I cannot imagine a more appropriate night for this message. This is probably as grand of a religion as can be experienced in our world. It cannot reach a greater pitch or peak than this; the glory of this music, the worship and the spirit of cordiality that prevails in this sanctuary tonight. This is it. This is the pinnacle, the ultimate in religion. How would you like to let it fall into the ground and die?
Tonight, I am going to paint you a picture that so contrasts the glory you have just experienced that you are going to suffer cultural disorientation. In fact, you are going to have to make a rugged choice. Which of these two cultures will you choose? You will have to choose either religion, in all of its glory, or apostolic splendor, fresh out of the book of Acts, in all of its magnitude, grisly sweat, suffering, blood, vexation, distress, and calamity. I have purposely worn my jacket so that I might take it off before you, not just because I am warm, but because it contradicts the very tenor of all that God is giving me to speak tonight. If I could take this auditorium off as I take this jacket off, I would do it. Even this building is inconsistent with what is on my heart to speak tonight. Yet, in the same breath, can I say that I have never enjoyed such lovely hospitality? I have enjoyed tremendous, precious folk and gourmet meals; you are seeing to every need. This is religion at its ultimate, but there is an apostolic glory that far exceeds it. We shall never attain that glory except that we truly become men and women of the Spirit.
I heard a man make a remark not long ago. I was stunned by his remark and my spirit said, "That's true!" His statement was, "Little of what is known to be the work or the activity of the Spirit of God is truly the Spirit of God." Is that not a stunning statement? Suppose you could see as God sees. Imagine all the things that have excited and titillated your religious sensibilities: the glory of singing, music, instruments, the number of attendees, crowds, inspiring messages, etc. What would you say if I suggested that all of those things could be conducted in the realm of the soul? You would have a ball, enjoy it, and think yourself spiritual! Yet, it has neither a wit nor a grain to do with things of the Spirit! What would you say if I suggested that as a possibility? What would you say if I declared that that is the condition that prevails largely in Christendom today, especially in the charismatic world?
If I could speak French, I would say, "J'accuse!" I accuse the charismatic world for being a fraud, except that it is not conscious, willful, or knowing. We have all been seduced. We have all drifted into that nether world between the realm of soul and spirit, and we did not even know it. Some of us have never truly experienced or walked in the Spirit of God. No one has ever faulted you for it. No one ever detected it in you. You may go on being backslapped, bear-hugged, and applauded all the way to the grave and never know the realm of the Spirit. I want to give you a slab, a taste, a hunk of apostolic reality. I want to push it right into your maw so that you shall be utterly spoiled from this night forth....spoiled is not expressive enough....ruined for anything less than the pure presence of the Spirit of God. Do you want that? You may have to sell your building and hock your instruments. I would, if I could, pull the plug from the collective amplifiers of Christendom!
I think we all need to heed a book that is rarely read. I was probably not ready for it when I picked it up a years ago. It said nothing to me at that time. It is saying few much more to me now.
The book is called, The Latent Power of the Soul by Watchman Nee. How prophetic this book is! Before the advent of the first electronic amplifier, Nee suggested that one of the greatest menaces for the children of God at the end of the age would be that soulish realm of activity that emulates, imitates, counterfeits, and gives every appearance of being the realm of the Spirit. He mentions that there is something about music itself that has inherent possibilities for danger. Of all people and of all generations, we need the sharpest kind of sensitivity and discernment to be able to distinguish between that which is soulish and that which is spiritual. That kind of discernment and knowledge is not born in a day, and every lesson in the practice thereof is costly and painful.
I am going to be speaking out of the Book of Acts, chapters 17 and 16. I will begin with 17 and work backward. Last night I spoke on the passage that says, "Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?" (Ge 41:38). The two words that leap out to my heart are man and spirit. Is that not a glory? Is that not incomprehensible? Does that not beggar your mind? A man, not some paper-mache disciple, not some cardboard, grotesque snap off the assembly line, not some pert little character who has learned to quote Scripture! A man, full-orbed, flesh and blood, tempered, matured, seasoned, not some pipsqueak, not some graduate of some rush school of discipleship, but a man in whom the Spirit of God is!
God is waiting for such a man. His end-time intention will not be fulfilled without him. The heck of it is that if it were only a single individual, I would have waved you "goodbye" long ago, but we are in this together. The man that God is awaiting is a corporate man. Therefore, I am bound by your immaturity, limited by your fleshliness, and affected by your soulish substitutes for the things that are truly spiritual! "Till we all come into the fullness and stature of Jesus Christ unto a perfect man" (Eph 4:13). I want to recite to you something of the episodes of such a man.
My greatest disillusionment and heartbreak when I was saved thirteen years ago was taking my place in the neighborhood Pentecostal church and finding the enormous divergence between the Book of Acts and what I had to experience every Sunday. I was naive when the floodgates of credulity opened, and I could believe anything after my lifelong history of cynicism and unbelief, but what a disappointment! It was a mock and a travesty for one who expected that we would be completing and continuing the Book of Acts.
I have a Jewish heart for apostolic glory and for the grandeur of God, not for my sake, but for God's sake. I have a heart for the men that will shake cities again. These are the men who "turn the world upside down" (Ac 17:6), not deafen our ears with their amplifiers.
Acts 17:16 says, "Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him as he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." Do you know how he got there? Other men brought him there. He was in between stops. It was not on his schedule. That sounds like a very innocuous verse. Innocuous means "not especially conspicuous." "Big deal!" we might say. "So?" While Paul waited, the Spirit within him stirred "as he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." I want to make a flat statement: "Every good and perfect gift cometh down from above, from the Father of lights" (Jas 1:17). Every pure and holy work comes down from above. As for me and my house, we say "pox" on every so-called Christian work that does not have its origin in heaven! I don't even care if it is ostensibly for the Jews. I don't give a rap how groovy it is, how laden with Stars of David, how full of matzoh and reeling with yiddishkeit. It does not matter how cultural, groovy, pert, smart, or clever it is. I care only for this: that it has its origin from God, by His Spirit.
"His spirit was stirred in him as he saw the city wholly given to idolatry." What a statement that touches the grandeur of what we are trying to express! "A man in whom the Spirit of God is." He saw, and God stirred. The amplified version is even a little stronger: "Now while Paul was awaiting them at Athens, his spirit was grieved and roused to anger as he saw that the whole city was full of idols." He saw; his spirit was stirred. That is the origin of every pure and holy work in the earth.
I want to ask you, children, are you are willing to wait till God shall stir your spirit? When you are a full-orbed man like this, even when you are in between assignments, brought by other men to a place that you did not expect to be, God will begin something that shall culminate on Mars Hill and challenge the intellectuals of this generation. God is simply awaiting a man whose spirit He can stir. From that point on, what a progression unto glory! "Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews and with the devout persons and in the market daily with them that met with him" (v 17). "Therefore." Can you see how you are in for a ride? Something begins with the ignition of God in the spirit of a man. Then there is a "therefore." "He was roused to anger and grieved at a city given to idolatry, therefore he disputed in the synagogue with the Jews." Now, are you students of the Word? What does the one thing have to do with the other? If a man is vexed over idolatry, then what is he doing in the synagogue? That is exactly where he ought to be! That is the exact "therefore." That is where idolatry is most flagrantly practiced. Are you thinking that idolatry is only bowing down before some pagan idol or doing some kind of icky, foul, orgiastic thing? Do you not know what idolatry is, children? Idolatry is bending to any lesser altar than that of the Most High God. The idolatrous religions are those of convenience that give men a copout opportunity to experience a modicum of religious, psychic, or emotional satisfaction and yet allow them to retain the lordship of their own lives.
It is practiced everywhere: in synagogues, Presbyterian churches, Methodist churches, and Pentecostal assemblies. It is idolatry! Why, then, is your spirit not grieved? Far more often are we merely disturbed, bent out of shape, or emotionally affected, and we take that to be a signal from God. In fact, it may only be indigestion or some personal, idiosyncratic, subjective response. There is a difference between that which emanates from our flesh and that which has its origin in His Spirit.
There is a "therefore" that follows with the logical continuation that "he disputed with the Jews and the devout persons in the synagogue and in the market daily with them that met with him." I will tell you what kind of a naive man I am. I believe that every man who met with Paul in the marketplace was on a divine collision course. God intended for them to have that meeting. Don't you love divine encounter? Don't you like it when God sets it up? Are you preparing yourself to be a sensitive instrument in whom His Spirit can grieve? How foolish would you think me if I reprimanded a woman, a precious saint whom I have known for years, because she picked up the check at the table in the cafe where eight of us had breakfast together?
"What do you mean you reprimanded her? You should have applauded her. She did a 'good thing.'" "Good things" are exactly what kill us. Where, I implore you, is your divine discontent? Haven't you had a gut-full of "good things"? Do you not hunger for that which is perfect? If you are not preparing yourself to see it in things that are mundane and everyday, then how will you know it when it comes and you are caught between cities, having been brought there by other men? You just keep taking the check off the table, keep doing "good things" that have their origin in your skull, and you will be completely incapacitated for the Spirit of God when He would have you to be moved.
Any one of us could have picked up the check, but she picked it up. I turned to her without thinking, which is when I am at my best, and said, "Did God have you to do that?" "Oh, yes," she said. She thought I was going to turn and resume my conversation with the person on my right. Instead I turned to her again and repeated a second time, "Did God have you to do that?" She giggled a little bit more nervously and said, "Yes," but it was not quite as convincing this time. Again she thought, "Well, I finally got Katz off my back. He'll go back to his conversation." I turned a third time and said, "Did God have you to do that?" "Well," she said, "I thought it would be a good thing."
Children, are you only doing what God would have you to do? Are you refraining from good things in order that you might be reserved unto Him for that which is perfect? Are you willing to suffer the reproach of isolation in Minnesota, thousands of miles removed from your Jewish kinsmen? We receive mail from our Jewish brothers who are in ministry, who are doing "great things" for God with their campaigns, rallies, street activity, slogans, and broadsides. The easy tendency is to press on in doing what we think are "great things" for God, but are you willing to sit and wait for the Spirit of God to stir you? I am waiting for the apostolic glory of God. I am waiting for His campaign and His rally. I am waiting for His cry to be sounded again in the earth, "Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand!" I know that it cannot be sounded until there is a Kingdom that is tangible, demonstrable, that can be seen, felt, looked at and examined, so get with it already, will you?
As impressive as this service was tonight, it is not enough to persuade my Jewish people to cleave to the "Foolish" One. It is not enough to persuade them to embrace a way that has been polluted and corrupted for them by two thousand years of satanic perversion, distortion, and persecution, in the Name of Him who is salvation. No little glib entreaty is going to convince a Jew to walk away from the way of this world or to take upon himself the way of faith. No slick appeal will convince him to contradict all that he has esteemed, all that his life has been predicated upon, and to cast that upon the dung heap in order to walk in the way of foolishness. If he were to do so, a Jew would suffer unspeakable reproach from his own kinsmen, family, and community. Groovy religion will never induce him to do it! I am waiting to show my kinsmen proof of the life of God in a people that is fearful in its magnitude, a glorious Kingdom of people with such absolute honesty and unfeigned love that you would think they were another race of men!
"Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand." That is going to take more than "successful" services. I am willing to wait for the building of this Kingdom and the stirring of my spirit by His Spirit when it shall please Him in His perfect moment, and it shall come! May God find us ready to respond as men and women of the Spirit who can "dispute in the synagogues with the Jews and the devout persons and in the marketplace daily" with those whom He would have us to encounter! "Well, let's see...uh, God has a plan for your life...uh, rule two..." Phew! Do you think that is going to do it? Oh, if I had time, I could tell you stories. I could tell you of the unconventional speaking of God that would blow your mind. I could tell you of the insults of God, the goading of God, the teasing and the provocations of God. You would say it was not God! "It's not nice. He would never do that! You didn't learn that in evangelical discipleship school." You're right; I didn't. He gave it to me in the moments of heated confrontation in the Jewish fraternity house, where they were hanging off the chandeliers and glued to the walls, waiting to see the demise and the destruction of this Jewish freak. The place was jam-packed. They were waiting to see my head handed to me by the professor of comparative religion. He was a notorious atheist who spoke Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew. He was a Gentile who spoke all three languages. I am a Jew and I do not speak any of them.
They only made one mistake that night: they let me speak first. The moment I opened my mouth, a holy hush came over that jammed fraternity house. I went on and on. Finally, about a half-hour into my presentation, these kids were nudging this professor and asking, "Aren't you going to answer this man?" At last, the professor came up, made one or two lame, apologetic, intellectual remarks and left with his tail between his legs. No contest. That meeting went on for six hours. It was not a meeting; it was a war! I saw Jews so vexed that their eyeballs were popping out of their skulls. The spittle was forming at the corners of their mouths. They got up in disgust, left the room, but came back two minutes later to take another seat. They hated it, but they loved it. They were too Jewish to walk away from it. Around ten o'clock that night, a kid came out of his seat with his fists clenched and his knuckles white. I thought, "Here it comes!" Everyone's breathing stopped, including mine. This kid was trembling like a leaf with a rage that was indescribable. "Katz," he said, "if your God can save me as you've been saying, I defy Him to do it right now! Put up or shut up!" Where were my four spiritual laws? If Bill Bright ever gets me, then I have had it! You may franchise McDonald's hamburgers, but you are not going to franchise the Book of Acts, folks. The Book of Acts is original, spontaneous, and powerful. It is a glory. It is utterly unique in every situation, given by God at that moment. We need to be restored to that high and holy standard, even if it costs us everything: our buildings, our programs, our choirs, our amplifiers, and our guitars - all of it!
What would you say to a kid like that? I was shot after eight days of meetings. I was wiped out. I just opened my mouth, and there was God, dipping a great Turkish towel in icy water and knotting it. It was saturated and knotted; it was a clout; it was a lethal weapon out of my mouth. I opened my mouth and the Lord let him have it right in the kisser. Whap! "You need not think you can receive anything from God; your spirit stinks!" "Is that the way you talk to your Jewish people, Art?" No, that is the way He talks to my Jewish people, when He will have a mouth that will not hesitate to be open to speak the foolish and ungainly things of God that contradict one's own sensibility, taste, and intention. You will never be such an instrument if you keep picking up the check because it is a "good thing." A "pox" on so-called "good things!" That kid just fluttered his eyelids and sank into his seat like a lamb. Fifteen minutes later, he was the first one to be saved. Fourteen other Jews followed him into the Kingdom trembling, shaking and weeping.
Well, we know what happened to Paul: "Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans and the Stoics encountered him and some said 'What will the babbler say?'" (v 18). I cannot tell you how embarrassed I have been by this gospel. Doesn't the Lord know that I have something of an intellectual reputation? Couldn't He have given me something a little more advantageous to talk about, something that would have shown my own gifts to a greater advantage? The utter foolishness of the gospel! The utter, unspeakable foolishness! God has helped me to see that foolishness at 8 o'clock in the morning in Wheeling, West Virginia, opposite the desk of a Jewish business leader who owned the local radio station and other business interests. I called him and six other Jews, asking if they would come to that night's meeting. They all told me the same thing: "Too busy, too busy, too busy." The day will come when God will be too busy for you, buddy! This last man said, "Too busy." I was just about to hang up when I heard myself saying, "But, sir, are you available tomorrow morning?" I thought to myself that if anybody deserves to sleep in, it is "Kit" Katz! Then, to my utter amazement, the man said, "Yes, if you'll be here by 8 o'clock." I was there at 8 o'clock, even though we had been up until 3 o'clock that morning at the meeting. It had been a night of unparalleled glory. What a presence of God! We melted. After the meeting, they took me to the home of one of the elders and we had Communion together. I showed them how Holy Communion came from the Jewish Passover table, and we were delighted. I don't know what time I got to bed. I was wiped out from weeks on the road. At 8 o'clock the next morning, I was in the man's office.
What a man! Mama Mia! What a picture of worldly success! He had a $300 suit and diamond pinky ring. Why, he looked like a charismatic preacher! He was bright and alert. He had his diplomas on the wall with his honorary certificates from the B'nei Brith. He was a mensch (man). He had arrived. You should have seen me! Ah, what a sack of potatoes, what a crumpled specimen I was! I was pathetic: eyes like slits with my mouth full of sawdust. I was drooped and wilted on the other side of that desk that was like a football field. He looked at me with the vigor of a Jewish businessman and said, "What do you want? I'll give you fifteen minutes," and for the first time, I thought to myself, "Katz, what do you want?"
I never felt so foolish, vain, naked, and absurd in all my life. I was going to tell this paragon of virtue, this man applauded by the Jewish community, this man who had been told by Gentiles that he was a better Christian than any Christian they knew, that the God of his fathers lay aside His glory and His deity and condescended to come to earth in the form of an infant that made doo-doo in its diapers, utterly helpless, trusting in the hands of those to whom He was given, and living a life of total obscurity? I was going to tell him that Christ had a brief tenure of ministry, where He experienced the rejection and reproach of His own people and concluded His life by being spat upon, beaten, pummeled, having His beard ripped out and His back filleted; then, finally, He was suspended on nails between heaven and earth, and if you believe that, by some kind of magical faith, you appropriate that blood and somehow you are forgiven, covered, and restored? Ah, come on!
"What do you want, Katz?" Under my breath, I said, "Lord, You got me into this. You answer the man." You know, whether He got us into it or not, He will always answer the man! May we always be kept from giving our own answers. I opened my mouth and said, "Sir, I am a servant of the Most High God who has come to show unto you the way of salvation." When I heard those words, I thought, "OOH! Talk about icky! Here it comes, a hand on the scruff of my neck and the other on the seat of my pants and I'll be cast right down a flight of steps." I thought that he must have been thinking that I was some kind of Jewish eccentric - but he did not throw me out. The same man who said, "I'll only give you fifteen minutes," forty-five minutes later said, with trembling and white lips, "What time does your plane leave?" I said, "About noon." He said, "Could you come back a little later? I've got to think about this." Hallelujah for a Jew who will "think about this." I walked the streets of Wheeling, West Virginia praising God in the Spirit under my breath.
I came back at the appointed time. Fifteen minutes after my return, his last question was, "But, Art, if I do as you say and call on the name of the Lord, will I be forsaking my Jewishness?" I said, "Dear brother, this is the establishing of your Jewishness." He said, "But I don't know how to pray." With his university degrees and awards on the paneled wall, he did not know how to pray. I said, "Just bow your head and follow me word for word." So he did, just like a child. As the glory of God filled the office, my scalp was tingling under the presence of God. I led him through a simple sinner's prayer, and as we came to the last line of the prayer, he gasped and quickly clasped his hands to his chest. As the prayer ended, he had his hands still on his chest with that stupefied expression on his face and said, "Art, what's that strange feeling in my chest?" I said, "You've just been born again by the Holy Spirit of God."
I can give you illustration after illustration of such ungainly things that God has performed. For example, He challenged a German Pentecostal audience not with a message, but with the utter foolishness of a man like me. I am quiet and reserved by nature, but that night I was leaping, clicking my heels and carrying on like a clown. I could not stop. I never did speak that night. I never even made it to the platform! What a pathetic condition they were in: proud Pharisees, stiff, unyielding. I heard their prayer and understood just enough German to know how wooden it was. As I was about to go up to the platform, I turned, looked at them and said, "Would to God that I could frolic with you on the grass!" You try that out the next time you speak to German Pentecostals! Frolic I did. I leaped, danced, sang, cavorted, and carried on. My brother who was with me from the community did exactly the same thing, by the same Spirit. I could sense the bristling indignation welling up in that congregation. I stood up while he was performing, turned to them and said, "You Pharisees, indignant that you're not hearing the Word of God. You wanted a message. God has given you more than you've asked; He's made the word flesh. He is demonstrating what is missing from your congregation and from your lives: reality, truth, spontaneity, freedom, liberty, unfeigned joy." They repented that night. Oh, children, "a man in whom the spirit of God is."
"They brought Paul up to Mars Hill." He did not send a letter, weeks in advance, to the full gospel director and say, "Listen, I think I'm going to be through Athens. Do you think you can fix me up with a little meeting or two?" It all began with the Spirit of God wincing in the spirit of a man. "Then they brought him." When he had his glorious opportunity, how he defied every evangelical rule! Verse 22 says, "Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars Hill and said, 'You men of Athens, I perceive that in all things that you are too superstitious.'" Whap! Do you want to insult intellectuals? Tell them that they are too superstitious. How would we have begun? "Unaccustomed to public speaking as I am, I want to take this occasion to say that I represent the gospel..." Paul did not begin by any conventional means; he began by the wisdom of God, appropriate for that moment, expressed by God's Spirit through one who counted all things as dung, including his own intellect, mentality, cleverness, and devices.
"I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious, for as I passed by and beheld your devotions I found an altar with the inscription 'To the Unknown God' whom therefore you ignorantly worship. Him declare I unto you." How do you like them apples? Bold by the Spirit of God! Original by the Spirit of God! Cutting and compelling by the Spirit of God! I encourage you to review this later on. You will find that his actual statement was not at all religious; it was utterly philosophical. He spoke about the purpose of existence. He told them that God has established bounds and nations and has given all men one blood for this one purpose: that they might seek after God and find Him. He spoke to philosophers philosophically.
It was entirely appropriate, because God is always appropriate, if we would get out of the cotton-picking way and let Him be appropriate! Do you know what happened when they heard of the resurrection of the dead? "Some mocked: others said, 'We will hear thee again on this matter.'" It is likely that they never did. "So Paul departed from among them." Do you depart when men are no longer listening? I think I have started more Jews on the path to the gospel by turning on my heel and walking away from them than by demonstrating my cleverness to them and manipulating the Scriptures. I am not in the business of vain disputation!
When men are no longer hearing, I am no longer speaking.
I once went to a southern city, and some people arranged a luncheon for me with a Jewish business magnet. No one could reach him. He was tough. "But maybe Katz will bring him down." He was willing for a little contest, so he invited us to lunch. I remember munching on that lunch, and because I did not say, "Boo!" this man became a bit irritated. He said, "How are you enjoying your free lunch?" I said, "I want you to know that, for me, this lunch is very costly." I had already discerned his spirit and it stunk. He said, "Aren't you going to say anything to me?" I said, "No." "How come?" he asked. I said, "If God is not speaking, then I have no intention of speaking either." I have seen a lot of stunned Jewish faces that have discerned for the first time that this gospel is precious, because I would not share it with them if they only had a mind to dispute.
"So Paul departed from among them, howbeit certain men clave unto him and believed, among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them." This is just a little episode from the life of Paul, caught between assignments, being taken by other men, fleeing from persecution, brought to Mars Hill, etc. It was an utterly consequential confrontation with the intellectuals of his generation. Some scoffed and mocked, while others said, "We want to hear of it again." One or two believed. Dionysius means "follower of Baccus," the god, the pagan deity of revelry and sensual gratification. Dionysius believed!
Have any of you ever been to Paris? Have you ever been up in the Latin Quarter, there on the left bank? Have you ever been up to Mont Martre, where they have the art exhibitions out in the open? I only recently found out what "Mont Martre" means. It means "the mount of the martyr." Do you know whose blood was spilled there when he went, by the Spirit, to persuade men of the terror of God? The same Dionysius, whom Paul brought to the Lord in Athens, poured out his blood for some Gaelic pagans on a mount that is now called "Mont Martre." It is in the red light district, near Paegall, and it is still a great pagan land. Where are the Dionysiuses of our generation who will go up to the mount, even if it means they will not come down again? I want to tell you, folks, that it could have been the same for Paul. He may have never come back from Mars Hill, but I think he had already resolved the issue of whether he was coming back or not. If God had brought him to a mount of martyrdom, then he was well prepared to end there.
Now I want to turn to my main text, Acts, chapter 16. This is my last night, so I am going to take full advantage of this opportunity. "Can we find such a man as this, a man in whom the spirit of God is?" I want to give you a sketch of the kind of man God is speaking about and the kind of man He is seeking. Verse five says, And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily. Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the regions of Galatia and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, and after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas and a vision appeared to Paul in the night. There stood a man of Macedonia and prayed him, saying, 'Come over into Macedonia and help us.'
I ought to be struck by lightening right now for having the gall and temerity to read the Holy Word of God as I just did. If we were not on such a time schedule, we should have allowed these words to go forth as a rare vintage and roll them upon our tongue. We would do well to savor every syllable. How many of you have taken note that in those few verses, there are three manifestations of the Holy Spirit described? I will tell you what is bugging me. I am grieved by the lackadaisical way that we treat the prophetic and divine utterances of God, by the Spirit, in our congregations. You would think that an utterance in tongue, interpretation, or prophecy is some matter-of-fact happenstance that we expect to punctuate every service with. It is part of the trimmings! I am still reverent enough that if God speaks divinely, then I am ready to be on my face!
There are three manifestations of the Holy Spirit in this passage, yet we can whiz through it as if we were reading some kind of cheap manual. There are people sitting in this audience tonight, and certainly over the whole of Christendom, who have never experienced one manifestation of the Holy Spirit in ten or twenty or thirty years of their believing life! How is it, then, that these manifestations were so liberally poured upon the apostolic men of that generation? What strange and unusual manifestations! They were "forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia." You may have thought, "Hey, that's not God! We're establishing the churches daily and succeeding. That's Satan, trying to get us away from a rich and rewarding area of ministry." How sharp is your discernment? How many times have you labeled God's divine speaking as "satanic" because it confounded your notion of what success is, or your notion of what God is wanting? How quick are we to pray for the sick, when it may be that God has a special dispensation of dealing with a particular soul and wants us to keep our cotton-picking hands off! The church has become a bunch of mechanical clods playing with new charismatic toys.
We would have argued with God and said, "The Spirit of God will never contradict His own Word, and God has said in His Word, 'Go ye into all the world and preach this gospel to every creature.'" Oh, yeah? When? Who? Where? By what means? The God who gives the general invitation will also fill out the particular specifics, and until He does, I am not going anywhere, but when He does, then woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
Oh, children, God has a plan and He has a time. He is waiting for a man to fulfill it. He is waiting for one who can be stopped in the field of his own success. If you think God measures success as you measure it, then you have another thing coming. If you think you can measure it because every pew is filled, every budget is accounted for, and every service is groovy and delightful, then you have another thing coming. Spend an afternoon the way that I have spent today in your own backyard. Go to the Washington State Hospital and see the schizophrenics, the vegetables, and the deranged. Go to an old age home and seek out some Jewish lady who is a bundle of bones and nerves, and try to speak something divine to her that would save her from a course with death and eternal destruction. See the lonely, the dejected, the crestfallen, and the broken! Let your vision go beyond these walls, and we will see just how successful we are. I will tell you that when God can arrest a man in the midst of his success, then He has got the man!
"They were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia and they came to Mysia. They tried to go to into Bithinia: but the Spirit suffered them not." We always think of the Holy Spirit saying, "Go, go, go!" Have you ever thought of the Holy Spirit saying, "Stop, stop, stop!"? You bunch of eager beavers, wanting to do, do, do for God and yourselves, thank you. I had to take one of our young brothers to Yugoslavia, Germany and East Germany for six weeks of ministry. It was a ministry to the nations. It was apostolic glory. You will never hear anything about it. The greatest ministries of God, you will never hear anything about. They are unsung, unheralded, inconspicuous, and unseen. Do you have a stomach for that? When this twenty-one-year-old brother came back six weeks later, he said, "I went as a zealous evangelical and I returned as the resurrected Christ." May we all come and go in the same way. Just before we left, I said, "Supposing now, at this last minute, I leave you here and I decide to choose another brother to go. What do think of that?" He said, "Art, I have come to a place where it is all the same to me whether I go or stay." I said, "Praise God, I'll take you!"
Oh children, when we will get out of it, when we will have really gone into the earth and died, when there will no longer be the taint of flesh in our zealousness and so-called "concerns," when the God who sees our hearts will know that there is nothing in us that is vain or egotistical that will subtly steal from His glory, when He will know that He has men that have been brought back from the dead, who have no life unto themselves and can be moved about like Jack-in-the-box and be brought to Athens by other men, when He will have men who do not have to prepare their strategies, their programs, or their plans, then we shall again see apostolic splendor and glory!
"A vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia prayed him saying, 'Come over into Macedonia and help us.'" You may ask, "Why don't we see such visions, Art?" Are you in a position to go? Are you in a position to bring help? With what are your prayers most commonly occupied? Is it not yourself? "Lord, forgive me again; I blew it. Oh, Lord, I'm just a piece of flesh." That's right! Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Help me. Do for me, me, me, me, me. I was looking at your posters on these walls the other day:
Jesus is Lord: His word teaches me.
Jesus is Lord: He knows me.
Jesus is Lord: He loves me.
Jesus is Lord: He listens to me.
Jesus is Lord: He forgives me.
He gives me new life.
He lives in me.
Me, me, me, me! All these things are true, but children, if you are still egocentric and your whole understanding of the faith is the benefit that accrues to you, then you have missed the greatest salvation of God! He came to save us from egocentrism, not to give us a new brand that is spiritual! He wants men who are dead to themselves, and it does not matter to them whether it is Bithynia, Philippi, Timbuktu, Athens, whether they are seen and heard or not seen and not heard. "A man in whom the spirit of God is." Pits, dungeons, unjust accusations, two years more - it is all the same! They can receive visions because they are in a position to give help.
"And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas we came with a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day to Neapolis, and on to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia and a colony." Oh, glorious words! Don't they just come out of the page and strike you in the eyes? "Assuredly gathering...loosing from Troas...setting forth with a straight course," they came to the chief city. What a different tenor are those words, compared to the kinds of icky syllables and phrases that are current in our own modern day: "Maybe, if, it depends, I guess." We are filled with equivocation and compromise. Setting forth with a "straight course," they came to the chief city, "assuredly gathering that the Lord had called" them. "Art, didn't you say that the vision came to Paul? How is it, then, that after he had seen the vision, 'immediately we endeavored to go?'" I will tell you how it is, you loners, you spiritual hotshots, you riders off into the sunset, who are going to do great deeds for God, independent of other men!
There is a pattern here that God cherishes. It is a pattern of men who are intricately and deeply related to other men, established by His Spirit in apostolic bands, heads over bodies. When the head receives the vision, the body "assuredly gathers" that the Lord had called us! Then they can set forth with a straight course. If you will not be assuredly determined, then do you know what is going to ensue when the first foul thing happens, when things go awry, when the first wind of persecution blows or the first failure occurs? "Lord, I blew it, I missed it. Maybe I was out of your will." God wants you to know that you are to set forth with a straight course, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called you because you are intimately, profoundly, realistically, truly, and spiritually joined to a head of a body who receives the vision of God!
Did I mention the $5,000.00 check that came to us in the midst of our poverty? Did I tell you my wife's reaction when we had the final discussion that day in the community about whether we should send this money off to a particular work in Jerusalem, when we had our own pressing needs? It is interesting how quickly some of the women found the scriptures that said that you are worse than a heathen if you do not provide for your own house! I remember what one of the young disciples said that evening in the discussion. He said, "I don't purport to hear what Art has heard. God didn't speak to me what He spoke to him, but he's my elder. I'm related to him. I'm joined to him. I say that if Art believes God has said that we are to give that money away, then I think that we should do it. I go with him." My wife could not contain herself any longer and cried out, "How can you trust that man?" She was speaking out of some painful experience! She has moved something like ten times in twelve years. She has had to live in Israel and Denmark and be ejected out of Israel in humiliation. Now she has had to move out to a remote area in northern Minnesota and give up her gorgeous home. "How can you trust that man? How do you know we're supposed to go to Minnesota? How do you know we were supposed to go to Israel?" You know there are some times where you have to go, "Um, uh..." Would to God that He had a louder voice! I have had to trust the still small voice of God. If I perish, then my family and the 55 other souls who are joined to us in 30-degree-below-zero winters in that northern outpost go down with me. He who has seen the vision had better be assured that he has seen the vision. If he is a man like Paul, with no life unto himself, no ambition for himself, no intentions for himself, and if he is on God's divine course, then he will assuredly receive the vision.
"So they came to the chief city." Do you want to hear him blow it? The 13th verse says, "and on the Sabbath we went out of the city by the riverside where prayer was want to be made, and we sat down and spoke unto the women which resorted there." Oh, Paul! Man! God brings you all the way from Asia to Europe and, on the Shabbat, the heaviest night of the week, when the whole town is out, when the synagogues are bursting at the seams, you go out of the city? Where does it say that the Spirit of God said, "Paul, get thee out of the city?" It doesn't. I bet that there was nothing more than this: Paul just had an inkling. He just had a hunch. He just had an intimation, but it was a holy intimation. It was a holy hunch, and he was required to act upon it. Even though it contradicted every evangelical rule and wisdom, they went out of the city where women resorted for prayer. Do you know what happened? A woman got saved there and was baptized. She was a seller of purple linen. She constrained them to come in and to fellowship with them. He went all the way to Europe for one woman? He left behind churches that were being built and added to daily, for one woman?
Oh, I could tell you stories, children! I could tell you of the gospel outreach in the City College of New York, which is 85% Jewish, where my head was handed to me. The rabbis took me on and made me look like a fool. They cut me down to size. I was left like a trembling hulk when the word fell out of my mouth limply, dead to the floor, without anointing. I was devastated by the disappointment of God not honoring my fasting and prayer. We had spent months in preparation for that meeting. It was the first gospel outreach in the history of that Jewish institution. We had a vision that the fire of God was going to fall and the Jewish students would take it into their neighborhoods. The only thing that fell was the limp word that came out of my mouth - plop! You should have heard the "anointing" on the rabbis! Phew! Talk about the Jewish mafia! Talk about words that could kill and cut! The most painful thing of all was the disappointed faces of the Christian brethren. They did not say a word. Would to God they had said something! "Katz, we thought you were an anointed mouthpiece. We thought God had given you a ministry of encounter. What's the matter, man? Don't you know how to pray? Did you ever hear of fasting? Is there secret sin in your life?" I could not volunteer any explanation to them, because God was not giving me a word of explanation.
Children, will you go without explanation? Will you be foolishly used of God without explanation? Will you suffer disappointment without explanation? Are you willing to wear the crown of thorns, that you might wear the crown of glory? You are not going to have the one if you are not willing for the other.
For three weeks, I sulked and licked my wounds. There was Satan at my elbow saying, "Katz, you blew it! You never should have left the teaching profession. What made you think you were called to minister to your own Jewish people? God gave you a grand opportunity and you were pitiful! You couldn't answer those Jews! It was a failure! There will never again be such an opportunity." I sulked and whimpered for three weeks until there was a phone call. A thin voice said, "Mr. Katz, I read your book. I'm a Jewish woman. Could I come over? I've got some questions." I said, "Lady, I can't answer a thing. Can't you find somebody else?" However, she came over, with her veins sticking out and her eyes sunken into her skull. She was a nervous wreck. She was a compulsive chain smoker. She filled up my ashtray with cigarettes and asked me questions. The last question was, "Mr. Katz, what must I do to be saved?" I told her, "Believe on the Lord Yeshua Ha'Mashiach, Jesus the Christ, and thou shalt be saved and thy house." So she bowed her skinny little neck and followed me in a prayer for salvation. She has gone on from death to life to distribute New Testaments, Christian literature, and copies of my testimony, Ben Israel, from her apartment in New York City.
As I was putting her coat on her frail shoulders that night, walking her to the door I said, "By the way, how did you get my book and how did you come here?" "Oh," she said, "My son was at your meeting three weeks ago at City College. He came home so excited. He said, 'Mom, a man came to the school today, a Jewish man, and he just simply stood up and spoke of his convictions. The moment he finished he was mercilessly attacked, and he answered his accusers not a word. I've never seen anything like it. Here, read his book.'"
"The eye of God roves to and fro over the face of the earth, seeking that one whose heart is perfect toward Him" (2Chr 16:9). What are you looking for? Numbers? Can you be moved from your success for just one? God gave me an experience in Japan. It spoiled me. I will never be the same. God showed me the Jewish-like authenticity of the faith in Japanese believers. I have never seen such unparalleled glory, freedom, spontaneity, and fervent love. I have never heard such prayer and travail as came from that body of Japanese saints. It is called "The Tabernacle Movement," because they do not own buildings. They sit their haunches on floors in crowded rooms with sliding doors. What glory!
I noticed the beauty of the wife of the founder of that movement. She was so beautiful; I could not take my eyes from her. It was embarrassing and compulsive! One day, I had a rare opportunity. They placed me behind the post, and I could look around it to just bask in the glory of her beauty. As I had this opportunity, I noticed that it was not her natural features that constituted her beauty. There was such a glow and godly vibrancy in that life and face; it was divine glory. What a beauty! When the conference was over, we were driving down the Japanese toll-road, and I mentioned something about the beauty of this man's wife. "Oh," he said, "Art, don't you know the story?" I said, "What story?" "Oh," he said, "Professor Toshima's wife was a syphilitic when he first met her. She was dying from syphilis. She was in the advanced stages of the disease. Her parents had sold her as a concubine to a man who had four other wives. When Professor Toshima first began his ministry, she used to taunt him, mock him, and throw his words back in his teeth when he talked about God and His love. 'Easy for you to say, you're handsome, favored, and eloquent, but look at me...my beauty is ravaged. I'm a waste!'" According to them, she was a woman who had to sit after every ten steps to catch her breath. How this man, Professor Toshima, travailed in prayer for this one woman! God said to him, "Marry her." When he proposed, she thought he had lost his marbles, but she accepted. Then, when she became pregnant, unbeknownst to him, she had an abortion because she was convinced that the baby would be born blind or otherwise deformed. When he heard about the abortion, he was grieved and made her promise that when she became pregnant again, she would not abort this birth. When the baby was born, he was born perfect. His name is Isaiah Toshima. "Though your sins be red as scarlet, yet shall they be made white as snow." Mrs. Toshima was examined, her disease was gone, and her husband never contracted it. What a beauty, what a glory of redemption because of the love of this man for an ugly syphilitic!
We were just coming to the tollbooth and the car stopped. I said, almost out of breath, "But this movement is so powerful and it is spreading through Japan!" They do not have any evangelistic outreach. God adds to that church daily, such as should be saved. They have had such an impact in Israel. There is not a Christian movement in the world that has had the access and the love of the people in Israel as that Japanese movement. When the missionaries left Israel in that six-day war when it looked like curtains for Israel, Professor Toshima loaded up a jet and flew to Israel to stand with them in their moment of crisis. I said, "How could this man have been willing to risk this great ministry and this movement for one woman?" "Well," the brother said as he paid the toll and turned to look at me in the back seat, "unless you're willing to cast your ministry away for one, you have no ministry." I just spiritually slumped off the seat and lay whimpering on the floor of that Japanese car, utterly smashed. God took men away from a successful field of venture, arrested them and stopped them. Their spirits suffered them not to continue, in order that a woman who sells purple in a city called Philippi might be found on the day of the Shabbat outside the city and there receive the word of God unto salvation. "A man in whom the spirit of God is."
Verse 16: "It came to pass as we went to prayer a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. And the same followed Paul and us and cried saying, 'These men are the servants of the Most High God, which show unto us the way of salvation.'" Can you hear that ugly pitch of that cracked demoniacal voice? She was making the correct declaration, but by the spirit of a demon! It sends chills up my spine! "But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, 'I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her,' and it came out the same hour." It does not say, "Paul, being bugged" or "Paul, being irritated." It says, "Paul, being grieved." You say, "Art, when I see a demoniacal woman whose life is not her own, I'll also be grieved." Well, what is the matter already?
What about the ones all around you whose voices may not be high-pitched, cracked, or shrill? Are their lives any more their own than this woman's was? What is the matter with the idolatry that is everywhere around you? Why is His Spirit not wincing in your spirit? Where is that grief, born of the love of God, that makes faith into power to set the captives free, the faith that works by love, not our human thing pumped up, but the divine fervency of God that flows in the lives of those who have put away their shabby, sentimental, and temperamental substitutes? May God keep me from another backslap, bear hug, or any other kind of pseudo expression of affection, except there be a burning fervency in my heart by His spirit for the man to whom He would bring me in embrace! May they think me a cold fish; may they think me unloving, and they do! May I suffer the reproach of being a man who is supposed unloving! I do suffer it! I do not allow any shabby, schmaltzy, sentimental substitutes to stand as "good things" and deter the perfect, divine fervency of God that takes faith and makes it alive to set the captives free. I don't give a rap for the so-called love for Israel that so many Christians purport to have. They wear their stickers on their bumpers until the oil crisis comes! Then it is "Oil, yes!" and "Jews, no!" Oh, those Christians who palpitate for the beautiful Israelis. How they "love" the Jews, yet they have never witnessed once to the Jew who lives down their block in their American city. It is a shabby, sentimental substitute for the divine fervor of God.
>"Paul, being grieved," or the scripture could better say, "God, being grieved in Paul." May God keep me from my own sentimental thing until His grief finds expression through me! If He cannot speak two languages through one mouth, then He certainly is not going to pump two kinds of grief through one frame. It is either Him or us, folks! I have determined that it is going to be Him! That spirit came out "and when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrate saying, 'These men, being Jews!'" This is the definition of true Jewishness of heart. It is not by the Stars of David. It is not by the pastrami, gefilte fish, lox or anything else that you consume.
These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city and teach customs which are not lawful for us to receive neither to observe being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them and the magistrates rent of their clothes and committed to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison charging the jailer to keep them safely, who having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks.
Can you picture us, if we had been there that day? "Lord, how did we miss it? We thought we had a divine vision and look at us now, publicly humiliated, clothes rent from our bodies as orthodox Jews, thirty-nine strokes of a fearful instrument that has left our backs hanging in strips. We are cast into a filthy, stinking dungeon that reeks from human excretion and urine, with the scurrying of rats and vermin and the moans and groans of prisoners. Where did we fail?"
That is your reward when you set the captives free. Those that live godly lives in Christ shall suffer persecution! However, "At midnight"... in the depths of the darkness, in the greatest aloneness, with Satan breathing all kinds of words of discouragement and failure: "You missed it. You never should have left Asia. What are you doing out here anyhow? This is just some pagan outreach. So you got a woman saved, look how you missed it! God was building the church"Ã¢â‚¬â€"At midnight"Ã¢â‚¬â€Do you have a stomach to be brought to the place where God would have you, at midnight? "At midnight, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God. And the prisoners heard them."
I am expecting to see every one of the prisoners in heaven. Oh, that the prisoners might hear us, children! Not our little bleeps, evangelisms, and tract distributions! May they hear the praise of God's people, not when our stomachs are full and we are well-clothed, fashionable and sitting in comfort in the company of the saints! May they hear our praise in the midst of our distress, duress, and affliction, as most assuredly they will! I do not think that the Lord is going to conveniently take us to be saved from a time of distress. Our God-sent distress will be the hour of the church's greatest glory, through those that can praise Him at midnight!
Ern Baxter said, "When God's people find the paradox of joy in suffering, they'll sing at midnight." Sure enough, there was someone who came up here last night to speak to you after I had spoken, in order to make sure that you did not go home with your feelings hurt and that you did not go home heavy, that somehow you would be reminded of happy things and be sort of cheered up. What is the matter with going home heavy? What is the matter with letting a heavy word reverberate in your spirit? What is the matter with being brought down into a pit or a dungeon for a season, if it shall please the Lord to put iron in your soul there? "Send them home happy! Oh, watch out, you may have bruised the sheep!" I will tell you that this scriptural, true, and holy kind of praise does not come just by charismatic exercise. It is the same kind of praise that Jehoshaphat sent in front of the army of Israel that day they had to tangle with those three armies of the uncircumcised. They sent forth the sweet singers of Israel who could praise God in the beauty of holiness. You do not learn that from a songbook. It has naught to do with virtuosity or the timber of your voice. It has to do with the knowledge of God, which is not cheap or conveniently obtained. This kind of praise and this kind of man are not fashioned in a day.
"And suddenly there was a great earthquake." What a "coincidence"! "The foundations of the prison were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's bands were loosed." It is not a coincidence, folks. It is because God inhabits the praises of His people. Where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty. He will be there in proportion to the authenticity of your praise in the midst of the direness of your distress. We are those who cannot crack our faces when we get back the wrong income tax return or get stood up by a boyfriend. How shall we do when our backs are hanging in strips in excruciating pain, when we cannot even adjust our posture because our feet have been made fast in the stocks?
We are those who have been squirted, sprayed, pampered, and spritzed with underarm deodorants and powder. How are we being prepared for the eventualities that must come to those who are obedient to the heavenly vision? Suffering must follow obedience, and you can say I said so!
The important thing is, the prisoners heard them singing while they suffered. Then the earthquake shook the bars, and the fetters fell off. Everyone's bands were loosed! "And the keeper of the prison, awakening out of his sleep" Hallelujah! That is a perfect picture of the Jewish guy with his social security, savings account, bankbook, and meager security or the Christian guy who keeps his nose clean, the respectable Christian "awakening out of his sleep"!
It is going to take an earthquake, and we have got to be the ones who will precipitate it. "Seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing the prisoners had been fled, but Paul cried with a loud voice saying, 'Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.'" "Cool it! We haven't gone anywhere! We are no more prisoners now than we were before because 'bars do not a prison make.'" To be free in Christ is to be free indeed! If Christ has brought you to a cell, then you are free in it. When the doors burst open, there is no disposition to run. You are as free within as you are without. It is the man who holds the keys who is bound!
"Paul cried with a loud voice." I do not know if he could even see the jailer with his eyes, but Paul saw by the Spirit. "Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas." This is the anatomy of a conversion, not cheap salvation! This is a life that is going to be transformed. It is not some guy who is superficially saved, who goes on just as fleshly and carnally as he was before. "He called for a light, and sprang in and said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'"
Do you want a picture of pathetic disgrace? Picture Art Katz, a teacher and humanist, giving answers to students that had not yet asked the questions. So many of us give answers to men who have not yet asked the question! We have our bumpers loaded with stickers, with answers for men who have not yet asked the question. Our function ought to be to bring men to such a divine discontent that they implore us, "Sir, what must I do to be saved?"
Paul then told him. "And he [the jailer] took them the same hour while he washed their stripes, and Paul baptized him and all his house straightaway. When he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house." This is a little episode in the life of Paul, a man "in whom the spirit of God is." Stopped by the Holy Spirit, directed by visions, he never did see that Macedonian man, but God put him on the divine course. He was kicked out of the city, persecuted in Thessalonica, and brought by other men to Athens, en route to another city. His spirit winced, and God gave him yet another divine encounter of eternal consequence. Oh, children, God is looking for a man "in whom the spirit of God is."
Are you waiting for a vision of someone calling you at night, bidding you to come? Are you in a position to bring the help? Will you set forth with a straight course, assuredly gathering that the Lord has called you and assuredly reckoning that your obedience is going to be rewarded with suffering? In the midst of the suffering, will you praise God? In the midst of the stink, dung, vermin, crawling and discomfort, will you praise God, that the prisoners might hear you? That cannot be done by fleshly exercise or by singing choruses; it must be done by a man "in whom the Spirit of God is." Such a man is not fashioned in a day. Are you willing to be enrolled in the apostolic school? Are you willing to give away your best, in order that you might touch this glory? This age must definitely end with the same apostolic glory as it began, through men "in whom the spirit of God is."
I want you to bow your heads, because God did not speak these things for your entertainment! He is recruiting tonight. He is looking for men, apostolic men, who have no morbid appetite for suffering. He is looking for men that have a realistic anticipation that suffering is the consequence of obedience to the heavenly vision and yet are still willing to be arrested and stopped in the midst of their successes, so that God can bring them where He will, even for one soul. If you are such a one and want to be established in the school of preparation for suffering, martyrdom, or going up to hills from which you may not come down, then I ask you to stand right now and settle it with the Lord. You are finished! You are finished! If you think it is going to be your wit, your cleverness, your ability, your evangelical expertise, then He will empty you! He will undo you! He will bring you to the school of humiliation. He will bring you to impasses that you will not be able to explain to others, because He has not explained them to you. He will ask you to praise Him in that circumstance, so that the prisoners might hear you. Is there a soul here who has had a gut full of phony burdens that are not heartfelt or a so-called love for the Jews that is sentimental and shabby? Have you never experienced the divine burden of God that burns and will not let you go? Are you willing to be a vessel through whom the grief of God can be expressed? Are you willing to be seen as an ungainly freak because of the way that He would have you to respond to His grief? Are you willing to confront men in the Spirit of God by calling them ignorant or by telling them that their spirits stink? You will be a reproach and an off scouring, a shame and a scandal, even to Christians. They will tell you that you blew it and will say, "What are you doing in a cell anyhow, when God had you in a groovy ministry that was successful?"
Let me pray;
Precious God, in the Name of Jesus, if this has been the Word of Truth tonight, out of Your heart, and if this has not been the exercise of a man, if this has been the cry of God looking for a man, calling us to the apostolic conclusion of the age, then I ask you seal, by name, every soul that has stood to his feet for this invitation tonight. Lord, I do not ask that You spare them. You have not spared me, and I am only at a beginning of these things. We are not asking that You give us an explanation, Lord, to take the sting out of our humiliation. We are just asking, Lord, You Who know our frame, that You would shape us. Cut away all the so-called "good things." We must find ourselves stuttering at platforms, unable to conduct church, except that You are our expertise. We must be willing to suffer services that fail, rather than manipulating men and getting things moving, in order to give the appearance of something that looks spiritual but is only a soulish counterfeit. We must be willing to experience failure and disappointment, because we have determined to seek only the glory of God, by the Spirit. Oh, precious God, seal us, Lord, with this divine call. We know that You mean business. We know that You are going to deal with us where we are. We know that we are going to be shaken to the foundations. You are going to show us every counterfeit thing, Lord, which we have been pleased with heretofore. You are going to strip us; You are going to make us barren, in order that You might raise up and bring forth "a man in whom the spirit of God is."