History of Holy Spirit-Purpose of Miracles

John

History of Holy Spirit-Purpose of Miracles

May 23rd, 1965 @ 10:50 AM

John 14:16

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
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THE HISTORY OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:

THE PURPOSE OF MIRACLES

Dr. W. A. Criswell

John 14:16

5-23-65    10:50 a.m.

 

 

This is the pastor bringing the message on the Holy Spirit of God.  It is one in a long series.  The series began last Sunday morning and will continue for a long time.  The title of the message today is The Purpose of Miracles.  And it is a pausing at one of the things that I recounted last Sunday.  As a background, not as a text but as a background for this series, in the fourteenth chapter of John and verse 16, in the fourteenth chapter of John in verse 16, "I will pray the Father," said our Lord:

 

And He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever.  Even the Spirit of Truth for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you.

 

If this is true, then the Holy Spirit has been with us since the outpouring at Pentecost for almost two thousand years.  And He’s here today.  He’s in this assembly and He’s in our hearts.  So the Lord says, "I will give you the Holy Spirit, I will pour out the Holy Spirit upon you, that He may abide with you forever."  That means that we have already had two thousand years of history in which we can follow the doctrine and the works of the Holy Spirit of God.

Last Sunday morning we began that introductory message following the history of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit among the churches.  Now in these history books – I did not say this – in these history books, I read that after the death of the apostles there was a great change in the attitude of the people of the Lord toward what?  Toward the writings of Scripture.  Anything that was written by an apostle, like John or Paul, or anything that was written by an amanuensis of Paul, like Mark or Luke, was immediately received by the churches as holy, inspired Scripture.  But when the apostles died there was a change in attitude on the part of the churches.  And these following writings were not looked upon as the inspired Word of God.

Second, I read in these history books that when the apostles died, those marvelous wonders and miracles that they were able to do, died with them.  Now what are we talking about when we read in these books of Christian history, that those miracles that the apostles were able to do were no longer wrought; that the miraculous powers of the disciples died with them?  Now what do they refer to when they say that?

All right this is what their talking about – – the miraculous things that the apostles were able to do by the Holy Spirit of God.  Here’s one.  On the day of Pentecost, there were present there Partheans, and Medians, and Elamites, and Mesopotamians, and Judeans, Capadocians, and Pontians, and Asians, and Phrygians, and Egyptians, Libyans, and Syrians, and Romans, and Jews, and Cretians, and Arabians, among others.  And these men who were Aramaic speaking, who didn’t know anything of the language of these people, these men stood there and preached the gospel in the native languages of these far flung peoples.  There has been nothing like that before.  There has been nothing like that in the history of the world.  That was an enablement from God.

All right I turn the page.  In the third chapter of the Book of Acts, it says that Simon Peter took hold of the right hand of a man who had been born lame and lifted him up.  And he was well when Simon Peter raised him up.  I turn the page.  Says here that "so wonderfully was the power of the Holy Spirit upon Simon Peter, insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and couches that at least the shadow of Peter passing by, might overshadow some of them and they be healed."  Think of the marvelous mystery and miracle of that.  The shadow of Simon Peter falling upon the sick would make them well.

All right I turn the pages in the Book of Acts.  There was a woman in Joppa by the name of Dorcus and this woman died.  And they washed her and they laid her in an upper chamber for burial.  And Simon Peter came from Lydda, and he took Dorcus by the hand and raised her up.  And he raised from the corrupting dead this corpse.  What an incomparable thing.  I turn the pages.  Simon Peter is in prison awaiting his execution, and an angel appears, and his chains fall off, and the iron doors open of themselves, and he walks out free.

I turn the pages.  In the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts, God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs and aprons – – little artisan things like a brick layer would wear – – and the diseases departed from them and the evil spirits went out of them.  Just by taking a handkerchief from Paul and putting it on the sick they were made well.

And I turn the page.  In the next chapter, Eutychus, who was a little fellow listening to Paul preach – – and Paul preached until after midnight – – and he fell asleep.  And he fell out of the third loft, the third story where Paul was preaching and he killed himself when he fell down.  And there was great consternation.  And Paul went down and raised him up and brought him back to life.  These things are marvelous things that I read in the book of the wonders of the apostles.  I didn’t say this.  The books of history say that when the apostles died those wondrous miracles died also.

Now the history books say that in 150 AD there arose a prophet – – self-style.  There arose a man in a village in Phrygia by the name of Montanus.  And this man Montanus said that "all of the powers and gifts of the apostles are reincarnate in me."  And Montanus said, "As the writings of Paul superceded those of Moses, so my writings supercede those of Paul and what I am saying and writing is a later scripture than what you find here in the New Testament in the writings of Paul and the other apostles."  And then he came forth saying that he was able to do the great wonders.  That precipitated a violent conflict in the churches.  And the churches said, "There are no more Scriptures.  When John saw a vision," they said:

 

That is a revelation from heaven.  That is the apocalypse.  That is the Revelation.  That is the last book of the Bible.  And when Paul said, ‘And I saw a vision,’ those are the marvelous things you read in his epistles.  But when Montanus comes and says ‘I saw a vision,’ that is not a revelation from God.

 

That’s what the history books said, I didn’t say that.

The history books say that the churches avowed that when the apostles died there are no more Scriptures; none.  There are no more paragraphs, no more verses, no more letters, no more books, no more revelations, no more apocalypses, no more visions.  These things are not acceptable any more as Scripture.  That’s what the churches said in this controversy over Montanus.  And the churches also said that there are no more of these marvelous miracles.  They died with the apostles.  Now that’s what the history books said.  I never said that.  The history books said that in this violent conflict over Montanism.  So that is what I recounted to you last Sunday morning.

Then I get letters.  "Dear Dr. Criswell, I listened to your program Sunday morning on television," then follows a denial that those marvelous wonders died with the apostles.  I never said that they died with the apostles.  The history books say that those marvelous, miraculous wonders died with the apostles.  That is what the history book says.  Then the author of this letter writes,

 

The reason why these miracles have not died with the apostles, the reason I believe in the marvelous works, is because thousands of people in our day are receiving those wonderful gifts, with the initial sign of speaking in tongues.  I know because I have experienced it.

 

What are you going to say, when somebody writes to you that this marvelous gift, "bestowed upon me, of speaking in tongues, is the same thing that I am reading here in the Book of the Acts; where it says, ‘And Simon Peter took this dead woman by the hand, her name was Dorcus, and lifted her up and she was raised from the corrupting dead, by the power of Simon Peter?’  But I’ve got that power because I can speak in an unknown tongue."

Do you not see the difference?  Or is there not any difference between somebody speaking in an unknown tongue and somebody raising a corrupting body from the dead?  You listen to me.  If you will point out to me anywhere in the earth, anywhere in the earth that there is somebody that can take a corrupting body and raise that dead corpse from the dead, I’ll borrow any amount of money it’d take – I’d pawn my very life itself – to buy a ticket to go to that place just to see somebody do that miraculous thing.  That is what I am talking about when I read in the Bible here, these marvelous gifts of the apostles.

Or even this one, "Insomuch that they brought the sick into the streets and laid them on the sidewalk, so that the shadow of Simon Peter passing over them would heal the sick."  I’d go anywhere in the world to see a miracle like that; that the shadow of a man falling upon the sick would make them well again.  Are you telling me that I am to think that the ability to speak in an unknown tongue is that?  It just seems to me, as I read it in the history books and as I observe it today, that there is a vast difference between the wonders, able and mighty, given by God to these apostles than what I see today.

But of course, that doesn’t stop us.  We just keep on going.  Says here in the Word, "God brought special miracles by the hands of Paul, so that from his body were brought forth unto the sick, handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them."  So I get another communication:

 

I have a prayer cloth.  I have a prayer cloth.  This was and still is God’s way of providing deliverance for those, who for one reason or another, cannot avail themselves of the laying on of hands, just as the woman who pressed through the mob to touch the hem of Christ’s garment was made whole the moment she touched the cloth.  So when you touch this bit of cloth, believing as she did, your faith will make you whole.  Receive thus in obedience and faith, the effect thus as you place this cloth on your body, is the same as if Jesus Himself had laid hands upon you and commanded you to be made whole.  For it is by the authority which He gave to me as a believer, that as His agent, acting for Him in His absence, I – and he calls his name – now command in Jesus name, every affliction, every infirmity, every unclean spirit of tormenting demon, to flee from you as you place this cloth either upon your forehead, or upon this afflicted part.  This great ministry of faith is maintained by the free-will offerings of those desiring to join us in bringing deliverance to the suffering everywhere.  If you have my book, God’s Guarantee to Heal You, read through chapter twelve.  God’s Guarantee to Heal You, can be obtained by sending one dollar plus ten cents postage and handling to – and he gives his name.

 

Now this is supposed to be this:

And God brought special miracles by the hands of Paul, so that from his body were brought unto the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

 

This is this, "If you have my book, God’s Guarantee to Heal You, read it.  God’s Guarantee to Heal You can be obtained by sending one dollar, plus ten cents postage and handling, to:" and he gives his name.  This is the continuation of the marvelous miracles of the apostles.  On the face of it, on the face of it, just reading it, there is something wrong, something violently wrong; and to me something viciously wrong in our attitude toward the Word of God, and in our attitude toward the Holy Spirit of God, and in our understanding of the miraculous gifts, and favor, and enablement of God.

Now what is that difference?  There is something here that we ought to know, we ought to understand, and God ought to reveal to us.  And I think He has.  And as I have studied it – – poured over it and in my own soul – – I have a certain and assured answer from heaven the illumination of the Holy Scriptures that I hold in my hand. 

Now you listen; not counting the marvelous miracles of the creation – – and by the way, they ceased in that day, there is no such a thing as any man, any scientist, any man, anywhere, able to create anything – that’s a prerogative for God, God!  And when God finished His creation those miracles ceased; and there’s no such thing as creating anything else.  We can discover things.  We can put things together.  We can combine things but we can create nothing!  Now beside those beginning miracles that ceased and beside the great consummating miracles at the end of the time at the diluvian age; now beside those two in the end, besides Genesis and the Revelation, there are three periods of miraculous wonders here in the Word of God.

One was in the days of Moses in the introduction of the legal legislation.  The second was in the days of Elisha and Elijah, in the days of the awful apostasy.  And the third was in the days of Jesus and the apostles when the Christian dispensation was introduced.  Now those are the three periods of miraculous wonder-working that you’ll find in the Bible. 

Now in studying those three periods, I found a remarkable thing.  There is something that all three those miraculous periods have in common.  And it is this.  There is a purpose each time.  There is a purpose.  There is an elective, sovereign purpose in every miracle that God makes.  It is the purpose of authentication.  It is the purpose of pointing out.

Now you look at it.  We are going to take Moses first.  In the fourth chapter of the Book of Exodus, Moses says to the Lord God, "Now Lord, you want me to go down into the land of Egypt; but behold they won’t believe me, and they won’t harken unto my voice.  And what am I going to do when I go down into the land of Egypt, and I say ‘the Lord God Jehovah sent me down here.’  And they say, ‘Well we don’t believe the Lord Jehovah God has sent you.’  What am I going to say?"  And the Lord God said, "You don’t say anything.  You do this.  What do you have in your hand?" 

"I have a rod."  And the Lord said, "Throw it down."  And Moses cast it to the ground and when it fell on the ground, the rod became a serpent.  And Moses fled from before it.  And the Lord said to Moses, "Put forth thine hand."  And the Lord is not stupid or dumb.  The Lord said to Moses, "And take it by the tail."  Isn’t that smart?  A lot of times we think God doesn’t have any sense or that He does stupid things.  It’s not true.  It’s we who are stupid.  It is we who get things wrong and we don’t understand, get things all mixed up.

"And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take it by the tail.’  And he put forth his hand and the tail became a rod again."  That, oh! Do you think God is doing miracles like a magician and He’s entertaining a crowd?  No.  "You do this, that," says the Lord, "that they may believe the Lord God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, have appeared unto thee, and sent you."  And the Lord said, "Now Moses they may not believe that sign.  Put your hand in your bosom."  And he put his hand in his bosom, and he pulled it out and it was leprous.  Then the Lord said, "Now put your hand in your bosom again."  He put his hand in his bosom again, and he drew it out, and it was whole again, "that they may believe that I have sent you."

All right, then the Lord said, "Now they may not believe these two signs.  So it come to pass that if they don’t believe these two signs, why I’ll give you another one.  You take water, and pour it out on the land, and the water on the dry land will be blood."  There was a purpose.  There was a purpose; a sovereign, elective purpose that laid back of that marvelous ability of Moses to bring miracles and that was, it was, an authentication from heaven that he was a God-sent man.

All right let’s take the second period now.  Elijah, in the days of the awful apostasy, when Israel had turned away from God; Elijah’s on Mount Carmel, the sacrifice is before him, water poured over it.

 

And it came to pass, the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, let it be known this day, that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy Word

Hear me O Lord, hear me, that the people may know that Thou art the Lord God. 

[1 Kings 18:36, 17]

 

There was a purpose in the divine visitation and there was a purpose in the marvelous miracles that he asked of God.  That, that, that, that – – four times that is mentioned.  In order to, there is a reason for it.

All right I turn the page.  I come to the third great period of miracles and this in the life of Christ and the apostles.  John the Baptist in prison, sent word to the Lord Jesus, and said, "Are you the one we are looking for or are we looking for somebody else?"  And the Lord said to John’s disciples, "You go back and show John, ‘Now look, the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up.’"  [Matthew 11:5]  These are signs, authenticating signs from heaven that this pointed Him out.  This is the Son of God.  And in the wonderful presentation of the whole ministry of our Lord by the apostle John, he never uses the word miracle.  He never uses the word wonder.  But he uses the word semeion, sign and he never uses any other word but semeion, sign.

In the King James Version translation, in the last of the book, correctly, "And many other semeia," plural, "and many other signs, truly did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written that," there’s no exception to that in the whole Word of God.  "But these signs are given in order that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing you might have life through His name."  There is just no such thing in the Word of God as a miracle being done just to entertain people or just for the purpose of doing it.

But every time one of those marvelous wonders is wrought by the Holy Spirit of God, it is in order that there might be an authentication from heaven.  That is its purpose.  And without it, it does not happen.  It doesn’t come.  There is a purpose that lies back of every one of these marvelous works of the Lord God.

Now may I speak of that for us in our day and our time?  God is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.  And God can do anything, anytime, anywhere; anything, anytime, anywhere.  But whatever God does, He does according to a sovereign and elective purpose.  And all of the self-dedication of which I might be able would never in the earth endow me with any gift from heaven that God’s sovereign, elective choice does not bestow upon me.  These things are in the purpose of God and if there is a necessity for any kind of a miracle, if there is a divine purpose for any kind of a wonder, God will bestow it upon us.  But it has to be in His sovereign choice and in His infinite grace.

Now I want you to look at the bestowment of these miracles for just a moment.  The Bible expressly says in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John, the Bible expressly says that John the Baptist did no miracle.  As great – – "and he was the greatest born of a woman", says the Lord – – as great as was John the Baptist, John did no miracle.  The Scriptures expressly state, "But Jesus did many miracles."  How did He do those miracles?  I’ll give you an example.

Coming by the pool of Bethesda in the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John, "The Lord saw a great group of people who were impotent, and who were sick, and who were infirmed.  And the Lord healed one of them.  And the Lord healed one of them."  What about all of the remainder who were not healed?  There is a purpose and there is a necessity in God whenever these wonders are performed.  There was one healed and all the rest were not healed.

And in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, it records the sermon that the Lord Jesus preached at His hometown in Nazareth.  And in the sermon the Lord said, "There were many poor widows in the days of an awful famine, when God withheld the rain at the prayer of Elijah.  But out of all of those starving widows, Elijah was sent just to one."  That was the Phoenician widow up there in Zarephath.  And then He continued His sermon.  The Lord said, "There were many lepers in the days of Elisha the prophet, but to none of them was Elisha sent except to Naaman, a Syrian."  [Luke 4: 25-27]  What about all of the other lepers and what about all the other widows?

Let’s take this story of Simon Peter.  We’re going to refer to it several times.  In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Acts, it says Simon Peter is in prison, and the angel comes, and his chains fall off, and the prison doors are opened.  The iron gate opened of itself and he walked out.  But did you know that same twelfth chapter of the Book of Acts, starts off, "And Herod beheaded James with a sword,"?  Herod Agrippa cut off James’s head.  He was the son of Zebedee and the brother of John.  The story starts off with the martyrdom of James.  Why didn’t the Lord deliver James?  Why did He open the prison doors to Simon Peter, but He let Herod cut off James’s head?

And if you turn the pages back twice, you’ll find in the seventh chapter of the Book of Acts, there is a martyrdom of Stephen who was stoned to death.  And what about all of the other martyrs uncounted that followed after, why didn’t God deliver them?  There is a sovereign purpose in these marvelous wonders of grace, and healing, and raising the dead, and deliverance.  There is a sovereign purpose in whatever God does.

Now may I show it to you once again?  Let’s go back to this passage:  "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul, so that from his body were brought to the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them."  Now I’m going to turn to the last letter that Paul wrote to his son in the ministry named Timothy.  And this is just before he died.  In 2 Timothy 4, verse 20, he says, "Erastus abode at Corinth, but Trophimus have I left at Miletus sick."  Why didn’t Paul put one of his handkerchiefs on Trophimus?  Why didn’t Paul kneel down by the side of that man of God and ask God to heal him?  Paul says to Timothy, "Trophimus have I left at Miletus, sick."

Now Trophimus is that man you remember, who accompanied Paul down to Jersalem during the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem.  And he is the one that the people saw Paul with.  Trophimus was an Ephesian.  He was a convert out of idolatry, out of paganism.  And when they saw Paul in the Temple the next day, they just supposed that he’d taken Trophimus, whom they’d seen with Paul the day before, into the Temple.  And it created a riot.  Now that’s Trophimus; a man who laid down his life for the Lord Jesus and a man who accompanied Paul on that third missionary journey.  And yet Paul writes, "Trophimus have I left at Miletus, sick."  Why didn’t Paul heal him?  "Leave him at [Miletus], sick."

All of it is very plain and God giving us understanding has made it very simple and very clear.  There is an elective purpose of God in our lives.  And when God delivered Simon Peter and He let James die with his head cut off, there was an elective purpose of God in it.  And when God let Stephen be stoned and when God delivered Paul out of the awful wreck of that terrible storm in Acts 27, there was an ultimate sovereign purpose of God in it.

Now I want to show that to you and we have to quit.  Isn’t it remarkable how the time runs away?  In the last part of the Gospel of John, John’s gospel closes at chapter 20, and Paul wrote an addendum, chapter 21; and in that chapter number 21, why they have got this miraculous draft of fishes and there’s a breakfast prepared.  And the Lord comes and asked them to break bread with Him.  And after they dine, He says to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these?"  And so after Simon Peter’s avowal of his love for the Lord, then Jesus says to him,

 

Simon, Simon, Simon, when you were young, you girded yourself, you dressed yourself, and you walked, wither thou wilst, you went everywhere you want to.  But when thou shall be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee, whither thou wilst not,’ this speak He signifying by what death he should glorify God. 

[John 21:18, 19]

 

That was the Lord’s prophecy that Simon Peter would die by the outstretched hands; by his hands nailed to a tree.  He would die by crucifixion.  And with unanimity, all the traditions of the church say that Simon Peter was crucified.  And because he felt himself not worthy to be crucified with his head up as the Lord was, he was crucified with his head down according to this prophecy.

So the Lord says this to Simon Peter; "And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.  Follow Me unto crucifixion and unto death."  So Simon Peter is following the Lord unto crucifixion and unto death.  And as he was following the Lord,

 

Peter turned around and saw John, the beloved disciple, who leaned on His breast at supper and said, "Lord who is it that betrayeth Thee?"

[Peter] seeing him, said to the Lord Jesus, "Lord, You say I am to follow you unto crucifixion and unto death.  Now what about this man Lord?  What shall this man do?" 

And Jesus saith unto him, "If I will that he never suffer, if I will that he never die, if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?  You, you follow Me." 

[John 21:20-22]

 

And the last picture you have of Simon Peter here in the gospel story is following Jesus unto crucifixion and unto death and the apostle John left to die a natural life in an old, old age.  And without exception all the traditions of the church, the story of the church after the closing of the Bible, says that is just the way it happened.  Simon Peter was crucified and the apostle John lived to be beyond a hundred years of age, in the latter part of his age at which time he wrote the apocalypse.

Now let me turn to the twelfth chapter of the Book of Acts.  Turn to the twelfth chapter of the Book of Acts.  Simon Peter is here in prison and the apostle James has had his head cut off.  And an angel comes to him, and his chains fell off, and the great iron gate of the prison opened of itself, and he went out a free man.  Why did it happen again?  Because in the elective purpose of God, James had his head cut off.  And in the elective purpose of God at that time, Simon Peter was liberated.  And in the elective purpose of God of that same Simon Peter in his age was crucified; his hands nailed to a tree.  And in that same elective purpose of God, the apostle John lived out his natural life and died at an age beyond a hundred years of age.

So what am I to expect when afflictions come, and when disease comes, and when all the vestitudes of life come?  What am I to expect?  Maybe if I were like some and I saw James beheaded, I’d say, "God doesn’t live."  And maybe if I were as some and saw Simon Peter crucified, I’d curse God to His face.  And maybe if I were like some, I’d say "God’s turned His back on me.  He doesn’t hear my cry.  He doesn’t answer my prayer.  He doesn’t raise me up and here I am suffering, and dying of carcinoma, cancer, tuberculosis, a thousand other terrible diseases; where is God?"  I can see why you’d say that when you are led into the misunderstanding of the work of the Holy Spirit in the earth.

There is a sovereign purpose in heaven.  For James, it was to cut off his head.  For Stephen, it was to be stoned to death.  For Simon Peter, delivered one time, next time, nailed to a tree while the apostle John, did he live in honor and love with his brethren over a hundred years of age.  For others, tears and suffering; for others, honor and length of life; all of it in the sovereign grace and elective purpose of God – – and I see it all of my life, all of my life.

May I close pointing out a last one among a thousand others in which I live all the time?  Out in the west, week before last, out in the west I visited with one of my dear and precious friends who with me, was a student in Baylor University.  He and I went through all those days of school together.  That man that I’m talking about out there, the pastor of a little church, that man is one of the finest and most consecrated men that I’ve ever known in my life.  We were students together.  We went to school together.  We were there the same in those classes, taking down those lectures, taking those examinations; giving our lives to be a preacher.

What about that man out there in the west, in the far west?  There has been no other thing in his life but heartache, and tears, and disappointment, and agonizing frustration.  And right now he is the pastor of a struggling church, one of the hardest in the whole world; full of every agony and frustration.  And there has come into his family death, and sorrow, and bereavement, and tears.  And he now lives in that kind of a world.  And as I listen to him, tears will fall down my face – – sorrow, sorrow, sorrow, and dying out there, in an unknown spot, with one of the most difficult congregations in the world.

What about me?  What about me?  I don’t think God ever placed a man in all the history of Christendom in a more pleasant lot and a more beautiful life than God has bestowed upon me here in this church with these marvelous people, and every kindness, and devotion, and love, and encouragement all around me.  And this is the most famous pulpit we have in the world.  Do you suppose that my friend in school days, has gone through those agonies, and suffers in those frustrations now because I am a better man than he?  I am a more consecrated man than he?  That I pray more than he?  That I love God more than he?  Why I tell you, I’m hardly worthy to stand in his presence, that man of God.  There was elective choice in God’s infinite wisdom for him.  There was an elective choice in God’s wisdom for me.

And if there are any tears that come or if there is any honor that comes, it’s in God’s choice and it comes in God’s purpose.  And if the Lord blesses me, I am doubly to remember, it’s from His gracious hands.  And nothing but self-effacement, and humility, and giving glory to God in thanksgiving to heaven is to characterize my life and my ministry.  And when I look upon him, I am not to look upon him with a superiority and supercilious disdain, as though he were not a true servant of God because of the tears of his life and agony of his ministry.

God in His infinite purpose into which I cannot enter, had a choice for him, and had another choice for me, and a choice for you, and a choice for you, and a choice for you.  It may be when you are ill that I can kneel by your bed and ask God and He raise you up.  I have seen an answer to prayer, "God raise those who are at the very door of death."  I have seen it.  I have also knelt and in agony prayed before God and these, for whom I prayed, died.  Am I therefore to say, "God doesn’t hear," or "our faith is not great enough?"  Or am I to say, "In the elective purpose of God, there may be for me some kind of Gethsemane?  There may be for us a Gethsemane and when we enter into that Gethsemane, let’s be like our Lord,

 

Dear God, don’t let this happen, but if it does, Thy will be done, not mine.  If I am to drink the cup Lord, to the last and bitter dregs, help me Lord, strengthen me Lord.  And if I am to be crucified, Lord, help me to look down on these who crucify me and pray for their souls, and to bow my head in death, and commit my soul to Thee.

 

Or if I am to be like the apostle John, and live my life in honor and repute, beyond a hundred years of age, I shall take it as a gift of heaven, in His will, in His sovereign grace, in His purpose in the earth.  For back of all the things that happened to God’s saints is the ultimate and final choice and elective purpose of God for us.

Now that is the teaching of the Holy Book.  And when I got through preparing this sermon, I had a peace that passeth all understanding.  This, this is what God says to us as He bestows upon us the power, and the grace, and the presence of His Holy Spirit.  And if the Lord wanted me to have the power to raise a corrupting body, God could do it with me, just as He could do it with Simon Peter.  It lies in His elective purpose and choice all of these things as God shall will for us.

Now while we sing our song, we change it. "Have Thine Own Way Lord," as we sing our song, have Thine own way.  Whether tears or smiles, whether to live or to die; have Thine own way Lord.  While we sing that hymn, to give your heart to Jesus, to come into the fellowship of the church; however God shall press the appeal to your soul, make it this morning.  Make it now.  Make it this noon-day, "Pastor today I give my heart to Jesus.  Here I come.  I give my hand to you."  Or, "Pastor, we are coming into the church today."  Make it today, make it now.  However God shall say the word, come as we stand and as we sing.