Derek Prince - Glory To The Only Wise God
I’d like to just turn your attention for a moment to the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 2. This particular epistle appeals to me because in it Paul is dealing with what he calls the wisdom of this world as distinct from the truth of God. And for many years I studied precisely what Paul was talking about, Greek philosophy. And so I think I can appreciate better than most how absolutely accurate Paul’s words are. So, 1 Corinthians 2, he’s writing about when he came to Corinth. And I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you, except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
That’s a most unusual decision, to make up your mind to know nothing except one thing. Especially, I think, for Jewish people because if there’s one thing they esteem, it’s knowledge. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom Which was the whole essence of Greek culture. The word orator comes from the Greek. I mean, the highest accomplishment amongst the Greeks was to be an orator, to be able to persuade people with words. My message and my preaching was not in persuasive words or wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power. The Holy Spirit is invisible but His presence can be demonstrated by what He does.
I believe in the demonstration of the Spirit. It excites me. I never get too much of it. And why did he do that? That your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men but on the power of God. It’s good not to have your faith resting on the wisdom of men because it changes with every generation. All the philosophical theories that I studied 50 years ago are out of date now. Suppose my faith had rested in them, I’d have nothing left. But the word of God and the power of God never change. You need to consider Paul’s experience sometimes because he’d been to Athens before he went to Corinth. And Athens was the intellectual center of the Greek world. And he preached a rather intellectual sermon which he actually quoted from Greek poets. And the results were meager. I’m not sure whether he did the wrong thing or not but at any rate they were meager.
Then he was going on to Corinth which was a large, wicked seaport with all the vices of the wickedness of a seaport. And somewhere between Athens and Corinth he made up his mind, I’m not going to know anything among these people but Jesus Christ crucified. The city was turned upside down. The historians estimate the early church in Corinth grew to 25,000 persons. Out of what? Jesus Christ crucified and the power of the Holy Spirit. That will not bear witness supernaturally to anything but Jesus Christ crucified. We can have all sorts of elegant sermons and programs, but if you want the power of the Holy Spirit, you better focus on Jesus Christ and the cross.
One of the disasters of the contemporary church in so many places is the cross has been displaced from the center. And all sorts of gimmicks have been put in its place. But the Holy Spirit is not interested in gimmicks. And I predict that there will come along some man or some men with a very simple time worn message and turn the church upside down. And it needs to be turned upside down. Do you know why? Because at the present moment the church is on top and God is underneath. All right, that’s a prediction. Lord, grant that it might be true.
We must go back to Romans 15, I want to just touch on Paul’s motive. Verse 21 or verse 20. I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build upon another man’s foundation; but as it is written, They who had no news of Him shall see and they who have not heard shall understand. I believe that’s apostolic motivation. I believe the key word for every apostle is go. When Jesus gave His final orders to His apostles, the key word was go and preach the gospel, go into every nation. An apostle is not a super pastor circulating amongst established churches. He’s a man with a vision for the unreached. And that’s where God bears supernatural testimony. When you arrive among a group of people that haven’t heard the name of Jesus and you start to tell them there was a Son of God who came to earth and died, rose again, what’s going to make them believe? Supernatural testimony of the Holy Spirit.
You all probably heard of Corrie ten Boom and her famous little admonition to preachers. Kiss, K-I-S-S, keep it simple, stupid. We’ve got too sophisticated. Too elaborate. We need to come back to the Pauline vision of the Pauline message. Reaching the unreached, that’s in a sense the slogan of our ministry. Reaching the unreached and teaching the untaught. And oh, what a joy to see the revolution that comes in people’s lives who never really heard the truth, and receive it in a simple digestible form and digest it and go out and do it. Where our material arrives in the Third World, they do things I've never had the faith to do. They go out and open blind eyes. They’re simple enough to believe.
Well, I have seen blind eyes opened but not very often. I’d like to see a lot more. In Pakistan, you see? where we were, where people who had never heard. There was this little old lady. Brother Mahesh Chavda was with us. He took a photograph of her as a picture typical of Pakistani misery. She was blind from birth and just sat there. listened. And the last night we were there, I think Mahesh preached. But it didn’t make any difference who preached. And we prayed a collective prayer for the sick. We didn’t lay hands on anybody. And what happened? This little old lady, at least 60 years old, blind from birth came forward to show that she could see. That’s worth a whole trip to Pakistan, believe me. But it wasn’t the only thing that happened.
I just want to inspire you with a sense of excitement. The gospel works, just give it a chance. Abandon your sophistication and your clever methods and your personal ambition, and be prepared to exalt Jesus and focus on the cross. God has no favorites; He’ll do as much for us as He would for Paul if we meet the conditions. In fact, I believe He’ll do more because I believe we’re living in the harvest hour and I believe God is prepared to perform amazing miracles to reap the harvest. Well, we must move on. Now in the next verse, Paul gives his itinerary. I was so happy to see this because Ruth and I regularly send out communications in which we give people our itinerary and say, Please pray for us. We’ll be in Ridgecrest on such a date and then we’ll be wherever it may be. In Britain in July and August and so on, September. And I thought, you know, is that really scriptural? But here’s Paul’s itinerary, it really blessed me when I saw that. Let me just show you, I’ll go through it very quickly.
Verse 22: For this reason I have often been hindered from coming to you in Rome but now, with no further place for me in these regions That’s a remarkable statement. I’ve reached everybody between Jerusalem and Rome. So, the next step is Rome. but now, with no further place for me in these regions, and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you whenever I go to Spain for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia that’s the Christians in those places have been pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints [the believers] in Jerusalem. Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things they are indebted to minister to them also in material things. Therefore, when I have finished this, and have put my seal on this fruit of theirs, I will go on by way of you to Spain.
So he said, At present, I’m in Corinth which was where the epistle was written I'm going to Jerusalem , I'm going to deliver up the money that they’ve offered, make sure the right people get the money, and then I’m going to go to Spain. But on the way to Spain I’ll stop off and see you in Rome. And then he says: and this is a good statement if you think of the historical background I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ. So here’s Paul. He flies in by superjet to Rome airport and there’s a limousine to meet him and he’s taken to the air-conditioned hotel in preparation for the air-conditioned auditorium. Is that the way it happened? He said, I know I will come in the fullness of the blessing. He came as a prisoner in chains, having had a pretty harrowing journey in which they’d been 14 days in a storm without seeing the sun, the moon or the stars. Landed on an island, wrecked.
The first thing that happened I always love this Paul was out there gathering wood. You know, he didn’t stand around and say, I’m the apostle, you people need to get the wood together. He was out there gathering wood and what happened? A viper fastened on his hand. Well, that’s the final; they say that’s the last straw that will break the camel’s back. But Paul just shook it off into the fire. Continuing, the people gazed at him; they expected to see him drop dead. And they said in their thinking, This man must be a murderer. He escaped the vengeance of the sea but God has got him through the viper. But when he didn’t, they said, Well, this man is different. And the whole island came together and they had a revival on the island of Malta. He did come in the fullness of the blessing of God but he didn’t come as a super apostle, he came as a very humble servant of Jesus Christ. And he prayed.
If you go back to Romans 1:10, he prayed to have a prosperous journey by the will of God to Rome. So how did God answer? He went as a prisoner in chains through a 14 day storm and a shipwreck. But it was a prosperous journey. Why? Because God’s purposes were accomplished. 278 persons on that ship saw the miracle working power of God. They saw God who answers the prayer of a man and they knew that they were alive because of that man. It’s very interesting, because at the beginning of that journey the Roman Centurion and the captain of the ship were the people that gave the orders. By the end, it was Paul. He said, Now, do this. Now do that. If you do that, you’ll all perish. That’s what I call promotion! Promotion God’s way. Like Joseph got promoted.
So, if you are languishing in a jail right now, you don’t have to live there forever. God can promote you. Just one step from the jail to the highest office in the kingdom in the purposes of God. Whom does He exalt? The humble, that’s right. Listen, if you want to go up, you know the way. Go down, that’s right. I’ve got a series of messages which says the way up is down. The lower down you go, the higher God will lift you. That’s a guaranteed promise. Whoever exalts himself will be abased. But whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Do you want to be exalted? It’s a written guarantee from God. Don’t object when God puts you through humiliating situations. Just recognize this is the pathway to promotion. Well, I could share from personal experience but I’m not going to.
Let’s go on, we are in chapter 15, verse 30. Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea or unbelieving is the alternative translation and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints; so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company. I want to pick out one particular phrase there in verse 30, that you will strive together with me in your prayers to God for me. The word strive is the word from which we get agonizing in modern English. It’s the word that’s used of a contest in the Olympic Games. And I want to present a challenge to intercessors.
Do you know what it is to strive, to agonize, to go through a conflict on behalf of a servant of God? Ruth and I are very, very conscious but, really, the success and extent of our ministry depends mainly on the intercessors who uphold us. And this is dramatic in Paul’s case because he prayed that he might be preserved from the disobedient in Jerusalem. You read Acts 21 through 28, it’s the story of how he had to be preserved. Two or three times there were specific attempts to kill him. He was subject to mob violence. He was rescued at the last minute by a Roman Centurion. The difference between life and death for Paul depended on the prayers of God’s people. If they had not done what he said and striven together, he would never have made it to Rome.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of intercession and accomplishing the purposes of God. There is no higher ministry than that of intercession. And the problem is many people who are called to intercession don’t feel they’re doing enough because they’re not out front, they’re not on a platform. And they kind of give up the ministry. Don’t do it. God needs you. The servants of God in the ministry need you. Intercessors, be willing to strive together, to fight, to wrestle with the powers that seek to destroy men in the ministry and movements. The ultimate victory cannot be won without intercession. And then we get that beautiful phrase at the end of this chapter: Now the God of peace be with you all. What a wonderful ending to a somewhat stormy chapter.
Now the God of peace be with you all. And if you look in your outline, there are seven places in the New Testament. We won’t turn there because time is running out, but there are seven places in the New Testament where God is called the God of peace. And if you know or if you can enter into the meaning of that word in Hebrew, shalom—you all know that shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. It’s the Hebrew greeting. But it’s much more than what we understand by peace in English. It’s related to a word that means completeness or perfection. I’ve written certain words down there. Harmony, wholeness, completeness, every account settled. The verb that’s formed from it means to pay in full.
And if you...this is so vivid to me, we had a man come to do some carpentry work in our house in Jerusalem. He gave me the bill, I gave him a check. I said, I want a receipt. He wrote on the bill in Hebrew Shulam, paid. And that’s why we can have completeness, because it’s been paid for. Fully paid. Everything paid up in full and we can be totally complete in Jesus Christ. That’s peace. Now we’re going to go into the next chapter. And, of course we don’t have time to go through it in detail, and it isn't necessary. This is a chapter mainly of personal greetings. Some people have questioned whether it really should be part of Romans. But I think it’s totally part of Romans because God doesn’t just give us lectures and say, Now personal relationships are important He demonstrates.
So after all this wonderful theology, Paul spends one chapter practically just greeting people by name. That’s a much more vivid way of saying personal relationships matter. It’s not all just up there in the theoretical realm in the realm of doctrine, it’s got to be lived out and worked out in personal relationships. I made a little kind of outline here which I’ll just look at with you. There were 36 individuals in this chapter that Paul mentions. And all but two of them by name. Those who were associated with Paul in ministry. Phoebe. Phoebe was the sister that carried the letter to Rome. She was a servant of the church, a deaconess of the church in Chenchrea. That’s in the Peloponese.
Think of Phoebe as not being faithful. We’d have never had the epistle to the Romans. God trusted one little woman with the supreme task of getting this letter. You have to remember there was no postal service. Every letter demanded a person to take it. You think how many letters there are in the New Testament, you see how much importance they attach to communication with one another. I tell some people if the New Testament Christians hadn’t been better letter writers than some of us, we would have never had the whole of the New Testament. I wonder whether this is an area in which you need to check up. I say this with caution, but Ruth and I have a principle that we never receive anything by way of encouragement or contribution from people without it being acknowledged.
Obviously, we cannot do it all personally, though we do as much as we can. I was brought up with that. I think that’s one of the things I can thank God for. I never receive anything from anybody; never visit a home without writing a personal letter of thank you. So, I think that’s a New Testament principle. I think also it builds personal relationships. It takes time and it takes thoroughness to build personal relationships. It’s the little things that build the relationships.
Alright. Let’s go on. Phoebe. Prisca, Aquila, two of Paul’s long-time friends who’d been in all sorts of trouble with him. You know, there’s something about being in trouble with people. It builds a relationship. I think of John Wesley, one of his preachers had been accused of immorality. And he said, Well, I remember the time when he was with me on the platform and the stones were flying past us. Because they threw stones at Wesley many times. He didn’t deny the charge but he had an association that gave him a different attitude toward the person. Well, then we go on. I’m so near the end. There was relatives of Paul, heads of households. And two people picked out as hard workers.
Isn’t that just typical of Paul? He could remember the women who worked hard. Do women work hard? I think they do. Usually they work harder than men, most times. And then the list of people referred to elsewhere. And then in verses 17–19, a warning against those who peddle false teaching for the sake of personal gain. And then this remarkable promise in Romans 16:20: The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. We looked at the fact that the Roman church in three centuries defeated the Roman Empire. Without, as I said, without all the apparatus of modern technology and media and propaganda. They just dethroned one of the most powerful empires in human history. But I believe it’s a promise also to the end time church, because the feet are the lowest and the last.
And I believe that Satan is going to be crushed beneath the feet of the church of Jesus Christ before our feet finally take off for a better place. Let’s be encouraged. And then there’s this wonderful closing, in a way, doxology in verses 25–26: Now to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel [notice that, my gospel] and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past. Isn’t that exciting that God lets us into a secret that previous ages and generations have never been allowed to know! but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, for obedience of faith That’s the message we have. What a privilege to receive it and what a privilege to proclaim it. Do you agree to that? Say amen, that’s right. Bless you.