Derek Prince - The Greatest Problem Of The American Church
This is an excerpt from: Derek Prince - You Can Come Through Victorious
Secondly, and this is very closely related, they all follow from this, you have to commit yourself to the final order of Jesus to His Church. Which is given in Matthew 28:19 and following. I joined the British Army not by choice but by compulsion on the 12th of September 1940. I happened to remember the date because it was my mother’s birthday. The first thing the sergeant told us, one of the things said was, Don’t do as I do, do as I say. He had good reason to say that! In the kingdom of God we can’t say that. We have to say, Do as I do. We can’t give people instructions we don’t follow ourselves. Anyhow, two other things they taught me were this. That once an order is given, it’s enforced until it’s canceled by someone with authority. Second, ignorance of orders is no excuse for disobeying them. And that is true in the army of God. I smile when God’s people talk about being an army, because they’re so far from being an army.
Let me tell you one thing. When I joined the British Army under King George VI, I never got a little certificate signed by the king saying, I guarantee you, you will not have to lose your life. No soldier has ever joined an army on that basis. No soldier has a right to join the army of Jesus on that basis. It may cost you your life. Don’t talk about being a soldier if your motive is self preservation. Let’s read the words of Jesus, Matthew 28:18–20: All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. It’s important to know who has all authority. Not some authority, but all authority. It’s all vested in one person and His name is Jesus.
So, having said that, having cleared up the whole issue of authority once for all, Jesus says: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Now, He said go and make disciples of how many nations? All nations. Are you sure? Have we done that? By no means. Nineteen centuries have passed and we are still far from doing that. Then I want to point out to you that He did not say, Make church members. He said, Make disciples. One of the biggest problems that we have in the church is members who are members, but not disciples. Because, by their lives they contradict the message that we give.
If you’ve never started a work for the Lord and you feel led to do so, begin with disciples don’t begin with members. If you make disciples, sooner or later the members will come along. But they are not primary. I really mean this, I think the greatest single problem of the church in America is that we’ve made members who are not disciples. They tell me such and such a church has so many thousand members. I say that’s wonderful, how many of them are disciples? A disciple is one who is under discipline. A disciple is one who has laid down his life. Jesus said, Unless a man forsakes all that he has, he cannot be My disciple. It’s not, It’s difficult but some succeed, it’s impossible. That’s what we’re told to do, you see, our problem is disobedience. We’ve not been following the Commander’s orders. Then it says, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Understand that properly practiced, water baptism is a commitment to discipleship. If people are not willing to be discipled and come under discipline and lay down their lives, they shouldn’t be baptized. Because they’re going to be buried and then they’re going to be resurrected. Water baptism is as important in the New Testament as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. It is a decisive step and it’s urgent. Jesus said, Go into the world and preach the gospel to every creature - not just all nations, every creature. He who believes and is baptized, will be saved. I do not find a single instance in the New Testament from the Day of Pentecost onwards, that anybody ever claimed salvation without being baptized in water.
And I tell people, If you say you’re born again and I'm a believer in Jesus, but I have never been baptized by immersion. I say, You’re taking a risk. Because there’s no guarantee in the New Testament, that you are saved. Right? I think you’ll find it’s right. And, don’t be in this line, if you want to be baptized we’re having a baptismal service in two weeks, put your name down. That was not the attitude of the people in the New Testament. When God visited the house of the Philippian jailer and mind you, He visited it in a powerful way with an earthquake, I’m sure He had the jailer’s attention. When he and his family became believers, they were all baptized that hour of the night, they didn’t wait for dawn. Water baptism is urgent.
When Philip met the eunuch on the road to Gaza, he got in the chariot, the Bible says he preached to him Jesus. It doesn’t tell us he said anything about baptism. But when they passed a pool of water, it was the eunuch who said, Look, here’s water, what would prevent me from being baptized? Philip didn’t say, Well, you’ve got to memorize fifty-three Scriptures and attend a biblical class. And if you pass at the end, I’ll baptize you. You see, I was with a mission that was a wonderful group of people, but they wouldn’t baptize anybody if they hadn’t been in a baptismal class for six weeks. You know the result? They were baptizing educated pagans. They’d been through the class, but they’d never been saved. They just became religious.
So remember, water baptism isn’t a step you take somewhere down the road - it’s part of your salvation. On the Day of Pentecost, the unbelievers said, What shall we do? Peter said, Repent. Number one. Number two, Let every one of you be baptized and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And three thousand people were baptized in one day. That takes a lot of hard work. If all the apostles did the baptizing it must have taken several hours. But I’ll tell you what, it made an indelible impression upon the people of Jerusalem. This is what it means to become a believer in Jesus. I have to go through the water. Then it says: teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. So the real teaching process doesn’t come before baptism. It comes after it. When they’ve committed themselves to discipleship, then begin to train them. But don’t train uncommitted people, because it’s a waste of time. I say all this from experience, I’ve seen the results both ways.