will spew you out of my mouth on the day of judgment.” You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. So many of us draw near to God with our lips, and this is what’s happening in America. That’s a nation that draws near to God with its lips, but its heart is far from God. There’s no zeal for the lost. If we set aside an hour to worship God on Sunday morning to appease a guilty conscience regarding our lack of zeal for the lost, our worship is but vain hypocrisy. If we’re going to lift up our hands and worship to God, let’s be sure we’re prepared to reach out our hands in evangelism for God.
“If we’re going to lift up our hands and worship to God, let’s be sure we’re prepared to reach out our hands in evangelism for God.”
Things are looking very, very bleak for the contemporary church, but I like what General Douglas MacArthur said, and listen to his wise words. He said, “The enemy is in front of us. The enemy is behind us. The enemy is to the left of us and to the right of us. They can’t get away this time.” Isn’t that neat? Doesn’t that stir your goal? If God be for us, nothing can be against us. God is faithful to the prayers of our forefathers and to those who love this nation.
Most Christian leaders know that something is wrong with many professing converts, but so few trace it back to the message that’s being preached. They can see the impoverished results, but their minds are blinded to the reason for the results. I’m going to say something that will sound somewhat like heresy, but before you sting me up, just listen. I can’t find any direct command in Scripture for you and I as Christians to pray for the salvation of sinners. Now, I can find one indirect one in 2 Timothy, but I can’t find any direct command where the Bible says this: “Pray for the salvation of the lost.” Now, if you can find it where there is a direct command for you and me as Christians to pray for the salvation of the ungodly, show it to me, because I’ve been looking for months and I can’t find it.
Tell you what I can find though, turn to Matthew 9:37. Now, I always repeat Bible references when I give them in public. You know why I do that? Because men are present, and men, being one myself, are somewhat dense. We have to be told things twice. We have to be told things twice. I know that when I’m sitting in a congregation and someone says, “Turn to Matthew 9, verse 37,” I say, “What’d he say, dear?” and my wife tells me, “Matthew 9 verse 37.” She’s a helpmate. Men are slow. Women find things. They find the keys that you can’t find. They’re into details. They know what’s going on. Men don’t really know what’s going on, but women are a helpmate for men. Now, we see the fact that men are dense in scripture. When God ever spoke to a man, He said their name twice. “Saul, Saul,” “Abraham, Abraham,” “Samuel, Samuel,” because we’re thick in the brain. We need to be told things twice. Where would men be without women? Still in the Garden of Eden. Eve found the tree. Adam didn’t really know what was going on, but Eve was in the details, finding things. “Here it is, dear.”
The Laborers Are Few
Matthew 9:37 for you men. Let’s go back to 36. “When Jesus saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them because they were faint and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd. Then said He to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.” You see, God isn’t short of people who will pray. There are plenty of professing Christians who will pray, because it’s far easier to talk to God about men than to talk to men about God. The church is filled with people who will say, “Oh, here I am, Lord. Send him.”
What we’ve done is we have made revival a kind of such a sovereign thing that it’s all of God. “God, send revival. God, You preach the gospel to every creature. God, You take the Word, preach it in the season, out of season. We’ll just stay here and pray while You do what You’ve told us to do.” Yet the Bible says, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” It says, “God has chosen the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Those who sit in a church building and pray for revival, wanting God to move sovereignly, are often just wanting to shift the burden of evangelism off the church back onto God, and God is now going to go against his foreordained plan to reach this world. He has chosen the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
“It’s far easier to talk to God about men than to talk to men about God.”
We should be a city on a hilltop shining lights, seeking to save that which is lost, following in the footsteps of Jesus. God wants people who are prepared to put legs on their prayers. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” There are multitudes who admire the captain and ignore his commands. Remember, Jesus cried, “Why do you call Me “Lord, Lord,” and do not the things that I tell you? Why do you call Me “Lord,” and do not the things that I tell you?” Remember the man who built his house on sand? Jesus said, “Whoever hears My sayings and does not obey them, I’ll liken to a foolish man who builds his house on sands.” When the floods came, the whole thing crashed because it was founded upon the sand. We say, “Oh, that’s the world.” No, it’s not. They don’t hear the sayings of Jesus and don’t obey them. They don’t come to church every Sunday and every Wednesday and hear, “Preach the gospel to every creature,” and let it run off their back as water off a duck’s back. It’s professing Christians who sit superglued to the pew and refuse to obey the command of Jesus to take the gospel to every creature.
Prayer is the very breath of the body, but evangelism is its life’s blood. One can’t survive without the other. Here’s the subtlety. If you are not a laborer, that is, you do not personally witness, but you fear men and you fear God, you’re not a laborer, and neither will you then pray for laborers. How can you? If you don’t witness of your faith, you won’t say, “Oh, God, raise up laborers,” because you’ll feel guilty. What Satan gets is a double victory. Neither do you pray for laborers, nor are you a laborer. You will pray all around the world and pray for everything except what Jesus said for you to pray for. “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth laborers.”
“Prayer is the very breath of the body, but evangelism is its life’s blood. One can’t survive without the other.”
I was in Texas after a conference, and I felt really burdened at the abortion rate in America, the family breakdowns, the wife beatings, the child molestation, the alcoholism, the drug use, the suicide. I was feeling so heavy. I was having a shower and I said, “Oh, God, what can I do as one person? What can I do?” I looked up on the shower unit. It was one of those pulsating flesh pampering things. Around the outside of the shower unit was the instructions, A’s and B’s and Y’s and E’s and D’s, and nothing made sense. All the instructions had been twisted. But amidst the confusion, there was one word, the word spray had had the S ripped off it. Amidst the confusion, clearly by itself was the word pray. That’s what God is calling the church to do, but not to pray outside of His will, to pray in His will and be prepared to put legs on our prayers.
Magnify God’s Law
A. W. Pink said, “It is true that many are praying for worldwide revival, but it would be more timely and more scriptural for prayer to be made of the Lord of the harvest that He would raise up and thrust forth laborers that would fearlessly and faithfully preach those truths which are calculated to bring about a revival.” You see, God hasn’t left his church palace. He’s given weapons that are mighty through God of the pulling down of strongholds, and the strongest weapon God has given to His Church is Hell’s best kept secret. God’s Law, that which converts the soul, God’s Law, that which brings the knowledge of sin, the key of knowledge that Jesus spoke of in Luke 11:52. He said, “Woe unto you lawyers, for you have taken away the key of knowledge. You enter not in yourselves and them that are entering in, you entered.” The lawyers were supposed to be proclaiming and teaching God’s Law, showing God’s standard of righteousness, and driving sinners to Christ, and they’d failed to do so, and the church is doing the same nowadays. It’s forsaken God’s Law to bring the knowledge of sin.
The cry of the church should be, “It is time for you to work, oh God, for they have made void Your Law.” Your God said, “I’ll magnify My law and make it honorable.” Paul said, “I delight in the law of God.” The apostle of grace delighted in God’s Law. Why? Because it’s the instrument that’s the schoolmaster to bring sinners to Christ.
“Do we care enough for the salvation of sinners to lay aside the things that we esteem most for the sake of the salvation of the lost?”
I was in Denver about three weeks ago sitting at this table. A young Christian gave his testimony. He shared with me how some time earlier he had been sitting at another table with a husband and wife who were Christians, and they were pleading with him to yield his life to Christ, but he was a stranger to repentance. Suddenly, the young man looked at this guy, tears filled his eyes. He said, “If somebody came in here with a gun and they were going to shoot my wife or shoot you, I’d say, ‘Shoot my wife,’ because she would go to Heaven but you would go to Hell.” The young man looked across at the wife to see her reaction, and she had tears in her eyes, and she just nodded in agreement. That guy broke. I tell you, that spoke to my heart. I mean, do we care enough for the salvation of sinners to lay aside the things that we esteem most for the sake of the salvation of the lost?
Obedience Is Necessary
Let me ask you another thought-provoking question. Who was it that killed King Saul? Who was it that actually killed King Saul? Now, some of you who know your Bibles will say, “Well, it could have been the Amalekite who came to David and said, ‘Look, I wiped out the king for you and you’re going to give me a promotion,’ and David said, ‘You’ve touched the Lord’s anointed’ and had him executed.” No, I don’t think it was him, because he was just seeking promotion. I think the incident given in 1 Samuel 31:4 is the true incident. Let’s turn to it and see who killed King Saul. Kings, Kings, Chronicles. Let’s see who it was that killed King Saul.
My Bible tells me it was neither the Amalekite nor was it Saul committing suicide. Let’s look closely at Scripture. 1 Samuel 31:3, “The battle was severely against Saul, and the archers found him, and he was wounded by the archers. Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, ‘Draw your sword and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me.’ But his armor-bearer would not, for he was very much afraid, so Saul took his own sword and fell upon it. And when his armor-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword and died.” 1 Chronicles 10:13-14, “So Saul died for his unfaithfulness, which he had committed against the Lord because he did not keep the word of the Lord, also because he consulted a medium for guidance. He did not inquire of the Lord. Therefore, He killed him and turned the kingdom over to David, the son of Jesse.”
Who was it that killed King Saul? My Bible tells me that it was God who killed King Saul. God, in His sovereignty and His righteousness, guided that arrow of the archer and it plunged into King Saul’s flesh. God thrust the king upon his own sword because of his unfaithfulness, because of his disobedience, and because of his failing to seek the face of his God. So many Christians don’t understand that obedience is necessary to salvation. You cannot have assurance unless you’re obedient to the Word of God. “Though Jesus were His Son, yet learned the obedience by the things that He suffered. Being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation to all that obey Him.” Heaven isn’t inside the straight gate. It’s at the end of the narrow way. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord, separation from sin and from the world.
Listen to what God says in the book of Jeremiah regarding the everlasting covenant. He says, “I’ll make an everlasting covenant with them, and I won’t turn away from doing them good, but I’ll put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.” What causes someone to cleave to the Lord? According to this, it’s the fear of the Lord. God says, “I’ll put My fear in their hearts so they will not depart from Me.” You will be faithful to God if you have had a right understanding of God’s nature and His character. You see, that portion of Scripture puts the fear of God on my heart, that God actually killed King Saul. God kills people.
Now, this is foreign to the idolatrous understanding most of the church has of the character and nature of God. For the last 70 or 80 years because we have forsaken God’s Law which tells us of God’s righteousness, His justice, His holiness, and His truth, the great virtues of His character expressed in His Law, an idolatrous understanding of God’s nature and God’s character has been passed down by our forefathers in sincerity to the church. The church can sin and yet have a faith in God, and yet the God of the Bible kills people. Genesis 38, God killed a man because he didn’t like his sexual activities. God told Joshua to kill every man, woman, and child without mercy. All His judgments are righteous and true all together.
“An idolatrous understanding of God’s nature and God’s character has been passed down by our forefathers in sincerity to the church.”
God killed Ananias and Sapphira in the New Testament because they told one lie. They transgressed the ninth of the Ten Commandments. God killed them. Instead of saying, “Oh, God, why did You kill Ananias and Sapphira because of one lie?” say, “Oh, God, why didn’t You kill me when I transgressed Your Law?” He is rich in mercy, “Not wanting that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Let me give you a challenge and also get your attention. This is how I’ll get your attention 100%. This is a verbal contract because it’s in the ears of many witnesses. I’ve checked with my solicitor. I’ll give you $1,000—I’ve got your attention—I will give you $1,000 cash if you can convince me that you have kept even one of the Ten Commandments. You say, “This’ll be a breeze.” Well, let’s see if it will. Let’s very quickly go through the Ten Commandments so that you might have a right understanding of what sin is, because by the Law is the knowledge of sin.
The Righteous Standard
First of the Ten Commandments is, “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.” That means God should be the focal point of your affections, that you and I are commanded to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. But more, Jesus said, “Unless you hate your mother, your father, your brother, your sister, and your own life, you cannot be My disciple.” That’s called hyperbole, the statement of extremes, contrasting love with hate for emphasis sake. He was saying your love and my love for God should be so great that our affection for our husband and wife, brother and sister, and our own life should seem as hate compared to the love we have for the God who gave those loved ones to us.
Some years ago, we had a color television set for our kids when they were little. The first day we had the set, I arrived home, opened the door, and called, “Kids, it’s your dad, the highlight of your day. I’m home.” They weren’t interested. You know what they were doing? Watching television, sitting a foot from the screen. I went up and turned the thing off. I said, “Listen, kids. I got that for your pleasure, but if it comes between you and your love for me, it’s going.” It’s a wrong order of affections. You’re setting your affection, your love, on the gift rather than the giver.
Now, if you love your mum and dad, your brother, your sister, your children, or your own life, your ministry, your car more than you love God, you’re setting your affection on the gift rather than the Giver. The Bible calls that inordinate affection. God is jealous for your love. None of us can say we’ve kept the first of the Ten Commandments, for the Scriptures say, “There is none that seeks after God. There’s none that understands.” None of us understand. We’ve all together become unprofitable. There’s none that does good. No, not one. Death sentence under the Law for transgression of the first of the Ten Commandments.
The Second and Third Commandments
The second is, “You shall not make yourself a graven image.” You shall not make a god to suit yourself, either with your hands or with your mind. Now, I did this for 22 years. I created a god in my own image. My god would never create Hell, because he was a god of love. Of course, my god would never create Hell, because he could not. He didn’t exist. He was the figment of my imagination that I’ve shaped to conform to my sins. I worshiped the god of my own making, a god of love and mercy, a god without any strength of character, any backbone, sense of righteousness and justice and truth. I snuggled up to my own god that I had shaped to conform to my sins. In the Bible it says, “There is one God. I am the Lord. I change not.” He is holy. He is righteous. He’s a consuming fire of passion and eternal justice, and He’ll by no means clear the guilty. I don’t believe any human being has a right understanding of God’s character and nature, because the Bible says there is none that understands. Death sentence for idolatry under the Law.
Third of the Ten Commandments is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” If a man hits his thumb with a hammer, he wants to express disgust, so he might spit out a four letter word, a filth word beginning with S, to express exactly how he feels, or he might just say, “God, that hurt.” In doing so, he takes the name that’s above every name and uses it on the level of a four letter filth word. He equates God’s name with that filthy word. Jesus said, “Every idle word a man speaks, he will give an account thereof on the Day of Judgment.” Godly Jews won’t even speak God’s name it is so holy, so holy, and yet listen to how so many of us use it so lightly. We fail to give it reverence.
Adolf Hitler’s name was not despised enough to use it as a curse word. Others say, “Ah, well, I didn’t even know I did it.” That’s true. You think so little about God’s name, you so esteem His name you can let it roll off your lips as a curse word without even thinking about it. That is taking God’s name in vain, counting it as nothing. I don’t believe any of us have given God’s name the honor and the esteem it deserves in truth. Death sentence for blasphemy under God’s Law.
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Commandments
Fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.” Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. Man, I didn’t keep the Sabbath holy. 22 years, I never set aside one day a week to worship God in spirit and in truth. In fact, I didn’t set aside five seconds to worship God or say, “God, what do You require of me?” I violated the Sabbath, and who hasn’t? Who has actually kept the Sabbath law and kept the 613 precepts of God’s ceremonial, civil, and moral law? Death sentence for transgression of the Fourth Commandment.
Fifth says, “Honor your father and mother.” Who of us can say we’ve always valued our parents and done that which is right in the sight of God and in the sight of man? There were times in my teenager years when I did not honor my parents. Death sentence for dishonor of parents under God’s Law. The sixth is, “You shall not kill,” but Jesus said, “If you get angry without cause, you’re in danger of judgment. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” God requires truth in the inward parts. The Law is spiritual. You can transgress God’s Law with hate and be a murderer at heart. No murderer has eternal life dwelling within him. Death sentence for murder under God’s Law.
Seventh commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” but Jesus said, “Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already within his heart.” Who of us can say we’ve always had a pure heart? “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Who hasn’t had a wandering eye when it comes to the opposite sex? The eighth says, “You shall not steal.” What do you have to steal to be a thief? Just one thing, a paper clip, 10 cents, a ballpoint pen, a library book. Who of us can say we’ve never stolen something?
Safer Than the Gold in Fort Knox
Or the ninth, “You shall not be a false witness.” Who of us can say we’ve always told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help us God? We’ve never exaggerated, used a half truth, or white lie, or told a fib. Anybody here always told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God? Lift up your hand, and I will show you publicly a liar. David said, “I said in my haste all men are liars.” The heart of man is deceitfully wicked. Who can know its evil limitations?
The final nail in our coffin is the Tenth Commandment, “You shall not covet,” and who of us can say we’ve never desired something that belonged to someone else? Now, some of you are saying, “Aha, you owe me $1,000, because I have never hated anybody.” Wait? You’ve already established that you’re a liar and you expect me to believe you when you say you’ve never hated anybody? My $1,000 is as safe as the gold in Fort Knox, but see how powerful God’s Law is. See how it cuts us down to size. See how it strips us of the fig leaves of self-righteousness and leaves us naked and undone, guilty before God, crying out, “What must I do then to be saved?” There’s only one that can save. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” “God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
He Doesn’t Require Success
I thank God that He doesn’t require success of me. All he requires is faithfulness. That’s what God required of Saul. He didn’t require success as a king, just faithfulness. It’s often circumstances that produce success or failure, but you are the one that determines whether or not you are faithful to the calling that God has brought to us. Adolf Hitler said, “It is not right that matters, but victory.” We can see the end of that philosophy. It’s not right that matters, but victory, and that’s the way the world thinks. Well, it’s not really right that matters. It doesn’t matter who you step on on the ladder of success, what laws you break, what families break up, as long as you’re successful. But when we become Christians, we turn that philosophy completely around and say it is not success that matters, that’s God’s business, but what matters is righteousness and remaining faithful and true as a witness to God.
“I thank God that He doesn’t require success of me. All he requires is faithfulness.”
So often, I’ve thought of that scripture which says, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it,” and wondered why I can get my foot in my mouth quicker than God can fill it with whatever He’s going to fill it with. I mean, sometimes I am not successful. In fact, I am a failure. Not too far from here in North Beach, two young ladies walked into a church building. I thought I’d just witness to them, but firstly I’d get to know them. I very gently and lovingly said to the one who was obviously pregnant, “When are you due?” She says, “I’m not.” I says, “Ump.” She wasn’t pregnant. She was just very generous physically. I said, “My, what a full dress. Must fly.”
Just about half a mile from here I was door knocking, knocking on doors, fully aware that Jehovah’s Witnesses have stolen our thunder and gone door knocking and offended many people with their continual harassment. When the door opened, I said in a sincere voice, I said, “Hello. I’m not a Jehovah’s Witness.” The lady said, “Well, I am.”
I Don’t Always Fail
Not all I do fails. Some things are successful. I dropped a friend off some time ago, brother Neil. Some of you may know that Neil is an undertaker or a funeral director. That’s what he meant by he’s the last one to let you down. Is that right? He’ll be the last one to let you down, and that’s true. I dropped a friend off at the local crematorium. He was alive at the time. Affectionately known as the crem in Linwood, affectionately. As I sat in my car, I sat in amazement at how tidy the crem looked. There was a wall with no graffiti on it. Man, I was in New York recently, and I couldn’t believe. I’m not sure where it was. It wasn’t Manhattan, but it was a place like that, forgotten it now. There was graffiti on everything you could see, trees, cars, trucks, houses. I saw a dog with no graffiti on it. Wouldn’t be lasting long by now, I’ll tell you. It would have caught up with it, but the crem had no graffiti on the wall. It was clean. Along the front of the wall, nice little flowers. There was a nice little path with nice little roses each side of the path leading to this nice little doorway, fully carpeted on the inside, padded seats, air conditioned, music background, so nice.
The undertaker in no longer called an undertaker, but a funeral director. It is not a graveyard, but a crematorium. The undertaker or final director doesn’t wear black, but a tasteful green. The hearse isn’t called a hearse I don’t think, but it’s not black any longer. It’s a tasteful green. The coffin isn’t called a coffin. It’s called a casket. When it comes out, the person who’s died hasn’t died. They have deceased. Around the casket is this little frill, like on your birthday cake. It’s so nice, and neat, and tidy all the way around. When your death day comes, you get a plague with your birthday, your death day, the day you came, the day you went, and your name on it, and you get a nice little flower all of your own. It makes you look forward to your turn, doesn’t it? No. 1,000 times no. I don’t care how much they dress death up, nobody in his right mind wants to try it on for size. Isn’t that true? Put that tape measure away. Sorry about his brother.
The Will to Live
I am a strong believer in the fact that God has given humanity a will to live. Every single one of us has eternity in our hearts. I’ve never met anybody in his right mind who wants to die. All of us have a will to live. It’s the strongest drive any of us have, the will to live. Like I said, I’m a strong believer in that evangelical tool that God has given us to appeal to the sinner’s will to live. It’s with this knowledge, the fact is that every beat of our heart is the drumbeat of our own funeral march. The raw power of the ultimate statistic, 10 out of 10 die. It’s true. Didn’t you realize that?
I was watching television and I saw Nancy Sinatra being interviewed. Remember Nancy Sinatra? Some of you are a little over the hill. Nancy Sinatra had a song, “Boots.” I’ll share it with you. I’m not going to sing it, but it was this. “These boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do. One of these days these boots are going to walk all over you.” It’s a nice song. She was being interviewed and she was asked about her dad, Frank. The interviewer said, “How is dad, Frank?” She said, “Well, he’s pretty depressed at the moment,” and the interviewer couldn’t believe it, Frank Sinatra depressed. Man, he’s got all the money in the world, all the fame, anything he wants, and yet he’s depressed. He said, “Why is he depressed?” She says, “I think it’s because he is realizing his mortality.” That is a nice way to say that Frank Sinatra is scared to death of dying, like every single other person who hasn’t come to Jesus Christ.
The Bible says, “For as much as you and I partake of the flesh and blood, God himself became flesh and blood so we could pass through death and destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver you who through your lives through the fear of death are all our lifetimes subject to bondage.” Every unsaved person is subject to the bondage of the fear of death. I’ve noticed when I’ve taken genuine funerals that people listen with eyes open and ears open when they’re faced with death. It was this sort of mind that instigated a mock funeral where I dress up as a priest, have six pallbearers, white shirts, black pants, black shoes, black ties, and black sunglasses, girls lying on the ground with a sheet over her. Always gets a crowd. See, human nature’s a little weird. You say to someone, “Don’t look over there, horrible accident.” They say, “Where? Oh, wish I hadn’t looked.” It’s just human nature. A funeral is the ultimate accident. Everybody’s just drawn to it and stands there staring.
In Los Angeles on a beach there, went down the beachfront, all the people were sunbathing, enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season. We did the funeral right in the midst of them. As we’re walking down there, I said to one of the mourners, “See the guy with the radio? You watch him turn it up and drown me out when I’m trying to preach.” Sure enough, as we started, this guy came over, turned the heavy metal music up real loud, and did a Satan symbol, just stood there in defiance. Crowd packed around. It was a wonderful opportunity, except no one could hear what I was saying because the music was so loud. I was so frustrated, when suddenly a police car pulls up.
The police officer says, “You’re out of here, buddy,” over the speaker. I thought, “No way. I know the American Constitution. If I make a stack of people fill up a sidewalk, they can move me along, but they cannot stop me preaching the gospel in public property in America.” I thought, “They’re going to have to drag me out of here by my ears to move me from this place.” This officer walked up to me and says, “Okay, move on.” I said, “What law am I breaking?” The officer said, “You’re disturbing the peace,” and the crowd called back, “He is not!” because they hate the police more than they hate Christians. The poor officer went back to the car, spoke, came back and says, “You can carry on. By the way, we’ll get rid of that guy with the loud music.” Praise God.
How to Start Your Own Ministry
I find nothing more challenging than being a laborer for the King of kings, nothing more challenging. You see, I have got an established ministry. If you want a ministry, I’ve got a key for you on how to start your own ministry. This is a wonderful key. I saw it in a publication recently entitled A Simple Guide to Starting Your Own Ministry. Listen carefully. This is how to start a housing ministry. This is wonderful. One, take a house. Two, find a homeless person. Three, take homeless person home. Four, homeless person no longer homeless. Five, you now have an established housing ministry.
“I find nothing more challenging than being a laborer for the King of kings.”
Here’s how to start a food ministry. One, go to your house. Two, open your cupboard. Three, get food out of cupboard. Four, go find a hungry person. Five, feed the hungry person. Six, hungry person no longer hungry. Seven, you now have a food ministry. A street ministry, listen to this. One, go to the nearest street. One, find an unsaved person. Three, minister to the unsaved person. Four, you now have a street ministry. Isn’t that wonderful? 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Be steadfast and movable, always abounding in the word of the Lord, for you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Jesus said, “The harvest truly is ripe, but the laborers are few.”
Do Dogs Go to Heaven?
Let me ask you another dumb question. Do dogs go to Heaven? You say, “Of course dogs go to Heaven.” There was a film, a movie recently that says all good dogs go to Heaven. You see, some people just about bite your head off and bark at you if you say dogs go to Heaven. They said, “No. When a dog’s dead, it’s dead.” Okay. If a dog doesn’t have a soul, what leaves the body when the dog dies? Here’s another question. Does a dog have a conscience? Does a dog know when it’s done wrong? Those of you who are dog owners will nod, “Yes. When my dog does wrong, the ears go down, the tail goes down. The dog knows it’s done wrong.” In fact, I think God is just so wonderful in putting the smile of a dog at the other end. Isn’t that neat? Dog happy doesn’t go down, he goes, “Swish, swish, swish,” so you know the dog is happy. But when the dog has done wrong, the dog knows he’s done wrong. Tail goes down, ears go down, he slinks away. A dog does have a conscience. He has the knowledge of right and wrong. Well therefore, can a dog sin? This is deep theology.
I was at a radio arena some years ago. Someone says, “Hey phone call here. Don’t know how to handle it. Ray, could you handle it?” I says, “Give it to me.” I says, “Hello.” This elderly lady said, “My dog has just died, and some Christians are telling me that the dog hasn’t gone to Heaven. What do you think?” I said, “Well, I really don’t know, but I’ll tell you what. Knowing the father heart of Almighty God, I wouldn’t be surprised if when you get to Heaven, God’s going to say, “Hey, remember that dog you loved? Here it is.” She says, “Do you really think so?” I said, “I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised.” She says, “Oh, that’s wonderful.” I says, “Do you got a Bible?” She said, “No.” I says, “Can I bring you one?” She said, “Yeah, bring it round,” and gave me her address. Took the Bible round and had the joy of leading her to Christ. What an opportunity. Imagine if I hadn’t been ready, and when the women had said, “Do dogs go to Heaven,” I said, “No, all dogs go to Hell.”
Do Something Radical
I mean, the harvest truly is ripe, but the laborers are few. Do something. Give out a tract. Give someone a Bible. I heard of a Bible Society representative in Africa, found in Africa an African in Africa. He wanted to sell him a New Testament and the guy says, “If I bought that off you,”—he said it in African lingo—he said, “If I bought that off you, I’d rip out every page and roll it up and smoke my cigarettes in the thing.” The guys says, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give it to you if you promise to read each page before you smoke it.” The guys says, “Okay.”
15 years later, the Bible society guy came into contact with the guy. Turned out he had smoked his way through Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and got saved on John. The moral is you may be able to smoke your way through Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but there is no way you’ll smoke your way through John. Why? Because the gospel of John is a gospel tract. Read the last few verses, “These things are written that you may believe, and in believing have life through His name.”
True story. Well, few stories I tell that aren’t true. This really happened in England. That’s overseas. In England, this man came out to his car. It was so cold, conditions were so icy, he couldn’t get his key into the lock to undo his car. He knelt down on his knees, leaned up, and breathed hot air into the lock—until his lips stuck to the freezing metal. He was stuck there for 10 minutes when an elderly lady came along and says, “Are you all right, dear?” He says, “Mph, mph, mph mph.” She got scared and ran off. He was stuck there for another 10 minutes until heavy hot breathing released his lips from the metal. The same as the lips of the church are locked. They’re frozen together, and my prayer is, “Almighty God, breathe the heat of Your Holy Spirit upon a cold church, and release our lips so we might open our mouth boldly and speak as we ought to speak.”
The Roaring Lion
Do you know I am somewhat weird bodily? If I eat anything sugary, particularly at night, or anything with protein, it takes precisely two and a half hours for that sugar or that protein to turn to energy. If I eat something at say 11:00 at night that’s sweet, I can guarantee that about 1:30 I sprung awake and have to do a workout, because I feel all this energy in my body. Now, there are certain scriptures that have the same effect upon my spiritually. What they do is put energy into my soul. One of them is in Amos 3:12. Listen to it. “Thus says the Lord, ‘As the shepherd takes from the mouth of a lion two legs and a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be taken out who dwell in Samaria.’” God was saying, “My judgment upon this world will be so great that as all a shepherd gets out of the mouth of a lion are two legs and a piece of an ear, that’s how sure your judgment is going to be.”
Now, you might have come from the lion, Satan who goes about as a roaring lion. Man, he may have devoured you, and you came to the good Shepherd with hardly anything left. I mean, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and all that’s left that Jesus, the good Shepherd, took out of the lion’s mouth is just a piece of an ear and a couple of legs, but listen. That’s all you need in the hands of the good shepherd, just an ear, a piece of an ear to hear the word that Jesus is saying, and two legs to take the gospel to every creature.
The Blessings of Courage
Have you ever wondered why David picked up five smooth stones? Some say it’s because Goliath had four big brothers, but really I don’t know. You know what I think? I think David didn’t have a word from the Lord to kill Goliath. The lips of the righteous know what’s acceptable, and he looked at that clown blaspheming the armies of the living God and said, “This is not right.” I can’t find where the Bible said, “And David inquired of the Lord, and the Lord said to him, ‘Go, and I shall give you his head, and I shall guide the stone, and it shall plunge into his forehead.’” Because if that had been the case, David could have walked out to Goliath and said, “Hey, Goliath. Watch this,” because the stone would be guided no matter what direction he hit it. It wouldn’t have taken courage if he’d had a word from the Lord. But because David took the initiative and knew right from wrong, he picked up a handful of stones maybe thinking the first stone may miss. That shows David had more courage than what we first believed.
Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They said, “Listen. We’re not going to bow down to your idol. The Lord will deliver us. But if He doesn’t, we’ll still not bow to your stupid idol.” “If he doesn’t,” so they didn’t have a word from the Lord. They just knew right from wrong and were prepared to trust their God in faithfulness.
David ran, the Bible says, at Goliath. He didn’t stand there and wait. He ran at Goliath. Saints, if I have a Goliath that I’ve got to face, something that really scares me, I’d far rather run to it than wait and have it torment me and slowly come and cast its shadow over me. Man, I’d rather run to it and say, “God, help me in this thing.” We have a Goliath task as the church of the last days. I mean, the fear of man is a real thing, and Satan is real. But Paul says, “Without were fightings, within were fears.” He had fears, but he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” and so can you and I.
The Church Needs to Arise
The laborers are so few. Some say that the church is dead, that it can’t be revived. I would rather say the church is somewhat like Lazarus. It’s but sleeping. Sure, it is wrapped in the grave clothes of busy activity, doing everything but what it’s told to do. Sure, its feet are wrapped in grave clothes, rather than being sharp with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Its hands are wrapped and don’t reach out to the lost. Its mouth is muffled and doesn’t preach the gospel to every creature. Its eyes don’t see the multitudes in the valley of decision, and its ears don’t hear the Great Commission. But it’s my prayer that the voice of the Son of God will penetrate those grave clothes, and as Lazarus came forth, the voice of the Son of God made the church stand upright and come forth as a testimony to the delivering power of God and victory over death that everyone has that trusts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This we can do with the help of God.
In closing, I want to share with you two great quotes from two great men of God, Charles Spurgeon and Charles Finny, saying things that I was too scared to say from the pulpit, so I let these guys say them for me. Listen to what they say. “Have you no desire for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself, you can be sure of that!” Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers. “Have you no desire for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself, you can be sure of that!”
“Any man who can read a book while a child drowns has got a heart of stone, and any Christian who can sit passively on a pew while sinners sink into Hell, worshiping God while they do so, has got a heart of stone.”
See, what would you think of a man who could read a book while a child drowned beside him? “Not my kid, good book.” You’d say, “Hey, man, you’ve got a moral obligation. The blood of that child is upon your head. You must reach out to that child.” How can we sit in passivity reading the good book and enjoying God’s Word without a concern upon our heart that 140,000 people are passing through the doors of death every 24 hours? Spurgeon said we need to be ashamed at the mere suspicion of unconcern. Any man who can read a book while a child drowns has got a heart of stone, and any Christian who can sit passively on a pew while sinners sink into Hell, worshiping God while they do so, has got a heart of stone. If the heart of stone is there, it’s evident what the problem is, false conversion, because God said in true conversion, he’ll take a heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh.
Charles Finny said, “It is the great business of every Christian to save souls. People often complain that they do not know how to take hold of this matter. Why, the reason is plain enough, they have never studied it. They have never taken the proper pains to qualify themselves for the work. If you do not make it a matter of study, how you may successfully act in building up the kingdom of Christ, you are acting a very wicked and absurd part as a Christian.”
May God take our fears and replace them with compassion, and may compassion swallow every fear that we have. May we present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to our God, which is our reasonable service. May we be not conformed to this world as so many are, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind, regeneration, born of the Spirit, that we may prove what is the perfect and acceptable will of God, and what is God’s will? That none perish, but that all come to repentance.