Derek Prince - The Importance of a Personal Encounter with Christ
I’d like to read therefore, first of all, the account of the Resurrection Sunday first appearance of Jesus to His disciples in a group as it’s recorded in John 20, reading from verse 9... John chapter 20 from verse 19 through verse 22. All right, John 20:19-22: Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week... You know, of course, that the first day of the week is what we call Sunday. The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, Sunday is the beginning of a new week. In Hebrew it’s called yom reshon, the first day.
So, Hebrew is actually much more faithful to the Bible in its titles for the days of the week than we are. Regrettably, our days of the week in English, and in most European languages, are named after pagan deities. Like Wednesday is Woden’s day. Thursday is Thor’s day. Sunday is the day of the sun, you understand? It’s a regrettable fact that we are very pagan in the way we define the days of the week. Whereas in Hebrew it’s day one, day two, day three, day four, day five, day six. Then day seven is shabbat, the Sabbath, and then Sunday is yom reshon.
If you live, for instance, as we do in Jerusalem, the busiest day of the week is Sunday. Everything takes off. They’ve been resting on the Sabbath and then everybody gets going the first day of the week. And most or many congregations of believers in Israel hold their worship services on Saturday because Sunday is a day of work. You understand? That’s just by the way but as I say, there’s no extra charge for that!
So, going back to verse 19: ... being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them, "Peace be with you". Now when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Why did he do that? To convince them they were looking at the same body that they had seen pierced on the cross. Gloriously transformed but still the same body. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. I always thought, that was an understatement. Then Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you". And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit".
Now, I want to comment on that last verse that I read. The word that’s translated breathed in secular language is used of a flute player blowing into the mouthpiece of his instrument to produce music. The suggestion to me is not that Jesus stood at a distance and breathed at them collectively but that he breathed into each of them, and as he did so, said, "Receive the Holy Spirit". The Greek language is very sensitive about tenses. There’s more than one tense of the imperative. And this particular tense indicates that they were to receive when he said the words.
So at that time, each of those disciples received the Holy Spirit. There’s no question about that. What was the implication of that? My understanding is that at that point they passed from Old Testament salvation to New Testament salvation. You understand, there were people who were saved in the Old Testament. They were saved through faith in a sacrifice that had not yet been offered but was promised through prophecies and types. So, their faith looked forward to something incomplete. But in the New Testament, we are saved through faith in sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross which is historically accomplished. When Jesus died, He said, "It is finished". We look back to a finished work.
Now, in order to experience New Testament salvation, Paul says there are two things that are needed. In Romans 10:9: If thou shall confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. So, for New Testament salvation there are two requirements. You confess Jesus as Lord and you believe that God has raised Him from the dead. Well, those disciples had already confessed Jesus as Lord but this was the first moment that they believed that God had raised Him from the dead. They passed out of the Old Testament dispensation into the New Testament dispensation. And, it’s a pattern. And it happened to them through encountering the resurrected Christ face to face, and through receiving from Him the inbreathed Spirit.
Now, the word in Greek for spirit, pneuma, is also the word for wind and for breath. So when He breathed into them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit," he was saying receive holy breath. It was a direct person to person transaction between them. They became part of the new creation. Your mind goes back to the first creation when God formed a body of clay there in the garden, in order to make him a living soul, what did He do? He breathed into him the breath of life and he became created, he became a living soul. The new creation follows the same pattern but it’s not the Lord in the garden, it’s the resurrected Savior who has passed through death and come out of the tomb and who breathes into His disciples a life that is totally victorious. It’s a life that has conquered sin and Satan and death and the grave. That’s the inbreathed breath of the resurrected Savior.
I personally believe that it’s a pattern for everybody who is to enter into new salvation. I don’t believe you can be saved without meeting Jesus. I don’t mean that you meet Him visibly as the disciples did, but I don’t believe there’s any way into the true church of Jesus Christ except Jesus. He said, "I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved". So, I believe this is a pattern for the new birth for every person. We have to meet Jesus. Not just believe a doctrine or join a church, but have a personal encounter with the resurrected Christ and receive from Him the inbreathed breath of God which is the Holy Spirit, and become a new creation. We pass from death to life.
I remember when I met Jesus face to face (not visibly but face to face) in an Army barrack room in the British Army in World War II. I didn’t have any doctrinal knowledge of salvation. I couldn’t say I was born again, I didn’t know what you had to do to be saved but believe me, I was saved. Later on I got the doctrine but I had met Jesus. I just want to tell you, dear friends, that you cannot meet Jesus and stay the same. You can join a church and remain unchanged. You can believe all sorts of things with your head and remain unchanged. But when you meet the resurrected Christ, it’s transforming. And, it’s permanent.
That’s 45 years ago, that’s stood the test of time. There was nothing in it of doctrine for me. Really, there wasn’t for the disciples. They didn’t have a sudden scriptural revelation, they met Jesus and they received the Holy Spirit. Divine, eternal, resurrection life. Incorruptible life, life that’s undefeatable. John says later about that, "Whoever is born of God overcomes the world". You can’t be defeated with that life in you, it’s undefeatable. It’s conquered all evil. It’s supreme. That’s wonderful.