Jewish Persecution Drives the New Community to the Gentiles

Dallas Willard Part 5 of 10

A study of the book of Acts for a Sunday School class at the church where Dallas Willard and Richard Foster met. Exposition of Acts 6:8-8:40

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Dallas: Yes. Oh, well yes, that’s true. That’s true, but now I am referring here specifically to the Kingdom where you have a King and a government and all of these sorts of things.

Question: Inaudible

Dallas: Oh, yes, that’s right but ultimately that’s the Kingdom of God and that’s what . . . [he was interrupted]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: Would you hand those out, please? Now, excuse me once more, May. What did you say? [00:43]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: He sure did that.

Question: Inaudible

Dallas: Yes, he did do that. In their terms, He blasphemed. [00:55]

Comment: Inaudible [Laughter]

Dallas: Eventually one named Saul, right? Eventually, one named Saul.

Question:  Inaudible

Dallas: That’s right. Yes, uncircumcised ears. They want tot talk about uncircumcised sexual organs, but Peter really hit them where it hurt—“you have uncircumcised ears and you have uncircumcised hearts. You may brag about the mark of God elsewhere mark but where it matters. You Gentiles! You are Gentiles! That’s what he is saying to them. “You’re Gentiles, in ear and heart!” You Gentiles and he really lays it on them. [2:24]

I have handed out the outline now and as always, I urge you to take this as most provisional and at best simply a guide that you can argue with and quarrel with and I hope that each week you will take the outline home and work over it and see if you can get out of the passage as much as you can because as I‘ve said earlier, we can’t possibly in this short time that we have cover all the things that need to be covered.

Remember that Stephen was one of the deacons. The lesson today is on Stephen and Philip. They were appointed to what? To wait tables! To wait tables! And they were appointed to wait tables because that awful thing; racial egoism and pride had broken out in the new community and one of the sweetest things about that whole incident is the fact that if you look at the names, every one of the people appointed was from the aggrieved party. They are all Greek names and one was a proselyte and one wasn’t even a Greek Jew. When it says, “Greeks” there it means Jews from the nations. It doesn’t mean Greek nation and the last one there was a proselyte. That’s so beautiful because you can see how even though there was a problem, it seems to have arisen more or less unconsciously and once it was faced, they said, “Listen, select people from the aggrieved party and let them be judges in their own thoughts.” And Stephen and Philip were among those who were appointed to wait tables. [4:20]

Stephen was a powerful man and so was Philip—powerful in the power of God! He spoke with the people in Jerusalem in such a way that they couldn’t leave him alone and gradually they realized how desperately contrary to what they were doing what Stephen was saying was. So, they took ahold of it and they brought him before the elders or the religious court of their time and the charge that was made against him was that he would change the customs. [5:04]

Look at verses 11-15 of the 6th chapter (of Acts). This is a bad thing here he’s about to do. “Then they suborned men, which said, we have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. And they stirred up the people, . . .and they brought him before the council. And set up false witnesses.” In the 13th verse, “This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law.” Now, let’s see what those blasphemous words were. “For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place . . .” And see, he winds up right on their charge. He is answering their charge—this place.  [6:04]

Question: What place is that?

Dallas: That’s the temple. He winds up and he is answering their charge. He said, “This place which you charged me with saying, ‘Jesus will destroy’” is a place, which was built out of the will of God and used contrary to his will and shall change the customs which Moses delivered to us.”

So, when you read Stephen’s servant, you will want to remember that he is replying to that charge and he is saying, “You are the one who changed the customs, not I! This building, which was built, was built out of the will of God. It’s contrary to the nature of God. It’s contrary to the intention of God to the people of Israel—talk about changing the customs!” So, the point of the sermon is to stuff that charge down their throat and that’s what he proceeds to do. [5:58]

Now, quickly, let me just go over the case once again. We’ve gone over it some in discussion and you will see the outline here. Look at your little “a” there under “3”. It shows how God’s people have always been the outsiders, the rejected, the cast offs, which God has yet made victorious.  Now, I have given you some other references here to 1 Corinthians 4:13 and Lamentations 3:45.

The Greek word here is interesting. It’s a combination of “rubbing around”—rubbing around and if you want to get the offscourings of the earth—that’s what the King James says, “the offscourings of the earth.”  That’s what we are, this “they.” If you ever wash dishes and you remember what shows up at the bottom of the pan after you get done, that’s “offscourings.” And if you look at all of the respectable religion you see around you, that’s not offscourings, is it? [8:06]

You see that Stephen is lining up the people of God with the things that have been scoured off, rubbed off and he goes through and he takes the case of Abraham. Abraham—what was the first thing that was told him as far as we know? “Get out!” God said, “Get out! You can’t be an insider in this culture down here and be what I want you to be. I want you to go elsewhere.” Joseph rejected by his own family but God gave him triumph. Moses, rejected as a babe, rejected as a man, rejected as a prophet, rejected as a priest.

And then the second point of the sermon, he aligns his hearers with Jewish leaders with the long tradition of God-rejecters by pointing out that they have rejected the Messiah Himself. This, brothers and sisters, this is a masterpiece of what the seminaries call homiletics. It is a masterpiece. This man can see clearly his charge in that sermon and I don’t know how you could possibly have improved it. Upon the way, which he marshaled everything in his power to just drive that home so that no one could escape—no could escape. And when he got done, they took him and drug him over by the wall and threw him down the cliff and dropped boulders on him. If you read the King James here, it looks so nice and tame that you can’t think that it was anything like that. It says (in verse 54) “They heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and gnashed on him with their teeth.” See that? Nice people, hmmmm? [10:26]

Question: Were they reacting to the words?

Dallas: I am not for sure. I would have to check that out and see. Is there is any indication from other versions you are reading?

Question: Inaudible

Dallas: Yes, well, that’s quite possible but that would be it and you shouldn’t but it’s a beautiful figure isn’t it? And at a certain point when you are gnashing at people, it’s almost like, “oh no,” but boy when people gnash at me, I would just as soon they bite me. This business about words can never hurt me—Ha! Ha! Teeth and jaws can break your bones without even touching you. [11:17]

“They gnashed on him with their teeth.” Now, watch what happened. He, full of the Holy Spirit looked up steadfastly. That was one of the conditions of being a deacon. You had to have wisdom and full of the Holy Ghost and as they gnashed upon him, “looked up steadfastly into heaven and saw the Glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.”

Listen, you can’t do what Stephen did unless you have his vision. A lot of people wonder why they can’t do these kinds of things. They don’t have his vision. Hebrews 11 says Moses endured “as seeing him who was invisible.” If you don’t have this vision, you can’t do these things. But Stephen saw; he saw: and as he saw, he said, “Behold I see the Heavens open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

Now, these people who were listening knew exactly whom he was talking about and that constituted blasphemy. They have in the old law—there was provision for those who committed highhanded sin. A highhanded sin—you just took a person and you killed him right there and blasphemy was a high-handed sin. “Behold, I see the Heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord. And cast him out of the city . . .” [12:53]

Where was the city built? On a hill and in fact, it was not just a little hill. It was built with cliffs around, wasn’t it? That’s why it was built there. Why did they build cities in such positions? For defense, right? For defense. And if you look at Jerusalem, you will see. Now, we don’t know exactly where this happened but, you see, there are plenty of places where the walls and the cliffs are just precipitous—right straight down almost. When they cast him out of the city then, it’s not like putting him out the door. It’s like throwing him off the roof. The custom was when they took someone to do this to and Stephen wasn’t the only one this had ever happened to—they threw them down and if that didn’t kill them, they dropped boulders on them. “And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet whose name was Saul.” [13:54]

Old Saul. Saul, the killer—the murderer—and they stoned Stephen who called upon God saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit and he knelt down and cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge and when he had said this he fell asleep.” Isn’t that beautiful? He fell asleep. New Testament Christians don’t die. They go to sleep. Then, that sleep the Lord shall bring with them. They don’t die. They go to sleep.  “He that believeth on me, he that liveth and believeth on me shall never die.” Stephen fell asleep at the bottom of that cliff under a bunch of rocks. Beautiful! Praise the Lord! [15:01]

Question: Did he land on his feet or something?

Dallas: Did he what?

Question: He kneeled down?

Dallas: Well, apparently what happened was he lived over the fall and he got up and knelt down there as they stoned him and prayed. Others have comments? Noah, and then Dick.

Comments: Inaudible

Comment By Richard Foster:  I wanted to make a comment on—some people don’t understand why they were so vicious about this. The thing that Stephen was the first to articulate was that—other Christians understood this, I think but Stephen was the first to say it—was that Christianity was not going to be just a sect of Judaism. Everyone thought it could fit in nicely with the other sects of the Jewish religion and Stephen was the first to really say that it makes a complete break with what we understand, you see as a Jewish religion and this is why Luke makes a point of pointing out that Paul was there because this was a thing that Paul emphasized so much that the gospels opened up to ALL men—to Gentiles and Jews alike. And it took a long time even for the Christian community to get ahold of this idea—you know, Peter, James and the other Judaizers—and so that’s why when they really got ahold of this idea that Christianity could not be included in as just another one of the groups, you know that it was radically different. They knew that they had to get ride of him or it meant the destruction of the temple and the whole business . . . [17:03]

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas:  Yes, and I think the point is that they did not understand this, Bob and if you will observe Jesus’ saying. There is a passage I believe it’s in 16th chapter of John 7 or maybe it’s the 14th—well, anyway—it says, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12) They couldn’t bear to hear. That’s why they killed Stephen. Remember that there is a progression that always has to be observed. I want to talk to you a little bit more about that in just a moment but let’s continue the theme here, which Dick has so nicely brought out. [17:48]

Not only did they not understand, but also the work of God as it progressed now is to use the death of Stephen and the general persecution, which arose around it because the death of Stephen acted like some kind of appetizer. We find in these following verses that Saul “ravaged the church.” “ And Saul was consenting unto his death and at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. . . “ (Acts 8:1)

Now, you shall be my witnesses in Judea, Jerusalem, Samaria. OK? We are gonna make Samaria this morning. [Laughter] We will make the uttermost parts of the earth as we go along? Samaria? How did they get there? They got there by being driven. [18:43] Isn’t that characteristic? Isn’t that characteristic that God’s people do not understand. They don’t see ahead and this isn’t necessarily anything that’s—I think it isn’t always a matter of sin, of unwillingness. It is in a large measure just a matter of the lack of our capacities to understand and to grasp what is happening. We are just not very imaginative if you wish, especially when it comes to spiritual things. [19:14]

So, there arose a general persecution and the apostles stayed in Jerusalem but it seems like most of the others were scattered abroad; certainly some of the deacons were and certainly Philip was. “And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church . . .” If you are reading Barclay’s little commentaries along this, you will recall that in his commentary he points out that the word that is used here is the word used for a pack of dogs which will run a deer down and then just ravage that body or of wild hogs that will get into a field and root it up—just tear it to pieces—a very pictorial term. He made “havoc of the church.” “ . . . entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where wringing their hands.” That’s not what that says, is it? They went everywhere “preaching the word”—proclaiming the word! [20:22]

Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” And there is one thing that we know for sure—the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church in this way. You cannot stamp the church out. Satan can never beat the church by this kind of an attack and the world can’t either. That best strategy that the world and the devil has is to sort of slip in and get the church to join the world and the world to join the church. There are a million different ways in which that can be done and most of the ones which we rant and rave about aren’t the ways which are bothering us right now because that’s the way the strategy goes is to get our attention focused on one thing. It’s just like magic. We get our attention all wrapped up in one thing. You’ve got everybody looking at this hand and with this hand, you are doing who knows what? That’s the way the devil works. He gets us all wrapped up in jewelry or slavery or social rights or anything you can think of but he’s got his work going on at another level. But in any case, persecution will not do it. [21:44]

Now, Philip is one of the most remarkable characters we meet in the book of Acts. It was through Philip that the message was first given to Gentiles. As far as any record we have, it was through Philip and in this little lesson today, he goes to a number of a different groups. He goes to Samaritans. He goes to Ethiopians. He goes to Philistines. Three different ethnic groups he’s used to bring the message to.

First of all, he’s here with the despised Samaritans saved. Philip preaches Christ in the opening part here of the 8th chapter (of Acts) “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles, which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice came out of many that were possessed with them; and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city.” That’s the way it goes, isn’t it when the Lord comes on the scene and works His great joy. [23:03]

He’s been working around here recently and I’ve seen a lot of joy I’ve never seen before in this place. Oh, I’ll tell you I’ve seen some happy people around here recently because the Lord is doing something here. You just have “mercy drops” as the song goes—just mercy drops falling, the showers haven’t hit yet but there are some mercy drops getting in there and some happy people all around.

Comment: Inaudible

Dallas: Praise the Lord! And some people have been “making bold” to step out and do things, to go and pray for people. They put themselves out where God can bless them like Philip did.  Philip went and he preached and healed. This is the message which we find throughout the New Testament that health is not just a matter of the mind or of the body but that we are a whole person and these people, like people everywhere were born down with sicknesses of spirit and sicknesses of body and Philip brought deliverance. There was great joy in that city. It’s like with Jesus, wasn’t it? They would go in and say, “We never heard a man talk like this. We have never seen such things as this man has done.” That’s the work of God. [24:31]

There was a man named, Simon who got this crossed up a bit. It’s understandable and we oughtn’t to be too hard on Simon Magnus. Simon just misunderstood and listen when we get hard on Simon, we better remember all the people who misunderstand this thing today because Simon misunderstood. He saw the work of God going forward and he got it a little crossed up. He was converted apparently under Philip and this was a remarkable thing because he was, well, he was the chief leader in spiritual things, if you wish. I’ve used the term “witch doctor” for here in the outline but that has bad connotation. He was the chief spiritual leader of sorts in that part of the country and when he was converted, it was a remarkable thing indeed. Apparently, there was a genuine work done in his heart. [25:28]

Now, Simon was converted and the thing is going well and the apostles, which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God. We ought to put an exclamation point after that. Samaria had received the word of God? Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Can the Samaritan receive the word? Now the point was, the Samaritans had received the word of God without becoming proselytes, without coming into the Jewish religion in the appointed way. They had received the word of God. When they heard this, they sent Peter and John down. They couldn’t’ really assimilate this at a distance. They wanted someone who really was responsible to go down and look this thing over.

Now, when Peter and John came down, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost because the power of God had not taken over. They had been converted. They had many of them been healed. The power of God had been manifested but there was a lack. The power of God had not taken over the individual lives of those believers in the way that the plan, the gift was to come as Peter said, “Unto you and your children, unto as many as the Lord our God shall call.” It hadn’t taken over. [27:08]

It’s interesting isn’t it that Peter and John were concerned about this. Peter and John were not the only ones and you remember the passage in the 19th chapter of Acts which you’ve been reading I trust where Paul comes to Ephesus and he speaks with people and he says, “Have you received the Baptism of the Spirit? They say, “We haven’t so much as heard of a Holy Spirit.” YOU know there are people in the churches today who haven’t even heard of a Holy Spirit. I suppose the majority of people if you just take the churches in general which are called by the way of Christ, they have not only haven’t heard of this, they haven’t heard of much of anything about the power of God; of healing. They haven’t heard of that.  They think I guess that Christianity is another one of those ways where you sort of grit your teeth and bare it until you are dead and that’s it. They don’t understand that it is a way of deliverance in spirit and in body, as well as a kind of heavenly policy to get into heaven when you die. [28:20]

So, when they came to Samaria, apparently, one of the first things they did was take care of this obvious lack in the believers—“for as yet (the 16th verse says) he was fallen upon none of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.” I want to talk to you about that verse and in particular, I want to talk to you about the “laying on of hands.” As we conclude this lesson today, I would like to deal a little bit more with Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch maybe next Sunday but I would like to take our remaining few moments to just talk about the “laying on of hands.”

If you will look with me briefly at the 6th chapter of Hebrews, you will find here a teaching about the elements—the elements of the way. The writer of the book of Hebrews—whoever it was—is discussing with these people the problem of their childhood, their childishness in the spirit and how it’s necessary to go on to more rigorous, more meaty, more heavy things. In the process of doing it, he gives us a beautiful sketch of the progression of Christian experience as it was taught to the early church. Now, watch. [30:01]

Opening verse of the 6th chapter—“Therefore, leaving the (elements)—the principles (the beginnings, the arcades) of the doctrine of Christ, let us go unto completion, not laying again the foundation (now, here are the firm foundations) of one, repentance from dead works, that’s first; second, of faith towards God.” Now those are the two sides of the beginning coin—repentance and faith. “ . . . Baptism and the laying on of hands, and a resurrection from the dead and our eternal judgment.” [30:45]

Now that is the teaching of how Christian experience was to progress from beginning and the laying on of hands was an all important part of that progression because in the laying on of hands there was communicated the power by which to live the life of God in the Spirit. I just really don’t know how to stress this point out. I don’t know how to clear it up sufficiently. It has been so abused. For example, there are traditions in the Christian church, which have made exactly the same mistake of Simon Magnus.

Simon Magnus thought that the power of God could number one, be restricted and then made merchandise of because if you can’t restrict something, you can’t make merchandise out of it.  I mean if cars are growing on every tree, no one is going to make much money selling them, right? The mistake of Simon Magnus was if you could corner the Holy Spirit and then you could make a market. You could make merchandise out of it.

There are traditions today, which hold that same thing—that the power of God is past on by the laying on of hands within the tradition and no one outside of that can have it. About the only thing that the laying on of hands has been able to attain generally in the church for is ordination. Nearly all of the churches retain this; where they practice ordination, they practice lying on of hands. There are exceptions but there are very few and most of them retain that practice of laying on of hands at that time. But you see that doesn’t do most people any good because the people who lay on the hands don’t have anything to transmit. [32:53]

Please, I am not making fun of this. It is humorous and I laugh too about it but for example, when I was ordained, dear men laid hands on me and I knew that they loved me and I knew that it was in a way very good but it didn’t make any difference to me beyond that. But there were other occasions, which did and other people, which did and it is so important for us to understand the spiritual law of contact and transmittal. The laying on of hands is an important—I should say, indispensible part of the fellowship of the body of Christ.

Now, the Holy Spirit came upon some people without it, not only in the New Testament but afterwards. D. L. Moody was walking the streets of New York and the Holy Spirit came upon him in such a way that he had to run to a friend’s house and beat on his door and say, “Can I have a room where I can be alone?” And for hours, it just swept over him and he was never the same again. He went out and preached the same sermons—sermons, which before had been greeted with yawns and sleepy eyes, and thousands upon thousands of people were just turned around because the Spirit of God was on him. He was no different otherwise, even though they’d heard it all. The Spirit of God came upon him and that’s fine. There are these unusual things. The spirit came at first when Peter was with Cornelius. There was no laying on of hands as far as we can tell.  As he spoke with them the spirit fell and in that occasion, they spoke in other tongues. Other times they didn’t. Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t. [34:54]

But what I am saying is that the regular, ordinary course of life in the body of Christ is to proceed by the law of compact and transmittal. When the woman who had an issue of blood for many years came through the crowd, what did she do?  She touched Jesus. Do you remember Jesus turned to them and He felt that, in the Old King James here is so bad again, it says, “virtue had gone out of Him.” My word, what would you have imagined that in? The word there is “dunamis,” power on high. Ye shall receive “dunamis” after the Holy Spirit has come.  That was what went out of Him. That’s what’s supposed to go out of us. [35:43]

We are to have that in us and we are to lay hands upon one another and transmit it. Now Paul said—and not just applying to ordination—“lay hands on no man suddenly.” This is not the sort of thing, which you just go skipping back and laying hands on someone.  [Laughter] No, no! No, no! Listen, this is to be done with the most complete sobriety and consciousness of the leading and purpose of God in the lives of people. See, what Simon Magnus missed was—we don’t use the power of God for our own purposes.  We don’t use it for our own purposes. It’s for God’s purposes and God does not propose to heal everyone. He doesn’t propose to do anything.

On the other side, there are many people whom He would heal “but to unbelief.” When Jesus, for example went home to His people, you remember that terrible phrase, “He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” Their unbelief! And in the bodies of the church today, there are many people who are dying inwardly and outwardly, from cramps, of knots, of the spirit and of the body and of the mind because they simply will not seek out the ministers of God and say to them very simply, “Pray for me. Pray over me.” [37:29]

Oh, listen it’s almost blasphemous the way we say to one another, “Pray for me.” It shows so clearly we don’t know what we are talking about. You want to be prayed for, don’t, please don’t use this nice little social way of just saying, “Pray for me, brother.” Go to the person whom you wish to pray for, sit down with them, take time and lay your burden before them and pray there. Pray there.  And if God is ministering through people and there are people in this group through whom He would minster who haven’t made the beginnings of the moves to allow it. They are scared. Suppose Doc Sellars comes to me and says, “I want you to pray over me that such and such will be dealt with.” And suppose there are a lot of ways this could happen from here and I am concerned to go into them even though we are pressed for time. One thing I can do is say, “Well, he asked me to pray for him so I’ll pray for him.” That’s wrong. The mere fact that he said, “Pray for me” is no reason to pray. In order to know whether or not I ought to pray for this thing then I have to sit down with Doc, he has to sit down with me and we have to go into prayer. [38:55]

I remember years ago, Jane and I were talking with a dear brother and he shocked my shoes off almost. He said he went to the house of a man who had a sick child, very desperately sick; and they wanted him to pray. The way he shocked me was, he told me simply what he asked them. He said to them, “Why do you want me to pray?” Just so he can get well? So he won’t have any more trouble? So it won’t be a burden for him. That’s not a good reason! There is only one reason for praying and that’s to honor God.

But you see, if I go into these things and then one final thing may defeat me. I may get to thinking, “Well, what if I pray over Doc and nothing happens? What is that going to make me look like?” [39:55]

Now that’s one of the final adversaries we have to defeat and we have to get to the point where we understand it doesn’t matter what I look like. I am not a magician. I am not a juggler and if I pray and something doesn’t happen, it’s not like me juggling and dropping the ball. If I’m doing this work, it is the work of God and my only business is to go and look and where I feel the leading of God to pray over that person, and very often, I have used the method of transmittal by contact.  It is a spiritual law. Now like all spiritual laws it has its negative side and we use the negative side all the time. If you are filled with gloom and you come around someone, the closer you get to them, the more they are going to be filled with gloom. That law works all of the time. Do you remember old Barnabas what was he called? “The son of encouragement.” He was so full of it [41:11] he just laid his hands on people and they would just be filled with encouragement. We could use a little of that couldn’t we? Encouragement. That law of transmittal works on them. When God is in the ministry of a woman and a man [41:32] that person is to open their lives to others and to pray and let flow the power of God which is in them. Whether it comes out in the speaking of tongues or the healing of bodies or the giving of prophecies or whatever it may be, that’s beside the point.

One thing we know, when this happens, the fruit of the Spirit is going to be present. The gifts may vary for the purposes of God but the fruit of the Spirit is going to be present and there is going to be healing done. If you want healing to come into the hearts and lives of the people in this group, it’s just “as simple as falling off the log backwards,” we used to say. It’s just as simple as that. Once you to come to the point where your ego is gone and where you understand that you are to be a transmitter of God’s power for the blessing of others [42:37]

You know why we can’t pray for others? It’s because we don’t love them. And prayer is an act of love. We can’t transmit love to others because it doesn’t fill us. We’re filled with hostility. We are filled with defensiveness. We are filled with anxiety and we transmit that, and no wonder we wind up in such a confused mess. [42:57]

There are people around us who can help us and then we can help other people and we can get beyond this stage where we’re forever saying, “Well, I know someone else who can help.” That’s not all bad but there ought to be some time, somewhere where we can look at a person honestly and say, “I can help you. I can help you.” Maybe not everyone: I am sure not everyone. Nobody can help everyone but there is to be a time in the life of the believer when because of the spiritual possessions which may be deposited in his heart he can help others and the law of contact and transmittal, the laying on of hands is one of the most important parts. Now, don’t you make a law out of it and don’t you make a ritual out of it. It’s not to be that and that’s where we always fail – we keep getting some little piddling thing and we say, “That’s it” and we try to slap everyone with it. [44:01]

Life in the Spirit is not like that. It’s another legalism and always brings death. The Spirit brings life and they should be free to not only lay hands upon people and prayer but also to keep your hands off of them and pray; there is a time for that. The work of God goes forward as we draw near to Him and as we fill ourselves with blessing and then we communicate that blessing.

Let’s pray together. “Blessed Holy Spirit, come into our lives and make every valley to be exalted, every hill to be made plain, all of the rough places smooth and the crooked places straight so that Thy power can flow through us. Lord, forgive us for our uncircumcised ears and perform the operations, which are appropriate. Make us humble and loving ministers of Thy grace and Thy power on behalf of Jesus, we pray. Amen! [45:41]

Listen to all parts in this Studies in the Book of Apostolic Acts: Journey in the Spiritual Unknown series