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Watch 2022 online sermons » Derek Prince » Derek Prince - Dedicated Service To The Lord

Derek Prince - Dedicated Service To The Lord

Derek Prince - Dedicated Service To The Lord
TOPICS: Bible Study, Dedication

This is the first of four sessions in which we’ll be working through the last five chapters of Romans, that’s chapters 12–16. The title that I selected for this particular set of messages is walking out your Faith under pressure. I suppose most of us who are trying to walk out the Christian faith would agree that today we are under pressure. All sorts of pressures: social pressures, spiritual pressures, mental pressures, emotional pressures. I said when I wrote a little introduction to this particular series in a phrase that’s popular in America, This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where our faith is tested. Will it stand the test? You can say amen to all the glorious theology of the first 11 chapter of Romans but it’s in what we are teaching now that our faith will be proved or disproved. This is the test.

You see, this is true of all of the Bible. It never presents us with abstract, intellectual truth. It always presents truth and then shows how it relates to the way we live. You cannot find just abstract, intellectual theology anywhere in the Bible. God isn’t interested in it. He’s interested in life and the way we live. And all the truths of the Bible are designed to make us live like a godly and victorious and fruitful life. And if we have a lot of knowledge, maybe many degrees, but we don’t have that result; God’s purposes are being frustrated in our lives. If we turn now to the 12th chapter, you’ll find in the first verse a word that I think particularly appeals to me, with my background in logic. Paul says: I urge you therefore, brethren The word that always leaps out of the page to me is the word therefore.

I’ve often said, and probably some of you have heard me say, When you find a therefore in the Bible, you need to find out what it’s there for. Because, it always indicates a logical connection with what has gone before. And I believe this therefore here in the first verse of Romans 12 is because of all the preceding 11 chapters of Romans. In those 11 chapters, Paul has wonderfully unfolded the divine plan for man to be reckoned righteous with God, to come back into a relationship with God, to receive all the full provision of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. So, all that has been unfolded as only the Holy Spirit through Paul could do. But, as I’ve said already, God doesn’t stop there.

Now, the issue is how can we live this out? What does this mean in our lives day by day? That’s why the therefore is there, because Paul is saying in the light of all that God has done and provided for us, how should we respond, what should be our response? And if anything delights me in the Bible, it’s this, because the response is so simple, practical and down to earth. I am personally scared of super-spirituality. I tell people the Holy Spirit is the most practical person on earth at this moment. And if a thing isn’t practical, it isn’t spiritual in the true sense of spiritual. And so as we read this first verse, you will see that God’s requirements, the response He asks from us, is very down to earth. I think that’s the best way to describe it. I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual or you may say logical service of worship.

So what is God asking of us? Not something theological, not something that sounds very mystical or intellectually stimulating, but He says, I want your body. I want that earthen vessel in which you live, that’s what I’m asking for. And I’m not going to be satisfied with anything less. And He said, I want you to present your body like a sacrifice on my altar of service. But he says, A living sacrifice. Why does he chose the word living? Because he has in mind the sacrifices of the Old Covenant where the creature to be sacrificed was first killed and then its body was placed on the altar. Paul is saying, I want you to place your body just as really on the altar of God, but don’t kill it. It’s not a dead sacrifice, it’s a living sacrifice. And the language used here is which is your spiritual service of worship. That word that’s used there is the word that’s always used of the service of the priest in the temple of the tabernacle.

So, we become priests through our faith in Jesus and one of the primary priestly duties that we have is to present our bodies on God’s altar as a living sacrifice. This is what God is asking from us. It’s not complicated, it’s really if anything, too simple. And you see, once in the Old Covenant anybody placed an animal on the altar of God, he no longer owned that animal. From then on that animal belonged to God. Once it touched the altar and the priest took his hands off, that animal was totally set apart to God. And so, when you place your body on God’s altar, from that time onwards you don’t own your body, it belongs to God. You don’t have to decide what to eat or what to wear, or where to travel, those are God’s decisions. Your body is now His property. He can do what He will with it, whether it’s to keep it alive or to sentence it to death, that’s His decision. That’s the response that God asks. And people who try to be Christians without a response like that just end up with endless problems. And then they have endless counseling sessions with endless counselors.

I have discovered that if you will cater to people’s problems in the ministry, you’ll never end. And people who keep their minds fastened on their problems will never come to the end of their problems. Somehow or other you’ve got to get out of yourself, and this is God’s way to be out of yourself and your problems; it’s to place your body on His altar. Surrender yourself without reservation to God. Then you become His responsibility. In the past, I spent many hours counseling Christians with problems. And I came to the conclusion that fifty percent of those problems wouldn’t exist if they had truly repented. Repentance is the key. Turning away from self, self-pleasing, self-will, making my own decisions, doing my own thing. And all that is typified in this beautiful picture of placing your body on the altar. You say, Well, is God only interested in my body? Isn’t He interested in my spirit and soul? I would say God is clever.

See, because when He gets your body He gets the contents. He gets the whole thing. And He’s not going to settle for less. You can limp along as a half committed Christian and have a lot of people like you right beside you in the church. But, you’ll never know the real satisfaction of the Christian life until you’ve made that commitment. Now, as a result of the commitment, Paul then unfolds the consequences that we can look for in our lives. But bear in mind these consequences are not promised to people who haven’t made the commitment.

So I’m going to read the first verse again and then I’m going to go on. There are a number of successive stages that flow out of this initial commitment. I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God In other words, in the light of all that God has done, out of His mercy and grace, we didn’t deserve it, we couldn’t earn it, we had no claim upon it, he just did it. How do we respond He says? To present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual or logical priestly service of worship. And then he goes on with a negative: Do not be conformed to this world That’s this translation, but the actual word is age. There are two Greek words. World is cosmos, age is ion which gives us the English word eon. They’re not the same. Age is a time concept. We’re living in a certain age, a period of time. But Paul says don’t be conformed to this time period. Don’t live like the people in this time period live. Because in Galatians 1:4 he tells us, that Christ has delivered us from this present evil age.

Do you know why it’s an evil age? Shall I tell you? You’ll find the answer in 2 Corinthians chapter 4 verse 5, because it has an evil god. who is the god of this age? Satan, that’s right. And God is not redeeming this age. God is redeeming us out of this age. And Christians who try to live as if they still belong in this age are always in a state of confusion. This has been covered up by translations; it’s scarcely ever mentioned as far as I know, in the great body of the American church today. We have to be delivered from this present evil age. God is not going to redeem the age; He’s going to close the age. And when this age ends, Satan will no longer be a god. That’s why he fights with all this might to continue this age as long as he can. But we are not to be conformed to this age. We’re not to live like people who belong in time. We don’t. We belong to eternity.

The writer of Hebrews says we’ve tasted the powers of the next age through the Holy Spirit and the word of God. One reason why God has allowed us to taste the powers of the next age is to spoil our appetite for this age. Do you see? When you’ve really tasted what God has to offer through the Holy Spirit, the things of this age would seem so tawdry, so unpalatable. Why worry with them, why spend your time on them? Why get so excited about them? They’re all passing away. They’re all impermanent. They’re all tainted, they’re all corrupted. There is nothing pure and absolutely clean in the things of this age. It’s a corrupt age with a corrupt god. The mercy of God is that we’ve been delivered from this age. I think I need to show you that. Galatians 1:4. Otherwise, you’ll say where did he get that from? Well, the answer is I got it from Paul. Galatians 1:4. Honestly, I have to say there maybe other people teaching this, I haven’t met them. I don’t say that to be boastful but I just want to say that there’s a total gap in the teaching of the church of this nation concerning this issue.

Galatians 1:4, you have to read the previous verse, 3: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins that he might deliver us out of the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. Now, it’s the same word that’s used in Romans 12:2, but this particular translation, and other translations, tend to translate it world. World is another concept. World is a kind of social system. But age is a time concept. Both, We have to be delivered from both. If you go through Galatians, it starts with deliverance from this present evil age and ends with deliverance from this present world. The last statement in it is God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ by which the world is crucified to me and I to the world. The world and the age are not the same thing. But I don’t really believe you can be delivered from this world if you haven’t been delivered from this age.

So, coming back to Romans 12: Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Notice that God does not change us from outside in, He changes us from inside out. He changes the way we think. And then, that changes the way we live. Religion basically, does the opposite. Religion starts with the outside: what you wear, what you eat, what you drink, the places you go to; and tries to make us good by changing the external. But it doesn’t work. God’s method works. He changes us from inside. He changes the way we think. And once we’re changed in the way we think, we’ll be changed in the way we live. You cannot think wrong and live right. And you cannot think right and live wrong. The way you think determines the way you live. The essential feature of the people of this age is that they are self-centered, they always face every issue and decision with What will this do for me? What will I get out of this? When your mind is renewed, you are God-centered. You don’t approach situations and decisions like that.

You say, What will God get out of this? What is the will of God, what is God’s plan? Will this glorify God? That’s the change of mind that comes. But that won’t come until you’ve presented your body. God is not making any other bargain with you. You say, I want to think different and I want to be different. God says, Where’s your body? Is it on my altar? Do I own it? Have I absolute right to dispose of your body any way I please? Otherwise, don’t talk to me about renewing your mind, because that’s my basic requirement. You present your body and God will renew your mind. You hold onto your body and God will do nothing for your mind. How many of you know that God means what He says? Praise God.

All right, we’re going on in Romans verse 2 of chapter 12: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is That you may find out God’s will in experience. See, there are millions of Christians who have been born again but never discovered God’s will for their lives. They’re just floundering. They’re trying to lead a good life but they have no real motivation. They have no vision. The Bible says without vision people cast off restraint. That’s why many Christians are undisciplined; they’ve cast off restraint because they don’t have a vision. You take the example of an athlete, which Paul uses many times. Why can a man jump higher or run faster than anybody else? Because he had a vision. And because of that vision he exercises, he trains himself, he submits himself to discipline.

Discipline that’s much more intense than most Christians ever contemplate. The thing that motivates him is a vision. No vision, no discipline. Your life is disorderly; it’s up one day and down the next. You struggle a little here, you make a little progress there, but you are not doing what Paul said he was doing: pressing toward the mark for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. You don’t have a mark so how can you press toward it? The mark only comes when your mind is renewed and God gives you a vision of what He wants to make you personally, individually. And then Paul says three wonderful words about the will of God: It's good, acceptable and perfect. The more you know it, the better it gets.

When you start with God’s will, it’s good. He wants the best for you. Are you sure of that? Well, He does. Then it’s acceptable. The better you know it, the more you enjoy it. And finally, it’s perfect. It covers every area of your personality; it covers every detail of your life. It covers where you sit, it covers the food you eat, it covers the clothes you wear, it covers the people you meet. There’s not a detail in your life that isn’t covered by the will of God when you’ve discovered His perfect will. Do you know what I’ve discovered in my own life? The things that I often thought were important and I prayed about them, I agonized about them, turned out to be relatively unimportant. And other things that I hardly had time to think about were decisions that determined the course of my life. I immigrated to the United States by accident. Not many people have done that.

I came here on a visit in l963. They said it’s too long for a visit. Well I said, What can you do? They said, You better immigrate. I had no intention of immigrating to the United States. I said to myself, If there’s one nation that’s got enough preachers, it’s the United States And that was one of the most significant developments in my whole life. Here am I. I’ve lived here, goodness, nearly thirty years. I’ve become a citizen. Never contemplated that. Didn’t have time to pray about the decision. There I was at the border, North Dakota of all places to come into the United States! And I want to bless God for the immigration authorities. Every time I had to deal with one, I had to deal with, it was a born again Christian. Don’t tell me it doesn’t make a difference, because it does. They treated us with kindness, with courtesy, with consideration. It’s easy to criticize the officials of a nation, but I want to tell you you need to try some other nations before you criticize your officials.

You go too, well, I don’t want to tell you where! Why should I make trouble for myself? I might want to go there later. All right, we’re going to go on, we’re pressing on. Then Paul says in verse 3, the next stage: For through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment [another translation says to think soberly] as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. That’s the next development. You discover that God has allotted to you a specific measure of faith. God deals with each of us individually. We don’t all have the same faith; we don’t all have the same kind of faith. Not all preachers or ministers have the same faith. Some preachers have great faith for healing, some don’t. But God deals to each person, each servant of His, a specific measure of faith. And then he warns us that faith and pride are incompatible. Did you know that?

That’s a truth that runs through the Bible. Faith and pride are incompatible. The two persons whom Jesus praised most for their faith in His earthly ministry were two people who thought themselves totally unworthy. The Roman Centurion said to Jesus, I’m not worthy that you should come under my roof. And the Syro-Phoenician woman when Jesus talked to her about being a little dog. She said, True, Lord. Lord I am a little dog, but all I want is a crumb. What did Jesus say to her? O woman, great is thy faith. Have it, the way you want? help yourself. The two humblest people were the two people with the most faith. Pride and faith are incompatible. There’s a kind of substitute faith which is very arrogant and boastful, but it’s not the faith of the New Testament. So, when you start and you walk into the bank the first day for a job, don’t ask to be president the first day. Do you see? If they put you to clean out the trash, all right, that’s where you belong. Ladders are most safely climbed from the bottom, not from halfway up.

All right. So, God has allotted to each one a specific measure of faith, but it only operates out of an attitude of humility. Now, the next great truth which is so important is the measure of faith God has allotted to us is related to the place in the body that He has for us to occupy. You see, one of the great lessons of this chapter is that you cannot really become an effective Christian until you’ve found your place in the body of Christ. You’re not just a little finger floating through the air; you’re a finger that’s got to be attached to hand that’s attached to an arm that’s attached to a body. There is no room for the person who says, I’ll go it alone, I don’t need other people. The longer I live the Christian life the more I know how much I need the body. And sometimes when I begin to get a little maybe self sufficient, God allows things to happen that show me I need my fellow Christians. I need to be in the body, I need to be functioning as part of the body.

Some of you are frustrated. You wonder why it doesn’t go right with you, you’ve not found your place in the body. You’ve got faith but you don’t know what to do with it. Let’s just read there what Paul says about the body in verses 4 and 5: For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. So, each one of us is designed to be part of a body. And we can only function effectively when we’ve found our place in the body and are fulfilling our functions. And you will find that the faith that God has allotted to you is the faith that will enable you to fulfill your function in the body. Let me take a very simple example. If you’re going to be a hand, let’s say that, you have to have hand faith. Do you understand? But, if you’re going to be a foot and God has given you foot faith and you try to be a hand, you’ll be a disaster, understand? See my hand is very effective when it’s working as a hand. But if I try to walk on my hands, that’s another story.

Again, the cause of much frustration in the body of Christ is that people are trying to be the wrong part. They’re trying to fulfill a function for which God hasn’t given them the faith. We all experience that our faith is tested, but basically if you’re always struggling for faith, it’s almost a certain sign that you’re not in your right place in the body. Because, my hand really doesn’t had to make a lot of effort to be a hand. It’s a hand without doing a lot of thinking. But if I try to make my hand some other part of the body, then there’s a lot of effort and strain. There shouldn’t be a lot of strain in the Christian life. From time to time we’ll be under pressure, we’ll be tested, our strength may be tested. But basically, the Christian life should flow as naturally as my hand doing its job or my eye doing its job. That does not mean that your faith will not grow.

God intends our faith to grow, but it will grow in the place where you should be functioning. I can see some of your brows crinkled. It may not show on the outside but it shows on the inside. You really never heard this before. See, one of the curses of American life is individualism. I mean, individuals are real persons and individuality is important, but to try to function on your own independently of other people is a road to disaster. It’s a road to frustration. I read a statistic somewhere that the average number of people now sharing a household in this nation are 1.7 people. On the average, two people can’t live together any longer. That is not to be a picture of the body of Christ. That’s one of the places where we cannot be conformed to the thinking of this age. We have to learn to be part of a body; we’ve got to learn to function with other people.

God has His way of teaching us. You may or may not know, but I was an only child, I never had any brothers or sisters. And I got my way through college and university by scholarships. I was very successful academically. So I arrived really, at the upper level of academic life in Britain without ever having to bother much with other people. If I didn’t like them, I didn’t fight with them, I just let them go do their own thing. I really hadn’t been troubled with the curse of insecurity. I had to learn what it is for people to be insecure. Because, my problems were different. If many people didn’t like me, it didn’t worry me. That’s their problem, it’s not mine. Well, then God obviously saw that I was highly qualified and would give me a nice intellectual job. I got married to a lady who was adoptive mother to eight girls.

So, the day I got married I not merely got a wife, I got eight daughters. And six of them were Jewish, one was Arab, and one was English. Later we acquired a ninth, an African. But you see, God, what would I say, dropped me in the deep end all of a sudden. I mean, if you ever thought of a person who was qualified for that position, I would have been at the bottom of your list. But God did it because I had to be reshaped in my thinking. I had to learn to relate to other people. I had to learn that women don’t think the way that men do. I mean, I assumed everybody thinks like a college professor. I discovered it wasn’t so. But I thank God for the lessons. Our family has survived. Today, together with Ruth, we have about a hundred and fifty members in our family. That’s a testimony to God’s grace. So, if God drops you in the deep end, remember, He’ll make sure you can swim. You may swallow a few mouthfuls but you’ll come up smiling sooner or later!
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