the test of being ignored
Part of a Sermon by Pastor John, February 18, 2012
If you do not have the Spirit, you don’t have any hope. It does not matter in the least how many ministers pat you on the head, tell you that you are saved, or say that you are one of the best members. Member of what? You’re not a member of the body of Christ without the holy Ghost. And every religious organization that is in the world is trying to make that message seem irrelevant to what’s really happening in your life.
What’s really happening is that everybody who repents really receives the holy Ghost! But neither men nor Satan want that message to be heard. That is why they devised their religious organizations – as an alternative to the truth. What’s really happening is that people are not repenting, and that is why they are not receiving the holy Ghost and being born again! That’s what’s really happening, and that’s not irrelevant – unless you trust what one of man’s religious institutions tells you. Everybody needs to know that Paul once said, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him.” And that does not mean that a person has the Spirit of Christ just because some minister told him that he had it. God alone tells you when you receive His Spirit. His Spirit bears witness that it has come into your heart because the Spirit is truth! Paul said, “because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’ ” That’s not irrelevant.
You mean if I haven’t spoken in tongues I’m not born again? Yes! If the holy Ghost hasn’t declared you to be a child of God, who else has authority to tell you that? I don’t. The Bible doesn’t. Angels don’t. Christian ministers don’t. Nobody but God has the authority to tell a person he or she is born again!
A Pentecostal Holiness minister, pretty well known in the Pentecostal Holiness faith, was talking to my Father one time about receiving the holy Ghost before being baptized with it. He was saying that a person receives the Spirit by portions, a little when he “gets saved”, a little more when he “gets sanctified”, and the rest when he receives the holy Ghost. My father said, “If that’s true, then the holy Ghost comes into a person tail first because he doesn’t speak until the end.” My father pointed out that “The scripture says, ‘God does not give the Spirit by measure.’” Still, the respected minister didn’t budge. He replied that in the process of being born again, that was how it happened. My friend, no one receives a third of the Spirit when he “gets saved”, and another third of it when he “gets sanctified”, and another third when he receives the holy Ghost baptism. A person either has the Spirit or he does not, and he does not have it until he is baptized with it and the Spirit speaks in tongues through him. That distinguished Pentecostal Holiness minister was trying to make my father feel irrelevant.
The Dean of the Graduate School of Theology at Oral Roberts University tried to make me feel irrelevant one evening as we sat together in his office, having a private conversation about the new birth. His position was that people always receive the Spirit before they’re baptized with it. I said, “Can you think of an example in the Bible of that? Where did anybody receive God’s Spirit before He baptized them with it?” He said, “Well, when Philip went up and preached to the Samaritans; it says they received the word of God, and then later on, Peter and John came up, and laid hands on them, and they received the holy Ghost.” Then I said, “The Bible says that ‘the holy Ghost had come upon none of them’. It says that Peter and John went and laid hands on them that ‘they might receive the holy Ghost, for as yet it had come upon none of them.’ ” His reply? “Well, the Bible just says it that way, but they really already had the Spirit.” That world-renowned minister was not just trying to make me irrelevant so that he could cling to his own doctrine; he was trying to make the Bible irrelevant! He was a celebrated leader among God’s people, but to me, he seemed very foolish. What he said did not change the Bible at all, and as far as the truth was concerned, both he and his doctrine were irrelevant.
May God save us from this world’s efforts to make us feel irrelevant and to make us think that the truth Christ gives is irrelevant. It is not irrelevant; it’s the saving gospel! But God’s people have thrown the true gospel behind them, just as God’s people did in the Old Testament. Yes, this has happened before, and through one of the prophets, God lamented, “Israel has rejected what is good!”
One of the great benefits of learning the Old Testament is that we can see that such a thing has happened before. The spiritual condition of God’s people really has been this bad before. God’s people really have been, as a whole, this far from the truth. It is not a new thing for there to be but a remnant of God’s people who understand and love the truth. In ancient Israel, matters grew so bad that when anyone dared to repent and walk according to the truth of the law, he became a target, a prey for cruel and proud people who belonged to God (Isa. 59:15). So it is today. Unbelievable as it may seem, it happened before, just as it is now, that truth itself perished from the minds of God’s people (Jer. 7:28). It is nothing new that entire generations of God’s people live in complete ignorance of the truth, or that the truth itself is irrelevant to what they think and say and do.
Nevertheless, the truth is precious, and relevant to our salvation! And you who know the truth are a chosen and blessed people! The truth of Jesus Christ is not irrelevant to any man’s soul; it will either damn or justify every person who ever lives. All people will be judged by the truth, and to understand the truth in this life, and to have it influence your conduct while you live is a gift from God! Value the truth, and do not be discouraged by what they think or say who are ignorant of it. Neither the truth nor those who live in it are irrelevant; the truth is the light of Jesus, and those who let it shine through them are shining beacons of love and hope in this very dark world.