Rev Dr Edgar Mayer – Living Grace Lutheran Church, Toowoomba – Date: 13 November 2016

For more sermons and other writings, please check the following homepage: www.livinggracetoowoomba.org

 

Bold Edge

 

Matthew 14:22-33: Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.  After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.  Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

 

The disciples were in a boat together, far from land, buffeted by the wind and waves, and it was still rather dark (just before dawn after a long night in the boat with the wind against them). Then, Jesus walked toward them on the lake. And they were terrified, crying out in fear, mistaking him for a ghost.

Welcome to church. Isn’t this our experience sometimes? As Jesus’ people, we stick together in church but sometimes it is a long night with the wind and the waves against us – people don’t want to hear about Jesus, even our own people are buffeted and compromised by the world and the lifestyle of the world, sickness and sin slow us down, and so on – and then Jesus finally comes – you could say rather late because the night is almost over – and when he comes, he comes in such an unexpected fashion, walking on water. Instead of rejoicing, we are unsure about him.

When Jesus brought revival to the Toronto Airport Church in 1994 and then it spread across the world, no one was ready for a laughing revival. Pentecostals, so we heard from Rolland Baker at the renewal conference, had wanted to become respectable to the other churches, but then Jesus made them laugh uncontrollably in church, and it caused massive offense among Christians everywhere (even at our own renewal conference people were being affronted) and disciples asked themselves nervous questions: “What is this? Can this possibly be God?”

No one expected Jesus to walk towards the disciples on water among strong winds. But it was him, and immediately he said to them: Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” In other words, recognize me and then don’t worry about anything else. Be it laughing or weeping over sins or shaking with the fear of God or falling under the power of the Holy Spirit or meeting Jesus in dreams and visions, or anything else that he chooses. (He may even come to the Lutheran Church of Australia and the wider church through Lutheran Renewal.) When he says: “It is I,” hear him also say: “Be bold. Take courage.” Where Jesus is, everything is fine. There is no fear.

Peter, one of the disciples, heard this. And I love his reaction. After many night hours in the boat, straining against the wind and the current, he jumped at the chance of moving from the back-foot to the front-foot. If Jesus walks on water, so can I. We have been at the mercy of the elements long enough. Now I step out of the boat, and walk on the water and current that are giving us so much trouble.

Audacious, crazy, risky but right on for someone who doesn’t want to get stuck in a slow boat. Life with Jesus is an adventure. And Peter did it right. He first asked Jesus whether he could come out of the boat and join him, walking on water. Did he? No – correction. Peter didn’t ask, but put a proposition to Jesus, because he wanted to do something that would prove to him that he was dealing with Jesus – Matthew 14:28: “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Either it was Jesus and he would walk on water, or he had nothing to live for and would sink. But something needed to happen. The voice said: “It is I. Take courage.” And Peter chose to be bold: “If it is you, Lord, command me to come.”

Jesus did, and on the basis of hearing this command (and promise) from Jesus, Peter climbed over the side of the boat, let his feet touch the water, and began walking. And he was walking on water.

I love Peter. “If it is you Jesus, let me do something that can only be done by faith in you. Let me out of the boat.” And Jesus saidyes”. When you read the Bible, you never get the feeling that Jesus tones down boldness or faith exuberance.

He responds to faith and the expectation of people who know that he is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mary, his human mother, did not seem to have the same kind of in-your-face boldness as Peter, but in her own motherly way (and wives can often do the same in marriage) she knew how to put something to her son. Women can pick their moments, and Mary was not any less bold than Peter.

She and Jesus were at a wedding where the hosts had been running out of wine which was an embarrassment to them. Mary had a quiet word with Jesus (alerting him to the crisis), even though up to then he had not performed any public miracles, and Jesus made it clear to her that this was not yet the time. In so many words, Jesus saidnoto her, and Mary did not argue with Jesus, but nevertheless (mums can be like that) expected him to do what she had asked of him. Boldly, she made preparations, and set up people to carry out Jesus’ instructions when they came.

Then, not much later, Jesus asked the servants to fill some huge containers with water and the water turned into wine – his first public miracle which saved the day at a wedding, brought glory to him, and had everything to do with the faith of Mary and her boldness.

 

John 2:1-12: On the third day, a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signsthrough which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

 

How are we hearing this? At the moment, we are praying for Oliver, Vicki Meagher’s grandson, who is almost three years old and ever since birth has suffered from seizures and one crisis after another. Why is God not healing him? And there are other prayer requests which do not seem to be answered, but the why-questions are the wrong questions. We don’t need to know (or otherwise God would explain himself to us more often).

At the wedding, they had become so anxious about the problem of supplies that even Mary, a guest at the wedding (and we can only guess how many more guests had become aware of the embarrassment and later knew about the miracle), knew that they were running out of wine. But, just in time or just before the crisis ended up in lasting shame for the hosts, water turned into wine, and it was good quality and abundant. And what we heard before: The disciples struggled all night in their boat, but – just before dawn – Peter walked on water. Why did Jesus let them struggle all night? Wrong question, because Jesus is not answering this one, but he came and said, “It is I. Take courage,” and he affirmed Peter’s boldness which took hold of him: “If it is you, Lord, command me to come.”

We have permission to be bold. Not even walking on water or turning water into wine were frivolous requests for Jesus. What purpose did Peter’s stroll on water serve? It’s cool but sensible people stay in the boat, don’t they? And why would Jesus worry about a country wedding when his mission was to save the world? We have permission to be bold. Mary even changed hisnointo ayes”. Jesus responds to faith which has a bold edge to it. We will not always understand everything, and life will not be painfree, but I think that we have seen enough glimpses of Jesus in our own lives to know about experiencing bold things.

Two weeks ago, our little church – together with others in Lutheran Renewal and Pentecostals – organized a Renewal Conference 2000 kms from here and more than 1000 people came, and we had something to say to the Lutheran Church of Australia. We shared our own songs. This kind of conference was a first in the history of the LCA and, now that it happened, I am amazed that we ever attempted such a thing. Yet, God came through. We were out of our depth, but he made uswalk on water”.

I give you a few more Bible verses to encourage you and make you aim high with boldness.

 

John 14:11-14: Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

 

John 15:7-8: If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

 

John 15:16: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

 

John 16:23-24: In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be complete.

 

Yonggi Cho said this about himself:

 

David Yonggi Cho: The Fourth Dimension (Volume I), Gainesville: Bridge-Logos Publishers 1979, p23: Many people come and ask me whether I have the gift of faith, or the gift of healing. But I’ve searched through my heart and so far, I have not found any gift in me. I believe that is because it is the Holy Spirit who has the gifts, all nine of them. He dwells within us, and within me. The Holy Spirit manifests Himself through me; I do not have any of the gifts, only the Holy Spirit, and I just obey Him, and believe in Him.

What kind of gift do I have? I will tell you the one gift I have—the gift of boldness. With this gift of boldness, we just launch out by faith; then the Holy Spirit is going to follow after us. The Bible does not say that a sign shall go ahead of you; the Bible says that a sign shall follow you. Abide by the law of incubation, and throughout your life watch as sign after sign follows your path of faith.

 

When I was reading his books, I recognized his boldness and wondered about it, and thought about Jesus allowing him to be so bold, before he even spelled it out. For instance, in the beginning, he had a life-changing experience when he prayed for a desk, a chair and a bicycle. He was dirt-poor and, at first, asked for a humble desk, chair and bicycle, but as soon as he had an idea that God was listening to his requests, his boldness rose and he asked for the best: a desk made with Philippine mahogany, a chair with rollers on the tips, and an American brand bicycle. And God did give him the best, and eventually the largest church in the world (exceeding 800,000 members).

 

David Yonggi Cho: The Fourth Dimension (Volume I), Gainesville: Bridge-Logos Publishers 1979, p2: I had been in the ministry for quite a few months, and was so poverty-stricken that, as far as material things are concerned, I had nothing. I was not married, and was living in one small room. I had no desk, no chair, and no bed and was eating on the floor, sleeping on the floor and studying on the floor, but walking miles and miles everyday to carry out soul winning…

So I said, “Father! Why should a child of the King of kings, and of the Lord of lords, live without a desk, chair and bed, and walk mile after mile everyday? At least I should have a humble desk and chair to sit on, and a humble bicycle to ride on to do my home visitation.” I felt that according to Scripture I could ask for these kinds of things from the Lord. I knelt down and prayed, “Father, now I am praying. Please send me a desk, chair and bicycle.” I believed and praised God.

David Yonggi Cho: The Fourth Dimension (Volume I), Gainesville: Bridge-Logos Publishers 1979, p4-5: So I gave the size of the desk, which was to be made of Philippine mahogany. I wanted the best kind of chair, one made with an iron frame, and with rollers on the tips, so that when I sat on it I could push myself around like a big shot. Then I came to the bicycle, and I really gave much consideration to the matter, because there were so many kinds of bicycles: Korean, Japanese, Formosan, German. But in those days bicycles made in Korea or Japan were usually quite flimsy. I wanted to have a very strong, sturdy bicycle; and since any machine made in the U.S. was the best, I said, “Father, I want to have a bicycle made in the U.S.A., with gears on the side so that I can even regulate speed.” I ordered these things in such articulate terms that God could not make a mistake in delivering them.

 

In the beginning, Yonggi Cho had the faith goal of gaining 150 church members in one year, and God answered him. In the next year, he asked for 150 more members, and God answered him again. The church total was now 300 members, and that’s when Yonggi Cho’s boldness kicked in again. He was done with small steps, and now believed for a ten-fold increase. His church would grow from 300 to 3000 members. No one was with him. His own girl-friend threatened to leave him if he did not stop with this nonsense, but Jesus thought that it was bold and that it was faith and that it matched the kind of Saviour he had, and – in four short years – gave him 3000 church members.

 

Yonggi Cho: Make Your Faith Work, Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications 1985, p45-46: [In 1958] I wrote down numbers and said, ‘Oh God, before the end of this year I want 150 members in my church. I know, you know, so I believe.’ Since faith is the substance of things hoped for, and I gave God the things, my faith had substance to work with and I could really believe. I could feel the tensions of faith in my heart. I believed and I claimed and I worked and, behold, at the end of that I have 150 saved.

When I had 150, I said, ‘Who want to spend the rest of his life with 150? Oh, God I did not know that I had the faith. Now I want to believe for a greater number.’

Because of my experience my faith had grown. (Through experience the sinew of your faith becomes stronger.) Then it was easier to believe for 300. I asked God for 150 more in the next year – beyond 300 I could not believe. At that time, I thought 300 would be my limit, so I said, ‘Oh, God, when I have 300 that will be the plateau for my church growth. I will be so happy!’

My faith rose up and began to work powerfully. By the end of the year I had the 300, and I asked again, ‘Who could be satisfied with 300?’ Through experience my faith began to grow. I could believe for 600!

Beyond that, with faith and the Holy Spirit, it was easy for me to believe for 3,000 members. So I stood up in church and declared, ‘Now, I believe for 3,000 members!’ My people laughed, for they thought I was becoming proud and arrogant after having 300. People said, ‘Now he’s imagining too much!’ Even my girlfriend came to me and said, ‘If you keep on saying you will have 3,000, I will leave you’.

    But I replied, ‘You don’t understand me.’

‘Of course I don’t understand you. How could you have 3,000 under this tent church? The largest church in Korea has 6,000 so how can you – green bean out of Bible College – get 3,000 quickly?’

‘Grace, believe in me. I have the faith.’

She cried, ‘People are calling you “old kook!”’

‘Whether people call me a kook or not, I believe. I have the faith that it can happen.’

No one can estimate the faith you have. Only the Spirit knows your limit. I believed for 3,000. That was in 1960, and by 1964, I had 3,000.

 

This morning, be encouraged. Dare to be bold. This is what the Holy Spirit does to people:

 

1 Samuel 10:22-24: So, they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?” And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.” They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

 

1 Samuel 11:1-11: Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead. And all the men of Jabesh said to him, “Make a treaty with us, and we will be subject to you.” But Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel.” The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue us, we will surrender to you.”

When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said.

When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.” Then the terror of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out together as one ...

The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions; during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.

 

Acts 4:29-31: “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

 

Okay, we embrace boldness (and look forward to the excitement), but I want to draw your attention to an important principle that separates boldness from foolishness. Unless Jesus commands us to walk on water, we stay in the boat. Peter was not going to move unless he heard the command from Jesus, and it is the same with us. By all means, aim high and dare to make a big request to God, but don’t move unless he says so.

How will you know when Jesus gives you the green light and makes you a promise which you can trust enough to step out and risk leaving the boat behind? Any bold action needs to be grounded in Jesus’ promise. How is he speaking to you?

I come back to Yonggi Cho’s story of receiving a desk, chair and bicycle. This is how assurance came to him:

 

Yonggi Cho: Make Your Faith Work, Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications 1985, p41-44: In 1958, I graduated from Bible College and went out to the suburban area of Seoul to start a church. I had a tremendous desire to build a big church, but my capacity for faith was very small. I could only believe for 150 people. With all the faith that I could mobilise in my heart, I could only think of 150. So I prayed over and over, ‘Lord, if I can have 150 members in my church, I will never complain to you about my black hair turning white. I’ll be satisfied eternally!’

I worked very hard. I went from house to house and preached with real fervency, but no one came to listen to me. In less than five months all my ministerial material had dried up. I’d used all my sermon topics. Then I became frantic! I borrowed old messages from Billy Graham ... those dried up also. I spoke all of Oral Roberts messages and those dried up also. After preaching for six months, I was quite sure I was not called into the ministry, because I had nothing left to preach!

I tried to create sermons from Genesis to Revelation but I couldn’t make one sermon. I began to believe I had not been called into the ministry. In less than one year I had packed up eight times to leave my ministry. I was preaching to the empty tent cathedral week after week, and I was depressed.

One day I was reading Scripture and became greatly encouraged in Mark 11:23 (RSV): “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.

I thought, ‘Oh, if I can command a mountain to be removed, then I think I can apply this faith in my practical life. At that time, I was going day after day without eating food because I had no support. (After the Korean War, I was absolutely poverty stricken.) I knelt down and said, ‘Lord, God, please supply my daily need. I need a table, a chair and bicycle to ride on. I need at least those things, and you are rich, God. According to my faith I am not going to remove mountains, but I want to bring a table, chair and bicycle into my life.’ And I believed.

I waited. I waited one month. Nothing happened. I thought, surely next month God will deliver. Nothing happened. I waited a third month, a fourth month, a fifth month. Still nothing happened. Finally, I was tired of waiting.

One evening, totally discouraged and crying, I prayed, ‘Lord, it is one thing to know the Word of God. It is entirely another thing to practise it. If l can’t receive an answer to prayer, how can I ask these poverty-stricken people to believe in you? I would be a hypocrite if I asked them to believe in you for their practical life.’ 

Then some tremendous sensation – tranquillity – came over me. Oh, the peace and joy! Outside I was crying, but inside I was rejoicing because of the presence of peace. Then a revelation came. Not in an audible voice: I just knew. And understanding was given and I felt enlightened. The Spirit seemed to say to my heart, ‘My son, I’ve heard your prayer and I’ve answered.’

But where were my chair, table and bicycle? Then the understanding came to me, ‘I’ve answered you tentatively, but still I am waiting for you to be more specific. Don’t you know there are dozens of kinds of tables, dozens of kinds of chairs, dozens of kinds of bicycles? You have asked for a table, chair and bicycle – what kind? I am waiting until you become specific. Until then ... I can’t answer you.’

 

[Paul Yonggi Cho: Successful Home Cell Groups, New Jersey: Logos International, 1981, p163-167: At that time the greatest necessities in my life were a table, a chair and a bicycle. So, I knelt down and asked God to give me those three things, and I really prayed with great faith. Then I waited for God to supply them. Day after day, month after month, I waited, expecting. But nothing happened.

Eventually, completely frustrated, discouraged and despondent, I cried out to the Lord. Then God began to speak to me. It was the first time God ever spoke to me that I was certain I heard Him. I still do not know whether it was in an audible voice or by an impression in my spirit.

I know I saw a bright light, and I did receive the message.

God said, “My son, don’t cry. I have heard your prayer, and I have given you a table, a chair and a bicycle.”

So, I said, “Father, you’re kidding me. I don’t have a table, a chair or a bicycle, although I have been expecting them day after day.”

“Yes,” God said, “I have given them to you potentially. But you have been asking them of me in such vague terms that I cannot fulfill your request. Don’t you know there are a dozen kinds of tables, a dozen kinds of chairs and a dozen kinds of bicycles? Which ones do you want? Be very clear. I have so much trouble with my children, because they keep asking me and asking me and asking me, yet they themselves do not know what kind of thing they want. Make your request very specific, and then I’ll answer.”

So, I said, “Father, prove that to me by the Scriptures.”

Then the Spirit told me to open the Bible to Hebrews 11, and I did, beginning to read from the first verse: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for . . .”

Immediately my eyes fell on the word things. Then the Spirit said to me, “Without having a clear-cut goal of the ‘things,’ or a clear-cut vision of the objects, how can you hope? How do you have faith?”

Then Scripture after Scripture began to flow into my mind, all telling me I should always have a clear-cut goal. For instance, when Jesus was on the road to Jericho, He was approached by a blind man, Bartimaeus. Now Jesus and everybody else knew what Bartimaeus wanted—to be healed of his blindness. But Jesus clearly asked the question, “‘What do you want me to do for you?’ And the blind man said to Him, ‘Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!’

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well’” (Mark 10:51-52, NASB).

Time and again I saw in Scripture that Jesus asked specific questions, expecting goal-oriented answers. And throughout Scripture God did miracles in response to clear-cut requests with specific goals in mind.

So, I began to make a specific request in my prayer, describing the size and type of table I wanted, made of Philippine mahogany, with an iron-frame chair on casters that would enable me to roll around. Then I asked for an American-made bicycle with a gearshift on the side. I went into specific detail in my request.

And I believed! In a few months, I received all of those things exactly as I had requested. That caused a tremendous truth to dawn upon me. I realized I had prayed daily for revival, but still I had an empty church. Yet I had asked for a table, a chair and a bicycle, and I got exactly what I had asked for. Could God be more concerned about a table, chair and bicycle than about the salvation of souls?

I realized I had had a wrong attitude about building the church, just as I had had a wrong attitude about prayer. I had asked God for blessings, expecting Him to shower them down upon me, but the blessings had not come because I had not been specific in my requests until I asked for that table, chair and bicycle. Then I learned that God would answer my prayers only through my own dreams, visions and faith.

I knew God was within me by the Holy Spirit, which meant He was not going to bring the answers to me from beyond me, but those answers were going to bubble up from within me.

Today I know that the capacity for God’s answer depends on the size of the pipe in which we give Him the opportunity to work. If the size of my pipe is small, the blessings are only going to trickle down; but if through faith I have increased the size of that pipe, the blessings will pour down…]

 

I said, ‘Prove that by the Bible. Is this a revelation from you? Show me in the Bible.’

Then the revelation came to me. In Hebrews 11, I read verse one. [Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”] Up until that time I’d never seen that in Hebrews. The Spirit made me rivet on the word ‘things’. Faith is the substance of things. I couldn’t read any longer.’ The Spirit said, ‘Look at the word “things”. If you have definite things, you are going to have definite faith. You have very vague things right now, so God cannot supply. Suppose you go to a department store and ask the owner, “Please give me something.” Would you receive anything? If you insisted, they would send you to the lunatic asylum. If you are specific when you want to buy something from a department store, then even more, you should be specific when practising your faith in my presence.’

That was a life-changing experience! I said ‘Father, no one taught me in the Bible to pray along that line, but now I understand. I am sorry that I misunderstood you. I officially cancel all my past prayers. I would like to start again.’

I knelt clown and prayed, ‘God, I want to have a table (and I told him the size) made of Philippine mahogany, and I want to have a chair with an iron frame that rolls around so I can push it around like a big shot. Then I want to have a bicycle made in the USA. Father, now I’ve made all these things so clear that you can’t make any mistakes on those articles, and I’m waiting.’

I was excited because those things were so clear to me then! Up until that time I had been vague. But since I made my order so clear to the Lord that I could see them in my imagination, I was sure that God was going to give me those things: I was praising God and, sure enough, in a few months, one by one, those things came into my possession – the table of Philippine mahogany, the chair with the iron frame and rollers ... then the bicycle made in the USA (and slightly used by a missionary child) were all supplied to me.’

 

I want you to notice especially the following:

 

I was preaching to the empty tent cathedral week after week, and I was depressed.

One day I was reading Scripture and became greatly encouraged in Mark 11:23 (RSV): “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.

I thought, ‘Oh, if I can command a mountain to be removed, then I think I can apply this faith in my practical life. At that time, I was going day after day without eating food because I had no support. (After the Korean War, I was absolutely poverty stricken.) I knelt down and said, ‘Lord, God, please supply my daily need. I need a table, a chair and bicycle to ride on. I need at least those things, and you are rich, God. According to my faith I am not going to remove mountains, but I want to bring a table, chair and bicycle into my life.’ And I believed.

I waited. I waited one month. Nothing happened. I thought, surely next month God will deliver. Nothing happened. I waited a third month, a fourth month, a fifth month. Still nothing happened. Finally, I was tired of waiting.

One evening, totally discouraged and crying, I prayed, ‘Lord, it is one thing to know the Word of God. It is entirely another thing to practise it. If l can’t receive an answer to prayer, how can I ask these poverty-stricken people to believe in you? I would be a hypocrite if I asked them to believe in you for their practical life.’ 

Then some tremendous sensation – tranquillity – came over me. Oh, the peace and joy! Outside I was crying, but inside I was rejoicing because of the presence of peace. Then a revelation came. Not in an audible voice: I just knew. And understanding was given and I felt enlightened. The Spirit seemed to say to my heart, ‘My son, I’ve heard your prayer and I’ve answered.’

 

Encouragement came through reading the Bible and latching on to a particular verse that spoke to him – Mark 11:23: Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.God speaks through the Bible and we can wrestle with God – begin to exercise faith – on the basis of what he said in the Bible.

Then, Yonggi Cho experienced in himself breakthrough – an affirmation that his request was granted – and it came in the form of the sensation of tranquility – tremendous peace and joy – which are a mark of the Holy Spirit:

 

Romans 14:17: For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

 

Philippians 4:7: And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Colossians 3:15: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

 

John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

 

James 3:13-18: Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

 

Sometimes the feeling is strong (and it can come with all sort of prophetic signs such as we had before our first Jesus Tent) and at other times it is the still small voice of the Spirit. But assurance comes through a prompting by God and is usually marked by a sense of peace and joy, and by this sense of knowing that God has granted our request. And this is the gift faith.

Yonggi Cho tells another story where he broke through into faith:

 

David Yonggi Cho: The Fourth Dimension (Volume I), Gainesville: Bridge-Logos Publishers 1979, p16-17: When we needed five million dollars to build the church already contracted, I had a clear-cut vision, a clear-cut goal, and a burning desire to build this church which would seat 10,000 people. But my heart was full of fear. I was shaky, fearful, and I had no assurance. I was like a frightened rabbit, and that five million dollars looked like Mount Everest. To rich foreigners a million dollars may mean relatively little; but to Koreans a million dollars means a great deal of money. So I began to pray like a person dying. I said, “Lord, now they’ve started working. But still I have no assurance. I don’t know where we can get all this money.”

I began travailing. A month passed, and still I had no peace and no assurance. A second month passed and I was praying into the middle of the nights. I would roll out of the bed and go to the corner and cry, sobbing my heart out. My wife thought that I was losing my mind, but I was mentally blinded. I would just stand, without thinking, worrying about the five million dollars. 

After I prayed incessantly like that for three months, one morning my wife called, “Honey, breakfast is ready.” As I was walking out of my study, just about to sit in the chair, suddenly the heavens opened up and the tremendous blessings of the Lord poured into my heart! And this great title deed, the substance and the assurance, were imparted into my soul. Suddenly I jumped out of my chair like a shot and I began to shout, “I’ve got it, I’ve got it, oh, I’ve got it!” 

My wife rushed out of the kitchen and when I looked at her I saw that her face was absolutely pale. She was frightened, and taking me, said, “Honey, what’s happened to you? Are you all right? Sit down.” 

“I’ve got it!” I, replied. 

“What do you have?” 

“I have five million dollars,” I strongly asserted. 

Then she said, “You are really crazy now. Really crazy.” 

“But Honey, I’ve got all these five million dollars inside of me. They’re growing now! Oh, inside me it’s growing!!” Suddenly those five million dollars had turned into a small pebble on my palm. I prayed with assurance. My faith reached out, and I grabbed hold that five million dollars; it was mine. 
I got the substance, and once you have the substance—the title deed, the legal paper—whether you see those things or not, legally those things are bound to come to you because legally those things belong to you. So, pray through until you have this assurance

 

Yonggi Cho became clear about the vision, prayed with real desire, and did not stop until God imparted into his heart divine assurance that his prayers had been heard and answered. Then he was no longer lacking peace but had faith.

There is nothing mechanic about the Christian life. There is no shortcut to hearing God for yourself.

 

David Yonggi Cho: The Fourth Dimension (Volume I), Gainesville: Bridge-Logos Publishers 1979, p75-77: Two years ago, two Bible school graduates failed completely in their first venture into the ministry. These two fellows had been disciples of mine. They listened to my lectures, they came to my church and learned in concept the principles of faith.

They began their first venture into the ministry with what seemed to be a great deal of faith, clinging to such scriptures as: “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10); “If ye ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

They went to a bank and made a large loan. Then they went to a rich man and made another large loan. With this money they bought land and built a beautiful sanctuary—without even having a congregation. They began preaching, expecting the people to flock in by the hundreds, and their debts to be paid; but nothing like that happened. 

One of these young ministers had borrowed approximately $30,000, the other about $50,000. Soon their creditors came to collect their payments, and these young men were cornered in a terrible situation, arriving at a point where they were near to losing their faith in God. 

Then they both came to me. They cried, “Pastor Cho, why is your God and our God different? You started with $2,500, and now you have completed a five-million-dollar project. We went out and built things which cost only a total of $80,000. Why wouldn’t God answer us? We believed in the same God, and we exercised the same faith. So why hasn’t He answered?” 

Then they started quoting scriptures containing promises from the Old Testament and New Testament, adding, “We did exactly as you taught and we failed.” 

Then I replied, “I am glad that you have failed after hearing my word. Surely you are my disciples, but you have not been the disciples of Jesus Christ. You misunderstood my teachings. I started my church because of rhema, not just logos. God clearly spoke to my heart, saying, “Rise up, go out and build a church which will seat 10,000 people. God imparted His faith to my heart, and I went out and a miracle occurred. But you went out just with logos, a general knowledge about God and His faith. God therefore has no responsibility to support you, even though your ministry was for the Lord Jesus Christ.” 
Brothers and sisters, through logos you can know God. You can gain understanding and knowledge about Him. But logos does not always become rhema. 

Suppose a sick man were to have gone to the pool of Bethesda and said to those around it, “You foolish fellows, why are you waiting here? This is always the same pool in the same location with the same water. Why should you wait here day after day? I’m just going to jump in and wash myself.” 
Then he might have dived in and washed himself. But if he were to come out of the water, he would not have been healed. It was only after the angel of the Lord came and troubled the water that the people could jump in, wash, and be healed. Yet it was still the same pool of Bethesda, at the same location, with the same water. Only when the water was troubled by God’s angel could a miracle occur. 

Rhema is produced out of logos. Logos is like the pool of Bethesda. You may listen to the Word of God and you may study the Bible, but only when the Holy Spirit comes and quickens a scripture or scriptures to your heart, burning them in your soul and letting you know that they apply directly to your specific situation, does logos become rhema.

 

I am not sure about the language ofrhemawords andlogoswords, but I agree that you cannot just copy someone else’s ministry or walk with God, and quote Scripture verses randomly. You need to hear from God what he is saying to you in this current season and situation. Yonggi Cho learned this himself the hard way:

 

Paul Yonggi Cho: Successful Home Cell Groups, New Jersey: Logos International, 1981, p4-47: By 1964 we were behind schedule, compared with my request to God for 3,000 members. Our congregation had grown to 2,400, but I was already in big trouble. I still thought I was really accomplishing great things for the Lord, rushing around from early morning until late in the evening, but my nerves were beginning to wear out. I suffered from constant fatigue, yet I continued to force myself to keep the church moving. I preached, I counseled, I visited the sick, I knocked on doors—I was always on the move.

The crisis came one Sunday following the second morning service. We were scheduled to baptize 300 people. (According to our custom, we held believers’ baptism only twice a year.) Dr. John Hurston, an American missionary who was helping me to pastor the church, was there to assist me. However, because of the attitude I had developed, believing I had to do everything myself, I had told John I would baptize each new member personally. Considering myself a “specially chosen vessel of God,” I thought God could bless these people only through me.

But John saw that I was already tired, as I went down into the water to receive the first member. “Cho, you’d better let me give you a hand,” he said.

“No, no, I’m all right,” I protested.

But I did not even dare think about the huge crowd of people waiting to be baptized. I took them one at a time, calling out, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” as I lowered them into the water. Then, of course, I had to lift them out again.

I managed quite well with the first few people, but then came some ladies who were a little plump, and it really took a lot of effort for me to support them and lift them back out of the water. It was not long until I really began to feel the exhaustion, and I could feel the muscles in my arms begin to tremble.

At that point John Hurston said, “Cho, you look a little pale. Are you all right?”

“I’m okay,” I said, nodding vigorously to emphasize my determination.

“No, I think you need to rest for a while,” he persisted. “Come on out of the water and let me take over until you get your strength back.”

“I told you I’m all right,” I said firmly.

He nodded doubtfully. I knew he wasn’t convinced. In my mind I asked the Lord to strengthen me.

To this day I don’t know whether He actually did or whether I simply forced myself to stay on my feet through sheer willpower, but I held up through all 300 baptisms. By the time the last person left the water, I was dizzy and almost delirious.

Exhausted as I was, my work was not over. That afternoon I was scheduled to meet a visiting evangelist from the United States, and that evening I would be his interpreter.

Again, John was concerned for my health, and he said to me, “You look so tired. Please rest this afternoon, and I’ll go to the airport.”

I shook my head. “He’s expecting me,” I said. I did not want to give up even one of my responsibilities as pastor.

So, without even eating lunch, I drove out to the airport, greeted the evangelist and drove him to his hotel. All the while my legs were quivering whenever I stood up. Then I managed a short rest before I had to pick him up and drive him to the church.

At the beginning of the evening service some of the deacons joined John Hurston in expressing concern for my health. “Pastor Cho,” one of them said, “you look so haggard. You cannot possibly interpret tonight. Let me go and find another interpreter.”

But, I thought, who could interpret this man’s message instead of me? God’s power was flowing through me, and I was the only one who could interpret properly.

“No, I will be all right,” I assured them.

So, the evangelist began to speak, and right away I knew I was in trouble. He was a typical fiery Pentecostal preacher, and he began to jump around and shout so much that, as an interpreter, I had a difficult time following him. He had the anointing, and I did not.

To compensate for my own lack of anointing, I began to try to put a little more expressiveness into my voice, and it was not long until I was shouting out the interpretation to every sentence. The evangelist glanced at me out of the corner of his eye, and then he, too, began to shriek and shout. Soon we were both shrieking and shouting, and jumping all around the podium.

By the time we were about a half hour into his message, I began to feel terrible cramps around my heart. I couldn’t breathe. My knees were trembling. Finally, my body could take no more and, against every effort of my will, I simply began to sag. Although I could still hear the evangelist shouting as my knees began to collapse, it seemed as though my eyes had suddenly been switched off. Everything went black.

As I was going down, I remember saying to God, “Lord, why are you punishing me publicly? You could have done this to me privately, in my office.”

My eyes cleared as I lay there, and I looked up at John and said, “John, I’m dying.” My heart seemed to be trembling, and I struggled for breath—my whole system seemed to be crying out for oxygen. Finally, I lost consciousness.

Meanwhile, the congregation was praying for me, but the visiting evangelist was left standing there at the podium, momentarily forgotten. Embarrassed, he simply looked on helplessly. There was nothing he could do; he had lost his mouthpiece.

When I regained consciousness, I struggled to my feet and feebly made my way back to the podium. The only thing I knew to do was dismiss the service, and I did. Then the deacons carried me out to an ambulance, and I was taken to the hospital.

In the emergency room, I felt humiliated. I was the pastor who prayed for the sick, and the sick became well. What was I doing here? My ego simply could not accept it. I began to claim my healing; that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. I expected the Lord to perform a miracle and send me home from the hospital.

“Take me out of this hospital,” I cried. “I’m trusting the Word of God! By His stripes I am healed! I won’t accept any injection. Don’t give me any medicine.”

The doctors finally gave up and the deacons drove me home.

But God was not ready to heal me. I continued to claim all the promises for healing in the Bible. If anybody ever claimed the Word of God, I did. I was a bachelor at the time, and I would sit up in my bed in my apartment and claim all of the Scriptures I could find concerning healing. I kept quoting them and quoting them, saying, “God, this is your promise. You cannot deny yourself! I claim it! In the name of Jesus, I’m healed!”

But I got no better. My heart continued to feel cramped, and I struggled to breathe. There were several doctors among the deacons of our church, and they offered to help, but I refused. “I’m standing on the Word of God,” I said.

As I look back on that now, I realize I had only head faith at that time, not heart faith. Head faith cannot claim anything. I was claiming only the logos, which is the general Word of God. I have since learned that it is only when the Holy Spirit gives specific confirmation (rhema, the revealed Word of God to an individual) that we can claim any of those promises as our own. Then our faith becomes heart faith, and with that kind of faith we can move mountains.

I didn’t know that then, so I just kept on claiming those promises, using head faith. I tried to ignore the symptoms. Never mind the fact that I couldn’t even get out of bed. I tried to ignore the presence of death I sensed in my room. I would not give up.

The following Sunday I asked the deacons to take me to the church so that I could preach. I was so weak I couldn’t leave the house for fear of fainting, and I needed a housekeeper to take care of me, but I still insisted on carrying out my responsibilities as pastor of the church. (In my absence, Dr. John Hurston and the woman who was to become my mother-in-law, the Rev. Jashil Choi, were carrying out many of the pastoral duties.)

After the deacons helped me to the podium, I stood in front of the anxious congregation. My body trembled all over. I began to preach in a very weak voice, speaking slowly and halting after every few sentences. I lasted for only eight minutes. Then I fainted.

The deacons took me to my office, and, when I awoke, I began to claim the promises of God again: “By His stripes I am healed … He took my infirmities and carried away my sickness. . .”

I tried to exercise blind faith, yet in my heart I had no confirmation from the Holy Spirit that I was going to be healed.

“Take me up to the second service,” I told the deacons. “I am going to depend upon the Lord to give me strength.”

At the second service, I stood weakly at the podium and prayed, “Lord, now I am exercising faith, standing on your Word. Strengthen me.”

This time I was able to preach for only five minutes before I fainted. Later, after the deacons took me home, I felt certain at last that I really was dying.

But then something happened within me. God seemed to be trying to reach me, telling me I couldn’t just go on claiming all those promises blindly. I had never asked Him what His will was in my situation. In fact, until then I had never considered the possibility that God might choose not to heal me.

“Father,” I said, “you gave all of these promises to us. But I claim them and you don’t heal me. Aren’t you going to heal me?”

Then I was startled by the very distinct voice of God: “Son, I am going to heal you, but the healing is going to take ten years.”

It had not been an audible voice, but it was so clear that I knew I had not been mistaken. I was shaken. It was as though God had passed sentence on me, and yet there was a kind of peace in my trembling heart. I wanted to argue, but I knew I could not argue with God.

For the next ten years, from 1964 to 1974, I felt as though I were dying at every moment. It has become clear to me that an arrogant man pays a very high price—a hardened heart is very hard to break. I had wanted to be broken in an instant; instead it took ten years to destroy “the Great Cho,” as I had come to consider myself.

It is difficult to describe the suffering I endured. Each morning when I woke up I would immediately feel my heart palpitating. There was a burning feeling of death that would begin to creep up from my toes, and I would say to myself, “Oh, I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it today.” But then I would think of God’s promise to heal me, and I knew I was not going to die that day. So I would get out of bed, perspiring and dizzy and gasping for air, and take the medicine I now knew I needed.

My dream of having the largest church in Korea flashed before my eyes. How could I ever reach such a goal, I wondered, when I couldn’t even pastor a church of 2,400 members?

But God said He was going to heal me, so I was not ready to give up.

 

Yonggi Cho had faith for his healing and it was an aggressive kind of faith, but it was based on general assumptions rather than hearing from God specifically and gaining assurance in his heart. God had not given any confirmation through the Holy Spirit:

 

But God was not ready to heal me. I continued to claim all the promises for healing in the Bible. If anybody ever claimed the Word of God, I did. I was a bachelor at the time, and I would sit up in my bed in my apartment and claim all of the Scriptures I could find concerning healing. I kept quoting them and quoting them, saying, “God, this is your promise. You cannot deny yourself! I claim it! In the name of Jesus, I’m healed!”

But I got no better. My heart continued to feel cramped, and I struggled to breathe. There were several doctors among the deacons of our church, and they offered to help, but I refused. “I’m standing on the Word of God,” I said.

As I look back on that now, I realize I had only head faith at that time, not heart faith. Head faith cannot claim anything. I was claiming only the logos, which is the general Word of God. I have since learned that it is only when the Holy Spirit gives specific confirmation (rhema, the revealed Word of God to an individual) that we can claim any of those promises as our own. Then our faith becomes heart faith, and with that kind of faith we can move mountains.

 

Is this getting complicated? Maybe a little. It is probably the greatest task of us Christians to listen to what God is saying, to discern his will, and then do what he is saying. Another Christian leader shares how they operate in their ministry, and the process is simple and practical, and absolutely spot on:

 

Norman Grubb: Touching the Invisible, Chapter 4, How to Obtain Guidance: From what has already been said concerning the way of faith, the question will certainly have arisen in the mind: But how can I know God’s will? Indeed, there is hardly any question that is more frequently asked than this. The reason is obvious from what has gone before. Until we know God’s voice and how to hear Him speaking, we are conscious of instability in our Christian service. In multitudes of cases our difficulty is not unwillingness to go here, do this, or say that, but uncertainty as to whether God is telling us so to act. The lack in our prayer life is not so much lack of zeal, or failure to ask, but lack of faith and assurance in asking, derived from uncertainty as to God’s will. ‘We know not what to pray for as we ought.’

Now the opposite is manifest in the Scriptures. The keynote to every great life there described is that they merely did what God told them to do. ‘The Lord said unto Moses.’ Paul ‘heard a voice saying unto him’. And supremely, Christ said, ‘The words that I speak I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works’.

Now this last saying of Christ is of great importance, for it does away with an idea I mistakenly held for some years, which is also held by many others. I used to say, ‘If only God would speak to me in an audible voice or vision, as to the men of the Bible, I would know how to act’. But Christ here says that He was guided by an INDWELLING VOICE, not an external appearance; and I discovered that in the great majority of instances in Bible history the same is true, for we have no right to imagine an audible voice or visible appearance, unless it is distinctly stated to be such.

This important fact brings guidance within my reach and that of all believers. Visions and voices are extremely rare, indeed unknown in the experience of the writer, though we have no right to limit God in His manner of revelation; but communion with an indwelling Person is the privilege of all, and the unceasing experience of some.

Another point to be noted is that guidance is the direct communication of the Spirit with our spirits and is not to be confused with the Scriptures. God’s written word is the general guide to His people. The Bible is the inspired and infallible revelation of the principles of Christian living, and any individual guidance which does not conform to it is from a false source. Also in some cases a sentence of Scripture may be the medium by which the Spirit speaks to us. Even then the point that makes it guidance to me is its application BY THE SPIRIT to a given situation; its leaping, as it were, out of the book into my heart. THE SPIRIT gives the guidance. It is always in conformity with the Scriptures, and may be in the words of Scripture, but it is the indwelling Spirit who guides. Romans 8:16 gives us the primary instance of spiritual communion in every believer’s life, the Spirit bearing witness with our spirit. Guidance as to the details of living is only an extension of the inner speaking and hearing then established through the blood of reconciliation and recognition of the indwelling Spirit.

Realising, then, that guidance is to be obtained from an indwelling Person, the Holy Spirit, and is the privilege of all believers, we will examine the manner of obtaining it. The best known to the writer and practised continually in our daily Headquarters meetings when dealing with our Crusade problems is as follows: First, we make as sure as possible that we approach the subject upon which we desire light as God’s servants seeking the fulfilment of His will in His way; this, of course, should not and does not take long, for it is the normal attitude of Christ-indwelt lives. We examine ourselves to make as certain as we can that our objective is His glory, and that we are ready to do all that He may say.

Then we recognise and utilise the mind in its rightful position. It is at this point that there is most confusion in the matter of guidance. Some put too much emphasis on the human reason, ‘common sense’, confusing it with the Lord’s voice; others too little, turning from it as from a carnal thing and attempting to find guidance with an emptied mind. The truth is that the human reason is a pre-eminently useful servant, but was never created to be the final arbiter of truth in the human personality. The exaltation of the human reason to the throne of authority in life is the sin of ‘the wise of this world’.

The reason is the great sorting house, but not the sorter. Its function is to investigate, tabulate, theorise, memorise, but not to direct. That is the function of the Spirit in the regenerated life. Sanctified reason remains the noble endowment by which man can contemplate and expound the heights and depths of the divine mysteries; but direction leading to decision is to be found in the renewed spirit, the dwelling place and throne room of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the man who knew guidance more perfectly than any other in Bible days, Moses, makes the clear distinction, when he said concerning the source of his authoritative declarations, ‘Hereby ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of my own mind’. His reasoning and expository faculties were the instrument for the reception and declaration of God’s revelations. The reason is to be used to the full, but not abused: it is to be the instrument of guidance, but not the guide.

Consonant with this, we thoughtfully examine our situation, know all that we can about it, let the Scripture throw any light upon it, but then we refuse by such reasonings and investigations to make the decision. That must come from the Inner Witness.

So, in order to know His voice, we now change our tactics. We have been occupied in thinking over our problem, but now we deliberately cease to think about it. When God speaks, He always speaks in stillness. While our hearts are disturbed and our minds busy on a situation, His voice can not be heard. Our inward attitude must be like a pool of water. If disturbed, no reflection can be seen in it. When still, the features can be seen. So, the best thing we can do, having stored our mind with the facts, is to leave them with God. It is not a state of forgetfulness, but a redirection of our attention. We were concentrated on the problem; now we concentrate on Him, the Solver.

We do not attempt to strain for an answer, nor to make one up. We remain like little children, free from concern, free from urge, but refusing to act until we know. We maintain that we have a right to know, for by His grace we are His servants and the one thing to which a servant has a right is orders.

Then the conviction comes. It does not matter how it comes, so long as it comes. Often circumstances arrange themselves so as to make a certain course obvious – this is a very usual method. Sometimes a verse of Scripture or a strong inner assurance is the way. But the point is that whatever means the Spirit uses, He communicates to our spirits, through a mind stored with the facts, a solid certainty that thus and thus is God’s way. That is the peace of God sitting as a referee (Colossians 3:15), and declaring God’s verdict on the situation. When we know that, then we can act, declare, believe, in full assurance of faith; for we go out, not to gain a victory or find a way, but to gather the spoils of a victory already won, or to reach a goal with the map of directions already in our hands.

 

You can live your life following this process: 1) First, check your attitude whether you are willing to be obedient to what God is saying. 2) Second, use your mind to investigate, tabulate, theorise, memorise, but not to direct. Know all that you can about your situation, and let the Scripture throw any light upon it that you can find, 3) but then wait for the Inner Witness through the Holy Spirit. Still your mind and let the Holy Spirit bring conviction to you (through a set of circumstances, a Scripture verse or a strong inner sense of assurance, and his peace). 4) Go out to gather the spoils of victory shown to you in prayer.

This process or method may sound very much like a down-to-earth approach. You can do it as a church board or business board, and it can be slow and careful (and I know that this has its place), but I want to encourage you that no process is to rob us of boldness. Always be ready to think big, dream big, talk to Jesus about big desires. Sometimes we can counsel ourselves to be sensible, and by this we mean to tone it down a little and stay within reason (human reason), but Jesus is the Son of God, the creator of the universe, the redeemer of mankind, the victor over sin, death and the devil, and when he is with us, it is sensible to ask for the impossible. Peter walked on water, and Mary had Jesus change water into wine.

I close with the boldest testimony that I know:

 

(Report One of Four, http://www.heavensfamily.org/ss/resur­rection-from-the-dead-pastor-daniel-ekechukwu)

 

The Resurrection of Pastor Daniel Ekechukwu By David Servant

 

Soon after it occurred in December of 2001, I heard the report of Nigerian pastor Daniel Ekechukwu’s resurrection via e-mail from my friend, pastor David K. Aboderin, of Lagos, Nigeria. I also heard about this miracle from my friend Brent Regis, son-in-law of Reinhard Bonnke. Bonnke had been preaching at the church where Ekechukwu was resurrected a short time before it occurred. Brent told me at that time some of the details of pastor Ekechukwu’s experience in hell. Some months after that, I also watched the video documentary of that miracle produced by Christ for all Nations, which focused primarily on the miracle of the resurrection. I wanted to learn more about the incident. Since I was scheduled to spend the first two weeks of September, 2002 teaching at three pastors’ conferences in Nigeria, I told David Aboderin that if it would be possible, I would like to meet pastor Ekechukwu, and I prayed that the Lord would make it possible. I learned that pastor Ekechukwu was from a village called Amaimo, Imo State, and that he was pastoring a church in the city of Onitsha, Anambra State, called Power Chapel Evangelical Church. Onitsha was about a three-hour drive from where our final conference would be held, in the eastern Nigerian city of Umahia. So I asked the pastors at that conference if any of them knew how we could find pastor Ekechukwu. One young man raised his hand and told me that he had a friend who had a friend who personally knew pastor Ekechukwu. However, we also learned that pastor Ekechukwu was very difficult to meet, as he is in great demand. To make a long story short, we eventually learned that pastor Ekechukwu was temporarily staying at a hotel just five minutes from David Aboderin’s home in Lagos, where I would be lodging during my final three days in Nigeria. We were also given the opportunity to meet him. So in a country of 130 million people, and in a city of 12 million, the man I wanted to meet was lodging just five minutes away from me! It was either great coincidence or wonderful providence. I was given the favor of personally meeting with Daniel Ekechukwu twice during those three days and also talking with several people on his ministry staff who were very familiar with his story.

The following report has been compiled from several sources: (1) from pastor Daniel Ekechukwu himself by means of personal discussions I had with him from September 12-14, 2002, while I was in Lagos, Nigeria, (2) from his personal written testimony contained in his own self-published booklet which he gave me, titled Miracle of the 21st Century, (3) from listening to his public testimony on September 13th at The Chapel of Glory, Lagos, Nigeria, (4) from the documentary video produced and sold by the ministry of Christ for all Nations, which includes the testimonies of pastor Daniel, the doctor who pronounced him dead, Daniel’s wife, Daniel’s father, the mortician who embalmed Daniel, and several pastors who were present at his resurrection, and (5) from a personal discussion with Ede Samuel, a long-time friend and personal assistant to pastor Daniel, who also was an eye-witness of many of the events surrounding Daniel’s death and resurrection. The events described in the following report are factual to the best of my knowledge and memory. I’ve sent this report to a Nigerian man named Uche Chikezie, who was Daniel Ekechukwu’s Public Relations Director, and he affirmed that all that I reported is true. I am persuaded that due to complications from an automobile accident, Nigerian pastor Daniel Ekechukwu physically died in the late evening of Friday, November 30th, 2001, was dead for at least 42 hours, visited heaven and hell during the time of his physical death, and was raised from the dead between 3:50 P.M. and 5:15 P.M. on Sunday, December 2nd, 2001 in the basement of the Grace of God Mission, located in Onitsha, Nigeria. Pastor Ekechukwu’s resurrection is the greatest modern miracle of which I’ve heard. Although some of what happened to pastor Ekechukwu is certainly extra-biblical, none of it is unbiblical. Indeed, neither the story of Daniel Ekechukwu’s resurrection or the story of your salvation is found in the Bible, making them both extra-biblical, but neither should be discounted on that basis.

The Account: On Thursday, November 29th, 2001, Pastor Daniel Ekechukwu and his wife, Nneka, had a misunderstanding that degenerated into an argument that ended in her slapping him. He was very offended by this incident, to the point of not even acknowledging her attempt to reconcile the next morning. Pastor Daniel admitted that throughout the day of November 30th, he angrily thought about how he would put his wife in her place when he returned home. He would not, however, make it home that Friday.

As he was driving home that evening, the brakes on his 20-year old Mercedes 230E failed as he was heading down a steep hill, and his car crashed into a concrete pillar that was built to prevent cars from going over a steep embankment. He was not wearing a seat belt (few Nigerians did in 2001, but that changed in 2003, when wearing a seat-belt become a national law), and his chest hit very forcibly against the steering wheel and its knob, apparently doing damage to his internal organs, as he was soon vomiting up blood and having difficulty breathing (not to mention that he soon lost all signs of life). Daniel was not able to remove himself from his car, but frantic onlookers pulled him out. One bystander volunteered her car while another bystander offered to drive him to St. Charles Borromeo Hospital, not far away on the outskirts of Onitsha.

Within minutes of their arrival at the hospital, a doctor began administering emergency treatment, but Daniel knew his body was not responding to it. He began praying the prayer of a man who knows he is going to die, asking God to forgive him of all his sins so that he would be ready to stand before the Lord. He also sent for his wife, Nneka, with whom he had refused to speak when he left his home earlier that day. She fainted upon hearing the news of her husband’s accident and condition, but when revived was taken by a Christian neighbor to the hospital. Daniel’s friend, Ede Samuel (whom I interviewed at length) was with her and essentially witnessed everything that transpired over the next three days.

Upon seeing Daniel in critical condition when she arrived at St. Charles Borromeo hospital, Daniel’s wife burst into tears, begging her husband not to die and leave her. The doctor admitted that there was nothing he could do to save Daniel’s life (keep in mind this was a Third World hospital), and so Daniel requested that he be transferred by ambulance to Umezuruike Hospital at Owerri, where his personal doctor practiced. The Umezuruike hospital was 80 km away. Daniel’s wife arranged for the ambulance against the advice of doctors at St. Charles hospital. It was on the way to Umezuruike Hospital that Daniel died. Daniel was lying in the back of the ambulance while his wife was in the front passenger seat. He began to feel that he was not going to survive, and so he called for his wife to come to him. He began to say goodbye, give her instructions about certain church and personal documents, and admonished her to take care of their sons and his church. She began sobbing greatly and amidst her tears strongly rebuked him for such negative statements. He was a man of God and should have faith, and not be speaking of dying! As she was speaking, Daniel saw two large angels (they were so large that he later wondered how they fit inside the ambulance – one was as big as the ambulance) who were completely white (even the pupils of their eyes). Daniel tried to speak to the angels, but one held his finger to his lips, motioning for his silence. The angels lifted him on either side, and Daniel realized that there were now two of himself. The angels were holding him under each arm of his spirit man (which was perfectly whole), while his broken body was lying below. Once they left the ambulance, Daniel became oblivious to the natural world.

When the ambulance arrived at Umezuruike Hospital with Daniel’s body, it was now late at night (Friday, November 30th), and Daniel’s doctor was not there. A member of the medical staff, however, examined his body and sadly told Nneka that her husband was dead and there was nothing that could be done. Nneka refused to believe the bad report. So, they drove to the Federal Medical Center in Owerri, but found no doctor there either. Finally, they drove to the Eunice Clinic, and there Daniel was confirmed to be dead by Doctor Jossy Anuebunwa. There was no breathing, no heartbeat or pulse, and Daniel’s pupils were dilated and fixed. The doctor said that there was nothing he could do. A death certificate was issued at 11:30 P.M., November 30, 2001.

They then drove Daniel’s corpse to his father’s house in a nearby village, and naturally Daniel’s father and other family members were heartbroken at the sight of Daniel’s dead body, weeping profusely. Daniel’s father instructed them to take his body to Ikeduru General Hospital Mortuary (now known as Inyishi Community Hospital mortuary) not far away. They arrived there around 1:00 A.M. on Saturday morning. The resident mortician, Mr. Darlington Manu, received the corpse and the family members departed. The primitive Nigerian mortuary where Daniel’s body was taken had no cold storage facilities, and so the mortician injected embalming chemicals into Daniel’s fingers and into his feet. He then prepared to fully embalm Daniel’s body by cutting Daniel’s inner thigh in order to insert a tube by which he could inject more embalming fluid. As he did this, he experienced a shock that pushed him away from the corpse. This did not surprise him, as he had experienced similar forces before and attributed them to occult powers. (Such things are widely practiced in Africa and highly respected by all African pastors whom I know. Africans never understand the skepticism of Americans regarding the reality of occult power.) After a second attempt and a second shock that somewhat paralyzed his right arm, he concluded that Daniel must have been a member of a powerful secret society. He assumed, however, that after some occult sacrifices and incantations the powers in the corpse would subside, and he could then complete his work. (This mortician, of course, was not a Christian, but converted after Daniel’s resurrection.) So, he instructed an assistant to lay Daniel’s body in the rear of the mortuary where many other corpses were already laid. (Incidentally, Daniel said that people could smell the embalming chemicals coming out of his body for two weeks after his resurrection. They would hug him and hold their noses.)

Around 2:00 A.M. Saturday morning, the mortician, who lived very close to the mortuary, was disturbed by songs of worship coming from inside his mortuary, which stopped as soon as approached the mortuary doorway. This occurred twice. Upon searching for the music’s source in his mortuary, he noticed some kind of light emanating from the face of Daniel’s corpse. This completely unnerved him.

The mortician was so disturbed over what was happing that he located Daniel’s father on Saturday morning to inform him of what had been happening and to request that he remove Daniel’s corpse from his mortuary. Then, on Saturday night, while she was sleeping, Daniel’s wife experienced a dream in which she saw the face of her husband, and he was asking her why they had left him in the mortuary. He stated that he was not dead and that she should take him to Onitsha where German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke was preaching. She determined to do so, even though her family thought she was out of her mind. Daniel had been dead for more than 28 hours. The family finally yielded, but purchased a casket and brought funeral clothing for the mortician to dress Daniel. Rigor mortis had fully set in by this time. An ambulance was hired on Sunday morning, December 2nd, and the casket that contained Daniel’s body was taken to Grace of God Mission (a large church) in Onitsha, about one and half hours away, where evangelist Reinhard Bonnke was preaching at an afternoon church dedication service. They arrived at the church around 1:00 P.M.

 

http://heavenvisit.com/Daniel_Ekechukwu.php: For three days, Daniel’s body lay there, in the open-air embalming room. During that time the body was prepared for burial-including embalming! While they waited for the funeral, Daniel’s wife began to argue with her Maker.

“I began to call on the name of the Lord. I wanted to remind God of His promises,” Daniel’s wife said. “One verse that inspired me was Hebrew 11:35: ‘Women received their dead bodies to life.’ The moment I read this verse it strengthened me to hold God firm and act.”

Three days after Daniel’s death, his wife decided what she would do. She had heard about a meeting near by-where miracles were happening. It was a Reinhard Bonnke prayer service. She went to collect her husband’s body.

 

http://www.davidservant.com/pastor-daniel-nneka-ekechukwu-concerning-resurrection: I videotaped a twenty-minute interview with Daniel’s wife, Nneka, the true heroine of the story. Her details harmonized perfectly with what everyone else had told me. She never lost faith in her heart the entire two days of her husband’s death, although she faced incredible emotional challenges. She was in the room when he came back to life. I asked her if it was possible that God have her a gift of special faith (see 1 Cor. 12:9), because her faith seemed so extraordinary. She said yes. However, I must say that it seemed to me that she had stretched her own faith about as far as she could right from the time she learned of her husband’s accident. She told me her faith had been strengthened during a number of previous trials.

 

The church grounds were being protected by swarms of federal, state and local security guards for the sake of Reinhard Bonnke, who has received many death threats, and who is hated by Muslims all over Africa. (Not to mention the fact that the World Trade Center had been destroyed by Muslim hijackers just weeks before.) For this reason, the security guards would not allow the casket to be brought onto church grounds, thinking it might actually contain explosives. Daniel’s wife loudly pleaded with them, and opened the casket to show them her dead husband, which resulted in their mocking and even flogging her because of her persistence to gain entrance. She caused such a disturbance that the senior pastor was notified, and his son instructed that Daniel’s wife be permitted to bring his body to the church without the casket, and that it be placed in the basement. Daniel’s body was laid there on two tables pushed together in a Sunday School room. Some believers gathered around Daniel’s body and prayed while Reinhard Bonnke, who knew nothing of the dead body in the basement, preached and prayed. Eventually, it was noticed that Daniel’s corpse twitched, and then irregular breathing started. (By this time, Reinhard Bonnke had left the premises entirely.) The attendant believers began praying fervently, and because his body was stiff and cold, they began massaging his neck, arms and legs. When those in the sanctuary got word that a dead man below was coming back to life, the basement room was soon jammed with people. Suddenly Daniel sneezed and arose with a jump. It was somewhere between 3:50 and 5:15 PM on Sunday afternoon. Daniel had died Friday night around 10:00 PM. He slowly became fully coherent over the next few hours.

Do you doubt this account? A report on the web site of Christ for all Nations declares: Here are some hard facts that won’t go away. For two days Daniel did not breathe, his heart had stopped beating. It was in a hot climate, not suspended animation in an ice chamber. He had been injected with a harsh chemical to keep back mortification. As a corpse he was carted around for hours, pulled about, and lay in an airless narrow coffin for hours. He should have had severe brain damage, but he is alive now without any ill effects. This is no unsupported claim of bringing someone to life privately, as in a house. Here was a public event, an open demonstration of revival from death.

If anyone has to be named, it is Nneka. Her incurable faith alone prevented Daniel’s burial simply to bring him where she was convinced God could bring him back to life. She regarded Reinhard Bonnke as a man of God and that in the atmosphere of faith where he ministered this miracle was possible. The faith of Nneka dictated the whole event and her faith was honored. By whom? Who honored her faith? If not God, who else? I would add to this defense that if the incident was a hoax, I doubt that pastor Ekechukwu would have invented the story of what happened to him when he was escorted to hell, which I will relate next. Pastor Daniel’s message is now one of repentance to the church, to prepare the church to stand before Jesus, and many have indeed repented after hearing his testimony. If his story is all a hoax, the result of this hoax is real holiness. Finally, the ministry of Reinhard Bonnke certainly needs no promotional hoax, as his Nigerian crusades are already attended by millions. He in fact states that he had nothing to do with the miracle, and wasn’t aware of the dead body in the basement of the church where he was preaching.

As amazing as the story of his death and resurrection is, what Daniel experienced after his death is even more amazing. To him, what he experienced between his death and resurrection could have taken only fifteen minutes, even though he was physically dead for almost two days. After he was lifted from his body by the two angels in the ambulance, he soon found himself momentarily alone, but was soon joined by a different angel. Daniel stated that if he was confused about something that he saw or experienced, or if he had a question in his mind, this angel immediately gave him the answer. This angel first told him that they were going to Paradise. There was no time expended in getting anywhere the angel took him. As soon as the angel said they were going to Paradise, they were there.

Daniel stood with the angel and watched a multitude of worshipping people who were dressed in sparkling white garments. He immediately thought they were angels, but the escorting angel told him that they were human beings who, “while they lived on earth, served God and had their faith focused on Christ Jesus and lived righteously.” These people were all ageless and raceless. That is, none appeared to be young or middle-aged or elderly, and none had any racial distinctives in their appearance. All were focused on a very bright light above them, and all worshipped in perfect unison. They would all lift their hands at once and bow at once “as if a sort of electronic device was activating them.” Daniel did notice one man who looked elderly among the multitude, and the thought occurred to him that perhaps that man was God, but the escorting angel immediately corrected him. The man was father Abraham. (Read Luke 16:19-31 for a story Jesus told that speaks of Abraham in the afterlife.)

Daniel longed to join the worshippers, but the angel told him that there were other things Daniel needed to see. He told Daniel they would next go to see Jesus’ promise to His followers, the mansion He had prepared for those whom “He would find righteous on the last day.” Immediately they were there. Daniel said there is no earthly way to describe what he saw. The mansion had no apparent end to its height or width. It continually moved, and each room also revolved in some manner. It was made of something that was transparent like glass, and the floors appear to be made of light. Daniel didn’t see anybody in the great mansion, but heard beautiful singing. Wondering where the music was coming from, the angel immediately pointed him to the many flowers around the mansion. When Daniel looked at them more closely, they were moving and swaying and singing praise to God! The angel told Daniel, “The mansion is ready but the saints of God are not. Jesus is being delayed because Christians in the church are not ready yet.” (This is entirely scriptural; see 2 Pet. 3:12.)

Next, the angel took Daniel to hell, and they stood at the gate. When the angel lifted his hand and let it fall again, the gate opened, and Daniel could immediately hear the awful sounds of people screaming and weeping, but everything in hell was in total blackness. Then a bright light shone from the angel, and Daniel could see many groups of people in anguish. He told me of several specific groups that went through endless cycles of torment, held captive to the same sins they practiced on earth. One group consisted of people who would eat their own flesh and then vomit it out onto the ground, at which time the vomit would fly back onto their bodies and turn back into flesh that they would eat again. The angel told Daniel these people were those who had eaten human flesh as an occult practice. (Such things occur in Africa all the time.)

Another group, who had stolen land from others while on earth, endlessly dug rock-hard ground with their bare hands. As I heard Daniel relate this scene, I couldn’t help but thinking of how many times Scripture declares that God will repay every person according to his or her deeds, and also promises that everyone will reap precisely what they have sown. I remembered the story Jesus told of Lazarus and the rich man. In the afterlife, their roles were exactly reversed. The rich man longed for a drip of water from Lazarus just as Lazarus had previously longed for a crumb from the rich man’s table.

Pastor Daniel also saw the former military dictator of Nigeria. He saw a Christian who had dabbled in occult practices and fallen away from the Lord, and a pastor who had embezzled money from his own church and also lied about it. The former pastor pleaded that he would return the money if Daniel could help him escape hell. Although there were different kinds of tortures, all of the people in hell writhed in agony under an unseen force that would wrench them repeatedly. All of them were shouting, wailing and gnashing their teeth. Pastor Daniel told me that if every Christian could see what he saw, there would be no need to preach the gospel, as every Christian would become the gospel.

The most surprising thing is what happened next. The escorting angel told pastor Daniel, “If your record is to be called here, you will in no doubt be thrown into hell.” Pastor Daniel immediately defended himself saying, “I am a man of God! I serve Him with all my heart!” But a Bible appeared in the angel’s hand, and it was opened to Matthew 5 where Jesus warned that if one calls his brother a fool he is guilty enough to go into the hell of fire (see Matt. 5:21-22). Pastor Daniel knew he was guilty for the angry words he had spoken to his wife. The angel also reminded him that Jesus promised that God will not forgive our sins if we do not forgive others (see Matt. 6:14-15), because we will reap what we have sown. Only those who are merciful will obtain mercy (Matt 5:7). The angel told Daniel that the prayers he prayed as he was dying in the hospital were of no effect, because he refused to forgive his wife even when she attempted to reconcile on the morning of his fatal accident.

Pastor Daniel wept at this revelation, but the angel told him not to cry, because God was going to send him back to the earth to grant the rich man’s request (see Luke 16:27-30). A man would come back from the dead and warn people of hell. The angel said that Daniel’s resurrection would serve as a sign and be the last warning for this generation. Finally, pastor Daniel was led to the top of a mountain, at which there was a large hole full of darkness. There the escorting angel handed Daniel to a man standing there whom he did not recognize at first, but soon realized it was German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. The angel told Daniel that man would help him spread the gospel of salvation. Both Daniel and Rev. Bonnke fell into the hole, and that is when pastor Daniel jumped up from the table where he lay at the Grace of God mission. He was back in his body after having been dead for at least 42 hours, almost two full days.

As you may imagine, pastor Daniel greatly emphasizes in his preaching the need to forgive those who have wronged us, lest anyone suffer the fate he almost suffered. How important it is that we obey Jesus’ commandments regarding forgiveness and walking in love toward each other, as well as all the rest of His commandments. It is indeed time for the church to repent and “pursue peace with all men, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Do not listen to false teachers who say that holiness is not essential to ultimately gain eternal life. Jesus warned that only those who do the will of His Father will enter the kingdom of heaven (see Matt. 7:21). Do not listen to teachers who say that if you are once saved you are guaranteed that you will always be saved. Jesus warned His closest disciples (see Matt. 24:1-3) of the possibility of their not being ready when He returned and being cast into hell (see Matt. 24:42-25:46). If we expect God to forgive us, we must forgive others. That is what Jesus solemnly promised. Are you ready to stand before Jesus, sincere and blameless?

 

How about this for boldness? For two days, your husband does not not breathe. His heart is not beating. In a hot climate (not in suspended animation in an ice chamber), he has been injected with harsh chemicals (for embalming the corpse) and his corpse is already stiff. But then you have the faith to take him out of the morgue and drive him in his coffin to church to receive prayer and for life to return to your husband. Crazy but you are bold and God put a Bible verse in your heart – Hebrews 11:35: “[Through faith] women received back their dead, raised to life again.”

By all accounts, Jesus loves boldness. Just before dawn he appeared to his disciples, walking toward them on water, and he told them: “It is I. Take courage.” Which made Peter respond with – Matthew 14:28: “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And Jesus said: “Come.”

This morning – this week – you have permission to be bold. Imagine that you get out of the boat, ask for bigger things, and put it to Jesus that you want to hear his command to walk on water. God will surprise you. Jesus said yesto Peter, and he loves your boldness too. Amen.