Derek Prince - Lord, Be Sure My Tears Are In Your Bottle
We're turning to Hebrews 10:32 and we'll go to the end of the chapter. I think perhaps I will just translate that far and then we'll go back through our note outline. You'll find the note outline will be on your typewritten notes on Page 10/4. We did look at part of this passage last week but it's good to take the passage as a whole. As indicated in your note outline this is the fifth passage of practical application in the epistle and the practical application is summed up in two words, remember and endure. Essentially, remember means looking back and endure comes as we look forward.
But remember the former days, in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly through reproaches and afflictions, being made a spectacle, and partly as having been made partakers with those who were thus treated. For you had sympathy for the people in chains [or the prisoners], and you received the seizure of your goods with joy, knowing that you yourselves have a better and an abiding possession. Therefore [and that's important], do not cast away your strong confidence [that's a word we've looked at many times], which has a great reward to follow.
For you have need of endurance [or perseverance], that having done the will of God, you may receive the promise. For yet in a just a little while, the coming one will come, and will not delay. And my righteous one will live on the basis of his faith [out of faith]; Rather than by faith if you want to be knit pickign and if he draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we [and the emphasis is on the "we"] are not of drawing back to destruction, but of faith [or of believing] to the preservation of the soul. There's some very solemn words in that passage.
Let's just go back and look through them following the note outline. The notes on verses 32–34, I make the comment that "enlightenment leads to testing". And last time we turned to the reference in Acts 14:22 where Paul and Barnabas reminded new believers that they must, through many afflictions, enter the kingdom of God. There is no way that leads into the kingdom of God that bypasses afflictions. So you might as well make up your mind about that. If you want to get into the kingdom of God you are going to experience afflictions at some time or another. The worst thing that can happen is that you can experience the afflictions, and think you're out of the will of God because you're experiencing afflictions.
I have met many unfortunate people like that. I met a lady a little while back, and I have to be careful how I describe the situation, but a leader in her particular congregation. This brother had been killed instantly in an air crash. She came to me with her children and said, "What am I to tell the children? They just can't take it". I really found it difficult to counsel her because I felt she'd been, so wrongly prepared for life. She'd been given the impression that if you become a Christian, that's the end of your tests and your sufferings. It certainly is not true.
I think history confirms that many of the greatest saints have suffered the most. I've said to people many times, "There are some verses in the Bible that I can't read with real conviction up till now". And one of them is in Philippians 3 where it says, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection". I get fine through that part but you know what the next one is? "The fellowship of His sufferings". Now, Paul was ambitious to know the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. Well, I think I'm nearer to being there than I was, but I haven't really arrived. That's a pretty good test of your commitment. Not merely your commitment, but your intimacy with the Lord.
One thing that made it very vivid to me, and I've shared this with some people before, was when the Lord called my first wife home here in Fort Lauderdale in 1975 after we had had a good, and happy marriage for 30 years. I had a preaching engagement elsewhere the weekend the Lord called her home. But the Holy Spirit checked both me and my brothers that I should not leave. And actually, she went to be with the Lord that Sunday and I and my daughters that were living here, I think five of them at that time, were all able to be with her till the Lord took her home. I've always been so grateful to God that He enabled me to be with her at that critical hour.
I would have felt so sorry and frustrated if I hadn't been able to stand by her at that particular moment and, as it were, usher her into the presence of the Great Shepherd. That taught me a lesson: That if you really love somebody you don't want them to suffer alone. We, I think, sometimes forget that Jesus, in a certain sense, is still suffering. His atonement is complete, but He's deeply committed to what's happening to His people on earth. When He arrested Paul on the road to Damascus, He said, "Saul, why are you persecuting Me"? He didn't say, "Why are you persecuting My church". He said, "Why are you persecuting Me"?
We have to understand that Jesus suffers with His church. I've just completed a book on the psalms and, of course, quite a number of the things in the book are fresh in my mind because I've been correcting the proofs and going through it. One of the things that David said was, "LORD, put my tears in Your bottle". And I've got one of the meditations on that. David saw his tears as very precious. He said, "Lord, I don't want to waste a single tear, because one day every tear is going to be the theme of glory. So Lord, please keep every one in Your bottle. Don't let me arrive in heaven and find that some of my tears didn't make it".
That's a very different attitude from what I find in contemporary American Christianity. I'm not saying that to be critical, I'm simply saying the attitude of contemporary American Christians tends to be very incomplete. It's not so much wrong as incomplete. When I look back over my own mistakes and errors in the past, of which there have been sufficient, I came to this conclusion: It wasn't so much that I was wrong in my opinion as that I was incomplete. And that wouldn't have mattered so much but when I got into trouble was when I thought my incomplete opinions were complete.
That's when I really began to make mistakes. I don't think any of us have all the truth. The only thing that will create problems for us is if we begin to think and act as if we did have all the truth. You'll find in the hymns that were popular in the church, many of them the greatest hymns, up to the beginning of this century, or even a little further, there's never a verse that doesn't speak about death. There are good reasons for that. A mother would give birth to maybe a dozen children and three would die in infancy. That was pretty normal. All the people of that time were confronted with the fact that death is real.
I want to tell you, death is still real. We've done all sorts of things to veil it. We don't talk about "undertakers" now, we talk about "rest parlors". We don't talk about "cemeteries," we've got nice names. But the names don't change the realities. Many, many Christians in many other parts of the world are still facing those ugly realities of suffering, persecution, early death, inadequate medical facilities. That's the lot of the majority of the human race. Charles Simpson once said that America is a kind of "white ghetto". I don't know if most of you realize how true that is. Brother Ed Vardsen, who spoke two Sundays ago, Some of you heard him. Said America has five percent of the world's population and spends 95 percent of Christian finance.
So that gives you some idea. I say that, and I didn't plan to say any of this, because I think most of us are going to have to adjust our attitude to suffering. There's a little book by Paul Bilheimer, (let me say I get no income from the book), but it's called Don't Waste Your Sorrows. I recommend it unless you're dealing with somebody you're trying to give faith to recover from cancer, and then I would keep the book away from them. But for most Charismatics it's a very, very timely book.
When I look back on my own experience, I really think I can say what David said, "Lord, be sure my tears are in Your bottle," because they are some of the richest parts of my Christian experience. When you are enlightened, you're going to run into conflict. The two will follow one another. Every time you get a new revelation or a new understanding, you think, "It's wonderful. Now I've got the answer"! It's like when John was given the little book to eat on the Isle of Patmos by the angel. It was sweet in his mouth, but bitter in his belly. When it got down to the process of digestion, it became bitter.
When I came into the ministry of deliverance in 1963 I knew I'd found the answer to all the unsolved problems of Pentecostal people. The only problem was the Pentecostal people didn't see it that way! I was never so shocked in my life as I was by their reaction at that time. Praise God, I got over it, and they're still my friends. But I got enlightenment, believe me, I got affliction. So, you want enlightenment? As Charles says, "Fasten your seatbelts". You can have it, but there'll be turbulence ahead. Let's go on to the outline, the middle of Page 10/4, verses 35–36. It says the application of what has come in the previous verses because it begins with a "therefore". That's verse 35 we're looking at.
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. I've told you many times when you find a "therefore," you want to stop and find out what it's there for. So that follows on the previous verses. Do not throw away the shield of confidence. I believe that's a metaphor from the culture of the day. In Greek and Roman civilization one essential part of every soldier's equipment was his shield. And the ultimate disgrace for a soldier ;was to throw away his shield. The wives and the mothers of the Spartans preferred to see their dead man carried back on his shield than the live man come back without his shield. So the writer is saying, "Don't disgrace your captain. Don't be a bad soldier. Don't come back alive without your shield. Hold on to your shield. Don't let it go. Your shield," he says, "is this word confidence or strong confidence".
It's the same word we've looked at many times. It included freedom of speech. It's not simply believing quietly, it's believing and declaring boldly. Ruth and I have been reading Acts and I thought you'd be interested to see a place in Acts where the word is used because it's very vivid. Turn to Acts 4:13. We just need to look at the first part of the verse. Now as they [that's the Jewish leaders] observed the confidence of Peter and John... That's the same word. And then a little later on in verse 19: Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard".
That's confidence. That's the freedom of speech. And one of the things that the enemy would be most happy to do is to take away the freedom of your testimony and the confession of your faith. Don't let him silence you. Maintain that confidence; don't cast away the shield. Then, returning to our outline, receiving God's promise is conditional upon endurance. Verse 36 is an important verse. You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. The implication is, you don't immediately receive the promises as soon as you've done the will of God.
There is a period of waiting and nobody knows how long that period will be. If the Lord will tell you, "You've got to wait six months for the answer to your prayer," that wouldn't really be too difficult. But the Lord says, "Wait," and He doesn't say whether it's six weeks, six months or six years. What do you need? Endurance, that's right. I have a tape message on endurance; I'm not particularly disposed to recommend it, but it has blessed many, many people. Myself included! When I listen to myself on the radio nowadays I'm almost always preaching to myself. It's uncanny. I mean, Ruth and I turn, and look at one another in the morning. How did whoever it was know that that's what we'd need that particular morning?
So bear that in mind. It's not simply faith that gets you the promise; it's faith and endurance. See, again, many people are wrongly instructed. "Well, I did what God said, and nothing happened"! Lots of people have had that experience before; you're not the first. What do you have to do? Hold on, maintain your confidence; keep saying the right thing. I think a key word there is the word trust. You might keep your finger in Hebrews 10 and turn to Psalm 37:5 for a moment. Psalm 37:5 A familiar verse, I'm sure, to many. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it. Commit is the single act; trust is the ongoing attitude.
Endurance comes out of trusting. Once you've committed, you don't have to keep committing. In fact, if you have to keep committing it's questionable whether you ever did commit. Once you've committed, what do you do? You go on trusting. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, all through the week, all through the month, all through the year till God's time. You can turn back, if you'd like, to the example of Abraham. He waited 25 years for the fulfillment of God's promise. Some of us have had to wait longer than that for some things. Time is one of God's secrets and He very rarely divulges it. The book of Revelation calls time "a mystery," and it is a mystery. Philosophically, it's a mystery. Philosophers have never resolved the problems of time. This is another of my selections from my book, David said "My times are in Thy hands".
God has control of time. He doesn't put it in our hands, it's in His hands. It's good, because most of us are rather impatient. I remember a little boy in Ireland years back, six years old, a cousin of mine. He went out and planted some potatoes. They didn't grow in a week, so he went out and dug them up to see if they were growing. Then he did it a week later, and there never were any potatoes. A lot of Christians go out and dig up their potatoes and see if they're growing. Well, that prevents them growing.
We go on to verses 37–38. This is a quotation from Habakkuk. This English say Habakkuk because the English... There's no extra charge for this and I'm English so I can say it. The English had the theory that if other nations had known how the English would pronounce words, they would've pronounced it that way. They bend for nobody. So Habakkuk. Havakkuk in Hebrew. This is the quotation: We probably should turn to the passage quoted which is in Habakkuk 2:3–4. If you don't know where to find Habakkuk, find Nahum, I think it's after that. If you don't know where to find Nahum, I think it's after, I'm not quite sure what it's after! Anyhow, in the New American Standard it's page 1307! Habakkuk 2:3–4: "For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail".
See, there's the lesson of patience. You've had the vision, the time is appointed. But who knows the time? The Lord. "Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay". Now, you'll notice that in the quotation we have in Hebrews, it's not "it" but "he". "Though he tarry, wait for him; for he will certainly come, he will not delay". In Hebrew it could be either. This version interprets it not waiting for it but waiting for him. One of the titles of the Messiah in the time of Jesus was "The Coming One". So it's saying The Coming One will come, He will not tarry, He will not be late. Wait for Him. Which, I think, in some ways makes it more vivid.
Then we get the next verse, and this half verse in Habakkuk, of all people, is quoted three times in the New Testament; in Romans, Galatians and Hebrews. Which goes to prove that it doesn't have to be one of the major prophets; it doesn't have to be a long verse but anything anywhere in the Bible is important and authoritative. Even if you can't pronounce the name! Verse 4: "Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him..." The Hebrew is very condensed, it's very hard to render into English. "But the righteous will live by his faith". Notice there's a "but" in the English.
What is faith contrasted with? The word but indicates contrast. Pride, that's right. Pride and faith are opposites. You'll not find anywhere in the Bible that a proud person had the kind of faith that God required. There are two people in the ministry of Jesus that He commended particularly for their faith. Both were Gentiles. One was a centurion, one was a Syro-Phoenician woman. The centurion said, "I'm not fit that you should come under my roof". The Syro-Phoenician woman said, "Lord, I'm just a dog, but all I need is a crumb". Great faith goes with unusual humility. The moment we become arrogant and proud, self-sufficient, knowing all the answers, we don't have biblical faith any longer. You can check all the way through the Bible.
Faith and humility go together. The essence of faith is humility: "Lord, I can't handle this. You're the one that's going to have to do it". But when you walk up to your problem with your spiritual muscles bulging, and say, "This is an easy one," look out. It won't be that way. We could look at the two passages where this is quoted in Romans 1:16–17. Romans 1:16–17: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God, for salvation to every one who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Notice Paul is talking about the gospel. Verse 17: In it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, [and now he's quoting Habakkuk:] "But the righteous man shall live by faith". What impresses me there are so many things that impress me, but what particularly impresses me at this moment is when Paul presents the gospel, the word faith appears three times in one short verse. From faith to faith by faith. The gospel is totally inoperant without faith. It just doesn't do anything. And it must be communicated from faith to faith. I have noticed the men whose ministries are the most effective are very often not the greatest preachers. But they're the people who have faith.
I sometimes argued with God why He would use certain people, and I'm not going to tell you any of the people I argued with God about. But the answer I always get is, "He believes Me. I can't find many who do". It's my aim to believe God. I want God to hear that. Lord, it's my aim to believe You. It really is. The longer I live, the more I see how important faith is. We're coming to a chapter which has got a lot to say about faith. We won't get very far into it but we will get there, I really believe.
The next one is Galatians 3, the other place where this passage from Habakkuk is quoted. Galatians 3:11–12. Galatians 3:11–12: Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, "The righteous man shall live by faith". And when Paul says by faith, he means your righteousness is not based on the observance of the Law. And then he says the alternative is keeping the Law. He says: However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, "He who practices them shall live by them". You can keep the entire law and you don't need faith. But if you can't keep the entire law then the only alternative is faith. Faith and Law, in a certain sense, are opposites. Those who seek to be justified by the Law are not living out of faith.
This is one of the major themes of the New Testament and one that's extremely neglected in contemporary teaching. It's not my purpose to go into it tonight because if I did I'd never get out again. But let me just point that out to you. We go back to our outline We go back to the text, Hebrews 10:37. "For yet in a very little while, he who is coming will come, and will not delay". Notice what I said. It's not "it" here but "He", He, The Coming One. There are two passages where Jesus is called or referred to as The Coming One in the gospels; we might look at them both.
Matthew 11:3. We have to read verse 2 to get the context. Now when John in prison heard the words of Christ, he sent word by his disciples, and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or shall we look for someone else"? That's how it's actually translated in the New American Standard. And in my text it's in capitals. "Are you the Coming One"? That's a title of Messiah. Just as the phrase "Son of Man" was a recognized title of Messiah. Every time Jesus said "Son of Man" He's saying, "I'm the Messiah". No religious Jew of His day would have any doubt. The Aramaic is "Bar 'ěnoš", which is the standard phrase for the Messiah. Though in some cases Jesus didn't use the title "Messiah," though He did in some, when He used the title "Son of Man" there was no doubt in the minds of His audience what He was saying.
Likewise, the Coming One. The other place where this is used is John 11:27. Jesus is talking to Martha outside the tomb of Lazarus. He said to her, "Do you believe this"? She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world". But it would be better to translate it "the Coming One". So when it says, "The Coming One will come," that's talking about the Messiah. I think we can finish this chapter if we go really, well, I'm not sure.
Going on, verse 38: "But My righteous one shall live by faith..." But it's "out of faith" in Greek. Romans 14:21 says whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Whatever does not proceed out of faith is sin. So to live a righteous life you have to live out of faith. Everything you do has to proceed out of faith. There is no other basis of righteousness. And now look carefully at verse 38, it's very important. "But My righteous one shall live by faith [and it's the Lord that's speaking]; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him".
Notice it's the same person. I don't want to be controversial, but, you see, the King James, which most of us have lived by, says "If any man shrinks back". But that's not what it says. It says, "If he shrinks back," if "My righteous one shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him". I mean, this is a theological controversy, but here are the actual words. Whatever theology we have has got to fit in with what the Bible says. Just as it said a little earlier in that chapter, "It is impossible for one who has been sanctified by the blood of Jesus, if he turns away, to renew him again".
We come to this very, very solemn point that I emphasized last time, and it seems that the Holy Spirit wants me to reemphasize. Hold on to your faith. Don't ever deny the Lord. You may be a little bit weak, you may have your failings, the Lord will take care of that. But never go back on your confession of faith in Him. That's the step that's disastrous. Now let's look at verse 39. I'm going to give you my translation. I think in the margine here... yes. The marginal translation that's given in the New American Standard is more literal. But we are not of shrinking back to destruction, but of faith [I prefer to say believing] to the preserving of the soul.
And again, you'll notice there's only two options. You either go on and save your soul or you shrink back and are lost. That's what it says. I've just completed a radio series about learning to think God's way. In part of it I was thinking in God's categories because you can never really agree with a person if you don't think in the same categories that they think in. For instance, a colorblind person gets confused because he can't tell the difference between red and green. You say red to him, and he picks up green. See? He doesn't see the way we see.
So I was analyzing God's categories as revealed in the New Testament. I discovered they're very simple, the basic ones. The primary division of the human race is between he that believes, and he that believes not. He that believes has eternal life. He that believes not shall be condemned. "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes shall be saved. He who does not believe shall be condemned".
There isn't any third category. Then I looked in 1 John which has got the most wonderful selection of God's categories. They're all simple. Light and darkness, sin and righteousness, love and hate, truth and lie, and so on. See, contemporary morality has confused a lot of people because it's blurred the issue. Second Corinthians 5:10 says we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things done in the body, whether they be good or bad. No third possibility. Here it says, "We are not of those who draw back to destruction, but are those who continue to believe to salvation". There's no third option.
And notice, the people who draw back do it out of fear. They shrink back. Let's look at one other Scripture and we close. Revelation 21:8. Verse 7: "He who overcomes shall inherit these things..." That's one kind of person, he who overcomes. Verse 8: "But the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers, and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone..." That's the other kind. There's no third category. There's no such thing as "half overcoming". Really. Romans 12:21, "Be not overcome by evil but overcome evil with good". There is no third category. That's an invention of Satan, this third category which leaves us an option that God hasn't given him.