Derek Prince - Remember Those Who Are ill-Treated
We'll move on to chapter 13 and in your outline it says of the first 25 verses in that chapter: This is the seventh passage of practical application. That indicates there have been six before, this is the last one. In regard to each passage I've stated in simple outline what is the practical application. We could look at them just very briefly, I think it will do us good to refresh our minds. The first was confident access to God. The second was to go on to maturity or perfection. The third was the need for zeal, faith and patience. The fourth was to draw near to God, hold fast, assemble and encourage one another. The fifth was to remember and endure. The sixth was to press on, endure discipline, be strong, pursue peace and holiness.
Now we come to the last. The practical application in these 25 verses as I've summarized it very briefly is love, holiness, submissiveness and prayer. You could be much more extensive but that's just a brief picture. Now we'll take chapter 13:1. It's a very short verse. In fact, in Greek its only got three words. Let love of the brothers continue. Somebody said simply once, "When did it ever start"? At any rate, in the early church it had started; it was there and the writer says let it continue. We'll look at the comments in your outline on verse 1. This is the primary practical application of all New Testament truth. We need to bear that in mind continually. The first requirement of all Christians is to love our fellow believers. And if we ever let that become secondary, we're out of line with God's purposes.
I'll just give you two Scriptures to look at in that connection. John 13:34–35. John 13:34–35. Jesus says: "A new commandment I give to you..." Moses gave the children of Israel Ten Commandments, Judaism has 613 commandments; Jesus says, "I'll make it easier, I'll just give you one new commandment". "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you also have love one for another". It's vain to talk about discipleship or preach elaborate sermons on it if we miss out this first elementary requirement. And anybody who sees Christians not loving one another has an absolute right given them by the Lord Himself to say they are not His disciples. We're not going to dwell on this, but this is primary and you notice in this final passage of application it's the first application.
The other passage that I suggest you look at for a moment is 1 Timothy 1:5. I particularly like the New American Standard translation of this particular verse. I think it's caught the real essence of it. 1 Timothy 1:5: But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. That's very important. The goal, the goal of our instruction is love. The thing we're really aiming at in all our teaching and preaching and ministry is summed up in one word: love. If we don't achieve that, basically all our teaching and preaching is wasted effort. It's so important that those who lead congregations or have positions of responsibility in the body of Christ check their results by this standard. Am I producing loving people? Do I love the people, do they love me? Do they love one another? If not, I'm wasting my time. Paul states three requirements for this kind of love.
In verse 5 of 1 Timothy 1. A pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith. Elsewhere in that epistle he speaks about two false teachers who taught error about the resurrection and had made shipwreck of their faith because they hadn't retained a good conscience. See, your inner being, if you don't keep a good conscience, develops a crack. Out of that crack leaks the spiritual content of your life. So the three requirements, for maintaining love are a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith. Then Paul goes on to point out that those who stray from those objectives are just wasting their time, they're just making a lot of noise and accomplishing nothing significant. If all of us, and not least myself, really grasped that, the church would change overnight, believe me. A lot of religious activity would cease as of midnight tonight, to the great benefit of God's people.
I don't think I'm being cynical, I think anybody who is familiar with the church as it is in the world today would have to admit that basically that's the problem. Because it's only three words, let's not ignore it. Some of the most important things are said in short sentences. We go on now to verse 2. Hebrews 13:2: Do not forget hospitality [or to entertain strangers], for in this way [or through this] some entertained angels without knowing it. There's a possible prize in the sweepstakes. You don't know if you go on being hospitable, one day maybe an angel you'll be entertaining. I can't stop tonight, but I believe I've known believers who have entertained angels.
Let me make a few comments on hospitality. Hospitality is a vital Charismatic ministry. I put Charismatic in quotes because in 1 Peter 4:8–10 Peter actually uses the word charisma. I think a lot of people who call themselves Charismatic haven't realized this is part of what's involved in being charismatic. First Peter 4:8–10: Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Notice, the emphasis of this is love. Then one expression of love is in the next verse, verse 9: Be hospitable to one another without complaining [or without grumbling, I think is a little better. And then verse 10:] As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. That word "gift" is charisma. It's referring specifically to showing hospitality.
That is a charisma, it's a particular gift that God gives to some people. It's a very important gift. I'd like to give brief personal testimony. If somebody hadn't demonstrated that gift I think I would have never have come to know the Lord. The first time I ever went to a service where I heard the gospel preached, it was a Pentecostal service. I didn't know it; I didn't even know there were such people. I was age 24 at the time. I didn't even know there were Baptists! So, you can see. And... It was totally strange to me. I had grown up in the Anglican Church and I didn't know any other type of service. They did all sorts of things which offended my sensibilities. They had red hymnbooks, they clapped their hands, people read out verses, and they sang them twice over.
I think you've heard me tell this story, but when the preacher started to preach, he was one of these preachers who believes in demonstrating everything. He was conducting an imaginary dialogue between King Saul and the shepherd boy David. He pointed out, very scripturally, that King Saul was head and shoulders taller than the rest so in this dialogue when he was King Saul he stood on a bench at the end of the platform and looked down at where he'd been when he was David. Then he got down to be David and looked up at where he'd been on the bench. Well, I was following this carefully but when he was in the middle of an impassioned address as King Saul, the bench he was standing on collapsed and he fell to the platform with a loud thud!
Well, by the end of this I was personally somewhat confused, I have to say. I was also scared. I was afraid of what I was getting myself in for. And then they made what we would know as "the appeal". I'd never been in a church where anybody did an appeal. I was extremely embarrassed and indignant that anybody would ask me to put my hand up in front of a lot of people. I knew it was me he was talking to! I sat there in this stony silence, there was no background music, nothing but silence. The minutes were ticking away and I said, "Something's got to happen". There were two voices speaking to me inaudibly. One voice in my left ear said, "Now, if you put your hand up in front of all these old ladies, and you're a soldier in uniform, you're going to look very silly". At the same time the other voice was saying in the other ear, "If this is something good, why shouldn't you have it"? I could not respond; I was like a paralyzed person.
Then the most amazing and unexpected thing happened. I saw my own right arm go right up in the air and I knew I had not raised it. I was really scared! I thought, What has happened to me? The moment I put my arm up, that was all they where waiting for... They heaved a sigh of relief and continued with the rest of the service. Well, nobody counseled me, nobody spoke to me. All they did was get my arm up in the air. I would have probably walked out of that place and never gone back again but an elderly couple who kept a boarding house near the church invited these two soldiers, my friend and myself, back for supper. Because of that, the Lord was able to get a grip on me.
So, there's a very simple, personal example of the importance in the ministry of exercising this gift of hospitality. Let's just point out the writer of Hebrews says some entertained angels without knowing it. You can find examples both in Genesis 18 and 19. In chapter 18 Abraham was sitting at the door of his tent one day and three men appeared. With characteristic Middle East hospitality, he immediately invited them in and gave them the best that he had. And it turned out, subsequently, one of those men was the Lord Himself, the other two were angels. In Genesis 19 it's in Sodom and Lot has the two angels come. He doesn't have the Lord. The Lord didn't honor Sodom with His presence. Because Lot entertained the angels thinking they were strangers in need of hospitality, he was delivered from Sodom.
So, it's a very practical lesson. I think I'll tell you about one person who did, I believe, not exactly entertain an angel but had a contact with an angel. This very family that had invited me in, they had a daughter named Mary who was about 30 years old at the time and slightly simple. Not in any way embarrassingly so but just a little simple. As I fellowshipped with them over the course of some weeks, they would tell me some of their amazing stories of their experience with God. There was a time when the man of the house had a nervous breakdown and he was out of work for weeks. There was very little of Social Security in Britain in those days and they really had nothing to eat. They told me they lived on cocoa for days and even that ran out. Then Mary went out in the backyard in the back of the house, and there was a very well-dressed man.
This is before World War I, you understand, or 'round about that time. He was in a very good suit with a watch chain on his vest and as Mary walked out of the door he said, "Here is..." and he gave her a certain amount of money. Say, five shillings, which in those days was a lot of money. "Take that". She went back and they bought food and lived on it for quite awhile. Another day the man was there again, met her, gave her some more money. Then maybe this went on for quite a period. One day the man was there again and he said, "Here's some more money for you and after this you won't be needing any more from me". That was the last time she ever saw him. My personal conviction is that was an angel. It just interests me that he was rather well dressed. I think it was a gold watch chain across his vest. After all, angels have to be dressed in something, don't they? We're going on to 13:3. Verse 3. I don't know whether you've noticed already in these chapters how many times it says "remember" or "don't forget". One of the big problems is forgetfulness.
Now it said in verse 2, "don't forget" and in verse 3 it says "remember". Remember the prisoners, or those in bonds, as being bound with them, and those who are ill treated, as being yourselves also still in the body. That's another important application of the teaching that's gone ahead. I'll read my comments. We must identify with those who are imprisoned and persecuted, especially our fellow believers. And particularly today in the world where our fellow believers are under Marxist and Moslem governments. There are probably millions of such. I've given you there some Scriptures. Matthew 25:36–43. As I understand it, this, which is the last prophetic parable or utterance of Jesus before He went to His passion, last public one, relates to the period of the close of this age. He says to the ones whom He invited to share His kingdom, the sheep nations, I'm not going to relate the parable.
He says in verse 34: "Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world". Then He gives a number of reasons. He says: "I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me". Then the people He's addressing said, "Lord, when did we ever do that to You"? And He said, "When you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me". There's an example. Then verse 43 are the people who were rejected. The grounds of their rejection is they failed to do these things. "I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit".
So there's really no neutrality there, there's no room for indifference. Jesus said in another place, "He that is not with Me is against Me. He that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad". Gathering is doing these things, scattering is not doing them. Now, we can't do all of these things but as God indicates to each of us where He would have us follow these patterns, then we need to do them. There really is no shortage of that kind of people in the world today, believe me. If you're looking for an opportunity, you'll find it. Let's look also in Hebrews. We've already read this, but just let's look at it again. Hebrews 10:32–34, speaking about Jewish believers. Remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated.
Sometimes it doesn't fall to our lot but we are to share with those who are so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you had for yourself a better possession and an abiding one. And there's another passage that's not quoted in your outline but it came to me this evening in 2 Timothy 1:16–18. Here Paul is in prison awaiting probable execution and many of his old friends and associates have forsaken him. But, he kind of breaks off in the middle of the letter to remember one man who stuck with him named Onesiphorus. Verse 16: The Lord grant mercy to the house of Onesiphorus for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chains... He wasn't ashamed of me when I was in prison. ...but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me, and found me... I like those words, "and found me". He could have gone through the motions of searching and said, "Well, it's no good, I don't know where Paul is".
But he searched until he found him. This is Paul's comment: ...the Lord grant to him to find mercy from the Lord on that day, and you know very well what services he rendered at Ephesus. I've said many times, "The Lord usually does not step off His throne and confront us in person. He comes into our lives in various disguises". It may be in the disguise of a suffering prisoner or a sick child or who knows. But the way we respond to that needy person is reckoned as the way we respond to Him. Going on now in Hebrews 13. Let me just read the closing comment on verse 3. As long as we are in the body, we may find ourselves in the same situation. The point of phrase as being "yourselves also in the body". You may be the next one to need mercy. In the world today I think that could be true of anybody anywhere. Hebrews 13:4.
Now it comes to the subject of marriage. Marriage is honorable in all, and the marriage bed undefiled... Or, more probably it's an injunction. Let marriage be held honorable in all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. The application here is to the sanctity of marriage. We notice two words that are used and they can be translated differently but they have a specific basic meaning. Fornicator or fornication is immorality that does not involve the violation of the marriage covenant. Adultery is immorality that includes the violation of the marriage covenant. Therefore, God judges adultery more seriously than fornication. But, He judges all sexual immorality. That's a message we need to keep sounding because there's many, many people in the world today, and some in the church, who really believe that God smiles on sexual immorality.
Traveling around as I do in many churches, you'd be amazed at the number of instances of immorality in the church that I'm confronted with when I come to people and pray for them. It's a message that has to be continually sounded. God will judge immorality. There's no possibility that He will not do so. Now we go on to another important subject in verses 5 and 6, the subject of money. I'll translate them. How many of you believe money is unimportant? Well, generally speaking, people only say that in church. As soon as they get outside of church they act as though money was very important. Maybe people here attach no serious importance to money but it's the exception, it is not the rule. Personally, I believe money is important. First of all, I believe it's useful; we need it for a lot of things. Secondly, I think the attitude that we have toward money is very critical of determining what kind of people we are.
See, the Scripture says covetousness is idolatry. We can make an idol out of money. Many people, I think, do. Some of them, I think, are in the church. Not speaking about this church but "the church". So, we're going to read verses 5 and 6. It's very succinct in Greek, there's no verb "to be" here. I can't translate it to you that way, it doesn't make sense. Let your conduct be without covetousness [or without the love of money], being satisfied with what is available; for he himself has said, I will never leave you, nor will I ever abandon you, so we can boldly say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me"? So, once we have the assurance from the Lord that He will never leave us, nor abandon us, that's sufficient ground for being satisfied. We're somewhat insulting the Lord if we say, "Lord, I'm glad You're with me, but I want the assurance about this or that". God says, "My presence, in the last resort, is sufficient".
If you have that, that's what you need. I'd like you to look at a few Scriptures there. The first one is in 1 Timothy 6:10. 1 Timothy 6:10. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some, by longing for it, have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many a pang. The love of money is a root of all evils. Once we allow that into our lives, out of it will come all sorts of evils and temptations and pain. The remedy really is what I've already said. Seek first God's kingdom and all these things will be added to you. Get your priorities right. God knows we need those things, it's just a question of priorities. Then let's look at some assurance of the presence of the Lord.
Genesis 15:1. Genesis 15:1: After these things... And "these things" was a battle in which Abraham had to go out and deliver Lot. So he was probably in a condition where he was questioning where his security was. It says: After these things the word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision, saying, Do not fear, Abraham. I am a shield to you, and your very great reward. I prefer the alternative translation which is the one in the King James. "I am your shield and your great reward". In other words, when you have Me, you have protection, you have all you need. And then Joshua 1:5 which is the verse quoted in Hebrews. "No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will fail you or forsake you".
Again, the essential guarantee is the presence of the Lord in our lives. Then we could look at Psalm 23:1 for a moment, which is very familiar to most of us. Psalm 23: 1. I don't need to turn there. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want [or lack]. No other guarantee is needed except that I have the Lord. If I have the Lord, He takes care of all my needs. Then the one that's quoted from Psalm 118:6. Psalm 118: 6: The LORD is for me, I will not fear; what can man do to me? So that's the one thing we really need to know: the Lord is for us. There's no reason to fear. What can man do if God is for us? In Romans 8 Paul says, "If God is for us, who can be against us"?
Now we come to the next theme, practicl, which is verses 7 and 8, our attitude to our God-given leaders. I'll translate and then we'll make some comments. Remember those who lead you... I do not know why the New American Standard says "those who led you" because it's present tense. I think it might be just a typographical error, I don't know. Remember those who lead you, who have spoken to you the word of God; and beholding the outcome of their way of life, imitate their faith. The next verse: Jesus Christ yesterday and today the same, and forever. The essence of this exhortation is our attitude to our God-given leaders. This, too, must be right. It is stated in two verbs: remember and imitate.
What's included in remembering our leaders? I suggest three things: respect, prayer, financial support. Then imitate, follow their examples. But, we cannot ignore the next verse which is, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and forever". Their example, the outcome of their faith is Jesus Christ. That's why we're told to imitate them. In my next study I'll be looking at the requirements of leaders, the kind of leaders we are exhorted to follow. We are not exhorted to follow all pastors or clergymen or Christian workers. The Bible is very specific about the type of people that we are exhorted to follow. Their lives should point us to Jesus. We'll close this session here and continue, God willing.