Speaking Word For Word
Your authority is in the Word of God. And if you want to have a prophetic ministry, it doesn't mean you go around lecturing people all the time.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again. My dear radio friend, how in the world are you? You doing alright? Bless your heart. Yes, this is your good friend, Bob Cook, and you and I are together again for some precious moments that we can invest in study of the Word of God.
We’re in Ephesians chapter 4, and we’ve just gotten to the verse that says something about the gifts that our Lord Jesus bestows upon believers through the blessed indwelling Holy Spirit. It says, He gave gifts unto men, and “He gave some apostles; and some prophets; some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,” it means grown up, grown-up man, “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”
Gifts given. Now, there’s several mention of gifts, I’ll just tick off one or two of them so that you have a perspective. I’ve turned now to 1 Corinthians 12 and he says, “Now, there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit, and there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.” I wish that some of the feuding, fighting denominational splinter groups could read this and take it seriously. There is room in God’s economy for the different ways of doing things, but we get to the place where we think our way is the only way. “There are differences of operations,” that’s methods, see. Different methods, “but it’s the same God which worketh all in all.”
“And the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal, for to one is given by the Spirit the Word of wisdom; to another, the word of knowledge by the same Spirit, to another, faith by the same Spirit; to another, the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, discerning of spirits; and to another, different kinds of tongue; and to another, the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the self-same spirit,” that’s the Holy Spirit, “dividing to every man severally as He will. For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.”
Different gifts. Now you see, he’s listed a lot of different things there, and he prefaced it by saying, “There are differences of gifts and differences of administration,” that means who’s in charge. “Differences of operation,” that means what method is being used. “But all of it,” he said, “is given to every person to prophet withal by the Holy Spirit of God.”
Over to Romans 12, you have a different reference. He said, “Now, having then gifts differing,” and I think you have to stop long enough to realize that Paul uses this word “different” and “differing” deliberately. He wants people to know that there’s room for variation, there’s room for variety, there’s room for differences between people and the way they do God’s work. Make room in your thinking for other folk with whom you may not agree. I have a saying that, I think, I originated 40 years ago, and in any case, I hadn’t heard it before that, “God reserves the right to use people with whom I disagree.” He does. He uses people concerning whom I would say, “Lord, look at that guy, how can you bless him?” Well, He does. So, Paul says in Romans 13, “Don’t judge another man’s servant. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own master, he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up, for God is able to make him stand.” Make room in your thinking for people who, although you may think are a little odd or too different to cooperate with, make room for the possibility that God is using them in a very special way.
So he says, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith or ministry, let us wait on our ministering. Or he that teacheth, on teaching, or he that exhorteth, on exhortation. He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth with diligence, he that showeth mercy with cheerfulness, and let love be without hypocrisy.” Different gifts that God has given, and how you are to use them.
Now with that background, then turn back, then, to Ephesians chapter 4, and Paul is listing here the gifts that particularly apply to building up the church, the Body of Christ. “First apostles, those who are sent forth with the message.” Now, you and I, of course, can never duplicate that original apostleship, those who were especially chosen to be with Christ. He chose 12 to be with Him, the apostles. And Paul the Apostle was chosen of God, I think, specifically to replace Judas Iscariot. The 11 apostles held an election and elected Mathias, but you never hear of him again. God had some plans for replacing Judas Iscariot, and they happened to focus on Saul of Tarsus, who later became the man we call the Apostle Paul. Apostles. But in a very practical sense, I think, you and I can have a kind of apostleship if you realize that that word “apostle” is made up of two words: “apo,” which means “out from”, and “stello,” which means “to send.” People who are sent forth with the Gospel. Well, our Lord Jesus said that His great commission was not just for us, but for others who would believe on Him through their word, and we have, then, today, the great commission, “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
There’s a standard prayer that I’ve heard in many churches, which I think is entirely unscriptural. I’ve heard deacons pray it earnestly and, of course, it was a good prayer, and I know God heard it, but I don’t think it was scriptural in its basis. Have you ever heard a prayer like this? “Lord, send in the sinners that they may hear the Gospel and be converted.” Ever hear a prayer like that? I used to have some deacons that would pray that way in, well, not just one church, a number of churches I served, I’ve heard folk pray that. Well, he never told us to pray that folk would send in sinners, he said we should pray that God would send forth laborers, “send forth laborers, into his harvest,” and God sends us out into the world, not into some cloister where we invite the casual, unwary pilgrim to come in and hear the Gospel.
You see the difference? So in that sense, when we’re talking about apostles, no, you’ll never be like the Apostle John, or the Apostle Peter, or the Apostle Paul. They’re special. But in another sense, you also can be among those whom God has sent with the Gospel throughout all of the world, beginning right where you are. Small thought here: Have you ever considered your present job your mission field? You know, that’s a very important concept. Once it gets hold of you, it will revolutionize your attitude, even toward routine. Some of you have jobs that are something less than inspiring; you may perform the same task, important though it be, many, many times a day, and routine, it gets boring. And some of you have jobs that require you to be under intense pressure during the day, people wanting something done right away.
You remember the printer who had the customer come in with a rush job. The printer looked at him and said, “Ah, well, I suppose you want this yesterday,” he said, “Oh, no.” He said, “If I’d wanted it yesterday, I would have brought it in yesterday.” [chuckle] You’re under pressure, you’ve got that kind of a job. Well, have you ever thought of your present position as your mission field? And mother, you’ve got a family of growing youngsters there around you, and you have to cope with the 3,943,000 things that every mother has to do without ever getting thanked for them. Have you ever thought of your work as the hub and the queen and the center of that home? Have you ever thought of that as your mission field?
See, it’s more than just going half a world away to proclaim the Gospel to somebody; it’s starting where you are. “You shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem,” said he, “and in all Judea,” that’s a step away, “and in Samaria,” that’s a second step, “and then unto the uttermost part of the world.” Look on your job today as God’s opportunity to give you a mission field where you can influence somebody for the Lord Jesus Christ. How do you do that? You don’t do it by going around quoting Scripture and being super holy; you do it by living a radiant Christian life under the strains and stresses that people know you have. People watch you, my brother, my sister. They watch you, and they watch to see at what point you’ll crack up or blow up. They watch to see whether you have the inner strength that God gives a person. They watch to see whether your faith in Jesus is real when you’re under tremendous pressure. These are the things that will help you work your mission field and be a real apostle.
Apostles, and then he said “some prophets.” Now, here again, you and I can never re-duplicate the work of an Isaiah, or a Jeremiah, or a Malachi, or a Zephaniah, or any of those other great prophets. We can’t re-duplicate that, but does that mean that there’s no meaning, then, for us here? Oh, no. A prophet is a person who speaks for God. The trademark, the verbal trademark, of the ancient prophets was that they said, “Thus saith the Lord.” “Thus saith the Lord,” that was their trademark, verbally, and you and I have the same privilege today in our culture of speaking from God so that when you open your mouth, people know that you’ve got something that is backed by divine authority and the inerrant Word of God, the Bible. “The Bible says” is a phrase that our brother Billy Graham used early on in his ministry, and still does, with great effect. He’ll be preaching away, and he’ll say, “The Bible says,” and then he would give you a passage corroborating the point that he’s making.
“The authority of the believer is rooted not in what you think, but in what God says, thus saith the Lord.” Isaiah 8:20 says, “To the law, to the testimony, for if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” Our Lord Jesus said, “Search the Scriptures; for in them, you think you have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me.” You remember the believers that are mentioned in the Book of Acts, the Berean believers? “These were more noble than they of Thessalonica, in that they searched the Scriptures daily; they received the word gladly and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
So, your authority is in the Word of God. And if you want, then, to have a prophetic ministry, it doesn’t mean you go around lecturing people all the time. They’ll stay away from you by the thousands, beloved, if you do that. The tendency to be didactic and lecture people will not win you any friends or hearers, and it won’t give you a good influence. No, it is simply this: That when you open your mouth to say anything, it is backed by your, number one, your experience with God; and number two, your knowledge of the Word of God.
Jesus, we love and adore Thee, thou precious Savior. Oh, may we honor Thee with our lives today in a prophetic ministry, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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