FRESH OIL – The pouring out of the Holy Spirit in Power on the believer.

(Chapter 5 from Dr. Hyle’s excellent book, Meet The Holy Spirit) This is the same as the sermon FRESH OIL

A pastor requested that I bring my message on “Fresh Oil” to his people. I refused to do so using as an excuse that the sermon was more adapted to preachers rather than to laymen. After the service that night I returned to my room and the Holy Spirit began to convict me and rebuke me for limiting to preachers the doctrine about Himself. He reminded me that His fulness was for everybody, and He led me to reexamine Joel 2:28, 29, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My Spirit.” He especially pointed out to me that He would pour out His Spirit on all flesh. That would include our sons and daughters, our old men and young men and even servants and handmaids. I fell to my knees asking His forgiveness and promised Him that I would make the doctrine of His fulness as plain as I could so that young men and old men, sons and daughters, handmaids and servants could understand. This blessed truth is for the busy housewife who goes about her duties. It is for the mother who rocks the world in her lap. It is for the steel worker at the blast furnace. It is for the service station attendant who pumps gas. It is for the maid at the motel who cleans rooms. It is for everybody. So, in simple language, understandable by the layman and the clergy, I approach this vital truth.

First came the light. Then came the firmament. Then God lit the starry host of the nighttime. After that came the fist of the sea and then all the tribes of the animal kingdom. Now God was ready for man. He made man in his own image, and it was marvelous. Man walked in the garden of Eden fellowshipping with his Creator. They walked in splendor. Every tree that grew was pleasant to the eyes. Rivers flowed peaceably through verdant valleys. Every sound was a melody. Every scene was a delight. There was no war to unrest the beast. There was no sickness to cause a fear of death. The leaf never withered; the wind never chilled. No perspiration moistened the brow. No profanity cursed the ear. There was no weariness, no heat and no cold. No blossoms were smitten by a tempest. Man had not yet learned to sigh or weep. There was no withering frost to chill the rose. There was no shadow of guilt ever known. Choirs of birds serenaded man. It was wonderful!

Yet something was missing. There was no kindred creature on earth with whom man could share this beauty and this wonder. Then there she comes, dressed in all the beauty a human being could possess. Grace was in her step. Heaven was in her eye. Every gesture possessed dignity and love. Perfection was stamped upon her. The sons of God shouted for joy. The morning stars sang together, and Eden was transformed.

How wonderful it was! Man and woman, made for Him, sharing fellowship with God in Edonic splendor. They knew not the definition of sorrow. They had never seen a funeral. There were gardens of perpetual bloom, orchards that surrendered their fruit daily. No child was dying with leukemia. Garlands of flowers covered their path. Brows never furrowed, faces never wrinkled, hands were never palsied, the step was never offensive.

All the while the Lord Jesus was with the Father in Heaven. Torches flared as He walked the golden streets. Trumpets announced His every arrival. Demonstrations dogged His heels. Multitudes adored Him; worshipers bowed before Him. Angels ministered to Him. The planet sang His praises. All of the earth’s diamonds could not fill His scepter. All of earth’s gems could not fill His crown. He was always in the presence of the Father. The sun and the moon obeyed His voice, and the four living creatures sang His praises!

Then one day it happened! There were groans heard in Heaven because something tragic had happened on earth. God’s race had fallen. Ruin had blighted His creation. Now the winds howl, the serpents hiss, the brow furrows, the shoulder stoops, the hands tremble, the eyes grow weary, the mind grows dull, the hair turns gray. Sin had blighted the human race.

God’s mercy wanted restoration, but God’s justice would not allow it until the penalty was paid. The only was the inhabitants of earth could be salvaged for God was for the Lord Jesus Christ to go to earth. This He did. He fled to a virgin’s womb. There was no welcome for Him. The only open door to Him was a barn door. He was born in another man’s stable, ate at another man’s table rode another man’s beast, slept on another man’s pillow, cruised in another man’s boat and was buried in another man’s tomb.. He was King of kings, but He had no throne but a cross, He had no crown but a crown of thorns, He had no scepter but a walking stick, He had no royal robe but a borrowed coat from a soldier. He had no subjects but a jeering mob. He was despised and rejected of men. He was a man of sorrows; He was acquainted with grief. He bore our griefs, He carried our sorrows, He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. He was oppressed, He was afflicted, He made His grave with the wicked, He gave his soul an offering for sin, and worst of all, He became sin and stood before the judgment of God bearing the sins of the whole world! He was pronounced guilty by His Father, and on the cross He paid the penalty for the sins of mankind. He was buried and rose after three days and three nights. Now the message is complete. It is time to send that message out to a lost world. Twelve men are chosen to begin this task.

But there is still a problem! The message is unbelievable! Imagine twelve common men starting out to convince a world of unsaved people that Jesus was born of a virgin! Imagine how that will be received by the natural ear, the natural mind, and the natural heart! Imagine trying to convince a sinful world that Jesus lived for 33 years and never committed one sin! Imagine how difficult it would be to convince the world of the vicarious death and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!

So God made it possible for Someone to accompany these men Who could talk to people from within as these missionaries told the story from without. This One talking from within would be the Holy Spirit. God would make it possible for these preachers and missionaries to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that while they preached the message from without, the Holy Spirit would convince the listeners from within that the message is true.

For example, a preacher who is filled with the Holy Spirit stands in his pulpit and preaches. While he is preaching the truth, a voice talks from within to the congregation saying, “That’s right! What the preacher says is true. Jesus was born of a virgin. He did live a sinless life. He did die on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins. He did rise again after three days and three nights. He did ascend back to the Father. He is at the right hand of the Father interceding even now. He is coming again.” The preacher keeps preaching. He says that those who accept Christ go to Heaven. From within the Holy Spirit says “He’s right. He’s right. Listen to him. He’s telling you the truth.” the preacher preaches about Hell and judgment. The Holy Spirit from within says, “He’s right. Believe him. He’s telling you the truth. Listen to what he says.” Ah, what a blessedness it is to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit so that while the words come from the lips of the pastor to the ear of the hearer, the Holy Spirit comes to the heart of the hearer and confirms what the pastor is saying!

Ah, this will transform a Sunday school teacher! The Spirit-filled teacher can stand before his class and teach the Word of God. What would have been a boring lesson suddenly becomes life-changing because the Holy Spirit is saying to the pupils, “Listen to your teacher. He loves you. That’s right. Believe him.” This is the need for our Sunday schools.

Imagine a Spirit-filled soloist singing in the public services and as the song is sung and the message is heard by human ears there is a Voice from within speaking to each member of the congregation saying, “That song is right. Jesus does save. He does comfort. His is your need!” This would transform the music program of our churches. While Spirit-filled choirs sing, a Voice from within speaks to the congregation saying, “That choir is right. Believe them.” Their hearts begin to burn. Conviction settles in and decisions follow.

An organist or pianist is playing the offertory on Sunday morning. That organist is filled with the Holy Spirit after having paid the price in fervent prayer and after having met the conditions for His fulness. the organist plays the offertory and as she plays a song like “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” a Voice speaks to the hearts of those in the congregation: “That’s right. Prayer is sweet and it does call you from a world of care. It is the answer for your life.” The Voice continues to say, “You should pray. You should pray often. You should pray before you eat. You should pray before you start the day. You should have seasons of prayer.”

The Spirit-filled Christian school teacher stands before his or her class, and as the teacher teaches, the Holy Spirit says to the pupils, “Your teacher is right. Believe what your teacher is saying. Listen carefully.” Ah, that will help the deportment and behavior in the classroom.

Imagine a Spirit-filled soul winner knocking at the door of a house. A person comes to the door and suddenly the holy Spirit speaks from within. The soul winner begins to tell the wonderful story of Christ and from within the heart of the hearer there is this Voice saying, “Believe him. The man is from God. He is telling you the truth. This is the way to Heaven. This is your only hope.

At Pentecost that Voice even spoke different languages so that people who could not understand language that was used in the preaching could hear the message of Christ and be saved!

Oh, preacher, this is your answer! Sunday school teacher, this will transform your class. Singer, this will give life to your special numbers. Instrumentalists, this will multiply your effectiveness. Christian school teachers, this will help us to produce dedicated young people. Nursery worker, this will help the children even in the nursery. Imagine a nursery worker telling a baby about Jesus; the Holy Spirit can even speak to that little heart. Mothers, this will help you rear your children properly.

The question immediately comes: How may this power be obtained? Of course, there are obvious steps such as separation from the world, faithfulness to the cause of Christ, hours of studying the Word, obedience to the commands of God and to the will God, etc., but the main thing is for a Christian to be so sincere that he pays the price in agonizing and pleading and tarrying, begging God for His power. Notice Luke 11:5-13, “And He said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, saying unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” The word “importunity” in verse 8 means “much begging.”

This chapter is being written at my desk. On my desk I see the words, “Pray for power.” Behind my desk I see the words, “Pray for power.” In the Bible that is in my lap I see the words, “Pray for power.” On the mirror where I shave I see the words, “Pray for power.” On the door leading from my office into the hallway I see the words, “Pray for power.” Hundreds of times a day I plead with God for His power. Then, of course, there are seasons of prayer when I go alone with God to plead for the power of God.

I am commanded in the Scripture to be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.” Notice that in the same passage about Spirit-fulness, drunkenness is mentioned. It would seem then that it is just as wicked for a person to do God’s work without the fulness of the Holy Spirit as it would be to do God’s work drunk with wine wherein is excess.

As a child I was very nervous. We were very, very poor. My father was an alcoholic. He left our home when I was a boy. Through a series of events, God called me to preach His Gospel. I was very sincere. When I was 21 years of age, I began to pastor. For one lonely year I pastored with no results. No one walked the aisle for salvation, no one walked the aisle to transfer membership. It was a long, barren year. I decided to find the answer. I went to a library at a Baptist college. I began to read the biographies of great men. I read how Dwight Moody was filled with the Holy Spirit while walking down Wall Street one day. I read how his ministry was changed and how he would preach the old sermons where he at one time had five conversions and then he had fifty! I read how his ministry was transformed,, and my heart began to burn from within. I wondered, “Could that be available for me? Could that which Dwight Moody received when he was filled with the Holy Spirit be available for a little Texas preacher?” I continued reading. I read about Savonarola, who went to his pulpit one day and realizing he was powerless refused to preach until thee power of God came upon him. For five hours he sat and waited until the power of God came, and then he was filled with the Holy Spirit as he preached. I read about Christmas Evans, who was riding his horse on his circuit one day and suddenly the power of God came upon him. He knew for the first time in his life that he was filled with the Holy Spirit. I read about Charles G. Finney and his Spirit-filled life. I began to ask God as a young preacher, “Is that for me? Is that for today? Is there actually a power that can come over me where the Holy Spirit can speak to people from within as I speak from without?”

I read about John Wesley, who at three o’clock in the morning on October 3, 1738, after having prayed with a number of preachers for most of the night was filled with the Holy Spirit. His ministry was never the same. I read about George Fox, who went alone for two weeks begging for the power of God, and how his life was transformed. I read about Peter Cartwright, who had been filled with the Holy Spirit and mighty power came upon him. I read of George Whiitefield, who on June 20, 1736, was ordained to preach. As he knelt at the altar, Bishop Benson laid his hands on the young preacher and George Whitefield know then and there that he was filled with the Holy Spirit! I read about George Muller, who was filled with the Holy Spirit the first time he ever saw Christians on their knew in prayer. I read how Billy Sunday used to preach every sermon with his Bible open to Isaac 61:1 and how the Spirit of God came on him. My heart began to burn from within! “Was this for me as well as for them? Was that power that Moody had and Wesley had and Whitefield had and Billy Sunday had available for little Jack Hyles, a poor country preacher in east Texas?”

I began to walk in the woods at night. Night after night I would walk and cry and pray an beg for power. My heart was hungry. I got a Cruden’s Concordance and looked up the terms, “Holy Ghost,” “Spirit of the Lord,” “Spirit of God,” etc. I looked up every Scripture in the Bible that had to do with the Holy Spirit. I read in Judges 6:34 that the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and in Judges 14;6 how the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson in and in I Samuel 11:6 how the Spirit of God came upon Saul. I read in I Samuel 16:13 how the Spirit of the Lord came upon David. I read in Acts 9:17 where Paul was filled with the Holy Ghost and in Luke 4:1 where Jesus was full of the Holy Ghost. My heart burned! I needed something. I needed the blesses power of God. I needed the fulness of the Holy Spirit. I didn’t understand all the Scriptures. I read in Luke 3:16 the words, “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” I read in Acts 1:4 the mention of the “promise of the Father.” In Luke 24:49 I found the words, “be endued with power from on high.” In Acts 1:8 I found the words, “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” In Acts 2:17 I learned of the “pouring out of the Spirit” and in Ephesians 5:18 I found the term, “filled with the Spirit.”

I was no seeking sinless perfection nor was I trying to name what I wanted God to give me. I had no desire to speak in tongues not did I even desire to have some kind of an experience. I just wanted God to work in the hearts of the people while I preached and witnessed. Could it be for me? Yes, it was for Samson, for Gideon, for Torrey, for Moody, for Billy Sunday, for Jonathan Edwards, for Muller, for Whitefield, for George Fox, for Christmas Evans, for Savonarola, for Peter Cartwright, for John Rice, for Bob Jones, for Lee Roberson, but was it for me? I was just a country preacher. I can recall how my eyes fastened on Isaiah 40:31 and Acts 2:4 and Acts 4:31. I was hungry!

“I must have results. I must have power.” I can recall saying to God, “I’m not going to be a normal preacher. I’m not going to be a powerless preacher.”

Night after night I would walk through the pine thickets of east Texas, up and down the sand hills, begging God for His power. If you had driven down Highway 43 outside Marshall, Texas, on the way to Henderson, Texas, in the wee hours of the morning, you could have heard me praying, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” and begging God to give me power.

I was losing weight. I couldn’t eat. What I did eat came back up! My family was worried about me. My deacons got together and said to me, “Pastor, you’ve got to take care of yourself. You are going to get bad sick.”

Then came May 12, 1950. All night I prayed! Just about sunrise I fell to my face in some pine needles and told God I would pay the price, whatever it was, for the power of God! I did not know what I was saying. I did not know what that meant.

In less than four hours, my phone rang in our little country parsonage. The operator said that it was a long distance call for Reverend Jack Hyles. She put the call through and a voice said, “This is Mr. Smith. I work with your dad. Reverend Hyles, your dad just dropped dead with a heart attack.” I put the phone down. I could not believe what I had heard. Just a few months before I had preached to my Daddy, but I was powerless. He did not get saved. I had witnessed to him, but once again I was powerless and he did not get saved. He had promised me the first of January, 1950, that in a few months he would come back to east Texas and receive Christ as his Saviour. He never made it. As far as I know, he died without Jesus under the influence of alcohol. We drove to Dallas to the same funeral home that later embalmed President Kennedy when he was killed. On May 13, 1950, Mother’s Day afternoon, we had a little service in the chapel. We then followed the hearse about 50 miles south to a little cemetery on the northeast corner of Italy, Texas, where two of my little sisters were buried. Down near the creek was a hole in the ground. They lowered my daddy’s body in the grave. Not long after, I returned to that grave and fell on my face and told God I was not going to be a powerless preacher any more and that I was not going to leave that grave until something happened to me. I don’t know how long I stayed. It may have been hours; it may have been days. I lost all consciousness and awareness of time. I did not become sinlessly perfect nor did I talk in another language nor was I completely sanctified, but my ministry was transformed!

To God be the praise, there has not been one single Sunday since that day without conversions in the churches I have pastored. That’s been over 31 years now, and though I’m not the preacher I ought to be, I have seen the mighty power of God over and over and over again. Over a quarter of a million people have walked the aisles in the churches I have pastored professing faith in Christ. I am no great preacher. I am no giant of the faith. I just found out there was a way that a person could be filled with the Holy Spirit, enabling Him to speak from within as I preached from without.

One of the great mistakes that Christians make, however, is believing that fulness of the Spirit is a one-time happening. The truth is that the New Testament church was filled with the Spirit over and over again. They were filled with the Spirit in Acts 2:4, “And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Again they were filled with the Spirit in Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness.”

Several years later I was called to pastor the Miller Road Baptist Church of Garland, Texas. Twenty-one people voted on me-eighteen voted for me, two voted neutral and one voted undecided. The church enjoyed unbelievable growth. What a ministry God gave us, and how blessed was the Holy Spirit’s power! The church grew so fast that it was too big for me and I felt that I must resign. On December 31, 1954, I went to my study on New Year’s Eve. I went alone with God and told Him the church was too big for me and that I would have to resign and let someone more qualified and capable continue the ministry. I would be content to go to some smaller church and start over again. I wrote out my resignation, laid it on the floor of my study and told God that unless He gave me a new power I would have to read the resignation on January 1, 1955. I did not want to resign, because I loved my people dearly, but there was no other choice. I prayed from 9:00 until 10:00; from 10:00 until 11:00; from 11:00 until 12:00; from 12:00 until 1:00. Sometime past midnight, there was a knock on the door of my study. I went to the door. It was one of my deacons. He was weeping. He said, “Pastor, what’s wrong?” I said, “Why do you ask?” He said, “The Holy Spirit told me something was wrong with my preacher tonight. I called your house and they did not know where you were, so I thought I would come to the study. What’s wrong?”

I showed him the letter of resignation and told him that God was going to have to give me something more than what I had I f I stayed, He said, “Pastor, let’s pray.” We prayed from 1:00 until 2:00; from 2:00 until 3:00; from 3:00 until 4:00; from 4:00 until 5:00 and sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 in the morning the sweet power of God settled upon us, and I knew that God had given me some fresh power,, some fresh oil, as spoken of by the Psalmist in Psalm 92:10, “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: Ishall be anointed with fresh oil.” I tore up the letter of resignation. My deacon and I danced for joy and hugged and lifted our hands in holy praises to God. Oh, the sweet years we had after that!

Then in December, 1958, I received a letter from Hammond, Indiana. For months I wrestles with the possibility of becoming Pastor of that Chicagoland church. I did not want to go, but the Holy Spirit led in that direction, and I became Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond in August of 1959. Soon the problems mounted. The church and I were different. It seemed there was no way I could continue pastoring that church.

I was preaching for a week at the Bill Rice Ranch. Every night I wrestled with the calls from other churches to return to Texas. It just seemed that I was not cut out for the First Baptist Church of Hammond. On Friday night I could not sleep. The Holy Spirit kept me awake. About ten o’clock I knelt to pray beside the bed in room 11 of the Widner Inn at the Bill Rice Ranch. I told God I was going to resign the church the next Sunday, but God wrestled me through the night. All night long I pleaded for God to give me something I must have if I were to stay in Hammond. After a night of prayer and a night of wrestling with the Holy Spirit, that “something” came. Again I knew that I was filled with the Holy Spirit in a new and fresh way. Fresh oil had come! The rest of the story is legend. The great First Baptist Church of Hammond was born that night.

It has been over 21 years since that all-night prayer meeting but I find myself again and again needing a new fulness of fresh oil. That’s my only hope. I need that Voice talking to people as I preach. I need Him to speak from the inside as I witness from the outside.

Dear reader, you too need that fulness. Dear music director, you need that power; and so do you, choir director, choir member, Sunday school teacher, bus worker, Christian school teacher, Christian school administrator, instrumentalist, youth worker, and Sunday school worker; and, blessed be God, it is available for you! It’s for sons and daughters, for young men and old men, for bondmaids and servants. Joel says it is for all flesh! Praise the Lord!

Won’t you now bow your head? Promise God several things. Promise Him that you are going to be clean and separate from the world. Promise Him that you are going to live in His Book. Promise Him that you are going to be sure that He gets what is His financially and in every other way. Promise Him that you are going to work hard and be faithful and loyal to Him. Then promise Him that you are going to pray and plead and wrestle with Him. Don’t be concerned about having some kind of an experience, just be concerned about the Holy Spirit talking from within as you talk from without. It may be that that power will come upon you the next time you preach or teach or sing. It may be that it will be a gradual thing and that more and more you will be aware of His presence and power as you serve. Don’t be concerned about having some kind of stereotype experience and don’t be concerned about getting up and telling what happened to you. Just yield your self; sanctify your self; pray an pray and pray and pray until you see people moved as you speak by that Voice that speaks from within! When you see this, continue to pray, continue to ask Him for His fulness and continue to love Him and serve Him. Crown Him, honor Him, and praise Him until the veil is pulled and we shall se Him as He is!

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GOVERNMENTAL FORGIVENESS

There are at least four different kinds of forgiveness in the Bible. We will give a different name to each of them: First, there is eternal forgiveness. Second, there is instrumental forgiveness. Third, there is forgiveness in fellowship. Fourth, there is governmental forgiveness. If a believer desires to run a straight course in his spiritual pursuit, he must learn the meaning of God’s governmental forgiveness. We will first distinguish the differences between these kinds of forgiveness, and then we will speak about governmental forgiveness.

I. ETERNAL FORGIVENESS

Let us call the forgiveness that comes with our salvation God’s eternal forgiveness. This is the forgiveness spoken of by the Lord Jesus in Luke 24:47: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” This is eternal forgiveness. The forgiveness spoken of in Romans 4:7 is eternal forgiveness as well.

This forgiveness is called eternal forgiveness because once God forgives our sins, He forgives them eternally. God casts our sins into the depths of the sea and the abyss. He no longer sees or remembers our sins. This is the forgiveness we obtained at the time we were saved. The moment we believe in the Lord Jesus, we are forgiven of all our sins; the Lord removes all of our sins, and we are left with no trace of sin before God. This is called eternal forgiveness.

II. INSTRUMENTAL FORGIVENESS

God often tells man directly, “I forgive you.” But often He declares His forgiveness through the church: “God has forgiven your sins.” Therefore, the Bible shows us another kind of forgiveness which we call instrumental forgiveness. John 20:22-23 says, “And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” In sending the Holy Spirit to His church, the Lord charged the church to be His representative on earth. The church has become His vessel. Forgiveness is now granted through the church. This is called instrumental forgiveness. However, we must be careful not to fall into the kind of forgiveness taught by the Catholics. We must realize that the basis of instrumental forgiveness is the Lord’s breathing into the church and saying to the church, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” After the church receives the Holy Spirit, it has the power to retain and forgive sins. The church can declare that the sins of certain ones are retained, while the sins of others are forgiven. The church has such authority because it is under the authority of the Holy Spirit. The Lord breathed into the disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” After this He said, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained..” This is a kind of indirect forgiveness. In this forgiveness God forgives men through the church; the church acts as His channel.

In preaching the gospel, we often find sinners who are awakened to their sin by our word. We bring them to the Lord, and they confess that they are sinners. They pray for forgiveness with weeping and tears of repentance, and they receive the Lord Jesus with a sincere heart. But they do not know the meaning of forgiveness because they are heathens. At such times, it is good for a representative of the church to stand up and say to them, “God has forgiven you of your sins!” This will save them much suffering and anxious searching. If a person has truly believed, you may say to him, “You have accepted the Lord today. You can thank Him because He has forgiven you of your sins!” If the church cannot forgive or retain men’s sins, it has no way to decide who may be baptized. Why do you accept one candidate for baptism while refusing another? Why do you receive some for the bread-breaking meeting while refusing others? This is an exercise of the authority that the church has received from the Lord. It proclaims who is saved and who is not, and whose sins are forgiven and whose are retained. Such declarations must not be made in a light way. Those whose sins are forgiven are forgiven, while those whose sins are retained have their sins retained. Such a statement must be made under the authority of the Holy Spirit. John 20:22 says, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” Verse 23 continues, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” Only when the church has received the Holy Spirit and is under the authority of the Holy Spirit can it act as an instrument to God. Only after the Lord has made a man an instrument can he proclaim to a sinner, “You are forgiven of your sins!” or to another sinner, “Your sins are not forgiven!” This is the second kind of forgiveness described in the Bible. In this forgiveness, God does not forgive directly; He does it through the church. Eternal forgiveness is God’s direct forgiveness of men. Instrumental forgiveness is God’s proclamation of forgiveness through man.

III. FORGIVENESS IN FELLOWSHIP

There is a third kind of forgiveness in the Bible. We call this forgiveness in fellowship. First John 1:7-9 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” First John 2:1-2 continues, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” The forgiveness spoken of in this portion of the Word is neither the forgiveness at the time of our salvation nor the forgiveness pronounced by the church. This forgiveness is different from the above two kinds of forgiveness. After one believes in the Lord and has become a child of God, often he still needs God’s forgiveness. This is the forgiveness spoken of in another chapter, in which the ashes of the red heifer are applied. After we believe in the Lord, confess our Christian faith, and receive eternal forgiveness, we may still sin at times. We may become weak and encounter setbacks before the Lord. This kind of sin produces a barrier in our fellowship with God.

A. The Characteristic of Life—Delighting in Fellowship

All biologists know that life has two basic characteristics: First, it strives to live, to preserve itself, to continue its existence. Life abhors death. Second, it does not want to be cut off from fellowship. Life abhors isolation. If a chicken is left by itself, it will be sullen. If you put it with many other chickens, it will become lively. If you keep a prisoner in isolation, he will suffer because he cannot have fellowship with other men. Man is a living creature. Like other living creatures, he strives to preserve his own life, and he also delights in fellowship.

B. Frustrations to the Fellowship of Life

We believe that the blood of the Lord Jesus has saved us. There is absolutely no question as far as our life is concerned; we are saved and are eternally forgiven. This part does not pose any problem to us.

But another matter may pose a problem. After we have believed in the Lord and are saved, our fellowship with God and with other children of God can be interrupted if we offend Him. What does it mean for our fellowship to be interrupted? Suppose a little girl goes to the kitchen secretly and steals the food her mother has prepared, or some fruit from the cabinet, or other things. Suppose she eats all the food while her mother is away. She may close the door of the kitchen properly, clean her face, and wipe the table, but a transgression has been committed! Before this she was very intimate with her mother every night. But on this night, she may not be as intimate as before because she has stolen something. When her mother calls her from upstairs, her heart may start bounding downstairs. She may think that her mother is going to spank her. Her mother may even offer her some food, but she will not have any taste for it. She will be in constant fear that her mother knows what she has done. She may try to hide herself from her mother. In this we see that the child’s fellowship with her mother has been interrupted. After she steals the food, she does not cease to be her mother’s daughter; she is still a daughter, but her fellowship with her mother has been interrupted. After you have sinned, you do not cease to be a child of God. You are still God’s child, but your fellowship with Him has been interrupted. Sin cuts off fellow- ship immediately. You no longer have a conscience that is void of offense. You must have a pure conscience before you can enjoy a continuous fellowship with God. If your conscience is offended, you have no way to fellowship with God.

C. How to Restore Our Fellowship with God

A child of God does not lose his status as a child after he has sinned. However, he may lose his fellowship with God through his sin. There is a forgiveness, however, which we call forgiveness in fellowship. We call it forgiveness in fellow- ship because only when one turns back to God and confesses his sins can his fellowship with God be restored. Otherwise, he has no way to fellowship with God. He may not even be able to pray to God or say amen when others pray. He will suffer very much within himself.

What should one do? Take the earlier example of the little girl who stole from her mother. She must go to her mother and say, “I have stolen the biscuits you have prepared. I have eaten the fruit you placed on the table. I should not have done this.” She has to stand on the ground of her mother and acknowledge her sin as sin. She must give sin the proper name. She must say, “Please forgive my sins!” In the same way, we must come to God and say, “I have sinned. I have sinned against You in this matter. Please forgive me!” If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Such a forgiveness has nothing to do with eternal forgiveness. It has to do with our fellowship with God. This is why we call it forgiveness in fellowship.

IV. GOVERNMENTAL FORGIVENESS

There is another kind of forgiveness in the Bible which we call governmental forgiveness. We can understand this kind of forgiveness from the following verses: Matthew 6:14-15; 9:2, 5-6; 18:21-35; James 5:15. We call the forgiveness that is spoken of in all these verses governmental forgiveness.

A. What God’s Governmental Forgiveness Is

Some may ask, “What is God’s governmental forgiveness?” I have often thought that if a person were made aware of God’s government immediately upon becoming a Christian, he would spare himself many troubles and problems.

Let me once again use the illustration of the little girl. Before such an incident as described above occurred, her mother would have left the doors of the rooms in the house open whenever she left the house. She would have left the door to the kitchen open and the kitchen cabinet doors unlocked. Even though there may have been considerable food in the cabinets, she would have left the door open. On that particular day, when she comes back to the house, she may discover that her daughter has stolen food from the cabinets. Since the mother has found out, the daughter has no choice but to confess her sins and ask for forgiveness. The mother forgives her and kisses her. She says, “I forgive you,” and the matter is over with and the fellowship restored. But from that time on, she begins to lock the doors whenever she leaves the house. She has changed her way! Fellowship is one thing, while government is another thing.

What is government? Government is the way of doing things. In our words, God’s government is His way of doing things; it is His administration. The mother forgives her child’s sin. She says, “Since you have eaten the food already, I will not pursue the matter any further.” She forgives her daughter, and the fellowship is restored. When the daughter sees her mother, she can be as happy and intimate as before. But the next time the mother leaves the house, the cabinets and the door to the kitchen will be locked. In other words, the way of handling things will be different. Fellowship can be restored, but the way of doing things cannot be easily restored. The mother is afraid that her child will do the same thing again. She will no longer grant her daughter the kind of freedom she had before. She will put on some kind of restrictions. The way is changed. Please bear in mind that God treats us according to the same principle. Forgiveness in fellowship is easy. Fellowship is easily restored for those who confess with a true heart. Once they confess that they have sinned against God, God will recover the fellowship between Him and them. But God’s way of dealing with these ones may immediately become different. God’s discipline may be exercised upon them. He may no longer allow them to be as free or loose.

One day the disciplining hand of God may be lifted. At that time we will have governmental forgiveness. After a period of time, the mother may feel that her child can once again be trusted. She then leaves the kitchen door open once more. This is called governmental forgiveness.

Forgiveness of fellowship is one thing, while governmental forgiveness is another. A father may tell his sons to go outside to play at four o’clock and to come back for dinner at six o’clock. Suppose one day the children go out and fight with other children. When they come home, they confess their sin to their father. The father forgives them and lets them out again the next day, but they get into a fight with other children again. What should the father do? They may confess their sins day after day and the father may forgive them day after day, but the father will wonder whether his way of government is wrong. He may wonder if it is wrong to let them out every day. He may say, “Starting from tomorrow, you will stay at home and not go out because you have been fighting outside.” The father’s hand has come in. When we sin against God, God will forgive us when we confess our sins to Him. However, we cannot stop Him from using other methods to discipline us. God will forgive us, and our fellowship with Him can be restored, but He may change His way with us. A man must realize that God’s governmental hand is not easily removed. It is not easy for God to take away His governmental hand. God will remove His governmental hand only when He has full assurance that His children are doing the right things. When the father sees his children continuing to make trouble, he will tell them to stay at home and withhold their freedom. He will shut them up for days, weeks, or even months, until he is satisfied that they will no longer cause trouble, quarreling or fighting with people. At that time the father may say to his children, “You have behaved well during the past two months. You may go out for ten minutes tomorrow.” The governmental hand is lifted. Have you seen this? We call these ten minutes a governmental forgiveness. The governmental way has changed. The father still has to observe how the children behave among others during those ten minutes. If the children do not engage in a fight, the father may allow them to go out again for half an hour the next day. After some time, he may extend the time to an hour. Perhaps after one or two months, they may play from four o’clock to six o’clock again. When that day comes, we can say that governmental forgiveness has been fully exercised in the children! Brothers, what does governmental forgiveness mean? Governmental forgiveness is absolutely different from eternal forgiveness, instrumental forgiveness, and forgiveness in fellowship. Governmental forgiveness is related to the way God manages, rules over, and deals with us.

B. What a Man Sows, That He Reaps

Many portions in the Bible point out similar things. For example, Galatians 6:7 says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” This speaks of God’s governmental hand. If a father spoils his children, his children will not grow up in a proper way. A father who does not care for his own family will end up with a tragedy. This is the only possible result. A person who always argues and fights with others and who holds different opinions will have no friends. What a man sows, that he reaps. This is God’s government, God’s ordained law. No one can change such a law. God’s children must be careful not to provoke His governmental hand. It is not easy for God to remove His hand once it is provoked.

C. The Lord’s Healing of a Paralytic Being a Governmental Forgiveness

A certain paralytic was carried to the Lord in the presence of the scribes. The Lord Jesus said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Matt. 9:2). If we do not understand governmental forgiveness, it will be hard to understand what the Lord Jesus was saying. The paralytic did not express his belief; it was others who bore him on a bed to the Lord. Yet the Lord said to him, “Take courage, child; your sins are forgiven.” Does this mean that the paralytic was saved when he was carried to the Lord? If he were, salvation would have been too easy. One would only have to be carried to the Lord, and his sins would be forgiven. No, this certainly does not refer to eternal forgiveness. It has nothing to do with instrumental forgiveness or even forgiveness in fellowship. This is another kind of forgiveness. The Lord shows us two things here. On the one hand, the paralytic’s sins were forgiven. On the other hand, he had to rise and pick up his mat and walk. Please bear in mind that many sicknesses are the result of God’s governmental hand. In order for the paralytic to be healed and to rise again, he first needed to receive governmental forgiveness. Such forgiveness is related to God’s government. It is related to sicknesses, not to eternal life. When others carried the paralytic to the Lord Jesus, His forgiveness clearly related to the sickness of paralysis. This man came to the Lord to be healed, and the Lord Jesus said that his sins were forgiven. In other words, his sickness would be healed once his sins were forgiven. His sickness was related to his sins. The Lord Jesus said such a word because the sickness was the result of the man’s sins before God. He was sick because he had not settled the issue of his sins yet. When this issue was settled, his sickness was gone. This is governmental forgiveness. Sickness goes away when governmental forgiveness comes. Such a sin clearly involved a governmental offense. The man was sick because he had done something which had offended God’s government. Once the Lord forgave him of his sins, he could rise, pick up his mat, and go home. This forgiveness is different from the other kinds of forgiveness. It is the forgiveness which enables one to pick up his mat and go home. This is governmental forgiveness.

D. The Elders of the Church Anointing the Sick and Praying for Them to Receive Governmental Forgiveness

James 5:14-15 says, “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” This seems to be a very special kind of forgiveness. Here was a brother who was sick. The elders of the church were invited to anoint him with oil and pray for him, and the prayer of faith would cause the sick to rise up. If he had committed any sin, it would be forgiven him. We have seen that sickness may be caused by many factors. Some sicknesses may not be the result of sin, but some are. The sin here is not forgiven through the confession of the sick one; it is forgiven through the prayer of the elders of the church. Why are his sins forgiven after the elders of the church pray for him and apply the anointing to him? What sins are spoken of in this verse? One cannot apply such a method to eternal forgiveness, instrumental forgiveness, or forgiveness in fellowship. I believe that this is related to God’s government. Suppose a brother is sick because of God’s governmental hand. He has sinned and has fallen, and God is disciplining him. Although he has confessed his sins and has been forgiven and restored to fellowship, God’s disciplining hand has not been lifted. He has to wait for the elders of the church to come to him and make petition on his behalf, saying, “The brothers have forgiven his sins. We expect to see him rise up again. The church would like to see such a brother being recovered to the flow of life. Therefore, we anoint his body with oil that the ointment of the Head may flow to him once more.” When the church does this to the sick one, he will be restored. In many cases, a person may have sinned and offended God’s government. As soon as God removes His governmental hand from such a person, his sickness will be healed. When God removes His governmental hand, we have the fulfillment of the word, ” if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” This sin is different from other ordinary sins. In our reading of the Bible, we must realize that James 5 is a chapter on governmental forgiveness. If we fall under God’s governmental hand, He will not let us go until we are fully forgiven.

E. David under God’s Governmental Hand

To understand the significance of governmental forgiveness, we must consider the example of David in the Old Testament. No portion of the Bible speaks of God’s governmental forgiveness as clearly as the story of David with Uriah’s wife. David committed two sins: adultery and murder. His adultery was a sin against Uriah’s wife, and his murder was a sin against Uriah himself. If you read Psalm 51 and a few other psalms, you will see how David confessed his sins after his mistakes. He felt the shame, the defilement, and the offense that he had committed against God. He was sincere in his confession to God. This shows us clearly that his fellowship with God was restored after his confession in Psalm 51. This restoration of fellowship is analogous to that which is spoken of in 1 John 1.

What did God say to David? He sent Nathan to speak to David. I want you to pay special attention to what Nathan said in 2 Samuel 12:13 after David said, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan said to David, “The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” David said, ” I have sinned against the LORD.” He confessed his sins and admitted his guilt. He confessed that he was defiled and had sinned against Jehovah. In return God said through Nathan, “The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” Clearly David’s sins were forgiven; God had put away his sins. What did God say to David after that? He said, “Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. ” (v. 14). He also said, “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife.” (v. 10). Finally, He said, “Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” (vv. 11-12). God had already put away David’s sins, but He would cause the son born to Uriah’s wife to die and the sword not to depart from his house. God had already put away David’s sins, but He would allow Absalom to rebel and defile David’s wives. In other words, sins may be forgiven but the discipline does not go away immediately.

Let me say a frank word to you. You may go to God and ask for forgiveness for any sin, and God will forgive you. The restoring of fellowship can be quick. David restored his fellowship with God very quickly, but God’s discipline continued even after his death. God’s government would not depart from him as long as His discipline was upon him. Not long after this episode, his son became sick. Even though David fasted and laid on the floor the whole night, it was useless. God’s disciplinary hand fell upon David and his son died. Following this, his eldest son Amnon was murdered, and then Absalom rebelled. The sword never departed from David’s house! Yet God said to David, “I have forgiven your sins!” Brothers, God may have forgiven your sins, but even though He has forgiven you, you cannot stop His chastisement on you and His governmental hand upon you.

F. Learning to Humble Oneself under God’s Mighty Hand

Our God is a God of government. He will not move His governmental hand immediately away from those who have sinned against Him. Often, God does not do anything; He lets you go. But as soon as He stretches forth His governmental hand, you can do nothing except humble yourself under His mighty hand. You have no escape! God is not like man; He is not sloppy and will not let you go! A sin which damages one’s fellowship with God can easily be forgiven, and a person can easily be recovered. But no one can run away from God’s discipline in the environment, the home, one’s career, and his physical body. The only thing we can do is to learn to humble ourselves under His mighty hand. The more we humble ourselves under His mighty hand and give up all resistance, the easier it is for God to lift His governmental hand. The more we refuse to humble ourselves, and the more angry, vocal, or indignant we become, the more difficult it is for God to lift His governmental hand. This is a very serious matter! Twenty years ago we might have done something according to our own will. Today we still have to face the same thing. We still have to suffer the consequences. It will come back to haunt us. When such a thing catches up with us, we should bow our head and say, “Lord, it is all my fault!” We must humble ourselves under God’s hand. Do not resist. The more we resist, the heavier God’s hand will become. Let me repeat: Let us humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. The more we reject God’s governmental hand, the more problems we will encounter. When God’s governmental hand is upon us, we must humble ourselves and say, “Lord, You have done no wrong! I deserve this.” We must humble ourselves. We must not only remove all rebellious thoughts but also take away all reasonings and murmurings.

It is not easy to be rebellious and to try to escape God’s hand. Who can escape His hand? You must realize that you have fallen into your present state through what you did before. Suppose a brother loved sugar too much as a youth, and his teeth have decayed from the overconsumption of sweets. One day he feels that he has eaten too many sweets. These sweets have brought about his toothaches. He asks God to forgive his sin of indulgence in eating. God can easily forgive such a sin. But it does not mean that his teeth will recover from their decay. His teeth will still be bad; that is God’s government. If you eat sweets, your teeth will decay. If you confess your weakness, the fellowship will be restored, but it does not mean that good teeth will grow back after your confession. Once you recognize God’s government, you have to learn to humble yourself under it. One can never recover a tooth from decay, but there are matters concerning God’s governmental hand which can be removed, and the person involved can be recovered.

G. Falling under God’s Governmental Hand Being a Serious Matter

Let us consider one portion of the Word. After Moses smote the rock in Meribah (Num. 20:10-12), both he and Aaron fell under God’s governmental hand. After Aaron failed, God still allowed him to remain a priest and restored his fellowship with God. Even though he wore the priestly robe, God nevertheless told him that he would not be able to live. Moses also did not honor Jehovah as the Holy One when he was by the rock. God wanted him to command water to flow out from the rock, but he smote the rock with his rod and lost his composure. He did not honor Jehovah as the Holy One. God’s hand was upon his servants, and Aaron and Moses could not enter Canaan. Do you see the basic principle here? This is God’s government! We cannot pin down our God. We cannot guarantee that God will always treat us the same way as before. At a certain point, God may change His way with us. He may change even what we consider to be the best way.

The Bible is full of such stories. For example, when the Israelites reached Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran, spies went up to spy out the land (Num. 13—14). When they saw that it would take two people to carry a cluster of grapes, they realized that the land was a land flowing with milk and honey. But they became afraid and refused to enter into that land, because they saw that the people who dwelt in that land were of great stature. In their own sight the Israelites were as grasshoppers. As a result, all but two of them died in the wilderness. Joshua and Caleb were the only two persons who would go into the good land. Later, the people confessed their sins and wanted to go in. God still treated them as His people and was gracious to them. However, they could no longer have a part in the land of Canaan. God’s government had changed! Brothers, the very day that you begin your Christian life, you should set a hope before you that you will stay on the course that God has measured to you, all the way to the end. Do not live loosely. Do not sin. Please bear in mind that even though God may be merciful, He can change His way! God’s governmental hand will never let you go.

God’s governmental hand is indeed a serious matter! I know of a brother who was clearly called by the Lord to set aside his career to serve the Lord. He went home for a visit but could not bring himself to quit his occupation. He wanted to be a good Christian, but he did not want to set aside his career or spend his life for the gospel. Since then he is sometimes weak and sometimes strong. But it is impossible for him to turn back to this way! Please bear in mind that our greatest fear is God’s disciplining hand; we do not know when His hand will come upon us! God may let us go, even if we rebel ten times, but He may not let us go the eleventh time. However, God will not let some people go the first time they rebel. We do not know when God will catch up with us! Brothers, please bear in mind that God’s government is not something under our control! He does things according to His will.

I know of a sister who at one time wanted to consecrate herself to serve the Lord. Later she married, and her marriage was not a very good one. As soon as she made such a move, the light ceased to shine in her. There is no way to ask her to return to this way now. God’s governmental hand is upon her. Today we cannot turn her back no matter how hard we try. Light is shut off from her; it is invisible. It is as if a veil is hanging in front of her. There is no way for her to see the light again.

(Note – This administrator knows of other examples of the governmental hand of the Lord.  A very successful pastor and wife would not keep their son in church during the services because he was a little over-active and they did not want him to become a disturbance.  Their solution was to drop him off at a mall to shop and spend time with his friends.  The result was that he grew away from church and started doing drugs.  To date he is in his forties and is still doing time in prison after having run from a rehab where he only had less than a year to go to finish his sentence.  The result is that he is in for several more years.  Because these parents did not deal with him as a young child, God has dealt with them under his governmental hand and the cost in prison sentences, fines, bail, rehab, stolen property, drug rehab, and many more things just keeps going and the costs keep mounting.  To date this Pastor and wife have still never repented of their sin in raising this child and his problems never end.

Another situation comes to mind.  A very famous pastor of one of the largest churches in the world got into some very serious heretical teaching.  He began to teach that when a person accepted Christ as Savior, it was like the new Christian was the female and God was the male as a sexual relationship.  He also taught the communion service in the same way.  In other teachings he said that the KJV was not inspired nor was it the preserved word of God.  Very recently it was discovered that he had a sexual affair with a troubled girl who was only 16 to 17 years old.  For some reason, his cell phone was left on the pulpit after a service and a deacon saw a picture on the phone of this pastor kissing this teenager.  Result?  He was fired, his ministry was tarnished, his marriage ruined, his testimony destroyed, his chance to be a pastor was cancelled forever, and his staff and church are in shock so bad that he may be years before they recover from this.  Sure, he can go to his wife, his friends, and others, even God to ask for forgiveness, but the governmental judgment of God will be on him for years to come until he can in some way prove that he has repented and changed his teachings and his ways.

Another case comes to mind.  Jack Hyles, a very serious soul-winner had a ministry like no other ministry in the history of the world.  He had four children, two of which, it has become apparent, were worldly and maybe not even saved.  They had gone through the motions for years.  There came a time after they left home that they both decided to go the way of the world, leading immoral lives, getting divorced, and generally causing much harm to the cause of Christ.  One of the worst results of this is that both children have started to lie about their father and make it look like he had committed immorality also.  Their stories are complete lies but the result is that both children are under the governmental judgment of God.  They will never have any ministry and by the looks of them in their public appearances, they don’t even profess to be a Christian.  God’s hand is on these siblings for their sin and it is even tarnishing the image of their father.  Perhaps the father spent so much time trying to save America that he lost his children to the Devil some years back. 

There are other cases of people who have been critical of Jack Hyles.  One man was on the staff of the church, his ministry for soul-winning was blooming while he was faithful to the church but he decided to begin to spread lies about Jack Hyles.  To date, he has a problem even getting a place to serve because no other pastor or church can trust a man who was disloyal and told lies about his pastor Jack Hyles. 

A member of First Baptist Church, Nischick by name, started a rumor that his wife and Jack Hyles were romantically involved.  The lies went nationwide and became part of the print of many sleazy writers.  This grew until many good men became enemies and critics of each other who were formerly good friends and fighting together for a common good in reaching America for Christ.  Finally Nischick was questioned under a deposition and admitted under oath that his wife and Dr. Hyles never had the relationship he claimed but that he was only upset that she spent so much time with the church that he claimed it had ruined his family.  Interestingly enough this man was known to be a big flirt with the women even when some came down the aisle for spiritual decisions in the church.  Evidently the Government Judgment of God came on this man so that his actions caused him to be jealous of God’s man for seeing the pastor as having the same mind as he had.  It ruined many people, his marriage broke up, and years later people are still spreading this man’s lies.  There are probably other stories of pastors that became critical as they jumped on the band wagon of criticism.  Some may have lost their church, some may have fallen into immorality, some may have gotten some serious disease, and some may even have died. 

One more example and we will go on with the teaching here. A missionary that was warned that he was too old to go to the mission field pleaded with the mission board to allow him and his wife to go against mission policy and go to the mission field even though they had children in their teens.  Finally the mission gave in but the results were disastrous.  Two of their children have broken marriages and one has left the ranks of Baptists to become a non-denominational missionary that uses the NIV and has dancing in church.  Their tour on the mission field was also filled with turmoil.  The nationals tried to get them involved in a scam.  They blamed it on the veteran missionary and were caught in over three dozen lies when brought before their board.  Later they went back to the mission field but when they retired they wrote a book about their ministry that was less than truthful.  They lied about their children in order to cover their broken marriages and it resulted in the children becoming estranged from them with the wife dying of cancer and neither parents had spoken to one of the children in years.  That child never even heard of the funeral of the mother until it was on the internet.  God’s judging hand has never left that family as grand children are now suffering.  One of the grand children has already had two divorces while his non-denominational parents still think they are doing God a favor preaching from the NIV and dancing in church.) 

H. Trying Our Best to Be Obedient to the Lord and to Ask for His Mercy

Therefore, brothers, the first thing we should do is to try our best to obey the Lord. May the Lord be merciful and gracious to us, and may He keep us from falling into His governmental hand. However, if we should fall into His governmental hand, we should not try to get out hastily. Do not resist and do not flee. Do not give up on one basic principle—to obey God at any cost. I am not asking you to obey by yourself, because you cannot obey by yourself. We must ask the Lord to have mercy on us and to enable us to obey. Only when the Lord has mercy on us will we be able to get through in this matter. “Lord, have mercy on me, or I will not be able to get through in this.” We must always ask the Lord to grant us mercy to get through and to not fall into His governmental hand. If God’s governmental hand is already upon us and we are already sick or in the midst of some dire experiences or difficulties, we must remember to not resist God’s government with our fleshly hand. As soon as His governmental hand is upon us, we should learn to humble ourselves under His mighty hand. We must say, “Lord, this is Your work! This is Your arrangement! I gladly yield myself to it. I am willing, and I accept it!” When God’s governmental hand was upon Job (whom God could easily have spared), the more that Job accepted it, the better it was for him. The more he talked about his own righteousness, the worse his condition became.

Thank God! God’s governmental hand often does not remain upon a person all the time. Personally, I believe that when God’s governmental hand is upon a person, it can easily be removed by the prayer of the church. This is the precious lesson we find in James 5, which tells us that the elders of the church can lift God’s governmental hand. James said that the prayer of faith can cause a person to rise up. If he has committed any sin, his sin can be forgiven. If a brother is enlightened concerning this matter, and the church prays for him, very often God will lift His governmental and disciplining hand.

Once when I was talking to Miss M. E. Barber, she related an interesting story to me. A brother had done something terrible. Later, he repented and came to Miss Barber. She said to the man, “You have repented and have turned back, have you not? Now you must go to the Lord and tell Him, `I was once a vessel in the hand of the potter. Now the vessel is broken.’ Do not force the Lord to do anything by saying, `Lord, You must make me another kind of vessel.’ You must humble yourself and pray, `Lord, be merciful to me. Let me be a vessel again! I can no longer insist on being a vessel by myself.’ The Lord can make you a vessel unto honor, or He can make you a vessel unto dishonor.” Many people still want to be the same kind of vessel. They insist that the Lord make them glorious all the time, but sometimes blessing can come out of a curse. However, I can tell you this: We have all passed through many dealings. I have fallen into God’s hand many times; God’s governmental hand has been upon me. We must admit that we often get to know God’s will even more through His governmental hand. There is no way to dodge it; we can only humble ourselves. We can do nothing except humble ourselves. As time goes by, we will see that it is impossible to avoid or dodge any issue. We have to humble ourselves under God’s will. We can only say, “Lord! What You have arranged for me is always the best. I can only humble my heart before You!”

We must not be careless or loose about these matters. I know of a sister who came to see me about marrying a certain man. I told her that as far as I knew, she should not marry him because he did not seem to be a trustworthy Christian. She said that she was confident that the marriage would work. Seven or eight months after her marriage, she wrote a very long letter to me and said, “I know now I was wrong. I did not listen to your word. I know now that it was a great mistake! What should I do?” I replied, “From now on, you have only one way—humble yourself under God’s mighty hand. Even though you tell me about your problem, I cannot help you. No one can help you. You have already fallen into God’s governmental hand. If you struggle and rebel, your vessel will only break, and you will only sacrifice your own future.” I warned her in a strong way in the letter that she should not even try to write another letter to me. We must remember that God’s government is most serious!

A thought often comes to me: What can I compare the present condition of the church to? The church is like a potter’s house with many broken vessels, broken tubs, and broken vases strewn everywhere. One finds broken vessels everywhere. This is the situation among Christians today. This is a very serious matter. I say again, we must learn to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand.

V. FEARING GOD AND BEING GENEROUS TO OTHERS

Two other portions of the Word speak about God’s governmental hand: Matthew 6:15 and 18:23-35. One very important thing can be found in these verses—do not condemn others easily. This is a very serious matter! If you criticize others lightly, the same criticism will fall back upon you. In whatever matter you do not forgive or excuse others, the same matter will come back to haunt you! This surely has to do with God’s governmental hand. The Lord said that if you do not forgive others of their sins, God will also not forgive you of your sins. This refers to governmental forgiveness. This forgiveness is different from other kinds of forgiveness. Matthew 18:35 uses the phrase My heavenly Father. The fact that a person can call God Father proves that the matter of eternal forgiveness with him has long been settled. If a brother offends such a one, and that one does not forgive his brother, God will not forgive him either. His governmental hand will come. Learn to be a generous and forgiving person! Learn to be generous to others and learn always to forgive. If you keep complaining about the conduct of others and continue to count the ill treatment you receive from them, please bear in mind that this will bring you into God’s governmental hand and it will not be easy to come out! God will put you deeper into the hole. If you are severe toward others, God will also be severe toward you. When the slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred pennies, he seized him and took him by the throat. When his lord found out about this, he was unhappy with the slave. He delivered the slave to the torturers until the slave paid all that he owed (18:23-35). He would not be released until he paid all that he owed. God disciplined the unforgiving slave. God’s governmental hand was upon him, and he could not easily get away.

We should not only be generous in forgiving others but also avoid criticizing or speaking about others in a light way. Please bear in mind that our criticism and careless comments about others often becomes a judgment upon ourselves. Then what will we do? When a brother deals harshly with others, we often find the Lord’s discipline swiftly catching up with him. Perhaps he easily becomes sick. Sometimes a person may make a remark about someone’s troublesome children, saying, “See how God’s hand is always on this person.” But after some time, the same thing happens to the one who criticized. What do we do when this happens? Brothers, I hope that we will learn to fear God’s governmental hand. We have to learn to fear God. We have to be careful with our words, for many things can happen to us as a result of our careless words.

I can tell you today that the Christian life is a life of learning God’s government. As Christians, we may live many years on earth. During these years God puts us under His training and teaches us the lesson of His discipline. We must not call ourselves children of God yet refuse to yield ourselves to His discipline. Please bear in mind that no one should criticize or speak about anything in a light way. I hope we will pick up the habit of shunning idle things and idle talk. Learn to be godly persons. It is not wise to incur God’s governmental judgment. It is very serious and sobering. We should be careful not to take other people’s affairs upon ourselves. Whatever we lightly condemn about others will soon become a condemnation upon us. We reap what we sow. This is something very real among God’s children. I hope that we will learn to be generous persons in the eyes of God. The wise ones are the generous ones. The more generous we are to others, the more generous God will be to us. I know what I am talking about. If we are mean and severe to our brothers, God will also be mean and severe to us. You must learn to be kind, loving, and generous to your brothers. Give others liberty in many things. Stop all idle talk and criticism. When others are in trouble, it is the time for us to help them, not the time for us to criticize them.

Please bear in mind that the Jews will be tormented and imprisoned during the end time. They will have no clothes and nothing to eat. The sheep will be the ones who will visit them in prison, who will give them clothes when they are naked, and who will give them food when they hunger. These charitable acts will give them the ground to receive grace. We must not say that since God has ordained that they go through persecution and suffering, we will do our part by adding suffering to them. God indeed has ordained the suffering, but we must be generous to them. We cannot say that we will add more sufferings to them because God has ordained their persecution and affliction. Governmental discipline is God’s concern. God’s children in this age must learn to always treat people generously and compassionately. If we do this, the Lord will forgive us in many things.

There are many brothers who have fallen miserably today for one reason only—they have criticized others too severely in the past. Many of their weaknesses today are the very weaknesses they criticized in the past. God will not let such matters go easily! We must be generous toward others if we want to avoid God’s governmental hand! May we learn to love and forbear one another. We must always ask God for mercy in dealing with our foolishness and weakness, both in our walk and in everything we do. We do not want to fall into His governmental hand! We must look to God’s mercy again and again. We must learn to realize that we live by God’s wisdom! We must say to God, “I am a foolish man. Everything I do results in nothing but foolishness. I can do nothing. If I fall into Your governmental hand, I will not be able to bear it. Be merciful to me!” The more pliable and humble we are, the easier it will be for us to be delivered from our afflictions. The more arrogant, stubborn, and self-assured we are, the harder it will be for us to come out of them. Therefore, we must learn to humble ourselves.

(Note – there are many preachers who have taken the attitude that God has called them to criticize Jack Hyles.  One man, a lawyer, works for a ministry that desires to help churches.  His criticism of Jack Hyles has made it almost impossible to get the trust of pastors who need his help with legal matters.  When other preachers, even non-Baptists, have tried to warn him about this, he has objected by saying that God has called him to be a critic.  There are other preachers across America that used to have thriving ministries but due to their criticism of Jack Hyles, some are out of the ministry and others have ministries that are barely moving as they struggle to have any kind of ministry at all.  Their problem, they wanted to hear the gossip and spread it to anyone that would hear.  These preachers and lawyer will find that their ministries will be only a dwarf of what it could have been had they not decided that they were called to join Satan as the accuser of the brethren.  God’s Governmental judgment may be on them until the rapture or until they die and go to heaven.)

VI. BEING HUMBLE AND OBEDIENT, AND “IN DUE TIME,”
GOD’S GOVERNMENTAL HAND BEING WITHDRAWN

Should we fall into God’s governmental hand, for any reason great or small, the last thing we should do is rebel. Rebellion is foolishness! There is only one principle we can act upon when we fall into God’s hand; that is, to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. If we truly humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand, He will relieve and release us “in due time.” When God feels that events have run their course, He will let us go. I would like to draw attention to the words in due time. First Peter 5:6 says, “Therefore be humbled under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time.” The emphasis here is in due time. God will open a way for us in due time. He will direct us to a straight path in due time. He will release us in due time, and He will exalt us in due time.

The mighty hand of God in this verse specifically refers to the matter of discipline. His hand here is not for protection. If it were for protection, the verse would say, “The eternal arm of God.” Here we are the ones who humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand. This implies obedience. Here is God’s mighty hand. We cannot shake off such a hand! We cannot resist it. Instead, we must learn to humble ourselves under it by saying, “Lord! I am willing to obey. I will not resist You no matter where You put me. I accept everything, and I accept it willingly! I have nothing to say about the way You are treating me. I am willing to obey Your word! No matter how long You keep me in this condition, I am willing to obey!” Then we will see that there is a “due time.” We do not know how long it will be. But at a certain time, the Lord will let us go, and He will move the church to pray for us and release us.

May we all know God’s government from the very beginning! Many problems develop because men are ignorant of God’s government. I hope that God’s children will know His government from the first day, the first year, of their Christian life. If they do, they will be able to go on in a very proper way.

(Note – I believe that divorce is also God’s governmental forgiveness.  God never meant for any man and woman to get a divorce but the Bible says that because of the hardness of the heart that God allows the giving of a bill of divorcement.  In the Bible it was a way for a woman who was innocent to be allowed to remarry because women had no means of support without a husband.  It usually meant that the man was no longer interested in his wife but wanted some other wife and thus the offended woman was allowed to remarry.  In our day and time divorces happen far too frequently and yet God’s governmental justice applies in these cases also.  Most of the time neither party will ever have the life of service for God that they could have had if there were not a divorce.  In the case of a pastor, most churches would never hire a divorced pastor because the Bible teaches he should be the husband of one wife.  However, God’s governmental forgiveness would allow even a pastor to remarry in some cases and also to be a pastor again yet it could be many years before he is a pastor if at all.

There are several cases that I can cite that show God’s governmental forgiveness in the case of divorce and a preacher being forgiven by God.  The first case is a man who was in Bible school and during the time of his young marriage his wife played the harlot, having sexual relations with several men and eventually having a child by one of them.  This man did not believe in divorce so he tried his best to forgive her and keep living and serving the Lord but it did not work.  She eventually left, got married several more times and had other illegitimate children.  This pastor finished college got remarried and has a wonderful wife that loves him faithfully.  Even though he was in the right, it took years for him to get back into the ministry because most churches won’t have a divorced pastor.  Yet God’s governmental forgiveness has allowed him to win many souls and preach to hundreds if not thousands of people

Another case of governmental forgiveness is a pastor with a similar situation where his wife was unfaithful.  He divorced her and after a few years was remarried.  He stayed in the same town where he had pastured previously and some of his people even helped him start a new church that has been very successful even sending missionaries around the world in almost 100 different mission fields.  God’s governmental forgiveness has allowed him to have a successful ministry even though he is divorced.  He has had some problems with children, however.  His children from the first marriage were raised by the first wife and turned out fairly good because she was a good disciplinarian.  His children from the second marriage are fraught with issues.  One son has been on drugs and in and out of prison for years.  The second son does not attend church and is married to a Catholic.  God has given governmental forgiveness like he did to David in the Bible but the problems have not left and yet God has forgiven.

A third situation is a little less easy to comprehend.  A very well known minister had an affair and his wife left him and divorced him.  He was lonely and depressed and making a living by being an ostrich farmer.  The pastor in the above illustration took this pastor in as a member and helped him out in his life to get back into the ministry.  He met a widow and began to fall in love.  He really did not want to remarry unless his first wife absolutely refused to forgive him because he did not believe in divorce.  However, a week before the wedding, his first wife still refused to forgive.  As a result, he remarried even though he was in the wrong (not like the other two pastors above who were the offended party) and he is now successfully serving God as a missionary on a foreign field.  It took many years but God’s governmental forgiveness has allowed this man to serve God and see many come to the Lord as a result of Governmental forgiveness.

FINAL NOTE – Due to the problems listed above, it is very rare that a person who is divorced will ever be able to pastor.  Most churches don’t believe it is scriptural and I have put these examples here to show one reason that God wants pastors who don’t have these issues leading the flock.  Governmental Forgiveness is something that comes from God.  The cases where God allows a divorced man to pastor are very few and I have only mentioned these since I know the situation and as can be seen, there are severe problems associated with divorce.  Jesus taught that from the beginning it was not in the plan of God and Moses granted divorce because of the hardness of the heart.  If God chooses to give Governmental Forgiveness to a divorced man, I think it best that it be kept private and never discussed in public.

I would like to advise anyone who is reading this that they make a covenant with God and determine that no matter how difficult the marriage may be that the blessing of God will be much different and your own spiritual growth will be far stronger if you decide that you will never allow even one thought to enter your mind about ever being separated or divorced from your spouse.  The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence and you may find that even though you think you became free of a problem on one hand, you may never have another chance to serve God in the way you do now.  The next few lessons are about the discipline of God and of the Holy Spirit.  Getting a divorce may completely cancel a work that God is doing to make you more holy in the midst of tribulation.  Removing the tribulation could also remove the blessing and the Anointing of the Holy Spirit.  You could find yourself like Cain who found no place to repent though he sought it carefully with tears or like King Saul who lost his anointing of the Holy Spirit and even tried to Kill God’s replacement.  God may give Governmental Forgiveness, but your position in the Kingdom of God could mean you will never again be in a leadership role again to the day you die.  That is not to say that God can’t use you, it is saying that you won’t ever be the same.  Have the spirit of Christ who gave himself for you and sacrifice your life and future for your spouse.  When that spouse sees that you are willing to sacrifice all for them, God can then begin to work to make the changes that seemed impossible before.)

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(Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  David Williams – site Admin.  Illustrations in italics added by the administrator.)


EARLY RISING

Scripture Reading: S.S. 7:12; Psa. 57:8-9; 63:1; 78:34; 90:14; 108:2-3; Exo. 16:21

Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves. (Song of Solomon 7:12)

Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations.  (Psalms 57:8-9)

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;  (Psalms 63:1)

When he slew them, then they sought him: and they returned and enquired early after God.  (Psalms 78:34)

O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.  (Psalms 90:14)

Awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations. (Psalms 108:2-3)

And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. (Exodus 16:21)

 

 

I. EARLY MORNING BEING THE BEST TIME OF THE DAY

What time should believers rise up every day?

A sister once put it well when she said, “How much a person loves the Lord can be judged primarily by the way he chooses between his bed and the Lord. Do you love your bed or the Lord more? If you love your bed more, you sleep a little longer. If you love the Lord more, you rise up a little earlier.” She spoke these words more than thirty years ago. Yet they are still fresh to us today. A man must choose between his love for his bed and his love for the Lord. The more he loves the Lord, the more he will rise up early.

A Christian should rise up early because the early morning is the best time to meet the Lord. Except for those who are sick, all the brothers and sisters should rise up early. Actually, many sicknesses are not sicknesses at all. They become sicknesses because men love themselves too much. Other than those who are advised to rest by doctors, everyone should rise early. We do not want to go to extremes; we advise sick brothers and sisters to sleep more. However, the healthy ones should get up as early as possible. The best time to meet the Lord, to contact Him, and to fellowship with Him is early in the morning. Manna is gathered before the sun rises (Exo. 16:14-21, “And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat. This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.”). Anyone who wants to eat God’s food should rise up early. When the sun waxes hot, manna melts and is gone. If we want to receive spiritual nourishment and spiritual edification, and if we want to have spiritual fellowship and spiritual supply, we need to rise up early. If we rise up late, the manna will be gone. The early morning is the very time when God dispenses His spiritual food and holy fellowship to His children. Whoever is late will not gather anything. Many children of God lead a sick life, not because they have spiritual problems, but because they rise up too late. Many children of God have no lack in consecration, zeal, or love, but they cannot live a normal Christian life because they rise up too late. Do not think that this is a small matter. Do not think that this has nothing to do with spirituality; it has much to do with spirituality. Many people are not spiritual because they rise up too late. Many people have been Christians for years, yet they fail to live a proper Christian life because they rise up too late. We do not know of anyone who knows how to pray, yet rises up late. Nor do we know of anyone who has intimate fellowship with God, yet rises up late. All those who know God rise up early. They rise up early as a rule to fellowship with Him.

Proverbs 26:14 says, “As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.” Here it says that a slothful person in bed is like a door that turns upon its hinges. The slothful keeps turning upon his bed; he cannot leave it. He turns to one side on his bed. Then he turns to the other side on his bed. Whichever way he turns, he is still on the bed. Many people cannot part with their bed. They love their bed as they turn from one side to the other. When they turn left, they are on their bed. When they turn right, they are still on their bed. They love to sleep and cannot part with their bed. Many people just want to sleep a little longer; they cannot get out of their bed. If one wants to learn to serve God and be a good Christian, he has to rise up early in the morning every day.

Those who rise up early in the morning reap much spiritual benefit. Their prayers at other times of the day cannot be compared with their prayers in the early morning. Their Bible reading at other times of the day cannot be compared with their reading in the early morning. Their fellowship with the Lord at other times cannot be compared with their fellowship in the early morning. The early morning is the best time of the day. We should spend the best time of the day—the early morning—before the Lord, rather than in other things. Some Christians spend the whole day on other matters and kneel down to read the Bible and pray only at night when they are about to go to sleep. No wonder they are ineffective in their Bible reading, their prayer, and their fellowship with the Lord. They wake up too late in the morning. The moment we believe in the Lord, we should set apart the early morning for fellowshipping with God and for contacting Him.

II. EXAMPLES OF EARLY RISING

In the Bible we find God’s servants rising up early in the morning. Let us consider their examples:

  1. Abraham—Gen. 19:27; 21:14; 22:3
  2. Jacob—Gen. 28:18
  3. Moses—Exo. 8:20; 9:13; 24:4; 34:4
  4. Joshua—Josh. 3:1; 6:12; 7:16; 8:10
  5. Gideon—Judg. 6:38
  6. Hannah—1 Sam. 1:19
  7. Samuel—1 Sam. 15:12
  8. David—1 Sam. 17:20
  9. Job—Job 1:5
  10. Mary—Luke 24:22; Mark 16:9; John 20:1
  11. The apostles—Acts 5:21

These many verses tell us that God’s servants had the habit of dealing with God early in the morning. Every one of them had the habit of waking early in the morning and fellowshipping with God early in the morning. They rose up early in the morning to do many things related to God’s business. They also rose up early in the morning to consecrate themselves. Although there is no commandment in the Bible that tells us to get up early, there are sufficient examples in the Bible to show us that all faithful servants of God rise up early. Even the Lord Jesus Himself rose up early. He rose up very early in the morning, while it was still night, and went away to a deserted place to pray (Mark 1:35). When He wanted to appoint the twelve apostles, He called them to Himself early in the morning (Luke 6:13). If the Lord had to rise up early to do these things, how much more do we need to rise up early?

Any brother or sister who wants to follow the Lord must never think that there is little difference in rising up an hour early. You must realize that your Bible reading becomes ineffective if you rise up an hour late. Likewise, your prayer becomes ineffective if you rise up an hour late. Although one may spend the same amount of time in reading the Bible, an hour’s difference will produce very different results. Early rising brings in great blessing. We hope that you will not miss the blessing of early rising at the start of your Christian life. One brother was asked at least fifty times during his first three years as a Christian, “What time did you get up this morning?” Early rising is a great blessing. Those who have learned to rise up early know the significance of it. If you do not rise up early in the morning, you will live in spiritual poverty. Late rising brings in much loss. Many spiritual things are lost through late rising.

We have seen many examples from the Bible. How about the servants of God who are not mentioned in the Bible, like George Müller, John Wesley, and many other famous servants of God? They also rose up early in the morning. We can say that almost all the ones we know of or have read about from books, who are of any use in God’s hands, pay attention to the matter of rising early. They call this early rising “morning watch.” All servants of God emphasize morning watch. The term morning watch itself tells us that it is done early in the morning. Have you heard of anyone who keeps watch when the sun is already up? Never! One keeps morning watch early in the morning. This is a good habit, and we Christians should cultivate this habit. God’s children should not be sloppy people. The church has been practicing this for years. We should maintain this good habit of meeting God early in the morning. The term morning watch is not found in the Bible. We can give it another name, but no matter what name we give to it, meeting God early in the morning is a very crucial matter.

III. WHAT TO DO IN THE EARLY MORNING

We do not merely rise up early. There must be spiritual exercise and spiritual content to what we do. Here are a few things to do early in the morning:

A. Fellowship with God

Song of Songs 7:12 shows us that the early morning is the best time to fellowship with the Lord. To fellowship means to open up our spirit and our mind to God and allow Him to enlighten us, speak to us, impress us, and touch us (Psa. 119:105, 147). During this time our hearts are drawn near to God, and we allow God to draw near to our hearts. We should rise up early in the morning to tarry before the Lord, to meditate, to receive leading and impressions from God, to learn to touch Him, and to give Him an opportunity to speak to us.

B. Praise and Sing

There must be the sound of praise and singing in the early morning. The early morning is the best time to sing praises to God. When we offer our highest praise to God, our spirit rises to the highest peak.

C. Read the Bible

The early morning is the time for us to gather the manna (which is Christ). What does it mean to eat the manna? It means to enjoy Christ, to enjoy God’s Word, and to enjoy His truth early in the morning every day. After we eat the manna, we have the strength to journey in the wilderness. The early morning is the time to gather the manna. One will not be fed spiritually or be satisfied if he spends his early morning on other things.

We have mentioned already that we should have two Bibles, one with marks and notes in it to use in the afternoon and the other with nothing in it for “eating manna” early in the morning. In the early morning, do not read too much and do not take many portions of the Word. Instead, read a single portion of the Bible carefully, always mingling your reading with unceasing communion with God and singing. This does not mean that you should fellowship with God first, praise second, and then read the Bible last. You have to blend all these things together. At the same time you should also pray. Come to God’s presence and open His Word. As you read, you may be convicted to confess your sins. As you read certain portions, you may be touched by His grace to offer up thanksgiving. You can also pray to God concerning what you have read in the Word. You can say, “Lord, this is truly what I need. This portion, this verse, this word, truly exposes my lack. Lord, fill up this lack of mine.” When you find a promise, you can say, “Lord, I believe in this promise.” When you find grace, you can say, “Lord, I take this grace.” You can also intercede. While you are reading, you may remember the condition of those who fall short of what this portion says. You should not accuse or criticize them. Instead, you should pray, “God, fulfill this word in me. Fulfill this word also in my brother and sister.” You can confess your sins and the sins of others. You can pray for yourself and for others. You can believe for yourself and for others. You can give thanks for yourself and for others. Your Bible reading in the morning should not be too long; it should not cover too much. Two, three, four, or five verses are sufficient. You can dwell on them for an hour. As you read these verses word by word, pray over them, and commune with God through them, you will be filled.

Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, there were people who fellowshipped with God this way. They knew God and communed with God. Their fellowship with God became part of their lives.

In Psalms David interchanged the pronouns you and He freely. At one moment he would be speaking to man, and at the next moment he would be praying to God. In the same psalm, he would say a few sentences to man and then say something to God. On the one hand, David spoke to man. On the other hand, he spoke to God. The Psalms show us that David was a person who was in constant fellowship with God.

While Nehemiah was working, he would speak a few words and then offer a short prayer. When the king asked him something, he would speak to the king first and then to the Lord. He mingled his work and prayer together. He did not separate his work from his prayer.

Paul wrote the book of Romans to those in Rome. However, more than once he turned his speaking to the Lord. A few times he seemed to have forgotten the fact that he was writing to the Romans. It seemed as if he were talking to God. We can find frequent examples like this in Paul’s Epistles. In an instant he could turn around and speak to God.

Those who have read the autobiography of Madame Guyon will notice one characteristic of hers. Most autobiographies are written for man. But in Madame Guyon’s autobiography, she spoke to man in one instant and to God in the next instant. In one moment she would be speaking to LaCombe (who asked her to write her autobiography), and at the next moment she would be speaking to God. This is fellowship. One does not know where fellowship with God begins and where it ends. Fellowship does not mean to set aside other affairs to pray. Nor does it mean to pray first and then deal with the affairs. It is to do both simultaneously.

Hence, during this early morning hour of gathering manna, you should learn to mingle prayer with God’s Word. You should learn to mingle praise and fellowship with God’s Word. One moment you may be on earth, but the next moment you are in the heavens. One moment you may be in yourself, but the next moment you are in God. If you maintain this practice before God every morning, you will be filled after some time, and God’s word will dwell in you richly. Such reading of God’s Word, such gathering of manna, is indispensable to us. Many brothers and sisters are weak and unable to take the wilderness journey. We need to ask them, “Have you eaten anything?” They cannot walk because they have not eaten enough. Manna is gathered in the early morning. This is why we need to rise up a little earlier. We will not have any manna if we are late. We have to rise up early in the morning to labor in God’s Word.

D. Pray

In the early morning we should fellowship, praise, and gather the manna. We must also pray to the Lord. Psalms 63:1 [KJV] and 78:34 [KJV] both say that we should seek the Lord early. The prayer spoken of in the previous paragraph is a kind of blending prayer. But the prayer we are talking about here is more specific. After one fellowships, praises, and eats manna, he has strength and can present everything in prayer before God. Prayer surely requires much strength. One must first draw near to God early in the morning and be fed. Then he can set aside about half an hour or a quarter of an hour to pray for a few urgent things. He can pray for himself, for the church, or for the world. Of course, he can pray also in the afternoon or at night. But if he takes advantage of the fresh power he has gained, the power acquired in the early morning through fellowshipping with God and eating manna, he will receive greater support.

Every believer should do these four things conscientiously before the Lord early in the morning: fellowship with Him, praise Him, read the Bible, and pray to Him. Whether or not a person has done these four things in the morning is manifested in his walk during the day. George Müller confessed that the degree to which he was fed by the Lord in the morning determined his spiritual condition throughout the whole day. His spiritual condition for the day depended on his feeding before the Lord in the morning. Many Christians find themselves weak during the day because their mornings are ill spent. Of course, there are those who are so far ahead in their spiritual journey that they can experience the total separation of the spirit from the soul. Their outward man is broken, and they are not that easily shaken by anything. However, this is another matter altogether. New believers should learn to rise up early. Once they become loose in this, they become loose in everything, and everything will go wrong. There is a great difference between being nourished and not being nourished in the morning.

A very famous musician once said, “If I skip practicing for one day, I will notice it. If I skip practicing for two days, my friends will notice it. If I skip practicing for three days, my audience will notice it.” If this is true for practicing music, it is even more true for the spiritual lesson of rising up early. If we fail to have a good morning watch before God, we will know it. Those who are experienced in the Lord also will know it when they come into contact with us. They will know that we have not touched the spiritual source. From the very first day, new believers should strictly discipline themselves. Every morning they should rise up early to exercise this way before the Lord.

IV. THE PRACTICE OF EARLY RISING

Finally, we should speak a little about actual ways to implement this practice. How can we rise up early? We need to pay attention to a few things.

All early risers must have the habit of going to bed early. No one can stay up late and rise up early. This is like burning a candle at both ends.

Do not set too high a standard for rising. Some people want to rise up at three or four o’clock in the morning. When they find out that they cannot make it, they quit after a few days. It is better to take a moderate course. Five or six o’clock is a suitable time to get up. Get up when the sun is about to rise or has just risen. Always get up around sunrise. If one tries to get up too early, his practice may not last long. An unreasonably high standard will only result in a condemned conscience. Some people have set too high a standard for themselves. They get into problems with their family or their work. When they take hospitality at the homes of others, they get into problems with their hosts. This is not a profitable thing to do. Our standard should be reasonable. We do not advocate extremes. Do not set too high a standard for yourself. Before the Lord you should consider carefully the proper time for you to rise up. You should take into consideration your physical limitations as well as the environment. Set your standard accordingly and keep it.

You may face a little difficulty at the beginning. It is always easy the first and second day. But the third day is difficult. You will find it easy for the first few days. But after a few days, you will love the bed so much that you will not want to get up at all. This is especially true in winter. It takes a long time for us to build up a new habit. Perhaps you are used to getting up late, and your mind has been used to getting up late. But if you rise up early a few times, your mind will gradually adjust to getting up early. After you do this for a few days, you will not want to go back to sleep even if your mind is telling you to do so. In the beginning you will need to force yourself a little in order to rise up early. Before a habit is built up, you need to ask God for grace. Continue to ask until this habit is built up. Try to do this again and again. Give up your bed daily to rise up early. In the end you will rise up early spontaneously. You must build up this habit before God. You must not miss the grace of fellowship early in the morning.

A healthy person does not need more than eight hours of sleep. Do not think that you are an exception. Do not worry that early rising will affect your health. It may be your anxiety which is affecting your health. Many people love themselves too much and worry themselves to sickness. You may need ten or twelve hours of sleep if the doctor says that you are ill. But six to eight hours of sleep are sufficient for a normal person. However, do not go to the extreme. Maintain at least six to eight hours of sleep. We do not expect those who are sick to rise up early. If you are sick, it is all right for you to lie on your bed in the morning and read your Bible there. However, those who are not advised by doctors to stay in bed and who are not really sick should rise up early in the morning.

We hope those who are mature and weighty in the Lord will uphold this practice. The church should push the sluggard ones to go forward. They should be shaken up a little. We should usher the new believers into this great blessing. You should take every chance to ask the new ones, “What time do you get up every day?” After a few days, you have to ask them again, “What time did you get up this morning?” This kind of reminding should go on for at least a year into a person’s initial Christian life. After a year, you may still need to ask, “Brother, what time do you rise up now?” Ask the new believers whenever you see them. You need to go to them and render them some help in this matter. However, if we have not learned the lesson well before the Lord, it will be hard for us to do this to others. This is why we must first learn this lesson well ourselves.

Early rising should be a believer’s first habit among all habits. Giving thanks before meals is a habit. Meeting together on the Lord’s Day is also a habit. Rising up early is even more an essential habit. A new believer needs to build up this habit. It is unfortunate that some have been Christians for years and yet have never enjoyed the blessing of early rising. They have never enjoyed the grace of early rising. If we want to experience this grace, we have to learn this lesson well. If more brothers and sisters will come together to learn this lesson, and if everyone will rise up early in the morning, the church will grow. When one brother receives more light, the whole church will receive more shining. When everyone receives a little more light each day, the church as a whole will become richer. The church is poor today because too few people are receiving their supply from the Head. If everyone receives something from the Head, however little it may seem to be, the culmination of all the little portions will make the whole very rich.

We do not wish to see only a minority of people working in the church. We hope to see all the members rising up before the Lord. We hope to see the whole church rising up to receive God’s riches and grace. What one member receives from the Head becomes the profit of the whole Body. If every brother and sister takes this way, there will be many containers before God, and we will be richer and richer as the days go by. We hope that you will not consider early rising as a small matter. If we all learn to rise up early, and if we all maintain this habit, we will have a bright spiritual future ahead of us.

Over 30 years ago I read these lessons and put them to practice in my life.  This lesson was special to me.  I would go to work at 5:00AM and while waiting for the construction crew to arrive, I had my “morning watch” praying and singing unto the Lord.  It was a few years later when I was praying early in the morning that I was inspired to write this poem which became a song:

IN THE MORNING

In the morning, that’s when I meet my Savior

And then I His wondrous presence know.

In the morning I tell Him all my problems.

That’s when I to God’s own throne room go.

 

In the morning I bring my friends and loved ones

And each need I always leave Him there.

In the morning He answers through the Bible

As I spend this time with Him in prayer.

 

In the morning He shows me all His mercy

And forgives my sins from day to day.

In the morning He understands my heartaches

As I seek to walk with Him each day.

 

In the morning I bring my friends and loved ones

And each need I always leave Him there.

In the morning He answers through the Bible

As I spend this time with Him in prayer.

 

In the morning He fills my cup with blessings

And His love melts all my fears away.

In the morning we walk and talk together

As he listens to all that I say.

 

In the morning I bring my friends and loved ones

And each need I always leave Him there.

In the morning He answers through the Bible

As I spend this time with Him in prayer.

 

In the morning I sing to Him His praises

That have caused this sad heart now to sing.

In the morning my heart is broken often

As I   think how few lost souls I bring.

 

In the morning I bring my friends and loved ones

And each need I always leave Him there.

In the morning He answers through the Bible

As I spend this time with Him in prayer.

 

In the morning I hear Him whisper gently

That in time He’ll show me all His will.

In the morning that’s when He shows me simply

How “that day” His will I can fulfill.

 

In the morning I bring my friends and loved ones

And each need I always leave Him there.

In the morning He answers through the Bible

As I spend this time with Him in prayer.

 

In the morning He opens wide my vision

Of a world that’s dying now in sin.

In the morning He makes me want to tell them

How that they can have real peace in Him.

 

In the morning I bring my friends and loved ones

And each need I always leave Him there.

In the morning He answers through the Bible

As I spend this time with Him in prayer.  (Hear this song on the front page)

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Written originally by Watchman Nee in China during the Chinese revolution and died in a prison camp but these lessons have been the foundation of my life for 38 years.  The illustration was created by me after a study of the Greek word “eis” which means “into.”  David Williams – site Admin.

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