...of necessity on the things of God, but many times I have looked at lay Christians and wondered; could I have remained as faithful, as close to God as they, if I like they had continued to earn a living by secular work? And then one day I mentioned this to my wife. She just smiled. She said that the answer was demonstrated during the three and a half years after my conversion and before I was plunged full time into the ministry. Well you know, I had never stopped to think about that.
During those years I was still earning the family living by secular work. And when I reflected on those years, then I remembered that all my spare time my whole interest had been in the study of the Bible and the things of God and in prayer. It was the one real interest; yes the passion of my life. It was, by far, the biggest thing that had ever come into my life and it filled my life.
Of course, God was in those years preparing me for His ministry, as I know now. Of course I had time to take care of what business interests I had; I was diligent. I gave it the best that was in me. But the overpowering, overall interest over and far beyond that and that did absorb my spare time was the interest in the things of God.
So the answer to the question is an answer, my friends, that vitally concerns you. For I could not have remained a real and a true and a growing Christian, unless I had continued that overpowering interest; to let it completely absorb my life. That zeal for the things of God, which I had, I did have as a lay Christian. My friends, neither can you remain a Christian any other way. Neither can you ever enter into the glorious kingdom of God. Neither can you ever come to salvation. It isn't easy to be a real Christian. This world offers so many distracting and competing interests that it is so easy to permit ourselves to become overcome with worldly interests.
The Christian life, my friends, is a calling, it's a profession and it must be the one overpowering concern and interest in our lives. Right now many many of you are permitting a marvelous invention to be put to a wrong use television. Television in itself is a good thing. It can be put to a very wonderful use, but my friends, like everything else television can be put to a wrong use or an over-use.
You know, God's way is temperance in all things. And a lot of people are not very temperate when it comes to television. I was absolutely shocked when I learned that one of the great rating agencies has given the report that the average family in the average home spent five and one half hours every day sitting before a television set. Now that is entirely too much, my friends, when you are just being amused and entertained. I don't think, that in present programming, you can sit five and a half hours in front of a television set every day, thirty or thirty-one days a month, seven days a week, and see things that are really of vital educational value, that are helpful, that are going to help build your life and make you a better Christian. And I don't think you believe it either.
You know that there are so many shows on television these days that are crime and murder mystery, underworld, and love affairs. Very often like the movies. The movies have been quite largely devoted to illicit love affairs between already married persons; a man with some other man's wife, a woman with some other woman's husband. If you stop to look and see those things, and well, underworld murder; that type of thing has filled about ninety percent of it. Of course on television we get a lot of other kinds of shows, like for instance the panel shows. But as I think I mentioned once before, even after the thing is solved and the panel either they failed or they did get the answer, whatever it was, how much wiser are you? How much has it benefited you? How much closer has it brought you to God? What has it added to your character?
You know just passing time, my friends, time is going to be up pretty soon and your life will be over and whatever you have, you are not going to take with you; except one thing. And there is one thing that you can accumulate and acquire in this life that you will have forever and that is real righteous, holy, spiritual character. How much of that are you getting just whiling away the hours? You know it becomes a temptation.
Of course, if you are going to take things away from a little child, you have to give him something else to take the place of it and you will have to provide something else to take the place of it in your life.
A Life Calling But I tell you, my friends, these things are intervening and modern temptations are coming and they're taking our time and they're pulling our interest. When they do that, they're destroying you and they're going to destroy you for all eternity, if you don't wake up in time. I tell you, my friends it's about time that we wake up to the very purpose for which we were born.
This is a very unhappy world today and this world is unhappy because men don't know the way of peace; because they have lost their way. They have lost God's way.
If you are ever going to inherit the kingdom of God, if you are ever going to be born into the kingdom of God; in other words if you are going to really be saved, your Bible says "
work out your own salvation [in] fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). Your Bible says, "
let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (I Corinthians 10:12)
The Christian life must be one passionate, zealous, overpowering purpose of life. It must be the thing that your heart is in, that your interest is in. And if it is just a little side interest, you're never going to get through. It is a calling, it's a profession. It is something that you work at diligently; that you have your mind on, your heart in, your interest in! So you are admonished "to make your calling and election sure
" (II Peter 1:10). It is a life calling.
Now, my friends, what is the way? How are you going to prevent falling? "...let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12). How can you prevent falling? How can you grow in knowledge and in grace? How can you be sure that you have all of the joys of the Christian life? Let me tell you, my friends, you sit five and a half hours; and if the average family sat five and a half hours in front of a television set, you know a lot of those families only sat one or two hours a day in front of television. Now that means that a lot of other families were sitting there eight, ten, twelve hours a day!
Well you sit five and a half hours in front of a television just watching these shows and many of which just carry you off into a sort of a dreamy dream land of some kind and let your mind just wander wherever it takes it, how alert are you when it's over? Do you feel like going and studying your Bible? Are you in the mood of prayer? Do you feel like going into a private room and having a real heart-rending prayer with God? Do you feel like getting in touch with God and can the very joy and the great, well really joy and the happiness that comes with a real contact with God; are you in the mood for that when you've spent about five and a half hours in front of a television set looking at these shows? Looking at all the murders and all of the things that you see? You know that you are not.
Then what is that doing to your life? Listen, my friend, that's your life and you've just got the one. And you just have this one life to live. What are you doing with it? Are you whiling it away and wasting it?
Alright, what is the way? And I want to tell you I mean the way to the happiest, the most full, the most abundant life there can be. You put your whole heart and you put your zeal in the things of God and it will just simply make you happy to overflowing. It will fill your life with joy. It can become a full, abundant life.
Of course, as long as the Bible is just a dry dull book and like Bruce Barton said "the book that nobody knows", as it is to most people. Why, perhaps you're only bored with it. That's the way most people are with prayer. But without a lot of Bible study and a lot of prayer DAILY in your life, you're never going to be saved, my friends. The quicker you wake up to that the better. Read your Bible and see what it says.
Well, the way first is, and you must put this first because it is and I think I mentioned this in the preceding program. It is the least realized, it's the easiest neglected and yet it will keep you from the second; that's your part in God's work. God has given us something to do collectively. Collectively we are a church.
Now my friends, in what way is the church the body of Christ? You find in the New Testament that the church is the body of Christ. If you are a Christian, you are one member of that body. Now did you ever notice what we read about the church, about the body of Christ over here in I Corinthians the twelfth chapter? Now the fourth on to the sixth verses first. This is what it says about the church and that the church is all of the Christians. It isn't a group. It isn't an organized denomination or a group, a religious group organized by men.
That's not the true church. That's not the church Jesus built. The church that Jesus said He would build and did build is that spiritual organism that consists of ALL OF THOSE THAT REALLY HAVE AND ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD. And if you are a real Christian, if you have been really begotten of God and the Holy Spirit of God is in your mind and heart and you are being led by the Spirit of God then you are one of the members of the true church. I don't care whether you know another member anywhere or not. Well I mean it makes no difference. You are still a member, but I won't say I don't care, because that would be a pitiful condition.
I hope you do, I hope you know enough others that you can assemble with them regularly, but some people don't. Some people are isolated and stranded, yet they are members. And many of you listening to me, you are members of the true church of God and yet you don't know other members and you can't associate with them. Yes, I know you have a heart hunger for fellowship with others and you just have to deny yourself. That's one of the crosses you have to take. Nevertheless, you are a member IF YOU ARE IN CHRIST and you are a new creature. You're being made a new creation.
Collectively We Are The Church Well listen, here's the church; all of us put together now. Now there are diversities of gifts that God gives to those in His church, but the same spirit. If you are in the real church of God, my friends, you have the same spirit that God has given me. And that's why we sort of recognize one another. Our spirit witnesses with His spirit that we are the children of God.
You know there is something about those that are carnal-minded. And especially the religious carnal-minded. There are a lot of people that are religiously carnal-minded. They don't have the Spirit of God. They may talk about having been born again, but they don't even conceive of what it is, because they have natural minds that are enmity against God. And they hate the law of God and instead of having a spirit that witnesses with God and a spirit that is in harmony and love with those who have the Spirit of God. Oh, they hate anyone that has the Spirit of God and the commandments of God, is obedient to God and has given his heart and his whole life to God. It embitters them and it makes them vicious sometimes.
But if you are in the real church of God, my friends, you know what I mean. Jesus said His sheep hear His voice and they follow. And they know whether that voice; whether He is using another voice in His ministry, and speaking through another person, as He does through His true ministers; you will recognize the voice. Now it is all the same spirit. The same spirit that I have is the same spirit that is in you. It is the same mind of God. It is the same nature of God that has come into us to co-habit and co-dwell with our natures.
Now, verse 5; "there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord" (I Corinthians 12:5). We don't all do the same thing, but God has given His church something to do. But before I read the rest of this, I want to just explain to you again why the church is called the body of Christ. I've explained it before, but I want to refresh your memory if you have heard it before and many of you have not, so listen.
When Jesus Christ was on this earth, He did the work of God. He came here. When He was twelve years old He said "I must be about my Father's business" (Luke 2:49). He mentioned doing the work of God. Now Jesus said " ...of myself, I can do nothing the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10). HE WAS EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD WAS IN HIM. And of Himself, as a natural man, He could do nothing. But, He said the Spirit of God was in Him and it was the power of the Holy Spirit in Him; using Him as an instrumentality that did the work that He did.
Well now He said to His disciples, "...it is expedient for you that I go away
" (John 16:7). He was speaking of going to heaven after His resurrection, of course. For if He didn't go, He said, the other comforter, the Holy Spirit would not come to them. But He said if I go I will send the other comforter the Holy Spirit to you.
So, my friends, after He died He was resurrected. Three days and three nights after He was buried; and then He ascended forty days later, He ascended to heaven. And then in a very few days He sent the Holy Spirit. And the same spirit that had been in Him THAT HAD USED HIM AND HIS BODY AS THE INSTRUMENT OF DOING THE WORK OF GOD ON EARTH AT THAT TIME, NOW ENTERED THE COLLECTIVE BODY OF THE DIFFERENT INDIVIDUALS the different persons that were converted and were in the church. Or rather they weren't converted until the Spirit of God came into them, as a matter of fact. But who had repented, who had their faith in Christ, who had qualified by the conditions that God gives us. THE SPIRIT OF GOD ENTERED INTO THEIR MINDS INTO THEIR HEARTS AND NOW THEY BECAME THE COLLECTIVE BODY that was doing the same work of God; the work that Christ had been doing, that He had assigned to them to carry on after Him. In other words the work of God; they were now the body of Christ.
Church Doing The Work Of God THE BODY OF CHRIST IS THAT BODY, MY FRIENDS, WHICH IS DOING THE WORK OF GOD. Now Jesus assigned that work in His great commission to His church; and what was it? Why, He said, "go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to all [nations]" (Mark 16:15). "...teaching them to observe [all] things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19)
Now everywhere the prophecy of the church and what was foretold for it was apostasy, a falling away, turning to fables instead of the truth. Now Jesus had foretold that many would come as the ministers of Jesus Christ professing themselves to be His ministers; saying that Jesus was the Christ and yet that they would deceive the many.
He said there would be false Christs He also said that there would be false prophets that didn't call themselves Christ but did come and in the name of Christ; and you couldn't come in the name of Christ if you didn't say that Jesus was the Christ.
Now over here in II Corinthians 11, we find the devil mentioned here in verse 14. "...No marvel for Satan himself is [what?] transformed as an [into] angel of light" (II Corinthians 11:14). He pretends to be God, he palms himself off as a counterfeit god. He pretends to be an angel of light, although he is filled with darkness. "Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness..." (II Corinthians 11:15)
Now do they come and say "I'm a minister of Satan the devil"? Did you ever hear a man come to you and say "I'm a minister of the devil. Will you let me enter your home and talk to you"? Or, did you ever enter church and hear a man say "I'm the minister of Satan the devil and so I'm going to preach the devil's doctrine and gospel here today?" You never heard that, of course not; no the devil pretends to be God.
And "...it is no great thing [verse 15] if his ministers [then he has ministers, many] also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness..." (I Corinthians 11:15)
Now verse 13 says that "such are false apostles [there's your false prophets, your false apostles], deceitful workers [working with deception], transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ" (II Corinthians 11:13). ACTUALLY THEY ARE THE MINISTERS OF THE DEVIL, but they say, "I'm a minister of Jesus Christ."
Now you are told to try the spirits whether they be of God (I John 4:1). And the Bible tells you, if they speak not according to this word it's because there is no light and no truth in them (Isaiah 8:20). So I say, my friends, as the apostle Paul did; Listen like the Bereans did to him; without prejudice. You can't tell who the false prophets are just at first and who are the true ministers of Christ and which are the ministers of the devil.
So listen, it is right to listen to preaching. Don't follow any man. Don't say "this is the man I want to follow", but you open your Bible and do like the Bereans did and search the scriptures whether these things are so (Acts 17:10,11), and do it without prejudice. If you find the man is wrong, if you find the man is a hateful sort of a thing or something, don't get rankled up about it. Don't get bitter. You can have love for him, but still not have anything to do with him. And you can still have love. You are supposed to love your enemies, but you don't have to agree with your enemies. And neither should we follow the teachings or the ways of the devil.
Our Destiny Now, my friends, the church is that body and God has given it a job to do. And Christ assigned the commission "Go into the world" but He said that mostly people in the world would turn away from His truth. But Jesus did prophesy in Matthew 24 that just before the end of the age and His second coming, THAT THE SAME GOSPEL HE PREACHED, THE SAME MESSAGE HE PREACHED the gospel of the Kingdom of God, the government of God, the family of God the Kingdom of God. Is first; it's a government of God. Secondly it's the family of God or turn it around the other way and say first it's the family, if you wish, and secondly it's the government of God; because it is that divine family which is the ruling family, the creating, ruling family or kingdom. God is a kingdom that is what God is. And God is reproducing Himself.
And God is giving you the WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS DESTINY AND OPPORTUNITY OF BEING BORN as one of the persons in the very Kingdom of God.
"...Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, nor has entered into the heart of man, the things that God hath prepared for us." (I Corinthians 2:9 paraphrased). IT'S COMPLETELY BEYOND ANYTHING THAT YOU COULD POSSIBLY IMAGINE, my friends.
And it's a great profession and you are going to have to devote yourself to it, or you are never going to be one of the persons in the Kingdom of God. You shall never be saved. Very few people know what it is to be saved.
Now there is a job for the church to do. And God has given us that job for a purpose. And that is to keep us from the pitfalls of this world. Listen, now back to the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians:
"...there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit. There are diversities of administrations, but the same Lord." (I Corinthians 12:4-5)
We don't all have the same things to do. Now in the work, in the great commission as it is going to the world right now, God uses my voice in front of the radio. But my friends how far could I go alone? How far could I go without the thousands of you listening that are co-workers with me? And in this vast radio audience, a small portion of you which still is several thousand are co-workers with me.
Well I could go as far as I did before God opened the door of radio. I have preached in little country school houses and even though they only seated 36 people, we have had about 45 with people standing up. So I have preached to 30 or 45 people. And I have also preached in large tents and in large auditoriums; 2,000, 5,000, 10,000. How much can one man do alone?
Well alone and without very much help, I've gone out alone and single-handed gotten, perhaps a few hundred people to come; without much help from anybody or very many co-workers. But, even so, I couldn't carry on very long or pay the hall rent, unless I'd go out and earn the money myself.
But, my friends, when I speak now, I'm speaking to a great worldwide audience. There are people listening to us over in Malaya, in Singapore, in India, down in South Africa, in Alaska, out in the Hawaiian Islands, in China and Japan. And we receive mail and letters from listeners in those places. On the other side of the world for people to hear this truth of God, they are so heart hungry for it.
But, my friends, here's the thing. WHAT COULD I DO WITHOUT YOU CO-WORKERS? I can speak and here I am in this room and sometimes I'm in here all alone, nobody. But here is this microphone, a very superb microphone, it was made in Germany. It has come across from Germany, because we believe it is the best microphone that we could get. We want to make it just as sharp and clear and easy for you people that listen a thousand miles away from your radio station, some of you, as possible.
Well, who has purchased these things? Who purchases all this power? I don't, I don't have the money. My friends, without co-workers, without members of the church who have their heart in it, I COULD DO NOTHING. Collectively we are the body of Christ doing the WORK of Christ. And here before television, one dollar placed in this work carried the gospel to two thousand precious souls. Carried the literature that we send out; 'The Plain Truth' Magazine to a large portion of those. Carried on the work of the college, training ministers for the ministry, sent the literature out to thousands and thousands of people and carried all of the expense and still for every dollar we reached two thousand people.
Now we don't do that today since television, very frankly. We are still reaching a good many. My friends, every one of you has a part in God's work. And I want to tell you that the prayers, the heart rending, the earnest prayers of a lot of people that don't have much in the way of tithe money or anything to help in the work of God and yet they pray and they pray their hearts out, and you have no idea how much their prayers are doing. You have your part.
Now there are differences of administrations. You don't all do the same thing. But there is the same Lord. "...there are diversities of operations, but [it is] the same God which worketh all in all" (I Corinthians 12:6). The body of Christ God has given us a job to do, my friends, and that is for our good. He could have handled His work without you and without me, but He is doing it for our good. And it is necessary that we have our hearts in His work.
I tell you, my friends it is about time that we wake up to the very purpose for which we were born. We were put here to attain to the resurrection. We were put here to enter the very family of God. We were put here to be trained for positions of rulership, of judging, and of teaching until the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Eternal during the period when Christ comes in that happy World Tomorrow.
This is a very unhappy world today and this world is unhappy because men don't know the way of peace; because they have lost their way, they have lost God's way.